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A vivid exhibition of the activity of God, which is seen to be benevolent, as well as mighty and just, both in the destinies of men, and in the natural world outside of man
Introduction: announcing that further important contributions are about to be made to the vindication of God
1 Elihu also proceeded and said:
2 Suffer me a little, and I will show thee
that I have yet to speak on God’s behalf.
3 I will fetch my knowledge from afar,
and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
4 For truly my words shall not be false;
he that is perfect in knowledge is with thee.
a. Vindication of the divine justice, manifesting itself in the destinies of men as a power benevolently chastening and purifying them: Job 34:5-21
α. In general: Job 34:5-15
5 Behold God is mighty, and despiseth not any;
He is mighty in strength and wisdom.
6 He preserveth not the life of the wicked;
but giveth right to the poor.
7 He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous;
but with kings are they on the throne;
yea, He doth establish them forever, and they are exalted.
8 And if they be bound in fetters,
and be holden in cords of affliction;
9 then He sheweth them their work,
and their transgressions that they have exceeded.
10 He openeth also their ear to discipline,
and commandeth that they return from iniquity.
11 If they obey and serve Him,
they shall spend their days in prosperity,
and their years in pleasures.
12 But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword,
and they shall die without knowledge.
13 But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath;
they cry not when He bindeth them.
14 They die in youth,
and their life is among the unclean.
15 He delivereth the poor in his affliction
and openeth their ears in oppression.
β. In Job’s change of fortune in particular: Job 34:16-21
16 Even so he would have removed thee out of the strait
into a broad place, where there is no straitness;
and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness.
17 But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked;
judgment and justice take hold on thee.
18 Because there is wrath, beware lest He take thee away with His stroke;
then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.
19 Will He esteem thy riches? no, not gold,
nor all the forces of strength.
20 Desire not the night,
when people are cut off in their place.
21 Take heed, regard not iniquity:
for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction.
b. Vindication of the divine justice, revealing itself in nature as supreme power and wisdom;
Job 36:22 to Job 37:24
α. The wonders of nature, as revelations of divine wisdom and power:
Job 36:22– Job 37:13
22 Behold, God exalteth by His power;
who teacheth like Him?
23 who hath enjoined Him His way?
or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity?
24 Remember that thou magnify His work,
which men behold.
25 Every man may see it;
man may behold it afar off.
(1) Rain, clouds, and thunder: Job 36:26— Job 37:5
26 Behold, God is great, and we know Him not,
neither can the number of His years be searched out.
27 For He maketh small the drops of water;
they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof;
28 which the clouds do drop,
and distil upon man abundantly.
29 Also can any understand the spreading of the clouds,
or the noise of His tabernacle?
30 Behold, He spreadeth His light upon it,
and covereth the bottom of the sea.
31 For by them judgeth He the people;
He giveth meat in abundance.
32 With clouds He covereth the light;
and commandeth it not to shine by the clouds that cometh betwixt.
33 The noise thereof showeth concerning it,
the cattle also concerning the vapour.
1 At this also my heart trembleth,
and is moved out of his place.
2 Hear attentively the noise of His voice,
and the sound that goeth out of His mouth,
3 He directeth it under the whole heaven,
and His lightning unto the ends of the earth.
4 After it a voice roareth:
He thundereth with the voice of His excellency;
and He will not stay them when His voice is heard.
5 God thundereth marvellously with His voice;
great things doeth He, which we cannot comprehend.
(2) The forces of winter, such as snow, rain, the north-wind, frost, etc.: Job 37:6-13.
6 For He saith to the snow: Be thou on the earth;
likewise to the small rain,
and to the great rain of His strength.
7 He sealeth up the hand of every man;
that all men may know His work.
8 Then the beasts go into dens,
and remain in their places.
9 Out of the south cometh the whirlwind;
and cold out of the north.
10 By the breath of God frost is given;
and the breadth of the waters is straitened.
11 Also by watering He wearieth the thick cloud;
He scattereth His bright cloud;
12 and it is turned round about by His counsels;
that they may do whatsoever He commandeth them
upon the face of the world in the earth.
13 He causeth it to come, whether for correction,
or for His land, or for mercy.
β. Final admonitory inferences from what precedes for Job 38:14-24
14 Hearken unto this, O Job; stand still,
and consider the wondrous works of God.
15 Dost thou know when God disposed them,
and caused the light of His cloud to shine?
16 Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds,
the wondrous works of Him which is perfect in knowledge?
17 How thy garments are warm,
when He quieteth the earth by the south wind?
18 Hast thou with Him spread out the sky,
which is strong, and as a molten looking-glass?
19 Teach us what we shall say unto Him;
for we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness.
20 Shall it be told Him that I speak?
if a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up.
21 And now men see not the bright light
which is in the clouds:
but the wind passeth, and cleanseth them.
22 Fair weather cometh out of the north:
with God is terrible majesty.
23 Touching the Almighty, we cannot find Him out.
He is excellent in power and in judgment,
And in plenty of justice; He will not afflict.
24 Men do therefore fear Him:
He respecteth not any that are wise of heart.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. Instead of the predominantly anthropological and ethical doctrine of the three preceding discourses, Elihu puts forth, in this his closing discourse, reflections which are pre-eminently theological. God, the infinitely mighty and wise Being, who is at the same time just, and possessed of fatherly love, stands in the foreground of his descriptions, alike in the first and shorter division (Job 36:5-21), which describes His righteous interposition in determining the lots of mankind, and gives further expression to the favorite thought of the speaker touching the hand of God chastising men with severity indeed, and yet ever with a merciful purpose, and in the and yet ever with a merciful purpose, and in the Job 36:22 to Job 37:24), which treats of the majestic manifestation of God’s activity in the wonders of His creation, first in the way of description (Job 36:22 to Job 37:13) then in the way of application, closing with admonitory inferences from the themes of his description for the benefit of Job. It is in this last half especially that this fourth discourse of Elihu exhibits itself as the immediate preparation for the concluding act of the whole poem, providing the transition to the interposition of God. This magnificent physico-theological section is vividly introduced by the threefold הֵן at the head of each of the three strophes—ch. Job 36:22 seq.; 26 seq.; 30 seq.; and this threefold successive הֵן compels us to find the beginning of this section in Job 36:22, and not (with Ewald, Vaihinger, Dillm., etc.) in Job 36:26 (see below on Job 36:22). Add to this the predominance throughout the description of the references to the majestic phenomena of lightning, thunder, storm and rain, and the conjecture formerly adopted by Cocceius, J. H. Michaelis, Reimarus, Starke, Lange, and latterly by Rosenmüller, Umbreit, v. Gerlach, V. Andreä, Schlottmann, Böttcher [Scott, Noyes, Barnes, Bernard, Carey] becomes probable, that the poet conceived that thunder-storm out of which he represents God as speaking to Job, Job 38:1 sq. as already beginning during this last discourse of Elihu, and furnishing him in many particulars with the occasion and material for his descriptions. This is a hypothesis, which, as we shall see, serves to give essential help in understanding not a few of the details of the splendid description—granting that the absence of definite historical data in the text of our book, or in the most ancient exegetical tradition makes it impossible that it should be regarded as more than a probability.
2. The Introduction: Job 36:1-4 : An announcement that further, and yet more important instruction is about to be communicated respecting the nature and operations of God (comp. 1 Corinthians 12:31).—And Elihu continued and spoke.—This new introductory formula, compared with Job 34:1 and Job 35:1, is intended to intimate that a long silence on the part of Job did not this time precede. [ויסף not ויען, as hitherto, because in Job 35:0. Job was not summoned to speak. Dillmann. “Elihu had spoken three times, i. e., as many times as any of the other friends, but Job does not reply, and he proceeds. The silence of Job, who had replied to every speech of the three friends, is a proof that Job was conscious that Elihu had reason on his side, and is an answer to those who disparage Elihu.” Wordsworth].
Job 36:2. Wait for me a little, and I will teach thee;i. e., hear my instructions only a little while longer (not: “let me first collect my thoughts a little;” Hirzel). מְעַט זְעֶיר, used also in Isaiah 28:10; Isaiah 28:13. כִּתֵּר, Aramaic, equivalent to the Hebr. הוֹחִיל, expectare.—For there are yet words (to be said) for Eloah:i. e., for I know of something still further, and yet better to say in justification of Eloah (לאלוה, Dat. commodi) than what has been said hitherto.
Job 36:3. I will fetch my knowledge (comp. Job 37:16) from afar.—לְמֵרָחוֹק, as in Job 39:29, and Isaiah 37:26, “from afar,” altius repetendo (Merc.) [“out of the wide realm of history and nature.” Del.]. Elihu has already in mind the wonders of the Divine government in nature and in history, in view of which he will praise God’s righteousness (lit. “give [= ascribe] right to his Maker”) [פֹּעֵל so used only here]. Hence these expressions, which involve no empty self-praise, but have their basis in the inspiring greatness of the object to be described.
Job 36:4. For one faultless in knowledge, [lit. knowledges] stands before thee;i. e., one who has studied and learned to know God’s greatness in His works, one who is penetrated with the sense of the Divine exaltation, and who for that reason is raised above the danger of going astray, or speaking falsehood. תְּמִים דֵּעוֹת here cannot signify “an honest thinker” (Hirzel, and many of the older commentators) for in Job 37:16 it [תְּמִים דֵּעִים] is used of the perfect knowledge of God. [“As Elihu there attributes absolute perfection of knowledge in every direction to God, so here, in reference to the theodicy which he opposes to Job, he claims faultlessness and clearness of perception.” Del.] The Vulg. renders correctly as to the meaning: et perfecta scientia probabitur tibi.
3. First Division: Proof of God’s righteous dealings in allotting the destinies of men: a. In general: Job 36:5-15 (three short strophes: Job 36:5-7; Job 8-12; Job 13-15).
Job 36:5. Behold God is mighty, yet He disdaineth nothing.—וְלֹא יִמְאָם, objectless, as in Job 42:6; comp. Job 8:20. The meaning is, although He is exalted in power (כַּבִּיר as in Job 34:17), He nevertheless does not disdain to interest Himself even in the smallest of His creatures, and to maintain its right inviolate (comp. Job 36:6-7).—Mighty is He in strength of understanding (lit. “of heart,” לֵב as in Job 34:34), i. e., in the possession of an all-embracing intellectual energy, by virtue of which He sees through right and wrong everywhere, and orders everything in the highest wisdom; comp. Job 12:13.
Job 36:6. He preserveth not the ungodly in life.—Comp. Job 34:19 seq., as also Job’s presumptuous assertion of the contrary in Job 24:22 seq., against which Elihu here declares himself. [But He will grant the right of the afflicted].
Job 36:7 continues the affirmation of Job 36:6 b.—And (even) with kings on the throne (comp. Psalms 9:5  He makes them (i. e., the righteous, or “the afflicted” of Job 36:6 b, for both conceptions here flow together into one) to sit down forever, so that they are exalted.—Comp. the parallel passages as to thought—ch. Job 5:11; 1 Samuel 2:8; Psalms 113:7, etc. Inasmuch as the particular point respecting which we should look for something to be said here is how widely God’s care for His people extends, how high He can exalt them, the rendering of the Vulg. and of Luther—“who makes kings to sit on the throne”—is unsuitable, as also that of Ewald, which suffers besides from too great artificiality: “Kings for the throne, i. e., who merit the throne, He makes to sit down, etc.”
Job 36:8-12 constitute a single period, which develops the thought, that if God subjects to suffering His righteous ones (who continue to be the logical subject here, not “the ungodly,” as Hahn thinks), He does this with a view to their chastisement and purification—But if they i are bound with chains (זִקִּים to be understood figuratively; comp. Job 36:13), holden in cords of distress; comp. Job 13:27; Isaiah 28:22; Psalms 107:10 seq.
