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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Job 42

 

 

Introduction

Job 38:1 to Job 42:6. The Divine Speeches.—Here after the Elihu interpolation Job 32-37, we return to the original poem and the solution of Job 31, in which Job summed up his second problem, that of Divine Providence, by challenging God to show the justice of His treatment of himself. The poet has no direct answer to give to the problem Job has raised. He cannot lift the veil of the future, and show another world where wrongs are righted and the balance of this world is redressed. He can only point to the creation and say, "God is there; how wonderful is His creative power." The world is certainly an enigma; well, let it be an enigma. God is greater than we. Moreover, the poet teaches that, enigma or no enigma, piety is still possible. Though Job never comes to understand the Divine Providence, yet he sees God face to face and bows in humility before Him. We may compare with the argument of the poet, "Providence is a mystery, but so is the creation," that of Butler's Analogy, "Revelation is a mystery, but so is nature."


Verses 1-17

Job 42:1-6. Job's final speech (continuation of Job 40:3-5).

Job 42:1 is to be removed as a gloss: as are also Job 42:3 a, Job 42:4 b, which are quoted from Job 38:2 f., and probably came in from the margin. Job abases himself before the Almightiness of God as displayed in the creation, and acknowledges that he has spoken ignorantly.

Job 42:5 contains "the supreme lesson of the book" (Peake). No new theoretical knowledge concerning God and His ways has been given to Job, but in direct intuition he has seen God face to face, and that is enough. This mystical solution is the only solution the author of the poem has to give to the mysterious problem of the Divine Providence.

Job 42:7-17. The Epilogue, taken from the old Volksbuch, which must also have contained, after the debate between Job and his friends, a Divine speech. "These words" (Job 42:7) will refer to this, and not to the speech of the Almighty we have just been studying. In the original Divine speech of the Volksbuch Job was not reprimanded, as in the poem, but on the contrary Yahweh must have praised Job because he held fast to his integrity and blessed God, whether He sent good fortune or bad. Then (Job 42:7-9) Yahweh turns upon the friends, and severely reprimands them. They must offer sacrifice and Job must intercede for them. Finally in Job 42:10-17 we have Job's restoration and happy end. God "turned the fortune" of Job (Job 42:10). Before, Job's sacrifices had not availed for his children, now they avail both for his friends and himself. "Whoever, when God sends suffering, maintains his obedience without a murmur, wins for himself a position of honour and also becomes a mediator between God and his fellow-men." So Duhm sums up the lesson of the Epilogue. We may compare the position of the Servant of God in Isaiah 53, that of the Goel martyrs in the later Judaism, and that of the early Christian martyrs and confessors. In Job 42:11 we read how the friends and acquaintances of Job come to congratulate him and give him, as a congratulatory present, each a piece of money and a ring of gold (Judges 8:24). Job's possessions are all doubled (Job 42:10-12); cf. Isaiah 61:7, Zechariah 9:12. Only the children remain the same in number as before (Job 42:13). The names of Job's daughters were Jemima (dove), Keziah (cassia), Keren-happuch (horn of eye-paint). Job gave them inheritance among their brethren, which was contrary at least to the post-exilic practice, which allowed the daughters to inherit only when there was no son (Numbers 27:1-11). From Job's great age (Job 42:16) we infer that his history is assigned to primitive times. With the Epilogue as a whole, cf. James 5:11.

(See also Supplement)

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Job 42:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/job-42.html. 1919.

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