Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
FIRST SERIES CONTINUED.
2. throughly weighed--Oh, that instead of censuring my complaints
when thou oughtest rather to have sympathized with me, thou wouldst
accurately compare my sorrow, and my misfortunes; these latter
"outweigh in the balance" the former.
3. the sand--
are swallowed up--See Margin [that is, "I want words to express
my grief"]. But Job plainly is apologizing, not for not having had words
enough, but for having spoken too much and too boldly; and the
Hebrew is, "to speak rashly" [UMBREIT,
"Therefore were my words so rash."
4. arrows . . . within me--have pierced me. A poetic image
representing the avenging Almighty armed with bow and arrows
(Ps 38:2, 3).
Here the arrows are poisoned. Peculiarly appropriate, in reference to
the burning pains which penetrated, like poison, into the
inmost parts--("spirit"; as contrasted with mere surface flesh
wounds) of Job's body.
set themselves in array--a military image
All the terrors which the divine wrath can muster are set in array
5. Neither wild animals, as the wild ass, nor tame, as the ox, are
dissatisfied when well-supplied with food. The braying of the one and
the lowing of the other prove distress and want of palatable food. So,
Job argues, if he complains, it is not without cause; namely, his
pains, which are, as it were, disgusting food, which God feeds him with
But he should have remembered a rational being should evince a better
spirit than the brute.
6. unsavoury--tasteless, insipid. Salt is a chief necessary of
life to an Easterner, whose food is mostly vegetable.
the white--literally, "spittle"
which the white of an egg resembles.
7. To "touch" is contrasted with "meat." "My taste refused
even to touch it, and yet am I fed with such meat of
sickness." The second clause literally, is, "Such is like the sickness
of my food." The natural taste abhors even to touch insipid food, and
such forms my nourishment. For my sickness is like such nauseous food
(Ps 42:3; 80:5; 102:9).
No wonder, then, I complain.
8. To desire death is no necessary proof of fitness for death. The
ungodly sometimes desire it, so as to escape troubles, without thought
of the hereafter. The godly desire it, in order to be with the Lord;
but they patiently wait God's will.
9. destroy--literally, "grind" or "crush"
let loose his hand--God had put forth His hand only so far as to wound
the surface of Job's flesh
(Job 1:12; 2:6);
he wishes that hand to be let loose, so as to wound deeply
cut me off--metaphor from a weaver cutting off the web, when finished,
from the thrum fastening it to the loom
10. I would harden myself in sorrow--rather, "I would exult in the
pain," if I knew that that pain would hasten my death
translates the Hebrew of "Let Him not spare," as "unsparing"; and
joins it with "pain."
concealed--I have not disowned, in word or deed, the commands of the
He says this in answer to Eliphaz' insinuation that he is a hypocrite.
God is here called "the Holy One," to imply man's reciprocal obligation
to be holy, as He is holy
11. What strength have I, so as to warrant the hope of restoration
to health? a hope which Eliphaz had suggested. "And what" but a
miserable "end" of life is before me, "that I should" desire to
"prolong life"? [UMBREIT].
ROSENMULLER not so well
translate the last words "to be patient."
12. Disease had so attacked him that his strength would need to be
hard as a stone, and his flesh like brass, not to sink under it. But he
has only flesh, like other men. It must, therefore, give way; so that
the hope of restoration suggested by Eliphaz is vain
13. Is not my help in me?--The interrogation is better omitted. "There
is no help in me!" For "wisdom," "deliverance" is a better rendering.
"And deliverance is driven quite from me."
14. pity--a proverb. Charity is the love which judges indulgently
of our fellow men: it is put on a par with truth in
for they together form the essence of moral perfection [UMBREIT]. It is the spirit of Christianity
Pr 10:12; 17:17).
If it ought to be used towards all men, much more towards friends. But
he who does not use it forsaketh (renounceth) the fear of the Almighty
15. Those whom I regarded as "my brethren," from whom I looked for
faithfulness in my adversity, have disappointed me, as the streams
failing from drought--wadies of Arabia, filled in the winter, but dry
in the summer, which disappoint the caravans expecting to find water
there. The fulness and noise of these temporary streams answer to the
past large and loud professions of my friends; their dryness in summer,
to the failure of the friendship when needed. The Arab proverb says of
a treacherous friend, "I trust not in thy torrent"
stream of brooks--rather, "the brook in the ravines which passes
away." It has no perpetual spring of water to renew it (unlike "the
fountain of living waters,"
at the end); and thus it passes away as rapidly as it arose.
16. blackish--literally, "Go as a mourner in black clothing"
A vivid and poetic image to picture the stream turbid and black with
melted ice and snow, descending from the mountains into the valley. In
the [second] clause, the snow dissolved is, in the poet's view, "hid"
in the flood [UMBREIT].
