Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints wilt thou turn?
Job 5:1-27. Eliphaz' Conclusion from the Vision.
1. if there be any, &c.—Rather, "will He (God) reply to thee?" Job, after the revelation just given, cannot be so presumptuous as to think God or any of the holy ones (Da 4:17, "angels") round His throne, will vouchsafe a reply (a judicial expression) to his rebellious complaint.
For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one.
2. wrath … envy—fretful and passionate complaints, such as Eliphaz charged Job with (Job 4:5; so Pr 14:30). Not, the wrath of God killeth the foolish, and His envy, &c.
I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I cursed his habitation.
3. the foolish—the wicked. I have seen the sinner spread his "root" wide in prosperity, yet circumstances "suddenly" occurred which gave occasion for his once prosperous dwelling being "cursed" as desolate (Ps 37:35, 36; Jer 17:8).
His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate, neither is there any to deliver them.
4. His children … crushed in the gate—A judicial formula. The gate was the place of judgment and of other public proceedings (Ps 127:5; Pr 22:22; Ge 23:10; De 21:19). Such propylæa have been found in the Assyrian remains. Eliphaz obliquely alludes to the calamity which cut off Job's children.
Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.
5. even out of the thorns—Even when part of the grain remains hanging on the thorn bushes (or, "is growing among thorns," Mt 13:7), the hungry gleaner does not grudge the trouble of even taking it away, so clean swept away is the harvest of the wicked.
the robber—as the Sabeans, who robbed Job. Rather, translate "the thirsty," as the antithesis in the parallelism, "the hungry," proves.
Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground;
6. Although—rather, "for truly" [Umbreit].
affliction cometh not forth of the dust—like a weed, of its own accord. Eliphaz hints that the cause of it lay with Job himself.
Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.
7. Yet—rather, "Truly," or, But affliction does not come from chance, but is the appointment of God for sin; that is, the original birth-sin of man. Eliphaz passes from the particular sin and consequent suffering of Job to the universal sin and suffering of mankind. Troubles spring from man's common sin by as necessary a law of natural consequences as sparks (Hebrew, "sons of coal") fly upward. Troubles are many and fiery, as sparks (1Pe 4:12; Isa 43:2). Umbreit for "sparks" has "birds of prey;" literally, "sons of lightning," not so well.
I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:
8. Therefore (as affliction is ordered by God, on account of sin), "I would" have you to "seek unto God" (Isa 8:19; Am 5:8; Jer 5:24).
Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number:
Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields:
To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety.
11. Connected with Job 5:9. His "unsearchable" dealings are with a view to raise the humble and abase the proud (Lu 1:52). Therefore Job ought to turn humbly to Him.
He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise.
12. enterprise—literally, "realization." The Hebrew combines in the one word the two ideas, wisdom and happiness, "enduring existence" being the etymological and philosophical root of the combined notion [Umbreit].
He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.
13. Paul (1Co 3:19) quoted this clause with the formula establishing its inspiration, "it is written." He cites the exact Hebrew words, not as he usually does the Septuagint, Greek version (Ps 9:15). Haman was hanged on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai (Es 5:14; 7:10).
the wise—that is, "the cunning."
is carried headlong—Their scheme is precipitated before it is ripe.
They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night.
14. Judicial blindness often is sent upon keen men of the world (De 28:29; Isa 59:10; Joh 9:39).
But he saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty.
15. "From the sword" which proceedeth "from their mouth" (Ps 59:7; 57:4).
So the poor hath hope, and iniquity stoppeth her mouth.
16. the poor hath hope—of the interposition of God.
iniquity stoppeth her mouth—(Ps 107:42; Mic 7:9, 10; Isa 52:15). Especially at the last day, through shame (Jude 15; Mt 22:12). The "mouth" was the offender (Job 5:15), and the mouth shall then be stopped (Isa 25:8) at the end.
Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:
17. happy—not that the actual suffering is joyous; but the consideration of the righteousness of Him who sends it, and the end for which it is sent, make it a cause for thankfulness, not for complaints, such as Job had uttered (Heb 12:11). Eliphaz implies that the end in this case is to call back Job from the particular sin of which he takes for granted that Job is guilty. Paul seems to allude to this passage in Heb 12:5; so Jas 1:12; Pr 3:12. Eliphaz does not give due prominence to this truth, but rather to Job's sin. It is Elihu alone (Job 32:1-37:24) who fully dwells upon the truth, that affliction is mercy and justice in disguise, for the good of the sufferer.
For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.
18. he maketh sore, and bindeth up—(De 32:39; Ho 6:1; 1Sa 2:6). An image from binding up a wound. The healing art consisted much at that time in external applications.
He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.
19. in six … yea, in seven—(Pr 6:16; Am 1:3). The Hebrew idiom fixes on a certain number (here "six"), in order to call attention as to a thing of importance; then increases the force by adding, with a "yea, nay seven," the next higher number; here "seven," the sacred and perfect number. In all possible troubles; not merely in the precise number "seven."
In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword.
20. power—(Jer 5:12). Hebrew, "hands."
of the sword—(Eze 35:5, Margin). Hands are given to the sword personified as a living agent.
Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh.
21. (Ps 31:20; Jer 18:18). Smite (Psalm 73. 9).
At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth.
22. famine thou shalt laugh—Not, in spite of destruction and famine, which is true (Hab 3:17, 18), though not the truth meant by Eliphaz, but because those calamities shall not come upon thee. A different Hebrew word from that in Job 5:20; there, famine in general; here, the languid state of those wanting proper nutriment [Barnes].
For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field: and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee.
23. in league with the stones of the field—They shall not hurt the fertility of thy soil; nor the wild beasts thy fruits; spoken in Arabia-Deserta, where stones abounded. Arabia, derived from Arabah—a desert plain. The first clause of this verse answers to the first clause of Job 5:22; and the last of this verse to the last of that verse. The full realization of this is yet future (Isa 65:23, 25; Ho 2:18).
And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace; and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin.
24. know—"Thou shalt rest in the assurance, that thine habitation is the abode of peace; and (if) thou numberest thine herd, thine expectations prove not fallacious" [Umbreit]. "Sin" does not agree with the context. The Hebrew word—"to miss" a mark, said of archers (Jud 20:16). The Hebrew for "habitation" primarily means "the fold for cattle"; and for "visit," often to "take an account of, to number." "Peace" is the common Eastern salutation; including inward and outward prosperity.
Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, and thine offspring as the grass of the earth.
25. as the grass—(Ps 72:16). Properly, "herb-bearing seed" (Ge 1:11, 12).
Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season.
26. in a full age—So "full of days" (Job 42:17; Ge 35:29). Not mere length of years, but ripeness for death, one's inward and outward full development not being prematurely cut short, is denoted (Isa 65:22).
Thou shalt come—not literally, but expressing willingness to die. Eliphaz speaks from the Old Testament point of view, which made full years a reward of the righteous (Ps 91:16; Ex 20:12), and premature death the lot of the wicked (Ps 55:23). The righteous are immortal till their work is done. To keep them longer would be to render them less fit to die. God takes them at their best (Isa 57:1). The good are compared to wheat (Mt 13:30).
cometh in—literally, "ascends." The corn is lifted up off the earth and carried home; so the good man "is raised into the heap of sheaves" [Umbreit].
Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.
27. searched it … for thy good—literally, "for thyself" (Ps 111:2; Pr 2:4; 9:12).