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Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Job 31



Verses 1-4

1 I have made a covenant with mine eyes,

And how should I fix my gaze upon a maiden!

2 What then would be the dispensation of Eloah from above,

And the inheritance of the Almighty from the heights -

3 Doth not calamity overtake the wicked,

And misfortune the workers of evil?

4 Doth He not see my ways

And count all my steps?

After Job has described and bewailed the harsh contrast between the former days and the present, he gives us a picture of his moral life and endeavour, in connection with the character of which the explanation of his present affliction as a divinely decreed punishment becomes impossible, and the sudden overthrow of his prosperity into this abyss of suffering becomes to him, for the same reason, the most painful mystery. Job is not an Israelite, he is without the pale of the positive, Sinaitic revelation; his religion is the old patriarchal religion, which even in the present day is called dı̂n Ibrâhı̂m (the religion of Abraham), or dı̂n el - bedu (the religion of the steppe) as the religion of those Arabs who are not Moslem, or at least influenced by the penetrating Islamism, and is called by Mejânı̂shı̂ el - hanı̂fı̂je (vid., supra , p. 362, note) as the patriarchally orthodox religion.

(Note: Also in the Merg district east of Damascus, which is peopled by an ancient unmixed race, because the fever which prevails there kills strangers, remnants of the dı̂n Ibrâhı̂m have been preserved despite the penetrating Islamism. There the mulaqqin (Souffleur), who says the creed into the grave as a farewell to the buried one, adds the following words: “The muslim is my brother, the muslima my sister, Abraham is my father ( abı̂ ), his religion ( dı̂nuh ) is mine, and his confession ( medhebuh ) mine.” It is indisputable that the words muslim (one who is submissive to God) and islâm (submission to God) have originally belonged to the dı̂n Ibrâhı̂m . It is also remarkable that the Moslem salutation selâm occurs only as a sign in war among the wandering tribes, and that the guest parts from his host with the words: dâimâ besât el - Chalı̂l̂ lâ maqtû‛ walâ memnû‛ , i.e., mayest thou always have Abraham's table, and plenty of provisions and guests. - Wetzst.)

As little as this religion, even in the present day, is acquainted with the specific Mohammedan commandments, so little knew Job of the specifically Israelitish. On the contrary, his confession, which he lays down in this third monologue, coincides remarkably with the ten commandments of piety ( el - felâh ) peculiar to the dı̂n Ibrâhı̂m , although it differs in this respect, that it does not give the prominence to submission to the dispensations of God, that teslı̂m which, as the whole of this didactic poem teaches by its issue, is the duty of the perfectly pious; also bravery in defence of holy property and rights is wanting, which among the wandering tribes is accounted as an essential part of the hebbet er - rı̂h (inspiration of the Divine Being), i.e., active piety, and to which it is similarly related, as to the binding notion of “honour” which was coined by the western chivalry of the middle ages.

Job begins with the duty of chastity. Consistently with the prologue, which the drama itself nowhere belies, he is living in monogamy, as at the present day the orthodox Arabs, averse to Islamism, are not addicted to Moslem polygamy. With the confession of having maintained this marriage (although, to infer from the prologue, it was not an over-happy, deeply sympathetic one) sacred, and restrained himself not only from every adulterous act, but also from adulterous desires, his confessions begin. Here, in the middle of the Old Testament, without the pale of the Old Testament νόμος , we meet just that moral strictness and depth with which the Preacher on the mount, Matthew 5:27., opposes the spirit to the letter of the seventh commandment. It is לעיני , not עם־עיני , designedly; כרת ברית עם or את is the usual phrase where two equals are concerned; on the contrary, כרת ברית ל where two the superior - Jehovah, or a king, or conqueror - binds himself to another under prescribed conditions, or the covenant is made not so much by a mutual advance as by the one taking the initiative. In this latter case, the secondary notions of a promise given (e.g., Isaiah 55:3), or even, as here, of a law prescribed, are combined with כרת ברית : “as lord of my senses I prescribed this law for my eyes” (Ew.). The eyes, says a Talmudic proverb, are the procuresses of sin ( סרסורי דחטאה נינהו ); “to close his eyes, that they may not feast on evil,” is, in Isaiah 33:15, a clearly defined line in the picture of him on whom the everlasting burnings can have no hold. The exclamation, Job 31:1 , is spoken with self-conscious indignation: Why should I... (comp. Joseph's exclamation, Genesis 39:9); Schultens correctly: est indignatio repellens vehementissime et negans tale quicquam committi par esse ; the transition of the מה , Arab. mâ , to the expression of negation, which is complete in Arabic, is here in its incipient state, Ew. §325, b . התבּונן על is intended to express a fixed and inspection (comp. אל , 1 Kings 3:21) gaze upon an object, combined with a lascivious imagination (comp. Sir. 9:5, παρθένον μὴ καταμάνθανε , and 9:8, ἀπόστρεψον ὀφθαλμὸν ἀπὸ γυναικὸς εὐμόρφου καὶ μὴ καταμάνθανε κάλλος ἀλλότριον ), a βλέπειν which issues in ἐπιθυμῆσαι αὐτῆν , Matthew 5:28. Adulterium reale , and in fact two-sided, is first spoken of in the third strophe, here it is adulterium mentale and one-sided; the object named is not any maiden whatever, but any בּתוּלה , because virginity is ever to be revered, a most sacred thing, the holy purity of which Job acknowledges himself to have guarded against profanation from any lascivious gaze by keeping a strict watch over his eyes. The Waw of וּמה is, as in Job 31:14, copulative: and if I had done it, what punishment might I have looked for?

The question, Job 31:2, is proposed in order that it may be answered in Job 31:3 again in the form of a question: in consideration of the just punishment which the injurer of female innocence meets, Job disavows every unchaste look. On חלק and נחלה used of allotted, adjudged punishment, comp. Job 20:29; Job 27:13; on נכר , which alternates with איד (burden of suffering, misfortune), comp. Obadiah 1:12, where in its stead נכר occurs, as Arab. nukr , properly id quod patienti paradoxum, insuetum, intolerabile videtur, omne ingratum (Reiske). Conscious of the just punishment of the unchaste, and, as he adds in Job 31:4, of the omniscience of the heavenly Judge, Job has made dominion over sin, even in its first beginnings and motions, his principle.

The הוּא , which gives prominence to the subject, means Him who punishes the unchaste. By Him who observes his walk on every side, and counts ( יספּור , plene , according to Ew. §138, a , on account of the pause, but vid., the similar form of writing, Job 39:2; Job 18:15) all his steps, Job has been kept back from sin, and to Him Job can appeal as a witness.

Verses 5-8

5 If I had intercourse with falsehood,

And my foot hastened after deceit:

6 Let Him weigh me in the balances of justice,

And let Eloah know my innocence.

7 If my steps turned aside from the way,

And my heart followed mine eyes,

And any spot hath cleaved to my hands:

8 May I sow and another eat,

And let my shoots be rooted out.

