Job 9

CHAPTER IX

Job acknowledges God's justice and man's sinfulness, 1-3.

Celebrates his almighty power as manifested in the earth and

in the heavens, 4-10.

Maintains that God afflicts the innocent as well as the wicked,

without any respect to their works: and hath delivered the

earth into the hands of the wicked, 11-24.

Complains of his lot, and maintains his innocence, 25-35.

NOTES ON CHAP. IX

Verse 2. I know it is so of a truth] I acknowledge the general

truth of the maxims you have advanced. God will not ultimately

punish a righteous person, nor shall the wicked finally triumph;

and though righteous before man, and truly sincere in my piety,

yet I know, when compared with the immaculate holiness of God, all

my righteousness is nothing.

Verse 3. If he will contend with him] God is so holy, and his

law so strict, that if he will enter into judgment with his

creatures, the most upright of them cannot be justified in his

sight.

One of a thousand.] Of a thousand offences of which he may be

accused he cannot vindicate himself even in one. How little that

any man does, even in the way of righteousness, truth, and mercy,

can stand the penetrating eye of a just and holy God, when all

motives, feelings, and objects, come to be scrutinized in his

sight, on this ground, no man living can be justified. O, how

necessary to fallen, weak, miserable, imperfect and sinful man, is

the doctrine of justification by faith, and sanctification through

the Divine Spirit, by the sacrificial death and mediation of the

Lord Jesus Christ!

Verse 4. He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength] By his

infinite knowledge he searches out and sees all things, and by his

almighty power he can punish all delinquencies. He that rebels

against him must be destroyed.

Verse 5. Removeth the mountains, and they know not] This seems

to refer to earthquakes. By those strong convulsions, mountains,

valleys, hills, even whole islands, are removed in an instant; and

to this latter circumstance the words, they know not, most

probably refer. The work is done in the twinkling of an eye; no

warning is given; the mountain, that seemed to be as firm as the

earth on which it rested, was in the same moment both visible and

invisible; so suddenly was it swallowed up.

Verse 6. The pillars thereof tremble.] This also refers to an

earthquake, and to that tremulous motion which sometimes gives

warning of the approaching catastrophe, and from which this

violent convulsion of nature has received its name. Earthquakes,

in Scripture language, signify also violent commotions and

disturbances in states; mountains often signify rulers; sun,

empires; stars, petty states. But it is most likely that the

expressions here are to be understood literally.

Verse 7. Which commandeth the sun] Obscures it either with

clouds, with thick darkness, or with an eclipse.

Sealeth up the stars.] Like the contents of a letter, wrapped up

and sealed, so that it cannot be read. Sometimes the heavens

become as black as ebony, and no star, figure, or character, in

this great book of God can be read.

Verse 8. And treadeth upon the waves] This is a very majestic

image. God not only walks upon the waters, but when the sea runs

mountains high, he steps from billow to billow in his almighty and

essential majesty. There is a similar sentiment in David,

Ps 29:10: "The Lord sitteth upon the flood; yea, the Lord

sitteth King for ever." But both are far outdone by the Psalmist,

Ps 18:9-15, and especially in these words, Ps 18:10,

He did fly on the wings of the wind. Job is great, but in every

respect David is greater.

Verse 9. Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the

chambers of the south.] For this translation the original words

are oseh ash, kesil, vechimah vehadrey

theman, which are thus rendered by the SEPTUAGINT: οποιων

πλειαδακαιεσπερονκαιαρκτουρονκαιταμειανοτου; "Who makes

the Pleiades, and Hesperus, and Arcturus, and Orion, and the

chambers of the south."

The VULGATE, Qui facit Arcturum, et Oriona, et Hyadas, et

interiora Austri; "Who maketh Arcturus, and Orion, and the Hyades,

and the innermost chambers of the south."

The TARGUM follows the Hebrew, but paraphrases the latter clause

thus: "and the chambers or houses of the planetary domination in

the southern hemisphere."

The SYRIAC and ARABIC, "Who maketh the Pleiades, and Arcturus,

and the giant, (Orion or Hercules,) and the boundaries of the

south."

COVERDALE has, He maketh the waynes of heaven, the Orions, the

vii starres and the secrete places of the south. And on the vii

starres he has this marginal note: some call these seven starres,

the clock henne with hir chickens. See below.

Edmund Becke, in his edition, 1549, follows Coverdale, but puts

VAYNES of heaven for waynes, which Carmarden, in his Bible,

Rouen, 1566, mistaking, changes into WAVES of heaven.

Barker's Bible, 1615, reads, "He maketh the starres Arcturus,

Orion, and Pleiades, and the climates of the south." On which he

has this note, "These are the names of certain starres, whereby he

meaneth that all starres, both knowen and unknowen, are at His

appointment."

Our early translators seem to agree much with the German and

Dutch: Er machet, den wagen am himmel, und Orion, und die Gluken,

und die Sterne gegen mittag; "He maketh the wagon of heaven,

(Charles's wain,) and Orion, and the clucking hen, (the

Pleiades,) and the stars of the mid-day region." See above,

under Coverdale.

The Dutch version is not much unlike the German, from which it

is taken: Die den wagen maecht, den Orion, ende het

sevengesternte, end de binnenkameren ban't Zuyden.

The European versions, in general, copy one or other of the

above, or make a compound translation from the whole; but all are

derived ultimately from the Septuagint and Vulgate.

As to the Hebrew words, they might as well have been applied to

any of the other constellations of heaven: indeed, it does not

appear that constellations are at all meant. Parkhurst and Bate

have given, perhaps, the best interpretation of the words, which

is as follows:-

" kimah, from camah, to be hot or warm,

denotes genial heat or warmth, as opposed to ash, a parching,

biting air, on the one side; and kesil, the rigid,

contracting cold, on the other; and the chambers (thick clouds) of

the south." See more in Parkhurst, under .

I need scarcely add that these words have been variously

translated by critics and commentators. Dr. Hales translates kimah

and kesil by Taurus and Scorpio; and, if this translation were

indubitably correct, we might follow him to his conclusions, viz.,

that Job lived 2337 years before Christ! See at the end of this

chapter. See Clarke on Job 9:35.

Verse 10. Great things past finding out] Great things without

end; wonders without number.-Targum.

Verse 11. Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not] He is

incomprehensible in all his ways, and in all his works; and he

must be so it he be GOD, and work as GOD; for his own nature and

his operations are past finding out.

Verse 12. He taketh away] He never gives, but he is ever

lending: and while the gift is useful or is improved, he

permits it to remain; but when it becomes useless or is misused,

he recalls it.

Who can hinder him?] Literally, Who can cause him to restore it?

What doest thou?] He is supreme, and will give account of none

of his matters. He is infinitely wise, and cannot mistake. He is

infinitely kind, and can do nothing cruel. He is infinitely good,

and can do nothing wrong. No one, therefore, should question

either his motives or his operations.

Verse 13. If God will not withdraw his anger] It is of no use to

contend with God; he cannot be successfully resisted; all his

opposers must perish.

Verse 14. How much less shall I answer] I cannot contend with my

Maker. He is the Lawgiver and the Judge. How shall I stand in

judgment before him?

Verse 15. Though I were righteous] Though clear of all the

crimes, public and secret, of which you accuse me, yet I would not

dare to stand before his immaculate holiness. Man's holiness may

profit man, but in the sight of the infinite purity of God it is

nothing. Thus sung an eminent poet:-

"I loathe myself when God I see,

And into nothing fall;

Content that thou exalted be,

And Christ be all in all."

I would make supplication to my Judge.] Though not conscious of

any sin, I should not think myself thereby justified; but would,

from a conviction of the exceeding breadth of the commandment, and

the limited nature of my own perfection, cry out, "Cleanse thou me

from secret faults!"

Verse 16. If I had called, and he had answered] I could scarcely

suppose, such is his majesty and such his holiness, that he could

condescend to notice a being so mean, and in every respect so

infinitely beneath his notice. These sentiments sufficiently

confuted that slander of his friends, who said he was

presumptuous, had not becoming notions of the majesty of God, and

used blasphemous expressions against his sovereign authority.

Verse 17. He breaketh me with a tempest] The Targum, Syriac, and

Arabic have this sense: He powerfully smites even every hair of my

head and multiplies my wounds without cause. That is, There is no

reason known to myself, or to any man, why I should be thus most

oppressively afflicted. It is, therefore, cruel, and inconsequent

to assert that I suffer for my crimes.

Verse 18. He will not suffer me to take my breath] I have no

respite in my afflictions; I suffer continually in my body, and my

mind is incessantly harassed.

Verse 19. If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong] Human

wisdom, power, and influence avail nothing before him.

Who shall set me a time] mi yoideni, "Who would be

a witness for me?" or, Who would dare to appear in my behalf?

Almost all the terms in this part of the speech of Job,

Job 9:11-24, are

forensic or juridical, and are taken from legal processes and

pleadings in their gates or courts of justice.

Verse 20. If I justify myself] God must have some reason for his

conduct towards me; I therefore do not pretend to justify myself;

the attempt to do it would be an insult to his majesty and

justice. Though I am conscious of none of the crimes of which you

accuse me; and know not why he contends with me; yet he must have

some reason, and that reason he does not choose to explain.

Verse 21. Though I were perfect] Had I the fullest conviction

that, in every thought, word, and deed, I were blameless before

him, yet I would not plead this; nor would I think it any security

for a life of ease and prosperity, or any proof that my days

should be prolonged.

Verse 22. This is one thing] My own observation shows, that in

the course of providence the righteous and the wicked have an

equal lot; for when any sudden calamity comes, the innocent and

the guilty fall alike. There may be a few exceptions, but they are

very extraordinary, and very rare.

Verse 24. The earth is given into the hand of the wicked] Is it

not most evident that the worst men possess most of this world's

goods, and that the righteous are scarcely ever in power or

affluence? This was the case in Job's time; it is the case still.

Therefore prosperity and adversity in this life are no marks

either of God's approbation or disapprobation.

He covereth the faces of the judges thereon] Or, The faces of

its decisions he shall cover. God is often stated in Scripture as

doing a thing which he only permits to be done. So he permits

the eyes of judgment to be blinded; and hence false decisions. Mr.

Good translates the verse thus:-

"The earth is given over to the hand of INJUSTICE;

She hoodwinketh the faces of its judges.

Where every one liveth is it not so?"

And vindicates the translation in his learned notes: but I think

the Hebrew will not bear this rendering; especially that in the

third line.

Where, and who is he?] If this be not the case, who is he

that acts in this way, and where is he to be found? If God does

not permit these things, who is it that orders them?

Coverdale translates, As for the worlde, he geveth it over into

the power of the wicked, such as the rulers be wherof all londes

are full. Is it not so? Where is there eny, but he is soch one?

This sense is clear enough, if the original will bear it. The last

clause is thus rendered by the Syriac and Arabic, Who can bear his

indignation?

Verse 25. Swifter than a post] minni rats, than a runner.

The light-footed messenger or courier who carries messages from

place to place.

They flee away] The Chaldee says, My days are swifter than the

shadow of a flying bird. So swiftly do they flee away that I

cannot discern them; and when past they cannot be recalled. There

is a sentiment like this in VIRGIL, Geor. lib. iii., ver. 284:-

Sed FUGIT interea, CUBIT IRREPARABILE tempus!__

"But in the meanwhile time flies! irreparable time flies away!"

Verse 26. As the swift ships] oniyoth ebeh. Ships

of desire, or ships of Ebeh, says our margin; perhaps more

correctly, inflated ships, the sails bellying out with a fair

brisk wind, tide favourable, and the vessels themselves lightly

freighted.

The Vulgate has, Like ships freighted with apples. Ships laden

with the best fruits.-TARGUM. Ships well adapted for

sailing.-ARABIC. Shipes that be good under sale.-COVERDALE.

Probably this relates to the light fast-sailing ships on the Nile,

which were made of reeds or papyrus.

Perhaps the idea to be seized is not so much the swiftness of

the passage, as their leaving no trace or track behind them. But

instead of ebeh, eybah, hostile ships or the ships

of enemies, is the reading of forty-seven of Kennicott's and De

Rossi's MSS., and of the Syriac version. If this be the true

reading what is its sense? My days are gone off like the light

vessels of the pirates, having stripped me of my property, and

carried all irrecoverably away, under the strongest press of sail,

that they may effect their escape, and secure their booty.

The next words, As the eagle that hasteth to the prey, seem at

least to countenance, if not confirm, the above reading: the idea

of robbery and spoil, prompt attack and sudden retreat, is

preserved in both images.

Verse 27. I will forget my complaint] I will forsake or forego

my complaining. I will leave off my heaviness. VULGATE, I will

change my countenance-force myself to smile, and endeavour to

assume the appearance of comfort.

Verse 28. I am afraid of all my sorrows] Coverdale translates,

after the Vulgate, Then am I afrayed of all my workes. Even were I

to cease from complaining, I fear lest not one of my works,

however well intentioned, would stand thy scrutiny, or meet with

thy approbation.

Thou wilt not hold me innocent.] Coverdale, after the Vulgate,

For I knowe thou favourest not an evil doer; but this is not the

sense of the original: Thou wilt not acquit me so as to take away

my afflictions from me.

Verse 29. If I be wicked] If I am the sinner you suppose me to

be, in vain should I labour to counterfeit joy, and cease to

complain of my sufferings.

Verse 30. If I wash myself with snow water] Supposed to have a

more detergent quality than common water; and it was certainly

preferred to common water by the ancients. Of this we find an

example in an elegant but licentious author: Tandem ergo

discubuimus, pueris Alexandrinis AQUAM in manus NIVATAM

infundentibus, aliisque insequentibus ad pedes.-PETR. Satyr., cap.

xxxi. "At length we sat down, and had snow water poured on our

hands by lads of Alexandria," &c.

Mr. Good supposes that there is an allusion here to the ancient

rite of washing the hands in token of innocence. See Ps 26:6:

I will WASH my hands in INNOCENCY; and Ps 73:13:

Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and WASHED my HANDS IN

INNOCENCY. And by this ceremony Pilate declared himself innocent

of the blood of Christ, Mt 27:24.

Verse 31. And mine own clothes shall abhor me.] Such is thine

infinite purity, when put in opposition to the purity of man, that

it will bear no comparison. Searched and tried by the eye of God,

I should be found as a leper, so that my own clothes would dread

to touch me, for fear of being infected by my corruption. This is

a strong and bold figure; and is derived from the corrupted state

of his body, which his clothes dreaded to touch, because of the

contagious nature of his disorder.

Verse 32. For he is not a man as I am] I cannot contend with him

as with one of my fellows in a court of justice.

Verse 33. Neither is there any day's-man] beyneynu

mochiach, a reprover, arguer, or umpire between us. DAY'S-MAN, in

our law, means an arbitrator, or umpire between party and party;

as it were bestowing a day, or certain time on a certain day, to

decree, judge, or decide a matter.-Minshieu. DAY is used in law

for the day of appearance in court, either originally or upon

assignation, for hearing a matter for trial.-Idem. But arbitrator

is the proper meaning of the term here: one who is, by the consent

of both parties, to judge between them, and settle their

differences.

Instead of lo yesh, there is not, fifteen of Kennicott's

and De Rossi's MSS., with the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic,

read lu vesh, I wish there were: or, O that there were!

ειθεηνομεσιτηςημωνκαιελεγχωνκαιδιακουωναναμεσον

αμφοτερων; O that we had a mediator, an advocate, and judge

between us both!-SEPT. Poor Job! He did not yet know the Mediator

between God and man: the only means by which God and man can be

brought together and reconciled. Had St. Paul this in his eye when

he wrote 1Ti 2:5, 6?

For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the

man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all. Without this

Mediator, and the ransom price which he has laid down, God and

man can never be united: and that this union might be made

possible, Jesus took the human into conjunction with his Divine

nature; and thus God was manifest in the flesh.

Verse 34. Let him take his rod away] In the Masoretic Bibles,

the word shibto, his rod, is written with a large

teth, as above; and as the letter in numerals stands for 9, the

Masora says the word was thus written to show the nine

calamities under which Job had suffered, and which he wished God

to remove.

As shebet signifies, not only rod, but also sceptre or

the ensign of royalty, Job might here refer to God sitting in his

majesty upon the judgment-seat; and this sight so appalled him,

that, filled with terror, he was unable to speak. When a sinful

soul sees God in his majesty, terror seizes upon it, and prayer is

impossible. We have a beautiful illustration of this, Isa 6:1-5:

"I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his

train filled the temple. Then said I, Wo is me, for I am undone,

because I am a man of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the

King, the Lord of hosts."

Verse 35. But it is not so with me.] I am not in such

circumstances as to plead with my Judge. I believe the sense of

these words is nearly as Coverdale has expressed it:-For as longe

as I am in soch fearfulnesse, I can make no answere. A natural

picture of the state of a penitent soul, which needs no additional

colouring.

ON the names of the constellations mentioned Job 9:9, and again

Job 38:31, &c., much has been written, and to little effect. I

have already, in the notes, expressed my doubts whether any

constellation be intended. Dr. Hales, however, finds in these

names, as he thinks, astronomical data, by which he ascertains the

time of Job. I shall give his words:-

"The cardinal constellations of spring and autumn, in Job's

time, were Chimah, and Chesil or Taurus, and Scorpio;

noticed Job 9:9, and again, Job 38:31, 32; of which the

principal stars are, Aldebaran, the bull's eye, and Antares, the

scorpion's heart. Knowing, therefore, the longitudes of these

stars, at present, the interval of time from thence to the assumed

date of Job's trial will give the difference of the longitudes;

and ascertain their positions then, with respect to the vernal and

autumnal points of intersection of the equinoctial and ecliptic;

according to the usual rate of the precession of the equinoxes,

one degree in 71 years. See that article, vol. i. p. 185.

"The following calculations I owe to the kindness and skill of

the respectable Dr. Brinkley, Andrew's Professor of Astronomy in

the University of Dublin.

"In A.D. 1800 Aldebaran was in 2 signs, 7 degrees, east

longitude. But since the date of Job's trial, B.C. 2338, i.e.,

4138 years, the precession of the equinoxes amounted to 1 sign, 27

degrees, 53 minutes; which, being subtracted from the former

quantity, left Aldebaran in only 9 degrees, 7 minutes longitude,

or distance from the vernal intersection; which, falling within

the constellation Taurus, consequently rendered it the cardinal

constellation of spring, as Pisces is at present.

"In A.D. 1800 Antares was in 8 signs, 6 degrees, 58 minutes,

east longitude; or 2 signs, 6 degrees, 58 minutes, east of the

autumnal intersection: from which subtracting as before the

amount of the precession, Antares was left only 9 degrees, 5

minutes east. Since then, the autumnal equinox was found within

Scorpio, this was the cardinal constellation of autumn, as Virgo

is at present.

"Such a combination and coincidence of various rays of evidence,

derived from widely different sources, history, sacred and

profane, chronology, and astronomy, and all converging to the same

focus, tend strongly to establish the time of Job's trial, as

rightly assigned to the year B.C. 2337, or 818 years after the

deluge, 184 years before the birth of Abram; 474 years before the

settlement of Jacob's family in Egypt; and 689 years before their

exode or departure from thence." New Analysis of Chronology,

vol. ii., p. 57.

Now all this is specious; and, were the foundation sound, we

might rely on the permanence of the building, though the rains

should descend, the floods come, and the winds blow and beat on

that house. But all these deductions and conclusions are founded

on the assumption that Chimah and Chesil mean Taurus and

Scorpio: but this is the very point that is to be proved; for

proof of this is not offered, nor, indeed, can be offered; and

such assumptions are palpably nugatory. That ash has been

generally understood to signify the Great Bear; Kesil, Orion;

and Kimah, the Pleiades; may be seen everywhere: but that

they do signify these constellations is perfectly uncertain. We

have only conjectures concerning their meaning; and on such

conjectures no system can be built. Genuine data, in Dr. Hales's

hands, are sure to be conducted to legitimate conclusions: but

neither he nor any one else can construct an astronomical fabric

in the limbus of conjecture. When JOB lived is perfectly

uncertain: but that this book was written 818 years after the

deluge; 184 years before the birth of Abram, and 689 years before

the exodus; and that all this is demonstrable from Chimah and

Chesil signifying Taurus and Scorpio, whence the positions of

the equinoxes at the time of Job's trial can be ascertained; can

never be proved, and should never be credited.

In what many learned men have written on this subject, I find as

much solidity and satisfaction as from what is piously and gravely

stated in the Glossa Ordinaria:-

Qui facit Arcturum. Diversae sunt constellationes, varios status

ecclesiae signantes. Per Arcturum, qui semper super orizontem

nostrum apparet, significatur status apostolorum qui in episcopis

remanet. Per Oriona, qui est tempestatis signum, significatur

status martyrum. Per Hyadas, quae significant pluvios, status

doctorum doctrinae pluvium effundentium. Per interiora austri,

quae sunt nobis occulta, status Anachoretarum, hominum aspectus

declinantium. "These different constellations signify various

states of the Church. By Arcturus, which always appears above our

horizon, is signified the apostolic state, which still remains in

episcopacy. By Orion, which is a tempestuous sign, is signified

the state of the martyrs. By the Hyades, (kids,) which indicate

rain, the state of the doctors, pouring out the rain of doctrine,

is signified. And by the inner chambers of the south, which are

hidden from us, the state of the Anchorets (hermits) is signified,

who always shun the sight of men."

Much more of the same allegorical matter may be found in the

same place, the Glossa Ordinaria of Strabus of Fulda, on the

ninth chapter of Job. But how unreal and empty are all these

things! What an uncertain sound do such trumpets give!

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