Job 31:35
Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book.
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(35) Oh that one would hear me!—The rendering noticed in the margin is probably the right one—Oh that I had one to hear me! Lo, here is my mark! i.e., my signature, my declaration, which I am ready to subscribe; and oh that mine adversary had written a book! More correctly, perhaps, “That I had the book or indictment that my adversary hath written; would that I had it in black and white before me, that I might deal with it accordingly, and answer it point to point.” Here, then, is the same deviation from strict sequence of order that we observed in Job 29:18. Job 31:35-37 ought to come after Job 31:38-40; but the writer’s ideas of symmetry and order were not as ours, and this, in some respects, may be more natural, though, strictly speaking, less correct.

Job 31:35. O that one would hear me! — O that I might have my cause heard by any just and impartial judge! Behold, my desires, &c. — So the Vulgate and the Targum understand תוי, tavi, here, deriving it from אוה, ivvah, he desired, he coveted. Some, however, deriving it from תוה, tivvah, to mark, to design, to define, render the clause, Lo, here is my sign, mark, or pledge, namely, that I will stand the trial. But the former seems to be the true sense, and is approved by A. Ezra and R. Levi. That the Almighty would answer me — Answer my desire herein, either by hearing me himself, or by appointing some impartial person to judge whether I be such a hypocrite as my friends make me, or an upright person. And that mine adversary — Whosoever he be that shall contend with, or accuse me; had written a book — Had put down in writing the charges he has against me, and brought them in. He alludes to what is usual in judicial proceedings. This shows that letters were in use in Job’s time.

31:33-40 Job clears himself from the charge of hypocrisy. We are loth to confess our faults, willing to excuse them, and to lay the blame upon others. But he that thus covers his sins, shall not prosper, Pr 28:13. He speaks of his courage in what is good, as an evidence of his sincerity in it. When men get estates unjustly, they are justly deprived of comfort from them; it was sown wheat, but shall come up thistles. What men do not come honestly by, will never do them any good. The words of Job are ended. They end with a bold assertion, that, with respect to accusation against his moral and religious character as the cause for his sufferings, he could appeal to God. But, however confident Job was, we shall see he was mistaken, chap. 40:4,5; 1Jo 1:8. Let us all judge ourselves; wherein we are guilty, let us seek forgiveness in that blood which cleanseth from all sin; and may the Lord have mercy upon us, and write his laws in our hearts!O that one would hear me! - This refers undoubtedly to God. It is, literally, "Who will give to me one hearing me;" and the wish is that which he has so often expressed, that he might get his cause fairly before God. He feels assured that there would be a favorable verdict, if there could be a fair judicial investigation; compare the notes at Job 13:3.

Behold, my desire is - Margin, "Or, my sign is that 'the Almighty will answer me.'" The word rendered in the text desire, and in the margin sign, (תו tâv), means properly a mark, or sign, and is also the name of the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Then the word means, according to Gesenius (Lex.), a mark, or cross, as subscribed to a bill of complaint; hence, the bill itself, or, as we should say, the pleading. According to this, Job means to say that he was ready for trial, and that there was his bill of complaint, or his pleading, or his bill of defense. So Herder renders it, "See my defense." Coverdale, "Lo, this is my cause." Miss Smith renders it, "Behold my gage!" Umbreit, Meinel Kagschrift - My accusation. There can be no doubt that it refers to the forms of a judicial investigation, and that the idea is, that Job was ready for the trial. "Here" says he, "is my defense, my argument, my pleading, my bill! I wait that my adversary should come to the trial." The name used here as given to the bill or pleading (תו tâv, mark, or sign), probably had its origin from the fact that some mark was affixed to it - of some such significance as a seal - by which it was certified to be the real bill of the party, and by which he acknowledged it as his own. This might have been done by signing his name, or by some conventional mark that was common in those times.

That the Almighty would answer me - That is, answer me as on trial; that the cause might be fairly brought to an issue. This wish he had frequently expressed.

And that mine adversary - God; regarded as the opposite party in the suit.

Had written a book - Or, would write down his charge. The wish is, that what God had against him were in like manner entered in a bill or pleading that the charge might be fairly investigated. On the word book, compare the notes at Job 19:23. It means here a pleading in court, a bill, or charge against anyone. There is no irreverence in the language here. Job is anxious that his true character should be investigated, and that the great matter at issue should be determined; and he draws his language and illustrations from well-known practices in courts of law.

35. Job returns to his wish (Job 13:22; 19:23). Omit "is"; "Behold my sign," that is, my mark of subscription to the statements just given in my defense: the mark of signature was originally a cross; and hence the letter Tau or T. Translate, also "Oh, that the Almighty," &c. He marks "God" as the "One" meant in the first clause.

adversary—that is, he who contends with me, refers also to God. The vagueness is designed to express "whoever it be that judicially opposes me"—the Almighty if it be He.

had written a book—rather, "would write down his charge."

Oh that one would hear me! Oh that I might have my cause heard by any just and impartial judge!

That the Almighty would answer me, i.e. answer my desire herein; either by hearing me himself, or by appointing some indifferent person to judge whether I be such a hypocrite as my friends make me, or an upright person, and whether I have not cause to complain.

Mine adversary; whosoever he be that shall contend with me, or accuse me, God himself not excepted, nay, possibly being chiefly intended, though for reverence to him he forbore to express it. So this is another of Job’s irreverent and presumptuous expressions, for which he is so sharply reproved afterwards.

Had written a book, i.e. had given me his charge written in a book or paper, as the manner was in judicial proceedings, that I might put in my answer into the court, which I am ready to do.

Oh, that one would hear me!.... Or, "who will give me a hearer?" (l) Oh, that I had one! not a nearer of him as a teacher and instructor of many, as he had been, Job 4:3; or only to hear what he had delivered in this chapter; but to hear his cause, and hear him plead his own cause in a judiciary way; he does not mean an ordinary hearer, one that, comes out of curiosity into courts of judicature to hear causes tried, what is said on both sides, and how they will issue; but, as Bar Tzemach paraphrases it,

"who shall give me a judge that shall hear me,''

that would hear his cause patiently, examine it thoroughly, and judge impartially, which is the business of judges to do, Deuteronomy 1:16; he did not care who it was, if he had but such an one; though he seems to have respect to God himself, from what he says in the next clause, and wishes that he would but hear, try, and judge his cause:

behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me: answer to what he had said, or had further to say in his own defence; this is a request he had made before, and now repeats it, see Job 13:22; some render it, "behold my mark", or "scope" (m); so Mr. Broughton, "behold my scope in this"; this is what I aim at, what I design and mean by wishing for an hearer, that the Almighty himself would take the cause in hand, and give me an answer: or, "behold my sign" (n); the sign of my innocence, appealing to God, leaving my cause to be heard, tried, and judged by him, who is my witness, and will answer for me; see Job 16:19; as well as desiring mine adversary to put down in writing what he has against me; or, "behold my signature" (o); the plea I have given is signed by my own hand: now "let the Almighty answer me"; a bold expression indeed, and a making too free with the Almighty, and was one of those speeches Job was to be blamed for, and for which he was after humbled and repented of:

and that mine adversary had written a book; or "the man of my contention" (p): either that contended for him, as Aben Ezra, that pleaded for him, was his advocate in court, whom he would have take a brief of him, and so distinctly plead his cause; or rather that contended against him, a court adversary, by whom he means either his three friends, or some one of them, whom he more especially took for his enemy; see Job 16:9; and who he wishes had brought a bill of indictment, and put down in a book, on a paper in writing, the charge he had against him; that so it might be clearly known what could be alleged against him; and that it might be particularly and distinctly examined; when he doubted not but he should be able to give a full answer to every article in it; and that the very bill itself would carry in it a justification of him: or it may be, rather he means God himself, who carried it towards him as an adversary, at least in a providential way; he had before requested that be would show him wherefore he contended with him, Job 10:2; and now he desires he would give in writing his charge against him, being fully confident, that if he had but the opportunity of answering to it before him, he should be able sufficiently to vindicate himself; and that he should come off with honour, as follows.

(l) "quis dabit mihi audientem me?" Montanus; "utinam sit mihi auditor", Tigurine version. (m) "en scopum meum", Junius & Tremellius. (n) "Ecce signum meum", Pagninus, Montanus, Beza, Bolducius; so Ben Gersom. (o) "En Signaturam meam", Schultens. (p) "vir litis meae", Montanus, Beza, Bolducius, Drusius, Michaelis; so Vatablus, Mercerus.

Oh that one would hear me! behold, my {a} desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book.

(a) This is a sufficient token of my righteousness, that God is my witness and will justify my cause.

35. The words “one that would hear me,” though spoken generally, refer of course to God. It is He that Job desires to hear him. In the third clause he names Him his adversary, i. e. opponent in the plea concerning his innocence. And he desires that he had the charge, Heb. book, i. e. the libellus, libel or indictment, which his accuser had written and handed in against him. The middle clause consists of two exclamations which force themselves in between the two parts of the wish which he expresses. By the first, behold my signature, Job means to say that he affixes his signature to all the protestations of his innocence just made in the preceding verses of the chapter, and attests them as his plea on his side. By the other, let the Almighty answer me, he challenges God, his accuser, to put in His plea in answer to his own. The language is evidently taken from the judicial practice of the time, according to which both charge and defence were laid before the court in writing. This is known to have been the practice in Egypt, though perhaps in many parts of the East the proceedings may have been oral. The word signature or sign (Ezekiel 9:4) is tav in Heb. This is the name of the letter T, the old form of which was a cross, but the inference that Job’s signature, or that signatures in his time, had the form of a cross is scarcely warranted.

Verse 35. - Oh that one would hear me! i.e. Oh that I had an opportunity of plea, ling my cause before a just judge l of having charges openly brought against me, and having "one" to hear my reply to them! Job does not regard his "comforters" as such persons. They are prejudiced; they have even made themselves his accusers. Behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me; rather, behold here is my signature I let the Almighty answer me. This passage is parenthetic. Job would prefer to be judged by God, if it were possible, and therefore throws out the wish. Here is his plea in ch. 29-31; and here is his attestation by word of mouth, which is equivalent to his signature. And that mine adversary had written a book; or, had penned an indictment against me. Job would have matters brought to an issue. In default of a Divine trial and sentence, which he cannot expect, it would suffice tot him that his arraigner should formally draw out his list of charges, and present him with a copy, and so give him an opportunity of making answer to it. If this were done, then (he says) - Job 31:3535 O that I had one who would hear me!

Behold my signature-the Almighty will answer me -

And the writing which my opponent hath written!

36 Truly I will carry it upon my shoulder,

I will wind it about me as a crown.

37 The number of my steps I will recount to Him,

As a prince will I draw near to Him.

The wish that he might find a ready willing hearer is put forth in a general way, but, as is clear in itself, and as it becomes manifest from what follows, refers to Him who, because it treats of a contradiction between the outward appearance and the true but veiled fact, as searcher of the heart, is the only competent judge. It may not be translated: et libellum (the indictment, or even: the reply to Job's self-defence) scribat meus adversarius (Dachselt, Rosenm., Welte) - the accentuation seems to proceed from this rendering, but it ought to be וכתב ספר; if כּתב governed by יענני were intended to be equivalent to יכתּב, and referred to God, the longing would be, as it runs, an unworthy and foolish one - nor: (O that I had one who would hear me ... ) and had the indictment, which my adversary has written (Ew., Hirz., Schlottm.) - for וספר is too much separated from מי יתּן by what intervenes - in addition to which comes the consideration that the wish, as it is expressed, cannot be referred to God, but only to the human opponent, whose accusations Job has no occasion to wish to hear, since he has already heard amply sufficient even in detail. Therefore הן (instead of הן with a conjunctive accent, as otherwise with Makkeph) will point not merely to תּוי, but also to liber quem scripsit adversarius meus as now lying before them, and the parenthetical שׁדּי יענני will express a desire for the divine decision in the cause now formally prepared for trial, ripe for discussion. By תּוי, my sign, i.e., my signature (comp. Ezekiel 9:4, and Arab. tiwa, a branded sign in the form of a cross), Job intends the last word to his defence which he has just spoken, Job 31:1; it is related to all his former confessions as a confirmatory mark set below them; it is his ultimatum, as it were, the letter and seal to all that he has hitherto said about his innocence in opposition to the friends and God. Moreover, he also has the indictment of the triumvirate which has come forward as his opponent in his hands. Their so frequently repeated verbal accusations are fixed as if written; both - their accusation and his defence - lie before him, as it were, in the documentary form of legal writings. Thus, then, he wishes an observant impartial hearer for this his defence; or more exactly: he wishes that the Almighty may answer, i.e., decide. Hahn interprets just as much according to the syntax, but understanding by תוי the witness which Job carries in his breast, and by ספר וגו the testimony to his innocence written by God in his own consciousness; which is inadmissible, because, as we have often remarked already, אישׁ ריבי (comp. Job 16:21) cannot be God himself.

In Job 31:36 Job now says how he will appear before Him with this indictment of his opponent, if God will only condescend to speak the decisive word. He will wear it upon his shoulder as a mark of his dignity (comp. Isaiah 22:22; Isaiah 9:5), and wind it about him as a magnificent crown of diadems intertwined and heaped up one above another (Revelation 19:12, comp. Khler on Zechariah 6:11) - confident of his victory at the outset; for he will give Him, the heart-searcher, an account of all his steps, and in the exalted consciousness of his innocence, he will approach Him as a prince (קרב intensive of Kal). How totally different from Adam, who was obliged to be drawn out of his hiding-place, and tremblingly, because conscious of guilt, underwent the examination of the omniscient God! Job is not conscious of cowardly and slyly hidden sins; no secret accursed thing is cherished in the inmost recesses of his heart and home.

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