Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
Job humbles himself before God, Job 42:1-6. God accepts him; censures his three friends; and commands Job to offer sacrifices for then, that he might pardon and accept them, as they had not spoken what was right concerning their Maker, Job 42:7-9. The Lord turns Job's captivity; and his friends visit him, and bring him presents, Job 42:10, Job 42:11. Job's affluence becomes double to what it was before, Job 42:12. His family is also increased, Job 42:13-15. Having lived one hundred and forty years after his calamities, he dies, Job 42:16, Job 42:17.
I know that thou canst do every thing - Thy power is unlimited; thy wisdom infinite.
Who is he that hideth counsel - These are the words of Job, and they are a repetition of what Jehovah said, Job 38:2 : "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?" Job now having heard the Almighty's speech, and having received his reproof, echoes back his words: "Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge Alas, I am the man; I have uttered what I understood not; things too wonderful for me, that I knew not. God had said, Job 38:3 : "Gird up now thy loins like a man; I will demand of thee, and answer thou me." In allusion to this, Job exclaims to his Maker, Job 42:4 : "Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will ask of Thee, and declare Thou unto Me." I acknowledge my ignorance; I confess my foolishness and presumption; I am ashamed of my conduct; I lament my imperfections; I implore thy mercy; and beg thee to show me thy will, that I may ever think, speak, and do, what is pleasing in thy sight.
Things too wonderful - I have spoken of thy judgments, which I did not comprehend.
I have heard of thee - I have now such a discovery of thee as I have never had before. I have only heard of thee by tradition, or from imperfect information; now the eye of my mind clearly perceives thee, and in seeing thee, I see myself; for the light that discovers thy glory and excellence, discovers my meanness and vileness.
I abhor myself - Compared with thine, my strength is weakness; my wisdom, folly; and my righteousness, impurity.
"I loathe myself when thee I see;
And into nothing fall."
Repent - I am deeply distressed on account of the imaginations of my heart, the words of my tongue, and the acts of my life. I roll myself in the dust, and sprinkle ashes upon my head. Job is now sufficiently humbled at the feet of Jehovah; and having earnestly and piously prayed for instruction, the Lord, in a finishing speech, which appears to be contained in Job 40:1-14, perfects his teaching on the subject of the late controversy, which is concluded with, "When thou canst act like the Almighty," which is, in effect, what the questions and commands amount to in the preceding verses of that chapter, "then will I also confess unto thee, that thy own right hand can save thee." In the fifth verse of the fortieth chapter, Job says, "Once have I spoken." This must refer to the declaration above, in the beginning of this chapter, (42). And he goes on to state, Job 40:5 : "Yea, Twice; but I will proceed no farther." This second time is that in which he uses these words: after which he spoke no more; and the Lord concluded with the remaining part of these fourteen verses, viz., from Job 40:7-14, inclusive. Then the thread of the story, in the form of a narration is resumed at Job 42:7.
After the Lord had spoken these words - Those recorded at Job 40:7-14; he said to Eliphaz, who was the eldest of the three friends, and chief speaker: Ye have not spoken of me - right. Mr. Peters observes, "It will be difficult to find any thing in the speeches of Eliphaz and his companions which should make the difference here supposed, if we set aside the doctrine of a future state; for in this view the others would speak more worthily of God than Job, by endeavoring to vindicate his providence in the exact distribution of good and evil in this life: whereas Job's assertion, Job 9:22, 'This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked,' which is the argument on which he all along insists, would, upon this supposition, be directly charging God that he made no distinction between the good and the bad. But now, take the other life into the account, and the thing will appear in quite a contrary light; and we shall easily see the reason why God approves of the sentiments of Job, and condemns those of his friends. For supposing the friends of Job to argue that the righteous are never afflicted without remedy here, nor the wicked prosperous on the whole in this life, which is a wrong representation of God's providence; and Job to argue, on the other hand, that the righteous are sometimes afflicted here, and that without remedy, but shall be rewarded in the life to come; and that the wicked prosper here, but shall be punished hereafter, which is the true representation of the Divine proceedings; and here is a very apparent difference in the drift of the one's discourse, and of the others'. For Job, in this view, speaks worthily of God, and the rest unworthily. The best moral argument that mankind have ever had to believe in a life to come, is that which Job insists on - that good and evil are, for the most part, dealt out here promiscuously. On the contrary, the topic urged by his friends, and which they push a great deal too far, that God rewards and punishes in this world, tends, in its consequences, like that other opinion which was held by the stoics in after times, that virtue is its own reward, to sap the very foundation of that proof we have, from reason, of another life. No wonder, therefore, that the sentiments of the one are approved, and those of the other condemned."
