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Occasional Belief of Job in Immortality.
back in the very beginning of the roll of revelation-HE “whose delight had ever been with the sons of men, rejoicing always in the habitable parts of our earth”—HE whose theophany, at some future period, was the theme of obscure tradition all over the eastern world -HE in whom (unless we are to discard the express testimony the very men commissioned by our Lord for the very purpose of declaring the truth respecting himself), the most ancient patriarchs did, in some shadowy, it may be, and yet consoling, form, hope and believe.
But this is not the place for a full argument on this and the related subject. It is enough, for the present, to ask the reader to bear in mind, in connection with the following comments, a few suggested propositions, which will commend themselves, we think, to such as believe in the integrity and mutual relation of all the parts of God's word.
Without asserting that the doctrine of a future life, distinctly conceived, was the formal, habitual belief of Job and his immediate contemporaries, we may, at least, regard him as having occasionally recurring to his mind some such hope as Paul says the patriarchs possessed, when they called themselves pilgrims and sojourners upon earth, thereby professing to seek an unearthly abiding place, a city with foundations ; which hope was grounded mainly on those oft repeated declarations, with one of which Christ confounded the Saddacees, “because He was not ashamed to be called their God.” With them a spiritual theism and a moral providence were connected with the hope of an abiding life for man; which hope necessarily grows out of the sense of such a relation to the Eternal One. So our Saviour taught the neologists of his day, when from one of the most common texts of the Old Testament (chosen because it was so common, and not because it contained any peculiarly recondite meaning), he showed the inseparable union of these truths with any scheme which bad the least claim to be called a spiritual religion. Such a connection is also taught by reason and by that which is higher than reason, the human conscience. It may, therefore, be maintained, that it is not improbable that the soul of Job (even on the supposition that he lived in the days of the patriarchs) did, at times, in the midst of afflictions 80 adapted to drive him out of all earthly expectations, and in view of the dark dispensations of God in this world, revert to a more spiritual hope, although such hope might be of the most shadowy kind, and almost instantly lose itself again in the gloom of his desponding spirit. We say, then, that it is improbable, in view of all the considerations suggested, that Job should, under no circumstances, make allusion to the hope of another life.
Our second proposition is, that it is a still more improbable view which represents him (according to Rosenmüller and others) as expressly denying it; and not only that, but also as using terms which would seem to imply, that the thought could not be for a moment entertained, and, should it ever occur to the mind, must be silenced by the strongest form of negation. We may have doubts about the distinctness and firmness of his faith ; but the supposition that would make him a dogmatic materialist, a stubborn denier of any spirituality in man, or of any connection with an unseen world beyond what belongs to the lowest animality—this, we say, ought to transcend the credulity even of the most obstipate rationalist.
The third proposition is, that both these improbabilities are greatly enbanced, even on the reasoning of the neological interpreters themselves, in view of that theory which brings down the writing of the book, if not the life of Job himself, to the later age of the Jewish State, or to a time near or subsequent to the Babylonish captivity.
Our ideas of a future life, generally, as one doctrine, and of the resurrection of the body as another, are usually kept tolerably distinct. It was not so, however, in the time of our Saviour. He himself, in his reply to the Sadducees, did not deem it necessary to view separately the then existing spiritual state of the Old Testament saints (as affirmed by him,) and their more distinct and higher life after the general resurrection. There was doubtless still more of this blending of the two ideas, or rather this dim accompaniment of the latter was still more obscurely apprehended, if at all, in earlier periods of the Old Testament history. And yet the idea once received of a renewed life for the spirit, it would seem to be most naturally followed by a shadowy hope, that the body also might, in some way, be a partaker of the same. It seems difficult on any other ground to account for the early and universal care manifested in the embalming, careful sepulture, and solemn funeral rites, which have ever attended the last disposal of the poor remains of our corporeal humanity. But it is time to commence our explanation of the chapter before us.
Verse 1. nes 7-3; 27 — Man of woman born. An expression as Rosenmüller well observes, used to denote the frailty of our physical origin—de infirmo stipite. The same idea, ch. 15: 14, and 25: 4. How shall man be just unto God; and how shall he be clean that is born of woman. See Matt. 11: 11. Luke 7: 28, yevvntoi yuvaixov. There are circumstances which have ever attended the first introduction of man into this fallen world, that seem to give peculiar emphasis to the expression which introduces this wailing lamentation over the weakness and darkness of our physical humanity. Whether a part 1849.]
Comment on Verse Second.
of the primal curse or not, there are scenes of anguish attending the human birth, and even of revolting deformity, which seem to await no other physical generation. They can only be alluded to, and our meaning cannot be better expressed than in the words of Plutarch's comment on the Iliad XVII. 446.
Ov uèv yup rí Tov čotiv of supútepov úvopos
On which the philosopher remarks: Τούτο ου ψεύδεται λέγων -- ουδεν γαρ εστίν ούτως ατελές, ουδ' άπορων, ουδε γυμνόν, ουδ' άμορφον, ουδέ μιαρόν, ως άνθρωπος έν γοναίς ορώμενος, o μόνο σχεδόν ουδε καθαράν έδωκεν εις φως οδόν η φύσις· αλλ' αίματι πεφυρμένος, και λύθρου περίπλεως, και φονευομένο μάλλον η γεννωμένω έoικώς.-Plutarch De Amore Prolis.
ODT 3P: - Short of days — brevis dierum. sair - Full of commotion or excitement. Jerome: Repletus multis miseriis. From the cradle to the grave, one scene of excitement and unrest. Compare the description given in the book of Ecclesiasticus or Wisdom of Sirach, ch. 40: 1, 2, 3, ασχολία μεγάλη-ζηλος και ταραχή-ολίγον ως ουδέν εν αναπαύσει.
V. 2. Sony xpx? - He cometh forth like a flower. The desponding mourner views man here solely in his physical relations. The allusion is to his mother earth. He cometh forth from her bosom and soon returns to it again. The term xx also strikingly suggests a sort of scenic or phantasmagoric representation, as though the brief human existence were a mere transitus—a coming out from a dark past eternity, and a rapid passing in to a darker still to succeed. There is this thought, Eccles. 6: 4, Tunga o bana - He cometh in with vanity, and he departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness. He comes forth from one obis, or hidden state, flits swiftly across the narrow isthmus of time, and seems to be lost in the great b}is that follows. In contrast with such a view, God is said to be, bis siya, ab eternitate ad eternitatem, or as the LΧΧ. express it, Ps. 90, από του αιώνος έως του αιώνος συ ει.
niaga 2 322 92 - He fleeth like a shadow, and abideth not. The Greek poets are so full of these two most simple yet expressive comparisons, that we hope to be pardoned in presenting them at some lengih, although but little necessary by way of interpretation of a passage which so interprets itself to the conscious human sentiment. It is well to bring out comparisons of this kind, because they present a species of language which is confined to no one age or aspect of the world. It dates from the fall; it is found abundantly in the Scriptures (see Ps. 103: 15. 90: 5. Job 7: 9. 18: 12, etc.) and in all the most ancient reminiscences of our world. This universal wailing cry could only have proceeded from some deep impression of a fall, from some consciousness of a strangely perverted condition, in which all the hopes and fears of the soul, its reminiscences of some heavenly origin, its conviction of a deeper inner life, and of the high moral importance of its relations to the Divine government, seem ever in strange contrast with its sense of the inadequacy, and inefficiency, and dream-like nature of its outward phenomenal existence. We find it in Homer, in the midst of all that pride of martial and heroic inspiration which would seem the furthest removed from any such humiliating confession of human insignificance.
Οίε περ φύλλων γενεή, τοιήδε και ανδρών.
Iliad, VL 146.
We might almost translate Homer here by David, and give a version of the passage in the very words of the Psalmist: Frail man, (1993) as grass are his days ; as the flower of the field, so he flourisheth. The wind passes over it and it is gone, and the place thereof knoweth it
The other comparison of the flitting shadow is still more common. Man, says the writer of the 39th Psalm, walks in a shadow (}), a shade, an image, a land of unreality. Watts, in his beautiful yet somewhat inaccurate version, has made it more conform to the idea of the present passage.
See the vain race of mortals move
Like shadows o'er the plain.
A more striking resemblance may be found in the Ajax of Sophocles, 125.
“Όρώ γαρ ημάς ουδέν όντας άλλο πλην
The same, Euripides' Medea, 1220.
τα θνητά δ' ού νύν πρώτον ηγουμαι ΣΚΙΑΝ.
So again, in the Agamemnon of Aeschylus, 1259.
ιω βρότεια πράγματ’: ευτυχούντα μεν
which may be paraphrased—" Human life, when prosperous, is such a shadow, that even a shadow may turn it; or rather, a picture which a shadow may spoil (as it is admirably rendered by Professor Felton, in his edition of the Agamemnon), but adversity, like a sponge, blots out every lineament,”- that is, reduces again, to utter darkness, the visionary representation of human life, which gleamed but for a moment, to disappear in the greater obscurity.
In like manner, Pindar, Pyth. Od. VIII. Last Epod.
'Επάμεροι· τί δέ τις ; τί δ' ούτις ;
Of a similar kind, although with somewhat different imagery, is Soph. Oed. Tyr. 1186, or that most striking passage, commencing
ιω γενεαι βροτών,
Even the light hearted Aristophanes joins in the wailing strain, and writes, in one passage, almost every epithet descriptive of the frailty, transitoriness, dream-like, shadowy nature of human life
"Αγε δή φύσιν άνδρες αμαυρόβιοι ΦΥΛΛΩΝ ΓΕΝΕΑ προσόμοιοι,
Birds, 686. 17.-It fleeth swiftly. The image or shadow intended, is doubtless that of a cloud or vapor (KAAVOŨ oxía, Soph. Antig. 1170) which seems to pass so swiftly over the plain, and which never, for a moment, stands (710) or keeps the same position, but is ever passing away, as some of the old Ionic materialists said of all things – oúdèv έστηκε – πάντα πάντως κινείται. It is certainly true of man physically, and of the whole physical system. It standeth not, but is ever passing away. It reminds us of Paul's most solemn declaration“the fashion of this world (its oxñua, figure, outline, phenomenal being) passeth away ; it abideth or standeth not.
V. 3. n-by-98 — Upon such an one-on such a being, so frail, so transient,-on such a fleeing shadow, coming out of darkness and going into darkness, dost thou open thine eye? The expression may be taken in bonam vel in malam partem. An example of the former may be found Zech. 12: 4. Here, however, it is to be regarded as having the latter sense. It is the eye of justice, the èxdıxov öuua of the Grecian drama. This is determined by the succeeding
And bring me into judgment with - וְאֹתִי תָבִיא בְמִשְׁפָּט עַמָּךְ - clause