Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Then Job answered and said,1 Then Job began, and said:
2 Yea, indeed, I know it is thus,
And how should a man be just with God!
3 Should he wish to contend with God,
He could not answer Him one of a thousand.
4 The wise in heart and mighty in strength,
Who hath defied Him and remained unhurt?
Job does not (Job 9:1) refer to what Eliphaz said (Job 4:17), which is similar, though still not exactly the same; but "indeed I know it is so" must be supposed to be an assert to that which Bildad had said immediately before. The chief thought of Bildad's speech was, that God does not pervert what is right. Certainly (אמנם, scilicet, nimirum, like Job 12:2), - says Job, as he ironically confirms this maxim of Bildad's, - it is so: what God does is always right, because God does it; how could man maintain that he is in the right in opposition to God! If God should be willing to enter into controversy with man, he would not be able to give Him information on one of a thousand subjects that might be brought into discussion; he would be so confounded, so disarmed, by reason of the infinite distance of the feeble creature from his Creator. The attributes (Job 9:4) belong not to man (Olshausen), but to God, as Job 36:5. God is wise of heart (לב equals νοῦς) in putting one question after another, and mighty in strength in bringing to nought every attempt man may make to maintain his own right; to defy Him (הקשׁה, to harden, i.e., ערף, the neck), therefore, always tends to the discomfiture of him who dares to bid Him defiance.
I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?
If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand.
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?
Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger.5 Who removeth mountains without their knowing,
That He hath overturned them in His wrath;
6 Who causeth the earth to shake out of its place,
And its pillars to tremble;
7 Who commandeth the sun, and it riseth not,
And sealeth up the stars.
ידעוּ ולא (Job 9:5) may also be translated: without one's perceiving it or knowing why; but it is more natural to take the mountains as the subject. אשׁר, quod, that (not "as," Ewald, 333, a), after ידע, as Ezekiel 20:26; Ecclesiastes 8:12. Even the lofty mountains are quite unconscious of the change which He effects on them in a moment. Before they are aware that it is being done, it is over, as the praet. implies; the destructive power of His anger is irresistible, and effects its purpose suddenly. He causes the earth to start up from its place (comp. Isaiah 13:13) which it occupies in space (Job 26:7); and by being thus set in motion by Him, its pillars tremble, i.e., its internal foundations (Psalm 104:5), which are removed from human perception (Job 38:6). It is not the highest mountains, which are rather called the pillars, as it were the supports, of heaven (Job 26:11), that are meant. By the same almighty will He disposes of the sun and stars. The sun is here called חרס (as in Judges 14:18 חרסה with unaccented ah, and as Isaiah 19:18 ‛Ir ha-Heres is a play upon החרס עיר, Ἡλιούπολις), perhaps from the same root as חרוּץ, one of the poetical names of gold. At His command the sun rises not, and He seals up the stars, i.e., conceals them behind thick clouds, so that the day becomes dark, and the night is not made bright. One may with Schultens think of the Flood, or with Warburton of the Egyptian darkness, and the standing still of the sun at the word of Joshua; but these are only single historical instances of a fact here affirmed as a universal experience of the divine power.
Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.
Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.
Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.8 Who alone spreadeth out the heavens,
And walketh upon the heights of the sea;
9 Who made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades,
And the chambers of the south;
10 Who doeth great things past finding out,
And wondrous things without number.
Ewald, Hirzel, and others, understand נטה (Job 9:8) according to Psalm 18:10 : He letteth down the clouds of heaven, and walketh on the heights of the sea of clouds, i.e., high above the towering thunder-clouds. But parallel passages, such as Isaiah 40:22; Psalm 104:2, and especially Isaiah 44:24, show that Job 9:8 is to be understood as referring to the creation of the firmament of heaven; and consequently נטה is to be taken in the sense of expandere, and is a form of expression naturally occurring in connection with the mention of the waters which are separated by means of the רקיע. The question arises, whether ים here means the sea of waters above the firmament or upon the earth. According to the idea of the ancients, the waters which descend as rain have their habitation far away in the infinite expanse of the sky; the ocean of the sky (Egyptian Nun-pa), through which the sun-god Ra sails every day, is there. It is possible that "the heights of the sea" here, and perhaps also "the roots of the sea" (Job 36:30), may mean this ocean of the sky, as Hahn and Schlottmann suppose. But it is not necessary to adopt such an explanation, and it is moreover hazardous, since this conception of the celestial θάλασσα is not found elsewhere (apart from Revelation 4:6; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 22:1). Why may not בּמתי, which is used of the heights of the clouds (Isaiah 14:14), be used also of the waves of the sea which mount up towards heaven (Psalm 107:26)? God walks over them as man walks on level ground (lxx περιπατῶν ἐπὶ θαλάσσης ὡς ἐπ ̓ ἐδάφους); they rise or lie calmly beneath His feel according to His almighty will (comp. Habakkuk 3:15).
