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Job 2:4. “Skin for skin; yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.” The expression “skin for skin” acknowledged to be a proverbial one. Its precise meaning not so obvious, though its general drift, as used by the Evil One, is sufficiently apparent. The Septuagint and Vulgate translate as we do; the one rendering the preposition by ὑπερ, and the other by pro. The Chaldaic has: “Member for member.” So BERNARD, who renders the words: “Limb for limb.” Martin’s French Version has: “Every one will give skin for skin.” Some, as PARKHURST and WEMYSS, render the phrase: “Skin after skin.” Others, as PINEDA and TIRINUS: “Skin upon skin,” i.e., all skins; or, according to POOLE, all outward things. YOUNG translates: “A skin for a skin.” The meanings thus reducible to four:—
1. The skin of another for one’s own skin. So VATABLUS, TIRINUS, SEB. SCHMIDT, MAIER. “Skin,” in this view, is regarded by some as equivalent to “body,” as in chap. Job 16:15; Job 18:13; Job 19:26; like Horace’s “Pelliculam curare jubet.” So ROSENMOLLER and HUFNAGEL. By others it is viewed as equivalent to “life:” what a man holds as dear to him as his skin, i.e., his life, he will give to save his life. So GESENIUS and HUPFELDT, after ORIGEN who says: “A man will give a skin, which is sold for money, to save his own skin, i.e., his life.” Others: Job will give the skin of his cattle, even that of his children, to save his own. So GREGORY, EPHREM SYRUS, MERCER, PISCATOR, DRUSIUS, NOYES, &C. Like that of Terence: “Proximus sum egomet mihi.” In this view, the proverb is explained by what follows.
2. Like for like; i.e., any one gives that; men part with anything for a full equivalent. So CODURCUS, HIRZEL, CONANT: Equivalent for equivalent. MAURER: Job may well give up the rest to keep his life. FAUSSET: One thing for another. EWALD: All is subject to barter. UMBREIT: One article is given for another; but life is dearest to all: Job is satisfied so long as he is not obliged to give up that. CODURCUS: The origin of the proverb in the general practice of barter, or in the use of animals instead of men in sacrifice. POOLE: Skins or spoils of beasts in early ages the most valuable property men could acquire; hence became the chief representative of property. GOOD and BOOTHROYD: “Skin” an equivalent for riches, furniture, &c. PINEDA and SCHULTENS: In the expression “skin for skin,” GOOD thinks the word issued in two different senses,—property is given for life. COBBIN remarks that probably ransoms used also to be paid in skins. CAREY sees in the proverb a sort of reductio ad absurdum: a man will not part with his skin unless you supply him with another; on no terms will he part with his life: hence Job, to save his life, will part with his religion.
3. Limb for limb; or, one thing parted with to save the rest: a less noble member will be given up for a nobler one, as an arm for a head. So MENOCHIUS, MUNSTER, A. CLARKE, &C. The view of some of the fathers: a man will put up his hand to ward off a blow from his eye. So GREGORY, OLYMPIODORUS. Dr. LEE: Men willingly give up a worse thing for a better: hence, much more will a man give up all he has for his life. COCCEIUS: Job can easily afford to part with all while he keeps his life,—his possessions being as it were a skin or covering to his person to protect and warm him: the one of them—the less valuable—he easily lets go to keep the other. So SCHLOTTMANN, DELITZSCH, and ZÖCKLER in Lange, who regards the life to be preserved as not so much the animal or life-function, as the soul which causes and conditions it.
