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Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Job Chapter 25

Job 25:1

job 25:1

1 Then began Bildad the Shuhite, and said:

2 Dominion and terror are with Him,

He maketh peace in His high places.

3 Is there any number to His armies,

And whom doth not His light surpass?

4 How could a mortal be just with God,

And how could one born of woman be pure?

5 Behold, even the moon, it shineth not brightly,

And the stars are not pure in His eyes.

6 How much less mortal man, a worm,

And the son of man, a worm!

Ultimum hocce classicum, observes Schultens, quod a parte triumvirorum sonuit, magis receptui canentis videtur, quam praelium renovantis. Bildad only repeats the two commonplaces, that man cannot possibly maintain his supposedly perverted right before God, the all-just and all-controlling One, to whom, even in heaven above, all things cheerfully submit, and that man cannot possibly be accounted spotlessly pure, and consequently exalted above all punishment before Him, the most holy One, before whom even the brightest stars do not appear absolutely pure. המשׁל is an inf. abs. made into a substantive, like השׁקט; the Hiph. (to cause to rule), which is otherwise causative, can also, like Kal, signify to rule, or properly, without destroying the Hiphil-signification, to exercise authority (vid., on Job 31:18); המשׁל therefore signifies sovereign rule. עשׂה, with הוּא to be supplied, which is not unfrequently omitted both in participial principal clauses (Job 12:17., Psa 22:29; Isa 26:3; Isa 29:8; Isa 40:19, comp. Zac 9:12, where אני is to be supplied) and in partic. subordinate clauses (Psa 7:10; Psa 55:20; Hab 2:10), is an expression of the simple praes., which is represented by the partic. used thus absolutely (including the personal pronoun) as a proper tense-form (Ew. 168, c, 306, d). Schlottman refers עשׂה to המשׁל ופהד; but the analogy of such attributive descriptions of God is against it. Umbreit and Hahn connect בּמרומיו with the subject: He in His heights, i.e., down from His throne in the heavens. But most expositors rightly take it as descriptive of the place and object of the action expressed: He establishes peace in His heights, i.e., among the celestial beings immediately surrounding Him. This, only assuming the abstract possibility of discord, might mean: facit magestate sua ut in summa pace et promptissima obedientia ipsi ministrent angeli ipsius in excelsis (Schmid). But although from Job 4:18; Job 15:15, nothing more than that even the holy ones above are neither removed from the possibility of sin nor the necessity of a judicial authority which is high above them, can be inferred; yet, on the other hand, from Job 3:8; Job 9:13 (comp. Job 26:12.), it is clear that the poet, in whose conception, as in scripture generally, the angels and the stars stand in the closest relation, knows of actual, and not merely past, but possibly recurring, instances of hostile dissension and titanic rebellion among the celestial powers; so that עשׂה שׁלום, therefore, is intended not merely of a harmonizing reconciliation among creatures which have been contending one against another, but of an actual restoration of the equilibrium that had been disturbed through self-will, by an act of mediation and the exercise of judicial authority on the part of God.

Job 25:3

Instead of the appellation מרומיו, which reminds one of Isa 24:21, - where a like peacemaking act of judgment on the part of God is promised in reference to the spirit-host of the heights that have been working seductively among the nations on earth, - גּדוּדיו, of similar meaning to צבאיו, used elsewhere, occurs in this verse. The stars, according to biblical representation, are like an army arrayed for battle, but not as after the Persian representation - as an army divided into troops of the Ahuramazd and Angramainyus (Ahriman), but a standing army of the children of light, clad in the armour of light, under the guidance of the one God the Creator (Isa 40:26, comp. the anti-dualistic assertion in Isa 45:7). The one God is the Lord among these numberless legions, who commands their reverence, and maintains unity among them; and over whom does not His light arise? Umbr. explains: who does not His light, which He communicates to the hosts of heaven, vanquish (קוּם על in the usual warlike meaning: to rise against any one); but this is a thought that is devoid of purpose in this connection. אורהו with the emphatic suff. hu (as Job 24:23, עיניהוּ) at any rate refers directly to God: His light in distinction from the derived light of the hosts of heaven. This distinction is better brought out if we interpret (Merc., Hirz., Hahn, Schlottm., and others): over whom does (would) not His light arise? i.e., all receive their light from His, and do but reflect it back. But יקוּם = יזרח cannot be justified by Job 11:17. Therefore we interpret with Ew. and Hlgst. thus: whom does not His light surpass, or, literally, over whom (i.e., which of these beings of light) does it not rise, leaving it behind and exceeding it in brightness (יקוּם as synon. of ירוּם)? How then could a mortal be just with God, i.e., at His side or standing up before Him; and how could one of woman born be spotless! How could he (which is hereby indirectly said) enter into a controversy with God, who is infinitely exalted above him, and maintain before Him a moral character faultless, and therefore absolutely free from condemnation! In the heights of heaven God's decision is revered; and should man, the feeble one, and born flesh of flesh (vid., Job 14:1), dare to contend with God? Behold, עד־ירח (עד, as usually when preceded by a negation, adeo, ne ... quidem, e.g., Exo 14:28, comp. Nah 1:10, where J. H. Michaelis correctly renders: adeo up spinas perplexitate aequent, and אל used in the same way, Job 5:5, Ew. 219, c), even as to the moon, it does not (ולא with Waw apod., Ges. 145, 2, although there is a reading לא without ו) shine bright, יאחיל = יהל, from אהל = הלל.

(Note: It is worthy of observation, that hilâl signifies in Arabic the new moon (comp. Genesis, S. 307); and the Hiphil ahalla, like the Kal halla, is used of the appearing and shining of the new moon.)

Thus lxx, Targ. Jer., and Gecatilia translate; whereas Saadia translates: it turns not in (Arab. lâ ydchl), or properly, it does not pitch its tent, fix its habitation. But to pitch one's tent is אהל or אהל, whence יהל, Isa 13:20, = יאהל; and what is still more decisive, one would naturally expect יאהיל שׁם in connection with this thought. We therefore render אהל as a form for once boldly used in the scriptural language for הלל, as in Isa 28:28 אדשׁ once occurs for דּוּשׁ. Even the moon is only a feeble light before God, and the stars are not clean in His eyes; there is a vast distance between Him and His highest and most glorious creatures - how much more between Him and man, the worm of the dust!

The friends, as was to be expected, are unable to furnish any solution of the mystery, why the ungodly often live and die happily; and yet they ought to be able to give this solution, if the language which they employ against Job were authorized. Bildad alone speaks in the above speech, Zophar is silent. But Bildad does not utter a word that affects the question. This designed omission shows the inability of the friends to solve it, as much as the tenacity with which they firmly maintain their dogma; and the breach that has been made in it, either they will not perceive or yet not acknowledge, because they think that thereby they are approaching too near to the honour of God. Moreover, it must be observed with what delicate tact, and how directly to the purpose in the structure of the whole, this short speech of Bildad's closes the opposition of the friends. Two things are manifest from this last speech of the friends: First, that they know nothing new to bring forward against Job, and nothing just to Job's advantage; that all their darts bound back from Job; and that, though not according to their judgment, yet in reality, they are beaten. This is evident from the fact that Bildad is unable to give any answer to Job's questions, but can only take up the one idea in Job's speech, that he confidently and boldly thinks of being able to approach God's throne of judgment; he repeats with slight variation what Eliphaz has said twice already, concerning the infinite distance between man and God, Job 4:17-21; Job 15:14-16, and is not even denied by Job himself, Job 9:2; Job 14:4. But, secondly, the poet cannot allow us to part from the friends with too great repugnance; for they are Job's friends notwithstanding, and at the close we see them willingly obedient to God's instruction, to go to Job that he may pray for them and make sacrifice on their behalf. For this reason he does not make Bildad at last repeat those unjust incriminations which were put prominently forward in the speech of Eliphaz, Job 22:5-11. Bildad only reminds Job of the universal sinfulness of the human race once again, without direct accusation, in order that Job may himself derive from it the admonition to humble himself; and this admonition Job really needs, for his speeches are in many ways contrary to that humility which is still the duty of sinful man, even in connection with the best justified consciousness of right thoughts and actions towards the holy God.

Next: Job Chapter 26