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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Job 10

 

 

Verse 1

Third division, chap. 10. First section: Exordium, Job 10:1, and double strophe — GOD’S TREATMENT OF MEN IS A REFLECTION UPON THE DIVINE NATURE, AND INVOLVES IT IN SELF-CONTRADICTION, Job 10:2-12.

Job 10:1 expresses itself “in three convulsive sobs, like the sparse, large drops before the storm, excusing and introducing the pathetic wail of a crushed heart.” — Davidson.

1. Upon myself — Rather, with myself. He will give free course to his complaint.

a. Oppressive and precipitate dealing with his creatures is not becoming their Creator, who is himself not subject to human infirmities, such as limited knowledge and shortness of life, Job 10:2-7.


Verse 2

2. Do not condemn me — In the preceding chapter (Job 10:20) Job had charged Deity with a disposition to assume that he was guilty, and to condemn him unheard. He now prays God — fasten not guilt upon me.


Verse 3

3. Is it good השׂוב : Is it becoming thee? — Thus Dillmann and others. The first reason why God should not treat men as he does — for instance, in the threefold way disclosed in this verse: 1. Oppression in general; 2. The oppression of the just, “the work of his hands;” 3. The showing of favour to the wicked — is, that such a course does not comport with the nature of God.


Verse 4

4. Eyes of flesh — A second reason is, that God is not limited by human faculties. He sees not through the external sense but by intuition. He has not to reason, as man does, from what appears. His sight is thwarted by no dimming veil of sense, but He at once comprehends the heart.


Verse 5

5. As man’s days — The third reason Job gives is, that God’s years are not limited like the days of men. There is, therefore, no danger that man should outlive Deity, and thus escape his just deserts. Consequently hurried judgment is unworthy an eternal God.


Verse 6

6. Thou inquirest — The idea of Ewald, that Job conceives of God as some mighty monarch who, like those on earth, puts the unhappy one to the rack that he may constrain a confession, is not justified by the text. The real idea is not so high-coloured. Job means, if there be insufficient time to leave sin to its own development, then God is right in making such hasty inquisition after man’s iniquity; otherwise there is no need of seeking occasion against him and slaying him before his time.


Verse 7

7. Thou knowest — Literally, upon (that is, notwithstanding) thy knowledge. Read, although thou knowest.

I am not wicked — Job had before confessed himself a sinner. He must mean here, either some specific heinous sin, or the more gross overt life, such as marks those technically called the wicked.


Verse 8

b. Such hostile procedure of God toward Job is in contradiction to the blended love and wisdom displayed in the creation of man, seeing that God ruthlessly destroys what he has lovingly and artistically formed, Job 10:8-12.

8. Made me עצב, hatsab, primary sense, cut or carve. Hence to elaborate with toil or care. The psalmist (Psalms 139:15 ) likens the work of God upon our frame to embroidery, curiously wrought. Epictetus, the Stoic, saw in the human body “the symbols of God.” — the clear marks of a divinity working most wisely and most powerfully.


Verse 9

9. As the clay — A favourite figure of the Scripture, Job 33:6; Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 45:9; Jeremiah 18:6; Romans 9:20-21. The idea of destroying him naturally calls to the mind of Job the case of a potter, who, after skilfully elaborating some work of beauty, prizes it too highly to dash it wantonly to the earth. The mystery of death evidently presses upon his mind. God has made him out of clay — a masterpiece of skill, wisdom, and power — why should he bring him into dust again? Job recalls the sentence against Adam, and uses substantially the same words — “Unto dust shall thou return.” Genesis 3:19.


Verse 10

10. (Compare Psalms 139:15. Koran, Sura 86:5.) In the organization of the body from its rude primordia, the liquid elements assume a more solid consistency, like milk curdling into cheese. (Fausset.) “The development of the embryo was regarded by the Israelitish Hhokmah as one of the greatest mysteries.” — Delitzsch. See Ecclesiastes 11:5; 2 Maccabees 7:22.


Verse 11

11. Fenced me Interwoven me. Just as we speak of muscular tissues, or the texture (texere, to weave) of a physical organ. The Scriptures ascribe the origin of each individual to the creative work of God, as much so as the existence of Adam. “The order of creative growth is here from soft to hard,” says Grotius. “The Jews hold that a contrary order is to be observed in the resurrection.”


Verse 12

12. Granted me life — Science knows as little about the origin of life as about its nature. Job calls it God’s gift. Atheistic philosophy conceives itself competent to dispense with the Infinite Fount of being, but stumbles at the very threshold of ordinary existence. Herbert Spencer accounts for organisms on the ground that “they are highly differentiated portions of the matter forming the earth’s crust and its gaseous envelope,” which is quite equivalent to accounting for the greenness of vegetation by its viridity. Cited in BEALE, Life Theories.

Thy visitation Providence, (Gesenius.)


Verse 13

Second section, double strophe — A LIFE OF MISERY, SPRINGING FROM GOD’S LEONINE HOSTILITY TO MAN, THOUGH DIVINELY PLANNED, IS LESS DESIRABLE THAN THE MISERABLE ESTATE OF THE DEAD, Job 10:13-22.

a. The relentless assaults of God on man without respect to the life he may lead, betray a hidden purpose or plan inexplicably discordant with all creative evidences of goodness, Job 10:13-17.

13. And But. A glance at the ruin and misery wrought by his loathsome disease (Job 10:15) causes Job another painful revulsion, startles him out of his pleasant revery over God’s watchful care in the past, and drags him again to the brink of despair.

With thee — That is, in thy mind. There is no reference in this verse to “the decrees” of the Almighty, as some suppose. This would not harmonize with the context. “In the present ill treatment of his creature Job believes that he sees the secret plan of God formed at his creation, which he now unfolds to him in detail.” — Hirtzel and Dillman. He who conceived a plan of cosmical creation, and gradually developed it during vast periods of time; who stamped upon the brute creation a prototype pointing forward to man, who in his physical make is the culmination of all vertebrates; who constructed the tabernacle according to a pattern first “showed to Moses in the mount,” (Hebrews 8:5,) — has launched no human being into existence without a plan for his life; and all the discipline of life is intended to develop and perfect this divine design. That plan may be thwarted or sadly distorted by the actions of the free agent, as the blossom or unripened fruit may be cast to the ground by the untimely blast, but the propose stands no less true.


Verse 14

14. If I (should) sin — The purpose Job thinks he has discovered, the Almighty carries into execution, whatever may be man’s moral character. He supposes four conditions of life: first, that of the ordinary sinner, (Job 10:14;) second, that of the gross and willful transgressor, (15 a;) third, that of the righteous, such as Job claimed to be, (15 b;) fourth, that of those consciously proud of guiltlessness, (Pharisaical righteousness,) as seems implied in “the head lift itself up.” Job 10:16. The two suppositions of irreligious life are offset to the two of religious life, and make what Ewald truly calls “a horrible tetralemma” — a cruel fourfold net.


Verse 15

15. I am full of confusion, etc. — It may also be rendered, being filled with shame and the sight of my misery.


Verse 16

16. For it increaseth, etc. — And (if) it (the head) lift itself up, thou huntest me like the lion, (shahhal,) see note, Job 4:10. This image is of frequent occurrence. (Isaiah 31:4; Isaiah 38:13; Hosea 5:14; Hosea 13:7.) “Good and Boothroyd seem rightly to consider that the fine passage in this and the following verse refers to the sport which lions, and, indeed, all the feline tribe, exercise over their prey before they finally devour it.” — DR. KITTO, Pict. Bible. This painful feature of instinct is relieved by the consideration that the senses of the victim are probably to a good extent paralyzed. Such was the experience of Dr. Livingstone when once in the jaws of a lion. (Travels in South Africa, p. 12.) The figure is one of unspeakable terror, but not necessitated by the text, though the Speaker’s Commentary seems to adopt it.

Marvellous upon me — “Mighty against me.” (Furst.) The crude form of the verb is the same as Isaiah 9:6, translated wonderful. God adapts his afflictions to the heart. He shows as marvellous wisdom in the various visitations he makes to the souls of men as he does in the works of creation.


Verse 17

17. Thy witnesses — The verbal form of the word in the Arabic also signifies attack, which may have led to the marginal reading, “plagues.” Job here means “afflictions,” “sorrows,” tokens of divine displeasure. Contemplated aright they are, for the good man, witnesses of heavenly love.

Changes and war — Literally, Exchanges and an army. He means the re-enforcements of an army — host succeeding host. The singular form of the word חליפות (exchanges) reappears in Job 14:14, for the relief of a sentry. As sentries are relieved in an army, so one host succeeds another against me. In Job 19:12, he compares himself to a fortress which God besieges.


Verse 18

b. Lost in the perplexities of existence, the sole favour he has to ask is a little respite (for reflection) before he descends to the land of deepest darkness, Job 10:18-22.

18. O that I had given up the ghost — Rather, I should have died. “If the flesh should murmur and cry out, as Christ even cried out and was feeble,” (says Luther, in one of his consolatory letters,) “the spirit nevertheless is ready and willing, and, with sighings that cannot be uttered, will cry, Abba, Father, is it thou? thy rod is hard, but thou still art Father; I know that of a truth.” — Delitzsch. In sad contrast with this, and in harmony with Job, is the language of Artabanus, the Persian: “Short as our time is, there is no man, whether it be here among this multitude or elsewhere, who is so happy as not to have felt the wish — I will not say once, but full many a time — that he were dead, rather than alive.” — Herodotus, 7:46.


Verse 19

19. Have… carried אובל, borne with solemn funereal pomp, same as in Job 21:32 . A word of honour strangely accorded to nascent humanity, unless it be because of its immortal life. “Here the example of Job teaches us that great and holy men fall easily and sin terribly if God, our Lord, begin a little to withdraw his hand from them.” — H. Weller.


Verse 20

20. Take comfort — Same as Job 9:27. Cease Let him cease. “Job at the end of his complaint, not venturing to speak to God, but of him, in the third person.” — Schlottmann.


Verse 21

21. Whence I shall not return

The undiscovered country, from whose bourne

No traveller returns. Hamlet, Job 3:1.


Verse 22

22. Darkness itself Ophel. Darkness particularly thick. (Furst.) The spectacle that the interior of the dark and gloomy sepulchre presented, evidently tinged Job’s views of the state of the dead. The vivid imagination of the Arab, notwithstanding the teaching of the Koran, still sees in the tomb the real, conscious home of the dead. “I have read some poems of the Arabians in which they are represented as visiting the graves of their friends like dwelling places, conversing with them, and watching the dust of their dwellings.… The dead were held so dear that one could not, must not, think of them as dead, even in the grave, and thus they were represented there as still having an animate, though shadowy, existence.” — Herder. (See further, Hebrew Poetry, 1:173.)

Without any order — “Where all is confused, like unto a chaos.” — GESENIUS, Thesaurus. The light is as darkness — It shines as thick darkness. Such darkness reigns there that their broad daylight is as dark as midnight on earth. (Hirtzel.) Thus Milton: —

Yet from those flames

No light, but rather darkness visible.

Dr. Clarke cites Sophocles: “Thou, darkness, be my light.” This “bold and tremendous” description of the underworld of the dead is not surpassed in any language, and forcibly recalls the conclusion to a similar, but vastly inferior, one by Seneca: —

Ipsaque morte pejor est mortis locus, etc.,

And death’s abode is worse than death itself.

Hercules Furens.

The description Job gives of the underworld bears some points of resemblance to that recovered from the Assyrian tablets, supposed to have been made at least twenty centuries before Christ. It appears in the account of the descent of the goddess Ishtar to the infernal regions. To “the house of the departed, the seat of the god Iskalla; to the house from within which there is no exit; to the road the course of which never returns; to the place within which they long for light; the place where dust is their nourishment, and their food mud; light is never seen, in the darkness they dwell; its chiefs, also, like birds, are clothed with wings; over the door and its bolts is scattered dust.” — GEORGE SMITH, Assyrian Discov., p. 220.

EXCURSUS IV

THE DAYSMAN.

In the judicial language of the Middle Ages, the word day was specially applied to the day appointed for hearing a cause. (Wedgwood.) Hence our English word daysman denoted the judge who presided at the day fixed, for he was the man of the day. No better word could have been selected to express the faith of our translators, that this daysman is Christ, who will judge the world on the day which God hath appointed. Acts 17:31.

The word מוכיח, mokiahh, daysman, which Furst renders “mediator,” “umpire,” is used in the Hiphil form with the idea of judging or deciding between two parties. The Septuagint version gives as the equivalent of mokiahh, μεσιτης ημων, the same term (mesites) that is employed by the apostle (Galatians 3:19-20 ; 1 Timothy 2:5, and Hebrews 8:6) for Mediator. The Septuagint also adds, “and a reprover, and one who should hear (through) in the midst of both,” διακουων αναμεσον, etc. Many manuscripts, (Dr. Clarke speaks of fifteen,) and the ancient versions, the Septuagint, Arabic, and Syriac,. read לו, lou, “would that,” in place of לא, lo, “not;” thus, “Would that there were a days-man,” etc. This passage has given rise to extreme views. On the one side is that of the Fathers: thus St. Gregory — “The holy patriarch Job, contemplating the sins of man and the wrath of God against sin, prays for a mediator who is both God and man. He beholds him from afar, and longs for a redeemer who may lay his hands on both.” St. Augustine (Psalm ciii) also writes: “Job desired to see Christ; he desired a mediator. What is a mediator? One who stands in the midst in order to adjust a cause. Were we not the enemies of God, and had we not a bad cause toward God? Who could put an end to that bad cause but He (medius arbiter) concerning whom the apostle says,” etc., 1 Timothy 2:5 . At the other extreme is the view of the Rationalists, thus expressed by Dr. Noyes: “An arbiter who may have authority to control either of us who shall exceed the limits of propriety in the controversy, and also oblige us to stand to his decision.” Job had been but just before (Job 10:31) treating of moral defilement that had stained the soul beyond all human power of removal. Such was this defilement that even after man’s utmost cleansing of himself, his own unclean garments would abhor contact with so filthy a being. Though there be the intervention of a verse, (32,) yet such a degrading transition as would be implied in the rationalistic interpretation of this verse is unworthy of Job. It means a descent from the profoundest and most momentous question that can conceivably engage the mind of man, to the platitude of a super-divine umpire, (pedagogue,) whose duty it should be to hold in restraint two quarrelsome disputants, God and man. Its absurdity is stamped upon its face.

Nor are we inclined with the Fathers to attribute to Job too great a knowledge of divine truth. His moral needs unquestionably led him to think of and desire superhuman help — the intervention of some being who should assist in the adjudication of the cause at issue between man and God. He sighed for some one to stand between, and not as the Rationalists say, above, both. With Job the real knowledge of a mediator was more of the heart than of the head — more a feeling than a mental conception. The heart’s wants belong to the race, and to every age; clear perception of truth to but few. In the fulness of time, meridian knowledge of a mediator should come with the mediator himself. “Job, out of his religious entanglement, proclaimed the necessity of a mediator to humanize God two thousand years before he came.” — Davidson. An exceedingly ancient custom of the Arabs certainly favours the evangelical view. “The Arabs,” says Herodotus, (iii, 8,) “plight faith with the forms following. When two men would swear a friendship, they stand on each side of a third; he, with a sharp stone, makes a cut on the inside of the hand of each, near the middle finger, and taking a piece from their dress, dips it in the blood of each, and moistens therewith seven stones lying in the midst, calling the while on Bacchus and Urania. After this the man who makes the pledge commends the stranger (or the citizen, if citizen he be) to all his friends, and they deem themselves bound to stand to the engagement.” A like custom is perpetuated to the present day among the Arabs. “When any one commits an offence against another individual,” says Sir J.G. Wilkinson, (ibid.,) “he endeavors to find a mediator to intercede in his behalf, and the tent of that person becomes an asylum (like the refuge city of the Jews, Numbers 35:11) until the compact has been settled.” Some such Semitic custom of mediation Job probably had in mind. The old Accadian faith, as we now learn from Assyrian tablets, embraced an idea of divine mediation for the benefit of men. The primitive Accad (see note on Job 1:17) worshipped a God, (Silik-moulou khi,) “him who orders what is good for man,” the eldest son of Hea, through whom the will of his father, Hea, was communicated to men; “him, the command of whose mouth is propitious, the sublime judge of heaven.” The early Accadian hymns recognise the great power he had with his father, Hea, in averting evils from men. — LENORMANT, la Magie, 346, 7. See further, Speaker’s Com., vol. vi, p. 266, Excursus on Chaldee Magic.

In the presence of such light from the not far distant land of Chaldea, into contact with which our history brings us closely, (Job 1:17,) we are not to suppose an inadvertent use of words on the part of Job when he speaks of “a daysman;” but rather, that he may have possessed at least as enlightened views as those of the Chaldeans, from whose land it will be remembered Abraham had early migrated. But of Abraham, Christ says he “rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” John 8:56. This anticipatory knowledge of Christ may have been vouchsafed to him before he left Ur of the Chaldees, (Genesis 11:31,) and have been communicated by him to his Chaldaean countrymen, and preserved in tradition, which, after the lapse of so many centuries, has been marvellously brought to light. The most ancient false religions were burdened with the momentous problem of Job — How shall the evil of sin be compounded, and man made pure? On a point of so much interest we adduce a few illustrations: “What shall I do,” cried Zoroaster, “O Ormazd, steeped in brightness, in order to battle with Daroodj-Ahriman, father of the evil law, how shall I make men pure and holy?” Ormazd answered and said, “Invoke, O Zoroaster, the pure law of the servants of Ormazd;… invoke my spirit, me, who am Ahura-Mazda, the purest, strongest, wisest, best of beings; me, who have the most majestic body; who, through purity, am supreme, whose soul is the excellent word, and ye, all people, invoke me as I have commanded Zoroaster.” — KLEUKER’S Avesta Vendidad Farg., 19. See HARDWICK, ibid., ii, pp. 392-395.

The later literature of the Brahman frequently intimates that deliverance is secured by a son. Of such a one the Rig Veda, (vii, 56, 24,) translated by Max Muller, early speaks: “O, Maruts, may there be to us a strong son, who is a living ruler of men, through whom we may cross the waters on our way to the happy abode; then may we come to your own house.” Buddha himself confessed his own age to be irremediably corrupt, and prophesied of a Buddha to be called Mait-reya, the loving, the merciful, who will cause justice to reign over the earth. See further, on Buddha, BUNSEN, God in History, 1:371. “For we ought,” says Plato, describing the last scenes in the life of Socrates, “with respect to these things, either to learn from others how they stand, or to discover them for one’s self; or, if both these are impossible, then, taking the best of human reasonings, and that which is most difficult to be refitted, and embarking on this as one who risks himself on a raft, so to sail through life, UNLESS one could be carried more safely, and with less risk, on a surer conveyance, or SOME DIVINE REASON (λογου θειου τινος). — Phaedo, section 78. See also Socrates, in Plato, Second Alcibiades, section 23.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 10:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-10.html. 1874-1909.

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