Job 19:28
But you should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?
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(28) Seeing the root of the matter.—This verse is variously understood, according as “the root of the matter” is interpreted of the cause of suffering or the essence of piety. “For ye say, How we will persecute him, and that the root of the matter is found in me.” The Authorised Version takes the other view. It seems preferable to render, “For ye say, What is a persecuted man to Him (why should He persecute any man without cause?), and therefore the root of the matter (i.e., the cause of the afflictions) is, i.e., must be found in me.”

Job 19:28. But ye should say — Therefore, because this is my case, and my faith and hope are in God, it would become you, and it is your duty on this account, to say, Why persecute we him? — We are blameworthy that we have persecuted him with such bitter invectives, and we will do so no more; seeing the root of the matter — Hebrew, דבר, dabar, of the word; is found in me — That is, since my heart is sincere and upright before God, and the root, or foundation, of true religion is in me. Cum veritas ipsa inveniatur in me, since the truth itself is found in me. — Vatablus. The root of all true religion is living faith in that Redeemer of whom Job had just spoken, and in the truth and grace of God in and through him; faith working by love, overcoming the world, and purifying the heart; faith disarming death of its sting, and inspiring us with a lively, patient, joyful, and grateful hope of eternal life, such as Job had just expressed. This is the root of the matter, other things are but leaves in comparison of it. This, which implies the whole of godliness and righteousness, is the one thing needful. Let us see to it that this be found in us. And, with respect to others, let us believe that many have this root of the matter in them, who are not in every thing of our mind, and who have their follies, weaknesses, and mistakes: and let us be aware that it is at our peril if we persecute any such. Wo be to him that offends or causes to stumble and fall one of these little ones. God will resent and revenge it. Job and his friends differed in their views concerning the methods of Divine Providence, but they agreed in the root of the matter; and, therefore, it was their duty not to have censured and persecuted, but to have lived in love with each other.19:23-29 The Spirit of God, at this time, seems to have powerfully wrought on the mind of Job. Here he witnessed a good confession; declared the soundness of his faith, and the assurance of his hope. Here is much of Christ and heaven; and he that said such things are these, declared plainly that he sought the better country, that is, the heavenly. Job was taught of God to believe in a living Redeemer; to look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come; he comforted himself with the expectation of these. Job was assured, that this Redeemer of sinners from the yoke of Satan and the condemnation of sin, was his Redeemer, and expected salvation through him; and that he was a living Redeemer, though not yet come in the flesh; and that at the last day he would appear as the Judge of the world, to raise the dead, and complete the redemption of his people. With what pleasure holy Job enlarges upon this! May these faithful sayings be engraved by the Holy Spirit upon our hearts. We are all concerned to see that the root of the matter be in us. A living, quickening, commanding principle of grace in the heart, is the root of the matter; as necessary to our religion as the root of the tree, to which it owes both its fixedness and its fruitfulness. Job and his friends differed concerning the methods of Providence, but they agreed in the root of the matter, the belief of another world.But ye should say - Noyes renders this, "Since ye say, 'How may we persecute him, and find grounds of accusation against him?'" Dr. Good,

Then shall ye say, "How did we persecute him?"

When the root of the matter is disclosed in me.

The Vulgate, "Why now do ye say, let us persecute him, and find ground of accusation - "radicem verbi" against him?" The Septuagint, "If you also say, What shall we say against him? and what ground of accusation - ῥίζαν λόγου rizan logou - shall we find in him?" Rosenmuller renders it, "When you say, let us persecute him, and see what ground of accusation we can find in him, then fear the sword." Most critics concur in such an interpretation as implies that they had sought a ground of accusation against him, and that they would have occasion to fear the divine displeasure on account of it. It seems to me, however, that our translators have given substantially the fair sense of the Hebrew. A slight variation would, perhaps, better express the idea: "For you will yet say, Why did we persecute him? The root of the matter was found in him - and since this will be the case, fear now that justice will overtake you for it, for vengeance will not always slumber when a friend of God is wronged."

