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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Job 13

 

 

Verses 1-12

Job 13:1-12. Job has shown that he can speak of God's working in the world; the friends, however, offer an apology for God, which He Himself must reject. "I am not inferior to you in knowledge," says Job (Job 13:2). "But I would speak and reason with God—this you do not understand" (Job 13:3). The friends had failed to diagnose his case (Job 13:4); his want is a fresh Divine revelation. They are "plasterers of lies" in their zeal for God. Their best wisdom were silence (Job 13:5) "si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." God, however, will not approve their respect of persons, their partiality in becoming His advocate (Job 13:8). "It will not be a pleasant experience for them when God strips bare their paltry souls and shows that which masqueraded as pious reverence to be cowardly sycophancy (Job 13:9). It is noteworthy as showing the conflict of feeling in Job, that while he attacks with the utmost boldness the unrighteousness of God's conduct he should have such deep-rooted confidence in His righteousness as to believe Him incapable of tolerating a lying defence even of Himself" (Peake). God's appearance will terrify the friends (Job 13:11): how miserable their proverbs, their defences, are (Job 13:12).


Verses 13-18

Job 13:13-28. Job turns to plead his cause with God. He will speak whatever it costs (Job 13:13-15). "This also," he says, shall be my deliverance, that a godless man will not come before Him." Job means that his deliverance must come, not as the friends say, from submission and confession, but from courageous self-defence. Job seems to gain confidence from his resolve to speak without fear. He feels that God, the natural protector of innocence, must in the end be on his side: Job's very boldness will appeal to His better nature. This is the first time that Job really shows confidence in God. Behind His wrath, he feels, there is something that is on his side. It seems as if Job's firm resolve to maintain his consciousness of innocence gave him a basis whence to feel after the true nature of God. Such is Job's confidence, as he prepares to plead his cause (Job 13:18), that he cries, "Who is there that can contend with me? For (if any such be found) then I would hold my peace and give up the ghost" (Job 13:19). This forms a splendid climax to Job's declaration of innocence (cf. Isaiah 50:8, Romans 8:33 f.). As in Job 9:34, however, Job asks of God to remove his affliction and not to overwhelm him with His terrors, that they may contend upon equal terms (Job 13:20-22). "What have I done?" he says. "Why is God become mine enemy?" (Job 13:23 f.). Why does God persecute one so weak? (Job 13:25). God, like a judge, ordains him bitter punishment. To do so, He brings up the sins of his unwitting childhood, which he had supposed long ago forgiven and forgotten. God hampers his movements (Job 13:27).

Job 13:14 is difficult. To take one's life in one's hand means to prepare for death (Judges 12:3). In accordance with this the first clause must be explained. By several it is understood of a wild beast defending its prey by carrying it off. Then the verse means, "Why should I seek to save my life? Nay, I will expose it to the utmost peril." By attaching the opening words of Job 13:14 (‘al mâh) to Job 13:13 (Duhm), or more simply by removing them as due to dittography of the last words of Job 13:13 (‘âlay mâh) (Peake), we leave the meaning of Job 13:13 unaltered and obtain for Job 13:14, "I will take my flesh in my teeth and will put my life in my hand." The interrogation is now gone from the first clauses, and the two lines of the verse mean the same thing, as the parallelism requires that they should.

Job 13:15 is also difficult. "The AV translation, ‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him,' which is that of the Vulgate, is impossible, since it is utterly out of harmony with the context. It is very beautiful in itself, and no doubt what Job ought to have said, and what he would have said after the vision of God. But it is singularly unfortunate since it is one of the few fragments in the poem which are widely known, and has thus created an entirely false impression as to Job's real attitude" (Peake). The first clause is to be translated "Behold he slaveth me": the second either (reading lô) "I wait for him" ‘to do it) or for it,' or else (reading lô') "I have no hope" or "I cannot hold out" (Duhm). The general sense is the same, whichever of these readings or translations be adopted. The second clause is an expression of Job's despair.

Job 13:27. Instead of "the stocks" translate "the block," i.e. a block of wood fastened to the foot of a prisoner impeding his movements.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Job 13:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/job-13.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 5th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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