Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
Ἐπ ̓ αὐτῶν τῶν λέξεων [τοῦ βιβλίου] γενόμενοι σαφηνίσωμεν τὴν ἔννοιαν,αὐτοῦ ποδηγούντος ἡμᾶς πρὸς τὴν ἑρμηνείαν, τοῦ καὶ τὸν ἅγιονἸὼβ πρὸς τοὺς ἀγῶνας ἐνισχύσαντος. - Olympiodoros.
The Opening - Job 1:1
Job's Piety in the Midst of the Greatest Prosperity - Job 1:1-5
The book begins in prose style: as Jerome says, Prosa incipit, versu labitur, pedestri sermone finitur. Prologue and epilogue are accordingly excepted from the poetical accentuation, and are accented according to the usual system, as the first word shows; for אישׁ has, in correct editions, Tebir, a smaller distinctive, which does not belong to the poetical accentuation. The writer does not begin with ויהי, as the writers of the historico-prophetical books, who are conscious that they are relating a portion of the connection of the collective Israelitish history, e.g., Sa1 1:1, אישׁ ויהי, but, as the writer of the book of Esther (Est 2:5) for similar reasons, with היה אישׁ, because he is beginning a detached extra-Israelitish history.
1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
The lxx translates, ἐν χώρᾳ τῇ Αὐσίτιδι; and adds at the close of the book, ἐπὶ τοῖς ὁρίοις τῆν Ἰδουμαίας καὶ Ἀραβίας, therefore north-east from Idumea, towards the Arabian desert. There, in the Arabian desert west from Babylon, under the Caucabenes, according to Ptolemy (v. 19, 2), the Αἰσῖται (Αἰσεῖται), i.e., the Uzzites, dwelt. This determination of the position of Uz is the most to be relied on. It tends indirectly to confirm this, that Οὖσος, in Jos. Ant. i. 6, 4, is described as founder of Trachonitis and Damascus; that the Jakut Hamawi and Moslem tradition generally (as recently Fries, Stud. u. Krit. 1854, ii.) mention the East Haran fertile tract of country north-west of Tm and Bzn, el-Bethenije, the district of Damascus in which Job dwelt;
(Note: Vid., Abulfeda, Historia anteislam. p. 26 (cf. 207f.), where it says, "The whole of Bethenije, a part of the province of Damascus, belonged to Job as his possession.")
that the Syrian tradition also transfers the dwelling-place of Job to Hauran, where, in the district of Damascus, a monastery to his honour is called Dair Ejjub (vid., Volck, Calendarium Syriacum, p. 29). All these accounts agree that Uz is not to be sought in Idumaea proper (Gebl). And the early historical genealogies (Gen 10:23; Gen 22:21; Gen 36:28) are not unfavourable to this, since they place Uz in relation to Seir-Edom on the one hand, and on the other to Aram: the perplexing double occurrence of such names as Tm and Dma, both in Idumaea and East Hauran, perhaps just results from the mixing of the different tribes through migration. But at all events, though Uz did not lie in Gebl, yet both from Lam 4:21, and on account of the reference in the book of Job itself to the Horites, a geographical connection between Idumaea and Ausitis is to be held; and from Jer 25:20 one is warranted in supposing, that עוץ, with which the Arabic name of Esau, ‛yṣ ('l-‛yṣ), perhaps not accidentally accords, was the collective name of the northern part of the Arabian desert, extending north-east from Idumaea towards Syria. Here, where the aborigines of Seir were driven back by the Aramaic immigrants, and to where in later times the territory of Edom extended, dwelt Job. His name is not symbolic with reference to the following history. It has been said, איּוב signifies one hostilely treated, by Satan namely.
(Note: Geiger (DMZ, 1858, S. 542f.) conjectures that, Sir. xlix. 9 (καὶ γὰρ ἐμνήσθη τῶν ἐχθρῶν ἐν ὄμβρῳ), τῶν ἐχθρῶν is a false translation of איוב. Renan assents; but τῶν εχθρῶν suits there excellently, and Job would be unnaturally dragged in.)
But the following reasons are against it: (1) that none of the other names which occur in the book are symbolically connected with the history; (2) that the form קטּול has never a properly passive signification, but either active, as יסּור, reprover (as parallel form with קטּל), or neuter, as ילּוד, born, שׁכּור, drunken, also occasionally infinitive (vid., Frst, Concord. p. 1349 s.), so that it may be more correct, with Ewald, after the Arabic (אוּב, cognate with שׁוּב, perhaps also בּוא), to explain the "one going of himself." Similar in sound are, יוב, the name of one of the sons of Issachar (Gen 46:13); the name of the Idumaean king, יובב, Gen 36:33 (which the lxx, Aristeas, Jul. Africanus,
(Note: Vid., Routh, Relinquiae ii. 154f.: Ἐκ τοῦ Ἠσαῦ ἄλλοι τε πολλοὶ καὶ Ραγουὴλ γεννᾶται ἀφ ̓ οὗ Ζάρεδ, ἐξ οὗ Ἰὼβ ὅς κατὰ συγχώρησιν θεοῦ ὑπὸ διαβόλου ἐπειράσθη καὶ ἐνίκησε τὸν πειράζοντα.)
combine with Job); and the name of the king of Mauritania, Juba, which in Greek is written Ἰόβας (Didymus Chalcenter. ed. Schmidt, p. 305): perhaps all these names belong to the root יב, to shout with joy. The lxx writes Ἰώβ with lenis; elsewhere the א at the beginning is rendered by asper, e.g., Αβραάμ, Ἡλίας. Luther writes Hiob; he has preferred the latter mode, that it may not be read Job with the consonantal Jod, when it should be Iob, as e.g., it is read by the English. It had been more correctly Ijob, but Luther wished to keep to the customary form of the name so far as he could; so we, by writing Iob with vowel I, do not wish to deviate too much from the mode of writing and pronunciation customary since Luther.
(Note: On the authorizing of the writing Iob, more exactly ob, also job (not, however, Ijjob, which does not correspond to the real pronunciation, which softens ij into , and uw into ), vid., Fleischer's Beitrge zur arab. Sprachkunde (Abh. der schs. Gesellschaft d. Wissenschaften, 1863), S. 137f. [The usual English form Job is adopted here, though Dr. Delitzsch writes Iob in the original work. - Tr.])
The writer intentionally uses four synonyms together, in order to describe as strongly as possible Job's piety, the reality and purity of which is the fundamental assumption of the history. תּם, with the whole heart disposed towards God and what is good, and also well-disposed toward mankind; ישׁר, in thought and action without deviation conformed to that which is right; אלהים ירא, fearing God, and consequently being actuated by the fear of God, which is the beginning (i.e., principle) of wisdom; מרע סר, keeping aloof from evil, which is opposed to God. The first predicate recalls Gen 25:27, the fourth the proverbial Psalms (Psa 34:15; Psa 37:27) and Pro 14:16. This mingling of expressions from Genesis and Proverbs is characteristic. First now, after the history has been begun in praett., aorr. follow.
2, 3 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she-asses, and servants in great number; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
It is a large, princely household. The numbers are large, but must not on that account be considered an invention. The four animals named include both kinds. With the doubled אלפי corresponds the also constructive מאות, the Tsere of which is never shortened, though in the singular one says מאת, from מאה. The aorists, especially of the verb היה (הוה), which, according to its root, signifies not so much esse as fieri, existere, are intended to place us at once in the midst of his prosperity. Ex iis, says Leo Africanus in reference to flocks, Arabes suas divitias ac possessiones aestimant. In fine, Job was without his equal among the קרם בני. So the tribes are called which extend from Arabia Deserta, lying to the east of Palestine, northwards to the countries on the Euphrates, and south over Arabia Petraea and Felix. The wisdom of these tribes, treasured up in proverbs, songs, and traditions, is mentioned in Kg1 5:10, side by side with the wisdom of the Egyptians. The writer now takes a very characteristic feature from the life of Job, to show that, even in the height of prosperity, he preserved and manifested the piety affirmed of him.
4, 5 And his sons went and feasted in the house of him whose day it was, and sent and called for their sisters to eat and drink with them. And it happened, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt-offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, I may be that my sons have sinned, and dismissed God from their hearts. Thus did Job continually.
The subordinate facts precede, Job 1:4, in perff.; the chief fact follows, Job 1:5, in fut. consec. The perff. describe, according to Ges. 126, 3, that which has happened repeatedly in the past, as e.g., Rut 4:7; the fut. consec. the customary act of Job, in conjunction with this occurrence. The consecutio temporum is exactly like Sa1 1:3.
