[If] we assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be
&c.] Eliphaz speaks in the name of himself and his two friends, who had doubtless consulted together, and compared their sentiments of Job; which appearing to be the same, they formed a plan and scheme in which they should attack him, and the part which each should take, and the order in which they should proceed: these words are said, either as seemingly doubting whether they should speak or be silent; for they may be rendered, "shall we try", or attempt, to drop or speak a "word to thee"; to enter into a conversation with thee? or, "shall we take up a discourse", and carry it on with thee, "who art grieved" already? or art weary and heavy laden, and bore down with the burden of affliction, with sorrows and troubles; or art impatient F8 under them; we fear, should we, that thou wilt be more grieved and burdened, and become more impatient; and therefore know not well what to do: or else, as supposing and taking it for granted that he would be grieved and burdened, and made more restless and uneasy, impatient and outrageous, yet they had determined to enter into a debate with him; for so the words are by some rendered, "should we speak a word unto thee"; or, "against thee" F9; even should the least word be spoken against thee, thou wilt be weary F11, or burdened, or grieved, or take it ill: we know thou wilt; yet, nevertheless, we must not, we cannot, we will not forbear speaking: or else interrogatively, as our version and others, "wilt thou be grieved?" we desire thou wouldest not, nor take it ill from us, but all in good part; we mean no hurt, we design no ill, but thy good, and beg thou wilt hear us patiently: this shows how great a man Job had been, and in what reverence and respect he was had, that his friends bespeak him after this manner in his low estate; however, this was artifice in them, to introduce the discourse, and bring on the debate after this sort:
but who can withhold himself from speaking?
be it as it will; Eliphaz suggests, though Job was already and greatly burdened, and would be more so, and break out into greater impatience, yet there was a necessity of speaking, it could not be forborne; no man could refrain himself from speaking, nor ought in such a case, when the providence of God was reflected upon, and he was blasphemed and evil spoken of, and charged with injustice, as was supposed; in such circumstances, no good, no faithful man, could or ought to keep silence; indeed, when the glory of God, the honour of the Redeemer, and the good of souls require it, and a man's own reputation with respect to his faithfulness lies at stake, silence should not be kept, let the consequence be as it may; but how far this was the case may be considered.
F8 (halt Kyla rbd honh) "num suscipiemus verbum ad te, qui impatiens es?" Schmidt; "qui jam dum lassatus", Michaelis.
F9 "Contra te", Piscator.
F11 "Forsitan moleste accipies", V. L. "fatisces", Schultens.