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Bible Commentaries
Job 33

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-33

The Second Stage of the Disentanglement

Job 33-37

Elihu’s Discourses, devoted to proving that there can be really no undeserved suffering, that on the contrary the sufferings decreed for those who are apparently righteous are dispensations of divine love, designed to purify and to sanctify them through chastisement: The first half of the positive solution of the problem


Job 32:1 to Job 33:7

1. Elihu’s appearance (related in prose)

Job 32:1-6 a

1So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Earn; against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God. 3Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job 4:0 Now Elihu had waitedtill Job had spoken, because they were elder than he. 5When Elihu saw that therewas no answer in the mouth of these three men, then his wrath was kindled. 6And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said:

2. An explanation addressed to the previous speakers, showing why he had taken part in their controversy: Job 32:6-10

6     b I am young, and ye are very old;

wherefore I was afraid,
and durst not show you mine opinion.

7     I said, Days should speak,

and multitude of years should teach wisdom.

8     But there is a spirit in man;

and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.

9     Great men are not always wise;

neither do the aged understand judgment.

10     Therefore I said, Hearken to me;

I also will show mine opinion.

3. Setting forth that he was justified in taking part, because the friends had showed, and still showed themselves unable to refute Job: Job 32:11-22

11     Behold, I waited for your words;

I gave ear to your reasons,
whilst ye searched out what to say.

12     Yea, I attended unto you,

and behold, there was none of you that convinced Job,
or that answered his words.

13     Lest ye should say: “We have found out wisdom:

God thrusteth him down, not man.”

14     Now he hath not directed his words against me;

neither will I answer him with your speeches.

15     They were amazed, they answered no more:

they left off speaking.

16     When I had waited (for they spake not,

but stood still, and answered no more);

17     I said, I will answer also my part,

I also will show mine opinion.

18     For I am full of matter,

the spirit within me constraineth me.

19     Behold, ray belly is as wine which hath no vent,

it is ready to burst like new bottles.

20     I will speak, that I may be refreshed:

I will open my lips and answer.

21     Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person,

neither let me give flattering titles unto man.

22     For I know not to give flattering titles:

in so doing my Maker would soon take me away.

4. A special appeal to Job to listen calmly to him [Elihu], as a mild judge of his guilt and weakness: Job 33:1-7

1     Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches,

and hearken to all my words.

2     Behold, now I have opened my mouth,

my tongue hath spoken in my mouth.

3     My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart;

and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly.

4     The Spirit of God hath made me,

and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.

5     If thou canst answer me,

set thy words in order before me, stand up.

6     Behold, I am according to thy wish in God’s stead:

I also am formed out of the clay.

7     Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid,

neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee.


Job 33:8-33

a. Preparatory: Reproof of Job’s confidence in his entire innocence: Job 33:8-11

8     Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing,

and I have heard the voice of thy words, saying:

9     I am clean without transgression,

I am innocent, neither is there iniquity in me.

10     Behold, He findeth occasions against me,

He counteth me for His enemy:

11     He putteth my feet in the stocks,

He marketh all my paths.

b. Didactic discussion of the true relation of sinful men to God, who seeks to warn and to save them by manifold dispensations and communications from above; Job 33:12-30

12     Behold, in this thou art not just:

I will answer thee, that God is greater than man.

13     Why dost thou strive against Him?

for He giveth not account of any of His matters.

14     For God speaketh once, yea twice,

yet man perceiveth it not.

15     In a dream, in a vision of the night,

when deep sleep falleth upon men,
in slumberings upon the bed;

16     then He openeth the ears of men,

and sealeth their instruction,

17     that He may withdraw man from his purpose,

and hide pride from man.

18     He keepeth back his soul from the pit,

and his life from perishing by the sword.

19     He is chastened also with pain upon his bed,

and the multitude of his bones with strong pain:

20     so that his life abhorreth bread,

and his soul dainty meat.

21     His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen;

and his bones that were not seen stick out.

22     Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave,

and his life to the destroyers.

23     If there be a messenger with him,

an interpreter, one among a thousand,
to show unto man his uprightness;

24     then He is gracious unto him, and saith,

Deliver him from going down to the pit:
I have found a ransom.

25     His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s;

he shall return to the days of his youth:

26     he shall pray unto God, and He will be favorable unto him;

and he shall see His face with joy;
for He will render unto man His righteousness.

27     He looketh upon men, and if any say,

I have sinned, and perverted that which was right,
and it profited me not;

28     He will deliver his soul from going into the pit,

and his life shall see the light.

29     Lo, all these things worketh God

oftentimes with man,

30     to bring back his soul from the pit,

to be enlightened with the light of the living.

c. Conclusion; Calling upon Job to give an attentive hearing to the discourses by which he would further instruct him: Job 33:31-33

31     Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me;

hold thy peace, and I will speak.

32     If thou hast anything to say, answer me:

speak, for I desire to justify thee.

33     If not, hearken unto me:

hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom.


1. On the general subject of the genuineness of Elihu’s discourses, comp. Introd., § 10, as well as below, Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks.—The circumstantiality of the twofold introduction to these discourses—first that of the author in prose, then the self-introduction of Elihu (Job 32:6 bJob 33:7) which latter again consists of three subdivisions—is to be explained by the fact that in Elihu there was to be introduced the representative of a new stand-point, which had not yet received its statement, differing as it did from that of all the former speakers. For neither Job’s one-sided denial of his guilt nor the blunt and rough way in which he had been attacked, satisfies this new speaker. He appears to speak for and against Job, whose “better self” he in some measure represents (comp. Victor Andreä, p. 139); hence the three stages of his self-introduction: (1) the captatio benevolentiæ with which he begins; or the apology for his youth addressed to all the former speakers (Job 32:6-10Job 32:6-10Job 32:6-10); (2) the reprimand administered to the three friends, as having shown themselves incompetent to refute Job (Job 32:11-22);—and (3) the appeal to Job to give a hearing to his instructions (Job 33:1-7) an appeal full of earnest admonition and loving encouragement. The last of these divisions provides a direct transition to the first of Elihu’s discourses proper (Job 33:8-33), in which he sets forth the foundation of Job’s suffering—the universal sinfulness and guilt of men before God, this discourse again occupying three divisions, of which the middle, being the longest (Job 32:12-22), contains the proper didactic exposition of the subject, while the first, by citing the propositions of Job which are to be refuted, prepares the way for the discussion; and the third furnishes, together with a practical conclusion, the transition to the didactic discourse which follows. The most of these divisions are at the same time coincident each with a single strophe, except that the long middle sections (Job 32:11-22 and Job 33:12-30) are subdivided into several strophes, the former into two, the latter into four, together with a short epiphonema of two verses (Job 32:29–30).

2. Introduction in prose (although with poetic accents—comp. above, § 3, p. 264) [the poetic mode of accentuation retained, because a change in the middle of the book, and especially in a piece of such small compass appeared awkward,: Del.] Job 32:1-6 a.—Then the three men ceased to answer Job. This notification occurs first here, not after Job 26:0. or Job 28:0., because it was only through the last monologues of Job that the defeat of the three opponents became complete.—Because he was righteous in his own eyes;i. e., because he would not admit that his suffering was in any degree whatever the consequence of his guilt; a statement which refers back in particular to the contents of Job 31:0.

Job 32:2. Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel, etc.אֱלִיהוּא, which is written below without the final א (Job 32:4; Job 35:1) signifies—“my God is he,” and appears also as an Israelitish name (1 Samuel 1:1; 1 Chronicles 12:20). The Elihu of our passage is a Nahorite, of the tribe of Buz (בּוּז), who in Genesis 22:21 is mentioned as the brother of Uz, and the second son of Nahor, and whose tribe, according to Jeremiah 25:23, like Dedan and Tema, belonged to the inhabitants of the Arabian desert. The “family of Ram” is mentioned only here. The identification of the name רָם with אֲרָם is inadmissible, for רָם is simply the name of a family, not of a people. The Aramaic origin of the Buzites, according to the above description, admits indeed of no doubt, and the same may be said respecting the poet’s purpose in that connection to impart an Aramaic coloring to Elihu’s discourses. Lightfoot and Rosenmüller curiously imagine that under the character of Elihu the poet has concealed himself, and that this explains the particularity with which, in opposition to what is characteristic of the book elsewhere, he describes the origin of the new speaker. This detailed account of Elihu’s genealogy is undoubtedly a little singular, but it may be satisfactorily explained by the poet’s desire to represent him as a kinsman of the same race with Job, or it may be his desire to distinguish between him and some other well-known person of the name. In respect to the question whether Elihu’s position is that of “one not simply near to the Abrahamitic revelation, but of one standing within the pale of it” (as Vilmar thinks, l. c.), nothing definite can be established from the genealogical statement before us.—Respecting the name בָּרַֽכְאֵל (instead of which some MSS. write בַּרַכְאֵל, with a latent Daghesh). It signifies—“may God-bless!” and is thus distinguished as an imperative formation from the indicative of the specifically Israelitish name בֶּרֶכְיָב (“Jehovah blesseth”).—Because he declared himself righteous before God. צִרֵּק instead of the Hiph. which, is elsewhere more common in this signification, occurs again Job 33:32, and often in Jerem. and Ezek.—מֵאֱלֹהִים, not “more than God, at the expense of God” (Ew., Delitz.) [E. V., Con., Nov., Carey, Words., etc.], but “before,” מִן accordingly as in Job 4:17. The comparison of the passage in Job 40:8 is scarcely sufficient to confirm the former rendering.

