THE BOOK OF JOB.
This Book takes its name from the holy man, of whom it treats; who, according to the more probable opinion, was of the race of Esau, and the same as Jobab, king of Edom, mentioned Gen. xxxvi. 33. It is uncertain who was the writer of it. Some attribute it to Job himself; others to Moses, or some one of the prophets. In the Hebrew it is written in verse, from the beginning of the third chapter to the forty-second chapter. Ch.
--- The beginning and conclusion are historical, and in prose. Some have divided this work into a kind of tragedy, the first act extending to C. xv., the second to C. xxii., the third to C. xxxviii., where God appears, and the plot is unfolded. They suppose that the sentiments of the speakers are expressed, though not their own words. This may be very probable: but the opinion of those who look upon the work as a mere allegory, must be rejected with horror. The sacred writers speak of Job as of a personage who had really existed, (C.) and set the most noble pattern of virtue, and particularly of patience. Tob. ii. 12. Ezec. xiv. 14. Jam. v. 11. Philo and Josephus pass over this history, as they do those of Tobias, Judith, &c. H.
--- The time when Job lived is not clearly ascertained. Some have supposed (C.) that he was a contemporary with Esther; (D. Thalmud) on which supposition, the work is here placed in its chronological order. But Job more probably live during the period when the Hebrews groaned under the Egyptian bondage, (H.) or sojourned in the wilderness. Num. xiv. 9. The Syrians place the book at the head of the Scriptures. C.
--- Its situation has often varied, and is of no great importance. The subject which is here treated, is of far more; as it is intended to shew that the wicked sometimes prosper, while the good are afflicted. H.
--- This had seldom been witnessed before the days of Abraham: but as God had now selected his family to be witnesses and guardians of religion, a new order of things was beginning to appear. This greatly perplexed Job himself; who, therefore, confesses that he had not sufficiently understood the ways of God, till he had deigned to explain them in the parable of the two great beasts. C. xlii. 3. We cannot condemn the sentiments expressed by Job, since God has declared that they were right, (ib. v. 8) and reprimands Elihu, (C. xxxviii. 2.) and the other three friends of Job, for maintaining a false opinion, though, from the history of past times, they had judge it to be true. This remark may excupate them from the stain of wilful lying, and vain declamation. Houbigant.
--- However, as they assert what was false, their words of themselves are of no authority; and they are even considered as the forerunners of heretics. S. Greg. S. Aug. &c. T.
--- Job refutes them by sound logic. S. Jerom.
--- We may discover in this book the sum of Christian morality, (W.) for which purpose it has been chiefly explained by S. Gregory. The style is very poetical, (H.) though at the same time simple, like that of Moses. D.
--- It is interspersed with many Arabic and Chaldaic idioms; (S. Jer.) whence some have concluded, that it was written originally by Job and his friends (H.) in Arabic, and translated into Heb. by Moses, for the consolation of his brethren. W.
--- The Heb. text is in many places incorrect; (Houbig.) and the Sept. seem to have omitted several verses. Orig.
--- S. Jerom says almost eight hundred, (C.) each consisting of about six words. H.
--- Shultens, in 1747, expressed his dissatisfaction with the labours of all preceding commentators. To explain this book may not therefore be an easy task: but we must be as short as possible. H.
--- Those who desire farther information, may consult Pineda, (W.) whose voluminous work, in two folios, will nearly (H.) give all necessary information. C.
Ver. 1. Hus. The land of Hus was a part of Edom; as appears from Lament. iv. 21.
--- Simple. That is, innocent, sincere, and without guile, (Ch.) in opposition to hypocrites and double dealers. C.
--- Heb. Tam, "perfect."
Ver. 3. Sheep. Heb. including "goats," which are equally valuable in that country for milk.
--- Camels. These animals were used for riding in those barren sands, where they can travel for four days without water; and that which is muddy is best for them.
--- East, in the desert Arabia. Sept. add at the end of the book, that Job was king; and he seems to have been independent, (C.) and to have had other kings who acknowledged his authority. Pineda. C. xxix. 7. &c.
--- Each city had its own king in the days of Abraham and of Josue. Job, or Jobab, resided at Denaba. Gen. xxxvi. 32. C.
Ver. 4. His day of the week in succession; (Pineda) or each on his birthday, (Gen. xl. 20. Mat. xiv. 6. Grot.) or once a month, &c. The daughters of Job were probably unmarried.
Ver. 5. Blessed. For greater horror of the very thought of blasphemy, the Scripture both here and v. 11, and in the following chapter (v. 5. and 9.) uses the word bless, to signify its contrary. Ch. 3 K. xxi. 10.
--- Thus the Greeks styled the furies Eumenides, "the kind," out of a horror of their real name. Even those who are the best inclined, can hardly speak of God without some want of respect, (C.) in the midst of feasts, where the neglect of saying grace is also too common. H.
--- Sept. "they have thought evil against God." Every kind of offence may be included, to which feasting leads. M.
Ver. 6. The sons of God. The angels, (Ch.) as the Sept. express it. C.
--- Satan also, &c. This passage represents to us in a figure, accommodated to the ways and understandings of men, 1. The restless endeavours of satan against the servants of God. 2. That he can do nothing without God's permission. 3. That God doth not permit him to tempt them above their strength: but assists them by his divine grace in such manner, that the vain efforts of the enemy only serve to illustrate their virtue and increase their merit. Ch.
--- A similar prosopopeia occurs, 3 K. xxii. 19. Zac. i. 10. C.
--- Devils appear not in God's sight, but sometimes in presence of angels, who represent God. S. Athan. q. 8. ad Antioc, (W.) or some ancient author.
--- The good angels can make known their orders to them. Zac. iii. 1. Jude 9. Both good and bad spirits may be considered as the ministers of God. C.
--- They appear in judgment; though the latter could not see the Lord.
Ver. 9. In vain, without recompense. H.
Ver. 11. Face, like a hypocrite, (Sanctius) or rather curse thee openly, v. 5. H.
Ver. 12. Hand. God permits evils. W.
--- The devil can do nothing without leave. C.
Ver. 15. Sabeans, descended from Abraham, in the desert (C.) or happy Arabia. These nations lived on plunder. Pliny vi. 28. M.
Ver. 16. Heaven, or the air, where the devils exercise a power. Ephes. ii. 2.
Ver. 17. Chaldeans. Some copies of the Sept. read "horsemen." These nations inhabited the other side of the Euphrates, but made frequent incursions to plunder their neighbours. C.
Ver. 20. Head. Heb. torn his hair, and rolled in the dust. Bochart. Isai. xv. 2. &c. C.
--- The fathers oppose this example to the apathy of the stoics. S. Aug. de Civ. Dei. i. 9. Rom. i. 31.
Ver. 21. Thither. To that earth from which all are taken. H.
--- Ista terra gentes omnes peperit & resumet demum. Varro.
--- Ut ater operiens. Pliny ii. 63. See 1 Tim. vi. 7.
--- As...done. Some copies of S. Jerom omit this, which is borrowed from the Sept. C.
Ver. 22. By his lips, is not in Heb. but occurs C. ii. 10.
--- God. Much less did he blaspheme, as satan had said, v. 11. He did not consider all as the effect of chance, or like a mere philosopher. His thoughts were regulated by religion and the fear of God. C.
--- The virtue of Job was so much the more wonderful, as he lived among the wicked. S. Greg. He bore patiently with the loss of all things: and English Catholics have often imitated him. W.
--- He might well record his own good actions, the gifts of God, being moved by divine inspiration, like Moses, &c. S. Greg.