Job 31:4
Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?
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(4) Doth not he.—The “He” is emphatic, obviously meaning God. His appeal is to the All-seeing knowledge of God, whom nothing escapes, and who is judge of the hearts and reins (Psalm 7:9; Psalm 44:21; Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 20:12). (Comp. Acts 25:11.)

31:1-8 Job did not speak the things here recorded by way of boasting, but in answer to the charge of hypocrisy. He understood the spiritual nature of God's commandments, as reaching to the thoughts and intents of the heart. It is best to let our actions speak for us; but in some cases we owe it to ourselves and to the cause of God, solemnly to protest our innocence of the crimes of which we are falsely accused. The lusts of the flesh, and the love of the world, are two fatal rocks on which multitudes split; against these Job protests he was always careful to stand upon his guard. And God takes more exact notice of us than we do of ourselves; let us therefore walk circumspectly. He carefully avoided all sinful means of getting wealth. He dreaded all forbidden profit as much as all forbidden pleasure. What we have in the world may be used with comfort, or lost with comfort, if honestly gotten. Without strict honestly and faithfulness in all our dealings, we can have no good evidence of true godliness. Yet how many professors are unable to abide this touchstone!Doth he not see my ways? - This either means that God was a witness of all that he did - his thoughts, words, and deeds, and would punish him if he had given indulgence to improper feelings and thoughts; or that since God saw all his thoughts, he could boldly appeal to him as a witness of his innocence in this matter, and in proof that his life and heart were pure. Rosenmuller adopts the latter interpretation; Herder seems to incline to the former. Umbreit renders it, "God himself must be a witness that I speak the truth." It is not easy to determine which is the true meaning. Either of them will accord well with the scope of the passage. 4. Doth not he see? &c.—Knowing this, I could only have expected "destruction" (Job 31:3), had I committed this sin (Pr 5:21). i.e. All my counsels and courses. This is another reason why he was so circumspect and exact in restraining his thoughts, and senses, and whole man from sinful practices, because he knew that God would discern them, and therefore punish them, as he said, Job 31:3.

Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps? That is, God, who is above, and the Almighty that dwells on high; he looks down from heaven, and beholds all the ways and works, the steps and motions, of the children of men; there is no darkness where the workers of iniquity can hide themselves; the fornicator and adulterer choose the night season for the commission of their sin, fancying no eye sees them; but they cannot escape the eye of God, who is omniscient; he observes the ways they walk in, the methods they take to compass their designs; he marks and counts every step taken by them, as he does indeed take notice of and reckons up every action of men, good and bad; and the consideration of this was another argument with Job to avoid the sin of uncleanness; for however privately he might commit it, so as not to be seen by men, it could not be hidden from the all seeing eye of God. Some take these words to be an obtestation, or appeal to God for the truth of what he had said; that he made a covenant with his eyes, and took every precaution to prevent his failing into the sin of uncleanness; and he whose eyes were upon his ways, knew how holily and unblamably he had walked; or else, as if the sense was, that had he given in to such an impure course of life, he might expect the omniscient God, that is above, and dwells on high, would bring upon him destruction, and a strange punishment, since he is the avenger of all such; others connect the words with the following, doth he not see my ways and steps, whether I have walked with vanity, &c. or not? Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?
4. Here “ways” and “steps” are said of things so slight as the glance of the eye. These are “seen” and “counted” by God. The thought of God in these verses is as lofty as the conception of morality is close and inward.

Verse 4. - Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps? (see above, Job 7:18-20; and below, Job 34:21. Comp. also Psalm 139:3; Proverbs 5:21; Proverbs 15:3, etc.). Job 31:4 1 I have made a covenant with mine eyes,

And how should I fix my gaze upon a maiden!

2 What then would be the dispensation of Eloah from above,

And the inheritance of the Almighty from the heights -

3 Doth not calamity overtake the wicked,

And misfortune the workers of evil?

4 Doth He not see my ways

And count all my steps?

After Job has described and bewailed the harsh contrast between the former days and the present, he gives us a picture of his moral life and endeavour, in connection with the character of which the explanation of his present affliction as a divinely decreed punishment becomes impossible, and the sudden overthrow of his prosperity into this abyss of suffering becomes to him, for the same reason, the most painful mystery. Job is not an Israelite, he is without the pale of the positive, Sinaitic revelation; his religion is the old patriarchal religion, which even in the present day is called dı̂n Ibrâhı̂m (the religion of Abraham), or dı̂n el-bedu (the religion of the steppe) as the religion of those Arabs who are not Moslem, or at least influenced by the penetrating Islamism, and is called by Mejânı̂shı̂ el-hanı̂fı̂je (vid., supra, p. 362, note) as the patriarchally orthodox religion.

(Note: Also in the Merg district east of Damascus, which is peopled by an ancient unmixed race, because the fever which prevails there kills strangers, remnants of the dı̂n Ibrâhı̂m have been preserved despite the penetrating Islamism. There the mulaqqin (Souffleur), who says the creed into the grave as a farewell to the buried one, adds the following words: "The muslim is my brother, the muslima my sister, Abraham is my father (abı̂), his religion (dı̂nuh) is mine, and his confession (medhebuh) mine." It is indisputable that the words muslim (one who is submissive to God) and islm (submission to God) have originally belonged to the dı̂n Ibrâhı̂m. It is also remarkable that the Moslem salutation selâm occurs only as a sign in war among the wandering tribes, and that the guest parts from his host with the words: dâimâ besât el-Chalı̂l̂ lâ maqtû‛ walâ memnû‛, i.e., mayest thou always have Abraham's table, and plenty of provisions and guests. - Wetzst.)

As little as this religion, even in the present day, is acquainted with the specific Mohammedan commandments, so little knew Job of the specifically Israelitish. On the contrary, his confession, which he lays down in this third monologue, coincides remarkably with the ten commandments of piety (el-felâh) peculiar to the dı̂n Ibrâhı̂m, although it differs in this respect, that it does not give the prominence to submission to the dispensations of God, that teslı̂m which, as the whole of this didactic poem teaches by its issue, is the duty of the perfectly pious; also bravery in defence of holy property and rights is wanting, which among the wandering tribes is accounted as an essential part of the hebbet er-rı̂h (inspiration of the Divine Being), i.e., active piety, and to which it is similarly related, as to the binding notion of "honour" which was coined by the western chivalry of the middle ages.

Job begins with the duty of chastity. Consistently with the prologue, which the drama itself nowhere belies, he is living in monogamy, as at the present day the orthodox Arabs, averse to Islamism, are not addicted to Moslem polygamy. With the confession of having maintained this marriage (although, to infer from the prologue, it was not an over-happy, deeply sympathetic one) sacred, and restrained himself not only from every adulterous act, but also from adulterous desires, his confessions begin. Here, in the middle of the Old Testament, without the pale of the Old Testament νόμος, we meet just that moral strictness and depth with which the Preacher on the mount, Matthew 5:27., opposes the spirit to the letter of the seventh commandment. It is לעיני, not עם־עיני, designedly; כרת ברית עם or את is the usual phrase where two equals are concerned; on the contrary, כרת ברית ל where two the superior - Jehovah, or a king, or conqueror - binds himself to another under prescribed conditions, or the covenant is made not so much by a mutual advance as by the one taking the initiative. In this latter case, the secondary notions of a promise given (e.g., Isaiah 55:3), or even, as here, of a law prescribed, are combined with כרת ברית: "as lord of my senses I prescribed this law for my eyes" (Ew.). The eyes, says a Talmudic proverb, are the procuresses of sin (סרסורי דחטאה נינהו); "to close his eyes, that they may not feast on evil," is, in Isaiah 33:15, a clearly defined line in the picture of him on whom the everlasting burnings can have no hold. The exclamation, Job 31:1, is spoken with self-conscious indignation: Why should I... (comp. Joseph's exclamation, Genesis 39:9); Schultens correctly: est indignatio repellens vehementissime et negans tale quicquam committi par esse; the transition of the מה, Arab. mâ, to the expression of negation, which is complete in Arabic, is here in its incipient state, Ew. 325, b. התבּונן על is intended to express a fixed and inspection (comp. אל, 1 Kings 3:21) gaze upon an object, combined with a lascivious imagination (comp. Sir. 9:5, παρθένον μὴ καταμάνθανε, and 9:8, ἀπόστρεψον ὀφθαλμὸν ἀπὸ γυναικὸς εὐμόρφου καὶ μὴ καταμάνθανε κάλλος ἀλλότριον), a βλέπειν which issues in ἐπιθυμῆσαι αὐτῆν, Matthew 5:28. Adulterium reale, and in fact two-sided, is first spoken of in the third strophe, here it is adulterium mentale and one-sided; the object named is not any maiden whatever, but any בּתוּלה, because virginity is ever to be revered, a most sacred thing, the holy purity of which Job acknowledges himself to have guarded against profanation from any lascivious gaze by keeping a strict watch over his eyes. The Waw of וּמה is, as in Job 31:14, copulative: and if I had done it, what punishment might I have looked for?

The question, Job 31:2, is proposed in order that it may be answered in Job 31:3 again in the form of a question: in consideration of the just punishment which the injurer of female innocence meets, Job disavows every unchaste look. On חלק and נחלה used of allotted, adjudged punishment, comp. Job 20:29; Job 27:13; on נכר, which alternates with איד (burden of suffering, misfortune), comp. Obadiah 1:12, where in its stead נכר occurs, as Arab. nukr, properly id quod patienti paradoxum, insuetum, intolerabile videtur, omne ingratum (Reiske). Conscious of the just punishment of the unchaste, and, as he adds in Job 31:4, of the omniscience of the heavenly Judge, Job has made dominion over sin, even in its first beginnings and motions, his principle.

The הוּא, which gives prominence to the subject, means Him who punishes the unchaste. By Him who observes his walk on every side, and counts (יספּור, plene, according to Ew. 138, a, on account of the pause, but vid., the similar form of writing, Job 39:2; Job 18:15) all his steps, Job has been kept back from sin, and to Him Job can appeal as a witness.

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