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Bible Commentaries
Job 13

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Lo, mine eye hath seen all this, mine ear hath heard and understood it.

Mine eye hath seen all this - as to the dealings of Providence (Job 12:3).

Verse 2

What ye know, the same do I know also: I am not inferior unto you.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 3

Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God.

Surely I would speak to the Almighty. Job wishes to plead his cause before God (Job 9:34-35), as he is more and more convinced of the valueless character of his would-be "physicians" (Job 16:2). As the Almighty power of God precluded his power of standing before God in judgment, he had said he did not desire it (Job 9:3); but now, strongly urged by the sense of his integrity, and reckless of life and hope, he resolves to plead his cause before God, provided that God will give him rest in doing so. His so-called friends are "physicians of no value;" for, coming to console, they only aggravated his misery. So far is he from dreading the judgment of God, with which they threaten him (Job 11:5), that he rather desires God would come to try the issue, as he is ready to plead his cause before Him.

Verse 4

But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value.

Forgers of lies - literally, artful twisters of vain speeches (Umbreit).

Verse 5

O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom.

(Proverbs 17:28, "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise.") The Arabs say, 'The wise are dumb: silence is wisdom.'

Verse 6

Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips.

Pleadings of my lips - `reproofs of my lips:' the reproofs which my lips will lay upon you: so Septuagint (Maurer) [ riybowt (H7378)].

Verse 7

Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him?

Deceitfully - use fallacies to vindicate God in His dealings, as if the end justified the means. Their 'deceitfulness' for God against Job was, they asserted he was a sinner, because he was a sufferer.

Verse 8

Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God?

Accept his person - God's; i:e., be partial for Him, as when a judge favours one party in a trial, because of personal considerations.

Contend for God - namely, with fallacies and prepossessions against Job before judgment (Judges 6:31). Partiality can never please the impartial God; nor the goodness of the cause excuse the unfairness of the arguments.

Verse 9

Is it good that he should search you out? or as one man mocketh another, do ye so mock him?

Will the issue to you be good, when He searches out you (Maurer) and your arguments? Will you be regarded by Him, as pure and disinterested?

Mock - (Galatians 6:7, "God is not mocked"): 'Can you deceive Him as men are deceived?' (Maurer.) Can ye deceive Him as ye can deceive men with your arguments that I must be guilty!

Verse 10

He will surely reprove you, if ye do secretly accept persons.

If ye do, though secretly, act partially. (Note, Job 13:8; Psalms 82:1-2, "How long will ye judge unjustly and accept of the persons of the wicked?") God can successfully vindicate His acts, and needs no fallacious argument of man.

Verse 11

Shall not his excellency make you afraid? and his dread fall upon you? Shall not his excellency make you afraid? and his dread fall upon you?

Make you afraid? - namely, of employing sophisms in His name, (Jeremiah 10:7; Jeremiah 10:10, "Who would not fear thee, O King of nations ... At His wrath the earth shall tremble," etc.)

Verse 12

Your remembrances are like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay.

Remembrances - `proverbial maxims,' so called because well-remembered: 'memorial sentences,' are - rather, shall become. The old sentences to which you refer me (Job 8:8) shall become sentences of ashes.

Like unto ashes - or, 'parables of ashes'; the image of lightness and nothingness (Isaiah 44:20, "He feedeth on ashes." When weighed in God's balance, they shall be found light as ashes, and shall be scattered away).

Bodies, [ gabiym (H1354)] - rather, 'entrenchments;' those of clay, as opposed to those of stone, are easy to be destroyed; so the proverbs, behind which they entrench themselves, will not shelter them, when God shall appear to reprove them for their injustice to Job.

Verse 13

Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak, and let come on me what will.

Job would wish to be spared their speeches, so as to speak out all his mind as to his wretchedness (Job 13:14), happen what will.

Verse 14

Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in mine hand?

A proverb for, 'Why should I anxiously desire to save my life?' (Eichorn). The image in the first clause is that of a wild beast, which, in order to preserve his prey, carries it in his teeth. That in the second refers to men who hold in the hand what they want to keep secure. But Maurer takes the second clause without interrogation: 'Why should I take my flesh in my teeth' (i:e., be so keen about preserving my life)? I will even put my life in mine hand - i:e., expose my life to the most imminent danger. Judges 12:3; 1 Samuel 19:5; 1 Samuel 28:21; Psalms 119:109, favour this view. His danger lay in his venturing to ask God to come (Exodus 33:20).

Verse 15

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

In him - so the margin, or Qeri', reads [ low (H3807a)]. But the textual reading (Kethibh) is 'not,' which agrees best with the context, and other passages wherein he says he has no hope (Job 6:11; Job 7:6; Job 7:21; Job 9:25; Job 10:20; Job 19:10). 'Though He slay me, and I dare no more hope, yet I will maintain,' etc. - i:e., 'I desire to vindicate myself before Him,' as not a hypocrite (Umbreit and Noyes) [ lo' (H3808)]. Still the English version agrees with the alternations in Job elsewhere between total despair and fitful gleams of faith and, hope. Job 13:16 also favours the I English version. "He also (or this also) shall be my salvation," implying that he had still trust in God, and had not at all times cast off hope.

Verse 16

He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.

He - rather, 'This also already speaks in my behalf (literally, 'for my saving acquittal'); because a hypocrite would not wish to come before Him' (as I do). (Umbreit) (See last clause of Job 13:15)

Verse 17

Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with your ears.

My declaration - namely, that I wish to be permitted to justify myself immediately before God.

With your ears - i:e., attentively.

Verse 18

Behold now, I have ordered my cause; I know that I shall be justified.

Ordered - implying a constant preparation for defense in his confidence of innocence.

Verse 19

Who is he that will plead with me? for now, if I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost.

If ... - rather, 'then would I hold my tongue, and give up the ghost;' i:e., if any one can contend with me, and prove me false, I have no more to say; 'I will be silent, and die.' Like our 'I would stake my life on it' (Umbreit).

Verse 20

Only do not two things unto me: then will I not hide myself from thee.

Address to God.

Not hide - stand forth boldly to maintain my cause.

Verse 21

Withdraw thine hand far from me: and let not thy dread make me afraid.

(Note, Job 9:34; Psalms 39:10, "Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand"). The "two things" (Job 13:20) which Job requests are:

(1) That God will withdraw His heavily pressing hand from him - i:e., remove his disease;

(2) That God will not overwhelm him by His terrible presence, as He usually does those before whom He appears visibly. So Job will not shrink from meeting Him, to try his cause before Him face to face (Job 13:22).

Verse 22

Then call thou, and I will answer: or let me speak, and answer thou me.

Call - a challenge to the defendant to answer to the charges.

Answer - the defense begun.

Speak - as plaintiff.

Answer - to the plea of the plaintiff. Expressions from a trial.

Verse 23

How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.

The catalogue of my sins ought to be great, to judge from the severity with which God ever anew crushes one already bowed down. Would that He would reckon them up! He then would see how much my calamities outnumber them.

Sins? - singular, 'I am unconscious of a single particular sin, much less many' (Umbreit).

Verse 24

Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy?

Hidest ... face - a figure from the gloomy impression caused by the sudden clouding over of the sun.

Enemy. God treated Job as an enemy who must be robbed of power by ceaseless sufferings (Job 7:17; Job 7:21).

Verse 25

Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?

(Leviticus 26:36; Psalms 1:4). Job compares himself to a leaf already fallen, which the storm still chases here and there.

Break - literally, shake with (thy) terrors. Jesus Christ does not "break the bruised reed" (Isaiah 42:3; Isaiah 27:8).

Verse 26

For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth.

Writest - a judicial phrase, to note down the determined punishment. The sentence of the condemned used to be written down (Isaiah 10:1; Jeremiah 22:30; Psalms 149:9). (Umbreit.)

Bitter things - bitter punishments.

Makest me to possess - or inherit. In old age he receives possession of the inheritance sin thoughtlessly acquired in youth. 'To inherit sins' is to inherit the punishments inseparably connected with them in Hebrew ideas (Psalms 25:7).

Verse 27

Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks, and lookest narrowly unto all my paths; thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet.

Stocks - in which the prisoner's feet were made fast until the time of execution (Jeremiah 20:2).

Lookest narrowly - as an overseer would watch a prisoner.

Print. Either the stocks or his disease marked his soles (Hebrew, roots), as the bastinado would. Better, thou drawest (or diggest) (Gesenius) for thyself - i:e., to effect thy purpose-a line (or trench) (Gesenius) round my soles, beyond which I must not move (Umbreit). [ titchaqeh (H2707) Job 3:23; Job 19:8, "He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass."]

Verse 28

And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth, as a garment that is moth eaten.

Job speaks of himself in the third person, thus forming the transition to the general lot of man (Job 14:1; Psalms 39:11; Hosea 5:12). The sense is, Wilt not thou, in the case of one so consumed and worn out by disease, grant some respite from constant narrowly watching, and from hedging me in with calamities?


(1) It is often our only solace to flee from men, who do not understand us, to our God, who knows all the circumstances of our case, our motives of conduct and our difficulties and trials (Job 13:3).

(2) Human physicians both of body and mind often prove "physicians of no value" (Job 13:4). Like the woman with the issue of blood, the patient, after he has spent his all, and suffered many things of many physicians, is nothing bettered, but rather grows worse (Mark 5:26). But the good Physician knows our several cases intimately, and applies the exactly appropriate remedy to each.

(3) It is our wisdom, when we have nothing to say either kind or useful, to hold our peace (Job 13:5) altogether. Words spoken precipitately, and not strictly in consonance with truth and love, do an immensity of harm.

(4) The end or the intention, however good, will not justify the means which are bad. God does not need our flattery, or our false arguments for the truth (Job 13:7). Nay, He will hold us accountable for all such doings of evil that good my come. Whilst zealous for the cause of God, let us eschew all pious trauds, all unsound arguments, and leave it to God to vindicate His own honour in His own way and in His own good time.

(5) The sincere believer, however sorely tried (Job 13:15) by God, never parts with his trust in God. Like Jesus, amidst afflictions he can still triumphantly cry (Job 13:19), "Who is he that shall condemn me? Behold, the Lord God will help me" (Isaiah 50:9; Romans 8:33-35). Such faith, though exposed to a fiery ordeal for a time, will come forth the brighter and the more unalloyed at the last.

(6) Meanwhile, how it stings the conscience to have the iniquities of youth brought to remembrance! If the young would desire to escape a world of remorse and self-reproach hereafter, they must exercise a jealous watchfulness over their passions and ways now. Above all, they must enlist Almighty strength on their side against temptation, by unceasing prayer. So shall they not be as a moth-eaten garment (Job 13:28) at the last, but as a bride adorned and beautified for her husband.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-13.html. 1871-8.
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