Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
1 Then Job answered Jehovah, and said:
2 Now I know that Thou canst do all things,
And no plan is impracticable to Thee.
3 "Who then hideth counsel -
Thus have I judged without understanding,
What was too wonderful for me, without knowing.
He indeed knew previously what he acknowledges in Job 42:2, but now this knowledge has risen upon him in a new divinely-worked clearness, such as he has not hitherto experienced. Those strange but wondrous monsters are a proof to him that God is able to put everything into operation, and that the plans according to which He acts are beyond the reach of human comprehension. If even that which is apparently most contradictory, rightly perceived, is so glorious, his affliction is also no such monstrous injustice as he thinks; on the contrary, it is a profoundly elaborated מזמּה, a well-digested, wise עצה of God. In Job 42:3 he repeats to himself the chastening word of Jehovah, Job 38:2, while he chastens himself with it; for he now perceives that his judgment was wrong, and that he consequently has merited the reproof. With לכן he draws a conclusion from this confession which the chastening word of Jehovah has presented to him: he has rashly pronounced an opinion upon things that lie beyond his power of comprehension, without possessing the necessary capacity of judging and perception. On the mode of writing ידעתּ, Cheth., which recalls the Syriac form med'et (with the pronominal suff. cast off), vid., Ges. 44, rem. 4; on the expression Job 42:2, comp. Gen 11:6. The repetition of Job 38:2 in Job 42:3 is not without some variations according to the custom of authors noticed in Psalter, i. 330. הגּדתּי, "I have affirmed," i.e., judged, is, Job 42:3, so that the notion of judging goes over into that of pronouncing a judgment. The clauses with ולא are circumstantial clauses, Ew. 341, a.
4 O hear now, and I will speak:
I will ask Thee, and instruct Thou me.
5 I had heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear,
And now mine eye hath seen Thee.
6 Therefore I am sorry, and I repent
In dust and ashes.
The words employed after the manner of entreaty, in Job 42:4, Job also takes from the mouth of Jehovah, Job 38:3; Job 40:7. Hitherto Jehovah has interrogated him, in order to bring him to a knowledge of his ignorance and weakness. Now, however, after he has thoroughly perceived this, he is anxious to put questions to Jehovah, in order to penetrate deeper and deeper into the knowledge of the divine power and wisdom. Now for the first time with him, the true, living perception of God has its beginning, being no longer effected by tradition (ל of the external cause: in consequence of the tidings which came to my ears, comp. Psa 18:45, comp. Isa 23:5), but by direct communication with God. In this new light he can no longer deceive himself concerning God and concerning himself; the delusion of the conflict now yields to the vision of the truth, and only penitential sorrow for his sin towards God remains to him. The object to אמאס is his previous conduct. נחם is the exact expression for μετανοεῖν, the godly sorrow of repentance not to be repented of. He repents (sitting) on dust and ashes after the manner of those in deep grief.
If the second speech of Jehovah no longer has to do with the exaltation and power of God in general, but is intended to answer Job's doubt concerning the justice of the divine government of the world, the long passage about the hippopotamus and the crocodile, Job 40:15-41:34, in this second speech seems to be devoid of purpose and connection. Even Eichhorn and Bertholdt on this account suppose that the separate portions of the two speeches of Jehovah have fallen into disorder. Stuhlmann, Bernstein, and De Wette, on the other hand, explained the second half of the description of the leviathan, Job 41:12-34, as a later interpolation; for this part is thought to be inflated, and to destroy the connection between Jehovah's concluding words, Job 41:2-3, and Job's answer, Job 42:2-6. Ewald forcibly rejected the whole section, Job 40:15, by ascribing it to the writer of Elihu's speeches-an opinion which he has again more recently abandoned. In fact, this section ought to have had a third poet as its writer. But he would be the double (Doppelgnger) of the first; for, deducting the somewhat tame לא אחרישׁ בדיו, Job 41:12, - which, however, is introduced by the interrupted description being resumed, in order now to begin in real earnest, - this section stands upon an equally exalted height with the rest of the book as a poetic production and lofty description; and since it has not only, as also Elihu's speeches, an Arabizing tinge, but also the poetic genius, the rich fountain of thought, the perfection of technical detail, in common with the rest of the book; and since the writer of the book of Job also betrays elsewhere an acquaintance with Egypt, and an especial interest in things Egyptian, the authenticity of the section is by no means doubted by us, but we freely adopt the originality of its present position.
