Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
1 Then began Elihu, and said:
2 Dost thou consider this to be right,
Sayest thou: my righteousness exceedeth God's,
3 That thou sayest, what advantage is it to thee,
What doth it profit me more than my sin?
4 I will answer thee words,
And thy companions with thee.
The neutral זאת, Job 35:2, refers prospectively to כּי־תאמר, Job 35:3: this that thou sayest. חשׁב with acc. of the obj. and ל of the predicate, as Job 33:10, comp. Job 13:24, and freq. The second interrogative clause, Job 35:2, is co-ordinate with the first, and the collective thought of this ponderous construction, Job 35:2, Job 35:3, is this: Considerest thou this to be right, and thinkest thou on this account to be able to put thy righteousness above the divine, that, as thou maintainest, no righteousness on the side of God corresponds to this thy righteousness, because God makes no distinction between righteousness and the sin of man, and allows the former to go unrewarded? צדקי (for which Olsh. wishes to read צדקתּי, as Job 9:27 אמרתי for אמרי) forms with מאל a substantival clause: justitia mea est prae Deo (prae divina); מן comparative as Job 32:2, comp. on the matter Job 34:5, not equivalent to ἀπό as Job 4:17. כי־תאמר is first followed by the oratio obliqua: what it (viz., צדקך) advantageth thee, then by the or. directa (on this change vid., Ew. 338, a): what profit have I (viz., בצדקי), prae peccato meo; this מן is also comparative; the constantly ambiguous combination would be allowable from the fact that, according to the usage of the language, "to obtain profit from anything" is expressed by הועיל בּ, not by הועיל מן. Moreover, prae peccato meo is equivalent to plus quam inde quod pecco, comp. Psa 18:24, מעוני, Hos 4:8 אל־עונם. We have already on Job 34:9 observed that Job has not directly said (he cites it, Job 21:15, as the saying of the ungodly) what Elihu in Job 35:3 puts into his mouth, but as an inference it certainly is implied in such utterances as Job 9:22. Elihu's polemic against Job and his companions (רעיך are not the three, as lxx and Jer. translate, but the אנשׁי און, to whom Job is likened by such words as Job 34:8, Job 34:36) is therefore not unauthorized; especially since he assails the conclusion together with its premises. In the second strophe the vindication of the conclusion is now refuted.
5 Look towards heaven and see,
And behold the ethereal heights: they are high above thee.
6 If thou sinnest, what dost thou effect with Him?
And if thy transgressions are many, what doest thou to Him?
7 If thou art righteous, what dost thou give Him,
Or what doth He take from thy hand?
8 To man like thee thy godlessness availeth,
And to thee, a son of man, thy righteousness.
Towards heaven he is to direct his gaze, to obtain from the height of heaven a notion of the exaltation of God who dwells above the heavens. The combination הבּיט וראה is like Psa 80:15 and freq. שׁחקים (שׁחק, Arab. sḥq, to rub in pieces, make thin, therefore the opposite of עבים) are the thin transparent strata of the atmosphere above the hanging clouds. מן after גּבהּ denotes the height that is on the opposite side to the beholder. From the exaltation of God it is then further inferred that it is impossible to exercise any human influence upon Him, by which He might suffer. The pointing wavers here between תּפעל (the common fut. form) and תּפעל(as a contraction of תּפעל after the form אזעם, Num 23:8). Human wrong or right doing neither diminishes nor increases His blessedness; injury or advantage is only on the side of man, from whom it proceeds. Others, whom his conduct affect, are not included in Job 35:8 : righteous or ungodly doing, Elihu means to say, as such and with its consequences, belongs solely to the doer himself, the man "like thee" (לאישׁ with Munach, כּמוך with Munach), the son of man, i.e., man, capable of evil as of good, and who always, after deciding in favour of the latter or the former, determines his fortune or misfortune, in distinction from God, who ever remains unchangeably the same in His perfect righteousness. What Elihu here says we have already heard from Eliphaz, Job 22:2., and Job even expresses himself similarly in Job 7:20; but to Elihu's mind it all becomes for Job new and powerful motives to quiet submission, for what objection should Job raise in justification of his complaints concerning his affliction against such sentiments as these, that goodness bears its reward and evil its punishment in itself, and that God's reward of goodness is not a work of indebtedness, nor His punishment of evil a work of necessity? Before such truth he must really hold his peace.
9 By reason of the multitude of oppressions they raise a cry,
They call for help by reason of the arm of the great,
10 But none saith: Where is Eloah my Creator,
Who giveth songs of praise in the night,
11 Who teacheth us by the beasts of the earth,
And maketh us wise by the fowls of heaven?
12 Then they cry, yet He answereth not,
Because of the pride of evil men.
13 Vanity alone God heareth not,
And the Almighty observeth it not.
In Job 35:9 the accentuation of מרוב with Dech, according to which Dachselt interprets: prae multitudine (oppressionum) oppressi clamabunt, is erroneous; it is to be written מרב, as everywhere else, and this (according to Codd. and the editions of Jablonski, Majus, Michaelis, and others) is to be accented with Munach, which is followed by עשׁוּקים with a vicarious Munach: prae multitudine oppressionum (עשׁוקים like Ecc 4:1, and probably also Amo 3:9) edunt clamorem (Hiph. in the intensive Kal signification, as e.g., הזנה, to commit fornication, Hos 4:10). On זרוע, Job 35:9; רבּים are the great or lords (Arab. arbâb). The plur. with a general subj. is followed by the sing. in Job 35:10: and no one says (exactly as in האמר, Job 34:31). Elihu weakens the doubt expressed by Job in Job 24:12, that God allows injustice to prevail, and oppressed innocence remains without vindication. The failure of the latter arises from the fact of the sufferers complaining, but not seeking earnestly the only true helper, God their maker (עשׂים, intensive plur., as Isa 22:11; Isa 54:5; Psa 149:2), who gives (to which may be compared a passage of the Edda: "Wuodan gives songs to the Scalds") songs (זמרות, from the onomatopoetic זמר) in the night, i.e., who in the night of sorrow puts songs of praise concerning the dawning light of help into the mouth of the sufferers. The singing of the glory of the nightly heavens (Stick., Hahn) is to be as little thought of as the music of the spheres; the night is, as Job 34:20, Job 34:25, the time of unexpectedly sudden change.
In Job 35:11 most expositors (last of all Schlottm.) take the two מן as comparative. Elihu would then, since he feels the absence of the asking after this God on the part of the sufferers, mean the conscious relation in which He has placed us to Himself, and in accordance with which the sufferer should not merely instinctively complain, but humbly bow himself and earnestly offer up prayer. But according to Job 12:7 (comp. Pro 6:6, וחכם), it is to be translated: who teaches (מלּפנוּ = מאלּפנוּ, comp. Sa2 22:40, Psalter i. 160) us from the beasts of the earth (so that from them as a means of instruction teaching comes to us), and makes us wise from the birds of heaven. The fut. interchanging with the part. better accords with this translation, according to which Job 35:11 is a continuation of the assertion of a divine instruction, by means of the animal creation; the thought also suits the connection better, for of the many things that may be learned from the animal creation, prayer here comes under consideration, - the lions roar, Psa 104:21; the thirsty cattle cry to God, Joe 1:20; the ravens call upon God, Psa 147:9. It we now determine the collective thought of Job 35:10, that affliction does not drive most men to God the almighty Helper, who will be humbly entreated for help: it is more natural to take שׁם (vid., on Job 23:7) in the sense of then (τότε), than, with reference to the scene of oppression, in the sense of there (lxx, Jer.: ibi). The division of the verse is correct, and H. B. Starcke has correctly interpreted: Tunc clamabunt (sed non respondebit) propter superbiam (insolentiam) malorum. מפּני is not to be connected with יענה in the sense of non exaudiet et servabit, by which constr. praegnans one would expect מן, Psa 22:22, instead of מפני, nor in the sense of non exaudiet propter (Hirz., Schlottm.), for the arrogant רעים are not those who complain unheard: but, as the connection shows, those from whom the occasion of complaint proceeds. Therefore: not allowing themselves to be driven to God by oppression, they cry then, without, however, being heard of God, by reason of the arrogance of evil men which they have to endure. Job 35:13 gives the reason of their obtaining no answer: Only emptiness (i.e., mere motion of the lips without the true spirit of prayer) God heareth not, and the Almighty observeth it not. Hahn wrongly denies אך the significations certo and verumtamen; but we prefer the restrictive signification (sheer emptiness or hollowness) which proceeds from the affirmative primary signification
(Note: Vid., Hupfeld in the Zeitschr. fr Kunde des Morgenl. ii. 441f.)
here, to the adversative (nevertheless emptiness), since the adversative thought, verumtamen non exaudit, has found its expression already in ולא יענה.
14 Although thou sayest, thou seest Him not:
The cause lieth before Him, and thou mayest wait for Him.
15 Now, then, if His wrath hath not yet punished,
Should He not be well acquainted with sullenness?
16 While Job openeth his mouth without reason,
Without knowledge multiplieth words.
The address is not direct to Job exclusively, for it here treats first of the acts of injustice which prevail among men and remain apparently unpunished; but to Job, however, also, so far as he has, Job 23:8-10, comp. Job 19:7; Job 30:20, thus complained concerning his prayer being unanswered. אף כּי signifies elsewhere quanto minus, Job 4:19, or also quanto magis, Pro 15:11, but nowhere quanto minus si (Hirz., Hlgst.) or quanto magis si (Hahn), also not Eze 15:5, where it signifies etiamne quum. As it can, however, naturally signify etiam quum, it can also signify etiamsi, etsi, as here and Neh 9:18. This quamvis dicas (opineris) is followed by the oratio obliqua, as Job 35:3. The relation of the matter - says the conclusion, Job 35:14 - is other than thou thinkest: the matter to be decided lies before Him, is therefore well known to Him, and thou mightest only wait for Him (חולל instead of יחל or הוחיל only here, comp. Psa 37:7, והתחולל לו); the decision, though it pass by, will not fail. In Job 35:15, Job 35:15 is taken by most modern commentators as antecedent to Job 35:16, in which case, apart from the distortions introduced, two interpretations are possible: (1) However now, because His (God's) wrath does not visit ... Job opens his mouth; (2) However now, because He (God) does not visit his (Job's) wrath (comp. on this reference of the אפּו to Job, Job 18:4; Job 36:13, Job 36:18)...Job opens, etc. That a clause with a confirmatory כי is made to precede its principal clause is not without example, Gen 3:14, Gen 3:17; but in connection with this arrangement the verb is accustomed always, in the principal clause or in the conclusion, to stand prominent (so that consequently we should expect ויפצה איוב), although in Arabic this position of the words, ואיוב יפצה, and in fact Arab. fâyûb instead of wâyûb (in connection with a difference of the subj. in the antecedent and in the conclusion, vid., De Sacy, Gramm. Arabe, 1201, 2), is regular. Therefore for a long time I thought that Job 35:15 was to be taken interrogatively: And now (ועתּה as logical inference and conclusion, which is here its most probable function, Ew. 353, b) should His wrath not punish (פּקד as absolute as Job 31:14), and should He not take notice, etc., כּי interrogative as Sa1 24:20; Sa1 28:1; Kg1 11:22, as הכי (is it so that, or: should it be so that), Job 6:22, and freq., in connection with which, what is said on Gen 21:7 concerning the modal use of the praet. might be compared on the two praett. But by this rendering the connection of Job 35:16 with what precedes is awkward. Ewald has given the correct rendering (apart from the misunderstanding of פּשׁ): Therefore, because His wrath has not yet punished, He does not know much about foolishness! Job 35:15 requires to be taken as the conclusion to Job 35:15, yet not as an exclamation, but as an interrogative. The interrogative use of ולא is not unusual, Sa2 20:1; Eze 16:43, Eze 16:47, Eze 16:56; Eze 32:27; and just as here, this interrogative ולא is found after a hypothetical antecedent clause, Sa1 20:9; Exo 8:22.
In connection with this interrogative rendering of Job 35:15, it still remains questionable whether it refers to Job's sin, or sin which prevails among men. The theme of this third speech of Elihu requires the latter reference, although perhaps not without a side-glance at Job's won arrogant behaviour. The translation shows how suitably Job 35:16 is connected with what precedes: Job 35:16 is a circumstantial clause, or, if one is not willing to take it as a subordinate clause, but prefers to take it as standing on a level with Job 35:15, an adversative clause attached with Waw, as is frequently the case: but (nevertheless) Job ... ; פּצה פּה of opening the mouth in derision, as Lam 2:16; Lam 3:46; הבל is the acc. of closer definition to it (= בּהבל), and the הכבּיר, which occurs only here and Job 36:31, signifies without distinction magnificare and multiplicare: Job multiplies high emotional words. As this יכבּיר is, so to speak, Hebraeo-Arabic (Arab. akbara), so is Job 35:15 full of Arabisims: (1) The combination אין פּקד, which has not its like in the Hebrew language (whether it be originally intended as relative or not: non est quod visitaverit, Ew. 321, b), corresponds to the popular Arabic use of lys for lâ, Ges. Thes. i. 82, b; probably אין has the value of an intensive negation (Carey: not at all). (2) The combination ידע בּ, to know about anything, to take knowledge of anything (differently Job 12:9, but comp. Job 24:12 on the idea), is like the Arab. construction of the verb (alima with bi (concerning) or bianna (because that) of the obj.; מאד (on this vid., on Psa 31:12) belongs not to בפשׁ (which is indeed possible), but, according to Psa 139:14, to ידע. (3) פּשׁ is especially to be explained from the Arabic. The signification a multitude (Jewish expositors, after פּוּשׁ, Niph. se diffundere, Nah 3:18) is not suitable; the signification evil (lxx, Jer., and others: פשׁ = פשׁע) presents a forcibly mutilated word, and moreover one devoid of significance in this connection; whereas the Arab. fšš (but not in its derivatives, fashsh, empty-headed; fâshûsh, empty-headedness, imbecility, with its metaphorical sense) indicates a development of signification which leads to the desired end, especially in the Syro-Arabic usage most natural here. The Arab. verb fšš (פשׁשׁ, cogn. Arab. fšr, frš, to extend, expandere) is used originally of water (fashsh el-mâ): to overflow its dam, to overflow its banks, whence a valley by the lake of el-Hgne, into which the waters of the lake flow after the winter rains, is called el-mefeshsh; then of a leathern bottle: to run out (tarf mefshûsh, an emptied bottle), of a tumour (waram): to disperse, disappear, and tropically of anger (el-chulq): to break forth, vent itself on anything, hence the phrase: dost thou make me a mefeshshe (an object for the venting) of thine anger? From this Arab. fšš (distinct from Arab. faš med. Waw, to swim on the surface, trop. to be above, not to allow one's self to be kept down, and med. Je, comp. פושׁ, Hab 1:8, Jer 50:11, Mal 4:2, signifies to be proud) is פּשׁ, formed after the forms בּד, מד, מס, a synon. of זדון, or even of עברה in the signification of excessive haughtiness, pride that bursts forth violently.
(Note: The signification expandere also underlies the noun fishshe, the lungs (in Egypt.); the signification discutere (especially carminare, to card wool), which the Talmud. פשׁפשׁ also has, is only a shade of the same signification; the origin of the trop. signification fatuum esse is clear from 'gaus fashûsh, empty nuts. The rice from the Palestine valley of Hle, it is somewhere said, is worse than the Egyptian, because (what is a fault in the East) in cooking tufeshfish, i.e., it bursts, breaks in pieces (comp. on the other hand: if the seed for sowing sinks to the bottom when put into water, it is good; if it swims on the surface, jefûsh, it is bad). The Piel of this fashsha signifies to cause the water to overflow, trop. fashshasha qalbahu, he gave air to his heart, i.e., he revealed a secret which burdened him. A proverb says: the market (with its life and changing scenes) is a feshshâsh of cares, i.e., consoles a trouble heart. In the Hiph. one says in like manner proverbially, el-bukâ jufishsh, weeping removes the anguish of the soul. - Wetzst.)
Thus, even at the close of this third speech of Elihu, the Arabic, and in fact Syro-Arabic colouring, common to this section with the rest of the book, is confirmed; while, on the other hand, we miss the bold, original figures which up to Job 31:1 followed like waves one upon another, and we perceive a deficiency of skill, as now and then between Koheleth and Solomon. The chief thought of the speech we have also heard already from the three friends and Job himself. That the piety of the pious profits himself without involving God in any obligation to him, Eliphaz has already said, Job 22:2.; and that prayer that is heard in time of need and the unanswered cry of the godly and the ungodly are distinct, Job said, Job 27:9. Elihu, however, deprives these thoughts of their hitherto erroneous application. If piety gives nothing to God which He ought to reward, Job dare not regard his affliction, mysterious as it is to him, as unjust; and if the godly do not directly experience the avenging wrath of God on the haughtiness of their oppressors, the question, whether then their prayer for help is of the right kind, is more natural than the complain of a want of justice in God's government of the world. Job is silent also after this speech. It does not contain the right consolation; it contains, however, censure which he ought humbly to receive. It touches his heart. But whether it touches the heart of the idea of the book, is another question.