Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 12:3

"But I have intelligence as well as you; I am not inferior to you. And who does not know such things as these?
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Pride;   Sarcasm;   Self-Exaltation;   Wisdom;  
Dictionaries:
Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Greatness of God;   Hypocrisy;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Job, the Book of;  
Encyclopedias:
The Jewish Encyclopedia - Memra;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

I am not inferior to you - I do not fall short of any of you in understanding, wisdom, learning, and experience.

Who knoweth not such things as these? - All your boasted wisdom consists only in strings of proverbs which are in every person's mouth, and are no proof of wisdom and experience in them that use them.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 12:3". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-12.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

But I have understanding as well as you - Margin, as in the Hebrew “an heart.” The word “heart” in the Scriptures is often used to denote the understanding or mind. It seems to have been regarded as the source of that which was called life or soul. Indeed, I do not recollect a single instance in the Scriptures in which the word “head” is used, as with us, as the seat of the intellect, or where the distinction is adverted to that is so common with us, between the head and the heart. With us, the heart is the seat of the affections and emotions; with the Hebrews, it was the seat of understanding, and the σπλάγχνα splangchna - the viscera, the bowels, were the seat of the emotions; see the notes at Isaiah 16:11. A more correct physiology has taught us that the brain is the organ of the intellect, and we now speak of “the heart” as the seat of the affections. The Romans regarded the “breast” as the seat of the soul. Thus, Virgil, speaking of the death of Lucagus by the hand of Aeneas, says:

Tum latebras animae pectus mucrone recludit

Aeneid x. 601.

I am not inferior to you - Margin, “fall not lower than.” This is the literal translation: “I do not fall beneath you.” Job claims to be equal to them in the power of quoting the sayings. of the ancients; and in order to show this, he proceeds to adduce a number of proverbial sayings, occupying the remainder of this chapter, to show that he was familiar with that mode of reasoning, and that in this respect he was fully their equal. This may be regarded as a trial of skill, and was quite common in the East. Wisdom consisted in storing up a large amount of proverbs and maxims, and in applying them readily and pertinently on all public occasions; and in this controversy, Job was by no means disposed to yield to them.

Yea, who knoweth not such things as these? - Margin, “With whom” are “not such as these?” The meaning is, that instead of being original, the sentiments which they advanced were the most commonplace imaginable. Job not only said that he knew them, but that it would be strange if every body did not know them.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 12:3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-12.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But I have understanding as well as you,.... A natural understanding, or an understanding of natural things, which distinguishes a man from a brute; and a spiritual understanding, an understanding enlightened by the spirit of God, which is naturally dark as to divine things; but he had an understanding given him, to know himself, his state and condition by nature; to know God, his love and grace to men, and, as his covenant God, to know Christ his living Redeemer, who should stand on the earth in the latter day, both to be his Redeemer and his Judge; to know his interest in him, and in the blessings of grace and glory by him: or, "I have an heart as well as you"F4גם לי לבב כמוכם "etiam mihi cor sicut vobis", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Schmidt, Michaelis, Schultens; so Broughton. ; a wise and an understanding one; a new heart, and a right spirit; an heart to fear and serve the Lord, a sincere and upright one, and devoid of hypocrisy and deceit; and as good an one as theirs:

I am not inferior unto you: he was indeed as to estate and substance, being now reduced; though he had been, in that sense, the greatest man in all the east; but in wisdom and knowledge, in gifts and grace: thus a modest man, when oppressed and insulted by the speeches of overbearing men, may be obliged and see it necessary to say some things of himself, in his own vindication, which he otherwise would not; see 2 Corinthians 11:15; or, "I am not falling before you"; or "by you"F5לא נפל אנכי מכם "non cadens ego a vobis", Montanus, Vatablus, Bolducius, Beza, Mercerus, Michaelis; "prae vobis", Schmidt. ; as one intimidated, conquered, and yielding; I stand my ground, and will not gave way or submit to you, or allow you to have the superiority of me: or, "I am falling no more than you"; they took him for an apostate from God, and the fear of him, and the true religion he had professed, which Job denies; he held fast his integrity; and though he was fallen into calamities and afflictions, he was not fallen from God; from his fear of him, faith in him, and love and obedience to him; he was a holy, good man, a persevering saint; and though he had slips and falls in common with good men, yet fell not finally and totally, or was an apostate from the faith:

