Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

very much question whether · keeping the field' was an expression of victory of so old a date as the book of Job. It seems to me to belong to the times when war was become more an art than it was in the times of Job : conquerors then did not use to keep the field ; and why should they, when one battle commonly decided the point, and the conquered had nothing to do but to fly, and the conqueror to pursue ? And even now keeping the field is the lowest idea of victory, and signifies little more than not being routed ; and was this a fit image to represent the all victorious power of the Almighty? Does it not convey to the mind the notion of a great struggle for victory, of great difficulties in obtaining the conquest ? And is such a notion agreeable to the book of Job, which seems to be written on purpose to show that God has no rival in power ?

But let us see what light may be had by considering the passage itself, and the sentiments on which it is formed.

It is apparent that Job founds his hopes, whatever they were, on the power of his Redeemer; and therefore we may expect to find, in what is said of him, plain marks and characters of power. * I know that my Redeemer liveth. This is a just reflexion, and proper to the case ; and if you consider these words as spoken by a man, in his own opinion ready to expire under grief of mind and pain of body, they necessarily imply a hope extending itself beyond the grave. His thought is this: I am dying, but I know my Redeemer shall never die ; and therefore I will still trust in him for deliverance. But where is the sense or comfort of this, on supposition that nothing can be done to help us after death?

. And that he shall stand at the latter day on the earth.? (Veahharon hal haphar jakoum.) This circumstance surely is not insignificant; and yet what does barely standing on the earth import? Is it any mark of power or dignity to stand on the earth, on which so many thousand weak and miserable things stand every day? The original words therefore (supposing "haphar' to mean the earth) should, I conceive, be rendered to this sense, and that he shall at the latter day arise with power over the earth. The same expression, and in the same sense, is used 2 Chron. xxi. 4. When Jehoram was risen (va-jakom hal) up to the kingdom,' that is, to rule and govern

they

it as a king. Many other instances might be given of this manner of speaking, which will easily occur to those who inquire after' them. See Noldius in voc. (Hal.) page 688. In this sense Job affirms that his Redeemer should stand on the earth as a king stands over his kingdom, to govern it, and to do justice and judgment. This consideration to an innocent man, suffering undeservedly, was a great comfort; and a proper character it is of the Redeemer, on whose power Job's hope intirely depended. which it must be here taken: haphar may be, and is translated earth, when earth is equivalent to dust. For instance, it is indifferent whether we say, man shall return to the earth again, or man shall return to the dust again from whence he was taken. In this therefore, and in like cases, you will find haphar rendered by yñ, terra, earth, by Greek, Latin, and English translators. But when the earth is spoken of as the habitable world, as the place which God made for man, or as the place subject to God's power and dominion, it is not styled haphar. And yet if you take haphar in the proper sense, as it signifies dust, the image that arises is quite improper to the turn of thought in this place. To stand on the dust, to be founded on the dust, are expressions signifying a weak and tottering condition. To sit on the dust, and lye in the dust, are phrases descriptive of a state of misery and distress. Job therefore, who is contemplating the power and might of his Redeemer, could not say that at the latter day he should stand on the dust; which would, according to the idiom of his country, be saying, he should be weak and like a house built on the sand, ready to fall. But,

There is another use of the word haphar frequently to be met with, and which will suit all the circumstances of this place. We read in Genesis that man was formed of the dust (haphar) of the ground; and in the book of Job xxxiv. 15. we read, . all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto (haphar) dust.' From these and many other passages, it appears that haphar is the proper word to signify the dust out of which man was made, and into which all dead bodies are ulti

mately resolved. Consider now what Job's hope is, 'though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:' he puts the case of his being utterly destroyed, and his body reduced to dust and ashes, and yet his confidence is that he should in his flesh see God: and if

you

take the reason he gives for his hope, as it will come out on this sense of the word, you will find a propriety and justness in the whole passage. As for myself, says he, I am wasting away, and this body shall soon return to dust again ; but my Redeemer will abide for ever, and I know that he will at the latter day arise with power over (this) dust, and in my flesh I shall see God. You see how the parts agree. Job, though sensible that he should soon return to dust, yet trusted in God, knowing that he could as easily restore him from dust, as he at first made him and all men out of the dust of the ground.

There is a circumstance belonging to this passage, and which ought to be considedred with it, to which Grotius has said nothing, and which can hardly be reconciled with the opinion that Job expected no more than a temporal deliverance. The case is this : Job being tired with the opposition of his friends, and the perverse construction they made of his misfortunes, as if he must needs be as wicked as he was miserable, appeals from them to another judgment : Oh,' says he, 'that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book ! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead, in the rock for ever! For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day on the earth. You see how strongly Job insists on his plea ; though men would not receive it, yet he wishes it were s graven in the rock for ever;' that it might remain till the time in which God would come to judge his cause; “for I know,' says he, 'that my Redeemer liveth.' Suppose Job to expect a future time of judgment, the whole passage is exceeding beautiful and proper. “I find,” says he, " that my complaint is disregarded here; that man has no compassion for me; and that God in his unsearchable wisdom suffers the innocent as well as the guilty to be unfortunate in this life: but the time will come when my plea shall be heard ; and so satisfied am I in the righteousness of it, that I would have it remain as my monument for ever, 'graven in the rock;'

for though I myself shall soon be gone, yet my Redeemer, lives, and will at the last day call me from the grave, and with my own eyes shall I see God my Saviour.” But if you suppose Job to expect only a temporal restitution, within the compass of his own life, to what end or purpose does he so passionately wish to have his complaints rendered immortal? What sense is there in saying; “Oh that my complaint which you despise may never be forgotten, for I know that within a little time I shall be restored by God to all my glory and former felicity, and shall have no cause to complain any more.”

In one view the images are lively and passionate, and the sentiment just and proper; in the other there is neither force nor vigor, nor propriety; nor indeed hardly any sense.

As to the degree of light and knowlege contained in this passage, and which seems disproportionate to the age of Job, there is this to be said : there might possibly be among the few faithful in the world a traditionary exposition of the promises of God, grounded on more express revelations, made either before or soon after the flood, than have come down to our times; or as Job was tried in a very extraordinary manner, he might have as extraordinary a degree of light to support and maintain him in the conflict. There is nothing in either of these suppositions but what is conformable to the methods of divine Providence; nothing that intrenches on our blessed Lord's office, who was appointed to bring life and immortality to light through the gospel.' It is by Christ, and by him alone, that we have God's covenant of immortality conveyed to us; but yet the ancient prophets had a sight of the blessing at a distance, as is evident from many of their predictions.* And why might not Job be so honored as well as others who lived before the days of our Saviour ?

But still there is something that seems very unaccountable in this matter; for if Job's friends allowed and believed this great truth of a future resurrection, how is it that they continue to press their argument, and to insist that he was undoubtedly wicked, because miserable? How is it that they

*

* See Dr. Clark's Discourse concerning the Connexion of the Prophets, &c. p. 12. 13.

do not reply to this argument, and show the reasoning to be false, if they apprehended it to be so? Or if this knowlege was peculiar to Job, how is it that they are not surprised at such new, such strange doctrine ? And yet no such marks have been observed (as far as I have seen) by any interpreters. The book of Job is in the nature of a drama, in which several persons appear discoursing one with another; and how could such a material assertion as this pass unobserved by all the speakers ? One would imagine from such conduct that Job's friends understood him to speak only of his hope in this life, which they might entertain as a vain delusion, and deserving no regard.

But I am persuaded the case will appear otherwise on a strict examination, and that the circumstances relating to this passage, duly observed, will cast a great light on it, and be a means to open to us the true and genuine meaning of it.

The argument between Job and his friends turns on this point, whether the affictions of this world are certain marks of God's displeasure, and an indication of the wickedness of those who suffer ? Job's friends maintain the affirmative, and in consequence of it charge Job with great iniquity, for no other reason but because they saw him greatly miserable. This they thought was doing honor to the justice of God; but Job calls it 'speaking wickedly for God, and talking deceitfully for him; and accepting the person of God, chap. xiii.; as corrupt judges accept the persons of great men when they give sentence partially in their favor. As to himself, he resolutely maintained his innocence; but still he depended on the justice and goodness of God notwithstanding his present distress. His character cannot be better described than in his own words :

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him :' chap. xiii., ver. 15. It is plain from hence that Job's friends confined the exercise of God's justice within the scene of this world, and looked no farther ; but he, vexed with continual reproaches, applies himself to God in certain expectation of another time for justice : • Oh that thou wouldst hide me in the grave, that thou wouldst keep me secret until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldst appoint me a set time, and remember me!! chap. xiv. 13.

« EdellinenJatka »