But before one doubts the originality of its position, he ought, first of all, to make an earnest attempt to comprehend the portion in its present connection, into which it at any rate has not fallen from pure thoughtlessness. The first speech of Jehovah, moreover, was surprisingly different from what was to have been expected, and yet we recognised in it a deep consistency with the plan; perhaps the same thing is also the case in connection with the second.
After Job has answered the first speech of Jehovah by a confession of penitence, the second can have no other purpose but that of strengthening the conviction, which urges to this confession, and of deepening the healthful tone from which it proceeds. The object of censure here is no longer Job's contending with Jehovah in general, but Job's contending with Jehovah on account of the prosperity of the evil-doer, which is irreconcilable with divine justice; that contending by which the sufferer, in spite of the shadow which affliction casts upon him, supported the assertion of his own righteousness. Here also, as a result, the refutation follows in the only way consistent with the dignity of Jehovah, and so that Job must believe in order to perceive, and does not perceive in order not to be obliged to believe. Without arguing the matter with Job, as to why many things in the government of the world are thus and not rather otherwise, Jehovah challenges Job to take the government of the world into his own hand, and to give free course to his wrath, to cast down everything that is exalted, and to render the evil-doer for ever harmless. By thus thinking of himself as the ruler of the world, Job is obliged to recognise the cutting contrast of his feebleness and the divine rule, with which he has ventured to find fault; at the same time, however, he is taught, that - what he would never be able to do - God really punishes the ungodly, and must have wise purposes when, which He indeed might do, He does not allow the floods of His wrath to be poured forth immediately.
Thus far also Simson is agreed; but what is the design of the description of the two Egyptian monsters, which are regarded by him as by Ewald as out of place here? To show Job how little capable he is of governing the world, and how little he would be in a position to execute judgment on the evil-doer, two creatures are described to him, two unslain monsters of gigantic structure and invincible strength, which defy all human attack. These two descriptions are, we think, designed to teach Job how little capable of passing sentence upon the evil-doer he is, who cannot even draw a cord through the nose of the behmoth, and who, if he once attempted to attack the leviathan, would have reason to remember it so long as he lived, and would henceforth let it alone. It is perhaps an emblem that is not without connection with the book of Job, that these בהמות and לויתן (תנין), in the language of the Prophets and the Psalms, are the symbols of a worldly power at enmity with the God of redemption and His people. And wherefore should Job's confession, Job 42:2, not be suitably attached to the completed description of the leviathan, especially as the description is divided into two parts by the utterances of Jehovah, Job 41:2-3, which retrospectively and prospectively set it in the right light for Job?
Job's confession and tone of penitence are now perfected. He acknowledges the divine omnipotence which acts according to a wisely-devised scheme, in opposition to his total ignorance and feebleness. A world of divine wisdom, of wondrous thoughts of God, now lies before him, concerning which he knows nothing of himself, but would gladly learn a vast amount by the medium of divine instruction. To these mysteries his affliction also belongs. He perceives it now to be a wise decree of God, beneath which he adoringly bows, but it is nevertheless a mystery to him. Sitting in dust and ashes, he feels a deep contrition for the violence with which he has roughly handled and shaken the mystery, - now will it continue, that he bows beneath the enshrouded mystery? No, the final teaching of the book is not that God's rule demands faith before everything else; the final teaching is, that sufferings are for the righteous man the way to glory, and that his faith is the way to sight. The most craving desire, for the attainment of which Job hopes where his faith breaks forth from under the ashes, is this, that he will once more behold God, even if he should succumb to his affliction. This desire is granted him ere he yields. For he who hitherto has only heard of Jehovah, can now say: עתה עיני ראתך; his perception of God has entered upon an entirely new stage. But first of all God has only borne witness of Himself to him, to call him to repentance. Now, however, since the rust of pollution is purged away from Job's pure soul, He can also appear as his Vindicator and Redeemer. After all that was sinful in his speeches is blotted out by repentance, there remains only the truth of his innocence, which God Himself testifies to him, and the truth of his holding fast to God in the hot battle of temptation, by which, without his knowing it, he has frustrated the design of Satan.
7 And it came to pass, after Jehovah had spoken these words to Job, that Jehovah said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee and thy two friends: for ye have not spoken what is correct in reference to Me, as My servant Job.
In order that they may only maintain the justice of God, they have condemned Job against their better knowledge and conscience; therefore they have abandoned truth in favour of the justice of God, - a defence which, as Job has told the friends, God abhors. Nevertheless He is willing to be gracious.
8 And now take unto you seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer an offering for yourselves, and Job My servant shall pray for you; only his person will I accept, that I recompense not unto you your folly: for ye have not spoken what is correct in reference to Me, as My servant Job.
Schlottm., like Ew., translates נכונה what is sincere, and understands it of Job's inward truthfulness, in opposition to the words of the friends contrary to their better knowledge and conscience. But nkwn has not this signification anywhere: it signifies either directum = rectum or erectum = stabile, but not sincerum. However, objective truth and subjective truthfulness are here certainly blended in the notion "correct." The "correct" in Job's speeches consists of his having denied that affliction is always a punishment of sin, and in his holding fast the consciousness of his innocence, without suffering himself to be persuaded of the opposite. That denial was correct; and this truthfulness was more precious to God than the untruthfulness of the friends, who were zealous for the honour of God.
After Job has penitently acknowledged his error, God decides between him and the friends according to his previous supplicatory wish, Job 16:21. The heavenly Witness makes Himself heard on earth, and calls Job by the sweet name of עבדי. And the servant of Jehovah is not only favoured himself, but he also becomes the instrument of grace to sinners. As where his faith shone forth he became the prophet of his own and the friends' future, so now he is the priestly mediator between the friends and God. The friends against whom God is angry, but yet not as against רשׁעים, but only as against those who have erred, must bring an offering as their atonement, in connection with which Job shall enter in with a priestly intercession for them, and only him (כּי אם, non alium sed = non nisi), whom they regarded as one punished of God, will God accept (comp. Gen 19:21) - under what deep shame must it have opened their eyes!
Here also, as in the introduction of the book, it is the עולה which effects the atonement. It is the oldest and, according to its meaning, the most comprehensive of all the blood-offerings. Bullocks and rams are also the animals for the whole burnt-offerings of the Mosaic ritual; the proper animal for the sin-offering, however, is the he-goat together with the she-goat, which do not occur here, because the age and scene are strange to the Israelitish branching off of the חטאת from the עולה. The double seven gives the mark of the profoundest solemnity to the offering that was to be offered. The three also obey the divine direction; for although they have erred, God's will is above everything in their estimation, and they cheerfully subordinate themselves as friends to the friend.
(Note: Hence the Talmudic proverb (vid., Frst's Perlenschnre, S. 80): או איתותא או חברא כחברי איוב, either a friend like Job's friends or death!)
9 The Eliphaz of Teman, and Bildad of Shuach, and Zophar of Naamah, went forth and did as Jehovah had said to them; and Jehovah accepted the person of Job.
Jehovah has now risen up as a witness for Job, the spiritual redemption is already accomplished; and all that is wanting is, that He who has acknowledged and testified to Job as His servant should also act outwardly and visibly, and in mercy show Himself the righteous One.
10 And Jehovah turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends; and Jehovah increased everything that Job had possessed to the double.
רעהוּ is to be understood generally, as Job 16:21, and the בּ signifies not "because," but "when." The moment in which Job prayed for his friends became, as the climax of a life that is well-pleasing with God, the turning-point of glory to him. The Talmud has borrowed from here the true proverb: תחלה כל־המתפלל בעד חברו נענה, i.e., he who prays for his fellow-men always finds acceptance for himself first of all. The phrase (שׁבית) שׁוּב שׁבוּת signifies properly to turn captivity, then in general to make an end of misery; also in German, elend, old High Germ. elilenti, originally signified another, foreign country (vid., Psalter, ii. 192), since an involuntary removal from one's native land is regarded as the emblem of a lamentable condition. This phrase does not exactly stamp Job as the Mashal of the Israel of the Exile, but it favoured this interpretation. Now when Job was recovered, and doubly blessed by God, as is also promised to the Israel of the Exile, Isa 61:7 and freq., sympathizing friends also appeared in abundance.
11 Then came to him all his brothers, and all his sisters, and all his former acquaintances, and ate bread with him in his house, and expressed sympathy with him, and comforted him concerning all the evil which Jehovah had brought upon him; and each one gave him a Kesit, and each a golden ring.
Prosperity now brought those together again whom calamity had frightened away; for the love of men is scarcely anything but a number of coarse or delicate shades of selfishness. Now they all come and rejoice at Job's prosperity, viz., in order to bask therein. He, however, does not thrust them back; for the judge concerning the final motives of human love is God, and love which is shown to us is certainly more worthy of thanks than hatred. They are his guests again, and he leaves them to their own shame. And now their tongues, that were halting thus far, are all at once become eloquent: they mingle congratulations and comfort with their expressions of sorrow at his past misfortune. It is now an easy matter, that no longer demands their faith. They even bring him each one a present. In everything it is manifest that Jehovah has restored His servant to honour. Everything is now subordinated to him, who was accounted as one forsaken of God. קשׂיטה is a piece of metal weighed out, of greater value than the shekel, moreover indefinite, since it is nowhere placed in the order of the Old Testament system of weights and measures, adapted to the patriarchal age, Gen 33:19, in which Job's history falls.
(Note: According to b. Rosch ha-Schana, 26a, R. Akiba found the word קשׂיטה in Africa in the signification מעה (coin), as a Targ. (vid., Aruch, s.v. קשׂיטה) also translates; the Arab. קשׂת at least signifies balances and weight.)
נזמים are rings for the nose and ear; according to Exo 32:3, an ornament of the women and men.
The author now describes the manner of Job's being blessed.
12 And Jehovah blessed Job's end more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand she-asses.
The numbers of the stock of cattle, Job 1:3,
(Note: Job, like all the wealthier husbandmen in the present day, kept she-asses, although they are three times dearer than the male, because they are useful for their foals; it is not for the sake of their milk, for the Semites do not milk asses and horses. Moreover, the foals are also only a collateral gain, which the poor husbandman, who is only able to buy a he-ass, must forego. What renders this animal indispensable in husbandry is, that it is the common and (since camels are extremely rare among the husbandmen) almost exclusive means of transport. How would the husbandman, e.g., be able to carry his seed for sowing to a field perhaps six or eight miles distant? Not on the plough, as our farmers do, for the plough is transported on the back of the oxen in Syria. How would he be able to get the corn that was to be ground (tachne) to the mill, perhaps a day's journey distant; how carry wood and grass, how get the manure upon the field in districts that require to be manured, if he had not an ass? The camels, on the other hand, serve for harvesting (ragâd), and the transport of grain (ghalle), chopped straw (tibn), fuel (hatab), and the like, to the large inland towns, and to the seaports. Those village communities that do not possess camels for this purpose, hire them of the Arabs (nomads). - Wetzst.)
now appear doubled, but it is different with the children.
13 And he had seven sons and three daughters.
Therefore, instead of the seven sons and three daughters which he had, he receives just the same again, which is also so far a doubling, as deceased children also, according to the Old Testament view, are not absolutely lost, Sa2 12:23. The author of this book, in everything to the most minute thing consistent, here gives us to understand that with men who die and depart from us the relation is different from that with things which we have lost. The pausal שׁבענה (instead of שׁבעה), with paragogic âna, which otherwise is a fem. suff. (Ges. 91, rem. 2), here, however, standing in a prominent position, is an embellishment somewhat violently brought over from the style of the primeval histories (Gen 21:29; Rut 1:19): a septiad of sons. The names of the sons are passed over in silence, but those of the daughters are designedly given.
14 And the one was called Jemma, and the second Kezia, and the third Keren ha-pch.
The subject of ויּקרא is each and every one, as Isa 9:5 (comp. supra, Job 41:25, existimaverit quis). The one was called ימימה (Arab. jemâme, a dove) on account of her dove's eyes; the other קציעה, cassia, because she seemed to be woven out of the odour of cinnamon; and the third קרן הפּוּך, a horn of paint (lxx Hellenizing: κέρας ἀμαλθείας), which is not exactly beautiful in itself, but is the principal cosmetic of female beauty (vid., Lane, Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, transl.): the third was altogether the most beautiful, possessing a beauty heightened by artificial means. They were therefore like three graces. The writer here keeps to the outward appearance, not disowning his Old Testament standpoint. That they were what their names implied, he says in
15 And in all the land there were not found women so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers.
On נמצא, followed by the acc., vid., Ges. 143, 1, b. להם, etc., referring to the daughters, is explained from the deficiency in Hebrew in the distinction of the genders. Job 42:15 sounds more Arabian than Israelitish, for the Thora only recognises a daughter as heiress where there are no sons, Num 27:8 The writer is conscious that he is writing an extra-Israelitish pre-Mosaic history. The equal distribution of the property again places before our eyes the pleasing picture of family concord in the commencement of the history; at the same time it implies that Job will not have been wanting in son-in-law for his fair, richly-dowried daughters, - a fact which Job 42:16 establishes:
16 And Job lived after this a hundred and forty years, and saw his children and his children's children to four generations.
In place of ויּרא, the Keri gives the unusual Aorist form ויּראה, which, however, does also occur elsewhere (e.g., Sa1 17:42). The style of the primeval histories, which we here everywhere recognise, Gen 50:23 (comp. Isa 53:10), is retained to the last words.
17 And Job died, old, and weary of life.
In the very same manner Genesis, Gen 25:8, Gen 35:29, records the end of the patriarchs. They died satiated of life; for long life is a gift of God, but neither His greatest nor His final gift.
A New Testament poet would have closed the book of Job differently. He would have shown us how, becoming free from his inward conflict of temptation, and being divinely comforted, Job succumbs to his disease, but waves his palm of victory before the throne of God among the innumerable hosts of those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. The Old Testament poet, however, could begin his book with a celestial scene, but not end it with the same. True, in some passages, which are like New Testament luminous points in the Old Testament poem, Job dares to believe and to hope that God will indeed acknowledge him after death. But this is a purely individual aspiration of faith - the extreme of hope, which comes forth against the extreme of fear. The unravelment does not correspond to this aspiration. The view of heaven which a Christian poet would have been able to give at the close of the book is only rendered possible by the resurrection and ascension of Christ. So far, what Oehler in his essay on the Old Testament Wisdom (1854, S. 28) says, in opposition to those who think the book of Job is directed against the Mosaic doctrine of retribution, is true: that, on the contrary, the issue of the book sanctions the present life phase of this doctrine anew. But the comfort which this theologically and artistically incomparable book presents to us is substantially none other than that of the New Testament. For the final consolation of every sufferer is not dependent upon the working of good genii in the heavens, but has its seat in God's love, without which even heaven would become a very hell. Therefore the book of Job is also a book of consolation for the New Testament church. From it we learn that we have not only to fight with flesh and blood, but with the prince of this world, and to accomplish our part in the conquest of evil, to which, from Gen 3:15 onwards, the history of the world tends; that faith and avenging justice are absolutely distinct opposites; that the right kind of faith clings to divine love in the midst of the feeling of wrath; that the incomprehensible ways of God always lead to a glorious issue; and that the suffering of the present time is far outweighed by the future glory - a glory not always revealed in this life and visibly future, but the final glory above. The nature of faith, the mystery of the cross, the right practice of the care of souls, - this, and much besides, the church learns from this book, the whole teaching of which can never be thoroughly learned and completely exhausted.