on Job 34 :37
He addeth rebellion unto his sin - An ill-natured, cruel, and unfounded assertion, borne out by nothing which Job had ever said or intended; and indeed, more severe than the most inveterate of his friends (so called) had ever spoken. Mr. Good makes this virulent conclusion still more virulent and uncharitable, by translating thus: -
"For he would add to his transgressions apostasy;
He would clap his hands in the midst of us:
Yea, he would tempest his words up to God."
There was no need of adding a caustic here; the words in the tamest translation are tart enough. Though Elihu began well and tolerantly, he soon got into the spirit, and under the mistake, of those who had preceded him in this "tempest of words."
On Job 34:30 I have referred to the case of Hegiage, governor of the Babylonian Irak, under the caliph Abdul Malec. When Hegiage was informed that the people were in a state of mutiny because of his oppressive government, before they broke out into open acts of hostility, he mounted on an eminence, and thus harangued them: - "God has given me dominion over you; if I exercise it with severity, think not that by putting me to death your condition will be mended. From the manner in which you live you must be always ill-treated, for God has many executors of his justice; and when I am dead he will send you another, who will probably execute his orders against you with more rigour. Do you wish your prince to be moderate and merciful? Then exercise righteousness, and be obedient to the laws. Consider that your own conduct is the cause of the good or evil treatment which you receive from him. A prince may be compared to a mirror; all that you see in him is the reflection of the objects which you present before him." The people immediately dropped their weapons, and quietly returned to their respective avocations. This man was one of the most valiant, eloquent, and cruel rulers of his time; he lived towards the close of the 7th century of the Christian era. He is said to have put to death 120,000 people; and to have had 50,000 in his prisons at the time of his decease. Yet this man was capable of generous actions. The following anecdote is given by the celebrated Persian poet Jami, in his Baharistan: - Hegiage, having been separated from his attendants one day in the chase, came to a place where he found an Arab feeding his camels. The camels starting at his sudden approach, the Arab lifted up his head, and seeing a man splendidly arrayed, became incensed, and said, Who is this who with his fine clothes comes into the desert to frighten my camels? The curse of Good light upon him! The governor, approaching the Arab, saluted him very civilly, with the salaam, Peace be unto thee! The Arab, far from returning the salutation, said, I wish thee neither peace, nor any other blessing of God. Hegiage, without seeming to heed what he had said, asked him very civilly "to give him a little water to drink." The Arab in a surly tone, answered, If thou desirest to drink, take the pains to alight, and draw for thyself; for I am neither thy companion nor thy slave. The governor accordingly alighted, and having drank, asked the Arab, "Whom dost thou think the greatest and most excellent of men?" The prophet sent by God, said the Arab, and thou mayest burst with spleen. "And what thinkest thou of Aaly?" returned Hegiage. No tongue can declare his excellence, said the Arab. "What," asked Hegiage, "is thy opinion of the caliph Abdul Malec?" I believe him to be a very bad prince, replied the Arab. "For what reason?" said Hegiage. Because, said the Arab, he hath sent us for governor the most execrable wretch under heaven. Hegiage, finding himself thus characterized, was silent; but his attendants coming up, he rejoined them, and ordered them to bring the Arab with them. The next day Hegiage ordered him to be set at table with himself, and bade him "eat freely." The Arab, ere he tasted, said his usual grace, "God grant that the end of this repast may be no worse than the beginning!" While at meat the governor asked him, "Dost thou recollect the discourse we had together yesterday?" The Arab replied, God prosper thee in all things! but as to the secret of yesterday, take heed that thou disclose it not to-day. "I will not," said Hegiage; "but thou must choose one of these two things; either acknowledge me for thy master, and I will retain thee about my person; or else I will send thee to Abdul Malec, and tell him what thou hast said of him." There is a third course, replied the Arab, preferable to those two. "Well, what is that?" said the governor. Why, send me back to the desert, and pray God that we may never see each other's face again. Cruel and vindictive as Hegiage was, he could not help being pleased with the frankness and courage of the man; and not only forgave him the preceding insults but ordered him 10,000 pieces of silver, and sent him back to the desert, according to his wish.
on Job 34 :37
For he addeth rebellion unto his sin - To the sin which he has formerly committed and which bas brought these trials upon him, he now adds the sin of complaining and rebellion against God. Of Job, this was certainly not true to the extent which Elihu intended, but it is a very common case in afflictions. A man is visited with calamity as a chastisement for his sins. Instead of searching out the cause why he is afflicted, or bowing with resignation to the superior wisdom of God when he cannot "see" any cause, he regards himself as unjustly dealt with; complains of the government of God as severe, and gives "occasion" for a severer calamity in some other form. The result is often that he is visited with severe affliction, and is made to see both his original offence and the accumulated guilt which has made a new form of punishment necessary.
He clappeth his hands amongst us - To clap the hands is either a signal of applause or triumph, or a mark of indignation, Numbers 24:10, or of derision, Job 27:23. It seems to be used in some such sense here, as expressing contempt or derision for the sentiments of his friends. The meaning is, that instead of treating the subject under discussion with a calm spirit and a disposition to learn the truth and profit by it, he had manifested in relation to the whole matter great disrespect, and had conductcd like one who attempts to silence others, or who shows his contempt for them by clapping his hands at them. It is scarcely necessary to say, that, notwithstanding all the professed candor and impartiality of Elihu, this is a most unfair representation of the general spirit of Job. That he had sometimes given vent to improper feelings there can be no doubt, but nothing had occurred to justify this statement.
And multiplieth his words against God - That is, his arguments are against the justice of his government and dealings. In the special phrase used here - "he multiplieth "words,"" Elihu means, probably, to say, that there was more of "words" than of argument in what Job had said, and that he was not content even with expressing his improper feelings once, but that he piled words on words, and epithet on epithet, that he might more fully give utterance to his reproachful feelings against his Maker.
on Job 34 :37
34:37 Addeth - He sinned before, by impatience under his afflictions, now he is grown obstinate, and instead of humbling himself for his sins, justifies himself, and accuses the blessed God. Clapped - Insulting and triumphing. Against God - In effect, though not directly.