on Job 31 :26
If I beheld the sun when it shined - In this verse Job clears himself of that idolatrous worship which was the most ancient and most consistent with reason of any species of idolatry; viz., Sabaeism, the worship of the heavenly bodies; particularly the sun and moon, Jupiter and Venus, the two latter being the morning and evening stars, and the most resplendent of all the heavenly bodies, the sun and moon excepted. "Job," says Calmet, "points out three things here:
1. The worship of the sun and moon; much used in his time, and very anciently used in every part of the East; and in all probability that from which idolatry took its rise.
2. The custom of adoring the sun at its rising, and the moon at her change; a superstition which is mentioned in Ezekiel 8:16, and in every part of profane antiquity.
3. The custom of kissing the hand; the form of adoration, and token of sovereign respect."Adoration, or the religious act of kissing the hand, comes to us from the Latin; ad, to, and os, oris, the mouth. The hand lifted to the mouth, and there saluted by the lips.
on Job 31 :26
If I beheld the sun when it shined - Margin, light. The Hebrew word (אור 'ôr) properly means light, but that it here means the sun is manifest from the connection, since the moon occurs in the parallel member of the sentence. Why the word light is used here rather than sun, can be only a matter of conjecture. It may be because the worship to which Job refers was not primarily and originally that of the sun, the moon, or the stars, but of light as such, and that he mentions this as the essential feature of the idolatry which he had avoided. The worship of light in general soon became in fact the worship of the sun - as that is the principal source of light. There is no doubt that Job here refers to idolatrous worship, and the passage is particularly valuable, as it describes one of the forms of idolatry then existing, and refers to some of the customs then prevalent in such worship.
The word light is used, also, to denote the sun in Job 37:2 l; compare Isaiah 18:4; Habakkuk 3:4. So, also, Homer speaks of the sun not only as λαμπρὸν φάος ἡελίοιο lampron faos hēelioio - bright light of the sun, but simply as φάος faos - light. Odyssey r. 335. The worship here referred to is that of the heavenly bodies, and it is known that this existed in the early periods of the world, and was probably one of the first forms of idolatry. It is expressly mentioned by Ezekiel as prevailing in his time, Ezekiel 8:16, "And they worshipped the sun toward the east." That it prevailed in the time of Moses, is evident from the caution which he gives in Deuteronomy 4:19; compare 2 Kings 23:5. It is well known, also, that the worship of the heavenly bodies was common in the East, and particularly in Chaldea - near to which Job is supposed to have lived, and it was a remarkable fact that one who was surrounded with idolaters of this description had been enabled always to keep himself pure.
The principle on which this worship was founded was, probably, that of gratitude. People adored the objects from which they derived important benefits, as well as deprecated the wrath of those which were supposed to exert a malignant influence. But among the objects from which people derived the greatest benefits were the sun and moon, and hence, they were objects of worship. The stars, also, were supposed to exert important influences over people, and hence, they also early became objects of adoration. An additional reason for the worship of the heavenly bodies may have been, that light was a natural and striking symbol of the divinity, and those shining bodies may have been at first honored as representatives of the Deity. The worship of the heavenly bodies was called Sabaism, from the Hebrew word צבא tsâbâ' - host, or army - as being the worship of the hosts of heaven.
It is supposed to have had its origin in Persia, and to have spread thence to the West. That the moon was worshipped as a deity, is abundantly proved by the testimony of the ancient writers. Hottinger, Hist. Orient. Lib. 1:c. 8, speaking of the worship of the Zabaists, adduces the testimony of Ali Said Vaheb, saying that the first day of the week was devoted to the sun; the second to the moon; the third to Mars, etc. Maimonides says that the Zabaists worshipped the moon, and that they also said that Adam led mankind to that species of worship. Mor. Nev. P. 3: Clemens Alexandr. says (in Protrepto) κὰι προσεκίνησαν ἥλιον ὡς ἰνδοὶ κὰι σελήνην ὡς φρύγες kai prosekinēsan hēlion hōs indoi kai selēnēn hōs fruges. Curtius says of the people of Lybia (Liv. iv. in Melp.) θυὸνσι δὲ ἡλίῳ κὰι οελήνη μόυνοισι thuousi de hēliō kai oelēnē mounoisi.
Julius Caesar says of the Germans, that they worshipped the moon, Lib. 6: de B. G. p. 158. The Romans had a temple consecrated to the moon, Taci. Ann. Lib. 15: Livy, L. 40: See Geor. Frid. Meinhardi Diss. de Selenolatria, in Ugolin's Thesau. Sacr. Tom. 23:p. 831ff. Indeed, we have a proof of the worship of the moon in our own language, in the name given to the second day of the week - Monday, i. e. moon-day, implying that it was formerly regarded as devoted to the worship of the moon. The word "beheld" in the passage before us must be understood in an idolatrous sense. "If I have looked upon the sun as an object of worship." Schultens explains this passage as referring to splendid and exalted characters, who, on account of their brilliance and power, may be compared to the sun at noon-day, and to the moon in its brightness. But the more obvious and common reference is to the sun and moon as objects of worship.
Or the moon walking in brightness - Margin, bright. The word "walking," here applied to the moon, may refer either to its course through the heavens, or it may mean, as Dr. Good supposes, advancing to her full; "brightly, or splendidly progressive." The Septuagint renders the passage strangely enough. "Do we not see the shining sun eclipsed? and the moon changing? For it is not in them."
on Job 31 :26
31:26 I - This place speaks of the worship of the host of heaven, and especially of the sun and moon, the most eminent and glorious of that number, which was the most ancient kind of idolatry, and most frequent in the eastern countries. Shined - In its full strength and glory.