4. Skin upon skin. So Dr. THOMASS, in The Homilist: “like—sovereign after sovereign; all the sovereigns a man has,” &c.; “skin,” equivalent to property; life dearer than all. Job willing to have skin upon skin taken from him to save his life. SCHULTENS remarks that the Arabs call possessions the outer skin—friends and relations the inner one. According to OLSHAUSEN, the meaning is: So long as thou dost sot touch his person, he will not attack thee. COLEMAN thinks an allusion is made to the terrific skin-disease with which Satan purposed to afflict Job. CONANT regards the rendering of the copula vaw before “all” by “yea,” as embarrassing the sense, by anticipating the reader’s judgment of the relation of the two clauses, and proposes to read it as usual: “And all that a man hath,” &c. UMBREIT, and after him FAUSSET, would put “skin” and “life” in the two clauses in antithesis to each other, and render the copula “but.” So DE WETTE: People give up other things; but they take care of their life—the highest value put upon that. According to BARNES, the idea is: If Job was so afflicted as to have his life endangered, he would give up his religion to save it.
SIXTH PART OF INTRODUCTION.—PREPARATION FOR JOB’S FURTHER TRIAL
I. Second Celestial Council (Job 2:1). “Again there was a day,” some time after the events already related. Not said how long. Heavenly things represented under the figure of earthly ones, in condescension to our capacity. In heaven no succession of day and night (Revelation 21:25).—“The sons of God came,” &c. Same scene represented as before. God’s providence continually exercised, and extending to all times and events. His angelic ministers continually serving Him in their respective spheres (Revelation 22:3). “His state is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed,” &c. Good to remember—“They also serve who only stand and wait.” Angels intensely interested in the salvation of men, and employed in helping to promote it (Acts 8:26; Acts 10:3).—“Satan also came.” Summoned, or expecting a fresh permission. Like Saul of Tarsus, “breathing out threatening and slaughter,” and eager to get out a fresh commission of destruction (Acts 9:1).—“To present himself before the Lord,” having previously received a commission. This, therefore, omitted in the former account. Men, angels, and devils, amenable to God.
II. God’s testimony to Job’s steadfastness (Job 2:2). “From whence comest thou?” Happy for us that God’s eye is continually on Satan’s movements (Luke 22:31-42.22.32).—“From going to and fro.” Active and restless as ever. Says nothing of the harm he has done. An evil doer seldom has the courage to speak the whole truth (2 Kings 5:25).—“Walking up and down in it.” God says the same thing of him, but tells us how (1 Peter 5:8). As Job still retained his integrity, so Satan his assiduity. Believers neither to be ignorant of his devices, nor forgetful of his zeal.—(Job 2:3). “Hast thou considered my servant Job?” Job still God’s servant. God’s estimate of His people not diminished by their sufferings. Precious testimony to the poor persecuted church at Smyrna (Revelation 2:9)—. “Still holdeth fast his integrity.” Perfect and upright as before. “Still,” notwithstanding these severe and accumulated trials. “Holdeth fast,” implying exertion. Hard to hold out in such a storm. Satan’s efforts to rob Job of his integrity, Job’s to retain it. Whatever a godly man loses he will keep his integrity. “If you love my soul away with it,” said a martyr at the stake, when tempted with a pardon to recant. Two things never to be let go—Christ’s righteousness, and a good conscience. The Epistle to the Hebrews written to strengthen tried believers to hold fast their profession (Hebrews 3:14; Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 10:23; Hebrews 10:35; Hebrews 10:39). God a concerned and compassionate observer of his people’s conduct under trials (Jeremiah 31:18; Hosea 14:8). Commends their conduct in them, without at once delivering them from them. What is well done is sure, sooner or later, to receive His approving testimony. God neither conceals our graces nor our improvement of them. To continue good while suffering evil, the crown of goodness. A good man persevering in evil times an object of Divine admiration [Seneca].—God’s further commendation of Job now enlarged. Grace grows in conflict. “Although thou movedst me against him.” Implies successful urgency (So 1 Kings 21:25). Spoken after the manner of men. Satan an excellent orator if he but have an audience [Trapp].—“Thou movedst me.” God “afflicteth not willingly” (Lamentations 3:33). Satan an earnest pleader against the saints: Christ as earnest for them (John 17:11; John 17:15; John 17:17). Satan’s malice and calumny the occasion of Job’s sufferings, and so of his subsequent glory. God’s secret purpose to exhibit the reality and preciousness of His servant’s faith. All questioning of the efficacy of Christ’s redemption and the power of Divine grace, to be for ever silenced. Not only events themselves purposed by God, but the way and occasion of their occurrence.—“To destroy him,” Marg., “to swallow him up.” Satan’s cruel intention. Satan’s object in trial is to destroy; God’s, to prove and purify. God’s sympathy with His suffering people. What Satan called a touch, God calls destruction. Awful judgment to be left in the hands of the roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8).—“Without cause.”
