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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Job 22

 

 

Verses 1-30

THIRD SERIES OF CONTROVERSIAL DISCOURSES

THE ENTANGLEMENT REACHING ITS EXTREME POINT

Job 22-28

I. Eliphaz and Job: Chapter22–24

A.—Eliphaz: Reiterated accusation of Job, from whose severe sufferings it must of necessity be inferred that he had sinned grievously, and needed to repent:

Job 22:1-20

1. The charge made openly that Job is a great sinner

Job 22:1-10

1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:

2 Can a man be profitable unto God,

as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?

3 Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art righteous?

or is it gain to Him that thou makest thy ways perfect?

4 Will He reprove thee for fear of thee?

will He enter with thee unto judgment?

5 Is not thy wickedness great?

and thine iniquities infinite?

6 For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought,

and stripped the naked of their clothing.

7 Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink,

and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry.

8 But as for the mighty Prayer of Manasseh, he had the earth:

and the honorable man dwelt in it.

9 Thou hast sent widows away empty,

and the arms of the fatherless have been broken.

10 Therefore snares are round about thee,

and sudden fear troubleth thee.

2. Earnest warning not to incur yet severer punishments:

Job 22:11-20

11 Or darkness, that thou canst not see;

and abundance of waters cover thee.

12 Is not God in the height of heaven?

and behold the height of the stars, how high they are!

13 And thou sayest, How doth God know?

can He judge through the dark cloud?

14 Thick clouds are a covering to Him, that He seeth not;

and He walketh in the circuit of heaven.

15 Hast thou marked the old way,

which wicked men have trodden?

16 Which were cut down out of time,

whose foundation was overflown with a flood;

17 which said unto God, Depart from us:

and what can the Almighty do for them?

18 Yet He filled their houses with good things:

but the counsel of the wicked is far from me

19 The righteous see it, and are glad

and the innocent laugh them to scorn:

20 “Whereas our substance is not cut down,

but the remnant of them the fire consumeth.”

3. Admonition to repent, accompanied by the announcement of the certain restoration of his prosperity to him when penitent:

Job 22:21-30

21 Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace:

thereby good shall come unto thee.

22 Receive, I pray thee, the law from His mouth,

and lay up His words in thine heart.

23 If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up,

thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles.

24 Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust,

and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks.

25 Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence,

and thou shalt have plenty of silver.

26 For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty,

and shalt lift up thy face unto God.

27 Thou shalt make thy prayer unto Him, and He shall hear thee,

and thou shalt pay thy vows.

28 Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee:

and the light shall shine upon thy ways.

29 When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up;

and He shall save the humble person.

30 He shall deliver the island of the innocent;

and it is delivered by the pureness of thine hands.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. Without controverting Job’s position in Job 21, that the present life furnishes numerous examples of the prosperity of the ungodly, and of calamity to the pious, but at the same time without abandoning in the slightest degree his former argument in favor of an external doctrine of retribution, Eliphaz adheres to his assumption that the cause of Job’s calamities and misery could lie only in sins of a grievous character ( Job 22:2-10), with which he now reproaches him particularly and in detail ( Job 22:6-9),—sins of arrogance, of cruelty, and of injustice towards his neighbor. Then follows an earnest warning against pursuing any further his unholy thoughts and speeches, as otherwise his final doom, like that of all the wicked from the earliest times must be a terrible one ( Job 22:11-20)—a position indeed which Job also might urge to prove the alleged injustice of God’s treatment of him. To this sharp warning succeeds a conciliatory invitation to repent and to return to God, and to enter into possession of the blessings promised by God to the penitent, the whole discourse having a conclusion similar to that of the first discourse of Eliphaz ( Job 22:21-30). This third and last discourse of Eliphaz falls into three divisions, exactly equal in length, and each of these embraces two strophes substantially equal in length, consisting of five verses each (the first, however, only of four).

2. First Division, or Double Strophe: the accusation: Job 22:2-10.

First Strophe: [The use of עַל in the second member, instead of לְ as in the first, is one of the Aramaisms, “which poetry gladly adopts” (Del.). Comp. Psalm 16:6].

Job 22:3. Is it an advantage to the Almighty, if thou art righteous?חֵפֶץ [lit. “pleasure”] means here, as the parallel בֶּצַעַ in the second member shows, “interest, gain, advantage,” as in Job 21:21. Or a gain, if thou behavest blamelessly? lit. “if thou makest thy ways blameless” [or “perfect”] (תַּתֵּם, imperf. Hiph. of תמם, with the [Aramizing] doubling of the first radical; comp. Gesen. § 66, Rem8), si integras facias vias tuas. The meaning of the whole question is: God gets no profit from men’s righteousness; consequently the motives which determine him to inflict sufferings on men are neither selfish, nor arbitrary.

[Hirzel’s explanation is the one adopted also by Bernard, Wemyss, Carey, Renan, Rodwell, Elzas]. The meaning: “godly fear, piety” is all the more firmly established for ירעה by the fact that Eliphaz has already used this same word twice in this emphatic sense: Job 4:6 and Job 15:4 [“a genuine Eliphazian word, in accordance with the poet’s method of assigning favorite words and habits to his speakers.” Ewald].

