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INTRODUCTION TO JOB 30
Job in this chapter sets forth his then unhappy state and condition, in contrast with his former state of prosperity described in the preceding chapter: things had taken a strange turn, and were just the reverse of what they were before; he that was before in such high esteem and credit with all sorts of men, young and old, high and low, rich and poor, now is had in derision by the meanest and basest of men, whose characters are described, Job 30:1; and the instances of their contempt of him by words and gestures are given, Job 30:9; he who enjoyed so much ease of mind, and health of body, is now filled with distresses of soul, and bodily diseases, Job 30:15; and he who enjoyed so much of the presence of God, and communion with him, and of his love and favour, was now disregarded, and, as he thought, cruelly used by him, who not only had destroyed his substance, but was about to bring him to the grave, Job 30:20; all which came upon him, though he had a sympathizing heart with the poor, and them that were in trouble, and when he expected better things, Job 30:25; and he close the chapter, lamenting his sad and sorrowful circumstances,
But now [they that are] younger than I have me in derision,.... Meaning not his three friends, who were men in years, and were not, at least all of them, younger than he, see Job 15:10; nor were they of such a mean extraction, and such low-lived creatures, and of such characters as here described; with such Job would never have held a correspondence in the time of his prosperity; both they and their fathers, in all appearance, were both great and good; but these were a set of profligate and abandoned wretches, who, as soon as Job's troubles came upon him, derided him, mocked and jeered at him, both by words and gestures; and which they might do even before his three friends came to him, and during their seven days' silence with him, and while this debate was carrying on between them, encouraged unto it by their behaviour towards him; to be derided by any is disagreeable to flesh and blood, though it is the common lot of good men, especially in poor and afflicted circumstances, and to be bore patiently; but to be so used by junior and inferior persons is an aggravation of it; as Job was, even by young children, as was also the prophet Elisha, 2 Kings 2:23; see Job 19:18;
whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock; either to have compared them with the dogs that kept his flock from the wolves, having some good qualities in them which they had not; for what more loving or faithful to their masters, or more vigilant and watchful of their affairs? or to set them at meat with the dogs of his flock; they were unworthy of it, though they would have been glad of the food his dogs ate of, they living better than they, whose meat were mallows and juniper roots, Job 30:4; and would have jumped at it; as the prodigal in want and famine, as those men were, would fain have filled his belly with husks that swine did eat; but as no man gave them to him, so Job disdained to give the meat of his dogs to such as those; or to set them "over" m the dogs of his flock, to be the keepers of them, to be at the head of his dogs, and to have the command of them; see the phrase in 2 Samuel 3:8; or else to join them with his dogs, to keep his flock with them; they were such worthless faithless wretches, that they were not to be trusted with the care of his flock along with his dogs. It was usual in ancient times, as well as in ours, for dogs to be made use of in keeping flocks of sheep from beasts of prey, as appears from Orpheus n, Homer o, Theocritus p, and other writers: and if the fathers of those that derided Job were such mean, base, worthless creatures, what must their sons be, inferior to them in age and honour, if any degree of honour belonged to them?
m עם כלבי "super canes", Noldius, p. 739. No. 1825. n De Lapidibus, Hypoth. ver. 53, 54. o Iliad. 10. ως κυνες περι μηλα, &c. v. 183. & Iliad 12. v. 303. p χ' αμιν εστι κυων φιλοποιμνιος, &c. Idyll. 5. v. 106. & Idyll. 6. v. 9, 10.
Yea, whereto [might] the strength of their hands [profit] me,.... For though they were strong, lusty, hale men, able to do business, yet their strength was to sit still and fold their hands in their bosoms, so that their strength was of no profit or avail to themselves or others; they were so slothful and lazy, that Job could not employ them in any business of his to any advantage to himself; and this may be one reason, among others, why he disdained to set them with the dogs of his flock to keep it; for the fathers seem to be intended all along to Job 30:8; though it matters not much to which of them the words are applied, since they were like father like son:
in whom old age was perished? who did not arrive to old age, but were soon consumed by their lusts, or cut off for their sins; and so the strength and labour of their hands, had they been employed, would have been of little worth; because the time of their continuance in service would have been short, especially being idle and slothful: some understand it of a lively and vigorous old age, such as was in Moses; but this being not in them, they were unfit for business, see Job 5:26; or they had not the endowments of old age, the experience, wisdom, and prudence of ancient persons, to contrive, conduct, and manage affairs, or direct in the management of them, which would make up for lack of strength and labour. Ben Gersom, Bar Tzemach, and others, interpret the word of time, or the time of life, that was perished or lost in them; their whole course of life, being spent in sloth and idleness, was all lost time.
For want and famine [they were] solitary,.... The Targum interprets it, without children; but then this cannot be understood of the fathers; rather through famine and want they were reduced to the utmost extremity, and were as destitute of food as a rock, or hard flint, from whence nothing is to be had, as the word signifies, see Job 3:7;
fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and waste: to search and try what they could get there for their sustenance and relief, fleeing through fear of being taken up for some crimes committed, or through shame, on account of their miserable condition, not caring to be seen by men, and therefore fled into the wilderness to get what they could there: but since men in want and famine usually make to cities, and places of resort, where provision may be expected; this may be interpreted not of their flying into the wilderness, though of their being there, perhaps banished thither, see Job 30:5; but of their "gnawing" q, or biting the dry and barren wilderness, and what they could find there; where having short commons, and hunger bitten, they bit close; which, though extremely desolate, they were glad to feed upon what they could light on there; such miserable beggarly creatures were they: and with this agrees what follows.
q הערקים ציה "qui rodebant in solitudine", V. L. "rodentes siccitatem", Schultens.