(1.) Without any special sin of his to merit it. This testimony to be remembered throughout the book. Believed and maintained by Job; denied by his three friends. The cause of his perplexity and distraction aggravated by their opposition. Tried believers often ignorant of God’s thoughts concerning them, and of the cause and object of their trial.—
(2.) Without ground or necessity for it. Satan’s charge proved by the result to be unfounded.
III. Satan’s farther accusation (Job 2:4). “Satan answered the Lord.” Satanic impudence. Though defeated, he has still an answer for God. Boldness acquired by a course of iniquity. A whore’s forehead (Jeremiah 3:3).—“Skin for skin.” A proverbial expression. A mere question of barter. Job has yet a whole skin. He will part with anything to save his life. Will give up what he has, to save himself. “We must give up our beards to save our heads” [Turkish Proverb].—“All that a man bath he will give for his life.” Not only his property and children, but probably his religion too. The test not yet sufficiently severe. The screw needs only to be driven a little farther. Satan argues still on the principles of man’s selfishness. His words too often verified in fallen humanity. Peruvians sacrificed their firstborn to redeem their own life when the priest pronounced them mortally sick. Cranmer, in a moment of weakness, at first recanted in order to escape martyrdom. Abraham, when left to himself to save his life, gave up Sarah, and instigated her to tell a lie (Genesis 12:12-1.12.13). Yet the statement a libel upon the race. Satan true to his character. Self-preservation a powerful instinct, but not supreme. With a good man, subordinate to the principles of morality and religion. Yields to faith, hope, and charity. Paul counted not his life dear to him that he might finish his course and ministry with joy (Acts 20:24). Daniel, Stephen, and all “the noble army of martyrs” give Satan the lie. Men and women have died, “refusing to accept deliverance, to obtain a better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35). “Welcome, death!” said Hugh M‘Kail, on the martyr’s scaffold. “Welcome, if need be, the axe or the gibbet; but evil befall the tongue that dares to make me so infamous a proposal,” said Kossuth, in reply to the Sultan’s proposal to save his life by renouncing Christianity.—“Touch his bone and his flesh” (Job 2:5). Strike home at his person. Person nearer than property or children. Intensest pain and suffering intended. The iron to enter the soul. Satan’s cruelty. A merciless tormentor (Matthew 18:34). Unwearied in his efforts to destroy Always needful to prepare for new assaults. Satan acquainted with the tendency of great bodily suffering. Pain, a powerful means of disquieting and weakening the mind. Without disordering its faculties, able to exhaust its energies and sink it into despondency. A piercing shaft in Satan’s quiver. A thorn in the flesh Paul’s great temptation (2 Corinthians 12:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9). Men “blasphemed God because of the pain” (Revelation 16:9). This Satan’s expectation in regard to Job.—“He will curse thee,” &c. Same assertion as before. Satan unwilling to yield. Men, lost to all right principle themselves, have no faith in the virtue of others.
IV. The renewed permission (Job 2:6). “He is in thine hand.” Before, only his property and children; now, himself. Saints, for trial, mysteriously given for a time into Satan’s hand. The persecuted church at Smyrna (Revelation 2:10). Unknown to us how far bodily affliction may be from Satan’s hand (Luke 13:16). Though God lengthens Satan’s chain, he never loosens it. The saints never in Satan’s hand without Christ being with them (Daniel 3:25; Psalms 23:4; Psalms 91:15; Isaiah 43:2).—“But save his life.” Satan’s permission in regard to the saints always limited. He might scratch with his paw, but not fasten his fang [Trapp]. Job’s life to be endangered, but not destroyed. Life and death in God’s hand, not Satan’s. A mercy to have life spared (Jeremiah 39:18). Precious blessings still for Job to experience, and important work still for him to do. A man immortal till his work is done. The limit set in Job’s case, not prescribed in Christ’s. Christ, as the Shepherd, smitten to death in the room of the sheep (Zechariah 13:7; John 10:11).
Job 2:7. “Smote Job with sore boils.” The Septuagint and Vulgate, followed by MARTIN and DIODATI in their French and Italian versions, render the words which describe Job’s disease, “a bad or malignant ulcer.” The word שְׁחִין (shekheen) which we render “boils,” derived from a root not used in Hebrew, but appearing in the Arabic سَخَن (sakhana) to be hot, inflamed, fevered. Job’s disease, according to GESENIUS, NOYES, and others, a kind of black leprosy, formerly prevailing in Egypt (Deuteronomy 28:27); called Elephantiasis, from the skin being covered with black scales, and from the mouth, feet, and legs swelling enormously, while the body becomes emaciated. The disease not attended with great pain, but with much debility of the system, uneasiness, and mental depression. Both Pliny and Lucretius speak of it as a disease peculiar to Egypt; the former calling it, “Ægypti peculiare malum.” PISCATOR and CASTALIO render the singular noun collectively “ulcers;” as our English version, “boils.” MORUS renders it: An inflammation. VATABLUS: Pustules,—boils from heat, such as were inflicted on Egypt (Exodus 9:10), and threatened to Israel (Deuteronomy 28:27). GRYNŒUS, after SCHULCENS: An inflammation, of which the ulcers were the effect. ADAM CLARKE queries whether it was not the small-pox. GOOD makes it: Burning ulcerations,—the baras of the Arabs. WEMYSS: Foul ulcers. LEE: A burning disease. FRY: A sore ulcer. CAREY: A malignant ulceration,—the disease nearly proving fatal in the case of Hezekiah (Isaiah 38:1-23.38.21); in Job’s case, of a very virulent form. The Homilist: One universal inflammation. FAUSSET: A burning sore. CONANT, after EWALD, observes that the singular here has the effect of a collective. So HEILIGSTEDT: Malignant ulcers. ZÖCKLER, in Lange, regarding it as the Elephantiasis, speaks of it as the Arabian, or worst kind of leprosy; called also lepra nodosa, or tuberculosa, from the greatly swollen lumps, or boils, which give to the extremities the appearance of an elephant’s legs, whence its name. BARNES, after GOOD, calls it a universal ulcer, attended with violent pain and constant restlessness; named by the Arabs, gudham, and said to produce a grim, distorted, lion-like set of features, hence called Leoutiasis. CHRYSOSTOM observes that it made Job like Lazarus, but in a far worse condition. The Jewish doctors say that the disease, in Job’s case, lasted a whole year; while SUIDAS—we know not on what grounds—makes it to have continued seven.
SEVENTH PART OF INTRODUCTION; JOB’S FURTHER TRIAL
I. Satan’s use of God’s permission (Job 2:7).
“So went Satan forth.” Glad in obtaining his wish, like Saul on his way to Damascus. Resolved to use his liberty to the utmost. Gets his will, but with limitation (Luke 22:31-42.22.32).—“From the presence of the Lord.” Like Cain (Genesis 4-16). His object not to serve God, but torture man.—“Smote Job.” Implies suddenness and vehemence. The hand heavy, though unseen. So Herod smitten by the angel (Acts 12:23). Such smiting often ascribed to God, whoever the instrument (Deuteronomy 28:35). Satanic ingenuity in smiting the body yet preserving life and mental faculties. Piety and patience under one trial, no security against another and a heavier. Heavy burdens laid on strong shoulders. God knows the metal He gives Satan to ring [Trapp]. Our comfort is, that He lays no trial on His children beyond what He enables them to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).
II. Job’s Disease
“Sore boils.” Heb., a bad, malignant ulcer, or inflammatory ulceration. Worst kind of leprosy. Inflicted on the Egyptians and threatened to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 28:27). Prevalent both in Arabia and Egypt. Made the sufferer loathsome to himself and his nearest relations (ch. Job 19:13; Job 19:19). Appeared to make him out as an object of the Divine displeasure; as Miriam, Gehazi, and King Azariah. In an advanced stage, fingers, toes, and hands, gradually fall off (ch. Job 30:17; Job 30:30). Attended with great attenuation and debility of body (Job 16:8; Job 19:20; Job 30:18). Restless nights and terrifying dreams (Job 30:17; Job 7:13-18.7.14). Anxiety of mind and loathing of life (Job 7:15). Foul breath and difficult respiration (Job 7:4; Job 13:15; Job 30:17). The skin itchy, of great tenseness, full of cracks and rents, and covered with hard or festering ulcers, and with black scales (Job 2:8; Job 19:20; Job 30:18; Job 7:5; Job 30:30). The feet and legs swollen to an enormous size; hence the disease also called Elephantiasis. The mouth swollen and the countenance distorted, giving the patient a lion-like appearance; hence another name to the disease, Leontiasis. Contagious through the mere breath. Often hereditary. As a rule, incurable. In any case, one of the most protracted as well as dreadful diseases.—“From the crown,” &c. So in Deuteronomy 28:35. The body one continued sore. Job escaped with the skin of his teeth—sores everywhere else (Job 19:20). The tongue left free for an obvious reason. Satan’s mercies cruel. Rare spectacle for angels; the holiest man on earth the most afflicted. Astounding sight for men; the richest and greatest man in the land made at once the most loathsome and miserable. Impossible to say to what extent God may allow his dearest children to be afflicted. After Job, no saint need be staggered at his suffering. Yet all Job’s sufferings under Divine inspection and admeasurement (Isaiah 27:8).—A circumstance marking the extremity of Job’s affliction (Job 2:8). “And he took him a potsherd.” As near at hand. Arab jars thin and frail, and easily broken—sometimes by merely putting them down on-the floor. Hence fragments of broken jars found everywhere (Isaiah 30:14). A potsherd used by Job instead of a napkin. Possibly, however, an instrument still used in the East for similar purposes. Required to remove the purulent matter from his sores, and perhaps to allay their irritation. His hands and fingers themselves affected, or the foulness of his sores forbidding the touch. Without friend, physician, or relative to attend to his disease. In the case of Lazarus, dogs supplied the place of the potsherd (Luke 16:20-42.16.21). God’s dearest saints often reduced to the greatest extremities.—“Sat down among the ashes.” In token of mourning (Job 42:6; Jonah 3:6; Matthew 11:21); and of abasement (Jeremiah 6:26; Isaiah 47:3; Isaiah 58:5; Ezekiel 27:30). The ash-heap probably outside the city. Dung-hills still similarly used in the East. One part of the leper’s affliction, that he was to be removed from society (Leviticus 13:46; Numbers 12:14-4.12.15; 2 Kings 15:5).
1. Increased affliction calls for increased humiliation.
2. Self-abasement the certain way to Divine exaltation (James 4:9-59.4.10).
III. Job’s trial from his wife (Job 2:9).
“Then said his wife.” Amazed at her husband’s sufferings and piety. Herself already tempted and overcome. Spared by Satan to and him in his attempts upon her husband. Another of his cruel mercies. She who should have been a comforter now becomes a tormentor. Her former piety now staggered at her husband’s trials. Weak professors readily offended. The case of Adam and Eve expected to be repeated. Satan wise in selecting his instruments.
1. Those who full themselves usually employed in tempting others.
2. Strongest temptations and keenest triais often from nearest friends.
“Dost thou still retain thine integrity?” Already affirmed by God (Job 2:3). What is highly esteemed by God often reproached by man, and vice versa (Luke 16:15). Job, in his wife’s eyes, “perversely righteous and absurdly good” [Sir R. Blackmore]. Perseverance in piety under heavy crosses a mystery to the world.—“Curse God and die.” Three horrid temptations—infidelity, blasphemy, and despair. Same word used as in Job 1:11; but properly denoting “to bless.” Perhaps a bitter taunt, referring to Job 1:21—“Go on with your fine religion!” Probably—“Renounce God, who treats you so vilely.” Includes the idea of uttered reproach and blasphemy (1 Kings 21:10). Job urged by his wife to fulfil Satan’s grand desire.
1. Satan’s great work to set men against their Maker and His service.
2. His fiercest temptations often reserved for the time of greatest affliction.
3. Satan tempts men to put the worst construction on God’s dealings, and prompts to the worst means of relief. Points Job to the gulf of Atheism as the only refuge [Davidson].
4. The holiest saints liable to the most horrid and blasphemous temptations.
5. The flesh in ourselves and others always an antagonist to faith and holiness (Matthew 16:22-40.16.23).
“And die.” As the end of all your trouble. So Satan tempted Saul, Ahithopel, and Judas Iscariot. No suggestion so horrid but Satan may inject it into a believing mind. Job afterwards still pressed with the same temptation to suicide (Job 7:15). One of Satan’s lies, that death ends all. His object to make men die in an act of sin, without time or opportunity for repentance. His friendliest proposals tend to damnation and destruction. Would make men imitators of his blasphemy and partakers of his despair.
IV. Job’s continued patience and piety (Job 2:10). “But he said unto her.” Did not curse God, and then use Adam’s excuse (Genesis 3:12.—“Thou speakest,” &c. Reproves with mingled gentleness and firmness. So Christ reproved Peter (Matthew 16:23). Dishonour done to God to be at once discountenanced and reproved (Leviticus 19:17; Proverbs 27:5; Proverbs 29:15).—“As one.” A gentle form of reproof. Husbands to love their wives, and not be bitter against them (Colossians 3:19). No fierce or furious language here. Her present speech not like her usual self. Speaks out of her ordinary character.
1. Believers liable to be drawn into sin.
2. Love to be mingled with, and to moderate, reproof (Ephesians 4:15).
3. Reproof to be respectful, especially when addressed to relatives and seniors (1 Timothy 5:1).
“As one of the foolish women speaketh.” “Foolish,” in the Old Testament, used for “sinful or ungodly.” The language of Job’s wife, that of foolish, profane, wicked women.
1. The part of a fool to deny God and reproach His Providence (Psalms 14:1).
2. Folly to judge of a man’s condition from God’s outward dealings with him.
3. Unworthy thoughts of God the mark of a carnal, foolish spirit.
4. Sin not only vile but foolish,—as truly opposed to man’s interests as to God’s honour.
5. Impatience and passion under trouble the greatest foolishness. Hard, and therefore senseless, to kick against the pricks (Acts 9:5). Idolaters wont to reproach their gods in misfortune.
“What! shall we receive,” &c.? What is sinful is to be put down, not with rage but with reason. Satan’s horrid and blasphemous temptations not to be listened to for a moment. Sharp reproof consistent with love and sometimes required by it (Titus 1:13). He who knows not how to be angry knows not how to love [Augustine.]—“Shall we receive good at the hand of God?” Present miseries not to obliterate past mercies. The greatest sufferer already the recipient of unnumbered benefits. God’s mercies “new every morning.” To sinners all is mercy on this side of hell. Mercy written on every sunbeam that gilds and gladdens the earth.—“And shall we not receive evil also?” “Evil” put for affliction and adversity. All comforts and no crosses, unreasonable to expect and undesirable to receive. Evil as well as good to be not only expected, but thankfully accepted. The question points to the manner of receiving, as well as the matter received. Both equally dispensed by God, therefore both to be reverentially accepted by us. Both worthy of God to dispense, and beneficial for us to receive. The part of faith and love, to accept troubles as from a Father’s hand. The true spirit of adoption, to kiss the rod and the hand that holds it. Thankfully to accept of good is merely human, thankfully to accept of evil is Divine. In every thing to give thanks, God’s will in Christ concerning us (1 Thessalonians 5:13). Job here greater than his miseries. More than a conqueror. One of heaven’s as well as earth’s heroes.—“In all this,” his increased calamities as well as his wife’s taunts and temptations. Job now lying under a quaternion of troubles—adversity, bereavement, disease, and reproach. More, however, yet remained for Satan to inflict and for Job to suffer. Continuance of suffering often much more trying than suffering itself. Inward affliction to be added to the outward. Much more trying. The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14). A hint, perhaps, here given of further trial, with a less gratifying result.—“Sinned not with his lips.” Vented no reflection on God’s character and procedure. The greatest temptation in such circumstances to sin with the lips. The thing Satan desired, endeavoured after, and waited for. The temptation to murmur present, but resisted and repressed. Job still by grace a conqueror over corrupt nature. Not always thus walking on the swelling waters of innate corruption. Man’s weakness to be exhibited, even in a state of grace. Hitherto Job shown to be the “perfect man” God declared him to be (James 3:2). The Old Testament ideal of a perfect man and a suffering saint. An illustrious type of Christ in His suffering and patience (Isaiah 53:7; 1 Peter 2:23). The type afterwards fails, that in all things Christ may have the pre-eminence (Colossians 1:18).
CONCLUDING PART OF PROSE INTRODUCTION.—VISIT OF JOB’S FRIENDS
I. The Friends. (Job 2:11.) “Now when Job’s three friends heard.” Rather, “three friends of Job.” Probably friends most intimate with him, and from whom he had most to expect (ch Job 6:14-18.6.15). Perhaps connected with him by kindred as well as acquaintance and religion. Worshippers of the true God. Eminent in their day and country for wisdom and piety. Their religions views those of the age. Regarded retribution as very much a thing of this life. Hence their unfavourable view of Job’s character from his condition. Much older than Job. Intending comfort, they become under Satan’s influence, and from their narrow mistaken views, his severest trial. Instead of soothing they add to his grief,—by uncharitable suspicions, false reasonings, unseasonable admonitions, and bitter reproofs. Good easily perverted to evil by Satan’s malice. Satan used Job’s wife to jeer him out of his religion, and his friends to dispute him out of it [Caryl.]—“Came,”—probably, when his disease was now considerably advanced (Job 7:4). Affliction should draw us to our friends, not drive us from them. Adversity one of the best tests of friendship (Proverbs 17:17). Good manners to be an unbidden guest in the house of mourning. [Caryl]. True friendship shewn in self-denying effort.
“Eliphaz.” An old Edomite name. A district also so called (Genesis 36:11; Genesis 36:15). Denotes “my God is strength.” Indicates his parent’s piety.—“Temanite.” Prom the stock he sprung from, or the place (Teman) where he lived. Temanites celebrated for their wisdom (Jeremiah 49:7; Obadiah 1:8-31.1.9).—“Shuhite.” Of Shuah, in the east part of North Arabia. Shuah one of the settlements of the sons of Keturah (Genesis 25:2).—“Naamathite.” From Naamah, probably a district in Syria. The town in Judah so named (Judges 15:9), too far distant.
II. Object of the Friends’ visit. “Had made an appointment together.” Probably living not far apart from each other. Good to unite together in works of charity and mercy (Mark 2:3).—“To mourn with him.” Sympathy in sorrow an instinct of humanity and a Christian duty (Romans 12:15). Example of Jesus (John 11:33-43.11.34). Job’s own character (ch. Job 30:25). Tears shed with our own, often the. most soothing balm in sorrow. A world of meaning in the child’s words,—“I only cried with her.”—“And to comfort him.” The motive good, though the execution faulty. A friend in trouble one of our choicest blessings. A brother born for adversity. Comfort of mourners one of the objects of the Lord’s ministry (Isaiah 61:2). See His mode of dispensing it, Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 11:28-40.11.30. To comfort in trouble one of the leading parts of Christian duty (1 Thessalonians 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; James 1:27; Matthew 25:36). Job’s own character and practice (ch. Job 29:25).—Job 2:12, “Lifted up their eyes afar off.” Where yet they might easily have recognised him. So the father of the prodigal (Luke 15:20). Job apparently now in the open air, and, as a leper, outside the city.—“Knew him not.” So altered by his disease, his sorrow, and his place among the ashes. Marks the depth of his calamity. Unrecognizable by his friends. When men know us least, is the time that God knows us best. (Psalms 31:7.)
III. Their Sympathy. Job 2:12. “They lifted up their voice and wept.” Marks their deep sympathy and their friend’s deep sorrow. In the east, full vent usually given to grief (Genesis 27:38; Genesis 29:11; Judges 2:4; Ruth 1:9; 1 Samuel 24:16).—“Sprinkled dust upon their heads towards heaven.” Casting it into the air, so as to fall down on their heads (Acts 22:23). Token of grief, astonishment, and humiliation towards God under a great sorrow (Joshua 7:6; Nehemiah 9:1; 1 Samuel 4:10). Their feeling, consternation and sorrow at the sight of so sad a change.—“Sat down with him upon the ground” (Job 2:13). Another token of sympathetic grief (2 Samuel 12:16; Isaiah 3:26; Lamentations 2:10; Ezra 9:3). True sympathy to sit down on the ground with one so loathsome in himself, and apparently an object of the Divine displeasure.—“Seven days.” Usual time of mourning for the dead (Genesis 1:10; 1 Samuel 31:13). Job’s children dead, and himself virtually so. So in time of great affliction (Ezekiel 3:15). Depth of Job’s calamity marked by that of his friends’ sympathy.—“None spake a word unto him.” True sympathy expressed by silence as well as tears. Silence usual and becoming in presence of deep distress (Lamentations 2:10). “A reverence due to such prodigious woe” [Sir R. Blackmore]. Unseasonable words an aggravation of the sufferer’s grief. The friends confounded at Job’s calamity and unable to speak to it. Ignorant as to the cause, and apprehensive of Divine displeasure. Prudence and skill required in administering consolation.—“For they saw.” His affliction apparently much greater than they had anticipated. The heart affected by the eye. Good to place ourselves in the presence of sorrow (Ecclesiastes 7:2).—“That his grief was very great.” The stroke as heavy as it was possible for Satan to inflict, and the grief proportionate. No sin for our feelings to keep pace with. God’s dealings.
Lessons from Job’s grief and the occasion of it:—
1. God’s dearest children and most faithful servants may be the subjects of deepest suffering.
2. No part of piety to render the sou insensible to calamity.
3. The sudden removal of all earthly comforts possible, and to be prepared for.
4. Much of the sufferings of God’s servants the probable result of Satan’s malice.
5. Patience and submission to God’s will consistent with the deepest grief.
Job in his deep distress a type of the “Man of Sorrows.” His soul “exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” In an agony, prayed the more earnestly that the cup might, if possible, pass from Him, yet meekly submitted. His bloody sweat, the result of a frame like our own convulsed by inward distress (Matthew 26:37; Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:44).
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Job 2". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent