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Wednesday, September 27th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Job 3

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

Verse 1

After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.

Opened Job his mouth. The Orientals speaks seldom, and then sententiously. Hence, this formula, expressing deliberation and gravity (Psalms 78:2). Formally began. Cursed his day - the strict Hebrew word for cursing [ wayªqaleel (H7043)]; not the same as in Job 1:5. Job cursed his birthday, but not his God.

Verse 2

And Job spake, and said, Spake - Hebrew, answered - i:e., not to any actual question that preceded, but to the question virtually involved in the case. His outburst is singularly wild and bold (Jeremiah 20:14). To desire to die, so as to be free from sin, is a mark of grace; to desire to die, so as to escape troubles, is a mark of corruption. He was ill fitted to die who was so unwilling to live. But his trials were greater and his light less than ours.

Verse 3

Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.

The night in which - rather, 'the night which said.' The words in italics are not in the Hebrew. Night is personified, and poetically made to speak. So in Job 3:7 and Psalms 19:2. The birth of a male in the East is a matter of joy; often not so of a female.

Verse 4

Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it.

Let not God regard it - rather, more poetically, Seek it out [ daarash (H1875)]. 'Let not God stoop from his bright throne to raise it up from its dark hiding-place.' The curse on the day in Job 3:3 is simplified in Job 3:4-5; that on the night, in Job 3:6-10.

Verse 5

Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.

Let ... the shadow of death (deepest darkness, Isaiah 9:2)

Stain it. This is a later sense of the verb [ gaa'al (H1350)] (Gesenius); better the old and more poetic idea, 'Let darkness (the ancient night of chaotic gloom) resume its rights over light (Genesis 1:2), a claim that day as its own.'

A cloud - collectively, a gathered mass of dark clouds. The blackness of the day terrify it - literally, the obscurations [ kimriyreey (H3650)], whatever darkens the day (Gesenius). The verb in Hebrew [bi`eet] expresses sudden terrifying. May it be suddenly affrighted at its own darkness. Umbreit explains it of magical incantations that darken the day, forming the climax to the previous clauses; Job 3:8 speaks of cursers of the day similarly. But the former view is simpler. Others refer it to the poisonous Simoon wind.

Verse 6

As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months.

Seize upon it - as its prey; i:e., utterly dissolve it.

Joined onto the days of the year - rather, by poetic personification, 'Let it not rejoice [yichal] in the circle of days and nights, and months, which form the circle of years.'

Verse 7

Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein.

Solitary - rather, unfruitful. 'Would that it had not given birth to me' (Maurer and Umbreit).

Verse 8

Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning.

Them ... that curse the day. If mourning be the right rendering in the latter clause of this verse; these words refer to the hired mourners of the dead (Jeremiah 9:17). But the Hebrew for mourning [ liwyaataan (H3882)] elsewhere always denotes an animal, whether it be the crocodile or some huge serpent (Isaiah 27:1) that is meant by leviathan [ Liwyaataan (H3882)]. Therefore the expression cursers of day refers to magicians who were believed to be able by charms to make a day one of evil omen. So Balaam (Numbers 22:5). This accords with Umbreit's view (Job 3:5); or to the Ethiopians and Atlantes, who 'used to curse the sun at his rising, for burning up them and their country' (Herodotus). Necromancers claimed power to control or rouse wild beasts at will; as the Indian serpent-chambers at this day (Psalms 58:5). Job does not say they had the power they claimed; but, supposing they had, may they curse the day. Schuttens renders it by supplying words, as follows: Let those that are ready for anything, call it (the day) the raiser up of leviathan - i:e., of a host of evils.

Verse 9

Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day:

Dawning of the day - literally, eyelashes of morning; [ bª`ap`apeey (H6079)] eyelashes, [ shaachar (H7837)] morning. The Arab poets call the sun the eye of day. His early rays, therefore, breaking forth through the ruddy sky before sunrise, are the opening eyelids or eyelashes of morning.

Verse 10

Because it shut not up the doors of my mother's womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 11

Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?

Died ... from the womb - why died I not as soon as I came forth from the womb?

Verse 12

Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts that I should suck? Why did the knees prevent me? - old English for anticipate my wants. The reference is to the solemn recognition of a newborn child by the father, who used to place it on his knees as his own, whom he was bound to rear (Genesis 30:3; Genesis 50:23; Isaiah 66:12).

Verse 13

For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest,

Lain ... quiet ... slept - a gradation. I should not only have lain, but been quiet and not only been quiet, but slept. Death in Scripture is called sleep (Psalms 13:3); especially in the New Testament, where the Resurrection-awaking is more clearly set forth (1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:10).

Verse 14

With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves;

With kings ... which built desolate places for themselves - who built up for themselves what proved to be (not palaces, but) ruins! The wounded spirit of Job, once a great emir himself, sick of the vain struggles of mortal great men after grandeur, contemplates the palaces of kings, now desolate heaps of ruins. His regarding the repose of death the most desirable end of the great ones of the earth, wearied with heaping up perishable treasures, marks the irony that breaks out from the black clouds of melancholy (Umbreit). The "for themselves" marks their selfishness. Hirzel explains it of mausoleums, such so are found still, of stupendous proportions, in the ruins of Petra of Idumea. Ewald thinks the pyramids are meant. Affliction shows a man the real emptiness of worldly greatness.

Verse 15

Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver:

Filled their houses with silver. Some take this of the treasures which the ancients used to bury with their dead. But see the last verse.

Verse 16

Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.

Untimely birth (Psalms 58:8) - preferable to the life of the restless miser (Ecclesiastes 6:3-5).

Verse 17

There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.

The wicked - originally meaning those ever restless, full desires (Isaiah 57:20-21).

Weary - literally, those whose strength is wearied out (Revelation 14:13) with the vexatious caused by the ungodly.

Verse 18

There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor.

There the prisoners rest - from their chains.

Voice of the oppressor - driving them with threats to task work (cf. an instance, Exodus 5:13-19).

Verse 19

The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.

The small and great are there - on the same footing, without distinction of rank (Proverbs 22:2).

Servant. The slave is there manumitted from slavery.

Verse 20

Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul;

Wherefore (seeing that the dead are free from every earthly sorrow) is light given - literally, 'giveth He light,' namely, God. Often omitted reverentially (Job 24:23; Ecclesiastes 9:9). Light - i:e., life. The joyful light ill suits the mourner. The grave is most in unison with their feelings.

Verses 21-22

Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures;

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 23

Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?

Whose way is hid. The picture of Job is drawn from a wanderer who has lost his way, and who is hedged in, so as to have no exit of escape (Hosea 2:6; Lamentations 3:7; Lamentations 3:9).

Verse 24

For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters.

My sighing cometh before I eat - i:e., prevents my eating. Before I begin to eat, my sighs interrupt me, so that I cannot take 'my food' (so the Hebrew, cf. margin) - i:e., my necessary food (Umbreit). Maurer translates the same Hebrew here, 'My sighing cometh (not before [ lipªneey (H6440)] I eat, but) in the likeness of' - i:e., as though it were-`my food;' and in Job 4:19, after the manner of the moth (Psalms 80:5; Psalms 42:3). My roaring is poured out like the waters - an image from the rushing sound of water streaming (cf. Psalms 32:3). "Roaring" [ sha'ªgotaay (H7581)] is properly said of a lion, or one in agony (Psalms 22:1).

Verse 25

For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.

The thing which I ... feared is come upon me. In the beginning of his trials, when he heard of the loss of one blessing he feared the loss of another, and when he heard of the loss of that he feared the loss of a third.

That which I was afraid of is come unto me - namely, the ill-opinion of his friends, as though he were a hypocrite, on account of his trials.

Verse 26

I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.

I was not in safety ... yet trouble came - referring, not to his former state but to the beginning of his troubles. From that time I have had no rest there has been no intermission of sorrows. And, although I have been and am harassed with so many trials, yet a fresh trouble is coming-namely, my friends' suspicion of my being a hypocrite. This gives the starting point to the whole ensuing controversy.


(1) The truthfulness of the inspired volume appears in its so faithfully recording the blemishes, as well as the graces, of its heroes, Job, the man especially distinguished for pious patience under the overwhelming pressure of accumulated calamities, heightened by the want of real sympathy in his professed friends, gives way to the passionate promptings of a wounded spirit.

(2) Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall. None can say what he may be tempted to when exposed to fiery trial: but the believer knows Him who saith, "As thy days, so shall thy strength be:" he therefore prays, "Lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil."

(3) Christ alone is the faultless model to copy, and He has promised to "keep the feet of His saints." Let us follow the example of His patience, who, when He was reviled, reviled not again, when He suffered, threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously. (4) By impatient murmurings against the trying dispensations of God's Providence, we only aggravate the evil.

(5) A day is coming when the ungodly may well wish they had never been born. But so long as men are in this life, they are in the land of grace and hope; and they may so turn to good account all the contingencies of this life, even its sorest trials, as to have reason to bless God to all eternity for their creation well as redemption.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-3.html. 1871-8.
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