|<< Job 19 >>|
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
Job complains of the cruelty of his friends, Job 19:1-5. Pathetically laments his sufferings, Job 19:6-12. Complains of his being forsaken by all his domestics, friends, relatives, and even his wife, Job 19:13-19. Details his sufferings in an affecting manner, calls upon his friends to pity him, and earnestly wishes that his speeches may be recorded, Job 19:20-24. Expresses his hope in a future resurrection, Job 19:25-27. And warns his persecutors to desist, lest they fall under God's judgments, Job 19:28, Job 19:29.
1Then Job answered and said,
2How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?
How long will ye vex my soul - Every thing that was irritating, vexatious, and opprobrious, his friends had recourse to, in order to support their own system, and overwhelm him. Not one of them seems to have been touched with a feeling of tenderness towards him, nor does a kind expression drop at any time from their lips! They were called friends; but this term, in reference to them, must be taken in the sense of cold-blooded acquaintances. However, there are many in the world that go under the sacred name of friends, who, in times of difficulty, act a similar part. Job's friends have been, by the general consent of posterity, consigned to endless infamy. May all those who follow their steps be equally enrolled in the annals of bad fame!
3These ten times have ye reproached me: ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me.
These ten times - The exact arithmetical number is not to be regarded; ten times being put for many times, as we have already seen. See particularly the note on Genesis 31:7 (note).
Ye make yourselves strange to me - When I was in affluence and prosperity, ye were my intimates, and appeared to rejoice in my happiness; but now ye scarcely know me, or ye profess to consider me a wicked man because I am in adversity. Of this you had no suspicion when I was in prosperity! Circumstances change men's minds.
4And be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth with myself.
And be it indeed that I have erred - Suppose indeed that I have been mistaken in any thing, that in the simplicity of my heart I have gone astray, and that this matter remains with myself, (for most certainly there is no public stain on my life), you must grant that this error, whatsoever it is, has hurt no person except myself. Why then do ye treat me as a person whose life has been a general blot, and whose example must be a public curse?
5If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me, and plead against me my reproach:
6Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net.
Know now that God hath overthrown me - The matter is between him and me, and he has not commissioned you to add reproaches to his chastisements.
And hath compassed me with his net - There may be an allusion here to the different modes of hunting which have been already referred to in the preceding chapter. But if we take the whole verse together, and read the latter clause before the former, thus, "Know, therefore, that God hath encompassed me with his net, and overthrown me;" the allusion may be to an ancient mode of combat practiced among the ancient Persians, ancient Goths, and among the Romans. The custom among the Romans was this: "One of the combatants was armed with a sword and shield, the other with a trident and net. The net he endeavored to cast over the head of his adversary, in which, when he succeeded, the entangled person was soon pulled down by a noose that fastened round the neck, and then despatched. The person who carried the net and trident was called Retiarius, and the other who carried the sword and shield was termed Secutor, or the pursuer, because, when the Retiarius missed his throw, he was obliged to run about the ground till he got his net in order for a second throw, while the Secutor followed hard to prevent and despatch him." The Persians in old times used what was called (Persic) kumund, the noose. It was not a net, but a sort of running loop, which horsemen endeavored to cast over the heads of their enemies that they might pull them off their horses. That the Goths used a hoop net fastened to a pole, which they endeavored to throw over the heads of their foes, is attested by Olaus Magnus, Hist. de Gentibus Septentrionalibus, Rom. 1555, lib. xi., cap. 13, De diversis Modis praeliandi Finnorum. His words are, Quidam restibus instar retium ferinorum ductilibus sublimi jactatione utuntur: ubi enim cum hoste congressi sunt, injiciunt eos restes quasi laqueos in caput resistentis, ut equum aut hominem ad se trahant. "Some use elastic ropes, formed like hunting nets, which they throw aloft; and when they come in contact with the enemy, they throw these ropes over the head of their opponent, and by this means they can then drag either man or horse to themselves." At the head of the page he gives a wood-cut representing the net, and the manner of throwing it over the head of the enemy. To such a device Job might allude, God hath encompassed me with his Net, and overthrown me.
7Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment.
I cry out of wrong - I complain of violence and of injustice; but no one comes to my help.
8He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths.
He hath fenced up my way - This may allude to the mode of hunting the elephant, described at the conclusion of the preceding chapter; or to the operations of an invading army. See under Job 19:11 (note).
9He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head.
He hath stripped me of my glory - I am reduced to such circumstances, that I have lost all my honor and respect.
