Job 22:12
Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the stars, how high they are!
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Job 22:12. Is not God in the height of heaven? — Surely, he is; and from that high tower he looketh down upon men, to behold, and govern, and recompense all their actions, whether good or bad. And, therefore, O Job, thou art grossly mistaken, in thinking that good men suffer as deeply as any others in this lower world, while the vilest of men flourish and are exalted; which would imply that all things are managed here by chance, or without any regard to justice and to just men, and not by the wise and holy providence of God. Behold the stars, how high they are — Yet God is far higher than they, and from thence can easily observe all men and things here below.

22:5-14 Eliphaz brought heavy charges against Job, without reason for his accusations, except that Job was visited as he supposed God always visited every wicked man. He charges him with oppression, and that he did harm with his wealth and power in the time of his prosperity.Is not God in the height of heaven? - In the highest heaven. That is, Is not God exalted over all worlds? This seems to be intended to refer to the sentiments of Job, as if he had maintained that God was so exalted that he could not notice what was occurring on earth. It should, therefore, be read in connection with the following verse: "God is so exalted, that thou sayest, How can he know? Can he look down through the thick clouds which intervene between him and man?" Job had maintained no such opinion, but the process of thought in the mind of Eliphaz seems to have been this. Job had maintained that God did "not" punish the wicked in this life as they deserved, but that they lived and prospered. Eliphaz "inferred" that he could hold that opinion only because he supposed that God was so exalted that he could not attend to worldly affairs. He knew no other way in which the opinion could be held, and he proceeds to argue "as if" it were so.

Job had in the previous chapter appealed to plain "facts," and had rested his whole argument on them. Eliphaz, instead of meeting the "facts" in the case, or showing that they did not exist as Job said they did, considered his discourse as a denial of Divine Providence, and as representing God to be so far above the earth that he could not notice what was occurring here. How common is this in theological controversy! One man, in defending his opinions, or in searching for the truth, appeals to "facts," and endeavors to ascertain their nature and bearing. His adversary, instead of meeting them, or showing that they are not so, at once appeals to some admitted doctrine, to some established article of a creed, or to some tradition of the fathers, and says that the appeal to fact is but a denial of an important doctrine of revelation. It is easier to charge a man with denying the doctrine of Providence, or to call him by a harsh name, than it is to meet an argument drawn from fact and from the plain meaning of the Bible.

And behold the height of the stars - Margin, as in Hebrew "head" - ראשׁ rô'sh. God is more exalted than the highest of the stars. The stars are the highest objects in view, and the sense, therefore, is, that God is infinitely exalted.

12. Eliphaz says this to prove that God can from His height behold all things; gratuitously inferring that Job denied it, because he denied that the wicked are punished here.

height—Hebrew, "head of the stars"; that is, "elevation" (Job 11:8).

Is not God in the height of heaven? Surely he is; and from that high tower he looketh down upon men, Psalm 14:2, to behold, and govern, and recompense all their actions, whether good or bad. And therefore, O Job, thou art grossly mistaken, in thinking that all things in this lower world are managed by chance, and without any regard to justice, or to just men, and not by the wise and holy providence of God; for this is the genuine consequence of thy great principle, that good men suffer as deeply as any others, whilst the vilest of men are exalted and flourish.

Behold the height of the stars, how high they are; yet God is far higher than they, and from thence can easily spy all men and things here below; as the highest places afford the best prospects.

Is not God in the height of heaven?.... The heaven is high, it has its name from its height, and is noted for it; some of the heavens are higher than others, as the heaven of heavens, the third heaven, the habitation of angels and glorified saints; and here God dwells, this is the habitation of his holiness, and the high and holy place he inhabits; his throne is in heaven, in the heaven of heavens is his throne, where he in an especial manner manifests his glory, and the lustre of it; he is not indeed continued here, the heaven of heavens cannot contain him, he is everywhere; yet this is his court and palace, where his residence and retinue is and angels behold his face, and wait upon him; and because this is the principal seat of his majesty, it becomes one of his names, Daniel 4:26; and the words here will bear to be rendered, "is not God the height of the heavens?" (t) or, as the Vulgate Latin version, "higher than the heavens"; he is above them, more exalted than they, being the Creator of them, see Hebrews 7:26;

and behold the height of the stars, how high they are; or "the head" or "top of the stars" (u), which Ben Gersom interprets of the supreme orb, or that high and vast space in which the fixed stars are, or the highest of them, which are at the greatest distance; according to Mr. Huygens (w) a cannon ball discharged would be twenty five years in passing from the earth to the sun, from, Jupiter to the sun an hundred twenty five years, from Saturn two hundred fifty, and from the sun to the dog star (v) 691,600 years; and if therefore it would be so long going to the nearest of the fixed stars, how great must be the distance of them from our earth, which are so much higher than the dog star as that is from the sun? But, though these are so exceeding high, yet God is higher than they, see Isaiah 14:13; the truth contained in these words was what both Eliphaz and Job were agreed in, let them be spoken by which they will, some ascribing them to the One, and some to the other; from whence Eliphaz represents Job drawing an inference very impious, blasphemous, and atheistical.

(t) "sublimitas coelorum", Bolducius; "altitudo coeli", Michaelis; "altitudo coelorum", Schultens. (u) "capat stellarum", Montanus, Bolaucius, Mercerus, Cocceius; "verticem stellarum", V. L. Tigurine version, Michaelis, Schultens. (w) Cosmotheoros, l. 2. p. 125, 137. (v) (The Dog Star is the brighest star in the heavens when viewed from the earth. It has a visual magnitude of -1.4 and is 8.7 light years from the earth. It is in the constellation Sirius. The closest star to the earth is Centaurus and has a visual magnitude of 0 and is 4.3 light years from the earth. It is several times fainter the the Dog Star but is still quite bright compared to neighbouring stars. 1969 Oberserver's Handbook, p. 74, 75. The Royal Astonomical Society of Canada, Toronto, Ontario. Editor)

Is not God in the {g} height of heaven? and behold the height of the {h} stars, how high they are!

(g) He accuses Job of impiety and contempt of God, as thought he would say, If you pass not for men, yet consider the height of God's majesty.

(h) That so much the more by that excellent work you may fear God, and reverence him.

12, 13. Eliphaz points to God’s place of abode in the lofty heavens (Job 22:12); and under this feeling of His infinite distance from the earth Job said, How doth God know? Men’s conduct was not observed by Him; the thick clouds obscured His vision.

And thou sayest] Rather, and thou saidst. On this mode of thought comp. Psalm 94:7; Isaiah 29:15; Ezekiel 8:12.

12–20. Eliphaz, having in Job 22:6-10 suggested what Job’s offences must have been, now suggests under what feeling in regard to God he must have committed them. He thought God so far removed from the world that He did not observe men’s conduct.

Verse 12. - Is not God in the height of heaven? From taxing Job with definite open sins, Eliphaz proceeds to accuse him of impious thoughts and principles. He does not acknowledge, Eliphaz says, either the majesty or the omniscience of God. Here he has, at any rate, some tangible ground for his reproaches. Job's words have been over-bold, over-venturesome. He has seemed to forget the distance between God and man (Job 9:30-33; Job 10:2, 3; Job 13:3, etc.), and to call in question either God's omniscience or his regard for moral distinctions (Job 9:22, 23; Job 21:7-13, 23-26). Hence Eliphaz is enabled to take a high tone and ask, "Hast thou forgotten that God is in the height of heaven, far up above all us poor wretched mortals? Dost thou need to be reminded of this? He is above the stars, and yet behold the height of the stars, how high they are! Even they are infinitely above men, yet how far below him!" (comp. Job 35:5). Job 22:1212 Is not Eloah high as the heavens?

See but the head of the stars, how exalted!

13 So then thou thinkest: "What doth God know?

Can He judge through the thick cloud?

14 Clouds veil Him that He seeth not,

And in the vault of heaven He walketh at His pleasure."

Because Job has denied the distribution of worldly fortune, of outward prosperity and adversity, according to the law of the justice that recompenses like for like, Eliphaz charges him with that unbelief often mentioned in the Psalms (Psalm 73:11; Psalm 94:7; comp. Isaiah 29:15; Ezekiel 8:12), which denies to the God in heaven, as Epicurus did to the gods who lead a blessed life in the spaces between the worlds, a knowledge of earthly things, and therefore the preliminary condition for a right comprehension of them. The mode of expression here is altogether peculiar. גּבהּ שׁמים is not acc. loci, as the like accusatives in combination with the verb שׁכן, Isaiah 57:15, may be taken: the substantival clause would lead one to expect בּגבהּ, or better בּגבהי (Job 11:8); it is rather (similar to Job 11:8) nomin. praedicati: Eloah is the height of the heavens equals heaven-high, as high as the heavens, therefore certainly highly, and indeed very highly, exalted above this earth. In this sense it is continued with Waw explic.: and behold ( equals behold then) the head of the stars, that, or how (כּי as in Genesis 49:15; 1 Samuel 14:29, quod equals quam) exalted they are. וּראה has Asla (Kadma) in correct texts, and רמו is written רמּוּ (râmmu) with a so-called Dag. affectuosum (Olsh. 83, b). It may be received as certain that ראשׁ, the head (vertex), beside ראה (not ספר), does not signify the sum (Aben-Ezra). But it is questionable whether the genitive that follows ראשׁ is gen. partitivus: the highest among the stars (Ew., Hirz., Schlottm.), or gen. epexegeticus: the head, i.e., (in relation to the rest of the universe) the height, which is formed by the stars, or even which they occupy (Ges. coelum stellatum); the partitive rendering is to be preferred, for the Semitic perception recognises, as the plural שׁמים implies, nearer and more distant celestial spheres. The expression "head of the stars" is therefore somewhat like fastigium coeli (the extreme height, i.e., the middle of the vault of heaven), or culmen aereum (of the aether separating the strata of air above); the summit of the stars rising up into the extremest spheres is intended (we should say: the fixed stars, or to use a still more modern expression, the milky way), as also the רמו naturally refers to ראשׁ כוכבים as one notion (summitas astrorum equals summa astra).

The connection of what follows with Waw is not adversative (Hirz., Ew., and others: and yet thou speakest), it is rather consecutive (Hahn: and since thou speakest; better: and in consequence of this thou speakest; or: thus speakest thou, thinkest thou then). The undeniable truth that God is exalted, and indeed absolute in His exaltation, is misapplied by Job to the false conclusion: what does God know, or (since the perf. in interrogative sentences frequently corresponds to the Latin conjunctive, vid., on Psalm 11:3) how should God know, or take knowledge, i.e., of anything that happens on earth? In Job 22:13 the potential takes the place of this modal perfect: can He rule judicially behind the dark clouds, i.e., over the world below from which He is shut out? בּעד (of like verbal origin with the Arab. b‛da, post, prop. distance, separation, succession, but of wider use) signifies here, as in Job 1:10; Job 9:7, behind, pone, with the secondary notion of being encompassed or covered by that which shuts off. Far from having an unlimited view of everything earthly from His absolute height, it is veiled from His by the clouds, so that He sees not what occurs here below, and unconcerned about it He walks the circle of the heavens (that which vaults the earth, the inhabitants of which seem to Him, according to Isaiah 40:22, as grasshoppers); התלּך is here, after the analogy of Kal, joined with the accus. of the way over which He walks at His pleasure: orbem coelum obambulat. By such unworthy views of the Deity, Job puts himself on a par with the godless race that was swept away by the flood in ancient days, without allowing himself to be warned by this example of punishment.

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