Job 32:3 states how far the conduct of the three friends had caused Elihu’s discontent:—because they found no answer, and still condemned Job. So—taking וְ in וַיַּרְשִׁיעוּ adversatively—may the words be rendered with the greatest probability (so Hirzel, Ewald) [E. V., Noy., Con., Carey, Rodwell, Elz., Schlottm., Renan]. For the fact that the friends had condemned Job notwithstanding their inability to answer him aggravates the guilt of the three in Eliun’s eyes; and that he really attributed to them double guilt, as compared with Job, is evident from the passage which follows, and which involves more rigid censure of the friends (Job 32:11 seq. ; 15 seq.) than of Job (comp. also Job 32:5). With this interpretation agrees essentially that of Delitzsch and Kamphausen: “because they, from their inability to answer him, condemned him.” [“The fut. consec. describes the condemnation as the result of their inability to hit upon the right answer; it was a miserable expedient to which they had recourse.” Del.]. The language admits still further of the explanation of Hahn and Dillmann (with the influence of the negation extended to the second member): “because they did not find an answer, and (consequently) did not, condemn him [i.e., secure his condemnation, by “stripping him of his self-righteousness”]. The opinion of the Masoretes, that in this passage we have one of the 18Tiqquney Sopherim (comp. on Job 7:20), according to which we should read אֶת־הָאֱלֹהִים instead of אֶת־אִיּוֹב, is refuted by Job 40:8, where it is not the friends, but Job, who is said to have shown himself to be one who had condemned God.

Job 32:4. But Elihu had waited for Job with words.—חִכָּה pluperf., comp. Ewald, § 135, a; i. e., he had waited until Job’s speeches were ended, until he had spoken his last word in the controversy, the reason being:—because they were older than he in days (לְיָמִים, as in Job 30:1, and below Job 32:6), i. e., because he was the youngest of all,—younger than all the former speakers.

3. First section of Elihu’s introduction: captatio benevolentiæ, addressed to all the former speakers: Job 32:6-10Job 32:6-10Job 32:6-10.—Young am I in days, and ye are hoary (יְשִׁישִׁים as in Job 12:12; Job 15:10; Job 29:8); therefore I was afraid and feared. זחל in Heb. elsewhere “to crawl,” here in the sense of “fearing,” customary in Aramaic, but not met with elsewhere in the O. T. [Carey: “I did slink”]. Also דֵּעַ for דֵּעַת is an expression peculiar to the Aramaizing constructions of Elihu’s language (comp. again Job 32:10; Job 32:17; Job 36:3; Job 37:16), while on the contrary חִוָּה “to declare, to communicate,” occurs else-where in our book. [“It becomes manifest even here that the Elihu section has in part a peculiar use of the language.” Del.].

Job 32:7. Respecting the plur. יוֹדִיעוּ with רֹבשָׁנִים, comp. Job 21:21.

Job 32:8. Still the spirit it is in mortal man … which gives them understanding. אָכֵןverum, only here by Elihu, instead of אוּלָם, which is elsewhere customary in this sense. The subjects רוּחַ וגו׳ and נִשְׁמַת וגו׳ have for their common predicate הִיא with תְּבִינֵם at the close of the second member as a relative clause of closer specification. The “spirit in man” is the principle of his life and thought wrought into him by the Spirit of God; here, as also in Job 27:3; Job 33:4; Job 34:14, identical with the “breath of the Almighty,” the Divine creative breath (Genesis 2:7); comp. also Ecclesiastes 12:7. [Noyes happily quotes the following from Milton, in the preface to his Reason of Church Government, urged against Prelaty: “And if any man think I undertake a task too difficult for my years, I trust, through the supreme enlightening assistance, far otherwise; for my years, be they few or many, what imports it? So they bring reason, let that be looked on”].—אֱנוֹשׁ is used collectively, as is evident from the plur. suffix in b referring to it.

Job 32:9. Not the aged are wise; lit. “not the great” (רַבִּים) [grandævi], i. e., great in years, comp. the πολυχρόνιοι of the LXX., also Genesis 25:23; and צָעִיר, small = young, above (Job 32:6 b).

Job 32:10. Therefore I say: Hearken to me!—The Imperfect singular, שִׁמְעָה־לּי, is used distributively, applying to each individual of those who are summoned to hear, (not referring specially to Job, to whom Elihu does not address himself until below in Job 33:1 seq.). The ancient versions, except the Targ., as well as some MSS. read שִׁמְעוּ—an emendation to relieve the difficulty [arising from El.’s addressing the friends in the plur. in the next verse]. I also will declare my knowledge (comp. Job 32:6, b). [Rather, more modestly—“I will declare my knowledge, even I.” Words.]. Respecting the appearance of vain self-praise, of which Elihu is guilty in consequence of these and the preceding expressions, comp. below Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks, No. 2.

4. Second section of Elihu’s introduction: Showing his claims to speak, in contrast with the friends, as the feeble and incompetent opponents of Job: Job 32:11-22.—a. Address to the friends touching their lack of skill in refuting Job. Behold, I waited for your words; or for words from you.” דִּבְרֵיכֶם are not the words actually uttered by them (Stick., Hahn, Schlott.), but those for which Elihu had waited in vain, expecting that they would produce them, more particularly explained in b as being their words of intelligence, speeches full of wisdom (תְּבוּנוֹת). The construction of אָזִין, contracted form for אַאֲזִין) with עַד shows clearly enough that the object of the hearkening or listening was wholly in expectation. Until ye might find out replies. מִלִּין, a second parallel term to דברים, can denote here only words from the friends, suited to refute Job, such words as they had shown themselves unable to “search out,” or “to think out.” (חקר).

Job 32:12. And unto you I gave heed.—עָֽדֵיכֵםmeans here אֵלֶיכֶם; or it may mean giving heed until they should produce a real confutation of Job. [Carey translates עַד the three times it occurs in Job 32:10-11 “to the utmost of”—perhaps a little too artificially. It does however express more emphatically than the simple לְ the act of close attention.—E.].

Job 32:13. That ye may not say; or “since ye do not say, etc.”—Respecting the dissuasive particle פֶּן “that not,” comp. Ew., § 337, b. We found wisdom (i. e., with Job): God can smite him, not man.—That is, we have come upon such superior wisdom in Job that only God can drive him out of the field (נדףdiscutere, dispellere, used elsewhere of the chasing of chaff, straw, smoke—comp. Psalms 1:4; Psalms 68:3 [2]) [“chosen here with great propriety, because after every answer from the three Job showed himself again in the arena.” Dillm.]. Only this explanation, adopted by most moderns, gives a meaning that is intelligent, and suited to the context, not that of the ancient commentators (also more recently of Rosenmüller, Arnheim, Welte, etc.): “Only do not say we have brought up against him true wisdom, to wit: that God Himself contends against, and routs him out of the-field (by the severe sufferings which He has decreed for him” [and so substantially Lee, Bernard. According to another explanation the second member is spoken by Elihu, not the friends, the general meaning being: Ye have been silenced, lest ye should become proud and boast of your wisdom, and that his defeat may come visibly from God and not from men. So Good, Wordsworth, Carey, Wemyss, Rodwell, Barnes, most of whom make the first member dependent on the second; e. g. Rodwell: “Lest ye should say—‘We hare found out wisdom,’—El, not man, shall vanquish him.”—Schlottmann explains: “Say not: We have found wisdom, i. e. we for our part have not erred, we have hit the exact truth, but God must smite him, not man, i. e. Job is so obstinate that the most exhaustive proofs of our doctrine fail to affect him, wherefore God only can convict him of his error.”]

Job 32:14. For he bath not arrayed words against me;i. e. he has produced no argument which actually convinces me of his innocence, עָרַךְsensu forensi as in Job 13:18; Job 23:4, The whole verse introduced by וְלא with a fin. verb following, forms a clause subordinate to that which precedes, like Job 13:3 (comp. Ewald, § 341, a).

b. A declaration respecting the unavoidable necessity of his taking part in the colloquy, the friends although still referred to being spoken of in the third person.

Job 32:15. They are confounded, they answer no more, or “without answering again” (comp. Ewald, § 849, a), words are fled away from them, i.e. have deserted them; העתיק here accordingly intransitive; “to depart, to wander away,” like Genesis 12:8; Genesis 26:22, not transitive, as in Job 9:5 (against Hirzel).

Job 32:16. And should I (still) await, because they speak not?—This interrogative rendering of the Perf. consec. וְהוֹחַלְתִּי is the only one that yields a suitable meaning, not the affirmative, which used to be the prevalent one, “and I waited, because,” etc., by which the verse would express a quite unendurable tautology with Job 32:11-12.

Job 32:17. So then I also will answer my part, i.e. what comes to my part (comp. Job 15:2; Proverbs 18:23); I will in like manner throw the weight of my opinion into the scales. [“Elihu speaks more in the scholastic tone of controversy than the three.” Delitzsch. The אַף־אֲנִי twice repeated is far from implying conceit or arrogance on the part of the speaker. It is possible indeed to explain it, with Barnes, “even I,” notwithstanding my youth and inexperience, in the tone of modest self-depreciation. More probably however it indicates rather the independent, individual position of the speaker, differing as it did from the rest, as we should say—“on my part.” In any case, as Schultens remarks: jucunda et decora formula; scire meum—quantum mihi quidem sciere, et percipere datum. Frustra sunt, qui hæc ad arrogantiam detorquent.” E.] The Fut. Hiph., אַעֲנֶה, expresses as e. g.Eccles. v. 19 (see on the passage); Hosea 2:23, etc., the strengthened sense of Kal: “to make answer, to put in a reply.” Ewald renders quite too artificially: “so then I also plough my field” (אענה Hiph. from the other root ענה, “to be sunk”), which would be proverbial for—“I also begin my speech.”

Job 32:18 seq. describe the powerful inward impulse to speak, which Elihu discovers is himself, and which makes it impossible for him to be silent. The spirit (Job 32:8) constraineth me in my inward part; lit. “the spirit of my inward part, of my belly” (בִטְנִי), comp. Job 15:2; Job 15:35. Respecting the scriptio defectivaמָלֵתִי, in a, comp. on Job 1:21.

Job 32:19. Behold, my interior is like wine which is not opened, i. e. to which there is no vent, so that it threatens to burst its vessel. It is of course new, fresh wine that is intended, as in the parallel New Testament passages, which refer to this place, Matthew 9:17; Luke 5:39, which show moreover that the “new bottles” in b can be none other than such as are “filled with new wine,” so that the attribute “new” denotes not the firmness of the material of the bottles, but rather the age and the quality of their contents. Furthermore, יִבָּקֵעַ is neither a relative clause to אֹבוֹת (Hirzel) [Ges., Con.], nor an adverbial subordinate clause—“when it will burst,”—but the direct predicate of בִּטְנִי, which indeed is feminine, but here with the passive, is treated as the grammatical object; comp. Job 22:9. The LXX. read חֲרָשִׁים, and rendered the preceding אֹבוֹת in the sense of “bellows:” ὤσπερ φυσητὴρ χαλκέως. The figure thus arising is not unsuitable; still, according to the preceding explanation, there is no sufficient ground for departing from the Masoretic reading. On Job 32:21 comp. Job 13:8. [The distinction between אַל and לֹא is not to be overlooked; the former expressing the subjective wish, or purpose; the latter the objective fact. E.].

Job 32:22 gives the reason for that which is declared in Job 32:21, b:For I know not how to flatter. אֲכַנֶּה is logically subordinate to the preceding לֹא יָדַעְתִּי, and is used accordingly for the Inf. כַנּוֹת, or for לְכַנּוֹת; comp. Ewald, § 285, cOtherwise my Maker would speedily snatch me away; lit. “lift me up;” יִשָּׂאֵנִי [which “seems designedly to harmonize with עשֵֹׁנִי” Delitzsch, and perhaps involves a play on אֶשָּא, Job 32:21; Dillmann], an expression derived from a stormy wind; comp, Job 27:21; 2 Kings 2:16. The Imperf. here with a modal force [= would, or might]; comp. Ewald, § 136, f.

 5. Third section of Elihu’s Introduction: Calling on Job to listen calmly to the discourses of instruction and admonition which follow: Job 33:1-7.

Job 33:1. Nevertheless hear now, O Job, my discourses. וְאוּלָם interruptive, and introducing to something new, like verumtamen; com. Job 1:11; Job 11:5; Job 12:7; Job 14:18 and often. The particular address to Job by name, which it is true occurs only in the mouth of Elihu (besides here again in Job 33:31 and Job 37:14), has nothing in it that is especially surprising, seeing that in every case it serves as a special summons to Job, in distinction from the three friends.

Job 33:2. The circumstantiality with which Elihu announces here the beginning of his discourse is by no means without significance. It is designed to call attention to the importance of that which he has to say to him, and it may be compared in this respect with introductory formulas of the New Testament, such as Matthew 5:2; Acts 10:34; and especially 2 Corinthians 6:11. [“My tongue hath begun to speak,” lit. my tongue hath spoken in my palate (the latter word a synecdoche). The Pret. דברה denotes here the present, but as an act reaching over into the present out of the past. This, we have judged, called for the free translation which we have given.” Schlottm.]

Job 33:3. My words are the uprightness of my heart; they are the honest open expression of the thought of my heart, precisely that therefore which Job had so painfully missed in the three friends (see Job 6:25).—And the knowledge of my lips—they declare it purely.—The “knowledge of my lips” is either prefixed as casus absolutus, “and as touching the knowledge of my lips—they speak it purely;” or as the object: “and what my lips know, that,” etc.—בָּרוּר can be a predicate accusative [“and knowledge that is pure my lips declare”], referring to דַּעַת, which is elsewhere also used in the masculine (e. g.Proverbs 2:10; Proverbs 14:6); but it can just as well be taken adverbially (comp. Ewald, § 279, a).

Job 33:4. The Spirit of God hath made me, etc.—The object of this appeal to the derivation of Elihu’s spirit from God’s Spirit must be essentially the same with that of the similar utterance in Job 32:8. It is not a special, nor an altogether wonderful, prophetic inspiration that Elihu here asserts for himself; he simply claims that it is a universal human wisdom residing in his spirit by virtue of his innate dignity as a man, on the basis of which he here applies himself to instruct Job. It is, so to speak, the humanistic, the genuine original and unperverted human character of his knowledge and experimental wisdom, to which Elihu appeals, when, as a young man, he presents himself to the more aged Job as his instructor. It is to this genuinely human character of his wisdom that he calls attention, both in this passage, where he emphasizes the divine origin of his spiritual life (Job 33:4-5), and in the following, where he sets forth his participation in the material part of man’s nature, in his earthly human corporeity (Job 33:6 seq.). The older Church exegesis readily availed itself of this verse as an argument for the divine trinity, on the ground that it mentions (1) Deus omnipotens: (2) Spiritus Dei (= Sapientia s. Filius); and (3) Spiraculum Dei (= Sp. Sanctus). So e. g. Cocceius on the passage; approximately also Starke.

Job 33:5. If thou canst, then answer me (השׁיב as in Job 32:14), draw up against me (עֶרְכָה scil. מִלִּין, see Job 32:14; לְפָנַי, lit. “before me,” here “against me”), take thy stand, viz. for the controversy, take thy post; the same expression used 1 Samuel 17:16 of Goliath’s putting himself in a military attitude, and challenging the Israelites to combat.—[“The very ring of the words in Heb. has in them the tone of haughty defiance.” Schlottmann.]

Job 33:6. Behold, I am God’s, as thou art;i. e., I stand no nearer to him; I am, like thee, His creature. [The לְ here may be either the לְ of possession, dependence, according to the explanation just given (comp. לוֹ, Job 12:16); or the לְ of relation: “I am like thee in relation to God.” In our relation to Him we are both equal. The rendering of E. V., Bernard, Barnes: “Behold, I am according to thy wish in God’s stead,” is much less suitable to the connection, and less in harmony with Elihu’s claims.—E.]—Out of clay was I also formed: lit. “out of clay was I also cut off, nipped off” (Del.). The verb קרץ (lit. to nip, to pinch), which forcibly and onomatopoetically describes the action of the potter in forming his vessels, is found in Pual only here. Comp. Job 10:9, and the parallel passages there cited.

Job 33:7. Behold, my terror will not affright thee:i. e. in view of this my genuinely human and earthly character, thou needest not fear an unequal contest with me, as would be the case against God, whom thou didst pray, that “His majesty might not terrify thee.” The passage contains an unmistakable allusion to Job 9:34; Job 13:21,—to the latter passage also by means of the hapax legom. אֶבֶף, “pressure, weight,” which appears here in place of the like-sounding כַף, which is there used. The LXX. (ἡ χείρ μου) [E. V. “my hand”] read כַּפִי also in the present passage, but disregard in so doing the Hebrew usage, which is wont everywhere else to connect the verb כָּבֵד with יָד, not כַּף.

6. The first speech of Elihu.—a. Reference to Job’s objectionable language, in which he maintains his entire innocence in opposition to God, his hostile persecutor: Job 33:8-11.—Surely, thou hast said in mine hearing, etc.—The restrictive rendering of אַךְ = “only” [not otherwise than] (Ewald, Hahn, Dillmann, etc.) is less suitable here than the affirmative: “verily, surely” (Rosenm., Hirzel, Umbreit, Delitzsch—in general most of the moderns) [and so E. V.: “To say anything בְּאָזְנֵי of another is in Hebrew equivalent to saying it not secretly, and so as to be liable to misconstruction, but aloud and distinctly.” Del.].

Job 33:9-11. A collection of several objectionable utterances by Job, which are cited in part literally, in part according to the sense, and with the refutation of which ail that follows to the close of these discourses is occupied, so that these three verses contain to some extent the common theme of all the four discourses of Elihu (comp. below on Job 35:1).—Pure am I, without (בְּלִי as in Job 31:39) wickedness. Comp. Job 9:21; Job 10:7; Job 16:17; Job 23:10; Job 27:5 seq. The word חַף (lit. tersus, lotus, rubbed down smooth, grown fine) used here in b as a synonym of זַךְ, was not used by Job, and occurs only here. The same may be said of תְּנוּאות, “oppositions, hostilities, alienations” (comp. Numbers 14:34) in Job 33:10 a, with which are to be compared utterances of Job like those in Job 10:13 seq.; Job 19:11; Job 30:21. In regard to Job 33:10 b comp. Job 13:24; and with Job 33:11 comp. Job 13:27, which passage Elihu quotes with literal accuracy, doubtless because he had taken particular offense at this accusation of God as Job’s jailer and most crafty watcher.

7. Continuation.—b. Didactic exhibition of the true relation of sinful men to God, who seeks to turn them to Himself by manifold dispensations and communications, to wit: a. By the voice of conscience in dreams; Job 33:12-18.—Behold, in this thou art not right, I answer thee (not: “I will answer thee,” Hirzel [E. V.], etc.). זֹאת, accus. of nearer definition to לא־צדקת refers to the citations from Job’s speeches in Job 33:9-11. Respecting צדק in the signification “to be right,” comp. Job 11:2. The second member gives the reason for this assertion that Job, with his suspicions of God’s greatness and love, was in the wrong: for Eloah is greater than mortal man, will not therefore after the manner of man, play the part of a hateful or vindictive persecutor of feeble creatures. [Del. explains: “God is too exalted to enter into a defence of Himself against such vain-glorying interwoven with accusations against Him. And for this reason Elihu will enter the lists for God.” But a deeper and more satisfactory meaning is obtained by the explanation in the Commentary. God is too great to be actuated by the petty malignities which Job had imputed to Him. Job was wrong; God is just, because He is great.” E. V. and several commentators connect אֶעֱנֶךָּ with what follows, either rendering כִּי “that,” or “for” with Delitzsch’s explanation. But the Masoretic accentuation connects it with what precedes, and this harmonizes better with the poetic rhythm of the verse, and with the weight of thought in b.—E.]

