on Job 1 :6
There was a day when the sons of God - All the versions, and indeed all the critics, are puzzled with the phrase sons of God; בני האלהים beney haelohim, literally, sons of the God, or sons of the gods. The Vulgate has simply filii dei, sons of God. The Septuagint, οἱ αγγελοι του θεου, the angels of God. The Chaldee, כתי מלאכיא kittey malachaiya, troops of angels. The Syriac retains the Hebrew words and letters, only leaving out the demonstrative ה he in the word האלהים haelohim, thus, (Syriac) baney Elohim. The Arabic nearly copies the Hebrew also, (Arabic) banoa Iloheem; to which, if we give not the literal translation of the Hebrew, we may give what translation we please. Coverdale (1535) translates it, servauntes of God. The Targum supposes that this assembly took place on the day of the great atonement, which occurred once each year. And there was a day of judgment in the beginning of the year; and the troops of angels came, that they might stand in judgment before the Lord. But what are we to make of this whole account? Expositions are endless. That of Mr. Peters appears to me to be at once the most simple and the most judicious: "The Scripture speaks of God after the manner of men, for there is a necessity of condescending to our capacities, and of suiting the revelation to our apprehension. As kings, therefore, transact their most important affairs in a solemn council or assembly, so God is pleased to represent himself as having his council likewise; and as passing the decrees of his providence in an assembly of his holy angels. We have here, in the case of Job, the same grand assembly held, as was before in that of Ahab, 1 Kings 22:6-23; the same host of heaven, called here the sons of God, presenting themselves before Jehovah, as in the vision of Micaiah they are said to stand on his right hand and on his left. A wicked spirit appearing among them, here called Satan or the adversary, and there a lying spirit; both bent on mischief, and ready to do all the hurt they were permitted to do; for both were under the control of his power. The imagery is just the same; and the only difference is in the manner of the relation. That mentioned above, Micaiah, as a prophet, and in the actual exercise of his prophetic office, delivers, as he received it, in a vision. "I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the Host of Heaven standing by him, on his right hand and on his left, and there came forth a Lying Spirit, and stood Before the Lord, and said," 1 Kings 22:19-22. The other, as a historian, interweaves it with his history; and tells us, in his plain narrative style, "There was a day when the sons of God came to Present themselves Before the Lord, and Satan came also among them." And this he delivers in the same manner as he does, There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job.
"The things delivered to us by these two inspired writers are the same in substance, equally high, and above the reach of human sight and knowledge; but the manner of delivering them is different, each as suited best to his particular purpose. This, then is the prophetical way of representing things, as to the manner of doing them, which, whether done exactly in the same manner, concerns us not to know; but which are really done: and God would have them described as done in this manner, to make the more lively and lasting impression on us. At the same time, it must not be forgotten that representations of this kind are founded in a well-known and established truth, viz., the doctrine of good and bad angels, a point revealed from the beginning, and without a previous knowledge of which, the visions of the prophets could scarcely be intelligible." See Genesis 28:10-15.
And Satan came also - This word also is emphatic in the original, השטן hassatan, the Satan, or the adversary; translated by the Septuagint ὁ Διαβολος. The original word is preserved by the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic; indeed, in each of them the word signifies an adversary. St. Peter, 1 Peter 5:8, plainly refers to this place; and fully proves that השטן hassatan, which he literally translates ὁ αντιδικος, the Adversary, is no other than ὁ Διαβολος, the Devil, or chief of bad demons, which he adds to others by way of explanation. There are many διαμονες, demons, mentioned in Scripture, but the word Satan or devil is never found in the originals of the Old and New Testaments in the plural number. Hence we reasonably infer, that all evil spirits are under the government of One chief, the Devil, who is more powerful and more wicked than the rest. From the Greek Διαβολος comes the Latin Diabolus, the Spanish Diablo, the French Diable, the Italian Diavolo, the German Teuffel, the Dutch Duivel, the Anglo-Saxon and the English Devil, which some would derive from the compound The - Evil; ὁ πονηρος, the evil one, or wicked one.
It is now fashionable to deny the existence of this evil spirit; and this is one of what St. John (Revelation 2:24) calls τα βαθη του σατανα, the depths of Satan; as he well knows that they who deny his being will not be afraid of his power and influence; will not watch against his wiles and devices; will not pray to God for deliverance from the evil one; will not expect him to be trampled down under their feet, who has no existence; and, consequently, they will become an easy and unopposing prey to the enemy of their souls. By leading men to disbelieve and deny his existence, he throws them off their guard; and is then their complete master, and they are led captive by him at his will. It is well known that, among all those who make any profession of religion, those who deny the existence of the devil are they who pray little or none at all; and are, apparently, as careless about the existence of God as they are about the being of a devil. Piety to God is with them out of the question; for those who do not pray, especially in private, (and I never met with a devil-denier who did), have no religion of any kind, whatsoever pretensions they may choose to make.
on Job 1 :6
Now there was a day - Dr. Good renders this, "And the day came." Tindal." Now upon a time." The Chaldee paraphrasist has presumed to specify the time, and renders it, "Now it happened in the day of judgment (or scrutiny, דדינא ביומא), "in the beginning of the year," that hosts of angels came to stand in judgment before yahweh, and Satan came." According to this, the judgment occurred once a year, and a solemn investigation was had of the conduct even of the angels. In the Hebrew there is no intimation of the frequency with which this occurred, nor of the time of the year when it happened. The only idea is, that "the sons of God" on a set or appointed day came to stand before God to give an account of what they had done, and to receive further orders in regard to what they were to do. - This is evidently designed to introduce the subsequent events relating to Job. It is language taken from the proceedings of a monarch who had sent forth messengers or ambassadors on important errands through the different provinces of his empire, who now returned to give an account of what they had observed, and of the general state of the kingdom. Such a return would, of course, be made on a fixed day when, in the language of the law, their report would be "returnable," and when they would be required to give in an account of the state of the kingdom. If it be said that it is inconsistent with the supposition that this book was inspired to suppose such a poetic fiction, Ireply,
(1) That it is no more so than the parables of the Savior, who often supposes cases, and states them as real occurrences, in order to illustrate some important truth. Yet no one was ever led into error by this.
(2) It is in accordance with the language in the Scripture everywhere to describe God as a monarch seated on his throne, surrounded by his ministers, and sending them forth to accomplish important purposes in different parts of his vast empire.
It is not absolutely necessary, therefore, to regard this as designed to represent an actual occurrence. It is one of the admissible ornaments of poetry; - as admissible as any other poetic ornament. To represent God as a king is not improper; and if so, it is not improper to represent him with the usual accompaniments of royalty, - surrounded by ministers, and employing angels and messengers for important purposes in his kingdom. This supposition being admitted, all that follows is merely in "keeping," and is designed to preserve the verisimilitude of the conception. - This idea, however, by no means militates against the supposition that angels are in fact really employed by God in important purposes in the government of his kingdom, nor that Satan has a real existence, and is permitted by God to employ an important agency in the accomplishment of his purposes toward his people. On this verse, however, see the Introduction, Section 1, (4).
The sons of God - Angels; compare Job 38:7. The whole narrative supposes that they were celestial beings.
Came to present themselves - As having returned from their embassy, and to give an account of what they had observed and done.
Before the Lord - Before יהוה yehovâh. On the meaning of this word, see the notes at Isaiah 1:2. A scene remarkably similar to this is described in 1 Kings 22:19-23. Yahweh is there represented as "sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left." He inquires who would go and persuade Ahab that he might go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? "And there came forth a spirit and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him." This he promised to do by being "a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets."
And Satan came also among them - Margin, "The adversary" came "in the midst of them." On the general meaning of this passage, and the reasons why Satan is introduced here, and the argument thence derived respecting the age and authorship of the book of Job, see the Introduction, Section 4, (4). The Vulgate renders this by the name "Satan." The Septuagint: ὁ διάβολος ho diabolos - the devil, or the accuser. The Chaldee, סטנא saṭenā', "Satan." So the Syriac. Theodotion, ὁ ἀντικείμενος ho antikeimenos - "the adversary." The word rendered "Satan" שׂטן śâṭân is derived from שׂטן śâṭan "Satan," to lie in wait, to be an adversary, and hence, it means properly an adversary, an accuser. It is used to denote one who "opposes," as in war 1 Kings 11:14, 1 Kings 11:23, 1 Kings 11:25; 1 Samuel 29:4; onc who is an adversary or an accuser in a court of justice Psalm 109:6, and one who stands in the way of another; Numbers 22:22, "And the angel of yahweh stood in the way for an adversary against him" לה לשׂטן leśâṭân lôh, "to oppose him."
It is then used by way of eminence, to denote the "adversary," and assumes the form of a proper name, and is applied to the great foe of God and man - the malignant spirit who seduces people to evil, and who accuses them before God. Thus, in Zechariah 3:1-2, "And he showed me Joshua the priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Loan said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan;" compare Revelation 12:10, "Now is come salvation - for the accuser ὁ κατηγορῶν ho katēgorōn - that is, Satan, see Revelation 12:9) of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." - The word does not often occur in the Old Testament. It is found in the various forms of a verb and a noun in only the following places. As a verb, in the sense of being an adversary, Psalm 71:13; Psalm 109:4, Psalm 109:20, Psalm 109:29; Zechariah 3:1; Psalm 38:20; as a noun, rendered "adversary" and "adversaries," 1 Kings 5:4; 1 Kings 11:14, 1 Kings 11:23, 1 Kings 11:25; Numbers 22:22, Numbers 22:32; 1 Samuel 29:4; 2 Samuel 19:22; rendered "Satan," 1 Chronicles 21:1; Psalm 109:6; Job 1:6-9, Job 1:12; Job 2:1-4, Job 2:6-7; Zechariah 3:2; and once rendered "an accusation," Ezra 4:6.
It was a word, therefore, early used in the sense of an adversary or accuser, and was applied to anyone who sustained this character, until it finally came to be used as a proper name, to denote, by way of eminence, the prince of evil spirits, as the adversary or accuser of people. An opinion has been adopted in modern times by Herder, Eichhorn, Dathe, Ilgen, and some others, that the being here referred to by the name of Satan is not the malignant spirit, the enemy of God, the Devil, but is one of the sons of God, "a faithful, but too suspicious servant of yahweh." According to this, God is represented as holding a council to determine the state of his dominions. In this council, Satan, a zealous servant of yahweh, to whom had been assigned the honorable office of visiting different parts of the earth, for the purpose of observing the conduct of the subjects of yahweh, makes his appearance on his return with others.
Such was the piety of Job, that it had attracted the special attention of yahweh, and he puts the question to Satan, whether in his journey be had remarked this illustrious example of virtue. Satan, who, from what he has observed on earth, is supposed to have lost all confidence in the reality and genuineness of the virtue which man may exhibit, suggests that he doubts whether even Job serves God from a disinterested motive; that God had encompassed him with blessings, and that his virtue is the mere result of circumstances; and that if his comforts were removed he would be found as destitute of principle as any other man. Satan, according to this, is a suspicious minister of yahweh, not a malignant spirit; he inflicts on Job only what he is ordered to by God, and nothing because he is himself malignant. Of this opinion Gesenius remarks (Lexicon), that it "is now universally exploded."
An insuperable objection to this view is, that it does not accord with the character usually ascribed to Satan in the Bible, and especially that the disposition attributed to him in the narrative before us is wholly inconsistent with this view. He is a malignant being; an accuser; one delighting in the opportunity of charging a holy man with hypocrisy, and in the permission to inflict tortures on him, and who goes as far in producing misery as he is allowed - restrained from destroying him only by the express command of God. - In Arabic the word Satan is often applied to a serpent. Thus, Gjauhari, as quoted by Schultens, says, "The Arabs call a serpent Satan, especially one that is conspicuous by its crest, head, and odious appearance." It is applied also to any object or being that is evil. Thus, the Scholiast on Hariri, as quoted by Schultens also, says, "Everything that is obstinately rebellious, opposed, and removed from good, of genii, human beings, and beasts, is called Satan." - The general notion of an adversary and an opponent is found everywhere in the meaning of the word. - Dr. Good remarks on this verse, "We have here another proof that, in the system of patriarchal theology, the evil spirits, as well as the good, were equally amenable to the Almighty, and were equally cited, at definite periods, to answer for their conduct at his bar."
Rosenmuller remarks well on this verse, "It is to be observed, that Satan, no less than the other celestial spirits, is subject to the government of God, and dependent on his commands (compare Job 2:1) where Satan equally with the sons of God (אלהים בן bên 'ĕlohı̂ym) is said to present himself before God (לחהיצב lehı̂tyatsēb; that is, λειτουργεῖν leitourgein), to minister. Yahweh uses the ministry of this demon (hujus daemonis) to execute punishment, or when from any other cause it seemed good to him to send evil upon men. But he, although incensed against the race of mortals, and desirous of injuring, is yet described as bound with a chain, and never dares to touch the pious unless God relaxes the reins. Satan, in walking round the earth, could certainly attentively consider Job, but to injure him he could not, unless permission had been given him."
on Job 1 :6
1:6 A day - A certain time appointed by God. The sons - The holy angels, so called, chap.38:7 Dan 3:25,28, because of their creation by God, for their resemblance of him in power, and dignity, and holiness, and for their filial affection and obedience, to him. Before - Before his throne, to receive his commands, and to give him an account of their negotiations. But you must not think that these things are to be understood literally; it is only a parabolical representation of that great truth, that God by his wise and holy providence governs all the actions of men and devils: It being usual with the great God to condescend to our shallow capacities, and to express himself, as the Jews phrase it, in the language of the sons of men. And it is likewise intimated, that the affairs of earth are much the subject of the counsels of the unseen world. That world is dark to us: but we lie open to it.