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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Job 9

 

 

Verses 1-22

B.—Job’s reply: Assertion of his innocence and a mournful description of the incomprehensibleness of his suffering as a dark horrible destiny

Job 9-10

1. God is certainly the Almighty and Ever-Righteous One, who is to be feared; but His power is too terrible for mortal man:

Job 9:2-12

1 Then Job answered and said,

2 I know it is so of a truth:

but how should man be just with God?

3 If he will contend with Him,

he cannot answer Him one of a thousand.

4 He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength;

who hath hardened himself against Him, and hath prospered?

5 Which removeth the mountains, and they know not:

which overturneth them in His anger;

6 which shaketh the earth out of her place,

and the pillars thereof tremble;

7 which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not;

and sealeth up the stars;

8 Which, alone spreadeth out the heaven,

and treadeth upon the waves of the sea;

9 which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades,

and the chambers of the South;

10 which doeth great things, past finding out;

yea, and wonders without number.

11 Lo, He goeth by me, and I see Him not;

He passeth on also, but I perceive Him not.

12 Behold, He taketh away, who can hinder Him?

who will say unto Him, What doest Thou?

2. The oppressive effect of this Omnipotence and Arbitrariness of God impels him, as an innocent sufferer, to presumptuous speeches against God:

Job 9:13-35

13 If God will not withdraw His anger,

the proud helpers do stoop under Him.

14 How much less shall I answer Him,

and choose out my words to reason with Him?

15 Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer,

but I would make supplication to my judge.

16 If I had called, and He had answered me,

yet would I not believe that He had hearkened to my voice.

17 For He breaketh me with a tempest,

and multiplieth my wounds without cause.

18 He will not suffer me to take my breath,

but filleth me with bitterness.

19 If I speak of strength—lo, He is strong!

and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead?

20 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me;

If I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.

21 Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul;

I would despise my life.

22 This is one thing, therefore I said it,

He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.

23 If the scourge slay suddenly,

He will laugh at the trial of the innocent.

24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked:

He covereth the faces of the judges thereof;

if not, where, and who is He?

25 Now my days are swifter than a post;

they flee away, they see no good.

26 They are past away as the swift ships;

as the eagle that hasteth to the prey.

27 If I say, I will forget my complaint,

I will leave off my heaviness, and comfort myself;

28 I am afraid of all my sorrows,

I know that Thou wilt not hold me innocent.

29 If I be wicked,

Why then labor I in vain?

30 If I wash myself with snow water,

and make my hands never so clean,

31 yet shalt Thou plunge me in the ditch,

and mine own clothes shall abhor me.

32 For He is not a Prayer of Manasseh, as I Amos, that I should answer Him,

and we should come together in judgment.

33 Neither is there any daysman betwixt us,

that might lay his hand upon us both.

34 Let Him take His rod away from me,

and let not His fear terrify me;

35 then would I speak, and not fear Him;

but it is not so with me.

3. A plaintive description of the merciless severity with which God rages against him, although as an Omniscient Being, He knows that he is innocent:

10:1–22

1 My soul is weary of my life;

I will leave my complaint upon myself;

I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.

2 I will say unto God, Do not condemn me;

show me wherefore Thou contendest with me.

3 Is it good unto Thee, that Thou shouldest oppress,

that thou shouldest despise the work of Thine hands,

and shine upon the counsel of the wicked?

4 Hast Thou eyes of flesh?

or seest Thou as man seeth?

5 Are Thy days as the days of man?

are Thy years as man’s days,

6 that Thou inquirest after mine iniquity,

and searchest after my sin?

7 Thou knowest that I am not wicked;

and there is none that can deliver out of Thy hand.

8 Thine hands have made me and fashioned me

together round about—yet Thou dost destroy me!

9 Remember, I beseech Thee, that Thou hast made me as the clay;

and wilt Thou bring me into dust again?

10 Hast Thou not poured me out as milk,

and curdled me as cheese?

11 Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh,

and hast fenced me with bones and sinews.

12 Thou hast granted me life and favor,

and Thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.

13 And these things hast Thou hid in Thine heart;

I know that this is with Thee.

14 If I sin, then Thou markest me,

and Thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity.

15 If I be wicked, woe unto me!

and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head:

I am full of confusion; therefore see Thou mine affliction.

16 For it increaseth. Thou hauntest me as a fierce lion:

and again Thou shewest Thyself marvellous upon me.

17 Thou renewest Thy witnesses against me,

and increasest Thine indignation upon me;

changes and war are against me.

18 Wherefore then hast Thou brought me forth out of the womb?

Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!

19 I should have been as though I had not been;

I should have been carried from the womb to the grave.

20 Are not my days few? Cease then,

and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little,

21 before I go whence I shall not return,

even to the land of darkness, and the shadow of death;

22 a land of darkness, as darkness itself;

and of the shadow of death, without any order,

and where the light is as darkness!

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. As we have seen, Eliphaz and Bildad had alike made the attempt, on the basis of their common places, such as the fact of the universal sinfulness of men, and that of the invariable justice of God’s dealings, to extort from Job the confession of His own ill-desert as the cause of his suffering. Neither of them had heeded his request to render a more reasonable and just decision concerning his case ( Job 6:28-30). In this new reply accordingly he addresses himself to both at once, and maintains most emphatically, and even with impassioned vehemence that their propositions, true as they were in general, were not applicable to his case. These propositions which they advanced concerning God’s unapproachable purity, and inexorable justice he admits, but only in order “satirically to twist them into a recognition of that which is for mortal man a crushing, overpowering omnipotence in God, disposing of him with an arbitrariness which admits of no reply” ( Job 9:2-12). He then, in daring and presumptuous language, arraigns this terrible Being, this arbitrary Divine disposer, who, as he thinks, notwithstanding his innocence, is resolved to hold and treat him as guilty ( Job 9:13-35). And finally, under the influence of these gloomy reflections he falls back into his former strain of doubt and lamentation (in Job 3), closing with a sentiment repeated verbally from that lamentation, although in a condensed form, and casting a gloomy look toward that Hereafter, which promises him nothing better, nothing but an endless prolongation of his present misery ( Job 10:1-22). [Dillmann calls attention to the fact that while in the former discourse Job had directed one entire section against his friends, here he says nothing formally against them, but soliloquizes, as it were in their hearing, leaving them to infer whither their assaults are driving him]. The first of these three tolerably long divisions embraces four short strophes (the first three consisting of three verses each, the last of two); the second division consists of two equal sub-divisions ( Job 9:13-24 and Job 9:25-35) each of three strophes, and each strophe of four verses: the third division comprises, after an exordium of three lines (ch10:1) two double-strophes ( Job 9:2-22) the first formed of one strophe of6, and one of5 verses, the second of two strophes, each of five verses.

2. First Division: Job concedes the propositions of his opponents regarding God’s immutable justice and absolute purity, but shows that for that very reason His power is all the more to be dreaded by mortals; Job 9:2-12.

First Strophe: [Impossibility of maintaining one’s cause before God].

Job 9:2. Of a truth [ironical as also in12:2] I know that it is so, viz., that what Bildad has set forth is quite true: that God ever does only that which is right, and that whatever proceeds from him must for that very reason be right. It is only to this leading proposition of Bildad’s discourse ( Job 8:3) that Job’s remark here can refer, and not also to the discourse of Eliphaz, to which reference is first made in the following member: [It seems hardly worth while to make this distinction between two members of the same verse. Formally it is more natural indeed to suppose the opening remark to be addressed to Bildad, materially it doubtless refers to both. “In his former reply to Eliphaz,” says Hengstenberg, “he had sought to work rather on the feelings of his friends. Having failed in this, as the discourse of Bildad shows, he now makes all that the friends had spoken the subject of his criticism.”]—And how should a mortal [אֱנוֹשׁ, man in his weakness and mortality] be right before God?i.e., how should it be otherwise than as Eliphaz has declared in his fundamental proposition ( Job 4:17), to wit, that “no man is just before God;” which proposition moreover Job here changes into one somewhat differing in sense: “no man is right before God.”

Job 9:3. Should he desire to contend with Him, he could not answer Him one of a thousand.—The subject in both members of the verse is Prayer of Manasseh, not God, as Schlottman, Delitzsch, Kamphausen, explain. By “contending” is meant seeking to establish by controversy or discussion the right of man which is denied. The meaning of the second member of the verse Isaiah, that God, as infinitely man’s superior, would overwhelm him with such a multitude of questions that he must stand before Him in mute embarrassment and shame, as was actually the case at last with Job, when God began to speak ( Job 38:1 sq.).

Job 9:4. The wise of heart and mighty in strength—who has braved Him and remained unhurt?—The absolute cases חכם לב and אמיץ כח are resumed in אֵלָיו, and refer accordingly to God, and not to מִי (as Olshausen thinks). With הִקְשָׁה is to be supplied ערֶֹף: “who has hardened his neck against Him,” ( Deuteronomy 10:16; 2 Kings 17:14), i.e., bid Him defiance?

Second Strophe: Vss5–7. A lofty poetic description of the irresistibleness of God’s omnipotence, beginning with its destructive manifestations in nature. [“Job having once conceived the power of God becomes fascinated by the very tremendousness of it—the invincible might of his and man’s adversary charms his eye and compels him to gaze and shudder, and run over it feature after feature, unable to withdraw his look from it. This alone, and not any superficial desire (Ewald) to emulate Eliphaz (to whom there is no particular reference in the speech as most comm. think), accounts for this piece of sublime picturing. Ewald has however finely remarked that the features Job fastens on are the dark and terror-inspiring, as was natural from the attitude in which he conceived God to stand to him.” Davidson].

Job 9:5. Who removeth mountains, and they are not aware that (אֲשֶׁר as in Exodus 11:7; Ezekiel 20:26) He hath overturned them in His wrath.—[In favor of thus regarding אֲשֶׁו as a conjunction rather than a relative, may be urged (1) The Perf. הפן, which would otherwise be Imperf.; comp. יַחְתֹּם Job 9:7. (2). The introduction of a relative construction in a coordinate clause, and ו being absent would be a violation of the present participial construction of the strophe. The use of the Imperf. in6b and7b is different: those clauses being introduced by ו and subordinate.—E.]. The activity of the Divine wrath bursts upon them so quickly and suddenly that they are quite unconscious of the mighty change which has been effected in them.

Job 9:6. Who maketh the earth to tremble out of her place:viz., by earthquakes, comp. Isaiah 13:13; Psalm 46:3, 2], 4 3]; and touching the climactic advance from the mountains to the earth, see Psalm 90:2.—And her pillars are shaken [lit, rock themselves. The fundamental meaning of פלץ, which is akin to פלם and פלש, is as Dillmann says, to waver, to rock, not to break, as Ges. and Fürst explain, connecting it with פרץ]. The pillars of the earth (comp. Psalm 75:4, 3]; 104:5), are, according to the poetic representation prevalent in the O. T. the subterranean roots of her mountains [or according to Schlottmann the foundations on which the earth rests suspended over nothing: Job 26:7; Job 38:6], not their summits, lifted above the earth, which are rather (according to Job 26:11; comp38:6) to be thought of as the pillars of the heavenly vault, like Atlas in the Greek mythology.

Job 9:7. Who bids the sun (חֶוֶם, a rare poetic term for the sun, as in Isaiah 19:18; comp. חַּרְסָה, Judges 14:18) [“perhaps (says Delitz.), from the same root as חָרוּץ, one of the poetical names of gold,” seeing that in Isaiah l. c. ’Ir ha-Heres is a play upon עִיר הַחֶרֶם, ‘Ηλιούπολις], and it riseth not, i.e., so that it does not shine forth (comp. Isaiah 58:10), and so appears eclipsed.—And setteth a seal round about the stars, seals them, i.e., veils them behind thick clouds, so that through their obscuration the night is darkened in the same measure as the day by an eclipse of the sun. In regard to obscurations of the heavenly bodies in general as indications of the Divine Power manifesting itself in destruction and punishment, comp. Exodus 10:21; Joel 3:4 (2:31); Ezekiel 32:7 seq.; Revelation 6:12; Revelation 16:10.

Third Strophe: Job 9:8-10. The description of the Divine Omnipotence continued, more especially in respect to its creative operations in nature. [To be noted is the absence of the article with the participles in each of these three verses, which alike with its presence in each of the three preceding verses, is clearly a sign of the strophic arrangement.—E.]

Job 9:8. Who spreadeth out the heavens alone.נֹטֶה according to parallel passages, such as Isaiah 40:22; Isaiah 44:24; Psalm 104:2, where the heavenly vault is represented as an immense tent—canvass, is to be explained: “who stretcheth out, spreadeth out,” not with Jerome, Ewald [Noyes, Davidson], etc., “who bows down, lets down.” With the latter interpretation the clause לְבַדּוֹ would not agree; nor again the contents of Job 9:9, where clearly God’s activity as Creator, not as Destroyer, or as one shaking the firmament and the stars, is more fully set forth.—And treads upon the heights of the sea, i.e., upon the high-dashing waves of the sea agitated by a storm, over which God marches as its ruler and controller ( Job 38:10 sq.) with sure and majestic tread, as upon the heights of the earth, according to Amos 4:13; Micah 1:3; Comp. Habakkuk 3:15, also the excellent translation of the passage before us in the Sept.: περιπατῶν ἔπὶ θαλάσσης ὡς ἐπ’ ἐδάφους. Hirzel and Schlottmann [Merx] understand the reference to be to the waters of the firmament, the heavenly cloud-vessels, or thunder-clouds ( Genesis 1:6 sq.; Psalm 104:3; Psalm 18:12 (10); Psalm 29:3; Nahum 1:3). But these cloud-waters of the heavens are never elsewhere in the Holy Scripture called “sea” (יָם); also not in Job 36:30 (see on the passage), and still less in Revelation 4:6; Revelation 15:8; Revelation 22:1, where the θάλασσα of glass in the heavenly world signifies something quite different from a sea of rain-clouds. [“The objection that this view of sea interferes with the harmony of description, mixing earth and heaven, is obviated by the consideration that the passage is a description of a storm where earth (sea) and heaven are mixed.” Davidson].

