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Job detests the day of his birth; wishes that he had never been born, and complains that the thing which he feared is come upon him.
Before Christ 1645.
Job 3:1. After this opened Job his mouth— The days of mourning being now over, and no hopes appearing of Job's amendment, but his afflictions rather increasing, he bursts into a severe lamentation, and wishes that he had never existed, or that his death had immediately followed his birth; life, under such a load of calamity, appearing to him the greatest possible affliction. It may be proper just to remark, that the metrical part of the book begins at the third verse of this chapter.
Job 3:3. And the night in which it was said, &c.— And the night which said, See, a man-child is born; Heath: who observes from Schultens, that the bearing of a son was a matter of great consequence among the Arabians; the form of their salutation to a newly-married woman being, frequently, "May you live happily, and bring forth male children." It is no wonder, therefore, that the night subsequent to the day which had conferred so great a piece of good fortune on a family should be celebrated with a general rejoicing. Let not God regard it, in the next verse, is rendered also by this writer, May God not inquire after it; and by others, Let not God take account of it.
Job 3:5. Let darkness—stain it, &c.— Let darkness—claim it; let thick night involve it. Houbigant; who observes well, that there enters nothing of pollution into the idea of darkness.
Job 3:7. Let that night be solitary— Be full of grief. Houbigant; which is the proper contrast to the following clause; for we here observe, once for all, that the poetry of Job is of the same kind with that of the preceding pieces in the Old Testament, in which, as we have before remarked, the latter clause corresponds to, and explains the foregoing. See the notes on Genesis 49:0 and Exod. xv, &c.
Job 3:8. Curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning— Houbigant renders it, May those curse it, who dread the day, who are ready to rouze the Leviathan. The word כבה kabah rendered curse, says Heath, hath in the Arabic the signification of conceiving or exciting terror; and, being translated dread the day, makes better sense than the common rendering. The verse may be thus paraphrased: "Let even those who reckon the night as their protector, who dread the appearance of the day, curse this night; who are ready to awake, or arouse the Leviathan;" i.e. are weary of their lives, and are ready for the most desperate undertaking; as for waking the Leviathan, see ch. 41. Houbigant, however, is by no means satisfied with this interpretation. He thinks, that, to justify it, it should be shewn that they who rouse such monsters as the Leviathan, or crocodile, detest or dread either the coming or departing day; which by no means appears to be the case. He therefore renders it, Who prepare themselves to raise up the dragon, or serpent, meaning the old serpent which seduced our first parents, whom they are accustomed to raise up, who use magic arts, and with whom it is common to curse the approaching day, as preventive of those arts: so that Job seems to say, that that night in which he was conceived, is more to be detested than that day which they detest who exercise magic arts. For my own part, I should be apt to prefer to either of these interpretations the common version; which may certainly be justified, bears a sense much less forced than either of the foregoing, and seems well to correspond with the preceding verse.
Job 3:11. Why died I not from the womb?— The LXX render it, in the womb. See Jer 20:17 and Noldius, p. 153. The breasts that I should suck, in the next verse, would be rendered more properly, the breasts which I have sucked.
Job 3:14. Which built desolate places— The Hebrew word חרבות charaboth rendered desolate places, comes from an Arabic root, denoting buildings of the pompous kind; and so may signify apartments of great elegance, or the place where a monarch sits apart from the rest. This, when applied to a dead king, will denote the pompous sepulchral monuments by which monarchs, and other mighty men, in the early ages, endeavoured to preserve their memories, as the pyramids of Egypt, the Mausoleum, and others; and indeed the manner of expression seems to glance at the former of these; as the pyramidal figure is not altogether unlike a sword, which is the common signification of חרב chereb. Heath.
Job 3:17. The weary be at rest— The Hebrew here כח יגיעי yegiiai koach signifies, The toils of power; and these toils of the great are put in opposition to those of the slave, the meanest condition. The verse may be rendered, There the wicked cease to be a terror, and there the toils of power are in repose. The beginning of the 19th verse should be rendered, The small and great are equal there.
Job 3:21. Which long for death— Who call aloud for death. Heath.
Job 3:23. Why is light given to a man, &c.— There is nothing for why is light given, in the original. Houbigant supposes it repeated from the 20th verse; and he renders the present, Why, to that man, whose way is dark, and intercepted against him from heaven? But Heath, after Schultens, renders it thus: Well might it befit the man whose way is sheltered, and whom God hath made an hedge around.