We have translated שׁוא (on the form vid., on Job 15:31, and the idea on Job 11:11) falsehood, for it signifies desolateness and hollowness under a concealing mask, therefore the contradiction between what is without and within, lying and deceit, parall. מרמה , deceit, delusion, imposition. The phrase הלך עם־שׁוא is based on the personification of deceit, or on thinking of it in connection with the מתי־שׁוא (Job 11:11). The form ותּחשׁ cannot be derived from חוּשׁ , from which it ought to be ותּחשׁ , like ויּסר Judges 4:18 and freq., ויּשׂר ( serravit ) 1 Chronicles 20:3, ויּעט ( increpavit ) 1 Samuel 25:14. Many grammarians (Ges. §72, rem. 9; Olsh. 257, g) explain the Pathach instead of Kametz as arising from the virtual doubling of the guttural ( Dagesh forte implicitum ), for which, however, no ground exists here; Ewald (§232, b ) explains it by “the hastening of the tone towards the beginning,” which explains nothing, since the retreat of the tone has not this effect anywhere else. We must content ourselves with the supposition that ותּחשׁ is formed from a חשׁה having a similar meaning to חוּשׁ ( חישׁ ), as also ויּעט , 1 Samuel 15:19, comp. 1 Samuel 14:32, is from a עטח of similar signification with עיט . The hypothetical antecedent, Job 31:5, is followed by the conclusion, Job 31:6 : If he have done this, may God not spare him. He has, however, not done it; and if God puts him to an impartial trial, He will learn his תּמּה , integritas , purity of character. The “balance of justice” is the balance of the final judgment, which the Arabs call Arab. mı̂zân 'l - a‛mâl , “the balance of actions (works).”

(Note: The manual of ethics by Ghazzâli is entitled mı̂zân el - a‛mâl in the original, מאזני צדק in Bar-Chisdai's translation, vid., Gosche on Ghazzâli's life and works, S. 261 of the volume of the Berliner Akademie d. Wissensch. for 1858.)

Job 31:7 also begins hypothetically: if my steps ( אשּׁוּרי from אשּׁוּר , which is used alternately with אשׁוּר without distinction, contrary to Ew. §260, b ) swerve ( תּטּה , the predicate to the plur . which follows, designating a thing, according to Ges. §146, 3) from the way (i.e., the one right way), and my heart went after my eyes, i.e., if it followed the drawing of the lust of the eye, viz., to obtain by deceit or extortion the property of another, and if a spot ( מאוּם , macula , as Daniel 1:4, = מוּם , Job 11:15; according to Ew., equivalent to מחוּם , what is blackened and blackens, then a blemish, and according to Olsh., in מאוּמה ... לא , like the French ne ... point ) clave to my hands: I will sow, and let another eat, and let my shoots be rooted out. The poet uses צאצאים elsewhere of offspring of the body or posterity, Job 5:25; Job 21:8; Job 27:14; here, however, as in Isaiah, with whom he has this word in common, Job 34:2; Job 42:5, the produce of the ground is meant. Job 31:8 is, according to John 4:37, a λόγος , a proverb. In so far as he may have acted thus, Job calls down upon himself the curse of Deut. 38:20f.: what he sows, let strangers reap and eat; and even when that which is sown does not fall into the hands of strangers, let it be uprooted.

Verses 9-12

9 If my heart has been befooled about a woman,

And if I lay in wait at my neighbour's door:

10 Let my wife grind unto another,

And let others bow down over her.

11 For this is an infamous act,

And this is a crime to be brought before judges;

12 Yea, it is a fire that consumeth to the abyss,

And should root out all my increase.

As he has guarded himself against defiling virgin innocence by lascivious glances, so is he also conscious of having made no attempt to trespass upon the marriage relationship of his neighbour ( רע as in the Decalogue, Exodus 20:17): his heart was not persuaded, or he did not allow his heart to be persuaded ( נפתּה like πείθεσθαι ), i.e., misled, on account of a woman ( אשּׁה as אשׁת אישׁ , in post-bibl. usage, of another's wife), and he lay not in wait (according to the manner of adulterous lovers described at Job 24:15, which see) at his neighbour's door. We may here, with Wetzstein, compare the like-minded confession in a poem of Muhâdi ibn-Muhammel: Arab. mâ nabb klb 'l - jâr mnâ ẇlâ ‛awâ , i.e., “The neighbour's dog never barked ( נב , Beduin equivalent to נבח in the Syrian towns and villages) on our account (because we have gone by night with an evil design to his tent), and it never howled (being beaten by us, to make it cease its barking lest it should betray us).” In Job 31:10 follows the punishment which he wishes might overtake him in case he had acted thus: “may my wife grind to another,” i.e., may she become his “maid behind the mill,” Exodus 11:5, comp. Isaiah 47:2, who must allow herself to be used for everything; ἀλετρίς and a common low woman (comp. Plutarch, non posse suav . viv. c. 21, καὶ παχυσκελὴς ἀλετρὶς πρὸς μύλην κινουμένη ) are almost one and the same. On the other hand, the Targ. ( coeat cum alio ), lxx (euphemistically ἀρέσαι ἑτέρῳ , not, as the Syr. Hexapl. shows, ἀλέσαι ), and Jer. ( scortum sit alterius ), and in like manner Saad., Gecat., understand תּטחן directly of carnal surrender; and, in fact, according to the traditional opinion, b. Sota 10 a : אין טחינה אלא לשׁון עבירה , i.e., “ טחן everywhere in Scripture is intended of (carnal) trespass.” With reference to Judges 16:21 and Lamentations 5:13 (where טחון , like Arab. ṭaḥûn , signifies the upper mill-stone, or in gen. the mill), this is certainly incorrect; the parallel, as well as Deuteronomy 28:30, favours this rendering of the word in the obscene sense of μύλλειν , molere , in this passage, which also is seen under the Arab. synon. of grinding, Arab. dahaka ( trudere ); according to which it would have to be interpreted: let her grind to another, i.e., serve him as it were as a nether mill-stone. The verb טחן , used elsewhere (in Talmud.) of the man, would here be transferred to the woman, like as it is used of the mill itself as that which grinds. This rendering is therefore not refuted by its being תּטחן and not תּטּחן . Moreover, the word thus understood is not unworthy of the poet, since he designedly makes Job seize the strongest expressions. Among moderns, תטחן is thus tropically explained by Ew., Umbr., Hahn, and a few others, but most expositors prefer the proper sense, in connection with which molat certainly, especially with respect to Job 31:9 , is also equivalent to fiat pellex . It is hard to decide; nevertheless the preponderance of reasons seems to us to be on the side of the traditional tropical rendering, by the side of which Job 31:10 is not attached in progressive, but in synonymous parallelism: et super ea incurvent se alii , כּרע of the man, as in the phrase Arab. kr‛t 'l - mrât 'lâ 'l - rjl ( curvat se mulier ad virum ) of the acquiescence of the woman; אחרין is a poetical Aramaism, Ew. §177, a . The sin of adultery, in case he had committed it, ought to be punished by another taking possession of his own wife, for that ( הוּא a neutral masc., Keri היא in accordance with the fem . of the following predicate, comp. Leviticus 18:17) is an infamous act, and that ( היא referring back to זמּה , Keri הוּא in accordance with the masc . of the following predicate) is a crime for the judges. On this wavering between הוא and היא vid., Gesenius, Handwörterbuch , 1863, s. v. הוּא , S. 225. זמּה is the usual Thora-word for the shameless subtle encroachments of sensual desires (vid., Saalschütz, Mosaisches Recht, S. 791f.), and פּלילים עון (not עון ), according to the usual view equivalent to crimen et crimen quidem judicum (however, on the form of connection intentionally avoided here, where the genitival relation might easily give an erroneous sense, vid., Ges. §116, rem.), signifies a crime which falls within the province of the penal code, for which in Job 31:28 it is less harshly עון פּלילי : a judicial, i.e., criminal offence. פּלילים is, moreover, not the plur . of פּלילי (Kimchi), but of פּליל , an arbitrator (root פל , findere, dirimere ).

The confirmatory clause, Job 31:12, is co-ordinate with the preceding: for it (this criminal, adulterous enterprise) is a fire, a fire consuming him who allows the sparks of sinful desire to rise up within him (Proverbs 6:27.; Sir. 9:8), which devours even to the bottom of the abyss, not resting before it has dragged him whom it has seized down with it into the deepest depth of ruin, and as it were melted him away, and which ought to root out all my produce (all the fruit of my labour).