Job 22:5. The conclusion, expressed in the interrogative form, like the preceding propositions in the syllogism. Is not thy wickedness great, and no end of thy transgressions?—Thus strongly does Eliphaz accuse Job here; for, entangled in legalism, he thinks that if the impossibility that God should cause the innocent to suffer be once for all firmly held, then, from the severity of the sufferings inflicted on any one, we may argue the greatness of the transgressions which are thus punished,—a piece of bad logic, seeing that it entirely overlooks the intermediate possibility which lies between those two extremes, that God may inflict suffering on such as are friends indeed, but not yet perfected in their piety, with a view to their trial or purification.

Second Strophe: Job 22:6-10. Enumeration of a series of sins, which, seeing that they are ordinarily associated with riches and power, must constitute, in the opinion of the speaker, the probable reason why Job, who was once rich and honored, had fallen so low, and been made to suffer the Divine chastisement.

Job 22:6. For thou didst distrain thy brethren without causei.e., without being in thy superfluity under any necessity of doing so (Hirzel). The brethren are naturally the next of kin, fellow-clansmen, not specially brethren in the more literal sense. If instead of אַחֶיךָ we should with many MSS. and Editions (so also Bähr and Delitzsch) read אָחִיךָ, this singular form, “thy brother,” would nevertheless require to be understood as a collective, as the second member shows. And the clothes of the naked thou didst strip off.—By עֲרוּמִּים we are to understand, of course, not those who are absolutely naked, but those who are scantily clothed, the half-naked poor, as in Isaiah 20:2; John 21:7; James 2:15 (comp. also Seneca, De Benefeciis, v13: si quis male vestitutum et pannosum videt, nudum se vidisse dicit). To strip such “naked” ones by distraint of their last piece of apparel is forbidden not only by the law of Moses ( Exodus 22:25 seq.; Deuteronomy 24:6; Deuteronomy 24:10 seq.), but also by the sentiment of universal humanity. The same may be said of the proofs of cruelty enumerated in the following verse [ Job 22:7 : Thou gavest no water to the fainting to drink, and thou didst refuse bread to the hungry]; comp. Isaiah 58:10, and for the opposite course Matthew 10:42.

Job 22:8. And the man of the fist (absolute case)—his was the land, and the honored one was to dwell therein!—That is to say, according to the insolent, selfish, grasping views and principles which Eliphaz imputes to Job. The “man of the arm,” or “of the fist” (אִישׁ זְרוֹעַ), i.e., the powerful and violent Prayer of Manasseh, as well as “the honored man” (נְשׂוּא פָנִים, as in Isaiah 3:3; Isaiah 9:14), is none other than Job himself, the proud, rich Emir, who, as Eliphaz maliciously conjectures, had driven away many of the poor and helpless from house and home, in order to seize upon the land far and wide for himself. According to the assumption that both expressions referred to another than Job, whom the latter had favored in his course of self-aggrandizement (Rosenmüller, Umbreit, Hahn [Noyes, Wemyss, Renan, Elzas—who translates: “As if the land belonged to the man of power alone; as if only the man of rank may dwell therein”]), the strong sense of the passage is needlessly weakened. That Job is not immediately addressed here, as in the verse just preceding, and again in the verse following, is to be explained by the vivid objectivizing tendency of the description.

Job 22:9. Widows thou didst send away empty—when they came to thee as suppliants; and the arms of the orphans were broken—in consequence, namely, of the treatment which such needy and helpless ones were wont to receive from thee and those like thee. The discourse here assumes the objective generalizing tone, for the reason that Eliphaz is sensible that the concrete proofs of the charge which he would be able to produce out of Job’s former history would be all too few! The “arms of the orphans” is a figurative expression describing not their appeal for help, but all their powers and rights, all upon which they could depend for support. The same phrase—דכא זרעות—occurs also in Psalm 37:17; Ezekiel 30:22. For the “arms” as the symbol of strength, power, comp. Job 40:9; Psalm 77:16, 15]; 83:9 8].

[“To be noted is the frequent paronomasia of פח and פחר.” Schlott.].

3. Second Division, or Double Strophe: the warning. If Job should presumptuously cast doubt on the Divine righteousness, and thereby make himself partaker of the sins of those in the primeval world who insolently denied God, he would draw down on himself the Divine judgment which had been ordained for those guilty of such wickedness, and which would without fail overtake them, however long and securely they might seem to enjoy their prosperity: Job 22:11-20.

