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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Job 3

 

 

Verses 1-20

Job 3:1-20. Job's Lamentation.—Here the later poem begins, and at once we pass into another world. The patient Job of the Volksbuch is gone, and we have instead one who complains bitterly that ever he was born. This cry of misery is thrice repeated, ever in deepening pathos (Job 3:1-10, Job 3:11-19, Job 3:20-26).

Job 3:1-10. The first cry of misery—Would to God I had never been born. "This is the idea when Job curses his day, and wishes it blotted out of existence. First he curses the day of his birth and the night of his conception together (Job 3:3) and then each separately, the day in two verses and the night in four" (Davidson).

Job 3:2. The day is here regarded, not as a measure of time, but as a living being, which of its own accord brings forth men and things. "So in Psalms 19 the days and nights are animated beings, who narrate what they have experienced" (Duhm).

Job 3:4. The days have to appear when their turn comes, and God takes care that they do so, just as He marshals the stars (Isaiah 40:26). God calls the days all in turn to appear, but this day may remain unsummoned! The name used for God here is Eloah, a late form. The poet does not, like the Volksbuch, put into the mouth of an Edomite the Israelite name Yahweh. This, like the form he uses, is the mark of a later age. Let darkness and deep gloom (mg.) reclaim that day for their own. It is to be restored to the realm of "chaos and old night," whence the world first arose. Let all that makes black the day terrify it, i.e. eclipses, etc.

Job 3:6. Let thick darkness seize upon that night and carry it off to its monstrous realm (as Pluto carried off Persephone). In that land there is no time, no years or months, no order. Let that night be barren; let no joyful voice tell of the birth of a child upon it.

Job 3:8. Let enchanters curse it, who have skill to rouse up Leviathan (the twisted serpent) i.e. the great dragon of the abyss, the enemy of the light. His arising from the deep at the enchanters' summons, would mean the return of the primitive chaos (Genesis 1:2*).

Job 3:9. Let the stars of the twilight that end that night be dark, i.e. go out. Let it never greet the dawn. [The exquisite phrase "the eyelids of the morning" (Job 41:18) presupposes a Dawn myth, the Dawn being thought of as a lovely goddess, as in Isaiah 14:12. Such "faded myths" add much to the beauty and picturesqueness of poetry.—A. S. P.]

Job 3:11-19. Would to God I had died from my birth. If Job must be born, why did he not die at once? Why was he kindly received upon the father's knees (Genesis 50:23)?

Job 3:12 reflects a time, when the father could choose whether to bring up the child or not. If he did, he took it upon his knees as a sign of adoption, and then handed it to the mother or the nurse. Job thinks of all the chances of death which he has lost. His misery makes the mercies that compassed his infancy seem a cruelty.

Job 3:13 f. Had Job died, he would have been at peace in Sheol, where small and great are alike at rest:

"Golden lads and girls all must,

As chimney-sweepers, come to dust" (Cymbeline).

Job is fascinated by the picture of the painless stillness of death, and dwells upon it long, enumerating with minute particularity those who enjoy a common peace. "The thought of the stillness of death brings a certain calm to the sufferer's mind, and the passionateness of his former words subsides" (Davidson).

Job 3:14. Davidson interprets "waste places" as meaning ruined cities, which these princes had rebuilt. This meaning is, however, too general. Job speaks of something which they built for themselves. Duhm translates "pyramids," which sense, however, cannot be proved. The text is probably incorrect. The best emendation seems to be Cheyne's, "who built everlasting sepulchres" (qibroth ‘olam).

Job 3:16. Duhm places this verse immediately after Job 3:11.


Verses 20-26

Job 3:20-26. Why does God continue life to the wretch who longs for death? Job's words again rise to a passionate intensity. The vision of the peacefulness of death vanishes, and he reawakens to the consciousness of his actual state. In Job 3:20 f. Job generalises from his own position, to which he returns in Job 23 : he is hedged in like a captive beast. His sighs have become his daily meat (mg. "like my meat," cf. Psalms 42:3), and his roarings resemble an overflowing stream. "Let me fear a fear," he says, "and it comes upon me." It is a terrible picture of misery.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Job 3:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/job-3.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 13th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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