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Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical Lange's Commentary
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Job 35". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ lcc/ job-35.html. 1857-84.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Job 35". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
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Proof that man is not right in doubting God’s righteousness:
a. Opening: Censure of the doubt of God’s righteousness expressed by Job:
1 Furthermore Elihu answered and said:
2 Hear my words, O ye wise men;
and give ear unto me, ye that have knowledge.
3 For the ear trieth words,
as the mouth tasteth meat.
4 Let us choose to us judgment:
let us know among ourselves what is good.
5 For Job hath said: “I am righteous;
and God hath taken away my judgment.
6 Should I lie against my right?
my wound is incurable without transgression.”
7 What man is like Job,
who drinketh up scorning like water?
8 Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity,
and walketh with wicked men?
9 For he hath said: “It profiteth a man nothing
that he should delight himself with God.”
b. Proof that the Divine righteousness is necessary, and that it really exists
α. From God’s disinterested love of His creatures:
10 Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding!
Far be it from God that He should do wickedness;
and from the Almighty, that He should commit iniquity!
11 For the work of a man shall He render unto him,
and cause every man to find according to his ways.
12 Yea, surely God will not do wickedly,
Neither will the Almighty pervert judgment.
13 Who hath given Him a charge over the earth?
or who hath disposed the whole world?
14 If He set His heart upon man,
if He gather unto Himself his spirit and his breath;
15 All flesh shall perish together,
and man shall turn again unto dust.
β. From the idea of God as Ruler of the world:
16 If now thou hast understanding, hear this:
hearken to the voice of my words.
17 Shall even he that hateth right govern?
and wilt thou condemn Him that is Most Just?
18 Is it fit to say to a king, “Thou art wicked?”
and to princes, “Ye are ungodly?”
19 How much less to Him that accepteth not the persons of princes,
nor regardeth the rich more than the poor?
for they all are the work of His hands.
20 In a moment shall they die,
and the people shall be troubled at midnight, and pass away:
and the mighty shall be taken away without hand.
21 For His eyes are upon the ways of man,
and He seeth all his goings.
22 There is no darkness, nor shadow of death,
where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.
23 For He will not lay upon man more than right;
that he should enter into judgment with God.
24 He shall break in pieces mighty men without number,
and set others in their stead.
25 Therefore He knoweth their works,
and He overturneth them in the night, so that they are destroyed.
26 He striketh them as wicked men
in the open sight of others;
27 Because they turned back from Him,
and would not consider any of His ways:
28 So that they cause the cry of the poor to come unto Him,
and He heareth the cry of the afflicted.
29 When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?
and when He hideth His face, who then can behold Him?
whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only:
30 That the hypocrite reign not,
lest the people be ensnared.
c. Exhibition of Job’s inconsistency and folly in reproaching God with injustice, and at the same time appealing to His decision:
31 Surely it is meet to be said unto God—
“I have borne chastisement, and will not offend any more:
32 That which I see not teach Thou me:
If I have done iniquity, I will do no more.”
33 Should it be according to thy mind? He will recompense it, whether thou refuse,
or whether thou choose; and not I:
therefore speak what thou knowest.
34 Let men of understanding tell me,
and let a wise man hearken unto me.
35 Job hath spoken without knowledge,
and his words were without wisdom.
36 My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end,
because of his answers for wicked men.
37 For he addeth rebellion unto his sin,
he clappeth his hands among us,
and multiplieth his words against God.
Refutation of the false position that piety is not productive of happiness to men:
a. The folly of the erroneous notion that piety and godliness are alike of little advantage to men:
1 Elihu spake, moreover, and said:
2 Thinkest thou this to be right,
that thou saidst “My righteousness is more than God’s?”
3 For thou saidst, “What advantage will it be unto thee?”
and, “What profit shall I have if I be cleansed from my sin?”
4 I will answer thee,
and thy companions with thee.
5 Look unto the heavens, and see;
and behold the clouds which are higher than thou.
6 If thou sinnest, what doest thou against Him?
or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto Him?
7 If thou be righteous, what givest thou Him?
or what receiveth He of thine hand?
8 Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art,
and thy righteousness may profit the son of man.
b. The true reason why the deliverance of the sufferer is often delayed, viz.:
α. The lack of true godly fear:
9 By reason of the multitude of oppressions they make the oppressed to cry:
they cry out by reason of the arm of the mighty.
10 But none saith, “Where is God, my Maker,
who giveth songs in the night;
11 Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth,
and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven?”
12 There they cry, but none giveth answer,
because of the pride of evil men.
13 Surely God will not hear vanity,
neither will the Almighty regard it.
14 Although thou sayest, thou shalt not see Him,
yet judgment is before Him; therefore trust thou in Him.
β. Dogmatic and presumptuous speeches against God:
15 But now, because it is not so, He hath visited in His anger;
yet He knoweth it not in great extremity:
16 Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain;
he multiplieth words without knowledge.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. Of the two charges which Elihu had brought forward against Job at the beginning of his first discourse (Job 33:9-11—the one, that he regarded himself as perfectly pure and innocent,—the other, that he accused God of treating him with cruel severity—the former was subjected to particular examination in the first discourse. The three remaining discourses of Elihu are devoted to the examination of the second charge in which Job represents God as a cruel, unjust, and unfriendly persecutor of his innocence, and consequently doubts the justice of God’s actions as Ruler of the Universe. Of the two discourses which are here combined together, the second (Job 34:0.) controverts Job’s denial of the justice of God’s conduct, proving that it is just on the positive side—a: from God’s absolutely unselfish disinterested love towards His creatures, and b: from the conception of God as Ruler of the universe (Job 34:10-30), while at the same time on the negative side it assails the folly and self-contradiction of Job in doubting the justice of the God to whom he himself appeals as Supreme Judge (Job 34:31-37). The third discourse (Job 35:0.) controverts more particularly Job’s doubt as to the utility of piety, his tendency, as repeatedly manifested by him, to call it a matter of indifference whether a man’s actions were good or bad, seeing that no righteous retribution from God is to be looked for. In opposition to this dangerous error, which Job 34:9 had already put forward in all its pernicious force, this discourse maintains a: that such an opinion is irrational, and absolutely irreconcilable with God’s wonderful greatness (Job 34:1-8), and then defines b: the true reason why God’s righteous and saving activity is so often long delayed, the reason being α: that he who is tried by such doubts is often wanting in true godly fear (Job 34:9-14); or β: that he is guilty of speaking arrogantly and dogmatically against God, as had been the case in particular with Job (Job 34:15-16).—These subdivisions coincide for the most part with the single strophes, except that some of the longer divisions contain two and three strophes each.—Against the attempt of Köster and Schlottmann to throw suspicion on the genuineness of Job 35:1, see below on the passage.
2. The second discourse: Job 34 a. Opening: Job 34:1-9. And Elihu began and said, being incited by Job’s silence [hence וַיַּעַן as elsewhere—“and answered”], who had nothing to reply to that which El. had hitherto brought forward. So again in Job 35:1 (but somewhat differently on the contrary in the introduction of the fourth discourse, Job 36:1).
Job 34:2. Hear, ye wise men, my words. The “wise and knowing ones” here appealed to (comp. Job 34:10, “men of understanding”) are neither all in the world capable of forming a judgment (Hirzel), nor the circle of listeners who had gathered around the disputants, i.e. to say, all those present with the exception of Job and the three, all “impartial experts, whose presence is assumed” (Schlott., Del., Dillm.). There is no reason apparent why Job and the three should be regarded as excluded from the number of the wise men addressed; except that they are included only in so far as they are prepared to lift themselves above their own partisan stand-point to those higher points of view established by Elihu. In other words that which is really wise and intelligent in them is set over against that which is erroneous and in need of correction.
Job 34:3. For the ear trieth words. Here Elihu’s own ear is intended as well as that of the wise men addressed; for it is a trial of the truth in common to which he would summon them by this appeal to the natural capacity of judgment, which man possesses. In regard to b, comp. Job 12:11. Instead of the form אכל יטעם לו found there, we have here יטעם לאכל: “proves, tastes in order to eat,” i.e. when it would eat [or gerundive, vescendo.]
Job 34:4. The right would we choose for ourselves; i.e. in the controversy between God and Job we would test, find out, and choose for ourselves that which is right; comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:21. It is to this testing and choosing in common that the “knowing among ourselves what is good” in b refers.
Job 34:5-9. The special theme of the investigation which now follows, accompanied by the expression of Elihu’s moral indignation over the fact that Job had been able to put forth such expressions. For Job has said: I am innocent; yet God has taken away from me my right. The clause—“I am innocent”—is simply auxiliary or preparatory to what follows. The main emphasis rests on the second proposition, which is taken verbally from Job 27:2; in like manner as צָדַקְתִּי is taken from Job 13:18 (comp. Job 23:10; Job 27:7).
Job 34:6. In spite of my right I shall lie;i.e. notwithstanding עַל as in Job 10:17; Job 16:17) that the right is on my side, I shall still be [accounted] a liar, if I maintain it. Job had not so expressed himself literally; nevertheless comp. the utterances, related in meaning, in Job 9:20; Job 16:8. [E. V. “Should I lie against my right?” i.e. confess my guilt when I am innocent?—a suitable meaning, but less forcible than the above; and here it is natural to suppose that Elihu would refer to the strongest expressions which Job had used. Instead of the Masoretic אֲכַזֵּב Carey suggests אַכְזָב: “Concerning my right He [God] is a false one.” The conjecture however is unnecessary.—E.]. My arrow is incurable, i.e. the arrow of God’s wrath sticking in me, or rather the wound occasioned by the same (comp. Job 6:4); this being the case “without transgression,” without בְּלִי as in Job 8:11) my having deserved it; comp. Job 33:9.
Job 34:7 seq. Sharp rebuke of Job’s conduct in thus suspecting the divine justice: Where is there a man like Job, who drinketh scornful speeches like water?—Elihu evidently borrows this harsh figurative expression from one of the earlier discourses of Eliphaz (Job 15:16), with a considerate limitation however of the charge there brought forward to Job’s scornful and blasphemous speeches against God (לעג), which really deserved to be rebuked thus harshly, whereas the charge of Eliphaz, that he drank “iniquity” (עולה) as water, besides being urged indirectly and covertly, and so much the more irritatingly, was in its indefinite and general form much less accurate and must for that very reason have inflicted a much more cutting wound. The expression being thus palpably borrowed from that former attack on Job, the charge which from Antiquity has been founded on this passage of immoderate violence and bluntness on the part of Elihu, is certainly unmerited (against the Pseudo-Jerome, Gregory the Great, Beda, etc., also Delitzsch).
Job 34:8. And goes in company (lit. “to the company”) with evil-doers, and is wont to go about with men of wickedness. וללכת, continuation of the finite verb וארח; comp. Ewald, § 351, 100. What is meant is, of course, only that by blasphemous speeches, such as might be quoted in the way of example, he lowers himself to the companionship of wicked men (comp. Psalms 1:1 seq.), that accordingly by his frivolous and wanton sins of the tongue he puts himself on a level with the evil world. Elihu does intend an actual participation by Job in the society of evil-doers, as the following verse clearly shows.
Job 34:9. For he saith: A man hath no profit (comp. Job 22:2), if he lives in friendship with God (lit. “from his having pleasure with God,” i.e., in fellowship with God; comp. Psalms 50:18). Job had never expressed himself in this way literally, but he had often uttered this sentiment; e.g., Job 9:22 seq.; Job 21:7 seq.; Job 24:1 seq. But how blameworthy such frivolous utterances were, he himself repeatedly acknowledged (Job 17:9; Job 21:15; Job 28:28), without however ceasing from them.
Continuation: Proof that God really is righteous in His dispensations: (a) from His love to His creatures: Job 34:10-15.
Job 34:10. Therefore men of understanding, hearken to me. Lit. “men of heart” (LXX. συνετοὶ καρδίας); comp. Delitzsch, Biblical Psychology, p. 293; Beck, Umriss der bibl. Seelenlehre, 3d Ed., p. 99. Far from God be wickedness, etc.חָלִילָה here with מִן of the thing abjured, as in Genesis 18:25. In the third member וְשַׁדַּי is used by abbreviation for וּלִשַׁדַּי; comp. Job 15:3.
Job 34:11. Rather (כִּי, comp. Job 33:14) man’s work He recompenseth to him, and according to a man’s conduct (lit. “way”) He causeth it to be with him, lit. “He causeth it to find him, to overtake him” הִמְצִיא, only here and Job 37:13).
Job 34:12. Yea verily (אַף אָמְנָם, as in Job 19:4) God doth not act wickedly, doth not act as a רשׁע (לא ירשׁיע). In respect to b comp. Job 8:3.
Job 34:13. Who hath delivered over to Him the earth?—ארץ = ארצה only here, and Job 37:12 [with He paragogic therefore, not directive; see Green, § 61, 6, a]. פּקד with עַל, of the person and accus. of the thing, denotes: To trust any one with anything, to commit anything to any one, to deliver over to one’s charge (πιστεύειν τινά τι); comp. Num 4:27; 2 Chronicles 36:23. Without sufficient support from the language Hahn explains: “Who besides (or except Him cares for the earth? “and similarly Ewald: “who investigates the earth against him” [i.e., against man, in order to punish him when necessary]? And who hath established (founded, שָׂם as in Job 38:5; Isaiah 44:7) the whole globe?—The answer to both these questions is self-evident: “None other than Himself.” This reference however to God’s independent glory, and to the relation of absolute causality between Him and all that has been created, is made in order to exclude as strongly as possible the thought of any selfish, or unloving conduct whatever on the part of God.
Job 34:14. If He should set His heart only upon Himself, gather unto Himself (again) His spirit and His breath.—The case here supposed is an impossible one, as Job 34:15 shows. The twice-used אֵלָיו refers both times to God as subject, not merely the second time (as Jerome, Targ., Pesh., Grotius, Rosenm., Delitzsch [E. V. Scott, Con., Lee, Noyes] explain). In respect to the withdrawal of His spirit and breath, comp. Psalms 104:29 seq.; Ecclesiastes 12:7, in which passages indeed the withdrawal of the divine vital spirit spoken of is not, as here sudden and total, but that successive and gradual process, which takes place continually in the death of individual creatures. The fact therefore that God does not, as He well might, put an end at once to the independent life of His creatures, but gives to each one of them a respite to enjoy life, this is here brought forward as proof of the disinterested fatherly love, and at the same time of the righteousness of His conduct. [“Elihu says this, to assert God’s sovereignty, and the bearing of this on the main argument is, if God be sovereign, and amenable to no superior, then he can have no motive for doing what is otherwise than right. The argument is not unlike that of Abraham, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” and that of St. Paul, “Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? God forbid, for then how shall God judge the world?” Carey].
4. Continuation. The divine justice proved: (β) from the conception of God as Ruler of the universe: Job 34:16-30.
Job 34:16. And if there is understanding (with thee), then hear this.—So according to the punctuation of בִּינָה as Milra, preferred by the Targ., Pesh., Jer., and in general most of the ancients, as well as the moderns [so E. V.]. If the word be rendered as Imperative, the preceding וְאִם should be taken as an optative particle—“and oh that thou wouldst observe, oh understand now.” (Del.). This rendering however is equally destitute of support from the language as the εἰ δὲ μὴ νουθετῆ of the LXX., and various similar renderings. The punctuation of the Masoretes [as Milel] is to be explained by their desire to remove the apparent discourtesy and insult implied in the expression—“and if there is understanding with thee.” But this by no means implies a real doubt of Job’s intelligence. In regard to b comp. Job 33:8. Will even an enemy of the right be able to govern?—אַף here meaning “even,” as in Job 40:8 seq., not the object of וחבש: num. iram osor judicii refrenabit (Schult., Umbr., Welte, etc.), against which the position of the words is decisive. Rather is חבש here objectless, meaning to bind, to hold the reins of authority, to govern, (as elsewhere עצר, 1 Samuel 9:17). [“Right and government are indeed mutually conditioned, without right everything would fall into anarchy and confusion.” Delitzsch]. Or wilt thou condemn (i.e., declare unjust; הרשיע here in its usual sense, differing in this from Job 34:12) the All-just; lit. “the mighty just One;” comp. Ewald, § 270, d.
Job 34:18 seq. He who exercises justice in union with omnipotence is now more particularly described in this aspect of His activity. Him, who says to a king: Thou worthless one! So according to the reading הָֹאמֵר, which is attested, not indeed by the Masoretes, but by the LXX. and Vulg., and in favor of which most of the moderns declare (Hirz., Ew., Hahn., Stick., Vaih., Dillm., [Renan, Elz.], etc.). The Mas., Targ., Luth., Del. [E. V., Con., Car., Noy., Rod., Ber., Bar., Lee, Schlott.], etc., read הַאֲמֹר, Inf. constr. with הֲ interrogatives “is it (fit) to say to a king—Thou worthless one,” etc.? But it would be very difficult to connect the clause אֲשֶׁר וגו׳ in Job 34:18 with such a question, which would express a conclusio a min. ad majus (even to a human king one would not dare to speak thus, etc.).
Job 34:19. Him, who accepteth not the person of rulers (comp. Job 32:21), and knoweth not (i.e., considers, regards not; concerning נִכַּר see Job 21:29) the rich before the poor, i.e., in preference to the poor (comp., Job 8:12). God exercises this strict impartiality, because, as the parenthetical clause in c explains, His creatures are all of equal worth to Him.
Job 34:20. In a moment they perish, even at midnight, i.e., suddenly and unexpectedly, at night, (comp. Psalms 119:62; and for the thought Job 27:19; also below Job 34:25). Their people are shaken and pass away.—The subject of the verse is those who are expressly mentioned first in the third member as “the strong” or “mighty ones,” the same who are specially distinguished in the two preceding verses as kings, princes, rulers and rich men, and who then in Job 34:23 seq. become again the principal object of consideration. The clause in b, יְגֹעֲשׁוּ עָם, is neither (with Ewald) to be explained “they stagger in crowds,” nor (with Hirzel and others) “nations are shaken.” The word עָם admits of neither rendering; in connection with the princes it can signify only their people, their subjects. And the mighty are removed (lit. “the mighty one is, etc.”)—not by the hand of man, i.e., without needing to be touched by hand, referring to a higher invisible power as cause; comp. Job 20:27; Zechariah 4:6; also the expression of Daniel, בְּאֶסֶף יָד, Daniel 8:25; comp. Daniel 2:34.
Job 34:21-24 give the reason why such a mighty administration of justice on the part of God is possible, or rather why it actually exists, by calling attention to His omniscience. In respect to Job 34:21 comp. Job 31:4; on Job 34:22 see Job 24:13 seq.; Psalms 139:11 seq.; and parallel passages.
Job 34:23. For He doth not long regard man;i.e., He needs not to wait a long time for him, until he submits himself to His judicial examination, because He has him, like all His creatures, continually present before Him. [“A single thought of God, without the uttering of a word, is enough to summon the whole world to judgment. Job had earnestly craved for leave to enter into judgment with God (see Job 13:8; Job 16:21; Job 23:3; Job 31:35). Elihu replies that God of His own accord, finds out men in a moment, without any effort, and summons them to judgment. Job ought therefore to change his tone, and say, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Psalms 143:2). Wordsworth], עוד here not “again and again, a long time (Hirzel, Del. [Ber., Bar., Noy., Rod.] etc.) [nor “more than right,” E. V., Rashi, Wolfsohn, Elzas], but simply, “more, yet, again,” as e.g., Isaiah 5:4, and often.
Job 34:24. Respecting לֹא חֵקֶר, instead of חׇ בְּלֹא, comp. Job 12:24; Job 38:26. [Pesh. Vulg. E. V. Rod. render “without number;” but the meaning “without inquiry,” without undertaking a long process of investigation, is better suited to the context. E.]. In respect to אַחֵר in b, see Job 8:19; Isaiah 45:15.
Job 34:25-30 recur to the previous description of God’s fearful judgments upon the mighty of earth (Job 34:18 seq.). Therefore He knoweth their works.—לָכֵן, lit. “therefore, on that account,” means here “accordingly, and so, hence,” as a formula denoting a logical inference from that which precedes; comp. Job 42:3. Rosenmüller, Umbreit erroneously: “Because that He knoweth their works;” for which meaning we should have rather לכן אשׁר. [Alike incorrect is the rendering “for”—Noyes, Barnes, Rodwell]. מַעְבָּד, only here in Elihu, an Aramaizing word, used interchangeably with מַעֲשֶׂה. And overthrows them in the night (i.e., suddenly; comp. Job 34:20) so that they are crushed; comp. Job 5:4. From this verb וַיִדַּכָּאוּ the object of the preceding verb חפךְ is to be supplied (Proverbs 12:7). The object cannot be לילה, (which is evidently an adverbial specification of time), as Umbreit renders it: “He changes the night,” i.e., into day.
Job 34:26. Instead of the wicked He scorns them, i.e., the mighty; lit. “Ho claps, slaps them,” ספק as in Job 34:37, used metaphorically in the sense of scorning, mocking; comp. the full phrase סָפַק ,כַּפַּיִם Job 27:23. [Vulg., E. V., Rosenm., Del., Con., Car., Noy., etc. render the verb “to strike, smite,” but less in accordance with the usage].—תַּהַת־רְשָׁעִים does not mean exactly “in the place of execution of the wicked” (Hirzel), but more “in the stead, after the manner of the wicked” comp. Vulg,: quasi impios) [and E. V. “as wicked men”]. In the place where all see it; lit. “in the place of those seeing,” i.e., publicly, in propatulo. [Grotius: ἐθεάτρισεν αὐτοὺς; Cocceius: (1) cum pudore el ignominia; (2) in exemplum].
Job 34:27-28. They, who for that reason turn away from Him, etc.עַל־כֵּן points forward to that which follows (comp. Job 20:2), and is explained in להביא, and so forth (Job 34:28). In order vividly to characterize the insolent, and persistently wicked conduct of evildoers, it is represented as their purpose to continue torturing the oppressed until their cry pierces through the clouds, and as it were compels God to hear it. [If אשׁר אל־כן be rendered “because” (LXX. E. V. Rosenm., Umbr., Hahn, Con., etc.). לחביא will be Inf. epexeget. In that case כִּי=אֲשֶׁר, This however seems a less probable construction than that given above].
Job 34:29 seq. And if He giveth rest who will condemn (Him) השקיט, Hiph. of שׁקט in the sense of Isaiah 14:7; Judges 5:31, hence “to give rest,” viz. by resisting and overcoming the violence of mighty tyrants, which drives the poor to cry out for help (comp. Psalms 94:13). וְהוּא, referring to God is prefixed for emphasis, as is the case also with וּמִי at the head of the following interrogative sentence, which signifies that it would be impossible to object to that which has been ordained by God, or to condemn it (as e.g., Job had undertaken to do Job 9:22 seq.). [This is the meaning of הרשיע favored by all the ancient versions, by usage, and by the parallelism, which suggests God as the object of the verb here, as in b. The meaning “to make trouble” (E. V.) is not inappropriate however: and either rendering leads to the same result, to wit, a rest for the oppressed against which oppressors will be impotent]. The structure of the second parallel member is essentially the same: if He hides His face (in wrath above those wicked ones)—who will behold Him, again find Him graciously disposed? To the clause וְיַסְתֵּר פָּנִים, from which it is separated only on account of the rhythm, belongs the close specification in the third member, together with the doubled negative statement of the end aimed at in Job 34:30 : alike above a people and above man (יַחַד serving to strengthen the correlation and correspondence expressed by וְ–וְ), in order that ungodly men might not rule (=מִן that not; comp.2 Kings 23:33, K’ri), not (מִן by ellipsis, instead of the repetition of מִמְּלֹךְ) snares of the people;i.e., ungodly misleaders, who would plunge the people into ruin; comp. Exodus 10:7; Hosea 5:1.
5. Conclusion: Exhibition of the inconsistency and folly of Job’s accusations of the divine righteousness: Job 34:31-37.
Job 34:31-32. For does one say indeed to God—“I expiate without doing evil; what I see not, that show Thou me; if I have done iniquity I will do it no more.”—So (in essential agreement with Schult., Ew., Vaih., Heil. Dillm.) are these two obscure verses to be rendered, which have been variously misunderstood by the ancient versions of expositors. For (1) הֶֽאָמֵר, Job 34:31 a, can only be 3 Perf. sing. with הֲ interrogative (comp. Job 21:4; Ezekiel 28:9), not Imperat. Niph. (= הֵאָמֵר, dicendum est), as Rosenm., Schlottm. [E. V. Noy., Con., Rod.], etc., take it. The subject of this interrogative num. dicit however cannot be the אָדָם חָנֵף of the preceding verses, but is indefinite, any one (comp. Job 21:22; Job 30:24.). [“It is observed by Scott that the petition and confession, which Elihu recommends to Job, would be highly improper for one who knows himself to be guilty of heinous crimes, but highly fit for a person, who though good in the main, has reason to suspect somewhat amiss in his temper and conduct, for which God is displeased with him. It appears plainly that Elihu did not suppose Job to be a wicked man, suffering for his oppressions, bribery, inhumanity, and impiety, with which his three friends had charged him.” Noyes]. (2) The difficult expression נָשָׂאתִי is most simply understood of the bearing of sins in respect of their punishment, an object which is easily supplied out of the asyndetically added circumstantial clause לֹא אֶחְבֹּל; hence—“I bear (or expiate), without doing evil.” (חבל as e.g., Nehemiah 1:7; comp. Daniel 6:23). This rendering of the second member of Job 34:31 is, on account of its simplicity, and the established character of the linguistic construction in all its parts, greatly to be preferred to any other, as e.g., to that of Rashi, Merc, Schlottmann [E. V. Noyes, Con., Rod., Bar.], etc. “I expiate, I will do evil no more;” of Hirzel—” I bear the yoke of punishment, and will not cast it off;” of Hahn and Delitzsch—“I have been proud, I will do evil no more;” of Kamphausen (who following the LXX. reads נָשָׂאתִי)—“I have practiced oppression, I will take a pledge no more”—LXX.: “I have received (scil. blessings), I will not take a pledge”], etc. (3) The elliptical objective clause בלעדי אחזה the beginning of Job 34:32 is according to Ew., § 333 b to be explained: “that which lies beyond what I see, teach Thou me;” i.e., that which lies beyond the circle of my vision, that which I do not see, teach Thou me respecting it. By this is meant the errors unknown to the speaker, which in Psalms 19:13 are called נִסְתָּרוֹת—only that here the person introduced as speaking is not a truly pious and penitent self-observer, like the poet of that Psalm, but one who confesses reluctantly, who regards himself as being, properly speaking, wholly innocent, and who (according to Job 34:32) announces himself as ready to repent only in case (אִם) iniquity should be proved upon him. And on the whole Job had indeed heretofore always expressed himself essentially in this impenitent, rather than in a truly contrite way; comp. Job 7:20; Job 19:4, etc.
