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Friday, June 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Job 17

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

Verse 1

My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me.

Breath ... corrupt - result of elephantiasis. But (Umbreit) 'my strength (spirit) is spent' [ chubaalaah (H2254)] - destroyed.

Extinct. Life is compared to an expiring light. 'The light of my day is extinguished.'

Graves - plur., to heighten the force.

Verse 2

Are there not mockers with me? and doth not mine eye continue in their provocation? Umbreit, more emphatically, 'had I only not to endure mockery (literally, if only there were not mockings with me), in the midst of their, contentions, I (mine eye) would remain quiet.' 'Eye continue,' or tarry all night [ taalan (H3885)], is a figure taken from sleep at night, to express undisturbed rest: opposed to Job 16:20, when the eye of Job is represented as pouring out tears to God without rest. Maurer takes the second clause, 'And (if) mine eye did not continue in their contentious obloquy'-namely, I would not be unwilling to die immediately (taken from Job 17:1). I prefer Umbreit's view, or else the English version.

Verse 3

Lay down now, put me in a surety with thee; who is he that will strike hands with me?

Lay down - namely, a pledge or security - i:e., be my surety; do thou attest my innocence, since my friends only mock me (Job 17:2). Both litigating parties had to lay down a sum as security before the trial.

Put me in surety - provide a surety for me in the trial with thee. A presage of the "surety of a better testament (Hebrews 7:22); or "one Mediator between God and man" (see notes Job 16:21).

Strike hands - `Who else, except God Himself; could strike hands with me!; - i:e., be my security (Psalms 119:122, "Be surety for thy servant for good"). The Hebrew strikes the hand of him for whom he goes security (Proverbs 6:1, "If thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger").

Verse 4

For thou hast hid their heart from understanding: therefore shalt thou not exalt them.

Hid - withheld.

Their heart - the intellect of his friends.

Shalt ... exalt - rather, imperative, exalt them not. Allow them not to conquer (Umbreit). (Isaiah 6:9-10)

Verse 5

He that speaketh flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail. He that speaketh flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail.

Not only are the friends void of intelligence, but also they plot Job's ruin. The Hebrew for flattery is smoothness: then it came to mean a prey divided by lot, because a smooth stone was used in casting the lots (Deuteronomy 18:8); "a portion" (Genesis 14:24). Therefore translate, "He that delivers up (literally, discloses, so betrays) his friend as a prey [ lªcheelaaq (H2506)] (which the conduct of my friends implies that they would do), even the eyes,' etc. (Noyes) (Job 11:20.) Job says this as to the sinner's children, retorting upon their reproach as to the cutting off of his (Job 5:4; Job 15:30). This accords with the Old Testament dispensation of least retribution (Exodus 20:5).

Verse 6

He hath made me also a byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret.

He - God. The poet reverentially suppresses the name of God when speaking of calamities inflicted.

Byword - (Deuteronomy 28:37; Psalms 69:11). My awful punishment makes my name execrated everywhere, as if I must have been superlatively had to have earned it.

Aforetime ... tabret - as David was honoured (1 Samuel 18:6) [from top (H8596), a drum]. Rather, from a different Hebrew root [ topet (H8611), from tuwp], the sound expressing the act of spitting-`I am treated to my face as an object of disgust.' Literally, an object to be spit upon in the face (Numbers 12:14). So Raca, from a root to spit means (Matthew 5:22). (Umbreit).

Verse 7

Mine eye also is dim by reason of sorrow, and all my members are as a shadow.

(Psalms 6:7; Psalms 31:9; Deuteronomy 34:7).

Members - literally, figures; all the individual members being special forms of the body: opposed to "shadow," which looks like a figure, but has no solidity.

Verse 8

Upright men shall be astonied at this, and the innocent shall stir up himself against the hypocrite. Upright men shall be astonied at this, and the innocent shall stir up himself against the hypocrite.

Astonied - at my unmerited sufferings.

Against the hypocrite. The upright shall feel their sense of justice wounded ('will be indignant') because of the prosperity of the wicked (Psalms 37:1-40; Psalms 73:1-28.). By "hypocrite" or "ungodly" he perhaps glances at his false friends.

Verse 9

The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.

The strength of religious principle is heightened by misfortune. The pious shall take fresh courage to persevere from the example of suffering Job. The image is from a warrior acquiring new courage in action (Isaiah 40:30-31; Philippians 1:14).

Verse 10

But as for you all, do ye return, and come now: for I cannot find one wise man among you.

Return - if you have anything to advance really wise, though I doubt it, recommended your speech. For as yet I cannot find one wise man among you all. As often so-ever as ye return to your speeches with me, I shall always find you speaking folly.

Verse 11

My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart.

Only do not vainly speak of the restoration of health to me; for "my days are past."

Broken off - as the threads of the web cut off from the loom (Isaiah 38:12).

Thoughts - literally, possessions - i:e., all the feelings and fair hopes which my heart once cherished. These belong to the heart, as "purposed" to the understanding: the two together here describe the entire inner man.

Verse 12

They change the night into day: the light is short because of darkness.

They - namely, my friends-would change the night into day; would assert that bright day is there where nothing is to be seen but dark nigh - i:e., would try to persuade me of the change of my misery into joy, which is impossible (Umbreit) (Job 11:17); (but) the light of prosperity (could it be enjoyed) would be short, because of the darkness of adversity. Or, better, for "short," the Hebrew 'near;' 'and the light of new prosperity should be near in the face of (before) the darkness of death;' i:e., they would persuade me that light is near, even though darkness approaches. Maurer translates, somewhat similarly, 'Light is nearer than the face [ qaarowb (H7138) mipªneey (H6440)] of darkness'-namely, than the meet palpable darkness. My friends say that the light of prosperity (though really it is utterly remote from me) is nearer to me my calamity, which is most palpable, and by which I am on the point of dying.

Verse 13

If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.

Rather, if I wait for the grave (scheol or the unseen world) as my house, and make my bed in the darkness (Job 17:14), and say to corruption-rather, to the pit or grave [ shachat (H7845)] etc. (Job 17:15) - Where, then, is my hope? (Umbreit). The apodosis is at Job 17:15.

Verse 14

I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister.

Thou art my father ... - Expressing most intimate connection (Job 30:29; Proverbs 7:4, "Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister"). His diseased state made him closely akin to the grave and worm.

Verse 15

And where is now my hope? as for my hope, who shall see it?

And where. Where, then is my hope? The apodosis to Job 17:13-14. Who shall see at-fulfilled? namely, the "hope" (Job 11:18) which they held out to him of restoration.

Verse 16

They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.

They - namely, my hopes, shall be buried with me.

Bars - (Isaiah 38:10, "I shall go to the gates of the grave;" Jonah 2:6, "The earth with her bars was about me for ever"). Rather, the wastes, or solitudes [badiym] of the pit ( shª'owl (H7585), the unseen world).

Rest together - the rest of me and my hopes is in, etc. Both expire together. The word "rest" implies that man's ceaseless hopes only rob him of rest.


(1) Stung to the quick by the mockings of his professed friends, and apparently on the verde of the grave, Job appeals from man to God. The believer, though tempted by sore trials to think that God is against him, arid that his afflictions are proofs of God's displeasure, yet boldly, by faith, rises above the suggestions of sense, implores the very God who afflicts him to vindicate his cause: he begs that the Great Being who wounds him, as though He were his adversary, should become his surety, and be answerable for him (Job 17:3). Marvellous to say, no pleas can there be which is more effectual with our God! Looking off from self to Christ, our surety, we may each say, with holy confidence, Thou Wilt answer for me, O Lord.

(2) Neither the prosperity of the ungodly nor the afflictions of the godly can make the believer swerve from the right path. As it was said of Fabricius, It is easier to turn the sun from his course than Fabricius from the path of honour; so it is true of the righteous (Job 17:9), that he draws strength even from opposing influences to "hold on his way" the more steadfastly. The very means which Satan adopts for shaking the faith of the people of God-namely, the infliction of unmerited sufferings on the righteous-are overruled to the confirmation of their faith; so that seeing with what patient and heroic fortitude their afflicted bretheren have cleaved to their integrity, in spite of grievous suffering the godly in general have waxed the more confident (Philippians 1:14) and resolute in their holy course.

(3) The grave is the house which ere long awaits all who shall not be found among the living at Christ's second coming. The thought that our bodies are so closely allied to the worm and corruption (Job 17:14), should lead us less to build our holes on earthly things, which shall soon crumble in the dust like ourselves (Job 17:14-16), and more to look for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour (Titus 2:13) - "the hope laid up for us in heaven" (Colossians 1:5)

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-17.html. 1871-8.
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