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Es 10:1-3. AHASUERUS' GREATNESS. MORDECAI'S ADVANCEMENT.
1. Ahasuerus laid a tribute--This passage being an appendix to the history, and improperly separated from the preceding chapter, it might be that the occasion of levying this new impost arose out of the commotions raised by Haman's conspiracy. Neither the nature nor the amount of the tax has been recorded; only it was not a local tribute, but one exacted from all parts of his vast empire.
2. the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai--The experience of this pious and excellent Jew verified the statement, "he that humbleth himself shall be exalted" [Mt 23:12; Lu 14:11; 18:14]. From sitting contentedly at the king's gate, he was raised to the dignity of highest subject, the powerful ruler of the kingdom. Acting uniformly on the great principles of truth and righteousness, his greatness rested on a firm foundation. His faith was openly avowed, and his influence as a professor of the true religion was of the greatest usefulness for promoting the welfare of the Jewish people, as well as for advancing the glory of God.
3. For Mordecai . . . was next unto King Ahasuerus . . . great among
the Jews, &c.--The elevation of this pious and patriotic Jew to the
possession of the highest official power was of very great importance
to the suffering church at that period; for it enabled him, who all
along possessed the disposition, now to direct the royal influence and
authority in promoting the interests and extending the privileges of
his exiled countrymen. Viewed in this light, the providence of God is
plainly traceable in all the steps that led to his unexpected
advancement. This providential interposition is all the more
remarkable, that, as in the analogous case of Joseph, it was displayed
in making the ordinary and natural course of things lead to the most
marvellous results. To use the pious words of an eminent prelate,
"though in the whole of this episode there was no extraordinary
manifestation of God's power, no particular cause or agent that was in
its working advanced above the ordinary pitch of nature, yet the
contrivance, and suiting these ordinary agents appointed by God, is in
itself more admirable than if the same end had been effected by means
that were truly miraculous." The sudden advancement of individuals from
obscurity and neglect to the highest stations of power and influence
is, in Eastern courts, no extraordinary nor infrequent occurrence. The
caprice, the weak partiality of the reigning sovereign, or, it may be,
his penetrating discernment in discovering latent energy and talent,
has often "raised the beggar from the dunghill, and set him among
Some of the all-powerful viziers in modern Persia, and not a few of the
beys in Egypt, have been elevated to their respective dignities in this
manner. And, therefore, the advancement of "Mordecai, who was next unto
Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews," was in perfect accordance with
the rapid revolution of "the wheel of fortune" in that part of the
world. But, considering all the circumstances of Mordecai's
advancement, not only his gaining the favor of the king, but his being
"accepted of the multitude of his brethren, it was beyond all
controversy the doing of the Lord, and was truly marvellous in his
JOB A REAL PERSON.--It has been supposed by some that the book of Job is an allegory, not a real narrative, on account of the artificial character of many of its statements. Thus the sacred numbers, three and seven, often occur. He had seven thousand sheep, seven sons, both before and after his trials; his three friends sit down with him seven days and seven nights; both before and after his trials he had three daughters. So also the number and form of the speeches of the several speakers seem to be artificial. The name of Job, too, is derived from an Arabic word signifying repentance.
But Eze 14:14 (compare Eze 14:16, 20) speaks of "Job" in conjunction with "Noah and Daniel," real persons. St. James (Jas 5:11) also refers to Job as an example of "patience," which he would not have been likely to do had Job been only a fictitious person. Also the names of persons and places are specified with a particularity not to be looked for in an allegory. As to the exact doubling of his possessions after his restoration, no doubt the round number is given for the exact number, as the latter approached near the former; this is often done in undoubtedly historical books. As to the studied number and form of the speeches, it seems likely that the arguments were substantially those which appear in the book, but that the studied and poetic form was given by Job himself, guided by the Holy Spirit. He lived one hundred and forty years after his trials, and nothing would be more natural than that he should, at his leisure, mould into a perfect form the arguments used in the momentous debate, for the instruction of the Church in all ages. Probably, too, the debate itself occupied several sittings; and the number of speeches assigned to each was arranged by preconcerted agreement, and each was allowed the interval of a day or more to prepare carefully his speech and replies; this will account for the speakers bringing forward their arguments in regular series, no one speaking out of his turn. As to the name Job--repentance (supposing the derivation correct)--it was common in old times to give a name from circumstances which occurred at an advanced period of life, and this is no argument against the reality of the person.
WHERE JOB LIVED.--"Uz," according to GESENIUS, means a light, sandy soil, and was in the north of Arabia-Deserta, between Palestine and the Euphrates, called by PTOLEMY (Geography, 19) Ausitai or Aisitai. In Ge 10:23; 22:21; 36:28; and 1Ch 1:17, 42, it is the name of a man. In Jer 25:20; La 4:21; and Job 1:1, it is a country. Uz, in Ge 22:21, is said to be the son of Nahor, brother of Abraham--a different person from the one mentioned (Ge 10:23), a grandson of Shem. The probability is that the country took its name from the latter of the two; for this one was the son of Aram, from whom the Arameans take their name, and these dwelt in Mesopotamia, between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. Compare as to the dwelling of the sons of Shem in Ge 10:30, "a mount of the East," answering to "men of the East" (Job 1:3). RAWLINSON, in his deciphering of the Assyrian inscriptions, states that "Uz is the prevailing name of the country at the mouth of the Euphrates." It is probable that Eliphaz the Temanite and the Sabeans dwelt in that quarter; and we know that the Chaldeans resided there, and not near Idumea, which some identify with Uz. The tornado from "the wilderness" (Job 1:19) agrees with the view of it being Arabia-Deserta. Job (Job 1:3) is called "the greatest of the men of the East"; but Idumea was not east, but south of Palestine: therefore in Scripture language, the phrase cannot apply to that country, but probably refers to the north of Arabia-Deserta, between Palestine, Idumea, and the Euphrates. So the Arabs still show in the Houran a place called Uz as the residence of Job.
THE AGE WHEN JOB LIVED.--EUSEBIUS fixes it two ages before Moses, that is, about the time of Isaac: eighteen hundred years before Christ, and six hundred after the Deluge. Agreeing with this are the following considerations: 1. Job's length of life is patriarchal, two hundred years. 2. He alludes only to the earliest form of idolatry, namely, the worship of the sun, moon, and heavenly hosts (called Saba, whence arises the title "Lord of Sabaoth," as opposed to Sabeanism) (Job 31:26-28). 3. The number of oxen and rams sacrificed, seven, as in the case of Balaam. God would not have sanctioned this after the giving of the Mosaic law, though He might graciously accommodate Himself to existing customs before the law. 4. The language of Job is Hebrew, interspersed occasionally with Syriac and Arabic expressions, implying a time when all the Shemitic tribes spoke one common tongue and had not branched into different dialects, Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic. 5. He speaks of the most ancient kind of writing, namely, sculpture. Riches also are reckoned by cattle. The Hebrew word, translated "a piece of money," ought rather be rendered "a lamb." 6. There is no allusion to the exodus from Egypt and to the miracles that accompanied it; nor to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (PATRICK, however, thinks there is); though there is to the Flood (Job 22:17); and these events, happening in Job's vicinity, would have been striking illustrations of the argument for God's interposition in destroying the wicked and vindicating the righteous, had Job and his friends known of them. Nor is there any undoubted reference to the Jewish law, ritual, and priesthood. 7. The religion of Job is that which prevailed among the patriarchs previous to the law; sacrifices performed by the head of the family; no officiating priesthood, temple, or consecrated altar.
THE WRITER.--All the foregoing facts accord with Job himself having been the author. The style of thought, imagery, and manners, are such as we should look for in the work of an Arabian emir. There is precisely that degree of knowledge of primitive tradition (see Job 31:33, as to Adam) which was universally spread abroad in the days of Noah and Abraham, and which was subsequently embodied in the early chapters of Genesis. Job, in his speeches, shows that he was much more competent to compose the work than Elihu, to whom LIGHTFOOT attributes it. The style forbids its being attributed to Moses, to whom its composition is by some attributed, "whilst he was among the Midianites, about 1520 B.C." But the fact, that it, though not a Jewish book, appears among the Hebrew sacred writings, makes it likely that it came to the knowledge of Moses during the forty years which he passed in parts of Arabia, chiefly near Horeb; and that he, by divine guidance, introduced it as a sacred writing to the Israelites, to whom, in their affliction, the patience and restoration of Job were calculated to be a lesson of especial utility. That it is inspired appears from the fact that Paul (1Co 3:19) quotes it (Job 5:13) with the formula, "It is written." Our Savior, too Mt 24:28), plainly refers to Job 29:30. Compare also Jas 4:10 and 1Pe 5:6 with Job 22:29; Ro 11:34, 35 with Job 15:8. It is probably the oldest book in the world. It stands among the Hagiographa in the threefold division of Scripture into the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa ("Psalms," Lu 24:44).
DESIGN OF THE BOOK.--It is a public debate in poetic form on an important question concerning the divine government; moreover the prologue and epilogue, which are in prose, shed the interest of a living history over the debate, which would otherwise be but a contest of abstract reasonings. To each speaker of the three friends three speeches are assigned. Job having no one to stand by him is allowed to reply to each speech of each of the three. Eliphaz, as the oldest, leads the way. Zophar, at his third turn, failed to speak, thus virtually owning himself overcome (Job 27:1-23). Therefore Job continued his reply, which forms three speeches (Job 26:1-14; 27:1-23; 28:1-28; 29:1-31:40). Elihu (Job 32:1-37:24) is allowed four speeches. Jehovah makes three addresses (Job 38:1-41:34). Thus, throughout there is a tripartite division. The whole is divided into three parts--the prologue, poem proper, and epilogue. The poem, into three--(1) The dispute of Job and his three friends; (2) The address of Elihu; (3) The address of God. There are three series in the controversy, and in the same order. The epilogue (Job 42:1-17) also is threefold; Job's justification, reconciliation with his friends, restoration. The speakers also in their successive speeches regularly advance from less to greater vehemence. With all this artificial composition, everything seems easy and natural.
The question to be solved, as exemplified in the case of Job, is,
Why are the righteous afflicted consistently with God's justice? The
doctrine of retribution after death, no doubt, is the great solution of
the difficulty. And to it Job plainly refers in
and Job 19:25.
The objection to this, that the explicitness of the language on the
resurrection in Job is inconsistent with the obscurity on the subject
in the early books of the Old Testament, is answered by the fact that
Job enjoyed the divine vision
(Job 38:1; 42:5),
and therefore, by inspiration, foretold these truths. Next, the
revelations made outside of Israel being few needed to be the more
explicit; thus Balaam's prophecy
was clear enough to lead the wise men of the East by the star
and in the age before the written law, it was the more needful for God
not to leave Himself without witness of the truth. Still Job evidently
did not fully realize the significance designed by the Spirit in his
own words (compare
1Pe 1:11, 12).
The doctrine, though existing, was not plainly revealed or at
least understood. Hence he does not mainly refer to this
solution. Yes, and even now, we need something in
addition to this solution.