But Job answered and said,Job 6:1. Job answered and said — Eliphaz concluded his discourse with an air of assurance, being very confident that what he had advanced was so plain and so pertinent that nothing could be objected to it. Job, however, is not at all convinced by it, but still justifies himself in his complaints, and condemns his friend for the weakness of his arguing. Though Eliphaz, in the beginning and some other parts of his speech, was very severe upon Job, he gave him no interruption, but heard him patiently till he had delivered his whole mind. But when he had done this, and had finished all he had to say, Job modestly, but feelingly, makes his reply. He begins with an apology for venting his grief in a manner somewhat unbecoming, and begs it may be ascribed to the great multitude and sharpness of his afflictions; but as to the advice given him by Eliphaz, to hope for an amendment of his condition: and to address God for that purpose, he tells them, that his petition to God should be of a quite different nature, namely, that he would be pleased to cut him off speedily; for that the desperateness of his condition would by no means permit him to hope for any amendment. That, however, he could not help resenting their unkind suspicions of him, that they should think him capable of such great wickedness; but, above all, should imagine him to be so abandoned as to be able to entertain a thought tending to a revolt from the Almighty. He begs them not to condemn him barely on suspicion, and on the strength of general maxims, but to consider it was possible he might be innocent.
Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together!Job 6:2. O that my grief — The cause of my grief; were thoroughly weighed — Were fully understood and duly considered! O that I had an impartial judge! that would understand my case, and see whether I have not just cause for such bitter complaints. And my calamity laid in the balances — Would to God some more equal person than you would lay my complaint and my sufferings one against the other, and judge sincerely which is heaviest!
For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up.Job 6:3. For now it — That is, my grief or calamity; would be heavier than the sand of the sea — Which is much heavier than dry sand. Therefore my words are swallowed up — My voice and spirit fail me. I cannot find or utter words sufficient to express my sorrow or misery.
For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.Job 6:4. The arrows of the Almighty are within me, &c. — The sublimity of style, and beautiful vein of poetry, which run through this verse, are well deserving of the reader’s particular attention. He fitly terms his afflictions arrows, because, like arrows, they came upon him swiftly and suddenly, one after another, and that from on high, and wounded him deeply. And he calls them arrows of the Almighty, not only, generally speaking, because all afflictions come from him, but particularly, because God’s hand was in a singular manner visible and eminent in his sufferings, and especially because they were immediately shot by God into his spirit, so that they were within him, as it follows, not like the external evils mentioned chap. 1., which were passed, but fixed and constant in his very nature, producing sharp pains in his body, and dismal horrors in his mind. The poison whereof drinketh up my spirit — Or, as the Hebrew may be rendered, The poison whereof my spirit drinketh up: which is the construction of Pagninus and the Targum. But our translation is more poetical, and quite agreeable to Moses’s sublime expression, Deuteronomy 32:42, where he represents God as taking vengeance on his enemies, and saying, I will make mine arrows drunk with blood. The words imply, that these arrows were more keen and pernicious than ordinary, being dipped in God’s wrath, as the barbarous nations used to dip their arrows in poison, that they might not only pierce, but burn up and consume the vital parts. Thus did the poison of God’s arrows drink up his spirit, that is, exhaust and consume his life and soul. The terrors of God do set themselves in array — They are like a numerous army invading me on every side. Houbigant renders it, The terrors of the Lord confound me. This was the sorest part of his calamity, wherein he was an eminent type of Christ, who complained most of the sufferings of his soul. Indeed, trouble of mind is the sorest trouble. A wounded spirit, who can bear? “He had patience enough,” says Lord Clarendon, “for the oppression and rapine of his enemies, for the unkindness and reproach of his friends, and for the cunning and malice of the devil; but he was so transported with the sense of God’s anger against him, he could not bear that with temper: the apprehension that all those miseries, of so piercing and destroying a nature in themselves, fell upon him, not only by God’s permission, to try and humble him, but proceeded directly from his indignation and resolution to destroy him, almost confounded him. When they appeared no more the arrows of his enemies levelled and shot at his greatness and prosperity, the enterprises and designs of evil men, suborned by the devil against him; but the artillery which God himself discharged upon him in his greatest displeasure and fury, he was able to stand the shock no longer, and thought he had some reason to pour out his complaints and lamentations with a little more earnestness; and that the grief and trouble of his mind might excuse the want of that order, and method, and deliberation, which the ease, and calm condition, and disputing humour of his friends, who were only healthy spectators of what he suffered, reproachfully required from him.”
Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or loweth the ox over his fodder?Job 6:5. Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? &c. — “Grass and fodder here are a figure of abundance and tranquillity, such as the friends of Job enjoyed. To bray and low refer to expressions of grief and uneasiness. Job therefore compares his friends, with some smartness, to a wild ass exulting in its food, and to an ox perfectly satisfied with grateful pasture.” His words may be paraphrased thus: Even the brute beasts, when they have convenient food, are quiet and contented. So, it is no wonder that you complain not, who live in ease and prosperity, any more than I did when I wanted nothing; “happy yourselves, you do not condole with me in my wretchedness, nor mourn with me, but rather blame my mourning as importunate clamour, and as if I had behaved myself toward God with insolence and impatience.” — Schultens.
Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg?Job 6:6. Can that which is unsavoury — Or rather, that which is insipid, be eaten without salt? — Is it not requisite that every thing insipid should be seasoned, to give it a relish, and make it agreeable? Therefore life itself, when it has lost those comforts, which are the seasoning to it, and give it its relish, then becomes insipid, so that it is nothing more than a burden. Now, if men commonly complain of their meat when it is only unsavoury, how much more when it is so bitter as mine is? Some commentators, however, consider Job here as referring to Eliphaz’s discourse, which had been insipid and disagreeable to him, as having no substance, and carrying no weight with it: like unsavoury food, not seasoned nor cured, instead of satisfying and instructing him, it had been nauseous and offensive, like corrupted meat to a weak and sick stomach. Or is there any taste in the white of an egg? — “Our version of this clause,” says Dr. Dodd, “seems to be void of all sense and connection with what goes before. Mr. Mudge supposes Job to allude, in the original words, to those medicinal potions, which were administered by way of alterative; and, agreeably to his criticism, the clause should be rendered, Is there any relish in the nauseous medicinal draught?”
The things that my soul refused to touch are as my sorrowful meat.Job 6:7. The things that my soul refused, &c. — “Job, persisting in his allegory,” says Schultens, “goes on to show how disagreeable to his stomach the speech of Eliphaz had been.” This learned critic accordingly translates the verse thus: My soul refuseth to touch such things; they are to me as corrupted food. But Dr. Dodd, after quoting these words of Schultens, observes, he “cannot help thinking that this and the two preceding verses will bear another interpretation, and that Job means, in them, to offer a justification for himself; to declare that he had sufficient ground for complaint, without which it was no more usual for man to lament than for the ox or ass to low or bray, when they had sufficient food, &c.” The sense of the verse seems to be, Those grievous afflictions, which I dreaded the very thought of, are now my daily, though sorrowful, bread.
Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!Job 6:8-9. O that I might have my request! — The thing which I so passionately desired, and which, notwithstanding all your vain words, and weak arguments, I still continue to desire, and beseech God to grant me. The thing that I long for! — Hebrew, תקותי, tickvati, my hope or expectation. That it would please God to destroy me — To end my days and calamities together: that he would let loose his hand — Which is now, as it were, bound up or restrained from giving me that deadly blow which I desire. O that he would not restrain it any longer, and suffer me to languish in this miserable condition, but give me one stroke more and quite cut me off. Mr. Peters has justly observed, that “these two verses, as well as Job 6:11, with many more that might be quoted to the same purpose, are utterly inconsistent with Job’s believing that God would restore him to his former happy state;” as Bishop Warburton contended, that he might lay a foundation for an interpretation of the noted passage in Job 19:25-27, different from that commonly received, and might explain it, not of Job’s hope of immortality, but of his expectation of a restoration to temporal prosperity.
Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off!
Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.Job 6:10. Then should I yet have comfort — The thoughts of my approaching death would comfort me in all my sorrows, and yield me abundantly more solace than life, with all that worldly safety, and glory, and happiness, for which thou hast advised me to seek unto God. Yea, I would harden myself in sorrow — I would bear up with more courage and patience, under all my torments, with the hopes of death and blessedness after death. Let him not spare — Let him use all severity against me, so far as to cut me off, and not suffer me to live any longer. For I have not concealed the words of the Holy One — That is, of God, who is frequently called the Holy One in Scripture, and is so in a most eminent and peculiar sense. The meaning is, As I have myself steadfastly believed the words, or truths of God, and not wilfully and wickedly departed from them; so I have endeavoured to teach and recommend them to others, and have not been ashamed nor afraid boldly to confess and preach the true religion in the midst of the heathen round about me. And, therefore, I know, if God do cut me off, it will be in mercy, and I shall be a gainer by it.
What is my strength, that I should hope? and what is mine end, that I should prolong my life?Job 6:11. What is my strength that I should hope? — My strength is so small and spent, that although I may linger a while in my torments, yet I cannot live long, and therefore it is vain for me to hope for such a restitution as thou hast promised me, Job 5:22. And what is my end? — What is the end of my life? Or, what is death to me? It is not terrible, but comfortable. That I should prolong my life? — That I should desire or endeavour to prolong it, by seeking unto God for that purpose. But, as desirous of death as Job was, yet he never offered to put an end to his own life. Such a thought will never be entertained by any that have the least regard to the law of God and nature. How uneasy soever the soul’s confinement in the body may be, it must by no means break the prison, but wait for a fair discharge.
Is my strength the strength of stones? or is my flesh of brass?Job 6:12. Is my strength the strength of stones? — I am not made of stone or brass, but of flesh and blood, as others are; therefore I am not able to endure these miseries longer, and can neither desire nor hope for the continuance of my life. Bishop Patrick’s paraphrase on this verse is, “God hath not made me insensible; and therefore do not wonder that I desire to be released from these very sharp pains.”
Is not my help in me? and is wisdom driven quite from me?Job 6:13. Is not my help in me? — Though I have no strength in my body, or outward man, yet I have some help and support within me, or in my inward man, even a consciousness of my sincerity toward God, notwithstanding all your bitter accusations and censures, as if I were a hypocrite and had no integrity in me, chap. Job 4:6. And is wisdom driven quite from me? — If I have no strength in my body, have I therefore no wisdom or judgment left in my soul? Am I therefore unable to judge of the vanity of thy discourse, and of the truth of my own case? Have I not common sense and discretion? Do not I know my own condition, and the nature and degree of my sufferings, better than thou dost? And am I not a better judge whether I have integrity or not than thou art? It may not be improper to observe here, that there is considerable difficulty in determining the precise sense of the Hebrew of this verse; and that, accordingly, different learned men have proposed different translations of it. Houbigant renders it, Because my help is not at hand, is wisdom, therefore departed far from me? Dr. Waterland reads it, Is my help in me vain, and the substance quite gone from me? And Heath, Do not I find that I cannot in the least help myself, and that strength is quite driven out of me? In justification of our translation, and of the interpretation given above, it may be sufficient to observe, that the same form of expression in the Hebrew is used Isaiah 50:2, האם אין בי כח, haim en bi choach, and is translated, and according to the context must necessarily be translated, in a similar manner. An vero, nulla (est) in me potestas? Is there no power in me? (saith the Lord.) or, Have I no power to deliver? If, however, a different translation of the words be contended for, perhaps that mentioned by Poole, which is perfectly agreeable to the Hebrew, and admits of an easy explication, is preferable to any other that has been proposed; which is, What, if I have not help in me, is wisdom driven quite from me? That is, if I cannot help myself, if my outward condition be helpless and hopeless, as I confess it is, have I therefore lost my understanding? Cannot I judge whether it is more desirable for me to live or to die; whether I am sincere in my religion or not; whether your words have truth and weight in them; and whether you take the right method of dealing with me?
To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.Job 6:14. To him that is afflicted — Hebrew, To him that is melted, or dissolved with afflictions: or, as Dr. Waterland renders it, To one that is wasting away; pity should be showed from his friend — His friend, such as thou, O Eliphaz, pretendest to be to me, should show kindness and compassion in his judgment of him, and behaviour toward him, and not pass such unmerciful censures upon him as thou hast passed upon me, nor load him with reproaches; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty — Thou hast no love or pity for thy friend; a plain evidence that thou art guilty of what thou didst charge me with, even of the want of the fear of God. The least which those that are at ease can do for them that are pained, is to pity them, to feel a tender concern for them, and to sympathize with them.
My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as the stream of brooks they pass away;Job 6:15. My brethren — That is, my kinsmen, or three friends; for though Eliphaz only had spoken, the other two had shown their approbation of his discourse; have dealt deceitfully — Under a pretence of friendship dealing unmercifully with me, and adding to the afflictions which they said they came to remove. As the stream of brooks, &c. — Which quickly vanish and deceive the hopes of the thirsty traveller. It is no new thing for even brethren to deal deceitfully. It is therefore our wisdom to cease from man. We cannot expect too little from the creature, or too much from the Creator.
Which are blackish by reason of the ice, and wherein the snow is hid:Job 6:16. Which are blackish, &c. — Which in winter, when the traveller neither needs nor desires it, are full of water congealed by the frost. Wherein the snow is hid — Under which the water from snow, which formerly fell, and afterward was dissolved, lies hid. So he speaks not of those brooks which are fed by a constant spring, but of them which are filled by accidental falls of water or snow.
What time they wax warm, they vanish: when it is hot, they are consumed out of their place.Job 6:17-18. What time they wax warm — When the weather grows milder, and the frost and snow are dissolved; they vanish — נצמתו, nitsmathu, ex cisi sunt, they are cut off, having no fountain from whence to draw a supply. When it is hot — In the hot season, when waters are most refreshing and necessary; they are consumed out of their place — The place where the traveller expected to find them to his comfort; but they are gone he knows not whither. The paths of their way are turned aside — That is, the courses of those waters are changed; they are gone out of their channel, flowing hither and thither, till they be quite consumed, as it here follows. There “is a noble climax,” as Heath observes, in these last three verses; “a most poetical description of the torrents in the hot climates. By extraordinary cold they are frozen over, but the sun no sooner exerts its power than they melt; they are exhaled by the heat, till the stream for smallness is diverted into many channels; it yet lasts a little way, but is soon quite evaporated and lost.”
The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing, and perish.
The troops of Tema looked, the companies of Sheba waited for them.Job 6:19. The troops of Tema looked — This place and Sheba were both parts of the hot and dry country of Arabia; in which waters were very scarce, and therefore precious and desirable, especially to travellers. The word ארחות, orchoth, signifies companies of travellers or merchants, such as that mentioned Genesis 37:25, A company of the Ishmaelites came from Gilead, with their camels, &c., or those spoken of Isaiah 21:13-14, In the forest of Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies. The inhabitants of Tema brought water, &c. The Hebrew word, however, properly means ways, or roads; but is here put for travellers in the ways, by a common metonymy. The companies of Sheba waited for them — The Scenitæ, who lived in tents, may here be included, as well as the troops before mentioned, for they removed with their cattle from one place to another for the convenience of pasture and water. It must be observed, men did not there travel singly as we do, but in companies, for their security against wild beasts and robbers. “By a very slight alteration in the pointing, Mr. Heath so translates this verse as to introduce the speaker using a prosopopœia, or addressing himself to the travellers: Look for them, ye troops of Tema, ye travellers of Sheba, expect them earnestly. This gives great life to the poetry, and sets a very beautiful image before the eye: the travellers wasting their time, depending on those torrents for water; but, when they come hither, how great the disappointment!” — Dodd.
They were confounded because they had hoped; they came thither, and were ashamed.Job 6:20. They were confounded — That is, the troops and companies were miserably disappointed; because they hoped — Comforted themselves with the expectation of water there to quench their thirst; they came, and were ashamed — To think that they should expect relief from such uncertain streams, and had deceived themselves and others. Thus we prepare confusion for ourselves by our vain hopes: the reeds break under us because we lean upon them.
For now ye are nothing; ye see my casting down, and are afraid.Job 6:21. For now ye are nothing, &c. — Just such are you, who, seeing my calamity, afford me no comfort, and seem afraid lest I should want something of you. Thus Job very properly applies the preceding most beautiful description of the torrents in the hot climates, to his three friends who thus disappointed his expectations. Indeed, it is a very fine image of pretended friends in adversity. When their help is most wanted and coveted, they are too apt to fail the expectations of those that trusted in them. They may properly enough be said to be either frozen or melted away by adversity. All their warm professions are congealed, as it were, when adverse circumstances have laid hold on their friends, and their friendship is quite dissolved and melted away. Ye see my casting down, and are afraid — You are shy of me, and afraid for yourselves, lest some further plague should come upon me, wherein you, for my sake, should be involved; or, lest I should be burdensome to you. Therefore you are to me as if you had never come; you are nothing to me, for I have no help or comfort from you.
Did I say, Bring unto me? or, Give a reward for me of your substance?Job 6:22-23. Did I say — Or, is it because I said; Bring unto me? — Give me something for my support or relief? Is this, or what else is the reason why you are afraid of me, or alienated from me? Did either my former covetousness, or my present necessity, make me troublesome or chargeable to you? or, Give a reward for me of your substance — Or, Give a gift for my use or need? Did I send for you to come and visit me for this end? Nay, did you not come of your own accord? Why then are you so unmerciful to me? You might at least have given me comfortable words, when I expected nothing else from you. Or, Deliver me from the enemy’s hand? — By power and the force of your arms, as Abraham delivered Lot; or, Redeem me from the hand of the mighty? — Namely, by price or ransom.
Or, Deliver me from the enemy's hand? or, Redeem me from the hand of the mighty?
Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.Job 6:24-25. Teach me — Instead of censuring and reproaching, instruct and convince me by solid arguments; and I will hold my tongue — I will patiently hear and gladly receive your counsels; and cause me to understand wherein I have erred — Show me my mistakes and miscarriages; for I am ready to receive your reproofs, and humbly to submit to them. How forcible are right words! — The words of truth and solid argument have a marvellous power to convince and persuade a man; and, if yours were such, I should readily yield to them. But what doth your arguing reprove? — There is no truth in your assertions, nor weight in your arguments, and therefore they are of no account, and have no power with me.
How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove?
Do ye imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that is desperate, which are as wind?Job 6:26. Do you imagine to reprove words? — What! is all your wisdom employed for this, to catch hold of and reprove some of my words, without making allowance for human infirmity or extreme misery? and the speeches of one that is desperate? — Of a poor, miserable, helpless, and hopeless man; which are as wind — Which you esteem to be like wind, vain and light, without solidity, giving a sound, but with little sense, and to little purpose. Heath renders it, Are they as the wind? vain and empty.
Yea, ye overwhelm the fatherless, and ye dig a pit for your friend.Job 6:27. Ye overwhelm the fatherless — Your words are not only vain, useless, and uncomfortable to me, but also grievous and pernicious. Hebrew, תפילו, tappilu, you rush, or throw yourselves upon him. You fall upon him with all your might, and say all that you can devise to charge and grieve him. You load him with censures and calumnies. The word יתום, jathom, here rendered fatherless, means a solitary person in distress, as well as an orphan; or one desolate. Job intends himself by the expression, being deprived of all his children, and of all his estate, and forsaken by his friends. And you dig a pit for your friend — You insult and triumph over me, whom once you owned for your friend. I spoke all I thought, as to my friends, and you from thence take occasion to cast me down. There is nothing in the Hebrew for the word pit: it is literally, You dig for your friend; or as Heath and Houbigant render it, make a mock of your friend.
Now therefore be content, look upon me; for it is evident unto you if I lie.Job 6:28. Now therefore be content, look upon me — Hebrew, Be willing; look upon me, or, to look upon me, the second imperative being put for the infinitive. Be pleased to consider me and my cause further and better than you have done, that you may give a more true and righteous judgment concerning it; for it is — Or rather, will be; evident — You will plainly discover it; if I lie — A little farther consideration and discourse will make it manifest if I have uttered any thing untrue or without foundation, and I shall readily acknowledge it.
Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity; yea, return again, my righteousness is in it.Job 6:29. Return, I pray, let it not be iniquity — Or, Recollect yourselves, I beseech you; call it not wickedness: yea, return again; my righteousness is in it — Or, Consider it yet again, righteousness may be in me. — Chappelow. Notwithstanding your suspicion, if you will examine more candidly and strictly, you may, perhaps, be convinced that I am not the sinner you think; but that righteousness is still in me, though I have fallen under these sore afflictions.
Is there iniquity in my tongue? cannot my taste discern perverse things?Job 6:30. Is there iniquity in my tongue? — Consider, if there be any iniquity, or untruth, in what I have already said, or shall further speak? Have I hitherto uttered any thing that is faulty? Cannot my taste discern perverse things — That is, my understanding, which judges of words and actions, as the palate doth of meats. I hope it is not so corrupted but that I can discern what is bad, though spoken by myself.