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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 32

 

 

Verse 1

Job 32:1. So these three men ceased to answer Job — Finding that he persevered in asserting that he was not guilty of any of the heinous crimes which they laid to his charge, they left off disputing with him; because he was righteous in his own eyes — So they said; but the fact was they could not answer him.


Verses 2-4

Job 32:2-4. Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu — Elihu, a new personage, here makes his appearance. Attentive, all the while, to the debate between Job and his friends, he utters not a word till both sides have done speaking; and then shows, that a stander-by may sometimes see further into a dispute than they who are eagerly engaged therein, and who, by having their passions raised to an undue height, are very apt to carry things to an extreme. The son of Barachel the Buzite — Of the posterity of Buz, Nahor’s son, Genesis 22:21; of the kindred of Ram — Or, Aram; for the names Ram and Aram are used promiscuously in the Hebrew, as the learned reader may see, by comparing 2 Kings 8:28, and 2 Chronicles 22:5. The land of Buz was doubtless somewhere in the neighbourhood of Job, as the posterity of Nahor settled in this country. His pedigree is thus particularly described, partly for his honour, as being both a wise and a good man, and principally to evidence the truth of this history. Because he (Job) justified himself rather than God — He justified himself not without reflection upon God, as dealing severely with him. He took more care to maintain his own innocence than God’s glory. The word Elihu signifies, My God is he. They had all tried in vain to convince Job, but My God is he, who both can and will convince him. Elihu was not a little provoked at the behaviour of Job for attempting so to vindicate himself as to leave an imputation of injustice on God’s providence. Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled — For charging Job with such atrocious crimes, and falling so miserably short, when they should have come to the proof, as not to be able to convict him of one of them. Now Elihu had waited — With patience and expectation, as the word חכה, chiccha, here used, means; till Job had spoken — And his three friends; because they were elder than he — Old age in those days was so highly honoured, that a young man scarcely dared to open his mouth before his elders. Elihu therefore begins with a very modest apology for his engaging in the dispute at all, drawn from his youth. He tells them he had waited a long while to hear what they would offer; but, finding they did not design to reply, he desired their leave to speak his opinion; a liberty, however, which he would not indulge himself in, if they were willing to make an answer, or could any way convict Job of what they had laid to his charge. He intimates that his intention was to attack him in a quite different manner from what they had done, for which reason he should not think himself at all obliged to answer the same arguments he had urged against them. But, at the same time, he declares it was not his intention to speak partially in his favour, since the acceptance of persons was a crime which he was sensible would be severely punished by the Almighty.


Verses 5-8

Job 32:5-8. When Elihu saw, &c., then his wrath was kindled — When he saw that none of these three offered to reply, but sat as men that knew not what to say, he was not able to hold his peace any longer. With the next words the metre begins again, the preceding part of this chapter being in prose. I am young, and ye are very old — I have considered all this time my own youth and your aged experience; wherefore I was afraid — Of being thought forward and presumptuous, and so have hitherto forbore to interpose my opinion. I said, Days — That is, the multitude of days, or men of many days or years, old men; should speak — Namely, wisely and pertinently; and the multitude of years should teach wisdom — Should instruct us that are younger in the paths of wisdom, and concerning the wise counsels and ways of God, about which the present controversy is. But — Hebrew, אכן, achen, surely; it must be confessed; there is a spirit in man — A rational soul, and therefore every man, as man, whether old or young, is able in some measure to discern between truth and falsehood, good and evil; and to judge of men’s opinions and discourses: and therefore I also may venture to deliver my opinion. And the inspiration of the Almighty giveth understanding — Instructeth this rational soul in the knowledge of divine things, when that inspiration is sincerely and earnestly asked of God, and received in humility and faith: in other words, I see that heavenly wisdom is not always the property of old age, but that God often imparts it to those that are younger. It is a divine gift, that depends not upon length of years, but is communicated through the influence of the Divine Spirit. It is this that enlightens the dark mind of man, and makes him wise unto salvation: and without this he is still involved in ignorance and error, sin and misery.


Verse 9-10

Job 32:9-10. Great men are not always wise — That is, men of eminence for age, or learning, or dignity and power, such as Job’s three friends seem to have been; neither do the aged (always) understand judgment — What is just and right; or the judgment of God, and the methods and reasons of his administrations. Therefore I said — Within myself, and I now say it with my mouth; Hearken to me — Thou Job especially, who art more nearly concerned, and thy friends with thee. I also will show my opinion —

I will tell you what I think about this matter.


Verse 11

Job 32:11. Behold, I waited for your words — With silence, patience, and diligent attention, which therefore I now expect from you. I gave ear to your reasons — Or, reasonings; Hebrew, תבונותיכם, tebunotheichem, your understandings, or minds; the depth and strength of your discourses; your most intelligent and forcible arguments against Job. While you searched out what to say — While you put your inventions upon the rack, and studied to find out all that could be said against him, and to furnish yourselves with the most convincing words and reasons.


Verse 12-13

Job 32:12-13. Yea, I attended unto you — I have duly considered all you have said; and behold, none of you convinced Job — I must pronounce you have not confuted him, nor advanced any thing to the purpose in answer to his defence of himself. Lest you should say, We have found out wisdom — God has thus left you to your own weakness and mistakes, and shown you your inability to convince him, or even to make good your own arguments by answering his objections, lest you should glory in your own wisdom; lest you should boastingly say, We have discovered and said all that need or can be said in the cause, and what may finally end the controversy; we have said, God thrusteth him down, not man, and by his dreadful judgments upon him, shows him to be a hypocrite, and to be guilty of some gross, though secret sins. Or, as the Hebrew, אל ידפנו, eel jiddepennu, may be properly rendered, God must, or will, confute him, not man; “God only can sift him to the bottom, and know whether his pretences to piety have any thing real in them, or are only hypocritical.” But, says Elihu, this argument does not satisfy me, and therefore bear with me if I seek for a better.


Verse 14

Job 32:14. He hath not directed his words against me — I am not engaged in this dispute by any provoking words of Job, as you have been, which have excited your passions, and biased your judgments; but I speak merely from zeal for the vindication of God’s honour, and from love to truth and justice, and a sincere desire to administer to Job matter both of conviction and comfort. Neither will I answer him with your speeches — With such words or arguments as yours, either weak and impertinent, or opprobious and provoking. As Job did not direct any of his words against me, so I shall not trouble him with any of your replies.


Verse 15-16

Job 32:15-16. They were amazed — Job’s three friends stood mute, like persons amazed, not knowing what to reply to his arguments, and wondering at his bold and confident assertions concerning his integrity, and his interest in the favour of God, under such terrible and manifest tokens, as they thought them, of God’s just displeasure against him. They answered no more — Although Job gave them just occasion to confute and reprove him for his intemperate speeches, and his presumptuous and irreverent expressions concerning God. When I had waited they spake not, &c. — Which he repeats as a strange and unreasonable thing, that they should be silent when they had such obligations to speak for the vindication both of God’s justice, and of their own truth and reputation.


Verse 17-18

Job 32:17-18. I will answer also my part — I will take my turn and speak what they have omitted. I am full of matter — I have many things to say in this cause; the spirit within me constraineth me — My spirit, or soul, is so entirely dissatisfied with what hath hitherto been spoken, and so clearly apprehends what may silence Job and end the dispute, that it forceth me to speak. Or rather he means, that God’s Spirit had so enlightened his understanding by discovering the truth of the matter to him, and had so inspired him with zeal, that he was constrained thereby to plead God’s cause against Job. “As he was a young man,” says Heath, “he dared not claim much authority from his own sayings; but he claims it from the inspiration of the Almighty, by whose Spirit he was actuated, and whose oracles he was delivering.”


Verse 19-20

Job 32:19-20. Behold, my belly — That is, my mind or heart; is as wine which hath no vent — Is as a bottle filled with wine. Or, my thoughts and affections work within me, like fermenting wine in a bottle, and must have utterance. An elegant similitude, as Mercer observes. The wine is here put, by a metonymy, for the bottle in which it is contained. It is ready to burst like new bottles — That is, bottles of new wine; for otherwise, the bottles being made of leather, those that were old were more liable to burst than such as were new. I will speak, that I may be refreshed — That I may ease my mind of those thoughts which now oppress it. I will open my lips, and answer — I will not utter impertinent words, but solid answers to Job’s arguments.


Verse 21-22

Job 32:21-22. Let me not accept any man’s person — So as, either from fear of, or respect to, any man, to speak otherwise than I think. Do not expect me to speak partially, or by way of flattery, to any one, but bear with my free and plain dealing. As he found himself under a strong impulse to speak, so he would deliver his opinion with all freedom, and without partial inclination to either side. For I know not to give flattering titles — That is, I have neither skill nor inclination to flatter Job nor any man, so as to corrupt the truth, or speak falsely for his sake. In so doing, &c. — If I should be guilty of that sin; my Maker would soon take me away — Namely, out of this world: God would quickly and sorely punish me for it. Or, without supplying the words, in so doing, which are not in the Hebrew, the sense is, I dare not flatter any man, because I must shortly die and go to judgment, to give an account of all my words and actions. “The more closely we eye the majesty of God,” says Henry, “as our Maker, and the more we dread his wrath and justice, the less danger shall we be in of a sinful fearing or flattering of men.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 32:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-32.html. 1857.

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