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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Job 2

 

 

Introduction

Job 1:1-2. Job's Fortune and Misfortune.—These chapters come from the original "Volksbuch" of popular story, and relate how a certain Job in the land of Uz was the most pious man of his time and more fortunate than all his neighbours. It is further related how the Satan disputed the sincerity of his religion, and twice by God's leave put him to the severest proof: these tests, however, Job triumphantly endured. Finally it is told how three friends came to comfort him.


Verses 1-10

Job 2:1-10. The Narrative of the Second Conversation between Yahweh and the Satan and its Issues.—Again the heavenly council comes together, and Yahweh reproaches the Satan with instigating Him to bring undeserved affliction on Job. The terrible trial has been shown to be unnecessary. Job still holds fast his integrity. Satan's answer is ready. He speaks impudently, using a common proverb, the origin of which, however, we do not know. Perhaps, says Duhm, the Bedouin may have threatened the shepherd, that he should pay with his own skin, if the cattle he tended were lost. The meaning is, as the second part of the sentence shows: nothing is more precious than life. What the Satan would say then is: the wager is not lost yet, the trial did not touch Job near enough. His goods, his children indeed have been touched, but that is not enough. His life has been spared. Yahweh consequently permits the Satan further to afflict Job, and this time personally. But He still makes the reservation that his life be spared, which indeed is necessary, as his death would make the trial useless The malicious craft of the Satan is seen in the stroke with which he afflicts Job, the kind of leprosy known as elephantiasis, the symptoms of which are frequently mentioned in the poem. (This is the usual identification of Job's disease; others are the Oriental sore (Macalister in HDB, iii. p. 330) and ecthyma (see Peake's Commentary, p. 66)). Leprosy is a disease from which no recovery is to be expected, which therefore cuts off from Job even the possibility of hope for the return of happiness. Thus the test of Job's piety is made absolute. If he still holds on, it can only be because his service of God is purely disinterested—every motive of interest has been removed. Note too that the Satan in his malice anticipates the usual course of the leprosy, which is normally gradual in its development, breaking out first in one point only, and by degrees spreading over the body. Job is smitten at once "from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head" (Job 2:7). As a leper, he is driven forth from men; and his sole refuge is the village dunghill or refuse heap, the only resting-place of outcasts, who, stricken with some loathsome disease, are excluded from the dwellings of men. We now see how the natural man would behave under Job's misfortune. This is exemplified by the behaviour of his wife. Her advice means that an instantaneous death as the result of blasphemy would be a less evil than Job's perpetual torment. She is not a godless woman, but hopelessly embittered by Job's misfortunes. Her religion is just what the Satan said Job's was, a fair-weather religion only. Compare Mr. By-ends in the Pilgrim's Progress. "'Tis true we differ in religion from those of the strict sort, yet but in one or two small points: (1) we never strive against wind and tide, (2) we are always most zealous when religion goes in his silver slippers: we love most to walk with him in the street, if the sun shines and the people applaud him."

Job 2:10. Job's answer: "Foolish" means godless because of thoughtlessness. Job bows before the absoluteness of God: he recites again "the creed of Oriental piety" (cf. Job 1:21-22). Job stands where he was before.


Verses 11-13

Job 2:11-13. Job's Three Friends Come to Condole with him.—The friends are Eastern princes like himself (LXX kings), hence live at a distance. "They knew him not," because he was so disfigured. They threw dust upon their heads, symbolising that Job s fortune and they themselves along with it are ruined by heaven-sent calamities, as a fertile land might be by dust-showers. They are so overwhelmed, that they sit seven days and seven nights, mourning for Job as if he were dead. "Seven days are the days of mourning for the dead" (Sirach 22:12). Thus we come to the end of the prologue, between which and the epilogue (Job 42:7-17) in the old Volksbuch must have been an account of the debate between Job and his friends, very different from the poem which we now possess. The friends evidently tried to comfort him, but what they said, we can now only infer. They certainly did not speak to him like his wife, but yet they spoke so wrongly of God, that He would have taken vengeance on them, had it not been for Job's intercession (Job 42:7).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Job 2:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/job-2.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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