The second chapter chapter concludes the “Introductory section.” It consists of three
· firstly, the ground of his further trial containing an account of Satan’s second
appearance in the courts of heaven, and of a second colloquy between him
and the Almighty. (vs. 1-6);
· secondly, the sequel to this colloquy, viz. Satan’s further affliction of Job, and
his conduct under it. (vs. 7-10); and
· thirdly, an account of the arrival of Job’s three special friends to mourn
with him and to comfort him; and of their behavior during the first seven
days after their arrival
The narrative is characterized by remarkable simplicity and directness. It has a decided
air of antiquity about it, and presents but few linguistic difficulties.
1 “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present
themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to
present himself before the LORD.” There is no “again” in the original. The
words used are an exact repetition of those contained in ch. 1:6. But they mark, no
doubt, a second occasion on which the angelic host came to present themselves
before the throne of God, and Satan came with them. To present himself before the
Lord. These words are additional to those used in the former passage. We
may gather from them, that, whereas on the former occasion Satan came
only to observe, and with no intention of drawing God’s special attention
to himself, he now had such intention, and looked forward to a colloquy.
He anticipated, doubtless, that the circumstances of Job’s probation would
be referred to, and he had prepared himself to make answer.
2 “And the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou?
And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the
earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (see the comment on ch. 1:7,
of which this is an almost exact repetition).
3 “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant
Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an
upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he
holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him,
to destroy him without cause.” And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast
thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth,
a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
Thus far is identical with ch.1:1 (quod vide). The rest of the verse is additional,
having reference to the conduct of Job under his earlier trials (Ibid. vs. 20-22).
And still he holdeth fast his integrity. This has been justly called “the
key-note of the whole book”. Satan had declared that Job’s
integrity rested on no solid basis, and would easily be overthrown and
disappear. God, confident in His servant’s faithfulness and truth, had
allowed him to assail it. What was the result? God declares it with His own
mouth. Job’s “integrity” had not been wrested from him; he still maintained
it (Ibid. vs.21-22), as he was about to do till the end (ch. 42:1-6).
Although thou movedst me against him (see ch.1:9-11), to destroy
him; literally, to swallow him up; i.e. to ruin him, overwhelm him with
calamities. Without cause; i.e. “when he had done nothing to deserve such
4 “And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all
that a man hath will he give for his life.” And Satan answered the Lord,
and said, Skin for skin. No doubt a proverbial expression, resembling “Eye for eye,
tooth for tooth; Tit for tat,” and the like; but not expressive of retaliation. Satan
means that, to keep his own “skin” intact, a man will sacrifice another’s “skin;”
even that of his nearest and dearest. Job, he insinuates, submitted to the loss of his
children without a murmur, because he feared that otherwise God would
stretch forth his hand against his person, and smite it or destroy it. He
cannot imagine any motive for submission and apparent resignation but a
selfish one (compare ch.1:9). Yea, all that a man hath will he give for
his life; i.e. “a man will submit to the loss, not only of all his possessions,
but even of those whom he loves best, to save his own life — he will do
anything for that.” So the “false accuser.” All the numerous acts of self-sacrifice
which human history presents, and has presented from the first, are ignored.
Life is very, very, valuable, much more than material possessions. In origin, it is
of the breath of God’s Spirit! (Genesis 2:7) Physical life, tainted by sin, is
doomed to decay and dissolution, while spiritual life and the riches of the
soul ENDURES FOR EVER! (Matthew 6:19-21)
5 “But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh;”
(i.e. “his person” — any part of his body) “and he will curse thee to
thy face.” (See the comment on ch.1:11)
6 “And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but
save his life.” And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold he is in thine hand;
i.e. “he is in thy power, to do with him as thou pleasest” — except in one
respect. Again it is strongly marked that Satan’s power is under God’s
control, and extends only so far as God allows. But save his life; rather,
only spare his life (Revised Version). The didactic purposes for which God
was allowing his faithful servant to be tried in the furnace of affliction
would have been frustrated by Job’s removal from the earth. Individually
he might equally well have been compensated in another world; but then
the lesson of his example to living men, and the lesson of his story to all
future generations of mankind, WOULD HAVE BEEN LOST! Besides,
God but rarely, in the old world, gave a faithful servant, still in the full vigor of life
(ch. 42:16-17), “over unto death” (Psalm 118:18).
A Move for a New Trial (vs. 1-6)
· THE OLD OCCASION RETURNED.
Ø The gathering of the sons of God. The recurrence of this celestial scene
reminds us of:
o the immutable sovereignty of Jehovah, who, on this second occasion
as on the first, still enthroned amidst the principalities and powers of
heaven — the devils also being subject to Him (I Peter. 3:22);
o the permanence of moral obligation in the heavenly world and
amongst angels as well as on the earth, neither lapse of time nor change
of circumstances having the slightest effect in releasing God’s intelligent
creatures from the bonds of responsibility; and
o the constancy and cheerfulness with which the inhabitants of the
upper world delight to do God’s holy will — an example of obedience
proposed for the study and imitation of believers (Matthew 6:10).
Ø The reappearance of the adversary. (Job placed under double jeopardy –
CY – 2013). If, on the former occasion, the entrance of Satan amongst God’s
celestial sons might permissibly be regarded as an impertinent intrusion, in
the present instance his return must be held as having taken place in
accordance with a tacit understanding that, in due course, he should appear
to report the result of his experiment with the patriarch, which, perhaps,
may explain the introduction of the words, “to present himself before
the Lord,” omitted from the account of the first assembly.
· THE OLD CONTROVERSY RESUMED.
Ø The patriarch’s enemy interrogated. “From whence comest thou?”
o God’s universal cognizance of things that transpire on earth
(ch. 28:10, 24; 34:22);
o God’s perpetual surveillance of the devil in his movements; and
o God’s constant watchfulness against his attacks (Revelation 3:10).
Ø The patriarch’s piety commended. “Hast thou considered my servant
Job?” (see homiletics on ch.1:1, 8). Whether or not containing “a
covert sneer at the baffled adversary,” the question reminds us of:
o God’s faithfulness towards His people. Notwithstanding all that had
occurred, Job was still God’s servant, and God as ready to own him for
His servant as when the patriarch was rejoicing in the fullness of
Prosperity (Isaiah 44:21; 54:10).
o God’s judgment concerning His people. God can always distinguish
between a man and his surroundings. The Omniscient judges no one by
his material environment, but by the character of his heart (I Samuel 16:7;
II Samuel 7:20; Psalm 7:9).
o God’s affection for His people. As Job’s afflictions had not destroyed
his piety, so neither had they alienated God’s love. Never in the day of
calamity does Jehovah renounce His saints, but rather, because of
tribulation, clings to them with fonder affection (I Samuel 12:22;
Psalm 91:15; Romans 11:2; II Timothy 2:19; Revelation 2:9).
Ø The patriarch’s sincerity attested.
o The Divine satisfaction with the patriarch. “He still holdeth fast
his integrity.” Constancy in piety is a rare jewel in the saint’s casket,
lends a special luster to his other virtues, is ever highly prized by its
possessor, and never fails to elicit Heaven’s commendation. The Divine
approbation also, besides being an ample recompense for all the saint’s
trials (Romans 8:18), is the only sure test of genuine religion (II Corinthians
10:18), the greatest honor a saint can receive (Matthew 10:32), and
the final portion of those who hold fast their integrity to the end (Malachi
3:17; Revelation 3:5).
Ø The Divine indignation against Satan. “Although thou movedst me to
destroy him.” See the widely differing estimates of trouble taken by God
and Satan. What the devil called a touch God calls a swallowing up:
that marks the tenderness or God’s heart. Note the different relations in
which God and Satan stood to Job’s affliction — God acting, and the devil
tempting; marking God’s sovereignty, but Satan’s responsibility. “God’s
afflicting of His people is (so to say) a blowing of the bellows to kindle His
displeasure against wicked instruments (Isaiah 47:5-6; Zechariah 1:15).
Ø The Divine sorrow about Himself. “Thou movedst me… without
cause.” Indicating the reluctance with which God in any case proceeds
against a saint (Lamentations 3:33), and the regret which He felt in this
case, since He knew so well there was no sufficient reason for entertaining
a suspicion against the patriarch’s piety. Let it teach us that though all
men have sins enough to be the meritorious cause, yet oftentimes sin is not
the moving cause of their afflictions.
· THE OLD CALUMNY REVIVED. Job’s victory in the previous
conflict is by the devil:
Ø Tacitly admitted. Satan finds it impossible to repel the statements
advanced by Jehovah concerning His servant. Saints should study to live
so that their piety cannot be contradicted, however much it may be
aspersed by Satan and wicked men, and that God, when He speaks in
commendation of their integrity, may be justified.
Ø Reasonably explained. On the ground that the trial was not severe
enough. “Skin for skin,” etc. — a proverb, which, however explained,
practically charges the patriarch with unnatural barbarity in disregarding
the loss of his children since his own skin was saved, as well as with intense
and revolting selfishness in making the supreme consideration, in all his
thoughts and calculations, the preservation of his own life.
Ø Wholly undervalued. As in his (the devil’s) estimation, proving nothing
and contributing nothing to the solution of the grand problem in debate.
Hence he does not hesitate to suggest that the matter should a second
time be submitted to the ordeal of trial.
