Job 17


Job complains of the injustice of his friends, and compares his

present state of want and wo with his former honour and

affluence, 1-6.

God's dealings with him will ever astonish upright men; yet the

righteous shall not be discouraged, but hold on his way, 7-9.

Asserts that there is not a wise man among his friends, and

that he has no expectation but of a speedy death, 10-16.


Verse 1. My breath is corrupt] Rather, My spirit is oppressed,

ruchi chubbalah: My days are extinct, and the

sepulchral cells are ready for me.-PARKHURST. There is probably a

reference here to cemeteries, where were several niches, in each

of which a corpse was deposited. See on Job 17:16.

For chubbalah, corrupted or oppressed, some MSS. have

chalah, is made weak; and one has is worn down, consumed:

this is agreeable to the Vulgate, Spiritus meus attenuebatur; "My

spirit is exhausted."

Verse 2. Are there not mockers with me?] This has been variously

translated. The VULGATE: "I have not sinned, and yet my eye dwells

upon afflictions." SEPTUAGINT: "I conjure you, labouring under

afflictions, what evil have I done? Yet strangers have robbed me

of my substance." Mr. GOOD: "But are not revilers before me? Alas,

mine eye penetrateth their rebukes." CALMET thinks the Hebrew

might be translated thus: "If I have not been united in friendship

with the wicked, why are my eyes in bitterness?" COVERDALE

translates both verses thus: My breth fayleth, my dayes are

shortened, I am harde at deathes dore. I have disceaved no man,

yet must myne eye continue in hevynesse. Mr. HEATH "Were it not

so, I have sarcasms enow in store; and I could spend the whole

night unmoved at their aggravations." The general meaning is

sufficiently plain, and the reader has got translations enough.

Verse 3. Lay down now] Deposit a pledge; stake your conduct

against mine, and your life and soul on the issue; let the cause

come before God, let him try it; and see whether any of you shall

be justified by him, while I am condemned.

Verse 4. For thou hast hid their heart] This address is to God;

and here he is represented as doing that which in the course of

his providence he only permits to be done.

Shalt thou not exalt them.] This was exactly fulfilled: not one

of Job's friends was exalted; on the contrary, God condemned the

whole; and they were not received into the Divine favour till Job

sacrificed, and made intercession for them.

Verse 5. He that speaketh flattery] There is a great variety of

meaning given to the terms in this verse. The general sense is,

The man who expects much from his friends will be disappointed:

while depending on them his children's eyes may fail in looking

for bread.

Verse 6. He hath made me also a by-word] My afflictions and

calamities have become a subject of general conversation, so that

my poverty and affliction are proverbial. As poor as Job, As

afflicted as Job, are proverbs that have even reached our times

and are still in use.

Aforetime I was as a tabret.] This is not the translation of the

Hebrew vethopheth lephanim eheyeh. Instead of

lephanim, I would read liphneghem, and then the

clause might be translated thus: I shall be as a furnace, or

consuming fire (Topheth) before them. They shall have little

reason to mock when they see the end of the Lord's dealings with

me; my example will be a consuming fire to them, and my false

friends will be confounded. COVERDALE translates thus: He hath

made me as it were a byworde of the comon people. I am his

gestinge stocke amonge them.

Verse 7. Mine eye also is dim] Continual weeping impairs the

sight; and indeed any affliction that debilitates the frame

generally weakens the sight in the same proportion.

All my members are as a shadow.] Nothing is left but skin and

bone. I am but the shadow of my former self.

Verse 8. Upright men shall be astonied] In several of these

verses Job is supposed to speak prophetically of his future

restoration, and of the good which religious society should derive

from the history of his original affluence, consequent poverty and

affliction, and final restoration to health, peace, and

prosperity. The upright will receive the account with

astonishment, and wonder at the dispensations of the Almighty;

while hypocrites, false professors and the sour-headed, godly,

shall be unmasked, and innocent men, whether in affliction or

affluence, shall be known to be favourites of the Almighty.

Verse 9. The righteous also shall hold on his way] There shall

be no doubt concerning the dispensations of the Divine providence.

My case shall illustrate all seemingly intricate displays of God's

government. None shall be stumbled at seeing a godly man under

oppression, knowing that God never permits any thing of the kind

but for the good of the subject, and the manifestation of his own

mercy, wisdom, and love. Therefore whatever occurs to the

righteous man, he will take it for granted that all is well and

justly managed, and that the end will be glorious.

Shall be stronger and stronger.] He shall take encouragement

from my case, stay himself on the Lord, and thus gain strength by

every blast of adversity. This is one grand use of the book of

Job. It casts much light on seemingly partial displays of Divine

providence: and has ever been the great text-book of godly men in

a state of persecution and affliction. This is what Job seems

prophetically to declare.

Verse 10. But as for you all] Ye are too proud, and too full of

self-importance, to profit by what ye see. Return-enter into

yourselves, consider your ways, go again to school, get back to

your own houses, and endeavour to acquire humility and knowledge;

for there is not one wise man among you.

Verse 11. My days are past] Job seems to relapse here into his

former state of gloom. These transitions are very frequent in this

poem; and they strongly mark the struggle of piety and resignation

with continued affliction, violent temptation, and gloomy


The thoughts of my heart.] All my purposes are interrupted; and

all my schemes and plans, in relation to myself and family, are

torn asunder, destroyed, and dissipated.

Verse 12. They change the night into day] These purposes and

thoughts are so very gloomy, that they change day into night.

The light is short because of darkness.] or

karob mippeney choshek, "The light is near from the face of

darkness." I have scarcely any light: what is called light is so

near akin to darkness, that it is scarcely severed from it. There

is either no light, or merely such as is sufficient to render

darkness visible. A fine picture of the state of his mind-he was

generally in darkness; but had occasional gleams of hope.

Verse 13. The grave is mine house] Let my life be long or short,

the grave at last will be my home. I expect soon to lie down in

darkness-there is my end: I cannot reasonably hope for any thing


Verse 14. I have said to corruption] I came from a corrupted

stock, and I must go to corruption again. The Hebrew might be thus

rendered: To the ditch I have called, Thou art my father. To the

worm, Thou art my mother and my sister. I am in the nearest state

of affinity to dissolution and corruption: I may well call them my

nearest relations, as I shall soon be blended with them.

Verse 15. And where is now my hope?] In the circumstances in

which I am found, of what use can hope be? Were I to form the

expectation of future good, who could ever see it realized? Is it

then any wonder that I should complain and bemoan my wretched lot?

Verse 16. They shall go down to the bars of the pit] All that I

have must descend into the depths of the grave. Thither are we all

going; and there alone can I rest.

baddey, which we translate bars, signifies also branches,

distended limbs, or claws, and may here refer either to a

personification of the grave, a monster who seizes on human

bodies, and keeps them fast in his deadly gripe; or to the

different branching-off-alleys in subterranean cemeteries, or

catacombs, in which niches are made for the reception of different


When our rest together is in the dust.] That is, according to

some critics, My hope and myself shall descend together into the

grave. It shall never be realized, for the time of my departure is

at hand.

IN those times what deep shades hung on the state of man after

death, and on every thing pertaining to the eternal world!

Perplexity and uncertainty were the consequences; and a

corresponding gloom often dwelt on the minds of even the best of

the Old Testament believers. Job's friends, though learned in all

the wisdom of the Arabians, connected with the advantages

derivable from the Mosaic writings, and perhaps those of the

earlier prophets, had little clear or distinct in their minds

relative to all subjects post mortem, or of the invisible world.

Job himself, though sometimes strongly confident, is often

harassed with doubts and fears upon the subject, insomuch that his

sayings and experience often appear contradictory. Perhaps it

could not be otherwise; the true light was not then come: Jesus

alone brought life and immortality to light by his Gospel.

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