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1 Then began Eliphaz the Temanite, and said:
2 Is a man profitable unto God?
No, indeed! the intelligent man is profitable to himself.
3 Hath the Almighty any profit if thou art righteous,
Or gain if thou strivest to walk uprightly?
4 Will He reprove thee for thy fear of God,
Will He go with thee into judgment?
5 Is not thy wickedness great,
Thine iniquities infinite?
The verb סכן , in the signification to be profitable, is peculiar to the book of Job (although also סכן and סכנת elsewhere, according to its primary signification, does not differ from מועיל מועילה , by which it is explained by Kimchi); the correct development of the notion of this verb is to be perceived from the Hiph., which occurs in Job 21:21 in this speech of Eliphaz (vid., Ges. Thes.): it signifies originally, like שׁכן , Arab. skn , to rest, dwell, especially to dwell beside one another, then to become accustomed to one another (comp. שׁכן , a neighbour, and Arab. sakanun , a friend, confidant), and to assist one another, to be serviceable, to be profitable; we can say both סכנתּי , I have profit, Job 34:9, and סכן , it is profitable, Job 15:3; Job 35:3, here twice with a personal subj., and first followed by ל , then with the על usual also elsewhere in later prose (e.g., טוב על , 1 Chronicles 13:2, comp. supra, Job 10:3, to be pleasant) and poetry, which gladly adopts Aramaisms (as here and Psalms 16:6, שׁפר על , well-pleased), instead of ל , whence here עלימו , as Job 20:23, pathetic for עליו . The question, which is intended as a negative, is followed by the negative answer (which establishes its negative meaning) with כּי משׂכּיל is, like Psalms 14:2, the intelligent, who wills and does what is good, with an insight into the nature of the extremes in morality, as in Proverbs 1:3 independent morality which rests not merely on blind custom is called מוסר השׂכל היה חפץ ל , it is to the interest of any one (different from 1 Samuel 15:22, vid., on Job 21:21), and היה בצע ל , it is to the gain of any one (prop. the act of cutting, cutting off, i.e., what one tears in pieces), follow as synonyms of סכן . On the Aramaizing doubling of the first radical in the Hiph. תתּם (instead of תתם ), vid., Ges. §67, rem. 8, comp. 3. It is translated an lucrum ( ei) si integras facias vias tuas . The meaning of the whole strophe is mainly determined according to the rendering of המיּראתך (like המבינתך , Job 39:26, with Dechî, and as an exception with Munach, not removed to the place of the Metheg; vid., Psalter, ii. 491, Anm. 1). If the suff. is taken objectively (from fear of thee), e.g., Hirz., we have the following line of thought: God is neither benefited by human virtue nor injured by human sin, so that when He corrects the sinner He is turning danger from himself; He neither rewards the godly because He is benefited by his piety, nor punishes the sinner because by his sinning he threatens Him with injury. Since, therefore, if God chastises a man, the reason of it is not to be found in any selfish purpose of God, it must be in the sin of the man, which is on its own account worthy of punishment. But the logical relation in which Job 22:5 stands to Job 22:4 does not suit this: perhaps from fear of thee ... ? no, rather because of thy many and great sins! Hahn is more just to this relation when he explains: “God has no personal profit to expect from man, so that, somewhat from fear, to prevent him from being injurious, He should have any occasion to torment him with sufferings unjustly.” But if the personal profit, which is denied, is one that grows out of the piety of the man, the personal harm, which is denied as one which God by punishment will keep far from Himself, is to be thought of as growing out of the sin of the man; and the logical relation of Job 22:5 to Job 22:4 is not suited to this, for. Job 22:5 assigns the reason of the chastisement to the sin, and denies, as it runs, not merely any motive whatever in connection with the sin, but that the reason can lie in the opposite of sin, as it appears according to Job's assertion that, although guiltless, he is still suffering from the wrath of God.
Thus, then, the suff. of המיראתך is to be taken subjectively: on account of thy fear of God, as Eliphaz has used יראתך twice already, Job 4:6; Job 15:4. By this subjective rendering Job 22:4 and Job 22:5 form a true antithesis: Does God perhaps punish thee on account of thy fear of God? Does He go (on that account) with thee into judgment? No (it would be absurd to suppose that); therefore thy wickedness must be great (in proportion to the greatness of thy suffering), and thy misdeeds infinitely many. If we now look at what precedes, we shall have to put aside the thought drawn into Job 22:2 and Job 22:3 by Ewald (and also by Hahn): whether God, perhaps with the purpose of gaining greater advantage from piety, seeks to raise it by unjustly decreed suffering; for this thought has nothing to indicate it, and is indeed certainly false, but on account of the force of truth which lies in it (there is a decreeing of suffering for the godly to raise their piety) is only perplexing.