· THE OLD PROPOSITION REPEATED. “But put forth thine hand
now;” which demand was certainly:
Ø Presumptuous; considering by whom it was made, Satan, and to whom
it was addressed, Jehovah; thus showing the illimitable pride of the devil
Ø Unnecessary; remembering the person against whom it was directed, and
the issue of the preceding trial to which he had been subjected.
Ø Cruel; seeing that Job had already been afflicted by the double stroke of
bankruptcy and bereavement, and this was a request that God would
aggravate his misery by laying His hand upon his person. But who would
ever look for humane and tender feelings in a devil? (It is vain to
expect mercy from someone who will not do justice! – CY – 2013)
Ø Malignant; when regard is had to its object and motive — the latter
being hostility to God and hatred of piety; the former the overthrow
of Job’s religion and the damnation of Job’s person.
· THE OLD PERMISSION RENEWED. “Behold, he is in thine hand.”
The patriarch was again delivered up into the power of the adversary.
Ø Sovereignly; God having a perfect right to dispose of the persons of His
people, no less than their properties.
Ø Really; to be tried in whatever manner his Satanic ingenuity might
devise, always, of course, within the prescribed limits.
Ø Immediately; from this time forward being rendered accessible to the
hostile assaults of the adversary. Yet:
Ø Reservedly; with certain restrictions as to his life, which was not to be
taken from him. And also, one cannot help thinking:
Ø Confidently; without the slightest apprehension of an unfavorable issue
to the trial, so high was the estimation in which God held His servant.
Ø Concerning the devil. That he is seldom satisfied with only one attempt
against the virtue of a saint; that he is exceedingly unwilling to admit
himself defeated on the field of spiritual conflict; and that he ever plants his
fiercest batteries against the citadel of a saint’s integrity.
Ø Concerning the saint. That he need hardly anticipate a long period of
exemption from either trials or temptations; that whatever calamities befall
him, he should labor to discern God’s providential hand in their
occurrence; and that he, may confidently trust God will not give him
over completely to the devil.
Ø Concerning God. That though He may suffer His saints to be tried, He
does not cease to love them; that though He may lengthen Satan’s chain,
He doesn’t loosen it; and that, though He may sometimes listen to Satan’s
charges against the saints, He never believes them.
7 “So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote
Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.” So went Satan
forth from the presence of the Lord (compare ch.1:12, ad fin.). Satan, we may
be sure, is always anxious to quit the immediate presence of God; for “what
communion hath light with darkness?” (II Corinthians 6:14). But now he had a
special motive for haste in his anxiety to put Job to the test. (Again, note
the malice and malignity of Satan. – CY – 2013). Doubtless he was confident that
he would triumph. And smote Job with sore boils (a malignant inflammation.
It has been generally concluded, from the scattered notices of his malady contained
in the Book of Job (especially ch.7:4-5; 17:1; 19:17-20; and 30:17-19), that the
disease with which Satan “smote Job’ was elephantiasis — sometimes called
Elephantiasis Arabum — a marked and strongly developed form of leprosy.
Elephantiasis is thus popularly described by Canon Cook, in the ‘Speaker’s
Commentary,’ vol. 4. p. 26; “An intense heat, a burning and ulcerous swelling,
or leprosy in its most terrific form, taking its name from the appearance of the
body, which is covered with a knotty, cancerous bark like the hide of an
elephant; the whole frame is in a state of progressive dissolution, ending slowly but
surely in death.” A modern scientific work gives the following more exact,
but more technical, account of the disease: “A non-contagious disease
characterized by recurrence of febrile paroxysms, attended by
inflammation, and progressive hypertrophy of the integument and areolar
tissue, chiefly of the extremities and genital organs; and occasionally by
swelling of the lymphatic glands, enlargement and dilatation of the
lymphatics, and in some cases by the coexistence of chyluria, and the
presence in the blood of certain nematode haematozoa, together with
various symptoms of a morbid or depraved state of nutrition” (Quain’s
‘Dictionary of Medicine,’ vol. 1. p. 431). The disease is not now regarded
as incurable, though, without an entire change of scone and climate, it is
regarded as very seldom cured (ibid., p. 432). From the solo of his foot
unto his crown. Elephantiasis is generally local, attacking some part of the
body, as, especially, the extremities or the genital organs. But in the worst
forms, the entire body suffers. (For a 21st century description and photographs,
I recommend surfing the net for “elephantasis” – CY – 2013)
8 “And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down
among the ashes.” And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal.
“The surface of the integuments,” says Dr. Quain, “is often much inflamed, and
sometimes discharges a serous ichor, or chyle-like fluid, according to the
extent to which the lymphatics are engaged in the particular ease” (ibid., p.
432). This “serous or lymph-like fluid” is occasionally “acrid and
offensive.” Job seems to have used his potsherd to scrape it away.
