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That division of the holy scriptures upon which we now enter, is called by the Jews Chethulnm,
writings; or, in Greek, Hagiographa, or holy writings. The book of Job, the Psalms, and the writings of Solomon, are properly classed in this division; but the Jews include several other books, without reason or propriety. In these parts of the sacred oracles there is greater depth and apparent difficulty, than in those which precede: but the instruction is in general more immediately prepared for use; and the real benefit of perusing the scriptural history, much depends upon ihe degree of our previous acquaintance with the books before us. In like manner, we shall read the records of our Savior's miracles and discourses to edification, in proportion as we have understood the epistolary part of the New Testament; which, though more difficult in many respects, conveys instruction in more direct and explicit terms. We begin with the book of Job, which some learned inen have employed much pains, ingeniously, but very unwarrantably, to in terpret as an allegory. The prophet Ezekiel mentions Job, Noah, and Daniel, as three persons of eminent piety: (Ez. 14:14,20.) and the apostle James illustrates the advantages of patience by the example of Job, as he had before done his doctrine of faith and works by the examples of Abraham and Rahab. (Jam. 2:21-25. 5:11.) No reasonable doubt therefore can remain, that the narrative of this book is historical truth; though we may safely allow that, as the discourses of Job and his friends are recorded in poetical language, their sentiments and arguments alone are transmitted to us, and not the exact words which they used in conversation. But there is no sufficient ground for questioning, whether the transactions relating to the world of spirits, good and evil, actually for substance occurred. It is indeed evident, that this could not be known, except by revelation: but as the book itself records several supernatural visions, and a glorious appearance of God himself speaking from the whirlwind; this creates no difficulty to those who consider it as true, and as a part of the sacred canon. As such, the Jews have always regarded it, though not favorable to Job, because he was a Gentile, that is, not an Israelite, or descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: (Note, 1:1.) and St. Paul's manner of quoting it, with “It is writ. ten,” shews that he considered it as a part of the oracles of God. (Comp. Job 5:13, with 1 Cor. 3:19.)—A very high antiquity is generally ascribed to this book; nay, some think it the most ancient work now extant in the world. The long life to which Job attained; the great remains of patriarchal religion in the land of Uz; the worship of the sun and moon being the only idolatry mentioned in it; and no express allusion being made to the Mosaic law, or the wonderful works of God towards Israel; with several peculiarities in the style and composition of the work, give sanction to this opinion. Some learned men indeed, perceiving a similarity of sentiment between some parts of this book, and passages in the Psalms and Proverbs, would assign it a much later origiu: but wise and pious persons will often, without copying from each other, give the same instructions, and be of the same opinion; and it is at least as probable, that David and Solomon alluded to the book of Job, as that the writer of that book alluded to their works, if any intended reference be supposed.-Indeed the date of the events which it records cannot be exactly ascertained: but it is very likely, that Job was in his first prosperity, between the time when Joseph died, and the appearance of Moses in Pharaoh's court as Israel's deliverer; and the language used by God himself, that "there was none like him in all the earth," seems to give probability to this opinion; for there is no other eminent character mentioned in Scripture as Aourishing during that period. It is not agreed, who wrote this buok. Some ascribe all of it to Job himself, except the conclusion. Some to Elibu, who in one place seems to address the reader concerning his auditory. (Note, 32:15–17.) But others think that Moses was the author of it. The style has likewise induced an opinion, that it was written in the Arabic language: perhaps Elihu wrote it in Arabic, and Moses rendered it into Hebrew.-The first two chapters are in prose; the style of them is very plain; and they form an introduction to the poetical part, which is in many places peculiarly figurative and sublime, and consequently more difficult to be interpreted. The latter part of the last chapter is a historical conclusion of the whole.-It cannot be clearly shewn, that this book contains any prophecies, properly so called; because the passages which might be adduced as prophetical, may also be considered as a profession of faith in the promised Redeemer, and concerning a future resurrection: but few parts of the Old Testament declare more explicitly the grand outlines of revealed truth, and even of evangelical doctrine; so that they who speak of it, as consisting chiefly of nutural religion, seem to have entirely mistaken the scope of it.-It opens with an account of Job's piety and prosperity, the charge of hypocrisy and selfishness wbich Satan brought against him, and the permission which he obtained from God to reduce him to the deepest distress, as a trial of his integrity. It proceeds to relate how his former friends, witnessing his unprecedented sufferings, were led to condemn him as a wicked man. This gave rise to a warm controversy, whether heavy afflictions prove any person, who is apparently pious, to be a hypocrite. In disputing this point, the principles of true religion were argued from by all parties as uindoubted truths, and many excellent things were spoken; but the whole had in it a sad mixture of human infirmity. When they could by no means come to an agreement upon the subject, Elihu, who had heard the debate with great modesty and solemnity interfered; and, having first censured the other disputants for groundlessly condemning Job, he proceeded to reprove him for his improper eagerness in justifying himself, by which he bad reflected on the justice of God. While he was discoursing, the Lord himself spake out of a whirlwind, and, by a discovery of his incomprehensible majesty and glory, made Job sensible of his presumption, and brought him to humble himself before him as a vile and poliuted sinner. This being effected, he justified Job from the charge of hypocrisy, and condemned the conduct and language of his friends; and, haying decided the controversy in favor of Job, he appointed him to sacrifice and intercede in their behalf, that they might be forgiven. The whole closes with an account of Job's deliverance, and redoubled parsperity, honor, and comfort.-It is a book full of caution and encouragement to the tempted and afflicted, and of warning to those who hastily judge their brethren. It throws great light upon the doctrine of Providence, and upon the agency and influence of evil spirits under the control of God. We see in Job an eminent type of the suffering and glorified Savior, and a pattern of the believer's “passing through much tribulation into the kingdom of God." In short, the whole is replete with most important instruction; and, among the rest, we are reminded of the ill effects of acrimonious religious dispute. These four pious men argued together, till, becoming angry, they censured and condemned each other, and uttered many things irreverent about the divine character and government; and, having lost their temper, would have also lost their labor, and have been more at variance than ever, if another method had not been taken of deciding the controversy.
11t household; so that this man was the The uprightness, piety, prosperity, and numerous family of Job, || 8 greatest of all the men of the east. and his religious concern for his cbildren, 1-5. Satan appearing before God, accuses Job, and obtains leave to try him,
1 4 And his sons went and feasted in & -12. Job, receiving successive accounts of calamities, wh.ch deprived him of all his substance, and all his children, mourns with humble resignation, and worships God, 13-22. lisent and called for their three sisters, to MTHERE was a man in the land of leat and to drink with them.
1 Uz, whose name was Job; and 5 And it was so, when the days of their that man was perfect and upright, and feasting were gone about, that Job sent done that feared God, and eschewed and k sanctified them, and 'rose up early evil.
in the morning, and offered burnt-offer2 And there were born unto himings, according to the number of thein e seven sons and three daughters. i all: for Job said, It may be that my
3 His * substance also was seven sons have sinned, and P cursed God a in thousand sheep, and three thousand cam- their hearts. Thus did Job $continels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and ually. (Practical Observations.) five hundred she asses and a very greatlit Or, husbandry. 2 Chr. 26:10. 24:5. Lev. 1:3-6.
0 1 Kings 18:31. Acts 21:26. Gen. 10:23. 22:21. Huz. 36: 1 Pet. 3:11.
li Heb. sons of the east. Judg. o 2 Cor. 11:2. 2. 1 Chr. 1:17,42. Jer. 25:20. e 42:13. Esth. 5:11. Ps. 107:38. 6:3. 7:12. 8:10. 1 Kings 4:30. I p 11. 2:9. Lev. 24:10-16. 1 Lam. 4:21. 127:3-5. 128:3.
h Gen. 25:6. 29:1. Num. 23:7.Kings 21:10,13. bEz. 14:14,20. Jam. 5:11. * Or, cattle. Gen. 12:5. 13: i i Ps. 133:1. Heb. 13:1.
Gen. 6:5. Jer. 4:14. 17:9,10. c 8. 2:3. 23:11,12. 31:1,&c. Gen. 34:23. 2 Chr. 32:29.
k 41:25. Gen. 35:2,3. Ex. 19: Mark 7:21-23. Acts 8:22. 1 6:9. 17:1. 2 Kings 20:3. 2 Chr. 42:12. Gen. 12:16. Num. 31:
10,14. 1 Sam. 16:5. Neh. 12: 1 Cor. 4:5. 31:20,21. Luke 1:6.
32-34. Judg. 6:5. 1 Sam. 25: ||
r 27:10. a Gen. 22.12. Prov. 8:13. 16:6. 2. 2 Kings 3:4. Prov. 10:22.
I Gen. 22:3. Ps. 5:3. Ec. 9:10. Heb. all the days. Luke 1:75. m 42:8. Gen. 8:20. Ex. 18:12 18:7. Eph. 6:18.
believer, and an excellent character.—"True, NOTES.
'blameless, just, godly, abstaining from every CHAP. I. V.1. The land of Uz seems to have 'evil deed. Sept. been a district of Arabia, to the south-east of V. 2, 3. (Marg. Ref.)-When the earth was Canaan; though some suppose, that it was situ- | but thinly inhabited, it was much easier to acated in Idumea, and that Job was descended from quire land, than to cultivate it, or to procure catEsau. (Marg. Ref. a.) Others think that he tle to feed on it; (as the case still is in several descended from Abraham by Keturah; yet it parts of America, and in newly discovered counseems more probable that he was of the posterity tries;) so that Job's wealth is reckoned by the of Huz, the son of Nahor. (Gen. 22:21.) He is number of his cattle, not by the extent of his supposed to have lived before any part of the lands. He was the principal person in that scriptures was written: but he was acquainted country; had abundance of everything which with the truths and will of God, by tradition and constituted riches among them; and acted as a immediate revelation; and so he was not a gen- magistrate, or ruler: though it does not appear tile, at least not a stranger to revealed truth, as that he was, properly speaking, a king, as many many seem to suppose. The religion of Job and suppose him to have been. (Evyevns, Noble. Sept.) of his friends was evidently the same as that of V. 4. The sons of Job, now grown up and the patriarchs. He was a man of most eminent settled in houses of their own, cheerfully enjoyed piety, upright, fervent, and stedfast in religion, | their abundance; and, as they lived in brotherly and exemplary in his whole conduct; one who love, they were accustomed at certain seasons to regarded the authority of God, reverenced his entertain each other alternately. It does not apmajesty, and habitually worshipped and obeyed pear, that Job made one at these feasts; (2 Sam. him. So that he carefully avoided sin and temp 13:24,25.) but whenever his sons met, they invited tation, and “exercised himself to have a con- | their sisters to join their company, which both science void of offence towards God and man." ! shewed a proper affection for them, and evinced IIis subsequent trials tended to his greater hu- || that no indecency or riot attended their feasting. miliation; but he was previously an eminent | V. 5. As Job had, no doubt, piously educated
6 | Now 8 there was a day when the | 7 And the LORD said unto Satan, sons of God " came to present themselves | » Whence comest thou? Then Satan anbefore the LORD, and * Satan * came also swered the LORD, and said, 2 From going famong them.
to and fro in the earth, and from walking & 2:1.
22:19–23. i Chr. 21:1. Zech.up and down in it. t 38:7. Dan. 3:25. Luke 3:38. 3:1. Rev. 12:9, 10, u Ps. 103:20. Matt. 18:10. x John 6:70.
y 2:2. 2 Kings 5:25.
43. 1 Pet. 6:8. Rev. 12:9,12 * Heb. the adversary. 1 Kings | Heb. in the midst of them. l1 Zech. 1:10,11. 6:7. Matt. 12:| 17. 20:8.
his children, and set them an excellent example, ll 'the case, and from the context.'-Bless the gods, and offered many prayers for and with them; we in their hearts.' El. Smith. But no mention is may suppose that they were well affected to re- made in the book of Job, of any other god, or ligion. Indeed, nothing is intimated to the dis- i gods, except the true God; or any other idolatry, advantage of their characters, and no feasting but the worship of the sun and moon. The oricould be more inoffensive than theirs seems to ginal has not the article, and must be rendered have been. Yet while their pious father could cither God, or gods, not the gods; and the clause not but behold their harmony and comfort with is exactly the same as is used of the true God, in satisfaction; his knowledge of the human heart the next chapter. (Note, 2:9.) suggested a jealous fear, lest their cheerfulness V. 6. The holy angels nó doubt are here should betray them into some levity or excess, meant by “the sons of God;" because they love some vain conversation, or some injurious thoughts him, and are beloved of him, as his children. of God, either tending to infidelity, to dislike of' (Marg. Ref. t.-Note, 38:4–7.) They are here bis holy worship and service, or to idolatrous love introduced to our notice, as on some special ocof worldly enjoyments. When therefore their casion presenting themselves before the Lord, to feastings were ended, acting as the priest of his give an account of their late services; and to refamily, "he sent and sanctified them,'' reminding ceive further commands, in delightful obedience them to examine themselves, to confess their to which their happiness greatly consists: and Sasins, to seek forgiveness, and to prepare their tan, the adversary of God and of his whole creahearts to attend the ordinances of God with se tion, is represented as intruding himself among riousness and humble devotion; and he offered a them. Without determining any thing about the burnt-offering for each of them. (Notes, 1 Sam. place or way, in which this evil spirit appeared 16:5. 2 Chr. 29:5.) Thus he taught them, that before God, or associated with his angels; or even the secret unbelief, ingratitude, and rebel whether the transactions of the invisible world be lion of the heart, merited condemnation, and not described in language, adapted rather to our could only be expiated by the shedding of blood, conceptions than to their real nature; we bence and the offering of sacrifice, in repentance and learn, that Job's extraordinary afflictions origihumble faith. As he did this continually, we may nated from the malice and agency of Satan, by dithence understand his unremitting care of huis vine permission for wise and holy purposes: and family, the tenderness of his conscience, his many truths, respecting the character and inknowledge of the fallen state of man, and the de Auence of the devil and his angels, are thus empravity of human nature; his entire dependence phatically proposed to our attentive consideraon the mercy of God in the way, which he had tion. These apostate spirits are continually inappointed, and his believing regard to the prom truding into the company of the children of God ised Redeemer:
I on earth, especially when they meet in his ordiCursed God.) The word rendered “cursed," nances, or approach bis mercy-seat. And they in this and several subsequent passages, in its would dare to intrude even into heaven, the habusual meaning signifies to bless: yet it must be itation of God's holiness, if access were allowed understood in a bad sense in this place, and when them, to join the company of his holy angels: yet employed by Satan concerning Job. It is the this would not in the least degree change their same word as is used, when Naboth was accused evil nature; for wberever they go, they are inof “cursing God and the king;” and consequently |stigated by malice, and seeking to do mischief. stoned as a blasphemer and traitor. 'Lest my But, as God is every where present, (though in “sons in their mind have thought evil against heaven his glory is especially displayed,) all that "God.' Sept. Some think this was substituted in is spoken upon these subjects may be literally stead of the word which more generally signifies understood, without supposing that they are ever to curse, from reverence to God. Others suppose admitted into that holy place. (Note, 1 Kings it signifies to salute, as men do when they meet, 22:19–23.)—“The sovs of perdition came to set or part with others, and thus is used to denote, 'themselves against Jehovah, and the Satan (endeparting from God, or renouncing him. But 'emy) also came among them.' E. Smith. This the learned Mr. Leigh brings a quotation from most adventurous alteration, made on untenable Mr. Selden, which seems more satisfactory, and grounds, even by the confession of Dr. Randolph which I shall therefore translate. It is most cer the editor, contrary to the concurrent opinion of "tain, that the verb Barak signifies to execrate, or all preceding versions, critics, and expositors, 'to curse, as well as to bless; and this, as I think, shews the dangerous extent to which the sacred 'not by antiphrasis as some will have it; but al-i oracles may be altered, by an attachment to new most from the very idiom of the sacred language, I notions, and a slight consideration of the subject. 'it may signify either way, according to the con -The LXX read 'Oı ayyedot tv O€8° “The angels 'nexion in which it is used, as among the Latins of God.” 'sacrare and imprecari. For, as the first signi- || | V. 7. When the holy angels had given an ac'fies at some times to devote any one by curses to count of their services; Satan is represented as 'destruction, and at others to consecrate any thing ! interrogated, Whence he came, and what he had 'to God; and as we call for either good or evil been doing? And his answer seems to have im"upon others; so, Barak denotes what a man plied an arrogant claim to be “the god and prince 'wishes or calls for, with an ardent mind, whether of this world;" and, in the spirit of pride and self'it be salvation or perdition. And when applied vindication, he avowed that he had been travers'to the Deity, it either signifies addressing him by ling his dominions, without exceeding the bounds “praises and thanksgivings, (which is more com- | assigned him. It also denoted his restless malice, mon,) or with revilings and reproaches; and the land unwearied endeavors to do mischief. (Notes, difference is to be collected from the nature of ll i Pet. 5:8,9.)