Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Lo, mine eye hath seen all this, mine ear hath heard and understood it.
Job 13:1-28. Job's Reply to Zophar Continued.
1. all this—as to the dealings of Providence (Job 12:3).
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.
3. Job wishes to plead his cause before God (Job 9:34, 35), as he is more and more convinced of the valueless character of his would-be "physicians" (Job 16:2).
But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value.
4. forgers of lies—literally, "artful twisters of vain speeches" [Umbreit].
O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom.
5. (Pr 17:28). The Arabs say, "The wise are dumb; silence is wisdom."
Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips.
Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him?
7. deceitfully—use fallacies to vindicate God in His dealings; as if the end justified the means. Their "deceitfulness" for God, against Job, was that they asserted he was a sinner, because he was a sufferer.
Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God?
8. accept his person—God's; that is, be partial for Him, as when a judge favors one party in a trial, because of personal considerations.
contend for God—namely, with fallacies and prepossessions against Job before judgment (Jud 6:31). Partiality can never please the impartial God, nor the goodness of the cause excuse the unfairness of the arguments.
Is it good that he should search you out? or as one man mocketh another, do ye so mock him?
9. Will the issue to you be good, when He searches out you and your arguments? Will you be regarded by Him as pure and disinterested?
mock—(Ga 6:7). Rather, "Can you deceive Him as one man?" &c.
He will surely reprove you, if ye do secretly accept persons.
10. If ye do, though secretly, act partially. (See on Job 13:8; Ps 82:1, 2). God can successfully vindicate His acts, and needs no fallacious argument of man.
Shall not his excellency make you afraid? and his dread fall upon you?
11. make you afraid?—namely, of employing sophisms in His name (Jer 10:7, 10).
Your remembrances are like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay.
12. remembrances—"proverbial maxims," so called because well remembered.
like unto ashes—or, "parables of ashes"; the image of lightness and nothingness (Isa 44:20).
bodies—rather, "entrenchments"; those of clay, as opposed to those of stone, are easy to be destroyed; so the proverbs, behind which they entrench themselves, will not shelter them when God shall appear to reprove them for their injustice to Job.
Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak, and let come on me what will.
13. Job would wish to be spared their speeches, so as to speak out all his mind as to his wretchedness (Job 13:14), happen what will.
Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in mine hand?
14. A proverb for, "Why should I anxiously desire to save my life?" [Eichorn]. The image in the first clause is that of a wild beast, which in order to preserve his prey, carries it in his teeth. That in the second refers to men who hold in the hand what they want to keep secure.
Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
15. in him—So the margin or keri, reads. But the textual reading or chetib is "not," which agrees best with the context, and other passages wherein he says he has no hope (Job 6:11; 7:21; 10:20; 19:10). "Though He slay me, and I dare no more hope, yet I will maintain," &c., that is, "I desire to vindicate myself before Him," as not a hypocrite [Umbreit and Noyes].
He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.
16. He—rather, "This also already speaks in my behalf (literally, 'for my saving acquittal') for an hypocrite would not wish to come before Him" (as I do) [Umbreit]. (See last clause of Job 13:15).
Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with your ears.
17. my declaration—namely, that I wish to be permitted to justify myself immediately before God.
with your ears—that is, attentively.
Behold now, I have ordered my cause; I know that I shall be justified.
18. ordered—implying a constant preparation for defense in his confidence of innocence.
Who is he that will plead with me? for now, if I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost.
19. if, &c.—Rather, "Then would I hold my tongue and give up the ghost"; that is, if any one can contend with me and prove me false, I have no more to say. "I will be silent and die." Like our "I would stake my life on it" [Umbreit].
Only do not two things unto me: then will I not hide myself from thee.
20. Address to God.
not hide—stand forth boldly to maintain my cause.
Withdraw thine hand far from me: and let not thy dread make me afraid.
21. (See on Job 9:34 and see Ps 39:10).
Then call thou, and I will answer: or let me speak, and answer thou me.
22. call—a challenge to the defendant to answer to the charges.
answer—the defense begun.
answer—to the plea of the plaintiff. Expressions from a trial.
How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.
23. The catalogue of my sins ought to be great, to judge from the severity with which God ever anew crushes one already bowed down. Would that He would reckon them up! He then would see how much my calamities outnumber them.
sin?—singular, "I am unconscious of a single particular sin, much less many" [Umbreit].
Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy?
24. hidest … face—a figure from the gloomy impression caused by the sudden clouding over of the sun.
enemy—God treated Job as an enemy who must be robbed of power by ceaseless sufferings (Job 7:17, 21).
Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?
25. (Le 26:36; Ps 1:4). Job compares himself to a leaf already fallen, which the storm still chases hither and thither.
break—literally, "shake with (Thy) terrors." Jesus Christ does not "break the bruised reed" (Isa 42:3, 27:8).
For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth.
26. writest—a judicial phrase, to note down the determined punishment. The sentence of the condemned used to be written down (Isa 10:1; Jer 22:30; Ps 149:9) [Umbreit].
bitter things—bitter punishments.
makest me to possess—or "inherit." In old age he receives possession of the inheritance of sin thoughtlessly acquired in youth. "To inherit sins" is to inherit the punishments inseparably connected with them in Hebrew ideas (Ps 25:7).
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.
27. stocks—in which the prisoner's feet were made fast until the time of execution (Jer 20:2).
lookest narrowly—as an overseer would watch a prisoner.
print—Either the stocks, or his disease, marked his soles (Hebrew, "roots") as the bastinado would. Better, thou drawest (or diggest) [Gesenius] a line (or trench) [Gesenius] round my soles, beyond which I must not move [Umbreit].
And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth, as a garment that is moth eaten.
28. Job speaks of himself in the third person, thus forming the transition to the general lot of man (Job 14:1; Ps 39:11; Ho 5:12).