Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock.
1. younger—not the three friends (Job 15:10; 32:4, 6, 7). A general description: Job 30:1-8, the lowness of the persons who derided him; Job 30:9-15, the derision itself. Formerly old men rose to me (Job 29:8). Now not only my juniors, who are bound to reverence me (Le 19:32), but even the mean and base-born actually deride me; opposed to, "smiled upon" (Job 29:24). This goes farther than even the "mockery" of Job by relations and friends (Job 12:4; 16:10, 20; 17:2, 6; 19:22). Orientals feel keenly any indignity shown by the young. Job speaks as a rich Arabian emir, proud of his descent.
dogs—regarded with disgust in the East as unclean (1Sa 17:43; Pr 26:11). They are not allowed to enter a house, but run about wild in the open air, living on offal and chance morsels (Ps 59:14, 15). Here again we are reminded of Jesus Christ (Ps 22:16). "Their fathers, my coevals, were so mean and famished that I would not have associated them with (not to say, set them over) my dogs in guarding my flock."
Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, in whom old age was perished?
2. If their fathers could be of no profit to me, much less the sons, who are feebler than their sires; and in whose case the hope of attaining old age is utterly gone, so puny are they (Job 5:26) [Maurer]. Even if they had "strength of hands," that could be now of no use to me, as all I want in my present affliction is sympathy.
For want and famine they were solitary; fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and waste.
3. solitary—literally, "hard as a rock"; so translate, rather, "dried up," emaciated with hunger. Job describes the rudest race of Bedouins of the desert [Umbreit].
fleeing—So the Septuagint. Better, as Syriac, Arabic, and Vulgate, "gnawers of the wilderness." What they gnaw follows in Job 30:4.
in former time—literally, the "yesternight of desolation and waste" (the most utter desolation; Eze 6:14); that is, those deserts frightful as night to man, and even there from time immemorial. I think both ideas are in the words darkness [Gesenius] and antiquity [Umbreit]. (Isa 30:33, Margin).
Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for their meat.
4. mallows—rather, "salt-wort," which grows in deserts and is eaten as a salad by the poor [Maurer].
by the bushes—among the bushes.
juniper—rather, a kind of broom, Spartium junceum [Linnæus], still called in Arabia, as in the Hebrew of Job, retem, of which the bitter roots are eaten by the poor.
They were driven forth from among men, (they cried after them as after a thief;)
5. they cried—that is, "a cry is raised." Expressing the contempt felt for this race by civilized and well-born Arabs. When these wild vagabonds make an incursion on villages, they are driven away, as thieves would be.
To dwell in the clifts of the valleys, in caves of the earth, and in the rocks.
6. They are forced "to dwell."
cliffs of the valleys—rather, "in the gloomy valleys"; literally, "in the gloom of the valleys," or wadies. To dwell in valleys is, in the East, a mark of wretchedness. The troglodytes, in parts of Arabia, lived in such dwellings as caves.
Among the bushes they brayed; under the nettles they were gathered together.
7. brayed—like the wild ass (Job 6:5 for food). The inarticulate tones of this uncivilized rabble are but little above those of the beast of the field.
gathered together—rather, sprinkled here and there. Literally, "poured out," graphically picturing their disorderly mode of encampment, lying up and down behind the thorn bushes.
nettles—or brambles [Umbreit].
They were children of fools, yea, children of base men: they were viler than the earth.
8. fools—that is, the impious and abandoned (1Sa 25:25).
base—nameless, low-born rabble.
viler than, &c.—rather, they were driven or beaten out of the land. The Horites in Mount Seir (Ge 14:6 with which compare Ge 36:20, 21; De 2:12, 22) were probably the aborigines, driven out by the tribe to which Job's ancestors belonged; their name means troglodytæ, or "dwellers in caves." To these Job alludes here (Job 30:1-8, and Ge 24:4-8, which compare together).
And now am I their song, yea, I am their byword.
9. (Job 17:6). Strikingly similar to the derision Jesus Christ underwent (La 3:14; Ps 69:12). Here Job returns to the sentiment in Job 30:1. It is to such I am become a song of "derision."
They abhor me, they flee far from me, and spare not to spit in my face.
10. in my face—rather, refrain not to spit in deliberate contempt before my face. To spit at all in presence of another is thought in the East insulting, much more so when done to mark "abhorrence." Compare the further insult to Jesus Christ (Isa 50:6; Mt 26:67).
Because he hath loosed my cord, and afflicted me, they have also let loose the bridle before me.
11. He—that is, "God"; antithetical to "they"; English Version here follows the marginal reading (Keri).
my cord—image from a bow unstrung; opposed to Job 29:20. The text (Chetib), "His cord" or "reins" is better; "yea, each lets loose his reins" [Umbreit].
Upon my right hand rise the youth; they push away my feet, and they raise up against me the ways of their destruction.
12. youth—rather, a (low) brood. To rise on the right hand is to accuse, as that was the position of the accuser in court (Zec 3:1; Ps 109:6).
push … feet—jostle me out of the way (Job 24:4).
ways of—that is, their ways of (that is, with a view to my) destruction. Image, as in Job 19:12, from a besieging army throwing up a way of approach for itself to a city.
They mar my path, they set forward my calamity, they have no helper.
13. Image of an assailed fortress continued. They tear up the path by which succor might reach me.
set forward—(Zec 1:15).
they have no helper—Arabic proverb for contemptible persons. Yet even such afflict Job.
They came upon me as a wide breaking in of waters: in the desolation they rolled themselves upon me.
14. waters—(So 2Sa 5:20). But it is better to retain the image of Job 30:12, 13. "They came [upon me] as through a wide breach," namely, made by the besiegers in the wall of a fortress (Isa 30:13) [Maurer].
in the desolation—"Amidst the crash" of falling masonry, or "with a shout like the crash" of, &c.
Terrors are turned upon me: they pursue my soul as the wind: and my welfare passeth away as a cloud.
soul—rather, "my dignity" [Umbreit].
cloud—(Job 7:9; Isa 44:22).
And now my soul is poured out upon me; the days of affliction have taken hold upon me.
16-23. Job's outward calamities affect his mind.
poured out—in irrepressible complaints (Ps 42:4; Jos 7:5).
My bones are pierced in me in the night season: and my sinews take no rest.
17. In the Hebrew, night is poetically personified, as in Job 3:3: "night pierceth my bones (so that they fall) from me" (not as English Version, "in me"; see Job 30:30).
sinews—so the Arabic, "veins," akin to the Hebrew; rather, "gnawers" (see on Job 30:3), namely, my gnawing pains never cease. Effects of elephantiasis.
By the great force of my disease is my garment changed: it bindeth me about as the collar of my coat.
18. of my disease—rather, "of God" (Job 23:6).
garment changed—from a robe of honor to one of mourning, literally (Job 2:8; Joh 3:6) and metaphorically [Umbreit]. Or rather, as Schuttens, following up Job 30:17, My outer garment is changed into affliction; that is, affliction has become my outer garment; it also bindeth me fast round (my throat) as the collar of the inner coat; that is, it is both my inner and outer garment. Observe the distinction between the inner and outer garments. The latter refers to his afflictions from without (Job 30:1-13); the former his personal afflictions (Job 30:14-23). Umbreit makes "God" subject to "bindeth," as in Job 30:19.
He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes.
19. God is poetically said to do that which the mourner had done to himself (Job 2:8). With lying in the ashes he had become, like them, in dirty color.
I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me: I stand up, and thou regardest me not.
20. stand up—the reverential attitude of a suppliant before a king (1Ki 8:14; Lu 18:11-13).
not—supplied from the first clause. But the intervening affirmative "stand" makes this ellipsis unlikely. Rather, as in Job 16:9 (not only dost thou refuse aid to me "standing" as a suppliant, but), thou dost regard me with a frown: eye me sternly.
Thou art become cruel to me: with thy strong hand thou opposest thyself against me.
Thou liftest me up to the wind; thou causest me to ride upon it, and dissolvest my substance.
22. liftest … to wind—as a "leaf" or "stubble" (Job 13:25). The moving pillars of sand, raised by the wind to the clouds, as described by travellers, would happily depict Job's agitated spirit, if it be to them that he alludes.
dissolvest … substance—The marginal Hebrew reading (Keri), "my wealth," or else "wisdom," that is, sense and spirit, or "my hope of deliverance." But the text (Chetib) is better: Thou dissolvest me (with fear, Ex 15:15) in the crash (of the whirlwind; see on Job 30:14) [Maurer]. Umbreit translates as a verb, "Thou terrifiest me."
For I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living.
23. This shows Job 19:25 cannot be restricted to Job's hope of a temporal deliverance.
death—as in Job 28:22, the realm of the dead (Heb 9:27; Ge 3:19).
Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave, though they cry in his destruction.
24. Expressing Job's faith as to the state after death. Though one must go to the grave, yet He will no more afflict in the ruin of the body (so Hebrew for "grave") there, if one has cried to Him when being destroyed. The "stretching of His hand" to punish after death answers antithetically to the raising "the cry" of prayer in the second clause. Maurer gives another translation which accords with the scope of Job 30:24-31; if it be natural for one in affliction to ask aid, why should it be considered (by the friends) wrong in my case? "Nevertheless does not a man in ruin stretch out his hand" (imploring help, Job 30:20; La 1:17)? If one be in his calamity (destruction) is there not therefore a "cry" (for aid)? Thus in the parallelism "cry" answers to "stretch—hand"; "in his calamity," to "in ruin." The negative of the first clause is to be supplied in the second, as in Job 30:25 (Job 28:17).
Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul grieved for the poor?
25. May I not be allowed to complain of my calamity, and beg relief, seeing that I myself sympathized with those "in trouble" (literally, "hard of day"; those who had a hard time of it).
When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness.
26. I may be allowed to crave help, seeing that, "when I looked for good (on account of my piety and charity), yet evil," &c.
My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction prevented me.
27. bowels—regarded as the seat of deep feeling (Isa 16:11).
boiled—violently heated and agitated.
prevented—Old English for "unexpectedly came upon" me, "surprised" me.
I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and I cried in the congregation.
28. mourning—rather, I move about blackened, though not by the sun; that is, whereas many are blackened by the sun, I am, by the heat of God's wrath (so "boiled," Job 30:27); the elephantiasis covering me with blackness of skin (Job 30:30), as with the garb of mourning (Jer 14:2). This striking enigmatic form of Hebrew expression occurs, Isa 29:9.
stood up—as an innocent man crying for justice in an assembled court (Job 30:20).
I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls.
29. dragons … owls—rather, "jackals," "ostriches," both of which utter dismal screams (Mic 1:8); in which respect, as also in their living amidst solitudes (the emblem of desolation), Job is their brother and companion; that is, resembles them. "Dragon," Hebrew, tannim, usually means the crocodile; so perhaps here, its open jaws lifted towards heaven, and its noise making it seem as if it mourned over its fate [Bochart].
My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.
30. upon me—rather, as in Job 30:17 (see on Job 30:17), "my skin is black (and falls away) from me."
my bones—(Job 19:20; Ps 102:5).
My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep.
31. organ—rather, "pipe" (Job 21:12). "My joy is turned into the voice of weeping" (La 5:15). These instruments are properly appropriated to joy (Isa 30:29, 32), which makes their use now in sorrow the sadder by contrast.