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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 30

 

 

Verse 1

Job 30:1. But now, &c. — Job having, in the foregoing chapter, described the honour of his former condition, goes on here, by way of contrast, to describe the vileness of his present state. They that are younger than I — Whom both universal custom and the light of nature taught to reverence their elders and betters; have me in derision — Make me the object of their contempt and scoffs: thus my glory is turned into shame. Whose fathers I would have disdained — Or, rather, might have disdained; that is, whose condition was so mean and vile, that in the opinion, and according to the custom of the world, they were unworthy to be my shepherds, and the companions of my dogs, which watch my flocks. This and the seven following verses are an exaggerated description of the vileness of those to whom he was now become a derision, notwithstanding all his former authority.


Verse 2

Job 30:2. Yea, whereto might their hands profit me? — Nor was it strange that I did, or might refuse to take them into any of my meanest services, being utterly impotent and unfit for any business; in whom old age was perished — Who were grown no wiser for being old. Or, rather, who had so wasted their strength and spirits by their evil courses, that when they came to old age they were debilitated, feeble, and useless for any labour. Accordingly, Houbigant interprets the clause, When all their health or strength was worn out; and others render it, In whom vigorous age was perished; that is, who were grown useless for service. For the word כלח, chelach, here rendered old age, is used only here and Job 5:26, where also it may be so rendered, Thou shalt come to thy grave in a vigorous, or mature age, having the vigour of youth even in thy old age, and until thy death, as Moses had. And if this word do signify old age, yet it signifies not every, but only a flourishing and healthful old age; as the Hebrews note, and the word may seem to imply; whence the LXX. also render it perfection, namely, of age, and of the endowments belonging to age.


Verse 3

Job 30:3. For want and famine — Brought upon them either by their own sloth or wickedness, or by God’s just judgment. Hebrew, בחסר, becheser, In want and famine, which aggravates their following solitude. They were solitary, &c. — Although want commonly draws persons to places of resort and company for relief, yet they were so conscious of their own guilt, and contemptibleness, and hatefulness to all persons, that they shunned all company, and for fear or shame fled into and lived in desolate places.


Verse 4

Job 30:4. Who cut up mallows — Or, bitter herbs, as the word seems to import, which shows their extreme necessity; by the bushes — Or, by the shrubs, nigh unto which they grew. Or, with the bark of trees, as the Vulgate Latin renders it; and juniper-roots — Possibly the word may signify some other plant, for the Hebrews themselves are at a loss for the signification of the names of plants.


Verse 5-6

Job 30:5-6. They were driven forth from among men — As unworthy of human society; and for their beggary and dishonesty, suspected and avoided of all men; they cried after them as after a thief — Giving one another warning of their danger from them.


Verse 7

Job 30:7. Among the bushes they brayed — Like the wild asses, (Job 6:5,) for hunger or thirst. They brayed, seems to be an improper translation here; because, though נהק, nahak, signifies to bray, when applied to an ass, yet when spoken of men in difficult circumstances, as in this verse, we should rather say with the Targum and LXX., they sighed, cried out, or made their moan. So Heath and Houbigant render it. Under the nettles they were gathered — The word חרול, charul, here rendered nettles, is by some translated thorns, or thistles, the nettle being too small a plant, as Bochart observes, for men to gather themselves under. Dr. Waterland, however, renders it, Among the nettles were they tormented, or burned. The meaning is, that they hid themselves under the thorns, or among the nettles, that they might not be discovered when they were sought out for justice.


Verses 8-10

Job 30:8-10. They were children of fools, &c. — They were children of base, obscure parents; viler than the earth upon which they trod. Houbigant translates the verse: Foolish men and inglorious, they were driven out of the country in which they lived. And now am I their song — The matter of their song and derision. They now rejoice in my calamities, because I formerly used my authority to punish such vagrants. They flee far from me In contempt of my person, and loathing of my sores; and spare not to spit in my face — Not literally, for they kept far from him, as he now said, but figuratively; that is, they use all manner of contemptuous and reproachful expressions toward me, not only behind my back, but even to my face. Houbigant reads, They abominate me; they hold me in the utmost abhorrence; and fear not to spit in my face. Here we may see in Job a type of Christ, who was thus made a reproach of men, and despised of the people.


Verse 11

Job 30:11. Because he — That is, God; hath loosed my cord — Hath slackened the string of my bow, and so rendered it and my arrows useless; that is, he hath deprived me of my strength and defence: so understood, this expression is opposed to that used Job 29:20, My bow is renewed, &c. But the phrase may mean, He hath taken away from me that power and authority wherewith, as with a cord, I bound them to their good behaviour, and kept them within proper bounds. A similar expression is used in this sense Job 12:18. As, however, the word יתר, jether, here rendered cord, also means excellence, and is so translated Genesis 49:3 ; Job 4:21, and in other places, the sense here may be, He hath loosed, broken, or destroyed my excellence: or, as Schultens translates it, He hath stripped me of my glory. And afflicted me — When they perceived that God, who had been my faithful friend and constant defender, had forsaken me and was become mine enemy, they presently took this advantage of showing their malice against me. They have also let loose the bridle — They have cast off all former restraints of law, humanity, or modesty, and have given themselves full liberty to speak or act what they pleased against me: and this before me — For they now dare to do those things before mine eyes which they would formerly have trembled lest they should come to my ears.


