What [is] man, that he should be clean?
&c.] Frail, feeble, mortal man, or woeful man, as Mr. Broughton renders it; since he is sinful, whereby he is become such a weak and dying creature: this question, as well as the following, is put by way of contempt, and as lessening man in a comparative sense, and in order to abate any high conceit of himself; who is not naturally clean, but the reverse, being conceived and born in sin; nor can he be so of himself, nor by any means he is capable of; and however clean he may be in his own eyes, or in the eyes of others, yet is not clean in the sight of God, and still less pure than him, his Maker, as in ( Job 4:17 ) ; and indeed cannot be clean at all, but through the grace of God, and blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin:
and [he which is] born of a woman;
a periphrasis of man, ( Job 14:1 ) ;
that he should be righteous?
as no man is naturally; there is none righteous, no, not one; though man originally was made righteous, yet sinning he lost his righteousness, and all his posterity are without any; nor can they become righteous of themselves, or by any works of righteousness done by them; and though they may trust in themselves that they are righteous, and may appear outwardly so before men, yet by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified or accounted righteous in the sight of God, and much less be more just than he, as in ( Job 4:17 ) ; nor can any of the sons of men be made or reckoned righteous but by the obedience of Christ, or by that justifying righteousness that is in him: what Eliphaz here says concerning the impurity, imperfection, and unrighteousness of men, are very great truths; but if he aims at Job, as he seems to do he misses his mark, and mistakes the man, and it is in vain with respect to him, or as a refutation of any notions of his; for Job asserts the corruption and depravity of human nature as strongly as it is expressed here, ( Job 14:4 ) ; nor does he ever claim, but disclaims, sinless perfection, ( Job 9:20 ) ; nor did he expect to be personally justified before God by any righteousness of his own, the imperfection of which he was sensible of, but by the righteousness of his living Redeemer, ( Job 9:30 Job 9:31 ) ( 19:25 ) ; but what he pleaded for was the integrity and uprightness of his heart in opposition to hypocrisy he was charged with; and the holiness and righteousness of his life and conversation, in opposition to a course of living in sin, or to his being guilty of some notorious sin or sins for which he was afflicted, as was insinuated. Eliphaz here recurs to his oracle, ( Job 4:17 Job 4:18 ) ; and expresses it much to the same sense.