First of all, we must inquire how it is that Eliphaz begins his speech thus. All the exhortations to penitence in which the three exhaust themselves, rebound from Job without affecting him. Even Eliphaz, the oldest among them, full of a lofty, almost prophetic consciousness, has with the utmost solicitude allured and terrified him, but in vain. And it is the cause of God which he brings against him, or rather his own well-being that he seeks, without making an impression upon him. Then he reminds him that God is in Himself the all-sufficient One; that no advantage accrues to Him from human uprightness, since His nature, existing before and transcending all created things, can suffer neither diminution nor increase from the creature; that Job therefore, since he remains inaccessible to that well-meant call to penitent humiliation, has refused not to benefit Him, but himself; or, what is the reverse side of this thought (which is not, however, expressed), that he does no injury to Him, only to himself. And yet in what except in Job's sin should this decree of suffering have its ground? If it is a self-contradiction that God should chastise a man because he fears Him, there must be sin on the side of Job; and indeed, since the nature of the sin is to be measured according to the nature of the suffering, great and measureless sin. This logical necessity Eliphaz now regards as real, without further investigation, by opening out this bundle of sins in the next strophe, and reproaching Job directly with that which Zophar, Job 20:19-21, aiming at Job, has said of the רשׁע . In the next strophe he continues, with כי explic.:
The man of the arm, זרוע , is in Eliphaz' mind Job himself. He has by degrees acquired the territory far and wide for himself, by having brought down the rightful possessors by open violence (Job 20:19), or even by cunning and unfeeling practices, and is not deterred by any threat of a curse (Job 15:28): לו הארץ , he looked upon it as his, and his it must become; and since with his possessions his authority increased, he planted himself firmly in it, filled it out alone, like a stout fellow who takes the room of all others away. Umbr., Hahn, and others think Job's partiality for power and rank is described in Job 22:8; but both assertions read straightforward, without any intimation of co-operation. The address is here only suspended, in order to describe the man as he was and is. The all-absorbing love of self regulated his dealings. In possession of the highest power and highest rank, he was not easy of access. Widows and orphans, that they might not perish, were obliged to turn suppliantly to him. But the widows he chased away with empty hands, and the arms of the orphans were crushed. From the address a turn is also here taken to an objective utterance turned from the person addressed, intended however for him; the construction is like מצות יעכל , unleavened bread is eaten, Exodus 13:7, according to Ew. §295, b. The arms are not conceived of as stretched out for help (which would rather be ידי ), nor as demanding back their perverted right, but the crushing of the arms, as Psalms 37:17; Ezekiel 30:22, and frequently implies a total destruction of every power, support, and help, after the analogy of the Arabic phrase compared by Ges. in his Thes. pp. 268 b, 433 b. The arm, זרוע (Arab. ḏirâ‛ , oftener ‛aḍud or sâ‛id ), signifies power, Job 40:9, Psalms 57:1-11:16; force and violence, Job 22:8, Job 35:9; self-help, and help from without, Psalms 83:9 (comp. Psalms 44:4). Whatever the orphans possessed of goods, honour, and help still available, is not merely broken, it is beaten into fragments.
10 Therefore snares are round about thee,
And fear terrifieth thee suddenly;
11 Or percievest thou not the darkness,
And the overflow of waters, which covereth thee?
On account of this inhuman mode of action by which he has challenged the punishment of justice, snares are round about him (comp. Bildad's picture of this fate of the evil-doer, Job 18:8-10), destruction encompasses him on every side, so that he sees no way out, and must without any escape succumb to it. And the approaching ruin makes itself known to him time after time by terrors which come suddenly upon him and disconcert him; so that his outward circumstances being deranged and his mind discomposed, he has already in anticipation to taste that which is before him. In Job 22:11, לא תראה is by no means to be taken as an eventual circumstantial clause, whether it is translated affirmatively: or darkness (covers thee), that thou canst not see; or interrogatively: or does darkness (surround thee), that thou seest not? In both cases the verb in the principal clause is wanting; apart from the new turn, which או introduces, being none, it would then have to be explained with Löwenthal: or has the habit of sinning already so dulled thy feeling and darkened thine eye, that thou canst not perceive the enormity of thy transgression? But this is a meaning forced from the words which they are not capable of; it must have been at least או חשׁך בּעדך , or something similar. Since או חשׁך (to be accented without Makkeph with Mûnach, Dechî) cannot form a principal clause of itself, תראה is without doubt the verb belonging to it: or ( או as Job 16:3) seest thou not darkness? Because, according to his preceding speeches, Job does not question the magnitude of his sufferings, but acknowledges them in all their fearfulness; therefore Hahn believes it must be explained: or shouldst thou really not be willing to see thy sins, which encompass thee as thick dark clouds, which cover thee as floods of water? The two figures, however, can only be understood of the destruction which entirely shrouds Job in darkness, and threatens to drown him. But destruction, in the sense in which Eliphaz asks if Job does not see it, is certainly intended differently to what it was in Job's complaints. Job complains of it as being unmerited, and therefore mysterious; Eliphaz, on the other hand, is desirous that he should open his eyes that he may perceive in this darkness of sorrow, this flood of suffering, the well-deserved punishment of his heinous sins, and anticipate the worst by penitence. לא תכסּךּ is a relative clause, and belongs logically also to חשׁך , comp. Isaiah 60:2, where שׁפעת is also found in Job 22:6 (from שׁפע , abundare ; comp. Arab. šf‛ , ספק , Job 20:22). Eliphaz now insinuates that Job denies the special providence of God, because he doubts the exceptionless, just government of God. In the second strophe he has explained his affliction as the result of his uncharitableness; now he explains it as the result of his unbelief, which is now become manifest.
12 Is not Eloah high as the heavens?
See but the head of the stars, how exalted!
13 So then thou thinkest: “What doth God know?
Can He judge through the thick cloud?
14 Clouds veil Him that He seeth not,
And in the vault of heaven He walketh at His pleasure.”
Because Job has denied the distribution of worldly fortune, of outward prosperity and adversity, according to the law of the justice that recompenses like for like, Eliphaz charges him with that unbelief often mentioned in the Psalms (Psalms 73:11; Psalms 94:7; comp. Isaiah 29:15; Ezekiel 8:12), which denies to the God in heaven, as Epicurus did to the gods who lead a blessed life in the spaces between the worlds, a knowledge of earthly things, and therefore the preliminary condition for a right comprehension of them. The mode of expression here is altogether peculiar. גּבהּ שׁמים is not acc. loci, as the like accusatives in combination with the verb שׁכן , Isaiah 57:15, may be taken: the substantival clause would lead one to expect בּגבהּ , or better בּגבהי (Job 11:8); it is rather (similar to Job 11:8) nomin. praedicati: Eloah is the height of the heavens = heaven-high, as high as the heavens, therefore certainly highly, and indeed very highly, exalted above this earth. In this sense it is continued with Waw explic.: and behold (= behold then) the head of the stars, that, or how ( כּי as in Genesis 49:15; 1 Samuel 14:29, quod = quam ) exalted they are. וּראה has Asla ( Kadma) in correct texts, and רמו is written רמּוּ ( râmmu ) with a so-called Dag. affectuosum (Olsh. §83, b). It may be received as certain that ראשׁ , the head ( vertex), beside ראה (not ספר ), does not signify the sum (Aben-Ezra). But it is questionable whether the genitive that follows ראשׁ is gen. partitivus: the highest among the stars (Ew., Hirz., Schlottm.), or gen. epexegeticus: the head, i.e., (in relation to the rest of the universe) the height, which is formed by the stars, or even which they occupy (Ges. coelum stellatum); the partitive rendering is to be preferred, for the Semitic perception recognises, as the plural שׁמים implies, nearer and more distant celestial spheres. The expression “head of the stars” is therefore somewhat like fastigium coeli (the extreme height, i.e., the middle of the vault of heaven), or culmen aereum (of the aether separating the strata of air above); the summit of the stars rising up into the extremest spheres is intended (we should say: the fixed stars, or to use a still more modern expression, the milky way), as also the רמו naturally refers to ראשׁ כוכבים as one notion ( summitas astrorum = summa astra).
The connection of what follows with Waw is not adversative (Hirz., Ew., and others: and yet thou speakest), it is rather consecutive (Hahn: and since thou speakest; better: and in consequence of this thou speakest; or: thus speakest thou, thinkest thou then). The undeniable truth that God is exalted, and indeed absolute in His exaltation, is misapplied by Job to the false conclusion: what does God know, or (since the perf. in interrogative sentences frequently corresponds to the Latin conjunctive, vid., on Psalms 11:3) how should God know, or take knowledge, i.e., of anything that happens on earth? In Job 22:13 the potential takes the place of this modal perfect: can He rule judicially behind the dark clouds, i.e., over the world below from which He is shut out? בּעד (of like verbal origin with the Arab. b‛da , post, prop. distance, separation, succession, but of wider use) signifies here, as in Job 1:10; Job 9:7, behind, pone, with the secondary notion of being encompassed or covered by that which shuts off. Far from having an unlimited view of everything earthly from His absolute height, it is veiled from His by the clouds, so that He sees not what occurs here below, and unconcerned about it He walks the circle of the heavens (that which vaults the earth, the inhabitants of which seem to Him, according to Isaiah 40:22, as grasshoppers); התלּך is here, after the analogy of Kal, joined with the accus. of the way over which He walks at His pleasure: orbem coelum obambulat . By such unworthy views of the Deity, Job puts himself on a par with the godless race that was swept away by the flood in ancient days, without allowing himself to be warned by this example of punishment.
15 Wilt thou observe the way of the ancient world,
Which evil men have trodden,
16 Who were withered up before their time,
Their foundation was poured out as a stream,
17 Who said unto God: Depart from us!
And what can the Almighty do to them?
18 And notwithstanding He had filled their houses with good-
The counsel of the wicked be far from me!
While in Psalms 139:24 דרך עולם prospectively signifies a way of eternal duration (comp. Ezekiel 26:20, עם עולם , of the people who sleep the interminably long sleep of the grave), ארח עולם signifies here retrospectively the way of the ancient world, but not, as in Jeremiah 6:16; Jeremiah 18:15, the way of thinking and acting of the pious forefathers which put their posterity to shame, but of a godless race of the ancient world which stands out as a terrible example to posterity. Eliphaz asks if Job will observe, i.e., keep ( שׁמר as in Psalms 18:22), this way trodden by people ( מתי , comp. אנשׁי , Job 34:36) of wickedness. Those worthless ones were withered up, i.e., forcibly seized and crushed, ולא־עת , when it was not yet time ( ולא after the manner of a circumstantial clause: quum nondum , as Psalms 139:16), i.e., when according to God's creative order their time was not yet come. On קמּטוּ ,
(Note: This קמטו , according to the Masora, is the middle word of the book of Job ( חצי הספר ).)
vid., on Job 16:8; lxx correctly, συνελήφθησαν ἄωροι , nevertheless συλλαμβάνειν is too feeble as a translation of קמט ; for as Arab. qbṣ signifies to take with the tip of the finer, whereas Arab. qbḍ signifies to take with the whole bent hand, so קמט , in conformity to the dull, emphatic final consonant, signifies “to bind firmly together.” In Job 22:16 יוּצק is not perf. Pual for יצּק (Ew. §83, b), for this exchange, contrary to the law of vowels, of the sharp form with the lengthened form is without example; it must at least have been written יוּצּק (comp. Judges 18:29). It is fut. Hoph., which, according to Job 11:15, might be יצּק ; here, however, it is with a resolving, not assimilation, of the Jod, as in Leviticus 21:10. The fut. has the signification of the imperfect which it acquires in an historic connection. It is not to be translated: their place became a stream which has flowed away (Hirz.), for the היה which would be required by such an interpretation could not be omitted; also not: flumen effusum est in fundamentum eorum (Rosenm., Hahn, and others), which would be ליסודם , and would still be very liable to be misunderstood; also not: whose foundation was a poured-out stream (Umbr., Olsh.), for then there would be one attributive clause inserted in the other; but: their solid ground became fluid like a stream (Ew., Hlgst., Schlottm.), so that נהר , after the analogy of the verbs with two accusative, Ges. §139, 2, is a so-called second acc. of the obj. which by the passive becomes a nominative (comp. Job 28:2), although it might also be an apposition of the following subj. placed first: a stream (as such, like such a one) their solid ground was brought into a river; the ground on which they and their habitations stood was placed under water and floated away: without doubt the flood is intended; reference to this perfectly accords with the patriarchal pre-and extra-Israelitish standpoint of the book of Job; and the generation of the time of the flood ( דור המבול ) is accounted in the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament as a paragon of godlessness, the contemporaries of Noah are the απειθοῦντες , סוררים , κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν (comp. 1 Peter 3:20 with Psalms 68:19).
Accordingly they are now here also further described (Job 22:17) as those who said to God, “Depart from us,” and what could the Almighty do to them ( למו instead of לנוּ , which was to be expected, since, as in Job 19:28, there is a change from the oratio directa to obliqua )! Olshausen explains with Hahn: “with respect to what thou sayest: and what then does the Almighty do to them (for it)? He fills their houses with prosperity, while the counsel of the wicked is far from me (notwithstanding I am unfortunate).” But this explanation is as forced (since ומה without a אמרת or תאמר standing with it is taken as the word of Job) as it is contrary to the syntax (since the circumstantial clause with והוא is not recognised, and on the other hand ועצת וגו , instead of which it ought at least to have been וּממּנּי וגו , is regarded as such an one). No indeed, just this is an exceedingly powerful effect, that Eliphaz describes those godless ones who dismiss God with סור ממנו , to whom, according to Job's assertion, Job 21:13., undimmed prosperity is portioned out, by referring to a memorable fact as that which has fallen under the strict judgment of God; and that with the very same words with which Job, Job 21:16, declines communion with such prosperous evil-doers: “the counsel of the wicked be far from me,” he will have nothing more to do, not with the wicked alone, but, with a side glance at Job, even with those who place themselves on a level with them by a denial of the just government of God in the world. פּעל ל , as the following circumstantial clause shows, is intended like Psalms 68:29, comp. Job 31:20; Isaiah 26:12: how can the Almighty then help or profit them? Thus they asked, while He had filled their houses with wealth - Eliphaz will have nothing to do with this contemptible misconstruction of the God who proves himself so kind to those who dwell below on the earth, but who, though He is rewarded with ingratitude, is so just. The truly godly are not terrified like Job 17:8, that retributive justice is not to be found in God's government of the world; on the contrary, they rejoice over its actual manifestation in their own case, which makes them free, and therefore so joyous.
19 The righteous see it and rejoice,
And the innocent mock at them:
20 “Verily our opponent is destroyed,
And the fire hath devoured their abundance.”
This thought corresponds to that expressed as a wish, hope, or anticipation at the close of many of the Psalms, that the retributive justice of God, though we may have to wait a long time for it, becomes at length the more gloriously manifest to the joy of those hitherto innocently persecuted, Psalms 58:11. The obj. of יראוּ , as in Psalms 107:42, is this its manifestation. למו is not an ethical dative, as in Psalms 80:7, but as in Psalms 2:4 refers to the ungodly whose mocking pride comes to such an ignominious end. What follow in Job 22:20 are the words of the godly; the introductory לאמר is wanting, as e.g., Psalms 2:3. אם־לא can signify neither si non , as Job 9:24; Job 24:25; Job 31:31, nor annon , as in a disjunctive question, Job 17:2; Job 30:25; it is affirmative, as Job 1:11; Job 2:5; Job 31:36 - an Amen to God's peremptory judgment. On נכחד (he is drawn away, put aside, become annulled), vid., supra, p. 398. קימנוּ (for which Aben-Ezra is also acquainted with the reading קימנוּ with קמץ קטן , i.e., צירי ) has a pausal â springing from ê, as Job 20:27, מתקוממה for מתקוממה ; Ruth 3:2, לרמותנו ; Isaiah 47:10, ראני (together with the reading ראני , comp. 1 Chronicles 12:17, לרמותני ). The form קים is remarkable; it may be more readily taken as part. pass. (like שׂים , positus) than as nom. infin. (the act of raising for those who raise themselves); perhaps the original text had קמינו קמינוּ ). יתרם is no more to be translated their remnant (Hirz.) here than in Psalms 17:14, at least not in the sense of Exodus 23:11; that which exceeds the necessity is intended, their surplus, their riches. It is said of Job in b. Megilla, 28 a: איוב ותרן בממוניה הוה , he was extravagant ( prodigus) with his property. The fire devouring the wealth of the godless is an allusion to the misfortune which has befallen him.
After this terrible picture, Eliphaz turns to the exhortation of him who may be now perhaps become ripe for repentance.
If he return to the Almighty ( שׁוּב עד as freq., e.g., Isaiah 19:22, comp. Isaiah 45:24, instead of the otherwise usual שׁוב אל , of thorough and complete conversion), he will be built up again, by his former prosperity being again raised from its ruins. בּנה , to build, always according to the connection, has at one time the idea of building round about, continuing to build, or finishing building (vid., on Job 20:19); at another of building up again (Job 12:14; Isaiah 58:12), referred to persons, the idea of increasing prosperity (Malachi 3:15), or of the restoration of ruined prosperity (Jeremiah 24:6; Jeremiah 33:7), here in the latter sense. The promissory תּבּנה is surrounded by conditional clauses, for Job 22:23 (comp. Job 11:14) is a second conditional clause still under the government of אם , which is added for embellishment; it opens the statement of that in which penitence must be manifested, if it is to be thorough. The lxx translates ἐὰν δὲ ἐπιστραφῇς καὶ ταπεινώσῃς , i.e., תּענה , which Ewald considers as the original; the omission of the אם (which the poet otherwise in such connections has formerly heaped up, e.g., Job 8:5., Job 11:13) is certainly inconvenient. And yet we should not on that account like to give up the figure indicated in תבנה , which is so beautiful and so suited to our poet. The statement advanced in the latter conditional clause is then continued in Job 22:24 in an independent imperative clause, which the old versions regard as a promise instead of exhortation, and therefore grossly misinterpret. The Targ. translates: and place on the dust a strong city (i.e., thou shalt then, where there is now nothing but dust, raise up such), as if בּצר could be equivalent to בּצּרון or מבצר , - a rendering to which Saadia at least gives a turn which accords with the connection: "regard the stronghold (Arab. 'l - ḥṣn ) as dust, and account as the stones of the valleys the gold of Ophir;” better than Eichhorn: “pull down thy stronghold of violence, and demolish ( הפיר ) the castles of thy valleys.” On the other hand, Gecatilia, who understands בצר proportionately more correctly of treasures, translates it as a promise: so shalt thou inherit treasures (Arab. dchâyr ) more numerous than dust, and gold ore (Arab. tbr' ) (more than) the stones of the valleys; and again also Rosenm. ( repones prae pulvere argentum ) and Welte interpret Job 22:24 as a promise; whereas other expositors, who are true to the imperative שׁית , explain שׁית ni aestimare , and על־עפר pulveris instar (Grot., Cocc., Schult., Dathe, Umbr.), by falsely assigning to על here, as to ל elsewhere, a meaning which it never has anywhere; how blind, on the other hand, since the words in their first meaning, pone super pulverem , furnish an excellent thought which is closely connected with the admonition to rid one's self of unjust possessions. בּצר , like Arab. tibr (by which Abulwalid explains it), is gold and silver ore, i.e., gold and silver as they are broken out of the mine, therefore (since silver is partially pure, gold almost pure, and always containing more or less silver) the most precious metal in its pure natural state before being worked, and consequently also unalloyed (comp. Arab. nḍı̂r and nuḍâr , which likewise signifies aurum argentumve nativum , but not ab excidendo , but a nitore ); and “to lay in the dust” is equivalent to, to part with a thing as entirely worthless and devoid of attraction. The meaning is therefore: put away from thee the idol of previous metal with contempt (comp. Isaiah 2:20), which is only somewhat differently expressed in the parallel: lay the Ophir under the quartz ( וּבצוּר agreeing with בצר ) of the brooks (such as is found in the beds of empty wâdys), i.e., place it under the rubble, after it has lost for thee its previous bewitching spell. As cloth woven from the filaments of the nettle is called muslin, from Mossul, and cloth with figures on it “damask, דּמשׁק ” (Amos 3:12), from Damascus,
(Note: We leave it undecided whether in a similar manner silk has its name μέταξα ( μάταξα ), Armenian metaks, Aramaic מטכסא מטקסין , from Damascus (Ewald and Friedr. Müller).)
and aloes-wood Arab. mndl , from Coromandel; so the gold from Ophir, i.e., from the coast of the Abhîra, on the north coast of the Runn (Old Indian Irina, i.e., Salt Sea), east of the mouth of the Indus,
(Note: Thus אופיר has been explained by Lassen in his pamphlet de Pentapotamia, and his Indische Alterthumskunde (i. 539). The lxx ( Cod. Vat.) and Theodot. have Σωφείρ , whence Ges. connects Ophir with Arrian's Οὔππαρα and Edrisi's Sufâra in Guzerat, especially since Sofir is attested as the Coptic name for India. The matter is still not settled.)
is directly called אופיר . When Job thus casts from him temporal things, by the excessive cherishing of which he has hitherto sinned, then God himself will be his imperishable treasure, his everlasting higher delight. He frees himself from temporal בּצר ; and the Almighty, therefore the absolute personality of God himself, will be to him instead of it בּצרים , gold as from the mine, in rich abundance. This is what the contrast of the plur. ( בצרך without Jod plur. is a false reading) with the sing. implies; the lxx, Syriac version, Jerome, and Arabic version err here, since they take the בּ of בּצריך as a preposition.
The ancient versions and lexicographers furnish no explanation of תּועפות . The Targ. translates it תּקוף רוּמא , and accordingly it is explained by both חסן (strength) and גבה (height), without any reason being assigned for these significations. In the passage before us the lxx transl. ἀργύριον πεπυρωμένον from עף , in the Targum signification to blow, forge; the Syriac versions, argentum computationum ( חושׁבנין ), from עף in the Targum-Talmudic signification to double (= Hebr. כפל ). According to the usage of the language in question, יעף , from the Hiph. of which תועפות is formed, signifies to become feeble, to be wearied; but even if, starting from the primary notion, an available signification is attained for the passage before us (fatigues = toilsome excitement, synon. יגיע ) and Psalms 95:4 (climbings = heights), the use of the word in the most ancient passages citable, Numbers 23:22; Numbers 24:8, כּתועפת ראם לו , still remains unexplained; for here the notion of being incapable of fatigue, invincibility, or another of the like kind, is required, without any means at hand for rightly deriving it from יעף , to become feeble, especially as the radical signification anhelare supposed by Gesenius (comp. און from the root אן ) is unattested. Accordingly, we must go back to the root וף יף , discussed on Psalms 95:4, which signifies to rise aloft, to be high, and from which יפע , or with a transposition of the consonants יעף (comp. עיף and יעף ), acquires the signification of standing out, rising radiantly, shining afar off, since יעף , to become weary, is allied to the Arab. wgf , fut. i; this יעף יפע ), on the other hand, to Arab. yf' , ascendere, adolescere , Arab. wf‛ , elatum, adultum esse , and Arab. wfâ , eminere , and tropically completum, perfectum esse . Thus we obtain the signification enimentiae for תועפות . In Psalms 95:4, as a numerical plur., it signifies the towerings (tops) of the mountains, and here, as in the passages cited from Numbers, either prominent, eminent attributes, or as an intensive plur. excellence; whence, agreeing with Ewald, we have translated “silver of the brightest lustre” (comp. יפעה , eminentia , splendor, Ezekiel 28:7).
השׁפּילוּ refers to דּרכיך ; for if it is translated: in case they lower (Schlottm., Renan, and others), the suff. is wanting, and the thought is halting. As השׁפּיל signifies to make low, it can also signify to go down (Jeremiah 13:18), and said of ways, “to lead downwards” (Rosenm., Ew., Hahn). The old expositors go altogether astray in Job 22:29, because they did not discern the exclamative idea of גּוה . The noun גּוה - which is formed from the verb גּוה גּאה , as גּאהּ , arrogance, Proverbs 8:13; גּהה , healing, Proverbs 17:22; כּהה , mitigation, Nahum 3:19 (distinct from גּוה , the body, the fem. of גּו ), without the necessity of regarding it as syncopated from גּאוה (Olsh. §154, b), as שׁלה , 1 Samuel 1:17, from שׁאלה - does not here signify pride or haughtiness, as in Job 33:17; Jeremiah 13:17, but signifies adverbially sursum (therefore synon. of סלה , which, being formed from סל , elevatio , with He of direction and Dag. forte implic., as פּדּנה הרה = paddannah , harrah , - perhaps, however, it is to be read directly סלּה , with He fem., - is accordingly a substantive made directly into an adverb, like גּוה ): suppose that ( כּי = ἐάν , as אם = εἰ ) thy ways lead downwards, thou sayest: on high! i.e., thy will being mighty in God, thy confidence derived from the Almighty, will all at once give them another and more favourable direction: God will again place in a condition of prosperity and happiness, - which יושׁע (defectively written; lxx: σώσει ; Jer. and Syr., however, reading יוּשׁע : salvabitur), according to its etymon, Arab. 'ws‛ , signifies, - him who has downcast eyes (lxx κύφοντα ὀφθαλμοῖς ).
It may seem at first sight, that by אי־נקי , the not-guiltless ( אי
(Note: In Rabbinic also this abbreviated negative is not אי (as Dukes and Gieger point it), but according to the traditional pronunciation, אי , e.g., אי אפשׁר ( impossibilie).)
= אין אין , e.g., Isaiah 40:29; 2 Chronicles 14:10, Ges. §152, 1), Eliphaz means Job himself in his present condition; it would then be a mild periphrastic expression for “the guilty, who has merited his suffering.” If thou returnest in this manner to God, He will - this would be the idea of Job 22:30 - free thee, although thy suffering is not undeserved. Instead now of proceeding: and thou shalt be rescued on account of the purity of thy hands, i.e., because thou hast cleansed them from wrong, Eliphaz would say: and this not-guiltless one will be rescued, i.e., thou, the not-guiltless, wilt be rescued, by the purity of thy hands. But one feels at once how harsh this synallage would be. Even Hirzel, who refers Job 22:30 to Job, refers Job 22:30 to some one else. In reality, however, another is intended in both cases (Ew., Schlottm., Hahn, Olsh.); and Job 22:30 is just so arranged as to be supplemented by בּבר כּפּיך , Job 22:30. Even old expositors, as Seb. Schmid and J. H. Michaelis, have correctly perceived the relation: liberabit Deus et propter puritatem manuum tuarum alios, quos propria innocentia ipsos deficiens non esset liberatura . The purity of the hands (Psalms 18:21) is that which Job will have attained when he has put from him that which defiles him (comp. Job 9:30 with Job 17:9). Hirzel has referred to Matthew 6:33 in connection with Job 22:24; one is here reminded of the words of our Lord to Peter, Luke 22:32: σύ ποτὲ ἐπιστρέψας στήριξον τοὺς ἀδελφούς σου . Eliphaz, although unconsciously, in these last words expresses prophetically what will be fulfilled in the issue of the history in Job himself.
The speech of Eliphaz opens the third course of the controversy. In the first course of the controversy the speeches of the friends, though bearing upon the question of punishment, were embellished with alluring promises; but these promises were incapable of comforting Job, because they proceeded upon the assumption that he is suffering as a sinner deserving of punishment, and can only become free from his punishment by turning to God. In the second course of the controversy, since Job gave no heed to their exhortations to penitence, the friends drew back their promises, and began the more unreservedly to punish and to threaten, by presenting to Job, in the most terrifying pictures of the ruin of the evil-doer, his own threatening destruction. The misconstruction which Job experiences from the friends has the salutary effect on him of rooting him still more deeply in the hope that God will not let him die without having borne witness to his innocence. But the mystery of the present is nevertheless not cleared up for Job by this glimpse of faith into the future. On the contrary, the second course of the controversy ends so, that to the friends who unjustly and uncharitably deny instead of solving the mystery of his individual lot, Job now presents that which is mysterious in the divine distribution of human fortune in general, the total irreconcilableness of experience with the idea of the just divine retribution maintained by them. In that speech of his, Job 21, which forms the transition to the third course of the controversy, Job uses the language of the doubter not without sinning against God. But since it is true that the outward lot of man by no means always corresponds to his true moral condition, and never warrants an infallible conclusion respecting it, he certainly in that speech gives the death-blow to the dogma of the friends. The poet cannot possibly allow them to be silent over it. Eliphaz, the most discreet and intelligent, speaks. His speech, considered in itself, is the purest truth, uttered in the most appropriate and beautiful form. But as an answer to the speech of Job the dogma of the friends itself is destroyed in it, by the false conclusion by which it is obliged to justify itself to itself. The greatness of the poet is manifest from this, that he makes the speeches of the friends, considered in themselves, and apart from the connection of the drama, express the most glorious truths, while they are proved to be inadequate, indeed perverted and false, in so far as they are designed to solve the existing mystery. According to their general substance, these speeches are genuine diamonds; according to their special application, they are false ones.