And he sat down among the ashes. Not as a curative process, or even as an
alleviation of his pains, but simply as was the custom of mourners (compare
Isaiah 47:3; 58:5; Jeremiah 6:26; Ezekiel 27:30; Jonah 3:6).
9 “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity?
curse God, and die.” Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain
thine integrity? Job’s wife had said nothing when the other calamities had taken
place — then she had “refrained her tongue, and kept silence,” though
probably with some difficulty. Now she can endure no longer. To see her
husband so afflicted, and so patient under his afflictions, is more than she
can bear. Her mind is weak and ill regulated, and she suffers herself to
become Satan’s ally and her husband’s worst enemy. It is noticeable that
she urges her husband to do exactly that which Satan had suggested
that he would do (ch. 1:11; here –v.5), and had evidently wished him to do,
thus fighting on his side, and increasing her husband’s difficulties The only
other mention of her (ch.19:17) implies that she was rather a hindrance than
a help to Job. Curse God, and die; i.e. “renounce God, put all regard for
him away from thee, even though he kill thee for so doing.” Job’s wife
implies that death is preferable to such a life as Job now leads and must
expect to lead henceforward.
10 “But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women
speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and
shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”
But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish
women speaketh; rather, as one of the vile (or impious) women speaketh.
Nabal, the term used, is expressive, not of mere natural folly, but of that
perversion of the intellect which comes on men WHEN THEIR
HEARTS AND UNDERSTANDINGS ARE CORRUPTED AND
DEGRADED! (see II Samuel 13:13; Psalm 14:1; Isaiah 32:6) What?
shall we receive good at the hand of God and shall we not receive evil?
Job remembers all the good which he has received of God during his past life,
all the blessings and prosperity bestowed on him (<180102>Job 1:2, 3), and asks —
Would it be fair or right to take all the good things as a matter of course,
and then to murmur if evil things are sent? He accepts both prosperity and
affliction as coming from God, and expresses himself as willing to submit to
His will. But he has, perhaps, scarcely attained to the conviction that whatever
God sends to his faithful servants is always that which is best for them — that
afflictions, in fact, are blessings in disguise, and ought to be received with
gratitude, not with murmuring (compare Hebrews 12:5-11). In all this
did not Job sin with his lips. Thus far, that is, Job “kept the door of his
mouth” strictly, righteously, piously. Later on he was not always so
entirely free from fault.
Job’s Second Trial (vs. 7-10)
· THE TWOFOLD ASSAULT UPON THE PATRIARCH.
Ø The infliction of a loathsome disease.
o Its author. Satan. That diseases generally come through violation of
hygienic laws is matter of everyday observation and of special scientific
affirmation. But that Job’s malady had a diabolic origin, as had also
many of the physical ailments that prevailed in the East about the time of
Christ, must be accepted on the ground of revelation. And as in Christ’s
Day Beelzebub was permitted to wield a larger influence than usual over
men’s bodies, that THE POWER OF CHRIST in destroying the
works of the devil might be the more conspicuously displayed, so
the exceptional ability of Satan to produce bodily malady in Job’s case
existed solely for a special purpose. (And it seems that this will be the
case in the last days before Christ’s Second Advent. In our day, a
lot of satanic mileage is gotten from:
§ Sexual immorality and DEVIANCY
§ Corrupt music and entertainment – CY – 2013)
o Its nature. “Sore boils;” supposed, and with probability, to have been a
malignant form of elephantiasis, a disorder having many of the
characteristics of leprosy. From incidental allusions scattered throughout
the book, it appears to have been:
§ an exceedingly painful disease, accompanied in its early
stages by severe bodily itching (ch. 2:8; 9:17-18), and attended
in its progress with extreme debility, and utter prostration of mind
as well as body, leading to disturbed slumbers, terrifying dreams,
and even suicidal temptations (ch.6:4, 11,14; 7:4,13-14).
§ A quickly spreading disease, rapidly covering the body with
pustules, or boils, sometimes from head to foot (ch.2:7; 7:5).
§ A certainly corrupting disease, producing emaciation, and
causing rottenness in the flesh and bones (ch.13:28; 16:8; 33:21).
§ A truly loathsome disease, rendering the wretched sufferer
an object of disgust even to his nearest relatives and friends
(ch.19:13-19) and ultimately, though not immediately,
§ a terminal disease (ch.16:22; 17:1; 30:23).
o Its design. To try the patriarch:
§ by wearing out his strength, and so rendering him more
accessible to the entrance of diabolic temptations;
§ by making him an object of abhorrence to mankind, and so
in a manner cutting him off from human sympathy; and
§ by leading him to regard his malady as a special visitation from
Heaven, and so tempting him to entertain harsh thoughts of
Ø The injection of a vehement temptation.
o The time when it was made. Not at the beginning of his malady, but
after it had somewhat developed, when his strength was impaired, his
nerves were unstrung, and his mind was depressed, and when, no longer
permitted to enter the dwellings of men, he sat himself down upon the
mezbele, or ash-heap, outside his dwelling — an object of loathing
and disgust to passers-by.
o The person through whom it was directed. Not the devil himself, since
then it would scarcely have acquired the force of a temptation; nor even a
friend like Eliphaz, Bildad, or Zophar — counselors who afterwards fared
rather badly at Job’s hands; but she who of all on earth was his nearest
and dearest-his wife, the bride of his youth, the mother of his noble
sons and fair girls now dead, the companion of his joys and sorrows.
Beyond question, it was politic to attack the patriarch through his wife;
and probably for this reason she was spared — not because having her
was a greater trial to the good man than losing her would have been,
but because the devil wanted a tool against her husband (of. Adam’s
temptation through Eve).
o The counsel which was offered. “Bless God” (sc. for the last time; i.e.
“renounce Him”), “and die!” perhaps words of wifely sympathy wrung
from her loving bosom by the cruel sufferings which had been heaped
upon her husband; certainly words of passionate vehemence calculated
to wear down the opposition of a sufferer growing every day feebler
through incessant pain; and words of much plausibility, suggesting a
thought which seemingly had much in its favor, that his sufferings were
to be ascribed purely to his religion; but also WORDS OF
ESSENTIAL WICKEDNESS since not only was the thought they
suggested untrue, but THE ADVICE ITSELF WAS WRONG!.
Ø The inroad of physical disease he met with patient submission.
“He took a potsherd and scraped himself withal.” Indulging in no
malady had so far developed that his presence became offensive to his
friends and neighbors, quietly retiring to the ash-heap.
o Admirable meekness!
o Exquisite patience!
o Incomparable submission!
“In all this Job sinned not with his lips.” (v. 10)
Ø The entrance of wifely temptation he encountered with:
o Deserved rebuke. “Thou speakest as one of the foolish
women speaketh.” Language distinctly bearing that the
popular estimate of Job’s wife, which makes her to have
been a sort of Oriental shrew, is incorrect, implying as it does
that the patriarch was surprised to hear her talk so much out
of character, not like a saint and the wife of a saint as she was,
but like one of the foolish or ungodly women. Carried away by:
the tumultuousness of her womanly feeling, in a moment of
passionate thoughtlessness she had:
§ lost her self-control, and
§ given utterance to desperate words,
which were such as to call for censure; and the faithful
husband, much as he loved his wife, and laden as he was
himself with misery, did not shrink from administering the
Ø Lofty resignation. “Shall we receive good at the hand of the
Lord, and shall we not receive evil?” (v. 10). The voice, not of
stoical indifference, or of heartless despair, or of cold, callous,
reluctant acquiescence in a fate which cannot be escaped,
but of intelligent and cheerful submission to A PROVINDECE
which he recognizes to be at once righteous and good. “In all
this Job sinned not with his lips.” (Ibid).
Ø That God’s saints in this world have sometimes to endure trial upon trial!
Ø That periods of protracted suffering are spiritually more dangerous than
sharp and sudden strokes of greater severity.
Ø That the fiercest trials often arise at unexpected moments, and from least
Ø That the most painful temptation a good man can experience is the
temptation to renounce his religion.
Ø That Satan’s mercies (e.g. in sparing Job’s wife) have always
somewhat of cruelty in them.
Ø That the greatest outward blessings may sometimes prove a snare —
Job’s wife, and Adam’s.
Ø That it is perilous for good men or women to give way to passion.
Ø That in times of violent emotion a strong guard should be set
upon the door of the lips.
Ø That good people may sometimes give very bad advice.
Ø That the devil’s prime aim in tempting men is to try to
make them renounce God, and die.
Ø That God’s people should on no account let go their integrity.
Ø That those who have been recipients of God’s mercies should not
repine when for their good He changes the dispensation.
A Comparison of Job and Adam (vs. 9-10; Genesis 3:1-6)
Both were tempted by Satan through their wives to renounce their allegiance to God.
Adam was tempted when at the summit of felicity; Job when in the depth of misery.
Adam was assailed by the thought that God had unjustly deprived him of good;
Job, by the suggestion that God had unrighteously afflicted him with evil.
Adam fell; Job stood. See in Adam the representative of all men; and in Job
the foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, the God-Man
11 “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come
upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the
Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for
they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him
and to comfort him.” Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil
that was come upon him. It is not to be supposed that Job had no more than
three friends — indeed, Elihu the Buzzite appears later on as one of his
friends (ch.32:2-6) — but he had three contemporaries with whom he
was especially intimate, old men (Ibid. v.6), with whom he was
probably accustomed to confer from time to time, and who were in the
habit of giving him their advice. All three, apparently, lived at a distance;
and it seems to have been some weeks before the news of his misfortunes
reached them. When the news came they held communication one with
another, and agreed to pay him visits of condolence at a certain definite
time, which was determined upon between them. Some months — at least
two — seem to have elapsed between the date of Job’s latest affliction and
the time of their arrival (ch.7:3). They came every one from his own
place. They had separate homes, and probably lived at some considerable
distance from one another.
· Eliphaz the Temanite. There was an Eliphaz, the son of Esau by his wife
Adah, who had a son Teman (Genesis 36:4; I Chronicles 1:35-36); but it is
not supposed that this can be the person here intended. The name Teman
did not become geographical until the descendants of this Eliphaz’s son had
multiplied into a tribe,
when they gave name to the portion of
they inhabited. This tract
seems to have been either a part of
immediate vicinity (Genesis 36:42-43; Jeremiah 49:7-8, 20; Ezekiel 25:13;
Obadiah 1:8-9), but cannot be located with accuracy. The Temanites
were celebrated for their wisdom, as we learn from Jeremiah, who says
(Jeremiah 49:7), “Concerning
wisdom no more in Teman? is counsel perished from the prudent?
is their wisdom vanished?” Job’s friend was probably among their
wisest men at the time; and his discourses certainly show a considerable
knowledge of human nature. They do not, however, solve the riddle of
the universe. And
· Bildad the Shuhite. Bildad is a name which does not occur elsewhere in
Scripture, neither is there any other mention of Shuhites. Conjecture has
identified the Shuhites with the Saccaei of Ptolemy (‘Geograph.,’ 5:15),
whom he places in the neighborhood of Batanaea and Trachonitis. But the
Saccaei are unheard of till Ptolemy’s time, and seem to be a tribe of very
small importance. Perhaps Bildad belonged to the people known to the
Assyrians as the Tsukhi, or Sukhi (‘Records of the Past,’ vol. 1. p. 14),
who dwelt on the Middle Euphrates from about Anah to Hit (‘Ancient
Monarchies,’ vol. 2. pp. 66, 67). And
· Zophar the Naamathite. Zophar, or rather Tsophar, is another unknown
name. There was a Naamah, a city, in south-western
to which Zophar may have belonged, though probably a region, rather than
a city, is here intended.
For they had made an appointment together; or, agreed together, by message
or letter probably. To come to mourn with him and to comfort him. A good
intention, at any rate, and one agreeable to the apostolic injunction to us to “weep
with them that weep” (Romans 12:15). That they failed to carry out their intention
(ch.16:2; 21:34) was owing to a want of judgment, and, perhaps, in part, to a want
12 “And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they
lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle,
and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.” And when they lifted
up their eyes afar off, and knew him not. Job was seated on an ash-heap outside
his dwelling (v. 8). The three friends, who had probably met by agreement at some
point near his residence, and drew nigh together, saw the figure at some distance,
and looked to see who it was. But Job was so disfigured by the disease that
they failed to recognize him. They lifted up their voice, and wept. In the
clamorous manner of Orientals. And they rent every one his mantle
(see the comment on ch.1:20), and sprinkled dust upon their heads
toward heaven (compare Joshua 7:6; I Samuel 4:12; II Samuel 1:2; 13:19;
Nehemiah 9:1; Ezekiel 27:30; Lamentations 2:10).
13 “So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven
nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief
was very great.” So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days
and seven nights. The period of” seven days” was appropriate to mournings
(Genesis 1:10; II Samuel 31:13; Ezekiel 3:15). Food would be brought them, and
they might sleep rolled up in their begeds. The long silence may be
accounted for by the fact that “among the Jews,” and among Orientals
generally, it is a point of decorum, and one dictated by a fine and true
feeling, not to speak to a person in deep affliction until he gives an
intimation of a desire to be comforted. So long as Job kept silence
they had to keep silence, at least so far as he was concerned. They might
speak to any attendants who drew near, and they might speak one to
another. Note the words which follow: And none spake a word unto him
None spake to him; but no etiquette imposed complete silence on them.
For they saw that his grief was very great. So great that he could not as
yet bear to be spoken to.
Job’s Third Trial with the Coming His Friends (vs. 11-13)
· THE HONOURABLE NAMES THEY BORE.
Ø Eliphaz the Temanite. Probably a descendant of Teman, the son of
Eliphaz, the son of Esau by his wife Adah (Genesis 36:10-11; I Chronicles
1:35-36); belonging to the race of Teman, which extended over
a considerable portion of
Arabia, about midway between
Ø Bildad the Shuhite. Perhaps sprung from Shuah, the youngest son of
Abraham by Keturah (Genesis 25:2), and residing in a district of
supposed the second oldest of the friends.
Ø Zophar the Naamathite. Otherwise unknown except through this
book; though, from his acquaintance with Bildad, Eliphaz, and Job,
it may be inferred he also was a person of distinction. Probably all
three were, like the patriarch in his prosperity, powerful Arabian sheiks.
· THE EXCELLENT CHARACTERS THEY POSSESSED.
Ø Points of agreement.
o Intellectual ability. Without alleging that all three stood upon the same
platform in respect of mental calibrer (which they did not, Eliphaz holding
unmistakably the preeminence), it is apparent that they all were thinkers of
no mean capacity. It is a special ornament to men in high social position to
be possessed of corresponding mental faculties; besides immensely adding
to their personal enjoyment and public usefulness (Ecclesiastes 10:16).
o Religious principle. Unquestionably good men, who not only revered
Jehovah, but practiced the Divine will so far as they understood it.
They were likewise sincerely desirous of promoting Job’s highest welfare,
while they unfeignedly sympathized with him in his appalling trouble. If we
cannot quite adopt their speculative and religious formulas, any more than
we can commend their wisdom or kindness in lecturing the patriarch as
they did; on the other hand, it is due to them not to estimate their
characters from the gall and wormwood outpoured on their devoted
heads by Job, when stung to madness through their reproaches.
o Mistaken views. All three were equally astray in the fundamental
doctrine they propounded in the course of their debate with the
patriarch, viz. that suffering was so indissolubly associated with sin
that the one was the measure of the other — a theory which Job
strenuously combats throughout the poem; thus giving rise to what
we designate the second problem of the book, viz. as to the precise
relation subsisting between sin and suffering as they appear on
Ø Points of difference.
o Eliphaz, a man of erudition, a person given to profound spiritual
reflection, a seer who discerned spirits, dreamed dreams, and enjoyed
intercourse with the unseen world, may be held to represent the
prophet of the period.
o Bildad, of smaller build and narrower vision, a strong traditionalist in
religion, with a profound veneration for the ancients, who accepted his
theology from his ancestors without putting ugly questions as to its truth,
and was prepared, by quoting maxims and citing proverbs of hoary
antiquity, to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, was
probably designed to typify the sage of the time.
o Zophar the Naamathite, an echo of his friends as to sentiment, as to
manner more boisterous and arrogant than either, full of commonplaces
and conventional dogmas, which he enunciated with imposing dignity and
tremendous authority, may be regarded as the good man of the day’ the
vulgar but sincere formalist, who says sharp and bitter things, and always
means what he says, as well as says what he means.
· THE MELANCHOLY TIDINGS THEY RECEIVED. How they
learnt the news of Job’s evil fortunes is not related, but the fact that they
did reminds us of:
Ø The rapidity with which evil tidings usually spread; since it was
obviously not long before the report of their friend’s calamities
reached their ears.
Ø The organic unity of society; which renders it impossible for any one
to either suffer or rejoice alone (I Corinthians 12:26).
Ø The special susceptibility of friendly hearts for learning of others’ woes.
· THE MUTUAL APPOINTMENT THEY MADE. A token of:
Ø Lively interest in the patriarch’s welfare. Seeing they must have
communicated with each other concerning their neighbor’s evil hap,
thus showing they were not indifferent to what had occurred.
Ø Loving sympathy with the patriarch’s distress. For they meant to
mourn with him and to comfort him, not to treat him to a mere call of
Ø High appreciation of the patriarch’s worth. Since they planned
to go together to the scene of sorrow, which, if it did spring from a
due regard to their own dignity as princes, was perhaps also traceable
to their sense of what was owing to the rank and worth of their old
friend. It says much for the three neighbors that they did not neglect
Job now that he was a poor, diseased leper.
· THE FERVENT EMOTION THEY DISPLAYED.
Ø Tearful sympathy. Catching a sight of their former neighbor, whom
they had known and revered in his prosperity, now sitting on the
ash-heap, outside his house, and hardly recognizing, in the
emaciated features on which they gazed, the noble form of the
quondam prince whose glory outshone the radiance of all his
contemporaries, they lifted up their voices and wept. Orientals are
proverbially more emotional and lachrymose than phlegmatic
Westerners; but still it must have been an affecting spectacle to
behold the three great princes moved to tears by the patriarch’s
Ø Genuine amazement. “They rent every one his mantl.” (v.12).
A symbol of horror and astonishment, as in the case of Jacob
(Genesis 37:34), Joshua 7:6, Ezra 9:3, Caiaphas (Matthew 26:65).
Ø Profound sorrow. “They sprinkled dust upon their heads towards
heaven;” ( i.e. threw handfuls of dust into the air, as the Arabs still do,
that it might fall upon their heads, in token that they were deeply moved
by the troubles and calamities that had fallen on their friend.
· THE PECULIAR ATTITUDE THEY ASSUMED. It is unnecessary
to suppose that they were absolutely silent, but merely that they spake
nothing to him during all that period, certainly not in any way alluding to
the cause of his distress. And this silent attitude may have been expressive
Ø ceremonial propriety’ if this was the customary manner of Oriental
mourning, which is doubtful; but was more probably dictated by
Ø delicate sensibility’ which forbade them to intrude upon the solitude
of a sorrow so overpowering as that which they beheld; and
Ø reverential awe’ as seeing in the patriarch one upon whom the hand of
God was visibly laid (Genesis 34:5; Leviticus 10:3; Psalm 46:10;
Ezekiel 3:15); if it did not also spring from
Ø rising suspicion’ the thought beginning to thrust itself into view, which
indeed, according to their philosophy, could not long be repressed, that
the agonized and wretched sufferer before them must have been,
notwithstanding his previous high reputation for piety, a hypocrite at
bottom, whose disguised insincerities and secret iniquities had at length
drawn down upon him the just judgment of a holy and incensed God.
Ø That good men may often misunderstand God’s truth, misconstrue
God’s providence, and misjudge God’s people.
Ø That good men should always study to be distinguished for sympathy
towards the suffering and sorrowing.
Ø That good men who aspire to be brothers of consolation should not
forget that silence is sometimes more soothing than speech.
Ø That good men should never cherish secret suspicious of those whom
they seek to comfort.
Human Impotence in Presence of Great Sorrow (vs. 11-13)
The prompting of pure and faithful friendship leads Job’s friends to hurry
to his help. They “come to mourn with him and to comfort him.” When yet
afar off they lift up their eyes and behold their friend. But, alas! disease has
wrought so great a change in him that they know him not. Then “they lifted
up their voice, and wept.” In their wild, ungoverned passionate grief “they
rent every one his mantle,” and seizing the dust of the ground they cast it in
the air toward heaven, and let it fall on their heads in token of their grief.
Thus with signs of deep suffering in sympathy with their friend they cast
their cry with the sand upwards to heaven. Then, with great skill, the writer
indicates the helplessness of men in the presence of overwhelming Sorrow.
“They sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and
none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great”
(v. 13). So the sorrow that extorted the wild cry of pity closed the lips of
consolation. We behold the men staggered by the bitterness of their
friend’s lot. He cannot help himself, and they cannot help him. How true
a picture of all deep sorrow! It is to be said by every severe sufferer as by
the typical One, “Of the people there was none with me” (Isaiah 63:3);
for even tender, loving sympathy cannot penetrate to the depths of another’s
sufferings. With these feelings we gaze on the sufferer, feeling how painful it is
to be unable to extend a helpful hand or to speak an effectual word. It is
humiliating to us. It is abasing to our pride. (If we think this is bad, What
about Death? – CY – 2013)
· THE CAUSES OF OUR IMPOTENCE IN PRESENCE OF SEVERE
Ø Our inability to descend to the depth of the sorrow of another. It is only
as we ourselves are sufferers that we can know what others feel. We
must have drunk of the same cup if we would know its bitterness.
Ø But even though we have suffered as we see others suffer, no words,
even of the tenderest pity, can effectually relieve the mourner. Hollow
human words, words of merely pretended sympathy, only wound the
sufferer more deeply; while words of true friendship, cooling and cheering
as they may be, can take up no part of the burden. For a time they draw
off the mind of the sufferer from his sorrow, but it returns as a
· THE PAINFULNESS TO A TRUE FRIEND OF CONSCIOUS
INCOMPETENCE EFFECTUALLY TO AID THE SUFFERER.
Days or hours of silence are days or hours of keen suffering to the faithful
friend unable to stanch the wound, to abate the fever, to restore the lost
possession or the lost friend. By all we are driven to:
· THE TRUE AND ONLY EFFECTUAL SYMPATHIZER, JESUS
CHRIST, GOD WHO BECAME MAN, who, having suffered, and
having power to descend to the lowest depths of the human heart,
and having the Divine resources at command, the power to inspire
the word of consolation and supporting strength; and who, measuring
the need of the sufferer, can abate the severity of bodily pain or mental
anguish. To the sufferer the welcome of this honest sympathy opens the door
for the incoming of the true Healer and Comforter and Helper, who can
give strength to the feeble, and, above all, can sanctify sorrow and calamity
to higher ends, and make all things work together for good (Romans
8:28). He can brighten hope and sustain faith and strengthen patience,
and can soothe the fretted spirit, and give peace and joy and life.
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