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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Job 31

 

 

Verse 1

Job 31:1 I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

Ver. 1. I made a covenant with mine eyes] This chapter, since it is one of the largest in all the book, so it is elegant, various, and very full of matter; for it shows us, as in a mirror, both what we should do and what we should not do. Good Melancthon, about the beginning of the Reformation, mournfully complained, Quos fugiamus habemus; quos sequamur non intelligimus, We have whom to flee from (meaning the Papists), but whom to follow, we yet understand not (by reason of the many divisions among Protestants). But here we may be at a better certainty; by treading in Job’s footsteps, and striving to express him to the world; who against all the cavils and calumnies of his foe friends, makes it out here, that he is no hypocrite or flagitious person as they falsely charged him, but a man fearing God and eschewing evil, Job 1:1. Let therefore as many as would be perfect be thus minded and thus mannered; propounding to themselves the highest pitch and the best patterns; resolving to resemble them as much as may be. Here we have Job’s holy care to flee fornication as a deadly evil; by avoiding the occasion, by taking bonds of his senses, and by doing all be could to be out of the way when the temptation came. Austin thanks God that the temptation and his heart met not. Job would prevent that mischief by laying laws upon his eyes, those windows of wickedness and loop holes of lust, the very door and bait of all evil concupiscence, Matthew 5:29, 1 John 2:16, that flesh pleaslng lust, that nest egg of the devil (as one wittily calleth it), that eldest child of old Adam’s strength, bearing name of the mother, which is called in general, lust, or concupiscence. Now that Job might not lust, he would not look on a forbidden object; for he knew that wanton glances cause contemplative wickedness; such as will soon break out into foul practices; as ill humours in the body do into sores and blotches, εκ του οραν γινεταιτο εραν, Ut vidi, ut perii! - oculi sunt in amore duces.

Why then should I think upon a maid?] Contemplarer in virginem, Lustfully consider her beauty, till my heart be hot as an oven with lawless lusts, and my body wollows in the mire of that abominable filth. For unbridled lust, like the wild fig, will soon mount over the wall; and those base, vain, wanton, capering thoughts will break out, if not timely suppressed; if we handle them not roughly at the door (as Elisha said), their master’s feet will not be far behind them. Quell them therefore and crush them in the egg; it is not safe being at Satan’s meal, though our spoon be never so long; remember, that of looking comes thinking; and of thinking, worse. Look upon the woeful chain of David’s lust, and remember how many have died of the wound in the eye. The basilisk slayeth with his sight. Circe {In Greek and Latin mythology the name of an enchantress who dwelt in the island of Aea, and transformed all who drank of her cup into swine; often used allusively.} will enchant all that behold her. Irregular glancing, or inordinate gazing, is that which metamorphoseth a man into a beast, and makes him a prey to his own brutish affections. Hence David prayeth, "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity," Psalms 119:37. Job here steppeth one degree further, from a prayer to a vow; yea, from a vow to an imprecation, Job 31:7. That his eyes should be eyes of adamant, that will turn only to one point; that he would not look but where he might lawfully like. Saints have a single eye (and contrariwise the wicked, Hosea 3:1), like that Persian lady, who being at the marriage of Cyrus, and afterwards asked how she liked the bridegroom? How? said she, I know not; I saw no one but my husband. Charles V used to clap to his casement; and the young Lord Harrington to pull his hat over his eyes when fair ladies passed along.


Verse 2

Job 31:2 For what portion of God [is there] from above? and [what] inheritance of the Almighty from on high?

Ver. 2. For what portion of God is there from above?] What but a portion with the devil and hypocrites? The unjust are reserved unto the day of judgment to be punished, saith Peter; but chiefly, they that walk after the flesh, in the lust of uncleanness, 2 Peter 2:9-10. Such shall have a specialty of punishment, even the hottest fire in hell; and hereby Job frighted his conscience from this foul sin; and well he might: did men but consider what sin would cost them, they durst not but be innocent; but the hope of impunity hardeneth them, and so hasteneth their destruction. Hac, tanquam lena, semper usus est antiquus ille serpens, this hope, as a bawd, that old manslayer hath ever made use of to allure men into wickedness (Merlin). But set the threats of God’s word (such as are 1 Corinthians 6:9, Hebrews 13:3, Ephesians 5:3) against this sin, and the sin is laid. Satan can no more abide by it than an owl by the shining of the sun. A man will be loth to fetch gold out of a fiery crucible.

Or, What inheritance of the Almighty from on high?] God, and Almighty, and from above, and from on high. By all these expressions Job affecteth himself with the due apprehension of the Divine majesty, that he may be wise, and beware how he fall into the punishing hands of this living God. "The Lord your God," saith Moses to the people, "is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible," &c., Deuteronomy 10:16-17. "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your hearts"; cut off and cast away that filthy foreskin; shave your eyebrows (as the leper was to do), pull out your right eyes, &c. So Joshua; God, saith he, "is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins," sc. unless you will part with them, though never so dear or delicious, Joshua 24:19.


Verse 3

Job 31:3 [Is] not destruction to the wicked? and a strange [punishment] to the workers of iniquity?

Ver. 3. Is not destruction to the wicked?] Yes, that is their portion, their inheritance; and so Job makes answer to his own question proposed in the preceding verse. The ruin of impure souls is infallible, unsupportable, unavoidable; if God hath aversion from all other sinners, he hath hatred and horror for the unchaste; such stinking goats shall be set on the left hand, and sent to hell; where they shall have so much the more of punishment as they had here of sensual and sinful pleasure, as sour sauce to their sweet meats, Revelation 18:7. Not to speak of the miseries they meet with here, which are not a few: in their souls, hardness of heart, or horror of conscience: in their bodies, foul and loathsome diseases, such as will stick to them when their best friends forsake them: in their names, indelible reproach and infamy; like an iron mole, which nothing can fetch out; like the leprosy, which could never be scraped out of the walls: in their estates, poverty, even to a piece of bread, Proverbs 6:26. Harlots are poscinummia, crumenimulgae, suck purses, Luke 15:14. In their posterity, as Jericho was built, so is uncleanness plagued, both in the eldest and youngest; it goes through the race, till it have wasted all.

Corpus, opes, animam, famam, vim, lumina, Scortum

Debilitat, perdit, necat, aufert, eripit, orbat.

And a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?] Even such as is unusual and extraordinary; as upon the Sodomites, who, going after strange flesh, were thrown forth for an example, as Jude hath it, 1:7. So those Benjamites, 20:12-15; 20:43-48; the Trojans; the Lacedemonians at Leuctra; Zimri and Cozbi; Zedekiah and Ahab, Jeremiah 29:22; Eli’s two sons; Heraclius, the emperor; Muleasses, king of Tunis, in Barbary, bereft by his own son Amida (another Absalom), not of his kingdom only, but of his eyes too, put out with a burning hot iron; those eyes of his that had been full of adultery, and could not cease to sin. In Hebrew the same word signifieth both an eye and a fountain; to show, saith one, that from the eye, as a fountain, floweth both sin and misery.


Verse 4

Job 31:4 Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?

Ver. 4. Doth he not see my ways, and count, &c.] Yea, sure he doth so; and the conscience of God’s omniscience, who would soon take him tripping, kept him from this great wickedness. So it did Joseph, but so it did not David; who is, therefore, said to despise God and his commandment, [2 Samuel 12:9-10] to do evil in his sight; and this was no small aggravation of his offence. Ne pecces, Deus ipse videt. "I have seen the lewdness of thy whoredom," Jeremiah 13:27. "Even I know, and am a witness, saith the Lord," Jeremiah 29:23. That should be a powerful retentive from vice, Proverbs 5:21.

And count all my steps?] Doth not he cipher them up? Habens omnia in numerato; not my ways only, my counsels and cogitations, but my steps also, that is, all mine outward attempts and actions. A most needful and useful consideration surely, to keep men within the compass of obedience. See this doctrine of God’s singular providence plainly and plentifully set forth, Psalms 139:1-4.