Take - seven bullocks and seven rams - From this it appears that Job was considered a priest, not only in his own family but also for others. For his children he offered burnt-offerings, Job 1:5; and now he is to make the same kind of offerings, accompanied with intercession, in behalf of his three friends. This is a full proof of the innocence and integrity of Job: a more decided one could not be given, that the accusations of his friends, and their bitter speeches, were as untrue as they were malevolent. God thus clears his character, and confounds their devices.
The Lord turned the captivity of Job - The Vulgate has: Dominus quoque conversus est ad poenitentiam Job; "And the Lord turned Job to repentance." The Chaldee: "The Word of the Lord (מימרא דיי meymera dayai) turned the captivity of Job." There is a remark which these words suggest, which has been rarely, if at all, noticed. It is said that the Lord turned the captivity of Job When He Prayed for His Friends. He had suffered much through the unkindness of these friends; they had criticised his conduct without feeling or mercy; and he had just cause to be irritated against them: and that he had such a feeling towards them, several parts of his discourses sufficiently prove. God was now about to show Job his mercy; but mercy can be shown only to the merciful; Job must forgive his unfeeling friends, if he would be forgiven by the Lord; he directs him, therefore, to pray for them, Job 42:8. He who can pray for another cannot entertain enmity against him: Job did so, and when he prayed for his friends, God turned the captivity of Job. "Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." Some suppose that Job, being miraculously restored, armed his servants and remaining friends, and fell upon those who had spoiled him; and not only recovered his own property, but also spoiled the spoilers, and thus his substance became double what it was before. Of this I do not see any intimation in the sacred text.
Then came there unto him all his brethren - "Job being restored to his former health and fortunes, the author," says Mr. Heath, "presents us with a striking view of human friendship. His brethren, who, in the time of his affliction, kept at a distance from him; his kinsfolk, who ceased to know him; his familiar friends, who had forgotten him; and his acquaintance, who had made themselves perfect strangers to him; those to whom he had showed kindness, and who yet had ungratefully neglected him, on the return of his prosperity now come and condole with him, desirous of renewing former familiarity; and, according to the custom of the Eastern countries, where there is no approaching a great man without a present, each brings him a kesitah, each a jewel of gold." See Job 42:12.
A piece of money - קשיטה kesitah signifies a lamb; and it is supposed that this piece of money had a lamb stamped on it, as that quantity of gold was generally the current value for a lamb. See my note on Gen 33:19 (note), where the subject is largely considered. The Vulgate, Chaldee, Septuagint, Arabic, and Syriac, have one lamb or sheep; so it appears that they did not understand the kesitah as implying a piece of money of any kind, but a sheep or a lamb.
Earring of gold - Literally, a nose-jewel. The Septuagint translate, τετραδραχμον χρυσου, a tetra-drachm of gold, or golden daric; but by adding και ασημου, unstamped, they intimate that it was four drachms of uncoined gold.
The Lord blessed the latter end of Job - Was it not in consequence of his friends bringing him a lamb, sheep, or other kind of cattle, and the quantity of gold mentioned, that his stock of sheep was increased so speedily to 14,000, his camels to 6000, his oxen to 2000, and his she-asses to 1000? Mr. Heath takes the story of the conduct of Job's friends by the worst handle; see Job 42:11. Is it not likely that they themselves were the cause of his sudden accumulation of property? and that they did not visit him, nor seek his familiarity because he was now prosperous; but because they saw that God had turned his captivity, and miraculously healed him? This gave them full proof of his innocence, and they no longer considered him an anathema, or devoted person, whom they should avoid and detest, but one who had been suffering under a strange dispensation of Divine Providence, and who was now no longer a suspicious character, but a favourite of heaven, to whom they should show every possible kindness. They therefore joined hands with God to make the poor man live and their presents were the cause, under God of his restoration to affluence. This takes the subject by the other handle; and I think, as far as the text is concerned, by the right one.
