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1 Then began Job, and said:
2 How long will ye vex my soul,
And crush me with your words?
3 These ten times have ye reproached me;
Without being ashamed ye astound me.
4 And if I have really erred,
My error rests with myself.
5 If ye will really magnify yourselves against me,
And prove my reproach to me:
6 Know then that Eloah hath wronged me,
And hath compassed me with His net.
This controversy is torture to Job's spirit; enduring in himself unutterable agony, both bodily and spiritually, and in addition stretched upon the rack by the three friends with their united strength, he begins his answer with a well-justified quousque tandem . תּגיוּן (Norzi: תּוגיוּן ) is fut. energicum from הוּגה יגה ), with the retention of the third radical., Ges. §75, rem. 16. And in וּתדכּאוּנני (Norzi: וּתדכּוּנני with quiescent Aleph) the suff. is attached to the ûn of the fut. energicum, Ges. §60, rem. 3; the connecting vowel is a, and the suff. is ani, without epenthesis, not anni or aneni, Ges. §58, 5. In Job 19:3 Job establishes his How long? Ten times is not to be taken strictly (Saad.), but it is a round number; ten, from being the number of the fingers on the human hand, is the number of human possibility, and from its position at the end of the row of numbers (in the decimal system) is the number of that which is perfected (vid., Genesis, S. 640f.); as not only the Sanskrit daçan is traceable to the radical notion “to seize, embrace,” but also the Semitic עשר is traceable to the radical notion “to bind, gather together” (cogn. קשׁר ). They have already exhausted what is possible in reproaches, they have done their utmost. Renan, in accordance with the Hebr. expression, transl.: Voilà ( זה , as e.g., Genesis 27:36) la dixième fois que vous m'insultez . The ἅπ. γεγρ. תּהכּרוּ is connected by the Targ. with הכּיר (of respect of persons = partiality), by the Syr. with כּרא (to pain, of crêvecoeur), by Raschi and Parchon with נכּר (to mistake) or התנכּר (to alienate one's self), by Saadia (vid., Ewald's Beitr. S. 99) with עכר (to dim, grieve);
(Note: Reiske interprets according to the Arabic ‛kr , denso et turbido agmine cum impetu ruitis in me .)
he, however, compares the Arab. hkr , stupere (which he erroneously regards as differing only in sound from Arab. qhr , to overpower, oppress); and Abulwalid (vid., Rödiger in Thes. p. 84 suppl.) explains Arab. thkrûn mn - nı̂ , ye gaze at me, since at the same time he mentions as possible that הכר may be = Arab. khr , to treat indignantly, insultingly (which is only a different shade in sound of Arab. hkr ,
(Note: In Sur. 93, 9 (oppress not the orphan), the reading Arab. tkhr is found alternating with Arab. tqhr .)
and therefore refers to Saadia's interpretation). David Kimchi interprets according to Abulwalid, תתמהו לו ; he however remarks at the same time, that his father Jos. Kimchi interprets after the Arab. הכר , which also signifies “shamelessness,” תעיזו פניכם לי . Since the idea of dark wild looks is connected with Arab. hkr , he has undoubtedly this verb in his mind, not that compared by Ewald (who translates, “ye are devoid of feeling towards me”), and especially Arab. hkr , to deal unfairly, used of usurious trade in corn (which may also have been thought of by the lxx ἐπίκεισθέ μοι , and Jerome opprimentes ), which signifies as intrans. to be obstinate about anything, pertinacious. Gesenius also, Thes. p. 84, suppl., suggests whether תּחכּרוּ may not perhaps be the reading. But the comparison with Arab. hkr is certainly safer, and gives a perfectly satisfactory meaning, only תּהכּרוּ must not be regarded as fut. Kal (as יהלם , Psalms 74:6, according to the received text), but as fut. Hiph. for תּהכּירוּ , according to Ges. §53, rem. 4, 5, after which Schultens transl.: quod me ad stuporem redigatis . The connection of the two verbs in Job 19:3 is to be judged of according to Ges. §142, 3, a: ye shamelessly cause me astonishment (by the assurance of your accusations). One need not hesitate because it is תהכרו־לי instead of תהכרוני ; this indication of the obj. by ל , which is become a rule in Arabic with the inf. and part.) whence e.g., it would here be muhkerina li ), and is still more extended in Aramaic, is also frequent in Hebrew (e.g., Isaiah 53:11; Psalms 116:16; Psalms 129:3, and 2 Chronicles 32:17, cheereep, after which Olsh. proposes to read תחרפו־לי in the passage before us).
Much depends upon the correct perception of the structure of the clauses in Job 19:4. The rendering, e.g., of Olshausen, gained by taking the two halves of the verse as independent clauses, “yea certainly I have erred, I am fully conscious of my error,” puts a confession into Job's mouth, which is at present neither mature nor valid. Hirz., Hahn, Schlottm., rightly take Job 19:4 as a hypothetical antecedent clause (comp. Job 7:20; Job 11:18): and if I have really erred ( אף־אמנם , as Job 34:12, yea truly; Genesis 18:13, and if I should really), my error remains with me, i.e., I shall have to expiate it, without your having on this account any right to take upon yourselves the office of God and to treat me uncharitably; or what still better corresponds with תּלין אתּי : my transgression remains with me, without being communicated to another, i.e., without having any influence over you or others to lead you astray or involve you in participation of the guilt. Job 19:6 stands in a similar relation to Job 19:5. Hirz., Ew., and Hahn take Job 19:5 as a double question: “or will ye really boast against me, and prove to me my fault?” Schlottm., on the contrary, takes אם conditionally, and begins the conclusion with Job 19:5: “if ye will really look proudly down upon me, it rests with you at least, to prove to me by valid reasons, the contempt which ye attach to me.” But by both of these interpretations, especially by the latter, Job 19:6 comes in abruptly. Even אפו (written thus in three other passages besides this) indicates in Job 19:5 the conditional antecedent clause (comp. Job 9:24; Job 24:25) of the expressive γνῶστε οὖν ( δή ): if ye really boast yourselves against me (vid., Psalms 55:13., comp. Psalms 35:26; Psalms 38:17), and prove upon me, i.e., in a way of punishment (as ye think), my shame, i.e., the sins which put me to shame (not: the right of shame, which has come upon me on account of my sins, an interpretation which the conclusion does not justify), therefore: if ye really continue (which is implied by the futt.) to do this, then know, etc. If they really maintain that he is suffering on account of flagrant sins, he meets them on the ground of this assumption with the assertion that God has wronged him ( עוּתני short for עוּת משׁפּטי , Job 8:3; Job 34:12, as Lamentations 3:36), and has cast His net ( מצוּדו , with the change of the ô of מצוד from צוּד , to search, hunt, into the deeper û in inflexion, as מנוּסי from מנוס מצוּרך , Ezekiel 4:8, from מצור ) over him, together with his right and his freedom, so that he is indeed obliged to endure punishment. In other words: if his suffering is really not to be regarded otherwise than as the punishment of sin, as they would uncharitably and censoriously persuade him, it urges on his self-consciousness, which rebels against it, to the conclusion which he hurls into their face as one which they themselves have provoked.
7 Behold I cry violence, and I am not heard;
I cry for help, and there is no justice.
8 My way He hath fenced round, that I cannot pass over,
And He hath set darkness on my paths.
