Job 37:20
Shall it be told him that I speak? if a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up.
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(20) Be swallowed up.—The sense will vary, according as we understand this of God or of the sun. In the first case, it is a simple expression of awe at God’s majesty: “Shall it be told Him that I would speak? If a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up;” but unquestionably the sense is clearer if we understand it of the sun: “Shall it be told of him? Shall I, indeed, speak it? or hath any man ever ventured to say, in such a case, that the sun is swallowed up, extinguished?”

Job 37:20. Shall it be told him that I speak? — Does he need to be informed of any thing? Is any thing that I have said of him worth his hearing? Will any one report it to him? Will any man dare to approach him? But the Hebrew, אדבר, adabber, should rather be rendered, I should, or I will, speak. Shall I send, or who dare carry, a challenge from me to God, or a message that I am ready and desirous to debate with him concerning his proceedings? This, indeed, thou hast done, in effect, but far be such presumption from me. If a man speak — If a man should be so bold and venturous as to enter the lists with God, surely he shall be swallowed up — With the sense of his infinite majesty and spotless purity.

37:14-20 Due thoughts of the works of God will help to reconcile us to all his providences. As God has a powerful, freezing north wind, so he has a thawing, composing south wind: the Spirit is compared to both, because he both convinces and comforts, So 4:16. The best of men are much in the dark concerning the glorious perfections of the Divine nature and the Divine government. Those who, through grace, know much of God, know nothing, in comparison with what is to be known, and of what will be known, when that which is perfect is come.Shall it be told him that I speak? - Still the language of profound awe and reverence, as if he would not have it even intimated to God that he had presumed to say anything in regard to him, or with a view to explain the reason of his doings.

If a man speak - That is, if he attempt to speak with God; to argue a case with him; to contend with him in debate; to oppose him. Elihu had designed to reprove Job for the bold and presumptuous manner in which he bad spoken of God, and for his wish to enter into a debate with him in order to vindicate his cause. He now says, that if anyone should attempt this, God had power at once to destroy him; and that such an attempt would be perilous to his life. But other interpretations have been proposed, which may be seen in Rosenmuller, Umbreit, and Lee.

Surely he shall be swallowed up - Destroyed for his presumption and rashness in thus contending with the Almighty. Elihu says that on this account he would not dare to speak with God. He would fear that he would come forth in his anger, and destroy him. How much man by nature instinctively feels, when he has any just views of the majesty of God, that he needs a Mediator!

20. What I a mortal say against God's dealings is not worthy of being told Him. In opposition to Job's wish to "speak" before God (Job 13:3, 18-22).

if … surely he shall be swallowed up—The parallelism more favors Umbreit, "Durst a man speak (before Him, complaining) that he is (without cause) being destroyed?"

That I speak, Heb. that I will speak. Shall I send, or who dare carry, a challenge from me to God, or a message that I am ready and desirous to debate with him concerning his proceedings? This indeed thou hast done in effect, but far be such presumption from me.

If a man speak; if a man should be so bold and venturous to enter the lists with God.

He shall be swallowed up with the sense of God’s infinite majesty and spotless purity.

Shall it be told him that I speak?.... And what I speak? there is no need of it, since he is omniscient, and knows every word that is spoken by men; or is anything I have said concerning him, his ways, and his works, worthy relating, or worthy of his hearing, being so very imperfect? nor can the things I have spoken of, though common things, be fully explained to any; or should it be told him, the Lord, that he, Elihu, had spoke as Job had done, and arraigned his justice, and complained of his dealings? God forbid; he would not have it said they were spoken by him for all the world: or "shall it be recorded unto him what I speak?" as Mr. Broughton, or that I speak; shall it be recorded in a book, and that sent to God; that I will speak in thy cause, and be an advocate for thee, and endeavour to justify thee in all thou hast said? no, by no means;

if a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up; if he speaks of the being and perfections of God, he is soon lost; his essence, and many of his attributes, are beyond his comprehension; if he speaks of his works of nature and providence, he is presently out of his depth; there is a bathos, a depth in them he cannot fathom: if he speaks of his love, and grace, and mercy, in the salvation of man, he is swallowed up with admiration; he is obliged to say, what manner of love is this? it has heights he cannot reach, depths he cannot get to the bottom of, lengths and breadths immeasurable: or should he undertake to dispute with God, to litigate a point with him concerning his works, he could not answer him in one thing of a thousand; and particularly Elihu suggests, was he to undertake Job's cause, it would soon be lost and all over with him; so Mr. Broughton renders the words, "would any plead, when he should be undone?" who would engage in a cause he is sure would be lost, and prove his utter undoing?

Shall it be {q} told him that I speak? if a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up.

(q) Has God need that any should tell him when man murmurs against him?

20. The verse means,

Shall it be told him that I would speak?

Or shall a man wish that he should be swallowed up?

Elihu recoils from the thought of going into God’s presence to strive with Him; such daring presumption would be voluntarily to court destruction. The words “shall a man wish?” are lit. has a man said or commanded? i. e. has any one ever voluntarily ordered his own annihilation? Nothing other than this does the man do who ventures to contend with the Almighty.

Verse 20. - Shall it be told him that I speak? rather, that I would speak (comp. Job 31:35). Job had expressed the wish that God would "hear him, and answer him." Elihu, intending to rebuke this presumption, yet shrinking from doing so directly, puts himself in Job's place, and asks, "Would it be fitting that I should demand to speak with God?" If not, it cannot be fitting that Job should do so. If a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up. This is probably the true meaning, though another has been suggested by some commentators, who prefer to render, "Or should a man wish that he were destroyed?" (So Ewald, Dillmann, Canon Cook, and our Revisers.) If we adopt this rendering, we must understand Elihu as appending to his first rebuke a second, levelled against Job's desire to have his life ended. Job 37:2017 Thou whose garments became hot,

When the land is sultry from the south:

18 Dost thou with Him spread out the sky,

The strong, as it were molten, mirror?

19 Let us know what we shall say to Him! -

We can arrange nothing by reason of darkness.

20 Shall it be told Him that Ispeak,

Or shall one wish to be destroyed?

Most expositors connect Job 37:17 with Job 37:16 : (Dost thou know) how it comes to pass that ... ; but אשׁר after ידע signifies quod, Exodus 11:7, not quomodo, as it sometimes occurs in a comparing antecedent clause, instead of כאשׁר, Exodus 14:13; Jeremiah 33:22. We therefore translate: thou whose ... , - connecting this, however, not with Job 37:16 (vid., e.g., Carey), but as Bolduc. and Ew., with Job 37:18 (where ה before תרקיע is then the less missed): thou who, when the land (the part of the earth where thou art) keeps rest, i.e., in sultriness, when oppressive heat comes (on this Hiph. vid., Ges. 53, 2) from the south (i.e., by means of the currents of air which come thence, without דּרום signifying directly the south wind), - thou who, when this happens, canst endure so little, that on the contrary the heat from without becomes perceptible to thee through thy clothes: dost thou now and then with Him keep the sky spread out, which for firmness is like a molten mirror? Elsewhere the hemispheric firmament, which spans the earth with its sub-celestial waters, is likened to a clear sapphire Exodus 24:10, a covering Psalm 104:2, a gauze Isaiah 40:22; the comparison with a metallic mirror (מוּצק here not from צוּק, Job 37:10; Job 36:16, but from יצק) is therefore to be understood according to Petavius: Coelum areum στερέωμα dicitur non a naturae propria conditione, sed ab effectu, quod perinde aquas separet, ac si murus esset solidissimus. Also in תרקיע lies the notion both of firmness and thinness; the primary notion (root רק) is to beat, make thick, stipare (Arab. rq‛, to stop up in the sense of resarcire, e.g., to mend stockings), to make thick by pressure. The ל joined with תרקיע is nota acc.; we must not comp. Job 8:8; Job 21:22, as well as Job 5:2; Job 19:3.

Therefore: As God is the only Creator (Job 9:8), so He is the all-provident Preserver of the world - make us know (הודיענוּ, according to the text of the Babylonians, Keri of הודיעני) what we shall say to Him, viz., in order to show that we can cope with Him! We cannot arrange, viz., anything whatever (to be explained according to ערך מלּין, Job 32:14, comp. "to place," Job 36:19), by reason of darkness, viz., the darkness of our understanding, σκότος τῆς διανοίας; מפּני is much the same as Job 23:17, but different from Job 17:12, and חשׁך different from both passages, viz., as it is often used in the New Testament, of intellectual darkness (comp. Ecclesiastes 2:14; Isaiah 60:2). The meaning of Job 37:20 cannot now be mistaken, if, with Hirz., Hahn, and Schlottm., we call to mind Job 36:10 in connection with אמר כּי: can I, a short-sighted man, enshrouded in darkness, wish that what I have arrogantly said concerning and against Him may be told to God, or should one earnestly desire (אמר, a modal perf., as Job 35:15) that (an jusserit s. dixerit quis ut) he may be swallowed up, i.e., destroyed (comp. לבלעו, Job 2:3)? He would, by challenging a recognition of his unbecoming arguing about God, desire a tribunal that would be destructive to himself.

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