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B.—Job’s Reply: Instead of Comfort, the Friends bring him only increased Sorrow
Job 6:1 to Job 7:21
1. Justification of his complaint by pointing out the greatness and incomprehensibleness of his suffering
1 But Job answered and said:
2 Oh that my grief were thoroughly weighed,
and my calamity laid in the balance together!
3 For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea;
therefore my words are swallowed up.
4 For the arrows of the Almighty are within me,
the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit;
the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.
5 Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass?
or loweth the ox over his fodder?
6 Can that which is unsavory be eaten without salt?
or is there any taste in the white of an egg?
7 The things that my soul refuseth to touch
are as my sorrowful meat.
8 Oh that I might have my request,
and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!
9 Even that it would please God to destroy me;
that He would let loose His hand, and cut me off!
10 Then should I yet have comfort:
yea, I would harden myself in sorrow; let Him not spare;
for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.
2. Complaint over the bitter disappointment which he had experienced at the hands of his friends
11 What is my strength that I should hope?
and what is mine end that I should prolong my life?
12 Is my strength the strength of stones?
or is my flesh of brass?
13 Is not my help in me?
and is wisdom driven quite from me?
14 To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend;
but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.
15 My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook,
and as the stream of brooks they pass away;
16 which are blackish by reason of the ice,
and wherein the snow is hid.
17 What time they wax warm, they vanish;
when it is hot, they are consumed out of their place.
18 The paths of their way are turned aside;
they go to nothing, and perish.
19 The troops of Tema looked,
the companies of Sheba waited for them.
20 They were confounded because they had hoped;
they came thither and were ashamed.
21 For now ye are nothing;
ye see my casting down, and are afraid!
22 Did I say, Bring unto me?
or, Give a reward for me of your substance?
23 Or, Deliver me from the enemy’s hand?
or, Redeem me from the hand of the mighty?
24 Teach me, and I will hold my tongue;
and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.
25 How forcible are right words!
but what doth your arguing reprove?
26 Do ye imagine to reprove words,
and the speeches of one that is desperate, which are as wind?
27 Yea, ye overwhelm the fatherless,
and ye dig a pit for your friend.
28 Now therefore be content, look upon me;
for it is evident unto you if I lie.
29 Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity;
yea, return again, my righteousness is in it.
30 Is there iniquity in my tongue?
cannot my taste discern perverse things?
3. Recurrence to his former complaint on account of his lot, and accusation of God
1 Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth?
are not his days also like the days of an hireling?
2 As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow,
and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work;
3 So am I made to possess months of vanity,
and wearisome nights are appointed to me.
4 When I lie down, I say,
When shall I arise and the night be gone?
and I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day.
5 My flesh is clothed with worms, and clods of dust;
my skin is broken, and become loathsome.
6 My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
and are spent without hope.
7 O remember that my life is wind!
mine eye shall no more see good.
8 The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more;
Thine eyes are upon me, and I am not.
9 As the cloud is consumed, and vanisheth away,
so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.
10 He shall return no more to his house,
neither shall his place know him any more.
11 Therefore I will not refrain my mouth;
I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
12 Am I a sea, or a whale,
that Thou settest a watch over me?
13 When I say, My bed shall comfort me,
my couch shall ease my complaint;
14 then Thou scarest me with dreams,
and terrifiest me through visions;
15 So that my soul chooseth strangling,
and death rather than my life.
16 I loathe it, I would not live alway;
let me alone; for my days are vanity.
17 What is man, that Thou shouldest magnify him?
and that Thou shouldest set Thine heart upon him?
18 And that Thou shouldest visit him every morning?
and try him every moment?
19 How long wilt Thou not depart from me,
nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?
20 I have sinned; what shall I do unto Thee, O Thou preserver of men?
why hast Thou set me as a mark against Thee,
so that I am a burden to myself?
21 And why dost Thou not pardon my transgression,
and take away mine iniquity?
for now shall I sleep in the dust;
and Thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. This discourse of Job, the first formal reply which proceeded from him, attaches itself immediately to that which was one-sided, erroneous, and unjust in the discourse of Eliphaz (comp. above, page 327. It rebukes these defects, and justifies the complaints which Job had previously uttered in regard to his miserable condition, in part repeating with increased emphasis the reproaches which in his despair he had brought against God. The tone of his discourse however is so far changed that instead of the wild and doubting agony of his former utterance he exhibits rather a spirit which may be characterized as mild, plaintive, and in some measure composed.
The discourse falls into three divisions: (1) A justification of the previous lamentation, as entirely corresponding to the fearful greatness of Job’s suffering, Job 6:2-10. (2) A sharp criticism of the friends’ conduct as unreasonably hard, as demonstrating indeed the deceptiveness of their friendship, Job 6:11-30. (3) Renewed lamentation over his inconsolable and helpless condition, together with an arraignment of God, Job 7:1-21. These three principal divisions have the same relative proportions, both as to the length and sub-divisions of each, as the three divisions of the discourse of Eliphaz; the first consisting of one, the two following consisting each of two long strophes. It is only in the last two, however, of these five long strophes (to wit, Job 7:1-21) that we find double-strophes composed of the longer strophes extending over 5–7 verses. The first three double-strophes on the contrary are composed of shorter strophes, including now three, and now four masoretic verses.
2. First Division (and Long Strophe). Justification of his former lamentation by a reference to the greatness and incomprehensibility of his suffering, Job 6:2-10.
First Strophe. Job 6:2-4. [His grief was not excessive when compared with his suffering].
Job 6:2. Oh that my grief might be but weighed, and my calamity be laid up over against it in the balances—[The use of the Inf. Absol. שָׁקוֹל with the Fut. יִשָּׁקֵל (used optatively after לוּ) shows the emphasis which Job’s mind laid on the complete exact balancing of his vexation against his suffering.—E.] כַּעַשׂ, grief, discontent, despondency, is that with which Eliphaz had reproached him [see Job 5:2. “Vexation, impatience, either the inner irritation, or outward exhibition of it, or both.” Dav.] הַיָּתִי (for which the K’ri has הַוָּתִי, as also in Job 30:13לְהַוָּתִי for הַיָּתִי) “my calamity, my ruin;” comp. the plur. הַוּוֹת used elsewhere in the same sense, Job 6:30; Psalms 57:2 ; Psalms 91:3; Psalms 94:20; Proverbs 19:13. The two expressions are not synonymous (Kamph.), but are related to each other as subjective and objective, or as an effect produced in Job’s emotional experience, and the cause of the same. Accordingly יִשְׂאוּ יַחַד can not signify: “that it might be laid up (weighed) all at once, altogether,” i.e., my entire woe, in which case indeed we should also expect the plur. &הַיּוֹתָי הַוּוֹתָי). But נשא יחד denotes a simultaneous weighing of the despondency and the calamity, a balancing of either over against the other (comp. Job 17:16; Psalms 141:10; Isaiah 45:8). The whole is a wish or a yearning prayer to God, to show clearly to his friends that his violent grief was most assuredly proportioned to the severity of his sufferings. [Conant objects to the view here given: “that it is not an appropriate answer to Eliphaz, whose admonitions were not based on the disproportion of the sufferer’s grief to its cause.” To which Davidson replies: “Job is not here replying to Eliphaz’s whole charge, but only to the beginning of it (as was fit in the beginning of his reply), the charge of unmanliness, to which the words are an appropriate answer”].
Job 6:3. For now is it heavier than the sand of the seas, i.e., heavy beyond measure. For the use of the expression “sand of the sea,” as a figure to set forth a weight or burden of extreme heaviness (as elsewhere it is used to set forth an innumerable multitude), comp. Proverbs 27:3; Sir 22:15.—יַמִּים, “seas,” poetic plural, used like the sing. יָם in Genesis 49:13.—כִּי עַתָּה is rendered by Delitzsch, “for then” (as in Job 3:13), and the whole sentence he takes to be an inference from Job 6:2 : “then would it be found heavier than the sand, etc.” But this “it would be found” is simply interpolated into the text. Most modern expositors rightly render it: “For now, as the case now stands, especially in consequence of your unfriendly conduct,” etc.—Therefore do my words rave.—לָֽעוּ, with the tone on the penult, cannot be derived from לעה [Ges.], but either from לעע, or לוּעַ, but not in the sense of sucking down, or swallowing, but in the sense, for which we have the warrant of the Arabic, of stammering, raving, [Fürst]. Job therefore admits that he has heretofore “spoken foolishly” (comp. 2 Corinthians 11:17; 2 Corinthians 11:21; 2 Corinthians 11:23), but he justifies himself by appealing to his insupportable sorrow. [The translation of the Eng. Ver. “my words are swallowed up,” implying that he had been unable to speak from grief, is less significant, and less suitable to the connection than the confession that he had spoken madly: neither is it consistent with the usage of the verb elsewhere in an active sense; Obadiah 1:16.—E.]
Job 6:4. For the arrows of the Almighty are in me, whose poison my spirit drinks up.—More specifically giving the reason for 3a. By “the arrows of the Almighty” are meant the sickness, pains, and plagues which God inflicts on men: [“the emphasis lies on Almighty, the arrows of the Almighty; there was enough in that fact, in the awful nature of his adversary, to account and more than apologize for all his madness.” Dav.] comp. Psalms 38:3 ; Deuteronomy 32:23; Ezekiel 5:16; also below in our book, Job 16:12 seq.—עִמָּדִיi.e., lit. “with me,” not “in my body” (ἐυ τῷ σώματί μου, LXX. Pesh.). The form of expression is chosen to represent the arrows of God as something which has hurt and wounded not only his body, but also his soul, and which accordingly is ever “with him,” continually present to him (comp. Job 9:35; Job 10:13).—אֲשֶׁר חֲמָתָם, not the subj. of the relative clause (LXX., Pesh., Vulg., Rosenm. [E. V., Noy., Lee, Con., Carey], but its object, the subj. of which is rather רוּחִי “my spirit.” חֵמָה’ “heat,” here equivalent to “poison;” comp. Job 21:20; Psalms 7:14 [Psalms 7:13]; Psalms 58:5; Deuteronomy 32:24; Deuteronomy 32:33. [“Some prefer: the poison of which drinketh up my spirit, a meaning that would account for Job’s prostration, the poison of God’s arrows was like a burning heat that dried up and drank in his spirit. It was rather, however, his violence and vehement recrimination against God which he has to excuse; impetuosity, not impotence, has to be accounted for. It is thus better to make spirit nom., the spirit drinks in the Divine virus, which works potently, as Divine poison will, excites, inflames, maddens the spirit.” Dav.].—The terrors of Eloah storm me. יַעַרְכוּנִי, an elliptical expression for יערכו מלחמה עלי, they set themselves in battle array against me, they assail me like an army: comp. Judges 20:30; Jdg 20:33; 1 Samuel 4:2. Böttcher singularly attempts to render it (Neue Exeget. Æhrenlese, No. 1397): “the terrors of God cause me to arm myself—compel me to put myself in the right.” Against this it may be urged that the “terrors of God” signify not Job’s sufferings and distresses in themselves, and objectively considered, but his subjective experiences of the same, his consciousness of the fact that his suffering proceeds from the attacks and persecutions which God in His wrath directs against his life and his happiness in life (comp. Job 23:16 seq.). [They are “the conscious voluntary terrors which He actively originates, which He gathers from the ends of His dominion and the outlying posts of His power, and marshals like a sable infinite host against Job.” Dav.].
Second Strophe: Job 6:5-7. [The demand that he should submit without a murmur unnatural].
Job 6:5. Does the wild ass bray by the fresh grass, or doth an ox low at his fodder?i.e., I would certainly not lament without sufficient cause; far less would I be disposed to complain than an irrational beast, which is contentedly provided with fodder. The form of the comparison vividly reminds us of Amos 3:4-6.—For נהק, to moan, to groan, to utter doleful cries, comp. Job 30:7. Concerning the wild ass see the fuller description in Job 39:5-8.—בְּלִיל, maslin, farrago, a compound of various kinds of grain.
