COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF JOB

by
Thomas Aquinas

translated by
Brian Mulladay
www.opwest.org/Archive/2002/Book_of_Job/tajob.html

edited and html-formated by Joseph Kenny, O.P.
CONTENTS

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER ONE: THE FIRST TRIAL

The First Lesson: Introduction
The Second Lesson: Satan's Request
The Third Lesson: The Trial
The Fourth Lecture: Job's Submission

CHAPTER TWO — THE SECOND TRIAL

The First Lesson: Satan tries Job in his Flesh
The Second Lesson: Job Humbled

CHAPTER THREE — JOB'S LAMENT

The First Lesson: Job Curses His Life
Second Lesson: Job Would Rest in Peace with the Dead
Third Lesson: Like The Unhappy

CHAPTER FOUR: THE DISCOURSE OF ELIPHAZ

First Lesson: On The Impatience of Job
The Second Lesson: Job and His Family Justly Punished
The Third Lesson: the Nocturnal Vision of Eliphaz

CHAPTER FIVE: THE DISCOURSE OF ELIPHAZ CONTINUES

The First Lesson: Only the Blameworthy are Punished
The Second Lesson: Providence Governs the World
The Third Lesson God will pardon Job if he recognizes his Sin

CHAPTER SIX: THE DISCOURSE OF JOB

The First Lesson Job is Wounded by God and Desires not to Exist
The Second Lesson: Job Feels Betrayed by his Friends

CHAPTER SEVEN: THE HUMAN CONDITION

The First Lesson: Life is Combat and Drudgery
The Second Lesson: The Pains of Life
The Third Lesson: Job Laments his Terrible Destiny
The Fourth Lesson: The Prayer of Job

CHAPTER EIGHT THE DISCOURSE OF BILDAD: THE ALLEGORY OF THE RUSH

The First Lesson: God is Just
The Second Lesson: God's Justice is Traditional Doctrine

CHAPTER NINE: THE PROBLEM OF EVIL (THE FIRST APPROACH)

The First Lesson: God is Almighty
The Second Lesson: God is Infinitely Wise
The Third Lesson: Job Cannot Struggle against God
The Fourth Lesson: The Cruel Lot of the Just and the Wicked

CHAPTER TEN: THE SPECIAL PROBLEM OF THE SUFFERING OF THE JUST

The First Lesson: Job Returns to Himself: The Creator does not deny His Creature
The Second Lesson: Is Job Blameworthy?
The Third Lesson: Job Desires a Respite

CHAPTER ELEVEN: LAW AND DIVINE TRANSCENDENCE

The First Lesson: The Infinite Grandeur of God
The Second Lesson: The Great Infinity of God

CHAPTER TWELVE: WHAT EXPERIENCE TEACHES US ABOUT GOD

The First Lesson: God Aids the Humble
The Second Lesson: God rules Everything

CHAPTER THIRTEEN PROSPERITY AND ADVERSITY

The First Lesson: The Perversity of the Friends of Job
The Second Lesson: Job asks God what Grievances He has against Him

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: TRUE RETRIBUTION

The First Lesson: Wonder about Divine Care
The Second Lesson: The Hope for Another Life
The Third Lesson: The Strength of the Tree and the Weakness of Man
The Fourth Lesson: Waiting for Darkness and Hope of Resurrection
The Fifth Lesson: One cannot return from Sheol

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: NEW CONDEMNATION OF JOB

The First Lesson: Job's Pride and Presumption
The Second Lesson: Divine Punishment is Inevitable
The Third Lesson: The Unhappy Finish of the Wicked

CHAPTER SIXTEEN: THE ANSWER OF JOB TO ELIPHAZ

The First Lesson: Job again describes his Trials
The Second Lesson: The Promises of His Friends are Vain

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: JOB COUNTS ON GOD'S FRIENDSHIP

The First Lesson: Job call on God
The Second Lesson: Job Ridicules his Friends

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: THE INEXORABLE FATE OF THE WICKED

The First Lesson: The Response of Baldath
The Second Lesson: The Pains of the Sinner

CHAPTER NINETEEN: JOB ANSWERS BALDATH

The First Lesson: A New Description of his Misfortune
The Second Lesson: Job's Great Profession of Faith: His Redeemer Lives

CHAPTER TWENTY: SOPHAR'S ANSWER: THERE IS A FUTURE LIFE, BUT ALSO SANCTIONS ON EARTH

The First Lesson: The Success of the Sinner is Short-lived
The Second Lesson: The Punishment of the Wicked

CHAPTER TWENTY ONE: THE SECOND ANSWER OF JOB TO SOPHAR

The First Lesson: The Prosperity of the Wicked is a Fact
The Second Lesson: Job Strengthens his Opinion

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO: THE THIRD DISCOURSE OF ELIPHAZ

The First Lesson: Job is Presumptuous
The Second Lesson: The Justice of God Triumphs

CHAPTER TWENTY THREE: THE DISCOURSE OF JOB

The Lesson: Job Appeals to the Judgment of God

CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR: JOB CONTINUES

The Lesson: The Reconciliation of Evil with the Power and the Wisdom of God

CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE: THE SHORT ANSWER OF BALDATH

The Lesson:

CHAPTER TWENTY SIX: THE LAST RESPONSE OF JOB

CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN: JOB CONTINUES HIS ANSWER

The Lesson: The Prosperity of Evildoers is not against Divine Providence

CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT: JOB CONTINUES HIS DISCOURSE-IN PRAISE OF WISDOM

The First Lesson: Wisdom is not in a Determined Place
The Second Lesson: Where Wisdom is Found

CHAPTER TWENTY NINE: JOB CONTINUES RECALLING THE PAST

The Lesson: The Happy Days of Job

CHAPTER THIRTY: THE DISCOURSE OF JOB CONTINUES

The Lesson: His Present Distress

CHAPTER THIRTY ONE: JOB SEEKS JUSTICE

The First Lesson: Job is Chaste, Just and Good
The Second Lesson: Job concludes his Defense

CHAPTER THIRTY TWO: THE DISCOURSE OF ELIUD

The Lesson: Introductory Remarks

CHAPTER THIRTY THREE: ELIUD EXHORTS JOB TO REPENTANCE

The First Lesson: What Job should Confess
The Second Lesson: God teaches Men in many Ways

CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR: DISCOURSE ON DIVINE JUSTICE

The First Lesson: God is Just to the Individual
The Second Lesson: God punishes the People

CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE: ELIUD CONTINUES HIS DISCOURSE

The Lesson: Man's Deeds are not Indifferent to God

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX: GOD ALONE IS JUST

The First Lesson: The True Meaning of the Sufferings of Job
The Second Lesson: Hymn to the Almighty

CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN: HYMN TO YAHWEH

The First Lesson: The Wisdom of the Almighty
The Second Lesson: Eliud Completes his Praise of God

CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT: GOD RESOLVES THE QUESTION

The First Lesson: What Can Man Understand?
The Second Lesson: God's Marvels on Earth, in the Sea and the Air
The Third Lesson: The Marvels of the Animal Kingdom

CHAPTER THIRTY NINE: GOD CONTINUES HIS DISCOURSE

The Lesson: The Marvels of the Animal Kingdom

CHAPTER FORTY: THE COMMAND OF GOD OVER THE POWERS OF EVIL

The First Lesson: God Strengthens Job in his Weakness
The Second Lesson: Behemoth or the Elephant as a Metaphor for the Devil
The Third Lesson: Leviathan as a Metaphor for the Devil

CHAPTER FORTY ONE: THE GREAT POWER OF SATAN

The First Lesson: God can not be Reproached
The Second Lesson: How Satan acts in Sinners

CHAPTER FORTY TWO: JOB'S REPENTANCE

EPILOGUE


PROLOGUE

Just as things which are generated naturally reach perfection from imperfection by small degrees, so it is with men in their knowledge of the truth. For in the beginning they attained a very limited understanding of the truth, but later they gradually came to know the truth in fuller measure. Because of this many erred in the beginning about the truth from an imperfect knowledge. Among these, there were some who excluded divine providence and attributed everything to fortune and to chance. Indeed the opinion of these first men was not correct because they held that the world was made by chance. This is evident from the position of the ancient natural philosophers who admitted only the material cause. Even some later men like Democritus and Empedocles attributed things to chance in most things. But by a more profound diligence in their contemplation of the truth later philosophers showed by evident proofs and reasons that natural things are set in motion by providence. For such a sure course in the motion of the heavens and the stars and other effects of nature would not be found unless all these things were governed and ordered by some intellect transcending the things ordered.

Therefore after the majority of men asserted the opinion that natural things did not happen by chance but by providence because of the order which clearly appears in them, a doubt emerged among most men about the acts of man as to whether human affairs evolved by chance or were governed by some kind of providence or a higher ordering. This doubt was fed especially because there is no sure order apparent in human events. For good things do not always befall the good nor evil things the wicked. On the other hand, evil things do not always befall the good nor good things the wicked, but good and evil indifferently befall both the good and the wicked. This fact then especially moved the hearts of men to hold the opinion that human affairs are not governed by divine providence. Some said that human affairs proceed by chance except to the extent that they are ruled by human providence and counsel, others attributed their outcome to a fatalism ruled by the heavens.

This idea causes a great deal of harm to mankind. For if divine providence is denied, no reverence or true fear of God will remain among men. Each man can weigh well how great will be the propensity for vice and the lack of desire for virtue which follows from this idea. For nothing so calls men back from evil things and induces them to good so much as the fear and love of God. For this reason the first and foremost aim of those who had pursued wisdom inspired by the spirit of God for the instruction of others was to remove this opinion from the hearts of men. So after the promulgation of the Law and the Prophets, the Book of Job occupies first place in the order of Holy Scripture, the books composed by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit for the instruction of men. The whole intention of this book is directed to this: to show that human affairs are ruled by divine providence using probable arguments.

The methodology used in this book is to demonstrate this proposition from the supposition that natural things are governed by divine providence. The affliction of just men is what seems especially to impugn divine providence in human affairs. For although it seems irrational and contrary to providence at first glance that good things sometimes happen to evil men, nevertheless this can be excused in one way or another by divine compassion. But that the just are afflicted without cause seems to undermine totally the foundation of providence. Thus the varied and grave afflictions of a specific just man called Job, perfect in every virtue, are proposed as a kind of theme for the question intended for discussion.

But there were some who held that Job was not someone who was in the nature of things, but that this was a parable made up to serve as a kind of theme to dispute providence, as men frequently invent cases to serve as a model for debate. Although it does not matter much for the intention of the book whether or not such is the case, still it makes a differnce for the truth itself. This aforementioned opinion seems to contradict the authority of Scripture. In Ezechiel, the Lord is represented as saying, “If there were three just men in our midst, Noah, Daniel, and Job, these would free your souls by their justice.” (Ez. 14:14) Clearly Noah and Daniel really were men in the nature of things and so there should be no doubt about Job who is the third man numbered with them. Also, James says, “Behold, we bless those who persevered. You have heard of the suffering of Job and you have seen the intention of the Lord.” (James 5:11) Therefore one must believe that the man Job was a man in the nature of things.

However, as to the epoch in which he lived, who his parents were or even who the author of the book was, that is whether Job wrote about himself as if speaking about another person, or whether someone else reported these things about him is not the present intention of this discussion. With trust in God’s aid, I intend to explain this book entitled the Book of Job briefly as far as I am able according to the literal sense. The mystical sense has been explained for us both accurately and eloquently by the blessed Pope Gregory so that nothing further need be added to this sort of commentary.

 

CHAPTER ONE: THE FIRST TRIAL

The First Lesson: Introduction

1. There was a man in the Land of Hus whose name was Job. He was a man without guile and upright, and he feared God and turned away from evil. 2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3 His property was seven thousand sheep and three thousand camels; five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred she-asses and a great number of servants. So this man was accounted great among all the peoples of the East. 4 His sons used to go and hold banquets in each other’s houses, each one on his appointed day. And they would send and invite their sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send for them and purify them; and rising at dawn, he offered burnt holocausts for each one. For Job said,: It may be that my sons have sinned and blessed God in their hearts. Job did this every day.

As was said [in the Prologue], because the whole intention of this book is ordered to showing how human affairs are ruled by divine providence, and a kind of history is put first in which the numerous sufferings of a certain just man are related as the foundation of the whole debate. For it is affliction like this which seems most of all to exclude divine providence from human affairs. First, therefore, the person of this man is described as to his sex when the text says, “There was a man.” This sex is found stronger in suffering troubles. He is also described as to his land of origin when the text continues, “in the land of Hus,” which is situated in the East. His name is given next, “whose name was Job.” These two things seem to have been put in the text to suggest that this is not a parable but recounts a real deed.

His virtue is then described and in this he is shown to be free from sin, lest anyone think that the adversities which are set down in the account afterwards happened to him because of his sins. One should that a man sins in three ways. There are certain sins in which he sins against neighbor, like murder, adultery, theft and the like. There are certain sins in which he sins against God like perjury, sacrilege, blasphemy and the like. There are sins in which he sins against himself, as St. Paul says in I Cor., “He who fornicates, sins against his own body.” (6:18) One sins against his neighbor in two ways, either secretly by fraud or in openly by violence. But this man did not deceive his neighbor by fraud, for the text says, “He was without guile (simplex).” Being without guile (simplex) is properly opposed to fraud. Nor did he render violence against anyone, for the text continues, “and upright.” For uprightness properly belongs to justice, which consists in the mean between good and evil, as Isaiah says, “The way of the just is upright; you make straight the path the righteous walk.” (26:7) The text clearly indicates that he did not sin against God openly when it continues, “and he feared God,” which designates to his reverence for God. The fact that he also did not sin against himself is shown when the text puts, “and turned away from evil,” because he regarded evil with hatred for his own sake, not only for the sake of the harm of his neighbor or the offense of God.

When both the person and the virtue of this man have been described then his prosperity is shown so that the adversity which follows may be judged to be more grave because of the prosperity which precedes it. At the same time, this also demonstrates that not only spiritual goods but also temporal goods are given to the just from God’s first intention. But the fact just are sometimes afflicted with adversities happens for some special reason. Hence from the beginning, man was so established that he would not have been subject to any disturbances if he had remained in innocence. Now after the good firmly held in one’s own person, an element of temporal prosperity consists in the persons who are kin to a man and especially in the children born to him, who are in a certain sense a part of their parents. Therefore, Job’s prosperity is first described in terms of the fertility of his children when the text says, “There were born to him seven sons and three daughters.” The number of the men is fittingly greater than the number of women because parents usually have more affection for sons than for daughters. This is both because what is more perfect is more desirable (men are compared to women as prefect to imperfect) and because those born males are usually of more help in managing business than those born females.

Next, Job’s prosperity is shown as to the great number of his riches especially his animals. For near the beginning of the human race, the possession of land was not as valuable as the possession of animals because of the small number of men. This was especially true in the East where even up to the present there are few inhabitants in comparison with the extent of the region. Among the animals those are placed first which are especially useful for providing food and clothing for the human person, namely sheep, and so the text continues, “His property was seven thousand sheep.” Next, those animals are placed which are most useful as beasts of burden, camels. So the text adds, “and three thousand camels.” Third, those which serve for the cultivation of the fields are placed, and the text expresses this saying, “five hundred yoke of oxen.” Fourth, those animals which men use for transportation are placed, and so the text says, “and five hundred she-asses,” from which mules are bred, which the ancients used especially as mounts. All other species which serve the same purposes are classed under these four types of animals; for example, all those animals necessary for food and clothing classed under sheep and so on for the rest. Since men who have great wealth need a large number of servants to administer it, the text fittingly adds, “and a great number of servants.” Consequently his prosperity is established in terms of his honor and reputation which was known far and wide and this is what the text means saying, “So this man was accounted great among all the peoples of the East,” that is, he was honored and respected.

To praise Job even more the discipline of his house is described next, which was free from those vices which wealth usually produces. For very often great wealth in fact produces discord and so Genesis says that Abraham and Lot could not live together to avoid the quarrelling which arises from an abundance of possessions (cf. Gen.l3). Also, men who have a lot of possessions, while they love what they possess in an inordinate way, frequently use them more sparingly. As Ecclesiastes says, “There is another evil which I see under the sun, and which happens frequently among men: a man to whom God gave wealth, possessions and honor so that his soul lacks nothing he desires. Yet God does not give him power to consume it.” (6:1-2) The house of blessed Job was free from these evils, for concord, laughter and just frugality were there, which the text expresses saying, “His sons used to go and hold banquets in each other’s houses, each one on his appointed day.” This charity and concord existed not only among the brothers, but extended even to the sisters who often are despised by their brothers because of the pride which wealth generally produces, so the text adds, “And they would send and invite their sisters to eat and drink with them.” At the same time, the text also shows in this the confidence which Job had about the chastity of his daughters, for otherwise they would not have been allowed to go about in public, but would have been kept at home as Sirach wisely says, “Do not forget to keep a firm watch on your daughter lest she herself when she found the opportunity.” (26:13)

Just as frugality and concord flourished in the Job’s house, so a holy solicitude for the purity which riches frequently destroy or diminish floursihed in Job himself. As Deuteronomy says, “But he waxed fat, and kicked,” and further on, “and he forsook the God who made him, etc.” (32:18) He was so sollicitous for his purity that he removed himself completely from those things which could defile it. This is shown in the text already quoted that, “He feared God and turned away from evil.” (1:1) But he was also sollicitous for the purity of his sons, even though he permitted them to have banquets as an indulgence to their age. For some things can be tolerated in young people which would be reprehensible in mature people. Because at banquets men with difficulty either can never avoid unseemly humor and inordinate speech, or they offend in their immoderate use of food, he showed a remedy of purification to his sons whom he did not keep away from these banquets and so the text says, “And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send for them and purified them.” Days of banqueting is said to run their course because since there were seven sons and each one held a banquet on his own appointed day, the feasts would use up each of the seven days of the week in turn. Afterwards like in a circle or in cycles the day returned to the beginning in the banquets just as in the days of the week. One should note, however, that although Job indulged his sons in allowing them to have feasts, yet he did not participate himself in their banquets because he preserved his maturity. So the text says, “He would send for them,” but not that he would go himself. The manner of this purification by which he sanctified them through an intermediary can be understood in two ways: he either had them instructed with beneficial warning so that if they had done anything wrong at the banquets, they would correct it, or else that they should perform some rite of expiation in which they could satisfy for these kinds of faults as there were sacrifices and the oblation of first fruits and tithes even before the Law was given.

Now, at banquets, men not only incur impurity sometimes in the ways already mentioned, but also immerse themselves in more serious sins even to holding God in contempt; when, because of moral depravity their reason is dulled and they are separated from reverence for God, as Exodus says, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play,” (32:6) that is, to fornicate and to sacrifice to idols. So Job not only assisted his sons by sanctifying them against their light faults, but he was also eager to add a remedy by which they might be pleasing to God even against their graver sins. “And rising at dawn he offered holocausts for each one.” In these words, the text shows the perfection of his devotion both as to time, because he rose at dawn as Psalm 5 says, “In the morning, I will stand before you, etc.” (v.5) and so on; and as to the manner of offering because he offered holocausts which were completely burned to the honor of God. No part of this offering remained for the use of the offerer or of the one for whom it was offered as was the case in peace offerings or sin offerings, for the burnt offering is like “something completely consumed.” As to the number of the burnt offerings, because he offered holocausts for each one of his sons, for each sin must be expiated by suitable satisfactions.

Now, the text adds the reason for the offering of the holocausts saying, “For he (Job) said,” in his heart not certain but doubtful about the sins of his sons, “It may be that my sons have sinned”, in word or deed, “and blessed (benedixerint) God in their hearts.” This can be understood in two ways. In the first way, the text may be understood as a unified whole. For although to bless God is good, yet to bless God about the fact that a man has sinned means that one’s will agrees with the sin. He is blameworthy for this, as we read in Zechariah against some men, “Feed the flocks doomed to slaughter, which they killed who took possession, they did not grieve and sold them saying: Blessed be the Lord, we have become rich.’” (11:4-5) In another way, it may be understood divided. In this way “they blessed” (benedixerint) means “they cursed” (maledixerint). For the crime of blasphemy is so horrible that pious lips dread to call it by its own proper name, and so they call it by its opposite. Holocausts are fittingly offered for the sin of blasphemy, because sins committed against God must be expiated by a mark of divine respect.

Now when divine worship is rare, men usually celebrate it more devoutly; but when it is frequent, it annoys them. This is the sin of acedia, namely when someone is saddened about spiritual work. Job was not indeed subject to this sin, for the text adds, “Job did this every day,” maintaining an almost steadfast devotion in divine worship.

The Second Lesson: Satan’s Request

6 Now on a certain day the sons of God came to assist in the presence of the Lord and Satan also was with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan: Where do you come from? Satan answered the Lord: I have prowled about the earth and I have run through it. 8 And the Lord said to him: Have you considered my servant Job, there is none like him on earth? He is a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil? 9 Then Satan answered the Lord: Does Job fear God in vain? 10 Have you not fortified him with a wall and his house and all that he has in a circle? You have blessed the work of his hands and his possessions have increased on earth. 11 But put forth your hand just a little and touch all that he has, if he does not bless you to your face. 12 And the Lord said to Satan: Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not extend your hand to him.

After Blessed Job’s prosperity has been enumerated, his adversity is placed. First, their cause is introduced. Lest anyone think that the adversities of just men happen apart from divine providence and that because of this might think human affairs are not subject to divine providence, he first explains how God has care of human affairs and governs them. This is set forth in symbol and allegory according to the usual practice of Holy Scripture, which describes spiritual things using the images of corporeal things, as is clear in Isaiah, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a high and lofty throne,” (6:1), in the beginning of Ezechiel and in many other places. Now, even though spiritual things are conceived using the images of corporeal things, nevertheless what the author intends to reveal about spiritual things through sensible images do not pertain to the mystical sense, but to the literal sense because the literal sense is what is first intended by the words whether properly speaking or figuratively.

But one should know that divine providence governs things with such an order that lower things are ordered through higher things. For bodies which are generated and corrupted are subject to the motion of the heavenly bodies and in the same way lower reasoning spirits united to mortal bodies, namely, souls are directed through higher incorporeal spirits. The tradition of the church teaches that among incorporeal spirits some are good ones, who guarding the purity in which they were created, enjoy divine glory and never turn from the will of God. These spirits are sometimes called angels, i.e.messengers in the Scriptures because they announce divine things to men. Sometimes they are called sons of God in as much as they are made like to God by participation in his glory. But there are also some spirits which are evil but not by nature or creation, because God is the author of the nature of each and the supreme good cannot be the cause of anything but good things, but these spirits are evil through their own fault. Spirits of this kind are called demons in the Scriptures, and their leader is called the devil, as though he fell from on high (deorsum cadens). He is also called Satan, which means adversary. Therefore both kinds of spirits move men to do things; the good to good deeds, the evil to wicked deeds. Just as men are moved by God through these spirits mentioned above, so too those things which are done by men are said in the Scriptures to be referred to divine consideration by the mediation of the same spirits. Thus to show that both the good and evil things which men do are subject to divine judgment, the text continues, “Now on a certain day when the sons of God came to assist in the presence of the Lord, Satan also was among them.”

One should know that the angels who are called here “sons of God” are said to assist in the presence of the Lord in two ways: In the first way in as much as God is seen by them as Daniel says, “A thousand thousands ministered before him and ten thousand thousands assisted in his presence” (7:10); in another way in as much as the angels themselves and their acts are seen by God. for those who “assist in the presence of a Lord” both see him and are seen by him. Therefore in the first way it only befits those angels to assist in God’s presence who are the blessed ones enjoying the divine vision. Nor is this fitting for all of these but only for those who exist among the higher angels, who enjoy the divine vision more intimately and do not go forth according to the opinion of Dionysius to perform exterior ministries. For this reason, the angels assisting in the presence of God are distinguished from the ministering angels in the text of Daniel already cited. In the second way, however, it is fitting not only for the good angels, but also the wicked ones and even men to assist in the presence of God, because whatever is done by them is subject to the divine gaze and examination. Because of this the text says next, “when the sons of God came to assist in the presence of the Lord, and Satan also was among them.” Although those things which are in the care of the good and the bad angels are continually subject to the divine sight and examination, and so the sons of God always come to assist in the presence of God and Satan is among them, nevertheless the text says, “on a certain day” according to the usage of Scripture which sometimes designates things above time through things which are in time. For example, at the beginning of the book of Genesis, God is said to have spoken some things on the first or the second day even though his act of speaking is eternal, because what is said by him happened in time. So now, since the deed about which the author now treats took place in a determined time, those who do this deed are said assist in the presence of God on a certain day even though they never cease assisting in the presence of God.

One should also consider that those things which are done through good angels are referred to the judgment of God in a different way than those things which are done by the wicked angels. For the good angels intend that the things which they do be referred to God. So the text says that the sons of God “came to assist in the presence of the Lord,” as if by their own movement and intention they subjected everything to the divine judgment. But, the wicked angels, however, do not intend that the things which they do are referred to God, but the fact that whatever they do is subject to divine judgment happens against their will. Therefore, the text does not say that Satan came to assist in the presence of the Lord, but only that, “Satan was among them.” He is said to be “among them” both because of the equality of their nature and also to convey indirectly that evil things are not done from a principal intention [of God’s] but comes upon good men almost by accident.

There is a difference then between the things which are done through the good angels and the wicked angels. For the good angels do nothing unless they are moved to do it by the divine command and will, for in all things they follow the divine will. But, the wicked angels dissent from God in their will and so the things which they do are hostile to God as far as their intention is concerned. Because we do not usually ask about the things which we do, but only those things which happen without us, the text therefore does not say that the Lord asked anything of the sons of God but only that he questioned Satan. So the text continues, “The Lord said to Satan: Where do you come from?” Note here that the Lord does not say to him, “What are you doing?” or “Where are you?”, but “Where do you come from?” This is because those deeds themselves which are administered by the demons sometimes arise from divine will when he punishes the wicked and tries the good through them. But the intention of the demons is always evil and hostile to God and so Satan is asked, “Where do you come from?” because his intention from which the totality of his act proceeds is hostile to God’s.

One should not that to speak can be taken in two ways for sometimes it refers to the interior concept of the heart; sometimes to the term by which this kind of concept is expressed to another. In the first way, God’s act of speaking is eternal and it is nothing other than to generate the Son who is his own Word. In the second way, God speaks some things in time, yet in diverse ways according to what corresponds to those with whom he speaks. For God spoke at times with men who have corporeal senses with a corporeal sound formed in some created subject, like the voice which said at the baptism and transfiguration of Christ, “This is my beloved Son.” (Matt. 3:17; 17:5) Sometimes he has spoken through an imaginary vision as one reads so often in the Prophets. Sometimes through intellectual expression, and God should be understood to have spoken in this way with Satan insofar as he made him understand that the things which he did are seen by God.

Therefore, just as in God’s act of speaking to Satan he informs Satan of something, so Satan answering God certainly does not inform God of anything but makes Satan understand that everything which is his is open to divine scrutiny. According to this way of speaking, the text says, “Satan answered the Lord: I have prowled about the earth and I have run through it.” By the fact that the Lord says to Satan, “Where have you come from?”, God examines the devil’s intention and actions. By the fact that Satan answers, “I have prowled about the earth and I have run through it,” as though giving an account of his actions to God, both statements serve the purpose of showing that everything which Satan does is subject to divine providence. In prowling over the earth, Satan shows his craftiness in seeking out those he can deceive. With this in mind, 1 Peter says, “Your adversary the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” (5:8) This prowling about fittingly shows his craftiness as the straight way shows simple justice. For the straight (right) line is “that whose mean does not exceed the extremes.” Because therefore the action of the just does not diverge from its principle which is the will and from its intended end, straightness (rightness) is fittingly ascribed to the just. The work of the crafty, however, is to pretend one thing and to intend another. Thus what they show in their deed has its source in extremes when it agrees neither with the will nor the end. So the crafty are rightly said to prowl about and because of this Psalm ll says, “The impious are prowling about.” (v.9) One should know however that although the devil uses the study of his craftiness against everyone, good and wicked alike, the effect of his cunning takes place only in the wicked who are rightly called “the earth”. For since man is composed of spiritual nature and earthly flesh, man’s evil consists in the fact that after he has abandoned the spiritual goods to which he is ordered according to a mind endowed with reason, he clings to earthly goods which befit him according to his earthly flesh. Therefore wicked men are correctly called “earth” inasmuch as they follow earthly nature. Satan then not only prowls about but also runs through “earth” of this kind because he completes in them the effect of his malice. For the completion of his progress is designated in his running through them, just as God on the contrary is said to run through just men. So St. Paul says in 2 Cor., “I will live in them and walk along with them.” (6:16)

There can also be another interpretation of this passage. There are three states of the living. Some are above the earth, that is, in heaven, like the angels and all the blessed. Still others are on the earth like all the men living in mortal flesh. Some are under the earth like the demons and all the damned. Satan neither prowls about nor runs through the first group because there can be no malice in the citizens of heaven, as there can be no evil of nature in the heavenly bodies. He prowls about with those who are in hell, but does not run through them because he has them totally subject to his malice, so it is not necessary that he use craftiness to deceive them. However he prowls about and runs through those who are on earth because he strives to deceive them by his craftiness and to draw some of them to his malice, who are especially designated by the term “earth”, as I have already explained.

The fact that worldly men are designated by “earth” is shown clearly enough by the fact that the Lord seems to separate Job from the earth, although he is living on earth. For when Satan had said, “I have prowled about the earth and I have run through it,” the text adds, “And the Lord said to him: Have you considered my servant Job, there is none like him on the earth?” For it would seem groundless to ask whether he who asserted he had prowled about and run through the earth had considered Job, unless he understood Job his servant to be outside the earth. God clearly shows in what respect Job is separated from the earth saying, “my servant Job.” Man has been created as it were like a mean between God and earthly things, for with the mind he clings to God but with the flesh he is joined to earthly things. Besides, as every mean recedes more from one extreme the closer it approaches to the other one. So, the more man clings to God, the more removed he is from earth. To be a servant of God means to cling to God with the mind, for it is characteristic of a servant to not be his own cause. The one who clings to God in his mind, orders himself to God as a servant of love and not of fear.

Note that earthly affections in some remote sense imitate spiritual affections by which the mind is joined to God, but they can in no way complete their similarity. This is because earthly love and consequently all affection falls short of the love of God, because love is the principle of every affection. So after God fittingly said, “Have you considered my servant Job,” he continues, “there is none like him on earth,” because nothing among earthly things can equal spiritual things. However, this passage can be understood also in another way, for in each saint, there is some preeminent virtue for some special use. This is why the we sing in Church for each one of the Confessors that, “There is found none like him who kept the law of the Most High,” except for Christ because everything existed in him in the most perfect and excellent way. In this way the text can be understood to mean that no one of those living on earth was like Job in that he excelled in some special use of virtue. In the next verse, the text shows in what Job was a servant of God and that there was no one like him on earth when it adds, “He is a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”, which will not be dealt with here because it has been already commented on.

Consider that God not only orders the lives of the just for their own good, but he represents it for others to see. Still those who see this example are not all influenced by it in the same way. For the good who consider the life of the just as an example profit from the experience; whereas the wicked, if they are not corrected so that they become good by his example, revolt against the life of the just which they have observed, either when they are either tortured by envy or they try to ruin that life with false judgments, as the Apostle Paul shows in 2 Cor., “For we are the good odor of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one the stench of death to death; to the other the smell of life to life.” (2:15) Thus God wants the life of the saints to be considered not only by the elect for the progress of their salvation, but also by the iniquitous for the increase of their damnation, for from the life of the saints the perversity of the impious is shown to be blameworthy as Wisdom says, “The just man who has died condemns the impious who are alive.” (4:16) Therefore the Lord says to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, etc.”, as if to say: You prowl about and run through the earth, but you can consider by servant Job and wonder at his virtue.

Perverse men, whose prince is Satan who here acts in their place, usually accuse holy men unjustly of not acting for a right intention because they cannot find fault with the life of the saints. Scripture expresses this saying, “Turning good to evil, he lies in ambush and he will put the blame on the elect.” (Sir. 11:33) This appears in what follows in the text, “Then Satan answered the Lord: Does Job fear God in vain?” as if to say: I cannot deny that he does good things, but he does not do them for a right intention because of love of you and the good for its own sake. Rather he does them because of the temporal goods which he has attained from you. So he says, “Does Job fear God in vain?” for we are said to do something in vain when we cannot hope to attain what we intend. Job serves you because of the temporal goods he has gained from you, so it is not in vain that he fears you in serving you.

Satan shows that Job has attained temporal prosperity in two ways. First, as to his immunity from evils, because he has been preserved by God from all adversity and this is what he says, “Have you not fortified with a wall?” that is, have you not protected him like a hedge or wall protects, and “him” as to his person, “his house” as to his family and children; “all that he has,” as to all his possessions. Satan adds, “in a circle” to show a perfect immunity because what is entirely surrounded by a wall in a circle cannot suffer an attack from any direction. Second, he shows his prosperity regarding the multiplication of goods and this is what he says, “You have blessed the work of his hands.” Because God makes all things by his speaking, the blessing of God gives goodness to things. Thus God blesses someone’s works when he brings them to good to attain a fitting end. Because some goods come to a man without his effort and intention, he adds, “and his possessions have increased on the earth.” So Satan unjustly deprecates the deeds of blessed Job as though he did them from the intention of earthly goodness. So it is clear that the good things which we do are not referred to earthly prosperity as a reward; otherwise, it would not be a perverse intention if someone were to serve God because of temporal prosperity. The contrary is likewise true. Temporal adversity is not the proper punishment of sins, and this question will be the theme dealt with in the entire book.

Satan wants to show that Job had served God because of the earthly prosperity he had attained using an argument based on opposition. For if after earthly prosperity comes to an end Job ceased fearing God, it would become clear that he feared God because of the earthly prosperity he was enjoying. So he adds, “Put forth your hand just a little and touch all that he has,” by taking it away, “If he does not bless (benedixerit) you to your face,” i.e. curse you openly (literally, “may misfortune come upon me.”) Note that even the hearts of truly just men are sometimes badly shaken by great adversity, but the deceitfully just are disturbed by a slight adversity like men having no root in their virtue. So Satan wants to insinuate that Job was not truly just but only pretending to be. Thus he says that if he should be touched by even a very small adversity, he would murmur against God, that is blaspheme him. He distinctly says, “If he does not you to your face,” to indicate that even in prosperity he was blaspheming God in a certain sense in his heart when he preferred temporal things to love of him. But when his prosperity is taken away, he would blaspheme God even to his face, i.e. openly. The expression, “If he does not bless (benedixerit) you to your face,” can be understood in another way, so that may be taken as a blessing properly speaking and the sense would be this: If you should touch him even a little by taking away his earthly prosperity, may these things befall me if it does not become clear that before he blessed you not in his true heart, but to your face, that is keeping up appearances before men.

Because, as I have said, God wills the virtue of the saints to be known to all, both the just and the wicked, it pleased him that as all saw Job’s good deeds of Job that his right intention should also be clearly shown to all. So he willed to deprive Job of his earthly prosperity, so that when he persevered in the fear of God, it would become clear that he feared God from a right intention and not on account of temporal things. Note that God punishes wicked men through both the good and the wicked angels, but he never sends adversity on good men except through wicked angels. So he did not will that adversity be brought on blessed Job except through Satan, and because of this the text continues, “And the Lord said to Satan: Behold, all that he has is in your power,” that is, I surrender it to your power, “only do not extend your hand to him.” From this text we are clearly given to understand that Satan cannot harm just men as much as he wants, but only as much as he is permitted to do so. Consider also that the Lord did not command Satan to strike Job, but only gave him the power to do so, because, “The will to do harm is in each wicked person from himself, but the power of harming comes from God.”

From what has been said already it is clear that the cause of the adversity of blessed Job was that his virtue should be made clear to all. So Scripture says of Tobias, “Thus the Lord permitted him to be tempted so that an example might be given to posterity of his patience, like blessed Job.” (Tob. 2:12) Be careful not to believe that the Lord had been persuaded by the words of Satan to permit Job to be afflicted, but he ordered this from his eternal disposition to make clear Job’s virtue against the false accusations of the impious. Therefore, false accusations are placed first and the divine permission follows.

The Third Lesson: The Trial

12 So Satan went forth from the face of the Lord. 13 Now on a certain day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine, they were in their eldest brother’s house; 14 a messenger came to Job and said: The oxen were plowing and the asses feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took everything. They slew the servants with the sword and I alone have escaped to tell you. 16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said: The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants consuming them. I alone escaped to tell you. 17 While he was still speaking, there another messenger came and said: The Chaldeans formed three companies and made a raid on the camels and took them and slew the servants with the sword; and I alone escaped to tell you. 18 While he was still speaking, another messenger entered and said: Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, 19 and a violent wind suddenly rushed in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It fell on your children and they are dead and I alone escaped to tell you.

After the cause of the blessed Job’s adversity has been considered, the text shows as a consequence how such adversity came upon him. Because all the adversity was produced by Satan, the text therefore speaks about him first saying, “So Satan went forth from the face of the Lord,” as if to use the power permitted to him. It is expressly stated, “He went forth from the face of the Lord,” for Satan is in the presence of the face of the Lord in that the power of harming someone is permitted him because this happens according to the reasonable will of God but when he uses this power permitted to him, he goes forth from the face of the Lord, because he turns away from the intention of the one giving him permission. This is apparent in the case in question: for he was permitted by God to harm Job to make Job’s virtue clearly known. However, Satan did not inflict him for this reason, but to provoke him to impatience and blasphemy.

At the same time, what we said above appears clearly true in this text. Satan came to present himself among the sons of God assisting in his presence in the sense that some are said to assist in the presence of God who are subject to divine judgment and examination, not in the sense that they assist in the presence of God who see God. So here the text does not say Satan cast God away from his face, but that,” he went forth from the presence of God,” as though he turned away from the intention of his providence, although he was not strong enough to escape the order of providence.

Reflect that the order in which the adversities are about to be explained is just the opposite of the order in which the prosperity was explained. For the prosperity which was explained proceeded from the more important to the less important beginning from the person of Job himself. After him came his offspring and then his animals, first the sheep and then the rest. This was done reasonably because the duration which cannot be preserved in the person is sought in the offspring for whose sustenance one needs possessions. In the adversity however, the opposite order is proposed. First, the loss of possessions is related, then the destruction of the children and third the affliction of his own person. This is to increase the adversity. For one who has been oppressed by a greater adversity does not feel a lesser one. But after a lesser adversity, one feels a greater one. Therefore, so Job would feel his own individual affliction from each adversity and so be disturbed to become more impatience, Satan began to afflict Job with a small adversity and gradually proceeded to greater ones.

Consider also that the soul of man is more disturbed by those things which come on the scene suddenly for adversities which are foreseen are more easily tolerated. Therefore to make Job more disturbed, Satan brought adversity on him at a time of the greatest rejoicing, when he could at least think about adversity, so that the adversity might seem more severe from the very presence of the rejoicing. For “when things which are contraries are placed beside each other, they become clearer in their contrast.” Therefore, the text says, “on a certain day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine,” which is especially put here to indicate rejoicing because according to Sirach, “Wine was created from the beginning for rejoicing, not for drunkenness.” (31:35) “They were in their eldest brother’s house,” which is placed to show greater solemnity. For it is probable that a more solemn banquet would be celebrated in the home of the first born. “A messenger came to Job and said: The oxen were plowing,” which would remind him of profit, and so the damage would seem more unbearable. “And the asses feeding beside them,” which is also put in to increase pain when he considered that the enemy fell upon them at a time in which they could steal more things at once. “And the Sabeans fell upon them,” namely an enemy who came from far away from whom the things which they stole could not easily be retrieved. “And took everything”, lest if they left something it would at least be sufficient for necessary use or breeding. “They slew the servants with the sword,” which was more grave for the just man. “I alone escaped to tell you,” as if to say: the fact that I alone escaped happened by divine disposition so that you could have an account of such a great loss as though God meant to afflict you with pain.

Immediately after the announcement of this adversity, another one is announced, lest it some interval happened meanwhile, Job would recover his composure and prepare himself in patience to sustain what followed more easily. Because of this, the text adds, “While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said: The fire of God,” that is, send by God, “fell from heaven,” as if to impress on his mind that he was suffering persecution not only from men, but also from God, and thus he might more easily be provoked against God. “And burned up the sheep and the servants, consuming them,” as if to say: this was divinely caused so that everything was immediately consumed at the touch of the fire. This is beyond the natural power of fire. “And I alone escaped to tell you.” The text continues, “While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said: The Chaldeans” (who were fierce and powerful) “formed three companies” to emphasize how strong they were, so that he cannot hope for revenge or recovery of his lost goods. The next text shows what he lost saying, “and made a raid upon the camels and took them and slew the servants with the sword. I alone escaped to tell you.” The destruction of his children follows. “While he was still speaking, another messenger entered and said: Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their brother’s house,” so that because of this, their death would be more sad for Job, since he would be uncertain whether they were in a state of sin preceding their death. For he used to sanctify them and offer holocausts for each one for this reason because he was afraid that they had incurred some sin during their banquets. Lest he could perhaps think that they had repented or provided for their souls, the text adds, “a violent wind suddenly rushed in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house.” This is said to show the force of the wind which unusually destroyed the whole house at once, which shows the wind proceeded by divine will and so Job would be moved more easily against God when he was afflicted by one whom he had served with a devout mind. To compound his sorrow more greatly, the damage of the destruction of his children is added, when the text says, “It fell and crushed the young people and they are dead,” namely, all of them so that no hope of posterity would remain in the escape of even one of his children. This was believed to be more sorrowful because although all the children were destroyed, one of the servants escaped to increase his pain, for there follows, “and I alone escaped to tell you.”

Consider that since all this aforementioned adversity comes from Satan, it is necessary to confess that with God’s permission demons can bring about turbulence in the air, can stir up the winds and can make fire fall from heaven. For although corporeal matter obeys only the nod of God the Creator for the reception of forms, and does not obey the nod of either the good or the wicked angels, corporeal nature is still born to obey spiritual nature as far as local movement is concerned. Evidence of this appears in men, for the members of the body are moved at the mere command of the will to pursue the act desired by the will. Whatever then can be done only with local motion, can be done by not only the good but also the wicked angels from their natural power, unless prohibited by divine power. The winds the rains and other like disturbances in the atmosphere come about only from the motion of the vapors released from the earth and the water. Thus the natural power of a demon is sufficient to procure these things. However, sometimes they are prohibited from this by divine power so that they are not permitted to do everything which they can do naturally. Nor is this contrary to what is said in Jeremiah, “Are there any among the false gods of the nations which can give rain?” (14:22) For it is one thing that the rain takes place by natural cause and this is the office of God alone who orders natural causes to this; it is another thing to use artificially those natural causes ordered by God to rain to produce rain or wind sometimes in an almost extraordinary way.

The Fourth Lecture: Job’s Submission

20 Then Job arose and rent his robe; he shaved his head and he fell on the ground and worshipped. 21 He said: Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there; The Lord gave; the Lord has taken away. As God pleased, so it has been done. Blessed be the name of the Lord! In all these things, Job did not sin with his lips, nor did he say anything foolish against God.

After the adversity of blessed Job has been narrated, the text treats the patience Job showed in adversity. As evidence of what is said here know that there was a difference of opinion among the ancients philosophers as to corporeal goods and the passions of the soul. For the Stoics said that exterior goods were not goods of man and that there could be no sorrow for their loss in the soul of the wise man. But, the opinion of the Peripatetics was that some of the goods of man are truly exterior goods, though these are certainly not the principal ones. Nevertheless, they are like instruments ordered to the principal good of man which is the good of the mind. Because of this, they conceded that the wise man is moderately sad in the losses of exterior goods, namely his reason is not so absorbed by sadness that he leaves righteousness. This opinion is the more true of the two and is in accord with the teaching of the Church as is clear from St. Augustine in his book, The City of God.

So Job followed this opinion and truly showed sorrow in adversity; yet this sadness was so moderated that it was subject to reason. The text therefore continues, “Then Job arose, and rent his robe,” which is usually an indication of sadness among men. Note however that the text says, “Then”, namely after he heard about the death of his children, so that he might seem more sad over their loss than the loss of his possessions. For it is characteristic of a hard and insensible heart to not grieve over dead friends, but it is characteristic of virtuous men to not have this grief in an immoderate way as St. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians, “But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” (4:13) This was true in the case of blessed Job and so the state of his mind appears in his exterior act. Since his reason stood upright, the text fittingly says that “Job arose” although men in grief usually prostrate themselves. For though he suffered grief, but not a grief which penetrated as far as disturbing the his interior reason, he showed a sign of his sadness in exterior actions in two ways: namely as to what is outside the nature of the body, and so the text says, “he rent his robe”; and as to those things which proceed from the nature of the body, “he shaved his head,” which among those who care for their hair, usually indicates grief. These two signs then fittingly correspond to the adversities mentioned, for the tearing of the robe corresponds to the loss of his possessions, and the cutting of the hair corresponds to the loss of his sons. Then the mind stands upright when it humbly is submitted to God. For each thing exists in a higher and more noble state to the extent that it stands firm in what perfects it more, like air when it is subject to light, and matter when it is subject to form. Therefore the fact that the mind of blessed Job was not dejected by sadness, but persisted in its righteousness, clearly shows that he humbly subjected himself to God. So the text continues, “and he fell on the ground, and worshipped,” to show evidence for his devotion and humility.

Job revealed the state of his mind not only by deeds, but also by words. For he rationally demonstrated that although he suffered sadness, he did not have to yield to sadness. First, he demonstrated from the condition of nature so the text said, “He said: Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,” namely, from the earth which is the common mother of everything, “and naked shall I return there,” i.e., to the earth. Sirach speaks in the same vein saying, “Great hardship has been created for man, and a heavy yoke lies on the sons of Adam from the day they come forth from their mother’s womb until the day they return to their burial in the mother of them all.” (40:1) This can also be interpreted in another way. The expression, “from my mother’s womb” can be literally taken as the womb of the mother who bore him. When he says next “naked I shall return there,” the term “there” establishes a simple relation. For a man cannot return a second time to the womb of his own mother, but he can return to the state which he had in the womb of his mother in a certain respect, namely in that he is removed from the company of men. In saying this he reasonably shows that a man should not be absorbed with sadness because of the loss of exterior goods, since exterior goods are not connatural to him, but come to him accidentally. This is evident since a man comes into this world without them and leaves this world without them. So when these accidental goods are taken away if the substantial ones remain man ought not to be overcome by sadness although sadness may touch him.

Second, he shows the same thing from divine action saying, “The Lord gave; the Lord has taken away.” Here his true opinion about divine providence in relation to human affairs must first be considered. When he says, “The Lord gave,” he confessed that earthly prosperity does not come to men accidentally either according to fate or the stars, or as a result of human exertion alone, but by divine direction. When he says, however, “The Lord has taken away,” he confesses also that earthly adversities also arise among men by the judgment of divine providence. This leads to the conclusion that man does not have a just complaint with God if he should be despoiled of his temporal goods, because he who gave freely could bestow them either until the end of his life or temporarily. So when he takes temporal goods away from man before the end of life, man cannot complain.

Third, he shows the same thing from the good pleasure of the divine will saying, “As God pleased, so it has been done.” For friends will and do not will the same thing. Thus if it is the good pleasure of God that someone should be despoiled of temporal goods, if he loves God, he ought to conform his will to the divine will, so that he is not absorbed by sadness in this consideration.

These three arguments are put in the proper order. For in the first argument it is posited that temporal goods are exterior to man. In the second, it is posited that they are a gift given to a man and taken away by God. In the third that this happens according to the good pleasure of the divine will. So one can conclude from the first argument that man should not be absorbed by sorrow because of the loss of temporal goods; from the second that he cannot even complain and from the third that he ought even to rejoice. For it would not please God that someone should suffer from adversity unless he wished some good to come to him from it. So though adversity is bitter in itself and generates sadness, nevertheless it should be the cause of rejoicing when one considers the use because of which it pleases God, as is said about the apostles, “The apostles went rejoicing because they had suffered contempt for Christ.” (Acts 5:41) and so on. For when taking a bitter medicine, one can rejoice with reason because of the hope for health, although he suffers sensibly. So since joy is the matter of the action of thanksgiving, therefore Job concludes this third argument with an act of thanksgiving saying, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” The name of the Lord is truly blessed by men inasmuch as they have knowledge of his goodness, namely that he distributes all things well and does nothing unjustly.

Then the text therefore concludes to the innocence of Job when it says, “In all these things, Job did not sin with his lips,” namely, he did not express a movement of impatience in word, “nor did he say something stupid against God,” i.e., blasphemy, so that he did not blaspheme concerning divine providence. For stupidity is opposed to wisdom which properly is knowledge of divine things.

 

CHAPTER TWO – THE SECOND TRIAL

The First Lesson: Satan tries Job in his Flesh

1 Again on a certain day when the sons of God came to assist in the presence of the Lord Satan also came among them and assisted in his presence. 2 The Lord said to Satan: Where do you come from? Satan said in response: I have prowled about the earth and I have run through it. 3 The Lord said to Satan: Have you considered my servant Job; there is none like him on earth? He is a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns from evil? He still holds fast his innocence although you moved me against him to afflict him in vain. 4 Then Satan answered the Lord: Skin for skin! All that man has he will give for his life. 5 But now, put forth your hand and touch his bone and his flesh and you will see that he will curse (bless) you to your face. 6 The Lord said to Satan: Behold, he is in your hand, only spare his life.

Since there are three goods of man: of soul, of body and exterior things, these goods are so ordered to each other that the body exists for the sake of the soul, but exterior things exist for the sake of both the body and the soul. Therefore, just as one has a perverse intention if he subordinate the goods of the soul to prosperity in exterior goods, so one also has a perverse intention if he should order the goods of the soul to the health of the body. Job truly abounded in the acts of the virtues which are the goods of the soul. This was clear sensibly to all and so the Lord said to Satan above “Have you considered my servant Job, etc.” [1:8] But Satan was infering calumny as though Job intentionally performed acts of the virtues for temporal goods, just as evil men, also, whose prince is Satan, perniciously judge the intention of good men. But this calumny was rejected by the fact that after the loss of exterior goods, Job remained steadfast in virtue. This sufficiently proves that his intention had not been turned aside to exterior goods. There remained then to show for perfect demonstration of Job’s virtue that his intention was not bent crooked for the health of his own body, and therefore divine judgment is invoked again to prove this. This is then what the text says, “Again on a certain day when the sons of God came to assist in the presence of the Lord, and Satan also came among them and assisted in his presence. The Lord said to Satan: Where do you come from?” Since these words have already been explained at length above, there is no need to delay over them here. Suffice it to note that because this passage recounts another action, another day is introduced here just at the beginning of Genesis different days are described according to the different kinds of things which were created. Thereupon what Satan answered under interrogation is shown when the text says, “From prowling and going about the earth.” This has the same meaning as before. [1:7]

Once again the Lord proposes the virtue of Job as something evident, and so there follows, “The Lord said to Satan: Have you considered my servant Job; there is none like him on earth? He is a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil.” Since now a certain virtue of blessed Job which was not plain before has been clearly demonstrated, namely, his constancy in adversities, he therefore now adds, “He still,” that is, after the loss of his temporal goods, “holds fast his innocence.” From this the Lord shows further that the Satan’s suspicion was calumnious and that his intention has been frustrated, and so the text next says, “although you moved me against him to afflict him in vain.” In saying, “You moved me against him,” one must not understand that God was provoked by anyone into willing something he did not will before as is often the case with men. For according to Numbers, “God is not like a man, that he should lie, nor like a son of man that he should change.” (23:19) Scripture here speaks of God figuratively acting in a human way. For when men want to do something because of someone’s influence, they are said to be excited by that other one. God however wills to do something and so he does it, this because of that. Yet he does it without any excitement of mind because he had the reason he would do it in mind from all eternity. So the Lord had arranged from all eternity to afflict Job in time to prove the truth of his virtue in order to preclude every calumny of the wicked, and so to indicate this the text says, “You moved me against him.” When the text adds, “to afflict him in vain,” this must be understood from the point of view of the intention of Satan, not from the point of view of the intention of God. For Satan in intending the adversity of Job had desired from this to lead him into impatience and blasphemy, which did not follow as an effect. God however permitted this to proclaim his virtue openly, which in fact happened. So then Job was afflicted in vain from the point of view of the intention of Satan, but not from the point of view of the intention of God.

Though repulsed, Satan does not rest, but still provides calumny wanting to show that every good which Job did, even the very fact that he had patiently tolerated his adversity, he had not done for the love of God, but for the health of his own body. So the text continues, “Then Satan answered the Lord: Skin for skin! All that man has he will give for his life.” We must reflect that Job had been afflicted in two ways: the loss of his possessions and the loss of his children. Satan therefore intends to say that Job had patiently tolerated both afflictions because of the health of his body and this was no great virtue in this, but was human and usual among men. This is what he says, “man,” as though anyone even those without virtue will easily give, “skin for skin!” that is, the flesh of another in place of his own. For a man who is not virtuous will maintain that anyone else, even those closely related to him in any way, should be afflicted in body rather than himself. For the same reason every man regardless of who he is, will give all the exterior goods he possesses “for his life,” that is, to preserve his own life. For exterior goods are sought to preserve life, like a supply of food and clothing and other such things which maintain the life of man comfortably.

Since someone could say to Satan, “How can you prove that Job bore patiently with the loss of his children and his possessions because he feared for his own skin and his own life?”, he now adds, as though in answer to this objection, “But now,” if you do not believe mere words,” put forth your hand,” i.e., exercise your power,” and touch his bone and his flesh,” i.e., afflict him in body, not only on the surface which is what to touch the flesh means, but also in its inmost part, which is what to touch the bone means, so that touch reaches to his inmost part. “And you will see,” i.e., everyone can clearly perceive, “that he will bless (curse) you to your face,” which must be interpreted as above.

Therefore the Lord willed to show that Job had not served God for the health of the body, just as he had already shown that Job did not serve him because of exterior goods, and so the text adds, “The Lord said to Satan: Behold, he is in your hand,” i.e., I commit power to you to afflict him in body, “only spare his life,” i.e., do not cannot take away life from him. For God does not totally expose his servants to the will of Satan, but according to a fitting measure, as St. Paul says in 1 Cor., “The faithful God does not suffer you to be tempted beyond what you can endure.” (10:13)

The Second Lesson: Job Humbled

7 So Satan went forth from the face of the Lord and afflicted Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his feet to the crown of his head. 8 and he scraped the bloody matter with a shard and he sat in a dungheap. 9 Then his wife said to him: Do you still hold fast to your simplicity? Bless God and die. l0 But he said to her: You have spoken like one of the foolish women speaks. If we have received good at the hand of the Lord shall we not tolerate evil? In all these things Job did not sin with his lips. 11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all the evil which had come upon him, they came, each from his own place: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuite and Sophar the Naamathite. They agreed to come together, visit him and console him. 12 When they saw him from afar, they did not recognize him and raising their voices; they wept and they rent their robes and sprinkled dust upon their heads heavenward. 13 And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him for they saw that his suffering was very great.

When Satan had received the power, he proceeds to execute it. So the text continues, “So Satan went forth from the face of the Lord and afflicted Job,” with what was truly an abominable and shameful blow. So the text says, “with sores,” which were incurable and painful, i.e. “loathsome,” entirely “from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.”

The afflictions of the sick are customarily alleviated by cures applied externally which are pleasant. But Job was not alleviated in such a way, for the text continues, “Job scraped the bloody matter with a shard.” In this the text shows that pleasant and soothing remedies are not applied to him. “And he sat in a dungheap,” in which the text shows that he did not restore himself to health in a pleasant place, or in the gentleness of straw or with some pleasant smell, but he more used their opposite. This can have happened in two ways: either because after he was struck by the Lord, he voluntarily afflicted and humiliated himself even more to more easily obtain mercy, or because he lost everything he had, and so he could not afford suitable cures for himself. This is probable enough from what the Lord said above, and it does not seem that Satan had acted except with the power given him to harm something.

In their afflictions, men customarily find solace in words of those offering consolation. But the affliction of Job was accompanied by irritating words, which were as much more provocative as the person who spoke them was more closely connected to him. The text continues, “Then his wife said to him,” for she was the only person whom the devil left untouched so that through her he who had deceived the first man through a woman might assault the mind of the just man. This woman first broke out in words of mockery, “Do you still hold fast your simplicity?” as if she said: At least after so many chastisements you should know that it was useless for you to guard simplicity. The same is said by a person like her in the prophet Malachi, “It is vain to serve God. What is the profit in keeping his commandments.” (3:14) Second, she proceeds to words of perverse suggestion saying, “Bless (i.e., Curse) God.” as if she said: From the fact that adversity came upon you when you were blessing God, curse God and you will enjoy prosperity. Lastly, she concludes in words of despair saying, “and die”, as if she said: Regard yourself as dead because nothing is left for you in remaining in simplicity except dying. Or “Bless God and die;” can be understood in another way to mean that since after so much reverence for God you have been so afflicted with adversity, if you still bless God, nothing remains, but for you to wait for death.

The holy man who had born his troubles patiently, could not bear the injury done to God, for there follows, “But he said to her: You have spoken like one of the foolish women speaks.” He rightly accuses of foolishness one speaking against the divine wisdom. He shows that she spoke foolishly when he adds, “If we received good at the hand of the Lord and shall we not tolerate evil?” In this he teaches the perfect wisdom of man, for since temporal and corporeal goods should not be loved except because of spiritual and eternal ones, when the latter are conserved as the more principal ones, man should not be dejected if he is deprived of the former nor puffed up if he has an abundance of them. Job teaches us therefore that we should have such a steadfastness of spirit that both if temporal goods are given to us by God, we should so use them that we are not puffed up in pride from them, and we would so sustain the contrary evil that our soul is not dejected from their lack. This accords with what St. Paul says in Phillipians in the last chapter, “I know how to be humbled and how to enjoy prosperity.” (4:12) and further on, “I can do all things in him who gives me comfort.” (4:13) Finally the conclusion is Job persevered in innocence when it is said, “In all these things Job did not sin with his lips.”

The devil not only strove to exasperate the mind of blessed Job through his wife, but also through his friends, who although they came to console him, yet went so far as words of rebuke. About this, the text says, “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all the evil which had come upon him, they came, each from his own place: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuite, and Sophar the Naamathite.” Because nearly the whole debate of this book occurs between these men, we must consider that these three were of the same opinion as Job in some respect and so they were called friends. In another respect they differed from him and were in agreement among themselves, and so they are numbered together with each other and are distinguished from Job. For indeed they agreed with Job that not only natural things but also human affairs were subject to divine providence, but they differed from him because they thought that man is rewarded for the good which he did with temporal prosperity by God and is punished for the evil which he does with temporal adversity by God, as though temporal goods are the rewards for virtues and temporal evils are the proper punishments of sins. Each one of there men strives to defend this opinion in his own way, as his own character suggested to him, because of this they are said to have come each from his own place.” Now Job was not of this opinion, but he believed that the good works of men are ordered to a future spiritual reward after this life, and likewise sins should be punished with future punishments.

The next verse expresses the fact that these friends just mentioned came to console Job saying, “They agreed to come to visit him together and console him.” In this they showed themselves to be true friends in not deserting him in a time of tribulation, for Sirach says, “A man’s friend is recognized in sorrow and evil.” (12:9) At first the visit itself was certainly consoling, for to see a friend and to associate with him is most delightful. They also console him by their actions, showing him signs of their compassion. What provoked these signs of compassion is now introduced. “When they saw him from afar, they did not recognize him,” for his face was changed by sores, his clothing and his refinement gone because of the loss of his possessions. The term “from afar” should be understood to mean that measure by which a man can be recognized from a distance. This change in their friend stirred them to sadness and compassion which they showed by external signs, for there follows, “and raising their voices,” out of the great depth of their sorrow, “they wept, and they rent their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads,” as a sign of humility and dejection, as though they felt themselves to be cast down by the casting down of their friend. The text adds, “heavenward” as though they might provoke the mercy of heaven by this humiliation. Consider that the compassion of friends is a consolation, either because adversity like a burden in more lightly born when it is carried by many, or even more because all sorrow is alleviated when mixed with pleasure. To have the experience of someone’s friendship is very pleasurable, which especially derives from their compassion in adversity and so offers consolation.

They consoled him not only by showing compassion to him, but also by showing their fellowship with him; for there follows, “they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights.” Nevertheless one must not understand this to mean a continuous period, but at suitable times, for great sorrow needed consolation for a long time. But they did not show him the third form which is especially consoling i.e. in words, for there follows, “and no one said a word to him.” The cause of their silence is shown when the text continues, “for they saw that his suffering was very great.” This cause is more an idea the consolers have than the state of the one afflicted. For when the mind of someone has been absorbed with pain, he does not listen to words of consolation, and so Ovid remarks, “Who but someone who has no good sense, would forbid a mother to weep at the funeral of her child?” Job however had not been so disposed that he could not accept consolation because of great sorrow. Rather, he consoled him self very much according to reason as is apparent from the words quoted above.

 

CHAPTER THREE – JOB’S LAMENT

The First Lesson: Job Curses His Life

1 After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed his day. 2 And he said: 3 Let the day perish on which I was born; the night in which it was said, ‘a man child is conceived’. 4 Let that day be darkness; may God not seek it, let in not be in recollection, nor let light shine on it. 5 Let gloom claim it; let clouds dwell upon it and let it be enveloped in bitterness. 6 Let a tempest envelop that night with a whirlwind; let it not be reckoned among the days of the year, let it not be numbered among the months. 7 Let that night be lonely, let it not be worthy of praise. 8 Let those curse it who curse the day, those who are skilled to rouse up Leviathan. 9 Let the stars be blotted out in its darkness; let it hope for light, but not see it, nor the rising dawn of the morning, 10 because it did not shut the doors of my mother’s womb, or hide trouble from my eyes.

In Chapter II I explained that there were two opinions held by ancient philosophers about the passions. The Stoics said that there was no place in the wise man for sorrow. The Peripatetics said that the wise man is indeed sad, but in sad things he conducts himself with a moderation in accord with reason. This opinion accords with the truth. For reason does not take away the condition of nature. It is natural to sensible nature to rejoice and be pleased about fitting things and grieve and feel pain about harmful things. So reason does not take away this natural disposition, but so moderates it that reason is not deflected from its right course because of sorrow. This opinion also accords with Holy Scripture which places sorrow in Christ, in whom there is every fullness of virtue and wisdom.

So, Job then indeed feels sad as a result of those adversities which he suffered described above, otherwise the virtue of patience would have no place in him. But his reason did not desert the right path because of sorrow but rather ruled the sorrow. This is proved when the text says, “After this, Job opened his mouth.” “After this” means after he had passed seven days in silence. This clearly shows that what he is going to say is said in accord with a reason which is not confused by sorrow. In fact, if they had been spoken from a mind confused by sorrow, he would have said them sooner, when the force of sorrow was more acute. For every sorrow is mitigated with the passage of time and one feels it more in the beginning. He seems to have kept silent for a long time for this reason, so that he would not be judged to have spoken from a confused mind. This is shown by the text,” He opened his mouth.” In fact, when someone speaks because of a fit of passion, he does not open his mouth himself, but he is compelled to speak by the passion. For we are not the masters of our acts done through passion, but only of those done through reason. In speaking he showed the sorrow which he suffered, he showed patience. Wise men usually express the motion of the passions which they feel in a reasonable way. So Christ said, “My soul is sorrowful unto death,” (Matt. 26:38) and St. Paul in Romans, “I do not do the good I want, but the very evil that I hate, I do.” (7:15) Also, Boethius at the beginning of the Consolation of Philosophy opens with the expression of his sadness, but he shows how to mitigate it by reason. So Job expresses his sorrow verbally.

The text continues, “and he cursed his day.” This seems to contradict what St. Paul says in Romans, “Bless and do not curse.” (12:14) Note that cursing can mean several things. For since “to curse” (maledicere) is to speak evil [malum dicere], every time one speaks evil, he is said to curse. One speaks evil of someone by speech which causes evil, as God causes evil to something in his very speech and the judge causes the punishment on another in speaking the sentence of condemnation. This is the way the Lord spoke evil or cursed in Genesis, “Cursed is the ground because of you,” (3:17) and “Cursed be Canaan, a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers.” (9:25) Joshua also cursed Achor who suffered from the condemnation. (Jos. 7:25) In another way, one may understand cursing another as invoking or desiring evil to him. For example, in I Kings, “The Philistine cursed David in his ways.” (17:43) In a third way, one may simply speak evil by disclosing it either in the present, the past, the future, truly or falsely. Paul prohibits cursing in this way when someone deprecates someone or defames his character falsely. However he does not prohibit it when a judge condemns a defendant who is guilty or when someone expresses in an ordered way the real evil of someone, either by demonstrating an act to occur in the present, or by relating something past or by predicting something in the future. So, one should understand that Job cursed his day, because he denounced it as evil, not only because of its nature, which was created by God, but according to the common usage of Holy Scripture where time is called good or evil because of what happens in that time. The Apostle Paul speaks in this way when he says, “[…] making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:16) So Job cursed his day in remembering the evils which had happened to him on that day.

The next verse explains the manner of his cursing and continues, “And Job said: Let the day perish on which I was born, and the night which said, ‘A man child is conceived.’” Note that although to exist and to live are desirable in themselves, yet to exist and to live in misery like this should be avoided, although one may freely sustain being miserable for some purpose. So a wretched life which is not ordered to some good end should not be chosen for any reason. The Lord speaks in this way in Matthew, “It would have been better for that man if he had never been born.” (26:24) Reason alone apprehends what good can be expected in some misery. The sensitive power does not perceive it. For example, the sense of taste perceives the bitterness of the medicine, but reason alone enjoys the purpose of health. If someone wanted to express the feeling of his sense of taste then he would denounce the medicine as evil, although reason would judge it to be good because of its purpose. So the blessed Job was able by his reason to perceive the misery which he suffered as certainly useful for some end. But the lower part of the soul influenced by sorrow would completely repudiate this adversity. Thus, life itself under such adversity was hateful to him. When something is hateful to us, we abhor everything by which we come to that thing. So in the inferior part of his soul, whose passion Job now intended to express, he hated both the birth and the conception by which he came into life and consequently both the day of his birth and the night of his conception according to the usage of attributing to time the good or evil which happens in that time. So therefore because Job repudiated life in adversity from the point of view of the senses, he wished that he had never been born or conceived. He expresses this saying, “Let the day perish on which I was born,” saying in effect, “Would that I had never been born!” and “the night on which it was said,” i.e. it could truly be said, “a man-child is conceived,” [that is, “Would that I had never been conceived!”] He uses a fitting order here, for if birth does not take place, this does not preclude conception, but lack of conception precludes birth. He also fittingly ascribes the conception to night and birth to day, because according to the astrologers, a birth during the day is more praiseworthy since the principal star, the sun, shines over the land at that time; but a conception at night is more frequent. Jeremiah uses a similar way of speaking saying, “Cursed be the day I was born, may the night on which my mother bore me not be blessed.” (20:14)

After cursing the day of his birth and the night of his conception, one by one the curse for each of these periods of time. First with the curse of the day of his birth, “Let that day be darkness!” Consider that, as Jerome says in his Prologue, “from the words in which Job says, ‘Let the day perish on which I was born,’(1:3) to the place where it is written near the end of the book, ‘For that reason, I repent,’ (42:6), the verses are hexameters in dactyl and spondee.” Therefore it is clear after this that this book was written in poetic style. So he uses the figures and images which poets customarily use through this whole book. Since poets want to touch others deeply, they customarily use several different images to express the same idea. So here too Job uses things which often make a day hateful, to curse his own day in the manner of which we are speaking.

The dignity of a day is its brightness, for it is by this that it is distinguished from night. He excludes this dignity saying, “Let that day be darkness,” an idea which seems frivolous and vain according to a superficial reading of the text. For the day of his birth had passed and was not now present. What has passed cannot be changed. How then could a day which has passed be changed into night? One should know that some judgments one makes about things are expressed as desires. So now the text says, “Let that day be darkness,” as if it were to be said: The day of my birth ought to be in darkness because it befits the darkness and misery which I am suffering. For the sight of the light is delightful, as Qoheleth says, “Light is pleasing and it is delightful for the eyes to see the sum.” (11:7) It is customary in Holy Scripture to represent sorrow by darkness, as one sees in Qoheleth, “He spent all his days in darkness and grief, in much vexation and sickness and resentment.” (5:16)

A day is bright in many ways. First, of course, from the sanctification of God who instituted it to be celebrated, as Exodus teaches, “Remember, keep holy the Sabbath day.” (20:8) Therefore, Job removes this sort of brightness from the day mentioned previously when he says, “May God not seek it.” as if to say: May God not require men to celebrate it. In fact, God requires some days be celebrated because of some extraordinary favor conferred on that day on men. For example, the Sabbath in the Old Law was celebrated because of the gift of Creation and the Passover was celebrated because of the gift of liberation from Egypt. This is also true of the feast days which are celebrated in the New Testament. Thus Job wishes to show by this that his birth should not be reckoned among the extraordinary favors of God, since he seems to have been born more for sorrow that for joy. Second, a day is bright from the recollection of men. For men customarily celebrate certain days on which something great or joyous happened to them, like Herod and Pharaoh celebrated their birthdays. He excludes such brightness from this aforementioned day saying, “May it not be remembered,” namely, by men because in truth nothing joyous happened on that day, but rather something sad happened on that day as is plain from the result. Third, a day is bright from physical light, which can be taken away in many ways. First, from the loss of the rays of the sun which illumine the earth, as appears in an eclipse of the sun. The text speaks about this saying, “nor let light shine on it.” Second, from the interposition of clouds or things like this which hide the rays of the sun. The text means this when it says, “Let gloom claim it.” Third, when the subject himself lacks the power of sight, since when someone is dead or deprived of sight, the clarity of the sun is taken away from him. The next verse expresses this, “and the shadow of death.”

Job explains two ways which can produce the aforementioned darkness. First, as to the order when he says, “Let clouds dwell on it.” For clouds dwell on a day when a day which dawned clear and beautiful is suddenly and unexpectedly overcast by clouds. Job’s own life seems to be like this. Second, as to the kind of darkness. So he says, “Let it be enveloped in bitterness.” In this verse he shows that everything which has been said about darkening should refer to the darkness of sorrow. In fact, his style seems to explain an allegory using another allegory. In all these expressions, he only means to say that the day of his birth should not be judged as one of joy but as one of mourning since he entered by his birth into a life of such great adversity.

After he curses the day of his birth, he next curses the night of his conception using a similar style. First, he attributes to it the reason why the night is rendered very horrible. Since night is frightful in itself because of darkness, the deeper the darkness of the night, the more frightful it is. This happens when a great storm arises during the night. So the text continues, “let a tempest envelop that night with a whirlwind,” as if he were to say: It would have been fitting for that night to be seized by some dark whirlwind to correspond to my life which is enveloped by such a great whirlwind of misfortune.

Then he takes away from the night what seems to pertain to the good of the night, first as to the opinion of men. For since men divide up the times by what happens during those times, things which happen at night seem small and hardly worth remembering. So night is not accounted anything in itself in the memories of men, but in connection with the day. He removes this good from the night about which he is speaking saying, “Let it not be reckoned among the days of the year; let it not be numbered among the months.” Here he says in effect: That night is not worth remembering since nothing important happened on it, but rather something which causes sorrow. Among the nights which find a place in the memories of men, some are not only remembered, but are also celebrated and festive on which people gather together to make merry. He takes this good away from this night saying, “Let that night be lonely.” When men come together for things like this on a given night, they do so in praise and celebration of that night because of some important deed which is remembered on that night, as is the case with the faithful when they celebrate the night of the Lord’s Resurrection. So he adds, “let it not be worthy of praise.” For certain nights are worthy of praise because of some great deed which happened on that night.

From this he only intends to show that his conception was not something great nor ordered to something good, but rather to the evil of adversity which he was feeling. So he says, “Let those curse it who curse the day, those who are capable of rousing up Leviathan.” According to the literal sense, this can be understood in two ways. In one way, Leviathan means some great fish, which seems to conform things said about him at the end of the book, “Can you draw out,” he says, “Leviathan with a fishhook?” (40:20) This must mean that those who fish for a fish of this size, do it attack them at night in the darkness. So when day begins to dawn, they curse the day because their work and intention are interrupted by its coming. There is a second interpretation. Leviathan means the ancient serpent who is the devil, in the sense of Isaiah, “On that day the Lord will punish Leviathan the twisting serpent with his hard, great and strong sword.” (27:1) Those men then are prepared to haul out Leviathan who are eager to carry out the suggestions of the devil by devoting themselves to the works of iniquity. These curse the day because, as John says, “Everyone who does evil hates the light” (3:20) and Job says later “The eye of the adulterer sees darkness” (24:15) and “if immediately the dawn should appear, he will judge it the shadow of death.” (24:15) In this way then, when he speaks as before, “Let it not be worthy of praise,” he wants this night to be hateful to the good men. So according to what he adds, “Let those curse it, etc.” he also wants it to be hateful to the wicked, for both the good and the wicked shrink from adversity.

Next he excludes those qualities which belong to the good of the night according to nature from this night. One of these is night is adorned by the view of the stars. He takes this away when he says, “Let the stars be blotted out in the darkness.” Another quality is that it is bedecked with the hope of day, which he removes saying, “let it hope for light, but not see it,” as if to say: Although it is natural to hope for the light of day during the night, yet this night should have a darkness so great that it never ends with the coming of the light of day. The darkness of night is completely broken in the full light of day, but it is diminished at the break of dawn. He calls down on this night not only that its darkness may not be ended by day, but also that it not be diminished by the dawn when he says, “nor see the rising dawn of the morning.” But since what he had said seemed impossible, namely, for day and dawn not to succeed night, he shows how his words should be interpreted saying, “because it did not shut the door of my mother’s womb.” For the life of man is a hidden life in the womb of his mother, and so is compared to the darkness of night. However, when one appears in the open in birth, then it is like bright day. For this reason he said that night should not be followed by either dawn or by day to show that he wanted his conception to come never to birth or to childhood, which is understood by dawn or youth which is designated the full light of day. He says, “Because it did not shut the doors of my mother’s womb, and so on” not because this night should close the womb, that is, prevent his birth, but because this is done at night. For from conception itself, an impediment can stand out which does not allow conception to issue into birth. But since it also seems irrational for someone to detest life, when being and to living are desirable for all, he shows the reason why he has said this. “Nor hide trouble from my eyes,” as if to say: I do not detest living because of life itself, but from the evil which I suffer. For although life itself is desirable, yet a life subject to misery is not. Here note that everything which he has said in metaphor above, he clarifies plainly in the final clause, a principle which will be observed in his other discourses.

Second Lesson: Job Would Rest in Peace with the Dead

11 Why did I not die in the womb? Why did I not come forth from the womb and expire? 12 Why did knees receive me? Or why was I suckled at the breast? 13 For now I would be sleeping and quiet; and in my sleep I would be at rest. 14 With the kings and counselors of the earth, who built solitary dwellings for themselves; 15 or with princes who hoard gold and fill their houses with silver. 16 Or why was I not like a hidden aborted birth? Or like those conceived who never see the light? 17 There the wicked cease to trouble; and there the weary from the struggle are at rest. 18 There those once chained together, hear not the voice of the taskmaster. 19 The small and the great are there; the slave is free from his master.

After Job has cursed the days of his birth and the night of his conception to show that he detested from the beginning of his life, he now shows that he detests from the preservation of his life. With these remarks he shows more clearly that his life is burdensome to him. There are two states of life: one is hidden in which those conceived live in the womb; the other is open where one lives after birth outside the womb. As for the first state, he says, “Why did I not die in the womb?” As to the second, “Why did I not come forth from the womb and expire?” He treats first about the second state.

One should know that the exterior life can be lost in two ways: sometimes, of course, from some harm coming on it, either intrinsic like sickness or extrinsic like a sword or something like that. So when he says, “Why did I not come forth from the womb and expire,” it can be applied to this. Sometimes however, the external life is taken away by the loss of some necessary assistance, which can be extrinsic like being carried, warmth and other aids of this kind. The verse, “Why did the knees receive me?” refers to this; or something intrinsic, like food, and so he says, “Or why was I suckled at the breast?” Indeed the life of newborn baby needs these aids to life on the first day of its birth.

But since when someone asks, “Why did this happen?”, he means that this happened uselessly, Job shows next as a consequence not only the futility of preserving his life, but even more the harm. He shows this first as to the evils which he now suffers saying, “For now I would be sleeping and quiet; I would be at rest.” He calls death sleep because of his hope in the resurrection, and he will later say this plainly. By silence, he means rest from the adversities which he was suffering; as if to say: If I had died immediately when I was born, I would not have been made restless by these evils which I now suffer. Second, he says it respecting the goods which he formerly possessed, for someone might say to him, “If you had not been preserved in this life, you would not have had the goods which you enjoyed in time past.” As if to answer this he shows that the preservation of his life should not be desired for the sake of those goods, for even those who have enjoyed an abundance of these great goods throughout their whole lives, end in the same way in death. He means this when he says, “And in my sleep,” i.e. death, “I would have been at rest,” i.e. I would have been freed from the disturbing things of life, “with kings and counselors of the earth.” Note that the intention of those who have a high place in society and seem to prosper greatly, is either to enjoy their pleasures, and as to them he says: “who built solitary dwellings for themselves,” (literally: those wanting to be alone to hunt or some other pleasant past-time); or they want to accumulate wealth, and as to them he says, “or with princes who hoard gold and fill their houses with silver.” This is as if to say: If I had died immediately after I was born, I would have had nothing less now than those men have after their deaths who prospered in many things. Consider that since rest occurs only in what subsists, he wants us to understand from these words, that man in his soul subsists after death. To the objection that kings and princes of the sort he is describing perhaps do not rest, but experience the torments of the punishments of hell, or even that life was useful to Job himself so that in life he could obtain merit for himself, we must return to what we already said. Job speaks now from the character of the sensual part of the human soul, and expresses what he feels. This part only allows a place for the corporeal goods and evils which are present in the here and now.

So after he shows that he should not have desired to have preserved his life after his birth, he demonstrates as a consequence that he should not have desired to preserve his life in leaving the womb and be born. In this he explains what he said above, “Why did I not die in the womb?” (v.11) Consider that some die in the womb before the infusion of the rational soul, which alone is immortal. He expresses this saying, “Or why was I not like a hidden aborted birth?” Aborted fetuses of this sort have nothing perpetual which remains of them. Some however die after the infusion of the rational soul. These truly subsist in the soul after death, but they do not see the light of this world. To express this Job says, “or” which must be interpreted as “like” (sicut) “those conceived who never see the light,” i.e. of this present life. He shows that he should have chosen this for himself so as not to have been subject to the evils of this life. So he says, “There”, in the state where those are who after they were conceived did not see the light of day, “the wicked cease from troubling,” from the trouble they caused others in afflicting them, cleansed from the evil of fault. “And there”, in the state of the dead, “the weary” warriors who are worn out from the struggle,” are at rest,” i.e. they are free from labor like this, because as was explained, he speaks now only of the rest from the evils of this present life. This passage can also be understood of the fatigue one suffers in any kind of work where he uses his own strength. “There, those” who were, “once chained, will be at ease together,” without their former pain together with those who held them bound. There too men weighed down with anguish and with slavery, “hear not the voice of the taskmaster.” This accords with Isaiah, “How the oppressor has ceased; there is no more tribute.” (14:4b) He shows this is true by adding, “The small and the great are there,” on an equal basis because smallness and greatness are reckoned in this life according to the inequality of earthly prosperity, when this is taken away they return to their natural equality. Therefore “the small and the great” should be interpreted to mean those who were different in this life because of the magnitude of earthly prosperity. Yet note that the difference between small and great in spiritual goods remains even there. But he does not speak about these goods now as has already been explained. There “the slave is free from his master,” and so there will be no place there for tribute or anything of this sort.

Third Lesson: Like The Unhappy

20 Why was light given to him that is in misery? Why is life given to the bitter in soul? 21 Who long for death, which does not come, like those who dig for buried treasure. 22 And are glad powerfully when they find the grave. 23 Why is it given to man whose way is hidden? And God has hedged him in with darkness? 24 Before I eat, I sigh; and my wailing is like flood waters. 25 For the thing that I fear comes upon me. 26 And what I dread befalls me. 26 Have I not dissembled? Was I not silent? Have I not kept quiet? And his wrath comes upon me.

After Job has detested his own life in many ways, he now detests the life of the whole human race taken collectively, both of those in prosperity and those in adversity. He begins to treat first of those who are more renowned. Note that there are two things which belong especially to living beings: to live and to know. Although knowing in itself is very delightful and very noble, yet to know those things which cause affliction is painful. So he says, “Why was light given to him that is in misery?,” as if to say: For what purpose does a man subject to unhappiness have the light of knowledge, since by it he can consider the evil with which he is afflicted? To live is noble because of the soul, but if the soul should exist in bitterness, living itself is rendered bitter. So he says, “and life to the bitter of soul.” (Understand “why is it given?” to be repeated) He shows that life is given to them uselessly because unhappy men desire its contrary. So he says, “Who,” living in bitterness, “long for death, which does not come,” that is as quickly as they would like. To show that those who are unhappy wait for death not shrinking from it but desiring it he continues, “like those who dig for buried treasure,” aroused by their great desire to find the treasure by digging. Because desire, when it is fulfilled causes joy, he adds, “and are glad powerfully when they find the grave,” i.e. when they see they have arrived at death which procures a grave for them. Some think this passage refers to the fact that those who dig for treasure rejoice in finding a grave because they often found treasures in ancient tombs. But the first explanation is better.

Someone could object that although life is useless if given to miserable men, yet it is useful if given to those who enjoy prosperity. He removes this possibility saying, “Why are they (i.e. light and life) given to man whose way is hidden?” The way of a man is hidden because he does not know how the state of his present prosperity will end. As Proverbs says, “Laughter will be mixed with pain, and the end of joy is grief,” (Prov. 14:13) and Jeremiah, “Man’s road is not in his control.” (10:23) and Qoheleth, “What necessity is there for man to seek greater things for himself, when he does not know how to use things profitable for himself in this life? Or who can indicate what will be after him under the sun?” (7:1) He explains how the way of man is hidden on the earth saying, “And God has hedged him in with darkness.” This is evident in many ways. First, as to those things which happened in the past or will happen in the future Qoheleth says, “Many are the afflictions of man because he is ignorant of the past and the future or who can tell him how it will be?” (8:6) Second, as to what is near him, namely men. As 1 Cor. says, “For who knows a man’s thoughts but the spirit of the man which is in him.” (2:11) As to those things above a man, the last chapter of 1 Timothy says, “He (God) lives in inaccessible light, whom no man sees or is able to see,” (1 Tim. 6:16) and in the Psalms, “He makes the darkness his hiding place.” (17:12) Finally as to those things which are below him, Qoheleth says, “All things are difficult, a man cannot explain them with speech.” (1:8) God is said to have hedged a man in with darkness because God bestows the kind of intellect on him which not able to understand these things.

After he shows that the life of man is difficult because of the unhappiness and bitterness of men, he applies to himself what he said about men in general. In this he expresses his own bitterness when he says, “Before I eat, I sigh,” for as laughter is a sign of joy, so sighing is a sign of bitterness of soul. In this he shows the manner of his bitterness from the manner of his sighing. He began his sighing easily, “Before I eat, I sigh.” And his sighing was continuous and great. So he adds, “and my wailing is like flood water.” For as sighing is a sign of moderate sorrow, so wailing is a sign of vehement sorrow, a sorrow which can hardly be tolerated. This wailing is compared to the roaring of water, for water which moves swiftly makes a murmuring sound. So a man experiencing great affliction is provoked to wailing from a slight recollection of his misery. He continues, “like flood water,” to emphasize the continuous character of his bitterness, for flooding water moves continuously and makes a loud noise.

Because bitterness of soul arises from unhappiness, after he speaks of the bitterness of his soul, he next speaks about his unhappiness saying, “For the thing that I fear comes upon me.” Note here that the unhappiness of man which provokes bitterness seems to consist in two things. First, in the damage to his things or his person and in dishonor. As to the first two, he says,”For the thing that I fear comes upon me,” i.e. those things which I fear happen to me. Here this expression refers to the greatness of loss and pain for the more prudent someone is, the more he recognizes what can happen to him in a time of adversity when he is still in a time of prosperity. So Sirach says, “In the day of prosperity, do not forget evil.” (9:27) Job, who was the most prudent of men, suffered great unhappiness when the very evils happened to him which he feared. As for the second, dishonor, he says, “and what I dread befalls me.” According to Aristotle, shame is “the fear of dishonor.” He shows therefore by this that from great glory, he fell into many disgraces and dishonors.

A man often suffers unhappiness and bitterness through his own fault. But this is not the case here, for Job says, “Have I not dissembled? A man often suffers unhappiness and bitterness through his own fault. This is not the case here, for Job says, Have I dissembled?” Understand here that someone sins and so merits punishment from God in two ways. In one way when from injuries inflicted on him, he is provoked to revenge beyond what is his due, as Psalm 7 says, “If I repaid evil things to those requiting me, may I perish deservedly destitute at the hands of my enemies.” (v. 5) He denies this possibility saying, Have I not dissembled?” as to the injuries done to me. In another way when someone offends another first in words. He shows this is not the case here saying, “Have I not been silent?” as if to say: For I have spoken abusive or injurious words. Nor has he offended in deeds and he removes this from himself saying, “Have I not been master of myself?” “For the impious are like the restless sea which cannot be quiet.” (Is. 57:20) Although I am innocent, still “his wrath came upon me,” i.e. the punishment given by God, for anger in God does not happen because God is disturbed in soul, but because he wants to punish someone. In this Job recognizes that the adversities of this world do not happen without divine command.

To summarize what Job said in his lamentation, note that three things are contained in it. First, he shows his own life is wearisome (“Cursed be the day of my birth”) v. 3; second, the greatness of the unhappiness which he was suffering (“Before I eat, I sigh) v. 24; and third, he shows his innocence (Have I not dissembled) v. 26 and so on.

 

CHAPTER FOUR: THE DISCOURSE OF ELIPHAZ

First Lesson: On The Impatience of Job

1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite spoke in response, 2 “If one ventures a word with you, perhaps you will be offended, but who can keep from speaking? 3 Behold, you have instructed many and you have strengthened those with weak hands; 4 Your words have upheld the tottering, and you have strengthened those with trembling knees. 5 But now a trial has come upon you, and you too have fallen away. It touched you, and you are dismayed. 6 Where is your courage, your patience, and the integrity of your ways?”

The friends of Job who came to console him, who had kept silence up to now because the acuteness of his pain, after Job had finished undertook the boldness to speak. First Eliphaz the Temanite speaks. He had not taken Job’s words in the spirit in which they were spoken. He imputed the hatred of his present life which Job said he suffered to despair; his great bitterness to impatience and his profession of his innocence to presumption.