Job 36:9-10 are with Tremellius, Cocceius, Schultens, Ewald, Dillmann, etc., to be construed as still belonging to the protasis; the apodosis begins with יְכַלּוּ, in Job 36:11 b, the first verb in the whole long series which stands without וְconsecut., and is by that very fact marked as introducing the apodosis. [Most commentators, (and so E. V.), introduce the apodosis with the beginning of Job 36:9. But in addition to the argument from the use of the Vav. consec., it would seem to be more in harmony with Elihu’s conception, which unites the discipline with the suffering, to take the entire process described in Job 36:8-10 as one hypothesis, finding its consequent in Job 36:11 b.—E.]—And He declareth to them their doing.—פֹּעַל, maleficium, evil-doing, like מַעֲשֶׂה, Job 33:17.—And their transgressions, that (כִּי, quod objective) they act proudly (יִתְגַּבָּֽרוּ, lit. to show themselves strong, i. e. in opposing God): “exceeded,” E. V. is ambiguous, the intransitive use of it being rare.—E.]. In respect to “the opening of the ear for instruction” (Job 36:10 a), comp. Job 33:16, where the rarer form מֹסָר is used instead of the usual form מוּסָר found here. [Lit. “to the instruction,” that which forms the design of the chastisement.]—And commandeth them to turn (lit. “saith to them, that they turn”) from vanity.—אָוֶן, emptiness, nothingness, referring to the manifold sins of infirmity into which man easily falls, even when the essential spirit of his heart is holy, the taints proceeding from daily contact with the vain world (comp. John 13:10 seq.; 1 John 1:9 seq.; 1 John 2:16), by reason of which the purifying discipline of God becomes necessary.
Job 36:11-12, double apodosis to the antecedent propositions contained in Job 36:8-10, expressed by means of two subordinate antecedent conditional clauses, introduced by אִם, together with the consequents corresponding to each. This construction, which partially reminds us of Job 8:5 seq., was necessary, because, where disciplinary suffering is divinely appointed, the result in every case involves a two-fold possibility—either that the one who is chastised should humble himself, and be made better, or that he should continue presumptuously to resist.—In respect to עבד, “to humble himself, to submit, to betake himself to obedience,” comp. 1 Kings 12:7; Malachi 3:18; Psalms 2:11.—In respect to נְעִימִים, amœna, pleasantness, comfort, see Psalms 16:6. Respecting עָבַר בְּשֶׁלַח, “to perish by the dart” (or “in the dart”), gee Job 33:18.—On בִּבְלִי דָֽעַת, “in ignorance,” or “through ignorance,” see Job 35:16; also Job 4:21.
Job 36:13-15 continue yet further in a peculiar way the thought of the last two verses, the precedence being given here to the lot of the wicked, which in the previous verses was spoken of in the second place; so that an inverted order of thought ensues
Job 36:13-14 corresponding to the contents of Job 36:12, Job 36:15 to that of Job 36:11.—And the impure in heart cherish wrath.—יָשִׂימוּ אַף, scil. בְּלִבָּם (comp. Job 22:22; Psalms 13:3 ; Proverbs 26:24), or possibly—“they set up wrath,” in a warlike manner, against God as their enemy. The meaning, however, can scarcely be: “they lay up with God a store of wrath,” as though אַף here signified not men’s own discontent, but the divine wrath, and the θησαυρίζειν ὀργήν of Romans 2:6 were a parallel expression (Aben-Ezra, Rosenm. [E. V. app’y, Con., Words., Carey], etc. [Considered by itself, the expression שִׂים אַף would seem to be most simply rendered by “lay up wrath.” But the second member of the verse, which speaks of the conduct of the wicked when God afflicts them, favors rather the explanation of the commentary.—Instead of showing submission to God, they treasure up rebellious wrath within. This rendering of שִׂים is justified by the reff. given above; and of אף by Job 18:4 (comp. also חמה, Job 36:18); and the analogy of כַּעַשׂ and קִנְאָה in Job 5:4—E.]—They pray not (lit. “cry not,” שִׁוֵּעַ, according to Job 30:20; Job 38:41) when He hath chained them (comp. Job 36:8), so that they must perish, etc.תָּמֹת jussive, expressing the necessary consequence of the presumption of the dissolute. Respecting בַּנֹּעַר, “in youth, in he fresh vigor of youth,” comp. Job 33:25.—And their life is among the polluted, i. e. like that of the polluted (comp. Job 34:36). The Vulg. correctly: inter effeminates. For the word קְדֵשִׁים refers to the Syrian Canaanitish temple-prostitutes of the male sex, and the verse describes the effect of their incontinence in enervating, debilitating their manhood, and causing them to decay in the flower of their age [comp. Deuteronomy 23:18; 1Ki 14:24; 1 Kings 15:12; 1 Kings 22:47 ). The reference is not to the violation of women or maidens, in a military invasion (as described in Genesis 34:0; Judges 19:0, etc.). The point of comparison lies not in the violence, but in the prematureness (and shamefulness) of the death.
Job 36:15. But He delivereth the sufferer by his affliction; i. e. He rescues at last out of his misery the man who quietly and willingly endures, just by virtue of his constant endurance; He makes his suffering serve as a means of deliverance and a ransom to him (comp. Job 36:18 b). There seems to be a play upon words intended between יְחַלֵּץ and בַּלַחַץ in b, which may be approximately rendered [in German] by translating with Delitzsch: Doch den Duldenden entrückt Er durch sein Dulden, und öffnet durch Bedrückung ihr Ohr.
4. Proof of the divine righteousness, β. specially from Job’s experiences: Job 36:16-21.—And even thee he lures out of the jaws of distress.—So correctly most of the moderns since Ṡchultens. הֵסית with מִן signifies, as in 2 Chronicles 18:31, “to lure away from anything, out of anything” (not “to draw out,” as the Pesh., Targ., Rabbis explain, nor “to rescue,” as the Vulg. renders it). [Wordsworth: “He is instigating and impelling thee by means of thy affliction into a state of greater glory and happiness.”] וְאַף הֲסִיתְךָ is used, inasmuch as אף must occupy its usual place at the beginning of the sentence, for &וְהֵסִית אַף אֹתְךָ אַף serving to connect emphatically the particular case of Job with the general proposition expressed in the preceding verse. Schlottm.], and expresses not a future, but a present sense [the pret. being used either because Elihu has in mind God’s purpose in decreeing the present suffering of Job (Del.), or because that friendly process of alluring is conceived of as having begun in the past, and being continued in the present (Schl.). The expression מִפִּי־צָר figuratively describes the distress as a monster, with open jaws, threatening or attempting to swallow him.—E.].—Into a wide place under which there is no narrowness; i. e. into a wide place (רַחַב femin. accus. of the place aimed at), the foundation of which exhibits no narrowness, hence signifying “without narrowness in its foundation; or, which is better, a wide space, in place of which (תחת as in Job 34:26) is no narrowness, a wide place broken by no straits.” As to the figure comp. Psalms 4:2 ; Job 18:20 , etc. [The same figure is implied in all three terms, &רַחַב צָר, and מוצק, the last from צוק, to be strait.]—And the setting of [=that which is set on] thy table (He makes, or becomes) fulness of fatness; the same fig. to describe a state of flourishing prosperity as in Psalms 23:5 (comp. Proverbs 9:2; Psalms 22:27 [Psalms 22:26]; Psalms 107:9, etc.) נַחַת from נוּחַ, “to settle down,” referring to that which is set down on a table, or served for it, the food set on it. Fat food is used as a sign of feasts which are particularly expensive and abundant in Isaiah 25:6; Isaiah 55:2; Genesis 27:28; Genesis 27:39. Ewald, Vaih. and Dillm. take רַחַב in the second member, as also נַחַת in the third (the latter in the sense of “peace”) as subj. of the whole proposition, and thus obtain the meaning: “Verily, the wide place without straits, the peace of thy table full of fat, has misled thee more than sharp distress” (Dillmann: “away from the mouth of distress” [i. e. away from obeying the teachings of adversity]). But this thought, involving as it does a serious charge against Job, is poorly connected with what goes before, and is rendered impossible by the clause מִפִּי־צָר, which in connection with הסית cannot well signify anything else than “out of the mouth (jaws) of adversity.”
Job 36:17. But if thou art filled with the judgment of the wicked, then (truly) will judgment and punishment take firm hold, viz., on thee, will not depart from thee (not—“will take hold upon each other, follow each other by turns [as Carey, e. g., explains, “the act of judgment and the delivery of the sentence are very closely connected;” or according to others (e. g., Barnes) such opinions (those of the wicked) would be rapidly followed by judgment]—which reciprocal meaning of תמךְ would have been expressed rather by the Niph. יִתָּֽמְכוּ. The first member is in any case, as respects the thought, a hypothetical antecedent; in order to be a strict grammatical antecedent the Pret. מָלֵאתָ must of course have stood at the beginning. דִּין stands in a in the sense of guilt (Rosenmüller, Stickel, Hahn), or of a “murmuring judgment, presumptuous decision” respecting God (Umbreit, Hirzel, Schlottmann, Delitzsch, etc.); only in b does it denote the divine sentence of punishment. In no case does it express in both instances precisely the same meaning, as Ewald, Arnh., Dillmann, etc., suppose. [“He, whom thou dost presume to judge with words, will judge thee in deed.” Schlottm. The rendering of E. V., Good, Lee, Carey, Renan, etc.—“Thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked,” implying that Job had realized in his own experience the full measure of crime or of punishment belonging to the wicked, is certainly too harsh for the connection. The tone of the passage is strongly admonitory no doubt, but such a sentiment as that just referred to would carry Elihu too far into the camp of the opposition, represented by the friends.—E.].