Who cut up mallows by the bushes,.... Which with the Troglodytes were of a vast size r; or rather "upon the bush" s or "tree"; and therefore cannot mean what we call mallows, which are herbs on the ground, and grow not on trees or bushes; and, besides, are not for food, but rather for medicine: though Plutarch t says they, were the food of the meaner sort of people; so Horace u speaks of them as such; and the word in the original is near in sound to a mallow; but it signifies something salt, wherefore Mr. Broughton renders it "salt herbs"; so Grotius, such as might grow by the seaside, or in salt marshes; and in Edom, or Idumea, where Job lived, was a valley of salt, see 2 Kings 14:7. Jarchi says it is the same with what the Syrians in their language call "kakuli", which with them is a kind of pulse; but what the Turks at this day call "kakuli" is a kind of salt herb, like to "alcali", which is the food of camels x the Septuagint render the word by "alima"; and, by several modern learned men, what is intended is thought to be the "halimus" of Dioscorides, Galen, and Avicenna; which is like unto a bramble, and grows in hedges and maritime places; the tops of which, when young and tender, are eaten, and the leaves boiled for food, and are eaten by poor people, being what soon filled the belly, and satisfied; and seem to be the same the Moors call "mallochia", and cry about the streets, as food for the poor to buy y: however it appears upon the whole to be the tops or leaves of some sort of shrub, which Idumean people used to gather and live upon. The following story is reported in the Talmud z concerning King Jannai, who
"went to Cochalith in the wilderness, and there subdued sixty fortified towns; and, upon his return, he greatly rejoiced, and called all the wise men of Israel, and said unto them, our fathers ate "malluchim" (the word used in this text of Job) at the time they were employed in building the sanctuary; so we will eat "malluchim" on remembrance of our fathers; and they set "malluchim" on tables of gold, and they ate;''
which the gloss interprets herbs; the name of which, in the Syriac language, is "kakuli"; the Targum is, who plucks up thorns instead of eatable herbs. Some a render the word "nettles", see Job 30:7;
juniper roots [for] their meat, or "bread" b; with the roots of which the poor were fed in time of want, as Schindler v observes: that bread may be, and has been made out of roots, is certain, as with the West Indians, out of the roots of "ages" and "jucca" c; and in particular juniper roots in the northern countries have been used for bread d; and there were a people in Ethiopia above Egypt, who lived upon roots of reeds prepared, and were called "rhisophagi" e, "root eaters": some render the words, "or juniper roots to heat", or "warm with" f, as the word is used in Isaiah 47:14; and coals of juniper have in them a very great and vehement heat, see Psalms 120:3; but if any part of the juniper tree was taken for this purpose, to warm with when cold, one should think the branches, or the body of the tree, should be cut down, rather than the roots dug up: another sense is given by some g, that meat or bread is to be understood of the livelihood these persons got by digging up juniper roots, and selling them: there are others that think, that not the roots of juniper, but of "broom" h, are meant, whose rape, or navew, or excrescence from the roots of it, seem to be more fit food. All this agrees with the Troglodytes, whom Pliny i represents as thieves and robbers, and, when pressed with famine, dig up herbs and roots: cutters of roots are reckoned among the worst of men by Manetho k.
r Diodorus Siculus, l. 3. p. 175. s עלי שיח "super virgulto", Montanus, Schultens; "super arbustum", Bochart. t In symposio septem sap. u "-----me pascunt olivae. Me cichorea levesque malvae". Carmin. l. 1. Ode. 31. Epod. Ode. 2. x Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 4. p. 760. y lbid. vid. Reinesium de Lingua Punic. c. 9. S. 20, 21. z T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 66. 1. a David de Pomis Lexic. fol. 80. 3. b לחמם "panis eorum", Montanus, Michaelis, Schultens. v Lexic. col. 1775. c Pet. Martyr. de Angleria, decad. 1. l. 1. d Olaus Magnus, de Ritu Gent. Septent. l. 12. c. 4. e Diod. Sic. l. 3. p. 159. f "Ad calefaciendum se", Pagninus so Kimchi, Sepher Shorash rad,
חמם. g Hillerus apud Schultens in loc. h שרש רתמים "radix genistarum", Michaelis, Schultens; so some in Mercerus, Drusius, & Gussetius, p. 839. i Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 8. k Apotelesm. l. 5. v. 183.
They were driven from among [men],.... From towns and cities, and all civil society, as unfit to be among them; not for any good, it may be observed, but for crimes that they had done, like our felons, and transported persons:
they cried after them as [after] a thief; as they were driven and run along, the people called after them, saying, there goes a thief; which they said by way of abhorrence of them, and for the shame of them, and that all might be warned and cautioned against them; and, generally speaking, such as are idle and slothful, and thereby become miserable, are pilferers and thieves.
To dwell in the cliffs of the valleys,.... Or "brooks" l, in such hollow places as were made by floods and streams of waters:
[in] caves of the earth, and [in] the rocks; where they betook themselves for fear of men, and through shame, being naked and miserable not fit to be seen: Job has respect to the Horites and Troglodytes, his neighbours, who dwelt in such places chiefly.
l נחלים "torrentium", Tigurine version, Pagninus, Montanus, &c.
Among the bushes they brayed,.... Like wild asses; so Sephorno, to which wicked men are fitly compared, Job 11:12; or they "cried", or "groaned" m, and "moaned" among the bushes, where they lay lurking; either they groaned through cold, or want of food; for the wild ass brays not but when in want, Job 6:5;
under the nettles they were gathered together; or "under thistles" n, as some, or "under thorns", as o others; under thorn hedges, where they lay either for shelter, or to hide themselves, or to seize upon a prey that might pass by; and so were such sort of persons as in the parable in Luke 14:23; it not being usual for nettles to grow so high as to cover persons, at least they are not a proper shelter, and much less an eligible one; though some render the words, they were "pricked" p, blistered and wounded, a word derived from this being used for the scab of leprosy, Leviticus 13:6; and so pustules and blisters are raised by the sting of nettles: the Targum is,
"under thorns they were associated together;''
under thorn hedges, as before observed; and if the juniper tree is meant in Job 30:4, they might be said to be gathered under thorns when under that; since, as Pliny q says, it has thorns instead of leaves; and the shadow of it, according to the poet r, is very noxious and disagreeable.
m ינהקו "clamabant", Vatablus, Mercerus; so Ben Gerson; "gemebant", Michaelis; so Broughton. n תחת חרול "sub carduis", Vatablus. o "Sub sentibus", V. L. "sub vepreto aliquo", Tigurine version; "sub vepribus", Cocceius; "sub spina", Noldius, p. 193. Schultens. p יספחו "pungebantur", Junius Tremellius "se ulcerant", Gussetius, p. 565. so Ben Gersom; "they smarted", Broughton. q Nat. Hist. l. 16. c. 24. r "Juniperi gravis umbra----" Virgil. Bucolic. Eclog. 10.
[They were] children of fools,.... Their parents were fools, or they themselves were such; foolish children, or foolish men, were they that derided Job; and their derision of him was a proof of it: the meaning is not that they were idiots, or quite destitute of reason and natural knowledge, but that they were men of slender capacities; they were "Nabal like", which is the word here used of them; and, indeed, it may easily be concluded, they could not have much knowledge of men and things, from their pedigree, education, and manner of living before described; though rather this may signify their being wicked men, or children of such, which is the sense of the word "fool" frequently in the Psalms of David, and in the Proverbs of Solomon; and men may be fools in this sense, as having no understanding of divine and spiritual things, who yet have wit enough to do evil, though to do good they have no knowledge:
yea, children of base men, or "men without a name" s; a kind without fame, Mr. Broughton renders it; an infamous generation of men, famous for nothing; had no name for blood, birth, and breeding; for families, for power and authority among men, having no title of honour or of office; nor for wealth, wisdom, nor strength, for which some have a name; but these men had no name but an ill one, for their folly and wickedness; had no good name, were of no credit and reputation with men; and perhaps, strictly and literally speaking, were without a name, being a spurious and bastardly breed; or living solitary in woods and deserts, in cliffs and caves; they belonged not to any tribe or nation, and so bore no name:
they are viler than the earth; on which they trod, and who are unworthy to tread upon it; and out of which their vile bodies were made, and yet were viler than that which is the basest of the elements, being most distant from heaven, the throne of God t; they were not so valuable as some parts of the earth, the gold and silver, but were as vile as the dross of the earth, and viler than that; they were crushed and bruised, and "broken" more than the earth, as the word u signifies; they were as small and as contemptible as the dust of the earth and the mire of the streets, and more so; or than the men of the earth, as Aben Ezra observes, than the meanest and worst, and vilest of men: Mr. Broughton renders it, "banished from the earth"; smitten, stricken, and driven out of the land where they had dwelt, Job 30:5; whipped out of it, as some translate the word w, as vagabonds; as a lazy, idle, pilfering set of people, not fit to be in human society; and by such base, mean, lowly people, were Christ and his apostles ill treated; see Matthew 23:33.
s בלי שם "absque nomine", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus; so Beza, Mercerus, Piscator, Drusius, Michaelis, Cocceius. t See Weemse's Observat. Natural. c 3. u נכאו "contriti", Montanus, Bolducius; so the Targum. w "Flagellati", Schultens.
And now am I their song,.... The subject of their song, of whom they sung ballads about the streets, in public places, and at their festivals and merriments, as Christ the antitype of Job was the song of the drunkard, Psalms 69:12; see Lamentations 3:14; or the meaning may be, they rejoiced in his afflictions and calamities, and made themselves merry with them, which was cruel and inhuman, as David's enemies did in his, and those abject, mean, base people, like those that derided Job: and so the Edomites rejoiced over the children of Judah, in the day of their destruction, and as the inhabitants of Popish countries will rejoice over the witnesses when slain, and make merry, Psalms 35:15;
yea, I am their byword: all their talk was about him continually, and at every turn would use his name proverbially for an hypocrite, or a wicked man; and thus Christ, of whom Job was a type, became a proverb in the mouth of the Jews, Psalms 69:11; and as the Jews themselves now are with others, Jeremiah 24:9.
They abhor me,.... As it is no wonder they should, since his inward and most intimate friends did, Job 19:19; they abhorred him, not for any evil in him; Job was ready enough to abhor that himself, and himself for it, as he did when sensible of it, Job 42:6; but for the good that was in him, spoken or done by him; which carried in it a reproof to them they could not bear; see Amos 5:10; they abhorred him also because of his present meanness and poverty, and because of his afflictions and distresses; and particularly the diseases of his body; so Christ was abhorred by the Scribes, Pharisees and elders of the people, the three shepherds his soul loathed, and their soul abhorred him for his meanness and for his ministry: and even by the whole nation of the Jews, by the body of the people, particularly when they preferred Barabbas, a thief and a murderer, to him, Mark 15:7; see
they flee from me; as from some hideous monster, or infectious person, as if he had the plague on him, or some nauseous disease, the stench of which they could not bear; so Christ his antitype was used by: his people; when they saw him in his afflictions they hid their faces from him, did not care to look at him, or come nigh him, Isaiah 53:3;
and spare not to spit in my face; not in his presence only, as some think, which is too low a sense, but literally and properly in his face, when they vouchsafed to come near him; in this opprobrious way they used him, than which nothing was a greater indignity and affront; and we need not scruple to interpret it in this sense of Job, since our Lord, whose type he was in this and other things, was so treated,
Because he hath loosed my cord,.... Not his silver cord, for then he must have died immediately, Ecclesiastes 12:6; though it may be understood of the loosening of his nerves through the force of his disease, and the afflictions he endured from God and man, see
Job 30:17; or rather of the shattered state and condition of his family and substance; which, while he enjoyed, he had respect and reverence from men; but now all being loosed, scattered, and destroyed, he was treated with derision and scorn; or, better still, of his power and authority as a civil magistrate, by which, as with a cord, he bound many to subjection and obedience to him, and which commanded reverence of him; but this being now loosed and removed from him, persons of the baser sort behaved in an insolent manner towards him; there is a "Keri", or a marginal reading of this clause, which we follow; but the "Cetib", or written text, is "his cord"; and so Mr. Broughton renders it, "he hath loosed his string"; which he explains of the string or rein of his government, that holdeth base men from striving with the mighty, and which comes to the same sense; for the power and authority Job had as a governor were of God, and which he had now loosened; the allusion may be to the string of a bow, which being loosed, it cannot cast out the arrow; and respect may be had to what Job had said,
Job 29:20, "my bow was renewed in my hand"; it then abode in strength, and its strength was renewed; but now he had lost his power and strength, at least it was greatly weakened, that he could not defend himself, nor punish the wicked:
and afflicted me; that is, God, who is also understood in the preceding clause, though not expressed. Job's afflictions were many, and there were second causes of them, who were the movers, instruments, and means of them, as Satan, the Sabeans and Chaldeans, yet they were of God, as the appointer, orderer, and sender of them; and so Job understood them, and always as here ascribed them to him; wherefore there was a just cause for them, and an end to be answered by them, and it became Job patiently to bear them, and to wait the issue of them: now, on this account, the above persons were emboldened and encouraged to use Job in the ill manner they did:
they have also let loose the bridle before me; the restraints that were upon them when Job was in his prosperity, and had the reins of government in his hand; these they now cast off, and showed no manner of reverence of him, nor respect for him; and the bridle that was upon their mouths, which kept them from speaking evil of him while he was in power, now they slipped it from them, and gave themselves an unbounded liberty in deriding, reproaching, and reviling him; see Psalms 39:1; and this they did before him, in his presence and to his face, who before were mute and silent.
