Biblical Reparatory and Princeton Review 29 (1957) 281-327.

                                   Public Domain.

[William Henry Green]


1857]                     The Book of Job.                                281


ART. VI.--Commentar uber das Buch Hiob, von, H. A. HAHN

u. s. w. Berlin, 1850. 8 vo. pp. 337.

Das Buch Hiob, verdeutseht und erlautert von Lic. Kon-

STANTIN SCHLOTTMANN. Berlin, 1851. 8 vo. pp.  507.


The Book of Job; a Translation from the original Hebrew

on the basis of the common and earlier English versions.

For the American Bible Union, by THOMAS J. CONANT, D. D.

New York, 1856.  Part First, The Common English Version,

the Hebrew Text, and the Revised Version, with Critical and

Philological Notes 4to. pp. 165.  Part Second, The Revised

Version, with Explanatory Notes for the English reader

4to. pp. 85.  Part Third Revised Version. 4to. pp.  52.


THE poetical books of the Old Testament fall naturally into

two divisions of three each. There are distinguished both by

their subject and by the style of their poetry. The first class

embraces in addition to the Psalms two brief books, which from

their character might naturally have been included in the same

collection, had not their length and importance been such as to-

justify the assigning to them an independent position. The

Song of Solomon is an extended 45th Psalm.  And the Lament-

tions of Jeremiah find counterparts in the Psalms, as well in

their theme (Comp. Ps. lxxix. lxxx.) as in their alphabetic

structure: These are all purely lyrical, and express the devout

feelinge of the heart, in the contemplation of the character of

God, the truths of his word, or the dispensations of his providence.

The other three books constituting the second class, are Job,

the Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. Their common theme may be

suggested to us by the use which they make of one character-

istic word, "wisdom." Their aim is to show that piety, is

wisdom; that it is the one course promotive of man's true and

highest welfare. They seek in other words to exhibit the con-

sistency between the truths of God's revelation and the lessons of

his providence, by making it appear--that what the former sanc-

tions as right, is attested by the latter as good. The book of

Proverbs presents the harmony of the divine law and of the

actual experience of the world as a general fact. It contains

VOL. XXIX.-NO. II.                36

282                       The Book of Job.                               [APRIL


a great number of maxims bearing upon every department of

human life, and, embodying the results of long continued and

careful observation, which prove conclusively that piety con-

duces to human welfare, and that wickedness is opposed to it.

Such is the present constitution of things on the whole; such is

the native tendency of these respective courses, unless obstructed

by casual and outside influences. General rules are, however,

liable to exceptions: this is the case with many of these inspired

maxims. The conclusion as to the usual course of things cannot,

it is true, be invalidated in this way; but anxious questionings

and perplexing doubts may be awakened, which demand a satis-

factory solution, if one can be furnished. If the identity of

piety and wisdom is not only a general truth with occasional

exceptions, but a universal truth with no exceptions; it is impor-

tant that this should be shown, and the apparent interruptions

of the general law explained in such a way as to show that it is

at no time suspended or reversed. It is to this that the books

of Job and Ecclesiastes are directed. There are but two possi-

ble cases which could be regarded as exceptions to the general

rule, and these in various forms and degrees are perpetually

presenting themselves in the actual life of the world. These

are, first, piety without prosperity; and, second, prosperity

without piety. The first is discussed in Job, the second in

Ecclesiastes. In both, to make the argument perfectly conclu-

sive, the difficulty is presented in its extreme form. In Job, a

man without his equal for piety in the world, is overwhelmed by

a sudden and most extraordinary accumulation of disasters; he

is stripped of his possessions, bereaved of his family, afflicted by

sore disease, despised and shunned by his acquaintance, and

made the victim of cruel suspicions and censures, until life

became a burden; and yet in it all it is shown that God was not

unfaithful, and piety did not fail of its reward. On the other

hand, the book of Ecclesiastes exhibits the spectacle of a man,

who is raised to the summit of earthly felicity, who has sur-

rounded himself with every source of gratification that power

or wealth can command, or his heart desire; who leaves no

project unfulfilled, no wish un gratified, and gives himself of set

purpose to extract solid satisfaction from the world, conducting

his efforts with a sagacity and a wisdom such as no other man

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                               283


has possessed before or since.; and the: result of all was disap-

pointment and failure, vanity and vexation, of spirit; and the

conclusion to which he came after, the baffling experiment of a

life-time was, that the world without God can, yield no solid

good.  Or as he states the issue himself, Eccl. xii.13: "Fear"

God, and, keep his commandments; for this is the whole of

man;" this sums up at once his duty and his happiness.

These three books, forming thus a complete cycle, and cov-

ering together the entire range of the subject to whose illustra-

tion, they are devoted, belong to one common style of poetry,

the, gnomic or aphoristic. This style, with its, brief, sententious

apophthegms, seems specially suited to bring out clearly and

forcibly the truths of experience, embodying them in such, a

shape as shall strongly affect the mind, and lodge firmly in the

memory.  It appears in its purest and most unmixed form in

the Proverbs; less so in Ecclesiastes, as the nature of the dis-

cussion demanded; least of all in Job, where the lyrical ele-

ment rises to greater prominence than in either of the others,

although the aphoristic is not discarded.

According to a supscription added, to this book in, the, Sep-

tuagint, Uz lay upon the borders of Idumea and Arbia; and

Job was the grandson of Esau, the same with Jobab  (Gen.

xxxvi. 33) one of the kings of Edom. Though little reliance

is to be placed upon this; latter statement, the correctness of

the former is generally conceded.  The authority of the trans-

lator is itself something, as it is not improbable that, the land

may still have been known by its original name in his day.

It seems to be even mentioned by Ptolemy.  And all the

indications in the book; itself, and in other passages of Scrip-

ture, where the name occurs, conspire to fix it somewhere in

that region.  Whether it was so called from the descendant of

Seir, (Gen. xxxvi; 28) or the son of Nahor, (xxii. 21) or of

Aram, (x. 23,) this location of it would not be unlikely. It is

favoured by the fact that Job is called a son of the East, (i. 3,)

that, his property was exposed to incursions of the Sabeans and

the Chaldeans, that his friends were from Teman, Shuah,

(Gen. xxv. 2,) and Naamah, (possibly that mentioned Josh.

xv. 41,) that in Lamentations iv. 2;1, Uz is associated with

Edom, and in Jer. xxv. 20, is distinguished from it.

284                       The Book of Job.                               [APRIL


That Job was a real person, and his history is a record of

actual events, may be inferred from the fact that the localities

are real, that the names are not significant, (except Job, which

may mean the one assailed or treated with hostility,) that there

is no analogy in ancient writers, and particularly in the Bible,

for such a purely fictitious tale. The question is settled,

however, by the allusions to Job as an historical person in

Ezek. xiv. 14, &c., James v. 11. This does not render it

necessary to assume that everything occurred precisely as is

here narrated, that the speeches are reported verbatim, that the

Lord pronounced a long discourse, or that Satan literally

appeared in heaven among the sons of God. Still less can the

round numbers in which Job's possessions are stated, and their

exact duplication afterwards occasion any embarrassment. The

history is given substantially as it occurred, not with an eye to

precision in trivial details, but with the view of developing in

their full extent the important lessons which it was adapted to


The period when Job lived is nowhere expressly stated.

But his grMt longevity, the patriarchal simplicity of the wor-

ship, as well as of the life and manners, reflected in this book,

the absence of all allusion to the miracles or revelations which

marked the period of the exodus, the fact of such piety existing

out of the line of the covenant people, incline to the, belief that

he was not subsequent to the time of Moses. And the mention of

names (ii. 11; vi. 19; xxxii. 2,) which occur among the descen-

dants of Nahor, Keturah, Ishmael, and Esau, render it probable

that he did live very long before this time.

The mystery which invests the origin of this book, as well as

that of some others belonging to the Old Testament, will proba-

bly never be dispelled. Our ignorance of its author, however,

does not prejudice its canonicity, for we may safely acquiesce

in the decision which admitted it to its present rank while the

evidence of its inspiration was still in being, attested as it is by

the infallible sanction of our Lord and his apostles, given to the

integrity of the Jewish Scriptures, and by repeated citations in

the New Testament from this individual book. The opinion

that Job was written in the later times of the kingdom of

Judah, or even during or after the Babylonish exile, has little

1857.]                   The Book of Job.                               285


in its favour. It is less easy to decide between two other

epbchs, to which it has been assigned, viz. that of Moses, and

that of David and Solomon.. The ablest continental scholars

appear to be settling down" in favour of the latter, which, is

maintained not only by Hahn and Schlottmann, but by Heng-

stenberg, Havernick, Delitzsch, Vaihinger, Hofmann, (in his

later publications,) Welte and others.  We are pleased to see

that Professor Conant advocates the former, not so much because

we have any settled conviction upon the point, as because no

sufficient reason has yet been given for abandoning the old

ditional opinion.

The highly artistic structure of this book and the exquisite

finish of its poetry, are urged as showing that the poetic art

must have been long cultivated, and brought to a great degree

of perfection; and that some such golden period of the sacred

muse as the age of David must be pre-supposed, before such a

production as this could have been conceived or executed. But

the finest specimens of a people's poetry stand sometimes among

the earliest monuments of their literature. The epics of Homer

furnish an irrefragable answer to every objection from this

quarter directed against the antiquity of Job. Poetic genius

was needed for its production, rather than any formal rules of

art; and it is impossible to determine upon any general princi-

ples the time when such a genius must have appeared.

It has been argued from the relation in which this book stands

to the law as an enlargement of its teachings relative to divine

retribution, that the law as the foundation must have been first,

and then Job as the superstructure, must have been built upon

it. The law says, Fear God, and be blessed. Job shows that

the truth of the law is still preserved, even when the righteous

do not externally prosper.  The law, it is alleged, must have

been promulgated, before the question as to its consistency

with the facts or experience could have arisen. But as, this

declaration of the law is a direct consequence of the, divine

rectitude, it was equally a tenet of the patriarchs by whom this

attribute of God was known. And at a time when the piety of

men, like Abraham and Isaac, was reflected in their fortunes,

such a question as this in the case of Job would be peculiarly

liable to arise and to occasion the most painful misgivings.

286                       The Book of Job.                               [APRIL


And if, as is alleged by those who would bring its composition

down to the time of the exile, a period of national distress would

make the subject here discussed one of wider interest and im-

portance, would not its consolations be especially needed when

Israel was groaning beneath the cruel and undeserved oppres-

sion of Egypt, or was pining in the wilderness, while abomin-

able idolaters held possession of the promised land? Why may

not the great legislator have been commi~sioned under these

circumstances to expound, in what sense the promises of pros-

perity and blessing given of God were meant?

The striking resemblance which undoubtedly exists between

several passages in this book, and such as occur in the Psalms

and Proverbs, is quite as consistent with its priority as with

that of the latter. It was naturally to be expected that a work

of such originality and power should leave its traces on all the

subsequent poetry of the nation. And if we find phrases, words

or turns of thought common to it with other books, the pre-

sumption is, until the contrary is shown, that Job was imitated,

not the imitator. This is admitted in the case of Ezekiel,

Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos; why not in that of David and Solo-


That the whole air of this book is patriarchal, and that it

never refers to any event subsequent to the time of Moses, might

be explained on the hypothesis of the later origin of the book,

by the assumption that the writer whose subject lay in the olden

time, strictly observed the proprieties of time and place; though

it would evidence extraordinary skill that he has not by the

slightest expression betrayed that his assumed differed from his

real position. The natural impression, however, antecedent to

proof of the contrary, must be that the book was written in or

near the times and scenes which it so admirably portrays. It

is a remarkable coincidence, even if it be a casual one, that

many of the things that we expect to find m the writer, meet in

Moses. His long sojourn in Midian explains his acquaintance

with the facts, while his personal experience and that of his

suffering people impressed their lessons on his heart. This too

may furnish a solution of the Arabisms of the book. The

writer's familiarity with Egyptian objects (which is such that

Schlottmann insists that he must have seen what he describes,)

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                     287


and the knowledge which he displays of nature and of the arts

will also be readily accounted for, since Moses was learned

all the wisdom of the Egyptians. That Ophir (xxii. 24, xxviii.

16,) was not known to the Hebrews before the days of Solomon

is asserted by Hahn; but it might be difficult to prove that

Egyptian conquests or Egyptian trade had not extended there.

The powerful and versatile genius of Moses none can dispute;

a specimen of the various and exquisite poetry he was capa-

ble of producing, is furnished Ex. xv. Deut. xxxii. and xxxiii.

and Ps. xc.

We do not venture to say that Moses did write this book, nor

that it was written in his time; but only that the contrary is

not proven. The chief repugnance, which we confess to having

it assigned to a later period, arises from the manifest disposition

in those who do so, though it is by no means a necessary conse-

quence, to entertain lax notions of its historical character.

Schlottmann distinguishes between the event itself and the tra-

dition of it ,as it came to the writer. And Hengstenberg, after

maintaining (Kitto's Cyc. II. p. 121) that there might be some

intangible historical basis for what is recorded of Job, has at

length (Lecture before the Evangelical Union in Berlin, pp. 12,

13) reached the conclusion that there is none whatever, and

that all which the allusions of Ezekiel and James compel us to

assume, is that the lesson of the book is true and that the writer

had passed through some such conflict in his own experience.

The different views which have been held of the design and

teachings of this book, have mostly arisen from not taking a

sufficiently comprehensive view of the whole, confining the

attention mainly or exclusively to one portion, and exalting it

to an undue prominence. This is also the secret of the dispo-

sition manifested by several critics to dispute the genuineness

of one section or of another, which they find incompatible with

what they have arbitrarily assumed to be the governing idea.

It is decisive against any view of the book at the outset, if such

forcible measures are necessary in order to carry it through.

No theory can be admitted which will not furnish the solution

of it in all its parts just as it exists, without the necessity of its

being mutilated or altered; in which it shall not appear that

there is nothing wanting, and nothing superfluous, but that all

288                       The Book of Job.                               [APRIL


harmonizes and conspires together in its just proportion to pro-

duce the contemplated end.

The supposition that it is the design of this book to develope

the idea of true wisdom, takes its shape from chap. xxviii. and

makes that the key of the whole. Baumgarten-Crusius, who

maintains this view, thinks that the different speakers represent

the different stages in the progress of this idea. Job personates

a simple, unsophisticated piety; the three friends a legal mind;

Elihu a loftier and more comprehensive intelligence; while a

thoroughly instructed religion and wisdom in its highest form are

embodied in the discourse of the Lord. But besides that this

is not a just view of the parts sustained by the respective

speakers, the discussions relate not to wisdom in the abstract,

nor in the general, but in its bearings upon one particular


Ewald thinks that the aim of the book is to teach the immor-

tality of the soul, and by means of the hope of a future state to

reconcile to the inequalities of the present. This is taking the

key from chapter xix; a chapter which plays an important

part in the economy of the book, as will appear hereafter, but

which is not entitled to the predominance here given it. It is

there shown how the man of God can rise to an assured

triumph even in the most desperate case, by holding firmly to

his faith that the God whom he serves is his friend in spite of

everything that seems to establish the contrary, and that he

will surely make this appear, if not on this side of the grave,

yet beyond it. But this is not the solution given to the

problem of suffering righteousness. It is possible to vindi-

cate the present as well as to make an appeal to the future.

Accordingly the subsequent speeches of Job show that, not-

withstanding the triumphant assurance which he had gained

respecting his actually existing relation to God, and the

certain manifestation of it in the future, yet the distressing

enigma of its present obscuration, remained to him as insoluble

as before. And in the discourses of Elihu and of the Lord,

where we look for the final settlement of the matter at issue,

man's immortality is not once referred to. Whatever place

this may have, therefore, in the complete view of the question,

it is not its ultimate solution.

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                     289


According to others, the design. of the book is to inculcate

unconditional submission to the will of the infinite God. His

ways are inscrutable. Man's duty is, without murmuring, to

submit humbly to his dispensations. But instead of solving

the enigma, this would be to dismiss it as insolvable. The book

of Job goes far beyond this. The infinite perfections of God

are presented as a sure ground of confidence, even in his

darkest dispensations, while his 'gracious purpose in affliction,

,and its happy issue, are distinctly brought, to view. The

resignation of the truly pious, on such grounds as these, is at a

world..wide remove from the submission of the Stoic to inexor-

able fate. This view has led' several of its advocates to rid

themselves of the difficulties which the historical introduction

and conclusion lay in their way, by denying their genuineness.

But the alleged discrepancies between these and the body of

the book are of no account. The grounds assigned for Job's

sufferings in the introduction, and the issue to which they are

conducted in the conclusion., teach nothing incompatible with

the intermediate portion of the book, if this be on1y properly

understood. That Job was a man of eminent holiness, and

bore his calamities with becoming resignation, is not falsified

by the subsequent language of impatience and despair, wrung

from him by their long continued intensity, and by the cruel

censures of his friends. The Lord's rebuke of Job, xxxviii. 2,

xl. 2, involves ho such apprf1val of his friends, as would conflict

with xlii. 7. Chapters xix. 17, and xxxi. 8, are not at variance

with the account of the death of Job's children, i. 18, 19. Pro-

fessor Conant translates the second passage correctly, "Let my

products be rooted up."  And the first he renders, "I am offen-

sive to the sons of the same womb;" whatever question there

may be as to the first part of this clause, there can be little as

to the last; the allusion is not to Job's 'children, but to his

brethren, xlii 11. The death of his children is in fact alluded

to in the body of the book itself, viii. 4, xxix. 5. That the

introduction and conclusion are in prose, (as historical sections

always are,) that they speak of sacrifices, while no mention is

made of them in the rest of the book (for the reason that there

was no occasion for it,) that they use the divine name Jehovah,

(though not exclusively,) while in the rest of, the book the

VOL. XXIX.-NO. II.                37

290                       The Book of Job.                     [APRIL


divine name employed is Eloah, God, (yet see xii. 9, xxxviii. 1,

xl. 1, 3, 6, xlii. 1,) can scarcely be considered serious argu-

ments. On the other hand, the positive and invincible argument

of genuineness is, that the beginning and the end of the book

are essential to the understanding of it. Apart from these,

there is no intimation who the parties are who are here speak-

ing, nor what is the occasion of their discussion. It is especi-

ally necessary that the reader should be made aware of Job's

character at the outset, or how could it be known that there was

any enigma in his suffering, or that the suspicions of his friends

were unjust, and that he was not merely pretending to an inno-

cence which he did not possess: and the book would be mani-

festly unfinished, if it were to stop where the poetic portion

ends; that is no suitable conclusion. This is so clearly the

case, that some who deny the genuineness of the present intro-

duction and conclusion, assert that it must have had others in

their stead originally, and that these were removed to make

way for those we now possess. But this is bringing hypothesis

to support hypothesis, and only involves the matter in still

greater difficulties. What has become of that original preface

and termination? What motive was there for expunging them

to introduce new ones? And how was it possible that such a

forgery in so remarkable a book as this, and one, too, included

in the sacred canon, could succeed? Not to speak of the fresh

obstruction interposed by the authority of the New Testament,

for the allusion in James v. 11, is to the historical conclusion.

Others think the book designed to show the inadequacy of

the Mosaic doctrine of a temporal retribution. Their notion is,

that, according to the law of Moses, righteousness is to be inva-

riably rewarded and sin punished in the present life, in prop or-

tion to their deserts; and that the writer of Job meant to prove

on the contrary that men are not treated in this world accord-

ing to their characters. But, 1. It would be inconceivable that

a book whose design was to contradict the Mosaic law, should

be written by a pious member of the theocracy, or that it should

be admitted to the canon if it was. The law of Moses was

sacred in the eyes of every Israelite, and antagonism to it

would not have been tolerated. Those passages in the pro-

phets, which have been alleged to be antagonistic to the law, in

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                     291


which they speak of ceremonial observances' as inferior to

spiritual religion, are not in reality such, for this is the very

spirit of the law itself. If this book, therefore, takes ground

opposed to the 1aw, it is without analogy in the whole Old'Tes-

tament. 2. The defenders of this view identity the position

taken by the friends of Job with the statements of the law, and

regard the censure passed upon the former as falling equally

upon the latter. But this is not correct. It is not the law, but

partial or erroneous conclusions drawn from its teachings, which

are here condemned.  Just as in his sermonic on the mount, our

Lord rebuked not the law itself; but the false glosses and inter-

pretations which the Jews! had put upon it..B'ecause1ife and:

prosperity are promised to the righteous, and calamities are

threatened to the wicked, the friends inferred that the external

prosperity of' the good must be uninterrupted, and that severe

calamities always evidence gross wickedness.  This book does,

not oppose the law, but confirms it, by freeing it from the burden

of these erroneous inferences. It shows that a man of eminent

piety may, for reasons inferring no antecedent crime on his part

be cast down from his prosperity, and involved in the greatest

misfortunes.  It shows moreover that the promises of God were

after all fulfilled in the case of Job, and the mystery which

overhung the ways of Providence is dispelled by, raising him in

the end to a higher prosperity than ever; thus revealing that

temporary sorrows may, be conducive to a future, higher good,

and may be themselves blessings: in disguise. It is to be

observed likewise that the discourses of the three friends are

not to be condemned in toto.  Many of their sentiments are

correct, and much that they say is just and proper. In fact,

even where they are wrong, their error is often not so much in

what they say as in what they intimate. Taken as abstract

propositions, what they oppose to Job is commonly true; it is

only the application of it which they design, that is false. Their

statements, though capable for the most part of being under-

stood in a sense that is correct, are rendered incorrect by their

being adduced as the full explanation of a case which they do

not really meet, and to which they could only be applied by the

most unjust and unfounded assumptions of the guilt of Job.

