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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Job 2

 

 

Verse 1

Job 2:1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.

Ver. 1. Again there was a day] Whether the next day, or the next sabbath day, or the next first, day of the year (which is God’s day of general audit, as the Rabbis will have it), we have not to say. God, as he hath in his eternal counsel fore appointed everything that is done; so he hath set the times wherein, Ecclesiastes 3:1, such as the creature can neither alter nor order. This is a comfortable consideration.

When the sons of God, &c.] See Job 1:6.

And Satan came also among them] Whether summoned to give an account, or of his own accord to sue out a new commission against Job, it skilleth not. Restless he is; and it behoveth us to be vigilant; not ignorant of his wiles, nor unmindful of his inveterate envy and enmity.


Verse 2

Job 2:2 And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

Ver. 2. And the Lord said unto Satan, &c.] See Job 1:7.

From going to and fro in the earth] In heaven he comes not; into that earthly paradise he could screw himself, not so into the heavenly. No dirty dog ever trampled on that golden pavement; those that are there are extra iactum outside have been thrown out of Satan’s gun shot; but while here he will ever and anon have a bout with the best; he walks about for the nonce, spying advantages.

And from walking up and down in it] Doing his feats, and carrying news. It might very well be be who, when Domitian the emperor was slain by his own servants at Rome, informed Apollonius Tyaneus thereof at Ephesus, where he is said to have cried out the same time, To him, Stephen; strike him, kill him. But what a vain glorious vaunt of an impudent wretch was this, that though vanquished, as he had been by Job, and beaten on his own dunghill, he should take upon him still in this sort, that he had been walking up and down as a conqueror or emperor of this present world! Surely as Job still retained his integrity, so did Satan his vanity: boasting that he came now from visiting his estate; and that nothing rendered him more glorious than the great number of his subjects which depended upon his will (Senault).


Verse 3

Job 2:3 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that [there is] none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

Ver. 3. And the Lord said unto Satan] Before he would condemn him he thus interrogateth him (which he would not vouchsafe to do when he had deceived our first parents, Genesis 3:14), but with a very bitter taunt and sharp reprehension; as if God should have said, Art thou not ashamed, Satan, thus to answer me, as if I had forgotten what I granted thee in our last assembly, and thus in my presence to dissemble? &c. (Beza).

Hast thou considered my servant Job] See Job 1:8.

One that feareth God, &c.] This he did not without God (according to that clause in the new covenant, I will put my fear into their hearts, Jeremiah 31:40. I, is emphatical and exclusive, q.d. I, and I alone), yet God giveth him the honour of it; as if he himself had been the sole doer. Certum est, nos facere quod facimus; sed ille tacit ut faciamus, saith Austin. Sure it is that we do what good we do; but as sure it is that God doth all our works in us and for us, Isaiah 26:12.

And still he holdeth fast his integrity] Which thou hast driven quasi ficedula extorquere, as to tear a small bird, by wrench and wile to get from him; but he hath hitherto held it fast, as with tooth and nail. This was a singular commendation, and that is a rare faith, which, being long tried, doth not flag and hang the wing. By reason of the overflow of iniquity the love of many shall wax cold (saith our Saviour), but he that endureth to the end shall be saved, Matthew 24:12-13. Lo, it is but a he, a single man, that retaineth his integrity; when many lose their first love, and fall from their former stedfastness, as fast as leaves fall in autumn. Job would not part with his integrity to die for it; when all was taken away he laid fast hold on that, and resolved to let go his life sooner. Christ he saw standing over him (as once Stephen did), and saying, Hold fast that thou hast, that no one take thy crown from thee, Revelation 3:11. Omnia perdidit qui fidem amisit, he destroys everthing who loses faith. saith Seneca. In a common combustion a mail will be sure to secure his jewels, whatever become of his lumber.

Although thou movedst me against him] That is, against his personal estate, and his children, which are called himself; against these Satan is said to have moved the Lord, to have incited and instigated him, stirring him up with reasons and arguments; as he is an excellent orator if he may but have audience. But that the Lord was hereby moved to do aught against Job must be wisely and rightly understood; for God is immutable and unmovable; neither can he be drawn to do anything but what he hath decreed to do from before all beginnings; but here he speaketh after the manner of men, as if he were prevailed with by Satan’s solicitations.

To destroy him] So Satan would have had it, when God meant to try him only. See the like Revelation 2:10.

Without cause] Or for nothing (as the word signifieth, Job 1:10, "Doth Job fear God for nought?") without any provocation or cause on his part procuring it. Not but that there is cause enough in the best why God should afflict them: but as there was no peccatum flagrans burning sin in Jacob, Numbers 23:21, no foul sin of that people, flaming at that time in the eyes of God, or stinking in his nostrils, and therefore Balaam (the devil’s spellman) could do nought against them by his enchantments, Numbers 23:23; so there was not in Job that gross hypocrisy, wherewith Satan had falsely charged him ( Iob non erat flagitiosus, Job was no disgraceful, Lavat.), he was not that mercenary that Satan would have made of him. In vain did that arch slanderer and accuser of the saints move the Lord against Job, Gratis, id est, Frustra, without payment it is, in vain, saith Lyra; in vain did he assault this stout champion, &c.


Verse 4

Job 2:4 And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.

Ver. 4. And Satan answered the Lord] This impudent adversary had yet an answer in his mouth, and would not be so set down. Of him and his agents (those false teachers, as the apostle calleth them) it may be truly said,

- Nihil est audacius illis

Deprensis: iram atque animos ex crimine sumunt (Juvenal).

Nothing is more bold to those caught, they are angry but proud from their crime.

Skin for skin] Any skin for his own; cattle, servants, children may be easily parted with by him, to save himself in a whole skin, to keep himself whole: others read it, skin after skin, or skin upon skin; both the Cutis skin and the Pellis hide shall go so that life may be preserved; as a man will hold up his arm to save his head, or suffer the loss of a limb to save his life. Ut corpus redimas; ferrum patieris et ignes. So that the body mey be redeemed; endure the sword and the fire. Job is still integra cute, skin whole, saith Satan; and so long there is little trial of him: that man is rich enough who is well. I read of one, who being asked how old he was, answered that he was in health; and to another that asked how rich he was, answered that he was not in debt: q.d. he is young enough that is in health, and rich enough that is not in debt. Now all this Job was yet, and therefore Satan ill paid and unsatisfied.

And all that he hath will a man give for his life] Life is sweet, we say; and man is a life loving creature, saith the heathen, ζωον φιλοζωον (Aesop), fond of life, and afraid of death, which is Nature’s slaughterman, and therefore the most terrible of terribles, as Aristotle styleth it, των φοβερων φοβερωτατον. The Gibeonites refused not to be perpetual slaves, so they might but live. Those that are overcome in battle are content to be stripped of all, so they may have quarter for their lives. Mariners in a tempest cast their lading into the sea, though never so precious, in hope of life. If Job may escape with the skin of his teeth, it is some favour; he may not think much to sacrifice all that he hath to the service of his life, his conscience only excepted. Some good people have strained that too for love of life, as when Abraham denied his wife; David changed his behaviour; Peter denied his Master; Queen Elizabeth (though afterwards she could say, When I call to mind things past, behold things present, and expect things to come, I hold them happiest that go hence soonest, yet) in Queen Mary’s time, she sometimes heard divine service after the Romish religion, and was often confessed; yea, at the rigorous solicitation of Cardinal Pole, she professed herself a Romish Catholic; yet did not Queen Mary believe her (saith mine author), remembering that she herself, for fear of death, had by letters written with her own hand to her father, both renounced for ever the bishop of Rome’s authority, and with it acknowledged her father to be supreme head of the Church of England under Christ, and her mother’s marriage to have been incestuous and unjust. Those good souls did better that loved not their lives unto death, Revelation 12:11, that by losing their lives saved them, Matthew 10:39, that held with that martyr (Julius Palmer), that life is sweet only to such as have their souls linked to their bodies as a thief’s foot is in a pair of fetters.


Verse 5

Job 2:5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.

Ver 5. But put forth thine hand now] {See Trapp on "Job 1:11"} This God did at Satan’s motion, yet non ad exitium Iobi, sed ad exercitium; not for the destruction of Job but his training, Job’s temptation is of Satan, but his trial and invincible constancy is of God. God in a sense tempted Job. Satan also; even as the dog may be said to bait the beast, and the owner of the beast too, that suffered him to be baited.

And touch his bone and his flesh] Pinch him to the quick, that not his flesh only may feel it, but the marrow also in his bones, Psalms 6:2; Psalms 32:3; Psalms 51:8. The bone and flesh are the chief materials of man’s body, which is fitly compared to a fabric, wherein the bones are the timber work, the head the upper lodging, the eyes as windows, the eyelids as casements, the brows as pent-houses, the ears as watch towers, the mouth as a door, to take in that which shall uphold the building, and keep it in reparations, the stomach as a kitchen, to dress that which is conveyed into it, the guts and baser parts as sinks belonging to the house, &c., as one maketh the comparison. Now in all these and the rest of his parts of body Satan would have Job to be smitten; and then he made no question of a conquest. Pain is a piercing shaft in Satan’s quiver of temptations; hence he stirred up his agents to tympanize and torment the martyrs with as much cruelty as the wit of malice could devise; but all in vain, Hebrews 11:35-36. Apollonia had all her teeth pulled out of her head (hence Papists make her the saint for toothaches). Blandina tired those that tortured her. Theodorus was cruelly whipped, racked, and scraped with sharp shells, by the command of Julian, but yielded not (Socrat. Theodor.). Rose Allen had her hand wrist burnt by Justice Tyrrell, who held a candle under it till the sinews brake that all the house heard them; and then thrusting her from him violently, said, Ah, strong whore, wilt thou not cry? thou shameless whore, thou beastly whore, &c. But she quietly suffered his rage for a time, at the last said, Sir, have you done what you will do? and he said, Yea; and if thou think it not well, then mend it. Mend it? said she; nay, the Lord mend you, and give you repentance, if it be his will. And now, if you think it fit, begin at the feet, and burn the head also; for he that set you awork shall pay your wages one day, I warrant you. As little got the devil by these worthies, as he did by Job’s boils and carbuncles. We are ashamed (said one of Julian’s nobles to him), we are ashamed, O Emperor, the Christians laugh at your cruelty, and grow the more resolute.

