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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Job 22

 

 

Verse 1

The third stage of the controversy.

Chaps. 22-26.

THIRD ADDRESS OF ELIPHAZ.

1. Then Eliphaz… answered — God is all-sufficient, and if he punish, it is not for his own profit, much less for the sake of human piety, but on account of the sins of men. It is therefore plain that an infinite sufferer must have been an infinite sinner, (2-5.) Job’s exaggerated description of the prosperity of the wicked seems to Eliphaz a denial of Divine Providence.

He now proceeds to refute Job by indirectly arguing the doctrine of such Providence, and carries the war into Africa by an assault upon Job himself. He charges upon him the guilt of oppression and cruelty to the weak and defenceless. Under his emirship might and violence prospered. Moreover, he was a sceptic, well skilled to make “the worse appear the better reason,” (12-15.) That Job should suffer was due to sins such as these, and demonstrated that the wicked are punished in this life. The antediluvians lived just such lives as those of the happy wicked, and their foundation of bliss and security was poured forth like a stream. The triumphant song of the survivors furnishes a text from which Eliphaz confidently urges Job to return to God, with the assurance of returning prosperity, which will manifest itself not so much in worldly good as in joy in God, the consciousness of spiritual uprightness, and the bliss of doing good to others.


Verse 2

Hitzig divides the chapter into three double strophes. First double strophe — THE BILL OF ACCUSATIONS, Job 22:2-11.

a. A syllogistic proof that Job’s sufferings are the merited punishment of his sins, Job 22:2-5.

2. As כי, but, or nay but. Zockler finds in this series of questions a perfect syllogism, of which Job 22:2-3 form the major premiss; Job 22:4 the minor premiss; Job 22:5 the conclusion, to wit, that Job must be a great sinner. The fallacy lies in the minor premiss. All trust in works of merit is rooted in the idea that man can profit God.

Wise… profitable unto himself — The second clause implies a negative answer to the question of profitableness, and should be rendered, the wise man profiteth himself. He is the gainer, not God. Scott cites a like sentiment from Sophocles: “What good man is not a friend to himself.” See sermon, in loc., by Dr. South, on “The Impossibility of Man’s Meriting of God.”


Verse 3

3. Pleasure to the Almighty חפצ, same word as in Job 21:21, which see. It is the necessity of every moral being to delight in those moral qualities that are like its own. A righteous God must take pleasure in that which is righteous. Perhaps there is no object so pleasing to the divine mind as holiness, matured through suffering and trial.


Verse 4

4. For fear of thee For (the sake of) thy fear, (Job 4:6; Job 15:4.) “A genuine Eliphazian word,” not artificially “assigned him by the poet,” as Ewald holds. Will he reprove thee, (punish thee, Ewald,) that he may get gain by thy worship and piety? What advantage would it be to him to answer thy summons to trial? A judicial phrase. Job 9:32; Job 13:3; Job 13:22. No, if he reprove it must be on account of sin, which thought paves the way to the conclusion.


Verse 5

5. Iniquities infinite — Literally, and no end of thy iniquities? As God has no motive of self-interest for chastising, the cause must be in Job himself. Eliphaz reasons from the severity of Job’s punishment that his sins must have been infinite in number.


Verse 6

b. Since it must be that Job has committed sin, it naturally occurs to Eliphaz to charge upon him those sins which the best of the rich men of his day were guilty of committing. His own logical conclusions he coins into proofs positive of Job’s guilt, Job 22:6-11.

6. In his portraiture of the wicked, Zophar had insinuated (Job 20:19) what Eliphaz, to our surprise, now boldly charges against Job. The sins he attributes to Job are those generally ascribed to wicked men of wealth — hard-heartedness, covetousness, and extortion. Eliphaz infers from the punishment the character of crimes Job must have committed. Personal abuse, the last resort of a failing cause, is the first public sign the friends display of their approaching discomfiture. (See Job’s noble reply, Job 29:11-16.) The mantle of charity that we may throw over Eliphaz is, that he had long brooded over his suspicions until they assumed shape and at last substance.

Pledge… naught — There was a twofold aggravation of his guilt; that he should require a pledge from a brother, and that without cause. Job “is represented as extorting pledges without having lent.” — Michaelis.

The naked of their clothing — Literally, And strippedst off the clothes of the naked. Seneca tells us that one poorly clad and in rags was said to be naked. (James 2:15.) Michaelis says, (“Laws of Moses,” 2:303,) “From the analogy of his (Moses’s) law of pledge, it is probable that the necessary pieces of clothing were not permitted to be seized and stripped from off the person of the debtor, as might be done by merciless creditors among the neighbouring nations, for he even commands the creditor (Exodus 22:26-27) who had taken in pledge his poor neighbour’s upper garment (which was a large square piece of cloth that was wrapped about the body by day, and served as a coverlet by night) to restore it again before sunset.” Origen remarks that he is a robber who does not clothe the naked. See Freeman’s “Hand-Book,” 261.


Verse 7

7. Not given water — That which we do not do is made at the last day quite as much a test of character as what we do. Matthew 25:42-43. The Egyptian Book of the Dead represents a soul before Osiris as saying. “I have given food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, and clothes to the naked,” (ch. 125.) The same sentiment appears so frequently on stelae and tombs, that Mariette thinks that it must have been a part of a daily prayer among the ancient Egyptians.


Verse 8

8. The mighty man — Literally, the man of arm. An idiom common to almost all Asia, even in the present day. (Good.) The arm was the symbol of strength; length of arm expressed power; shortness of arm, impotency. “The Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save.” (Isaiah 59:1.)

The honourable man נשׂוא פנים: that is, men accepted for favour, — favoured on account of wealth and power. Renan renders it, The formidable man; and says, “These misfortunes, in the thought of Eliphaz, took place through the fault of Job. It was the duty of Job, in fact, being judge, to prevent them.” Or it may mean the mighty and the honourable (ironical) prosper, under the emirship of Job, while widows and the fatherless are trampled into the dust; the arm of might excels, and the arm of the orphan is broken.


Verse 11

11. Darkness, etc. — Dillmann and Schlottmann make this a question, but the text is better — (thus Hitzig.) The darkness is moral, blurring the vision. Eliphaz represents Job’s sins as encompassing him like thick, dark clouds, and overwhelming him as a flood.


Verse 12

Second double strophe — THE FATE OF THE ANTEDILUVIANS A WARNING TO Job , vv12-20.

a. The sceptical views of Job, which exalted God above all concern for and knowledge of the universe, have led Job into the commission of the sins alleged, and aggravated the punishment they called forth, Job 22:12-15.

12. In the height of heaven — The abrupt original appears by omitting in. Is not God high as the heavens? (Job 11:8,) — exalted so high that he cannot see. The language that Milton attributes to Eve after her terrible sin breathes the same godless spirit.

And I perhaps am secret: heaven is high;

High and remote to see from thence distinct

Each thing on earth.

Paradise Lost, book 9.

It belongs to sinful nature to solace itself with the treacherous sense of secrecy. “They will gladly allow God his heavens, if he will only allow them their earthly life of pleasure.” — Starke.

Height of the stars — The highest stars.


Verse 13

13. How What doth God know? The sentiment ascribed to Job was subsequently that of Epicurus and 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 sought to wrest from him.” — Schlottmann.


Verse 14

14. In the circuit of On the vault of. God moves in an orbit so high that he does not care for what takes place on the earth. The sophistry of Eliphaz is plain. Job denies the just distribution of evil and good, (xxi,) therefore he rejects the doctrine of a Divine Providence. The reason for this must be either that God cannot know, or that he is too deeply engrossed in the higher departments of his universe to attend to the affairs of this world.


Verse 15

15. Hast thou marked Wilt thou keep.

The old way — Hebrew, עולם. He probably means the way of the antediluvians. A man’s faith, or voidness of faith, is a finger-pointer to the life he leads. The tenor of the argument is, that those who hold godless opinions must lead godless lives.

NOTE. — The asterisk in the Hebrew Bible indicates that the middle of the book is now reached, the book consisting of 1,070 verses.


Verse 16

b. The wrath of God, intensified by such scepticism, visits the world, overthrowing the boastful wicked, and calling forth the triumphal songs of the righteous, Job 22:16-20.

16. Cut down out of time, etc. — Literally, who were snatched away before the time — prematurely. Their foundation was poured away as a stream. Snatched away — Kamat is used only here and Job 16:8. See note.

With a flood As a stream. Their foundation became fluid, an undoubted reference to the deluge. Compare Matthew 7:27.


Verse 17

17. Depart from us — Note, Job 21:14. Do for them Do to them, as in the margin. To them, that is, to us; a poetical change of person. Job had spoken in these very terms of the defiant prosperity of the wicked. Eliphaz sarcastically ascribes the same language to the ungodly who lived at the time of the deluge. They reveled in luxury, as Job in general terms said the wicked do, and yet they were overwhelmed by the flood. The retort is both striking and logically complete.


Verse 18

18. Good things — Job had said their good is not in their hand, Job 21:16. Eliphaz goes further, and admits that God “filled the houses” of the antediluvians with like “good,” but only that their destruction might be the more complete. In irony he retorts upon Job still further his own words, But far from me be the counsel of the wicked.


Verse 19

19. Are glad — They rejoice, not in the sufferings of the wicked, but in the triumph of justice. Aristotle observes that “no good man is troubled when parricides, for instance, meet with their deserved punishment; for it is our duty to rejoice on such occasions.”


Verse 20

20. Contains THE TRIUMPHANT SONG of the righteous: —

Truly our adversary is cut off,

And their residue fire consumeth.

Whereas אם לא, truly, the strongest form of affirmation: same as in Job 1:11; Job 17:2. Substance, etc. — קים, He who is set up, adversary, a singular form used collectively. Our translators followed the Septuagint. Our adversary, not in a personal but in a moral sense, for the wicked are the natural enemies of the good.

The remnant of them — That which remains to them, or of them. The destruction is radical and complete, a fact symbolized by the fire.


Verse 21

Third double strophe — A FINAL ADMONITION TO REPENTANCE — REPENTANCE INSURES RESTORATION OF THE DIVINE FAVOUR, Job 22:21-30.

a. He who lives for God, and sacrifices his all, shall find in God abiding treasures and an inexhaustible mine of bliss, Job 22:21-25.

21. Acquaint now thyself הסכן. The idea that lies at the root of this verb is, of associating or dwelling together, (GESENIUS. Thes., 953;) thence of friendship, which leads the Germans to render, make friends with God.

Our translators have happily rendered it. acquaint thyself; now, in the sense of entreaty.

And be at peace — With God and with thyself; for the one implies the other. The former verb expresses the making, the latter, the preservation, of peace.

Good — A word bandied in the debate. See note Job 20:21. Also sermons in loc. by Archbishops Atterbury and Sumner.


Verse 22

22. The law Thorah, the law, written or unwritten. There is no evidence that this refers to the Mosaic law. The word thorah, so common in the Old Testament, appears only this once in Job.


Verse 23

23. To the Almighty עד; even to — close up to. “Job need not despair of coming, through penitence, again close up to his offended Creator.” — Bernard.


Verse 24

24. Lay up gold as dust, etc. — Literally, And cast to the dust the precious ore; even gold of Ophir to the stones of the brooks. Then the Almighty shall be thy precious ores, and plenty of silver to thee. “To lay shining metal on the dust, is a way of speaking to regard them equally little,” (Umbreit.) Augustine’s thought, that “the Christian counts gold as dust,” well conveys that of Eliphaz. For a similar use of שׁית, see Job 30:1, to “set with,” put on a level with, “the dogs of my flock.” In the original there is a play of words between betser, precious ore, and betsour, to the stone. Canon Cook (Speaker’s Com.) sees in the promises of gold in the text, the reflection of a “selfish and sordid” nature, on the supposition that his name, Eliphaz — “gold is my god” — indicated his true character. (See note, Job 2:11.) This leads Eliphaz, he thinks, to “exhort Job to a speedy repentance, which he assures him will be immediately rewarded by abundance of wealth.” But the rendering as above, which is hinted at in the margin, and substantially accepted by most of the recent scholars, redeems this beautiful exhortation from so mercenary a blur, and makes it one of the most precious promises of the word of God.

Ophir — Used for gold of Ophir, as Amos (like ourselves) calls the cloth of Damascus “damask” — “in Damascus in a couch;” literally, damask of the bed. Amos 3:12. The natives of Malacca at the present day call their gold mines Ophirs. The site of these famous mines of antiquity is still as much as ever in dispute.

Heeren thinks that, like Thule, the name denotes no particular spot, but only a certain region or part of the world, such as the East or West Indies in modern geography. Hence Ophir was the general name for the rich countries of the south, lying on the African, Arabian, or Indian coasts, as far as at that time known. — Hist. Res., 1:335. According to Ritter, Ewald, and Lassen, Ophir lay in India; while Niebuhr, Winer, and Kalisch place it in Arabia; Rawlinson, in Ceylon.


Verse 25

25. Plenty of silver — Literally, bars of silver, (Hitzig:) silver of excellencies or splendours, (Ewald;) and heaps of silver, (Dillmann;) or better, silver of labours, (Gesenius,) that is, obtained by great labour. The word appears in Psalms 95:4, “the strength [labours] of the hills;” one of the prime meanings of the verbal root being “to become weary.” Gold and silver have ever been the bright and alluring symbols of worldly good. God thus early uses them in figure to set forth the desirableness of himself and his glory. He who, like the Levite, gives up all for God, finds his treasure in God. God becomes his Ophir, the Almighty his precious ores. A just estimate of this world’s treasures becomes a golden round in the heavenly ladder.


Verse 28

b. His prayers shall prevail with God, not only on his own behalf, but on the behalf of others; an unconscious prediction of the final offices Job was called to fulfil, Job 22:26-30.

28. Decree a thing — In a certain sense, under the economy of grace, man’s decrees become God’s decrees. The purposes of faith God is pleased to accept, and thus they become His purpose. The fiat of man in itself may be but a tinkling cymbal — in the scheme of grace it may become the power of God.


Verse 29

29. Lifting up — Words of cheer; “upwards,” “forwards,” or, as Gesenius has it: “Thou commandest lifting up.” Omit there is. The words of the man of God are words of consolation and of power. The sorrowful are lifted up, and God. saves “the humble person” — literally, the meek of eye.


Verse 30

30. The island of אי נקי, not guiltless. This Hebrew word i (not) our translators altogether mistook. Here it has a negative sense, as in I-chabod, no-glory. The verse should read —

He shall deliver him that is not guiltless,

And he shall be saved by the pureness of thy hands.

Our own purity of life under God becomes a powerful agency for the conversion of others. (Psalms 51:13.) So little do we know of our spiritual needs, that we are quite as ready to exhort others as to care for ourselves. At the very moment that these words of noble counsel fell from his lips, Eliphaz needed the prayers of some upright man, which Job himself (Job 42:8) finally offered. The reader cannot but be touched with a feeling of regret as this high-minded son of Teman passes from the scene, commissioned as he was from God to deliver an exhortation that for beauty of sentiment, purity of thought, and depth of spiritual knowledge, is without compare in the Old Testament Scriptures. He stands forth the lofty peer of Balaam, free (the reader may trust) from his failing; — the only one of “THE THREE,” at all worthy to grapple with Job in the solution of the dark problem of evil. In argument, however, he lacked self-control, and allowed himself to follow his friends in vituperation and to surpass them in calumny. Eliphaz spoke of God “the thing that was not right,” by perverting the facts of human life, and by setting forth an imperfect retribution, as worthy of the righteousness of God.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 22:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-22.html. 1874-1909.

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