9 He hath stripped me of mine honour,
And taken away the crown from my head.
10 He destroyed me on every side, then I perished,
And lifted out as a tree my hope.
11 He kindled His wrath against me,
And He regarded me as one of His foes.
He cries aloud חמס (that which is called out regarded as accusa. or as an interjection, vid., on Habakkuk 1:2), i.e., that illegal force is exercised over him. He finds, however, neither with God nor among men any response of sympathy and help; he cries for help (which שׁוּע , perhaps connected with ישׁע , Arab. s‛t , from ישׁע , Arab. ws‛ , seems to signify), without justice, i.e., the right of an impartial hearing and verdict, being attainable by him. He is like a prisoner who is confined to a narrow space (comp. Job 3:23; Job 13:27) and has no way out, since darkness is laid upon him wherever he may go. One is here reminded of Lamentations 3:7-9; and, in fact, this speech generally stands in no accidental mutual relation to the lamentations of Jeremiah. The “crown of my head” has also its parallel in Lamentations 5:16; that which was Job's greatest ornament and most costly jewel is meant. According to Job 29:14, צדק and משׁפט were his robe and diadem. These robes of honour God has stripped from him, this adornment more precious than a regal diadem He has taken from him since, i.e., his affliction puts him down as a transgressor, and abandons him to the insult of those around him. God destroyed him roundabout ( destruxit ), as a house that is broken down on all sides, and lifted out as a tree his hope. הסּיע does not in itself signify to root out, but only to lift out (Job 4:21, of the tent-cord, and with it the tent-pin) of a plant: to remove it from the ground in which it has grown, either to plant it elsewhere, as Psalms 80:9, or as here, to put it aside. The ground was taken away from his hope, so that its greenness faded away like that of a tree that is rooted up. The fut. consec. is here to be translated: then I perished (different from Job 14:20: and consequently he perishes); he is now already one who is passed away, his existence is only the shadow of life. God has caused, fut. Hiph. apoc. ויּחר , His wrath to kindle against him, and regarded him in relation to Himself as His opponents, therefore as one of them. Perhaps, however, the expression is intentionally intensified here, in contrast with Job 13:24: he, the one, is accounted by God as the host of His foes; He treats him as if all hostility to God were concentrated in him.
12 His troops came together,
And threw up their way against me,
And encamped round about my tent.
13 My brethren hath He removed far from me,
And my acquaintance are quite estranged from me.
14 My kinsfolk fail,
And those that knew me have forgotten me.
15 The slaves of my house and my maidens,
They regard me as a stranger,
I am become a perfect stranger in their eyes.
It may seem strange that we do not connect Job 19:12 with the preceding strophe or group of verses; but between Job 19:7 and Job 19:21 there are thirty στίχοι , which, in connection with the arrangement of the rest of this speech in decastichs (accidentally coinciding remarkably with the prominence given to the number ten in Job 19:3), seem intended to be divided into three decastichs, and can be so divided without doing violence to the connection. While in Job 19:12, in connection with Job 19:11, Job describes the course of the wrath, which he has to withstand as if he were an enemy of God, in Job 19:13. he refers back to the degradation complained of in Job 19:9. In Job 19:12 he compares himself to a besieged (perhaps on account of revolt) city. God's גדוּדים (not: bands of marauders, as Dietr. interprets, but: troops, i.e., of regular soldiers, synon. of צבא , Job 10:17, comp. Job 25:3; Job 29:25, from the root גד , to unite, join, therefore prop. the assembled, a heap; vid., Fürst's Handwörterbuch) are the bands of outwards and inward sufferings sent forth against him for a combined attack ( יחד ). Heaping up a way, i.e., by filling up the ramparts, is for the purpose of making the attack upon the city with battering-rams (Job 16:14) and javelins, and then the storm, more effective (on this erection of offensive ramparts ( approches), called elsewhere שׁפך סללה , vid., Keil's Archäologie, §159). One result of this condition of siege in which God's wrath has placed him is that he is avoided and despised as one smitten of God: neither love and fidelity, nor obedience and dependence, meet him from any quarter. What he has said in Job 17:6, that he is become a byword and an abomination (an object to spit upon), he here describes in detail. There is no ground for understanding אחי in the wider sense of relations; brethren is meant here, as in Psalms 69:9. He calls his relations קרובי , as Psalms 38:12. ידעי are (in accordance with the pregnant biblical use of this word in the sense of nosse cum affectu et effectu ) those who know him intimately (with objective suff. as Psalms 87:4), and מידּעי , as Psalms 31:12, and freq., those intimately known to him; both, therefore, so-called heart-or bosom-friends. בּיתי גּרי Jer. well translates inquilinin domus meae ; they are, in distinction from those who by birth belong to the nearer and wider circle of the family, persons who are received into this circle as servants, as vassals (comp. Exodus 3:22, and Arabic jâr , an associate, one sojourning in a strange country under the protection of its government, a neighbour), here espec. the domestics. The verb תּחשׁבוּני (Ges. §60) is construed with the nearest feminine subject. These people, who ought to thank him for taking them into his house, regard him as one who does not belong to it ( זר ); he is looked upon by them as a perfect stranger ( נכרי ), as an intruder from another country.
מתי סודי is the name he gives those to whom he confides his most secret affairs; סוד (vid., on Psalms 25:14) signifies either with a verbal notion, secret speaking (Arab. sâwada , III. form from sâda , to press one's self close upon, esp. as sârra , to speak in secret with any one), or what is made firm, i.e., what is impenetrable, therefore a secret (from sâda , to be or make close, firm, compact; cognate root, יסד , wasada , cognate in signification, sirr , a secret, from sarra , שׁרר , which likewise signifies to make firm). Those to whom he has made known his most secret plans (comp. Psalms 55:13-15) now abhor him; and those whom he has thus ( זה , as Job 15:17) become attached to, and to whom he has shown his affection, - he says this with an allusion to the three, - have turned against him. They gave tokens of their love and honour to him, when he was in the height of his happiness and prosperity, but they have not even shown any sympathy with him in his present form of distress.
(Note: The disease which maims or devours the limbs, dâ'u el - gudhâm [ vid. supra, p. 281], which generically includes Arabian leprosy, cancer, and syphilis, and is called the “first-born of death” in Job 18:13, is still in Arabia the most dreaded disease, in the face of which all human sympathy ceases. In the steppe, even the greatest personage who is seized with this disease is removed at least a mile or two from the encampment, where a charbûsh , i.e., a small black hair-tent, is put up for him, and an old woman, who has no relations living, is given him as an attendant until he dies. No one visits him, not even his nearest relations. He is cast off as muqâtal ollah . - Wetzst. The prejudice combated by the book of Job, that the leper is, as such, one who is smitten by the wrath of God, has therefore as firm hold of the Arabian mind in the present day as it had centuries ago.)
