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which were known to everybody, but he invokes curses on his own head if his statements are not true. “If," said he, “I have walked in vanity, if my foot hath hasted to deceit, if my step hath turned out of the way, then let me sow, another reap. If mine heart hath been enticed toward a woman, and I have lain in wait at my neighbor's door, then let my wife grind for another. If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail, or have eaten my morsel myself alone; if I have seen any perish for want of clothing, if I have lifted my hand against the fatherless, — then let my arm fall from my shoulder-blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone. If I have made gold my hope ; if I have rejoiced be. cause my wealth was great ; if I have rejoiced in the destruction of him that hated me; if I have covered my transgression as Adam by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom ; if I have eaten the fruits of the land without money, and made its tenants sigh out their breath, — then let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockles instead of barley.”
The three friends of Job make no further reply, not because they looked upon themselves as conquered in the controversy, — few men can see when they are beaten, or are willing to admit defeat: they were indig. nant that Job continued to justify himself, and was righteous in his own eyes. Further controversy was useless; all had been said that could be said on both sides, and further words would be but repetitions, which not only are tedious, but really weaken the impression already made.
For this reason, and others, the appearance of Elihu, a new personage now brought into the controversy, has been thought to be unnecessary, since he had nothing essentially new to offer. Mr. Froude, in his essay on Job, affirms that the speech of Elihu is now decisively pronounced by Hebrew scholars not to be genuine, yet instances no authorities and no proofs. It may be that the speeches of Elihu are the work of a later poet; they have not the artistic merit of the speeches of the three friends, and the speaker is not mentioned in the prologue or epilogue. To the four speeches of Elihu Job makes no reply. Whether it was because Elihu uttered no new truths, or because his reproofs in some way touched his heart, it is hard to determine. Elihu is a young man, and seemingly a very arrogant and conceited one. He affects superior wisdom to that of the three friends. “There is a spirit in man,” he exclaims, “and the inspiration of the Almighty hath given them understanding. Not the great are wise, nor do the old understand the right. Therefore I said: Hearken unto me, and I also will show my opinion.” Nevertheless, Elihu declares nothing that reaches Job's case. He does not accuse him of coarse sins, as the
others in their impatience and wrath had done. He even is angry with the three friends because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. But Elihu is indignant with Job because he continues persistently to justify himself instead of God. Supposing that there is something yet wrong about him, he urges penitence in order that God might forgive him. Elihu evidently does not believe in Job's innocence. He is not emancipated from the dogma which enslaves the minds of the three, friends, – that a man is a sinner because he is afflicted.
None of the speakers understood that God meant to try the integrity of his servant, and to confound the accusing spirit. Even Job did not soar to this height, but in his various and conflicting emotions fancied at one time that God was his enemy. He did not recognize the mystery of God's providence, and submit to it as he ought to have done. Here was his sin, — not that he had broken the moral law and was punished for it: he was, as God himself had declared, a perfect man; but he could not penetrate the mystery of God's dealings with him, which were not to chastise him, but to instruct him, and teach him humility and submission. Job is in error only in not having correct views of divine love, and for uttering words of bitterness and complaint amid his intolerable sufferings. But the consciousness of his integrity he never for a moment relinquishes, and perpetually maintains. And as his friends could not understand this loftiness of character, they added new torments to him whom they failed to console, and even unjustly accused of crimes of which they knew he was innocent. But while the three friends, and also Elihu, reproved Job, they all believed in the justice and goodness of God; for “ surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment.” They all alike uttered sublime and lofty truths, but all alike failed to comprehend Job, and even to see mystery in his afflictions. He seemed to all alike to multiply words without knowl. edge, and to set himself up against God, when he should rather have cast himself humbly to the ground in penitence and fear.
After Elihu had delivered his four long speeches, - which indeed, like the whole poem, are rich with majestic expositions of the glory and power and justice of God, and the impotence of man, but which, as having no bearing on his case, Job did not condescend to notice, — then Jehovah himself answered Job out of the whirlwind, and revealed himself for the justification of his servant. In language of incomparable grandeur he is represented as describing, in his works of creation, his own absolute power and inconceivable majesty. He does not reason nor argue, but by the revelation of himself in Nature convinces Job of his own ignorance and
imbecility. How awful and how sublime are the words which direct the attention of man to the wonders of creation! When in our contemplative moods we survey the stars, extending through infinite space, each one the centre of systems of worlds, then how the greatness of the Creator is impressed upon our minds, and our souls fall prostrate in adoration and wonder at the vastness of the universe and its impenetrable mysteries ! We are overwhelmed with awe, and say, “What is man, that Thou takest knowledge of him ? ”
Much more overwhelmed was Job, when he heard the awful words from the mouth of Jehovah himself: “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth, when the morning stars sang together and all the Sons of God shouted for joy? Canst thou bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Knowest thou the ordinances of the heavens? Who provideth the young lions and ravens with food ? Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea ? Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth ? Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? Who hath begotten the drops of dew? Out of whose womb came the ice? Canst thou send lightnings, or number the clouds ? Hast thou given the horse his atrength ? Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom? Doth the eagle mount up at thy command ?”