Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
JOB CHAPTER 2
Satan’s second appearance before God: Job’s character continuing the same, condemneth Satan, Job 2:1-3. Satan judgeth him not sufficiently tried, unless his body suffer; and so obtaineth leave to hurt his body, but not touch his life, Job 2:4-6. Job, smote with boils, scrapeth himself, and sitteth down in ashes, Job 2:7,8. His wife’s folly; he reproveth her, acknowledging God’s sovereignty and former mercies, Job 2:9,10. His three friends, and their sorrow, Job 2:11-13.
Again there was a day; another set time some convenient space after the former calamities. Of this and the two next verses See Poole "Job 1:6", See Poole "Job 1:7", See Poole "Job 1:8".
Still, notwithstanding all his trials and tribulations, and thy malicious suggestion to the contrary, he holdeth fast his integrity, i.e. he continues to be the same perfect and upright man which he was before. All thy endeavours to pull away his integrity have made him only to hold it the faster.
Thou movedst me, i.e. didst persuade me, and prevailed with me to do it. But this, as the rest of this representation, is not to be understood properly, as if God could be moved by any of his creatures to alter his purposes, which are all eternal and unchangeable, and especially by Satan, as if God would gratify him by granting his desires; but the design of these words is to signify, both the devil’s restless malice in promoting man’s misery, and God’s permission of it for his own wise and holy ends.
Without cause, i.e. without any special provocation, whereby he, more than others, deserved such heavy punishments; which also Job himself oft allegeth for his justification, although he doth not deny himself to be a sinner, as is apparent from Job 7:20,21 9:2 13:23,26; nor that sin deserves judgments. Or, without any such cause as thou didst allege, which was his hypocrisy. Or, in vain, as this word is used, Proverbs 1:17 Ezekiel 6:10, and elsewhere. So it is not referred to God’s destroying him, but to Satan’s moving God so to do. And so this place may be thus rendered exactly according to the Hebrew, and thou hast moved me to destroy him in vain, or without effect, or to no purpose, i.e. thou hast lost thy design and expectation therein, which was to take away his integrity, which in spite of all thy art and malice he still holdeth fast.
The design of these words is plain, which is to detract from Job, and to diminish that honour and praise which God gave to Job, by pretending that he had done no more than the meanest men commonly do by the law of self-reservation. And it is as clear that this was a proverbial speech then in use, wherein if there be some difficulty to understand it at this distance of time, it is no more than the common lot of many other proverbs, the sense, and especially the grounds, whereof are frequently unknown to persons of other nations and after-times. Moreover, it is known that in those ancient times, though they had some money, yet the main of their estate lay in cattle, of which the skins were a considerable part, and their chief traffic lay in the exchange of one commodity for another; and, among other things, it cannot be questioned but that they did commonly exchange skins of one kind for skins of another sort, according to their several inclinations or occasions. So the meaning may be this, As men willingly and commonly give one skin in exchange for another skin, and one commodity for another. So (the Hebrew particle vau being oft so used as a note of comparison, as it is Proverbs 17:3 25:3,23,25,27)
all that a man hath, his house, cattle, children, will he give, and that most willingly, for his life, i.e. to redeem or save his own life. Or rather thus,
skin for skin, might then be a proverb, like that of ours, Body for body, when one man is so far obliged for another. And we have some such expressions among us; as when we say of a man who doth some dangerous action, His skin, i.e. his body, will pay for it, i.e. it may cost him his life. And this proverb might be taken,
1. From sacrifices, in which there was skin for skin, i.e. the skin of a beast for, or instead of, the skin or body of the man, which deserved to be used as the beast was, and which was saved or preserved by the suffering of the beast, which was accepted by God instead of the man, and by which the man’s sins were expiated. Or,
2. From hostages or ransoms, wherein one man was given for or instead of another. So now the sense may be this, Any man will give skin for skin, i.e. the skin, or body, or life of another, whether man or beast, to save his own;
yea, all that a man hath, whether goods or persons, such as Job hath lost,
will he give for his life. Job is not much hurt nor concerned so long as his own skin is whole and safe. Others thus, Skin upon (for so the Hebrew particle behad is sometimes used, as 2 Kings 4:5 Amos 9:10; as also the Greek particle anti, which answers to it, is understood John 1:16, grace for grace, i.e. grace upon grace, or all kinds or degrees of grace) skin, and all that a man hath, (so all these words belong to the price which a man pays; now follows what he hath or expecteth to have for it,) will he give for his life, i.e. in exchange for his life, or to save his life. This also is a plausible interpretation, only it is not very probable that the same Hebrew particle behad should be used in two so differing senses in the same verse, in the former part to signify upon, (which if this sacred writer had meant, he would likely have expressed it rather by that other Hebrew particle al, which is commonly so used, than by this, which is so ambiguous, and seldom so taken, and otherwise used in this very verse,) and in the latter to signify for, or instead of. However the sense is plainly this, This is so far from being an evidence of Job’s sincere and generous piety, that it is only an act of deeper hypocrisy and mere self-love; he is well enough contented with the loss of his estate, and children too, so long as he sleeps in a whole skin; and he is well pleased that thou wilt accept of all these as a sacrifice or ransom in his stead; and it is not true patience and humility which makes him seem to bear his crosses so submissively, as depth of policy, that by his feigned carriage he may appease thy wrath against him, and prevent those further plagues which, for his hypocrisy and other sins, of which he is conscious, he fears thou wilt otherwise bring upon his own carcass; as will plainly appear upon further trial.
Touch, i.e. smite him, not slightly, but to the quick, and to the bones and marrow, so as he may feel pain and anguish indeed, which is oft expressed by reaching to the bones, as Psalms 6:2 32:3 51:8.
Do not attempt to take away his life, which I will not suffer thee to do.
Like those inflicted upon the Egyptians, which are expressed by the same word, and threatened to apostate Israelites, Deuteronomy 28:27, whereby he was made loathsome to himself and to his nearest relations, Deuteronomy 19:13,19, and a visible monument of Divine displeasure, and filled with tiring and consuming pains in his body, and no less torment and anguish in his mind.
From the sole of his foot unto his crown; in all the outward parts of his body. His tongue he spared, that it might be capable of venting those blasphemies against God which he expected and desired.
He took him a potsherd; partly to allay the itch which his ulcers caused; and partly to squeeze out or take away that purulent matter which was under them, or flowed from them, and was the great cause of his torment. And this he did not with soft linen cloths, either because he had not now a sufficient quantity of them for so much use, or because therein he must have had the help of others, who abhorred to come near him, Job 19:13-15; nor with his own hands or fingers, which were also ulcerous, and so unfit for that use; and besides he loathed to touch himself: but with potsherds, either because they were next at hand, and ready for his present use; or in token of his repentance and deep humiliation under God’s heavy hand, which made him decline all things which favoured of tenderness and delicacy.
Among the ashes, Heb. in dust or ashes, as mourners used to do; of which see Job 42:6 Jonah 3:6 Matthew 11:21.
The devil spared his wife with cruel intent to be the instrument of his temptations, and the aggravation of Job’s misery, by unnatural unkindness to him, which is declared Job 19:17, and elsewhere.
Dost thou still retain thine integrity? art thou yet so weak to persist in the practice of piety, when it is not only unprofitable to thee, but the chief occasion of all these thy insupportable miseries, and when God himself not only forsakes and leaves thee in this helpless and hopeless condition, but is turned to be thy greatest enemy?
Curse God, and die; seeing thy blessing of God availeth thee so little, it is time to change thy note, Curse God, and die, i.e. reproach him to his face, and tell him of his injustice and unkindness to thee, and that he loves his enemies, and hates his friends; and that will provoke him to take away thy life, and so end thy torments. Or, Curse God, though though die for it. But although this word sometimes signifies cursing, as Job 1:11 1 Kings 21:10, yet most properly and generally it signifies blessing; and so it may very well be understood here as a sarcastical or ironical expression, such as there are many in Scripture, as Ecclesiastes 11:9 Lamentations 4:21, and in all authors. And so the sense may be this, Bless God, and die; i.e. I see thou art set upon blessing of God; thou blessest God for giving, and thou blessest God for taking away, and thou art still blessing of God for thy loathsome and tormenting diseases, and he rewards thee accordingly, giving thee more and more of that kind of mercy for which thou blessest and praisest him. Go on therefore in this thy pious and generous course, and die as a fool dieth, and carry this reputation to thy grave, that thou hadst not common sense in thee to discern between good and evil, between thy friends and thy foes. Or rather, Awake out of this stupidity and lethargy, and give over this absurd and unreasonable practice; and as God gives thee no help nor comfort, let him lose thy praises and service. And this being her sense, it is not strange he reproveth her so sharply for it. And yet it seems hard to think that Job’s wife should arrive at that height of impudence and impiety, as in plain terms to bid him curse God.
As one of the foolish women, i.e. like a rash, and inconsiderate, and weak person that dost not understand nor mind what thou sayest. Or, like a wicked and most profane person; for such are frequently called fools in Scripture, as Psalms 14:1 74:18, and everywhere in the Proverbs.
Shall we poor worms give laws to our supreme Lord and Governor, and oblige him always to bless and favour us, and never to afflict us? And shall not those great, and manifold, and long-continued mercies, which from time to time God hath freely and graciously given us, compensate for these short afflictions? Ought we not to bless God for those mercies which we did not deserve, and contentedly to bear those corrections which we deserve and need, and (if it be not our own fault) may get much good by.
In all this did not Job sin with his lips, by any reflections upon God, by any impatient or unbecoming expressions.
They were persons then eminent for birth and quality, for wisdom and knowledge, and for the profession of the true religion, being probably of the posterity of Abraham, and akin to Job, and living in the same country with him.
Afar off, to wit, at some convenient distance from him; whom they found sitting upon the ground, either in the open air, or within his own house.
Knew him not; his countenance being so fearfully changed and disfigured by his boils.
Sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven; either upon the upper part of their heads, which look towards heaven; or cast it up into the air, so as it should fall upon their heads, as they did Acts 22:23. See Joshua 6:6 Nehemiah 9:1 Lamentations 2:10.
Sat down with him upon the ground, in the posture of mourners condoling with him.
Seven days and seven nights was the usual time of mourning for the dead, Genesis 1:10 1 Samuel 31:13, and therefore proper both for Job’s children, who were dead, and for Job himself, who was in a manner dead whilst he lived. But we must not fancy that they continued in this place and posture so long together, which no laws of religion or civility required of them, and the necessities of nature could not bear; but only that they spent a great or the greatest part of that time in sitting with him, and silent mourning over him. And so such general expressions are frequently understood, as Luke 2:37 24:53 Acts 20:31.
None spake a word to him; either,
1. About any thing. Or rather,
2. About his afflictions, and the causes of them. The reason of this silence was, partly the greatness of their grief for him, and their surprise and astonishment at his condition; partly, because they thought it convenient to give him some further time to vent his own sorrows; and partly, because as yet they knew not what to say to him: for though they had ever esteemed him to be a truly wise and godly man, and came with full purpose to comfort him; yet the prodigious greatness of his miseries, and that hand and displeasure of God which they manifestly perceived in them, made them at a stand, and to question Job’s sincerity; so that they could not comfort him as they had intended, and yet were loth to grieve him with those convictions and reproofs which they thought he greatly needed. And here they stuck till Job gave them occasion to speak their minds.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25