Job next describes God as the Creator of the stars, by introducing a constellation of the northern (the Bear), one of the southern (Orion), and one of the eastern sky (the Pleiades). עשׁ, contracted from נעשׁ, Arabic na‛š, a bier, is the constellation of seven stars (septentrio or septentriones) in the northern sky. The Greater and the Lesser Bear form a square, which the Arabs regarded as a bier; the three other stars, benâth n‛asch, i.e., daughters of the bier (comp. Job 38:32), seem to be the mourners. כּסיל is Orion chained to the sky, which the ancients regarded as a powerful giant, and also as an insolent, foolish fellow
(Note: The Arabic jâhil is similar, which combines the significations, an ignorant, foolhardy, and passionate man (vid., Fleischer, Ali's hundert Sprche, S. 115f.).)
(K. O. Mller, Kleine deutsche Schriften, ii. 125). כּימה is the Pleiades, a constellation consisting of seven large and other smaller stars, Arabic turayyâ, which, like the Hebrew (comp. Arab. kûmat, cumulus), signifies the heap, cluster (vid., Job 38:31), and is compared by the Persian poets to a bouquet formed of jewels. It is the constellation of seven stars, whose rising and setting determined the commencement and end of their voyages (πλειάς, probably equals constellation of navigation), and is to be distinguished from the northern septentriones. תּימן חדרי are, according to the Targ., the chambers of the constellations on the south side of the heavens, as also most expositors explain them (Mercier: sidera quae sunt in altero hemisphaerio versus alterum polum antarcticum), according to which תּימן, or written defectively תּמן, would therefore be equivalent to תמן כוכבי; or perhaps, in a more general meaning, the regions of the southern sky (penetralia), which are veiled, or altogether lost to view (Hirzel). In v. 10, Job says, almost verbatim, what Eliphaz had said (Job 5:10). Job agrees with the friends in the recognition of the power of God, and intentionally describes those phases of it which display its terrible majesty. But while the friends deduce from this doctrine the duty of a humble deportment on the part of the sufferer, Job uses it to support the cheerless truth that human right can never be maintained in opposition to the absolute God.
Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.
Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.
Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not: he passeth on also, but I perceive him not.11 Behold, He goeth by me and I see not,
And passeth by and I perceive Him not.
12 Behold, He taketh away, who will hold Him back?
Who will say to Him: What doest Thou?
13 Eloah restraineth not His anger,
The helpers of Rahab stoop under Him -
14 How much less that I should address Him,
That I should choose the right words in answer to Him;
15 Because, though I were right, I could not answer, -
To Him as my Judge I must make supplication.
God works among men, as He works in nature, with a supreme control over all, invisibly, irresistibly, and is not responsible to any being (Isaiah 45:9). He does not turn or restrain His anger without having accomplished His purpose. This is a proposition which, thus broadly expressed, is only partially true, as is evident from Psalm 78:38. The helpers of Rahab must bow themselves under Him. It is not feasible to understand this in a general sense, as meaning those who are ready with boastful arrogance to yield succour to any against God. The form of expression which follows in Job 9:14, "much less I," supports the assumption that רהב עזרי refers to some well-known extraordinary example of wicked enterprise which had been frustrated, notwithstanding the gigantic strength by which it was supported; and שׁחהוּ may be translated by the present tense, since a familiar fact is used as synonymous with the expression of an universal truth. Elsewhere Rahab as a proper name denotes Egypt (Psalm 87:4), but it cannot be so understood here, because direct references to events in the history of Israel are contrary to the character of the book, which, with remarkable consistency, avoids everything that is at all Israelitish. But how has Egypt obtained the name of Rahab? It is evident from Isaiah 30:7 that it bears this name with reference to its deeds of prowess; but from Psalm 89:11; Isaiah 51:9, it is evident that Rahab properly denotes a sea-monster, which has become the symbol of Egypt, like tannn and leviathan elsewhere. This signification of the word is also supported by Job 26:12, where the lxx actually translate κητος, as here with remarkable freedom, ὑπ ̓ ἀυτοῦ ἐκάμφθησαν κήτη τὰ ὑπ ̓ οὐρανόν. It is not clear whether these "sea-monsters" denote rebels cast down into the sea beneath the sky, or chained upon the sky; but at any rate the consciousness of a distinct mythological meaning in רהב עזרי is expressed by this translation (as also in the still freer translation of Jerome, et sub quo curvantur qui portant orbem); probably a myth connected with such names of the constellations as Κῆτος and Πρίστις (Ewald, Hirz., Schlottm.). The poesy of the book of Job even in other places does not spurn mythological allusions; and the phrase before us reminds one of the Hindu myth of Indras' victory over the dark demon Vritras, who tries to delay the descent of rain, and over his helpers. In Vritras, as in רהב, there is the idea of hostile resistance.
Job compares himself, the feeble one, to these mythical titanic powers in Job 9:14. כּי אף (properly: even that), or even אף alone (Job 4:19), signifies, according as the connection introduces a climax or anti-climax, either quanto magis or quanto minus, as here: how much less can I, the feeble one, dispute with Him! אשׁר, Job 9:15, is best taken, as in Job 5:5, in the signification quoniam. The part. Poel משׁפטי we should more correctly translate "my disputant" than "my judge;" it is Poel which Ewald appropriately styles the conjugation of attack: שׁופט, judicando vel litigando aliquem petere; comp. Ges. 55, 1. The part. Kal denotes a judge, the part. Poel one who is accuser and judge at the same time. On such Poel-forms from strong roots, vid., on Psalm 109:10, where wedorschu is to be read, and therefore it is written ודרשׁוּ in correct Codices.
Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?
If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop under him.
How much less shall I answer him, and choose out my words to reason with him?
Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I would make supplication to my judge.
If I had called, and he had answered me; yet would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice.16 If when I called He really answered,
I could not believe that He would hearken to me;
17 He would rather crush me in a tempest,
And only multiply my wounds without cause;
18 He would not suffer me to take my breath,
But would fill me with bitter things.
19 If it is a question of the strength of the strong - : "Behold here!"
And if of right - : "Who will challenge me?"
20 Where I in the right, my mouth must condemn me;
Were I innocent, He would declare me guilty.
The answer of God when called upon, i.e., summoned, is represented in Job 9:16 as an actual result (praet. followed by fut. consec.), therefore Job 9:16 cannot be intended to express: I could not believe that He answers me, but: I could not believe that He, the answerer, would hearken to me; His infinite exaltation would not permit such condescension. The אשׁר which follows, Job 9:17, signifies either quippe qui or quoniam; both shades of meaning are after all blended, as in Job 9:15. The question arises here whether שׁוף signifies conterere, or as cognate form with שׁאף, inhiare, - a question also of importance in the exposition of the Protevangelium. There are in all only three passages in which it occurs: here, Genesis 3:15, and Psalm 139:11. In Psalm 139:11 the meaning conterere is unsuitable, but even the signification inhiare can only be adopted for want of a better: perhaps it may be explained by comparison with צעף, in the sense of obvelare, or as a denominative from נשׁף (the verb of which, נשׁף, is kindred to נשׁב, נשׁם, flare) in the signification obtenebrare. In Genesis 3:15, if regarded superficially, the meaning inhiare and conterere are alike suitable, but the meaning inhiare deprives that utterance of God of its prophetic character, which has been recognised from the beginning; and the meaning conterere, contundere, is strongly supported by the translations. We decide in favour of this meaning also in the present passage, with the ancient translations (lxx ἐκτρίψῃ, Targ. מדקדּק, comminuens). Moreover, it is the meaning most generally supported by a comparison with the dialects, whereas the signification inhiare can only be sustained by comparison with שׁאף and the Arabic sâfa (to sniff, track by scent, to smell); besides, "to assail angrily" (Hirz., Ewald) is an inadmissible contortion of inhiare, which signifies in a hostile sense "to seize abruptly" (Schlottm.), properly to snatch, to desire to seize.
Translate therefore: He would crush me in a tempest and multiply (multiplicaret), etc., would not let me take breath (respirare), but (כּי, Ges. 155, 1, e. a.) fill me (ישׂבּיענּי, with Pathach with Rebia mugrasch) with bitter things (ממּררים, with Dag. dirimens, which gives the word a more pathetic expression). The meaning of Job 9:19 is that God stifles the attempt to maintain one's right in the very beginning by His being superior to the creature in strength, and not entering into a dispute with him concerning the right. הנּה (for הנּני as איּה, Job 15:23, for איּו): see, here I am, ready for the contest, is the word of God, similar to quis citare possit me (in Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44), which sounds as an echo of this passage. The creature must always be in the wrong, - a thought true in itself, in connection with which Job forgets that God's right in opposition to the creature is also always the true objective right. פּי, with suffix, accented to indicate its logical connection, as Job 15:6 : my own mouth.
(Note: Olshausen's conjecture, פּיו, lessens the difficulty in Isaiah 34:16, but here it destroys the strong expression of the violence done to the moral consciousness.)
In ויּעקשׁני the Chirek of the Hiphil is shortened to a Sheva, as 1 Samuel 17:25; vid., Ges. 53, rem. 4. The subject is God, not "my mouth" (Schlottm.): supposing that I were innocent, He would put me down as one morally wrong and to be rejected.
For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause.
He will not suffer me to take my breath, but filleth me with bitterness.
If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong: and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead?
If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.
Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life.21 Whether I am innocent, I know not myself,
My life is offensive to me.
22 There is one thing-therefore I maintain - :
The innocent and wicked He destroyeth.
23 If the scourge slay suddenly,
He laugheth at the melting away of the innocent.
24 Countries are given into the hand of the wicked;
The countenance of its rulers He veileth -
Is it not so, who else doeth it?
Job 9:21 is usually considered to be an affirmation of innocence on the part of Job, though without effect, and even at the peril of his own destruction: "I am innocent, I boldly say it even with scorn of my life" (Schnurr., Hirz., Ewald, Schlottm.). But although נפשׁי אדע לא may mean: I care nothing for my soul, i.e., my life (comp. Genesis 39:6), its first meaning would be: I know not my soul, i.e., myself; and this sense is also quite in accordance with the context. He is innocent, but the contradiction between his lot and his innocence seems to show that his self-consciousness is deceptive, and makes him a mystery to himself, leads him astray respecting himself; and having thus become a stranger to himself, he abhors this life of seeming contradictions, for which he desires nothing less than its long continuance (vid., Job 7:16). The היא אחת which follows we do not explain: "it is all the same to me whether I live or not," but: it is all one whether man is innocent or not. He himself is a proof of this; therefore he maintains, etc. It is, however, also possible that this expression, which is similar in meaning to Ecclesiastes 9:2 (there is one event, אחד מקרה, to the righteous and to the wicked), and is well translated in the Targ. by היא מכילא חדא (there is one measure of retribution, מכילא equals מדּה, μέτρον, Matthew 7:2), refers to what follows, and that "therefore I maintain" is parenthetical (like אמרתי, Psalm 119:57; אמר לי, Isaiah 45:24), and we have translated it accordingly. There is certainly a kind of suspense, and על־כן d introduces an assertion of Job, which is founded upon the fact of the continuance of his own misfortune, - an assertion which he advances in direct contradiction to the friends, and which is expressly censured by Elihu.
In Job 9:23., by some striking examples, he completes the description of that which seems to be supported by the conflict he is called to endure. שׁוט, a scourge, signifies a judgment which passes over a nation (Isaiah 28:15). It swept off the guiltless as well, and therefore Job concludes that God delights in מסּה, πειρασμός, trial, or perhaps more correctly the melting away (from מסס, as Job 6:14) of the guiltless, i.e., their dissolution in anguish and dismay, their wearing away and despondency. Jerome rightly remarks that in the whole book Job says nihil asperius than what he says in Job 9:23. Another example in favour of his disconsolate היא אחת is that whole lands are given into the hand of the wicked: the monarch is an evil man, and the countenance of their judges He (God) covers, so that they do not distinguish between right and wrong, nor decide in favour of the former rather than of the latter. God himself is the final cause of the whole: if not, i.e., if it is not so, who can it then be that causes it? אפו (four times in the book of Job instead of the usual form אפוא) is, according to the current opinion, placed per hyperbaton in the conditional instead of the interrogative clause; and מי אפו are certainly not, with Hirzel, to be taken together. There is, however, not a proper hyperbaton, but אפו here gives intensity to the question; though not directly as Job 17:15 (Ges. 153, 2), but only indirectly, by giving intensity to that which introduces the question, as Job 24:25 and Genesis 27:37; translate therefore: if it really is not so (comp. the Homeric expression ει ̓ δ ̓ ἄγε). It is indisputable that God, and no one else, is the final cause of this misery, apparently so full of contradiction, which meets us in the history of mankind, and which Job now experiences for himself.
