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Tuesday, June 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Job 16

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Then Job answered and said,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 2

I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all.

Miserable - burdensome; i:e., annoying. (cf. Job 13:4)

Verse 3

Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest?

'Words of wind' (Hebrew). He retorts upon Eliphaz his reproach (Job 15:2).

Emboldeneth - What wearies (causes annoyance to) thee so that thou dost contradict? i:e., What have I said to provoke you? etc. (Schultetus.) Or, 'Wherefore do ye weary yourselves contradicting?' (Umbreit.) The same Hebrew [ maarats (H4834)] occurs Job 6:25, where see the note.

Verse 4

I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul's stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you.

If your soul were in my souls stead - if you were in my place, suffering the same adversities.

Heap up words - rather, marshal together an army of words; literally, 'make connection of words' - i:e., arrange them in the order of a set speech.

Shake head - in mockery: it means nodding rather than shaking. Nodding is not with us, so in the East, a gesture of scorn (Isaiah 37:22; Jeremiah 18:16; Matthew 27:39).

Verse 5

But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief.

Strengthen with ... mouth - bitter irony. In allusion to Eliphaz' boasted "consolations" (Job 15:11). Opposed to strengthening with the heart and in act - i:e., with real consolation. Translate, 'I also (like you) could strengthen with the mouth' - i:e., with heartless talk-`and the moving of my lips (mere lip-comfort) could console'-in the same fashion, as you do. Cf. Job 16:6 (Umbreit). "Hearty counsel" (Proverbs 27:9, "Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart, so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel") is the opposite.

Verse 6

Though I speak, my grief is not asswaged: and though I forbear, what am I eased?

Eased - Literally, What portion of my sufferings goes from me?-not the smallest portion.

Verse 7

But now he hath made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my company.

But now - truly now.

He - God.

Company - `all my family,' 'all my band of witnesses,'-namely, those who could attest his innocence, his children, servants, etc. So the same Hebrew is translated next verse. Umbreit makes his 'band of witnesses' himself; because, alas! he had no other to witness for him. But this is too recondite.

Verse 8

And thou hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me: and my leanness rising up in me beareth witness to my face.

Filled with wrinkles - rather [as also the same Hebrew word, qaamaT (H7059), bound as a captive, in Job 22:16; the English, version, "cut down"] 'thou hast fettered me' (besides cutting off my 'band of witnesses,' Job 16:7) - i:e., last disabled me by pains from properly attesting my innocence (Umbreit) - literally, in respect to being a witness. I prefer the English version of the latter clause, "which is a witness against me." Another "witness" (cf. Job 10:17) arises against him-namely, his "leanness" or wretched state of body, construed by his friends into a proof of his guilt. The radical meaning of the Hebrew is to draw together, whence flow the double meanings to bind or fetter, and in Syriac, to wrinkle.

Leanness - meaning also lie; implying it was a false "witness" [ kachash (H3585)], failure an truth as well as failure in body.

Beareth witness to my face - openly and insolently.

Verse 9

He teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnasheth upon me with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me.

Image from a wild beast. So God is represented (Job 10:16).

Who hateth me - rather, 'and pursues me hard, or in a hostile manner.' Job would not ascribe 'hatred' to God (Psalms 50:22, "Consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces").

Mine enemy - rather, he sharpens, etc., 'as an enemy' (Psalms 7:12). Darts wrathful glances at me, like a foe (Job 13:24. "Thou holdest me for thine enemy").

Verse 10

They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me.

Not only doth God assail Job, but also He exposes him to the wanton insults of men, (cf. Job 16:11; Job 30:1, etc.)

Gaped - not in order to devour, but to mock him. In this Job suffered in type what afterward was the bitter portion of Messiah (Psalms 22:13). To fill his cup of misery, the mockery of his friends (Job 16:10) is added to the hostile treatment from God (Job 16:9).

Smitten ... cheek - figure for contemptuous abuse (Lamentations 3:30; Matthew 5:39).

Gathered themselves - `conspired unanimously' (Schultens).

Verse 11

God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked.

Turned me over - literally, cast me headlong into, etc. [ yirTeeniy (H3399)].

The ungodly - namely, his professed friends, who persecuted him with unkind speeches. The ungodly - namely, his professed friends, who persecuted him with unkind speeches.

Verse 12

I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark.

I was at ease - in past times, (Job 1:1-22.)

By my neck - as an animal doth its prey (so Job 10:16).

Shaken - violently: in contrast to his former "ease" (Psalms 102:10, "Thou hast lifted me up and cast me down"). Set me up (again).

Mark - (Job 7:20; Lamentations 3:12). God lets me always recover strength, so as to torment me ceaselessly.

Verse 13

His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground.

His archers. The image of last verse is continued. God, in making me His "mark," is accompanied by the three friends, whose words wound like sharp arrows.

Gall - put for a vital part. So the river (Lamentations 2:11).

Verse 14

He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me like a giant.

The image is from storming a fortress by making breaches in the walls (2 Kings 14:13).

A giant - a mighty warrior.

Verse 15

I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust.

Sewed - denoting the tight fit of the mourning garment: it was a sack with arm-holes, closely sewed to the body.

Horn - image from horned cattle, which when excited tear the earth with their horns. The horn was the emblem of power (1 Kings 22:11). Here it is "in the dust," which, as applied to Job, denotes his humiliation from former greatness. To throw one's self in the dust was a sign of mourning: this idea is here joined with that of excited despair, depicted by the fury of a horned beast. The Druses of Lebanon still wear horns as an ornament.

Verse 16

My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death;

Foul, [ chaamarmªruw (H2560)] - rather, 'is very red;' i:e., violently inflamed, flushed and heated (Umbreit and Noyes).

Shadow of death - i:e., darkening through many tears (Lamentations 5:17).

Verse 17

Not for any injustice in mine hands: also my prayer is pure.

Job here reform to Zophar's implied charge (Job 11:14-15). Nearly the same words occur as to Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:9, "He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth"). So Job 16:10 above answers to the description of Jesus Christ (Psalms 22:13; Isaiah 50:6, "I give my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair;" and Job 16:4 to Psalms 22:7). He alone realized what Job aspired after-namely, outward righteousness of acts and inward purity of devotion. Jesus Christ, as the representative man, is typified in some degree in every servant of God in the Old Testament.

Verse 18

O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place.

Inasmuch as Job is persuaded he shall soon die, he desires that his innocence, which is called in question while he is alive, may be at least acknowledged when he is dead.

My blood - i:e., my undeserved suffering. He compares himself to one murdered, whose blood the earth refuses to drink up until he is avenged (Genesis 4:10-11; Ezekiel 24:1; Ezekiel 24:8; Isaiah 26:21). The Arabs say that the dew of heaven will not descend on a spot watered with innocent blood (cf. 2 Samuel 1:21).

No place - no resting-place. "May my cry never stop!" May it go abroad! May there be no halting-place to the cry of my blood demanding vindication! May it resound through the whole earth, and be borne even to the remote heaven! (cf. Job 19:25.) "Earth" in this verse in antithesis to "heaven" (Job 16:19). May my innocence be as well known to man as it is even now to God!

Verse 19

Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.

Also now - even now, when I am so greatly misunderstood on earth, God in heaven is sensible of my innocence.

Record - Hebrew, my witness. Amidst all his impatience, Job still trusts in God.

Verse 20

My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God.

Hebrew, more forcibly, 'my mockers-my friends!' A heart-cutting paradox! (Umbreit.) God alone remains to whom he can look for attestation of his innocence; plaintively, with tearful eye, he supplicates for this (Isaiah 38:14, "I mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward").

Verse 21

O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour!

One - rather, He (God). 'O that, he would plead for a man (namely me) against God.' Job quaintly says, God must support me against God; for He makes me to suffer, and He alone knows me to be innocent (Umbreit). So God helped Jacob in wrestling against Himself (Job 23:6; Genesis 32:25). God in Jesus Christ does plead with God for man (Romans 8:26-27, "The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us ... And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God;" cf. Hebrews 7:25).

As a man - literally, the Son of man [ ben (H1121) 'aadaam (H120),]. A prefiguring of the advocacy of Jesus Christ-a boon longed for by Job (Job 9:33), though the spiritual pregnancy of his own words, designed for all ages, was but little understood by him (Psalms 80:17).

For his neighbour - Hebrew, friend. Job himself (Job 42:8) pleaded as intercessor for his 'friend,' though 'his scorners' (Job 16:20): so Jesus Christ, the Son of man (Luke 23:34, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do") 'for friends' (John 15:13-15, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends"). etc. Umbreit's translation, 'And for the Son of man against his friend' (against his friends, alluding to Job's friends) (Maurer) - is opposed by the Hebrew; for the same particle lª- in the two clauses must clearly be translated the same way, 'FOR a man,' 'FOR his, neighbour' (friend); besides, the insertion of 'for' before 'the Son of man' is unsupported by the Hebrew.

Verse 22

When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return.

Few - literally, 'years of number;' i:e., few, opposed to numberless (Genesis 34:30), "I being few in number").


(1) Heartless talk and mere lip-comfort offered to a friend in affliction only aggravate his distress. What is wanting is true sympathy and tenderness of spirit. The wounded spirit is sensitive, and needs to be dealt with gently and considerately. How "miserable" are all earthly "comforters" as compared with the loving High Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, in all points having been tempted like as we are yet without sin (Job 16:2; Hebrews 4:14-15).

(2) The believer in his sufferings is identified with his Lord and Head. If Job's mockers shook their head at Job (Job 16:4), it was no more than what the Son of God endured, as he expresses it (Psalms 22:7. "All they that see me, laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head "). If Job's foes gaped upon him with their mouth, smote him upon the cheek, and gathered themselves together against him, so also Messiah testifies, "They gaped upon me with their mouths" (Psalms 22:13); I gave my back to the smiters and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair" (Isaiah 50:6); "The objects gathered themselves together against me" (Psalms 35:15). This coincidence, evidently undesigned, is a strong incidental confirmation of the inspiration and deep-lying unity of the several parts of Scripture, which all converge to the one point, "the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 19:10).

(3) The consideration of the fellowship of believers in the sufferings of Christ (Philippians 3:10) should reconcile them to all which God sees fit that they should endure. Therein they become one with their Lord, and conformed to His pattern in this, as in all other things, so that, amidst the tears which pain elicits, they may still rejoice in their sufferings (Colossians 1:24), and glory in tribulations (Romans 5:3), being made conformable to His death (Philippians 3:10).

(4) One characteristic marks the child of God howsoever many be his shortcomings; like Job (Job 16:19-20) he has one resource to which he invariably repairs at last, the Faithful and True witness in heaven. He appeals from short-sighted and misjudging man to the all-knowing God. When false friends scorn, the believer's eye pours out his tears before his one true and unfailing friend, God. The needle of the compass may tremble and oscillate for a time; but it is sure to point to the pole at last. Peter may, in shameful weakness, deny his Lord for a time, but the heart is in the main true to His Saviour, and he shall at last say, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee" (John 21:17).

(5) Our wisdom, when we are in perplexity, and ready to sink in despair, is to cease to plead our own cause, and to ask God to plead for us with Himself (Job 16:21), as well as with them that strive with us (Psalms 35:1-2). We Christians have an Advocate with the Father, in whose hands we may put our cause with perfect confidence. He as God can plead with God: though unable to say anything good of us, He can say all that is good for us-He can plead His own faultless righteousness as man for man-especially for those whom He calls His friends (Job 16:21; John 15:15), and whom the Father has given Him (John 17:9), and for whom He has therefore a right to pray with authoritative power.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-16.html. 1871-8.
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