I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Job 3:16.
changes and war—rather, "(thou settest in array) against me host after host" (literally, "changes and a host," that is, a succession of hosts); namely, his afflictions, and then reproach upon reproach from his friends.I should have been, or, Oh that I had been! and so in the following branch,
Oh that I had been carried! For why should not these verbs of the future tense be so rendered here, as that Job 10:18 is, the reason being wholly the same? Ecclesiastes 6:3. This Job wished for, for so some render it, "oh, that I had been as though I had never been" (f); and then he would have never been involved in such troubles he was, he would have been free from all his afflictions and distresses, and never have had any experience of the sorrows that now surrounded him:
I should have been carried from the womb to the grave; if he had not been brought out of it, the womb had been his grave, as in Jeremiah 20:17; or if he had died in it, and had been stillborn, he would quickly have been carried to his grave; he would have seen and known nothing of life and of the world, and the things in it; and particularly of the troubles that attend mortals here: his passage in it and through it would have been very short, or none at all, no longer than from the womb to the grave; and so should never have known what sorrow was, or such afflictions he now endured; such an one being in his esteem happier than he; see Ecclesiastes 4:3.I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 19. - I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave. So short an existence would have been the next thing to no existence at all, and would have equally satisfied my wishes.
I perceive that this was in Thy mind:
14 If I should sin, Thou wouldst take note of it,
And not acquit me of my iniquity.
15 If I should act wickedly, woe unto me!
And were I righteous, I should not lift up my head,
Being full of shame and conscious of my misery.
16 And were I to raise it, Thou wouldst hunt me as a lion,
And ever display on me Thy wondrous power,
17 Thou wouldst ever bring fresh witnesses against me,
And increase Thy wrath against me,
I should be compelled to withstand continuously advancing troops and a host.
This manifestation of divine goodness which Job has experienced from the earliest existence seems to him, as he compares his present lot of suffering with it, to have served as a veil to a hidden purpose of a totally opposite character. That purpose - to make this life, which has been so graciously called into existence and guarded thus far, the object of the severest and most condemning visitation - is now manifest. Both אלּה and זאת refer to what is to follow: עמּך זאת used of the thought conceived, the purpose cherished, as Job 23:14; Job 27:11. All that follows receives a future colouring from this principal clause, "This is what Thou hadst designed to do," which rules the strophe. Thus Job 10:14 is to be rendered: If I had sinned, Thou wouldst have kept me in remembrance, properly custodies me, which is here equivalent to custoditurus eras me. שׁמר, with the acc. of the person, according to Psalm 130:3 (where it is followed by the acc. of the sin), is to be understood: to keep any one in remembrance, i.e., to mark him as sinful (Hirzel). This appears more appropriate than rigide observaturus eras me (Schlottm.). ושׁמרתני, according to Ges. 121, 4, might be taken for לי ושׁמרת (viz., חטּאתי); but this is unnecessary, and we have merely translated it thus for the sake of clearness. His infirmities must not be passed by unpunished; and if he should act wickedly (רשׁע, of malignant sin, in distinction from חטא), woe unto him (comp. οἰαί μοι, 1 Corinthians 9:16). According to the construction referred to above, וצדקתי is praet. hypotheticum (Ges. 155, 4, a); and the conclusion follows without waw apodosis: If I had acted rightly, I should not have raised my head, being full of shame and conscious of my misery. The adjectives are not in apposition to ראשׁי (Bttcher), but describe the condition into which he would be brought, instead of being able (according to the ethical principle, Genesis 4:7) to raise his head cheerfully. ראה constr. of ראה, as שׂבע or שׂבע. It is needless, with Pisc., Hirz., Bttch., and Ewald, to alter it to ראה, since ראה is verbal adjective like יפה, נכה, קשׁה. Moreover, וּראה cannot be imperative (Rosenm., De Wette); for although imperatives, joined by waw to sentences of a different construction, do occur (Psalm 77:2; 2 Samuel 21:3), such an exclamation would destroy the connection and tone of the strophe in the present case.
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