Upon [my] right [hand] rise the youth,.... "Springeth", as Mr. Broughton translates the word; such as were just sprung into being, as it were; the word n seems to have the signification of young birds that are not fledged; have not got their feathers on them, but are just got out of the shell, as it were; and such were these young men: some render the word the "flower" o; as if the flower of men, the chief and principal of them, were meant, such as were Job's three friends, who are here distinguished from the mean and baser sort before spoken of; but the word even in this sense signifies young men, who are like buds and flowers just sprung out, or who are beardless boys, or whose beards are just springing out; so the young priests are in the Misnah p called "the flowers of the priesthood": now such as these rose up, not in reverence to Job, as the aged before did, but in an hostile way, to oppose, resist, reproach, and deride him; they rose up on his right hand, took the right hand of him, as if they were his superiors and betters; or they stood at his right hand, took the right hand to accuse him, as Satan did at Joshua's; see Psalms 109:6;
they push away my feet; they brought heavy charges and violent accusations against him, in order to cast him down, and trample upon him; nor would they suffer him to stand and answer for himself; he could have no justice done him, and so there was no standing for him. If this was to be understood literally, of their pushing at him to throw him down to the ground, or of an attempt trip up his heels, so that his feet were almost gone, and his steps had well nigh slipped, it was very rude and indecent treatment of him indeed:
and they raise up against me the ways of their destruction; as, in besieging a town, mounts, forts, and batteries are raised to destroy it, so those persons made use of all ways and means to destroy Job; or they trod upon him, and made him as a path or causeway to walk upon, in order utterly to destroy him. Mr. Broughton renders the words, "they cast upon me the causes of their woe", imputed all their calamities and miseries to him, reproached him on that account, and now were resolved to revenge themselves on him.
n פרחה "pullities", Schultens. o "Flos", Schmidt, Michaelis. p Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 1. sect. 7.
They mar my path,.... Hindered him in the exercise of religious duties; would not suffer him to attend the ways and worship of God, or to walk in the paths of holiness and righteousness; or they reproached his holy walk and conversation, and treated it with contempt, and triumphed over religion and godliness:
they set forward my calamity; added affliction to affliction, increased his troubles by their reproaches and calumnies, and were pleased with it, as if it was profitable as well as pleasurable to them, see Zechariah 1:15;
they have no helper; either no person of note to join them, and, to abet, assist, and encourage them; or they needed none, being forward enough of themselves to give him all the distress and disturbance they could, and he being so weak and unable to resist them; nor there is "no helper against them" q; none to take Job's part against them, and deliver him out of their hands, see Ecclesiastes 4:1.
q למו "adversus illos", Beza, Schmidt, Michaelis; so Noldius, p. 514.
They came [upon me] as a wide breaking in [of waters],.... As when a wide breach is made in the banks of a river, or of the sea, the waters rush through in great abundance, with great rapidity and swiftness; and with a force irresistible; and in like manner did Job's enemies rush in upon him in great numbers, overwhelming him in an instant, and he not able to oppose them; or as, when a wide breach is made in the wall of a city besieged, the besiegers pour themselves in, and bear down all before them: and thus Job in a like violent manner was run upon, and bore down by the persons before described:
in the desolation they rolled themselves [upon me]; as when a breach is made in a bank of a river, or of the sea, the waters roll themselves, one wave and flood over another; or, as when a breach is made in a wall, "in the broken place they tumble"; as Mr. Broughton renders it; the soldiers tumble one over another in haste, to get possession and seize the plunder: in such like manner did Job's enemies roll themselves on him, in order to crush and destroy him; and it may be rendered, "because of the desolation" r, because of bringing calamity on him in order to make him desolate; they came pouring in upon him with all their numbers, force, and strength, to bear him down, and crush him to the earth, as grass may be rolled upon, and beaten down by heavy bodies.
r תחת שאה "pro desolatione", Pagninus, Montanus; "propter vestalionem", Noldius, p. 3. No. 1864.