Job 9:9. Who createth the Bear and Orion and Pleiades.—עשֶֹׁה is taken by Umbreit and Ewald as synonymous with עֹטֶה; “who darkens the Bear, etc.”, against which however may be urged the use of עשה in Job 9:10, likewise the description flowing out of the present passage in Amos 5:8, and finally the lack of evidence that עשה means tegere (which remark holds true also of Job 15:27; and Job 23:9). Moreover the connection decidedly requires a verb of creating or making. [“This as well as all the other participles from Job 9:5 on to be construed in the present, for the act of creation is conceived as continuous, renewing itself day by day.” Dillmann.—“Job next describes God as the Creator of the stars, by introducing a constellation of the northern (the Bear), one of the southern (Orion), and one of the eastern sky (the Pleiades).” Delitzsch]. Of the three names of northern constellations, which occur together in Job 38:31-32, עָשׁ, or as it is written in that later passage עַיִשׁ, denotes unmistakably the Great Bear, or Charles’s Wain, the Septentrio of the Romans, and the n’ash (נעש), i.e., “bier” of the Arabians. Whether the word is etymologically related to this Arabic term, which is suggested by the resemblance of the square part of the constellation to a bier, the three trailing stars, the benath na’ash, “daughters of the bier,” being imagined to be the mourners, is doubtful. [The current form עיש decisively contradicts the derivation from נעש]—כְסִיל in that case, lit. “the fool,” is certainly Orion, who, according to the almost universal representation of the ancient world, was conceived of as a presumptuous and fool-hardy giant, chained to the sky; comp. the mention of the מוֹשְׁכוֹת, i.e., the “bands,” or “fetters” of Orion in Job 38:31, as well as the accordant testimony of the ancient versions (LXX.: ’Ωρίων, at least in the parallel passages Job 38:31 and Isaiah 13:10; similarly the Pesh, Targ, etc.). Against the reference to the star Canopus (Saad. Abulwalid, etc.), may be urged, apart from the high antiquity of the tradition which points to Orion, the context of the present passage as well as of Job 38:31, and Amos 5:8, which indicates groups of stars, and not a single star.—The third constellation כִּימָהi.e., the heap, is rendered “the Hyades” only in the Vulgate; the remaining ancient versions however (also Saadia), and the Vulg. itself in the parallel passage, 38:31, render by πλειάς, Pleiades, so that beyond doubt it is to be understood of the group of seven stars in the neck of Taurus (known in German as the “clucking hen”); comp. Amos 5:8.—And the chambers of the South;i.e., the secret rooms or spaces (penetralia) of the constellations of the southern heavens, which to the inhabitant of the northern zones are visible only in part, or not at all. In any case תֵּמָן (defectively written for תֵּימָן) points to the southern heavens, and since חֲדָרִים predominantly signifies “apartments, chambers, halls,” less frequently “store-rooms, reservoirs,” the reference to the “reservoirs of, the south wind” (LXX.: ταμεῖα νότου; some modern interpreters also, as Ges, etc.) is less natural, especially as the description continues to treat of the objects of the southern skies. [Dillmann, after recognizing the rendering of the LXX. as admissible, remarks: “On the other side the author certainly knew nothing of the constellations of the southern hemisphere; at the same time as one who had travelled (or at least: as one familiar with the results attained in his day by the observation of physical phenomena,—E.) he might well be acquainted with the fact that the further South men travel, the more stars and constellations are visible in the heavens; these are to the man who lives in the North, secluded as it were in the inmost chambers of the heavenly pavilion, and are for that reason invisible; it is of these ‘hidden spaces’ (Hirzel) of the South, with their stars, that we are here to think”].

Job 9:10. Who doeth great things, past finding out, and marvelous things without number: agreeing almost verbatim with what Eliphaz had said previously, Job 5:9, in describing the wondrous greatness of the Divine Power—an agreement, indeed, which is intentional, Job being determined to concede as fully as possible the affirmations of his friends respecting this point.

Fourth Strophe: Job 9:11-12. God puts forth this irresistible omnipotence not only in nature, both in earth and in heaven, but also in that which befalls individual human lives, as Job himself had experienced.—[“There is great skill in making Job touch merely the outstanding points, illuminate only with a single ray the heaven-reaching heights of the Divine power; that in itself is not his immediate theme—it is the crushing effect this power has on feeble man; and to this he hastens on with sudden strides.” Dav. “After the extended description [just given] of the Divine omnipotence (which Ewald wrongly characterizes as “altogether too much of a digression,” whereas it is entirely pertinent to the subject, and all that follows proceeds out of it), the short hasty glance which in this and the following verse is cast on miserable mortal Prayer of Manasseh, makes an impression so much the more pointed.” Schlottman.]

Job 9:11. Lo! [הֵן in this and the following verse, vividly descriptive, and also strongly individualizing himself as the victim of the irresistible omnipotence just described] He passes by me [and I see Him not; He sweeps before me, and I perceive Him not.—The imperfect verb for present, “being an exclamation of felt, though unseen, nearness of God.” Dav.—יחלף in Job 4:16 of “a spirit;” here of the Infinite Spirit, sweeping past him on His career of destruction.—E.] חלף, synonymous with עבו as in Job 4:15, forms an assonance with the parallel חתף of the following verse.

[Lo! He snatches away (scil. His prey)], who will hold Him back; or: “turn Him back” (יְשִׁיבֶנּוּ), viz. from His course: hence equivalent to: “who will put himself as an obstacle in His way?” (comp. Job 11:10; Job 23:13).

3. Second Division: The oppressive thought of God’s overwhelming and arbitrary power incites him, the innocent sufferer, to speak defiantly against God: Job 9:13-35.

First Section: Job 9:13-24 : A general complaint of the severity and arbitrariness with which God abuses the exercise of His illimitable omnipotence towards man.

First Strophe: [The mightiest cannot withstand Him, how much less I?]

[By some put in strophic connection with the verses preceding; but Job 9:12 appropriately closes the first division, while Job 9:13 is the basis of what follows. Observe especially the contrast between the “helpers of Rahab” in13b, and “I” in14a.—E.]—Eloah ceases not from His wrath [Eng. Ver. incorrectly begins with “if”]: lit. “does not cause it to return,” i.e. does not recall it [“it is as a storm wind sweeping all before it, or a mounting tide bearing down all resistance and strewing itself with wrecks.” Dav.].—An affirmation the decided one-sidedness of which sufficiently appears from other passages, e.g., from Psalm 78:38.—The helpers of Rahab stoop under Him.—So far as רַהַב in and of itself denotes only “a violent, insolent and stormy nature” (comp. Job 26:12), עֹזְרֵי־ר׳ may be simply rendered, as by Luther, Umbreit, and most of the older expositors: “insolent,” or “proud helpers” [and so E. V, Con, Dav, Hengst.]. But apart from the colorless, tame signification which thus results [to which add the vague generality of the description, weakening the contrast between13b and14a; and the incompleteness of the expression, whether we translate, “proud helpers,” which suggests the query—helpers of what? or “helpers of pride.”—E.], the Perf. שָׁחֲחוּ, lit. “have stooped,” leads us to conjecture a definite historical case [“a case of signal vengeance on some daring foe, who drew around him many daring helpers, would be more telling in this connection.” Dav.] Moreover רהב in fact appears elsewhere in a more concrete sense than that of “violent, presumptuous raging” (so also in Job 26:12, where see Com.). It signifies, to wit, as Isaiah 51:9; Psalm 89:11, 10] show, essentially the same with תַּנִּין, hence a sea-monster (κῆτος), and by virtue of this signification is used as a mythological and symbolical designation of Egypt (as well in the two passages just mentioned, as also in Isaiah 30:7 and Psalm 87:4), the same country which elsewhere also is symbolically designated as תַּנִּין or לִוְיָתָן. We are thus left to one of two significations for רהב in the present passage. We may, on the one hand, find in the passage a special reference to Egypt, and an allusion to some extraordinary event in the history of that country, whereby its rulers or allies were over-whelmed with defeat. In this case, it would be more natural with Hahn to think of the overthrow of Pharaoh and his mighty ones in the time of Moses [so Jarchi who understands by the “helpers” the guardian angels of the Egyptians, who came to their assistance, but were restrained by God], than with Olshausen to think of some unknown event in the history of Ancient Egypt, or even with Böttcher of the reign of Psammetich. Or, on the other hand, setting aside any special reference to Egypt, we can (with Ewald, Hirzel, Schlottmann, Delitzsch, Dillmann) regard it as an allusion to some legend, current among the nations of the East, according to which some gigantic sea-monster with its helpers was subdued by the Deity (comp. the Hindu myth of Indra’s victory over the dusky demon Britras). In favor of this interpretation may be urged the parallel passage in Job 26:12, which certainly contains no reference to Egypt, as well as the rendering of the LXX, kήτη τὰ ὑπ’ οὐρανόν, which evidently points to an old tradition of the correct interpretation. [“Jerome translates qui portant orbem, probably following a Jewish tradition concerning giants which had been overcome by God and sentenced to bear the pillars of the earth.” Schlott. Dillmann argues forcibly, that the common application of these three terms, תנין,רהב, and לויתן, to Egypt can be explained only by supposing that the first was related in signification to the other two names, being used like them of a sea-monster. He further remarks: “that the legend was widely known and possessed great vitality among the people is indicated by the fact that poets and prophets used it as a symbol of the imperial power of Egypt. It is not strange, accordingly, to find such a popular legend used for his purpose by a poet who elsewhere also derives his material on all sides from popular conceptions.”] Add that it is more natural to seek the basis of this legend of Rahab either in obscure reminiscences which lingered among the ancients touching the gigantic sea-monsters of the primitive world (plesiosauri, ichthyosauri, etc.), or in a symbolical representation of the billowy swelling of the raging ocean, resembling an infuriated monster, than to assign to it an astronomical basis, and to take רהב to be at the same time the name of a constellation such as Κῆτος or Πρίστις [Balæna Pistrix); for the context by no means points of necessity to such an astronomical application of the term (the mention of the constellations in Job 9:9 being too remote), and moreover in Job 26:12 there is nothing of the kind indicated, as Dillmann correctly observes, against Ewald, Hirzel, Delitzsch.

Job 9:14. How should I answer Him?—I, an impotent, weak, sorely suffering mortal. On אַף כִּי comp. Job 4:19; on עָנָה, “to answer, respond,” see above on Job 9:3.—Choose out my words against Him?i.e. weigh my words against Him (עִם as in Job 10:17; Job 11:5; Job 16:21) with such care and skill [the ה in אֶבְחֲרָה indicating the mental effort involved], that I should always hit on the right expression, and thus escape all censure from Him.

Job 9:15. Whom I (even) if I were in the right (צָדַקְתִּי, sensu forensi) [“innocent, judicially free from blame”], could not answer, I must make supplication to Him as my judge, viz. for mercy (התחנן with לְ as in Esther 4:8). The Partic. Poel מְשׁפֵט is not essentially different in signification from the Partic. Kal שֹׁפֵט, although it does differ somewhat from it, in so far as it denotes lit. an “assailant” or “adversary” (judicial opponent: שֹׁפֵט, [Poel, expressing aim, endeavor], judicando vel litigando aliquem petere, comp. Ewald, § 125, a). [“So overpowering is God’s might that Job would be brought in litigating with Him to the humiliation of beseeching His very adversary—an idea which sufficiently answers Conant’s charge, that to render מְשֹׁפֵטassailant has very little point.” Dav.]

Job 9:16. Should I summon Him, and He answered me (if accordingly the case supposed to be necessary in15b should actually happen, and be followed with results favorable to the suppliant), I would not believe that He would listen to me:i.e. I should not be able to repress the painful and awful though that Hebrews, the heavenly and all-powerful Judge of the world, would grant me no hearing at all. [“The answer of God when summoned is represented in Job 9:16 a as an actual result (præt. followed by fut. consec.), therefore Job 9:16 b cannot be intended to express: I could not believe that he answers me, but: I could not believe that Hebrews, the answerer, would hearken to me; His infinite exaltation would not permit such exaltation.” Delitzsch.] The whole verse is thus an advance in thought upon the preceding.

Second Strophe: Job 9:17-20. Continuing the description of Job’s utter hopelessness of victory in his controversy with God, clothed in purely hypothetical statements.

Job 9:17. He who would overwhelm me in a tempest, and multiply my wounds without cause;i.e., who would pursue me with assaults and calamities, even if I were innocent. [אֲשֶׁר may be taken either as relative, or as conj. “for,” (E. V. Con.) the one meaning really blends with the other, as in Job 9:15 = quippe qui]. With the rendering of יְשׁוּפֶנִּי here adopted, “would overwhelm me” (so also Vaih.) we can leave unsolved the question, so difficult of decision, whether, following the Aram. שְׁפָא, and the testimony of the Ancient Versions (LXX. ἐκτρίψῃ; Vulg. conteret), we render שוּף “to crush, to grind;” or, following the Arab, sâfa, and the Hebr. שָׁאַף; we render it “to snatch up, seize,” (inhiare). Hirzel, Ewald, Umbreit, Dillmann, favor the latter rendering; but on the other side Delitzsch successfully demonstrates that neither Genesis 3:15 nor Psalm 139:11 (the only passages outside of the present in which שׁוּף appears) necessarily requires the sense of “snatching,” certainly not that of “sniffing.”

Job 9:18. Would not suffer me to draw my breath (comp. Job 7:19), but would surfeit me with bitterness [lit. plur. “bitternesses”]. For כִּי in the sense of “but, rather,” comp. Job 5:7; for the form. מַמְּרֹרִים, with Dagh. dirimens [“which gives the word a more pathetic expression,” Del.], comp. Ges, § 20, 2, b.

Job 9:19. If it be a question of the strength of the strong [others (E. V. Conant, Carey, Schlott.) connect אַמִּיץ with the following הִנֵּה; but as the latter is always followed by the predicate, and such an exclamation in the mouth of God (see below) would be less natural than the simple interjection, the connection given in the text is to be preferred. The accents are not decisive,—E.]—lo, here (am I): [הִנֵה for הֵנִּנִי, as אַיֵּה Job 15:23, is for אַיּוֹ]—i.e. “would He say”: He would immediately present Himself, whenever challenged to a trial of strength with His human antagonist. Similar is the sense of the second member:—Is it a question of right who will cite me (before the tribunal); viz., “would He say.” [Whichever test of strength should be chosen, whether of physical strength in a trial-at-arms, or of moral strength, in a trial-at-law, what hope for weak and mortal man?—E.] The whole verse, consisting of two elliptical conditional clauses, with two still shorter concluding clauses (also hypothetical), reminds us in a measure by its structure of Romans 8:33-34.

Job 9:20. Were I (even) right, my mouth would condemn me:i.e., from simple confusion I should not know how to make the right answer, so that my own mouth (פּי, with logical accent on suffix, as in Job 15:6) would confess me guilty, though I should still be innocent—(צדק, as in Job 9:15).—Were I innocent—He would prove me perverse [וַיַּעְקְשֵׁנִי, with Chiriq of Hiphil shortened to Sheva: comp. Ges. § 53 [§ 52] Rem4]. The subject is “God,” not “my mouth” (Schlottmann) [Wordsworth, Davidson, Carey]; God would, even in case of my innocence, put me down as one עִקֵּשׁ, one morally corrupt, and to be rejected. “Thus brooding over the thought, true in itself, that the creature when opposed to the heavenly Ruler of the Universe must always be in the wrong, Job forgets the still higher and more important truth that God’s right in opposition to the creature is always the true objective right.” Delitzsch.

Third Strophe: Job 9:21-24. Open arraignment of God as an unrighteous Judges, condemning alike the innocent and the guilty.

