Job 31 Study Notes


31:1 Job began the final defense of his purity by declaring that he had never looked at a young woman lustfully. The eyes were considered the gateway to the inner person. The wandering eye got Samson (Jdg 16:1) and David (2Sm 11:2-3) into serious trouble, and Jesus warned of its dangers (Mt 5:27-30). Job’s covenant language underscored the seriousness of his purpose and his binding self-limitation.

31:2-4 Job posed three questions, emphasizing God’s dealing with him should he violate his covenant not to lust after a young woman. Job would have neither standing with God nor blessing, and God—who saw all that Job did (7:17-19)—would judge him as an evildoer (18:5-12; 27:13-23).

31:5-6 The metaphor of where one’s foot walks expresses proper conduct (12:5; 23:11; Pr 4:26-27). The weighing of a man in the scales was a test of character (Dn 5:27).

31:7-8 The body parts mentioned here are often used figuratively to express ethical conduct: foot (Ps 17:5), heart or mind (Pr 23:19), eyes (Ps 101:3), and hands (Ps 24:4).

31:9-12 Adultery has dire consequences (Lv 20:10; 2Sm 12:7-10). Illicit sex is likened to a fire that burns the person (Pr 6:27-29) to the utmost—all the way to Abaddon, the realm of death and destruction (26:6; 28:22).

31:13-15 Any mishandling of his servants’ complaints would make Job liable before his heavenly judge (Eph 6:9; 2Co 5:10). Just treatment of slaves and servants was expected of Israelites (Lv 25:42-43). Job had testified previously to God’s care in creating him (Jb 10:8-12). Now he acknowledged that God is the Creator of all people, giving both servants and masters value.

31:16-22 Job offered a long list of if-then statements, calling down a curse on himself if he had failed to do the right thing in any of these cases.

31:16-18 Eliphaz had charged Job with dealing unjustly with the widow, fatherless, and poor (22:4-9). Job denied such wrongdoing. Even as a young man he had been concerned for the needs of the helpless.

31:19-20 Eliphaz had charged Job with taking the clothes of a debtor as collateral (22:6). Refuting this charge, Job stated that when any person lacked necessary clothing, he supplied it and they blessed him for it. The CSB’s he (lit “his loins”) is a synecdoche where a part refers to the whole body.

31:21 Job denied that he had ever used his official position to take advantage of the weak, such as the fatherless, even though he had the backing of others.

31:22 See note at vv. 16-22.

31:23 Job’s obedience was motivated by the two aspects of the fear of the Lord: terror and awe.

31:24-28 Job offered another list of if-then statements (cp. vv. 16-22), denying that he had sinned in any of these ways (v. 28).

31:24-25 Job disavowed materialistic and greedy desires. Eliphaz’s implied criticism was false (22:24-25).

31:26-27 Job had not secretly paid homage to false deities identified with the sun or moon, as some would do by throwing a kiss toward the heavens. Such false worship did affect the Israelites later (2Kg 21:3). Job understood that idolatry and paganism were an abomination to the Lord (Dt 4:19; 17:2-5).

31:29-30 Job had not gloated over an enemy’s misfortune. This would violate accepted ethical standards (Pr 24:17-18; 25:21-22; Mt 5:43-47).

31:31-32 God’s concern included the welfare of the stranger (Lv 24:22; Dt 26:12; Ps 94:6-7). Hospitality is commended in both the OT and the NT (Gn 24:24-32; 1Tm 5:10).

31:33-34 Job had not covered up his sins by tucking them away in his heart (lit “bosom”) like a thief concealing stolen goods. Job had not played the hypocrite by sinning in secret while pretending to be virtuous (2Kg 5:24-27). He had no need to shut himself up from public view (Gn 3:8-9). Jesus condemned spiritual hypocrisy (Mt 6:2-4; 23:25-28).

31:35-37 Job had repeatedly pleaded for a fair hearing before God (13:18-23; 23:2-7) even though he feared such a meeting (9:14-16) and felt the need for an arbitrator (9:32-35; 16:21). Job, nonetheless, felt so confident that his integrity would be vindicated that he signed his affidavit. His signature is literally his tav, the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet, in the form of an X in ancient Hebrew. The name of the letter means “mark” (Ezk 9:4). Documents were usually sealed with an engraved seal (1Kg 21:8), but when signed by hand, even a literate person used the tav. When God presented his indictment (7:20), Job would place it proudly on his shoulder and approach the Lord as a prince wearing a victor’s crown. Job was certain that he had proven his innocence and righteousness (23:3-7; 27:6).

31:38-40 Job finished with a final testimony toward his vindication in the form of two more conditional statements and a curse (see vv. 16-22). He had demonstrated his integrity and righteousness toward his fellow man. He had neither overworked his land (see Lv 25:2-7) nor defrauded its tenants (24:10-11). He fortified his declaration with an imprecation involving the failure of his crops (Gn 3:18; Is 5:6).