King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Job 34

Elihu accuses Job of charging God with injustice. (1-9) God cannot be unjust. (10-15) God’s power and providence. (16-30) Elihu reproves Job. (31-37)

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Elihu accuses Job of charging God with injustice

1 Furthermore Elihu answered and said,

2 Hear my words, O ye wise men; and give ear unto me, ye that have knowledge.

3 For the ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meat.

4 Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what is good.

5 For Job hath said, I am righteous: and God hath taken away my judgment.

6 Should I lie against my right? my wound is incurable without transgression.

7 What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning like water?

8 Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men.

9 For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God.

God cannot be unjust

10 Therefore hearken unto me ye men of understanding: far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.

11 For the work of a man shall he render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways.

12 Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment.

13 Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world?

14 If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath;

15 All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.

God’s power and providence

16 If now thou hast understanding, hear this: hearken to the voice of my words.

17 Shall even he that hateth right govern? and wilt thou condemn him that is most just?

18 Is it fit to say to a king, Thou art wicked? and to princes, Ye are ungodly?

19 How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they all are the work of his hands.

20 In a moment shall they die, and the people shall be troubled at midnight, and pass away: and the mighty shall be taken away without hand.

21 For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings.

22 There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.

23 For he will not lay upon man more than right; that he should enter into judgment with God.

24 He shall break in pieces mighty men without number, and set others in their stead.

25 Therefore he knoweth their works, and he overturneth them in the night, so that they are destroyed.

26 He striketh them as wicked men in the open sight of others;

27 Because they turned back from him, and would not consider any of his ways:

28 So that they cause the cry of the poor to come unto him, and he heareth the cry of the afflicted.

29 When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only:

30 That the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared.

Elihu reproves Job

31 Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more:

32 That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more.

33 Should it be according to thy mind? he will recompense it, whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose; and not I: therefore speak what thou knowest.

34 Let men of understanding tell me, and let a wise man hearken unto me.

35 Job hath spoken without knowledge, and his words were without wisdom.

36 My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end because of his answers for wicked men.

37 For he addeth rebellion unto his sin, he clappeth his hands among us, and multiplieth his words against God.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 3. Taste. The most accurate philosophers attribute this faculty to the tongue, (C.) rather than to the throat, guttur. Heb. “mouth or palate.” H. — But Eliu speaks agreeably to the notions of the vulgar. C. — Intellectus saporum cæteris est in prima lingua, homini et in palato. Pliny xi. 37.

Ver. 5. Judgment. C. xxvii. 2. Job had used this expression, but only to intimate that strict justice did not take place, as he thought his faults had not deserved so severe a chastisement. He did not pretend that God was unjust, or that he was quite blameless; and he had so explicitly declared his sentiments, that Eliu could not well be ignorant of them. C.

Ver. 6. There. Sept. “he has been deceived;” epseusato. Heb. “I will convict my judge of lying;” or (C.) Prot. “should I lie against my right?” H. — Job, in the excess of grief, had expressed himself forcibly. C. xix. 6. and xxiii. 7. But great deductions must be made from such hyperboles; and he had frequently praised the mercy and justice of God, and his just punishment of the wicked. He had indeed excepted himself from the number; and Eliu ought to have proved that he was wrong in this respect. But he seems to have all along evaded or mistaken the point under dispute. C. — Arrow, which pierces me. H. — The deferring judgment was not a subversion of it, as Eliu would argue,. C. xxvii. 2. W.

Ver. 7. What. This may be a continuation of Job’s speech, who seemed to assert that none had ever been insulted like himself, nor borne it with greater patience; (C. xvi. 4.) or Eliu reproaches him with talking scornfully to his friends and to God. C.

Ver. 8. Goeth in. Sept. insert a negation, which is not found in Heb. Chal. &c. They may be understood to speak ironically. C. — “Who committeth no sin, nor iniquity, nor has had any society with lawless people, so as to walk with wicked men.” H.

Ver. 9. With him, and strive to please him. Horrible blasphemy! of which Job was incapable: as if God were a cruel master, and threw us into despair. He had asserted that God punishes the wicked, and often treats his friends with the like severity, (C. ix. 22. and xxx. 26.) in this world: which is very true. C. — Sept. “Say not that man is visited. He is indeed visited by the Lord.” H. — Eliu wrests Job’s words, in order that he may have something to say against him. S. Greg. xxiv. 25. W.

Ver. 13. Earth? If God cannot be unjust, hat he given the administration of the world to some other, who may have been deceived? This will not be asserted. Heb. “who hath visited the earth for him?” or, “who hath set him over the earth?” Is he a hired judge, who may be bribed? C.

Ver. 14. To him, and examine his conduct with rigour: there is scarcely a moment of our lives in which he would not discover a just reason for withdrawing his hand, and suffering us to die. Ps. ciii. 29. C.

Ver. 17. Judgment. How can we hope for redress from God, while he condemns his conduct? M. — How can we bring Job to a sense of his duty, since he entertains such perverse notions? Heb. “Shall he hold dominion, who hates justice?” If God be unjust, does he deserve our adoration? (C.) or, “ought not the person to be put in prison, who resists judgment?” Grot. “If thou dost not think that He who hates crimes, and destroys the impious, is eternal and just?” Sept. H.

Ver. 18. Who. Theod. in Sept. “wicked is he who says to the king, thou actest contrary to the law; and to the rulers, thou most impious.” H. — Apostate. Heb. “Belial.”

Ver. 19. Tyrant. This title is not always odious. It formerly was given to all princes, and came to be used in a bad sense, on account of the misconduct of some kings of Sicily. Tyrannus a rege distat factis, non nomine. Sen. Clem. xii. — Heb. “the rich more than the poor.” H. — God fears not to rebuke even the greatest princes, and dost thou dare to arraign his justice? C.

Ver. 20. They, the wicked, whatever may be their station in life. H. — God takes off the tyrant (C.) when he least expects it, as well as the poor. H. — Troubled, or make an insurrection. C. — This often proves the ruin of tyrants. H. — Hand, by the destroying angel. C.

Ver. 22. Death, or the most obscure recess. H.

Ver. 23. Man. Heb. “He will not lay upon man (C.) more than right (Prot. H.) to,” &c. After once passing sentence, all is over. C. — When man has fallen into sin, he cannot with a god grace contend with God. C.

Ver. 24. Stead. Where are not the ancient Assyrians, Carthaginians, &c. who once made such a figure in the world? C. — Sept. “glorious and sudden, and unnumbered.” The next eight verses are taken from Theodotion. H.

Ver. 25. Night, calamities. At once the shall be oppressed. C.

Ver. 26. Sight. Lit. “in the place of the beholders,” (H.) in public. C.

Ver. 27. All. Prot. “Any of.” The wicked observed none of God’s commandments as they ought. He that offends in one become guilty of all. Jam. ii. 10.

Ver. 29. Condemn, either God or the person whom he approves. Does not he exercise dominion over all? C. — Men. Lit. “all men.” Heb. “a man.” God may destroy either a part or the whole of creation. Sometimes whole nations or cities are cut off, and the deluge nearly swept away all mankind. H.

Ver. 30. People. A hypocrite denotes one infected with all sorts of crimes. S. Iræn. v. 24. Such a king is sometimes given to punish a wicked people. Ose. xiii. 11. Isai. iii. 4. This sense is beautiful, and followed by the Chal. Sept. &c. We may explain the Heb. in like manner, by neglecting the Masoretic points. C. — Prot. “That the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared.” H. — Heb. “He overturns the throne of hypocrites, on account of the scandal of the people,” or “he delivers the people from servitude.” The sense of the Vulg. seems preferable. C. — Eliu insinuates that Job had been a hypocrite and an oppressor; but God exculpates him. W.

Ver. 31. Seeing. Heb. “Thou shouldst have said to the Lord, I have suffered enough: (C.) I will not offend.” Prot. H. v. 32. — Turn. He had undertaken to plead God’s cause. C.

Ver. 33. It, my iniquity. M. — Will God make thee accountable for it? H. — Yea, if thou keep silence, (C.) thou wilt seem to connive at it. H. — He wishes to engage Job to speak. Heb. may be translated many ways. C. — Prot. “Should it be according to thy mind? He will recompense it whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose; and not I. Therefore speak what thou knowest.” H.

Ver. 36. Father. From God all the rights of a father spring. Ephes. iii. 15. C. — Sept. “No indeed: but learn Job, answer not like fools.” Prot. “my desire is, (marginal note, my father) that Job may be tried unto the end, because of his answers for the wicked.” H. — He has imitated their wicked discourses; let his chastisement deter others. C. — The sequel seems to intimate, that Eliphaz is here styled Father. M.

Ver. 37. Fast, and pressed by arguments. M. C. — Heb. “since he adds crime (C. Prot. rebellion) to his sin, and clappeth his hands among us, and multiplieth his words against the Lord.” Eliu concluding that Job was obstinate, (H.) invites his friends to join in prayer, that he might be still more severely chastised, to make him enter into himself. Such a strange petition might possibly proceed from charity. But Eliu had given too many proofs of passion, to allow this interpretation. Had he evinced that Job as a criminal? and were not his sorrows already too great, so that he might rather have prayed that God would alleviate them, or grant him more patience?