Job 13

CHAPTER XIII

Job defends himself against the accusations of his friends,

and accuses them of endeavouring to pervert truth, 1-8.

Threatens them with God's judgments, 9-12.

Begs some respite, and expresses strong confidence in God,

13-19.

He pleads with God, and deplores his severe trials and

sufferings, 20-28.

NOTES ON CHAP. XIII

Verse 1. Lo, mine eye hath seen all this] Ye have brought

nothing new to me; I know those maxims as well as you: nor have

you any knowledge of which I am not possessed.

Verse 3. Surely I would speak to the Almighty] ulam, O

that:-I wish I could speak to the Almighty!

I desire to reason with God.] He speaks here to reference to the

proceedings in a court of justice. Ye pretend to be advocates for

God, but ye are forgers of lies: O that God himself would appear!

Before him I could soon prove my innocence of the evils with which

ye charge me.

Verse 4. Ye are forgers of lies] Ye frame deceitful arguments:

ye reason sophistically, and pervert truth and justice, in order

to support your cause.

Physicians of no value.] Ye are as feeble in your reasonings as

ye are inefficient in your skill. Ye can neither heal the wound of

my mind, nor the disease of my body. In ancient times every wise

man professed skill in the healing art, and probably Job's friends

had tried their skill on his body as well as on his mind. He

therefore had, in his argument against their teaching, a double

advantage: Your skill in divinity and physic is equal: in the

former ye are forgers of lies; in the latter, ye are

good-for-nothing physicians. I can see no reason to depart from

the general meaning of the original to which the ancient versions

adhere. The Chaldee says: "Ye are idle physicians; and, like the

mortified flesh which is cut off with the knife, so are the whole

of you." The imagery in the former clause is chirurpical, and

refers to the sewing together, or connecting the divided sides of

wounds; for topheley, which we translate forgers, comes

from taphal, to fasten, tie, connect, sew together. And I

question whether topheley here may not as well express

SURGEONS, as ropheey, in the latter clause, PHYSICIANS. Ye

are CHIRURGEONS of falsity, and worthless PHYSICIANS.

Verse 5. Hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom.] In

Pr 17:28 we have the following

apophtheym: "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted

wise; and he that shutteth his lips, a man of understanding."

There is no reason to say that Solomon quotes from Job: I have

already expressed my opinion that the high antiquity attributed to

this book is perfectly unfounded, and that there is much more

evidence that Solomon was its author, than there is that it was

the composition of Moses. But, whenever Job lived, whether before

Abraham or after Moses, the book was not written till the time of

Solomon, if not later. But as to the saying in question, it is a

general apophthegm, and may be found among the wise sayings of all

nations.

I may observe here, that a silent man is not likely to be a

fool; for a fool will be always prating, or, according to

another adage, a fool's bolt is soon shot. The Latins have the

same proverb: Vir sapit, qui pauca loquitur, "A wise man speaks

little."

Verse 6. Hear now my reasoning] The speeches in this book are

conceived as it delivered in a court of justice, different

counsellors pleading against each other. Hence most of the terms

are forensic.

Verse 7. Will ye speak wickedly for God?] In order to support

your own cause, in contradiction to the evidence which the whole

of my life bears to the uprightness of my heart, will ye continue

to assert that God could not thus afflict me, unless flagrant

iniquity were found in my ways; for it is on this ground alone

that ye pretend to vindicate the providence of God. Thus ye tell

lies for God's sake, and thus ye wickedly contend for your Maker.

Verse 8. Will ye accept his person?] Do you think to act by him

as you would by a mortal; and, by telling lies in his favour,

attempt to conciliate his esteem?

Verse 9. Is it good that he should search you out?] Would it be

to your credit if God should try your hearts, and uncover the

motives of your conduct? Were you tried as I am, how would you

appear?

Do ye so mock him?] Do ye think that you can deceive him; and by

flattering speeches bring him to your terms, as you would bring an

undiscerning, empty mortal, like yourselves?

Verse 10. He will surely reprove you] You may expect, not only

his disapprobation, but his hot displeasure.

Verse 11. His dread fall upon you?] The very apprehension of his

wrath is sufficient to crush you to nothing.

Verse 12. Your remembrances are like unto ashes] Your memorable

sayings are proverbs of dust. This is properly the meaning of the

original: zichroneycem mishley epher. This he

speaks in reference to the ancient and reputedly wise sayings

which they had so copiously quoted against him.

Your bodies to bodies of clay.] This clause is variously

translated: Your swelling heaps are swelling heaps of mire. That

is, Your high-flown speeches are dark, involved, and incoherent;

they are all sound, no sense; great swelling words, either of

difficult or no meaning, or of no point as applicable to my case.

Verse 13. Hold your peace] You have perverted righteousness and

truth, and your pleadings are totally irrelevant to the case; you

have travelled out of the road; you have left law and justice

behind you; it is high time that you should have done.

Let come on me what will.] I will now defend myself against you,

and leave the cause to its issue.

Verse 14. Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth] A proverbial

expression. I risk every thing on the justice of my cause. I put

my life in my hand, 1Sa 28:21. I run all hazards; I am fearless

of the consequences.

Verse 15. Though he slay me] I have no dependence but God; I

trust in him alone. Should he even destroy my life by this

affliction, yet will I hope that when he has tried me, I shall

come forth as gold. In the common printed Hebrew text we have

lo ayachel, I will NOT hope; but the Vulgate, Syriac, Arabic,

and Chaldee have read lo, HIM, instead of lo NOT; with

twenty-nine of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS., and the

Complutensian and Antwerp Polyglots. Our translators have followed

the best reading. Coverdale renders the verse thus: Lo, there is

nether comforte ner hope for me, yf he wil slaye me.

But I will maintain mine own ways] I am so conscious of my

innocence, that I fear not to defend myself from your aspersions,

even in the presence of my Maker.

Verse 16. He also shall be my salvation] He will save me,

because I trust in him.

A hypocrite] A wicked man shall never be able to stand before

him. I am conscious of this, and were I, as you suppose, a secret

sinner, I should not dare to make this appeal.

Verse 18. Behold now, I have ordered] I am now ready to come

into court, and care not how many I have to contend with, provided

they speak truth.

Verse 19. Who is he that will plead with me?] Let my accuser,

the plaintiff, come forward; I will defend my cause against him.

I shall give up the ghost.] I shall cease to breathe. Defending

myself will be as respiration unto me; or, While he is stating his

case, I will be so silent as scarcely to appear to breathe.

Verse 20. Only do not two things unto me] These two things are

the following: 1. Withdraw thine hand far from me-remove the heavy

affliction which thy hand has inflicted. 2. Let not thy dread make

me afraid-terrify me not with dreadful displays of thy majesty.

The reasons of this request are sufficiently evident: 1. How can a

man stand in a court of justice and plead for his life, when under

grievous bodily affliction? Withdraw thy hand far from me. 2. Is

it to be expected that a man can be sufficiently recollected, and

in self-possession, to plead for his life, when he is overwhelmed

with the awful appearance of the judge, the splendour of the

court, and the various ensigns of justice? Let not thy dread make

me afraid.

Verse 22. Then call thou] Begin thou first to plead, and I will

answer for myself; or, I will first state and defend my own case,

and then answer thou me.

Verse 23. How many are mine iniquities] Job being permitted to

begin first, enters immediately upon the subject; and as it was a

fact that he was grievously afflicted, and this his friends

asserted was in consequence of grievous iniquities, he first

desires to have them specified. What are the specific charges in

this indictment? To say I must be a sinner to be thus afflicted,

is saying nothing; tell me what are the sins, and show me the

proofs.

Verse 24. Wherefore hidest thou thy face] Why is it that I no

longer enjoy thy approbation?

Holdest me for thine enemy?] Treatest me as if I were the vilest

of sinners?

Verse 25. Wilt thou break a leaf] Is it becoming thy dignity to

concern thyself with a creature so contemptible?

Verse 26. Thou writest bitter things against me] The indictment

is filled with bitter or grievous charges, which, if proved, would

bring me to bitter punishment.

The iniquities of my youth] The levities and indiscretions of my

youth I acknowledge; but is this a ground on which to form charges

against a man the integrity of whose life is unimpeachable?

Verse 27. Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks] bassad,

"in a clog," such as was tied to the feet of slaves, to prevent

them from running away. This is still used in the West Indies,

among slave-dealers; and is there called the pudding, being a

large collar of iron, locked round the ankle of the unfortunate

man. Some have had them twenty pounds' weight; and, having been

condemned to carry them for several years, when released could not

walk without them! A case of this kind I knew: The slave had

learned to walk well with his pudding, but when taken off, if he

attempted to walk, he fell down, and was obliged to resume it

occasionally, till practice had taught him the proper centre of

gravity, which had been so materially altered by wearing so large

a weight; the badge at once of his oppression, and of the cruelty

of his task-masters!

And lookest narrowly] Thou hast seen all my goings out and

comings in; and there is no step I have taken in life with which

thou art unacquainted.

Thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet.] Some understand

this as the mark left on the foot by the clog; or the owner's mark

indented on this clog; or, Thou hast pursued me as a hound does

his game, by the scent.

Verse 28. And he, as a rotten thing] I am like a vessel made of

skin; rotten, because of old age, or like a garment corroded by

the moth. So the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic understood it.

The word he may refer to himself.

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