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truth, so new to his friends, he brings forward the great fact that the earth is given into the hand of the wicked. Then he plaintively concludes with the prayer that God would let him alone for a while (that is, alleviate his sufferings), before he passes to the land of darkness and the shadow of death.
Zophar, the Naamathite, then takes up the argument, demanding that Job should repent, and humble himself for the sins which he has doubtless committed ; for wherefore should he be so grievously afflicted if he had not sinned ? He reiterates, but with more vehemence and harshness, what the others have said, and utters lofty sentiments pertaining to the impossibility of penetrating to the knowledge of God, except so far that He always acts in accordance with justice.
Job had seemingly blasphemed when he maintained that God does not always so act, since the innocent suffer as well as the guilty, and but feebly escaped this imputation by refuge in the idea that an absolute God can make that just which to human consciousness is unjust. Here he is a no better theologian than Calvin or Jonathan Edwards, for there are no possible arguments which can convince us that manifest injustice can be harmonized with divine justice. Of the sin which Job is supposed to have committed Zophar knows nothing, but he hopes that Job will turn penitently unto God, so that his sin may be pardoned. He persists in the assumption of the others, that Job has committed an unknown sin, for which he should repent.
Driven almost to madness, Job now scornfully and ironically turns upon his friends. “Truly, ye then are the people, and wisdom shall die with you! What ye know, the same do I know; everybody knows it; even the beasts and the birds and the fishes will tell you of the unsearchable power of God, — and to Him will I speak. But ye are forgers of lies, physicians of no value. It would be your wisdom to hold your peace. Your wise sayings, — they are maxims of ashes." In the consideration of God's presence, he rises above his despair to the realm of faith. “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” But he is not equal to the elevation which he had for a moment attained. He begs for a release from his pains, and sadly dwells on the lot of mortals. “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” Nor has he the comfort we should expect in immortality. “If a man die, shall he live again ?” he anxiously or doubtingly exclaims. “ Oh,” he cries, “ that thou wouldst hide me in the under-world, wouldst conceal me till thy wrath is past, wouldst appoint me a time [for my justification), and remember me! If a man die, will he live again? All the days of my warfare would I wait until my change come. Thou wouldst call, and I would answer thee; thou wouldst yearn toward the work of thy hands.”
In view of a future deliverance he strives to be patient. He does not seem to have perfect assurance, but hopes that after death there may be renewed life and an improved condition : if it were so, he says, I would wait patiently. This change of wilt and will to woulist and would is according to the recent revisionary translation, and shows reasonably how this “intimation of immortality,” even as a hypothesis, brought comfort to Job's mind, while yet the lack of any certain revelation of it left him in darkness, and he relapses into despair again. “ But the mountain, falling, crumbles, and the rock is removed out of its place. . . . So thou destroyest the hope of man.” “In the mighty abyss of Sheol he sees a flower, but it soon fades away.”
To this sad, afflicted, uncomforted mourner Eliphaz again speaks, but now in the language of reproving expostulation. He reproaches him for maintaining his innocence. “What is man that he should be clean ? and he that is born of woman, that he should be righteous ?” Why, the heavens are not clean in the sight of infinite holiness, how much less is man who drinketh iniquity like water! He goes over the same ground as before, affirming that there is no such thing as human perfection ; that he could not be innocent since he was a
sufferer; that he suffers as wicked men always suffer; that he is condemned out of his own mouth, inasmuch as his innocence is an impossibility, — in short, that he is adding untruthfulness or hypocrisy to his other sins. What these are he does not assume to know. He knows only one thing, — that no man is perfect; that “no one liveth who sinneth not.” Nay, he accuses Job of impurity, bribery, robbery, lying, and general “mischief ;” as not only a human“ miserable sinner," such as the most comfortable consciences cheerfully confess themselves to be, but a specific and particularly vile criminal.
Job is now fairly driven to despair, and he vents himself in mingled reproaches and lamentations. His reproaches are bitter. “Miserable comforters are ye all !” exclaims he; “ return ye, for I cannot find a wise man among you.” His lamentations are most plaintive. “As for me, I have made my bed in the darkness. I have said to corruption, thou art my mother! and to the worm, thou art my mother! And where is now my hope?... My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death, although no violence is in my hands, and my prayer is pure. My witness is in heaven; my attestor is on high. My friends are my mockers; unto God my eye pouretk tears." He is prepared to meet death. He expects no vindication on earth, for his friends become still
more obstinate and unrelenting ; but he appeals to God to attest the innocence of which he is conscious.
But the more he asserts his innocence, the fiercer are his friends. “How long,” exclaims Bildad, “ will it be before thou makest an end of words ?” In his eyes Job is scarcely less than a liar and a hypocrite, and with terrible eloquence he paints the total destruction of the evil doer, evidently pointing to Job as being destroyed as an example for posterity.
Job now pleads plaintively with his friends to spare him, since it is God who has afflicted him so grievously. He enumerates his trials and miseries, and confidently expects that his terrible disease will soori make an end of him. “Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends ! for the hand of God hath touched me.” Yet so confident is he of the truth of what he says, that he exclaims, “Oh that my words were written in a book! that they were engraven with an iron pen in the rock forever!” He would appeal to posterity. And then apparently feeling that death was rapidly approaching, he rises into the regions of lofty faith, and utters these memorable words: “But I, I know that my redeemer [avenger] liveth, and in after time will stand upon the earth. And after this my skin is destroyed, and without my flesh [in iny disembodied spirit), shall I see God, whom I for myself shall see, and mine eyes shall behold and