Job 34:33. Should He recompense it to thee according to thy will (עִם as in מֵּעִמְּךָ Job 23:10; Job 27:11, and often), that thou hast despised, scil. His usual way of recompensing. The question may also be expressed thus: “Should He allow thy discontented fault finding, and blaming of His method of retribution to go unpunished, and take up instead with a method corresponding to thy way of thinking?” which is equivalent to saying: Should He change the laws of His righteous administration (his justitia retribuens) to please thee?—so that thou must choose, and not I?i.e., so that thou wouldst have to determine the mode of retribution, and not I (God). Instead of אֲנִי we should properly expect הוּא, but Elihu here, after the manner of the prophets, introduces God Himself as speaking, and thus makes himself the organ of God (so correctly Rashi, Rosenm., Ewald, etc.). [“The abrupt and bold personation of the Deity in the first person (“and not I”) is not unnatural in one who is speaking on behalf of God, and representing his just prerogatives and claims.” Con.]. And what knowest thou then? speak; i.e., in respect to the only true method of retribution. What more correct knowledge than all others canst thou claim for thyself respecting this obscure province of the divine way of retribution?
On Job 34:34 comp. Job 34:2; Job 34:10.
Job 34:35-37 contain the speech of the men of understanding, to whose judgment Elihu appeals as agreeing with his own.
Job 34:35. Job speaks without knowledge, and his words are without wisdom.—הַשְׂכֵיל, substant. Inf. absol. Hiph., instead of the usual form הַשְׂכֵּל; so also in Jeremiah 3:15.
Job 34:36. O would that Job were proved continually.—אָבִי cannot signify “my Father,” as though it were an address to God (Vulg., Saad., Luther [Bernard], etc.), for in Elihu’s mouth, judging by numerous parallels, we should rather look for “my Maker,” or “my God;” and the address “my Father” does not once elsewhere throughout the Old Testament proceed from a single person to God, and just here would have but little propriety. [Words, suggests that it may have been addressed by Elihu, as a young man, to Job; which in view of the mention of Job immediately after in the third person, would be singularly harsh]. Hence the word should either (with Targ., Kimchi, Umbr., Schlottm. [E. V.], etc.) be derived from a subst. אָבֶה, “wish,” to be assumed, and to be rendered either “my desire is,” or “I desire;” or—which is in any case to be preferred—with Död., Ew., Del., Dillm., be rendered as an interjectional optative particle, synonymous with לוּ, and resting on a root ביא or בוי.—Etymologically related are the well known בּי in the formula בִּי אֲדֹנִי, (quæso domine), on the other side the optative interjection, still very common with the Syrian Arabs of Damascus, abi (which is formally inflicted abî, tebî, jebî; nebî, tebû, Jebû); comp. the elaborate and learned discussion of Wetzstein in Delitzsch, p. 431 seq.—In respect to עַד נֶצַח, “continually,” or “to the extreme end,” comp. the similar לַנֶּצַח in Job 23:7. What Elihu here desires for Job is not that the chastisements inflicted on him should increase in severity, that his sufferings should continually grow more intense (such cruelty would in connection with his mild and friendly treatment, of Job elsewhere be simply inconceivable). It is rather that the divine operation of proving his heart and working on his conscience now going on (comp. Psalms 139:23; also בחן in Job 7:18) should be carried on until he had been brought at last to confess his guilt, and to humble himself beneath the hand of God (comp. Brentius, and von Gerlach below, Homiletical Remarks). The reason why Elihu desires that he may thus continue under the influence of the divine process of proving and punishing him,—or more accurately, why he introduces the men of understanding as uttering this wish in what they say, is given in Job 34:36 b taken together with Job 34:37 : on account of his answers after the manner of wicked men (תְּשֻׁבוֹת) “replies,” viz. to the speeches of the friends rebuking him; comp. Job 21:34; בְּ here signifying “in the manner, after the fashion of”).
Job 34:37. Because he addeth to his sin transgression (i.e. by his presumptuous speeches against God) [hence פֶּשַׁע here may be rendered “blasphemy”], in the midst of us he mocks (“claps” [his hands in scorn]; see on Job 34:26), and multiplieth his speeches against God.—יֶרֶב, imperf. apoc. Hiph. (as in Job 10:17) is used instead of the unabbreviated Imperf., like וְתָשֶׂם Job 13:27, instead of וַתָּשֶׂם, or like יָשֹׁר, Job 33:27, etc.—לָאֵל, “towards God, against God,” refers back both to this יֶרֶב and to יספוק; for the mocking is also described as being against God.
6. The third discourse: Job 35:0. First Half: The folly of the erroneous notion that piety and ungodliness are alike of little profit: Job 35:1-8. In respect to Job 35:1, comp. Job 34:1. The conjecture of Köster and Schlottmann, that the verse is a later interpolation, because Job 35:0. gives evidence of being a simple appendage to Job 34:0., has no foundation. For with just as good right might Job 34:0. also be regarded as a simple appendage to Job 33:0., because the theme of this second discourse has also received expression at the beginning of the discourse preceding (Job 30:9 sq.). All four discourses are closely bound together, and Job 33:9-11 contains the common point of procedure for all alike (see on the passage).
Job 35:2-3 formulate, in an interrogative form, the special theme of the discourse, as a repetition of that which has already been said (Job 34:9).—Hast thou considered this (זֹאת pointing forwards to Job 35:3) to be right (Job 33:10), and spoken of it as “my righteousness before God” (מִןcoram, as in Job 4:7; Job 32:2), that thou sayest, what advantage is it to thee (סכן as in oh. Job 34:9), “what doth it profit me more than my sin?”—As frequently with Elihu, the direct interrogation interchanges here with the indirect (comp. e.g.Job 34:33). The force of the whole question, moreover, is that of a strong negation: a righteous man speaks not thus. [The construction here given of these two verses seems awkward and artificial. Extremely so in particular is it to render אמרת צדקי מאל “(hast thou) defined it as ‘my righteousness before God’ that thou hast said,” etc. And besides how can it be said that he had made his saying that there is no profit in holiness a part of his righteousness before God? Here, moreover, it cannot well be denied that the comparative sense of מִן, “my righteousness is more than God’s,” makes the proposition introduced by אָמַרְתָּ more complete and forcible. Had he designed to say: “I am righteous before God,” he would have used the verb צָדַקְתִּי (which Olshausen indeed proposes to read), rather than צִדְקִי. The meaning of the claim which Job had made, according to Elihu, is not that his character was more righteous than that of God, but that his cause, as against God, was more just than that of his Almighty antagonist. In Job 35:3 Elihu gives the proof, or rather the specification in support of his charge. Job had denied that there was any profit in holiness:—in other words he had charged God with indifference to moral character in his treatment of men. The rendering of E. V. is to be preferred except in the last clause, where מִן is again comparative, and which should be rendered, not—“what profit shall I have if I be cleansed from my sin?” but—“what profit shall I have more than by my sin?”—E.]