Seeing the root of the matter - Margin, "and" what "root of matter is found in me." The word rendered "matter" (דבר dâbâr), "word or thing." means, properly, word or thing - and may refer to "any" thing. Here it is used in one of the two opposite senses, "piety" or "guilt" - as being "the thing" under consideration. The interpretation to be adopted must depend on the view taken of the other words of the sentence. To me it seems that it denotes piety, and that the idea is, that the root of true piety was in him, or that he was not a hypocrite. The word root is so common as to need no explanation. It is used sometimes to denote the "bottom," or the lowest part of anything - as e. g., the foot (see Job 13:27, "margin"), the bottom of the mountains Job 28:9, or of the sea, Job 36:30, "margin." Here it means the foundation, support, or source - as the root is of a tree; and the sense, I suppose, is, that he was not a dead trunk, but he was like a tree that had a root, and consequently support and life. Many critics, however, among whom is Gesenius, suppose that it means that the root of the controversy, that is, the ground of strife, was in "him," or that he was the cause of the whole dispute.

28. Rather, "ye will then (when the Vindicator cometh) say, Why," &c.

root … in me—The root of pious integrity, which was the matter at issue, whether it could be in one so afflicted, is found in me. Umbreit, with many manuscripts and versions, reads "in him." "Or how found we in him ground of contention."

But; or, therefore; because this is my case, and my faith and hope in God.

Ye should say: so the future is used potentially, as it is Obadiah 1:12; and the sense is, it would become you; or, it is your duty upon this account to say. Or, you will say, i.e. either,

1. I hope you will say so, and that you will be more moderate in your censures and expressions concerning me, as being convinced and sweetened by this sincere and solemn profession of my faith and hope. Or,

2. Peradventure you will say, to wit, by way of excuse for yourselves.

Why persecute we him? so it is a correction of themselves. Seeing things are thus with him, we are blameworthy, that we have persecuted him with such bitter invectives, and we will do so no more. Or, wherein or how (for so that particle is sometimes used, as the learned observe) do we persecute him, as he chargeth us, Job 19:22. He accuseth us falsely, and without cause given on our parts. So it is an apology for their hard speeches against him, which Job puts into their mouths as their exception to his charge, which he mentioned Job 19:22 and upon that occasion falls into a most serious and pathetical exclamation, Job 19:23,24, and into a most solemn declaration of his faith in God his Redeemer, Job 19:25-27; and after that digression he resumes the former matter, and here propounds an objection, to which he gives a severe answer, which may seem to suit much better with this than with the former exposition.

Seeing the root of the matter is found in me. These words contain either,

1. A motive or reason why they should correct themselves for persecuting him, and desist from it; because, saith Job,

the root of the matter, or word, is in me. The root notes the occasion, or the foundation, or the truth and substance of a thing. And by this matter or word may be meant either,

1. That famous profession of his faith and confidence in God, Job 19:25-27, which, saith he, I have not uttered vain-gloriously or hypocritically, but from my very heart, wherewith I believe what I have spoken with my mouth, as is said upon another occasion, Romans 10:9,10. This word or faith is rooted in mine heart, as it should be, Matthew 13:21 Colossians 2:7. I am no hypocrite, as you asperse me, but an upright person, having a root of true religion in me; which therefore should allay your censures, and make you willing to bear with some circumstantial defects or mistakes in my discourses, or miscarriages, into which my passion and pain might transport me, and make you repent of your cruel usage of a truly good man. But although Job had this root in his heart, yet this was doubted of, and not discernible by, Job’s friends, and therefore could be no argument to them. Possibly it might be better to understand by this root of the word, to wit, of God’s word, which is oft called the word, by way of eminency, the foundations or fundamental truths of Divine doctrine which Job held; as appeared by this glorious confession, howsoever he might err in the matter of controversy with them; which being a difference in lesser things, they should mildly have borne with it, and not aggravated it and traduced him, as if thereby he had renounced God, and the very principles of religion, as they did. Or,