Terrors are turned upon me,.... Not the terrors of a guilty conscience, for Job had a clear one, and held fast his integrity; nor the terrors of a cursing and condemning law, for he knew he was justified by his living Redeemer, and his sins forgiven for his sake; nor the terrors of death, for that he had made familiar to him, and greatly desired it; nor the terrors of a future judgment, for there was nothing he was more solicitous for than to appear before the judgment seat of God, and take his trial there; but the afflictions that were upon him from the hand of God that was turned on him, who now hid his face from him, and withheld the influences of his grace and layout, and appeared as an enemy, and as a cruel one to him; the reason of all which he knew not, and this threw him into consternation of mind, and filled him with terror. Some s read the words
"my glory is turned into terrors;''
instead of being in the honour and glory, prosperity and happiness, he had been in, he was now possessed of terrors and distresses of various kinds: others render the words, "he is turned against me, as terrors", or "into terrors", or "with [them]" t; God cannot be turned or changed in his nature, in his will, counsel, purposes, and decrees, nor in his love and affection to his people; but he may turn in the outward dispensations of his providence according to his unchangeable will, as from evil to good, Jonah 3:9; so from doing good to evil,
Isaiah 63:10; this is complained of by the church, Lamentations 3:3; and deprecated by Jeremiah, Jeremiah 17:17; or there is "a turn, terrors are upon me"; there was a very visible turn in Job's affairs in many respects, in his health, substance, and family, and particularly in this; while he was in his office as a civil magistrate, and in all the glory of it, he was a terror to evil doers; and young men, when he appeared, hid themselves for fear of him; but now those impudently rise up against him, and are terrors to him: or there is an "overthrow" u, an overturning of things, as of his civil and temporal affairs, so of his spiritual ones; instead of that peace, serenity, and tranquillity of mind he had enjoyed; now nothing but terror and distress of mind on account of his afflictions and troubles:
they pursue my soul as the wind; terrors one after another; they pursued him closely, with great swiftness, and with a force irresistible, like the wind; they pursued his soul, his life, and threatened the taking away of it: the word for soul is not the usual word for it; it signifies "my principal one", as in the margin, as the soul is the principal part of man, the immortal breath of God, the inhabitant in the tenement of the body, the jewel in the cabinet, immaterial and immortal, and of more worth than the whole world; or "my princely one", being of a princely original, is from God, the Father of spirits, of a noble extract: Mr. Broughton renders it my "nobility", having princely rule and government in the body; that using the members of the body as its instruments; and especially it may be said to have such rule, when grace is implanted in it, as a ruling governing principle; and the Targum is, my principality or government: it may be rendered, "my free" w, liberal, ingenuous, and munificent one: Job had such a generous and beneficent soul; but now all means of exercising generosity and liberality were cut off from him; and particularly he had find a free ingenuous one, as he was actuated by the free spirit of God, Psalms 51:12, where this word is used; but now terrors pursuing him, a spirit of bondage unto fear was brought upon him: some x consider it as an apostrophe to God, "thou pursues, my soul, O God", c. but rather the meaning is, a distress or affliction pursued it, or everyone of the above terrors:
and my welfare passeth away as a cloud or "my salvation" y; not spiritual and eternal salvation, that was firm and stable, being fixed by the unalterable decree of God, secured in the covenant of grace, and engaged for to be wrought out by his living. Redeemer, and of which he had an application by the Spirit of God, and was possessed of the blessings of it; and though the joys and comforts of it, and views of interest in it, may go off for a while, yet Job seems to have had a strong faith of interest in it, and a lively and well grounded hope of its being his, Job 13:15; but his temporal salvation, health, and happiness, were gone suddenly, swiftly, utterly, entirely, totally, as a cloud dissolved into rain, or dissipated by the rays of the sun, or driven away with the wind, so as to be seen no more; nor had he any hope of its being restored to him: some understand this, as Sephorno, of the salvation with which he had saved others; but it was no more in the power of his hands, and the remembrance of it was gone from those who shared in it; see Hosea 6:4.
s So some in Bar Tzemach in loc. t ההפך עלי בלהות "conversus est contra me, sicut terrores", Schmidt; "in meros terrores, vel cum terroribus", Michaelis. u "Eversio", Schultens. w נדבתי "principalem meam", Mercerus; "meam principem", Vatablus, Piscator; "meam spontaneam", Pagninus, Montanus, Michaelis; "meam ultroneam", Drusius; "generosum meam spiritum", Schultens. x Schmidt. y ישעתי "salus mea", Pagninus, Montanus, &c.
And now my soul is poured out upon me,.... Either in prayer to God for help and deliverance; or rather he was dissolved as it were in floods of tears, because of his distress and anguish; or his spirits were sunk, his strength and courage failed, and his heart melted, and was poured out like water; yea, his soul was pouring out unto death, and he was, as he apprehended, near unto it; his body was so weakened and broken by diseases, that it was like a vessel full of holes, out of which the liquor runs away apace; so his life and soul were going away from him, his vital spirits were almost exhausted:
the days of affliction have taken hold upon me; afflictions seize on good men as well as others, and on them more than others; and there are certain times and seasons for them, appointed and ordered by the Lord; and there is a limited time, they are not to continue always, only for some days, for a time, and but a little time, and then they will have an end; but till that time comes, there can be no deliverance from them; being sent they come, coming they seized on Job, they laid hold on him, they "caught" him, as Mr. Broughton renders it, and held him fast, and would not let him go; nor could he get clear of them till God delivered him, who only can and does deliver out of them in his own time and way.
My bones are pierced in me in the night season,.... Such was the force of his disease, that it pierced and penetrated even into his bones, and the marrow of them; and such the pain that he endured in the muscles and tendons about them, and especially in the joints of them, that it was as if all his bones were piercing and breaking to pieces; he was in a like condition the sick man is described in Job 33:19; and as David and Hezekiah were, Psalms 6:2; and what aggravated his case was, that this was "in the night season", when he should have got some sleep and rest, but could not for his pain: some render the words by supplying them thus; God, or the disease, or the pain, pierced my bones in the night season; or "the night pierced my bones from me"; so Mr. Broughton; but rather they may be rendered, and the sense be,
"in the night season everyone of my bones pierce "the flesh" that is upon me:''
his flesh was almost wasted and consumed, through the boil and ulcers on him, and he was reduced to a mere skeleton; and when he laid himself down on his bed, these pierced through his skin, and stuck out, and gave him exquisite pain:
and my sinews take no rest; being contracted; or his nerves, as the word in the Arabic language signifies, as is observed by Aben Ezra, Jarchi, Donesh, and others; which were loosened, and the animal spirits were sunk, and he so low and dispirited, that he could get no rest: or the pulsatile veins and arteries, as Ben Gersom and Elias Levita a, in which the pulse beats, and which beats with less strength when persons are asleep than when awake; but such was the force of Job's disease, that it beat even in the night, when on his bed, so strongly, that he could take no rest for it; the pulse beats, as physicians say b, sixty times in a minute, and double the number in a burning fever, and which might be Job's case. Some take the word in the sense of fleeing or gnawing c, as it is used Job 30:3; and interpret it either of his enemies, who pursued after him, and had no rest in their beds, but went out in the night to inquire and hear what they could learn concerning him and his illness, whether it was become greater d; or who devoured him by their calumnies and detractions, and could not sleep unless they did mischief to him; see Proverbs 4:16; or of the worms with which his body was covered, and which were continually gnawing, never rested, nor suffered him to take any rest; the Targum is, they that gnash at me rest not.
a In Tishbi, p. 67. So Lud. Capellus in loc. b Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 4. p 764. c וערקי "et rodentia mea", Schultens; "fugientia membra mea", so some in Michaelis. d Vid. Bar Tzemach in loc.