Job 36:18 suitably introduces a warning to follow the threat just uttered. Here again Elihu has in mind the chief fault of Job,—his presumptuous complaining against God, and his doubt of God’s justice.—For the heat (of thy afflictions) should not mislead thee by its greatness;i. e., should not cause thee to err in respect to God’s goodness and justice, or to judge God after the manner of the wicked (comp. Job 36:17 a). [There seems to be a contrast intended between הסיתך in Job 36:16, and יסיתן, here. God would by His discipline lure, or urge him out of a narrow into a broad place: the חמה of this ver. would urge him against God.—E.] Hahn correctly thinks the heat (חֵמָה) spoken of to be the heat of his sufferings. The passage, as appears clearly enough from b, is a parallel to 1 Peter 4:12 (James 1:2 seq.). It is less natural to understand חֵמָה of the heat of his passion (Delitzsch) or of his anger [against God] (Stickel, Welte, Schlottm. [Conant, Wordsworth], etc.), or of the Divine anger (Rosenm., Umbreit, Dillmann) [E. V., Good, Ber., Barnes, Noyes, Rodwell, etc.],—although these renderings cannot be called unsuitable. On the contrary the attempt of Ewald, Hirzel, Vaih., Heiligst., to identify חֵמָה with חֶמְאָה, “cream” (Job 29:6), and that in the sense of riches (“may thy riches not betray thee”), is alike insipid and destructive of the sense. It may remain doubtful whether בְּשָׂפֶק (Pausal form for בְּשֶׂפֶק), signifies “into scorn, to mock and deride” (Stickel, Umbreit, Hahn, Schlottmann, Delitzsch, etc.) or “through superfluity, through abundance” (Ewald, Heil., Dillmann) [Fürst]. The latter rendering, which regards שֶׂפֶק as a dialectic alternate form of סֶפֶק (Job 20:22) seems to be favored both by the preposition בְּ (not לְ), and the parallel רָב־כֹּפֶר in the second member. [To the above should be added the signification “stroke,” which may fairly be vindicated for שׂפק from the use of the alternate form ספק just referred to in Commy. (comp. Job 27:23 with Job 34:26; Job 34:37). Thus defined it may be taken here (with Kimchi, Schult., etc.), in the sense of the clapping of hands, with the idea of expulsion, or in the sense of “stroke, chastisement,” (E. V., Merc, Rosenm., Gesenius, Carey, Ber., Good, Noyes, Barnes, Rod., Elzas, etc.). The latter would be the simpler. In that case חֵמָה may refer to the divine wrath, which is the view taken by most of those who thus explain ,שפק בְּ being explained as instrumental (E. V. “with His stroke”). It is better however to explain it of the anger or passionate discontent of man against God (comp. אַף above in Job 36:13) for the reason that elsewhere הֵסִית בְּ means uniformly to excite against. Thus Conant: “For beware, lest anger stir thee up against chastisement.” The thought thus obtained would be moreover altogether suitable to the connection. Elihu’s great anxiety is that Job should through submission profit by his chastisement, and that on the other hand he should not by a rebellious spirit resist, and so frustrate the object of the Divine discipline.—E.].—And let the abundance of the ransom not ensnare thee; i. e., let not the fact that thou must reckon up so large a ransom for the expiation of thy guilt, that thou must make such a severe expiation of the same, lead thee into error touching the goodness of God. כֹּפֶּר here accordingly in a somewhat different sense from Job 33:24. The supposition that the reference is to Job’s “vast wealth” in earthly possessions, with which he might erroneously imagine that he could purchase his release from God (Ewald, Hirz., Vaih. [Renan], etc.), is decidedly untenable, and would impute to Job a reliance on earthly treasures, the like of which the three friends even had not once ventured to charge upon him, much less the far more considerate and just Elihu. [Schl., with better reason, assumes that the reliance, or ransom intended here is Job’s piety. “He might think in some measure that he did not need to be very exact in what he should say concerning God’s dealings, because he could put all his piety, the beneficent use which he had made of all his treasures, in the other scale of the balance.” The idea of Zöckler on the contrary seems to be that God requires a great ransom in the sense of expiation, before the sinner can be delivered. Let not the greatness of that ransom, says Elihu, lead thee into error, i. e., the error of doubting the goodness of God. The rendering of E. V., “then a great ransom cannot deliver thee,’ is not an unsuitable thought in the connection. The principal objection to it lies in the verb נטה, which cannot well be rendered “deliver.” Gesenius, in order to obtain this meaning explains thus: “a great ransom cannot turn thee away, scil. from the Divine punishment, so as to avoid it.” But this is not altogether natural, and such a form of expression occurs nowhere else. This rendering, still further, seems to hang on the view that אַף means the Divine anger, and that הֵסִית בְּ means “to take away with,” against which see above. The negative אַל moreover does not favor it; for although it might have been used indeed in dependence on פֶּן, still such a construction would have been less natural and forcible than that with לֹא. It must be confessed that no interpretation of the verse which has been suggested is free from difficulties, and Dillmann’s conjecture of a corruption of the text is not altogether without reason.—E.].
Job 36:19 seq. continue the warning against impatient and discontented conduct in distress.—Shall thy crying put thee out of distress?—שׁוּעַ, “crying,” as in Job 30:24 (comp. Job 35:9, and above Job 36:13 b); עָרַךְ, a more choice word to express the idea of שִׂים or שִׂית, “to place,” (comp. Job 37:19): the object of הֲיַעֲרֹךְ is easily supplied by “thee,” or “any one.” The meaning of the question accordingly can be only: “will thy crying, thy lamentation, thy discontented raging, put thee in non-distress (לֹא בְּצָר, equivalent to בְּלֹא צָר), take thee out of distress?” So correctly Stickel, Hahn, Del. All other renderings depart more or less from the meaning required by the context: as e. g. that of Hirz.: “Will thy riches suffice? O, not gold (בֶּצֶר בְּצָר, Job 22:24 seq.), nor all treasures,” etc. [Good: “Will then thy magnificence avail? Not gold, nor,” etc.]; of Schlottmann: “Will thy treasures suffice? O not in distress,” etc.; of Ewald: “Will thy riches equip thee—without distress—with all the means of power?” of Rosenmüller, Umbreit, Ebrard [E. V.: Gesenius, Fürst, under בצר, though differently under ערךְ, Renan, Noyes, Rodwell, Conant: “Will He value thy riches without stint, and all the might of wealth?”]: “Will He value thy riches?” etc.; of Dillmann: “Will He set in order thy cry (of supplication)?” And all the efforts of strength (i. e., of thy strength)?—To שׁוּעֲךָ, which is made sufficiently determinate by the subject, the notion of “efforts of strength” is here suitably appended as an additional subject. מַאֲמָץ from אָמֵץ, “to be strong, firm,” in connection with כֹּחַ, can signify only a physical application of strength, not “wealth in treasures;” comp. אַמִּיץ כֹּחַ, Job 9:4; Job 9:19.
Job 36:20. Pant not after the night, when (entire) peoples go up (i. e., fly up like chaff before the tempest, Isaiah 5:24; Psalms 1:4) in their place—i. e., do not long, as thou hast foolishly done (comp. Job 13:18 sq.; Job 23:3 sq.; Job 24:1; Job 24:12), for the night of the divine judgment, with its terrors, sweeping away entire populations. In respect to שָׂאַף, anhelare, to long urgently for any thing, comp. Job 7:2; for the representation of the divine judgment by a night of terror, see Job 34:20; Job 34:25; Job 35:10. In respect to תַּחְתָּם, “in their place,” here as regards the meaning=“from their place,” see above, Job 5:16. It is impossible, with De Wette, to take תַּחְתָּם as standing for תַּחַת עַמִּים, “to raise up people in the place of people.” The rendering of Stickel and Hahn is harsh, and much too artificial: “when people come uppermost, with that which is under them.” The rendering of Delitzsch, however, is unnecessary, which takes לַעֲלוֹת as Inf. Hiph.=לְהַעֲלוֹת: “which will remove peoples from their place.” [The rendering “in their place” does not do entire justice to the expression תַּחְתָּם, which is exactly rendered by our phrase, “on the spot.” So again in Job 40:12; comp. Habakkuk 3:16; 2 Samuel 2:23 (“and he died on the spot”); Job 7:10. The rendering of Conant and Carey: “when [Con.: “where”] people are carried off below” (to the world below), involves a very harsh incongruity between the verb (“go up”) and the preposition (“below”). Conant argues that Elihu “is not speaking of any sudden calamity that sweeps whole races of men to the grave. This would be out of place here, for Job had desired no such thing. It was the repose of the grave for which he longed; for that night of death where successive generations sink down to the world beneath them.” Such, it is true, was Job’s conception of the night of death. But Elihu here reminds him that the night of death would be at the same time the night of divine judgment, and that so terrible is that judgment that it can sweep off whole peoples on the spot; how much less then could he, single-handed and alone, hope to face it without perishing. Let him rather repent, etc., Job 36:21.—E.]
Job 36:21 concludes these warnings against foolish murmuring and presumptuous complaining (which is here called אָוֶן, “vanity, wickedness,” comp. Job 5:10) in an emphatic way, by expressing the thought found in Genesis 8:21, and founded on the universal experience of the race, that the heart is naturally inclined to disobedience and to rebellion against God: for to this thou hast desire more than to affliction.—מִן, comparative, as in Job 7:15, not causal, as though מֵעֹנִי meant “on account of suffering, in view of affliction” (Vulg., Luther, Stickel, etc.), nor again instrumental (Ewald: “therefore thou wast proved by suffering.” בָּחַר עַל here (other wise than in 2 Samuel 19:39 ) essentially the same with בָּחַר בְּ, to extend one’s choice to any thing, i. e., to be inclined towards any thing, to have a desire for it.
5. Second Division. Proof of the divine righteousness from the wonders of nature, from the power and wisdom revealed in the physical world.
a. Descriptive part: chs. Job 36:22 to Job 37:13. Introduction or transition: Job 36:22-25 (the first of three eight-lined strophes, Job 36:22 sq., 26 sq., 30 sq., each of which begins with הֵן, and which by the exact equality and similarity of their structure give evidence of being one coherent whole—a structure which has been correctly recognized by Stickel and Delitzsch [also by Schlottmann, Noyes, Wordsworth, Carey, Rodwell], but ignored by Köst., Ewald, Dillmann, etc.). Behold, God worketh loftily in His strength [E. V.: Behold, God exalteth by His power; but less suitably to the connection, this strophe being, as has just been shown, introductory to the description of God’s power in the physical world, rather than in the world of humanity.—E.].—As the meditation on truths lying in the realm of historical or ethical theology, which constitutes the preceding section, began with a הֵן, “behold” (Job 36:5), vividly pointing out the theme of discourse, so also the meditation which is here introduced on truths in the realm of physical theology. The conjecture is in itself sufficiently probable, that some phenomenon of external nature, perhaps a thunder-storm, which already in Job 36:5 was approaching, but which had now burst forth, with lightning, thunder, and heavy rain, furnished the occasion to this sudden and vivid transition to the description of the natural world. This conjecture receives a strong support from the emphatic double recurrence of the הֵן, first in Job 36:26, at the beginning of the description of the rain, and then in Job 36:30, in the transition to the description of lightning and thunder. The probability is still further increased by passages like Job 36:33, and especially by Job 37:2 sq. And finally it receives the strongest support from the article before סְעָרָה in Job 38:1, which can scarcely be explained without the supposition here referred to (comp. on the passage). Who is a ruler like to him?—The usage of the language would justify, and indeed would even favor rather the rendering adopted by the Targ., Peshito, Luther, Schlottmann, Delitzsch [E. V., Lee, Noyes, Conant, Bernard, Renan, Rodwell, Barnes], etc.: “Who is a teacher like Him?” But the context, and especially the הִשְׂגִּיב in a, seems rather to favor the rendering supported by the LXX., which takes =מוִרֶה Chald. מָרֵא (Daniel 2:47), hence to mean “lord, ruler.” The Vulg. attempts to give an explanation intermediate between the δυνάστης of the LXX. and the “teacher” of the other ancient versions by its use of legislator: quis ei similis in legislatoribus? [So Wordsworth combines “Master and Teacher;” Carey: “Master,” as expressing the ambiguity of the original. Some (e. g.. Good): “And who, like Him, can cast down?” which would be a suitable antithesis to the E. V.’-s rendering of a: “God exalteth by His power,” but is open to the same objection; see above. In favor of the sense “teacher,” Delitzsch argues: “(1) מוֹרֶה from הוֹרָה, Psalms 25:8; Psalms 25:12; Psalms 32:8) has no etymological connection with מר; (2) it is, moreover, peculiar to Elihu to represent God as a teacher both by dreams and dispensations of affliction, Job 33:14 seq.; Job 34:32; and by His creatures, Job 35:11; and (3) the designation of God as an incomparable teacher is also not inappropriate here, after His rule is described in Job 36:22 a as transcendently exalted, which on that very account commands to human research a reverence which esteems itself lightly.” These considerations at least show that the educational disciplinary functions of the Divine Ruler are prominently intended here; and this is in harmony with the general tone of this strophe.—E.]
Job 36:23. Who hath appointed to Him His way?—פקד על, “to charge one with any thing, to prescribe anything to any one,” as in Job 34:13. It would be possible also to render it: “Who hath inspected for Him His way?” (LXX., Vulg., Seb. Schmidt, Ewald, [Good], etc.). The second member permits both renderings.
Job 36:24. Remember that thou exalt (הִשְׂגִּיא, in a different sense from Job 12:23) His doing, which men have greatly sung. שֹׁרֵר an intensive form of שׁוּר, denoting singing often repeated, or various in its character. The exhortation to the praise and glorification of the exalted activity of God stands in significant antithesis to the previous warnings against sitting in judgment on the same. [Here again, as in Job 33:27 E. V. takes the verb שׁוּר in the sense of “behold,” which would be a useless and feeble tautology before the חזה and הביט of Job 36:25.—E.].
Job 36:25. All people gaze thereon with delight (בּוֹ referring back to פָּעָלֹו, Job 36:24 a;חזה ב as elsewhere רבה ב); mortals behold It from afar;—i. e., not—“they can behold it only from a great distance” (so Dillmann, who would compare Job 26:14), but—they dare not contemplate it anear, from reverential fear before the unapproachableness of His operations.
6. Continuation. Description of the storm, together with the mighty phenomena accompanying it, such as rain, clouds, lightning, thunder, etc.: Job 36:26—Job 37:5 (three strophes, the first two consisting of 4 verses each, the third of 5).
Job 36:25-29. Behold, God is exalted (שַׂגִּיא as in Job 37:23, elsewhere only in the Aramaic portions of the O. T.), we know not (i. e., how very exalted He is); the number of His years is unsearchable (lit. “as for the number of his years—so [וְ] there is no searching;” respecting the וְ introducing the apodosis, comp. Job 4:6; Job 15:17). The eternity of God is here introduced as the explanatory ground (not as a mere co-ordinate “moment,” as Dillmann supposes) of the divine greatness and wisdom. As the Eternal One, God has the power to effect all the glorious wonders in the realm of His creation which are enumerated in the passage following; comp. Job 12:12 seq. [“The Omnipotence and wisdom of God, which are everywhere apparent in the universe, furnish a testimony to God’s righteousness. All attributes of the Divine Nature are rays proceeding from one centre; where one is, (here also of necessity must the others be. How can the Being who everywhere shows Himself in creation to be most perfect, be defective in this one point? Every witness therefore in Nature to God’s greatness as a Creator, rises against an arraignment of God’s righteousness. Whoso will bring a charge against God’s justice, must measure himself with the Divine Omnipotence.—At first sight it may seem surprising that the mind of the righteous sufferer is directed by Elihu and by Jehovah himself, to the wondrous formation of the clouds, to Thunder, Lightning and Snow, and to the War-horse, the Hawk, and the Eagle. But when we examine the matter more carefully, we see that such a course of reasoning is excellently fitted its purpose. An Almighty and All-wise God, who is not at the same time righteous, is in truth an inconceivable impossibility. For this reason, they who impeach God’s righteousness, are always on the high road to doubt His existence. Pelagianism leads not merely to the destruction of the true idea of God, but to blank Atheism (Hengstenberg). It must also be borne in mind that God rises from an appeal to the signs of His power and goodness in the visible world, and refers Job to His working in the invisible world, in the domain of spirits, and challenges Job to a comparison of human power with that of God in the defense and deliverance of mankind, even of Job himself, from his spiritual enemies. See below, Job 40:6-15.” Wordsworth.].
Job 36:27. For He draweth up the water drops, to wit, from the earth. This is the only rendering of יְגָרַע, which corresponds to the second member; not that of the LXX., Pesh., etc.; “He numbers off;” and just as little that of Stickel and Delitzsch: “He draws off [=lets fall] the drops,” i. e., out of the upper mass of waters [to which add the rendering of E. V., Mercier, etc. “He maketh small the drops of water.” The reference seems clear to the first step in the process of forming the rain, by which the drops are attracted (upward of necessity, although that does not lie essentially in the verb, for which reason the objection of Delitzsch that it means attrahere or detrahere, but not attrahere in sublime falls to the ground), attracted, that is, towards Him who is the Divine cause.—E.]. So that they ooze (זקק, lit. “to filter, refine,” comp. Job 28:1) the rain with His mist, i. e., the mist which He spreads out [i. e., since a mist produced by it (Genesis 2:6) fills the expanse (רָקִיעַ), the downfall of which is just this rain.” Delitzsch]. In respect to אֵד, comp. Genesis 2:6; in respect to לְ, “with,” (or also “on account of, by means of”) comp. Job 37:1 a. [E. V. “they pour down rain according to the vapor thereof.” “Pour down” for זקק is neither sufficiently accurate nor expressive, destroying as it docs the image of “filtering” which lies in the verb. “According to” may be accepted for לְ, which is obscure. According to Gesenius, it indicates the vapor as the origin of the rain—quæ orta est ex vapore ejus: and so Conant. According to others it denotes the state into which rain-drops pass in falling. According to Ewald it is a sign of the accusative, אֵד being in opposition with מָטָר. Is it not natural to find in Job 36:27-28 a description of the successive steps in the formation of the rain—first (27a) the ascent of the water-drops in evaporation—then (27b) the filtering of the mist whereby rain is produced, then (Job 36:28) the fall of the rain (a) in general, (b) in copious abundance? If this view be correct, the best explanation of לְ would seem to be that it denotes possession, or origin. The suffix in אֵדוֹ moreover is better referred to God than to the rain, especially according to the explanation here suggested.—E.]
Job 36:28. Which the high clouds drop down.—שְׁחָקִים here somewhat differently from Job 35:5) denoting such clouds indeed as are high, but not dry, or rainless; comp. Proverbs 3:20. Respecting the construction (אֲשֶׁר, accus. of material to יִזְּלוּ) comp. Ewald, § 281, b. In respect to b [And distil upon the multitude of men], comp. Job 37:12 seq.—[רָֽב may (with E. V.) be taken adverbially=“abundantly;” although it seems better with most moderns to take it as an adjective describing אָדָם “many men.” In this case as well as the other the predominant thought seems to be the copiousness of the rain.—E.].
Job 36:29. Yea (אף intensive, as elsewhere בִּי אַף, comp. Job 35:14) can one understand the spreadings of the clouds? their expansion, outspreading over the vault of heaven (comp. Ezekiel 27:7; Psalms 105:39; not “their burstings,” which מִפְרְשֵׂי could signify only if we were at liberty to derive it (with Hirzel and Stickel [Conant, Renan] from a verb = פרשׂ פָּרַם, frangere.—The loud crashing of His pavilion?—The thick, deep black thunderclouds are here conceived of as the “tabernacle” behind which God veils Himself, precisely as in Psalms 18:12. It should be noted that the “tents” סֻכּות) of the orientals have the appearance of being predominantly black (comp. on Song of Solomon 1:5; Song of Solomon 4:1). תְּשֻאוֹת; used of the loud crashing of the thunder (referred to the thunder-clouds, pictured as a tabernacle), hence somewhat differently from below, Job 39:7. [The magnificent terseness and power of the line תְּשֻׁאוֹת מֻבָּתוֹ should be noted.—E.].
Job 36:30 seq. Special description of the phenomena of thunder and lightning in the storm, as already announced in Job 36:29 b.—Behold, He spreadeth His light around Himself;i. e. that eternal, heavenly veil of light, in which God dwells continually (Psalms 104:2, etc.), and out of which the lightning-flashes issue, like rays, gleaming through the clouds, and dividing them; comp. Job 36:32; Job 37:3. [עָלָיו, as here explained—around or over Himself—the suffix referring to God, not the “tabernacle,”—“upon it.” E. V.]—And with the roots of the sea He covereth Himself (כִּסָּה with accus.—“to take anything as a covering,” as in Jonah 3:6). The “roots of the sea” are the masses of water drawn upwards out of the sea, into the heavens in the form of black clouds, and here serving God as a veil (so correctly Umbreit, Ewald, Vaihinger, Dillmann) [Conant, Noyes, who renders: “And He clotheth Himself with the depths of the sea”]. The expression is poetically bold, but still unmistakable (comp. שֹׁרֶשׁ in Job 13:27; Job 28:9. By הַיָּם we are to understand neither the waters of the heavens above (Hirzel, Schlottm.), nor the sea of clouds (Hahn) [Renan]. The expression denotes, as always, the ocean, regarded as the source of the atmospheric moistures which mount up from it. The language does not refer to a “covering of the foundations of the sea with the light of the lightning” (Stuhlm., Delitzsch) [Good, Wordsworth]; in order to express this thought, another אוֹר or בָּאוֹר would scarcely have been omitted with כִּסָּה. [Delitzsch explains his view as follows: “The lightning in a thunder-storm, especially when occurring at night, descends into the depths of the sea, like snares that are cast down (פַּחִים, Psalms 11:6), and the water is momentarily changed, as it were, into a sea of flame.” But this explanation does not adequately account for the use of שׁרשׁ. According to another explanation, God is represented as covering the depths of the sea, either with waters (Barnes), or with darkness, contrasting with the lightning which covers the sky (Lee, Rodwell). But neither of these explanations falls in naturally with the description of the storm. Renan: “Now He covers Himself with His lightnings as with a curtain; now He seems to hide Himself in the depths of the sea;” his explanation being: “He treats here of the alternations of light and darkness which take place in storms. The clouds are compared to a dark and deep sea.” There is nothing, however, to indicate such a contrast between light and darkness. The “light” here is more especially that of the storm-lightning, in which God wraps Himself as a robe; the “ocean-roots” are the storm-clouds, conceived of as the waters lying in the depths of the sea, which God has lifted up, and gathered around Himself.—E.]
Job 36:31. For therewith—with lightnings and clouds (Job 36:30)—He judgeth the people, giveth food in abundance.—לְמַכְבִּיר only here,=the expression לָרֹב, usually found elsewhere. The whole verse—which has somewhat of a parenthetic character, as an ethical and theological reflection in the midst of a passage which otherwise is purely descriptive—which, however, is not (with Olshausen) to be placed between Job 36:28-29—reminds us of Schiller:
Aus der Wolke quillt der Segen,
Strömt der Regen;
Aus der Wolke, ohne Wahl,
Zuckt der Strahl.1
Job 36:32. Both hands He covereth over with light and sendeth it forth against the adversary.—This is a more specific description of what God does in judging the people (Job 36:31 a), and the use He makes therein of the lightning. [“God is represented under a military figure as a slinger of lightnings: He covers light over both hands, i. e. arms both completely with light, and directs it.” Delitzsch.] Who the adversary is (מַפְגְּיעָ, LXX., Theod.: ἀπαντῶν) against whom He sends forth the light (lit. “commands it, enacts concerning it,” צִוָּה with עַל, as often) remains undetermined, and needs not to be inquired into. It signifies at any rate any hostile powers, against which God sends forth His lightnings; comp. Psalms 18:14 seq.; Job 11:6; Wis 19:12, etc. The signification of מַפְגִּיעַ elsewhere (= intercessor, Isaiah 59:16) does not suit here. The change of the word into מִפְגַּע, “point of attack” (Job 7:20), proposed by Olshausen, is however untenable. The same may be said of Hahn’s explanation of the word in this sense. Delitzsch renders it peculiarly: “and commissioneth it as one who hitteth the mark” (בִּ as בְּessentiæ, and הפגיע after Isaiah 53:6). [Delitzsch connects it with God, as “a sure aimer.”—Wordsworth a little differently with the lightning: “He giveth it a command as an assailant, or an avenger.”—Lee: “He layeth His commands upon it to destroy.”—Rosenmüller, Stickel, Elzas: “He commandeth it where to strike.” Barnes, Carey: “He commandeth it in striking.” The rendering of E. V.: “With clouds (כַּפַיִם for clouds from their fancied resemblance to hands) He covereth the light, and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt,” pre-supposes too much. The rendering of the Commentary: “against the enemy,” is that which is best supported by the etymology, grammatical form, and connection.—E.]
