Job 6

CHAPTER VI

Job answers, and vindicates himself; and shows that the great

affliction which he suffered was the cause of his complaining,

by which life was rendered burdensome to him, 1-13.

He complains that, whereas he expected consolation from his

friends, he had received nothing but the bitterest reproaches,

on the assumed ground that he must be a wicked man, else God

would not so grievously afflict him, 14-20.

He shows them that they knew nothing of his case, and that they

had no compassion, 21-23.

And then entreats them, if they can, to show him in what he has

offended, as he is ready to acknowledge and correct every

trespass, 24-30.

NOTES ON CHAP. VI

Verse 2. O that my grief were thoroughly weighed] Job wished to

be dealt with according to justice; as he was willing that his

sins, if they could be proved, should be weighed against his

sufferings; and if this could not be done, he wished that his

sufferings and his complainings might be weighed together; and it

would then be seen that, bitter as his complaint had been, it was

little when compared with the distress which occasioned it.

Verse 3. Heavier than the sand of the sea] This includes two

ideas: their number was too great to be counted; their weight was

too great to be estimated.

Verse 4. The arrows of the Almighty] There is an evident

reference here to wounds inflicted by poisoned arrows; and to the

burning fever occasioned by such wounds, producing such an intense

parching thirst as to dry up all the moisture in the system, stop

all the salivary ducts, thicken and inflame the blood, induce

putrescency, and terminate in raging mania, producing the most

terrifying images, from which the patient is relieved only by

death. This is strongly expressed in the fine figure: The POISON

DRINKETH UP my SPIRIT; the TERRORS of GOD SET THEMSELVES in ARRAY

against me. That calamities are represented among the Eastern

writers as the arrows of the Almighty, we have abundant proofs. In

reference to this, I shall adduce that fine saying attributed to

Aaly, the son-in-law of Mohammed in the Toozuki Teemour; which I

have spoken of elsewhere. "It was once demanded of the fourth

caliph (Aaly,) 'If the canopy of heaven were a bow; and if the

earth were the cord thereof; and if calamities were the arrows;

if mankind were the mark for those arrows; and if Almighty God,

the tremendous and glorious, were the unerring Archer; to whom

could the sons of Adam flee for protection?' The califf answered,

'The sons of Adam must flee unto the Lord.'" This fine image Job

keeps in view in the eighth and ninth verses Job 6:8, 9,

wishing that the unerring marksman may let fly these arrows, let

loose his hand, to destroy and cut him off.

Verse 5. Doth the wild ass] pere, translated onager,

by the Vulgate, from the ονοςαγριος of the Septuagint, which we

properly enough, translate wild ass. It is the same with the tame

ass; only in a wild state it grows to a larger size, is stronger,

and more fleet. The meaning of Job appears to be this: You condemn

me for complaining; do I complain without a cause? The wild ass

will not bray, and the ox will not low, unless in want. If they

have plenty of provender, they are silent. Were I at rest, at

ease, and happy, I would not complain.

Verse 6. Can that which is unsavoury] Mr. Good renders this

verse as follows: Doth insipid food without a mixture of salt,

yea, doth the white of the egg give forth pungency? Which he thus

illustrates: "Doth that which hath nothing of seasoning, nothing

of a pungent or irritable power within it, produce pungency or

irritation? I too should be quiet and complain not, if I had

nothing provocative or acrimonious, but, alas! the food I am

doomed to partake of is the very calamity which is most acute to

my soul-that which I most loathe, and which is most grievous or

trying to my palate." Some render the original, Is there any

dependence on the drivel of dreams?

There have been a great variety of interpretations given of this

verse. I could add another; but that of Mr. Good is as likely to

be correct as that of any other critic.

Verse 8. O that I might have] As Job had no hope that he should

ever be redeemed from his present helpless state, he earnestly

begs God to shorten it by taking away his life.

Verse 9. Let loose his hand] A metaphor taken from an archer

drawing his arrow to the head, and then loosing his hold, that the

arrow may fly to the mark. See on Job 6:4.

Verse 10. Then should I yet have comfort] Instead of od,

YET, three of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS. have zoth,

THIS. And THIS should be my comfort. The expectation that he will

speedily make an end of me would cause me to rejoice with great

joy. This reading is supported by the Vulgate and the Chaldee.

I would harden myself in sorrow] To know that I should shortly

have an end put to my miseries would cause me to endure the

present with determinate resolution. Let him not spare-let him use

whatever means he chooses, for I will not resist his decree; he is

holy, and his decrees must be just.

