Job 3:8
Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) That curse the day—i.e., Let those who proclaim days unlucky or accursed curse that day as pre-eminently so; or let them recollect that day as a standard or sample of cursing. “Let it be as cursed as Job’s birth day.”

These people are further described as being ready to arouse leviathan (Authorised Version, “raise up their mourning”), or the crocodile—persons as mad and desperate as that. Let the most hopeless and reckless of mankind select that day as the one which they would choose to curse. This seems to be Job’s meaning.

Job 3:8. Let them curse it that curse the day — That is, their birth-day: when their afflictions move them to curse their own birth-day, let them remember mine also, and bestow some curses upon it; who are ready to raise up their mourning — Who are full of sorrow, and always ready to pour out their cries, and tears, and complaints. A late writer paraphrases this verse as follows: “So little am I concerned to have my birth-night celebrated by any public demonstrations of joy, by any solemn blessing or giving of thanks, that I would rather choose to hire a set of those men, whose business it is to curse the days that are esteemed inauspicious, and who are always ready on such occasions. Let them be produced, and let them apply all their skill in raising their mournful voices to the highest pitch: and let them study to find out proper expressions to load it with the highest and heaviest imprecations.” If the reader will consult Poole and Dodd on the passage, he will find some reasons adduced which go to justify this exposition; but for which we have not room here.3:1-10 For seven days Job's friends sat by him in silence, without offering consolidation: at the same time Satan assaulted his mind to shake his confidence, and to fill him with hard thoughts of God. The permission seems to have extended to this, as well as to torturing the body. Job was an especial type of Christ, whose inward sufferings, both in the garden and on the cross, were the most dreadful; and arose in a great degree from the assaults of Satan in that hour of darkness. These inward trials show the reason of the change that took place in Job's conduct, from entire submission to the will of God, to the impatience which appears here, and in other parts of the book. The believer, who knows that a few drops of this bitter cup are more dreadful than the sharpest outward afflictions, while he is favoured with a sweet sense of the love and presence of God, will not be surprised to find that Job proved a man of like passions with others; but will rejoice that Satan was disappointed, and could not prove him a hypocrite; for though he cursed the day of his birth, he did not curse his God. Job doubtless was afterwards ashamed of these wishes, and we may suppose what must be his judgment of them now he is in everlasting happiness.Let them curse it who curse the day - This entire verse is exceedingly difficult, and many different expositions have been given of it. It seems evident that it refers to some well-known class of persons, who were accustomed to utter imprecations, and were supposed to have the power to render a day propitious or unpropitious - persons who had the power of divination or enchantment. A belief in such a power existed early in the world, and has prevailed in all savage and semi-barbarous nations, and even in nations considerably advanced in civilization. The origin of this was a desire to look into futurity; and in order to accomplish this, a league was supposed to be made with the spirits of the dead, who were acquainted with the events of the invisible world, and who could be prevailed on to impart their knowledge to favored mortals. It was supposed, also, that by such union there might be a power exerted which would appear to be miraculous.

Such persons also claimed to be the favorites of heaven, and to be endowed with control over the elements, and over the destiny of men; to have the power to bless and to curse, to render propitious or calamitous. Balsaam was believed to be endowed with this power, and hence, he was sent for by Balak, king of Moab, to curse the Israelites; Numbers 22:5-6; see the notes at Isaiah 8:19. The practice of cursing the day, or cursing the sun, is said by Herodotus to have prevailed among a people of Africa, whom he calls the Atlantes, living in the vicinity of Mount Atlas. "Of all mankind," says he, "of whom we have any knowledge, the Atlantes alone have no distinction of names; the body of the people are termed Atlantes, but their individuals have no appropriate appellation. When the sun is at the highest they heap on it reproaches and execrations, because their country and themselves are parched by its rays; book iv. 184. The same account of them is found in Pliny, Nat. His. v. 8: Solem orientem occidentemque dira imprecatione contuentur, ut exitialem ipsis agrisque. See also Strabo, Lib. xvii. p. 780. Some have supposed, also, that there may be an allusion here to a custom which seems early to have prevailed of hiring people to mourn for the dead, and who probably in their official lamentation bewailed or cursed the day of their calamity; compare Jeremiah 9:17; 2 Chronicles 35:25. But the correct interpretation is doubtless that which refers it to pretended prophets, priests, or diviners - who were supposed to have power to render a day one of ill omen. Such a power Job wished exerted over that unhappy night when he was born. He desired that the curses of those who had power to render a day unpropitious or unlucky, should rest upon it.

Who are ready to raise up their mourning - This is not very intelligible, and it is evident that our translators were embarrassed by the passage. They seem to have supposed that there was an allusion here to the practice of employing professional mourners, and that the idea is, that Job wished that they might be employed to howl over the day as inauspicious, or as a day of ill omen. The margin is, as in the Hebrew, "a leviathan." The word rendered "ready" עתידים ‛âthı̂ydı̂ym, means properly ready, prepared; and then practiced or skillful. This is the idea here, that they were practiced or skillful in calling up the "leviathan;" see Schultens "in loc." The word rendered in the text "mourning," and in the margin "leviathan" לויתן lı̂vyâthân, in all other parts of the sacred Scriptures denotes an animal; see it explained in the notes at Isaiah 27:1, and more fully in the notes at Job 41:It usually denotes the crocodile, or some huge sea monster.

Here it is evidently used to represent the most fierce, powerful and frightful of all the animals known, and the allusion is to some power claimed by necromancers to call forth the most terrific monsters at their will from distant places, from the "vasty deep," from morasses and impenetrable forests. The general claim was, that they had control over all nature; that they could curse the day, and make it of ill omen, and that the most mighty and terrible of land or sea monsters were entirely under their control. If they had such a power, Job wished that they would exercise it to curse the night in which he was born. On what pretensions they founded this claim is unknown. The power, however, of taming serpents, is practiced in India at this day; and jugglers bear around with them the most deadly of the serpent race, having extracted their fangs, and creating among the credulous the belief that they have control over the most noxious animals. Probably some such art was claimed by the ancients. and to some such pretension Job alludes here.

8. them … curse the day—If "mourning" be the right rendering in the latter clause of this verse, these words refer to the hired mourners of the dead (Jer 9:17). But the Hebrew for "mourning" elsewhere always denotes an animal, whether it be the crocodile or some huge serpent (Isa 27:1), such as is meant by "leviathan." Therefore, the expression, "cursers of day," refers to magicians, who were believed to be able by charms to make a day one of evil omen. (So Balaam, Nu 22:5). This accords with Umbreit's view (Job 3:7); or to the Ethiopians and Atlantes, who "used to curse the sun at his rising for burning up them and their country" [Herodotus]. Necromancers claimed power to control or rouse wild beasts at will, as do the Indian serpent-charmers of our day (Ps 58:5). Job does not say they had the power they claimed; but, supposing they had, may they curse the day. Schuttens renders it by supplying words as follows:—Let those that are ready for anything, call it (the day) the raiser up of leviathan, that is, of a host of evils. That curse the day, i.e. their day, to wit, their birthday; for the pronoun is here omitted for the metre’s sake; for this and the following chapters are written in verse, as all grant. So the sense is, when their afflictions move them to curse their own birthday, let them remember mine also, and bestow some curses upon it. Or the day of their distress and trouble, which sometimes is called simply the day, as Obadiah 1:12. Or the day of the birth or death of that person, whose funerals are celebrated by the hired mourners, who in their solemn lamentations used to curse the day that gave them such a person, whom they should so suddenly lose; and therefore it had been better never to have enjoyed him, and to curse the day in which he died as an unlucky and execrable day. Or, the day, i.e. the daylight; which to some persons is a hateful thing, and the object of their curses, namely, to lewd persons and thieves, to whom the morning light is even as the shadow of death, Job 24:17; as also to persons oppressed with deep melancholy, as it is here implied, Job 3:20. So the sense is this, They who use to curse the day only, but generally love and bless the night, yet let this night be as abominable and execrable to them as the day-time generally is.

Who are ready to raise up their mourning; who are brimful of sorrow, and always ready to pour out their cries, and tears, and complaints, and with them curses, as men in great passions frequently do; or, such mourning men, or mourning women, whose common employment it was, and who were hired to mourn, and therefore were always ready to do so upon funeral occasions; of which see 2 Chronicles 35:25 Jeremiah 9:17,18,20 Eze 30:2 Joel 1:15 Amos 5:16 Matthew 9:23. And this sense suits with the use of the last word in Hebrew writers, of which a plain and pertinent instance is given by the learned Mercer. But because that word is commonly used in another sense for the leviathan, both in this book and elsewhere in Scripture, as Psalm 74:14 104:26 Isaiah 27:1, and because this very phrase of raising the leviathan is used afterward, Job 41:25, others render the words thus, who are prepared or ready to raise the leviathan. It is evident that the leviathan was a great and dreadful fish, or sea monster, though there be some disagreement about its kind or quality, and that the raising of or endeavouring to catch the leviathan was a dangerous and terrible work, as is plain from Job 41. And therefore those seamen who have been generally noted for great swearers and cursers, especially when their passions of rage or fear are raised, being now labouring to catch this sea monster, and finding themselves and their vessel in great danger from him, they fall to their old trade of swearing and cursing, and curse the day wherein they were born, and the day in which they ventured upon this most hazardous and terrible work. Others understand this leviathan mystically, as it is used Isaiah 27:1, for the great enemy of God’s church and people, called there also the dragon, to wit, the devil, whom the magicians both now do, and formerly did, use to raise with fearful curses and imprecations. Not as if Job did justify this practice, but only it is a rash and passionate wish, that they who pour forth so many curses undeservedly, would bestow their deserved curses upon this day. Let them curse it that curse the day,.... Their own day, either their birthday, or any day on which evil befalls them; and now such as are used to this, Job would have them, while they were cursing their own day, to throw some curses upon his; or that curse the daylight in general, as adulterers and murderers, who are said to rebel against the light, see Job 24:13; and as some Ethiopians, who lived near Arabia, and so known to Job, who supposed there was no God, and used to curse the sun when it rose and set, as various writers relate (g), called by others (h) Atlantes; or it may design such persons who were hired at funerals, to mourn for the dead, and who, in their doleful ditties and dirges, used to curse the day on which the person was born whom they lamented; or it may be rather the day on which he died; hence it follows:

who are ready to raise up their mourning; who were expert at the business, and who could raise up a howl, as the Irish now do, or make a lamentation for the dead when they pleased; such were the mourning women in Jeremiah 9:17; and those that were skilful of lamentation, Amos 5:16; some render the words, "who are ready to raise up Leviathan" (i), and interpret it either of the whale, which, when raised up by the fishermen, they are in danger of their vessels being overturned, and their lives lost, and then they curse the day that ever they entered into such service, and exposed themselves to such danger; or of fish in general, and of fishermen cursing and swearing when they are unsuccessful: some understand this of astrologers, magicians, and enchanters, raising spirits, and particularly the devil, who they think is meant by Leviathan; but it seems best with a little alteration from Gussetius, and Schultens after him, to render the words thus,"let the cursers of the day fix a name upon it; let those that are ready "to anything, call it" the raiser up of Leviathan;''that is, let such who either of themselves are used to curse days, or are employed by others to do it, brand this night with some mark of infamy; let them ascribe all dreadful calamities and dismal things unto it, as the source and spring of them; which may be signified by Leviathan, that being a creature most formidable and terrible, of which an account is given in the latter part of this book; but many Jewish writers (k) render it "mourning", as we do.

(g) Diodor. Sic. l. 3. p. 148. Strabo, Geograph. l. 17. P. 565. (h) Herodot. Melpomene, sive, l. 4. c. 184. Mela de Situ Orbis, l. 1. c. 8. Solin. Polyhistor, c. 44. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 8. (i) "Leviathanem", Schmidt, Michaelis. Mr. Broughton renders the words, "who hunt Leviathan." (k) Vid. Aben Ezram & Gersom in loc. R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 1. 1. Aruch in voce So the word is used, T. Hieros. Moed Katon, fol. 80. 4.

Let them curse it that curse the day, who are {f} ready to raise up their mourning.

(f) Who curse the day of their birth, let them lay that curse on this night.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. The most probable sense of this verse is,

Let them that curse days curse it,

Them that are skilled to rouse up the Dragon.

They that curse days or the day are enchanters and magicians, who were believed to have power to cast their spells upon a day and overwhelm it with darkness and misfortune. Perhaps, however, the first half of the verse is explained by the second, and only one species of enchantment referred to, namely, rousing up the Dragon. The Heb. word is leviathan. This name is given in ch. 41 to a sea or river monster, probably, the crocodile, but it is difficult to find any logical connexion between rousing up the crocodile and cursing days. The word leviathan means twisted or having folds, and is an epithet for a serpent. In Isaiah 27:1 we read: In that day Jehovah with his sore and great and strong sword shall visit leviathan the fleeing serpent, and leviathan the serpent with coils. The key to the meaning of the verse, however, is found in Job 26:13, which rightly rendered means,

By His breath the heavens become bright,

His hand pierceth the fleeing serpent.

Here piercing the fleeing serpent and making the heavens clear are parallel acts. The fleeing serpent, therefore, was the cause of the darkness. In both passages in Job there is an allusion to the popular mythology, according to which the darkening or eclipse of the sun and moon was caused by the serpent throwing its folds around them, or swallowing them up. In its origin this mythology is probably nothing more than a stroke of the poetic imagination, which turned the dark cloud or eclipsing shadow into a huge Dragon. Enchanters were supposed to have power to set this Dragon in motion, and cause the lights of day or night to be swallowed up.Verse 8. - Let them curse it that curse the day. Very different explanations are given of this passage. Some suppose it to mean, "Let those desperate men curse it who are in the habit of cursing their day," like Job himself (Job 3:1) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:14). Others suggest a reference to such as claimed power to curse days, and to divide them into the lucky and the unlucky. In this case Job would mean, "Let the sorcerers who curse days curse especially this day," and would thus seem, if not to sanction the practice, at any rate to express a certain amount of belief in the sorcerers' power. The second clause has also a double interpretation, which adapts it to either of these two suggested meanings (vide infra). Who are ready to raise up their mourning. This is an impossible rendering. Translate (with the Revised Version), who are ready to rouse up leviathan. "Rousing leviathan" may be understood in two ways. It may be regarded as spoken in the literal sense of those who are rash enough and desperate enough to stir up the fury of the crocodile (see the comment on Job 41:1), or in a metaphorical sense of such as stir up to action by their sorceries the great power of evil, symbolized in Oriental mythologies by a huge serpent, or dragon, or crocodile. On the whole, the second and deeper sense seems preferable; and we may conceive of Job as believing in the power of sorcery, and wishing it used against the night which he so much dislikes. Job 3:2 consists only of three words, which are separated by Rebia; and ויאמר, although Milel, is vocalized ויּאמר, because the usual form ויּאמר, which always immediately precedes direct narration, is not well suited to close the verse. ענה, signifies to begin to speak from some previous incitement, as the New Testament ἀποκρίνεσθαι (not always equals השׁיב) is also sometimes used.

(Note: Vid., on this use of ἀποκρίνεσθαι, Quaestio xxi. of the Amphilochia of Photius in Ang. Maji Collectio, i.229f.)

The following utterance of Job, with which the poetic accentuation begins, is analysed by modern critics as follows: Job 3:3-10, Job 3:11-19, Job 3:20-26. Schlottmann calls it three strophes, Hahn three parts, in the first of which delirious cursing of life is expressed; in the second, eager longing for death; in the third, reproachful inquiry after the end of such a life of suffering. In reality they are not strophes. Nevertheless Ebrard is wrong when he maintains that, in general, strophe-structure is as little to be found in the book of Job as in Wallenstein's Monologue. The poetical part of the book of Job is throughout strophic, so far as the nature of the drama admits it. So also even this first speech. Stickel has correctly traced out its divisions; but accidentally, for he has reckoned according to the Masoretic verses. That this is false, he is now fully aware; also Ewald, in his Essay on Strophes in the Book of Job, is almost misled into this groundless reckoning of the strophes according to the Masoretic verses (Jahrb. iii. X. 118, Anm. 3). The strophe-schema of the following speech is as follows: 8. 10. 6. 8. 6. 8. 6. The translation will show how unmistakeably it may be known. In the translation we have followed the complete lines of the original, and their rhythm: the iambic pentameter into which Ebrard, and still earlier Hosse (1849), have translated, disguises the oriental Hebrew poetry of the book with its variegated richness of form in a western uniform, the monotonous impression of which is not, as elsewhere, counter-balanced in the book of Job by the change of external action. After the translation we give the grammatical explanation of each strophe; and at the conclusion of the speech thus translated and explained, its higher exposition, i.e., its artistic importance in the connection of the drama, and its theological importance in relation to the Old and New Testament religion and religious life.

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