Job 1:5

5 And when the feast days had run their course, Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, "It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts." This is what Job always did.

Job 1:5 Meaning and Commentary

Job 1:5

And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about,
&c.] When they had been at each other's houses in turn; when the rotation was ended: something like this is practised by the Chinese, who have their co-fraternities, which they call "the brotherhood of the month"; this consists of thirty, according to the number of days therein, and in a circle they go every day to eat at one another's house by turns; if one man has not convenience to receive the fraternity in his own house, he may provide it at another man's, and there are many public houses very well furnished for this purpose F5: Job's sons probably began at the elder brother's house, and so went on according to their age, and ended with the younger brother; so when they had gone through the circuit, as the word F6 signifies, and the revolution was over, and they had done feasting for that season, or that year:

that Job sent and sanctified them;
not that he did or could make them holy, by imparting grace, or infusing holiness into them; at most he could only pray for their sanctification, and give them rules, precepts, and instructions about holiness, and exhortations to it; but here it signifies, that being at some distance from them he sent messengers or letters to them to sanctify and prepare themselves for the sacrifices he was about to offer for them; either by some rites and ceremonies, as by washing themselves, and abstinence from their wives, which were sometimes used as preparatory to divine service, ( Genesis 35:2 Genesis 35:3 ) ( Exodus 19:10 Exodus 19:11 Exodus 19:14 Exodus 19:15 ) , or by fasting and prayer; or, perhaps, no more is intended by it than an invitation of them to come and attend the solemn sacrifice which he, as the head of the family, would offer for them; so, to sanctify people, is sometimes to invite, to call and gather them to holy service, see ( Joel 2:15 Joel 2:16 ) and so the Targum renders it. "Job sent and invited them:"

and rose up early in the morning
of the last of the days of feasting; he took the first opportunity, and that as early as he could; which shows the eagerness of his spirit for the glory of God, and the good of his children, losing no time for his devotion to God, and regard for his family; this being also the fittest time for religious worship and service, see ( Psalms 5:3 ) , and was used for sacrifice, ( Exodus 29:39 ) ,

and offered burnt offering according to the number of them all
either of his ten children, or only his seven sons, since they only are next mentioned, and were the masters of the feast: this was before the law of the priesthood was in being, which restrained the offering of sacrifice to those in the office of priests, when, before, every head of a family had a right unto it; and this custom of offering sacrifice was before the law of Moses, it was of divine institution, and in use from the time of the fall of man, ( Genesis 3:21 ) ( Genesis 4:3 Genesis 4:4 ) ( 8:20 ) , and was by tradition handed down from one to another, and so Job had it; and which was typical of the sacrifice of Christ, to be offered up in the fulness of time for the expiation of sin; and Job, no doubt, by faith in Christ, offered up those burnt offerings for his sons, and one for each of them, thereby signifying, that everyone stood in need of the whole sacrifice of Christ for the atonement of sin, as every sinner does:

for Job said, it may be that my sons have sinned;
not merely as in common, or daily sins of infirmity; for Job so full well knew the corruption of human nature, that a day could not pass without sin in thought, word, or deed; but some more notorious or scandalous sin; that, in the midst of their feasting and mirth, they had used some filthy, or frothy, and unsavoury and unbecoming language; had dropped some impure words, or impious jests, or done some actions which would reflect dishonour on God and true religion, and bring an odium on themselves and families: now Job was not certain of this, he had had no instruction or intelligence of it; he only surmised and conjectured it might be so; he was fearful and jealous lest it should: this shows his care and concern, as for the glory of God, so for the spiritual welfare of his children, though they were grown up and gone from him, and is to be considered in favour of his sons; for by this it is evident they were not addicted to any sin, or did not live a vicious course of life; but that they were religious and godly persons; or, otherwise Job would have had no doubt in his mind about their conduct and behaviour: the particular sin he feared they might have been guilty of follows:

and cursed God in their hearts;
not in the grossest sense of the expression, so as to deny the being of God, and wish there was none, and conceive blasphemy in their hearts, and utter it with their lips; but whereas to bless God is to think and speak well of him, and ascribe that to him which is his due; so to curse him is to think and speak irreverently of him, and not to attribute to him what belongs unto him; and thus Job might fear that his sons, amidst their feasting, might boast of their plenty, and of the increase of their substance, and attribute it to their own diligence and industry, and not to the providence of God, of which he feared they might speak slightingly and unbecomingly, as persons in such circumstances sometimes do, see ( Deuteronomy 32:15 ) ( Proverbs 30:9 ) . Mr. Broughton renders it, "and little blessed God in their hearts" not blessing him as they should was interpretatively cursing him; the Hebrew word used properly and primarily signifies to bless F7, and then the meaning is, either that his sons had sinned, but took no notice of it, nor were humbled for it, but blessed God, being prosperous and successful, as if they had never sinned at all, see ( Zechariah 13:1 ) , Sanctius adds the negative particle "not", as if the meaning was, that they sinned, and did not bless God for their mercies as they should, ( Deuteronomy 8:10 ) , but this is too daring and venturous to make such an addition; though this is favoured by the Targum, as in some copies, which paraphrases it,

``and have not prayed in the name of the Lord in their hearts:''

and because the word is used at parting, and taking a farewell of friends, Cocceius thinks it may be so used here, and the sense to be, that they sinned, and took their leave of God, and departed from him; but rather, as the word Elohim is used of strange gods, of false deities, ( Exodus 18:11 ) . Job's fears might be, lest his sons should have been guilty of any idolatrous action, at least of blessing the gods of the Gentiles in their hearts, since feasting sometimes leads to idolatry, ( Exodus 32:6 ) , but the first sense seems best, with which the Septuagint version agrees,

``it may be my sons in their mind have thought evil things against the Lord:''

thus did Job continually;
or "all those days" F8; that is, after every such circuit and rotation of feasting, or after every feast day kept by them, he offered sacrifices for them; or every year F9, as some interpret the phrase, the feasts, and so the sacrifices, being annual; all this is observed, partly further to describe the piety of Job, his affection for his family, and concern for their spiritual good, and the glory of God, and partly as a leading step to an later event, ( Job 1:18 Job 1:19 ) .


F5 Semedo's History of China, par. 1. c. 13.
F6 (wpyqh) "cum circulssent, vel circulum fecissent", Vatablus; "circulum absolverent", Bolducius.
F7 (Myhla wkrb) "benedixerint Deo", V. L. Piscator.
F8 (Mymyh lk) "cunctis diebus", Pagninus, Montanus; "singulis diebus illis", Junius & Tremellius; "omnibus diebus illis", Piscator, Cocceius.
F9 "Singulis annis", Schmidt, Schultens; see 1 Sam. xx. 7.

Job 1:5 In-Context

3 He had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and very many servants; so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.
4 His sons used to go and hold feasts in one another's houses in turn; and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.
5 And when the feast days had run their course, Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, "It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts." This is what Job always did.
6 One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.
7 The Lord said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the Lord, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it."
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.