Eliphaz asserts, that Job's justification of himself doth not please God, and that he is surrounded with snares, because he had been guilty of many iniquities. He exhorts him to repentance, with promises of mercy.
Before Christ 1645.
Job 22:1. Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered— Eliphaz here, increasing in his indignation, charges Job home with particular facts of cruelty and oppression; to which he adds the atrocious crime of atheism, and a denial or disbelief of Providence; and this latter he assigns as the reason of Job's obstinacy in refusing to submit and acknowledge his guilt: Job 22:2-14. He compares his wickedness with that of the mighty oppressors of the antediluvian world; with that of the inhabitants of Sodom, and the cities of the plain; intimating not obscurely, that his end would probably be the same as theirs, unless prevented by a speedy submission, and full restitution, Job 22:15-20 to which he therefore earnestly presses him, and endeavours to allure him by placing full in his view the great advantages that he would probably reap from such a conduct: Job 22:21 to the end. Heath.
Job 22:3. Is it any pleasure? &c.— Is it any advantage. Heath.
Job 22:4. Will he reprove thee— Will he dispute with thee concerning thy religion? Houbigant.
Job 22:6. For thou hast taken a pledge— See chap. Job 24:7. Who that sees this ranked among the greatest enormities, says Bishop Warbuton, but will reflect that it must have been written by one studied in the law of Moses; which says, If thou at all take thy neighbour's raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down, &c. But was this practice of taking a pledge peculiar to the Israelites? or rather, was it not absolutely necessary in those early times, before they had the use of money, at least in any great plenty? See on chap. Job 42:11. Now, when all commerce was in a manner transacted without money, and chiefly by an exchange of one commodity for another, the taking of a pledge must of necessity happen very frequently: a proper exchange not being to be had. This, therefore, would make the custom as common in Arabia as in Judea; and I conceive that any hard usage to the poor in this way was as much to be condemned in the one country as in the other. See Peters.
Job 22:8. But as for the mighty man— But if any one had sown a field for himself, being in thy favour, he received the fruit of it. Houbigant, in part after the Syriac. Heath renders it, but as for the mighty man, the whole land was for him; and thy particular favourite he might dwell in it. The meaning of Eliphaz seems to be, that while Job oppressed the poor, he courted and paid all adulating respect to the great and the rich.
Job 22:11. Or darkness— Thou beholdest darkness, and not light. Houbigant. Heath renders it, Or is it dark, that thou canst not see? Observing that the path of the wicked man is here represented as covered with darkness, so that he cannot see the snares which are laid for him, but falls into them: in antithesis to which, the path of the righteous man is represented in the 28th verse as all light; The light shall shine upon thy ways? Houbigant renders the last cause of the 9th verse, and thou hast broken the arms of the fatherless.
Job 22:12. Is not God in the height of heaven?— Is not God high above the heavens? Yea, see the summit of the stars how high they are. This verse is the answer which he supposes Job to make; the consequences of which he draws out at large in the following verses. He takes his handle from Job 22:16 of the former chapter, as appears from his retorting the latter clause of it against Job in Job 22:18. See Heath; who observes, that the particle rendered and at the beginning of the next verse, should be rendered from whence, as it is the inference drawn from the infinite distance at which he supposes God to be removed from human affairs.