2. The word or thing under debate among them. So the sense may be this,

the root or truth of the thing debated by us is with me, i.e. is on my side. Your discourses and arguments have no truth nor solidity in them as mine have. You speak whatever cometh into your minds and mouths; but my discourses are rooted and grounded upon sound knowledge and deep consideration. But this was no convincing answer; for they could easily retort the same thing upon him again, and their affirmation might seem as good as his; for it was only a begging of the thing in question. Or rather,

2. A defence of themselves, and of their former sharp and severe discourses, which Job called persecution, Job 19:22. And having made a short, but vehement and important, digression, Job 19:23, &c., he returns to the main question between them here; and the sense of this verse (with submission to better judgments) seems to me to be plainly this, But ye will say, i.e. I know will object against my charge, how, or wherein, or why do we persecute him? Why doth he charge us with so black a crime; seeing, or for, (as vau is oft used,) the root, i.e. the foundation, or cause, or occasion of the word, i.e. of those words or passages of ours which are so ill taken, or

of the matter, i.e. of the thing now debated among us, is in me; i.e. Job gives the occasion to it by his boisterous passions and wicked expressions against God, which we neither can nor ought to endure, but are to be sharply reproved. And so this verse contains their objection or apology, which Job puts into their mouths, to which he makes a sharp and suitable reply in the following verse. But ye should say,.... Here Job directs his friends what use they should make of this confession of his faith; they should upon this say within themselves, and to one another,

why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me? Why should we pursue him with hard words, and load him with censures and reproaches, as if he was an hypocrite, when it appears, by what he says, that he has truth in the inward parts, the true grace of God is in him; that he is rooted in the love of God, and in the person of the Redeemer; that he has the Spirit of God in him, and the divine seed which has taken root in him, and brings forth fruit: or that "the root of the word" (k) is in him; the word of God has a place in him, and is become the ingrafted word; the root doctrines, the principal and fundamental truths of religion, are believed and professed by him, such as respect the incarnation of the Messiah, his resurrection from the dead, and coming to judgment, the resurrection of all the dead in the same body, a future state of happiness, in which saints will enjoy the beatific vision; since these things are firmly believed by him, though he may differ from us in some points about the methods of divine Providence, let us cease from persecuting him any further; see Romans 10:8.

(k) "radix verbi", Montanus, Mercerus, Schmidt, Michaelis; "radix sermonis", Cocceius; "fundamenta negotii salutis", Tigurine version.

But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the {s} matter is found in me?

(s) Though his friends thought that he was only persecuted by God for his sins, yet he declares that there was a deeper consideration that is, the trial of his faith and patience, and so to be an example for others.

28, 29. Brief threat to his three friends. God’s appearance, which will bring joy to Job, will carry terror to those who persecute him and fasten false charges of guilt upon him. The language in these verses is in some parts obscure, and there may be faults in the text. Job 19:28 reads in connexion with Job 19:29,

If ye say, How we will pursue him!

And the root of the matter is found in me:

Be ye afraid of the sword, &c.

Job 19:28 forms the supposition and Job 19:29 states the consequence, the penalty of the conduct referred to on the part of Job’s friends. If they shall continue their unjust persecution of him, asserting that the “root of the matter,” i. e. the real cause of his afflictions, is found in himself, in his transgressions, then Job warns them that they will bring on themselves the “sword” of Divine vengeance.Verse 28. - But ye should say, Why persecute we him? rather, if ye shall say How shall we persecute him? That is to say, "If, after what I have said, ye continue bitter against me, and take counsel together as to the best way of persecuting me, then, seeing the root of the matter (i.e. the essence of piety) is found in me, be ye afraid," etc. 21 Have pity upon me, have pity upon me,

O ye my friends, For the hand of Eloah hath touched me.

22 Wherefore do ye persecute me as God,

And are never satisfied with my flesh?

23 Oh that my words were but written,

That they were recorded in a book,

24 With an iron pen, filled in with lead,

Graven in the rock for ever!

25 And I:know: my Redeemer liveth,

And as the last One will He arise from the dust.

In Job 19:21 Job takes up a strain we have not heard previously. His natural strength becomes more and more feeble, and his voice weaker and weaker. It is a feeling of sadness that prevails in the preceding description of suffering, and now even stamps the address to the friends with a tone of importunate entreaty which shall, if possible, affect their heart. They are indeed his friends, as the emphatic רעי אתּם affirms; impelled towards him by sympathy they are come, and at least stand by him while all other men flee from him. They are therefore to grant him favour (חנן, prop. to incline to) in the place of right; it is enough that the hand of Eloah has touched him (in connection with this, one is reminded that leprosy is called נגע, and is pre-eminently accounted as plaga divina; wherefore the suffering Messiah also bears the significant name חוּרא דבי רבּי, "the leprous one from the school of Rabbi," in the Talmud, after Isaiah 53:4, Isaiah 53:8), they are not to make the divine decree heavier to him by their uncharitableness. Wherefore do ye persecute me - he asks them in Job 19:22 - like as God (כּמו־אל, according to Saad. and Ralbag equals כמו־אלּה, which would be very tame); by which he means not merely that they add their persecution to God's, but that they take upon themselves God's work, that they usurp to themselves a judicial divine authority, they act towards him as if they were superhuman (vid., Isaiah 31:3), and therefore inhumanly, since they, who are but his equals, look down upon him from an assumed and false elevation. The other half of the question: wherefore are ye not full of my flesh (de ma chair, with מן, as Job 31:31), but still continue to devour it? is founded upon a common Semitic figurative expression, with which may be compared our Germ. expression, "to gnaw with the tooth of slander" comp. Engl. "backbiting". In Chaldee, אכל קרצוהי די, to eat the pieces of (any one), is equivalent to, to slander him; in Syriac, ochelqarsso is the name of Satan, like διάβολος. The Arabic here, as almost everywhere in the book of Job, presents a still closer parallel; for Arab. 'kl lḥm signifies to eat any one's flesh, then (different from אכל בשׂר, Psalm 27:2) equivalent to, to slander,

(Note: Vid., Schultens' ad Prov. Meidanii, p. 7 (where "to eat his own flesh," equivalent to "himself," without allowing others to do it, signifies to censure his kinsmen), and comp. the phrase Arab. aclu-l-a‛râdhi in the signification arrodere existimationem hominum in Makkari, i. 541, 13.)

since an evil report is conceived of as a wild beast, which delights in tearing a neighbour to pieces, as the friends do not refrain from doing, since, from the love of their assumption that his suffering must be the retributive punishment of heinous sins, they lay sins to his charge of which he is not conscious, and which he never committed. Against these uncharitable and groundless accusations he wishes (Job 19:23) that the testimony of his innocence, to which they will not listen, might be recorded in a book for posterity, or because a book may easily perish, graven in a rock (therefore not on leaden plates) with an iron style, and the addition of lead, with which to fill up the engraved letters, and render them still more imperishable. In connection with the remarkable fidelity with which the poet throws himself back into the pre-Israelitish patriarchal time of his hero, it is of no small importance that he ascribes to him an acquaintance not only with monumental writing, but also with book and documentary writing (comp. Job 31:35).

The fut., which also elsewhere (Job 6:8; Job 13:5; Job 14:13, once the praet., Job 23:3, noverim) follows מי־יתּן, quis dabat equals utinam, has Waw consec. here (as Deuteronomy 5:26 the praet.); the arrangement of the words is extremely elegant, בּסּפר stands per hyperbaton emphatically prominent. כּתב and חקק (whence fut. Hoph. יחקוּ with Dag. implicitum in the ח, comp. Job 4:20, and the Dag. of the ק omitted, for יוּחקּוּ, according to Ges. 67, rem. 8) interchange also elsewhere, Isaiah 30:8. ספר, according to its etymon, is a book formed of the skin of an animal, as Arab. sufre, the leathern table-mat spread on the ground instead of a table. It is as unnecessary to read לעד (comp. Job 16:8, lxx, εἰς μαρτύριον) instead of לעד here, as in Isaiah 30:8. He wishes that his own declaration, in opposition to his accusers, may be inscribed as on a monument, that it may be immortalized,


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