By the great force [of my disease] is my garment changed,.... Either the colour of it, through the purulent matter from his ulcers running down upon it, or penetrating through it; or by reason of it he was obliged to shift himself, and to have a change of raiment very frequently; or the supplement, "of my disease", may be left out, and the sense be, with great force, through main strength, and with much difficulty, his garment was changed, was got off from him, sticking so close to him, and another put on:
it bindeth me about as the collar of my coat; his disease encompassed him about on all sides as the collar or edge of his coat encompassed his neck, and cleaved as close, and was as tight unto him as that, and threatened him perhaps with a suffocation or strangling; see Job 7:15; the allusion is to garments used in the eastern countries, which were only open at top and bottom; at the top there was a hole to put the head through when put on, and a binding about it, and a button to it, or some such thing, which kept it tight about the neck; see Exodus 28:32.
He hath cast me into the mire,.... As Jeremiah was literally; here it is to be understood in a figurative sense; not of the mire of sin, into which God casts none, men fall into it of themselves, but of the mire of affliction and calamity; see Psalms 40:2; and which Job here ascribes to God; and whereby he was in as mean, abject, and contemptible a condition, as if he had been thrown into a kennel, and rolled in it; and he speaks of it as an act of God, done with contempt of him, and indignation at him, as he apprehended it. Some Jewish writers e interpret it, "he taught me in the mire", or "it taught me"; his disease, his ulcers taught him to sit down in the mire, or in the midst of ashes, Job 2:8; but though this reading might admit of a good sense, as that Job was taught, as every good man is, many useful lessons in and by afflictions; yet it seems to be a sense foreign from the words:
and I am become like dust and ashes; a phrase by which Abraham expresses his vileness, meanness, and unworthiness in the sight of God,
Genesis 18:27; Job, through the force of his disease, looked like a corpse, or one half dead, and was crumbling and dropping into the dust of death and the grave, and looked livid and ash coloured; and even in a literal sense was covered with dust and ashes, when he sat among them, Job 2:8; though here it chiefly respects the miserable, forlorn, and contemptible condition in which he was.
e Vid. Jarchi & Bar Tzemach in loc.
I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me,.... Which added greatly to his affliction, that though he cried to the Lord for help and deliverance, yet he turned a deaf ear to him; and though he heard him, as undoubtedly he did, he did not answer him immediately; at least not in the way in which he desired and expected he would: crying is expressive of prayer, and supposes distress, and denotes vehemence of spirit:
I stand up; in prayer, standing being a prayer gesture, as many observe from Jeremiah 15:1;
Jeremiah 15:1- :; or he persisted in it, he continued praying, was incessant in it, and yet could obtain no answer; or this signifies silence, as some f interpret it; he cried, and then ceased, waiting for an answer; but whether he prayed, or whether he was silent, it was the same thing:
and thou regardest me [not]; the word "not" is not in this clause, but is repeated from the preceding, as it is by Ben Gersom and others; but some read it without it, and give the sense either thus, thou considerest me whether it is fit to receive my prayer or not, so Sephorno; or to renew my strokes, to add new afflictions to me, as Jarchi and Bar Tzemach; or thou lookest upon me as one pleased with the sight of me in such a miserable condition, so far from helping me; wherefore it follows.
f Jarchi, Ben Gersom, and Bar Tzemach.
Thou art become cruel to me,.... Or "turned", or "changed" g, to be cruel to me. Job suggests that God had been kind and gracious to him, both in a way of providence, and in showing special love and favour to him, in a very distinguishing manner; but now he intimates his affections were changed and altered, and these were alienated from him, and his love was turned into an hatred of him; this is one of the unbecoming expressions which dropped from his lips concerning God; for the love of God to his people is never changed; it remains invariable and unalterable, in all dispensations, in every state and condition into which they come; there may be some of God's dispensations towards them, which may have the appearance of severity in them; and he may make use of instruments to chastise them, which may use them cruelly; but even then his heart yearns towards them, and, being full of compassion, delivers out of their hands, and saves them,
with thy strong hand thou opposest thyself against me; God has a strong hand and arm, and none like him, and sometimes he puts forth the strength of it, and exerts his mighty power in afflicting his people, and his hand presses them sore, and they can scarcely stand up under it; and then it becomes them to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, and patiently bear it; and sometimes they take him to be their adversary, an enemy unto them, and filled with hatred of them, indignation against them, setting himself with all his might and main to ruin and destroy them; and this is a sad case indeed, to have such apprehensions of God, though unjust ones; for, as if God be for us, who shall be against us? so if he be against us, it signifies little who is for us; for there is no contending with him, Job 9:3.
g תהפך "mutatus es", V. L. Tigurine version; "versus es", Beza, Piscator; so Drusius, Cocceius, Vatablus, Michaelis, Mercerus, Schultens.
Thou liftest me up to the wind,.... Of affliction and adversity, to be carried up with it, and tossed about by it, as chaff or stubble, or a dry leaf, being no more able to stand up against it than such things are to oppose the wind; though some interpret this of God's lifting him up in his state of prosperity, in which he was very visible and conspicuous to all, and enjoyed much light and comfort; but then he raised him to such an estate, with a view to cast him down, and that his fall and ruin might be the greater; and so this is observed as a proof of his being become cruel to him:
thou causest me to ride [upon it]; seemingly in great pomp and state, but in great uncertainty and danger, being at best in a slippery place, in very fickle circumstances, as the event showed; or rather the sense is, that he was swiftly carried into destruction, as if he rode on the wings of the wind to it, and was hurried thither at once, as soon as he was taken up with the tempest of adversity:
and dissolvest my substance; his outward substance, his wealth and riches, his family, and the health of his body, all which as it were melted away, or were carried away as with a flood; and so as the metaphor of a tempestuous wind is used in the former clause, here that of an overflowing flood, which removed from him what seemed to be the most solid and substantial: the word is sometimes used for wisdom, and even sound wisdom, Proverbs 2:7; wherefore some have interpreted it of his being at his wits' end, of losing his reason and understanding, and which were at least disturbed and confounded by his afflictions; but his discourses and speeches show the contrary, and he himself denies that wisdom was driven from him, Job 6:13.