First, he therefore accuses Job of impatience and begins to speak to him as one does to a man subject to the sin of impatience who immediately reacts angrily to the words spoken to him. So he says, “If one ventures a word with you, you will perhaps be offended.” Here he adequately assesses the usual temperament of an impatient and angry man, who cannot suffer to hear someone finish he argument, but is immediately provoked to answer him when he has only just begun to speak. He says, “perhaps” lest he be condemned for rash judgment, although one should also interpret words or deeds in presumptuous or suspicious things in the better light. But whereas he accuses Job of impatience, he shows himself the one given to impatience and silliness when he says, “but who can keep from speaking?” So Sirach says, “As arrows inflicted in the thigh of a dog, so is the word in the heart of a fool,” (19:12) although one may grant that even the just from divine zeal are sometimes unable to be silent in speaking what must be said for the honor of God. As Jeremiah says, “If I say I will not remember,” i.e. the words of the Lord, “or speak any more in his name, there is a kind of burning fire in my heart shut up in my bones, and I am weary for holding it in and cannot.” (20:9)

He next proceeds to clearly demonstrate Job’s impatience, by exaggerating this impatience from two points of view: his former teaching and his former life. From his former teaching, indeed, because it is shameful for a man to not practice what he teaches to others. As St. Matthew says, “For they say and do not do.” (23:3) Before Job had held many back from impatience, and used to adapt his teaching to different men in different ways. For there are some who are impatient from ignorance, as long as they do not know how to use adversities for virtue. As to these he says, “Behold, You have instructed many.” Others, however, practice virtue in adversity at first, but when the adversity lasts a long time they are discouraged as though tired of right action. As to these he says, “and you have strengthened those with weak hands,” by persuading them to good works. There are also some who in adversity fall into a condition of doubt as to whether this happened from divine judgment. As to these he says, “Your words have upheld the tottering.” There also are some who sustain a small adversity but under great adversity fall as crushed by a heavy burden. For these he says, “and you have strengthened those with trembling knees,” namely, with your counsels, for the knees of a man tremble when he carries a great weight. The Lord exhorts us to perfect ourselves in this condition saying in Isaiah, “Strengthen the weak hands and make firm the trembling knees.” (35:3)

Eliphaz wants to show as a consequence that Job did not practice the things he taught others and so he continues, “But now a trial has come to you, and you too have fallen away,” namely, from the firmness of mind which you seemed to have and which you recommended to others. This refers to the adversity he had suffered in exterior things. “It touched you, and you are dismayed,” i.e. you have lost the peace of mind which you seemed to have. This refers to the affliction of body he was suffering. So Satan said above, “Put forth your hand and touch his bones and his flesh.” He therefore had accused Job of not living his previous teaching by practicing subsequent patience. This is against Proverbs, “A man learns good sense by patience.” (19:11)

He also exaggerated the subsequent impatience which appeared in Job from his past life. For virtue which fails so quickly in trial does not seem true because, as it is written in Sirach, “Gold and silver are proved in fire; men are proven in the crucible of humility.” (2:5) A man is preserved by many virtues so that he does not fail in trials. First, some are preserved through fear of God, when they consider that the evil things they suffer come forth from divine providence. As Job said above, “As the Lord pleases, so has he done.”[1:2] Eliphaz said to exclude this virtue, “Where is your fear?” with which you seemed to revere God. Second, some are preserved through constancy of soul, which has two degrees. In some men, their strength of soul is so exceedingly great that they are not excessively bothered in adversities. This is due to courage. So he says, “Where is your courage?” This should not be taken here to refer to the fortitude which men guard so that they do not succumb to fear, but that they are not discouraged in sorrow. Some suffer a very burdensome amount of sorrow from adversity, but they are not led astray by it because of the good disposition of their reason. This is due to patience. The difference between patience and courage is the same difference which the philosophers put between continence and chastity. So he continues, “Your patience?” Third, some are safeguarded by love of the right action and from the horror of doing something base, so that even if they should be interiorly disturbed by adversity, they still break out in nothing unworthy, either in word or deed. So he adds, “Where is the integrity of your ways?” “Ways” here means actions by which one arrives at an end as if by certain kinds of roads. “Ways” can also mean carefully thought out counsel, by which someone comes to trust that he can evade adversities and so he tolerates adversities more easily.

The Second Lesson: Job and His Family Justly Punished

7 Remember, I implore you; who that was innocent has ever perished? Or when have the upright been destroyed? 8 No, rather I have seen that those who do evil and sow pains, reap the same. 9 By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his anger they are consumed. 10 The roar of the lion, the voice of the lioness and the teeth of the whelp have been broken. 11 The tigress perished with him for lack of prey, and the whelps of the lioness have been scattered.

After Eliphaz accused Job of impatience taking his opportunity from what Job had said, “Before I eat, I sigh,” (3:24), he intends now to accuse him of presumption from the fact that he said he was innocent. To show him that he is not innocent, he takes his argument from the premise of his adversity saying, “Remember, I implore you, who that was innocent has ever perished; or when have the upright been destroyed?” Consider here again that Eliphaz and the other two friends were of the opinion that the misfortunes of this world do not happen to someone except as a punishment for sin and on the other hand prosperity comes as a reward for justice. So according to his opinion, it would not seem fitting that anyone innocent should perish temporally or that anyone who was upright, i.e. just according to virtue, should be destroyed by the loss of temporal glory, which he thought was a reward for justice. He believed this opinion to be so true that even Job could not disagree with it. Yet he thought that Job had, as it were, forgotten the truth which he knew at one time, because his spirit was troubled. So he says, “Remember.”

Given therefore that adversity does not happen to the innocent and the upright, he consequently identifies those who experience adversity, “No, rather, I have seen that those who do evil and sow pains, reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his anger they are consumed.” When he says, “I have seen,” he makes allusion to the fact that he himself has proven these things by experience. For those “who do evil,” he understands those who openly do injustice especially by harming others. For those who “sow pains and reap the same,” he understands those who harm others by deceit. These sow pains when they prepare calumnies by which they make others suffer. Those men reap pain when they continue their evildoing until it takes effect, and they take this to be excellent fruit. He carries this metaphor further in speaking about punishment. Corn fields usually dry up and are destroyed by a scorching wind. As Malachi says, “I will rebuke the devourer,” i.e. the wind,” so that it may not devour the fruit of your land.” (3:11) He refers to this when he says, “they will perish by the blast of God,” as though divine judgment itself coming forth to punish evil is similar to the blast of the wind. The very revenge of God is called the breath, i.e. the wind, of his anger. He says not only that they perish, but that they are consumed, because they are not only punished in their own persons, but their children and their whole family perishes so that nothing seems to remain of them. This seemed to express Job both because he had been afflicted in his body and had lost his children, his family and his wealth.

But the fact that the children and family should suffer for the sins of the parents seemed to go contrary to the opinion of Eliphaz since he intends to defend the opinion that adversities in this world are punishments for sin. Eliphaz answers this objection saying, “The roar of the lion, the voice of the lioness, and the teeth of the whelp have been broken.” Here first occurs the consideration that man is more noble than other animals because of reason. When then he sets reason aside, he follows the passions of beasts, and so he bears the likeness of beasts and the name of beast befits him because he imitates their passions. For example, one who gives in to the passion of concupiscence is likened to a horse or a mule in the Psalms, “Be not like horse and mule, unintelligent.” (31:9) The one who gives into anger or ferociousness is called a lion or a bear in Proverbs, “A roaring lion or a hungry bear is the impious prince over a poor people” (28:15) and Ezechiel, “He became a lion and he learned to catch prey and devour men.” (19:3) So now he compares a furious man to a lion saying, “The roar of the lion,” for roaring is an indication of the ferociousness of the lion. Often the prodding of a wife adds to the ferociousness of her husband, and so the ferocious thing the husband does is imputed to the fault of his wife. This is clear with Herod’s wife who prodded him to behead John the Baptist. (cf. Matt. 14:8) So he says, “The voice of the lioness.” Sometimes what a tyrant acquired by cruelty, his sons use wantonly and so they rejoice in the father’s plunder. Therefore they are not immune from fault. So the text continues, “the teeth of the whelps are broken.” Nahum says, “The lion took enough for his whelps.” (2:12) Thus he seems to have responded to the premised objection, because it is not just for the wife and the children to be punished for the sins of the husband, when they were participants with him in the fault. He said all this in trying to render Job and his family infamous for robbery.

Yet it seemed that what he said did not pertain to Job, because his wife did not seem to be punished. To remove this difficulty, he says, “The tigress perished with him for lack of prey.” For those who steal as a practice, think themselves punished if they are not permitted to steal. Consider that women are compared to a lioness because of the ferociousness of their anger and to a tigress because of the readiness and quickness of their anger. As Sirach says, “There is no anger like the anger of a woman” (25:23) and “All malice is brief compared to the malice of a woman.” (25:26) Because all of Job’s children had completely perished, he adds, “and the whelps of the lioness have been scattered.”

The Third Lesson: the Nocturnal Vision of Eliphaz

12 Now a word was spoken to me in a hidden way; stealthily my ear perceived the dry bed of his whisper. 13 In the dread of the vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men 14 Fear seized me, and trembling which made my bones shake with fear. 15 A spirit glided past me, and the hairs stood up on my flesh. 16 It stood still, but I could not discern the face, an image before my eyes. And I heard a voice gentle to my ears. 17 “Can mortal man be righteous in comparison with God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker? 18 Even those who serve him are not stable and in his angels he found evil; 19 How much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is dust. Who are eaten as by a moth. 20 Between morning and evening they will be destroyed and since not one understands, they perish forever. 21 But those who will remain are born away from them. They will die, but not in wisdom.” ch.5 1 Call now, is there anyone to answer you? Turn to one of the holy men.

Because Eliphaz had accepted that adversities in this life only happened to someone because of his sin, he wanted from this to accuse Job and his family of being subject to sin. As exactly the contrary was clearly the case for Job and his family, he wanted to show that neither Job nor his family was immune from sin. Since his opinion seemed to be weak because of the authority of Job and his reputation, he referred to a higher authority showing he is about to propose he has learned from revelation. He first proposes the obscurity of the revelation to demonstrate its high source. The higher things are above man, the less perceptible they are by man. As St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians, “He was taken up into the paradise of God and heard things which cannot be told to man.” (12:4) In this way, Eliphaz speaks either truly or falsely saying, “Now a word was spoken to me in a hidden way.”

Consider that some truth, although hidden from men because of its exalted character, is still revealed to some clearly and revealed to others in a hidden way. To avoid the charge of boasting, he says that this truth was revealed to him in a hidden way, “stealthily my ear perceived the dry bed of his whisper.” Here he hints that there are three ways in which things are hidden in revelations. The first of these is when the intelligible truth is revealed to someone through an imaginary vision. As Numbers says,” If there will be a prophet of the Lord among you, I will speak to him in a vision or a dream. Not so with my servant Moses; With him I speak mouth to mouth, and he does not see God clearly and not through riddles.” (12:6-8) Moses, then, heard this hidden word by a clear voice. Others however hear in the manner of a whisper. The second hidden manner is in the imaginary vision when words are spoken which sometimes expressly contain the truth, as in the text Isaiah, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive,” (7:14) or sometimes under certain figures of speech, as in Isaiah, “A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse and a flower, etc.” (9:1) When therefore Isaiah heard, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive,” he perceived the whispering itself, but when he heard, “A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,” he perceived the strains of the whisper. For figures of speech are like strains derived from the truth itself through the likeness of a simile. The third hidden way is when someone sometimes has a frequent and long-lasting revelation of God, as Exodus says about Moses, “The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” (33:11) Sometimes someone has a sudden and passing revelation. Eliphaz shows the sudden character of his revelation when he says, “stealthily”, for we hear those things almost stealthily which come to us quickly and in, as it were, a fleeting moment.

After he shows the high source of the vision in this way, he proceeds to the circumstances of the revelation. First, he speaks of the time saying, “In the dread vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men,” because the quiet night is more suitable for receiving revelations. During the day, the mind suffers noise from the disturbances of men and the occupations of the senses, so that it cannot perceive the whispering of a hidden word.

Second, he speaks of the disposition of the recipient, and so he adds, “Fear seized me.” For men usually are struck with fear at the unusual, and so when someone has strange revelations, he suffers fear in the beginning. To show the greatness of this fear he adds, “and trembling,” for the trembling of the body is an indication of the greatness of fear. To emphasize this sort of trembling, he continues, “which made all my bones shake” as if to say: This trembling shows that the tremble was not superficial, but violent, the kind which struck even the bones. A resemblance is described in Daniel, “So I saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me; my countenance was changed in me, and I grew faint and I had no strength left.” (10:8) As a consequence, he shows the cause of this fear when he says, “When a spirit glided past my face; the hairs on my flesh stood up.” For it is reasonable that one with lesser power is awestruck in the presence of one with greater power. It is obvious that the power of the spirit is greater than the power of the flesh and so it is not surprising that the hair of the flesh stand up in the presence of the spirit as happens when one is overcome by sudden fear. This is especially true when the presence of the spirit is felt in some strange corporeal phenomenon, for strange things usually lead to wonder and fear. So that the time expressed might be fitted for that dread which he recalls he suffered, for he said above, “In the dread vision of the night.” Since one cannot discern things by sight in the darkness, any small commotion usually induces disturbance in one who things that it is something greater. This is what Wisdom says,” The sighing of the wind, the tuneful song of the birds in the spreading branches, all held them paralyzed with fear.” (17:17)

He places the person revealing third, when the text says, “It stood still, but I could not discern the face, an image before my eyes.” Here he indicates three things which show for certain that it was a vision. Note that sometimes because of an excessive disturbance of smoke or the mists, either dreams do not appear at all, because there are no phantasms or dreams appear in a confused and disturbed way, as is often the case with those who have a fever. Since dreams of this kind have little or no spiritual content, they are completely without meaning. When, however, the mists and smoke have settled, quiet and ordered dreams appear, and as these are more spiritual, they emerge from the intellectual part of the soul with some strength. Dreams of this sort are usually more true. Therefore he says, “It stood still,” which shows the stability of the vision. Further note that even when dreams are quiet and they are generally full of thoughts which remain from things experienced previously, one as a result frequently sees in a dream those with whom he has ordinary contact. Because such dreams have their cause in our character and not in a higher nature, they have no great meaning. He shows this is not the case when he says, “but I could not discern the face.” In this he shows that this kind of vision did not take its origin from something he had already experienced, but from a more hidden cause. Third, consider that visions of this kind which arise from a higher cause, sometimes appear to someone asleep and at other times to those who are awake. Those seem to be truer and more certain when they appear to those who are awake than when they appear to those who are asleep, because reason is more free in someone who is awake, and because in sleep one does not easily discern the difference between spiritual revelations and frivolous or ordinary dreams. To show that this revelation was not made to someone asleep but who was awake, he says, “An image was before me eyes.” He means here that he saw this with the open eyes of someone awake. He also meant to express this before when he said, “When sleep falls on men,” (v. 13) where he clarifies that he had been seized by sleep.

Then he tells of the manner of the declaration made to him saying, “I heard a voice like a gentle breeze.” Note here that apparitions of this kind are sometimes made from a good spirit, sometimes from an evil spirit. In both kinds, man suffers fear in the beginning because of the unusual character of the vision. But when the apparition proceeds from a good spirit, the fear ends in consolation, as is clear in the angel who comforts Daniel (10:18) and when Gabriel comforts Zechariah and Mary in Luke I. An evil spirit however leaves a man disturbed. The fact that he says, “I heard a voice like a gentle breeze,” demonstrates a consolation which put his former fear to rest. By this statement the vision is proven to be from a good spirit and not from a wicked spirit by whose lying visions are often shown. The end of Kings III expresses the same thing, “I will forth and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.” (22:22) The third book of Kings also speaks in this way of the apparition made to Elijah, “After the earthquake came a still small voice, and the Lord was in the voice.” (19:12) However we should note that sometimes one hears great disturbances and horrible voices even in visions which come from a good spirit as is clear in Ezechiel when it is said, “I looked and behold a stormy wind came out of the north,” (1:4) and after many verses is added, “I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of mighty waters.” (1:4) Revelation says, “And I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.” (1:10) This describes the threats or other grave dangers which are contained in these kinds of revelation. But the message here should have been one of consolation, and so he introduces the voice of the speaker as similar to a gentle breeze.

Finally, he expresses the words which he asserts were revealed to him when he says, “’Can mortal man be righteous before God?’” He introduces these words to confirm his opinion which he already touched on (v. 7), namely, that adversities do not happen to someone in this life except because of sin. He introduces three reasons to prove that no one can excuse himself when he suffers adverse things asserting that he is free from sin. The first of these is taken from a comparison of man to God and leads to an impossible conclusion. For if man is punished by God without being at fault, it follows that man would be more just than God. The work of justice is to give each one his due. So if God should inflict punishment on someone who was innocent to whom punishment is not due, but the man who suffers because of God did not inflict punishment on another man without fault— which would follow necessarily if the one punished by God were innocent—it follows that a man punished by God is more just than God. To justify man compared to God is tantamount to justifying him with respect to God under the aspect of justice. As perhaps this might not seem an unfitting conclusion to someone, he carries the argument to another more apparently unfitting conclusion saying, “Can a man be pure before his maker?” Each thing has purity in that it conserves its own nature which it receives from its own causes. So the purity of each effect depends on its cause, and it cannot surpass its cause in purity. Thus a man cannot be more pure than his Creator, who is God.

His second argument comes from a comparison to the angels. It is from the greater when he says, “Even those who serve him are not stable and in his angels he finds evil.” This opinion is clear according to the Catholic faith. The Catholic faith holds as certain that all angels were created good. Some of them fell through their own fault from the state of righteousness; some however attained a greater glory. The fact that the angels fell from the state of righteousness seems astonishing for two reasons. One pertains to their contemplative power, the other to their active power. From the contemplative power it seems that there should have been steadfastness in the angels. It is clear that the cause of mutability is potency; the cause of immutability is act. For it is from the nature of potency that something can be or not be. But as what is more completed by act has a firmer hold on unity, what is act in itself is completely unchangeable. Note that as matter is related to form, as potency is to act so the will is to the good. What is good in itself, namely God, is completely unchangeable. However the wills of other natures which are not good in themselves are compared to him as potency to act. Thus the more they cleave to him, the more confirmed they are in good. So since the angels seem to cling more to God and in closer proximity than other creatures, in that they contemplate him more exactly, they seem to be the more steadfast than other creatures Yet they were not steadfast. Thus much less can lower creatures like men, inasmuch as they cling to God by reverencing him in serving him, be judged also to be steadfast. However, from the active power it seems that in the angels there can be little or no depravity. As the rule more approaches the true measure of straight, so much the less crookedness does it have. God, in whom the prime righteousness exists, directing all things by his providence, disposes lower creatures through higher ones. Hence, as they are sent by God to direct others, there seems to be little or no perversity possible in the higher creatures who are called angels. So if there can be perversity in them, one must believe that depravity could be found in any man, however great he may appear to be. However, one should take care that from this opinion, he does not fall into the error of Origen who asserts that even now all created spirits are not steadfast and can be seduced into depravity. For some gained by grace the favor to cling to God unchangeably by seeing him in his essence. In this way, even some men, although they are lower in nature than the angels are granted by grace immunity from the depravity of mortal sin even in this life.

Eliphaz takes third argument (to show that adversity comes from sin) from the human condition which he joins to the conclusion of the preceding argument. Thus one argument could be formed from two and he means this when he says, “How much more those who dwell in houses of clay.” The human condition is such that the body is formed from earthly matter. He indicates this saying, “How much more those who dwell in houses of clay?” The human body is said to be clay because it is formed more fully from earth and water, the heavier elements as its motion makes evident. So Genesis says, “God formed man from the slime of the earth.” (2:7) This body of clay is called the house of the soul because the human soul is situated in the body as a man in a house or a sailor in a ship, as the mover of the body. There were some who said because of this that the soul was only accidentally united to the body as a man is to clothes or a sailor in a ship. But he disproves this opinion when he adds, “whose foundation is dust.” By this we are given to understand that the human soul is united to the body as form to matter. For matter is said to be the foundation of form, because it is the first part in the generation of a thing like the foundation is the first part in the building of a house. Now, he uses this manner of speaking to attribute what is the soul to man because the soul is man, as some held who said that man is nothing but a soul clothed with a body, but because the soul is the more principal part of man. Each thing is usually called from what is more principal in it. These two things which he says about the weakness of man seem to be placed in opposition to what he has already said about the excellence of the angels. For the phrase, “those who dwell in houses of clay,” seems to be placed in opposition to what he said in “Those who serve him,” (v. 18) cling to him and live spiritually in him. However, when he says, “whose foundation is dust,” this seems to oppose, “in his angels,” (v. 18) for angels are incorporeal in nature according to Psalm 103, “Who makes his angels spirit.” (v.4)

He uses the condition of man as a premise and so he concludes to his miserable destiny saying, “who are eaten as by a moth.” This can be understood in a prima facie literal sense to refer to the corporeal death which man suffers of necessity from the fact that he has an earthly foundation. In this way, it can mean two sorts of death. First, natural death by the expression, “who are eaten as by a moth.” For just as a moth corrupts the clothing from which it is born, so the natural death of the body arises from the interior causes. This can also refer to violent death for he says next, “Between morning and evening they will be destroyed,” for trees are cut down by a cause outside the tree itself. He says distinctly enough, “between morning and evening,” because natural death can certainly be foreseen before it happens by certain natural symptoms, but violent death is completely uncertain as though it were subject to different causes. For this reason, a man cannot know if he will live from morning until evening. Yet note that this is not the meaning of the literal sense, because above he addressed defect of sin, when he said,” and his angels he charges with error.” So as the conclusion must follow from the premises, this passage must also refer to sin. Sin consumes the life of justice in man in two ways. In one way, from interior corruption, which he refers to in saying, “who are eaten by a moth.” Just as clothing is eaten by the moth which is born from it, so the justice of a man is destroyed by those things which arise in man, like the corruption of evil desires (fomes), bad thoughts and others things like this. In another way it is corrupted by exterior temptation, which is indicated when he says, “Between morning and evening, they will be cut down.” Consider here that interior temptation does not suddenly overthrow someone, but gradually overcomes him when through negligence he does not take care to restrain the first movements of sin in him. As Qoheleth says, “He who neglects little things, gradually falls.” (19:1) In the same way, clothing which is not shaken out, is eaten by a moth. However, exterior temptation generally overcomes a man suddenly, like David who rushed into adultery at the sight of a woman and also many who denied the faith under torture.

In whatever way a man falls into sin, he will obtain mercy if he recognizes his sin and repents. But because there is no one who can understand all his sins, according to the text, “Who can understand his sins,” (Ps. 18:12) it follows that most men do not apply the remedy to their sins which will free them because they do not know their sins. In the next verse he expresses this saying, “Since not one understands it,” to avoid the snare of sins, “they will perish forever,” for most men are never freed from sin. But because there are some who apply remedies against sins even though they do not understand them, like David who said, “From hidden faults cleanse me, O Lord,” (Ps. 18:12) he adds, “Those, however, who will remain” from the number of those who perish in eternity, “are born away from them,” for they will be separated from their company. “They will die,” because though a man may repent from his sin, he is still not free from the necessity of dying, but wisdom will not die in them. He says this next, “But not in wisdom.” Or when he says, “They will die but not in wisdom,” he does not complete the thought which immediately preceded but what he said a little before that, “They will perish in eternity,” so that the sense is that they will die without wisdom. Or “Those who remain” may mean the children who remain after their parents die, yet because of the sins of their parents, which they imitate, are born away to death without wisdom. Eliphaz wants to establish from all these arguments that since the condition of man is so frail, as long as a man does not know he or his sons are going to perdition, he easily falls into sin. So although Job did not recognize that he was a sinner, one must believe that he and his sons suffered because of some sins.

So after Eliphaz has explained his revelation, since Job could not have believed this revelation, he add, “Call now; is there anyone who will answer you?” as if to say: If you do not believe that this was revealed to me, you yourself can invoke God, if perhaps he himself will answer this doubt for you. If through your own merits you do not think you can obtain this from God, “Turn to one of the holy men,” so that by his mediation you will be able to know the truth from God about this matter. Note that he says, “to one of the holy men,” because one should not diligently investigate hidden things through unclean spirits in just any way or using any technique. One may only do this through God or the holy ones of God according to Isaiah, “And when they say to you, ‘Consult the mediums and the wizards who hiss in their incantations,’ should not a people ask for insight from their God for the living or the dead.” (8:19)

 

CHAPTER FIVE: THE DISCOURSE OF ELIPHAZ CONTINUES

The First Lesson: Only the Blameworthy are Punished

2 Wrath kills the fool, and jealousy slays the simple. 3 I have seen the fool taking root, I suddenly cursed his beauty. 4. His sons are far from health, they will be crushed at the city gate, and there will be no one to deliver them. 5 The hungry will his harvest, armed men will seize from him, and the thirsty will drink after his wealth. 6 Nothing on earth happens without cause; for affliction does not arise from the dust. 7 But man is born to toil and the bird to fly.

Because Eliphaz remembered in the revelation made to him, among other things that men “dwell in houses of clay whose foundation is in the dust and die eaten as by a moth,” (4:19), he wants now to demonstrate this in the different conditions of men. For there is no condition of man in which there is no tendency to sin. Now there are two conditions of man. Some are treat and haughty in spirit and are easily provoked to anger because anger is the desire for revenge originating from a previous injury. Thus the more haughty a man is in his soul, the more he thinks himself offended for a slight cause and is therefore more easily provoked to anger. Therefore he says, “Wrath kills the fool,” because a man especially exceeds the boundaries of reason through his pride, whereas humility prepares the way of wisdom. As Proverbs says, “Where there is humility, there is wisdom.” (11:2) The foolishness of anger also corresponds with this because the angry man, as Aristotle teaches, uses even reason in searching for revenge for an injury, but he uses it wrongly when he does not guard the moderation of reason in his revenge. The perversion of reason is foolishness. Other men are timid and these are prone to envy. So he continues, “and jealousy slays the simple.” He says this with good reason. For envy is nothing else but sadness about the prosperity of another in that the prosperity of the other is thought to impede one’s own prosperity. When someone does not think that he can prosper together with others who are also prospering, this happens from smallness of soul. So it is clear that man, in whatever condition he exists, is prone to some sin. For it would be easy to adduce things similar to these concerning other sins.

By all he has said up to now, Eliphaz intends to prove that adversities in this world do not happen to anyone except as a punishment for sin. There seem to be two objections against this. One is the fact that many just men seem to be subject to adversities, but he seemed to have answered this objection by showing that men easily sin. The second objection is that some wicked men prosper in this world. He intends to answer this objection next by the manner in which their prosperity superabounds to their own evil. So he says, “I have seen the fool,” who is the man who takes pride in his riches, “taking root,” to appear firmly established in the prosperity of this world. But I did not approve of his prosperity. Rather, “I suddenly cursed his beauty.” Consider here that he speaks about a man using the metaphor of a tree, whose roots produce beauty in the branches and the fruit when they are firmly in the ground. He therefore compares the prosperity of a man rooted in riches to the beauty of a tree, which he curses in pronouncing it to be evil and harmful. As Qoheleth says, “There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun, riches kept by their owner to his harm.” (5:12) He adds, “suddenly,” to show that he in no way doubts this opinion.

He demonstrates the evils which proceed from the prosperity of the fool first as to his sons. For it frequently happens that when some rich and powerful man raises his sons without discipline which is characteristic of the fool, his sons fall into many dangers. Sometimes, for example, they are destroyed without judgment because of hatreds which are stirred up against them. Or when they do not take care but use pleasures inordinately, they even lose their lives. Apropos to this he says, “His sons are far from health.” Sometimes, when they inflict calumnies and injuries on others, they are brought to trial before judges and are condemned. As to this he says, “They will be crushed at the city gate,” where judges give sentence for judges at one time used to sit at the city gates. Because foolish men do not hesitate to offend others when they prosper, they find no help in adversities, and so he continues, “and there will be no one to deliver them.”

But someone could object, “I do not care what happens to my sons as long as I enjoy prosperity in the world.” As a second consideration then, he treats bad things which befall the fool both in his property and in his person saying, “The hungry will eat his harvest.” For frequently foolish men who have a lot of money oppress the poor, who usually are not strong enough to sustain very many physical burdens and so are almost compelled by need to steal the goods of the rich. Men like these live so extravagant a way of life that they usually lose their strength of soul through the delights of life and become unfit for work. So they are easily destroyed by the battle hardened poor. He therefore says, “Armed men will seize him,” as though without any resistance. What he has said about the harvest can be understood universally and so he continues, “and the thirsty will pant after his wealth,” i.e. men desirous of wealth.

After he answers these objections, he finally adduces an argument to prove his principal proposition, namely that adversities in this world do not happen to someone except as a punishment for sin. His argument is this. Whatever happens on earth, happens from proper and determined causes. If therefore adversities happen to someone in this world, this must have a determined cause, which can only be sin. So he says, “Nothing on earth happens without cause,” for we observe that all effects happen from a determined cause. From this fact, he concludes, “For affliction does not arise from the dust.” This is a metaphor. For some plants are produced without seed. These are said to be produced by spontaneous generation from the soil itself. Anything which does not appear to have a proper cause, like a plant reproducing without seed is by a kind of likeness metaphorically said to arise from the soil. Affliction, i.e. adversity, does not arise from the soil, i.e. without cause. From the fact that he said, “Nothing on earth happens without cause,” it is really clear that everything has a natural disposition suited to its own proper operation, from which it is apparent that the natural dispositions of things are not without a cause, but happen for a determined end. So Eliphaz says, “but man is born to toil and the bird to fly.” For just as the proper motion which the nature of a bird requires is that it fly, so the bird must have the instruments from its nature suitable for flying, namely wings and feathers. Man however because he had reason which enabled him to discover all the necessary aids to his life by his own effort, was naturally made without the aids which nature gives to the other animals, namely a covering, arms and other things of this kind which he can make for himself by the industry of his reason.

The Second Lesson: Providence Governs the World

8 This is why I entreat the Lord and set my eloquence before God. 9 He does great things, which are unsearchable, wonderful and without number. 10 He brings rain on the face of the earth, and irrigates everything with water. 11 He sets those who are lowly on high and he lifts up the mournful with favor to safety. 12 He frustrates the desires of evildoers so that their hands achieve no success. 13 He surprises the wise in their own craftiness and dissipates the plan of evil men; 14 they come upon darkness in the daylight and grope at noonday as at night. 15 But he will make the poor safe from the sword of their mouth and the needy from the violent hand. 16 He will be the hope of the poor and injustice will shut her mouth.

Because Eliphaz had proposed that all things which happen on earth have a determined cause and had proved this by the fact that natural things appear to be disposed to an end, because the very fact that natural things exist to attain an end is the most powerful argument for showing that the world is ruled by divine providence and that all things do not happen by chance, Eliphaz therefore immediately concludes from the premises about the government of divine providence. Note that if there is no divine providence, prayer would be without fruit, and God would not have knowledge of man’s deeds. One who concedes the rule of divine providence, must still admit these things. Therefore, from the fact that all things which happen on earth are for an end, Eliphaz concludes that it is necessary to concede the rule of providence. “This is why I entreat the Lord,” as if: Since God disposes human affairs, this prayer is fruitful. Further, “and I set my eloquence before God,” since God knows human deeds, words and thoughts. To strengthen this conclusion, he adds those things which especially demonstrate divine providence.

Note that those who deny providence say that everything which appears in the world occurs from the necessity of natural causes, for example, the necessity of heat and cold, of gravity and lightness or something like this. Divine providence is most powerfully demonstrated by those things which cannot be explained by natural principles like these, one of which is the determined quantity of the bodies of this world. For no reason can be assigned from some natural principle why the sun or the moon or the earth should be a certain mass (quantity) and not a greater or lesser one. Thus it is necessary to say that this determination of masses is from the ordering of some intellect and he discusses this when he says, “He does great things,” i.e. he puts order in a thing by determining mass. Further, if everything were to come about from the necessity of natural principles, since natural principles are known to us, we would have a way of investigating everything in this world. There are some things in this world however, the knowledge of which we cannot arrive at by any investigation, for example, spiritual substances, the distances of the stars, and other things like this. So everything clearly does not proceed from the necessity of natural principles, but is instituted by some superior intellect and so he says, “unsearchable.” Likewise, there are also some things which we see whose nature we can in no way discuss, for example, that the stars have a certain configuration in this part of the heaven and another in another part of the heaven. Hence it is clear that this certainly does not arise from natural principles, but from some higher intellect, and he adds, “and wonderful things.” For the unsearchable and the wonderful differ in that the unsearchable is hidden in itself and cannot be investigated, but the wonderful is indeed seen, though its cause cannot be investigated.

Note also that some held that the disposition of things proceeded from God according to a certain measured order. For instance, only one first effect which already had something of composition and plurality proceeds from one first simple thing. Thus from this (i.e. the One) two or three things proceed which are still less simple and so on so that the whole multiplicity of things proceeds in grades in this way. According to this position, the whole arrangement of the universe does not happen from the ordering of the divine intellect but from some necessity of nature. Hence to answer this argument, he says “without number” either because things have been produced in being without necessity of numerical order or because innumerable things have been produced immediately by God. This is especially apparent in the first heaven where there are very many stars. Thus Eliphaz shows that the production of things is from God and not from the necessity of nature.

Consequently he shows that the course of created things is governed by divine providence. First in natural things which seems to have been made for the use of man and the other animals, although the natural order of the elements seems to demand another thing. For if someone should consider heaviness and lightness in the elements, clearly earth naturally lies beneath water, water to air and air to fire. Some of the earth is uncovered from water is found to be immediately in contact with the air; otherwise animals which breathe could not live on land. Further, so that the earth uncovered by water might not be rendered unfruitful and uninhabitable with drought, it is watered in two ways by God: first, of course, by rain which falls from above upon the earth and to this he says, “he brings rain on the face of the earth.” In another way by springs, rivers and brooks, with which the earth is irrigated, whose source is found under the earth in the same way that the source of rain is found in the heavens. So he says, “and irrigates everything with water.”

Then he shows the activity of divine providence even in human affairs. If human affairs were to run their course as their arrangement seems to demand, there would appear to be little or no trace of divine providence in them. But when human affairs run their course in another way, foolish men who do not consider higher causes, attribute this to chance or fortune. Solomon personifies them when he says in Qoheleth, “Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the men of skill; but time and chance happen to all.” (9:11) Eliphaz however refers this to a higher cause, namely, to the providence of God. First, as to the oppressed who are raised up from the lowest station to a higher place, he says, “he sets those who are lowly,” i.e. those cast down, “on high;” and the sorrowful are born to joy, and regarding this he says, “and he lifts up the mournful to safety with his favor.” Second he speaks of those who oppress others. These are of two sorts. Some openly oppress others through force, and as to these he says, “He frustrates the designs of evildoers, so that their hands achieve no success,” because they are impeded in accomplishing their works by God so that they cannot bring their evil intention into effect. Some however deceive others by cunning. As for these he says, “He surprises the wise in their own craftiness.” because what the cunning plan go contrary to their design,” and dissipates the plan of evil men,” when what they seemed to wisely plan cannot be effected because of impediments put in their way from on high. Sometimes not only are their cunning plans impeded in deed, but even their minds are clouded so that they do not discover better things in taking counsel. So he says, “They come upon darkness in the daytime,” because in something which is clear, they are completely ignorant of what they are doing,” and grope at noonday like in the night,” in things which are in no way doubtful, they hesitate as though they were obscure.

To prove these things seem to happen from divine providence, he goes on to describe what useful purpose they serve. For when the cunning of evildoers is impeded, the poor are freed from their deceptions. This is why he adds, “But he will make the poor safe from the sword of their mouth.” For those who are cunning in evil often seduce others by flattering and deceptive language and these words are compared to a harmful sword. As the Psalm says, “Their tongue is a sharpened sword.” (56:5) But when the works of powerful evil men are impeded by God, the poor are clearly also saved and so he goes on to say, “the needy from the violent hand.” Two things follow from this. One is that men, who are powerless in their own right must confide in divine power because God has care over human affairs, and so he says, “he will be the hope of the poor.” The other is that powerful and evil men hold themselves back lest they be totally ruined and so the text continues, “and injustice will shut her mouth,” i.e. so that it does not completely waste itself in the harm of others.

The Third Lesson God will pardon Job if he recognizes his Sin

17 Behold, happy is the man the Lord reproves. Therefore despise not the chastisements of the Almighty. 18 For he wounds, and he binds up; he smites, and his hands will heal. 19 He will deliver you from six troubles; in the seventh, no evil shall touch you. 20 In famine, he will redeem you from death; and in war from the stroke of the sword. 21 You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue; and you shall not fear damage when it comes. 22 You shall laugh at destruction and famine and you shall not fear the beasts of the earth. 23 You shall be in league with the stones of the field and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you. 24 You will know that your tent is at peace; seeing your likeness you will not sin. 25 Your children will be like the grass of the earth. 26 You shall come to your grave in a ripe old age as the stock of grain is reaped in due season. 27 Lo, what we have investigated is true. Once heard, study this with an attentive mind.

Eliphaz had accused Blessed Job in what he said already above both of impatience and presumption because he declared himself innocent. Now he tries to remove the despair he thought he perceived in the words which Job used to detest his life. Note then that concluding from what he already said in affirming divine providence as much in natural as in human affairs, he takes as true that all adversities happen to men by divine judgment. But they happen to those unable to be corrected as a final condemnation and to those who amend their lives because of these adversities as a correction. He maintains that these latter are blessed saying, “Behold, happy is the man the Lord reproves.” For if correction which comes from men who cannot yet know perfectly the measure and manner in which correction can be saving and who are not almighty in taking away all evil and establishing good is saving, much more ought the correction of the almighty and all-knowing God to be reputed saving and happy. From this idea he concludes to the proposition, “Therefore, despise not the chastisements of the Almighty,” as if to say: Although you suffer this adversity from God because of your sins, yet you should think that this is a kind of rebuke, as it were, from God to correct you and so you should not despise this adversity to the point of hating your life because of it.

He explains the reason when he says, “For he wounds,” with greater adversity,” and he binds up,” by taking away evil and restoring good. “He smites,” with lesser adversity,” and his hands,” i.e., his works, “will heal”, i.e. liberate you. Eliphaz, then, did not maintain that he was blessed who is corrected by God because of the afterlife because he did not believe in it, but because of the present life during which man obtains immunity from evils and abundance of goods after the correction. Consequently, he next speaks about the immunity from evil, “He will deliver you from six troubles; in the seventh no evil shall touch you.” Since all time is represented in seven days, a whole is commonly designated by the number seven. The sense would be that no adversity will harm the one corrected by God after correction. Since according to Eliphaz’s opinion the more free one is from fault, the less he would suffer adversity in this world according to his opinion, he says, “in the seventh, no evil shall touch you.” He means that before correction, man is not free from adversity; but when he begins to be free, he is touched by evil, but not crushed while God is freeing him. After perfect liberation he is not touched at all. This is true for the mind which is weighed down by worldly adversities as long as it places its end in worldly affairs. When it removes its love from them and begins to love God, it is sad in deed in adversities, but is not weighed down by them because it does not have its hope in this world. When it becomes completely contemptuous of the world, then worldly adversities scarcely touch it. But this opinion is not true for the body which is how Eliphaz understood it because the most perfect men sometimes suffer very grave adversities, as the Psalmist says, “Because of you, we suffered death all the day long,” (43:22), which is said about the Apostles.

Since he had mentioned seven tribulations, he now enumerates them. Note that sometimes adversity is the result of a particular danger for an individual person, which is sometimes even against his corporeal life which is sometimes taken away by withdrawing the necessities of life. To describe this he says, “In famine, he will redeem you from death,” as if to say: You will suffer famine in being reproved by God, but God will free you and you will not die from this. This is the first trial. Sometimes life is lost by the violence of someone actively inflicting harm. To describe this he says, “and in war from the stroke,” i.e. the power, “of the sword,” as it say: For war will come upon you but you will not be delivered into the power of the sword. This is the second trial. Corporeal life is also taken away by natural death, but this does not figure among the trials since the nature of man demands this. However, sometimes there is a personal danger which consists in the loss of the honor which he enjoys in civil life. About this he says, “You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue.” The scourge of the tongue is the detraction of someone seriously trying to destroy another’s reputation. A man is then hidden from the scourge when his deeds which form the basis of this defamation are hidden from the detractor. This is the third trial. Sometimes there is adversity from a more general danger, which threatens persons or property. This happens to persons, for example, when the army of the enemy from whom men commonly fear death or captivity unexpectedly overruns their country. Expressing this trial he says, “and you shall not fear damage when it comes,” as it to say: You will not fear when damage to your country from an enemy threatens. A common danger threatens property either by the barrenness of the earth in time of famine, or by some devastation of the crops by the enemy. As to these trials he says, “And you shall laugh at destruction and famine.” This means: you will have an abundance which will be a subject of joy for you. In this, then, he treats the fifth and the sixth trial. Sometimes there is adversity from the attack of brute animals either individually or in groups. About this he says, “and you shall not fear the beasts of the earth.” This seems to be the seventh trial in which evil will not touch him.

He lists the abundance of goods after the immunity from evil. First, as to the fertility of the earth, he says, “You shall be in league with the stones of the field,” i.e. the stony and sterile land will bear fruit for you. As Deuteronomy says, “Glean honey from the rock,” and so on. (32:13) Second, as to the brute animals he says, “and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you,” for they will not attack you. These two verses can also be explained in another way. The stones can mean hard and rude men; and the beasts, cruel men. Third, he speaks about the members of his household saying, “and you will know that your tent is at peace.” because the members of your household will be at peace with each other Fourth, he speaks about his wife in a special way saying, “Seeing your likeness you will not sin,” as if to say: You will have a virtuous and peaceful wife with whom you can dwell intimately without sin. Fifth, as to his children, “Your children will be like the grass of the earth,” i.e. you will have many children and grandchildren. Sixth, as to the peace and quiet of death he says, “You shall come to your grave in a ripe old age,” in prosperity, not despoiled of your property, “like the stock of grain is reaped in due season,” as though not anticipated by a sudden and untimely death.

Finally, he approves what he has said, “Lo, what we have investigated is true.” Since he thought Job was so prostrate with sadness that he would not think about these things much, he gets his attention back saying, “Once heard, study this with an attentive mind.

 

CHAPTER SIX: THE DISCOURSE OF JOB

The First Lesson Job is Wounded by God and Desires not to Exist

1 Then Job answered saying: 2 Would that my sins for which I have merited anger and the calamity which I suffer were weighed in a balance, 3 like the sands of the sea. This still could not equal them and so my words were full of bitterness. 4 Because the arrows of the Lord stick fast in me and their pain takes my breath away. God’s terror stands arrayed against me. 5 Does a wild donkey bray when it finds grass or an ox low when it stands in a stable full of fodder? 6 Can tasteless food be eaten without salt? Or can someone taste what once tasted brings death? 7 What my soul did not wish to touch before, has now become food in my anguish. 8 Who will grant that my prayer find fulfillment? May God grant my hope! 9 May he who began this, destroy me! May he free his hand and cut me down! 10 This thought, at least, may give me comfort: that in afflicting me with pain, he will not spare me and I will not deny the Holy One’s decrees. 11 But what kind of strength do I have to resist? When will the end come so that I can act patiently? 12 My strength is not the strength of a stone nor is my flesh of bronze.

Eliphaz had clearly noted in earlier verses three things in the lament of Job: despair because he seemed to desire not to exist; impatience or immoderate sorrow because of the sighs and moans which he said he was enduring; and presumption because hr asserted his innocence. The whole discourse of Eliphaz in the previous chapters was about these three things. In his discourse he proposed for consideration the frailty of the human condition among other things to demonstrate that Job was subject to sin and should have accepted his misfortunes. Job takes the beginning of his response from this point. For it is certain that because of the frailty of the human condition, no man is free from sin however just he may appear to be. Nevertheless, in just men sins are not grave and mortal sins but trivial and venial sins which occur as a result of negligence and deception. If what Eliphaz strives to prove were true, i.e. the adversities of this present life were the proper punishments for sin, it would follow that men would suffer grave adversities because of grave sins and light adversities for light sins. Thus just men would never be subject to grave adversities, which is clearly false. Job proposes this argument, then, against the scientific discussion of Eliphaz and so the text continues, “The Job answered saying: Would that my sins for which I have merited anger and the calamity which I suffer were weighed in a balance.,” as if to say: I cannot say that there are no sins in me, yet I am confident that there is no mortal sin in me, but venial sins. If then I merited this sort of anger from God, as punishment for such sins, my calamity and my sin should be weighed in the scale of justice so that one can correspond to the other according to the measure of equality. But the adversity appears to be much greater and so he continues, “Like the sands on the sea,” which means without parallel, “this”, i.e. the calamity, “could not equal them,” i.e. if the opinion of Eliphaz were true and the adversities of this world are inflicted only because of sin, since it is apparent that many wicked men suffer light adversities, Job’s sins seem next to nothing in comparison with theirs.

From this he goes on to excuse himself from the sadness which he had expressed in words saying, “And so my words were full of bitterness,” with the conclusion he infers that his pain was caused by the magnitude of his suffering. He adds that there are two causes of pain. Pain is sometimes caused by things someone has already endured, sometimes by things he is afraid he will endure. He first then assigns the cause of his pain resulting from things which he had already endured saying, “Because the arrows of God stuck fast in me.” In this he demonstrates that he had been afflicted unexpectedly; for an arrow comes suddenly from far off. He shows the greatness of the wound as he says, “their pain drains my spirit,” i.e. the pain has not permitted me to breathe, but totally robs me of whatever strength and consolation could have been in me. Then he shows the cause of the pain from what he was afraid he would suffer saying, “God’s terror stands arrayed against me.” For the afflicted are usually consoled by the hope of a better state, but when after one affliction comes, one fears similar or greater afflictions again, he seems to have no consolation left.

The objection could be made: you certainly have cause for suffering, but you should not burst out in words of pain from it. Against this objection Job responds using examples which are found in other animals. For man is like other animals in sensitive nature, and so those things which sensitive nature naturally entails must be present in man, as in the other animals. What is natural cannot be totally suppressed. In other animals one finds that affliction of heart is expressed with the voice, and he notes this when he says, “Does a wild donkey bray when it finds grass or an ox low when it stands in a stable full of fodder?” He implies the answer ‘no’. The donkey brays and the ox lows when it lacks the necessary food. It seems natural for animals to vocally express interior torment.

On the other hand, someone might concede that it is natural to express pain vocally conceived, but as the Stoics thought, it does not pertain to the wise man to conceive sadness in his heart for any reason whatsoever. Job demonstrates this to be against sensitive nature. For sense cannot but repulsed by the unsuitable and the harmful. So he says, “Can tasteless food be taken without salt?” implying the answer no, because such foods without flavor are not fit to delight the sense of taste. Similarly, the heart of man cannot freely tolerate things which are not pleasant, much less things which are bitter and harmful. So he continues, “Or can someone taste what once tasted brings death?,” as if to say, ‘No’ here. Just as this is impossible for the exterior sense, so it is impossible that what is apprehended by the interior sense as harmful should be received without sadness.

 But though it is true the wise man suffers sadness, nevertheless his reason is not absorbed by this sadness. Job shows as a consequence that although he himself might suffer sadness, he still had the greatest concern and caution to protect himself against sadness, so as to be led by sadness to do something evil. To avoid this, he preferred death. To give some expression to this he says, “What my soul did not touch before has now become food in my anguish.” because what my soul formerly abhorred, it now desires as pleasant. He shows this same thing when he says, “Who will grant that my prayer find fulfillment?” He shows that this prayer is made not only with the lips, but also from the bottom of his heart when he continues, “may God grant me my hope!” He expresses the content of the prayer saying, “May he who began this,” i.e. to afflict me, “destroy me,” in death. He continues, “May he free his hand and cut me down.” The hand of God expresses the divine power by which God has afflicted him, and God binds his hand in a way from his mercy and by his will and when he does not afflict him. However, God frees his hand in a sense when the divine chastisement strikes him is directed to killing him.

Since he said that the things he did not formerly want to touch had now become his food, he shows this must be understood to mean that death which was abhorrent to him, has now become something pleasant. So he continues, “This thought, at least, may give me comfort: that in afflicting me with pain, he (God) will not spare me,” i.e. he does not take away his hand, but leads me to death. He shows why he hopes for this when he continues, “And I will not deny the Holy One’s decrees,” i.e. the decrees of God which are the judgments and sentences by which he afflicted me. For Job feared that he might be led into impatience by his many afflictions, so that his reason could not restrain his sadness. Indeed it is the nature of impatience when reason is so dominated by sadness that one contradicts divine judgments. If, however, someone should suffer sadness in the sensitive part of the soul, but reason remains in conformity with the divine will, this is not the defect of impatience. So Eliphaz accused Job without reason when he said, “And now that the scourge has come on you, you too have fallen away.” (4:5) For although he was sad, he still had not been wanting.

Next he gives the reason from his frailty that he would be led to contradict the decrees of the Holy One. Fear of this kind can be overcome by two causes. First, if the strength of reason is so great in itself that it could be overcome in any way. This is the case in those whose free will has been confirmed in grace. But he did not feel this kind of strength in himself. So he says, “But what kind of strength do I have to resist?” any sort of trial. Second, fear could be removed if it were necessary to tolerate trials and sadnesses for only a short time. To show this is not true with him he says,” When will the end come so that I can comport myself patiently?” He seems to mean here: what end has been put for my trials so that I can remain patient while I wait for it? To explain this he says, “My strength is not the strength of a stone?” For a stone experiences strength without experiencing feeling, but a man experiences strength along with the emotional experience of harmful things. So he continues, “nor is my flesh bronze”, i.e. without feeling because however strong the reason of a mortal man may be, he still must experience the feeling of pain on the part of the flesh. By this he refutes the attempted rebuke of Eliphaz who censured the very existence of sadness in Blessed Job. For although Blessed Job had strength of mind, still he would have had the sensation of pain on the part of the flesh, which causes sadness. At the same time he refutes the opinion of the Stoics in this who said that the wise man is not sad. Eliphaz seems to have shared their opinion. Blessed Job intends to defend the fact that the wise man is truly sad but is zealous through reason not to be led to do anything unfitting. This is what the Peripatetics taught.

The Second Lesson: Job Feels Betrayed by his Friends

13 Behold, I cannot help myself and those to whom I look for help deserted me. 14 He who takes mercy from a neighbor and forsakes the fear of the Lord. 15 My brothers have passed me by like a torrent, like a stream coursing through the valleys. 16 Those who fear frost will be covered by snow. At the time they are broken up, they will perish; 17 and they will vanish from their place as though dried up. 18 The paths they walk on are confused; they will walk in emptiness and will perish. 19 Look for the paths to Teman, the roads to Saba and wait for a little while. 20 They are embarrassed because I hoped for them and they came to me and were covered with shame. 21 Now you have come to me and in only seeing my disease, you are afraid. 22 Have I said: Bring me and give me a gift from your property? 23 Free me from the clutches of the enemy, or ransom me from the hand of the mighty? 24 Teach me and I will say no more? And if I perhaps have been ignorant: Instruct me? 25 Why do you slander true ideas? For none of you can accuse me. You compose speeches only to rebuke me, 26 You join your words together and you cast your words to the wind. 27 You seize the orphan and strive to ruin your friend. 28 Despite this, finish what you began to say so that the truth may come to light by mutual discussion Lend an ear! See if I am lying. 29 Answer please, without contention and 30 in speaking, judge what you think is right. You will find no evil on my tongue, nor will there be stupidity in my mouth.

Job had shown in the preceding verses that he felt pain and spoke words from his pain in conformity with reason, but yet he was not carried away by his pain in the things which he suffered. But because man, although he suffers some adversities, sometimes guards himself by consolations and help in both himself and in others against these adversities so as to feel little or no pain, blessed Job wants to show that he is destitute of aids of this kind. He does this to put in more evident relief that he spoke rationally when he expressed his pain in speech. So he first shows that he was destitute of the aforementioned remedies from his own part when he says, “Behold, I cannot help myself.” For even if he had lost some of his goods, he could have tolerated this without sadness if he could have helped himself to recover these lost goods and so revenge the injury inflicted. But he was not able to do this when he had lost all his riches, children and even the health of his own body.

Further, many things we cannot do ourselves, we can do through friends. So Job shows in the second place that he was also bereft of the help of his friends when he says, “Those to whom I looked for help,” i.e. family and servants,” deserted me.” To show they are blameworthy for this, he continues, “He takes away mercy from a neighbor,” namely in the time of sorrow, “forsakes the fear of the Lord,” that is, the reverence due to God, because of whom and in whom one loves his neighbor. As John says, “Whoever does not love his brother whom he does see, how can he love the God whom he cannot see?” (1 John 4:2)

Next he shows his family has abandoned him when he says, “My brothers,” i.e. my relatives, “have passed me by.” He uses the analogy of those who walk along together. If one falls in a ditch, the others pass by nevertheless abandoning him there. In a certain sense, they would be excused for this if they leave him once they have tried to help him because of weariness because they despair of helping him. But he shows that these men are without excuse, because they immediately and suddenly deserted him. He shows this when he says, “like a torrent, like a stream coursing through the valleys,” which moves very quickly. That they might not believe they did this with impunity, he adds, “Those who fear frost will be covered by snow,” as if to say: He who fails in justice and mercy because of fear for a lesser danger, exposes himself to still greater dangers. So, Job’s relatives, too, who passed him by unwilling to show any compassion for him, will themselves sustain suffering in their own losses. He continues showing their danger will be in the future and without remedy, “At the time when they will be broken up,” i.e., when they will suffer dangers, “they will perish,” totally, “and they will vanish from their place as though dried up.” He uses the metaphor of snow, which he has already mentioned, for it does not immediately melt with the first heat when it is very hard and frozen, but when not yet frozen, it melts immediately when touched by the rays of the sun and becomes slush. He shows this saying, “and they will vanish from their place, as though they were dried up,” i.e., immediately their whole prosperity will vanish at the first assault of adversity as the snow does at the first heat. He shows the cause of this when he continues, “The paths they follow are tangled up.” What is entangled goes back on itself with a kind of twist and turn, and so the footpaths of those men are entangled who seek nothing in their kinsmen and friends except their own advantage. Because of this they simulate friendship in time of prosperity but they pass by in time of adversity. Men who deceitfully seek their own advantage very often fall short in what they hope to gain and so he adds, “They will walk in emptiness.” Men are said to walk in emptiness when they do not reach the goal of their walking. Not only will their hope be null, but the opposite will befall them, and so he adds, “and will perish,” i.e. will be totally destroyed.

Therefore, he did not have support in himself, in his servants or in his relatives. As a further consequence, he demonstrates that he did not have help from his other friends saying, “Look for the paths to Teman, the roads to Saba,” lands where he seemed to have had his greatest friends, for even Eliphaz had come from Teman. “And wait for a short while,” to see if any friends come by these roads to bring me help. You will not see this because, “They are embarrassed,” to come to me; “because I hoped for them” i.e. because there was a time when I should have hoped for help from them. This is because men who do not want to help someone are ashamed to visit them if they think they will ask them for help reasonably. “They came,” some of them, “to me and they were covered with shame,” because they did not give me help when they recognized that they should have. It is not surprising for others to refuse to help me since even you, who seem wiser, fail to do it. So he continues, “Now you have come to see me and in only seeing my disease, you are afraid,” but perhaps you feel obliged to help me. But do not be afraid, because I haven’t asked you for help in anything, nor do I even request you to assist me with money. This is the meaning of, “Have I said: Bring me and give me a gift from your property?” Nor have I sought aid from you in war against enemies, and so he adds, “Free me from the clutches of an enemy, or ransom me from hand of the mighty?” Nor have I sought the help of instruction from you. So this is the meaning of: Have I said to you: “Teach me’?” in speculative matters, “and I will say no more, and if perhaps I have been ignorant: Instruct me?” in practical actions. Not only do you offer me no help, but you even afflict me further with your words as much as you can. So he adds, “Why do you slander true ideas?” which I spoke first in my lamentation and which Eliphaz seemed to reprove as has been said. He disproves all the reasons which can excuse a detractor to justify his conduct to show this detraction is inexcusable. The first of these is the censure someone in greater authority makes of another for a fault. He disproves this is the case saying, “For none of you can accuse me.” The second is when someone criticizes someone else for his own good and not exacerbate the situation. He refers to this saying, “You compose speeches only to rebuke me,” and not for my good “you join fine words together,” since you carefully compose them so that your words may not seem lightly spoken. The third is when someone strengthens the arguments he uses against someone else with efficacious reasons. He excludes this saying, “You cast your words to the wind,” as if to say: Your words are empty for they do not have the support of reason. The fourth is when someone censures someone in that time and in a state when it can be pursued he will become better and not worse as a result. But if someone wants to censure another when he is perplexed in soul and is disposed to anger, he does not seen to want his amendment so much but his ruin. So he says, “You seize the orphan, and strive to ruin your friend.” He refers to himself as an orphan because set down in his sadness he was destitute of help.

He continues lest anyone think that he says this because he is afraid to argue with them because he could not be confident in the truth of his opinion and the justice of his case, “Despite this, finish what you began to say,” so that the truth can come to light from mutual debate. So he goes on, “Lend an ear,” i.e. listen, “and see,” i.e. consider, “if I am lying.? For the first impediment to finding the truth through debate is when someone does not want to hear what his adversary is saying. The second impediment is when he responds to what he has heard in a loud and abusive way. To exclude this he says, “Answer, please, without quarreling.” To quarrel, according to St. Ambrose, is “the attack on truth accompanied by relying on shouting.” The third impediment exists when someone in a disputation does not aim at the truth but at victory or glory, as happens in law cases or sophistical debates. “In speaking, judge what is right,” i.e. to concede what seems to be true to you, and deny those things which seem false. “And” if you do this, “You will find no evil on my tongue,” i.e. anything contrary to the justice which is due to one’s neighbor. “Nor stupidity in my mouth,” i.e. anything against the wisdom by which one thinks correctly about God. For Job intended to defend and prove the truth about both divine and human matters.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN: THE HUMAN CONDITION

The First Lesson: Life is Combat and Drudgery

1 Man’s life on earth is combat and his day is like the day of the hireling. 2 Like the slave, he sighs for the shade, or the workingman for the end of his work. 3 So I, too, have passed empty months and I have counted sleepless nights. 4 If I sleep, I say: When will I arise? And again I will wait for evening, and I will be filled with pains until dark.

Since Eliphaz spoke before (5:17-27) to move Blessed Job from despair, he promised him earthly happiness if he would not reject the rebuke of the Lord. Here then, after Blessed Job demonstrated the rational causes of his sorrow, wants to further demonstrate that this aforementioned consolation of Eliphaz based on promising him the recovery of earthly happiness is unfitting. He first demonstrates this from the condition of the present life and then, later (v.5) from his own individual condition.

The opinions of men have differed about the condition of this present life. Some held that ultimate happiness was experienced in this life. The words of Eliphaz seem to follow this opinion. The ultimate end of man is in that place where he expects the final retribution for good or evil. So if man is rewarded by God for good deeds and punished for evil deeds in this life, as Eliphaz is eager to prove, it seems necessary to conclude that the ultimate end of man is in this life. But, Job intends to disprove this opinion and he wants to show that the present life of man does not have the ultimate end in it, but is compared to this end as motion is compared to rest and the journey to the destination. He therefore compares this state to those states of man which tend to some end, namely the state of soldiers who tend to victory in military campaigns. So he says, “Man’s life on earth is combat,” as if to say: The present life which we live on earth is not like a state of victory, but like the state of a military campaign. He also compares it to the state of a hireling, as so he adds, “and his day like the day of the hireling,” i.e. the time of man living on earth. He compares the present life to these two states because of two things which threaten man in this present life. First, he must resist impediments and harmful things and on account of these he is compared to warfare. He must also do works useful for the end and on account of this he is compared to a hired man. From both images, one is given to understand that the present life is subject to divine providence. For soldiers fight under a general and hired men wait for their pay from an employer. Also, the falsity of the opinion which Eliphaz defended is plain enough in these examples. For it is clear that the general of the army does not spare the vigorous soldiers from the dangers or toils, but the whole nature of warfare demands at times that he exposes them to both very great dangers and tasks. After the victory has been won, the general honors those men more who proved more vigorous. In the same way, the father of a family entrusts the more difficult tasks to the better hired men, but on pay day he gives higher salaries to them. So divine providence does not dispose things so that the good are more freed from adversities and labors of the present life, but rewards them more at the end.

Therefore, since the whole position of Eliphaz is undermined by these arguments, Job intends to strengthen them and demonstrates them efficaciously from reason. For clearly, each thing rests when it attains its ultimate end. So once the human will has attained its ultimate end, it must rest in that and must not be moved to desire anything else. Our experience is contrary to this in the present life. For man always desires the future as though he were not happy with the things he has in the present. So clearly the ultimate end is not in this life, but this life is ordered to another end like warfare is ordered to victory and the hired man’s day is ordered to his pay. Note however that what we have now is not sufficient in this present life, but desire tends to the future for two reasons. First because of the afflictions of the present life, and so he introduces the example of the slave desiring the shade, saying “Like the slave,” worn out from the heat, “he sighs for the shade,” which refreshes him. Second, from the defect of the perfect final good one does not possess here. So he uses the example of the hired man saying, “or the workman, for the end to his work.” For the perfect good is the end of man. “So I have passed empty months,” for I considered the past months passed empty for me, because I did not obtain final perfection in them. “and nights,” i.e. when I should have been resting from my afflictions. “I have counted sleepless,” i.e. I considered them sleepless because I was delayed in them from the attainment of my end.

 He next explains how his months have been empty and his nights sleepless adding, “If I sleep,” when it was time for sleeping at night, “I say, ‘When will I arise,’” longing for day. “And again,” when day has come, “I wait for the evening,” as he is always tending to the future in his desire. This desire is indeed the common experience of all men living on earth, but men feel it more or less in the measure in which they are affected by either sorrows or joys. For he who lives in joy, desires the future less; but he who lives in sorrow, desires it more. So Job passionately shows this desire for the future is in him as he continues, “I will be filled with pain until dark,” for because of these pains, the present time is tedious for me and I desire the future more.

The Second Lesson: The Pains of Life

5 Decay clothes my flesh, and the filth of dust; my skin is dried up and wrinkled. 6 My days have passed swifter than a warp is cut off by a weaver and they have vanished leaving no hope behind. 7 Remember that my life is but a breath and my eye will not turn back to look on good things 8 nor will the eye of man look on me; Your eyes will be on me and I shall not endure. 9 As a cloud dissolves and is gone, so he who goes down below will not ascend again. 10 He will never return home again and his place will know him no more.

Blessed Job had demonstrated above that the consolation in which Eliphaz offered the promise of happiness in this earthly existence was unfitting. He first demonstrated this from the general condition of the life of man on the earth. Now he intends to demonstrate that the same consolation is unfitting considering his own individual condition. He proposes two things which preclude his hoping for prosperity on earth. The first is the weakness of the body which he was suffering. When one is limited by grave weakness of body, nothing can happen which can make him happy in this life, and so he says, “Decay clothes my flesh,” as if to say: My body is covered on all sides with infectious sores like a body is covered on all sides by a garment. Since wounds tended in the beginning heal, he shows that his sores were neglected when he says, “and the filth of dust,” for they were not tended in the proper way because he was literally sitting in a dung heap, as the text already shows. (2:8) One can sometimes hope for health even if his sores have been neglected because he has a strong constitution. But Job lacked the natural strength, and so he says, “my skin is dried up and wrinkled,” because the natural moisture has already been exhausted in it either by old age or by weakness. So there seems to be no place in this life where I can expect to find happiness anymore. The second is because the greater part of his life was already past and therefore very little time remained so he could not hope for a great deal of happiness during that time. Because of this he says, “My days have passed swifter than warp is cut off by a weaver.” The life of man is in a certain sense like something woven. Just as a weaver weaving a warf joins threads to threads to arrive at the product of cloth, and when he makes a cloth he cuts it from the loom, so days are added to days to complete the life of man. When his life is completed, it is taken away. Yet he says the days of man pass away more swiftly than the cloth is cut away because the weaver rests from time to time in the work of weaving, but the time of man’s life slips away continuously without interruption.

But one might object: although the greater part of his life has passed by, Job could still hope to return to the state of his past life. For some have advanced the theory that after death, when the course of many years has been completed, man returns to the same stages of life which he had lived before. For example, Plato in future times will lecture at Athens and will do the same things which he did before. So although man has lived the greater part of his life, he could hope to be restored to happiness in this earthly life. To remove this possibility, Job continues, “and they have vanished, leaving no hope behind,” of returning to his former days. He had already seemed to address God in the text saying, “The life of man on earth is combat.” (v.1) Now to prove his point he adds, “Remember that my life is but a breath,” like the wind. For as the wind passes by and does not return afterwards, so the life of man does not return when it has passed away. He continues in this vein, “and my eye will not turn back to look on good things,” of the earth which I once possessed but now have lost. In the same way that when my life has passed I will return to see earthly goods, so I will not be seen by any eyes on earth. So he goes on, “Nor will the eye of man look on me.” He posits these two things to show that he will not return to human association which consists chiefly in seeing and being seen. Since sight is the most acute of the senses, it holds a position of authority in sensitive life. Although after death he says that he will not be seen by the eyes of man, yet he confesses that he will be seen by the eye of God saying, “Your eyes” will be “on me.” For the dead are seen by God who observes spiritual things, because the dead live according to the spirit, not according to the flesh which man can see with his eyes.

One could take this to mean that the eyes of God consider the dead, not according to the present state, but he regards future things, as though a dead man is going to return again to the life which he lost. Therefore to exclude this he continues, “and I shall not endure,” as if to say: I say that your eyes will be on me after death because afterwards, I will not be present again in the state of this earthly life. He proves this by a comparison when he adds, “As a cloud dissolves and is gone, so he who goes down below, will not ascend.” The dead are said to go down to the underworld either because they all descended to Sheol according to the soul there before the death of Christ, or because according to the flesh, they are buried under the earth. The exegesis here makes no difference for the meaning of the present text. For he only wants to say that the dead do not return to their past life and he proves this in the comparison using a sufficient proof. As Aristotle says in On Generation: a kind of circular motion appears in both corruptible and incorruptible bodies. But there is this difference. In heavenly bodies, the same one in number returns in the circular motion, as the same sun in number sets and returns at dawn. This is so because the substance is not corrupted in such a change, but only the place changes. But in the motion of generation and corruption, the same one in number does not return, but the same species does. It is clear that according to the annual circular motion of the sun, a kinds of circulation happens in the disposition of the atmosphere, for in winter there are clouds, which are dispersed later in the summer. When the winter returns again, the clouds return, yet not the identical clouds in number, but only the same in species because these clouds which existed before perish completely. It is so with men. The same men do not return in number through generation who formerly existed, but only in species.

From this the solution to the argument of those who posited a return to the same life and the same acts becomes clear. For they believed that lower things are disposed according to the motion of the heavenly spheres; hence when the same constellation returned after a very long time, they believed that the same thing would return in number. But it is not necessary that the same things return in number as has been said, but only things like them in species. Those men thought that a dead man, after a certain span of time not only returned to life, but also had the same possessions and houses he formerly possessed. To disprove this he says, “He will never return home again.” They also held that he would do the same works he had done before and hold the same offices and dignities. To exclude this position he adds, “and his place will know him no more,” i.e. he will not return again to his place. Here the term “place” means the state of a person in the manner of speaking we commonly use to say: He has a great place in this community.

It is clear from these verses that Job here does not deny the resurrection which faith asserts, but a return to carnal life which the Jews hold and certain philosophers also held. Nor is this contrary to the narration of Scripture which asserts that some men are brought back to the present state of life. For one thing is done miraculously and the other is done according to the course of nature and Job speaks in this sense here. Consider also that in saying, “Remember that my life is but a breath,” he did not speak as though God could forget, but he speaks hypothetically putting himself in the position of his adversaries. For if God were to promise the goods in this earthly life to a man whose life has, as it were, already passed, he would almost seem almost to have forgotten that the life of man passes away like the wind which does not return.

The Third Lesson: Job Laments his Terrible Destiny

11 For this reason, I will not refrain from speaking; in the trouble of my spirit I will speak; I will talk in the bitterness of my soul. 12 Am I the sea or a whale that you surround me to lock me up? 13 If I say, ‘My bed will comfort me; I will be relieved by talking to myself, on my couch, 14 then you will frighten me with dreams; and terrify me with visions? 15 This is why my soul has chosen hanging, and my bones death. 16 I have despaired; I will not live longer to any purpose.

After Job showed that the consolation of Eliphaz promising earthly prosperity was inconsistent by arguments, he now shows the same thing by deducing arguments of unfittingness, because if he should rely on that consolation which had been given to him from the hope of earthly prosperity by Eliphaz, as has been shown, it would follow that it would be necessary for him to still remain in sadness, to utter words of sorrow and to despair entirely. This is because Eliphaz’s hope is frivolous. He concludes therefore, as though arguing against this proposition, “For this reason,” because to hope in earthly prosperity is vain, as has been shown. Moreover, you have nothing else with which you console me and therefore, “I”, as if destitute of consolation, “will not refrain from speaking” but rather I will speak words of lamentation which my mind suggests. He continues, “in the anguish of my spirit, I will speak,” that is as the trouble which I suffer impels my spirit to speak. Not only does he suffer exterior trouble, but also interior sadness conceived from it. So he continues, “I will talk in the bitterness of my soul,” for I will speak vain and almost incredible words as the bitterness of my soul will supply me.

Among other things, which embittered men usually discuss together, they are accustomed especially to search for the causes of their bitterness because there is hardly an embittered man who does not seem in his own mind to have been afflicted either very unjustly or more than is just. So Job, playing the part of an embittered man, inquires as to the cause of his affliction saying, “Am I the sea, or a whale that you surround me to lock me up?” Note here that the providence of God works in one way for rational creatures and in another way for irrational creatures. Rational creatures merit or demerit because of free will. Because of this, rewards and punishments are due to them. Irrational creatures however, neither merit rewards nor incur punishments since they do not have free will. God, however, acts in their regard to increase or restrict them on the basis of what is due to the good of the universe. From this economy God constricts the sea so that it does not occupy the whole surface of the earth, to make the earth a place for animals and the things born on land. In a similar way he constricts the whale to remain in the ocean seas because if he were in the other seas, it could harm someone. Job therefore seeks to know if there is some explanation for his affliction like the confining of the sea and the whale, namely, that he is not afflicted because of some lack of merit but because of some usefulness to others because of it.

He says that he has been surrounded to be locked up in the sense that he had been so burdened by trial that no liberation or consolation lay open to him on any side. Consequently he proves next that he is deprived of those remedies which ordinarily console the afflicted. One is sleep, for sorrow is mitigated after sleep. To note this he says, “If I say: ‘My bed will comfort me’,” in the time of sleep. Another remedy is to consolation wise men give themselves by the deliberation of reason. He touches this cure when he says, “I will be relieved,” from the oppression of sadness by “talking to myself,” by the deliberation of reason, “on my couch.” For when wise men are alone and removed from the distraction of men and commerce, then they can speak more within themselves thinking something through according to reason. These cures too could not help him, because at the time when he should have used these remedies, other impediments like terrible dreams and horrible visions were present in him which disturbed him. To express this he continues, “Then you will frighten me with dreams,” which appear to one when sleeping, and me “with visions,” which appear to the one awake who has lost the use of his exterior senses, “will terrify me”. Images at night are usually formed by thoughts experienced during the day and so because Job thought about sad things during the day, he was disturbed at night by similar images. For the weakness of the body contributes to the fact that people experience disturbing images when sleeping. So, then, when consolation is refused me from every side and no way remains for me to escape so many anguishes but death, I therefore prefer death however abject to such a painful life. He then expresses this saying, “This is why my soul has chosen hanging.” Lest someone should think that this decision comes from some thought opposed by stronger thoughts, he insists there is nothing in him so strong that it does not desire death. So he says, “My bones have chosen death.” For bones in Scripture usually mean what is strength in man. He shows why he chooses this saying, “I have despaired,” i.e. I have lost the hope which you gave me that I might enjoy earthly prosperity. He shows why he despaired adding,” I will not live longer to any purpose.” Two things can be understood which he had posited above in this statement. (v.6) The greater time of his life had already passed away and that he does not return after this life to the same life which he lived on earth. This unfitting conclusion is the result of the consolation of Eliphaz for Job himself and would lead him to despair, choose death, and have not way to curb sorrow.

The Fourth Lesson: The Prayer of Job

14 Spare me, O Lord, for my days are nothing. 17 What is man that you should make so much of him; or that you turn your heart towards him? 18 You visit him at dawn and immediately test him. 19 How long do you not spare me? Won’t you leave me in peace to swallow my spittle? 20 I have sinned. What will I do for you, O guardian of men? Why do you pit me against you and why have I become a burden to myself? 21 Why do you not take away my sin? Why do you not take away my iniquity? Look! Now I will sleep in the dust; in the morning if you will look for me, I will no longer exist.

After Job has shown that the consolation of Eliphaz based on the promise of earthly happiness was leading him to despair and the desire for death, he shows what remains for him to hope for from God, namely, that the trial put on him should cease. He expresses this saying, “Spare me, O Lord,” as if to say: I have abandoned the hope of earthly prosperity, it is sufficient that you spare me, cease to afflict me. Since the unhappiness and weakness of man usually induces another to spare him, he continues, “for my days are nothing,” which seems to refer to the weakness of man and the brevity of life, both with respect to all men in general and to him in a special way because his days were almost at an end.

Consequently he pursues both points. First he says of his weakness, “What is man,” that is, how small a thing and frail in body, “that you lift him up,” by honoring him among the other creatures or “that you turn your heart towards him,” by guarding him and protecting him with special care? Here note that although all things are subject to divine providence and all things in their state receive their greatness from God, nevertheless some receive it in one way, others in another. For since all particular goods which are in the universe seem ordered to the common good of the universe as part is ordered to whole and imperfect to perfect, they are disposed by divine providence as they are ordered to the universe. Note that according to the way some things participate in perpetuity, they pertain essentially to the order of the universe. However, as they are deficient with respect to perpetuity, they pertain accidentally to the perfection of the universe and not in themselves. Therefore according as they are perpetual they are ordered by God for their own sake; but according as they are corruptible they are ordered for the sake of other things. Things which are perpetual either in individual or in species, are governed for their own sakes by God. But things which are corruptible in individual but only perpetual in species, are ordered for themselves in species by God but for the species only on account of the individual. This is the good and evil which happens to irrational animals. For example, the fact that this lamb is killed by this wolf or some such thing is not arranged by God because of the merit or demerit of this wolf or of this lamb, but because of the good of the species since its own food has been divinely ordained for the good of each species He expresses this saying, “or because you turn your heart towards him, when you provide for him because of his own good. He does not turn his heart to the good of individual animals, but rather to the good of the species which can exist perpetually.

He shows how God turns his heart towards him when he says, “You visit him at dawn,” i.e. from the day of his birth you help him by your providence with things necessary for his life and glorification, whether they are corporeal or spiritual. “And immediately test him,” by adversities in which he shows clearly he is disposed to virtue. As Sirach says, “The oven proves the pot of the potter and the trial of trouble proves the just man.” (27:6) God is said to test a man not so may learn what kind of man he is, but to inform others what sort of man he is and also so that he may know himself. These words of Job are not to be understood as expressing contempt for the divine concern for men, but as investigating and wondering. For if man is considered only as he appears exteriorly, he seems small, fragile and perishable. So it would be astonishing for God to have such great care for man unless he should have something hidden which makes him capable of perpetual existence. Thus by inquiry and wonder, the opinion of Eliphaz is refuted, because if there were no other life for man except life on earth, man would not seem worth such great care God has for him. Therefore the very care which God has especially for man demonstrates that there is another life of man after the death of the body.

Then he adds another reason that God should spare him taken from the brevity of life. He puts it in question form saying, “How long do you not spare me?” This is like saying: The time of the life of man is short and the greater part of the time of my life is already past. Therefore, what limit is expected so that you spare me if you do not spare me now so that at least I might have at least some brief time in which to rest. He shows the meaning when he says, “Won’t you leave me in peace to swallow my spittle?” For one cannot swallow his saliva while he is speaking. It is necessary to pause briefly while speaking to spit out or to swallow spittle. He compares the time remaining in his life to this brief instant as if he says: If you delay in sparing me, no rest, even the rest during which someone speaking swallows his spittle will remain for me. This way of arguing presupposes that the opinion of Eliphaz, because if there is no other life for man except the one on this earth, there will not remain a time when God may spare Job if God does not spare him in this life.

Someone could object that Job was unworthy to be spared by God because his sins merit that he be afflicted even more. This follows also from the opinion of Eliphaz who thought that he was scourged because of his sins. So he continues, “I have sinned,” as if to say: Given that I have sinned and because of this merited to be afflicted, still there remains a reason why you should spare me. He adds to this three reasons why God should spare him which make reference to the frailty of man. The first is taken from man’s powerlessness to make satisfaction. Man can do nothing worthy from his own powers to compensate for the offense which he committed against God. This is what he means when he says, “What will I do for you, O guardian of men?” as it to say: If you have such great care for man as if you were their watchman that you require an accounting of their individual acts, my powers are not sufficient to perform some act for which you will remit my sins. If then this is expected, you would never spare me and so please spare me despite this powerlessness.

The second reason is taken from the powerlessness of man to persevere. For man cannot persevere after the corruption of human nature without the grace of God, and so it is customary even in Sacred Scripture to say that God hardens someone or blinds someone in the sense that he does not bestow the grace on him by which he may be softened and see. Job speaks here in this way saying, “Why do you pit me against you?” that is, Why did you not give me the grace of perseverance in this matter so that I might not be opposed to you by sin? For whoever sins is opposed to God, since he spurns the divine commandments which are either handed down in the written Law or naturally inscribed in human reason. Note that reason is the strongest of all the powers of the soul. A sign of this strength is that reason commands the other powers and uses them for its own end. Yet it happens that reason is somewhat absorbed at times by concupiscence, anger, or the other passions of the lower part of the soul and so a man sins. Nevertheless, the lower passions cannot hold reason bound, but rather reason always returns to its nature by which it tends to spiritual goods as its own proper end. Therefore, a kind of struggle goes on even of man against himself when reason resists him because he has sinned absorbed either by concupiscence or anger. Since a tendency to similar acts has been added to the lower powers from past sins as a result of habit, reason cannot freely make use of the lower powers to order them to higher goods or withdraw them from lower ones. Thus man becomes a burden even to himself in being opposed to God through sin. He shows this by saying, “Why have I become a burden to myself?” One sees in this that sin has its own punishment immediately. So too after this punishment, it seems man should be spared more easily.

The third reason is taken from the powerlessness of man to cleanse himself from sin. For man sinks into sin by himself, but it is only God’s part to remit sin. So Job asks: If my punishment should not cease for as long a time as my sin remains and you alone can take away my sin. “Why do you not take away my sin?” which I have committed against God or against myself. “Why do you not take away my iniquity?” if any has been committed against my neighbor. Remember, Job does not ask questions of this kind like a rash questioner of divine judgments, but to destroy the falsity which his adversaries were eager to assert, namely that one should hope for good and evil things from God for human deeds only in this life. If this view is asserted, the whole reason for divine judgments by which he punishes men in the life for sin and remits sins in foreordaining those men in the next life to either predestination or reprobation is thrown into confusion. If there is no future life, but only the present one, there would be no reason why God should delay sparing those whom he intends to spare or justify or reward them. So Job shows his own intention clearly, continuing, “Look! Now I will sleep in the dust,” as if the end of my life is almost here, when I will die and decay to dust. One cannot hope even to see tomorrow with certainly because of the uncertainty of death. So he says, “If you will look for me in the morning, I will no longer exist,” for I cannot promise myself even a life until morning, much less a long span of life in which I can hope you would spare me if there will be no other life.

Consider that Job proceeds according to the manner of a debater, for whom it suffices at the beginning to disprove false opinion and afterwards to explain what he himself thinks is true. Note too that in these opening words, Job touched three reasons why someone should be afflicted in this life by God. The first is that his malice may be restrained so he cannot harm others. He touched this reason in the text, “Am I the sea or a whale that you should surround me to lock me up?” (v. 14) The second is to try man in order manifest his virtue, and he touched this in the text, “You visit him at dawn and immediately test him.” (v. 18) The third reason is to punish sinners, and he touched on this when he said, “I have sinned, what will I do for you, you guardian of men.”

 

CHAPTER EIGHT THE DISCOURSE OF BILDAD: THE ALLEGORY OF THE RUSH

The First Lesson: God is Just

1 Bildad of Shuah spoke next: 2 How long will you go on talking like that? And prolong the high spirit of the speech of your mouth? 3 Can God deceive judgment or the Almighty falsify justice? 4 Even if your sons sinned against him and he delivered them into the hands of their iniquity 5 yet if at dawn, you will rise to God, 6 and you will plead with the Almighty, 6 if you will proceed pure and honest, at once He will awake to you, he will give you back the peaceful dwelling of your justice. 7 As your prosperity was small, so your future prosperity will be greater.

In the discourse which Job just finished, he had responded to the speech of Eliphaz. He showed Eliphaz was mistaken in a deep and efficacious way. But Bildad of Shuah, who agreed with the same opinion of Eliphaz, did not understand the profundity of Blessed Job and so he speaks against the answer of Blessed Job like men usually speak against the opinions they do not understand. For men who do not understand the minds of others speaking are usually deficient in two ways. One of these is because they do not know when the speaker arrives at the conclusion he proposes. Another is because they are not able to understand the order of the discourse of the speaker. This is clearly shown in the speech of Bildad when the text says, “Bildad spoke next, ‘How long will you go on talking like that?’” For Job seemed to him to talk too long because he did not consider or understand the conclusion Job wished to draw in his discourse. Similarly, he did not grasp the order of the things which Job had said, namely, how they had been connected to one another. So he continues, “and prolong the high spirit of the speech of your mouth?” For he concluded that because Job had explained many things whose order he did not understand that his words were haphazard like a man who has no ability to reason, saying various things without rational order, spurred on by the impulse of his spirit.

Also, since, as was said, Bildad did not understand the intention of Job, he takes his words in an entirely different way than intended and tries to deduce that they were not fitting. For in what he said, Job wanted to disprove the proposition of Eliphaz who thought that adversities in this world happened because of the sins of men and that if the sinners afflicted by God were converted, they would return to their former state of prosperity. So he spoke against both these ideas. Against the first he said, “Would that my sins and the calamity which I suffer were weighed in a balance!” (6:2) Against the second he said, “I have despaired; I will not live longer to any purpose,” (7:16) and many other things like this as is clear in the verses above. When Job said these things, he intended to prove that punishment for sinners and rewards for justice should be hoped for from God in this life. But Bildad did not know about the other life. So he took these words as though Job meant that God does not punish sins or reward good deeds, which seems contrary to divine justice. So Bildad makes his first proposition when he says, “Can God deceive judgment, or the Almighty falsify justice?” as if to say: This follows from your words if God punishes man in this world, though sinless or beyond the desert of his sins, or if he does not repay those turning back to him with good things. Note that justice is corrupted in two ways: by the cunning of an astute man and by the violence of a powerful man. There are, however, both perfect wisdom and omnipotence in God. Yet the name wisdom in God does not mean he overturns judgment like an astute man, nor does omnipotence in God mean that he subverts what is just like a violent man.

There were two things which seemed to keep Job from being restored to his former prosperity even if he were converted to God as Eliphaz advised. One of these was the fact that the children which he lost were dead and he could not expect them to be brought back to life by his conversion. So Bildad says, “Even if your sons sinned against him, and he delivered them into the hands of iniquity,” as if to say: When you have converted to God, you will regain those things which you lost by your sins. Your sons however were not punished by death because of your sins, but because of their own sins. So the fact that your sons will not be restored to life after you have converted is not against the argument of Eliphaz who said that you will be restored to your prosperity by conversion. Note here that because he believed the punishments of this present life are a recompense for sins and the foremost of these present punishments is death, man will be perfectly punished for sin when he is brought to death because of sin. He clearly says this, “and he delivered them up to the hands of their iniquity,” as if into the power of their own sins so that they might be led to the ultimate punishment for their sins without any lifeline.

The other thing which seemed to keep Job from returning to his former prosperity was the fact that he had already finished the greater part of his life and little remained for him, as Job said before. So it did not seem that his former prosperity could be restored sufficiently in that little time, even if he were converted back to God. Thus Bildad promises him that after his conversion a compensation will be made of the quantity of time so that he would obtain goods which were greater than he had before because he was going to have them for such a short time. So Bildad first describes the manner of conversion to him for which three things are required. The first is that the sinner rise from his sin without delay. So he says, “Yet if at dawn,” i.e. at the right time, “you will rise to God,” i.e. leave your sins as Sirach says, “Do not delay in turning back to the Lord.” (5:8) The second is that man make satisfaction for his sins. For this he says, “and you will plead with the Almighty.” Prayer seems like the first among the works of satisfaction. The third is that man persevere in taking care that he does not relapse into sin. So he says, “if you proceed pure and honest,” avoiding uncleanness of the flesh in yourself and the injustices by which your neighbor is injured. So after he has described the perfect conversion, he adds the promise of prosperity saying, “At once, God will awake to you,” For God seems to sleep when he permits the just to be afflicted; but he seems to awaken when he defends them according to the text, “Awake, why are you sleeping, O Lord?” (Psalm 43:23) He expresses the effect of this awakening saying, “he will give you back the peaceful dwelling of your justice,” as if to say: Your house and your family were disturbed at the time of your sin, but in the time of your justice, they will have peace. He promises again an excess of prosperity so that Job could not complain about the shortness of the time, saying, “as your past prosperity was small,” in comparison with the goods which will follow, “so your future prosperity will be greater,” such that the great prosperity will repay you for the time which you spent in adversity.

The Second Lesson: God’s Justice is Traditional Doctrine

8 Question the generation that has passed; carefully investigate the memory of your father. 9 We are men of yesterday and we know nothing because our days on earth are like a shadow. 10 They themselves will teach you, and these are the words they will speak from the heart. 11 Do rushes flourish without moisture? Without water, can sedge grow? 12 Even at their freshest or not destroyed by a hand, they wither the fastest of all plants. 13 Such are the paths of all those who forget God and the hope of the hypocrite will perish. 14 His folly will not please him and his assurance is like a spider’s web. 15 He will put his trust in the stability of his own house and he will not stand firm. He will prop it up, and he will not rise up. 16 It seems moist before the sun rises and at its rising its buds blossom. 17 Its roots were crowded together on a heap of stones and it will dwell among stones. 18 If someone will pull it from its place, it will deny him and say: I do not know you. 19 For this is the joy of his way (life), that others may be brought forth from the earth again. 20 God does not spurn a simple man nor does he lend his hand to the wicked. 21 Until your mouth will be filled with laughter and from your lips break forth a cry of joy. 22 Those who hate you will be covered with shame and the tent of the wicked will not endure.

In the preceding verses, Bildad of Shuah defended the same opinion Eliphaz the Temanite had proposed that men divinely punished in this present life for sin return to a state of prosperity after their conversion. He now intends to prove this in two ways: first from experience, second from analogy. Learning through experience is especially effective in particular things as far as proof and much more so the longer it has been observed and found without error. Those things which require long observation are especially verified by the memories of the ancients and so he has recourse to prove his proposition to the memories of the ancients. With reference to the ancients he says, “Question the generation that has passed.” With reference to those immediately preceding him he says, “carefully investigate the memory of your fathers,” that is those things which your fathers remember. The questioning of an earlier generation is done by considering what is written about the deeds of the ancients and what is reported about the ancients in tradition. Since many things both written and told about deeds of old are legends, he refers Job to the fathers who can speak about those things which they have actually seen so that no one can think him duped. He shows the necessity of this investigation when he continues, “We are men of yesterday,” born almost yesterday, “and we know nothing,” of ancient deeds because of this. He says this certainly to show the shortness of our life and so he continues, “because our days on earth are like a shadow.” For a shadow passes swiftly, namely, immediately when an obstacle to light is removed. When a body is moved whose interruption of light makes a shadow, the former shadow passes and another takes its place. So man’s days are continually passing by as long as one takes the place of the other. He shows the use he makes of the preceding investigation continuing, “They, themselves” who went before and the fathers who are consulted, “will teach you,” the truth about the above questions. Either your fathers will teach you from words or the ancients will teach you by writing and tradition. “And these are the words they will speak from the heart.” He adds this to show the truth of this teaching (about earthly restitution) as if to say: They will teach you nothing other than what they know in their hearts since there is no reason for them to deceive you.

He then introduces an analogy taken from material things to prove the proposition. He gives the example of two plants which grow in the earth. One of them demands moisture from the earth for its preservation, i.e. the bulrush or rushes. About this he says, “Do rushes flourish without moisture?” Also the other plant which requires an aqueous environment is the sedge. These are broad grasses pointed at their highest part which grow in watery places. So he continues, “Can sedge grow without water?” For the place is called a sedge bed where grass of this sort grows. He shows that the rush requires moisture and sedge-bed requires water because they dry out easily by the mere removal of the marsh or water, when there is no other cause of their dehydration. But there is a twofold cause of dehydration in plants things which grow on land. One is natural from old age; the other is violent, when they are forcefully uprooted. Yet when neither cause is present, rush and sedge dry up from the mere removal of marsh or water. This is the meaning of, “Even at their freshest,” i.e. although still in their youth and vigor to exclude old age, “or not destroyed by a hand,” to exclude violence,” they wither fastest of all the plants,” i.e. most easily of all the grasses.

He adapts this example to his purpose. Consider that he understood the clinging of man to God in this way to be the cause of earthly prosperity just as water is the cause of the verdant color of the grass. This is because he thought that the good of man consisted in earthly prosperity. It is clear, however, that the good of man consists in the fact that man clings to God. Thus he believed that because Job did not cling to God his earthly prosperity was failing. This is certainly true about spiritual happiness which is the true good of man, but it is not true of earthly prosperity which is reckoned among the least important goods, as it serves as an instrument to the true happiness of man. So he adds, “Such are the paths of all those who forget God, and the hope of the hypocrite will perish.” Here consider he adds two corresponding examples to the two examples mentioned above. Sedge requires clear water to become green and dries out when this is lacking. Rushes require water hidden in moist earth and when this moisture is not present dries up. Likewise, there are some who perish in his opinion because they openly deny clinging to God in visible things. For instance, those who openly do deeds against God, which he represents as those “who forget God.” For men who are not afraid to do evil openly seem to have completely put off reverence for God and not to remember him. But, there are some according to his opinion who perish because they do not cling to God in a hidden way. These are the hypocrites who pretend exteriorly to cling to God, but whose hearts cling to the earth. In speaking of the hypocrite, he talks about hope and of those forgetting God he speaks about paths, i.e. deeds, because the works of the latter are turned away from God, but the hope of the hypocrite is turned away from him.

He shows how the hope of the hypocrite perishes as he continues, “His folly will not please him.” Here we should consider that a hypocrite has a vain heart, indeed, for he neglects spiritual things and is only interested in things of time. He is satisfied as long as he succeeded well in temporal things according to his expectation. But if temporal things should be taken from him, then he must be displeased because he does not have a true and stable heart respecting God. He says therefore, “His folly does not please him,” i.e. he will be displeased when adversity comes, because he does not have a right heart respecting God. His care which he had for temporal things will be completely deficient. To show this he continues, “His assurance is like a spider’s web,” which means that the things in which he confided will easily be broken like a spider’s web. For he did not confide in God’s help, but in the strength of his house, i.e. his great wealth, his many relatives and things like this. But these easily fail him. So he continues, “He will put his trust in the stability of his own house,” for he placed the confidence of his stability in the prosperity of his own house, “and” yet “he will not stand firm,” because when divine help is no longer given him, these goods too will fail. When someone anticipates that tragedy may happen to him in the future, he prepares something to fall back on for himself and his house against the adversities. But even this will not help him because he continues, “he will prop it up,” with those remedies against adversities like supports are placed under a house which is in danger of falling, “and” yet “he will not rise up,” neither he nor his house to the state of prosperity.

He applies the comparison which he used before about the rushes to this opinion which he has related about the frailty of confidence. For his trust seems to be related to rushes in two ways. First like the verdant color of the rush, which fades quickly when the sun comes out and the moist earth is dried. He expresses this idea saying, “it seems moist,” i.e. rushes,” before the sun rises,” which takes away its verdant color. “And at its rising,” of rushes, “its buds blossom.” For this plant seems to grow quickly and produce its own fruit. In the same way, the hypocrite seemed to prosper, because fortune smiles on him in the beginning, but when the sun, i.e., tribulation comes out, his prosperity quickly fails him. Second, confidence may be placed in the rush in other ways, i.e. either from being rooted bunched together with many others or from the firmness of the place where it grows when it is born in a rocky place. So he consequently says, “its roots,” of the rushes, “were crowded together on a heap of stones,” as the roots of many papyrus are intertwined together. He expresses the first idea with this. He expresses the second idea saying, “and it will dwell among stones.” So even a hypocrite can have trust in his own stability, not only founded in his own prosperity, but also in the great number of his relatives and domestics or even because of the strength of the state or city in which he lives. But this trust proves vain to him as it does to the rush. For the text continues, “if someone will pull it,” the rush, “from its place,” the place, “will deny him and say, ‘I do not know you.’” This means: The rush is so uprooted from a place that no trace appears in the place. Nor is the place disposed to receive the same rushes a second time. He next explains the reason for this, “For this is the joy of his path,” or “of his life that others may be brought forth from the earth again,” as if to say: The progress and life of the rush do not tend to abide in some place by natural desire towards this end nor is it preserved through this outcome, namely, that the same number of rushes replace them as were uprooted, but that other of the same species spring up again. So it is also when someone by death or in some other way is separated from the society of strong men. He passes almost immediately into oblivion as Psalm 30 says, “I was delivered into forgetfulness as though dead in their heart.” (v.13) But society rejoices in those who replace him, as Qoheleth says, “Let another born in the kingdom he consumed by want. I have seen that all the living who walk under the sun, hasten to the young man who takes his place.” (4:14) These two passages are introduced into the argument to show that though the wicked may prosper for a time, nevertheless it is not a firm prosperity in which they confide, but quickly pass away and should be accounted like nothing.

Consequently he shows what conclusion he intends to draw from all he said already saying, “God does not spurn a simple man,” for he will not place him far from him so that he does not sustain one who clings to him in simplicity of heart. “Nor does he lend his hand to the wicked,” i.e. he will not help them so their prosperity is confirmed. Yet Job could say, “Whatever you may say and you want to prove with analogies I have experienced the contrary. For when I was simple, I suffered adversity and my evil adversaries prevailed against me.” Bildad wishes to disprove this saying, “Until your mouth be filled with laughter and from your lips break forth a cry of joy,” as if to say: What I have told you is so true that you will experience it, in yourself, but only if you will be simple in such a way that your happiness which will follow from your prosperity will be characterized by breaking forth in laughter and jubilation. These usually accompany great rejoicing. Also the contrary is true, for, “Those who hate you will be covered with shame,” for they will be openly confounded in various ways so that in this way they will wear confusion like a garment. So that this would not seem impossible to someone because of the present prosperity in which they seemed to flourish, he continues, “and the tent of the wicked will not endure.” For the tent in which most of the men of the East customarily here and have their chattel and possessions can be understood to mean all those things which pertain to the prosperity of this present life. Consider that Bildad mentions and the hypocrite and the simple man because he thought that Job was not truly holy, but a hypocrite But if he will begin to be simple, he promises him prosperity in the future.

 

CHAPTER NINE: THE PROBLEM OF EVIL (THE FIRST APPROACH)

The First Lesson: God is Almighty

1 Job spoke next. He said: 2 Truly I know this is so and man is not be justified compared to God. 3 If anyone will wish to argue with him, he will not be able to answer him one question for a thousand. 4 He is wise in heart and Almighty in power. What man has resisted him and found peace? 5 He has moved the mountains and they were ignorant whom he has destroyed by his anger. 6 He moves the earth from its place and its pillars will be shaken. 7 He commands the sun and it does not rise and he conceals the stars as though under seal.

Blessed Job in his answer above in which he had responded to Eliphaz’s words, seemed to have overlooked one argument which Eliphaz had proposed about the justice of God when he said, “Will man ever be justified in comparison with God?” (4:17) He rather seemed to have spoken almost contentiously with God when he said, “Am I the Sea or a whale, etc.” (7:12) and “How long will you not spare me, etc.” (7:19) So Bildad of Shuah replied to the argument of Blessed Job taking his starting point from a defense of divine justice and said, “Can God deceive judgement?” (8:37) and he ended his speech in the same vein saying, “God does not spurn the simple man, etc.” (8:20) So Blessed Job shows in this next response first that he does not want to speak against divine justice, nor does he want to argue against God, as they suspected. This is what the text then says continuing, “Job spoke next. “Truly I know this is so,” namely that “God does not deceive judgment” and that “he does not spurn the simple man.” These were the propositions of Bildad. “And” I also know,” man is not be justified compared with God.” In this response he answers what Eliphaz had said, “Will a man ever be justified in comparison with God?”

He consequently shows a sign of how he knows this. When a man is just in comparison to another man, he can freely and securely argue with him, because justice and truth are made clear in mutual discussion. However, no man is secure when he argues with God. So he adds, “If anyone will wish to argue with him,” i.e. man with God, “he will not be able to answer him “one question for a thousand.” Truly we should note that the greatest number which has a proper name is in our usage a thousand, for all the higher numbers are named as multiples of the lower numbers, for example, ten thousand, one hundred thousand. This happens reasonably, for according to the ancients, the species of numbers extend up to ten and beyond this one repeats the first numbers again (1,2,3,) and this fact is clear according to the names, whatever the truth of the matter. For the cube of ten is one thousand for one thousand is ten times ten times ten. Thus Job chooses the number one thousand as the highest of the numbers which designates for us every large determined quantity. When he says that man cannot respond to God, “one question for a thousand,” it is the same as if he were to say: no determined measure of number can express how much divine justice exceeds human justice, since the latter is finite but the former is infinite.

He shows as a consequence that man cannot approach God in any proportion in arguing a case when he says, “He (God) is wise in heart and Almighty in power.” For there are two types of dispute. There is one in which the dispute is carried on by argument and this is done by wisdom. There is another when the dispute is carried on by force and this is depends on power. In both of these, God exceeds man, because in both his strength and wisdom he exceeds all strength and wisdom. Consequently he shows both of these pre-eminences. First he shows the preeminence of God in power which he certainly begins to show in relation to men when he says, “what man has resisted him and found peace?” as if to say: “No one.” Note that man obtains peace in one way from someone who is more powerful and in another way from one who is less powerful or his equal in power. For clearly the more powerful acquires peace from the less powerful by fighting against him, as when a powerful king wages war against a rebellious subject in his kingdom and after he obtains victory, re-establishes the peace of his kingdom. In the same way, a man also sometimes obtains peace from someone who is his equal in power by fighting him. For although he cannot overcome him, he can still wear him out by his persistence in the fight and lead him to sue for peace. But one never obtains peace from someone who is more powerful by resisting and fighting him, but by submitting himself to him humbly. Thus, an evident sign that the strength of God exceeds all human strength is the fact that no one can have peace with him by resisting him, but only by obeying him humbly. As Isaiah says, “You will maintain us in peace. Peace surely which comes because we trust in you.” (26:3) However, the wicked who resist God cannot have peace, as Isaiah says, “For the wicked, the Lord says there is no peace.” (57:21) He means this here when he says, “What man has resisted him and found peace?”

Then he shows that the power of God exceeds all the power of natural things as much in higher as in lower bodies. He shows this in the lower bodies from the fact that he moves those things which seem especially firm and stable among lower things by his will. So among the mixed bodies, to which he alludes after man, the mountains seem to be the especially firm and stable to which the stability of the saints is compared in the Scriptures according to Psalm 124,”They who trust in the Lord are like Mount Sion.” (v.1) Yet the Lord moves the mountains by his power, and he speaks about this saying, “He has moved the mountains.” Even though he can certainly do this miraculously by divine power, since this seems a promise made to those with firm faith in Matthew, “If you have faith and do not hesitate, if you will say to this mountain: Rise and cast yourself into the sea, it will be done,” (21:21) and in 1 Cor., “If I have all faith to move mountains,” (13:2), yet the text seems to more fittingly refer to the natural course of things. For the order of nature demands that everything generated naturally, is also corrupted at a determined time. So since the generation of mountains is natural, it must be that the mountains would naturally be destroyed at some time. He calls this natural corruption of the mountains a moving because the dissolution happens from some moving of their parts. Nor does he attribute these things which happen naturally to divine power against reason. Since nature acts for a given end, everything which is ordered to a certain end either directs itself to the end or is ordered to the end by some other being directing it. Therefore, a natural thing, which does not have knowledge of its end so as to direct itself to it, must be ordered to the end by some higher intelligence. The whole activity of nature then is compared to the intellect directing natural things to the end, which we call God, like the motion of the arrow is fittingly compared to the archer. Therefore, as the motion of the arrow is fittingly attributed to the archer, so the whole activity of nature is fittingly attributed to divine power. So if the mountains are corrupted by the activity of nature, it is clear that the stability of the mountain is overcome by divine power. Now sometimes it happens among men that a king conquers a strong city by his own power, and the more quickly and imperceptibly it happens, the more the king shows his power. The fact then that the mountains are moved especially attests to the divine power since it happens almost immediately and imperceptibly so that even those who live in the mountains cannot forecast their fall and perish as a result of it. So he says, “They were ignorant whom he has destroyed by his anger,” as if to say: God does such great things so suddenly that even those who live in the mountains cannot foresee them. This is evidently because if they knew beforehand, they would take precautions and not be destroyed. He adds, “by his anger” to show that God sometimes regulates natural operations according to the order of his providence as a necessary means to punish the sins of man. He is metaphorically said to be angry with them because he is said to take revenge on them, which is the usual result of anger among men.

He passes from the mixed bodies to the elements. Among these the earth seems to be the most fixed and stable which as it is the center of all motion is unmoved. Yet sometimes, it moves naturally because of gas which is contained within it in some of its parts as the philosophers correctly taught. This is the theme he addresses when he continues, “He can move the earth from its place,” not completely as a whole, but he agitates parts of it like in an earthquake. In this movement, even the mountains which are like the pillars based on the earth are struck violently and so he continues, “and its pillars will be shaken.” By pillars can be understood literally columns and other kinds of structures which seem to cling to the earth which are shaken about in an earthquake. Or one can understand by pillars the lower, deep, hidden parts of the earth because just as the foundation of a building is set up firmly on pillars, so the stability of the earth proceeds from its center, to which all the parts of the earth naturally tend. Consequently, all the lower parts of the earth are the supports for the upper regions of the earth and are like pillars. So, since an earthquake proceeds from the deep regions of the earth, it seems to be like a violent shaking of the pillars of the earth.

Finally, he proceeds to the heavenly bodies, which also result from divine power. Consider that as the nature of the earth is to be unmoved and at rest, so the nature of the heavens is constant motion. Just as then the power of the earth can be overcome clearly by divine power through the motion which appears in it, so the power of a heavenly body is shown to be overcome clearly by divine power the fact that the motion is impeded of the rising and the setting of the sun and the other stars. So he continues, “He commands the sun and it does not rise.” This certainly does not mean that the sun is in fact impeded from rising, since the motion of the sun is continuous. But the sun sometimes appears to human perception not to rise, for example, when the air is so cloudy that the rising sun does not appear to the inhabitants of the earth with its usual brightness. Since cloudiness of this kind happens by the action of nature, it is fittingly attributed to the divine command, which regulates the action of the whole of nature as has been said. (9:5) It is clearly apparent that the statement that the sun does not rise should be understood to mean that the rising sun is hidden from the next verse, “and he conceals the stars as under a seal.” For the stars almost seem to be concealed when the sky is so covered with clouds that the stars cannot be seen.

The Second Lesson: God is Infinitely Wise

8 He alone takes the measure of the heavens and treads upon the waves of the Sea. 9 He made Arcturus, Orion, the Pleiades and the deep constellations of the South. 10 He makes great, unfathomable, marvelous things which cannot be numbered.

After Blessed Job has shown the firm character of divine power, he here begins to show the depth of divine wisdom. However, he proceeds in an inverse order to the preceding one. Before he began by showing the divine power in human affairs and proceeded to the heavenly bodies, whereas here he begins with the heavenly bodies and proceeds to human affairs. He does this reasonably, for the wisdom of a maker is shown in the fact that he makes things which endure and so to show the wisdom of God, he begins from the creature which are more stable, namely those manifesting divine wisdom more clearly. The power of someone’s strength is shown by the fact that he can change things from their condition and so men are usually tested in lifting and hurling stones, by the size of the men they can pin to the ground and things of this sort. On that account, since he was demonstrating the force of the power of God, he began from those things in which this change appears more clearly.

So, to show divine wisdom he begins with heavenly bodies, saying,” He alone takes the measure of the heavens.” Note here that the wisdom of God seems especially praiseworthy in three things. First, of course, in the fact that he can measure something great with his understanding and wisdom. He takes up this theme saying, “He alone stretches out the heavens,” for in the extension of the heaven is expressed their greatness of quantity. Thus God alone is said to have extended the heavens in as much as he alone could give the heavens such great quantity measured by his wisdom. Second, the wisdom of God appears praiseworthy in the fact that he reduces things which are variable and in uncertain flux to a certain order and makes them subject to his guidance. To show this point he says, “and treads upon the waves of the sea.” For the waves of the sea seem to be the most disordered things in themselves, in as much as they are born about now here and now there by shifting winds, and yet God treads upon them inasmuch as he subjects them to his government. Third, the wisdom of God seems praiseworthy from the fact that God has established many things according to the reasonability of his wisdom, which appear marvelous to men whose nature they cannot investigate. These appear especially in the position and disposition of the stars, which nevertheless has been fixed wisely and reasonably by God. He enumerates these marvels beginning with the North Pole and proceeding to the South Pole. So he says, “He made Arcturus.” Arcturus is a constellation in the heavens which is called Ursa Maior and has seven bright stars which never set for us but always circle the North Pole. Next comes, “Orion,” for Orion is a very clear constellation in the sky because of its size and the bright clarity of its stars which are found in Taurus and Gemini. Next comes, “The Pleiades,” which are stars existing on the breast of Taurus, as it is called, and which are also very clear to the naked eye. The text continues, “and the deep constellations of the South.” Here we should note that to those who live on the equator, if indeed there are people there, both poles are visible, since their horizon divides the equator at right angles. Thus it is necessary that the horizon should transverse each pole at the equator. So both poles are visible to those living on the equator, as I have said. To those living north of the equator and going towards the North Pole, the North Pole is elevated above the horizon and the South Pole lies hidden in proportion to the distance they live from the equator. So to us who live in the Northern Hemisphere, the South Pole is never visible, and in the same way, the stars near it are hidden from us in direct proportion to the distance which we live from the equator. These are called the deep constellations of the South because they are hidden from us, as though hidden under the horizon.

Lest someone should believe that divine wisdom has manifested itself only in the things just explained, he shows next that God made many other similar things which cannot be numbered by us saying, “He makes great things,” in which the wisdom of God appears praiseworthy from the uniformity of their great size. This corresponds to the text already cited, “He alone stretches out the heavens.” (v.8) “Unfathomable things,” because men cannot discover them as a result of their instability and yet they are still ordained by divine government. This corresponds to what he has already said, “and treads upon the waves of the sea.” (v.8) “Marvelous things,” whose natures men cannot consider although they are made according to reason by God. This corresponds to what he already said, “He made Arcturus,” and so on. (v.9) The fact that he adds, “which cannot be numbered,” must be referred to each attribute, so that men cannot count the divine actions, but God can count them who makes all things “according to number, weight, and measure.” (Wisdom 11:21)

The Third Lesson: Job Cannot Struggle against God

11 Should he come near me, I will not see; if he withdraws, I will not know him. 12 If he suddenly interrogates someone, who will answer him? Who can say to him, ‘Why are you doing this?’ 13 He is God, whose anger no one can resist. Those who carry the earth bow down before him. 14 Am I great enough to answer him? And to address him in my own words? 15 Even if I were somewhat just, I will not answer him at all, but will rather ward off my judge by earnest prayer. 16 If I appeal to him and he hears my call, I do believe he will listen to my voice. 17 For in the storm he will wear me away and even multiply my wounds without cause. 18 He does not permit my spirit to rest, and he will fill me with bitterness. 19 If it be a question of strength, he is the strongest; if correctness of judgment, no one dares to bear witness on my behalf. 20 If I want to justify myself, my own mouth will condemn me. If I show myself innocent, he will prove me wicked. 21 Even if I am simple, my soul will not know this and I will be weary of life.

Because Blessed Job wished to affirm that he does not desire to argue with God, he showed the depth of the wisdom of God in natural things using many examples. Now, however, he wishes to show the profundity of the divine wisdom in human affairs. Note here that three things pertain to the governor of human affairs. The first is that he should dispense the precepts of justice and other benefits to those subject to him. The second is that he should examine the acts of his subjects and the third is that he should subject those whom he finds guilty to punishments. In these three things he shows the immense profundity of divine power. First, because he provides his benefits so deeply and with such finesse for his subjects that it cannot be grasped even by those who receive them. He addresses this theme when he continues,”Should he come near me, I will not see; if he withdraws, I will not know him.” Note that in the Scriptures, God is said to come near to man when he bestows his benefits on him, either by illuminating his intelligence, exciting his love, or bestowing any kind of good on him. So Isaiah says, “Our God Himself will come and save us.” (35:4) On the other hand, God is said to withdraw from man when he withdraws his gifts or his protection from him. Psalm 9 says, “Why, O Lord, do you stand afar off? Why do you despise me in opportunities in trial?” (v.22) Now it happens that God sometimes permits trials or even some spiritual defects to happen to some to obtain their salvation, as Romans says, “All things work together for the good of those who love God.” (8:28) In this way God comes to man to obtain his salvation, and yet man does not see him because he cannot perceive his kindness. On the other contrary, God does not take away his manifest gifts from many men, and yet they turn them to their own destruction. So God is said to go away from man in the sense that man does not understand that he withdraws from him. Therefore the depth of the divine wisdom appears in the dispensation of his gifts.

Secondly, the depth of divine wisdom is shown in the examination of human acts, because he so acutely and efficaciously scrutinizes them that no one can escape his examination through any sort of craftiness. He says this next, “If he suddenly interrogates someone, who will answer him?” God interrogates man when he leads him to examine his conscience either by inspiring him interiorly or provoking him exteriorly with rewards and punishments. As Psalm 10 says, “God interrogates the just and the unjust.” (v.6) But man would sufficiently answer God when nothing was found in him which could justly be censured by God. This happens to no man in this life, as Proverbs says, “Who can say: My heart is clean; I am pure from sin!” (20:9) He says clearly, “If he suddenly interrogates someone,” because if a space of time is given to man to respond, he can wash his sins away by repentance. For at times it happens that someone is found remiss when he is examining the excesses of others and is afraid that his own excesses will be examined by others in the same way. But God does not fear this so that he becomes easy-going in the examination. For he has no superior who can judge his deeds, and so the question is added, “Who can say to him: Why are you doing this,” to chastise him.

Third, the depth of the divine wisdom is shown in the punishment of the guilty, because no cunning tactics or power can avoid the vengeance of God wherever a man turns as Psalm 138 says, “Where can I flee from your spirit, or where can I hide from your face?” (v.7) He addresses this theme saying, “[He is] God, whose anger no one can resist.” For anger, as attributed to God in the Scriptures, does not mean a movement of the soul but vengeance. Consequently, he proves this saying, “Those who carry the earth bow down before him.” Those who carry the earth mean the celestial spirits, through whose ministry God divinely procures the good of the whole material universe, according to Augustine in De Trinitate III, 4. These celestial spirits bow down before God because they obey him in everything, as Psalm 102 says, “Bless the Lord, all you his angels, his ministers who do his will.” (v.20) Since the angels obey God, it is clear that the whole course of corporeal things which is administered by the angels is subject to the divine will. So no creature can aid man fleeing from the divine vengeance, as Psalm 138 says, “If I climb the heavens, you are there; if I descend to hell, you are there” (v.8) and even more clearly Wisdom, “The whole universe will fight with him against the foolish.” (5:21) The kings and princes of the earth who bow down before God can also be understood to be those who carry the world according to Proverbs, “Kings rule through me,” (8:15) or because even kings themselves cannot resist divine anger, so that from this he could conclude the same from the major about other things.

Therefore, after he has shown in many ways the immensity of the divine power and the depth of the divine wisdom, he draws the conclusion to the proposition, namely that his intention is not to argue with God. He explains this when he says, “Am I great enough,” how powerful and how wise, “to answer him,” i.e. to answer the most powerful and most wise God when he interrogates me “and to address him in my own words.” This means by examining his deeds and saying, “Why do you do this?” (v.12) as if to say: I am not sufficient to argue with God, for argument consists in answering and making objections. Sometimes although one is not powerful or wise, he is still not afraid to argue with a judge because of the security of his conscience. But Job excludes this reason for disputing with God from his case when he says, “Even if I were somewhat just, I could not answer him at all,” with God examining me in defense of my own justice, “but will rather ward off my judge by earnest prayer,” not asking for justice, but for mercy. He says clearly, “Even if I were somewhat just,” to show the uncertainly of human justice by using the words, “even if I were.” As St. Paul says, “I have nothing on my conscience, but I am not justified in this,” (1 Cor. 4:4) to show that the justice of man is insignificant and imperfect when related to the divine testing of it he says following Isaiah, “All our just deeds”, in his sight, “are like polluted cloth.” (64:6)

He shows the consequence of his prayer for pardon when he says, “If I appeal to him and he hears my call, I do believe that he would hear my words.” For God sometimes does not hear someone’s prayer according to what he wishes, but according to what actually succeeds. Just like a doctor does not heal the plea of the sick man who asks him to take the bitter medicine away, (if the doctor does not remove the remedy he knows to be health inducing, he nevertheless hears the actual advantage of the plea of the patient because he induces the health, which the sick person greatly desires), God does not take away trials from a man set down in the midst of trial, although he prays for mercy, because he knows that trials are useful to final salvation. Thus, although God truly heeds him, nevertheless the man who set down in the midst of miseries does not believe that he is heard. He shows why he does not believe he is heard when he says, “For in the storm, he will wear me away.” As is his custom, he now explains what he has said metaphorically saying, “and even multiply wounds without cause.” To wear away is to multiply wounds, i.e. trials. This wearing away is in “The storm,” in terrifying darkness, which he has said is “without cause,” namely, which is not clear and understood by the man who is afflicted. For if an afflicted man should understand the reason why God afflicts him and that the afflictions are useful to his salvation, clearly he would believe that his prayer had been heard. But because he does not understand this, he does not believe that his prayer has been heard. So he not only suffers exteriorly but also interiorly, like an invalid, who does not know that he will achieve health from a bitter cure, would not only suffer from the bad taste (of the medicine), but also in his spirit. He continues, “He will not permit my spirit to rest,” for a spirit rests although the flesh is afflicted because of the hope of an end to the affliction, according to what the Lord teaches in Matthew, “Blessed are you when they utter evil against you,” and later “Rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven.” (5:11, 12) So when I am struck down exteriorly and I do not rest interiorly, “he fills me with bitterness,” interiorly and exteriorly.

Note that in the text, “If I appealed to him and he hears my call, etc.” (v.16) he evidently has explained what he had said above in a more metaphorical way, “Should he come near me, I will not see.” (v.11) For one should observe nearly always in the statements of Job that things said in metaphor are clarified in subsequent texts. What he had said above in brief and summary fashion, “Am I great enough to answer him,” (v.14) he explains in the next text in a more extended way where he also assigns the reason why he does not answer but rather entreats his judge for mercy. Someone may answer a judge boldly for two reasons. First, if the judge is a weak one who cannot coerce the subject. He shows this is not the case here saying, “If it be a question of strength,” i.e. in God to coerce his subjects, “he is the strongest,” because he exceeds all strength. Second, someone boldly responds to a judge because he has confidence in his case. This happens sometimes because he has many witnesses to testify on his behalf. But he shows that this is also not the case here when he says, “if correctness of judgment,” is required that someone is absolved by having many witnesses in his favor, “no one dares to bear witness on my behalf.” In fact, the intellect of man does not conceive the justice of man could be greater than the truth of God which contradicts him.

Sometimes, however, although a man has no other witnesses to speak in his behalf, he is still confident in his case because he trusts in the testimony of his own conscience. Yet even the witness of conscience cannot prevail for men against the contrary accusation of God. He shows this in several degrees. The testimony of conscience has three levels, the highest of which is when one’s conscience wants to render testimony that he is just, as Romans says, “The spirit himself renders testimony to our spirit that we are sons of God.” (8:16) But this witness cannot stand fast against divine censure. He therefore says, “If I should want to justify myself,” i.e. if I want to say that I am just, when God instead is objecting that I am unjust,” my own mouth will condemn me,” for it will render me worthy of condemnation for blasphemy. The second level is when someone, although he does not presume that he is just, still does not find fault with himself in his conscience for some sin, as 1 Cor. says, “My conscience convicts me of nothing.” (4:4) But this witness cannot stand against God either, and so he says, “if I show myself innocent,” i.e. if I want to show that I am without sin,” he will prove me wicked,” in that he will show sins of which I am not conscious to myself and others. For Psalm 18 says, “Who understands his crimes?” (v.13) The third degree is when someone, although he might be interiorly conscious of sin, still takes for granted either he had no evil intention or he did not do it from malice and deceit, but from ignorance and weakness. But this testimony also does not stand for man against God either. So he says, “If I am simple,” without the deceit and duplicity of a depraved intention, “my soul will not know this.” For man is unable to discern the fluid motion of his affection, both because of its variation and the mingling and impulse of many passions. Because of this, Jeremiah says, “The heart of man is wicked and inscrutable. Who will understand it?” (27:9) It is because of the ignorance of these sorts of things that man knows neither himself nor his state and life is rendered wearisome even to the just. So he says, “and I will be weary of life.”

The Fourth Lesson: The Cruel Lot of the Just and the Wicked

22 I have said one thing: He destroys the innocent and the wicked. 23 If he scourges, let him kill at the same time; and let him not laugh at the punishment of the innocent. 24 The earth is given into the hands of the wicked man, he covers the face of his judges. If it is not he, then who is it? 25 My days pass swifter than a runner; they have fled away and they have not seen the good. 26 They move on like ships laden with fruit; like the eagle swooping down on its prey. 27 If I say: I will speak so to no avail ; I will alter my countenance entirely and I writhe with pain. 28 I was anxious about everything I did knowing that you do not spare anyone who is delinquent. 29 If, however, I am so wicked, why have I labored in vain? 30 If I were washed as with the waters of snow, and my hands shine as though very clean, yet you will dip me in filth and my clothing will deprecate me. 32 For he is not a man like myself that I should answer him, and he cannot be heard in judgment with me as an equal. 33 Nor is there anyone who can evaluate both our arguments, who could lay hands on both of us. 34 May he withdraw his rod from me and let terror of him not frighten me! 35 I will speak and not be afraid of him; nor can I answer him when I am afraid of him.

After Blessed Job has shown that it is not his intention to argue with God, he proposes the principle issue in dispute between him and his adversaries. For Eliphaz had said that punishments from God are only sent for sins. Job had spoken against this in his first response. Since Baldath had tried to support the opinion of Eliphaz, Job repeats his opinion a second time saying, “I have said one thing: he destroys both the innocent and the wicked.” By this he seems to mean: Death is inflicted by God not only on sinners, but also on the innocent, which is the greatest of the present punishments. So, what you say is not true, i.e. that man is only punished by God for his own sins. Deuteronomy teaches that death comes from God, “I give death and I will give life.” (32:39) But although death is commonly inflicted by God on everyone, one thing which seems most severe is that the innocent experience many adversities in this life, besides the death which is common to all. He now intends to investigate the cause of this. So he then says, “If he scourges, let him kill at the same time,” saying in effect: Granted that the scourge of death is common to all, still it seems reasonable that the innocent, who are not guilty of their own sins, should not be inflicted with any other punishment besides the death which is due to the original sin. For if, as you (the friends) say, there is no other reason why someone can be justly inflicted with punishment except sin, whereas clearly the innocent suffer punishment in this world, it seems to follow that they are punished without reason as though the punishments themselves pleased God. So he says, “and let him not laugh at the punishments of the innocent,” for we ordinarily laugh about those things which please us in themselves.

If it is unfitting that the punishments of the innocent please God in themselves and yet the innocent are frequently found to be punished on earth, another conclusion which is equally unfitting seems to follow, i.e. that punishments of that sort do not proceed from divine judgment, but from the malice of some evil ruler who has power over the earth and punishes the innocent. So he continues, “The earth is given into the hands of the wicked,” as if to say: If the punishments of the innocent who are still punished on earth are not pleasing to God in themselves, it is necessary to conclude that God has committed the rule of the earth to some evil person, from whose iniquity, judgment is perverted on earth so that the innocent may be punished. He expresses this when he says, “He covers the face of his judges,” i.e. he obscures their reason either with concupiscence, hate or love, so that they do not follow the truth of judgment in judging. “If it is not he,” i.e. the wicked man to whom the earth has been committed who causes the punishment of the innocent, “then who is it?” i.e. who is the cause of the punishment. For supposing your position that sin alone is the cause of the present punishments, God cannot be the cause of this as he has already demonstrated. He expresses this when he says, “The earth is given into the hands of the wicked.” This is certainly true in a sense inasmuch as materialistic men remain under the power of the devil, as one text says, “He who commits sin is the slave of sin.” (John 8:34) However, it is strictly speaking (simpliciter) false. For the dominion of the earth is not absolutely given over to the devil, so that he can do what he likes freely on it. Whatever he is permitted to do proceeds from divine disposition which dispenses everything from a reasonable cause. So the very fact that the innocent are punished does not absolutely depend on the evil intention of the devil but also on the wisdom of God who permits it. Therefore, if sin is not the cause of the punishment of the innocent, it is insufficient to reduce it to the malice of the devil, but one must also find some reasonable explanation for God permitting it. So he clearly shows this saying, “If it is not he, then who is it?” as if to say: If the evil will of the devil is not the sufficient cause of the punishment of the innocent, one must investigate another cause.

To investigate the reason why the innocent are punished in this world, he first proposes the harm which he has experienced in the loss of his goods, and shows the fickleness of the present prosperity using a simile with those things which appear most fleeting in this world. Note first that different people have different relationships to the prosperity of this world. Some men have it as an end because they hope for nothing beyond this. This seems to be the opinion of those who declare that all rewards and punishments are in this life. Such men do not go beyond the prosperity of this world but the prosperity of this world escapes from them when they lose it. Some, however, among whom Job was included, do not place their end in the prosperity of this world, but aim at another end. They pass up the prosperity of this world more than they are passed up by it.

 Three things are required for someone aiming at an end. The first is that they fix their heart in nothing else which might delay them from the end, but hasten to attain the end. So he gives as his first example a runner who aims at the end of his course so that he does not tarry along the way. So he says, “My days pass swifter than a runner.” In this he shows both the frailty of the present fortune and his intention to pursue something else. “They have fled away,” as if repose for the heart is not found in the things of this world. The text then continues, “they have not seen the good,” namely, to which my intention was born which is the true good. Therefore, I do not count myself rewarded for justice, because if you (the friends) think the present prosperity is a reward, I have been punished, as an innocent man, because this has been taken away. Second, when one pursues some end, he must acquire for himself those means which are capable of attaining the end, just as one who desires to be healed must acquire medicines by which he can be cured him. In the same way, he who wishes to reach the true good, must seek those virtues by which he can acquire that end. So he then says, “They move on like ships laden with fruit.” Two things are demonstrated in this verse: the frailty of present fortune, because ships laden with fruit hasten to sell it to keep the fruit from spoiling by delay, and the enthusiasm in tending to an end. This is as if to say: My days have not gone by empty, but I have collected virtues with which I am aiming at experiencing the end in effect. Third, remains the actual experiencing of the end and so he says, “Like an eagle swooping down on its prey,” which he uses as an explanation for the first two things. For the eagle is a bird of swift flight and is especially fast when it is driven on by hunger and has the prey by which it renews its existence as a goal.

Because his adversaries thought he was presumptuous as in these words he had implied that he was just and innocent, he begins to confer with God about his innocence for God alone can judge the conscience. So he continues, “If I say,” in my heart, “I will speak so to no avail,” claiming that I am just and innocent, “I alter my countenance entirely,” from the assurance which I began to feel about my innocence to the anxiety in searching for my sins, “and I writhe with pain,” reflecting in examining my conscience, that perhaps I will not be punished for some sin. He then expresses the cause of his pain saying, “I was anxious about everything I did.” For the cause of pain is great for someone when he has great anxiety about some one thing and yet he falls in the very thing he tries to avoid. However, he experiences great anxiety about everything he does fearing lest he will fall away from justice in some way. This is what he means when he says, “anxious about everything I did.” The reason why he was so anxious about everything he did was fear of the severity of the divine judgment. So he says next, “knowing that you do not spare anyone who is delinquent,” unless he be converted because as Psalm 7 says, “Unless you will be converted, he will brandish his sword.” (v.13) “If however,” after such great zeal for innocence, “I am so wicked,” that I merit to be punished with such great punishments from by God, “why have I labored in vain?” i.e. with such great anxiety to maintain my innocence? For he labors in vain who tends to an end by his labor which he does not attain.

But since man’s purity however great it can be is found wanting under divine scrutiny, he shows as a consequence that when he says that he is pure and innocent, he understands himself to be pure and innocent as a man, not as though he were lacking in nothing from the standpoint of the righteousness of divine justice. Know that there are two kinds of purity: one is of innocent man, the other is of the repentant man. Both of these are imperfect in man if he is compared to the perfect righteousness of the divine standard. He speaks about the purity of the repentant saying, “If I were washed,” if I will be zealous to cleanse myself from my sins, “as with the waters of snow,” which are said to be very cleansing. He speaks about the purity of the innocent when he says, “and my hands shine as though very clean,” i.e. if in my works, which are designated by the term hands, no uncleanness would be found, but the bright clarity of justice would shine from them. However, he uses the expression, “as though very clean,” to suggest that perfect cleansing cannot exist in man. He says, I will be cleansed, “yet you will dip me in filth,” because I will be shown to be filthy compared to your justice and convicted by your wisdom. For there is always some defect found in human works. Sometimes this results from ignorance because of the weakness of the intellect, but sometimes from negligence because of the weakness of the flesh; sometimes from the infection of some affection for earthly things even mingled with good works because of the mutability of the human heart which does not persevere fixed always in the same state. So there is always something in human works which is deficient from the purity of divine justice. When someone is unclean, who nevertheless has shown some exterior manifestation of justice, the signs of justice which appear in him exteriorly do not suit him. So he then says, “and so my clothing will deprecate me,” for exterior works are designated as garments because they wrap someone round about as Matthew says, “They will come to you in sheep’s clothing.” (7:15) Clothes then deprecate someone when the exterior works of a man who pretends to be just are not in accord with his interior desires.

He shows next why no matter how pure he is he cannot defend himself for being convicted as impure by God because of two things in which God excels man. These are the purity of his justice and the authority of his majesty. As to the first, he says, “For he is not a man like myself that I should answer him,” as if to say: If any man wants to convict me of impurity, I would be able to resist him, if he should charge me with things he thinks cannot be preserved in man concerning the perfect purity of justice. But I cannot respond in this way to God for there is no defect found in him. As to the second he says, “and he cannot gain a hearing with him as an equal.” For when two men contend with each other, they can have a judge who examines both arguments. But there can be no arbiter between God and man for two reasons. One reason is because a judge must have a higher wisdom which is like the standard according to which the arguments of both parties are examined. It is clear, however, that divine wisdom is the first standard according to which the truth of all things is examined. Because of this he then says, “Nor is there anyone who can evaluate both our arguments.” He means here: There is no one superior to God from whose greater wisdom divine wisdom can be corrected. Another reason is because there must be a greater power in the judge by which he can sanction both parties. Job excludes this quality saying: “Who could lay hands on both of us,” i.e. coerce both for this is excluded by the immensity of divine power, which he has already demonstrated. (vv. 4-7)

Since, as has been said, he intends to investigate why the innocent are punished in the world, he shows in conclusion what could impede him from this investigation and with what intention he wishes to make this investigation. He could be impeded from this investigation by two things. First, by the affliction from which he was suffering. For men whose minds are occupied with sorrow are not able to investigate accurately. He refers to this saying, “May he withdraw his rod from me.” Second, from the reverence which he had for God. For men sometimes omit to investigate things which pertain to God from the reverence which they have for him. As to this he says, “Let terror of him not frighten me.” He means: May he grant my spirit rest from the affliction which I suffer and not impute irreverence to me because I debate about divine things. Therefore, I will be able to investigate and so he continues, “I will speak and not be afraid of him,” i.e. not being frightened by him. “Nor can I answer when I am afraid of him,” i.e. when I hold myself back from investigating something because of reverence for him. Note that the fear of God sometimes does not restrain those fearing God from investigating divine things. This is the case when one investigates divine matters from a desire to know the truth, not to comprehend the incomprehensible, but always with the rudder that one submits one’s intelligence to the truth of divine things. However, they are restrained by the fear of God lest they seek to investigate divine things, willing to comprehend them and not regulating their intellect with divine truth. So, by these words, Job intends to show that with this rudder he is investigating things which pertain to divine providence so that he may subject his intellect to divine truth, and not oppose divine truth which would be against the reverence for the fear of God.

 

CHAPTER TEN: THE SPECIAL PROBLEM OF THE SUFFERING OF THE JUST

The First Lesson: Job Returns to Himself: The Creator does not deny His Creature

1 My soul is weary of my life, I will unleash my eloquence against myself, I will speak from the bitterness of my soul. 2 I will say to God: Do not condemn me. Tell me why you judge me so. 3 Does it seem good to you to calumniate me, to chastise me, the work of your hands, and to aid the plot of the wicked? 4 Are your eyes made of flesh? Or do you see like a man sees? 5 Are your days like the days of a man? And are your years like man’s time 6 that you should interrogate me about my evildoing and examine my sin? 7 Know that I have done nothing wicked since there is no one who can take me from your hand. 8 It was your hands that made me, they fashioned me wholly round about, and so do you cast me down unexpectedly? 9 Remember, I beseech you, that you have made me like clay, and will you grind me to dust? 10 Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? 11 With skin and flesh you clothed me; with bones and sinew knit me together. 12 You gave me life and mercy and your visitation guarded my spirit. 13 Although you hide these things in your heart, yet I know you remember everything.

Job earlier proposed that both the innocent and the unjust are assailed by trials in this world, and touched upon one reason for the punishment of the innocent which he could think of, i.e. that the earth, as if forsaken by God, had been exposed to the almost evil will of an iniquitous power which punishes the innocent at will. He showed that this explanation was not true because there was something clearly unfitting in that argument. Then he asked who was the one who punishes the innocent and why. He intends now to pursue this question here. Before proceeding to this investigation, however, he shows from what point of view he is speaking. For he is speaking in the person of the afflicted man according to the conceptions which sadness supplies him. So he first speaks about the weariness which he suffers in this life because of the tribulations which is suffering. These render life itself wearisome in proportion to their depth. For although living is enjoyable in itself, living in anguish is wearisome. So he says, “My soul is weary of my life.” For just as a man who finds his life enjoyable chooses to live, so a man who finds life burdensome tries to deprive himself of life. For this reason he adds, “I will unleash my eloquence against myself.” Something is against someone which is destructive to him. A man therefore speaks against himself when he chooses to be deprived of life. But he clearly says, “I will unleash,” for many times a man suffers some disturbances in his heart because of passion either of sorrow, desire, anger or the like, but he still controls all these movements by reason so that he does not express them externally by word. However, when his reason wishes to show what it is suffering internally, it produces the hidden disturbances in words, and then reason is said to unleash eloquence which was previously kept hidden internally. To express this he says, “I will speak from the bitterness of my soul,” as if to say: The words which I will reveal externally show internal bitterness, giving us to understand that he speaks in the persona of the bitter man. But lest this unleashing of speech again be interpreted as reason being overcome by sorrow, he adds, “I will say to God: Do not condemn me.” For when reason is overcome by passion, man murmurs against God and at times goes so far as blasphemy. But when reason remains rightly ordered amid tribulations, one submits himself to God and expects the cure to come from him saying, “Do not condemn me.” At the same time, he addresses the resolution of the question. Since the author had asked above (9:24) what was the cause of the punishment of the innocent in the world, he here at last confesses that God is the author of punishment when he begs that he not be condemned by him, as I Kings says, “The Lord brings death and gives life,” (2:6) the text by the heresy of the Manichees is refuted.

With these premises and supposing that God is the author of punishment, he inquires about the cause of his own punishment saying to God, “Tell me why you judge me so,” i.e., help me understand the reason why I am punished by you. For he knew that the investigation of reason cannot arrive at the goal of truth unless God divinely teaches it. Man must know the cause of his punishment, either to correct himself or to endure the trials with more patience. He proceeds to investigate the question with a kind of disjunction: It is necessary that one who suffers is either innocent or a sinner. He first proceeds supposing that he is innocent. Because we come to the knowledge of divine things through human ones, he proposes two ways the innocent are sometimes condemned by human judgment.

The first way is because of the malice of the one meting out the punishment. Punishments are inflicted on the innocent in three ways from this cause. Sometimes they heap calumnies upon the innocent through cunning. On this theme he says, “Does it seem good to you to calumniate me?” Sometimes, however, they oppress them by violence, and he expresses this saying, “and to chastise me, the work of your hands?” Sometimes they do not cause the innocent to suffer for their own interest, but since they inordinately love evil men, they even help them in the persecution of the innocent. Therefore he adds, “and to aid the plot of the wicked?” Consider carefully, however, that sometimes one and the same thing can be both good and evil in different natures. For a dog to become angry is something good; but for a man to become angry is something evil. No one in his right mind entertains any doubt as to whether God does anything from an evil intention. For there cannot be anything evil in the highest good. But there may be something evil in man which belongs to divine goodness, e.g., not being merciful inasmuch as mercy implies passion, is something blameworthy in man. Yet divine goodness requires it because of its perfection. It is clear that the three actions cited, i.e. to calumniate, to chastise and to aid the counsels of evil men are evil in man. So he calls into the question whether they can be goods in God. He does not ask then, “Do you calumniate me or do you oppress?” but “Does it seem good to you to calumniate me and to chastise,” as if supposing as a certainty that God never does anything unless it seems good to him, and this is truly good. Likewise note here that no one imputes to anyone those things which exist naturally to fault or evil. For it is natural that each thing destroy its contrary, and so God, too, who is good in highest degree, hates those things which happen contrary to him and destroys them. Psalm 5 expresses this, “You hate all who do evil and you will destroy them.” (v.:7) If then men were not made by God but by some contrary principle, as the Manichees falsely claimed, it would seem good that God would chastise men on their own account. To exclude this possibility, he does not simply say, “to oppress me,” but he adds, “the work of your hands.” Also, it would seem good that God would fulfill the wills of the just. However, those who will to calumniate and oppress innocent men are not just but wicked and especially if they should will this not from ignorance or accidentally but from deliberate, premeditated choice. So, since he supposes himself to be innocent in the first part of the debate, it follows that those who wish to oppress him or to calumniate him from deliberation are evil. He therefore clearly says, “and to aid the plot of the wicked?”

After removing this cause, since this cannot seem good to God, since Job is the work of the hands of God and since his enemies who oppress him are shown to be evil, he next proceeds to the second way in which the innocent are sometimes afflicted in human judgment. Sometimes, when someone innocent is falsely accused before a judge, the judge acting according to justice subjects him to torture to discover the truth. The cause of this are three defects in human knowledge. One is because all human knowledge proceeds from sense, and because the senses belong to the body and are about corporeal objects, a judge cannot know the interior conscience of the accused. He excludes this from God when he says, “Are your eyes made of flesh?” as if to say: Do you know through the corporeal senses that you see only corporeal things and cannot know interior things? He uses the eyes because the sight exceeds all the other senses in man. The second defect is that man cannot even understand even all corporeal things through the bodily senses. For he cannot know what happens in things far away and concealed from him. He shows this is not the case with God when he says, “Or do you see like a man sees,” in that you cannot know what happens everywhere, even things which are hidden? The third defect of human knowledge is the result of the nature of time, both because his knowledge increases from day to day and also because he forgets those things which he knows through a long period of time, so it is necessary for him to learn by repetition as it were. He then shows this is not the case with God saying, “Are your days like the days of a man?” in that your knowledge increases from day to day. “And are your years like man’s time,” in that some of your knowledge decreases in the course of time. He continues, “That you should interrogate me about my evildoing and examine my sin,” to investigate through tribulations if I have sinned in my work or am evil in my thought, like men investigate criminal guilt using torture. So, after the investigation of this sort is completed and you find no sin in me, “Know that I have done nothing wicked,” as though you could not know this otherwise than you do not search my sins using scourges. Do this freely and without contradiction, “since there is no one who can take me from your hand.” For sometimes judges fail to discover the truth using torture while those who ought to be tortured are taken out of their hands.

Since he had already stated that he was the work of God’s hands to show by this that it cannot seem good to God to oppress him for his own sake, as though he delighted in suffering, he clearly explains what he had merely stated as a given. “It was your hands that made me.” To preclude someone from accepting the heresy of the Manichees that the soul of man was made by God but the body was formed by a creator contrary to God, he continues, “they fashioned me wholly, round about.” He says, “round about” because the body seems to be round about the soul like a garment is to the one wearing it, or the house is to the dweller. He says, “wholly” to refer to each member of the body. He says, “fashioned” to allude to the fact that man is said to be formed from the slime of the earth. “The hands” may be interpreted as the divine operation, and so he uses the plural, “hands” because although there is one divine power operating, its operation is nevertheless multiplied in its effects, both because of the diversity of the effects and also because of the variety of mediate causes through the mediation of which he produces its effects. He says then, “and so will you cast me down unexpectedly?” because it seems sudden when someone who produces something corrupts it without clear cause. When someone creates something, he wills it to exist, indeed he made it to exist. Someone who destroys something wills it not to exist. So it seems that if someone destroys something which he made before, it seems to be a sudden change of will, unless some obvious new cause arises which makes it clear that what earlier had to be made, now should be corrupted. But no sudden change of will can happen in God, and so he asks almost in surprise, “and so will you cast me down unexpectedly?” He seems to say: It seems unfitting for you now to destroy without cause someone you earlier made. Or the words, “made me,” can refer to the constitution of the substance and the words, “They fashioned me wholly round about,” can refer to those things which modify the substance, whether they are the goods of the soul or of the body or of exterior chance.

Since he had generally posited that he had been formed and created by God, he proceeds specifically to the manner of his creation comparing himself with someone who wants remind someone of something which he seems to have forgotten. He explains everything to him part by part so that even so it may be brought back to mind. For the God seems to forgot the benevolence which he had toward his creation when he exposes it to corruption. He acts like one who forgets and Psalm 12 expresses the same idea, “How long, O Lord, will you forget me forever.” (v.1) Therefore he says, “Remember, I beseech you, that you have made me like clay.” Consider that he recalls two productions of man. The first is the first institution of nature, which alludes to what Genesis says, “God formed man from the slime of the earth,” (2:7) and so he says, “you made me like the clay.” Here he also seems to refer to the composition of man from primary elements. Since it was also said to the first man, “You are dust and to dust you shall return,” (Gen. 3:19) he says as a consequence, “and will you grind me to dust,” which also befits the natural matter. For it follows that what is generated from earth according to nature is fittingly resolved back into the earth. From this someone might wonder, since it seems a greater work to form a man from the earth than to retain men already formed in being so that he does not revert to the earth, hence it is that God who formed man from the dust permits him to return to the dust. The question is whether this is only the result of the necessity of matter that man in this respect has not advantage over other things formed from the earth, or whether it is a result of divine providence punishing man for some fault.

Next he treats the making of man with reference to the work of propagation by which man is generated from man. Note here that he attributes every work of nature to God, not so as to exclude the operation of nature, but in the way things done through secondary causes are attributed to the principle agent. Similarly the operation of the saw is attributed to the carpenter. The fact that nature operates comes from God, who instituted it for that purpose. In the generation of man, first comes the release of the seed and to express this he says, “Did you not pour me out like milk?” For just as semen is the product of nourishment, so too is milk, Second, the physical mass is joined together in the womb of the woman and he expresses this saying, “and curdle me like cheese?” For the seed of the male is related to the matter which the female furnishes in the generation of man and other animals like the coagulant is related to the generation of cheese. Third, the distinction of the organs takes place. Their strength and consistency comes from the nerves and bones and they are encased externally by skin and flesh. So he says, “With skin and flesh you clothed me, with bones and sinews knit me together.” Fourth comes the animation of the fetus, and this is especially true in the case of the rational soul, which is not infused until after organization of the matter. Certain seeds of virtue are divinely infused together with the rational soul into man, some common to all and others special to the individual. For this reason, some men are naturally disposed to one virtue; others to another. Job says further on, “Mercy grew in me from my infancy and came forth from the womb with me.” (31:18) He therefore says here, “You gave me life and mercy.” Last comes the conservation of life, as much in the womb of the mother as after leaving the womb. This conservation is partly due to natural principles and partly to gifts of God which are added over and above nature, whether they pertain to the soul, the body, or exterior goods. Expressing this theme he says, “and your visitation guarded my spirit.” For according to the language of Scripture, as God is said to draw back from someone when he withdraws his gifts from him, so he is said to visit him when he bestows his gifts on him.

To preclude someone thinking because he had said to God, “Remember, I beseech you, that you made me like clay,” that he was of the opinion that God could forget, he excuses himself concerning this language saying, “Although you hide these things in your heart, I know that you still remember everything.” For God is said by analogy to hide something in his heart like a man when he does not show by effect what he has in thought or in affection. So therefore he says that God hides these things in his heart the thing cited before because he does not externally show in effect that he recognizes him as his own creation him whom he seems to cast down so suddenly.

The Second Lesson: Is Job Blameworthy?

14 If I have sinned and you have spared me for a moment, why did you not allow me to be cleansed from my iniquity? 15 If I will be unjust, woe is me! And if I am just, I will not lift up my head drowned in unhappiness and misery. 16 Because of my pride, you will capture me like a lioness and returning you torment me wondrously. 17 You set up witnesses against me, you redouble your anger, and punishments battle against me.

Job sought the cause of his punishment in what he said before based on the supposition that he was innocent. Now he proceeds to inquire whether he is punished because he is a sinner. To show first that he is not punished for sin, he uses the following argument: If he did commit sin, he must have sinned most in the time of his prosperity. But if sin is the only reason why some suffer adversities in the present life, given the presence of the cause, the effect must follow. Therefore, immediately after someone sins, adversity must follow. However, it is clear that Job preserved the same way of living in the times of his prosperity. If he sinned living in this way then, he had sinned for a long time before he suffered adversity. So since adversity did not immediately follow after sin, it would be necessary to say that God spared him for that time because he did not bring any adversity on him. To say that a sin which God had spared him again for punishment seems unfitting. Therefore it does not seem right that he be punished now for a sin which he committed before. He speaks to this theme when he says, “If I have sinned,” in the time of my prosperity,” and you have spared me for a moment,” because you did not immediately cause adversity for me, “why did you not allow me to be cleansed from my iniquity?” This is as if he said: Why since you thought I was pure in pardoning my sin at some time do you punish me again as though I were not pure?

He also adds another argument as a consequence which is this: If sin is the whole cause for the present adversities, it would follow that the just would not suffer adversities in this world like sinners do. Now, we see that adversities are universally suffered by both the just and sinners. This is just what he says, “If I am unjust, woe is me!” because I suffer adversities; “and if I will be just,” either I was that way earlier or only now became so, “I will not,” on this account, “lift up my head,” as if I have been raised up from misery. I speak as one existing “drowned in affliction” from sorrow, “and misery,” from need and confusion. By drowning he refers to the abundance of his affliction and misery, and he seems to say this against the words of Eliphaz (5:18) and Bildad (8:5) who had said that if he were converted he would be freed from adversity. Against this he says that even if he were justified, he is still not free from misery on this account, although he has been sufficiently punished for his past sins, if there were any. He shows this using the term designating the fullness of misery and affliction.

 Because Eliphaz imputed the fact that he said he was innocent to pride, he then says, “Because of my pride, you will capture me like a lioness.” For Eliphaz had already referred to Job saying, “The roaring of the lion and the voice of the lioness and the teeth of the lion’s whelps have been broken.” (4:10) Therefore he says, “Because of my pride, you will capture me like a lioness,” as if he should say: You make me to be reckoned by those who hear my words like a lioness because of pride. The very fact that he was considered evil for that reason was for him a further punishment on top of the first one. So he continues, “and returning you torment me wondrously,” for you first came afflicting me taking away things and wounding my body and now you have returned again and torment me through my friends. This is cause for wonder because I ought rather to receive consolation from my friends. Or he says this because a man is most tormented when he is derided by his friends. He shows the type of torment this is continuing, “You set up witnesses against me.” For Eliphaz and his companions made a pretense of defending the justice of God and in this they wanted to stand like witnesses to speak on behalf of God and attack Job to convict him of sin. Therefore, “you multiply your anger,” that is the effect of your anger when you punish me in so many different ways, “and your punishments battle against me,” when they assault me with a certain authority and without contradiction. For soldiers who normally attack with royal authority and without contradiction anyone who is thought to be a criminal.

The Third Lesson: Job Desires a Respite

18 Why did you take me from the womb? Would that I had perished so that no eye would see me. 19 I would have been as though I had not been, carried from womb to tomb. 20 Will not the short span of my days finish quickly? Leave me then for a little while to myself, so that I may lament my pain; 21 before I go away and I do not return to the land of gloom, covered with the mist of death; 12 a land of unhappiness, a land of shadows; where the shades of death and no order but everlasting terror dwells.

Job had finished his investigation with the statement that he has suffered a great many tribulations regardless of the fact that he is just or unjust. He wants to ask if this can be true lest anyone could believe that God rejoiced in his tribulations. It would seem unfitting that someone would cause an effect as his own to treat it evilly, because every agent rather intends the good in its effect. This supposes, however, that he is the work of God as he made clear in the foregoing arguments. (vv. 3 and 4) So he asks him, “Why did you take me from the womb,” as if to say: Did you cause my birth in order to subdue me with trials? Because someone could object that absolutely considered (simpliciter) it is better to exist even in tribulations than not to have been born at all, he rejects this opinion saying, “would that I had perished,” in my mother’s womb,” so that no eye would see me,” so as not to suffer shame from the great evils which the eyes of men contemplate in me. If I had perished in my mother’s womb, I would still have had the dignity of existing without the unhappiness which befell me in existing. He speaks about this saying, “I would have been,” i.e. I would have participated in what is good in existing, “as though I had not been,” I would have been free from the evils of this life as though I had never existed. For the dignity of man’s being does not consist in being preserved perpetually. But rather, at length, as man dies and is carried to a tomb which is prepared for the dead so that his memory may remain after death in some way. I would have been without even this, and so the text continues, “carried from womb to tomb.”

There is no one who delights in the torments of another who is so cruel that he would give him at least a brief respite from afflicting him. So even if one supposes that God were not the cause of the birth of man, the man’s days are still short, especially in comparison to the eternity of God. Man expects even that brief time will be ended quickly when he has already passed a great part of his life. This is what he says now,” will not the short span of my days,” because all the days of my life are few,” finish quickly,” when a great part of that short span is already past? It is not a great thing to stop persecuting me for the rest of my days, and so he concludes, “Leave me, then.” If it seems difficult for you to not afflict me for at least one hour, it is certain that even after you cease to afflict me, there remains no cause for joy for me, but only cause for grief. He continues on this theme, “A little comfort in my pain,” which I feel from the blows I am suffering. He says this because still he considered himself to be struck hard as long as his friends reproved him. He spoke about this when he said, “You set up witnesses against me.” (v.17)

But one could object: On the contrary you should rather be afflicted here for a little time so that when you go from here, you will find consolation. This can be interpreted in two ways. In one way by returning a second time to this life. He excludes this saying, “Before I go away in,” in death, “and I do not return to live,” again. This can be explained in two ways. In one way it means that he is not to return to the same kind of life as some have falsely maintained. A better interpretation would be that he is speaking in the manner of a debater adopting the point of view of his adversaries before the truth is shown. (14:13 and 19:25) In a subsequent chapter, Job will clearly give evidence about the truth of the resurrection. In all the foregoing, therefore, he speaks about the resurrection supposing the opinion of those with whom he argues to be true, for they do not believe that there is another life except this one. They think men are either punished or rewarded for the evil or the good deeds which they do only in this life. In another way, he could expect consolation after the end of this life in the very state of death itself. But he rejects this saying, “to the land of gloom,” where I will go after death.

This too can be explained in two ways. In one way it can be interpreted to express the hell (infernus) to which the souls of all men, even the souls of the just before Christ, descended. Although the just did not suffer sensible pains there, but only darkness, the others suffer both pains and darkness. But since Job had spoken as if it were doubtful whether he himself was just or a sinner as his friends unjustly accused him (in fact, he was just) he describes hell in a way common to both the good and the wicked. If hell is considered in this common sense, it is called a “land of gloom,” because it lacks the clarity of the divine vision. It is said to be “covered with the mist of death,” because of original sin which is the mist leading to death. It is said to be a “land of unhappiness” because of the punishments which the condemned suffer. It is called “land of shadows” because of the obscurities of actual sins which entangle the wicked. A “shadow” is said to be there, i.e. a likeness “of death” because they are afflicted it is like a perpetual death. There is said to be “confusion” there either because of the confusion of minds which the damned suffer or because of the fact that the order is not observed there which is observed here. Here fire burns and gives light but not so there. There “one dwells in everlasting terror” because although they are always in pain from present punishments there, they still always fear future ones.

But since those against whom he disputes did not assert the immortality of the soul in that it survived after death, he still speaks expressing their position. The passage is better explained according to the literal sense, so that the whole text refers to the body which is buried in the ground and converted into dust. So he says, “to a land of gloom,” to express the very property of earth which is opaque in itself. Although it is opaque considered in itself, those who inhabit it are illuminated by the light of the air covering the earth. The dead, however, do not enjoy that sort of light and so he says, “covered with the mist of death,” as if to say: Because of death, someone does not enjoy the light after death which the living enjoy. Sometimes it happens that although some living person does not enjoy the light surrounding the earth, yet while living deep in the hidden caverns of the earth, he enjoys thing according to his appetite and considers truths according to their intellect. But the dead cannot do this, and so he says, “the land of unhappiness,” because of the lack of all things desirable and “of shadows” because the consideration of truth is lacking. Among things enjoyed by the living, human society is special with proper order according to which certain people rule, others are under them and others serve them. The dead are deprived of this society and so he continues, “whereas the shade of death,” as if to say: There are nothing but shadows among the dead from the point of view of the living. For Wisdom says, “Specters who appeared sad made them tremble with fear.” (17:4) “No order” because the condition of the dead is like it without honor or dignity. “But everlasting terror dwells “with respect to the living for whom the dead are a horror as if to say: There is nothing in the state of the dead except what men shudder at and this will be eternally true for them if they do not return to life.

Therefore, Job shows in the investigation of the causal explanation for his trial that this is not caused by some unjust person into whose hands the earth has been given (9:24 ff.), nor by God persecuting him on a false charge, (v.3) nor God looking for a fault (v.4), nor by God punishing sins (v.14), nor by God enjoying the punishments. (v.18) As a result, the cause of his pains still remains in doubt. Job pursues all these things to lead the friends to conclude that there must of necessity be another life in which the just are rewarded and the wicked punished. It this position is not posited no cause can be given for the suffering of the just who certainly sometimes are troubled in this world.

 

CHAPTER ELEVEN: LAW AND DIVINE TRANSCENDENCE

The First Lesson: The Infinite Grandeur of God

1 Then Sophar the Naamathite answered: 2 Will he who talks a great deal not also listen? Or will a glib man be justified? 3 Will men keep silence for you alone? When you have derided the others, will no one answer you? 4 For you have said: My speech is pure. And I am clean in your sight. 5 Would that God could speak with you and open his lips to you 6 to show you the secrets of his wisdom, that his law is versatile. Then you would understand that you are being punished much less that your evil merits. 7 Will you perhaps understand the footprints of God, and will you discover the truth even to the perfect Omnipotence of God. 8 He is higher than the heaven and what will you do? He is deeper than hell and from what will you know him? 9 He is longer than the earth in measure and wider than the sea! 10 If he wills to sweep them all away or draw them together into one mass, who will contradict him? Or who can say to him: Why did you do this?’

In the speech above (10:16), Job had remarked with wonder that among other evils which he was suffering he had been tormented by his friends who rose against him like witnesses speaking for God. Sophar, who was touched by this argument answers. So the text says, “Then Sophar the Naamathite answered, ‘Will he who talks a lot not also to listen?” He means: You have spoken many things in a disordered way and so it is not surprising that you are censured by your friends. For if a man who speaks many things were not censured, it would follow that men would be held just simply from the fact that they talked a lot. So the text continues, “Or will a glib man be justified?” i.e. will he be considered just? Since Job could say to him that he should have been deferred to because of his dignity, he excludes this objection saying, “Will men keep silence for you alone, when you have derided the others? will no one answer you?” For he understood Job had mocked the others because he termed them witnesses for God (10:17) and when he had said above, “Why do you slander true ideas?” (6:25) So he says Job ought not to be surprised if the others also speak against him. But perhaps Job could say that they have no reason to reproach him or his words. To reject this he continues, “For you have said: My speech is pure.” He makes this interpretation according to what Job had said already, “You will find no evil on my tongue, nor will stupidity resound on my lips” (6:30); and “I am clean in your sight.” Job had not expressly said this, but Sophar wanted to take this interpretation from his words to say that Job had argued that he was not punished for sin. (10:14) Also from his statement,”Know I have done nothing wicked,” (10:17) or “Have I not dissembled? Was I not silent?” (3:26) he infers the same interpretation.

However, one should be careful to note that since sin is a turning aside from the law of God, one cannot know if something is a sin or its magnitude, if one does not know the law of God for “The straight line is the judge of both itself and the crooked line.” So since Job said he was free from sin or he had not sinned as gravely as he was punished, Sophar understood from this that Job did not perfectly understand the law of God. Therefore he says, “Would that God would speak with you and open his lips to you!” He seems to want to insult Job because Job had asked, “Tell me why you judge me so.” (10:3) God is said to speak to man simply when he inspires something of his wisdom in man’s heart, according to Psalm 84,”I will hear what my God says to me.” (v.9) However, God opens his lips when he reveals something to men by means of his effects. For words are formed exteriorly with the lips by which we express the interior concepts of the heart.

Take note that we fail to understand divine things in two ways. First, because as we cannot know “the invisible things of God” except through “things which have been created” (Rom. 1:20) and things which have been created express the power of the creator very weakly, many things must remain to be considered in the creator which are hidden from us. These are called the secrets of the wisdom of God. He speaks about these saying, “to show you the secrets of his wisdom.” Second, because we are not even able to understand the very order of creatures in itself completely in the manner in which it is governed by divine providence. For divine government functions in a very different way from human government. Among men, one is superior in ruling to the extent that his ordering extends to more universal considerations only and he leaves the particular details of government to his subordinates. Thus the law under the direction of a higher ruler is universal and simple. But God is more superior in ruling the more his ordering power extends even to the most insignificant matters. So, the law of his rule is not only secret if we consider the high character of the ruler in exceeding completely any proportion to a creature, but also in the versatility with which he governs every single thing, even the most isolated and most insignificant according to a fixed order. So he continues, “his law is versatile.”

One must certainly reflect on this not only in natural things in that they are subject to the rule of God, but also in human affairs. For human laws respect certain universal things which happen in the majority of cases because those who frame them were not able to consider every single case. The manner in which universal human statutes should be applied to individual deeds is left to the prudence of the administrator. Therefore, man can fall short of righteousness in many things, which are still not contrary to human positive law. But divine law extends to all particulars even to the most insignificant things because it exists in the wisdom of God. Thus a man cannot be discordant with righteousness in something and not be in violation of the divine law. Since then man cannot attain the divine law itself as though investigating things hidden in the wisdom of God, and consequently cannot understand its complexity, he sometimes does not think he is acting against the law of God when in fact he is, or he thinks he is sinning a little when he is sinning a lot. So he then says, “Then you would understand,” i.e. if the secrets of God’s wisdom and the complex character of the law of God had been revealed to you, “that you are being punished much less by him,” in sustaining your punishments, “than your evil merits,” which you are either not aware of or think is small. In this he seems to be criticizing what Job had said already, “Would that my sins for which I merit your anger were weighed in scales and the calamity which I suffer was weighed in a scale. The sands of the shore of the sea could not match them.” (6:2)

Because he thought there was some hidden secret in God’s wisdom which had not yet been revealed to Job, he strengthens this opinion in what follows trying to make it so sure that Job cannot deny it saying, “You will not perhaps understand the footprints of God.” Footprints are signs of someone walking on a road. So the works of God are called his road and the production of creatures by God is understood as a kind of procession of God in his creatures inasmuch as the divine good derived from him in whom it exists simply and in the highest sense proceeds from him by degrees to effects when higher creatures are understood to be better than lower creatures. Therefore, the footprints of God are certain signs found in creatures by which God can be known in a certain sense through his creatures. But since the human mind cannot totally and perfectly understand creatures in themselves, much less can it have perfect knowledge about the Creator himself. Therefore, he then asks, “and will you discover the truth even about the perfect Omnipotence of God?” as if to say: If you cannot know creatures perfectly, much less can you know the Creator. He says plainly “will you discover” because reason proceeds by a certain process of investigation from effects to cause and as soon as reason knows the causes through the effects we are said to discover it.

One should also not be surprised if the Creator is not known if creatures are not perfectly understood, because even if creatures were perfectly known, the Creator would still not be. For a cause can only be perfectly known through it effects when the effects equal in power to the cause. This cannot be attributed to God. So he continues, “He is higher than the heaven and what will you do? He is deeper than hell and from what will you know him? He is longer than the earth in measure and wider than the sea.” He says these things metaphorically. For he does not mean that God, who is incorporeal, is divided into corporeal dimensions, but he describes the greatness of his power using the metaphor of the great size of a body. This is because no matter how great the quantities of bodies seem to be in height, depth, length or breadth, they are still deficient if compared to the greatness of the power of God who can make greater things. So he plainly attributed “omnipotence” to God before (v.7). From this he shows that God cannot be discovered perfectly in his creatures, because even given the fact that all creatures were perfectly known, one cannot know the power equal to that of God adequately from them. Can one take a measure to know the power of God which exceeds every creature? He clarifies this difficulty when he says, “what will you do?” and “from what can you know him?”

Divine power not only exceeds every being in producing them, but also in preserving them in being. For the preservation of a creature is only from God and there is no power in the creature which could resist the divine will if he does not will to preserve the creature itself any more. So he continues, “If he wills to sweep them all away,” by reducing them to nothing, i.e. by taking away their being, “or draw them together into mass,” by confusing them when he takes away the order which distinguishes things, “who will contradict him?” i.e. what power of the creature will be able to so contrary to his will. To preclude someone from arguing that although nothing could be preserved in being except through him as if he is duty-bound, he next rejects this argument saying, “Or who can say to him: Why did you do this?” as though he were trying to require an explanation by him about some duty which he overlooked.

The Second Lesson: The Great Infinity of God

11 For he knows the vanity of men. When he sees something wicked, does he not consider it? 12 The vain man puffs himself up with pride. He thinks he is born free as the young wild ass. 13 But you have hardened your heart and you have stretched out your hands to God. 14 If you will take away the evil from yourself which is on your head, and if you will not remain in your tent, 15 then you will be able to lift up your head, free from stain and you will be stable. You will not fear. 16 Your misery also you will forget and you will not remember them, like floods which have passed. 17 The radiance of noon will come to you in the evening, and although you thought you had been used up, you will arise like Lucifer. 18 You will have confidence because hope has been proposed to you and when you have been buried you will sleep safe; 19 you will rest and there will be no one to frighten you, and many intercede in longing for your face. 20 The eyes of the wicked will be deficient and they will lose every means of flight, and their hope is the loathing of the soul.

After Sophar has shown that there is something hidden in divine wisdom which is incomprehensible to men, he proceeds to clarify something which he had only supposed before, namely that God exacts punishment for sin from man and he concludes as a certainty that God knows the deeds of man. So he says: I am right in saying that smaller penalties are being exacted from you by God than your evil merits, “For he knows the vanity of man,” i.e. the vain deeds of men. Thing are commonly called vain when they are unstable because they have not been fixed in due ends. The vanity of man then comes from the fact that his heart is not fixed in the truth by which alone it can be securely founded. From the fact that he withdraws from the truth he does evil when he desires what is the apparent good in place of what is good. So he then says, “When he (God) sees something wicked,” produced by the vanity of men, “should he (God) not consider it,” as worthy of punishment? For a judge who sees a sin seems to pass over it without considering it when he keeps it secret and does chooses not to punish it. This shall not be said about God. When he sees the vanity of men, he exacts punishment for their evil.

Just as man turns to evil from vanity, so man does not think he is subject to divine judgment from the same vanity. He therefore continues, “The vain man puffs himself up with pride,” so that he does not believe he is subject to a superior. So he continues, “He thinks he is born as free as the foal of a wild ass.” The foal of a wild ass is born free from the domestication of man. However, the foal of the asses which are born in human possession are born to serve the needs of man. Thus, men who do not think they are subject to divine judgment think they are like the foal of asses born wild, even though they see that other men are coerced by divine judgment who are in the same condition. He seemed to say this as an insult to Blessed Job because he takes Job’s words as an argument with God as with an equal when he said, “May he withdraw his rod from me, let terror of him not frighten me. I will speak and not be afraid of him.” (9:34) So he continues, “But you have hardened your heart,” so you defend your evil. Yet, “You have stretched out your hands to God,” in this condition of hardness of heart in prayer when you said, “I will say to God: Do not condemn me.” (9:34) So your prayer is useless. For prayer is useful when man first puts evil aside and then asks God to stop punishing him. He speaks to this theme saying, “If you will take away the evil from yourself which is on your hands,” namely, so that you and desist from the evil work which you still have on your hands,” and if you will not remain in your tent,” i.e. if you make restitution of what you have unjustly taken away and stored away. Or you correct the members of your household for whose delinquencies the masters are sometimes punished for whose because of their negligence in correcting them. “Then you lift up your head,” in prayer to God, “free from stain,” of fault. In this your condemnation will end, first for the future, and so he says, “and you will be stable,” so that you are not shaken by trials later. Also “you will not fear” future dangers, because sometimes although he does not fear the future, a man is still afflicted about those things which he has lost or has suffered. He continues, “Your misery also,” which you have suffered till not, “you will forget” because of the superabundance of the goods coming to you. He strengthens this with an example when he next says, “and you will not remember them, like floods which have passed.” He says this because a man forgets the floods which have happened after the rainy season when calm returns, or because the waters of the flood rush swiftly away, and after they go, no memory of them remains.

But since Job had proposed above two arguments against the promise of prosperity in this life : the devastation of his own body when he said, “Decay clothes my flesh,” (7:5) and the passing of the days of his life when he said, “My days have passed more quickly and so on.” (7:6) So he answers both objections saying, “The radiance of noon will come to you in the evening,” as it so say: Although it seems to you that your days have passed away and your life is over almost like the twilight, such great prosperity can still come to you that it will almost lead you back to the joy of your youth. For as old age is understood by twilight, so youth is understood by noon. Now he calls the clarity of earthly prosperity radiance. He then says, against what Job had said about the consumption of his own body, “although you thought that you have been used up,” because of the weakness which you have suffered, “you will arise like the Lucifer,” because your body will return to its youthful beauty.

As Job had said a second time above that his days has been used up, “without any hope,” (7:6) Sophar then says, “You will have confidence when hope has been proposed to you.” Because Job also had rejected above the opinion of those who said that man returns again after death, after the passage of many centuries, to this same kind of life [7:16 ff.], he does not say that this hope is proposed to him, but hope of the kind in which men live after death in the memories of men. This happens in two ways: In one way in the graves in which the bodies of the dead are placed, so that the memory of the dead is preserved So they are even called monuments, and to show this he says, “When you have been buried, you will sleep safe in the grave,” as if to say: No one will violate your tomb nor should you even be afraid that anyone may try, and so he then says, “You will rest and there will be no one to frighten you.” In another way, the dead live in the memories of men because of the good deeds which they did while they were alive for which their life would be desirable. Addressing this he then says, “many intercede in longing for your face,” that is, very many will earnestly desire your presence or show reverence for your tomb, remembering your good deeds.

Because he had promised these rewards if Job be willing to depart from evil, he shows as a consequence that these rewards are not given to the evil man. So he continues, “The eyes of the wicked will be deficient,” because they will not obtain the good which they desire. For the someone’s eyes are said to be deficient when he looks to obtain something which he is not strong enough to obtain. Just as the wicked cannot obtain desired goods, so too they cannot avoid evils which they suffer or fear. So he continues, “they will lose every means of flight,” because they will not be able to flee evil things. After death, however, they will not be held in veneration or missed, but they will be held in abomination because of the evils which they have done, and he addresses this theme he saying, “and their hope is the loathing of the soul,” which means, that what they can hope for after death is to be in abomination.

 

CHAPTER TWELVE: WHAT EXPERIENCE TEACHES US ABOUT GOD

The First Lesson: God Aids the Humble

1 But Job answered: 2 So are only you men, and will wisdom die with you? 3 I, too, have a heart as you do and this heart is not less than yours. For who is ignorant of the things which you know? 4 Someone who is derided by his friends like I am, will call upon God and he will hear him. For the simplicity of the just man is derided, 5 his light is condemned by the thought of the rich, prepared at the appointed time. 6 The tent of the robbers is abound and they audaciously provoke God, since he has given everything into their hands. 7 Ask the beasts and they will teach you; the birds of the air will be your counselors. 8 Speak to the earth and it will answer you, the fish of the sea will make it known to you. 9 Who does not know that the hand of the Lord made all these things? 10 In whose hand lies the soul of every living thing even the spirit of all human flesh.

In the preceding chapter Sophar had tried to show that man cannot understand the secrets of the wisdom of God (11:6) to insult Job who seemed almost to demand a debate with God. So one can posit from his words and the words of the other friends that their whole intention was directed to three things. First, they were eager to speak about the wonderful things of God, extolling his wisdom, power, and justice, to make their case appear more favorable. Second, they applied these wondrous things which are accepted by everyone about God to certain false dogmas, specifically, that men prospered in this world because of justice and had tribulations because of sins, and that after this life one should hope for nothing. Third, from these sorts of assertions, they denounced Job as evil because of the adversity which he had suffered, and they promised him certain vain things if he would desert his evil. This was specifically, that “after he was buried” he would sleep in a “safety” (11:17,18) and that the radiance of noon would rise in the evening for him, promises which Job considered almost derision. Job‘s whole response turns around these points. First, he speaks against them because they praised themselves in speaking about certain wondrous things of God as though they alone knew them and Job were ignorant of them. So the text says, “But Job answered: So are only you men?” which follows if you consider yourselves alone to know these things about the greatness of God which all men know. Further, since wisdom consists in the knowledge of the greatness of God, it follows that, if you alone know these things, that wisdom is found only in you, and thus wisdom will pass away when you pass away. So he continues, “and will wisdom die with you?” as if to say: It is not fitting either that you alone are men or that you alone are wise.

Since they could object, ‘We are not the only ones who know, but even so, you still do not know,’ he answers saying, “I too have a heart,” to know these things, “as do you, and this heart is not less than yours,” in this knowledge. Lest this be ascribed to arrogance, he continues, “For who is ignorant of these things which you know?” as if to say: It is no great thing if I say I know what you know, since it is no great claim to know them, since every man can know them. But by the fact that you say that I am ignorant of these things, you seem to hold me in contempt as though I am ignorant of things which everyone knows. Thus he says, “Someone who is derided by his friends like I am,” as you do when you think me foolish, “will call upon God and he will hear him,” because God especially helps those bereft of human aid. As Psalm 26 says, “Though my mother and father abandoned me, yet the Lord raised me.” (v.10) In this he attempts to answer Sophar’s argument above, “Then you will be able to lift up your head,” (11:15) as if to say: I should not wait any longer to pray faithfully because by the very fact that I am derided by my friends, hope is given to me of having recourse to God.

He shows why the one derided by a friend is heard by God saying, “For the simplicity of the just man is deride,” when he shows who these just men are, who are derided and why, and also by whom when he continues, “his light is condemned by the thoughts of riches.” To be derided is the lot of someone deficient in resources, but to deride is the lot of someone who has a superabundance of possessions. But those who super-abound in virtue do not laugh at those who are deficient in virtues. Rather they have compassion on them and help them if they can. But those who abound in temporal goods often especially deride those who lack temporal goods and especially when they do not show enthusiasm for acquiring temporal goods. But the enthusiasm of just men is not to acquire temporal goods, but to pursue righteousness eagerly, and so they abstain from fraud and the evil intent by which more riches are generally acquired. They are accounted naive because of this. So most people laugh at the just. Moreover, their simplicity is the cause of their mockery, but simplicity is not mocked as a clear evil but as a hidden good, and so here simplicity is called “a light” because of the clarity of justice. So simplicity, is “condemned by the thoughts of the rich” by those who put their end in riches. Truly those who place their highest good in riches must think that goods are greater in proportion to their utility for acquiring riches. They must have contempt for the simplicity of the just since it is the opposition of the growth of wealth. But although the simplicity itself of the just is condemned in the thoughts of the wealthy, at the same time it is not frustrated from realizing its true end, and so he says, “prepared at the appointed time.” However, he does not say this as though at some moment in this present life some earthly prosperity must be given to the just as a reward for his simplicity. Rather he leaves the appointed time undetermined and the end to which the simplicity of the just was prepared. For the argument has not yet arrived at this point, but it will be clarified in the following things. So then Job insinuates in a hidden way why he is derided by his friends whom he calls rich men, because they placed the prosperity of this world as the end of man as if it were the reward of the just man. (cf. c. 2) He, however, does not seek this as a reward in his simplicity, but another at the appointed time. Thus he has faith that if he invoked the Lord he will be heard by him.

Since the rich who deride the simplicity of the just do not stop at this but go as far as contempt of God, he adds, “the tents of the robbers abound.” Because some place their end in riches, it follows they search carefully for all the ways to attain this last end either by fraud or by some other manner. So they become robbers who abound in the wealth when they rob. Contempt of God follows from this abundance, and so he adds, “and they audaciously provoke God.” For someone acts audaciously when he believes what he is doing is good. For since the conscience is vexed about evil, man does not perpetrate evil without fear, as Wisdom says, “Since iniquity is fearful, it is condemned by all.” (Wisdom, 17:10) Those who place their ultimate end in riches, think from this very fact that everything is good which is useful to attain this end. Now it is clear that when they acquire riches by robbery, they provoke God by acting against his justice, and so they consequently audaciously provoke God. Or, another interpretation is: from riches man becomes so welled with pride he thinks he is sufficient unto himself through them and so he has audacious contempt for God, because he put his confidence in riches. As Deuteronomy says, “The beloved grew fat and disobedient.” (Deut. 32:15)

He had said that the tents of robbers who provoke God abounded. So lest someone perhaps object that this kind of abundance is not from God, he says, “since he has given everything into their hands,” into their power. For the power to harm someone comes only from God, but the will to do evil comes only from oneself. (cf. c. 1) By the fact then that they rob they provoke God, but their resulting abundance comes to them from God. He proves this as a consequence when he continues, “Ask the beasts and they will teach you, the birds of the air will be your counselors; Speak to the earth and it will answer you, the fish of the sea will make it known to you.” He shows that all these things answer when asked, “Who does not know that the hand of the Lord made all these things?” So, then, all things confess that they have been made by God. Man asks creatures when he diligently considers them. But they respond to the questioner when in considering them, he perceives that there is such a great order found in their disposition of parts and in the order of their actions that they could exist only governed by the disposition of some superior wisdom. If, however, creatures of this sort were made by God, it is evident that they are in the power of God as artifacts in the power of the artisan, and so he adds, “In whose hand,” in whose power “lies the soul of every living thing,” not only of other animals, “and even the spirit of all human flesh.” If, then, they are in his power, it is clear that no one can have them, except from him, as Daniel says, “The Most High rules in all the kingdoms of men, and he will give to each one what he will.” (4:14) So it is evident that no man can possess the earth and the animals spoken of above which are the wealth of man unless God will give them into his hand. So if robbers prosper, God gave it into their hands. By this opinion he refutes those who asserted that wealth is given by God as a reward for justice, since wealth is even given to thieves by God.

The Second Lesson: God rules Everything

11 Does not the ear judge words and the mouth of one eating flavor? There is wisdom in the ancients and prudence comes with advanced age. 13 With him is wisdom and courage; he has counsel and understanding. 14 If he destroys something, there is no one who rebuilds; and if he closes a man in, there is no one to free him. 15 If he will withhold the rain, everything will dry up, and if he will send the rain, it will cover the earth. 16 With him is strength and wisdom, he knows the one who deceives and the one who is deceived. 17 He leads counselors to a foolish end and judges to dullness. 18 The belt of kings he loosens and he girds their loins with ropes; 19 he makes the priests inglorious and he dispossesses the nobles. 20 He alters the truth from their lips and takes away instruction from the elders. 21 He pours contempt on princes. Those who have been oppressed he relieves. 22 He reveals those deep in darkness and he kindles light where death’s shadow lay. 23 He brings growth to the races and ruin to them, and when they are overturned he restores them to integrity. 24 It is he who changes the heart of the leaders of the people of the land and he deceives them so that they proceed in vain along a trackless way: 25 they will grope in darkness and not in the light, and he make them wander like drunkards.

Job asserted above (v.2) that what Sophar had said about the excellence of the greatness of God that was evident to all men. Here he intends to show that men can come to an understanding of these things by the experience of divine power and wisdom in human affairs. First, then, he shows how men arrive at knowledge in things from experience, saying, “Does not the ear judge words” namely when it hears them, “and” does not “the palate of one eating,” distinguish “flavor”. Since experience is from sense, he fittingly shows the power of experience for the judgment of the senses especially in hearing and taste. For, since hearing is the most teachable of all the senses, hence it is most valuable in the contemplative sciences. Taste, however, is appreciative of food, which is necessary for the life of men; and the hence through the judgment of taste he expresses the experience which one has about things in the active life. Because of this, from the judgment of the two senses, he shows the power of experience as much in speculative things as in practical things. When he then says, “There is wisdom in the ancients,” this expresses the contemplative life because old men heard many things. “Prudence comes with advanced age.” This express the active life because men taste many things in a long life, both helpful and harmful.

After he has shown the power of experience, he then adds what men can know by experience about God when he says, “With him is wisdom and courage, he has counsel and understanding.” Here he attributes four things to God which have an order among themselves. The first, certainly, is to know hidden things, which pertains to understanding. Second, from the things he understands one discovers in actions means which are fitting for an end. This pertains to the counsel just as in speculative things, by also those things which a man understands he deduces reasons to know certain conclusions. The third is for the purpose of having a right judgment about the things which man investigates, which pertains to wisdom. The fourth is that he might vigorously execute those things which he judges ought to be done, and this pertains to fortitude.

For since experience proceeds from sensible things, which although prior as to our way of being, are yet simply and in their nature posterior, he therefore begins to show how men can know divine power by experience. He does this first in human affairs themselves. For we can see that some men are totally destroyed, either by death, as far as natural being, or by complete humiliation, as to life in civil society even though they still have many protectors. So when they cannot be helped by men to escape destruction, it is clear that this happens to from some concealed cause both, divine and excelling human power, since human power cannot resist him. This is what he says, “If he destroys, there is no one who rebuilds.” In the same way we see that some are impeded in their projects, even if they are not completely destroyed, although they may have many counselors. Thus it clear that this destruction also results from by some more excellent power. So he then says, “if he closes a man in,” by involving him in different kinds of difficulties, “there is no one to free him,” i.e. who can set him free, for according to the Qoheleth, “No one can correct him whom God has despised.” ( 7:14)

Then he shows how men can experience divine power in natural things, especially in rains and droughts. So he says, “If he will withhold the rain,” so that it does not fall, “everything will dry up,” which grows on the earth. “If he will send the rain,” in great abundance, “it will cover the earth,” as in floods. Although from some natural causes the rains sometimes cease to the point of a complete drought and sometimes are so heavy they flood the earth, this still does not detract from divine power which has ordered even natural causes themselves to their proper effects. Thus, as a conclusion from these premises he says, “With him is strength.”

Then he begins to progress to the second point, saying, “and wisdom,” as though proposing what he intends to clarify. For it is a property of wisdom that through it one may have right judgment about things. The man judges correctly about the truth of things who can discern how someone is deceived in turning aside from the truth. Thus, to show that in God there is wisdom, he then says, “he knows the one who deceives and the one who is deceived,” that is, he discerns by right judgment the deception by which someone neglects the truth from a right understanding of the truth. He supposes this from what he and the friends hold in common; which is that human affairs are subjected to divine judgment, which God could not judge unless he knew man’s sins, among which frauds and deceptions hold a great place.

Then he shows that there is counsel in God by those things which appear in human affairs. On this point, consider that as God knows both the principles and conditions of speculative sciences and their order to one another, and he still does not acquire knowledge of the conclusions through the principles, but he knows all things in the first, simple glance. In the same way, in practical matters we know the end and those things which are for the end and what ways are most expeditious for attaining the end, but he does not inquire as to the means in view of the end as we do when we take counsel. Thus just as one says that there is reason in God, insofar as he knows the order of principles with respect to their consequences; yet it does not belong to him to investigate anything by the method of reasoning as reason does. Thus counsel is attributed to him not, by the method of investigation, but by way of simple and absolute knowledge. The depth of a man’s counsel can depend on two things. First, when from the ingenuity of his counsel he leads his adversaries (even though they may seem skilled in counsels) to the necessary fact that they must arrive at an unfitting conclusion when all their means prove inadequate. To this he says, “He leads counselors to a foolish end,” when by the profundity of his counsel he keeps them from the means by which they seek attain such an end. Second, someone shows the depth of his counsel when he can lead his adversaries by the subtlety of his counsel to ignore what they ought to do. To this he says, “and judges to dullness.” He calls judges wise who usually have the habit of right judgment about what should be done. Just as in speculative disputes someone is called a skilled debater who can lead his adversary into an erroneous conclusion, or can so prove some proposition that nothing can be said against it, so God does against his adversaries. Since by ways which they themselves chose, he both leads them to perdition, and so he strengthens his truth and works so that they cannot be shaken by his adversaries.

Since he has said this in a general way, he now makes it clear by specific examples, showing how all things which seem excellent in human affairs are brought by the depth of divine counsel “to a foolish end” and “to dullness.” In human affairs, kings excel with respect to power. As to them he says, “The belt,” that is the swordbelt, “of kings he loosens,” for their power is designated in their swordbelt, according to the Psalm 44, “Gird your sword upon your thigh, O mighty one: (v.4); “and he girds their loins with ropes,” when they are led into captivity, in which he notes the complete failing of their power. Priests excel by the reverence in which they are held, concerning which he adds, “he makes the priests inglorious.” The first men and counselors in a kingdom or a city seem to excel in the prudence of their advice, and he says regarding them, “and he dispossesses the nobles,” that is, he deceives them. Philosophers excel in the consideration of the truth. He says regarding these, “He alters the truth from their lips,” i.e. the lips of those who are eager to speak the truth. For God sometimes darkens the mind of those men by taking away his grace so that they cannot find the truth, and, consequently cannot speak it, as Romans says, “Saying that they were wise, they have become foolish.” (1:22) Old men also excel in the direction of the young, and in their regard he continues, “he takes away instruction from the elders,” either because old men are made fools of, or because they are completely taken out of society, as Isaiah says, “the Lord will take away from Jerusalem the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder.” (Is. 3:1) Princes excel in the authority which they have for ruling others, and he says about these, “he pours contempt on princes,” so that they are despised by those who should obey them.

All these things seem to relate to what he had said, “He leads counselors to a foolish end.” (v.17) But the fact that sometimes some are advanced from lower state to the highest seems to relate to what he had said, “and judges to dullness.” (v. 17) As to this he then says, “and those who have been oppressed he relieves,” which refers to the weak oppressed by the power of greater men, who are sometimes elevated to a state of power, after those oppressing them are cast aside. As to those men who have no prestige, but live hidden in the lowest state, he then says, “he reveals those deep in darkness,” that is, men placed in a lower state, who are unknown because of this, as though existing in darkness. He leads these to glory by revealing them to others. As to those that are thought foolish and ignorant, he then says, “he kindles the light where death’s shadow lay,” for the shadow of death seems to be ignorance or stupidity, since the living are distinguished from the nonliving especially by knowledge. Thus, “he kindles the light where death’s shadow lay,” when he gives either wisdom to the ignorant or he shows those who were wise but whose wisdom was unknown before actually to be wise. What he has just said, “Those who had been oppressed he relieves,” is in opposition to what his other statement, “he removes the belt of kings.” (18a) When he added, “he reveals those deep in darkness,” he says this in opposition to “he makes the priests inglorious.” (19a) When he next said, “he kindles the light where death’s shadow lay,” he says this in opposition to everything which follows. As he had said that such alternation of sublimity and dejection happens among particular persons from God, he shows this same thing among all men saying of them, “who brings growth to the races,” so that they increase in the great number of men, “and ruin to them,” when he destroys them either by wars or pestilence. “And when they have been overturned,” either by these things or from the oppression of one or of many who preside unfairly, “he restores them to integrity,” for he returns it to a good condition.

After he has shown there is strength, wisdom, and counsel in God, he finally shows that God is intelligent, understanding by this the knowledge which He has of hidden things, which seem above all to designate what is hidden in the heart. He shows that God knows these things by the fact that he works in the hearts of men, and thus he knows the hidden things of hearts like his own effects. So he says, “It is he who changes the heart of the leaders of the people of the land,” with respect to their wills. As Proverbs says, “The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord, who will incline it to whatever he wills.” (21:1) Although God inclines the wills of all men, yet special mention is made of kings and princes because their wills carry more weight, for many follow their will. As to the intellect he adds, “he deceives them,” which means certainly not that he leads them into falsity, but because he takes his light away from them, so that they may not know the truth, and clouds their reasoning power so that they cannot find suitable means to do the wicked deeds which they propose. So he then says, “so that they proceed in vain and along a trackless way,” that is, so they proceed by ways which are unfitting, by means of which they cannot arrive at their end. One errs in acting in two ways: first, by ignorance, and regarding this he says, “they will grope in the darkness and not in the light,” so that ignorance is designated by darkness and knowledge by light. Some grope in ignorance like blind men when they only consider what they can feel is right in front of them as if by touch. Some err in another way in actions because of their passions, by which their reason is bound in particular choices, so that they do not apply universal knowledge to action. As to this he adds, “and he will make them wander like drunkards,” for their reason is so bound by passion that it is like a kind of drunkenness.

 

CHAPTER THIRTEEN PROSPERITY AND ADVERSITY

The First Lesson: The Perversity of the Friends of Job

1 Behold my eye has seen all these things and my ear has heard them, and I understood each one. 2 I also know in the same way you do nor am I inferior to you. 3 Yet, let me speak to the Almighty and I desire to dispute with him.- 4 First, I will show you are makers of a lie and worshippers of false dogmas. 5 Would that you were silent so that people would think you were wise men! 6 Listen, then, to my correction and hear the judgment of my lips. 7 Do you think that God needs your lie so that you can speak deception for him? 8 Do you take God’s part and try to judge for God? 9 Or will it please him from whom nothing can be concealed? Or will he be deceived like a man by your fraudulent practices? 10 He himself will blame you because you took his part secretly. 11 He will rouse himself immediately and he will throw you into confusion and his terror will rush upon you. 12 Your memory will be like ashes and your necks will be laid low in the mud.

After Job had shown that the excellence of divine power could be known by experience, he concludes, “Behold, my eye has seen all these things and my ear has heard them,” as if to say: I know the effects described before which show divine strength and wisdom partly by sight and partly by hearing. Nor has my knowledge rested in these sensible effects; but from them I have ascended to the understanding of the truth, and so he says, “and I understood each one,” that is, what each effect demonstrated about God, or about his wisdom, understanding, counsel, or strength. So excluding their boasting, by which they seemed to be putting themselves before Job by manifesting the great things of God, he then says, “I also know in the same way you do,” those things which pertain to the magnificence of God, “nor am I inferior to you,” in that I know less or imperfectly those things or I were learning them only from you.

But as Sophar had proposed the divine excellence (11:6) as an argument against Job for undertaking to dispute with God, he continues, “Yet let me speak to the Almighty,” as if to say: Although I understand from his diverse effects the excellence of divine wisdom and power not less than you, I am still not reasonably altered by this from my proposition. But rather I want to address God moved by opening my heart to Him who is the searcher and judge of hearts, and by searching for the truth from Him who is the doctor of all truth. So he adds, “and I desire to dispute with him,” not to disapprove of his judgments, but to destroy your errors, according to which it would follow that there would be injustice in God. So he continues, “First I will show that you are makers of lies,” because they had invented the lie that Job had led an evil life. They had arrived at this lie because they were mistaken about the faith with which one worships God, believing that recompense of merits and punishments only happen in this life, and he therefore says, “and you are worshippers of perverse dogmas.” For whoever turns aside from the true knowledge of God worships not God but with his own false dogmas. In saying, “first I will show you,” one should not understand as if first in the order of the following teaching he is going to destroy their perverse doctrines and then afterward dispute with God; but that while he intends to dispute with God first in his intention is to destroy their doctrines.

Men often propose some things as capable of being proved, although they are false; but when they do not know how to defend them or prove them convincingly they show their ignorance when they speak. This was the case with the friends of Job. So he then says, “Would that you were silent so that people would think you were wise men,” because the very fact that you defend and prove false dogmas unfittingly shows that you are foolish. So, since you propose false dogmas and you take unsuitable means to prove them, you are in need of correction. This is what he concludes, saying then, “Listen, then, to my correction,” by which I will correct your process of reasoning, “and hear the judgment of my lips,” with which I will condemn your false dogmas.

First he intends to correct their unfitting process of reasoning, for since they had posited that rewards and punishments of good and evil works are repaid in this present life, it was necessary for them to use lies in defending the justice of God. Because it is evident that some innocent and just men are oppressed by adversities in this life, it was therefore necessary to impute crimes to the just to defend the justice of God. So they charged Job with impiety because they saw him afflicted. But one who defends the truth by lies uses unfitting means, so he says, “Do you think that God needs your lie?” as if to say: Is it necessary to use lies to defend divine justice? In fact, what cannot be defended except by lies cannot possibly be true. However when someone strives to lie against the clear truth, he is compelled to invent some crafty and fraudulent means to color his lie with fraud. So when these men too tried to lie against the justice of Job which was clear to all, they used some deceptions, namely, they pointed to the human frailty which falls easily into sin and compared it to divine excellence, so that one might think it was more likely that Job was evil than that God was unjust. So he then says, “so that you might speak deception for him?” because they were speaking with deceit in God’s behalf when they tried deceitfully to charge Job with impiety to defend God’s justice.

They could respond, however, that they did not say anything deceitfully against Job, but only what they thought. Job therefore shows that if this were true, they would fall into another vice although they had been excused from deceit, namely, the respect of persons which excludes the justice of a judge. Respect of persons consists in someone condemning or denying the justice of another which is apparent because of the greatness the other person, although he does not know his justice. If, therefore, the friends of Job judged him to be evil, though they saw justice clearly in him and did so only in the consideration of the divine greatness, although they could not understand according to their own dogmas how Job might be punished by God justly, it is as if they were respecting the person of God in the judgment with which they condemned Job. So he then says, “Do you take God’s part and try to judge for God?” He clearly says this because someone strives to judge for another, who does not know his justice, and yet tries to invent any means he can to show that his cause is just.

Sometimes one person in fraudulently defending another’s cause pleases him despite the fact that he is a just man. This can happen in two ways: in one way because he is ignorant that his cause is unjust, and so he is pleased that he is defended by someone, and this he excludes from God saying, “Or will it please him (God),” that you strive to judge unjustly in his behald e cannot be ignorant of the case and so he says, “from whom nothing can be concealed?” This can happen in another way when the man whose case is defended by fraud is deceived by the frauds of the one defending him, so that he thinks his defense is just. He excludes this from God saying, “Or is he deceived like a man by your fraudulent practices?” Therefore it is clear that God does not need a lie to defend his goodness and justice because truth can be defended without a lie. So then, it is also evident if when their dogmas are accepted, the unfitting conclusion follows that the justice of God needs a lie for its defense, then it becomes clear that their proposed teachings are false.

One must also carefully consider that he who uses a lie to show the justice and the goodness of God not only does a thing which God does not need, but also offends God in this very act. For since God is truth, and every lie is contrary to the truth, whoever uses a lie to show the magnificence of God acts against God by this very act. The Apostle Paul says this very clearly, “We are found to be false witnesses of God, because we have given testimony against God that He raised Christ to life who has not been raised if the dead are not raised.” (1 Cor. 15:15) To say then that God raised the dead, if this is not true, is against God although it may seem to show divine power, because it is against the truth of God. So those who use a lie to defend God not only do not receive a reward as though they were pleasing to Him, but they also merit punishment as though acting against God, and so he continues, “He Himself blames you because you took His part secretly.” He says, “secretly” because although they seem exteriorly to take the part of God, as if knowing the justice of God, yet in their consciences they did not know by what justice Job had been punished, and thus in the hidden part of hearts they respected God’s person in trying to defend his justice falsely.

He now shows how God will blame them saying, “He will rouse himself immediately and he will throw you into confusion,” as if to say: Merely because you are not suffering adversity, dispute about the justice of God with a tranquil mind. But if tribulation comes upon you (which he calls God rousing himself because in Scripture punishment is called the anger of God) your minds will be thrown into confusion, especially because it is not solidly grounded in the truth. Since they did not think anything was good or evil but temporal goods, when they avoided sins so that no evil thing would befall them, they seemed to wish to serve God only because of the fear of present evils. So he says, “and his terror will rush upon you,” for you only fear God because of the fear of experiencing evil now, and that is just what will happen to you according to Proverbs, “What the unjust man fears will come upon him.” (10:24)) Because they had vainly promised Job that even after death he would live in the memory of men (11:18), in his turn he promises the contrary to them as though mocking them, saying, “Your memory will be like ashes.” For as ashes after the consumption of wood remain a short time, so the reputation of man passes away quickly after death. Hence, it is vain to expect fame after death. They also had promised him immutability and reverence for his tomb after death, (11:19) but this also he accounts as leading to nothing and he promises the contrary to them saying, “your necks will be cast down in the mud.” By their necks he means their power and dignity which he says will be thrown down “in the mud” i.e., to a weak and contemptible thing.

The Second Lesson: Job asks God what Grievances He has against Him

13 Be silent for a little while so I can say everything the mind suggests to me. 14 Why should I tear my flesh with my teeth and carry my soul in my hands? 15 Even if he should kill me, I will hope in him; nevertheless, I will blame my own conduct in his sight, 16 and he will be my savior: for no hypocrite will come into his presence. 17 Hear my discourse and understand my riddles with your ears. 18 If I were judged, I know I would be found just. 19 Who will be judged with me? Let him come! Why must I be spent in remaining silent? 20 Spare me in only two things and then I will not hide myself from your face. 21 Put your hand far from me, and let not your power terrify me. 22 Call me and I will answer you, or at least allow me to speak and you will answer me. 23 Show me how many crimes, sins, wicked deeds and faults I have. 24 Why do you hide your face and think of me as your enemy? 25 Do you show your power against a leaf which is driven by the wind? Do you break a dry stick? 26 Do you write bitter things against me and do you want to consume me with the sins of my youth? 27 Have you places my foot in fetters; have you observed my paths and have you considered the traces of my footsteps, I who must be consumed like something rotten and like a garment eaten by moths?

 

After Job had corrected the process of reasoning of the friends who sought to defend divine justice with lies, he now proceeds to destroy their false dogmas under the form of a debate with God. First he asks for attention, as though he were about to say important things saying, “Be silent for a little while, so I can say everything my mind suggests to me.” He adds this because perhaps they could say, “You say useless things and so you should not be heard.” But to listen to whatever someone says for a little while is not burdensome. Or he adds this phrase to show that he is not going to speak by composing lies or by devising frauds, but what he has in his mind.

His friends have accused Job of two things: impatience and ostentation, (4:2 and 7) both of which he excludes from himself so that he might not seem in the following disputation to speak either from anger or from pride. Observe that impatience comes from an overabundance of sorrow not moderated by reason, for sorrow leads to despair when excessive. As a result of despair a man disregards the health of both his body and soul. So to exclude impatience he says, “Why do I tear my flesh with my teeth?” as it to say: There is no reason why I should despair of the health of my body through impatience like those who in despair of bodily life and devour their own flesh when they are oppressed by hunger. And also why “should I carry my soul in my hands?” for there is no reason why I should disregard the salvation of my soul. For what a man carries in his hands is lost easily, and so it seems one is not very afraid to lose it. But a man hides what he is afraid of losing. He then states the reason why he should neither tear his flesh through impatience nor carry his soul in his hands, saying, “Even if he should kill me, I will hope in him,” saying in effect: You do not believe because of the temporal evils which I suffer that I have stopped hoping in God. For if my hope were in God only because of temporal goods, I would be driven to despair for he already said, “I have despaired.” (7:16) But because my hope is in God because of spiritual goods which remain after death, even if he afflicts me unto death, the hope which I have in him will not end. However, because hope which is inordinate degenerates into presumption, he adds, “nevertheless, I will blame my own conduct in his sight,” as if to say: I do not hope in him because I believe he will free me even if I will persevere in sin, but because I believe he will free me if I will renounce my sins. Therefore, “he will be my savior,” if my sins will be displeasing to me. He shows why God saves those who blame their own conduct in his presence saying, “for no hypocrite will come into his presence,” for he is a hypocrite who although is unjust, nevertheless professes openly to be just and does not accuse his conduct in the presence of God. Therefore “he will not come into the presence of God,” to see God in whom the ultimate salvation of man consists something which Job will explain later at greater length (4:13 and 19:25). He will still come into his presence to be judged by him. Thus he has not only excluded impatience from himself, but also the presumption of innocence, when he confesses publicly that he blames his conduct in the presence of God so that in so doing every calumny of his friends may end.

Then as he is about to enter into a debate, he first renders his listeners attentive in two ways: in one way by couching what he will say with a certain mystery, since if we declare what must be said to be difficult, our listeners would be more attentive. So he says, “Hear my discourse and understand my riddle with your ears.” A riddle is an obscure discourse, which presents one thing on the surface and means something else internally. In another way he renders them attentive by assuring them of the truth of what he is about to say, and so he says, “If I am judged, I know I will be found just,” which he certainly does not say about his own innocence, since he has already said, “I will blame my own conduct in His presence.” (v.15) But he says this of the truth of the doctrine about which they were disputing as though in a trial. The one is found just in a trial in whose favor the sentence is decided. So when someone in debate is shown to be speaking the truth he is found just as if in a trial.

After he has rendered his listeners attentive, he determines the manner of his disputation. For he wants to dispute in the form of a debate. He expresses this saying, “Who will be judged with me?” that is, with whom may I debate about the truth? “Let him come,” that is, let him come forward to dispute! He then states the reason why he intends to dispute about the truth, saying, “Why am I spent in remaining silent?” For man is spent little by little in the course of this present life, especially when he has been subjected to infirmity like Job. He is spent in silence when he so passes this present life that he still does not leave any trace of his wisdom by his teaching. To avoid suffering this fate then, Job had decided not to be silent about the truth so that he might live on after death in his teaching, although consumed in his body. There can also be another explanation. Indeed, when someone expresses externally a pain which he suffers in his heart, his soul is in a certain sense pacified, whereas in remaining silent, his pain becomes more acute interiorly and he is somehow consumed by his own silence.

Since, then, he has sought someone to argue with him, saying, “Who will be judged with me?” and as he had said already, “I desire to dispute with God,” (v.3) from here on he speaks as if he is in the presence of God and is disputing with Him. But for a man to dispute with God does not seem fitting because of the excellence by which God excels man. However, one must consider that the truth does not change because of the difference of persons and so when someone speaks the truth, he cannot be convinced of the contrary no matter with whom he argues. Now Job was sure that he was speaking the truth inspired by God through the gift of faith and wisdom. So, though he confided in the truth, he asks that divine strength might not strike him down, either through the evils he presently bore, or through the fear others to be inflicted. He says this, “Spare me in only two things, and then I will not hide myself from your face,” as if: I will not be afraid to dispute with you. For when someone is afraid, he usually hides himself from the sight of those whom he fears. He shows these two things when he says, “Keep your hand far from me,” that is, do not whip me with the scourges of the present. “And let not your power terrify me,” with future punishments. For a man can be impeded in these two ways from being able to defend even the truth which he knows for certain in a disputation: when he is either molested in body or disturbed by fear or by some other passion in the soul.

Now a debate is between two persons: namely, the one making objections and the other one answering them. So, in entering a dispute with God, he gives him the option of choosing which role he wants to take: the one making objections or the one answering. He therefore says, “Call me and I will answer you,” saying in effect: You object and I will answer. “Or at least allow me to speak,” by raising objections, “and you will answer me.” He says this figuratively to show that he is prepared to do both, either to defend the truth which he professes, or to refute what might be said against the truth. First he offers God the part of the opposing party saying, “Show me what great crimes, sins, wicked deeds, and faults I have.” Here one must consider that Job’s friends seemed to argue against Job, as though taking the part of God, according to what was said already, “Do you take God’s part to try to judge for God?” (v:8) Now the friends of Job used the argument against him that he had been punished for his sins. He therefore asks that God will use this objection against him saying; “Show me what great iniquities, sins, wicked deeds and faults I have,” saying in effect: If then you afflict me for my sins, as my friends charge falsely trying to speak for you, I ask you to show me for what sins you afflict me so gravely. So he does not say, “what evils I have,” but “what great,” because if there is no other reason for present afflictions than the sins of men, as is the opinion of the friends of Job, those sins must be the most grievous which are punished with the most grievous afflictions. Some sins are sins of commission done against the negative precepts of the law. There are other sins of omission by which one neglects affirmative precepts of the law. One does something against a precept of the law in three ways: in one way when he harms his neighbor, like theft, murder, and things of this sort which are properly named “wickedness” because they are contrary to the equity of justice which regards the other. In another way a man sins against himself by a disorder of his own act, as appears especially in the sins of gluttony and lust, and these are called “sins,” as certain disorders of man. In a third way one sins directly against God in deeds like blasphemy and sacrilege. These are called “crimes” because of their gravity. Omissions are properly called “delinquencies.”

Then, as though the one to whom he had given the part of the opponent were silent, Job himself assumes the part of the objector and asks about the causes of his punishment. First, since someone could object that God punished him as his enemy, he rejects this by saying, “Why do you hide your face and think of me as your enemy?” For it seems evil that someone regard someone else as an enemy without proof. But the only fitting cause for hostility is an offense. Thus it is evident that God thinks a man his enemy when his sins are clear. But Job had asked Him to show him his sins, and they had not been shown to him. So there appeared no reason why God was unfriendly to him. He insinuates this when he says, “Why do you hide our face?” as though he hated Job secretly for a hidden motive. For the face of a man who hates is uncovered when he does not hide the reason for his hatred.

Second, because someone could object that God punished him in order to show his power, he rejects this cause saying, “Do you show your power against the leaf which is driven by the wind?” For it is not fitting that some very powerful man should wish to show his power against something very weak. The human condition is compared to a leaf, which is driven by the wind, because man himself is both frail and weak like a leaf which falls easily, and notwithstanding the passing of time and the variety of fortune, he is driven like a leaf by the wind. So it does not seem fitting to say that God punishes man only in order to show his power in man’s case.

Third, since someone could object that God punished him because of the sins which he committed in his youth, he also rejects this by saying, “Do you break a dry stalk? Do you write bitter things against me, and do you want to consume me for the sins of my youth?” For a man in his youth is compared to green grass, but in his old age he is compared to a dry stalk. It seems that to punish a man in his old age for the sins of his youth is as though someone should rage violently against a stalk for not being green grass. But we should note in this examination that he does not deviate from this opinion that the adversities of man are caused by divine judgment, and to indicate this he says, “You write bitter things against me,” as though bitter things, that is, the adversities of man result from the writing of divine sentence.

Fourth, someone could object that, even though Job had not committed grave sins, he had still committed some sins which are inevitable in this present life, and so he is punished for these in this way. He also rejects this saying, “Have you placed my foot in fetters; and observed all my paths, and have you considered the traces of my footsteps, I who am consumed like something rotten and like a garment eaten by the moth?” Here we should consider that those who are placed in prison fetters are so bound that they cannot get free. Just as a man’s foot is bound in fetters, so the proceeding of man is bound by the law of divine justice from which he cannot turn away. This is why he says, “Have you places my foot in fetters? Divine justice evaluates the deeds of men, not only as to what each one does, but also as to what spirit and with what end, and so he says, “and observed all my paths,” that is, my deeds, “and have you considered the traces of my footsteps,” as to the good-will of the doer and also all of the circumstances of the deed. It seems unreasonable that God should have such great care for human acts if they disappear completely in the death of the body, a death which is sometimes natural and sometimes violent. So for both he adds, “I who am consumed like something rotten,” expressing natural death, “and like a garment eaten by the moth,” expressing a violent death, saying in effect: If as my friends suppose there is no other life except the present one which man loses either by rotting away or by being cast down, it seems unreasonable that God would be concerned with such great strictness about human acts that he punishes man even for the slightest sins and negligence.

 

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: TRUE RETRIBUTION

The First Lesson: Wonder about Divine Care

1 Man, born of woman, lives for a short time, is filled with many sorrows: 2 who like a flower comes forth and is crushed, and he flees like a shadow, he never rests in the same state. 3 And you consider it worthy to open your eyes on someone like this and you bring him with yourself in judgment. Who can make clean one conceived of unclean seed, if not you alone?

Since this last point is of particular value for the investigation of the truth, he insists more on clarifying this truth. What he had said about himself in particular he applies again generally to the whole human race.

Here he first explains the frailty of the human condition, as to origin when he says, “Man, born of woman,” like from something frail; as to duration when he says, “lives for a short time”; and as to condition when he says, “is filled with many sorrows.” Here he explains what he said above, “Do you show your power against the leaf which is driven by the wind?” (v.25)

Second he excludes those things in which a man can take glory; the first among these is the beauty of the body with which a man is strong in his youth. But this glory is nothing because it passes quickly like the flower. So he says, “Who like a flower comes forth and is crushed,” easily. The second is fame, which does not last for a long time, and so he says, “and he flees like a shadow.” For no trace or memory of a shadow which passes remains. The third is power and strength with which someone tries to preserve himself and his own things, and against this he says, “he never rests in the same state.” These three things can refer to the three others which the previous verse treats. For man born of woman is like a flower which comes forth and is quickly crushed, but he lives for so brief a time so that he flees like a shadow whose trace does not remain. Therefore he is filled with many sorrows so that though at times he might acquire prosperity and joy, yet he would never rest in the same state.

Third, he wonders about the attentiveness of divine providence for man. For it seems marvelous that God should have such great care about a thing so fragile and despicable. Although everything is submitted to divine providence, still God’s care for man appears especially in three things. First, he has given him laws and precepts for living. He touches this when he says, “and you consider it worthy open your eyes on someone like this,” for someone is said to open his eyes on someone when he directs him and considers his ways. Second, God rewards man for good deeds and punishes him for evil deeds, and he touches this when he says, “and bring him with yourself in judgment.” Third, God adorns him with the virtues by which he preserves himself pure against the deformity of sin. He touches this when he says, “Who can make clean one conceived of unclean seed?” The seed of man is certainly unclean, not according to nature, but according to the infection of concupiscence. Yet a man conceived from this unclean seed is sometimes proven pure by virtue. As the power to make hot what is cold belongs to what is hot in itself, so the power to make pure what is impure belongs to what is pure in itself, and so he says then, “If not you alone,” who are really pure in yourself? For purity and cleanliness are found perfectly only in God, in whom there can be no potentiality or defect. So whatever is clean and pure in any way takes this purity and cleanness from God.

The Second Lesson: The Hope for Another Life

5 The days of man are short, the number of his months are in your presence. You set up limits which cannot be passed. 6 Leave him a little while so that he might rest until the desired day comes like a hired man.

Job had wondered about the divine esteem for men, since man is still of such a frail and unhappy condition, considered in the state of the present life. But this wonder would cease if one considers that after this life there is another life reserved for man in which he remains in eternity, and so from here on he tries to show this. Therefore he presupposes what he intends to show as a proposition, the brevity of the present life, when he says, “The days of man are short.” He shows that the very measure of human life is determined by God, when he says, “the number of his months is in your presence,” as we say the number of those things is in our presence whose number is established by us. Moreover, he uses the unchangeableness of divine determination as a premise when he says, “You set up limits which cannot be passed.” God’s order is not deceived, and so to live either longer or shorter than divine disposition has established is impossible, although it may be contingent that this man or that man die now or before if considered in himself. There are boundaries established beforehand for human life from some corporeal causes, for example, from constitution or something like that. The life of man cannot extend beyond this, although it can be shortened because of some accidental cause. But the life of man can neither extend more nor less than the limits determined according to divine providence, under which everything falls.

He also uses as a premise the expectation of the other life when he says, “Leave him a little while so that he might rest until the desired day comes like a hired man.” Here it is necessary to observe that as the sun is the cause of day, so God is the author of life. When the sun leaves, the day ends and night comes. By God leaving, he understands the termination of the present life which man has from God. The present life, however, is filled with many tribulations, indeed he spoke about this when he said about man, “he is filled with many sorrows.” (v.1) Since rest seems to be the end of toil, he calls death rest. So he says, “Leave him for a little while so that he might rest,” i.e., take away the power by which you give life to man so that he can die. But the death of a man is not definitive, for he will be made whole again for life which does not die. Thus the state of human death, until whatever time resurrection is deferred, is brief in comparison to the state of future immortality, and so he clearly says, “for a little while.” For God does not leave other things perish which will not return for a little while but for eternity, but he goes away from man for a short time, for man perishes in such a way that he will rise again. He said above that the life of man on earth is like the day of the hired man, (7:1) desiring his payday. But the time of the repayment of man is not in this life, as was the opinion of the friends of Job, but in that life to which man is restored by resurrection. He then says, “that he might rest,” that is, that he might die, yet not forever, but “until the day comes he desires,” like the day of the hired man when he receives his pay is desired. Here Job for the first time makes clear his intention. For he does not deny that the present adversities are punishments, as though God did not reward or punish the acts of man, but maintains that the time of retribution is properly in the other life.

The Third Lesson: The Strength of the Tree and the Weakness of Man

7 If a tree is cut down, it has hope; it grows green again and its branches sprout. 8 If its roots age in the earth and its trunk has rotted in the dirt, 9 it will be rejuvenated by the mere scent of water, and it will put forth a shoot as when it was first planted. 10 Where, I ask you, is man when he has died, been stripped, and destroyed? 11 As the waters recede from the sea and the rivers dry up empty, 12 so when a man sleeps, he will not rise again; until heaven passes away, 13 he will not awaken nor will arise from his sleep.

After stating his opinion, Job here proceeds to make it clear. First, he shows that as things appear in this life man is in a worse condition than even those weak creatures which are renewed after their destruction. This fact is especially clear in trees. The life of the tree, like the life of a man, can fail in two ways, by violence or by nature. He speaks about the violent destruction of the tree, “If a tree is cut down, it has hope,” the natural aptitude to renew its existence again because, “it grows green again,” if it is replanted, “and its branches sprout.” In this he demonstrates that it recovers the perfect life it formerly had. He expresses the natural failure of the tree saying, “If its roots age in the earth,” when it cannot take in food because of some defect in natural power, and consequently, “its trunk has rotted in the dirt,” because it is reduced to dust in some place by rot, “it will be rejuvenated by the mere scent of water,” when the rain comes because the rottenness of the wood possesses a seminal potency. “And it will put forth a shoot,” in a growth of leaves, “as when it was first planted.” This is not found to be the case in man with the passing of the present life and so he then says, “Where, I ask you, is man when he has died, been stripped and destroyed?” Job posits there are three things which man loses by degrees. First, the soul is separated from the body, and he expresses this saying, “when he has died.” Second, he loses his covering and decorations of the body, which remain for some time to someone who has died. But afterwards he is stripped of even these and so he says, “been stripped.” Finally, even the very structure of his body is dissolved and expresses this saying, “and destroyed.” After these things have been completed, no sensible appearance of man remains and so to those who believe in only the sensible and corporeal appearances of man he seems entirely reduced to nothing. To express the doubt of these people, Job then says, “Where, I ask you, is man?”

Note here that what does not perish totally can be renewed, as he has already said about wood which is cut down or is old. (vv. 7-9) But the renewal of something again when nothing remains seems impossible, for example, to renew water in the sea or a river which has completely evaporated. Man, however, as the text has already explained, seems to be so consumed by death that nothing remains of him, and so according to this argument it seems impossible that he is restored to life again. He expresses this theme saying, “As the waters recede from the sea and the rivers dry up empty, so when a man sleeps (when he has died), he will not rise again (from the dead).” Just as it seems impossible for incorruptible things to be corrupted, so it seems impossible for what is totally corrupted to be restored again. Heaven is incorruptible, and so he says, “until heaven passes away, he will not awaken,” i.e. come to life again, “nor arise from his sleep,” to do the works of the living again. He is saying in effect: As it is impossible for heaven to pass away, i.e. to be corrupted, so it is impossible for man to rise again from the dead. This is said, as we already established, in the supposition that nothing remains of man after death, according to his question,” “Where, I ask you, is man.” (v.10) One can also refer this to the opinion of those who posited that the whole corporeal universe should be corrupted and renewed again. In this reparation, they posited that the same men would return. So the sense would be: While this world lasts, man will not rise again from the dead. The Catholic faith, however, does not submit that the substance of the world with perish, but only the state of this world as it now exists. Paul expresses this in 1 Corinthians, “The figure of this world is passing away.” (7:31) Therefore this change in the figure of the world can be understood here by the wearing away of heaven. For the common resurrection of the dead at the end of the world is expected, as John says, “I know that I will again in the resurrection on the last day.” (11:24)

The Fourth Lesson: Waiting for Darkness and Hope of Resurrection

13 Who will grant that you will protect me and hide me in Sheol until your anger passes and you will determine a time for me when you may remember me? 14 Do you think a dead man can live again? For all the days during which I have now struggled, I await the time when my transformation will come. 15 You will call me and I will answer you; you will stretch forth your right hand to the work of your hands. 16 You have numbered my steps, but spare my sins. 17 You have sealed my faults in a sack, but you cared for my iniquity.

After Job has shown what one can conclude about the resurrection of man from things which are apparent to the senses, he posits here his own opinion about the resurrection. It would be a horrendous and unhappy thing if man should so depart after death that he would never be brought back to life. This is because everything naturally desires its own existence. So Job shows his desire for the future resurrection saying, “Who will grant,” even after death,” that you will protect me in Sheol,” i.e. you would preserve me with the special care with which you protect man, “until you anger passes,” at the time of death. The death of man is caused by the removal of the divine action which conserves life, and so he said before, “Go away from him for a little.” (v. 6) God seems angry with a man when he takes his gift of life away from him, especially for us who believe that death came from the sin of the first man. He explains how he wishes to be protected even in Sheol when he says, “and will you determine a time for me when you may remember me?” For God seems to have forgotten man when he takes the gift of life away from them. Then he remembers man when he leads him back to life. Therefore, to determine the time in which God remembers the dead man is nothing else than to determine the time of the resurrection. He very fittingly calls this “protection.” (v.13) For when an artist, having dismantled his work, does not want to repair the building with the same material, like a house or something of the sort, he seems to have no care for the material of the house which is falling into ruin. But when he intends to repair the building from this material, he guards it diligently so that it does not perish. He calls this guardianship “protection.”

After he has expressed his desire to rise again, he next asks if his desire could ever be realized at some future time for desires are sometimes for things which are also impossible. He then says, “Do you think a dead man can live again?” He shows what he himself thinks about this saying, “For all the days during which I have not struggled, I await the time when my transformation will come.” We should note here that he had compared the life of man on earth to a soldier’s (7:1) and to the days of a hired man in another place (7:6) because both soldiers and hired men await something after their present state. Therefore, just as he expressed that the state of the resurrection is like payday for the hired man, so he now shows the same concept using the metaphor of the soldier. Note that he does not await the desired end in any part of the present life, because he likens all the days of this life to the state of military life saying, “For all the days during which I have now struggled.” One should also note that man does not await another life like this one, because then that one would be like a warfare also. But he awaits a life in which he would not struggle like a soldier, but will triumph and reign. So he says, “I await the time when my transformation will come.” He means here: For my whole life I struggle like a soldier, changeable and subject to labors and anguish. But I wait to be transformed in the state of the other life which is without labors and anguish. The Apostle Paul expresses the same theme of transformation in 1 Corinthians when he says, “We shall all arise but we shall not all be changed.” (15:51)

He excludes man being transformed in the state of the other life natural power saying, “You will call me and I will answer you,” as if to say: The future transformation will proceed from the power of your voice or your command, as John says, “All those who are in the tombs will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear it will live.” (5:28) Calling is characteristic of commanding, but answering is the obedience by which the creature obeys the Creator. Since the dead will rise not only according to the command of God to life, but also will be changed to some higher state by divine power, he then says, “You will stretch forth your right hand to the work of your hands,” as if to say: The man who rises again will not be the work of nature, but of your power and you stretch forth your helping right hand to this work when he will be elevated to the glory of the new state by the help of your grace. Or his statement, “You will call and I will answer you,” can be refer to the renewal of the body because he adds, “you will stretch forth your right hand to the work of your hands,” to the soul which naturally desires to be united with the body to which God will stretch forth his right hand as a helper when the soul will attain by divine power what it cannot attain by his own power.

Now that he has posited his opinion about the resurrection of the dead, he returns to the subject of his wonder before at how much careful attention God gives to the works of man. He expressed this when he said, “You observed all my paths and considered the traces of my footsteps.” (13:27) Here then he says, “You have numbered my steps,” as if to say: Now it is no wonder if you so diligently examine the deeds of man since you reserve him for another life. Note however that divine providence considers human acts in two ways. First, in the fact that he examines and evaluates them. He clarifies this when he says, “you have numbered my steps.” One numbers things which one cares about. Lest someone object that it is a mark for very great severity for God to examine the deeds of frail man with such great care, Job consequently emphasizes the tendency of God to pardon us when he says, “but spare my sins.” He means: Although you number these things still I am filled with hope that you may spare me. Second, divine providence is attentive to human acts in that he preserves the good and wicked deeds of men in his memory to repay them with good or evil, and so he continues, “You have sealed my faults in a sack.” For what one seals in a sack is carefully kept. Lest anyone say this sealing excludes divine mercy he then says, “But you cured my iniquity,” as if to say: You lay up punishments for sins in such a way that you nevertheless cure my faults by penance.

The Fifth Lesson: One cannot return from Sheol

18 A falling mountain is leveled, and the rock is displaced. 19 Water wears away stones and the earth is gradually consumed by flood. Will you destroy men in the same way? 20 Have you strengthened him a little to allow him to disappear forever? Will you change his face and let him go to waste? 21 Whether his sons are noble or base, he will not understand. 22 Yet his flesh will suffer grief while he lives, his soul will grieve over him.

After Job has posited his idea about the future resurrection, he here strengthens it with probable arguments. The first argument is taken from a comparison of man to lower creatures which are totally consumed without hope of restoration. For all things which are generated are subject to corruption and so even the mountains are dissolved by certain causes after the passage of some periods of time, although they seem very solid. He speaks to this theme saying, “A falling mountain is leveled.” Rocks also are still dashed to pieces either by violence or by some natural cause, even though they seem very strong. He next speaks to this, “and the rock is displaced.” Even stones are still worn away by water, although they seem very hard. He expresses this saying, “water wears away stones.” The earth too is gradually changed in its disposition although it seems very stable and so he says, “The earth is gradually consumed by flood.” But it would not be fitting to apply the same reasoning to the corruption of man and the corruption of these other things. So he concludes as though leading the argument to an unfitting conclusion, “Will you then destroy man in the same way?” He seems to say here: It is not fitting that men experience corruption like other corporeal creatures. For all the other creatures mentioned are completely corrupted and therefore they are not renewed the same in number. However, although man may be corrupted in body, he still remains incorrupt in soul which transcends the whole genus of corporeal things, and so the hope of restoration remains.

He then deduces the same things using reasons drawn from the properties of man. Man excels all lower creatures in two ways. One of these is operative power. For he truly is the lord of his own act by free will, which is proper to no other corporeal creature. Because of this, man is more powerful that every other corporeal creature. Therefore, he uses the others for his own sake. He also excels them in intellectual knowledge. Since he has a mind, yet this is somewhat indicated in his body especially in the face which man has and is very different from the other animals. As a result of these two properties, it is apparent that man is not corrupted like other things so that they do not exist perpetually. He expresses the first of these properties saying, “Have you strengthened him a little to allow him to disappear forever?” He means: It is not fitting for you to strengthen man so much for a short time and in such a way that he would not exist perpetually afterwards. For it seems foolish for someone to make a very strong tool to use it for only a short time and then throw it away for good. The power of every corporeal creature is determined by finite effects while power of the free will is directed toward infinite actions. This in itself bears witness to the power of the soul to make it endure infinitely. As to the second property he says, “will you change his face and let him go to waste?” He means here: It is not fitting that you should make his face so different from the other animals and yet still dismiss him from the from this state of life forever never to return to life like the other animals. Intellectual knowledge is commonly perceived by the “face” because it is proper to the rational creature. Intellectual knowledge can only fittingly belong to an incorruptible substance, as the philosophers prove.

But someone could object that, although man does not return after death to life, he does not still pass away perpetually because he still lives on in a sense in his sons. The words of Baldath seem to have spoken to this theme when he said, “This is the joy of its life, that others may be brought forth from the earth again.” (8:19) But Job excludes this saying, “Whether his sons are noble or base, he will not understand.” He means here: Man seizes eternal good by the intellect and so he also naturally desires it. The good however which is in the succession of sons cannot satisfy the intellectual appetite if man is totally consumed by death so that he does not exist perpetually. A man does not comprehend the good in the succession of his sons either while he lives or after he dies if he completely ceases to exist through death. The intellectual appetite of man does not tend to the eternity of this good then, but to the good or evil which he has in himself and so he adds, “yet his flesh will suffer pain while he lives, his soul will grieve over him.” Here he distinguishes two pains. One is of the flesh in the apprehension of sense. The other is of the soul from the apprehension of the intellect or imagination which is properly called sorrow and here is termed grief.

 

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: NEW CONDEMNATION OF JOB

The First Lesson: Job’s Pride and Presumption

1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered saying: 2 Will the wise man answer as though he were speaking to the wind and will he fill his stomach with? 3 You blame with words one who is not equal to you and you say what is not profitable to you. 4 As much as you can, you have rejected fear and you have born away prayer from the presence of God. 5 For your wickedness has taught your tongue and you imitate the tongue of blasphemers. 6 Your mouth will condemn you and not I and your lips will answer for you. 7 Were you born the first man and formed before all the hills? 8 Have you been a party to the counsel of God, and will his wisdom be beneath you? 9 What do you know that we do not know? What do you understand which we do not? 10 Both old men and the elders are much older among us than your fathers. 11 Is it a great thing for God to console you? For your evil words prohibit this. 12 Why does your heart lift you up and as if you were thinking great things do you open your eyes wide in astonishment? 13 What causes your spirit to swell against God so that you speak words like this from your mouth.

After hearing Job’s response, Eliphaz does not answer the depth of his reasoning but tries to calumniously misrepresent certain words Job has spoken and interpret them according to their superficial meaning, not the depth of their meaning. He first reproaches Job’s statement in the beginning of his discourse when he said, “I too have a heart as do you and this heart is not less than yours.” (12:3) In this Eliphaz cites him for two things. First, he says he is guilty of empty boasting because he commends himself and he speaks to this theme saying, “Will the wise man answer as though he were speaking to the wind?” This is because someone seems to speak to the wind when he composes a speech to obtain glory. Second, about anger because he had begun to speak by reproaching them saying, “So you think only you are men.” (12:2) Therefore he says, “and will he fill his stomach with passion?” i.e. his spirit with anger.”

He next reproves him for saying, “I want to dispute with God,” (13:3) and again, “Spare me in only two things and then I will not hide myself from your face and so on.” (13:20) In this reproach he cites him for many things. First, for pride because he contends against someone who is greater than he is. He speaks to this theme saying,” You blame with words one who is not equal to you.” Second, for foolishness because Eliphaz thought such a dispute was harmful, and so he says, “You say what is not profitable for you,” by arguing with God. He shows why it is not advantageous to debate with God because this sort of dispute excludes two most necessary things. The first of these is the fear of God. For he who fears someone does not presume to discuss contentiously with him. Job had also expressed the same thing already saying, “And let your power not terrify me.” (13:21) Therefore Eliphaz says here, “As much as you can, you have rejected fear,” because you tried to exclude the fear of God from yourself. The second is prayer to God. For arguing with someone and entreating him are two different sorts of things. So he then says, “You have born away,” taken away, “prayer from the presence of God.” This goes against what Eliphaz had said, “This is why I entreat the Lord.” (5:8) Job had not disputed with God from pride, but out of confidence in the truth. But Eliphaz rashly judged this to flow from wickedness and so he then says, “For your wickedness has taught your tongue,” as if to say: It is apparent from the effect that you blaspheme and so he then says, “and you imitate the tongue of blasphemers.” In reality, the man who blasphemes denies the justice of God. But one who disputes with God about his justice seems to imitate the language of the blasphemers. To argue about something seems characteristic of one who doubts it; and one who doubts it is close to denying.

So Eliphaz wishes to condemn Job for arguing and he first says that Job had spoken such manifest evil that no other reproof is necessary. His very words themselves show his evil intent. He expresses this saying, “Your mouth will condemn you and not I, and your lips will answer for you,” as if to say: Your words need no other answer but they destroy themselves. Still he shows that the argument he used was unfitting in many ways. First, by comparison of Job to all creatures. For if any creature could argue with God, this would be really fitting only for the first and most excellent of creatures, a condition which does not befit God and so Eliphaz says, “Were you born the first man and formed before all the hills,” so that for this reason you would have the competence to argue with God on behalf of the whole human race and every creature? Second, by comparison with God. For one can dispute with someone about his deeds fittingly when he knows the reason why the one with whom he is arguing acts. He can know this in two ways. In one way, by learning it from him. In another way, by judging the deeds of the other from a higher wisdom. Neither of these ways is fitting to Job in the comparison of man to God. So he says, “Have you been a party to the counsel of God?” to express the first theme of learning from him and “and will his wisdom be beneath you,” to express the second theme. Third, he shows it in comparison to other men. But Job does not in fact seem to be any wiser than others from confidence in the possession of a higher knowledge so that he can presume to dispute with God. So he then says, “What do you know,” from faith or revelation, “that we do not know?” “What do you understand,” by natural knowledge,” that we do not know?” But since Job could boast of knowledge received from others, he then says, “Both old men,” in dignity of knowledge and life, “and the elders,” in time, “are much older among us than your fathers,” than your teachers from whom you received knowledge, or according to the literal sense, your ancestors. He wants to convey a greater knowledge from a greater age, because a man is made wiser by long experience in years. Fourth, on the part of Job himself, he shows his dispute with God has not been fitting. First, because it was harmful to him expanding what he had already said, “You say what is not profitable for you.” (v.3) So, he says, “Is it a great thing for God to console you?” He means here: It is easy for God to lead you back to a state of prosperity, “for he both wounds, and he binds up,” as was already said. (5:18) “But your evil words prohibit this,” by which you provoke the anger of God more against you. Second, he shows that the debate was vain and proud, expanding something he had said already, “Will the wise man answer as though he were speaking to the wind?” (v.2) So he then says, “Why does your heart lift you up,” in pride to make you presume so much on your wisdom. He tries to demonstrate a sign of pride saying, “and as if you were thinking great things, why do you open your eyes wide in astonishment?” For when someone thinks about great, wonderful things, he is entranced and he opens his eyes wide in astonishment. Third, he shows that this dispute was presumptuous and impious, also explaining a previous statement, “You blame with words someone who is not equal to you.” (v.3) Here then he says, “What causes your spirit to swell against God so that you speak words like this from your mouth,” with which you start an argument with God?

The Second Lesson: Divine Punishment is Inevitable

14 What is man that he should be without stain and be born just from his mother’s womb? 15 Look! Among his holy ones, not one is unchangeable and the heavens are not pure in his presence. 16 How much more abominable and useless is man who drinks evil like water? 17 I will show you, listen to me; what I have seen, I will tell you. 18 Wise men confess and do not hide their fathers. 19 The earth is given to men alone and the stranger will not tread their ground. 20 For all his days, the evil man is proud, and the number of years of his tyranny is uncertain. 21 The sound of terror is always in the ear of that man, and when there is peace, he suspects plots. 22 He does not believe he can return from darkness to light when he sees the sword everywhere around him. 23 When he goes to look for bread, he knows that a day of darkness is at hand. 24 Tribulation will terrify him and anguish will wall him it, like a king who is prepared for battle. 25 For truly he extended his hand against God and he fortified himself against the Almighty. 26 He ran against him with head erect, and he is furnished with a fat neck. 27 Thick darkness covered his face and lard hangs from his sides.

After Eliphaz had censured Job for his provoking God to argue which he thought pertained to presumption of wisdom, he now censures him for presumption of justice because he had said, “If I am judged, I know I would be found just.” (13:18) Eliphaz attacks this statement first because of the frailty of the human condition in which man avoids sin with difficulty and so he says, “What is man that he should be without stain.” Man even does good with difficulty and so he continues, “and be born just from his mother’s womb?” For, as Proverbs says, “Justice in abundance is the greatest virtue.” (15:5) This does not seem to suit one who has his origin from the basest thing. Second, he attacks the same statement by comparing him to more noble creatures, and so he then says, “Look! Among his holy ones,” the angels, “not one is unchangeable,” from his own nature, but they can only be turned away from sin because of the gift of divine grace. “And the heavens,” which hold the supreme place of purity among bodies, “are not pure in his presence,” in comparison to him since they are material, corporeal and changeable. Third, he attacks the same statement from the personal condition of Job himself, as a conclusion to the major (premise above in v. 15) “How much more abominable,” through sin, “and useless,” by the failure of justice, “is the man who drinks evil like water,” i.e. who commits evil as if it were nothing and without any consideration. For someone who drinks wine has to drink with careful attention so that he does not become drunk. This is not the case with someone who drinks water. In this he notes that Job would easily fall into evil like a man drinks water easily and readily.

After Eliphaz had censured Job for provoking God to argument and presuming his own justice, he now censures him about the words he used in the argument and especially for his statement, “Do you think of me as your enemy? Do you show your power against the leaf which is driven by the wind?” (13:24 and 25) and “You have placed my feet in fetters and so on.” (13:27) First he gets his attention saying, “I will show you,” what you were asking from God, “listen to me,” carefully. He shows how he can show him saying next, “what I have seen,” in the discovery of his own intellect, “I will tell you.” Besides, I will not be embarrassed to tell you what I have heard from others, putting them forward as my authority, because “Wise men confess and do not hide their fathers,” from whom they learned wisdom. It is truly the lot of the ignorant and the proud to attribute what they have learned from others to themselves. He then shows why they should not be hidden because of their dignity saying, “The earth has been given to men alone.” This statement can be related indifferently and in the same sense either to the wise men or to their fathers, whom he also wishes to be understood as wise. The earth is said to have been given only to wise men because they are lords of earthly goods in that they use them only for their own good. However, foolish men use them to their own harm, as Wisdom says, “Creatures were made as a snare to the feet of the foolish.” (14:11) To show the dignity of these men he says, “and the stranger will not tread their ground,” because those who are strangers to wisdom cannot be numbered among the fellowship of the wise. Or because the wise are not supplied by strangers. For the stranger is said to tread on those who are conquered and are made subject to the power of a foreigner.

After he has gotten the attention of his listener, he then tries to answer the arguments which Job had used in debate. He understood Job to have said two things in these arguments. First, Job was living in anguish and fear, as though God pursued him and laid traps for him because he said, “Why do you think of me as your enemy?” (13:24) and “Have you observed all my paths?” (13:27) Second, because he believed that Job doubted his own ruin when he said, “Do you write bitter things against me and want to consume me for the sins of my youth?” (13:26) First, then, he speaks against the first argument and then against the second in these words, “He will live in desolate cities.” (v.28) Therefore, he first shows the root for which the suspicion mentioned already arises in Job’s heart: his impiety and his will to do harm. So he says, “For all his days, the evil man is proud,” because he exalts himself against God to harm men. He uses the term “days” to mean not the days of his life, but the days when he has power and prosperity. But since the will to harm someone else comes from the man himself, but the power to harm comes from God, he cannot know how long he is given the power to carry out his evil will. So he continues, “The number of years of his tyranny is uncertain.” From this lack of certainty, suspicion and fear arise. He describes this suspicion and fear as a consequence saying, “The sound of terror is always in the ear of that man,” since he is threatened by every rumor thinking some attack is being prepared against him. It is as though he confides in no one. To express this theme, he adds, “when there is peace, that man suspects plots,” for although no one is plotting against him, he still is terrified of everyone because of his own evil will by which he will be prepared to harm anyone.

Now when one has fears about some of his enemies, he can hope to escape even if he is defeated for a while with the help of his friends. But one who confides in no one and fears everyone cannot hope for deliverance after he is oppressed, and so he next says, “He does not believe that he can return from darkness to light,” from a state of adversity to a state of prosperity, “when he sees the sword everywhere around him,” when he sees enemies threatening him on all sides. He says this especially to answer what Job had said already, “I, who am consumed by rot and like a garment eaten by a moth.” (13:28) Eliphaz understood by this the Job was in despair of being delivered. Now although a tyrant fears all strangers, he still can sometimes confide in the members of his family or his household with whom he lives securely. But when his evil is beyond all measure, he fears even the members of his own household with whom he lives and so the text continues, “When he goes to look for bread, he knows that the day of darkness is at hand,” i.e. the day of death. This is as if to say: Not only is he suspicious of plots in his dealings with outsiders when he must associate with strangers, but he also is suspicious in his dealings with the members of his household in eating, drinking and the like. He believes that death is being prepared for him by the members of his own household. Since he has such fears of everyone, he does not rest but is always plotting something against those whom he fears. Therefore, the occasion of fear is ever multiplied for him, and so he says, “Tribulation will terrify him,” threatening him by the actions of others, “and anguish wall him it,” because he fears danger from every quarter. “Like a king who is prepared for battle,” because a king who is prepared for battle is so in anguish from fear that he will lose, that he still tries to destroy his enemies.

He next shows why the tyrannical, evil man goes astray in such great unhappiness caused by fear saying, “For truly he extended his hand against God,” by acting against God, “and he fortified himself against the Almighty,” i.e. because he used the power given him against God. He shows how Job has acted against God saying, “He ran against him with his head erect,” proudly. For man resists God whom he ought to serve in humility most through pride. Sirach agrees with this, “The proud man begins by falling away from God.” (10:14) Just as one who loves God is said to run in his ways because of his readiness in will to serve him, so the proud man is said to run against God because of his presumption of spirit. Pride usually arises from an abundance of temporal goods, and so the text continues, “he is furnished with a far neck,” by acting proud against God. For fat is caused by an abundance of humors and so is an image for an abundance of temporal goods. Just as humility is the first stage of wisdom, so pride is an obstacle to wisdom and so the text continues, “Thick darkness covered his face,” because the covering of his face is an image for the impediment to knowledge. Not only does Job have the opulence which causes pride, but this extends even to his companions and so the text continues, “lard hangs from his sides.” By all these expressions he intends to show that opulence made Job fall into the pride which makes him stand against God and act tyrannically against other men. Therefore he came to the suspicion that he suspects God as his adversary and a conspirator.

The Third Lesson: The Unhappy Finish of the Wicked

28 He will live in desolate cities and in deserted houses which have been turned into mounds of earth. 29 He will not become wealthy nor preserve his substance, nor put forth roots in the earth. 30 He will not emerge from darkness, a flame will dry his branches, and will be born away by the breath of his mouth. 31 Let him not trust in vain, deceived by error, that he is redeemed by some price. 32 He will perish before his days are complete and his hands will dry up. 33 His grapes will be blighted just like the vineyard in first flower and as the olive lets its flowers fall, 34 what the hypocrite collects is sterile and fire will devour the tents of those who freely accept gifts. 35 He has conceived pain and given birth to evil and his womb prepares evil intent.

After Eliphaz shows the anxieties of fear which the wicked man suffers even when his is in the state of prosperity, he now speaks about the bitter things by which he is consumed when he has been cast down in adversity to answer Job’s statement, “Do you write bitter things against me and punish me for the sins of my youth?” (13:26) He places becoming a fugitive as the first of these bitter things. Fugitives normally seek out hidden and uninhabited places and so he says, “He will live in desolate cities and in deserted houses which have been turned into mounds of earth.” These are the kind of places where fugitives usually take refuge. Second is that he is despoiled of his riches and so he says, “He will not become wealthy,” by acquiring new riches, “nor will he preserve his substance,” to retain the riches he has already acquired. The third bitter thing is the impossibility of recovering his wealth. So he says, “nor will he put forth his roots in the earth.” If a tree is uprooted and replanted, it recovers its strength if it can put forth its root in the earth. But if it cannot put forth its root in the earth, it cannot grow strong again. To explain this he says, “He will not emerge from the darkness,” i.e. from the state of adversity. He gives the reason for not returning to the light when he says, “a flame will dry his branches.” For there is still hope of reviving a tree if it has been uprooted as long as its branches remain green because they can be grafted and replanted. But if the branches are burned up, no further hope of reviving it remains. The branches of a man are his sons and other persons related to him in whom a man sometimes rises again from adversity. But the sons of Job had been killed and his household had perished. He himself had even been afflicted with illness, which he states continuing, “and will be born away by the breath of his mouth,” by his proud words. He cannot hope for any sort of renewal, not even from God whom pride of words offends and so he says, “Let him not trust in vain, deceived that he is deemed by some price,” for he must be freed by some help from tribulation. He posits as a fourth bitter thing the shortness of his life. So he then says, “He will perish before his days are complete,” since he will die before his time may be completed, “and his hands will dry up,” for his sons and his relations will fail. Then he gives an example. “His grapes will be blighted just like the vineyard in first flower.” This blighting usually results from frost by which he means exterior persecution. “And as the olive lets its flowers fall,” usually from some intrinsic cause which means here the meriting of adversity on the part of the one who suffers. Respecting this merit he says, “what the hypocrite collects is sterile,” because what is gathered by the hypocrite bears no fruit, “and fire will devour the tents of those who freely accepts gifts.” For things acquired wickedly are sometimes easily destroyed according to divine judgment. He says this throwing the theft and hypocrisy of Job in relief as though adversity had befallen him because of his sins. He adds a third sin of deceit. So the text continues, “He conceived pain,” because he premeditated in his heart the kind of pain he would inflict on others. The conception of this pain has born harm unjustly inflicted and so the text continues, “and given birth to evil.” He adds as a consequence the manner in which he accomplished this saying, “and his womb prepares evil intent.” Truly a hypocrite’s nature is to plot harm against others by deceit, not in the open. By the term “womb” he means the heart in which spiritual conceptions take place after the manner of the corporeal conceptions which take place in the womb.

 

CHAPTER SIXTEEN: THE ANSWER OF JOB TO ELIPHAZ

The First Lesson: Job again describes his Trials

1 Then Job answered saying: 2 I have often heard such things. You are all burdensome consolers. 3 When then will these hollow words end? What trouble is there for you if you speak? 4 I myself could also speak like you. Would that your souls were in the place of mine. 5 I would console you with words. I would shake my head over you. 6 I would encourage you with my mouth and I would move my lips and appear to console you. 7 But what am I to do? If I speak, my pain will not be stilled, and if I keep silence, it will not go away from me. 8 Now my pain has oppressed me, and all my limbs have been reduced to nothing. 9 My wrinkles give testimony against me. The slanderer is raised up against my face contradicting me. 10 He has collected his anger against me. He gnashed his teeth against me threateningly. My enemy has fixed me with frightening eyes. 11 They opened their jaws about me, they struck my jaw with their reproaches. They have contented themselves with my punishments. 12 God has confined me with the wicked man and he has surrendered me into the hands of evil men. 13 I, who was the rich man, suddenly have been ruined; He seized the nape of my neck and he broke me in pieces, he has set me up as his target. 14 He encompassed me about with spears, he wounded my loins, he did not spare me and he poured forth my bowels on the earth. 15 He cut me down with wound upon wound, he has seized me like a giant. 16 I stitched a sack over my skin, and I have covered my flesh with ashes. 17 My face was puffed up from weeping, and my eyelids are misty. 18 I suffered these things without iniquity on my hand because I wanted my prayers to God to be pure. 19 Earth, do not cover over my blood, nor let my cry find a hiding place in you. 20 For behold, my witness is in heaven, my conscience is above.

Eliphaz had spoken harshly against Job in his answer, and so Job accuses him of unfitting consolation in the beginning of his speech. First, because both he and his friends frequently repeat the same things and so he says, “I have often heard such things,” as if to say: Your speech is always about the same subject. For with different words they really intended to prove the same things, namely, that Job had fallen into adversities because of his sins. So he then says, “You are all burdensome counselors.” For the duty of a counselor is to say something by which suffering will be mitigated. Therefore, a burdensome counselor is someone who says things which aggravate the soul more. Yet one could excuse these things if the irritating words were uttered for some use and contained truth or even if they were spoken only briefly in passing. But if someone uses language which is calculated to sadden another falsely, uselessly, and over a lengthy period of time, he seems to be a burdensome counselor. So he says, “When then will these hollow words end?” In saying, “When will these hollow words end,” he shows here that they have dwelled for a long time on irritating words. When he says “hollow words”, he shows that they were useless and false, because they were without foundation.

He shows in what follows that there is not equality on both sides in this dispute because the friends of Job spoke without being troubled, and so he says, “What trouble is there for you if you speak?” as if to say: You speak for such a long time in deprecating me because you are not troubled by this situation. Job, however, was annoyed. To preclude anyone thinking that ease in argumentation was attributed to the prominence of the friends in knowledge, Job shows that if adversity had not deprived him and he were in the condition of the friends, he would speak with the same confidence. So he says, “I myself could also speak like you,” if I were not weighed down with adversity. He wants for them the opportunity to feel the same thing as he does saying, “would that your souls were in place of mine,” in that you suffered the adversity I do. He does not say this because of a feeling of hatred or with ill will seeking revenge, but to recall them from the cruel approach they were using in exasperating Job by their words when they realized that similar words would be rough on them if they were spoken to them. So he then says, “I too would console you with words,” like those which you used to console me, “and I would shake my head over you,” as a sign of compassion or reprobation like you censure me. Also, “I would encourage you with my mouth,” lest you should despair in your impatience, “and I would move my lips,” to speak, “and appear to console you,” by pretending to speak from pity which I had for you, just as you are doing to me.

It would be easy for me to speak like this just as you did if I were in your condition. But now I am impeded by a pain which neither speech nor silence does not take away, and so he continues,” But what am I to do? If I speak, my pain will not be stilled and if I keep silence, it will not go away from me.” For there are two kinds of pain. One is interior and is called sadness. This proceeds from the experience of a present evil. The other is external pain and this is pain according to sense, for example a pain which comes from the dissolution of something joined together or something of the sort. The first kind of pain can be taken away by conversation, but not the second. He shows as a result what he understands about this second pain which cannot be taken away by words when he says, “now my pain has oppressed me,” i.e. impeded me so that I cannot easily or freely reason like I did before. For when sensible pain is violent, the attention of the soul is distracted and is impeded from the consideration of intellectual things. He shows what he understands about corporeal pain adding, “and all my limbs have been reduced to nothing.” This is because all his members were infected with sores as the text says above “Satan afflicted Job with sores which were most loathsome from the sole of his feet to the top of his head.” (2:7)

The dissipation of my members not only cause me sensible pain, but it also bears witness against me. For when the friends of Job saw that he was so covered with ulcers, from this they charged that he had sinned grievously because they thought this had happened to him as a punishment for sin. The text continues in this vein, “my wrinkles give testimony against me,” for his body is wrinkled from dehydration as a result of weakness as happens also in old age. He shows the manner in which his wrinkles testify against him when he says, “and the slanderer is raised up against me face, contradicting me.” Eliphaz had slandered him when he said that he had fallen into this weakness because of sin. (4:7) This could also be explained saying that Job knew by the Holy Spirit that his adversity had been brought on by the devil, although God had permitted it to happen. So whatever he suffered whether in the loss of goods and children, the sores of his own body, or the annoyance caused by his wife and friends, he attributed all this to the devil as instigator. So he calls him a slanderer who has been raised up against his face because he understood that his friends at the instigation of the devil were speaking against him. According to this second interpretation, the following verse is clearer. “He has collected his anger against me.” For the devil seems to have collected his complete anger against Job when he assailed him with every kind of harm. He afflicted me not only in the past; but he also threatens me in the future, and the text speaks about this saying, “and he gnashed his teeth against me threateningly.” He uses the imagery of an animal who threatens man by baring his teeth. He says this because Eliphaz had foretold before that evil things would menace him unto death, using the person of the impious man. (15:32) Job however understood that the threats pronounced by the lips of Eliphaz were directed by the devil and so he said that he had growled at him with his teeth.

But Eliphaz not only used threatening words against him by foretelling evil things, but he also rashly judged his deeds, claiming that he was an evil man (15:20) and a hypocrite (15:34). So he then says, “My enemy fixed me with frightening eyes.” For one looks at another with gentle eyes when he interprets his deeds in a benign way, but when he interprets his good deeds as evil, then he fixes him with frightening eyes. So he continues, “They spread their jaws about me,” i.e. my friends instigated by my enemy. He interprets this saying, “they struck my jaw with their reproaches.” For one is said to strike one in the face when he utters a reproach to his face. The friends of Job had uttered many reproaches against him as they rebuked him for many sins. Because just men rejoice about justice when they see sins punished as Psalm 57 says, “The just will rejoice at the sight of vengeance,” (v.11), the friends of Job thought themselves just and Job was a sinner. So they rejoiced seeing his punishments almost as though applauding divine justice, and so the text continues, “they have contented themselves with my punishments.”

Lest anyone believe that Job was of the opinion that punishments of this kind were inflicted on him by God since he had said he had been afflicted by an enemy as he continues, “God has confined me with the wicked,” i.e. the devil, by consigning me into his power. “He has surrendered me into the hands of evil men,” who afflicted me by the instigation of the devil with words and deeds. For Job understood that his trials had been inflicted on him by the devil, but God permitted it. He gives an understanding of this in four clear signs. First, because he fell from the greatest prosperity, not little by little as is usually the case in human affairs, but suddenly. It does not seem to have happened by sudden chance, but only by divine ordination. He speaks about this saying, “I, who was the rich man, suddenly have been ruined.” By the fact that he says “rich”, he shows the abundance of his wealth, but in the fact that he says, “I, the” he shows the glory of his reputation because of which he was recognized by everyone. The second sign is that he was utterly struck down. He refers to this when he says, “he seized the nape of my neck and he broke me in pieces.” He uses the image of a very strong man who seizes a weak man by the nape of the neck, breaks it, and so completely takes his life away. For just so it seemed Job has completely lost his prosperity. The third sign is that he was not oppressed with one adversity, but many all at once as was recounted above. (cf. cc. I and II) He expresses this saying, “He has set me up as his target,” which is set up to be hit by different arrows. Here he describes the great number of his trials using three images. First, he shows that he was wounded exteriorly in his possessions saying, “He encompassed me about with his spears.” For exterior things encircle us as something extrinsic to us. Thus a man is encompassed with the spears of adversity when he loses exterior goods. Second, he says that he is persecuted interiorly in the affliction of his person. He expresses this saying, “He wounded my loins,” as if to say: I have not only been wounded round about me, but my wounds penetrate even to my inner parts where I find enjoyment which are signified by loins. “The loins” may refer to the place we experience pleasure or the origin of generation. So this reference to the loins can also mean his crushed children. Moreover he expresses the great number of the blows from the intensity of the wound when he says, “he did not spare me,” by taking away his hand which struck the blow so that I would not be wounded more deeply. Rather, he wounded me very deeply. He expresses this saying, “and he poured forth my bowels on the earth,” because he crushed to death all my sons and daughters in one blow. Third, he shows the great number of blows which he has suffered in his own person, and so he then says, “he cut me down,” in my own person, “with wound,” i.e. with a very grave ulcer, “upon wound,” coupled with the deaths of his children. The fourth sign is that he can apply no cure to or resistance against his tribulation because it proceeded from divine providence, reflecting what he said already, “The God whose anger none can resist...” (9:13) He expresses this saying, “he has seized me like a giant,” whom a weak man cannot resist because of his great strength. All these signs can be understood either about God who confined him or in a better sense about the evil one, the devil, with whom he was confined.

Job calls to mind all these things about the greatness of his adversity to show that he cannot be the equal of his friends with whom he is arguing, because they were free from adversities of this kind. However Eliphaz had accused him of pride saying, “Why do you puff up your heart? and so on,” (15:12ff). This pride was even more detestable the graver adversities were by which it could have been corrected, as Psalm 34 says against some, “They were dissipated and not filled with remorse.” (v.16) Thus as a consequence having described his adversities he shows now his humiliation, first, regarding external dress, he says, “I stitched a sack over my skin,” for such a vesture is a sign of humility, as we read about the Ninevites in Jonah 3:5. One wears ashes for the same reason to show one’s frailty as Abraham said in Genesis, “I will speak to my God, since I am dust and ashes,” (18:27) and so he continues, “I have covered my flesh with ashes.” For the text said above that he sat “in a dung heap” (2: 8) as a sign of humility. Second he shows his humility by his great weeping. He uses two signs. First, the swelling of the face, when he says, “My face was puffed up from weeping,” because the great matter of tears ascends to the head, and swells the face of the weeper. Second he speaks of his vision being obscured, and expressing this he says, “My eyelids are misty,” from weeping, for because of the flow of moisture, the sight of the eyes is literally impeded.

From what he has said before about the gravity of his adversity and the greatness of his humiliation, one could surmise that he had recognized in effect the gravity of his sins, and was humbling himself in repentance thinking that he had been afflicted for his own sins. Eliphaz wanted to make this clear saying, “Look among his holy ones; no one is unchangeable.” (15:15) Thus to remove this suspicion he says, “I suffered these things without iniquity in my hand.” By this he excludes from himself sins of commission. But he then says, “because I wanted my prayers to God to be pure,” to exclude from himself the sins of lukewarmness and omission. In this he seems answer what Sophar said above, “If you take away the evil which is on your hand, then you will be able to raise your hands without stain.” (11:14) However to disprove the innocence of Job, Eliphaz had already used twice the argument based on the frailty of earthly nature. He had said above “Even those who serve him are not firm, how much more those who dwell in houses of clay.” (4:18-19) He had repeated the same thing later saying, “The heavens are not clean in his sight, how much more abominable and useless is man.” (15:15) So to reject this he says, “Earth, do not cover over my blood,” and he understands here by blood the affliction of his body. Here blood would be covered over if it were shed for crime, for so it would not have any glory. However it would be covered over by the earth if by the accusation of earthly frailty one could presume a preceding fault. If his blood was shed without fault, he had a just complaint against the one who sheds it, as Genesis says, “Behold the voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the earth.” (Gen 4:10) This cry would go unnoticed if his complaint seemed unjust, like the one who had been punished for some fault, and so he says, “Nor let my cry find a hiding place in you,” so that I would seem from the frailty of the earthly condition to complain unjustly, as though I were punished for faults. It is true that it is difficult for a man to act according to his earthly condition without the evil of mortal sin, yet it is not impossible, with the help of God through grace who is a witness also to our interior purity. Thus he then says, “For behold my witness is in heaven,” for the earth cannot cover over my blood because the witness of heaven is greater than the presumption on the frailty of earth. This witness of heaven is fitting because it even investigates the secret intention of conscience, and so he then says, “my conscience is above,” as if to say: My cry cannot find a place to hide in the earth below because my conscience is known in heaven.

The Second Lesson: The Promises of His Friends are Vain

21 My wordy friends, my eye pours out for God 22 And would that man were so judged by God as the son of man is judged by his colleague! 23 Behold, the short years pass away and I walk a path by which I will not return.

After Job described the greatness of his adversity, (v.14) his humility (v.16) and his innocence (v.18), he proceeds further to reprove the vain consolation which his friends repeated to him again and again, about the hope of recovering temporal prosperity. As Eliphaz said above, “Is it s a great thing for God to console you.” (15:11ff) So he intends to show the vain character of this consolation, and he begins with the words, “My wordy friends,” as if to say: They promise me empty words. My consolation is not in recovering temporal goods, but in acquiring the enjoyment of God, and expressing this he says, “my eye pours out for God,” that is it weeps because of the desire for God, according to Psalm 41, “My tears have been for me my bread by night by day, when I hear it said daily, where is your God?” (v.4)

To explain what he had said, he continues, “and would that man were so judged by God as the son of a man is judged by his colleague.” For a man is judged by his own colleague when one is actually present to the other and they express their arguments to each other. He desired therefore to be in the presence to God and to know the reasons for the divine works and judgments, by which human happiness consists. His consolation was in this hope, not in the vain words of his friends by which they promised the recovery of temporal prosperity. So to show the vanity of this promise he adds, “Behold! The short years pass away,” because “man lives for a short time,” as he had said above. (14:1) A great part of Job’s lifetime had already passed; and so few years remained for him in which, even if there were prosperity, it would not bring him much consolation because of the shortness of the time. Some men believed that after death man returned again to the course of this present life, and so it could seem possible for Job to be consoled in the hope of recovering earthly prosperity at least in that future life. So to reject this he then says, “and I walk a path by which I will not return.” For man in this mortal life tends through the process of aging tends to death, and there cannot be a repetition in this process, so that man would be a boy once again and walk through all ages of this life.

 

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: JOB COUNTS ON GOD’S FRIENDSHIP

 

The First Lesson: Job call on God

1 My spirit will be weakened, my days will be shortened and nothing remains for me but the tomb. 2 I have not sinned and my eye lingers on bitter things. 3 Free me and place me near you, and do not let the hand of anyone fight against me. 4 You have made their hearts far from learning, yet they will not be lifted up. 5 He promises plunder to his companions and the eyes of his sons will fail. 6 He has set me up as a proverb to the people and his example in their midst. 7 Anger misted over my vision with indignation and my limbs are reduced to almost nothing. 8 The just will be astonished at this and the innocent will arouse himself against the hypocrite. 9 The just will preserve his course and add courage to pure hands.

Job had shown above the great number of his afflictions, (16:14) the humiliation of his mind, (16:16) the innocence (16:18) and the brevity of a life definitively lost, (16:23) and by which the wordiness of his friends is conclusively proved. In this chapter then he intends to prove the premises and finally conclude their ignorance. (v.10) First he begins to prove what he had said about the process of human life, and he presents beforehand the cause of the shortness of life, when he says, “My spirit will be weakened.” For the life of the body is lived through vital spirits which are diffused from the heart to all its members. The body lives as long as they are strong in the body. But when the natural caloric power (energy) begins to grow weak in the heart, such spirits grow less. By this growing less and debilitation he, of course, means the weakening of the spirit. He then states the effect of this cause saying, “my days will grow shortened.” For weakness of the vital spirit shortens the days of life. To answer the objection that a spirit once weakened would again be strengthened again according to kind of existence of this mortal life, he says, “nothing remains for me but the tomb,” as if to say: Once the span of this present life is finished, nothing of this present life remains for me except the grave and those things which befit the grave.

Then he shows their consolation to be vain in another way. For they consoled him saying sin was the cause of such adversities coming on him, and that if he repented then he would return to prosperity. But he rejects this saying, “I have not sinned,” because he did not have the remorse of conscience about any grave sin for which he had incurred such great adversities, thus he even says later in the text, “For my heart has not accused me in my whole life.” (27:6) Thus this is not against what is said in 1 John, “If we have said we have no sin, we lie to ourselves.” (1 John 1:8) By this he explains what he had said above about his innocence, “I have suffered these things without having evil on my hand.” (16:18) He then says, “and my eye lingers on bitter things.” He uses the plural, “bitter things” because of the many adversities which he had enumerated above. He says, “lingers” because although he has humbled himself among bitter things and sewn up a sack over his skin, (16:16), the bitter things nevertheless remain. He attributes bitter things to the eye because of the weeping they cause, which he already expressed saying, “My face was puffed up from weeping,” (16:17) and again, “my eye pours out for God,” (16:21) because his eye was weeping among the bitter things so that it aimed only at divine help, and that is why he continues here, “Free me.” For Job understood that he alone could free him who placed him in the power of the evil one. (16:12) Truly he was not praying to be freed from adversity like those who would procure earthly prosperity after the adversity, but he prayed to be led to high-mindedness, and so he then says, “and place me near you.” For since God is the very essence of good, it is necessary that he who is placed close to God, be freed from evil. Man is placed near to God insofar as he approaches him with his mind through knowledge and love, but this happens imperfectly in the state of a sojourner on earth in which man suffers attacks. Because he is placed near to God, however, he is not be overcome by them. Man is perfectly placed near to God in his mind in the state of ultimate happiness in which he cannot suffer attacks, and he shows he desires this saying, “do not let the hand of anyone fight against me,” because no matter how much someone would want to attack me, if I were placed perfectly near to you, no one’s attack will disturb me. This is then the expectation Job had for his consolation in the midst of bitter things, hoping to be placed near to God where he could not fear attacks.

The prattling friends of Job did not understand this spiritual consolation of Job, and so he then says, “You have made their hearts far from learning,” from your spiritual teaching through which you teach one to hope for spiritual goods and to hold temporal goods in contempt. Since they only place their hope in things weak and time bound, they cannot arrive at spiritual height and be placed near to God. He therefore express this saying, “yet they will not be lifted up.” From the fact that they were placed far from spiritual teaching, he concludes that Eliphaz promises only temporal goods to Job as a consolation, (5:18) and he expresses this saying, “He promises plunder to his companions,” that is, the procurement of temporal goods which can only come to one person if another loses. So the acquisition of temporal goods is likened to plundering. It is not universally true that after repentance men recover temporal prosperity, since even the good do not always enjoy temporal prosperity, and so then he says, “the eyes of his sons will fail.” He calls his sons those who believe his promise, hope for temporal rewards for the goods which they do, but when they do not attain them their eyes fail, like those ceasing from their hope. Just as Eliphaz promised temporal goods to those doing good, so also he asserted that all temporal adversities come about because of the sins of the one who suffers them. Since Job had suffered many adversities, Eliphaz uses him as an example to the people, and as he expresses this saying, “He has used me as a proverb to the people and his example in their midst.” This is because to prove his opinion about the cause of adversities he used Job as an example, presuming he was punished for sin.

However it is characteristic of the zeal of the just to be indignant when they see the righteousness of divine judgments perverted by false doctrine. So Job consequently shows the greatness of his zeal in two ways: first, by a kind of disturbance of the mind. “Vicious anger blinds the eye, but zealous anger troubles the eye,” as Gregory says. So he then says, “My vision,” the sight of my reason, the concentration of which is disturbed by zealous anger, “has misted over in indignation.” Second, zealous anger also produces excitement in the body through distress. Thus the text of Maccabees says that Mathathias seeing the Jews sacrifice to idols, “felt anguish and he violently trembled in the depth of his passions.” (1 Macc. 2:23-24) So he adds here, “My limbs are reduced to almost nothing” so much does the body of man seems to pine away from distress. One could think that this misting of sight is against justice and this anger against innocence. So to reject this he then says, “the just will be astonished at this,” as if to say: The just are rightly astonished when they see the doctrine of evil men, and above he called this astonishment misting over. The text continues “and the innocent will arouse himself against the hypocrite,” saying in effect: It is not against innocence if someone is roused in anger against the hypocrite who perverts true doctrine from a zeal for justice, and since, as has been said, zealous anger disturbs the soul but does not blind it, so the just man is astonished or misted over by zeal which does not withdraw from justice. He expresses this saying, “the just will preserve his course,” because he does not desert it from zealous anger. Such anger does not precede reason but follows it, and so it cannot separate a man from justice. Zealous anger is useful because it makes a man arise against evils with greater strength of soul. He expresses this saying, “and add courage to pure hands,” incited by zeal, and so Aristotle says in the Ethics III that anger aids courage.

The Second Lesson: Job Ridicules his Friends

10 Therefore, all of you, convert and come, and I will not find one wise man among you. 11 My days have passed away and my thoughts have been utterly scattered. They torture my heart. 12 They have turned my night into day, and I hope again for the light after the darkness. 13 If I am patient, my home is in the lower regions; in darkness I have arranged my couch. 14 I have said to corruption: You are my father; and to the maggots: You are my mother, my sister. 15 Where then now is my hope and who appreciates my suffering? 16 Into the last depths of hell will all of my possessions descend; do you think that at least there I will have rest?

 After Job presented the arguments by which he refuted the opinion of Eliphaz, he collects here what he has said and orders it to demonstrate his thesis. First, he gets their attention saying, “Therefore” since what I have said is true, “all of you,” you and your fathers, who have arrayed yourselves against me, “convert” from your errors, “and come” to consider the truth. Once you have ascertained the truth it will be clear to you how far you are from true wisdom. Therefore he says, “and I will not find one wise man among you.” He says this to curb the boast of Eliphaz above, when he said, “what do you know that we do not.” (15:9 ff.) and “Wise man know what they have learned from their father.” (15:18 ff.)

In this he really intends to show their stupidity when they promised the consolation of temporal prosperity to him. (5:15, 8:6, 11:17) He first proposes against their promises that the time of his life has already in great part elapsed, and he therefore says, “my days have passed away.” Then he shows the evils which he suffers when he continues, “my thoughts have been utterly scattered,” for they are impeded from the quiet contemplation of wisdom because of the bitterness of my bodily pain. So he then says, “they torture my heart,” because his thoughts are led away from the sweet contemplation of truth to the bitterness which tortured his heart. This torture of the heart was not even interrupted by night which is the time set aside for man’s rest, and so he then says, “They have turned night into day,” because of the reflection previously mentioned he spent the night in insomnia as though it were day. It is more painful to suffer the loss of sleep at night than during the day, because during the day the soul of man is lightened by the company of men and by the sight of daylight. So as long as night was sleepless for him he desired that it end quickly. He explains this saying, “I again hope for the light after the darkness,” that is, I hope that the light of day will come again after the darkness of night.

But since Eliphaz had invited him to tolerate all his adversities patiently from future expectation, he shows as a consequence what seems to be left to him in the future on the part of temporal things. So he says, “If I am patient,” that is patiently bear all such pains, nothing remains for me but the dwelling of the grave, and he expresses this saying, “my home is in the lower regions.” He calls the grave the lower regions according to the opinion of those against whom he is disputing, who did not believe that the soul of man survives after death but that only the body remains in the grave, which they called lower regions because it was situated in the depths of the earth (infernus). Man lying in the grave suffers darkness both because of the lack of sensation and also because of the lack of exterior light, and so he then says, “In darkness I have arranged my couch.” As a man who takes his origin when he is born from his parents by reason of which he establishes an affinity with them, so after death, lying in the grave he is dissolved into corruption and maggots which are born from his body, and so he then says, “I have said to corruption: You are my father; and to the maggots, you are my mother, and my sister,” as if to say: There will remain to me an affinity in the grave with no other temporal thing except corruption and maggots.

From these things he concludes as though deducing an unfitting conclusion saying, “Where then now is my hope?” as if to say: If I were to find my consolation because of the expectation of temporal prosperity, my hope would be vain. Again he concludes to a greater absurd conclusion saying, “and who appreciates my suffering?”, as if to say: Even though I hold up patiently, nothing still remains but the grave and its darkness, corruption and maggots. If then I should have patience to merit temporal goods from God, it would follow that God did not regard my patience, which is to deny providence. Against the objection that perhaps he would be given temporal prosperity by God even in the grave, he then says almost jeeringly, “Into the last depths of hell will all of my possessions descend,” since whatever is mine will be lowered into the grave which is all that remains for me. “Do you think that at least there I will have rest,” i.e. should I also expect earthly prosperity even there? This is clearly ridiculous.

 

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: THE INEXORABLE FATE OF THE WICKED

The First Lesson: The Response of Baldath

1 Then Baldath of Shuah answered and said: 2 To what end will you just toss out words? Understand first, and then we will speak. 3 Why have you taken us to be asses and deprecate us in your presence? 4 Why do you lose your soul in your anger? Because of you, should the land disappear and will the cliffs be displaced? 5 Will not the light of evil men go out and will his fire sparkle? 6 The light will grow dark in the tent of that man and the lamp above him will be extinguished. 7 The steps of his power will be circumscribed and his own counsel will cast him down. 8 For he has put his feet in the snare and he walked forward into the mesh. 9 The foot of that man will be bound in a snare, and his thirst will burn against him. 10 A snare is hidden for him in the earth and a trap is set for him on the path. 11 From all sides dread will terrify him and they will wrap around his feet.

Since Baldath of Shuah could not understand what blessed Job meant with his intellect, he thought that what he himself did not understand was spoken without basis even by the speaker, and so in the beginning of his answer he says, “To what end will you just toss out words?” Here he blames Job for three things: first, the ineffectual character of his speech, as though the words Job had spoken had no efficacious proof of anything, which is shown in the fact that he says, “To what end.” Second, he blames him for the vain multiplication of words, as though these words of Job lacked the weight of serious consideration, which is shown in the fact that he says, “words.” Third he criticizes him for the disordered connection of his words, which is shown when he says, “will you just toss out words?” For one is said to toss out words who scatters them inordinately, although one can also interpret this third thing as a display of bragging. These three faults occur in the speech of someone who has a weak intellect; and so a confrontation with one lacking intelligence is useless, and so he continues, “Understand first, and then we will speak,” as if to say: From the fact that you speak inefficaciously, lightly and inordinately it is clear that you have weak intelligence, and so I insist first that you apply yourself to understand and afterwards we can converse with each other. Then he blames him for presumption since he had not deemed them to be wise when he had said, “I will find no wise man among you.” (17:10) So to answer this he then says, “Why have you taken us to be asses and deprecate us in your presence?” For the man who lacks wisdom seems contemptible and like beasts of burden, because the honor and crown of man consists in wisdom. Consequently he finds fault him about anger because he had said, “Anger misted over my vision.” (17:7) He had taken this in the wrong way believing that it was the sort of anger that had taken away from him the light of wisdom, not listening to what he had said after this, “The just will preserve his course.” (17:9) So he then says, “Why do you lose your soul in your anger?” For one loses his soul in anger who because of anger departs from wisdom and justice which are the principle goods of the soul.

With these premises in which he had noted weakness of intellect, presumption and fury in the person of Job, he arrives as the consequence at his principal proposition towards which the controversy was directed which is that the adversities of this present life are punishments of sin. Job had said against this, “I have not sinned, and my eye lingers on bitter things.” (17:2) Since Baldath could not use arguments for the assertion of his opinion, he wanted to establish his opinion as most firm from common opinion, and so he compared it to the things which cannot be moved, like the earth and cliffs. So he says, “Because of you should the land disappear and would the cliffs be displaced?” implying: This opinion that adversities happen in return for sins is firm as earth and cliffs. Will it be able to be removed because of your arguments to prove your innocence?

He then expands his idea more fully, relating one by one the evils which happen to sinners. Among these he places first the end of their prosperous successes which he compares to the light because “He who walks in the light do not stumble.” (John 11:9) Thus those seem to walk in the light for whom all their undertakings succeed prosperously as they would like. He speaks about the loss of this light, of prosperity, saying, “Will not the light of evil men go out,” will not their prosperity cease? Just as corporeal light comes from the flame of fire, so also the lustre of his prosperity comes from the affection of a man when one attains what he desires, and so he then says, “nor will his fire sparkle?” For fire is commonly used to symbolize the fervor of love, as we read in the Song of Songs, “His lamps are fire and torches.” (8:6) We should note that the prosperity of man’s success comes from two causes. Sometimes it comes from human providence, for example, when a man prudently and carefully orders each and every thing. As to this cause he says of the end of this prosperity, “The light will grow dark in the tent of that man?” because both he and his household will lack prudence in their decisions. Sometimes however, the prosperity os a man’s success comes from a higher cause, from divine providence. He describes the caused of the end of this prosperity saying, “the lamp from above him will be extinguished,” not that it does not shine on him, but that it throw light on the evil man. He fittingly describes the providence of man a “light” for it is borrowed from another, but the providence of God as a “lamp” because it gives light in itself. He has premised of the light of divine providence that from the fact that a man loses the light of reason, he seems to merit to not be protected by the light of divine providence.

After he has treated prosperity lost he then speaks about adversity, concerning which he first places the impediments to action and effort. Man struggles to attain the effect of his action in two ways: in one way by his own courage, and against this he says, “The steps of his power will be extingusihed,” because courageous assertion cannot advance further. In another way man tries to attain something by wisdom, and regarding this he says, “and his own counsels will cast him down,” when what he thought was useful becomes harmful to him. He says that the cause of these impediments comes from his sin, “For he put his feet in the snare.” For just as one who willingly puts his foot in a snare wants to be captured, so one who willingly occupies himself with sin disposes himself to have his progress impeded as Scripture says, “His own iniquities have ensnared the evil man.” (Prov. 5:22) As there are a variety of meshes in a net, so also in sin there are many different sins which entangle a man in various ways. So he then says, “and he walked forward into the mesh,” when he goes from one kind of sin to another or from one mode of sinning to another. Since he willingly put himself in danger and does not stop advancing but always procedes further on, as a result he will sometimes feel himself impeded and so he then says, “The foot of that man will be bound in a snare,” that is the forward motion of his will and his act will be blocked by some obstacle.

These sorts of evil things arise from three causes for those progressing in sin. First on the part of the sinner himself in whom the desire for sins increase more the more he sins. Regarding this he continues, “and his thirst will burn against him,” because sometimes the sinner considers something to be harmful to him from reason, but the burning desire for sin compels him to act against his thinking. Second, the cause of the harm is sometimes from the things themselves in which he sins, as Scripture says, “Riches are amassed to the evil of the one possessing them.” (Qoheleth 5:12) Harmful things of this sort come sometimes from things already obtained, and regarding this Baldath says, “A snare is hidden for him in the earth,” because in fact some danger lies hidden in earthly things themselves by which the feet of the sinner are caught. But sometimes harmful things of this sort arise when a man is en route to acquiring things, and expressing this he says, “and a trap is set for him on the path,” because before the sinner obtains what he seeks the dangers already lie in wait on the way itself. Third, harmful things like this are caused on the part of some men whose plots and attacks are feared, and so he then says, “From all sides dread will terrify him,” since, as Scripture says, “When the evil man is timid, he has been given for the condemnation of everyone.” (Wisdom 17:10) When however man is wary against everyone, it is necessary that his acts should be impeded in many things, and so he then says, “and they will wrap around his feet,” so he cannot go forward freely in any direction.

The Second Lesson: The Pains of the Sinner

12 His strength will be robbed by hunger and let fasting invade his ribs. 13 May his skin lose its beauty and may the arms of that man be consumed by a premature death. 14 May trust be torn away violently from his tent and may destruction trample him like a king. 15 May the companions of the one who no longer lives inhabit his tent, let sulphur be sprinkled in his tent. 16 Behold, may his roots be dried up and may his harvest above be ruined. 17 Let the memory of that man perish from the earth and may his name not be celebrated in the streets. 18 It will expel him from the light into darkness, and it will transfer him from the earth. 19 His seed will not exist or offspring in his people nor any remain in his territory. 20 On his day, the youngest men will be astonished and horror will invade the first men. 21 These are the tents of the evil man. Such is the house of him who has no knowledge of God.

In the foregoing Baldath had premised the punishments of sinners found in exterior adversities, but here he begins to pursue the punishments pertaining to the persons. One must note that sins themselves implicate the sinner in exterior adversities, and so he pursued exterior adversities as though predicting them with some certitude. But corporeal punishments do not seem to be directly caused by the sins themselves expect perhaps some especially gluttony and lust in which someone sins in his own body, therefore he does not pursue corporeal punishments by denouncing him but more in threatening him. He begins with the corporal punishments which precede death, and because nourishment preserves the life of the body, he first invokes the removal of nourishment from him, by which man first begins to be weakened. Regarding this he says, “His strength will be robbed by hunger.” Then when he lacks nourishment, his life is also taken away, and regarding this he says, “and let fasting invade his ribs,” by which he means the weakening of the vital operations, the principle one of which is the heart which is contained under the ribs. The goods of the body which hunger begins to weaken are totally consumed by death. The principal goods of the body are beauty and strength, and so he then says, “may his skin lose its beauty,” because beauty regards exterior appearance,” and “may the arms of that man,” in which strength is especially found, “be consumed by a premature,” i.e. early, “death”, before the end of the natural span of life. The dead man is taken out of his house, and regarding this he says, “May trust be torn away violently from his tent,” because he did not place his hope in God, but in the vulgar display and the glory of his house, of which he is deprived after death. Thrown out of his house, he is shut up in the tomb where he is totally exterminated in death. Respecting this he says, “and may destruction trample him like a king,” because death like a king in the fullness of his power grinds him into dust. When he has been taken from his house, the dead man’s domestics remain with whom he had society in this life, and as to this he then says, “May the companions of the one who no longer lives,” that is, of the dead man who now takes no more part in human affairs, “inhabit his tent.” When the master dies the members of the household mourn and show signs of sadness, either wearing black and poor garments, or by offensive odors and he expresses this when he says, “let sulphur be sprinkled in his tent.” In this text, one understands all those things which can be signs of sadness, just as good odors are used for a sign of rejoicing.

When a man has died, frequently everything which was his goes to ruin. He shows this is a consequence beginning first with those things produced from the earth, some of which have been planted still remain as seedlings after he dies. Expressing this he says, “Behold! May his roots be dried up,” so that if he had sowed or planted anything it may be destroyed and does not bear fruit. However as to those which have already produced fruit, he says, “and may his harvest above be ruined.” One can refer this to any business he has just begun or at that is already almost finished. He then proceeds to the renown which remains about a man after his death, by which some men desire to live in the memories of men and to also have glory after death. Thus as to the removal of the sinner from the memories of men he then says, “Let the memory of that man perish from the earth.” As for the end of his celebrated fame he then says, “may his name not be celebrated in the streets,” which he says exactly to the point because one’s name is only celebrated by a crowd which is usually found in the streets. Thus when his memory and the public renown of his name end, the brightness of his glory will be changed into the darkness of perpetual oblivion, and expressing this he says, “It will expel him from the light into darkness,” that is from earthly glory to oblivion. When his fame ceases and his body been consumed by death, nothing of him will remain any longer in the world, because Baldath and his companions were of the opinion that the soul did not remain death. “And it will transfer him from this world,” so that nothing of him remains in the world. But since parents also live in their children he rejects this saying, “His seed will not exist,” because his sons will be dead, “nor offspring in his people,” since neither grandsons nor great-grandsons will remain, nor even his relatives, and so he then says, “nor any remain in his territory,” neither those related by blood nor members of his household by whom his memory may be kept.

He shows the effect that follows from this in the hearts of others when he then says, “On his day,” which is the day of his ruin, “the youngest men will be astonished,” i.e. the youngest members of the people will be stunned with great wonder, not able comprehend how such great glory of a sinner has suddenly been reduced to nothing. As for the elders he then says, “horror will invade the first men,” fearing that the same thing might happen to them. He seems to have introduced this to answer to what Job had said above, “Whether his sons are noble or base, he will not understand, yet his flesh, while he lives, will grieve.” (14:21) From this Job seemed to have refuted the threats of his friends or their promises of things which would happen after his death. But here Baldath answers that great tragedies of this kind which happen after death, although the dead man does not know about them, are still inflicted by God—with such punishments—for the correction of others.

Since he had premised some punishments of a sinner proper to the journey of the present life, but others which are proper to the end of the journey, death and the things which happen after death, he therefore adds as an epilogue, “These are the tents of the evil man” which refers to his progress in the course of this present life, because travelers use tents. However as to the ultimate end which is like the end of movement, he then says, “Such is the home of him who has no knowledge of God,” either by unbelief or by disobedience.

 

CHAPTER NINETEEN: JOB ANSWERS BALDATH

The First Lesson: A New Description of his Misfortune

1 Then Job answered and said: 2 How long are you going to afflict my soul and injure me with your discussions? 3 Behold, you have confused me ten times and you do not blush in oppressing me. 4 If without doubt I have erred, my ignorance will be with me. 5 But you raise yourselves against me and you charge me with my disgraces. 6 At least now, understand that God has not afflicted me with right judgment and he has girded me about with his scourges. 7 Behold! I will cry aloud while I am suffering attack and no one will hear me; I will cry out and there is no one to judge. 8 He has obstructed my path and I cannot pass across and he placed darkness on my footpath. 9 He stripped me of my glory and he took the crown from my head. 10 He destroyed me on all sides and I perish, and he has taken away my hope like an uprooted tree. 11 His fury has been roused against me, and so he has considered me his enemy. 12 His hired robbers came all at once, they have cut a path for themselves through me and they beseiged my tent all around. 13 He has made my brothers far from me and my acquaintances turned from me like strangers. 14 My relatives abandoned me and those who knew me have forgotten me. 15 The tenants of my house and maids have considered me as a stranger and I have been like a foreigner in their eyes. 16 I called my servant and he did not answer me. I begged him with my mouth. 17 My wife shuddered at my breath and I begged the sons of my loins. 18 Even the foolish despised me, and when I left them, they disparaged me. 19 Once my counselors, they despised me and he whom I loved most is against me. 20 My bone clung to my skin, after my flesh was consumed. Only my lips stand around my teeth. 21 Have pity on me, have pity on me, you, at least, who are my friends, because the hand of the Lord has struck me. 22 Why do you persecute me like God and glut yourselves on flesh?

In the previous discourse Baldath seems to have intended two things. First, he intended to refute Job for stupidity, pride and anger. (18:2) He intended to afflict him by this like his other friends had, and so Job says, “How long are you going to afflict my soul?” Second, Baldath intended to confirm his opinion that the adversities of the present life arise in return for sins which in fact he had explained at length by enumerating the different adversities without introducing other proof. (18:4) Regarding this Job says, “and injure me with your discussions,” that is, fatigue me with words, but not convincing proofs? It is tolerable if someone speaks against his own friend once, but if the man says the same things over and over he seems to be firmly established in malice, and so he then says, “Behold! You have confused me ten times,” both by speaking yourselves and by listening to me with some anger. Before this present response, Job is found to have spoken five times if we begin from when he said, “Cursed be the day I was born.” (3:13) and the friends are found to have answered him five times. Even if they should not cease to afflict the one they were tormenting for friendship’s sake, they at least could stop afflicting him because they were refuting and so he then says, “and you do not blush in oppressing me,” for you wear me as much out with your reproaches as your lengthy discourses. Among other reproaches Baldath seems to have blamed him for ignorance, when he had said, “Understand first and then we will speak.” (18:2) The friends certainly should have tolerated this ignorance. He should been excused because of it, but he should not have been reproached with it especially in a time of adversity, and so he then says, “If without doubt I have erred, my ignorance will be with me,” as if he should say: Nothing burdens you, but only me, and so it does not befit you to reproach me for ignorance in the midst of adversity. So he then says, “But you raise yourselves up against me,” showing your excellence, “and you blame me for my disgraces,” i.e., which only concern me and do not burden others.

After he begins with these things which concern the refutation of his friends, he goes on to pursue his chief proposition with the intention of showing what they were saying is false: that present adversities always arise because of past sins. Immediately at the beginning he draws an unfitting conclusion from this supposition saying, “At least now, understand that God has not have afflicted me with right judgment,” as if to say: If adversities only arise because of sins, the judgment of God by which he afflicted me gravely when I did not sin gravely is not equitable. He says, “At least now,” because up to this time, he had not yet enumerated his adversities as particularly as he does now. He says that he kas not only been afflicted with adversities, but also hemmed in by them so that he cannot find a way to escape them, and so the text continues, “and he has girded me about with his scourges,” because the scourges themselves have taken away the road to the cures, and he begins to pursue this second point first. Cure can be found in adversities first through human aid in two ways. In one way in the deed itself, for example, when someone is violently oppressed by someone else and he receives aid from another. He rejects this saying, “Behold, I will cry aloud while I am suffering attack and no one will hear me,” as if he should say: Iif I cry aloud against those who oppress me violently, no one would heed so that he comes to my aid. In another way after the deed, for example, when someone who has suffered injury complains to a judge who restores and vindicates him by his sentence. He rejects this saying, “I will cry out and there is no one to judge,” that is, if I cried out in complaint, there would be no judge present who would free me by his judgment. Second, a cure is found in adversities by the man himself who escapes adversities in two ways. In the first way, by his power, and he excludes this saying, “He has obstructed my path and I cannot pass,” as if he should say: He has placed so many impediments to my advance that I cannot remove them. In another way by prudence, and to exclude this he applies the text, “and he placed darkness on my footpath,” so that I could not see how I must go forward.

Then, after he has excluded the cures, he adds the adversities, beginning with the exterior goods which he lost. He places first among these the loss of honor and glory when he says, “He stripped me of my glory,” because although he had previously been held in honor and reverence, now even those younger in age derided him, as the text says further on in Chapter Thirty (v.1). He places second the loss of rank when he says, “and he took the crown from my head,” because before he used to sit “like a king surrounded by his army,” (29:25) as a text will say further on but now “he sat in a dung heap scraping the corrupted matter with a potsherd.” (2:8) He places third the loss of exterior things when he says, “He destroyed me on all sides,” namely, when all my exterior goods are laid waste, “and I perish,” while the adversity lasts, because there is no hope of recovery. So he then places, “and he has taken away my hope like an uprooted tree” for a tree has hope if its branches are cut off that it may grow again as long as its roots stay in the earth. But if its roots are torn out of the earth it must dry out and perish. The same is the true of him, as though his roots had been torn out, he had no hope of recovering temporal prosperity.

The root of hope is twofold: one is on the part of divine aid, the other on the part of human aid. The root of the hope which comes from divine aid seemed to have been torn up by the fact that God seemed gravely angry with him according to the opinion of those who put divine punishment only in the adversities of this life, and so he says, “His fury has been roused against me,” which he says to show the vehemence of the anger. For fury is his anger enkindled. But the more violent fury is the more quickly it usually passes away, and so in this way hope can remain in the future for the one who is angry. But if anger passes into hatred, then no hope seems to remain any longer, and to show this he puts here, “and so he has considered me his enemy.” For one does not hope for a cure from an enemy. He puts the sign of God’s anger and hatred next when he continues, “His hired robbers came all at once.” The term “hired robbers” means the Sabeans (1:15), the Chaldeans (1:17) and the demons (c.1) who together laid waste his goods almost like a conspiracy. He terms them “robbers hired by God” as though this happened from divine ordination, as even the friends of Job had said. These aforementioned hired robbers despoiled Job publicly and without any respect or fear, and so he then puts, “and they have cut a path for themselves through me,” as if to say: They despoiled me like an enemy whom one finds on the road. They have also attacked him everywhere tenaciously. Regarding this he says then, “They besieged,” tenaciously, “all around,” in everything totally, “my tent,” the goods of my house.

Next he shows that the root of his hope which is from human aid has been torn out. He shows that he could not expect any aid from those from whom it seemed most likely to come. He enumerates first those who have been separated from the habitation of his house, beginning with his brothers saying, “He has put my brothers far from me,” so that they do not want or are not able to bring me help. Then he places intimate friends next, “and my acquaintances turned from me like strangers,” not bringing help to me. As to his blood relatives or who depend on him in any way he says, “My relatives abandoned me,” not bringing me any aid. As for those, however, with whom he had been associated once he says, “and those who knew me,” that is, once as an intimate friend, now in trial, “have forgotten me,” namely, do not care for me. After these he goes on to enumerate the household servants when he says, “The tenants of my house,” who used to serve me, “and maids considered me as a stranger,” not caring about my afflictions; “and I have been like a foreigner in their eyes,” for they obviously despise me. He places next the disobedience of the slaves, “I called my slave and he did not answer me.” He adds proud contempt, “I begged him with my mouth,” i.e., for I had to urge him not by command, but by entreaties because he despised me. Then he enumerates the persons most closely joined to him, namely his wife and children. A wife usually especially enjoy the presence of her husband, unless she perhaps comes to detest him because of some serious corruption. He shows this saying, “my wife shuddered at my breath,” because of the stench of the sores which made him dreadful to her. The duty of children is to obey the least nod expressing the will of a parent. As a result of great contempt for the parent, a father, to whom a son should show respect, has to beg his son humbly and to show this he puts, “I begged the sons of my loins.” But this seems to contradict what has been said above (1:19) when the text states that his sons and daughters were crushed by the ruin of their house. The explanation may be that some small ones survived, who were not present at that banquet, or that perhaps some sons of his sons, imputed the death of their own parents <to> their own sins, despised Job for his.

So, after he said he was despised by those inside and outside his household, he shows next that he has been despised both by the foolish and the wise. But foolish men characteristically despise those whom they see in misery, because they think only earthly goods should be honored, and so he says, “Even the foolish despised me,” in their heart, when I was present, “and when I left them, they disparaged me,” verbalizing things they were ashamed to say in my presence. Then he also says he is despised by wise men whom he once regarded as intimate friends, and so he says, “Once my counselors, they despised me,” namely these men whom I used to admit to my counsel because of their wisdom, “and he whom I loved most is against me.” Perhaps he says this because one of those who were present was more hostile to him.

So after he has describes the adversities, which belong to exterior things, he remarks about the consumption of his own body saying, “My bone clung to my skin, after my flesh was consumed,” because his flesh had been so consumed from the gravity of his illness that his skin clung to his bones. But because the lips are fleshly and adhere to the teeth like bones, he then makes a exception of them saying, “Only my lips stand around my teeth,” by which he makes oblique reference to the fact that all the other functions of the members of the body have ceased and only his function of speech had remained.

After he has enumerated his own adversities, he invites them to compassion, doubling his request for mercy because of the great number of his miseries saying, “Have pity on me, have pity on me, you, at least, who are my friends,” because I have been abandoned by others. The cause of pity is his affliction which is all the more grave as it is incited by someone more powerful, and so he continues, “because the hand of the Lord has struck me.” For he understood that he had been smitten by God. It does not seem fitting for a man to add affliction to someone who has been afflicted, and so he says, “Why do you persecute me like God?” as if to say: The persecution which comes from God is enough for me, but it was more your duty to bring consolation. He shows in what way they were persecuting him saying, “And glut yourselves on my flesh,” which characteristically belongs to detractors, who are said to feed on human flesh insofar as they rejoice in the weaknesses of others. For the flesh is the weakest part of an animal.

The Second Lesson: Job’s Great Profession of Faith: His Redeemer Lives

23 Who would grant me that my words be written down? Who would grant me that my words be engraved in a book with an iron stylus or on a plate of lead or securely sculptured on flint. 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and I shall arise on the very last day from the earth. 26 I will be surrounded again with my own skin and in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I myself will see and my eyes will behold him and not another. This my hope has been put in my heart. 28 Why, then, do you now say: Let us persecute him and let us find the root of the word against him? 29 Flee, then, from the face of the sword, for his sword is the avenger of evils and know there is a judgment.

Job had said above that his hope had been taken away, “like an uprooted tree.” (19:10) He certainly said this referring to the hope of recovering temporal prosperity, to which the friends urged him many times. But he showed in many ways above (vv.11-20) that he ought not to have this hope by reducing their arguments to various unfitting conclusions. Now he clearly declares his intention to show that he had not said these things before in despair of God, but because he bore a higher hope about Him, which was not even related to present goods, but to future goods. Because he was about to speak about great, wondrous, and certain things, he first shows his desire that the thought he is about to express would endure in the faith of his descendants. We transmit our words and their meaning to our descendants through the function of writing. So he says, “Who would grant me that my words be written down?” namely, what I am about to say about the hope which I have fixed in God so that my speeches may not be forgotten. What is written in ink usually fades with the long passage of time and so when we want some writing to be preserved for a long time, we not only record it in writing, but by some impression on skin, on metal, or in stone. Since what he hoped for was not in the immediate future, but is reserved for fulfillment at the end of time, he then says, “Who would grant me that my words be engraved in a book with an iron stylus,” like an impression made on skin, “or,” if this is not enough, by a stronger impression made, “on a plate of lead, or,” if this seems not enough “securely sculptured,” with an iron stylus, “on flint?”

He shows what the discourses are he would like to be preserved with such great diligence adding, “For I know that my redeemer lives.” He clearly attributes this to the manner of a cause. Things which we are not sure of we are not anxious to commit to memory, and so he clearly says, “For I know,” namely by the certitude of faith. This hope is about the glory of the future resurrection, concerning which he first assigns the cause when he says, “my redeemer lives.” Here we must consider that man, who was established as immortal by God, incurred death through sin, according to Romans, “Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death.” (5:12) Job foresaw through the spirit of faith that the human race must be redeemed from this sin through Christ. Christ redeemed us from sin by death, dying for us, but he did not so die that he was consumed by death, because although he died according to his humanity, yet he could not die according to his divinity. From the life of the divinity, the humanity has also been restored by rising up to life again, according to what is said in 2 Cor., “For although he was crucified because of our infirmity, yet he lives by the power of God.” (13:4) The life of the Risen Christ, moreover will be diffused to all men in the general resurrection, and so in the same place the Apostle Paul puts, “For we are weak in him, but we will live in him by the power of God in us,” (11:4) and so the Lord says according to John, “The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear it will live: for just as the Father has life in himself, so he gave it to the Son also to have life in himself.” (5:25-26) Thus the primordial cause of the resurrection of man is the life of the Son of God, which did not take its beginning from Mary, as the Ebionites said, but always was, according to Hebrews, “Jesus Christ yesterday, today, and forever.” (13:8) Therefore he clearly does not say, “My redeemer will live,” but, “lives.” In this cause he foretells the future resurrection and he determines its time when he then puts, “and I shall arise on the very last day from the earth.” Here one must reflect that some men posited that the motion of the heavens and this state of the world would endure forever, and they maintained that after a fixed number of revolutions of years, when the stars return to the same places, dead men would be restored to life. Since a day is caused by a motion of the heavens, if this motion of the heavens will endure forever, there will be no very last day. Thus to remove the aforementioned error he then clearly says, “on the very last day,” and this is consonant with the statement of the Lord, who says in John, “I will raise him up on the very last day (novissimo die).” (6:40)

There were other men who said that men will rise by resuming not an earthly body, but some kind of heavenly body. To exclude this he then says, “I will be surrounded again with my own skin.” He expressly says this because he had said above (v.20) that only the skin had remained around his bones. In this way of speaking he assigns the explanation (ratio) of the resurrection, namely, that the soul does not always remain divested of its very own skin. Again there were some who said that the soul will resume the same body it had put aside, but according to the same condition, so that it would need food and drink and would exercise the other fleshly works of this life. But he excludes this saying then, “and in my flesh I shall see God.” For it is clear that the flesh of man is corruptible according to the state of the present life. As Wisdom says, “The body which is corrupted weighs down the spirit.” (9:15) and so no one can see God while living in this mortal flesh, but the flesh which the soul will resume in the resurrection will certainly be the same in substance, but will have incorruptibility by a divine gift, according to what is said by Paul, “This corruptible must put on incorruption.” (1 Cor.15:53) Therefore, that flesh will be of this latter condition because it in no way will impede the soul from being able to see God, but rather will be completely subject to the soul. Porphyry, not knowing this said, “The soul must flee the body to become happy,” as though the soul and not man will see God. To exclude this Job places, “whom I myself will see,” as though he should say: Not only will my soul see God but “I myself” who subsist from body and soul. To indicate that the body will be a participant in that vision in its proper own way he adds, “and my eyes will behold him,” not because the eyes of the body would see the divine essence, but because the eyes of the body will see God made man. They will also see the glory of God shining in created things as Augustine says at the end of The City of God. That one believe that man must be restored the same in number and not only the same in species in order to be restored to see God he says, “and not another,” in number. This is so that one might not believe that he expects to return to the kind of life which Aristotle describes in II De Generatione saying that each corruptible substance which has been moved will be restored in species, but not in the same number.

After these things as premises about the cause, the time, the manner of the resurrection, and the glory and identity of those who will rise, he then adds, “This my hope has been put in my heart,” as if he should say: For my hope is not in earthly things which you promise vainly, but in the future glory of the resurrection. He says clearly, “has been put in my heart,” to show that he held this hope concealed not only in words, but also in his heart; not doubtfully, but most firmly; not like something of little consequence, but as something most precious. For what is hidden in the heart is possessed in a secret way, is firmly held and is considered dear.

Thus after he has shown the depth of the hope which he had in God, he rejects their false accusations which they sought to make against him as if he had rejected the hope and fear of God by not putting his hope in temporal things. So he then says, “Why, then, do you now say: Let us persecute him?” namely, as though I despair of God or do not fear God, “and let us find the root of the word against him,” by condemning my speech as though I have denied the providence of God? I do not deny, but assert, this providence, saying that rewards and punishments are prepared by God for man also after this life. So he then says, “Flee, then, from the face of the sword,” of divine revenge reserved in the future life for you, even if you flourish in temporal prosperity; “for his sword is the avenger of evils,” i.e., the vengeance which he will properly take after death. “Know there is a judgment,” not only in this life, but also after this life in the resurrection of good and wicked men.

 

CHAPTER TWENTY: SOPHAR’S ANSWER: THERE IS A FUTURE LIFE, BUT ALSO SANCTIONS ON EARTH

The First Lesson: The Success of the Sinner is Short-lived

1 Then Sophar the Naamathite answered and said: 2 Therefore my various thoughts succeed each other and my mind is disturbed about various things. 3 I will hear the teaching by which you criticize me and the spirit of my understanding will answer for me. 4 I know this from the beginning when man was placed on earth, 5 that the praise of the wicked is short-lived and the joy of the hypocrite is a speck. 6 If his pride ascends up to heaven and his head touches the clouds, 7 he will be thrown out in the end like dung and those who saw him will say: Where is he? 8 Like a dream flying away, he will not be found; he will pass away like a vision in the night. 9 The eye which saw him will not see him, nor will his place behold him anymore. 10 His children will be wasted by poverty and his hands will cause him pain. 11 His bones will be full of the vices of his youth and they will sleep with him in the dust. 12 Since wickedness was sweet in his mouth, he hid it under his tongue. 13 He will spare it and does not leave it and he will keep it secret in his throat.

After Sophar heard the opinion of Job about the hope of the future life, he seems to have acquiesced, and so after this second answer he contradicted nothing in the third one. But there was still something in his heart which did not permit him to give ground completely from his former opinion. For he thought that although retributions and punishments are made in the future life for merits, as he had learned from Job, nevertheless, it still seemed to him that the prosperity and adversity of this life were given to men by God as sanctions for virtues and sins. So as though convinced in part and yet holding his first opinion in part he says, “Therefore,” namely, because of the words which you say about the future life, “my various thought succeed each other.” He then says that these various thoughts should not be understood to belong to the same opinion, like when someone thinks out carefully various arguments for the same conclusion, “and my mind is disturbed about these various things,” for I am led now to one opinion and now to the other by the force of the arguments which can be induced for both, as though the force of the arguments were incapable of resolving the contrary arguments. For he thought that he should not reject the opinion of Job about the hope of the future life, and so he says, “I will hear the teachings by which you argue with me,” in believing what you have said about the future resurrection, but I still do not dismiss my first opinion totally. He expresses this saying, “and the spirit of my understanding will answer for me,” as if to say: My intellect still knows what it should answer for its own opinion.

It seemed most certain to him and proved by experience that although the evil enjoy some prosperity, still it is brief and is also quickly destroyed in this life either by a premature death or by some subsequent adversity. He expresses this saying, “I know this,” looking, “from the beginning when man was placed upon the earth,” as though to say, from the beginning of the human race, “the praise of the wicked is shortlived.” For they are sometimes praised for a little while because of some signs and beginnings of goodness which appear in them. But those are immediately darkened by the evil works which appear in them, and so the joy which they have from the favor which they take from pretense passes away in a short time. So he says, “and the joy of the hypocrites is like a speck,” passing away in a moment, because afterwards they are known by their fruits, as Matthew 7:16 says. It sometimes happens that from that favor which he enjoyed for a short time from his pretense he was lifted up to some high rank, and so as a consequence he shows that this also will not endure for him, saying, “If his pride should ascends up to heaven,” that is, if because of this high state which he has attained he ascends to such great pride that he does not think himself liable to fall as the earth, but immovable as the heaven, “and his head touches the clouds,” so that it is like he is advanced beyond the common state of man, “he will be lost in the end life dung.” This will happen either from a premature death by which he is rendered a human corpse and worthless, abominable like dung as Jeremiah says, “The dead body of a man falls like dung upon the face of the earth,” (9:22) or by the fact that his evil will be disclosed to all and he will be reputed vile by all, as Scripture says, “Every woman who fornicates will be tread under foot like dung on the road.” (Sirach 9:10) When his pride is cast down, wonder will arise in the hearts of men about such sudden loss, and the reverence which he enjoyed will end. So he says, “and those who saw him will say: Where is he?” either in wonder or contempt.

To show his dejection is irreparable he then says “Like a dream flying away he will not be found,” for as a bird flying away easily disappears from the eyes of men, so also dreams easily disappear from human knowledge. As little or no trace remains of them, nor does there exist any testimony by which it could be brought back if it is lost, his knowledge passes away irreparably. Sophar likewise gives one to understand that the downfall of the wicked is irreparable. He shows the causes of this irreparability are many. First, on the part of the sinner himself who perishes, and so the text says, “he will pass away like a vision in the night,” which is a vision of sense image which is not lasting, and so after he loses it, it cannot return. A vision during the day is of something permanent, which if someone has ceased to see it, he can run back to see it again. In the same way, as long as he remains a sinner, if adversity should come to him, he can hope for recovery. But when he passes out of this life, there is not further hope for recovery. Second, he shows his fall to be irreparable on the part of other men when he then says, “The eye which saw him will not see:” for things which pass out of sight also pass easily out of mind, and so the dead who are withdrawn from human sight are easily forgotten. As a result, they neither have honor in the memories of men nor do their friends care to give them further aid. Third, he shows the cause of his inability to be restored, because he cannot return to his former state, and so he says, “nor will his place behold him any more.” For man cannot return after death to the same mode of living. Not only will he himself be cast aside, passing away in his own person and be taken away from the eyes of men never to be restored to his own place, but his sons will also be punished for his sin. So the text continues, “His children will be wasted by extreme poverty,” by the just judgment of God, so that since he sinned to attain the riches for his sons, he is even frustrated in his hope when his sons are impoverished.

Then, as though agreeing now with the opinion of Job, he then speaks also about the punishments of the future life saying, “and his hands will cause him pain,” because he will suffer pain in punishments for his sinful works which he did. It is apparent that this retribution of pain must be understood to be after death, when the text adds, “His bones will be full of the vices of his youth and they will sleep with him in the dust,” as if to say: Even after death, when his flesh will be dissipated into dust when only his bones remain in the grave, he will suffer punishment for his sins, not only the ones he committed in old age, but also those he committed in his youth a time more susceptible to sin. He shows the reason why he is also punished for sins after death saying, “Since wickedness was sweet in his mouth, he hid it under his tongue.” Here he uses the metaphor of a man eating sweet food who does not quickly swallow it, but keeps it in his mouth for a long time so that he may enjoy it longer. To develop this comparison he then says, “he will spare it,” the evil or sin which is sweet to him, and does not want to destroy it. He would destroy it, of course, by letting it go, and so the text continues, “he does not leave it.” He shows why he does not leave it saying, “and he will keep it hidden in his throat,” that is, he will not show it to anyone, and because of this no one will dissuade him from his hidden sin nor apply any cure. This applies to those who confess their sins. The reason why the sins of a man are punished after death is because in life he did not want to give them up.

The Second Lesson: The Punishment of the Wicked

14 His bread is changed in his stomach into the venom of asps within. 15 The riches which he has devoured, he vomit forth; and from his stomach God will cast them out. 16 The asps raise their head, and the tongue of the viper will kill him. 17 Let him not see the stream of the river flowing with butter and honey. 18 He will atone for everything he did, yet he will not be consumed. According to the great number of his strategems, he will pay his debt. 19 He broke in pieces and stripped the house of the poor, he pillaged the house and did not rebuild it. 20 He belly is not been satisfied, and when he has what he desired, he will not be able to possess them. 21 Nothing has remained of his food, and so nothing will remain of his goods. 22 When he is satiated, he will be bloated, he will burn with desire and every pain will rush against him. 23 Would that his belly be filled that he might send on him the anger of his fury and would shower his war upon him. 24 He will flee before the weapons of iron and he will fall on a bronze bow, 25 drawn and coming out of its sheath, and flashing for his bitterness. Terrors will go and come upon him. 26 Utter darkness has invaded his hidden places. Fire will devour him, a fire which is not enkindled, abandoned, he will be afflicted in his tent. 27 The heavens will reveal his evil and the earth will rise against him. 28 The seed of his house will be open and will be carried off in the day of divine vengeance. 29 This is the lot of the evil men given by God and the heritage of his words from God.

Since he had said (v.11) that the bones of the evil man must be filled with the vices of youth, so that he is punished after death he now treats more broadly of his punishments. First, he shows that the goods which he had in this world will change into evils for him. He uses the metaphor of one eating whose food sometimes becomes a cause of evil. This happens in two ways: in one way when food remains undigested in the stomach and is changed into venemous fluids. He expresses this saying, “His bread is changed in his stomach into the venom of asps within,” as if to say: As the food eaten sometimes turns into venomous fluids, so the goods which he had in this world and remained until death will change into the bitterness of death for him. Second, the food which has been eaten and if it cannot be digested is sometimes rejected by vomitting it out in disgust and pain. So also it sometimes happens that sinful men lose the temporal goods which they acquire in this world because they do not use them well, by divine judgment painfully like undigested food. So he then says, “The riches which he devoured,” which he rapaciously acquired, “he will vomit forth,” and will lose them with disgust; “and from his stomach,” from his dominion, “God will cast them out,” because they will be taken violently from him by divine judgment.

Not only the goods which he possessed will change into evil for him, but also he will suffer evils at the hands of his enemies both in word and in deed. He gives two examples of this. First, he gives the example of the asp which kills by its bite. So he says, “The asps raise their head,” against him to bite him. By this he means the head of evildoers, or even Satan himself attacking him. As the second example he gives the viper which distributes its poison with the tongue. So the text continues, “and the tongue of the viper will kill him,” by which he means some harmful thing or other comes from the tongue of a man like the poison from the tongue of a viper.

Then he continues with the punishment which is the privation of goods when he then says, “Let him not see the stream of the river flowing with butter and honey.” Butter and honey are similar in that both fittingly describe what is sweet to the taste, but honey is produced by bees who collect it from flowers. Butter is produced from the labor of men who take it from the milk of domesticated animals. So honey can mean any enjoyable good whatsoever which comes without the industry of man, whereas butter means any enjoyable good which is produced from human endeavor. A torrent comes on someone immediately and unexpectedly. The river means abundance because of the great quantity of water. The streams mean the distributions of goods. Not everyone has every temporal or spiritual good, but some have the latter and others the former. According to the opinion of Sophar, it is necessary to admit that the sweetness of goods come to good men abundantly and unexpectedly, both from human work and from divine providence without human work but in an ordered distribution. The sinner, he asserts, is deprived of this distribution. Because sometimes man becomes so weak from excessive punishment that he cannot sustain further punishments, he then adds that although the sinner is punished in many ways in this life, yet he is destined for further punishment in the future life. So the text continues, “He will atone for everything he did,” since for each and every sin he will suffer punishment, “yet he will not be consumed,” in the soul which is reserved for future punishments.

Consequently, he shows us the fitting character of the punishments for blameworthy acts when he then says, “According to the great number of his stratagems,” for the sins which he thought about with great care, “he will pay his debt,” because the punishment will fit the individual proportion of the sin. First, he clearly demonstrates this in the case of the sin of theft, where he posits two crimes in proper order. The first of these is the violent pillage which he means when he says, “He broke in pieces and stripped the house of the poor,” showing violence in breaking it in pieces and theft in stripping it. Second, he puts the lack of restitution, and to this he says, “he pillaged the house and did not rebuild it,” as if to say: He neglected to repay what he took from the house or destroyed in breaking it in pieces. He adds the proportionate punishment for this sin when he says, “His belly is not been satisfied,” as if to say: Since he stripped the house of the poor (v.19) and did not allow himself to be satisfied with their goods. Therefore his appetite is satisfied neither with the goods which he possesses lawfully nor with those he has acquired unjustly. As Qoheleth says, “The avaricious man will never have enough money, and he who loves riches does not enjoy them.” (5:9) As to this second thing he continues, “and when he has what he desired, he will not be able to possess it,” because either he will be taken away from them, or they will be taken away from him. This is fitting, because he did not want to restore by his own will the things which he had stolen, he loses them against his will.

Then he clearly shows the same is true in the sin of ravenous gluttony when he says, “Nothing has remained of his food,” because whatever he had he turned to his own uses, leaving nothing for the need of others. He then adds the fitting punishment saying, “and so nothing will remain of his goods,” for him, because he will lose everything. This is a fitting punishment since he did not want to reserve anything from his goods for others, so it is just that nothing is reserved for him. As to the fact that he consumed superfluous things for his own uses he then adds another fitting punishment saying, “When he is satisfied he will be bloated.” Here he uses the comparison of a man who eats too much and whose bowels become bloated because of an excess of food. By this he means the man who expends his superfluous goods for his own uses, or who acquired superfluous things for himself, will suffer a kind of bloating, unable to dispose correctly of all the things he acquired. This is clear in the Gospel of St. Luke concerning the rich man whose fields produced such abundant crops, and who wanted to tear down his barns to build larger ones. (12:18) Inordinate temperature and anxiety follow the bloating of the bowels, and so he then says, “and he will burn with desire.” The same is true of those who inordinately amass many possessions for themselves and are afflicted with excessive anxiety. Finally, pain from too much food often comes to all the members of the body as a result of surplus food, and so he adds, “and every pain rushes against him.” Likewise, many pains arise for those who have amasses surplus goods when they lose most of them.

Sophar considered then that the abundance of the evil man is harmful to him. As if from zeal for justice, he desires the greatest abundance of temporal goods for Job so that he suffers punishment. So the text continues, “Would that his belly be filled,” with the abundance of temporal goods, “that he, “God”, might send on him the anger of his fury,” revenge without mercy. He shows the measure of his anger saying then, “and would shower his war upon him.” He says “he would shower,” to show an abundance of evils. By the fact that he says, “on him,” that is, upon the strength of the sinner, he shows the impotence of the sinner to resist. When he says, “his war,” he shows that evil things are not brought upon him to correct him like a father chastises his son by discipline, but like extermination by which one destroys enemies. So he then says, “He will flee before the weapons of iron,” the present punishments by sustaining impatientlythe punishments which wound him at close quarters, like an iron sword. “And he will fall on a bronze bow,” in the punishments of the future life which wound from afar like a bronze bow, which cannot be broken, to show the infinite duration of future punishments. He consequently develops the image of this bronze bow saying, “drawn and coming out of its sheath.” (Understand: “Will be that bow”) For as long as the bow is in its sheath, it does not strike down. In the same way, the revenge of future damnation does not condemn as long as it remains in the foreknowledge of God like a sheath, but it is taken out of the sheath by malice which provokes God, and then it is brought forth by divine disposition. He shows its effect when he then says, “and flashing for him in his bitterness.” For as a bolt of lightening comes from above, suddenly, violently, and brightly, so that vengeance will be born to the sinner by God unexpectedly, with such great violence that he is unable to resist, and with such a clarity of justice that there will be no room for excuse. Because of this the sinner will be filled with bitterness.

He then explains in detail the punishments of this vengeance. First, he explains that the sinner will be surrendered to the power of the demons. As to this he says, “Terrors will go and come upon him,” for the demons will receive free reign over him. Next he places the pain of loss when he says, “Utter darkness has invaded his hidden places,” because he will suffer perfect interior and exterior darkness, far from the brightness of God. He says this darkness is in secret for as the brightness of the saints is hidden from us in this life, so is the darkness of the evil. He places next the pain of sense when he says, “Fire will devour him,” not by consuming him, but by swallowing him in his affliction This is “a fire,” of Hell, “which is not enkindled,” by man, but by divine power, according to Isaiah, “The breath of the Lord enkindled it like a torrent of sulphur.” (30:33) In these punishments no aid will come to him, and so he says, “abandoned, he will be afflicted in his tent,” from the fact that he is left without help and in the place of punishments destined for him.

After he describes the punishments which the sinner will suffer in himself, he then adds the punishments which pertain to him according to what remains of him after death in this life. First, as to how the sinner remains in the memories of men he says, “The heavens will reveal his evil,” for by the power of heaven his evil, which was hidden while he lived, will be revealed after death, “and the earth will rise up against him,” because when his evil is clearly seen, the men of the earth who perhaps revered him while he was alive will rise up against even the dead man. He places next his punishment as to what remains in his sons when he says, “The seed of his house will be open,” because his sons will be exposed to trials, and this seed, “will be carried off,” from this life “on the day of divine vengeance,” that is, on the day of divine vengeance although this can also refer to the final judgment, when the saints will reveal the evil of the sinners, and the whole earth, “will wage war against the foolish.” (5:21) The seed, that is, the works of sin, will be clearly seen At last the evil man will be carried off to hell.

Then in epilogue he says, “This is the lot of the evil man given by God,” which he acquired for himself by evil works, “and the heritage of his words from God,” which he acquired for himself by his evil words. Note that in the foregoing he mixes the present and future punishments together.

 

CHAPTER TWENTY ONE: THE SECOND ANSWER OF JOB TO SOPHAR

The First Lesson: The Prosperity of the Wicked is a Fact

1 Job answered saying: 2 Listen, I beseech you, to my words and do penance. 3 Bear with me so that I, too, may speak, and after my words, if it seems right, laugh. 4 Is my debate against a man so that I should not be sad with merit? 5 Pay attention to me, be astonished and put your finger over your mouth. 6 When I call this to mind, even I am amazed and trembling invades my flesh. 7 Why then do the wicked live, why have they been lifted up and comforted with riches? 8 Their seed endures in their presence, the crowd of their neighbors and descendants endure in their sight. 9 Their houses are safe and peaceful and the rod of God is not on them. 10 Their ox has conceived and not aborted; the cow has calved and has not been deprived of her young. 11 Their little ones like flocks have come forth and their young dance in play. 12 They play the tambourine and harp and they enjoy the sound of the organ. 13 They spend their days in prosperity, and they go down to Sheol in a moment. 14 They said to God: Depart from us, we do not want knowledge of your ways; 15 who is the Almighty that we should serve him and what comes to us if we adore him? 16 Nevertheless, since their own goods are not in their hands, let their counsel be far from me. 17 Each time the lamp of evil men goes out, the deluge comes on them and apportions the pains of his wrath. 18 They will be like chaff before the wind and like ash which the whirlwind drives away. 19 God will save the pain of the father for the sons, and when God repays, they will not know. 20 His eyes will see their destruction and he will drink of the fury of the Almighty. 21 For what difference does it make to him what happens to his house after him? Or if the number of his months will be cut in half?

In the preceding chapter Sophar had already consented to the opinion of Job, at least in part. He had affirmed that sins were punished after death, although he still retained in this his own opinion that sins were also punished temporally in this life. For this reason Job has some hope of converting them completely to the true opinion. So he first humbly invites his friends to pay attention when he says, “Listen, I beseech you, to my words.” Since up to this time they had heard his words with some mockery, he says then, “and do penance,” about the fact that you have jeered at my words or have contradicted the truth. As you have all spoken now twice, “Bear with me so that I may speak,” answering those things which were last proposed to me. So that they make no judgment of condemnation before they heard him he says, “and after my words, if it seems right to you, laugh,” as if to say: If you judge this my opinion to be laughable, first listen to my answer; and if that does not satisfy you, you will be able to laugh at me with more justice afterwards. Lest his words will be necessarily condemned, he shows that he is about to speak the great matters of divine judgment and not human judgments. Thus he says, “Is my debate against a man so that I should not be sad with merit?”, as if to say: If the intention of my argument was to question whether a man justly or unjustly afflicted me, in whatever way this happened, I would lack sadness with reason. But my intention is to inquire how this has happened by the just judgment of God. Since this disputation is about a great matter, one should listen attentively, and so he says, “Pay attention to me.” It should also not be listened to lightly or with scorn, but more with dignity and with amazement, and so he says, “Be astonished.” It should also be heard in silence and without murmuring, and so he says, “and put your finger over your mouth.” Lest it seem that he speaks boastfully as if giving honor to his own authority, he shows that he also is awed at the high nature of the question, and so he says, “When I call this to mind, even I am amazed,” lest I be unfaithful to the truth in any respect in such a great question, or should speak irreverently of divine judgments. That fear does not stop short in the mind, but goes even to the flesh, and so he says, “and trembling invades my flesh”: for even the flesh is affected by a violent passion of the soul.

Since these premises were sufficient to call the others to attention, he proceeds to the question. Since Sophar had said (20:5) that the prosperity of evil men, if it happens, ends in a brief time and is changed into evil for them, Job, therefore, disproves this immediately saying, “Why, then, do the wicked live,” a long time? As if he should say: If the evil man flies away like the bird or passes quickly like a vision in the night, (20:8) why is it that many evil men have a very long life? In the same way, if “the joy of the hypocrite is like a speck,” (20:5) and his ascent is quickly thrown down, why “are they lifted up,” that is, promoted to honors? In the same way, if he “vomits the riches which he devoured,” (20:15) why are “they comforted with riches,” why are their riches maintained for them? Also, against Sophar’s statement, “His sons will be reduced to poverty,” (20:10) he says, “Their seed endures in their presence,” that is, their sons endure, with them looking on. He then says the same thing about other persons related to them saying, “the crowd of their neighbors and descendants endure in their sight.” By this he shows a double prosperity, because those closest to him are not taken away in death, which is what he means when he says, “endures,” nor are they removed far from him by exile or something of this sort, which is what he means when he says, “in their presence,” and “in their sight.”

He then pursues in detail the prosperity of the evil men already treated. First, he does so as to themselves, and he begins with immunity from evil when he says, “Their homes,” their families, and the necessities of life, “are safe,” from the assault of the enemy,” and peaceful,” without internal dissension. They are also immune from the divine scourge, and with resepct to this he adds “the rod of God is not on them,” because they are not corrected for their sins in this life. He speaks then about the increase of their goods, since their goods are not barren, nor are they deprived of their fruit. He clearly shows this in the species “ox,” for the ancients were very partial to oxen for use in agriculture. Thus he says, “Their ox,” that is, their oxen, (bos) “breed,” because there is no sterility. Conception comes first in the fertilization of animals, the formation of the fetus conceived in the womb and its gestation to term which is hindered by abortion comes second, and as to this he says, “and has not aborted.” Third is birth, and as to this he says, “the cow has calved.” (The names ox and cow here mean the same thing, and he uses both, either because of the harmonious phrasing or for the sake of the meter in the verse.) Fourth comes the education of the offspring, and as to this he then says, “and she has not been deprived of her young,” by some premature death.

As a consequence he speaks about the prosperity of the sons, and he first places the great number of the offspring when he says, “They have come forth,” namely, walking in the streets and not prevented by death. “Their little ones like flocks,” in their great number and their mutual concord. Second, he places their well-being when he says, “and their young dance in play,” as though they were not complaining about any illnesses. Third, he discusses their instruction as a part of which among the ancients consisted in instructing children in music, and so he says, “They play the tambourine and harp and they enjoy the sound of the organ,” for they are taught both to play music well and judge the way others play competently.

To answer the objection that their prosperity endures for a little while, or “like a speech”, (20:5) he then says, “They spend their days in prosperity,” as if to say: All the days of their lives are passed in prosperity. It is necessary that they experience death from the common condition of men in the end, but they still suffer this without undue anguish beforehand, and so he says, “and they go down to Sheol in a moment,” in death. For all the ancients before the coming of the Redeemer, about whom he had spoken above, (19:25) descended to the underworld, however some weighed with adversities in life did not immediately descend to Sheol, but only after suffering many bitter things, as Jacob says in Genesis, “Moaning will descend to my son in hell.” (37:35) But those who flourished in prosperity until death descend to Sheol as if in a moment.

One could counter that they besides the many evil things which evil men do, they merited earthly prosperity from God either by loving, by knowing, or by serving him in any of their kinds of works, or at least in seeking temporal goods from him. But he rejects this saying, “They said to God,” sinning from the intention of the heart as from a certain malice, “Depart from us,” which shows a defect of love, “we do not want a knowledge of your ways,” which shows a defect of knowledge through affected ignorance. The ways of God are his precepts and his judgments by which we are disposed by him. “Who is the Almighty that we should serve him?” which shows a defect of good works originating from the contempt of God, “and what comes to us if we adore him?” which shows a contempt of prayer because of a defect of hope.

Thus he most clearly refuted their opinion, showing that temporal prosperity is not always the reward of virtue nor temporal adversity the punishment of sin, because evil men frequently prosper in this life although they merit nothing good from God, and with this they suffer no grave adversities. But someone could counter: If prosperity happens to evil men and they lack adversities, then there is, therefore, no reason to avoid evil, and so Qoheleth says, “The same things happen to everyone, and so the hearts of the sons of men are filled with evil.” (9:13) But he answers to this objection saying, “Nevertheless, since their own goods are not in their hands, let their counsel be far from me.” To understand this one must know that certain goods are in the hand of a man, that is, in his power, namely, the voluntary works of virtue of which he is lord through his free will aided by grace of God. Thus the virtuous can always retain goods of this kind for as long a time as they wish, and because of this the advice to pursue goods of this kind should be heeded. But the goods of temporal prosperity are not in the power of those who possess them so that they can acquire or keep them when they will. Thus the counsel of those men should be rejected in which they hold God and justice in contempt in order to live prosperously; for by this means they cannot obtain what they intend, but sometimes are pressed with adversities.

Consider further that the adversity of an evil man is worse than that of the just man, because when the just man suffers temporal adversity, the support of virtue and the consolation in God remains to him. So he is not totally overthrown. But no support remains for evil men once they have lost the temporal goods which they sought exclusively. So he then says, “Each time the lamp,” the prosperity, “of evil men goes out,” ends, “and the deluge,” the grave storm of adversity, “comes on them,” by divine judgment, “and,” each time God, “apportions,” distributes in a determined measure, “the pains,” certain afflictions,” of his wrath,” caused by his fury, “they,” evil men, “will be like chaff before the wind,” which cannot resist the wind because of lightness, “and like ash,” which remain when wood is burned, “which the whirlwind drives away,” because it does not have moisture to hold itself together. So also when adversity comes, wicked men cannot resist it because they lack the support of divine hope and they are driven away by different thoughts without the moisture of virtue.

After this he speaks about his adversity as to his sons when he says, “God will save the pain of the father for the sons,” because the punishment of the father extends to the sons as imitators of the evil of the father. Nor will this be deferred until after the death of the father, but this will happen while the father is alive and knows it, and so he says, “and when he (God) repays” namely, when God renders the punishment to the sons, “then he (the father) will know.” So he says, “His eyes will see their destruction,” in the destruction of his sons or other kinds of adversity; and in this itself, “he will drink of the fury of the Almighty.” For the punishment of the father is that his sons are punished while he lives, and not if they were punished after his death. So he then says, “What difference does it make to him what happens to his house after him?”, that is, he will not be afflicted by the future misfortunes of his posterity, especially since the sinner is ignorant of this after his death, as he has said already, “Whether his sons will be noble or base, he is ignorant of the fact.” (14:21) “Or,” also what difference does it make to him, “if the number of his months is cut in half.” He cannot grieve about this in life because he did not know it would happen.

The Second Lesson: Job Strengthens his Opinion

22 Will anyone teach God knowledge, who judges eminent men? 23 One man dies strong, healthy, rich and fortunate. 24 His bowels are full of fat and his bones nourished with marrow. 25 Another dies in bitterness of soul, without any riches. 26 And yet they sleep in the dust in the same way and worms will cover them. 27 Certainly I know your evil thoughts and opinions against me. 28 For you say: Where is the house of the leader? Where are the tents of the wicked? 29 Ask every passerby and you will know that he thinks the same thing, 30 that the wicked man is spared for a day of perdition and he is brought to the day of fury. 31 Who will blame him for his conduct in his presence? And who can repay him for what he did? 32 He himself will be led to the grave and he will keep vigil in a gathering of the dead? 33 He was pleasant to the gravel of Cocytus which drags all men after it and those before it are without number. 34 How can you then console me in vain, when your answer has been shown to be contrary to the truth.

 Since Job had established above that evil men sometimes experience prosperous things and sometimes adverse things in this life, which causes doubt, he therefore seeks to resolve this doubt. First he shows that this does not arise from a defect in divine knowledge, as though the evil of those men to whom he gives prosperity escaped his notice. So he says, “Will anyone teach God knowledge?” as if to say: He does not need instruction by anyone about the merits of men to know to whom he should give prosperous things and to whom he should give adverse things. His next statement, “Who judges the eminent,” can be interpreted in two ways: in one way God does not stand in need of the instruction of anyone to be able to judge the great, that is, those who prosper in this world, like judges in human affairs need to be instructed by witnesses about the merits of those they are judging. This text can be understood in another way as introduced as a confirmation of the preceding idea. For the fact that God knows all things and he does not stand in need of instruction by anyone is clear because he judges men no matter how great they are. No one judges things of which he is ignorant, and so it cannot be that knowledge of anyone no matter how great may escape his notice.

Therefore, after he has established the sufficiency of divine knowledge, he then introduces material for a doubt which might arise about how he governs human beings in different ways because some are prosperous until their death whereas others die in misery. Temporal prosperity consists first in power, and regarding this he says, “One man will die strong;” second in the health of the body, and regarding this he says, “healthy;” third in a wealth of exterior things, and regarding this he says, “rich;” and fourth in the prosperous success of one’s plans and of works, and regarding this he says, “and fortunate.” For one is considered really fortunate in the eyes of some when everything succeeds for him according to desire. To show that his riches are not only sufficient, but also superabundant he says, “His bowels are full of fat,” for fat is generated by a superabundance of food. Again, he shows his power is based on numerous supports saying, “and his bones are nourished with marrow,”: for bones show strength because their strength is supported by the nourishment of the marrow. He then speaks about the adversity of other men saying, “Another dies in the bitterness of his soul.” This regards the interior pains which men conceive either from bodily harms or from unfortunate events. He adds, “without any riches,” to show a defect of exterior things. Yet although men with equal merits are differentiated this way in life, at least after death one cannot maintain that their lot cannot be changed in these things which are different in the disposition of their bodies. For their bodies are disposed equally after death, and so he says, “And yet they will sleep in the dust in the same way,” because they will be buried in the earth equally, “and worms will cover them,” for their bodies will decay in the same way. So it is clear that no reason for difference among men based of prosperity or adversity in these things which are equal in merit or demerit, can be proved on the basis of the different disposition of bodies after death.

The opinion of the friends of Job was that the reason for this difference was based on the diversity of merits. This is against the evidence of experience in the fact that some of the evil prosper and some of them suffer adversities. So he quotes their opinion with scorn as already disproved saying, “Certainly I know your thoughts,” in which they condemned Job rashly, “and opinions,” spoken in exterior words, “which are evil against me,” because you accuse me of inequitable impiety based on the adversities which I suffer. So he continues, “For you say: Where is the house of the leader? Where are the tents of the wicked?” as if to say: You fell together with your family from such a great preeminence as the tents of the evil men usually fall.

After he has demonstrated the evil of their opinion by the things said above, he proceeds to determine the truth. He prefaces this by saying that what he is about to say is not new, but commonly held among most people. He says, therefore, “Ask every passerby,” as if to say: I do not have to diligently search for a witness, since it can be had from anyone passing on the street. Or the passers-by could mean those who use this life not as an end, but as a means, “and you will know that he thinks the same thing,” which I am about to tell you. So you are without excuse for separating yourselves from the truth which all commonly hold. He explains this truth then saying, “that the wicked man is spared for the day of perdition,” as if to say: The fact that he is not punished, but prospers in this life, happens because his punishment is reserved for another time when he will be punished more gravely. So he says, “and he is brought to the day of fury,”: for since fury is anger aroused, the name wrath denotes a harsher vengeance. He shows why he is saved for the day of perdition and of fury saying, “Who will blame him for his conduct in his presence? And who can repay him for what he did?” Here he gives two reasons, the first of which is that he is of such slight wisdom that he does not even learn from punishments so that he might recognize his own fault, but he murmurs in the midst of the blows as if he were punished unjustly. This is what he means when he says, “Who will blame him in his presence?” so that he recognizes, “his conduct” his evil way? Another reason is that the punishments of this life are not sufficient for the punishment of such great guilt, because if they are harsh they kill the sinner quickly, and this is what he says next, “and who can repay him for what he did,” in this life? So he concludes that this day of perdition and the fury previously mentioned is not in this life but after death, for he then says, “He himself will be led to the grave,” after he has died. Yet he will live in his soul, and he then expresses this saying, “and he will keep vigil in the gathering of the dead,” because although he seems to sleep by the death of his body, he will still keep vigil through the life of his soul. Lest it seem that after death he passes into joy he says, “He was pleasant to the gravel of Cocytus (of the lower world).” For since he had invoked the man-in-the-street as his witness, he proposes the truth about the punishment of evil men after death under the guise of a myth which was commonly told. This myth is that in hell, among other things, there was a river called the Cocytus, a word which is translated as “lamentation,” to which the souls of evil men are led. As other rivers drag gravel along, so that river in a certain way carries along the souls of evil men. Thus the evil man is said, “to be pleasant to the gravel of Cocytus,” because his association was welcome to evil men, and so he will have a place among evil men who are in lamentations. He then tells what this river produces for men saying, “which drags all men after it,” because all men die in some sort of mourning, for what is after death is like the end of that river whose beginning is what is done in this life, and so he then says, “and those before it are without number,” because grief seizes most men even in this life.

So Job has explained his idea in a gradual order, first showing in Chapter Nineteen (v. 25) that the hope of the just tends to reward of the future life. Here he expresses the opinion that punishment is reserved for evil men after death, and so from both sides, after refuting the opinion of his adversaries he says, “How can you then console me in vain?” by promising temporal prosperity, “when your answer has been shown to be contrary to the truth?” in that you say rewards and punishments are assigned to men in this life, which has been disproved above in many ways.

 

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO: THE THIRD DISCOURSE OF ELIPHAZ

The First Lesson: Job is Presumptuous

1 Eliphaz the Temanite took up the argument and said: 2 Can man be compared to God, even if he is perfect in knowledge? 3 What advantage is there for God if you will be just? Or what will you give him if your life will be blameless? 4 In fear will he blame you and come with you into judgment? 5 Is it not because of your great malice and your infinite iniquities? 6 For you took away the pledge of security of your brother without cause and you despoiled the naked of their clothes. 7 You did not give water to the weary and you have taken bread from the hungry. 8 You gained possession of your land by the strength of your arm and you kept it because you were the most powerful. 9 You sent widows away empty-handed and you weakened the arms of the orphans. 10 On that account you are surrounded with snares and sudden dread throws you into confusion. 11 You thought that you would not see darkness and you would not be oppressed by the force of flood waters. 12 Do you think that God is higher than heaven and is elevated above the highest star? 13 And you say: What, indeed, does the Lord know? He judges as though through a fog. 14 The clouds are his hiding place and he does not see ours, and he walks about the hinges of heaven.

When blessed Job had finished speaking, Eliphaz did not understand his words according to the intention with which they were spoken. Indeed, when Job had spoken first about the exalted character of the matter, he said “Is my debate against man,” (21:4) Eliphaz takes this to have been said in such a way as if to dispute contentiously with God, and so accuses him of presumption for three reasons. First, one is provoked to discussion or dispute with another when one sees him comparable to himself in knowledge of the truth, so that from mutual discussion something hidden may be brought to light. However, it is especially presumptuous for man to dare to compare his knowledge to divine knowledge, and so he says, “Can man be compared to God, even if he is perfect in knowledge?” as if to say: “No” because the knowledge of God is infinite. Second, someone is provoked to dispute or reason with another because of things which he received from him, so that a comparison of things given and things received may be made. However, it is presumptuous that man should think that the goods which he does are useful to God, and so the Psalmist says, “I said to the Lord: You are my God because you do not need my goods,” (15:2) and so he continues, “What advantage is there for God if you will be just,” in doing good works? “Or what will you give him if your life will be blameless,” by abstaining from sin? Third, someone is challenged in a judgment with another from the fear of the higher power of the one calling him into judgment, which is a wicked thing to think of God. Thus he says, “In fear,” of some judge, “will he blame you,” by accusing you, “and come with you in judgment,” as if summoned by an equal?

Then, since Job had said that the opinions of those who had said that his house had perished like “the tents of the wicked” (21:28) were unjust, Eliphaz intends to show that his opinion is right when he says, “Is it not because of your great malice and your infinite iniquities?”, as if to say: God accuses you by afflicting punishments, not because of fear, but because of the love of justice, to punish your sins. So “malice” can refer to the sins by which he wounded others; “iniquity” to the sins by which he omitted the works of justice. So he says the malice is “great” and the iniquities are “infinite”, because man sin in more things by omission than by commission. Then he first explains an observation about injuries born to neighbors, which are sometimes inflicted by means of calumny under the pretext of justice. So he says, “You took away the pledge of security of your brother without cause,” without necessary things, because you were able to trust your brothers without a pledge of security. Sometimes harms are inflicted without any tint of justice, and as to this he says, “You despoiled the naked of their clothes.” This can be understood in two ways: in one way because in despoiling them you have left them naked, leaving them nothing; in another way, because although they were naked and without sufficient clothing, you took away what little they had. He continues then with the ommission of the good works saying, “you did not give water to the weary.” They needed drink because of the thirst which arises from the toil of the journey, as if to say: You did not bear help and solace to workers and the afflicted. “And you have taken bread from the hungry,” saying in effect: You did not help the needy. These things are said about the sins which he committed as a private person.

He next speaks about sins which relate to things given into his rule. Among these he places first that he obtained his dominion not by justice, but by violence, and so he says, “You gained possession of your land by the strength of you arm,” for you acquired dominion of the land by your own force. He says second that he did not govern his subjects with justice, but with force, according to that is said in Wisdom, “Let our strength be the law of injustice.” (2:11) So he then says, “and you kept it because you were the most powerful,” as if to say: You used your subjects for your own will with the might of force. He treats third of evil judgments, since he did not render justice to weak persons, and so he then says, “You sent widows away empty handed,” since you did not do justice for them against their adversaries, as Isaiah says, “The cause of the widows has no place with them.” (1:23) You even oppressed the weak, and so he then says, “and you weakened the arms of the orphans,” as if to say: If there were any power in them, you have taken it away, contrary to what is said in Psalm 9, “To judge in favor of the humble and the orphan.” (v.35)

He then states that punishments have come upon him because of these faults, and so he says, “On that account you are surrounded with snares,” for you are oppressed on all sides with adversities so that no place is open for you to escape after you have fallen into them. Nor were you even able to hide before because they came upon you suddenly, and so he says, “and sudden dread throws you into confusion,” since evil things overcame him suddenly resulting in his being able to fear others also. He shows the reason why they come on him suddenly when he then says, “You thought that you would not see darkness,” that is, you would not arrive at these doubts in which you do not know what to do, which refers to the snares. Then, as to the fear which throws him into confusion he says, “and you would not be oppressed by the force of flood waters,” as if to say: You thought that you would never come to be oppressed by the violence and the great number of adversities coming from above, as 1 Thessalonians says, “When they say: peace and security, sudden destruction will come upon them from above.” (5:3)

The opinion that one will not suffer punishments for sins is related to the fact that one does not believe that God has providence over human things. He perhaps wished to twist what Job had said, “Will anyone teach God knowledge,” (21:22) which he interpreted wrongly to express a defect of divine knowledge, and so it seems right to him to imply that Job denies the providence of God. Consider that some deny that God has knowledge and providence over human affairs because of the high character of his substance, to which they say his knowledge is proportioned so that he knows nothing except himself. They think that his knowledge would be defiled if it were extended to lower things, and so he says, “Do you think that God is higher than heaven,” the whole universe of creatures, “and is elevated above the greatest of the stars,” above the highest of the creatures? He draws the conclusion of this thought, “And you say: What, indeed, does God know?” about those lower things? Still, men of this sort do not totally take knowledge of things away from God, but they say that he knows them universally, for example, by knowing the nature of their being or universal causes, and so he says, “He judges as though through a fog.” For to know something only in universal is to know it imperfectly, and so he calls this knowledge foggy, as if it depends on what is seen far off as if in a mist. So he knows there is a man, but he doesn’t know who he is. He shows this to be analogous to what happens with men, among whom one who hides in some place is not seen by those who are outside the place, and he does not see them. “The clouds are his hiding place and he does not see ours,” as if to say: Just as he is hidden from us as though obscured by the clouds, because we cannot know fully what is above the clouds. Therefore, the converse is true. He does not see those things which pertain to us as if they existed under the cloudssi, as Ezekiel says, speaking in the person of one who has this opinion, “The Lord has forsaken the earth, he does not see.” (9:9) For they thought that since things which are on the earth are subject to many defects and disorders they are not ruled by divine providence. Only the heavens whose order remains without defect are so ruled, and so he says, “And he walks about the hinges of heaven.” A hinge is something on which a door turns. Therefore, by this he means that heaven is moved by the providence of God and divine providence descends to these lower things from this motion like a door. For just as they say that God only knows human things in universal, so they say that he governs human affairs, but through universal causes which he governs by himself. Perhaps he wanted to allude to what Job had said above, “Who judges eminent men.” (21:22)

The Second Lesson: The Justice of God Triumphs

15 Do you want to follow the path of the world, which wicked men have trod? 16 They were snatched away before their time and the river undermined their foundation. 17 They told God: Depart from us. They thought the Almighty could do nothing. 18 Although he filled their houses with good things; let the opinion of these men be far from me. 19 The just will see it and will rejoice and the innocent will mock them. 20 Has not their insolence been beaten down and fire devoured their remains? 21 Go along with him and be at peace, and in this you will bear the best fruit. 22 Receive the law from his mouth and put his decrees in your heart. 23 If you will return to the Almighty, he will rebuild you; and put will evil far from your tent. 24 He will give flint in place of earth and golden torrents in place of flint. 25 The Almighty will fight against your enemies and you will heap up masses of silver. 26 Then you will abound in the delights of the Almighty above and you will raise your face up to God. 27 You will ask him and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your promises. 28 You will decide on the matter, and it will come to you, and light will shine on your ways. 29 He who will be humbled, will be in glory and he who lowered his eyes will be saved. 30 The innocent will be saved; he will be saved by the cleanliness of his hands.

In the words above, Eliphaz seems to have imposed the charge on Job that he did not believe that God had providence in human affairs. Nnow as a consequence he seems to impose on him the effect of this lack of faith. For those who do not believe that God has care of human affairs usually follow their own will in all things, disdaining the fear of God, and so he says, “Do you want to follow the path of the world?”, the conduct of those who believe in nothing but those temporal things which they see, and from this proceed to works of injustice. So he then says, “which wicked men have trod?” They are said to trod a path who frequent it, and intentionally and without hesitation wear it away. So those who do not believe in divine providence frequently, freely, and intentionally, do works of injustice. This does not happen to those who believe in divine providence, although sometimes they fall into injustice from weakness. Lest they appear to do this with impunity he then says, “They were snatched away before their time,” because they died without completing their natural span of life, and he assigns the cause for this saying, “and the river undermined their foundation.” The foundation of each man is that on which his hope principally rests. Such men do not place their hope in God, but only in temporal things which are corrupted by the changing course itself of things which he calls a river.

He explains what he means by path above when he says, “They told God: Depart from us,” for in their affection they disdained both him and his spiritual goods. He describes their lack of faith in the intellect saying, “They thought the Almighty could do nothing,” because if the care of human affairs does not belong to him, he can do nothing good or ill to man. This is contrary to the idea of omnipotence. To aggravate their fault he then speaks about their ingratitude saying, “though he filled their houses with good things,” with temporal things which are given by God to men,”” To disprove their assertion he says, “let the opinion of these men be far from me.”

Lest it seem the just also are overturned together with the wicked, Eliphaz excludes this adding, “The just will see it and will rejoice,” and by this he wants to say that the just will not be ruined, but will live in joy. To show that they lack justice because they rejoiced over the ruin of others he says, “and the innocent will mock them,” as if to say: The innocent can mock them safeguarding their innocence by the fact that they are undermined against their opinion. In this they rejoice in divine justice. This action seems to answer what Job had said directly, “After this, if it seems right to you, laugh,” (21:3) where he seemed to complain that he was being mocked by them.

To answer any doubts that the river has undermined the foundation of evil men, he proposes this as something clear in question form, “Has not their insolence been beaten down?” For they seemed from earthly prosperity, or also from their own pride to grow high like a tree. But as the growth of a tree is suddenly interrupted by cutting it down, so also their being raised up suddenly ceases through the removal of these things. Sometimes when a tree is cut it does not grow higher, but still remains the same in length. If, however, it is burned, no trace of its past height remains. So also if a man who is a sinner has died or been cast down, his sons also perish and his riches are taken away by the fire of adversity, and nothing will appear to remain of his former eminence; and so he continues, “And fire devoured their remains,” in the heat of tribulation, according to James, “The sun rose hot and dried the hay.” (1:11) The “remains” of a man express his sons or whatever else remains of him after him.

Since he had said (v.17) that this kind of ruin happens to the wicked because they struggled against God, so that Job is able to avoid a similar overturning when he adds, “Go along with him and be at peace,” as if to say: You were agitated because you wanted to argue against him. “And in this,” through that peace by which you will be reconciled with him, “you will bear the best fruit,” as if to say: You will attain whatever can be best as the fruit of this peace. He shows how he should find comfort in God in the next statement, “Receive the law from his mouth,” as if to say: Do not think that human affairs are not ruled by divine providence, but rather you should dispose your life according to the law of his government. Since some profess the law of the divine government but yet did not follow it in practice, he then says, “and put his decrees in your heart,” to meditate on his commandments and disposed to keep them. He shows in what manner he will experience these “best of fruits” saying, “If you will return to the Almighty,” to believe in his omnipotence and you submit yourself to him, “he will rebuild you,” as if to say: The prosperity of your house which was destroyed will be restored. He then shows how he should return perfectly to God saying, “and you will put evil far from your tent (Here “if” should be understood so that the literal text reads, if you will put evil far from your tent) He(God) will give flint in place of earth and golden torrents in place of flint.” His saying, “If you will put evil far from your tent,” explains what he had said, “”If you return to the Almighty.” (v. 23) He does not say: “If you will put evil far from you,” but “from your tent,” because he wants to insinuate that adversity happened to him not only for his own personal sin but also for the sin of his family. To be sure when he says, “he will give flint in place of earth,” “flint” refers to what he had said, “you will be rebuilt,” to indicate that there will be a restoration, but to something greater, so he can receive greater things in place of those he lost. Flint is more precious than the soil of the earth, and gold than flint.

He concludes and lists the character of these goods which he promises will be restored to him. He places first security resulting from the protection of God when he says, “The Almighty will fight against your enemies,” so that they cannot destroy again what will be restored to you by God. He places second the abundance of riches when he says, “and you will heap up masses of silver.” All riches are really meant by the name of silver because money is commonly made from silver. Lest he seems to only promise corporeal goods, he adds spiritual goods, among which he places first that man might love God and enjoy him, and so the text continues, “Then you will abound in the delights of the Almighty above,” when you have peace with him you will delight in him. Since each man looks with pleasure on what he delights in he then says, “and you will raise your face (your mind) up to God,” so you can contemplate him often. From this contemplation you will get confidence in having recourse to him, and so he then says, “you will ask him.” This will not be without result and so the text says, “and he will hear you.” Those whom God has heard usually fulfill the promises which they made in praying. So he says, “and you will fulfill your promises,” as the sign that you have been heard. Then he promises success and prosperity in all his plans when he says, “You will decide on a matter,” that is, you will order by your own providence how something will be, “and it will come to you,” for your hope will not be in vain. Lest you hesitate about what should be decided, what means you should use will be clear to you, and so he then says, “and light will shine on you ways,” that is, it will appear clearly to you by what ways you should proceed.

He shows the reason for these promises saying, “He who will be humbled,” by subjecting himself to God in his affection, “will be in glory,” which he will get from God. “And he who lowered his eyes,” to not think something stupid and proud in his intellect against God,” will be saved,” freed, from evils and made steadfast in good. Still not only is interior humility of the affection and the intellect required for salvation, but exterior purity of works is also necessary, and so he then says, “The innocent will be saved.” He shows by what merit he will be saved saying, “he will be saved through the cleanness of his hands,” that is, the innocence of his works. Consider here Eliphaz not only promises Job temporal goods which can be common to good and evil (if he is converted) as he had already, (5: 17-26) but also spiritual goods, which are proper to good men. But he still promises these only in this life.

 

CHAPTER TWENTY THREE: THE DISCOURSE OF JOB

The Lesson: Job Appeals to the Judgment of God

1 Job answered and said: 2 Now even my speech is bitter, and the hand of my wound has made my lament greater. 3 Who will grant me the ability to know him, find him and approach his throne? 4 I will place judgment before him and I will fill my mouth with rebukes, 5 to know how he answers me and to understand what he says to me. 6 I do not want him to argue with me with his great strength, nor crush me with the greatness of his power. 7 Let him propose fairly what he has against me and my claim will be victorious. 8 If I go to the East, he does not appear; if I go to the West, I will not understand him. 9 Or if I turn to the left, what will I do? I will not grasp him intellectually; if I turn to the right, I will not see him. 10 He knows my way and he will prove me as gold which passes through fire. 11 My foot followed his footprints, I have kept his way and I did not turn aside from it. 12 I have not departed from the commandments of his lips, and in my bosom I have hidden the words of his mouth. 13 Truly he is alone and no one can perceive his thoughts, and whatever his soul willed, he did it. 14 When he has accomplished his will in me and I stand before him, like many similar things are before him 15 on that account I am disturbed. When I consider him, I am overcome with fear. 16 God softened my heart and the Almighty threw me into confusion. 17 For I have not perished because of the darkness hemming me in, nor has the dark covered my face.

In his discourse Eliphaz proposed two changes against Job. (27:5,12) First, that he had been punished because of his very great evil. Second, that he had doubted or even denied divine providence. Now men are often saddened when any charges are falsely made against them, and so since Job did not see these things in himself he says, “Now also my speech is bitter,” as if to say: As you saddened me above with your reproaches, so you do even now so I am compelled to speak with bitterness. When one affliction is added anew to someone already afflicted, the first afflictions come back to mind and aggravate the present lament, so he continues, “the hand,” the power, “of my wound,” of the adversity which I once suffered, “now has made my lament greater,” because it makes the present pain more grave.

First, then, he begins to answer the reproach that he was punished for his own malice. Now Job recognized that he had been punished by divine judgment and so he has already said, “God confines me with the wicked,” (16:12) and therefore to search for the reason why he has been punished is to investigate the reason of divine judgment, which certainly no one can know but God alone. From this it is clear that Eliphaz had presumptuously asserted that Job had been punished because of malice. So he does not want to argue about this with Eliphaz, but turns the debate to God who alone knows the reason for his judgment. Now, Job could reckon that he was oppressed by divine judgment, if he had been punished for very great malice. Those who have been burdened by some judge usually approach the judge first. They cannot do this unless they find his bench and they cannot do this unless they know him beforehand. For no one can find something which he is seeking if he is altogether ignorant of it. Thus he says, “Who will grant me the ability to know him, find him, and approach his throne?” For he knew that God exceeded his knowledge, and so he could not find the road perfectly by himself to arrive at God’s throne which is the full knowledge of his judgment. He who has been burdened by a judge generally demonstrates the justice of his cause to him when he comes into his presence. So he says, “I will put judgment before him,” as if to say: I will propose what ought to be the just judgment of my cause. “I will fill my mouth with rebukes,” with loud complaints, but not because I believe that divine judgment is unjust, but only as someone making a inquiry. This is like debaters usually make objections against the arguments of their opponents, to understand the truth more fully, and so he says, “to know how he answers me.” This relates to knowing the truth of the answer. “To understand what he says to me,” relates to the understanding the sense of the words. For man cannot know whether something is true which is said to him unless he understands what is said to him.

In the previous chapter Job’s friends had frequently referred to divine power and grace as if to sustain divine judgment. As Sophar said in Chapter Eleven, “He is higher than the heavens and what will you do?” (v.8) and the other things which follow there. So he excludes this objection when he says, “I do not want him to argue with me with his great strength, nor crush me with the greatness of his power,” as if to say: Your answer in which the power and greatness of God are proposed against me alone does not satisfy me. Since just as he is most powerful and the greatest, so he is also the most just and loves equity. So he then says, “Let him propose fairly what he has against me,” that is, let him give an explanation which is based on equity, and it will be clear then that I have not been punished for malice. So he says, “and my claim will be victorious,” in which I argue against you maintaining I am not punished for my sins.

Lest someone think that he said, “Who will give me the ability to know him, find him, and approach his throne?” (23:3) because he believed that God was closed in a corporeal place or could be known sufficiently through creatures, he then says, “If I go to the East, he does not appear.” Consider that according to Aristotle there are six different positions in the heavens: up and down, right and left, and anterior and posterior. The principle of motion of the whole firmament appears clearly in the East. The beginning of motion in each animal is from the right. If, therefore, we imagine the motion of the firmament as the motion of an animal, it is necessary to place the right side of heaven in the East, the left in the West, up to the South and down to the North, anterior in the Northern Hemisphere, and posterior in the Southern Hemisphere as if to say: If we were to imagine a man who with his right hand moves the heaven from the East toward the Northern Hemisphere. The consequence would be that he would hold his head toward the South and his feet to the North, his anterior part would be towards the Northern Hemisphere, the posterior part of the man, his back, towards the Southern Hemisphere. Yet others did not consider the disposition of the human body so much as the order of the motion of the heaven, and placed the higher part of heaven in the Eastern part, because the motion begins there; however, they have put the right part of heaven in the South towards which the motions of the planets move from our perspective. Thus by opposition the lower part of heaven is found in the West, the left part of heaven in the North. The words of Job seem to proceed in this way, for he divides the left and the right opposite the East and the West. So one can simply understand that God is not contained in any part of the heavens as in a place, and so the sense would be, “I go to the East and he is not,” that is, a being neared there as if he existed there as in a place. “If I go to the West, I will not understand him,” as though he were closer, and were contained there, “or if I turn to the left,” that is, towards the North, “what will I do? I will not grasp him intellectually,” since he is not situated there materially. “If I turn to the right,” that is, towards the South, “I will not see him,” as though he existed there.

Or these words can be understood not to exclude local presence from God, but to show that he cannot be investigated sufficiently by means of lower effects. Among all the effects apparent in corporeal things, the most universal and the greatest one is the motion of the vault of heaven. Although the principle of this motion clearly appears to be in the East, still the principle of this motion does not sufficiently demonstrate the infinity of divine power, and so he says, “If I go to the East,” namely, by the progress of my consideration, as if reflecting on the principle of the motion of the vault of heaven, “he does not appear,” sufficiently in this consideration. The second effect of the divine power in corporeal things is the motion of the planets which is contrary to the motion of the vault of heaven. So its beginning is found in the West. One cannot sufficiently consider divine power on the basis of this motion either, and so he continues, “If (understood, “I will turn”) to the West,” if I go to the West considering the motion of the planets, “I will not understand him.” He says this very clearly: this motion is understood more from the difference in place of the planets than in what appears to the eyes. From the northern part there seems to us to be no principle but darkness, because the sun never appears from this part. Darkness impedes action according to John, “Night comes when no one can work,” (9:4) and so he says, “If to the left,” if I go ahead with my reflection “what will I do?”, for I do not find anything there but the absence of action, and so no trace will be given to know him. So he adds, “I will not understand him,” in any way at all. In the southern part we find the principle of light because of the luminous bodies which appear to us from that direction, and so he continues, “If I turn,” by consideration, “to the right,” to the southern part of the sky, “I will not see him,” as if to say: I will find corporeal light there, yet he cannot be seen through this. Although he is hidden to me in this way, the things which act about me are not hidden from me, and so he continues, “But he knows my way,” the whole course of my life. Job seems to say this against what Eliphaz had said before about the person of evil men as if he had attributed this position to Job, “The clouds are his hiding place and he does not see ours.” (22:14)

Since someone could object that, “If he knows your way, then, he punished you because of your sins,” he answers, “and he will prove me as gold which passes through fire.” Here he first clearly introduces the cause of his adversity which was brought on him so that from it he might appear proven before men. Just as gold is proven which can sustain fire; and just as gold does not become true gold because of the proof of fire, but its truth is clearly shown to men, so Job has been proved by adversity, not that his virtue might be manifested in the presence of God, but that it might be clearly shown to men. Moreover he says, “he will prove,” about the future, as if to show that he is even ready for future testing because of his patience. He proves by the righteousness of his life that he was not punished for previous sin. Here one should remark that each thing is shown right when it conforms to its own rule. There is a twofold rule of human life. The first is, of course, the natural law impressed in the minds of men by God, by which man naturally understands what is good from its likeness to divine goodness. In this we should first notice that man imitates the operation of the divine goodness according to his own ability in his affections and works as Matthew says, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (5:48) and Ephesians, “Be imitators of God as his dearest sons.” (5:1) So he says, “My foot,” the affection by which we proceed to act, “followed,” by imitation, “his footprints,” some similarity though small to the divine goodness in action. Second, one must take care to imitate God with his whole mind, and so he continues, “I have kept his way,” because I was careful not to deviate from it. Third, man must perservere in this and remain fixed in it totally, not in part, and so he then says, “and I did not turn aside from it,” i.e. I did not depart from it in any part of myself. The second rule of human life is the exterior law transmitted by divine inspiration, against which a man sins in two ways: in one way by contempt, and against this he says, “I have not departed from the commandments of his lips.” For some precepts had been divinely given to Noah and perhaps to some other holy men on whose lips God spoke. Second, someone sins against the law of God through ignorance or forgetfulness, and against this he says, “and in my bosom,” in the hidden part of the heart, “I have hidden the words of his mouth,” according to Psalm 118, “In my heart I hid your words to not sin against you.” (v.11)

To the objection that this proof which he introduced on the basis of the righteousness of his life is not fitting, he shows as a consequence that the most certain and demonstrative proof cannot be introduced about divine judgments because of the incomprehensibility of the divine will. So he then says, “Truly he is alone,” as if to say: There is no other creature like or equal to him who can comprehend him, and consequently his will. So he then says, “and no one can perceive,” know with certainty, “his thoughts,” the dispositions of his judgments. As the order in his judgment cannot be fully understood, so neither can it be resisted by any creature, and the text continues, “whatever his soul (the will) willed, he did,” for no one is able to resist. Moreover, sometimes especially in the case of a wise man it happens he has ruled his own will according to his own virtue but cannot do anything else. But he disproves this is true in God when he says, “When he has accomplished his will in me, and I am before him like many other similar things are before him,” as if to say: The reason that he does not bring more adversity against me, is not because he cannot do more, but because he does not will to. “On that account,” because I consider that he can do more and I cannot tell whether he does will to do more, “I am disturbed,” with the anguish of fear. So he then says, “when I consider him,” his power, “I am more overcome with fear,” that he is going to try me with still more grave adversity.

He expresses the cause of this anxious fear in the blow of God he has experienced against himself, and so he says, “God softened my heart,” as though dissolving it in liquid, by taking away the strength of security. “And the Almighty threw me into confusion,” for by his omnipotence he has brought in anguish of sadness about my present evils and fear of future ones. He then shows why he fears the future, although he is not conscious guilt on his part, saying, “For I have not perished,” i.e. I have endured adversity, “because of the darkness hemming me in,” the errors and the sins which are said to hem one in when they are confirmed in the spirit of a man, for example, when he sins from malice. Malice is sometimes not confirmed in a man, but he is impelled to sin from some sudden passion, for example, of concupiscence or anger. Job excludes this from himself saying, “nor has the dark covered my face,” for truly the eye of reason is darkened when its judgment is deceived in a particular act because of passion.

 

CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR: JOB CONTINUES

The Lesson: The Reconciliation of Evil with the Power and the Wisdom of God

1 The times have not been hidden from the Almighty, but those who know him are ignorant about his days. 2 Some have changed boundaries, they rob flocks and have pastured them. 3 They have stolen the ass of the orphans and they have taken the widow’s ox as a deposit. 4 They utterly ruined the road of the poor and they oppressed the gentle of the earth at the same time. 5 Others like the wild asses in the desert go forth to their work; they keep their eyes open for plunder and they prepare bread for their children. 6 They reap a field which is not their own and they glean the vine of one whom they have overcome by force. 7 They send men away naked taking away their garments and they have no covering in the cold. 8 They are soaked by the rain of the mountains and without any cover, they cling to rocks. 9 They have shown their power in robbing orphans and despoiled the poor crowd. 10 From the naked, from those going about without clothes, and from the hungry, they have stolen ears of corn. 11 Among these accumulations, they have taken a siesta and are thirsty even though they have tread the winepresses. 12 In the cities they made men groan, the souls of the wounded will cry out and God does not allow them to escape unpunished. 13 These were those who rebelled against the light, they did not know its ways nor did they return along its paths. 14 At the first light of morning, the murderer rises and kills the poor and the needy; and in the night he will be like a thief. 15 The eye of the adulterer watches for darkness saying: No one will see me. He will cover his face. 16 They steal through houses in the dark, as they have agreed during the day, and they were ignorant of the light. 17 If suddenly the dawn should appear, they think of it as the shadow of death; and they walk in the darkness as though they were in the light. 18 He is light on the surface of the waters; cursed be his lot on earth, nor let him walk on the road of the vineyards. 19 Let him cross over to great heat from freezing waters, and in sin to hell. 20 Let mercy forget him and let his sweetness become a worm. Let him not be in remembrance; but let him be cut down like a tree which bears no fruit. 21 For he feeds the barren woman who does not produce offspring; and he has done no good to the widow. 22 He has thrown down the powerful man in his strength; and when he rises up, he will not believe in his own life. 23 God gave him an opportunity to repent and he abuses it to the point of pride. For his eyes are on his ways. 24 They have been raised up a little and they will not stand firm. They will be humbled like everything else and will be born away. And like the tops of ears of wheat, they will be ground down. 25 If this is not so, who can call me a liar and accuse me of putting my words before God?

In the preceding chapter Job proved that he had not been punished because of malice as Eliphaz had asserted. (22:5) Now he wants to clearly show that he does not propose that God does not have care of human affairs, as Eliphaz had charged. (22:12) Consider here that some people proposed that God does not have knowledge and care of human things because of his distance from us. For they believed that just as we are not strong enough to know him because of such a distance, so he does not have the power to know us. But he rejects this first saying, “The times have not been hidden from the Almighty,” as if to say: Although the Almighty is outside the mutability of the times, he still knows the course of the times. Those, however, who are in time know him in such a way that they are still not strong enough to comprehend the manner of his eternity, and so he says, “but those who know him,” that is, men in time having some kind of knowledge of him either by natural knowledge or by faith or by the light of some higher wisdom, “are ignorant about his days,” they are not strong enough to comprehend him in the manner of his eternity.  

Since he had said that the course of temporal things was not unknown to God, he consequently shows in what way he judges temporal things, making first a list of the various faults of men, some of whom fraudulently inflict harmful things on others. So he says, “Some,” among men, “have changed boundaries,” by stealthily changing property limits. They have done the similar things with animals which are pastured in flocks. So he says, “they rob,” stealthily, “flocks,” of others, “and pastured them,” so that they might seem to belong to them. He enlarges their fault from the condition of the persons on whom they inflict those injuries. People are usually compassionate to orphans because of their weakness of age and lack of parents. Against this he says, “They have stolen the ass of the orphans,” because they make it wander off so that they might steal it with no compassion for the orphans. Similarly, people often have pity on widows because of the frailty of their sex and because they are deprived of the comfort of husbands, but against this he says, “and they take the widow’s ox as a deposit,” burdening her as though under some pretense of justice. Men also usually pity the poor who lack the means of economic survival, and against this he says, “They utterly ruined the road of the poor,” for they took from them the ability to procure necessities for themselves by harassing them in many ways. Also men usually desist from harming those who do no harm to anyone, but live agreeably with others, and against this he says, “and they oppressed the gentle of the earth at the same time,” who did not know either how to provoke other or be provoked.

However, there are some who do not harm others fraudulently like those already described, but through open violence. These men rush to do evil like people who are not restrained by the discipline of the law. He says about these men, “Others like the wild asses in the desert,” the wild asses of the forests who are not domesticated to the service of men, “go forth to their work,” to robbery like one who is enthusiastic for his profession. So he says, “and they keep their eyes open for plunder,” to snatch it, “and they prepare bread for their children,” that is, for their own children from what they have stolen. Then he determines the type of plunder saying, “They reap a field which is not their own,” for they reap the harvest of another by violence. “And they glean the vine of someone whom they overcame by force,” since they oppress someone beforehand in order to steal his goods more freely. They take away not only exterior goods by violence, but also those goods which have already been taken for warming the body, and so he then says, “They send men away naked taking away their garments,” because they leave them nothing. He adds the afflictions which they suffer from nakedness to increase the fault of theft more, and so he says, “and they have no covering in the cold.” This might be tolerable somehow if they could relieve their nakedness in some other way. Clothes are not only necessary to keep warm against the cold, but also as a protection against the rain. Thus those left naked by thieves must not only be afflicted by the cold, but also get soaked by the rain. He expresses this saying, “they are soaked by the rain of the mountains.” Men often flee to mountainous places which are more fortified from the fear of other thieves or enemies. There the rains are more frequent and severe because of the cold character of the climate, and naked men especially suffer. Moreover, there is some protection for nakedness if the one who does not have the covering of clothes at least does not the cover of a house, but against this he says, “and without any cover,” either of clothing or of a house, “they cling to the rocks,” because they hide in caves of stone which one finds in mountainous regions.

He further increases their fault from the condition of miserable people whom they burden, and so he adds, “They show their power in robbing orphans,” whom one should rather have supported, “and despoiled the poor crowd,” whom they should rather have assisted. This would be tolerable somehow if they wanted to take away things from people who at least had enough. Thus he continues increasing their evils saying, “From the naked,” those not having any clothes, “from those going about without any clothes,” who from extreme need must even go out in public naked without clothes which pertains to a great lack of clothing. To show that they suffered want in food also he says, “and from the hungry.” They cannot take away anything of great value from these men, but they are not ashamed to steal what little they have, and so he then says, “they have stolen the ears of wheat,” as if to say: They have not taken from them a harvest which they do not have but some small ears of grain which they had collected for themselves. If, perhaps, they seem to have a surplus in anything, they take that away not thinking what deep poverty they suffer in other things, and so he says, “Among these accumulations,” of fruits, “they have taken a siesta,” for they have rested at noon as though bloated on the goods of others, “and are thirsty even though they have tread the wine presses,” who immediately after the gathering of the grapes have little wine. Not only do they despoil men in exterior things, but they also injure them in their persons, and so he says, “In the cities they made men groan,” since when some men have been injured, many of the citizens ae disturbed. The very ones who have been injured wail, and so he says, “and the souls of the wounded will cry out, and God,” from whom nothing is hidden of what is done in time,” does not allow them to escape unpunished.” This would not be the case if he did not have care over human affairs.

He now shows the reason why God does not suffer this to go unpunished from the fact that they did not sin from ignorance, but from malice. As a result of this malice they hate wisdom, because it censures their sins, and so he says, “These were those who rebelled against the light,” in doing intentionally what is against what the light of reason teaches them. However, as “wisdom takes possession of those who desire her,” (Wis. 6:14) so she flees from those who resist her, and so he says, “they did not know her ways,” i.e. because they have a sense depraved by malice, they cannot recognize the actions of wisdom. Or, “They did not know,” in that they have not approved and have not wanted to try the commandments of wisdom. He shows their lack of penitence when he then says, “nor did they return along its paths.” For certainly those who return along the paths of wisdom, who although they rebelled against wisdom by sin, still come back to wisdom by repentance.

As a sign that they resist the spiritual light of wisdom he says that loving darkness they even hate exterior light, according to John, “Everyone who does evil hates the light.” (3:20) So he continues here, “At the first light of morning, the murderer rises and kills the poor and needy,” since at that hour there is usually no one about on the street, but some poor men, driven by necessity, anticipate the time for work, and thieves lie in ambush for them along the way. To show that to burglarize houses they need more darkness for this, he says, “and in the night he will be like a thief,” robbing houses, for it would not be safe for him to do this in the early hours of the morning, because then men begin to wake up. He shows the same thing to be true for the adulterer saying, “The eye of the adulterer,” who spies on the bed of another, “watches for the darkness,” so that he cannot be caught, and so he says, “saying: No one will see me,” that is, he watches in the dark so that he will not be seen by anyone. As if the cover of night were not enough for him, he employs still other methods of concealment, and so he says, “and he will cover his face,” by changing his clothes in some way. Just as he watches for darkness to begin his deed, so also he does the deed in darkness, and so he then says, “They steal through houses in the dark,” removing any obstacles by any kind of fraud and violence, “as they have agreed the day before,” the adulterer and the adulteress, “and they are ignorant of the light,” because they abandon themselves to the complete execution of the evil deed.

“If suddenly,” as though unprepared, because the time seems short to them when they are occupied in carnal pleasure, “the dawn should appear,” which is the beginning of daylight, “they think of it as the shadow of death,” that is, they think it is as hateful as the shadow of death when they see that they cannot continue their wanton activities anymore. For men are usually impeded in their acts in two ways. In one way when they do not foresee the outcome of a situation. In another way when they have a weak link in their resolve. But the adulterers, on the contrary, goaded by concupiscence, first throw themselves into dangers without consideration even though they do not know what will follow, and to make this clear he says, “And so in the darkness,” in doubtful and dark circumstances, “as though in the light,” in clear circumstances, “they walk,” proceed. Second, they put great faith in a small and frail thing, and so he says, “he,” the adulterer, “is light on the surface of the waters,” as if to say: He moves so lightly that it seems to him that he can pursue his own will as though he were sailing on calm seas. Or one can also explain the literal sense, “they walk in darkness as in light,” in that both the adulterer and the adulteress love to do their works in the dark. The phrase which he adds, “he is light on the surface of the water,” refers especially to the adulterer who believes that because of the drive of concupiscence he pass lightly even on water, i.e. over any difficulty or adversity whatsoever, to arrive at the enjoyment of the thing sought.

After describing the different kinds of sin in detail, he speaks then about their punishment. First he speaks about the punishment in the present life when he says, “Cursed be his lot on the earth.” Each one’s lot seems to be to him what he desires as the highest good. The sinner sets up his ultimate end in earthly things as his lot, according to Wisdom, “This is our portion and this is our lot.” (2:9) This lot has been cursed because the goods of this world which he uses badly turn to evil for him. He shows this clearly when he says, “nor let him walk on the road of the vineyards.” Roads in vineyards are usually shady and consequently cool. Vines even require a moderately cool place, for they are destroyed by the ice in places which are too cold, and in places which are exceedingly hot they are scorched by the heat. The evil man does not walk on the road of the vineyards because he does not use the things of this world moderately, but sometimes he goes aside to one extreme, sometimes to another, and to express this he then says, “let him pass over to great heat from freezing waters,” as though changing from one vice to a contrary vice because he does not remain in the mean of virtue. All wicked men suffer this punishment because, “the inordinate soul is a punishment unto itself,” as Augustine says in the Confessions.

He places next the punishment which will come after death when he then says, “and his sin to hell,” by which he means: His portion is not only cursed on earth when he uses the things of the world inordinately, but he will also suffer the punishments for this in hell. One can also refer these punishments to the text, “he passes to great heat from freezing waters,” because in hell there is no moderate temperature. Lest anyone believe that those punishments will end through the mercy of God, he adds, “the mercy,” of God, “let it forget him,” the sinner condemned to hell will never be freed from there. He shows what sort of punishment this is saying, “let his sweetness become a worm,” for the pleasure of the sinner will be changed for him into a worm, which is the remorse of conscience about which the last chapter of Isaiah speaks: “Their worm will not die.” (66:24) So he continues addressing the endless character of this punishment, “let him not be in remembrance,” that is, let him be so totally abandoned by God without hope of being freed, as though he had forgotten him. He makes a comparison when he says, “but let him be cut down like a tree which bears no fruit.” “For a tree which does not bear good fruit will be cut down and burned,” (3:10) as we read in Matthew, whereas a fruitful tree is clipped so that it may be pruned as John says, “He will prune every tree which bears fruit, so that it may bear more.” (15:2) Evil men are therefore punished for their extermination, just men for their perfection.

Job shows why he is compared to the tree which is barren from two things. First because he has consumed his goods in useless things, and so he says, “For he feeds the barren women who does not produce offspring and he has done no good to the widow.” The one who consumes his goods in useless things is a metaphor for someone who uselessly supports a barren wife. Second, he is compared in this way because he does not aid those in need, which could have been fruitful for him, and so he says, “and he has done no good to the widow.” By “the widow” he means all the needy. Not only has he been unfruitful, but he has also been harmful like a tree bearing poisonous fruit, and so he says, “he has thrown down the powerful man in his strength,” that is, he did not use his power to aid the oppressed, but more to oppress the powerful. The harm he has worked on others also returns to his own harm, because he cannot live in security since he fears being harmed by those he has harmed, and so he says, “and when he rises up,” i.e. when he has suffers no adversity, “he will not believe in his own life,” for he will not be free from care about his own life according to what Eliphaz said above, “The sound of terror is always in his ears, and when he is at peace, he always expects treachery. (15:21.)

He then gives the reason why the sinner must be punished without mercy, because he did not want to profit from the mercy of God when he could have, and so he says, “God gave him an occasion for penance,” in deferring punishment, and this is the reason why he was permitted to live in prosperity for a long time. But what God has offered to him as a good he perverted to an evil, and so he says, “and he abuses it in his pride,” by not attributing to the divine mercy the fact that he is not immediately punished after sinning. But he profited from this remission, daring to sin even to contempt of God. Although the sinner seeks darkness in order to sin, he still cannot prevent being seen, and so he says, “For his eyes,” of God, “are on his ways,” for they consider his courses even if he walks under the cover of darkness. Therefore, “they have been raised up a little,” to some earthly and perishable height, which God gives to them as an occasion of repentance. “And they will not stand firm,” to the very end, because they abuse the mercy of God to the point of pride. He uses an analogy for this. Everything which is generated in time grows up in a determined time and afterwards begins to decay until it is totally destroyed. So it happens with the wicked, and so he says, “They will be humbled like everything else,” which increases in time, “and will be borne away,” completely, when they have reached their peak. He establishes the analogy saying, “and like the tops of the ears of wheat they will be ground down.” For fruits of the earth are not ground down while they are in stalk and grow, but when they finally arrive at full maturity. In the same way the wicked are not punished by God immediately, but when they reach at their full stature, according to the measure forseen by God. Job introduced this to show that if evil men are not punished in time, but lead a prosperous life, this does not happen from a defect of divine providence, but from the fact that God defers punishment until the right time. So he shows clearly that what Eliphaz had calumniously accused him of about the denial of divine providence is false. So he says, “If this is not so,” as I have said earlier about the punishment of evildoers, just as you were of the opinion that man is always punished in this life for sins, “who can call me a liar,” as though I am denying divine providence, “and accuse me for putting my words before God,” that my words accused God as if they had been said against his providence.

 

CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE: THE SHORT ANSWER OF BALDATH

The Lesson:

1 Then Baldath the Shuite said in response: 2 Power and terror are with him who makes peace in his higher works. 3 Can one number his soldiers? And over whom does his light not rise? 4 Can a man be justified in comparison with God? Or who born of woman appears pure? 5 Behold! Even the moon does not shine, and the stars are not pure in his sight. 6 How much more is man corruption and the son of man a worm.

Job in his answer had now refuted the two calumnies which Eliphaz had thrown at him in his previous response. (22:5,12) He had shown that he was punished neither for sin nor for denying divine providence. He had shown very clearly that it was not repugnant to divine providence if evil men prosper in this world, because their punishment is reserved to another time. So they could not resist this argument further. But he had not demonstrated the other point so clearly that he was not punished because of his sins, but rather showed the weakness of his demonstrations when he said, “No one can know his thoughts.” (23:13) Baldath, therefore, opposed this argument now, arguing against Job because he was claiming that he was not punished because of his sins.

Seeming to ignore the words in which Job had said that it was not sufficient to argue against him based on the power of God, (23:13) he takes the beginning of his argument from divine power and proposes the greatness of divine power in two ways. First, as to the fact that God exercises his power on higher creatures, preserving them in the greatest peace, and so he says, “Power and terror,” by reason of which he ought to be feared, “are with him, (God), who makes peace in his higher works.” In lesser creatures more discord is found, as much in rational creatures, which is clear from the contrary motions of human wills, as in corporeal creatures, which appears in the contrariety through which they are subject to generation and corruption. But one finds no contrariety in superior bodies, and so they are incorruptible. In like manner the higher intellectual substances also live in supreme peace, and so they are without unhappiness. This highest concord of superior creatures proceeds from divine power, which has placed the higher creatures in a more perfect participation of his unity, as if they are nearer to him; and so he clearly says, “in his higher works,” those more conformed to him.

Second, he shows the divine power from those things he does in lower creatures in which he acts through the ministry of higher creatures, whose great number is unknown to man. So he then says, “Can one number his soldiers?” He calls soldiers of God are all of the heavenly powers which follow the divine will just as soldiers obey the command of their leader. The number of these heavenly armies is unknown to man, as Isaiah says, “He who leads out his host without number.” (40:26) Lest anyone deny that the heavenly powers regard themselves as soldiers, obeying the command of another, but are like leaders and princes who do everything from their own will, as those worshippers of many gods thought, he then says, “And over whom does his light not rise?” This is as if to say: All the heavenly powers are directed by divine illumination as men are directed by the fact that the light of the sun rises over them.

Using the premise of the divine power, he proceeds to his proposition saying, “Can a man be justified in comparison to God?” as if to say: Since God is so great and so excellent in justice that he even makes concord in the highest creatures, which is an effect of justice according to Isaiah, “The work of justice is peace.” (32:17), all justice of man compared to divine justice is reckoned as nothing. Not only can man not seem to be just compared to God, but what is more, he appears unjust compared to him. Analogously, things which have too little beauty seem ugly compared to the most beautiful things, and so he then says, “Or who born of a woman appears pure?” He emphasizes this because from the very fact that man is born of woman through the concupiscence of the flesh, he contracts some stain.

Next, he strengthens what he had said with a metaphor when he then says, “Behold! Even the moon does not shine, and the stars are not pure in his sight.” Here consider that he does not mention the sun because it is not evident to the senses that its light is obscured in the presence of a brighter light. But the moon and the stars are darkened even in the presence of the corporeal light of the sun, and so their brightness seems even more like darkness, compared to the immensity of divine light. From this he concludes his proposition, “how much more is man corruption and the son of man a worm,” for he cannot be reckoned shining with the splendor of justice if compared to the divine justice, nor clean in innocence if compared to divine purity. He expressly compares that man to corruption as consisting in matter which is close to corruption, and the son of man to a worm which is generated from putrefacation. He wants to show in this that man cannot propose his own justice and innocence, however great it may be, as it is reckoned as nothing in comparison to God, when divine justice is in question.

 

CHAPTER TWENTY SIX: THE LAST RESPONSE OF JOB

1 Job answered and said: 2 Whose helper are you? Who is then so feeble? Do you sustain the arm of anyone who is not strong? 3 To whom have you given counsel? Perhaps to someone who has not wisdom? And have you shown your very great prudence? Whom do you want to teach? Was he not the one who made the spirit? 5 Behold, giants moan under the waters and those who live with them. 6 Hell is naked before him, and there is no hiding place for perdition. 7 He stretches out the North Wind over the empty air and he hangs the earth on nothing. 8 He builds up the waters in his clouds so that the clouds do not break and fall out at the same time. 9 He keeps hidden the face of his throne and he expands his cloud over it. 10 He has circumscribed a limit on the waters at the boundary between light and darkness. 11 The pillars of heaven tremble and quake with fear at his nod. 12 In his power the seas are suddenly assembled and his prudence smote the proud. 13 His spirit has adorned the heavens, and by his hand he has played midwife and he has drawn out the coiled serpent. 14 Lo, these things have been said about a part of his ways, and when we have scarcely heard a small whisper of his speeches, who can look on the thunder of his greatness?

Baldath wanted in his last speech to convince Job by the consideration of divine power, terrible to all, in respect of which no man can make a pretense of justice, and innocence so that he asserts that he has been punished without sin. So Jobs give three answers, the first of which is specifically against Baldath, who had tried to frighten Job by the consideration of divine power.

Men who do not use reason against someone condemned, but cite the power and the wisdom of the judge. They usually do this in favor of the judge. Favor is accorded to someone for two reasons: either because of the defect of power of the one favored, or because of his lack of wisdom. As to the first he says, “Whose helper are you? Who is then so feeble?” as if to say: Have you said these things to favor God and not accord with reason as it were, and did you say this to bring help to God as though he were weak? One seems to help someone when he defends his action, and so he says, “And do you sustain the arm of someone who is not strong?” as if to say: Do you want by these words to justify the action of God by which I have been punished by him, as though he were not strong enough to justify himself?

Then, as for the favor which is shown to someone because of the defect of wisdom, we should consider that this favor is twofold. On the one hand, in that one gives counsel to someone about things to be done, and he speaks to this theme saying, “To whom have you given counsel?” Someone seems to give counsel to another when he defends his cause without reason. God, who is perfect in wisdom, does not stand in need of counsel, and so he says, “Perhaps to someone who hs not wisdom?” as if to say: Do you doubt that God has wisdom to speak so stupidly for him? One who gives counsel to a wise man seems to do this to show his own wisdom, and so he then says, “and have you shown your very great prudence?”, saying in effect: Do you want to show by this the abundance of your prudence?

The other way of favoring against the lack of wisdom is to instruct the ignorant man concerning what he must know, and as to this he says, “Whom do you want to teach?”, for you seemed to teach God when you brought his power against me, but he who is the cause of all human science does not need to be taught, and so he says, “Was he not the one who made the spirit,” who created the human soul by which man both understands and breathes? This is the one and the same soul which perceives science by intellect and gives life to the body by the other powers.

Then, lest Job seem to detract from the power of God in anything, he commends it as much more all encompassing than did Baldath, enumerating the many effects of divine power. He begins from those effects which God powerfully worked in the human race in the time of the flood. For in Genesis we read that “there were giants on the earth in those days,” (6:4) and “Because God saw that the earth was corrupt, for in fact all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth, he said to Noah, ‘The end of the all flesh has come before me.’” (6:12) Later he says, “Behold, I will bring the waters of the flood upon the earth and I will kill all flesh.” (6:17) He shows this effect of the divine power when he says, “Behold giants,” the ancient ones “moan,” in the punishments of hell, “under the waters,” who were drowned in the waters of the flood. Because not only they perished, but many others with them then and later, he continues, “and those who live with them,” moan in the same way by virtue of his power.

One should not believe that divine providence extends only to judging men in this life, and not after death, as the friends of Job seemed to think. To disprove this he then says, “Hell is naked before him,” as if to say: The things which happen in hell are clearly seen by him and happen according to his judgment. To explain this he then says, “and there is no hiding place for perdition,” so that those who have perished in hell can be hidden from the eyes of God as they are hidden from our eyes.

Then he lists the effects of divine providence in natural things, and he begins from the two extremes, from earth and heaven. In each of these something appears instituted from divine power which exceeds human strength. As far as what appears to the senses, heaven seems to be extended above the earth like a kind of tent; earth to be under heaven like the floor of the tent. Whoever sets up a tent puts something by which the tent can be supported. This does not seem to be the case with heaven. For there does not seem to be anything sustaining heaven but divine power, and so he says, “he stretches out the North Wind over the empty air.” By “North Wind” he means the upper hemisphere from our point of view. For from our point of view the North Pole is raised above the horizon, but the South Pole is depressed below the horizon, and so he says that the North Wind is extended “over the empty air,” because nothing of heaven appears to us under the upper hemisphere except space full of air, which unlettered men deem empty. He speaks according to the thinking of the common man as is the custom in Sacred Scripture. Likewise, one who lays a floor puts it on something which is firm. However, the earth, which is like the floor of heaven does not appear to have anything firm which can sustain it, but is only sustained by the power of God, and so he says, “and he hangs the earth upon nothing.” These things do not mean that heaven is of great weight and needs to be held up so that it does not fall, or as if earth can fall down to its center, but he means that the naturals power themselves by which bodies are naturally contained in their places proceeded from divine power. For as violent motion is from human force, so natural inclination of things proceeds from divine power which is the principle of nature.

Then he enumerates the effects of divine power in the middle space between heaven and earth. First, in the air, where one finds the wondrous fact that water is lifted up as vapor, is suspended in the air, and does not fall all at once, but drop by drop. One sees this in the rain, and so he says, “He binds up the waters in his thick clouds,” in clouds caused by his power, “so that the clouds do not break,” from the rainwater’s, “falling out at the same time,” but drop by drop to keep the earth at a moderate temperature. It is as though what remains in the clouds had been bound together to not fall immediately by God’s power. For by divine power vapors do not condense at the same time so that they all must fall together after they are converted into water at the same time. After rain falls from the clouds, some remnants of the vapors remain behind, from which the clouds are formed. These conceal heaven from our point of view which is like the throne of God, according to the last chapter of Isaiah, “Heaven is my throne.” (66:1) Expressing this he continues, “He keeps hidden the face of his throne,” for he holds back as though hiding the face of heaven, which is his throne. He does this by the clouds, which prohibit us from seeing heaven, and so he says, “and he expands his cloud over it,” a cloud produced by his power.

Then he shows the effect of divine power on the waters when he says, “He has circumscribed a limit on the waters”; for the waters according to the natural order of the elements should cover every place on the earth, but that some part of the earth remains uncovered by the waters is due to divine power, which has set out a boundary for the water covering the earth. This pertains particularly to the ocean, which surrounds the land everywhere, and because of this he continues, “at the boundary between light and darkness.” For the light of day and the dark of night are bounded for us by the sun rising and setting from the upper hemisphere, which is placed over the habitable land, which is enclosed everywhere by the ocean. Or this can be understood to mean that the boundary of the waters will remain unchangeable, as long as this actual state of the world remains in which there is a succession of light and darkness.

After listing the effects of the divine power on corporeal creatures he shows its effect on spiritual creatures which he calls the pillars of heaven, because their duty, in effect, is to preside over the movements of the heaven. So he says, “The pillars of heaven,” the angels, “tremble and quake with fear at his nod,” that is, they obey him at his nod, and he speaks using the metaphor of a slave obeying the nod of his master in fear and trembling, with fear referring to the soul and trembling to the body. Do not think that there is fear of punishment in the holy angels, for their fear here is called reverential for God: and so their fear refers to the affection, while trembling refers to the exterior effect.

Since among the angels there are some who fell away from the reverence due to God, about whom he had already spoken, “In his angels he found wickedness” (4:18) as a consequence, he adds a remark making a distinction between the good and evil angels. Now one must suppose that the distinction of spiritual creatures is made at the same time as the distinction of corporeal creatures, and so to suggest the distinction of spiritual creatures he begins with corporeal creation saying, “In his power the seas are suddenly assembled,” according to Genesis, “Let the waters be collected which are on the earth in one place and let dry land appear.” (1:9) Spiritual creatures are distinguished by divine power just like corporeal creatures, and so he then says, “and his prudence smote the proud,” that is, by the power of his providence, the devil who is proud has been deprived of his glory. Therefore, the spiritual gifts for the good angels were increased as he fell, and so he says, “his spirit has adorned the heavens,” that is, he has adorned the heavenly spirits with the adornment of spiritual gifts. It was not fitting that he who had fallen by the privation of his glory should remain endowed with his gifts through the Holy Spirit, and so he says, “and by his hand he has played midwife and he drew out,” from the society of the good angels, “the coiled serpent,” the devil, who is compared to a serpent because of the poison of evil, and is said to be coiled because he is clever. He clearly says he has been drawn out by the hand of God assisting at the birth, as a midwife sometimes draws a child out who is dead so that the mother is not injured. So God has drawn the devil out of the midst of the angels so that the society of the good angels may not suffer detriment in anything.

Lest anyone think that these effects, although they are great, are equal to divine power, he says, “Lo, these things have been said about his ways,” of the works by which we ascend to the knowledge of God and God communicates himself in some way to us. Lest these should seem, though not equalling the whole divine power, yet even to come close to equalling it for the most part, he says, “and when we have scarcely heard a small whisper of his speeches, who can look on the thunder of his greatness?” He means: The proportion of the things which have now been said about the effects of divine power are less than the proportion of one small word whispered quietly compared to the loudest clap of thunder.

 

CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN: JOB CONTINUES HIS ANSWER

The Lesson: The Prosperity of Evildoers is not against Divine Providence

1 Job also added to this taking up his allegory and said: 2 God lives who took away my judgment and the Almighty who made my soul bitter! 3 For while breath still exists in me and the spirit of God in my nostrils, 4 my lips will not speak evil nor my tongue practice deceit. 5 Far be it from me to judge you just; until I fall, I will not desert my innocence. 6 My justification which I in the beginning held, I will not abandon; for my heart has not accused me of anything my whole life long. 7 Just as the wicked man is my enemy, my adversary is evil, as it were. 8 What is the hope of the hypocrite if he should steal things greedily, and God not free his soul. 9 Will God hear his cry when anguish comes upon him? 10 Or will he be able find joy in the Almighty and invoke God every time? 11 I will teach you by the hand of God, what the Almighty has and I will not conceal it. 12 Behold, all of you know; why do you speak foolishness before God without proof? 13 This is the lot of the impious man and the heritage of the violent which they will receive from the Almighty. 14 If his children are multiplied, the sword will wait to kill them; and his grandchildren will hunger for bread. 15 Those others who follow him will be buried in ruin and their widows will not be lamented. 16 If he heaps up silver like earth and procures clothing like dust, 17 he truly has procured these things, but the just will wear those things and the innocent will divide his silver. 18 He has built his house like a moth; like a watchman makes a shelter. 19 He will open his eyes and he will find nothing. When the rich man goes to sleep he will take nothing with him. 20 It will overtake him like the water unexpectedly. In the night, the tempest will oppress him. 21 The blustering wind takes him away and will hear him away and like a whirlwind he is snatched from where he stands. 22 He will send someone on him and he will not spare him; and he will flee and escape his hand. 23 And a man will wring his hands over him and will sigh over him, considering his place.

In what preceded Job had successfully refuted the speech of Baldath, who had cited divine power against him, as though Job were ignorant of its greatness. When his response to Badath was finished, he understandably expected that the third of the friends, Sophar, would answer in the usual order. But since he remained silent as though he were convinced, Job takes up his speech a second time and shows through another argument that it is not against divine providence if the wicked prosper in this world and the good suffer adversities. So the text continues, “And Job also added to this,” after no one answered him, “taking up again his allegory,” because he was speaking through metaphors in the manner of those using allegories.

Before he proves his proposition, he declares that he will never change to the opinion of his friends, and to establish this he begins with an oath. So the text continues, “and he said God lives who has taken away my judgment,” namely, supposing your opinion by which you affirm that it is only from the justice of divine judgment that it brings present adversities on sinners. So to explain in what way his judgment has been taken away he then says, “and the Almighty who made my soul bitter,” who without preceding fault has brought upon me exterior adversities which caused me to suffer bitterness in soul. Nevertheless, I do not fall away from his reverence and love. The proof of this is that I swear by him

He relates this oath to what the text adds, “For while breath still exists in me,” while I have life which is conserved by breathing. To show that he recognizes that the gift of life comes from God, he then says, “and the spirit of God is in my nostrils.” For one breathes especially through the nostrils, and breathing through the mouth is not very fitting, as Aristotle says in his book, The History of Animals. So man’s breathing, which has been placed principally in the nostrils is here said to be “the spirit of God,” because man receives from God the ability to live by breathing. He does not want to show ingratitude for this gift by sinning, and so he says, “my lips will not speak evil,” in saying everyone who suffers adversities is evil, “nor will my tongue practice deceit,” in saying that it belongs to divine justice to reward the merits of the just by present prosperity and to punish the sins of the wicked by temporal adversity. Since the friends of Job has asserted opinions like this he adds, “Far be it from me to judge you just”: for he could not judge them just unless he approved of their unjust opinion, in which he would be deviating from his own justice. So he says, “until I fall,” in death, “I will not desert,” for I do not intend to desert, “my innocence.” I would desert my innocence if I with you judged the saints suffering adversity in this world to be evil. As I do not propose to change from innocence to harm, so I do not propose to desert the way of justice, and so he says, “My justification,” which pertains to the execution of justice, “which I held in the beginning,” by not approving a man for the prosperity which he has nor condemning him for the adversity which he suffers in this life, “I will not desert,” in deviating to your opinion. Those who have sinned once are usually more prone to sin a second time, but those who do not know sin slip into sin with more difficulty, and so he then says, “for my heart has not accused me of anything my whole life long,” as if to say: For that reason I am confident that I will not desert innocence nor justice because I have learned this from experience. For I do not have a remorseful conscience about any grave sin which I have done throughout my whole life. Or one can be connected in another way. Because he had said that he would not fall away from his innocence nor desert the justification which he had held in the beginning, someone could object that he had neither innocence nor justice before this. However, he disproves this when he says, “my heart has not accused me of anything and so on,” for I would fall away from innocence and I would desert justice if I were to favor you who sustain injustice and impiety. So he says, “Just as the wicked man is my enemy,” when he speaks against the truth of divine judgment, “my adversary is evil, as it were,” inasmuch as he sustains an evil opinion in opposing me, saying that I am evil because I have been gravely afflicted.

After discussing these arguments to refute his friends and strengthen his own opinion, he goes on to his principal proposition which is that it is not contrary to divine providence if the evil prosper temporally in this world and the just are afflicted temporally. He has clearly shown this above, (19:25 and 21:32) using future rewards and punishments which are reserved to the good and the evil after this life. But now he demonstrates this by the weakness of temporal goods which evildoers possess in this life and the greatness of the spiritual goods which are granted to the good. (c.28) He first maintains that it is useless for sinners if they attain temporal goods in this life without the goods of the soul, and so he says, “What is the hope of the hypocrite if he should steal things greedily,” if he should gather riches unjustly, “and God not free his soul,” from sin through the gifts of grace? What good can he attain from this? He uses the hypocrite or tactician to stand for all sinners because, “equity pretended is evil twice over.” Also, hypocrites, as falsely virtuous, appear especially reprehensible in the eyes of God. As he later says, “Tacticians and cunning men provoke the anger of God.” (36:13)

He shows as a consequence that they are deprived of hope in two ways. One of these is the hope the just have that God hears their prayer in time of need, but he excludes this by saying, “Will God hear his cry when anguish comes upon him?” He implies the answer “No.” The reason for this is found in the book of Proverbs when the voice of Wisdom says, “I have called and you refused me,” (1:24) and continues a little later, “Then,” when anguish will come upon them, “they will invoke me and I will not hear.” (1:28) Further on in the same book he says, “The prayer of the man who turns his ear away so that he does not hear the law will be accursed.” (28:9) The second hope of the just is that when they lack temporal consolation in time of trial, they enjoy delight in God and are delighted in his praise, but he excludes this from the impious man saying, “Or will he be able to find joy in the Almighty,” whom he did not love as his works prove, “and invoke God in every time?” For from great love of God some men always praise God in speech.

After he has shown the small value of the temporal goods which the evil possess without the hope of the just which the saints have, he shows as a consequence that the temporal goods which the impious sometimes possess are fragile. Before asserting what he is about to say, he begins with two things. First, what he will say accords with divine wisdom, and so he says, “I will teach you by the hand of God,” by his strength, “what the Almighty has,” fixed in his wisdom, “and I will not conceal it,” what I learned when God instructed me. Second, he shows that what he is about to say is so clear that even they cannot be ignorant of it, and so he says, “Behold all of you know,” what I am about to say is true, and so it is strange that you speak so irrationally against the plain truth. He expresses this theme saying, “and why do you speak foolishness without proof,” that is, things with no reasonable support? For men are dull when they know the premises, but usually do not perceive the conclusion which follows from them.

Consider that since God is the Creator and Governor of all things, all receive something from him like an inheritance from a father. Evil men receive from God the temporal goods of this world as their share and their inheritance, and Wisdom speaks in their name saying, “This is our portion and our lot. (17:16) Inversely, the good understand spiritual goods as their portion and inheritance, according to the Psalm, “The hopes have fallen for me on outstanding levels and my heritage is outstanding.” (15:16) When, therefore, he describes how frail and perishable is the lot of the impious which they receive in temporal things, he says, “This is the lot of the impious man before God,” i.e., such is what comes to them as a lot when spiritual goods are distributed to the good and temporal goods to them, “and the inheritance of violent men,” i.e., who unjustly acquire temporal goods, “which they will receive from the Almighty,” i.e., he is the one who permits and furnishes the power to get them, as Job has already said, “when he fills their houses with good things.” (22:18) For he shows that this share or inheritance is perishable first as to what happens for the most part to the children of evil men, which are held in great esteem among temporal goods. The sons of evil men who have prospered in this world are sometimes killed, and so he says, “If his children are multiplied,” which was held a sign of great prosperity, “the sword will wait to kill them,” i.e. they will be killed. Although it rarely happens that the sons of a rich man fall into great poverty, yet this happens frequently to their grandsons and descendants, and so he then says, “and his grandchildren will hunger for bread,” because of want. As to those other members of his household, he says, “those others who follow him,” his domestics and friends, “are will be buried in ruin,” without solemnity like people killed, and as to their wives he says, “and their widows will not be lamented,” which usually happens in solemn funerals.

As the happiness of his sons and friends is frail and perishable and the same is true of the manmade riches he possesses among these are certain artificial riches like money, which was devised as the measure of the exchange of things, as Aristotle says. As to this he says, “If he heaps up silver like dust,” that is, if he should acquire as great a supply of money as is had on earth. The same is also true for his natural riches, which provide for the natural necessity of men, like bread and wine, clothing and other things like this. As to these he says, “and has procured his clothing like dust,” so that he should have as great a supply of clothes as the dust. “Truly he has indeed procured these things,” that is, has expended care and labor in procuring them, yet another will have the fruit, and sometimes a good man who is not interested in this sort of thing. So he says, “but the just will wear those things,” clothing in his need, “and the innocent will divide his silver,” for he will distribute and give it to the poor. He will not keep it amassed in storage which would be against his innocence.

Spacious houses are also signs of earthly prosperity, but he shows these to be perishable for two reasons. First, because sometimes he builds a house for himself by violence on another’s land after he has driven out, and so he says, “he has built his house like a moth,” which procures a place for himself by knawing another’s clothing, by whom he is expelled when the clothing is shaken out. In another way he shows it because even if he builds a house on his own land, he still cannot care and possess that house for a long time, but for a short time, and so he says, “like a watchman,” of a vineyard, “makes a shelter,” which he demolishes when his time as watchman is finished. He shows how he loses the goods he had acquired when he says, “When a rich man goes to sleep,” when he dies, “he will take nothing” of his possessions with him to the other life. “He will open his eyes,” in the resurrection, “and will find nothing,” because he will not return to possess temporal goods. Sometimes even in this life he suddenly loses them in the way in which rain suddenly comes on a man, and so he says, “It will overtake him like the water,” of the rain, “unexpectedly,” because it comes suddenly upon him. Although the rain can be anticipated in the daytime in some way, yet at night it suddenly overtakes man, and so he says, “in the night the tempest” if adversity ”will oppress him,” will take him completely by surprise.

Finally, he shows the frailty of earthly prosperity as to the person himself of man, who sometimes may die from some fever or some persecution. To express this he says, “The blustering wind takes him away,” that is, will kill him with fever, “and will bear him away,” from the society of the living. This will happen suddenly and unexpectedly, and so the text continues, “and like a whirlwind he will be snatched from where he stands,” violently and without delay. Sometimes, however, he is not killed by interior weakness, but by an exterior persecutor, and so he says, “He” (God) “will send,” some persecutor,” on him,” who is more powerful than he, whom he cannot resist, “and he (the persecutor) will not spare him.” “He” (the evil man) “will flee from his hand,” from his power, “and escape,” either by flight or by death because, “after he has died, he has nothing more to do.” (Luke 12:4) Once he is dead, awe and mourning remain for his friends, and so he then says, “and a man will wring his hands over him,” as though struck with awe, “and will sigh over him” from compassion for him, “considering his place,” when they considers his former dignity.

 

CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT: JOB CONTINUES HIS DISCOURSE-IN PRAISE OF WISDOM

The First Lesson: Wisdom is not in a Determined Place

1 Silver has its origin in veins and gold a place where it is formed. 2 Iron is taken from the earth and stone released by heat, changed to bronze. 3 He placed a time for the darkness and he considers the end of the universe; and also the stone of dark and the shadow of death. 4 A torrent divides them from people traveling both those whom the step of the poor man has forgotten and those trackless. 5 The earth from which bread arose in its place has been destroyed by fire. 6 Places whose stones are sapphires, whose dust is gold. 7 This land does not know the path of the bird nor has looked upon the eye of the vulture. 8 The sons of peddlers have not trodden it; nor will the lioness cross it. 9 To the flinty rock he extends his hand; he overturns the mountains from the foothills. 10 He hollows out watercourses in the rocks and his eye has seen every precious thing. 11 He also searches fully the depths of rivers and he has brought hidden things to light.

Above Job had shown how frail and perishable is the lot which the wicked receive from God. (27:13) Now he intends to show on the contrary the dignity of the spiritual good which just men receive from God even in this world. He understands the spiritual good to be arranged under wisdom. He therefore intends to prefer wisdom to all corporeal things both as to its origin and as to its precious worth. (v.15) He begins to show that everything which seem precious in corporeal things has its origin in determined places, and begins with metals which are considered precious in the opinion of men. Note that metals are generated from the humid gases, released from the earth by the power of the sun and of the other stars and conserved in the earth. This is the origin of the pliability and the fusibility of metals, whereas, on the contrary, stones and other things like them which are not pliable or fusible are generated from the dry vapors trapped in the earth. Metals are specifically divided according to the greater or lesser purity of the vapor released and the difference of the heat of fusion. Among these gold seems to be the most pure, after this silver, and after this bronze, and finally iron. Metals have as many different origins as possible according to their greater or lesser purity. Because gold is most pure, it is generally found generated in its purity in the sand of rivers because of the great evaporation and the warmth of the sand. Silver is found generally in certain veins, either in the earth or also in rocks. Bronze is found incorporated into rocks. One finds iron in muddy earth which has not yet been perfectly integrated so that it has not yet arrived at the generation of a stone. In commenting on the various locations of the metals he says, “Silver has its origins in veins,” in certain determined places, from which such gases are released which are apt for the generation of silver. Thus as soon as these vapors are mixed with either earth or stone, veins of silver are produced there. As to gold he then says, “and for gold there is a place in which it is refined,” because some nuggets of gold are collected from a great quantity of sand which are melted into one mass. This does not happen in every place, but only in some determined place where a due proportion of active power coincides with the matter proportionate to such a species. As to iron he says, “Iron is taken from the earth,” because it is found in the earth not yet refined, as it were. As to bronze he says, “and stone,” with which one finds a gas proportioned to its nature is mixed, “released by heat,” of great intensity, “changed to bronze,” when what is found there of the nature of bronze is made aqueous by the heat of fire.

He then proceeds to examine other things which have a determined time and place from divine disposition and so are subject to divine knowledge. The greater part of these are hidden from men. The darkness of night hides the sun and many other things from us, but this happens by divine disposition, and so he says, “He placed a time for the darkness.” Also, some things are hidden from us by their corruption when they are resolved into their principles, which are known to God but hidden from us, and so he says, “and he considers the end of the universe,” the end of the resolution of things. Some are also found to be hidden from men because of the inaccessibility of place, for example, some mountains are sometimes inaccessible on which there are things which are removed from human sight, and expressing this he says, “and also the stone of the dark,” which is the cliff of some high mountain always covered over by clouds like darkness, “and the shadow of death,” some shadowy place in the canyons of the mountains which the life giving heat of the sun never touches. “A torrent divides them from people traveling.” For torrents often flow down in the foothills of certain mountains which cannot be crossed so that on one bank of the river is the road for travelers to pass, and there is no access to the other bank. Sometimes it happens that there are some men who live here and there in such inaccessible places like these. Even the beggars who go everywhere do not presume to go to these places because of the difficulty of the approach, and so he says, “and,” the torrent divides from the people traveling, “those,” men, “whom” living in inaccessible places, “the step of the poor man has forgotten,” so that they do not go there, “and those trackless,” because there is no road open to them.

There are also some places which are inaccessible, not because of their location, but because of something extraordinary happening, for example, because they are ruined by some physical change, like Sodom and Gomorrah, (Gen. 19:24) and so he says, “The earth from which bread arose in its place, (as proper and fitting) has been destroyed by fire,” for the cause of its destruction proceeds from a very great heat. When there is a great abundance of heat, the resolutions both of the dry and wet attain a great degree of integration, which generates certain precious things like rocks or metals from them. So as to the precious stones which are formed from dry evaporation, he says, “Places whose stones are sapphires,” in the land ruined by fire. As to precious metals which are generated from humid evaporation he says, “whose dust is gold.” Because these places release a harmful air from the abundance of sulphur, not only men, but also brute animals avoid these places. First as to the birds concerning which there is less reflection he says, “Land,” that kind of earth, “does not know the path of the bird,” namely, it does not dare to fly over it, nor even to approach it, because of the harmful air. Thus he says, “nor has looked on,” it ”, the eye of the vulture,” who can normally see things from far away. Or one can interpret the text in another way. This land “has not known the path of a bird.” The bird has no experience of that land, because the bird does pass through it, “nor has he” anyone, “in that land,” looked upon the “eye of the vulture.” Next he treats of men saying, “The sons of peddlers have not trodden it,” (the merchants who are used to go to places that are hard to reach for profit). Then he treats of the four-footed animals saying, “nor will the lioness,” who lives in wild places, “cross it.”

Although these places are hidden from men, they are still not hidden from God who exercises his power in both the mountains and the rivers, and so he says, “To the flinty rock,” the mountains made of rock, “he extends his hand,” his power. He demonstrates this in two effects. First, by the fact that the mountains are sometimes completely leveled to the ground, and he expresses this by saying, “he overturns the mountains from their foothills.” Second is the fact that “waters cross through the middle of the mountains,” (cf. Ps. 103:10) as though there were a way hewn for them by divine power through the rocks, and so he says, “He hollows out watercourses in the rocks,” in the courses of streams. Just as his power extends to do all splendid deeds, so his wisdom is extended to know every precious thing, and so he says, “his eye has seen every precious thing.” For if he can lay the mountains low, if he can cut through rocks and exercise the same power over all the earth, he consequently can see the precious things which are hidden there although the eye of man cannot see them. His eye not only sees those things which lie hidden in the earth, but “he also searches fully the depths of rivers,” i.e., he knows what lies hidden in the depths of rivers so perfectly he seems to carefully inspect them, and the sign of this is that, “he has brought hidden things to light,” to reveal them to men.

The Second Lesson: Where Wisdom is Found

But where is wisdom found and what is the place of understanding? 13 No man knows its price, nor is it found among soft-living men. 14 The deep says: It is not in me; and the sea says: it is not in me. 15 The gold of Ophir cannot be traded for it, nor will one give its weight in silver in exchange. 16 She cannot be compared with the sparkling color of India; nor with the most precious sardonyx and sapphire. 17 Nor will gold equal her, nor glass nor will vessels of gold be exchanged for her. 18 Though they are lofty and exquisite, none are thought anything in comparison with her, for wisdom has its source in hidden things. 19 The topaz of Ethiopia will not equal her, nor are the most elegant dyed things comparable to her. 20 Where, then, is the origin of wisdom and the place of understanding? 21 She is hidden from the eyes of all the living and she is concealed from the birds of the air. 22 Ruin and death have said: We have heard of her fame with out ears. 23 God understands the way to her and he knows where wisdom is found. 24 He sees the ends of the earth and he sees everything under heaven. 25 He gave the winds their strength and the waters he holds suspended in measure, 26 when he made a law for the rains and the way for the storms which roar. 27 Then he saw her, he made her known, he prepared, he inquired 28 and said to man: Behold, the fear of the Lord is wisdom and to withdraw from evil, understanding.

Since he had shown that all the precious things found in corporeal bodies are contained in determined places, which though they are unknown to men are still known to God, he shows the eminence of wisdom by first introducing the fact that it is not contained in a determined place, and so he says, “But where is wisdom found?” This is as if he says: Wisdom is shut up in no corporeal place because it is not something corporeal. However, not only precious things themselves in corporeal bodies, but also their sources are shut up in corporeal places. But one cannot say this about wisdom, and so he says, “and what is the place of understanding?” For understanding is the source of knowledge and wisdom. Just as wisdom then is not shut up in a place, so neither is understanding which is its principle. Second, he shows the dignity of wisdom, because the price of wisdom cannot be reckoned, and so he says, “No man knows its price,” for there is no thing known to man which is a sufficient price for wisdom.

He clearly shows the consequence of both these premises. First, he had said that wisdom was not found in a determined place. Those things which are esteemed as valuable among men are partly found among refined men, who strive to collect precious stones and metals, and so he says, “Nor is it found among soft-living men,” that is, refined men, because they are especially impeded from the perception of wisdom since their hearts are preoccupied with pleasures. Such valuable kinds of corporeal things are partly found in some dark places, but this is not true with wisdom, and so he says, “The deep says: It is not in me,” that is, what lies in the hidden placed of the depths is especially hidden from human wisdom. They are partly found in the sea, both because they are generated there, like pearls in sea shells, or because they are lost there in sunken ships, but this is not true with wisdom. This is also so because valuable things are usually transported by sea from place to place, and so he says, “And the sea says, ‘it is not with me.’” On the contrary, things in the sea are often completely hidden from human wisdom.

Next he explains what he had said about the fact that wisdom has no price, and he enumerates those things which are thought most valuable among men, saying, “The gold of Ophir,” that is, the most pure gold, “will not be traded for it,” because the price of wisdom cannot be valued in any amount of gold. After gold, silver is esteemed the most precious among other metals, and so he continues speaking about it, “nor can one give its weight in silver for exchange.” Besides these metals there are some very precious stones of different colors which are especially cultivated in India, he then says about these, “She (wisdom) cannot be compared with the sparkling colors of India,” i.e. the precious stones of diverse colors naturally tinted in India. He continues with precious stones found also in other lands, and so he says, “nor with the most precious sardonyx,” which “is composed of two stones,” from carnelian, which is red in color “lighting the soul up with joy and inciting cleverness of spirit,” and of onyx, which is joined to it as having some harmful powers, like “exciting sorrows and fear.” This harm is restrained by the carnelian. So it is said to have the property of “expelling lust and rendering a man pure and chaste.” So it is called a very precious stone. He then adds, “and sapphire,” which is the color of heaven, and is valuable because it has many powers. There are still other very precious stones (since the values of these stones are not the same in all places and times), and so he does not refer to them. He then speaks about things which have a value because of their beauty saying, “Nor will gold equal her,” which has beauty from splendor, “nor glass,” which has beauty from its transparency, although it is not distinguished by its high price. He then speaks about the beauty by reason of craftsmanship when he says, “nor will vessels of gold be exchanged for her, which are lofty” in size “and also exquisite,” in composition. Just as they cannot be exchanged for wisdom, so also all these things are accounted as nothing in comparison to wisdom, and so he then says, “none are thought anything in comparison to her,” because they are not even worth remembering when one mentions the excellence of wisdom.

Because he had said that some corporeal things were precious because they were hidden from us, he consequently shows that wisdom does not lack even this value when he says, “Wisdom has its source in hidden things.” For the origin of human wisdom is hidden in two ways. In one way on the part of the light of the intellect, which is derived in us from the most hidden cause of all, God. In another way on the part of things known. Wisdom seeks the hidden properties and essences of these things, and by these ascends to the knowledge of divine matters, which is especially characteristic of wisdom. Thus he concludes that nothing can be compared to wisdom either by reason of value or by reason of concealment not even in the case of precious stones, and so he then says, “The topaz of Ethiopia will not equal it,” which “takes its name from the place of its discovery, or because it has a resemblance in color to gold.” As to costly garments he then says, “nor are the most elegant dyed things,” any sort of silk or wool cloth, “comparable to her,” to wisdom.

Therefore, since he had said that wisdom is so incomparable and has a hidden origin, he inquires where the source of wisdom lies, saying, “Where, then, is the origin of wisdom?” where does it come from? “And where is the place of understanding,” from what source do men participate in the light of understanding? He shows this source excels all human cognition, and so he then says, “She is hidden from the eyes of all the living,” because, “the fount of wisdom is the word of God on high.” (Qoheleth 1:5) There have been some augurs of omens who believed that certain birds of prophecy participated in a certain effect of wisdom over men, and in as much as they believed men could know the future of the future from them. But he shows that wisdom exceeds this soothsaying saying, “and she is concealed also from the birds of the air.” Therefore the origin of wisdom exceeds the heavenly bodies which move these birds. There are also some who seek the knowledge of the future from the dead, but not even this attains the origin of wisdom, and so he then says, “Ruin and death said: We have heard of her fame with our ears.” He rightly attributes the fame of wisdom to death and ruin, because ruin and death imply the end and withdrawing from the goods which attain wisdom. Nevertheless, the three things already discussed can be metaphorically referred to the three kinds of rational creature. Thus when he says, “She is hidden from the eyes of all the living,” he refers to men; when he adds, “she is concealed from the birds of heaven,” he refers to the angels. When he further continues, “Ruin and death said: ‘We have heard of his fame with our ears,’” he refers to the demons who are separated from God by damnation, in that they have knowledge of divine wisdom only by its reputation from afar.

To show the root of wisdom he then says, “God understands the way to her,” the whole process of wisdom, since he himself is both the origin of wisdom and the “place of understanding.” (v.20) Because God knows himself perfectly, he then says, “and he knows where wisdom is found,” that is, he knows himself in whom wisdom is perfectly found as in its first origin. Wisdom proceeds from him in all creatures which are made by the wisdom of God, as art proceeds from the mind of the artist in his work, and so Sirach says, “God showers wisdom on all his works.” (Sirach 1:10) Thus the very universe of creatures is like the secondary place of wisdom. So to show that God knows the place of wisdom, he continues saying that he knows the universe of creatures. First he shows this as to the most elevated creatures under which all things are contained, and so he then says, “He sees the ends of the earth,” which are the most excellent creatures in which the order of creatures terminates in ascending from lower creatures, and these are heavenly bodies and the heavenly spirits. Then he shows this as to the other creatures contained under them, like the elements, and so he then says, “and he sees everything which is under the heaven.”

Lest anyone believe that God receives knowledge taken from things like we do, he shows, consequently, that he knows things as the cause of everything. He therefore continues as to the hidden creatures like the winds and the rains, “he gave the winds their strength,” for he gave them their inclination of motion so that sometimes they move in this direction and sometimes in that. Then he speaks about the rains, first that and raised to become clouds in vapor, and so he then says, “and the waters,” subject to evaporation”, he holds suspended,” in the air, “in measure,” so that they do not overflow and flood everything if they were to overflow, or if they decrease unduly, make everything dry out. Next he speaks about the very generation of the rains when he says, “when he made a law for the rains,” to come down at certain times and in certain places. Third he speaks about their effect, especially in the sea which is disturbed by atmospheric changes, and so he continues, “and” he was setting, “the way for the storm,” the waves, “which roar,” from great agitation, because even storms of this kind arise at certain times and in a certain intensity.

Because God does not acquire wisdom from creatures themselves as we do, but rather he produces creatures according to his wisdom, he therefore continues, “Then,” when he was making creatures, “he saw her,” wisdom, in himself, insofar as he produces things in their being through the actual considerations of his wisdom. Wisdom was derived from him first to the angels who were made participants in the divine wisdom, and expressing this he says, “he made her known,” manifesting his wisdom to them. Second, to the universe of creatures by governing it through his wisdom, and he expresses this theme saying, “and he prepared” the rotation of the land in his wisdom. Third, to men who do not perceive the wisdom of truth by simple apprehension, as the angels do to whom it is made known, but arrive at it by the investigation of reason, and so he says, “he inquired,” i.e. he made men investigate her. He expresses this as he continues, “and he said to man,” namely, by illuminating himself and by communicating wisdom to him through interior inspiration: “Behold the fear of the Lord,” which I am giving to you by presence, “is wisdom,” because man clings to God through the fear of the Lord in whom is the true wisdom of men as in the highest cause of all things. “And to withdraw from evil,” that is, from sin in which man loses God, “understanding,” because understanding is especially necessary so that through understanding he may discern evil things from good ones. When he has avoided these evil things through the execution of good works, he attains the participation of divine wisdom. Thus because “The fear of the Lord is wisdom; and to withdraw from evil, understanding,” the consequence is that the just who fear God and withdraw from evil have wisdom and understanding, which are preferred to all the earthly goods which evil men possess. So it is clear that the reasonability of divine providence is saved in the fact that spiritual goods are given to the just as better goods and temporal goods are given to the wicked as transitory.

 

CHAPTER TWENTY NINE: JOB CONTINUES RECALLING THE PAST

The Lesson: The Happy Days of Job

1 Job again took up his comparison and said: 2 Who grants that I might be as in the months of old? As in the days when the Lord watched over me, 3 when his lamp shone over my head and in his light I was walking in darkness, 4 as I was in the days of my youth. When God lived in my tent in private, 5 when the Almighty was with me and my sons round about me; 6 when I washed my feet in butter and the rock poured out rivers of oil for me; 7 when I went to the gate of the city and in the street they placed a judgment seat for me. 8 The young men saw me and hid themselves, and the aged rose and stood. 9 The city elders refrained from talking and they put their fingers over their mouths. 10 Generals governed their tongues and their tongues cleaved to the roof of their mouths. 11 The ear which heard, blessed me and the eye which saw, rendered testimony for me, 12 because I freed the poor man who cried out and the orphan who had none to help him. 13 The blessing of the man perishing came upon me, and I consoled the heart of the widow. 14 I have been clothed in justice and I have clothed myself like a garment and my judgment was like a diadem for me. 15 I was the eye for the blind and a foot for the lame. 16 I was a father to the poor and the case of which I was ignorant, I diligently investigated. 17 I broke the jaws of the impious and I tore his prey from his teeth. 18 I said: I will die in my little nest and like a palm tree, I will multiply my days. 19 My root is open near the water, and dew will remain on my harvest. 20 My glory always will be renewed, and my bow will be restored to my hand. 21 Those who heard me, awaited the judgment, and kept silence attentive to my counsels. 22 They dared add nothing to my words, and my eloquence fell on them drop by drop. 23 They waited for me like the rain, and their mouths were opened as to the evening shower. 24 If ever I laughed at them, they did not believe; and the light of my countenance was not cast down to the ground. 25 If I wished to go to them, I used to sit in the first place; and when I used to sit like a king surrounded by his army, I was still a consoler for those who mourn.

Since in what preceded Job had shown in the universal why it is evident that it is not against divine justice that the evil prosper and the good to whom greater spiritual things are given sometimes suffer want of temporal prosperity in this world, and he shows this now more clearly in his own caseusing himself as an example. He intends by this also to refute their opinion when they asserted that he was suffering adversities for sin. First he calls to mind his past prosperity which he used virtuously; then the greatness of the adversity into which he had fallen, (c.30) and finally he demonstrates his innocence in many ways. (c.31)

He seems to have satisfactorily answered the argument of Baldath (c.26) he proceeded to demonstrate his proposition. So after he had declared his intention since Sophar remained silent, (c.27), he waited for one of the others to speak. Since everyone was silent, he resumed his speech again, and so the text says, “Job again took up his comparison,” because he was about to speak using metaphor. “And said: Who grants me,” a question which is posed to show a wish more than to formulate a petition, “that I might be as in the months of old,” and live in prosperity as I did once? Since he did not attribute this prosperity to either fortune or his own strength, but to divine aid, he continues, “As in the days when the Lord watched over me,” protecting me against adverse things and also directing me to good things. In some things he had led me to good effects even beyond my own intention, and to express this he says, “when his lamp,” his providence, “shown over my head,” for he directed my mind toward many good things which my mind did not attain. In certain respects, however, he was directed by God as though instructed by him about what he ought to do, so he then says, “in his light,” by his instruction, “I was walking,” I was proceeding, “in darkness,” in doubts. To answer the objection that this is due to him from the merit of past justice, he adds, “as I was in the days of my youth,” when I as yet could not have merited such great prosperity.

Then he explains the goods of his past state one by one, and begins from the most excellent one, the divine intimacy which he knew in his prayer and contemplation. So he says, “When God lived in my tent in private,” that is, I felt the presence of God as long as I was praying and meditating in private in my tent, which is characteristic of contemplation. As to action he continues, “when the Almighty was with me,” as though cooperating with me in doing good. Then he describes his prosperity as to his posterity when he says, “and my boys were round about me.” For in fact the sons of a young father must be boys. Further he continues on to the abundance of things which concern the enjoyment of life when he says, “when I washed my feet in butter.” Among the ancients, riches consisted primarily in cattle, (pecus) from which money (pecunia) takes its name, according to Augustine. Among cattle products the most precious seems to be butter, which is the fat of the milk. He metaphorically shows his affluence in this through washing of the feet, like someone who said he had such a surplus supply of some precious liquid that he washed his feet in it. As butter is most valuable among animal products, so oil is prized among the products of the earth. The olives trees which usually have the best oil generally grow in stony and sandy places, and so he says, “and the rock poured out rivers of oil for me,” where he shows the abundance and the goodness of the fruit.

Then he explains the grandeur of his past glory when he says, “When I went to the gate of the city.” This tells us he had judicial authority, because among the ancients, judgments were rendered at the gates. To show that he was not one of the petty judges, he then says, “and in the street they placed a judgment seat for me.” By this he is shown to have had a unique dignity. He shows consequently the authority of his judgment, first by the attitude taken by the young men when he says, “the young men” who are often prone to sin, “saw me and hid themselves,” as though they dreaded my judgment. Second as to the old he says, “The aged rose and stood,” for they were subject to my judgment. He had authority to judge not only youths, but old men. Third the governors of the city showed respect for his judgment, first because they broke off a conversation already begun when he wished to speak, and so he says, “The city elders refrained from talking.” Second because they did not dare to interrupt him while he was speaking, and so he says, “and they put their fingers to their mouths.” Fourth, the generals of wars who are usually more audacious and more prompt to speak, still did not dare to speak presumptuously and boisterously in his presence. So he says, “Generals governed their tongues,” speaking plainly and humbly. Sometimes they were so awestruck that they did not dare to speak at all, and so he says, “and their tongues cleaved to the roof of their mouths,” and made them incapable of speech.

Since men of such stern authority are usually feared rather than loved by the people, he shows that the people loved him. Since the mark of the magnanimous man is that he can guard his authority toward the great and yet stoop to the lesser men, he then says, “The ear which heard,” from others when my glory and my judgment were proclaimed, did not hate or envy me, but “blessed me,” thought me happy and desired happiness for me. This expresses the attitude of those not present. As for those present he says, “and the eye which saw,” my glory and judgment “rendered testimony for me,” about my virtue to others. This is because of the works of mercy which I was doing. He shows this first regarding the poor, and so he says, “because I freed,” from the hand of the oppressor, “the poor man who cried out,” who loudly complained. Second, as to orphans, and so he says, “and the orphan who had none to help him,” because he had lost his father. Third as to men who live in dangers, and so he says, “The blessing of the man perishing came upon me,” that is, the man who had been helped by me in dangers, blessed me. Fourth as to widows, and so he says, “and I have consoled the heart of the widow,” because she had lost the consolation of a husband.

But he did not have mercy in judgment in such wise as to forsake justice, and so he adds, “I have been clothed in justice,” i.e. justice was apparent everywhere in my trials: For a piece of clothing surrounds a man on all sides. To show that he was not coerced to do justice, but did so freely, he then says, “and I have clothed myself,” by my own will, putting on justice “like a garment” protecting and adorning me all over. Just as in combat a crown is given to the victors, so also the judge when he gives victory to justice in his judgment merits a crown, and so he continues, “and my judgment was like a diadem for me,” as if to say: I am invested with my judgment like a diadem. To show how he could preserve mercy together with justice he says, “I was an eye for the blind,” for I instructed simple men how to proceed in their business and not suffer detriment due to ignorance. Because not only did he give counsel to the ignorant, but also help to the powerless, he says, “and a foot to the lame,” for I gave aid to the man who could not prosper in his business that he might prosper. He also cared for those who were defenseless, and so he says, “I was a father to the poor,” for I protected and supported them. Sometimes there are those who wound the poor, the powerless, and the simple calumniously by fraud. He shows a diligent interest to against the calumnious process of evil men, and so he says, “And the case of which I was ignorant, I diligently investigated,” so that there would lie no fraud hidden there. Some oppress the poor by violence, and devour them so to speak by robbing from them. Job destroyed the violence of men like this with his power, and so he continues, “I broke the jaws of the impious,” because I destroyed the greed of violence so they could not rob again,” and I tore his prey from his teeth,” because he compelled them to restore what they had already taken in theft.

Because of all these good works, he was confident that his prosperity would endure. He describes the continuity of his prosperity first in his own person, and so he says, “And I said, ‘I will die in my little nest,’” because I hoped from my past merits that I would quietly die in my house, not exiled from my house, nor even in a troubled house. Nor yet did he believe that he should worry about a timely death, and so he says, “like a palm tree,” which lives a very long time, “I will multiply my days,” in the great length of my life. Second he describes the continuity of his prosperity as to riches, and he describes their increase saying, “My root is open out near the water.” For trees which have roots near the waters often produce an abundance of fruit. So by this expression he refers to the increase of temporal fruits. The fruits of a man happen sometimes to increase, but because of some impediments preventing him, he is unable to harvest them, and to exclude this he says, “and dew will remain in my harvest.” For in hot countries the harvesters cannot work in a field to harvest, because of the stifling character of the summer, but a cloud of dew gives them coolness so that they are not impeded from the harvest as Isaiah said, “Like a cloud of dew on the days of the harvest.” (18:4) Third, he describes the enduring character of his reputation saying, “my glory always will be renewed,” by good works which he proposed to multiply. Fourth, he describes the endurance of his power saying, “and my bow will be restored in my hand.” “Bow” here means power, for Eastern people use such weapons in wars.

As in what precedes he has described both the severity (vv.8-10) and the mercy (vv. 11-16) which he showed in judgment, he shows now in the third how he also used wisdom. First, he used wisdom in judgments, and expressing this he says, “Those who heard me,” because they were subject to my judgment, “awaited the judgment,” namely mine, believing that they would hear something very wise. As to counsel he says, “and kept silence, attentive to my counsels,” waiting for him and listening eagerly. After I had given them my counsel, they were happy with it, and so he says, “They dared to add nothing to my words,” because of the great wisdom which they valued. Not only did they firmly keep my counsel, but they were also consoled in it, perceiving it to be efficacious to attain their proposed end, and so he says, “and my eloquence fell on them drop by drop,” i.e., it cooled them like drops of water.

After he had described what sort of person he was in judgments and counsels, he shows, as a consequence, what sort of person he was in ordinary associations with men. First he shows that he was gracious, because when he was absent they missed his presence, and so he says, “They waited for me like the rain,” which refreshes men. When he was present they were consoled by the sight of him and his words, and so he says, “and their mouths,” their hearts, “were opened,” toward me to receive encouragement, and he expresses this saying, “as to the evening shower,” which give refreshment after the heat of the day. Second, he shows that he was moderate in his conversation, and not dissipated by joy, and so he says, “If I ever laughed at them,” showing some signs of joy, “they did not believe,” that I have surrendered myself to laughter. Likewise, he was not depressed by sorrow, and so he says, “and the light of my countenance was not cast down to the ground.” For men depressed by mourning usually cast their eyes down to the ground. Third, he shows that he was not immoderate in honors, because he did not even desire them, and so he says, “If I wished to go to them,” which I did not do easily, “I used to sit in the first place,” for I was honored among them. Nevertheless, he did not become arrogant in honors, and so he says, “and when I used to sit like a king surrounded by his army,” with all admiring me from here and there, “I was still a consoler for those who mourned,” and did not hold them in contempt.

 

CHAPTER THIRTY: THE DISCOURSE OF JOB CONTINUES

The Lesson: His Present Distress

1 But now, men younger in age I make sport of me. The fathers of those men were unworthy to guard the dogs of my flock, 2 whose strength of hands held nothing for me, and they were not accounted worthy of life itself. 3 In want and hunger they are sterile; they gnawed in desolate places, filthy with loss and misery, 4 and they are grass and the bark of trees and the root of junipers was their food. 5 They uproot these things from the enclosed valleys, when they had found each of them they ran to them shouting; 6 they lived in desert stream beds and in the caverns of the earth or in gravel. 7 They were happy in places like this, and they live under briars they think voluptuous. 8 The sons of fools and of disreputable men and not known on earth at all. 9 Now I have been turned into a verse in their songs, and I have become a proverb for them. 10 They abhor me and they flee from me. They are not afraid to spit in my face. 11 He opened up his quiver and struck me down and he placed a bridle in my mouth. 12 At the right hand of the dawn, my misfortunes immediately arose. They have ruined my feet and they crushed them in their byways like waves. 13 They have demolished my routes; they have lain in ambushes for me and they prevailed, and there was no one who brought aid. 14 They rushed in upon me like a breached wall or an open gate and they rushed in on my mishaps. 15 I have been reduced to nothing; like the wind he took away my desire, and like a cloud my health vanished. 16 Now my soul droops within me and days of pain take possession of me. 17 At night, pain tears my bones and those who consumed me do not sleep. 18 My clothing is consumed by their great numbers and they encircle me like a cowl on my tunic. 19 I have been made equal to filth and I have become like dust and ashes. 20 I will call to you and you will not hear me, I stand and you do not notice me. 21 You have changed into someone cruel in my opinion and you persecute me with a heavy hand. 22 You raised me up, placing me almost above the wind and you powerfully dashed me to pieces. 23 I know that you will hand me over to death where the house of every living thing has been built. 24 Yet not for their destruction do you send forth your hand and if they are corrupted, you save them. 25 I once wept over him who was afflicted and my soul had compassion on the poor. 26 I expected good things and evil things came to me. I waited for the light and darkness rushed in. 27 My bones are inflamed without any rest, and days of affliction came upon me. 28 I walked along grieving; rising up without fury. I cried out in the crowd 29 I was the brother to snakes and the companion of ostriches. 30 My skin turned black on me and my bones dried out from the heat. 31 My lyre was turned to mourning and my tongue to the voice of those who weep.

After he had listed the many prosperous things which he had enjoyed in times past, he here lists the adversities which he was then suffering. First, in contrast to his former glory and reverence, he shows that he is held in contempt now. Contempt is more difficult for a person to bear in proportion to the lack of worth of the character of the one who holds another in contempt. So he shows that those who hold him in contempt are contemptible in many ways. First, as to time, and so he says, “But now men younger in age I am make sport of me,” and this is the parallel contrary to what he said in the last chapter, “Young men saw me and hid themselves, and the aged rose and stood.” (29:8) Second, from mean origin, and so he then says, “the fathers of those men were not worthy to guard the dogs of my flock,” for I did not consider them worthy enough to assume the most ordinary services of my household, for example, taking care of the dogs. This is the parallel contrary to what he said already, “the city elders refrained from talking.” (29:9) Third, as to their meanness of power. So he says, “whose strength of hands,” either the detractors or even their fathers, “held nothing,” for I regarded all their power as worth nothing. This is contrary to what he said already, “generals governed their tongues.” (29:10) Fourth, as to their lack of honor, and so he says, “and they were not accounted worthy of life itself,” because of their numerous grave sins. This is the contrary to the parallel statement he made, “The ear which heard, blessed me.” (29:11) Fifth, as to poverty he continues, “in want,” from lack of possessions, “and hunger,” as to the affliction which attends want, “they are sterile,” for they are not capable of producing fruit. This is the contrary to the statement he made already, “The rock poured out rivers of oil for me.” (29:6) Sixth, he shows this as to the the difficult life they led when he says, “They gnawed in desolate places,” for they consumed plain foods which they searched for in deserts, like acorns and other things of this sort, because they did not have the fruits of the fields, from their want. The effect of this food is that they are, “filthy,” disfigured, “with loss,” from the affliction of their own body, “and misery,” from their exterior adversities. He explains, consequently, what they gnaw when he continues, “and they ate grass,” wild and raw, “and the bark of trees and the root of the junipers was their food.” Here he shows how crude and cheap their food was. He consequently shows that they did not have an abundance of even such cheap food as this, and that they find it with great effort. He expresses this in the next verse, “They uproot these things from enclosed valleys,” for they gather them with great difficulty because of the climb down and the climb up. He shows they gather this in small quantity when he says, “when they have found each of them,” they contend over this vile food. He expresses this saying, “they ran to them shouting,” so one can arrive before the other. All these things parallel by way of opposition what he had said above, “I washed my feet in butter.” Seventh, he shows the vile character of their dwellings, because they do not have houses to live in saying, “they live in desert stream beds,” which are the dry stream beds caused by storms where they protected themselves from the heat, “and in the caverns of the earth,” because of the shade, “or in gravel,” because of the cool of the nearby water or because of the softness of the sand. It even seemed pleasant to them when they could find such places to live, and so he says, “they are happy in places like this,” as though even they did not have an abundance of these sorts of places. If at times they happen to find more comfortable places, they reckoned this as voluptuous, and so he then says, “and to live under briars,” in the shade of small trees, “they think voluptuous,” because such a place was more comfortable to lie in than the one they had before. This seems to answer by opposition what he had said before, “I will die in my little nest.” (29:18) After enumerating their miseries one by one, as an epilogue he summarizes what he has said then saying, “The sons of fools,” in mind, “and of disreputable men,” in birth, “and not known on earth at all,” conspicuous for no dignity or glory.

As a consequence he shows what Job had suffered from them, and first he shows that he was derided by them by mouth both in their jokes, so he says, “Now I have been turned into a verse in their songs, “because they made up mocking lampoons about him. They also derided him in serious things, and he continues expressing this, “and I have become a proverb for them,” because they commonly used the misfortunes of Job like proverbs, giving him as an example of fault and unhappiness. Second, he shows how they held him in contempt in their heart when he then says, “They abhor me,” as vile and unclean. Third, he shows how they held him in contempt in deed, first insofar as they bristled in his presence, and so he continues, “and they fled far from me.” He says this in opposition to his previous statement, “They awaited me like the rain.” (29:23) Second, they proposed injuries against him; “and they were not afraid to spit in my face,” as a sign of insult and scorn. Lest one think that he came into scorn because of some fault he had committed, he shows the cause of this contempt from the part of God who struck him. He shows first that he is afflicted by God when he says, “He opened up his quiver and struck me down.” Arrows are taken out of a quiver which some use to wound someone. Arrows here mean divine scourges from God because this is the way he uses them in Chapter Six, “The arrows fo the Lord stick fast in me, and their displeasure drains my spirit.” (v.4) So the quiver of the Lord is the divine disposition from which adversities come to men, which he tells us has been opened, because of the abundance of adversities by which he says he has been tried both exteriorly and interiorly. Second, he asserts that God has hindered him from being able to repel his injuries at least in word. So he then says, “and he placed a bridle in my mouth,” because God’s scourge took away his confidence in answering, when others took their arguments against him from those very scourges.

He next shows that such adversities have been sent to him by God from the fact that they came to him beyond the usual manner of human adversities. He first demonstrates this from the place where the adversities came. For raids usually arise especially in those countries from the North, where barbarous nations and men who were very ferocious and warlike lived, as we read in Jeremiah, “all evil spreads from the north.” (1:14) But those who assaulted blessed Job came from the South where men who are less warlike and ferocious usually live. For the text has already said that his adversity began when the Sabeans took his cattle and asses and killed his herdsmen, (1:15) and so he says, “At the right hand of the East,” from the South, which is the right hand side respecting the East, because if someone faces East, the South will be on his right. “My misfortunes immediately arose,” because they began immediately when the Sabeans rushed in.

Second, he shows that his adversities are beyond the common expectation as to the magnitude of the assault. For he was assaulted even respecting the loss of goods which give him the ability to work. This is represented by the feet, and so he says, “They have ruined my feet,” for they destroyed my faculties, and they did this easily and completely. So he says, “and they crushed them,” my feet just mentioned, “in their byways,” in their passing without any difficulty. He adds another example when he says, “like waves,” for the waves of the sea both suddenly overflow the land or a ship and completely submerge it. Since his feet (his faculties) have been ruined, the consequence is that his progress is also impeded, and so here the text continues, “They have demolished my routes,” all the progress of my works. Further they also crushed me in person with deceit, which he intimates when he continues, “they have lain in ambushes for me,” and with power, in what he adds, “and they prevailed,” without any objection, because no one obstructed them in doing it. So he then says, “and there was no one who brought aid,” to me when I was oppressed by them, nor even someone who obstructed them from approaching me. So he continues, “they rushed in upon me like a breached wall or an open gate,” as though there had not been an obstacle, either from the substance itself, of difficulty which is meant by the breached wall, of from human concern, which is meant by the door. Moreover, those who rushed on me so freely showed no mercy, and so he says, “and they rushed in on my mishaps,” for they totally intended to make me unhappy.

Third, he shows that adversities of this kind are sent by God from their effect, because he had been left totally destitute by them; and so he says, “I have been reduced to nothing,” because nothing remained for him from his former prosperity. This consisted in two things. First, in exterior goods, which he lost by violence, and so he says, “like the wind he took away,” through violence, “my desire,” everything which I found I had desirable in exterior things. In another way, his prosperity consisted in the health of his own person, and as to this he says, “and like a cloud,” suddenly and completely, “my health,” of my person, “vanished.” When his desirable goods had been taken away, his soul remained in sadness, and so he says, “Now my soul droops within me,” through sadness. He truly could not have been anything but sad, after he had lost his children and his property. Because he had lost the health of his body, consequently he also felt corporeal pain, which gave him no rest even in the day, and so he says, “days of pain” physical suffering which gets worse at night take possession of me.” So he says, “At night pains tear my bones,” as if to say: My pains so increase at night that they seem to reach piercing through my bones. He shows that the cause of his pain was from the rotting of his sores saying, “and they who consume me,” the worms generated from the rotting of the wounds, “do not sleep,” since they give no rest to him. He shows their great number saying, “My clothing is consumed by their great numbers,” as if to say: The multitude of the worms is so great that they not only eat my flesh, but also gnaw his clothing. To show that they are diffused not just in one part of the body, but almost in his whole body, even to his head, he then says, “and they encircle me like a cowl on my tunic,” as if to say: Because of their great number, they cannot be contained under the cover of the band and garment, but break out into the open and go around his neck. From the punishment of this kind he shows that he has become abominable to men, and so he says, “I have been made equal to filth,” so that no one wants to approach me because of the great corruption and the number of the worms, as no one wishes to approach filth. “And I have become like dust and ashes,” totally dejected and held in contempt.

Those who are despised by men often find help from God, but he was deserted by God in temporal adversity, and so he says, “I will call to you,” seeking continually to be freed from this adversity, “and you will not hear me,” very quickly. “I stood,” for I persevered in prayer, “and you do not notice me,” by freeing me from adversity. Thus if I were to consider only my temporal state, I would consider you a cruel and hard enemy, and so he then says, “You have changed into someone cruel in my opinion,” according to the appearance of the exterior scourges when you do not spare me even when I entreat you.” “And you persecute me with a heavy hand,” for you afflict me gravely. Therefore from all exterior appearances it seems that you granted me prosperity in the past to my hurt, and so he adds, “You raised me up,” in the time of prosperity, “placing me almost above the wind,” in a very exalted position, yet unstable like the wind, “you powerfully dashed me to pieces,” you struck me heavily as though you threw me on the ground from high up. He proves that he did not say this in despair saying, “I know that you will hand me over to death,” as if to say: I do not suffer these things as though they were not planned, for I know that I will go to a still further defect, death. He says that he knows this because of the condition of mortal life, “where the house of every living thing has been built,” since all men tend to death as a man does to his house. However, man is not totally destroyed in death, because the immortal soul remains, and so he says, “Yet not for the destruction,” of living men, “do you send forth your hand,” to reduce them to nothing by your power. “And if they should be corrupted,” by death, “he will save them,” and by making their souls happy. I hope for this from your kindness, however hard and cruel you seem to me in these temporal adversities.

After he premised his remarks with his past prosperity (c.29) and subsequent adversity, (vv.1-24) he collects them in a kind of summary saying, “I once wept,” in the time of my prosperity, “over him who was afflicted,” according to what Scripture says, “Weep with those who weep,” (Rom. 12:15) and I also had compassion on those suffering a loss, which he shows when he then says, “and my soul had compassion on the poor,” not only in affect, but also in effect, as he said already. (29:12) In return for these works of mercy, “I expected good things,” the prosperity of this world according to the opinion of his friends, “and evil things,” adversities, “came to me” which clearly demonstrates that their opinion was false. “I waited for the light,” the consolation or counsel by which I might escape from evil, “and the darkness” of bitterness and hesitation, “rushed in”.

He explains then the evils overcoming him, and he begins with interior evils when he says, “My bones are inflamed without rest.” This can refer to the weakness of the interior powers coming from too much heat, and also to the affliction of the heart proceeding from the intensity of the heat of pain. To show this kind of turmoil is too early, he says, “Days of affliction have anticipated me.” For all men suffer in their old age from ill health, but he has been anticipated with afflictions in his youth. Then, as to exterior evils he says, “I went along grieving,” for when I walked among men I pretended sadness after misery. But although sadness is the cause of anger, there was still no anger in me, and so he then says, “Standing up without fury, I cried in the crowd,” explaining my miseries. These came partly from the lack of friends about whom he continues, “I was the brother of snakes,” because those who should have loved me as a brother, bit me like snakes, “and the companion of ostriches,” who usually forget even their own offspring. (39:15) So they were so forgetful of me that they did not help me. His adversity was also partly the result of weakness of the body, and so first as to exterior infirmity he says, “My skin turned black on me,” from the interior corruption of the humors.” Then, as to the interior infirmities he continues, “and my bones dried out from the heat,” so great an amount of inordinate heat rested on me that it dried up the marrow of bones. His adversity partly consisted in the exterior signs of sadness, and so he uses images to show how his signs of joy had been changed. These are either musical instruments, and he expresses this alternative saying, “My lyre was turned to mourning,” as if to say: Mourning had taken the place of the lyre I used to use in joy for me; or songs sung by the human voice, and so he says, “and my song,” which I used to express my joy, has changed, “to the voice of those who weep.”

 

CHAPTER THIRTY ONE: JOB SEEKS JUSTICE

The First Lesson: Job is Chaste, Just and Good

1 I made a covenant with my eyes to not think about a young girl. 2 What part does God above have in me and what inheritance does the Almighty have on high? 3 Is it not damnation for the wicked and aversion for those doing evil? 4 Does he not consider my ways and does he not number all my steps? 5 If I have walked in vanity, and my foot hastened to deception, 6 let him weigh me in a just balance and let God know my simplicity. 7 If my step has turned aside from the way, if my eye has followed my heart, and if any spot cleaves to my hands, let me sow and another eat and my sons rooted up. 9 If my heart has been deceived by a woman and if I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door, 10 let my wife be the prostitute of another and others bend down over her. 11 This is a sinful thing and the greatest evil, 12 it is a fire which devours even to consuming and eradicates all seed. 13 If I despised subjecting myself to judgment with my servant and my handmaid when they wanted to settle some complaint against me, 14 when the Lord God rises up to judge me what will I do and when he questions, what will I answer him? 15 Did not he make me in the womb who also made him? And did not one God form me in the womb? 16 If I denied the poor what they sought and if I have made the eyes of the widow wait, 17 if I ate my morsel alone and the orphan did not share it, 18 since mercy has increased in me from my infancy and came forth with me from the womb of my mother. 19 If I despised the man passing by because he did no have clothing. 20 If his loins have not blessed me and if I was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep. 21 If I have raised my hand against the orphan, even when they saw me at the gate, elevated, 22 let my shoulder fall from its joint and my arm be crushed with its bones. 23 For I always feared God like the swelling of the waves over me, and his weight I could not bear.

After Job had told of his former prosperity (c.29) and his subsequent adversity, (c. 30) he now shows his innocence so that one does not believe that he had fallen into adversities because of sins. He begins to show his innocence by his freedom from the sin of lust which involves most men. One easily slips into this sin, because unless someone avoids the beginnings, he can scarcely withdraw from the things which come after. The glance of the eyes in which one looks at a beautiful woman, especially a virgin is the first motion in this sin. Second, is the thought, third, the pleasure, fourth, the consent, and fifth, the deed. Job wanted to exclude the beginnings of this sin so that he would not get entangled in it, and so he says, “I made a covenant,” in my heart I confirmed it like treaties are confirmed, “with my eyes,” from whose sight the eager desire of women comes, to so abstain from looking at women, “to not think about a virgin,” that is, to not arrive at even the first interior stage, thought. For he saw that it was difficult if he fell into the first stage of thought to not totter into the others, namely, desire and consent.

Then he shows why he is so solicitous to avoid this sin. First, he assigns the reason on the grounds that man seems to go away from God especially in the sin of lust. For man approaches God by spiritual actions, which are especially impeded by venereal pleasures,3 and so he then says, “What part does God above have in me?” as if to say: God above has a part in me in proportion to the elevation of my mind to higher things; but if my mind is cast down by lust to carnal pleasure, God above will have no part in me. Even the lustful happen to think about God spiritually for a while, but soon by the desire of pleasure they are called back down below, and so God’s portion cannot be steadfast in them like an inheritance. So he then says, “and what inheritance,” the firm hold in me after I stripped down to lower things, “the Almighty on high” he also lives on high cannot have. So it is necessary that his inheritance be in those who seek sublime, spiritual things, but not in those who descend towards carnal things. Second, the reason why he shunned the sin of lust is the damage which it brings upon men, which is twofold. One is corporeal, when a man because of the sin of lust incurs danger to his person and property, and so he says, “Is it not damnation for the wicked?” as if to say: The evil man who is involved in this sin rushes to damnation. Another damage is the impediment to doing good works, and so he says, “and aversion for those doing evil,” for violent pleasure drags the soul more to itself. So men given to lust abandon good works, and even good talk. Third, he assigns the cause from the point of view of divine providence which looks attentively at all the deeds of men. Thus no one can be immune from punishment, and so he says, “Does he not consider my ways,” the progress of my works to reward them? Not only does he know the entire process, but also the stages of that process and so he says, “and does he not number all my steps?” because he examines everything with his judgment, even the smallest details which seem reprehensible in my acts, and so I will not pass unpunished for them.

Second, he cleanses himself from the sin of deceit, using in this and in all the following discussion an execratory oath in which a man binds himself to a punishment, so that if what he says is not true, he obliges himself to punishment. So he says, “If I walked,” if I acted “in vanity,” in some falsehood. For things are called vain which lack solidity. Solidity consists especially in truth. He shows how one goes about in vanity when he then says, “and my foot hastened to deception,” this refers to my affection and whatever other power of the soul is the principle of motion. He says clearly, “hastened to deception,” because man intends by some deceitful means to obtain quickly what he might have obtained with great difficulty by means of the truth. One can consider walking without deceit by inspecting the righteousness of justice from which the deceitful man turns aside, and so he says, “let him (God) weigh me a just balance,” to discern from his justice if I have proceeded in deceit. Since deceit consists especially in the intention of the heart, he alone can judge deceit to whom the intention of heart lies open, namely God. So he then says, “and let God know my simplicity,” which is the contrary of the duplicity of deceit. He says, “let God know,” not as though God is about to learn it as something new, but as if he makes it known to others as something new, or because he knows this from eternity in the reason of his justice.

Since he has excluded deceit from himself in general, he descends to certain special sins in which one deceitfully plots against the goods of another. This happens both in theft and in adultery. For in theft one plots by deceit against the possessions of his neighbor, and he excludes this from himself saying, “If my step has turned aside from the way,” by disdaining justice, which has as its effect that man looks with a covetous eye at the goods of his neighbor to steal them. So he says, “if my eye (my desire) had followed my heart,” as if to say: If my eye intends to have what my heart desired. Third, from contempt of justice and direct intention to acquire what his heart desires, a man may happen to use his hand to rob the goods of another, and so the text continues, “and if any spot cleaves to my hands,” by taking the things of another. Now it is just that if one takes the goods of another, he should also have his goods despoiled by others, and so he says, “let me sow and another reap,” as if to say: I have stolen another’s goods, let others take my goods away. This is an execratory oath. Men often steal the goods of another so that they can amass wealth for their children, as the prophet Nahum said, “the lion seized what was sufficient for his cubs.” (Nah. 2:13) Therefore it is just that the man who steals the things of another not only should have his own goods taken from him, but also that his sons should die, and so he says, “and my sons rooted up,” for whom the booty seems to have been preserved.

In adultery, however, a man plots deceitfully against the wife of his neighbor, and this plot is preceded by a certain deception of heart, as long as reason is darkened by concupiscence, and so he says, “If my heart been deceived by a woman,” referring to the desire of the wife of another. From the fact that the heart is conquered by concupiscence for a woman, one tries to possess the woman desired by any deceitful means whatever, and so he says, “and if I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door,” to take advantage of his wife. He seems justly punished who soils the wife of another by adultery, in that his wife also is soiled by others, and so he says, “let my wife be the prostitute of another,” let her offer herself for sale to others. From this it follows that others abuse her, and so he then says, “and others bend down over her,” to commit adultery. He shows why he avoided this sin saying, “This is a sinful thing,” because it is against the law of God which bound a man and a woman in matrimony. (cf. Matt. 19:6) “And,” if one considers human justice, it is, “the greatest evil,” because the greater the good taken away, the greater the injustice. If someone should steal a cow, it will be a greater injustice than if he should steal a sheep, and so it is punished by a greater penalty, as Exodus says. The man who commits adultery takes away the greatest thing from a man, his wife, who is one flesh with him (Gen. 2:24). He also takes away the certainty of offspring and consequently, the whole succession of his patrimony, which because of adultery, sometimes accrues to strangers. So the text continues, “it (adultery) is a fire, which devours even to consuming,” because it cheats a man of his whole patrimony, as has been said, “and eradicates all seed,” when it makes the succession of his sons uncertain, and so Sirach says, “Every woman leaving her husband will sin, and give him an heir by marrying another man.” (23:32)

So after he has purged himself of injustice because he did not do injury to others, either in stealing things from them, or in abusing persons joined to them, he excuses himself, as a consequence, of the charge he has incurred injustice because of the defect of justice, and so he says, “If I despised subjecting myself to judgment with my servant and my handmaid when they wanted to settle some complaint against me,” as if to say: If I despised rendering justice to those beneath me, let these and other grave consequences happen to me. He shows why he did not despise submitting to judgment with his servants saying, “When the Lord God rises up to judge me,” that is, when he himself comes to judge, if I now despise his judgment, I would have no one in whose help or to whose counsel I could go for refuge. Nor would I even be able to rationally answer God in judgment, and so he says, “and when he questions,” when he examines my deeds, “what will I answer him,” what reason will I be able to give for not being willing to submit to judgment with my servants? He implies the answer “none.” He proves as a consequence that all men naturally share the same condition, and so he says, “Did he not make me in the womb who also made him?” He means: I have the same soul created by God as my servants. My body has been formed also by the same divine power, and so he continues, “and did not one God” namely, the God who formed him, “form me in the womb?” So it is clear that it matters to God how I treat the other.

After he showed that he was not lustful (v.1) or unjust (v.5), he shows next that he was not without pity. He first shows this fromthe fact that he did not take benefits away from the poor. For some men deny alms to the poor man seeking them from the beginning. He excluded this from himself saying, “If I denied the poor what they sought.” Some do not refuse them but put off giving the gift. He excludes this from himself saying, “and if I made the eyes of the widow wait.” Others do not refuse nor defer giving what is asked, but they give nothing from their own initiative. He excludes this from himself, showing that he did not wish to use his smallest possessions alone, but rather to share them with others, and so he continues, “if I ate my morsel alone and the orphan did not share it.” Here he implies: Let these things and other grave consequences happen to me. Notice that he speaks here with great precision. For the poor do not usually just beg, but they entreat earnestly, and therefore one cannot take away from them the benefit of mercy without completely denying it in every way. Widows beg, but they are afraid to entreat earnestly, and so, unless one aids them quickly, they are deprived of the benefit of mercy. Orphans do not even dare to beg, and thus it is necessary that one bestow mercy on them even without begging. He shows why he was merciful in this way in two ways: first, from long-studied habit he began in childhood, and so he says, “Since mercy has increased in me from my infancy.” As he grew in years, so he practiced the works of mercy more. Second, because he had a natural inclination to mercy, like other men commonly have certain inclinations to different virtues, and so he says, “it came forth with me from the womb of my mother,” because from the first days of my birth I was disposed to give mercy promptly.

There are usually two obstructions to mercy. One is the contempt of the poor whom one judges not worthy of mercy. One usually despises those who dress in poor clothes and honors those who dress in rich clothes, as Sirach says, “the clothes of the body reveal the man.” (19:27) But he excludes this obstacle to mercy from himself saying, “If I despised the man passing by,” any stranger passing by on the road, “and the poor,” someone I know, because he was “without covering,” he implies here: Let these and other consequences happen to me. Not only did I not despise those who were poorly clothed, but I even provided them with some clothes, and so he then says, “If his loins have not blessed me,” because I covered them when they were naked and this was the occasion when he blessed me. He shows the reason for this saying, “and if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep,” by the clothing offered to him, let the same punishment happen to me. (v. 21) Another impediment to mercy is the confidence one has in one’s own power. This seems to make a man think he can harm others and especially people beneath him with impunity, and he excludes this from himself saying, “If I have raised my hand against the orphan, “to cause him to suffer, “even when they saw me at the gate,” the place of judgment, “elevated,” as one more powerful. It is just that a man should be deprived of the limbs which he uses for injustice, and so he speaks not only of the loss of his hand as a punishment, but also the arm to which the hand is attached, and of the shoulder to which the arm is connected, and so he says, “let my shoulder fall from its joint and let my arm be crushed with its bones,” if I have abused my hand by using it to oppress the poor. He shows then why although he was in a higher place in society he did not raise his hand against orphans. Even though he did not deliver them because of men, yet he did deliver them because of God whose judgments he feared, and so he then says, “For I always feared God like the swelling of a waves over me.” He speaks using the comparison of those sailing on the sea, who, when the swelling waves rise over the height of the ship, fear that the ship will be submerged by them. In the same way he feared divine threats, like waves swelling up. Also he submitted to divine authority, which forbids the oppression of orphans, and so he says, “and his weight,” the authority of God who protects the orphans, “I could not bear,” without bending my will to him.

The Second Lesson: Job concludes his Defense

24 If I have accounted gold my strength, and if I have said to finest gold: My security. 25 If I rejoiced over my abundant riches and because my hand had grasped even more, 26 if I looked at the sun when it shone and the moon moving in splendor 27 and my heart secretly rejoiced and kissed my hand with my lips: 28 this is the greatest evil and the denial of God the Most High. 29 If I rejoiced at the ruin of him who hated me and if I exulted when evil overtook him, 30 for I did not give my tongue to sin, waiting and cursing his soul. 31 If the men of my tent have not said: Who would give us his meats to satisfy us? 32 The pilgrim did not remain outside, my door was open to the travelers. 33 If I hid like a man my sin and if I have hidden evil in my bosom, 34 if I grew frightened at the great multitude and if the contempt of my kinsmen terrified me, if I have rather kept silent and did not go out of my door? 35 Who would give me an advocate that the Almighty might hear my desire and he who judges write the book? 36 Let him carry it on my shoulders and let it encircle me like a crown. 37 For every one of my steps I will announce it, and as to a prince I will offer it. 38 If my land cries out against me and its furious weep with it, 39 if I have eaten his yield without payment and I have afflicted the soul of the farmers, 40 let nettles grow for me in place of wheat and the thorn for barley. Here the words of Job end.

After Job excused himself from injustice (v.5) and lack of mercy (v.16), he now excuses himself from the inordinate affection for riches. This can come about in two ways. In one way, when man trusts too much in riches, and he excludes this saying, “If I accounted gold my strength,” in that I reckoned my power principally in riches “and if to finest gold,” which is the purest gold, “I have said: My security,” i.e. this is my security, this is against what Paul says, “Tell the rich of this world not put their hope in the uncertainty of riches.” (1 Tim. 6:17) Second, the affection of man is disordered through riches from the fact that he rejoices too much in possessing them, and so as to riches he already possessed he continues, “If I rejoiced,” inordinately, “over my abundant riches,” which I possessed as my own. As to the acquisition of riches he says, “and because my hand had grasped even more.” For men usually rejoice more about what they have newly acquired.

Then he excuses himself from the sin of superstition, which is against God. In ancient times idol-worshipers worshipped the stars of heaven, especially the great lights because of their great brightness. He shows he does not saying, “If I looked at the sun when it shone and the moon moving in splendor,” which caused the idolaters to worship them, “and my heart secretly rejoiced,” as though I were devoted to them from interior worship. As for exterior cult he says, “and I kissed my hand with my lips,” he shows why he avoided this saying, “this is the greatest evil.” For if it is evil to offer what is due to one man to another, it seems the greatest evil that the cult due to God is offered to a creature. Since it is impossible for man to offer divine worship at the same time to God and a creature, he then says, “and the denial of God the Most High.” Even though the name of God is attributed to some creatures by participation, the cult of latria is due only to the most high God, who is denied to be the most high if that cult is also offered to others.

After these things which pertain to justice in general, he continues with certain things which pertain to the perfection of virtue. Among these he first excludes the hatred of enemies. This is especially shown when someone rejoices either in his complete ruin, and he excludes this saying, “If I rejoiced at the ruin of him who hated me.” Or he may rejoice in any evil which overcomes him, which he excludes adding, “and if I exulted when evil overtook him,” had overcome him unexpectedly. He then shows why he should shun this saying, “For I did not give my tongue to sin, waiting and cursing his soul.” Truly man naturally desires those things which he enjoys, and he expresses his interior desire in words. Therefore, it follows that if someone should rejoice in someone else’s evil, that he would desire it, and consequently, in cursing him, he would invoke evil on him.

Then he shows the perfection of his own virtue as to the superabundance of goods which he bestowed on others. First, as to his domestics he says, “If the men of my tent have not said: Who will give us his meats to satisfy us?” When the meat of some animal is appetizing, men desire to eat their fill of it. By this then he shows us that his association was so pleasing to his household that they desired to be satisfied with the flesh of his presence. As for foreigners, he then says, “The pilgrim did not remain outside,” so that he was not received in my house; “my door was open to the traveler,” so that entry was not difficult for him.

He further shows the perfection of his virtue by excluding undue anxiety. Men usually hide a crime because of the fear of embarrassment, and they sometimes do this against justice, either by denying it, which he excludes from himself saying, “If I hid like a man,” as men often do, “my sin,” by denying it unjustly; they may also excuse it, or even cover it over with some crafty devices, and so he then says, “and if I have hidden in my bosom,” by hidden pretence, “my sin,” when I am bound to confess it. He then excludes from himself the inordinate fear of bodily dangers, which especially proceed from a great mob rising up against a man as Sirach says, “My heart fears three things; the fanaticism of the city, the gathering of the people, etc.” (26:5-6) So he says, “If I grew frightened at the great multitude.” If man is despised by his kinsmen by whom he ought to be helped, this fear is increased, and so he says, “and if the contempt of my kinsmen terrified me.” Fearless men are fearless of opposition through presumption, and sometimes, at least in words, speak against more powerful men. He excludes this from himself saying, “and if I have not kept silent.” Sometimes they proceed further and they dare presumptuously to attack a great number of adversaries, but he excludes this saying, “and did not go out of my door.”

Since he has said many great things about himself, he invokes divine witness about these things, and so he then says, “Who would give me an advocate,” who will appeal to God with me? He shows why he desires help saying, “that the Almighty might hear my desire?” He shows what his desire is then saying, “and write the book,” either of accusation or recommendation of me in what I have said with “he who judges,” all human acts, both interior and exterior. If in the testimony of this book, by the certain manifestation of the truth I am also shown to be guilty, I want to endure the punishment, and so he says, “Let me carry it on my shoulders.” If, however, after the truth has been manifested I appear worthy of praise, then let me receive the crown of reward, and so he then says, “and let it encircle me like a crown.” In this he shows his desire that one who was condemned unjustly by his friends, be saved by the just judgment of God. He promises that he will not contradict this book containing the divine witness. “For every one of my steps,” with the progress of my works, “I will announce it,” that is, I will acknowledge the truth of God’s testimony and I will not refuse to submit the sentence according to divine witness. So he says, “and as to a prince I will offer it,” joyfully accepting the fact that he was dealt with on the basis of God’s testimony.

Then he excludes himself from the vice of extreme desire even in things he has acquired in his own possession. This is shown in two ways. In one way by the fact that man is eager to extract too much profit from his own possessions by excessive cultivation, and he excludes this metaphorically saying, “If my land cries out against me,” because it seemed I have not permitted it to rest, and I had planted it too much. So he says, “and its furrows weep with it.” He speaks using the metaphor of a man who is excessively anxious. In another way excessive desire for possessions is shown when a man denies the price of their labor to his workers, and so he says, “If I have eaten his yield without payment,” without money paid the workers, “and I have afflicted the soul of the farmers,” either by compelling them to work excessively or by taking away their salary. Now it is just that one who desires superfluous and uncommon profit loses even what is due and common. So he says, “in place of wheat,” sown for the nourishment of men, “let nettles grow for me,” which not only are useless, but prickly. “And for barley,” which is sown as cattle feed, “the thorn,” which even wounds cattle by pricking them. When he had said all these things, the epilogue comes next when it is said, “Here the words of Job end,” because he proposes nothing after this to prove his proposition.

 

CHAPTER THIRTY TWO: THE DISCOURSE OF ELIUD

The Lesson: Introductory Remarks

1 So these three men gave up answering Job because he seemed righteous to them. 2 But Eliud, the son of Barachiel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was angry and indignant. He was angry against Job because he said he was just before God. 3 Further, he was indignant against his three friends because they had not found a reasonable answer but had merely condemned Job. 4 Therefore, Eliud waited for Job to speak because those who spoke were his elders. 5 Since he had seen that the three could not answer, he was violently angry; 6 and Eliud, the son of Barachiel, the Buzite answered: I am younger in years and you are older. On that account, I lowered my head and was reluctant to express my opinion to you. 7 For I was hoping that a greater length of years would speak and a great number of years would speak wisdom. 8 But as I see the spirit is in men, and the inspiration of the Almighty gives understanding. 9 It is not the old that are wise nor the aged that understand what is right. 10 Therefore, I will speak: Listen to me and I will show you, even I, my learning. 11 For I have listened for your prudence, I have heard your practical wisdom as long as you debated in your arguments 12 and as long as I thought you would say something, I waited for you to speak. But as I see it, there is no one who can argue with Job and answer his arguments among you. 13 Lest perhaps you should say: We have found wisdom, God threw him down and not man. 14 He has spoken nothing to me and I will not answer him according to your discourses. 15 They have been terrified and they did not answer him further, and abstained from speaking by their own will. 16 Therefore, as I waited and they did not speak, they stood still and did not respond further, 17 I will answer for my part and I will show my knowledge. 18 For I am full of speeches and the spirit of my womb confines me. 19 Behold, my womb is like must which breaks new casks without a vent. 20 I will speak and I will breathe a little. I will open my lips and I will answer. 21 I will not show respect of persons to any man and I will not equate God with any man. 22 Truly I do not know for how long I will live and if my maker will take me away after a little while.

After the dispute between Job and his friends had ended, the argument of Eliud against Job is introduced. He uses more penetrating arguments against Job than the prior speeches and approaches nearer the truth. So Job does not answer him, although he still deviates a little from the truth and interprets the words of Job in the wrong sense, as we shall clearly see.

He begins by stating that the reason which moved him to speak was indignation against Job and against his friends. The text begins with the premise beforehand of the silence of the friends when it says, “So these three men about whom the text has already spoken, “gave up answering Job.” It is noteworthy here that the text would not call them men if it were not an actual event and only a made up parable. The text next indicates the cause of the silence saying, “because he seemed righteous to them.” For Job had said many things in showing his own justice, which these men could not contradict. For both of these reasons, the silence of his friends and the fact that Job seemed to them to be righteous, Eliud, who stood by was agitated to anger. So the text continues, “But angry,” in heart, “and indignant,” in showing exterior signs of anger, “there was Eliud,” which describes his name, “the son of Barachiel,” which describes his anger, “The Buzite,” described by his native land, and “of the family of Ram,” which describes his tribe. This whole description suffices to show that this was an actual event.

The text next explains the cause of his anger against Job first when it says, “He was angry against Job because he said he was just before God,” according to divine testimony. This is especially against what Job said, “He knows my way,” and later, “My feet followed in his steps.” (23:10) As to his friends, the text continues, “Further, he was indignant against his three friends because they had not found a reasonable answer,” with which they might respond to his words in which he asserted that he was righteous, “but they merely condemned Job,” saying that he was evil.

The text shows the reason why Eliud had previously not answered Job in anyway when it says, “Therefore Eliud waited for Job to speak,” without contradicting his speeches, “because those who spoke were his elders,” deferring to them as though to wiser men, and because their old age required it. But since it did not seem to him that reverence for someone should prejudice the truth, he, though younger, began to answer angrily the three elders, and so the text continues, “Since he had seen that the three could not answer,” the arguments of Job, “he was violently angry,” because he thought that the truth would perish by their laziness. So he wanted to defend the truth as he understood it in their place. The text therefore continues, “and Eliud, the son of Barachiel, the Buzite, answered,” to the discourses and arguments of Job.

In his anger he first excuses his former silence, both because of his age, “And he said, ‘I am younger in years,’” and because of the old age of the others, and so he says, “and you are older.” Young men ought to defer in reverence to their elders, and so he says, “on that account I lowered my head,” as a sign of reverence and humility, “and I was reluctant to express my opinion to you,” so as not to seem presumptuous in hindering the words of wiser men by my discourses. It seems probable that old men speak more wisely for two reasons. First, because young men from the fervor of the soul frequently propose many things without any order, whereas old men because of the gravity of age speak more maturely. So he says, “For I was hoping that a greater length of years would speak,” with more seriousness and with greater effect. Second, because old men by the experience of a long life-time can experience many things, and consequently, speak with more wisdom. So the text continues, “and a great number of years,” because of which one can acquire experience, “would teach wisdom,” received from experience.

As a consequence he excuses the fact that he is now going to begin to speak because he has experienced the fact that age is not the sufficient cause of wisdom, but rather divine inspiration, and so he says, “But as I see,” that is, I consider, the effect, “the spirit,” of God, “is in men,” in as much as he operates in them. This is why he adds, “and the inspiration of the Almighty,” by which he breathes the Holy Spirit into men, who “is the spirit of wisdom and understanding,” (Is. 11:2) “gives understanding,” of the truth which is the beginning of wisdom in those who are inspired. He shows that this inspiration is the special cause of wisdom on the basis of the fact that age does not perfectly cause wisdom. So he says, “It is not the old that are wise,” as to the1knowledge of divine truth, “nor the aged that understand what is right,” as to the ordering of human acts. Because although he was not aged, he nevertheless was confident that he was inspired by God. Therefore, he dared to speak, and so he says, “Therefore, I will speak.”

In his speech, he first induces them to listen on the authority of God, by whose inspiration he was speaking, and so he says, “Listen to me,” so that they would not interrupt his discourse. To those listening he promises dogmas of science, and so he then says, “and I will show you, even I,” although I am young, “my learning,” from which I will answer the arguments of Job. It was just that they listen to him because he had listened to them, and so he continues, “For I have waited,” for a long time, “for your discourses,” which you pronounced against Job. Since he thought he could discern what had been said well and what had not been said well he then says, “I have heard your practical arguments,” as if to say: In listening I judged what in your words pertained to prudence. He had waited not a short, but a long time. He determines the end of his waiting by two things. First, from their decision, and so he says, “as long as you debated in your arguments,” as long as it pleased you to argue against Job. Second, he determines the limit from the hope that he had in their wise teaching. He says, “and as long as I thought that you would say something I waited for you to speak.” There is not need to listen any longer to someone on a subject when he does not hope he is going to say something useful. He saw that the words which they used against Job were not efficacious. First, certainly, because they were not able to convince him, and so he says, “But as I see it, there is no one who can argue with Job,” and convince him with arguments. Second, because they could not resist his arguments, and so he then says, “and answer,” sufficiently, “among you,” from your understanding. Or this can mean there is no one, “among you,” of your number to answer “his arguments,” the arguments he uses against you. Their principal arguments against Job were founded on the adversities of Job which they attributed to divine judgment which is not able to err. He consequently shows that this answer is not sufficient saying, “Lest perhaps you should say, ‘We have found wisdom,’” a sufficiently wise response, “God (who cannot err) threw him down,” into adversities, “and not man,” who can deceive and be deceived. He intended to answer more efficaciously, and so he then says, “He has spoken nothing to me,” for he wants to show that he does not speak because he has been provoked, “and I will not answer him according to your discourses,” because I will not follow your ways in answering him, but I will find another more effective way to respond.

He intends to excuse himself in the answer he will give, not only in their eyes, but also in the eyes of others, and therefore, he turns his discourse to others saying, “They have been terrified,” to speak further lest they be more clearly convinced, “and they did not answer further,” the arguments of Job. He shows that this silence was the result of their laziness, and not due to the effective character of the arguments of Job, saying, “and abstained from speaking by their own will,” for they kept silence from negligence. For when someone is convinced by effective argument, he does not stop speaking by his own will, but rather is stopped from speaking by another. Since, therefore, they had failed, he says that he wants to make up for their defect, and so he says, “Therefore, as I waited,” for a long time in deferring to them, “and as they did not speak,” in answer to the discourses of Job, “I will answer for my part,” because the defense of the truth is everyone’s task, and each one should devote to it what he can as though from his part.

However, he was not moved only by the zeal to defend the truth, but also by vainglory, and so he says, “and I will of show my knowledge.” In fact, someone who desires vainglory wants to show off his excellence clearly if he has it and therefore he shows that he has the greatest ability to answer when he says, “For I am full of words,” as if to say: Abundant answers occur to me. Since the faculty does not suffice for a man to act unless he is aroused by something he says, “and the spirit of my womb confirms me.” The womb is the place of conception, and so here the womb metaphorically means the intellect conceiving various intelligible objects. Therefore the spirit of the uterus is the will impelling man to manifest the conceptions of his heart by speech. It is annoying to a man to not realize what he desires, and so he shows the anxiety which he suffered in silence by a comparison saying, “Behold my womb,” my mind, “is like must,” which ferments, and “without a vent breaks new casks.” For unless the gas caused fermenting new wine escapes in some opening, the gas is so increased inside that it sometimes breaks the casks. So he also compares himself to new wine because of his youth, and therefore, from his great desire to speak he thinks there is danger which threatens unless he can express himself, and so he says, “I will speak and I will breathe a little,” as if to say: In speaking words I will evaporate the interior ferment so that I can calm the anxiety of my desire.

He now shows what he wants to say continuing, “I will open my lips and I will answer,” the words of Job. He shows the measure he should observe in answering when he says, “I will not show respect of persons to any man.” For one shows partiality in answering someone when he abandons the truth to defer to the man. He shows, therefore, he does not want to do this saying, “and I will not equate God with man.” For the present dispute seemed to him to be of such a character that, if he should defer to man, he would not guard the reverence due to divine excellence. He shows the reason he fears to do this saying, “Truly I do not know for how long I will live,” in this mortal life, to be able to promise myself a long periods of time to do penance, “and if my maker will take me away after a little while,” if he will take me by death to judgment. From this it is clear that Eliud agreed with Job in the fact that the retribution of sins was after death. Otherwise, it would seem vain to fear to offend God because of the proximity of death.

 

CHAPTER THIRTY THREE: ELIUD EXHORTS JOB TO REPENTANCE

The First Lesson: What Job should Confess

1 Hear then Job my words and listen my speeches. 2 Behold, I have opened my mouth, let my tongue will speak in my mouth. 3 My words are in a simple heart and my lips will speak a pure opinion. 4 The spirit of God made me and the breath of the Most High gave me life. 5 If you can, answer me and hold your ground before my face. 6 Behold, God made both you and me and I too was formed from the same clay. 7 Let the my miracle not terrify you and let my eloquence not prove a burden for you. 8 Therefore, you have spoken in my hearing and I heard the sound of your words: 9 I am clean and without fault, without stain and there is no evil in me. 10 Since he has found grievances in me, therefore he thought that I am his enemy. 11 He put my feet in the stocks, and he watched all my movements. 12a It is in this then in which you are not justified.

The text has said already that Eliud was angry against Job and his friends (32:2-3). After he has denounced the laziness of the friends of Job, now he begins to speak against Job himself, and therefore, he first gets his attention saying, “Hear, then, Job, my words,” because I now intend to answer you. He shows that he will weigh each word very carefully saying, “and listen to my speeches,” for he will not say anything in vain. So that Job does not ask the reason why he did not speak before he says, “Behold, I have opened my mouth,” as if to say: Before when I was silent, I had kept my mouth closed out of reverence for my elders, since now they are deficient, necessity compels me to speak. So he says, “my tongue in my mouth will speak,” as if to say: I will not follow what others say, but I will speak my own ideas. Since Job in what has gone before has accused his friends of afflicting him and confounding him with words, (19:2) Eliud shows this is not true with him saying, “My words are in a simple heart,” as if to say: I do not speak to falsely condemn or to ridicule, but to show the truth with a simple heart. Since Job had accused the other three men of being, “fabricators of a lie and worshippers of false dogmas,” (13:4) he excludes this from himself saying, “and my lips will speak a pure opinion,” without the mixture of any falsity or error. He shows the source of such confidence in clearly explaining the truth saying, “The Spirit of God made me,” and therefore, it is no wonder that he moves his creature and perfects his product, and he explains this continuing, “and the breath of the Most High gave me life,” for he moved and perfected me for the works of life, and the principal one of these is the understanding of the truth. Lest he seem to have said this as a prejudice to discourage Job from answering one speaking from divine inspiration he says, “If you can, answer me,” what I will say against you, “and hold your ground before my face,” so that you also can raise objection against me if I say anything which displeases you. Lest Job scorn to dispute with him because of his own reputation for wisdom and his youth, he excludes this saying, “Behold, God made both you and me,” so from the Creator’s point of view both of us have the same hope of inquiring into truth. On the part of matter, the same impediment applies to each one, and so he says, “and I too was formed from the same clay,” whose coarseness darkens the light of truth. But Eliud saw one could anger him and that it was because of a miracle that such great wisdom and eloquence was given to a young man and this is sufficient reason to dispute against a very wise old man. Therefore he sustains the fact implying this was given to him miraculously, saying, “Yet let my miracle not terrify you,” so that you do not dare answer one who has obtained wisdom miraculously, “and let my eloquence not prove a burden for you,” so that you are astonished because of it.

After he has said these things as an introduction, he strengthens the arguments which he intends to use against Job, and so he says, “Therefore you have spoken in my hearing,” as if to say: You cannot to excuse yourself by saying that you did not say this,” and I heard the sound of your words,” for I listened attentively. First, he had noted in the words of Job that he had said that he was immune from sin (13:6 and 16:18) and so he says, “I am clean,” from the impurity of the flesh, “and without fault,” caused by the sin of omission; “without stain,” from grave sins which are against God like idolatry and other sins of this sort; “and there is no evil in me,” which would cause me to wound my neighbors unjustly. Second, he notes in his words that he accused God of unfair judgment. Unfair judgment usually proceeds from the hatred of the one judging, and as to this he recalls that Job had said, “Since he has found grievances in me, therefore he thought that I am his enemy.” In Chapter Thirteen, Job asked in question form, “Why do you hide your face and think of me as your enemy?” (v.24) But he did not say, “He has found grievances in me,” and so this is an addition of Eliud to give a bad interpretation to the words of Job. Indeed, the hatred of a judge seems to be just if, sure of the malice of another, he has hatred in punishing his fault. But if from light grievances, the judge is provoked to hatred at another, his hatred will be unjust. In just this way he interpreted Job to have said that God thought of him as an enemy. Second, a judge is unfair if he takes away from someone the ability to mount a just defense. Expressing this he says, “he put my feet in the stocks,” for he bound me as if to impede me from my works. Third, a judge is unfair when he gathers certain small faults together to condemn someone, and expressing this he says, “he watched all of my movements,” as if spying on him in each and every work. Job did not say these things to show the unfairness of the divine judge, but he was speaking metaphorically as he explained, “Understand my riddles with your ears.” (13:17) Because this second point excludes the first, he then says, “It is in this then in which you are not justified,” as if to say: You cannot say you are just because the very fact that you impute injustice to God shows your injustice.

The Second Lesson: God teaches Men in many Ways

12b I will answer you that God is greater than man. 13 You contend against him because he will not answer all your arguments. 14 God speaks once and he does not repeat the same thing a second time 15 in a dream, in a vision of the night. When sleep rushes on man and they sleep in bed, 16 then he opens the ears of men and he educates and instructs them in his discipline 17 to turn a man aside from what he has done and to free him from pride. 18 He rescues his soul from corruption and his life so that he does not perish from the sword. 19 He also chides by pain on his bed, and he makes all his bones grow feeble. 20 Bread becomes abominable to him during his life and food of the soul which he desired before becomes abominable. 21 His flesh will waste away and the bones which were hidden will be laid bare. 22 His soul will approach corruption and the life of that man will approach the dangers of death. 23 If there should be one angel who speaks for him, one of the thousands to announce the justice of that man, he will have mercy on him and he will say: 24 Deliver him from going down into corruption, and I have found how I am propitiated to him. 25 His flesh has been consumed by punishments, let him return to the days of his youth. 26 He will invoke God in prayer and he will be pleased by him and he will see his face in joy and he will render his justice to man. 27 He will consider men and he will say: I have sinned, I have truly perverted what is right; and I did not receive the punishment I merited. 28 For he freed my soul from going to destruction but in living my soul might see light. 29 Behold, God works all these things in three ways for each one 30 to call their souls back from corruption and to enlighten them with the light of the living. 31 Listen, Job, and hear me, be silent while I speak. 32 If, however, you have something to say, answer me, speak; I want you to be known as just. 33 But if you have not, hear me, be silent and I will teach you wisdom.

Eliud has already proposed those things which he intended to dispute with Job. Since Job, before he had spoken the words Eliud cited (vv.10,11) had said, “I desire to dispute with God,” it seems unfitting to recall someone who desires eagerly to take up the dispute with someone higher to dispute with an inferior. Before Eliud begins to argue with Job about these things, he reproaches him with the very fact that he desired to argue with God. First, it is a mark of great presumption to challenge someone superior to debate. So he says, “I will answer you,” your desire according to which you wish to dispute with God, “that God is greater than man,” and so it is presumptuous for man to wish to debate with God. In this he would justly accuse Job if Job wanted to dispute with God to contradict him as if he were an equal. Job however wished to dispute with God to learn as a student does with a master. So he said in Chapter Twenty Three, “I will fill my mouth with rebukes to learn how he answers me.” (v.4) Yet Eliud interpreted this as though Job spoke contentiously against God, complaining that he was not answering him, and so he then says, “You contend against him because he will not answer all your arguments.” He wanted to take this from these preceding works of Job, and from what he said in Chapter Nineteen, “Behold, I will shout out violently in my suffering and no one will hear. I will cry out and there was no one to judge.” (v.27) Job did not say these words and others like them in a contentious manner, but because he desired to know the reasoning of divine wisdom.

To refute the preceding words of Job which Eliud interpreted as having been spoken contentiously, Eliud shows that God does not necessarily have to answer every single word posed to him by man, but he speaks sufficiently to each one for his instruction, and so he then says, “God speaks once,” sufficiently for the instruction of man. So then he does not have to answer each of the man’s questions in turn, and therefore he says, “and he does not repeat the same thing a second time,” since to repent what he did sufficiently would be superfluous. He shows how God speaks to man then saying, “in a dream, in a vision of the night.” There can also be another meaning, so that when he says, “God speaks only once,” to man, it refers to the instruction of the mind which is by the light of natural reason, as Psalm Four, “Many say: ‘Who shows good things to us?’” and as if to respond: “The light of your face shines upon us, O Lord.” (vv. 6 and 7), in this light one discerns good from evil. Since natural reason remains unchangeable in men, and as a result it is not necessary to renew it, he therefore says, “and he does not repeat the same thing a second time.” Then he shows another way bywhich God speaks to man, which is the imaginary vision in the apparitions of dreams, and so he says, “in a dream, in the visions of the night.” This can be referred to prophetic revelation, according to Numbers, “If anyone will be a prophet of the Lord among you, I will speak to him either in dream or in vision,” (12:6) or this can be referred to ordinary dreams which Eliud believed come from God.

He explains then the manner and the order of the dreams. First, he touches on the natural cause when he says, “when sleep rushes on men,” which happens when the external senses have been immobilized by vapors ascending to the source of sensing. Second, he places the disposition on the part of the human will when he continues, “and they sleep in bed,” because men experience dreams which are especially ordered and filled with meaning when they sleep restfully. To the sick then dreams appear distorted because of lack of rest so Daniel says, “Your dream and the visions in your head, which you had on your bed mean this: You, O king, began to think on your bed and so on.” (2:28) Third, he places the divine action in the one sleeping, which is characterized first by the fact that, when the exterior senses have been immobilized in deep sleep and a man is resting quietly in bed, a certain ability is divinely given to a man to perceive divine instruction because his spirit is not preoccupied with exterior things, and so he says, “then he opens the ears of men.” By “ears” he fittingly enough expresses the ability to perceive divine instruction in dreams because he speaks about this kind of instruction like a kind of language because it does not result from the experience of things themselves, but in signs as is also true in language. Once the ability to hear him has been given, it is fitting that he can teach, and so he continues, “and he educates them and instructs them in discipline.” Discipline is taken here for the instruction which tells a man what must be done and avoided, not for the knowledge of the speculative sciences, which are usually not revealed in a dream. So he says, “to turn a man aside from what he has done.” For man is frequently corrected in dreams for sins he has committed. Since the pride is the root of sin because by it one holds the commandments of God in contempt, he then says, “and to free him from pride.” Once man is free from fault, he fittingly escapes punishments. He shows he escapes two kinds of punishments. First, with respect to the spiritual punishment of the soul, “He rescues his soul from corruption,” caused by the disorders of the powers of the soul. Second, concerning corporeal punishment, hence he says, “and his life,” the corporeal one, “so that he does not perish by the sword,” when he is punished for his sin. Or both can refer to bodily death, which is sometimes produced by interior corruption, as when someone dies from sickness which God sends on him for sin. This sometimes happens from the violence of the sword.

Then he discusses the fact that God can also speak and correct man through the sickness of the body. He first notes sensible pain here, and so he says, “He also chides,” a man for past sins, “by pain,” which is the corporeal pain which comes from sickness. So he says, “on his bed,” according to the Psalm, “Upon his bed of pain.” (Ps. 11:4) Second, he notes the weakness of the sick when he says, “and he makes all of his bones grow feeble,” when he destroys the strength which consists in his bones. Third, he places the loss of appetite when he says, “Bread,” which is common food, “becomes abominable to him during his life,” while he still lived, because of sickness, “and the food of his soul, which he desired before, becomes abominable,” which refers to other foods which are desired in different ways by different people. Fourth, he places leanness when he says, “His flesh will waste away,” that is, will fail, “and,” consequently, “the bones which were hidden,” by flesh, “will be laid bare,” because they will appear to be covered only by skin. Fifth, he places the danger and fear of death saying, “His soul will approach corruption,” which refers to his life, which is lived because of his soul. So he adds, “and the life of that man will approach to the dangers of death,” to causes bringing death.

Note he has proposed these things to answer the lament of Job that God does not answer each of his questions in detail. For he wanted to prove by the preceding things that God had spoken to him in three ways: first by natural reason, as he does to all men, second by accusing him in dreams, for he had already said, “You will terrify me with dreams and you will strike me with horror in visions.” (7:14); third, by illness, as he had already said, “Now my soul droops within me.” (30:16) In the same way one must consider that Eliud, like the other three, believed that the weaknesses come to men from sin, yet not principally as a punishment, like the other three said, but more as a correction.

Since Job seemed to lament not only that God had not spoken to him, but also that he could not approach to have a discussion with God and to plead his case before him, (cf. 33:3) Eliud therefore wants to make a satisfactory answer to this question. Although the approach to God does not clearly lie open to a man, the angels still are the mediators between God and men, who propose the justice of man to God not to teach him, but to help men in their desires. So there is no lack in man if he is unable to approach the divine throne through his own powers without aid to propose the justice of his cause to him. To prove this he says, “If there should be for him,” for the afflicted man, “an angel who speaks,” intercedes, and lest it be feared that one angel would not suffice to intercede for all, he then says, “one of the thousands [according to what the text already said, “can one number his hosts?” (25:3)] to announce the justice of the man,” to propose in the presence of God whatever is just on the part of a man. “He (God) will have mercy on him,” on the man afflicted, “and he will say,” that is, he will order the angel, “Deliver him,” for just as he is the one who brings forward the justice of man in the presence of God, so also he is the executor of the divine mercy in the presence of men. He then explains that from which he must be freed saying, “from going down into corruption,” to death. He then shows that this freedom pleases God when he adds, speaking in the person of God, “I have found how I am propitiated to him,” because something of the justice I was seeking appears in man and because of this I can have mercy on him. Since Job had said, “My flesh is clothed with corruption,” (7:5) as if he could not be restored, he excludes this saying, “His flesh has been consumed by punishments,” as if to say: This is not injurious to my power, and so “let him return to the days of his youth,” i.e. let him recover the strength like a young man.

Therefore, after he has suggested the words of God which free him, Eliud uses his own words to describe the manner of human liberation saying, “He will invoke God in prayer,” for it is not enough for an angel to speak for him, but to be freed he must also pray for it himself. Or this argument can be connected in another way. For because he had shown above that man cannot lament that he cannot place his case in the presence of God, since an angel proposes it there for him efficaciously (v.23), now he shows that he too can place it there for himself in prayer. To show that this is as effective as the first way he says, “and he (God) will be pleased by him (man),” according to the words of the prophet Joel, “He is kind and merciful and placated about evil.” (2:13) From this there follows in man a confidence in thinking about God with some spiritual joy, and so he says. “and he (man) will see his face,” that is, he will consider his goodness, imperfectly in the present life and perfectly in the future life, “in a shout of joy,” in joy which is in some way inexplicable. “And,” so, “he (God) will render his justice to men,” because he will reward him for his merits, after he has removed the impediment of sin. But this is not possible unless man humbly recognizes and confesses his sin, and so he says, “He will consider man,” as if spontaneously offering himself for the confession of sin, and so he continues, “and he will say, ‘I have sinned.’” So one does not think that he has said this from humility he adds, “and I have truly perverted what is right.” He says this against Job because Job had said, “I have not sinned and my eye lingers on bitter things.” (17:2) In his confession he will not lament about the gravity of the punishment, and so he says, “and I did not receive the punishment I merited,” as if to say: I merited a graver punishment, and he says this against what Job had said, “If only my sins were weighed in which I merited anger and so on.” (6:2) He shows the fruit of humility saying, “For he freed my soul,” in confessing his sin, “from going to destruction,” which refers to death, corporeal or spiritual. He also wants to attain further goods and so he says, “but in living my soul will see the light,” which is either the corporeal light or the spiritual light of wisdom.

Because God does not immediately and finally damn man, but warns him many times, Eliud adds, “Behold, all these things,” the instruction through dreams and rebuke through pains and healing, “God works in three ways,” i.e. many times for as long as he thinks them useful. But he uses the number three to conform to human usage in which men are usually warned or summoned three times. God does this not only for one, but for all those in need of it, and so he says, “for each one,” whom he sees must be instructed and chided. He assings the usefulness of this saying, “to call their souls back from corruption,” which expresses freedom from evil, “and to enlighten them with the light of the living,” which expresses the attainment of good things. Each of these can be applied to corporeal or spiritual goods. When he says here “three ways,” this should refer to the two second modes of God speaking. For about the first he has said that, “he will not repeat it a second time.” (v.14) He introduces this to show the reason why sinners are sometimes sustained in prosperity and are not immediately damned.

Since it seemed to him that he had spoken effectively, he invites Job to listen quietly to the things which remain. He says, “Listen, Job,” in your heart, “and hear me,” with your ears, “be silent while I speak,” and do not interrupt me. Lest he seem to inhibit his ability to answer he says, “If however you have something to say, answer me,” and as though he desires his answer he adds, “speak.” Then, he shows the cause of his desire saying, “I want you to be known as just.” He says this to show that he does not intend to humiliate him. Since he did not believe that he was just he then says, “But if you do not have,” something to say on behalf of your justice, “hear me, be silent, and I will teach you wisdom,” of which you are ignorant.

 

CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR: DISCOURSE ON DIVINE JUSTICE

The First Lesson: God is Just to the Individual

1 Publicly then, Eliud said these things: 2 Hear my words wise man, and you learned men, hear me. 3 For the ear proves the argument and the palate judges the taste of food. 4 Let us choose what is right for us and among ourselves let us determine what is better. 5 Since you have said, Job: I am a just man and God is overturning my cause. 6 In judging me, there is a lie and my arrow is violent without sin. 7 What man is like Job? Who drinks derision like water, 8 who walks with those who do evil and walks with evil men. 9 For he said: A man will not please God even if he has run with him. 10 Therefore, prudent men, hear me. Let impiety be far from God and evil from the Almighty. 11 For he will render the works of man to him and he will render to each according to his ways. 12 Truly God willnot condemn in vain, nor the Almighty overthrow his judgment. 13 What other has he constituted on earth? Or whom did he place over the world which he has fashioned? 14 If he turns his heart to him, he will draw his spirit and his breath to himself. 15 All flesh will be destroyed together and man will return to ashes. 16 If then you have an intellect, hear what is said and perceive the voice of my eloquence. 17 Can one who does not love judgment be healed? How can you condemn one who is just to such a degree? 18 Who says to the King: Apostate? 19 who calls army leaders wicked, 19 who does not discriminate in favor of princes and did not know the tyrant when he disputes against the poor man: for they are all the work of his hands. 20 They will die suddenly, and in the middle of the night, the people will be moved aside, and they will pass away and take the violent man away without aid. 21 For his eye is on the ways of men and he considers all their steps. 22 There is no darkness nor the shadow of death where those who do evil can hide. 23 There is no more ability in man that he should come to God in judgment.

After Eliud accused Job of the fact that he wanted to dispute with God, he enters into the dispute against two things which he had referred to already. (33:9-12b; 35:1) First, he argues against the fact that he interpreted Job to have said that divine judgment was unjust. Since this subject is exceedingly difficult and sublime, he is not content in this argument to address his words only to Job, especially since he was thinking that Job was erroneous in this matter, but he invokes wise men to judge this thing. Some men attain wisdom by themselves, and expressing this he says, “Hear my words, wise men;” but others are instructed about what pertains to wisdom, and as to those he says, “and you learned men,” who are taught by others, “hear me.” He shows why he invites others to listen saying, “for the ear proves the argument,” as if to say: I invite you to listen so that after you have heard my words you judge them. He introduces this as a comparison when he says, “and the palate judges the taste of food,” as if to say: Just as taste judges food, so hearing judges words. He shows what these words pertain to when he says, “Let us choose what is right for us,” as if to say: Let us judge from the common consensus what is more true, “and among ourselves let us determine what is better,” what Job has said or what I am about to say against him.

Therefore, he proposes the argument of Job saying them, “since you have said, Job: I am a just man.” He had said this already, “I will not desert my justification which I have begun to have.” (27:6) Further he had shown his justice clearly in many things above in Chapter Thirty One. Eliud continues, “and God is overturning my cause.” Eliud takes this to be the same as what Job had said in Chapter Twenty Seven, “Long live God who has rejected my cause,” (v.2) and the same seems to pertain to what he had said in Chapter Nineteen, “God did not afflict me with right judgment.” (v.6) Eliud interprets these words in the worst sense. For Job had said that his cause had been rejected not because he thought that punishments were inflicted on him not by a judgment of one who punishes a fault, but as justice according to providence with a view to proving his justice, and so he had said, “He will prove me like gold which passes through fire.” (28:10) One who does not use a judgment does not take away right judgment, but only the one who pronounces judgment unjustly. So he interpreted what Job said, “God took away my judgment,” (27:2) as if he said: God has ruined my cause by judging me unjustly, and so he adds, “In judging me there is a lie,” a falsity of judgment, which Job had never maintained. But Eliud believed that his intention in the words he referred to was to say that he had been punished unjustly. Therefore, Eliud had conceived this opinion because he did not see how someone could be afflicted without sin unless this was done unjustly. Since Job had said that he was without sin, he thought Job was of the opinion that he was struck by God in violence against justice. So he says, “and my arrow is violent without sin,” as if Job had said: Since I am without sin, the arrow with which God wounded me, the adversity he sent, was violent and unjust. This seems to allude to the words of Job spoken already, “The arrows of the Lord are in me.” (6:4)

After Eliud had laid this perversity on Job himself, he begins to reprimand him about this saying, “What man is like Job?” as if to say: There is no one like him who seems to be as perverse as he is. For it seemed the greatest perversity when someone laughs at God by disparaging his judgments, and so he says, “who drinks derision,” the derision and reproving of divine judgments, “like water.” This is drunk easily and for refreshment, as if he imputes to him the crime that what bursts forth as an affront to God, was for him the cooling of his tribulation and he was doing this without the contradiction of his conscience reproving him for it. It is characteristic of those who want to persevere in their sins to condemn divine judgments, and so he says, “who walks,” that is, consents, “with those who do evil,” who despise divine judgments. Moreover, men acting against the piety of divine religion not only despise divine judgments, but also deny them or assert that they are unjust. He believed that Job was one of them, and so he says, “and he walks with evil men,” who cast aside the piety of divine religion. He show why he asserts that he consents with them saying, “For he said: A man will not please God even if he has run with him,” even if he had follows him in the way of justice. Job did not say this, but Eliud takes his words in a sense they were never intended to impute this charge to him. For Job had said, “My feet followed his steps,” (23:11) and later, “You have changed into someone cruel in my opinion and you persecute me with a heavy hand.” (30:21) From these words he concluded that Job thought that he was displeasing to God, even though he had followed him, but Job referred these words to exterior persecution, not to interior reprobation.

Since, then, Eliud abused the words of Job and was eager to impose on him what he himself did not think or had not expressed in his words, it is clear that the whole subsequent discussion was not against Job. Yet since Eliud thought Job was of such great perversity that he reckoned the judgment of God to be unjust, he scorned him as unworthy to challenge him to a dispute on this subject, but calls on other wise men to decide the question, and so he says, “Therefore, prudent men,” you who understand, “hear me.” For as the heart is the principle of corporeal life, so the intellect is the principle of the whole intellectual life, and so he used the heart above for the intellect saying, “I have a heart just like yours.” (12:3)

In his argument Eliud first proposes what he intends to prove, namely, that there cannot be injustice in divine judgment. For God is himself the one to whom the worship of piety is due, and through his omnipotence he governs all things, establishing for men the laws of justice. Therefore it would be against his divinity if he were to favor impiety, and so he says, “Let impiety be far from God.” It would also be against the rule of his omnipotence if he would stoop to injustice, and so he says, “and (let) evil (be far) from the Almighty.” After he rejects divine injustice, he shows the manner of divine justice saying, “For he will render the work of a man to him,” because he bestows good and evil on him according to his deeds. Since some of those who do good things do them better than others, and some of those who do evil deeds sin more than others, he then says, “and he will render to each one according to his ways,” to those who are better, better things; to those who are worse, worse things.

He proves there is no injustice in God first from the fact that if God were unjust, one would not find justice anywhere, since the universal judgment of all men pertains to him, and so he says, “What other has he constituted on the earth?” as if to say: Is it to be believed that someone was constituted by God to judge all the earth justly if he is evil? Thus he says that one should not believe there is someone else to judge the earth because the same person is the maker and the governor of the earth. So, just as he did not commit the making of the world to anyone else, so he did not give the governing of the world to anyone else, and he expresses this saying, “Or whom did he place over the world which he has fashioned?” as governor of the whole world. He implies the answer is “No one,” because just as he has fabricated the world by himself, so also he himself governs and judges the world by himself. True he has executors of his government like ministers, but he himself is the orderer of all. It is not possible for the governing of the whole world be unjust in any way.

Second, he shows by experience that there is no violence or evil in God. For so great is his power by which he conserves things in being, that if he should wish to use violence against his justice, he could immediately annihilate all men. So he says, “If he (God) should turn to him (to destroy man) his heart (his will) his spirit (his soul) and breath (the life of the body supported by the soul) he will draw to himself,” separating it from the body by his power. This agrees with the last chapter of Qoheleth, “And the Spirit will return to God who gave it.” (12:7) When the spirit has been taken away which was divinely given to man, the consequence is that the corporeal life fails, and so he says, “All flesh will be destroyed together,” for the species of flesh will cease, and will be resolved into its component parts. So he then says, “and man will return to ashes,” as Psalm 103 says, “You take back their spirit and they will fail and will return to dust.” (v. 29) He calls the dust into which flesh is dissolved ashes, either because among the ancients the bodies of the dead were dissolved to ashes by being burned with fire, or because those things into which the dead body is dissolved are a certain residue which springs from the natural heat in the human body. Since, then, it is so easy for God if he wills to reduce the whole of the human race into ashes, it appears from the conservation itself of man that he does not use unjust violence with them.

Since Eliud thought these arguments were sufficient, he invites Job to their consideration when he then says, “If then you have an intellect,” to understand the power of my arguments, “hear what is said,” with the exterior ears, “and,” with interior attention, “perceive the voice of my eloquence,” to recognize the justice of divine judgment. He induces him to avoid harming himself or do something to help himself when he says, “Can one who does not love judgment be healed?” as if to say: You who need healing, because you are crushed by many illnesses, cannot be healed unless you love the divine judgment. He rejects Job’s opinion which he thought was about the injustice of the divine judgment using many evident indications of divine justice, and so he says, “How can you condemn the one who is just,” God, as this appears in many things, “to such a degree,” that you say he is a subverter of justice. He commends divine justice by first assuming that God does not respect the persons of the powerful, but he accuses them and punishes them for their sins. Among human powers, royal power is preeminent, and as to this he first says, “Who (God) says to the king: Apostate!” because he is not afraid to accuse a king of apostasy from his oath in which he promises he will preserve justice. In the second place he puts the generals of armies, about whom he says, “who calls army leaders wicked,” as if to say: He is not afraid to accuse them of cruelty. In the third place he puts the rulers of cities when he says, “who does not discriminate in favor of the princes,” so that he does not accuse and judge them for their sins. In the fourth place he speaks about tyrants who do not enjoy legitimate authority, but have usurped power, and as to them he says, “he did not know (approve) the tyrant (by deferring to him) when the he (the tyrant) disputed against the poor man,” as if to say: He does not favor the strong against the weak, which expresses his justice. He then says why he does not defer to them, “for they are all the work of his hands,” both great and small, and therefore he does not despise the little people but loves them as his own works, nor does he fear the strong, since they are subject to his power.

To answer the possible objection that God only accuses the powerful and does not punish them further, he continues with their twofold punishment. First, death overcomes them unexpectedly, and so he says, “They will die suddenly,” as Isaiah says, “Suddenly, when it is not expected, his grief will come.” (30:13) For if death overcame them in the usual way as expected, this would not be attributed to divine judgment, but to secondary causes. Second, he places the punishment of the rebellion of their subjects, through which they lose power, and so he says, “and in the middle of the night the people will be moved aside,” for the peoples subject to princes and kings suddenly swerve by some hidden plot to revolt against their leaders, and so he says, “and they will pass away.” changing lordship, “and they will take away,” they will depose from rule or even kill, “the violent man,” i.e. he who bore violence to his subjects by despising justice, “without the aid,” of armed men. For when a prince is deposed by foreigners, he must have an armed force against him, but when his own subjects in whom his whole power consisted suddenly desert him, he seems that he is born away without an armed band. Although even this can refer to the punishment of the peoples, the first interpretation is better because he speaks now about the justice which God exercises over the great, and then he will speak about the justice which God exercises towards peoples. (v.24) He shows that punishments like this are caused by divine judgment when he says, “For his eye,” which is the foresight of divine providence, “is on the ways of men,” on their works. He then expresses the idea that God knows each and every one of the particular details of human actions saying, “and all their steps,” all the processes of human works, “he considers,” not just in general but individually.

Someone could believe that since God is light and the wicked are in darkness that they are hidden from God, but he excludes this saying, “There is no darkness,” of ignorance, “nor shadow of death,” which refers to the obscurity of fault leading to death, “where those who do evil can hide” as if to say: Just as they did not want to know God so God does not want to know them. Yet it is said as a reproof that they do not know. Since he had said that princes die suddenly and are dispossessed for their sins (v.20), (which seems to be an irremediable punishment), he then shows the reason for this from the fact that when God judges a man for his sins and finally condemns him, the ability is not given to a man that he can further contend the judgment with God. He expresses this saying, “No more,” after God has judged and condemned him “there is the ability in man that he should come to God in judgment,” as though God should retract his judgment on his account. He seems to say this especially against Job who, after he had been condemned to punishment, had said above, “I will come to his throne and I will place my case before him.” (23:3)

The Second Lesson: God punishes the People

24 He will destroy many without number and he will make others take their places. 25 For he knows their works and for that reason he will bring about the night and they will be destroyed. 26 He strikes them as evil men in the place of those who see, 27 who have departed from him almost on purpose and did not wish to understand all his ways, 28 so that they cause the cry of the poor to come to him and he heard the voice of the poor. 29 For if he grants peace, who will condemn him? If he hides his face, who will contemplate him? 30 And over the people and all men, he makes a hypocrite reign because of the sins of the people. 31 Since then I have spoken about God, I also will not prohibit you. 32 If I have erred, you teach me. If I have spoken evil, I will not add anything further. 33 Does God seek it from you, because you were unhappy. For you began to speak and not I. If you know something better, speak. 34 Let intelligent men speak to me, and let a wise man hear me. 35 Job has spoken stupidly and his words did not show discipline. 36 My Father, let Job be tried even to the end, do not desist from testing the man of iniquity. 37 who, in addition to all his sins, adds blasphemy. Let him be bound among us meanwhile and let him provoke God by his speeches at the judgment.

There are two reasons why men especially deviate from justice. The first is because they defer to important persons. The second is because they defer to the majority against justice. He had shown already (vv. 18-23) the perfection of divine justice in that God did not defer to important people, and so now as a consequence he shows it does not defer to the majority of people who are sinners either. So he says, “He will destroy many,” sinners, by killing or punishing them in other ways. To preclude one from believing that divine justice goes out to some determined quantity of the multitude and does not go further he then says, “without number,” as if to say: Those whom the justice of God destroys because of sins cannot be contained in a determined number. Against the opinion that the human race perishes utterly from this he says, “and who will make others take their places,” since others take the place of those who have died, and others are raised up for those losing prosperity, to preserve in this way a certain stability in the human race. Usually when many must be punished the judges cannot examine the cases of each one with great care. Lest this be believed about God, he says, “for he knows their works,” what each one deserves. Therefore, he gives to each one according to his works, and so he says, “for that reason he will bring about the night,” that is, sudden and unexpected adversity, “and they will be destroyed,” unexpectedly.

He shows why they are destroyed in the night from the fact that although they could see what they must do, they despised it, and therefore, it is just that they are not given the ability of foreseeing the evils threatening them to provide against them. He expresses this saying, “As evil men,” who reject the knowledge of piety, “he has stricken them,” who live “in the place of those who see,” which is the state in which they can see, both by natural reason and by sacred doctrine, what must be done and what must be avoided. But they themselves have rejected this and so he says, “who have departed from him almost on purpose,” from God in sinning from certain malice. He therefore posits that there is affected ignorance in them when he then says, “and they did not wish to understand all of his ways,” the commandments of God, and so it is clear that they are not excused because of ignorance but because they are more worthy of condemnation. He shows the effect of affected malice of this kind adding, “or cause the cry of the poor to come to him,” as if to say: They show themselves to be so ignorant of the ways of God that they oppress the poor whom God hears. So just as they do not shudder in horror at the oppression of the poor, in the same way they do not fear the anger of God, and so he says, “and he hear the voice of the poor,” as if to say: They trivialize the fact that God shows his will is to hear the poor.

Since Eliphaz had attributed the grief of many men to divine judgment, someone, however, could think that the fact that a great number is destroyed and others prosper was not a result of divine judgment, but a result of some powerful prince who governs or attacks them. So to exclude this he says, “For if he grants peace, who will condemn him?” as if to say: Therefore I say he is the one who “destroys many without number.” (v.24) For if he willed to grant them temporal peace and prosperity there is no one who can condemn the multitude, and visa versa, if he intends to condemn it, there is no one who can grant peace. So he says, “If he hides his face,” by taking away the presence of his consolation, “who will contemplate him,” who can find consolation in him as if by seeing his beauty?

There is another punishment of the multitude besides grief in which the dominion of tyrants afflicts them. He expresses this punishment saying, “And over people and all men,” as if to say: He exercises his judgments through grief or oppression of tyrants not only in one nation, but also to everyone. He then says about the oppression of tyrants, “he makes a hypocrite reign because of the sins of the people,” who are afflicted under his regime. In this he seems to answer the question which Job had proposed, “Why do the wicked live? Why have they been comforted and raised up with riches?” (21:7) For he asserted that this was not because of their own merits, as Job had proved in the same place, but because of lack of merit of others who are punished as a result of their prosperity.

Therefore, after he shows there cannot be injustice in God, and that his justice is especially manifest by the judgments which he exercises on princes and the multitude, he gives Job a chance to answer. So he says, “Since, then, I have spoken about God,” in those things which concern the honor of God, “I also will not prohibit you,” and give you a chance to respond. He shows in what direction his answer should go saying, “If I have erred,” as you imputed to your other friends, when you said that they were “cultivators of false dogmas,” (13:4) “you teach me,” the truth that I can be free from error. One can be mistaken in speech not only by erring against the truth of doctrine, but also in a particular judgment against the truth of justice, and so he says, “If I have spoken evil, I will not add anything further,” showing he is ready for correction. Since he thought that Job was gravely disturbed against him, he shows as a consequence that his disturbance is not justified, continuing, “Does God seek it from you?” as if to say: Even if I have spoken evil, you are not bound by God to answer for it, and so you should not be gravely disturbed by this. He says, “because you were unhappy?” through a disordered disturbance of soul. Second, he shows why he should not be gravely disturbed by it, since Job himself had begun his speech with, “Let the day perish and so on.” (3:3) This was the beginning of the whole argument, and so he says, “for you began to speak and not I.” Third, he shows that he should not be gravely disturbed because he also has ability to say what he likes, and so he says, “If you know something better” than what I have said, “speak,” to show my error or evil.

But lest Eliphaz seem to have said this because he doubted his own justice and the truth of his words, he consequently intends to assert that Job lacks both wisdom and understanding, and because of this he judges him unworthy to debate with him. The opponent in a disputation must have the sharpness of understanding required especially to find reasonable ways to prove his proposition. So he says, “Let intelligent men speak to me,” and make objections against me. The other part of the debate belongs to the one answering who must especially have the wisdom required to judge well about the things which he heard and so he says, “and let wise man hear me,” for I am an opponent ready to discuss. He had inferred a defect in these two things in the words Job himself spoke, and so he says, “Job has spoken stupidly,” against wisdom, insofar as he reckoned Job had said something against the righteousness of divine judgment, “and his words do not show discipline,” which is a characteristic of an ordered intelligence. He seems to relate this to the fact that Job asserted that he was just.

Since Job did not recognize those defects in himself, Eliud turns his words to God, requesting that Job be tried to recognize his defects, and so he says, “My Father,” O God whom I think of like a father because of the reverence which I have for you and defend your justice in all things, “Let Job be tried,” let his defect be shown to him through scourges, “even to the end,” until death. He shows the justice of this petition saying, “Do you desist from testing the man of iniquity,” as if to say: His evil merits that the scourges never cease. He says with greater exaggeration, “Who in addition to all his sins,” to the past sins for which he has been scourged, “adds blasphemy,” in saying he is just, but God is unjust. For this he first desires punishment for him in the present, and so he says, “let him be bound among us meanwhile,” with adversities. Second, he implies future punishments, and so he says, “and then,” after he has already suffered temporally, “to judgment,” of future revenge, “let him provoke God by his speeches,” by which he blasphemes against him.

 

CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE: ELIUD CONTINUES HIS DISCOURSE

The Lesson: Man’s Deeds are not Indifferent to God

So Eliud spoke again: 2 Does your reflection seem reasonable to you when you say: I am more just than God? 3 For you said: Good does not please you nor what does it profit you if I sin? 4 That is why I will answer your discourses and at the same time those of your friends. 5 Look up to heaven and see and contemplate the upper air because it is higher than you. 6 If you sin, what harm will you do against him? 7 If your iniquities are multiplied, what will you do against him? Further, if you act justly, what will you give him? Or what will he receive from your hand? 8 Your impiety will harm man who is your fellow creature and our justice will help a son of man. 9 They will cry out because of the great number of their calumniators and they will wail because of the strong arm of the tyrants. 10 And Job did not say: Where is the God who made me? He who gave his poems in the night. 11. He who teaches above the flocks of the earth, he teaches more than the birds of heaven. 12 They will cry out and he will not hear because of the pride of the wicked. 13 For no is vain will God hear, and the Almighty regard the causes of each man. 14. Even though you have said: He does not consider, be judged in his presence and await him. 15 for now he does not unleash his fury nor does he take vengeance on a crime exceedingly. 16 So Job opens his mouth in vain and multiplies words without knowledge.

After Eliud had rejected the words of Job, because by his estimation Job imputed evil to divine judgment, he now intends to reproach him for saying that he was just. So the text says: “So Eliud spoke again,” for he had interrupted his speech and waited to see if Job would answer. When he did not, Eliud took up his discourse again saying, “Does your reflection seem reasonable to you when you say: I am more just than God?” Job had never said this, and Eliud did not impute to his that he used these words, but that the words which he did say originated in this reflection, and so he clearly makes mention of this thought. Eliud distinctly says that Job had this intention, “For you said: Good does not please you, (or in another text, “what is right”) or what does it profit you if I sin?” These two sayings are never found in what Job has said, but the first of them, that good does not please God, he seems to find in what Job had said in Chapter Ten, If I am wicked, woe is me! And if I am just, I will not raise my head.” (v. 15) When Job has said this he meant that the just and the unjust are equally afflicted with temporal punishments, but Eliud interpreted him to have almost said that the justice of man does not please God. The second thing he says is, “what does it profit you if I sin?” One can find no text in which Job had said this, but he wanted to take this from what Job had said in the same place, “If I have sinned and you spared me for a little, why do you not allow me to be cleansed from my evil?” (10:14)Job had said this to show that temporal prosperity does not always accompany innocence, for he had been innocent in other respects in the time of prosperity, after he renounced his sins. So there was no reason why after the remission of his sins he should again be cleansed from sins by God. But Eliud twisted these words around as though Job held this opinion: that God had brought in his sin and the punishment of sin because of his own utility. From these two things: that God was not please with what is good and that he considered sin useful to him, it seems to follow that Job was more just then God since he had said about himself that evil displeased him and good please him. (v. 31)

He concludes from this that he is compelled to answer because of their absurdity, and so he says, “That is why I will answer your discourses and at the same time those of your friends,” who could not convince you when you said such things. He begins from what he had said last, showing that God cannot be helped or harmed by our good and evil works, and this is so because of his high character. He proposes this first saying, “Look up (look into) to heaven,” which is the throne of God. (cf. Is. 66:1) “And see”, with sight, “and contemplate”, with mind, “the upper air”, all the higher bodies, not only of its height of this order, but also its magnitude, its motion and its beauty,” because it is higher than you”, so much so that your works cannot help or harm it. So he says, “If you sin”, against yourself or God, “what harm will you do him?” as if to say: He will suffer not detriment from this. As to the sins which are committed against one’s neighbor, he then says, “and if your iniquities are multiplied”, by which you unjustly wound your neighbors, “what will you do against him?” as if to say: In no way will he be injured by this. As to the goods which are done to one’s neighbor, he then says, “Further, if you act justly”, giving what is due to your neighbor, “what will you give to him?” as if to say: What will he gain from this. As to the works of divine worship, he says, “Or what will he receive from you hand”, in sacrifices and oblations? He implies the answer is, “Nothing”, as Psalm 49 says, “I will not accept calves from your house.” (v. 5)

One could object that God did not care whether man acts justly or unjustly. To answer this he then adds, ”Your impiety will harm man who is your fellow creature”, because he can receive harm: and your justice will help a son of man,” who needs the help of justice. This is why God prohibits impiety and commands justice, since God cares about men who are helped or hurt by this. Oppressed men cry to god against their oppressors from this fact. Some crush them deceitfully by calumny, and he speaks about these, “They will cry out because of the great number of their calumniators,” those who have been crushed so will cry to God. Some crush others by violence, and he speaks about these saying, “and they will wail because of the strong arm of the tyrants,: for they will weep to God because of the violent power of tyrants. From this we are given to understand that not only does God profit when someone sins, but that sin displeases him and he punishes it, otherwise the oppressed would cry out in vain.

Then he turns himself to rejecting the other thing Job said, “what is right does not please you,” (v. 3) which is repugnant to divine wisdom. Surely this wisdom first appears in the creation of things, and so he says, “And Job did not say,” because he does not think that good things pleased God, “where is the God who made me?” For God made things only for the good, as we read in Genesis, “God saw that it was good, etc.” (1:25) Therefore, it is clear that good pleases God. Second, he brings in the benefit of human instruction by which some men are instructed for good by divine revelation, and so he says, “He who gave,” by revelation, “his poems,” the doctrines of human instruction, which were understood many times by the ancients as epics, “in the night,” (literally, in the dreams of the night) or in the quiet of contemplation or obscurity of vision. He would not have instructed men familiarly for good unless good pleased him. Third, he brings in the infusion of natural light by which we discern good from evil by reason, in which we are higher than brute animals, and so he says, “He who teaches us above the flocks of the earth,” which lack reason. Since the ancients consulted the chatter and motions of the birds who seem to almost be instructed by God and act like reasoning beings, he excludes this saying, “he teaches more than the birds of heaven,” which also do not have reason.

Since God hates evil and good pleases him, he hears the oppressed when they cry out, and does not hear the oppressors. So he says, “They will cry out,” i.e. calumniators and tyrants seeking the fulfillment of their desires from God, “and he (God) will not hear.” He does this, “because of the pride of wickedness,” according to Psalm 101, “He regarded the prayer of humble men.” (v. 18) So that one does not believe that God hears all people indiscriminately he says, “For not in vain,” without reason, “will God hear,” because he hears some and not others for a very just reason. He expresses this reason saying, “and the Almighty will regard the causes of each man” in that he hears the worthy but not the unworthy. God especially does not seem to see the causes of individuals because the wicked sometimes prosper, but to disprove this he says, “Even though you have said,“ i.e. when you reflected in your heart, “He (God) does not consider,” the deeds of men, “be judged in his presence,” prepare yourself to submit to his judgment, “and await him,” the future judgment, even if he does not punish you here. For he delays that he might punish more harshly later, and Eliud he adds, “For now,” in the present life, “he does not unleash his fury,” the great extent of his punishment, “nor does he take great vengeance on a crime,” i.e. he does not punish in the present according to which the gravity of fault demands. For the punishments of the present life are for correction and therefore he reserves for future damnation those whom he judges unworthy of correction. This is another reason why the wicked prosper in this world and he agrees with the opinion of Job about this. But since he took Job’s words in a evil sense, he therefore rejected them, concluding from what he had said, “So Job in vain (without reason) opens his mouth, “rejecting his lengthy discourse, “and multiplies words without knowledge.” In this he accuses him of ignorance and useless verbosity.

 

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX: GOD ALONE IS JUST

The First Lesson: The True Meaning of the Sufferings of Job

1 And Eliud continued and said: 2 Bear with me a little while and I will show you for I still have something to say on behalf of God. 3 I will take up my argument from the beginning and my Maker I will prove just. 4 For truly my discourses are without deceit, and I will show you perfect science. 5 God does not cast out the powerful, because he is powerful, 6 but he does not save the wicked and he grants right judgment to the poor. 7 He does not take his eyes away from the just. And he places kings of the throne for all time and they are raised up. 8 And if they were in chains and were bound with the bonds poverty, 9 he will show them their works and their crimes because they were violent. 10 He will also open their ears to correct them, and he speaks to turn them from evil. 11 If they listen, and they observe it, they will complete their days in good and their years in glory; 12 but if they do not listen, they will pass away by the sword, and they will be consumed in their foolishness. 13 Pretenders and knaves provoke the anger of God, and they will not cry out when they have been bound. 14 Their soul will die in torment and their life among effeminate men. 15 He will snatch the poor man from his anguish and he will open his ears in tribulation. 16 Thus he will save most amply from the narrow mouth which is without foundation beneath him. The rest of your table will be full of fat. 17 Your cause has been judged as evil; and you will receive the cause and judgment. 18 Do not let anger master you so that you oppress someone nor let a great number of gifts make you waver. 19 Lay down your greatness without tribulation and all the strong with your courage. 20 Do not lengthen the night so that the peoples rise on your behalf. 21 Beware that you do not fall into evil: you began to pursue this after your misery.

Eliud presented two things in the words of Job again which he wanted to argue: first, the fact that he said he was just and the fact that he accused God of injustice in his judgment, according to the interpretation Eliud had given the words of Job. Eliud had disputed against these two ideas above. (cc. 34 and 35) Now for a second time he intended to argue against the same ideas using another argument and so the text says, “And Eliud continued,” with arguments supporting the ones already used, “and said,” what follows. First, he gets his attention saying, “Bear with me a little while,” because he intends to dispute briefly against the two ideas in one answer, and so he says, “and I will show you,” the truth of the thing about which we are treating. He does not want to seem redundant because he seems to have shown already what he wanted [cc. 34 and 35], so he then says, “for I have something to say on behalf of God,“ as if to say: I still have other arguments at hand with which I can defend the justice of divine judgment. Since he intends to introduce reasons a second time against both of these ideas, he says, “I will take up my argument from the beginning,” for against everything which has been said from the beginning, I will again adduce arguments which support my opinion. He shows this is his duty saying, “and my Maker,” God who made me, “I will prove just.” I will show there is no evil in his judgment which you, Job want to charge him with so that you may assert that you are just. He precludes someone saying that what he was about to say did not proceed from true science, but false opinion saying, “For truly my discourses are without deceit,” for I will not say anything but what is true and accords with true knowledge. So he says, “and I will show you perfect science,” the following proofs will convince you because they seem to come from perfect science.

After these introductory remarks he begins to discuss the arguments already adduced by Job. First he argues against the fact that Job had said that he was just. To disprove this he proceeds in this manner: Job had enjoyed great power in the time of his prosperity. Powerful men sometimes menace others who either from envy or from fear are afraid that they will be crushed by their power. This is properly the lot of the weak, who both envy the powerful and fear their oppressions. But this cannot be said about God, who excels all in power, and so he says, “God does not cast out the powerful because he is powerful.” Therefore one can understand that God hates nothing in man in which man is similar to him, because since God is the very essence of good, there cannot be anything like him unless it is good. From this it is clear that God does not persecute certain men because they are powerful, but because he sometimes finds evil in them, and for this God punishes them. So he says, “but he does not save the wicked,” that is, he damns them. He shows the cause of this damnation saying, “and he grants right judgment to the poor,” because he passes judgment on evil powerful men in favor of the poor who have been oppressed by them. He does not desist because of power from the assistance of the just, and so he says, “He does not take away from the just,” even the powerful man, “his eyes,” the gaze of his goodness and mercy, according to Psalm 33, “The eyes of the Lord are on the just.” (v. 16)

Since he does not take his mercy away from the powerful if they are just, he shows the benefits which he confers on the powerful. First, he confirms their power, and so he says, “And he places kings on the throne for all time,” if they have been just. Second, he shows it since he promotes them to greater dominion, and so he says, “and they,” placed on the throne, “are raised up,” for they are exalted to greater things when God increases their power and wealth. Third, he manifests it because even if they are punished for their sins, he has mercy on them if they wish to do penance, and so he says, “and if the (the kings) were in chains,” placed in prison, “and were bound with the bonds of poverty,” if they suffered poverty when they were tied up in prison. This is like a chain which binds men so that they cannot fulfill their work and they are more confined by many miseries besides. Yet to those who have been so constituted in unhappiness, God first confers this benefit of recognizing the past sins for which they have been punished, and so he says, “he will show them their works,” for he will make them know what they have done which is unjust. So he continues, “and their crimes,” because he will force them to recognize that the works which they did were criminal acts. He shows then what their sin was, saying, “because they were violent.” For the special sin of the powerful is to inflict violence on their subjects, using their power like the law of justice. Not only does he force them to recognize their past sins, but he also shows them that they are punished for these sins, and so he says, “He will also open their ears,” that is, he will make them understand that God speaks to them in punishing them. Therefore they are punished because of their sins, and so he says, “to correct them”, as if to say: He will make them recognize that God punished them to correct them. Further he will persuade them to do penance, and so he says “and he speaks,” interiorly or by exterior admonition, “to turn them back from evil,” by doing penance for their past sins. He shows the fruit of this penance when he says, “If they listen,” taking it to heart, “and they observe it,” completing it with works, they will be brought back to their former state and so “they will complete their days in the good,” of virtue and earthly prosperity, “and their years in the glory” of the earth. “But if they do not listen, “if they do not obey this interior inspiration to do penance, “they will pass away by the sword,” because they will be led to prison to be killed by the sword, “and they will be consumed,” destroyed “in their foolishness”, because of their foolishness. Here consider that in this Eliud seems to agree with the friends of Job that present adversities are punishments for sins and that through repentance one returns to his former state. Although this sometimes happens, this does not always happen according to the opinion of Job.

Since men sometimes suffer adversities even though their sins are not apparent, he wants to preclude his previously cited opinion being dashed to pieces by this fact. So he interprets them to be pretenders because they make a pretense of justice which they do not have, and are clever inasmuch as they use certain things to do injustice under the guise of justice. In this they sin more gravely. So he says, “Pretenders and knaves provoke the anger of God,” since God detests this even more. Such men do not do penance easily even in time of persecution because they think themselves just since they are praised by others, and so he says, “they will not cry out” begging mercy from God, “when they have been bound,” with the chains and bonds of poverty. In this he gives us to understand that he thought Job was a pretender and knave and thus he should recognize his sin in the punishments he was experiencing. Because such men do not do penance in their punishments, they are not freed from adversity, and so he says, “Their soul will die in torment,” since they suffer diverse agonies even to death, “and their life” will fail, “among effeminate men,” who do not have the power to free themselves from the hand of their oppressors. He rightly compares pretenders to effeminate men because men make pretensions from meanness of soul. People who are magnanimous do everything in the open as Aristotle says. Since he had said that God helped the powerful in tribulation, he does not want to seem to say that God is a respecter of persons and so he shows that he confers the same benefit also on the poor. He expresses this saying, “He will snatch the poor man from his anguish,: by freeing him from adversity. He shows the order of liberation saying, “and he will open his ears in tribulation,” for he will make him understand that he is punished for his sins and he leads him to do penance as he has already also said about the powerful.

He applies what he has said already in general to the person of Job (vv.5-12). First, since he has said that God brings salvation to both the poor and the powerful in tribulation (vv. 8 and 15), he concludes that even Job can hope for such salvation from God when he says, “Thus he will save you most amply from the narrow and gaping mouth,” from the tribulation which is a narrow hole by which man enters into a wide range of different miseries. For one evil becomes for man the cause of many different evils, and the multiplication of evils of this kind can proceed to infinity so that he never arrives at a state of rest. He expresses this saying, “which is without a foundation,” on which a man can rest, “beneath him,” when he has descended to the depths of evil. This seems especially to express the punishments which occur after death, which last perpetually without any respite. He not only promises him freedom from evils if he will be willing to recognize his sin and repent, but also a great quantity of goods, and so he says, “The rest at your table will be full of fat,” as if to say: You will be able to eat abundantly in safety and in peace of the good things which will be restored to you by God.

Since he has shown that “God does not cast out the powerful,” (v. 5) but the wicked, whereas Job seemed to be cast out by God through many adversities, so he says, “Your cause has been judged as evil,” as if to say: You were not punished because you were powerful but as a wicked man. Against this he promises him a reward if he will repent and so he says, “you will receive the cause and judgment, “for the cause and judgment will be restored to you so that you can investigate the cases of others and judge on them. As though this had already happened, he warns him now to bear himself in this situation. Judges sometimes deviate from justice because of anger, and as to his he says, “Do not let anger master you so that you oppress someone,” unjustly, when then “you will receive the cause and judgment.”

Judges also sometimes deviate from justice because they are greedy for graft, and he expresses this saying, “not let a great number of gifts make you waver,” in that new situation of authority. Sometimes someone denies justice to others just from pride alone, and expressing this he says, “Lay down your greatness,” the pride of your soul, “without tribulation,” before God sends you a trial for your humiliation. Judges also deviate from justice at times when they defer to powerful men through fear, and expressing this he says, “and all the strong with your courage,” whom you pull down with your own strength. Or this can mean do not hesitate to pull down men however strong they may be in their power through your justice. Sometimes, judges lack justice for the sake of their own comfort and so he says, “Do not lengthen the night,” that is, do not permit the justice of a cause to be hidden for a long time but immediately bring the truth to light, and he shows the reason for this when he says, “so that the peoples rise up because of them,” strong men, as if to say: Do not defer your judgment in such a way that the whole populace is stirred up by the violent action of the powerful and come to disturb you because of their wrongs. Or this can mean something else, “Do not lengthen the night so that the peoples rise up for them,” as if to say: Do not defer to exercise judgment against the strong lest perhaps they find by their power many partisans who rise to their defense and impede your judgment. All these things tend to this conclusion; To avoid injustice in the state of future prosperity. So he says, “Beware that you do not fall into evil,” in one of these ways or others. Job could say that this warning was superfluous because he was accustomed to diligently strive after justice, for he had said this in Chapter Twenty Nine (v. 14), and so Eliud adds, “you began to pursue this (evil) after your misery,” because you reckoned yourself more just than God. Therefore, you must take care not to turn to injustice if you happen to return to the state of prosperity.

The Second Lesson: Hymn to the Almighty

22 Behold, God is preeminent in his power and no one is like him among lawmakers. 23 Who will be able to examine his ways? Or who dares say to him: You have done evil? 24 Remember that you are ignorant of his work about which men sang. 25 All men see him, each one beholds his from afar. 26 Behold, that great God, who surpasses our science; the number of his years cannot be counted. 27 He bears the drops of rain and pours out showers like torrents 28 which flow from the clouds and cover everything from above. 29 If he wills to unfold the clouds as his tent and to make lightening with his light from above, even the roots of the sea he will cover. 31 Through these he judges the peoples and he gives food to many mortal men.

After Eliud rejected the words of Job in which he had said he was just, he here rejects his words because he believed he had spoken against the justice of divine judgment. So he first proposes the sublimity of divine power when he says, “Behold God preeminent in his power,” for he has a higher power than everything else. It is against reason that someone who wields less power should convict a greater authority of injustice. Second, he proposes God’s authority when he says, “and no one is like him among the lawmakers,” because “those who make laws discern what is just” through his wisdom, as we read in Proverbs 8:15. So there is no law which can condemn him for injustice, but rather his wisdom is the rule and measure of all laws. Third, he proposes the incomprehensibility of his works when he says, “Who will be able to examine his ways,” that is, sufficiently search the nature of his works? From this he concludes that he cannot be convicted of injustice, and so he says, “Or who dares to say to him: You have done evil?” To be able to condemn someone for evil, he just be subject to a higher power. He must both be bound by the laws of others and his deeds must be known. These have no place in God, as has already been established. (cf. vv. 22-23)

He begins as a result to show clearly that man cannot examine the ways of God, which are his works, saying, “Remember that you are ignorant of his work about which men sang.” These are the wise, whom he calls men because of the strength of their souls. He says, “they sang”, because of the ancient custom of the wise who represented divine and philosophical things in verse. No matter how some wise men may be, they cannot arrive at knowing and explaining God’s essence. But all the thought of man and his discourse about God is through his works. For no one lacks wisdom to such an extent that he does not perceive some of the divine workks. Again, no one is so wise that his knowledge is not completely surpassed by the excellence of divine clarity, and so he says, “each one beholds from afar,” that is, human knowledge is very far from the perfect comprehension of the divine essence, both because man can only know him through his works, which are an infinite distance from the excellence of his essence, and because man does not even know his works perfectly. From this he concludes that God exceeds the knowledge of man in his excellence, and so he says, “Behold the great God who surpasses our science,” for God cannot be known by us perfectly not because of some defect in him, as happens in motion and time, but because of his excellence. Someone could object that although we are not able to know what God is, still we can know that God is, which pertains to his duration. He shows that this also exceeds human knowledge saying, “The number of his years cannot be counted,“ since the eternity of his duration cannot be comprehended by the human intellect.

He shows next the magnitude of the works of God which exceed human reason, listing different changes in the air which is sometimes disposed to dryness. Concerning this he says, “He bears the drops of rain,” by preventing it from raining. Sometimes, however, the air is filled with rain, and he describes this abundance saying, “he pours showers like torrents” which flow on the land. Such an abundance of rain seems wonderful if the origin of rain is considered, because so much water bursts forth from the clouds which have no solidity, and as to this he says, “which,” the torrents “flow from the clouds” not because such rain exists in act in the clouds, but because the vapors themselves of the clouds gradually condense into rain. The rain is more wonderful because it is poured over the great expanse of the region and so he says, “and covers everything from above,” so that in places here it rains no part of the land remains unwatered. Then he speaks about the clouds themselves saying, “If he wills to unfold the clouds like a tent,” because the clouds hide heaven which is the seat of God like the seat of some man is hidden in a tent. The lightening proceeds from the clouds because of the collision of the winds, and so he says, “and to make lightening with his light from above.” Sometimes the clouds cover heaven as far as the horizon of some region and seem to enclose the farthest bounds of the sea beneath this, and so he says, “even the roots of the sea he will cover” with the tent of the clouds. He says, “If he wills,” to show that the divine will is the principle of natural works. To will means properly to act for an end, and so he shows the end of these works, “Through these he judges the peoples,” because men are punished by them, “and he gives food to many mortal men,” in the sense that the rains are useful to the fertility of the land which produces food for men.

 

CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN: HYMN TO YAHWEH

The First Lesson: The Wisdom of the Almighty

c.36 32 He hides the light in his hands and he orders the light to return again. 33 He announces it to his friend that it is his possession and he can ascend to it. c.37 1 About this my heart trembled and leapt out of its place. 2 He will listen to the report in the terror of his voice and the sound which proceeds from his mouth. 3 Above all the heavens he examines, and his light surpasses the limits of the earth. 4 After him, the sound will roar, he will roar in the voice of his greatness and one will not investigate when he has heard his voice. 5 God will thunder in his voice wonderfully, and he does great and unsearchable things, 6 he who commands the snow to fall on the earth and the winter rains and the showers of his strength. 7 He has put signs on the hand of every man that they might know his works. 8 The beast will enter its lair and remain in its cave. 9 From the lower part, storms will arise and the cold wind comes from the Arctic. 10 By the breath of God, the ice increases; and very broad waters flow. 11 The clouds desire the grain and clouds pour out their light. 12 The clouds circle over everything, wherever the will of the governor leads them, to every place he commands them on the face of the land, 13 on one tribe, or in their own land, or in whatever place of his mercy he orders them to be found.

Eliud had spoken above (36:27-30) about the changes in the atmosphere: drought and rain, as a result of the covering of the clouds from which God produces lightning from his light. Now he treats in an extended manner about the light itself, which is sometimes hidden by the clouds and is sometimes seen, and the thunder which arises from the clouds. He begins with the light saying, “He hides the light in his hands,” for as an effect of his power he sometimes hides the light of the sun and the stars by clouds. But since this obscuring is not permanent, but only temporary, he adds, “and he orders the light to return again,” when the clouds go away. Or these words can referto the darkening and illumination of the air by the rising and setting of the sun. One must remember that sensible things are a kind of sign of intelligible things, and so we come to the knowledge of intelligibles through sensible effects. Among all the sensible effects the most spiritual is light. So light leads more efficiently to knowledge of intelligibles, inasmuch as sight, whose experience of knowing is perfected by light aids intellectual knowledge most. Since, then, that sensible light is hidden from men and communicated to them by the power of God, Job gives us to understand by this that in him there is a more excellent kind of light, i.e. a spiritual light, which God reserves as a reward for men for virtue. So he says, “He announces it,” the light which is metaphorically represented by physical light, “to his friend,” the virtuous man, whom God loves, “that it is his possession,” that this spiritual light is a treasure which God reserves for his friends as a reward, “and he can ascend to it,” when he merits it by the works of virtue and prepares himself to possess it. However, one can also explain this about corporeal light. For the Platonists posited that the souls of men were derived from the souls of the stars. Therefore, when human souls guard their dignity by living according to reason, they return to the clarity of the stars from which they descended, and so one reads in the Dream of Scipio that “rectors and guardians” of cities, “set out from here,” i.e., from heaven, “and return here.” In this he gives us to understand that he does not put the ultimate reward of virtue in temporal goods, but in spiritual goods after this life. Now this is the most wonderful thing that earthly and corruptible man is advanced to the possession of spiritual and heavenly things, and so he says, “About this,” that man can ascend to possess the light, “my heart trembled,” from the fear of wonder and astonishment, “and leapt out of its place,” so that it not only desires and eagerly strives after those things seem connatural to iy according to the sensible life, but also is transported to spiritual and heavenly things.

After sight which is the knowledge of corporeal light, comes hearing which especially serves the intellect because by it one perceives the voices which express intellectual conceptions. Moreover, just as by the vision of corporeal light man is led to the knowledge and expectation of some higher light, so also by the hearing of corporeal sounds, formed by divine power, man is led by the hand to hear the spiritual doctrine of God, and so he says, “He (man) will hear,” from God, “the report,” of spiritual doctrine, “in the terrible sound of his voice,” in the image of thunder, which is like the terrible voice of God. He explains this report saying, “and the sound which proceeds from his mouth,” for the sound of physical thunder seems formed by his hand, that is, his power; but the sound proceeding from his mouth is the teaching of his wisdom, according to Sirach, “I came forth from the mouth of the Most High.” (24:5)

To preclude the error that God does not have another light higher than the corporeal light of heaven, he says, “Above all the heavens he examines,” as if he should say: His vision is not below heaven but above it. Moreover, one can only see something in some light, because, “everything which is clear is light.” (Eph. 5:13) So the light of God must necessarily be more excellent than the corporeal light which is first found in the heavens, and so he says, “and his light,” the intelligible light, “surpasses the limits of the earth,” for it is superior to every corporeal creature. Just as the material light of heaven is below him, so also the sound of material thunder is beneath him, and so he says, “After him,” that is, under him, “the sound will roar,” of material thunder. Moreover, he has another spiritual voice, the teaching of wisdom, which is incomprehensible to man. He speaks about this when he says, “he will roar in the voice of his greatness,” the voice which teaches his greatness, and not all hear this voice as they hear the sound of corporeal thunder. Those who in some way do hear his voice cannot comprehend it, and so he says, “and one will not investigate,” perfectly, “when he has heard” i.e. known spiritually by some man, “his voice,” the teaching of wisdom.

But the voice is not only ordered to the teaching of men who hear it, but also to the perfection of natural works which happen following the command of divine wisdom. Therefore, he repeats a second time, “God will thunder in his voice,” in the command of his wisdom, “wonderfully,” by producing wonderful effects, and to express this he then says, “and he does great,” according to their nature, “and unsearchable things,” by human reason. He begins to list them and says, “he who commands the snow,” by the voice of his wisdom, “to fall on the earth,” because the snows are formed by his command, as are the rains and showers, and so he says, “and to winter rains,” which abound in winter, “and the showers of his strength,” which are formed by some more violent cause and with the impulse of the wind. Since everything which happens in lower things is somehow or other ordered to man, he says, “he has put signs on the hand of every man that they might each know his works.” For different dispositions of the air correspond to the different works of men. One is the work of the night, another the work of the day, and man does one work in time of good weather and another in rainy weather. Man discerns what work corresponds to each time, according to the divine gift of reason. This is the sign that God has placed in his hand, in his operative power of all men to do works so that they may know how to fittingly distribute their tasks according to the diversity of times. That providence extends even to brute animals, who do different things according to different times by natural instinct, and so he says, “The beast will enter its lair,” in rainy weather, “and will remain in its cave,” for a fitting time.

Then he shows the effects of the different winds. On this subject one must consider that the South winds produce the rains and storms. North winds cause cold air. Southern winds come to us from the direction of the South Pole, which is unknown to us, because it is sunk down beneath our horizon by the same distance as the North Pole is elevated above our horizon, and so he says, “From the lower part, storms will arise,” as if to say: A storm comes to us by a wind which proceeds from the part of heaven which is always extended down under our horizon, and this wind is called the South Wind. As to the North Wind he says, “and the cold wind comes from the Arctic.” For “Arktos” in Greek means the Northern Hemisphere, from which the name “Arcturus” comes for the constellation of Ursus, which is always elevated above the horizon. The northern wind comes from this direction and causes cold because the sun is farther from that part of heaven. He attributes this to divine wisdom saying “By the breath of God, ice increases,” as if to say: When he causes the wind by blowing, the north wind, which causes the icy chill, arises. “And again,” from the breath of God which causes the south wind “very broad,” that is, very abundant, “waters flow.” These are the rains which are caused by the south wind.

He relates these effects to the usefulness for men saying, “The clouds desire grain,” as if to say: The clouds are ordered to grain as an end for which they are useful. Each thing desires its own proper end, and accordingly he says the clouds desire grain, because clouds are certainly useful for grain. Or, the reason the rains descend from a cloud and water the earth is to make it fertile for the production of grain. Or it is also useful for clouds to cover grain and shade it sometimes so that the grain does not dry out from the unremitting heat of the sun. He adds another useful feature of the clouds when he says, “and the clouds pour out their light,” which can refer either to the light of lightning flashing according to what he already said in the preceding chapter, “If he wills to extend the clouds or to make flash with his light.” (36:29) Or this can more refer to the light which shines in the air from the suns rays reflected off the clouds and mixed with them in some way. So the brightness of the sun appears in the air before the rising of the sun and also after its setting because of the reflection of the rays of the sun from the clouds which are in a higher place, which the solar rays reach more quickly and leave more slowly.

After he has discussed the usefulness of the clouds he describes their movement saying, “The clouds circle over everything.” For the clouds do not stop above only one part of the earth from which the vapor has risen, but by the force of the winds they are carried to different parts of the earth. The winds generally follow the motion of the sun like some great circle and so East winds blow in the morning, then the southerlies come, and finally towards the evening, westerly winds. So the clouds move in a circle as a consequence of this. To show that this proceeds from divine providence he says, “Wherever the will of the governor (God) leads them,” since the clouds do not always reach every part of the heavens, but sometimes this one and sometimes that one as God disposes them. The clouds cause a variety of effects, for example, rains, snow, hail, thunder, and the like. Just as the movement of the clouds over the earth depends on divine disposition, so also the effects caused by the clouds depend on this disposition and so he says, “to any place where he commands them on the face of the land,” as if he said: The effect the clouds produce on the earth depends on divine precept. Since he had above said, “wherever the will of the governor leads them,” (v.12) he explains this saying, “on one tribe,” because clouds sometimes appear clouds appear in one region and not in another, as Amos says, “I have rained on one city and do not on another.” (4:7) This happens in two ways, because sometimes clouds appear in the same region where the vapors are generated. This happens when from the power of the wind the vapors are not moved to remote places. As to this he says, “or in their own land,” i.e., the land of the clouds where they were formed. Sometimes they are moved to another region, and as to this he says, “or in whatever place of his mercy he orders them to be found.” For God provides clouds and rain to a region at the right time, and especially to hot climes when rain is rare from his great mercy.

The Second Lesson: Eliud Completes his Praise of God

14 For listen, Job, stand and consider the wonderful things of God. 15 Do you know when God commanded the rains and they show the light of his clouds? 16 Do you know the paths of the clouds, the great and perfect science? 17 Are not your garments hot when the Southern wind has blown on the earth? 18 Have you perhaps made the heavens with him, which are solid like bronze after fusion? 19 Show us what we should say to him, we who to be sure are enveloped in darkness. 20 Who will tell him what I am saying? Even if he speaks, he will be devoured. 21 But now they do not see the light. The air will be suddenly compressed into clouds and the wind when it passes will chase the clouds away. 22 Gold will be produced by the North wind and the fearful praise from God. 23 We cannot find him worthily, and he is great in might, judgment, and justice, he cannot be explained. 24 Therefore, men will fear him and they will not dare to contemplate him, all those who seem themselves to be wise.

After Eliud told the many marvels of divine works he now attacks Job who seemed to accuse God of injustice when he could not yet understand his works, and so he says, “For listen, Job,” to what I am saying about the grandeur of divine works. “Stand” in rectitude of mind, “and consider,” by your own self, “the wonderful things of God,” which are shown in his works. Among those wonderful things he begins with the rains. Men perceive them sensibly, but science still cannot understand their first origin by which God brought them into being and so he says, “Do you know when God commanded the rains,” which falls upon the earth by divine decree? After it has fallen, the air, which was first dark from the density of the clouds becomes bright by rarefaction. So he says, “and they,” i.e. the falling rains, “show the light of his clouds?” which means the light of the sun shining through the clouds which vanish and which the dense clouds hide. He speaks about their motion saying, “Do you know the paths of the clouds?” namely, how and from what cause they are propelled to various regions by the breath of the winds? The knowledge of clouds is the source of knowing all atmospheric changes- for example, winds, rain, snow, hail, thunder, and other like thing; and so he says, “great and perfect science?” They are great because the phenomena are formed on the higher body, perfect because the knowledge of the clouds includes all knowledge of these phenomena previously cited and the effects which follow from them in these lower bodies. Since the clouds are driven by the winds, he consequently adds the effect produced by the wind saying, “Are not your garments hot when the South wind blows on the earth?” For the South wind, makes the air warm because it comes from warm regions. From this heat, the garments of a man can make him hotter. Thus he clearly mentions the action of the South wind because when it comes from below the equator and gathers water vapors together it condenses them into clouds and moves them. But the North wind, which comes from above more disperses the clouds.

Since the power of the heavenly bodies operates in all these kinds of effects, he therefore proceeds next to the heavenly bodies, and so he says, “Have you perhaps made the heavens with him?” In this metaphor he expresses the causality of God over the heavenly bodies. For just as an artisan is the cause of his work, so God is the cause of the heavenly bodies, yet in two different ways. For an artisan produces an artifact from a preexisting matter; but the celestial bodies cannot be produced from preexisting matter, but in their production the matter came to be at the same time as their form. To distinguish the higher heavens from the heavens which are called the atmosphere he adds, “which are most solid like bronze after fusion.” Remember that there are certain bodies among us which yield under pressure and can be penetrated like air and water and things of this sort. Some, however, do not yield to pressure nor can they be pierced, like stones and metals. So to show that the higher heavens are not divisible or permeable like air and water, he compares them especially to bronze, among other metals, because men used it most frequently in technology.

Lest Job perhaps should presumptuously say that he knew the works of God perfectly, he continues mockingly, “Show us what we should say to him,” as if to say: If you are so wise that you know all the works of God and you can argue with him on this subject, teach us so that we can answer him. He shows they need this when he says, “We who to be sure are enveloped in darkness,” as if to say: We need you very much to show us what you said before because we are completely ignorant of them. Since he had spoken many times about the divine effects, lest this be imputed to him from presumption as though he thought that he knew perfectly these things, he disclaims this saying, “Who will tell him what I am saying?” as if he says: No one can sufficiently tell these things which I said to you about his effects. It befits him alone because of the excellence of his power. If anyone raises himself up to such presumption that he thinks he speaks about God sufficiently, danger would threaten him by that very fact, and so he says, “Even if a man speak,” as though willing to understand the divine effects, “he will be devoured,” as if swallowed up by the greatness of the matter about which he speaks, as Proverbs says, “He who investigates majesty will be crushed by glory.” (Prov. 25:27) This can also be interpreted in another way. Not only is man not fittingly able to list the divine effects, but, “even if he (God himself) speaks,” to them by revealing them to man, “man would be devoured,” unable to understand such a great thing, and so we read in John, “I have many things to say to you which you are not able to bear now,” (16:12) and in Deuteronomy, “What is flesh that it should hear the voice of the living God.” (5:26)

But to preclude one from believing that the knowledge of divine truth must be withdrawn from man forever he says, “But now,” in the present time, “they (men) do not see the light,” which is the clarity of divine knowledge. Yet he proclaims to the friend of God that, “he can ascend to this light” at some time as he already said. (36:33) He introduces a comparison for this, “The air will be suddenly compressed into clouds,” because of the grouping together of water vapors from the South, and because of this the air is darkened. But darkness of this kind passes away after a little while when the clouds have been broken up, and so he says, “and the wind, when it passes,” i.e., the north wind, “will chase the clouds away.” By this he means: In this way, although now he is enveloped in the darkness, yet when death comes, it will put this darkness to flight like the changing of the wind.

Sometimes shiny objects are discovered in dark places. The Northern region is called dark because of its distance from the sun, and yet much gold is discovered in Northern regions which is one of the most glittering metals. This is caused by heat withdrawing deep into the inner bowels of the earth, because of the chill of the all-encompassing air, it works more efficaciously there to produce gold,, and so he says, “Gold will be produced by the wind,” as if to say: Gold is more plentiful in the part of the earth blown by the North wind. Just as in the darkness of the Northern region one finds the brilliance of gold, so also in the darkness of the ignorance of this life one finds some of the brightness of divine knowledge, though darkly, and so he says, “and fearful praise from God.” For if nothing of divine clarity shone in us, we could in no way praise him. Even more, if the divine truth shone clearly to us as the noon day sun, we would praise him carelessly. But since something of the divine light shines in our knowledge with some darkness, we praise him with dread, as a man does something with dread which he knows he cannot do perfectly. So he says, “We cannot find him worthily,” so as to come to know him as he is through our own investigation. This is because of his excellence, and so he says, “he is great in might,” for his power infinitely exceeds all his effects, and so he cannot be fittingly found through them. He answers the objection that God uses only violence because of the greatness of his power in governing man saying “and with right judgment,” for he is great, because, “His judgments are incomprehensible.” (Rom. 11:33) Nor is this due to a lack of justice, but to the excellence of his justice. and so he says, he is great in “justice”. Because of his greatness we can neither sufficiently conceive him with our mind nor sufficiently praise him with our mouth, and so he says, “and he cannot be explained,” fittingly by man. This is the reason why his praise is dreadful, and so he then says, “Therefore men”, no matter how powerful they are, “will fear him” because of the greatness of his power, “and they will not dare to contemplate him,” i.e., presume to know him fully, “all those who seem to themselves to be wise.” He says this clearly because the wisdom of a man, however great it may seem to himself or to others, is as nothing compared to divine wisdom.

We should consider from the arguments put forth by Eliud that he agreed partly with Job and partly with the friends. He agreed with Job (c. 7 and 14:11) because he believed the reward of good men and the punishment of evil men will be in the future afterlife. (32:22) But he agreed with the friends of Job (33:27) because he believed that all the adversities of the present life happen in return for sins, and if one repents of his sins he will return to prosperity. He also agreed with the friends of Job as to the person of Job himself, (36:18) because he thought that he had been punished for his sin, and that the justice which appeared in him at first was a pretense. He interpreted the words of Job wrongly (33:10) as did the others. As to the prosperity of evildoers in this world, he alone touches on this cause: that they prosper because of the sins of others. (34:30) In the same way he alone also seems to clearly touch on the angels as the mediators between God and man. (33:23)

Job did not answer his arguments, first, because he agreed with him in his principal dogmas in which the friends, whom he had called, “cultivators of false dogmas” were in error (13:10) What Eliud said about his person was not of such great concern to Job that he wanted to argue with Eliud because of it especially because he could not prove the purity of his conscience with any better arguments than he had already used, namely, by divine witness. Second, [Job did not answer] because from youthful presumption, in the manner of quarrelsome people, words which he had not said or which he had meant in a different way than Eliud had interpreted them. Therefore, to avoid quarrelling, he determined that he should rather be silent and commit the question to divine judgment.

 

CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT: GOD RESOLVES THE QUESTION

The First Lesson: What Can Man Understand?

1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 2 Who is that man who envelops his opinions with inept arguments? 3 Gird up your loins like a man. I will question you and you answer me. 4 Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding, 5 who determined its measurements, if you know it? Or who stretched the measuring line upon the earth? 6 On what were the bases of the land sunk or who has laid the cornerstone 7 when each of the morning stars praised me, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8 Who shut up the sea with doors when it burst forth as though coming from a womb, 9 when he laid out the clouds as its clothing, and I wrapped it in fog like the swaddling clothes of an infant? 10 I surrounded it with my limits and placed the bar and the doors. 11 And I said: Thus far shall you come and you will not proceed further and here shall your proud waves break. 12 After your rising, did you command the dawn and have you shown the dawn its place?

After the discussion of Job and his friends about divine providence took place, Eliud had assumed to himself the office of determining the answer, contradicting Job in some things and his friends in others. But because human wisdom is not sufficient to understand the truth of divine providence, it was necessary that this dispute should be determined by divine authority. Since Job thought correctly about divine providence, but in his manner of speaking he had gone to excess that he had caused scandal in the hearts of the others when they thought that he did not show due reverence to God, therefore, the Lord, as the determiner of the question, contradicts the friends of Job because they did not think correctly, (42:7) Job himself for expressing himself in an inordinate way, (v. 3ff. and Eliud for an inadequate determination of the question. (v.2) So the text continues, “The Lord answered Job,” because this answer was more on his account, although he had not spoken immediately before. Then he shows the manner of response saying, “out of the whirlwind,” which can certainly be understood according to the literal sense to mean that the voice of God was formed miraculously in the air by some disturbance of the air, as happened on Mt. Sinai in Exodus 20:18, or like the voice which spoke to Christ, which some said, “was like a clap of thunder,” as one reads in John 12:29. Or this can be understood metaphorically, so that this answer of the Lord is an interior inspiration divinely given to Job himself, and so the Lord is said to have answered him, “out of the whirlwind,” both because of the disturbance which he still suffered and also because of the darkness which accompanies a whirlwind, since we cannot perceive divine inspiration clearly in this life, but with the darkness of sensible likenesses, as Dionysius says in chapter I of The Heavenly Hierarchy. The Lord indicated this if he had made his voice sensibly heard from a corporeal whirlwind.

Once a dispute has been determined by the opinion of the judge, nothing else remains to be said unless the statement of the determination is rejected. So the Lord first rejects the determination of the question which Eliud had made. He rejects it because Eliud had enveloped the true opinions which he had proposed with many false and frivolous words, and so the text continues, “He said: Who is that man who envelops his opinions with inept arguments?” In his arguments Eliud had accused Job of saying he wanted to dispute with God and said that he was just do vigorously that he seemed to detract from the justice of the divine judgment. But Eliud enveloped these opinions with many presumptuous and even false statements, as should be clear already, which are called here inept arguments because every lack of order proceeds from a defect of reason.

So after the Lord rejected the determination of Eliud, he himself begins to determine the question. First, he gets Job’s attention when he says, “Gird up your loins like a man,” which here is used as a metaphor. For men usually gird up their loins in preparation for a journey or some work. The Lord therefore wanted Job to be ready to consider what he said to him by removing every impediment. So he clearly tells him to gird up his loins, because loins metaphorically mean carnal desires which block spiritual attention in a special way as Isaiah says, “To whom will he teach knowledge, and whom will he make understand what has been heard? Those who have been weaned from milk, those taken from the breast.” (28:9)

First, he begins in his determination to accuse Job for seeming to have spoken presumptuously when he provoked God to discussion. Since Job seems to have given God two options when he said, “Call me and I will answer you, and let me speak and you answer me,” (13:22) and as Job had already said enough, the Lord, as though he choosing the second alternative, says, “let me speak and you answer me.” God certainly does not question to learn, but to convince man of his ignorance. He questions Job about his effects which are accessible to the experience of the human senses. When a man is shown to be ignorant of these, he is much even convinced that he does not have knowledge of the higher realities. Among other sensible effects he begins to ask about the principle parts of the earth. Of these earth is more known to us because it is more immediate to our experience. He begins to ask him about this and says, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” He rightly compares the earth to a foundation because as a foundation is the lowest part of a building, so also the earth is the lowest of bodies and it lies under everything. Since the earth is the principal matter of the human body, matter precedes in time that which is made from it, and even more the plan of the artisan who puts together the matter precedes it. So he clearly says, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth,” as if to say: You cannot know the plan of the foundation of the earth, because when the earth was laid on its foundation you did not yet exist in the nature of things.

Consider that some of the ancients did not attribute the position of the earth and of the other elements to some ordering plan, but to material necessity, according to which the heavy elements sank under the light ones. So to disprove this opinion, the Lord as a consequence compares the foundation of the earth to the foundation of a building. This foundation is constructed from the plans of the architect. In the same way the foundation of the earth was made according to divine providence, which human intelligence is not capable of understanding fully. He makes this clear when he says, “Tell me, if you have understanding,” as if to say: Therefore, you cannot indicate the reason for these things because your intelligence is not capable of grasping them. Consider that an artisan puts four things in order in the foundation of a building. First, he orders how large the foundation ought to be. In the same way, divine reason has disposed how great a quantity the earth should have, and not larger or smaller. He expresses this saying, “Who determined its measurements,” in all its dimensions. He clearly says, “determined,” for the shape of the earth does not require a certain quantity by necessity, but this quantity was only imposed on the earth from divine reason, which man cannot know. So he says, “If you know it,” since man cannot know or tell this. Second, an artisan puts in order in his plan the determination of the site of the foundation, which he encompasses by the extension of the measuring line, and so he says, “or who stretched the measuring line upon the earth?” This means the plan of divine government which clearly determined the place for the earth in the parts of the universe. Third, after the artisan has determined the size of the foundation and where it is to be located, he determines on what the foundation can be solidly laid. As to this he says, “On what were the bases,” of the land, “sunk,” because it was founded on the center of the world. Fourth, after thinking through these three things, the artisan now begins to lay the stones in the foundation. First, he lays the corner stone to which the different walls are aligned. As to this he says, “or who has laid,” put down, “the cornerstone,” on which the very center of the earth is clearly determined, according to which the different parts of the earth are aligned.

A man usually lays the foundation of a building because he needs a place to live. But to show that God does not lay the foundation of the earth from need, he adds, “when each of the morning stars praised me,” as if he should say: Although heaven whose stars praise me is my dwelling, yet I founded the earth, not because I need the servants who live there, but from my will alone. He does not say this as though heaven was made before the earth, especially as we read in Genesis, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth,” (1:1) Whereas the text says that the stars which he mentions here were created on the fourth day. (Gen. 1:14) But Genesis says this to show that in the order of nature heaven and the stars are prior to the earth as incorruptible to corruptible and mover to moved. He says the “morning stars,” i.e. ones newly created, as we call morning stars the ones which usually appear at the beginning of the day. The fact that the morning stars are said to praise God can be understood materially in one way, inasmuch as they were the material of divine praise in their brightness and nobility. If not to men, who did not exist yet, they were so at least for the angels who already existed. In another way, according to those who say the heavenly bodies have souls, the stars in the beginning of their institution praised God, not with vocal, but with mental praise. This can even refer to the angels whose ministry is to move the heavenly bodies, as the text continues, “and all the sons of God shouted for joy,” which refers to the angels of the highest hierarchy, whom Dionysius says are located in the entrance court of God. Therefore, as he clearly attributes praise to former stars as to the lower angels, but he attributes shouting for joy to the latter as to the higher angels, because this connotes a kind of excellence in praise.

After the foundation of the earth, he continues then speaking about the waters which are immediately placed over the land. The natural order of the elements requires that water surrounds the earth at every point like air surrounds earth and water at every point. But by divine disposition, it has been effected for the generation of men, animals, and plants, some part of the land remains uncovered by the waters, as God holds back the waters of the sea within their certain limits by his power, and so he says, “Who shut up the sea with doors,” with determined limits. There were some who thought the action of the sun dried up some part of the earth, but the Lord shows that it has been disposed from the beginning that the sea does not cover the land everywhere. He describes the production of the sea using the comparison of the birth of a living thing, a child, because water is especially apt to be changed into living things. This is why the seed of all things is moist. The child first comes forth from the womb of its mother, and he means this when he says, “when it burst forth as though proceeding from the womb.” He uses the word “to break forth” because it is a property of water to move almost continually. He says the sea proceeds, “from the womb,” not because it has had its origin from other corporeal matter, but because it proceeded from the hidden origin of divine providence as from the womb. Second, a newborn child is dressed, and expressing this he says, “when he laid out the clouds as its clothing.” For since the clouds are born from vapors released from water, clouds are much more numerous in maritime places. Third, a child who is born is wrapped in swaddling clothes, and expressing this he says, “and I wrapped it in fog like the swaddling clothes of an infant.” The fog does not mean those water vapors raised up or condensed in the clouds, but darkening of the air on the face of the sea, and perhaps he alludes to what Genesis says, “and darkness covered the face of the abyss.” (Gen. 1:2)

After he posits these things which express the primordial production of the sea, he explains his conclusion as if he said: When the sea was newly made, then, “I surrounded it with my limits.” He posits three things which pertain to the boundary of the sea. One of these is shown when he says, “within my limits,” that is, those placed by me. The second is when he says, “I placed the bar,” and the third when he says, “and doors.” These three things pertain to the rule of divine power, and so he explains them in this way, “and I said: Thus far shall you come,” which pertains to the nature of boundaries, i.e. for a boundary the farthest extent of motion, “and you will proceed no further,” which pertains to the bar by which one’s progress is blocked, “and here shall your proud waves break.” This pertains to the gates which are placed for the purpose of not allowing entrance or exit at random, but according to a determined measure. Thus even the sea does not change its shore at random, but according to the determined measure of the ebb and flow of the waves.

After the land and the water, he proceeds on to the air, which, according to appearances, is joined to heaven. The first disposition common to the whole body which stretches over the waters and the land is the variation of night and day, which happens from the motion of the day which is first of movements. Therefore, he says as a consequence, “After your rising did you command the dawn?” as if to say: Do day and night succeed each other on this earth by your command? For dawn is a kind of boundary between day and night. He clearly says, “After your rising,” as when he spoke about the earth before he had said, “Where were you?” (v.4) For just as the earth is the first material principle of man, so also the highest heaven, which varies night and day by its motion is the first principle of the human body among corporeal causes. Consider that the clarity of the break of day or the dawn is diversified according to the diverse degress of the intensity of signs which accompany the sun, because when there is the sign of a quick rising, in which the sun rises immediately, the dawn lasts only a little while. When the sun shows signs of a delayed rising it endures longer. The measure of place is determined out of which the brightness of the daybreak begins to appear when the sun is rising there, and expressing this he then says, “and have you shown the dawn its place?” as if to say: Have you ordered the places in the heaven from which the dawn will gives its light? He implies the answer, “No”. From all these things you can understand that your reason fall short of the comprehension of divine things, and so it is clear that you are no suited to dispute with God.

The Second Lesson: God’s Marvels on Earth, in the Sea and the Air

13 Have you taken hold and shaken out the ends of the earth and have you shaken wicked men out of it? 14 The seal will be opened like clay and will stand like a garment. 15 Their light will be withheld from the wicked and their upraised arm will be broken. 16 Have you entered into the depth of the sea, and have you walked in the valley of the deep? 17 Have the gates of death opened to you and have you seen the dark gates? 18 Have you considered the expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know everything, 19 in which path does the light dwell? And where is the place of darkness, 20 to lead to each of its limits and understand the paths to its home? 21 Did you know where you were born then? And do you know the number of your days? 22 Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you inspected the storehouses of the hail? 23 These things which I have prepared for a time of the enemy the day of battle and war. 24 By what path does light scatter, and is heat divided on the earth? 25 Who gave a course to the very violent rainstorm and the way of sound to thunder 26 to rain on the land in an uninhabited desert, where no mortal man lingers. 27 To rain on the steppes and the desolate earth and to produce green plants. 28 Who is the father of the rain or who generated the drops of the dew? 29 From whose womb did the ice come forth and who has given birth to the hoarfrost falling from heaven? 30 The waters harden like a stone and the surface of the deep is frozen 31 Will you be able to bind together the flickering stars of the Pleiades? Or will you be able to break the circle of Arcturus? 32 Will you bring forth Lucifer at its time and can you make the evening star rise over the sons of the earth? 33 Do you know the order of heaven, and will you be able to establish their plan upon the earth? 34 Will you lift up your voice in a cloud and will the rapid movement of the waters cover you? 35 Will you send the lightening and will it go forth, and upon its return will it say to you: Here we are?

After the Lord has enumerated the principle parts of corporeal creatures, that is, earth, sea, and sky, he begins here with the marvels of divine works which appear in the ordering of these three parts of the world just mentioned. He begins with the earth in which what happens in earthquakes seems to be especially wondrous. He speaks about this metaphorically in the figure of a man who takes some object and shakes it. So he says, “Have you taken hold,” i.e., have you grasped with your power, “and shaken out the ends of the earth?” This must not be interpreted to mean that the whole earth is shaken at once in an earthquake, but that some extremities are shaken. Everything which happens in the corporeal creature redounds to the usefulness of man. Earthquakes and other such terrible things are useful in that man, being terrified, may desist from their sins, and so he says, “and have you shaken wicked men out of it?” He speaks here using the comparison of a man who shakes a garment to shake dust or a moth out of it. So also God seems to shake the earth to shake sinners out of it, sometimes by death, and sometimes by a changed life.

In an earthquake some things are usually uncovered, like walls and things of this kind, and he expresses this saying, “The seal will be opened like clay.” For clay, when it is divided, easily returns to the same condition, and so also a seal, for example, on a wall or something of this sort, which has been changed by the opening of the wall, is sometimes restored to the same place by divine power. Sometimes towers, trees and other things of this kind are shaken by an earthquake and do not fall, and as to this he says, “and will stand like a garment,” which does not lose its original shape after it is shaken out. But on the contrary sometimes men die either buried by the earth or even crushed by walls falling in an earthquake, and so he says, “their light will be withheld from the wicked,” by death. Sometimes fortifications and very strong towers are cast down by an earthquake, and as to this he says, “and their upraised arm,” is broken that is, a very strong fortification or some powerful friend in whom a man confides like his own arm.

After these premises about the earthquake and its effects, he proceeds to the disposition of the middle element, i.e., the sea, where man believes there are marvelous things hidden. First, those things which are in the depths of the sea, for example, the habitats of the fish living in the sea, and as to this he says, “Have you entered into the depths of the sea,” so that you know the animals which are hidden there? Another thing which seems hidden and marvelous in the sea is the disposition of the ocean floor, and as to this he says, “and have you walked in the valley of the deep,” that is, in the deepest part of the sea?

After the disposition of the land and the sea he proceeds to the disposition of heaven under which air is contained. He lingers a little longer on this because of the many marvelous things which appear there. First, he considers the disposition of the light and the darkness which embraces the whole of the higher body in common. Consider that the heavenly bodies act through their own light on lower bodies. This is so because light is like the active quality of the heavenly bodies, like cold and heat of the elements. Therefore, he connects the effects of the heavenly bodies on those lower things with the consideration of light and darkness. Among the other effects of the heavenly bodies on lower bodies, the most common is generation and corruption. and from this he begins saying, “Have the gates of death opened to you?” For death is the corruption of a living body, and so it properly belongs to the man to whom the present discourse is addressed. But the gates of death are the causes of corruption in relation to the powers of the heavenly bodies, which are the primary powers through which one proceeds to such an effect. It is very difficult to know the period of life and the permanence of each thing, and so the gates of death are not open to us because we cannot know in the heavenly bodies the proper cause of the corruption of each thing. Darkness fittingly describes death both because in death man (who experiences knowledge by means of light) is deprived of corporeal sight, and also because man after death passes into oblivion as into a kind of darkness. Therefore he says, “and have you seen the dark gates?” He may be understood to be calling “the dark gates” because it is proper to death which before he had called the gates of death. Or “dark gates” can be referred to another action of the heavenly bodies, which is the darkness of the atmosphere, so that what he said about the gates of death is referred to only living bodies, but what he said about the dark gates may refer to transparent bodies.

He continues about the diversity of heat and cold around the earth saying, “Have you considered the expanse of the earth?” Consider here that according to the astronomers the longitude of the earth is from East to West, and the latitude of the earth from South to North, because in everything the greater dimension is called length and the lesser dimension called breadth. We know by experience that the dimension of the earth which is inhabited is greater from the East to the West than from the South to the North. Thus the latitude of the earth is measured from South to North in which progression one measures the difference of heat and cold. For the nearer one approaches the South in our populated world, the hotter the place is because of nearness to the sun. Thus what is said about the latitude of the earth can be referred to the diversity of hot and cold places.

When he has said these things about the action of heavenly light on lower bodies, he mentions the light itself when he says, “Tell me, if you know everything,” so that you are fit to argue with God who knows everything, “in which path does light dwell?” Consider here that light is found in the heavenly bodies of the world, which are called luminaries because of the fact that they are vessels of light. But since a path refers to motion, the question of the path in which the light dwells refers to the motion of the luminaries. Exactly how the luminaries move exceeds human knowledge, which is shown from the different opinions of men concerning their motions. Some assert that they move by eccentric movement [not having the axis in the center] and epicycles, others by the motion of the different spheres. So just as the movement of the luminaries causes light as they move in the upper hemisphere, so also darkness proceeds from their motion as they are moved in the lower hemisphere, this also presents the same difficulty, and so he says, “and where is the place of darkness.” One cannot measure the motion of a body perfectly unless the path that it follows is know since magnitude is measured by motion and motion by magnitude, as Aristotle says in IV Physics. Therefore, since the path of motion of the luminaries cannot be known by man for certain, the consequence is that the measure of their motions cannot perfectly be known either, and so he says, “to lead each,” i.e., the light and the darkness, “to its limits,” by showing the reason for the appearance and disappearance of each of the luminaries as to beginning and end and also with respect to their medium. He speaks about this saying, “and do you understand the path to its home,” of the light. For when at noon it reaches its zenith, then it walks the paths to its home, so to speak. Its two termini are in the rising and the setting.

The duration of the lower bodies and the times of generation and corruption are measured according to the motion of the heavenly bodies, as Dionysius says in Chapter IV of The Divine Names. Therefore, when one is ignorant of these causes, one consequently does not know the effects, and so he says, “Did you know when you were born then?” as if to say: Could you know the time of your birth in advance by considering the motion of the heavens? You could not know this because before you were born, you did not exist; but also no other man could know this in advance because of the weakness of human knowledge. For God speaks to Job as representing all men. Just as you could not know in advance the time of your birth, so also you cannot know the end of you life in advance, and so he says, “and do you know the number of your days?” as if to say: You cannot know this from the computation of the heavenly motions, whose certain measure you do not know.

After he considers these things about the changeableness of light and darkness, he comes to diverse changes of the air, according to which the air varies as storm or calm. He begins with the snow and the hail saying, “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you inspected the storehouses of the hail?” By the storehouses of the snow and the hail he means the water vapors which have risen up from which snows and hail are generated. But because hail is the heavier substance and is generated in a place closer to us, when cold is expelled to the interior of a cloud by surrounding heat, for this reason when he discusses the hail he desires sight because it is more capable of being seen. When he speaks about snows he talks about entering, because one can penetrate snow more because it is light. God sometimes uses things like this for the correction of men, as we have already seen, “He judges the peoples with these things.” (36:31) So he says, “These things which I have prepared for a time of the enemy,” that is for a time when revenge must be taken on enemies. God uses these things against them like the arms of war, and so he says, “in the day of battle,” that is, actual conflict, “and war,” that is, wars in which one prepares for combat.

After a storm of snow and hail ends, a calm follows in which warm and clear air is prepared, and so he says, “By what path does light scatter?” which expresses the clear air, “and heat is divided upon the earth,” which expresses warm weather. Here we should consider that before when he spoke about light and the luminaries themselves in which light dwells, he mentioned only their path because the light wends its way through the motion of the luminaries, whether in a storm or calm. But clarity and warmth from it only appear to us after the storm ceases. There is no sensible difference of the intensity of the clear air in various lands when the air has been calm, but there is a sensible difference in intensity of heat. Therefore he said that light is scattered as though diffused indifferently, but heat is divided as though distributed differently, befits difference of place.

Next he proceeds to certain aspects of the winds in the air, by which the rainstorm is caused when rain is driven on. So he says, “Who gave the course of the very violent rainstorm?” For the violent course of the rainstorm is caused by the strong impulse of the winds which divine power produces. Likewise, when clouds are set in motion from the winds, this causes thunderclaps, and that is why such a sound is not heard in one place, like the sound of some passing body, and so he says, “and the way of sound to thunder?” He adds the reason why the winds set in motion the rain and the clouds when he says, “to rain on the land of an uninhabited desert,” which cannot be lived in because of the aridity of the earth. Vapors bearing rain arise especially from humid places, and so if the clouds and rains were not set in motion by the winds it would follow that it would never rain in dry places. It happens that some places are sometimes irrigated by human industry, when the rains cease. But this cannot happen there, and so he says, “where no mortal man lingers.” So human technology cannot provide water for that land. Because of this God ordered that the clouds and the rains be set in motion by the winds so that it might rain even in desert places, and so he says, “to rain on,” with rains, “the steppes,” that is the land which no man can cross, “and the desolate earth,” destitute of human care. So only by divine care alone, “to produce green plants,” to beautify the earth and give pasture to wild animals which are also managed by divine providence.

Next he discusses the rains without the wind when he says, “Who is the father?” that is, the efficient cause “of the rain” not from necessity, but from the order of providence which befits a father. For God moves the sun and the other heavenly bodies which are the proximate efficient causes of the generation of the rains. The dew is generated from the same cause as the rain, and only differs from rain in the greatness and smallness of matter, and so he then says, “or who generated the drops of the dew?” He clearly calls them drops to show their small quantity. Consider here that just as rain, when frozen, is snow, so dew, when frozen, is frost,9 and so he says, “From whose womb did the ice come forth?” Here one should note that cold is the cause of ice and is a feminine quality, whereas the cause of rains and dew is the heat which melts and does not permit the vapor to freeze. Heat is a masculine quality, and so he used clearly the name of father for the generation of the rain and dew. However, concerning the generation of ice he used the term womb which pertains to a mother. Cold causes two kinds of ice: one in the air, which pertains to the frost falling from the sky, and so he says, “and who has given birth to the hoarfrost falling from heaven?” an act which he still attributes to a father because the power of cold does not appear to be so great in frost as in more substantial ice. The other kind of ice is generated from the waters below where the cold is more intense, and so he says, “The waters harden like a stone,” because the violent intensity of the cold hardens them to ice. This cold may be so great that in very cold climates even the seas freeze over, and expressing this he says, “and the surface of the deep is frozen,” namely, the water which is on the surface is frozen by the cold. But cold air cannot penetrate to the depths of the sea.

When he has explained these things about the variable changes of the air, he proceeds further to the immutable changeableness of the heavenly bodies. On this subject he first considers the immobility of figure in the fixed stars, because each of them maintains its place so that one does not approach the other too much or too little. This phenomenon especially appears in the stars closer to us which never come together, and so he says, “Will you be able to bind together the flickering stars of the Pleiades?” The stars of the Pleiades are the stars which shine in the head of Taurus, of which six appear very close, but the seventh is more dull. Second, he considers the uniformity of the first motion in the heavenly bodies, by which the whole heaven and all the stars in it revolve once in a night and a day over the poles of the world. This motion is more perceived by the senses in the stars near the North Pole, which are perpetually apparent to us because of the elevation of the pole over our horizon. Among these stars one especially notes the constellation of Arcturus, which is The Great Bear. The stars of this constellation clearly move uniformly in a circle around the pole of the world, and as to this he says, “or are you able to break up the circle of Arcturus,” so that it does not encircle the pole? Third, the motion of the planets seems wonderful among the heavenly bodies. Although completely uniform, our senses perceive some irregularity in this motion. This can be especially observed in the star Venus, which sometimes rises before the sun and then is called Lucifer, the Morning Star, but sometimes sets after the sun and then is called the Evening Star. It is clear that the stars which always move more slowly than the sun begin first to appear in the morning before the rising of the sun, because the sun in its own proper motion moves from the West to the East and leaves them behind, as one can see in Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars. The moon, which has a faster motion than the sun, always begins to appear in the evening as though leaving the sun behind and preceding it towards the East. Venus and Mercury sometimes begin to appear in the morning, sometimes in the evening; but since Mercury is rarely seen and is small in size, its irregularity is less evident. Venus, however, is visible to everyone, and so it clearly sometimes has a faster motion than the sun, sometimes a slower one. From this the irregularity in the motion of the planets clearly is evident, and to show this he says, “Will you bring forth Lucifer,” that is, Venus appearing in the morning, “at its time,” in a determined time, because this variation is always regular. “And the Evening Star,” that is, Venus appearing in the evening, “can you make it rise over the sons of the earth?” Note that in saying, “Will you bring forth,” and, “do you make it rise up,” he means a new appearance of the star. Fourth, the order, placement, and movement in the heavenly bodies seems wonderful, and so he says, “Do you know the order of heaven?”, which man cannot comprehend? Fifth, the disposition of the lower bodies in relation to the higher ones is wonderful, and expressing this he says, “and will you be able to establish their plan upon the earth” so that you know the proper effects of each one of the heavenly causes.

True, the effects of divine power just discussed are very great; yet the greatness is known by the vast majority of ordinary men in them so much as in thunder and lightning, and so he places these effects last. So as to thunder he says, “Will you lift up your voice in the clouds?” For thunder is generated in the clouds and the sound seems like the voice of God. Thunder is often followed by heavy rains because of the condensation of the clouds from the violent movement of the winds from which thunder is caused, and so he says, “and will the rapid movement of the waters cover you?” For heavy rain seems to almost cover God because it hides heaven from us which is called the throne of God. (cf. Is.66:1) He next speaks about the lightning saying, “Will you send the lightning?”, that is, will their motion be by your power? “And will it go forth,” as though obedient to your command? The movement of the lightning often rebounds from one place to another, and he shows this saying, “and upon its return will it say to you: Here we are?”, as though on their return they indicate they are prepared to obey again the divine command, and so go forth again to another place. He relates all these things to show that man cannot attain either divine wisdom or divine power.

The Third Lesson: The Marvels of the Animal Kingdom

36 Who put wisdom in the bowels of man or who gave understanding to the cock? 37 Who told him the reasoned order of the heavens and who will make the harmony of heaven sleep? 38 When the dust was established on the earth and the clods of earth held fast together? 39 Will you take the prey of the lioness and will you fill the soul of her cubs 40 when they lie in their dens and lie in wait in the hollows? 41 Who prepares his food for the crow when her little ones cry out to God stretching out because they have no food?

After the Lord has brought to mind the marvels of his effects concerning the principal parts of the earth, which are the earth, the sea, and heaven, and their ordering, he now goes on to tell the marvels of his works especially seen in the different properties of animals. Among these properties, knowledge is very remarkable, which is found more perfectly in man than in other animals, and so beginning with man he says, “Who put Wisdom in the bowels of man?” By the bowels of man is understood the inmost power of the soul itself, namely, intellect and reason, on which God has conferred wisdom in giving the light of reason to man. For God has infused the seeds of wisdom and science naturally from to his reason in the knowledge of the first principles. In other animals, many indications appear of a kind of natural prudence. This is especially true in the cock, as a known and domestic animal, and so he says, “and who gave understanding to the cock?” Understanding is taken here for a kind of natural estimative power according to which he acts like an intelligent being. According to this, the cock seems to have a certain likeness to intelligence because he breaks forth in song at determined times as though he knew the proportions of the heavenly motions, and so he says, “Who told him”, the cock, “the reasoned order of the heavens?” that is, the proportion of the heavenly motions so that he could discern from this the determined times for crowing. Watchmen usually declare the approach of the day or of other fixed hours of the night by singing or using some other instruments. But one cannot say that some sound is heard in heaven for determining the time and silence at other times so that the cock discerns from this when to crow, and expressing this he says, “and who will make the harmony of heaven sleep?” as if to say: The harmony of heaven is not silent like a sleeping watchman so that from hearing it or from its silence the cock can be instructed to crow. Consider here that the Pythagoreans thought that a harmony of sounds comes forth from the motion of the heavens because of a very fitting proportion of the heavenly motions, and since they posited that celestial bodies had souls, therefore, such a harmony of sounds can be called the harmony of heaven. But Aristotle proves in II De Caelo that no sound comes forth from the motion of the heavenly bodies, and so here we can take this harmony metaphorically as posited solely from the symmetry of the heavenly motions which never cease. This inspired wisdom or intelligence or even this harmony of heaven existed from the beginning of the foundation of the earth, and so he says, “When the dust was established on the earth,” which refers to the position of the earth, placed on the lowest part as on a foundation, “and the clods of the earth held fast together,” which refers to the humidity which holds the parts of the earth together, i.e., so that the land may not return to dust because of its dryness.

Then he goes on to another property of the animals which is directed to the acquisition of food. There is something wonderful about this subject in the lioness. For when the lion needs a lot of food, it seems marvelous how she can capture in one region so much from the prey of animals what is sufficient for herself and her cubs, and so he says, “will you take the prey of the lioness from her cubs,” i.e. will you prepare such a great abundance of prey for her that she will have enough for herself and her cubs, and so he says,” and will you fill the soul of her cubs?” This does not seem very difficult when they range through many different places, but when they stay in the same place, it is difficult either from necessity of feeding the cubs which he discusses saying, “and when they lie in their dens,” or because they are waiting in ambush for some other animals, “and lie in wait in the hollows,” to capture animals.

There is also another wonderful thing observed in the birds as we see in the crow. For one expert says that, “the crow does not feed the chicks when they leave their eggs until she sees their feathers turn dark knowing from their feathers that they are hers.” So she does not give any food to them for seven days, but they are sustained by natural strength given to them by God, and so he says, “Who prepares food for the crow when her little ones cry out to God stretching out?” looking here and there, “because they do not have food,” as though abandoned by their parents. This does not mean that the chicks of the crow know God, but he says this because all natural things in their desire, which is to desire the good, intend in some way to acquire something from God who is the author of good things.

 

CHAPTER THIRTY NINE: GOD CONTINUES HIS DISCOURSE

The Lesson: The Marvels of the Animal Kingdom

1 Do you know the time of the birth of the goats in the rocks, or have you seen the deer giving birth? 2 Have you numbered the months of their conception, and did you know the time of their giving? 3 They crouch to bring forth young and give birth and they bring it forth roaring. 4 Their young separate and they go to pasture, they go forth and do not return to them. 5 Who has let the wild asses go free, and who broke their chains? 6 I have given them a home in uninhabited places and tents in the land of the salt waste. 7 He scorns the multitude of the city, he hears not the shouts of the driver. 8 He ranges the mountains for his pasture and he searches eagerly for green grass. 9 Will the rhinoceros be willing to serve you or will he spend the night in your manger? 10 Will you bind the rhinoceros with your strap to plow or will he break up clods of the earth of the valleys after you? 11 Will you put your confidence in his great strength and will you leave your labors to him? 12 Will you have faith in him to render seed to you and to bring it together on your threshing floor? 13 The wing of the ostrich is like the wing of the falcon and the hawk. 14 She leaves her eggs in the earth and will you perhaps heat them in the dust? 15 She forgets that a foot may crush them or the a beast of the field trample them. 16 She deals cruelly with her young as if they are not hers. She labored in vain, not compelled by fear. 17 For God has deprived her of wisdom, nor did he give her intelligence. 18 When the time comes, she lifts he wings up high; she laughs at the mounted horse and his rider. 19 Will you give the horse his might, and will you clothe his neck in neighing. 20 Will you make him leap like locusts? The glory of his smell is terror: 21 He paws the ground with his hoof, he exults, he proceeds audaciously to the clash of arms. 22 He scorns fear and he does not retreat from the sword. 23 Above him the quiver will sound, the pike will vibrate and the shield; 24 raging and snorting, he sucks in the earth and he does not regard the blast at the sound of the trumpet. 25 When he hears the trumpet, he exclaims: Hoorah! He smells the battle from afar, the exhortations of the commanders and the shouting of the army. 26 Is it by your wisdom that the hawk puts on feathers and expands its wings towards the South Wind? 27 Will the eagle fly high at your command and place his nest in places difficult to reach? 28 He dwells in rocks and he dwells in steep crags and in inaccessible cliffs. 29 From there, he spies food and his eyes behold it from afar off. 30 His young suck up blood and whenever there is a carcass he is immediately there. 31 The Lord fastened his eyes and spoke to Job: 32 Is he who asserts himself with confidence against God so easily stopped? Certainly he who accuses God ought also to answer him. 33 Job answered and said to the Lord: What can I who have spoken thoughtlessly answer? I will place my hand over my mouth; I have said one thing and I would that I had not; another thing, to which I will not add anything further.

The Lord called to mind in what preceded what relates to the cognitive power, speaking about the wisdom of men and the intelligence of the cock. (38:36) He also called to mind the prey of lions and the food of crows, which relate to the nutritive power. (38:39,41) Now he calls to mind certain things relating to the generative power, and he begins to treat the birth of goats and deer in which there is something hidden. For goats are animals small in body who live in rocky places where they also give birth. The access to places like this for men is difficult, and because of this he says, “Do you know the time of the birth of the goats in the rocks?” as if he should say: This is unknown to men because of the severity of the places where they give birth. The deer choose hidden places in which they give birth, where wolves do not usually approach them. Thus to show the hidden character of their giving birth he says, “or have you seen the deer giving birth?” He says this to commend divine providence. For when women give birth they need the assistance of midwives, but in the animals, whose giving birth is hidden from men, God comes to their aid by his providence with what is necessary for them to give birth, in as much as he gives them a natural aptitude to know what they should know in such things. The first of these is to know the space of time in which the fetus is brought to term in the womb, and expressing this he says, “Have you numbered the months of their conception?”, i.e., can you indicate to them when they must prepare themselves for giving birth? So he says, “and did you know the time of their giving birth,” to tell them when they should give birth? In these things women in labor are usually instructed by others, but the animals, which are far from human society, know these things through natural aptitude implanted in them by God, and prepare themselves at a determined time to give birth in the way in which they can most easily bring forth young, and so he says, “They crouch to bring forth their young,” which they bring forth, “and give birth,” by themselves instructed by nature. Still giving birth is not delightful, but painful for them, and so he says, “and they bring it forth roaring,” because of the pain which they suffer in giving birth. Just as the mothers by natural aptitude prepare themselves for giving birth, so also their young by natural aptitude are divinely taught to search for the necessities of life for themselves, and so he says, “Their young separate,” which is not the case with a human child, for a boy who has only been born cannot move himself to leave his mother, but this happens with those animals. As soon as they are born they immediately move themselves, and their first motion is to look for something to eat, and so he says, “and they go to pasture.” But still in the beginning they need to be fed by the mother’s milk, and so they separate from the mother, but still return to her. However, after a little while, when they are stronger, they are completely separated from their mothers, and so he says, “they go forth and do not return to them,” because they do not need to be nursed by them anymore.

When he as said these things which pertain to certain special properties of animals: knowledge, food and giving birth, he treats those things which pertain to conserving their lives as a whole. On this subject the first wonderful thing is that certain animals, when they are domesticated, cannot sustain themselves without the care of man. Yet there are some pertaining to the same species which are wild and govern themselves without the providence of men. This is especially remarkable in the ass who when he is domesticated seems totally given to human service. But asses which are called wild asses are free from this service, and so he says, “Who has let the wild asses (undomesticated) go free,” from human service? When men customarily understand something, it seems to be almost natural to them, and so because men do not customarily see asses except the domesticated kind, they seem to them to be naturally servants. So when a man at times finds a wild ass, it seems to have been freed from service. Things, however, are totally the opposite, for first, animals of this sort were not subject to man in the way they are now. Later they were tamed by human skill and given to the service of man. The mark of the slavery of the asses is the chains with which they are bound, for example, as a bridle, or other things of this sort. As to this he says, “and who broke their chains?”, for wild asses do not have chains of this kind. Domesticated asses also seem to perish if they remain without shelters built by men, but the wild asses have a shelter prepared for them by divine providence, and so he says, “I have given them in uninhabited places,” to which man does not go, “a home,” a cave or cavern, “and tents,” for example, under grass and trees, “in the land of salt waste,” in some land not inhabited because of dryness and the burning of the sun. Here the dampness is turned as it were into the taste of salt. Although a dwelling of this sort seems more neglected and bleak because it is in a waste, still the wild ass prefers it as much as possible to any noble city, and so he says, “He scorns the multitude of the city,” in comparison to the dwelling of the desert. He gives two reasons for this. The first of these is because laborious work is not required of him there, and so he says, “he hears not the shouts of the driver,” i.e. his master demanding that he carry heavy loads or something of this sort. The other reason is because there he wanders more freely in search of pasture, and so he says, “He ranges the mountains for his pasture,” since free access to different places to find his pasture lies open to him, and he receives the pastures themselves at his own pleasure, and so he says, “and he searches eagerly for green grass.” Domestic asses are not given the best pasturage, but often the worst, because the better pastures are reserved for more noble animals.

Just as the ass serves man for carrying heavy loads, and the wild ass finds his habitat in wild places, so also among domesticated animals the ox serves man for plowing because of his strength. He is compared to the rhinoceros or unicorn among wild animals, a very strong and fierce four-footed animal with one horn in the middle of his forehead. This animal, because of his ferocity, cannot be as easily domesticated as the ox, and so he says, “Will the rhinoceros (the unicorn) be willing to serve you,” so that he willingly obeys you like a domesticated animal? Domesticated animals accept their food freely from men, and to show the rhinoceros does not he says, “Will he spend the night in your manger?” prepared to eat what is offered to him by you? Domesticated oxen are fed so that they may be used in the work of plowing. He shows the rhinoceros is not saying “Will you bind the rhinoceros (the unicorn) with your strap to plow,” as one plows with oxen. Men use oxen for other work, to drag a rake to smooth plowable land by breaking up the clods of earth to pieces, and so he says, “or will he break up the clods of earth of the valleys,” which are often more diligently cultivated because of their greater fertility, “after you,” after you have plowed the land? Or “after you,” that is, so that with you preceding, he follows breaking up the clods? Some strong animals are set free to guard the fields against thieves or animals which can devastate the standing grain, as fields are guarded in this way by ferocious dogs, but this cannot be done with the rhinoceros, because he is not domesticated, and so he says, “Will you put your confidence in his great strength and will you leave your labors to him?”, i.e., to guard the fruits of the fields. So you cannot use this very strong animal, either like the ox for plowing, or like the dog as a guard. Likewise, you cannot use him like a strong farm hand to reap the fruits of the earth, and so he says, “Will you have faith in him that he will render the seed to you and bring it together on your threshing floor?”, like a worker does who sows seed taken from his master and gives it back multiplied, when he collects the crops on the threshing floor, and after the threshing brings them to the storehouse of the master.

After he has examined the things which distinguish wild animals from the domestic ones, he treats the properties of some animals which seem to differ from other animals. This is especially true in the ostrich, which is a species of bird very close in genus to beasts. So although she has wings like animals which fly very high, she cannot raise itself up by them to high places, and so he says, “The wing of the ostrich is like the wing of the falcon,” the most noble of the falcons which is called a peregrine falcon, “and the hawk,” which is a well known bird, and both are good for swift flying. There is, however, another property of the ostrich which distinguishes it from other birds, i.e., that she does not hatch her own eggs, but digs in the sand, deposits them there and covers them with sand, and so he says, “she leaves she eggs in the earth.” She has a natural instinct for recognizing hot weather, namely, when the constellation called Virgo begins to appear in the month of July. Then she lays the eggs, and so, thanks to the heat of the season and the place, (because she lives only in hot climates,) the eggs are hatched and the chicks come out of them. So he says, “Will you perhaps heat them in the dust?” He implies the answer, “No”. This happens by divine providence which even incubates eggs in the sand unharmed. The ostrich is naturally a forgetful animal and exhibits no care to preserve her eggs, and so he says, “she forgets that a foot,” of a man passing that way, “may crush them,” the eggs, “or a beast of the field trample them,” either in a chance passing by or in the search of food. Just as she does not care to guard her eggs, so she does not care to nourish her young, and so he says, “She deals cruelly with her young as if they are not hers,” because she takes no care for their nutrition, so, as far as she is concerned, she loses the fruit of generation, and so he says, “she labored in vain,” by conceiving and bringing to birth, because she does not nourish her young. Sometimes other animals also desert their new born young from fear, but the ostrich does this, “without being compelled by fear.” She does this if not because of fear, because of a defect of natural instinct which other animals have for this care, and so he says, “For God has deprived her,” the female ostrich, “of wisdom,” to nourish and govern her young in an orderly way, “nor did he give her intelligence,” by which she has care for her young. Wisdom and intelligence here mean natural instinct. Because he had said already that she has wings like the falcon and the hawk, (v.13) consequently, he shows next what purpose wings serve her saying, “When the time comes,” when some necessity of violent movement presents itself to her, “she lifts her wings up high,” so that although her body cannot be raised to fly by her wings, she is helped by her wings to run more swiftly, and so he says, “she laughs at the mounted horse,” because she runs more swiftly than a horse carrying a man, “and his rider,” of the horse, because she would run more swiftly than a man running on foot.

Just as the ostrich has some properties which differ from other animals and in which he is deficient from other animals, so also the horse has some noble properties by which he differs from other animals. First he notes the strength of the horse when he says, “Will you give the horse his might,” not only strength of body to carry a heavy load, but also of soul to run to dangers bravely? He notes still another property of the horse, that is, he is provoked to libido by his exterior adornment. For it is said of horses that they are driven to intercourse by the adornment of manes, and “Cut the mane and their libido is extinguished.” To show this he says, “Will you clothe his neck with neighing?” For horses usually neigh because of libido, as Jeremiah says, “They became horses loving women and were made messengers, each one neighed for his neighbor’s wife.” (5:8) Thus God surrounds the neck of the horse with neighing when God gives him manes, from which he is provoked to sexual desire. Another property of a horse is his powerful jump which is contrary to the behavior of many quadrupeds, and so he says, “Will you make him leap,” raising him up high, “like the locusts,” which move by jumping.

Another property of the horse is his courage in battles, which he describes at greater length because it is noble and wondrous. He first demonstrates his courage when he already perceives the odor of war from afar, and the text continues, “The glory of his smell is terror,” i.e., when the nostrils of the horse smell the battle, what is a terror for others is perceived by him as a glory to show his greatness of spirit. The sign of this appears immediately in him, which the text describes next, “he paws the ground with his hoof,” to prepare himself to fight. He rejoices interiorly to perceive the coming battle, and so he says, “he exults,” because he senses the opportunity to fight, and he shows this exultation by effect when he says, “he proceeds audaciously to the clash of arms.” Nor is he cast down with fear in the thick of the battle itself, and so he says, “he scorns fear,” and what is more, he is not even put off by the pain of wounds, and so he says, “he does not retreat from the sword.” Loud noise alone is usually enough to terrify most animals, but this does not apply to the horse, and so he says, “Above him the quiver will sound,” that is, full of arrows when it is shaken at the motion of the soldier sitting on the horse. The pike and the shield likewise produce some sound of war, and so he says, “the pike will vibrate,” for a pike makes a noise when it is brandished. A shield also makes a noise when it is moved and struck with arms and so he says, “and the shield,” sounds. But the horse is still not struck with terror by this sound, and so he says, “raging,” from interior courage, “and snorting,” that is, neighing. He calls this a roar which is the sound characteristic of lions (Proverbs 19:12) because of the courage of the horse. He not only shows his interior passion of spirit with his voice, but also with an exterior act, and so he says, “he sucks in the earth,” that is, he seems to suck it in by digging it with his hooves. Not only does the sound of the quiver, the pike and the shield not terrify him, but he is also not frightened by the sound of the trumpet, which is a martial instrument, and so he says, “nor he does he regard the blast of the trumpet,” so that he is terrified by it. Rather, he is said to rejoice at the sound of the military trumpet, and so he says, “When he hears the trumpet, he exclaims: Hooray!” i.e., he shouts in exaltation, for “Hooray” is an exclamation of exultation. Since all these things mentioned express the courage of the horse, he now adds something about his perspicacity saying, “He smells the battle from afar,” that is, while the enemy is still far off he senses by smell that battle is imminent. He almost seems to sense the preparation of battle, when the generals stir up the troops with their exhortations, and as to this he says, “the exhortations of the leaders,” he perceives, “and the shouting,” the confused shouting and uproar, “of the army,” preparing itself for battle.

After he has explained about animals which walk on the earth, he goes on to animals which fly in the air. First, he remarks on the natural aptitude of the hawk, who in molting season stretches out his wings to the South Wind, which is a hot wind, so that with the pores opened he may shed the old feathers and new ones may take their place, and so he says, “Is it by your wisdom that the hawk grows feathers,” that is, when its feathers are renewed, “and expands his wings toward the South Wind,” to molt more easily? He last speaks about the eagle, “who flies higher than the rest of the birds,” and so he says, “Will the eagle fly high at your command,” like he does at mine? For the eagle does this by natural instinct. The whole natural course of things is a kind of motion of the creature according to the command of God, as Psalm 148 says, “Fire, hail, snow and mist, stormy winds that obey his word.” (v.8) Just as the eagle moves high in the sky, so also does he enjoy living in the heights, for this expresses his nobility of nature. So he says, “and place his nest in places difficult to reach,” so that his young, as soon as they are born, become accustomed to dwelling in high places. So he says, “he dwells in the rocks,” as though enjoying the purity of the air, because in rocky places there is not a lot of evaporation, “and he dwells in steep crags,” those to which access is not open to predators, “and in cliffs which are inaccessible,” to man, where his security is provided for. The eagle has very acute vision so that he can see necessary food from a long way off, and so he says, “from there,” i.e., from the high places, “he spies food,” not only near, but also far away, and so he says, “and his eyes behold it far off.” The eagle is a powerful in game like the lion among quadrupeds. To show this he says, “His young suck up blood,” that is, of the living animals which the eagle carries back to the nest. The eagle eats not only live animals, like falcons and hawks, but also the carcasses of dead animals, and so he says, “and wherever there is a carcass he immediately goes there.” In this text he also shows the swiftness of his flight.

All these things have been brought into show the greatness of divine wisdom and power which produces such marvelous effects. We understand that after Job had heard so many wonderful things about the divine effects he was stunned and silent. But the Lord stirs him to consider that man is not fit to dispute with God, and so the text says, “The Lord fastened his eyes,” adding more to these words, “and spoke to Job,” who was silent. “Is he who asserts himself with confidence against God,” who offers to argue with him, “so easily stopped?”, namely, as if he has been vanquished like you who are silent? “Certainly he who accuses God,” in disputing with him about his just judgments, “ought also to answer him.” For it is just that one who provokes another to dispute should also be prepared to answer.

Lest Job seem obstinate in his opinion even though he was proved wrong, he breaks forth in words of humility, and so the text continues, “Job answered and said to the Lord: What can I who have spoken thoughtlessly answer?” Consider here that Job, speaking in the presence of God and his own conscience is not accusing himself of speaking falsely or of a proud intention, for he had spoken from the purity of his soul, but of thoughtlessness in speech. This is because even if he had not spoken from pride of soul, his words still seemed to smack of arrogance, and so from this his friends took occasion of scandal. For one must not only avoid evil things, but also those things which have the outward appearance of evil, as St. Paul says, “Abstain from every appearance of evil,” (1 Thess. 5:22) and so he says, “I will place my hand over my mouth,” so that I will not break forth in words like these about other things. I do penance for these things which I have said, and so he says, “I have said one thing, and would that I had not,” namely, when I said that I wanted to dispute with God, (13:3) “and another thing,” that I preferred my own justice when it was a question of divine judgments. (6:2) He does not acknowledge the third thing which Eliud had reproved him with, i.e. that he said that the judgment of God was unjust. (33:10) For this does not pertain to thoughtlessness in speaking but to blasphemy. So he does penance for thoughtlessness in speech because he proposes to correct this defect, and so he says, “to which I will not add anything further,” so that I utter anything else thoughtlessly.

We should consider that if this discourse of the Lord to Job is not spoken in an exterior voice, but is by interior inspiration, Job is found to have spoken in three ways in this book. First, he represented the affective desire of the senses in his first loud complaint, when he says, “Let the day when I was born perish.” (3:3) Second, he expressed the deliberation of human reason when he disputed against his friends. Finally, he spoke according to divine inspiration when he introduced words from the person of God. Because human reason must be directed according to divine inspiration, when the Lord has spoken, Job reproves the words which he had said according to human reason.

 

CHAPTER FORTY: THE COMMAND OF GOD OVER THE POWERS OF EVIL

The First Lesson: God Strengthens Job in his Weakness

1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 2 Gird up your loins like a man. I will question you and you tell me. 3 Will you make my justice without effect and will you condemn me to justify yourself? 4 If you have an arm like God and if y ou thunder with a voice like his, 5 Deck yourself with beauty and lift yourself on high. Be glorious and clothe yourself with splendid clothing. 6 Scatter the proud in your fury and regarding every arrogant man humble him. 7 Consider all the proud and confound them and destroy the wicked in their place. 8 You will hide them in the decay together and plunge their faces into the ditch. 9 And I will admit that your right hand can save you.

In what he said before, the Lord demonstrated his wisdom and power by recalling the marvelous things which appear in his effects, (cc. 38 and 39) so that he might make clear that no man can contend with God either in wisdom or in power. Here he proceeds further to accuse Job for invoking his own justice, (27:6) which to some sounded like a derogation of divine justice. (Eliud, c.34) Also the text prefaces this speech by explaining the manner of God’s speech when it says, “Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind and said.” He gets his attention saying, “Gird up your loins like a man,” and he demands an answer when he continues, “I will ask you and you tell me”. These things have already been explained (38:1,3) and so I will not explain them here.

Consider that Job in appealing to his own justice, did not intend to impute evil to the divine judgment as his three friends and Eliud wrongly understood. But he intended to show that he had not been punished in revenge for his sins as they reproached him, but to try him as he said already in Chapter 23, “He will prove me like gold which passes through fire.” (v.10) Yet this still seems reprehensible because he so commended his own justice that he seemed to others to pass over into the derogation of divine justice, and so he says, “Will you make my justice without effect?”, as if to say: Does it seem to you that in appealing to your own justice you bring it about that my justice be accounted by men as invalid, i.e. false? Falsity of judgment is the cause of condemnation of the judge who expresses an evil judgment either from ignorance or malice, and so he then says, “and will you condemn me to justify yourself? as if to say: Do you want to show yourself just so that I seem blameworthy before others?

Note here that if two men were equals, and if it were necessary to impose the fault on one, it would not be reprehensible if the other one exonerates himself from an imputed fault even though the first may remain culpable in the opinion of others. For a man loves himself naturally more than others. But where there is such a great distance as exists between God and man, man ought rather to suffer a fault unjustly imputed to him rather than impute it unjustly to God. Therefore, the Lord, in accusing Job, proposes the excellence of God over men, and this excellence is indeed manifested in his effects. But since now it is a question of the comparison of justice which properly is not perceived in irrational things, to show divine excellence he considers the effects which God works in rational creatures. These effects can be considered in two ways. In one way according to the operation of his power, and as to this he says, “If you have an arm like God,” for “the arm” expresses the divine power. He uses this arm, of course, to sustain the good, as Isaiah says, “In his arm he will gather the lambs,” (Is.40:11) and to punish evildoers, as Luke says, “He has shown power in his arm, he has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.” (Luke 1:51) In another way God works in rational creatures by the instruction of his wisdom which because of its excellence he calls thunder, and as to this he says, “and if you thunder with a voice like his?” God uses this thunder to instruct the good, as chapter 26 says, “When we have scarcely heard a small whisper of his words, who can understand the greatness of his thunder,” (26:14) and for the terrible rebuke of the wicked, as Psalm 76 says, “The voice of your thunder rolled round,” and the text says after this, “the earth trembled and was shaken.” (v.19)

From effects of this kind he demonstrates the divine excellence as to three things. First, as to beauty when he says, “Deck yourself with beauty,” as if to say: If you were as powerful in your works as God is, attribute his beauty to yourself, and so he clearly says, “Deck yourself,” for God does not surround himself with beauty as something added beyond his essence but his essence itself is beauty. By this beauty one understands his clarity or truth, his purity or simplicity and the perfection of his essence. But man cannot have beauty unless he is decked with it, by participating in it from God as something added beyond his essence. Second, he treats the divine majesty when he says, “and lift yourself on high.” The divine majesty is not in a place because God is not comprehended by place but consists in his perfection and power because whatever is said about him is fitting to him in the highest degree. Majesty befits God essentially, and so he is not raised up to it, but remains immovably in it. Man is in a weak condition according to his nature and so he cannot arrive at that divine majesty by lifting himself up above himself, and so he clearly says, “lift yourself on high.” Third, he treats his glory when he says, “and be glorious.” Glory includes the knowledge of another’s goodness, and so Ambrose says that glory is “fame known with praise.” However, the goodness of God is infinite, but there is no perfect knowledge of it except with God, and therefore glory is in God alone inasmuch as he knows himself. Man cannot arrive at this glory except by participation in divine knowledge, as Jeremiah says, “But he who is glorious will be glorified in this, that he knows and understands me,” (9:24) and so he clearly says, “be glorious” because man does not essentially have this glory.

When he has explained what pertains to the excellence of divine power and nature, he proceeds further to call to mind the divine effects in rational creatures both to good and wicked men. Understand that the effects which God works in raising up the just are more attributed to his mercy, whereas those he works in the punishment of evildoers is properly attributed to justice. Thus since the subject now is justice, first he briefly treats the effect which God works in the good when he says, “and clothe yourself with splendid clothing.” For finally all the good, angels and men, are splendid from their participation in divine wisdom and justice, and so just as a man is adorned with splendid garments, so every beauty of holy angels and holy men returns to the adornment of God because the goodness of God is commended by it, as Isaiah says, “In all these you will vest yourself as with a jewel.” (49:18) Consider that it is characteristic of the mercy of God to make his saints splendid; but the fact that he uses their beauty for his own glory is characteristic of his justice about which he now speaks. So he does not say, “make yourself splendid garments, but “clothe yourself in splendid garments.”

Then he shows the effects of divine justice which he causes in the wicked in a more extensive way. First he does this as to men. Know that every evil of men has its beginning in pride, as Ecclesiastes says, “Pride is the beginning of all sin.” (10:15) Among all the vices God detests pride most of all, and so the Epistle of James says, “God resists the proud.” (4:6) This is so because the proud rebel against God in a certain sense when they do not want to humbly submit to him, and from this they fall into every sin when they have scorned divine precepts. Earthly princes detest rebels most and so the Lord specifically refers to the effect of his power which he exercises against the proud. There are two types of proud men. Some exalt themselves above others on the basis of the goods which they have, like the man who said in Luke, “I am not like the rest of men.” (18:11) These men are properly called the proud (superbi), as the name itself shows. The specific punishment of the proud is discord, because when one man strives to be higher than the other and refuses to be subject to another, they cannot have peace with each other; and so Proverbs says, “There is always quarrelling among the proud.” (13:10) He shows this saying, “Scatter the proud in your fury,” as if to say: Exercise the office of God which is to disperse the proud so that they cannot band together, for the fury of God here means grave punishment. Another type of proud men are those who presumptuously claim for themselves what is above them. These are properly called the arrogant (arrogantes), and so Jeremiah says, “I know his arrogance and haughty character of heart, says the Lord, and his power is not up to it.” (48:29) The proper punishment of these men is dejection. For since they wanted to be able to lift themselves up, the consequence is that they fall down into peril, as Psalm 72 says, “You laid them low when they were lifted up,” (v.18) and so he says, “and regarding every arrogant man humble him,” i.e., you should cast him down from the point of view of your providence.

The first punishment common to both of these types of proud men is confusion. Since when they could not attain the height to which they pretended, they are apparently confounded by their failure, and so he says, “Consider all the proud and confound them,” and he also said already, “If his pride should ascend up to heaven, he will be thrown out like dung in the end.” (20:6) The second punishment is their destruction, which he shows saying, “and destroy the wicked in their place.” He calls the proud wicked because, as Sirach says, “The beginning of the pride of man is to apostatize from God,” (10:14) which is repugnant to divine worship and regards piety. The fitting punishment of the proud is that they are ground up because what is ground up is shattered by the shocks of some stronger body into its smallest parts. It is just that the proud who think themselves inordinately great, are reduced to the least by a stronger, a divine power. He clearly says, “in their place” so that he might show that what they confide in cannot free them. For each one is conserved in his own place, and so the greatness of riches or the state of dignity or whatever other thing of this kind man confides in, can be said to be his place. Notwithstanding these things, the proud man is ground down by God, so that he seems ground up in his place. The third punishment is that after they are reduced to the lowest place, the brightness of their renown ends. For it is just that those who sought the ostentation of glory should be erased from the memories of men, as Proverbs says, “The name of the wicked will rot,” (10:7) and so the text continues, “You will hide them in the decay together” that is, you will make them forgotten because of the state of contempt to which they will be reduced. He adds “together” which can be interpreted to two things. First, to the fact that all the proud suffer this end together, and also that the proud do not perish successively, but they are cast down suddenly at the same time. Their fourth punishment is that not only are they not known by others but also the goods in which they gloried will not be known, and so he says, “and their faces,” which means their cognitive powers because the sight of man is located in the face, “plunge into the ditch,” into the depths of hell. He speaks of the damnation of the second death through the image of the first death, in which men are reduced to bodily ashes and sunk into a ditch.

The Lord had treated these things first as to his own proper works. It is proper to him also to not need anyone else’s help, something which does not befit man as he cannot do these works, and so he says, “And I will admit that your right hand can save you,” as if to say: If you can do these works just mentioned which are proper to God alone, you can reasonably attribute to yourself that you do not need divine help to be saved. But as you cannot do the former, so neither can you do the latter. Thus you ought not to glorify yourself in your own justice.

The Second Lesson: Behemoth or the Elephant as a Metaphor for the Devil

10 Behold Behemoth which I made with you. He will eat grass like an ox. 11 His strength is in his loins and his power is in the navel of his belly. 12 He stiffens his tail like a cedar, the sinews of his testicles are joined together. 13 His bones are like tubes of bronze, their cartilage is like plates of iron. 14 He is the first of the ways of God. He who made him will direct his sword. 15 The mountains yield grass for him; all the beasts of the fields will play there. 16 He sleeps in the shade in the thicket of the reeds in wet places. 17 The shadows protect his shadow. The falling willows cover him. 18 He will swallow rivers and not wonder, he presumes he can pour the Jordan into his mouth. 19 In his eyes, they will capture him like a fish on a hook, and they pierce his nose with stakes.

In the above remarks the Lord had told of the effects of his power which he works in evil men. Here he goes on the describe the evil of the devil. It is clear from what has already been said that Job and his friends have the same opinion about the demons as the one the Catholic Church holds, i.e., that they fell through sin from angelic dignity, and so he said already, “Behold those who serve him are not stable”. (4:18) Just as man falls through sin from the dignity of reason and acting against reason is compared to irrational creatures, so the devil turned away through sin from supreme and intelligible goods, because he desired power over lower, earthly things and so he is compared to the brute animals. The demons frequently appear to man in the likenesses of beasts. God foresaw this and gave them the ability to take such figures of bodies to fittingly represent their condition.

Consider that just as the angels who remain in their dignity have a certain excellence above the dignity of men, and so they appear to men in a very brilliant light, so also the demons have a certain excellence and primacy in evil over men, and so they are described using the figures of certain extraordinary and almost monstrous animals. Among all land animals, the elephant excels in size and strength, and among aquatic animals the whale. So the Lord describes the devil using the metaphor of an elephant and a whale. Thus the name Behemoth, which means “animal,” is referred to the elephant, which among other land animals, who are more commonly called animals, has a certain preeminence because of the size of his body. The name Leviathan, which means “their addition,” is referred to the large whales which have an increase in size over every other genus of animal.

Perhaps it could seem that the Lord in the literal sense intended to express the characteristics of elephant and whale because of the size in which they surpass the rest of animals. But the properties of these animals are described as a metaphor of something else. This is clear because after he has described the characteristics pertaining to this figure, truth is added. After he has described the properties of the Behemoth, that is, the elephant, as if explaining the truth he adds, “He is the first of the ways of God.” (v.14) When he has explained the properties of the Leviathan, that is the whale, he says, “He is the king over all the sons of pride.” (41:25) The disputation of Job is finished fittingly enough with a description of the devil, who is his adversary because Satan was the beginning of his adversity as stated above. (1:12) So while the friends of Job strove to refer the cause of his adversity to Job himself and thought he was punished because of his sins, the Lord, after he contradicted Job about the lack of order in his speech, as though making the final determination of the argument, treats the evil of Satan which was the beginning of the adversity of Job and is the beginning of human damnation. This is in accord with Wisdom, “Death was introduced into the world by the envy of the devil. (2:24)

First, he begins to describe Satan using the analogy of Behemoth, and he describes his resemblance to man saying, “Behold Behemoth which I made with you.” If, indeed, this should refer to the time of the beginning of both as a metaphor, the truth is apparent: For man and the earthly animals were created together on the sixth day. (Gen.1:24) If it should refer to the devil, about whom these things are said figuratively or metaphorically, the devil does not seem to have been created at the same time as man. For man, we read, was created on the sixth day. Satan, however, is believed to have been created with the angels in the beginning in which God created the heaven and the earth. But if the enumeration of days does not designate a succession of time but rather the different genera of the things created, according to the opinion of Augustine, there is no inconsistency in the text. If, however, as others say, the creation of the angels preceded the production of man in time, the word “with” can be understood in two ways. In one way the sense is, “which I made with you,” that is, whom I made just as I made you, and he says this to exclude the error of those, who considering the evil of the devil, thought that he was not a creature of the good God. In another way the sense is, “whom I made with you,” because the devil is like you in intellectual nature. One finds some trace of this likeness in the elephant. For Aristotle says in The History of Animals VIII that, “the animal most capable of domestication is the wild elephant: for one can teach him and he understands many things since one even trains them to kneel before kings.” This is not said because he has an intellect but because of the goodness of his natural estimative power.

After he describes how Behemoth resembles man, he describes his characteristics, and to refer us first to the image, he describes three things about Behemoth. First, his food when he says, “He will eat grass like the ox.” Literally, he is not a carnivorous animal but eats grass and other things of this kind like the ox. Because grasses grow on land, this figuratively expresses that Satan feeds, i.e. delights in the dominion of the earthly things, and so he says, boasting about himself in Luke, “They,” namely, the kingdoms of all the earth, “have been given to m and I give them to whom I will.” (4:6)

Second, he describes his conjugal relations. For the principal animal pleasures consist in food and intercourse. He describes the intercourse of the elephant first as to the principle of pleasure by which animals are excited to intercourse when he says, “His strength is in his loins,” for semen is drawn to the genital members from the loins or from the kidney area. Second, he describes the manner of intercourse. For, as the Philosopher says in The History of Animals V, “The young girl elephant undergoes coitus sitting down, and the male mounts her.” This is what he means when he says, “and his power is in the navel of his belly,” i.e., he places the navel in coitus on the back of the female, and the navel must be very strong so as not to be ruptured because of the collision of such large bodies. Animals who perform coitus of this kind press the tail between their legs when they perform the sexual act, and so he says, “He stiffens his tail like a cedar,” which he says because of its great size. Third, he describes the organs serving coitus when he says, “the sinews of his testicles are joined together,” that is, they twists, as the Philosopher says in The History of Animals III about the testicles of all animals who walk and generate other animals.

These things cannot be literally referred to the devil, as if demons themselves have carnal intercourse like animals, as though taking pleasure in intercourse itself. For although as Augustine says in Book XV of The City of God, “The evil spirits often are said to have appeared with women, lusted after them and consummated intercourse with them.” Yet they did not do this from enjoyment of intercourse themselves, but they do enjoy leading men into these kind of sins to which they are especially prone to. So Augustine says in Book II of The City of God, “Who does not understand what efforts these malignant spirits use to give authority and an example for criminal acts?” and because of this as he says in the same book in another place, “Spirits of this kind delight in the obscenities of lust;” and their delight is metaphorically expressed in the passages cited above. Since because of the concupiscence of the flesh they are especially able to conquer men with this sin, he says, “His power is in his loins,” which refers to men, “and his strength in the navel of his belly,” which refers to women. “He stiffens his tail like a cedar,” because those he casts into this sin he finally holds bound together in the sweet pleasure of their desire; “the sinews of his testicles are joined together,” because if anyone cast down in this vice desires to flee, he is ensnared a second time on various occasions.

Third, he describes the motion of the elephants which are said to have inflexible feet, shin bones and legs in order to sustain the weight of their body, and “they have solid bones without joints.” To show this he says, “His bones are like tubes of bronze,” because like tubes of bronze they cannot be bent. This refers to the exterior organs of motion which are the shin bones and the legs. The interior organs of motion are certain cartilages and tendons, which are also not easily bent in elephants, and expressing this he says, “Their cartilage is like plates of iron,” which cannot be flexed or extended. This indicates both the obstinacy of the devil who cannot renounce his malicious designs and his cruelty by which he does not cease from the exterior harm of men.

The Lord explains these things which have been said figuratively continuing, “He,” that is, Satan about whom these metaphors are used, “is as the first of the ways of God,” of his works. If this refers to the works or creation, it is because Satan was created among the first creatures, or also because according to some commentators he was more excellent than the other creatures. But it seems a more fitting to the intention to understand the ways of God to mean the works of his providence. We should consider that for God there is only one work which is properly fitting to his goodness: give benefits and be merciful. The fact that he punishes and allows adversities to happen is due to the evil of rational creatures, which was first found in the devil and derived by his suggestion to men. Therefore, he clearly says, “He is the first of the ways of God,” because God uses different ways to give benefits and to punish evil. To preclude one from thinking that he is the first of the ways of God because he has the power to harm from himself alone, he says, “He (God) who made him will direct his sword,” that is, his injurious act. The will to do harm comes from the devil in himself, and because of this he is called his sword. But the effect of harming can only come from the divine will or divine permission. Since he had said that, “He eats grass like an ox,” (v.10) he shows where he gets his grass to eat, and so he says, “The mountains yield grass for him.” By this one understands that the proud and lofty men in this world offer the devil the material of his delight or eating. He shows how this is done saying, “All the beasts of the fields will play there.” For just as the wild animals gather in the mountains for security and leisure, according to the literal sense, so under the protection of men in high places, men who rage like beasts rest secure. This is clearly shown in Daniel, “beneath the tree,” which means the kingly dignity, “animals and beasts live.” (4:9)

He next describes his habitat. Consider here that Aristotle says in The History of Animals V, “Elephants stay in the wilderness and especially on the banks of rivers;” and because there are usually reeds, willows, and shady places on the banks of rivers, he therefore shows the habitat of the elephant saying, “He sleeps in the shade in a thicket of reeds in wet places.” Since this animal does not desire just any kind of shade but deep dark shade, he says, “The shadows protect his shadow,” to say that the smaller shadow is protected by the larger shadow from the heat. He shows the cause of this shade saying, “the falling willows cover him,” for willows make a thicker and cooler shade than reeds. According to the literal sense, this animal dwells in shadowy places because he is a melancholy animal with a dry complexion and he lives in hot climates. So he seeks the refreshment of dampness and shade against the warmth and dryness of the summer. By this he describes the fact that the sword of the devil has effect not only in the mountains, i.e. the proud who nourish him with grass and protect the beasts playing in the fields, but also in men who live in leisure, like in the shade. These men take care of this shade for themselves with great zeal so that the shadows thus protect their shadows, and nourish themselves on pleasure as in humid places.

For the same reason this animal seeks humid and shady places, he also drinks a lot of water, and so Aristotle says in The History of Animals VII that, “Now an elephant drinks fourteen Macedonian measures of water as a draft and again later another eight.” So to describe the great quantity of his drink he says, “He will swallow rivers and not wonder,” because he is used to drinking a lot of water, and after he drank a lot, he expects to drink even more, and so he says, “he presumes he can pour the Jordan into his mouth,” which is a river known in that part of the world where these things were recounted. This is hyperbole when referring to the elephant. However, as they refer to the devil, who is figuratively represented in these things, they describe his presumption with which he confidently joins with him by consent all the unstable men, even if they have some knowledge of God. To show this he especially speaks of the Jordan, a river which flows in the land where one had the true knowledge of God. The sword of the devil has special effect in these three kinds of men: the proud, the sensual and the unstable, or those given to the cares of this world, who can be described as a river.

Yet there are some who are not overcome by the devil but rather obtain victory over him. This principally pertains to Christ, about whom the Apocalypse says, “Behold the lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered.” (5:5) Consequently, this happens to others through the grace of Christ, as 1 Cor. says, “Thanks be to God, who gave us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (15:57) The Lord describes this victory using the image of hunting the elephant, saying, “In his eyes they (the hunter) will capture him like a fish on a hook.” The hunter is Christ and those who belong to him. There is said to be one manner of hunting elephants which consists, “in digging a deep pit in the path of the elephant into which he falls without knowing. One hunter approaches the pit, strikes and stabs him. Another hunter comes, strikes the first hunter and moves him away so that he does not strike the elephant and gives the elephant barley to eat. When he has done this three or four times the elephant loves him who has freed him and so he in time becomes tame and obeys him.” So they are captured by food offered to them like fish by a hook. There is another way of hunting elephants. As Aristotle says in The History of Animals IX, “the hunters ride tame elephants, pursue wild elephants and wound them with various kinds of weapons.” He expresses this saying, “They pierce his nose with stakes,” where he has more sensitive flesh, and that is why he is more often wounded there by hunters. In the spiritual sense this describes that Christ overcame the devil, by showing a weak nature to him so that he might be caught by him as though he used a hook, and afterwards he might exercise his power against him, as Colossians says, “He disarmed the principalities and his powers, and made a public display of him.” (2:15)

The Third Lesson: Leviathan as a Metaphor for the Devil

20 Or will you be able to draw out Leviathan with a fish hook and will you bind his tongue with cord? 21 Will you put a ring in his nose and pierce his jawbones with a bit? 22 Will he multiply prayers to you or will he speak soft words to you? 23 Will he make a covenant with you and will you take him for your perpetual slave? 24 Will you deceive him like a bird or bind him for your servants? 25 Will friends cut him to pieces, will the merchants divide him? 26 Will you fill the nets with his skin and the bow net of fish with his head? 27 Put your hand over him. Remember the war and do not add another word. 28 Behold, his hope will be in vain for him, and he will perish with everyone looking on.

After the Lord described the characteristics of the devil under the simile of an elephant, the largest land animal, he describes him under the simile of Leviathan, that is, a whale, the largest of marine animals. As Pliny says, “he is the size of four acres,” and Isidore says, that “they have bodies the size of mountains.” The name Leviathan alludes to this, for one can interpret it to mean “their excessive size.” So Isidore says this animal is called balena from the Greek “balein”, which means to send forth, because it sends forth water higher than the other animals. It can be said that just as the devil is compared to the elephant who lives on land because of the manifest effects which he causes in corporeal creatures on land, so one can compare the devil to the whale or balena living in the waves of the sea, because of the effects which he works in moving interior motions to and fro.

Since he already expressed the victory of man over the devil using the image of the elephant hunt, to preclude one from believing that man by his own power can overcome the devil, he begins to exclude this in the image of Leviathan. Concerning the whale first, he shows that he cannot be overcome by the method by which fish are caught, and so he says, “Or will you be able to catch Leviathan in the sea with a fishhook?” This cannot happen for two reasons. First, because he is of such great size that no power or instrument of man can lift him up, and to show this he says, “Will you be able to draw him out?” Second, because he has such great power that he cannot be held by a fishhook, and to show this he says, “and will you bind his tongue with cord?” For fish which are caught with a hook are bound by the line which is attached to the hook. This means that no man can take the devil away from his malice or even bind him to keep him from doing this evil.

Second, he shows that man cannot overcome him in the manner in which certain large land animals are overcome. An ox is restrained by man using an iron ring which is placed in its nostrils, by which a man leads him where he wills. To exclude this he says, “Will you put a ring in his nose?” Man also masters the horse, ass or camel by placing a bridle or bit in his mouth, and to exclude this he says, “or pierce his jawbones with a bit?” The jawbones of these animals are perforated with a bit, that is, with iron which is placed in their mouths. As the ox is led by a ring placed through his nostrils, so the gait of the horse is directed with a bridle or bit placed in the jaws of the horse so that he may carries a man with ease. Through this image we are given to understand that no one can lead the devil where he wants nor direct him to serve his will.

Third, he shows that Leviathan cannot be mastered by the method by which man subjects man. This happens in two ways: in one way by a simple word, for example, when someone is so humbled by another that he prays to him, and he expresses this when he says, “Will he multiply prayers to you?” He may even add flattering words, and he expresses this continuing, “or will he speak soft words to you?”, using flattering words to please you, as Proverbs says, “A quiet response shatters anger.” (15:1) In another way, it happens by the addition of some obligation which comes about either from some particular contract, which he express when he says, “Will he make a covenant with you?” or by perpetual slavery, which he expresses saying, “and will you take him for your perpetual slave?” These four methods sometimes go in order. For sometimes because of fear someone first offers prayers to a victor, second he flatters, third he submits himself to a contract, and fourth by this contract he is subjected to perpetual slavery. Through all these images we are given to understand that the devil does not fear man so that he offers him as a superior or as one stronger either prayers from fear or flatter or contract or slavery. If he pretends these sorts of things, he deceives man, so that he may subject man to himself rather than be subjected to man.

Fourth, he shows that he cannot be overcome like birds are overcome by man. Consider about this that birds are first captured with some deception by nets or bird-lime or something of the kind. To exclude this he says, “Will you deceive him like a bird,” so that you master him by deception? Second, after their capture they are bound so that they cannot fly away, and they are shown to the children and the servants like playthings. He means this when he says, “or will you bind him for your servants?” By these things he shows that man cannot by his own effort overcome the devil by deceiving him, nor can he show him to others as an object of derision.

After he has shown that he cannot be subjected by the method by which animals are subjected, he shows consequently that man cannot use him, even if he were subjected by the method by which he uses other large animals when they are given into the power of man. First he shows this by using the method by which man uses captured land animals, for example, deer, boar, and other things like this whose flesh is divided in two parts-one to give free to friends, and he excludes this saying, “Will friends cut him in pieces?” as a question; in another way by selling it to various people, and expressing this he says, “Will the merchants divide him?”, implying the answer “No”. For so great is the bulk of this animal that should it ever be captured, it would suffice for the whole region, and so it is not divided into parts by friends nor sold in the meat market like other animals. By this he means that man cannot share the aid of the demons to someone else either for free or for profit.

Second, he shows that man cannot use Leviathan like he uses fish which have been caught. Fishermen fill large nets with these fish with the larger specimens, and he expresses this saying, “Will you fill the nets with his skin?” He clearly says “skin” perhaps to express the method in which the very large whales are captured, who “by very long stalks which they have, bind the whales to the rocks when they are sleeping in their grottos,” as one source says, “and then, when the fisherman approaches up close, he loosens as much of the skin as he can from the fat next to the tail.” For the animal is very fat, and because of this fat he does not feel the cut. So when the cords have been attached he ties him to the rocks or the trees, the fisherman excites the whale with stones from a sling, who leaves his skin trying to escape. They fill other smaller instruments with smaller fish, and as to this he says, “and a bow net of fish with his head?” For the bow net is an instrument made from willow-wands which the fishermen place in a stream to capture fish. But so great is the size of the whale that neither the whole nor the part of it, for example, the head, can be contained in a great bow net. For he is said to have a head so big that one can fill forty large jugs of fat with it. This is all a figure to show that the devil cannot be bound by human power, as the magicians are of the opinion they could bind him. This results completely from his cunning which he uses to deceive men. If anyone thinks rightly about this, all these premised words seem to confound the presumption of the magicians, who seek to enter into a pact with demons either to subject them to their power or to bind them in some other way.

After he has shown that man cannot overcome the devil in any way by his own power, he says as a conclusion to all he has said, “Put your hand over him,” (“if you can” is implied) as if to say: You cannot put your hand over him in any way by your own power to subject him to yourself. But although he cannot be dominated by man, yet he is overcome by divine power, and so he adds, “Remember the war,” in which I fight against him,” and do not add another word “against me; when you see that he has been vanquished by my power whom you cannot overcome by yours. About the conquest by which he is overcome by God he adds, “Behold, his hope will be in vain for him.” If this is referred to the whale it is clear. For when the whale follows fish hoping to catch them, he runs aground on some shore, and as he cannot free himself from this because of the shallowness of the water, he is frustrated in his hope to capture fish. So when he rises to the surface he rushes to death. He express this then saying, “and he will perish with everyone looking on,” because men run from all sides when they see him to kill him. In this he wants to show that the hope the devil has for the subversion of the saints will be frustrated, and he with all his following will be cast down into hell on the day of judgment with all the saints looking on.

 

CHAPTER FORTY ONE: THE GREAT POWER OF SATAN

The First Lesson: God can not be Reproached

1 I will not arouse him as though I were cruel. For who can resist my glance? 2 And who gave something first to me that I must repay him? Everything under heaven belongs to me. 3 I will not spare him for his powerful words to turn me away by prayer. 4 Who will uncover the face of its clothing? And who will enter the middle of his mouth? Terrible is the circle of his teeth. 6 His body is like cast metal shields welded together, compact with scales closely joined together. 7 One is joined to another, nor can breath pass between them. 8 One will adhere to another and they hold themselves toget