10He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone: and mine hope hath he removed like a tree.
Mine hope hath he removed like a tree - There is no more hope of my restoration to affluence, authority, and respect, than there is that a tree shall grow and flourish, whose roots are extracted from the earth. I am pulled up by the roots, withered, and gone.
11He hath also kindled his wrath against me, and he counteth me unto him as one of his enemies.
And he counteth me unto him as one of his enemies - From the seventh to the thirteenth verse there seems to be an allusion to a hostile invasion, battles, sieges, etc.
1. A neighboring chief, without provocation, invades his neighbor's territories, and none of his friends will come to his help. "I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard," Job 19:7.
2. The foe has seized on all the passes, and he is hemmed up. "He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass," Job 19:8.
3. He has surprised and carried by assault the regal city, seized and possessed the treasures. "He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head," Job 19:9.
4. All his armies are routed in the field, and his strong places carried. "He hath destroyed me on every side," Job 19:10.
5. The enemy proceeds to the greatest length of outrage, wasting every thing with fire and sword. "He hath kindled his wrath against me, and treateth me like one of his adversaries, Job 19:11.
6. He is cooped up in a small camp with the wrecks of his army; and in this he is closely besieged by all the power of his foes, who encompass the place, and raise forts against it. "His troops come together, and raise up their way against me, and encamp round about my tabernacle."
7. Not receiving any assistance from friends or neighbors, he abandons all hope of being able to keep the field, escapes with the utmost difficulty, and is despised and neglected by his friends and domestics because he has been unfortunate. "I am escaped with the skin of my teeth," Job 19:20. "My kinsfolk have failed-all my intimate friends abhorred me," Job 19:14-19.
12His troops come together, and raise up their way against me, and encamp round about my tabernacle.
13He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me.
14My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me.
My kinsfolk have failed - Literally, departed: they have all left my house, now there is no more hope of gain.
15They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight.
They that dwell in mine house - In this and the following verses the disregard and contempt usually shown to men who have fallen from affluence and authority into poverty and dependence, are very forcibly described: formerly reverenced by all, now esteemed by none. Pity to those who have fallen into adversity is rarely shown; the rich have many friends, and to him who appears to be gaining worldly substance much court is paid; for many worship the rising sun, who think little of that which is gone down. Some are even reproached with that eminence which they have lost, though not culpable for the loss. A bishop, perhaps Bale, of Ossory, being obliged to leave his country and fly for his life, in the days of bloody Queen Mary, and who never regained his bishopric, was met one morning by one like those whom Job describes, who, intending to be witty at the expense of the venerable prelate, accosted him thus: "Good morrow, Bishop quondam." To which the bishop smartly replied, "Adieu, Knave semper."
16I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I intreated him with my mouth.
17My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children's sake of mine own body.
Though I entreated for the children's sake of mine own body - This may imply no more than adjuring her by the tenderest ties, by their affectionate intercourse, and consequently by the children which had been the seals of their mutual affection, though these children were no more. But the mention of his children in this place may intimate that he had still some remaining; that there might have been young ones, who, not being of a proper age to attend the festival of their elder brothers and sisters, escaped that sad catastrophe. The Septuagint have, Προσεκαλουμην δε κολακευων υἰους παλλακιδων μου, "I affectionately entreated the children of my concubines." But there is no ground in the Hebrew text for such a strange exceptionable rendering. Coverdale has, I am fayne to speake fayre to the children of myne own body.
18Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me.
19All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me.
My inward friends - Those who were my greatest intimates.
20My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.
My bone cleaveth to my skin - My flesh is entirely wasted away, and nothing but skin and bone left.
I am escaped with the skin of my teeth - I have had the most narrow escape. If I still live, it is a thing to be wondered at, my sufferings and privations have been so great. To escape with the skin of the teeth seems to have been a proverbial expression, signifying great difficulty. I had as narrow an escape from death, as the thickness of the enamel on the teeth. I was within a hair's breadth of destruction; see on Job 19:11 (note).
21Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.
Have pity upon me - The iteration here strongly indicates the depth of his distress, and that his spirit was worn down with the length and severity of his suffering.
22Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?
Why do ye persecute me as God - Are not the afflictions which God sends enough? Do ye not see that I have as much as I can bear? When the papists were burning Dr. Taylor at Oxford, while wrapped in the flames, one of the true sons of the Church took a stick out of the faggots, and threw it at his head, and split open his face. To whom he calmly said, Man, why this wrong? Do not I suffer enough?
And are not satisfied with my flesh? - Will ye persecute my soul, while God is persecuting my body? Is it not enough that my body is destroyed? Why then labor to torment my mind?
23Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!
O that my words were now written! - Job introduces the important subject which follows in a manner unusually solemn; and he certainly considers the words which he was about to utter of great moment, and therefore wishes them to be recorded in every possible way. All the modes of writing then in use he appears to refer to. As to printing, that should be out of the question, as no such art was then discovered, nor for nearly two thousand years after. Our translators have made a strange mistake by rendering the verb יחקו yuchaku, printed, when they should have used described, traced out. O that my words were fairly traced out in a book! It is necessary to make this remark, because superficial readers have imagined that the art of printing existed in Job's time, and that it was not a discovery of the fifteenth century of the Christian era: whereas there is no proof that it ever existed in the world before a.d. 1440, or thereabouts, for the first printed book with a date is a psalter printed by John Fust, in 1457, and the first Bible with a date is that by the same artist in 1460. Three kinds of writing Job alludes to, as being practiced in his time:
1. Writing in a book, formed either of the leaves of the papyrus, already described, (see on Job 8:11 (note)), or on a sort of linen cloth. A roll of this kind, with unknown characters, I have seen taken out of the envelopments of an Egyptian mummy. Denon, in his travels in Egypt, gives an account of a book of this kind, with an engraved facsimile, taken also out of an Egyptian mummy.
2. Cutting with an iron stile on plates of lead.
3. Engraving on large stones or rocks, many of which are still found in different parts of Arabia.
To the present day the leaves of the palm tree are used in the East instead of paper, and a stile of brass, silver, iron, etc., with a steel point, serves for a pen. By this instrument the letters are cut or engraved on the substance of the leaf, and afterwards some black colouring matter is rubbed in, in order to make the letters apparent. This was probably the oldest mode of writing, and it continues among the Cingalese to the present day. It is worthy of remark that Pliny (Hist. Nat., lib. xiii., c. 11) mentions most of these methods of writing, and states that the leaves of the palm tree were used before other substances were invented. After showing that paper was not used before the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, he proceeds: In palmarum foliis primo scriptitatum; deinde quarundam arborum libris: postea publica monumenta plumbeis voluminibus, mox et privata linteis confici caepta, aut ceris. "At first men wrote on palm tree leaves, and afterwards on the bark or rind of other trees. In process of time, public monuments were written on rolls of lead, and those of a private nature on linen books, or tables covered with wax." Pausanias, lib. xii., c. 31, giving an account of the Boeotians, who dwelt near fount Helicon, states the following fact: -
Και μοι μολιβδον εδεικνυσαν, ενθα ἡ πηγη, τα πολλα ὑπο του χρονου λελυμασμενον, εγγεγραπται γαρ αυτῳ τα εργα;
"They showed me a leaden table near to the fountain, all which his works (Hesiod's) were written; but a great part had perished by the injuries of time."
24That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!
Iron pen and lead - Some suppose that the meaning of this place is this: the iron pen is the chisel by which the letters were to be deeply cut in the stone or rock; and the lead was melted into those cavities in order to preserve the engraving distinct. But this is not so natural a supposition as what is stated above; that Job refers to the different kinds of writing or perpetuating public events, used in his time: and the quotations from Pliny and Pausanias confirm the opinion already expressed.
25For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
For I know that my Redeemer liveth - Any attempt to establish the true meaning of this passage is almost hopeless. By learned men and eminent critics the words have been understood very differently; some vehemently contending that they refer to the resurrection of the body, and the redemption of the human race by Jesus Christ; while others, with equal vehemence and show of argument, have contended that they refer only to Job's restoration to health, family comforts, and general prosperity, after the present trial should be ended. In defense of these two opinions larger treatises have been written than the whole book of Job would amount to, if written even in capitals. To discuss the arguments on either side the nature of this work forbids; but my own view of the subject will be reasonably expected by the reader. I shall therefore lay down one principle, without which no mode of interpretation hitherto offered can have any weight. The principle is this: Job was now under the especial inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and spoke prophetically. Now, whether we allow that the passage refers to the general resurrection and the redemption by Christ, or to Job's restoration to health, happiness, and prosperity, this principle is equally necessary.
1. In those times no man could speak so clearly concerning the general resurrection and the redemption by Jesus Christ as Job, by one class of interpreters, is supposed here to do, unless especially inspired for this very purpose.
2. Job's restoration to health and happiness, which, though it did take place, was so totally improbable to himself all the way through, so wholly unexpected, and, in every sense, impossible, except to the almighty power of God, that it could not be inferred from any thing that had already taken place, and must be foreshown by direct inspiration.
Now, that it was equally easy to predict either of these events, will be at once evident, because both were in futurity, and both were previously determined. Nothing contingent could exist in either; with them man had nothing to do; and they were equally within the knowledge of Him to whose ubiquity there can be neither past nor future time; in whose presence absolute and contingent events subsist in their own distinctive characters, and are never resolved into each other. But another question may arise, Which was most likely to be the subject of this oracular declaration, the general resurrection and redemption by Christ; or the restoration of Job to health and affluence? If we look only to the general importance of these things, this question may be soon decided; for the doctrine of human redemption, and the general resurrection to an eternal life, are of infinitely greater importance than any thing that could affect the personal welfare of Job. We may therefore say, of two things which only the power of God can effect, and one of which only shall be done it is natural to conclude he will do that which is of most importance; and that is of most importance by which a greater measure of glory is secured to himself, and a greater sum of good produced to mankind. As, therefore, a revelation by which the whole human race, in all its successive generations, to the end of time, may be most essentially benefited, is superior in its worth and importance to that by which one man only can be benefited, it is natural to conclude here, that the revelation relative to the general resurrection, etc., is that which most likely the text includes. But to this it may be answered, God does not do always in the first instance that which is most necessary and important in itself, as every thing is done in that order and in that time which seems best to his godly wisdom; therefore, a thing of less importance may be done now, and a thing of greater importance left to a future time. So, God made the earth before he made man, produced light before he formed the celestial luminaries, and instituted the Mosaic economy before the Christian dispensation. This is all true, for every thing is done in that season in which it may best fulfill the designs of providence and grace. But the question still recurs, Which of the predictions was most congruous to the circumstances of Job, and those of his companions; and which of them was most likely to do most good on that occasion, and to be most useful through the subsequent ages of the world? The subject is now considerably narrowed; and, if this question could be satisfactorily answered, the true meaning of the passage would be at once found out.
1. For the sake of righteousness, justice, and truth, and to vindicate the ways of God with man, it was necessary that Job's innocence should be cleared; that the false judgments of his friends should be corrected; and that, as Job was now reduced to a state of the lowest distress, it was worthy the kindness of God to give him some direct intimation that his sufferings should have a happy termination. That such an event ought to take place, there can be no question: and that it did take place, is asserted in the book; and that Job's friends saw it, were reproved, corrected, and admitted into his favor of whom they did not speak that which was right, and who had, in consequence, God's wrath kindled against them, are also attested facts. But surely there was no need of so solemn a revelation to inform them of what was shortly to take place, when they lived to see it; nor can it be judged essentially necessary to the support of Job, when the ordinary consolations of God's Spirit, and the excitement of a good hope through grace, might have as completely answered the end.
2. On the other hand, to give men, who were the chiefs of their respective tribes, proper notice of a doctrine of which they appear to have had no adequate conception, and which was so necessary to the peace of society, the good government of men, and the control of unruly and wayward passions, which the doctrine of the general resurrection and consequent judgment is well calculated to produce; and to stay and support the suffering godly under the afflictions and calamities of life; were objects worthy the highest regards of infinite philanthropy and justice, and of the most pointed and solemn revelation which could be given on such an occasion. In short, they are the grounds on which all revelation is given to the sons of men: and the prophecy in question, viewed in this light, was, in that dark age and country, a light shining in a dark place; for the doctrine of the general resurrection and of future rewards and punishments, existed among the Arabs from time immemorial, and was a part of the public creed of the different tribes when Mohammed endeavored to establish his own views of that resurrection and of future rewards and punishments, by the edge of the sword. I have thus endeavored dispassionately to view this subject; and having instituted the preceding mode of reasoning, without foreseeing where it would tend, being only desirous to find out truth, I arrive at the conclusion, that the prophecy in question was not designed to point out the future prosperity of Job; but rather the future redemption of mankind by Jesus Christ, and the general resurrection of the human race. After what has been stated above, a short paraphrase on the words of the text will be all that is necessary to be added. I know, ידעתי yadati, I have a firm and full persuasion, that my Redeemer, גאלי goali, my Kinsman, he whose right it was among the ancient Hebrews to redeem the forfeited heritages belonging to the family, to vindicate its honor, and to avenge the death of any of his relatives by slaying the murderer; (Leviticus 25:25; Numbers 35:12; Ruth 3:13); but here it must refer to Christ, who has truly the right of redemption, being of the same kindred, who was born of woman, flesh of flesh and bone of our bone. Liveth, חי chai, is the living One, who has the keys of hell and death: the Creator and Lord of the spirits of all flesh, and the principle and support of all life. And that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. The latter day, אחרון acharon, the latter day, or time, when God comes to judgment; or finally, or at last, or in the last time, or latter days, as the Gospel is termed, he shall be manifested in the flesh. He shall stand, יקום yakum, he shall arise, or stand up, i.e., to give sentence in judgment: or he himself shall arise from the dust, as the passage has been understood by some to refer to the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Upon the earth, על עפר al aphar, over the dead, or those who are reduced to dust. This is the meaning of עפר aphar in Psalm 30:9 : What profit is there in my blood when I go down to the pit? Shall the Dust (i.e., the dead) praise thee? He shall arise over the dust - over them who sleep in the dust, whom he shall also raise up.
26And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
And though after my skin worms destroy this body - My skin, which is now almost all that remains of my former self, except the bones; see Job 19:20. They destroy this - not body. נקפו זאת nikkephu zoth, they - diseases and affliction, destroy This wretched composition of misery and corruption.
Yet in my flesh shall I see God - Either, I shall arise from the dead, have a renewed body and see him with eyes of flesh and blood, though what I have now shall shortly moulder into dust, or, I shall see him in the flesh; my Kinsman, who shall partake of my flesh and blood, in order that he may ransom the lost inheritance.
27Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
Whom I shall see for myself - Have a personal interest in the resurrection, as I shall have in the Redeemer.
And mine eyes shall behold - That very person who shall be the resurrection, as he is the life.
And not another - ולא זר velo zar, and not a stranger, one who has no relation to human nature; but גאלי goali, my redeeming Kinsman.
Though my reins be consumed within me - Though I am now apparently on the brink of death, the thread of life being spun out to extreme tenuity. This, on the mode of interpretation which I have assumed, appears to be the meaning of this passage. The words may have a somewhat different colouring put on them; but the basis of the interpretation will be the same. I shall conclude with the version of Coverdale: -
For I am sure that my Redeemer liveth;
And that I shal ryse out of the earth in the latter daye;
That I shal be clothed againe with this skynne
And se God in my flesh.
Yee, I myself shal beholde him,
Not with other, but with these same eyes.
My reins are consumed within me, when ye saye,
Why do not we persecute him?
We have founde an occasion against him.
28But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?
But ye should say - Or, Then ye shall say.
Why persecute we him - Or, as Mr. Good, How did we persecute him! Alas! we are now convinced that we did wrong.
Seeing the root of the matter - A pure practice, and a sound hope, resting on the solid ground of sound faith, received from God himself. Instead of בי bi, in Me, בי bo, in Him, is the reading of more than one hundred of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS., and in several of the versions. Seeing the root of the matter is found in Him.
29Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is a judgment.
Be ye afraid of the sword - Of God's judgments.
For wrath bringeth - Such anger as ye have displayed against me, God will certainly resent and punish.
That ye may know there is a judgment - That ye may know that God will judge the world; and that the unequal distribution of riches and poverty, afflictions and health, in the present life, is a proof that there must be a future judgment, where evil shall be punished and virtue rewarded.
It would not be fair, after all the discussion of the preceding verses in reference to the two grand opinions and modes of interpretation instituted by learned men, not to inform the reader that a third method of solving all difficulties has been proposed, viz., that Job refers to a Divine conviction which he had just then received, that God would appear in the most evident manner to vindicate his innocence, and give the fullest proofs to his friends and to the world that his afflictions had not been sent as a scourge for his iniquities. Dr. Kennicott was the proposer of this third mode of solving these difficulties, and I shall give his method in his own words. "These five verses, though they contain but twelve lines, have occasioned controversies without number, as to the general meaning of Job in this place, whether he here expressed his firm belief of a resurrection to happiness after death, or of a restoration to prosperity during the remainder of his life. "Each of these positions has found powerful as well as numerous advocates; and the short issue of the whole seems to be, that each party has confuted the opposite opinion, yet without establishing its own. For how could Job here express his conviction of a reverse of things in this world, and of a restoration to temporal prosperity, at the very time when he strongly asserts that his miseries would soon be terminated by death? See Job 6:11; Job 7:21; Job 17:11-15; Job 19:10, and particularly in Job 7:7 : O remember that my life is wind; mine eye shall no more see good. "Still less could Job here express a hope full of immortality, which sense cannot be extorted from the words without every violence. And as the possession of such belief is not to be reconciled with Job's so bitterly cursing the day of his birth in Job 3:1-3, so the declaration of such belief would have solved at once the whole difficulty in dispute. "But if neither of the preceding and opposite opinions can be admitted, if the words are not meant to express Job's belief either of a restoration or of a resurrection, what then are we to do? It does not appear to me that any other interpretation has yet been proposed by the learned; yet I will now venture to offer a third interpretation, different from both the former, and which, whilst it is free from the preceding difficulties, does not seem liable to equal objections. "The conviction, then, which I suppose Job to express here, is this: That though his dissolution was hastening on amidst the unjust accusations of his pretended friends, and the cruel insults of his hostile relations; and though, whilst he was thus singularly oppressed with anguish of mind, he was also tortured with pains of body, torn by sores and ulcers from head to foot, and sitting upon dust and ashes; yet still, out of that miserable body, in his flesh thus stripped of skin, and nearly dropping into the grave, He Should See God, who would appear in his favor, and vindicate The Integrity of his character. This opinion may perhaps be fairly and fully supported by the sense of the words themselves, by the context, and by the following remarks. "We read in Job 2:7, that Job was smitten with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown; and Job 2:8, 'He sat down among the ashes.' In Job 7:5, Job says, 'My flesh is clothed with worms, and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome.' In Job 16:19 : 'Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.' Then come the words of Job, Job 19:25-29. And then, in opposition to what Job had just said, that God would soon appear to vindicate him, and that even his accusing friends would acquit him, Zophar says, Job 20:27, that 'the heaven would reveal his iniquity, and the earth would rise up against him.' Lastly, this opinion concerning Job's words, as to God's vindication of him, is confirmed strongly at the end of the book, which records the conclusion of Job's history. His firm hope is here supposed to be that, before his death, he should, with his bodily eyes, see God appearing and vindicating his character. And from the conclusion we learn that God did thus appear: Now, says Job, mine eye seeth thee. And then did God most effectually and for ever brighten the glory of Job's fame, by four times calling him His Servant; and, as his anger was kindled against Job's friends, by speaking to them in the following words: 'Ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Go to my servant Job, - and my servant Job shall pray for you, - in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job,' Job 40:7, Job 40:8." Dr. K. then gives the common version, and proposes the following as a new version: -
Job 19:25 For I know that my Vindicator liveth,And he at last shall arise over this dust.
Job 19:26 And after that mine adversaries have mangled me thus,Even in my flesh shall I see God.
Job 19:27 Whom I shall see on my side;And mine eyes shall behold, but not estranged from me:All this have I made up in mine bosom.
Job 19:28 Verily ye shall say, Why have we persecuted him;Seeing the truth of the matter is found with him?
Job 19:29 Tremble for yourselves at the face of the sword;For the sword waxeth hot against iniquities:Therefore be assured that judgment will take place.
Kennicott's Remarks on Select Passages of Scripture, p. 165.
There is something very plausible in this plan of Dr. Kennicott; and in the conflicting opinions relative to the meaning of this celebrated and much controverted passage, no doubt some will be found who will adopt it as a middle course. The theory, however, is better than some of the arguments by which it is supported. Yet had I not been led, by the evidence mentioned before, to the conclusion there drawn, I should probably have adopted Dr. K.'s opinion with some modification: but as to his new version, it is what I am persuaded the Hebrew text can never bear. It is even too loose a paraphrase of the original, as indeed are most of the new versions of this passage. Dr. Kennicott says, that such a confidence as those cause Job to express, who make him speak concerning the future resurrection, ill comports with his cursing so bitterly the day of his birth, etc. But this objection has little if any strength, when we consider that it is not at all probable that Job had this confidence any time before the moment in which he uttered it: it was then a direct revelation, nothing of which he ever had before, else he had never dropped those words of impatience and irritation which we find in several of his speeches. And this may be safely inferred from the consideration, that after this time no such words escaped his lips: he bears the rest of his sufferings with great patience and fortitude; and seems to look forward with steady hope to that day in which all tears shall be wiped away from off all faces, and it be fully proved that the Judge of all the earth has done right.