Verse 5

Job 31:5 If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit;

Ver. 5. If I have walked with vanity] As they do who disquiet themselves in vain, in heaping up riches by evil arts, by deceits and covin in bargaining; by getting other men’s means fraudulently, &c. "The getting of treasures by a lying tongue" (or any the like indirect course) "is a vanity tossed to and fro for them who seek death," Proverbs 21:6. Eventually such do seek death, though not intentionally; they spin a fair thread to strangle themselves, both temporally and eternally. Such vain and vile ways, therefore, Job carefully declined; for he knew them to be both base and bootless, Furtum a Virg. vocatur inane (Aeneid 6). Ephraim fed upon the wind, the balances of deceit were in his hand; if, thereby, he filled his purse with coin, yet he had emptiness in his soul; Lucrum in arca, damnum in conscientia: filled he was with air, and that air was pestilential too; his breath and death he drew in together. Job would have none of that.

Or if my foot hath hasted to deceit] If I have been nimble and active to go beyond and defraud another in any matter, 1 Thessalonians 4:6, which, what is it else but crimea stellionatus, the very sin of deception? and this not only acted, but arted, after long trading in it, as the words of walking and hasting seem to import.


Verse 6

Job 31:6 Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.

Ver. 6. Let me be weighed in an even balance] Heb. Let him weigh me; Examine me, saith Tremellius. David, with the like confidence, Search me, O God, saith he, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, any course of sin that is grievous to God or man, wherein I have walked, or my foot hath hasted, Psalms 139:23-24. Job would not rest in his own heart’s applause; neither would he be borne down by his friends’ false charges; but puts himself into God’s hands to be weighed, and then makes no question but his present sufferings will be found heavier than his former miscarriages, in his interdealings with men for matter of gain; and that there is some other cause (though what he knoweth not) for which God doth so grievously afflict him. See David doing the like, Psalms 7:4; Psalms 26:2.

That God may know mine integrity] i.e. That he may make known mine innocence and upright heartedness in this particular of commerce with others; that I have not dealt deceitfully. Otherwise, if God should weigh the best that are in a balance, they would be found too light; if he mark iniquities no man living can be justified, Psalms 130:3; Psalms 143:2. If he turn up the bottom of the bag all our secret thefts will out, and come to reckoning. It is an idle conceit of some ignorant folk, that God will weigh their good deeds against their bad; and they shall well enough set off with him by the one for the other. This they have drawn (as they have not a few other fopperies) from that practice of Popish priests; to persuade people that when men are at point of death, St Michael, the archangel, bringeth a pair of balances, and putteth in one scale their good works, and in the other their sins; and that if those weigh down these, they are saved, as if otherwise, they are damned. But what saith an ancient, Vae hominum vitae etiamsi laudabili, &c., Woe to the best man alive if God should weigh him in a balance of justice; since his sins would be found heavier than the sands of the sea, Job 9:15; Job 10:15.


Verse 7

Job 31:7 If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands;

Ver. 7. If my step hath turned out of the way] sc. Of justice and equity, in trading and trafficking to get the mammon of unrighteousness. No; the sun might sooner be turned out of his course (as it was once said of Fabricius) than Job out of the track of truth and honesty; he had laid laws upon his feet, his eyes, and his hands too; binding them all to the good behaviour: witness the next words.

And mine heart walked after mine eyes] As it doth too often, to coveting other men’s goods; which St John calleth the lust of the eyes, 1 John 2:16. Alexander the Great called the Persian maids Dolores oculorum, the griefs of the eyes. The wedge of gold and Babylonish garment proved to be so to covetous Achan, Joshua 7:21, and Naboth’s vineyard to that no good Ahab, 1 Kings 21:2. He was even sick of it, and could not be cured but by a salad out of it. Hence the law flatly forbiddeth men to go after the sight of their eyes and the lust of their hearts; for these are seldom sundered, Numbers 15:39, Ecclesiastes 11:9. Unruly eyes, like Jacob’s sheep, too firmly fixed on unlawful objects, make the affections bring forth spotted fruit. Job would, therefore, set a guard upon them, lest they should prove brokers of wickedness to the heart; as that hang by Hiram, the Adullamite, was to Judah, Genesis 38:20. There is an easy passage for evil through the eyes into the heart, saith Quintilian, Oculus et cor sunt proxenetae peccati (Hebr. Proverb).

And if any blot hath cleaved to my hands] If I have been fingering that which was not fit for me to meddle with; viz. evil gotten goods, whether by bribery, usury, deceit, or the like; the very touching whereof will blot aud benumb the hands, as Pliny writeth of the fish torpedo; and as scholars know that Demosthenes, a great lawyer, by poising Harpalus’s goblet, was tempted and swayed to favour his cause, to the great danger of his country, and his own indelible infamy.


Verse 8

Job 31:8 [Then] let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out.

Ver. 8. Then let me sow, and another eat] God loves to retaliate; and let him do so to me, according to that he hath threatened, Deuteronomy 28:30, &c., and as he executed upon Laban, Nabal, Saul, Haman, others. The Greeks have a proverb,

Aλλοι μεν σπειρουσ αλλοι δ αν αμησονται.

Some sow that which others reap. This Job wisheth may befall, if he had been oppressive and injurious, as Eliphaz had wrongfully accused him, Job 22:6.

Yea, let my offspring be rooted out] Or, Let that which I have planted be plucked up by the roots. It is commonly seen that oppressors and unconscionable persons procure their own ruth and ruin; and he that gathereth the fruits of another man’s tree pulleth his own up by the roots.

Oι αυτω κακα τευχει ανηρ, αλλω κακα τευχων.

Those who spoil houses which they builded not, Job 20:19, shall, when they cease to spoil, be made a spoil; and when they have made an end of dealing treacherously, be treacherously dealt with themselves, Isaiah 13:1.


Verse 9

Job 31:9 If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, or [if] I have laid wait at my neighbour’s door;

Ver. 9. If my heart hath been deceived by a woman] By a female sinner, as they call such, a strange woman (as the Scripture), whose lips are snares, whose hands are bands, whose words are cords to draw a man in, as an ox to the slaughter, Proverbs 7:21, whose face is as a glass, wherein while larks gaze they are taken in a day net ( פחה, Hinc πειθω, persuadeo). Here Job disavoweth and disclaimeth the sin of adultery, purging himself, as it were, by oath, as before he had done of fornication, and of wrong dealing. These sins he reckoneth up, either as they came to mind, or else in such order as men are many times tempted to them. Young people are prone to fornication; Job, when young, had kept himself clear from that iniquity. When men have got some years over their heads, and are entered into the world, as they call it, they usually grow greedy and gripple; they are set upon it, and will be rich, however they come by it. Job was none such either, Job 31:5; Job 31:7. Afterwards, when married, they are sick of a pleurisy; and as the devil, who sets them to work, they long to be sowing another man’s ground, Matthew 13:25. The temptation to fornication is strong, but to adultery stronger, Adulterium quasi ad alterius torum. God doth often punish fornication, unrepented of, with strong and vexing honings and hankerings after strange flesh. But Job either was never troubled in this way; or else, when the temptation came, he was sure to be ever out of the way. The devil’s fire fell upon wet tinder; and if he knocked at Job’s door, there was no one at home to look out at the window and let him in; for he considered the punishment both human, Job 31:11, and divine, Job 31:12, due to this great wickedness.

Or if I have laid wait at my neighbour’s door] Either as waiting the opportunity of his absence, as Proverbs 7:19, or as insinuating myself into her familiarity, while she was standing in her door. Of the Italian women one giveth this character, That though witty in speech, and modest in outward appearance, yet they are magpies at the door, goats in the garden, devils in the house, angels in the streets, and syrens in the windows. Job’s heart was not deceived by any such; neither sought he to defraud his brother in any such matter, 1 Thessalonians 4:5-6. {See Trapp on "John 8:4"}


Verse 10

Job 31:10 [Then] let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her.