Verse 11. What is my strength] I can never suppose that my

strength will be restored; and, were that possible, have I any

comfortable prospect of a happy termination of my life? Had I any

prospect of future happiness, I might well bear my present ills;

but the state of my body and the state of my circumstances

preclude all hope.

Verse 12. Is my strength the strength of stones?] I am neither a

rock, nor is my flesh brass, that I can endure all these

calamities. This is a proverbial saying, and exists in all

countries. Cicero says, Non enim est e saxo sculptus, aut e ROBORE

dolatus HOMO; habet corpus, habet animum; movetur mente, movetur

sensibus. "For man is not chiselled out of the rock, nor hewn out

of the oak; he has a body, and he has a soul; the one is actuated

by intellect, the other by the senses." Quaest. Acad. iv. 31. So

Homer, where he represents Apollo urging the Trojans to attack

the Greeks:-

νεμεσησεδαπολλων

περγαμουεκκατιδωντρωεσσιδεκεκλεταυσας

ορνυσθιπποδαμοιτρωεςμηδεικετεχαρμης

αργειοιςεπειουσφιλιθοςχρωςουδεσιδηρος

χαλκονανασχεσθαιταμεσιχροαβαλλομενοισιν

ILLIAD, lib. iv., ver. 507.

But Phoebus now from Ilion's towering height

Shines forth reveal'd, and animates the fight.

Trojans, be bold, and force to force oppose;

Your foaming steeds urge headlong on the foes!

Nor are their bodies ROCKS, nor ribb'd with STEEL;

Your weapons enter, and your strokes they feel.

POPE.

These are almost the same expressions as those in Job.

Verse 13. Is not my help in me?] My help is all in myself; and,

alas! that is perfect weakness: and my subsistence,

tushiyah, all that is real, stable, and permanent, is driven

quite from me. My friends have forsaken me, and I am abandoned to

myself; my property is all taken away, and I have no resources

left. I believe Job neither said, nor intended to say, as some

interpreters have it, Reason is utterly driven from me. Surely

there is no mark in this chapter of his being deranged, or at all

impaired in his intellect.

Verse 14. To him that is afflicted pity should be showed from

his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.] The

Vulgate gives a better sense, Qui tollit ab amico suo

misericordiam, timorem Domini dereliquit, "He who takes away mercy

from his friend, hath cast off the fear of the Lord." The word

lammas, which we render to him who is AFFLICTED, from

masah, to dissolve, or waste away, is in thirty-two of Dr.

Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS. lemoes, "to him that

despiseth his friend;" and hence the passage may be read: To him

who despiseth his friend, it is a reproach; and he will forsake

the fear of the Almighty: or, as Mr. Good translates,

"Shame to the man who despiseth his friend!

He indeed hath departed from the fear of the Almighty."

Eliphaz had, in effect, despised Job; and on this ground had

acted any thing but the part of a friend towards him; and he well

deserved the severe stroke which he here receives. A heathen said,

Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur; the full sense of which we

have in our common adage:-

A FRIEND IN NEED is a FRIEND INDEED

Job's friends, so called, supported each other in their attempts

to blacken the character of this worthy man; and their hand became

the heavier, because they supposed the hand of God was upon him.

To each of them, individually, might be applied the words of

another heathen:-

_____________Absentem qui rodit amicum,

Qui non defendit alio culpante; solutos

Qui captat risus hominum, famamque dicacis,

Fingere qui non visa potest; commissa tacere

Qui nequit; hic niger est; hunc tu, Romane, caveto.

HOR. Satyr. lib. i., s. iv., ver. 81.

He who, malignant, tears an absent friend;

Or, when attack'd by others, don't defend;

Who trivial bursts of laughter strives to raise,

And courts, of prating petulance, the praise;

Of things he never saw who tells his tale,

And friendship's secrets knows not to conceal;__

This man is vile; here, Roman, fix your mark;

His soul's as black as his complexion's dark.

FRANCIS.

Verse 15. Have dealt deceitfully as a brook] There is probably an

allusion here to those land torrents which make a sudden

appearance, and as suddenly vanish; being produced by the rains

that fall upon the mountains during the rainy season, and are soon

absorbed by the thirsty sands over which they run. At first they

seem to promise a permanent stream, and are noticed with delight

by the people, who fill their tanks or reservoirs from their

waters; but sometimes they are so large and rapid as to carry

every thing before them: and then suddenly fail, so that there is

no time to fill the tanks. The approach of Job's friends promised

much of sympathy and compassion; his expectations were raised: but

their conduct soon convinced him that they were physicians of no

value; therefore he compares them to the deceitful torrents that

soon pass away.

Verse 16. Blackish by reason of the ice] He represents the

waters as being sometimes suddenly frozen, their foam being turned

into the semblance of snow or hoar-frost: when the heat comes,

they are speedily liquefied; and the evaporation is so strong from

the heat, and the absorption so powerful from the sand, that they

soon disappear.

Verse 18. The paths of their way] They sometimes forsake their

ancient channels, which is a frequent case with the river

Ganges; and growing smaller and smaller from being divided

into numerous streams, they go to nothing and perish-are at last

utterly lost in the sands.

Verse 19. The troops of Tema looked] The caravans coming from

Tema are represented as arriving at those places where it was

well known torrents did descend from the mountains, and they were

full of expectation that here they could not only slake their

thirst, but fill their girbas or water-skins; but when they

arrive, they find the waters totally dissipated and lost. In vain

did the caravans of Sheba wait for them; they did not reappear:

and they were confounded, because they had hoped to find here

refreshment and rest.

Verse 21. For now ye are nothing] Ye are just to me as those

deceitful torrents to the caravans of Tema and Sheba; they were

nothing to them; ye are nothing to me.

Ye see my casting down] Ye see that I have been hurried from my

eminence into want and misery, as the flood from the top of the

mountains, which is divided, evaporated, and lost in the desert.

And are afraid.] Ye are terrified at the calamity that has come

upon me; and instead of drawing near to comfort me, ye start back

at my appearance.

Verse 22. Did I say, Bring unto me?] Why do you stand aloof?

Have I asked you to bring me any presents? or to supply my wants

out of your stores?

Verse 23. Or, Deliver me] Did I send to you to come and avenge

me of the destroyers of my property, or to rescue my substance out

of the hands of my enemies?

Verse 24. Teach me] Show me where I am mistaken. Bring proper

arguments to convince me of my errors; and you will soon find that

I shall gladly receive your counsels, and abandon the errors of

which I may be convicted.

Verse 25. How forcible are right words] A well-constructed

argument, that has truth for its basis, is irresistible.

But what doth your arguing reprove?] Your reasoning is

defective, because your premises are false; and your conclusions

prove nothing, because of the falsity of the premises whence they

are drawn. The last clause, literally rendered, is, What reproof,

in a reproof from you? As you have proved no fault you have

consequently reproved no vice. Instead of mah

nimretsu, "how forcible," mah nimletsu, "how savoury or

pleasant," is the reading of two MSS., the Chaldee, and some of

the rabbins. Both senses are good, but the common reading is to be

preferred.

Verse 26. Do ye imagine to reprove words] Is it some expressions

which in my hurry, and under the pressure of unprecedented

affliction, I have uttered, that ye catch at? You can find no flaw

in my conduct; would ye make me an OFFENDER for a WORD? Why

endeavour to take such advantage of a man who complains in the

bitterness of his heart, through despair of life and happiness?

Verse 27. Ye overwhelm the fatherless] Ye see that I am as

destitute as the most miserable orphan; would ye overwhelm such a

one? and would you dig a pit for your friend-do ye lay wait for

me, and endeavour to entangle me in my talk? I believe this to be

the spirit of Job's words.

Verse 28. Look upon me] View me; consider my circumstances;

compare my words; and you must be convinced that I have spoken

nothing but truth.

Verse 29. Return, I pray you] Reconsider the whole subject. Do

not be offended. Yea, reconsider the subject; my righteousness is

in it-my argumentation is a sufficient proof of my innocence.

Verse 30. Is there iniquity in my tongue?] Am I not an honest

man? and if in my haste my tongue had uttered falsity, would not

my conscience discern it? and do you think that such a man as your

friend is would defend what he knew to be wrong?

I HAVE done what I could to make this chapter plain, to preserve

the connection, and show the dependence of the several parts on

each other; without which many of the sayings would have been very

obscure. The whole chapter is an inimitable apology for what he

had uttered, and a defence of his conduct. This might have ended

the controversy, had not his friends been determined to bring him

in guilty. They had prejudged his cause, and assumed a certain

position, from which they were determined not to be driven.

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