What is man, that he should be clean? - אנוש מה mah enosh ; what is weak, sickly, dying, miserable man, that he should be clean? This is the import of the original word enosh.
And - born of a woman, that he should be righteous? - It appears, from many passages in the sacred writings, that natural birth was supposed to be a defilement; and that every man born into the world was in a state of moral pollution. Perhaps the word יצדק yitsdak should be translated, that he should justify himself, and not that he should be righteous.
What is man that he should be clean? - The object of Eliphaz in this is to overturn the positions of Job that he was righteous, and had been punished beyond his deserts. He had before maintained Job 4:7, that no one ever perished being innocent, and that the righteous were not cut off. This was with him a favorite position; and indeed the whole drift of the argument maintained by him and his friends was, to prove that uncommon calamities were proof of uncommon guilt. Job had insisted on it that he was a righteous man, and had not deserved the calamities which had come upon him - a position which Eliphaz seems to have regarded as an assertion of innocence. To meet this he now maintains that no one is righteous; that all that are born of women are guilty; and in proof of this he goes back to the oracle which had made so deep an impression on his mind, and to the declaration then made to him that no one was pure before God; Job 4: He does not repeat it exactly as the oracle was then delivered to him, but adverts to the substance of it, and regards it as final and indisputable. The meaning is, “What are all the pretensions of man to purity, when even the angels are regarded as impure and the heavens unclean?”
He which is born of a woman - Another mode of denoting man. No particular argument to maintain the doctrine of man‘s depravity is couched in the fact that he is born of a woman. The sense is, simply, how can anyone of the human family be pure?