(Note: It is something characteristically Semitic to express the notion of destruction by the figure of burning up with fire [ vid. supra, p. 449, note], and it is so much used in the present day as a natural inalienable form of thought, that in curses and imprecations everything, without distinction of the object, is to be burned; e.g., juhrik , may (God) burn up, or juhrak , ought to burn, bilâduh , his native country, bedenuh , his body, ‛ênuh , his eye, shawâribuh , his moustache (i.e., his honour), nefesuh , his breath, ‛omruh , his life, etc. - Wetzst.)

The function of ב is questionable. Ew. (§217, f ) explains it as local: in my whole revenue, i.e., throughout my whole domain. But it can also be Beth objecti, whether it be that the obj. is conceived as the means of the action (vid., on Job 16:4-5, Job 16:10; Job 20:20), or that, “corresponding to the Greek genitive, it does not express an entire full coincidence, but an action about and upon the object” (Ew. §217, S. 557). We take it as Beth obj. in the latter sense, after the analogy of the so-called pleonastic Arab. b (e.g., qaraa bi - suwari , he has practised the act of reading upon the Suras of the Koran); and which ought to undertake the act of outrooting upon my whole produce.

(Note: On this pleonastic Beth obj. ( el - Bâ el - mezı̂de ) vid., Samachschari's Mufassal, ed. Broch, pp. 125, 132 (according to which it serves “to give intensity and speciality”), and Beidhâwi's observation on Sur . ii. 191. The most usual example for it is alqa bi - jedeihi ila et - tahlike , he has plunged his hands, i.e., himself, into ruin. The Bâ el - megâ z (the metaphorical Beth obj. ) is similar; it is used where the verb has not its most natural signification but a metaphorical one, e.g., ashada bidhikrihi , he has strengthened his memory: comp. De Sacy, Chrestomathie Arabe, i. 397.)

Verses 13-15

13 If I despised the cause of my servant and my maid,

When they contended with me:

14 What should I do, if God should rise up,

And if He should make search, what should I answer Him?

15 Hath not He who formed me in the womb formed him also,

And hath not One fashioned us in the belly?

It might happen, as Job 31:13 assumes, that his servant or his maid ( אמה , Arab. amatun , denotes a maid who is not necessarily a slave, ‛abde , as Job 19:15, whereas שׁפחה does not occur in the book) contended with him, and in fact so that they on their part began the dispute (for, as the Talmud correctly points out, it is not בּריבי עמּם , but בּריבם עמּדי ), but he did not then treat them as a despot; they were not accounted as res but personae by him, he allowed them to maintain their personal right in opposition to him. Christopher Scultetus observes here: Gentiles quidem non concedebant jus servo contra dominum, cui etiam vitae necisque potestas in ipsum erat; sed Iob amore justitiae libere se demisit, ut vel per alios judices aut arbitros litem talem curaret decidi vel sibi ipsi sit moderatus, ut juste pronuntiaret . If he were one who despised ( אמאס not מאסתּי ) his servants' cause: what should he do if God arose and entered into judgment; and if He should appoint an examination (thus Hahn correctly, for the conclusion shows that פקד is here a synon. of בחן Psalms 17:3, and חקר Psalms 44:22, Arab. fqd , V, VIII, accurate inspicere ), what should he answer?

Job 31:15

The same manner of birth, by the same divine creative power and the same human agency, makes both master and servant substantially brethren with equal claims: Has not He who brought me forth in my mother's womb (also) brought forth him (this my servant or my maid), and has not One fashioned us in our mother's belly? אחד , unus , viz., God, is the subj., as Malachi 2:10, אחד ( אב ) אל (for the thought comp. Ephesians 6:9), as it is also translated by the Targ., Jer., Saad., and Gecat.; whereas the lxx ( ἐν τῇ αὐτῇ κοιλίᾳ ), Syr., Symm. (as it appears from his translation ἐν ὁμοίῳ τρόπῳ ), construe אחד as the adj. to בּרחם , which is also the idea of the accentuation ( Rebia mugrasch, Mercha, Silluk ). On the other hand, it has been observed (also Norzi) that it ought to be האסחד according to this meaning; but it was not absolutely necessary, vid., Ges. §111, 2, b . אחד also would not be unsuitable in this combination; it would, as e.g., in אחד חלום , not affirm identity of number, but of character. But אחד is far more significant, and as the final word of the strophe more expressive, when referred to God. The form ויכוּננּוּ is to be judged of just like ותּמוּגנוּ , Isaiah 54:6; either they are forms of an exceptionally transitive (as שׁוּב , Psalms 85:5, and in שׁוב שׁבות ) use of the Kal of these verbs (vid., e.g., Parchon and Kimchi), or they are syncopated forms of the Pilel for ויכנננּוּ , ותּמגגנוּ , syncopated on account of the same letters coming together, especially in ויכנננו (Ew. §81, a , and most others); but this coincidence is sought elsewhere (e.g., Psalms 50:23; Proverbs 1:28), and not avoided in this manner (e.g., Psalms 119:73). Beside this syncope ויכוּננּוּ might also be expected, while according to express testimony the first Nun is raphatum: we therefore prefer to derive these forms from Kal , without regarding them, with Olsh., as errors in writing. The suff . is rightly taken by lxx, Targ., Abulwalid, and almost all expositors,

(Note: Also in the Jerusalem Talmud, where R. Johanan, eating nothing which he did not also share with his slave, refers to these words of Job. Comp. also the story from the Midrash in Guiseppe Levi's Parabeln Legenden und Ged. aus Thalmud und Midrasch, S. 141 (Germ. transl. 1863): The wife of R. Jose began a dispute with her maid. Her husband came up and asked the cause, and when he saw that his wife was in the wrong, told her so in the presence of the maid. The wife said in a rage: Thou sayest I am wrong in the presence of my maid? The Rabbi answered: I do as Job did.)

not as singular ( ennu = êhu ), but as plural ( ennu = ênu ); The Babylonian school pointed ויכוּננוּ , like ממנו where it signifies a nobis , ממּנוּ ( Psalter ii. 459, and further information in Pinsker's works, Zur Geschichte des Karaismus, and Ueber das sogen. assyrische Punktationssystem ). Therefore: One, i.e., one and the same God, has fashioned us in the womb without our co-operation, in an equally animal way, which smites down all pride, in like absolute conditionedness.

Verses 16-18

16 If I held back the poor from what they desired,

And caused the eyes of the widow to languish,

17 And ate my morsel alone

Without letting the fatherless eat thereof: -

18 No indeed, from my youth he grew up to me as to a father,

And from my mother's womb I guided her -

The whole strophe is the hypothetical antecedent of the imprecative conclusion, Job 31:22, which closes the following strophe. Since מנע דּבר ממּנוּ , cohibere aliquid ab aliquo (Job 22:7), is said as much in accordance with the usage of the language as מנעו מדּבר , cohibere aliquem ab aliquo (Numbers 24:11; Ecclesiastes 2:10), in the sense of denegare alicui aliquid , there is no reason for taking מחפץ דּלּים together as a genitival clause ( a voto tenuium ), as the accentuation requires it. On חפץ , vid., on Job 21:21; it signifies solicitude (what is ardently desired) and business, here the former: what is ever the interest and want of the poor (the reduced or those without means). From such like things he does not keep the poor back, i.e., does not refuse them; and the eyes of the widow he did not cause or allow to languish ( כּלּה , to bring to an end, i.e., cause to languish, of the eyes, as Leviticus 26:16; 1 Samuel 2:33); he let not their longing for assistance be consumed of itself, let not the fountain of their tears become dry without effect. If he had done the opposite, if he had eaten his bread ( פּת = פּת לחם ) alone, and not allowed the orphan to eat of it with him - but no, he had not acted thus; on the contrary ( כּי as Psalms 130:4 and frequently), he (the parentless one) grew up to him ( גּדלני = גּדל לּי , Ges. §121, 4, according to Ew. §315, b , “by the interweaving of the dialects of the people into the ancient form of the declining language;” perhaps it is more correct to say it is by virtue of a poetic, forced, and rare brevity of expression) as to a father (= לאב כּמו ), and from his mother's womb he guided her, the helpless and defenceless widow, like a faithful child leading its sick or aged mother. The hyperbolical expression מבּטן אמּי dates this sympathizing and active charity back to the very beginning of Job's life. He means to say that it is in-born to him, and he has exercised it ever since he was first able to do so. The brevity of the form גּדלני , brief to incorrectness, might be removed by the pointing גּדּלני (Olsh.): from my youth up he (the fatherless one) honoured me as a father; and גּדּלני (instead of כּבּדני would be explained by the consideration, that a veneration is meant that attributed a dignity which exceed his age to the נער who was not yet old enough to be a father. But גּדּל signifies “to cause to grow” in such a connection elsewhere (parall. רומם , to raise), wherefore lxx translates ἐξέτρεφον ( גּדּלתּי ); and גּדלני has similar examples of the construction of intransitives with the acc . instead of the dat . (especially Zechariah 7:5) in its favour: they became me great, i.e., became great in respect of me. Other ways of getting over the difficulty are hardly worth mentioning: the Syriac version reads כּאב (pain) and אנחות ; Raschi makes Job 31:18 , the idea of benevolence, the subj., and Job 31:18 (as מדּה , attribute) the obj. The suff . of אנחנּה Schlottm. refers to the female orphan; but Job refers again to the orphan in the following strophe, and the reference to the widow, more natural here on account of the gender, has nothing against it. The choice of the verb (comp. Job 38:32) also corresponds to such a reference, since the Hiph . has an intensified Kal -signification here.

(Note: זכר and הזכיר , to remember; זרע and הזריע , to sow, to cover with seed; חרשׁ and החרישׁ , both in the signification silere and fabricari ; לעג and הלעיג , to mock, Job 21:3; משׁל and המשׁיל , dominari , Job 25:2; נטה and הטה , to extend, to bow; קנה ;w and הקנה (to obtain by purchase); קצר and הקציר , to reap, Job 24:6, are all similar. In Arab. the Kal nahaituhu signifies I put him aside by going on one side ( nahw or nâhije ), the Hiph. anhaituhu , I put him aside by bringing him to the side (comp. ינחם , Job 12:23).)

From earliest youth, so far back as he can remember, he was wont to behave like a father to the orphan, and like a child to the widow.

Verses 19-23

19 If I saw one perishing without clothing,

And that the needy had no covering;

20 If his loins blessed me not,

And he did not warm himself from the hide of my lambs;

21 If I have lifted up my hand over the orphan,

Because I saw my help in the gate:

22 Let my shoulder fall out of its shoulder-blade,

And mine arm be broken from its bone;

23 For terror would come upon me, the destruction of God,

And before His majesty I should not be able to stand.

On אובד comp. on Job 4:11; Job 29:13; he who is come down from his right place and is perishing (root בד , to separate, still perfectly visible through the Arab. bâda , ba‛ida , to perish), or also he who is already perished, periens and perditus . The clause, Job 31:19 , forms the second obj. to אם אראה , which otherwise signifies si video , but here, in accordance with the connection, signifies si videbam . The blessing of the thankful (Job 29:13) is transferred from the person to the limbs in Job 31:20 , which need and are benefited by the warmth imparted. אם־לא here is not an expression of an affirmative asseveration, but a negative turn to the continuation of the hypothetical antecedents. The shaking, הניף , of the hand, Job 31:21, is intended, like Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 19:16 (comp. the Pilel , Isaiah 10:32), Zechariah 2:13, as a preparation for a crushing stroke. Job refrained himself from such designs upon the defenceless orphan, even when he saw his help in the gate, i.e., before the tribunal (Job 29:7), i.e., even when he had a certain prospect or powerful assistance there. If he has acted otherwise, his כּתף , i.e., his upper arm together with the shoulder, must fall out from its שׁכם , i.e., the back which bears it together with the shoulder-blades, and his אזרע , upper and lower arm, which is considered here according to its outward flesh, must be broken out of its קנה , tube, i.e., the reed-like hollow bone which gives support to it, i.e., be broken asunder from its basis (Syr. a radice sua ), this sinning arm, which did not compassionate the naked, and mercilessly threatened the defenceless and helpless. The ת raphatum which follows in both cases, and the express testimony of the Masora, show that משּׁכמה and מקּנה have no Mappik . The He quiescens , however, is in both instances softened from the He mappic . of the suff., Ew. §21,f. פּחד in Job 31:23 is taken by most expositors as predicate: for terror is (was) to me evil as God, the righteous judge, decrees it. But אלי is not favourable to this. It establishes the particular thing which he imprecates upon himself, and that consequently which, according to his own conviction and perception, ought justly to overtake him out of the general mass, viz., that terror ought to come upon him, a divine decreed weight of affliction. איד אל is a permutative of פחד = פחד אלהים , and אלי with Dechî equivalent to אלי ( יבא ) יהיה , comp. Jeremiah 2:19 (where it is to be interpreted: and that thou lettest no fear before me come over thee). Thus also Job 31:23 is suitably connected with the preceding: and I should not overcome His majesty, i.e., I should succumb to it. The מן corresponds to the prae in praevalerem ; שׂאת (lxx falsely, λῆμμα , judgment, decision = משׂא , Jer. pondus ) is not intended otherwise than Job 13:11 (parall. פחד as here).

Verses 24-28

24 If I made gold my confidence,

And said to the fine gold: O my trust;

25 If I rejoiced that my wealth was great,

And that my hand had gained much; -

26 If I saw the sunlight when it shone,

And the moon walking in splendour,

27 And my heart was secretly enticed,

And I threw them a kiss by my hand:

28 This also would be a punishable crime,

For I should have played the hypocrite to God above.

Not only from covetous extortion of another's goods was he conscious of being clear, but also from an excessive delight in earthly possessions. He has not made gold his כּסל , confidence (vid., on כּסלתך , Job 4:6); he has not said to כּתם , fine gold (pure, Job 28:19, of Ophir, Job 28:16), מבטחי (with Dag. forte implicitum as Job 8:14; Job 18:14): object (ground) of my trust! He has not rejoiced that his wealth is great ( רב , adj.), and that his hand has attained כּבּיר , something great (neutral masc . Ew. §172, b ). His joy was the fear of God, which ennobles man, not earthly things, which are not worthy to be accounted as man's highest good. He indeed avoided πλεονεξία as εἰλωλολατρεία (Colossians 3:5), how much more the heathenish deification of the stars! אור is here, as Job 37:21 and φάος in Homer, the sun as the great light of the earth. ירח is the moon as a wanderer (from רח = ארח ), i.e., night-wanderer ( noctivaga ), as the Arab. târik in a like sense is the name of the morning-star. The two words יקר הלד describe with exceeding beauty the solemn majestic wandering of the moon; יקר is acc . of closer definition, like תמים , Psalms 15:2, and this “brilliantly rolling on” is the acc . of the predicate to אראה , corresponding to the כּי יחל , “that (or how) it shoots forth rays” ( Hiph . of הלל , distinct from יחל Isaiah 13:20), or even: that it shot forth rays ( fut . in signif. of an imperf. as Genesis 48:17).

