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Second division, first section JOB’S DESIRE TO TRANSFER HIS CAUSE FROM FALSE AND SYCOPHANTISH FRIENDS DIRECTLY TO GOD, Job 13:1-12.
First strophe Announcing his purpose to appeal to God, Job cannot refrain from a well-deserved castigation of his persecutors, Job 13:1-6.
2. Inferior unto you See on Job 12:2.
3. Zophar (Job 11:5) had thought to silence Job by calling upon God to appear against him. Job now takes Zophar at his word, by a summons for God to the controversy. This furnishes the clew to this chapter. God, and he alone, can arbitrate upon the cold, cruel judgments of men.
4. Forgers of lies Taphal, “to forge,” “to stitch upon or together,” primarily means to “glue together,” (Gesenius,) or “smear over.” The lie needs no “glueing” to bind it fast to its victim. To save the good name of God they fasten upon Job the imputation of guilt.
Physicians of no value The Talmud strangely calls them healers of the jugular artery, the cutting of which produces death, hence the healers of the incurable. (Delitzsch.) A friend has been called the physician of the soul; in some such sense the word is used here. They failed in all the offices of friendship, and hence were worthless.
Of no value The word in the original thus rendered, signifies also idols, thus indicating their nothingness worthlessness. Hence the apostle says, We know that an idol is nothing. 1 Corinthians 8:4.
5. Wisdom The Arabs say, “The wise are dumb, and silence is wisdom,” “Silence gains love,” “To repent after silence is better than to repent after wisdom.” Cited by Erpenius.
6. Reasoning Better, reproof.
Second strophe Such is Job’s fiery indignation at the dishonesty and arrogance of the friends in assuming to be God’s advocates, that he still turns aside from his main purpose of appeal that he may chide them anew, Job 13:7-12.
7. Deceitfully In the sense of sophistically. Their sophism assumed the form of a dilemma either Job is a transgressor or God is unjust. But the dilemma necessarily failed in the latter condition, and thus the whole fell to the ground.
8. Accept his person Literally, face: that is, be partial for God. They gave a distorted view of the divine administration. They glossed over two unmistakable facts: the prosperity of the wicked and the sufferings of the innocent. This they did that they might relieve, as they thought, the character of God.
9. Search you out Better, Search you through to the bottom. The natural heart, like birds of the night, abhors the light. It closes its every avenue against God. Its “chambers of imagery” are so filled with deceit, passion, lust, pride, envy its idolatrous walls so traced with every form of creeping thing, (Ezekiel 8:12,) as to render God’s searching presence the greatest of conceivable evils. A good man, on the other hand, desires to know the worst of himself. His prayer is: “Search me, O God, and know my heart.”
11. His dread fall upon you Pineda gives, in this place, a Spanish proverb, The hill and the stones are God’s: that is, the vantage ground is his.
12. Remembrances Memorable sayings.
Like unto ashes Are maxims of ashes. In the East, ashes are regarded as of no value, fit only to be trodden under foot, (Malachi 4:3,) hence an image of worthlessness, Genesis 18:27. Bodies Strongholds. The original is נב , gab, a back, the boss of a shield, thence a bulwark, etc. “Bulwarks of clay” were easily demolished. In those days the tower of stone was the symbol of strength. The “old saws” of the friends were “proverbs of ashes,” their glittering bulwarks, “bulwarks of mud;” a strict parallelism of thought. In this contemptuous setting of their “remembrances,” zikronim, in similitudes of ashes and mud, there is a keen verbal thrust at the stately “Remember, I pray thee,” of Eliphaz. ( Zekorna, Job 4:7.) Compare chap. Job 8:8.
Second section JOB RESOLVES TO APPEAR BEFORE GOD WITH HIS APPEAL, EVEN AT THE RISK OF HIS LIFE, Job 13:13-22. (Compare Exodus 33:20; Judges 13:22.)
First strophe His extreme fear of God on the one hand, and his deep-rooted consciousness of innocence on the other, involve him in a painful oscillation of mind ere he reaches the full decision to cite God to judgement, Job 13:13-16
14. Take my flesh in my teeth The second member of this verse helps to determine the meaning of the first. The “taking of one’s life in one’s hand” means its voluntary exposure to great danger, (Judges 12:3; 1 Samuel 19:5, etc.) “To take one’s flesh in his teeth” is probably a similar proverb for an imminent risk knowingly incurred; perhaps kindred to that cited by Schultens from the Arabic, “His flesh is on the butcher’s block.” Munster observes, “He who exposes his life to perils does not spare himself; thus he does not spare himself who bites his own flesh with his teeth.”
15. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him “This is one of the highest among the notabilia of Scripture,” (Chalmers,) and yet its interpretation is disputed. The question is whether the Hebrew word לֶו lo, translated in him, should not be לא , lo, signifying not. The manuscripts favour the לא , not; but the Masoretes regarded it as an error, and have put into the margin a note called keri. This reforms the reader that the copyists have erred in this one word, and that it should be read as our version has it, in him. There are fourteen other passages in the entire Bible in which the keri substitutes lo, ( for him,) for lo, not. See Delitzsch on Isaiah 13:9. Similar to these clerical errors is that one in our own version of the New Testament where at is printed for out: “Strain at a gnat.” (Matthew 23:24.) The old versions, as well as the old Jewish critics, Latin and English commentators, (among those to be excepted are Noyes, Davidson, and Conant,) adopt the reading of in him. On the contrary, lo, not, is defended by most German commentators, yet with such exceptions as Arnheim and Delitzsch. If it be read lo, not, the sense is not necessarily changed. “Whichever way you read it, the sense is the same. For if it is read not, it will be pronounced interrogatively although he kill me shall I not hope?” Calvin. The Germans, however, prefer to read it as an affirmation. Thus Ewald, “Yet he will slay me! I hope not.” (A feeble platitude!) With Job, here as elsewhere, (Job 14:14-15; Job 19:25,) the deeper the night of gloom and despair the more vivid the lightning gleams of faith and hope. In his Titanic struggles he resembles the ancient giant who, when he touched the earth, is fabled to have gathered new life and hope. The word איחל , translated “trust,” signifies also hope. Death and hope here join hand in hand. Death has no power to slay hope; “Job’s hope almost enlivened his death. He had more life in death than most men have in their lives.” Caryl. “It is the sign of a great soul always to hope,” said the heathen historian, Florus, (iv, 8;) the child of God goes beyond and plains his standard of faith on the other side of the brink of death. The last movement of the wasted fingers of Grace Aguilar, a Jewess, was to spell the words, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”
16. He… my salvation He, God, not this, as some read. “Job reassures himself with the thought that God cannot reveal himself to the wicked.” Renan. If then God accepts his challenge, it will be a virtual concession of his innocence.
Second strophe Fixed in his determination to enter the lists with Deity, Job first pleads with God that he should forego the advantages omnipotence gives, so that his servant may have a fair and just trial, Job 13:17-22.
18. Ordered Set in order, or made ready.
19. He Hitzig is right in his view that “he” refers only to God. If God seriously question his innocence, poor Job can only keep silent and expire.
If I hold my tongue Tayler Lewis reads as in the text, but a better reading is: I would be silent and die.
20. Two things Specified in the following verse: 1. That God would grant him a respite from trouble; 2. That he would not overwhelm with his terror.
21. Thy dread Thy terror; “the terror of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:11.)
22. These phrases are regarded as judicial. He calls upon God to appear either as plaintiff or defendant. “In contrast with God Job feels himself to be a poor worm, but his consciousness of innocence makes him a Titan.”
Delitzsch. The language of Job is that of passion, which he himself in soberer moments condemned.
Third division THE APPEAL TO GOD, Job 13:23-28, and chap. 14.
First strophe As if God stood before him in the character of an accuser, Job plies him for the reasons of his conduct: 1. That he should hide his face; 2. Show himself an enemy; 3. Issue bitter decrees against him; 4. “Punish sins long since passed;” 5. Cruelly hamper and imprison him with disease, Job 13:23-28: a gradation Mercerus had observed.
Hitzig supposes that Job here made a pause, in expectation “that God would appear and take up the word.”
23. He now commences his most pathetic appeal to God, which is continued through the next chapter. He begins to “reason with God,” as he had expressed his desire to do in Job 13:3. Job does not deny having committed sin, but he does deny sins proportionate to his calamities. Sin of a most heinous character has already been fore-shadowed in the insinuation of Bildad, (Job 8:6,) and in the onslaught of Zophar, (Job 11:11-12.) In the opinion of some, (see Carey on Job 2:7,) the disease with which Satan cursed Job spoke of a licentious life. This may account for his insisting so strenuously on the purity of his life, Job 31:1-12.
25. Break Terrify, agitate, (chase) Gesenius. A fallen leaf chased hither and thither by omnipotence: such was fallen Job. The figure is one of simplicity and yet one of power. “A glimmering wick shall He not quench.”
Isaiah 42:3. “I have heard divines say, that those virtues that were but sparks upon earth shall become great and glorious flames in heaven.” Izaak Walton.
26. Thou writest A judicial term, observes Rosenmuller, referring to the custom of writing the sentence of a person condemned, thus decreeing the punishment. Psalms 149:9. Among the Arabs a writing is used to denote a judicial sentence.
Bitter things Prof. Lee mentions an Oriental adage, “Disease and want are two things more bitter than the juice of the colocynth.”
Iniquities Same as in Job 13:23, from עוה , to be bent or distorted. “Evil is a departure from man’s appointed path.”
The iniquities of my youth Nature is ever slow to punish the transgressor. God’s mercy is thus proclaimed through the constitution of things he has himself founded. Youth is blindly led to presume upon apparent security. Nature, however, never forgets. She “lays up the depths in storehouses;” so all transgressions are housed against a retributive future. At the period of man’s greatest feebleness, amid the infirmities of many years, she lets loose against the transgressor imprisoned evils the sins of youth. They prove a fearful heritage, upon which the man as naturally enters as a child does upon the estate of a deceased parent. Thus, in a sense vastly different from that, the Italian artist thought, “the remembrance of youth is a sigh.”
27. The stocks Some kind of clog for the feet, which the culprit shuffled about with him when he moved, perhaps similar to those in more recent times fastened to the feet of malefactors or fugitive slaves. “At Pompeii stocks have been found so contrived that ten prisoners might be chained by the leg, each leg separately, by the sliding of a bar.” KITTO, Pictorial Bible.
Thou settest a print Literally, Around the roots of my feet thou settest a bound. Thus he was imprisoned against any possibility of escape.
Heels Literally, roots: “that part of the feet through which, standing or going, like a tree through its roots, man is fastened to the earth.” Stickel. The figures in this verse hinge upon the swollen condition of his feet a marked feature of the elephantiasis, in the course of which, says WINER, ( Rwb., 1:115,) “the feet swell to a horrible extent.” See note Job 2:7.
28. Rotten thing Rottenness. Such as caries, or decay, in wood. The most destructive agencies work in silence. “A moth does mischief, and makes no sound; so the minds of the wicked, in that they neglect to take account of their losses, lose their soundness, as it were, without knowing it. For they lose innocency from the heart, truth from the lips, continency from the flesh, and, as time holds on, life from their age.” ST. GREGORY, Moralia.
And he Thus speaking of himself in the third person, Job paves the way to the sad estate of man as man, which forms the subject of the next chapter.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 13". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter