« 前へ次へ »
behaviour in his adversity : "Behold, thou hast instructed many, &c. but now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.” The previous allusion to what he had been, while it wears the aspect of friendly commendation, is meant only to give point and poignancy to the appended reflection on the bitterness of his own grief. A good comforter, he insinuates, ought to be a good sufferer. Alas! and was Eliphaz not at all sensible that the very intemperance of Job's expressions was the effect of his own failure in the duty of a comforter? Had he imitated the very example which he seems to commend, the patriarch might have been soothed into tranquillity, and so prevented from giving utterance to those desperate imprecations, which are now made the occasion of keen and taunting invective. But instead of the desolate and agonized sufferer finding a comforter such as he himself had been to others, he meets with reserve, and suspicion, and silence, and looks of jealousy, of which the accusatory meaning was but too plainly intelligible, for seven successive days ; and this is what pierces and wrings his very heart, and forces from his lips the impassioned language of a disappointed and tortured spirit. And now, instead of any sympathetic allowance being made for that language, it is eagerly laid hold of, and, in terms of severe condemnation, made the introduction to vehement debate. Instead of a cup of soothing and exhilarating cordial, there is given him “vinegar to drink mingled with gall.” The very comfort he had administered to others is transmuted into a poison wherein to dip the arrow of reproach against him as a sufferer :
“ Not such the strain, when grief attentive hung
On the wise lessons of thy powerful tongue;
The sixth verse has been variously rendered ; but, for the reason already mentioned, I decline entering into verbal criticism. Our own translation, only substituting for the word fear the word piety, may be detained : “Is not this thy piety, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways ?”—a form of question full of bitter sarcasm. Is this, then, the amount of all thy professions and appearances of religion ? Now these professions and appearances present themselves in their true light. They served well enough for others ; they fail thyself: they sufficed for the ease of prosperity; they prove their frailty in the pressure of adversity. It is evidently a taunting insinuation of hypocrisy—of a high character, without the basis of reality.
After this severely sarcastic introduction, Eliphaz proceeds immediately to the more formal statement of his principle, so incessantly, though under various forms, reiterated afterwards: verses 7-11. In the first of these verses, he makes his appeal to Job's oron observation, as well as to general experience :-“Remember, I pray thee, whoever perished being innocent ? or where were the righteous cut off ?”—point me out the singular case : where, when, and to whom did the strange and anomalous event happen? In the whole providential administration of the Most High, I challenge its production. In the verse following, he records what he himself had marked : “ Even as I have seen, they that plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, shall reap the same.” We have here an exemplification of the importance, in order to the right understanding of any passage, of considering the precise sense in which words are used by the speaker. Taking these words of Eliphaz in one sense, they express a momentous scriptural truth ; a truth expressed in the same figurative terms in other parts of the Divine word—such as Prov. xxii. 8; Hos. viii. 7; Gal. vi. 7 — and frequently in plainer and more literal forms of speech; the truth, namely, that in the end, in “the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God,” wickedness shall inevitably find its due retribution. Nay, there is a sense, even in regard to the present life, in which the words express a sentiment frequently and in various ways repeated in the book of Proverbs-namely, that wickedness tends to temporal suffering and ruin, while integrity, sobriety, and general rectitude of conduct, tend to the contrary. But neither of these is the sentiment meant by Eliphaz; and the sentiment which he does mean to express, is not a truth : that temporal suffering is, in God's providential administration, invariably inflicted on the workers of iniquity, and duly proportioned to the respective measures of their guilt. This is the principle maintained by him and his friends, which was then, as it has been since, and is still at variance with every day's experience, and not less at variance with the plainest dictates of Scripture, as is shown by the ultimate decision of this very controversy. Verses 9-11 are only an exemplification, in lively figures, of the same sentiment. The “lions” are a metaphor for wicked and violent oppressors and ravagers of mankind. The“ old lions” are the long experienced and hackneyed in the ways of iniquity and wrong: the “young lions," the “stout lion’s whelps,” are the youthful and vigorous, who have been brought up to the craft and cruelty of oppression, who follow their example, “ trained to catch the prey and to devour men." These, and all similar characters, are here represented as the marked and constant victims of Divine retribution; as “perishing by the blast of God, and consumed by the breath of his nostrils,” and that, not only judicially at last, but providentially now. And let the reader observe the inference implied, and intended to be drawn from the premises. The principle is, that they who sow iniquity reap suffering; and the inference intended is the converse of this, that they who reap suffering must hare
sown iniquity. The bearing of this inference on the case of Job was the very thing that cut him to the quick-the conclusion drawn from his sufferings against his character, and from the unwonted amount and severity of his sufferings to the extraordinary displeasure of God, for evils known to him, although from them and from fellow-men in general successfully concealed.
Eliphaz next brings forward a divine communication he had received, and applies the lessons of it to the case in hand : verses 12–21. In simple and impressive sublimity-in awful, horror-moving power, this description stands confessedly unrivalled. The darkness—the stillness -the solititude—the deep slumbers of night—the sudden, startling, thrilling dread, making the bones tremble, and the hair of the flesh stand on end—the gliding of the apparition before eyes that were strained on the darkness—its stopping before him—its mysterious and undefined form—the pause of dead and breathless silence—and the divine solemnity of the oracular utterance-all contribute to inspire a shrinking sympathy with the dread of the narrator. A very considerable proportion of the terrific effect upon our minds arises from our conception of the scene as one of a human apparition—a ghost, or spirit of the dead ; in which, be the cause what it may, there has always been something specially appalling to men. But we should beware of allowing ourselves to fancy this of Eliphaz a mere ghost-story- a phantom either of the dreaming or the waking man's imagination. It was evidently a divine communication ; was so understood by Eliphaz: and would, on any other supposition, have been of no value whatever to his argument. It bore resemblance to the visions of the prophets : Num. xii. 6. It is not introduced merely for effect, but as an oracle. This seems implied in the style of expression-"A WORD was secretly brought unto me;" this term being frequently used for the communications made to those “holy men of God who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Eliphaz was a worshipper and servant of the true God; and was, in all probability, occasionally at least, the recipient of supernatural instructions_similar to those described by Balaam in Num. xxiv. 4, &c. Eliphaz, in conformity to that description, was not himself asleep. It was a vision, not a dream.
The spirit, in this vision, might, in all likelihood, be an angelic spirit. The word is used by itself, as here, for an evil angel, in 1 Kings xxii. 21. Only in the present instance, the same defined and distinctly visible appearance was not assumed as on other occasions ; but a luminous, undefined, flitting form. The fear of Eliphaz does not at all warrant the inference of his never having had any divine communications but then. The appearance might, indeed, be of a kind new to him ; but even if it was not, his fear was far from singular. All the prophets describe themselves as affected in a similar way. Gen. xv. 12; Dan. x. 8., &c. &c. N. S. VOL. V.
By some, however, it ought to be mentioned, an entirely different view is taken of the meaning of the word rendered in our translation“a spirit.” They translate it a wind. Thus Heath, “Then a wind passed swiftly over my face.” This translator, however, makes the rest of the passage, as others do, describe a spectre. But Scott (not the commentator, but the poetical translator of Job) says, “ The translation should probably be, On a sudden a glorious appearance presented itself before my eyes ; but I discerned not the form thereof : that is, he could not perceive that the appearance had any determined shape. It was probably a cloud of light.” He too conceives that the word for spirit should be rendered wind; a rushing wind and a dazzling luminous appearance being two of the accompaniments of divine communications. And he enumerates the attendant circumstances as beingthe darkness of the night, the whirlwind, the sudden stillness, the burst of glory, and the awful void, that had, by their nature, and by the order of their succession, so overpowering an effect upon the imagination :
"Fear seized my soul; the hand of horror strook
Which in these terms their awful dictates spoke." -I merely mention this. It is the interpretation of a superior critic, of sound judgment and good taste; but, for different reasons, I greatly prefer the other.
Observe now the communication itself : verses 17-21. The principal lessons contained in it are the unimpeachable rectitude of God; the imperfection and corruption of man ; the consequent justice of God in his sufferings ; and the impiety and presumption of a creature, in venturing to arraign or find fault with any of the divine dispensations. All complaint supposes the party complaining injured. Job had uttered complaint. He had expressed himself in terms which Eliphaz interprets into unbecoming querulousness and dissatisfaction, and impeachment of the divine ruler's procedure : as in chap. ü. 20, &e.
It is not uncommon in controversy, to find men introducing, with all solemnity, truths which nobody questions, in such connexions and in such a manner as to convey the impression of their being questioned, and even denied by the speaker's opponent. Surely the afflicted patriarch, whose unqualified expressions we would not justify, would not have hesitated to give his full assent to the truth implied in the questions of the oracle "Shall mortal man be more just than God!
shall a man be more pure than his Maker ?" Yet the introduction of this oracle, (which probably Job's speech brought to his recollection) was calculated and designed to convey the idea that the mind of the patriarch was denying or doubting this truth. The oracle most justly reproves the impiety, on the part of a creature and a sinner, of all arraignment of the dealings of the High and Holy One. But, while the sentiment conveyed is just, the personal application of it, meant to be implied, was far from being so.
The sentiment expressed by Eliphaz—the untainted, independent, immutable purity of the Godhead-is conveyed in terms of loftiness worthy of the theme : verse 18—“Behold he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly.” So stand his words in our received version—in the past tense ; from which it would appear as if the translator understood the reference to be to the defection of the angels that “kept not their first estate.” Most translators, however, if I mistake not, prefer the present. “Behold he cannot confide in his servants, and chargeth his angels with default”-Goode. “Behold he putteth no confidence in his servants; and in his angels he discerneth folly”—Heath.
“Lo! he discerns- discern'd by him alone
Spots in the sanctities around the throne ;
To yield him service unalloy'd with blame."-Scott. -And this is probably the true meaning. Our translation may express strongly, by exemplification from the highest order of holy intelligences of whose existence we have any knowledge, the necessary defectibility of all created natures, in contrast with the divine : but the others contain a much more vivid and lofty expression of the underived and unrivalled purity of that Being who is "light, and in whom is no darkness at all :” and indeed, not of his purity alone, but of his knowledge, and wisdom, and all imaginable excellencies. The holiest and the wisest of creatures unless confirmed by divine sovereignty, is still a being into whose mind the thought of folly and sin may find admission ; and whose holiness and wisdom are, at the best, but a faint and dim reflection of the attributes in Deity whence they are derived : so that, comparatively, the holiness is impurity, and the wisdom folly. The term used is not sufficiently strong for the proud rebellion of the fallen angels : and the corresponding language of the same speaker in another place-chap. xv. 15-confirms the interpretation given : “Behold he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight.”
That the reference is to the holy angels, appears from the style of comparison which immediately follows—verse 19 : “How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed before the moth !" But of this and the two following Ferses, descriptive of the weakness, the transitoriness, and the unsatis