Job 6:6. Is that which is tasteless eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the white of an egg?i.e., can it be expected of me that I should freely and joyously relish the unsavory food of suffering, and especially of that loathsome disease, which has seized upon me? That Job uses tasteless, loathsome food as a figure for the sufferings which afflict him, appears both from Job 6:2-4, and from Job 6:8-10, where the burden of these self-same sufferings prompts him to desire death. The interpretation which refers the figure to the discourses of the friends (LXX. and other ancient expositors, also Rüetschi, Stud, und Krit., 1867) is at variance with the connection. It suits indeed the expression in the first member of the verse (תָּפֵל tasteless; comp. rem. on Job 1:22), but not the expression “slime of the yolk of an egg,” which is altogether too strong for unsuitable and harsh discourses, and which is most naturally referred to the nauseous filth, dust, and ulcerous matter of the leprosy (comp. Job 7:5). [Observe that the point of the illustration lies in the tendency of an agreeable quality, or the opposite, to produce content or discontent. Now as that which occasioned Job’s discontent was his suffering, it is doubtless this suffering which in this verse he describes negatively as tasteless, and therefore to be complained of in the next verse as positively loathsome, and therefore to be refused.—Moreover, it is not until later (Job 6:25 sq.) that Job comes to speak of the nature of his friends’ remarks. He is here justifying his complaint which had been uttered before his friends had spoken at all, and which had been prompted by their silence, of which silence, as indicating a failure of sympathy, he again complains (Job 6:15-21).—E.].—רִיר חַלָּמוּת, “the slime of the yolk,” i.e., the liquid saliva which encloses the solid part, the yellow yolk of an egg, hence the white of an egg, which was esteemed by the Hebrews to be particularly nauseating, or at least as altogether insipid. So, following the Targ. and some of the Rabbis, Rosenm., Umbreit, Ewald, Stickel, Del., Dillmann, [E. V., Hengst., Dav., Fürst, Schlottmann, Good], etc., and in general most modern writers, while the Pesh., Arab., Gesen., Heiligst., Böttcher, [Renan, Merx], translate רִיר ח׳ “portulacca-broth, purslainslime,” a rendering, however, which assigns to רִיר the sense, elsewhere unknown, of slime, broth, or soup.
Job 6:7. My soul refuses to touch, such things are to me as putrid food.—Rosenm., Welte, Delitzsch, (as before them the Vulg., Luther) [so also E. V., Noy., Ren., Elz.], take the first member as an antecedent relative clause without אֲשֶׁר, “that which my soul refuses to touch, etc.” But such an antecedent position for the relative clause when אֲשֶׁר is wanting, is a rare construction, and in order to obtain for the consequent clause a tolerable sense we should be obliged to amend כִדְוִיִ to כְּדֵי (as Rosenm. and Welte do in opposition to all the MSS. and Vsns.). Such a construction, moreover, destroys the progression of thought from a to b. The object of לנגוע is supplied of itself in that which from Job 6:2 on stands forth as the prominent conception, to wit, the suffering or calamity of Job, to which also the הֵמָּה, which stands at the head of the second member, points back, “they,” i.e., things of that sort, such things.—כִדְוֵי לַחְמִי, lit “as the disease of my bread;” i.e., as though my food were diseased, putrid, loathsome: דְּוֵי constr. state of דְּוַי, “sickness, disease,” comp Psalms 41:4  (so rightly Gesenius, [Fürst], Ewald, Olsh., Hahn, Schlottmann, Dillmann, etc.). Others (Cocceius, Schultens, Heiligstedt, Delitzsch) take דוי as constr. st. plur. of דָּוֶה, “sick, unclean” (comp. Isaiah 30:22), according to which derivation, however, we should expect to read דְּווֹת. Umbreit and Hirzel (2d Ed.) explain “the disease of my bread” as meaning, “the disease which is my daily bread” [so also Wordsworth and Renan]; Böttcher would read כִּדְוַי: “they are according to the disease of my food;” Hitzig, after the Arabic, explains: “the crumbs of my food”—purely arbitrary evasions, and less natural than the construction followed by us.
Third Strophe: Job 6:8-10. [He longs for death, and even in death would rejoice in his integrity.]
Job 6:8. Oh that my request might be fulfilled [lit. might come], and that Eloah would grant my longing! This prayer and longing are for death, as that which would bring release from his misery, which is all that he desires: see the verse which follows. מִי יִתֵּן he well-known optative formula, governing also the verbs of the following verse. [“It occurs quite frequently in the Book of Job, almost altogether, however, in. Job’s discourses, in the friends’ discourses only in Job 11:5, not once in those of Elihu and God. This indicates purpose in the linguistic structure of the argument. Job’s destiny gives him much to wish for.” Hengst.] Hupfeld’s emendation, וְתַאֲוָתִי for וְתִקְוָתִי, is uncalled for.
Job 6:9. That it might please Eloah to destroy me, that He would let down His hand to cut me off: lit. “that He would let loose His hand, and cut me off;” for הִתִּיר, Hiph. of נתר, “to spring,” signifies “to cause to spring, to unbind, set loose” (comp. Isaiah 58:6; Psalms 105:20; Psalms 146:7); the hand of God is thus conceived of as having been hitherto bound—bound, that is, by His own will.—וִיבַצְּעֵנִי, “and cut me off,” (not: “and crush me,” Luther, comp. the LXX.: ἀνελέτω με). Job’s soul, his Ego or his life, is, after the analogy of Job 4:21, regarded as an internal cord, a string, or thread, the cutting off of which is synonymous with death: comp. also Job 27:8; Ps. 76:13, also the well-known Greek representation of the Parcæ.
Job 6:10. So would it ever be my comfort.… Delitzsch rightly: “With וּתְהִי begins the conclusion, exactly as in Job 13:5.” Most expositors extend the influence of the מִי יתֵּן, Job 6:8, over this sentence, and construe the verbs here also as optatives: “and that so my comfort may still be to me,” etc. The comfort, according to this latter construction, would be Job’s speedy death. But how a speedy death could in and of itself bring any comfort is not made to appear in this connection. It is more natural with Hupf., Schlottmann, Delitzsch [Bernard, Conant, Rodwell, Hengst., Renan], especially on comparing this with the analogous passage in Psalms 119:50, to find the statement of that which would bring comfort in the words of the last member: “that I have not denied the words of the Holy One,” thus treating the second member, וַאֲסַלְּדָה וגו׳, as a parenthesis.—I would leap in unsparing pain. For the use of the cohortative (וַאֲסַלְדָה) in a subjunctive sense in a parenthesis, comp. e.g.Psalms 40:6; Psalms 51:18.—סלד is to be explained after the Arab. zalada (“to stamp the ground, tripudiare”) [to beat hard; hence the E. V.: “I would harden myself in sorrow,” and so Lee, who explains: “Because there still is, or remains consolation,… I will not give way, whatever may be laid on me: or even though He cut me entirely off”], as also after the ἡλλόμην of the LXX. and the לֶאֱבוּעַ (“I will exult”) of the Targum. It is accordingly to be taken in the sense of a jubilant expression of joy, not in the sense of “being tormented” (Rosenm, after some of the Rabbis [who explain the verb to mean “burning;” and so Bernard]), nor: “to spring up through pain” (Schlottmann, who accordingly takes the parenthesis in a concessive sense: “although I leap up for pain”).—לֹאיַחְמוֹל (comp. Isaiah 30:14 seq.), a relative clause, with the omission of the adverbial אֲשֶׁר: “wherewith he spares me not,” namely, God, who is to be understood as the subject here (Rosenm., Ewald [who makes the omitted relative the direct object of the verb—“pain which he spares not;” a construction, however, which does not harmonize so well with the usage of חמל, which generally has a personal object. E.], Hirzel, Heiligstedt, Hahn, Schlottmann, Dillmann) [Renan, Hengst.]. Possibly חִילָה might be taken as the subject (so Umbreit, Vaih., Stickel) [Gesen., Rodwell, Conant]: “in pain which spares not,” against which, however, it may be urged that, while חִילָה is most simply treated as fem., the verbal form used, יחמל, is masc. In any case, the translation; “in unsparing pain,” corresponds to the sense of the poet.—That I have not denied the words of the Holy One. This fact—that he had been guilty of no denial (comp. Job 1:22; Job 2:10)—constitutes the firm confidence which Job possessed in the midst of all his distress and misery, and which he felt assured would show itself, even in death. The meaning is not essentially different which results from the other and more common construction of our verse, according to which the second member is not treated as a parenthesis, and כִּי is regarded as introducing a reason for that which precedes: “for I have not denied,” etc.
3. Second Division: A lament over the bitter disappointment which he had experienced from his friends: Job 6:11-30.
First Long Strophe: Job 6:11-20 (consisting of three short strophes, of 3, 4, and three verses respectively). [“In view of his broken strength and hopeless condition, he must reject their advice to trust in the future, and openly declare to them that he is completely disappointed in his expectations as to their friendship.” Dillmann.]
a. Job 6:11-13. [His helplessness, and consequent hopelessness. Ewald and Hengstenberg put this strophe in the First Division, to which, however, as Schlottmann has shown, there are two objections. First, it mars the completeness which the preceding long strophe possesses, when regarded as closing the triumphant declaration by Job of his integrity and confidence in God contained in Job 6:10.—Secondly, the picture which this short strophe gives of his helplessness and hopelessness is preparatory to the picture which immediately follows of the deceptiveness of his friends, and in that position adds greatly to the pathos and effectiveness of his complaint. E.]
Job 6:11. What is my strength that I should persevere [wait], and what mine end that I should be patient? The answer to this question which Job’s meaning would require is of course a pure negative: my strength is completely gone, and death is the only end which I look for, in all its nearness, nay more, with impatience. [“Two things are necessary that one may bear misfortune patiently; first, that the strength of the sufferer is in some proportion to the power of the suffering; and, secondly, that he sees before him an end, which, when reached, will reward the present struggle. Job denies both these things of himself, the first in Job 6:12, the second in Job 6:13.” Schlottmann.] For הֶאֶרִיךְ נֶפֶשׁ, “to prolong the soul, to lengthen it,” i.e. to be patient, comp. Proverbs 19:11; Isaiah 48:9. [The rendering of E. V., “prolong my life,” would rather require אַאֲרִיךְ ימַי].
Job 6:12. Or is the strength of stones my strength, or is my flesh of brass?—[The first “or” tends rather to mar the connection. E.] A poetic illustrative expansion of the thought in Job 6:11 a. [According to Hengstenberg, “stones” and “brass” are mentioned here because of their invulnerability. Rather, according to the connection, because of their power of endurance. Schlottmann says: “נחוש is properly always ‘copper,’ which the ancients, however, as is known, had learned to harden, so that in firmness it resembled iron.” E.]
