PART I—PROLOGUE OR HISTORICAL
INTRODUCTION IN PROSE—(Job 1:1-2:13)
The Holiness of Job, His Wealth,
1. Uz—north of Arabia-Deserta, lying
towards the Euphrates. It was in this neighborhood, and not in that of
Idumea, that the Chaldeans and Sabeans who plundered him dwell. The
Arabs divide their country into the north, called Sham, or "the left";
and the south, called Yemen, or "the right"; for they faced east; and
so the west was on their left, and the south on their right.
Arabia-Deserta was on the east, Arabia-Petræa on the west, and
Arabia-Felix on the south.
Job—The name comes from an
Arabic word meaning "to return," namely, to God, "to repent,"
referring to his end [Eichorn]; or
rather from a Hebrew word signifying one to whom enmity was
shown, "greatly tried" [Gesenius].
Significant names were often given among the Hebrews, from some event
of later life (compare Ge 4:2,
Abel—a "feeder" of sheep). So the emir of Uz was by general
consent called Job, on account of his "trials." The only other person
so called was a son of Issachar (Ge 46:13).
perfect—not absolute or faultless
perfection (compare Job 9:20; Ec 7:20), but integrity, sincerity, and
consistency on the whole, in all relations of life (Ge
6:9; 17:1; Pr 10:9; Mt 5:48).
It was the fear of God that kept Job from evil (Pr 8:13).
3. she-asses—prized on account of their
milk, and for riding (Jud 5:10).
Houses and lands are not mentioned among the emir's wealth, as nomadic
tribes dwell in movable tents and live chiefly by pasture, the right to
the soil not being appropriated by individuals. The "five hundred yoke
of oxen" imply, however, that Job tilled the soil. He seems also to
have had a dwelling in a town, in which respect he differed from the
patriarchs. Camels are well called "ships of the desert," especially
valuable for caravans, as being able to lay in a store of water that
suffices them for days, and to sustain life on a very few thistles or
household—(Ge 26:14). The other rendering which the
Hebrew admits, "husbandry," is not so probable.
men of the east—denoting in Scripture
those living east of Palestine; as the people of North Arabia-Deserta
(Jud 6:3; Eze 25:4).
4. every one his day—namely, the
birthday (Job 3:1).
Implying the love and harmony of the members of the family, as
contrasted with the ruin which soon broke up such a scene of happiness.
The sisters are specified, as these feasts were not for revelry,
which would be inconsistent with the presence of sisters. These latter
were invited by the brothers, though they gave no invitations in
5. when the days of their feasting were gone
about—that is, at the end of all the birthdays collectively,
when the banquets had gone round through all the families.
Job … sanctified—by offering up
as many expiatory burnt offerings as he had sons (Le 1:4). This was done "in the morning" (Ge 22:3;
Le 6:12). Jesus also began
devotions early (Mr 1:35). The
holocaust, or burnt offering, in patriarchal times, was offered
(literally, "caused to ascend," referring to the smoke ascending to
heaven) by each father of a family officiating as priest in behalf of
cursed God—The same Hebrew word
means to "curse," and to "bless"; Gesenius says, the original sense is to "kneel," and
thus it came to mean bending the knee in order to invoke either a
blessing or a curse. Cursing is a perversion of blessing, as all sin is
of goodness. Sin is a degeneracy, not a generation. It is not, however,
likely that Job should fear the possibility of his sons cursing
God. The sense "bid farewell to," derived from the blessing
customary at parting, seems sufficient (Ge 47:10). Thus Umbreit translates "may have dismissed God from
their hearts"; namely, amid the intoxication of pleasure (Pr 20:1). This act illustrates Job's "fear of
Satan, Appearing before God, Falsely Accuses Job.
6. sons of God—angels (Job 38:7; 1Ki
22:19). They present
themselves to render account of their "ministry" in other parts of the
universe (Heb 1:14).
the Lord—Hebrew, Jehovah, the self-existing God, faithful to His
promises. God says (Ex 6:3) that
He was not known to the patriarchs by this name. But, as the name
occurs previously in Ge 2:7-9,
&c., what must be meant is, not until the time of delivering Israel
by Moses was He known peculiarly and publicly in the character
which the name means; namely, "making things to be," fulfilling the
promises made to their forefathers. This name, therefore, here, is no
objection against the antiquity of the Book of Job.
Satan—The tradition was widely spread
that he had been the agent in Adam's temptation. Hence his name
is given without comment. The feeling with which he looks on Job is
similar to that with which he looked on Adam in Paradise: emboldened by
his success in the case of one not yet fallen, he is confident that the
piety of Job, one of a fallen race, will not stand the test. He had
fallen himself (Job 4:19; 15:15; Jude 6). In the Book of Job, Satan is first
designated by name: "Satan," Hebrew, "one who lies in
wait"; an "adversary" in a court of justice (1Ch
21:1; Ps 109:6; Zec 3:1);
"accuser" (Re 12:10).
He has the law of God on his side by man's sin, and against man. But
Jesus Christ has fulfilled the law for us; justice is once more on
man's side against Satan (Isa 42:21);
and so Jesus Christ can plead as our Advocate against the adversary.
"Devil" is the Greek name—the "slanderer," or "accuser."
He is subject to God, who uses his ministry for chastising man. In
Arabic, Satan is often applied to a serpent (Ge 3:1). He is called prince of this world
12:31); the god of this world
4:4); prince of the power of
the air (Eph
2:2). God here questions him,
in order to vindicate His own ways before angels.
7. going to and fro—rather, "hurrying
rapidly to and fro." The original idea in Arabic is the heat of
haste (Mt 12:43; 1Pe 5:8). Satan seems to have had some peculiar
connection with this earth. Perhaps he was formerly its ruler under
God. Man succeeded to the vice royalty (Ge 1:26; Ps 8:6). Man then lost it and Satan became
prince of this world. The Son of man (Ps 8:4)—the representative man, regains
the forfeited inheritance (Re 11:15).
Satan's replies are characteristically curt and short. When the angels
appear before God, Satan is among them, even as there was a Judas among
8. considered—Margin, "set thine
heart on"; that is, considered attentively. No true servant of God
escapes the eye of the adversary of God.
9. fear God for naught—It is a mark of
the children of Satan to sneer and not give credit to any for
disinterested piety. Not so much God's gifts, as God Himself is "the
reward" of His people (Ge 15:1).
10. his substance is
increased—literally, "spread out like a flood"; Job's herds
covered the face of the country.
11. curse thee to thy face—in antithesis
to God's praise of him (Job 1:8), "one
that feareth God." Satan's words are too true of many. Take away their
prosperity and you take away their religion (Mal 3:14).
12. in thy power—Satan has no power
against man till God gives it. God would not touch Job with His own
hand, though Satan asks this (Job 1:11, "thine"), but He allows the enemy to do
Job 1:13-22. Job, in
Affliction, Blesses God, &c.
13. wine—not specified in Job 1:4. The mirth inspired by the "wine" here
contrasts the more sadly with the alarm which interrupted it.
14. the asses feeding beside
them—Hebrew, "she asses." A graphic picture of rural
repose and peace; the more dreadful, therefore, by contrast is the
sudden attack of the plundering Arabs.
15. Sabeans—not those of Arabia-Felix,
but those of Arabia-Deserta, descending from Sheba, grandson of Abraham
and Keturah (Ge 25:3). The
Bedouin Arabs of the present day resemble, in marauding habits, these
Sabeans (compare Ge 16:12).
I alone am escaped—cunningly contrived
by Satan. One in each case escapes (Job 1:16, 17, 19), and brings the same kind of message.
This was to overwhelm Job, and leave him no time to recover from the
rapid succession of calamities—"misfortunes seldom come
16. fire of God—Hebraism for "a mighty
fire"; as "cedars of God"—"lofty cedars" [Ps 80:10]. Not lightning, which would not consume
all the sheep and servants. Umbreit understands it of the burning wind of
Arabia, called by the Turks "wind of poison." "The prince of the power
of the air" [Eph 2:2] is
permitted to have control over such destructive agents.
17. Chaldeans—not merely robbers as the
Sabeans; but experienced in war, as is implied by "they set in
array three bands" (Hab 1:6-8).
Rawlinson distinguishes three periods:
1. When their seat of empire was in the south, towards the confluence
of the Tigris and Euphrates. The Chaldean period, from 2300 B.C. to 1500 B.C. In this period was Chedorlaomer (Ge 14:1), the Kudur of Hur or Ur of the
Chaldees, in the Assyrian inscriptions, and the conqueror of Syria. 2.
From 1500 to 625 B.C., the Assyrian
period. 3. From 625 to 538 B.C. (when
Cyrus the Persian took Babylon), the Babylonian period. "Chaldees" in
Hebrew—Chasaim. They were akin, perhaps, to the
Hebrews, as Abraham's sojourn in Ur, and the name "Chesed," a nephew of
Abraham, imply. The three bands were probably in order to attack
the three separate thousands of Job's camels (Job 1:3).
19. a great wind from the
wilderness—south of Job's house. The tornado came the more
violently over the desert, being uninterrupted (Isa 21:1; Ho
the young men—rather, "the young
people"; including the daughters (so in Ru 2:21).
20. Job arose—not necessarily from
sitting. Inward excitement is implied, and the beginning to do
anything. He had heard the other messages calmly, but on hearing of the
death of his children, then he arose; or, as Eichorn translates, he started up (2Sa 13:31). The rending of the mantle was
the conventional mark of deep grief (Ge 37:34). Orientals wear a tunic or shirt, and
loose pantaloons; and over these a flowing mantle (especially great
persons and women). Shaving the head was also usual in grief (Jer
41:5; Mic 1:16).
21. Naked—(1Ti 6:7). "Mother's womb" is poetically the
earth, the universal mother (Ec 5:15; 12:7; Ps 139:15). Job herein realizes God's assertion
1:8) against Satan's (Job 1:11). Instead of cursing, he blesses
the name of Jehovah (Hebrew). The
name of Jehovah, is Jehovah Himself, as manifested to us
in His attributes (Isa 9:6).
22. nor charged God foolishly—rather,
"allowed himself to commit no folly against God" [Umbreit]. Job 2:10 proves that this is the meaning. Not as
Margin "attributed no folly to God." Hasty words against God,
though natural in the bitterness of grief, are folly; literally,
an "insipid, unsavory" thing (Job 6:6; Jer 23:13, Margin). Folly in Scripture is
continually equivalent to wickedness. For when man sins, it is himself,
not God, whom he injures (Pr 8:36). We
are to submit to trials, not because we see the reasons for them, nor
yet as though they were matters of chance, but because God wills
them, and has a right to send them, and has His own good reasons in