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1 Then began Job, and said:
2 I have now heard such things in abundance,
Troublesome comforters are ye all!
3 Are windy words now at an end,
Or what goadeth thee that thou answerest?
4 I also would speak like you,
If only your soul were in my soul's stead.
I would weave words against you,
And shake my head at you;
5 I would encourage you with my mouth,
And the solace of my lips should soothe you.
The speech of Eliphaz, as of the other two, is meant to be comforting. It is, however, primarily an accusation; it wounds instead of soothing. Of this kind of speech, says Job, one has now heard רבּות , much, i.e., (in a pregnant sense) amply sufficient, although the word might signify elliptically (Psalms 106:43; comp. Nehemiah 9:28) many times (Jer. frequenter ); multa (as Job 23:14) is, however, equally suitable, and therefore is to be preferred as the more natural. Job 16:2 shows how כּאלּה is intended; they are altogether עמל מנחמי , consolatores onerosi (Jer.), such as, instead of alleviating, only cause עמל , molestiam (comp. on Job 13:4). In Job 16:3 Job returns their reproach of being windy, i.e., one without any purpose and substance, which they brought against him, Job 15:2.: have windy words an end, or ( לו vel = אם in a disjunctive question, Ges. §155, 2, b) if not, what goads thee on to reply? מרץ has been already discussed on Job 6:25. The Targ. takes it in the sense of מלץ : what makes it sweet to thee, etc.; the Jewish interpreters give it, without any proof, the signification, to be strong; the lxx transl. παρενοχλήσει , which is not transparent. Hirz., Ew., Schlottm., and others, call in the help of the Arabic marida (Aramaic מרע ), to be sick, the IV. form of which signifies “to make sick,” not “to injure.”
(Note: The primary meaning of Arabic marida (root mr, stringere) is maceratum esse, by pressing, rubbing, beating, to be tender, enervated (Germ. dialectic and popul. abmaracht ); comp. the nearest related maratsa, then maraza, marasa, maraa, and further, the development of the meaning of morbus and μαλαακία ; - originally and first, of bodily sickness, then also of diseased affections and conditions of spirit, as envy, hatred, malice, etc.; vid., Sur. 2, v. 9, and Beidhâwi thereon. - Fl.)
We keep to the primary meaning, to pierce, penetrate; Hiph. to goad, bring out, lacessere : what incites thee, that ( כי as Job 6:11, quod not quum ) thou repliest again? The collective thought of what follows is not that he also, if they were in his place, could do as they have done; that he, however, would not so act (thus e.g., Blumenfeld: with reasons for comfort I would overwhelm you, and sympathizingly shake my head over you, etc.). This rendering is destroyed by the shaking of the head, which is never a gesture of pure compassion, but always of malignant joy, Sir. 12:18; or of mockery at another's fall, Isaiah 37:22; and misfortune, Psalms 22:8; Jeremiah 18:16; Matthew 27:39. Hence Merc. considers the antithesis to begin with Job 16:5, where, however, there is nothing to indicate it: minime id facerem, quin potius vos confirmarem ore meo - rather: that he also could display the same miserable consolation; he represents to them a change of their respective positions, in order that, as in a mirror, they may recognise the hatefulness of their conduct. The negative antecedent clause si essem (with לוּ , according to Ges. §155, 2, f) is surrounded by cohortatives, which (since the interrogative form of interpretation is inadmissible) signify not only loquerer , but loqui possem , or rather loqui vellem (comp. e.g., Psalms 51:18, dare vellem ). When he says: I would range together, etc. (Carey: I would combine), he gives them to understand that their speeches are more artificial than natural, more declamations than the outgushings of the heart; instead of מלּים , it is בּמלּים , since the object of the action is thought is as the means, as in Job 16:4 ראשׁי במּו , capite meo (for caput meum , Psalms 22:8), and בּפיהם , Job 16:10, for פּיּהם , comp. Jeremiah 18:16; Lamentations 1:17, Ges. §138† ; Ew. takes חהביר by comparison of the Arabic chbr , to know (the IV. form of which, achbara , however, signifies to cause to know, announce), in a sense that belongs neither to the Heb. nor to the Arab.: to affect wisdom. In Job 16:5 the chief stress is upon “with my mouth,” without the heart being there, so also on the word “my lips,” solace ( ניד ἅπ. λεγ. , recalling Isaiah 57:19, ניב שׂפתים , offspring or fruit of the lips) of my lips, i.e., dwelling only on the lips, and not coming from the heart. In '' אאמּצכם ( Piel, not Hiph.) the Ssere is shortened to Chirek (Ges. §60, rem. 4). According to Job 16:6, כאבכם is to be supplied to יחשׂך . He also could offer such superficial condolence without the sympathy which places itself in the condition and mood of the sufferer, and desires to afford that relief which it cannot. And yet how urgently did he need right and effectual consolation! He is not able to console himself, as the next strophe says: neither by words nor by silence is his pain assuaged.