And he will curse thee to thy face] Heb. If he curse thee not to thy face, q.d. then damn me, send me to hell presently. This Satan holds in by an Aposiopesis,{a rhetorical device, in which the speaker comes to a sudden halt, as if unable or unwilling to proceed.} being therein more modest than our desperate and detestable God-damnmes: let them see how they gratify the devil who curse and blaspheme, or protest openly what they know to be false. This the devil did not.


Verse 6

Job 2:6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he [is] in thine hand; but save his life.

Ver. 6. And the Lord said unto Satan] Who hath his request: it is not always a mercy to have what we wish. Deus saepe dat iratus, quod negat propitius. God often gives wrath because he denies his favour. Be sure we bring lawful petitions, and true hearts, Hebrews 10:22, and then we shall have good things, and for our greatest good.

Behold, he is in thine hand] Here God puts his child into his slave’s hand to correct, but not to destroy. And surely, if we give reverence to the fathers of our flesh, who correct us for their own pleasure, shall we not much more be in subjection unto the Father of spirits chastening us for our profit, and live? The Turks, though cruelly lashed, are yet compelled to return to him that commanded it, to kiss his hand, and give him thanks, to pay the officer that whipped them. This last we need not do, but the former we ought, taking God’s part against ourselves, and resting contented; though as Paul delivered up some to Satan, that they might learn not to blaspheme, so God delivered us up to him and his agents (such as Satanically hate us, and are devilishly bent against us, Psalms 32:10 causing us to suffer more than any ever did out of hell), that we may learn not to be proud, secure, sensual, and may preach forth the virtues of him who hath brought us out of darkness into his marvellous light, 1 Peter 2:9. Let us not say if God would take the rod into his own hand, I could better bear it; but the tender mercies of that wicked one and his imps are mere cruelties. For, 1. This is as if the child should say, If I might choose my rod, I would not care to be whipped; or the condemned nobleman, If I might choose mine executioner, I would not care to lose mine head. 2. It is but one hand and many instruments that God smiteth us with. Our enemies are but the men of God’s hand, Psalms 17:14, that can do no more than is given them from above, John 19:11. God’s masons to hew us here in the mount, that we may be as the polished corners of the temple, Psalms 144:12. God’s scullions, to scour up the vessels of his household, that they may shine upon the celestial shelf, as that martyr said. 3. God ever reserveth to himself the royalty of setting them their task, limiting them their time, and letting out their tedder; hitherto ye shall go, and no further. 4. If they exceed their commission (as they are apt), God’s jealousy will smoke against them, Zechariah 1:14.

But save his life] Heb. his soul; put oft for the life, the cause for the effect. Satan shook his chain at Job’s soul, and would have destroyed it, but that he might not do; scratch him he might with his paws, but not fasten his fangs in him. Job could say (for a season at least), as that dying saint did, my body is weak, my soul is well. His afflictions, as afterwards St Paul’s, reached but to his flesh, Colossians 1:24. And see that thou save his life too, saith God (see how he chaineth up the devil who would fain have been sucking Job’s blood, and swallowing him down his wide gullet, 1 Peter 5:8); save it, that is, spare it; see that the spirit fail not before me, and the soul that I have made, Isaiah 57:16. I have yet some further use of him, though a lamentable lazar. You know how through infirmity of the flesh, that is, notwithstanding the infirmity and weakness of my body, I preached the gospel, saith Paul, and my temptation which was in my flesh you despised not, Galatians 4:13-14. Daniel, though sick, yet did the king s business; and Job, though scabbed all over, was yet of great use, and reserved to great honour; therefore saves his life, saith God; and the devil, say the Rabbis, was as much vexed and wounded with this restraint as Job was with all his wounds and ulcers. It is surely a vexation to malice not to do its utmost.


Verse 7

Job 2:7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.

Ver. 7. So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord] The like is said of Cain, when he meditated the murder of his innocent brother, and went to put it in practice. Malefactors amongst us, we know, are indicted in this form: For that thou, not having God before thine eyes, but moved by the instigation of the devil, didst -

And smote Job] He pretended to touch him only, Job 2:5, but let every good man bless himself out of Satan’s bloody fingers; his iron entered into Joseph’s soul, his stroke was very vehement upon Job’s body, making return pro vulnere corpus: for to wound his body, for he smote Job

With sore boils] Hot boiling boils, such as the sorcerers of Egypt were smitten with, Exodus 9:10, and afterwards the limbs of Antichrist, Revelation 16:2. The Indian scab some say it was, or the French disease. A most filthy and odious ulcer it appeareth to have been, sore and mattory (why else should he so scrape himself with a potsherd, as Job 2:8), such as whose sharp and pricking humour penetrated the very bone, and put him to exquisite pain, being worse to him than Augustus’s tres vomicae tria carcinomata, above mentioned, or Philip II of Spain’s loathsome and lousy disease, whereof he died A.D. 1598. Carolus Scribanius thus describeth it (Instit. Princip. cap. 20), This potent prince for a long time endured ulcerum magnitudinem, multitudinem, acerbitatem, faetorem, &c., i.e. many great, sharp, and stinking ulcers, which fastened him to his bed, as to a cross, for a whole year before his death; besides six years torture by the gout, a hectic fever, with a double tertian for two years feeding upon his bowels and the very marrow of his bones; besides a most grievous flux for twenty two days, a continual nauseousness of his stomach, an unsatisfiable thirst, a continual pain of his head and eyes, abundance of matter working out of his ulcers, quae binas in dies scutellas divite paedore impleret, which in two short days, he spent is wealth, besides a most loathsome stench that took away his sleep, &c,: thus he. Think the same and worse of Job, the object of Satan’s utmost malice, and that for a whole year, say the Hebrews; for seven whole years, saith Suidas. Chrysostom compareth him with Lazarus, and maketh him to be in a far worse condition. Pineda showeth that his sufferings were a great deal worse than those of the wicked Egyptians under all their ten plagues; this was a boil, an evil boil, saith the text, one of the worst sort, the most painful and malignant that might be, and this all over his body.

From the sole of his foot unto his crown] It was all but one continued sore, universal as the leprosy, and therefore incurable; threatened as an utmost plague, an evil, an only evil, Deuteronomy 28:35. If any part were left untouched, it was his tongue and mouth, that it might be free to blaspheme God; and that herein he was not smitten by Satan, some have observed from Job 19:20, I am escaped with the skin of my teeth, having no sores there, as I have all the rest of my body over.


Verse 8

Job 2:8 And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.

Ver. 8. And he took him a potsherd] A piece of a broken pot, for want of better; ointments he had none, nor baths, to lenify his soreness. Physicians and friends were far from him. He looked on his right band, and beheld, but there was no man that would know him: refuge failed and perished from him; no man cared for his soul, Psalms 142:4. He had still a wife and servants, and (as some think) his household stuff left him. He should therefore by them have been helped; but they helped on his misery, jeering him, and jesting at him, as he afterwards complaineth. Himself, therefore, in this necessity, taketh a potsherd, a piece of earthen pot, thereby to mind himself, saith Gregory, that he was of the earth, earthy, For which cause also

He sat down among the ashes] Or dust, as repenting in dust and ashes, Job 42:6. So Jonah 3:6, Matthew 11:23. The Septuagint say that he sat upon the dirt or dung, for want of a better cushion, and that he was laid without the city, as if, for the stink and ill savour that came from him, he was not suffered to be in the city ( επι της κοπριας εξω της πολεως), as Uzziah, afterwards, being a leper, dwelt in a house by himself alone, 2 Chronicles 26:21. Disce hic, si aegrotas, saith Lavater, Learn here, if thou be sick, and have help about thee of friends, food, medicine, clean linen, and the like, to show thyself patient; poor Job had none of all this. Nay, the Lord Christ had not whereon to rest his head. Sin autem omni cura et solatio es destitutus, But if moreover all care and comfort is wanting, saith he: But say thou be destitute of all cure and comfort, forced to lie without doors, and upon the hard ground; say thou be in such a condition, that thou canst neither stand nor go, nor sit, nor lie, nor eat (either for want of food or want of stomach); comfort thyself with this and the like examples of the saints. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and what end the Lord made, James 5:11. He raiseth the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory, 1 Samuel 2:8. Again, let no man trust to his present prosperity. Job, who heretofore spake not to his subjects but from his throne, was now seated upon a dunghill; and his hands, accustomed to bear the sceptre, were employed to wipe the matter which distilled from his sores, as the French paraphrast hath it.


