Job 15:17
I will shew thee, hear me; and that which I have seen I will declare;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 15:17-18. I will show thee, hear me — I will prove what I have affirmed, namely, that such strokes as thine are peculiar to hypocrites and wicked men. And that which I have seen I will declare — I will not speak from hearsay, but only from my own observation and experience. Which wise men have told — Who are most able to be witnesses and judges in these matters; from their fathers — Or, ancestors; who diligently observed this, and carefully transmitted their own judgment and experience successively to their posterity. And have not hid it — They judged it to be so certain and important a truth, that they would not conceal it in their own breasts.

15:17-35 Eliphaz maintains that the wicked are certainly miserable: whence he would infer, that the miserable are certainly wicked, and therefore Job was so. But because many of God's people have prospered in this world, it does not therefore follow that those who are crossed and made poor, as Job, are not God's people. Eliphaz shows also that wicked people, particularly oppressors, are subject to continual terror, live very uncomfortably, and perish very miserably. Will the prosperity of presumptuous sinners end miserably as here described? Then let the mischiefs which befal others, be our warnings. Though no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby. No calamity, no trouble, however heavy, however severe, can rob a follower of the Lord of his favour. What shall separate him from the love of Christ?I will show thee ... - The remainder of this chapter is a violent declamation, designed to overwhelm Job with the proofs of personal guilt. Eliphaz professes to urge nothing which had not been handed down from his ancestors, and was the result of careful observation. What he says is made up of apothegms and maxims that were regarded as containing the results of ancient wisdom, all meaning that God would punish the wicked, or that the wicked would be treated according to their deserts. The implied inference all along was, that Job, who had had so many proofs of the divine displeasure, must be a wicked man. 17. In direct contradiction of Job's position (Job 12:6, &c.), that the lot of the wicked was the most prosperous here, Eliphaz appeals (1) to his own experience, (2) to the wisdom of the ancients. I will prove what I have affirmed, that such strokes as thine are peculiar to hypocrites and wicked men. I speak not by hearsay only, but from my own experience.

I will show thee, hear me,.... Here Eliphaz proceeds to illustrate and make plain, to clear and defend, his former sentiment and proposition, and into which the rest of his friends came; that only wicked, and not righteous men, are afflicted of God, especially in such a manner as Job was; and he proposes to show things worthy of his regard, and not such vain and unprofitable things which Job had uttered; and, in order to stir up and engage his attention, he says what follows:

and that which I have seen I will declare; what he had been an eyewitness of himself; the same he had observed, Job 4:8; and such testimonies are most regarded, and reckoned most authentic and creditable, especially when they come from men of character; see Luke 1:1.

I will shew thee, hear me; and that which I have seen I will declare;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. I will shew thee] Eliphaz assumes a high tone with Job; one is entitled to do so with a man in his unfortunate condition.

17–35. Eliphaz instructs Job regarding the troubled conscience And the Disastrous Fate of the Wicked Man

Having sufficiently rebuked Job’s presumption and irreverence Eliphaz proceeds to take up his principles, which “did away with the fear of God,” Job 15:4. They are such principles as Job gave forth ch. Job 9:22 seq., Job 12:6. The passage has two parts:—

First, Job 15:17-19, a brief preface, in which Eliphaz states that his doctrine is that of the wise of all times among the pure-blooded races of men, who have never been contaminated by mixture with foreign tribes, and whose traditions are uncorrupted.

Second, Job 15:20-35, the doctrine regarding the wicked man itself, in which there are three points: (1) the troubled conscience and presentiments of coming evil that continually haunt the evil man, Job 15:20-24; (2) the cause of this, his defiance of God and sensual life, Job 15:25-28; and (3) finally, a picture of his punishment and disastrous end, Job 15:29-35.

Verse 17. - I will show thee, hear me; and that which I have seen I will declare. Eliphaz here introduces, with an elaborate preface (vers. 17-19) what is either a citation from a book, as Professor Lee thinks, or a studied description by himself of the proceedings and consequent sufferings of the wicked. This description extends from ver. 20 to the end of the chapter, and is plainly levelled at Job, though it may originally have been intended to apply to some other person or persons. Job 15:1717 I will inform thee, hear me!

And what I have myself seen that I will declare,

18 Things which wise men declare

Without concealment from their fathers -

19 To them alone was the land given over,

And no stranger had passed in their midst - :

Eliphaz, as in his first speech, introduces the dogma with which he confronts Job with a solemn preface: in the former case it had its rise in a revelation, here it is supported by his own experience and reliable tradition; for חזיתי is not intended as meaning ecstatic vision (Schlottm.). The poet uses חזה also of sensuous vision, Job 8:17; and of observation and knowledge by means of the senses, not only the more exalted, as Job 19:26., but of any kind (Job 23:9; Job 24:1; Job 27:12, comp. Job 36:25; Job 34:32), in the widest sense. זה is used as neuter, Genesis 6:15; Exodus 13:8; Exodus 30:13; Leviticus 11:4, and freq.

(Note: So also Psalm 56:10, where I now prefer to translate "This I know," זה neuter, like Proverbs 24:12, and referring forward as above, Job 15:17.)

(comp. the neuter הוּא, Job 13:16, and often), and זה־חזיתי is a relative clause (Ges. 122, 2): quod conspexi, as Job 19:19 quos amo, and Psalm 74:2 in quo habitas, comp. Psalm 104:8, Psalm 104:26; Proverbs 23:22, where the punctuation throughout proceeds from the correct knowledge of the syntax. The waw of ואספרה is the waw apodosis, which is customary (Ngelsbach, 111, 1, b) after relative clauses (e.g., Numbers 23:3), or what is the same thing, participles (e.g., Proverbs 23:24): et narrabo equals ea narrabo. In Job 15:18 ולא כחדו is, logically at least, subordinate to יגידו, as in Isaiah 3:9,

(Note: Heidenheim refers to Hosea 8:2 for the position of the words, but there Israel may also be an apposition: we know thee, we Israel.)

as the Targum of the Antwerp Polyglott well translates: "what wise men declare, without concealing (ולא מכדבין), from the tradition of their fathers;" whereas all the other old translations, including Luther's, have missed the right meaning. These fathers to whom this doctrine respecting the fate of evil-doers is referred, lived, as Eliphaz says in Job 15:19, in the land of their birth, and did not mingle themselves with strangers, consequently their manner of viewing things, and their opinions, have in their favour the advantage of independence, of being derived from their own experience, and also of a healthy development undisturbed by any foreign influences, and their teaching may be accounted pure and unalloyed.

Eliphaz thus indirectly says, that the present is not free from such influences, and Ewald is consequently of opinion that the individuality of the Israelitish poet peeps out here, and a state of things is indicated like that which came about after the fall of Samaria in the reign of Manasseh. Hirzel also infers from Eliphaz' words, that at the time when the book was written the poet's fatherland was desecrated by some foreign rule, and considers it an indication for determining the time at which the book was composed. But how groundless and deceptive this is! The way in which Eliphaz commends ancient traditional lore is so genuinely Arabian, that there is but the faintest semblance of a reason for supposing the poet to have thrown his own history and national peculiarity so vividly into the working up of the rôle of another. Purity of race was, from the earliest times, considered by "the sons of the East" as a sign of highest nobility, and hence Eliphaz traces back his teaching to a time when his race could boast of the greatest freedom from intermixture with any other. Schlottmann prefers to interpret Job 15:19 as referring to the "nobler primeval races of man" (without, however, referring to Job 8:8), but הארץ does not signify the earth here, but: country, as in Job 30:8; Job 22:8, and elsewhere, and Job 15:19 seems to refer to nations: זר equals barbarus (perhaps Semitic: בּרבּר, ὁ ἔξω). Nevertheless it is unnecessary to suppose that Eliphaz' time was one of foreign domination, as the Assyrian-Chaldean time was for Israel: it is sufficient to imagine it as a time when the tribes of the desert were becoming intermixed, from migration, commerce, and feud.

Now follows the doctrine of the wise men, which springs from a venerable primitive age, an age as yet undisturbed by any strange way of thinking (modern enlightenment and free thinking, as we should say), and is supported by Eliphaz' own experience.

(Note: Communication from Consul Wetzstein: If this verse affirms that the freer a people is from intermixture with other races, the purer is its tradition, it gives expression to a principle derived from experience, which needs no proof. Even European races, especially the Scandinavians, furnish proof of this in their customs, language, and traditions, although in this case certain elements of their indigenous character have vanished with the introduction of Christianity. A more complete parallel is furnished by the wandering tribes of the 'Aneze and Sharrt of the Syrian deserts, people who have indeed had their struggles, and have even been weakened by emigration, but have certainly never lost their political and religious autonomy, and have preserved valuable traditions which may be traced to the earliest antiquity. It is unnecessary to prove this by special instance, when the whole outer and inner life of these peoples can be regarded as the best commentary on the biblical accounts of the patriarchal age. It is, however, not so much the fact that the evil-doer receives his punishment, in favour of which Eliphaz appeals to the teaching handed down from the fathers, as rather the belief in it, consequently in a certain degree the dogma of a moral order in the world. This dogma is an essential element of the ancient Abrahamic religion of the desert tribes - that primitive religion which formed the basis of the Mosaic, and side by side with it was continued among the nomads of the desert; which, shortly before the appearance of Christianity in the country east of Jordan, gave birth to mild doctrines, doctrines which tended to prepare the way for the teaching of the gospel; which at that very time, according to historical testimony, also prevailed in the towns of the Higz, and was first displaced again by the Jemanic idolatry, and limited to the desert, in the second century after Christ, during the repeated migrations of the southern Arabs; which gave the most powerful impulse to the rise of Islam, and furnished its best elements; which, towards the end of the last century, brought about the reform of Islamism in the province of Negd, and produced the Wahabee doctrine; and which, finally, is continued even to the present day by the name of Dn Ibrhm, "Religion of Abraham," as a faithful tradition of the fathers, among the vast Ishmaelitish tribes of the Syrian desert, "to whom alone the land is given over, and into whose midst no stranger has penetrated." Had this cultus spread among settled races with a higher education, it might have been taught also in writings: if, however, portions of writings in reference to it, which have been handed down to us by the Arabic, are to be regarded as unauthentic, it may also in 'Irk have been mixed with the Sabian worship of the stars; but among the nomads it will have always been only oral, taught by the poets in song, and contained in the fine traditions handed down uncorrupted from father to son, and practised in life.

continued...

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