Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 12:11

"Does not the ear test words, As the palate tastes its food?
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Atheism;   Design;   God;   Philosophy;   Religion;   Wisdom;   The Topic Concordance - God;   Government;   Nations;   Strength;   Wisdom;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Ear, the;  
Dictionaries:
Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Greatness of God;   Hypocrisy;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ear;   Job, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Mouth;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Ear;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Poetry, Hebrew;   Taste;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Doth not the ear try words? - All these are common-place sayings. Ye have advanced nothing new; ye have cast no light upon the dispensations of Providence.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 12:11". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-12.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Doth not the ear try words? - The literal meaning of this, which is evidently a proverbial expression, is plain; but about its bearing here there is more difficulty. The literal sense is, that it is the office of the ear to mark the distinction of sounds, and to convey the sense to the soul. But in regard to the exact bearing of this proverb on the case in hand, commentators have not been agreed. Probably the sense is, that there ought to be a diligent attention to the signification of words, and to the meaning of a speaker, as one carefully tastes his food; and Job, perhaps, may be disposed to complain that his friends had not given that attention which they ought to have done to the true design and signification of his remarks. Or it may mean that man is endowed with the faculty of attending to the nature and qualities of objects, and that he ought to exercise that faculty in judging of the lessons which are taught respecting God or his works.

And the mouth - Margin, as in the Hebrew חך chêk - “palate.” The word means not merely the palate, but the lower part of the mouth (Gesenius), and is especially used to designate the organ or the seat of taste; Psalm 119:103; Job 6:30.

His meat - Its food - the word “meat” being used in Old English to denote all kinds of food. The sense is, man is endowed with the faculty of distinguishing what is wholesome from what is unwholesome, and he should, in like manner, exercise the faculty which God has given him of distinguishing the true from the false on moral subjects. He should not suppose that all that had been said, or that could be said, must necessarily be true. He should not suppose that merely to string together proverbs, and to utter common-place suggestions, was a mark of true wisdom. He should separate the valuable from the worthless, the true from the false, and the wholesome from the injurious. Job complains that his friends had not done this. They had shown no power of discrimination or selection. They had uttered common place apothegms, and they gathered adages of former times, without any discrimination, and had urged them in their arguments against him, whether pertinent or not. It was by this kind of irrelevant and miscellaneous remark that he felt that he had been mocked by his friends, Job 12:4.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 12:11". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-12.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Doth not the ear try words?.... Articulate sounds; and the mind by them judges whether what is expressed and designed by them is right or wrong, true or false, to be received or rejected; so such that have spiritual ears to hear, try the words of God and men, the wholesome words of Christ, and those of false teachers, which eat as a canker; and by their spiritual judgment can distinguish between the one and the other, discern those that differ, and approve those that are excellent, by bringing them to the standard of the word, the balance of the sanctuary, the Scriptures of truth:

and the mouth taste his meat? and judge of it, whether good or bad, or savoury or unsavoury, and so receive or reject it: thus such who have their taste changed, and relish spiritual things, can distinguish between the meat that perishes, and that which endures to everlasting life, even Christ, whose flesh is meat indeed; and those that have tasted that the Lord is gracious, and to whose taste the fruits of Christ and the doctrines of grace are sweet; these will desire the sincere milk of the word, and that strong meat in it, which belongs to discerning and experienced souls; and will feed by faith upon the pure word of the Gospel, and mix it with it, and reject all others. Job by this would signify, that the things his friends had been discoursing of, and which they thought were such deep and wonderful things, were as easy to be searched and found out, tried and judged of, as sounds by the ear, or food by the taste; and it may be also that hereby he suggests, that his doctrine, if it was impartially examined and tried by proper judges, it would appear as plain as anything tried by the ear, or tasted by the mouth. Some think that Job intends by this, that from the senses of hearing and tasting in men might be inferred the omniscience of God, his knowledge of all things, and his quick discernment of men, and their actions, since "he that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall not he see?" Psalm 94:9. Some versions read the whole, "doth not the ear try words, as the mouth tastes his meat"F17Vatablus, Drusius, Junius et Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Cocceius, Schultens; so Broughton. ? as in Job 34:3. Saadiah Gaon connects these words "as the ear tries words", &c. with Job 12:12, "so with the ancient is wisdom".

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 12:11". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-12.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Doth not the ear f try words? and the mouth taste his meat?

(f) He exhorts them to be wise in judging, and as well to know the right use of their God-given ears, as well as their mouths.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 12:11". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-12.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

As the mouth by tasting meats selects what pleases it, so the ear tries the words of others and retains what is convincing. Each chooses according to his taste. The connection with Job 12:12 is in reference to Bildad‘s appeal to the “ancients” (Job 8:8). You are right in appealing to them, since “with them was wisdom,” etc. But you select such proverbs of theirs as suit your views; so I may borrow from the same such as suit mine.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 12:11". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-12.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat?

Doth not — This may be a preface to his following discourse; whereby he invites them to hear and judge of his words candidly and impartially; that they and he too might agree in disallowing what should appear to be false, and owning of every truth.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Job 12:11". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-12.html. 1765.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

A DISCERNING EAR

‘Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat?’

Job 12:11

I. There is no appeal from the verdict of our palate.—We know in a moment whether a substance is sweet or bitter, palatable or disagreeable. Now, what the taste is to articles of diet, that the ear is to words, whether of God or man. Especially we can tell in a moment whether the fire of inspiration is burning in them. This is the test which Job proposed to apply to the words of his friends, and all of us may apply to Holy Scripture.

II. The humble student of the Word of God is sometimes much perplexed and cast down by the assaults which are made on it by scholars and teachers, who do not scruple to question the authorship and authority of large tracts of Scripture.—To all these we may apply the test of the purged ear, and it will detect a certain quality in the Bible which is absent everywhere beside. There is a tone in the voice of Scripture which the child of God must recognise. God is speaking in the prophets, as He spake in His Son. Hearken, ‘the Holy Ghost saith.’ This is the interesting characteristic in the quotations made in the New Testament from the Old. All the writers in the later Revelation detect the voice of God in the old; to them it is the Divine utterance through holy lips.

III. Ask that the Lord may touch your ears, that they may discern by a swift intuition the voice of the Good Shepherd from that of strangers.—It is one of the characteristics of His sheep that they know His voice, and follow Him, whilst they flee from the voice of strangers.

Illustration

‘The things which give us most evidence of God are just the dark things of life; this was the experience of the man who, of all others, knew most of life’s dark things. And what Job learned by his sorrow we are all learning—that the cross is our crown, that the rejected stone is the head of the corner. Thou art seeking light on the life beyond the grave—light that shall dispel the gloom of death and turn back its shadow. But it does not occur to thee that the shadow of death is itself to be the light that thou seekest. “He bringeth out to light the shadow of death,” says Job—causes illumination to come from the very source which threatened to shut it out for ever. It is from thy vision of death that there comes to thee the clearest sight thou hast of immortality.’

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Job 12:11". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/job-12.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 12:11 Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat?

Ver. 11. Doth not the ear try words? &c.] The mind may as easily conceive of these truths as the ear judgeth certainly of the variety of sounds, and the tongue of the diversity of tastes; neither may you think that I will, without any examination or distinction, allow your discourses; or that I can take it well that you reject, as void of reason, whatsoever I have said, without once weighing it. The ear is one of the two learned senses, it is an instrument of discipline; only it should be kept clean and free from prejudice or passion, which will be as gall in the ear. See Exodus 6:9. Demosthenes called oft upon his Athenians to get their ears purged of choler, Quaedam animalia fel in aure gestant, and Alexander, when he heard a cause, was wont always to keep ους αδιαβλητον, one ear free from the other party: he would not be prepossessed, Mercer observeth, that the Hebrew word for an ear doth in the dual number signify a pair of balances (Ozen, oznajin), to note that a judicious Christian taketh not up truth upon trust, but considereth first, and afterwards believeth. He trieth all things, and then holdeth fast that which is good, but abstaineth from all appearance of evil, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22. The ear and the mind are in the Greek tongue very like in sound, ους νους: the mind judgeth of the truth of words by the ears, as the beam in a pair of balances determineth the just weight of things by the two scales. He that is spiritual discerneth all things, 1 Corinthians 2:15, he hath spiritual senses, Philippians 1:9, senses exercised, habitually exercised, to discern good and evil, Hebrews 5:14; his service is a rational service, Romans 12:1, his obedience the obedience of faith, Romans 16:26. Whereas the natural man is carried away as he is led, 2 Corinthians 12:2, pulled away with the error of the wicked, 2 Peter 3:17, taken prisoner by seducers, 2 Timothy 3:6, and by them made prize of, Colossians 2:8, as having either no skill or no will to examine what is doctrinally propounded to him.

And the mouth taste his meat?] Heb. The palate, sensorium, which is the proper instrument of tasting. Now the order of nature requireth, saith Merlin, that seeing our bodily senses are so nimble and able to discern what is sour, what sweet, &c., our understandings also should do the same by right reason; and the contrary is very absurd and unbecoming a man; neither can there be any good excuse made for our dulness, if we bend not our minds to the search of the truth, forasmuch as there is so much ado made to please the palate, eyes, ears, and other senses. Catullus wished all his body were nose, that he might spend all his time in sweet smells. Philoxenus, that his neck were as long as a crane’s, that he might take more delight in meats and drinks (it seems that he placed tasting not in the mouth, but in the throat). Boccacio, the Italian poet, said, that he was born al’amore delle donne, for the love of women; and of a prodigal pleasure monger in London, we read, that to please all his five senses at once, he allowed to the delight of every different sense a several hundred pounds (Theatre of God’s Judgments). {See Trapp on "Amos 6:6"} There is a sancta crapula, a holy gluttony, as Luther calleth a hearty feeding on divine viands, a finding fatness and sweetness beyond that of the honey and honeycomb in God’s ordinances, Psalms 63:5-6; crying to Jesus Christ as the spouse doth, Song of Solomon 8:13, Cause me to hearken to thy voice; and obeying him, thus bespeaking us, Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved, till you are even inebriated with loves, Song of Solomon 5:1.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 12:11". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-12.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

As the mouth tasteth and thereby judgeth of meats, and as it liketh or disliketh, so it receiveth or rejecteth, what is put into it; so it is the office of the ear, or rather of the mind, which hears and receives the opinions and discourses of others by the ear, not rashly to approve or condemn every thing which it hears, but diligently and thoroughly to search and try whether it be true, and so to be embraced, or false, and to be rejected. Interpreters are much puzzled about the connexion and design of these words; but they seem to be either,

1. An apology for himself, why he did not comply with their opinion and all arguments, because they did not suit with his ear or mind; and though he had considered and tried them, he could not discern any weight in them. Or rather,

2. A reproof to his friends, that they did so hastily condemn his person and his doctrine without a strict and serious inquiry. Or,

3. A preface to his following discourse; whereby he invites them to hear and judge of his words and arguments more candidly and impartially; and not to scorn that he said because of his present poverty and misery, as men at ease used to do; nor to cast away the good for any mixture of bad with it; but calmly to weigh and debate things, both within and among themselves, and with him, that they and he too might all agree in disallowing whatsoever should appear to be false, and owning of every truth.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 12:11". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-12.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

11.And Even as.

Taste his meat — Literally, Taste food for itself. In the same manner the testimony of the ancients is to be put to proof, and accepted on no other ground than that it should stand the test.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 12:11". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-12.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 12:11. Doth not the ear try words? &c. — Doth not the mind distinguish truth from falsehood, and wisdom from folly, as exactly as the palate distinguishes a sweet from a bitter taste? These words may either be considered as the conclusion of the foregoing discourse, or as a preface to the following. And he thereby demands from his friends the liberty of judging for himself of what they had said, and invites them to use the same liberty with respect to what he had advanced; wishing them to hear and judge of his words candidly and impartially, that they and he might agree in disavowing what should appear to be false or foolish, and in owning what was true and important.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 12:11". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-12.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Taste. For this no master is requisite; so I stood in no need of your information, (Calmet) of such trite remarks. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 12:11". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-12.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Job could see through their faulty arguments just as his tongue tasted food.

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 12:11". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-12.html. 1999-2014.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat?

Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat? As the mouth by tasting meats selects what pleases it, so the ear tries the words of others, and retains in the mind and memory what is convincing and pleasing. Each chooses according to his taste. The connection with Job 12:12 is in reference to Bildad's appeal to the "ancients" (Job 8:8). You are right in appealing to them, since 'with them was wisdom,' etc. But you select such proverbs of theirs as suit your views, so I may borrow from the same such as suit mine.

Taste his meat - tastes to find its own suitable food-the food which pleases it. As in Job 9:4, etc., Job dwelt on the terrors of God's power in the world of nature, here he dwells on those terrors in His dealings with man. Instead of dwelling on all that is clear, pleasant, and beneficent, he dwells on all that is inexplicable, dark, and terrible.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 12:11". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-12.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(11) Doth not the ear try words?—Bildad had appealed to the wisdom of authority and tradition, but Job reminds him that it is given to the wise man not to accept everything he has received, but to discriminate. He allows that wisdom is the prerogative of age, but reminds him that the Ancient of Days must needs be wise indeed.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 12:11". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-12.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat?
Doth
34:3; 1 Corinthians 10:15; Philippians 1:10; *marg:; Hebrews 5:14; 1 Peter 2:3
mouth
Heb. palate.
6:30
Reciprocal: 2 Samuel 19:35 - can I discern;  Job 6:6 - taste;  Isaiah 11:3 - understanding

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 12:11". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-12.html.