Job 9:21. I am innocent! In thus repeating the expression תָּם אֲנִי, Job asserts solemnly and peremptorily that which in Job 9:20 b he had in the same words stated only conditionally.—I value not my soul:i.e., I give myself no concern about the security of my life, I will give free utterance to that confession, cost what it may. So rightly most commentators, while Delitzsch, against the connection (see especially the 2 d member) explains: “I know not myself, I am a mystery to myself, and therefore have no desire to live longer.” [Hengstenberg: “We might explain: ‘I should not know my soul,’ if I were to confess to transgressions, of which I know myself to be innocent; ‘I should despise my life,’ seeing I have nothing with which to reproach myself. Better however: ‘I know not my soul,’ so low is it sunk, I am become altogether alius a me ipso; ‘I must despise my life,’ I am so unspeakably wretched, that I must wish to die”].

Job 9:22. It is all one: thus beyond question must the expression אַחַת־הִיא be rendered; not: “there is one measure with which God rewards the good and the wicked” (Targ, Rosenm, Hirzel); nor: “it is all the same whether man is guilty or innocent” (Delitzsch).—Therefore I will say it out: [Dav. “I will out with it”]. He destroys the innocent and the wicked:viz., God, whom Job intentionally avoids naming; comp. Job 3:20.

Job 9:23-24. Two illustrations confirming the terrible accusation just brought against God ( Job 9:22 b) that He destroys alike the innocent and the guilty.

[E. V, Conant, Dav, Renan, Hengst, Carey, Rod, etc., give to מַסָּה here its customary sense of “trial,” from נסה. Jerome remarks that in the whole book Job says nothing more bitter than this.] The interpretation of Hirzel and Delitzsch, founded on Job 22:19 : “His desire and delight are in the suffering of the innocent,” gives a meaning altogether too strong, and not intended by the poet here.

[“In this second illustration there is an advance in the thought, in so far as here a part at least of the wicked are excepted from the general ruin, nay, appear even as threatening the same to the pious.” Schlott.]—A land [or better, because more in harmony with the sweeping and strong expressions here assigned to Job: the earth] is given over to [lit, into the hand of] the wicked, and the face of its judges He veileth:viz., while that continues, while the land is delivered to the wicked, so that they are able to play their wicked game with absolute impunity.—If (it is) not (so) now, who then does it?אֵפוֹ (so written also Job 17:15; Job 19:6; Job 19:23; Job 24:25, but outside of the book of Job generally אֵפוא) belongs according to the accents to the preceding conditional particles אִס־לֹא (comp. Job 24:25 and Genesis 27:37); lit, therefore, “now then if not, who does it?” [Hirz, Con. and apparently Ew. connect אֵפוֹ with the interrogative following—“who then?” quis quæso (Heiligst.) Davidson also takes this view, although admitting that “the accentuation is decidedly the other way,” אפואֹ being used, as he says, “in impatient questions (Ew, § 105, d) Genesis 27:33; Job 17:15; Job 19:23”]. That the present illustration of a land ill-governed and delivered into the hands of the wicked had, as Dillmann says, “its justification in the historic background of the composition,” cannot be affirmed with certainty in our ignorance of the details of this “historic background:” though indeed it is equally true that we can no more affirm the contrary.

4. Second Division.—Second Section: Job 9:25-35. Special application of that which is affirmed in the preceding section concerning God’s arbitrary severity to his (Job’s) condition.

First Strophe: [The swift flight of his days, and the unremitting pressure of his woes, make him despair of a release].

Job 9:25. For my days are swifter than a runner. [“וְ introducing a particular case of the previous general: in this infinite wrong under which earth and the righteous writhe and moan, I also suffer.” Dav.—“Days” here poetically personified. קַלּוּ, Perf, a deduction from past experience continuing in the present.—E.]. רָץ might, apparently, comparing this with the similar description in Job 7:6, denote a part of the weaver’s loom, possibly the threads of the woof which are wound round the bobbin, (which the Coptic language actually calls “runners”). This signification however is by no means favored by the usage elsewhere in Hebrew of the word רָץ: this rather yields the signification “swift runner, courier”(ἡμεροδρόμος) compare Jeremiah 51:31; 2 Samuel 15:1; 2 Kings 11:13; Esther 3:13; Esther 3:15.—They are fled away, without having seen good (טוֹבָה, prosperity, happiness, as in Job 21:25). Job thinks here naturally of the same “good,” which he (according to Job 7:7) would willingly enjoy before his end, but which would not come to him before then. He has thus entirely forgotten his former prosperity in view of his present state of suffering, or rather, he does not regard it as prosperity, seeing that he had to exchange it for such severe suffering. Quite otherwise had he formerly expressed himself to his wife, Job 2:10.

Job 9:26. They have swept past like skiffs of reed; lit, “with [עִם] skiffs of reed,” i.e., being comparable with them ( Job 37:18; Job 40:15). אֳנִיּוֹת אֵבָה are most probably canoes of rushes or reeds, the same therefore as the כְּלֵי גֹמֶא (“vessels of bulrush”) mentioned Isaiah 18:2, whose great lightness and swiftness are in that passage also made prominent. אֵבָה is accordingly a synonym, which does not elsewhere appear, of גמא, reed; for which definition analogy may also be produced out of the Arabic. It has however nothing to do with אֵב (so the Vulg, Targ.: naves poma portantes) [“fruit ships hurrying on lest the fruit should injure”]; nor with אָבָה, to desire, [“ships eagerly desiring to reach the haven”]. (Symm. νῆες σπεύδουσαι) comp. Gekatilia in Gesenius, Thes. Suppl, p62; nor with אֵיבָה, “enmity” (Pesh, “ships of hostility,” comp. Luther: “the strong ships,” by which are meant pirate ships); nor with the Abyssin. abâi, the name of the Nile; nor with a supposed Babylonian name of a river, having the same sound, and denoting perhaps the Euphrates (so Abulwalid, Rashi, etc., who make the name denote a great river near the region where the scene of our book is laid). The correct signification was given by Hiller, Hierophyt. II, p302, whom most modern critics have followed.—Like the eagle, which darts down on its prey(comp. Job 39:29; Proverbs 30:19; Habakkuk 1:8, etc.). This third comparison adds to that which is swiftest on the earth, and that which is swiftest in the water, that which is swiftest in the air, in order to illustrate the hasty flight of Job’s days.

Job 9:27-28. If I think (lit, if my saying be; comp. Job 7:13): I will forget my complaint (see on the same passage), will leave off my countenance (i.e. give up my look of pain, my morose gloomy-looking aspect, comp. 1 Samuel 1:18), and look cheerful (הבליג, as in Job 10:20; Psalm 39:14 ( Psalm 39:13) [the three cohortative futures here are, as Davidson says, “finely expressive—If I say—rousing myself from my stupor and prostration—I will, etc.”]; then I shudder at all my pains, I know that Thou wilt not declare me innocent.—These words are addressed to God, not to Bildad. Although Job felt himself to be forsaken and rejected by God, he nevertheless turns to Him; he does not speak of Him and about Him, without at the same time prayerfully looking up to Him.

Second Strophe: [He must be guilty, and all his strivings to free himself from his guilt are in vain.]

Job 9:29. I am to be guilty:i.e. according to God’s arbitrary decree [אֲנֹכִי, emphatic—I, I am accounted guilty, singled out for this treatment. The fut. ארשע here expressing that which must be, from which there is no escape.—E.] רָֹשַׁע here not “to act as a wicked or a guilty person” ( Job 10:15), but “to be esteemed, to appear” such, as in Job 10:7 (comp. the Hiph. הִרְשִׁיַע, to treat any one as guilty, to condemn, above in Job 9:20).—Wherefore then weary myself in vain, viz. to appear innocent, to be acquitted by God. This wearying of himself is given as an actual fact, consisting in humbly supplicating for mercy, as he had been repeatedly exhorted to do by Eliphaz and Bildad; Job 5:8; Job 5:17; Job 8:5.—הֶבֶל, adverbially, as in Job 21:34; Job 35:16; lit. like a breath, evanescent, here—“fruitlessly, for naught, in vain.” [That notwithstanding his present mood, he does subsequently renew his exertions, “impelled by an irresistible inward necessity, is psychologically perfectly natural.”—Schlottman.]

[The thought expressed by the two verses is that “not even the best-grounded self-justification can avail him, for God would still bring it to pass that his clearly proved innocence should change to the most horrible impurity.” Delitzsch.]

Third Strophe: [“The cause of Job’s inability to make out his innocence—not his guilt, but the character and conditions of his accuser,” who has no superior to overrule Him, to mediate between Him and Job. Let Him lay aside His terrors, and Job would plead his cause without fear.]

Job 9:32. For [He is] not a man like me, that I should answer Him:viz, before a tribunal, with a view to the settlement of the controversy. Hirzel translates אִיש כָּמֹגִי as though it were accusative to אֶעֱנֶנּוּ: “for I cannot answer Him as a man who is my equal;’ but this is altogether too artificial. [“God is not his equal standing on the same level with him. Hebrews, the Absolute Being, is accuser and judge in one person; there is between them no arbitrator, etc.” Delitzsch.]

Job 9:33. There is no arbiter between us who might lay his hand on us both: so that accordingly we should both have to betake ourselves to him, and accept his decision. מוֹכִיחַ is one who gives a decision, an arbitrator who weighs the pleas put in by both the contending parties, and pronounces the award. Not inaptly John Pye Smith, Four Discourses on the Sacrifice and priesthood of Jesus Christ, 5th Ed. p98: “There is between us no arguer, who might fully represent the cause, and state, judge and arbitrate fairly for each party.” Observe how emphatically is expressed here, although indeed only indirectly and negatively, the postulate of a true mediator and priestly proprietor between God and sinful humanity! [“It is singular how often Job gives utterance to wants and aspirations which under the Christian economy are supplied and gratified. It was the purpose of the writer to let us hear these voices crying in the wilderness, forerunning the complete manifestation of the Messiah, and therefore the Church is well authorized in using this language of Christ. Job out of his religious entanglement proclaimed the necessity of a mediator to humanize God two thousand years before he came.” Dav.] The optative form [“Would that there might be”] which the LXX. and the Pesh. give to the verse by changing לֹא to לוּ (לֻא), is unnecessary and disturbs the connection with the preceding verse [the thought of which is completed only in this verse. This rendering Isaiah, moreover, not suited to the יֵשׁ following. The jussive form יָשֵׁתdoes however reflect the yearning which breathes through his pathetic declaration of the fact that there is no arbiter.—E.].

Job 9:34-35 are related to each other as antecedent and consequent. The two optatives in Job 9:34 are followed by the cohortative אֲדַבְּרָה without וְ as the apodosis (comp. Ewald, § 347, b, 357, b).—Let Him take away from me His rod (with which He smites me, comp. Job 13:21, equivalent therefore to שׁוֹט, scourge, calamity, comp. Job 9:23), and let not His terror overawe [or stupefy] me (אֵמָתוֹ in the objective sense, that which is awful in His appearance, the terror which proceeds from His majestic presence): then will I speak without fear before Him; for not thus am I with myself:i.e. for not thus does it stand with me in my inward Prayer of Manasseh, I am not conscious of anything within me of such a character that I must be afraid before Him. עִם therefore points to that which is within, the consciousness or conscience, as in Job 10:13; Job 15:9; Job 23:14, etc. That לֹא כֵן here expresses so much as: “not so small, not so contemptible,” is a conjecture of Delitzsch’s, which is supported neither by the connection, nor by Hebrew usage elsewhere. [Delitzsch imagines the expression to be “accompanied by a gesture expressive of the denial of such contempt.” Not dissimilar in this respect is Renan’s explanation: “ ‘For in the depths of my heart I am not such as I seem.’ The conscience of Job is tranquil: the cause of his trouble is without himself. It is God, who by a treacherous maneuvre has arrayed against him His terrors, in order to take away from him the freedom of spirit necessary for his defense.”]

5. Third Division: Job 10.—A plaintive description of the pitiless severity with which God rages against him, although by virtue of His omniscience He knows his innocence.

Job 10:1-12 : Exordium ( Job 10:1) and First Double Strophe ( Job 10:2-12): developing the motive to this new complaint.

[“With brief preface of words which force themselves from the heart in three convulsive sobs (1 a b c), like the sparse large drops before the storm … the patriarch opens his cause in the ear of heaven.” Dav.]—My soul is weary of my life.—נָ‍ֽקְטָה, equivalent to נָקֹטָּה. Ezekiel 6:9, Perf. Niph. of קטט, which is synonymous with קוּט or קוּץ, to feel disgust. [Ges. and Fürst give a root נקט, from which Delitzsch also says it may be derived as a secondary verb formed from the Niph. נָקטֹ—a form which is also supported by the Aramaic] For the thought comp. Job 7:15-16; Job 9:21.—Therefore will I give free course to my complaint: עָלַי, lit. “with me, in me” (comp. Job 30:16; Psalm 42:6, 5], 12 11]; Jeremiah 8:18), not “over me.” [The cohortative futures are to be noted as expressive of the strength of Job’s feeling and purpose.] In regard to the rest of the verse [I will speak in the bitterness of my soul], comp. Job 7:11; Psalm 55:18, 17]. [“Job continues to believe that the boldness of his speech will be punished with death.” Renan.]

First Strophe: Job 10:2-11. An appeal to God not to deal so severely with him, seeing that his innocence is already well known to Him.

[“God’s dealing with Job was derogatory to the divine character, and dangerous and confounding to the interests of religion, and the first principles of religious men.”—Dav.]

Job 10:2. I will say to Eloah: condemn (comp. Job 9:20)me not. Observe that Job addresses this complaint also to God, like that in Job 9:28. Let me know wherefore Thou contendest with me (as adversary and judge (רִיב with Accus. as in Isaiah 27:8; Isaiah 49:25.

Job 10:3. Doth it please Thee that Thou oppressest, that Thou rejectest the work of Thy hands?—In this question Job touches on a first possibility which might be supposed to determine God to treat him as guilty. He inquires whether it may perchance “please” God, be agreeable to Him, give Him joy, thus to deal with himself. For הטוב לך in this sense, comp. Job 13:9; Deuteronomy 23:17, 16]. The interpretation adopted by Dillmann and others is also possible: “is it becoming for Thee,” etc., for which comp. Exodus 14:12; Judges 9:2.—[So besides Dillmann (who argues that this sense is better suited to the remonstrance with God), Ewald, Schlottmann, and Davidson, who says: “טוֹבdecet, not as others juvat. The argument is that God’s treatment of Job, a righteous Prayer of Manasseh, with such severity, was unbecoming a righteous God, and that the world expected other things, and that such things tended to the consternation of religious men, and the confusion of all fixed religious principles”]. Job here calls himself “the work of God’s hands,” not in order to excite sympathy in God, nor in order to touch, as it were, the honor of Him who had so elaborately and carefully formed him in his mother’s womb ( Psalm 139:15), but principally in order to call attention to his innocence, in order to indicate that he had essentially persevered in that status integritatis in which God had created him. [Job seems in this designation of himself to have had two things in view, closely associated in his mind, as the connection shows: first, the elaborate workmanship of his body (conveyed by the term יְגִיעַ, lit. the product of toilsome labor), which God had dishonored by the loathsome disease which He had sent upon him; and next the moral perfection, which he claimed still to possess, but which God had likewise dishonored by treating him as a sinner.—E.] This view is favored, not only by Job 10:7-8, but also by the circumstantial clause which immediately follows [shown to be a circumstantial clause by the fact that the verses following are the expansion of the preceding part of the verse]: While Thou shinest on the counsel of the wicked;i.e. favorest it, and causest it to succeed, comp. Psalm 31:17, 16]; 67:2 1]; Numbers 6:25.

Job 10:4. Hast Thou eyes of flesh (i.e., eyes limited to objects of sense, perceiving only the surface of things; comp. Isaiah 31:3), or seest Thou as man seeth?i.e., with a vision shortsighted and superficial as man’s (comp. 1 Samuel 16:7). By this question a second possible reason why God might be supposed to treat Job as guilty is indicated as being in reality out of the question; or, in other words: an appeal is taken to His omniscience, to His infallible knowledge of that which lies before Him in men’s hearts.

Job 10:5. Are Thy days as the days of a mortal, or Thy years as the days of a man?—A third possibility is here indicated: that God might be, like men, short-lived; that in general He might be, like them, a mortal, a limited, changeable creature. This third and last possible reason is obviously related to both the preceding (not simply to that which immediately precedes, as Welte and Hahn think) as cause to effect, or as that which is deepest and most fundamental to that which belongs rather to the outward appearance.

Job 10:6. That Thou (so zealously) seekest after my guilt, and searchest after my sins?i.e., that Thou doest what short-sighted men would do, seekest to extort from me the confession of a guilt which has escaped Thy vision, by the application of inquisitorial tortures, viz., by decreeing that I should suffer. [“Such a mode of proceeding may be conceived of in a mortal ruler, who, on account of his short-sightedness, seeks to bring about by severe measures that which was at first only conjecture, and who, from the apprehension that he may not witness that vengeance in which he delights, hastens forward the criminal process as much as possible, in order that his victim may not escape him. God, however, to whom belongs absolute knowledge and absolute power, would act thus, although,” etc. (see next verse). Delitzsch. And Schlottmann (after Wolfssohn) quotes the following from the Sifri on Deuteronomy 32:40 : “And I say, I live for ever. It is in my power at once to recompense the wicked, but I live for ever, and hasten not the retribution. A king of flesh and blood hastens the retribution, for he fears that he or his enemy may die, but I live for ever.”]

Job 10:7. Although Thou knowest (עַל here equivalent to “notwithstanding, although” [“lit. upon, or over and above, in addition to, in spite of”], as in Job 16:17; Job 34:6; Isaiah 53:9) that I am not guilty (comp. Job 9:29) and there is no one who delivers out of Thy handi.e., that Thou, in any case, whether we men are guilty or not, hast us completely in Thy power, and canst do with us what Thou wilt: hence Thou actest strangely in seeking so zealously for reasons why Thou shouldst condemn us.

Second Strophe. Job 10:8-12. The severe treatment which God inflicts on Job stands in cruel contradiction not only to His omniscience, but also to His paternal goodness and love. [“The feeling of contradiction between the Deity’s past and present rises ever in intensity in Job’s breast, and in amazement he sets the two in blank opposition to each other before God Himself—let Him reconcile Himself with Himself if He may. While there is fearful keenness of dialectic here, there is also irresistible tenderness of expostulation. The appeal is from God to God: Thy hands have made me, and Thou destroyest me.” Dav

Job 10:8. Thy hands have carefully formed and perfected me.—[“The hinge of connection with the last strophe is מִיָּדְךָ nor can deliver from Thy hand—Thy hands have made me.” Dav.]. The thought conveyed by the phrase יְגִיעַ כַּפֶּיךָ is here again resumed from Job 10:3 and expanded in a description in which there are several points of agreement with Psalm 139:13-16.—עִצְּבוּנִי, lit. “have carved me” (עִצֵּב, a Piel intensive, cognate with חצב,קצב), i.e., elaborately formed [“especially appropriate as describing the fashioning of the complicated nature of man.” Del.]. The following עָשָׂה bears the same relation to this עִצֵּב as perficere, consummare bears to the simple fingere. The clause added in b, יַחַד סָבִיב, “altogether round about” (Vulg.: me totum in circuitu) represents the fashioning and perfecting activity of God as concerned with man’s entire organism, including all his limbs and parts. [And yet (ו consec. with strong adversative sense) Thou destroyest me!—An exclamation of amazement and reproach.]

[That the Divine Arbitrariness, which is the conception held by a perverted mind of the Divine Sovereignty, enters into Job’s train of thought here is plain enough. But that it is the prominent notion may certainly be doubted. This is scarcely consistent with the urgent pathos of the plea: “Oh! remember that thou hast formed me as the clay!” The central thought as expressed by the verbs in Job 10:8, especially עִצֵּב, by the adverbial clause יַחַד סָבִיב, and by the detailed description of Job 10:10-11, is that of the exquisite elaborate workmanship involved in his creation, and the wonder that the Divine Artist should be so regardless of His work as wantonly to ruin it.—E.]

Job 10:10. Didst Thou not pour me out as milkviz.: in the act of conception, when my body received its development out of a purely liquid material.—[The Imperfects in this verse and the following have their time determined by the Perfects of Job 10:8-9. The use of the Imperf. may be explained with Ewald: “because the wonder is so vividly present to Job’s mind;” or, as Davidson expresses it: “Job again feels the Divine hand upon him.”—E.] And curdled me like cheese?—to wit, into the formless mass of the embryo, which in Psalm 139:16 is called גֹלֶם, but here is compared with גְבִינָה, i.e., cheese (lit. curd, the pap-like material of cheese not yet hardened, not “cream” (Schlott.) nor “whey” (Hahn and Ewald) [neither of these definitions being suitable for the reason that the material is not coagulated]). For הִתִּיךְ, to pour out, comp. 2 Kings 22:9 (likewise the Kal above in Job 3:24). “To pour into a mould” is a signification which belongs to the word neither here nor in the parallel passage just given (against Seb. Schmidt and Delitzsch): this would be rather נסךְ or יצק [“The development of the embryo was regarded by the Israelitish Chokma as one of the greatest mysteries.” Ecclesiastes 11:5; 2 Maccabees 7:22 sq. Del.]

Job 10:11. With skin and flesh Thou didst clothe me, and with bones and sinews Thou didst interweave me.—(שׂוֹכֵךְ from שׂוּךְ, Job 1:10, synonymous with סכך in the parallel passage, Psalm 139:13.) [The verse may be regarded as a continuation of the question in Job 10:10. So Con, Dav, etc.] Grotius rightly observes that the description here given of the development of the fœtus is in general true to nature, and corresponds to the actual process (hic ordo in genitura est: primum pellicula fit, deinde in ea caro, duriora paulatim accedunt). With equal correctness most modern expositors remark that this agreement of the description with the natural processes of conception and development is only of a general sort, and that the passage must not be pressed, as is done by Scheuchzer, Oetinger, etc. [as “including and going beyond all systemata generationis”] seeing that this is to attribute to the Holy Scriptures a purpose which is foreign to it.

Job 10:12. Life and favor [“this combination does not occur elsewhere.” Del.] hast Thou shown me (lit. “done to me”—עשׂה, referring at the same time by zeugma to the first object, “life”), and Thy oversight (Thy providence,) has preserved my breath: has done this, to wit, not only during the embryonic state, but through the whole time from my birth to the present. By רוּחַ are designated at the same time both the breath as the outward sign of life, and the spirit as its inward principle; comp. Job 17:1; Ecclesiastes 3:19.

Third Division. Second Half (Double Strophe). Job 10:13-22. Continuation of the complaint, and a further advance in the same to the point of wishing that he had never been born.

First Strophe. [God’s goodness in the past simulated, his secret purpose having from the first contemplated the infliction of suffering on Job, whether guilty or innocent.—E.]

Job 10:13. And (nevertheless) Thou didst hide these things in Thy heart.—[וְ strongly adversative: yet, notwithstanding all Thy care in my creation, and all Thy apparent kindness in the past, Thy hidden purpose all the time contemplated my destruction. The connection of this verse is evidently with what follows, and its place is at the beginning of the present strophe. אֵלֶּה and זֹאת cannot refer to the care and favor bestowed on him in his creation and preservation, for it could not be said of these that God had “hidden them in His heart;” they must refer to the present and coming manifestations of the Divine displeasure, which are about to be detailed, and which Job here charges as the consummation of God’s secret eternal plan.—E.] Since the discourse, after the mild conciliatory turn which it had taken in the last division, especially in Job 10:12, here evidently falls back into the bitter tone of complaint, it follows that the וְ at the beginning of this verse is to be taken adversatively. I know that this was in Thy mindi.e., that this determination had long been formed by Thee (זֹאת עִמָּךְ as in Job 23:14; Job 27:11), viz., to assail me, and visit me with the direst calamities, in the manner described in the following verses, 14–17.

Job 10:14. If I should sin, Thou wouldest watch me.—וּשְׁמַרְתָּנִי, lit, custodies me, here custoditurus eras me, as these verses in general exhibit that which, in Job’s opinion, God had long since determined, and had the disposition to do. שמר here moreover is not “to keep in remembrance, to bear anything in mind” (Stickel, Hirzel, Delitzsch, for then the accus, of the thing kept ought to have been expressed (comp. Proverbs 4:21; Proverbs 7:1).—The meaning is rather to watch one carefully, to hold under observation, rigide observare s. custodire aliquem; comp. Job 7:12; Job 13:27.

Job 10:15. If I should be wickedwoe unto me!—As is evident from this exclamation אללי לי, “woe unto me!” which takes the place of a clause expressing the consequence in the future, רשעתי is a stronger expression than חטאתי in the verse preceding. [“אללי very strongly expressive of terror or pain, Micah 7:1; words would fail to describe the violence of the punishment.” Dav. As much stronger therefore as אללי is than שמר, so much stronger, it may be inferred, is רשע here than חטא.—E.]. It must not therefore be weakened by rendering it (with Schlottmann and Olshausen) “being found guilty;” it expresses the idea of gross, presumptuous sinning, deserving of a punishment indescribably severe (here indicated only by an exclamation of woe).—And were I righteous (the opposite case of the two hitherto mentioned) I should not then (according to God’s plan and purpose) lift up my head:i.e., I should not dare to enjoy my righteousness, nor to profit toy my good conscience so as to look up with freedom and confidence: comp. Job 11:15; Job 22:26; Luke 21:28. Rather would he even then go his way like one who had an evil conscience: filled with shame, and in sight of my misery.—רְאֵה is either to be taken as constr. state of an adj. רָאֶה, not elsewhere occurring (of a like structure with קָשֶׁה,יָפֶה, etc., so Gesenius, Fürst, Welte, Hahn, Del. [Schult, Schlot, Dav.] etc.), or we are to read רֹאֶה (Piscator, Ewald, Hirz, Böttch, Dillm. [Ren, Hengst.] etc.): for to take it as Imper. [E. V, “therefore see thou mine affliction”] (De Wette), or as Infin. (Umbreit, Rosenm.) [Carey] makes the construction altogether too hard.

Job 10:16. And should it (my head) lift itself up:i.e., should I, although condemned by Thee, still exhibit a cheerful courage and a proud self-consciousness. This accordingly is not a new case, but an expansion of that just supposed in Job 10:15 b. On יִגְֹאֶה comp. Job 8:11; on the omission of אִם see Ewald, § 357, b.As a lion Thou wouldest (then) hunt me and again show Thy wondrous power in me: to wit, by means of the most exquisite tortures, and the most violent persecutions, with which Thou wouldest then visit me. [“Thou wast wonderful in my creation ( Job 10:8-12); and now Thou art wonderful in inventing new means of destroying me.” Words.]. כַּשַּׁחַל certainly belongs to God as the subj. addressed, not to Job as obj. (as Schlottmann [and Davidson] think). We find God in His anger compared to a beast of prey also in Job 16:9; He is in particular described as a lion tearing His prey in Hosea 5:14; Hosea 13:7; comp. Isaiah 31:4; Isaiah 38:13; Jeremiah 25:38; Lamentations 3:10; Amos 3:12. On the use of שׁוּב with a finite verb following to express the adverbial notion “again, repeatedly”—a construction similar to that above in Job 6:28—comp. Ewald, § 285, b. On תִּתְפַּלָּא, with final vowel â, although not in pause (as also in Numbers 19:12), see Ewald, § 141, c. [Ewald. who is followed by Davidson, finds in the details of the Divine Plan against Job as here unfolded “a cruel tetralemma, a fearful fourfold net,” to compass the ruin of Job whichever way he should turn. (1) Were he to err—and to err is human—God would watch him with the keenest eye, and punish him without pity. (2). Should he sin heinously, his punishment would be commensurate with his guilt, transcending all description. (3). Should he however be innocent he must still be doomed to bear about with him a guilty look, and seem and feel like a criminal. (4). Should he be unable from pride, or conscious innocence thus to belie his integrity, and dare to hold up his head, God would in His wrath hunt him like a lion.—The scheme is ingenious and plausible, and has not yet been successfully disproved. Schlottmann argues against it: (1). That the distinction it makes between רשע and חטא is forced, to which what has been said above is a sufficient answer. (2). That the mention in Job 10:15 of the possibility of being righteous along with that of being wicked is wholly superfluous! a remark which it is difficult to understand. Job is enumerating all the moral possibilities of his condition, and showing that whichever course he takes his Omnipotent Adversary is there to meet him with a flaming sword of vengeance. Assuming therefore Ewald’s view to be not unfounded, the following additional remarks suggest themselves concerning it1. In the first two hypotheses, in which the guilt of Job is assumed, the hypothetical element is made distinct and strong by the use of אִם; in the last two, which assume his innocence the אִם is omitted2. Each pair of hypotheses presents a climax, the second hypothesis being an advance upon the first, both in the protasis and apodosis; the fourth upon the third, especially in the apodosis.—E.].

Job 10:17. Thou wouldest renew Thy witnesses against me: i.e., ever cause new witnesses to appear against me, viz., ever new sufferings and calamities: comp. Job 16:8, where may be found the same personification of sufferings as witnesses which, in the eyes of men, ever rise up to testify against him and his innocence,—And increase Thy displeasure against me (עִם here the same as contra; comp. Job 13:19; Job 23:6; Job 31:13); ever new troops and an army against me. The phrase,חֲִליכוֹת וְצָבָא is not to be understood as a hendiadys, as if it denoted “ever new hosts, alternating hosts” [“with host succeeding host against me”: Con, Dav, Ren, Words, Schlott, Ges, Noy, etc.], for this idea would be more simply expressed by חֲלִיכוֹת צָבָא (against Hirzel and most moderns). Rather does צבא denote the main body of the army, while חֲלִֹיכוֹת, lit, “exchanges” are fresh advancing reserves, or reinforcements. With the former, the original main army, are compared Job’s principal sufferings, while the latter the reserve troops, denote the new species of pains and tortures with which God continually afflicts and vexes him (Job being represented as a fortress, the object of God’s hostile attack; comp. Job 19:12; Job 30:12). [חליכות stands first as being the prominent element, Job’s mind dwelling principally, though not altogether, on the new tortures with which God assailed him, as is evident also from תתדשׁ and תרב just before.—E.]. Moreover it will be seen that every verse—member from Job 10:14 to Job 10:18 inclusive ends in the vowel î, a fact already noted by Böttcher, which can scarcely be accidental. The impression that the Divine wrath has especial reference to the single individuality (the one 1) of the lamenting Job is strongly intensified by this continuous repetition of the rhyme from the pronominal inflection (Delitzsch).

Second Strophe: Job 10:18-22, consisting of two thoughts: a. Curse of his own existence

Job 10:18-19 (a condensed repetition of Job 3:11-16); b. Prayer for a short respite before going down into the dark realm of the dead (repeated out of Job 7:16-19).

Job 10:18. Why then didst Thou bring me forth out of the womb? I should have died, etc. “The Imperfects אוּבַל,אֶהְיֶח,אֶגוְעַ have a hypothetic coloring, being strictly the conclusion of a pre-supposition indicated by the preceding question. They indicate what would have happened, if God had not called him into being out of his mother’s womb, in his opinion, which Hebrews, as a wise Prayer of Manasseh, here puts in opposition to the Divine treatment” (Dillmann). [The Eng. Ver. “Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!” is feeble, and destroys the unity of the passage formed by this member, and the verse following, represented as above indicated by the three conditional Imperfects.—E.].

Job 10:19. הוּבַל expresses the idea of being borne in slow solemn procession, as is customary in burial; so also in Job 21:32.

Job 10:20. Are not my days few? Let Him cease then,—let Him let me alone.—Thus are the words to be rendered according to the K’thibh יֶחְדָּל and יָשִׁית not as a petition addressed to God, but as a request expressed concerning Him in the third person, as one who had withdrawn. The K’ri, in giving instead the Imperf. וַחֲדַל and וְשִׁית: “cease,” and “let me alone” (so also most of the Ancient Versions), [F. V.], is a change of the original text, suggested by Job 7:16, which passage is here imitated, although indeed only freely. [This use of the 3 d person here, following the K’thibh which undoubtedly is the correct reading, is a noticeable and masterly stroke, expressing the helpless, exhausted prostration of Job’s spirit at the close of his discourse.—The vehement Titanic energy of his previous defiance has expended itself: he no more ventures to stand up face to face with God, and with head uplifted pour forth his bitter remonstrances: he now lies low in the dust, panting with the weary strife, with no hope but in death, and with averted, down-cast eye, exclaims of God—“Let Him cease for a little while!” Another indication of his mental exhaustion is found in the fact that the remainder of his discourse is made to consist of a repetition of phrases from Job 7.—He can only repeat, mechanically almost, what he has said, although even in this there is inimitable pathos.—E.]. שִׁית מִן, to turn away the attention from any one, like שָׁעָה with מִן, Job 7:19; Psalm 39:14 [ Psalm 39:13]; to supply לֵב, or עֵינַיִם, or יָד (after Job 13:21) is not really necessary.—That I may be cheerful a little while, lit, look up brightly, as in Job 9:27; Psalm 39:14 [ Psalm 39:13]

Job 10:21. Before I go hence and return not: [second clause וְלֹא אָשוּב adverbial, = not to return]. Comp. Job 7:7-10. An צלמות, comp. on Job 3:6.

Job 10:22. Into the land of darkness, like to midnight.—So Ewald, Dillmann, etc., in order to express the idea of an intensified degree of darkness, indicated by אֹפֶל (lit, “covering”: see Job 3:6; Job 23:17; Job 28:3; Psalm 91:6).—Of the shadow of death, and of confusion.—לֹא סְרָרִים [סדריםἄπ. λεγ in the Old Testament, but a common word in the later Hebrew, Del.], lit, “no ranks,” i.e., disorder, chaotic confusion (Tohuvabohu, Genesis 1:2). For this use of לֹא, as a terse negation of the conception of a noun, like our prefix un-, or dis-, comp. Job 8:11; Job 26:2-3.—Where it is bright like midnight. וַתֹּפַע, lit, “so that it shines forth, is bright (comp. Job 3:4; Job 10:3). The subj. of this verb is certainly אֶרֶץ (Hirzel, Delitzsch, etc.); the neuter use of the fern. תפע is less probable. אֹפֶל here again signifying the most intense darkness, the most sunless gloom, (ipsum medullitium umbrœ mortis, ejusque intensissimum, Oetinger). “To be bright like midnight” (the direct opposite of Psalm 139:12) is a strong terribly vivid description of superlative darkness, as it rules in the under-world. Compare Milton’s: “not light, but darkness visible,” in his description of hell.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The fundamental thought, around which all the discussions of this new discourse of Job 3resolve, is that of absolute power in God, and of that power acting in a merciless arbitrary manner, entirely regardless of all human right and innocence. “He destroys the innocent as well as the guilty;”—such is the harsh utterance against God as a tyrant, raging in anger, trampling down all right under His feet ( Job 9:22), to which Job advances from the concession which he has previously made to both his opponents, that God’s action is always and uniformly just (comp. Exeget and Crit. Rem’s, No1). He concedes to them, especially to Bildad, without further question: “what God does must be right, just because God, the Righteous One, does it.” But with bitter sarcasm he resolves this into the proposition: “God does just what He pleases, whether it is really righteous or not!” Thus, instead of the God of absolute justice, whom the friends had held up before him and defended (in a way that was one-sided and narrow enough, to be sure), he forms for himself a gloomy, horrible representation of a God of absolute power, who rules and directs not according to objective standards of right, but according to the promptings of an arbitrary will, subject to no restraint. It is the θεὸς δίκαιος of Marcion, who is absolutely and in essence disjoined from all kindness and love; nay, more, it is the God of the pre-destinatianists and extreme (supra-lapsarian) Calvinists, disposing of the destinies of men in accordance with an unconditional, arbitrary decree (decretum absolutum), irrespective of all moral worthiness or unworthiness—such is the Being whom Job here delineates, and before whose hostile assaults on his person, guiltless as he knows himself to be, he recoils in shuddering anguish. Instead of dwelling as he had formerly done ( Job 2:10) on the remembrance of the manifold goodness which he had experienced from God, and bowing in patience beneath His hand, and confidently awaiting the explanation in the near or remote future of the dark destiny which according to an inscrutable decree overshadowed him, he here thrusts away from himself all such comfort, writhes like a worm under the crushing pressure of that horrible spectre into which his perverted imagination had transformed the only just and holy God, imputes to Him the severe treatment which although innocent he had endured as a long-cherished and well-contrived plan (ch10:13–17), and finally relapses into that tone of deepest despair and most disconsolate woe which he had heretofore struck upon, by cursing his existence ( Job 10:18 seq.) and beseeching God for just one thing—that before he should depart hence into the eternally dark and joyless Hereafter, He would once again let him alone, that he might have one short last respite in this life. In short it is the sorely tried sufferer, who is not indeed really forsaken by God, but who has nevertheless given himself up, who here pours out his grief without restraint in a lamentation which is at the same time throughout an arraignment of God. Comp. Luther in his Preface to our book: “For before that Job Cometh into the pangs of death, he praiseth God concerning the spoiling of his goods, and the death of his children. But when death is before his eyes, and God withdraweth Himself, then do his words show what manner of thoughts a Prayer of Manasseh, however holy he be, may have against God; how it seemeth to him that God is not God, but a mere judge and an angry tyrant, who exerciseth His power, and careth for no man’s well-being. This is the most extreme part of this book. Only those can understand it, who also feel and know what it is to endure God s wrath and judgment, and to have His mercy hid from them.”

2. Under the rough shell of this abstract predestinatianist way of thinking, the discourse conceals a rich store of glorious religious truths, and powerful testimonies in behalf of a living saving faith, which show to us that Job has been sorely afflicted indeed, but not rejected; nay, more, that bright beams of Divine light pierce the thick darkness, and line with glory the edges of the black clouds of doubt which have come between him and the gracious face of his Heavenly Father. As Brentius beautifully says: “Here you have the blasphemies of hell, into which those are tempted who are for any time judicially forsaken by the Lord;… but Job argues his cause according to his feelings: for in such dread of the judgment as possesses him he feels God to be not a Father, but an executioner.… But Mark, at this point the faith of Job lifts up its head even in the midst of judgment! For as Christ, our Lord, when cast into the midst of hell, cries out that He is forsaken, yet at the same time acknowledges God to be His God—for He says: My God, why hast Thou forsaken me? so Job, overwhelmed with all evils, wondering how God, who was before so generous, can now be so cruel a Judges, recounts in the spirit of faith the mercies of the past from the time before his birth until his growth to manhood; for unless a spark of faith had been left in him, he would not have been able to recognize the mercies which he enumerates ( Job 10:8-12).” Among these testimonies to the fact that in the midst of all the darkness and judicial terrors which assailed him he still maintained his faith, may be mentioned:

a. The glorious description which he gives in Job 9:5-12 of the Omnipotence and greatness of God, as the same is manifested in the works of His creation, both on earth and in heaven—one of the most elevated descriptions which the poetic literature of the Old Testament has anywhere produced on this topic.

b. The strikingly beautiful description which he gives of the special care and the infinite skill and wisdom exercised by the providence of God in its influence on man’s generation, on the earliest development of the individual human life in the womb, and on every subsequent stage of that development up to mature manhood: Job 10:8-12.—This, too, like the former, is one of the noblest contributions of this book to physico-theology, and to the Bible doctrine of the creation of the individual human life, and of the origin of the soul. Like the parallel passage in Psalm 139:13-16, this description seems decidedly to favor the theory of creationism, according to which the generation of each individual man presupposes a concurrent act of immediate creation on the part of the Divine omnipotence (comp. Lactantius. De opif Dei, c. 19). At the same time it is evident, especially from Job 10:10, with the strong emphasis which it lays on the participation of the parents in the origination of the human organism, that the fundamental idea of traducianism, or generationism, is not foreign to the writer’s thought, but is to be included in it as a presupposition which is not to be ignored. So then these two methods of representation, that of creationism and that of generationism, must always and everywhere go hand in hand, mutually supplementing and rectifying one another, (comp. Nitzsch, Syst. of Christ. Doct. § 107, Rem2; Rothe, Elk. § 124, Rem1; Frohschammer, Ueber Ursprung der menschlichen Seele, 1854).

c. Again, the absolute superiority of the Divine intelligence to the human, and hence the infinite knowledge and unapproachable wisdom of God, are described in Job 9:3-4 (comp. Job 9:14 seq.; Job 10:4) with an impressive power and beauty, rivalling the most important of those Old Testament passages (e.g. Psalm 139.) where this theme is unfolded.

d. When in contrast with all this Job comes to speak of the weakness, vanity, and transitoriness of human existence, his words are not less impressive and eloquent. They resemble (especially Job 9:25 seq. “For my days are swifter than a runner, etc.”, comp. Job 10:20. “Are not my days few,” etc.) those passages in Job’s earlier Lamentations, at the beginning of Job 7, where he describes the transiency and vanity of man’s life on earth; but they also resemble similar passages in the preceding discourses of Eliphaz and Bildad. Thus it is that this complaint over the hasty flight and the misery of human life, presents itself as a constant theme with all the speakers of this book, and is indeed a characteristic property of all the Chokmah poets and teachers of the Old Testament generally.

e. With this repeated emphasizing of human weakness is closely connected the prominence given to the consciousness, characteristic of the Old Testament stand-point of faith and life, of such superiority in God over man as makes it absolutely impossible for the latter to contend, or to come into comparison with Him, there being no arbiter or judicial mediator between both ( Job 9:32 seq.). The recognition of this both indirectly postulates such a mediator and prompts to an expression of the yearning felt for him; comp. above on Job 9:33.

f. Finally, it is a noticeable trait of Job’s profound piety that repeatedly, in the midst of his sorrowful complaint, he addresses himself directly to God. Indeed, from Job 9:28 on, he no longer speaks in the third person of God, but in the second person to Him. This tone of entreaty, which the sorely afflicted sufferer maintains, even where he utters the bitterest complaints and accusations against God, is instructive in regard to that which should be regarded as in general the fundamental frame of his soul (comp. on Job 9:28, and on Job 10:2). According to this, he appears as one whom God had in truth not forsaken, but only afflicted for the sake of proving him. Indeed, far from being objectively forsaken of God, he is not once guilty of forsaking God in the subjective sense (i.e. in a spirit of self-will, through doubt, disobedience or open apostasy). In the inmost depths of his praying heart, he does not once believe that he is forsaken or rejected by God; he only fears such a doom in passing, but every time springs shuddering back with hope, or at least with longing to God, and (like a child, severely chastised, which nevertheless knows no other refuge and no other comfort than may be found with its father) does not stop clinging to the Heavenly Author of his being, ever renewing his complaints and petitions to Him for help. “It is true that Job, so long as he regards his sufferings as a dispensation of divine judgment, is as unjust towards God as he believes God to be unjust towards him; but if we bear in mind that this state of conflict and temptation does not preclude the idea of a temporal withdrawal of faith, and that, as Baumgarten (Pentat. i209) aptly expresses it, the profound secret of grayer is this, that man can prevail with the Divine Being, then we shall understand that this dark cloud need only be removed, and Job again stands before the God of love as His saint” (Del.).

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The survey given above (No2 a-f) of those portions of the preceding section having the greatest doctrinal and ethical value will show where the most fruitful themes for homiletic discussion may be found. In any case the separate treatment of these themes commends itself in proportion to the richness of their contents and their high significance, in preference to the homiletic treatment of the whole discourse through all its length as a unit. If a comprehensive text is sought for, either one of the three sections, into which the whole discourse is divided, may be chosen. Or combining the first two sections into one of greater length, the division by chapters may be followed. In this case the theme of a homily on Job 9. might run: “The saint of the Old Testament groaning under the pressure of the Divine omnipotence, not having as yet the consciousness of an atonement.” The theme for Job 10. might be stated: “The pious sufferer of the Old Testament on the brink of despair,” or “wavering between a child-like, thankful, trustful recognition of the Father-love of God ( Job 10:8-12) and disconsolate complaint because of His apparent merciless severity.”—As shorter texts the following present themselves: Job 9:2-12—God’s Omnipotence; Job 9:13-24—The apparent injustice of the Divine government of the world; Job 9:25-35—The cheerless and helpless condition of the suffering righteous under the Old Dispensation, who as yet knew no mediator between God and men; Job 10:1-7—The contradiction which shows itself between the fact of God’s omniscience, and that of the innocent suffering of the godly; Job 10:8-12.—God’s fatherly love, and His merciful all-including care as exhibited in the creation and preservation of human life; Job 10:13-22.—God as the hostile persecutor of the sufferer, who fancies himself to be forsaken by Him, and who is deprived of all earthly comfort.

Particular Passages

Job 9:5 sq.: Oecolampadius: The levelling of mountains, the shakings of the earth, eclipses of the sun and of the stars, and in short the movements of the universe are testimonies to the power of God. It must needs be that He is mighty who hurls mountains into the sea with such ease, that it is scarcely noticed.… Hence believers derive the hope that nothing is so terrible or so grievous but God can alleviate it, especially when He says: “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove” ( Matthew 17:20). By which saying it is testified that the highest power belongs to those who believe.—Starke: If God has the power to remove mountains, He certainly has the power to deliver out of all troubles ( Psalm 50:25).—The heavens are a mirror of the infinite and incomprehensible Wisdom of Solomon, Goodness and Omnipotence of God. Even the heathen have learned from their reflections, that there must be a supreme intelligent Being, who rules over all. Every star is our schoolmaster, and testifies to us that there is a God.

Job 9:10 sq. Brentius: God’s judgments are hidden: at first sight they seem to men either unjust or foolish, but in the end His counsel is understood, and His back is seen, though not His face ( Jeremiah 18:17).… Hence if God should pass before thee, i.e. if He should carry on some wondrous work before thine eyes, although at first thou shouldst be ignorant what it Isaiah, or what He wills by His wonderful work, nevertheless thou canst not doubt in the least that He is good and wise and just.—Tuebing. Bible: God as omnipresent is continually around us and with us, although we see Him not.—Osiander: Although God is without the least varying disposed towards us as a Father, it may nevertheless seem to us in trouble as though He had changed towards us ( Psalm 67:10; Isaiah 64:16).

Job 9:21 sq. Zeyss: Although it seems to pious believers when in deep affliction and trial, as though God observed no measure and no discrimination in the infliction of punishment, it is nevertheless not so with Him; but such thoughts proceed from flesh and blood, yea, they are temptations of Satan (comp. Brentius above, Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks, No2).—Hengstenberg: To this result (viz. of regarding God as the author of evil and as absolutely unjust) we must come in our investigation of evil, if we look at the subject with carnal eyes. The matter looks differently, however, to him who is capable of spiritual discernment, which is true only of him who can bring his own processes and experiences into accord with God’s justice. He sees that the triumph of evil is always only apparent and transient, only the means of preparing the way for the triumph of the good. He sees that the righteous need suffering for temptation and purification, that so long as sin dwells in them, they cannot yet be exalted to glory, but that, as the Apostle says of himself, they must be “troubled on every side, yet not distressed” ( 2 Corinthians 4:8); otherwise they would soon be a dead reed. “The staff of affliction beats our loins down to the grave,” etc, etc.

Job 9:30 seq. Œcolampadius: The most potent kind of comfort is that which comes from a pure conscience, which is as it were a perpetual outcry. But neither from that do we derive any benefit, if we look back at our works. For we shall never thus be purified, who in the strict judgment of God would be pronounced abominable, and defiled with filth.—Zeyss: The guilt of sin can be washed away by no snow-water, ye, or soap, i.e., by no outward works, or self-elected service of God, or papistic holy water. It is quite another washing that serves for that, to wit, the blood of Jesus Christ; 1 John 1:7.

Job 9:33. œcolamvadius: Without Christ we are such creatures as Job has described above. If however Christ is our arbiter and mediator ( 1 Timothy 2:5) He Himself will remove the rod.

Job 10:2 seq. Hengstenberg: The needless and aimless cruelty towards an innocent person, of which Job accuses God, seems all the more inexcusable if this innocent one is at the same time wholly helpless. It would be revolting to see omnipotence sporting with impotence.—To such cheerless results are we driven, when, like Job, we look into ourselves as into a golden cup. If in severe suffering we fail to recognize our own darkness, the Father of Lights must change into darkness.

Job 10:8 seq. Cramer: In affliction there is no better comfort than to remember that we are sprung from God ( Psalm 22:10).—Chr. Scriver (in the hymn: “Jesu, meiner Seele Leben”):

“Thy loving-kindness was around me flung,

Ere yet the world did lie around my way;

On Thee in my weak infancy I hung,

While helpless on my mother’s breast I lay.

• • • • • • •

Along the wayward paths of early youth

Thy loving-kindness ever followed me.

• • • • • • •

It is in Thee each moment I do live,

Thy Spirit ever with me doth abide;

All that I have is but what Thou dost give,

Thy light has ever been my journey’s guide.”

Hengstenberg: It is worthy of note, what a fund of knowledge of God Job still possesses, even when he seems to have completely forsaken God. With one who is penetrated, as he Isaiah, by the consciousness that every whiff of breath belongs to God, faith must, sooner or later, fight its way through all temptations and dark clouds.

Job 10:13 seq. Cramer: God does not afflict and trouble men willingly ( Lamentations 3:33), and although in affliction He seems to frown, He yet smiles on us in His heart. He stands behind the wall, and looks through the lattice; Song of Solomon 2:9.—Hengstenberg: Nothing tends more strongly to lead human nature astray, than the discovery that one whom you have been accustomed to love and to honor as your benefactor, has used his beneficence only as means to gratify the deepest malignity. Job thinks that his experience in relation to God is of this character. How under such circumstances must the Fountain of all consolation be changed into a poisonous spring!

Job 10:18 seq. Osiander: His great ingratitude if we do not thank God for the use of light in this life; and it is a heathenish speech to say—it were best never to have been born, or to have died immediately after birth.—Zeyss (on Job 10:20 seq.): Terrible as are death and the grave to natural eyes, they are no less sweet and comforting to the eyes of faith ( Luke 2:29; Philippians 1:21).—Starke: Those who are tried are wont to long greatly that God, if He will not altogether remove their suffering, would yet send some relief ( Isaiah 38:14).—Vict. Andreae: Do we not see in these two chapters (9. and10.) how the human heart in truth wavers to and fro between the proudest presumption and the most pusillanimous despair?

5. Third Division: Job 10.—A plaintive description of the pitiless severity with which God rages against him, although by virtue of His omniscience He knows his innocence.

Job 10:1-12 : Exordium ( Job 10:1) and First Double Strophe ( Job 10:2-12): developing the motive to this new complaint.

[“With brief preface of words which force themselves from the heart in three convulsive sobs (1 a b c), like the sparse large drops before the storm … the patriarch opens his cause in the ear of heaven.” Dav.]—My soul is weary of my life.—נָ‍ֽקְטָה, equivalent to נָקֹטָּה. Ezekiel 6:9, Perf. Niph. of קטט, which is synonymous with קוּט or קוּץ, to feel disgust. [Ges. and Fürst give a root נקט, from which Delitzsch also says it may be derived as a secondary verb formed from the Niph. נָקטֹ—a form which is also supported by the Aramaic] For the thought comp. Job 7:15-16; Job 9:21.—Therefore will I give free course to my complaint: עָלַי, lit. “with me, in me” (comp. Job 30:16; Psalm 42:6, 5], 12 11]; Jeremiah 8:18), not “over me.” [The cohortative futures are to be noted as expressive of the strength of Job’s feeling and purpose.] In regard to the rest of the verse [I will speak in the bitterness of my soul], comp. Job 7:11; Psalm 55:18, 17]. [“Job continues to believe that the boldness of his speech will be punished with death.” Renan.]

First Strophe: Job 10:2-11. An appeal to God not to deal so severely with him, seeing that his innocence is already well known to Him.

[“God’s dealing with Job was derogatory to the divine character, and dangerous and confounding to the interests of religion, and the first principles of religious men.”—Dav.]

Job 10:2. I will say to Eloah: condemn (comp. Job 9:20)me not. Observe that Job addresses this complaint also to God, like that in Job 9:28. Let me know wherefore Thou contendest with me (as adversary and judge (רִיב with Accus. as in Isaiah 27:8; Isaiah 49:25.

Job 10:3. Doth it please Thee that Thou oppressest, that Thou rejectest the work of Thy hands?—In this question Job touches on a first possibility which might be supposed to determine God to treat him as guilty. He inquires whether it may perchance “please” God, be agreeable to Him, give Him joy, thus to deal with himself. For הטוב לך in this sense, comp. Job 13:9; Deuteronomy 23:17, 16]. The interpretation adopted by Dillmann and others is also possible: “is it becoming for Thee,” etc., for which comp. Exodus 14:12; Judges 9:2.—[So besides Dillmann (who argues that this sense is better suited to the remonstrance with God), Ewald, Schlottmann, and Davidson, who says: “טוֹבdecet, not as others juvat. The argument is that God’s treatment of Job, a righteous Prayer of Manasseh, with such severity, was unbecoming a righteous God, and that the world expected other things, and that such things tended to the consternation of religious men, and the confusion of all fixed religious principles”]. Job here calls himself “the work of God’s hands,” not in order to excite sympathy in God, nor in order to touch, as it were, the honor of Him who had so elaborately and carefully formed him in his mother’s womb ( Psalm 139:15), but principally in order to call attention to his innocence, in order to indicate that he had essentially persevered in that status integritatis in which God had created him. [Job seems in this designation of himself to have had two things in view, closely associated in his mind, as the connection shows: first, the elaborate workmanship of his body (conveyed by the term יְגִיעַ, lit. the product of toilsome labor), which God had dishonored by the loathsome disease which He had sent upon him; and next the moral perfection, which he claimed still to possess, but which God had likewise dishonored by treating him as a sinner.—E.] This view is favored, not only by Job 10:7-8, but also by the circumstantial clause which immediately follows [shown to be a circumstantial clause by the fact that the verses following are the expansion of the preceding part of the verse]: While Thou shinest on the counsel of the wicked;i.e. favorest it, and causest it to succeed, comp. Psalm 31:17, 16]; 67:2 1]; Numbers 6:25.

Job 10:4. Hast Thou eyes of flesh (i.e., eyes limited to objects of sense, perceiving only the surface of things; comp. Isaiah 31:3), or seest Thou as man seeth?i.e., with a vision shortsighted and superficial as man’s (comp. 1 Samuel 16:7). By this question a second possible reason why God might be supposed to treat Job as guilty is indicated as being in reality out of the question; or, in other words: an appeal is taken to His omniscience, to His infallible knowledge of that which lies before Him in men’s hearts.

Job 10:5. Are Thy days as the days of a mortal, or Thy years as the days of a man?—A third possibility is here indicated: that God might be, like men, short-lived; that in general He might be, like them, a mortal, a limited, changeable creature. This third and last possible reason is obviously related to both the preceding (not simply to that which immediately precedes, as Welte and Hahn think) as cause to effect, or as that which is deepest and most fundamental to that which belongs rather to the outward appearance.

Job 10:6. That Thou (so zealously) seekest after my guilt, and searchest after my sins?i.e., that Thou doest what short-sighted men would do, seekest to extort from me the confession of a guilt which has escaped Thy vision, by the application of inquisitorial tortures, viz., by decreeing that I should suffer. [“Such a mode of proceeding may be conceived of in a mortal ruler, who, on account of his short-sightedness, seeks to bring about by severe measures that which was at first only conjecture, and who, from the apprehension that he may not witness that vengeance in which he delights, hastens forward the criminal process as much as possible, in order that his victim may not escape him. God, however, to whom belongs absolute knowledge and absolute power, would act thus, although,” etc. (see next verse). Delitzsch. And Schlottmann (after Wolfssohn) quotes the following from the Sifri on Deuteronomy 32:40 : “And I say, I live for ever. It is in my power at once to recompense the wicked, but I live for ever, and hasten not the retribution. A king of flesh and blood hastens the retribution, for he fears that he or his enemy may die, but I live for ever.”]

Job 10:7. Although Thou knowest (עַל here equivalent to “notwithstanding, although” [“lit. upon, or over and above, in addition to, in spite of”], as in Job 16:17; Job 34:6; Isaiah 53:9) that I am not guilty (comp. Job 9:29) and there is no one who delivers out of Thy handi.e., that Thou, in any case, whether we men are guilty or not, hast us completely in Thy power, and canst do with us what Thou wilt: hence Thou actest strangely in seeking so zealously for reasons why Thou shouldst condemn us.

Second Strophe. Job 10:8-12. The severe treatment which God inflicts on Job stands in cruel contradiction not only to His omniscience, but also to His paternal goodness and love. [“The feeling of contradiction between the Deity’s past and present rises ever in intensity in Job’s breast, and in amazement he sets the two in blank opposition to each other before God Himself—let Him reconcile Himself with Himself if He may. While there is fearful keenness of dialectic here, there is also irresistible tenderness of expostulation. The appeal is from God to God: Thy hands have made me, and Thou destroyest me.” Dav

Job 10:8. Thy hands have carefully formed and perfected me.—[“The hinge of connection with the last strophe is מִיָּדְךָ nor can deliver from Thy hand—Thy hands have made me.” Dav.]. The thought conveyed by the phrase יְגִיעַ כַּפֶּיךָ is here again resumed from Job 10:3 and expanded in a description in which there are several points of agreement with Psalm 139:13-16.—עִצְּבוּנִי, lit. “have carved me” (עִצֵּב, a Piel intensive, cognate with חצב,קצב), i.e., elaborately formed [“especially appropriate as describing the fashioning of the complicated nature of man.” Del.]. The following עָשָׂה bears the same relation to this עִצֵּב as perficere, consummare bears to the simple fingere. The clause added in b, יַחַד סָבִיב, “altogether round about” (Vulg.: me totum in circuitu) represents the fashioning and perfecting activity of God as concerned with man’s entire organism, including all his limbs and parts. [And yet (ו consec. with strong adversative sense) Thou destroyest me!—An exclamation of amazement and reproach.]

[That the Divine Arbitrariness, which is the conception held by a perverted mind of the Divine Sovereignty, enters into Job’s train of thought here is plain enough. But that it is the prominent notion may certainly be doubted. This is scarcely consistent with the urgent pathos of the plea: “Oh! remember that thou hast formed me as the clay!” The central thought as expressed by the verbs in Job 10:8, especially עִצֵּב, by the adverbial clause יַחַד סָבִיב, and by the detailed description of Job 10:10-11, is that of the exquisite elaborate workmanship involved in his creation, and the wonder that the Divine Artist should be so regardless of His work as wantonly to ruin it.—E.]

Job 10:10. Didst Thou not pour me out as milkviz.: in the act of conception, when my body received its development out of a purely liquid material.—[The Imperfects in this verse and the following have their time determined by the Perfects of Job 10:8-9. The use of the Imperf. may be explained with Ewald: “because the wonder is so vividly present to Job’s mind;” or, as Davidson expresses it: “Job again feels the Divine hand upon him.”—E.] And curdled me like cheese?—to wit, into the formless mass of the embryo, which in Psalm 139:16 is called גֹלֶם, but here is compared with גְבִינָה, i.e., cheese (lit. curd, the pap-like material of cheese not yet hardened, not “cream” (Schlott.) nor “whey” (Hahn and Ewald) [neither of these definitions being suitable for the reason that the material is not coagulated]). For הִתִּיךְ, to pour out, comp. 2 Kings 22:9 (likewise the Kal above in Job 3:24). “To pour into a mould” is a signification which belongs to the word neither here nor in the parallel passage just given (against Seb. Schmidt and Delitzsch): this would be rather נסךְ or יצק [“The development of the embryo was regarded by the Israelitish Chokma as one of the greatest mysteries.” Ecclesiastes 11:5; 2 Maccabees 7:22 sq. Del.]

