Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 17:6

"But He has made me a byword of the people, And I am one at whom men spit.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Dictionaries:
Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Greatness of God;   Hypocrisy;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Tabret;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Byword;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Tabret;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Music;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Byword;   Make;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

He hath made me also a by-word - My afflictions and calamities have become a subject of general conversation, so that my poverty and affliction are proverbial. As poor as Job, As afflicted as Job, are proverbs that have even reached our times and are still in use.

Aforetime I was as a tabret - This is not the translation of the Hebrew אהיה לפנים ותפת vethopheth lephanim eheyeh . Instead of לפנים lephanim, I would read לפניהם liphneghem, and then the clause might be translated thus: I shall be as a furnace, or consuming fire (Topheth) before them. They shall have little reason to mock when they see the end of the Lord's dealings with me; my example will be a consuming fire to them, and my false friends will be confounded. Coverdale translates thus: He hath made me as it were a byworde of the comon people. I am his gestinge stocke amonge them.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 17:6". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-17.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

He hath also - That is, God has done this.

Also a by-word - A proverb (משׁל mâshâl ); a term of reproach, ridicule, or scorn. lie has exposed me to derision.

And aforetime - Margin “before them.” The margin is the correct translation of the Hebrew, פנים pânı̂ym It means, in their presence, or in their view.

I was as a tabret - This is an unhappy translation. The true meaning is,” I am become their “abhorrence,” or am to them an object of contempt.” Vulgate, “I am an exampie (“exemplum ”) to them.” Septuagint, “I am become a laughter ( γέλως gelōs ) to them.” The Chaldee renders it, “Thou hast placed me for a proverb to the people, and I shall be Gehenna (גיהנם gayhı̂nnôm ) to them.” The Hebrew word תפת tôpheth - or “Tophet,” is the name which is often given in the Scriptures to the valley of Hinnom - the place where children were sacrificed to Moloch; see the notes at Matthew 5:22. But there is no evidence or probability that the word was so used in the time of Job. It is never used in the Scriptures in the sense of a “tabret,” that is a tabor or small drum; though the word תף toph is thus used; see the notes at Isaiah 5:12. The word used here is derived, probably, from the obsolete verb תיף typ - “to spit out;” and then to spit out with contempt. The verb is so used in Chaldee. “Castell.” The meaning of the word probably still lives in the Arabic, The Arabic word means to spit out with contempt; and the various forms of the nouns derived from the verb are applied to anything detested, or detestable; to the parings of the nails; to an abandoned woman; to a dog, etc. See “Castell” on this word. I have no doubt that is the sense here, and that we have here a word whose true signification is to be sought in the Arabic; and that Job means to say that he was treated as the most loathsome and execrable object.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 17:6". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-17.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

CERTAIN OF FINAL VINDICATION; JOB VOWED TO KEEP HIS INTEGRITY

"But he hath made me a byword of the people;

And they spit in my face.

Mine eye is dim also by reason of sorrow,

And all my members are as a shadow.

Upright men shall be astonished at this,

And the innocent shall stir up himself against the godless.

Yet shall the righteous hold on his way,

And he that hath clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger.

But as for you all, come on now again;

And I shall not find a wise man among you.

My days are past, my purposes are broken off,

Even the thoughts of my heart.

They change the night into the day:

The light, say they, is near unto the darkness.

If 50took for Sheol as my house;

If I have spread my couch in the darkness;

If I have said to corruption, Thou art my father;

To the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister;

Where then is my hope?

And, as for my hope, who shall see it?

It shall go down to the bars of Sheol,

When once there is rest in the dust."

Job 17:6-9 here are difficult. "It is hard to find a path through the profusion of ideas here."[10]

"All my members are as a shadow" (Job 17:7). Barnes paraphrased this, "I am a mere skeleton; I am emaciated and exhausted by my sufferings."[11]

"Upright men shall be astonished at this" (Job 17:9). "They will be amazed that God has permitted a holy man to suffer such calamity and to be treated in such a manner by his friends."[12]

"Yet shall the righteous hold on their way" (Job 17:9). "As these words stand, they express Job's conviction of final victory."[13] They do even more than that. They constitute Job's pledge, that in spite of his friends' unbelief, in spite of his terrible sufferings, in spite of everything, he will continue in the way of righteousness.

"These words confounded the hopes of Satan to destroy Job's integrity; for they indicate that the righteous (including Job), in spite of the irregular dealings of providence and the slanders of the public (including Job's friends), will persevere more and more in righteousness."[14] "The human spirit here rose to the height of moral grandeur."[15]

The authorship of Job continues to be more and more impossible to attribute to anyone other than to Job himself. No writer during Israel's captivity, or at any other time than that of Job's lifetime, could have revealed the innermost thoughts of Job, as do these chapters. Job himself is the author of this great central section of the book; and his words are most certainly inspired of God.

"But as for you all, come on now again; and I shall not find a wise man among you" (Job 17:10). Rawlinson gave the meaning here as, "A challenge to Job's detractors. `Return, all of you, to your old work of detraction, if you please'; I don't even care."[16] Jamieson interpreted it thus: "Return if you have anything really wise to advance, although I doubt it. As yet, I cannot find one wise man among you all."[17]

"My purposes are broken off" (Job 17:11). No sadder words than these were ever written. "How many unfinished plans are terminated every day! The farmer leaves his plow in the furrow; the lawyer his brief half prepared, the mechanic his work undone, the student his books lying open, the author his writing not finished! How many schemes of wickedness or of benevolence, of fraud or of kindness, or of hatred or mercy are concluded every day by death! Dear reader, soon all your plans, and mine will be forever terminated.[18]

In the concluding verses of this chapter, Job clearly contemplated death, but there is no hint of disrespect for God. "There is a note of acceptance and confidence throughout the passage."[19] Despite his perplexity and suffering, "One finds this growing sense that all is not as it seems, and that one day, at another time, and another place, he will be vindicated."[20]

"When once there is rest in the dust" (Job 17:16). Rowley wrote that this rendition does not conform to the Masoretic text, and recommended the RSV which reads: "Where then is my hope ... Shall we descend together into the dust"?[21]

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Job 17:6". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/job-17.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

He hath made me also a byword of the people,.... Either Eliphaz, or God; for whatsoever befell him, whether more immediately by the hand of God, or by any instrument, the ascribes it to him, as being suffered in Providence to befall him; as when he became a byword or proverb to the people in common, to whom an example might be set by one or more of Job's friends. The name of Job is to this day a byword or proverb among men, both for his poverty and his patience; if a man is described as very poor, he is said to be as poor as Job; or if very patient under his afflictions, he is said to be as patient as Job; but as neither of these are to the disgrace of Job, something else seems rather intended here, even something to his reproach; as when a man was represented as a very wicked man, or an hypocrite, it used to be said, such an one is as wicked a creature, and as arrant an hypocrite, as Job:

and aforetime I was as a tabret; the delight of the people, who, when he appeared in the public streets, came out and went before him, singing, and dancing, and beating on tabrets, and such like musical instruments, to express their joy upon the sight of him; but now it was otherwise with him, and he whom they could not sufficiently extol and commend, now knew not well what to say bad enough of him; such a change in the sentiments and conduct of men must needs be very chagrining: or "aforetime I was as a lord", as Ben Gersom, from the use of the word in Daniel 3:2; as he supposes; he was like a lord or nobleman, or as one in some high office, and now as the offscouring of all things; or it denotes what he was "before them", the people, in their sight at present, and should be: the word used is "Tophet", which Aben Ezra takes to be the name of a place, and as it seems of that place where children were offered to Moloch, and which place was in being, and such practices used by the Canaanites in the times of Job; and this place, which was also called the valley of Hinnom, being afterwards used for hell, led the Targum to paraphrase the words thus, "and hell from within shall I be"; and so Sephorno, in appearance hell to all that see me; and in general it may signify that he was, or should be, avoided, as any unclean place, very ungrateful and disagreeable, as that place was; or as anything abominable, and to be loathed and rejected, and this way go several interpretersF19Schmidt, Michaelis, Schultens. ; though some think respect is had to the punishment of tympanization, in which sufferers were beaten upon in several parts of their bodies, as if men were beating upon a tabret or drum, which gave great pain and torment, see Hebrews 11:35; and with such like cruelty and indignity Job suggests he was or should be used; and therefore begs for a surety, for one to interpose and plead on his behalf; let the carriage of men to him be what it will, that is here referred to; compare with this Psalm 69:11.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 17:6". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-17.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

He hath made me also a g byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret.

(g) God has made all the world speak of me, because of my afflictions.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 17:6". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-17.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

He — God. The poet reverentially suppresses the name of God when speaking of calamities inflicted.

by-word — (Deuteronomy 28:37; Psalm 69:11). My awful punishment makes my name execrated everywhere, as if I must have been superlatively bad to have earned it.

aforetime  …  tabret — as David was honored (1 Samuel 18:6). Rather from a different Hebrew root, “I am treated to my face as an object of disgust,” literally, “an object to be spit upon in the face” (Numbers 12:14). So Raca means (Matthew 5:22) [Umbreit].

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 17:6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-17.html. 1871-8.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 17:6 He hath made me also a byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret.

Ver. 6. He hath made me also a byword of the people] Here Job returns to his old task of setting forth his own misery; for what men are most sensible of that their tongues do most of all run upon. Job is a byword, or a proverb, to this day, for we say, As poor as Job; as of old they said, Iro pauperior, &c. He was become a common proverb, a public mocking stock, yea, he was pro cantione ad tympanum trita, as some sense the next words. And before time (or, to men’s faces) I was (or I am) a tabret; they sing my miseries to the tabret, as a matter of mirth; they compose comedies out of my tragedies; and this greateneth my grief. I am openly a tabret; so Broughton reads it. The Vulgate hath it, I am an example before them. The Chaldea paraphrast, I am as hell before them. The Hebrew word is Tophet, taken afterwards indeed for hell, but not so in Job’s time. The Septuagint, I became a sport, γελως, to them. David met with the like measure, Psalms 69:10-11, and the Church, Lamentations 2:15. And Christ on the cross was matter of mirth to the malicious Jews. God had made Job all this. He (that is, God) hath made me, &c.: his name he spares in reverence; but everywhere he acknowledgeth God the author of his troubles, as Mercer here noteth. The whole verse may be read thus; He hath made me also a byword of the people, whereas beforetime I was as a tabret; that is, I am now a scorn to them who delighted in me in my prosperity.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 17:6". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-17.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Job 17:6. He hath made me also a by-word But they have marked me out for a by-word of the people; nay, I am even a prodigy in their sight. Heath.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 17:6". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/job-17.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

He, i.e. God, who is oft designed by this pronoun in this book.

A by-word, or proverb, or common talk. My calamities are so great and prodigious, that they fill all people with discourse, and are become proverbial to express extreme miseries. Compare Numbers 21:27,28 Deu 28:37.

And, or but, or although, as this particle is oft used.

Aforetime; so he aggravateth his present misery by the mention of his former prosperity. Or, to their faces, or openly. They do not only reproach me behind my back, but revile and mock me, and make a sport of my calamities, even to my face. I was as a tabret, i.e. I was the people’s delight and darling, and matter of their praise, and entertained by them with applauses, and as it were with instruments of music. Or,

I am as a tabret, i.e. matter of sport and merriment to them.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 17:6". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-17.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

6.Aforetime I was as a tabret — Literally, I am become a spitting upon the face; that is, one into whose face they (the people) spit.

Tabret — Hebrew, topheth. Its meaning is determined by kindred dialects — for instance, the Arabic taffafa, to spit with contempt. The valley of Topheth was a valley of abomination. Job’s treatment in this respect resembled that of his divine antitype.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 17:6". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-17.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 17:6. He — That is, God, who is generally designed by this pronoun in this book; hath made me also a by-word of the people — Or, a proverb, or subject of common talk. My miseries are so great and unprecedented that they fill all people with discourse, and are become proverbial to express extreme misery. And, or rather, but, or although, aforetime I was as a tabret — That is, I was the people’s delight and darling, the matter of their praise, and received by them with applauses, and, as it were, with instruments of music. Thus he aggravates his present misery by the mention of his former prosperity.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 17:6". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-17.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Example. Protestants, "a tabret." (Haydock) --- The people sing over my misfortune, Lamentations iii. 14. I am represented as a victim of God's just indignation. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "a laughter," or laughing-stock. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 17:6". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-17.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

"Like a roller coaster, Job"s emotions moved up and down rapidly. After requesting God to provide a bond for him, he accused God of making him a byword (literally, a proverb). In other words, people had been talking about his sufferings in a derogatory way. Not only did they deride him with their words; they even spat on him. What a picture of abject humiliation-a sick person, grieving over personal loss, chided by former friends, and then even rejected as a mangy, unwanted tramp by people who came to the garbage dump" (Zuck p. 79). This verse reveals that the view held by Job"s friends, that is, Job was really a sinner, was a common view held by many other people.

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 17:6". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-17.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

aforetime = in former times. Compare Ruth 4:7,

tabret = a drum. Hebrew. topheth. To the sound and warning of which people gave heed. See note on 1 Samuel 10:5. After this verse imagine a pause.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 17:6". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/job-17.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

He hath made me also a byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret.

He - God. The poet reverentially suppresses the name of God when speaking of calamities inflicted.

Byword - (Deuteronomy 28:37; Psalms 69:11). My awful punishment makes my name execrated everywhere, as if I must have been superlatively had to have earned it.

Aforetime ... tabret - as David was honoured (1 Samuel 18:6) [from top (Hebrew #8596), a drum]. Rather, from a different Hebrew root [ topet (Hebrew #8611), from tuwp], the sound expressing the act of spitting-`I am treated to my face as an object of disgust.' Literally, an object to be spit upon in the face (Numbers 12:14). So Raca, from a root to spit means (Matthew 5:22). (Umbreit).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 17:6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-17.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(6) He (i.e., God) hath made me also a byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret.—Or, I am become as a tabret, or drum openly, i.e., a signal of warning. “My case will be fraught with warning for others.” But some render it, “I am become an open abhorrence, or one in whose face they spit.” The general meaning is perfectly clear, though the way it may be expressed varies.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 17:6". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-17.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

He hath made me also a byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret.
a by-word
30:9; 1 Kings 9:7; Psalms 44:14
aforetime
or, before them. as a tabret.
Genesis 31:27; Isaiah 5:12
Reciprocal: Job 12:4 - one mocked

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 17:6". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-17.html.