Job 31:27 proceeds with futt. consec. in order to express the effect which this imposing spectacle of the luminaries of the day and of the night might have produced on him, but has not. The Kal ויּפתּ is to be understood as in Deuteronomy 11:16 (comp. ib . iv. 19, נדּח ): it was enticed, gave way to the seducing influence. Kissing is called נשׁק as being a joining of lip to lip. Accordingly the kiss by hand can be described by נשׁקה יד לפה ; the kiss which the mouth gives the hand is to a certain extent also a kiss which the hand gives the mouth, since the hand joins itself to the mouth. Thus to kiss the hand in the direction of the object of veneration, or also to turn to it the kissed hand and at the same time the kiss which fastens on it (as compensation for the direct kiss, 1 Kings 19:18; Hosea 13:2), is the proper gesture of the προσκύνησις and adoratio mentioned; comp. Pliny, h. n. xxviii. 2, 5; Inter adorandum dexteram ad osculum referimus et totum corpus circumagimus . Tacitus, Hist . iii. 24, says that in Syria they value the rising sun; and that this was done by kissing the hand ( τῆν χεῖρα κύσαντες ) in Western Asia as in Greece, is to be inferred from Lucians Περὶ ὀρχήσεως , c. xvii.

(Note: Vid., Freund's Lat. Wörterbuch s. v. adorare, and K. Fr. Hermann's Gottesdienstliche Alterth. der Griechen, c. xxi. 16, but especially Excursus 123 in Dougtaeus' Analecta .)

In the passage before us Ew. finds an indication of the spread of the Zoroaster doctrine in the beginning of the seventh century b.c., at which period he is of opinion the book of Job was composed, but without any ground. The ancient Persian worship has no knowledge of the act of adoration by throwing a kiss; and the Avesta recognises in the sun and moon exalted genii, but created by Ahuramazda, and consequently not such as are to be worshipped as gods. On the other hand, star-worship is everywhere the oldest and also comparatively the purest form of heathenism. That the ancient Arabs, especially the Himjarites, adored the sun, שׁמשׁ , and the moon, שׂין ( סין , whence סיני , the mountain dedicated to the moon), as divine, we know from the ancient testimonies,

(Note: Vid., the collection in Lud. Krehl's Religion der vorislamischen Araber, 1863.)

and many inscriptions

(Note: Vid., Osiander in the Deutsche Morgenl. Zeitschr. xvii. (1863) 795.)

which confirm and supplement them; and the general result of Chwolsohn's

(Note: In his great work, Ueber die Ssabier und den Ssabismus, 2 Bdd. Petersburg, 1856.)

researches is unimpeachable, that the so-called Sabians (Arab. ṣâbı̂wn with or without Hamza of the Jê ), of whom a section bore the name of worshippers of the sun, shemsı̂je , were the remnant of the ancient heathenism of Western Asia, which lasted into the middle ages. This heathenism, which consisted, according to its basis, in the worship of the stars, was also spread over Syria, and its name, usually combined with צבא השּׁמים (Deuteronomy 4:19), perhaps is not wholly devoid of connection with the name of a district of Syria, ארם צובה ; certainly our poet found it already there, where he heard the tradition about Job, and in his hero presents to us a true adherent of the patriarchal religion, who had kept himself free from the influence of the worship of the stars, which was even in his time forcing its way among the tribes.

It is questionable whether Job 31:28 is to be regarded as a conclusion, with Umbr. and others, or as a parenthesis, with Ew., Hahn, Schlottm., and others. We take it as a conclusion, against which there is no objection according to the syntax, although strictly it is only a confirmation (vid., Job 31:11, Job 31:23) of an implied imprecatory conclusion: therefore it is (would be) also a judicial misdeed, i.e., one to be severely punished, for I should have played the hypocrite to God above ( לאל ממּעל , recalling the universal Arabic expression allah ta‛âla , God, the Exalted One) by making gold and silver, the sun and moon my idols. By פּלילי both the sins belonging to the judgment-seat of God, as in ἔνοχος τῷ συνεδρίῳ , Matthew 5:22, are not referred to a human tribunal, but only described κατ ̓ ἄνθρωπον as punishable transgressions of the highest grade. כּחשׁ ל signifies to play the hypocrite to any one, whereas to disown any one is expressed by כחשׁ בּ . His worship of God would have been hypocrisy, if he had disowned in secret the God whom he acknowledged openly and outwardly.

Now follow strophes to which the conclusion is wanting. The single imprecatory conclusion which yet follows (Job 31:40), is not so worded that it might avail for all the preceding hypothetical antecedents. There are therefore in these strophes no conclusions that correspond to the other clauses. The inward emotion of the confessor, which constantly increases in fervour the more he feels himself superior to his accusers in the exemplariness of his life hitherto, struggles against this rounding off of the periods. A “yea then - !” is easily supplied in thought to these strophes which per aposiopesin are devoid of conclusions.

Verse 29-30

29 If I rejoiced over the destruction of him who hated me,

And became excited when evil came upon him -

30 Yet I did not allow my palate to sin

By calling down a curse upon his life.

The aposiopesis is here manifest, for Job 31:29 is evidently equal to a solemn denial, to which Job 31:30 is then attached as a simple negative. He did not rejoice at the destruction ( פיד , Arab. fêd ,

(Note: Gesenius derives the noun פיד from the verb פיד , but the Arabic, which is the test here, has not only the verb fâda as med. u and as med. i in the signification to die, but also in connection with el̇feid ( fêd ) the substantival form el - fı̂d (= el - môt ), which (= fiwd , comp. p. 26, note ) is referable to fâda , med. u. Thus Neshwân , who in his Lexicon (vol. ii. fol. 119) even only knows fâda , med. u, in the signif. to die (comp. infra on Job 39:18, note ).)

as Job 12:5; Job 30:24) of his enemy who was full of hatred towards him ( משׂנאי , elsewhere also שׂנאי ), and was not excited with delight ( התערר , to excite one's self, a description of emotion, whether it be pleasure, or as Job 17:8, displeasure, as a not merely passive but moral incident) if calamity came upon him, and he did not allow his palate ( חך as the instrument of speech, like Job 6:30) to sin by asking God that he might die as a curse. Love towards an enemy is enjoined by the Thora, Exodus 23:4, but it is more or less with a national limitation, Leviticus 19:18, because the Thora is the law of a people shut out from the rest of the world, and in a state of war against it (according to which Matthew 5:43 is to be understood); the books of the Chokma, however (comp. Proverbs 24:17; Proverbs 25:21), remove every limit from the love of enemies, and recognise no difference, but enjoin love towards man as man. With Job 31:30 this strophe closes. Among modern expositors, only Arnh. takes in Job 31:31 as belonging to it: “Would not the people of my tent then have said: Would that we had of his flesh?! we have not had enough of it,” i.e., we would eat him up both skin and hair. Of course it does not mean after the manner of cannibals, but figuratively, as Job 19:22; but in a figurative sense “to eat any one's flesh” in Semitic is equivalent to lacerare , vellicare , obtrectare (vid., on Job 19:22, and comp. also Sur . xlix. 12 of the Koran, and Schultens' Erpenius , pp. 592f.), which is not suitable here, as in general this drawing of Job 31:31 to Job 31:29 is in every respect, and especially that of the syntax, inadmissible. It is the duty of beneficence, which Job acknowledges having practised, in Job 31:31.

Verse 31-32

31 If the people of my tent were not obliged to say:

Where would there be one who has not been satisfied with his flesh?! -

32 The stranger did not lodge out of doors,

I opened my door towards the street.

Instead of אמרוּ , it might also be יאמרוּ ( dicebant ); the perf., however, better denotes not merely what happens in a general way, but what must come to pass. The “people of the tent” are all who belong to it, like the Arab. ahl (tent, metonym. dwellers in the tent), here pre-eminently the servants, but without the expression in itself excluding wife, children, and relations. The optative מי־יתּן , so often spoken of already, is here, as in Job 31:35; Job 14:4; Job 29:2, followed by the acc. objecti , for נשׂבּע is part . with the long accented a ( quis exhibebit or exhibeat non saturatum ), and מבּשׂרו is not meant of the flesh of the person (as even the lxx in bad taste renders: that his maids would have willingly eaten him, their kind master, up from love to him), but of the flesh of the cattle of the host. Our translation follows the accentuation, which, however, perhaps proceeds from an interpretation like that of Arnheim given above. His constant and ready hospitality is connected with the mention of his abundant care and provision for his own household. It is unnecessary to take ארח , with the ancient versions, for ארח , or so to read it; לארח signifies towards the street, where travellers are to be expected, comp. Pirke aboth i. 5: ”May thy house be open into the broad place ( לרוחה ), and may the poor be thy guests.” The Arabs pride themselves on the exercise of hospitality. “To open a guest-chamber” is the same as to establish one's own household in Arabic. Stories of judgments by which the want of hospitality has been visited, form an important element of the popular traditions of the Arabs.

(Note: In the spring of 1860 - relates Wetzstein - as I came out of the forest of Gôlan , I saw the water of Râm lying before us, that beautiful round crater in which a brook that runs both summer and winter forms a clear but fishless lake, the outflow of which underground is recognised as the fountain of the Jordan, which breaks forth below in the valley out of the crater Tell el-Kadi; and I remarked to my companion, the physician Regeb , the unusual form of the crater, when my Beduins, full of astonishment, turned upon me with the question, “What have you Franks heard of the origin of this lake?” On being asked what they knew about it, they related how that many centuries ago a flourishing village once stood here, the fields of which were the plain lying between the water and the village of Megdel Shems. One evening a poor traveller came while the men were sitting together in the open place in the middle of the village, and begged for a supper and a resting-place for the night, which they refused him. When he assured them that he had eaten nothing since the day before, an old woman amidst general laughter reached out a gelle (a cake of dried cow-dung, which is used for fuel), and drove him out of the village. Thereupon the man went to the village of Nimra (still standing, south of the lake), where he related his misfortune, and was taken in by them. The next morning, when the inhabitants of Nimra woke, they found a lake where the neighbouring village had stood.)

Verse 33-34

33 If I have hidden my wickedness like Adam,

Concealing my guilt in my bosom,

34 Because I feared the great multitude

And the contempt of families affrighted me,

So that I acted secretly, went not out of the door. -

Most expositors translate כּאדם : after the manner of men; but appropriate as this meaning of the expression is in Psalms 82:7, in accordance with the antithesis and the parallelism (which see), it would be as tame here, and altogether expressionless in the parallel passage Hosea 6:7 -

(Note: Pusey also ( The Minor Prophets with Commentary, P. i. 1861) improves “like men” by translating “like Adam.”)

the passage which comes mainly under consideration here - since the force of the prophetic utterance: “they have כאדם transgressed the covenant,” consists in this, “that Israel is accused of a transgression which is only to be compared to that of the first man created: here, as there, a like transgression of the expressed will of God” (von Hofmann, Schriftbeweis , i. 412f.); as also, according to Romans 5:14, Israel's transgression is that fact in the historical development of redemption which stands by the side of Adam's transgression. And the mention of Adam in Hosea cannot surprise one, since he also shows himself in other respects to be familiar with the contents of Genesis, and to refer back to it (vid., Genesis , S. 11-13). Still much less surprising is such a reference to primeval history in a book that belongs to the literature of the Chokma (vid., Introduction, §2). The descent of the human race from a single pair, and the fall of those first created, are, moreover, elements in all the ancient traditions; and it is questionable whether the designation of men by beni Adama (children of Adam), among the Moslems, first sprang from the contact of Judaism and Christianity, or whether it was not rather an old Arabic expression. Therefore we translate with Targ., Schult., Boullier, Rosenm., Hitz., Kurtz, and von Hofm.: if I have hidden (disowned) like Adam my transgression. The point of comparison is only the sinner's dread of the light, which became prominent as the prototype for every succeeding age in Adam's hiding himself. The לטמון which follows is meant not so much as indicating the aim, as gerundive ( abscondendo ); on this use of the inf. constr. with ל , vid., Ew. §280, d . חב , bosom, is ἁπ. γεγρ. ; Ges. connects it with the Arab. habba , to love; it is, however, to be derived from the חב , occulere , whence chabı̂be , that which is deep within, a deep valley (comp. חבא , chabaa , with their derivatives); in Aramaic it is the common word for the Hebr. חיק .

Job 31:34

With כּי follows the motive which Job might have had for hiding himself with his sin: he has been neither an open sinner, nor from fear of men and a feeling of honour a secret sinner. He cherished within him no secret accursed thing, and had no need for playing the hypocrite, because he dreaded ( ערץ only here with the acc . of the obj. feared) the great multitude of the people ( רבּה not adv. but adj.; המון with Mercha-Zinnorith, consequently fem., as עם sometimes, Ew. §174, b ), and consequently the moral judgment of the people; and because he feared the stigma of the families, and therefore the loss of honour in the higher circles of society, so that as a consequence he should have kept himself quiet and retired, without going out of the door. One might think of that abhorrence of voluptuousness, with which, in the consciousness of its condemnatory nature, a man shuts himself up in deep darkness; but according to Job 31:33 it is in general deeds that are intended, which Job would have ground for studiously concealing, because if they had become known he would have appeared a person to be scouted and despised: he could frankly and freely meet any person's gaze, and had no occasion to fear the judgment of men, because he feared sin. He did nothing which he should have caused for carefully keeping from the light of publicity. And yet his affliction is to be accounted as the punishment of hidden sin! as proof that he has committed punishable sin, which, however, he will not confess!

Verses 35-37

35 O that I had one who would hear me!

Behold my signature-the Almighty will answer me -

And the writing which my opponent hath written!

36 Truly I will carry it upon my shoulder,

I will wind it about me as a crown.

37 The number of my steps I will recount to Him,

As a prince will I draw near to Him.

The wish that he might find a ready willing hearer is put forth in a general way, but, as is clear in itself, and as it becomes manifest from what follows, refers to Him who, because it treats of a contradiction between the outward appearance and the true but veiled fact, as searcher of the heart, is the only competent judge. It may not be translated: et libellum (the indictment, or even: the reply to Job's self-defence) scribat meus adversarius (Dachselt, Rosenm., Welte) - the accentuation seems to proceed from this rendering, but it ought to be וכתב ספר ; if כּתב governed by יענני were intended to be equivalent to יכתּב , and referred to God, the longing would be, as it runs, an unworthy and foolish one - nor: (O that I had one who would hear me ... ) and had the indictment, which my adversary has written (Ew., Hirz., Schlottm.) - for וספר is too much separated from מי יתּן by what intervenes - in addition to which comes the consideration that the wish, as it is expressed, cannot be referred to God, but only to the human opponent, whose accusations Job has no occasion to wish to hear, since he has already heard amply sufficient even in detail. Therefore הן (instead of הן with a conjunctive accent, as otherwise with Makkeph ) will point not merely to תּוי , but also to liber quem scripsit adversarius meus as now lying before them, and the parenthetical שׁדּי יענני will express a desire for the divine decision in the cause now formally prepared for trial, ripe for discussion. By תּוי , my sign, i.e., my signature (comp. Ezekiel 9:4, and Arab. tiwa , a branded sign in the form of a cross), Job intends the last word to his defence which he has just spoken, Job 31:1; it is related to all his former confessions as a confirmatory mark set below them; it is his ultimatum, as it were, the letter and seal to all that he has hitherto said about his innocence in opposition to the friends and God. Moreover, he also has the indictment of the triumvirate which has come forward as his opponent in his hands. Their so frequently repeated verbal accusations are fixed as if written; both - their accusation and his defence - lie before him, as it were, in the documentary form of legal writings. Thus, then, he wishes an observant impartial hearer for this his defence; or more exactly: he wishes that the Almighty may answer, i.e., decide. Hahn interprets just as much according to the syntax, but understanding by תוי the witness which Job carries in his breast, and by ספר וגו the testimony to his innocence written by God in his own consciousness; which is inadmissible, because, as we have often remarked already, אישׁ ריבי (comp. Job 16:21) cannot be God himself.

