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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Job 2

 

 


Verses 1-10

THE FIFTH AND SIXTH TEMPTATION, Job 2:1-10.

Job 2:1-2. See note on Job 1:6-7.


Verse 3

3. Holdeth fast his integrity — As a soldier his shield, because his life is wrapped up in it.

Movedst me — For the test and maturing of the godly character of men, the devices of Satan are tolerated in the divine scheme.

To destroy him without cause — “This points to a very important rule in the divine administration, according to which the cause of a destructive temptation is something in a man’s self — a sin, for example, leading on to a larger and larger. There was no such cause in Job why he should be tempted to destruction.” — Chalmers. The bias of the heart to any peculiar sin invites trial or temptation; while the cherishing of secret sin subsequently lands us in a larger temptation. The metallic rock hidden in the each attracts not one, but many lightning strokes. The strokes of trial, in the mercy of God, are meant not to scathe, but to burn out the subtle springs of sin’s disease. That the malicious aspersions of Satan may be confounded, and Job become an exemplar to the Church in all ages, God is moved, of his own free will, to permit the trial of Job, though without cause.


Verse 4

4. Skin for skin — Among the conflicting interpretations of this difficult verse are, first, that a man will readily give the skin, that is, the life of others for his own skin or life. Just as by “life for life,” in Exodus 21:23, is meant the giving of one life for another, Job would gladly yield up every thing — property, friends, relatives even, (so Satan meant to say,) if so be that his own precious life might be preserved. Such sacrifice, Satan insinuates, is no proof of godly fear; it is no more than what any one else would do under like circumstances. Touch his own life, and we shall see how he will curse thee. The second theory may be called that of mercantile exchange, as if the passage read “like for like,” “an equivalent for an equivalent,” “as one dead thing (=skin) resembles another dead thing.” — Ewald. Thus so long as Job keeps his life, he is only half tried. Hitzig also interprets: One gives skin for skin; that is, every thing has its price, but a man will take nothing, and will give every thing, for his life: as in a storm the most precious freight is cast into the sea that the human freight may be saved. The Jewish expositors take the meaning to be, One gives up skin to preserve skin; that is, parts with a diseased limb for the sake of the rest; “one holds up the arm,” as Raschi suggests, “to avert the fatal blow from the head.” Third. Olshausen makes the saying to hinge upon the idea of person: “As long as thou leavest his person untouched, he will leave thee personally unassailed.” Renan regards it as a proverb, the sense of which is, that man is only moderately sensible to exterior losses, which do not touch his person. Fourth. Carey’s view is, that the proverb contains a sort of reductio ad absurdum argument, thus: Never expect a man to part with his skin unless you supply him with another; an impossible condition, and therefore equivalent to never expect that a man will part with his skin on any conditions whatever; in other words, On no terms will a man part with his life. To save his life, a man will part with every thing else. Fifth. A writer in Jour. of Sac. Literature, (January, 1859, p. 337) discards the idea of a proverb. He would translate בעד, around or about, instead of for, as it is in Job 1:10. The idea then would be, skin around skin, (meaning a succession of skins,) yea, all that a man hath around HIMSELF, will he surrender; but put forth thine hand now, and reach unto his bone and flesh. (Comp. Job 10:11.) The first of these opinions, which is also substantially that of Vaihinger, Dillmann, Heiligstedt, Canon Cook, etc., is unquestionably the most satisfactory. It is in keeping with the malicious aspersion upon human virtue that inaugurated the preceding trials, and is a charge of basal inhumanity upon our whole race. The selfish feelings, it means to say, are ever uppermost in man’s heart. The stoicism that Job has already shown is proof that he cares not if his whole family perish, so long as he can keep a whole skin.


Verse 5

5. Touch his bone — Among the most painful diseases are those that have their seat in the bone. Job touchingly refers to this feature of his disease. (Job 30:17; Job 30:30.) The association of נגע, touch, with אל, (into or even to,) rather than ב, as in Job 1:11, Delitzsch has well remarked, “expresses increased malignity.”


Verse 6

6. In thine hand — “God did not himself smite Job lest Satan should carpingly say, Thou hast spared and not tried him to the utmost.” — Chrysostom.