Verse 9

Job 2:9 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

Ver. 9. Then said his wife] Was this Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter? So the Jewish doctors say; and that Job had a fair daughter by her, whom Potipher married; and that of her came Asenaz, whom Joseph married. They tell us also (but who told them all this?) that she was hitherto spared, when all Job’s outward comforts were taken away, for Jacob her father’s sake. Moreover, the Septuagint here help her to scold, adding a whole verse of female passion: I must now, saith she, go wander, and have no place to rest in, &c. Job said nothing all this while; not because he was either insensible or sullen; but because it was God that did it, Psalms 39:2, and he had well deserved it, Micah 7:9. I will bear (thinks he) the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him. Yet, my soul, be silent to Jehovah, &c., Psalms 12:1. Satan therefore (who waited for his cursing of God, as a dog waiteth for a bone, but was defeated) cunningly setteth his wife awork, by her venomous words, to make him speak at least, and by her unseemly and sinful counsel, to draw him to do wickedly. Some think, saith Chrysostom, that the devil, in the shape of Job’s wife, spake thus unto him; and surely their words agree: He will curse thee to thy face, saith he; Curse God, and die, saith she. Chrysostom himself thinketh that the devil (if he spake not in her, yet) spake by her, as he did once to Eve by the serpent, and that he borrowed her mouth, using her as a strong engine to a wall of adamant, as the choicest arrow in his quiver, to wound Job’s righteous soul; and as a scaling ladder, whereby to get up into this impregnable tower, as Gregory hath it. He had tried this course before with Adam, and had singular success, Genesis 3:6; he had by his rib (as by a ladder) gotten up to his heart, Per costam tanquam per scalam ad cor Adami asceudit, Just as through a rib he scales the ladder to the heart of Adam, yea, with his rib broken his head, as one phraseth it, darting in death at the windows of his ears. This he assayed upon Job, but without effect; his ears were waxed up, his heart fixed, &c., although he could not but be vexed that his wife should do it; especially since hereby his servants and friends would be encouraged to do the like. O wives, saith one; the sweetest poison, the most desired evil, &c. (Greg. Moral. 1. 3, c. 8). Sir Thomas Moore was wont to say, that men commit faults often, women only twice, that they neither speak well, nor do well. This may be true of bad wives, such as Jezebel, who stirred up Ahab (of himself forward enough) to do wickedly with both hands earnestly, 1 Kings 21:25. This in Job’s wife might be a particular failing, though a foul one. Women are the weaker vessels, and naturally more passionate; they must have their allowance, as light gold hath. She in the text had no small trials, and he is a perfect man that offendeth not with his tongue.

Dost thou still retain thine integrity?] Cui bono, for what good, as he said; what gettest thou by it? Is not this thy fear, thy confidence; the uprightness of tby ways, and thy hope? Lo, Eliphaz (who should have had more grace and government of his tongue than Job’s wife) scoffeth religious Job, as some sense that text, Job 4:6, rendering the words thus: Is not thy fear (or religion) become thy folly? Where is now thine uprightness, and hope of reward? It is an ancient and an ordinary slur and slander cast upon the ways of God, as if they were unprofitable, as if God were an austere man, a parsimonious Lord; as if there were no gain in godliness, nothing to be got by it but knocks, crosses, losses, &c., whereas God is a rewarder of all those that diligently seek him, Hebrews 11:6. He recompenseth the losses of his people, as the king of Poland did his noble servant Zelislaus, to whom, having lost his hand in his wars, he sent a golden hand instead thereof. He rewardeth the sufferings of his saints, as Caligula the emperor did Agrippa, who had suffered imprisonment for wishing him emperor. The history saith, that when he came afterwards to the empire, the first thing he did was to prefer Agrippa, and gave him a chain of gold as heavy as the chain of iron that was upon him in prison. The devil could have told this peevish woman that Job did not serve God for nought, Job 1:9. See Malachi 1:10; Malachi 3:14. {See Trapp on "Malachi 1:10"} {See Trapp on "Malachi 3:14"}

Curse God, and die] What cursed counsel was this! and from her who should have administered conjugal help to him! How well might Job have turned her off with, Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me! These were the devil’s words, and not the woman’s, saith Chrysostom; it was her tongue, but the devil tuned it, saith Origen. Curse God, and die, for he will not endure thee to live, having once so set thy mouth against heaven, but will quickly set thee packing by a visible vengeance; or, Curse God, and then die by thine own hands, having first spit thy venom in his face for having handled thee so hardly, after so good service done him. Hacket did thus at the gallows, A.D. 1591, threatening to set fire on heaven, to pluck God out of his throne, if he would not show some miracle out of the clouds to convert those infidels that brought him to execution, and to deliver him from his enemies; having the rope about his neck, he lift up his eyes to heaven, and grinning, said, Dost thou repay me this for a kingdom bestowed? I come to revenge it, &c. O wretch! By the way observe, that Satan is a πεισοθανατος (as Hegesias the philosopher was called), a persuader of people, that death is an end, at least an ease, of outward troubles; when as to the wicked death is but a trap door to hell: we, silly fish, see one another jerked out of the pond of life; but we see not the fire and the frying pan whereunto those are cast that die in their sins, to whom all the sufferings of this life are but a typical hell, the beginning of those terrors and torments which they shall hereafter suffer, without any the least hope of ever either mending or ending.


