Job 2:8
And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.
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Job 2:8. And he took a potsherd, &c. — His children and servants were all dead, his wife unkind, and none of those whom he had formerly befriended had so much sense of honour and gratitude as to minister to him in his distress, to furnish him with linen clothes, or lend a hand to cleanse or dress his running sores; either because the disease was loathsome and offensive, or because they apprehended it to be infectious. Being therefore deprived of other relief, he laid hold on what was next at hand, a piece of a broken pot, or tile, to press out, or remove, the purulent matter which was under his ulcers, or flowed from them, and was the great cause of his pain; or to rub them, and allay the itching, which, as they began to die away, probably became intolerable. The Hebrew word להתגרד, le-hithgared, here used, which we translate to scrape himself, occurs nowhere else in the Bible, but is said to be frequently used in Chaldee and Arabic in the sense of pulling off bark or leaves from trees, and is here rendered by the LXX. ινα τον ιχωρα ξυη, that he might wipe off, or cleanse away, the corrupt matter. And sat down among the ashes — Επι της κοπριας εξω της πολεως, upon the dung-hill without the city, say the Seventy. Here he would easily find a potsherd at hand, but not any clean and soft linen clothes, much less any ointments, salves, or plasters, proper for the healing of his sores. But it is probable, if he had had such things at hand he would not have used them; for as he sat down in this place, in dust and ashes, as mourners used to do, humbling himself under the mighty hand of God, so, in the same spirit of self-abasement and humiliation, he would have declined all things that savoured of tenderness and delicacy, and have still used his potsherd.

2:7-10 The devil tempts his own children, and draws them to sin, and afterwards torments, when he has brought them to ruin; but this child of God he tormented with affliction, and then tempted to make a bad use of his affliction. He provoked Job to curse God. The disease was very grievous. If at any time we are tried with sore and grievous distempers, let us not think ourselves dealt with otherwise than as God sometimes deals with the best of his saints and servants. Job humbled himself under the mighty hand of God, and brought his mind to his condition. His wife was spared to him, to be a troubler and tempter to him. Satan still endeavours to draw men from God, as he did our first parents, by suggesting hard thoughts of Him, than which nothing is more false. But Job resisted and overcame the temptation. Shall we, guilty, polluted, worthless creatures, receive so many unmerited blessings from a just and holy God, and shall we refuse to accept the punishment of our sins, when we suffer so much less than we deserve? Let murmuring, as well as boasting, be for ever done away. Thus far Job stood the trial, and appeared brightest in the furnace of affliction. There might be risings of corruption in his heart, but grace had the upper hand.And he took him a potsherd - The word used here חרשׁ chârâsh means a fragment of a broken vessel; see the notes at Isaiah 45:9. The Septuagint renders it ὄστρακον ostrakon - "a shell." One object of taking this was to remove from his body the filth accumulated by the universal ulcer, compare Job 7:4-5; and another design probably was, to "indicate" the greatness of his calamity and sorrow. The ancients were accustomed to show their grief by significant external actions (compare the notes at Job 1:20), and nothing could more strongly denote the greatness of the calamity, than for a man of wealth, honor, and distinction, to sit down in the ashes, to take a piece of broken earthen-ware, and begin to scrape his body covered over with undressed and most painful sores. It does not appear that anything was done to heal him, or any kindness shown in taking care of his disease. It would seem that he was at once separated from his home, as a man whom none would venture to approach, and was doomed to endure his suffering without sympathy from others.

To scrape himself withal - The word used here גרד gârad has the sense of grating, scraping, sawing; or to scrape or rasp with an edged tool. The same word identically, as to letters, is used at present among the Arabs; meaning to rasp or scrape with any kind of tool. The idea here seems to be, that Job took the pieces of broken pottery that he found among the ashes to scrape himself with.