This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.
If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent.
The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, and who is he?
Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good.25 My days were swifter than a runner,
They fled away without seeing prosperity,
26 They shot by as ships of reeds,
As an eagle which dasheth upon its prey.
27 If my thought is: I will forget my complaint,
I will give up my dark looks and look cheerful;
28 I shudder at all my pains,
I feel that Thou dost not pronounce me innocent.
Such, as described in the preceding strophe, is the lot of the innocent in general, and such (this is the connection) is also Job's lot: his swiftly passing life comes to an end amidst suffering, as that of an evil-doer whom God cuts off in judgment. In the midst of his present sufferings he has entirely forgotten his former prosperity; it is no happiness to him, because the very enjoyment of it makes the loss of it more grievous to bear. The days of prosperity are gone, have passed swiftly away without טובה, i.e., without lasting prosperity. They have been swifter רץ מנּי. By reference to Job 7:6, this might be considered as a figure borrowed from the weaver's loom, since in the Coptic the threads of the weft (fila subteminis) which are wound round the shuttle are called "runners" (vid., Ges. Thesaurus); but Rosenmller has correctly observed that, in order to describe the fleetness of his life, Job brings together that which is swiftest on land (the runners or couriers), in water (fast-sailing ships), and in the air (the swooping eagle). עם, Job 9:26, signifies, in comparison with, aeque ac. But we possess only a rather uncertain tradition as to the kind of vessels meant by אבה אניות. Jerome translates, after the Targ.: naves poma portantes, by which one may understand the small vessels, according to Edrisi, common on the Dead Sea, in which corn and different kinds of fruits were carried from Zoar to Jericho and to other regions of the Jordan (Stickel, S. 267); but if אבה were connected with אב, we might rather expect אבּה, after the form אשּׁה (from אשׁ), instead of אבה. Others derive the word from אבה, avere: ships of desire, i.e., full-rigged and ready for sea (Gecatilia in Ges. Thes. suppl. p. 62), or struggling towards the goal (Kimchi), or steering towards (Zamora), and consequently hastening to (Symmachuc, σπευδούσαις), the harbour; but independently of the explanation not being suited to the description, it should then be accented beh, after the form נדה, קצה, instead of bh. The explanation, ships of hostility (Syr.),
(Note: Luther also perhaps understood pirate ships, when he translated, "wie die starcken Schiff.")
i.e., ships belonging to pirates or freebooters, privateers, which would suit the subject well, is still less admissible with the present pointing of the text, as it must then be אבה (איבה), with which the Egyptian uba, against, and adverse (contrarius), may be compared. According to Abulwalid (Parchon, Raschi), אבה is the name of a large river near the scene of the book of Job; which may be understood as either the Babylonian name for river Arab. 'bby, or the Abyssinian name of the Nile, ab; and אבה may be compared with לבנה in relation to the Arabic, lubna. But a far more satisfactory explanation is the one now generally received, according to the comparison with the Arabic abâ'un, a reed (whence abaa-t-un, a reed, a so-called n. unitatis): ships made from reeds, like גּמא כּלי, Isaiah 18:2, vessels of papyrus, βαρίδες παπύριναι. In such small ships, with Egyptian tackling, they used to travel as far as Taprobane. These canoes were made to fold together, plicatiles, so that they could be carried past the cataracts; Heliodorus describes them as ὀξυδρομώτατα.
(Note: There is no Egyptian word which can be compared to אבה, whereas han (hani) or an (ana) in Egyptian, like the Hebrew אניה, means a ship (vid., Chabas, Le Papyrus magique Harris, p. 246, No. 826, cf. pp. 33, 47); it is written with the sign for set equals downwards, since they fastened a stone at the front of the vessel, as was even known to Herodotus, in order to accelerate its speed in descending the river. From this one might conjecture for the passage before us אבן אניות equals swift sailers.)
