Job's Fifth Speech
In this speech Job repeats his bitter complaints of God's injustice, and man's contemptuous abandonment of one formerly so loved and honoured. He appeals in broken utterances to his friends to pity him; then from them he would fain appeal to posterity, wishing that he might engrave in the rock a declaration of his innocence, sure that those who read it in the after-time would feel the ring of sincerity and exonerate him of guilt. But, baffled by the callous unbelief of his friends and the impossibility of an appeal to generations unborn, he is driven, as he had been driven before, from man to God. Already he had uttered the conviction that God would vindicate him to the world. Now he reiterates the conviction and rises to a still loftier height in the assurance that he will be permitted to know of his vindication. He does not expect to be restored to life, nor yet to escape from Sheol, nor to renew the old fellowship with God. His deepest anxiety is that his honour should be cleared from stain, and the thought that this will be accomplished, and that he shall be allowed to see God reversing the verdict against him, fills him with overwhelming emotion.
1-22. After reproaching the friends for unfeeling conduct. Job again rejects their insinuations as to the reason of his calamities. He declares that God is treating him with unjustifiable severity, and that he has become estranged from all.
3. Ten times] i.e. continually: cp. Genesis 31:7; Numbers 14:22.
4. Mine error remaineth with myself] i.e. 'is my own affair,' or, perhaps, 'injures myself alone.'
6. Job maintains, rightly, that his calamities were not due to his sins, but, wrongly, that they were the result of God's unjust action. As the reader knows from the Prologue, God permitted these trials in order to test and make manifest Job's uprightness. Job's ignorance of this explains and excuses much that otherwise might be deemed unpardonable.
7. Render, 'Behold, I shriek “Violence,” and am not answered. I clamour, and there is no justice.'
8. Job's bewildered state: his mind sees no clear course.
9. Glory.. crown] probably Job's righteousness, on which his sufferings seemed to throw doubt.
10. Mine hope] viz. of recovery, or perhaps of happiness.
12. Troops] of afflictions: cp. 'battalions of sorrows' ('Hamlet,' IV, 5). Raise up their way] The figure is that of casting up a mound by which to attack a city.
15. They that dwell in mine house] the servants or guests.
17. Render, 'My breath is offensive to my wife, and I am loathsome to the children of my (mother's) womb'; owing to his complaint.
18. I arose, etc.] RV 'If I arise, they speak,' etc.; i.e. the children mock him.
19. Inward] i.e. intimate.
20a. The words describe his leanness. I am escaped, etc.] Some would substitute, 'And I am escaped with my flesh in my teeth' (cp. Job 13:14).
22b. 'You cannot tear me to pieces enough' An 'eater of flesh' is an Eastern expression for a slanderer.
23-27. Job had frequently expressed a hope that his righteousness would be proclaimed, as a reply to the insinuation of the friends that he was suffering for his sins (cp. Job 13:15-19). We have also noted his longings, more or less definitely expressed, that he might find a mediator or vindicator who would do this office for him (cp. Job 9:32-35; Job 17:3). In this chapter these longings, already turned into conviction in Job 16:19-21, receive an even higher expression. He utters his belief (Job 19:23-27) that God Himself will once more manifest Himself as his friend, and vindicate his character after his death, and that he shall be suffered to see God proclaiming his righteousness over his grave. It is unfortunate that the rendering 'Redeemer' and the traditional reference of the vindicator to Christ, together with the supposition that Job expects a resurrection of the body, have completely disguised the true meaning from most readers. The vindicator is God Himself, who is now his persecutor, and Job anticipates neither deliverance from death nor a resurrection of the body after death, nor even a deliverance from Sheol and renewed fellowship with God, only the experience of one thrilling moment, when his shade will wake from its semi-conscious stupor to see God standing over his grave and declaring his innocence to the universe.
23, 24. Job longs to write down or, better still, to engrave upon a rock (a durable material to last into the future) his protestation of innocence. Lead] This may refer to the pouring of molten lead into the carved-out letters, though we have no other mention of such a practice.
23. Printed in a book] RV 'inscribed in a book'; but since a book quickly perishes, he substitutes the wish that his words might be graven in the imperishable rock.
25-27. Render, 'But as for me I know that my vindicator is alive (i.e. exists), and hereafter He will stand above the dust (either of Job or of his grave, as his vindicator). And after (the loss of) my skin, which has been destroyed (i.e. after my death) this shall be, I shall have vision of God, whom I shall gaze on as for me (i.e. as my friend), and mine eyes shall behold and not as a stranger.'
25. Redeemer] Heb. Go'el, from ga'al, 'to make a claim.' The Go'el was the next of kin whose duty it was to prevent land being sold out of the clan (Leviticus 25:25), and to avenge murder. See also Ruth 3, 4 and notes. Driver points out that the word means here the opposite to the Christian idea, viz. a deliverer, not from sin, but from affliction and wrong not due to sin. The best rendering here is 'Vindicator.'
26. In my flesh] rather, 'without' or 'apart from my flesh,' i.e. after death.
27. For myself] RM 'on my side.' Not another] or, 'not as another,' i.e. no longer estranged.
27b. RV 'my reins are consumed within me.' He faints with emotion at the thought of this vindication.
28. Probably with 'many ancient authorities' (RM) we should read 'him' instead of 'me' in the second line, and translate, 'If ye say, How we will persecute him, and find the root of the matter in him,' i.e. probe relentlessly till they find the secret sin which has led to Job's afflictions. Job proceeds in Job 19:29 to warn them of the vengeance that will overtake them.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Job 19". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany