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graced his table, and were esteemed the fairest women in all that country, to whom their father gave an inheritance among their brethren.
No sooner was the fame of Job's recovery, and the restoration of his prosperity known, than bis kindred* and acquaintance, from all parts, come to congratulate him upon this happy change: nor did they come empty handed; for every one brought him a present of money or some other valuable;† so many contributing, he soon became exceedingly wealthy; and to make his terrestrial happiness still greater, God blessed him with a prolongation of life far beyond the common extent of those times; for he lived an hundred and forty years after his restoration, which made his age above two hundred years; so that he saw the increase of his family to the fourth generation.
THE Book of Job presents to our minds many excellent and instructive lessons. We We may learn on how very precarious a tenure all our earthly blessings are held, and that, we must therefore never "trust in uncertain riches."
The conduct of Divine Providence is exhibited in the most striking light, for it seems to be a principal design of the book to teach us that God, for wise ends, may permit the wicked greatly to prosper, while the righteous are oppressed, afflicted, and tormented; but that this affords no reason to say, "It is in vain to serve the Lord."
Kindred. The text calls them brothers and sisters, which, according to Scripture style used to comprehend all kindred. Now, among all the rest of Job's friends there is no mention at last made of his wife upon this happy change; unless she be included in the number of his kindred; which is not unlikely.
+ Valuable. This ancient custom still prevails all over Arabia and the East.Presents, chiefly in money, are made by the natives to their Princes and great men, not only on their accession to power, but on their return from distant excursions; and more especially on their recovery from sickness.-The money so given frequently amounts to a very large sum. VOL. I.
The "Patience of Job" is particularly set before us by the apostle James, as truly exemplary-" Ye have. "heard of the patience of Job."
But there is one circumstance in the case of this excellent man, too generally overlooked-the prevalence of a self-righteous temper, and sonte expressions in his vindications of himself, not consistent with that humility which marked his general character. He seems to have claimed a degree of perfection to which no fallen man is entitled, as when he said, "I am clean without transgression.* I "am innocent, neither is there iniquity in me. My foot "hath held his steps, his way have I kept and not de“clined, neither have I gone back from the command"ment of his lips. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go; my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live." He seems even to challenge the Almighty to a dispute: "Let him take his rod away from me; and "let not his fear terrify me: then would I speak and not "fear him. Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I "desire to reason with God. O that I knew where I
might find him! that I might come even to his seat! "I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth "with arguments. Behold my desire is that the Almighty "would answer me."
Elihu justly reproves Job for thus justifying himself ; declaring himself to be in God's place as his teacher: and to his reproof, Job quietly submits, making no reply, as he did to his three friends. Elihu enlarges on the holiness and majesty of God, and points out the proper use to be made of affliction. After describing the case of a man distressed like Job, he adds, "If there be a messen46 ger with him, the-Angel-Mediator, who by way of "eminence is styled, One among a Thousand, if he shall
appear, and intercede in his behalf, and shew to the "humbled man his uprightness-his own divine righteous"ness, (for man's own righteousness is ever defective).
Ch. xxxiii. 9.
+ Cb. xxiii. 11, 12.
Cb. ix. 34. xiii. 3. 22. xxiii. 3, 4. xxxi. 35.
Cb. xxvii. 6.
"then he is gracious to him, and saith, Deliver him from "going down to the pit, I have found a ransom.-Save "the man from perishing, for my justice is satisfied, and "the sinner's soul is redeemed by the atonement made "by the Messiah in his behalf." This discourse of Elihu, enforced by the word of God in the whirlwind, effectually humbled the self-righteous spirit of Job, who instead of justifying himself any longer, cries out, "I ab"hor myself and repent in dust an ashes." Thus the weakness of man is exposed, the necessity of his being clothed with humility, and depending only on the righte ousness of God the Saviour for eternal life is fully declared and thus, in the example of Job, the world is taught that the "LORD is our righteousness," and that he "who glorieth, must glory only in Him."
BOOK THE SECOND
ET us now return to Jacob's family, whom we left employed in embalming Joseph : after whose death, a new king succeeding in Egypt, who had no personal know. ledge of Joseph, and the whole generation of people who in the great famine had tasted of his provident care being now dead, there remained no other monument of Joseph's service to the crown of Egypt, than the advancement of its revenues; which ought to have been a consideration suf ficient of itself to induce the new monarch to be favourable to the Israelites.
But he looked with a different eye upon them; for ob serving how rapidly they increased, he began to entertain a jealousy of their growing numbers; and observing that the land of Goshen where they dwelt was too limited for their accommodation, he feared lest at a future day they might be powerful enough to assume the govern ment of Egypt. Therefore calling his council together, he acquaints them with his fears: they unanimously agree with their jealous prince in the expedient he proposed to check the growing danger suspected from the Israelites; which was by employing them in making bricks, and building store-cities for Pharaoh. And to gratify their avarice as well as cruelty, they proposed not only to reap the profits of their service, but by continual
hard labour to impoverish their spirits, and enfeeble their bodies therefore they set task-masters to oversee and keep them to hard labour, by which and other servile work they made their lives very uncomfortable. But God supported them under these severities; for, the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more they grew and multiplied; this increased their jealousy to a greater degree of cruelty; for the king, to suppress their growth, sent for two of the Hebrew midwives,* Shiphrah and Puah, and gave them a strict charge, that when they should be called to do their office to the Hebrew women, if the child were a son, they should kill him; but if a daughter, that she should live.
The pious midwives, having a greater regard to the law of God and nature than to the cruel and unnatural command of the king, went on in their usual way, and preserved the male as well as female children; upon which Pharaoh sends for them again, and in great displeasure severely reprimands their neglect of his edict: in excuse for which they tell him, That the Hebrew women were not as the Egyptian women, for they had generally such a quick and easy labour, that they rarely needed their services. The piety of the midwives in preserving the male children was so acceptable to God, that he is said thereupon to deal well with them; and because they feared God he made them houses. And by this means the people multiplied, and grew mighty. The king, whether satisfied or not with this answer of the midwives, not finding it safe to trust to them any longer, resolves upon
Midwives. The critics very needlessly, and with more subtilty than solidity controvert who those midwives were, and whether they were Hebrews or Egyptians? Without doubt they were Hebrews, and, by the king of Egypt's application to them, the most celebrated of their profession.
Houses. That is, he made them to prosper, gave them children, and blessed their families. The word house being usually in Scripture taken for the offspring or family of any one; as the house of Aaron, Judah, David, &c. is put for the family of Aaron, Judah, David, &c. Some suppose they were married to the Israelites, and Hebrew families were built up by them,