Job 36:33. His thunder-cry announces Him; lit. “His alarm-cry makes announcement (1 Samuel 27:11) concerning Him.” רֵעוֹ in accordance with Exodus 32:17; Micah 4:9; not=רֵעֵהוּ [His friend, companion], as indeed almost all the ancient versions take it [LXX.: “The Lord will declare concerning this to His friend”]; also among the moderns Umbreit and Schlottmann. [“He makes known to it (scil. the light, or lightning) His friend.” So Barnes.] Just as little does it mean: “His thought, decree” (Cocceius, Böttcher, Welte) [Elzas: “By it He announceth His will.”—E. V., Rosenm., etc.: “The noise thereof showeth concerning it,” taking the suffix to refer to the storm, not to God; which is altogether too insipid].—The cattle even (announce) that He is on the march; or: “concerning Him who is coming upward.” This is beyond a doubt the most satisfactory explanation of the difficult closing member מִקְנֶה אַף עַל־עוֹלֶה—an explanation which becomes still more obvious if—instead of assuming, as is commonly done (so Rosenm., Stick., Ew., Vaih., Heil., Delitsch, etc.), merely a general reference to the uneasy movements of animals at the first approach of a thunder-storm, and comparing with it passages like Virgil, Georg. I., 373 seq.; Pliny, H. N. XVIII., 35, etc.,—we suppose that the storm thus far described had occasioned under the eyes of the assembly, before which Elihu speaks, a certain bewilderment or destruction in- a particular herd of cattle;—if, accordingly, we assume an actual occasion to have been given for this description—an occasion which is not to be more particularly defined, and so derive again out of the passage before us a confirmation of the supposition advanced above on Job 36:22. In that case we need have recourse to none of the artificial and violent make-shifts, into the adoption of which expositors have fallen here, as e. g. the rendering of מִקְנֶה in the absolutely unheard of signification of “jealousy, fury of wrath” (Hahn: “a raging of wrath announces Him who is uprising;” and comp. Schlottmann); the changing of the word into מַקְנֶה (Hitzig), or מְקַנֶּה (Böttcher, Dillmann, who at the same time read עַוְלָה instead of עוֹלֶה: “causing His anger to rage against iniquity”), etc. [Schlottmann’s rendering, referred to above—“and the fury of wrath against iniquity (or against transgressors)” is the one adopted by Fürst, Good, Lee, Bernard, Carey, Elzas.—The possible varieties of interpretation of the verse are endless. See the more important set forth in Schultens, Schlottmann, and Conant. The simplicity, life-likeness, and appositeness of the rendering adopted in the Commy. (and by Ewald, Delitz., Gesenius, Renan, Wordsworth, Rodwell, and Conant—who however takes מִקְנֶה as object, rather than subject—“to the herds”.) will commend it to most.—E.].
Job 37:1-5. Further description of the terror-working power of the thunder and lightning.
Job 27:1. Yea, because of this (לְזֹאת, comp. Job 36:27), my heart trembleth, and quaketh out of its place; lit., “springs, or starts up,” comp. Job 6:9. Why this should be regarded as “an exaggerated, hardly an elegant expression” (Dillmann), is not apparent.
Job 27:2. Hear, O hear, the roar of His voice.—שִׁמְעוּ שָׁמוֹעַ, a summons to hear closely and attentively, comp. Job 13:17; Job 21:2. The phenomena of the thunder and lightning seem, at this particular moment of the description, so very near to the speaker and his hearers, that some commentators, as Böttcher, Schlottmann, Delitzsch, have found here at least an indication of the probability that the poet presupposes a storm as advancing during the colloquy. It is, however, evidently not an approaching thunderstorm to which the description refers, but one which had been for some time already present, and which might be heard now loudly roaring (see a), and now lowly murmuring or rumbling (see b) [and the rumbling (הֶגֶה, E. V.: too general—“sound”) that goeth forth out of His mouth]. Comp. what Delitzsch himself strikingly says: “The five-fold repetition of קוֹל—a word of sombre sound, for which our Stimme [Voice] is a miserable substitute—calls to mind the seven קוֹלוֹת in Psalms 29:0.” Against Dillmann’s assertion, that if the poet had purposed to represent the thunder-storm mentioned in Job 38:1 as here already advancing, he would not have begun his series of physico-theological reflections with the storm, but would have reserved it for the conclusion, it may be argued that at the close of his discourse, and after his digression in respect to the cold, rain season, etc. (Job 27:6-13), Elihu does in fact again repeatedly take up the phenomena of storms and atmospheric changes; comp. on Job 38:1.
Job 27:3. Under the whole heaven He leadeth it forth—or: “He sends it forth, looses it” (יִשְׁרֵהוּ, Imperf. Kal. of the Aram, שׁרה), i. e., the roaring and the rumbling. [The definition of the verb here adopted is preferred by Ewald, Fürst, Del., Dillm., Hirz., Lee, Carey, Wordsw., etc., on the ground that it is more appropriate as applied to the thunder (let loose through the immeasurable vault of heaven), and particularly to the zig-zag course of the lightning, than the signification “to direct” (from ישׁר, which rests on the fundamental idea of straightness).—E.]. And His lightning (lit. “His light”) unto the borders of the earth.—In respect to בַּנְפוֹת חָאָרֶץ, see on Job 38:13. As to the thought, comp. Luke 17:24 and parallel passages.
Job 27:4. After it roareth the sound of the thunder: He thundereth with the voice of His majesty—lit. “He will thunder” (יַרְעֵם), voluntative, as also יִשָּׁמַע in c).—And restraineth them not (i. e., the lightnings, the particular rays of the אוֹר mentioned in Job 27:3), when His voice resounds [lit. is heard].—עִקִּב, not “to track out, to follow up” (Symmachus, Vulg., Ewald [who renders interrogatively: “and will He not find them out when His voice is heard?” i. e., track them in their hiding-places with His thunder and lightning], but in accordance with the Targ., עִכֵּב, to hold back, refrenare, cohibere [the idea being that the roar of the thunder and the flash of the lightning follow in quick succession].
Job 27:5. God thundereth marvellously with His voice.—נִפְלָאוֹת here used adverbially = mirabiliter, as in Daniel 8:24; Psalms 65:6; Psalms 139:14. In respect to b, comp. Job 5:9; Job 9:10; Job 36:26. The verse ends for the time the description, so far as it relates to the storm, and by a general observation respecting God’s greatness leads the way to the following examples of the same.
7. Continuation. The phenomena of winter, such as snow, rain, the north wind, frost, etc.: Job 37:6-13.
Job 27:6. For to the snow He saith—Fall to the earth.—הֱוֵה erroneously rendered “Be” by the LXX., Targ, Pesh. [E. V.] (on the contrary, correctly by Jerome—ut descendat), is Imperat. of הוה, “to fall” (lit. “to gape, to yawn”), a root obtaining elsewhere only in Arabic as a verb; hence another of the Arabisms of this Elihu section, as in Job 34:36; Job 35:15, etc. In the two following members the לְ of לַשֶּׁלֶג extends its influence: (also) to the rain-shower (גֶּשֶׁמ, a heavy, pouring rain; a stronger term than מָטָר), and the rain-showers of His strength—i. e., His mighty, pouring rain-showers (the plural structure similar to קוִל בֹּכִים in Job 30:31; comp. Ewald, § 270, c). The rain, being by far the most common form in which the moisture of the atmosphere is precipitated during the Syro-Arabian winter, where it comes down particularly in the late autumn (as the early rain), and in the early spring (as the latter rain), is by the double designation more strongly emphasized than the snow. Comp. still further, as a parallel in thought, Isaiah 55:10.
Job 27:7-8 describe the effects of the cold of winter on men and beasts. [“The wonders of nature during the rough season (&מְתָיו חֹרֶף, Song of Solomon 2:11), between the autumnal and vernal equinoxes, are meant; the rains after the autumnal equinox (the early rain), which begin the season, and the rains before the vernal equinox (the late rain, Zechariah 10:11), which close it, with the falls of snow between, which frequently produce great desolation, especially the proper winter, with its frosty winds and heavy showers, when the business of the husbandman, as of the nomads, is brought to a stand-still, and every one retreats to his house or seeks a sheltering corner.” Del.]
Job 27:7. The hand of every man He puts under a seal—so that it is disabled from carrying on field-work (comp. Homer, Iliad, XVII. 549 seq.: ὅς ῤά τε ἐ̔ργων ). Respecting חתם ב, comp. Job 33:16. The object of this sealing influence of the winter frost on the hands of men is: that all men of His work may come to knowledge—i. e., that all men created by God may learn how mighty He is, and how entirely dependent on Him they are. “Men of His work” is a somewhat singular collocation of words, which does not occur elsewhere, which, however, has its parallel in the expression, “sheep of His hand,” Psalms 95:7, and for that reason is not of necessity to be set aside in the way of conjecture. At the same time, the rendering of the Vulg.: ut noverint singuli opera sua, furnishes a witness not altogether to be slighted in behalf of the emendation of Olshausen, favored also by Delitzsch—לַדַּעַת בָּל־אֲנָשִׁים מַעֲשֵׂהוּ.
In regard to Job 27:8 [Then creeps the beast into his covert, and in his lairs doth he remain] comp. Psalms 104:22, where, it is true, that which is spoken of is not exactly the influence of winter in causing beasts to seek out places of shelter.
Job 27:9. Out of the secret chamber cometh the storm.—חֶדֶר “chamber” (penetrale claustrum) denotes the enclosure out of which the storm-wind rushes forth, as in Job 38:22 (comp. Psalms 135:7) mention is made of the “storehouses” of the snow. Comp. Job 9:9—“chambers of the south,” with which expression the one before us is not to be identified without further qualification. For instead of storms from the south or south-east (Rosenmüller, Umbreit Vaihinger, Welte, Delitzsch) [E. V.], the language here refers rather to storms from the north or north-east, as certainly as that below in Job 27:17 the sultry and heating quality of the south wind is intended. And cold from the cloud-scatterers.—מְזָרִים, probably Partic. Piel. plnr. from זָרָה, “to sweep away, to scatter,” hence dispergentes (scil. venti), the cloud-sweepers, a designation of violent cold storms (as in Arab, darijat, they which blow away; Kor. Sur. 51, 1), which indeed are also to be regarded as coming from the north or east; comp. Job 1:19. The ancient versions seem not to have understood the word which occurs only here. Thus the LXX.: ἀπὸ τῶν (a corruption perchance of ἀρκτῴων?); Vulg.: ab arcturo; Aq., Theod.: ἀπὸ Μαζούρ (similarly the Targ.) [Fürst and Lee: the Northern constellations; Mercier: Septentriones; Good: the Arctic chambers; Renan: the north winds, etc.].
Job 27:10. From the breath of God there isיִתֵּן (impersonal as also Proverbs 13:10) [“there cometh, there is given”] ice—viz., when a cold blast, proceeding from God, sweeps over the face of the water, by means of which, according to b, “the breadth of the waters (is brought) into a strait” (comp. Job 36:16), i. e., is solidified, and so fettered as it were, is arrested in its free, flowing movement. Precisely thus the Arabic poet, Montenebbi: “the flood is chained by bands of ice.” In respect to the apparent contradiction between this representation and the physical fact of the expansion of freezing water, see below on Job 38:30.
Job 27:11-13 return to the description of the phenomena of clouds and rain, occasioned by a new phase of the storm just taking place, consisting in the outpouring of rain in extraordinary abundance. Schlottmann correctly: “The storm in its magnificent approach drifts victoriously before all the senses of Elihu, so that from all other images brought forward as they are with a certain haste, he ever recurs to that of the storm” (comp. Del.).
Job 27:11. Also he loadeth with moisture the clouds—comp. Job 26:8.—רִי, from רוה, signifies “moisture, wet,” and הִטְרִיחַ, related to טֹרַח, “burden,” is “to load, to make heavy.” All explanations which take בְּרִי as one word from the root ברר (or ברה) are against the connection, e. g., “serenity [brightness] dispels the clouds” (Targ., Rosenm., Umbreit [Bernard, Barnes, Elzas], etc.); frumentum (בַּר) desiderat nubes (Vulg., Symmach.); ἐκλεκτὸν κὰταπλήσσεινεφέλη (LXX, and similarly Theod., Pesh.). [Gesenius, Noyes: “In rain He casts down the thick cloud.” Carey: “By (its) watering the thick cloud falleth headlong.” But the vers. which follow, and particularly Job 27:12 a, are scarcely consistent with the idea that the cloud has cast down its contents. E. V. also seems to take רִי actively—“by watering He wearieth the thick cloud;” the meaning being apparently that by showering down its contents the cloud is wearied or worn away; against which the objection just noted holds.—E.]. He spreadeth far and wide the clouds of His light—i. e., the thunder-clouds, pregnant with lightning, through which the lightning flashes; comp. Job 36:29; and in respect to הֵפִיץ, “to scatter, to spread abroad,” comp. Job 38:24.