The verb קמט (Aram. קמט ), which occurs only once beside (Job 22:16), has, like Arab. qmṭ (in Gecatilia's transl.), the primary meaning of binding and grasping firmly (lxx ἐπελάβου , Symm. κατέδησας , Targ. for לכד תּמך , lengthened to a quadriliteral in Arab. qmṭr , cogn. קמץ ),
(Note: On the other hand, קטם , Arab. qṭm , abscindere, praemordere , has no connection with קמט , with which Kimchi and Reiske confuse it. This is readily seen from the opposite primary distinction of the two roots, קם and קט , of which the former expresses union, the latter separation.)
constringere , from which the significations comprehendere and corrugare have branched off; the signification, to wrinkle (make wrinkled), to shrivel up, is the most common, and the reference which follows, to his emaciation, and the lines which occur further on from the picture of one sick with elephantiasis, show that the poet here has this in his mind. Ewald's conjecture, which changes היה into היּה , Job 6:2; Job 30:13 = הוּה , as subject to ותקמטני (calamity seizes me as a witness), deprives the thought contained in לעד , which renders the inferential clause לעד היה prominent, of much of its force and emphasis. In Job 16:8 this thought is continued: כּחשׁ signifies here, according to Psalms 109:24 (which see), a wasting away; the verb-group כחשׁ כחד , Arab. jḥd , kḥt , qḥṭ , etc., has the primary meaning of taking away and decrease: he becomes thin from whom the fat begins to fail; to disown is equivalent to holding back recognition and admission; the metaphor, water that deceives = dries up, is similar. His wasted, emaciated appearance, since God has thus shrivelled him up, came forth against him, told him to his face, i.e., accused him not merely behind his back, but boldly and directly, as a convicted criminal. God has changed himself in relation to him into an enraged enemy. Schlottm. wrongly translates: one tears and tortures me fiercely; Raschi erroneously understands Satan by צרי . In general, it is the wrath of God whence Job thinks his suffering proceeds. It was the wrath of God which tore him so (like Hosea 6:1, comp. Amos 1:11), and pursued him hostilely (as he says with the same word in Job 30:21); God has gnashed against him with His teeth; God drew or sharpened (Aq., Symm., Theod., ὤξυνεν לטשׁ like Psalms 7:13). His eyes or looks like swords (Targ. as a sharp knife, אזמל , σμίλη ) for him, i.e., to pierce him through. Observe the aorr. interchanging with perff. and imperff. He describes the final calamity which has made him such a piteous form with the mark of the criminal. His present suffering is only the continuation of the decree of wrath which is gone forth concerning him.
10 They have gaped against me with their mouth,
In contempt they smite my cheeks;
They conspire together against me.
11 God left me to the mercy of the ungodly,
And cast me into the hands of the evil-doer.
He does not mean the friends by those who mock and vex him with their contemptuous words, but the men around him who envied his prosperity and now rejoice at his misfortune; those to whom his uprightness was a burden, and who now consider themselves disencumbered of their liege lord, the over-righteous, censorious, godly man. The perfects here also have not a present signification; he depicts his suffering according to the change it has wrought since it came upon him. The verb פּער is used with the instrumental Beth instead of with the acc., as Job 29:23 (comp. on במלים , Job 16:4): they make an opening with their mouth (similar to Psalms 22:8, they make an opening with the lips, for diducunt labia ). Smiting on the cheeks is in itself an insult (Lamentations 3:30); the additional בּחרפּה will therefore refer to insulting words which accompany the act. The Hithpa. התמלּא , which occurs only here, signifies not only to gather together a מלא in general, Isaiah 31:4, but (after the Arab. tamâla'a ‛ala , to conspire against any one)
(Note: Wetzstein thinks the signification conspirare for יתמלאון poor in this connection, and prefers to translate: All together they eat themselves full upon me, התמלּא as reflexive of מלּא , Job 38:39, synon. of נשׂבע , as in “the Lovers of Amâsiâ,” Ferhhât, after the death of his beloved, cries out: We are not separated! To-morrow (i.e., soon) the All-kind One will unite us in paradise, and we shall satisfy ourselves one with another (Arab. w-ntmll' mn b-'dnâ 'l-b'd). One would, however, expect ממּנּי instead of עלי ; but perhaps we may refer to the interchange of התענג על , Job 22:26; Job 27:10, with התענג מן , Isaiah 66:11.)
to complete one's self, to strengthen one's self (for a like hostile purpose): Reiske correctly: sibi invicem mutuam et auxiliatricem operam contra me simul omnes ferunt.
(Note: The signification to help, which belongs to the I. form Arab. mala'a , proceeds from malâ'un , to have abundance, to be well off; prop. to be able to furnish any one with the means ( opes, copias) for anything, and thereby to place him in a position to accomplish it. Comp. the Lat. ops, opem ferre, opitulari, opes, opulentus (Arab. malâ'un). - Fl.)
The meaning of עויל is manifest from Job 21:11; from עוּל , to suckle, alere (Arab. ‛âl med . Wau , whence the inf. ‛aul , ‛uwûl , and ‛ijâle ), it signifies boys, knaves; and it is as unnecessary to suppose two forms, עויל and עויל , as two meanings, puer and pravus , since the language and particularly the book of Job has coined עוּל for the latter signification: it signifies in all three passages (here and Job 19:18; Job 21:11) boys, or the boyish, childish, knavish. The Arabic warratta leaves no doubt as to the derivation and meaning of ירטני ; it signifies to cast down to destruction ( warttah, a precipice, ruin, danger), and so here the fut. Kal ירטני for יירטני (Ges. §69, rem. 3), praecipitem me dabat (lxx ἔῤῥιψε , Symm. ἐνέβαλε ), as the praet. Kal, Numbers 22:32: praeceps = exitiosa est via . The preformative Jod has Metheg in correct texts, so that we need not suppose, with Ralbag, a רטה , similar in meaning to ירט .
12 I was at ease, but He hath broken me in pieces;
And He hath taken me by the neck and shaken me to pieces,
And set me up for a mark for himself.
13 His arrows whistled about me;
He pierced my reins without sparing;
He poured out my gall upon the ground.
14 He brake through me breach upon breach,
He ran upon me like a mighty warrior.
He was prosperous and contented, when all at once God began to be enraged against him; the intensive form פּרפּר (Arab. farfara ) signifies to break up entirely, crush, crumble in pieces ( Hithpo. to become fragile, Isaiah 24:19); the corresponding intensive form פּצפּץ (from פּצץ , Arab. fḍḍ , cogn. נפץ ), to beat in pieces ( Polel of a hammer, Jeremiah 23:29), to dash to pieces: taking him by the neck, God raised him on high in order to dash him to the ground with all His might. מטּרה (from נטר , τηρεῖν , like σκοπός from σκέπτισθαι ) is the target, as in the similar passage, Lamentations 3:12, distinct from מפגּע , Job 7:20, object of attack and point of attack: God has set me up for a target for himself, in order as it were to try what He and His arrows can do. Accordingly רבּיו (from רבב רבה רמה , jacere ) signifies not: His archers (although this figure would be admissible after Job 10:17; Job 19:12, and the form after the analogy of רב רע , etc., is naturally taken as a substantival adj.), but, especially since God appears directly as the actor: His arrows (= הצּיו , Job 6:4), from רב , formed after the analogy of בּז מס , etc., according to which it is translated by lxx, Targ., Jer., while most of the Jewish expositors, referring to Jeremiah 50:29 (where we need not, with Böttch., point רבים , and here רביו ), interpret by מורי החצים . On all sides, whichever way he might turn himself, the arrows of God flew about him, mercilessly piercing his reins, so that his gall-bladder became empty (comp. Lamentations 2:11, and vid., Psychol. S. 268). It is difficult to conceive what is here said;
(Note: The emptying of the gall takes place if the gall-bladder or any of its ducts are torn; but how the gall itself (without assuming some morbid condition) can flow outwardly, even with a severe wound, is a difficult question, with which only those who have no appreciation of the standpoint of imagery and poetry will distress themselves. [On the ”spilling of the gall” or “bursting of the gall-bladder” among the Arabs, as the working of violent and painful emotions, vid., Zeitschr. der deutschen morgenländ. Gesellsch. Bd. xvi. S. 586, Z. 16ff. - Fl.])
it is, moreover, not meant to be understood strictly according to the sense: the divine arrows, which are only an image for divinely decreed sufferings, pressed into his inward parts, and wounded the noblest organs of his nature. In Job 16:14 follows another figure. He was as a wall which was again and again broken through by the missiles or battering-rams of God, and against which He ran after the manner of besiegers when storming. פּרץ is the proper word for such breaches and holes in a wall generally; here it is connected as obj. with its own verb, according to Ges. §138, rem. 1. The second פרץ פּרץ with Kametz) has Ssade minusculum, for some reason unknown to us.
The next strophe says what change took place in his own conduct in consequence of this incomprehensible wrathful disposition of God which had vented itself on him.
15 I sewed sackcloth upon my skin,
And defiled my horn with dust.
16 My face is exceeding red with weeping,
And on mine eyelids is the shadow of death,
17 Although there is no wrong in my hand,
And my prayer is pure.
Coarse-haired cloth is the recognised clothing which the deeply sorrowful puts on, ἱμάτιον στενοχωρίας καὶ πένθους , as the Greek expositors remark. Job does not say of it that he put it on or slung it round him, but that he sewed it upon his naked body; and this is to be attributed to the hideous distortion of the body by elephantiasis, which will not admit of the use of the ordinary form of clothes. For the same reason he also uses, not עורי , but גּלדּי , which signifies either the scurfy scaly surface (as גּלד and הנליד in Talmudic of the scab of a healing wound, but also occurring e.g., of the bedaggled edge of clothes when it has become dry), or scornfully describes the skin as already almost dead; for the healthy skin is called עזר גּלד , on the other hand, βύρσα (lxx), hide (esp. when removed from the body), Talm. e.g., sole-leather. We prefer the former interpretation (adopted by Raschi and others): The crust in which the terrible lepra has clothed his skin (vid., on Job 7:5; Job 30:18-19, Job 30:30) is intended. עללתּי in Job 16:15 is referred by Rosenm., Hirz., Ges., and others (as indeed by Saad. and Gecat., who transl. “I digged into”), to עלל (Arab. gll ), to enter, penetrate: “I stuck my horn in the dust;” but this signification of the Hebrew עלל is unknown, it signifies rather to inflict pain, or scorn (e.g., Lamentations 3:51, mine eye causeth pain to my soul), generally with ל , here with the accusative: I have misused, i.e., injured or defiled (as the Jewish expositors explain), my horn with dust. This is not equivalent to my head (as in the Syr. version), but he calls everything that was hitherto his power and pride קרני (lxx, Targ.); all this he has together at the same time injured, i.e., represented as come to destruction, by covering his head with dust and ashes.
The construction of the Chethib is like 1 Samuel 4:15, of the Keri on the other hand like Lamentations 1:20; Lamentations 2:11 (where the same is said of מעי , viscera mea ); חמרמר is a passive intensive form (Ges. §55, 3), not in the signification: they are completely kindled (lxx συγκέκανται , Jer. intumuit , from the חמר , Arab. chmr , which signifies to ferment), but: they are red all over (from חמר , Arab. ḥmr , whence the Alhambra, as a red building, takes its name), reddened, i.e., from weeping; and this has so weakened them, that the shadow of death (vid., on Job 10:21.) seems to rest upon his eyelids; they are therefore sad even to the deepest gloom. Thus exceedingly miserable is his state and appearance, although he is no disguised hypocrite, who might need to do penance in sackcloth and ashes, and shed tears of penitence without any solace. Hirz. explains על as a preposition: by the absence of evil in my hands; but Job 16:17 and Job 16:17 are substantival clauses, and על is therefore just, like Isaiah 53:9, a conjunction (= על־אשׁר ). His hands are clean from wrong-doing, free from violence and oppression; his prayer is pure, pura ; as Merc. observes, ex puritate cordis et fidei. From the feeling of the strong contrast between his piety and his being stigmatized as an evil-doer by such terrible suffering, - from this extreme contrast which has risen now to its highest in his consciousness of patient endurance of suffering, the lofty thoughts of the next strophe take their rise.
18 Oh earth, cover thou not my blood,
And let my cry find no resting-place!! -
19 Even now behold in heaven is my Witness,
And One who acknowledgeth me is in the heights!
20 Though the mockers of me are my friends -
To Eloah mine eyes pour forth tears,
21 That He may decide for man against Eloah,
And for the son of man against his friend.
22 For the years that may be numbered are coming on,
And I shall go a way without return.
Blood that is not covered up cries for vengeance, Ezekiel 24:7.; so also blood still unavenged is laid bare that it may find vengeance, Isaiah 26:21. According to this idea, in the lofty consciousness of his innocence, Job calls upon the earth not to suck in his blood as of one innocently slain, but to let it lie bare, thereby showing that it must be first of all avenged ere the earth can take it up;
(Note: As, according to the tradition, it is said to have been impossible to remove the stain of the blood of Zachariah the son of Jehoiada, who was murdered in the court of the temple, until it was removed by the destruction of the temple itself.)
and for his cry, i.e., the cry ( זעקתי to be explained according to Genesis 4:10) proceeding from his blood as from his poured-out soul, he desires that it may urge its way unhindered and unstilled towards heaven without finding a place of rest (Symm. στάσις ). Therefore, in the very God who appears to him to be a blood-thirsty enemy in pursuit of him, Job nevertheless hopes to find a witness of his innocence: He will acknowledge his blood, like that of Abel, to be the blood of an innocent man. It is an inward irresistible demand made by his faith which here brings together two opposite principles - principles which the understanding cannot unite - with bewildering boldness. Job believes that God will even finally avenge the blood which His wrath has shed, as blood that has been innocently shed. This faith, which sends forth beyond death itself the word of absolute command contained in Job 16:18, in Job 16:19 brightens and becomes a certain confidence, which draws from the future into the present that acknowledgment which God afterwards makes of him as innocent. The thought of what is unmerited in that decree of wrath which delivers him over to death, is here forced into the background, and in the front stands only the thought of the exaltation of the God in heaven above human short-sightedness, and the thought that no one else but He is the final refuge of the oppressed: even now (i.e., this side of death)
(Note: Comp. 1 Kings 14:14, where it is probably to be explained: Jehovah shall raise up for himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day, but what? even now ( גם עתה ), i.e., He hath raised him up (= but no, even now).)
behold in heaven is my witness ( הנּה an expression of the actus directus fidei ) and my confessor ( שׂהר a poetic Aramaism, similar in meaning to עד , lxx ὁ συνίστωπ μου ) in the heights. To whom should he flee from the mockery of his friends, who consider his appeal to the testimony of his conscience as the stratagem of a hypocrite! מליצי from הליץ , Psalms 119:51, my mockers, i.e., those mocking me, lascivientes in me (vid., Gesch. der jüd. Poesie, S. 200. The short clause, Job 16:20, is, logically at least, like a disjunctive clause with כי or גם־כי , Ewald, §362, b: if his friends mock him - to Eloah, who is after all the best of friends, his eyes pour forth tears ( דּלפה , stillat, comp. דּלּוּ of languishing, Isaiah 38:14), that He may decide ( ויוכח voluntative in a final signification, as Job 9:33) for man ( ל here, as Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 2:4, of the client) against ( עם , as Psalms 55:19; Psalms 94:16, of an opponent) Eloah, and for the son of man ( ל to be supplied here in a similar sense to Job 16:21, comp. Job 15:3) in relation to ( ל as it is used in ל ... בּין , e.g., Ezekiel 34:22) his friend. Job longs and hopes for two things from God: (1) that He would finally decide in favour of גבר , i.e., just himself, the patient sufferer, in opposition to God, that therefore God would acknowledge that Job is not a criminal, nor his suffering a merited punishment; (2) that He would decide in favour of בן־אדם , i.e., himself, who is become an Ecce homo , in relation to his human opponent ( רעהוּ , not collective, but individualizing or distributive instead of רעיו ), who regards him as a sinner undergoing punishment, and preaches to him the penitence that becomes one who has fallen. ויוכח is purposely only used once, and the expression Job 16:21 is contracted in comparison with 21 a: the one decision includes the other; for when God himself destroys the idea of his lot being merited punishment, He also at the same time delivers judgment against the friends who have zealously defended Him against Job as a just judge.
Olsh. approves Ewald's translation: “That He allows man to be in the right rather than God, and that He judges man against his friend:” but granted even that הוכיח , like שׁפט followed by an acc., may be used in the signification: to grant any one to be in the right (although, with such a construction, it everywhere signifies ἐλέγχειν ), this rendering would still not commend itself, on account of the specific gravity of the hope which is here struggling through the darkness of conflict. Job appeals from God to God; he hopes that truth and love will finally decide against wrath. The meaning of הוכיח has reference to the duty of an arbitrator, as in Job 9:33. Schlottm. aptly recalls the saying of the philosophers, which applies here in a different sense from that in which it is meant, nemo contra Deum, nisi Deus ipse. In Job 16:22 Job now establishes the fact that the heavenly witness will not allow him to die a death that he and others would regard as the death of a sinner, from the brevity of the term of life yet granted him, and the hopelessness of man when he is once dead. מספּר שׁנות are years of number = few years (lxx ἔτη ἀριθμητά ); comp. the position of the words as they are to be differently understood, Job 15:20. On the inflexion jeethâju , vid., on Job 12:6. Jerome transl. transeunt , but אתה cannot signify this in any Semitic dialect. But even that Job (though certainly the course of elephantiasis can continue for years) is intended to refer to the prospect of some, although few, years of life (Hirz. and others: the few years which I can still look forward to, are drawing on), does not altogether suit the tragic picture. The approach of the years that can be numbered is rather thought of as the approach of their end; and the few years are not those which still remain, but in general the but short span of life allotted to him (Hahn). The arrangement of the words in Job 16:22 also agrees with this, as not having the form of a conclusion (then shall I go, etc.), but that of an independent co-ordinate clause: and a path, there (whence) I come not back (an attributive relative clause according to Ges. §123, 3, b) I shall go ( אהלך poetic, and in order to gain a rhythmical fall at the close, for אלך ). Now follow, in the next strophe, short ejaculatory clauses: as Oetinger observes, Job chants his own requiem while living.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Job 16". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14