Job xxxi.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. I made. Job is compelled to proclaim his own praises, for his vindication, as St. Paul was, being at the same time convinced that he had only done his duty, Luke xvii. 10. This is the third part of his discourse. Having given a picture of his prosperous and of his miserable condition, he observes that the latter was not inflicted in consequence of any misconduct, since he had always been attentive to avoid (Calmet) the most remote danger of offending God, or his neighbour. (Haydock) — That I. Hebrew, “for why should I think upon a virgin?” (Haydock) — Why should I expose myself, (Calmet) by indiscreet looks, (Haydock) since the passage from the eye to the heart is so easy, Ecclesiastes ii. 10. (Menochius) — In the warfare between the flesh and the spirit, Job deemed this precaution necessary, (Worthington) and was thus preserved from carnal thoughts. (St. Gregory xx. 2.)

Ver. 2. High, if I should give way to such unchaste thoughts. (Menochius)

Ver. 3. Aversion of God. Hebrew “strange punishment.” (Protestants) Incontinence is a source of much mischief, and of the most dreadful punishments, as the deluge and fate of Sodom evince. (Haydock)

Ver. 5. Vanity, or hypocrisy, (Calmet) so as to overreach others. (Menochius)

Ver. 6. Simplicity, and “uprightness.” Tummathi. (Haydock)

Ver. 7. Eyes. Sixtus V read, “If my eye hath followed my heart.” (Calmet) — Job kept the utmost restraint both upon his eyes and heart, that no evil impressions from exterior objects might cause his ruin, Numbers xv. 39. (Haydock) — Hands, from presents, (Calmet) or injustice, particularly that of impurity. (Haydock)

Ver. 9. Door, to seduce his wife. (Calmet) (Menochius)

Ver. 10. Let. Hebrew, “Let my wife grind for another, and let others bend over her,” urging her to work like the meanest slave. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “Let my wife please (Grabe substitutes l for r, and reads alesai, grind for) another, and my little children be brought low.” (Haydock) — Yet the sense of the Vulgate is most followed, Ecclesiasticus xlvii. 21., and Lamentations v. 13. Ausonius (epig. 5) says, molitur per utramque cavernam. (Calmet)

Ver. 11. This adultery, to which I might have given way, and that of others with my wife, (Haydock) which would have been a requital, of which I could not indeed have complained, (Menochius) but which is nevertheless a most heinous offence. (Haydock) — Iniquity. Hebrew, “a crime of judgment,” or capital, Genesis xxxviii. 24. (Calmet) — The canons of the Church (Haydock) have ranked adultery with murder and idolatry, which shews the horror in which it is held. (Calmet)

Ver. 12. Spring; the children, Ecclesiasticus xxiii. 35., and Wisdom iv. 3. (Calmet) — Protestants, “all mine increase.” (Haydock) — Adulteresses were formerly consigned to the flames. The injured husband would resent the offence, and even dislike her former children. Love is also like a fire, and those who entertain it, may soon consume all their substance (Menochius) in feasting and presents. Above all, the fire of God’s indignation in hell will still pursue the libidinous.

Ver. 13. Me, in private; as slaves had no redress in the common courts of judicature. We cannot but admire Job’s humility, and noble sentiments of God, (Calmet) whose majesty will eclipse all human grandeur, and place the master and the servant on the same level. (St. Gregory; St. Augustine, City of God x. 25.) (Ephesians vi. 9., and Colossians iv. 1.)

Ver. 16. Wait, and not given sentence in due time, (Haydock) but frustrated her expectation. (Menochius)

Ver. 17. Alone. This was objected to St. Chrysostom. (Calmet) — But his conduct proceeded not from pride or avarice. (Haydock) — The ancient patriarchs delighted much in the exercise of hospitality; and Tobias (iv. 17.) exhorts his son to invite the poor. Cœna, or “supper,” received its name from many eating “together,” while people dined alone. (Plut.[Plutarch?] Sym. viii. prob. 6.)

Ver. 18. Womb. I was of a compassionate disposition, with which I always corresponded. (St. Gregory) — Hebrew, “from my youth, pity (ceab, which Protestants translate “as with a father.” Haydock) grew up with me; and from my birth I have preserved it!” (Calmet) — Protestants, “From my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father, and I have guided her (the widow, margin) from my mother’s womb.” Septuagint, “I fed him as a father, Theodotion adds, and was his leader from,” &c. It was my earliest delight to assist the afflicted orphan and widow. (Haydock)

Ver. 20. Blessed me for clothing. (Menochius)

Ver. 21. Gate, in judgment, (Calmet) where I was the supreme judge, (Haydock) and none could resist me.

Ver. 22. With. Hebrew, “from its bone,” at the elbow. (Septuagint) (Calmet)

Ver. 23. Bear. I knew that he would resent the injury, though I might, for a time, oppress the weak.

Ver. 24. Fine obrizo. Hebrew cethem, chap. xxviii. 15. (Haydock)

Ver. 27. Rejoiced. Hebrew and Chaldean, “been seduced” to idolatry. (Menochius) — The worship of the sun and moon was most ancient, Ezechiel viii. 16. — Mouth, to testify respect and admiration. This custom prevailed in many nations. Lucian (dial. de sacrif.) observes that this only sacrifice of the poor was not disregarded. The Syrians still extend their hands towards the altar, and then apply them to their mouth and eyes, when the body and blood of Christ are offered in the Mass. (Life of M. de Chateuil.) (Calmet) — Septuagint, (26) “Do I not see the shining sun eclipsed, (Haydock) and the moon disappear, for light does not belong to them,” but to the Creator, from whom we have every thing; (Calmet) so that we should not swell with pride. Theodotion adds, (27) “and if my heart was secretly deceived.” Septuagint continue, “if indeed, putting my hand to my mouth, I kissed, (28) this would also be imputed to me as a great transgression, because I should have acted falsely before the most high God.” (Haydock) — He will admit of no rival; hence the man who admits another god, denies Him. (Menochius) — Job repels the charge which had been indirectly brought against him. (Worthington)

Ver. 29. Rejoiced. Hebrew, “lifted up myself.” Septuagint, “said in my heart, well, well;” euge. (Haydock) — These sentiments of perfection shew that the same Spirit animated those who lived under the law of nature, as well as those who were favoured with the Mosaic or Christian dispensation. (Calmet)

Ver. 30. For. Septuagint, “Then let mine ear hear my curse, and may I fall a prey to the whispers of my people.”

Ver. 31. Filled. If my servants have not testified sufficient affection for me, (Haydock) because I kept them under restraint, and obliged them to wait on my guests, (Menochius; St. Gregory) I still would not omit that duty; (ver. 32.; Haydock) or if they gave way to the greatest excesses of rage, so as to threaten to devour me, I refrained from wishing any evil to my enemy, ver. 30. (Calmet) — Others suppose that Job’s domestics urged him on to revenge, and spoke as if they were ready to eat his enemies; (Cajetan; Tirinus) while some explain the expression in a contrary sense, to denote the extreme attachment of Job’s servants to his person; in which manner the Church uses it, speaking of Christ’s feeding us with his own body and blood. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “If frequently my maids said who?” &c. Hebrew, “said not, oh! that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied.” (Protestants) (Haydock) — Have I given my servants any reason to utter these expressions?

Ver. 33. A man. Hebrew, “Adam,” who, to excuse himself, threw the blame upon Eve, Genesis iii. 12. (Calmet) — His posterity have too frequently imitated his example. The name of Adam often designates any man. (Haydock) — It was requisite that Job should assert his sincerity, that his friends might not suppose that he was actuated by self-love or obstinacy to defend his innocence. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “If falling into an involuntary fault I hid my sin, (for I feared not the crowd of people, that I should not plead before them) but if I let the needy pass my gate with his bosom empty.” Theodotion xxxv. subjoins, “who would give me a hearer? but if I did not revere the hand of the Lord.” Septuagint go on, “the bond which I had against any one, if I placed on my shoulder, as a crown, and read, and did not rather tear it, and give it up, taking nothing from my debtor. If,” &c., ver. 38. According to this version, Job insists on his pity for the distressed, and shews that he had no reason to fear. But the Hebrew is more conformable to the Vulgate.

Ver. 34. Have not. Hebrew, “that I kept silence, not going out of doors” to defend the innocent. (Haydock) — Moses commands judges to do their duty without fear, Exodus xxiii. 2. People in such situations ought to be uninfluenced by hatred, love, &c. Cæsar says, justly, (in Sallust) “qui de rebus dubiis consultant, ab odio, amicitia, ira atque misericordia vacuos esse decet. Haud facile animus verum providet, ubi illa officiunt.” (Haydock)

Ver. 35. He himself. Hebrew, “my adversary would write a book.” His very accusation would establish my cause, provided he adhered to the truth. (Calmet) — I would carry it about as a trophy. (Haydock) — A book. The judge wrote down the sentence. Job appeals to God, and fears not being condemned.

Ver. 36. Crown. This shews that something pliable was then used to write on. The people of the East still lift up to their heads such letters as they respect. (Chardin Perse, p. 218.) See 4 Kings xi. 12. (Calmet)

Ver. 37. To a. Hebrew, “as a prince would I approach to him,” and not fear my adversary. (Haydock)

Ver. 38. Mourn, as if I possessed the land unjustly, or had committed some crime.

Ver. 39. Money. Or paying for them. (Menochius) — And have. Protestants, “or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life.”

Ver. 40. Thorns. Protestants, “cockle.” Marginal note, “loathsome weeds.” (Haydock) — The precise import of the word is not known; but it means something “stinking.” (Calmet) — Septuagint, Batos, “a briar.” (Haydock) — Ended. Many Latin editions omit these words with St. Gregory, &c. The old Vulgate has & quieverunt verba Job, as a title. (Calmet) — Septuagint place at the beginning of the next chapter, “And Job ceased to speak. His three friends also left off contending with Job; for Job was just before them.” Grabe substitutes “himself,” as they were not perhaps yet convinced. (Haydock) — Job, however, addresses his discourse no more to them, but only to God, (Calmet) acknowledging some unadvised speeches; (Worthington) or want of information. (Haydock)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Job, to defend himself from the unjust judgments of his friends, gives a sincere account of his own virtues.

1 I made a covenant with my eyes, that I would not so much as think upon a virgin.

2 For what part should God from above have in me, and what inheritance the Almighty from on high?

3 Is not destruction to the wicked, and aversion to them that work iniquity?

4 Doth not he consider my ways, and number all my steps?

5 If I have walked in vanity, and my foot hath made haste to deceit:

6 Let him weigh me in a just balance, and let God know my simplicity.

7 If my step hath turned out of the way, and if my heart hath followed my eyes, and if a spot hath cleaved to my hands:

8 Then let me sow, and let another eat: and let my offspring be rooted out.

9 If my heart hath been deceived upon a woman, and if I have laid wait at my friend’s door:

10 Let my wife be the harlot of another, and let other men lie with her.

11 For this is a heinous crime, and a most grievous iniquity.

12 It is a fire that devoureth even to destruction, and rooteth up all things that spring.

13 If I have despised to abide judgment with my man-servant, or my maid-servant, when they had any controversy against me:

14 For what shall I do when God shall rise to judge? and when he shall examine, what shall I answer him?

15 Did not he that made me in the womb make him also: and did not one and the same form me in the womb?

16 If I have denied to the poor what they desired, and have made the eyes of the widow wait:

17 If I have eaten my morsel alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof:

18 (For from my infancy mercy grew up with me: and it came out with me from my mother’s womb:)

19 If I have despised him that was perishing for want of clothing, and the poor man that had no covering:

20 If his sides have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep:

21 If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, even when I saw myself superior in the gate:

22 Let my shoulder fall from its joint, and let my arm, with its bones, be broken.

23 For I have always feared God as waves swelling over me, and his weight I was not able to bear.

24 If I have thought gold my strength, and have said to fine gold: My confidence.

25 If I have rejoiced over my great riches, and because my hand had gotten much.

26 If I beheld the sun when it shined, and the moon going in brightness:

27 And my heart in secret hath rejoiced, and I have kissed my hand with my mouth:

28 Which is a very great iniquity, and a denial against the most high God.

29 If I have been glad at the downfall of him that hated me, and have rejoiced that evil had found him.

30 For I have not given my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul.

31 If the men of my tabernacle have not said: Who will give us of his flesh that we may be filled?

32 The stranger did not stay without; my door was open to the traveller.

33 If as a man I have hid my sin, and have concealed my iniquity in my bosom.

34 If I have been afraid at a very great multitude, and the contempt of kinsmen hath terrified me: and I have not rather held my peace, and not gone out of the door.

35 Who would grant me a hearer, that the Almighty may hear my desire: and that he himself that judges would write a book;

36 That I may carry it on my shoulder, and put it about me as a crown?

37 At every step of mine I would pronounce it, and offer it as to a prince.

38 If my land cry against me, and with it the furrows thereof mourn:

39 If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money, and have afflicted the soul of the tillers thereof:

40 Let thistles grow up to me, instead of wheat, and thorns instead of barley.

[The words of Job are ended.]