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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 17

 

 

Verse 1

Job 17:1. My breath is corrupt — Is offensive to those around me, through my disease. But, as the word חבלה, chubbalah, here rendered corrupt, may signify bound, straitened, or distressed with pain, as a woman in travail, Chappelow thinks the phrase had better be rendered: Spiritus meus constringitur, vel, cum dolore emititur; that is, I have such an oppression, that I can hardly breathe. The reading of the margin, however, is not to be overlooked, My spirit is spent, or lost, that is, my vital spirits and animal powers are wasted; my soul is ready to leave the body: I am a gone man. My days are extinct — The lamp of my life is far spent, and upon the point of going out. The graves are ready for me — That is, the grave; the plural number being put for the singular. Or, he speaks of the sepulchres of his fathers, to which he was to be gathered. Sol. Jarchi’s comment is, “I am ready for the grave.” The text is only קברים לי, kebarim li, sepulchra mihi: The grave for me, or, I have the grave. Any addition seems to spoil that elegancy of expression which consists in a sudden, quick turn of thought; as if Job had said, My breath is gone; my days extinct; I have a grave. Thus the Vulgate, Solum mihi superest sepulchrum, The grave only remains for me. Wherever we go there is but a step between us and the grave. The sepulchres where our fathers are laid are ready for us also. Whatever is unready, the grave is ready. It is a bed soon made. And, if the grave be ready for us, it concerns us to be ready for the grave.


Verse 2

Job 17:2. Are there not mockers with me? — Do not my friends, instead of comforting, mock and abuse me, as if I had made use of religion only as a cloak to cover my wickedness? Thus he returns to what he had said chap. Job 16:20), and intimates the necessity and justice of his following appeal, which otherwise might have been thought too bold. And doth not mine eye continue in their provocation? — That is, doth not their provocation continue in mine eye? Do not I still behold them provoking me to my face? Or he may speak of the eye of his mind, and then the meaning is, Their provoking scoffs and reproaches do not only molest me in the day-time, when they are with me, but lodge with me (for the word תלן, talan, here rendered continue, signifies to lodge) in the night, and are continually in my thoughts.


Verse 3

Job 17:3. Lay down now — Some earnest or pledge. Put me in a surety with thee — Let me have an assurance that God will take the hearing and determining of the cause into his own hands, and I desire no more. Who is he that will strike hands with me? — That is, agree and promise, or be surety to me, whereof striking or joining hands was the usual sign. But, probably, we ought rather to consider Job as addressing God in these words, and then we must understand them as containing an humble desire that he would be his surety, or would appoint him a surety, who should maintain his righteous cause against his opposers. “Our English annotations,” says Henry, “give this reading of the verse; Appoint, I pray thee, my surety with thee, namely, Christ, who is with thee in heaven, and hath undertaken to be my surety: let him plead my cause, and stand up for me, and who is he then that will strike upon my hand? that is, who dares then contend with me? Who shall lay any thing to my charge, if Christ be an advocate for me? Romans 8:32-33. Christ is the surety of the better testament, (Hebrews 7:22,) a surety of God’s appointing; and if he undertake for us we need not fear what can be done against us.”


Verse 4

Job 17:4. Thou hast hid their heart from understanding — Rather, thou hast hid understanding from their heart. The minds of my friends are so blinded, that they cannot see those truths which are most plain and evident to all men of sense and experience. Hence, I desire a more wise and able judge. Therefore shalt thou not exalt them — Thou wilt not give them the victory over me in this contest, but wilt give sentence for me, and make them ashamed of their confidence in affirming falsehoods of thee, and wilt punish them severely for their misconduct.


Verse 5

Job 17:5. He that speaketh flattery to his friends — “The Hebrew of this verse,” says Peters, “literally, runs thus: He shall reckon friends for a portion, or inheritance, and the eyes of his children shall fail; that is, with expectation. They may look their eyes out before they receive any benefit or assistance from these friends. The expression is proverbial, intimating how liable men are to be disappointed, who depend upon the constancy of human friendships. And nothing could be more apposite to Job’s purpose.” Heath renders the words,” Whoso becometh the accuser of his friends, the eyes of his children will fail; that is, not only he, but his sons after him may look till they be weary, before they get more.” Bishop Patrick’s paraphrase on this and the two preceding verses appears to be perfectly consistent with the context, and is certainly well deserving of the reader’s attention. Lay down now, &c. Job 17:3. “Once more, therefore, I beseech thee, O God, to assure me that thou wilt judge my cause thyself; let somebody undertake for thee; who is it, that on thy behalf will engage to do me right? Job 17:4. Not these friends of mine, for they comprehend nothing of the way of thy judgments: therefore thou shalt not confer this honour on them who talk so absurdly. Job 17:5. I must speak the truth of them, (though it displease them,) and not sooth them up in their errors: for he that flatters his friends, when he should reprove them, may look long enough before either he, or his children, find one that will deal sincerely with them.” We add also the following interpretation of this verse, proposed by Poole. “He that uttereth, or declareth his mind, or thoughts, with flattery, or to flatter, or deceive another, he shall be severely punished, not only in his person, but even in his children, whose eyes shall fail with vain expectations of relief, and deliverance out of those calamities which shall come upon them for this sin of their parents.”


Verse 6

Job 17:6. He — That is, God, who is generally designed by this pronoun in this book; hath made me also a by-word of the people — Or, a proverb, or subject of common talk. My miseries are so great and unprecedented that they fill all people with discourse, and are become proverbial to express extreme misery. And, or rather, but, or although, aforetime I was as a tabret — That is, I was the people’s delight and darling, the matter of their praise, and received by them with applauses, and, as it were, with instruments of music. Thus he aggravates his present misery by the mention of his former prosperity.


Verse 7

Job 17:7. Mine eye also is dim by reason of sorrow — Through excessive weeping and decay of spirits, which cause a dimness of the sight. And all my members are as a shadow — My body is so reduced, and I am grown so poor and thin, and my colour so wan and ghastly, that I look more like a ghost or a shadow than a man.


Verse 8

Job 17:8. Upright men shall be astonied at this — Wise and good men, when they shall see me, and consider my calamities, will not be so forward to censure and condemn me as you are, but will rather stand and wonder at the depth and mysteriousness of God’s judgments, which fall so heavily upon innocent men, while the worst of men prosper. And, or, rather, but, or yet, the innocent shall stir himself up against the hypocrite — Notwithstanding all these sufferings of good men, and the astonishment which they cause, he shall be so far from joining his opinions, counsels, and interest with those profane men, who take occasion from thence to censure afflicted persons, and desert, condemn, and reproach the profession and practice of godliness, that he will the more zealously oppose those hypocrites who make these strange providences of God an objection to religion, and will prefer afflicted piety to prosperous iniquity.


Verse 9

Job 17:9. The righteous shall hold on his way — Shall persevere in that good way upon which he hath entered, and not be turned from it by any afflictions which may befall himself, or any other good men; nor by any contempt or reproach cast upon them by the ungodly, by reason thereof. And he that hath clean hands — Whose life, and the course of whose actions, is righteous and holy; which is a sign that his heart also is upright and pure from the love of sin; shall be stronger and stronger — Shall not be shaken and discouraged by the afflictions and distresses of the godly, nor by the bitter censures and reproaches of hypocrites or wicked men; but will be confirmed thereby, and made more constant and resolute in cleaving to God, his ways, and people.


Verse 10

Job 17:10. But as for you all — Who have charged me so heavily. Do you return and come now — Recollect yourselves: reflect on what I have said, and consider my cause again; peradventure your second thoughts may be wiser. For I cannot find one wise man among you — Namely, as to this matter. None of you judge truly of my case; nor speak like wise and good men; but, like rash and inconsiderate persons, you censure me as a hypocrite, judge erroneously of God’s ways, and condemn the generation of his children on false grounds and frivolous pretences.


Verse 11

Job 17:11. My days are past — The days of my life. I am a dying man, and therefore the hopes you give me of the bettering of my condition are vain. My purposes are broken off — Or the designs and expectations which I had in my prosperous days concerning myself and children, and the continuance of my happiness. Even the thoughts of my heart — Hebrew, מורשׁי, morashei; the possessions of my heart; that is, those counsels and intentions which in a great measure possessed my heart, and were natural and familiar to me. All these are disappointed and come to nothing.


Verse 12

Job 17:12. They change the night into day — My distressing thoughts, griefs, and fears, so incessantly pursue and disturb me, that I can no more sleep in the night than in the day. The light is short — The day-light, which often gives some comfort to men in misery, seems to be gone and fled as soon as it is begun; because of darkness — Because of my grievous pains and torments, which follow me by day as well as by night.


Verse 13

Job 17:13. If I wait, the grave is my house — Hebrew, אם אקוה, im akaveh, If I eagerly desire and expect any thing now, it is the grave, the only habitation I can promise myself; and which I am just entering. There I am going to rest in a bed where I shall not be disturbed, for which therefore I am preparing myself. In all situations, and amidst all changes, we should keep the grave in view, the bed in which we are shortly to lie, and, by preparation for it, should endeavour to make it easy, namely, by securing peace with God, by keeping our consciences pure, by seeing Christ lying in this bed, and so turning it into a bed of spices, and by looking beyond it to the resurrection.


Verse 14-15

Job 17:14-15. I have said to corruption — Hebrew, קראתי, karati, I have called to corruption; to the grave, where the body will be dissolved and become corrupt. Thou art my father — I am near akin to thee, being formed out of thee, and thou wilt receive and embrace me, and keep me in thy house as parents do their children. To the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister — A near relation, being of the same origin, and because of the most strict and intimate union between us. And where is now my hope? What then is become of that hope which you advised me to entertain?

As for my hope — Or the happiness which you would have me expect; who shall see it? — No man shall see it, it shall never be. The happiness I expect is out of sight, consisting in the enjoyment, not of things that are seen, which are temporal, but of those which are unseen, which are eternal.


Verse 16

Job 17:16. They shall go down to the bars of the pit — They that would see my hope must go down into the grave, or rather into the invisible world, to behold it. Or, he means, My hope shall go down, of which he spake in the singular number, Job 17:15, and which he here changes into the plural, as is usual in these poetical books. Thus Houbigant renders this clause: It, namely, my hope, shall descend together with me into the grave: it shall rest with me in the dust. My hopes of temporal good are dying, and will be buried in my grave, where I and they, and I and my friends, shall lie together. Remember, reader, we must all shortly lie in the dust, under the bars of the pit; held fast there, till the general resurrection. And all good men, if, like Job and his friends, they cannot agree now, will there rest together. Let the foresight of this cool the heat of all contenders, and moderate the disputers of this world.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 17:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-17.html. 1857.

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