Job 6:13. Verily, is not my help in me brought to nought? lit.: “Is not the nothingness of my help with me?” הֲאִם, which occurs elsewhere only in Num. 17:28 [Numbers 17:13], is neither a strengthened interrogative אִם (Schlottmann), nor an inversion for אִם הֲ (Delitzsch), nor a collocation of the interrogative particle הֲ with the conditional particle אִם (whether, if my help is destroyed, etc., Köster), but simply equivalent to הֲלֹא, in the sense of vivid interrogation or asseveration: “verily not” (Ewald, Dillmann). And well-being driven away from me?תּוּשִׁיּה essentially the same as in Job 5:12, well-being, enduring prosperity. The sense of the verse as a whole is: My condition is hopeless, and all promises for the future are therefore useless and null. [It is doubtless best to give to תושיה here the sense which, as Zöckler has elsewhere shown, belongs to it in the Chokma-Literature. Other interpretations are partial, and so far enfeebling: e.g. “wisdom,” E. V., or “insight” (Hengst.), “deliverance” (Noyes), “solace” (Rosenm.), “restoration” (Conant). What Job says is that every element of real and substantial good had been driven away from him. Davidson is more nearly right when he says, that not only was recovery driven away from him, “but that the possibility of it, anything which could spring, and be matured into health again, all inner strength and resource—the very base of recovery—was driven away or out of him.” The word, however, is broader even than this, including all external as well as internal resources, a man’s entire establishment of good.—E.]
b. Job 6:14-17 : [He has been disappointed in the friendly sympathy which is accorded to every one in misery, but which, in his case, has proved as deceptive as a summer brook.]
Job 6:14. To the despairing gentleness (is due) from his friends (or, is shown by his friends), and [or, even] should he have forsaken the fear of the Almighty.—[“The prep. in לַמָּם does not express so much what is due … as what is actually given in affliction. Job’s friends failed, not in giving what was due, the world and even friendship often does, but in giving what was actually and always given.” Dav.] מָם from מסם, liquefieri, denotes literally one “who is inwardly melted, disheartened” (Delitzsch)—a term strikingly descriptive of Job’s condition as one of complete depression, helpless prostration to the very ground.—חֶסֶד, “gentleness, friendliness, kindness” (comp. the πνεῦμα πραύ̈τητος of Galatians 6:1), not “reproach,” as Seb. Schmidt, Hitzig, and others would explain it, after Proverbs 14:34; for in Job 10:12 our poet again uses חֶסֶד in its ordinary sense, and the translation: “If reproach from his friends falls on one who is despairing, he will then give up the fear of God,” gives a thought which is foreign to the context, and withal incorrect in itself. Equally untenable on grammatical grounds is the translation of Luther [and Wemyss; also of Merx, who however alters the text from לַמָּם to מֹנֵעַ]: “He who withholds mercy from his neighbor, he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”—This rendering, however, although resting on the authority of the Targ., Vulg., and Pesh., is to be rejected on account of the singularly harsh construction of the לְ as a designation of the absol. case, as well as on account of its giving to the Partic. מם the unheard-of signification: “he who withholds, or refuses.” The second member cannot be regarded as the conclusion of the first,—not even by taking וְ in the sense of alioqui, and so translating with Schnurrer, Delitzsch [Noy., Words., Rod., Hengst.], “otherwise he might forsake the fear of the Almighty” (alioqui hic reverentiam Dei exuit). Rather, if no corruption of the text be assumed, it will be found most simple and natural to regard the first member as an ardently expressed formula of desire, with an omitted jussive from the verb היה, or to supply “is due to, belongs to,” [or “is given to”], and to find in the second member simply the continuation of the principal notion מָם, introduced by a concessive וְ: “and even if he should have forsaken” [Schlott., Dill., Ren., Lee, Dav.] (comp. Ges., § 134 [Con.-Roed., § 131] Rem. 2; Ewald, § 350, b).—Ewald, without necessity, would supply between a and b lines which, he assumes, had fallen out.1—The whole verse is evidently an expression of resentment at the fact that Eliphaz had exhibited no trace of gentle forbearance or sympathy for Job; he claims this sympathy for himself, even in case he had in his suffering departed from the fear of God, which case, however, he presents only as possible, not as actual. [Conant translates: “ready to forsake the fear of the Almighty;” Davidson: “to one losing hold of the fear of the Almighty.” “Job,” says the latter, “would not admit that he had forsaken, rather that he was forsaking, in danger of forsaking the fear of the Almighty.” And again: “in his terrible collision in darkness and doubt with the unspeaking nameless (Genesis 32:25) Being he was alone—absolutely—for the Father was against him, and when one is losing hold (יַעֲזוֹב) of God, he sorely enough needs a human hand to grasp, and the sufferer’s pathos is overwhelming, when he sees God and man alike estranged.”—The continuation of the participial construction by the Imperfect, with omitted relative (see Ewald, § 338, b), fully justifies this construction, which is at once most simple and expressive. “To one whose inner man is dissolving, whose faith and life are giving way, and who in that fearful dissolution is in danger of losing hold on God, to him surely sympathy from friends is meet.”—E.]
Job 6:15-17. The conduct of Job’s three friends in disappointing his hopes, illustrated by the comparison of a torrent, which in spring rushes along full and strong, but in summer is entirely dried up, an אַכְזָב, or “lying stream,” as the same is described in Jeremiah 15:18 (comp. the paronomasia in Micah 1:14, בָּתֵּי אַכְזִיב לְאַכְזִב, “the houses of Achzih are become a lying stream to the kings of Israel”).
Job 6:15. My brethren have been false as a torrent, i.e., my friends, whom I have loved as brothers [אַחַיּ, placed first with special emphasis],—he mentions them all, because Eliphaz had spoken in the name of all (Job 5:27)—have borne themselves treacherously towards me, have ministered to me an empty semblance of comfort, like the dried-up water of a wadi.—As the bed of torrents which overflow.יַעֲבֹרוּ not, “which vanish away” (Hirzel, Delitzsch [Hengst., E. V., Con., Dav., Noy., Carey, Ren.]), for while “passing away,” or “vanishing,” may indeed be predicated of the water of a brook, it cannot be used of the brook itself. Moreover, the continuation of the description given in the following verse, assumes the torrents to be full, not as yet in course of disappearing [and so Ewald, Dillmann, Schlott. Wemyss].
Job 6:16. Turbid are they from ice:קֹדְרִים black, foul, dark; here in the literal or physical sense, different from Job 5:11.—The snow hides itself in them; or: “down upon which (עַלֵימוֹ) the snow hides itself;” a constr. prægnans, comp. Gesen., § 141[§ 138].
Job 6:17. At the time when heat comes to them they are cut off [lit., made silent].—בְּעֵת יְזֹרְבוֹ at the time when, or so soon as they are warmed. [עֵת in the constr. state, at the beginning of a temporal clause, with omission of the relative: see Ewald, § 286, i; 332 d]. זרַֹב, Pual of זרב, a poetic variant of צרב (Ezekiel 21:3; Proverbs 16:27), “to burn, to parch, to glow;” [and so E. V., Ew., Schlott., Del., Dillm., Dav., Carey, Hengst.—According to Ges., Fürst. Con., the meaning is: “at the time they are poured off,” or “flow off;” i.e., when the heat begins to melt the snow on the mountains. But as the first result of that is filling up the channels, the sense would be somewhat strained.—E.]. When it is hot, they are dried up [lit., extinguished] from their place:בְּחֻמּוֹ, in its becoming hot; i.e., when it is hot. The suffix is to be taken as neuter, not (with Hirzel) to be referred to an עֵת that is understood; (“when it, the time of the year, becomes hot”); comp. Ewald. § 295, a.
c. Job 6:18-20. A further description of the disappointment he had met with from his friends by a continuation of the simile of the treacherous torrents.
Job 6:18. The paths of their course wind about, they go up into the waste and vanish.—If, with the Masor. text, we read אָרְחוֹת, the rendering here given is the only one that is admissible; the “ways” or “paths of their course” are in that case the beds of the torrents, which go winding about, and thus favor the rapid extinction of the torrent; their “going up into the waste” (עָלָה בַתֹּהוּ) is their gradual evaporation into the air, their ascent in vapors and clouds; comp. Isaiah 40:23; so correctly Mercerus: in auras abeunt, in nihilum rediguntur; so also Arnh., Delitzsch [Good, Barnes, Bernard, Words., Elzas]. Most modern expositors, however, correct the text here, and in the following verse to אֹרחוֹת, plur. of אֹרְחַה (or also אֳרָחוֹת, plur. of אֹרַח, way, caravan), and translate either: “the caravans of their way turn aside” [a rendering, however, which is founded on the Masoretic text, regarding אָרְחוֹת as constr., and the meaning being “the caravans along their way;” so Conant, Davidson, Hengstenberg,—E.], or: “caravans turn aside their course, they go up into the wastes, and perish,” [so Ewald, Schlottmann, Dillmann, Wemyss, Noyes, Carey, Rodwell, Renan, Merx]. The phrase עָלָה בַתֹּהוּ seems indeed to harmonize well with this explanation. But in that case Job 6:18 would anticipate Job 6:19-20 in an unprecedented manner; after the statement of this verse, which by the expression וְיאֹבֵדוּ has already carried us forward to the complete destruction of the deceived caravans, what is said in those verses would drag along as a flat tautology. According to our interpretation Job 6:18 completes the description of the treacherous torrents begun in Job 6:15, while the two verses following dwell, with that epic repose and breadth which characterize the whole description, on the impression which such dried up torrents make on the thirsty caravans of the desert. [These reasons are certainly not wanting in force, still they are not conclusive. For (1) It is agreed by all that in the next verse אָרְחוֹת means caravans, and it is in the highest degree improbable that in two verses, so closely connected, describing the same general idea, and belonging to the same figure, the same word should be used in two different senses. (2). The language used, while most graphically appropriate according to one interpretation, can be adapted to the other only by strained constructions. This is especially true of the secönd member. “Going up into the waste,” and “perishing,” are surely farfetched expressions for the evaporation and disappearance of water. On the other hand they are, as Zockler admits, in admirable harmony with the other interpretation. Nothing indeed can be more exquisite in its pathos than the picture which they bring before the mind of a caravan, weary with travel and thirst, and still more weary with disappointment, winding along the channel of the torrent, wistfully exploring its dry bed for water, following its course upward, hoping that in the uplands, nearer the river’s sources, some little pool may be found; hoping thus from day to day, but in vain, and so wasting away into a caravan of skeletons, until at last in the far off wastes it perishes. (3). The objection that this interpretation anticipates what follows, and thus produces a tame and dragging tautology, is answered by observing that the chief motive of the description just given is not to excite pity for the fate of such a caravan, but to justify Job’s resentment at the treachery of which the dry wady is the type. Hence in the verses following Job emphasizes the disappointment which the caravan of Tema and Sheba (named by way of vivid individualization) would feel in such a plight. This is the burden of his accusation of his friends, they had disappointed, deceived him. This was to him, at this time, a more bitter fate than his destruction would have been; so that from his point of view, Job 6:19-20, so far from being an anti-climax, contain the very climax of his sorrow.—The suggestions to change יִלָּֽפְתוּ either to Kal, יִלְפְּתוּ (Fürst), or to Piel, יְלַפְּתוּ (Ewald) are unfortunate. No species could express more happily than the Niphal the helpless, semi-passive condition of an exhausted caravan, such as is here described, winding around, hither and thither, led by the channel in the search for water.—E.]
Job 6:19. The caravans of Tema looked: to wit, caravans of the Ishmaelitish Arabian tribe of תֵּמָא (Genesis 25:15), in northern Arabia (Isaiah 21:14; Jeremiah 25:23), which is mentioned here by way of example; so likewise in the next clause שְׁבָא, as to which see Job 1:15.—[The companies of Sheba hoped for them. לָמו is by most referred to the torrents; by Schlottmann, however, it is regarded as Dat. commodi, and so suggesting the eagerness of their search. E ] The Perfects in this and the following verse give to the whole description the appearance of a concrete historical occurrence.
Job 6:20. They were put to shame by their trust: lit. “because one trusted;” comp. Ewald, § 294, b. The phrase כִּי בָטַח describes by individualization, wherefore it is unnecessary, with Olsh., to amend to the plur. בָּטָחוּ, or with Böttcher to read בָּטָחֻ (a form which nowhere occurs). They came thither (the fem. suffix in עָדֶיהָ in the neuter sense; comp. Job 6:29), and became red with shame; as the result, namely, of their having been disappointed.—Observe the wonderful beauty of this whole illustration, which terminates with this verse. It is no less striking than clear and intelligible. The friendship of the three visitors was once great, like that rushing torrent of melting snow; now, however, in the heat of temptation, it has utterly vanished, so that the sufferer, thirsting for comfort, but meeting instead, first with silence, and afterwards with sharp and heartless censure, finds himself ignominiously deceived, like a company of travellers betrayed by a lying brook.
4. Second Division.—Second Long Strophe (subdivided like the first into shorter strophes of 3, 4, and 3 verses respectively); Job 6:21-30. The complaint concerning the faithlessness of the friends is continued [in simple, non-figurative language], passing over, however, near the close (in strophe c: Job 6:28 seq.) into an appeal for the renewal of their former friendliness.
a. Job 6:21-23. [The illustration applied, and the unfaithfulness of the friends shown from the unselfishness of the demands which Job had made on their friendship].
Job 6:21. Verily, so are ye now become nothing.—כִּי עַתָּה introduces the ground of the preceding comparison of the friends to the treacherous torrents: “for now (for as you now conduct yourselves towards me) you are become a nothing, a nullity,” to wit, for me; I have nothing at all in you, neither comfort nor support. Such is the explanation according to the Masoretic reading: בִּי עַתָּה הֱיִיתֶם לֹא; here לֹא “not” means “nothing,” as in one instance the Chald. לָה לָא): Daniel 4:32. [Comp. לא תחטא, Job 5:24; also the similar use of אַל, Job 24:25]. According to the regular Hebrew usage, we should certainly expect: ה׳ לְאֵין or לְאֶפֶם; still the Targ. justifies our construction (adopted among modern expositors by Umbreit, Vaih., Schlottm., Hahn, Delitzsch [E. V., Fürst, Davidson, Noyes, Wordsworth, Rodwell, Renan], etc.). According to the K’ri לֹו, which in many MSS. is the reading even of the text, instead of לֹא, the explanation would be: “ye are become that” [the same]; i.e. ye are become a deceitful נחל, Job 6:15, which, however, hardly gives a tolerable sense. Still more unsatisfactory is the rendering favored by the LXX., Vulg, Pesh., Luth., etc., according to which the reading should be לִי, instead of לֹו, “Ye are become to me.” J. D. Michaelis, Ewald, Olshausen, Dillmann, also read לִי for &לוֹ לֹא), and in addition amend כִּי to כֵּן at the beginning of the verse: “so are ye become to me.” This conjecture certainly yields a complete satisfactory sense; but the sentence as it stands with לֹא commends itself by its bolder and more comprehensive form of expression.—You see a terror, and are dismayed.—The words תִּרְאוּ and וַתִּירָאוּ form a paronomasia which cannot well be reproduced in a translation: the same paronomasia between רָאָה and יָרֵא occurs also in Job 37:24; Psalms 40:4 [Psalms 40:3]; Psalms 52:8 [Psalms 52:6]; Zechariah 9:5. By חֲתַת [E. V. “casting down,” but rather from חתת to be broken, crushed, metaphorically with fear: hence that which causes terror.—E.] Job means the fearful calamity which has come upon him, in the presence of which his friends stand astonished and dismayed, thinking they had to do with one who was, in some extraordinary sense, an enemy of God.
Job 6:22-23. [“Their cowardice in now renouncing their friendship is all the more striking, forasmuch as he has required of them no sacrifice, or heroic achievement in his behalf, a test before which a false friendship commonly fails, but—for such is his thought—only the comfort of words, and the aid of sympathy.”—Dillmann.]
Job 6:22. Did I ever say then, Give to me, and bring presents to me from your wealth?—[הֲכִי, “is it that?—was your failure because I ever said?” שִׁחֲדוּ, Ewald § 226, d. Green. § 119:4]. The question is in a vein of derision: Did I ever require any special sacrifice of you? [and in Job 6:23] did I ever demand of you anything else, any other effort or achievement, than the exhibition of genuine compassion, of true brotherly sympathy? כֹּהַ here means wealth (opes), as in Proverbs 5:10; Leviticus 26:10. Elsewhere we find חַיִל used in this sense.
Job 6:23. [And deliver me out of the enemy’s hand, and redeem me from the hand of the oppressor (Renan: brigands)?] We are not specially to think here of a deliverance, or a redemption by means of a ransom—not, therefore, of a pecuniary ransom, although this thought is not to be excluded altogether.
b. Job 6:24-27. [A challenge to be convicted of wrong-doing, and a bitter upbraiding of the cruelty which had fastened on words spoken in agony.]
Job 6:24. Teach me, then will I be silent (i.e. I will cease my complaint); and wherein I have erred show me. From this urgent request, that he be openly instructed and admonished in regard to that of which he is assumed to be guilty, it is abundantly evident, that the conduct of his friends, when for seven days they sat with him in silence, had been felt by him as a mute accusation on their part, and a sore mortification to himself.
Job 6:25. How sweet are words of rectitude [i.e. right words]! מַה־נִּמְרְצוּ it is best to take as synonymous with מַה־נִּמְלְצוּ (comp. Psalms 119:103), “how sweet, how pleasant are,” etc. According to this rendering, which is favored by the Targ. (also by Raschi, Schultens, Rosenm., Ewald, Schlottmann, Dillmann [Fürst, Renan, Wordsworth], etc.), the question in the second member of the verse, being introduced with an adversative ו, expresses a contrast with the first member: “but what does reproof from you reprove?” i.e. what does it avail or accomplish? הֹוכֵחַ, a substantive Inf. Absol. [used as subj., a very rare construction; comp. Proverbs 25:27]. The construction adopted by the LXX., Aq., apparently also by the Pesh. and Vulg., is etymologically admissible. According to this, מָרַץ means: “to be sick, weak, in a bad condition,” the sense of the passage being: “Why are the words of rectitude [i.e. my words] poorly esteemed by you? why do they seem to you worthy of blame?” This explanation, however, which is that essentially followed by Luther, Hahn, Ebrard [Umbreit, Hengst., Merx, who, instead of ישֶׁר, reads יָשָׁר, “the righteous man”], etc., is made less probable in that it renders מה by “wherefore.” Others (Kimchi, Delitzsch, v. Gerl.), [so also E. V., Ges., Good, Noyes, Barnes, Conant, Davidson, Carey, Rodwell, Elzas], render: “How forcible, how penetrative, are words of rectitude!” Whereas מרץ, however, can scarcely be the same with פּרץ, this rendering lacks the necessary etymological justification. The same is true of Hupfeld’s combination of the verb מרץ with &מרה מר, acerbum acrem esse: “how bitter words of uprightness can be!” Here, moreover, the rendering of מה by quantumvis is doubtful. [The word is used elsewhere twice in Niphal, as here: 1 Kings 2:8, of a grievous curse, or “a curse inevitably carried out” (Del.); Micah 2:10, of sore, unsparing destruction; and once in Hiphil: Job 16:3, in the sense of goading, provoking, and so stirring up to speak. The analogy of these passages favors the rendering: “How forcible!” To this add: (1) It agrees better with the subject, “upright, honest, sincere words.” “Words which keep the straight way of truth, go to the heart.”—Del. Comp. what is said of the word of God in Hebrews 4:12. (2) The parallelism favors it, as thus: Words which proceed from sincerity are effective: they have force and pungency; but the words which have proceeded from you (מִכֶּם)—what force, what pungency, what reproving power, have they?—E.]
Job 6:26. Do you think to reprove (mere) words?i.e. will you, to justify your censorious treatment of me, fasten on my words—on words spoken by me without reflection in the excitement of passion (Job 3:0), instead of on the fact of my blameless conduct? The whole question attaches itself closely to Job 6:25 b, and defines more closely the sense of that interrogative sentence: Do you think to make your reproof efficacious and profitable [exactly so: a good definition of נִמְרְצוּ: see above.—E.] in this way, by directing attention only to those words of mine? [הַלְהֹוכַח, Inf. constr. Hiph. with Pattach: Grn. § 126, 1]. Notwithstanding the words of a despairing man go to the wind, i.e., notwithstanding you should know that the words of one in despair (נוֹאָשׁ) are necessarily inconsiderate and spoken at random, are therefore to be judged leniently, and not pressed to the quick. The same sense is also obtained if (with Delitzsch, etc.) וּלְרוּחַ וגו׳ be treated as a circumstantial clause, and translated: “while nevertheless the words,” etc. Our adversative rendering of the ו however makes the expression stronger. [The preposition ל in לְרוּחַ is rendered with slight variations. Ewald, Dillmann, Hengstenberg, Merx, like Zöckler, render it, “speaking to the wind.” E. V., Con., Dav., Elz., Rod.: “as the wind.” And so Carey: “for wind.” Schlott., Noyes, Wem.: “but wind.” Delitzsch and Renan: “belong to the wind” (“that they may be carried away by it, not to the judgment, which retains and analyzes them.” Del.).]
Job 6:27. Ye would even cast lots for the orphan, and ye would traffic for your friend.—The severest reproach which Job pronounces on his opponents in this discourse. [Renan introduces the verse with the objurgation, “Traitors!”] The two Imperfects express what they would do in a given case, and are thus conditional or subjunctive, as in Job 3:13; Job 3:16. With תַּפִּילוּ is to be supplied גוֹרָל, after 1 Samuel 14:42. [Some suppose the figure in both clauses to be taken from hunting, and supply accordingly רֶשֶׁת, net, in the first: “You spread a net, and dig a pitfall for your friend.” Hengstenberg would supply “stones:” “you would stone your friend.” E. V., Good, Elz.: “cause to fall,” i.e., overwhelm, fall upon. But as Zöckler proceeds to say]: A casting of lots for an orphan might take place when unrelenting creditors appropriated the children of their deceased debtors as slaves by way of payment. Comp. 2 Kings 4:1. With כָּרָה in the second member, Rosenm., Gesenius, Heiligstedt, supply שַׁחַת, “a grave” [so also E. V., Good, Noyes, Wem., Carey, Rod., Elz., Hengst.]. But partly the context, partly the similar expression in Job 40:30, as also passages like Hosea 3:2, Deuteronomy 2:6, assure the signification of כָּרָה עַל to be: “to conclude a bargain for any one, to sell, to traffic in any one,” viz., as slaves. Comp. Genesis 37:27 sq. [So Ewald, Dillmann, Delitzsch, Wordsworth, and Schlottmann, who argues that the ellipsis of רשת in the first member is without any analogy: that for the ellipsis of שׁחת in the second the use of חפר in Psalms 35:7 cannot be cited, seeing that there שׁהת occurs in the first member, and that the construction with על, “to dig a pit against one,” would be harsh and unprecedented.]
Job 6:28-30. [An urgent appeal to consider the righteousness of his cause. Observe the sudden and touching transition from the bitter outbreak of Job 6:27, as though himself alarmed at the violent expression of his feelings, the reaction bringing back with it something of the old trust in his friends.—E.]
Job 6:28. And now be pleased to look on me.—Immediately following upon the severest reproof the discourse changes its tone to that of mild entreaty and adjuration. פָּנָה בְ, to turn the face to one, to consider attentively. Comp. Ecclesiastes 2:11. And of a truth I will not lie to your face:i.e., in maintaining unrighteously and untruthfully my innocence. אִם is the particle used in a negative oath, or a solemn asseveration that this or that is not the case (Gesen. § 155 [§ 152], 2 f.). [The rendering of E. V.: “for it is evident unto you, if I lie,” is unfortunate in its use of the present, “is;” for as Conant says: “though it was so clear to Job himself, he could not assert that it was so evident to them.” This objection, however, is obviated, if, with Gesenius, we supply the future: “it will be before your face (i.e., evident.) if I lie;” or if, with Hengstenberg, we supply the optative: “let it lie before your face (i.e., let it be determined by you, be ye judges) whether I lie.” In favor of the one or the other of these constructions, which are substantially the same, it may be said: (1) It establishes a better connection of the first and second members of this verse. Having entreated them to give earnest attention to his case, he assures them that they will be satisfied with his truth. (2) It is in better harmony with the suddenly subdued and almost plaintive tone which characterizes this strophe than the strenuous asseveration that he would not lie to their faces. (3) It brings the structure of the verse into conformity with that of the verse following, where we have the same earnest entreaty, followed by the same assurance of a satisfactory conclusion. (4) Job 6:30 seems to be the expansion of the same thought. (5) The construction is much simpler and less harsh.—E.]
Job 6:29. Return, I pray—i.e., not: “come hither in order to hear my complaint” (Schlott., Kamph.), which would be trivial and inexpressive; nor: “begin again” (i.e., try it again, v. Gerl., Del.),—a sense which cannot be referred to the simple objectless שׁוּבוּ. But the meaning is rather: “Return from the path of hostility and unfriendly suspicion towards me, on which you have entered.” For the absolute use of שׁוּב, to be converted, to return (to Jehovah), comp. Jeremiah 3:12; Jeremiah 3:14; Jeremiah 3:22; 2 Chronicles 6:24, etc. Let there be no wrong—viz: on your side, through your continuing to torture me, etc. Yea, return, I am still right therein.—With the K’ri we are to read וְשֻׁבוּ, a reiterated urgent request that they should hear him without prejudice. The K’thibh, ושׁבי, admits of no satisfactory explanation. [One commentator, e.g., supposes that Job is here addressing his wife! Some (e.g., Hengstenberg) that he is addressing his cause (personified), which his friends had dismissed as adjudicated. Others, as Schultens, regard the word as Inf. with suffix; “my return,” i.e., I will return, or again go over my case, and establish its righteousness. But, as Schlottmann remarks, this is undoubtedly one of the few cases where the K’ri is to be preferred. Renan, following, perhaps, a hint already furnished by the LXX.: καθίσατε (probably reading שְׁבוּ), supposes that, stung by Job’s reproaches, especially in Job 5:27, the friends had made a movement to depart. An ingenious but a needless conjecture, which weakens the importunity of Job’s appeal for an impartial trial of his cause.—E.] “I am still right therein, [or lit.] my righteousness is still in it,” i.e., in the mutter which we are considering [in my cause]; I still stand innocent and unconvicted in this business.
Job 6:30. Is there wrong on my tongue?i.e., have I really thus far (in that complaint, Job 3:0) spoken wrong? He does not therefore admit that in his vehement murmuring and cursing and lamenting he has erred; he will only acknowledge that his words have been “spoken to the wind,” i.e., thoughtlessly (Job 5:26), not that they are blameworthy or godless. Or does not my palate (חֵךְ here, as in Job 12:11, as the organ of taste) [here of course in the figurative sense of moral discrimination] discern calamities?i.e., do I not possess so much of a right judgment and understanding that I can discern the true import of my misfortune, that I can know whether my suffering is or is not deserved? To assign to חַוּוֹת another sense than that which belongs to the sing. in Job 5:2, is not suitable. Schlottmann, Dillmann, etc., interpret it rightly in the sense of “calamities, misfortunes,” while most expositors adopt the signification, “wickedness, iniquity” (“the wickedness which completely contaminates feeling and utterance.” Del.), a signification which is scarcely supported by its use in other passages. [Besides its correspondence with the sing. in Job 5:2, the sense here given for חַוֹוּת is favored by the comparison of suffering with food in Job 6:6-7, and also by the circumstantial and painful description of his sufferings, into which he plunges in the following chapter. This view, moreover, results in less tautology than the other.—E.] For the sense of the passage, as a whole, it matters not whether we translate as above, or: “does not my palate discern iniquity?” In any case, Job by this question gives evidence of his entanglement in Pelagian notions, under the influence of which he will plead guilty neither to error nor to wrong.
5. Third Division: A return to the previous lamentation because of his fate, and an accusation of God: Job 7:1-21.
First Long Strophe: Job 7:1-11, (subdivided into two strophes of 6 and 5 verses): A lamentation over the wearisomeness of life on earth in general, and over his own hopeless condition in particular.
a. Job 7:1-6. [Job’s weariness of life on account of its misery and brevity. “In antagonism to Eliphaz’s fascinating picture of the Supreme, the Father directing all the currents of creation’s influence for mercy and good, Job’s inflamed eye throws up against the sky in gigantic outline an omnipotent slave driver, and fills the earth with miserable wretches overworked by day, and shaken by feverish weariness and dreams of torture by night.”—Davidson].
Job 7:1. Has not man a warfare on earth, and are not his days like the days of a hireling?—[“The fact that Job in ver 1 brings his suffering into connection with the misery of the whole human race, indicates progress in relation to Job 3:0, where, predominantly at least, he limited himself to the representation of his individual condition. By this advance the question concerning God’s righteousness and love receives a much more forcible significance. The question is no longer about a solitary exception, which may have a secret personal reason for its existence. Job now stands forth as representative of the whole of suffering, oppressed humanity, arraigning God because of His injustice.” Hengstenberg. אֱנוֹשׁ, used continually in Job, as in the Psalms, of man in his weakness and mortality; comp. Job 5:17; Job 7:17; Job 13:9; Job 14:19; Job 15:14; Job 25:6; or of man in his insignificance and impurity as contrasted with God: comp. Job 4:17; Job 9:2; Job 10:4-5; Job 25:4.—E.]. By many the verse is translated: “Has not man a service [the service, viz., of a vassal] on earth, and are not his days as the days of a hireling?” (so e.g. Hahn, Vaih., etc.). But in the original text the figure first presented is rather the military one (צָבָא, military service, soldiering, as in Job 14:14; Isaiah 40:2; Daniel 10:1) [“in silent antithesis to Eliphaz’s fascinating picture, Job 5:0,” Dav.], while the figure taken from the peaceful life of a tiller of the soil (שָׂכִיר, hireling, one who works for wages, comp. Job 14:6) follows in the second member. This latter comparison, belonging to the sphere of agricultural life, is continued in the more detailed description of the following verse.
Job 7:2. Like a slave, who pants after the shadow [soil. of evening; see Gesenius], and like a hireling who waits for his wages. The כְ used in each member is not the continuation of the כְּ in כִּימֵי־שׂכְיר, Job 7:1, but stands in cor-relation to the כֵּן which begins Job 7:3, that verse being the apodosis to this. [For the reason just given the translation should not be: “as a slave he pants, etc.” Neither: “as a slave pants,” which would be כַּאֲשֶׁר פֹּעַל that which is earned by working, wages: comp. Proverbs 21:6; Jeremiah 22:13; also the synonymous פְּעֻלָּה, Leviticus 19:13; Isaiah 40:10, etc. [The reward of the day’s labor is to be understood as being looked forward to by the laborer here not so much for its own sake, as because it marks the close of the day’s work, because having received his wages he rests.—E.]
Job 7:3. So months of wretchedness are allotted to me, and nights of distress are appointed for me.—יַרְחֵי־שׁוְא is translated by Delitzsch [Schlott., Hengst., Davidson, E. V.]: “months of disappointment,” which certainly corresponds more nearly to the literal signification of שָׁוְא (vanity, nothingness, falsehood, the opposite of תֻּשִׁיָּה), but furnishes no point of comparison that is altogether suitable in connection with what precedes. Moreover the signification: “wretchedness, misfortune is sufficiently assured for שָׁוְא by Job 15:31; Isaiah 30:28 [and so Umbr., Ew., Dil., Noy., Con.]. הָנְחַלְתִּי, lit., “I am made to inherit, are appointed to me as my lot” (נחלה), with accus. of the object. The Passive expresses “the compulsoriness of the lot” (Hirzel). [“A pathetic word, made to inherit, through no cause or fault of mine, it is the mere arbitrary effect … of the will of him whose slave I am. לִי adds force to the passive, both show the non-participation of Job in causing his troubles, and his helplessness to dispose of them.” Davidson]. From the months of wretchedness to the nights of distress, there is a progression in the thought; the latter are related to the former as the sharp and sudden destruction effected by a bombardment to the preceding and accompanying sufferings which a protracted siege produces among those who are beleaguered. [Dillmann states the progression thus: “in contrast with the days of the hireling are the months and even the nights of the misery.” It seems scarcely necessary, however, to assume a progression here. The term “months” indicates the long duration of the suffering, the term “nights” indicates its incessant recurrence, and is chosen, moreover, because it is in the night that the pressure of pain is most keenly felt.—E.]. Our verse is, however, one of the most decisive evidences that our poet imagined a wide interval to have elapsed between the outbreak of Job’s disease and the beginning of the controversy; comp. above, or Job 2:11.—[On מִנּוּ, 3d plur., used indefinitely “without any thought of the real agency concerned in the action spoken of, and where the English would require a passive construction,” see Green, § 243, 2, b].
Job 7:4. When I lie down, then I think, [lit., say]: When shall I arise, and the night be gone?וּמִדַּד־עֶרֶב is commonly translated: “and the night lengthens itself, the night stretches itself out long” (מִדַּד, Piel of מדד, written with Pattach: comp. Gesenius, § 52 , Rem. 1). The accents, however, favor rather the rendering adopted by Raschi, Mercerus, Rosenm., Delitzsch, [and so E. V., Noyes, Con., Dav., Carey], according to which מִדַּד is the const. st. of a verbal noun from נדד, the meaning of the noun מִדָּד being “flight, departure,” and the sense of the entire clause being: “when will the flight of the evening be? when will the evening come to an end?” That עֶרֶב is by this interpretation regarded as synonymous with לַיְלָה furnishes no valid reasoning against this rendering; for the word has this meaning no less according to the other rendering, and in general means this quite often in Hebrew; comp. Genesis 1:5 seq. [“The night is described by its commencement, the late evening, to make the long interval of the sleepiness and restlessness of the invalid prominent.” Delitzsch].—And I became weary with restlessness until the dawn.—נֶשֶׁף, here as in Job 3:9, the morning dawn. נְדֻדִים, lit., the rolling around, tossing to and fro on the bed. The word forms a paronomasia with מִדַּד, as Ebr. and Delitzsch rightly remark. [Thus in English: “When will the night toss itself away? And I am weary with tossings until the dawn.” And this paronomasia is not without weight as an argument in favor of the interpretation given above to מִדַּד in Job 7:4.—E.].
Job 7:5. My flesh is clothed with worms and crusts of earth. רִמָּה, decay, rottenness, which passes over into worms, vermin; comp. Job 17:14; Job 21:26.—גִּישׁ, for which the K’ri substitutes the common reading of the Talmud, גוּשׁ, is elsewhere “clods of earth;” here crusts, scabs, such as cover indurated ulcers [used here, says Delitzsch, because of the cracked, scaly, earth-colored skin of one suffering with elephantiasis].—My skin heals (רָגַע, shrinks together, contracts, becomes hard and stiff) and breaks out again, lit., “is again melted,” [festers again], יִמָּאֵם, a variant. of יִמַּם (comp. Ewald, § 114 b) [Green, § 139, 3], Psalms 58:8.
Job 7:6. My days pass away more swiftly than a weaver’s shuttle. אֶרֶג not the “web” itself, as the Pesh. and Vulg. render it, but the shuttle, κερκίς, radius; comp. Job 9:25, where precisely, as here, swift motion forms the point of comparison.—And vanish without hope, i.e. without hope of deliverance (comp. Job 9:25-26), not: without hope of a better lot after death, as Hirzel, Hahn, Delitzsch, etc., explain, with a reference to Job 14:12; Job 14:19. The reference to the life beyond is as yet altogether foreign to the connection. [The rendering of Good, Wemyss, Elzas assumes אֶרֶג to mean yarn for the web, the verb קלל “to be slight,” and תִּקְוָה thread; and so they translate:
“My days are slighter than yarn,
They are finished by the breaking of the thread.”
What is thus gained, however, in the symmetrical completeness of the figure, is lost in depth of feeling. There is inexpressible pathos in the sentiment that his days are wasting away (יִכְלוּ) without hope; the use of the preposition בְּאֶפֶם, lit. in the extreme end, at the vanishing point, being also exquisitely appropriate.—E.]
b. Job 7:7-11 : A plaintive plea for God’s compassion, out of which, however, the suppliant sinks back into hopeless lamentation.
Job 7:7. Remember that my days are a breath (רוּחַ, wind, breath of air, the same as הֶבֶל, Job 7:17), that mine eye shall never behold prosperity. Lit. “will not return to see;” or mine eye will nevermore see good,—when it is broken off, that is, in death, when, therefore, this earthly life of mine shall reach its end. It is not the absolute cessation of all sight, observation, consciousness, life in general, that Job here affirms of the Hereafter, but only that he will cease to behold happiness and well-being (טוֹב, as in Job 2:10; Job 21:13; Job 36:11; Psalms 4:7 (6); Psalms 25:13; Psalms 34:13 (12), etc.), that days of prosperity will never return: and so in the three verses following.
Job 7:8-9. The eye of him who looketh after me shall see me no more. עֵין רֹאִי, the eye of my beholder, my visitor, and so of my friend, who comes to see me and to comfort me. So according to the reading רֹאִֽי, with the tone on the last syllable, while the accentuation רֹֽאִי for רֳאִי, preferred by Arnheim, Stickel, Vaihinger, etc., pausal form, would give the sense, which here is less suitable [and which Schlottmann justly characterizes as insipid]: “an eye of seeing=a seeing eye.” [Comp. ראה in 2 Samuel 13:5; 2 Kings 8:29].—Thine eyes (supply: look, are turned) towards me: I am no more. The address, as in the preceding verse, is directed to God: If Thou seekest me there, I shall be no more; Thou wilt therefore be able to show me no manner of kindness. [The anthropomorphism of a heart stung by pangs of the bitterest disappointment: I have been deceived in my fondest hopes, when I looked for sympathy and help, they were not to be found. So be it! The day will come when perhaps Thou wilt feel moved to show me some kindness, but—too late. Thou wilt look for me among the living—but I shall not be.—E.] That (the “being no more” is to be understood, not absolutely, but only relatively, is evident from the following verse, which, through the simile of the cloud which vanishes without leaving a trace of it behind, illustrates the hopelessness of the return of the departed from Sheol, not, however, their complete annihilation. Concerning שְׁאוֹל, Hell, i.e. the underworld, the realm of the dead (to be derived, indeed, from שָׁאַל, “to demand,” rather than from שָׁעַל, “to be hollow”); comp. notes on Proverbs 1:12; Proverbs 2:18; Proverbs 7:27; Song of Solomon 8:6. [“שְׁאוֹל is now almost universally derived from שָׁעַל שָׁעַל, to be hollow, to be deepened; and aptly so, for they imagined the Sheôl as under ground, as Numbers 16:30; Numbers 16:33, alone shows, on which account even here; as from Genesis 37:35 onwards יָרַד שְׁאֽוֹלָה is everywhere used. It is, however, open to question, whether this derivation is correct: at least passages like Isaiah 5:14; Habakkuk 2:5; Proverbs 30:15 seq. show that in the later usage of the language, שָׁאַל, to demand, was thought of in connection with it: derived from which Sheôl signifies (1) the inevitable and inexorable demand made on everything earthly (an infinitive noun like &פְּקוֹד אֱלֹוהַּ; (2) conceived of as space, the place of shadowy duration, whither everything on earth is demanded (3) conceived of according to its nature, the divinely appointed fury which gathers in and engulfs everything on the earth.”—Del.]
[Job 7:9. The cloud is vanished [or consumes away), and is gone (a figure particularly expressive in the East); so he that goes down to the underworld cometh not up. See on Job 7:8.]
Job 7:10. He returns no more to his house, his place knows him not again;i.e. his home (מָקוֹם, as in Job 8:18; Job 20:9; Psalms 103:16 [with which the second member corresponds literatim]), which formerly on his return from a journey rejoiced and greeted him as it were, will not recognize him again (עוֹד), even because he will not return. Of any hope of a resurrection to new life and prosperity in life Job manifestly exhibits here no trace: no more is it the case in Job 10:21; Job 14:10 seq.; Job 16:22.—It is otherwise on the contrary in Job 19:25 seq.
Job 7:11. [This verse Schlottmann, Conant, Wemyss, Davidson, Carey, Renan, connect with the next strophe: while Noyes, Dillmann, Del., agree with Zöckler in placing it at the end of the present strophe. Ewald and Hengstenberg treat it as an independent verse, a passionate convulsive outcry of rebellious discontent in the midst of the plaintive moaning of a crushed and helpless heart, which pervades the rest of the chapter.—E.]—Therefore will I also not restrain my mouth, I will speak in the anguish of my spirit:i.e. since God hears me so little, since He abandons me so pitilessly to the lot of those who dwell in the realm of the dead, therefore neither will I on my part (גַם אֲנִי for this so-called גַםtalionis, compare Ezekiel 16:43; Psalms 52:7 (5); Habakkuk 2:9, etc.) give any heed to Him, rather will I let my grief and anguish have free course. I will complain in the anguish of my soul: lit. in the bitterness of my soul; comp. Job 10:1, as also the adjective phrase מַר נֶפֶשׁ, disturbed, troubled in soul: 1 Samuel 1:10; 1 Samuel 22:2, etc.
6. Third Division. Second Long Strophe: Job 7:12-21 (consisting of two strophes of five verses each): A vehemently passionate arraignment of God on account of the unrelenting severity with which He persecutes and oppresses him.
a. Job 7:12-16. [“The first conceivable cause of Job’s troubles—he might be a menace to heaven.” Dav.]
Job 7:12. Am I a sea, or a monster [of the deep], that Thou (כִּי as in Job 3:12; Job 6:11) settest a watch upon me?מִשְׁמָר, “guard, watch-post,” an expression which strictly belongs only to the second element in the comparison, the תַּנִּין (sea-monster, dragon, whale), being less suited to the first. A watch is set, however, on the raging and tossing sea by means of dams and dikes (comp. Job 38:8 seq.; Jeremiah 5:22; Jeremiah 31:35). [Schultens quotes from an Arabic poet, who calls Tamerlane “a vast sea, swallowing up everything.”] According to Hirzel, Delitzsch, etc., we are to understand by יָם the Nile, and by תַּנִּין the crocodile. This interpretation, however, rests on grounds equally insufficient with the specifically Egyptian reference which is fancied to lie in various other figures and descriptions of our book; comp. Introduction, § 7. [“The image must be left in all its magnitude and generality; if there is any particular reference, it is in יָם to the tumultuous primitive abyss which God watched and confined, and still watches and enchains (Psalms 104:9) lest it overwhelm the world; and in תַּנִּין to those vast creatures with which the early waters of creation teemed, Genesis 1:21.”—Dav. and so Schlottmann.]
Job 7:13. When I think, my bed shall comfort me.—כִּי, when, so often as; as in Job 5:21 b. [There is no good reason for rendering אָמַרְתִּי “I think,” rather than “I say.” As Hengstenberg says: In violent grief thought passes easily into words.] The whole verse is he protasis, to which Job 7:14-15 form the apodosis. My couch shall help to bear my complaint.—[מִשְׁכָב, the general word, place of lying; עֶרֶשׂ, canopied couch]. נָשָׁא בְ, to help to bear anything [בְּ partitive] sublevare, as in Numbers 2:17; comp. Nehemiah 4:4; Nehemiah 4:11. [“The vast images called up by the terms ‘sea’ and ‘sea-monster’ are very significantly followed by those of the ‘bed’ and ‘couch,’ as comforters and helpers sought in vain, bringing before our minds the littleness of man’s lot.” Schlott.] For שִׂחַ, complaint, comp. Job 9:27; Job 10:1; Job 21:4.
Job 7:14-15. Then Thou scarest me [וְחִתַּתַּנִי, liter. “Thou shakest me”] with dreams, and makest me to tremble through visions of the night.—מֵחֶזְיֹונוֹת, “out of visions,” and so through them, in consequence of them.—So that my soul chooseth strangling.—ו in וַתִּבְחַר introduces a consequent to that which precedes, “and so then, in consequence of those terrifying dreams and visions, my soul chooseth strangling.” Death rather than these my bones:i.e. rather than this body reduced to a skeleton; comp. Job 19:20. The מִן in מֵעַצְמוֹתָי is comparative, not causal—“death which is produced from these bones” (Stickel, Rüetschi), or again—“death from my own bones,” i.e. by my own hand, suicide (Merx, Umbreit, Schlottmann, [Carey]). The last interpretation is by no means supported by מַחֲנַק, which signifies only strangling, not self-strangulation (comp. words of analogous structure like &מוּצַק מִרְמַם, and Ewald, § 106, c). [Although the sing עֶצֶם is used of self, it would be forced and against all usage to take the plur. in that sense, or in the sense of members, hands. Moreover, the usual force of מִן after בָּחַר is comparative. To this add what is said in the following extract from Avicenna of the sensation of suffocation in elephantiasis. This description of himself as “bones” is most strikingly suggestive when compared with the conception of himself as a “sea” or a leviathan in Job 7:12, capable of vexing and obstructing the Almighty. “There is fearful irony in the comparison of this skeleton, impotent and helpless, his very weakness a terror to himself and his onlookers, to the great heaven-assaulting ocean, lifting itself up in the consciousness of infinite power, or to some dragon of the prime in which the whole energy of creation in its youth lay compressed” (Davidson).—E.] With the description here given of the symptoms of elephantiasis in its advanced stages, comp. what Avicenna says in his description of the same: “During sleep there come frequent atrabilious dreams.… The breathing becomes excessively hard and labored. There is severe constriction of the chest, and extreme hoarseness. The lips become thick and black, and the body is covered with lumps, and becomes entirely black. It often becomes necessary to open the jugular vein to relieve the hoarseness and the tendency to suffocation,” etc.
Job 7:16. I loathe it—מָאַסְתִּי—not: “I pass [waste] away” (Rosenm., Stick.) [Conant, Renan], but “I despise,” viz., life—I am disgusted with life. That this is to be supplied as the object of the verb, which is used absolutely, is made apparent by the clause immediately following: “I would not live always.” [Those who render מָאַסְתִּי “disappear,” take the remainder of the line as in like manner affirming Job’s mortality. Thus Conant: “I waste away, I shall not live always.”] Let me alone—i.e., desist from continually assailing and besieging me, from the מִשְׁמָר of Job 7:12. The request is addressed to God (not to Job’s own life, as Hahn thinks), and expresses not a humble modest desire, but a stormy demand on the part of Job, sorely distressed as he was, and so weary of life. [Hence Davidson renders it: “Away from me!”] On the reason given for this request: “for my days are a breath,” comp. Job 5:7 a (רוּחַ הֶבֶל).
b. Job 7:17-21. [“The other conceivable cause of Job’s sufferings, sin.” Dav. “The discourse in these verses assuming a calmer tone, as if to justify the vehemence of his doubt.” Ew.]