His bones cleave ( דבקה , Aq. ἐκολλήθη , lxx erroneously ἐσάπησαν , i.e., רקבה ) to his skin, i.e., the bones may be felt and seen through the skin, and the little flesh that remains is wasted away almost to a skeleton (vid., Job 7:15). This is not contradictory to the primary characteristic symptom of the lepra nodosa ; for the wasting away of the rest of the body may attain an extraordinarily high degree in connection with the hypertrophy of single parts. He can indeed say of himself, that he is only escaped ( se soit échappé) with the skin of his teeth. By the “skin of his teeth” the gums are generally understood. But (1) the gum is not skin, and can therefore not be called “skin of the teeth” in any language; (2) Job complains in Job 19:17 of his offensive breath, which in itself does not admit of the idea of healthy gums, and especially if it be the result of a scorbutic ulceration of the mouth, presupposes an ulcerous destruction of the gums. The current translation, “with my gums,” is therefore to be rejected on account both of the language and the matter. For this reason Stickel (whom Hahn follows) takes עור as inf. from ערר , and translates: “I am escaped from it with my teeth naked” lit. with the being naked of my teeth, i.e., with teeth that are no longer covered, standing forward uncovered. This explanation is pathologically satisfactory; but it has against it (1) the translation of עור , which is wide of the most natural interpretation of the word; (2) that in close connection with ואתמלטה one expects the mention of a part of the body that has remained whole. Is there not, then, really a skin of the teeth in the proper sense? The gum is not skin, but the teeth are surrounded with a skin in the jaw, the so-called periosteum. If we suppose, what is natural enough, that his offensive breath, Job 19:17, arises from ulcers in the mouth (in connection with scorbutus, as is known, the breath has a terribly offensive smell), we obtain the following picture of Job's disease: his flesh is in part hypertrophically swollen, in part fearfully wasted away; the gums especially are destroyed and wasted away from the teeth, only the periosteum round about the teeth is still left to him, and single remnants of the covering of his loose and projecting teeth.
Thus we interpret עזר שׁנּי in the first signification of the words, and have also no need for supposing that Job 19:20 is a proverbial phrase for “I have with great care and difficulty escaped the extreme.” The declaration perfectly corresponds to the description of the disease; and it is altogether needless with Hupfeld, after Job 13:14, to read עור בשׁני , vitam solam et nudam vix reportavi , which is moreover inappropriate, since Job regards himself as one who is dying. Symm. alters the position of the בּ similarly, since he translates after the Syriac Hexapla: καὶ ἐξέτιλλον ( ותלשׁת ) τὸ δέρμα τοῖς ὀδοῦσιν μου , from מלט מרט , Arab. mllṭ , nudare pilis , which J. D. Michaelis also compares; the sense, however, which is thereby gained, is beneath all criticism. On the aoristic ואתמלּטה , vid., on Job 1:15. Stickel has on this passage an excursus on this ah, to which he also attributes, in this addition to the historic tense, the idea of striving after a goal: “I slip away, I escape;” it certainly gives vividness to the notion of the action, if it may not always have the force of direction towards anything. Therefore: with a destroyed flesh, and indeed so completely destroyed that there is even nothing left to him of sound skin except the skin of his teeth, wasted away to a skeleton, and become both to sight and smell a loathsome object; - such is the sufferer the friends have before them, - one who is tortured, besides, by a dark conflict which they only make more severe, - one who now implores them for pity, and because he has no pity to expect from man, presses forward to a hope which reaches beyond the grave.
21 Have pity upon me, have pity upon me,
O ye my friends, For the hand of Eloah hath touched me.
22 Wherefore do ye persecute me as God,
And are never satisfied with my flesh?
23 Oh that my words were but written,
That they were recorded in a book,
24 With an iron pen, filled in with lead,
Graven in the rock for ever!
25 And I know: my Redeemer liveth,
And as the last One will He arise from the dust.
In Job 19:21 Job takes up a strain we have not heard previously. His natural strength becomes more and more feeble, and his voice weaker and weaker. It is a feeling of sadness that prevails in the preceding description of suffering, and now even stamps the address to the friends with a tone of importunate entreaty which shall, if possible, affect their heart. They are indeed his friends, as the emphatic רעי אתּם affirms; impelled towards him by sympathy they are come, and at least stand by him while all other men flee from him. They are therefore to grant him favour ( חנן , prop. to incline to) in the place of right; it is enough that the hand of Eloah has touched him (in connection with this, one is reminded that leprosy is called נגע , and is pre-eminently accounted as plaga divina ; wherefore the suffering Messiah also bears the significant name חוּרא דבי רבּי , “the leprous one from the school of Rabbi,” in the Talmud, after Isaiah 53:4, Isaiah 53:8), they are not to make the divine decree heavier to him by their uncharitableness. Wherefore do ye persecute me - he asks them in Job 19:22 - like as God ( כּמו־אל , according to Saad. and Ralbag = כמו־אלּה , which would be very tame); by which he means not merely that they add their persecution to God's, but that they take upon themselves God's work, that they usurp to themselves a judicial divine authority, they act towards him as if they were superhuman (vid., Isaiah 31:3), and therefore inhumanly, since they, who are but his equals, look down upon him from an assumed and false elevation. The other half of the question: wherefore are ye not full of my flesh ( de ma chair , with מן , as Job 31:31), but still continue to devour it? is founded upon a common Semitic figurative expression, with which may be compared our Germ. expression, “to gnaw with the tooth of slander” comp. Engl. “backbiting”. In Chaldee, אכל קרצוהי די , to eat the pieces of (any one), is equivalent to, to slander him; in Syriac, ochelqarsso is the name of Satan, like διάβολος . The Arabic here, as almost everywhere in the book of Job, presents a still closer parallel; for Arab. 'kl lḥm signifies to eat any one's flesh, then (different from אכל בשׂר , Psalms 27:2) equivalent to, to slander,
(Note: Vid., Schultens' ad Prov. Meidanii, p. 7 (where “to eat his own flesh,” equivalent to “himself,” without allowing others to do it, signifies to censure his kinsmen), and comp. the phrase Arab. aclu - l - a‛râdhi in the signification arrodere existimationem hominum in Makkari, i. 541, 13.)
since an evil report is conceived of as a wild beast, which delights in tearing a neighbour to pieces, as the friends do not refrain from doing, since, from the love of their assumption that his suffering must be the retributive punishment of heinous sins, they lay sins to his charge of which he is not conscious, and which he never committed. Against these uncharitable and groundless accusations he wishes (Job 19:23) that the testimony of his innocence, to which they will not listen, might be recorded in a book for posterity, or because a book may easily perish, graven in a rock (therefore not on leaden plates) with an iron style, and the addition of lead, with which to fill up the engraved letters, and render them still more imperishable. In connection with the remarkable fidelity with which the poet throws himself back into the pre-Israelitish patriarchal time of his hero, it is of no small importance that he ascribes to him an acquaintance not only with monumental writing, but also with book and documentary writing (comp. Job 31:35).
The fut., which also elsewhere (Job 6:8; Job 13:5; Job 14:13, once the praet., Job 23:3, noverim ) follows מי־יתּן , quis dabat = utinam , has Waw consec. here (as Deuteronomy 5:26 the praet.); the arrangement of the words is extremely elegant, בּסּפר stands per hyperbaton emphatically prominent. כּתב and חקק (whence fut. Hoph. יחקוּ with Dag. implicitum in the ח , comp. Job 4:20, and the Dag. of the ק omitted, for יוּחקּוּ , according to Ges. §67, rem. 8) interchange also elsewhere, Isaiah 30:8. ספר , according to its etymon, is a book formed of the skin of an animal, as Arab. sufre , the leathern table-mat spread on the ground instead of a table. It is as unnecessary to read לעד (comp. Job 16:8, lxx, εἰς μαρτύριον ) instead of לעד here, as in Isaiah 30:8. He wishes that his own declaration, in opposition to his accusers, may be inscribed as on a monument, that it may be immortalized,
(Note: לעד is differently interpreted by Jerome: evermore hewn in the rock; for so it seems his vel certe (instead of which celte is also read, which is an old northern name for a chisel) sculpantur in siliece must be explained.)
in order that posterity may behold it, and, it is to be hoped, judge him more justly than his contemporaries. He wishes this, and is certain that his wish is not vain. His testimony to his innocence will not descend to posterity without being justified to it by God, the living God.
Thus is ואני ידעתּי connected with what precedes. yd`ty is followed, as in Job 30:23, Ps. 9:21, by the oratio directa . The monosyllable tone-word חי (on account of which go'aliy has the accent drawn back to the penult.) is 3 praet.: I know: my redeemer liveth; in connection with this we recall the name of God, חי העולם , Daniel 12:7, after which the Jewish oath per Anchialum in Martial is to be explained. גּאל might (with Umbr. and others), in comparison with Job 16:18, as Numbers 35:12, be equivalent to גּאל הדּם : he who will redeem, demand back, avenge the shedding of his blood and maintain his honour as of blood that has been innocently shed; in general, however, g'l signifies to procure compensation for the down-trodden and unjustly oppressed, Proverbs 23:11; Lamentations 3:58; Psalms 119:154. This Rescuer of his honour lives and will rise up as the last One, as one who holds out over everything, and therefore as one who will speak the final decisive word. To אחרון have been given the significations Afterman in the sense of vindex (Hirz., Ewald), or Rearman in the sense of a second [ lit. in a duel,] (Hahn), but contrary to the usage of the language: the word signifies postremus, novissimus , and is to be understood according to Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12, comp. Job 41:4. But what is the meaning of על־עפר ? Is it: upon the dust of the earth, having descended from heaven? The words may, according to Job 41:25 [Hebr., Engl. Job 41:33], be understood thus (without the accompanying notion, formerly supposed by Umbreit, of pulvis or arena = palaestra , which is Classic, not Hebraic); but looking to the process of destruction going on in his body, which has been previously the subject of his words, and is so further on, it is far more probable that על־עפר is to be interpreted according to Job 17:16; Job 20:11; Job 21:26; Psalms 30:10. Moreover, an Arab would think of nothing else but the dust of the grave if he read Arab. ‛alâ turâbin in this connection.
(Note: In Arabic ‛fr belongs only to the ancient language (whence ‛afarahu , he has cast him into the dust, placed him upon the sand, inf. ‛afr ); Arab. gbâr (whence the Ghobar, a peculiar secret-writing, has its name) signifies the dry, flying dust; Arab. trâb , however, is dust in gen., and particularly the dust of the grave, as e.g., in the forcible proverb: nothing but the turâb fills the eyes of man. So common is this signification, that a tomb is therefore called turbe .)
Besides, it is unnecessary to connect קום על , as perhaps 2 Chronicles 21:4, and the Arab. qâm ‛alâ (to stand by, help): על־עפר is first of all nothing more than a defining of locality. To affirm that if it refer to Job it ought to be עפרי , is unfounded. Upon the dust in which he is now soon to be laid, into which he is now soon to be changed, will He, the Rescuer of his honour, arise ( קוּם , as in Deuteronomy 19:15; Psalms 27:12; Psalms 35:11, of the rising up of a witness, and as e.g., Psalms 12:6, comp. Psalms 94:16, Isaiah 33:10, of the rising up and interposing of a rescuer and help) and set His divine seal to Job's own testimony thus made permanent in the monumental inscription. Oetinger's interpretation is substantially the same: “I know that He will at last come, place himself over the dust in which I have mouldered away, pronounce my cause just, and place upon me the crown of victory.”
A somewhat different connection of the thought is obtained, if ואני is taken not progressively, but adversatively: “Yet I know,” etc. The thought is then, that his testimony of his innocence need not at all be inscribed in the rock; on the contrary, God, the ever living One, will verify it. It is difficult to decide between them; still the progressive rendering seems to be preferable, because the human vindication after death, which is the object of the wish expressed in Job 19:23, is still not essentially different from the divine vindication hoped for in Job 19:25, which must not be regarded as an antithesis, but rather as a perfecting of the other designed for posterity. Job 19:25 is, however, certainly a higher hope, to which the wish in Job 19:23. forms the stepping-stone. God himself will avenge Job's blood, i.e., against his accusers, who say that it is the blood of one who is guilty; over the dust of the departed He will arise, and by His majestic testimony put to silence those who regard this dust of decay as the dust of a sinner, who has received the reward of his deeds.
But is it perhaps this his hope of God's vindication, expressed in Job 19:25, which (as Schlottmann and Hahn,
(Note: Hahn, after having in his pamphlet, de spe immortalitatis sub V.T. gradatim exculta, 1845, understood Job's confession distinctly of a future beholding in this world, goes further in his Commentary, and entirely deprives this confession of the character of hope, and takes all as an expression of what is present. We withhold our further assent.)
though in other respects giving very different interpretations, think) is, according to Job's wish, to be permanently inscribed on the monument, in order to testify to posterity with what a stedfast and undismayed conviction he had died? The high-toned introitus , Job 19:23, would be worthy of the important inscription it introduces. But (1) it is improbable that the inscription would begin with ואני , consequently with Waw, - a difficulty which is not removed by the translation, “Yea, I know,” but only covered up; the appeal to Psalms 2:6; Isaiah 3:14, is inadmissible, since there the divine utterance, which begins with Waw, per aposiopesin continues a suppressed clause; כי אני would be more admissible, but that which is to be written down does not even begin with כי in either Habakkuk 2:3 or Jeremiah 30:3. (2.) According to the whole of Job's previous conduct and habitual state of mind, it is to be supposed that the contents of the inscription would be the expression of the stedfast consciousness of his innocence, not the hope of his vindication, which only here and there flashes through the darkness of the conflict and temptation, but is always again swallowed up by this darkness, so that the thought of a perpetual preservation, as on a monument, of this hope can by no means have its origin in Job; it forms everywhere only, so to speak, the golden weft of the tragic warp, which in itself even resists the tension of the two opposites: Job's consciousness of innocence, and the dogmatic postulate of the friends; and their intensity gradually increases with the intensity of this very tension. So also here, where the strongest expression is given both to the confession of his innocence as a confession which does not shun, but even desires, to be recorded in a permanent form for posterity, and also at the same time in connection with this to the confidence that to him, who is misunderstood by men, the vindication from the side of God, although it may be so long delayed that he even dies, can nevertheless not be wanting. Accordingly, by מלּי we understand not what immediately follows, but the words concerning his innocence which have already been often repeated by him, and which remain unalterably the same; and we are authorized in closing one strophe with Job 19:25, and in beginning a new one with Job 19:26, which indeed is commended by the prevalence of the decastich in this speech, although we do not allow to this observance of the strophe division any influence in determining the exposition. It is, however, of use in our exposition. The strophe which now follows develops the chief reason of believing hope which is expressed in Job 19:25; comp. the hexastich Job 12:11-13, also there in Job 12:14 is the expansion of Job 12:13, which expresses the chief thought as in the form of a thema.
26 And after my skin, thus torn to pieces,
And without my flesh shall I behold Eloah,
27 Whom I shall behold for my good,
And mine eyes shall see Him and no other -
My veins languish in my bosom.
28 Ye think: “How shall we persecute him?”
Since the root of the matter is found in me -
29 Therefore be ye afraid of the sword,
For wrath meeteth the transgressions of the sword,
That ye may know there is a judgment!
If we have correctly understood על־עפר , Job 19:25, we cannot in this speech find that the hope of a bodily recovery is expressed. In connection with this rendering, the oldest representative of which is Chrysostom, מבּשׂרי is translated either: free from my flesh = having become a skeleton (Umbr., Hirz., and Stickel, in comm. in Iobi loc. de Goële, 1832, and in the transl., Gleiss, Hlgst., Renan), but this מבשׂרי , if the מן is taken as privative, can signify nothing else but fleshless = bodiless; or: from my flesh, i.e., the flesh when made whole again (viz., Eichhorn in the Essay, which has exercised considerable influence, to his Allg. Bibl. d. bibl. Lit. i. 3, 1787, von Cölln, BCr., Knapp, von Hofm.,
(Note: Von Hofmann ( Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, 503) translates: “I know, however, my Redeemer is living, and hereafter He will stand forth which must have been יעמד instead of יקום ] upon the earth and after my skin, this surrounding ( נקּפוּ , Chaldaism, instead of נקּפוּת after the form עקּשׁוּת ), and from my flesh shall I behold God, whom I shall behold for myself, and my eyes see [Him], and He is not strange.”)
and others), but hereby the relation of Job 19:26 to Job 19:26 becomes a contrast, without there being anything to indicate it. Moreover, this rendering, as מבשׂרי may also be explained, is in itself contrary to the spirit and plan of the book; for the character of Job's present state of mind is, that he looks for certain death, and will hear nothing of the consolation of recovery (Job 17:10-16), which sounds to him as mere mockery; that he, however, notwithstanding, does not despair of God, but, by the consciousness of his innocence and the uncharitableness of the friends, is more and more impelled from the God of wrath and caprice to the God of love, his future Redeemer; and that then, when at the end of the course of suffering the actual proof of God's love breaks through the seeming manifestation of wrath, even that which Job had not ventured to hope is realized: a return of temporal prosperity beyond his entreaty and comprehension.
On the other hand, the mode of interpretation of the older translators and expositors, who find an expression of the hope of a resurrection at the end of the preceding strophe or the beginning of this, cannot be accepted. The lxx, by reading יקים instead of יקום , and connecting יקים עורי נקפו זאת , translates: ἀναστήσει δὲ ( Cod. Vat. only ἀναστῆσαι ) μου τὸ σῶμα ( Cod. Vat. τὸ δέρμα μου ) τὸ ἀναντλοῦν μοι ( Cod. Vat. om. μοι ) ταῦτα , - but how can any one's skin be said to awake (Italic: super terram resurget cutis mea ),
(Note: Stickel therefore maintains that this ἀνιστάναι of the lxx is to be understood not of being raised from the dead, but of being restored to health; vid., on the contrary, Umbreit in Stud. u. Krit. 1840, i., and Ewald in d. Theol. Jahrbb., 1843, iv.)
and whence does the verb נקף obtain the signification exhaurire or exantlare ? Jerome's translation is not less bold: Scio enim quod redemptor meus vivit et in novissimo die de terra surrecturus sum , as though it were אקום , not יקום , and as though אחרון could signify in novissimo die (in favour of which Isaiah 9:1 can only seemingly be quoted)! The Targ. translates: “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and hereafter His redemption will arise (become a reality) over the dust (into which I shall be dissolved), and after my skin is again made whole (thus
(Note: In this signification, to recover, prop. to recover one's self, אתּפח is used in Talmudic; vid., Buxtorf, פוח and תפח . The rabbinical expositors ignore this Targum, and in general furnish but little that is useful here.)
אתּפח seems to require to be translated, not intumuit ) this will happen; and from my flesh I shall again behold God.” It is evident that this is intended of a future restoration of the corporeal nature that has become dust, but the idea assigned to נקפו ot is without foundation. Luther also cuts the knot by translating: (But I know that my Redeemer liveth), and He will hereafter raise me up out of the ground, which is an impossible sense that is word for word forced upon the text. There is just as little ground for translating Job 19:26 with Jerome: et rursum circumdabor pelle mea (after which Luther: and shall then be surrounded with this my skin); for נקּפוּ can as Niph. not signify circumdabor , and as Piel does not give the meaning cutis mea circumdabit ( scil. me), since נקפו cannot be predicate to the sing. עורי . In general, נקפו cannot be understood as Niph., but only as Piel; the Piel niqap, however, signifies not: to surround, but: to strike down, e.g., olives from the tree, Isaiah 17:6, or the trees themselves, so that they lie felled on the ground, Isaiah 10:34, comp. Arab. nqf , to strike into the skull and injure the soft brain, then: to strike forcibly on the head (gen. on the upper part), or also: to deal a blow with a lance or stick.
(Note: Thus, according to the Turkish Kamus: to sever the skull from (Arab. ‛n ) the brain, i.e., so that the brain is laid bare, or also e.g., to split the coloquintida or bitter cucumber, so that the seeds are laid bare, or: to crack the bones and take out the marrow, cognate with Arab. nqb , for the act of piercing an egg is called both naqaba and naqafa - l - beidha . In Hebrew נקף coincides with נגף , not with נקב .)
Therefore Job 19:26, according to the usage of the Semitic languages, can only be intended of the complete destruction of the skin, which is become cracked and broken by the leprosy; and this was, moreover, the subject spoken of above (Job 19:20, comp. Job 30:19). For the present we leave it undecided whether Job here confesses the hope of the resurrection, and only repel those forced misconstructions of his words which arbitrarily discern this hope in the text. Free from such violence is the translation: and after this my skin is destroyed, i.e., after I shall have put off this my body, from my flesh (i.e., restored and transfigured), I shall behold God. Thus is מבשׂרי understood by Rosenm., Kosegarten ( diss. in Iob, xix. 1815), Umbreit ( Stud. u. Krit. 1840, i.), Welte, Carey, and others. But this interpretation is also untenable. For, 1. In this explanation Job 19:26 is taken as an antecedent; a praepos., however, like אחר or עד , used as a conj., has, according to Hirzel's correct remark, the verb always immediately after it, as Job 42:7; Leviticus 14:43; whereas 1 Samuel 20:41, the single exception, is critically doubtful. 2. It is not probable that the poet by עורי should have thought of the body, which disease is rapidly hurrying on to death, and by בשׂרי , on the other hand, of a body raised up and glorified. 3. Still more improbable is it that בשׂר should be so used here as in the church's term, resurrectio carnis , which is certainly an allowable expression, but one which exceeds the meaning of the language of Scripture. בשׂר , σάρξ , is in general, and especially in the Old Testament, a notion which has grown up in almost inseparable connection with the marks of frailty and sinfulness. And 4. The hope of a resurrection as a settled principle in the creed of Israel is certainly more recent than the Salomonic period. Therefore by far the majority of modern expositors have decided that Job does not indeed here avow the hope of the resurrection, but the hope of a future spiritual beholding of God, and therefore of a future life; and thus the popular idea of Hades, which elsewhere has sway over him, breaks out. Thus, of a future spiritual beholding of God, are Job's words understood by Ewald, Umbreit (who at first explained them differently), Vaihinger, Von Gerlach, Schlottmann, Hölemann ( Sächs. Kirchen- u. Schulbl. 1853, Nos. 48, 50, 62), König ( Die Unsterblichkeitsidee im B. Iob, 1855), and others, also by the Jewish expositors Arnheim and Löwenthal. This rendering, which is also adopted in the Art. Hiob in Herzog's Real-Encyclopädie, does not necessitate any impossible misconstruction of the language, but, as we shall see further on, it does not exhaust the meaning of Job's confession.
First of all, we will continue the explanation of each expression אחר is a praepos., and used in the same way as the Arabic ba‛da is sometimes used: after my skin, i.e., after the loss of it (comp. Job 21:21, אחריו , after he is dead). נקּפוּ is to be understood relatively: which they have torn in pieces, i.e., which has been torn in pieces (comp. the same use of the 3 pers., Job 4:19; Job 18:18); and זאת , which, according to Targ., Koseg., Stickel de Goële, and Ges. Thes., ought to be taken inferentially, equivalent to hoc erit (this, however, cannot be accepted, because it must have been וזאת אחר וגו , Arab. w - ḏlk b‛d 'n , idque postquam , and moreover would require the words to be arranged אחר נקפו עורי ), commonly however taken together with עורי (which is nevertheless masc.), is understood as pointing to his decayed body, seems better to be taken adverbially: in this manner (Arnheim, Stickel in his translation, von Gerl., Hahn); it is the acc. of reference, as Job 33:12. The מן of מבּשׂרי is the negative מן : free from my flesh (prop. away, far from, Numbers 15:25; Proverbs 20:3), - a rather frequent way of using this preposition (vid., Job 11:15; Job 21:9; Genesis 27:39; 2 Samuel 1:22; Jeremiah 48:45). Accordingly, we translate: “and after my skin, which they tear to pieces thus, and free from my flesh, shall I behold Eloah.” That Job, after all, is permitted to behold God in this life, and also in this life receives the testimony of his justification, does not, as already observed, form any objection to this rendering of Job 19:26: it is the reward of his faith, which, even in the face of certain death, has not despaired of God, that he does not fall into the power of death at all, and that God forthwith condescends to him in love. And that Job here holds firm, even beyond death, to the hope of beholding God in the future as a witness to his innocence, does not, after Job 14:13-15; Job 16:18-21, come unexpectedly; and it is entirely in accordance with the inner progress of the drama, that the thought of a redemption from Hades, expressed in the former passage, and the demand expressed in the latter passage, for the rescue of the honour of his blood, which is even now guaranteed him by his witness in heaven, are here comprehended, in the confident certainty that his blood and his dust will not be declared by God the Redeemer as innocent, without his being in some way conscious of it, though freed from this his decaying body. In Job 19:27 he declares how he will behold God: whom I shall behold to me, i.e., I, the deceased one, as being for me ( לי , like Psalms 62:2; Psalms 118:6), and my eyes see Him, and not a stranger. Thus ( neque alius ) lxx, Targ., Jerome, and most others translate; on the other hand, Ges. Thes., Umbr., Vaih., Stick., Hahn, and von Hofm. translate: my eyes see Him, and indeed not as an enemy; but זר signifies alienus and alius , not however adversarius , which latter meaning it in general obtains only in a national connection; here (used as in Proverbs 27:2) it excludes the three: none other but Job, by which he means his opponents, will see God rising up for him, taking up his cause. ראוּ is praet. of the future, therefore praet. propheticum , or praet. confidentiae (as frequently in the Psalms). His reins within him pine after this vision of God. Hahn, referring to Job 16:13, translates incorrectly: “If even my reins within me perish,” which is impossible, according to the syntax; for Psalms 73:26 has כלה in the sense of licet defecerit as hypothetical antecedent. The Syriac version is altogether wrong: my reins ( culjot ) vanish completely away by reason of my lot ( בּחקּי ). It would be expressed in Arabic exactly as it is here: culâja (or, dual, culatâja ) tadhûbu , my reins melt; for in Arab. also, as in the Semitic languages generally, the reins are considered as the seat of the tenderest and deepest affections ( Psychol. S. 268, f), especially of love, desire, longing, as here, where כּלה , as in Psalms 119:123 and freq., is intended of wasting away in earnest longing for salvation.
Having now ended the exposition of the single expressions, we inquire whether those do justice to the text who understand it of an absolutely bodiless future beholding of God. We doubt it. Job says not merely that he, but that his eyes, shall behold God. He therefore imagines the spirit as clothed with a new spiritual body instead of the old decayed one; not so, however, that this spiritual body, these eyes which shall behold in the future world, are brought into combination with the present decaying body of flesh. But his faith is here on the direct road to the hope of a resurrection; we see it germinating and struggling towards the light. Among the three pearls which become visible in the book of Job above the waves of conflict, viz., Job 14:13-15; Job 16:18-21; Job 19:25-27, there is none more costly than this third. As in the second part of Isaiah, the fifty-third chapter is outwardly and inwardly the middle and highest point of the 3 x 9 prophetic utterances, so the poet of the book of Job has adorned the middle of his work with this confession of his hero, wherein he himself plants the flag of victory above his own grave.
Now in Job 19:28 Job turns towards the friends. He who comes forth on his side as his advocate, will make Himself felt by them to be a judge, if they continue to persecute the suffering servant of God (comp. Job 13:10-12). It is not to be translated: for then ye will say, or: forsooth then will ye say. This would be כי אז תאמרו , and certainly imply that the opponents will experience just the same theophany, that therefore it will be on the earth. Oehler (in his Veteris Test. sententia de rebus post mortem futuris, 1846) maintains this instance against the interpretation of this confession of Job of a future beholding; it has, however, no place in the text, and Oehler rightly gives no decisive conclusion.
(Note: He remains undecided between a future spiritual and a present beholding of God: harum interpretationum utra rectior sit, vix erit dijudicandum, nam in utramque partem facile potest disputari .)
For Job 19:28, as is rightly observed by C. W. G. Köstlin (in his Essay, de immortalitatis spe, quae in l. Iobi apparere dicitur, 1846) against Oehler, and is even explained by Oetinger, is the antecedent to Job 19:29 (comp. Job 21:28.): if ye say: how, i.e., under what pretence of right, shall we prosecute him ( נרדּף־לו , prop. pursue him, comp. Judges 7:25), and (so that) the root of the matter (treated of) is found in me ( בי , not בּו , since the oratio directa , as in Job 22:17, passes into the oratio obliqua , Ew. §338, a); in other words: if ye continue to seek the cause of my suffering in my guilt, fear ye the sword, i.e., God's sword of vengeance (as Job 15:22, and perhaps as Isaiah 31:8: a sword, without the art. in order to combine the idea of what is boundless, endless, and terrific with the indefinite - the indetermination ad amplificandum described on Psalms 2:12). The confirmatory substantival clause which follows has been very variously interpreted. It is inadmissible to understand חמה of the rage of the friends against Job (Umbr., Schlottm., and others), or חרב עונות of their murderous sinning respecting Job; both expressions are too strong to be referred to the friends. We must explain either: the glow, i.e., the glow of the wrath of God, are the expiations which the sword enjoins (Hirz., Ew., and others); but apart from עון not signifying directly the punishment of sin, this thought is strained; or, which we with Rosenm. and others prefer: glow, i.e., the glow of the wrath of God, are the sword's crimes, i.e., they carry glowing anger as their reward in themselves, wrath overtakes them. Crimes of the sword are not such as are committed with the sword - for such are not treated of here, and, with Arnh. and Hahn, to understand חרב of the sword “of hostilely mocking words,” is arbitrary and artificial - but such as have incurred the sword. Job thinks of slander and blasphemy. These are even before a human tribunal capital offences (comp. Job 31:11, Job 31:28). He warns the friends of a higher sword and a higher power, which they will not escape: “that ye may know it.” שׁדּין , for which the Keri is שׁדּוּן . An ancient various reading (in Pinkster) is ידעוּן (instead of תּדעוּן ). The lxx shows how it is to be interpreted: θυμὸς γὰρ ἐπ ̓ ἀνόμους ( Cod. Alex. - οις ) ἐπελεύσεται, καὶ τότε γνώσονται . According to Cod. Vat. the translation continues ποῦ ἔστιν αὐτῶν ἡ ὕλη ( שׂדין , comp. Job 29:5, where שׁדי is translated by ὑλώδης ); according to Cod. Alex. ὅτι οὐδαμοῦ αὐτῶν ἡ ἴσχυς ἐστίν ( שׁדין from שׁדד ). Ewald in the first edition, which Hahn follows, considers, as Eichhorn already had, שׁדּין as a secondary form of שׁדּי ; Hlgst. wishes to read שׁדּי at once. It might sooner, with Raschi, be explained: that ye might only know the powers of justice, i.e., the manifold power of destruction which the judge has at his disposal. But all these explanations are unsupported by the usage of the language, and Ewald's conjecture in his second edition: אי שׁדּכם (where is your violence), has nothing to commend it; it goes too far from the received text, calls the error of the friends by an unsuitable name, and gives no impressive termination to the speech.
On the other hand, the speech could not end more suitably than by Job's bringing home to the friends the fact that there is a judgment; accordingly it is translated by Aq. ὅτι κρίσις ; by Symm., Theod., ὅτι ἔστι κρίσις . שׁ is = אשׁר once in the book of Job, as probably also once in the Pentateuch, Genesis 6:3. דּין or דּוּן are infinitive forms; the latter from the Kal, which occurs only in Genesis 6:3, with Cholem, which being made a substantive (as e.g., בּוּז ), signifies the judging, the judgment. Why the Keri substitutes דון , which does not occur elsewhere in the signification judicium , for the more common דין , is certainly lost to view, and it shows only that the reading shdwn was regarded in the synagogue as the traditional. דּין has everywhere else the signification judicium , e.g., by Elihu, Job 36:17, and also often in the book of Proverbs, e.g., Job 20:8 (comp. in the Arabizing supplement, ch. 31:8). The final judgment is in Aramaic רבּא דּינא ; the last day in Hebrew and Arabic, הדּין יום , jaum ed - dı̂n . To give to “ שׁדין , that there is a judgment,” this dogmatically definite meaning, is indeed, from its connection with the historical recognition of the plan of redemption, inadmissible; but there is nothing against understanding the conclusion of Job's speech according to the conclusion of the book of Ecclesiastes, which belongs to the same age of literature.
The speech of Job, now explained, most clearly shows us how Job's affliction, interpreted by the friends as a divine retribution, becomes for Job's nature a wholesome refining crucible. We see also from this speech of Job, that he can only regard his affliction as a kindling of divine wrath, and God's meeting him as an enemy (Job 19:11). But the more decidedly the friends affirm this, and describe the root of the manifestation as lying in himself, in his own transgression; and the more uncharitably, as we have seen it at last in Bildad's speech, they go to an excess in their terrible representations of the fate of the ungodly with unmistakeable reference to him: the more clearly is it seen that this indirect affliction of misconstruction must tend to help him in his suffering generally to the right relation towards God. For since the consolation expected from man is changed into still more cutting accusation, no other consolation remains to him in all the world but the consolation of God; and if the friends are to be in the right when they persist unceasingly in demonstrating to him that he must be a heinous sinner, because he is suffering so severely, the conclusion is forced upon him in connection with his consciousness of innocence, that the divine decree is an unjust one (Job 19:5). From such a conclusion, however, he shrinks back; and this produces a twofold result. The crushing anguish of soul which the friends inflict on him, by forcing upon him a view of his suffering which is as strongly opposed to his self-consciousness as to his idea of God, and must therefore bring him into the extremest difficulty of conscience, drives him to the mournful request, ”Have pity upon, have pity upon me, O ye my friends” (Job 19:21); they shall not also pursue him whom God's hand has touched, as if they were a second divine power in authority over him, that could dispose of him at its will and pleasures; they shall, moreover, cease from satisfying the insatiable greed of their nature upon him. He treats the friends in the right manner; so that if their heart were not encrusted by their dogma, they would be obliged to change their opinion. This in Job's conduct is an unmistakeable step forward to a more spiritual state of mind. But the stern inference of the friends has a beneficial influence not merely on his relation to them, but also on his relation to God. To the wrathful God, whom they compel him to regard also as unjust, he cannot in itself cling. He is so much the less able to do this, as he is compelled the more earnestly to long for vindication, the more confidently he is accused.
When he now wishes that the testimony which he has laid down concerning his innocence, and which is contemporaries do not credit, might be graven in the rock with an iron pen, and filled in with lead, the memorial in words of stone is but a dead witness; and he cannot even for the future rely on men, since he is so contemptuously misunderstood and deceived by them in the present. This impels his longing after vindication forward from a lifeless thing to a living person, and turns his longing from man below to God above. He has One who will acknowledge his misjudged cause, and set it right, - a Goël, who will not first come into being in a later generation, but liveth - who has not to come into being, but is. There can be no doubt that by the words chy n'l he means the same person of whom in Job 16:19 he says: “Behold, even now in heaven is my Witness, and One who acknowledges me is in the heights.” The חי here corresponds to the גם עתה in that passage; and from this - that the heights of heaven is the place where this witness dwells - is to be explained the manner in which Job ( Job 19:25) expresses his confident belief in the realization of that which he (Job 16:20) at first only importunately implores: as the Last One, whose word shall avail in the ages of eternity, when the strife of human voices shall have long been silent, He shall stand forth as finally decisive witness over the dust, in which Job passed away as one who in the eye of man was regarded as an object of divine punishment. And after his skin, in such a manner destroyed, and free from his flesh, which is even now already so fallen in that the bones may be seen through it (Job 19:20), he will behold Eloah; and he who, according to human judgment, has died the death of the unrighteous, shall behold Eloah on his side, his eyes shall see and not a stranger; for entirely for his profit, in order that he may bask in the light of His countenance, will He reveal himself.
This is the picture of the future, for the realization of which Job longs so exceedingly, that his reins within him pine away with longing. Whence we see, that Job does not here give utterance to a transient emotional feeling, a merely momentary flight of faith; but his hidden faith, which during the whole controversy rests at the bottom of his soul, and over which the waves of despair roll away, here comes forth to view. He knows, that although his outward man may decay, God cannot, however, fail to acknowledge his inner man. But does this confidence of faith of Job really extend to the future life? It has, on the contrary, been observed, that if the hope expressed with such confidence were a hope respecting the future life, Job's despondency would be trifling, and to be rejected; further, that this hope stands in contradiction to his own assertion, Job 14:14: “If man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my warfare would I wait, till my change should come;” thirdly, that Job's character would be altogether wrongly drawn, and would be a psychological caricature, if the thought slumbering in Job's mind, which finds utterance in Job 19:25-27, were the thought of a future vision of God; and finally, that the unravelling of the knot of the puzzle, which continually increases in entanglement by the controversy with the friends, at the close of the drama, is effected by a theophany, which issues in favour of one still living, not, as ought to be expected by that rendering, a celestial scene unveiled over the grave of Job. But such a conclusion was impossible in an Old Testament book. The Old Testament as yet knew nothing of a heaven peopled with happy human spirits, arrayed in white robes (the stola prima ). And at the time when the book of Job was composed, there was also neither a positive revelation nor a dogmatic confession of the resurrection of the dead, which forms the boundary of the course of this world, in existence. The book of Job, however, shows us how, from the conflict concerning the mystery of this present life, faith struggled forth towards a future solution. The hope which Job expresses is not one prevailing in his age - not one that has come to him from tradition - not one embracing mankind, or even only the righteous in general. All the above objections would be really applicable, if it were evident here that Job was acquainted with the doctrine of a beholding of God after death, which should recompense the pious for the sufferings of this present time. But such is not the case. The hope expressed is not a finished and believingly appropriating hope; on the contrary, it is a hope which is first conceived and begotten under the pressure of divinely decreed sufferings, which make him appear to be a transgressor, and of human accusations which charge him with transgression. It is impossible for him to suppose that God should remain, as now, so hostilely turned from him, without ever again acknowledging him. The truth must at last break through the false appearance, and wrath again give place to love. That it should take place after his death, is only the extreme which his faith assigns to it.
If we place ourselves on the standpoint of the poet, he certainly here gives utterance to a confession, to which, as the book of Proverbs also shows, the Salomonic Chokma began to rise in the course of believing thought; but also on the part of the Chokma, this confession was primarily only a theologoumenon, and was first in the course of centuries made sure under the combined agency of the progressive perception of the revelation and facts connected with redemption; and it is first of all in the New Testament, by the descent to Hades and the ascension to heaven of the Prince of Life, that it became a fully decided and well-defined element of the church's creed. If, however, we place ourselves on the standpoint of the hero of the drama, this hope of future vindication which flashes through the fierceness of the conflict, far from making it a caricature,
(Note: If Job could say, like Tobia, Job 2:1-13:17f., Vulg.: filii sanctorum sumus et vitam illam exspectamus, quam Deus daturus est his qui fidem suam nunquam mutant ab eo , his conduct would certainly be different; but what he expresses in Job 19:25-27 is very far removed from this confession of faith of Tobia.)
gives to the delineation of his faith, which does not forsake God, the final perfecting stroke. Job is, as he thinks, meeting certain death. Why then should not the poet allow him to give utterance to that demand of faith, that he, even if God should permit him apparently to die the sinner's death, nevertheless cannot remain unvindicated? Why should he not allow him here, in the middle of the drama, to rise from the thought, that the cry of his blood should not ascend in vain, to the thought that this vindication of his blood, as of one who is innocent, should not take place without his being consciously present, and beholding with his own eyes the God by whose judicial wrath he is overwhelmed, as his Redeemer? This hope, regarded in the light of the later perception of the plan of redemption, is none other than the hope of a resurrection; but it appears here only in the germ, and comes forward as purely personal: Job rises from the dust, and, after the storm of wrath is passed, sees Eloah, as one who acknowledges him in love, while his surviving opponents fall before the tribunal of this very God. It is therefore not a share in the resurrection of the righteous (in Isa 26, which is uttered prophetically, but first of all nationally), and not a share in the general resurrection of the dead (first expressed in Daniel 12:2), with which Job consoled himself; he does not speak of what shall happen at the end of the days, but of a purely personal matter after his death. Considering himself as one who must die, and thinking of himself as deceased, and indeed, according to appearance, overwhelmed by the punishment of his misdeeds, he would be compelled to despair of God, if he were not willing to regard even the incredible as unfailing, this, viz., that God will not permit this mark of wrath and of false accusation to attach to his blood and dust. That the conclusion of the drama should be shaped in accordance with this future hope, is, as we have already observed, not possible, because the poet (apart from his transferring himself to the position and consciousness of his patriarchal hero) was not yet in possession, as a dogma, of that hope which Job gives utterance to as an aspiration of his faith, and which even he himself only at first, like the psalmists (vid., on Psalms 17:15; Psalms 49:15, Psalms 73:26), had as an aspiration of faith;
(Note: The view of Böttcher, de inferis, p. 149, is false, that the poet by the conclusion of his book disapproves the hope expressed, as dementis somnium .)
it was, however, also entirely unnecessary, since it is indeed not the idea of the drama that there is a life after death, which adjusts the mystery of the present, but that there is a suffering of the righteous which bears the disguise of wrath, but nevertheless, as is finally manifest, is a dispensation of love.
If, however, it is a germinating hope, which in this speech of Job is urged forth by the strength of his faith, we can, without anachronistically confusing the different periods of the development of the knowledge of redemption, regard it as a full, but certainly only developing, preformation of the later belief in the resurrection. When Job says that with his own eyes he shall behold Eloah, it is indeed possible by these eyes to understand the eyes of the spirit;
(Note: Job's wish, Job 19:23, is accomplished, as e.g., James 5:1 shows, and his hope is realized, since he has beheld God the Redeemer enter Hades, and is by Him led up on high to behold God in heaven. We assume the historical reality of Job and the consistence of his history with the rest of Scripture, which we have treated in Bibl Psychol. ch. 6 §3, on the future life and redemption. Accordingly, one might, with the majority of modern expositors, limit Job's hope to the beholding of God in the intermediate state; but, as is further said above, such particularizing is unauthorized.)
but it is just as possible to understand him to mean the eyes of his renewed body (which the old theologians describe as stola secunda , in distinction from the stola prima of the intermediate state); and when Job thinks of himself ( Job 19:25) as a mouldering corpse, should he not by his eyes, which shall behold Eloah, mean those which have been dimmed in death, and are now again become capable of seeing? While, if we wish to expound grammatical-historically, not practically, not homiletically, we also dare not introduce the definiteness of the later dogma into the affirmation of Job. It is related to eschatology as the protevangelium is to soteriology; it presents only the first lines of the picture, which is worked up in detail later on, but also an outline, sketched in such a way that every later perception may be added to it. Hence Schlottmann is perfectly correct when he considers that it is justifiable to understand these grand and powerful words, in hymns, and compositions, and liturgies, and monumental inscriptions, of the God-man, and to use them in the sense which “the more richly developed conception of the last things might so easily put upon them.” It must not surprise us that this sublime hope is not again expressed further on. On the one hand, what Sanctius remarks is not untrue: ab hoc loco ad finem usque libri aliter se habet Iobus quam prius ; on the other hand, Job here, indeed in the middle of the book, soars triumphantly over his opponents to the height of a believing consciousness of victory, but as yet he is not in that state of mind in which he can attain to the beholding of God on his behalf, be it in this world or in the world to come. He has still further to learn submission in relation to God, gentleness in relation to the friends. Hence, inexhaustibly rich in thought and variations of thought, the poet allows the controversy to become more and more involved, and the fire in which Job is to be proved, but also purified, to burn still longer.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Job 19". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14