It is questionable whether אישׁ בּית is a distinct adverbial expression, in domu unuiscujusque, and יומו also distinct, die ejus (Hirz. and others); or whether the three words are only one adverbial expression, in domo ejus cujus dies erat, which latter we prefer. At all events, יומו here, in this connection, is not, with Hahn, Schlottm., and others, to be understood of the birthday, as Job 3:1. The text, understood simply as it stands, speaks of a weekly round (Oehler and others). The seven sons took it in turn to dine with one another the week round, and did not forget their sisters in the loneliness of the parental home, but added them to their number. There existed among them a family peace and union which had been uninterruptedly cherished; but early on the morning of every eighth day, Job instituted a solemn service for his family, and offered sacrifices for his ten children, that they might obtain forgiveness for any sins of frivolity into which they might have fallen in the midst of the mirth of their family gatherings.
The writer might have represented this celebration on the evening of every seventh day, but he avoids even the slightest reference to anything Israelitish: for there is no mention in Scripture of any celebration of the Sabbath before the time of Israel. The sacred observance of the Sabbath, which was consecrated by God the Creator, was first expressly enjoined by the Sinaitic Thora. Here the family celebration falls on the morning of the Sunday, - a remarkable prelude to the New Testament celebration of Sunday in the age before the giving of the law, which is a type of the New Testament time after the law. The fact that Job, as father of the family, is the Cohen of his house, - a right of priesthood which the fathers of Israel exercised at the first passover (מצרים פסח), and from which a relic is still retained in the annual celebration of the passover (הדורות פסח), - is also characteristic of the age prior to the law. The standpoint of this age is also further faithfully preserved in this particular, that עולה here, as also Job 42:8, appears distinctly as an expiatory offering; whilst in the Mosaic ritual, although it still indeed serves לכפר (Lev 1:4), as does every blood-offering, the idea of expiation as its peculiar intention is transferred to הטאת and אשׁם. Neither of these forms of expiatory offering is here mentioned. The blood-offering still bears its most general generic name, עולה, which it received after the flood. This name indicates that the offering is one which, being consumed by fire, is designed to ascend in flames and smoke. העלה refers not so much to bringing it up to the raised altar, as to causing it to rise in flame and smoke, causing it to ascend to God, who is above. קדּשׁ is the outward cleansing and the spiritual preparation for the celebration of the sacred festival, as Exo 19:14. It is scarcely necessary to remark, that the masculine suffixes refer also to the daughters. There were ten whole sacrifices offered by Job on each opening day of the weekly round, at the dawn of the Sunday; and one has therefore to imagine this round of entertainment as beginning with the first-born on the first day of the week. "Perhaps," says Job, "my children have sinned, and bidden farewell to God in their hearts." Undoubtedly, בּרך signifies elsewhere (Kg1 21:10; Psa 10:3), according to a so-called ἀντιφραστικὴ εὐφημία, maledicere. This signification also suits Job 2:5, but does not at all suit Job 2:9. This latter passage supports the signification valedicere, which arises from the custom of pronouncing a benediction or benedictory salutation at parting (e.g., Gen 47:10). Job is afraid lest his children may have become somewhat unmindful of God during their mirthful gatherings. In Job's family, therefore, there was an earnest desire for sanctification, which was far from being satisfied with mere outward propriety of conduct. Sacrifice (which is as old as the sin of mankind) was to Job a means of grace, by which he cleansed himself and his family every week from inward blemish. The futt. consec. are followed by perff., which are governed by them. כּכה, however, is followed by the fut., because in historical connection (cf. on the other hand, Num 8:26), in the signification, faciebat h.e. facere solebat (Ges. 127, 4, b). Thus Job did every day, i.e., continually. As head of the family, he faithfully discharged his priestly vocation, which permitted him to offer sacrifice as an early Gentile servant of God. The writer has now made us acquainted with the chief person of the history which he is about to record, and in Job 1:6 begins the history itself.
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah; and Satan came also in the midst of them.
The translation "it happened on a day" is rejected in Ges. 109, rem. 1, c.
(Note: The references to Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar have been carefully verified according to the English edition published by Bagster and Sons, London. - Tr.)
The article, it is there said, refers to what precedes - the day, at the time; but this favourite mode of expression is found at the beginning of a narrative, even when it cannot be considered to have any reference to what has preceded, e.g., Kg2 4:18. The article is used in the opposite manner here, because the narrator in thought connects the day with the following occurrence; and this frees it from absolute indefiniteness: the western mode of expression is different. From the writer assigning the earthly measure of time to the place of God and spirits, we see that celestial things are represented by him parabolically. But the assumptions on which he proceeds are everywhere recognised in Scripture; for (1.) האלהים בּני, as the name of the celestial spirits, is also found out of the book of Job (Gen 6:2; cf. Psa 29:1; Psa 59:7; Dan 3:25). They are so called, as beings in the likeness of God, which came forth from God in the earliest beginning of creation, before this material world and man came into existence (Job 28:4-7): the designation בּני points to the particular manner of their creation. (2.) Further, it is the teaching of Scripture, that these are the nearest attendants upon God, the nearest created glory, with which He has surrounded himself in His eternal glory, and that He uses them as the immediate instruments of His cosmical rule. This representation underlies Gen 1:26, which Philo correctly explains, διαλέγεται ὁ τῶν ὅλων πατὴρ ταῖς ἑαυτοῦ δυνάμεσιν; and in Psa 59:6-8, a psalm which is closely allied to the book of Job, קהל and סוד, of the holy ones, is just the assembly of the heavenly spirits, from which, as ἄγγελοι of God, they go forth into the universe and among men. (3.) It is also further the teaching of Scripture, that one of these spirits has withdrawn himself from the love of God, has reversed the truth of his bright existence, and in sullen ardent self-love is become the enemy of God, and everything godlike in the creature. This spirit is called, in reference to God and the creature, השּׂטן ,er, from the verb שׂטן, to come in the way, oppose, treat with enmity, - a name which occurs first here, and except here occurs only in Zac 3:1-10 and Ch1 21:1. Since the Chokma turned, with a decided preference, to the earliest records of the world and mankind before the rise of nationalities, it must have known the existence of this God-opposing spirit from Gen. 2f. The frequent occurrence of the tree of life and the way of life in the Salomonic Proverbs, shows how earnestly the research of that time was engaged with the history of Paradise: so that it cannot be surprising that it coined the name השּׂטן for that evil spirit. (4.) Finally, it agrees with Kg1 22:19-22; Zac 3:1, on the one hand, and Rev. 12 on the other, that Satan here appears still among the good spirits, resembling Judas Iscariot among the disciples until his treachery was revealed. The work of redemption, about which his enmity to God overdid itself, and by which his damnation is perfected, is during the whole course of the Old Testament history incomplete.
Herder, Eichhorn, Lutz, Ewald, and Umbreit, see in this distinct placing of Satan in relation to the Deity and good spirits nothing but a change of representations arising from foreign influences; but if Jesus Christ is really the vanquisher of Satan, as He himself says, the realm of spirits must have a history, which is divided into two eras by this triumph. Moreover, both the Old and New Testaments agree herein, that Satan is God's adversary, and consequently altogether evil, and must notwithstanding serve God, since He makes even evil minister to His purpose of salvation, and the working out of His plan in the government of the world. This is the chief thought which underlies the further progress of the scene. The earthly elements of time, space, and dialogue, belong to the poetic drapery.
Instead of על התיצּב, לפני is used elsewhere (Pro 22:29): על is a usage of language derived from the optical illusion to the one who is in the foreground seeming to surpass the one in the background. It is an assembly day in heaven. All the spirits present themselves to render their account, and expecting to receive commands; and the following dialogue ensues between Jehovah and Satan: -
7 Then Jehovah said to Satan, Whence comest thou? Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
The fut. follows מאין in the signification of the praes., Whence comest thou? the perf. would signify, Whence hast thou come? (Ges. 127, 2). Cocceius subtly observes: Notatur Satanas velut Deo nescio h.e. non adprobante res suas agere. It is implied in the question that his business is selfish, arbitrary, and has no connection with God. In his answer, בּ שׁוּט, as Sa2 24:2, signifies rapid passing from one end to the other; התלּך, an observant roaming forth. Peter also says of Satan, περιπατεῖ (Pe1 5:8.).
(Note: Among the Arabs the devil is called 'l-ḥârt, el-hharith - the active, busy, industrious one.)
He answers at first generally, as expecting a more particular question, which Jehovah now puts to him.
8 Then said Jehovah to Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job? for there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil.
By כּי Jehovah gives the reason of His inquiry. Had Satan been observant of Job, even he must have confessed that there was on the earth real genuine piety. לב שׂים, animum advertere (for לב is animus, נפשׁ anima), is construed with על, of the object on which the attention falls, and on which it fixes itself, or אל, of the object towards which it is directed (Job 2:3). The repetition of the four predicates used of Job (Job 1:1) in the mouth of Jehovah (though without the waw combining both pairs there) is a skilful touch of the poet. Further on, the narrative is also interwoven with poetic repetitions (as e.g., Job 34 and Gen 1), to give it architectural symmetry, and to strengthen the meaning and impression of what is said. Jehovah triumphantly displays His servant, the incomparable one, in opposition to Satan; but this does not disconcert him: he knows how, as on all occasions, so here also, to deny what Jehovah affirms.
9-11 Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast Thou not made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Hast Thou not blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land? But put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath: truly he will renounce Thee to Thy face.
Satan is, according to the Rev 12:10, the κατήγωρ who accuses the servants of God day and night before God. It is a fact respecting the invisible world, though expressed in the language and imagery of this world. So long as he is not finally vanquished and condemned, he has access to God, and thinks to justify himself by denying the truth of the existence and the possibility of the continuance of all piety. God permits it; for since everything happening to the creature is placed under the law of free development, evil in the world of spirits is also free to maintain and expand itself, until a spiritual power comes forward against it, by which the hitherto wavering conflict between the principles of good and evil is decided. This is the truth contained in the poetic description of the heavenly scene, sadly mistaken by Umbreit in his Essay on Sin, 1853, in which he explains Satan, according to Psa 109:6, as a creation of our author's fancy. The paucity of the declarations respecting Satan in the Old Testament has misled him. And indeed the historical advance from the Old Testament to the New, though in itself well authorized, has in many ways of late induced to the levelling of the heights and depths of the New Testament. Formerly Umbreit was of the opinion, as many are still, that the idea of Satan is derived from Persia; but between Ahriman (Angramainyus) and Satan there is no striking resemblance;
(Note: Moreover, it is still questionable whether the form of the ancient doctrine of fire-worship among the Persians did not result from Jewish influences. Vid., Stuhr, Religionssysteme der herdn. Vlker des Orients, S. 373-75.)
whereas Diestel, in his Abh. ber Set-Typhon, Asasel und Satan, Stud. u. Krit., 1860, 2, cannot indeed recognise any connection between עזאזל and the Satan of the book of Job, but maintains a more complete harmony in all substantial marks between the latter and the Egyptian Typhon, and infers that "to Satan is therefore to be denied a purely Israelitish originality, the natural outgrowth of the Hebrew mind. It is indeed no special honour for Israel to be able to call him their own. He never has taken firm hold on the Hebrew consciousness." But how should it be no honour for Israel, the people to whom the revelation of redemption was made, and in whose history the plan of redemption was developed, to have traced the poisonous stream of evil up to the fountain of its first free beginning in the spiritual world, and to have more than superficially understood the history of the fall of mankind by sin, which points to a disguised superhuman power, opposed to the divine will? This perception undoubtedly only begins gradually to dawn in the Old Testament; but in the New Testament, the abyss of evil is fully disclosed, and Satan has so far a hold on the consciousness of Jesus, that He regards His life's vocation as a conflict with Satan. And the Protevangelium is deciphered in facts, when the promised seed of the woman crushed the serpent's head, but at the same time suffered the bruising of its own heel.
The view (e.g., Lutz in his Biblishce Dogmatik) that Satan as he is represented in the book of Job is not the later evil spirit, is to be rejected: he appears here only first, say Herder and Eichhorn, as impartial executor of judgment, and overseer of morality, commissioned by God. But he denies what God affirms, acknowledges no love towards God in the world which is not rooted in self-love, and is determined to destroy this love as a mere semblance. Where piety is dulled, he rejoices in its obscurity; where it is not, he dims its lustre by reflecting his own egotistical nature therein. Thus it is in Zac 3:1-10, and so here. Genuine love loves God חנּם (adverb from חן, like gratis from gratia): it loves Him for His own sake; it is a relation of person to person, without any actual stipulations and claim. But Job does not thus fear God; ירא is here praet., whereas in Job 1:1 and Job 1:8 it is the adjective. God has indeed hitherto screened him from all evil; שׂכתּ from שׂוּך, sepire, and בּעד (בּעד) composed of בּ and עד, in the primary signification circum, since עד expresses that the one joins itself to the other, and בּ that it covers it, or covers itself with it. By the addition of מסּביב, the idea of the triple בּעד is still strengthened. מעשׂה, lxx, Vulg., have translated by the plural, which is not false according to the thought; for ידים מעשׂה is, especially in Deuteronomy, a favourite collective expression for human enterprise. פּרץ, a word, with the Sanskrito-Sem. frangere, related to פּרק, signifying to break through the bounds, multiply and increase one's self unboundedly (Gen 30:30, and freq.). The particle אוּלם, proper only to the oldest and classic period, and very commonly used in the first four books of the Pentateuch, and in our book, generally ואוּלם, is an emphatic "nevertheless;" Lat. (suited to this passage at least) verum enim vero. אם־לא is either, as frequently, a shortened formula of asseveration: May such and such happen to me if he do not, etc., = forsooth he will (lxx ἦ μήν); or it is half a question: Attempt only this and this, whether he will not deny thee, = annon, as Job 17:2; Job 22:20. The first perhaps suits the character of Satan better: he affirms that God is mistaken. בּרך signifies here also, valedicere: he will say farewell to thee, and indeed על־פּניך (as Isa 65:3), meeting thee arrogantly and shamelessly: it signifies, properly, upon thy countenance, i.e., say it to thee, to the very face, that he will have nothing more to do with thee (comp. on Job 2:5). In order now that the truth of His testimony to Job's piety, and this piety itself, may be tried, Jehovah surrenders all Job's possessions, all that is his, except himself, to Satan.
12 Then Jehovah said to Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy hand; only upon himself put not forth thy hand. And Satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah.
Notice well: The divine permission appears at the same time as a divine command, for in general there is not a permission by which God remains purely passive; wherefore God is even called in Scripture creator mali (the evil act as such only excepted), Isa 45:7. Further, the divine arrangement has not its foundation in the sin which still clings to Job. For in the praise conferred upon Job, it is not said that he is absolutely without sin: universal liability to sin is assumed not only of all the unrighteousness, but even of all the righteousness, of Adam's race. Thirdly, the permission proceeds, on the contrary, from God's purpose to maintain, in opposition to Satan, the righteousness which, in spite of the universal liability to sin, is peculiar to Job; and if we place this single instance in historical connection with the development of the plan of redemption, it is a part of the conflict of the woman's seed with the serpent, and of the gradual degradation of Satan to the lake of fire. After Jehovah's permission, Satan retires forthwith. The license is welcome to him, for he delights in the work of destruction. And he hopes to conquer. For after he has experienced the unlimited power of evil over himself, he has lost all faith in the power of good, and is indeed become himself the self-deceived father of lies.
13-15 And it came to pass one day, when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in the house of their eldest brother, that a messenger came to Job, and said, The oxen were ploughing, and the asses feeding beside them, when the Sabeans fell upon them, and carried them away, and smote the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
The principal clause, היּום ויהי, in which the art. of היּום has no more reference to anything preceding than in Job 1:6, is immediately followed by an adverbial clause, which may be expressed by participles, Lat. filiis ejus filiabusque convivantibus. The details which follow are important. Job had celebrated the usual weekly worship early in the morning with his children, and knew that they were met together in the house of his eldest son, with whom the order of mutual entertainment came round again, when the messengers of misfortune began to break in upon him: it is therefore on the very day when, by reason of the sacrifice offered, he was quite sure of Jehovah's favour. The participial construction, the oxen were ploughing (vid., Ges. 134, 2, c), describes the condition which was disturbed by the calamity that befell them. The verb היוּ stands here because the clause is a principal one, not as Job 1:13, adverbial. על־ידי, properly "at hand," losing its radical meaning, signifies (as Jdg 11:26) "close by." The interpretation "in their places," after Num 2:17, is untenable, as this signification of יד is only supported in the sing. שׁבא is construed as fem., since the name of the country is used as the name of the people. In Genesis three races of this name are mentioned: Cushite (Gen 10:7), Joktanish (Gen 10:28), and Abrahamic (Gen 25:3). Here the nomadic portion of this mixed race in North Arabia from the Persian Gulf to Idumaea is intended. Luther, for the sake of clearness, translates here, and Kg1 10:1, Arabia. In ואמּלטה, the waw, as is seen from the Kametz, is waw convertens, and the paragogic ah, which otherwise indicates the cohortative, is either without significance, or simply adds intensity to the verbal idea: I have saved myself with great difficulty. For this common form of the 1 fut. consec., occurring four times in the Pentateuch, vid., Ges. 49, 2. The clause לך להגּיד is objective: in order that - so it was intended by the calamity - I might tell thee.
The Second Messenger:
16 While he was yet speaking, another came, and said, The fire of God fell from heaven, and set fire to the sheep and servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
The fire of God, which descends, is not a suitable expression for Samm (Schlottm.), that wind of the desert which often so suddenly destroys man and beast, although indeed it is indicated by certain atmospheric phenomena, appearing first of a yellow colour, which changes to a leaden hue and spreads through the atmosphere, so that the sun when at the brightest becomes a dark red. The writer, also, can scarcely have intended lightning (Rosenm., Hirz., Hahn), but rain of fire or brimstone, as with Sodom and Gomorrha, and as Kg1 18:38; Kg2 1:12.
The Third Messenger:
17 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans ranged themselves in three bands, and rushed upon the camels, and carried them away, and slew the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
Without any authority, Ewald sees in this mention of the Chaldeans an indication of the composition of the book in the seventh century b.c., when the Chaldeans under Nabopolassar began to inherit the Assyrian power. Following Ewald, Renan observes that the Chaldeans first appear as such marauders about the time of Uzziah. But in Genesis we find mention of early Semitic Chaldeans among the mountain ranges lying to the north of Assyria and Mesopotamia; and later, Nahor Chaldeans of Mesopotamia, whose existence is traced back to the patriarchal times (vid., Genesis, p. 422),
(Note: This reference is to Delitzsch's Commentar ber die Genesis, 1860, a separate work from the Keil and Delitzsch series. - Tr.)
and who were powerful enough at any time to make a raid into Idumaea. To make an attack divided into several ראשׁים, heads, multitudes, bands (two - Gen. Job 14:15; three - Jdg 7:16, Sa1 11:11; or four - Judg. Job 9:34), is an ancient military stratagem; and פּשׁט, e.g., Jdg 9:33, is the proper word for attacks of such bands, either for plunder or revenge. In לפי־חרב, at the edge of the sword, l'epe, ל is like the usual acc. of manner.
The Fourth Messenger:
18 While he was yet speaking, another also came, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: and, behold, a great wind came across from the desert, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
Instead of עוד, we have עד here: the former denotes continuity in time, the latter continuity in space, and they may be interchanged. עד in the signif. "while" is here construed with the participle, as Neh 7:3; comp. other constructions, Job 8:21; Sa1 14:19; Jon 4:2. "From the other side of the desert" is equivalent to, from its farthest end. הנּערים are the youthful sons and daughters of Job, according to the epicene use of נער in the Pentateuch (youths and maidens). In one day Job is now bereft of everything which he accounted the gift of Jehovah, - his herds, and with these his servants, which he not only prizes as property, but for whom he has also a tender heart (Job 31); last of all, even his dearest ones, his children. Satan has summoned the elements and men for the destruction of Job's possessions by repeated strokes. That men and nations can be excited by Satan to hostile enterprises, is nothing surprising (cf. Rev 20:8); but here, even the fire of God and the hurricane are attributed to him. Is this poetry or truth? Luther, in the Larger Catechism, question 4, says the same: "The devil causes strife, murder, rebellion, and war, also thunder and lightning, and hail, to destroy corn and cattle, to poison the atmosphere," etc., - a passage of our creed often ridiculed by rationalism; but it is correct if understood in accordance with Scripture, and not superstitiously. As among men, so in nature, since the Fall two different powers of divine anger and divine love are in operation: the mingling of these is the essence of the present Kosmos. Everything destructive to nature, and everything arising therefrom which is dangerous and fatal to the life of man, is the outward manifestation of the power of anger. In this power Satan has fortified himself; and this, which underlies the whole course of nature, he is able to make use of, so far as God may permit it as being subservient to His chief design (comp. Rev 13:13 with Th2 2:9). He has no creative power. Fire and storm, by means of which he works, are of God; but he is allowed to excite these forces to hostility against man, just as he himself is become an instrument of evil. It is similar with human demonocracy, whose very being consists in placing itself en rapport with the hidden powers of nature. Satan is the great juggler, and has already manifested himself as such, even in paradise and in the temptation of Jesus Christ. There is in nature, as among men, an entanglement of contrary forces which he knows how to unloose, because it is the sphere of his special dominion; for the whole course of nature, in the change of its phenomena, is subject not only to abstract laws, but also to concrete supernatural powers, both bad and good.
The Conduct of Job:
20, 21 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah.
The first three messengers Job has heard, sitting, and in silence; but at the news of the death of his children, brought by the fourth, he can no longer overcome his grief. The intensity of his feeling is indicated by rising up (cf. Jon 3:6); his torn heart, by the rending of his mantle; the conscious loss of his dearest ones, by cutting off the hair of his head. He does not, however, act like one in despair, but, humbling himself under the mighty hand of God, falls to the ground and prostrates himself, i.e., worshipping God, so that his face touches the earth. השׁתּחוה, se prosternere, this is the gesture of adoration, προσκήνησις.
(Note: Vid., Hlemann's Abh. ber die biblische Gestaltung der Anbetung, in his Bibelstudien, Abth. 1 (1859).)
יצתי is defectively written, as Num 11:11; cf. infra, Job 32:18. The occurrence of שׁמּה here is remarkable, and may have given rise to the question of Nicodemus, Joh 3:4 : μὴ δύναται ἄνθρωπος εἰς τῆν κοιλίαν τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ δεύτερον εἰσελθεῖν. The writer of Ecclesiastes (Ecc 5:14) has left out this difficult שׁמה. It means either being put back into a state of unconsciousness and seclusion from the light and turmoil of this world, similar to his former state in his mother's womb, which Hupfeld, in his Commentatio in quosdam Iobeidos locos, 1853, favours; or, since the idea of אמּי בּטן may be extended, return to the bosom of mother earth (Ew., Hirz., Schlottm., et al.), so that שׁמה is not so much retrospective as rather prospective with reference to the grave (Bttch.), which we prefer; for as the mother's bosom can be compared to the bosom of the earth (Psa 139:15), because it is of the earth, and recalls the original forming of man from the earth, so the bosom of the earth is compared to the mother's, Sir. 40:1: ἀφ ̓ ἡμέρας ἐξόδου ἐκ γαστρὸς μητρὸς ἕως ἡμέρας ἐπιταφῆς εἰς μητέρα πάντων. The writer here intentionally makes Job call God יהוה. In the dialogue portion, the name יהוה occurs only once in the mouth of Job (Job 12:9); most frequently the speakers use אלוה and שׁדי. This use of the names of God corresponds to the early use of the same in the Pentateuch, according to which שׁדי is the proper name of God in the patriarchal days, and יהוה in the later days, to which they were preparatory. The traditional view, that Elohim describes God according to the attribute of justice, Jehovah according to the attribute of mercy, is only in part correct; for even when the advent of God to judgment is announced, He is in general named Jehovah. Rather, אלהים (plur. of אלוהּ, fear), the Revered One, describes God as object; יהוה or יהוה, on the other hand, as subject. אלהים describes Him in the fulness of His glorious majesty, including also the spirits, which are round about Him; יהוה as the Absolute One. Accordingly, Job, when he says יהוה, thinks of God not only as the absolute cause of his fate, but as the Being ordering his life according to His own counsel, who is ever worthy of praise, whether in His infinite wisdom He gives or takes away. Job was not driven from God, but praised Him in the midst of suffering, even when, to human understanding and feeling, there was only occasion for anguish: he destroyed the suspicion of Satan, that he only feared God for the sake of His gifts, not for His own sake; and remained, in the midst of a fourfold temptation, the conqueror.
(Note: In Oliver Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield (vid., Jul. Hamberger, Gott und seine Offenbarung, S. 71), there is much that reminds one of the book of Job, especially the repeated misfortunes which befall the worthy clergyman, his submission under all, and the issue which counterbalances his misfortune. But what is copied from the book of Job appears to be only superficial, not to come from the depth of the spiritual life.)
Throughout the whole book he does not go so far as to deny God (אלהים בּרך), and thus far he does not fall into any unworthy utterances concerning His rule.
22 In all this Job sinned not, nor attributed folly to God.
In all this, i.e., as the lxx correctly renders it: which thus far had befallen him; Ewald et al. translate incorrectly: he gave God no provocation. תּפלה signifies, according to Job 24:12, comp. Job 6:6, saltlessness and tastelessness, dealing devoid of meaning and purpose, and is to be translated either, he uttered not, non edidit, anything absurd against God, as Jerome translates, neque stultum quid contra Deum locutus est; or, he did not attribute folly to God: so that נתן ל are connected, as Psa 68:35; Jer 13:16. Since נתן by itself nowhere signifies to express, we side with Hirzel and Schlottm. against Rdiger (in his Thes.) and Oehler, in favour of the latter. The writer hints that, later on, Job committed himself by some unwise thoughts of the government of God.