Eliphaz reproves Job. (1-16) The unquietness of wicked men. (17-35)
Verses 1-16 Eliphaz begins a second attack upon Job, instead of being softened by his complaints. He unjustly charges Job with casting off the fear of God, and all regard to him, and restraining prayer. See in what religion is summed up, fearing God, and praying to him; the former the most needful principle, the latter the most needful practice. Eliphaz charges Job with self-conceit. He charges him with contempt of the counsels and comforts given him by his friends. We are apt to think that which we ourselves say is important, when others, with reason, think little of it. He charges him with opposition to God. Eliphaz ought not to have put harsh constructions upon the words of one well known for piety, and now in temptation. It is plain that these disputants were deeply convinced of the doctrine of original sin, and the total depravity of human nature. Shall we not admire the patience of God in bearing with us? and still more his love to us in the redemption of Christ Jesus his beloved Son?
Verses 17-35 Eliphaz maintains that the wicked are certainly miserable: whence he would infer, that the miserable are certainly wicked, and therefore Job was so. But because many of God's people have prospered in this world, it does not therefore follow that those who are crossed and made poor, as Job, are not God's people. Eliphaz shows also that wicked people, particularly oppressors, are subject to continual terror, live very uncomfortably, and perish very miserably. Will the prosperity of presumptuous sinners end miserably as here described? Then let the mischiefs which befal others, be our warnings. Though no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby. No calamity, no trouble, however heavy, however severe, can rob a follower of the Lord of his favour. What shall separate him from the love of Christ?
Job 15:1-35 . SECOND SPEECH OF ELIPHAZ.
2. a wise man--which Job claims to be.
vain knowledge--Hebrew, "windy knowledge"; literally, "of wind" ( Job 8:2 ). In Ecclesiastes 1:14 , Hebrew, "to catch wind," expresses to strive for what is vain.
east wind--stronger than the previous "wind," for in that region the east wind is the most destructive of winds ( Isaiah 27:8 ). Thus here,--empty violence.
belly--the inward parts, the breast ( Proverbs 18:8 ).
4. fear--reverence for God ( Job 4:6 , Psalms 2:11 ).
prayer--meditation, in Psalms 104:34 ; so devotion. If thy views were right, reasons Eliphaz, that God disregards the afflictions of the righteous and makes the wicked to prosper, all devotion would be at an end.
5. The sophistry of thine own speeches proves thy guilt.
6. No pious man would utter such sentiments.
7. That is, Art thou wisdom personified? Wisdom existed before the hills; that is, the eternal Son of God ( Proverbs 8:25 , Psalms 90:2 ). Wast thou in existence before Adam? The farther back one existed, the nearer he was to the Eternal Wisdom.
8. secret--rather, "Wast thou a listener in the secret council of God?" The Hebrew means properly the cushions of a divan on which counsellors in the East usually sit. God's servants are admitted to God's secrets ( Psalms 25:14 , Genesis 18:17 , John 15:15 ).
restrain--Rather, didst thou take away, or borrow, thence (namely, from the divine secret council) thy wisdom? Eliphaz in this ( Job 15:8 Job 15:9 ) retorts Job's words upon himself ( Job 12:2 Job 12:3 , 13:2 ).
9. in us--or, "with us," Hebraism for "we are aware of."
10. On our side, thinking with us are the aged. Job had admitted that wisdom is with them ( Job 12:12 ). Eliphaz seems to have been himself older than Job; perhaps the other two were also ( Job 32:6 ). Job, in Job 30:1 , does not refer to his three friends; it therefore forms no objection. The Arabs are proud of fulness of years.
11. consolations--namely, the revelation which Eliphaz had stated as a consolatory reproof to Job, and which he repeats in Job 15:14 .
secret--Hast thou some secret wisdom and source of consolation, which makes thee disregard those suggested by me? ( Job 15:8 ). Rather, from a different Hebrew root, Is the word of kindness or gentleness addressed by me treated by thee as valueless? [UMBREIT].
12. wink--that is, why do thy eyes evince pride? ( Proverbs 6:13 , Psalms 35:19 ).
13. That is, frettest against God and lettest fall rash words.
14. Eliphaz repeats the revelation ( Job 4:17 ) in substance, but using Job's own words woman") to strike him with his own weapons.
15. Repeated from Job 4:18 ; "servants" there are "saints" here; namely, holy angels.
heavens--literally, or else answering to "angels"
16. filthy--in Arabic "sour" ( Psalms 14:3 , 53:3 ), corrupted from his original purity.
drinketh--( Proverbs 19:28 ).