Job 35:4. I will answer thee words (comp. Job 33:32), and thy companions with thee, i.e. Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, who have shown themselves incompetent to contend with thee effectively, and who deserve to be reprimanded together with thee (עִמָּךְ). We are scarcely to render עִמָּךְ (with Dillmann, etc.), “who are with thee.” Still more impossible is it to understand by רֵעִים not the three friends, but all others associated with Job in sentiment and character, the אנשׁי עון of Job 34:8; Job 34:36 (Umbr., Heil., Vaih., Del.), for רֵעִים constantly denotes throughout the book the three friends of Job (Job 2:11; Job 19:21; Job 32:3; Job 42:7).
Job 35:5-8. Refutation of the ensnaring proposition that it is useless to be pious by calling attention to God’s blessed self-sufficiency in His heavenly exaltation, the contemplation of which shows that of necessity man only can derive profit from his righteousness (a thought which had been already expressed by Job himself, Job 7:20; and by Eliphaz, Job 22:2 seq.).
Job 35:5. Look up to heaven, and see, etc.—In the same way that Zophar (Job 11:7 seq.) points Job to the height of the heavenly vault, and its loftiest luminous fleece-like clouds (which is what שְׁחָקִים means here, not precisely a synonym of “heaven,” or of the “ether,” as Vaihinger, Delitzsch, etc., say), in order to illustrate God’s absolute exaltation above the world.
On Job 35:6 seq. comp. ch Job 7:20; Job 22:2 seq.
Job 35:8. To man like thee thy wickedness availeth (i.e. it produces its effects on him), and for a son of man thy righteousness.—By the “son of man” Job himself, or one of his kind, is again intended. The expression serves to set forth their need of help, and frailty in contrast with the exaltation and blessedness of God.
7. Continuation and close.—Second Half: The true reason why sufferers remain for a long time unheard, to wit: a. Their lack of genuine reverence for God; b. The presumptuousness of their speeches against God.
a. Job 35:9-14. On account of the multitude of oppressions they cry out, they wail because of the violence (lit. “because of the arm,” זְרוֹעַ as in Job 22:8) of the mighty (רַבִּים here in another sense than in Job 32:9). The Hiph. יַוְעִיקוּ in the sense of Kal, or as intensive of Kal (comp. Job 19:7; Job 31:18) [not Hiphil proper, “they make the oppressed to cry,” (E. V.) which is unsuitable in connection with מֵרוֹב עשׁׅ]. עֲשׁוּקִים, “oppressions,” as in Amos 3:9; Ecclesiastes 4:1.
Job 35:10 seq. introduce the refutation of this objection [contained in Job 35:9, to wit, that oppression goes unpunished, hence that the wicked fare no worse than the righteous], by calling attention to the guilt of the suffering. But they do not say (as they could say)—Where is Eloah my creator? This is the question asked by those who seek God (comp. Jeremiah 2:6; Jeremiah 2:8). עשָֹׁי intensive plur., as in Isaiah 22:11; Isaiah 54:5; Psalms 149:2. Who giveth songs in the night; i.e., by granting sudden and wonderful deliverance (comp. Job 34:25).
Job 35:11. Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth—not “by them, as our mute instructors” (Hahn, Delitzsch), but with a comparative rendering of מִן, “in preference to the beasts, esteeming us worthy of higher honor and blessing than they.” The form מַלְפֵנוּ is either an error of transcription, or syncopated from מְאַלְּפֵנוּ; comp. אִלֵּף in Job 15:5. On b comp. Job 12:7, where in like manner the mention of the birds of heaven is parallel to that of the beasts of the field. [A pregnant passage. The instinctive cry of distress for relief is not the prayer which God requires. The former goes up from the brute creature (comp. Psalms 104:21; Joel 1:20; Psalms 149:9); man’s prayer should be worthy of a rational being, should proceed from the recognition of God the creator, and from gratitude for His interposition in our behalf in the night of calamity. If (as he proceeds to show) man’s prayers are not heard, it is because they are too much the cry of animal instinct, not the outpouring of the heart, conscious of its wants, of God, and of His goodness.—E.].
Job 35:12. There cry they—but He answers not (or: “without indeed God’s answering them”)—on account of the pride of the evil.—Respecting the construction of the verb צעק with מְפְּנֵי, “before,” or “on account of,” comp. Isaiah 19:20. [It seems most natural to put מפני here in close connection with יענה, “He will not answer” (so as to save them) from the force of wicked men. To make the pride of the oppressors the reason why God refuses to hear the oppressed, although the affirmation in itself might be made, would be out of harmony here. The reason as Elihu more explicitly declares in Job 35:13 is in the oppressed themselves.—E.].
Job 35:13. The reason why God does not hear those oppressed when they cry: Only vanity (i.e., nothingness, empty, fruitless complaining [with אַךְ restrictive—“that which is only emptiness, that crying which has no heart in it”]) God heareth not—.but on the other hand (for this is the unspoken antithesis) He doth hear the righteous, pious prayer. And the Almighty regardeth it not—viz., that crying and complaining. The neut. suffix in יְשוּרֶנָּה does not refer to the masc. שָׁוְא, but to the crying spoken of in the preceding verse. Respecting שׁוּר “to behold, observe,” comp. Job 33:14.
