Job 17:3
Lay down now, put me in a surety with you; who is he that will strike hands with me?
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(3) Lay down now . . .i.e., Give now a pledge; be surety for me with Thyself. He has declared that he has a witness in the heavens, but he desires some present token of the vindication to come of which he is confident, and so he asks God to give him such a pledge. This is virtually the same prayer that we find Hezekiah using (Isaiah 38:14): “O Lord, I am oppressed: undertake for me,” that is, “Be surety for me.” (See also Psalm 119:122 : “Be surety for thy servant for good.”) There is that in man which demands exact and rigorous fulfilment or expiation of non-fulfilment. Job felt that his only hope of this fulfilment or expiation of non-fulfilment lay with God Himself: that same God who had put this sense of obligation within him; therefore he says, Be surety for me with Thyself.” He longed for the daysman who should lay his hand upon both him and God; he now longs for that surety with God that God alone can give. The surety must be Divine if his witness is in the heavens; it must be the witness of God to God himself. In this wonderful way does the language of Job fit in with all that we have since and elsewhere learnt of the persons in the Godhead.

Who is he that will strike hands with me?—This was the method of becoming surety; but he knows that there is no one among his friends who will do this, or that could do it if he would. (Comp. Psalm 49:7.)

Job 17:3. Lay down now — Some earnest or pledge. Put me in a surety with thee — Let me have an assurance that God will take the hearing and determining of the cause into his own hands, and I desire no more. Who is he that will strike hands with me? — That is, agree and promise, or be surety to me, whereof striking or joining hands was the usual sign. But, probably, we ought rather to consider Job as addressing God in these words, and then we must understand them as containing an humble desire that he would be his surety, or would appoint him a surety, who should maintain his righteous cause against his opposers. “Our English annotations,” says Henry, “give this reading of the verse; Appoint, I pray thee, my surety with thee, namely, Christ, who is with thee in heaven, and hath undertaken to be my surety: let him plead my cause, and stand up for me, and who is he then that will strike upon my hand? that is, who dares then contend with me? Who shall lay any thing to my charge, if Christ be an advocate for me? Romans 8:32-33. Christ is the surety of the better testament, (Hebrews 7:22,) a surety of God’s appointing; and if he undertake for us we need not fear what can be done against us.”17:1-9 Job reflects upon the harsh censures his friends had passed upon him, and, looking on himself as a dying man, he appeals to God. Our time is ending. It concerns us carefully to redeem the days of time, and to spend them in getting ready for eternity. We see the good use the righteous should make of Job's afflictions from God, from enemies, and from friends. Instead of being discouraged in the service of God, by the hard usage this faithful servant of God met with, they should be made bold to proceed and persevere therein. Those who keep their eye upon heaven as their end, will keep their feet in the paths of religion as their way, whatever difficulties and discouragements they may meet with.Lay down now - This is evidently an address to God - a repetition of the wish which he had so often expressed, that he might be permitted to bring his cause directly before him; see Job 13:3. The whole passage here is obscure, because we are in a great measure ignorant of the ancient practices in courts of law, and of the ancient forms of trial. The general sense seems to be, that Job desires the Deity to enter into a judicial investigation, and to give him a "pledge" - or, as we should say, a "bond," or "security" - that he would not avail himself of his almighty power, but would place him on an equality in the trial, and allow him to plead his cause on equal terms; see the notes at Job 13:20-22. The phrase "lay down now" means, lay down a pledge, or something of that kind; and may have referred to some ancient custom of giving security on going to trial, that no advantage would be taken, or that the parties would abide by the decision in the case.

Put me in a surety with thee - The word used here (ערבני ‛ârabı̂yn) is from ערב ‛ârab, to mix, mingle; to exchange, to barter and then to become surety for anyone - that is, to "exchange" places with him, or to stand in his place; Genesis 43:9; Genesis 44:32. Here the idea seems to be, that Job wished the Deity to give him some pledge or security that justice would be done, or that he would not take advantage of his power and majesty to overawe him. Or, as has been remarked, it may refer to some custom of furnishing security on a voluntary trial or arbitration, that the award of the referees would be observed. I think it most probable that this is the idea. The controversy here was to be voluntary. In a voluntary trial, or an arbitration, there is a necessity of some security by the parties that the decision shall be submitted to - a pledge to each other that they will abide by it. Such a pledge Job desired in this case. All this is language taken from courts, and should not be pressed too much, nor should Job be hastily charged with irreverence. Having once suggested the idea of a "trial" of the cause, it was natural for him to use the language which was commonly employed in reference to such trials; and these expressions are to be regarded as thrown in for the sake of "keeping," or verisimilitude.

Who is he that will strike hands with me? - Striking hands then, as now, seems to have been one mode of confirming an agreement, or ratifying a compact. The idea here is," Who is there that will be surety to me for thee?" that is, for the faithful observance of right and justice. There is an appearance of irreverence in this language, but it arises from carrying out the ideas pertaining to a form of trial in a court. In entering into "sureties," it was usual to unite hands; see Proverbs 6:1 :

My son, if thou be surety for thy friend,

If thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger.

So Proverbs 17:18 :

A man void of understanding striketh hands,

And becometh surety in the presence of his friend

Compare Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 22:26. The same custom prevailed in the times of Homer and of Virgil. Thus, Homer (Iliad, β b. 341) says:

Ποῦ δὴ -

- δεξιαὶ ἦς ἐπέπιθμεν -

Pou de4 -

- dexiai hēs epepithmen -

And so Virgil (Aeneid 4:597) says;


3. Lay down now—namely, a pledge or security; that is, be my surety; do Thou attest my innocence, since my friends only mock me (Job 17:2). Both litigating parties had to lay down a sum as security before the trial.

put me in a surety—Provide a surety for me (in the trial) with Thee. A presage of the "surety" (Heb 7:22), or "one Mediator between God and man" (see on [510]Job 16:21).

strike hands—"who else (save God Himself) could strike hands with me?" that is, be my security (Ps 119:122). The Hebrew strikes the hand of him for whom he goes security (Pr 6:1).

He turneth his speech either to Eliphaz, who spoke last; or rather to God, as is evident from the matter and scope of the words, and from the next verse. These words contain either,

1. A humble desire to God that he would appoint him a surety, who should undertake for his friends; that they should refer the cause in difference between them to God or to some other person, who should determine the matter in God’s name, and according to God’s will; or that God would be his Surety, or appoint him a surety who should maintain his righteous cause against his opposers; for so this phrase is oft used, as Psalm 119:121,122 Isa 38:14. And some expound this, as they did Job 16:21, of Christ Jesus, who was called our Surety, Hebrews 7:22; appoint, I pray thee, my Surety (i.e. Christ, who is now) with thee, to plead my cause. Or rather,

2. An appeal from God unto God, or a kind of challenge or desire of debating his cause with God; which, though it savoureth of too much boldness and irreverence to God, yet seeing Job expresseth the same desire almost in the same manner, Job 9:33,34, and is sharply reproved by God for contending with him, Job 40:2, I know no inconvenience of ascribing the same thing to him here. So the sense is, Because I am not able to deal with thee immediately, considering the dread of thy majesty, my only desire is, that thou wouldst deal with me upon fair and equal terms, as if thou wert a man like myself, and appoint some man who shall in thy name and stead determine the time and place for the trial of my cause with thee. And this suits well enough with the two following verses, because his friends were without understanding, Job 17:4, and partial, Job 17:5; therefore he desires to cease discoursing with them, and to debate his cause with God, who was just and impartial, and also would be favourable to him.

Strike hands with me, i.e. agree and promise, or be surety to me; whereof that was the usual gesture, Proverbs 6:1,2 17:18 22:26. Lay down now,.... A pledge that thou wilt provide a surety, appoint and admit one to plead for me, and that thou wilt hear my cause, and determine it; or "put now", or "put, I pray thee" (r), thy heart and mind to me and my case, to my petition and request, and grant it:

put me in a surety with thee; appoint, provide, and place a surety for me with thee, and let him appear to do his work and office: such an one Jesus Christ is; he is of God the Father's appointing to be the Mediator between God and men, and who himself voluntarily engaged and agreed to be the surety of the better testament; and this was known to the Old Testament saints, and to Job; and his prayer was the prayer of faith: and this work and office Christ performs; he was surety for his people from eternity, he drew nigh to God on their account, and struck hands with his Father, or covenanted and agreed with him about the salvation of his people, and the manner of it; he gave his word, his bond, to his Father for them, that he would save them; and upon that suretyship engagement of Christ all the Old Testament saints were pardoned, justified, and glorified; he promised and bound himself to pay all their debts, to satisfy for all their sins, to bring in an everlasting righteousness for them, and to bring them all safe to heaven and happiness; in order to which, he put himself in their room and stead, and laid down his life a ransom for them; upon which Job might say, and so may every believer, what follows,

who is he that will strike hands with me? that will enter the lists, litigate and dispute the point with me, or bring any charge or accusation against me, having such a surety to answer for me, such an advocate to plead my cause, such a Mediator between God and man, who has made reconciliation for sin, brought in everlasting righteousness, and satisfied law and justice, see Romans 8:33; or else the sense is, "who is he", besides him that is a surety of God's appointing and providing, "can strike bands with me?" or be a surety for me? there is no other Mediator, Saviour, or Redeemer, besides him; if he had not undertaken the cause of his people, and the redemption of them, it must have ceased for ever, no other was equal to such a work; so that here is another reason used with the Lord to provide a surety, since no other could to any purpose.

(r) "pone nunc", Montanus; "poae quaeso", Pagninus, Piscator, Mercerus, Cocceius, Schmidt; "sub cor tunm", Vatablus.

{c} Lay down now, put me in a surety with thee; who is he that {d} will strike hands with me?

(c) He reasons with God as a man beside himself, so that his cause might be brought to light.

(d) And answers for you?

3. The verse reads,

Give a pledge now! be surety for me with thee!

Who is there (else) that will strike hands with me?

Lay down now] i. e. lay or put in a pledge. Now is not temporal, but a particle of importunate entreaty.

put me in a surety] As above, be surety for me with thee. The first expression, give a pledge, is more fully expressed by the second, be surety for me with thee; and the question, Who (else) will strike hands with me? refers to the gesture or action by which suretyship was undertaken, viz. by striking hands.; cf. Proverbs 6:1; Proverbs 11:15 (margin), Proverbs 17:18, Proverbs 22:26. First, Job beseeches God to become surety for him; that is something to be done in the present. But second, a suretyship necessarily refers to the future; though undertaken in the present it is to be fulfilled later. This is expressed by the words with thee, i. e. with God. Job beseeches God to undertake now that He will cause his innocence to be yet acknowledged with God. The same division of God into two parties, God who persecutes Job and wrongs him and God who becomes surety for Job and undertakes to see his cause righted with God, appears here as before in Job 16:21; see something similar Hebrews 7:22. The phrase be surety for me is translated undertake for me, Isaiah 38:14, cf. Psalm 119:122; and it might be made a question whether the suppliant went so far as to expect any visible or audible sign from heaven.

3–9. New appeal to God that He would undertake for Job or give him a pledge that he would cause his innocence to be acknowledged by God, Job 17:3; with the grounds for this prayer as before, Job 17:4-9.Verse 3. - Lay down now; or, give now a pledge (see the Revised Version). The terms used in this verse are law terms. Job calls upon God to go into court with him, and, first of all, to deposit the caution-money which the court will require before it undertakes the investigation of the case. Next, he goes on to say, put me in a surety with thee; or rather (as in the Revised Version), be surety for me with thyself which is either the same thing with giving a pledge, or a further legal requirement. Finally, he asks the question, Who is he that will strike hands with me? meaning, "Who else is there but thyself, to whom I can look to be my surety, and by striking hands (comp. Proverbs 6:1) with me to accept the legal responsibility?" As Dr. Stanley Leathes says, "It is wonderful the way in which the language of Job fits in with what we have since and elsewhere learnt concerning the Persons in the Godhead." 18 Oh earth, cover thou not my blood,

And let my cry find no resting-place!! -

19 Even now behold in heaven is my Witness,

And One who acknowledgeth me is in the heights!

20 Though the mockers of me are my friends -

To Eloah mine eyes pour forth tears,

21 That He may decide for man against Eloah,

And for the son of man against his friend.

22 For the years that may be numbered are coming on,

And I shall go a way without return.

Blood that is not covered up cries for vengeance, Ezekiel 24:7.; so also blood still unavenged is laid bare that it may find vengeance, Isaiah 26:21. According to this idea, in the lofty consciousness of his innocence, Job calls upon the earth not to suck in his blood as of one innocently slain, but to let it lie bare, thereby showing that it must be first of all avenged ere the earth can take it up;

(Note: As, according to the tradition, it is said to have been impossible to remove the stain of the blood of Zachariah the son of Jehoiada, who was murdered in the court of the temple, until it was removed by the destruction of the temple itself.)

and for his cry, i.e., the cry (זעקתי to be explained according to Genesis 4:10) proceeding from his blood as from his poured-out soul, he desires that it may urge its way unhindered and unstilled towards heaven without finding a place of rest (Symm. στάσις). Therefore, in the very God who appears to him to be a blood-thirsty enemy in pursuit of him, Job nevertheless hopes to find a witness of his innocence: He will acknowledge his blood, like that of Abel, to be the blood of an innocent man. It is an inward irresistible demand made by his faith which here brings together two opposite principles - principles which the understanding cannot unite - with bewildering boldness. Job believes that God will even finally avenge the blood which His wrath has shed, as blood that has been innocently shed. This faith, which sends forth beyond death itself the word of absolute command contained in Job 16:18, in Job 16:19 brightens and becomes a certain confidence, which draws from the future into the present that acknowledgment which God afterwards makes of him as innocent. The thought of what is unmerited in that decree of wrath which delivers him over to death, is here forced into the background, and in the front stands only the thought of the exaltation of the God in heaven above human short-sightedness, and the thought that no one else but He is the final refuge of the oppressed: even now (i.e., this side of death)

(Note: Comp. 1 Kings 14:14, where it is probably to be explained: Jehovah shall raise up for himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day, but what? even now (גם עתה), i.e., He hath raised him up ( equals but no, even now).)


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