17. In direct contradiction of Job's position ( Job 12:6 , &c.), that the lot of the wicked was the most prosperous here, Eliphaz appeals (1) to his own experience, (2) to the wisdom of the ancients.
18. Rather, "and which as handed down from their fathers, they have not concealed."
19. Eliphaz speaks like a genuine Arab when he boasts that his ancestors had ever possessed the land unmixed with foreigners [UMBREIT]. His words are intended to oppose Job's ( Job 9:24 ); "the earth" in their case was not "given into the hand of the wicked." He refers to the division of the earth by divine appointment ( Genesis 10:5 , 25:32 ). Also he may insinuate that Job's sentiments had been corrupted from original purity by his vicinity to the Sabeans and Chaldeans [ROSENMULLER].
20. travaileth--rather, "trembleth of himself," though there is no real danger [UMBREIT].
and the number of his years, &c.--This gives the reason why the wicked man trembles continually; namely, because he knows not the moment when his life must end.
21. An evil conscience conceives alarm at every sudden sound, though it be in a time of peace ("prosperity"), when there is no real danger ( Leviticus 26:36 , Proverbs 28:1 , 2 Kings 7:6 ).
22. darkness--namely, danger or calamity. Glancing at Job, who despaired of restoration: in contrast to good men when in darkness ( Micah 7:8 Micah 7:9 ).
waited for of--that is, He is destined for the sword [GESENIUS]. Rather (in the night of danger), "he looks anxiously towards the sword," as if every sword was drawn against him [UMBREIT].
23. Wandereth in anxious search for bread. Famine in Old Testament depicts sore need ( Isaiah 5:13 ). Contrast the pious man's lot ( Job 5:20-22 ).
knoweth--has the firm conviction. Contrast the same word applied to the pious ( Job 5:24 Job 5:25 ).
ready at his hand--an Arabic phrase to denote a thing's complete readiness and full presence, as if in the hand.
24. prevail--break upon him suddenly and terribly, as a king, &c. ( Proverbs 6:11 ).
25. stretcheth . . . hand--wielding the spear, as a bold rebel against God ( Job 9:4 , Isaiah 27:4 ).
26. on his neck--rather, "with outstretched neck," namely, that of the rebel [UMBREIT] ( Psalms 75:5 ).
upon . . . bucklers--rather, "with--his (the rebel's, not God's) bucklers." The rebel and his fellows are depicted as joining shields together, to form a compact covering over their heads against the weapons hurled on them from a fortress [UMBREIT and GESENIUS].
27. The well-nourished body of the rebel is the sign of his prosperity.
collops--masses of fat. He pampers and fattens himself with sensual indulgences; hence his rebellion against God ( Deuteronomy 32:15 , 1 Samuel 2:29 ).
28. The class of wicked here described is that of robbers who plunder "cities," and seize on the houses of the banished citizens ( Isaiah 13:20 ). Eliphaz chooses this class because Job had chosen the same ( Job 12:6 ).
29. Rather, he shall not increase his riches; he has reached his highest point; his prosperity shall not continue.
perfection--rather, "His acquired wealth--what he possesses--shall not be extended," &c.
30. depart--that is, escape ( Job 15:22 Job 15:23 ).
branches--namely, his offspring ( Job 1:18 Job 1:19 , Psalms 37:35 ).
dry up--The "flame" is the sultry wind in the East by which plants most full of sap are suddenly shrivelled.
his mouth--that is, God's wrath ( Isaiah 11:4 ).
31. Rather, "let him not trust in vanity or he will be deceived," &c.
vanity--that which is unsubstantial. Sin is its own punishment ( Proverbs 1:31 , Jeremiah 2:19 ).
32. Literally, "it (the tree to which he is compared, Job 15:30 , or else his life) shall not be filled up in its time"; that is, "he shall be ended before his time."
shall not be green--image from a withered tree; the childless extinction of the wicked.
33. Images of incompleteness. The loss of the unripe grapes is poetically made the vine tree's own act, in order to express more pointedly that the sinner's ruin is the fruit of his own conduct ( Isaiah 3:11 , Jeremiah 6:19 ).
34. Rather, The binding together of the hypocrites (wicked) shall be fruitless [UMBREIT].
tabernacles of bribery--namely, dwellings of unjust judges, often reprobated in the Old Testament ( Isaiah 1:23 ). The "fire of God" that consumed Job's possessions ( Job 1:16 ) Eliphaz insinuates may have been on account of Job's bribery as an Arab sheik or emir.
35. Bitter irony, illustrating the "unfruitfulness" ( Job 15:34 ) of the wicked. Their conceptions and birthgivings consist solely in mischief, &c. ( Isaiah 33:11 ).