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The caravans of Sheba pant for them :
Ye see my downcasting, and shrink back. Suddenly he feels he has been too acrimonious, apologizes, and intreats their further attention; but is instantly hurried away by a torrent of opposite passions; now once more longing for death, as the termination of his sufferings, and now urged on by the natural desire of life. He expostulates warmly, and, at length, unbecomingly, with the Almighty; and at once growing sensible of the irreverence, humbly confesses his offence, supplicates forgiveness, and implores that his affliction may cease.
It is now Bildad's turn to speak; who commences with bitter and Bildad's most provoking cruelty. He openly charges the whole family of speech. Job with gross wickedness, on no other ground than their destruction by the whirlwind ; and throws suspicions against the patriarch himself, in consequence of his being a sufferer in the calamity. Like Eliphaz, he also exhorts him to repent, and to look to God for a restoration to prosperity, and never more to depend on himself ; observing, in the language of an apt and exquisite proverbial saying of the long-lived, perhaps the antediluvian ages, that the most succulent plants are soonest withered ; and that the reliance of the hypocrite is a cobweb. In the beginning of his reply to this speech, the suffering patriarch Reply of Job
Bildad. shows that he has once more recovered himself, and is superior to t the acrimony of its assault. He acknowledges that all power is with God, who alone has created whatever exists; but maintains that, as to his moral government, we are grossly ignorant, and can account for nothing that takes place; and that the good and the wicked suffer indiscriminately. At one moment, under the influence of acute agony, he longs earnestly to plead his cause with God, and to defend his habitual integrity; but awed suddenly by new ideas of the divine power and purity, and aware that from both causes he must be overwhelmed, he shrinks from so daring a task; and concludes with an affecting address to the Almighty, in which he ventures to expostulate with him, as his Creator and Preserver. He grows warmer as he proceeds; is roused to desperation at the thought that God is become his enemy and persecutor; and once more vehemently calls for a termination of his miseries by death.
Next in the progress of the argument, appears Zophar, who, like Zophar's Bildad, commences with violent and rough invective. He condemns speech. Job severely for continuing to assert his innocence before God. He contends that the ways of Providence are obvious, and that it is only his own iniquity that makes them appear dark and mysterious. Like the preceding speakers, he exhorts him, in fine and figurative language, to put away his iniquity, and lift up his hands to the
A.M. 2484. Almighty; and promises that he shall then soon lose all trace of his A.C. 1520. present calamity,
As waters passed by shalt thou remember it, and that his late prosperity and happiness shall be redoubled upon
- him. But if not, he denounces his utter and irremediable ruin. Reply of Job Stimulated by this repetition of so unjust and opprobrious an to Zophar. accusation, Job, for the first time, vents a sarcasm on his part. In
return for the proverbial sayings of his companions, he retorts upon them sayings of a similar kind, many of them possessed of far more force and appropriateness. He then commences a direct attack upon their own conduct; and charges them with declaiming, on the part of God, from the base and unworthy hope of propitiating him. He grows still warmer as he advances; and, under a consciousness of general innocence, demands to be put to the bar, and to stand his trial with the Almighty: he boldly summons his accusers, intreats the Supreme Judge not to overwhelm him with his power or awfulness; and, realizing the tribunal before him, at once commences his pleading, in an address, which, according to the feeling of the moment, is vehement, plaintive, argumentative, full of fear, of triumph, of expostulation, and, at last, of despondency; now representing the Creator in all his might and supremacy, as demolishing a driven leaf, and hunting down parched stubble; next exhibiting doubts of a future state; then exulting in the belief of it; and finally sinking into utter gloom and hopelessness.
Third part. Part III. Comprises the second series of controversy, and extends
from the fifteenth to the close of the twenty-first chapter. Eliphaz Speech of opens the discussion in his regular turn. He accuses Job of
vehemence and vanity: asserts that no man is innocent; and pointedly observes to him that, in regard to himself, his own conduct is sufficient to condemn him; concluding with a train of highly forcible and figurative apophthegms, of great beauty and antiquity, calculated to prove the certain and irrecoverable misery of the wicked
and unrepentant. Reply of Job Job replies to him, and once more complains bitterly of the
reproaches and contumelies so unjustly heaped upon him, but consoles himself by again appealing to the Almighty upon the subject of his innocence. He accuses his companions of holding him up to public derision, and entreats them to leave him, and return home : he again pathetically bemoans his lot, and looks forward to the grave with scarcely a gliminering of hope, and an almost utter despair of a resurrection from its ruins.
Bildad next enters into the debate with his characteristic virulence and violence, at the same time exhorting Job to be temperate. The whole speech is a string of generalities, and parabolic traditions of the first ages, concerning the fearful punishments in reserve for the
wicked; all exquisitely sublime and beautiful in themselves, but A.M. 2484. possessing no other relevancy to the present case than that which B.C. 1520. results from the false argument that Job must be a great sinner, because he is a great sufferer.