He had fourteen thousand sheep - The reader, by referring to Job 1:3, will perceive that the whole of Job's property was exactly doubled.
Seven sons and three daughters - This was the same number as before; and so the Vulgate, Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic read: but the Chaldee doubles the sons, "And he had fourteen sons, and three daughters."
The name of the first Jemima - ימימה yemimah, days upon days. Kezia - קציעה ketsiah, cassia, a well-known aromatic plant.
And, Keren-happuch - קרן הפוך keren happuch, the inverted or flowing horn, cornucopiae, the horn of plenty. The Chaldee will not permit these names to pass without a comment, to show the reason of their imposition: "He called the first Jemimah, because she was as fair as the day; the second Ketsiah, because she was as precious as cassia; the third Keren-happuch, because her face was as splendid as the emerald." Cardmarden's Bible, 1566, has the Hebrew names. The Vulgate has, "He called the name of one Day, of the second Cassia, and of the third The Horn of Antimony." The versions in general preserve these names, only the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic translate Jemimah, Day; and the former for Keren-happuch has Αμαλθαιας κερας, the horn of Amalthea. This refers to an ancient fable. Amalthea was the nurse of Jupiter, and fed him with goat's milk when he was young. The goat having by accident her horn struck off, Jupiter translated the animal to the heavens, and gave her a place among the constellations, which she still holds; and made the horn the emblem of plenty: hence it is always pictured or described as filled with fruits, flowers, and the necessaries and luxuries of life. It is very strange how this fable got into the Septuagint.
Coverdale is singular: The first he called Daye, the seconde Poverte, the thirde, All plenteousnes.
Gave them inheritance among their brethren - This seems to refer to the history of the daughters of Zelophehad, given Num 28:1-8, who appear to have been the first who were allowed an inheritance among their brethren.
After this lived Job a hundred and forty years - How long he had lived before his afflictions, we cannot tell. If we could rely on the Septuagint, all would be plain, who add here, Τα δε παντα ετη εζησεν, διακοσια τεσσαρακοντα; "And all the years that Job lived were two hundred and forty." This makes him one hundred years of age when his trial commenced. Coverdale has, After this lyved Job forty yeares, omitting the hundred. So also in Becke's Bible, 1549. From the age, as marked down in the Hebrew text, we can infer nothing relative to the time when Job lived. See the subscription at the end of the Arabic.
Job died, being old and full of days - He had seen life in all its varieties; he had risen higher than all the men of the East, and sunk lower in affliction, poverty, and distress, than any other human being that had existed before, or has lived since. He died when he was satisfied with this life; this the word שבע seba implies. He knew the worst and the best of human life; and in himself the whole history of Providence was exemplified and illustrated, and many of its mysteries unfolded.
We have now seen the end of the life of Job, and the end or design which God had in view by his afflictions and trials, in which he has shown us that he is very pitiful, and of tender mercy, Jam 5:11; and to discern this end of the Lord should be the object of every person who reads or studies it. Laus in excelsis Deo!
Both in the Arabic and Septuagint there is a considerable and important addition at the end of the seventeenth verse, which extends to many lines; of this, with its variations, I have given a translation in the Preface.
At the end of the Syriac version we have the following subscription: -
"The Book of the righteous and renowned Job is finished, and contains 2553 verses."
At the end of the Arabic is the following: -
"It is completed by the assistance of the Most High God. The author of this copy would record that this book has been translated into Arabic from the Syriac language." "Glory be to God, the giver of understanding!" "The Book of Job is completed; and his age was two hundred and forty years." "Praise be to God for ever!"
So closely does the Arabic translator copy the Syriac, that in the Polyglots one Latin version serves for both, with the exception of a few marginal readings at the bottom of the column to show where the Syriac varies.