Job 32:8

8 But it is 1the spirit in man, 2the breath of the Almighty, that makes him 3understand.

Job 32:8 Meaning and Commentary

Job 32:8

But [there is] a spirit in man
This seems to be a correction of his former sentiment; the consideration of which gave him encouragement, though young, to declare his opinion, since there is a spirit in men, both young and old; and wherever that be, there is an ability to speak and a capacity of teaching wisdom; which is not tied to age; but may he found in young men as well as in old men: some by this understand the rational soul, or spirit, which is immaterial, immortal, is of God, and is in man; and the rather it is thought this is meant, because it is in every man, whereby he has knowledge of many things, natural and divine, and particularly is capable of trying and judging things, of discerning the difference between one thing and another, and of reasoning and discoursing upon them; and this being observed by Elihu, and he being conscious to himself of having such a spirit in him, was emboldened to engage in the debate, though a young man; but if such a spirit is meant, the words may be rendered to such a sense, verily, truly, indeed "there is [such a rational spirit] in man", which makes him capable of knowing many things, "but the inspiration of the Almighty" F16; it is not owing to the rational powers and faculties of the soul of man, and the use of them, that a man becomes capable of teaching others wisdom; but to his soul or spirit being inspired by the Almighty; and such an one, be he young or old, that God breathes into, and he is under his inspiration, he is the man fit to engage in such work: though I rather think, that in this first clause the spirit of God is meant, and so Jarchi; who is an uncreated, infinite, and eternal Spirit; is of God, and is put into men; for he is not in men naturally, nor in everyone; and where he is, he is given, and there he abides; and it is from him men have their wisdom and knowledge; it is he that makes men know themselves, that searches the deep things of God, and reveals them to men, and that is the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, and leads into all truth, as it is in him; though rather the spirit in his gifts, than in his spiritual saving grace, is here meant; and so does not point to every good man in common, but to such who are favoured with the gifts of the spirit superior to others; and so the Targum interprets it of the spirit of prophecy; and on whomsoever this rests, whether on young or old, he is fit to teach men wisdom:

and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding;
not the soul of man, or breath of God inspired by him, which is the candle of the Lord, searching the inward parts of men; for that leaves him without understanding of things of the greatest importance: rather, as the Targum, the Word of God, the essential Word, the Son of God, who gives an understanding of the best things, ( 1 John 5:20 ) ; but, better, the Spirit of God, by whom the Scriptures were inspired, and who is breathed into men, ( John 20:22 ) ; and is a spirit of understanding to them; for though a man has an understanding of natural things, yet not of things spiritual; to have an understanding of them is the special gift of God, and is in particular the work of the Spirit of God: Elihu now having some reason to believe that he had the Spirit of God, and was under his inspiration, and was favoured with knowledge and understanding by him, is encouraged, though young, to interpose in this dispute between Job and his friends, and declare his opinion on the matter in debate; and which leads him to make an observation somewhat different from his former sentiment, as follows.


F16 So Vatablus, Beza.

Job 32:8 In-Context

6 And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said: "I am young in years, and you are aged; therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you.
7 I said, 'Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.'
8 But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.
9 It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.
10 Therefore I say, 'Listen to me; let me also declare my opinion.'

Cross References 3

  • 1. Job 33:4; Job 34:14
  • 2. Job 33:4; Genesis 2:7
  • 3. Job 35:11; Job 38:36; Job 39:17; 1 Kings 3:12; 1 Kings 4:29; Proverbs 2:6; Ecclesiastes 2:26; Daniel 1:17; Daniel 2:21; James 1:5
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.