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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 19

 

 

Verse 1

Job 19:1. Then Job answered and said — “Tired with the little regard paid by the three friends to his defence, and finding them still insisting on their general maxims, Job desires them calmly to consider his case; to reflect that his failings, whatever they were, had not been at all prejudicial to them; but if, on the strength of their general principle, they thought themselves warranted from his sufferings to infer his guilt, he desires them to take notice that this was God’s particular infliction, Job 19:2-7; that he insisted on his innocence, and desired nothing but to bring his cause to an issue, which was, as yet, denied him, Job 19:8-20; that God’s inflictions were indeed very grievous; and, to excite their compassion, he makes here a very moving description of them; but tells them that should be a reason why they should pity him, and not add to the load by their unkind suspicions and cruel treatment, Job 19:21-22; that he was so far from retracting his plea, that he was desirous it should remain for ever on record, Job 19:23-24. — Heath. For he was assured a day was coming in which all his afflictions would be fully recompensed, and in which they would wish that they had treated him in a more friendly manner; though he questioned whether that would suffice to avert God’s judgments from them.” — Dodd.


Verse 2-3

Job 19:2-3. And break me in pieces with words — With mere empty words, void of sense or argument; with your impertinent and unedifying discourses and bitter reproaches. These ten times have ye reproached me That is, many times, a certain number being put for an uncertain. Ye make yourselves strange — You carry yourselves like strangers to me, are not affected with my calamities, and condemn me as if you had never known my integrity and piety.


Verse 4-5

Job 19:4-5. Be it that I have erred, &c. — If I have sinned, I myself suffer for my sins, and therefore deserve your pity rather than your reproaches. If you will magnify yourselves, &c. — Use imperious and contemptuous speeches against me; or seek praise from others by outreasoning me: and plead against me my reproach — Declaim against me, and allege my calamities, which have made me contemptible, as an argument to prove me a hypocrite, and condemn me as such.


Verse 6-7

Job 19:6-7. Know now — Consider well, that God hath overthrown me — Hath grievously afflicted me in various ways, and therefore it ill becomes you to aggravate my miseries. Hebrew, עותני, gnivetani; hath perverted me; either my state and condition, as has now been said: or my right and cause. He oppresseth me with power, and will not give me a fair hearing, as it follows, Job 19:7 . This is a harsh reflection on God: but such thoughts and expressions have sometimes proceeded from good men when they have been under sore afflictions and temptations, which was now Job’s case. And hath compassed me with his net — With afflictions on every side, so that I cannot escape, nor obtain freedom to plead with him as I desire. Behold, I cry out of wrong — Hebrew, אצעק חמס, etsgnack chamas, literally, I cry out injury! violence! namely, from my friends, who show me no pity, but condemn me without cause, and rob me of my good name; or from the Sabeans and Chaldeans, who have plundered me of my substance. Perhaps he also meant to complain that God himself treated him with rigorous justice, and not according to the mercy and benignity which he was wont to show to upright and good men. I cry aloud, but there is no judgment — Neither God nor man relieves or pities me. God, for a time, may seem to turn away his ear from his people, to be angry at their prayers, and overlook their appeals to him, and they must be excused if in that case they complain bitterly. Wo unto us if God be against us.


Verse 8-9

Job 19:8-9. He hath fenced up my way, &c. — So that I can see no means or possibility of getting out of my troubles. He hath set darkness in my paths — So that I cannot discern what course I ought to take. He hath stripped me of my glory — That is, of my estate, and children, and authority, and all my comforts. And taken the crown from my head — All mine ornaments.


Verse 10

Job 19:10. He hath destroyed me on every side — In all respects, my person, and family, and estate. And I am gone — I am a lost and dead man. My hope hath he removed — All my hopes of the present life, but not of the life to come; like a tree — Which, being once plucked up by the roots, never grows again. Hope in this life is a perishing thing. But the hope of good men, when it is cut off from this world, is but removed like a tree, transplanted from this nursery to the garden of God.


Verse 12

Job 19:12. His troops come together — My afflictions, which are but God’s instruments and soldiers marching under his conduct; and raise up their way against me — Cast up a bank, or make a trench about me, as an army besieging a place; or raise a causeway or path, as pioneers usually do, in low and marshy grounds, for the march of an army: that is, God removes all impediments out of the way, and lays me open to troubles and calamities of every kind.


Verse 13

Job 19:13. He hath put my brethren far from me, &c. — I looked for some support and comfort from my kindred and friends, but they were so astonished at the number and dreadfulness of my calamities that they fled from me as a man accursed of God: and as for my neighbours, who formerly much courted my acquaintance: they keep aloof from me, as if they had never known me. As we must see the hand of God in all the injuries we receive from our enemies, so likewise in all the slights and unkindnesses we receive from our friends.


Verse 14

Job 19:14. My kinsfolk — Whom nature inclined to love and befriend me; have failed — To perform the offices of humanity which they owed me: and my familiar friends — To whom I was united by a stronger bond than that of nature; have forgotten me — Have neglected and disregarded me as much as if they had quite forgotten the friendship there was between us.


Verse 15-16

Job 19:15-16. They that dwell in my house — Hebrew, גרי ביתי, garei beethei, peregrini domus meæ, the sojourners of my house, that is, those that formerly were kindly entertained at my house, whether strangers, widows, or the fatherless; nay, the people of my family, even my maids, who, by reason of their sex, have commonly more tender and compassionate hearts than men, count me for a stranger — Have forgotten the respect they owe, and were wont to pay to me, and regard my commands and concerns no more than if I were a stranger to whom they had no relation. I called my servant — To do some servile office; and he gave me no answer — He regarded not what I said; no, not when I besought him, as if he had been my master.


Verse 17

Job 19:17. My breath is strange to my wife, &c. — I am become so loathsome that my wife will not come near me, though I have conjured her to do it, by the dear memory of our children, those common pledges of our mutual love. Houbigant translates the verse, My wife abhors even my breath: the children of my body fly far from my offensive smell: and he observes, that “we are nowhere told that all the children of Job perished, but only such as were feasting in their eldest brother’s house.” It must be observed, however, that when the messenger informed Job of the destruction of his family, the answer which he gave, namely, Naked came I, &c., supposes that there were none who survived that calamity. Some are of opinion that those whom Job calls his children were grandchildren. The LXX. take them for the children of concubines. Sol. Jarchi supposes they were his domestics: but the Hebrew text here does not necessarily imply that there were any children of his then in existence. For there is nothing for the word sake; it is literally, I entreated for the children of my body, which may mean, as interpreted above, for, or by the memory of our children, namely, the children now dead. The general interpretation here supposes that Job’s breath, by reason of his sores and ulcers, was so offensive that his wife could not bear to come near him; but the words do not necessarily imply that: for, as he had just said before, I entreated my servant with my mouth; so, when he immediately adds, My breath is strange: &c., he might mean no more than that his breath or voice was strange also to his wife: that is, she had as little regard to what he said as the servant who gave him no answer when he was called. See Chappelow, who thus paraphrases the passage: “When my servant gave no attention, I called to my wife; but neither did she regard me, though I particularly mentioned to her (as an aggravation of my calamities, and to move her compassion) the loss of my children, whom I had begotten.”


Verse 18

Job 19:18. Yea, young children despised me — Or, the wicked, as in the margin; and as the word עוילים also signifies, being derived from עול, gniv-vel, inique egit, he acted unjustly. Some render it, fools, reading

אוילים, evilim, from אול . If we take the word in any of these senses, we must think that Job had good reason to complain, whether he was despised by children, by wicked men, or by fools. I arose, and they spake against we To show my respect to them, though they were my inferiors, I rose from my seat, or I stood up, as the word אקומה, akumah, means. I did not disoblige, or provoke them, by any uncivil behaviour toward them; but was very courteous and condescending to them, and yet they made it their business to speak against me, and give me abusive words in return for my courtesy.


Verse 19

Job 19:19. All my inward friends abhorred me — מתי סודי, methei sodi, The men of my secret, or council; my intimates and confidants, to whom I imparted all my thoughts, counsels, and concerns. And they whom I loved Sincerely and fervently; are turned against me — So ill do they requite me. He does not say, they who loved me, for had their love been sincere it would have continued, and manifested itself toward him in his affliction as well as in his prosperity.


Verse 20

Job 19:20. My bone — Or, bones, the singular collectively being put for the plural: cleaveth to my skin — Namely, immediately, the flesh next to the skin being consumed. The sense is, Afflictions have so wasted me, that I am little more than skin and bone. And to my flesh — Or, As to my flesh; as closely as it does to those remainders of my flesh, which are left in my inward parts. And I am escaped with the skin of my teeth — I am scarcely free from sores in any part of my skin, except that of my gums, which holdeth and covereth the roots of my teeth. Schultens says, that “it seems to be a proverbial expression, for those who lie beaten and covered with wounds from head to foot, and whose mouths also are broken with blows, so that, being half dead, they are scarcely able to breathe.” Heath and Le Clerc render the verse, My bones pierce through my skin, and my flesh and my teeth slip out from my gums.


Verse 21

Job 19:21. Have pity, have pity upon me, O ye my friends — For such you have been, and still pretend to be; and, therefore, fulfil that relation; and, if you will not help me, yet, at least, pity me. “Nothing can be more pathetic,” says Dr. Dodd, “than the repetition in this passage, as well as the immediate application to his friends; as if he had said, ‘You, at least, with whom I have enjoyed so intimate and friendly a correspondence; you, who more especially should exert the tender office of consolation, do you have some pity upon me, since the hand of God hath so fearfully afflicted me.’“


Verse 22

Job 19:22. Why do you persecute me as God? — As if you had the same infinite knowledge which God hath, whereby you could search my heart, and know my hypocrisy, and the same sovereign authority, to say and do what you please with me. And are not satisfied with my flesh — That is, with the consumption and torment of my whole body, but add to it the vexation of my spirit, by grievous censures and reproaches, and are like wolves and lions, which are not contented with devouring the flesh of their prey, but also break their bones.


Verse 23-24

Job 19:23-24. O that my words were now written! — Either, 1st, All his foregoing discourses with his friends, which he was so far from disowning or being ashamed of, that he was desirous all ages should know them, that they might judge between him and them, and decide whose cause was better, and whose arguments were stronger: or, rather, 2d, The words which he was now about to speak, containing a remarkable confession of his faith. O that they were printed in a book! — Or, rather, inserted, or recorded (as the word יחקו, jochaku, signifies) in a register. The word printed is certainly used very improperly here, as being a term expressive of an art invented only about three hundred and fifty years ago: and, “especially as it does not, even by an improper expression,” as Dr. Dodd justly observes, “convey the idea of Job, which was the perpetuating his words; records, to which Job refers, being written, not printed among us. Observe, reader, that which Job wished for, God granted. His words are written in God’s book, are entered and preserved in the divine records. So that, wherever those records are read, there shall this glorious confession be declared for a memorial of him. That they were graven with an iron pen Of which there is also mention Jeremiah 17:1 ; and lead — Job here alludes to the ancient custom of graving the letters on stone or marble, and then filling them up with lead, to render the inscription more legible and lasting. The LXX. however, do not seem to have understood Job thus, but rather to have supposed that he meant the recording of his words, by engraving them on plates of lead. Their words are, εν γραφειω σιδηρω και μολιβω η εν πετραις εγγλυφηναι, To be engraven with an iron pen and lead, (that is, upon lead,) or on the rocks. And it is very probable it was customary in those times to engrave inscriptions on plates of lead as well as on stones. One of these ways of engraving must have been intended by Job; for it would be absurd to suppose, that he meant to have the inscription cut on stone with a leaden pen, which could make no impression on so hard a material.


Verse 25

Job 19:25. For I know, &c. — Job proceeds now to assign the reason of his confidence in the goodness of his cause, and of his willingness to have the matter depending between him and his friends published and submitted to any trial. I know that my Redeemer liveth — I have no knowledge, nor confidence, nor hope of being restored to the prosperities of this life; yet this one thing I know, which is much more comfortable and considerable, and therein I rejoice, though I be now a dying man, and in a desperate condition for this life; I know that I have a living and powerful Redeemer to plead my cause, and vindicate my person from all severe and unjust censures, and to give sentence for me: a Redeemer, whom I call mine, because I have a particular interest in him, and he hath a particular care of me. Hebrew, ידעתי גאלי חי, jadangti goali chai, I know my living Redeemer; that is, My Redeemer is living, is now living, and I know him: I am acquainted, truly, experimentally, and savingly acquainted with him, because he hath revealed himself to me, and hath given me an understanding to know him. Remember, reader, this knowledge of him, this acquaintance with him, is absolutely necessary to thy salvation. But what Redeemer, and what deliverance, does Job speak of in this and the two following verses? Answer: Some late interpreters understand this passage metaphorically, of God’s delivering Job out of his afflictions and troubles, and restoring him to his former splendour and happiness in this world; it being, they say, a usual thing in Scripture, to call eminent dangers and calamities death, and great and glorious deliverances a quickening or resurrection. But most interpreters, both ancient and modern, understand it of Christ, and of his resurrection, and of Job’s resurrection to life by his power and goodness. And this seems most probable, for many reasons: 1st, Because a proper and literal interpretation of any passage of Scripture is always to be preferred before the metaphorical, where it suits with the text and with other passages. 2d, Because the Hebrew word, גאל, goel, here used, although sometimes used of God, absolutely or essentially considered, yet most properly agrees to Jesus Christ: for this word is primarily spoken of the next kinsman, whose office it was to redeem, by a price paid, the sold or mortgaged estate of his deceased kinsman, Leviticus 25:25 ; and to revenge his death, Numbers 35:12, and to maintain his name and honour by raising up a seed to him, Deuteronomy 25:5. All which most fitly agrees to Christ, who is our nearest kinsman and brother, as having taken our nature upon him, Hebrews 2:11; who hath redeemed that everlasting inheritance which our first parents had utterly lost, by the price of his own blood; and hath revenged the death of mankind upon the contriver of it, the devil, by destroying him and his kingdom; and hath taken a course to preserve our name, and honour, and persons, to eternity. 3d, Because Job was so far from having a firm confidence, such as is here expressed, that he had not the least degree of hope of any such temporal restoration as that which his friends promised him, as we have often observed in his former discourses, as Job 16:22; Job 17:12-13. And, therefore, that hope which every righteous man hath in his death, and which Job often professes that he had, must necessarily have been fixed on his happiness in a future life. 4th, Because this is a more lofty and spiritual strain than any in Job’s former discourses; which generally savour of dejection and diffidence, and either declare or increase his grief; whereas, this puts him into another and much better temper. And, therefore, it is well observed, that after he uttered these expressions we meet not with any such impatient or despairing passages as we had before, which shows that he was now inspired with new life and comfort. 5th, Because this well agrees with several other passages in this book; wherein Job declares that, although he had no hope as to this life, and the comforts thereof, yet he had a hope beyond death, which made him profess, Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him, Job 13:15. Trust in him for what? Surely, for comfort and happiness. Where? Not in this life, for that he supposes to be lost; therefore it must have been in the next life. And this was one reason why he so vehemently desired death, because he knew it would bring him unto God, and unto true felicity. And this his hope and confidence in God, and in his favour to him, Job opposes to those foul and false aspersions which his friends had cast upon him, as if he had forsaken God, and cast off all fear of him, and hope in him. But it is objected, How is it credible, that Job, in those ancient times, and in that dark state of the church, should know these great mysteries of Christ’s incarnation, and of the resurrection and life to come? Answer, 1st, The mystery of the Messiah’s incarnation was revealed to Adam by that first and noted promise, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head, Genesis 3:15; which, being the only foundation of his hopes, for the recovery and salvation of himself and of all his posterity, he would doubtless carefully and diligently explain, as need required, to those that descended from him. 2d, That the ancient patriarchs and prophets were generally acquainted with these doctrines is undeniably evident, from Hebrews 11. and 1 Peter 1:9-12. 3d, Particularly Abraham, from whom Job is supposed to have descended, had the promise made to him, that Christ should come out of his loins, Genesis 12:3; and is said to have seen Christ’s day, and to have rejoiced to see it, John 8:56; and had his hopes and desires fixed upon a divine and heavenly city and country, Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 11:16. And as Abraham knew and believed these things himself, so it is manifest that he taught them to his children and servants, Genesis 18:19, and to his kindred and others, as he had occasion; and, therefore, it cannot seem strange that Job professes his faith and hope in these things.

That my Redeemer liveth — I am a dying man, and my hopes as to this life are dying, but he liveth, and that for ever; and, therefore, though I die, yet he both can and will make me to live again in due time, though not in this world, yet in the other, which is much better. And, though I am now highly censured and condemned by my friends as a great dissembler and secret sinner, whom God’s hand hath found out; yet there is a day coming wherein my cause shall be pleaded, and my name and honour vindicated from all these reproaches, and my integrity brought to light. And that he shall stand in the latter day — In the days of the Messiah, or of the gospel, which are often called the latter or last days, or times, as Isaiah 2:2; Hosea 3:5; Joel 2:28; compared with Acts 2:17; 1 Timothy 4:1; and 2 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 1:1. Or at the day of the general resurrection and judgment, which, as those holy patriarchs well knew, and firmly believed, was to be at the end of the world; for this was the time when Job’s resurrection, of which he here speaks, was to take place. So that, in these words, Job may either be considered as professing his faith in the incarnation of the Messiah; that, as certainly as he then lived, as God was in existence, and had been from eternity, he should, in due time, be made man, and stand in human nature upon the earth: or, that he should rise out of the dust, and stand up the first-fruits of them that sleep, by his resurrection. Or he may refer to the day of general resurrection and final judgment, which, as those holy patriarchs well knew and firmly believed, was to be at the end of the world; and which is often termed the last day: see John 6:39-54; John 11:24; John 12:48; 1 Peter 1:5. Then shall Christ appear and stand upon the earth, or dust, as עפר, gnaphar, properly means; namely, the dust in which his saints and members lie or sleep, whom he will raise up out of it. And therefore he is fitly said to stand upon the dust, or the grave, or death; because then he will subdue and put that, among other enemies, under his feet, as it is expressed 1 Corinthians 15:25 : or, as the Hebrew, ואחרון על עפר יקום, vaacharon gnal gnaphar jakum, may properly be rendered, The last, or he, the last, shall arise, or stand up against the dust, and fight with it, and rescue the bodies of the saints, which are held in it as prisoners, from its dominion and territories.


Verse 26

Job 19:26. And though after my skin, &c. — The style of this and other poetical books of the Scripture is concise and short, and therefore many words are to be understood in some places to complete the sense. The meaning here is, Though my skin be now, in a great measure, consumed by sores, and the rest of it, together with this body, shall be devoured by worms, which may seem to make my case quite desperate, yet in my flesh Hebrew, מבשׁרי, mibbeshari, out of my flesh, or, with my flesh, that is, with eyes of flesh, or bodily eyes; my flesh, or body, being raised from the grave and reunited to my soul: (which is very fitly added, to show that he did not speak of a mental or spiritual, but of a corporeal vision, and that after his death:) shall I see God — The same whom he called his Redeemer, (Job 19:25,) who having taken flesh, and appearing in his flesh or body, with and for Job upon the earth, might well be seen with his bodily eyes. Nor is this understood of a simple seeing of him, but of that glorious and beatifying vision of God which is promised to all God’s people.


Verse 27

Job 19:27. Whom I shall see — In the manner before and after expressed. No wonder that he repeats it again, because the meditation of it was most sweet to him; for myself — For my own benefit and comfort, as the phrase is often used. Or, which is of much the same importance, on my behalf, to plead my cause and vindicate me from all your reproaches. Mine eyes shall behold, and not another — Namely, for me, or in my stead. I shall not see God by another’s eyes, but by my own, and by this self-same body which now I have. Hebrew, ולא זר, velo zar, not a stranger, that is, this privilege shall be granted to me, and to all other sincere servants of God, but not to such as are strangers to God and his people, being alienated from him and his service. And, if I were such a one as you suppose me to be, I could never hope to enjoy that happiness. Though my reins be consumed within me — This I do confidently expect, though at present my case seems hopeless, my very inward parts being consumed with grief; and though, as I have said, the grave and the worms will consume my whole body. Or, without though, for which there is nothing in the Hebrew, My reins are consumed within me: which may be considered as a passionate exclamation, such as we find Genesis 48:18, and often in the book of Psalms, arising from his confident expectation of this his unspeakable happiness, and expressing his vehement desire and longing for that blessed time and state. The intelligent reader will be glad to see father Houbigant’s translation of these three important verses, which is as follows: Job 19:25, For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall hereafter arise over the dust: Job 19:26, And that even I, after my skin is consumed, shall behold my God in my flesh: Job 19:27, Yes, I shall behold him: my eyes, and not another’s, shall see him. This my hope is reposed in my bosom.


Verse 28

Job 19:28. But ye should say — Therefore, because this is my case, and my faith and hope are in God, it would become you, and it is your duty on this account, to say, Why persecute we him? — We are blameworthy that we have persecuted him with such bitter invectives, and we will do so no more; seeing the root of the matter — Hebrew, דבר, dabar, of the word; is found in me — That is, since my heart is sincere and upright before God, and the root, or foundation, of true religion is in me. Cum veritas ipsa inveniatur in me, since the truth itself is found in me. — Vatablus. The root of all true religion is living faith in that Redeemer of whom Job had just spoken, and in the truth and grace of God in and through him; faith working by love, overcoming the world, and purifying the heart; faith disarming death of its sting, and inspiring us with a lively, patient, joyful, and grateful hope of eternal life, such as Job had just expressed. This is the root of the matter, other things are but leaves in comparison of it. This, which implies the whole of godliness and righteousness, is the one thing needful. Let us see to it that this be found in us. And, with respect to others, let us believe that many have this root of the matter in them, who are not in every thing of our mind, and who have their follies, weaknesses, and mistakes: and let us be aware that it is at our peril if we persecute any such. Wo be to him that offends or causes to stumble and fall one of these little ones. God will resent and revenge it. Job and his friends differed in their views concerning the methods of Divine Providence, but they agreed in the root of the matter; and, therefore, it was their duty not to have censured and persecuted, but to have lived in love with each other.


Verse 29

Job 19:29. Be ye afraid of the sword — Of some considerable judgment to be inflicted on you, which is called the sword; as Deuteronomy 32:41, and elsewhere. That is, if ye continue to persecute me. So Houbigant understands him, interpreting these words in connection with the preceding, thus: But if ye shall say, Let us persecute him, and devise some cause of accusation against him: then be afraid for yourselves from the threatening sword. Job may be considered, however, as threatening them with punishment on account of their past uncharitable and unrighteous judgment of him, and severe treatment of him. For wrath bringeth the punishment of the sword — That wrath, or fury, which is in your hearts, and breaks forth from your lips against me, deserves and will certainly bring upon you the punishment of the sword, that is, a dreadful judgment from God. The Hebrew word here rendered punishment, עונות, gnavonoth, properly means iniquities, but is sometimes used, by a metonymy, for the punishment of iniquities, which our translators judged was its meaning here. The sense, however, is good, if the word be rendered literally, thus: Wrath (the sin of wrath, or anger against man, especially against one in affliction) bringeth, or implies, iniquities of the sword, that is, iniquities fit to be punished by the sword, or by some eminent judgment. Thus, Job 31:19, An iniquity of the judges, means an iniquity to be punished by the judges, as our translation has it. That ye may know there is a judgment — I give you this admonition, that you may know in time, and may seriously consider it for your good, that there will be a time of judgment, when God will call men to an account for all their hard speeches and miscarriages, and particularly for their rash and uncharitable censures of their brethren, Matthew 7:1 ; Romans 14:4; James 4:11; either in this life, or at that last and dreadful day of the general resurrection and judgment, of which I have just spoken. God sees and observes, and will judge all your words and actions, and therefore do not flatter yourselves with vain hopes of impunity.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 19:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-19.html. 1857.

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