Job 23:4
I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
23:1-7 Job appeals from his friends to the just judgement of God. He wants to have his cause tried quickly. Blessed be God, we may know where to find him. He is in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself; and upon a mercy-seat, waiting to be gracious. Thither the sinner may go; and there the believer may order his cause before Him, with arguments taken from his promises, his covenant, and his glory. A patient waiting for death and judgment is our wisdom and duty, and it cannot be without a holy fear and trembling. A passionate wishing for death or judgement is our sin and folly, and ill becomes us, as it did Job.I would order my cause before him - Compare the notes at Isaiah 43:26. That is, I would arrange my arguments, or plead my cause, as one does in a court of justice. I would suggest the considerations which would show that I am not guilty in the sense charged by my friends, and that notwithstanding my calamities, I am the real friend of God.

And fill my mouth with arguments - Probably he means that he would appeal to the evidence furnished by a life of benevolence and justice, that he was not a hypocrite or a man of distinguished wickedness, as his friends maintained.

4. order—state methodically (Job 13:18; Isa 43:26).

fill, &c.—I would have abundance of arguments to adduce.

I would orderly declare the things which concern and prove the right of my cause; not only debating the controversy between my friends and me, concerning my sincerity or hypocrisy before God, as a witness or judge; but also pleading with God as a party, and modestly inquiring whether he doth not deal more rigorously with me than I might reasonably expect, wherein I desire no other judge but himself.

Fill my mouth with arguments, to prove my innocency and sincerity towards God, and consequently that am severely used.

I would order my cause before him,.... Either, as a praying person, direct his prayer to him, and set it in order before him, see Psalm 5:3; or else as pleading in his own defence, and in justification of himself; not of his person before God, setting his works of righteousness in order before him, and pleading his justification on the foot of them; for, by these no flesh living can be justified before God; but of his cause, for, as a man may vindicate his cause before men, and clear himself from aspersions cast upon him, as Samuel did, 1 Samuel 12:5; so he may before God, with respect to the charges he is falsely loaded with, and may appeal to him for justice, and desire he would stir up himself, and awake to his judgment, even to his cause, and plead it against those that strive with him, as David did, Psalm 35:1;

and fill my mouth with arguments; either in prayer, as a good man may; not with such as are taken from his goodness and righteousness, but from the person, office, grace, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice of Christ, and from the declarations of God's grace, and the promises of his word; or else as in a court of judicature, bringing forth his strong reasons, and giving proofs of his innocence, such as would be demonstrative, even convincing to all that should hear, and be not only proofs for him, and in his favour, but reproofs also, as the word (c) signifies, to those that contended with him.

(c) "increpationibus", V. L. and so Montanus, Beza, Mercerus, Drusius, Schultens.

I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 4. - I would order my cause before him. Job has put away the feelings of shame and diffidence, which were predominant with him when he said, "How should man be just with God? If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand" (Job 9:2, 3); and again, "How much less shall I answer him, and cheese out my words to reason with him? Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer; but I would make my supplication to my Judge" (Job 9:14, 15). He now wishes to contend and argue and reason. This is quite in accordance with our experience. Many am the moods of man - various and conflicting his desires! His mind never continues long in one stay. And fill my mouth with arguments (comp. Psalm 38:14, where our translators render the same word by "reproofs," but where "arguments" or "pleadings" would be more appropriate). The LXX. has there ἐλεγμοὶ, and in the present passage ἔλεγχοι. The word is forensic. Job 23:4 1 Then began Job, and said:

2 Even to-day my complaint still biddeth defiance,

My hand lieth heavy upon my groaning.

3 Oh that I knew where I might find Him,

That I might come even to His dwelling-place!

4 I would lay the cause before Him,

And fill my mouth with arguments:

5 I should like to know the words He would answer me,

And attend to what He would say to me.

Since מרי (for which the lxx reads ἐκ τοῦ χειρός μου, מידי; Ew. מידו, from his hand) usually elsewhere signifies obstinacy, it appears that Job 23:2 ought to be explained: My complaint is always accounted as rebellion (against God); but by this rendering Job 23:2 requires some sort of expletive, in order to furnish a connected thought: although the hand which is upon me stifles my groaning (Hirz.); or, according to another rendering of the על: et pourtant mes gmissements n'galent pas mes souffrances (Renan. Schlottm.). These interpretations are objectionable on account of the artificial restoration of the connection between the two members of the verse, which they require; they lead one to expect וידי (as a circumstantial clause: lxx, Cod. Vat. καὶ ἡ χεὶρ αὐτοῦ). As the words stand, it is to be supposed that the definition of time, גּם־היּום (even to-day still, as Zechariah 9:12), belongs to both divisions of the verse. How, then, is מרי to be understood? If we compare Job 7:11; Job 10:1, where מר, which is combined with שׂיח, signifies amarum equals amartiduo, it is natural to take מרי also in the signification amaritudo, acerbitas (Targ., Syr., Jer.); and this is also possible, since, as is evident from Exodus 23:21, comp. Zechariah 12:10, the verbal forms מרר and מרה run into one another, as they are really cognates.

(Note: מרר and מרה both spring from the root מר [vid. supra, p. 396, note], with the primary signification stringere, to beat, rub, draw tight. Hence Arab. mârrâ, to touch lightly, smear upon (to go by, over, or through, to move by, etc.), but also stringere palatum, of an astringent taste, strong in taste, to be bitter, opp. Arab. ḥalâ, soft and mild in taste, to be sweet, as in another direction חלה, to be loose, weak, sick, both from the root Arab. ḥl in ḥalla, solvit, laxavit. From the signification to be tight come amarra, to stretch tight, istamarra, to stretch one's self tight, to draw one's self out in this state of tension - of things in time, to continue unbroken; mirreh, string, cord; מרה, to make and hold one's self tight against any one, i.e., to be obstinate: originally of the body, as Arab. mârrâ, tamârrâ, to strengthen themselves in the contest against one another; then of the mind, as Arab. mârâ, tamârâ, to struggle against anything, both outwardly by contradiction and disputing, and inwardly by doubt and unbelief. - Fl.)

But it is more satisfactory, and more in accordance with the relation of the two divisions of the verse, if we keep to the usual signification of מרי; not, however, understanding it of obstinacy, revolt, rebellion (viz., in the sense of the friends), but, like moreh, 2 Kings 14:26) which describes the affliction as stiff-necked, obstinate), of stubbornness, defiance, continuance in opposition, and explain with Raschi: My complaint is still always defiance, i.e., still maintains itself in opposition, viz., against God, without yielding (Hahn, Olsh.: unsubmitting); or rather: against such exhortations to penitence as those which Eliphaz has just addressed to him. In reply to these, Job considers his complain to be well justified even to-day, i.e., even now (for it is not, with Ewald, to be imagined that, in the mind of the poet, the controversy extends over several days, - an idea which would only be indicated by this one word).

In Job 23:2 he continues the same thought under a different form of expression. My hand lies heavy on my groaning, i.e., I hold it immoveably fast (as Fleischer proposes to take the words); or better: I am driven to a continued utterance of it.

(Note: The idea might also be: My hand presses my groaning back (because it would be of no use to me); but Job 23:2 is against this, and the Arab. kamada, to restrain inward pain, anger, etc. by force (e.g., mât kemed, he died from suppressed rage or anxiety), has scarcely any etymological connection with כבד.)

continued...

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