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Job Curses the day of His Birth.
Up till now Job had suppressed all thoughts of rebellion against God, every notion of dissatisfaction and impatience with the ways of Jehovah. But now he gives evidence of weakness.
v. 1. After this opened Job his mouth, in the formal manner, with deliberation and gravity, after the custom of the ancient sages, and cursed his day, namely, the day of his birth.
v. 2. And Job spake and said, in a wild and bold outburst, which showed that he was impatient with the afflictions laid upon him by God, Cf Jeremiah 20:14,
v. 3. Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man-child conceived, rather, "the night which said," for that night is personified as the witness and messenger of evil.
v. 4. Let that day be darkness, be covered with the everlasting shadows of death; let not God regard it from above, in any way inquire after it, as though interested in such an execrable time, neither let the light shine upon it, it should be shut out forever from the light of God's presence.
v. 5. Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it, the thickest darkness, the deepest death-gloom reclaiming and covering it as an unclean thing; let a cloud dwell upon it, encamping over it, obscuring and hiding it forever; let the blackness of the day terrify it, the thought being that, just as a day seems all the gloomier and more dismal after it has once been lit up by a flash of light, so the dismal bitterness of darkness should settle upon the day of his birth as a form of retribution for permitting his being born.
v. 6. As for that night, let darkness seize upon it, everlasting darkness holding it in its possession; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, rather, "let it not be glad of its existence among the days of the year," as one of a joyful troop of nights which march by in glittering procession; let it not come into the number of the months, it should be omitted and forgotten, as utterly detestable.
v. 7. Lo, let that night be solitary, or, more forceful, "See, that night!" Let it be barren, and therefore utterly desolate, without a cheering voice; let no joyful voice come therein, not a single jubilant shout as over the happy birth of a welcome child.
v. 8. Let them curse it that curse the day, the sorcerers of old, whose ban was thought to bewitch a day so as to make it a day of misfortune, who are ready to raise up their mourning, literally, "those who are skilful in rousing up leviathan," the great dragon of whom the ancients believed that he devoured the sun and the moon at the time of eclipses, whom the heathen sorcerers tried to drive away with their incantations. All the men who had influence over the powers of evil should join in cursing the night of Job's conception.
v. 9. Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark, refusing to be the heralds of the dawn and thereby continuing the darkness; let it look for light, but have none, condemned to the everlasting curse of darkness; neither let it see the dawning of the day, literally, "the eyelashes of the dawn," by which it might be refreshed and filled with pleasure;
v. 10. because it shut not up the doors of my mother's womb, thus hindering his being conceived and born, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes, for if he had never been born, he would not now have been afflicted with this suffering. It was an impatient outburst which, although not directed at God outright, yet had the effect of a challenge of His providence and government of the world, and therefore was just as objectionable as similar outbursts on the part of believers today.
Job Longs for Death
v. 11. Why died I not from the womb, immediately after birth? Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?
v. 12. Why did the knees prevent me? "Prevent" is here used in the old sense of anticipate, be ready for, said of the father, who took the new-born child on his lap, joyfully acknowledging his son. Or why the breasts that I should suck? Said of the readiness, of the anxious longing, of the mother to nurse her child, to give him the food needed in order to sustain life.
v. 13. For now should I have lain still and been quiet, not bothered with any of the misery which he was now suffering; I should have slept, in the untroubled sleep of the grave; then had I been at rest,
v. 14. with kings and counselors of the earth, the highest officers of the state, the royal advisers and ministers, which built desolate places for themselves, who erected for themselves what proved to be, not palaces, but ruins; ("The paths of glory lead but to the grave";)
v. 15. or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver, those who heaped up countless treasures for themselves;
v. 16. or as an hidden, untimely birth I had not been, he would not exist at all, as infants which never saw light. All of them, the builders of great palaces, the rich millionaires, together with the still-born babes, they all enter into the rest of the grave, whether this be decorated with a structure upon whose ruins men gaze with wondering surprise, or whether it be a hole in the ground whose very location is afterward forgotten.
v. 17. There the wicked cease from troubling, no longer being engaged in raging; and there the weary, those who suffered misery and trouble in this life, be at rest, removed from everything that wearied out their strength.
v. 18. There the prisoners rest together, as many as there may be; they hear not the voice of the oppressor, no taskmaster, or overseer, threatens them any longer.
v. 19. The small and great are there, for death makes all men equal; and the servant is free from his master. The very thought of the rest and quiet of the grave, with its surcease from sorrow and misery, is fascinating to Job; he lingers over the thought before continuing his complaint in which he desires death for himself.
v. 20. Wherefore is light, namely, the light of life, given to him that is in misery and life unto the bitter in soul, why should God continue them in this miserable life,
v. 21. which long for death, but it cometh not, and dig for it, with frantic desire, more than for hid treasures,
v. 22. which rejoice exceedingly, in an excess of jubilation, and are glad when they can find the grave? It is a cry of extreme anguish which longs for deliverance by death and is unable to explain why this coveted deliverance is denied.
v. 23. Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, the light of life continued to a man as helpless and forsaken as Job, and whom God hath hedged in, so that he is unable to find deliverance?
v. 24. For my sighing cometh before I eat, instead of eating and enjoying his food he is constrained to groan in his misery, and my roarings are poured out like the waters, in a steady, unremittent flow, without relief.
v. 25. For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, if he but thought of a terrible thing, he was immediately struck by it, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me, if he dreaded a thing, he was immediately overtaken by it, he was obliged to endure all that he had ever considered frightful.
v. 26. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quite, he was so troubled then that he had neither respite nor repose; yet trouble came, it was coming upon him in an endless stream. Thus even believers are sometimes overwhelmed by impatience, giving way to expressions which are full of accusations against God. A Christian should always be prepared to die, but he should not impatiently desire death at any time. He is ill prepared for death who is unwilling to live.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Job 3". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
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