3. The law of Moses, in teaching the righteousness of God's

292                       The Book of Job.                     [APRIL


dispensations in the present life, is most strictly true, and is in

entire accordance with the doctrine of the New Testament on

this same subject. Piety has its temporal as well as its eternal

rewards. Our Saviour (Matt. v. 5) blesses the meek; for they

shall inherit the earth. In Mark x. 29, 30, he says that who-

ever has left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father or mother,

or wife; or children, or lands, for his sake and the gospel's, shall

receive an hundred-fold now in this time, and in the world to

come eternal life. The apostle Paul tells us (1 Tim. iv. 8) that

godliness has the promise of the life that now is, and of that

which is to come. The essential righteousness of God in fact

secures the righteousness of all his dispensations in this world,

as much as in the future state. The retributions of the world to

come are not to be regarded as a compensation for present

inequality and injustice. He who admits that men are not

dealt with justly here, and treated according to their characters,

cuts the nerves of the argument for a future retribution, instead

of strengthening it. For if God is not just now, what assurance

can we have that he ever will be? But in claiming for the right-

eous the favour and blessing of God here, it must be distinctly

understood what that means. For external worldly prosperity

is. no certain gauge even of present happiness, much less of

men's true welfare. God consults for the highest interests of

his people. He sends upon them what he sees to be most for

their good. Affliction thus sent is not an evil, but a benefit;

while worldly prosperity without the divine favour is a curse

instead of a blessing. Besides it must be borne in mind, and

this is one of the truths insisted upon in the book before us, that

even the holiest of men are not free from sin. Conscious, there-

fore, of ill-desert, they should receive with humility and resigna-

tion whatever sufferings are sent upon them. These sufferings

have a direct connection with their sin. They may not be

penal, indeed, but they are disciplinary. They are needed and

designed to purge from sin. Their proper effect was produced

upon Job as soon as he said, (xlii. 6,) "I abhor myself, and

repent in dust and ashes." When that state of mind was pro-

duced, the discipline had gained its end, and was at once


This book has also been regarded as an allegory, designed to

1857.]                   The Book of Job.                               293


set forth, the fortunes of the ,Jewish people. According to

Bishop Warburton, Job represents the nation of the Jews, and

his sufferings the calamities, which befell them, including their

captivity; the three friends were those who obstructed the

rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple, particularly, Neh. vi.

Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshero; Elihu represents the writer of

the book himself. Others make, the three friends stand for the

prophets; others explain them differently still. But without

going into the details of any of these schemes, it will, be suffi-

cient to show them to be impracticable in regard to their chief

character, in which alone they all agree. Job cannot possibly

represent the Jewish nation, for the whole mystery, of his suf-

ferings lies in their arising from no fault on his part, whereas

those which befell the Jews are always represented as the

penalty of their transgressions. And there is no allusion in

the whole book to the circumstances of the people at the time.

of the exile, and nothing whatever from which an intimation

can be gained that it is to be allegorically understood. Every-

thing, indicates the subject to be a case of individual not of

national suffering. This view too would require the assumption

that the book was written in or after the exile; it is contra

dicted likewise by the historical character of Job already;


The real theme of this book is, as it has, been well expressed,

“the mystery of the cross." It is intended to throw light upon

that perplexing enigma, so trying oftentimes to faith, of the

sufferings of the righteous. How are they to be reconciled

with the justice of God, or with the declaration of his law

"Do this, and thou shalt live?" This purpose is accomplished

by adducing the case of a man, in whose history the truth to be

taught is strikingly illustrated. God himself testifies regarding

Job, that "there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an

upright roan, one that feareth God and escheweth evil." This

roan, not for any special transgression, but at, the solicitation

of Satan, is suddenly cast down from his prosperity, and made

to endure the severest inflictions in his property, his family,

and his person, in order to try the strength of his piety, and

that his steadfastness may be exhibited to the confusion of the

tempter. The secret of Job's sufferings is thus far explained

294                       The Book of Job.                     [APRIL


to the reader before the discussion begins; but it is a mistake

however common, to suppose that this is the whole mystery.

So Delitzsch, (Herzog's Encyklop. art. Hiob,) after enumerat-

ing the four kinds of suffering to which men may be subjected,

viz. punishment, chastisement, trial, and martyrdom, insists

upon it that the third is the only one applicable to this case, in

which "there is not the remotest connection between the

suffering and the sinfulness of the sufferer." This initial error

leads him, as we shall see hereafter, to deny the genuineness of

an important section of the book. Others who are not pre-

pared for this extreme, go at least to the length of declaring

that it contributes nothing toward the proper settlement of the

question at issue. Even Professor Conant says of the section

referred to, "Elihu has contributed his suggestions, without

advancing a step towards the solution of the problem. For

there is no place in his theory, any more than in that of the

three friends, for the actual case presented." It will be suf-

ficient to say here, that it is not the design of the introduction

to dispose of the case, but simply' to place it before the reader.

It prepares the way for the discussion, but without anticipating

its result. It acquaints the reader with the fact, concealed

from the human speakers, of Satan's agency in these inflictions.

But it does not profess to give in full the reasons by which the

Lord was moved in allowing Satan to deal with Job as he did.

No haste is exhibited anywhere in this book to disclose the

hidden purposes of God. They are suffered to unfold them-

selves in his actual providence, and their ripened issue is their

ample justification. In fact, a similar course is pursued with

most of the great lessons here inculcated, and herein lies one of

the evidences of the wonderful skill of the writer. These

lessons are strongly brought out, and the impression which they

leave is perfectly distinct and clear; but this is effected less

by precise and formal statements, than by the combined effect

of the whole course of the history and the discussion.

That Satan was used to accomplish results on behalf of this

pious man, very different from any that he designed or imagined,

is suggested by the representation of his appearing statedly

among the sons of God, when they came to present themselves

before the Lord. Satan is like them, God's servant, employed

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                               295


in ministrations to men which are directed (or controlled) by

God's sovereign will, and of his performance of which he comes

like the rest to render his report. It is not given to this mali-

cious spirit to torture men' as he may please. His office is to

spy out the faults of good men, and to tempt them to sin;

labouring to crush where- he cannot seduce them. But this is

an agency, which God employs for ends of his own. He does

not originate the evil, but he uses it. So too, when Satan mis-

leads the wicked to their ruin, as we are taught in 1 Kings xxii.

19 23, a passage strikingly similar to that before us, it is by

the same divine permission and in just judgment for their sins.

This subordination of evil to the designs of the Most High is it

leading lesson impressed upon the; very front of Job's history.

Perhaps it may be called one of the original conditions of the

problem. What those designs were, or how evil can be employed

to effect them, we must be content to learn as the progress of

events shall disclose them.

One purpose which God had in view, as shown by the event

particularly of the first trial (i. 22, ii. 3,) was, as has been stated

already, to test the fidelity of Job, not of course for the satis-

action of the Lord, who had previously given his unerring judg-

ment of his character, but to confound the tempter and to pre-

sent an example of the sustaining power of faith to men. But

it is nowhere intimated that this was his sole design. From

subsequent developments we learn that he had another purpose

quite compatible with the former, but additional to it and dis-

tinct from it. The fire was designed not only to prove the

existence of the gold, but to purge away its dross. The trial

was a chastisement likewise, not for overt acts of sin, but for

the yet unsubdued corruption of the heart. God would not

have subjected a perfectly sinless being even temporarily to

Satan's power, however gloriously his steadfastness might there-

by be made to appear. If there had been no discipline in them

for Job himself, permission would not have been given for these.

inflictions. This antecedent, presumption is confirmed by the

fact that, latent sin is detected in Job and brought to light

under "the terrible pressure of his sorrows. There is an unmis-

takable leaven of self-righteousness in his vindications of him-

self and in his complaints of God. Job would never have sus-

296                       The Book of Job.                     [APRIL


pected himself of this, nor have sought its correction, but for

this affliction. This element of corruption in his soul it is the

evident aim of the writer to depict with a strong hand. And

this explains the puzzle, that so eminently good a man, as Job

is known from divine testimony to have been, could speak so

presumptuously as he sometimes does. He had been touched

with divine skill precisely upon his tender point, and this pre-

viously undeveloped evil sprang up at once in full power. And

his speeches are so framed as to allow us to look directly in

upon the struggles of his heart, which is here laid open without

disguise. The bare discussion of the problem would not call

for these culpable expressions on the part of Job. But they

were necessary to bring out the lesson that there is evil in the

best of men, which the searching test of affliction may discover.

Additional confirmation is given to this view by the speech of

Elihu, who is an interpreter of the will of God, and who makes

the correction of men's inward pride one of the grand aims of

affliction. The fact too that Job is ultimately brought to

penitence, and that this is the condition of the removal of his

affliction, warrants the conclusion that this was one of the

things to be accomplished by sending it. While, therefore,

Satan sought Job's ruin, God designed both to exhibit the sin-

cerity of his piety, and to elevate that piety, thus preparing

him for a higher measure of happiness.

All this, however, is unknown to Job and to his friends.

They are left to confront this mysterious dispensation, without

any clue being afforded them as to its design. The friends of

Job having no other idea than that of the invariably penal

character of suffering, conceive the suspicion that he must have

been guilty of some gross iniquity to account for such unex-

ampled sorrows. Job, conscious of his own integrity, cannot

admit the unjust aspersions of his friends; but is himself in

utter perplexity as to the cause of what he suffers, and is

strongly tempted to arraign the righteousness of God's provi-

dence. The answer given to this difficult problem consists sub-

stantially of two parts, viz. 1. Men must confide in God; not

only because they must expect in the dealings of infinite wis-

dom much that transcends their finite understandings; but

because his glorious perfections should be a sufficient guaranty

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                     291


that all he does is right and good, however dark and unexplain-

ed. 2. Affliction has its uses.  It not only tests the constancy

of faith, but is a necessary discipline which will conduct those

who properly receive it to higher holiness and happiness

The structure of this book is' eminently regular. It consists

of three parts of unequal length--the historical preface and

conclusion in prose, and the main body of the book in poetry.

The first contains such statements of fact as are necessary to

the right understanding of the problem to be discussed. In the

second, this problem is largely treated and its proper solution

shown.  In the third, the history is brought to a close, and the

providential issue of the whole matter exhibited; this last we

regard, for reasons already hinted' at, but which shall more fully

appear ptesently, as really forming part of the solution.

The rest of the book after, the historical preface, is also

divisible into three parts: the discussion of the problem by Job

and his three friends, and its twofold decision, first as rendered

by the instrumentality of a man, Elihu, then as given immedi-

ately; by the Lord himself. The discussion again consists of

distinct sections. After the opening discourse of Job, in which

the theme is, as it were, propounded, the discussion is continued

in three successive rounds of debate, or three systems of dis-

courses, in each of; which there is a discourse from the three

friends severally, in regular order, together with the rejoinders

made by Job; except that in the last, for a particular reason,

the third friend, Zophar, says nothing. We have consequently

the following scheme:

Introduction,                       Chaps. i. ii

The Problem treated,           Chaps. iii.-xlii

The Discussion,                            Chaps. iii.-xxxi.

   Job’s opening discourse,       Chap. iii.

   First series of discourses,       Chap. iv -xiv.

   Second series of discourses   Chap. xv.-xxi.

   Third series of discourses,     Chap. xxii.-xxxi.

Decision rendered by man, (Elihu)  Chaps. xxxii.-xxxvii

Decision rendered by God;             Chaps. xxxviii.-xlii.


According to the view commonly entertained of this book, it

is, plainly not: a drama, or can only be called one in a very

VOL. XXIX.-NO. II.                38

298                       The Book of Job.                     [APRIL


improper sense. If it is simply the discussion of a grave and

solemn question, to which a decision is subsequently rendered,

there is no more propriety in saying that it is a drama than

there would be in saying the same of the philosophical dialogues

of Cicero, or a report of Congressional debates. Action is

essential to the drama, as is implied by its very name. To be

successful, there must be a plot which becomes gradually com-

plicated, the interest growing more intense as it proceeds, while

the issue is kept in suspense until the final denouement, when

all is explained. Schlottmann has presented an exceedingly

ingenious and captivating view of this book, according to which

it will be a proper drama, though of course not designed for

scenic representation; for the Hebrews knew nothing of such

shows, and it would be beneath the sacred dignity of this

inspired composition if they did. It is not maintained that this

presents a precise parallel to any of the dramatic compositions,

whether of the ancient Greeks or of modern times, but simply

that it possesses all that is essential to that species of poetry,

having unity of action and a consistent, regularly developed

plot, the progress of which is disclosed in the speeches of the

actors; and that it bears a closer analogy to these than to any

other productions of the muse. The action of this piece is not

external and palpable to the senses, but inward and spiritual,

and has place among the deepest experiences of the soul. Its

subject he states to be the temptation of Job. The interest of

the piece consists in watching the effect produced on Job by his

aggravated sufferings, and seeing whether the tempter gains his

end, which he pursues so unremittingly, of driving him to

abjure his God. The alternate speeches of Job and his friends

will then still contain a discussion of grave truths respecting

the providence of God in relation to suffering; but it will not;

be as a mere discussion that they appear here. The part which

they sustain in the plot, is that the stinging censures of his

friends are taken into the service of the tempter; they are a

fresh aggravation of Job's distress, and by exasperating him

add to the strength of the temptation to give up his confidence

in God and to renounce his worship. The speeches of Job

himself on the other hand exhibit the tumult of his soul under

the temptation, and show how far the tempter succeeded in

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                     299


driving him to the use of expressions sometimes, which sound

as though he were on the very point of giving up his trust in

God, and his allegiance to him, and we almost dread to hear

him open his lips again, lest the fatal word should be spoken

and Satan gain his end. But though often on the verge of, the

precipice, Job holds fast his integrity, and the tempter is foiled.

Then the discourses of Elihu, and of the Lord, may be regarded

as the means employed by God to rescue his servant from this

perilous position, to check his presumption and bring, him to

humble penitence and submissive faith; whereupon all the

clouds are dispersed, the malice of Satan falls harmless at his

feet, and when the curtain drops upon the scene, Job is possessed

of a loftier and more secure felicity than ever.

Schlottmann has bestowed great pains upon the poetical

structure of this book, and has certainly improved upon the

previous attempts of. Koster, Stickel, Ewald and others, to prove

that it is throughout arranged in stanzas or strophes. The

true theory of Hebrew verse has long been a matter of curious

inquiry amongst scholars.  Following the lead of Josephus, Philo,

Eusebius, Jerome and other ancient testimonies, who speak of

trimeters, pentameters, hexameters, etc., in the Old Testament,

some made numerous and persevering attempts to discover

there the different styles of Greek and Latin verse; others

acting upon a suggestion of Sir William Jones; sought for

Syriac and Arabic measures; others endeavoured to develope a

peculiar system of prosody from the masoretic accents. All

these efforts failed. It was found impracticable to carry out any

one of these views without unwarrantable assumptions, arbitrary

changes of the text, and the constant violation of the simplest

and most obvious prosodial rules. It is in fact demonstrable

that Hebrew verse could not have been regulated by the num-

ber or quantity of syllables, nor by any succession of feet, for

the variety in the length or character of lines is palpably such as

could be embraced within no conceivable rules of that descrip-

tion.  Syllables were no doubt so disposed as to produce a

rhythmical and. harmonious flow; but that is all that can be


The productions of the Hebrew muse took on quite a different

form from that developed in other lands, though growing out of

300                       The Book of Job.                               [APRIL


the same ultimate idea. The ordinary flow of prose resembles

a quiet stream, through which the thought pours itself in an

even current until it is expended. Poetry, as the language of

excited emotion, reflects the state of mind in which it takes its

rise. It expresses itself in more brief and rapid utterances;

whence it follows that the thought not expended in the first

flow, gushes. forth again, thus returning upon itself, and a rela-

tion of correspondence being established between the first move-

ment and the second. Now in Greek verse, and in occidental

poetry generally, the outward form took precedence of the

inward conception. The correspondence of successive lines was

indicated by a determinate arrangement of syllables and recur-

rence of feet, so that the reiterated movement was marked to

the ear by the rhythmical effect. In Hebrew poetry, on the

other hand, in which the primitive, unfettered simplicity was

better preserved, the thought predominated over the form, and

the correspondence established lay in the repetition or fuller

expression of the idea in varied style; in other words, in the

parallelism of clauses.

Parallelism being thus the governing principle of Hebrew

verse, as it is fundamentally of all other, the question arises

whether this is confined to clauses, or whether it has been

extended likewise to paragraphs and sections. The same law

of correspondence, which regulated the measure of successive

lines in Greek verse, gave birth to strophes and antistrophes,

in which, after a series of varying measures, the same were

repeated again in precisely the same order. Is there anything

similar to this in Hebrew poetry? The writers above alluded

to maintain that there is; that every poem or leading section

of a poem resolves itself into portions of corresponding length,

containing the same or nearly the same number of verses, the

predominance of the thought over the form being here main-

tained as before, and the transition from one thought to another

marking the points of division between the strophes. There is

nothing to be said against this theory but the difficulty of

establishing its truth. In many cases there is a singular con-

formity in the length of the paragraphs or divisions, into which

the various speeches of this book naturally fall. But it seems

doubtful whether this conformity is due to any conscious design

1857.]                   The Book of Job.                               301


of the writer, or is not a simple consequence of his presenting

in their order several thoughts of nearly equal moment, so that

he naturally dwells to a similar extent upon each: This expla-

nation is rendered more probable by the fact that in many cases

the conformity is not obvious, and can only be educed by arbi-

trary means. Schlottmann's divisions are highly ingenious;

and sometimes, by a new grouping of verses, he succeeds in

setting them in a different light, or in giving them additional

force. But on the whole, his straining after strophes has been

to the injury of his exposition, and has frequently led him to

propose divisions which an unbiased examination of the passage

would certainly never dictate. Besides, his strophes are reached

by masoretic verses; whereas, if there were anything in the

theory, it is obvious that the only proper mode would be by

clauses as indicated in the parallelisms.

The discussion between Job and his friends takes its point of

departure from the opening discourse of the former, chap. iii.

Weighed down by the intensity of his anguish, he complains of

three things; that he was ever born, vs. 3--10, that he was suf-

fered to live after his birth, vs. 11-19, that he is compelled to

live on still in his misery, vs. 20-26. The following argument

turns upon the question of Job's right thus to complain; the

friends deny, Job affirms. Much of the art with which this

discussion is managed, is lost by those who fail to observe how

both the parties gradually shift their ground, or at least modify

their tone, receding from each other and departing from their

own early positions as they become warmed in the vehemence

of debate. Wonderful skill is displayed by the writer in por-

traying in the speeches the growing vehemence of the speakers.

It is not proper, to impute to Job in all his discourses the same

presumptuous chiding with God, which breaks forth in some

them. Nor must the friends be supposed to have begun the

discussion with the same harsh suspicions of Job that they

cherished afterwards. Their seven days silence indicated no

such suspicion; it was the natural impulse of profound sympa-

thy in the presence of overwhelming grief, (ii. 13.) Job's open-

ing speech implies no thought of his friends' unkindness; it is

the piteous moaning of a man under intolerable sorrows. And

the first speech of Eliphaz, though without the tenderness and

302                       The Book of Job.                               [APRIL


consideration that Job had reasonably expected, (vi. 15, etc.) and

already betraying the radical error that the external condition

of men invariably corresponds with their characters, yet assumes

throughout that Job is a good man, and rebukes him for enter-

taining the thought that being such he could perish, (iv. 1-11,)

charging him only with that general sinfulness which is common

to all men.

          In each of the three series of discourses Eliphaz is the lead-

ing speaker, not only preceding, but, as it were, guiding the

others. They take their cue from him, reiterating in other

forms what he had already substantially said. In the first

series Job is treated with comparative leniency and each of the

friends closes with an exhortation to Job to receive his suffer-

ings submissively, promising him in that case a return and

enlargement of his former prosperity. In the second series the

tone of the friends is much harsher and .more irritated. They

are provoked that Job should continue, in spite of their argu-

ments and exhortations, to maintain a position which they con-

sider so indefensible and wrong. They now hold out no pro-

mises for the future, but dwell largely on the uniform and

necessary connection of sin and suffering, intimating in no

doubtful terms, what yet they do not declare in express words,

that Job had brought his sufferings upon himself by his sins,

and that nothing but ruin awaited him in the course he seemed

determined to pursue. In the last series Eliphaz comes out

distinctly with explicit charges of aggravated crime. That

these cannot be substantiated, however, is intimated by Bildad's

failing to repeat them; while the brevity of his speech and his

falling back upon arguments which had been adduced at the

very beginning of the discussion and which Job had answered

long before, showed that he had nothing new to bring forward.

Zophar's not replying at all is an admission that they have no

more to say, and that they cannot answer Job.

The discourses of Job are divided into two portions by the

triumphant confidence expressed in chap. xix. This chapter is

both in form and in fact the centre of the whole. It occurs in

the middle series in the answer to the second friend; and it is

the turning point in the discussion. This is the culmination of

all that precedes, for which it has been preparing the way, and

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                     303


to which it has been tending by gradual and marked advances.

What follows is of quite a different character. The prominent

feature of the first portion is the struggle of Job's own mind

against despair. The prominent feature of the second portion

is the refutation of the position taken by his friends. What

gave its chief poignancy to Job's distress was that God seemed

to have become his enemy. It was because the principle urged

by his friends led directly to this result, that their speeches

stirred such a tumult in his soul. They could see nothing in

suffering but the penalty of sin.  As he was conscious of his

freedom from crime and of the sincerity of his piety, the ten-

ency of their language; is to make him feel that God is

treating him as a criminal without his being one, that he

employing his omnipotence to crush him for no cause except

that he has arbitrarily determined so to do. This idea of God

as cruel and inexorable, as infinite power without regard to

justice or mercy, bent on his destruction, is the phantom which

is perpetually rising before him, and with which he has con-

tend. A fierce conflict is awakened in his soul between his

faith in God's rectitude and love; and this phantom, which

sense of his misery and the arguments of his friends, are ever

afresh forcing upon him. On his first opening his mouth,

chap. iii., we hear his groans under unutterable woe, and in his

despair he piteously begs for death as a coveted relief from his

sufferings. His replies to the first series of his friends dis-

courses show him to be still in unrelieved despair. They are

divided between upbraidings of his friends for their hard-hearted

aggravation of his woe, the justification of his complaint by the

intensity of his misery, and the fresh utterance of it, coupled

with remonstrances with God that he should so torment, his

frail and helpless, creature. In the later speeches of this series,

the replies to Bildad and Zophar, we meet the first dawnings of

a thought, which is soon to overspread his soul with the clear

effulgence of triumphant exultation; but as yet there is only glim-

mer enough to make the blackness blacker. In ix. 34, 35, he

says, that if God would but lay aside his terrors and suffer him

to meet him as he might an equal, he could vindicate himself;

and in x. 7, that God without such a vindication, knew that he

was not wicked. But this only aggravated his hopeless misery,

304                       The Book of Job.                     [APRIL


that in spite of this knowledge of his integrity God had

resolved upon his destruction. In xiii. 13-22, he expresses his

conviction that if he could only succeed in bringing his case

before God for judgment, and were permitted to argue it there,

he could make his integrity appear, and would obtain sentence

in his favour. In xiv. 13-15, he ad4s, that if death were only

a temporary evil he could bear it. He could lie down in the

grave resignedly, if a limit was set to the period of God's

anger, and when that was past he could return once more to

life and to the enjoyment of his favour. Gloomy as these

words appear, and vain as are these wishes in the form in which

they are expressed, they nevertheless contain the seeds of hope,

which from this moment begins to kindle in his bosom. It is a

desperate struggle; but his pious trust in God shall gain the


The heightened intensity of Job's inward conflict is finely

expressed by the fact that his complaint and remonstrance from

being a single section, beside other sections of equal length, as

in his previous speeches, swell in those that follow over almost

the whole discourse. He now says little to his friends in the

way of justifying his complaint to them. He merely, in a few

verses at the beginning, begs them to be silent and to desist

from their cruel treatment, and then turns from them to God;

or even when his words are not in form addressed to him, his

thoughts are occupied about his relation to him. The seeming

proofs of God's hostility stare him in the face; and yet he is

thrown back upon God as his only helper. His friends scorn

him; he has no hope nor expectation from them. His tearful

prayer is that God, the witness of his integrity, would take his

part with God his seeing foe. In the most eloquent and im-

passioned language he makes his appeal from God to God him-

self, xvi. 17-xvii. 3. In spite of this present hostility, which

he cannot understand, he reposes a trust in God which he can-

not abandon. This tearful appeal is not unheard. The cer-

tainty takes possession of Job's bosom that God will vindicate

his innocence, and is even now his friend, for whatever inexpli-

cable reason he does not so appear, xix. 25-27. Every prospect

of earthly good, he had already said, had vanished, xvii. 11-16.

There was nothing for him to look for here, but the grave.

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                     305


And yet he knows, notwithstanding all this, that his Redeemer

lives, and he shall see him after death in that character, no

longer his foe, but his Saviour and his Friend: Faith here rises

to its loftiest triumph.. To outward sense all is cheerless despair.

No earthly hope remains. God still appears to be pursuing

him as an implacable foe. The mystery of his sufferings is as

unexplained, and as seemingly insolvable as ever. But let the

worst come to the worst, Job still trusts in God. He may 'die

under the cloud; but he knows that God is his Redeemer, and

that he will certainly vindicate him yet. The struggle with

despair is now over, and never reappears. He does not under-

stand this dark dispensation any better than he had done

before; but the question of his personal relation to God 'is

settled, and that gives him comparative peace. The phantom

of a cruel and inexorable Deity has given place to the vision of

his Redeemer. And though for some mysterious reason, which

he knows not how to comprehend, he does not act toward him

in this character now, but in one that seems to be its opposite,

he will sometime manifest himself as such.

In favour of the correctness of the view which has been

taken of this important, passage, and which finds in it the

assurance of a divine vindication in a future state, may be

argued—l. Its position as already exhibited in the plan of the

book. It stands in the relation of climax to corresponding

passages in Job's former speeches. It winds up that intense

mental struggle in which he has been: engaged from the outset,

by one gigantic exercise of faith, clearing away those dark

clouds of distressing doubt which had previously overhung his

soul, so that henceforward we find him in a very different state

of mind.  The enigma remains, but his apprehensions of God’s

enmity do not reappear. All this shows that something extra-

ordinary is to be expected here; something which rises far

above the level of any of his previous declarations, and which

could lift him, as nothing else had done, from the depths of

despair to a triumphant hope. Such is the marked prominence,

in fact, of this passage in the economy of the book, that Ewald,

as already stated, considers it the key of the whole, and thinks

that its grand lesson is concentrated at this point, viz. that the

doctrine of the soul's immortality can reconcile the inequalities

VOL. XXIX.--NO. II.               39

306                       The Book of Job.                     [APRIL


of the present state. But it is manifest that the immortality

of the soul is not presented as a solution of the enigma. That

is as obscure as ever; though he can stand up in the face of it,

now that he knows he shall be vindicated hereafter. But it is

still a puzzle why God makes him suffer so in the present.

Although this passage, therefore, does not solve the problem of

the book, it is the focus in which the scattered rays of faith,

which appear in Job's former speeches, are gathered and in ten-

sified. He had expressed before the confidence that if he

could bring his cause before God, he would be justified; he had

wished for another life after death, which might be blessed with

God's returning favour; he had claimed God as the witness of

his integrity, and had prayed that his blood, causelessly shed,

might not be covered by the earth nor remain unexpiated.

What more fitting climax could there be to these thoughts than

that God would vindicate him and appear on his side in the

future state?

2. This view is' rendered necessary' by the formality with

which this passage is introduced, and the stress which is laid

upon it, vs. 23, 24. That he should thus mark out these words,

and put so broad a distinction between them and all else that

he had uttered; that he should wish them engraved in the rock,

to endure as his testimony to all future time, warrants us in

expecting to find something in them which shall be worthy of

so formal and impressive an introduction.

3. This view alone gives its natural and proper sense to the

language which is here employed. We might not perhaps lay

much stress upon the expression, "at the latter day," or its

original equivalent, signifying "last," or "at the last," if it

were by itself. For though it is the same word which 'stands

in the designation of God as the first and the last, it might be

claimed that it had here only the general sense of futurity.

But the period intended is more clearly explained in what fol-

lows. Of the two clauses of ver. 25, the first states the character

in which Job was by faith enabled to contemplate God, and the

second, the time when he was assured that this character would

be displayed by him on earth. These clauses are then expanded

separately in the verses that follow, the second, in ver. 26, the

first in ver. 27. The latter day referred to, accordingly finds its

1857.]                   The Book of Job.                               307


explanation in the words, "And after my skin [which] they

destroy, [even] this,' and out of my flesh shall I see God."

There is no need of supplying "worms" with the common Eng-

lish version as the subject of the verb "destroy;" it is in the

third person plural indefinite, a frequent equivalent in Hebrew

of the passive construction. The agents of the destruction are

not named, perhaps not distinctly thought of; It is at any

rate after the destruction of his present skin or, body, that the

vision of God as his Redeemer is to take place. This cannot

mean less than after death; mere emaciation by disease not

attended by dissoltion could not be so described. The next

expression, "out of my flesh," (Eng. ver. marg.) has the same

ambiguity in the original as in the translation. It may mean

either in the body or disembodied.  It may describe the posi-

tion to be occupied by the speaker, and out from which he would

look to see God. In that case, taken in connection with the

other expressions previously employed, it would mean, that after

the destruction of his present body he would be clothed with it

afresh at the resurrection, and from out of it he would see God,

who had now hidden himself from view. It is more probable,

however, that “out of my flesh," here: means disembodied, sepa-

rated from my flesh, in the future state." The two clauses of

the verse being connected not by "yet," but by' "and,'" the

expressions" after my skin,” and "out of my flesh," are not

contrasted, but parallel; and are both alike descriptive of the

period intended by "at the latter day,” ver. 25.

4. This is the oldest, as it has always been the most prevalent

interpretation. The Fathers in fact generally found in this

passage an allusion not only to a future: state, but to a corpo-

real resurrection. So Clemens Romanus, Origen, Cyril, and

others. Jerome incorporated this idea in his Latin version, and.

was followed by the writers- of the Western Church generally.

It is likewise expressed in the Septuagint, notwithstanding

Stickel's denial; for even if a]nasth?sai to> de<rma mou might be

explained of a raising up to health, the beginning of the apoc-

ryphal section at the close of the book, "It is written, that he

shall rise again with those whom the Lord raises up," leaves no

doubt as to its sense in the intention of the translator.

According to another view of this passage, the meaning is,

308                       The Book of Job.                     [APRIL


that Job expected a divine vindication in the present life; he

felt assured that God would make his innocence appear by the

removal of his present sufferings, and by restoring him to a

state of prosperity. This explanation is first found in Chrys-

ostom, and was adopted from him by some later writers in

both the Greek and Latin churches. During the prevalence of

rationalism in Germany, it became the reigning interpretation

in that country. But, 1. This is opposed to the whole previous

tenor of the book. Job always appears just on the verge of the

grave, and invariably rejects the idea of any earthly expecta-

tion, whenever it is presented to him. 2. It is inconsistent- with

the position maintained by Job, in opposition to his friends.

They assert that men are rewarded in this life according to

their characters. Job denies it. If now the confidence he here

expresses, is that of an earthly reward, he comes over to their

ground. 3. It is inconsistent with the obvious meaning of the

language, as that has been exhibited already. 4. There is

nothing in such an earthly expectation. to justify the solemn

and imposing manner in which these words are introduced.

The idea especially of graving upon rock, to endure for ever, a

statement which was to meet its fulfilment during his own life,

is grandiloquent if not absurd.

It has been said in recommendation of "this view, that the

doctrine of a future state is elsewhere denied or ignored in this

book, e. g. vii. 9, xiv. 7-12. Even if this were so, jo under-

stand this passage of a vindication in the world to come, would

involve no greater inconsistency than to refer it to a restoration

in the present life, when the possibility of that had been over

and over again denied. But, as a simple inspection of those

passages will show, they merely declare the impossibility of

another earthly life after the present, (see vii. 10.) To suppose

a future state denied, would not only involve an unwarrantable

rejection of the inspiration of this book, but would be inadmissi-

ble even on the assumption of its merely human origin. Although

the Old Testament saints had less light than we have upon the

nature of that existence upon which the soul enters at death,

they were never ignorant of the fact of its continued existence.

Had they been, they would have been behind the very heathen.

The account of the original creation of man itself contains

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                     309


enough to settle this question for ever, Gen. ii. 7. The two

elements of our nature are there plainly distinguished, the body

made of dust, and to return to dust again, and the immaterial,

immortal part breathed by God into man's nostrils to make him

a living soul. That the doctrine of immortality is not spoken

of before in the book of Job, is: simply because it was designedly

reserved for this passage as the sublime utterance of a faith

secure of the future, though without a visible prop in the pre-

sent. It does not recur afterwards, because the aim of its;

introduction is now accomplished. "Job's despair is' stilled by it,

but it is not the solution of the question to whose discussion the

book is devoted. Hofmann, who (Schriftbeweis II. 2, p. 471)

supposes an earthly restoration to be the thing intended in this

passage, is peculiar in his attempt to show from that the writer’s

certain knowledge of a future state. He says that the very

emphasizing of the present, involves a tacit opposition to the


We are amazed to find Hahn, who is usually so correct in his

opinions, giving a view of this passage, which empties it still

more of its meaning than that just opposed. According to him;

no future vindication is referred to at all, by God or man, in-

this world or the next; all has relation to the present moment,

and the statement is merely a repetition of what he had said

several times before, that God was at that very time aware of

his innocence, though he still allowed him to suffer.. The pro-

cess by which this sense is arrived at is as extraordinary as the

sense itself. He translates thus: "I know that my Redeemer"

lives, and a proctor (this rendering of NvrHx is about matched

by his making  qrb xx. 25, mean ‘a stream of blood') stands

above the earth (in heaven.) Even after my skin which is thus

destroyed and bare of flesh (in my present emaciated condition)

I see God',' (I know what his judgment is of my character; he

does not regard me as guilty.) There is the less need of spend-

ing words upon the refutation of this view, as it has since been

abandoned by its author, who has reverted to the old and only

tenable ground. And there is quite as little necessity of delay-

ing to discuss such notions as that of Aben Ezra, that the

Redeemer here spoken of, is some man then living, who would

come forth after Job was dead, and vindicate his memory; or

310                       The Book of Job.                     [APRIL


of Hirzel, that Job entertained the fanatical expectation that

God would instantaneously and visibly appear for him, and

against his friends.

Job's own inward conflict being thus stilled, he no longer

acts merely on the defensive, but proceeds in his remaining

discourses to assail the position of his friends. And the first

blow which he deals is really decisive of the conflict. In his

reply to Zophar, chap. xxi. he demonstrates by undeniable

facts that suffering is not invariably attendant upon sin, and

graduated by it. With their first principle thus hopelessly

demolished, only one course remains open to the friends, if they

will continue to maintain. the show of an argument; and this

Eliphaz takes in his next discourse which opens the third and

last series. The discussion can no longer be kept up as here-

tofore on general grounds. The universality of the connection

between sin and punishment in the external lot of men, can~

not be reasserted in the face of what Job has now said, and

the facts of experience which he has adduced. The only thing

that can be done, is to claim that in this particular case that

connection has been observed. Eliphaz accordingly comes out

with a direct and explicit attack upon the life and character

of Job, maintaining that his enormous criminality sufficiently

accounted for the extraordinary sufferings he was enduring.

The question at issue was thus brought down to a very narrow

compass. It was now a simple matter of fact, which could

readily be ascertained. Was Job the guilty man, which he had

been alleged to be, or was he not?  In his reply he takes up

the challenge thus thrown down.  While he considers it beneath

him to notice particularly these unfounded charges of specific

crIme, he solemnly appeals to the tribunal of the Searcher of

hearts, as vouching for his innocence; and then proceeds to

show more conclusively than before, that there were cases of

aggravated suffering not the fruit of sin, and of aggravated sin

not succeeded by suffering. This puts an end to this argument,

upon which the friends have been ringing changes from the

beginning, and which has been the main staple of their dis-

courses. It has now been refuted both in the general and in

its application to this case.  There is nothing left for Bildad,

therefore, but to present, which he feebly does, their other

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                     311


standing argument, the infinite exaltation 'of God, before whom

no man can pretend to absolute purity.

As the defeat of the friends is intimated by Zophar's failing

to answer Job's next speech, so the victory of Job is intimated

by the unusual length to' which his closing speech is extended

and by his pausing twice as though he was waiting for a reply,

which they do not make. This peculiarity of external form

must not, however, be allowed too much effect upon the inter-

pretation. It is not three speeches, but one speech in three

distinct but closely related parts, and of gradually increasing

length, and is to be regarded as a general reply to all that had.

been urged upon the other side, a summing up of the whole

argument. In the first section, chap. xxvi., Job concedes the

fact upon which one of the arguments of the friends, that just

reiterated by Bildad, is built, viz. God's, infinite greatness; but

shows its inapplicability by outdoing Bildad in the description;

without yielding his position. In the second section, chaps;

xxvii.,. xxviii., he does the same with their other main argument,

the rectitude of God's retributions. Though insisting that this

is inapplicable to his own case, he concedes the fact and ex-

hibits the true ground upon which it rests. For while man;

though able to uncover the secrets of nature, cannot find, and

the world cannot teach, wherein true wisdom lies, God has

revealed that it consists in the fear of God, and in departing

from evil. It is a lesson; therefore, resting on higher authority

than any human experience, that ruin attends wicked courses,

and happiness is only for. the good. A large number of com-

mentators, and among them Hahn and Schlottmann, understand

chap. xxviii. differently, supposing it to teach the inscrutable

ture of divine providence, and the impossibility of man’s

comprehending the wisdom by which God manages the world.

We prefer, however, the view already given, which is substan-

tially that of Hengstenberg and of Prof. Conant.

Considerable embarrassment has been created by the fact that

Job seems to assert in this section, what he had strenuously

denied in his previous speeches. Hen«e some have been dis-

posed to think that the missing speech of Zophar has, by some

error and confusion of the text, been assigned to Job. The

whole difficulty may be explained, however, by attending to the

312                       The Book of Job.                     [APRIL


design of the respective passages. Job had denied the univer-

sality of a providential retribution, by showing that there were

multitudes of cases, his own among the number, to which that

rule would not apply. But he had no idea of denying that

God exercised a moral government, on account of these inex-

plicable anomalies. He never meant to say that the course of

the sinner was the path of wisdom and the high road to happi-

ness. Accordingly he does not here contradict, but merely

qualifies and explains his previous statements. He first pro-

vides for the exceptional cases which he had before exclusively

insisted upon, by maintaining his own integrity notwithstanding

his afflictions. He then freely concedes, what he had never

doubted nor disputed, the existence of a righteous government

in the world. In fact so far from being foreign to Job's views,

it was this very conviction of God's essential righteousness,

which enabled him to rise to that triumphant expression of his

faith in chap. xix.

The fundamental idea of wisdom common to this book with

the other two of the same class, and their mutual relations, have

already been remarked upon. The resemblance of chap. xxviii.

to various passages in Proverbs chaps. i.-ix. has been often

observed, and is one of the grounds urged in favour of the com-

position of this book in 'the age of Solomon. But it may be

worth while to notice the occurrence of a similar thought with

a remarkable similarity of expression in the writings of Moses,

Deut. xxx. 11-16, where he speaks of the life and good which

he set before the people, as obtained not by searching for it in

heaven, nor by going beyond the sea, but as brought nigh them

by the revelation of God.

In the third section of his discourse Job proceeds to show

that in spite of the concessions just made, the enigma of his

own case remained unsolved. The problem in fact was one not

reached by their arguments; it was that of suffering righteous-

ness. He dwells (chap. xxix.) upon his former happy condition;

then states in contrast (chap. xxx.) the present dismal reverse,

and (chap. xxxi.) his freedom from any crime which could

account for the change. The opinion expressed by Delitzsch

and others, that xxxi. 35-37 has been shifted from its proper

place, and that this solemn appeal to God and asseveration of

1857.]                             The Book of Job                      313


innocence ought to stand at the close of the chapter, could only

have arisen from overlooking the plan upon which the whole

is arranged. This plan is to group together a number of hypo-

hetical statements of his guilt of various crimes, with the occa-

sional introduction of a parenthesis denying the fact of the

crime hypothetically assumed, and to terminate the entire series

by the imprecation of a severe penalty upon himself, if he were

really, guilty.  Thus ver. 22 is the imprecation following the

various hypothetical statements of criminality found in vs. 13,

16, 19, 20, 21, while vs. 14, 15 and ver. 18 contain parentheses

declaring his abhorrence of, or freedom from the forms of crim-

nality named.  So ver. 40 is an imprecation closing the series of

hypothetical statements beginning with ver. 24, the form of the

sin last named.  In the course of this series of assumed possi-

ilities he introduces parenthetical clauses denying the truth of

the suppositions made, e. g. vs. 28, 30, 32. So also vs. 35-37;

having supposed the case that, he might have concealed crimes

which he was really guilty, he introduces this parenthesis

affirming in the most emphatic terms that he had no cause to

do so.  Then after another hypothetical statement of crime he

adds to the whole an imprecation.  And there are few probably,

who, would not say that the imprecation is the most fitting and

emphatic close.

Job is thus, the victor in the argument. His friends have

failed in their attempt to show cause why he should not com-

plain. All, that they have been able to advance, has fallen

before his double appeal to the inequalities existing in the

world, and to his own internal consciousness of rectitude. So

far he stands justified, and his complaint against the providence

of God appears, to be well founded. The matter cannot of

course be suffered to rest here. The question has only become

more and more perplexed as the discussion has advanced; and

some foreign aid is needed to disentangle it; some umpire to

set both parties right, point out what is wrong in each, and

show where the truth lies--to show how it is that a righteous

man like, Job can suffer as he did, and yet no reproach be cast

upon the providence of God, nor the sufferer have any just

ground to complain. This want is supplied in the remaining

VOL. XXIX.-NO. II.                40

314                        The Book of Job.                     [APRIL


chapters, which contain the decision. It is two-fold, as ren-

dered by Elihu, and as rendered by the Lord.

No part of this book has given more trouble to interpreters than

the speech of Elihu. It has been an exceedingly vexed question,

what he is intended to represent, in what relation his decision

stands to that of the Lord, or why two decisions are given, in

place of settling the controversy by one. Many German crit-

ics, instead of patiently untying the knot, cut it by the assump-

tion that the discourse of Elihu is an interpolation.

In proof of this it is urged, 1. That its language and style are

different from the rest of the book. But a degree of individu-

ality is given to each of the speakers by peculiarities of lan-

guage; it was natural that this should be done for Elihu as for

the rest. And if words and expressions occur here which are

not met with again in the book, the same might be said of any

portion of equal extent which could be selected in any part of

it; for the whole abounds in unusual words and forms. Besides

these are more than balanced by a still greater. number of char-

acteristic expressions which do occur in other parts of the book

and betray identity of authorship.

2. No mention is made of Elihu elsewhere than in this single

section. But there is no professed enumeration of the dramatis

personae in the previous part of the book. The three friends

are spoken of because with them the discussion is carried on.

Elihu only speaks because they cannot answer Job. To

announce him at the beginning, therefore, would be to antici-

pate their failure before their incapacity had been actually

shown. That nothing is said of him after his speech is con-

cluded, is just because there was nothing to be said about him.

Job makes no reply because he is silenced by the force of what

is presented; and Elihu was not one of the parties to the con-

test, in reference to whom a judgment was to be expressed.

His decision is impliedly sanctioned by the Lord, and that is all

that could be asked.

3. This speech is alleged to be inconsistent with the plan

and purpose of the book, but upon grounds mutually repugnant,

and which may very properly be allowed to neutralize each

other. Some object that it anticipates the Lord's decision, and

so renders it superfluous; others, that it contradicts his deci-

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                     315


sion, and consequently cannot be admitted. N either charge is

true, as a correct exposition will show.

A good illustration of the facility with which some German

critics can believe or disbelieve just what they please, is fur-

nished by Delitzsch's assertion that this speech, which he thinks

to be greatly in advance of the rest of the book in its teachings,

and to have been added to it by way of correction, is an inter-

polation, but is nevertheless canonical.

Among those who admit the genuineness of this discourse,

there is still a wide difference of opinion as to the function

assigned to it in the plan of the writer. Some have thought

him to be the representative of human reason, and his decision

to be not true but false, the true decision being subsequently

given by the Lord. The purpose of his introduction will then

be to show that here is an enigma, which unaided reason cannot

solve. This is not a decent opinion. Jerome found in Elihu

the representative of philosophy as opposed to faith, which

latter was taught in the discourse of the Lord. Gregory the

Great regarded him as a boastful, conceited stripling, presump-

tuously undertaking to solve a question to which older and

wiser men had shown themselves incompetent. These lights in

the western Church had a great influence upon subsequent com-

mentators, down to the time of the Reformers, with whom a

different view prevailed. The majority of Rationalistic writers

take a like depreciating view of the part of Elihu. Eichhorn

says that Job does not reply, for the reason that a giant would

not measure himself with a boy. Among those who regard

Elihu as the exponent of human reason, there is quite a diver-

sity of judgment as to the ability which marks his discourse;

some regarding it as empty and shallow in the highest degree,

others as clear and forcible, and representing the loftiest result

of the unaided wisdom of man, which fails, it is true to give a

just solution, but only because the problem itself transcends

man's capacity, and requires the intervention of God himself in

order to explain it. The advocates of this view, however

modified, generally assume that Elihu stands upon the same

platform essentially with the three friends, that of the invaria-

ble connection of suffering with sin, and that his doctrine is

tantamount to theirs, or so nearly so, as not to embrace the case

316                       The Book of Job.                     [APRIL


in hand; while the doctrine of the decision given by the Lord

is on the other hand, that these providences are inscrutable by

man, as God's other works are. Man must bow to the infinite

greatness of God, and submit without murmuring to his sove-

reign though inexplicable pleasure. .

This seems to be a defective view of the' case. For, 1. It is

antecedently very improbable that a character to whom so large

a space and so much prominence are assigned in the book,

should contribute nothing or next to nothing to its main design.

If the speech of Elihu does little more than repeat what had

been said by the friends, and especially if it is mere twaddle

and empty declamation; it is unworthy of its place and of the


2. The positions taken by Elihu are not identical with those

of the friends, and ought not to be confounded with them. The

writer evidently did not intend them to be identical, for he says

expressly (xxxii. 3) that Elihu blamed the friends for not having

found the proper answer to Job. His own must consequently

stand upon different ground from theirs. All that is plausible

in this view of the matter arises from the fact that Elihu in

several cases repeats the language of the friends, or uses

expressions similar to those which they had employed. But he

does so discriminatingly. They had said much that was just

and true, and was only vitiated by the wrong application made

of it. Elihu sanctions what was right, condemns what was

wrong, and puts the whole matter upon its proper basis. The

intimate relationship between the discourse of Elihu and that of

the Lord is also such as to lend a divine sanction to the former,

and attest the truth of his claim to inspiration.

3. The solution of the sufferings of the righteous furnished in

this book is something more than that they must be resigned to

an arbitrary allotment, which admits of neither justification

nor explanation. That would leave the problem entirely un-

solved, and would not remove the difficulty at all. A man may

be crushed under an infinite force, and have to submit to it.

But such a view of the matter will not satisfy his higher nature,

and it will be impossible, except upon stoical principles, to acqui-

esce unmurmuringly in such an allotment.

The relation of these two decisions, as we conceive it, may be

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                               317


expressed by calling the first the theoretical, and "the second the

practice decision. As far as, there was any need of argument

to justify the ways of God, this task was committed to Elihu.

Be meets Job like an equal, takes up the various points involved

in the controversy, and shows; Job that he was "wrong in

complaint, and that God was right. The way is thus prepared

for the Lord, to appear and bring the whole matter to a final

issue, rendering a decision not by mere words, but by acts.

The position of Elihu is distinguished from that taken, by the

friends, mainly by two particulars. Be, like them, maitains

a constant connection between suffering and sin. That this is

not inconsistent, with what is said of this infliction in the his-

torical preface, has already been seen. Unlike them, however,

he regards suffering as disciplinary, whereas they considered it

as exclusively penal, with the exception of v. 17, which solitary

passage had no influence on the general tone of their discussion

and sin is understood by him, not of gross external crimes

merely, but as including inward states of heart, such as pride,

xxxiii. 17, xxxv. 12, xxxvi. 9. Bis speech consists of four

divisions. In the first (chap. xxxiii.) he establishes that suffering

is sent. upon the same errand with God's revelations to reclaim

from sin; and if, when God's messenger explains its design, it

is submissively received., its end is answered, and it will be

removed. In the second, (chap. xxxiv..) he shows; that God is

righteous in, all his dealings;; in the third (chap. xxxv.) that

man can have no such merit before God as; to claim exemption

from suffering as a right; in the fourth (chaps. xxxvi. xxxvii.)

that grace is joined with power in God. Job's silence is an

admission that these principles are conclusive, and that they

have effectually put an end, to his complaint.

The discourse of the Lord is, as was fitting, far the sublimest

portion of the book. Though the former speeches abound in

lofty and striking passages, where one would, think that the

writer was exhibiting iris full power, it is plain, when we see

the new grandeur and majesty which are here developed, that

he has been consciously, holding back his strength to the last,

with the view of making a worthy contrast between the divine

speaker and the men who had preceded.

The principles upon which the question between Job and his,

318                       The Book of Job.                               [APRIL


friends should be settled, having been stated by Elihu, nothing

remains but to give to this the seal of the divine attestation by

the actual issue to which God shall conduct the whole matter.

This is the aim of the personal intervention of the Lord himself,

and of his practical decision. He enters into no explanation

of the principles upon which he conducts his providence; he

makes no statement even of what had been his design in this

instance; he brings no argument to justify to men the course

which he had taken, or which he might at any time please

to take. As far as it had been thought necessary or proper to

give explanations and arguments, this had been devolved upon

Elihu, who as God's agent and ambassador might very properly

reason with his fellow-man, and labour to correct his misappre-

hensions, and justify to him the ways of God. It would not

have been compatible with the divine dignity, however, to

suffer the impression to be made that God regarded himself as

amenable to human opinion or to the tribunal of his creatures.

He is not responsible to them; nor are they authorized judges

of his acts. The event itself is the only explanation which he

deigns to furnish. The wisdom and goodness which mark the

issue, afford sufficient proof that, in spite of previous appear-

ances, he has been wise and good throughout. The issue to

which God brings the sufferings of Job, and by which conse-

quently his decision of the case is practically rendered, consists

of two parts. It is, 1. Internal and spiritual, xxxviii. I-xlii. 6,

concerning the feelings and heart of Job; 2. External,

xlii. 7-17, concerning his outward circumstances.

The spiritual effect or issue produced upon the heart of Job

is, that he is brought to penitence and humiliation, xlii. 6. He

is brought to say, "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and

ashes." That which immediately produces this effect is his

seeing God, ver. 5, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of

the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee." These verses are the

key to what precedes, and must guide us in its interpretation.

The great thing done by the Lord in this first part of his de-

cision is, that he manifests or reveals himself to Job in such a

way as brings him to humble penitence. He so appears as to

make upon Job a profound impression of his presence and

glory. The discourse, which he utters, is subordinated wholly

1857. ]                            The Book of Job.                               319


to this design of deepening Job's sense of the present God, of

bringing home to his soul the thought of how great and glorious

that Being is, who has appeared and who speaks to him.

In unfolding his greatness and glory to Job, the Lord dwells

chiefly and almost exclusively upon those displays of it which

are found in creation and in the external world, which he has

made and which he upholds. It is to misconceive the purport

of the decision which the Lord here renders, to see in it only

an appeal to his omnipotence; so that the lesson would simp1y

be, it is man's wisdom to submit to a power which it is vain for

him to think of resisting. This would reduce its teaching to

the heathen idea of submission to inexorable fate. Besides, if

this were the meaning of the Lord's discourse, it cou1d never

have produced the effect upon the heart of Job, which it did

produce, and to which allusion has already been made. In fact

it was his being tempted to take this very view of God, and of his

providential dealings toward him, which had awakened the pre-

vious struggle in his mind and been the source of his bitterest

comp1aints. The whole art of the tempter lay in representing

the Most High as an almighty force, crushing him without

right or reason to the earth. God is more than power; or the

peart of the sufferer could never be so melted into acquiescence

as Job's was.

Nor again is it the design of this discourse simply to present

the evidences of God's infinite wisdom, observable everywhere

in the works of his hands; as though the lesson to be inculcated

were exclusively this, that his orderings are infinitely wise and

lifted immensely above the comprehension of man. His duty,

therefore, in relation to afflictive dispensations, is to bow impli-

citly before a mystery which he cannot comprehend, but which

is not on that account less profoundly wise. The real lesson is

much broader than this. More is done towards solving this

mystery than thus to pronounce it insolvable. And more

comfort is given to the sufferer in view of the divine dealings

than would be afforded by saying simply that they are inscru-


These incorrect or rather partial views of the design of the

Lord's discourse have arisen in the first place from the errone-

ous supposition that it is designed as the direct answer to Job's

320                       The Book of Job.                               [APRIL


difficulty; whereas it makes no immediate nor express allusion

to the case in hand. It is not directed to the solution of the

enigma, but is subsidiary to the fact that God now appears

before Job. It. is simply designed to make a vivid impression

upon Job's mind and heart of his character and greatness. It

is but, as it were, the speaker's announcement of himself, I am

GOD. A second source of these partial views has been the dis-

severing of this discourse from that of Elihu, as though they

were two independent things; whereas Elihu's was a prepara-

tion for this, and his statements and reasonings are here presup-

posed. Elihu had dwelt upon the grace and the holiness of

God, and had shown that these attributes are not impaired by

the afflictions which he sends. He is gracious and just even in

these afflictions. He is just, because no man has any such

merit or claims, that God deprives him of his rights by afflict-

ing him. He is gracious, because these afflictions are sent with

a merciful design. These reasonings and explanations of Elihu

removed the stumbling-block out of Job's mind, reconciled to

him what he had found it impossible to reconcile before, and

took away that obstacle which had prevented him from seeing

God in his true character. When God now appeared, he was

prepared to discern in him the possession of all his glorious

attributes. He carried with him into his view of the divine.

nature those lessons which Elihu had taught him. He now saw

the justice and benevolence of God. So that as soon as God

appeared to him, and a practical impression was made upon

his heart of the majesty and glory of the Most High, these

attributes which had been so long obscured, shone out brightly

with the rest. The words uttered by the Lord are occupied, it

is true, with appeals to his works in nature, which may be said

to yield a direct proof, only or at least mainly of his power and

wisdom. But it is because these works palpable to every eye,

give the grandest impression of his exalted being. They carry

with them the irresistible conviction that he is the all-perfect

One; and if this is so, he must be perfect in every attribute.

No such monstrous conception could be admitted, as a being

perfect in power, and perfect in wisdom, but devoid of goodness

and of holiness. And hence after the instruction given by

Elihu, and the preparation which his discourse afforded, it was

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                     321


only necessary for the Lord to bring vividly to view the sub-

lime greatness of his nature in anyone of its manifestations, in

order to dispose Job to accept it in every. other. Job, had him-

self discoursed before at length of. the wisdom and power of God

But he had contemplated these too much as isolated-attributes;

and this knowledge did not humble him. But now, when he

not only. hears of God, but sees him, and consequently views

these in their indissoluble connection with the other divine per-

fections; when he views them as exalting the infinite nature of

Him who is possessed of every lofty and glorious, attribute, all

disposition to murmur is hushed, and Job bows subdued in

penitent submission.

The decisive reason, therefore, here given why he had no

right to complain, is found in God's: infinitely glorious nature;

not in his power merely, nor in his wisdom abstracted from his

other perfections, but in that exalted nature which embraces

within itself the whole assemblage of divine perfections. The

perfections of God present a ground for the most assured trust

of his creatures; they can confide in him and ought to confide

in him, under all circumstances. Such a being as he is, cannot

do anything but what is wise and right and good. As soon as

Job felt God's presence, he was instantly ashamed; and abhorred

himself for what he had said. It was God who had done it, and

that was enough. He could acquiesce, without a word of com-


The second, lesson brought to view by this issue or Job’s

affliction is, that the design of God in sending or permitting it,

was to bring Job to this increased acquaintance with himself.

Or, as the practical knowledge of God is identical with true

piety, this is equivalent to saying that it was designed to lead

him to a more elevated piety. The design of God in this matter

is to be learned not from any verbal explanation which he makes,

that would have comported less with the divine dignity--but

from the event. That event is that Job is brought to a better

and fuller acquaintance with God than he, had before. The

only solution of his enigma is found in God's infinitely perfect

nature being brought practically home to his inmost feelings

and convictions. He can find peace and satisfaction in no

other. In that he finds instant repose. And as Job's case is

VOL. XXIX. NO. II.                 41

322                       The Book of Job.                     [APRIL


proposed as an example for the whole class of sufferers to which

he belonged, the design of God here rendered apparent by the

event may be safely taken as evidence of the design entertained

by him in every like instance. Suffering and trial put a man

in a position, in which an ordinary amount of faith in God will

not answer; in which a faith that might maintain itself in times

of prosperity will not hold out. It requires an increased per-

suasion of God's infinitely glorious attributes to give a man

comfort and peace then; and this persuasion the severity of

his affliction will lead him to struggle after, and by God's grace

to attain. A condescending disclosure of himself made, if not

like this to Job by an audible voice from the whirlwind, yet by

the inward voice of his Spirit confirming and applying the word

sent by his human messengers, such as Elihu, is the customary

end of the afflictions of the pious.

The Lord's discourse is divided into two parts, at the close:

of each of which Job gives expression to the feelings of abase-

ment, awakened by the view of God now vouchsafed to him.

God first speaks of the displays of himself made in the inani-

mate and the animate creation, xxxviii. 1-xl. 2. Job can

only reply that his unutterable sense of his own meanness in

the contrast has silenced his complaint, xl. 3-5. God speaks

again of the absurd presumption of his venturing a conflict with

the Creator, who could not even contend with his creatures,

xl. 6-xli. 34. Job replies more deeply humbled still. The

inner workings of his thoughts are finely portrayed. We hear

him repeating over to himself the words of God, which had so

deeply penetrated his heart, and echoing their justice and their

force. He first charges home upon his soul the opening words

of God's first address, containing the theme to which it had

been directed, (xxxviii. 2,) "Who is he that hideth counsel

without knowledge ?" Who is he that in his folly obscures or

denies the wisdom of the divine proceedings? He admits the

justice of the reproof, and owns that he has been talking of

things above his capacity. He then repeats to himself the

challenge with which God began his second address, (xl. 7,)

rebuking his presumption for contending with him, and to

which that branch of the Lord's discourse had been directed.

But the new views now obtained of the glory of the divine nature,

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                     323


made him loathe himself that he had been guilty of such


The spiritual design of the affliction being thus accomplished

the Lord proceeds to the second or external part of his practi-

cal decision, by rectifying Job's standing in relation to his

three friends, and then reversing his calamities and doubling

his previous prosperity. The friends had been looking down

upon him as justly condemned of heaven. The Lord, however;

pronounces against them, and in his favour. He had, it, is

true, spoken some things rashly and presumptuously, but for

these, he had now expressed the deepest penitence.  Mean-

while; in spite of the sorest temptation, he had held fast to his

confidence in God, and even risen to a triumphant statement of

it. They had not only cruelly assailed instead of succouring

their distressed friend, but in their professed defence of divine

providence, had really limited God more than Job had done.

They had prescribed a scheme of providential retribution, as

though that were the only one consistent with equity and

righteousness, which yet was very different and palpably so

from the one God actually pursues. It was tantamount, there-

fore to an indirect charge of injustice, even mote serious than

that made by Job, and for which they had' no similar extenu-

tion, in that they were not exposed to a like temptation.

Their pardon being suspended upon his intercession, the first

step in his restoration is made to test the thoroughness of that

humiliation which his affliction has wrought." Will he forgive

his friends for the unkind speeches which had so provoked and

embittered him against them? As Job sustains this test, the

next and concluding step is taken in his restoration.

Seeking again the design of God in the event, we learn that

it was his purpose, by means of this affliction, to enhance Job's

happiness. As far as Satan was concerned, this affliction, sent

at his instigation, was designed for his confusion by the exhibi-

tion of Job's constancy; and this end was answered, notwith-

standing any weakness he may have betrayed in the hour of its

greatest severity. But as far as Job himself was concerned,

we are taught, by combining the leading points of the Lord's

decision, that the grounds of acquiescence in afflicting dispen-

sations are to be found, first, in God's glorious perfections, and,

324                       The Book of Job.                               [APRIL


secondly, in his gracious design thereby to advance the holiness

and the highest welfare of the sufferer. And this is precisely

the teaching of Elihu, though presented in a different form.

What he says in words, the Lord confirms by deeds. The two

decisions are in entire harmony, yet, each is indispensable. I

That the mystery of this perplexing subject is not so fully

opened up in this book, belonging to the former dispensation,

and. perhaps to its earlier periods, as it is in the New Testament,

is a matter of course. The Comforter was not yet given to the

saints so largely as he is now. And -we find holy men all

through the Old Testament, and especially in this book and in

the Psalms, uttering their complaints in their afflictions as

though they were suffering beneath God's frowns. The full

revelation of divine love had not then been made, nor the per-

fection of the triumph of divine grace over evil been exhibited.

So that it might be thoroughly and practically felt how com-

pletely afflictions have changed their nature, and instead of

being frowns and tokens of displeasure, though merited and

temporary, they are become positive fruits and evidences of

love, according to the munificence of that gospel grant, "All

things are yours," "All things work together for good."

The great Pattern of submissive Buffering had not then ap-

peared, nor could the argument so full of consolation be em-

ployed, "Seeing that Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh,

arm yourselves with the same mind." And as life and immor-

tality were not "then so fully brought to light, it could not be

said with the joyful confidence of an apostle, "These light

afflictions, which are for a moment, work for us a far more ex-

ceeding and eternal weight of glory." And yet it will be per-

ceived that the germs of the whole gospel doctrine are already

here, only needing to be expanded to New Testament dimen-

sions. There is not only the utmost harmony, but absolute

identity; only one pursues the same course to a further point

than the other. Perhaps it may not be improper to seek here

the germs of future doctrine to even a greater extent than has

now been intimated. It may be that the Messianic contents of

this book, (for Christ cannot be absent from any leading por-

tion of the Old Testament,) is to be sought less in detached

passages than in its prominent figure, and in the idea presented

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                     325


of the righteous sufferer. The struggle with Satan's malignity

under the seeming hidings of God's face, conducted to Satan's

overthrow; the being made perfect through sufferings, and the

heightened blessedness consequent upon them, present a con-

ception to the mind which was to be realized in its most perfect

ideal. This thought we find freshly pursued under the guidance

of the Spirit in those Psalms, in which the righteous sufferer is

again depicted, with a basis, perhaps, in the actual experience

of the writer, but with unmistakable reference to the future

ideal. A line of typical or prophetic reference is thus drawn,

culminating in Isaiah liii. in a clear statement of the doctrine

of a suffering but sinless Messiah. The counterpart is written

in the Gospels.

Everyone who reads it, must be struck with the sublime

power of this wonderful book. And certainly no one can study

it without an ever heightening admiration. The marvellous

fertility of its imagery, the grandeur of its descriptions, the

masterly treatment of its high and solemn theme, the skill

with which its various characters are managed, the vivid bold-

ness with which the workings of a soul in the intensest inward

struggles are depicted, and the delicate nicety displayed even in

minute points of its structure and arrangement, place it among

the loftiest productions of genius, even were it to be considered

in no other light. That the author of such a book as this should

have wholly dropped from sight, and have made no figure with

his transcendent abilities in the history of Israel, seems scarcely

supposable. It has often and justly been remarked, that the

writer must have drunk deeply of the cup of affliction himself,

have known in his own experience the in ward conflict he por-

trays, and had brought home to his own heart the lessons that

are here set before others. Can it be only another, in a series

of fortuitous coincidences, that the reputed son of Pharaoh's

daughter was driven forth an exiled fugitive for forty years

for the crime of sympathizing with the Lord's people?—“choos-

ing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to

enjoy the temporary pleasures of sin." Who can tell what it

cost him to submit to this sudden reversal of fortune, and this

apparently utter blasting of long cherished hopes, instilled even

by a mother's faith into his infant mind? We see a momentary

326                       The Book of Job.                     [APRIL


trace of it dimming his joy at the birth of his first-born son,

Ex. n. 22. We read its permanent effects in the transformation

of the impetuous youth into the man of self-distrust, and of

meekness beyond that of any upon the face of the earth.

The volumes named at the head of  this article are the best

wIth whIch we are acquainted, that have appeared upon Job

within the present decennium in Europe or America. That of

Professor Conant is a translation with notes; each of the others

is a commentary with a translation. The very cursory exami-

nation which we have been able to bestow upon the work of

Professor Conant satisfies us of the scholarship and ability with

which it has been executed; and we have no hesitation in com-

mending it to students of this book as a valuable aid toward its

interpretation. That we find ourselves to differ from him in

some of his views, does not surprise us in a book which confess-

edly presents so many difficulties.

While such is our judgment, however, of this work as a pri-

vate enterprise, we must not be understood for one moment to

endorse the action of the Society, under whose auspices it is

given to the public, nor to consent that this new translation

should supersede in general and ecclesiastical use the common

authorized version. It savours of no small presumption, in our

judgment, for the fraction of a single denomination to arrogate

to itself the work of altering that version, which is the common

property of English-speaking Christendom. We do not claim

perfection for the common version, but we do say that it is the

best version in use in any language, ancient or modern. And

the chances are ten thousand to one, that if the attempt was

now made to prepare a substitute, it would be worse instead of

better. And judging by representations made by those who

ought to know, we should rate the chances in the attempt made

by this Society at an immensely higher figure than that. The

evils of making any change will be so serious, that nothing but

the certainty of a great and positive good can justify the expe-

riment. The common agreement of all Christian bodies upon

the existing version, the familiarity of the people with it, the

reverence with which it is regarded, the extent of its introduc-

tion into our religious literature, are advantages which will

all be thrown away, the moment it begins to be tinkered

1857.]                             The Book of Job.                     327


with. And what, even upon the most favourable assumption, is

to be gained by the change?  In the great body of the Bible

the common version is the very best for the popular reader that

could be made even at this day. The parts, where improve-

ment is possible, form not the rule, but the exception, and a very

limited exception too. It is almost exclusively in the most

difficult passages of such books as Job, or the obscurer prophets,

that corrections could be made. In none of these is any impor-

tant point of doctrine or duty involved; in most, the essential

meaning of the passage as a whole would be little if at all

affected by the changes to be introduced; while in many, the

best scholars are still far from being agreed as to the precise

rendering to be preferred. To give a single instance of this

diversity, Professor Conant translates Job xxx. 24, "Yea, there

is no prayer, when he stretches out the hand; nor when he

destroys, can they cry for help." Hahn," May not a man in

falling even raise his hand, nor in his destruction cry thereat?”

Schlottmann, "Only let no one lay hands upon ruins; or is his

fall another's weal?" Besides it is not impossible that there may

be a reaction in Hebrew philology, and at least a partial return

to old traditional interpretations from which it has departed.

Of whatever service, therefore, such a translation as that of

which we are speaking may be in the study of the Bible, and

however it may serve as one of the preparatory steps toward

an improvement of the existing version at some future time, we

are more than ever convinced that the proper time for making

any changes in the authorized version has not yet come. And

if ever a time should come, when such a thing shall be feasible

or expedient, let it be not a sectarian but a Christian enterprise,

undertaken by the entire Church using the English language.




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