Job 27:12. And these—round about they turn themselves.—וְהוּא cannot refer to God (Rosenmüller, Schlottmann) [Lee; also Good and Elzas, who, however, both render מְסִבּוֹת “seasons” (courses)]. It can be referred only to עָגָן, or עָב “clouds,” Job 27:11. [The most natural way of accounting for its use here is to understand it as descriptive, Elihu pointing out the cloud at the time—וְהוּא—“And there it is! turning round about, hither and thither,” etc. Thus understood, it would be better to adhere to the singular rendering of “cloud” in Job 27:11, as being more individual and vivid.—E.]. מְסִבּוֹת, “round about,” as elsewhere סָבִיב, or סְבִיבוֹת.—Piloted by Him (lit. “by His pilotings,” the clouds being thought of as God’s ships, or coursers; comp. Psalms 18:11  seq.) according to their doings—i. e., according to the actions of men, God having established a strict economic relation between those actions and the agency of His clouds in heaven, now yielding a blessing and now working destruction. This reference of the suffix in לְפָֽעֳלָם to men (Ewald, Hirzel, Heil., Dillm.) is favored by Job 27:13, as also by the Masoretic accentuation, which forbids the connection of לפעלם with what follows, according to the view which finds favor with the majority of modern commentators—“that they may do whatever he commandeth them on the face,” etc. [To which add the use of the strongly individualizing and descriptive חוּא at the beginning of the verse, after which it is altogether unlikely that the plural suffix would be used, especially seeing that again in Job 27:13 b the sing. suffix is used, יַמְצִאֵהוּ.—E.] The third member expresses the object of the verb פעל—Whatsoever He commands to them upon the globe. The pleonastic expression תְּבֵל אֶרֶץ [lit. “the habitable land (of) the earth”] occurs again in Proverbs 8:0. Respecting the form אַרְצָה, comp. already Job 34:13.
Job 27:13. More specific statement of the object for which God steers the clouds in accordance with the conduct of men: be it for a scourge, when it is (necessary) for His earth, or for a blessing, He causeth it to come.—אִם־לְאַרְצוֹ is not co-ordinate with the two other conditional clauses (Rosenm., Umbreit, Del. [E. V., Noyes, Words., Carey, Rod.]; “now for a scourge, now for the benefit of His earth, now for mercy,” etc.), but subordinate [as is proved (1) by the decided contrast between “whether for a scourge” and “or for mercy,” each at the beginning of its half-verse; a contrast and a proportion of parts which would be destroyed by introducing another co-ordinate אִם; (2) by the tautology which ensues from making the second clause with אִם co-ordinate, there being really no material difference between “for the benefit of His land” (or earth), and “for mercy.”—E.] The earth is called “His earth,” because it is God’s possession (comp. Job 34:13), and the לְ before אַרְצוֹ differs from the לְ before the other two nouns, in that it introduces a Dat. commodi. In respect to שֵׁבֶט=“chastisement,” comp. Job 21:9.
8. Conclusion. b. Application: Job 37:14-24. Instead of censuring God, or quarreling with Him, Job should draw from His wonderful operations in the natural world the right conclusion in regard to the mystery of his suffering. The appeals and questions addressed to Job to the end of the discourse, are seriously intended. An unprejudiced consideration of the passage will find in it no trace of “a lofty irony” (Schlottmann, Ewald, Dillmann).
Job 27:14. Hearken unto this, O Job, stand still, etc. Both “this” (זֹאת), and the “wonders of God” in b, point not to what follows, but to the contents of the preceding descriptions.
Job 27:15. Dost thou know how God commandeth them?—שׂוּם עַל, as in Exodus 5:8, and often, of imposing commands upon, not, as in Job 34:23, of “setting one’s thoughts on anything” (Rosenmüller, Hirzel, Delitzsch [Conant, Rodwell, Gesenius; i. e., when God planned (E. V., “disposed”) them]). בְּשׂוּם is not (according to the authorities just mentioned) a determination of time when, but a specification of the object of הֲתֵדַע, this specification being further enlarged by the Perf. consec. וְהוֹפִיע. [According to this explanation בְּ is used partitively after ידע, like the Greek genit. after verbs of knowing, “to have knowledge of,” hence of partial knowledge. See Ewald, § 217, 3, 2, γ]. The suffix in עֲלֵיהֶם refers back either to the “wonders of God,” Job 27:14 b, or to the “clouds,” Job 27:11 sq. “Causing the light of the clouds to shine,” in b (comp. Job 3:4; Job 10:3, etc.) is a circumlocution for the simple idea of lightning; comp. Job 27:11 b.
Job 27:16. Dost thou understand the balancings of the clouds?—מִפְלְשֵׂי from שׂלַפָּ סלפ, to weigh (Psalms 58:3 ), to poise, a similar structure to that of מִפְרְשֵׂי, Job 36:29, but not for that reason to be regarded as an interchangeable form of that word (against Ewald). Respecting תְּמִים דֵּעִים in b, comp. on Job 36:4. The form מִפְלְאוֹת instead of נִפְ׳ found only here.
Job 27:17-18 introduce a new, and at the same time the last digression from the phenomena of storms, which otherwise constitute throughout the principal theme of the description. Here it is to the phenomena which accompany the full blaze of the summer sun beaming in a perfectly serene and clear sky, that the speaker digresses. The אֲשֶׁר of Job 27:17 is not a conjunction = כִּי (Rosenm, Umbreit, Hirzel) [Good, Lee, Noyes, Renan, Rodwell, Barnes, etc., and E. V.] or = אִם (Schlottmann), but a pronoun referring to Job, the person addressed, and introducing a relative clause, precedent to the interrogative sentence in Job 27:18—Thou, whose clothes (become) hot, when the earth becomes sultry (lit. “becomes calm, still”) from the South;i. e., not merely by the south-wind, which דָּרוּם could not signify, but by the united influence of the solar heat and the torrid winds. So correctly Bolducius, Ewald, Stickel, Hahn, Delitz., Dillmann [Carey, and, though less decidedly, Wordsworth], except that some of these commentators (Ewald, Dillmann), inappropriately find an ironical meaning in the words [conveyed to some extent also by Carey’s paraphrase—“You, Job, can readily enough feel the changes of the weather, but you cannot give any explanation of them.” The rendering, “How (i. e., dost thou know how) thy garments are warm, when, etc.”, is certainly insipid enough. In favor of the rendering adopted above see further on Job 27:18. The rendering of b with E. V., “when He quieteth (Conant, ‘lulls’) the earth by the south-wind,” is admissible, although on account of the absence of the suffix after הַשְׁקִט the subject is more probably ארץ, with the verb in the intransitive sense—to be tranquil, or rather in Hiph. to enjoy tranquillity, to find rest. The appropriateness of the language of this verse as descriptive of summer heat will appear from the following extract from Thomson’s Land and the Book (Vol. II., p. 312): “The sirocco to-day is of the quiet kind, and they are often more over-powering than the others. I encountered one a year ago on my way from Lydd to Jerusalem. Just such clouds covered the sky, collecting, as these are doing, into darker groups about the tops of the mountains, and a stranger to the country would have expected rain. Pale lightnings played through the air like forked tongues of burnished steel, but there was no thunder and no wind. The heat however became intolerable, and I escaped from the burning highway into a dark-vaulted room at the lower Bethhoron. I then fully understood what Isaiah (Job 25:5), meant when he said, Thou shalt bring down the noise of the strangers as the heat in a dry place, as the heat with the shadow of a cloud—that is, as such heat brings down the noise, and makes the earth quiet—a figure used by Job (Job 37:17) when he says, Thy garments are warm when he quieteth the earth by the south wind. We can testify that the garments are not only warm, but hot. This sensation of dry hot clothes is only experienced during the siroccos, and on such a day, too, one understands the other effects mentioned by the prophet, bringing down the noise, and quieting the earth. There is no living thing abroad to make a noise. The birds hide in thickest shades, the fowls pant under the walls with open mouth and drooping wings, the flocks and herds take shelter in caves and under great rocks, the laborers retire from the fields, and close the windows and doors of their houses, and travelers hasten, as I did, to take shelter in the first cool place they can find. No one has energy enough to make a noise, and the very air is too weak and languid to stir the pendent leaves even of the tall poplars.”—E.]
Job 27:18. Dost thou with him arch over the sky?i. e., dost thou with Him give its vaulting or out-spanning (Genesis 1:7 sq.) to the firmament of clouds (שְׁחָקִים here essentially as in Job 35:5), which is firm as a molten mirror?רְאִי “mirror,” the same as מַרְאָה in Exodus 38:8. מוּצָק, Partic. Hoph. from יצק (Job 11:15), indicating the preparation of the mirror from molten and polished metal. With this representation of the heavenly firmament (רָקִיעַ, στερέωμα), as constituting a smooth, shining, and solid mirror, may be compared, as most nearly resembling it, the representation of it as transparent sapphire (Exodus 24:10), or, more remotely, as a curtain (Psalms 104:2) or gauze (Isaiah 40:22) or a veil (Psalms 102:27 ). [It should be observed that the description here given of the skies is especially appropriate to the dazzling brilliancy of the oriental sky in summer, whence the well-known comparison of the sky in a season of heat and drought to “brass.” It will thus be seen that those two verses, (17 and 18) are in logical connection. Thou who art subject to the influences of the seasons, whose garments are hot in summer, when the earth becomes still from the South, canst thou claim to be associated with Him who spread on high yon blazing canopy, solid and burnished as a molten mirror? the comparison being with the molten metal used as mirrors.—E.]
Job 27:19. Teach us what we shall say to Him, the mighty Author and Preserver of this magnificent world-structure?—what we shall say to Him, that is, when we would argue with Him. We can set forth nothing (lit. “we cannot—לֹא—set forth,” scil. מִלִּים) by reason of darkness, i. e., because of the darkness of our understanding; comp. Ecclesiastes 2:14; Isaiah 60:2. In respect to מִפְּנֵי, præ, propter, comp. Job 23:17.
Job 27:20. Shall it be told Him (יְסֻפַּר, optative) that I would speak?—[“Greatly increased vividness is imparted to the discourse by this sudden transition from the first person plural to the first singular, as though Elihu would realize on the instant, in his own person, all that was fearful in that which he assumes.” Schlottmann].—Or did ever a man wish to be destroyed? lit., “did he say, that he would be (might become) destroyed?” (comp. Job 34:31). This question has for its basis something like the well-known Old Testament idea that “no man could see God and, live.” See Exodus 19:21; Exodus 33:20; comp. Genesis 32:30; Judges 6:22 seq.; Job 13:22.
Job 27:21 seq. refers again to the storm which during the whole discourse is visible in the heavens, not however with the purpose merely to point it out or describe it, but to use the spectacle which the storm at the moment presents as a symbol of Job’s condition and relation to God at the time.
