JOB 12

Job's knowledge not inferior to that of his friends: vv. 1-5.

1 And Job answered and said,

Following the first words uttered by Zophar in ch. 11, which proved to be a far more stinging attack on Job than what had previously been said, Job takes his time in answering...*

2 No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.

Zophar's air of superiority aroused the ire of Job*

Job becoming fed up with his friend's denunciations resorts to irony. Friends were imputing iniquity to Job falsely (Luke 6:37). We must not be guilty of judging men's hearts only the Lord can do this.

3 But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: yea, who knoweth not such things as these?

These were the early days when knowledge of Elohim was common among the people - compared to the total darkness and ignorance of the present day.

4 I am as one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon Eloah, and he answereth him: the just upright man is laughed to scorn.

5 He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease.

...those who seem to be prospering are continually looking for the godly to Asaph in Psa. 73:2 and also read v. 17*

"Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end".

How easy it is for such a godly person to be humbled, and Job was learning the hard lesson*

When we ourselves are in comfort - beware not to despise the poor and needy

6 The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke El are secure; into whose hand Eloah bringeth abundantly.

The wicked prosper in spite of the dogma of his friends*

Yahweh omnipotent in all creation

7 But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:

Job considers the almighty power and wisdom of Yahweh.

From those premises he proceeds to show that he has thought on the problem more deeply than his friends (cp. ch. 13:1-2), but now desires to set his own case personally before God. God is just, so that there must be an answer to his problem (ch. 13:3-13).*


9 Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of Yahweh hath wrought this?

10 In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.


The spirit of a man is truly his own spirit while he exists; but there is a higher sense in which it is not his, but the Almighty's.

"In whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways."-(Dan. v, 23.)

"In Him we live and move, and have our being."-(Acts xvii, 28.)

It is in opposition to immortal-soulism that we quote these passages, and have alleged the human spirit to be God's property, and not man's.

This theory [which is of pagan origin,] represents the spirit as the entity, the person, the man, and the body as something possessed. The scriptures on the other hand speak of the spirit as a thing possessed by the body, which is the man.

"The spirit of God is in my nostrils."-(Job xxvii, 3.)

"He formeth the spirit of man within him."-(Zec. xii, 1.)

"Receive my spirit."

All of which phraseology, be it observed, is scripturally applicable to the brute creation. This is the strong point of the argument. Orthodoxy claims the statements quoted as proofs of immortal-soulism; but if the claim is good, it proves that animals have immortal souls; for of them we read "they (men and beasts) have one breath." (spirit; the same word)-(Eccl. iii, 19).

"In all their nostrils (fowl, cattle, beast, creeping thing, and every man) is the breath of life."-(Gen. vii, 22). "Thou takest away their (the beasts') breath (spirit: the same word): they die."-(Psalm civ, 29.)

Neither men nor beasts have, nor are, immortal souls. They are ephemeral forms of life, organised from the dust, and sustained in being by the great spirit which proceeds from the Father of all creation, and fills the universe. There will, in due time, be imperishable forms of life on the earth. Immortality has been brought to light by Jesus Christ through the gospel, (2 Tim. i, 10.) and all who believe, and to the very end obey in all things the gospel, will be raised from the dust, and receive the glorious gift by spirit effused upon them.

The Ambassador of the Coming Age, Dec 1867. p317


But, leaving the Devil and his foolishness to themselves, we turn to Moses, and inquire of him the import of the phrase

"man became a living soul."

In regard to this, we find Moses very communicative. In the text before us his words are

wa-yehi hah-adam le-nephesh khaiyah, which signifies literally,

"and the groundling was for a body of life."

This is a very simple and intelligible statement. He had told us before that he came out of the ground; and hence the propriety of translating Adam by "groundling." Then Job says, "the breath of Shaddai gave me life," which is also according to Moses, so that the groundling became "a body of life," which it was not before the breath, or air, entered into it.

Were Moses, then, now among us, and we were to request him to express our phrase "living soul" in Hebrew, he would utter the words nephesh khaiya; and were we to ask him to bring it back into English, he would, we doubt not, write "a body of life."

"It is to be noted," says Gesenius "that khaiyah is the genitive of the substantive life,‭ ‬and not feminine of the adjective khai, "living." Hence "of life" is the proper rendering, and not "living," as in the English version.

As to nehphesh from‭ ‬nahphash,‭ ‬which signifies to‭ ‬breathe,‭ ‬to‭ ‬respire,‭ ‬several meanings are attached to it in Scripture.‭ ‬It answers to ψνχη in the Greek,‭ ‬and‭ ‬anima in the Latin‭; ‬and is variously rendered in English by breath,‭ ‬air,‭ ‬odor,‭ ‬perfume,‭ ‬life,‭ ‬animal,‭ ‬body,‭ ‬soul,‭ ‬etc.‭ ‬Of all these‭ "‬animal‭" ‬or‭ "‬body‭" ‬is the word to be used in Gen.‭ ‬2:7.‭ ‬In Numb.‭ ‬6:6,‭ ‬it is so used.‭—

There the phrase is nephesh maith, literally, a body of death, which is equivalent to a dead body; and is so rendered in the English Version.

The groundling becomes a nephesh maith when it ceases to breathe the nishmath khaiyim, or air of lives, or "the vital air."

Thus, then, the nephesh khaiyah and the nephesh maith are expressive of the groundling in two states—the breathing and the non-breathing. Before Yahweh Elohim had breathed into the nostrils of the groundling he had formed it was nephesh maith, "a body of death," in the non-breathing state; but after that operation was completed, it was nephesh khaiyah, "a body of life" in the breathing state.

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jan 1860