Third Strophe: Job 22:11-15. Or seest thou not the darkness, and the flood of waters, which covereth thee?—That Isaiah, dost thou not then perceive in what destruction thou art already involved, and that in punishment for thy sins? “Darkness” and the “flood of waters” (the multitudinous heaving of waters, שִׁפְעָה as in Isaiah 60:6) are here, as also in Job 27:20, a figure not of the sins of Job (Hahn), but of the night of suffering and of the deep misery, which, as Eliphaz thinks, had come upon him in consequence of his sins. תְּכַסֶּךָּ is a relative clause, and logically belongs also to חשֶׁךְ; comp. Isaiah 60:2. In mentioning darkness and a flood as bursting on Job, he has reference to the catastrophe of the deluge, which in the following verses he proceeds to hold up as a warning picture of terror ( Job 22:16). The whole verse forms a suitable transition from the accusation in the preceding section to the warning which now follows. [By the majority of versions and commentators Job 22:11 is joined immediately to the verse preceding, as its continuation. There is certainly a close connection between the two. But that Zöckler (after Dillmann) is correct in regarding Job 22:11 as transitional to what follows, and so introducing the next strophe, is favored both by the use of the disjunctive אוֹ rather than וְ, and by the evident anticipation of Job 22:16 in the שִׁפְעַת־מַיִם. This view requires the construction of חשֶׁךְ as the object of לֹא תִרְאֶה: “seest thou not the darkness?” (Ewald, Schlottm, Dillm, Delitzsch), rather than as an independent subject, followed by a relative clause: “darkness, that, thou canst not see” (E. V, Umbreit, Noyes, Con, Lee, Renan, Rodwell, etc.).—E.]

Job 22:12. Is not Eloah the height of heaven?i.e. the heaven-high, infinitely exalted One (comp. Job 11:8; [in view of which passage, says Schlottmann, the construction of גבה שמים as Accus. loci: “in the height of heaven,” is less probable than the construction, as predicate]).—And see now the head of the stars [i.e. the highest of the stars, כּוֹכָבִיםgen. partitivus) how high they are!—כִּי “how,” or also “that,” as in Genesis 49:15; 1 Samuel 14:29. The plural רָמוּ [by attraction] as in Job 21:21; comp. Ewald, § 317, c. The whole verse, in this reference to the Divine greatness and exaltation, beginning as a question, and passing over into a challenge, has for its object the vindication of Him who is above the world, and above Prayer of Manasseh, against every thought which would limit His knowledge, or cast any suspicion on the perfect justice of His ways.

Job 22:13 seq. The doubt expressed by Job touching the justice of God in administering the affairs of the world is here interpreted by Eliphaz as a denial that God has any knowledge of earthly things, or feels any special concern in what happens to men. He therefore reproaches him with holding that erroneous, and almost atheistical conception of the Deity, which has since been advanced by the Epicureans (see e.g. Lucretius III:640 seq.), and more recently by the English Deists. [“Eliphaz here attributes to Job, who in Job 21:22 had appealed to the exaltation of God in opposition to the friends, a complete misconception of the truth, and thus skilfully turns against Job himself the weapon which the latter had just sought to wrest from him.” Schlottmann]. And so thou thinkest (literally “sayest”) what knows God? (or: what should God know?) will He judge through (בְּעַד as in Genesis 26:8; Joel 2:9) the darkness of the clouds?i.e. judge us men on this lower earth, from which Hebrews, covered by the clouds, is wholly separated and shut off.

Job 22:14 continues this symbolical description of this total separation of God from the world: Clouds are a covering to Him, so that He sees not (comp. Lamentations 3:44), and He walks upon the vault (or “circle,” Proverbs 8:27; Isaiah 40:22) of the heaven—not therefore on this earthly world, which is too small and insignificant for Him. Similar expressions of unbelief touching God’s special concern for the affairs of earth may be found e.g. in Psalm 73:11; Psalm 94:7; Isaiah 29:15; Ezekiel 8:12.

Job 22:15. Wilt thou keep in the path of the old world? (שָׁמַר, to observe, follow, as in Psalm 18:22 [not “hast thou marked”? E. V. against which is the fut. תִּשְׁמור, and the connection] and אֹרַח עֹולָם, as in Jeremiah 6:16; Jeremiah 18:15), which the men of wickedness trod?i.e. insolent, ungodly and wicked men, as they are described in the following verses, both as to their arrogant deeds, and their righteous punishment. The reference to the race of men immediately preceding the Noachian deluge (the ἀρχαῖος κὀσμος of 2 Peter 2:5) is evident enough.

Fourth Strophe: Job 22:16-20. Description of the destruction of those ungodly men as a divine judgment overtaking them after a season of prosperity, together with an application to the controversy suggested by Job’s case in respect to the doctrine of retribution.

[The asterisk in the Hebrew Bible marks the verse as the middle of the book, there being537 verses before, and the same number after this mark] Who were swept off (קֻּמְּטוּ, lit. “were seized” comp. above on Job 16:8) [Bernard, Rodwell, etc., “who became shrivelled (corpses) before, etc.” Carey: “who got tied up … so that escape was impossible,” but better as above,—“to be snatched away”] before the timei.e. before there was any probability, according to human experience, that their hour had come; comp. the ἄωροι of the LXX. also above in Job 15:32בְּלֹא יוֹמוֹ—as even in the present passage some Mss. read בְּלֹא instead of וְלֹא (com. Psalm 139:16). As a stream their foundation was poured awayi. e. it became fluid, so that they could no longer stand on it, but sank down. Again a palpable allusion to the deluge (scarcely to the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, in mentioning which the rain of fire and brimstone ( Genesis 19:24; comp. Job 18:15) would scarcely have been forgotten:—against Ewald [and Davidson, Introd. ii229]). The construction of the words which we have followed, according to which יְסוֹדָם is the subject, נָהָר nominat. of the predicate or product, and יוּצַק descriptive Imperf. Hoph. (not an unusual alternate form of the Perf. Pual וֻצַּק, as Ewald supposes) appears as that which alone is favored by the position of the words and the accents. The following renderings are not so good: “their place became a poured out stream” (Hirzel: “whose foundation was a poured out stream” (Umbr, Olsh.) [Rodwell]; “a stream was poured out upon their foundation”(Rosenm, Hahn) [Lee, Carey: with which may be connected the rendering of E. V. Renan, Noyes, Elzas: “whose foundation was overflown with a flood,” and of Conant: “their foundation was poured away in a flood”].