And he sat down among the ashes - On the expressions of grief among the ancients, see the notes at Job 1:20. The general ideas of mourning among the nations of antiquity seem to have been, to strip off all their ornaments; to put on the coarsest apparel, and to place themselves in the most humiliating positions. To sit on the ground (see the note at Isaiah 3:26), or on a heap of ashes, or a pile of cinders, was a common mode of expressing sorrow; see the note at Isaiah 58:5. To wear sackcloth to shave their heads and their beards and to abstain from pleasant food and from all cheerful society, and to utter loud and long exclamations or shrieks, was also a common mode of indicating grief. The Vulgate renders this "sedates in sterquilinio," "sitting on a dunghill." The Septuagint, "and he took a shell to scrape off the ichor (ἰχῶρα ichōra) the "sanies," or filth produced by a running ulcer, and sat upon the ashes "out of the city,"" implying that his grief was so excessive that he left the city and his friends, and went out to weep alone.

8. a potsherd—not a piece of a broken earthen vessel, but an instrument made for scratching (the root of the Hebrew word is "scratch"); the sore was too disgusting to touch. "To sit in the ashes" marks the deepest mourning (Jon 3:6); also humility, as if the mourner were nothing but dust and ashes; so Abraham (Ge 18:27). He took him a potsherd; partly to allay the itch which his ulcers caused; and partly to squeeze out or take away that purulent matter which was under them, or flowed from them, and was the great cause of his torment. And this he did not with soft linen cloths, either because he had not now a sufficient quantity of them for so much use, or because therein he must have had the help of others, who abhorred to come near him, Job 19:13-15; nor with his own hands or fingers, which were also ulcerous, and so unfit for that use; and besides he loathed to touch himself: but with potsherds, either because they were next at hand, and ready for his present use; or in token of his repentance and deep humiliation under God’s heavy hand, which made him decline all things which favoured of tenderness and delicacy.

Among the ashes, Heb. in dust or ashes, as mourners used to do; of which see Job 42:6 Jonah 3:6 Matthew 11:21.

And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal,.... His mouth was shut, his lips were silent, not one murmuring and repining word came from him, amidst all this anguish and misery he must be in; much less anything that looked like cursing God and blaspheming him, as some are said to do, because of their pains and their sores, Revelation 16:11; but Job bore his with the utmost patience; he took a piece of a broken pot, which perhaps lay in the ashes among which he sat, and scraped himself with it; either as some think to allay the itching, or rather to remove the purulent matter that ran from his boils; which he used instead of linen rags to wipe them with, having no surgeon to come near him, to mollify his ulcers with ointment, to supple them with oil, and lay healing plasters upon them; there were none to do any of these things for him; his maids and his servants, and even his wife, stood at some distance from him; the smell of him might be so nauseous, that it was intolerable, he was obliged to do what was done himself, which is here mentioned; though it seems something strange and unnatural, considering his case; Schmidt thinks that this scraping was done by him as a rite and ceremony used by mourners in those times and countries, and which Job would not omit though his body was full of sores:

and he sat down among the ashes; which was often done in cases of mourning and humiliation, see Jonah 3:6; and which Job did to humble himself under the mighty hand of God upon him; whether these ashes were outside or inside the house is not certain; some think they were outside, and that he had no house to dwell in, nor bed to lie on, nor couch to sit upon, and therefore was obliged to do as he did; but the contrary is evident from Job 7:13; others say, that his disease being the leprosy, he was obliged to sit alone and outside; but it is not certain that that was his disease; and besides, the law concerning lepers did not as yet exist; and had it, it would not have been binding on Job, who was not of the Israelitish nation: the vulgar notion that Job sat upon a dunghill outside the city has no other foundation than the Septuagint version of this passage, which is a wrong one; for his sitting in ashes, there might be a reason in nature, and it might be chosen on account of his disease; for ashes are a drier, and an abstersive of ulcers, and Galen (f) says they are used in fresh wounds to stop the flow of the blood.

(f) De simpl. Med. ad Paternian. apud Schenchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 4. p. 661.

And he took him a {i} potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.

(i) As destitute of all other help and means and wonderfully afflicted with the sorrow of his disease.

8. and he sat down among the ashes] Rather, as he sat among. By the “ashes” is possibly meant (as the Sept. already understands, which translates ἐπὶ τῆς κοπρίας) the Mázbalah, the place outside the Arabic towns where the zibl, that is, dung and other rubbish of the place is thrown. “The dung which is heaped up upon the Mezbele of the Hauran villages is not mixed with straw, which in that warm and dry land is not needed for litter, and it comes mostly from solid-hoofed animals, as the flocks and oxen are left over night in the grazing places. It is carried in baskets in a dry state to this place before the village, and usually burnt once a month … The ashes remain … If the village has been inhabited for centuries the Mezbele reaches a height far overtopping it. The winter rains reduce it into a compact mass, and it becomes by and bye a solid hill of earth … The Mezbele serves the inhabitants for a watchtower, and in the sultry evenings for a place of concourse, because there is a current of air on the height. There all day long the children play about it; and there the outcast, who has been stricken with some loathsome malady, and is not allowed to enter the dwellings of men, lays himself down, begging an alms of the passers-by by day, and by night sheltering himself among the ashes which the heat of the sun has warmed. There too lie the village dogs, perhaps gnawing a fallen carcase, which is often flung there.” Wetzstein in Delitzsch, Comm. on Job , 2 Ed. p. 62 (Trans, vol. II, p. 152).

Verse 8. - And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal. "The surface of the integuments," says Dr. Quain, "is often much inflamed, and sometimes discharges a serous ichor, or chyle-like fluid, according to the extent to which the lymphatics are engaged in the particular ease" (ibid., p. 432). This "serous or lymph-like fluid" is occasionally "acrid and offensive." Job seems to have used his potsherd to scrape it away. And he sat down among the ashes. Not as a curative process, or even as an alleviation of his pains, but simply as was the custom of mourners (comp. Isaiah 47:3; Isaiah 58:5; Jeremiah 6:26; Ezekiel 27:30; Jonah 3:6). The LXX. renders, "on the dung-heap;" but this meaning, if a possible one, is highly improbable. Job 2:8The Working Out of the Commission:

7, 8 Then Satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah, and smote Job with sore boils, from the sole of his foot to his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself with, and sat in the midst of ashes.

The description of this disease calls to mind Deuteronomy 28:35 with Deuteronomy 28:27, and is, according to the symptoms mentioned further on in the book, elephantiasis so called because the limbs become jointless lumps like elephants' legs), Arab. jḏâm, ‛gudhâm, Lat. lepra nodosa, the most fearful form of lepra, which sometimes seizes persons even of the higher ranks. Artapan (C. Mller, Fragm. iii. 222) says, that an Egyptian king was the first man who died of elephantiasis. Baldwin, king of Jerusalem, was afflicted with it in a very dangerous form.

(Note: Vid., the history in Heer, De elephantiasi Graecorum et Arabum, Breslay, 1842, and coloured plates in Trait de la Spdalskhed ou Elephantiasis des Grecs par Danielssen et Boeck, Paris, 1848, translated from the Norwegian; and in Hecker, Elephantiasis oder Lepra Arabica, Lahr, 1858 (with lithographs). "The means of cure," says Aretus the Cappadocian (vid., his writings translated by Mann, 1858, S. 221), "must be more powerful than the disease, if it is to be removed. But what cure can be successfully applied to the fearful evil of elephantiasis? It is not confined to one part, either internally or externally, but takes possession of the entire system. It is terrible and hideous to behold, for it gives a man the appearance of an animal. Every one dreads to live, and have any intercourse, with such invalids; they flee from them as from the plague, for infection is easily communicated by the breath. Where, in the whole range of pharmacy, can such a powerful remedy be found?")

The disease begins with the rising of tubercular boils, and at length resembles a cancer spreading itself over the whole body, by which the body is so affected, that some of the limbs fall completely away. Scraping with a potsherd will not only relieve the intolerable itching of the skin, but also remove the matter. Sitting among ashes is on account of the deep sorrow (comp. Jonah 3:6) into which Job is brought by his heavy losses, especially the loss of his children. The lxx adds that he sat on a dunghill outside the city: the dunghill is taken from the passage Psalm 113:7, and the "outside the city" from the law of the מצרע. In addition to the four losses, a fifth temptation, in the form of a disease incurable in the eye of man, is now come upon Job: a natural disease, but brought on by Satan, permitted, and therefore decreed, by God. Satan does not appear again throughout the whole book. Evil has not only a personal existence in the invisible world, but also its agents and instruments in this; and by these it is henceforth manifested.

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