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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Job 2

 

 


Verse 1

Job 2:1. Again there was a day — Another appointed season, some convenient time after the former calamities. Heath translates ויהי הוים, vajehi hajom, Again it was the day. Of this and the two next verses, see notes on Job 1:6-8.


Verse 3

Job 2:3. Hast thou considered, &c. — Hebrew, השׁמת לבךְ, hashamta libbecha, Hast thou set thy heart on my servant? &c. And still he holdeth fast his integrity — Notwithstanding all his trials and tribulations, and thy malicious suggestion to the contrary, he continues to be the same perfect and upright man he was before; and all thy efforts to wrest from him his integrity, and draw him into sin, have been fruitless. Although thou movedst me, &c. — It is justly observed by a late writer, that the translation of this verse will be more agreeable to the Hebrew, if, with the vulgar Latin, we place the interrogation after the word integrity; namely, Timens Deum, et recedens a malo, et adhuc retinens innocentiam? Fearing God, departing from evil, and still holding fast his integrity? For thus do the three participles in Hebrew follow one another. Instead then of rendering the next word, although thou movedst me; he proposes reading, And yet thou movest me; or, to continue the interrogation, namely, And dost thou, or, wilt thou, move me against him to destroy him without cause? This, and the rest of this representation, respecting Satan’s moving, that is, persuading and prevailing with God, to bring, or to suffer this his enemy to bring, these grievous calamities upon Job, is not to be understood literally; as if God could be moved by any of his creatures, especially by Satan, to alter or depart from his own wise and holy purposes, which are all eternal and unchangeable, to gratify that evil spirit by granting his desires: but the design is simply to signify the devil’s restless malice, in promoting man’s misery, and God’s permission of it, for his own glory. To destroy him without cause — Without any signal guilt or special provocation, whereby he, more than others, deserved to be chastised by such heavy calamities; not but that there might be other very weighty causes for them: for the divine wisdom, we may be sure, neither does nor suffers any thing without cause; that is, without a sufficient reason. That good men are sometimes extremely afflicted, and that not only in their outward estate, but in their persons, as Job was, is too plain to be denied; (see John 9:3;) and, whether God permits wicked spirits, or wicked men, or any thing else, to be the immediate instrument of a good man’s sufferings, makes no alteration as to the nature or degree of his sufferings. But the word חנםchinnam, here rendered, without cause, may, with equal propriety, be translated, as it is Proverbs 1:17; Ezekiel 6:10, and elsewhere, in vain; and be referred, not to God’s destroying him, but to Satan’s moving God so to do. And then the reading will be, Thou hast in vain moved, or dost, or wilt, in vain move me to destroy him; that is, without effect, or to no purpose; for thou art not able to take away his integrity, which, in spite of all thy art and malice, he still holds fast. Thus Junius and Tremellius translate the words: Hast thou considered my servant Job — that he still retains his integrity? and, in vain hast thou excited me to destroy him: and Houbigant, He still retains his integrity, after thou hast excited me against him, that I might trouble him, in vain.


Verse 4

Job 2:4. Skin for skin, &c. — The design of these words is plain, which was to detract from Job, and to diminish that honour and praise which God gave him, by pretending that he had done no more than the meanest men commonly do by the law of self-preservation. And it is equally clear that this was a proverbial speech then in use, to denote the great value in which life is held, insomuch that, to preserve it, a man would suffer even his skin to be torn off. It may signify also that a man, in order to save his life, would willingly suffer himself to be stripped of all his property. But the words בעד נפשׁוbegnad naphsho, rendered here, for his life, ought rather to be rendered, for his person. For the question was not about his life, which Satan had not the impudence to desire; nor indeed could the trial be made, by taking away his life, whether he would hold fast his integrity; but rather by smiting him in his bone, and in his flesh. And Satan, in these words, insinuates that severe bodily pain was much more grievous to the human nature, and would be less patiently borne by Job, than any outward calamities which did not affect his own person. It is as if he had said, How dear soever a man’s goods, or servants, or children, may be to him, yet still his own person is dearer; and seeing that Job is still under no pain of body, and in no danger of losing his life, his constancy is not to be boasted of: nor is his holding fast his integrity amidst his losses, nor his patience under them, an evidence of his sincere and generous piety, but these things are rather effects of mere self-love: he is content with the loss of his estate, and even of his children too, so long as he sleeps in a whole skin; and is well pleased that thou wilt accept of these as a ransom in his stead. And it is not true patience which makes him seem to bear his troubles so submissively, but rather policy, that he may in this way appease thy wrath against him, and prevent those further plagues, which, for his hypocrisy, he fears thou wouldst otherwise bring upon his body.


Verse 5

Job 2:5. But touch his bone and his flesh — That is, smite him, not slightly, but to the quick, to the bones and marrow, so that he may feel pain and anguish indeed: and he will curse thee to thy face — Will openly and daringly blaspheme thy perfections, and reproach the dispensations of thy providence, and so will let go his integrity. Satan knew, and we find by experience, that nothing has a greater tendency to ruffle the mind, and put its passions into disorder, than acute pain and distemper of body.


Verse 6

Job 2:6. The Lord said, Behold, he is in thy hand — I give thee permission to try him even in this way: do thy worst at him; afflict him to the uttermost of thy power. But save his life — Do not attempt to take that away which I will not suffer thee to do. God had mercy in store for Job, after this trial, and therefore he must survive it; and how much soever he may be afflicted, his life must be given him for a prey. If God did not chain up the roaring lion, how soon would he devour us! As far as he permits the wrath of Satan and wicked men to proceed against his people, he will make it turn to his own praise and theirs, and the remainder thereof he will restrain. Job, in being thus maligned and afflicted by Satan, was a type of Christ; whose heel that infernal serpent was permitted to bruise, to touch even his bone and his flesh, yea, and his life also; because, by dying, he was to do what Job could not do, to destroy him that had the power of death.


Verse 7

Job 2:7. Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord — Or, from the Lord, απο του κυριου, as the LXX. render it. Compare Acts 5:41, They departed, απο προσωπου του συνεδριου, from the presence of the council that is, from the council. And smote Job with sore biles ελκει πονηρω, with a foul ulcer, or evil inflammation, say the Seventy; breaking out and spreading itself over all his body. The biles, it seems, were like those inflicted upon the Egyptians, which are expressed by the same word, and threatened to the apostate Israelites, (Deuteronomy 28:27,) whereby he was made loathsome to himself and to his nearest relations, and filled with consuming pains in his body, and no less torments and anguish in his mind. From the sole of his foot unto his crown — In all the outward parts of his body. “His tongue,” says Poole, “he spared, that it might be capable of uttering those blasphemies against God which Satan desired and expected him to utter.” One boil, when it is gathering, is very distressing, and gives a man abundance of pain and uneasiness. What a condition was Job then in, who had biles all over his body, no part being free, and those as much inflamed, and of as raging a heat, as Satan could make them! If at any time we be exercised with sore and grievous distempers, let us not think ourselves more hardly dealt with than God has sometimes dealt with the best of his saints and servants. We know not how far Satan may have a hand, by God’s permission, in the diseases with which mankind, especially the children of God, are afflicted; or what infections that prince of the air may spread, what inflammations may come from that fiery serpent. We read of one whom he had bound for many years, Luke 13:10. And should God suffer him to have his will against us, he would soon make the best and bravest of us very miserable. It is a judicious remark of Dr. Mede here, that it is not Job himself or his friends, but the author of the book, who attributes his calamities to Satan; for this writer’s intention seems to have been to show, by a striking example, that the world is governed by the providence of God; and as the holy angels, whose ministry God makes use of in distributing his bountiful gifts, punctually execute all his commands; so Satan himself, with his agents, are under the power of God, and cannot inflict any evils on mankind without the divine permission.


Verse 8

Job 2:8. And he took a potsherd, &c. — His children and servants were all dead, his wife unkind, and none of those whom he had formerly befriended had so much sense of honour and gratitude as to minister to him in his distress, to furnish him with linen clothes, or lend a hand to cleanse or dress his running sores; either because the disease was loathsome and offensive, or because they apprehended it to be infectious. Being therefore deprived of other relief, he laid hold on what was next at hand, a piece of a broken pot, or tile, to press out, or remove, the purulent matter which was under his ulcers, or flowed from them, and was the great cause of his pain; or to rub them, and allay the itching, which, as they began to die away, probably became intolerable. The Hebrew word להתגרד, le-hithgared, here used, which we translate to scrape himself, occurs nowhere else in the Bible, but is said to be frequently used in Chaldee and Arabic in the sense of pulling off bark or leaves from trees, and is here rendered by the LXX. ινα τον ιχωρα ξυη, that he might wipe off, or cleanse away, the corrupt matter. And sat down among the ashes — επι της κοπριας εξω της πολεως, upon the dung-hill without the city, say the Seventy. Here he would easily find a potsherd at hand, but not any clean and soft linen clothes, much less any ointments, salves, or plasters, proper for the healing of his sores. But it is probable, if he had had such things at hand he would not have used them; for as he sat down in this place, in dust and ashes, as mourners used to do, humbling himself under the mighty hand of God, so, in the same spirit of self-abasement and humiliation, he would have declined all things that savoured of tenderness and delicacy, and have still used his potsherd.


Verse 9

Job 2:9. Then said his wife — Whom Satan had spared, that she might be a troubler and tempter to him. For it is his policy to send his temptations by those that are dear to us. We ought, therefore, carefully to watch, that we be not drawn to any evil by them whom we love and value the most. Dost thou still retain thine integrity? — Art thou so weak as still to persist in the practice of righteousness, when it is not only unprofitable to thee, but the chief occasion of all these thy insupportable miseries, and when God himself not only forsakes and leaves thee in this helpless and hopeless condition, but is turned to be thy greatest enemy? This is evidently the meaning of the expression, holding fast his integrity, when used by God, speaking of Job, Job 2:3, and, it seems, must be its meaning here; and not, as some commentators have supposed, the maintaining that he was innocent of those secret sins with which his friends appeared to have charged him; a sense of the words which would not at all suit the connection in which this, or the third verse, stands with the verses following. Curse God and die — Seeing thy blessing and praising God avail thee so little, it is time for thee to change thy language. Reproach him to his face, and tell him of his injustice and unkindness to thee; and that he loves his enemies and hates his friends, and that will provoke him to take away thy life, and so end thy torments. Or, Curse God, though thou die for it. This is the sense in which the same Hebrew word is evidently used by Satan, (Job 1:11,) and, as it appears from the next verse, that Job’s wife was now under Satan’s influence, and was an instrument employed by him to tempt her husband, and so to forward his design, which certainly was to prevail with Job to curse or reproach God; this seems to be her meaning. Inasmuch, however, as the original word, although it sometimes evidently signifies to curse, yet generally means to bless, it may be so interpreted here if we consider Job’s wife as speaking ironically, as many, even pious, persons, are represented in the Scriptures to have spoken. The meaning then will be, Bless God and die — That is, I see thou art set upon blessing God; thou blessest him for giving, and thou blessest him for taking away: and thou art even blessing him for thy loathsome and tormenting diseases, and he rewards thee accordingly, giving thee more and more of that kind of mercy for which thou blessest him. Go on, therefore, in this thy generous course, and die as a fool dieth. And, this being her meaning, it is not strange that he reproves her so sharply for it in the next words.


Verse 10

Job 2:10. But he said, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh — That is, like a rash, inconsiderate, and weak woman, that does not understand nor mind what she says: or rather, like a wicked and profane person, for such are frequently called fools in the Scriptures. Shall we receive good, &c., and shall we not receive evil? — Shall we poor worms give laws to our supreme Lord, and oblige him never to afflict us? And shall not those great and manifold mercies, which from time to time God hath given us, compensate these short afflictions? Ought we not to bless God for those mercies which we did not deserve, and contentedly bear those afflictions which we do deserve, and stand in need of, and by which, if it be not our own fault, we may get so much good. Shall we not receive — Shall we not expect to receive evil, namely, the evil of suffering? If God give us so many good things, shall we be surprised, or think it strange, if he sometimes afflict us, when he has told us, that prosperity and adversity are set the one against the other? 1 Peter 4:12. If we receive so many comforts, shall we not receive some afflictions, which will serve as foils to our comforts, to make them the more valuable? Shall we not be taught the worth of our mercies, by being made sometimes to want them, and as allays to our comforts, to make them the less dangerous, to keep the balance even, and to prevent our being lifted up above measure? 2 Corinthians 12:7. If we receive so much good for the body, shall we not receive some good for the soul? That is, some affliction, by which we may be made partakers of God’s holiness? Hebrews 12:10. Let murmuring, therefore, as well as boasting, be for ever excluded. In all this did not Job sin with his lips — By any reflections upon God, by any impatient or unbecoming expression. In other words, he held fast his integrity in the sense explained above; which this demonstrates to be the true sense of that phrase.


Verse 11

Job 2:11. When Job’s three friends heard of all this, &c. — Who were persons eminent for birth and quality, for wisdom and knowledge, and for the profession of the true religion, being probably, as has been observed on Job 1:1, of the posterity of Abraham, akin to Job, and living in the same country with him. See that note. The preserving so much wisdom and piety among those that were not children of the promise was a happy presage of God’s grace to the Gentiles, when the partition wall should, in the latter days, be taken down. Esau lost the birthright, and when he should have regained it, was rejected, yet it appears many of his descendants inherited some of the best blessings.


Verse 12

Job 2:12. When they lifted up their eyes afar off — Namely, at some convenient distance from him; whom they found sitting upon the ground, probably in the open air. And knew him not — His countenance being so dreadfully changed and disfigured by the ulcers. They lifted up their voice and wept — Through their sympathy with him, and great grief for his heavy affliction. And they rent every one his mantle — As it was usual for people to do in great and sudden calamities. And sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven — Either on the upper part of their heads toward heaven, or threw it up into the air, so that it fell upon their heads, and showed the confusion they were in: all which things were marks of great grief and affliction, and were the usual ways of expressing sorrow in those days.


Verse 13

Job 2:13. So they sat down with him upon the ground — In the same mournful posture wherein they found him, which indeed was the usual posture of mourners, condoling with him. Sitting on the ground, in the language of the eastern people, signifies their passing the time in the deepest mourning. Seven days and seven nights — Which was the usual time of mourning for the dead, Genesis 50:10; 1 Samuel 31:13, and therefore proper, both for Job’s children, who were dead, and for Job himself, who was in a manner, dead while he lived: not that they continued in this posture so long together, which the necessities of nature could not bear: but they spent a great, or the greatest, part of that time in sitting with him, and silent mourning over him. And none spake a word to him —

About his afflictions or the cause of them, or, perhaps, about any thing. “A long silence,” says Dr. Dodd, “is a very natural effect of an extraordinary grief, which overwhelms the mind, and creates a sort of stupor and astonishment. Thus we find the Prophet Ezekiel 3:15, sitting with his brethren of the captivity by the river Chebar, for seven days, astonished, silent among them, as the Chaldee renders it; struck dumb, as it were, at the apprehension of their present miseries, and the still greater calamities coming on his country.” And thus were Job’s friends affected on this occasion; their long silence arising from the greatness of their grief for him, and their surprise and astonishment at the condition in which they found him. They probably, also, thought it proper to give him some further time to vent his own sorrows; and might, as yet, not know what to say to him: for though they had ever esteemed him to be a truly good man, and came with a full purpose to comfort him; yet the prodigious greatness of his miseries, and that hand and apparent displeasure of God which they perceived in them, made them now question his sincerity, so that they could not comfort him as they had intended, and yet were loath to grieve him with reproofs.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 2:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-2.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 20th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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