Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah, and Satan came also among them, to present himself before Jehovah.
The clause expressive of the purpose of their appearing is here repeated in connection with Satan (comp. on the contrary, Job 1:6), for this time he appears with a most definite object. Jehovah addresses Satan as He had done on the former occasion.
2 And Jehovah said to Satan, Whence comest thou? And Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and wandering up and down in it.
Instead of מאין, Job 1:7, we have here the similar expression מזּה אי (Ges. 150, extra). Such slight variations are also frequent in the repetitions in the Psalms, and we have had an example in Job 1 in the interchange of עוד and עד. After the general answer which Satan givers, Jehovah inquires more particularly.
3 Then Jehovah said to Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job? for there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, fearing God and eschewing evil; and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou hast moved me against him, to injure him without cause.
From the foregoing fact, that amidst all his sufferings hitherto Job has preserved and proved his תּמּה (except in the book of Job, only Pro 11:3), the fut. consec. draws the conclusion: there was no previous reason for the injury which Satan had urged God to decree for Job. הסית does not signify, as Umbreit thinks, to lead astray, in which case it were an almost blasphemous anthropomorphism: it signifies instigare, and indeed generally, to evil, as e.g., Ch1 21:1; but not always, e.g., Jos 15:18 : here it is certainly in a strongly anthropopathical sense of the impulse given by Satan to Jehovah to prove Job in so hurtful a manner. The writer purposely chooses these strong expressions, הסית and בּלּע. Satan's aim, since he suspected Job still, went beyond the limited power which was given him over Job. Satan even now again denies what Jehovah affirms.
4, 5 And Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Skin for skin, and all that man hath will he give for his life: stretch forth yet once Thy hand, and touch his bone, and his flesh, truly he will renounce Thee to Thy face.
Olshausen refers עזר בּעד עזר to Job in relation to Jehovah: So long as Thou leavest his skin untouched, he will also leave Thee untouched; which, though it is the devil who speaks, were nevertheless too unbecomingly expressed. Hupfeld understands by the skin, that skin which is here given for the other, - the skin of his cattle, of his servants and children, which Job had gladly given up, that for such a price he might get off with his own skin sound; but בּעד cannot be used as Beth pretii: even in Pro 6:26 this is not the case. For the same reason, we must not, with Hirz., Ew., and most, translate, Skin for skin = like for like, which Ewald bases on the strange assertion, that one skin is like another, as one dead piece is like another. The meaning of the words of Satan (rightly understood by Schlottm. and the Jewish expositors) is this: One gives up one's skin to preserve one's skin; one endures pain on a sickly part of the skin, for the sake of saving the whole skin; one holds up the arm, as Raschi suggests, to avert the fatal blow from the head. The second clause is climacteric: a man gives skin for skin; but for his life, his highest good, he willingly gives up everything, without exception, that can be given up, and life itself still retained. This principle derived from experience, applied to Job, may be expressed thus: Just so, Job has gladly given up everything, and is content to have escaped with his life. ואולם, verum enim vero, is connected with this suppressed because self-evident application. The verb ננע, above, Job 1:11, with בּ, is construed here with אל, and expresses increased malignity: Stretch forth Thy hand but once to his very bones, etc. Instead of על־פּניך, Job 1:11, על־פּ is used here with the same force: forthwith, fearlessly and regardlessly (comp. Job 13:15; Deu 7:10), he will bid Thee farewell.
The Grant of New Power:
6 And Jehovah said to Satan, Behold, he is in thy hand; only take care of his life.
Job has not forfeited his life; permission is given to place it in extreme peril, and nothing more, in order to see whether or not, in the face of death, he will deny the God who has decreed such heavy affliction for him. נפשׁ does not signify the same as חיּים; it is the soul producing the spirit-life of man. We must, however, translate "life," because we do not use "soul" in the sense of ψυχή, anima.
The Working Out of the Commission:
7, 8 Then Satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah, and smote Job with sore boils, from the sole of his foot to his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself with, and sat in the midst of ashes.
The description of this disease calls to mind Deu 28:35 with Deu 28:27, and is, according to the symptoms mentioned further on in the book, elephantiasis so called because the limbs become jointless lumps like elephants' legs), Arab. jḏâm, ‛gudhâm, Lat. lepra nodosa, the most fearful form of lepra, which sometimes seizes persons even of the higher ranks. Artapan (C. Mller, Fragm. iii. 222) says, that an Egyptian king was the first man who died of elephantiasis. Baldwin, king of Jerusalem, was afflicted with it in a very dangerous form.
(Note: Vid., the history in Heer, De elephantiasi Graecorum et Arabum, Breslay, 1842, and coloured plates in Trait de la Spdalskhed ou Elephantiasis des Grecs par Danielssen et Boeck, Paris, 1848, translated from the Norwegian; and in Hecker, Elephantiasis oder Lepra Arabica, Lahr, 1858 (with lithographs). "The means of cure," says Aretus the Cappadocian (vid., his writings translated by Mann, 1858, S. 221), "must be more powerful than the disease, if it is to be removed. But what cure can be successfully applied to the fearful evil of elephantiasis? It is not confined to one part, either internally or externally, but takes possession of the entire system. It is terrible and hideous to behold, for it gives a man the appearance of an animal. Every one dreads to live, and have any intercourse, with such invalids; they flee from them as from the plague, for infection is easily communicated by the breath. Where, in the whole range of pharmacy, can such a powerful remedy be found?")
The disease begins with the rising of tubercular boils, and at length resembles a cancer spreading itself over the whole body, by which the body is so affected, that some of the limbs fall completely away. Scraping with a potsherd will not only relieve the intolerable itching of the skin, but also remove the matter. Sitting among ashes is on account of the deep sorrow (comp. Jon 3:6) into which Job is brought by his heavy losses, especially the loss of his children. The lxx adds that he sat on a dunghill outside the city: the dunghill is taken from the passage Psa 113:7, and the "outside the city" from the law of the מצרע. In addition to the four losses, a fifth temptation, in the form of a disease incurable in the eye of man, is now come upon Job: a natural disease, but brought on by Satan, permitted, and therefore decreed, by God. Satan does not appear again throughout the whole book. Evil has not only a personal existence in the invisible world, but also its agents and instruments in this; and by these it is henceforth manifested.
First Job's Wife (who is only mentioned in one other passage (Job 19:17), where Job complains that his breath is offensive to her) Comes to Him:
9 Then his wife said to him, Dost thou still hold fast thine integrity? renounce God, and die.
In the lxx the words of his wife are unskilfully extended. The few words as they stand are sufficiently characteristic. They are not to be explained, Call on God for the last time, and then die (von Gerl.); or, Call on Him that thou die (according to Ges. 130, 2); but בּרך signifies, as Job's answer shows, to take leave of. She therefore counsels Job to do that which Satan has boasted to accomplish. And notwithstanding, Hengstenberg, in his Lecture on the Book of Job (1860),
(Note: Clark's Foreign Theological Library.)
defends her against the too severe judgment of expositors. Her desperation, says he, proceeds from her strong love for her husband; and if she had to suffer the same herself, she would probably have struggled against despair. But love hopeth all things; love keeps its despondency hidden even when it desponds; love has no such godless utterance, as to say, Renounce God; and none so unloving, as to say, Die. No, indeed! this woman is truly diaboli adjutrix (August.); a tool of the temper (Ebrard); impiae carnis praeco (Brentius). And though Calvin goes too far when he calls her not only organum Satanae, but even Proserpinam et Furiam infernalem, the title of another Xantippe, against which Hengstenberg defends her, is indeed rather flattery than slander. Tobias' Anna is her copy.
(Note: She says to the blind Tobias, when she is obliged to work for the support of the family, and does not act straightforwardly towards him: ποῦ εἰσὶν αἱ ἐλεημοσύναι σου καὶ αἱ δικαιοσύναι σου, ἰδοὺ γνωστὰ πάντα μετὰ σοῦ, i.e., (as Sengelmann, Book of Tobit, 1857, and O. F. Fritzsche, Handbuch zu d. Apokr. Lief. ii. S. 36, correctly explain) one sees from thy misfortunes that thy virtue is not of much avail to thee. She appears still more like Job in the revised text: manifeste vana facta est spes tua et eleemosynae tuae modo apparuerunt, i.e., thy benevolence has obviously brought us to poverty. In the text of Jerome a parallel between Tobias and Job precedes this utterance of Tobias' wife.)
What experience of life and insight the writer manifests in introducing Job's wife as the mocking opposer of his constant piety! Job has lost his children, but this wife he has retained, for he needed not to be tried by losing her: he was proved sufficiently by having her. She is further on once referred to, but even then not to her advantage. Why, asks Chrysostom, did the devil leave him this wife? Because he thought her a good scourge, by which to plague him more acutely than by any other means. Moreover, the thought is not far distant, that God left her to him in order that when, in the glorious issue of his sufferings, he receives everything doubled, he might not have this thorn in the flesh also doubled.
(Note: The delicate design of the writer here must not be overlooked: it has something of the tragi-comic about it, and has furnished acceptable material for epigrammatic writers not first from Kstner, but from early times (vid., das Epigramm vom J. 1696, in Serpilius' Personalia Iobi). Vid., a Jewish proverb relating thereto in Tendlau, Sprchw. u. Redensarten deutsch-jd. Vorzeit (1860), S. 11.)
What enmity towards God, what uncharitableness towards her husband, is there in her sarcastic words, which, if they are more than mockery, counsel him to suicide! (Ebrard). But he repels them in a manner becoming himself.
10 But he said to her, As one of the ungodly would speak, thou speakest. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not also receive evil?
The answer of Job is strong but not harsh, for the אחת (comp. Sa2 13:13) is somewhat soothing. The translation "as one of the foolish women" does not correspond to the Hebrew; נבל is one wxo thinks madly and acts impiously. What follows is a double question, גּם for הגם. The גּם stands at the beginning of the sentence, but logically belongs to the second part, towards which pronunciation and reading must hurry over the first, - a frequent occurrence after interrogative particles, e.g., Num 16:22; Isa 5:4; after causal particles, e.g., Isa 12:1; Pro 1:24; after the negative פּן, Deu 8:12., and often. Hupfeld renders the thought expressed in the double question very correctly: bonum quidem hucusque a Deo accepimus, malum vero jam non item accipiemus? גּם is found also elsewhere at the beginning of a sentence, although belonging to a later clause, and that indeed not always the one immediately following, e.g., Hos 6:11; Zac 9:11; the same syntax is to be found with אף, אך, and רק. קבּל, like תּמּה, is a word common to the book of Job and Proverbs (Pro 19:20); besides these, it is found only in books written after the exile, and is more Aramaic than Hebraic. By this answer which Job gives to his wife, he has repelled the sixth temptation. For 10b In all this Job sinned not with his lips.
10b In all this Job sinned not with his lips.
The Targum adds: but in his thoughts he already cherished sinful words. בּשׂפתיו is certainly not undesignedly introduced here and omitted in Job 1:22. The temptation to murmur was now already at work within him, but he was its master, so that no murmur escaped him.
After the sixth temptation there comes a seventh; and now the real conflict begins, through which the hero of the book passes, not indeed without sinning, but still triumphantly.
11 When Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz from Teman, and Bildad from Shuach, and Zophar from Naama: for they had made an appointment to come together to go and sympathize with him, and comfort him.
אליפז is, according to Gen 36, an old Idumaean name (transposed = Phasal in the history of the Herodeans; according to Michaelis, Suppl. p. 87; cui Deus aurum est, comp. Job 22:25), and תּימן a district of Idumaea, celebrated for its native wisdom (Jer 49:7; Bar. 3:22f.). But also in East-Hauran a Tm is still found (described by Wetzstein in his Bericht ber seine Reise in den beiden Trachonen und um das Hauran-Gebirge, Zeitschr. fr allg. Erdkunde, 1859), and about fifteen miles south of Tm, a Bzn suggestive of Elihu's surname (comp. Jer 25:23). שׁוּח we know only from Gen 25 as the son of Abraham and Keturah, who settled in the east country. Accordingly it must be a district of Arabia lying not very far from Idumaea: it might be compared with trans-Hauran Schakka, though the sound, however, of the word makes it scarcely admissible, which is undoubtedly one and the same with Dakkai'a, east from Batanaea, mentioned in Ptolem. v. 15. נעמה is a name frequent in Syria and Palestine: there is a town of the Jewish Shephla (the low ground by the Mediterranean) of this name, Jos 15:41, which, however, can hardly be intended here. הבּאה is Milel, consequently third pers. with the art. instead of the relative pron. (as, besides here, Gen 18:21; Gen 46:27), vid., Ges. 109 ad init. The Niph. נועד is strongly taken by some expositors as the same meaning with נועץ, to confer with, appoint a meeting: it signifies, to assemble themselves, to meet in an appointed place at an appointed time (Neh 6:2). Reports spread among the mounted tribes of the Arabian desert with the rapidity of telegraphic despatches.
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 threw dust upon their heads toward heaven.
They saw a form which seemed to be Job, but in which they were not able to recognise him. Then they weep and rend their outer garments, and catch up dust to throw up towards heaven (Sa1 4:12), that it may fall again upon their heads. The casting up of dust on high is the outwards sign of intense suffering, and, as von Gerlach rightly remarks, of that which causes him to cry to heaven.
13 And they sat with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights; and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his pain was very great.
Ewald erroneously thinks that custom and propriety prescribed this seven days' silence; it was (as Eze 3:15) the force of the impression produced on them, and the fear of annoying the sufferer. But their long silence shows that they had not fully realized the purpose of their visit. Their feeling is overpowered by reflection, their sympathy by dismay. It is a pity that they let Job utter the first word, which they might have prevented by some word of kindly solace; for, becoming first fully conscious of the difference between his present and former position from their conduct, he breaks forth with curses.