Job 5:3
I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I cursed his habitation.
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(3) I cursed.—The word means, “I was able to declare distinctly, and I did declare without hesitation, that his lot would be as follows.” All these general results of experience have the sting of insinuation in them that they contain the key to Job’s unfortunate condition. There is secret unsoundness there which is the cause of the manifest and open misery. It is impossible that a man so stricken should be otherwise than, for some unknown reason, the guilty victim of the righteous wrath of a just judge.

Job 5:3. I have seen the foolish taking root — I have observed the wicked man, whom I term foolish, as being destitute of true, that is, of heavenly, wisdom, not only prosperous for the present, but, as it seemed, firm and secure for the future, being strongly fortified with power and riches, and children too, so that there was no likelihood or apparent danger of a change; but suddenly — In a moment, before any one’s expectation; I cursed his habitation — I saw, by the event which followed his prosperity, that he was a man under a divine curse, and that, notwithstanding the seeming depth and strength in which he vainly promised himself a permanent, unshaken situation for many years, all his hopes were built on a weak and false foundation. Thus Eliphaz answers an objection concerning the present seeming prosperity of the wicked, which he confesses that he himself had sometimes observed, but which, he insists, was of short duration, destructive judgments from God unexpectedly overwhelming them.5:1-5 Eliphaz here calls upon Job to answer his arguments. Were any of the saints or servants of God visited with such Divine judgments as Job, or did they ever behave like him under their sufferings? The term, saints, holy, or more strictly, consecrated ones, seems in all ages to have been applied to the people of God, through the Sacrifice slain in the covenant of their reconciliation. Eliphaz doubts not that the sin of sinners directly tends to their ruin. They kill themselves by some lust or other; therefore, no doubt, Job has done some foolish thing, by which he has brought himself into this condition. The allusion was plain to Job's former prosperity; but there was no evidence of Job's wickedness, and the application to him was unfair and severe.I have seen the foolish - The wicked. To confirm the sentiment which he had just advanced, Eliphaz appeals to his own observation, and says that though the wicked for a time seem to be prosperous, yet he had observed that they were soon overtaken with calamity and cut down. He evidently means that prosperity was no evidence of the divine favor; but that when it had continued for a little time, and was then withdrawn, it was proof that the man who had been prospered was at heart a wicked man. It was easy to understated that he meant that this should be applied to Job, who, though he had been favored with temporary prosperity, was now revealed to be at heart a wicked man. The sentiment here advanced by Eliphaz, as the result of his observation, strikingly accords with the observation of David, as expressed in Psalm 23:1-6 :

"I have seen the wicked in great power,

And spreading himself like a green bay-tree;

Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not:

Yea, I sought him, but he could not be found."

Psalm 23:1-6 :35-36.

Taking root - This figure, to denote prosperous and rapid growth, is often used in the Scriptures. Thus, in Psalm 1:3 :

"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,

That bringeth forth his fruit in his season."

So Isaiah 27:6 :

"Those that come out of Jacob shall he cause to take root;

Israel shall blossom and bud,

And shall fill the face of the world with fruit."

So Psalm 80:9-10 :


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). I have oft observed it in my experience. Having severely rebuked Job for his transports of passion and intemperate speeches against God, he now returns to his former argument, and proves that such dreadful and destructive judgments of God do not befall the righteous, but the wicked, as he observed, Job 4:7,8. Withal, he answers an objection concerning the present and seeming prosperity of the wicked, which he confesseth that he himself had sometimes observed.

The foolish, i. e. the wicked man, who is quite destitute of true, i.e. of spiritual and heavenly, wisdom.

Taking root; not only prosperous for the present, but, as it seemed, from all secure for the future, being strongly fortified with power, and riches, and children too, so as there was no appearance nor danger of a change.

Suddenly; in a moment, besides and before mine, and his own, and all other men’s expectation.

I cursed; either,

1. I judged that he was a cursed creature, notwithstanding all his prosperity; and I foresaw and foretold it by the rules of Scripture, or the direction of God’s Spirit, that he would certainly sooner or later be stripped of all his blessings, and have God’s curse fall heavily upon him. Or rather,

2. I saw and perceived, by, the event which followed his prosperity, that he was a man accursed of God. For he speaks not in these words of what his estate constantly was, even in the midst of his happiness, though even then he was really accursed; but of what it was by a sudden change.

His habitation; or, as the Hebrew word signifies, his pleasant or commodious habitation; persons or things in it, or belonging to it, being comprehended in that word by a usual metonymy. I have seen the foolish taking root,.... Such foolish wicked men as before described; those Eliphaz had observed to prosper in the world, and increase in riches, and even to have attained to a seeming stability and firmness, as if they would ever continue in such happy circumstances, see Jeremiah 12:2; by this he would obviate an objection that here might be raised and made against the assertion he was proving, that wicked men are afflicted and punished of God for their sins; whereas it is notorious that they are not in trouble as other men, but in very prosperous and flourishing circumstances; this he grants is their case for a while, as he had observed, but in a short time they pass away, they and their substance disappear, and are no more seen, as follows:

but suddenly I cursed his habitation; not that he wished ill to him, or imprecated evils upon him; for cursing and bitterness only fit the mouths of wicked men, and not good men, among whom Eliphaz must be allowed to be; but he immediately thought within himself, as soon as he saw the flourishing state of the wicked, that the curse of the Lord was in their houses, as in Proverbs 3:33; that they and all they had were under a curse, and that God find given them what they had with a curse, and had cursed all their blessings; which makes the difference between a good man and a wicked man; the one has what he has, his cottage and his small substance, with a blessing; the other his pleasant habitation, as the word (r) here used signifies, his stately palace, rich furniture, and large estates, with a curse; or he prognosticated, he foresaw, and could foretell, and that without pretending to an extraordinary spirit of prophecy, that in a short time the curse of God would light upon him, and upon his house, see Zechariah 5:3.

(r) "pulchritudini ejus", V. L. "commodam ejus", Cocceius; "amoenam", Schultens.

I have seen the {c} foolish taking root: but suddenly I {d} cursed his habitation.

(c) That is, the sinner that does not have the fear of God.

(d) I was not moved by his prosperity but knew that God had cursed him and his.

3. the foolish] Rather perhaps, a foolish man, the same word as in Job 5:2. Eliphaz cites an instance from his own experience confirming the truth stated in Job 5:2. He saw a man of this character taking root, and for the moment appearing to give promise of prosperity.

but suddenly I cursed] The meaning is not that Eliphaz cursed his habitation before-hand, foreseeing that destruction would certainly overtake him; but that, though this fool appeared prosperous and seemed preparing for enduring happiness, suddenly God’s judgment fell on him, and Eliphaz, seeing his desolation and knowing the true meaning of it, pronounced his habitation accursed; and this he did “suddenly,” so speedily in the midst of his apparent luxuriance did the curse of God wither up the prosperity of the fool.Verse 3. - I have seen the foolish taking root. The "I" is emphatic. "I myself have seen," etc. What Eliphaz had seen was that folly, i.e. sinful infatuation, was always punished. It might seem to prosper: the foolish man might seem to be taking root; but Eliphaz was not deceived by appearances - he saw through them, he knew that there was a curse upon the man's house, and so pronounced it accursed. And the ruin which he had foreseen, it is implied, followed. But suddenly; rather, immediately, without hesitation. I cursed his habitation; i.e. "pronounced it accursed, declared that the curse of God rested upon it?" 17 Is a mortal just before Eloah,

Or a man pure before his Maker?

18 Behold, He trusteth not His servants!

And His angels He chargeth with imperfection.

19 How much more those who dwell in houses of clay,

They are crushed as though they were moths.

20 From morning until evening, - so are they broken in pieces:

Unobserved they perish for ever.

21 Is it not so: the cord of their tent in them is torn away,

So they die, and not in wisdom?

The question arises whether מן is comparative: prae Deo, on which Mercier with penetration remarks: justior sit oportet qui immerito affligitur quam qui immerito affligit; or causal: a Deo, h.e., ita ut a Deo justificetur. All modern expositors rightly decide on the latter. Hahn justly maintains that עם and בּעיני are found in a similar connection in other places; and Job 32:2 is perhaps not to be explained in any other way, at least that does not restrict the present passage. By the servants of God, none but the angels, mentioned in the following line of the verse, are intended. שׂים with בּ signifies imputare (1 Samuel 22:15); in Job 24:12 (comp. Job 1:22) we read תּפלה, absurditatem (which Hupf. wishes to restore even here), joined with the verb in this signification. The form תּהלה is certainly not to be taken as stultitia from the verb הלל; the half vowel, and still less the absence of the Dagesh, will not allow this. תּרן (Olsh. 213, c), itself uncertain in its etymology, presents no available analogy. The form points to a Lamedh-He verb, as תּרמה from רמה, so perhaps from הלה, Niph. נהלא, remotus, Micah 4:7 : being distant, being behind the perfect, difference; or even from הלה (Targ. הלא, Pa. הלּי) equals לאה, weakness, want of strength.

(Note: Schnurrer compares the Arabic wahila, which signifies to be relaxed, forgetful, to err, to neglect. Ewald, considering the ת as radical, compares the Arabic dll, to err, and tâl, med. wau, to be dizzy, unconscious; but neither from והל nor from תּהל can the substantival form be sustained.)

Both significations will do, for it is not meant that the good spirits positively sin, as if sin were a natural necessary consequence of their creatureship and finite existence, but that even the holiness of the good spirits is never equal to the absolute holiness of God, and that this deficiency is still greater in spirit-corporeal man, who has earthiness as the basis of his original nature. At the same time, it is presupposed that the distance between God and created earth is disproportionately greater than between God and created spirit, since matter is destined to be exalted to the nature of the spirit, but also brings the spirit into the danger of being degraded to its own level.

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