yea, who knoweth not such things as these? or, "with whom are not as these"F6ואת מי אין כמו אלה "et cum quo non sicut haec?" Pagninus, Montanus, Bolducius, Mercerus; and to the same sense Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Schultens. ? the things you have been discoursing of, which you would fain have pass for the secrets of wisdom, deep and mysterious things, hid from vulgar eyes, which none have and know but yourselves, are common things, what everyone is possessed of, and understands as well as you; that there is a God that has made the world, and governs it; that he himself is unsearchable, infinite and incomprehensible; a sovereign Being that does according to his will and pleasure, and sees and knows all things, and does all things well and wisely, and according to the counsel of his will: though some think Job has reference not to what Zophar had been discoursing concerning the infinity and wisdom of God, but to the thing or things in dispute between them, or to the assertions of his friends; that it is always well with good men, and ill with bad men, or that wicked men only are punished and afflicted, and particularly what Zophar concluded his speech with, Job 11:20. Now these were vulgar notions, which the common people had taken up, and were vulgar errors, as he proves in the following verses, by giving instances of good men, being afflicted, and of bad men being in prosperity.

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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.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 12:3". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-12.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

not inferior — not vanquished in argument and “wisdom” (Job 13:2).

such things as these — such commonplace maxims as you so pompously adduce.

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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.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 12:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-12.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: yea, who knoweth not such things as these?

But — In these things, which he speaks not in a way of boasting, but for the just vindication both of himself, and of that cause of God, which for the substance of it he maintained rightly, as God himself attests, chap42:7.

Such things — The truth is, neither you nor I have any reason to be puffed up with our knowledge of these things: for the most barbarous nations know that God is infinite in wisdom, and power, and justice. But this is not the question between you and me.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Job 12:3". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-12.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 12:3 But I have understanding as well as you; I [am] not inferior to you: yea, who knoweth not such things as these?

Ver. 3. But I have understanding as well as you] Think not that you have engrossed all the knowledge, and that you have the monopoly of wisdom in your breasts; for surely I may come into the balance with you, and claim as great a share in understanding as yourselves. Zophar was pleased to call me hollow and heartless, Job 11:12; but I have a heart (so the Hebrew here hath it), that seat of understanding; and that shall appear in the ensuing discourse: where Job proveth that by solid arguments concerning which Zophar had but barely propounded. And whereas this patient man was not without his impatience, yet he discovereth more grace, even in his distempers, than his friends did in their seeming wise carnages. Breaking out in the body shows strength of nature. Some infirmities discover more good than some seeming beautiful actions.

I am not inferior to you] Heb. I fall not lower than you. See Nehemiah 6:16, Esther 6:13, Job 13:2. He meaneth that he was much their superior, and did better understand the doctrine of God’s providence than they. This he speaketh not out of any vain glory, or ambitious boasting, but as David, and Paul, and others after them did, commending themselves, either in defence of their own wronged innocence, or when it appeared unto them that the concealing of their good parts and practices might turn to the hindrance of the truth, or to the harm of the Church, or to the impairing and impeaching of God’s glory. In these cases self-commendation is not unseemly; but a Job may lawfully stand upon, not his comparisons only, but his disparisons also.

Yea, who knoweth not eueh things as these?] viz. That God rewardeth the righteous, and punisheth the ungodly. The heathen saw this by the rush candle of nature’s dim light. "Doth not nature itself teach you?" saith Paul, 1 Corinthians 11:14. And again, "This ye know, that no whoremonger, &c., hath any inheritance in the kingdom of God and of Christ," Ephesians 5:5.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 12:3". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-12.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

An understanding, Heb. a heart; which is oft put for the understanding, as Job 34:34 Jeremiah 5:21 Acts 8:22; i.e. God hath given me also the knowledge and ability to judge of these matters.

I am not inferior to you in these things; which he speaketh, not in a way of vain-glorious boasting, but for the just and necessary vindication both of himself; and of that cause of God, which for the matter and substance of it he maintained rightly, as God himself attests, Job 42:7.

Who knoweth not such things as these? the truth is, neither you nor I have any reason to be puffed up with our knowledge of these things; for the most foolish and barbarous nations know that God is infinite in wisdom, and power, and justice. But this is not the question between you and me.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 12:3". 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

3.Understanding — Or, a heart. With the ancient Hebrews the heart was the seat of the understanding, and the bowels the seat of the emotions. “He also has a heart like them; he is, therefore, not empty.’” — Delitzsch. Job thus courteously replies to Zophar’s savage onslaught. See note on Job 11:12. Inferior to you — Either in argument, or, perhaps, (ironically,) in the ability to bring forward proverbs. Who knoweth not, etc. — Your wisdom is commonplace. Common sense should have taught you this.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 12:3". "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 12:3. But I have an understanding — Hebrew, a heart, which is often put for the understanding: God hath given me also the knowledge and ability to judge of these matters. I am not inferior to you — In these things; which he speaks, not in a way of boasting, but for the just vindication both of himself and of that cause of God, which, for the substance of it, he maintained rightly, as God himself attests, Job 42:6. Who knoweth not such things — The truth is, neither you nor I have any reason to be puffed up with our knowledge of these things; for the most barbarous nations know that God is infinite in wisdom, and power, and justice. But this is not the question between you and me.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 12:3". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-12.html. 1857.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Though Job is suffering, he can still think, and he was not inferior to them in wisdom (13:2). In fact, the things that they said about God and His justice and wisdom were simply common knowledge, "who does not know such things as these?" "After all, he was a wise man of the East, too" (Zuck p. 55).

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 12:3". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-12.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

who knoweth not. ? Figure of speech Erotisis. App-6.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 12:3". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/job-12.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: yea, who knoweth not such things as these?

Not inferior - not vanquished in argument and "wisdom" (Job 13:2).

Such things as these - such commonplace maxims as you so pompously adduce.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 12:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-12.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: yea, who knoweth not such things as these?
But I have
13:2-5; Proverbs 26:4; 2 Corinthians 11:5,21-23
understanding
Heb. an heart. I am not inferior to you. Heb. I fall not lower than you. who knoweth not such things as these. Heb. with whom are not such as these.
6:6,7; 26:2,3
Reciprocal: Job 6:13 - and is wisdom;  Job 11:12 - would;  Job 12:9 - Who;  Job 34:16 - GeneralJob 37:19 - Teach;  Job 38:2 - General

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 12:3". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-12.html.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"I am not inferior to you."Job 12:3

This may be a mere boast, or it may contain truth which is of great spiritual significance.—The spirit of defiance ought to be taken out of it, and the substantial suggestion should be adopted by every man who wishes to make real progress in Christian instruction and experience.—The poorest man may say to the greatest—I am not inferior to you in my desire to appreciate my life and make the most of it; therefore I cannot be turned aside by vain quibbling or frivolous criticism, but I must go to the fountain of knowledge itself, and there make my own inquiries and decisions.—So the poor man may say—I am not inferior to you in the sight of God; social distinctions there are in abundance, often invidious, vexatious, troublesome, sometimes rational, useful and beneficent; but after all, the true judgment of man is with God, and God looks upon the rich and the poor alike, with an eye of love and interest.—This being the case, he may continue the argument and say, God will also take care of me and my children; he has spoken kinder words to the poor than he ever spoke to the rich; he seems to have made his promises on purpose for those who were desolate, and helpless, and sad.—Then he may cheer himself with the thought that there are inferiorities which are only for the time being,—they are transient, and the true standard of superiority will by-and-by be worked out, and God will put every man in his legitimate place; the first shall be last, and the last shall be first; it is not for us to say who shall go forward, and who shall be thrust behind; our function is to discover our duty, to accept it, to do it with both hands earnestly, and to leave the whole result of classification and promotion to him who ruleth over all.—In speaking of inferiority and superiority, the spirit of vexatious criticism or envious defiance should always be suppressed and destroyed, and this only can be done by the reigning and superabundant grace of God.—He who boasts himself of himself is a fool; he who appeals to the divine standard and abides by the divine discrimination is a wise Prayer of Manasseh, and he will accept the lowest place, not with humility only, but with thankfulness and joy, should such be the will of his Father in heaven.

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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 12:3". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/job-12.html. 1885-95.