Lo, mine eye hath seen all this, mine ear hath heard and understood it.Job 13:1. Lo, mine eye hath seen all this — All this which either you or I have discoursed concerning the infinite power and wisdom of God, I know, both by seeing it, by my own observation and experience, and by hearing it from my ancestors.
What ye know, the same do I know also: I am not inferior unto you.
Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God.Job 13:3. Surely I would speak to the Almighty — I had rather debate the matter with God than with you. I am not afraid of presenting my person and cause before him, who is a witness of my integrity, and would not deal so unmercifully with me as you do.
But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value.Job 13:4-5. Ye are forgers of lies — That is, authors of false doctrine, namely, that great afflictions are peculiar to hypocrites and wicked men. All physicians of no value — Unfaithful and unskilful; prescribing bad remedies: and misapplying good ones. O that ye would altogether hold your peace — The best proof of your wisdom would be never to say a word more of these matters; for then your ignorance and folly would be concealed, which are now made manifest by your speaking concerning what you do not understand. Thus Solomon, Proverbs 17:28, “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”
O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom.
Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips.Job 13:6-8. Hear now my reasoning — Attend to it, and consider it more seriously than you have done; and hearken to the pleadings of my lips — That is, to the arguments which I shall produce. Will ye speak wickedly for God? — Will you utter falsehoods upon pretence of pleasing God, or of maintaining God’s honour or righteousness? Doth he need such defences? Will ye accept his person? — Not judging according to the right of the cause, but the quality of the person, as corrupt judges do. Will ye contend with God? — Or, will ye plead, as the word, תריבון, teribun, is rendered, Jdg 6:31. He means, is his cause so bad as to call for your assistance to defend it? Will you plead for him, as one person pleads for another, making use of little arts and subtle contrivances in his defence? He wants no such crafty, unprincipled advocates. “Job here convicts his friends of wickedness, in taking upon them to defend God in an improper manner, as if he needed their rash censures to vindicate the ways of his providence. This was such a fault, as they had but too much reason to fear might one time or other draw down his severe chastisements on their own heads.” See Peters.
Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him?
Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God?
Is it good that he should search you out? or as one man mocketh another, do ye so mock him?Job 13:9-10. Is it good that he should search you out? — Will it be to your credit and comfort, that he should narrowly examine your hearts and discourses, whether you have uttered truth or falsehood, and whether your speeches have proceeded from true zeal for the glory of God, or from your own prejudices and passions? Do ye so mock him? — By covering your uncharitableness and corrupt affections with pretences of piety, as if God could not discern your artifices; or, by pleading his cause with weak and foolish arguments, which is a kind of mockery of him, and an injury to his cause; or, by seeking to flatter him with false praises, as if he distributed the things of this world with exact justice, prospering only the good, and severely afflicting none but wicked men. He will surely reprove you — Hebrew, הוכח יוכח, hocheach, jocheach, redarguendo redarguet, in confuting, he will confute you; that is, he will surely confute, or punish you, as the word often means. “He will severely chastise you, for designing to gratify him by condemning me.” — Bishop Patrick. If ye do secretly accept persons — Though it be concealed in your own breasts, and no eye see it; yea, though your own minds and consciences, through ignorance or inadvertency, do not perceive it; yet he, who is greater than your consciences, sees and knows it.
He will surely reprove you, if ye do secretly accept persons.
Shall not his excellency make you afraid? and his dread fall upon you?Job 13:11-12. Shall not his excellency — His infinite wisdom, which sees your secret falsehood, and his justice and power, which can and will punish you for it; make you afraid? — Of speaking rashly or falsely of his ways and counsels. Your remembrances — Hebrew, זכרניכם, zichronechem, your memorials; or, as Chappelow translates it, memorabilia vestra, your remarkable things, your discourses, and arguments, and memorable actions; are like unto ashes — Contemptible and unprofitable, Hebrew, משׁלי אפר, mishle epher, are parables or speeches of dust or ashes, mouldering, as it were, and coming to nothing. All that is most excellent and memorable in you; your wealth, and dignity, and wit, and reputation, or whatsoever it is for which you expect to be remembered, it is all but poor despicable dust and ashes; for, your bodies are like to bodies of clay — Though they be not full of sores and biles as mine is, yet they are but dust, and to dust they shall return, as well as mine. The consideration of our mortality should make us afraid of offending God.
Your remembrances are like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay.
Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak, and let come on me what will.Job 13:13. Hold your peace — Do not now interrupt me in my discourse; which, peradventure, he observed by their gestures, some of them were now attempting; let me alone, that I may speak — That I may freely utter my whole mind; let come on me what will — Whatever the event may be, I am determined to speak in my own defence. My friends may put an unfavourable construction upon it, and think the worse of me for it; but I hope God will not make my necessary defence to be my offence, as they do: he will justify me, (Job 13:18,) and then nothing can come amiss to me. Those that are upright, and have the assurance of their uprightness, may cheerfully welcome every event. Come what will, they are ready for it.
Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in mine hand?Job 13:14. Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth, &c. — The sense, according to some commentators, is, Why do I torment myself? Why do I grieve so immoderately, like those persons who, in their afflictions, rend their garments, and are ready to tear their very flesh? But Bishop Patrick’s paraphrase seems to accord better with the context, namely, “I am so conscious to myself of my innocence, that I must still wonder why I suffer such enraging miseries, and am exposed to so many dangers.” Henry speaks to nearly the same purpose: “Why do I suffer such agonies? I cannot but wonder that God should lay so much upon me, when he knows I am not a wicked man. He was ready, not only to rend his clothes, but even to tear his flesh, through the greatness of his affliction; and saw himself at the brink of death, and his life in his hand; yet his friends could not charge him with any enormous crime, nor could he himself discover any; no marvel then he was in such confusion.” The phrase of having his life in his hand, denotes a condition extremely dangerous. Thus Jephthah tells the Ephraimites, I put my life in my hands and passed over against the children of Ammon, Jdg 12:3. That is, I exposed my life to the greatest danger. Thus Jonathan speaks of David: He put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, 1 Samuel 19:5. The words, says Poole, may imply “a reason of his ardent desire of liberty of speech, because he could hold his tongue no longer, but must needs tear himself to pieces, if he had not some vent for his grief.” In which sense the LXX. seem to have understood him.
Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.Job 13:15. Though he slay me — But though God should yet more and more increase my torments, so that I could bear them no longer, but should perceive myself to be at the point of death, without any hope of recovery; yet will I trust in him — Or, more exactly according to the Hebrew text, Shall I not trust in him? Shall I despair? No; I will not, I know he is a just, a faithful, and merciful God; and he knows that my heart is upright before him, and that I am no hypocrite. But I will maintain mine own ways — Though I trust in him, yet I will humbly expostulate the matter with him. Hebrew, I will argue, prove, or demonstrate my ways; that is, I will make a free and full confession of the whole course of my life, and I will boldly, though submissively, assert my own integrity, which he also, I doubt not, will acknowledge. And, what I have done amiss, I will as freely confess, and make supplication to my Judge for the pardon of it. Before him — Hebrew, אל פניו, el panaiv, before his face, in his presence, or before his tribunal, for I desire no other judge but him.
He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.Job 13:16. He also shall be my salvation — I rest assured that he will save me out of these miseries, sooner or later, one way or other, if not with a temporal, yet with an eternal salvation after death; of which he speaks Job 19:25. For a hypocrite — Or, rather, But a hypocrite shall not come before him — If I were a hypocrite, as you allege, I durst not present myself before him to plead my cause with him, as now I desire to do, nor could I hope for any salvation from or with him in heaven.
Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with your ears.Job 13:17. Hear diligently my speech — This he desired before, (Job 13:6,) and now repeats, either, because they manifested some dislike of his speech, and some desire to interrupt him; or, because he now comes more closely to the question; the foregoing verses being mostly in the way of preface to it. And my declaration — That is, the words whereby I declare my mind.
Behold now, I have ordered my cause; I know that I shall be justified.Job 13:18-19. Behold, now, I have ordered my cause — Namely, in my own mind. I have seriously considered the state of my case, what can be said, either for me or against me, and am ready to plead my cause. I know that I shall be justified — Acquitted by God of that hypocrisy and wickedness wherewith you charge me, and declared a righteous person, human infirmities excepted. Who is he that will plead with me? — Let who will come and accuse me, I am ready to answer. If I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost — My grief would break my heart, if I did not give vent to it.
Who is he that will plead with me? for now, if I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost.
Only do not two things unto me: then will I not hide myself from thee.Job 13:20-22. Let me only beg, O great Judge of all, that thou wilt forbear to make use of two things against me. Then will I not hide myself from thee — Then will I appear confidently to plead my cause before thee. Withdraw thy hand from me — Suspend my torments during the time of my pleading with thee, that my mind may be at liberty. And let not thy dread make me afraid — Do not present thyself to me in terrible majesty, neither deal with me in rigorous justice. Then call thou, and I will answer — Then choose thy own method: either do thou charge me with hypocrisy, or more than common guilt, and I will defend myself. Or let me speak, &c. — I will argue with thee concerning thy extraordinary severity toward me; and do thou show me the reasons of it. This proposal savours of self-confidence, and of irreverence toward God; for which, and the like speeches, he is reproved by God, Job 38:2-3; Job 40:2.
Withdraw thine hand far from me: and let not thy dread make me afraid.
Then call thou, and I will answer: or let me speak, and answer thou me.
How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.Job 13:23-24. How many are my sins? — That I am a sinner, I confess; but not that I am guilty of such crimes as my friends suppose; if it be so, do thou, O Lord, discover it. Wherefore hidest thou thy face? — Withdrawest thy favour and help, which thou hast been wont to afford me; and holdest me for thine enemy? — That is, dealest as sharply with me as if I were thy professed enemy.
Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy?
Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?Job 13:25. Wilt thou break a leaf? &c. — Doth it become thy infinite and excellent majesty to use thy might to crush such a poor, impotent, and frail creature as I am, that can no more resist thy power than a leaf or a little dry straw can resist the fury of the wind or fire? Thus, whatever was irreverent or unbecoming in Job’s expressions, as recorded in Job 13:22, is greatly alleviated, as Dr. Dodd has observed, from Peters, by the humility and self- abasement manifested in these last three verses. Scarcely ever were the feelings of the human heart, burdened with an extraordinary load of grief, expressed in a more natural, or less blameable way. He first wishes that God would discover to him the particular sins, if there were any, for which he thus afflicted him, intimating his readiness to deplore them, and to correct his errors for the future. Secondly, he accounts it the greatest of his calamities, that God should hide his face from him, and deal with him as an enemy; on whose friendship and favour he had always set the highest value; had endeavoured to preserve it by the integrity of his life, and was resolved never to depart from that integrity. Lastly, he confesses his own meanness, or rather nothingness, in comparison of God; and that in a manner so ingenuous and simple, as to show that his complaints, however passionate and moving, did not proceed from pride or stubbornness of spirit.
For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth.Job 13:26. For thou writest — That is, thou appointest; bitter things against me — A terrible sentence, or most grievous punishments. It is a metaphor taken from the custom of princes or judges, who anciently used to write their sentences, or decrees, concerning persons or causes brought before them. And makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth — Dost now, at once, bring upon me the punishment of all my sins, not excepting those of my youth, which were committed before I well knew what I did.
Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks, and lookest narrowly unto all my paths; thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet.Job 13:27. Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks — Thou encompassest me with thy judgments, so that I have no way or possibility to escape. And lookest narrowly unto all my paths — Makest a strict and diligent search into all the actions of my life, that thou mayest find matter for which to condemn me. Thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet — Thou followest me close at the heels, either to observe my actions, or to pursue me with thy judgments; insomuch, that thou dost often, as it were, tread upon my heels, and leave the prints of thy footsteps upon them. Bishop Patrick’s paraphrase here is, “I can no more escape than a malefactor, whose feet are in the stocks, who is encompassed with a vigilant guard, and cannot stir a foot from the place where he is.” Heath thinks there is an allusion, in these words, to the custom of putting a clog on the feet of fugitive slaves, that they might be tracked and found.
And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth, as a garment that is moth eaten.Job 13:28. And he, as a rotten thing — That is, man, as some commentators suppose, thinking that Job speaks of himself in the third person, and that the sense is, this poor frail creature, this carcass, or body of mine; consumeth — Or wasteth away, and is destroyed; as a garment eaten by moths — Others, however, interpret the words thus: He, that is, God, consumeth me (understanding the verb יבלה, jiblee, actively) as rottenness consumeth that in which it is, or, as a rotten thing is consumed, &c. Houbigant’s translation of the verse is, So that I am become like a thing consumed with rottenness; like a garment eaten up by the moth.