Job 11:8
It is as high as heaven; what can you do? deeper than hell; what can you know?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) It is as high as heaven.—Literally, The heights of heaven; what canst thou do? it is deeper than the grave; what canst thou know?

11:7-12 Zophar speaks well concerning God and his greatness and glory, concerning man and his vanity and folly. See here what man is; and let him be humbled. God sees this concerning vain man, that he would be wise, would be thought so, though he is born like a wild ass's colt, so unteachable and untameable. Man is a vain creature; empty, so the word is. Yet he is a proud creature, and self-conceited. He would be wise, would be thought so, though he will not submit to the laws of wisdom. He would be wise, he reaches after forbidden wisdom, and, like his first parents, aiming to be wise above what is written, loses the tree of life for the tree of knowledge. Is such a creature as this fit to contend with God?It is as high as heaven - That is, the knowledge of God; or the subject is as high as heaven. The idea is, that man is incompetent to examine, with accuracy, an object that is as far off as the heavens; and that as the knowledge of God must be of that character, it is vain for him to attempt to investigate it fully. There is an energy in the Hebrew which is lost in our common translation. The Hebrew is abrupt and very emphatic: "The heights of the heavens!" It is the language of one looking up with astonishment at the high heavens, and over-powered with the thought that the knowledge of God must be higher even than those distant skies. Who can hope to understand it? Who can be qualified to make the investigation? It is a matter of simple but sublime truth, that God must be higher than these heavens; and when we take into view the amazing distances of many of the heavenly bodies, as now known by the aid of modern astronomy, we may ask with deeper emphasis by far than Zophar did. "Can we, by searching, find out God?"

Deeper than hell - Hebrew "Than Sheol" - משׁאול meshe'ôl. The Septuagint renders this, "the heaven is high, what canst thou do? And there are things deeper than in Hades - βαθύτερα τῶν ἐν ᾃδου bathutera tōn en Hadou - what dost thou know?" On the meaning of the word Sheol, see Isaiah 5:14, note; Isaiah 14:9, note. It seems to have been supposed to be as deep as the heavens are high; and the idea here is, that it would be impossible for man to investigate a subject that was as profound as Sheol was deep. The idea is not that God was in Sheol, but that the subject was as profound as the abode of departed spirits was deep and remote. It is possible that the Psalmist may have had this passage in his eye in the similar expression, occurring in Psalm 139:p>If I ascend into heaven, thou art there;

If I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there.

8. It—the "wisdom" of God (Job 11:6). The abruptness of the Hebrew is forcible: "The heights of heaven! What canst thou do" (as to attaining to them with thy gaze, Ps 139:8)?

know—namely, of His perfections.

Thou canst not measure the heights of the visible heavens, much less of the Divine perfections.

What canst thou do, to wit, to find him out?

What canst thou know, concerning him and his ways, which are far out of thy sight and reach? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do?.... Or, "is higher than the heavens" (i); either the wisdom of God and the secrets of it; the perfection of his wisdom, by which he has made the heavens; or evangelical wisdom, hid in his heart, and which the highest of creatures, the angels, come at the knowledge of only by revelation; and therefore, what can man do to find it out, unless God reveals it? or wisdom displayed in dark providences, which can never be accounted for until the judgments of God are made manifest: or else, "he that is God", as the Vulgate Latin version, is "higher than the heavens"; the heaven is his throne on which he sits, and therefore he must be higher than that; the heavens, and heaven of heavens, cannot contain him; he fills up the infinite space beyond them; how is it possible therefore to find him out, to comprehend him?

deeper than hell; what canst thou know? meaning, neither the grave nor the place of the damned, for both which "Sheol" is sometimes used, but the centre or lowest part of the earth; there is a depth in God, in his essence, in his thoughts, in his wisdom, displayed in nature, providence, and grace, that is unfathomable; we can know nothing of it but what he is pleased to make known; see Psalm 92:5; the Targum of the verse is,"in the height of heaven, what canst thou do? in the law, which is deeper than hell, what canst thou know?''

(i) "altior est altissimis coelis", Junius & Tremellius.

It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? {d} deeper than hell; what canst thou know?

(d) That is, this perfection of God, and if man is not able to comprehend the height of the heavens, the depth of the earth, the breadth of the sea, which are but creatures, how can he attain to the perfection of the creator.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. His wisdom is immeasurable, unfathomable. The words are an exclamation: heights of heaven! what canst thou do?—thou art impotent before it, to scale it or reach it.

deeper than hell] i. e. than Sheol, the place of the dead—canst thou fathom it, penetrate with thy knowledge to it?Verse 8. - It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? literally, heights of the heavens; what canst thou do? But the meaning is probably that expressed in the Authorized Version. God's perfectness is unattainable by man's thought, as the heights of the heavens are by his feet. Deeper than hell; literally, than Sheol, or the receptacle of the dead (see the comment on Job 10:21). St. Paul speaks of the "deep things," or rather, "the depths" (τὰ βάθη) of God (see 1 Corinthians 2:10). What canst thou know? How small a part of the Divine nature can any man thoroughly comprehend and know! 1 Then began Zophar the Naamathite, and said:

2 Shall the torrent of words remain unanswered,

And shall the prater be in the right?

3 Shall thy vain talking silence the people,

So that thou mockest without any one putting thee to shame,

4 And sayest: my doctrine is pure,

And I am guiltless in Thine eyes?

5 But oh that Eloah would speak,

And open His lips against thee,

6 And make known to thee the secrets of wisdom,

That she is twofold in her nature -

Know then that Eloah forgetteth much of thy guilt.

When Job has concluded his long speech, Zophar, the third and most impetuous of the friends, begins. His name, if it is to be explained according to the Arabic Esauitish name el-assfar,

(Note: Vid., Abulfeda's Historia anteislamica ed. Fleischer, p. 168.)

continued...

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