Job 22:15-20. Hast thou marked? &c.— As the universal deluge was a most signal and memorable instance of God's displeasure against wickedness and wicked men, Eliphaz takes occasion to enlarge upon it for five or six verses together, as a proper lesson (so he thought it) for his friend; and then closes it with the mention of another destruction by fire, either past or to be expected, which is described to be as general and as fatal to the wicked: and the remnant of them the fire consumeth, or shall consume: Job 22:20. This, indeed, some refer to the judgment of God upon Sodom and Gomorrah; but it is much more natural to understand it of the last general conflagration; for how could the destroying a little city or two be said with any propriety to consume the remnant?; i.e. the whole remainder of wicked men? when at the same time Chaldea, and perhaps the greater part of the world, was overrun with idolatry. The dissolution of the world by fire, is what St. Peter calls expressly, a day of judgment and perdition to ungodly men: 2 Peter 3:7. And this St. Jude, Job 22:14 seems to say was prophesied of by Enoch before the flood; and if so, must be known to Noah, and by him, no doubt, transmitted to posterity; and so might be well known to Job and his friends. The righteous Noah and his family, who were so miraculously preserved, are very poetically introduced, Job 22:19 as triumphing over the wicked generation whom they had called in vain to repentance, and who had said unto God, depart from us; Job 22:17. And what can the Almighty do for them? defying him as it were, and contemning both his threatenings and his promises: Job 22:19-20. The righteous see it (i.e. see the destruction of this wicked race) and the innocent man נקי naki, (singular) laugheth them to scorn; whereas our substance is not cut down. There is some difficulty in this clause. The Hebrew is literally, is not our rising cut off? Are not we overwhelmed and sunk, never to rise more? Or, is not our insurrection and rebellion against God (for so impiety and wickedness is often styled in Scripture) justly punished by this terrible excision? They seem to be the words of those wicked men who were cut down out of time, Job 22:16 but here put into the mouth of the innocent Noah and his family by way of derision; as it is common to repeat the words of another, or to make a speech for him upon such occasions, κατα μιμησιν, as the rhetoricians speak, and without naming those whose words they are supposed to be. This gives a good sense to the passage, which is scarcely intelligible any other way; and thus it will be the same as if it were said, "The innocent mock them, saying, Are not these impious wretches justly punished? Is not our pride, may they say, and insurrection against our Maker, sadly humbled by this utter extirpation?" It follows, and the remnant of them the fire shall consume: which may be understood as the words of Eliphaz, or, perhaps, as a continuation of the speech of Noah; and then it will be as if he had said, "Though this judgment by water, extensive as it is, may not so thoroughly have purged the world but that wickedness and wicked men will again spring up, spread widely, and abound; yet, know, there shall come a time hereafter, when the world shall be consumed by fire; and then, the whole race and remainder of wicked men shall be delivered up, once for all, to such an absolute destruction, as that none shall ever spring from their ashes, nor shall the new world and its inhabitants know wickedness, or defection from God, any more." We see then, from this remarkable passage, that the doctrine of the future dissolution of the world by fire, so plainly taught us, and so immediately connected with the doctrine of the resurrection in the New Testament, was not unknown in Job's time; and, consequently, is a further confirmation of the point which we have endeavoured to establish, chap. Job 19:25 and elsewhere. The prophet Isaiah seems to handle this subject very copiously in the 24th and the two following chapters of his prophecy; and he uses an expression, chap. Job 26:11 very like to this of Eliphaz, The fire of thine enemies [which is prepared for thine enemies] shall consume them. Such an expression, I own, may be used in a metaphorical sense, and therefore little stress can be laid upon it, except the context favours, as here: but it is to be observed, that as the 24th chapter is taken up with a lively description of that utter dissolution and destruction which shall be brought upon the earth for the wickedness of its inhabitants; so the two following chapters contain hymns of praise to God on this occasion, both for his judgments on the wicked, and his mercies to the righteous. See those chapters, and Peters, p. 409.
Job 22:21. Acquaint now thyself, &c.— Humble thyself, I pray thee, before him, and make restitution. Heath.
Job 22:22. Receive, I pray thee, &c.— This phrase, says Bishop Warburton, was taken from the verbal delivery of the Jewish law from Mount Sinai. He adds, "The rabbins were so sensible of the expressive peculiarity of this phrase, that they say the law of Moses is here spoken of by a kind of prophetic anticipation." It is of little moment, in the present case, what the rabbins say; the argument, if it carries any weight with it, must proceed upon this supposition, that men were under no divine law; had no precepts of their duty given them by God, before the law was published from Mount Sinai; or at least, whatever precepts might be given them, they were not distinguished by the term here used, of a law. But neither of these points can be allowed. God says to Isaac, Genesis 26:5. I will bless thee, because that Abraham kept my charge, and my law, or laws. This, we are assured, was long before the law of Moses was given; and therefore means probably some divine precepts of religion, delivered down from Adam, or from Noah, to succeeding generations. These are what Job calls the words of the holy One, chap. Job 6:10 and remarkably, chap. Job 23:12 the words of God's mouth, which he esteemed more than his necessary food.
Job 22:24. Then shalt thou lay up gold, &c.— And count the fine gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks: Job 22:25. For, the Almighty shall be thy fine gold, &c. Heath; who observes, that Grotius has given a right exposition of the 24th verse: Value not the gold more than dust, nor the gold of Ophir than the stones of the torrent.
Job 22:29-30. When men are cast down, &c.— For whoever humbleth himself shall be extolled and had in glory; he that hath lowly eyes shall be exalted: Job 22:30. Whoever is innocent shall be safe, and delivered by the purity of his hands. Houbigant, who understands the word אי ai, with Grotius, to be an Arabic pronoun, signifying whosoever.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, It is Job's hard case to have all that he can urge misunderstood, and some ill meaning constantly drawn from a distortion of his arguments. Because he maintained his integrity, as being no hypocrite, Eliphaz would infer that he pretended to make God his debtor; and thereupon he argues, that his goodness could never profit him, or his iniquity hurt him.
1. Our goodness cannot profit God, or merit any thing at his hands. Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? no; though religion is our wisdom, and the advantages of it to us unspeakably great, in present possession, and future expectation; yet our goodness extendeth not to God. He is far exalted above all blessing and praise; we receive all from him, but can add nothing to him, completely happy in his own all-sufficient fulness. Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect? No; though he takes pleasure in the prosperity of his servants, and is glorified in their services, yet, had there never been man or angel created, his infinite self-complacence, and the inexpressible riches of his glory, had been the same. It is his condescension that he accepts our services; the pleasure and the gain of them is our own alone, not his.
2. Our iniquity cannot hurt him. Will he reprove thee for fear of thee? Will he enter with thee into judgment? lest, if left to prosper, thou shouldst grow above his government? Note; None are too great for God to humble: if he spare the wicked, it is not for fear of them, but in patient pity towards them.
2nd, Job's friends had repeatedly condemned him by insinuations and inferences, and by comparing his case with that of wicked men; but as this had no effect, Eliphaz takes a large step farther, and, right or wrong, resolves to lay on him crimes enough. If half of them could but be proved, Job would have been a bad man indeed. It is common in the world to say, Abuse confidently and abundantly, and some of the lies will be believed.
1. In general he charges him with great wickedness and astonishing crimes, as if what he was about to advance were but a small part of the black catalogue. Note; The best of men have been the most foully aspersed by lying tongues.
2. He proceeds to the particular accusations, and they are many and grievous. [1.] Great oppression. For a trifling loan he had secured a pledge of much superior value, or thou hast taken thy brother for a pledge, arrested him for an inconsiderable debt; and when the poor were almost naked, had stripped them of the little raiment they had left. [2.] Cruel uncharitableness. The hungry and thirsty were left to faint and famish, and a cup of cold water denied them, while he rioted in affluence; yea, even the afflicted widow, whose poverty swelled the measure of her griefs, was sent away empty from his door. [3.] Vile partiality. Before him, as a magistrate, the greatest ever carried the cause: the mighty man, who oppressed the poor, was sure to have judgment in his favour, and be confirmed in the possession of what he had seized; while the arms of the fatherless were broken, ruined without redress by their richer neighbours. And, as no less destitute of piety towards God than charity towards man, he charges him, [4.] With avowed infidelity; as if God, in the height of heaven, either could not see through the dark cloud which interposed, or lest men at large, while he paraded through his own superior mansions, careless about the insignificant concerns of little mortals. Note; (1.) Though foolish and wicked men say that God hath forsaken the earth, yet he heareth the cry of oppression and wrong. Though heaven is his throne, he filleth all things, and is as much present beneath the thick clouds, as above them. (2.) Abominable in the sight of the righteous Judge is the acceptance of men's persons: he will quickly appear the patron and awful avenger of the injured.
3. He ascribes Job's present sufferings to his atrocious sins; for thus he reasoned: Because his sufferings are great, his sins must be great, and in exact proportion to them; therefore snares compassed him about; health, wealth, and children, were lost together; terrors had seized his conscience, which they interpreted as the signs of conscious guilt; and darkness had enveloped all his hopes; while, like a drowning man in the midst of boisterous waves, desperate and undone, he seemed ready to sink into eternal ruin, the just punishment of his supposed crimes. Note; (1.) He who wilfully condemneth the righteous, is an abomination to the Lord, (2.) We must not wonder if the most malignant interpretations are put on our providential afflictions: better men than we are have suffered more severely before us.
3rdly, Job had pleaded the experience of all ages, to testify the prosperity of many wicked men. Eliphaz thinks that he has an irrefragable argument to confute him, in the flood brought on the world of the ungodly and while he insinuates that his sins were such as theirs he bids him take warning by their punishment.
1. He describes their wickedness, and uses the very words that Job had spoken concerning the wicked who prospered, chap. Job 21:14 as a confutation of what he there advanced. They said unto the Almighty, Depart from us; we renounce his government, worship, and ways: and what can the Almighty do for them? as if they neither expected any good, nor feared any evil at his hands. Yet, which was a great aggravation of their wickedness, he filled their houses with good things. Note; (1.) Impiety is the parent of infidelity. (2.) Ingratitude to God is among the sinner's blackest crimes. (3.) They are still poor in the worst sense, who, though their houses are full of goods, have their hearts empty of divine grace.
2. He professes his abhorrence of such principles and practice: The counsel of the wicked is far from me. So Job had declared, and Eliphaz thinks with much greater reason he may assert.
3. He relates their destruction. Though it was the old way, and the general way, it was not an iota the safer for that. They were cut down by the divine judgment, out of time, and removed into an eternity of misery, and this before they had filled the number of their years, surprised with sudden destruction; whose foundation was overflown with a flood; all their confidences perished with them, and they sunk as lead in the mighty waters. Note; (1.) When we remember what the water hath once done, we should think what the more devouring element of fire will shortly do, consuming entirely the earth, and all that is therein. (2.) The hope of the hypocrite and of the sinner is on a sandy foundation: when the floods of wrath descend, ruin, terrible as inevitable, shall overwhelm them.
4. He testifies the joy of the righteous, either Noah and his family, or godly men in all ages, on seeing the vengeance: not that they take pleasure in men's misery, but they rejoice to see God glorified in his judgments. With these, Eliphaz and his friends joined; happy now, as those of old, to perceive themselves distinguished by God's protection, and therefore concluding the goodness of their state and cause, whereas our substance is not cut down, but theirs was; and the remnant of them the fire consumed; which some refer to the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, but it is more probably designed to point out Job's case, whose cattle and servants the lightning had consumed; and thence he would infer that they were righteous, but he condemned and made to suffer, as one of the ungodly.
4thly, On the supposition that Job was a wicked man, Eliphaz had warned him of the great danger to which he was exposed with the sinners of old: yet, not to reduce him to despair, but to lead him to repentance, he gives him excellent counsel and encouragement; which shews, mistaken as he was in Job's particular case, that he was well versed in the way of God, and, at bottom, a man of sound piety. There may be something, yea sometimes much, to condemn even in truly good men; to whom, notwithstanding, we cannot refuse our general approbation of their conduct.
1. His counsel is an humble and speedy return to God: Acquaint thyself now with God: now, while yet there is life and hope; without delay, acquaint thyself with his perfections and providences, and be at peace, silent and submissive before him, acquiescing in all his dispensations; and, instead of fighting against him, lay down thine arms and seek pardon and peace with him: thereby good shall come unto thee, his merciful favour shall be restored. Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, submit to his government, yield thyself up to his holy will, and lay up his words in thine heart as the choicest treasure, and thy counsellor and guide in every time of difficulty. Note; (1.) Acquaintance with God is the way to be at peace with him: till we know his holiness whom we have offended, and his love whom we have slighted, we can never in real penitence return to him. (2.) Peace with God is the most invaluable of all blessings. (3.) If God, in our divine Redeemer Jesus, has been pleased to restore our souls to his favour, let it be our care henceforward, to yield up ourselves to be guided by his holy word and will. (4.) They who know the value of the Scriptures esteem them above mines of gold, and, daily labouring therein, store their hearts with the richest treasures of divine counsels and consolations.
2. He promises him the best of blessings, as the consequence of such an humble return to the Almighty, from his state of estrangement and rebellion against him; and these precious promises are frequently the most effectual means to engage the sinner's heart to God.
[1.] His evils should be removed, and his lost prosperity be restored. If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, the desolations of thy house and family shall be repaired; thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles, thou wilt be careful to remove every evil, and no more commit or connive at it; and then thy sufferings, which are the effects of thy iniquity, God will put far away from thee. Thou shalt lay up gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks, in such abundance shall thy riches increase; secure also, as well as affluent, no robbers shall any more plunder, or judgments spread desolation, Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence, He, on thy repentance, will become thy friend, and preserve thy goods in safety: or, he shall be thy choice gold, better to thee than all thy other riches, and thou shalt have plenty of silver. Note; The best riches are God's grace and love.
[2.] He should enjoy communion with God, and be happy in the sense of his favour: for then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, he shall be thy happiness and joy, and shalt lift up thy face unto God, with holy confidence in him, and boldness to approach him. Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, assured of a speedy answer of peace, and he shall hear thee, while thou art speaking, and grant thy requests; and in grateful acknowledgment of his mercies received, thou shalt pay thy vows, constant in praise as prayer. Note; (1.) They who have ever tasted the happiness of communion with God, and known the bitterness of distance from him, as Job had, will count the restoration to a sense of his love the most inestimable blessing. (2.) When we are at peace with God, we may approach him with confidence, knowing that we shall receive the favours which we require of him, as far as they be for our good. (3.) For the blessings received in prayer, we owe the constant grateful return of praise.
[3.] All his designs should succeed, and a blessing be upon all his labour: Thou shalt decree a thing, resolve under the Divine assistance so to act, and it shall be established unto thee, God will confirm thy purpose, and crown the issue with success: and the light shall shine upon thy ways, no such darkness as now surrounds thee shall remain; but thy path shall be clear as the day, and the sun of prosperity shine upon thee on every side. Note; (1.) The success of all our purposes, whether respecting spiritual or temporal good, comes from God alone. (2.) They who are at peace with God, will enjoy the light of his countenance as their present comfort, and look to the light of eternal glory as their expected happy portion.
[4.] His prayers should be heard in behalf of others, as well as himself. When men are cast down, and under their distress apply to thee, thou shalt say, to encourage them, there is lifting up; or, in prayer to God for them, let there be lifting up, and he shall save the humble person, and lift him out of the pit of affliction at thy request. He shall deliver the island of the innocent, save them at thy desire; or the innocent, the one good man, shall deliver the island, or he shall deliver those who are not innocent; not only shall the humble receive a blessing from thy prayers, but even the wicked shall enjoy respite from them, and some temporal good. And it is (the Island) or he is (the person prayed for,) delivered by the pureness of thine hands, God having such respect to thy petitions, when thou stretchest forth thine hands to him in the heavens. Note; (1.) Great is the power of a good man's prayers, and we should earnestly desire to have an interest in them. (2.) Though God's praying people are often the ridicule of the world, it is through them that the island is preserved. (3.) There is one innocent and holy Intercessor in heaven, for whose sake God's humble people partake of his salvation.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 22". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Easter