Job 3:24-26. For my sighing cometh before I eat— My groaning cometh like my daily bread. Heath. In presence of my meat, or at my meals, says Peters. And my roarings are poured out like the waters; i.e. which I then drink. After which it immediately follows: For the fear which I feared is come upon me. Now, why should Job's grief and sighs recur at his meals particularly, but because these would naturally put him in mind of his sons and daughters being met together at their banquets, when the house fell upon them and destroyed them? The Chaldee paraphrast thought this to be the fear which Job feared, as appears from his interpretation of the 26th verse, which he reads interrogatively, was I not, &c.? The paraphrase is to this purpose: Job could easily suppress his grief when he heard of the loss of his oxen and asses, nor did the other pieces of bad news disturb his rest or quiet much, till it was told him of the death of his children, and then trouble came upon him indeed. This is but following the history, which gives exactly such a description of the behaviour of Job. See ch. Job 1:5. And thus, understanding the fear here mentioned as a fear for his children, and the hope and confidence which he expresses in other places as flowing from a consciousness of his own integrity, and sincere endeavour to discharge his duty, there will be found no discordance in the passages, as some would suppose. See ch. Job 29:18 Job 30:26 and Peters.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, At last the solemn silence breaks. Big sorrows flow into his lips; and, feeling his wretchedness, Job cursed the day which first brought into life a miserable being, doomed to such tormenting anguish. Herein corruption prevailed; he stumbled, yet not so as to fall. In general, he still appears our admiration; and we shall see him recovering his resignation, his sin pardoned, his soul restored, and Satan's accusation of him as a hypocrite clearly confuted; and, though compassed with infirmities, in the main he is found faithful and upright, and fixed in his adherence to God. Note; The day of our birth had need be kept with humiliation, when we remember the sin of our conception, and the evil of our years; but should never be curst, since there is so blessed a hope set before us, in that Child who to us is born, and through whom we have now a prospect of endless glory. If, indeed, we should look no farther than the grave, and full in view behold those miseries which flesh is heir to, it might lead us to join Job's imprecation; but beyond the grave the prospect brightens to the eye of faith, and enables the soul, amidst its sorrows, to rejoice in hope.
2nd, 1. Tired of life, in love with death, impatiently Job expostulates, Why he died not, as an abortion, or was suffered to survive the hour of his birth? Why the knees supported him, the breasts suckled him, and robbed him of an infant grave? Note; (1.) Man is, of all creatures, born the most helpless; and, without the tenderest care and kind providence, he could never survive the days of helpless infancy. (2.) To quarrel with the life that God bestows, is to sin against our own mercies; and if ever in hell we curse the day of our birth, we shall have none but ourselves to blame. (3.) Fretfulness and impatience at our lot are foolish as well as sinful, and can only aggravate instead of alleviating our burdens. (4.) To desire death to be with Christ, and delivered from sin, is commendable; but to be tired of the burdens of mortality, is selfish and evil.
2. He speaks of the grave, as the desirable asylum for the wretched. There he should have enjoyed rest and ease; and, in his bed of dust, slept (as he could not now, through raging anguish) as it were on a bed of down. There he should have lain down with kings and counsellors, no longer distinguished in this cold mansion, unless by the desolate habitations, those sepulchral monuments which they built for themselves. There, like an untimely birth, or the still-born infant, carried from the womb to the grave, he should know no sorrow: There the wicked cease from troubling; Satan no more tempts, nor wicked men vex and persecute: there the weary pilgrim reposes: the prisoners are there at ease, nor hear the clamorous voice of their oppressor or creditor; and the slave ceases his labour, free from his cruel master's yoke: the small and great are there mixed promiscuously, and no distinction marks the wise man from the fool. Note; (1.) Though the troubles of life must not make us impatient under them, the shadows of death will be welcome to the afflicted believer. (2.) Death is the terror of many of those called the great, because their honours cannot follow them: happy only and truly great are they who, after death, expect their crown. (3.) It is a comfort to the holy soul which dwells in this disordered world, troubled with the communication of the wicked, that yet a moment, and they will for ever cease from troubling.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 3". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
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