Job 33:13. Why hast thou contended (רִיבוֹתָ instead of רַבְתָּ, Gesenius, § 73 [§ 72], 1) against Him?—Such striving or murmuring against God on the part of Job had found expression, e. g., in Job 7:20; Job 10:18; Job 13:24 seq.—The second member declares the ground or contents of this contention against God to be: that [for] He gives account of none of His doings; lit. “that He answers not (ענה as in Job 32:12; Job 40:2; Job 9:3) all His words (or matters, דְּבָרָיו). So correctly Gesenius, Umbreit, Vaih., Delitzsch [E. V., Con., Words., Rod., Elz., Bar., Renan], etc., while the explanations of other moderns vary widely, e. g. “to all his (man’s) words giveth He no answer” (Hirzel, Heiligst., Hahn) [Carey on the contrary: “since to none of His words doth man answer,” i. e. man is deaf when God speaks]; or “that all his words to Him (suffix in דבריו referring to the object) He easily answers” (Stickel, and similarly Welte): or “with not a single word does He answer” (Schlottmann, Kamph.); or “that He makes no answer to all thy words” (Dillmann, changing דבריו to דֶּבָרֻיךָ), etc.

Job 33:14. For (on the other hand) God speaketh once and twice;i. e. many times, often, repeatedly; comp. Job 40:5; also Job 5:19. Those commentators who explain: “in many ways” (Arnh., Hirz., Stick., Del., etc.) make too much of the simple form of enumeration used; it is only the πολυμερῶς of the divine revelation, and not of also its πολυτρόπως, which is here spoken of. Respecting the בְּ before אחת and שתים, comp. besides Job 40:5, also Psalms 62:12 [11]. The subj. of the follg. לאֹ יְשׁוּרֶנָּה, which the Masoretic accentuation also separates from what goes before, cannot be “God” again, but only man, used indefinitely; hence “one perceiveth it not” (שׁוּר with a neut. suffix, in the general meaning of observing, perceiving, precisely as in Job 35:13). This short clause stands accordingly in a limitative, or an adversative relation to the preceding thought: “only man observes it not,” or “yet man,” etc. [E. V.]. It is possible also to render it as a circumstantial clause: “without any one observing it” (Schlottm.). [“God’s speech is unnoticed, not recognized by the senses, understood only by the susceptible feelings.” Schlottmann.] The explanation of this verse by Schultens, Ewald and Vaihinger is peculiar (comp. the Vulg. and Pesh.): “for God speaks once—He does not glance at it a second time” [i. e. to reconsider or change what He has once said]. Against this is (1) the Masoretic accentuation; (2) the connection with Job 33:15 seq., which would there stand quite torn apart; (3) the fact that שׁוּר cannot signify revidere (it would in that case have to be changed into שׁוּב).

Job 33:15 seq. now mention—if not several kinds (Hirzel, Schlottm., Del.)—at least several examples of impressive communications from God to men, or, according to the language used in Job 33:14, of “speeches” by God. The first instance mentioned is that of revelation by dreams, Job 33:15-18, which Elihu describes in language which is a close, and in part a literal copy of that of Eliphaz (Job 4:12-16). The statement prefixed of time and circumstance (Job 33:15) is almost literally the same as Job 4:13 (see on the passage).

Job 33:16. Then opens He the ear of men;i. e. He opens their understanding for His confidential communications; the same phrase in Job 36:10; Job 36:15; 1 Samuel 9:15, and often—And presses a seal upon their instruction (מֹסָר, an alternate form of מוּסָר, found only here); i. e. He impresses upon them all the more deeply the earnest admonitions and warnings which He administers to them by all the various experiences of life (not particularly by painful diseases as Ewald, Hahn, and Dillmann explain, on the strength of Job 33:19 seq.); He assures them by such dreams and visions that they are to recognize such serious dispensations of life as coming from Him, as rules of His divine agency in educating men; comp. Job 36:10. Note how according to this Elihu regards every man as being continually subject to the operations of a divine discipline. As to חתם with בְּ (different from חתם with בְּעַד, Job 9:7), comp. Job 37:7. Several of the ancient versions (LXX., Aqu., Pesh.) and Luther translate as though they had read יְחִתֵּם, “He terrifies them.”

Job 33:17-18. The aim of this nocturnal opening of the ear, and sealing of the divine instruction.—In order to withdraw man from transgression.—So according to the improved reading מִמַּעֲשֶׂה (Hirz., Del., Dillm., etc.), which is sufficiently attested by the ἀποστρέψαι ἅνθρωπον� [of the LXX.]. According to the common reading מַעֲשֶׂה, man must be regarded as subj. of לְחָסִיר: “that he may put away evil-doing.” In respect to מעשׂה, facinus, comp. e. g.1 Samuel 20:19.—And to hide pride from man; so that he does not see it, and so remains preserved from it (Hirzel, etc.), or: “so that he becomes unaccustomed to it” (Del.). Concerning the syncopated form נֵּוָה, see on Job 22:29. It is unnecessary to amend the verb יְכַסֶּה to יְכַלֶּה “to cause to disappear” (Dillmann), or to יְנַשֶּׂה, “to set aside, to remove” (Böttcher).

Job 33:18. To keep back his soul from the grave, i.e. to preserve him from death; comp. Psalms 16:10; Psalms 30:4 [3], 10 [9].—And his life (חַיָּה always with Elihu, equivalent to חַיִּים elsewhere; comp. Job 33:20; Job 33:22; Job 33:28) from perishing by the dart.—So (with Dillmann) [E. V. “by the sword,” but שׁלח rather means “missile”] are we to understand the phrase עָכַר בַּשֶּׁלַח, which occurs only here and Job 36:12 (comp. עבר in Job 34:20). The common explanation: “to precipitate one’s self into [or upon] the dart” (iruere in telum) is not so natural, and is not confirmed by the expression עָבַר בַּשַּׂחַת in Job 33:28, which, although of similar sound, is essentially different in signification (against Hirzel, Delitzsch, etc.). [“Here everything in thought and expression is peculiar.” Del.]

8. Continuation. The second instance of the divine visitation; β. By grievous painful disease: Job 33:19-22. Ewald, Hahn, Dillmann, groundlessly endeavor to treat this new instance as only a special expansion of that which precedes, because that already in Job 33:16 reference is made to severe suffering on the part of him to whom God addresses His dream-revelation—an inadmissible forcing of the meaning of מֹסָר in that passage, and at the same time disproved by the וְ at the beginning of the present verse, which is a connective, introducing a new thought, not an explicative particle, referring back to מֹסָר, from which it is much too far removed.—He is chastised also with pains on his bed, while the strife in his bones goes on continually.—So according to the K’thibh רִיב = “strife, contest” [admirably describing disease as a disturbance of the equilibrium of the powers: Del.], and in accordance with the correct rendering of אֵתָן (=אֵיתן, comp. Job 32:18) as predicate, not as the attribute of רִיב (“and by the continual conflict,” etc.), for the latter rendering (Hirzel, Vaih., Del.) is forbidden by the absence of the article before אֵתָן, Following the K’ri, רוֹב, which is supported by the ancient versions, and several MSS., we should have to explain (with Ewald, Dillmann, etc.): “while the multitude of his limbs is still vigorous throughout” (comp. Job 12:19; Job 20:11). [E. V.: “and the multitude of his bones with strong (or unceasing) pain.” So Aben-Ezra, Junius, Tremellius, Arn. (Vulg.: et omnia ossa ejus marcescere facit), but the construction of אתן is unnatural.]

Job 33:20. And his life makes bread a loathing.—זִהֵם causative Piel of the verb זָהַם, not found elsewhere in the Hebrew, which, according to the Arabic, signifies “to stink;” hence to cause to stink, to excite loathing (not as intensive of Kal, “to be disgusted,” as Rosenm., Umbr., Vaih., Hahn, etc., explain it). חַיָה again is here not = craving, hunger, any more than the parallel נֶפֶשׁ in b, but as always with Elihu: “life, vital energy.” Schlottmann truly remarks: “It expresses very vividly the thought that the proper vital power, the proper ψυχή, when it is consumed by disease, gives one a loathing for that which it otherwise likes as being a necessary condition of its own existence.”

Job 33:21. So that his flesh consumes away (יִכֶל abbreviated for וַיִּכֶל, comp. Ew. § 233, a) that it cannot be seen, lit. “away from seeing,” or “away from sightliness.” Comp. in respect to רֹאִי (pausal form for רֳאִי) 1 Samuel 16:12; Isaiah 52:14; Isaiah 53:2.—And his wasted limbs are scarcely to be seen any more (or “are become invisible”). So following the K’thibh וּשְׁפִי, which according to the Hebrew root, שפה, “to be bare,” expresses the notion of bareness, meagreness (scarcely as Gesen., Hirz., Del., etc. think, that of rottenness, putrefaction, after the Aram.), and in connection with the genitive עַצְמוֹתָיו produces the collective notion: “the wasting of his members = his wasted members,” with which the plur. predicate, לֹא רֻאוּ, agree perfectly well (comp. the similar constructions with רֹב or מִסְפָּר above, Job 32:7; Job 15:20; Job 21:21, and often). The K’ri וְשֻׁפּוּ, “and are made bare,” owes its origin to the attention being fixed on this incorrectly understood plural רֻאוּ. [“After יִכֶל and before וַתִּקְרַב the Perf. with וְ is out of place.” Dillm.] In respect to the pointing רֻאֹוּ, with Dagh. in א, comp. Delitzsch on the passage, and Ewald, § 21, e. [Green, § 121, 1, who, however, inclines to regard it as Mappik. In either case its function is to indicate the guttural quality of א, here to be carefully observed, to give strength to the description.—E.]

Job 33:22. On a comp. Job 33:18.—And his life to the angels of death, lit. “the slayers, or destroyers” (מְמִיתִים), by which are intended not only mortal pains (Rosenm., Schlottmann) [Barnes, Carey], but, according to Psalms 78:49; 2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Chronicles 21:15, angelic powers sent from God, and commissioned to destroy men. [The former explanation “does not commend itself, because the Elihu section has a strong angelological coloring in common with the book of Job.” Del.]

9. Continuation. The third instance of the divine visitation: γ. By sending a mediating angel as a deliverer out of distress, and so by a wonderful removal of the painful disease and danger of death just described: Job 33:23-28.—If then there is for him [עליו, “for,” better than “with him”] an angel, a mediator (מֵלִיץ here otherwise than in Job 16:20, where it was used in malem partem), one of thousands, to declare to man his duty (lit. “his uprightness, his right way,” comp. Proverbs 14:2).—Oecolampad., Schult,, Schnurr., Bouil., Eichh., Rosenm., Welte, v. Hofmann [Noyes, Barnes, Carey] understand by the מַלְאָךְ מֵלִיץ a human interpreter of the will of God, a prophet, or teacher of true wisdom, such as Job had before himself in Elihu. But the ancient reference to an angel (comp. Job 4:18) to which the majority of moderns also adhere, is supported by the following considerations. (1) The mention, just before, of the angel of death, to which manifestly there is now about to be introduced a contrast. (2) The contrast with לְאָדָם in c, as well as the office of delivering from death, with which, according to Job 33:23, the מלאךְ is invested. (3) His being called “one of a thousand,” which would scarcely characterize him as a man of an extraordinary sort, such as can scarcely be met with as one among a thousand, but rather as belonging to the innumerable hosts of heaven—a description, accordingly, which is to be understood not according to Ecclesiastes 7:28, but according to Daniel 7:10; Psalms 68:18 [17]. The latter designation, moreover, makes it impossible to regard this mediating or interpreting angel (comp. Genesis 42:23; Isaiah 43:27; 2 Chronicles 32:31) as an angel of peculiarly high rank, as e. g. the Mal’ak-Jehovah of the Pentateuch, or as the “Angel of the Presence,” or the Metathron of the later Jewish literature, as Schlottmann and Del. [Lee, Wordsw., Canon Cook in Smith’s Bib. Dic.] think; for the force of the clause אחד מגי־אלף is simply to put this one messenger of God on an equality with many others, whom God might in like manner entrust with such a commission, not to exalt him above them. The Messianic meaning, which many expositors attribute to the verse (even among those who understand the מַ׳ מֵ׳ of a human messenger of God, e. g. Schultens, Velthusen, J. D. Michaelis, also J. Pye Smith, Script. Testimony to the Messiah, I. 307, the last indeed only tentatively, and without definitely deciding the question), is accordingly in any case very indirect and general. Moreover a special Christological vaticinium of the kind which the majority of the older exegetes maintained (comp. especially J. D. Michaelis: De angelo interprete, Hal. 1707), would scarcely seem appropriate in the mouth of an extra-Israelitish sage of the patriarchal era, any more than that celebrated verse of the Œdipus Coloneus of Sophocles:

“One soul, in my opinion, for ten thousand will suffice
To make atonement, if with kindly feelings it draws nigh,”
could be understood as Messianic otherwise than very remotely (comp. Luthardt, Apolog. Vorträge ii. 224).

[“In the extra-Israelitish world a far more developed doctrine of angels and demons is everywhere found than in Israel, which is to be understood not only subjectively, but also objectively; and within the patriarchal history after Genesis 16:0. that (אלהים) מלאך יהוח appears, who is instrumental in effecting the progress of the history of redemption, and has so much the appearance of the God of revelation, that He even calls Himself God, and is called God. He it is whom Jacob means, when (Genesis 48:15 seq.), blessing Joseph, he distinguishes God the Invisible, God the Shepherd, i.e. Leader and Ruler, and “the Angel who delivered (הַגֹּאֵל) me from all evil;” it is the Angel who, according to Psalms 34:8, encampeth round about them that fear God, and delivereth them; “the Angel of the Presence,” whom Isaiah in the Thephilla, 63:7 seq., places beside Jehovah and His Holy Spirit as a third hypostasis. Taking up this perception, Elihu demands for the deliverance of man from the death which he has incurred by his sins, a superhuman angelic mediator. The “Angel of Jehovah” of primeval history is the oldest prefigurement in the history of redemption of the future incarnation, without which the Old Testament history would be a confused quodlibet of premises and radii, without a conclusion and a centre; and the angelic form is accordingly the oldest form which the hope of a deliverer assumes, and to which it recurs, in conformity to the law of the circular connection between the beginning and the end, in Malachi 3:1.” Delitzsch.—See further Remarks on Job 33:24.]

Job 33:24 is not the apodosis to the preceding verse (Hirzel, Hahn, Delitzsch, Kamphausen) [E. V., Con., Noyes, Renan, Rodwell], for God’s commission to the angel: “Deliver him,” etc.—belongs as yet to the preliminary conditions of the deliverance, which is first described in Job 33:25. The conditional particle of the preceding verse accordingly extends its influence over the present verse: and (if) He hath mercy on him, and saith, etc.,—This divine commission presupposes that the sorely afflicted one has truly repented, and laid to heart the salutary teachings of the angel. It is unnecessary with Schlottmann to take the angel as the subject of this brief clause, for the reason that the exercise of mercy cannot be the function of an angel.—Deliver him from going down into the pit (comp. Job 33:18 a), I have found a ransom, viz. for him. [“One is here reminded of Hebrews 9:12, αἰωνἰαν λύτρωσιν εὑράμενος.” Del.] By this is meant the intercession of the mediating angel, who had preached repentance, not in vain, to the sick one, and had therefore appeared before God, interceding in his behalf. Instead of פְּדָעֵהוּ (from a root פָּרַע, liberare, which is not elsewhere found, and which is hardly intelligible), it would seem natural to read either פְּדֵהוּ or פְּדָאֵהוּ (from פדה = פּוא); some MSS. show פְּוָעֵהוּ, solve eum, which, however, would be suitable only in case the angel addressed were the angel of death. [“כֹּפֶר according to its primary notion is not a covering = making good, more readily a covering = cancelling (from כָּפַר, Talmud, to wipe out, away), but, as the usual combination with עַל shows, a covering of sin and guilt before wrath, punishment, or execution on account of guilt, and in this sense λύτρον, a means of getting free, ransom-money. The connection is satisfied if the repentance of the chastened one (thus e. g. also von Hofm.) is understood by this ransom, or better, his affliction, inasmuch as it has brought him to repentance. But wherefore should the mediatorship of the angel be excluded from the notion of the כֹּפֶר? Just this mediatorship is meant, inasmuch as it puts to right him who by his sins had worked death, i.e. places him in a condition in which no further hindrance stands in the way of the divine pardon. If we connect the mediating angel, like the angel of Jehovah of the primeval history with God Himself, as then the logos of this mediating angel to man can be God’s own logos communicated by him, and he therefore as מליץ, God’s speaker (if we consider Elihu’s discourse in the light of the New Testament), can be the divine Logos himself, we shall here readily recognize a passage of the mystery which is unveiled in the New Testament: “God was in Christ, and reconciled the world unto Himself.” A presage of this mystery, flashing through the darkness, we have already read in Job 17:3 (comp. Job 16:21; and, on the other hand, in order to see how this anticipation is kindled by the thought of the opposite, Job 9:33). The presage which meets us here is like another in Psalms 107.—a Psalm which has many points of coincidence with the book of Job—where in Job 33:20 we find: ‘He sent His word, and healed them.’ At any rate Elihu expresses it as a postulate, that the deliverance of man can be effected only by a superhuman being, as it is in reality accomplished by the man who is at the same time, and from all eternity the Lord of the angels of light.” Delitzsch.

In addition to the suggestions which may be found in the two extracts from Delitzsch, given above in favor of explaining the מלאךְ מליץ of this passage in the higher sense of the O. T. מלי יהוה, the following considerations may be urged:

1. To understand the words of an ordinary angel furnishes no adequate explanation of the description here given of him. Especially is it difficult to understand on this theory why he should be spoken of as “one out of a thousand.” Is it (a) simply as a rhetorical amplification of the word “angel”—“one of the innumerable hosts of heaven?” (Renan). But this would be here a meaningless rhetorical flourish. What has his being one of a countless angelic company to do with the function here assigned to him? Is it (b) as a more precise definition of the Malakah, to indicate that he is an angelic, or celestial messenger? (Dillmann). But that would have been expressed in more definite language. Is it (c) restrictive—“but one among a thousand?” (Rodwell). Apart from the obscurity of the language to express such a thought, it is difficult to see the force of such a restriction. Not to indicate any unwillingness on the part of the angels in general, for that would be nothing to the purpose. It could only serve to magnify God’s willingness to be gracious—let but one mediator appear, and God will have mercy. But to this there are several decisive objections. (1) It is against the proper view of the connection, according to which Job 33:24 is not the consequent, but a part of the conditional antecedent. (2) It seems to be founded on the opinion that means an “intercessor” (so Rodwell—“interceding angel”), whereas he is God’s representative, not man’s. (3) It lies outside the scope of the passage. The sufferer has in the verses immediately preceding been brought to the verge of the grave. But all at once a glorious possibility presents itself—a Messenger from God, to show the sufferer the way of right, mercifully commissioned to deliver him, and lo! he is rescued, his youth renewed, and he beholds the face of God in joy] To interject the thought that such a messenger would be only one of a thousand like himself, would be confusing and weakening. The same objection would apply still more forcibly if we should take it to mean (d) any one of a thousand.

But Job 2:0 : understood of a מלאךְ of high rank, the words are significant. They indicate dignity, superiority.1 He is One out of, or above (מן combining its local and comparative force) a thousand, or thousands, or the thousand. Good explains: “one of the supreme chyliad, the preeminent thousand that shine at the top of the empyreal hierarchy, possessed of transcendent and exclusive powers, and confined to functions of the highest importance.” Granting that this explanation of אלף is problematical, it may still be said that whether we take it indefinitely for “a thousand” or collectively for “thousands,” i.e. all the angels, the phrase—“oneout of a thousand”—most naturally suggests rareness, pre-eminence. And this view of it accords with the rest of the description.

(1) The term מֵלִיץ, in such a connection, would naturally convey the idea of dignity. He is an ambassador, internuncius (see 2 Chronicles 32:31), an angelic envoy endowed with an extraordinary commission—certainly not here, as the context shows, the mere mouthpiece of another (as in Genesis 42:23).

(2) His function—“to show to man the right way” (his rightness, his true life)—suggests at once the Prophet foretold by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15 seq.), one who should interpret—declare—more clearly than mere man could the will of God by which man is to be saved.

(3) His remedial commission, it will be seen, is extraordinary: (a) In its origin, in the special, solemn, formal manner in which he is invested with it. (b) In its nature—involving as it does deliverance from the pit, and the completion of man’s ransom—כֹּפֶו—a word used again by Elihu (Job 36:18) in the most solemn connection with reference to deliverance from the most terrible of destinies (comp. also Psalms 49:8, and the use of the cognates כִּפֵּר כִּפֻּרִים, and כַּפֹּרֶת, as significant of the expiation of sin): (c) In its results—especially as embracing reconciliation with God (Job 33:26).

3. Add that the idea of Divine Grace, as developed so remarkably in Job 33:26-27, comes into more fitting connection with such an interpretation of the passage as involves an evangelic anticipation of the revelation of grace in Christ, the great μεσίτης.

4. The passage is not indeed to be constrained into a complete exposition of Christ’s mediatorial office. Here, as elsewhere in our book, the truth is fragmentary, obscure, a prophetic hint, little more than the yearning after a possibility. This consideration however would all the more seem to put it in the category of such passages as Job 14:14 seq.; Job 17:3; Job 19:25 seq. It is a hypothesis, hanging on an If—אִס־יֵשׁ—but it is an If, the answer to which is the Amen of the Gospel.

If, as shown above, the language itself points in the highest direction here indicated, we are still further justified in taking that direction by the position which must be accorded to Elihu’s discourses in the book. Assuming here their genuineness, they must be regarded as a part of the solution of the problem. So regarded, it would seem strange if they did not once show us those heights of aspiration and faith, of which Job’s words have already given us such wonderful glimpses. On the other hand, it should not seem to us strange that the young sage, the precursor of Jehovah, in the disentanglement of the book’s mystery, whose especial mission in the book it is to throw the light of inspired thought on the mystery, should reflect upon it some rays from the mediatorial cross. E.].

Job 33:25. Apodosis to Job 33:23 seq.: (then) his flesh swells with the vigor of youth. In respect to the Perf. quadril. רֻטֲפַשׁ “to be over-juicy, to swell,” comp. Ewald, § 131, g [Green, § 180, a]. נֹעַר [peculiar to the Elihu section] here and in Job 36:14, instead of the customary נְעוּרִים. The מִן before this word is used not comparatively, but causally, as the parallel thought in b shows.

Job 33:26. If he prayeth to Eloah, He accepteth him graciously (comp. Job 22:27), and causeth him to behold His face with rejoicing, or: “so that he sees His face with rejoicing:” both renderings are equally possible, according as we render וירא as imper. Kal, or Hiph. The rendering of Umbreit and Ewald, however, is inappropriate: “and He cause his face to look upon joy,” because ראה בְ already signifies of itself, “to see joy” (see Job 33:28 b).—And He gives back again to man his righteousness, which he had lost; not “requites to man his uprightness,” as Delitzsch (after Luther) translates, for Job 33:27 b does not agree with this. Moreover to express this idea of the recompense of upright actions, we should rather expect to find כְּצִדְקָתוֹ. The idea of a righteousness in the rescued sinner, restored to him by God as a free gift, is peculiar to Elihu. It at least retires quite into the background in the descriptions, otherwise quite similar, of the three friends, such as Job 5:19 seq.; Job 8:21; Job 11:15 seq.; Job 22:23 seq., and thus characterizes Elihu’s religious and ethical views as more free from legal narrowness and externality.

Job 33:27. He singeth to man, and saith.יָשֹׁר, abbreviated Imperf. from שִׁיר = שׁוּרי (comp. Job 36:24). עַל־אֲנָשִׁים, lit. “to men, addressed to them;” comp. Proverbs 25:20. As to the thought, however, comp. Psalms 22:23 [Psalms 22:22] seq.; Psalms 51:14, and often. The song of thanksgiving chanted by the redeemed and justified one [a “psalm in nuce,” Del.] now begins, and extends to the end of the following verse.—Still it was not recompensed to me; lit. “it was not made equal to me,” non æquatum est mihi (שָׁוָה, neuter or impersonal) [E. V.: “and it profited me not” (Syr., Targ.) is a legitimate rendering of the Heb., but is far less appropriate to the connection. It misses entirely the recognition of grace, in that he had not received the just recompense of his sins. The rendering of the first part of the verse is also more forced, and less satisfactory, when יָשֹׁר is rendered: “He looketh,” and וַיֹּאמֶר: “and if any say:” against which may still further be urged the Vav. consec. here, and the Perf. פָּדָה, and the K’thibh נַפְשִׁי in 28a.—E.].

Job 33:28. He hath redeemed my soul (read with the K’thibh נַפְשִׁי, for the eucharistic discourse of the redeemed one is still continued here), from going down into the pit (comp. Job 33:18), and my life shall enjoy seeing the light;i.e. the light of this world (John 11:9), which, as the upper world, stands here in contrast with the gloomy “grave,” and so also in Job 33:30; comp. Job 3:16; Job 3:20. Delitzsch,, against the context, and with an interpolation of thought: “in the light of the divine (countenance, in the gracious presence of God.”

10. Conclusion: first of all (Job 33:29-30) of the second chief division—teaching the gracious and righteous dispensations of God in educating His human children; and then (Job 33:31-33) of the whole discourse—the last sentence being a summons to Job to bear attentively the discourses of instruction which follow.—Behold, all this God does—referring back to all of which he has spoken from Job 33:14 on, with a recurrence in particular of the idea of repeatedness found also in that passage, for this is what is expressed there by באחתand בשתים, here by פַּעֲמַיִם שָׁלשׁbis terque—an expression which on account of the lack of the וְ between the two adverbs of time, the ancient versions misunderstood, and so read as though it were פְּעָמִים שָׁלשׁ [“three times;” E. V. more indefinitely “oftentimes”].

Job 33:30. On a comp. Job 33:18; on b, Job 33:28, and Ps. 56:14 [Psalms 56:13]. [“שַׁחַת here for the fifth time in this speech, without being anywhere interchanged with שְׁאוֹל or another synonym, which is remarkable.” Del.] לֵאוֹר, syncopated form of the Inf. Niphal, instead of לְהֵאוֹר [Gr., § 159, 2], “that he may be lighted, or enlightened with the light of life” (in contrast with the darkness of death, with which he had already been overshadowed.

Job 33:31. Attend, O Job, and hearken to me.—This can scarcely be regarded as a summons to ponder quietly on what he had heard (Del.), but rather to listen to what he had further to communicate, as b incontrovertibly proves.

Job 33:32. If (however) thou hast words, then reply to me (comp. Job 33:5); speak, for I desire thy justification, i.e. not “that thou shouldst justify thyself” (Hirzel), but that thou mayest stand vindicated, I wish to see thee declared righteous (comp. Job 32:2, with Job 33:26 c). Here also again the normal evangelical notion of justification, in contrast with all false self-justification, is expressed by Elihu.

Job 33:33. If not (אִמ אַיִן, to wit מִלִּין, comp. Genesis 30:1), then do thou hear me. אַתָּה emphatic: “thou on thy part.”—Be silent (as in Job 33:31 b), and I will teach thee wisdom. חָכְמָה here instead of the דֵּעַ several times used in the introduction (comp. Job 32:6 b, Job 32:10, Job 32:17; Job 33:3). אִלֵּף, “to teach,” as in Job 15:5


1. Partly on the ground of Elihu’s circumstantial self-introduction in Job 32:6 to Job 33:7, partly on the ground of the first discourse of admonition and instruction which immediately follows, very unfavorable judgments o have from ancient times down to our own been delivered in respect to the person and the religious and ethical stand-point of this speaker. Following the example of Jerome,2 Gregory the Great, at the close of his exposition of the first discourse, describes Elihu as an arrogans, who dum vera ac mystica, loquitur, subito per tumor em cordis quædam inania ac superba permiscet. The Venerable Bede even identifies him with the false prophet (ariolus) Balaam.3 following perhaps the guidance of the Rabbis, for in the Talmud and Midrash the same worthless conceit recurs (as in like manner it seems to be an anonymous Jewish writer, who recently [in Bernstein’s Analecten, Vol. III., under the title, Der Satan als Irrgeist und Engel des Lichts] has made the attempt to represent Elihu as Satan in disguise). Olympiodorus judges him more favorably, but is still of opinion that he has not done full justice to Job, the truly pious and holy man, and is for that same reason at last neither praised nor blamed by God (Catena in Job, ed. Lond. p. 484). Most of the Jesuit commentators in modern times regard Elihu as an empty, puffed up boaster, whom God rightly ignores, and whose hatred against Job is to be explained from his near relationship to him, his Nahorite descent; so e. g. Escobai (Comment. in Biblia, Tom. IV., p. 94, 125); while other Roman Catholic exegetes, e. g. the Capuchin Volducius (Comment. Tom. II., p. 445 seq.) adjudge him to be in the right, so far as all that is essential is concerned.—Among Protestant commentators Luther, so far as may be gathered from various scattered intimations, partly from his translation of chs. 32–37., partly from his Introduction to the book of Job, and other expressions on the subject, seems to have put Elihu’s discourses, as respects their theological value and contents, on the same plane with those of the three friends. Vict. Strigel renders a decidedly unfavorable verdict upon them, Elihu being to him an exemplum ambitiosi oratoris, qui plenus sit ostentatione et audacia insinuata in mente. Herder calls Elihu’s speech, in comparison with the majestic thunder-speech of the Creator, “the weak, rambling talk of a boy,” and says: “Elihu, a young prophet, intemperate, bold, alone wise, draws fine pictures, without end or aim; hence no one answers him, and he stands there as a mere shadow” (Vom Geist der Ebr. Pœsie, p. 101, 142). Umbreit’s language is similar, only yet stronger. Elihu’s appearance he describes as “the uncalled-for stumbling in of a conceited young philosopher into the conflict that is already properly ended,” and “the silent contempt with which he is allowed to speak is the merited reward of a babbler” (Komment., 2d Ed., p. XXV seq.). In like manner Wohlfarth, who says that Elihu is “a vain-glorious conceited boaster, as it were a spiritual Goliath!” M. Sachs (Stud. u. Kritiken, 1834, IV. p. 416 seq.), and A. Hahn, who (Komment. p. 18) calls him “a most conceited and arrogant young man, who with all his undeniable scientific knowledge is boastful and officious” [Noyes, who calls him “forward”], and this in accordance with the purpose of the poet, who represents him as such a character intentionally. The judgment of those who oppose the genuineness of the Elihu-episode is naturally to some extent unfavorable. See a number of such expressions collected together out of de Wette’s Introduction, in Umbreit (l. c.); also Eichhorn in Schlottmann, p. 54; v. Hofmann in Delitzsch (II., 240); and very recently Dillmann’s closing opinion in respect to Elihu’s self-introduction (p. 297): “The impression which this long introductory discourse makes on the reader is not favorable; Elihu’s self-praise, and his verbose vaunting of that which he is about to do, is somewhat unseemly,” etc. So also what he says of the first discourse (p. 304)—that Elihu’s representation of the suffering of Job as a means of discipline and improvement employed by God exhibits throughout nothing new, that it is “precisely the same method of explanation as that which the three friends had adopted in the beginning of the controversy, which Eliphaz especially, in Job 5:17 seq., had sharply and clearly expressed.” and which Job would have been perfectly justified in rejecting as unacceptable.

To these unfavorable judgments respecting the character of their speaker there may indeed be opposed, a number equally large of such as are favorable, which, finding their principal support as well in Job 32:0. and 33. see in Elihu a direct forerunner, not only on the negative, but also on the positive side, of the final decision of the controversy by Jehovah. So already Augustine, according to whom Elihu ut primas partes modestiæ habuit ita et sapientiæ; Chrysostom, who represents him in two respects—in respect of his speech, and of his silence—as an eloquent witness to true Wisdom 4 subsequently Thomas Aquinas (Opp. Tom. I., p. 137, 184, ed. Venet.), Brentius, Oecolampadius, Calvin, Pareau (see the passage quoted out of his commentary above in the Introduction § 10, Rem.) Cocceius, Sebastian Schmidt, Starke, [Schultens, Lightfoot, Bp. Patrick, Matt. Henry], etc.; and quite recently in particular Schlottmann, Räbiger (Del. Jobi sent, primaria), Hengstenberg, Völk, and the greater part of those who advocate the genuineness of these discourses [to whom may be added some even of the opponents of their genuineness, such as Davidson, Introd. II., pp. 210–213; Delitzsch II., 239 seq.]. We must declare ourselves decidedly in favor of the latter estimate of the value and import of this section, although it seems to us a one-sided, or at least an incautious statement to say that it is (according to Hengstenberg’s Vortrage über das Buch Hiob, p. 27) “the throbbing heart” of the whole poem, or that (according to v. Gerlach, A. T. III., 86) these discourses “give us the true intent of the whole, the views of the author himself, or that Elihu, unlike the three friends, is introduced as standing within the pale of the Abrahamitic revelation (so Vilmar, see above on Job 32:2). It is certainly the poet’s intention that Elihu should be regarded as a factor needing to be corrected or to be supplemented by the entire colloquy, otherwise he would not actually furnish such very important supplementary additions as are found in Jehovah’s discourses, and the final action in the epilogue. But he does unquestionably represent him as a speaker who approaches very closely the complete Divine truth, nearer than any one of the preceding speakers. This is seen at the outset, in the way he introduces himself in these two chapters, and lays down the foundation of the didactic discussion which follows.

2. Respecting the point, that in Elihu’s self-introduction, as well as in the poet’s introduction which precedes it (Job 32:2-6), there is nothing that is unbecoming, nothing that justifies the charge of vanity, or an overweening self-conceit, or idle loquacity against Elihu, see above Introduction § 10, ad, 6 and 7 seq. Here attention is specially called to the fact that the frequency and confidence with which he puts forth his knowledge (Job 32:6 b, Job 32:10, Job 32:17; Job 33:3) was indispensable, inasmuch as it was precisely on this intellectual possession of the speaker that his right to make his appearance along with those men so much older than himself rested, inasmuch indeed as, if he had not been endowed with an extraordinary fullness of knowledge and wisdom, he could not have escaped the reproach of impudent self-intrusion, or shameless arrogance. The reader is still further reminded there that the humility and modesty of Elihu appear not only in the fact that as the youngest he had hitherto been silent, but also in the fact that at the close of his self-introduction he solemnly declares (Job 33:4-7) that it is his purpose to address himself to Job as man to man, as the medium accordingly of a wisdom which is purely human, and which by no means denies its earthly origin—not as though he were about presumptuously to communicate a divine revelation which should confound or terrify him, in short not as a preacher of repentance, or a prophet, thundering upon him from above (see the Exegetical Remarks on the above passages.)

3. This same purely human, and for that reason mild and humane impress stamps itself on the beginning of his didactic expositions in the first discourse. Elihu here exhibits himself as far less of a legalist than the three censurers of Job who have preceded him. He certainly does maintain against Job that his assertion that he is altogether pure and innocent, and his other assertion, that God is cruelly persecuting him, are without justification and presumptuous (Job 33:12 seq.). But instead of at once proceeding to threaten him with God’s direst punishments for his conduct, or setting before his eyes that terrible picture of the irretrievable destruction of obstinate evil-doers, which was the favorite theme of the descriptions of his predecessors, he assumes an incomparably gentler, more comforting, more affectionate tone. He puts in the foreground—herein proving himself to be a genuine teacher of wisdom, an apostle of the real Divine wisdom revealed in the New Testament—the idea of the מּוסר (Job 33:16), i. e. of chastisement, of God’s discipline, strict and yet mild as that of a father, attributes to Job’s grievous suffering essentially the significance which is conferred upon it by such a disciplinary standard (such purifying suffering in the way of temptation, in contrast with suffering merely in the way of trial 5), and in a friendly way points out to Job how near God is to him in the midst of his misery, and how little reason he has to doubt His help and deliverance. He then describes this deliverance itself, on the one side as depending on the intervention of a superhuman mediating angel, commissioned to declare to him the merciful and gracious will of God (Job 33:23 seq.), on the other side as immediately followed by the gracious restoration of his former righteousness, a “justification” (Job 33:26 c; Job 33:32) which is to be viewed as forgiveness, or a solemn readmission to the position of a child of God. In both these utterances respecting the deliverance hypothetically promised to Job, Elihu approximates most remarkably the fundamental features of the New Testament revelation of salvation. For his idea of justification differs from the evangelical Pauline idea only in the absence of a direct reference to the crucified and risen Redeemer as the ground of the δικαίωσις (causa meritoria justificationis). His supposition that God would send one of His thousands of angels, as a mediating power, to a sorely tried and chastised mortal, to rescue and convert him, and to instruct him concerning the way of salvation, and so to facilitate his redemption and restoration to the energy and joy of a new life, comes in contact indeed only remotely with the Messianic idea. For certain as it is that the mediatorial angel of salvation is put essentially on an equality with the angel of disease and death mentioned just before, not exalted above him (comp. Job 33:22 b, with Matthew 8:9, and parallel passages), so certain is it that the passage is related only indirectly to the idea and fact of the Gospel revelation of the divine-human mediator, Jesus Christ. It does nevertheless unquestionably stand in a certain typical and prophetic relation to the New Testament ideas of the Messiah. This is made certain by the fact that the commission with which the mediatorial messenger from God is entrusted is not of a physical, external and medicinal character, but before all redemptive in the religious and ethical sense, and also by the fact that the messenger whom Elihu supposes to be entrusted with the execution of this divine commission is not an earthly and human, but a heavenly, superhuman being (comp. the Exeget. Rem. on Job 33:23). In more than one respect accordingly does this speaker, even in this his first didactic exposition, show his superiority to the three friends. He reveals a higher calling, and shows incomparably greater skill than they in producing an enlightening, ennobling and elevating influence on the mind of Job, longing as he does for heavenly comfort; and he proves himself to be in truth the most advanced, the most richly furnished, intellectually the largest possessor of the human Chokmah among the four who successively encounter Job as human comforters and teachers of wisdom. Comp. Starke’s remarks: “Elihu sees much deeper into the mystery of affliction than the three former friends. He is much more discreet and reasonable in his intercourse with Job than the others; he does not make him out a hypocrite, or one who is evidently ungodly, but he shows how by affliction God would purge him of all reliance on his own righteousness, and simply point him to the righteousness of the Messiah. What he says so beautifully Job 33:23 in respect to the intercession of the mediator, and the whole context clearly show this to be his purpose.”

4. In a homiletic respect, it is of course the second half of the section here embraced by us, or Job 33:8-33, that furnishes by far the richest and most fruitful material. Here Elihu, the Aramaic sage of the patriarchal age, presents himself as the proclaimer of truths which show many points of contact with those of the New Testament system of redemption, and which justify us in regarding him as an unconscious prophet of Christ, if not of His person, at least of His work. Much that is stimulating may nevertheless be derived even from the first introductory half, especially when we take, as our highest point of observation, the circumstance that Elihu there desires to apologize for his youth, and for that reason sets forth so much in detail the necessity for his speaking. The basis for such reflections might be found in some such parallel as Elihu—Jeremiah—Timothy (comp. Jeremiah 1:6; 1 Timothy 4:12).


Particular Passages

Job 32:2 seq. Zeyss: It is not wrong to show wrath against evil, especially where God’s honor is concerned. But we must take particular care that such a holy fire of righteous anger be not mixed with the strange fire of earthly affections. Ephesians 4:26.

Job 32:6 seq. Cocceius: The man who is about to plant seed in his field, first weeds out noxious herbs, and ploughs thoroughly the surface of the soil. He who expects to instil his own arguments into the mind of another, must first mollify it, and free it of suspicion, in order that afterwards it may receive more eagerly that which is to be communicated. The obstacles in the way of Elihu seemed to be the suspicion of arrogance on his part, and his age, and also the authority of the friends, and their opinion concerning themselves. He attacks the first obstacle in these verses, etc.—Jo. Lange: In true wisdom, that which is of importance is—not age, but—the illumination of the Holy Spirit. If young people have a clear perception of divine things, those who are older need not be ashamed to hear them, and to learn from them.—V. Gerlach: The illumination of the Holy Ghost is not confined to old age. This very saying (Job 32:9) shows that we must not take offence at the apparent boastfulness of Elihu’s words, seeing that he gives the glory not to himself, but to God. The vivid, copious, oriental style gives to the discourse a different look in the eyes of the less ardent inhabitants of the West, from what it had in its own fatherland.

Job 32:18 seq. Starke: The man whose heart is full, his mouth runs over. Let a man therefore store up goodly treasure in his heart, and he will speak that which is good and useful.—Dost thou find in thyself a strong impulse to say or do something, first search well to see whether it proceeds from a good or an evil spirit (Romans 8:14).—V. Gerlach: At the close he repeats the assurance that although he presumes to speak, and to rebuke the aged, he nevertheless feels himself under a divine compulsion, and can therefore have in view only the glory of God, not that of any man whatsoever.

Job 33:4-7. Brentius: This is a most potent reason why one should not despise another, nor treat him scornfully. For we have all been made by the same God, through the same Word, in the same Spirit; we have earth, water, air, heaven, as our common heritage. But if you look at Christians, they have a still closer bond uniting them together; for in Ephesians 4:0. it is said: There is one body, one spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, etc.; and in Romans 14:0.: Destroy not thy brother, for whom Christ died. If therefore this idea were treasured up deep in our faith, it would without difficulty restrain us from wronging, despising or slandering our brethren, if we verily believed that our brother is of such dignity that Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, for his sake descended from heaven, and poured out His blood.

Job 33:15 seq. Oecolampadius: It behooved that this way (that of an αποκάλυψις by dreams) should have been the first and most familiar to us, so that written communications would have been superfluous, the Holy Spirit writing on our hearts. But after that we had turned aside from God to the vanity of this world, it is one of the rarest things known. Philosophers, ignoring both the dignity of man and the harm wrought by sin, have decided that man can acquire knowledge only through the teaching of the senses; for which reason they also deride the gift of αποκάλυψις. Elihu seems to have spoken not of ordinary dreams, but of such as visited Abimelech and Laban.—Zeyss: After that God had at sundry times and in divers manners spoken to the fathers, by revelations, visions, and dreams, etc., as well as by the prophets, He hath at last spoken to us by His Son. He therefore who values his own happiness, and would escape destruction, let him believe and obey, the Word of God.—v. Gerlach: A sufferer, who lives in fellowship with God, receives from Him in dreams of the night (and in many such ways), instructive intimations respecting the divine purposes in his calamities; he thus learns to understand aright what God would say to him in such ways. Elihu intimates here (especially in Job 33:16) that Job might have received divine communications, without observing them.

Job 33:23 seq. Cocceius: This passage makes evident to us the faith of the Ancient Church touching the Mediator. … These things indeed are spoken by Elihu, in accordance with the condition of those times, αἰνιγματωδέστερον; but they are nevertheless in such exact accordance with the predictions of the prophets, and the declarations of the Apostles, that unless it be supposed that the Holy Spirit wished to lead the men of old somewhere else than towards the mystery of the Gospel, and to teach something else than the same forms of speech would convey in later times, there is not the slightest doubt that this is the true meaning of these words of Elihu, which had proceeded from the Spirit of God, and which were understood by himself in accordance with his own standard. Neither indeed was there anything which Elihu could more readily or suitably impress upon Job. For although Job had clearly enough professed faith in a Mediator, especially in Job 19:0. (?) he had nevertheless not so evidently touched upon the doctrine concerning Christ’s merits and satisfaction, nor had he in his discussions either considered this usefulness of affliction, which Elihu sets forth, or magnified it in proportion to its worth.—Starke: see above [Doctrinal, etc.] No. 3.—Wohlfarth: Although an unprejudiced exposition cannot find in these words the doctrine of an atonement through Jesus Christ, we have nevertheless so obvious a reminder of Christ here, that we cannot help observing it. If in ancient times men placed their hope in the intercession of heavenly spirits with God, how much more glorious the consolation which we have, who can say with exultation: We thank Thee, O God, that Thou hast so loved the world, etc., (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 1:24).—v. Gerlach: We are not to infer from the language here used that there is a particular angel, whose office it is to bring the prayers of men before God; rather does the expression—“one of a thousand”—denote one of the many messengers of God, who are appointed to watch over the life of His people, and to conduct them to eternal bliss (Hebrews 1:14). It does however contain the thought of representation, intercession before God, and in so far this passage points to the only Mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5), and likewise to the Holy Ghost, who intercedes for God’s children with groanings that cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26), and is thus an anticipation of the New Testament. The thought to which Elihu here gives expression is essentially related to that which Job has already expressed in Job 17:3; Job 19:25, although it is by no means the same thought. … But here the thought is supplied which is there wanting,—that the office of the redeeming angel is not so much to attest the innocence, or the already perfected righteousness of men before God, but rather as man’s advocate to intercede in his behalf because of his repentance. This it was in the perception of which Job was as yet lacking.

Job 33:26 seq. From the regeneration and quickening of the Gospel the most abundant fruits grow. First prayer, than which a greater gift can scarcely come from God to man. … The second fruit is the joy of the Holy Ghost, which is God’s sweet face gladdening our consciences. … The third fruit is confession—not that which is of the ear, auricular, but the true confession of the heart, the acknowledgment of sins, etc.—Starke: So beautifully has Elihu seen into the ways and purposes of God, even in the midst of trials, and where it seems as though He would destroy and cast off a soul, that he puts forth the assurance that it all has no other end in view than the true, eternal deliverance of the sufferer. And this was exactly the plaster for Job’s wounds, in order that his pain and his disquietude under the strokes of God’s hands might be assuaged and allayed, while he should be led to perceive God’s faithfulness, and to thank Him for it.


[1]This is the meaning of the clause assumed by the commentators who suppose a human messenger to be referred to; e. g. Rosenmüller: facit ad dignitatem ejus commendandam.

[2]Or rather of the Pseudo-Jerome, i. e. of that presbyter, Philippus, whose Expositio interlinearis on our book, found among the works of Jerome, was afterwards revised by the Venerable Bede (comp. Opp. Hieronymi, ed, Vallars, Tom. III., Append., p. 895 seq.).

[3]Sunt alii extra ecclesiam, qui Christo ejusque ecclesiæ similiter adversantur, quorum imaginem prætulit Balaam ille ariolus, qui et Elieu sicut patrum traditio habet, qui contra ipsum sanctum Job multa improbe et injuriose locatus est, in tantum ut esiam displiceret inconcinna ejus et in disciplinata loquac tas (Bedæ Opp. ed. Basil. III., c. 602).

[4] Ἑκατέρωθεν οῦ̔ν αὐτοῦ τὴν σύνεσιν στοιχάζομεν�. De Patient. Job., Homil. IV.

[5]In respect to the distinction between suffering for temptation, and suffering for trial, comp. Vilmar, Past.-Theol., XI. 62 seq., (also Theolog. Moral. I. 174 seq.) A temptation is, according to this striking discrimination, which is no less instructive than Scriptural, “a punitive act of God (inflicted through Satan), by which man is to be made conscious that in his inmost soul the adversary can yet find points of contact, by which to allure and urge him onward. By the temptation the secret sin is first disclosed, then perceived, and finally overcome (comp. Psalms 90:8).” The object of a trial on the other hand is simply to prove those whom God has already recognized as holy and good to be such. The suffering of trial, as the same is described especially in Psalms 42, 56 (to some extent also in the book of Job,—a fact not sufficiently recognized by Vilmar), “does not exclude the entire nearness of God, and the consciousness of this nearness, whereas in temptation the gracious nearness of God is not only not realized, but on the contrary God appears as a God afar off, as an angry God,” etc.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Job 33". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/job-33.html. 1857-84.
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