Job 22:17. Who said unto God: Depart from us! and what could the Almighty do for them?—The sentiment of the ungodly is expressed first in the direct and then in the indirect form of speech, precisely as in Job 19:28. As to the matter the passage reminds us of Job’s last discourse, Job 21:14-15. The same arrogant God-renouncing utterances, which Job there attributes to the prosperous wicked described by him, is here imputed by Eliphaz to the objects of his description, in order to show to him that up to a certain point he agrees entirely with his representation of the relation of external prosperity to human sinfulness. [“El. no doubt intends this as a direct contradiction to Job’s statement. The Patriarch had asserted that men of these atheistical principles were happy all their lives. El. says: No! these are the very sort of men who were visited by the judgment of the deluge, and you are just as bad as they, for you are treading in their steps.” Carey].

Job 22:18. And yet he had filled their houses with blessings—(טוֹב, prosperity, good, as below Job 22:21 and Job 21:25טוֹבָה); a circumstantial clause, which stands connected with the principal verb in Job 22:16, having a restrictive force, in order to express the contrast between the sudden judgment which overtakes the wicked, and the long season of prosperity preceding it, which gives to them the appearance of exemption from punishment. The formula of detestation which follows in b Eliphaz intentionally takes as it were out of the mouth of Job (comp. Job 21:16), in order to impress upon him that only he has the right thus to speak who does not doubt that God inflicts righteous retribution.

Job 22:19. The righteous will see it:—to wit, the destruction which will one day befall the wicked (not the punishment inflicted on the sinners of the primeval world, which was long since past)—and rejoice, and the innocent will mock at them—at those who were once prosperous, but have now encountered the righteous penalty of their transgressions, in regard to whom accordingly the proverb will be verified—“he laughs best who laughs last.” The triumphant joy of the righteous over the final punishment of the ungodly, which they shall live to see, and which Eliphaz here describes in such a way as to contrast with Job’s previous utterances, Job 17:8; Job 21:5-6, is frequently described in the Old Testament; comp. Psalm 58:11, 10] seq.; 64:10 9] seq.

Job 22:20 contains the words in which this future triumph of the pious will be expressed. Verily (אִס־לֹאֹ as in Job 1:11; Job 17:2) our adversaries are destroyed. קִימָנוּ (instead of which Olsh. needlessly proposes קָמֵינוּ after Psalm 44:6; Exodus 15:7) is a pausal form for קִימֵנוּ, from a root קִים, which occurs only here, meaning “he who is set up” (partic. pass.), i.e. the adversary. The righteous designate the ungodly as their adversaries not in a personal, but an ethical sense, because God’s enemies are also their enemies; comp. Psalm 139:21; Romans 11:28. And what is left to them a fire has devouredיתְרָם, “their remnant, their residue,” to wit, in property and wealth; the remainder of their means; hardly “their super-abundance” (Del.) [“for why should the fire devour only that which they had as a superfluity?” Dillm.] יִתְרָם is used here accordingly in another sense than in Job 4:21, a passage otherwise similar to the present. For the use of fire as a symbol of the divine decree of punishment effecting a radical extermination, comp. Job 15:34; Job 20:26; Ezekiel 20:28, etc.

4. Third Division, or Double Strophe: Job 22:21-30 : An admonition to repentance, and a promise of salvation to the penitent.

Fifth Strophe: Job 22:21-25 : The admonition.

Job 22:21. Make friends now with Him, and be at peace. חִסְבִּין here with עִם, which gives a signification different from that found above in Job 22:2, viz. “to make friends with any one, to draw nigh to any one,” comp. James 4:8. The following וּשְׁלָם is to be rendered as an Imperat. consec. (comp. Proverbs 3:4; and Gesen. § 130 [§ 127], 2; “and be at peace, i.e. “and so shalt thou be at peace.” [“We distinguish best between הסכן and שלם by regarding the former as expressing the conclusion, the latter the preservation of peace.” Schlottmann]. There by shall blessing come to thee—come upon thee, comp. Job 20:22. תְּבֹאָֽתְךָ (instead of which many Mss. read תְּבֹאַתְךָ) Isaiah 3sing. fem. imperf. with a doubled indication of its feminine form (first by ת and afterwards by ־ָה), hence = תָּבֹאָה, with suffix of the 2 d person. Comp. in regard to such double feminines Delitzsch on the passage [who refers to Proverbs 1:20; Ezekiel 23:20; Joshua 6:17; 2 Samuel 1:26; Amos 4:3], also Ewald § 191, c; 249, c [Green § 88, 3 f.]—Olsh. and Rödig. following certain Mss. would read תְּבוּאָֽתְךָ: “thereby will thine income be a good one,” but this would impart to the discourse an artificial character, seeing that an earthly reward is not mentioned before Job 22:25 seq. As to בָּהֶם, “thereby” (lit. “by these things”) with neuter suffix, comp. Ezekiel 33:18; Isaiah 64:4; Isaiah 38:16.

Job 22:22. Receive, I pray, instruction out of His mouth.—God’s mouth represented as the source of instruction in the higher truth, as in Proverbs 2:6 [El. as Dillm. says claiming to be himself the interpreter of God’s teaching to Job].

Job 22:23. If thou returnest to the Almighty.—(שׁוּב עַר as in Joel 2:12; Amos 4:6 seq.; Isaiah 19:22) [“We are told by Rosenmüller that עַד stands here for אֶלto, but we are rather inclined to think with Maimonides that it is purposely made use of in its real signification, viz, as far as, even to, right up to, close up to, in order to encourage Job, who was looked upon by the speaker as a very great sinner, by showing him that notwithstanding the enormities of his sins, he need not despair of coming through penitence again close up to his offended Creator.” Bernard. Or, as Carey says, that his return must be no partial movement, “not one that would stop half way, but a return quite to God”]. If thou removest iniquity far (puttest it far away) from thy tents.—This second conditional clause, being parallel to the antecedent clause in a, needs no apodosis. It adds to the former a more specific qualification, which in itself indeed is not necessary, but which is appropriately illustrative of the former; comp. Job 11:14. The LXX, who in the first member read תֵּעָנֶח (καὶ ταπεινώσῃς) instead of תִּבָּנֵח construed the whole verse as the antecedent, Job 22:24-25 as parenthetic, and Job 22:26 as consequent—a dragging construction, which indeed has a parallel in Job 11:13-15, but has less to justify it here in the sense and connection. [The E. V. in making the last clause a part of the apodosis—“thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away, etc.,” does not quite correctly set forth the logical relation of the clauses. E.]

Job 22:25. And lay down in (or cast down to) the dust the precious ore.—The word בֶּצֶר, which occurs only here and in the following verse, signifies according to the etymology as well as the connection precious metal, gold or silver, and that in its crude, unprepared state, as it is brought forth out of the shafts of the mountain mines, hence “gold and silver ore,” “virgin-gold” (Delitzsch). The “laying down of such metal in the dust” signifies that one relieves himself of it as of worthless trash. The second member expresses the same thought still more strongly. And among the pebbles of the brooks (בְּצוּר assonant with בֶּצֶר) the gold of Ophir,—אוֹפִיר for the more complete and common כֶּתֶם אוֹפִיר, comp. Job 28:16; Psalm 45:10, 9], etc., also such modern mercantile abbreviations as Mocha, Damask, Champagne, etc. In regard to the much disputed location of the land of Ophir (LXX, Ὠφείρ,—Cod. Al. however Σωφείρ, which reminds us of Sufâra, on the peninsula of Guzerat, in India, as well as of the Coptic Sofir, used as a name for India) comp. the Realwörterbücher [Cyclopædias and Dictionaries]; also Bähr on 1 Kings 10:22 [Vol. VI. of this series, p122]. To the earlier theories which located Ophir in India, or in Arabia has been added latterly that of Sir Rod. Murchison, who in a Report to the London Geographical Society is inclined to the opinion that the south-African coast around the mouth of the Limpopo river is the true Ophir of the Bible, supporting his view in part by the conjectures of the well-known archæologist, John Crawford (in his Descriptive Dictionary of the Indian Islands), which point to this locality, and in part by the discoveries of districts abounding in gold, which the German traveller, K. Mauch, claims to have made since1866 in this very region (north of the colony of Natal). Comp. the Ausland, 1868, No39: Die Goldfünde in der Kolonie Natal und das Ophir der Bibel—which essay indeed rightly prefers the combinations of K. Ritter, Chr. Lassen, etc. pointing to the East Indies, while an article in the “Globus,” Vol18, No24, p369 seeks to mediate between the two hypotheses by supposing Ophir to be “a wild region on the Indian Ocean, which embraced a part of the eastern coast of Africa and of the western coast of India.”

Job 22:25. Apodosis. Then will the Almighty be thy treasure (בְּצָרִים, pl. of בֶּצֶר, hence lit “pieces of gold-ore, pieces of metal”) and silver in heaps to thee—scil, “will He be.”—תּוֹעָפוֹת which occurs elsewhere only in Numbers 23:22; Numbers 24:8; and Psalm 95:4, has received very different explanations. According to these passages, however, it must signify “things standing out high and prominent.” Here, therefore it must mean either “high heaps of silver,” or “long, prominent bars of silver.” The former definition is favored by the fact that the Arabic certifies for יעף the signification, “to tower, to grow, to mount upward,” a meaning which the Vulgate expresses here also (argentum coacervabitur tibi), while on the contrary the derivation of the word from the root יפע, “to shine” (comp. the LXX: καθαρὀν ὤσπερ ἀργὐριον πεπυρωμἐνον), or even from יָעֵף, “to be weary” (Gesen. in Thes, Böttcher [Con. “silver sought with toil”] etc), has but slight etymological foundation. In regard to the sentiment in Job 22:24-25 comp. New Testament parallels: like Matthew 6:20; Matthew 6:33; Matthew 19:21; Luke 12:33; 1 Timothy 6:16-19, etc. [The rendering of these two verses (24, 25) by the E. V. is to be rejected as inconsistent with the language (thus שִׁית־עַל־עָפָר cannot be “to lay up as dust”), and as yielding a much feebler sense.—E.]

Sixth Strophe: Job 22:26-30 : Further expansion of the promise annexed to the admonition.—Yea, then shalt thou delight thyself in the Almighty.—כִּי־אָז confirmatory, as in Job 11:15 : or argumentative—“for then,” etc., which is the common rendering. For the representation of God as the object of joy or delight on the part of the righteous comp. Psalm 37:4; Isaiah 58:14. In regard to “lifting up the face” as an expression of freedom from the consciousness of sin (the opposite of נָֽפְלוּ פָנִים, Genesis 4:6), comp. above Job 11:15.

Job 22:27. If thou prayest to Him,etc.—תֲּעְתִּיר hypothetical antecedent without אִם, as also תִּגְזַר in the following verse. As to הֱעֶתִיר to pray (lit. “to present incense”), comp. Exodus 8:4, 8], 25 29]; 10:17. In respect to “discharging,” i.e. “fulfilling” vows (here most naturally such as have been offered in connection with prayer), see Psalm 22:26, 25]; 50:14; 61:6 5], 9 8]; 65:2 1]. Comp. v. Gerlach on this passage (below in the Homiletical Remarks).

Job 22:28. If thou purposest anything, so shall it come to pass to thee.—גזר lit. “to cut off,” here as an Aramaism in the sense of “to purpose, determine.” אֹמֶר, either = דָּבָר “a matter, anything,” or “design, plan” (Del.). As to קוּם, “to come to pass, to be realized,” comp. Isaiah 7:7; Proverbs 15:22; in respect to “light upon thy ways,” see Job 19:8.

Job 22:29. When they lead downwardsviz. thy ways (as to הִשְׁפִּיל, “to make low, to lead downwards,” comp. Jeremiah 13:18), then thou sayestUpward!—גִּוָה, syncopated form of גְּאֵזָה (Ewald § 62, b; 73, b), lit. “uplifting;” here as an interjection, meaning—“upward! arise!” not, however, as a petition in a prayer (Dillm, etc.), but as a triumphant exclamation in thanksgiving. [This rendering is certainly not free from objection, especially on account of the artificial cast which it seems to give to the expression The rendering of E. V, however: “when men are cast down, then thou shalt say, etc.,” is still less satisfactory, destroying as it does the connection between the first and second members, leaving two verbs, הִשְׁפִּילוּ and יוֹשִׁעַ, with subjects unexpressed, and introducing in a a thought which is scarcely suited to this connection, and which is subsequently introduced with climactic force in30b.—E.] And to the humbled one (i.e., to thee, if thou art humbled; lit. “to him who has downcast eyes,” LXX.: κύφοντα ὀφθαλμοῖς) He works out deliverance;i.e., God, who is also the subject of the first member in the following verse. It is not necessary therefore with the Pesh. and Vulg. to read the passive יִוָּשֵׁעַ.

[Another striking example of that dramatic irony in which our author from time to time indulges, when he allows for a moment the light of the future to fall on his characters in such a way as to present the contrast between their thoughts and God’s thoughts.—E.] Seb. Schmidt and J. D. Michaelis have already given the correct explanation, as follows: Liberabit Deus et propter puritatem manuum tuarum alios, quos propria innocentia ipsos deficiens ipsos deficiens non esset liberatura. So also substantially most moderns, while Hirzel arbitrarily understands by the not-guiltless one Job, with another subject for the second member. Umbreit, however, gives a still harsher construction, taking Job as the object of the first member (= אִי־נָקִי), and at the same time as subject of the second member, which he treats as addressed to God: “yea, he (Job) is delivered by the pureness of Thy hands;” i.e., by Thy Divine righteousness. [E. V, in taking אִי in its usual meaning of “island,” gives a rendering which is seen at once to be altogether unsuitable.—E.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Eliphaz in the second part of this new discourse is prompted to discuss somewhat more thoroughly than before the proposition advanced by Job ( Job 21) touching the frequent contradiction between the moral desert and the outward lot of men, which he does indeed only by representing the prosperity of the wicked, the existence of which he cannot deny, as only apparent, and quickly passing away ( Job 22:15-20). Following upon this discussion, which has in it little that is personal, and which concerns itself rather with the subject-matter, he resumes the tone of fatherly admonition and persuasion by promises of good found in his first discourse, instead of continuing the purely threatening tone of the second ( Job 15), closing even with a prophetic picture so full of light, that it quite rivals in the freshness and glow of its colors that found at the close of the first discourse ( Job 5:17 seq.), and breathes a spirit which certainly proves him to be in his way Job’s sincere well-wisher. In all these particulars, and to this extent, Eliphaz, the oldest of Job’s friends and their leader, here at the beginning of the third act of the colloquy exhibits progress for the better in his way of thinking—a progress, moreover, to which Job himself contributes by the skill with which he vindicates himself, and the moral superiority of his spirit. On the other hand, however, it must be said that he is guilty of misunderstanding and of misrepresenting in a one-sided manner Job’s doubts resulting from the disproportion between human desert and happiness ( Job 22:13-14), and so perverts them, as though Job had advanced frivolous epicurean conceptions of the Deity, and thus denied a special Providence, leaving the destinies of men on earth to be ruled over by accident. In close connection with this gross misconception of Job’s opinions, and serving to explain it, is the Revelation -affirmation which he makes in the First Division through the medium of a downright syllogism ( Job 22:2-5) of grievous crime on the part of Job as the ground of his sufferings, proceeding so far even as to name particular sins of which he arbitrarily assumes him to be guilty, and pushing his charges to the most outrageous excess ( Job 22:6-9). In both these respects we see an advance on the part of the speaker in an evil direction, an increasing bitterness, a constant stubborn refusal to entertain the truth. We accordingly find in this discourse in one direction certainly an apparent preparation for a peaceful solution and harmonious reconciliation of the conflict; but in another direction, and that the very one which is important and decisive, it simply contributes to the heightening of the conflict, and by inciting Job to bitterness, makes it more and more impossible for the sorely tried sufferer to enter upon a truly calm and convincing exhibition of the goodness of his cause, and thus points with a necessity which ever becomes more and more imperative, to the final intervention of a higher Arbiter as the only way of unraveling the entangled coil of the controversy.

2. In consequence of this advance both in a good and an evil direction, this new discourse of Eliphaz bears in a much higher degree than his two former ones the character of a peculiar double-sidedness, and self-contradiction in its expressions. Considered in itself it is “the purest truth, expressed in the most striking and beautiful form; but as an answer to the speech of Job the dogma of the friends itself is destroyed in it, by the false conclusion by which it is obliged to justify itself to itself” (Delitzsch). In one respect its expressions breathe the spirit of a genuine prophet, of a divinely enlightened teacher of wisdom of the patriarchal age. But in another respect, in that, namely, which concerns the sharply malicious tendency which they reveal against Job. they seem like the sayings of a false prophet, and even of a passionate accuser and spiteful suspecter of suffering innocence. They have a double sound to them, like the expressions of one who is at once a Moses and a Balaam. “According to their general substance these speeches are genuine diamonds; according to their special application they are false ones” (Delitzsch).—Eliphaz gives utterance to the purest and most elevated conceptions of God, and His infinitely wise and righteous dealings. At the very beginning of the first division he describes His blessed all-sufficiency; at the beginning of the second His heaven-high exaltation, His majesty comparable to the unchangeable brilliancy of the stars; and in the third division he sets forth with incomparable and truly impressive power His fatherly gentleness and compassion, which willingly hears the prayer of the penitent sinner. And what he affirms in respect to the inexorable rigor with which the justice of the same God inflicts punishment, as it was manifested in judgment upon the sinners of the primeval world, upon the ungodly antediluvians ( Job 22:15-18), even that produces an impression all the more deep and forcible in that it has for its setting those splendid descriptions radiating forth their mild brilliancy. Yet after all that inviting description of the divine all-sufficiency is used in the service of a low, external and vulgar theory of retribution, which is deduced from it by an audacious sophism, and an unexampled logical leap (see on Job 22:5). After all that admonitory reference to the majestic movement of God as the All-seeing Ruler of the universe, and the inexorable Avenger of the wicked, shoots wide of the mark in so far as it is aimed at Job, for it was neither true that Job had denied the special Providence and Omniscience of God (as Eliphaz in Job 22:13-14, by a crafty process of deduction, reproached him with doing), nor that his sins were of such a character that they could even approximately be compared with those of the insolent blasphemers and deniers of God in Noah’s time. Finally, the beautiful words of promise in the closing division, with their reference to God’s goodness as Father, and with their counsel to seek the love of this God as the most precious of all treasures ( Job 22:24-25), are wanting in all true power of consolation for Job, and lose entirely their apparent value in consequence of that which precedes them. For if Job is to seek God as his heavenly treasure, it is presupposed that hitherto he has loved earthly treasures more than was right, nay, that he has been guilty of the sins and transgressions of grasping tyrants, as was intimated in the first division ( Job 22:6-9). And if Job had really sinned so wantonly, and subscribed to the atheistic sentiments of the generation that was destroyed by the deluge, then all advice to repent and return to the Heavenly Father would be for him practically useless; at least from the stand-point of Eliphaz, characterized as it was by the pride of legal virtue, such an exhortation, together with the promise of good which accompanied it, could scarcely have been uttered sincerely. [Should we not, however, make allowance for the perplexing dilemma in which the friends found themselves placed? Was there not a constant strife between the deductions of their logic and the instincts of their affection? Is it strange that the rigor of the former should be continually qualified by the tenderness of the latter? And does not our poet skillfully avail himself of this inconsistency to relieve what would otherwise be the intolerable harshness of their position?—E.]

3. This two-fold character appertaining to the utterances of Eliphaz, it is evident, increases largely the difficulty of the homiletic expounder of this chapter, especially if he would not simply seize upon and bring forth single pearls or gems, but consider the beautiful glittering jewel as a whole. For in order to a correct appreciation, and a truly fruitful application of the contents of the discourse, which is not wanting in richness, it is indispensable to avoid as much as possible any mutilation of so well-connected a whole, and to note everywhere not only what is true, but also what is false and one-sided in the utterances of the speaker. The Moses and the Balaam sides of the prophet must be exhibited together. Any other treatment, any one-sided favorable representation of the speaker’s character would contradict the evident purpose of the poet, which is from the beginning to the end of this discourse to present truth and error blended and amalgamated together. This is especially indicated by the circumstance that Eliphaz at the close of the discourse appears wholly in the character of a pseudo-prophet, of the order of Balaam, and is compelled unwillingly to prophesy the issue of the controversy, and that too as one that is decidedly unfavorable to him and his associates. “He who now, considering himself as נָקִי, preaches penitence to Job, shall at last stand forth אִי נָקִי, and will be one of the first who need Job’s intercession as the servant of God, and whom he is able mediatorially to rescue by the purity of his hands” (Delitzsch—comp. above on Job 22:29-30).

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Job 22:2 seq. Brentius: This is indeed a most beautiful exhortation to repentance which Eliphaz here delivers; but what is it to Job? Eliphaz therefore sins in this direction, because that by these words he falsely charges Job with iniquity and impiety, and this with no other reason for so doing than that he sees him to be afflicted. … Everything is well said, but carnally understood. For carnal wisdom thinks that in this life blessing attends the godly in temporal affairs, but a curse the ungodly; whereas truth teaches that in this life, to the godly, the blessing accompanies the curse, life death, salvation damnation; while, on the contrary, to the ungodly, the curse accompanies the blessing, death life, damnation salvation.

Job 22:6 seq. Starke (after the Tübingen Bible and Zeyss): To withhold a pledge which has been received, and to oppress the poor, are heinous sins, which cry out to heaven ( Exodus 22:26 seq.). To sin against the widows, the orphans, the poor, the needy, etc., infallibly brings down severe punishment from God, as One who has His eye specially on those, Sirach 35:18 seq.

Job 22:12 seq. Cocceius: It is an old error that God dwells in the highest summit of heaven, and touches those things which are lower only by a certain force impressed on those things which are nearest to Himself, and gradually transmitted from them;—an error which Scripture refutes when it says that God is a God at hand, and not a God afar off ( Jeremiah 23:23 seq.), for no part of creation is nearer to God than any other.—Wohlfarth: “God is too exalted to trouble himself about the affairs of men:” thus do many still think, and walk accordingly in the path of unbelief, sin and destruction. Only the Tempter can persuade them to this. Just because God is the most exalted Being, nothing is hidden from Him; and He knows even our most secret actions, our most hidden wishes, our most silent sufferings ( Jeremiah 23:23 seq.; Psalm 139:1 seq.; Matthew 6:8; 1 John 3:20, etc.).

Job 22:17 seq. Starke: As it is the wish and longing of the godly, that God would draw nigh to them, Song of Solomon, on the contrary, the burden of the song of the ungodly is: “Depart from us!” They would gladly leave to God His heaven, if He would only leave to them their earthly pleasure.—God oftentimes seeks to allure the wicked to repentance by multiplying their earthly possessions; if, however, He does not succeed in this, it results only in their heavier condemnation. When they think that they are most firmly established, God suddenly casts them down, and brings them to nought ( Psalm 73:19).

Job 22:19. Wohlfarth: May the Christian also rejoice in the destruction of sinners? Eliphaz, in accordance with the way of thinking in his time, speaks of the pleasure of the righteous when sinners are seized by the hand of the Lord. Christ wept in sight of Jerusalem over its hardened inhabitants, and said: “How often,” etc. ( Matthew 23:37; Luke 19:42 seq.) … When, therefore, the Lord blesses the righteous, rejoice, O Christian! but do not mock at the sinner, but save him when thou canst do it ( James 5:19-20),—when not, mourn for him as thy brother, whose fate demands pity.

Job 22:23-25. Starke: What sin tears down, God’s grace builds up again. Having this, you are rich enough! The world’s treasure and comfort are silver and gold, empty and perishable things; but the children of God’s only, highest, and best portion is God Himself ( Psalm 73:25 seq.).—V. Gerlach: If thou dost cling with the heart to God, thou canst throw away thy gold, or lose it without concern; the Almighty still remains thy perennial treasure; whereas, on the contrary, without Him the most laborious cares and watchings avail nothing.

Job 22:27. V. Gerlach: The paying of the vows, which is elsewhere presented more as a duty, appears here as a promise: God will ever grant thee so much, that thou shalt be able to fulfill all thy vows!

Job 22:30. Jo. Lange: The intercession of a righteous man is so potent with God, that on account of it He spares even evil-doers, and visits them not with punishment ( Genesis 18:23 seq.; Ezekiel 14:14 seq.).

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Job 22:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/job-22.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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