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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Job 31

 

 

Introduction

Job 29-31. Job's Reply to Zophar.—He sums up his whole case, ending with an appeal to God. In Job 29 he surveys his former happy days, in Job 30 his present misery. Job 31 is his great oath of clearing": Job solemnly protests his innocence and invites God to judge his case. In Job 30:21-24 Job almost returns to his former feeling against God. Since Job 19:25 f. he has moved away from his great conviction that God will ultimately right him, to face the general problem of Providence, and has come to the dreadful conclusion that there is no moral law in the universe. He comes back, therefore, to the point from which he started, and demands that God should clear up matters here and now. It was necessary to the poet that Job should thus present his case in order to prepare for the Divine revelation which is the answer to the problem of Providence. He allows Job to gain the victory of faith and then to lose ground again, so as to state the wider problem and deal with it.


Verses 1-40

Job 31. "The Oath of Clearing."—Job's final protestation of his innocence, and appeal to God to judge him. This chapter, says Duhm, is the high-water mark of the OT ethic, higher than the Decalogue or even than the prophets, since they deal with social not private morality. Duhm notes especially the humanity towards the slave based on the fact of a common creation, also that we are not to hate our enemies. (Job does not go so far as to say, "Love your enemies;" that is Christ's.)

Job 31:1-4. Job clears himself of secret sensual desires. He remembered that the all-seeing God punishes the evildoer. Job speaks from the standpoint he had occupied before his trials made him doubt the Divine justice.

Job 31:5-8. He clears himself of falsehood and covetousness.

Job 31:9-12 of adultery. If he has been guilty of this let his wife become another's slave and concubine (Job 31:10). The slave-woman at the mill was the lowest female slave (Exodus 11:5).

Job 31:13-23. Job clears himself of the abuse of power, or the selfish indifference of wealth.

Job 31:21 means that Job knew that with his great influence he could always win his cause in the courts.

Job 31:24-34. Job clears himself of trust in his wealth, of idolatrous tendencies, of hating his enemy, of inhospitableness, of other secret sin.

Job 31:27 b is literally, "and my hand hath kissed my mouth." "This strange form is chosen because the hand is the main instrument in the act; first it touches the lips to receive the kiss, then wafts the kiss to the object of worship. The kiss of homage was given to images by the worshipper, and of course ‘thrown' to such deities as the distant heavenly bodies" (Peake). Of Job 31:29 Duhm says that if ch. 31 is the crown of the ethical development of the OT, then this verse is the jewel in the crown. In Job 31:33 probably instead of text "like Adam" we should translate as mg. "after the manner of men."

Job 31:35-37. Oh that one would hear him! Let God give him his indictment, he would proudly confront Him and declare his innocence.

In Job 31:35 "signature" is the "mark" which Job in imagination appends to his declaration of innocence.

Job 31:35 c is incomplete, but the sense is rightly given by RV. The adversary is God. The language in this verse reflects a judicial procedure where the charge and the defence were laid before the court in writing.

Job 31:38-40. Job clears himself of having violently dispossessed others of their land (as Ahab did Naboth). The cry of the land (Job 31:38) is to be understood as the cry of the blood of the dispossessed owners. There is no doubt that these verses are out of place; where during the earlier part of the chapter we should insert them is not clear. Unfortunately, however, their presence where they are spoils the magnificent close of Job 31:37.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Job 31:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/job-31.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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