Job 7:17. What is man that Thou magnifiest him, and that Thou settest thy mind on him?—These questions (in this and the following verse) parody in deliberate form and with bitter irony the words of Psalms 8:5 sq. (comp. Psalms 144:3; Lamentations 3:23). “There it is said that God exalts puny man to a kingly and divine position among His creatures, and distinguishes him continually with new tokens of His favor; here, that instead of ignoring him, He makes too much of him, by selecting him, insignificant as he is, as the object of ever new and ceaseless sufferings.” Del. [“David’s ‘What is man that thou shouldst think of him to bless him?’ is turned into ‘What is man that thou shouldst think of him to curse him?’ ” Dav. Herein lies the wonderful irony of the passage. Wordsworth: “Why shouldst thou break a fly upon a wheel?”]
Job 7:18. And that thou visitest him every morning?—On פקד, to visit, inspect, comp. above on Job 5:24, also Psalms 8:5. And every moment triest him?—תִּבְחָנֶנּוּ, i.e., puttest his patience and power to the test continually, and by sufferings which are ever renewed.
Job 7:19. How long dost Thou not look away from me?—כַּמָּה, lit.: how much? how often? here in the sense of quamdiu, construed with the Imperf. in the sense of a Future, as in Psalms 35:17שָׁעָה with מִן, to look away from, as in Isaiah 22:4; here in the special sense of turning away from any one a look expressive of displeasure and punishment, exactly as in Job 14:6, where moreover שָׁעָה is connected with מֵעַל. Nor lettest me alone till I swallow my spittle—i.e., for one little instant—a proverbial expression for a minimum of time, in use also among the Arabians and Persians; comp. Schultens and Umbreit on the passage.
Job 7:20. If I have sinned (חָטָאתִי, an elliptical conditional clause, comp. Ewald, § 357 b), what could I do (thereby) to Thee?—[the fut, אֶפְעַל in the potential sense]: i.e., what harm would I thereby occasion to thee? what detriment would I cause to Thy self-sufficient greatness and glory? (comp. Job 35:3-8, especially Job 7:6). Ewald and Olshausen construe מה אפעל־לך as a relative clause of more precise specification, dependent on חטאתי, and so equivalent to an accus. of this verb: “If I have sinned in what I do to thee.” Grammatically possible, but much tamer and less emphatic than our rendering. [“If I have sinned in what I do unto thee, why hast thou made me thy mark?” would be, says Conant, “a challenge without any pretence of justification.” It would certainly involve a meaningless non sequitur. If Job had sinned, that certainly was a reason why God should set Himself against him. The clause מה־אפ׳ is thus needed to mediate between חטאתי and למה שׂ׳.—E.] Thou watcher of men!—This appellation, which of itself is one that conveys praise of God and comfort to men (comp. Psalms 121:3; Isaiah 27:3), is used here not sensu bono, but with bitter irony, in the sense of an austere pitiless scrutinizer of men, without giving it, however, the shamefully frivolous sense given in Renan’s rendering: O espion de l’homme. [“This sense of being continually tracked, of having the Divine shadow ever at his heels, following him about with evil eye, speechless but malevolent, puts the sufferer out of himself. How long wilt thou not look away from me? What is the meaning of this horrible espionage?” Davidson.] Wherefore dost Thou make me thy point of attack?—מִפְגַּע, the object against which one rushes, or impinges (פָּגַע בְּ), an expression of not exactly the same, but yet of similar signification with מַטָּרָה, “target,” in Job 16:12; Lamentations 3:12. [“Such an obstacle the Deity had made to Himself of Job. Job was in His way. He was perpetually striving against Him—a tremendous figure.” Dav. This is vividly put: the conception of a perpetual stumbling-block in God’s way, however, is scarcely the one conveyed by the term. The idea here and in Job 16:12 is that Job was a mark, against which God deliberately directed His power. There the figure is drawn from archery; here from war.—E.] So that I am become a burden to myself: (ו consec. as in Job 7:15 a; the whole expression as in 2 Samuel 15:33). The LXX. read here עָלֶיךָ (εἰμὶ δὲ επὶ σοὶ φορτίον), and moreover the Masoretic tradition affirms that one of the eighteen corrections of the consonantal text of the Hebrew Bible (תִּקּוּנֵי סֹפְרִים) obtains here, the original עָלֶיךָ having been set aside on account of its objectionable meaning [being too bold or blasphemous]—“wherefore became I a burden to Thee?”—and exchanged for the less objectionable עָלַי. In any case, this latter reading gives a striking sense.
Job 7:21. And why dost Thou not pardon my transgression?—וּמֶה (with the vowel e, according to Ewald, § 152 b) [Green, § 75, 1], here=וְלָמָה. The question expresses what was to be expected, instead of the incessant hostile assaults of God on him, the presumed sinner, if he had really transgressed,—namely, the pardon of his guilt, since verily his end was now nigh. [And put away my iniquity.—According to Hengstenberg, there lies a certain irony in the use by Job of the strong expressions פשע and עון to designate the sins which to his consciousness proceeded only from infirmity.] For הֶעֱביר (to pass over, to overlook, ἀγνοεῖν) as a synonym of נשׂא, to bear, to forgive, comp. 2 Samuel 12:13; 2 Samuel 24:10. For now shall I lie in the dust, and if Thou seekest after me, I am no more—i.e., death will soon hurry me away, and Thou wilt then have no further opportunity to show me favor; unless therefore Thou doest this immediately, Thy character will be seen to be that of a cruel being, who unnecessarily torments men. This reason for the question: why will not God forgive without further question or delay? is akin to the thought in Job 7:7 a, Job 7:8b, and 16b.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. In poetic elevation of thought, nervous strength of expression, and in wealth of figurative ornamentation, this first discourse of Job is not inferior to that of Eliphaz. It resembles the same also in that it conducts the argument more upon the basis of that Divine wisdom which belongs to mankind universally than of that which is specifically theocratic, and serves to express a religious consciousness which is firmly rooted in faith in a personal God (Eloah, Shaddai). That, however, which it sets forth as the contents and voice of this consciousness, with its faith in Jehovah, is no less obnoxious to the charge of one-sidedness, of beclouding the truth by many wrong representations and religiously impure sentiments, and indeed of partially eclipsing the same by grave errors, than the contents and tendency of that discourse of Eliphaz. There are one-sided representations, partly related and partly opposed to those of Eliphaz, to which we see Job here giving his adherence. Like him he is inclined to regard being a man and committing sin, or sensuousness and sinfulness, as inseparably connected together, and accordingly to look on the forgiveness of sin by God as a matter of course—as something which is to be expected on the part of man without giving himself any further concern on the subject (Job 7:21; comp. Job 6:14; Job 7:7-8; Job 7:16). But in the disposition which he shows to make his sin as small as possible, to represent himself as in the main guiltless, and his friends as unjustly suspecting his innocence (Job 6:10; Job 6:24; Job 6:26; Job 6:29 sq.; Job 7:20), he in turn comes in conflict with Eliphaz, the zealous champion of the universal sinfulness of all men. In consequence of the unqualified way in which he rejects the conjectures of the latter respecting his moral guiltiness in the matter of his suffering, he exhibits a stronger pelagian bias, greater self-righteousness, and more of the conceited arrogance of virtue, than his opponent. And when he upbraids him, and the two other friends who are like-minded with him, with a want of love, with a lack of gentleness, and even with a faithless neglect of their duty to comfort him (Job 6:11-20; especially Job 6:14 sq.), this reproach seems—even quite apart from the bitter satirical tone in which it is clothed—in so far intemperate and exaggerated, in that he most decidedly declines to allow himself to be charged by them with any crime whatsoever, and so finds in their conduct only unfriendliness, hostility, and bitterness, and on the other hand wholly misapprehends the partial truth of that which is said by Eliphaz in their name. So far is he from submitting to being exhorted by them to penitence, that he seems rather to think he must preach repentance and conversion to them (Job 6:29)—like so many church-goers of our day, who, under the influence of pelagian prejudice and rationalistic blindness, complain of their preacher that, instead of ministering to them the consolation of the Gospel, he does nothing but exhort them to repent, thereby showing his own need of repentance (on account of “fanaticism, intolerance, hypocrisy, muckerism, obscurantism [puritanical bigotry],” etc.). Comp. Hengstenberg, p. Job 202: “It should not be overlooked that suffering would not have inflicted its crushing power on Job to such a degree if he had possessed the foundation of a theodicy in a deeper knowledge of human, and especially of his own, sinfulness. It is the lack of this that first gives to his suffering its real sting.… For the sufferings of this life sometimes wax so great that a moderate knowledge of what sinfulness is will be found altogether inadequate. Job’s description in this section shows that very clearly. Its lesson is that even the mildest and most moderate pelagianism, or semi-pelagianism, must inevitably lead in its consequences to blasphemy.”
The most doubtful point of antagonism to Eliphaz into which Job is led is when, instead of complying with his repeated exhortations to humble himself beneath the mighty hand of God, he falls rather into the tone of bitter, angry contention and litigation with God, and goes so far as to accuse Him of injustice and want of compassion, speaking of the poisoned arrows of the Almighty which are in him (Job 6:4), attributing to God the purpose, or at least the disposition, to crush and destroy him, even though he had in no wise sinned against Him (Job 6:9-10), charging Him with making ceaseless hostile assaults upon him, and decreeing wanton tortures for him (Job 7:12 sq.), and with reference to this giving Him in bitter sarcasm the name of a “watcher of men” (in the unfavorable sense of the expression), a hostile sentinel or jailer of men (Job 7:20). And these harsh and presumptuous speeches against God are accompanied by no qualifications, or partial retractions, such as we find in nearly all the lamentations of the Psalmists, or of the Prophet Jeremiah, where they make use of similar expressions, and represent God now by this, and now by that figurative expression, as their unsparing persecutor, and their stern unpitying judge. Job persists in all that he says in this direction of a doubtful character; he takes nothing of it back; he concludes his discourse immediately after the most passionate and presumptuous of these sayings has passed from his lips. Comp. Delitzsch (1:131 seq.): “We should be mistaken if there were sin in the expressions in themselves considered by which Job describes God’s hostility against himself. We may compare, e.g. Lamentations 3:9-10 : “He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone; He hath made my paths crooked; He is to me as a bear lying in wait, as a lion in the thicket.” It is, moreover, not Job’s peculiar sin that he thinks God has changed to an enemy against him; that is the view which comes from his vision being beclouded by the conflict through which he is passing, as is frequently the case in the Psalms. His sin does not even consist in the inquiries, How long? and Wherefore? The Psalms, in that case, would abound in sin. But the sin is that he hangs on to these doubting questions, and thus attributes apparent mercilessness and injustice to God. And the friends constantly urge him on still deeper in this sin, the more persistently they attribute his suffering to his own unrighteousness. Jeremiah (in Job 3:0 of the Lamentations), after similar complaints, adds: Then I repeated this to my heart, and took courage from it: the mercies of Jehovah, they have no end; His compassions do not cease, etc. Many of the Psalms that begin sorrowfully end in the same way; faith at length breaks through the clouds of doubt. But it should be remembered that the change of spiritual condition which, e.g. in Psalms 6:0, is condensed to the narrow limits of a lyric composition of eleven verses, is here in Job worked out with dramatic detail as a passage of his life’s history: his faith, once so heroic, only smoulders under ashes; the friends, instead of fanning it to a flame, bury it still deeper, until at last it is set free from its bondage by Jehovah Himself, “Who appears in the whirlwind.”
2. Notwithstanding these manifold tokens of a profound and grievous darkening of soul from which Job suffered during this discourse, it presents scattered through it much that is true, much that is directly conducive to the knowledge and appropriation of revealed truth. To these points of light, in which is comprised whatever in the two chapters is really significant in a doctrinal and ethical respect, belong:
(a) The beautiful sentiment: “To one that is despairing gentleness is due from his friends, even though he should have forsaken the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14); a genuine pearl of ethical theological wisdom, an unconscious prophetic saying, anticipating from afar such New Testament utterances as: “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Matthew 9:12); or: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness” (Galatians 6:1); or: “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20; comp. 1 Peter 4:8).
b. The sorrowful lamentation over the misery of human life at the beginning of Job 7:0 (Job 7:1-6), which, even in those parts of it that have special reference to Job’s fearful sufferings as a leper, admits of a measure of generalization, and analogical extension to the condition of all men as sinners, and as suffering in consequence of their sins. For not only that which in this earthly life, with its thousand troubles and hardships, resembles the service of the soldier and of the hireling, but also the months of evil which are to be lived through, and the nights of misery which are to be watched through, likewise the many harbingers of death and of decay, swallowing up the bodily life corroded and disintegrated by diseases of all kinds (comp. Job 7:3-5)—all this even suits more or less the experience which all men have of life, inasmuch as there is no one, under the present order of existence, who is absolutely free from the law of sin and death, which through our first parents has descended upon all the race; comp. Romans 7:24-25; Rom 8:10; 2 Corinthians 4:16, etc.
c. Connected with this lamentation is the reflection upon the evanescence and vanity of the days of man on earth, as well as upon the injustice and cruelty which would be exercised, if God should treat a being so weak and frail, so much like a breath in his nothingness, only according to the severity of His justice, and not rather according to the gracious fulness of His love and mercy (Job 7:7 seq.—especially Job 7:21). In Job’s sense, indeed, who does not adequately appreciate the bitter malignity and ill-desert of sin, and who is inclined, in view of the helpless moral misery of mankind, to rest his appeal for the forgiveness of his sins by God, not on the ground of its being fitting, but on a ground of formal right, this reflection is inadmissible before God, proceeding equally from the pride of the natural man, and from moral levity. It sounds almost like the frivolous remark of a Voltaire, or a Heine, like the notorious saying: “Dieu me pardonnera, c est son metier!” At least it enables us to forebode how frivolous men might gradually reach such an abyss of wicked principles and of outrageous continued sinning against God’s grace!—But even this reflection exhibits a certain relationship to those deep and undeniable truths in respect to the weakness of the natural man, and the necessity of pointing him to the power of divine grace which alone can deliver him, and which the Old Testament embodies in such expressions as those of Psalms 89:48; Psalms 90:5 seq.; Psalms 102:12 (11); Psalms 103:14, but the New Testament in its testimonies, infinitely more consoling, to the salvation which is found only in Christ, such as Acts 4:12; Romans 3:23 seq.; Romans 8:34 seq.; Romans 11:30 seq.; Galatians 3:22; Ephesians 2:8 seq., as well as in the not less comforting assurances of the gracious hearing which our Heavenly Father will grant to all prayers addressed to Him in the name of Jesus, and in trust exercised only in His grace (Luke 11:5-13; Luke 18:1-8; John 14:13 seq.; John 16:23 seq.). Comp. Hengstenberg, p. Job 215: “Job cannot once give up the thought that God is a God of love, and so it seems to him to contradict His nature if, through the immediate prospect of death, the opportunity is taken away from Him of making amends for His severity by love.”
d. Finally, the way in which Job, in Job 7:7-10, expresses himself concerning his destiny after death, though not properly belonging to the luminous side of his discourse, should still be reckoned among those expressions in it which contain positive instruction, and which are important in the development of the Old Testament Revelation. In this gloomy description of the dismal prospect beyond the grave, Job is as far as possible from exhibiting any hope of a resurrection, especially such as is so distinctly and gloriously revealed in Christianity. He knows nothing of such a hope. Just as little, however, does he know anything of any annihilation of his existence, of its total extinction after death. His disconsolateness in view of certain and near death is not that of the materialistic atheist, or of the heathen sage, who, with the hope of a resurrection, abandons also all hope of immortality. When in Job 7:8, and in like manner, in Job 7:21, he speaks of soon “being no more,” this strong expression explains itself by means of the parallel passages which surround it, as meaning that he shall be no more on this earth, that this earthly life and earthly happiness will never again return (see Job 7:7 b; Job 7:8 b; Job 7:21 c), but that, on the contrary, he anticipates a cheerless and prospectless confinement in Hades. He recognizes an existence after death, but one that is necessarily devoid of happiness, unilluminated by a single ray of the Messianic grace of salvation glimmering from afar. His outlook into the Hereafter is essentially one with his dread of Hades, the “king of terrors,” the realm of a never-ending death-gloom, a desolate and horrible darkness relieved by no light (comp. Job 10:20 sq.; Job 20:9 sq.; also the similar gloomy descriptions of the condition of being in Hades in the Psalms: Psalms 6:6 [Psalms 6:5]; Psalms 30:10 [Psalms 30:9]; Psalms 88:11 [Psalms 88:10] sq.; Psalms 115:17; in the Proverbs, in Ecclesiastes, etc.). He evidently belongs as yet to those who are groaning under the yoke of bondage to death, which preceded the coming of Christ, those whom the Epistle to the Hebrews designates as τούτους, ὅσοι φόβῳ θανάτου διὰ παντὸς τοῦ ζῆν ἔνοχοι ἦσαν δουλείας (Hebrews 2:15). He stands, at least in the preceding discourse (it is otherwise later in Job 19:25 sq.), decidedly on the stand-point of those who, being as yet subject to the œconomia Legis, had not learned to view the destiny of the dead in the mild light of the grace of Jesus Christ. Comp. Brentius: “The condition of death or of Hades is such that by its own nature it holds all whom it embraces, and releases them not until Christ, the Son of God, shall by death descend into Hades, i.e. until He shall have died; for through Him, death and Hades being conquered, as many as have been renewed by faith are set free.” Also Delitzsch (1:130 sq.): “From this chaotic conception of the other side of the grave, against which even the psalmists still struggle, the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead had not been set forth at the time of Job, and of the author of the book of Job. The restoration of Israel buried in exile (Ezekiel 37:0) first gave the impulse to it; and the resurrection of the Prince of Life, who was laid in the grave, set the seal upon it. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was first of all the actual overthrow of Hades.… We shall see by and by how the more his friends torment him, the more he is urged on to the longing for a future life (i.e. a bright Hereafter, full of life and being, a Hereafter worthy of the name); but the word of revelation, which could alone change desire into hope, is wanting. The more tragic and heart-rending Job’s desire to be freed by death from his unbearable suffering is, the more touching and importunate is his prayer that God may consider that now soon he can no longer be an object of His mercy.”
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
A sermon on the whole of the preceding discourse of Job must have two chief divisions: I. Job’s complaint concerning his friends as poor comforters, Job 6:2. Job’s arraignment of God as his cruel, merciless persecutor. In both divisions it would be necessary to set forth so much of Job’s utterances as is blameworthy, perverted, and one-sided, along with that which is of a higher character (such as, in the First Division, that passage particularly, which, from Job’s stand-point, is comparatively justifiable, in which he claims gentle treatment, Job 6:14; and in the Second Division, more particularly the opening and closing verses of chap. 7).—In view of the length of the whole discourse, it will be better, for the most part, to divide it into two texts, corresponding to the usual division by chapters, having in view a final consideration of both chapters. The following thoughts from ancient and modern practical commentators may serve as hints for the homiletic treatment of particular passages.
Job 6:2 sq. Starke: The cross must be weighed not according to reason, but in comparison with the future glory, 2 Corinthians 4:17.—Zeyss: That which the much afflicted Job said of the greatness, heaviness, and severity of his suffering, might with much more justice and in the truest sense be said of the suffering of our Redeemer.
Job 6:11 sq. Brentius: Most truly, and at the same time most impatiently, Job confesses that he cannot endure patiently such torments of hell…. Verily, although it is impossible for the flesh to stand in judgment, in Christ all things are possible, and by His virtue even hell is conquered. When, therefore, you hear it said that no amount of fortitude will suffice to bear the wrath of God, you may learn to fear the Lord and to commit yourself to His hands, so that you may be delivered; for He says: Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.
Job 6:14 sq. Idem: Ungodly hypocrites—if at any time they see one in affliction, they presently revile him with much chiding and upbraiding, and seeking out every thing about him from infancy up that is most disgraceful, if they do not report it, they at least suspect it.… On the contrary, it is the nature of piety to plead, to reprove, to be urgent, εὐκαιρως , so long as the Lord spares, and grants time for repentance. For He Himself also bears the wicked with the utmost long-suffering, to the end that He might in the meanwhile by doctrine, exhortation and reproof persuade them to repentance.
Job 6:22 sq.: Osiander: Our flesh is altogether restive under the cross, and is wont to show particular resentment toward friends if they do not immediately come to our relief.—Starke (on Job 6:24): A wise man is glad to be admonished when he has erred; James 3:17.
Job 7:1 sq. Seb. Schmidt: Each of these (the servant and the hireling) continues in perpetual toils and miseries. Every man may rightly be compared with either, seeing that throughout his life he is overwhelmed with toils and miseries, looks in vain for rest before death.—Starke: Our present life is nothing else than a service. Well for us if therein we serve God; but woe be to us if we yield ourselves to the service of sin; Romans 6:13.—Wohlfarth: Human life is a continuous strife and conflict; a conflict with the infirmities of the body, with the sufferings of this life, with sin! But why does thine eye look sad? Where there is strife, there is victory; and more than all, a noble prize is put before the Christian to strive for, both in this life and in the life beyond.
Job 7:5-6. Weim. Bib.: Our life is empty and fleeting, and all human beauty is perishable; Psalms 102:4; Psalms 144:4; Psalms 103:15.—Wohlfarth: How swift the ceaseless flight of time! How rapidly the moments resolve themselves into hours, the hours into days, the days into months, the months into years! How much even the longest human life resembles a short dream of the morning! Yes, our life hastes away like a weaver’s shuttle, like a breath, like a cloud!
Job 7:8-10. Brentius (on Job 7:9): A beautiful comparison. As a cloud passes away, vanishes, and returns not, so he who goes down into the under-world, and never returns from thence.… In Hades there is no redemption through the feeling of despair, or by one’s own strength or virtues, but there is abundant redemption even in hades through the Lord’s compassion and restoring grace. (Comp. also the words of this expositor quoted above near the end of the Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks.)
Job 7:12-16 : To those who are tried it seems as though God had shut them up in a dark prison, or had even thrust them from Him, while they are still in His hand!—It is not an uncommon thing for those who are tried to be haunted by the purpose of taking their own life; these persons must not be allowed to go unwatched.—Wohlfarth: How shall we overcome the temptation to suicide?
Job 7:19-21 (on Job 7:19): Cocceius: One of two things is to be desired by the godly: either that they may live without fear, that they may enjoy some good in this life, by which they may understand that God is at peace with them, and does not wish to show forth His wrath and justice towards them; or that they may die speedily. Now the godly live in perpetual afflictions and trials, or at least they are always troubled with anxiety and fear concerning them. Hence nothing is more natural than that they should desire to die at once. For truly to live without comfort is harder than to die. And so human nature is not able to bear even the least pressure of God’s wrath. Hence it is plain to see what every discourse of Job’s aims at, to wit, to possess the comfort of the Gospel.—Joach. Lange: We must truly humble ourselves under the mighty and heavy hand of God (1 Peter 5:6). Only then do we come to know ourselves, and become poor in spirit, when we become a real burden to ourselves (Job 7:20 c). And that is then the right way of becoming rich towards God (Matthew 11:28; Luke 12:21).—Starke: All saints should with Job pray God for the forgiveness of their sins (Psalms 32:6).… He who is assured of the forgiveness of his sins can die peacefully and joyfully, Luke 2:29.—See Remarks by Hengstenberg and Delitzsch above, under “Doctrinal and Ethical.”
“To him who despairs there is love from a friend [from a brother sympathy for him who is bowed down by God, in order that he may not succumb to the grief of his heart], and forsake the fear of the Almighty.”
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Job 6". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent