Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. younger--not the three friends
(Job 15:10; 32:4, 6, 7).
A general description:
the lowness of the persons who derided him;
the derision itself. Formerly old men rose to me
Now not only my juniors, who are bound to reverence me
but even the mean and base-born actually deride me;
opposed to, "smiled upon"
This goes farther than even the "mockery" of Job by relations
(Job 12:4; 16:10, 20; 17:2, 6; 19:22).
Orientals feel keenly any indignity shown by the young. Job speaks as a
rich Arabian emir, proud of his descent.
dogs--regarded with disgust in the East as unclean
They are not allowed to enter a house, but run about wild in the open
air, living on offal and chance morsels
(Ps 59:14, 15).
Here again we are reminded of Jesus Christ
"Their fathers, my coevals, were so mean and famished that I would not
have associated them with (not to say, set them over) my dogs in
guarding my flock."
2. If their fathers could be of no profit to me, much less the sons,
who are feebler than their sires; and in whose case the hope of
attaining old age is utterly gone, so puny are they
[MAURER]. Even if they had "strength of hands,"
that could be now of no use to me, as all I want in my present
affliction is sympathy.
3. solitary--literally, "hard as a rock"; so translate,
rather, "dried up," emaciated with hunger. Job describes the rudest
race of Bedouins of the desert [UMBREIT].
fleeing--So the Septuagint. Better, as Syriac,
Arabic, and Vulgate, "gnawers of the wilderness."
What they gnaw follows in
in former time--literally, the "yesternight of desolation and
waste" (the most utter desolation;
that is, those deserts frightful as night to man, and even there from
time immemorial. I think both ideas are in the words darkness
[GESENIUS] and antiquity [UMBREIT].
4. mallows--rather, "salt-wort," which grows in deserts and is eaten
as a salad by the poor [MAURER].
by the bushes--among the bushes.
juniper--rather, a kind of broom, Spartium junceum
still called in Arabia, as in the Hebrew of Job, retem, of which
the bitter roots are eaten by the poor.
5. they cried--that is, "a cry is raised." Expressing the contempt
felt for this race by civilized and well-born Arabs. When these wild
vagabonds make an incursion on villages, they are driven away, as
thieves would be.
6. They are forced "to dwell."
cliffs of the valleys--rather, "in the gloomy valleys"; literally,
"in the gloom of the valleys," or wadies. To dwell in valleys is, in
the East, a mark of wretchedness. The troglodytes, in parts of Arabia,
lived in such dwellings as caves.
7. brayed--like the wild ass
for food). The inarticulate tones of this uncivilized rabble are but
little above those of the beast of the field.
gathered together--rather, sprinkled here and there. Literally,
"poured out," graphically picturing their disorderly mode of
encampment, lying up and down behind the thorn bushes.
nettles--or brambles [UMBREIT].
8. fools--that is, the impious and abandoned
base--nameless, low-born rabble.
viler than, &c.--rather, they were driven or
beaten out of the land. The Horites in Mount Seir
with which compare
Ge 36:20, 21;
De 2:12, 22)
were probably the aborigines, driven out by the tribe to which Job's
ancestors belonged; their name means troglodytæ, or "dwellers in
caves." To these Job alludes here
and Ge 24:4-8,
which compare together).
Strikingly similar to the derision Jesus Christ underwent
Here Job returns to the sentiment in
It is to such I am become a song of "derision."
10. in my face--rather, refrain not to spit in deliberate contempt
before my face. To spit at all in presence of another is thought in
the East insulting, much more so when done to mark "abhorrence."
Compare the further insult to Jesus Christ
11. He--that is, "God"; antithetical to "they"; English Version here follows the marginal reading (Keri).
my cord--image from a bow unstrung; opposed to
The text (Chetib), "His cord" or "reins" is better; "yea,
each lets loose his reins" [UMBREIT].
12. youth--rather, a (low) brood. To rise on the right hand is to
accuse, as that was the position of the accuser in court
push . . . feet--jostle me out of the way
ways of--that is, their ways of (that is, with a view to my)
destruction. Image, as in
from a besieging army throwing up a way of approach for itself to a
13. Image of an assailed fortress continued. They tear up the path
by which succor might reach me.
they have no helper--Arabic proverb for contemptible persons. Yet
even such afflict Job.
But it is better to retain the image of
Job 30:12, 13.
"They came [upon me] as through a wide breach," namely, made by
the besiegers in the wall of a fortress
in the desolation--"Amidst the crash" of falling masonry, or "with
a shout like the crash" of, &c.
soul--rather, "my dignity" [UMBREIT].
16-23. Job's outward calamities affect his mind.
poured out--in irrepressible complaints
17. In the Hebrew, night is poetically personified, as in
"night pierceth my bones (so that they fall) from me" (not as
English Version, "in me"; see
sinews--so the Arabic, "veins," akin to the
Hebrew; rather, "gnawers" (see on
namely, my gnawing pains never cease. Effects of elephantiasis.
18. of my disease--rather, "of God"
garment changed--from a robe of honor to one of mourning, literally
and metaphorically [UMBREIT]. Or rather, as SCHUTTENS, following up
My outer garment is changed into affliction; that is, affliction
has become my outer garment; it also bindeth me fast round (my throat)
as the collar of the inner coat; that is, it is both my inner
and outer garment. Observe the distinction between the inner and outer
garments. The latter refers to his afflictions from without
the former his personal afflictions
UMBREIT makes "God" subject to "bindeth," as in
19. God is poetically said to do that which the mourner had done to
With lying in the ashes he had become, like them, in dirty color.
20. stand up--the reverential attitude of a suppliant before a
not--supplied from the first clause. But the intervening affirmative
"stand" makes this ellipsis unlikely. Rather, as in
(not only dost thou refuse aid to me "standing" as a suppliant, but),
thou dost regard me with a frown: eye me sternly.
22. liftest . . . to wind--as a "leaf" or "stubble"
The moving pillars of sand, raised by the wind to the clouds, as
described by travellers, would happily depict Job's agitated spirit, if
it be to them that he alludes.
dissolvest . . . substance--The marginal Hebrew reading
(Keri), "my wealth," or else "wisdom," that is, sense and spirit,
or "my hope of deliverance." But the text (Chetib) is better:
Thou dissolvest me (with fear,
in the crash (of the whirlwind; see on
[MAURER]. UMBREIT translates
as a verb, "Thou terrifiest me."
23. This shows
cannot be restricted to Job's hope of a temporal deliverance.
the realm of the dead
24. Expressing Job's faith as to the state after death. Though one
must go to the grave, yet He will no more afflict in the ruin of
the body (so Hebrew for "grave") there, if one has cried to Him
when being destroyed. The "stretching of His hand" to punish after
death answers antithetically to the raising "the cry" of prayer in the
second clause. MAURER
gives another translation which accords with the
if it be natural for one in affliction to ask aid, why should it be
considered (by the friends) wrong in my case? "Nevertheless does not a
man in ruin stretch out his hand" (imploring help,
If one be in his calamity (destruction) is there not therefore a "cry"
(for aid)? Thus in the parallelism "cry" answers to "stretch--hand";
"in his calamity," to "in ruin." The negative of the first clause is to
be supplied in the second, as in
25. May I not be allowed to complain of my calamity, and beg
relief, seeing that I myself sympathized with those "in trouble"
(literally, "hard of day"; those who had a hard time of it).
26. I may be allowed to crave help, seeing that, "when I looked for
good (on account of my piety and charity), yet evil," &c.
27. bowels--regarded as the seat of deep feeling
boiled--violently heated and agitated.
prevented--Old English for "unexpectedly came upon" me,
28. mourning--rather, I move about blackened, though not by the
sun; that is, whereas many are blackened by the sun, I am, by the heat
of God's wrath (so "boiled,"
the elephantiasis covering me with blackness of skin
as with the garb of mourning
This striking enigmatic form of Hebrew expression occurs,
stood up--as an innocent man crying for justice in an assembled
29. dragons . . . owls--rather, "jackals," "ostriches," both of
which utter dismal screams
in which respect, as also in their living amidst solitudes (the emblem
of desolation), Job is their brother and companion; that is, resembles
them. "Dragon," Hebrew, tannim, usually means the crocodile; so
perhaps here, its open jaws lifted towards heaven, and its noise making
it seem as if it mourned over its fate [BOCHART].
30. upon me--rather, as in
"my skin is black (and falls away) from me."
31. organ--rather, "pipe"
"My joy is turned into the voice of weeping"
These instruments are properly appropriated to joy
(Isa 30:29, 32),
which makes their use now in sorrow the sadder by contrast.