The reply of the patriarch to this contumelious tirade, contained Reply of Job in the nineteenth chapter of the common division, is one of the most to Bildad. brilliant parts of the whole poem, and exhibits a wonderful intermixture of tenderness and triumph. It commences with a fresh complaint of the cruelty of his assailants: the meek sufferer still calls them his friends; and, in a most touching apostrophe, implores their pity in his deep affliction. He takes an affecting survey of his hopeless situation, as assaulted and broken down by the Almighty, for purposes altogether mysterious and unknown to him ; and then suddenly, as though a ray of divine light and comfort had darted across his soul, rises into the full hope of a future resurrection, and vindication of his innocence; and, in the triumph of so glorious an expectation, appears to forget his present wretchedness and misery. The lead is next assumed by Zophar, but merely to recapitulate Speech of
Zophar. the old argument under a new form. Job has not yet confessed the 40p heinous sins for which he is suffering: and hence, in bold and terrific pictures, chiefly, as on many preceding occasions, derived from the lofty sayings of ancient times, he alarms him with the various punishments reserved for the impenitent. In reply to Zophar, Job appears to collect his whole strength of Reply of Job
to Zophar. argument, as though resolved at one and the same time, to answer all that has been advanced upon the subject, by each of his opponents. He boldly controverts their principle, that present prosperity is the lot of the good, and present misery that of the wicked. He asserts, even while trembling at the thought of so mysterious a providence, that here the reprobate, instead of the righteous, are chiefly triumphant,—that this is their world,—that they riot in it unrestrained, and take their full of enjoyment. They may, perhaps, continues he, be reserved against a day of future judgment and retribution ; but where is the man that dares attack their conduct to their face? who is there that does not fall prostrate before their power and overwhelming influence? even in death itself, they are publicly bemoaned, and every individual attends upon their obsequies. Thus concludes the third part of this poem, and it could not possibly conclude better.
Part IV. Comprises the third and last series of controversy, and Fourth part. reaches from the twenty-second, to the close of the thirty-first chapter. Eliphaz, as usual, commences; and moved by the cogent and Speech of argumentative eloquence of the preceding speech, is himself incited to a stricter and closer discussion of the subject than he had hitherto aimed at; and pours forth his whole spirit into one grand effort of confutation. His argument is full of art, but it is, in a great degree,
A.M. 2484. the art of the sophist. He charges Job, in spite of his own guarded B.c. 1520. declarations to the contrary, with being an advocate for the wicked,
by connecting wickedness and prosperity in the manner of cause and effect; and, of course, as being, in his heart and propensities, a party to all the iniquities of the antediluvians that brought the deluge upon the world. With the most accomplished subtilty, he dwells upon this signal judgment for the purpose of adverting to the single delivery of the family of righteous Noah, their great progenitor, as a proof that God neither does, nor will, suffer the wicked to escape punishment, nor the righteous to pass without reward. In addition to which, he proceeds to instance the striking rescue of Lot and his family from the conflagration that devoured the cities on the plain; thus sophistically opposing two special and miraculous interpositions to the general course of divine providence. He concludes, as on various former occasions, with exhorting Job to confess and abandon his iniquities; and beautifully depicts, in new and forcible imagery,
the happiness that he will then find in reserve for him. Reply of Job The placid sufferer does not allow himself to be turned off his to Eliphaz.
guard. In his rejoinder he again bemoans the mercilessness of those
Bildad, to whom it belongs next to reply, is completely conof Bildad." founded. He is compelled to admit that the present state of things
proves the Deity to work with absolute sway, and in an incomprehensible manner. But, though driven from his former position, he still maintains that Job must be wicked, since every man is wicked, and altogether worthless in the sight of God; all which, in order to
Brief and final speech
give the greater weight to his observations, he confirms by deliver- A.M. 2484. ing them in the words of ancient and proverbial maxims.
B.C. 1520. Job, in reply to Bildad, is indignant at his not openly retracting Reply of Job an opinion which, it was obvious, he could no longer maintain. He to is particularly irritated at his pretending, once more, to quote the proverbial maxims of past times, as though to enlist the wisdom of the ancients against him; and sarcastically follows him up by a string of other traditions of a similar kind, possessing still more magnificence, and, at least, as much general connection. And having thus severely reproved him, he returns to the argument in chapter xxvii. and asserts that, distressed as he is, and forsaken of God, habitual innocence has ever belonged to him, and ever shall; and, on this very account, he secretly encourages a hope that he shall not be ultimately forsaken; and forcibly points out the very different situation of the wicked, when they also are overtaken by calamity; their ruin being, on the contrary, utter and irreversible, and even entailed on their posterity. Under the disappointment their visit had produced, and the proofs of feebleness and folly it had exhibited, where wisdom and consolation were to have been expected, he proceeds to a highly figurative and exquisite description of the value of genuine wisdom, and the difficulty of searching out its habitation, concluding, as the result of his inquiry, that it alone resides in, and issues from the Creator, and is only bestowed upon those who sincerely fear him, and depart from evil. He closes with a detailed and deeply interesting examination into every department of his life-an examination that ought to be studied and copied by every one. He investigates his conduct in the full sunshine of prosperity, as a magistrate, as a husband, as a father, as a master; and in all these characters he feels capable of conscientiously justifying himself. In the course of this historical scrutiny, he draws a very affecting contrast between his past and his present situation; the period in which all was happiness and splendour, and that in which all is trouble and humiliation. He challenges his companions, and the world at large, to accuse him publicly and expressly of a single act of injustice or oppression ; declares that, so far from shrinking from such an accusation, he would wear it as a frontlet upon his shoulder and his turban ; that, like a witness on the side of his accuser, he would furnish him with all the evidence in his power; and pants earnestly to be put to the bar, and abide the decision of his country.
Zophar should now have replied in rotation; but he has already exhausted himself, and the argument closes.
Part V. Contains the summing up of the controversy, which is Fifth part. allotted to Elihu, a new character in the poem ; but who, though Summing unnoticed, appears to have entered before the commencement of the up of the. debate, and to have impartially studied its progress. The speech by Elihu.
mencement 01 V0 argument