Verse 10

Job 2:10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Ver. 10. But he said unto her] He did not start up, and lay upon her with his unmanly fist (Chrysostom saith it is the greatest reproach in the world for a man to beat his wife), but he reproveth her, and that sharply, as she deserved; and so did Jacob his best beloved Rachel, when the offence was against God, Genesis 30:2. A wise husband, saith Marcus Aurelius, must often admonish, never smite, and but seldom reprove, and that with the spirit of meekness too, Galatians 6:1; meekness of wisdom, James 3:13. That was wonderful patience that was exercised by Dr Cowper, bishop of Lincoln, who, when his wife had burnt all his notes, which he had been eight years in gathering, lest he should kill himself with overmuch study (for she had much ado to get him to his meals), showed not the least token of passion, but only replied, Indeed, wife, it was not well done; so, falling to work again, he was eight years in gathering the same notes, wherewith he composed his dictionary (Young’s Benef. of Afflict., 153). Job, though somewhat more tart, as reason required, the offence being of so high a nature, yet he breaks not out into fierce and furious language; he saith not, Go, go, thou art an arrant fool, a wicked woman, an abominable wretch, but,

Thou speakest like one of the foolish women] Like one of the women of Idumea, that have no sap of wisdom or goodness in them, but do whip their gods (as the Chinese are said to do at this day) when they cannot have what they would have of them, and revile them for neglecting their worshippers. Note here that Job’s wife might be a good woman for the main, though in this particular she did amiss; but it is a fault in God’s people when it shall be said unto them, Are ye not carnal, and walk as men? when it shall be said of God’s daughters, that they speak or act like one of the foolish women. David’s daughters were known by their party coloured garments; so should God’s, by the law of wisdom in their lips and lives, by their patient mind made known to all men, by their eximious and exemplary holiness. What, should Job’s wife, the governess of such a religious family, the yoke fellow of such a holy husband, be talking of cursing God! be speaking after the rate of profane Edomites! The heathen comedian can say, that she is a wise woman who can be well content to suffer hardship; and not repine that it is now worse with her than formerly it hath been; Quae aequae animo pati potest sibi esse peius quam fuit. Job would fain bring his wife to this, and therefore addeth,

What? shall we receive good? &c.] He seeketh to set her down, not with rage, but with reason; and that, indeed, is the right way of backing a reproof; wherein as there must be some warmth, so it may not be scalding hot. Words of reviling and disgrace, they scald, as it were; but words that tend to convince the judgment, and to stir up the conscience to a due consideration of the fault, they be duly warm, and tend to make the physic work the more kindly.

Shall we receive good at the hands of God, and not evil?] Shall we not eat the crust with the crumb? drink the sour with the sweet? bless God as well for taking away as for giving? accept of the chastisement of our iniquity? receive it patiently, thankfully, fruitfully? Shall we be all for comforts, and nothing at all for crosses? Is it not equal that we should share in both, since it is the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed? Genesis 49:28, Jacob is said to have blessed all his sons. Now he seemeth rather to curse Reuben, Simeon, and Levi; for he speaks only of evil to them; but because they were not rejected from being among God’s people, because they were not cut out of the list (as Dan afterwards was, 1 Chronicles 7:1; 1 Chronicles 7:13; 1 Chronicles 7:30, Revelation 7:7), though they were under great and sore afflictions, they are counted blessed. Doles quod amisisti? gaude quod evasisti, saith Seneca: Grievest thou at thy losses? be glad that thyself art escaped. Be ready at all hours to send God home again the blessings which he lent us with thankfulness. There is a complaint of some men, so ungrateful, that if you do them nineteen courtesies, and then deny them the twentieth, you lose all your thank with them; carry them on your back to the very suburbs of Rome, and not into the city itself, you do nothing for them (Auson.). God is not to be thus dealt with; especially since he altereth the property of those evils and crosses which he layeth upon us, turning them to our greatest good, Romans 8:28, like as the skilful apothecary turneth a poisonous viper into a wholesome antdote. Good, therefore, and worthy of all acceptation is that counsel of the wise man, "In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider." Consider? What? This, that "God also hath set the one over against the other," and, therefore, thou must take the one as well as the other, Ecclesiastes 7:14; that is but reasonable and equitable. Plato saith, that God doth always γεωμετρειν, act the geometrician, do and dispose of all things in number, weight, and measure; such an order and vicissitude he hath set of good and evil in the life of man, that they are, as it were, interwoven. Accept them, therefore, and acquiesce in them both, as the Hebrew word here signifieth.