But save his life Only (margin) spare his life; נפשׁו, naphsho; according to others, his soul, that which gives life. Apart from its union with the spirit, there is no life of the body. (James 2:26.) According to Maimonides, (in Moreh,) God stipulated that his mind should not be touched, because it is of divine substance. “This limiting of his power — that the mind should be spared,” the Talmud says, “was more grievous to Satan than to Job. As if one should permit the breaking of a flask on the condition that the wine be preserved.” The meaning here, however, must, as in Job 2:4, be “life.”


Verse 7

7. Sore boils — The word שׁחין, translated boils, in the verbal form signifies to be hot. Dr. Good, a learned physician, translates it “a burning ulceration.” That it was terrible is indicated by the addition of the word רע, ra’h, evil, or malignant. The features of the disease with which Job was afflicted most resemble the black leprosy, or elephantiasis, as it is called by the Greeks. It takes the latter name from its rendering the skin “scabrous, dark-coloured, and furrowed all over with tubercles,” (Dr. Good;) or, as others say, because in some of its stages the feet swell, and take the shape of those of the elephant. The Arabians and Syrians call it the lion disease, (leontiasis,) because of its producing in the countenance of the afflicted grim, distorted, and lion-like features. It is regarded as the most foul, painful, and incurable of all diseases. “It begins beneath the knee” (W. Scholtze) with tubercular boils, which, in time, resemble a cancer, and thence spreads itself over the whole body. In its slow and destructive course all the members of the body, fingers, toes, hands, feet, gradually decay and fall off, on which account the Arabians call it also the maiming disease. The dread the disease inspires appears in the title it bears throughout the East — “the first-born of death.” Its victim, even the Icelanders, among whom it prevails, say, resembles “a rancid, putrefying corpse.” Maundrell, an old but judicious Oriental traveller, describes the “distemper as so noisome that it might well pass for the utmost corruption of the human body on this side the grave.” The features and course of the disease may be traced in the incidental descriptions given by Job 3:24; Job 6:2; Job 6:4; Job 6:9; Job 6:11-14; Job 7:4-5; Job 7:14-15; Job 7:19; Job 9:17-18; Job 13:20; Job 13:27-28; Job 16:8; Job 16:16; Job 16:22; Job 17:1; Job 19:17-18; Job 19:20; Job 30:17; Job 30:30; Job 33:20. The entire diagnosis thus given answers to the elephantiasis.


Verse 8

8. Potsherd — The Septuagint renders, “And he took a shell to scrape away the ulcerous discharge, and sat upon a dung heap outside the city.” As the sores were too loathsome to touch, he took a piece of earthenware, (potsherd, or shard — Old English for fragment.) that he might remove the filth of the sores, and allay the extreme itching.

Among the ashes — In the Hauran, dung being unneeded for agricultural purposes, is burned from time to time in an appointed place outside the town. The heaps of ashes and filth soon attain a height greater than that of the highest buildings of the village. — Wetzstein. Something of this kind the Septuagint may have had in view. This act of Job was, among the Orientals, a common symbol of extreme distress. Ulysses, after suffering shipwreck, placed himself mourning on a heap of ashes. Odyssey, 5:153, 160. (See note, Job 16:15.) Job, not unlike his divine Saviour, is the smitten of God. (Isaiah 53:4.) Leprosy was regarded by the ancients as a divine visitation. The Hebrews named it, “The stroke of the scourge,” a meaning that our own word plague (“stroke”) originally bore. Hence Jerome translates Isaiah, (chapter Isaiah 53:4,) “We did esteem him smitten” — by leprosus, — or the leprous one, a name the Messiah bears also in the Talmud. Christ “bare our sins in his own body,” and on this account “there was a hiding of faces from him,” as from a leprous person. (Isaiah 53:3, margin.) Job, a type of Christ, is to all appearance rejected of God. The ban of God and man alike rests upon him. “If a Persian has the leprosy he is not allowed to enter into a city, or to have any dealings with the other Persians; he must, they say, have sinned against the sun.” — Herodotus, 1:139. (See note, Job 19:21.)


Verse 9

9. His wife — There is an old tradition among the Jews, which also appears in the Chaldee Paraphrast, that his wife was Dinah, the frail daughter of Jacob. This is of value only as showing an ancient belief that Job lived in the patriarchal age. This unfortunate woman, who had not the living faith of her husband, and who, perhaps, did not believe in his God, has been bitterly denounced in every age, and has given point to many a stinging epigram from the days of the German Alters to Coleridge. “Why,” asks Chrysostom, “did the devil leave him this wife? Because he thought her a good scourge by which to plague him more acutely than by any other.” Augustine calls her the “helper of the devil;” Ebrard, “a tool of the tempter;” Spanheim, “a second Xantippe;” Calvin, (cited by Delitzsch,) “Proserpina, an infernal fury;” and J.D. Michaelis thinks she alone remained to Job in order that the measure of his sufferings might be full. Among others. Kitto (Daily Bib. Illus.) and Hengstenberg have taken a more pleasing view of the woman, whom others seem to have forgotten was a sufferer who had been as terribly bereaved as Rachel herself. (Jeremiah 31:15.) “It must be taken into consideration that her despair was rooted in the heartiest and tenderest love to her husband. In all their previous losses she had allowed herself to be kept in restraint by Job’s own submissiveness, and had the pains of disease befallen herself, she would probably still have resisted her despair.” — HENGST., Lec. on Job. It was a favourite thought with the fathers that as Satan had successfully employed woman for the ruin of man in Paradise, he feels sure of success in this, his last stake, as he wields the same instrument against Job in the ashes. The moral elements of the two temptations were similar to each other. There was the preceding wreck of woman’s heart, together with the subtle leverage of man’s affection, as well as the contagious influence of evil example; all which unitedly constituted a temptation of inestimable power.

Curse God… die — (See Job 1:5.) She evidently alludes to what Job had said, (Job 1:21,) and, strangely enough, employs the very words that the tempter had expected Job would use as he sank in despair. By Ewald, among others, the expression is taken as ironical, “say farewell to God, and die;” by others (Rosenmuller, Hirtzel) as an insolent and defiant demand, “Renounce God, and die.” Schultens suspects it to have been a common saying among spare worshippers of the Deity of that day, like that of the Latin, “Eat, drink: to-morrow we die.” It practically said, Religion is of no account. Such sentiments prevail under visitations of the plague and kindred calamities. Thucydides thus moralizes over the plague at Athens: “Men were restrained neither by fear of the gods nor by human law; deeming it all one whether they paid religious worship or not, since they saw that all perished alike.” The wife of Job is now swept away into a similar maelstrom. The Septuagint informs us “that much time had passed” when she uttered these taunting words, “Curse God, and die;” and, displeased at the idea that an angry woman should say so little, puts a long speech into her mouth, recounting her sufferings, and closing with the tame words, “but say some word against the Lord, and die.”


Verse 10

10. As one of the foolish women נבלות, perverse, corrupt, or godless women; having respect not so much to the want of intellectual as of moral qualities. The word is one of the strongest in Hebrew, and is used to express utter worthlessness. It is to be remarked that Job does not charge his wife with being such, but with talking like such women. There is no evidence that Job sympathized with those mean views of woman that the Orientals cherish even to the present day, and which the Koran has done so much to promote. It is evident from the Vedas and the Gathas, her position was vastly more honourable in the earlier ages of the world. (See WILKINSON’S Egypt, P. A. Job 1:4, and BLEECK’S Avesta, 2:118.) It is equally clear that she and her condition everywhere, under the influence of the best of pagan religions, have been constantly deteriorating. Between three and four thousand years ago, woman, whether in Egypt, Persia, or India, at home or abroad, was as free as Trojan dame or the daughters of Judea. She was the honoured of man — nearly, if not altogether, his equal; now, everywhere in the East she is the spurned of man — a mere tool, if not a slave. The institutes of Manu early struck the keynote of woman’s sad declension throughout the East: “Women have no business with the texts of the Vedas.… Even if a husband be devoid of good qualities, or enamoured of another woman, yet must he be revered as a god by a virtuous wife.” Job 9:2-3, etc. (See also MUIR’S Sanscrit Texts, 1:26, 3:42, 68.) That woman is not trodden in the dust in Christian as in eastern countries, is due to the conserving and equalizing doctrines of the cross. (Comp. John 19:26, and Galatians 3:28. See also notes on 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.)

Shall we not receive evil — As beings worth disciplining for another life, each one may assume that the elements of evil will, sooner or later, be wrought into his mortal life. His sinful condition should lead him to the reflection that more of evil than good might be his reasonable allotment. If there be, on the contrary, a preponderance of good, it is simply due to the goodness of God. The heathen themselves could see that evil may subserve the most desirable ends, and, by pruning the soul, prepare it for the higher good. Thus Plutarch: “It is likely that the Deity perfectly understands the condition of the soul to whose disease his justice is to be applied, whether it is such as is inclined to repentance.…

He knows how much of the virtue which he gave them at their birth they still retain, and in what degree that in them which is noble still remains, as not having been obliterated, but merely overgrown by evil education and bad connexions, and may be restored to its natural habit by due attention.” — Providence of God, book 6. The storm has swept over Job as over an oak of the mountain. He still stands majestically, the roots of his faith having struck more deeply, and grasped more firmly, the Rock of Ages.

Sin with his lips — St. James, who dwelt at large upon the right use of the tongue, makes such reference to Job as to show that he must have had in mind the responsibility implied in these and similar words of this book. As language is but the vehicle of thought, and may readily become the winged promoter of that which is evil, God holds even words to solemn account. (Matthew 12:36-37.) In the present age, as facilities for doing good or evil through the tongue, pen, press, or electric wire are so much multiplied, our responsibility is correspondingly increased.


Verse 11

THE VISIT OF CONSOLATION, Job 2:11-13.

11. Three friends — Their conduct, as seen in this verse, shows them to have been sincere in their friendship at first, however they may have failed and become subsequently involved in angry dispute and bitter recriminations.

Eliphaz the Temanite — The word Eliphaz signifies “God the dispenser of riches.” (Furst,) or, according to J.D. Michaelis, “My God is gold.” Since an Eliphaz appears in Genesis 36:4; Genesis 36:11, as one of the sons of Esau, and the father of Teman, we are justified in supposing that the home of Eliphaz was in the Idumaean region bearing that name. (1 Chronicles 1:43; 1 Chronicles 1:45.) Teman was probably the capital of Edom, (Amos 1:12) and lay, according to Eusebius, fifteen Roman miles from Petra, or, more probably, about five miles, as in Jerome. “This part of Arabia always had the most excellent philosophers.” — Grotius. (See Jeremiah 49:7; Baruch 3:22.) The Septuagint calls Eliphaz the king of the Thaemans.

Bildad the Shuhite — So called after a national deity of the Edomites, according to Furst, though Gesenius (Thesaurus) renders the name, the Strenuous Defender. The Septuagint makes him the ruler of the Sanchaeans. Shuah was the youngest son of Keturah by Abraham, (Genesis 25:2,) who sent Shuah and the other children of the concubines “eastward into the east country.” The Shuhites probably dwelt not far from Edom, though Rawlinson conjectures that they may have been the Tsukhi, who dwelt on the northern confines of Babylon, both sides of the Euphrates. (Herodotus, i, p. 380.)

Zophar the Naamathite — Zophar, the shaggy, the rough, (Furst.) The place of his residence is uncertain. It could not have been the Naamah spoken of in Joshua 15:41. The Septuagint calls him the king of the Minaeans. This leads Dillmann to suggest the identity of Naamah with Maan, an ancient city whose ruins still remain, somewhat to the east of Petra. (Comp. EWALD, Hist. of Israel, 1:239.)

An appointment together — When a calamity befalls a family among the Arabs of the present day, all their relations, connexions, and friends immediately hasten together to console them. — PIEROTTI. Customs, p. 240. To mourn with him נוד, noudh; English, nod, to shake (the head.) Among highly excitable races deep grief is expressed by the movement of the head.


Verse 12

12. They lifted up their voice — Sir John Chardin (year 1676) says of the people of Asia, that “their cries are long in the case of death, and frightful, for the mourning is right-down despair, and an image of hell.”

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The moment the mistress of the house next to his (at Ispahan) expired, “all the family, to the number of twenty-five or thirty people, set up such a furious cry that I was quite startled, and was above two hours before I could recover myself. These cries continue a long time, then cease all at once; they begin again as suddenly at daybreak, and in concert. It is this suddenness which is so terrifying, together with a greater shrillness and loudness than one could easily imagine. This enraged kind of mourning, if I may call it so, continued forty days — not equally violent, but with diminution from day to day.”

Sprinkled dust upon their heads — In a funeral procession, depicted on one of the tombs of ancient Egypt, there first come eight men throwing dust upon their heads, and giving other demonstrations of grief. The procession closes with eight or more women beating themselves, throwing dust on their heads, and singing the funeral dirge. — Wilkinson. (See also Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12.) “For after the death of any of them, [the Egyptians,] all the friends and kindred of the deceased throw dirt upon their heads, and run about through the city mourning and lamenting.” — Diodorus Siculus, vol. i, chap. 7. A like custom prevailed among the Greeks (Iliad, Job 18:21-21) and the Ninevites, as appears in the annals of Assurbanipal. The friends threw the dust heavenward, that, falling, it might cover the entire body; and thus, as Homer says, “deform it with dust;” or the act may have been symbolical — being either a solemn recognition of God, as the author of the evil, or an acknowledgment of man’s frailty and dependence.


Verse 13

13. Seven days and seven nights — The Orientals not only bemoaned the event of death for a period of seven days, (Genesis 50:10, Sirach 22:12,) but other calamities — those of a national. (Ezekiel 3:15,) and, as in this case, those of a more private, character. The “Bedawi Romance of Antar” thus describes the lamentation of the tribes of Abs and Adnam over their great discomfiture, and the many kings and chiefs that had been slain in battle: “They threw down their tents and pavilions, and thus they continued seven days and seven nights.” The obsequies of a Jewish king were celebrated with peculiar honours: “among others,” says Maimonides, “a company of students in the law were appointed to sit at his sepulchre, and to mourn seven days together.”

(Cited by LEWIS, Antiq., 3:88.) Dillmann, Hirtzel, and others, deny that custom prescribed a seven days’ silence. This they attribute to deep compassion and awe for Job’s sorrow. The counter view of Ewald and Rosenmuller, that such mourning was in conformity with the custom of the times, may be illustrated by a similar usage that to the present time prevails among the Hindus: “Those who go to sympathize with the afflicted are often silent for hour’s together. As there were seven clays for mourning in the Scriptures, so here, and the seventh is always the greatest, the chief mourner, during the whole of these days, will never speak, except when it is absolutely necessary. When a visitor comes in, he simply looks and bows down his head.” — ROBERTS, Orient. Illus. The Rabbins tell us that among the Jews the mourner always sat chief; and the comforters, who were the neighbours, were not to speak a word till he broke silence first. — LEWIS, Ibid.

EXCURSUS No. I.

SATAN.

This word Satan — Septuagint, diabolos, “devil” — is a word purely Semitic, (Arabic, Shatanah,) signifying “adversary,” and is from the same form, שׂשׂן, Satan, “to attack,” “lie in wait,” “hate.” It is used in Job and in Zechariah with the article, “the Satan,” either for emphasis, “the adversary “pre-eminently, (for the word appears elsewhere a few times as a designation of human beings,) or, more properly, as a proper name of a being at that time well known.

He first appears in Scripture under the guise of the serpent, (a name he afterwards bears,) as the agent in encompassing man’s fall. On the reasonable supposition that Adam, in his subsequent reflections if not in the hour of his temptation, must have peered through this bestial disguise and apprehended the superbestial agency involved in the act of intelligent speech, we may presume that the being of this profoundly mysterious adversary must have as deeply impressed the descendants of Adam as any other of the antediluvian facts whose traditions still linger among men. The Arabs, for instance, still “call a serpent Satan, especially if he be conspicuous in the crest, the head, and repulsive looks.” — Schultens.

There are very few, if any, of the essential characteristics of the Satan of this book that are not to be found in the diabolic actor in the garden. So that the serious objection urged by some against the antiquity of the Book of Job because of its “full-fledged Satan,” as they are pleased to call this most malicious enemy of our race, really finds its refutation in the records of the Fall. And it may be as easy to account for the fact that during the many centuries included in the Book of Genesis no further mention is made of Satan, as for the silence respecting the actual instrument in beguiling Eve. A detailed comparison of the two Satans of Genesis and Job would show them to be not only one in being but in the amount of disclosure of character made, and that the supposed progress of doctrine in regard to Satan is without a valid basis.

A general knowledge of this evil spirit is implied in the Azazel of Leviticus, chapter xvi, translated scapegoat, who is represented as the antithesis to God, which necessitates a spiritual personality — “a personification of abstract impurity as opposed to the absolute purity of Jehovah.” — Roskoff. The very desert to which the goat “to Azazel” was to be sent, was in the popular belief the home of evil spirits. (Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:14.) This view of Azazel as Satan is confirmed by the etymology of the word Azazel, the might or “power of God,” (Furst and Gesenius,) perhaps the name of the evil spirit before his fall, (compare Gabriel,) or “defiance to God,” another etymology suggested by Gesenius. (Thesaurus, 1012.) Origen declared Azazel to be the devil. (See Hengstenberg’s “Egypt and the Books of Moses,” 159-174.)

In 1 Chronicles 21:1. Satan (without the article) “stands up against Israel,” and that he may involve a whole nation in the wrath of God, persuades its royal head into the pride and presumption of numbering the people. The Satan is here disclosed as operating within the domain of the mind, and moving mind directly by solicitations from within. This is the most important disclosure of the Old Testament with regard to Satanic agency.

The same idea of adversary appears in Zechariah 3:1, where Satan stands as accuser (Revelation 12:10, κατηγωρ) at the right hand of the high priest — the proper place of an accuser — and antagonizes (literally, Satanizes) him in his official capacity of bearing the sins of the people before the Lord.

In these four chief places of the Old Testament where Satan is disclosed we have, therefore, a oneness and consistency of character answering to the generic meaning of the word Satan. The position of adversary to such a being as God, makes possible all that the Bible reveals of his nature. He stands at the head of fallen beings, who, in the New Testament, are called demons, δαιμονια — the one great, powerful, and infinitely malicious personality, who, for some reasons not fully revealed, seeks the injury and ruin of our race — an object of overwhelming terror unless restrained by the grace and power of God. In the New Testament he bears the names Satan, Beelzebub, Belial; and the titles “devil,” (διαβολος;) “slanderer,” (one who sets at variance;) the “wicked one;” “prince of this world;” the “destroyer;” “prince of the demons,” (των δαιμονιων, Mark 3:22;) “prince of the power of the air;” “lord of the dwelling;” “worthlessness,” or “wickedness;” and is the author of evil, John 8:44, the enemy of mankind, Matthew 13:39, and the tempter of the faithful, 1 Thessalonians 3:5. Satan is a created spirit, subordinate in every sphere to God, and destined to be subjugated by Christ, and has but little in common with the dualistic conception of an evil spirit coeternal and coequal with the good. The disclosures concerning our great foe are confined to the word of God. Traces, indeed, there are, in the most ancient mythologies, that plainly reach back to the garden of Eden, of a spirit pre-eminently evil, but they are so overgrown with puerile conceptions of suryas: devs, fervers, etc., that the scriptural idea of Satan is almost lost. The evil spirit most nearly resembling the Satan of the Old Testament is Set, or Typhon, of the Egyptian mythology. Under the ascription of an “adversary,” he is invoked on a papyrus as “the god who is in the void, the almighty destroyer and waster.” — DOLLINGER, Gentile and Jew, 1:453. The features of resemblance on the part of Set, or the Vritra of the Vedas, Tiamat of the Babylonians, Angra Mainyus (Ahriman) of the Avesta, or Loki of the Scandinavians, are too few to need notice. See pp. 277, 278.

EXCURSUS No. II.

SATAN AMONG THE SONS OF GOD.

The confessedly strange scene of Satan in the midst of “the sons of God” has called forth various theories: —

1. That it is to be regarded as a mere vision, after the manner of the vision of Micaiah. (1 Kings 22:19.)

2. That the scene has not even the basis of a vision, but God employs the figure of an earthly court in accommodation to our ideas of things. According to Mercerus, while “engaged in their ministry the angels cease not to stand before the Lord. They are said, after a human way, to return to him when they praise him,” etc. Quaint Job Caryl, the most copious of the many writers on this book, takes this view: “This I say, God doth here after the manner of men; for, otherwise, we are not to conceive that God doth make certain days of session with his creatures, wherein he doth call the good and bad angels together about the affairs of the world. We must not have such gross conceits of God; for he needs receive no information from them, neither doth he give them or Satan any formal commission; neither is Satan admitted into the presence of God, to come so near God at any time; neither is God moved at all by the slanders of Satan, or by his accusations, to deliver up his children and servants into his hands for a moment; but only the Scripture speaks thus to teach us how God carries himself in the affairs of the world, even as if he sat upon his throne, and called every creature before him, and gave each directions what and when and where to work, how far and which way to move in every action.” Kitto (Daily Bib. Illust. in loc.) endorses this view.

3. That the Satan, here, is a good spirit, to whom has been assigned the work of trying and proving men. This was the opinion of Dathe, Eichhorn, Schultens, and Herder. The last mentioned regarded him as a kind of censor morum, or an attorney or solicitor general, (Staats-Anwalt Gottes.) This view, which savours more of trifling than of serious discourse, is destined to a like fate with that of Dathe, of which Gesenius says it is now universally exploded.

4. That his presence is tolerated as a culprit, or as a transgressor as yet unexposed except to God himself. Thus St. Augustine, (Serm. in loc.): “Satan was in the midst of the good angels, even as a criminal stands in the midst of bailiffs awaiting judgment.” Delitzsch suggests, “that Satan here appears among the good spirits, resembling Judas Iscariot among the disciples until his treachery was revealed.” This thought Birks (Difficulties of Belief, p. 99) expands: “If Judas remained long undetected among the twelve apostles, it is conceivable that the crime of the arch deceiver may have remained concealed for a time except from the eye of the Omniscient alone. We may conceive that the adversary was still permitted to appear among the sons of God, and to seek, in the courts of heaven itself, to veil his dark malice under the show of a zeal for the divine justice, and his fraudulent temptations under the specious show of genuine benevolence towards angels and men.” A plausible theory! but one requiring that the temptation of Job should have taken place prior to the fall of man; for at that time the character of Satan must have been fully revealed.

Another theory is that of Dachsel: “Satan appears among the children of God before the Lord, on the one part, because all his hostile doing stands under God’s holy will and his permission,… on the other part, because Satan and his angels have a right to accuse believers before the Lord as long as an unforgiven sin remains in the Church of God. Revelation 12:10.” (See also Delitzsch, under Job 2:9, who maintains the same view.)

The gist of this whole difficulty lies in the problem of the place where the scene transpired. The intimation that Satan could have insinuated himself into the heaven of the sainted dead is a pure assumption, at once contrary to the entire analogy of the Scriptures and offensive to our thoughts. The subject has been embarrassed by the too limited view taken of the dominion of God. The innumerable company (μυριαδες) of angels, (Hebrews 12:22,) may be assigned to divers worlds, and subjected to different economies of the divine government. Under some one of these, the visible appearing of Satan may be no more abnormal than is his invisible presence in kindred assemblages in this world. Indeed, our present economy, no less than that which opened in Eden, discloses not only the juxta-residence of good and evil spirits, but their casual association. Analogy justifies us in accepting a similar economy for at least one other world, and this would meet the demands the scene before us makes upon our faith. The scene, however, which is remarkable for its downright naturalness, has been overlaid with “cabinets” and “councils” and the paraphernalia of Eastern courts, to the prejudice of sound criticism.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 2:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-2.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 27th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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