How true is what Eliphaz says, that God neither blesses the pious because he is profitable to Him, nor punishes the wicked because he is hurtful to Him; that the pious is profitable not to God, but to himself; the wicked is hurtful not to God, but himself; that therefore the conduct of God towards both is neither arbitrary nor selfish! But if we consider the conclusion to which, in these thoughts, Eliphaz only takes a spring, they prove themselves to be only the premises of a false conclusion. For Eliphaz infers from them that God rewards virtue as such, and punishes vice as such; that therefore where a man suffers, the reason of it is not to be sought in any secondary purpose on the part of God, but solely and absolutely in the purpose of God to punish the sins of the man. The fallacy of the conclusion is this, that the possibility of any other purpose, which is just as far removed from self-interest, in connection with God's purpose of punishing the sins of the man, is excluded. It is now manifest how near theoretical error and practical falsehood border on one another, so that dogmatical error is really in the rule at the same time ἀδικία . For after Eliphaz, in order to defend the justice of divine retribution against Job, has again indissolubly connected suffering and the punishment of sin, without acknowledging any other form of divine rule but His justice, any other purpose in decreeing suffering than the infliction of punishment (from the recognition of which the right and true comfort for Job would have sprung up), he is obliged in the present instance, against his better knowledge and conscience, to distort an established fact, to play the hypocrite to himself, and persuade himself of the existence of sins in Job, of which the confirmation fails him, and to become false and unjust towards Job even in favour of the false dogma. For the dogma demands wickedness in an equal degree to correspond to a great evil, unlimited sins to unlimited sufferings. Therefore the former wealth of Job must furnish him with the ground of heavy accusations, which he now expresses directly and unconditionally to Job. He whose conscience, however, does not accuse him of mammon-worship, Job 31:24, is suffering the punishment of a covetous and compassionless rich man. Thus is the dogma of the justice of God rescued by the unjust abandonment of Job.
Further, how true is Eliphaz' condemnatory judgment against the free-thinking, which, if it does not deny the existence of God, still regards God as shut up in the heavens, without concerning himself about anything that takes place on earth! The divine judgment of total destruction came upon a former generation that had thought thus insolently of God, and to the joy of the righteous the same judgment is still executed upon evil-doers of the same mind. This is true, but it does not apply to Job, for whom it is intended. Job has denied the universality of a just divine retribution, but not the special providence of God. Eliphaz sets retributive justice and special providence again here in a false correlation. He thinks that, so far as a man fails to perceive the one, he must at once doubt the other, - another instance of the absurd reasoning of their dogmatic one-sidedness. Such is Job's relation to God, that even if he failed to discover a single trace of retributive justice anywhere, he would not deny His rule in nature and among men. For his God is not a mere notion, but a person to whom he stands in a living relation. A notion falls to pieces as soon as it is found to be self-contradictory; but God remains what He is, however much the phenomenon of His rule contradicts the nature of His person. The rule of God on earth Job firmly holds, although in manifold instances he can only explain it by God's absolute and arbitrary power. Thus he really knows no higher motive in God to which to refer his affliction; but nevertheless he knows that God interests himself about him, and that He who is even now his Witness in heaven will soon arise on the dust of the grave in his behalf. For such utterances of Job's faith Eliphaz has no ear. He knows no faith beyond the circle of his dogma.
The exhortations and promises by which Eliphaz then (Job 22:21-30) seeks to lead Job back to God are in and of themselves true and most glorious. There is also somewhat in them which reflects shame on Job; they direct him to that inward peace, to that joy in God, which he had entirely lost sight of when he spoke of the misfortune of the righteous in contrast with the prosperity of the wicked.
(Note: Brentius: Prudentia carnis existimat benedictionem extrinsecus in hoc seculo piis contingere, impiis vero maledictionem, sed veritas docet, benedictionem piis in hoc seculo sub maledictione, vitam sub morte, salutem sub damnatione, e contra impiis sub benedictoine maledictionem, sub vita mortem, sub salute damnationem contingere .)
But even these beauteous words of promise are blemished by the false assumption from which they proceed. The promise, the Almighty shall become Job's precious ore, rests on the assumption that Job is now suffering the punishment of his avarice, and has as its antecedent: “Lay thine ore in the dust, and thine Ophir beneath the pebbles of the brook.” Thus do even the holiest and truest words lose their value when they are not uttered at the right time, and the most brilliant sermon that exhorts to penitence remains without effect when it is prompted by pharisaic uncharitableness. The poet, who is general has regarded the character of Eliphaz as similar to that of a prophet (vid., Job 4:12.), makes him here at the close of his speech against his will prophesy the issue of the controversy. He who now, considering himself as נקי , preaches penitence to Job, shall at last stand forth as אי נקי , and will be one of the first who need Job's intercession as the servant of God, and whom he is able mediatorially to rescue by the purity of his hands.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Job 22". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20