For I know [that] thou wilt bring me [to] death,.... Quickly and by the present affliction upon him; he was assured, as he thought, that this was the view and design of God in this providence, under which he was to bring him to death and the grave; that he would never take off his hand till he had brought him to the dust of death, to that lifeless dust from whence he had his original; otherwise, that he would he brought thither, sooner or later, was no great masterpiece of knowledge; every man knows this will be the case with him as with all; death is become necessary by sin, which brought it into the world, and the sentence of it on all men in it, and by the decree and appointment of God, by which it is fixed and settled that all should die; and this is confirmed by all experience in all ages, a very few excepted, only two persons, Enoch and Elijah, Genesis 5:24: sometimes the death of persons is made known to them by divine revelation, as to Aaron and Moses, Numbers 20:12; and sometimes it may be gathered to be nigh from the symptoms of it on the body; from growing diseases, and the infirmities of old age; but Job concluded it from the manner of God's dealing with him, as he thought in wrath and indignation, determining to make an utter end of him:
and [to] the house appointed for all living; the grave, which is the house for the body when dead to be brought unto and lodged in; as the "house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens", 2 Corinthians 5:1, is for the soul in its separate state, until the resurrection morn; which house or grave is man's "long home", Ecclesiastes 12:5; and this is prepared and appointed for all men living, since all must die; and all that die have a house or grave, though that is sometimes a watery, and not an earthy one; however the dust of everybody has a receptacle provided for it, where it is reserved until the time of the resurrection, and then it is brought forth, Revelation 20:13; and this is by divine appointment; the word used signifies both an appointed time and place, and is often used of the Jewish solemnities, which were fixed with respect to both; and also of the people or congregation that attended them; the grave is the general rendezvous of mankind, and both the time when and the place where the dead are gathered and brought unto it are fixed by the determinate will and counsel of God.
Howbeit he will not stretch out [his] hand to the grave,.... Or, "verily" h, truly he will not, c. I am well assured he never will, meaning either he never would stretch out his hand to shut up the grave or rather keep it shut, and prevent Job from going down into it; or to open it, and fetch him out of it when in it: God is indeed able to do either of these, and has done it; sometimes, when persons are brought as it were to the gates of death and the grave, he says to them, Return; yea, when they are brought to the dust of death, he prevents them going into the grave, by restoring them to life before carried thither, as the Shunammite's son, 2 Kings 4:32; Jairus's daughter, Mark 5:41; and the widow's son of Nain, even when he was carrying to his grave, Luke 7:12; some have been laid in the grave, and God has stretched out his hand, and raised them up again; as the man that was laid in Elisha's grave, 2 Kings 13:21, and Lazarus after he had lain in the grave some days, John 11:39; but such things are not usually done; in common, when a man dies, and is laid in the grave, he rises not again, till the heavens be no more; and this Job was persuaded would be his case:
though they cry in his destruction; that is, though the friends and relations of the sick person, or the poor that he has been kind and bountiful unto, should cry unto God, while he is destroying him by the diseases upon him, and which threaten him with destruction, that he would spare his useful and valuable life; yet he is inexorable, and will not hear, but go on with what he intends to do, and takes him off by death, and lays him in the grave, "the pit of destruction",
Psalms 55:23, so called because it wastes and consumes bodies laid in it; and when once laid there, all cries for a restoration to life again are vain and fruitless. Some take these words as expressed in a way of solace, as if Job comforted himself with this thought under his present afflictions, that, when once he was brought to death and the grave, there would be an end of all his sorrow; the hand of the Lord, that was now stretched out on him in a terrible way, would be no longer stretched out on him; he would then cease to afflict him, and he should be where the weary are at rest; and so the last clause is read with an interrogation, "is there any cry", or "do any cry, in his destruction?" i; no, when death has done its office, and the body is laid in the grave, there is no more pain nor sorrow, nor crying; all tears are wiped away, and there is no more sense of afflictions and sufferings; they are all at an end. Mr. Broughton renders these words as to the sense the same, and as in connection with the following ones, "and prayed I not when plague was sent? when hurt came to any, thereupon cried I not?" and so do some others k.
h אך "verum", Mercerus; profecto, Drusius, Bolducius; "sane", Tigurine version. i אם בפידו להן שוע "aut clamant aliqui post obitum suum?" Tigurine version; "si in contritione ejus eis clamor?" Montanus, Bolducius. k Junius & Tremellius.
Did not I weep for him that was in trouble?.... In outward trouble, whether personal in his own body, or in his family, or in his worldly affairs, or from wicked men, the men of the world; or in inward trouble, in soul trouble, on account of indwelling sin, the breakings forth of it, the lowness of grace, as to exercise, the hidings of God's face, and the temptations of Satan: or "for him that is hard of day" l; with whom times are hard, the days are evil, with respect either to things temporal or spiritual; now Job had a sympathizing heart with such persons; he wept with them that wept; his bowels yearned towards them; he felt their sufferings and their sorrows, which is a Godlike frame of soul; for God, in all the afflictions of his people, is afflicted; a disposition of mind like that of the living Redeemer, who cannot but be touched with the feeling of the infirmities of saints, having been in all points tempted as they; and is a fruit of the Spirit of God, and very becoming the relation the saints stand in to one another, being members of the same body, and of each other; and therefore, when one member suffers, all the rest should sympathize with it, and, being brethren, should be loving, pitiful, and courteous to each other; and should consider that they also are in the body, and liable to the same distresses, whether outward or inward:
was [not] my soul grieved for the poor? in general, and especially for the Lord's poor, for such in all ages have been chosen and called by him; for these Job was grieved at heart, when he saw their distress through poverty; and he not only expressed his concern for them by tears and words, but by distributing liberally to their necessities,
Job 31:17; and by which he showed his grief was real, hearty, and sincere, as here expressed; his soul was grieved, and he was sorry at his very heart for them: some render the words, "was not my soul like a pool of water?" m not only his head and his eyes, as Jeremiah's on another account, but his soul melted, and flowed like water with grief for them; and others, as Mr. Broughton, "did not my soul burn for the poor?" with sorrow for them, and an ardent desire to relieve them; see 2 Corinthians 9:12; now this was the frame of Job's mind in the time of his prosperity, very different from that in Amos 6:4; and was certain and well known; he could appeal to all that knew him for the truth of it, it being what, none could deny that had any knowledge of him; yea, he could appeal to an omniscient God, he was now speaking to, for the truth of it; nay, it is delivered in the form of an oath, "if I did not weep", c. n, as in Job 31:16.
l לקשה יום "ob durum die", Montanus, Mercerus, Drusius "cui dura crant tempora", Junius Tremellius "ei cui durus dies", Cocceius. m עצמה "restagnavit", some in Mercerus. n אם לא בכיתי "si non deflevi", Tigurine version; "si non flevi", Piscator.
