The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, and who is he?
The earth is given into the hands of the wicked,.... Either the wicked one, Satan, as Jarchi and Bar Tzemach, who is the god of this world; or some wicked tyrant, as Nimrod, or some other known by Job in his time, to whom he may have respect; or wicked men in general, who for the most part have the greatest share of the earth, and earthly things, and of power, dominion, and authority in it; and this they have of God, the powers that be are ordained by him, and therefore to be obeyed; and what any have of the earth, and the fulness of it, they have it from him, whose it is, and who has a right to dispose of it, and therefore being given by him, they have a proper right unto it; but then it is only the things of this world which are given them; they have their portion here, and that is their all; wherefore, as the giving of these is no proof of a man's goodness, so the taking of them away is no evidence of his wickedness; love or hatred are not to be known by these things; this is Job's scope and drift in this and Job 9:23:
he covereth the face of the judges thereof; not Satan, who blinds the minds of such, that they should not understand justice, and do it, as the above Jewish writers interpret it; nor the wicked man that is possessed of riches and wealth, power and authority, who by his substance bribes the judges, and blinds their eyes, or by his power and authority awes them, keeps them from executing true judgment, or discourages persons fit for such an office, and will not advance them, but lets them lie in, and covers them with, obscurity; or such who are honest and faithful, and are not to be bribed and browbeaten, these he either removes from their post, and covers their faces with shame, or takes them away by death, condemns and executes them as malefactors; it being usual in former times, as well as in ours, to cover the faces of such as are executed: but rather this is to be understood of God, who delivers the earth into the hands of the wicked, suffers them to have the rule over it, and permits such things to be done, as already observed; and besides, gives up the judges of the earth to judicial blindness, so that they cannot discern what is right and just, and do it, see Isaiah 29:10;
if not, where and who is he? if it is not so as I say, where is the man, and who is he, that can disprove me, and make me a liar? as Aben Ezra; let him come forth and appear, and confute me, and teach me otherwise if he can; or name the place of his abode, and say who he is; or if God does not do this, give the earth into the hands of wicked men, and cover the faces of the judges of it, and suffer wicked men to prevail, and the causes of good men to be subverted, the one to flourish, and the other to be crushed; who does do it? where is the man that has done or can do it? certain it is, that it is done; and who but that God that superintends all things, sits in the heavens, and does whatsoever he pleases, can do such things as these? or could they be done without his will and permission? by such mediums Job proves his assertion, that God destroys the perfect and the wicked; and therefore, by the face of things in providence, no judgment is to be had of a man's character, good or bad, and then instances in himself in the following verses.