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Bible Commentaries
Job 6

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

Verse 1

But Job answered and said,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 2

Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together!

Throughly weighed. Oh that, instead of censuring my complaints, when thou oughtest rather to have sympathized with me, thou wouldest accurately compare together my sorrow and my misfortunes: these latter outweigh in the balance the former.

Laid - literally, 'lifted up.'

Verse 3

For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up.

The sand. "The sand is weighty" (Proverbs 27:3).

Are swallowed up - See margin. So Psalms 77:4 - "I am so troubled that I cannot speak." 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, Gesenius, Rosenmuller). Translate, 'Therefore were my words so rash.' If my complaint has been somewhat violent, it is not without much reason.

Verse 4

For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.

Arrows ... within me - have pierced me. A poetic image, representing the avenging Almighty armed with bow and arrows. "Thine arrows stick fast in me" (Psalms 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 (Judges 20:33). All the terrors which the divine wrath can master are set in array against me. "The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, He shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: He shall cry, yea, roar; He shall prevail against His enemies."

Verse 5

Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or loweth the ox over his fodder?

Wild ass bray. Neither wild animals, as the wild donkey, nor tame animals, as the ox, are dissatisfied when well supplied with food. The braying of the one and the lowing of the other prove distress and lack 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 (end of Job 6:7). But he should have remembered, a rational being should evince a better spirit than the brute.

Verse 6

Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg?

Unsavoury - tasteless; insipid. Salt is a chief necessary of life to an Eastern, whose food is mostly vegetable.

The white - literally, spittle (1 Samuel 21:13), which the white of an egg resembles.

Egg, [ chalaamuwt (H2495)]. Gesenius and Syriac version translate 'an insipid potherb:' a proverbial phrase with the Arabs. The Chaldaic version and Rabbins support the English version. The sense is, How can I possibly like that which is distasteful-namely, my misery?

Verse 7

The things that my soul refused to touch are as my sorrowful meat.

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' - i:e., my food exciting sickness or disgust. My miseries are like disgusting food [ kidweey (H1741) lachmiy (H3899)]. The natural taste abhors even to touch insipid food, and such forms my nourishment. For my sickness is like such nauseous food (Umbreit). "My tears have been my meat day and night" (Psalms 42:3); "Thou feedest them with the bread of tears" (Psalms 80:5). No wonder, then, I complain.

Verse 8

Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!

Have my request. 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.

Verse 9

Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off!

Destroy - literally, grind or crush (Isaiah 3:15).

Let loose his hand. God had put forth His hand only so far as to wound the surface of Job's flesh - "Only upon himself put not forth thine hand" (Job 1:12); "He is in thine hand, but save his life" (Job 2:6). He wishes that hand to be let loose, so as to wound deeply and vitally.

Cut me off - metaphor from a weaver cutting off the web, when finished, from the thrum fastening it to the loom. "I have cut off like a weaver my life; He will cut me off with pining sickness" (margin, 'from the thrum,' Isaiah 38:12).

Verse 10

Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.

I would harden myself - rather, 'I would exult [ caalad (H5539), leap for joy] in the pain,' if I knew that that pain would hasten my death (Gesenius). Umbreit translates the Hebrew of "Let Him not spare," unsparing; and joins it with pain or sorrow. The English version is more vivid.

Concealed. I have not disowned in word or deed the commands of the Holy One. "I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed" (Psalms 119:46); "I have kept back nothing that was profitable-for I have not shunned to declare-all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:20; Acts 20:27). He says this in answer to Eliphaz' insinuation that he is a hypocrite. The force of the "for" is, I would exult in any pain, however unsparing, provided it brought speedy death; because I have no consciousness of having disowned the commands of the Holy One, so as to disturb my peace in dying. God is here called the Holy One, to imply man's reciprocal obligation to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 19:2).

Verse 11

What is my strength, that I should hope? and what is mine end, that I should prolong my life?

What is my strength - 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). Having continually before me the prospect of a miserable end sooner or later, why should I prolong life, and not meet my end at once, and so be put out of pain? Maurer, as the He,brew is not the usual phrase "prolong the days" (Isaiah 53:10), but "prolong the soul or mind" [ nepesh (H5315)], translates, 'be patient any longer.' But the English version is good Hebrew, and accords with the sense. Judges 16:16, margin, 'soul shortened,' the opposite of "prolonging the soul" here - i:e., be patient (as "shorten the soul" means to be vexed or impatient), favours Maurer's translation, 'patiently bear my calamities any longer' (cf. Ecclesiastes 7:8 - "The patient in spirit").

Verse 12

Is my strength the strength of stones? or is my flesh of brass?

My strength. 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 (see remark, Job 6:11).

Verse 13

Is not my help in me? and is wisdom driven quite from me?

Is not my help in me? The interrogation is better omitted. 'There is no help in me!' For "wisdom," deliverance [ tuwshiyaah (H8454)] is a better rendering. 'And deliverance is driven quite from me.' Or what is tantamount, 'Is it not the case that there is no help in me, and that deliverance (or security) is driven quite from me?' (Maurer).

Verse 14

To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.

Pity - a proverb [ checed (H2617)]. Checed is the love which judges indulgently of our fellowmen: it is put on a par with truth in Proverbs 3:3. "Mercy and truth," for they together form the essence of moral perfection (Umbreit). It is the spirit of Christianity. "Above all, have fervent charity among yourselves" (1 Peter 4:8); "Charity beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (1 Corinthians 13:7); "Love covereth all sins" (Proverbs 10:12); "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity" (Proverbs 17:17). If it ought to be used toward all men, much more toward friends. It was in this loving spirit, in judging Job under his afflictions, that his friends proved themselves so deficient. But he who does not use it forsaketh (renounceth) the fear of the Almighty. 'Love is due to the afflicted from his friend, unless he (the latter) has renounced the fear of the Almighty' (Umbreit; James 2:13).

Verse 15

My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as the stream of brooks they pass away;

My brethren, 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-wadys of Arabia, filled in the winter and spring, but dry in the summer, which disappoint the caravans expecting to find water there. The fullness and noise of these temporary streams answers 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.' "Thou shalt be like a spring of water whose waters deceive not" (Isaiah 58:11, margin; cf. Jeremiah 15:18).

Stream of brooks - "like the brook in the ravines which passes away." It has no perpetual spring of water to renew it, unlike "the fountain of living waters" (Jeremiah 2:13); "waters sure" (Isaiah 33:16); and thus passes away as rapidly as it arose.

Verse 16

Which are blackish by reason of the ice, and wherein the snow is hid:

Blackish - literally, Go as a mourner in black clothing (Psalms 35:14, end). 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 next clause the snow dissolved is in the poet's view, hidden in the flood (Umbreit).

Verse 17

What time they wax warm, they vanish: when it is hot, they are consumed out of their place.

Wax warm - rather, 'At the time when (But they soon, Umbreit) they become narrower (flow in a narrower bed-literally, are bound: akin to a Syriac root), 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 becomes silent and still: at length every trace of water disappears by evaporation under the hot sun (Umbreit). But Maurer translates like English version, 'What time they are burnt up' - i:e., dried up with summer heat [ zaarab (H2215) - the same as tsaarab (H6866) and saarap (H8313), to burn], 'they are destroyed speedily.' The parallelism supports this.

Verse 18

The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing, and perish.

The paths of their way are turned aside. Caravans (Hebrew, travelers) turn aside from their way (Umbreit). But Maurer supports the English version, the paths of their (the travelers) 'way turn aside' - i:e., travelers turn aside from their way [ 'aarªchowt (H734) darkaam (H1870)] 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 up' it is 'into a desert' (Noyes and Umbreit). Not as the English version, "They go to nothing," which would be a tame repetition of the drying up of the waters in Job 6:17: instead of waters, they find an 'empty wilderness' [ tohuw (H8414), emptiness; a desert]; and not having strength to regain their road, bitterly disappointed, they perish. The terse brevity is most expressive.

Verse 19

The troops of Tema looked, the companies of Sheba waited for them.

The troops - i:e., caravans. Tema, north of Arabia Deserta, near the Syrian desert, called from Tema son of Ishmael (Genesis 25:15; Isaiah 21:14; Jeremiah 25:23). 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 picture. Sheba refers here not to the marauders in North Arabia Deserta (Job 1:15), but to the merchants (Ezekiel 27:22) in the South, in Arabia Felix or Yemen, "afar off" (Jeremiah 6:20; Matthew 12:42; Genesis 10:28). Caravans are first mentioned Genesis 37:25; men needed to travel thus in companies across the desert, for defense against the roving robbers, and for mutual accommodation.

The companies waited cannot refer to the caravans who had gone in quest of the waters; because Job 6:18 describes their utter destruction.

Verses 20-21

They were confounded because they had hoped; they came thither, and were ashamed.

They had hoped - literally, each had hoped-namely, that their companions would find water. The greater had been their hopes the more bitter now their disappointment; they came there 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 - "Hope maketh not ashamed" (Romans 5:5). 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 (Umbreit): just as the brook in summer is a nonentity to the thirsty travelers.

Now - namely, when I have you present with me-in contrast to past time when they were away, and when Job had hoped for comfort from their coming to him. The margin, like to them or 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.

My casting down - ruin. Umbreit translates 'terror' - i:e., my frightful misery. Hardly have ye with your own eyes seen my calamity, when, suspecting that I must have deserved it, ye desert me in terror.

Verse 22

Did I say, Bring unto me? or, Give a reward for me of your substance?

Bring unto me. 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.

Verse 23

Or, Deliver me from the enemy's hand? or, Redeem me from the hand of the mighty?

The mighty - the oppressor, or creditor in whose power the debtor was (Umbreit).

Verses 24-25

Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.

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? [ maarats (H4834), to be weak or sick]. 'Yet how feeble are the words of what you call the right view!' So the Hebrew is used in Micah 2:10; Micah 1:9, margin. The English version, "How powerful," etc., does not agree so well with the last clause of the verse, "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). But Gesenius supports the English version, 'How strong [ nimrªtsuw (H4834)] (cf. margin 1 Kings 2:8; Micah 2:10, English version) are right words.' So Kimchi and Jewish traditions.

Verse 26

Do ye imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that is desperate, which are as wind?

Do ye imagine, or mean, to reprove words, and (to reprove) the speeches of one desperate, (which are) as wind (cf. Job 6:3, remark at end) mere nothings, not to be so narrowly taken, to task? or, as Maurer, 'which pass to the wind,' the wind carrying away the their sound. Umbreit, not so well, takes the Hebrew for as wind, 'as sentiments;' making formal sentiments [ ruwach (H7307)], antithetical to mere speeches, and supplying, not the word "reprove," but 'wound you regard,' from the first clause.

Verse 27

Yea, ye overwhelm the fatherless, and ye dig a pit for your friend.

Ye overwhelm: - 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' - i:e., try to ensnare him, to catch him in the use of unguarded language (Noyes). "They have prepared a net for my steps-they have digged a pit before me" (Psalms 57:6); metaphor from hunters catching wild beasts in a pit covered With brushwood to conceal it. Umbreit, from the Syriac version, and answering to his interpretation of the first clause, translates the second clause, 'Would you be indignant against your friend?' The Hebrew in Job 41:6 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 Septuagint But Maurer supports the English version in the second clause. Jeremiah 18:20, and Proverbs 26:27 favour this. In the former clause he translates 'Ye might as well cast lots for an orphan' (cf. 1 Samuel 14:42; Psalms 22:18). When ye can act so to me, ye are ready for any act of cruel injustice.

Verse 28

Now therefore be content, look upon me; for it is evident unto you if I lie.

Be content - rather, be pleased to-look. Since you have so falsely judged my words, look upon me - i:e., 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. Umbreit translates, 'Could I then lie before your face?' If I were to address you otherwise than as I do, attesting my own innocence, I should be lying to your face - i:e., in a most shameful way.

Verse 29

Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity; yea, return again, my righteousness is in it.

Return - namely, from the wrong course which ye have entered on in your conference with me - i:e., retract your charges.

Let it not be iniquity - i:e., (retract) that injustice-literally, injustice before judgment [ `awlaah (H5766)] (Leviticus 19:15) - may not be done me. Yea retract, "my righteousness is in it" - i:e., my right is involved in this matter.

Return again. Maurer joins the Hebrew [ `owd (H5750)] with the following clause: 'Return, my righteousness is still in it' - i:e., my cause is still a just one.

Verse 30

Is there iniquity in my tongue? cannot my taste discern perverse things? Iniquity in my tongue. 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? (Umbreit.) [ cheek (H2441)] The palate, is used as the instrument of speaking, (Job 31:30, margin; Proverbs 5:3, margin.)

Thus perverse things means wicked speeches; "devouring words" (Psalms 52:4). Is it that I am not myself conscious when I utter nefarious speeches?


(1) It is easy to condemn others for impatience and want of resignation, forgetting that we ourselves, if exposed to the same trials, might probably not be one whit more patient and resigned than he whom we condemn. If our friends often complain of their sorrows, we may he sure their complaints are not altogether without cause, and it is the part of common humanity to show considerateness to one in affliction. It is a blessed fruit of ripened faith to have the spirit of meekness in bearing one another's burdens, "considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1-2).

(2) There is often much of genuine kindness to be met with in earthly friends; but oftener the friends to whom we have most looked up, and on whose sympathy We have especially calculated, have, when put to the test, as bitterly disappointed our hopes us the dried-up brook disappoints the thirsty traveler in the wilderness. But there is a Friend who has never betrayed the hopes of them that trust in Him. "When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water" (Isaiah 41:17-18).

`One there is above all others, O how he loves! His is love beyond a brother's, O how he loves! Earthly friends may fail and grieve us, One day kind, the next day leave us, But this Friend will ne'er deceive us, O how he loves!'

(3) A good-conscience does not save the soul, but it assures us of salvation and peace with God (Job 6:10; Hebrews 10:22; Hebrews 9:14), and so takes away the fear of death. But impatience of the sorrows of life is no proof of fitness for death (Job 6:8-10). We should be willing to live, however afflicted, and be willing to die, however prosperous, if so God will it. Whilst there is life there is hopes; and in this respect David-who said, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Him who is the health of my countenance" (Psalms 42:11) - is a better pattern to us than Job, who says, "What is my strength, that I should hope?"

(4) Kind and judicious words spoken in season are at times more precious than the most costly gifts (Job 6:22-23; Job 6:25). "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." On the other hand, harsh reproof and unjust insinuations wound a tender spirit like poisoned arrows. Truly we may pray, "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth: Keep the door of my lips" (Psalms 141:3).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-6.html. 1871-8.
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