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Job 16:1 Then Job answered and said,
Ver. 1. Then Job answered and said ] Although he had little or nothing to answer unto but what he had answered before, yet that he might not say nothing, he replieth to Eliphaz’s painted speech, and giveth him to know, that prudentibus viris non placent phalerata sed fortia (as Bishop Jewel was wont to say), that is, that wise men look for matter, and not for words only, from those that accost them.
Job 16:2 I have heard many such things: miserable comforters [are] ye all.
Ver. 2. I have heard many such things ] Heard them over and over, till I am even sated and nauseated, Vexatus toties rauci; q.d. Your sayings are superfluous, your proofs insufficient; you produce nothing new, nothing but what is trivial, and of very common observation. Haec sex centies audivi, Mine ears are grated and grieved with these unnecessary repetitions, only reinforced with greater bitterness; which, as it addeth nothing at all to the weight of your words, so it causeth me to add this,
Miserable comforters are ye all ] Heb. Comforters of misery, or of molestation, onerous and burdensome (so the Vulgate rendereth it), and in that sense, weighty if you will, laying more load upon me who was before in a sinking condition. You charge me for slighting the consolations of God, and pretend to come on purpose to comfort me; but such cold comforters I have seldom met with; for instead of abating and allaying my sorrows, you do all you can to increase and heighten them. Is this your kindness to your friend? Calvin noteth upon this text, That some comforters have but one song to sing, and they have no regard to whom they sing it. But St Jude’s rule is, Of some have compassion, making a difference; others save with fear, Judges 1:22-23 ; which while Job’s friends observed not, they were justly styled, "Miserable comforters."
Job 16:3 Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest?
Ver. 3. Shall vain words have an end? ] Heb. Shall there be an end to words of wind? Ampullatur in arcto. Bubbles of words, big swollen speeches, full of pride, void of reason; when shall we once have an end of them? They that would comfort another indeed must not multiply vain repetition (for these are very burdensome to a serious ear, much more to a sad heart), much less bitter speeches, least of all taunts and buffooneries, as Job 16:4 . For, like as, if the eye be inflamed, the mildest medicine troubleth it, so is it here: how much more when harsh and uncouth!
Or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest? ] That thou rejoinest, having been so fully answered before? Some men will never be said or set down; such is their pertinace, they will not lay down the bucklers, though beaten to their heads. Sed praestat herbam dare, quam turpiter pugnare, Better yield than stand out with dishonour.
Job 16:4 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.
Ver. 4. I also could speak as you do, &c. ] Every whit as curiously, as furiously. I could scold and scoff as freely as you do, but I know no warrant so to retort and retaliate; "being reviled, we bless; being defamed, we entreat," 1 Corinthians 4:12-13 . To render railing for railing is to think to wash off dirt with dirt.
If your soul were in my soul’s stead] Some read it optatively, as Isaiah 64:1 , Would to God your soul were in my soul’s stead; for then I would heap up words against you, and act your part upon you; but Job was not so malicious or vindictive as to think that tallying of injuries is but justice. Hypocritis nihil est crudelius, impatientius, et vindictae cupidius, saith Luther. Hypocrites are cruel, spiteful, and revengeful; but Job was none such. He, therefore, telleth his friends that if they were in his condition he would deal much more mildly with them.
I could heap up words against you ] I could, but would not. Posse et nolle, nobile est (Sen.). Or thus, Would I heap up, &c., and handle you thus discourteously, by speeches and gestures, as you do me? It were easy to wag a wicked tongue, and to shake my head at you in despite and mockery; but were this religion? Doth not moral philosophy say, If a wise man speak evil of thee, endure him; if a fool, pardon him? Vincit qui patitar, as David did Saul, overcoming evil with good, though, when he marched against Nabal, how rough and rash was he in a resolution of revenge! 1 Samuel 25:32 .
Job 16:5 [But] I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage [your grief].
Ver. 5. But I would strengthen you with my mouth ] I would speak to your hearts, and raise up your drooping spirits. True it is, that consolatiunculae creaturulae (as Luther calleth them), creature comforts are poor businesses; nevertheless God conveyeth comfort many times by one man to another, as the air conveyeth light, or water heat. His comforts are either rational, fetched from grounds which faith ministereth; or real, from the presence of anything that comforteth, as the sight and discourse of a friend. And herein, "how forcible are right words!" Job 6:25 . They are of force, we see here, both to strengthen the feeble minded, and to abate the strength of their sorrows, to assuage the most swelling floods thereof. And thus one man may be an angel, nay, a God, to another, Now whereas some might say, You that are so good at comforting others, and promise so fair, why are you not comfortable? Job answereth, in the next verse, that this was their fault who had unkindly kept him apart from receiving any comfort.
Job 16:6 Though I speak, my grief is not asswaged: and [though] I forbear, what am I eased?
Ver. 6. Though I speak, my grief is not assuaged ] Heb. If I speak; sc. to bewail my misery, or to maintain mine innocence, ye say it is good enough for me, and how can I be but wicked who am so punished? As,
If I forbear, what am I eased? ] Heb. What goeth from me? q.d. Ye conclude me guilty, because silent; as if I had nothing to say for myself. Some make the words to refer to God; as if Job had said, Whether I speak, or whether I forbear, God doth not come in to my help, I find no comfort from him, &c., and by the next verse it should seem that this is the right sense.
Job 16:7 But now he hath made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my company.
Ver. 7. But now he hath made me weary ] i.e. God, whom he acknowledgeth the author of his afflictions; but he should better have borne up under them than to faint and fret even unto madness, as the Septuagint here translates, Quis eum fatigavit? Dolor, vel Deus ipse? (Lavat.). Job was now not only wet to the skin, but his soul came into iron, as Joseph’s once, Psalms 105:18 . Like Ezekiel’s book, Ezekiel 2:10 , he was written quite through with woes and lamentations. And he might say, with Heman, Psalms 88:15 , "While I suffer thy terrors I am distracted." The grief which he here describeth, Maior erat quam ut verbis comprehendi, gravior quam ut ferri, molestior quam ut credi possit, saith Brentius; i.e. was greater than could be uttered, heavier than could be borne, more troublesome than can be believed. He, therefore, sets it out as well as he can, and amplifies it by figures and hyperbole, to move God and his friends to pity him, and to show that he complained not without cause.
Thou hast made desolate all my company ] Heb. Thou hast wonderfully desolated, or wasted, all my company; that is, all my joints and members (so. the Vulgate translateth it, In nihilum redact; sunt omnes artus mei); but they do better that understand it of Job’s family and familiar friends, who were either destroyed, or stood amazed at his so great affliction, and yielded him little comfort. Ne te autem turbet enallage personae, saith Mercer here; the change of person need not trouble us; only the troubled and uneven speech of Job showeth that his spirit was troubled and unsettled. We meet with the like oft in the Psalms.
Job 16:8 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.
Ver. 8. Thou hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me ] viz. That I am an afflicted man, but yet not a wicked man, such as Elipbaz had described by his pinguis aqualiculus (Persius), those collops in his flank, Job 15:27 . Thou hast made me all wrinkled (so Brougbton rendereth it); or, Thou hast wrinkled me. The Hebrew word is found in Job only; but in the Rabbis more frequently. Grief had made furrows in Job’s face, and his tears had often filled them.
And my leanness rising up in me ] sc. By the continuance of my sores and sorrows, which have made my body a very bag of bones, and cause me to cry out, "My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!" Isaiah 24:16 . My flesh, through my grievous anguish, being fallen from my bones, which rise up in a ghastly manner.
Beareth witness to my face ] sc. That I am one of God’s Plagipatidae, poor afflicted: but what of that? Scourgeth he not every son whom he receiveth? Hebrews 12:6 . Others render it, In my face; where my leanness sitteth, and is most conspicuous; like as it is said of our Saviour, That with fasting and painstaking he had so wanzed and macerated himself, that, at little past thirty he was looked upon as one toward fifty, John 8:57 . And as Mr John Fox, the martyrologue, by his excessive pains in compiling the Acts and Monuments of the Church, in eleven years, grew thereby so lean and withered, that his friends hardly knew him to be the same man (Mr Clark in his Life).
Job 16:9 He teareth [me] in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnasheth upon me with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me.
Ver. 9. He teareth me in his wrath, &c. ] Who did all this to Job? The devil, say some; his disease, say others that was a most uncharitable censure passed by Luther upon Oecolampadius, that he died suddenly, ignitis Satanae telis confossus, slain by Satan’s fiery darts, because he died of a carbuncle (Lib. de Missa. prin., A.D. 1533). But Job surely meaneth it of God, upon whom his heart was still, though he speak here somewhat unhappily of him, out of the sense of the flesh, and greatness of his grief.
Who hateth me ] Heb. He Satanically hateth me. What strange language is this from him who elsewhere calleth God his salvation, his redeemer, Job 13:15-16 ; Job 13:18 ; Job 19:25 , and will eventually call him his witness in heaven, to whom his eye poureth out tears! Job 16:19-20 . How shall we reconcile these so contrary passions and passages, otherwise than by saying, that every good man is two men? &c.; neither can it possibly be expressed how deeply sensible the saints are of God’s displeasure when they are more than ordinarily afflicted by him, and especially when he seemeth to fight against them with his own hand. Hereby, saith Ferus, we may easily see in what a perplexed estate wicked reprobates shall be at the last day, when God shall declare himself to be such an enemy to them indeed; for so much as one of his elect, and a most rare man, but, conceiving him to be against him, because he had no present sense of his favour, was thus extremely troubled.
He gnasheth upon me with his teeth ] As extremely angry, Acts 7:54 , and by sharpening his teeth threatening destruction, Psalms 37:12 .
Mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me ] Which cast forth, as it were, sparkles of fire. An elegant hypotyposis, or description of his sad condition to the life, Ut non tam gesta res quam nunc geri videatur, saith Brentius, as if we saw it even acted before our faces.
Job 16:10 They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me.
Ver. 10. They have gaped upon me with their mouth ] They? who? Non solum Deus, nec solum amici mei, sed tota rerum machina mihi adversatur, Not God only, nor these friends of mine, but all the creatures are up in arms against me, and threateneth to devour me at one morsel.
They have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully ] i.e. They have done me all the disgrace that may be. See Lamentations 3:30 2 Corinthians 11:20-21 Mic 5:1 John 18:22; John 18:22 . Our Saviour was so served according to the letter; they gaped upon him, mowed at him, buffeted him on the face, gathered themselves together against him, as here. Hence some of the ancients call Job a figure and type of Christ, who was thus dealt with both literally and also figuratively.
They have gathered themselves together against me ] Or, They have filled themselves upon me, as Exodus 15:7 . They have taken their fill of pleasure at my miseries, as Tigurius rendereth it; or, They come upon me by full troops, so Broughton. Men are apt to agree for mischief Psalms 35:15 ; Psalms 83:5-7 .
Job 16:11 God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked.
Ver. 11. God hath delivered me to the ungodly ] i.e. To the devil and his instruments, those Chaldean and Sabean robbers, Job 1:15 ; Job 1:17 , together with his hard hearted friends, who, for want of the true fear of God, added to his afflictions, Job 6:14 . See Trapp on " Job 6:14 "
And turned me over, &c. ] As a magistrate doth a malefactor to the executioner. It is a sore affliction to be under the rule of wicked men; much more to be under the rage, which yet was the case of that noble army of martyrs, ancient and modern. The comfort is, that although the Lord turn his servants over into the hands of the wicked, whose tender mercies are mere cruelties, yet he never turns them out of his own hand, neither will he suffer the rod of the wicked to rest upon the lot of the righteous, Psalms 125:3 . His constant care is, that the choice spirits of his afflicted people fail not before him, and, therefore, he numbereth out their strokes, and if their enemies over do and go beyond their commission, so as to help forward the before appointed affliction, he is sore displeased, and jealous with a great jealousy against them, Zechariah 1:15 .
Job 16:12 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.
Ver. 12. I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder ] It is no small misery to have been happy. Fuimus Troes et fortis Milesis. Euripides bringeth in Hecuba as ashamed to look Polymnestor in the face, because having been a queen she was now a captive; her former felicity was no small aggravation compared to her present misery: so was Job’s. Prosper eram, sed disrupit me, saith he. I was wealthy, but he hath undone me; so Broughton rendereth it. The same Hebrew word signifieth both to be rich and to be at ease; for such commonly sing requiems to their souls, as he did Luke 12:19 , and say, "I shall never be moved," Psalms 30:6 ; "I shall see no sorrow," Revelation 18:7 . But God can quickly confute them. Job’s worldly prosperity was quickly dashed and lost. He once hoped to have died in his nest, but God not only unnested him, but broke him to shivers, yea, beat him to dust and atoms, as the word here signifies. Nay, more,
He hath also taken me by my neck ] As a strong man doth his enemy, dashing him to the ground, and giving him his passport, as we say.
And hath shaken me to pieces ] Heb. He hath scattered and scattered me, as a stone crumbled to crattle, or a pitcher beaten to powder. Sunt illustres figurae et elegantes hyperbolae, saith Mercer. Here is brave rhetoric.
And set me up for his mark ] Heb. For a mark to him; that I may feel all the arrows of his judgments. See Job 7:20 , with the notes there. God shot showers of shafts at him, and seemed to take pleasure in so doing, as a man doth in his shooting at a mark.
Job 16:13 His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground.
Ver. 13. His archers compass me round about ] i.e. His instruments of my woe, whether persons or things, but especially my grievous sores putting me through intolerable pain; these are God’s arrows or archers, and do make my poor body not unlike that shield of Sceva, at the siege of Dyrrachium, which had two hundred and twenty darts sticking in it, when Caesar came to his rescue, Densamque ferens in pectore silvam (Luc.).
He cleaveth my reins asunder ] As a skilful archer, he hits the white, he cleaves the pin, as they call it, he shooteth exactly (to the very chilling and dissecting of my backbone), and so putteth me to most exquisite pain and torment, Lamentations 3:13 .
He poureth out my gall upon the ground ] My bowels, saith the Vulgate. The gall is affixed to the liver, and when that is poured out; the man cannot live, because his wound is mortal and incurable. Job held himself so, but it proved better; the Lord chastened him sore, but he gave him not over to death, Psalms 118:18 .
Job 16:14 He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me like a giant.
Ver. 14. He breaketh me with breach upon breach ] So that I have hardly any breathing while, Quis tot et tantis ferendis simul par sit? Let no man henceforth say, Never did any one suffer such hard and heavy things as I do. What! did not Job? This story of his is a case book to answer such an objection, since never any before nor since his time was so handled; witness the lamentable moan he maketh here, Non habet in nobis iam nova plaga locum. And yet to show his equanimity under the hand of God, Buxtorf and Amama have observed, that the Hebrew word, Perets, in this text rendered breath, hath a letter lesser than ordinary in the best copies, to signify that Job’s great calamities seemed to him to be but little, because he hoped that God would turn them all to the best unto his soul.
He runneth upon me like a giant ] With speed, strength, and courage, fiercely and fearlessly. But now what doth Job? doth he stand stouting and sturdying it out with God? No, but in the next words he telleth us how be was affected with these afflictions; sc. that as God’s hand was heavy upon him, so he held out all the demonstrations and emblems of a heavy heart; and as God had laid him low, so be carried his soul accordingly. God reined him with a rough bit, and he repented.
Job 16:15 I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust.
Ver. 15. I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin ] Not silks, but sackcloth, is now mine immediate clothing, next to my very skin, which must needs be troublesome to a man so full of sores and other sorrows. So far was poor ulcerous Job from that height and haughtiness of spirit, wherewith Eliphaz had charged him, Job 15:12-13 ; Job 15:25 , as if Job had been low indeed, but not lowly; humbled, but not humble, Here was a real apology, I have sowed sackcloth, &c.; here was an ocular demonstration, and should have moved his friends to more moderation; for why should any deal harshly with him, who dealt so coarsely with himself?
And defiled my horn in the dust ] My horn, that is, my head, say some. My splendour, saith the Chaldee. Omnia quondam msgnifica, all that I formerly made any reckoning of, saith Brentius; who also hath this good note upon the text. The sense of God’s wrath and judgments due for sin changeth all our gaiety, maketh all our costly garments to be laid aside, putteth us into the habit of penitent suppliants, causeth us to abhor ourselves, and repent in dust and ashes, which were anciently the signs and symbols of true contrition. And now since Christians ought to repent all their life long, and to grieve for their sins, let them be always clothed with sackcloth, not without, but within; and let them put dust on their heads, by remembering that they are but dust; and that they cannot be raised out of the dust, and instead of sackcloth be clothed with the robes of glory, but by the mercy of God, through the merits of Christ, &c.
Job 16:16 My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids [is] the shadow of death;
Ver. 16. My face is foul with weeping ] Is swelled, saith the Vulgate. Is shrivelled up, say the Jewish doctors. Is doublely dirtied, so one rendereth it. So far was Job from stretching out his hand against God, and strengthening himself against the Almighty, as Elipbaz had charged him, Job 15:25 , that he lay at God’s feet as a suppliant, with blubbered and beslubbered cheeks; having furrows in his face, and icicles from his lips with continual weeping; yea, he had wept himself blind almost, for so it followeth,
And on mine eyelids is the shadow of death ] i.e. Mine eyes do fail with tears, as Lamentations 2:11 . Larga lacbrymarum copia aciem oculorum obstruente; they are even wasted away and sunk into my head, as in a dying man (Mercer). Much weeping spendeth the spirits, weakeneth the visive power, and sometimes blindeth, as it did Faustus (the son of Vortigern, king of this island, by his own daughter), who is said to have wept himself blind for the abominations of his parents. See David’s tears and the effects thereof, Psalms 6:7 ; Psalms 38:10 .
Job 16:17 Not for [any] injustice in mine hands: also my prayer [is] pure.
Ver. 17. Not for any injustice (Heb. Violence or wrong doing) in my hands] Job could wash his hands of that rapine and bribery wherewith they had injuriously charged him, Job 15:34 , and safely say of it, as afterwards Father Latimer did of sedition (3 Serm. before K. Edw.), As for that sin, for aught that I know, methinks I should not need Christ, if I might so say. Some failings there might be in him in doing justice, but no intentions of doing injustice.
Also my prayer is pure ] As proceeding from a heart washed from wickedness, Jeremiah 4:14 , and presented with holy hands, lifted up without wrath or doubting, 1 Timothy 2:8 . That he regarded not iniquity in his heart he was well assured, Psalms 66:17 . Prayer is the pouring out of the heart; if iniquity be harboured there, prayer will have the scent and savour, and that incense will strike off the hand which offereth it. God requireth that in every place incense be offered unto his name, and a pure offering, Malachi 1:11 . It standeth a man in hand to see that though his work be but mean, yet it be clean; though not fine, yet not foul, soiled, and slubbered with the slur of a rotten heart. An upright man in afflictions is not without his cordial, as is to be seen in Job here, and St Paul, 2 Corinthians 1:12 .
Job 16:18 O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place.
Ver. 18. O earth, cover not thou my blood ] Job had made a high profession of his innocence and integrity. This he further confirmeth, 1. By an imprecation against himself. 2. By an appeal to God, Job 16:19 . In this imprecation or wish of his (which Mr Broughton taketh to be meant by the foregoing words, Also my prayer is pure, rendered by him thus, But my wish is clean, saying, O earth, cover not, &c.) he hath an eye, no doubt, to the history of Abel’s blood, shed by Cain, Genesis 4:1-15 , and it is as if he should say, If I have committed murder or any the like wickedness, cover it not, O earth, but do thy office by crying out against me; yea, cry so loud to God for vengeance, as to drown the voice of my supplication.
And let my cry have no place ] A most pathetic speech, able to move the heart of his friends to relent to hear it, and straightway to alter their opinion of him, while he thus bespeaketh the earth, and maketh res mutas mortuasque, the dumb and lifeless creatures his hearers.
Job 16:19 Also now, behold, my witness [is] in heaven, and my record [is] on high.
Ver. 19. Also now behold my witness is in heaven ] Here is his appeal to God. So great is the confidence of a good conscience. We also may do the like, if there be no other way left for clearing our innocence; provided that we do it with a clear conscience, and in a matter of consequence; not in jest, but in judgment. Some of the martyrs appealed thus, and cited their persecutors to answer at God’s tribunal. Yea, to help the truth in necessity, a private oath between two or more may be lawfully taken, so it be done sparingly and warily; for in serious affairs and matters of great importance, if it be lawful in private to admit God as a judge, why should he not as well be called to witness? Again, the examples of holy men show the practice of private oaths as not unlawful. Jacob and Laban confirmed their covenant by a private oath, so did Jonathan and David, &c.
Job 16:20 My friends scorn me: [but] mine eye poureth out [tears] unto God.
Ver. 20. My friends scorn me ] Or, play the rhetoricians against me. David likewise complaineth of his rhetorical mockers at feasts, that made as it were set speeches against him. One rendereth it, My friends are interpreters, or rather misinterpreters, of my speeches. "For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer," Psalms 109:4 .
But mine eye poureth out tears unto God ] Expletur lachrymis egeriturque dolor. The Hebrew hath it, Mine eye droppeth or distilleth to God. Prayers and tears are the weapons of the saints, whose eyes, glazed with tears, are fitly compared to the fishpools of Heshbon, Song of Solomon 7:4 . These tears have a voice, Psalms 39:12 , "Hold not thy peace at my tears" they are most powerful orators. Christ, going to suffer on the cross, could not but turn back and comfort those weeping women. God will pour out comforts into their bosoms who can pour out tears into his; they can never be at any loss who find out God to weep to.
Job 16:21 O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man [pleadeth] for his neighbour!
Ver. 21. O that one might plead for a man with God ] Heb. And he will plead for a man with God, and the Son of man for his friend; that is (say our late learned annotators, to whom we are greatly bound for this most sweet and spiritual exposition of the words), Christ, who is God and man, will plead my cause with his Father; he can prevail, because he is God equal to the Father; he will undertake it, because he will be man like to me. This interpretation agreeth best with the coherence and the words following. And it seemeth that Job knew the mystery of Christ’s incarnation, Job 19:25-27 , where he speaketh of him both as God, and as a visible Redeemer. Christ is frequently called the Son of man in the New Testament, and believers are called his friends, John 15:13-15 . By this text thus expounded we see that the doctrine of a mediator between God and man was known and believed in the world long before Christ came into the world. He is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world, Revelation 13:8 , and to the Jews the ceremonial law was instead of a gospel.
Job 16:22 When a few years are come, then I shall go the way [whence] I shall not return.
Ver. 22. When a few years are come, &c. ] Heb. Years of number; that is, years that may easily be counted and cast up. The years of the longest liver are but few, they may be quickly numbered. This ran much in Job’s mind, and made him very desirous to be cleared before he died, that he might not go out of the world in a snuff.
Then shall I go the way ] That way of all flesh, 1 Kings 2:2 , which Job feareth not to do, as knowing whom he had trusted, and that death should be unto him the daybreak of eternal brightness.
Whence I shall not return ] See Job 7:9-10 ; Job 10:21 , with the notes.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28