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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Job 9

 

 


Verses 1-35


Job's Second Speech (Job 9, 10)

Job 9, 10 are, perhaps, in their religious and moral aspects the most difficult in the book.

Driver in his 'Introduction to the Literature of the OT.' analyses them as follows:—'Job as well as his friends believes suffering to be a mark of God's displeasure for some grave sin. Job, however, is conscious that he has not so sinned. Hence the terrible dilemma in which he finds himself and which forces him to the conclusion that God, though He knows him to be innocent (Job 10:7), is determined to treat him as guilty, and that it is hopeless for him to attempt to clear himself.' Davidson characterises the leading features of the speech as 'awe before an Omnipotent Power, and moral terror and indignation, mixed with piteous despair at the indiscriminate severity with which it crushes men!' The strange blending of conflicting emotions is one of the most striking features in this and some other of Job's speeches. With great skill and psychological insight the poet has shown us the rebellion which, springing from God's apparent cruelty, gives place for the moment to a softened mood as the sufferer recalls his former life in God's favour. Then this, in turn, is brushed aside to make way for a darker accusation than ever; God had deliberately led him on to believe in His love that He might make all the bitterer the revelation of His hate. Then the mood changes once more and he appeals to the pity of that God, whose pitilessness he has just asserted.

2-13. Job admits that it is impossible for him to maintain his righteousness before God. But this he implies is not due to his consciousness of guilt, but to the hopelessness of attempting to defend himself against God's irresistible power which is manifested throughout creation.

3. If he will] RM 'If one should desire to.'

Contend] argue his cause. One of a thousand] viz. charges against him, or questions with which he might be entrapped.

5. And they know not: which overturneth] RV 'And they know it not when he overturneth.' The catastrophe is so sudden.

6. The v. describes an earthquake. The roots of the mountains were thought of as pillars supporting the earth: cp. Job 26:11; Psalms 75:3.

7. It riseth not] because of darkness or eclipse. Sealeth up] i.e. in the abode where the stars were thought to dwell, and where they were brought forth by night to shine in the sky (Isaiah 40:26).

8. Cp. Isaiah 40:22. The points of resemblance between the book of Job and the latter part of Isaiah are striking and frequent.

9. Arcturus] RV 'the Bear.' The Heb. names in this v. are supposed to refer to three well-known constellations, the Bear, the Pleiades, and Orion. Chambers of the south] the southern heavens. So the Babylonians divided the sky into 'lunar mansions.'

11. Job is baffled by the suddenness and mystery of God's actions. There is no escaping Him.

13. RV 'God will not withdraw his anger; the helpers of Rahab do stoop under him.' The word 'Rahab,' which means 'pride,' occurs again in Job 26:12 RV, and is there evidently applied to the raging sea. 'This stormy sea, assaulting heaven with its waves, was personified in ancient myth as a monster leading his helpers on to wage war with heaven' (Davidson). Rahab is the same as Tiâmat (see on Job 7:12). The myth relates that she brought forth a brood of monsters to help her in her battle. To this the term 'helpers of Rahab' alludes. See also Isaiah 51:9.

14-21. God, Job feels, is resolved to regard him as guilty. It is therefore vain to assert his innocence, yet while he can assert it he will.

15. Would I not] i.e. 'would I not dare to.' I would make supplication] rather, 'I must ask mercy.' It would be useless to attempt to establish his innocence. Judge] rather, 'adversary-at-law.'

16. 'If God allowed me to plead my cause, I cannot believe He would condescend to attend to me.' Job feels that God is indifferent to his cry for justice.

17, 18. Breaketh.. multiplieth.. will not suffer.. filleth] rather, 'would break.. would multiply.. would not suffer.. would fill.'

19. God is represented as speaking. 'If it be a question of strength, it is I who am strong; if of judgment, who would dare appoint me a day?' 'The words imply the irresponsibility and superiority to all law of the speaker' (Davidson).

20. Job speaks. Render, 'Though I am innocent, a word may put me in the wrong; though I am upright, He can pervert me.' It is therefore useless to plead.

21. RV 'I am perfect; I regard not myself; I despise my life.' Job now boldly asserts that he is innocent, even though it may cost him his life.

22-24. Job boldly arraigns the morality of the divine government of the world.

22. This is one thing] RV 'It is all one.' Apparently he means, 'It makes no difference whether I live or die.' God destroys indiscriminately both innocent and guilty. This directly controverts the friends' view (Job 8:20). There is no such thing as a moral government of the world.

23. Scourge] e.g. famine, etc.

Trial] RM 'calamity.'

24. He covereth the faces, etc.] so that they are blind to justice.

If not, where, etc.] RV 'If it be not he, who then is it?' To whom but God can this state of things be ascribed?

25-31. Job's life speeds away; God will make him out to be guilty however pure he may be.

25, 26. Cp. Wisdom of Solomon 5:9-10, where two of the same metaphors are similarly used.

25. A post] RM a 'runner' with messages.

26. Swift ships] Heb. 'ships of reed,' light boats made from the papyrus reed, and very swift.

28. Since God is determined to hold Job guilty, it is useless for him to try and establish his innocence. I am afraid of all my sorrows] because they seem to be evidences of God's anger. Apparently there were times when the pain was less acute, but the cheerfulness he might have felt was checked by the knowledge that it would come back again.

29. If I be wicked] RV 'I shall be condemned.'

30. And make, etc.] RM 'And cleanse my hands with lye,' or potash. He means that he is really righteous, but God is deteimined to make him seem wicked.

32-35. Job is conscious that he cannot meet God on his own level and plead his cause on equal terms, nor is there any one to act as mediator.

33. Daysman] an Old English word meaning 'umpire,' or 'arbitrator'; one who mediates between two parties.

33-35. Translate (with Cox): 'There is no arbiter between us to lay his hand upon us both, who would remove His (God's) rod from me so that the dread of Him should not overawe me. If there were, I would speak and not fear Him.' Job laments that there is no being, having power with God and man, who would interpose and arbitrate between him and God, and make both parties yield to his decision.

This passage is the first occurrence of the idea of intervention on his behalf, which takes more definite shape in Job 16:19 and Job 19:25-27. But in those passages Job advances to the thought that, since he has no umpire to vindicate him, God Himself will be bis umpire, and vindicate Job even against Himself. This longing of pious men of old for some mediator who would bring about peace between them and God has been satisfied in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, both God and man.

34. His fear] i.e. the fear He causes, as in Exodus 23:27.

35. But it is not so with me] RV 'For I am not so in myself,' i.e. In my own soul I am not guilty.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Job 9:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/job-9.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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