Job 35:14. Much less then (would He hear thee) when thou sayest: thou beholdest Him not;i.e., He intentionally withdraws himself from thee; comp. Job 23:8 seq. In respect to אַף כִּיquanto minus (here more precisely quanto minus si, comp. Job 4:19; Job 9:14; Ezekiel 15:5. Neither the language nor the context justifies the rendering of Schlottmann and Delitzsch [also E. V.], who take אַף כִּי to mean “although,” etiámsi, which moreover receives no support from Nehemiah 9:18. The cause lies before Him, and thou waitest (in vain) on Him;—this being the continuation of the indirect address begun in a.—דִּין (instead of which elsewhere we have ריב), “the cause in controversy, the case on trial,” as also חוֹלֵל “to wait” (instead of which elsewhere יִחֵל), are both expressions peculiar to Elihu. Hirzel, Schlottmann, Delitzsch [E, V. Scott, Noyes, Barnes, Words., Ren., Rod.], etc., render this second member as an admonition to Job—“the controversy lies certainly before God, but thou shouldst calmly await His decision.” But this is rendered impossible by the tone of stern censure in Job 35:15 seq. Still more out of the question (on account of לְפָנָיו) is the rendering of Ewald who takes תְּשׁוּרֶנּוּ and תְּחוֹלֵל as addressed to God.
Job 35:15-16. The complaint of Job, above cited, in respect to God’s assumed withdrawal and concealment of Himself, gives Elihu occasion to refer to Job’s presumptuous and dogmatic speeches as another reason for his being unheard. And now, because His anger has not yet punished (lit. “because there is not [or nothing], which His anger has punished [visited]; i.e., because His anger has not yet interposed to punish—comp. Ew., § 321, b), should He not nevertheless be well acquainted with presumption?—In respect to מְאֹד with ידע comp. Psalms 139:14, and respecting בְּ in the sense of “about” (to know about anything), comp. above, Job 12:9.—פַּשׁ, instead of which the LXX. and Vulg. read פְּשַׁע, seems to signify, according to the Arabic, “arrogance, presumption,” possibly also “foolishness” (the same with תִּפְלָה used elsewhere); scarcely however “multitude, mass,” as the Rabbis explain [nor “extremity,” as E. V. renders it]. The word is intended to designate Job’s presumptuous, intemperate speeches against God. The passage is in substance correctly rendered by Ewald, Delitzsch and Dillmann,—only that the last named conjectures b to be a free citation from Job’s former discourses (say from Job 24:12), and thus needlessly obscures the explanation of the verse (to the extent that he conjectures either a corruption of the word פַּשׁ, or the loss of two half verses from between a and b. The commentators follow different constructions of the passage, which in some particulars vary greatly among themselves, but which are largely agreed in taking Job 35:15 as protasis, and Job 35:16 as apodosis: on the basis of which construction Hahn e.g. translates: “Especially now, because He (God) does not have regard for his (Job’s) anger, and does not trouble himself about wicked arrogance, Job opens, etc.,” (and so Kamph.; while Rosenm., Stick., Hirz., Schlottm., [Carey, with others who take פשׁ in the sense of “transgression,” as, e.g., Conant, Noyes, Barnes, Rodwell, Renan] take אַפּוֹ in Job 35:15 a as subj. and understand by it God’s anger. But Job 35:16 cannot be the apodosis of Job 35:15, partly because of the way the subject וְאִיּוֹב is prefixed, and partly because the thought is rather the delivery of a final judgment in respect to the whole manner of Job’s appearance: But Job opens his mouth in vain (i.e., uselessly, to no purpose; הֵבֶל as in Job 9:29; Job 21:34), and unintelligently multiplieth words.—The “opening of the mouth” is not mentioned here as a gesture of scorn (as e.g., in Lamentations 2:16; Lamentations 3:46), but, as explained by the second member, as a symbol or means of unintelligent babbling and loquacity. הִכְבִּיד here and Job 36:31=הִרְבָּה, (Job 34:37).
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
The many points of contact between the two discourses here considered and those of the three friends, especially in the words of blame and reproof addressed to Job have furnished those expositors in ancient and modern times, whose judgment respecting Elihu has been in general unfavorable, with abundant material for their disparaging judgments, and their attacks. That Elihu is a servile imitator, a mere reproducer and compiler of what has been said by previous speakers; that in repeating he weakens in many ways the statements of his predecessors; that he cites Job’s expressions, when he would controvert them, inaccurately, or in such a way as altogether to distort them; that he endeavors to surpass the three friends in the intemperate severity of his attacks on Job, etc., these and the like are the unfavorable judgments of the critics from the pseudo-Jerome, Gregory, and Bede, down to; Dillmann, and indeed even more considerate and favorably disposed critics fall in, at least in part, with this tone of remark. Thus Delitzsch asserts, at least in respect to Job 37:0, that the absence, in this third discourse of Elihu, of the “bold original figures” of the previous discourses, indicates on the part of this discourse as compared with the remainder of the poem “a deficiency of skill, as now and then between Koheleth and Solomon;” that not one of its thoughts is, strictly speaking, new, that, on the contrary, in one chief thought we have simply the repetition of what was said in a previous discourse of Eliphaz, to wit, that the piety of the pious profits himself; in the other—to wit, that the pious, in his necessity, does not put forth useless cries, but lifts himself in prayer to God—a repetition of what Job had said in his last discourse, Job 27:9 seq. But nevertheless Delitzsch is obliged to admit that “Elihu deprives these thoughts of their hitherto erroneous application.” He is constrained to acknowledge that the quickened consciousness of sin and guilt, which Elihu in this discourse occasions for Job, is perfectly in place, and must touch Job’s heart, especially in so far as it teaches him to seek the cause of his long-continued sufferings, and of the failure of his prayers hitherto to be heard în himself, in the inadequacy of his own purity and piety, in his lack of true submissiveness to God’s righteous decree—and not in any severity on the part of God. And still more favorable is his judgment respecting the value of the argument in his second discourse, directed principally against Job’s presumptuous doubt of the divine justice; respecting which he acknowledges that “Elihu does not here coincide with what has been already said (especially Job 12:15 seq.), without applying it to another purpose; and that his theodicy differs essentially from that proclaimed by the friends. It is not derived from mere appearance, but lays hold of the very principles. It does not attempt the explanation of the many apparent contradictions to retributive justice which outward events manifest, as agreeing with it; it does not solve the question by mere empiricism, but from the idea of the Godhead and its relation to the world, and by such inner necessity guarantees to the mysteries still remaining to human short-sightedness their future solution” (II., p. 266, comp. p. 276). When we see one of the weightiest opponents of the genuineness of the whole Elihu-section stripping of all its force and value that charge against these two chapters which is most frequently brought forward, and most persistently urged, the complaint that it is deficient in originality, and that its character is simply that of a compilation and reproduction, we shall not find it difficult to reply to the remaining objections made to the inward value and authenticity of the two discourses. As regards (a) the absence of ornament, the lack of original figures and similes which Del. urges as an objection, at least so far as Job 35:0. is concerned, it may be very much questioned whether the poet himself did not intend this as a characteristic of the utterances of Elihu here, whether, that is, this unadorned simplicity does not on the one side render effective support to that which Elihu has to say against Job’s intemperate speeches, greatly increasing its impressiveness, its power to speak to the heart, and to quicken the conscience, while, on the other side, it is intended to form a contrast to the final discourse which follows (Job 36-37), in which the wealth of picturesque illustration, bold imagery, and artistic rhetorical turns, which are characteristic of the book elsewhere, reappears in higher measures, and in a way which quite eclipses the splendor of the art of figurative representation as exercised by the preceding speakers. In other words, it may be questioned, whether it is not the poet’s purpose to introduce Elihu, the preacher of repentance, as speaking as plainly, simply, and with as little art as possible, but on the contrary to introduce Elihu, the inspired eulogist and glorifier of God, as surpassing the former speakers in the power, loftiness and adornment of his discourse, nay, even as rivalling in this respect the representation of Jehovah himself. (b) As regards the assertion that Elihu quotes those utterances of Job, which he opposes, incorrectly, and so as to distort them, this is by no means the case, as a close comparison of the quotations in question not only with similar utterances of Job’s or with such as are verbally identical, but also with the meaning of his language, teaches, and as the exegesis of the particular passages has already shown.
And finally (c): that Elihu here exhibits himself as still more inconsiderate and intemperate, in his censure of Job than the three friends, rests on the misinterpretation of particular passages which, when rightly judged according to their connection, reveal Elihu as being mildly disposed toward the person of his opponent. So in particular that passage, harsh, in some respects, which he has borrowed from the second discourse of Eliphaz, and subjected to a peculiar modification, where he speaks of “drinking scorn like water” (Job 34:8 seq., see on the passage). So again the wish, uttered at the close of the second discourse (or rather put in the mouth of certain men, who are there introduced as speaking), that Job “might be continually proved to the end,” in respect to which the necessary remarks have already been made in explaining the passage. So again the strong language at the close of Job 35:0. the severity of which is due simply to the circumstance that Elihu here gives expression to his indignation against that which was really most objectionable and criminal in Job, his presumptuous and intemperate speeches against God, as a cruel, unsympathizing Being. There is scarcely one of the objections which in these respects have been made to the discourses of Elihu, particularly the two discourses before us, which may not, with apparently equal justice, be urged against the concluding discourses of God, in which we also find a repetition of much of the thought in the previous chief divisions (the same being cited in part literally, in part freely), and in which Job’s fundamental moral fault, the arrogance and insolent presumption of his heart against God, is just as energetically arraigned, without for that reason occasioning any reasonable doubts touching the genuineness and originality of that section.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The practical and homiletic material, which these two intermediate discourses furnish, is small, compared with that which may be found in many other sections. Nevertheless the treatment of the two fundamental thoughts—that God deals righteously, notwithstanding all appearances to the contrary—and that true piety is always and infallibly blessed—gives rise to many thoughts of peculiar theological and moral value, showing that these two chapters are mines of genuine revealed wisdom, and that they furnish much wholesome stimulus.
Job 34:1 (Job 35:1): Vict. Andreä: From this point on Job learns before all else to be silent. Without saying a word, he simply takes believingly to heart whatever is now made clear to him. In this way he really becomes another man than he has been heretofore, so that at last, because his frame of mind is become truly acceptable to God, he is ready to be completely delivered from his suffering, and to be doubly blessed by God.
Job 34:2 seq. Brentius (on Job 35:3): No man, however spiritual, has the right to judge the Word of God, but only the word of man, i.e., to determine whether what men teach, declare, and decree, is the word of God. E.g., Christ shed His blood for our sins—it is permitted to no men to sit in judgment on this saying, but it is the duty of all men to yield themselves captive to this saying, and to believe it. In the meanwhile however many persons put forth many and various opinions in respect to this saying, etc.—Zeyss: We are to use our ears and mouth not only for the necessities of the body, but also for those of the soul, first of all however that we may hear and speak God’s word. … We are to prove and to judge whether that which is spoken be right or wrong, in accordance with God’s Word, or not in accordance with it.
Job 34:12 seq. v. Gerlach: In what belongs to another it is possible for one to do injustice; but if God should do injustice to any one, He would injure Himself, destroy His own property, for all is His. A profound, a lofty thought! No one can conscientiously belie himself, do justice to himself. All that we call injustice becomes possible only because man has his equal as a free being beside himself, and has to do with the property of others on earth. This (injustice) is impossible with God, just for the reason that all belongs to Him.—Andreäe: In opposition to Job’s assertion, that it is of no profit to a man with God to live a pious life, Elihu maintains calmly and firmly the irrefragable truth—that both the holiness of God, which excludes every thought of tyranny, and His justice, which always renders to each one his own, yea even and His love, by which He maintains the whole world in existence, belong inseparably to the divine nature itself, so that Job’s speeches condemn themselves.
Job 34:20 seq. Starke (according to the Weim. Bib., and Cramer): God has power enough to bring the proud and the mighty to the punishment which is meet for them. The raging of all His foes is vain: God can destroy them quickly. He knows our need, however, and gives close attention to it.—Andreäe: God does not need to institute long inquiries respecting the sins of men; He has immediate knowledge of all that they do, and executes His mighty judgments, without needing the help of men. … He punishes or spares, as He may think best in His unsearchable Power and Wisdom.
Job 34:36 seq. Brentius: Elihu does not imprecate any evil on Job, but asks that he may be led to the acknowledgment of his own blasphemy, a result which can be brought about only by the cross and afflictions. Hence when he prays that he may be afflicted (crucified) unto the end, he at the same time prays that he may repent, for affliction (the cross) is the school of repentance.—v. Gerlach: God is asked to prove and to search out Job “even to the end,” i.e., most deeply and thoroughly. Not that Elihu supposes him to be guilty of such sins as the friends had conjectured in his case; but he nevertheless misses in him the profound perception of secret sins, and wishes for him accordingly what the Psalmist wishes for himself (Psalms 139:23).
Job 35:9 seq. Brentius: May we not infer that God is present with us and that He favors us, in that “prona cum spectent animalia cetera terram, Os homini sublime dedit, cœlumque videre, Jussit et erecto ad cidera tollere vultus.” For when He made the beasts and birds ἄλογα, He created us men so that we might be wise, endowed with reason, and lords of creation. Who then, pondering these things deeply in his mind, would not in affliction call upon the Lord, or hope for His aid?—Wohlfarth: We must above all things show ourselves thankful for the spiritual endowments with which God has distinguished man (above all the beasts), by cultivating them with the utmost diligence, and by using them for God’s glory, and for the salvation of the world.—Andreäe: God can cause a joyous song of jubilee to spring forth out of the deepest night of suffering provided we only understand His gracious purposes. All of these tend to the same end, to lift us men to something better and higher than the brute, which knows not God. But presumptuous cries and empty prayers will never find a hearing with God.