Verse 12

Job 30:12. Upon my right hand — The place of adversaries or accusers in courts of justice, Psalms 109:6; Zechariah 3:1. Or this may be observed to show their boldness and contempt of him, in that they dared to place themselves on his right hand; rise the youth — Hebrew, young striplings. Those who formerly hid themselves from my presence, (Job 29:8,) now rise up, in the way of contempt and opposition, or to accuse and reproach me. They push away my feet — Either, 1st, Properly, they trip up my heels; or, rather, 2d, Metaphorically, they endeavour utterly to overthrow my goings, and to cast me down to the ground. And they raise up against me the ways of their destruction — That is, causeways or banks, alluding to soldiers who cast up banks against the city which they besiege. The meaning is, they prepare, contrive, and use several methods to destroy me. Heath renders the verse, On my right hand their brood start up; they trip up my heels. Their troops of destruction throw up an intrenchment round me.


Verse 13

Job 30:13. They mar my path — Or, rather, dig up my path. As I am in great misery, so they endeavour to stop all my ways out of it, and to frustrate all my counsels and methods for obtaining relief and comfort. The allusion to a place besieged is still carried on; the besiegers of which strive to cut off all communication of the besieged with the country around. Or, the sense may be, they pervert all my ways, putting perverse and false constructions on them, censuring my conscientious discharge of my duty to God and men as nothing but craft and hypocrisy. They set forward my calamity — Increasing it by bitter taunts, invectives, and censures. But יעילו, jognilu, may be rendered, They profit by, or are pleased with, my calamity. Heath reads this and the next clause, They triumph in my calamity: there is none who helpeth me against them.


Verse 14

Job 30:14. They came as a wide breaking in of waters — As fiercely and violently as a river doth when a great breach is made in the bank which kept it in. Hebrew, כפרצ רחב, cheperetz rachab, as at a wide breach, as a besieging army, having made a breach in the walls of the city, do suddenly and forcibly rush into it. The word waters, the reader will observe, is not in the Hebrew. In the desolation they rolled themselves upon me — As the waters or soldiers come tumbling in at the breach, they poured themselves upon me, that they might utterly destroy and make me desolate.


Verse 15

Job 30:15. Terrors are turned upon me — Many terrible things from God, who sets himself against me, and in some sort joins his forces with these miscreants, are directed against me, to whom they seem not to belong, as being the portion of wicked men. They pursue my soul — Hebrew, נדבתי, nedibathi, my principal, or excellent one; that is, my soul, which is properly so called, as being the chief part of man, and which was the proper seat and object of divine terrors, as his body was of his outward pains and ulcers; as the wind — That is, speedily, vehemently, and irresistibly; and my welfare — All the happiness and comfort of my life; passeth away as a cloud — Which is quickly dissolved into rain, or dissipated by the sun, or driven away with the wind.


Verse 16-17

Job 30:16-17. My soul is poured out upon me — Or within me, as the particle עלי, gnali, is elsewhere used. All the strength and powers of my soul are melted, faint, and die away. My bones are pierced — Or rather, it, namely, the terrors or affliction last mentioned, hath pierced my bones. This is no slight and superficial, but a most deep wound, that reaches to my very heart, bones, and marrow. Nothing in me is so secret but it reaches it; nothing so hard and solid but it feels the weight and burden of it. In the night season — When others and I should receive some rest and refreshment; and my sinews take no rest — The flesh of my body, which covereth the sinews and is mixed with them. So he signifies that neither his bones nor his flesh rested.


Verse 18-19

Job 30:18-19. By the great force of my disease, &c. — The words, of my disease, are not in the Hebrew, neither do they seem to be rightly supplied, but rather to obscure the sense of the clause, which, without any supplement, is literally rendered, With great force my garment is changed, for so this verb יתחפשׁ, jithchappesh, is used, 1 Kings 22:30 . Thus the sense is, I cannot shift or put off my garment without great difficulty; the reason whereof is given in the following words: It bindeth me about as the collar of my coat — It cleaveth fast to me, being glued by that purulent matter which issues from my sores. He seems to allude to the fashion of the eastern outward garments, which were all of a piece, and had a strait mouth at the top, which was brought over the head and fastened close about the neck. Some, however, understand the clause figuratively, thus: By the great force, that is, the power of God, is my garment changed, that is, my condition is wholly altered; it bindeth me about, &c. — I am straitly bound in on every side with my sorrows and afflictions, as it were, with a collar; every part of me, from head to foot, is, as it were, wrapped round with pains; and all my limbs are, in a manner, bound with them. He hath cast me into the mire, &c. — I am reduced to the lowest and filthiest condition possible. Houbigant, who thinks that the idea here is taken from a man struggling with another, laying hold on his garment, and casting him into the mire, renders these two verses, With great force he layeth hold on my garment, and infolds me by the collar of my robe: He hath cast me into the mire, &c.


Verse 20-21

Job 30:20-21. Thou dost not hear me — Namely, so as to answer or help me. I stand up — Namely, before thee: I pray importunately and continually, as thou requirest; and thou regardest me not — Notwithstanding all my griefs and cries, thou dost not pity and help me, but rather seemest to take pleasure in beholding my calamities, as the following words imply; Thou art become cruel to me — Hebrew, תהפךְ, tehapheck, Thou art turned to be cruel, as if thou hadst changed thy very nature; which is kind, merciful, and gracious; and such thou hast formerly been in thy carriage to me; but now thou art grown severe, rigorous, and inexorable. Thou opposest thyself against me — Thy power, wherewith I expected that thou wouldest have supported me under my troubles, thou usest against me.


Verse 22-23

Job 30:22-23. Thou liftest me up to the wind — Thou exposest me to all sorts of storms and calamities, so that I am like chaff or stubble lifted up to the wind, and violently tossed hither and thither in the air. And dissolvest my substance — By which my body is almost consumed, and my heart is melted within me. I know that thou wilt bring me to death — Rather, I verily know, or am persuaded, that by these lingering and painful disorders thou art gradually bringing me to death; the house appointed for all living The grave, to which all living men are hastening. The grave is a narrow, dark, cold house, but there we shall rest and be safe. It is our home, for it is our mother’s lap, and in it we are gathered to our fathers. It is a house appointed for us by him that has appointed the bounds of all our habitations. And it is appointed for all living. It is the common receptacle for rich and poor; we must all be brought thither, and that shortly.


Verse 24

Job 30:24. He will not stretch out his hand to the grave — This verse is judged by commentators to be very obscure. The sense of it probably is, Notwithstanding I earnestly wished for the grave as a place of rest, thou wilt not indulge me so far as to stretch out thy hand and give me my death- wound: or, thy hand (that is, the hand of God’s wrath) will not follow me beyond death and the grave: I shall then be safe and easy. Though they cry in his destruction — In the destruction brought on them by death; that is, though most men cry out and are affrighted while they are dying, while the body is sinking into destruction, yet I desire it; I have nothing to fear therein, since I know that my Redeemer liveth.


Verse 25-26

Job 30:25-26. Did not I weep for him that was in trouble — Have I now judgment without mercy, because I afforded no mercy or pity to others in misery? No; my conscience acquits me from this inhumanity: I did mourn over others in their misery. Was not my soul grieved for the poor? — The negative particle not, which is not in the Hebrew, seems to be here improperly supplied. The sense will be stronger and more emphatical to understand the second part of the verse as containing an answer to the first, and to render it, My soul was grieved for the poor; that is, I not only wept, but my very soul was grieved for them; yea, even for those who were so necessitous as to be incapable of requiting my kindness in case of their recovery from affliction. When I looked for good, then evil came — Yet trouble came upon myself when I expected it not.


Verse 27-28

Job 30:27-28. My bowels boiled — Namely, with the violence of my disorder; and rested not — Hebrew, ולא דמו, velo damu, and were not silent. The days of affliction prevented me — Came upon me suddenly and unexpectedly, when I promised myself peace and prosperity. I went mourning without the sun — Hebrew, קדר הלכתי, koder hillacti, I walked black, not by the sun. My very countenance became black, but not by the sun, which makes many other persons black, but by the force of my disease. I stood up, I cried in the congregation — I was not able to lie still, nor to refrain from cries in the greatest assemblies.


Verse 29

Job 30:29. I am a brother — By imitation of their cries; to dragons — Which howl and wail mournfully in the deserts, (Micah 1:8,) either through hunger and thirst, or when they fight with, and are beaten by, the elephant. Persons of like qualities are often called brethren. And a companion to owls — Whose doleful noises are well known: or, ostriches, as Dr. Waterland renders the word; the females of which are also remarkable for their mournful cry, and which have their habitation in desolate places.


Verse 30-31

Job 30:30-31. My skin is black upon me, &c. — “The boiling heat of my body hath so parched me that my skin looks black, and the marrow in my bones, and all my vital moisture, are dried up.” My harp also is turned to mourning — “To say no more, all mirth is banished my house: the musical instruments are laid aside, and nothing but mourning and weeping come in their room.” — Bishop Patrick. All my joy is gone, my condition entirely changed, and I have nothing now but wo and misery.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 30:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-30.html. 1857.

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