In all this Job sinned not with his lips] Hitherto he did not, though in a pitiful pickle, and much provoked by the wife of his bosom. He did not murmur against God, nor let flee at his wife; he did not threaten her, as Lamech, nor fall out with the whole sex, as he that said, Femina nulla bona est. There is no good woman. He doth not wish himself single again, as Augustus saith; or hold himself, therefore, only unhappy because married, as Sulla did, Sylla faelix, si non habuisset uxorem. Sulla the blessed, if he had had no wife. No such unsavoury speech falls from Job’s lips, as the devil wished and waited for it. Neither doth it follow (as some Rabbis would infer from this text) that Job sinned in his heart though not with his lips (Chaldaeus Paraphrastes et Talmudici); for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth would have spoken. Look what water is in the well, the like will be in the bucket; and what stuff is in the warehouse, the like will be in the shop. If his heart had been exulcerate he would not meekly and wisely have withstood his wife’s motion to blaspheme. Hitherto, certainly, God had helped him. It was the uncouth and unkind carriage of his friends concurring with the increase of his bodily pain, besides the eclipse of inward comforts, that drew from him those passionate expressions, Job 3:1-26.


Verse 11

Job 2:11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.

Ver. 11. And when Job’s three friends] His familiar friends, that did eat of his bread, as Psalms 41:9, that were as his own soul, Deuteronomy 13:6, his bosom friends, and, therefore, precious jewels, such as could both keep counsel and give counsel. Of such there are but few to be found. Friends, there is no friend, said Socrates ( φιλοι, ουδεις φιλος). Faithful friends, saith another, are in this age all for the most part gone in pilgrimage, and their return is uncertain. A friend is a changeable creature, saith a third; all in changeable colours, like the peacock, as often changed as moved. Job complaineth of these his chief and choice friends, that they were miserable comforters, physicians of no value, &c., Job 16:2. Amicitia sit tantum inter binos, eosque bonos; Let such friendship be between two, there and good. such as were Jonathan and David, Corporibus geminis spiritus unus erat. The soul and the body were on one accord.

Heard of all this evil] Whether by the ministry of the good or bad angels, or of neither, it skilleth not. Ill news is swift of foot, saith the Greek proverb ( αι βλαβαι ποδωκεις); and like ill weather, which comes ere it be sent for. The sins and miseries of good people are much talked of, and soon rumoured abroad. The Chaldee paraphrast here telleth of strange businesses, viz. that these three here mentioned (besides the report they heard of Job’s calamity) were moved to visit him by the wonders that happened with them at the same time; for their trees suddenly withered in their orchard, their bread at their table was turned into raw flesh, their wine into blood, &c. But this may well pass for a Jewish fable: the author of that paraphrase was R. Joseph Caecus, nothing so ancient or authentic as he who paraphraseth upon the historical books, but exceedingly full of mistakes, and seldom cometh he near the right meaning of the text, all along the Hagiographa.

They came every one from his own place] More than these came to such a sight, no doubt; but these out of a desire and design to condole with him, and comfort him. But it happened far otherwise; for they tormented Job well nigh as much as Satan himself; though it were by ignorance, and unwittingly, rather than by ill will, or premeditated malice. Their very silence and gesture, before ever they spake a word, did so torment his mind, that at last he cries out in that bitter manner, as Job 3:1-26., like a frantic man, which, through some grievous sickness, hath lost his wits.

Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, &c.] Idumeans all, likely, and men of much estimation for wisdom {Jeremiah 49:7, "Is wisdom no more in Teman?"} and godliness, as descended all of Abraham, whose care was to catechise his whole family, and to teach them the ways of God, Genesis 18:19. Their following disputations show as much, wherein they admonish him to repent; assuring him that he could be no less than a gross sinner, and a hypocrite, because so grievously afflicted. Job answereth their various speeches, tormented in body, perplexed in mind, but stoutly defending his own innocence, and seeming to tax the Lord also; like as dogs in a chase bark at their own masters

To this his friends reply sharply from Job 15:1-35; Job 16:1-22; Job 17:1-16; Job 18:1-21; Job 19:1-29; Job 20:1-29; Job 21:1-34; Job 22:1-30, and he answereth them again with greater boldness and courage than before. Hereupon they begin a second reply, and here Eliphaz and Bildad only spake; the third man fainted and spake no more, for that Job was invincible, &c., till at length Elihu moderateth, censuring both parties; and God determineth, to Job’s conviction and final commendation.

For they had made an appointment together to come] Not by accident, or at adventure, as Origen will needs have it against the text; but by solemn agreement: it was a pitched meeting. Neither stayed they till they were sent for, but came, as friends, to do Job all friendly offices; like as, in a fright, the blood and spirits run to the heart to relieve it. "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity," Proverbs 17:17. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 17:17"}

To mourn with him] Heb. To shake the head, or other parts of the body, in token of commiseration; to bewail his condition, as Cyprian did the persecuted saints of his time, Cum singulis pectus meum copulo, I join with him with the singleness of my heart, saith he Moeroris pondera luctuosa participo, &c. With heaviness of heart I join weaping, "Who is offended, and I burn not?" 2 Corinthians 11:29.

And to comfort him] This they intended, but proved miserable comforters too, by reason of the deceitfulness of their hearts, fitly, therefore, compared to a broken or a deceitful bow, that carrieth the arrow a clean contrary way, Psalms 78:57. The word rendered to comfort, signifieth likewise to mourn with the mourning of repentance, to teach us here to begin our pity to others, to bewail their and our own sins. So Jonah prayed unto the Lord, Jonah 4:2. He thought to have prayed, but it proved that he brawled: {See Trapp on "Jonah 4:2"} These men’s words were as a murdering weapon in Job’s bones; pious they were and divine all along, but much misapplied. It is said of them that they handled an ill matter well, and Job a good cause as ill, especially when once he came to be wet through.


Verse 12

Job 2:12 And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.

Ver. 12. And when they lift up their eyes afar off] Hence some conclude that Job lay abroad, as lepers used.

And knew him not] For they had never seen him before but in a splendidious fashion; now then to see him in such a pickle, that he had lost all form and fashion, more like a dead beast than a living man; this amazed and amused them; they might also by this, so sad a spectacle, be admonished of their own mutable and miserable condition ( Aut sumus, aut fuimus, aut possumus esse quod hic est either we are, or will be or are able to be because this is), and have the same thoughts as the psalmist afterwards had, Man, being in honour, abideth not, Psalms 45:1-2; he is like the beasts that perish, pecoribus morticinis, dead hearts, saith Tremellius, the beasts that die of the murrain, and so become carrion, and are good for nothing. Job was now no otherwise to be seen than as a stinking carcase full of sores, more like than a living man, as he painteth out himself in most lively colours.

They lifted up their voice and wept] Good men are apt to do so, saith the poet, et faciles motus mens generosa capit; we are bound to weep with those that weep, and to be both pitiful and courteous, 1 Peter 3:8. To him that is in misery pity should be showed from his friend (it was so to Job here at first), but he forsaketh the fear of the Lord, Job 6:14. Job’s friends did so, when, amazed with the greatness of his calamity, they there hence concluded him an arrant hypocrite, unworthy of any one word of comfort.

And they rent every one his mantle] His stately mantle, his robe of state, such as men of great honour used to wear, Stolam regiam. royal garment. Some Hebrews and Jesuits will have these three friends of Job to have been kings; such I believe they were, as the three kings of Collen; so the Papists call those wise men, Matthew 2:1, be they what they will; they rent every man his mantle in token of greatest sorrow at their friend’s calamity, a ceremony not unusual among other nations than those of the East. Suetonius telleth us that Julius Caesar, when he had passed his army to river Rubicon, and was marching toward Rome, he made a speech to his soldiers, weeping and rending his garment, that thereby he might testify to them what a grief it was to him to fight against his country; which he would never have done had there not been a necessity.

And sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven] They so threw it up into the air that it might fall upon their heads; to import, 1. That all things were full of sorrowful confusion, as here earth and air were mingled. 2. That themselves and all mortals were but dust, Genesis 18:27, a little dirt neatly made up, and to dust they should return, Genesis 3:19, little deserving in the mean while to tread upon the earth, or to be above ground, Joshua 7:6. See Job 1:16.


Verse 13

Job 2:13 So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that [his] grief was very great.

Ver. 13. So they sat down with him on the ground] Though his scent and loathsomeness were intolerable, yet they bare him company; this was love and sympathy, thus to sit by him on the ground, then, when every one loathed him, and would not lend him a hand to help to scrape him.

Seven days and seven nights] Not all this time, but the most part of it, without giving almost any regard to their ordinary rest and necessary sustenance. Origen saith, they were sustained and preserved all that while without sleep and meat, by a miracle; others, holding it a thing impossible, have, therefore, judged this whole book to be a parable only.

And none spake a word unto him] So great was their grief, Curae leves loquuntur, ingentes stupent. They speak of light care, they are astounded not natural. Calvin thinks they were to blame to be so long silent. Belike they were loth to be troublesome, and waited a fit opportunity; looking that he should speak first, and harbouring hard conceits of him.

For they saw that his grief was very great] His pain was extreme, and, therefore, no time to talk with him. Besides, though they came prepared, yet, altering their opinions of him, they doubted how and what to speak, till at length they became Satan’s advocates.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 2:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-2.html. 1865-1868.

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