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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Job 12



Verse 1

Job 12:1-14:22. Job‘s reply to Zophar.

Verse 2

wisdom shall die with you — Ironical, as if all the wisdom in the world was concentrated in them and would expire when they expired. Wisdom makes “a people:” a foolish nation is “not a people” (Romans 10:19).

Verse 3

not inferior — not vanquished in argument and “wisdom” (Job 13:2).

such things as these — such commonplace maxims as you so pompously adduce.

Verse 4

The unfounded accusations of Job‘s friends were a “mockery” of him. He alludes to Zophar‘s word, “mockest” (Job 11:3).

neighbour, who calleth, etc. — rather, “I who call upon God that he may answer me favorably” [Umbreit].

Verse 5

Rather, “a torch” (lamp) is an object of contempt in the thoughts of him who rests securely (is at ease), though it was prepared for the falterings of the feet [Umbreit] (Proverbs 25:19). “Thoughts” and “feet” are in contrast; also rests “securely,” and “falterings.” The wanderer, arrived at his night-quarters, contemptuously throws aside the torch which had guided his uncertain steps through the darkness. As the torch is to the wanderer, so Job to his friends. Once they gladly used his aid in their need; now they in prosperity mock him in his need.

Verse 6

Job shows that the matter of fact opposes Zophar‘s theory (Job 11:14, Job 11:19, Job 11:20) that wickedness causes insecurity in men‘s “tabernacles.” On the contrary, they who rob the “tabernacles” (“dwellings”) of others “prosper securely” in their own.

into whose hand, etc. — rather, “who make a god of their own hand,” that is, who regard their might as their only ruling principle [Umbreit].

Verse 7-8

Beasts, birds, fishes, and plants, reasons Job, teach that the violent live the most securely (Job 12:6). The vulture lives more securely than the dove, the lion than the ox, the shark than the dolphin, the rose than the thorn which tears it.

Verse 8

speak to the earth — rather, “the shrubs of the earth” [Umbreit].

Verse 9

In all these cases, says Job, the agency must be referred to Jehovah, though they may seem to man to imply imperfection (Job 12:6; Job 9:24). This is the only undisputed passage of the poetical part in which the name “Jehovah” occurs; in the historical parts it occurs frequently.

Verse 10

the soul — that is, the animal life. Man, reasons Job, is subjected to the same laws as the lower animals.

Verse 11

As the mouth by tasting meats selects what pleases it, so the ear tries the words of others and retains what is convincing. Each chooses according to his taste. The connection with Job 12:12 is in reference to Bildad‘s appeal to the “ancients” (Job 8:8). You are right in appealing to them, since “with them was wisdom,” etc. But you select such proverbs of theirs as suit your views; so I may borrow from the same such as suit mine.

Verse 12

ancient — aged (Job 15:10).

Verse 13

In contrast to, “with the ancient is wisdom” (Job 12:12), Job quotes a saying of the ancients which suits his argument, “with Him (God) is (the true) wisdom” (Proverbs 8:14); and by that “wisdom and strength” “He breaketh down,” etc., as an absolute Sovereign, not allowing man to penetrate His mysteries; man‘s part is to bow to His unchangeable decrees (Job 1:21). The Mohammedan saying is, “if God will, and how God will.”

Verse 14

shutteth up — (Isaiah 22:22). Job refers to Zophar‘s “shut up” (Job 11:10).

Verse 15

Probably alluding to the flood.

Verse 16

(Ezekiel 14:9).

Verse 18

He looseth the bond of kings — He looseth the authority of kings - the “bond” with which they bind their subjects (Isaiah 45:1; Genesis 14:4; Daniel 2:21).

a girdle — the cord, with which they are bound as captives, instead of the royal “girdle” they once wore (Isaiah 22:21), and the bond they once bound others with. So “gird” - put on one the bonds of a prisoner instead of the ordinary girdle (John 21:18).

Verse 19

princes — rather, “priests,” as the Hebrew is rendered (Psalm 99:6). Even the sacred ministers of religion are not exempt from reverses and captivity.

the mighty — rather, “the firm-rooted in power”; the Arabic root expresses ever-flowing water [Umbreit].

Verse 20

the trusty — rather, “those secure in their eloquence”; for example, the speakers in the gate (Isaiah 3:3) [Beza].

understanding — literally, “taste,” that is, insight or spiritual discernment, which experience gives the aged. The same Hebrew word is applied to Daniel‘s wisdom in interpretation (Daniel 2:14).

Verse 21

Psalm 107:40 quotes, in its first clause, this verse and, in its second, Job 12:24.

weakeneth the strength — literally, “looseth the girdle”; Orientals wear flowing garments; when active strength is to be put forth, they gird up their garments with a girdle. Hence here - “He destroyeth their power” in the eyes of the people.

Verse 22

(Daniel 2:22).

Verse 23

Isaiah 9:3; Psalm 107:38, Psalm 107:39, which Psalm quotes this chapter elsewhere. (See on Job 12:21).

straiteneth — literally, “leadeth in,” that is, “reduces.”

Verse 24

heart — intelligence.

wander in a wilderness — figurative; not referring to any actual fact. This cannot be quoted to prove Job lived after Israel‘s wanderings in the desert. Psalm 107:4, Psalm 107:40 quotes this passage.

Verse 25

Deuteronomy 28:29; Psalm 107:27 again quote Job, but in a different connection.


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 12:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

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