When I looked for good,.... As he thought he might reasonably expect it, since he had shown such a sympathizing spirit to persons in trouble, and such pity and mercy to the poor: in the time of his prosperity, he looked for a continuance of the good things he enjoyed, and expected to have had them for many years to come, and to have died in the possession of them, Job 29:18; and even in his adversity, though he had received evil things at the hand of God, which he took patiently; yet at first he did not think they would always continue, but that there would be a turn of affairs, and he should again receive good at his hands; and he had been looking for it, as good men have reason to expect it; since God is good and does good, and especially to his own people, and has laid up goodness for them that fear him, and such an one Job was; and has promised good things unto them, both temporal and spiritual; for godliness and godly men have the promise of this life, and of that which is to come: but Job was disappointed in his expectation; for, says he,
then evil came [unto me], the evil of affliction, one upon the back of another, even when in the height of his prosperity; and since repeated evil, new afflictions, came upon him by the appointment, order, and direction of God:
and when I waited for light; for the light of outward prosperity, such as he had formerly enjoyed; and for the light of God's countenance, which he most earnestly sought after, and longed for, and was in a waiting posture for it, as good men have reason to be; since light is sown for them in the purposes and decrees of God, in his counsel and covenant, in his Gospel, and the promises of it; and therefore should wait for the springing of it up, as the husbandman does for the springing up of the corn sown in the earth, and lying under the clods; and seeing that to the upright there arises light in darkness; and though God hides his face from them, for a moment, he will have mercy on them, and therefore should wait his time to be gracious to them; but Job had waited long, and, as he thought, to no purpose: for
there came darkness; the darkness of adversity, still thicker and darker, and no appearance of spiritual light and favour, or any discoveries of the love of God to him, or enjoyment of his presence; see Jeremiah 8:15.
My bowels boiled, and rested not,.... All contained within him, his heart, lungs, and liver, in a literal sense, through a violent fever burning within him; or figuratively, being under great distress and trouble, by reason of his afflictions, outward and inward, see Jeremiah 4:19;
the days of affliction prevented me; came sooner upon him than he thought; he did not expect the evil days to come, and the years draw nigh in which he should have no pleasure, until he was more advanced in years, and the time of his dissolution was at hand; they came at once, and unawares, upon him, when he looked not for them: some render the word "met me" o, unexpectedly; or rather, they "rushed upon me" p, in an hostile way; came in troops, and invaded and surrounded him, see
o קדמני "occurrerunt mihi", Piscator, Cocceius. p "Incursarunt me", Schultens.
I went mourning without the sun,.... So overwhelmed with grief, that he refused to have any comfort from, or any advantage by the sun; hence Mr. Broughton renders it, "out of the sun"; he did not choose to walk in the sunshine, but out of it, to indulge his grief and sorrow the more; or he went in black attire, and wrapped and covered himself with it, that he might not see the sun, or receive any relief by it: or "I go black, [but] not by the sun" q; his face and his skin were black, but not through the sun looking upon him and discolouring him, as in Song of Solomon 1:6; but through the force of his disease, which had changed his complexion, and made him as black as a Kedarene, or those that dwell in the tents of Kedar, Song of Solomon 1:5; and he also walked without the sun of righteousness arising on him, with healing in his wings, which was worst of all:
I stood up, [and] I cried in the congregation: either in the congregation of the saints met together for religious worship, where he cried unto God for help and deliverance, and for the light of his countenance, Job 30:20; or such was the extreme anguish of his soul, that when a multitude of people got about him to see him in his distressed condition, he could not contain himself, but burst out before them in crying and tears, though he knew it was unbecoming a man of his age and character; or he could not content himself to stay within doors and soothe his grief, but must go abroad and in public, and there expressed with strong cries and tears his miserable condition.
q בלא חמה "non propter solem", Vatablus; "non a sole", Junius Tremellius, Drusius, Mercerus "non ob solem", Piscator.
I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls. Or ostriches, as the Targum, Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions; either he was obliged to dwell with such persons as were comparable to these creatures for their devouring words, hissing noise, and venomous speeches, or for want of compassion, and for their cruelty, as David is said to be among lions, Psalms 57:4; or also, he was like unto them, being solitary and alone, all his friends and acquaintance standing at a distance from him, as these creatures love lonesome and desolate places; or because of the wailing and howling noise they make, to which his mournful notes bore some resemblance,
Psalms 57:4- :; or because, when these creatures cry and howl, and make a noise, no mercy is shown to them, none pities or regards them; and so it was with him; though he stood and cried in ever so public a manner, none had any compassion on him.
My skin is black upon me,.... Either through deep melancholy, as may be observed in persons of such a disposition, through grief and trouble; or rather through the force of his disease, the burning ulcers and black scabs with which he was covered, as the Jews were through famine, in their captivity, Lamentations 4:8;
and my bones are burnt with heat; with the heat of a burning fever; which not only made his inwards boil, but reached to his bones, and dried up the marrow of them. Galen says r that bones may become so dry as to be crumbled into sand: the Syriac version is
"my bones are burnt as his who is in a hot wind;''
such as were common in the eastern countries, which killed men at once, and they became as black as a coal s.
r Apud Bartholin. de Cruce, sect. 12. p. 107. s Lamentations 4:8- :.
My harp also is [turned] to mourning,.... Which he used, as David, either in religious worship, expressing praise to God thereby, or for his recreation in an innocent way; but now it was laid aside, and, instead of it, nothing was heard from him, or in his house, but the voice of mourning:
and my organ into the voice of them that weep; another instrument of music, which had its name from the pleasantness of its sound, and was of early use, being first invented by Jubal, Genesis 4:21; but not that we now so call, which is of late invention: those instruments which Job might have and use, both in a civil and in a religious way, were now, through afflictions, become useless to him, and neglected by him; or these expressions in general may signify, that, instead of mirth and joy he was wont to have, there were nothing now to be heard but lamentation and woe; see Lamentations 5:15.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 30". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany