If I beheld the sun when it shined
Some take this to be a reason why Job did not make gold his hope and confidence, because all sublunary and earthly enjoyments must be uncertain, fading, and perish, since the sun and moon are not without their deficiencies and changes, to which sense the Septuagint version inclines; others, as Nachmanides, that they are a denial that Job ascribed his wealth and substance to the influence of the heavenly bodies; and many interpreters are of opinion that they are a continuation of the same subject as before; Job hereby declaring that neither his eye nor his heart were set upon his outward prosperity, comparable to the light of the sun, and the brightness of the moon; that he did not secretly please himself with it, nor congratulate himself upon it nor applaud his own wisdom and industry; and of late Schultens and others interpret it of flattering great personages, complimenting: them, and courting their favour, which we call worshipping the rising sun; but I rather think it is to be understood, as it more generally is, of worshipping the sun and moon in a literal sense; which was the first kind of idolatry men went into; those very ancient idolaters, the Zabii, worshipped the sun as their greater god, as Maimonides F1 observes, to whom he says they offered seven bats, seven mice, and seven other creeping things, with some other things also; in later times horses were offered to it, see ( 2 Kings 23:11 ) . So the ancient Egyptians worshipped the sun and moon, calling the one Osiris, and the other Isis F2. The word for sun is "light", and it is so called because it is a luminous body, and the fountain of light to others; it is called the greater light, ( Genesis 1:16 ) ; and from this Hebrew word "or", with the Egyptians, Apollo, who is the sun, is called Horus, as Macrobius F3 relates; it is said to "shine", as it always does, even when below our horizon, or in an eclipse, or under a cloud, though not seen by us. Job has here respect to its shining clearly and visibly, and perhaps at noon day, when it is in its full strength; unless regard is had to its bright and shining appearance at its rising, when the Heathens used to pay their homage and adoration to it F4: now when Job denies that he beheld it shining, it cannot be understood of the bare sight of it, which he continually had; nor of beholding it with delight and pleasure, which might be very lawfully done, ( Ecclesiastes 11:7 ) ; nor of considering it as the work of God, being a very glorious and useful creature, in which his glory is displayed, and for which he is to be praised, because of its beneficial influence on the earth; see ( Psalms 8:3 Psalms 8:4 ) ( 19:1 ) ( Psalms 136:1 Psalms 136:7 ) ( Deuteronomy 33:14 ) ; but of his beholding it with admiration, as if it was more than a creature, ascribing deity to it, and worshipping it as God; and the same must be understood of the moon in the next clause:
or the moon walking [in] brightness;
as at first rising, or rather when in the full, in the middle of the month, as Aben Ezra; when it walks all night, in its brightness, illuminated by the sun: these two luminaries, the one called the king, the other the queen of heaven, were very early worshipped, if not the first instances of idolatry. Diodorus Siculus F5 says, that the first men of old, born in Egypt, beholding and admiring the beauty of the world, thought there were two gods in the nature of the universe, and that they were eternal; namely, the sun and moon, the one they called Osiris, and the other Isis; hence the Israelites, having dwelt long in Egypt, were in danger of being drawn into this idolatry, against which they are cautioned, ( Deuteronomy 4:19 ) ; and where was a city called Heliopolis, or the city of the sun, as in the Greek version of ( Isaiah 19:18 ) ; where was a temple dedicated to the worship of it; and so the Arabians, the neighbours of Job, according to Herodotus F6, worshipped the sun and moon; for he says the Persians were taught by them and the Assyrians to sacrifice to the sun and moon; and so did the old Canaanites and the Phoenicians; hence one of their cities is called Bethshemesh, the house or temple of the sun, ( Joshua 19:22 ) , yea, we are told F7, that to this day there are some traces of this ancient idolatry in Arabia, the neighbourhood of Job; as in a large city in Arabia, upon the Euphrates, called Anna, where they worship the sun only; this being common in those parts in Job's time, he purges himself from it.
F1 Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 29. p. 424.
F2 Diodor. Sic. l. 1. p. 10.
F3 Saturnal. l. 1. c. 21.
F4 "Illi ad surgentem conversi limina solem", Virgil. Aeneid. 12.
F5 Bibliothec. l. 1. c. 10.
F6 Clio, sive, l. 1. c. 131.
F7 De la Valle Itinerar. par. 2. c. 9. apud Spanheim. Hist. Job. c. 6. sect. 14. No. 6. p. 108, 109.