Job 33:16
Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,
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(16) Then he openeth the ears of men and sealeth.—Comp. Job 14:17 : “My transgression is sealed in a bag.” “He openeth their ear,” that is, He showeth them that He will decree, confirm, and seal up their chastisement, the sentence that is to be executed upon them, if they will not repent. If taken in the sense of instruction, it must mean that He will complete and confirm it.

Job 33:16-17. Then he openeth the ears of men — When their minds are free from the business and cares of the day, he secretly whispers instruction upon their ears, and imprints it upon their minds, and that in such a manner that they do not let it slip, (as men usually do most things which they hear, either from God or men,) but retain and hold it fast, being fully assured of the truth and importance of it. That he may withdraw man from his purpose — That is, from the execution of his purpose. Hebrew, מעשׂה, magnaseh, his work, that is, his evil work, as the Chaldee and LXX. understand it; from sin, which is truly and properly called man’s work, because it hath its rise in and from him, and is very agreeable to his nature, in his present corrupt state; as, on the contrary, all the good that is in man is generally and properly ascribed to God in Scripture. And hide pride from man — Pride is here mentioned as the root of those evil purposes or works last spoken of, which, for the most part, proceed from haughtiness of spirit, whereby men scorn to submit themselves and their wills and actions to God’s authority, but resolve to follow their own wills and corrupt passions, in spite of God, and with contempt of him. By God’s hiding pride from man may be meant his taking it away, as he is said to hide sin when he removes the guilt and power of it. Or, pride may be here put for the occasion of it. And God by this means is said to hide pride from man, because, by these glorious representations of his divine majesty to man, he takes him off from the admiration of his own excellency, and brings him to a sight of his own weakness, and to an humble and ready submission to God’s will.

33:14-18 God speaks to us by conscience, by providences, and by ministers; of all these Elihu discourses. There was not then, that we know of, any Divine revelation in writing, though now it is our principal guide. When God designs men's good, by the convictions and dictates of their own consciences, he opens the heart, as Lydia's, and opens the ears, so that conviction finds or forces its way in. The end and design of these admonitions are to keep men from sin, particularly the sin of pride. While sinners are pursuing evil purposes, and indulging their pride, their souls are hastening to destruction. That which turns men from sin, saves them from hell. What a mercy it is to be under the restraints of an awakened conscience!Then he openeth the ears of men - Margin, as in Hebrew "revealeth," or "uncovereth." The idea is, that he then reveals to the ear of man important admonitions or counsels. He communicates valuable truth. We are not to understand this as saying that the sleeper actually hears God speak, but as the ear is the organ of hearing, it is employed here to denote that God then communicates His will to human beinigs. In what way he had access to the souls of people by dreams, it is impossible to explain.

And sealeth their instruction - literally, "In their admonition he seals;" or he affixes a seal. The idea is, that he makes the admonition or instruction as secure as if a seal were affixed to it. A seal ratified or confirmed a contract, a will, or a deed, and the sense here is, that the communications of God to the soul were as firm as if they had been ratified in like manner. Or possibly it may mean, that the warnings of God were communicated to the soul like a sealed letter or message unknown to any other; that is, were made privately to the individual himself in the slumbers of the night. Others have understood the word rendered instruction, as denoting castigation, or punishment, and according to that explanation the meaning would be, that he announces to them certain punishment if they continued in sin; he made it as certain to them as if it were ratified by a seal. So Rosenmuller and Mercer. Schultens supposes it to be equivalent to inspires them, or communicates instruction by inspiration as if it were confirmed and ratified by a seal. He observes that the Arabic word hhatham is often used in the Koran, meaning to inspire. The Septuagint renders it, ἀυτοὺς ἐξεφόβησεν autous exephobēsen - "he terrifies them" - where they evidently read יחתם yechathēm instead of יחתם yachthom. The sense is, that God communicates warnings to people on their beds, in a manner as solemn and impressive as if it were ratified with a seal, and made as secure as possible.

16. Literally, "sealeth (their ears) to Himself by warnings," that is, with the sureness and secrecy of a seal He reveals His warnings [Umbreit]. To seal up securely (Job 37:7). i.e. He revealeth his will to the ears and hearts of men, as this phrase is used, Job 36:10 Psalm 40:6 Isaiah 1:4; and he imprinteth those instructions which he hath revealed to their ears upon their minds, that after they have heard and received them they do not let them slip, as men commonly do most things which they hear, whether from God or men, but do retain and hold them fast, and are fully satisfied and assured of the truth and importance of them. Or, he sealeth their chastening, or correction, for so this word signifies as well as instruction, i.e. he gives them assurance of his purpose of correcting them for their sins, if they do not prevent it by a speedy repentance. Or, he sealeth it (i.e. his word conveyed to their ears and minds) with chastening them, i.e. he gives them assurance of the truth and reality of his revelation by striking them with a sacred dread and horror, as was usual in such dreams or night visions, as we see Job 4:13,15; which he did that they might remember it the better, and distinguish this from such vain dreams as are only the productions of man’s fancy.

Then he openeth the ears of men,.... Not the ears of his body, which remaining shut while things are presented to his mind in a dream or vision, but his internal ears; it is the same with opening the heart or understanding to attend to and receive the things delivered in this visionary way:

and sealeth their instruction; sends home the instruction given in this manner, and imprints it upon the mind, so that it is well remembered when awake, not only the dreams themselves, but the lessons taught and learnt there, as may be observed in the cases of Abimelech and Laban, Genesis 20:3; the word signifies "chastisement" (l) as well as instruction, that being one way in which God teaches and instructs men, Psalm 94:12; and so the sense may be, that God in a dream or vision makes it known to men, that if they regard not what he says to them, and repent not of their evils, and turn from them, he will correct and chastise them, and this he assures them of; and they may look for the certain performance of it, that he will visit their transgressions with a rod, and their iniquities with stripes; things that are sealed being sure and firm. Mr. Broughton renders the words, "and imprints why they are chastised."

(l) "disciplinam eorum", Tigurine version; "castigationem eorum", Beza, Vatablus, Drusius, Mercerus, Piscator, Michaelis, Schultens.

Then he openeth the ears of men, and {h} sealeth their instruction,

(h) That is, determined to send on them.

16. sealeth their instruction] The instruction is that communicated when the ear is opened, and a revelation given (comp. ch. Job 36:10; Job 36:15; 1 Samuel 9:15; Psalm 40:6); and “to seal’ it is to confirm it and give it abiding efficacy. This is done partly by the impressive circumstances and manner of the dream; compare the impression produced on Eliphaz, after the model of whose vision the passage seems moulded. Perhaps the figure of “sealing” the instruction arises from the idea of closing up again the opened ear over the divine communication.

Others understand by “instruction” here the chastisement of affliction, assuming that the person to whom the vision was sent was one under trouble. “Instruction” is possibly used in this sense by Elihu, ch. Job 36:10; but in this chap. the case of affliction seems introduced first in Job 33:19.

Verse 16. - Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction. At such times, Elihu holds, God gives men spiritual wisdom, instructs them, makes them understand his dealings with them and his purposes with respect to them. If Job is perplexed concerning the Almighty's ways with himself, and desires explanations, let him have his ear open to the Divine teaching on such occasions, and seriously lay it to heart. He will thus, it may be, find his perplexity diminished. Job 33:16Elihu now describes the first mode in which God speaks to man: He Himself comes forward as a witness in man's sleep, He makes use of dreams or dream-like visions, which come upon one suddenly within the realm of nocturnal thought (vid., Psychol. S. 282f.), as a medium of revelation - a usual form of divine revelation, especially in the heathen world, to which positive revelation is wanting. The reading בּחזיון (Codd., lxx, Syr., Symm., Jer.), as also the accentuation of the בחלום with Mehupach Legarme, proceeds from the correct assumption, that vision of the night and dream are not coincident notions; moreover, the detailing Job 33:15, is formed according to Job 4:13. In this condition of deep or half sleep, revelat aurem hominum, a phrase used of the preparation of the ear for the purpose of hearing by the removal of hindrances, and, in general, of confidential communication, therefore: He opens the ear of men, and seals their admonition, i.e., the admonition that is wholesome and necessary for them. Elihu uses חתם בּ here and Job 37:7 as חתם בּעד is used in Job 9:7 : to seal anything (to seal up), comp. Arab. ḥı̂m, σφραγίζειν, in the sense of infallible attestation and confirmation (John 6:27), especially (with Arab. b) of divine revelation or inspiration, distinct in meaning from Arab. chtm, σφραγίζειν, in the proper sense. Elihu means that by such dreams and visions, as rare overpowering facts not to be forgotten, God puts the seal upon the warning directed to them which, sent forth in any other way, would make no such impression. Most ancient versions (also Luther) translate as though it were יחתּם (lxx ἐξεφόβησεν αὐτούς). מסר is a secondary form to מוּסר, Job 36:10, which occurs only here. Next comes the fuller statement of the object of the admonition or warning delivered in such an impressive manner. According to the text before us, it is to be explained: in order that man may remove (put from himself) mischief from himself (Ges. 133, 3); but this inconvenient change of subject is avoided, if we supply a מ to the second, and read אדם ממעשׂה, as lxx ἀποστρέψαι ἄνθρωπον ἀπὸ ἀδικίας αὐτοῦ (which does not necessarily presuppose the reading ממעשׂהו), Targ. ab opere malo; Jer. not so good; ab his quae fecit. מעשׂה signifies facinus, an evil deed, as 1 Samuel 20:19, and פּעל, Job 36:9, evil-doing. The infin. constr. now passes into the v. fin., which would be very liable to misconstruction with different subjects: and in order that He (God) may conceal arrogance from man, i.e., altogether remove from him, unaccustom him to, render him weary of. the sin of pride (גּוה from גּוה equals גּאה, as Job 22:29, according to Ges., Ew., Olsh., for גּאוה equals גּאוה). Here everything in thought and expression is peculiar. Also חיּה, Job 33:18 (as Job 33:22, Job 33:28), for חיּים rof ,) (Job 33:30) does not occur elsewhere in the book of Job, and the phrase עבר בּשּׁלח here and Job 36:12 (comp. עבר בּשּׁחת, Job 33:28) nowhere else in the Old Testament. שׁלח (Arab. silâh, a weapon of offence, opp. metâ‛, a weapon of defence) is the engine for shooting, from שׁלח, emmittere, to shoot; and עבר בשׁלח is equivalent to נפל בעד השׁלח ot tnelaviuqe s, Joel 2:8, to pass away by (precipitate one's self into) the weapon for shooting. To deliver man from sin, viz., sins of carnal security and imaginary self-importance, and at the same time from an early death, whether natural or violent, this is the disciplinary design which God has in view in connection with this first mode of speaking to him; but there is also a second mode.
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