17. wax warm--rather, "At the time when." ("But they soon wax")
[UMBREIT]. "they become narrower (flow in a narrower bed), they are
silent (cease to flow noisily); in the heat (of the sun) they are
consumed or vanish out of their place. First the stream flows more
narrowly--then it becomes silent and still; at length every trace of
water disappears by evaporation under the hot sun"
18. turned aside--rather, "caravans" (Hebrew, "travellers") turn
aside from their way, by circuitous routes, to obtain water. They had
seen the brook in spring full of water: and now in the summer heat, on
their weary journey, they turn off their road by a devious route to
reach the living waters, which they remembered with such pleasure. But,
when "they go," it is "into a desert"
UMBREIT]. Not as
English Version, "They go to nothing," which would be a tame
repetition of the drying up of the waters in
instead of waters, they find an "empty wilderness"; and, not having
strength to regain their road, bitterly disappointed, they "perish."
The terse brevity is most expressive.
19. the troops--that is, "caravans."
Tema--north of Arabia-Deserta, near the Syrian desert; called from
Tema son of Ishmael
still so called by the Arabs.
Job 6:19, 20
give another picture of the mortification of disappointed hopes,
namely, those of the caravans on the direct road, anxiously awaiting
the return of their companions from the distant valley. The mention of
the locality whence the caravans came gives living reality to the
Sheba--refers here not to the marauders in North Arabia-Deserta
but to the merchants
in the south, in Arabia-Felix or Yemen, "afar off"
Caravans are first mentioned in
men needed to travel thus in companies across the desert, for defense
against the roving robbers and for mutual accommodation.
The companies . . . waited for them--cannot refer to
the caravans who had gone in quest of the waters; for
describes their utter destruction.
20. literally, "each had hoped"; namely, that their companions would
find water. The greater had been their hopes the more bitter now their
they came thither--to the place.
and were ashamed--literally, "their countenances burn," an Oriental
phrase for the shame and consternation of deceived expectation; so
"ashamed" as to disappointment
21. As the dried-up brook is to the caravan, so are ye to me,
namely, a nothing; ye might as well not be in existence
Margin "like to them," or "to it" (namely, the waters of the
brook), is not so good a reading.
ye see, and are afraid--Ye are struck aghast at the sight of my
misery, and ye lose presence of mind. Job puts this mild construction
on their failing to relieve him with affectionate consolation.
22. And yet I did not ask you to "bring me" a gift; or to "pay for
me out of your substance a reward" (to the Judge, to redeem me from my
punishment); all I asked from you was affectionate treatment.
23. the mighty--the oppressor, or creditor, in whose power the debtor
24, 25. Irony. If you can "teach me" the right view, I am willing
to be set right, and "hold my tongue"; and to be made to see my error.
But then if your words be really the right words, how is it that they
are so feeble? "Yet how feeble are the words of what you call the right
view." So the Hebrew is used (in
Mic 2:10; 1:9).
The English Version, "How powerful," &c., does not agree so well
with the last clause of the verse.
25. And what will your arguings reprove?--literally, "the reproofs
which proceed from you"; the emphasis is on you; you may find fault,
who are not in my situation [UMBREIT].
26. Do you imagine--or, "mean."
to reprove words and (to reprove) the speeches of one desperate,
(which are) as wind?--mere nothings, not to be so narrowly taken to task?
UMBREIT not so well takes the Hebrew for "as wind," as "sentiments";
making formal "sentiments" antithetical to mere "speeches," and
supplying, not the word "reprove," but "would you regard," from the
27. literally, "ye cause" (supply, "your anger")
[UMBREIT], a net,
namely, of sophistry [NOYES and
SCHUTTENS], to fall upon the desolate (one
bereft of help, like the fatherless orphan);
and ye dig (a pit) for your friend--that is, try to ensnare him, to
catch him in the use of unguarded language
metaphor from hunters catching wild beasts in a pit covered with
brushwood to conceal it. UMBREIT from the
Syriac, and answering to his interpretation of the first clause,
has, "Would you be indignant against your friend?" The
means to "feast upon." As the first clause asks, "Would you catch
him in a net?" so this follows up the image, "And would you next
feast upon him, and his miseries?" So the Septuagint.
28. be content--rather, "be pleased to"--look. Since you have so
falsely judged my words, look upon me, that is, upon my countenance: for
(it is evident before your faces) if I lie; my countenance will betray
me, if I be the hypocrite that you suppose.
29. Return--rather, "retract" your charges:
let it not be iniquity--that is, (retract) that injustice may not be
done me. Yea retract, "my righteousness is in it"; that is, my right is
involved in this matter.
30. Will you say that my guilt lies in the organ of speech, and
will you call it to account? or, Is it that my taste (palate) or
discernment is not capable to form a judgment of perverse things? Is it
thus you will explain the fact of my having no consciousness of guilt?