Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, May 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Job 3

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

After this - Dr. Good renders this, “at length.” It means after the long silence of his friends, and after he saw that there was no prospect of relief or of consolation.

Opened Job his mouth - The usual formula in Hebrew to denote thc commencement of a speech; see Matthew 5:2. Schultens contends that it means boldness and vehemency of speech, παῤῥησία parrēsia, or an opening of the mouth for the purpose of accusing, expostulating, or complaining; or to begin to utter some sententious, profound, or sublime maxim; and in support of this he appeals to Psalms 78:2, ard Proverbs 8:6. There is probably, however nothing more intended than to begin to speak. It is in accordance with Oriental views, where an act of speaking is regarded as a grave and important matter, and is entered on with much deliberation. Blackwell (Life of Homer, p. 43) remarks that the Turks, Arabs, Hindoos, and the Orientals in general, have little inclination to society and to general conversation, that they seldom speak, and that their speeches are sententious and brief, unless they are much excited. With such men, to make a speech is a serious matter, as is indicated by the manner in which their discourses are commonly introduced: “I will open my mouth,” or they “opened the mouth,” implying great deliberation and gravity. This phrase occurs often in Homer, Hesiod, Orpheus, and in Virgil (compare Aeneid vi. 75), as well as in the Bible. See Burder, in Rosenmuller’s Morgenland, “in loc.”

And cursed his day - The word rendered “curse” here, קלל qâlal is different from that used in Job 1:11; Job 2:9. It is the proper word to denote “to curse.” The Syriac adds, “the day in which he was born.” A similar expression occurs in Klopstock’s Messias, Ges. iii.

Wenn nun, aller Kinder beraubt, die verzweifelude Mutter,

Wuthend dem Tag. an dem sie gebahr, und gebohren ward, fluchet.

“When now of all her children robbed, the desperate mother enraged

Curses the day in which she bare, and was borne.”

Verse 2

And Job spake - Margin, as in Hebrew, “answered.” The Hebrew word used here ענה ânâh “to answer,” is often employed when one commences a discourse, even though no question had preceded. It is somewhat in the sense of replying to a subject, or of speaking in a case where a question might appropriately be asked; Isaiah 14:0:l0 (Hebrew), Zechariah 3:4; Deuteronomy 26:5 (Hebrew), Deuteronomy 27:14 (Hebrew). The word “to answer” ἀποκρίνομαι apokrinomai is frequently used in this way in the New Testament; Matthew 17:4, Matthew 17:17; Matthew 28:5; Mark 9:5; Mark 10:51, et al.

Verse 3

Let the day perish - “Perish the day! O that there had never been such a day! Let it be blotted from the memory of man! There is something singularly bold, sublime, and “wild” in this exclamation. It is a burst of feeling where there had been long restraint, and where now it breaks forth in the most vehement and impassioned manner. The word “perish” here יאבד yo'bad expresses the “optative,” and indicates strong desire. So the Septuagint, Ἀπόλοιτο Apoloito, “may it perish,” or be destroyed; compare Job 10:18. “O that I had given up the ghost.” Dr. Good says of this exclamation, “There is nothing that I know of, ia ancient or modern poetry, equal to the entire burst, whether in the wildness and horror of the imprecations. or the terrible sublimity of its imagery.” The boldest and most animated of the Hebrew poets have imitated it, and have expressed themselves in almost the same language, in scenes of distress. A remarkably similar expression of feeling is made by Jeremiah.

Cursed be the day wherein I was born:

Let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed!

Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying,

“A man child is born unto thee,”

Making him very glad.

Be that man as the cities which yahweh overthrew and repented not!

Yea, let him hear the outcry in the morning,

And the lamentation at noon day!

Jeremiah 20:14-16.

The sense of this expression in Job is plain. He wished there never had been such a day, and then he would not have been born. It is impossible to vindicate these expressions in Job and Jeremiah, unless it be on the supposition that it is highly worked poetic language, caused by sorrow so acute that it could not be expressed in prose. We are to remember, however, if this seems to us inconsistent with the existence of true piety, that Job had far less light than we have; that he lived at an early period of the world, when the views of the divine government were obscure, and that he was not sustained by the hopes and promises which the Christian possesses now. What light he had was probably that of tradition, and of the result of careful observation on the course of events. His topics of consolation must have been comparatively few. He had few or no promises to sustain him. He had not had before him, as we have, the example of the patient Redeemer. His faith was not sustained by those strong assurances which we have of the perfect rectitude of the divine government. Before we blame him too severely, we must place ourselves in imagination in his circumstances, and ask what our piety would have done under the trials which afflicted “him.” Yet with all allowances, it is not possible to vindicate this language; and while we cannot but admire its force and sublimity, and its unequalled power and boldness in expressing strong passion, we at the same time feel that there was a lack of proper submission and patience. - It is the impassioned language of a man who felt that he could bear no more; and there can be no doubt that it gave to Satan the hope of his anticipated triumph.

And the night in which it was said - Dr. Good renders this, “And the night which shouted.” Noyes, “And the night which said.” So Gesenius and Rosenmuller, “Perish the night which said, a man child is conceived.” The Vulgate renders it, “The night in which it was said;” the Septuagint, “That night in which they said.” The Chaldee paraphrases the verse, “Perish the day in which I was born, and the angel who presided ever my conception.” Scott, quoted by Good, translates it, “The night which hailed the new-born man.” The language throughout this imprecation is that in which the night is “personified,” and addressed as if it were made glad by the birth of a son. So Schultens says, “Inducitur enim “Nox illa quasi conscia mysterii, et exultans ob spem prolis virilis.” Such personifications of day and night are common among the Arabs; see Schultens. It is a representation of day and night as “sympathizing with the joys and sorrows of mankind, and is in the truest vein of Oriental poetry.”

There is a man child conceived - Hebrew גבר geber - “a man;” compare John 16:21. The word “conceived” Dr. Good renders “brought forth” So Herder translates it. The Septuagint, Ἰδοὺ ἄρσεν Idou arsen - “lo, a male” The common translation expresses the true sense of the original. The joy at the birth of a male in Oriental countries is much greater than that at the birth of a female. A remarkable instance of an imprecation on the day of one’s birth is found in a Muslim book of modern times, in which the expressions are almost precisely the same as in Job. “Malek er Nasser Daub, prince of some tribes in Palestine, from which however he had been driven, after many adverse fortunes, died in a village near Damascus in the year 1258. When the crusaders had desolated his country, he deplored its misfortunes and his own in a poem, from which Abulfeda (Annals, p. 560) has quoted the following passage: ‘O that my mother had remained unmarried all the days of her life! That God had determined no lord or consort for her! O that when he had destined her to an excellent, mild, and wise prince, she had been one of those whom he had created barren; that she might never have known the happy intelligence that she had born a man or woman! Or that when she had carried me under her heart, I had lost my life at my birth; and if I had been born, and had seen the light, that, when the congratulating people hastened on their camels, I had been gathered to my fathers.’” The Greeks and the Romans had their unlucky days (ἡμέραι ἀποφρύδες hēmerai apofrudes “dies infausti”); that is, days which were unpropitious, or in which they expected no success in any enterprise or any enjoyment. Tacitus (Annals, xiv. 12) mentions that the Roman Senate, for the purpose of flattering Nero, decreed that the birthday of Agrippina should be regarded as an accursed day; ut dies natalis Agrippinae inter nefastos esset. See Rosenmuller, All. u. neue Morgenland, “in loc” Expressions also similar to those before us, occur in Ovid, particularly in the following passage, “Epist. ad Ibin:”

Natus es infelix (ita Dii voluere), nec ulla

Commoda nascenti stella, levisve fuit.

Lux quoque natalis, ne quid nisi tristo videres,

Turpis, et inductis nubibus atra fuit.

Sedit in adverso nocturnas culmine bubo,

Funereoque graves edidit ore sonos.

We have now similar days, which by common superstition are regarded as unlucky or inauspicious. The wish of Job seems to be, that the day of his birth might be regarded as one of those days.

Verse 4

Let that day be darkness - Let it not be day; or, O, that it had not been day, that the sun had not risen, and that it had been night.

Let not God regard it from above - The word rendered here “regard” דרשׁ dârash means properly to seek or inquire after, to ask for or demand. Dr. Good renders it here, “Let not God inclose it,” but this meaning is not found in the Hebrew. Noyes renders it literally, “Let not God seek it.” Herder, “Let not God inquire after it.” The sense may be, either that Job wished the day sunk beneath the horizon, or in the deep waters by which he conceived the earth to be surrounded, and prays that God would not seek it and bring it from its dark abode; or he desired that God would never inquire after it, that it might pass from his remembrance and be forgotten. What we value, we would wish God to remember and bless; what we dislike, we would wish him to forget. This seems to be the idea here. Job hated that day, and he wished all other beings to forget it. He wished it blotted out, so that even God would never inquire after it, but regard it as if it had never been.

Neither let the light shine upon it - Let it be utter darkness; let not a ray ever reveal it. It will be seen here that Job first curses “the day.” The amplification of the curse with which he commenced in the first part of Job 3:3, continues through Job 3:4-5; and then he returns to the “night,” which also (in the latter part of Job 3:3) he wished to be cursed. His desires in regard to that unhappy night, he expresses in Job 3:6-10.

Verse 5

Let darkness and the shadow of death - The Hebrew word צלמות tsalmâveth is exceedingly musical and poetical. It is derived from צל tsêl, “a shadow,” and מות mâveth, “death;” and is used to denote the deepest darkness; see the notes at Isaiah 9:2. It occurs frequently in the sacred Scriptures; compare Job 10:21-22; Psalms 23:4; Job 12:22; Job 16:16; Job 24:17; Job 34:22; Job 38:17; Amos 5:8; Jeremiah 2:6. It is used to denote the abode of departed spirits, described by Job as “a land of darkness, as darkness itself; of the shadow of death without any order, and where the light is as darkness;” Job 10:21-22. The idea seems to have been, that “death” was a dark and gloomy object that obstructed all light, and threw a baleful shade afar, and that that melancholy shade was thrown afar over the regions of the dead. The sense here is, that Job wished the deepest conceivable darkness to rest upon it.

Stain it - Margin, or “challenge.” Vulgate, “obscure it.” Septuagint, “take or occupy it,” Ἐκλάβοι Eklaboi, Dr. Good, “crush it.” Noyes, “redeem it.” Herder, “seize it.” This variety of interpretation has arisen in part from the twofold signification of the word used here, גאל gā'al. The word means either to “redeem,” or to “defile,” “pollute,” “stain.” These senses are not very closely connected, and I know not how the one has grown out of the other, unless it be that redemption was accomplishcd with blood, and that the frequent sprinkling of blood on an altar rendered it defiled, or unclean. In one sense, blood thus sprinkled would purify, when it took away sin; in another, it would render an object unclean or polluted. Gesenius says, that the latter signification occurs only in the later Hebrew. If the word here means to “redeem,” the sense is, that Job wished darknessto resume its dominion over the day, and rcdeem it to itself, and thus wholly to exclude the light.

If the word means to defile or pollute, the sense is, that he desired the death-shade to stain the day wholly black; to take out every ray of light, and to render it wholly obscure. Gesenius renders it in the former sense. The sense which Reiske and Dr. Good give to the word, “crush it,” is not found in the Hebrew. The word means to defile, stain, or pollute, in the following places, namely,: it is rendered “pollute” and “polluted” in Malachi 1:7, Malachi 1:12; Zephaniah 3:1; Lamentations 4:14; Ezra 2:62; Nehemiah 7:64; “defile” or “defiled” in Isaiah 59:3; Daniel 1:8; Nehemiah 13:29; and “stain” in Isaiah 63:3. It seems to me that this is the sense here, and that the meaning has been well explained by Schultens, that Job wished that his birthday should be involved in a deep “stain,” that it should be covered with clouds and storms, and made dark and dismal. This imprecation referred not only to the day on which he was born, but to each succeeding birthday. Instead of its being on its return a bright and cheerful day, he wished that it might be annually a day of tempests and of terrors; a day so marked that it wouId excite attention as especially gloomy and inauspicious. It was a day whose return conveyed no pleasure to his soul, and which he wished no one to observe with gratitude or joy.

Let a cloud dwell upon it - There is, as Dr. Good and others have remarked, much sublimity iu this expression. The Hebrew word rendered “a cloud” עננה ănânâh occurs nowhere else in this form. It is the feminine form of the word ענן ânân, “a cloud,” and is used “collectively” to denote “clouds;” that is, clouds piled on clouds; clouds “condensed, impacted, heaped together” (Dr. Good), and hence, the gathered tempest, the clouds assembled deep and dark, and ready to burst forth in the fury of a storm. Theodotion renders it συννεφέα sunnefea, “assembled clouds;” and hence, “darkness,” The Septuagint renders it γνόφος gnophos, “tempest,” or “thick darkness.” So Jerome, “caligo.” The word rendered “dwell upon it” שׁכן shâkan, means properly to “settle down,” and there to abide or dwell. Perhaps the original notion was that of fixing a tent, and so Schultens renders it, “tentorium figat super eo Nubes,” “Let the cloud pitch its tent over it;” rendered by Dr. Good, “The gathered tempest pavilion over it!” “This is an image,” says Schultens, “common among the Arabs.” The sense is, that Job wished clouds piled on clouds to settle down on the day permanently, to make that day their abode, and to involve it in deep and eternal night.

Let the blackness of the day terrify it - Margin, “Or, Let them terrify it as those who have a bitter day.” There has been great variety in the interpretation of this passage. Dr. Good renders it, “The blasts of noontide terrify it.” Noyes, “Let whatever darkens the day terrify it.” Herder, “The blackness of misfortune terrify it.” Jerome, Et involvatur amaritudine, “let it be involved in bitterness.” The Septuagint, καταραθείη ἡ ἡμέρα katarathein hē hēmera, “let the day be cursed.” This variety has arisen from the difficulty of determining the sense of the Hebrew word used here and rendered “blackness,” כמרירים kı̂mrı̂yrı̂ym. If it is supposed to be derived from the word כמר kâmar, to be warm, to be hot, to burn, then it would mean the deadly heats of the day, the dry and sultry blasts which prevail so much in sandy deserts. Some writers suppose that there is a reference here to the poisonous wind Samum or Samiel, which sweeps over those deserts, and which is so much dreaded in the beat of summer. “Men as well as animals are often suffocated with this wind. For during a great heat, a current of air often comes which is still hotter; and when human beings and animals are so exhausted that they almost faint away with the heat, it seems that this little addition quite deprives them of breath. When a man is suffocated with this wind, or when, as they say, his heart is burst blood is said to flow from his nose and ears two hours after his death. The body is said to remain long warm, to swell, to turn blue and green, and if the arm or leg is taken hold of to raise it up, the limb is said to come off.”

Burder’s Oriental customs, No. 176. From the testimony of recent travelers, however, it would seem that the injurious effects of this wind have been greatly exaggerated. If this interpretation be the true one, then Job wished the day of his birth to be frightful and alarming, as when such a poisonous blast should sweep along all day, and render it a day of terror and dread. But this interpretation does not well suit the parallelism. Others, therefore, understand by the word, “obscurations,” or whatever darkens the day. Such is the interpretation of Gesenius, Bochart, Noyes, and some others. According to this, the reference is to eclipses or fearful storms which cover the day in darkness. The noun here is not found elsewhere; but the “verb” כמר kâmar is used in the sense of being black and dark in Lain. v. 10: “Our skin was black like an oven, because of the terrible famine;” or perhaps more literally, “Our skin is scorched as with a furnace, from the burning heat of famine.”

That which is burned becomes black, and hence, the word may mean that which is dark, obscure, and gloomy. This meaning suits the parallelism, and is a sense which the Hebrew will bear. Another interpretation regards the Hebrew letter כ (k) used as a prefix before the word כמרירים kı̂mrı̂yrı̂ym “bitterness,” and then the sense is, “according to the bitterness of the day;” that is, the greatest calamities which can happen to a day. This sense is found in several of the ancient versions, and is adopted by Rosenmuller. To me it seems that the second interpretation proposed best suits the connection, and that the meaning is, that Job wished that everything which could render the day gloomy and obscure might rest upon it. The Chaldee adds here,” Let it be as the bitterness of day - the grief with which Jeremiah was afflicted in being cut off from the house of the sanctuary, and Jonah in being cast into the sea of Tarshish.”

Verse 6

As for “that night.” Job, having cursed the day, proceeds to utter a malediction on the “night” also; see Job 3:3. This malediction extends to Job 3:9.

Let darkness seize upon it - Hebrew, Let it take it. Let deep and horrid darkness seize it as its own. Let no star arise upon it; let it be unbroken and uninterrupted gloom. The word “darkness,” however, does not quite express the force of the original. The word used here אפל 'ôphel is poetic, and denotes darkness more intense than is denoted by the word which is usually rendered “darkness” השׁך chôshek. It is a darkness accompanied with clouds and with a tempest. Herder understands it as meaning, that darkness should seize upon that night and bear it away, so that it should not be joined to the months of the year. So the Chaldee. But the true sense is, that Job wished so deep darkness to possess it, that no star would rise upon it; no light whatever be seen. A night like this Seneca beautifully describes in Agamemnon, verses 465ff:

Nox prima coeltum sparserat stellis,

Cum subito luna conditur, stellae cadunt;

In astra pontus tollitur, et coelum petit.

Nec una nox est, densa tenebras obruit

Caligo, et Omni luce subducta, fretum

Coelumque miscet ...

Premunt tenebrae lumina, et dirae stygis

Inferna nox est.

Let it not be joined unto the days of the year - Margin, “rejoice among.” So Good and Noyes render it. The word used here יחד yı̂chad, according to the present pointing, is the apocopated future of חדה chādâh, “to rejoice, to be glad.” If the pointing were different יחד yâchad it would be the future of יחד yachad, to be one; to be united, or joined to. The Masoretic points are of no authority, and the interpretation which supposes that the word means here to exult or rejoice, is more poetical and beautiful. It is then a representation of the days of the year as rejoicing together, and a wish is expressed that “that” night might never be allowed to partake of the general joy while the months rolled around. In this interpretation Rosenmuller and Gesenius concur. Dodwell supposes that there is an allusion to a custom among the ancients, by which inauspicious days were stricken from the calendar, and their place supplied by intercalary days. But there is no evidence of the existence of snell a custom in the time of Job.

Let it not come etc - Let it never be reckoned among the days which go to make up the number of the months. Let there be always a blank there; let its place always be lacking.

Verse 7

Lo, let that night be solitary - Dr. Good, “O! that night! Let it be a barren rock!” Noyes, “O let that night be unfruitful!” Herder, “Let that night be set apart by itself.” The Hebrew word used here גלמוּד galmûd means properly “hard;” then sterile, barren, as of a hard and rocky soil. It does not mean properly solitary, but that which is unproductive and unfruitful. It is used of a woman who is barren, Isaiah 49:21, and also of that which is lean, famished, emaciated with hunger; Job 15:34; Job 30:3. According to this it means that that should be a night in which none would be born - a night of loneliness and desolation. According to Jerome, it means that the night should be solitary, lonely, and gloomy; a night in which no one would venture forth to make a journey, and in which none would come together to rejoice. Thus interpreted the night would resemble that which is so beautifully describe by Virgil, Aeneid vi. 268:

Ibant obscuri sola sub nocte per umbras,

Perque domos Ditis vacuas et inania regna.

It is probable, however, that the former is the correct interpretation.

Let no joyful voice come therein - Let there be no sound of praise and rejoicing. The Chaldee paraphrases this,” Let not the crowing of a cock be heard in it.” The sense of the whole is, that Job wished that night to be wholly desolate. He wished there might be no assembling for amusement, congratulation, or praise, no marriage festivals, and no rejoicing at the birth of children; he would have it as noiseless, solitary, and sad, as if all animals and human beings were dead, and no voice were heard. It was a night hateful to him, and he would have it in no way remembered.

Verse 8

Let them curse it who curse the day - This entire verse is exceedingly difficult, and many different expositions have been given of it. It seems evident that it refers to some well-known class of persons, who were accustomed to utter imprecations, and were supposed to have the power to render a day propitious or unpropitious - persons who had the power of divination or enchantment. A belief in such a power existed early in the world, and has prevailed in all savage and semi-barbarous nations, and even in nations considerably advanced in civilization. The origin of this was a desire to look into futurity; and in order to accomplish this, a league was supposed to be made with the spirits of the dead, who were acquainted with the events of the invisible world, and who could be prevailed on to impart their knowledge to favored mortals. It was supposed, also, that by such union there might be a power exerted which would appear to be miraculous.

Such persons also claimed to be the favorites of heaven, and to be endowed with control over the elements, and over the destiny of men; to have the power to bless and to curse, to render propitious or calamitous. Balsaam was believed to be endowed with this power, and hence, he was sent for by Balak, king of Moab, to curse the Israelites; Numbers 22:5-6; see the notes at Isaiah 8:19. The practice of cursing the day, or cursing the sun, is said by Herodotus to have prevailed among a people of Africa, whom he calls the Atlantes, living in the vicinity of Mount Atlas. “Of all mankind,” says he, “of whom we have any knowledge, the Atlantes alone have no distinction of names; the body of the people are termed Atlantes, but their individuals have no appropriate appellation. When the sun is at the highest they heap on it reproaches and execrations, because their country and themselves are parched by its rays; book iv. 184. The same account of them is found in Pliny, Nat. His. v. 8: Solem orientem occidentemque dira imprecatione contuentur, ut exitialem ipsis agrisque. See also Strabo, Lib. xvii. p. 780. Some have supposed, also, that there may be an allusion here to a custom which seems early to have prevailed of hiring people to mourn for the dead, and who probably in their official lamentation bewailed or cursed the day of their calamity; compare Jer 9:17; 2 Chronicles 35:25. But the correct interpretation is doubtless that which refers it to pretended prophets, priests, or diviners - who were supposed to have power to render a day one of ill omen. Such a power Job wished exerted over that unhappy night when he was born. He desired that the curses of those who had power to render a day unpropitious or unlucky, should rest upon it.

Who are ready to raise up their mourning - This is not very intelligible, and it is evident that our translators were embarrassed by the passage. They seem to have supposed that there was an allusion here to the practice of employing professional mourners, and that the idea is, that Job wished that they might be employed to howl over the day as inauspicious, or as a day of ill omen. The margin is, as in the Hebrew, “a leviathan.” The word rendered “ready” עתידים âthı̂ydı̂ym, means properly ready, prepared; and then practiced or skillful. This is the idea here, that they were practiced or skillful in calling up the “leviathan;” see Schultens “in loc.” The word rendered in the text “mourning,” and in the margin “leviathan” לויתן lı̂vyâthân, in all other parts of the sacred Scriptures denotes an animal; see it explained in the notes at Isaiah 27:1, and more fully in the notes at Job 41:0: It usually denotes the crocodile, or some huge sea monster.

Here it is evidently used to represent the most fierce, powerful and frightful of all the animals known, and the allusion is to some power claimed by necromancers to call forth the most terrific monsters at their will from distant places, from the “vasty deep,” from morasses and impenetrable forests. The general claim was, that they had control over all nature; that they could curse the day, and make it of ill omen, and that the most mighty and terrible of land or sea monsters were entirely under their control. If they had such a power, Job wished that they would exercise it to curse the night in which he was born. On what pretensions they founded this claim is unknown. The power, however, of taming serpents, is practiced in India at this day; and jugglers bear around with them the most deadly of the serpent race, having extracted their fangs, and creating among the credulous the belief that they have control over the most noxious animals. Probably some such art was claimed by the ancients. and to some such pretension Job alludes here.

Verse 9

Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark - That is, be extinguished, so that it shall be total darkness - darkness not even relieved by a single star. The word here rendered “twilight” נשׁף nesheph means properly a breathing; and hence, the evening, when cooling breezes “blow,” or gently breathe. It is used however, to denote both the morning and the evening twilight, though here probably it means the latter. He wishes that the evening of that night, instead of being in any way illuminated, should “set in” with total darkness and continue so. The Septuagint renders it, “night.

Let it look for light, but have none - Personifying the night, and representing it as looking out anxiously for some ray of light. This is a beautiful poetic image - the image of “Night,” dark and gloomy and sad, anxiously looking out for a single beam or a star to break in upon its darkness and diminish its gloom.

Neither let it see the dawning of the day - Margin, more literally and more beautifully, “eyelids of the morning.” The word rendered “dawning” עפעפים aph‛aphı̂ym means properly “the eyelashes” (from עוּף ûph “to fly”), and it is given to them from their flying or fluttering. The word rendered “day” שׁחר shachar means the aurora, the morning. The sun when he is above the horizon is called by the poets the eye of day; and hence, his earliest beams, before he is risen, are called the eyelids or eyelashes of the morning opening upon the world. This figure is common in the ancient Classics, and occurs frequently in the Arabic poets; see Schultens “in loc.” Thus, in Soph. Antiq. 104, the phrase occurs, Ἁμέρας βλέφυρον Hameras blefaron. So in Milton’s Lycidas,

“ - Ere the high lawns appeared

Under the opening eyelids of the dawn,

We drive afield.”

Job’s wish was, that there might be no star in the evening twilight, and that no ray might illuminate that of the morning; that it might be enveloped in perpetual, unbroken darkness.

Verse 10

Because it shut not up ... - That is, because the accursed day and night did not do it. Aben Ezra supposes that God is meant here, and that the complaint of Job is that he did not close his mother’s womb. But the more natural interpretation is to refer it to the Νυχθήμεροι Nuchthēmeroi - the night and the day which he had been cursing, on which he was born. Throughout the description the day and the night are personified, and are spoken of as active in introducing him into the world. He here curses them because they did not wholly prevent his birth.

Nor hid sorrow from mine eyes - By preventing my being born. The meaning is, that he would not have known sorrow if he had then died.

Verse 11

Why died I not from the womb? - Why did I not die as soon as I was born? Why were any pains taken to keep me alive? The suggestion of this question leads Job in the following verses into the beautiful description, of what he would have been if he had then died. He complains, therefore, that any pains were taken by his friends to keep him alive, and that he was not suffered peacefully to expire.

Gave up the ghost - A phrase that is often used in the English version of the Bible to denote death; Genesis 49:33; Job 11:20; Job 14:10; Jeremiah 15:9; Matthew 27:50; Acts 5:10. It conveys an idea, however, which is not necessarily in the original, though the idea in itself is not incorrect. The idea conveyed by the phrase is that of yielding up the “spirit” or “soul,” while the sense of the original here and elsewhere is simply “to expire, to die.”

Verse 12

Why did the knees prevent me? - That is, the lap of the nurse or of the mother, probably the latter. The sense is, that if he had not been delicately and tenderly nursed, he would have died at once. He came helpless into the world, and but for the attention of others he would have soon died. Jahn supposes (Archae section 161) that it was a common custom for the father, on the birth of a son, to clasp the new-born child to his bosom, while music was heard to sound, and by this ceremony to declare it as his own. That there was some such recognition of a child or expression of paternal regard, is apparent from Genesis 50:23. Probably, however, the whole sense of the passage is expressed by the tender care which is necessarily shown to the new-born infant to preserve it alive. The word rendered “prevent” here קדם qâdam, means properly to anticipate, to go before, as the English word “prevent” formerly did; and hence, it means to go to meet anyone in order to aid him in any way. There is much beauty in the word here. It refers to the provision which God has made in the tender affection of the parent to “anticipate” the needs of the child. The arrangement has been made beforehand. God has taken care when the feeble and helpless infant is born, that tender affection has been already created and prepared to meet it. It has not to be created then; it is not to be excited by the suffering of the child; it is already in existence as an active, powerful, and self-denying principle, to “anticipate” the needs of the newborn babe, and to save it from death.

Verse 13

For now should I have lain still - In this verse Job uses four expressions to describe the state in which be would have been if he had been so happy as to have died when an infant. It is evidently a very pleasant subject to him, and he puts it in a great variety of form. He uses thc words which express the most quiet repose, a state of perfect rest, a gentle slumber; and then in the next verses he says, that instead of being in the miserable condition in which he then was, he would have been in the same state with kings and the most illustrious men of the earth.

I should have lain still - - שׁכב shâkab. I should have been “lying down,” as one does who is taking grateful repose. This is a word of less strength than any of those which follow.

And been quiet - - שׁקט shâqaṭ. A word of stronger signification than that before used. It means to rest, to lie down, to have quiet. It is used of one who is never troubled, harassed, or infested by others, Judges 3:11; Judges 5:31; Judges 8:25; and of one who has no fear or dread, Psalms 76:9. The meaning is, that he would not only have lain down, but; would have been perfectly tranquil. Nothing would have harassed him, nothing would have given him any annoyance.

I should have slept - - ישׁן yâshên. This expression also is in advance of those before used. There would not only have been “quiet,” but there would have been a calm and gentle slumber. Sleep is often representcd as “the kinsman of death.” Thus, Virgil speaks of it:

Tum consanguineus Leti sopor - “

Aeneid vi. 278.

So Homer:

Enth' hupnō cumblēto chasignēto thanatoio -

Iliad, 14:231.

This comparsion is an obvious one, and is frequently used in the Classical writers. It is employed to denote the calmness, stillness, and quiet of death. In the Scriptures it frequently occurs, and with a significancy far more beautiful. It is there employed not only to denote the tranquility of death, but also to denote the Christian hopes of a resurrection and the prospect of being awakened out of the long sleep. We lie down to rest at night with the hopes of awaking again. We sleep calmly, with the expectation that it will be only a temporary repose, and that we shall be aroused, invigorated for augmented toil, and refreshed for sweeter pleasure. So the Christian lies down in the grave. So the infant is committed to the calm slumber of the tomb. It may be a sleep stretching on through many nights and weeks and years and centuries, and even cycles of ages, but it is not eternal. The eyes will be opened again to behold the beauties of creation; the ear will be unstoppod to hear the sweet voice of fricndship and the harmony of music; and the frame will be raised up beautiful and immortal to engage in the service of the God that made us; compare Psalms 13:3; Psalms 90:5; John 11:11; 1 Corinthians 15:51; 1Th 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:10. Whether Job used the word in this sense and with this understanding, has been made a matter of question, and will be considered more fully in the examination of the passage in Job 19:25-27.

Then had I been at rest - Instead of the troubles and anxieties which I now experience. That is, he would have been lying in calm and honorable repose with the kings and princes of the earth.

Verse 14

With kings - Reposing as they do. This is the language of calm meditation on what would have been the consequence if he had died when he was an infant. He seems to delight to dwell on it. He contrasts it with his present situation. He pauses on the thought that that would have been an honorable repose. He would have been numbered with kings and princes. Is there not here a little spice of ambition even in his sorrows and humilation? Job had been an eminently rich man; a man greatly honored; an emir; a magistrate; one in whose presence even princes refrained talking, and before whom nobles held their peace; Job 29:9. Now he was stripped of his honors, and made to sit in ashes. But had he died when an infant, he would have been numbered with kings and courtsellers, and would have shared their lot. Death is repulsive; but Job takes comfort in the thought that he would have been associated with the most exalted and honorable among people. There is some consolation in the idea that when an infant dies he is associated with the most honored and exalted of the race; there is consolation in the reflection that when we die we shall lie down with the good and the great of all past times, and that though our bodies shall moulder back to dust, and be forgotten, we are sharing the same lot with the most beautiful, lovely, wise, pious, and mighty of the race. To Christians there is the richest of all consolations in the thought that they will sleep as their Savior did in the tomb, and that the grave, naturally so repulsive, has been made sacred and even attractive by being the place where the Redeemer reposed.

Why should we tremble to convey

Their bodies to the tomb?

There the dear flesh of Jesus lay,

And left a long perfume.

The graves of all his saints he blessed,

And softened every bed:

Where should the dying members rest

But with the dying Head?

And counsellors of the earth - Great and wise men who were qualified to give counsel to kings in times of emergency.

Which built desolate places for themselves - Gesenius supposes that the word used here (חרבה chorbâh) means palaces which would soon be in ruins. So Noyes renders it, “Who build up for themselves - ruins!” That is, they build splendid palaces, or perhaps tombs, which are destined soon to fall to ruin. Dr. Good renders it, “Who restored to themselves the ruined wastes;” that is, the princes who restored to their former magnificence the ruins of ancient cities, and built their palaces in them But it seems to me that the idea is different. It is, that kings constructed for their own burial, magnificent tombs or mausoleums, which were lonely and desolate places, where they might lie in still and solemn grandeur; compare the notes at Isaiah 14:18. Sometimes these were immense excavations from rocks; and sometimes they were stupendous structurcs built as tombs. What more desolate and lonely places could be conceived than the pyramids of Egypt - reared probably as the burial places of kings?

What more lonely and solitary than the small room in the center of one of those immense structures, where the body of the monarch is supposed to have been deposited? And what more emphatic than the expression - though” so nearly pleonastic that it may be omitted” (“Noyes”) - “for themselves?” To my view, that is far from being pleonastic. It is full of emphasis. The immense structure was made for “them.” It was not to be a common burial-place; it was not for the public good; it was not to be an abode for the living and a contributor to their happiness: it was a matter of supreme selfishness and pride - an immense structure built only run themselves. With such persons lying in their places of lonely grandeur, Job felt it would be an honor to be associated. Compared with his present condition it was one of dignity; and he earnestly wished that it might have been his lot thus early to have been consigned to the fellowship of the dead. It may be some confirmation of this view to remark, that the land of Edom, near which Job is supposed to have lived, contains at this day some of the most wonderful sepulchral monuments of the world; comp the notes at Isaiah 17:1.

Verse 15

Or with princes that had gold - That is, he would have been united with the rich and the great. Is there not here too also a slight evidence of the fondness for wealth, which might have been one of the errors of this good man? Would it not seem that such was his estimate of the importance of being esteemed rich, that he would count it an honor to be united with the affluent in death, rather than be subjected to a condition of poverty and want among the living?

Who filled their houses with silver - Rosenmuller supposes that there is reference here to the custom among the ancients of burying treasures with the dead, and that the word “houses” refers to the tombs or mausoleums which they erected. That such a custom prevailed, there can be no doubt. Josephus informs us that large quantities of treasure were buried in the tomb with David, which afterward was taken out for the supply of an army; and Schultens (“in loc.”) says that the custom prevailed extensively among the Arabs. The custom of burying valuable objects with the dead was practiced also among the aborigines of N. America, and is to this day practiced in Africa. If this be the sense here, then the idea of Job was, that he would have been in his grave united with those who even there were accompanied with wealth, rather than suffering the loss of all his property as he was among the living.

Verse 16

Or as an hidden untimely birth - As an abortion which is hid, or concealed; that is, which is soon removed from the sight. So the Psalmist, Psalms 58:8 :

As a snail which melteth, let thom dissolve;

As the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.

Septuagint ἔκτρωμα ektrōma, the same word which is used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:8, with reference to himself; see the notes at that place.

I had not been - I should have perished; I should not have been a man, as I now am, subject to calamity. The meaning is, that he would have been taken away and concealed, as such an untimely birth is, and that he would never have been numbered among the living and the suffering.

As infants which never saw light - Job expresses here no opinion of their future condition, or on the question whether such infants had immortal souls. He is simply saying that his lot would have been as theirs was, and that he would have been saved from the sorrows which he now experienced.

Verse 17

There the wicked cease - from “troubling.” In the grave - where kings and princes and infants lie. This verse is often applied to heaven, and the language is such as will express the condition of that blessed world. But as used by Job it had no such reference. It relates only to the grave. It is language which beautifully expresses the condition of the dead, and the “desirableness” even of an abode in the tomb. They who are there, are free from the vexations and annoyances to which people are exposed in this life. The wicked cannot torture their limbs by the fires of persecution, or wound their feelings by slander, or oppress and harass them in regard to their property, or distress them by thwarting their plans, or injure them by impugnlug their motives. All is peaceful and calm in the grave, and “there” is a place where the malicious designs of wicked people cannot reach us. The object of this verse and the two following is! to show the “reasons” why it was desirable to be in the grave, rather than to live and to suffer the ills of this life. We are not to suppose that Job referred exclusively to his own case in all this. tie is describing, in general, the happy condition of the dead, and we have no reason to think that he had been particularly annoyed by wicked people. But the pious often are, and hence, it should be a matter of gratitude that there is one place, at least, where the wicked cannot annoy the good; and where the persecuted, the oppressed, and the slandered may lie down in peace.

And there the weary be at rest - Margin, “Wearied in strength.” The margin is in accordance with the Hebrew. The meaning is, those whose strength is exhausted; who are worn down by the toils and eares of life, and who feel the need of rest. Never was more beautiful language employed than occurs in this verse. What a charm such language throws even over the grave - like strewing flowers, and planting roses around the tomb! Who should fear to die, if prepared, when such is to be the condition of the dead? Who is there that is not in some way troubled by the wicked - by their thoughtless, ungodly life; by persecution, contempt, and slander? compare 2 Peter 2:8; Psalms 39:1. Who is there that is not at some time weary with his load of care, anxiety, and trouble? Who is there whose strength does not become exhausted, and to whom rest is not grateful and refreshing? And who is there, therefore, to whom, if prepared for heaven, the grave would not be a place of calm and grateful rest? And though true religion will not prompt us to wish that we had lain down there in early childhood, as Job wished, yet no dictate of piety is violated when “we” look forward with calm delight to the time when we may repose where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary be at rest. O grave, thou art a peaceful spot! Thy rest is calm: thy slumbers are sweet.

Nor pain, nor grief, nor anxious fear

Invade thy bounds. No mortal woes

Can reach the peaceful sleeper here,

While angels watch the soft repose.

So Jesus slept; God’s dying Son

Passed through the grave, and blest the bed.

Verse 18

There the prisoners rest together - Herder translates this, “There the prisoners rejoice in their freedom.” The Septuagint strangely enough, “There they of old (ὁ αἰώνιοι hoi aiōnioi) assembled together (ὁμοθυμαδόν homothumadon) have not heard the voice of the exactor.” The Hebrew word שׁאן shâ'an means “to rest, to be quiet, to be tranquil”; and the sense is, that they are in the grave freed from chains and oppressions.

They hear not the voice of the oppressor - Of him who exacted taxes, and who laid on them heavy burdens, and who imprisoned them for imaginary crimes. He who is bound in chains, and who has no other prospect of release, can look for it in the grave and will find it there. Similar sentiments are found respecting death in Seneca, ad Marcian, 20: “Mots omnibus finis, multis remedium, quibusdam votum; haec servitutem invito domino remittit; haec captivorum catenas levat; haec a carcere reducit, quos exire imperium impofens vetuerat; haec exulibus, in pairtam semper animum oculosque tendentibus, ostendit, nibil interesse inter quos quisque jaceat; haec, ubi res communes fortuna male divisit, et aequo jure genitos allure alii donavit, exaequat omnia; haec est, quae nihil quidquam alieno fecit arbitrio; haec est, ea qua nemo humilitatem guam sensit; haec est, quae nuili paruit.” The sense in Job is, that all are at liberty in death. Chains no longer bind; prisons no longer incarccrate; the voice of oppression no longer alarms.

Verse 19

The small and the great are there - The old and the young, the high and the low. Death levels all. It shows no respect to age; it spares none because they are vigorous, young, or beautiful. This sentiment has probably been expressed in various forms in all languages, for all people are made deeply sensible of its truth. The Classic reader will recall the ancient proverb,

Mors sceptra ligonibus aequat,

And the language of Horace:

Aequae lege Necessitas

Sortitur insignes et imos.

Omne capax movet urna nomen.

Tristis unda scilicet omnibus,

Quicunque terrae munere vescimur,

Enaviganda, sive reges,

Sive inopes erimus coloni.

Divesne prisco natus ab lnacho

Nil interest, an pauper et infima

De gente sub dio moreris

Victima nil miserantis Orci.

Omnes codem cogimur. Omnium

Versatur urna. Serius, ocyus,

Sors exitura.

- Omnes una manet nox,

Et calcauda semel via leti. (Nullum)

Mista senum acjuvenum densantur funera.

Saeva caput Proserpina lugit. (tabernas)

Pallida mors aequo pulsat pede pauperum

Regumque turres.

And the servant is free from his master - Slavery is at an end in the grave. The master can no longer tax the powers of the slave, can no longer scourge him or exact his uncompensated toil. Slavery early existed, and there is evidence here that it was known in the time of Job. But Job did not regard it as a desirable institution; for assuredly that is not desirable from which death would be regarded as a “release,” or where death would be preferable. Men often talk about slavery as a valuable condition of society, and sometimes appeal even to the Scriptures to sustain it; but Job felt that “it was worse than death,” and that the grave was to be preferred because there the slave would be free from his master. The word used here and rendered “free” (חפשׁי chophshı̂y) properly expresses manumission from slavery. See it explained at length in my the notes at Isaiah 58:6.

Verse 20

Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery? - The word “light” here is used undoubtedly to denote “life.” This verse commences a new part of Job’s complaint. It is that God keeps people alive who would prefer to die; that he furnishes them with the means of sustaining existence, and actually preserves them, when they would consider it an inestimable blessing to expire. Schultens remarks, on this part of the chapter, that the tone of Job’s complaint is considerably modified. He has given vent to his strong feelings, and the language here is more mild and gentle. Still it implies a reflection on God. It is not the language of humble submission. It contains an implied charge of cruelty and injustice; and it laid the foundation for some of the just reproofs which follow.

And life unto the bitter in soul - Who are suffering bitter grief. We use the word “bitter” yet to denote great grief and pain.

Verse 21

Which long for death - Whose pain and anguish are so great that they would regard it as a privilege to die. Much as people dread death, and much as they have occasion to dread what is beyond, yet there is no doubt that this often occurs. Pain becomes so intense, and suffering is so protracted, that they would regard it as a privilege to be permitted to die. Yet that sorrow “must” be intense which prompts to this wish, and usually must be long continued. In ordinary cases such is the love of life, and such the dread of death and of what is beyond, that people are willing to bear all that human nature can endure rather than meet death; see the notes at Job 2:4. This idea has been expressed with unsurpassed beauty by Shakespeare:

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely

The pangs of despised love. the law’s delay,

The insolence of office. and the spurns

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

When be himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death -

The undiscovered country, from whose bourne

No traveler returns-puzzles the will;

And makes us rather bear those ills we have,

Than fly to others that we know not of.


And dig for it - That is, express a stronger desire for it than people do who dig for treasures in the earth. Nothing would more forcibly express the intense desire to die than this expression.

Verse 22

Which rejoice exceedingly - Hebrew “Who rejoice upon joy or exultation” (אל־גיל 'el-gı̂yl), that is, with exceedingly great joy.

When they can find the grave - What an expression! How strikingly does it express the intense desire to die, and the depth of a man’s sorrow, when it becomes a matter of exultation for him to be permitted to lie down in the corruption and decay of the tomb! A somewhat similiar sentiment occurs in Euripides, as quoted by Cicero, Tusc. Quaest. Lib. 1, cap. 48:

Nam nos decebat, doman

Lugere, ubi esset aliquis in lucem editus,

Humanae vitae varia reputantes mala;

At qui labores morte finisset graves

Hunc omni amicos laude et Lactitia exsequi.

Verse 23

Why is light given “to a man uhose way is hid?” That is, who does not know what way to take, and who sees no escape from the misery that surrounds him.

Whom God hath hedged in - See Notes, Job 1:10. The meaning here is, that God had surrounded him as with a high wall or hedge, so that he could not move freely. Job asks with impatience, why light, that is, life, should be given to such a man? Why should he not be permitted to die? This closes the complaint of Job, and the remaining verses of the chapter contain a statement of his sorrowful condition, and of the fact that he had now been called to suffer all that he had ever apprehended. - In regard to the questions here proposed by Job Job 3:20-23, we may remark, that; there was doubtless much impatience on his part, and not a little improper feeling. The language shows that Job was not absolutely sinless; but let us not harshly blame him. What he says, is a “statement” of feelings which often pass through the mind, though they are not often expressed. Who, in deep and protracted sorrows, has not found such questions rising up in his soul - questions which required all his energy and all his firmness of principle, and all the strength which he could gain by prayer, to suppress? To the questions themselves, it may be difficult to give an answer; and it is certain that none of the friends of Job furnished a solution of the difficulty. When it is asked, why man is kept in misery on earth, when he would be glad to be released by death, perhaps the following, among others, may be the reasons:

(1) Those sufferings may be the very means which are needful to develope the true state of the soul. Such was the case with Job.

(2) They may be the proper punishment of sin in the heart, of which the individual was not fully aware, but which may be distinctly seen by God. There may be pride, and the love of ease, and self-confidence, and ambition, and a desire of reputation. Such appear to have been some of the besetting sins of Job.

(3) They are needful to teach true submission, and to show whether a man is willing to resign himself to God.

(4) They may be the very things which are necessary to prepare the individual to die. At the same time that people often desire death, and feel that it would be a relief, it might be to them the greatest possible calamity. They may be wholly unprepared for it. For a sinner, the grave contains no rest; the eternal world furnishes no repose.

One design of God in such sorrows may be, to show to the wicked how “intolerable” will he future pain, and how important it is for them to be ready to die. If they cannot bear the pains and sorrows of a few hours in this short life. how can they endure eternal sufferings? If it is so desirable to be released from the sorrows of the body here, - if it is felt that the grave, with all that is repulsive in it, would be a place of repose, how important is it to find some way to be secured from everlasting pains! The true place of release from suffering for a sinner, is not the grave; it is in the pardoning mercy of God, and in that pure heaven to which he is invited through the blood of the cross. In that holy heaven is the only real repose from suffering and from sin; and heaven will be all the sweeter in proportion to the extremity of pain which is endured on earth.

Verse 24

For my sighing cometh before I eat - Margin, “My meat.” Dr. Good renders this,” Behold! my sighing takes the place of my daily food, and refers to Psalms 42:3, as an illustration:

My tears are my meat day and night.

So substantially Schultens renders it, and explains it as meaning, “My sighing comes in the manner of my food,” “Suspirium ad modum panis veniens” - and supposes it to mean that his sighs and groans were like his daily food; or were constant and unceasing. Dr. Noyes explains it as meaning, “My sighing comes on when I begin to eat, and prevents my taking my daily nourishment;” and appeals to a similar expression in Juvenal. Sat. xiii. 211:

Perpetua anxietas, nec mensae tempore cessat.

Rosenmuller gives substantially the same explanation, and remarks, also, that some suppose that the mouth, hands, and tongue of Job were so affected with disease, that the effort to eat increased his sufferings, and brought on a renewal of his sorrows. The same view is given by Origen; and this is probably the correct sense.

And my roarings - My deep and heavy groans.

Are poured out like the waters - That is,

(1) “in number” - they were like rolling billows, or like the heaving deep.

(2) Perhaps also in “sound” like them. His groans were like the troubled ocean, that can be heard afar. Perhaps, also,

(3.) he means to say that his groans were attended with “a flood of tears,” or that his tears were like the waves of the sea.

There is some hyperbole in the figure, in whichever way it is understood; but we are to remember that his feelings were deeply excited, and that the Orientals were in the habit of expressing themselves in a mode, which to us, of more phlegmatic temperament, may seem extravagant in the extreme. We have, however, a similar expression when we say of one that “he burst into a “flood of tears.””

Verse 25

For the thing which I greatly feared - Margin, As in the Hebrew “I feared a fear, and it came upon me.” This verse, with the following, has received a considerable variety of exposition. Many have understood it as referring to his whole course of life, and suppose that Job meant to say that he was always apprehensive of some great calamity, such as that which had now come upon him, and that in the time of his highest prosperity be had lived in continual alarm lest his property should be taken. away, and lest he should be reduced to penury and suffering. This is the opinion of Drusius and Codurcus. In reply to this, Schultens has remarked, that such a supposition is contrary to all probability; that there was no reason to apprehend that such calamities as he now suffered, would come upon him; that they were so unusual that they could not have been anticipated; and that, thercfore, the alarm here spoken of, could not refer to the general tenor of his life.

That seems to have been happy and calm, and perhaps, if anything, too tranquil and secure. Most interpreters suppose that it refers to the state in which he was “during” his trial, and that it is designed to describe the rapid succession of his woes. Such is the interpretation of Rosenmuller, Schultens, Drs. Good, Noyes, Gill, and others. According to this, it means that his calamities came on him in quick succession. He had no time after one calamity to become composed before another came. When he heard of one misfortune, he naturally dreaded another, and they came on with overwhelming rapidity. If this be the correct interpretation, it means that the source of his lamentation is not merely the greatness of his losses and his trials considered in the “aggregate,” but the extraordinary rapidity with which they succeeded each other, thus rendering them much more difficult to be borne; see Job 1:0: He apprehended calamity, and it came suddenly.

When one part of his property was taken, he had deep apprehensions respecting the rest; when all his property was seized or destroyed, he had alarm about his children; when the report came that they were dead, he feared some other affliction still. The sentiment is in accordance with human nature, that when we are visited with severe calamity in one form, we naturally dread it in another. The mind becomes exquisitely sensitive. The affections cluster around the objects of attachment which are left, and they become dear to us. When one child is taken away, our affections cling more closely to the one which survives, and any little illness alarms us, and the value of one object of affection is more and more increased - like the Sybil’s leaves - as another is removed. It is an instinct of our nature, too, to apprehend calamity in quick succession when one comes “Misfortunes seldom come alone;” and when we suffer the loss of one endeared object, we instinctively feel that there may be a succession of blows that will remove all our comforts from us. Such seems to have been the apprehension of Job.

Verse 26

I was not in safety - That is, I have, or I had no peace. שׁלה shâlâh Septuagint, οὔτε εἰρήνευσα oute eirēneusa - “I had no peace.” The sense is, that his mind had been disturbed with fearful alarms; or perhaps that at that time he was filled with dread.

Neither had I rest - Trouble comes upon me in every form, and I am a stranger wholly to peace. The accumulation of phrases here, all meaning nearly the same thing, is descriptive of a state of great agitation of mind. Such an accumulation is not uncommon in the Bible to denote any thing which language can scarcely describe. So in Isaiah 8:22 :

And they shall look upward; And to the earth shall they look; And lo!

rouble and darkness, Gloom, oppression, and deepened darkness.

So Job 10:21-22 :

To the land of darkness and the death-shade,

The land of darkness like the blackness of the death-shade,

Where is no order, and where the light is as darkness.

Thus, in the Hamasa (quoted by Dr Good), “Death, and devastation, and a remorseless disease, and a still heavier and more terrific family of evils.” The Chaldee has made a remarkable addition here, arising from the general design in the author of that Paraphrase, to explain everything. “Did I not dissemble when the annunciation was made to me respecting the oxen and the asses? Was I not stupid (unalarmed, or unmoved, שדוכית), when the report came about the conflagration? Was I not quiet, when the report came respecting the camels? And did not indignation come, when the report was made respecting my sons?”

Yet trouble came - Or rather, “and trouble comes.” This is one of the cumulative expressions to denote the rapidity and the intensity of his sorrows. The word rendered “trouble” (רגז rôgez) means properly trembling, commotion, disquiet. Here it signifies such misery as made him tremble. Once the word means wrath Habakkuk 3:2; and it is so understood here by the Septuagint, who renders it ὀργή orgē.

In regard to this chapter, containing the first speech of Job, we may remark, that it is impossible to approve the spirit which it exhibits, or to believe that it was acceptable to God. It laid the foundation for the reflections - many of them exceedingly just - in the following chapters, and led his friends to doubt whether such a man could be truly pious. The spirit which is manifested in this chapter, is undoubtedly far from that calm submission which religion should have produced, and from that which Job had before evinced. That he was, in the main, a man of eminent holiness and patience, the whole book demonstrates; but this chapter is one of the conclusive proofs that he was not absolutely free from imperfection. From the chapter we may learn,

(1) That even eminently good men sometimes give utterance to sentiments which are a departure from the spirit of religion, and which they will have occasion to regret. Such was the case here. There was a language of complaint, and a bitterness of expression, which religion cannot sanction, and which no pious man, on reflection, would approve.

(2) We see the effect of heavy affliction on the mind. It sometimes becomes overwhelming. It is so great that all the ordinary barriers against impatience are swept away. The sufferer is left to utter language of complaining, and there is the impatient wish that life was closed, or that he had not existed.

(3) We are not to infer that because a man in affliction makes use of some expressions which we cannot approve, and which are not sanctioned by the word of God, that therefore he is not a good man. There may be true piety, yet it may be far from perfection; there may be in general submission to God, yet the calamity may be so overwhelming as to overcome the usual restraints on our corrupt and fallen nature: and when we remember how feeble is our nature at best, and how imperfect is the piety of the holiest of men, we should not harshly judge him who is left to express impatience in his trials, or who gives utterance to sentiments different from those which are sanctioned by the word of God. There has been but one model of pure submission on earth - the Lord Jesus Christ; and after the contemplation of the best of men in their trials, we can see that there is imperfection in them, and that if we would survey absolute perfection in suffering, we must go to Gethsemane and to Calvary.

(4) Let us not make the expressions used by Job in this chapter our model in suffering. Let us not suppose that because he used such language, that therefore we may also. Let us not infer that because they are found in the Bible, that therefore they are right; or that because he was an unusually holy man, that it would be proper for us to use the same language that he did. The fact that this book is a part of the inspired truth of revelation, does not make such language right. All that inspiration does, in such a case, is to secure an exact record of what was actually said; it does not, of necessity, sanction it any more than an accurate historian can be supposed to approve all that he records. There may be important reasons why it should be preserved, but he who makes the record is not answerable for the truth or propriety of what is recorded. The narrative is true; the sentiment may be false. The historian may state exactly what was said or done: but what was said or done, may have violated every law of truth and justice; and unless the historian expresses some sentiment of approbation, he can in no sense be held answerable for it. So with the narratives in the Bible. Where a sentiment of approbation or disapprobation is expressed, there the sacred writer is answerable for it; in other cases he is answerable only for the correctness of the record. This view of the nature of inspiration will leave us at liberty freely to canvass the speeches made in the book of Job, and make it more important that we compare the sentiments in those speeches with other parts of the Bible, that we may know what to approve, and what was erroneous in Job or his friends.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/job-3.html. 1870.
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