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THERE was a man in the land of Hus, whose name was Job, and that man was simple and upright, and fearing God, and avoiding evil.

THE BOOK OF JOB.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

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."




2 And there were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3 And his possession was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a family exceeding great: and this man was great among all the people of the east.

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.


4 And his sons went, and made a feast by houses every one in his day. And sending they called their three sisters to eat and drink with them.

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.


5 And when the days of their feasting were gone about, Job sent to them, and sanctified them: and rising up early offered holocausts for every one of them. For he said: Lest perhaps my sons have sinned, and have blessed God in their hearts. So did Job all days.

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.


6 Now on a certain day when the sons of God came to stand before the Lord, Satan also was present among them.

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.


7 And the Lord said to him: Whence comest thou? And he answered and said: I have gone round about the earth, and walked through it. 8 And the Lord said to him: Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a simple and upright man, and fearing God, and avoiding evil? 9 And Satan answering, said: Doth Job fear God in vain?

Ver. 9.  In vain, without recompense.  H.


10 Hast not thou made a fence for him, and his house, and all his substance round about, blessed the works of his hands, and his possession hath increased on the earth? 11 But stretch forth thy hand a little, and touch all that he hath, and see if he blesseth thee not to thy face.

Ver. 11.  Face, like a hypocrite, (Sanctius) or rather curse thee openly, v. 5.  H.


12 Then the Lord said to Satan: Behold, all that he hath is in thy hand: only put not forth thy hand upon his person. And Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.

Ver. 12.  Hand.  God permits evils.  W.

 

--- The devil can do nothing without leave.  C.


13 Now upon a certain day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the house of their eldest brother, 14 There came a messenger to Job, and said: The oxen were ploughing, and the asses feeding beside them, 15 And the Sabeans rushed in, and took all away, and slew the servants with the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell thee.

Ver. 15.  Sabeans, descended from Abraham, in the desert (C.) or happy Arabia.  These nations lived on plunder.  Pliny vi. 28.  M.


16 And while he was yet speaking, another came, and said: The fire of God fell from heaven, and striking the sheep and the servants, hath consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell thee.

Ver. 16.  Heaven, or the air, where the devils exercise a power.  Ephes. ii. 2.


17 And while he also was yet speaking, there came another, and said: The Chaldeans made three troops, and have fallen upon the camels, and taken them, moreover they have slain the servants with the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell thee.

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.


18 He was yet speaking, and behold another came in, and said: Thy sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the house of their elder brother: 19 A violent wind came on a sudden from the side of the desert, and shook the four corners of the house, and it fell upon thy children and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to fell thee. 20 Then Job rose up, and rent his garments, and having shaven his head fell down upon the ground and worshipped,

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.



Job Is Tested

Job Is Tested

Then Job rose up, and rent his garments, and having shaven his head fell down upon the ground and worshipped,
Job Hearing Of His Ruin

Job Hearing Of His Ruin

Then Job rose up, and rent his garments, and having shaven his head fell down upon the ground and worshipped,

21 And said: Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord.

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.



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22 In all these things Job sinned not by his lips, nor spoke he any foolish thing against God.

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.


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