Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.
Verses 1-13. - This chapter concludes the "Introductory section." It consists of three parts. Vers. 1-6 contain an account of Satan's second appearance in the courts of heaven, and of a second colloquy between him and the Almighty. Vers. 7-10 contain the sequel to this colloquy, viz. Satan's further affliction of Job, and his conduct under it. Vers. 11-13 contain an account of the arrival of Job's three special friends to mourn with him and to comfort him; and of their behavior during the first seven days after their arrival Verse 1. - Again there was a day when the sons of God same to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. There is no "again" in the original. The words used are an exact repetition of those contained in ver. 6 of ch. 1. But they mark, no doubt, a second occasion on which the angelic host came to present themselves before the throne of God, and Satan came with them. To present himself before the Lord. These words are additional to those used in the former passage. We may gather from them, that, whereas on the former occasion Satan came only to observe, and with no intention of drawing God's special attention to himself, he now had such intention, and looked forward to a colloquy. He anticipated, doubtless, that the circumstances of Job's probation would be referred to, and he had prepared himself to make answer.
And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
Verse 2. - And the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it (see the comment on Job 1:7, of which this is an almost exact repetition).
And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.
Verse 3. - And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou conquered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Thus far is identical with Job 1:1 (quod vide). The rest of the verse is additional, having reference to the conduct of Job under his earlier trials (Job 1:20-22). And still he holdeth fast his integrity. This has been justly called "the key-note of the whole book" (Cook). Satan had declared that Job's integrity rested on no solid basis, and would easily be overthrown and disappear. God, confident in his servant's faithfulness and truth, had allowed him to assail it. What was the result? God declares it with his own mouth. Job's "integrity" had not been wrested from him; he still maintained it (Job 1:21, 22), as he was about to do till the end (Job 42:1-6). Compare the ideal "just man" of Horace -
Justum et tenacem propositi virum
Non civium ardor prava jubentium,
Non vultus instantis tyranny
Menta quatit solida, neque Anster,
Dux inquieti turbidus Hadriae ....
Si fractus illabatur orbis,
Impavidum ferient ruinae."
(Od.,' 3:3.) Although thou movedst me against him (see Job 1:9-11), to destroy him; literally, to swallow him up; i.e. to ruin him, overwhelm him with calamities. Without cause; i.e. "when he had done nothing to deserve such treatment."
And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.
Verse 4. - And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin. No doubt a proverbial expression, resembling "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth; Tit for tat," and the like; but not expressive of retaliation. Satan means that, to keep his own "skin" intact, a man will sacrifice another's "skin;" even that of his nearest and dearest. Job, he insinuates, submitted to the loss of his children without a murmur, because he feared that otherwise God would stretch forth his hand against his person, and smite it or destroy it. He cannot imagine any motive for submission and apparent resignation but a selfish one (comp. Job 1:9). Yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life; i.e. "a man will submit to the loss, not only of all his possessions, but even of those whom he loves best, to save his own life - he will do anything for that." So the "false accuser." All the numerous acts of self-sacrifice which human history presents, and has presented from the first, are ignored.
But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
Verse 5. - But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; i.e. "his person" - any part of his body. And he will curse thee to thy face (see the comment on Job 11:11).
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.
Verse 6. - And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold he is in thine hand; i.e. "he is in thy power, to do with him as thou pleasest" - except in one respect. Again it is strongly marked that Satan's power is under God's control, and extends only so far as God shows. But save his life; rather, only spare his life (Revised Version). The didactic purposes for which God was allowing his faithful servant to be tried in the furnace of affliction would have been frustrated by Job's removal from the earth. Individually he might equally well have been compensated in another world; but then the lesson of his example to living men, and the lesson of his story to all future generations of mankind, would have been lost. Besides, God but rarely, in the old world, gave a faithful servant, still in the full vigour of life (Job 42:16, 17), "over unto death" (Psalm 118:18).
So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
Verse 7.- So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord (comp. Job 1:12, ad fin.). Satan, we may be sure, is always anxious to quit the immediate presence o
And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.
Verse 8. - And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal. "The surface of the integuments," says Dr. Quain, "is often much inflamed, and sometimes discharges a serous ichor, or chyle-like fluid, according to the extent to which the lymphatics are engaged in the particular ease" (ibid., p. 432). This "serous or lymph-like fluid" is occasionally "acrid and offensive." Job seems to have used his potsherd to scrape it away. And he sat down among the ashes. Not as a curative process, or even as an alleviation of his pains, but simply as was the custom of mourners (comp. Isaiah 47:3; Isaiah 58:5; Jeremiah 6:26; Ezekiel 27:30; Jonah 3:6). The LXX. renders, "on the dung-heap;" but this meaning, if a possible one, is highly improbable.
Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.
Verse 9. - Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Job's wife had said nothing when the other calamities had taken place - then she had "refrained her tongue, and kept silence," though probably with some difficulty. Now she can endure no longer. To see her husband so afflicted, and so patient under his afflictions, is more than she can bear. Her mind is weak and ill regulated, and she suffers herself to become Satan's ally and her husband's worst enemy. It is noticeable that she urges her husband to do exactly that which Satan had suggested that he would do (Job 1:11; Job 2:5), and had evidently wished him to do, thus fighting on his side, and increasing her husband's difficulties The only other mention of her (Job 19:17) implies that she was rather a hindrance than a help to Job. Curse God, and die; i.e. "renounce God, put all regard for him away from thee, even though he kill thee for so doing." Job's wife implies that death is preferable to such a life as Job now leads and must expect to lead henceforward.
But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
Verse 10. - But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh; rather, as one of the vile (or impious) women speaketh. Nabal, the term used, is expressive, not of mere natural folly, but of that perversion of the intellect which comes on men when their hearts and understandings are corrupted and degraded.. (see 2 Samuel 13:13; Psalm 14:1; Isaiah 32:6). What? shall we receive good at the hand of God and shall we not receive evil? Job remembers all the good which he has received of God during his past life, all the blessings and prosperity bestowed on him (Job 1:2, 3), and asks - Would it be fair or right to take all the good things as a matter of course, and then to murmur if evil things are sent? He accepts both prosperity and affliction as coming from God, and expresses himself as willing to submit to his will. But he has, perhaps, scarcely attained to the conviction that whatever God sends to his faithful servants is always that which is best for them - that afflictions, in fact, are blessings in disguise, and ought to be received with gratitude, not with murmuring (comp. Hebrews 12:5-11). In all this did not Job sin with his lips. Thus far, that is, Job "kept the door of his mouth" strictly, righteously, piously. Later on he was not always so entirely free from fault.
Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.
Verse 11. - Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him. It is not to be supposed that Job had no more than three friends - indeed, Elihu the Buzzite appears later on as one of his friends (Job 32:2-6) - but he had three contemporaries with whom he was especially intimate, old men (Job 32:6), with whom he was probably accustomed to confer from time to time, and who were in the habit of giving him their advice. All three, apparently, lived at a distance; and it seems to have been some weeks before the news of his misfortunes reached them. When the news came they held communication one with another, and agreed to pay him visits of condolence at a certain definite time, which was determined upon between them. Some months - at least two - seem to have elapsed between the date of Job's latest affliction and the time of their arrival (Job 7:3). They came every one from his own place. They had separate homes, and probably lived at some considerable distance from one another. Eliphaz the Temanite. There was an Eliphaz, the son of Esau by his wife Adah, who had a son Teman (Genesis 36:4; 1 Chronicles 1:35, 36); but it is not supposed that this can be the person here intended. The name Teman did not become geographical until the descendants of this Eliphaz's son had multiplied into a tribe, when they gave name to the portion of Arabia which they inhabited. This tract seems to have been either a part of Edom, or in its immediate vicinity (Genesis 36:42, 43; Jeremiah 49:7, 8, 20; Ezekiel 25:15; Obadiah 1:8, 9), but cannot be located with accuracy. The Temanitee were celebrated for their wisdom, as we learn from Jeremiah, who says (Jeremiah 49:7), "Concerning Edom, thus saith the Lord of hosts; Is wisdom no more in Teman? is counsel perished from the prudent? is their wisdom vanished?" Job's friend was probably among their wisest men at the time; and his discourses certainly show a considerable knowledge of human nature. They do not, however, solve the riddle of the universe. And Bildad the Shuhite. Bildad is a name which does not occur elsewhere in Scripture, neither is there any other mention of Shuhites. Conjecture has identified the Shuhites with the Saccaei of Ptolemy ('Geograph.,' 5:15), whom he places in the neighbourhood of Batanaea and Trachonitis. But the Saccaei are unheard of till Ptolemy's time, and seem to be a tribe of very small importance. Perhaps Bildad belonged to the people known to the Assyrians as the Tsukhi, or Sukhi ('Records of the Past,' vol. 1. p. 14), who dwelt on the Middle Euphrates from about Anah to Hit ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. pp. 66, 67). And Zophar the Naamathite. Zophar, or rather Tsophar, is another unknown name. There was a Naamah, a city, in south-western Judaea (Joshua 15:41), to which Zophar may have belonged, though probably a region, rather than a city, is here intended. For they had made an appointment together; or, agreed together, by message or letter probably. To come to mourn with him and to comfort him. A good intention, at any rate, and one agreeable to the apostolic injunction to us to "weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15). That they failed to carry out their intention (Job 16:2; Job 21:34) was owing to a want of judgment, and, perhaps, in part, to a want of love.
And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.
Verse 12. - And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not. Job was seated on an ash-heap outside his dwelling (ver. 8). The three friends, who had probably met by agreement at some point near his residence, and drew nigh together, saw the figure at some distance, and looked to see who it was. But Job was so disfigured by the disease that they failed to recognize him. They lifted up their voice, and wept. In the clamorous manner of Orientals (comp. Herod., 2:14; 3:119; 8:99; 9:24; and AEschylus, 'Persae" passim). And they rent every one his mantle (see the comment on Job 1:20), and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven (comp. Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2; 2 Samuel 13:19; Nehemiah 9:1; Ezekiel 27:30; Lamentations 2:10; and see also Homer, 'I1,' 18:22-24; Helioder, ' Hist. Æth.; 1.)
So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.
Verse 13. - So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights. Professor Lee supposes that this is not to be taken literally. "It means" he says, "that they sat with him a considerable length of time before they opened the question discussed in this book, not that they sat precisely seven days and seven nights, and said not so much as one word to him" ('The Book of the Patriarch Job; p. 194). But the period of" seven days" was appropriate to mournings (Genesis 1:10 2Samuel 31:13 Ezekiel 3:15), and if they could stay with him one day and one night without speaking, why not seven? Food would be brought them, and they might sleep rolled up in their begeds. The long silence may be accounted for by the fact that "among the Jews," and among Orientals generally, "it is a point of decorum, and one dictated by a fine and true feeling, not to speak to a person in deep affliction until he gives an intimation of a desire to be comforted" (Cook). So long as Job kept silence they had to keep silence, at least so far as he was concerned. They might speak to any attendants who drew near, and they might speak one to another. Note the words which follow: And none spake a word unto him None spake to him; but no etiquette imposed complete silence on them. For they saw that his grief was very great. So great that he could not as yet bear to be spoken to.