Job 27:21. And now indeed one sees not the light, which is gleaming brightly (בָּהִיר only here) in the clouds;i. e., which notwithstanding the clouds that veil it, or, which behind the clouds shines with its customary brilliancy. But a wind passeth by and cleareth them away (dispels these clouds, so that it becomes quite clear again). The meaning of the passage can be only this—that “the God who is hidden only for a time, respecting whom one runs the risk of being in perplexity, can suddenly unveil Himself to our surprise and confusion, and that therefore it becomes us to how humbly and quietly to His present mysterious visitation” (Delitzsch). To reject this thought, which is so clear, and so strikingly in harmony with the connection, and to substitute for it the other and much more artificial thought—“But now one cannot look upon the sunlight, while it shines clearly in the bright clouds, inasmuch as the wind has passed over it, and cleansed it of all obscurity” (Ros., Hirz., Ew., Dillm., [Schlottmann, Noyes, Conant, Lee, Carey, Wordsworth, Rodwell, Elzas] etc.),—is not to assist but to obscure the comprehension of the passage. [The explanation of Delitzsch, adopted by our Commy. does not seem quite as clear as Zöckler represents it. שְׁחָקִים is used by Elihu in two senses: (1) in Job 36:28 of the rain-clouds; (2) in Job 37:18 of the sky, or firmament. Delitzsch takes it more in the latter sense here, translating: “the sunlight that is bright in the etherial heights.” This interpretation however is forbidden by the ותטהרם of c. It cannot be said that the wind clears the etherial heights. The suffix evidently shows that the “skies” here spoken of include the lower region of clouds. Moreover the explanation itself requires that somewhere in the verse mention should be made of the lower clouds, which for a time hide the light. But if שְׁחָקִים must include these clouds, which are blown away by the wind, Del.’s explanation becomes inconsistent with the preposition בְּ, which certainly cannot mean, according to Zöckler’s suggestion, “behind the clouds,” or above them. Moreover, as Dillmann justly objects, the aspect in which God is about to be presented is not that of One who, having been hidden for a time suddenly reveals Himself, but rather that of One whose majesty is too terrible for contemplation, and whose greatness is unsearchable. To which add that this is also the prominent thought in the verse just preceding (Job 27:20);—God is so great that to approach Him is to risk annihilation. With this thought the other rendering stands in better connection, so that the whole train of thought from Job 27:20 on may be freely rendered as follows:—Shall it be announced to Him, the Eternal King, awful in glory, that I would speak to Him? Shall I utter the desire to be ushered unto His presence, whom to see is to perish? Even now men cannot look on the light—the symbol of His glory—as it blazes there in the skies, over which the wind has passed, clearing them up; … much less can they gaze on His terrible majesty! Elihu seems to speak with a presentiment of the approaching presence of God.—E.].
Job 27:22 continues the description in ver 21c of that which follows the obscuration of the sun by thunder-clouds: From the north comes forth the golden brightness;—around Eloah (hovers) the sublimest splendor.—These words are referred by most modern commentators (following the Vulg.: ab aquilone aurum venit) to the metal gold, which comes out of the lands lying to the north (in favor of which they appeal to Herodotus, III., 116; Pliny, Hist. Nat., VI., 11; XXXIII., 4), and which accordingly, even if hard to obtain, is nevertheless at all times accessible to men, whereas God’s majesty remains forever unapproachable to them. But whether in this view we find the tertium comparationis to be the remoteness of the northern lands (Ewald, Hirzel, Vaihinger, Welte) [Schlottmann, Lee, Conant, Dillmann], or the mysterious obscurity which veils them (Stickel, Hahn, Delitzsch), the comparison would after all have something frigid about it, would be but ill suited to the present passage, and would agree but poorly with the other intimations of the Old Testament touching commercial geography, which locate the principal mines of gold towards the south rather; comp. Job 22:24; Job 28:1; Job 28:6; Job 28:16. The correct rendering has already been indicated by the LXX., who translate זָהָב by νέφη χρυσαυγοῦντα, following which Luther in a marginal gloss explained the term to mean “fair weather like pure gold” [and so E. V.]; and similarly Brentius, Cocceius, Starke, Rosenmüller, Umbreit, Arnheim, and Böttcher (Aehrenl., p. 76), [Noyes, Bernard, Barnes, Good, Wemyss, Carey, Rodwell, Elzas, Renan], but with the subordinate variation among themselves, that some of them explain the זָחָב of the clear sunlight breaking forth (Cocceius, etc., Umbreit), others of the golden-shining clouds, as the covering of Jehovah appearing in the storm. The latter modification of this meteorological application of the word, in favor of which may be cited that other figurative rendering of the word “gold” which we find in Zechariah 4:12, where gold is used for “pure oil “—must in any case be preferred, because the sun itself could not be described as coming מִצָּפוֹן, and because the explanation of this מִצָּפוֹן as meaning “by means of the north-wind,” is altogether too precarious, and equally at variance with usage as Umbreit’s translation—“from heaven.” The parallel passages produced by Schultens out of Arabic poets, in favor of the comparison of the sunlight with gold, as likewise the Latin expressions aurea lux, aureus sol, are however none the less pertinent for illustration (comp. “the golden sunlight” with us), for it still remains true that the sun is the source of the golden splendor, with which a portion of the thunder-clouds is wont to shine forth, when the storm breaks up, and the clouds begin to retire (comp. Brentius below in the Homiletic Remarks on the passage). Moreover according to this explanation the first member of the verse stands to the second in the relation of comparison and preparation. From the north, when the winds scatter the storm (in the direction of the south) there burst forth clouds of light shining with the brilliancy of gold, an emblem of the incomparable majesty and splendor (נוֹרָא הוֹד comp. Psalms 104:1) of the light in which God is clothed. There is no reference to the ancient mythological conception of God’s dwelling-place being in the north (such as Böttcher attributes to the passage), nor to Ezekiel’s description of the chariot of cherubim as coming from the north. There may possibly have been certain meteorological causes of a local character, to ascertain which with certainty is beyond our power, which determined the poet to the choice of the expression מִצָּפוֹן, which in any case has about it something singular, susceptible only of imperfect explanation, whether זהב be understood in a mineralogical, or a meteorological sense.
Job 27:23, 24 conclude the entire meditation on God’s incomprehensibly great and wonderful operations.
Job 27:23. The Almighty—we find Him not.—He ever remains for us One who is beyond our reach, both as regards the perception of our senses and of our minds (comp. ch, Job 23:3), one φῶς οἰκῶν ) 1 Timothy 6:17). [Who is great in power], but right and the fulness of justice (רָב־צְדָקָה, as in Job 33:19) He perverts not—i. e., with all His incomprehensibleness He still continues ever righteous in His dealings—a proposition which brings the discourse back to its starting-point (Job 36:5). The phrase עִנַּה משפט וצד׳ instead of הִטָּה ונו׳, which is usual elsewhere, belongs to the Aramaizing idioms of the discourses of Elihu (comp. the Talmudic עִנָּה דִּין; its nonoccurrence elsewhere however does not necessitate that, in disregard of the Masoretic accents, we should connect ומשפט ורב־צדקה with שׂגיא in b, in which case the objectless clause לֹא יְעַנֶּה will have to be rendered either—“He does not exercise oppression” (Umbreit, Schlottmann, Kamphausen) [E. V. (“He will not afflict”), Noyes, Conant, Barnes, Bernard, Elzas, Wordsworth, Good—who makes ורב־צ׳ subj.], or as a relative clause—“which He doth not oppress” (Stickel), or after the reading לֹאיַעֲנֶה, “He answereth not, giveth no account of Himself” (LXX., Peshito, Rosenmüller, Hirzel, Vaihinger) [Lee, Carey, Renan, Rodwell]. The explanation of Hahn would seem more natural—“As regards right and the fulness of justice He doth therein no wrong.”
Job 27:24. Therefore do men fear Him—i. e., men of the right sort, men as they should be, who live in accordance with the precepts of true wisdom (Job 28:28). The optative rendering of the Perf. (Umbr., Vaihinger, Stickel, Heiligstedt [Good, Lee, Noyes, Carey, Renan, Rodwell], etc.) is as unnecessary as the Imperative—“fear Him” is inadmissible, which would have been written יִרְאוּהוּ instead יְרֵאוּהוּ (against Arnheim, Hahn). On the contrary the Perf. is used here as in Job 36:24-25, to denote a public, universally recognized fact of experience. He doth not look on those who are wise in their own conceit.—כָּל־הַכְמֵי־לֵב lit. “all the wise of heart,” i. e., those who on the ground of their own heart (instead of on the ground of the fear of God) hold themselves to be wise, omnes qui sibi videntur esse sapientes (Vulg.). The censorious element of the expression does not lie strictly in לֵב (comp. Job 9:4; Proverbs 11:29; Proverbs 16:21), but only in the contrast to the notion of the fear of God expressed in a. “Not to look on” any one is, according to Job 35:13 b, to deem him worthy of no notice; of no gracious well-wishing in his behalf.. The subject of this verb can be only God; if the conceited were subj., and God the object (Vulg., Rosenmüller, Stickel) [Bernard, Carey] instead of יִרְאֶה the text would read rather ירְאֶנּוּ. An. uncalled-for “disparagement of Job” (Dillmn), by no means lies in this closing sentence of Elihu’s discourses, but simply a final admonition dissuading him from those presumptuous judgments respecting God, and those presumptuous speeches against God, against which the polemic edge of these discourses had been principally turned, and that with entire justice. [“This is the sum of all that Elihu had to say—that God was original and independent; that He did not ask counsel of men in His dealings; that He was great and glorious, and inscrutable in His plans; and that men therefore should bow before Him with profound submission and adoration. … Having illustrated and enforced this sentiment, Elihu, overwhelmed with the awful symbols of the approaching Deity is silent, and God is introduced to close the controversy.” Barnes].
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
The prejudice of modern critics against the contents and significance of Elihu’s discourses in general has in many instances betrayed them into judgments immoderately harsh even in respect to this, the last and most glorious of the series. Dillmann, e. g., gives it as his opinion that “if the first part of this long discourse groups together the principal thoughts of Elihu, the second travels a path which the friends have already attempted (e. g., in Job 5., Job 5:11., Job 5:25.); and in the remainder of it is evidently based on passages of the discourses of God in chap. 38, seq., the individual beauties of which in their contents and application are thereby in part anticipated. Forasmuch as Dillmann, as appears from his previous discussions, recognizes at the same time in these “principal thoughts of Elihu grouped together in the first part,” little or nothing that is original, this opinion of his is as disparaging, not to say contemptuous, as it can well be. Elihu is thereby even in respect to the contents of this his final discourse, reduced to the position of a mere compiler, destitute of independence, who borrows the ideas and beauties of others, and without remarkable skill seeks to elaborate them for his own purpose. We believe that the detailed exegesis which we have given above, and particularly of this same fourth discourse, in which the point under consideration has claimed thorough examination and treatment from us, makes it unnecessary for us now to undertake a special refutation of this and similar objections. We believe that we have shown in respect to the reflections, predominantly ethical and theological, contained in the first part (Job 36:5-21), that they repeatedly set forth indeed the fundamental thought of these discourses, to wit, the idea of a remedial purifying and chastening influence of divinely ordained suffering on the pious; that they do this however in a way more impressive and soul-thrilling than any previous portion of the whole book; and that in particular the closing verses of this division (Job 36:16-21) contain statements in respect to God’s loving treatment in “alluring out of the jaws of distress,” in respect to the danger of allowing oneself to be led away from God by the “heat” of suffering, and the greatness of the “ransom” to be paid by means of it, in respect to the insufficiency of our own strivings and conflicts and prayers for procuring salvation, in respect to the natural tendency of the heart to do and to utter vanity rather than to suffer patiently, such as occur in the like combination nowhere in the Old Testament, and such as belong in truth to the profoundest utterances which the revealed literature of the Old Testament has produced in the attempt to solve the mystery of affliction before the coming of Christ.
In respect to the Second Part, however, we believe that we have shown:
(1) That the reflections in the sphere of physical theology therein contained, so far from deserving the reproach of lacking originality, form on the contrary a glorification of the majesty of God revealed in nature, which is most harmoniously adjusted in all its parts from beginning to end, poetically lofty and unique of its kind.
(2) That in particular the description of the terrors and beauties of the storm, exhibiting as it does in masterly combination beauties of its own, deserves to be placed beside the most elevated passages of the sort which the Old Testament literature has produced (e. g., Psalms 18:0. Psalms 29:0. etc.), or even surpasses them.
(3) That the independence of the description, as compared with the contents—similar in part—of Jehovah’s discourse in Job 38:0. seq., is vindicated by the fact that its character is almost exclusively meteorological, being limited to the atmospheric phenomena of heat and moisture, and that its objects accordingly coincide only to a limited extent with those of the discourses which follow.
(4) That the supposition—which forces itself upon us with a necessity from which there is no escape—that the magnificent description here given is continued throughout by the sight of an actual storm in the heavens, accompanied by an abundance of the phenomena of thunder and lightning, furnishes a still further and a weighty contribution to the evidence in favor of the originality of the section in relation to what follows.
(5) That, finally, the suggestive conclusion of the whole, where the natural phenomena immediately contemplated are symbolically referred—and that no less naturally than impressively—to God’s mysterious operations in respect to Job, prepares the way for the final decisive solution of the whole problem (see especially Job 37:21 seq.). The way in which this result is secured banishes the last remnant of doubt touching the genuineness of this section, while at the same time it serves to corroborate the view of this whole Elihu-episode as an essential part of the poet’s own artistic plan, and as having a close organic connection with Job 38:0. seq. In short we believe that we have shown that the descriptions of nature in the discourse before us may be ranked with the best and most original portions of Holy Scripture of that class. We believe that such a man as Alexander von Humboldt showed neither poor taste nor defective judgment in æsthetic criticism, when in the Second Part of his Cosmos (Vol. II., p. 414, Bohn’s Scientific Library) he writes with reference to this very passage: “Similar views of the Cosmos occur repeatedly in the Psalms (Psalms 65:7 seq.; Psalms 74:15 seq.), and most fully perhaps in the 37th chapter of the ancient, if not ante-Mosaic Book of Job. The meteorological processes which take place in the atmosphere, the formation and solution of vapor, according to the changing direction of the wind, the play of its colors, the generation of hail and of the rolling thunder are described with individualizing accuracy; and many questions are propounded which we in the present state of our physical knowledge may indeed be able to express under more scientific definitions, but scarcely to answer satisfactorily. The book of Job is generally regarded as the most perfect specimen of the poetry of the Hebrews,” etc.
2. We are constrained to make an observation in opposition to Delitzsch respecting the anthropological, ethical, and soteriological representations of the First Part (and indeed of the whole discourse, for the same representations appear also in the Second Part towards the end; see Job 37:12 seq., Job 37:19 seq.). When this commentator, who is so highly esteemed on account of his exegesis of this book, maintains (II., p. 307 seq.) that Elihu, as in his discourses generally, so in this final discourse particularly, “takes up a position apart from the rest of the book, in so far as he makes Job’s sin the cause of his affliction; while in the idea of the rest of the book Job’s affliction has nothing whatever to do with Job’s sin, except in so far as he allows himself to be drawn into sinful language concerning God by the conflict of temptation into which the affliction plunges him”—we believe that we must reject as a one-sided representation this way of characterizing the distinction between the solution of the great mystery of suffering given by Elihu and that given by God, or taught by the whole poem. We must also charge with one-sidedness the statement which follows in immediate connection with this, that it is only the assumed “older poet” (i. e., the author of the poem as a whole omitting Elihu’s discourses), and not Elihu, who discusses as his theme the mystery of affliction, because it is the former only who exhibits Job as suffering wholly without guilt, or even ἐ̓̔νεκεν ἑικαιοσύνης, whereas Elihu “leaves sin and suffering together as inseparable, and opposes the false doctrine of retribution by the distinction between disciplinary chastisement and judicial retribution. We must be permitted to doubt whether on Old Testament grounds a suffering purely on account of righteousness (which under the New Testament would be suffering purely on account of Christ, the genuine suffering of martyrdom) could have been anywhere conceived of, much less set forth with poetic elaboration. For the “evil thought and imagination of man’s heart from his youth,” together with the “secret faults” without number, and the “errors which cannot be understood”—all this was rooted too firmly and deeply in the consciousness of every thinker within the circle of the Old Testament revelation to admit of the possibility of separating oneself in any measure from this all-embracing sinfulness and guilt which attaches to all who belong to our race. Moreover the actual issue of the action of the poem in Job 42:0. shows clearly enough that the idea that “Job’s suffering had nothing whatever to do with Job’s sin,” was not that of the poet. That for which Job is there obliged to repent in dust and ashes is not simply his sinful speaking against God, but beyond question the root, which lay still deeper, of these individual sinful outbreaks—the remainder of un-expiated sin, of inward impurity, not yet wholly removed by purification, from which he suffered, and the presence of which he had repeatedly acknowledged. The mission of Elihu, as appears with pre-eminent clearness from this last discourse of his, is none other than to prove the inseparable connection between those criminal utterances of the sorely-tried sufferer and their deeper ground in the moral nature, and at the same time to prove the unavoidable necessity of suffering for purification, even for the man who is comparatively righteous. In other words Elihu sets forth the educational and remedial value of the afflictions ordained by God for every one who is visited by them, even for him who appears to be most innocent. The course of his discussion also rests on the doctrine of affliction, only that he affirms more urgently and emphasizes more strongly the necessity of suffering for all grounded in the sinfulness of all that is done by the discourses of Jehovah. These rather lay the chief emphasis on the unfathomableness of the divine purpose in decreeing suffering, as also, in close connection with this, on the object of suffering, which is to cultivate and to confirm the obedience, humility and truth of the pious. In short, that which Elihu seeks to demonstrate is that the significance of Job’s suffering is predominantly that of chastisement and purification; that to which the conclusion of the whole poem points on the contrary is that its significance is predominantly that of probation. There is no absolute contrast, but essentially only a difference of degree between the solution of this problem which Elihu propounds, and the final decision of Jehovah. The former contemplates the affliction laid by God on the pious more with reference to its final and supreme purpose of salvation, or which is the same thing—the former undertakes the solution of the problem from a soteriological stand-point which is in part as yet that of the law, the latter from one that decisively approximates that of the New Testament. Comp. above, Introd. § 10, ad 8.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
In a homiletic respect both divisions of the discourse, the anthropological-ethical and the physico-theological, present, much that is instructive and stimulating. It will be one chief aim of the practical expositor to exhibit vividly and with proper care the reciprocal influence of both elements in treating of such passages as Job 36:5; Job 36:16; Job 36:22 seq.; Job 37:5; Job 37:12 seq., Job 37:19 seq., Job 37:22 seq.
Job 36:5 seq. Zeltner: Although God is the Most Mighty One, His wisdom and goodness do not permit that He should reject and condemn any one without cause, by virtue of a bare unconditional decree. His righteousness vindicates itself alike with the evil and the pious. And although in the case of the pious appearances indicate that He has forsaken them, the hour never fails to come at last when He brings forth their cause, and establishes their right, so that they behold with pleasure His grace.—v. Gerlach: Whereas Elihu has previously set forth the retribution of God’s righteousness, which without fail overtakes the wicked, so now he here sets forth His gracious fatherly guidance of His servants. He does not cast them off at once on account of their missteps, for He is also “mighty in strength of heart,” i. e., His wisdom penetrates all things; He knows therefore how by wondrous ways to lead them to the right goal.
Job 36:8 seq. Brentius: If kings or princes, whether in liberty or in captivity and chains, will not despise the instruction of the Lord, but will rather submit to Him when He admonishes them of those things which are right, and chastises them by affliction, and repent of their wickedness, then shall they find the Lord favorable to them, and ready to forgive whatever iniquities they had before committed. … Of this you have an example in Manasseh.—V. Andreae: If in the present condition of things in the world the pious must at times languish in misery, this is in order that they may persistently endure in the right way, which conducts them to that blessed goal. He who rebels against these divine methods of treatment, will thereby only forfeit the blessing which is ever consequent upon such suffering.
Job 36:22. Oecolampadius: The invisible things of God indeed are known from those things which are seen, but all the knowledge which is attainable to us now is imperfect. We see afar off, and in darkness, and through a glass, having a better knowledge of what God is not than of what He is. We are not able to search out His judgments, but we know Him to be the Most High, and the Incomprehensible One. However much accordingly philosophers may dispute about the way in which snow, rain, lightning, thunderbolts are produced, they are nevertheless wholly ignorant by what decree of God they are brought into being. It is otherwise however that our theologian [Elihu] discourses concerning the secrets of nature. He does it in order that in them the righteousness of God may be observed, showing kindness to some, afflicting others. But by God’s appointment all things are ordered for good to those who are good, at the same time that all creatures work evil to those who are evil. Andreae: The same storm which on the one side is sent upon the lands for punishment and destruction is at the same time appointed on the other side to bless them abundantly, and to make them fruitful. Thus even the severest judgments of God are ever to be regarded as at the same time a source out of which divine grace distils forth.
Job 37:1 seq. Cramer: Thunder, lightning, and storms, are to be our open-air preachers, and preachers of repentance.—They are God’s regalia, and emblems of His divine majesty.—Starke: When God thunders, He, as it were, speaks to us in wrath (Exodus 20:19). God would have us recognize Him even out of the storm, and all the more at such a time pray to Him and fear Him as the true God. … In a heavy thunder-storm every one should humble himself before God, and cry to Him, beseeching Him to take us and ours into His gracious protection..—Wohlfarth: Although we ho longer, like the ancients, find a sign of the personal and visible nearness of God in the fearfully beautiful natural phenomenon of a storm, but would fain explain this (completely?) by the laws of nature, it declares to us nevertheless the God of power, wisdom, and goodness, and disposes us to the worship of Him, who gave to nature her laws. … If by its terrors the storm first of all declares to us God’s majesty, and with earnest warning points us to the day of judgment, when mighty princes will tremble like the least of their subjects, it at the same time declares to us the wisdom and goodness of the Most High.2
Job 37:16 seq. Weim. Bibel: God’s works and wonders, which lie in nature and which come to pass daily, are rightly perceived and learned only by believers, for it is they who by the contemplation of such works are aroused to give praise to God.—Cocceius: If in other matters, which happen every day, man is not summoned by God to act as His umpire and counsellor, and if no one can demand that this should be done, nor presume to murmur against such an arrangement, it is just that man should not require of God that the reason of the divine administration in this world should in like manner be made known to him, but that he should acquiesce in it whether he understands it or not, that he should trust God’s word, and in patience await His blessing.
Job 37:21 seq. Brentius: The true light, which is God, cannot be seen, neither does it present itself to eyes of flesh. We see indeed a certain splendor of the clouds, we see the light of the sun, when the clouds are scattered by the winds, we see also gold coming from the North; i. e., we see the clouds, resplendent as with gold, and bright serenity, proceeding from the North. All these are spectacles from which the pious mind rises to the praise of the great and terrible God; and as the heavens declare the glory of God, so men from the divine works may recognize and glorify the true God.—Umbreit: The comparison here given is incomplete, but may easily be understood, and may be more particularly set forth thus: As the sunlight, when it suddenly bursts forth from behind a thick veil of clouds, dazzles and blinds men’s eyes, so also Would the hidden majesty of God, if once it were revealed in all its glory to mortal man, veil his vision with darkness.
From the cloud the blessing springeth,
Rain it bringeth;
From the cloud unasked the beam
Doth quivering gleam.
There is much on these points of practical utility accompanied indeed by much which scientifically considered is untenable, absurd, and curious, in the older works on Natural Theology, by Scheuchzer (Physica Sacra, I., c, 12), Schmidt (Bibl. Physicus, p. 112 seq.), J. A. Fabricius (Pyrotheologie, oder anweisung zur Erkuntniss Gottes aus Betrachtung des Feuers, as an Appendix to will. Derham’s Astrotheologie, etc., Hamburg, 1765); P. P. Ahlwardt, (Brontotheologia; Betrachtungen über Blitz und Donner, Gresswald, 1745), etc.
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Job 36". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19