In Job 31:36 Job now says how he will appear before Him with this indictment of his opponent, if God will only condescend to speak the decisive word. He will wear it upon his shoulder as a mark of his dignity (comp. Isaiah 22:22; Isaiah 9:5), and wind it about him as a magnificent crown of diadems intertwined and heaped up one above another (Revelation 19:12, comp. Köhler on Zechariah 6:11) - confident of his victory at the outset; for he will give Him, the heart-searcher, an account of all his steps, and in the exalted consciousness of his innocence, he will approach Him as a prince ( קרב intensive of Kal ). How totally different from Adam, who was obliged to be drawn out of his hiding-place, and tremblingly, because conscious of guilt, underwent the examination of the omniscient God! Job is not conscious of cowardly and slyly hidden sins; no secret accursed thing is cherished in the inmost recesses of his heart and home.

Verses 38-40

38 If my field cry out against me,

And all together its furrows weep;

39 If I have devoured its strength without payment,

And caused the soul of its possessor to expire:

40 May thistles spring up instead of wheat,

And darnel instead of barley.

The field which he tills has no reason to cry out on account of violent treatment, nor its furrows to weep over wrong done to them by their lord.

(Note: In a similar figure a Rabbinic proverb says (with reference to Malachi 2:13), that the altar of God weeps over him who separates himself from the wife of his youth.)

אדמה , according to its radical signification, is the covering of earth which fits close upon the body of the earth as its skin, and is drawn flat over it, and therefore especially the arable land; תּלם (Arab. telem , not however directly referable to an Arab. root, but as also other words used in agriculture, probably borrowed from the North Semitic, first of all the Aramaic or Nabataic), according to the explanation of the Turkish Kamus, the “ditch-like crack which the iron of the ploughman tears in the field,” not the ridge thrown up between every two furrows (vid., on Psalms 65:11). He has not unlawfully used (which would be the reason of the crying and weeping) the usufruct of the field ( כּח meton., as Genesis 4:12, of the produce, proportioned to its capability of production) without having paid its value, by causing the life to expire from the rightful owner, whether slowly or all at once (Jeremiah 15:9). The wish in Job 31:40 is still stronger than in Job 31:8, Job 31:12 : there the loss and rooting out of the produce of the field is desired, here the change of the nature of the land itself; the curse shall and must come upon it, if its present possessor has been guilty of the sin of unmerciful covetousness, which Eliphaz lays to his charge in Job 22:6-9.

According to the view of the Capuchin Bolducius (1637), this last strophe, Job 31:38, stood originally after Job 31:8, according to Kennicott and Eichhorn after Job 31:25, according to Stuhlmann after Job 31:34. The modern expositors retain it in its present position. Hirzel maintains the counter arguments: (1) that none of the texts preserved to us favour the change of position; (2) that it lay in the plan of the poet not to allow the speeches of Job to be rounded off, as would be the case by Job 31:35 being the concluding strophe, but to break off suddenly without a rhetorical conclusion. If now we imagine the speeches of Elihu as removed, God interrupts Job, and he must cease without having come to an end with what he had to say. But these counter arguments are an insufficient defence: for (1) there is a number of admitted misplacements in the Old Testament which exceed the Masora (e.g., 1 Samuel 13:1; Jeremiah 27:1), and also the lxx (e.g., 1 Samuel 17:12, באנשׁים , lxx ἐν ἀνδράσιν , instead of בשׁנים ); (2) Job's speech would gain a rhetorical conclusion by Job 31:38, if, as Hirzel in contradiction of himself supposes, Job 31:35 ought to be considered as a parenthesis, and Job 31:40 as a grammatical conclusion to the hypothetical clauses from Job 31:24 onwards. But if this strange view is abandoned, it must be supposed that with Job 31:38 Job intends to begin the assertion of his innocence anew, and is interrupted in this course of thought now begun, by Jehovah. But it is improbable that one has to imagine this in the mind of such a careful poet. Also the first word of Jehovah, “Who is this that darkeneth counsel with words without knowledge?” Job 38:2, is much more appropriate to follow directly on Job 31:37 than Job 31:40; for a new course of thought, which Jehovah's appearing interrupts, begins with Job 31:35; and the rash utterance, Job 31:37, is really a “darkening of the divine decree.” For by declaring he will give an account to God, his judge, concerning each of his steps, and approach Him like a prince, Job does not merely express the injustice of the accusations raised by his human opponents, but he casts a reflection of injustice upon the divine decree itself, inasmuch as it appears to him to be a de facto accusation of God.

Nevertheless, whether Elihu's speeches are not be put aside as not forming an original portion of the book, or not, the impression that Job 31:38 follow as stragglers, and that Job 31:35 would form a more appropriate close, and a more appropriate connection for the remonstrance that follows, whether it be Jehovah's or Elihu's, remains. For the assertion in Job 31:38 cannot in itself be considered to be a justifiable boldness; but in Job 31:35 the whole condition of Job's inner nature is once more mirrored forth: his longing after God, by which Satan's prediction is destroyed; and his overstepping the bounds of humility, on account of which his affliction, so far as it is of a tentative character, cannot end before it is also become a refining fire to him. Therefore we cannot refrain from the supposition that it is with Job 31:38 just as with Isaiah 38:21 The lxx also found these two verses in this position; they belong, however, after Isaiah 38:6, as is clear in itself, and as is evident from 2 Kings 20:7 There they are accidentally omitted, and are now added at the close of the narration as a supplement. If the change of position, which is there an oversight, is considered as too hazardous here, Job 31:35 must be put in the special and close relation to the preceding strophe indicated by us in the exposition, and Job 31:38 must be regarded as a final rounding off (not as the beginning of a fresh course of thought); for instead of the previous aposiopeses, this concluding strophe dies away, and with it the whole confession, in a particularly vigorous, imprecative conclusion.

Let us once more take a review of the contents of the three sharply-defined monologues. After Job, in Job 27:1, has closed the controversy with the friends, in the first part to this trilogy, Job 29:1, he wishes himself back in the months of the past, and describes the prosperity, the activity, for the good of his fellow-men, and the respect in which he at that time rejoiced, when God was with him. It is to be observed here, how, among all the good things of the past which he longs to have back, Job gives the pre-eminence to the fellowship and blessing of God as the highest good, the spring and fountain of every other. Five times at the beginning of Job 29:1 in diversified expressions he described the former days as a time when God was with him. Look still further from the beginning of the monologue to its close, to the likewise very expressive כאשׁר אבלים ינחם . The activity which won every heart to Job, and toward which he now looks back so longingly, consisted of works of that charity which weeps with them that weep, and rejoices not in injustice, Job 29:12-17. The righteousness of life with which Job was enamoured, and which manifested itself in him, was therefore charity arising from faith ( Liebe aus Glauben ). He knew and felt himself to be in fellowship with God; and from the fulness of this state of being apprehended of God, he practised charity. He, however, is blessed who knows himself to be in favour with God, and in return loves his fellow-men, especially the poor and needy, with the love with which he himself is loved of God. Therefore does Job wish himself back in that past, for now God has withdrawn from him; and the prosperity, the power, and the important position which were to him the means for the exercise of his charity, are taken from him.

This contrast of the past and present is described in Job 30:1, which begins with ועתה . Men who have become completely animalized, rough hordes driven into the mountains, with whom he sympathized, but without being able to help them as he had wished, on account of their degeneracy, - these mock at him by their words and acts. Now scorn and persecution for the sake of God is the greatest honour of which a man can be accounted worthy; but, apart from the consideration that this idea could not yet attain its rightful expression in connection with the present, temporal character of the Old Testament, it was not further from any one than from him who in the midst of his sufferings for God's sake regards himself, as Job does now, as rejected of God. That scorn and his painful and loathesome disease are to him a decree of divine wrath; God has, according to his idea, changed to a tyrant; He will not hear his cry for help. Accordingly, Job can say that his welfare as a cloud is passed away. He is conscious of having had pity on those who needed help, and yet he himself finds no pity now, when he implores pity like one who, seated upon a heap of rubbish, involuntarily stretches forth his hand for deliverance. In this gloomy picture of the present there is not even a single gleam of light; for the mysterious darkness of his affliction has not been in the slightest degree lighted up for Job by the treatment the friends have adopted. Also he is as little able as the friends to think of suffering and sin as unconnected, for which very reason his affliction appears to him as the effect of divine wrath; and the sting of his affliction is, that he cannot consider this wrath just. From the demand made by his faith, which here and there breaks through his conflict, that God cannot allow him to die the death of a sinner without testifying to his innocence, Job nowhere attains the conscious conclusion that the motive of his affliction is love, and not wrath.

In the third part of the speech (Job 31:1), which begins with the words, “I had made a covenant,” etc., without everywhere going into the detail of the visible conjunction of the thought, Job asserts his earnest struggle after sanctification, by delivering himself up to just divine punishment in case his conduct had been the opposite. The poet allows us to gain a clear insight into that state of his hero's heart, and also of his house, which was well-pleasing to God. Not merely outward adultery, even the adulterous look; not merely the unjust acquisition of property and goods, but even the confidence of the heart in such things; not merely the share in an open adoration of idols, but even the side-glance of the heart after them, is accounted by him as condemnatory. He has not merely guarded himself from using sinful curses against his enemies, but he has also not rejoiced when misfortune overtook them. As to his servants, even when he has had a dispute with any of them, he has not forgotten that master and servant, without distinction of birth, are creatures of one God. Towards orphans, from early youth onwards, he has practised such tender love as if he were their father; towards widows, as if he were their son. With the hungry he has shared his bread, with the naked his clothes; his subordinates had no reason to complain of niggardly sustenance; his house always stood open hospitably to the stranger; and, as the two final strophes affirm: he has not hedged in any secret sin, anxious only not to appear as a sinner openly, and has not drawn forth wailings and tears from the ground which he cultivated by avarice and oppressive injustice. Who does not here recognise a righteousness of life and endeavour, the final aim of which is purity of heart, and which, in its relation to man, flows forth in that love which is the fulfilling of the law? The righteousness of which Job (Job 29:14) says, he has put it on like a garment, and it has put him on, is essentially the same as that which the New Testament Preacher on the mount enjoins. As the work of an Israelitish poet, Job 31:1 is a most important evidence in favour of the assertion, that a life well-pleasing to God is not, even in the Old Testament, absolutely limited to the Israelitish nation, and that it enjoins a love which includes man as man within itself, and knows of no distinction.

If, now, Job can lay down the triumphant testimony of such a genuine righteousness of life concerning himself, in opposition to men's misconstruction, the contrast of his past and present becomes for the first time mysterious; but we are also standing upon the extreme boundary where the knot that has been tied must be untied. The injustice done to Job in the accusations which the friends bring against him must be laid bare by the appearance of accusation on the part of God, which his affliction casts upon him, being destroyed. With the highest confidence in a triumphant issue, even before the trial of his cause, Job longs, in the concluding words, Job 31:35, for the judicial decision of God. As a prince he will go before the Judge, and bind his indictment like a costly diadem upon his brow. For he is certain that he has not merited his affliction, that neither human nor divine accusation can do anything against him, and that he will remain conqueror - as over men, so over God Himself.

Thus has the poet, in this threefold monologue of Job, prepared the way for the catastrophe, the unravelment of the knot of the drama. But will God enter into a controversy respecting His cause with Job? This is contrary to the honour of God; and that Job desires it, is contrary to the lowliness which becomes him towards God. On this very account God will not at once acknowledge Job as His servant: Job will require first of all to be freed from the sinful presumption concerning God with which he has handled the problem of his sufferings. But he has proved himself to be a servant of God, in spite of the folly into which he has fallen; the design of Satan to tear him away from God is completely frustrated. Thus, therefore, after he has purified himself from his sin into which, both in word and thought, he has allowed himself to be drawn by the conflict of temptation, Job must be proved to be the servant of God in opposition to the friends.

But before God Himself appears in order to bring about the unravelment, there follow still four speeches, Job 32-37, of a speaker, for whose appearance the former part of the drama has in no way prepared us. It is also remarkable that they are marked off from the book of Job, as far as we have hitherto read, by the formula תּמּוּ דּברי איּוב , are ended the words of Job. Carey is of the opinion that these three words may possibly be Job's own closing dixi . According to Hahn, the poet means to imply by them that Job has now said all that he intended to say, so that it would now have been the friends' turn to speak. These views involve a perplexity like that of those who think that Psalms 72:20 must be regarded as a constituent part of the Psalm. As in that position the words, “The prayers of David the son of Jesse are finished,” are as a memorial-stone between the original collection and its later extensions, so this תמו דברי איוב , which is transferred by the lxx ( καὶ ἐπαύσατο Ἰὼβ ῥήμασιν ) to the historical introduction of the Elihu section, seems to be an important hint in reference to the origin of the book of Job in its present form. Since Job has come to an end with his speeches, and is silent at the four speeches of a new speaker, although they strongly enough provoke him to reply; according to the idea of the poet, Elihu's appearance is to be regarded as belonging to the catastrophe itself. And since a hasty glance at the speeches of Jehovah shows that they do not say anything concerning the motive and object of Job's affliction, these speeches of Elihu, in so far as they seem to be an integral part of the whole, as they cast light upon this dark point, will therefore prove in the midst of the action of the drama, what we know already from the prologue, that Job's affliction has not the wrath of God as its motive power, nor the punishment of Job as ungodly for its object. If the four speeches really furnish this, it is still not absolutely decisive in favour of their forming originally a part of the book. For it would be even possible that a second poet might have added a part, in harmony with its idea, to the work of the first. What we expect, moreover, is the mark of the same high poetic genius which we have hitherto regarded with amazement. But since we are now passing on the the exposition of these speeches, it must be with the assumption that they have a like origin with the whole, and that they also really belong to this whole with which they are embodied, in the place where they now stand. We shall only be able to form a conclusive judgment concerning the character of their form, the solution of their problem, and the manner of their composition, after the exposition is completed, by then taking a comprehensive and critical review of the impressions produced, and our observations.


Copyright Statement
The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.

Bibliography Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Job 31:4". 1854-1889.

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