Job 16:5
But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should assuage your grief.
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Job 16:5. But I would strengthen you with my mouth — I would endeavour to direct, support, and comfort you, and say all I could to assuage your grief, but nothing to aggravate it. It is natural to sufferers to think what they would do if the tables were turned; but, perhaps, our hearts may deceive us; we know not what we would do; we find it easier to discern the reasonableness and importance of a command, when we have occasion to claim the benefit of it, than when we have occasion to do the duty of it. We ought, however, to say and do all we can to strengthen our brethren in affliction, suggesting to them such considerations as are proper to encourage their confidence in God, and to support their sinking spirits. Faith and patience, we should remember, are the strength of the afflicted, and what helps these graces, confirms the feeble knees. The reader will observe, there is nothing in the Hebrew for the words your grief, in the latter clause of this verse, which are therefore printed in Italic letters. Our translators supposed that there is an ellipsis in the Hebrew text, and that these, or some words of the same import, were necessary to complete the sense. But the word, ניד, nid, here rendered moving, (being derived from נוד, nud, which sometimes means to condole,) may be translated, compassion, and then, without supposing any defect in the text, the sense of the clause will be, Compassion should restrain, or, govern my lips; namely, that they should avoid all speeches which might vex you, and speak only what might be to your comfort and benefit; whereas you let your tongues loose to speak whatsoever pleaseth you, although it does not profit, but only torment me. Chappelow proposes yet another version of the words, which he thinks the true one, namely, I could be stronger than you with my mouth; but he [God] restrains the motion of my lips.16:1-5 Eliphaz had represented Job's discourses as unprofitable, and nothing to the purpose; Job here gives his the same character. Those who pass censures, must expect to have them retorted; it is easy, it is endless, but what good does it do? Angry answers stir up men's passions, but never convince their judgments, nor set truth in a clear light. What Job says of his friends is true of all creatures, in comparison with God; one time or other we shall be made to see and own that miserable comforters are they all. When under convictions of sin, terrors of conscience, or the arrests of death, only the blessed Spirit can comfort effectually; all others, without him, do it miserably, and to no purpose. Whatever our brethren's sorrows are, we ought by sympathy to make them our own; they may soon be so.(But I would strengthen you with my mouth With that which proceeds from the mouth - words.

And the moving of my lips - My speaking - implying that it would have been done in a mild, gentle, kind manner - so that the lips would appear just to move. Others, however, have given a different interpretation. Thus, Dr. Good renders it:

"With my own mouth will I overpower you,

Till the quivering of my lips shall fall."

But the common interpretation is to be preferred. The word rendered "moving" ניד nı̂yd is from נוּד nûd - "to move," "agitate," and hence, denotes "motion." It denotes here the motion of the lips when we speak. Gesenius renders it, "consolation," "comfort" - because this is expressed by a motion of the head.

Should assuage your grief - The word used here (יחשׂך yachâśak) means properly "to hold back," "to restrain;" Job 7:11. Here it is correctly rendered, meaning that he would hold back, or check their sorrows. In other words, he would sustain them.

5. strengthen … with … mouth—bitter irony. In allusion to Eliphaz' boasted "consolations" (Job 15:11). Opposed to strengthening with the heart, that is, with real consolation. Translate, "I also (like you) could strengthen with the mouth," that is, with heartless talk: "And the moving of my lips (mere lip comfort) could console (in the same fashion as you do)" [Umbreit]. "Hearty counsel" (Pr 27:9) is the opposite. Strengthen you, i.e. direct, and support, and comfort you. My discourse should comfort you. The words your grief are here understood, either out of the foregoing clause, where they are implied; or out of the next verse, where they are expressed. Possibly the words may be thus rendered without any ellipsis, which is most natural, if the translation be true and suitable: compassion (for the Hebrew word nid comes from nud, which signifies to condole) should restrain or govern my lips, that they should avoid all speeches which may vex you, and speak only what may be to your comfort and benefit; whereas you let your tongues loose to speak whatsoever pleaseth you, or tormenteth me. But I would strengthen you with my mouth,.... Comfort them with the words of his mouth; so God strengthens his people with strength in their souls, when he answers them with good and comfortable words; an angel strengthened Christ as man when in an agony, comforting him, suggesting comfortable things to him; so one saint may strengthen and comfort another when in distress, whether of soul or body; see Psalm 138:3; and thus Job had strengthened and comforted others, with his words in former times, as Eliphaz himself owns, Job 4:3 and so he would again, were there a change in his circumstances, and objects presented:

and the moving of my lips should assuage your grief: words uttered by him, which are done by the moving of the lips, should be such as would have a tendency to allay grief, to stop, restrain, forbid, and lessen sorrow; at least that it might not break out in an extravagant way, and exceed bounds, and that his friends might not be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

But I would strengthen you {e} with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief.

(e) If this were in my power, yet I would comfort you and not do as you do to me.

5. The verse no doubt carries on the idea of the preceding:

I could strengthen you with my mouth,

And the condolence of my lips could assuage your grief.

The emphasis falls on mouth and lips. Job could give them lip-comfort enough, pour out abundance of words in which lay no power to uphold the heart as they did not proceed from the heart. “Condolence” as ch. Job 2:11.Verse 5. - But I would strengthen you with my mouth. The meaning is somewhat doubtful, and different renderings have been proposed. But the rendering of the Authorized Version is quite defensible, and is accepted by our Revisers. This gives the sense, "I, if I were in your place, would not act as you have acted, but, on the contrary, would do my best to strengthen you with words of comfort and encouragement." The moving of my lips should assuage your grief. (So Rosenmuller and our Revisers.) The words are a covert reproach of the three "friends" for not acting as Job declares that he would have acted if the positions had been reversed. 31 Let him not trust in evil-he is deceived,

For evil shall be his possession.

32 His day is not yet, then it is accomplished,

And his palm-branch loseth its freshness.

33 He teareth off as a vine his young grapes,

And He casteth down as an olive-tree his flower.

34 The company of the hypocrite is rigid,

And fire consumeth the tents of bribery.

35 They conceive sorrow and bring forth iniquity,

And their inward part worketh self-deceit.

אל does not merely introduce a declaration respecting the future (Luther: he will not continue, which moreover must have been expressed by the Niph.), but is admonitory: may he only not trust in vanity (Munach here instead of Dech, according to the rule of transformation, Psalter, ii. 504, 4) - he falls, so far as he does it, into error, or brings himself into error (נתעה, 3 praet., not part., and Niph. like Isaiah 19:14, where it signifies to be thrust backwards and forwards, or to reel about helplessly), - a thought one might expect after the admonition (Olsh. conjectures נתעב, one who is detestable): this trusting in evil is self-delusion, for evil becomes his exchange (תּמוּרה not compensatio, but permutatio, acquisitio). We have translated שׁוא by "evil" (Unheil), by which we have sought elsewhere to render און, in order that we might preserve the same word in both members of the verse. In Job 15:31, שׁוא (in form equals שׁוא from שׁוא, in the Chethib שוּ, the Aleph being cast away, like the Arabic sû', wickedness, form the v. cavum hamzatum s-'a equals sawu'a) is waste and empty in mind, in Job 15:31 (comp. Hosea 12:12) waste and empty in fortune; or, to go further from the primary root, in the former case apparent goodness, in the latter apparent prosperity - delusion, and being undeceived "evil" in the sense of wickedness, and of calamity. תּמּלא, which follows, refers to the exchange, or neutrally to the evil that is exchanged: the one or the other fulfils itself, i.e., either: is realized (passive of מלּא, 1 Kings 8:15), or: becomes complete, which means the measure of the punishment of his immorality becomes full, before his natural day, i.e., the day of death, is come (comp. for expression, Job 22:16; Ecclesiastes 7:17). The translation: then it is over with him (Ges., Schlottm., and others), is contrary to the usage of the language; and that given by the Jewish expositors, תּמּלא equals תּמּלל (abscinditur or conteritur), is a needlessly bold suggestion. - Job 15:32. It is to be observed that רעננה is Milel, and consequently 3 praet., not as in Sol 1:16 Milra, and consequently adj. כּפּה is not the branches generally (Luzzatto, with Raschi: branchage), but, as the proverbial expression for the high and low, Isaiah 9:13; Isaiah 19:15 (vid., Dietrich, Abhandlung zur hebr. Gramm. S. 209), shows, the palm-branch bent downwards (comp. Targ. Esther 1:5, where כּפּין signifies seats and walks covered with foliage). "His palm-branch does not become green, or does not remain green" (which Symm. well renders: οὐκ εὐθαλήσει), means that as he himself, the palm-trunk, so also his family, withers away. In Job 15:33 it is represented as בּסר ( equals בּסר), wild grapes, or even unripe grapes of a vine, and as נצּה, flowers of an olive.

(Note: In order to appreciate the point of the comparison, it is needful to know that the Syrian olive-tree bears fruit plentifully the first, third, and fifth years, but rests during the second, fourth, and sixth. It blossoms in these years also, but the blossoms fall off almost entirely without any berries being formed. The harvest of the olive is therefore in such years very scanty. With respect to the vine, every year an enormous quantity of grapes are used up before they are ripe. When the berries are only about the size of a pea, the acid from them is used in housekeeping, to prepare almost every kind of food. The people are exceedingly fond of things sour, a taste which is caused by the heat of the climate. During the months of June, July, and August, above six hundred horses and asses laden with unripe grapes come daily to the market in Damascus alone, and during this season no one uses vinegar; hence the word בסרא signifies in Syriac the acid (vinegar) κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν. In Arabic the unripe grapes are exclusively called hhossrum (Arab. htsrm), or, with a dialectic distinction, hissrim. - Wetzst.)

In Job 15:32 the godless man himself might be the subject: he casts down, like an olive-tree, his flowers, but in Job 15:32 this is inadmissible; if we interpret: "he shakes off (Targ. יתּר, excutiet), like a vine-stock, his young grapes," this (apart from the far-fetched meaning in יחמס) is a figure that is untrue to nature, since the grapes sit firmer the more unripe they are; and if one takes the first meaning of חמס, "he acts unjustly, as a vine, to his omphax" (e.g., Hupf.), whether it means that he does not let it ripen, or that he does not share with it any of the sweet sap, one has not only an indistinct figure, but also (since what God ordains for the godless is described as in operation) an awkward comparison. The subject of both verbs is therefore other than the vine and olive themselves. But why only an impersonal "one"? In Job 15:30 רוח פיו was referred to God, who is not expressly mentioned. God is also the subject here, and יחמס, which signifies to act with violence to one's self, is modified here to the sense of tearing away, as Lamentations 2:6 (which Aben-Ezra has compared), of tearing out; כגפן, כזית, prop. as a vine-stock, as an olive-tree, is equivalent to even as such an one.

Job 15:34 declares the lot of the family of the ungodly, which has been thus figuratively described, without figure: the congregation (i.e., here: family-circle) of the ungodly (חנף according to its etymon inclinans, propensus ad malum, vid., on Job 13:16) is (as it is expressed from the standpoint of the judgment that is executed) גּלמוּד, a hard, lifeless, stony mass (in the substantival sense of the Arabic galmûd instead of the adject. גלמודה, Isaiah 49:21), i.e., stark dead (lxx θάνατος; Aq., Symm., Theod., ἄκαρπος), and fire has devoured the tents of bribery (after Ralbag: those built by bribery; or even after the lxx: οἴκους δωροδεκτῶν). The ejaculatory conclusion, Job 15:35, gives the briefest expression to that which has been already described. The figurative language, Job 15:35, is like Psalm 7:15; Isaiah 59:4 (comp. supra, p. 257); in the latter passage similar vividly descriptive infinitives are found (Ges. 131, 4, b). They hatch the burdens or sorrow of others, and what comes from it is evil for themselves. What therefore their בּטן, i.e., their inward part, with the intermingled feelings, thoughts, and strugglings (Olympiodorus: κοιλίαν ὅλον τὸ ἐντὸς χωρίον φησὶ καὶ αὐτὴν τῆν ψυχήν), prepares or accomplishes (יכין similar to Job 27:17; Job 38:41), that on which it works, is מרמה, deceit, with which they deceive others, and before all, themselves (New Test. ἀπάτη).


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