Job 4:12 Commentary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
12. Now a thing ] Or, and a word. Eliphaz proceeds to another point, but he introduces it calmly, though with deepening earnestness in his tone; it is something additional, and he appends it by the simple and.
a little thereof ] Rather, the whisper thereof. His ear caught it all, but the whole of it was but a whisper.
12 5:7. Turning to Job’s murmurs against heaven, Eliphaz points to the unapproachable purity of God and the imperfection of all creatures, and warns Job against such complaints
Having expressed his wonder that a righteous man like Job should fall into such utter despair under afflictions, forgetting that to the righteous affliction is but a discipline, Eliphaz seeks to draw Job back to consider what is the real cause of all affliction. This is the imperfection of man, an imperfection which he shares indeed with all created beings, in the highest of whom to God’s eye there is limit and possible error. And this being so, murmuring can only aggravate his affliction by provoking the anger of God.
The passage falls into two divisions. In the first, Job 4:12-21, Eliphaz contrasts the holiness of God with the imperfection of all creatures, even the pure spirits on high, and much more a material being like man, and thus indirectly suggests to Job the true secret of his troubles. In the second, ch. Job 5:1-7, having laid this broad foundation, he builds on it a warning to Job against his murmurs. Only the wicked resent God’s dealing with them, and by doing so bring increased wrath upon themselves till they perish.
With great delicacy and consideration Eliphaz, instead of impressing the imperfection of man on Job directly, narrates how this truth was once impressed upon himself by a voice from heaven. It was in the dead of night, when all around were in deep sleep. His mind was agitated by perplexing thoughts arising out of visions of the night. Suddenly a great terror fell upon him. Then there passed before his face a breath. And there seemed to stand before him a form, too dim to discern, from which came forth a still voice, which said, Can man be righteous with God? Or, Can a man be pure with his Maker? Even to the holy angels He imputeth error, how much more to frail and earthly man? Job 4:12-21.
Applying to Job this truth, so impressively taught to himself, Eliphaz asks, If Job appeals against God, whether any of the holy beings, who minister between God and men, will listen to his appeal? (ch. Job 5:1). Nay, it is only the wicked who resent the afflictions of God, and by their rebellious impatience increase their afflictions till they are destroyed. Such an instance he had himself seen. He saw a fool, a rebellious murmurer against Heaven, spreading forth his roots and giving promise for a moment of prosperity. But suddenly destruction came upon him. His harvest was seized by the hungry robber; the rights of his children were trampled upon; and his home was broken up and desolate ( Job 4:2-5). And finally, Eliphaz condenses into a vivid aphorism his teaching in this section: for trouble springs not out of the ground it is not accidental nor a spontaneous growth of the soil. But man is born unto trouble it is his nature so to act that by his evil deeds he brings trouble upon himself. Out of his heart rises up evil as naturally as the fire sends forth sparks ( Job 4:6-7).
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The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".