Job 10:11. With skin and flesh Thou didst clothe me, and with bones and sinews Thou didst interweave me.—(שׂוֹכֵךְ from שׂוּךְ, Job 1:10, synonymous with סכך in the parallel passage, Psalm 139:13.) [The verse may be regarded as a continuation of the question in Job 10:10. So Con, Dav, etc.] Grotius rightly observes that the description here given of the development of the fœtus is in general true to nature, and corresponds to the actual process (hic ordo in genitura est: primum pellicula fit, deinde in ea caro, duriora paulatim accedunt). With equal correctness most modern expositors remark that this agreement of the description with the natural processes of conception and development is only of a general sort, and that the passage must not be pressed, as is done by Scheuchzer, Oetinger, etc. [as “including and going beyond all systemata generationis”] seeing that this is to attribute to the Holy Scriptures a purpose which is foreign to it.

Job 10:12. Life and favor [“this combination does not occur elsewhere.” Del.] hast Thou shown me (lit. “done to me”—עשׂה, referring at the same time by zeugma to the first object, “life”), and Thy oversight (Thy providence,) has preserved my breath: has done this, to wit, not only during the embryonic state, but through the whole time from my birth to the present. By רוּחַ are designated at the same time both the breath as the outward sign of life, and the spirit as its inward principle; comp. Job 17:1; Ecclesiastes 3:19.

Third Division. Second Half (Double Strophe). Job 10:13-22. Continuation of the complaint, and a further advance in the same to the point of wishing that he had never been born.

First Strophe. [God’s goodness in the past simulated, his secret purpose having from the first contemplated the infliction of suffering on Job, whether guilty or innocent.—E.]

Job 10:13. And (nevertheless) Thou didst hide these things in Thy heart.—[וְ strongly adversative: yet, notwithstanding all Thy care in my creation, and all Thy apparent kindness in the past, Thy hidden purpose all the time contemplated my destruction. The connection of this verse is evidently with what follows, and its place is at the beginning of the present strophe. אֵלֶּה and זֹאת cannot refer to the care and favor bestowed on him in his creation and preservation, for it could not be said of these that God had “hidden them in His heart;” they must refer to the present and coming manifestations of the Divine displeasure, which are about to be detailed, and which Job here charges as the consummation of God’s secret eternal plan.—E.] Since the discourse, after the mild conciliatory turn which it had taken in the last division, especially in Job 10:12, here evidently falls back into the bitter tone of complaint, it follows that the וְ at the beginning of this verse is to be taken adversatively. I know that this was in Thy mindi.e., that this determination had long been formed by Thee (זֹאת עִמָּךְ as in Job 23:14; Job 27:11), viz., to assail me, and visit me with the direst calamities, in the manner described in the following verses, 14–17.

Job 10:14. If I should sin, Thou wouldest watch me.—וּשְׁמַרְתָּנִי, lit, custodies me, here custoditurus eras me, as these verses in general exhibit that which, in Job’s opinion, God had long since determined, and had the disposition to do. שמר here moreover is not “to keep in remembrance, to bear anything in mind” (Stickel, Hirzel, Delitzsch, for then the accus, of the thing kept ought to have been expressed (comp. Proverbs 4:21; Proverbs 7:1).—The meaning is rather to watch one carefully, to hold under observation, rigide observare s. custodire aliquem; comp. Job 7:12; Job 13:27.

Job 10:15. If I should be wickedwoe unto me!—As is evident from this exclamation אללי לי, “woe unto me!” which takes the place of a clause expressing the consequence in the future, רשעתי is a stronger expression than חטאתי in the verse preceding. [“אללי very strongly expressive of terror or pain, Micah 7:1; words would fail to describe the violence of the punishment.” Dav. As much stronger therefore as אללי is than שמר, so much stronger, it may be inferred, is רשע here than חטא.—E.]. It must not therefore be weakened by rendering it (with Schlottmann and Olshausen) “being found guilty;” it expresses the idea of gross, presumptuous sinning, deserving of a punishment indescribably severe (here indicated only by an exclamation of woe).—And were I righteous (the opposite case of the two hitherto mentioned) I should not then (according to God’s plan and purpose) lift up my head:i.e., I should not dare to enjoy my righteousness, nor to profit toy my good conscience so as to look up with freedom and confidence: comp. Job 11:15; Job 22:26; Luke 21:28. Rather would he even then go his way like one who had an evil conscience: filled with shame, and in sight of my misery.—רְאֵה is either to be taken as constr. state of an adj. רָאֶה, not elsewhere occurring (of a like structure with קָשֶׁה,יָפֶה, etc., so Gesenius, Fürst, Welte, Hahn, Del. [Schult, Schlot, Dav.] etc.), or we are to read רֹאֶה (Piscator, Ewald, Hirz, Böttch, Dillm. [Ren, Hengst.] etc.): for to take it as Imper. [E. V, “therefore see thou mine affliction”] (De Wette), or as Infin. (Umbreit, Rosenm.) [Carey] makes the construction altogether too hard.

Job 10:16. And should it (my head) lift itself up:i.e., should I, although condemned by Thee, still exhibit a cheerful courage and a proud self-consciousness. This accordingly is not a new case, but an expansion of that just supposed in Job 10:15 b. On יִגְֹאֶה comp. Job 8:11; on the omission of אִם see Ewald, § 357, b.As a lion Thou wouldest (then) hunt me and again show Thy wondrous power in me: to wit, by means of the most exquisite tortures, and the most violent persecutions, with which Thou wouldest then visit me. [“Thou wast wonderful in my creation ( Job 10:8-12); and now Thou art wonderful in inventing new means of destroying me.” Words.]. כַּשַּׁחַל certainly belongs to God as the subj. addressed, not to Job as obj. (as Schlottmann [and Davidson] think). We find God in His anger compared to a beast of prey also in Job 16:9; He is in particular described as a lion tearing His prey in Hosea 5:14; Hosea 13:7; comp. Isaiah 31:4; Isaiah 38:13; Jeremiah 25:38; Lamentations 3:10; Amos 3:12. On the use of שׁוּב with a finite verb following to express the adverbial notion “again, repeatedly”—a construction similar to that above in Job 6:28—comp. Ewald, § 285, b. On תִּתְפַּלָּא, with final vowel â, although not in pause (as also in Numbers 19:12), see Ewald, § 141, c. [Ewald. who is followed by Davidson, finds in the details of the Divine Plan against Job as here unfolded “a cruel tetralemma, a fearful fourfold net,” to compass the ruin of Job whichever way he should turn. (1) Were he to err—and to err is human—God would watch him with the keenest eye, and punish him without pity. (2). Should he sin heinously, his punishment would be commensurate with his guilt, transcending all description. (3). Should he however be innocent he must still be doomed to bear about with him a guilty look, and seem and feel like a criminal. (4). Should he be unable from pride, or conscious innocence thus to belie his integrity, and dare to hold up his head, God would in His wrath hunt him like a lion.—The scheme is ingenious and plausible, and has not yet been successfully disproved. Schlottmann argues against it: (1). That the distinction it makes between רשע and חטא is forced, to which what has been said above is a sufficient answer. (2). That the mention in Job 10:15 of the possibility of being righteous along with that of being wicked is wholly superfluous! a remark which it is difficult to understand. Job is enumerating all the moral possibilities of his condition, and showing that whichever course he takes his Omnipotent Adversary is there to meet him with a flaming sword of vengeance. Assuming therefore Ewald’s view to be not unfounded, the following additional remarks suggest themselves concerning it1. In the first two hypotheses, in which the guilt of Job is assumed, the hypothetical element is made distinct and strong by the use of אִם; in the last two, which assume his innocence the אִם is omitted2. Each pair of hypotheses presents a climax, the second hypothesis being an advance upon the first, both in the protasis and apodosis; the fourth upon the third, especially in the apodosis.—E.].

Job 10:17. Thou wouldest renew Thy witnesses against me: i.e., ever cause new witnesses to appear against me, viz., ever new sufferings and calamities: comp. Job 16:8, where may be found the same personification of sufferings as witnesses which, in the eyes of men, ever rise up to testify against him and his innocence,—And increase Thy displeasure against me (עִם here the same as contra; comp. Job 13:19; Job 23:6; Job 31:13); ever new troops and an army against me. The phrase,חֲִליכוֹת וְצָבָא is not to be understood as a hendiadys, as if it denoted “ever new hosts, alternating hosts” [“with host succeeding host against me”: Con, Dav, Ren, Words, Schlott, Ges, Noy, etc.], for this idea would be more simply expressed by חֲלִיכוֹת צָבָא (against Hirzel and most moderns). Rather does צבא denote the main body of the army, while חֲלִֹיכוֹת, lit, “exchanges” are fresh advancing reserves, or reinforcements. With the former, the original main army, are compared Job’s principal sufferings, while the latter the reserve troops, denote the new species of pains and tortures with which God continually afflicts and vexes him (Job being represented as a fortress, the object of God’s hostile attack; comp. Job 19:12; Job 30:12). [חליכות stands first as being the prominent element, Job’s mind dwelling principally, though not altogether, on the new tortures with which God assailed him, as is evident also from תתדשׁ and תרב just before.—E.]. Moreover it will be seen that every verse—member from Job 10:14 to Job 10:18 inclusive ends in the vowel î, a fact already noted by Böttcher, which can scarcely be accidental. The impression that the Divine wrath has especial reference to the single individuality (the one 1) of the lamenting Job is strongly intensified by this continuous repetition of the rhyme from the pronominal inflection (Delitzsch).

Second Strophe: Job 10:18-22, consisting of two thoughts: a. Curse of his own existence

Job 10:18-19 (a condensed repetition of Job 3:11-16); b. Prayer for a short respite before going down into the dark realm of the dead (repeated out of Job 7:16-19).

Job 10:18. Why then didst Thou bring me forth out of the womb? I should have died, etc. “The Imperfects אוּבַל,אֶהְיֶח,אֶגוְעַ have a hypothetic coloring, being strictly the conclusion of a pre-supposition indicated by the preceding question. They indicate what would have happened, if God had not called him into being out of his mother’s womb, in his opinion, which Hebrews, as a wise Prayer of Manasseh, here puts in opposition to the Divine treatment” (Dillmann). [The Eng. Ver. “Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!” is feeble, and destroys the unity of the passage formed by this member, and the verse following, represented as above indicated by the three conditional Imperfects.—E.].

Job 10:19. הוּבַל expresses the idea of being borne in slow solemn procession, as is customary in burial; so also in Job 21:32.

Job 10:20. Are not my days few? Let Him cease then,—let Him let me alone.—Thus are the words to be rendered according to the K’thibh יֶחְדָּל and יָשִׁית not as a petition addressed to God, but as a request expressed concerning Him in the third person, as one who had withdrawn. The K’ri, in giving instead the Imperf. וַחֲדַל and וְשִׁית: “cease,” and “let me alone” (so also most of the Ancient Versions), [F. V.], is a change of the original text, suggested by Job 7:16, which passage is here imitated, although indeed only freely. [This use of the 3 d person here, following the K’thibh which undoubtedly is the correct reading, is a noticeable and masterly stroke, expressing the helpless, exhausted prostration of Job’s spirit at the close of his discourse.—The vehement Titanic energy of his previous defiance has expended itself: he no more ventures to stand up face to face with God, and with head uplifted pour forth his bitter remonstrances: he now lies low in the dust, panting with the weary strife, with no hope but in death, and with averted, down-cast eye, exclaims of God—“Let Him cease for a little while!” Another indication of his mental exhaustion is found in the fact that the remainder of his discourse is made to consist of a repetition of phrases from Job 7.—He can only repeat, mechanically almost, what he has said, although even in this there is inimitable pathos.—E.]. שִׁית מִן, to turn away the attention from any one, like שָׁעָה with מִן, Job 7:19; Psalm 39:14 [ Psalm 39:13]; to supply לֵב, or עֵינַיִם, or יָד (after Job 13:21) is not really necessary.—That I may be cheerful a little while, lit, look up brightly, as in Job 9:27; Psalm 39:14 [ Psalm 39:13]

Job 10:21. Before I go hence and return not: [second clause וְלֹא אָשוּב adverbial, = not to return]. Comp. Job 7:7-10. An צלמות, comp. on Job 3:6.

Job 10:22. Into the land of darkness, like to midnight.—So Ewald, Dillmann, etc., in order to express the idea of an intensified degree of darkness, indicated by אֹפֶל (lit, “covering”: see Job 3:6; Job 23:17; Job 28:3; Psalm 91:6).—Of the shadow of death, and of confusion.—לֹא סְרָרִים [סדריםἄπ. λεγ in the Old Testament, but a common word in the later Hebrew, Del.], lit, “no ranks,” i.e., disorder, chaotic confusion (Tohuvabohu, Genesis 1:2). For this use of לֹא, as a terse negation of the conception of a noun, like our prefix un-, or dis-, comp. Job 8:11; Job 26:2-3.—Where it is bright like midnight. וַתֹּפַע, lit, “so that it shines forth, is bright (comp. Job 3:4; Job 10:3). The subj. of this verb is certainly אֶרֶץ (Hirzel, Delitzsch, etc.); the neuter use of the fern. תפע is less probable. אֹפֶל here again signifying the most intense darkness, the most sunless gloom, (ipsum medullitium umbrœ mortis, ejusque intensissimum, Oetinger). “To be bright like midnight” (the direct opposite of Psalm 139:12) is a strong terribly vivid description of superlative darkness, as it rules in the under-world. Compare Milton’s: “not light, but darkness visible,” in his description of hell.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The fundamental thought, around which all the discussions of this new discourse of Job 3resolve, is that of absolute power in God, and of that power acting in a merciless arbitrary manner, entirely regardless of all human right and innocence. “He destroys the innocent as well as the guilty;”—such is the harsh utterance against God as a tyrant, raging in anger, trampling down all right under His feet ( Job 9:22), to which Job advances from the concession which he has previously made to both his opponents, that God’s action is always and uniformly just (comp. Exeget and Crit. Rem’s, No1). He concedes to them, especially to Bildad, without further question: “what God does must be right, just because God, the Righteous One, does it.” But with bitter sarcasm he resolves this into the proposition: “God does just what He pleases, whether it is really righteous or not!” Thus, instead of the God of absolute justice, whom the friends had held up before him and defended (in a way that was one-sided and narrow enough, to be sure), he forms for himself a gloomy, horrible representation of a God of absolute power, who rules and directs not according to objective standards of right, but according to the promptings of an arbitrary will, subject to no restraint. It is the θεὸς δίκαιος of Marcion, who is absolutely and in essence disjoined from all kindness and love; nay, more, it is the God of the pre-destinatianists and extreme (supra-lapsarian) Calvinists, disposing of the destinies of men in accordance with an unconditional, arbitrary decree (decretum absolutum), irrespective of all moral worthiness or unworthiness—such is the Being whom Job here delineates, and before whose hostile assaults on his person, guiltless as he knows himself to be, he recoils in shuddering anguish. Instead of dwelling as he had formerly done ( Job 2:10) on the remembrance of the manifold goodness which he had experienced from God, and bowing in patience beneath His hand, and confidently awaiting the explanation in the near or remote future of the dark destiny which according to an inscrutable decree overshadowed him, he here thrusts away from himself all such comfort, writhes like a worm under the crushing pressure of that horrible spectre into which his perverted imagination had transformed the only just and holy God, imputes to Him the severe treatment which although innocent he had endured as a long-cherished and well-contrived plan (ch10:13–17), and finally relapses into that tone of deepest despair and most disconsolate woe which he had heretofore struck upon, by cursing his existence ( Job 10:18 seq.) and beseeching God for just one thing—that before he should depart hence into the eternally dark and joyless Hereafter, He would once again let him alone, that he might have one short last respite in this life. In short it is the sorely tried sufferer, who is not indeed really forsaken by God, but who has nevertheless given himself up, who here pours out his grief without restraint in a lamentation which is at the same time throughout an arraignment of God. Comp. Luther in his Preface to our book: “For before that Job Cometh into the pangs of death, he praiseth God concerning the spoiling of his goods, and the death of his children. But when death is before his eyes, and God withdraweth Himself, then do his words show what manner of thoughts a Prayer of Manasseh, however holy he be, may have against God; how it seemeth to him that God is not God, but a mere judge and an angry tyrant, who exerciseth His power, and careth for no man’s well-being. This is the most extreme part of this book. Only those can understand it, who also feel and know what it is to endure God s wrath and judgment, and to have His mercy hid from them.”

2. Under the rough shell of this abstract predestinatianist way of thinking, the discourse conceals a rich store of glorious religious truths, and powerful testimonies in behalf of a living saving faith, which show to us that Job has been sorely afflicted indeed, but not rejected; nay, more, that bright beams of Divine light pierce the thick darkness, and line with glory the edges of the black clouds of doubt which have come between him and the gracious face of his Heavenly Father. As Brentius beautifully says: “Here you have the blasphemies of hell, into which those are tempted who are for any time judicially forsaken by the Lord;… but Job argues his cause according to his feelings: for in such dread of the judgment as possesses him he feels God to be not a Father, but an executioner.… But Mark, at this point the faith of Job lifts up its head even in the midst of judgment! For as Christ, our Lord, when cast into the midst of hell, cries out that He is forsaken, yet at the same time acknowledges God to be His God—for He says: My God, why hast Thou forsaken me? so Job, overwhelmed with all evils, wondering how God, who was before so generous, can now be so cruel a Judges, recounts in the spirit of faith the mercies of the past from the time before his birth until his growth to manhood; for unless a spark of faith had been left in him, he would not have been able to recognize the mercies which he enumerates ( Job 10:8-12).” Among these testimonies to the fact that in the midst of all the darkness and judicial terrors which assailed him he still maintained his faith, may be mentioned:

a. The glorious description which he gives in Job 9:5-12 of the Omnipotence and greatness of God, as the same is manifested in the works of His creation, both on earth and in heaven—one of the most elevated descriptions which the poetic literature of the Old Testament has anywhere produced on this topic.

b. The strikingly beautiful description which he gives of the special care and the infinite skill and wisdom exercised by the providence of God in its influence on man’s generation, on the earliest development of the individual human life in the womb, and on every subsequent stage of that development up to mature manhood: Job 10:8-12.—This, too, like the former, is one of the noblest contributions of this book to physico-theology, and to the Bible doctrine of the creation of the individual human life, and of the origin of the soul. Like the parallel passage in Psalm 139:13-16, this description seems decidedly to favor the theory of creationism, according to which the generation of each individual man presupposes a concurrent act of immediate creation on the part of the Divine omnipotence (comp. Lactantius. De opif Dei, c. 19). At the same time it is evident, especially from Job 10:10, with the strong emphasis which it lays on the participation of the parents in the origination of the human organism, that the fundamental idea of traducianism, or generationism, is not foreign to the writer’s thought, but is to be included in it as a presupposition which is not to be ignored. So then these two methods of representation, that of creationism and that of generationism, must always and everywhere go hand in hand, mutually supplementing and rectifying one another, (comp. Nitzsch, Syst. of Christ. Doct. § 107, Rem2; Rothe, Elk. § 124, Rem1; Frohschammer, Ueber Ursprung der menschlichen Seele, 1854).

c. Again, the absolute superiority of the Divine intelligence to the human, and hence the infinite knowledge and unapproachable wisdom of God, are described in Job 9:3-4 (comp. Job 9:14 seq.; Job 10:4) with an impressive power and beauty, rivalling the most important of those Old Testament passages (e.g. Psalm 139.) where this theme is unfolded.

d. When in contrast with all this Job comes to speak of the weakness, vanity, and transitoriness of human existence, his words are not less impressive and eloquent. They resemble (especially Job 9:25 seq. “For my days are swifter than a runner, etc.”, comp. Job 10:20. “Are not my days few,” etc.) those passages in Job’s earlier Lamentations, at the beginning of Job 7, where he describes the transiency and vanity of man’s life on earth; but they also resemble similar passages in the preceding discourses of Eliphaz and Bildad. Thus it is that this complaint over the hasty flight and the misery of human life, presents itself as a constant theme with all the speakers of this book, and is indeed a characteristic property of all the Chokmah poets and teachers of the Old Testament generally.

e. With this repeated emphasizing of human weakness is closely connected the prominence given to the consciousness, characteristic of the Old Testament stand-point of faith and life, of such superiority in God over man as makes it absolutely impossible for the latter to contend, or to come into comparison with Him, there being no arbiter or judicial mediator between both ( Job 9:32 seq.). The recognition of this both indirectly postulates such a mediator and prompts to an expression of the yearning felt for him; comp. above on Job 9:33.

f. Finally, it is a noticeable trait of Job’s profound piety that repeatedly, in the midst of his sorrowful complaint, he addresses himself directly to God. Indeed, from Job 9:28 on, he no longer speaks in the third person of God, but in the second person to Him. This tone of entreaty, which the sorely afflicted sufferer maintains, even where he utters the bitterest complaints and accusations against God, is instructive in regard to that which should be regarded as in general the fundamental frame of his soul (comp. on Job 9:28, and on Job 10:2). According to this, he appears as one whom God had in truth not forsaken, but only afflicted for the sake of proving him. Indeed, far from being objectively forsaken of God, he is not once guilty of forsaking God in the subjective sense (i.e. in a spirit of self-will, through doubt, disobedience or open apostasy). In the inmost depths of his praying heart, he does not once believe that he is forsaken or rejected by God; he only fears such a doom in passing, but every time springs shuddering back with hope, or at least with longing to God, and (like a child, severely chastised, which nevertheless knows no other refuge and no other comfort than may be found with its father) does not stop clinging to the Heavenly Author of his being, ever renewing his complaints and petitions to Him for help. “It is true that Job, so long as he regards his sufferings as a dispensation of divine judgment, is as unjust towards God as he believes God to be unjust towards him; but if we bear in mind that this state of conflict and temptation does not preclude the idea of a temporal withdrawal of faith, and that, as Baumgarten (Pentat. i209) aptly expresses it, the profound secret of grayer is this, that man can prevail with the Divine Being, then we shall understand that this dark cloud need only be removed, and Job again stands before the God of love as His saint” (Del.).

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The survey given above (No2 a-f) of those portions of the preceding section having the greatest doctrinal and ethical value will show where the most fruitful themes for homiletic discussion may be found. In any case the separate treatment of these themes commends itself in proportion to the richness of their contents and their high significance, in preference to the homiletic treatment of the whole discourse through all its length as a unit. If a comprehensive text is sought for, either one of the three sections, into which the whole discourse is divided, may be chosen. Or combining the first two sections into one of greater length, the division by chapters may be followed. In this case the theme of a homily on Job 9. might run: “The saint of the Old Testament groaning under the pressure of the Divine omnipotence, not having as yet the consciousness of an atonement.” The theme for Job 10. might be stated: “The pious sufferer of the Old Testament on the brink of despair,” or “wavering between a child-like, thankful, trustful recognition of the Father-love of God ( Job 10:8-12) and disconsolate complaint because of His apparent merciless severity.”—As shorter texts the following present themselves: Job 9:2-12—God’s Omnipotence; Job 9:13-24—The apparent injustice of the Divine government of the world; Job 9:25-35—The cheerless and helpless condition of the suffering righteous under the Old Dispensation, who as yet knew no mediator between God and men; Job 10:1-7—The contradiction which shows itself between the fact of God’s omniscience, and that of the innocent suffering of the godly; Job 10:8-12.—God’s fatherly love, and His merciful all-including care as exhibited in the creation and preservation of human life; Job 10:13-22.—God as the hostile persecutor of the sufferer, who fancies himself to be forsaken by Him, and who is deprived of all earthly comfort.

Particular Passages

Job 9:5 sq.: Oecolampadius: The levelling of mountains, the shakings of the earth, eclipses of the sun and of the stars, and in short the movements of the universe are testimonies to the power of God. It must needs be that He is mighty who hurls mountains into the sea with such ease, that it is scarcely noticed.… Hence believers derive the hope that nothing is so terrible or so grievous but God can alleviate it, especially when He says: “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove” ( Matthew 17:20). By which saying it is testified that the highest power belongs to those who believe.—Starke: If God has the power to remove mountains, He certainly has the power to deliver out of all troubles ( Psalm 50:25).—The heavens are a mirror of the infinite and incomprehensible Wisdom of Solomon, Goodness and Omnipotence of God. Even the heathen have learned from their reflections, that there must be a supreme intelligent Being, who rules over all. Every star is our schoolmaster, and testifies to us that there is a God.

Job 9:10 sq. Brentius: God’s judgments are hidden: at first sight they seem to men either unjust or foolish, but in the end His counsel is understood, and His back is seen, though not His face ( Jeremiah 18:17).… Hence if God should pass before thee, i.e. if He should carry on some wondrous work before thine eyes, although at first thou shouldst be ignorant what it Isaiah, or what He wills by His wonderful work, nevertheless thou canst not doubt in the least that He is good and wise and just.—Tuebing. Bible: God as omnipresent is continually around us and with us, although we see Him not.—Osiander: Although God is without the least varying disposed towards us as a Father, it may nevertheless seem to us in trouble as though He had changed towards us ( Psalm 67:10; Isaiah 64:16).

Job 9:21 sq. Zeyss: Although it seems to pious believers when in deep affliction and trial, as though God observed no measure and no discrimination in the infliction of punishment, it is nevertheless not so with Him; but such thoughts proceed from flesh and blood, yea, they are temptations of Satan (comp. Brentius above, Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks, No2).—Hengstenberg: To this result (viz. of regarding God as the author of evil and as absolutely unjust) we must come in our investigation of evil, if we look at the subject with carnal eyes. The matter looks differently, however, to him who is capable of spiritual discernment, which is true only of him who can bring his own processes and experiences into accord with God’s justice. He sees that the triumph of evil is always only apparent and transient, only the means of preparing the way for the triumph of the good. He sees that the righteous need suffering for temptation and purification, that so long as sin dwells in them, they cannot yet be exalted to glory, but that, as the Apostle says of himself, they must be “troubled on every side, yet not distressed” ( 2 Corinthians 4:8); otherwise they would soon be a dead reed. “The staff of affliction beats our loins down to the grave,” etc, etc.

Job 9:30 seq. Œcolampadius: The most potent kind of comfort is that which comes from a pure conscience, which is as it were a perpetual outcry. But neither from that do we derive any benefit, if we look back at our works. For we shall never thus be purified, who in the strict judgment of God would be pronounced abominable, and defiled with filth.—Zeyss: The guilt of sin can be washed away by no snow-water, ye, or soap, i.e., by no outward works, or self-elected service of God, or papistic holy water. It is quite another washing that serves for that, to wit, the blood of Jesus Christ; 1 John 1:7.

Job 9:33. œcolamvadius: Without Christ we are such creatures as Job has described above. If however Christ is our arbiter and mediator ( 1 Timothy 2:5) He Himself will remove the rod.

Job 10:2 seq. Hengstenberg: The needless and aimless cruelty towards an innocent person, of which Job accuses God, seems all the more inexcusable if this innocent one is at the same time wholly helpless. It would be revolting to see omnipotence sporting with impotence.—To such cheerless results are we driven, when, like Job, we look into ourselves as into a golden cup. If in severe suffering we fail to recognize our own darkness, the Father of Lights must change into darkness.

Job 10:8 seq. Cramer: In affliction there is no better comfort than to remember that we are sprung from God ( Psalm 22:10).—Chr. Scriver (in the hymn: “Jesu, meiner Seele Leben”):

“Thy loving-kindness was around me flung,

Ere yet the world did lie around my way;

On Thee in my weak infancy I hung,

While helpless on my mother’s breast I lay.

• • • • • • •

Along the wayward paths of early youth

Thy loving-kindness ever followed me.

• • • • • • •

It is in Thee each moment I do live,

Thy Spirit ever with me doth abide;

All that I have is but what Thou dost give,

Thy light has ever been my journey’s guide.”

Hengstenberg: It is worthy of note, what a fund of knowledge of God Job still possesses, even when he seems to have completely forsaken God. With one who is penetrated, as he Isaiah, by the consciousness that every whiff of breath belongs to God, faith must, sooner or later, fight its way through all temptations and dark clouds.

Job 10:13 seq. Cramer: God does not afflict and trouble men willingly ( Lamentations 3:33), and although in affliction He seems to frown, He yet smiles on us in His heart. He stands behind the wall, and looks through the lattice; Song of Solomon 2:9.—Hengstenberg: Nothing tends more strongly to lead human nature astray, than the discovery that one whom you have been accustomed to love and to honor as your benefactor, has used his beneficence only as means to gratify the deepest malignity. Job thinks that his experience in relation to God is of this character. How under such circumstances must the Fountain of all consolation be changed into a poisonous spring!

Job 10:18 seq. Osiander: His great ingratitude if we do not thank God for the use of light in this life; and it is a heathenish speech to say—it were best never to have been born, or to have died immediately after birth.—Zeyss (on Job 10:20 seq.): Terrible as are death and the grave to natural eyes, they are no less sweet and comforting to the eyes of faith ( Luke 2:29; Philippians 1:21).—Starke: Those who are tried are wont to long greatly that God, if He will not altogether remove their suffering, would yet send some relief ( Isaiah 38:14).—Vict. Andreae: Do we not see in these two chapters (9. and10.) how the human heart in truth wavers to and fro between the proudest presumption and the most pusillanimous despair?

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Job 9:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/job-9.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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