Ver. 10. Then let my wife grind unto another] i.e. Let her be his slave, as Lamentations 5:13, Exodus 11:5, Matthew 24:41; or rather, let her be his whore; and may my sin, which hath served her for example, serve her also for excuse. Not that Job would hereby license his wife to commit filthiness (as those Lituanians, who have their connubii adiutores, co-helpers in wedlock, and prize them far above all their acquaintance, as Maginus relateth, Alienas permolere uxores (Horat.). Sic μυλλειν, i.e. molere, apud Theocrit. est coire; and as some wits among us, panders to their own beds, who, either for gain or for a quiet life, wink at their wives’ disloyalty; and, as woodculvers or silly hedge sparrows, hatch and bring up that which cuckoos lay in their nests), but to set forth by this horrible imprecation how extremely he abhorred the sin of adultery.

And let others bow down upon her] A clean expression of an unclean act. Some Borborologi podicem ex ore faciunt, being like ducks, that ever have their noses puddling in puddles: sic hi spurcitias Veneris eliminant, delight in ribaldry and obscene language; as did Proculus, the emperor, and before him, that beast Tiberius. These are to be avoided as pests and botches of human society. So also are stage plays for that very cause, as the brothels of bawdry, the corrupters of youth, the canker of the commonwealth, as Plato, a heathen, complained. Filthiness and fornication should not be once named among Christians, Ephesians 5:3. Groves were flatly forbidden by God to be planted near the places of his worship; in detestation of that heathenish custom of Priapus’s worshippers, promiscuously satisfying their lusts in a thicket after they had sacrificed; thereby, as they conceived, best pleasing their god.


Verse 11

Job 31:11 For this [is] an heinous crime; yea, it [is] an iniquity [to be punished by] the judges.

Ver. 11. For this is an heinous crime] Hoc enim grande flagitium est, so the Tigurines translate; for this is a wickedness with a witness, though counted by some a light offence, a peccadillo. The Popish priests, deeply guilty of it themselves, seldom cried out against it in their sermons; this the great ones, and others, observed; and, therefore, ran into it, as if it had been a venial sin, if any sin at all. But we have not so learned Christ; and there was once found an English bishop (Adelm, elect bishop of Sherborn, A.D. 705) who boldly and sharply reproved Pope Sergius to his face for this foul sin (Godwin. Catal. p. 333). Joseph calleth it a great wickedness, Genesis 39:9, because a breach of the bond of loyalty, which cannot but be treachery; as also because it destroys society and the purity of posterity, stealing sometimes an heir into the estate.

Yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges] Since it is a theft of that which is most precious and most peculiar to the owner; as Joseph told his mistress, Genesis 39:9; the suspicion or jealousy of it raiseth the rage of a man to such a height that it will not be allayed without revenge, Proverbs 6:34-35. Some render it, iniquitas iudicata, an iniquity already adjudged capital. The Hebrew hath it, an iniquity of the judges; that is, that which judges should severely punish. Before the law Tamar was to have been burnt for it, Genesis 38:24, as under the law the high priest’s daughter, Leviticus 21:9. Ahab and Zedekiah were roasted in the fire for this offence by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, Jeremiah 29:22-23. Some think that these two were the elders that assaulted Susanna. The Egyptians cut off the harlot’s nose, and the adulterer’s members. Ezekiel, Ezekiel 23:25, alludeth to this custom. The Locrians pulled out their eyes. The Julian law, among the Romans, adjudged them to die; and Jerome saith this law was yet in force in his time; but the poet complaineth that, for want of due execution, it lay dormant, Lex Iulia dormit; as many other good laws do by the baseness and partiality of the judges, such as were those Athenian judges, who, having before them Phryne, that notable strumpet, were about to pass sentence of death upon her; but when her advocate, Hyperides, had opened her bosom, and showed them her beautiful breasts to move them to mercy, they acquitted her, and let her go (Plutarch, Vit. 10; Rhetor. in Hyper.). In like sort also they dealt with the dame of Smyrna, whom they appointed to appear some hundred years after. How much better the old Saxons, who, while they were yet heathens, made a law, and saw it well executed, that the adulteress should be first strangled, and then burnt in a bonfire, over which the adulterer was to be hanged in chains, and burnt to death by degrees? And of another heathen people we read, that they put the adulterers’ and adulteresses’ heads into the paunch of a beast, where all the filth lieth, and so stifled them to death.


Verse 12

Job 31:12 For it [is] a fire [that] consumeth to destruction, and would root out all mine increase.

Ver. 12. For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction] Ad Gehennam usque, to the place of destruction. Heb. to Abaddon, that burneth as low as hell itself. In case men should be slack to punish this heinous crime, yet whoremongers and adulterers God will judge, Hebrews 13:3, shutting them out of heaven, Revelation 22:15 (for what should any such dirty dog do trampling on that golden pavement?), and thrusting them into hell, as he did the filthy Sodomites, 1:7, beside that hell above ground which he rained from heaven upon them, hot fire for their burning lusts, and stinking brimstone for their stinking brutishness. How God signally punished this sin in Charles II, king of Navarre, roasting him to death. {See Trapp on "Genesis 19:24"} Joan of Naples also, and Mary of Arragon, wife to the Emperor Otho III, burnt at a stake, are set upon record as instances of the Divine displeasure against adultery, a fire which burns hearts and consumes houses.

And would root out all mine increase] Leaving me nothing. As a devouring fire burns up men, cattle, houses, corn, trees, &c.; so doth this sin all a man’s income, baring him to the very bones, and exhausting him to the utmost: so that, like Tiberius at Capreae, he doth indies perire, which is a bitterness beyond that of death, Ecclesiastes 7:26. Or like Samson, befooled and bereft of all by Delilah, who had not her name for nought, for it comes from Dalal, to exhaust and impoverish. And indeed such kind of creatures do ordinarily drain the strength, exhaust the purses, dry up the credit, waste and consume the all of the mightiest Samsons, besides the loss of their immortal souls, and perpetual shame at the last day (when all their faults shall be written in their foreheads), unless the matter be taken up in the judge’s privy chamber of mercy; and unless, by timely repentance, course be taken to stop his open judicial proceeding in court.


Verse 13

Job 31:13 If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me;

Ver. 13. If I did despise the cause of my many, errant, &c.] Servants of old (among the heathen especially) were mere slaves to their masters according to the flesh, who had power to use them at their pleasure, as they did their cattle. A servant (saith Aristotle) is the master’s instrument, and wholly his ολων εκεινου. He might do what he would to them, saith Seneca, even to the taking away of their lives, without danger of law. But Job held with the same Seneca, that posse et nolle nobile est; and that in some cases, Nimis angusta innocentia est, ad legem bonum esse; that utmost right is utmost wrong; and that there will come a reckoning afterwards, the forethought whereof awed him, and swayed him to do his servants right, when he might have oppressed them and tyrannized over them; as now the Turks do over their galley slaves. Of Archbishop Cranmer it is recorded, that he never raged so far with any of his household servants as once to call the meanest of them varlet or knave in anger. Tremellius, who was for a time entertained in his house, saith of it, that it was schola vel palaestra pietatis et literarum, A school or nursery of piety and learning. And therefore what wonder that there was so good accord between him and his family, when there was so careful a performance of domestic duties, and he was not a better man than a master? Think the same of Job, discontents might occur in his house, and complaints might be made, which he heard with patience, and then set all to rights again, taking course that he might be both loved and feared by all about him.


Verse 14

Job 31:14 What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him?

Ver. 14. What then shall I do when God riseth up, &c.] Job considered that he had a Master in heaven, Colossians 4:1; that there is one higher than the highest, Ecclesiastes 5:8, with whom there is no respect of persons, but whereever any deal proudly, God is above them, Exodus 18:11. These and the like humbling considerations, and not any placability or natural courteousness, made him deal thus fairly and kindly with his servants; how much more, then, with his wife and children!

And when he visiteth, what shall I answer?] Job looked to be visited, and called to an account of his household government. It is a good saying of a heathen, Ita vivamus, &c., Let us so live as those that must render an account of all we do (Cic. 4 in Verr.). And that which the ruffian in Seneca scoffeth at in the sober young man is true of the godly in a sense more divine, Ita laborat, ita ludit, ita coenat, ita potat, ita loquitur, ita vivit, ut qui Ephemeridas patri est approbaturus; that is, he so laboureth, so sporteth, so eateth, so drinketh, so speaketh, so liveth, as he that must approve his day books to his father. Job was not to learn that there is a way of upright walking in our houses, so as God will come to us, if our houses be rightly ordered, Psalms 101:2, and we shall look him in the face with comfort; for it is called there a perfect way, in opposition to hypocrisy. Now uprightness hath boldness.


Verse 15

Job 31:15 Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?

Ver. 15. Did not he that made me in the womb, make him?] In which regard have not we all one Father, and hath not one God created us? Malachi 2:10. Is it not he who formeth and shapeth us, and all by the book, Psalms 139:16. We are all of all sorts in this respect (whether kings or captives, lords or lowlies), made of the same mould, hewn out of the same rock, digged out of the same pit, cut out of the same piece, the shears only going between, as they say. Thus for our bodies, and for our better part, is not the meanest made in God’s image, and as capable of heaven, if God please, as the greatest? In the law the servant paid the half shekel as well as the master; and in Christ Jesus, as there is neither Jew nor Greek, so neither bond nor free, Galatians 3:28. Truth it is, God hath made these distinctions and degrees among men, but himself is no respecter of persons. He acknowledgeth no faces (so the Hebrew expresseth it). He taketh no notice of any man’s outward condition, as country, sex, wisdom, wealth, dignity, &c. These neither please God nor displease him, but as they are in a good or bad man; as a cipher by itself is nothing without a figure before it. This reason wrought with Job, and should do, doubtless, with all superiors, to bring them to a moderation. Why should a poor man be slighted or brow beaten? Is he not God’s handiwork also? Was he not made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth? Psalms 139:15, that is, in his mother’s womb, as it followeth.

And did not one (that is God) fashion (Heb. apt or fit) us in the womb?] Quum fortuna, non natura eos fecerit servos, cur, propter fortunam, eos contemptiores habuissem? Forasmuch as not Nature, but Providence, hath made them my servants, why should I for that cause deal hardly with them; and not rather favour them the more, for our common condition of birth, and death, and coming to judgment? Apte et concinne elaboravit (Brent.). Servus αυναδελφος vei ομοδελφος domini sui est.


Verse 16

Job 31:16 If I have withheld the poor from [their] desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail;

Ver. 16. If I have withheld the poor from their desire] The poor man speaketh supplications, he comes to the rich with his God help me, as Lazarus did, Luke 16:20-21, his very name speaks as much, but the rich answereth him roughly, Proverbs 18:23 Either the answer cutteth off half the petition, as the echo doth the voice; or else he is commanded ad quercum dicere, to tell his tale to the statues and images, as Diogenes used to do; for of living men he could get no hearing. But Job’s suitors sped better. Pennyless they were, but not friendless; drawn dry (as the Hebrew word importeth) and such as whose wealth was utterly wasted; but Job shored them up and supplied them. And this he did readily, and at the first asking; they no sooner desired relief but they had it. Job was a cheerful giver, he neither denied nor delayed those that came to him for relief or refuge. Multi contra studiose causas inquirunt quibus se a benefaciendo cohibeant (Merlin). Many seek occasion to put off poor people, and to rid their hands of them.

Or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail] Viduae saepe sunt verecundae (Mercer). Widows many times are modest; their eyes are weakened with much weeping, while they remember their former comforts and present crosses. This good Job considered, and therefore soon condescended to their requests. He held it enough that their hearts ached, and would not suffer their eyes to ache with expecting his help, but speedily sped them.

H χαρις η βραδυπους αχαρις εστι χαρις.


Verse 17

Job 31:17 Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof;

Ver. 17. Or have eaten my morsel myself alone] As that churl Nabal did, and therefore merited the title of Pamphagus. Many rich wretches are like little children, who, though they have their mouths full of food and both their hands full, yet will part with none to another, but rather mar it. The richer they are the harder, as Dives; whom, to upbraid, Lazarus was laid in the bosom of liberal Abraham, of whom it is recorded, that he sat in the door of his tent in the heat of the day (the usual time of repose and repast) purposely to invite passengers, Genesis 18:1. He pursued hospitality, as the apostle’s expression is, Romans 12:13, and a very hearty householder he was. Think the same of Job, whose cup overflowed into other men’s lesser vessels, as Psalms 23:5, neither did anything he eat do him good without some good company to take part with him. Charity is no churl. Of a certan bishop of Lincoln the story is told, that he never thought he had that thing which he did not give, Quod nondum dederit, nondum se credit habere. Hoc habeo quodcunque dedi, saith Seneca; and another (Martial),

Quas dederis solas, semper habebis, opes.

And the fatherless hath not eaten thereof] These were his fellow commoners; and the like is reported of Charles the Great, and of Bishop Hooper, who had his board of beggars, widows, and orphans sent for to his palace in Worcester, and served every day with whole and wholesome meats ere himself sat down to dinner. Neither were these any losers by their liberality. The flowers hurt not their own fruit, though they yield honey to the painful bee. The sun loseth not light, though it lend it to the moon. But as the moon, the fuller she is of light the farther she gets from the sun, and as the sun moveth slowest when he is highest in the zodiac; so are those farthest off from bounty, for the most part, who abound most in plenty. Your fattest men have the least blood, and your richest men do the least good. Whereas those that are rich in this world should be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate to widows and fatherless especially, sith those are God’s own clients, 1 Timothy 6:17.


Verse 18

Job 31:18 (For from my youth he was brought up with me, as [with] a father, and I have guided her from my mother’s womb;)

Ver. 18. For from my youth he was brought up with me, &c.] i.e. Ever since I could do anything it hath been my delight to be doing good to the poor orphans, whom I have tenderly bred, as a father useth to breed his children. Non est vulgare Dei donum, saith Mercer, This is no ordinary mercy for men to be of a merciful disposition and melting hearted toward the poor and necessitous, as some are naturally, and from the womb. Such are said to have been Artaxerxes Longimanus, Titus the emperor, Otho III, Stephen king of Hungary, Oswald king of England, &c.

And I have guided her from my mother’s womb] Ductavi illam, meaning the widow, or the orphan, to whom I have been a manly guide, and that of a child little. See the previous note. Sutton’s hospitals and many more monuments of charity in this kind are worthily alleged by some of our divines, to prove that, for their time and ability, Protestants have equalled and exceeded Papists in this way of good works. Job’s desire of doing good appeared early, as if it had been born with him; like as Plutarch writeth of Coriolanus, that he was so natural and expert a soldier, that he might seem to have been born with his arms upon his back and his weapons in his hands, εγγενη και εμφυτα..


Verse 19

Job 31:19 If I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering;

Ver. 19. If I have seen any perish for want of clothing] Job was ad omnem humanitatem effectus atque assuefactus. This liberal man devised liberal things; and as he dealt his bread to the hungry, so when he saw the naked he covered him; he hid not himself from his own flesh, Isaiah 58:7. Giles, of Brussels, and Mr Wiseheart, the Scot, are famous among the martyrs for their charity in this kind. And so is Mr Fox, the martyrologer, of whom it is reported, that as he gave away his horse at one time to a poor man when he had no money to give him; so at another, having bestowed his wife’s money in a petticoat, and meeting by the way home with a poor woman that wanted clothing, he freely gave it to her; telling his wife that he had sent it to heaven before her. The poor man’s belly is surely the best cupboard, and his back the best wardrobe; Ubi non pereunt, sed parturiunt, where they rot not, as those moth eaten ones in St James, James 5:2, but remain for ever. Great Alexander believed this far better than most among us, for when he had given away all almost, and his friends asked him, where it was? he pointed to the poor and said, In scriniis, in my chests. And when he was further asked, what he kept for himself.; he answered, Spem maiorum et meliorum, The hope of greater and better things. And another of his name, viz. Pope Alexander V, was so liberal to the poor, that he left nothing to himself; so that he would merrily say, that he was a rich bishop, a poor cardinal, and a beggarly pope, Wποποι. It was wont to be said,

Pauperibus sun dat gratis, nec munera curat

Curia Papalis; quod modo percipimus.

But this distich must be read backwards, saith mine author (Heidfeld.), thus, Percipimus modo quod Papalis, &c. This Pope Alexander then was a rare bird at Rome.

Or any poor without covering] Whether he craved it of me or not, if I did but see it, the poor creature was sure of it. The liberal man helps the poor and needy, Psalms 41:1. Praeoccupat vocem petituri, so Augustine expounds that text in Psalms 103:1-22 He stays not till he is asked a good turn, but ministereth to the uses, not only to the necessities, of the saints, as the apostle’s word is in the original, Romans 12:13, ταις χρειαις. So did Dr Taylor, martyr, when he visited the almshouse in his parish once a fortnight to see what they lacked, and to supply them. And so did Mr Fox, when, unasked, he gave the poor woman the petticoat, as above said.


Verse 20

Job 31:20 If his loins have not blessed me, and [if] he were [not] warmed with the fleece of my sheep;

Ver. 20. If his loins have not blessed me] As being warm clothed by me; not with a suit of words, as those great benefactors, James 2:15-16, who were much in mouth mercy, which indeed is good cheap; but a little handful of Job’s wool is much better than a mouthful of such airy courtesies, and would open more mouths to bless men who, today, for the most part, will be but as friends at a sneeze, the most you can get of them is, God bless you. These have as many flouts and curses as Job had well wishes, and God thereby had praises, according to that of our Saviour, Matthew 5:16.

And if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep] His sheep were his own, else his charity had been unwarrantable. "Honour the Lord with thy substance," Proverbs 3:9, but see it be thine, and not another’s. "He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor," Proverbs 22:9; specially if he have spared it out of his own belly to give to the hungry; if it were the bread of his own demense, or allowance, as some interpret it.


Verse 21

Job 31:21 If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate:

Ver. 21. If I have lift up my hand against the fatherless] That is, against any that are destitute of human helps and defences. Such to ill treat and oppress is easy for great ones. See Genesis 50:15-21, &c. But where the true fear of God is no such thing will be done. The Tigurines render, Si minitatus sum Orphano, &c., If I have lifted up my hand in threatening first, and then let it fall in striking and punishing, the fatherless or friendless.

When I saw my help in the gate] i.e. When, by my greatness and grace with the people, I might have borne out my worst miscarriages; when I might have had more than enough that would have defended, yea, applauded me, as the Senate of Rome did Nero even for his most malapert misdemeanors and most horrid outrages.


Verse 22

Job 31:22 [Then] let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone.

Ver. 22. Then let mine arm fall from the shoulder blade] That unworthy arm of mine (as Cranmer cried out of that unworthy right hand of his, which he therefore burnt first), so injuriously lifted up against the fatherless, Job 31:21, let it never be useful to me any more, but let me be punished with that wherewith I have sinned. God sometimes takes notice of the offending member; as in Jeroboam’s withered hand, Abimelech’s head, which had stolen the crown, Samson’s eyes, the rich man’s tongue, the adulteress’s thigh, Numbers 5:27. This Job knew, and therefore subjoineth this imprecation, Diris se devovens, thereby to clear himself from Eliphaz’s false imputations, Job 22:6-7. The like may be done by us, but sparingly, and not without great necessity, for the helping of the truth in necessity, lest if we do it falsely or rashly, God say, Amen, and set his fiat to it; as he had done in sundry instances in several ages; witness Alexander, the cruel keeper of Newgate, and his son-in-law, John Peter, who rotted above ground, according to their wish. So Anne Averies, in Queen Elizabeth’s days; Sir Gervaise Elloways, in King James’s, hanged on the Tower hill, which he confessed was just upon him, for that in carding and dicing he had often wished himself hanged, if it were not so and so.

And mine arm be broken from the bone] Broken to shivers, as the word signifieth, and by the infamous hands of the hangman, for a terror to all false judges, as some do sense it; Rumpar medius, saith Brentius, as Judas burst in the midst with a huge crack, Acts 1:18, his guts gushing out; as did likewise Foxford’s, a great persecutor in Henry VIII’s time. Some men’s sins go before to judgment, God hanging them up, as it were, in gibbets, that others may hear and fear, and do no more so.


Verse 23

Job 31:23 For destruction [from] God [was] a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.

Ver. 23. For destruction from God was a terror to me] Such an eminent and exemplary calamity or misery, as is mentioned in the former verse, frightened me from wrong dealing. I foresaw the evil event of such practices, and therefore dared not venture. We may not fear the punishment only, and not the offence (for that is a servile fear, and hath torment); neither may we fear the punishment more than the offence. But to fear the punishment with the offence, the offence being feared in the first place, and most, this is incident to saints, and commanded, Matthew 10:28.

And by reason of his highness (or excellency) I could not endure] Non praevaluissem, saith Tremellius. The Hebrew is, I could not; sc. Prevail or subsist. If there be no standing before a lion, or bearing up sail before a tempest; why should any one think to contest with omnipotence, to strive with his Maker, whom nothing can disarm or pacify, but a humble yielding to his justice in hope of mercy, with a resolution to fear before him continually, as the Scripture phraseth it?


Verse 24

Job 31:24 If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, [Thou art] my confidence;

Ver. 24. If I have made gold my hope] The Seventy read, Si posui aurum in coniugmm meum; signifying the covetous man’s great love (Minut. Octav.). If I have trusted in uncertain riches, and been high minded, as Paul expounds it, 1 Timothy 6:17, holding myself simply the better or the safer for the wealth I have gotten; this is creature confidence, this is fiat idolatry, worse than that of the belly god, who sacrificeth to his gut, but trusteth not to it. An ancient complaineth (and not without cause), Divites facultatibus suis alligatos magis aurum consuevisse suspicere quam caelum, That rich men mind gold more than God, and money more than mercy. If wealth be wanting, they sit down in a faithless sullen discontent and despair; as, if they have it, they rise up in a corky, frothy confidence that all shall go well with them. This St Paul calls idolatry, Colossians 3:5; St James, adultery, James 4:4, and enmity with God, in a sense both active and passive; for it maketh a man both to hate God and to be hated by God. Now who would buy gold at so dear a rate?

Or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence] This the mammonist speaketh, as if he were bowing before his golden god, whereunto, though he bow not the knee, yet with his heart he serveth it (and obedience is better than sacrifice), and with his tongue he talketh of it, saying, Thou art my confidence; if thou fail me, I must needs sink: and with all his might he makes after it, as if his life lay upon it, which yet, our Saviour saith, doth not consist in the abundance of those things a man hath, Luke 12:15, since (as a ship) he may have enough to sink him, but not enough to satisfy him.


Verse 25

Job 31:25 If I rejoiced because my wealth [was] great, and because mine hand had gotten much;

Ver. 25. If l rejoiced because my wealth was great] Those that trust in it cannot but rejoice in the increase of it; though, in truth, they do rather revel than rejoice; for true joy is a severe thing, saith the philosopher, and must have a better bottom than these bona scabelli, than corn, and wine, and outward substance, Psalms 4:7. Job rejoiced not, though the world came tumbling in upon him, as we say. For he knew he was but a wether sheep, upon whom the shepherd had bestowed a bell more than upon the rest of the flock; and therefore he would not cast his noise into the wind, and carry his crest the higher, for outward prosperity. If God should take what he had so graciously given, he would bear it not only patiently, but thankfully and fruitfully, as he did, Job 1:21, suffering, with joy the spoiling of his goods, as having in heaven a more enduring substance, Hebrews 10:34.

And because mine hand had gotten much] Heb. Had found very much. This he speaketh in the worldling’s language, who ascribe all they have to their own industry and good fortune. God is not in all their thoughts, Per mimesim, verba avarorum imitatur (Lavat.). But Job is of another spirit; and as for this sinful self ascribing, he utterly detesteth and disavoweth it.


Verse 26

Job 31:26 If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking [in] brightness;

Ver. 26. If I beheld the sun when it shined] viz. To adore it, as the Persians did, and other heathens. The Egyptians had their Heliopolis, or city of the sun; and the Canaanites their Timnath heres, 2:9, Joshua 24:30, that is, the figure of the sun; so called from the idolatry there committed, in worshipping the sun (though I know there is another reason given). The Persians consecrated a horse to the sun, as the swiftest to the swiftest; and the idolatrous Israelites had their horses of the sun, which Josiah took away. It is not amiss to behold the sun, moon, and stars in their pomp and lustre. It is sweet, saith Solomon, Ecclesiastes 11:7. Comfortable, saith David, Psalms 97:11, and useful in many respects; to mind us of our present beauty and safety, Revelation 12:1, Psalms 84:11, and of our future felicity and glory, Matthew 13:46, Daniel 12:3; but above all, of Christ, that Sun of righteousness, Star of Jacob, &c. But this we must do, not to worship them, as they of old did the queen of heaven (and this is thought to be the ancientest idolatry in the world), nor to swear by them, as Matthew 5:34, but to see and worship the Maker of them; which because the blind Ethnics did not, they were damned, Romans 1:19. Oh, then, what will become of us, who see much more of God by so clear a light in that molten looking glass, Job 37:18.

Or the moon walking in brightness] Heb. Bright or precious; that is, enlightened with the precious light of the sun, as when she is at full, and shineth like the finest gold; and was therefore idolized by the heathens, under the names of Phebe, Diana, &c. Of this idolatry Job here purgeth himself; as he had done before of that other of covetousness.


Verse 27

Job 31:27 And my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand:

Ver. 27. And my heart hath been secretly enticed] sc. By the devil, who is ειδωλοχαρης, as, saith Synesius, a great promoter of idolatry; and probably had tempted good Job to this sin also; but was bravely repulsed. If I have done this secretly, saith he, that is, contrary to my open profession of sincere religion. See Deuteronomy 27:10.

Or, my mouth hath kissed my hand] An action of idolaters, who kissed their idols that were present, 1 Kings 19:18, Hosea 13:2 (as the Papists now do their idols, even to the wearing of hardest marble), and to those which were further from them, they held out their hand, and afterwards did put it to their mouth; as an acknowledgment that they had their life and breath from them, saith Diodati, as a sign of subjection, saith Piscator, from Genesis 41:40, Psalms 2:12, "Kiss the Son," sc. with a kiss of homage, such as wherewith Samuel kissed Saul, 1 Samuel 10:1. And Plutarch saith (in Caton. Uticens.), that not to all, but to some special chief commanders, and generals, it was granted among the Romans, That the hand should be kissed before them by way of honour; and this was called adorare, quasi applicare manum ad os. That saying of Bernard (In Cantic. serm. iv.) is worthy of inserting, Qui in se, non in Domino gloriatur, manum suam osculatur; He that glories in himself, and not in the Lord, kisseth his own hand, and is, interpretative, an idolater.


Verse 28

Job 31:28 This also [were] an iniquity [to be punished by] the judge: for I should have denied the God [that is] above.

Ver. 28. This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge] No less than adultery, but rather more. This also is iniquitas iudiciaria, a God provoking, land desolating sin, a wickedness with a witness, a capital crime. See Job 31:11, and take notice how these foul sins swell in Job’s eyes as so many toads; and how full in the mouth he is in speaking of them.

For I should have denied the God that is above] Far above any of these deastri gentium, even the most high God, Genesis 14:18; Genesis 14:22. I should rob the master to give to the servant; ascribe that to the creature which is due only to the Creator; this he will by no means endure. For, be the gods of the heathens good fellows, saith one; the true God is a jealous God, and will not share his glory with another.


Verse 29

Job 31:29 If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him:

Ver. 29. If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me] If I rejoiced at his ruin or fed my thoughts with his fall. Flesh and blood would have taught him so to do; there being nothing more natural to us than revenge; as we see in little ones. Heathens commended it for manhood (Arist. Rhet. c. i. lib. 9), and held it out as sweeter than life itself.

At vindicta bonum vita iucundius ipsa.

Howbeit some heathens professed against it, as Seneca, Immane verbum est ultio, saith he; Revenge is unmanly, both word and thing. And, Qui ulciscitur excusatius peccat He that avengeth himself sinneth, though he hath some colour for his sin. Socrates is famous for forgiving of injuries; and Julius Caesar, when he had Pompey’s head presented to him, wept, and said, I sought not revenge, but victory, Non mihi placet vindicta, sed victoria. Both law and gospel forbids revenge; and Job, who lived before both, obeyed both; as here appeareth. Enemies he had, but he hated them not. That of Solomon was his practice, "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth," &c., Proverbs 24:17-18. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 24:17"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 24:18"}

Or lifted up myself when evil found him] Sin will find men out, sooner or later; Nemesis semper a tergo; and they called her Aδραστεια, because unavoidable. Men may shuffle from side to side, as Balaam’s ass did; but there is no escaping this punishing angel. God will pursue wicked men to destroy them, till such time as they throw the traitor’s head over the wall. Now, good Job had put over his enemies to God, that he might order them (which also he did), and therein did himself no disservice. But how did Job deport himself toward them in this case? Did he lift up himself and insult? Did he bestir himself, as Broughton here elegantly translateth, and was he well paid? Nothing less.


Verse 30

Job 31:30 Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul.

Ver. 30. Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin] Heb. my palate; which is one of the nine instruments of speech. I have not so much as broken out into any passionate word against him; but when I was raging ripe I refrained, and forbore boisterous and blustering expressions, whereby some would have vented their choler in such a case. Nothing is more easy and ordinary than to curse an enemy; by prayer at least to turn him over to God to be punished; as David did Nabal, and it was soon done. But Job, out of private revenge, dared not do this, whatever David did out of a zeal of God’s glory, which wicked men sought to deface.

By wishing a curse to his soul] Heb. by asking his life by a curse. Job knew that cursing men are cursed men, Psalms 109:18. If the prophets cursed their enemies at any time, as Elisha did the children at Bethel, and David oft in the Psalms, it was not livore vindictae, sed zelo iustitae, not out of a vindictive spirit, but by the instinct of God’s Holy Spirit, and out of zeal for God’s glory (Gorran.). Our rule is, "Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not," Romans 12:14. Render not evil for evil, or railing for railing; but contrariwise bless, knowing that we are thereunto called, that we should inherit a blessing, 1 Peter 3:9. Epiphanius and Chrysostom falling out about Origen’s writings, wished a curse to one another; and it ocurred accordingly; the one died ere he came home, and the other was unbishoped.


Verse 31

Job 31:31 If the men of my tabernacle said not, Oh that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied.

Ver. 31. If the men of my tabernacle said not] Contubernales, sive domestici; those of my family and familiarity. A man is to take heed of the iniquity of his heels, that is, of his followers and attendants at the heels, as some sense that text, Psalms 49:5, for these will be apt enough to put a man upon courses of revenge, as they dealt by David, 1 Samuel 24:4; 1 Samuel 26:8, 2 Samuel 16:9, and by the Son of David, Luke 9:54. And thus Isidore, Cajetan, and others, interpret these words, as if they were added to the former, Job 31:29-30, further to commend Job’s love to those that hated him. For although he were put on by his domestics, who seeing their master despitefully used, would have torn those of his enemies in pieces; yet he was not moved thereby, but contained and kept them in from such violence. Beza thus paraphraseth this text: And yet I protest that I wanted not besetters on, even among mine own household servants, who still persuaded me to requite those injuries which I received with most bitter revenge: nay, their minds were so incensed, that they cried out, That they should never be satisfied on them, no, not though they had eaten them up quickly.

Oh that we had of his flesh!] So barbarous and brutish is revenge. See Psalms 27:2. Erasmus telleth of a friar, Augustine of Antwerp, that he openly in the pulpit wished that Luther were there, that he might bite out his throat with his teeth (Epist. lib. 16, ad obtrectat.). I can hardly forbear with these nails of mine to be thy death, said Friar Brusierd to Bilney the martyr. At the town of Barr, in France, the Italians, in hatred of Lutheranism, broke forth into such fury, that they ripped up a living child, took out his liver, being as yet red hot, and ate it as meat. Christian, king of Denmark, pulled the dead body of his enemy Stevon, the Swedish general, out of the grave, inusitataque rabie dentibus adpetiit, and, like a mad dog, tore it with his teeth (Val. Max. Christian. 138). The Jews, in Trajan’s time, having one Andrew for their captain, cut in pieces, about Cyrene, many Greeks and Romans, eating their flesh, besmearing themselves with their blood, and clothing themselves with their skins. The like they did also about Cyprus, and in Egypt, to the slaughtering of over four hundred thousand people. Tacitus noteth of the Jews in general, that they are very kind among themselves, but contra omnes alios hostile odium, against all others they bear hostile hatred. Homo homini daemon.

We cannot be satisfied] But with his heart blood. It is as easy to quench the fire of Etna as the thoughts fired by revenge, Plane inexplebile est viudictae desiderium (Mercer). See Psalms 124:3; Psalms 1:4.


Verse 32

Job 31:32 The stranger did not lodge in the street: [but] I opened my doors to the traveller.

Ver. 32. The stranger did not lodge in the street] Job was so far from liking and commending those enraged stomachs of his servants, that be would not suffer strangers to lodge abroad in the night season. Gregory noteth here, that he speaketh first of his pacific disposition toward his enemies, and then of his hospitality; because, saith he, the heart must first be freed from malice and wrath, and then charity is to be exercised, that we might be accepted. Abraham neither set up an altar to God nor showed himself forward to entertain strangers, till Lot and he were reconciled. Hospitality is commended to our practice, both by the prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 58:7, by St Paul, Romans 12:13, Hebrews 13:2, and by St Peter, 1 Peter 4:9. Of Cranmer, Tremellius testifietb, that he was homo Fιλοξενος nec minus φιλολογος, humane and hospitable, after the example of Abraham and Lot, whom Synesius therefore calleth Yεου εστιατορας, God entertainers. Julian the apostate reckoneth the hospitality of the primitive Christians among those three things that caused their religion to be so generally embraced. Of the Waldenses also, those ancient Protestants in Germany, it is reported that they could travel from Colen to Milan in Italy, and every night lodge with hosts of their own profession, who would bid them heartily welcome (Chrys. in Joan. της περι τους ξενους φιλανθρωπιας. Hinc tot olim Xenodochia).

But I opened my doors to the traveller] I bid the weary wayfaring man welcome to my house, and kept a good table for such. Mensa res sacra est, per quam Deus honoratur praeses amicitiae et hospitii. Job was known to be a good housekeeper, and was much resorted to; he set open his gate in the highway; so Beza, after Mercer, rendereth this text. It was his will, that that part of his house which bounded upon the highway side should always lie open, to harbour passengers, Jupiter φιλιος, τε και ξενιος dicebatur. Ad viam, vel versus viam.


Verse 33

Job 31:33 If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom:

Ver. 33. If I covered my transgression as Adam] A transgressor then Job yieldeth himself; the lives of the best alive are fuller of sins than the firmament is of stars, or the furnace of sparks. But he did not act like Adam, or after the manner of men, cover or conceal them, extenuate or excuse them, denying them, as Cain did, Genesis 4:9, and Gehazi, 2 Kings 5:25, and Ananias, Acts 5:8, or at least, dealing with them as the unjust steward did, who for a hundred set down fifty. Adam went about to hide his sin, alleging, non causam pro causa, that for the cause of his flight that was not the true cause thereof, viz. the voice of God, his fear thereupon, his nakedness, &c.: thus sin and shifting came into the world together. Secondly, when that would not do, but that he was driven from that κρησφυγετον, then he seeks to excuse it, by accusing God, and transferring the blame upon him, for giving him a woman to tempt him, Genesis 3:12. The like thereunto do they that plead predestination, or constellations, or natural inclination, &c., that put God to his proofs, as they did, Jeremiah 2:35. Job was none such; but made it his daily practice to acknowledge his iniquities against himself, Psalms 32:5, and with utmost aggravation from all the circumstances; laying open how many transgressions were wrapped up in each sin, as it is Leviticus 16:21, lest, as Samuel once said to Jesse, Are here all thy sons? so God should say to Job, Are these all thy sins? and, there being but one only uncovered, that one should prove destructive to his soul, as that bastard Abimelech did to all his brethren. But now that he freely and fully confesseth his offences, he is sure to find mercy, Proverbs 28:18. No man was ever kept out of heaven for his confessed badness; many are for their supposed goodness.

By hiding mine iniquity in my bosom] As silly men think to do, 1. From God, who is all eye, and every man before God is all window, so that he needs not a window in his bosom (as the heathen Momus wished) for God to look in at, Job 34:22 2. From the world; which yet they cannot always do; for God, that descrieth, will also discover all, sooner or later; else how should that be fulfilled, The name of the wicked shall rot? Broughton rendereth it, By hiding mine iniquity of self love. So Kimchi also readeth it. Tremellius to the same sense, Ex dilectione mei. And surely it is this sinful self love that closeth up men’s lips, and keepeth them from poaring out their souls as water before the Lord. Some deal with their souls as others do with their bodies; when their beauty is decayed, they desire to hide it from themselves by false glosses, and from others by painting; so their sins from themselves by false glosses, and from others by excuses. But this was not Job’s practice; for though he were a great man, and able enough to have crushed those that should accuse him of any miscarriage, yet he was far from it; as he sets forth in the next verse.


Verse 34

Job 31:34 Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify me, that I kept silence, [and] went not out of the door?

Ver. 34. Did I fear a great multitude] Or, Though I should have terrified a great multitude, yet the most contemptible of the families frayed me (or humbled me), so that I held my peace, and went not out of doors; q.d. I could by my greatness have borne out my misdemeanors, and who dared have once questioned me, or quacked before me? But this I did not, I dared not; as being reined in by the reverential fear of God; yea, rather, if any one, though but of the meanest rank, had come to me, and admonished me friendly of my faults, or else, more sharply reproved me, I took it well aworth from him, not once opening my mouth to contend with him for my sins, not at all stirring out of doors to do him hurt. Let us fight with our faults, and not with our friends that tell us of them, said that German emperor. And when a poor hermit came to our Richard I, A.D. 1195, and preaching to him the words of eternal life, bade him be mindful of the subversion of Sodom, and abstain from things unlawful; otherwise (said he) the deserved vengeance of God will come upon thee; the king laid these things to heart, and became more devout and charitable to the poor.

That I kept silence, and went not out of the door] I replied, not in defence of what evil I had done; I cried not, as they used to do in courts of justice, Non feci, Not guilty; but Me, me, ego qui feci, I am verily guilty, and for this cause I went not out of doors, but kept me at home as much as I might, through shame and grief for what I had done amiss. I held my tongue, and hid my head. This was right; and this seems to me to be the right interpretation of the text among those many others that are brought by expositors.


Verse 35

Job 31:35 Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire [is, that] the Almighty would answer me, and [that] mine adversary had written a book.

Ver. 35. Oh that one would hear me] Quis det mihi auscultantem mihi? Oh that after all this purging and praising of myself (wherein I take no pleasure, but that I must do it, unless I will betray mine innocence, and lie under heavy imputations), some one would help me to a fair trial! that God, who is best able, would undertake the business, and effectually vindicate me from these calumnies and contumelies that are cast upon me.

That the Almighty would answer me] i.e. That he would give a reason why he dealt so harshly with me. This was Job’s desire, or mark he aimed at, with confidence enough, Hac in re petenda nimis importunus est (Merl.); but sure he should have carried this matter with more modesty and lowly mindedness, with more reverence and godly fear, since our God is a consuming fire; since he is greater than our consciences; neither may we ever forget the infinite distance and disproportion that is between him and ourselves.

And that mine adversary had written a book] Heb. The man of my contention; mine antagonist, that he had made his declaration, and set down his charge. By these and the following expressions, Job denoteth his innocence and plerophory of faith, wherewith he was well acquainted, and whereby he was exceedingly supported. Oh that we could as bravely bear all contumelies and contempts for our consciences; wearing them as crowns and confirmations of our conformity to Christ.


Verse 36

Job 31:36 Surely I would take it upon my shoulder, [and] bind it [as] a crown to me.

Ver. 36. Surely I would take it on my shoulder] As a father doth his darling, or as a standard bearer doth his ensign, or as a man carrieth his most desirable things out of a common combustion.

And bind it as a crown to me] Heb. Crowns. I should be very proud of it, as we use to speak, and take it for a great glory, as not doubting with much ease and in a trice to confute it; or at least to slight it. The lash of lewd tongues it is as impossible to avoid as necessary to contemn. The best apology to such is that of Isaac to his brother Ishmael, patience and silence. If any reply be made, it should be like that of the faithful steward to his passionate lord, who called him knave and worse, Your honour may speak as you please, but I believe not a word that you say, for I know myself an honest man. Do well and hear ill is written upon heaven’s gates, said that holy martyr. A bad report is the ordinary reward of very well doing, which made Luther wax proud even of his reproach, as he said himself, Indies magis mihi placeo, superbus fio, quod video nomen pessimum mihi crescere, I please myself herein every day more and more; I grow even proud of this, that I hear every day worse and worse for well doing; surely should such curs wag their tails and not their tongues, I should suspect mine own innocence; as Phocion did, when the Athenians liked his oration. And in another place he saith, Maior est mihi timor in laudibus; gaudium vero in maledictis et blasphemiis, When I am praised I am afraid all is not well; but when I am reproached and railed on it is a joy to me; for this will be accounted to my reckoning at the last day; this will add weight to my crown of glory. Reproaches, as they make graces more splendent, so they will make glory more radiant, as the more dirty feet tread and rub the more lustre they give the figure graven in gold. Hence Austin, whatsoever (saith he) willingly reproacheth me, the same doth, though against his will, add to my reward in heaven. And this I take for a great glory (saith Jerome), all the heretics rail at me.


Verse 37

Job 31:37 I would declare unto him the number of my steps; as a prince would I go near unto him.

Ver. 37. I would declare unto him the number of my steps] I would tell him all that ever I know by myself, and turn him the inside outward, deal ingeniously with him, and make him my confessor; and so help him make up his book. Elice igitur hine, Therefore entice this, saith Lavater. Hence we may learn so to demean ourselves in all companies and conditions of life, that we may neither be ashamed to live nor afraid to die; and that we need not care though our greatest enemies knew of our worst practices, though our faults were written in our foreheads, as they say. Of Socrates Pliny saith, that his name was not the name of a man, but of integrity itself (Nat. Hist. 1. 7, c. 31). Of Cato Major Paterculus saith, that he was free from all human vices, and as like to virtue itself as might be. Cicero saith, that he was one of those few that lived and died with glory. How much more truly and boldly may we affirm the like of Joseph, Moses, Samuel, Daniel, Nehemiah, Paul, who knew nothing by himself, Melancthon, George, prince of Anhalt, John Bradford, and many others famous in their generations, whom, for their piety and patience, as their enemies could not but admire, so their friends could never sufficiently extol them. This is no small help to the cause, said Erasmus concerning Luther, that his enemies could find no fault or flaw in his life.

As a prince would I go near unto him] Id est, Animo heroico et imperterrito, quippe bene sibi conscio (Piscat.); that is, with a heroic spirit, and an undaunted courage: I would not shrink back, or flinch him a jot, as having a clearing, cheering conscience that feareth no colours, that would not budge or yield a hair for an angel’s authority, Galatians 1:8. Quasi Princeps, hoc est, animo liberrimo et expositissimo, &c., saith Brentius, As a prince against whom there is no rising up. I would speak my mind, and lay open the whole matter of my deportment very freely and fully, that both present and future ages might judge it. Of Trajan the emperor it is recorded, that he neither hated nor feared any man living. And of Trajan, general to Valens, the Arian emperor, that as he could speak his mind fitly, so he dared speak it freely. Think the same of Job.


Verse 38

Job 31:38 If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain;

Ver. 38. If my land cry against me] As unjustly gotten; where we have an elegant personification not unlike that of the prophet, Habakkuk 2:11-12, where the stone out of the wall cries out against the oppressor, and the tignum e ligno, the beam out of the timber, answereth it by a woeful antiphony. It hath been noted before, that Goropius will have the English to be called Angli, because they were good anglers, and had skill to lay various baits when they fished for other men’s livings. May it be our care to disprove him, and to show ourselves angels rather (as Gregory the Great derived us), and our land to be Regnum Dei, the kingdom of God, as it was anciently counted and called, by the holiness and righteousness exercised among us (Polydore Virgil). These two make up one perfect pair of compasses, which can take the true latitude of an upright heart (such as Job’s was, witness this whole chapter). The first, like the top of Jacob’s ladder, reacheth up to heaven; the second, like the foot of the ladder, resteth on the earth, or rather walketh about in a perfect circle of all such duties as one man oweth to another. Job was famous for both, whatever his friends surmised or suggested to the contrary. He was righteously religious and religiously righteous; exercising the first table of the law in the second, and caring to keep always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men, Acts 24:16.

Or that the furrows thereof likewise complain] Si plorant porcae. Heb. Weep, sc. As it were, out of a desire after their own right owner, from whom they are detained, as was Naboth’s vineyard.


Verse 39

Job 31:39 If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life:

Ver. 39. If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money] i.e. Not paying the labourers their wages, which is a bony sin, Amos 5:12-13, crying cruelty, James 5:4, such as hath a woe hanging on the heels of it, Jeremiah 22:17. See what sins it is set among, and what punishment is awarded to it, Malachi 3:5. Let Laban be guilty of it, Genesis 31:7, but Job protesteth against it here with an imprecation.

Or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life] That is, the occupiers thereof, the poor rent holders (by racking their rents), to miss subsistence, so that they could not make a living of it with all their labour. Owners of the land he calleth them improperly; since the land was his, as in the former verse; but if he had the propriety, they had the pains, and theretbro should have a livelihood, as Solomon’s vinedressers had, Song of Solomon 8:12; but so had not Pharaoh’s labourers, the oppressed Israelites, who toiled like horses, and yet were held to so hard allowance, that they were weary of their lives, and their souls were ready to expire, as the Hebrew here hath it. Prisoners’ pittance many poor tenants have, such as will neither keep them alive nor suffer them to die.


Verse 40

Job 31:40 Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley. The words of Job are ended.

Ver. 40. Let thistles grow instead of wheat] This was a piece of that first curse, Genesis 3:8, under which the earth hath lain bedridden, as it were, ever since, waiting for the coming of the Son of God, that it may he delivered from the bondage of corruption, Romans 8:20; and Job wished it as due to him, Ex lege Talionis, if he should be guilty of the forementioned cruelty, James 2:13, αρουρα et Arvum ab Heb. Arur, accursed.

And cockle instead of barley] Lolium et lappae, stinking stuff the word signifieth; as those were stinking grapes, Isaiah 5:2; Isaiah 5:4, rotten, corrupted, vitiated; and as that was blasted corn, yielding nothing better than dust and chaff, Matthew 13:25, ζιζανιον, Frumentum adustum. Whereas wheat and barley are the precious fruits of the earth, James 5:7, whereof when the Metapontines had one year a great crop, they dedicated to their god Delphos, in token of thankfulness, a harvest graven in gold, Cρυσουν θερος (Strabo).

The words of Job are ended] i.e. His conference with his three friends, whom having before silenced, and now for himself sufficiently apologized, he putteth a period to that discourse; having (as Octavius once said to Decius) to the understanding spoken sufficient, and to the ignorant or obstinate too much, had he said less.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 31:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-31.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 1st, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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