Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. I know. So the Keri orders us to translate, with all the ancient versions, as the Hebrew text has, “thou knowest;” which Prof. Chappelow and Schultens deem more “sublime,” though one would think it was hardly “sense.” (Kennicott) — Hid. Hebrew, “of thine can be hindered.” All thy orders must be obeyed. It is in vain to keep silence: (chap. xxxix. 34.) I will confess openly thy justice and power. (Haydock) — He acknowledges his error, in not having before spoken enough of a just Providence. (Worthington)
Ver. 3. Who. Hebrew, “Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge?” (Protestants) This seems to allude to the words of God, chap. xxxviii. 2. Each of my friends has only rendered the ways of Providence more obscure, and I myself have not perfectly understood them. (Haydock) — Unwisely. See chap. xxxix. 35. (Worthington) (Du Hamel) — Hebrew, “without knowledge, things wonderful to me, which I knew not.” (Haydock) — Now I comprehend that thou didst not afflict me, but hast given me into the hands of the enemy, as thou wilt hereafter do others of the greatest virtue, that their patience may shine the brighter, and be rewarded. I need inquire no farther, now I see thy design plainly, ver. 5. He does not accuse himself of any sin or false assertion, but acknowledges his infirmity in not having understood this before, ver. 6. (Houbigant) — Septuagint, “I have been told what I knew not, things great and wonderful, of which I was not apprized.” (Haydock) — Who can deny God’s providence? (Du Hamel)
Ver. 5. Seeth thee. Some have thought that God now manifested himself from the cloud. (Eusebius, Dem. i. 4.; Titalman, &c.) But all now agree that he only enlightened his understanding, and made known his designs more clearly. (Calmet) — Job now perceived that he had spoken too boldly, in saying, Hear, and I will speak, &c., ver. 4. The rest of this book is in prose. (Tirinus)
Ver. 6. Reprehend. Hebrew and Septuagint, “vilify.” (Haydock) — I recall the obscure expression which has occasioned my friends to mistake. (Du Hamel) — Penance. Hebrew, “groan.” Septuagint, “pine away, I look upon myself as dust and ashes.” Such are the sentiments which every one will entertain the nearer he approaches to the divine Majesty. (Haydock) — I no longer assert my innocence, but wait patiently in my present forlorn condition, till thou shalt be pleased to dispose of me. How much would the reputation and authority of Job sink, if some of his assertions had been destitute of truth, particularly as the sacred author does not mention which they were! But God exculpates his servant, ver. 8. (Houbigant) — Chaldean, “I have despised my riches, and I am comforted with respect to my children, who are now reduced to dust and ashes.” I find a consolation in submitting patiently to my sufferings, which I may have deserved on account of my unguarded speeches. (Calmet) — Job waits not for God’s answer, ver. 4. He at once feels an interior light, and is resigned. (Haydock) — He had defended the truth against men: now, with more resignation, he is content to suffer, and does penance for himself and others. (Worthington)
Ver. 7. Two friends. It is astonishing that Eliu is not also reprehended, as he was no better than the rest. Some answer, that God had passed sentence upon him first. Others maintain, that he spoke with greater dignity of God’s judgments, and that his ignorance was blameless; while others remark, that he was connected with some of the three friends, or only came accidentally to enter into the debate. God gives sentence in favour of Job, though with some reproof for his manner of speaking. — As. They had maintained false doctrines, and shewed a want of due respect and compassion for their friend; (Tirinus) whereas Job’s assertions were true. (Calmet) — How then can he be accused of denying the divine justice, or of speaking disrespectfully of Providence? God seemed to interrogate him on this account, though he approved of his sentiments, because some might draw such inferences from his words as all his friends did. But Job entertained no such ideas. He was not guilty of such folly, ver. 8. Septuagint, “Thou hast sinned, and thy two friends, for you have spoken in my presence nothing true like my servant Job.”
Ver. 8. Offer. Septuagint, “Thou shalt make an oblation, karpoma, for you.” (Haydock) — Yet holocausts seem to have been the only species of sacrifice before Moses. The number seven, has always been in a manner sacred; (Calmet) being doubled, it shews the greatness of the offence. (St. Gregory) (Worthington) — Job was to present these victims to God, (Calmet) as the priest and mediator, (Du Hamel) of whom God approved. He officiated for his family, (Calmet) and was the most honourable person there. (Haydock) — It seems Job was not present when God gave this injunction; perhaps some time after their debates. (Calmet) — Pray. Behold the efficacy of the prayers of the saints, even while upon earth. How much greater will it be, when their charity is greater and unfailing! (Haydock) — The many sacrifices would not have sufficed, if Job had not joined his prayer, as St. Chrysostom (or 5 con. Judœos) observes. His mediation did not derogate from God’s mercy, under the law of nature; not does that of other men injure Christ’s, under the law of grace, 2 Corinthians i. 11. We have here also a proof that both sacrifice and the devotion of the offerer, have their distinct effects; opus operatum, and opus operantis, as the schoolmen speak. Thus Job was honourably acquitted, while his friends were justly rebuked. Eliu needed no express condemnation; as what God says to one, must be applied to another in the same circumstances, chap. xxxiii. 14. Protestants are therefore inexcusable, who preach a doctrine not only condemned in their fellows, Luther, &c., but long before in ancient heretics: as the justification by faith alone was in the apostles’ time, the rejection of ceremonies in baptism, of confirmation and penance, in the Novatians, &c. See St. Cyprian iv. ep. 2. (Worthington) — Face. Septuagint, “For I would not accept his face, and if it were not on his account, I had surely destroyed you. For you have not said to me any thing good (Roman Septuagint, true,) against (or concerning, kata,) my servant Job.” They acted both against charity and truth. (Haydock) — Before. Protestants, “of me the thing which is right.” The words underlined were not so in the earlier edition by Barker, printer to James I, (1613) where some of the margin translations are also omitted, ver. 14, &c. The matter is of no farther consequence, than to shew that alterations have taken place since the days of James I, whose Bible is supposed to be the standard of the English Church. The marginal version is also frequently neglected altogether, (the year of our Lord 1706) though the authors seem to have looked upon it as equally probable with that in the text. (Pref.) (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Penance. Hebrew, “return.” He resolved to restore him to his former prosperous condition, while he prayed for those who had so cruelly exercised his patience. (Calmet) — Protestants and Vatable, “the Lord turned the captivity of Job:” so any great distress may be styled, though Job was in a manner abandoned to the power and bondage of satan. Septuagint, “But the Lord gave an increase to Job, and while he was praying for his friends, He forgave them their sin. And,” &c. (Haydock) — Twice, excepting children, who were living (Worthington) with God. (Rabbins) (St. Gregory, &c.) — Some also include the years of Job’s life, but that is not clear, (see Spanheim, c. 7.; Calmet) though not improbable; as he might very well live twice as long as he had done, if we suppose that he was about (Haydock) 50 when he was so much distressed (Petau); and thus arrived at the age of 140, ver. 16. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. Brethren. Who had before shamefully abandoned him, chap. vi. 13. (Calmet) — Bemoaned. Literally, “shaked their heads at him,” (Haydock) out of pity, (Menochius) or astonishment, (Tirinus; Calmet) at his fallen state, and at the present change for the better. They helped to restore him to affluence, in conformity with the will of God, who caused their presents of multiply. The kindred and friends of Job were undoubtedly numerous. (Haydock) — Ewe. Kesita, “lamb,” as most of the ancients agree, (Spanheim) or a piece of money, (Bochart) marked with the figure of a lamb. (Grotius) See Genesis xxxiii. 19. (Calmet) — Ear-ring. Hebrew Nezem, an ornament (Haydock) “for the nose,” still very common in the East. Symmachus adds, “it was unadorned,” (Calmet) or plain. Septuagint, “a piece of gold worth four drachms, and not coined,” asemon. (Haydock) — Oleaster supposes that the nose was perforated, like the ear. But the ornament would thus be very inconvenient, and we may rather conclude that it hung down from the forehead upon the nose. (St. Jerome, in Ezechiel xvi.) (Pineda)
Ver. 12. Asses. Septuagint, “droves of,” &c., which would greatly increase the number.
Ver. 14. Dies, &c. “Day….cassia….and horn of antimony.” (Hebrew) — Yemima….Ketsiha….Keren hapuc. This last may signify (Haydock) “horn of change,” (Pagnin) in allusion to Job’s different states. (Menochius) (Du Hamel) — Sometimes we find the Latin names retained, and at other times translated. It would perhaps be as well to give their force uniformly in English, or rather to insert the original terms, if they could be now properly expressed. But that is impossible. Protestants, Jemima, “handsome as the day.” Kezia, “superficies, angle, or cassia.” Keren-happuch, “the horn or child of beauty.” The marginal explanations are given at least in the edition Edinb. 1787. (Haydock) — Cassia, an aromatic herb, which is perhaps not now to be found in Europe, Matthiol. in Dios. i. 12. — The Arabs like to give such names to their children. (Spanheim, Hist. Job.) — Cornustibii, (Hebrew Puc) means a sort of paint, used to blacken the eyelids, (4 Kings ix. 30.) or a precious stone, Isaias liv. 11. Chaldean, “brilliant as an emerald.” She was so styled, on account of her great beauty, (Calmet) in which she was not inferior to her two sisters. Septuagint, “Horn of Amalthea,” (Haydock) or of plenty, (Calmet) which is not an approbation of the fable, but to show the abundance which Job now enjoyed. (Nicetas.) — Cassia might remind him of the bad smells to which he had been exposed. (Menochius) (Tirinus)
Ver. 15. Daughters. Alexandrian Septuagint adds, “and sons.” — Brethren. This was contrary to the custom of the Jews, (Numbers xxvii. 8.) but conformable to the Roman laws, and to the Koran. (Sur. 4.) (Calmet)
Ver. 16. Years, in all, as Judith is said to have dwelt in the house of her husband 105 years; though it is agreed that she only lived that space of time. (Haydock) — Authors are much divided about the length of Job’s life. Some suppose that he was afflicted with the leprosy at the age of 70, for several months, (Tirinus) or for a whole year, (Calmet) or for seven, (Salien) and that he lived twice as long after his re-establishment, in all 210. (Calmet) (Tirinus) Septuagint, “Job lived after his chastisement 170,” (Grabe substitutes 140 years. Then he marks with an obel as redundant) “but all the years which he lived were 248;” and adds from Theodition, “And Job saw his sons and their children, even the fourth generation.” (Haydock) — The old Vulgate had also 248 years; while some Greek copies read 740. But Grotius thinks the life of Job was not extended beyond 200. Petau and Spanheim say 189, (Calmet) and Pindea 210, or rather 280, years. Yet the life of man, in the days of Moses, his contemporary, was not often longer than 120; so that if we allow Job 140, he would be an old man, and might see the fourth generation, ver. 10. (Haydock) — The Greeks celebrate his festival on the 6th, the Latins on the 10th of May. (Pineda) — Days. Here a long addition is found in the Greek, Arabic, and old Vulgate; and Theodotion has also inserted it in his version, as it seems to contain a true and ancient tradition, (see Eusebius, pręp. ix. 25.) though the Fathers have properly distinguished it from the inspired text. It stands thus in the Alexandrian Septuagint with an obel prefixed: “But it is written, that he shall be raised again, with those whom the Lord will restore to life.” He, this man, as it is translated from the Syriac book, lived in the land of Ausites, (Hus.) on the borders of Idumea, and of Arabia, and was before called Jobab. But marrying an Arabian woman, he begot a son by name Ennon. But his father was Zareth, a descendant of the sons of Esau, and his mother was Bossora; (Arabic, a native of Bosra) so that he was the 5th (Arabic, the 6th) from Abraham. Now these were the kings who reigned in Edom; over which country he also ruled. First, Balac, son of Semphor; (others have Beor) and the name of his city was Dennaba. After Balak, Jobab, who is called Job. After him, Assom, a leader from the country of Theman. After this man, Adad, son of Barad, who slew Madian in the plain of Moab; and the name of his city was Gethaim. But the friends who came to him were, Eliphaz, [son of Sophan] of the sons of Esau, king of the Themanites; Baldad, [son of Amnon, of Chobar] of the Auchite tyrant; (Grabe substitutes the tyrant of the Saucheans, as they call our Suhites) Sophar, king of the Mineans.” What is marked with crotchets, (Haydock) has been probably taken from Theodotion. See the Greek Catena. What follows occurs in the Alexandrian manuscript. (Calmet) — “[Theman, son of Eliphaz, he, as the Syriac book is rendered, lived in the land of Ausites, on the borders of the Euphrates. His former name was Jobab, but Zareth was his father, from the sun rising.”] or eastern country. (Haydock) — Job might very well be the 5th or 6th from Abraham, if he were a contemporary with Moses, as Levi and Amram would live at the same time with Rahuel and Zare; (See 1 Paralipomenon i. 35, 44.) so that this tradition agrees with history. But what is said of the Syriac version is not so certain. (Calmet) — Some think the Syriac or Arabic was the original text, as the Greek seems to indicate, outos ermeneuetai ek tes Suriakes Biblou, en men ge katoikon, &c. The passage at the end, where this is repeated, may be an interpolation, as the latter part seems rather to belong to Job. For how could Theman have both Eliphaz and Zareth for his father? Grabe therefore, marks it as such. It would be too long for us to transcribe (Haydock) the praises which the Fathers have given to Job, and the resemblance which they have discovered between him and Jesus Christ. See Hebrews iv. 15 and xiii. 12.; Tertullian, patient.; St. Chrysostom, hom. xxxiv. in Matt. St. Ambrose, in Psalm xxxvii. 21., observes, that his behaviour on the dunghill was the greatest condemnation of satan, who fell by pride, though so highly favoured. (Calmet) — Besides the literal sense of this book, which displays the trials and victories of Job, we may consider him as a lively figure of Christ; who was perfectly innocent, and yet a man of sorrows: we may raise our minds to the contemplation of the greater glory which will attend the bodies of the just, after the resurrection; and, above all, we may discover lessons of morality, enforcing the observance of every virtue, and particularly of patience and resignation. (St. Gregory, &c.) (Worthington) — The books of Machabees, which are the only remaining pieces of sacred history, might have been here inserted, as they are in Calmet’s edition, that so all the historical part might come together. But it is more common to place those books after the prophets. They only relate a few of the transactions which took place during the 400 or 500 years preceding the Christian era. The rest must be borrowed from Josephus, or from profane authors. It would, however, be proper to read those books, and to have an idea of that period, before we attempt to explain the prophecies. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Job submits himself. God pronounces in his favour. Job offers sacrifice for his friends. He is blessed with riches and children, and dies happily.
1 Then Job answered the Lord, and said:
2 I know that thou canst do all things, and no thought is hid from thee.
3 Who is this that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have spoken unwisely, and things that above measure exceeded my knowledge.
4 Hear, and I will speak: I will ask thee, and do thou tell me.
5 With the hearing of the ear, I have heard thee, but now my eye seeth thee.
6 Therefore, I reprehend myself, and do penance in dust and ashes.
7 And after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, he said to Eliphaz, the Themanite: My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends, because you have not spoken the thing that is right before me, as my servant, Job, hath.
8 Take unto you, therefore, seven oxen, and seven rams, and go to my servant, Job, and offer for yourselves a holocaust: and my servant, Job, shall pray for you: his face I will accept, that folly be not imputed to you: for you have not spoken right things before me, as my servant Job hath.
9 So Eliphaz, the Themanite, and Baldad, the Suhite, and Sophar, the Naamathite, went, and did as the Lord had spoken to them, and the Lord accepted the face of Job.
10 The Lord also was turned at the penance of Job, when he prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.
11 And all his brethren came to him, and all his sisters, and all that knew him before, and they eat bread with him in his house: and bemoaned him, and comforted him upon all the evil that God had brought upon him. And every man gave him one ewe, and one ear-ring of gold.
12 And the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning. And he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-asses.
13 And he had seven sons, and three daughters.
14 And he called the names of one, Dies, and the name of the second, Cassia, and the name of the third, Cornustibii.
15 And there were not found in all the earth women so beautiful as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.
16 And Job lived after these things, a hundred and forty years, and he saw his children, and his children’s children, unto the fourth generation, and he died an old man, and full of days.