The third figure is the eagle, which swoops down upon its prey; טוּשׂ, like Chaldee טוּס, by which the Targ. translates השׁ, Habakkuk 1:8; Grtz' conjecture of ישׁוּט (which is intended to mean flutters) is superfluous. Just as unnecessary is it, with Olshausen, to change אמרי אם into אמרתי אם: "if my saying (thinking)" is equivalent to, "as often as I say (think)." פנים is here (as in the German phrase, ein Gesicht machen) an ill-humoured, distorted, wry face. When Job desires to give up this look of suffering and be cheerful (הבליג, like Job 10:20, hilaritatem prae se ferre, vultum hilarem induere), the certainty that he is not favoured of God, and consequently that he cannot be delivered from his sufferings, all his anguish in spite of his struggles against it comes ever afresh before his mind. It is scarcely necessary to remark that תנקני is addressed to God, not to Bildad. It is important to notice that Job does not speak of God without at the same time looking up to Him as in prayer. Although he feels rejected of God, he still remains true to God. In the following strophe he continues to complain of God, but without denying Him.
They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey.
If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my heaviness, and comfort myself:
I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent.
If I be wicked, why then labour I in vain?29 If I am wicked, why do I exert myself in vain?
30 If I should wash myself with snow water,
And make my hands clean with lye,
31 Then thou wouldst plunge me into the pit,
And my clothes would abhor me.
32 For He is not a man as I, that I should answer Him,
That we should go together to judgment.
33 There is not an arbitrator between us
Who should lay his hand upon us both.
The clause with strongly accented "I" affirms that in relation to God is from the first, and unchangeably, a wicked, i.e., guilty, man (Psalm 109:7) (רשׁע, to be a wicked man, means either to act as such Job 10:15, or to appear as such, be accounted as such, as here and Job 10:7; Hiph., Job 9:20, to condemn). Why, therefore, should he vainly (הבל, acc. adv., like breath, useless) exert himself by crying for help, and basing his plaint on his innocence? In Job 9:30 the Chethib is במו, the Keri במי, as the reverse in Isaiah 25:10; mo itself appears in the signification water (Egyptian muau), in the proper names Moab and Moshe (according to Jablonsky, ex aqua servatus); in במו, however, the mo may be understood according to Ges. 103, 2. This is the meaning - no cleansing, even though he should use snow and בּר (a vegetable alkali), i.e., not even the best-grounded self-justification can avail him, for God would still bring it to pass, that his clearly proved innocence should change to the most horrible impurity. Ewald, Rdiger, and others translate incorrectly: my clothes would make me disgusting. The idea is tame. The Piel תּעב signifies elsewhere in the book (Job 19:19; Job 30:10) to abhor, not to make abhorrent; and the causative meaning is indeed questionable, for מתעב (Isaiah 49:7) signifies loathing, as מכסּה (Job 23:17) covering, and Ezekiel 16:25 certainly borders on the signification "to make detestable," but תעב may also be in the primary meaning, abominari, the strongest expression for that contempt of the beauty bestowed by God which manifests itself by prostitution. Translate: My clothes would abhor me; which does not mean: I should be disgusted with myself (Hirzel); Job is rather represented as naked; him, the naked one, God would - says he - so plunge into the pit that his clothes would conceive a horror of him, i.e., start back in terror at the idea of being put on and defiled by such a horrible creature (Schlottm., Oehler). For God is not his equal, standing on the same level with him: He, the Absolute Being, is accuser and judge in one person; there is between them no arbitrator who (or that he) should lay, etc. Mercier correctly explains: impositio manus est potestatis signum; the meaning therefore is: qui utrumque nostrum velut manu imposita coerceat.
If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean;
Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.
For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment.
Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.
Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me:34 Let Him take away His rod from me,
And let His terrors not stupify me.
35 Then I would speak and not fear Him,
For not thus do I stand with myself.
The two Optatives, Job 9:34., as is frequently the case with the Imper., are followed by the Cohortative as the conclusion (אדבּרה, therefore will I speak; whereas ואדברה might be equivalent to, in order that I may speak) of a conditional antecedent clause. שׁבט is here the rod with which God smites Job; comp. Job 13:21. If God would only remove his pain from him for a brief space, so that he might recover himself for self-defence, and if He would not stifle his words as they come freely forth from his lips by confronting him with His overwhelming majesty, then he would fearlessly express himself; for "not thus am I in myself," i.e., I am not conscious of such a moral condition as compels me to remain dumb before Him. However, we must inquire whether, according to the context, this special reference and shade of meaning is to be given to לא־כן. There is a use of כן equals nothing, when accompanied by a gesture expressive of contemptuous rejection, Numbers 13:33 (כמו־כן, Isaiah 51:6, as nothing);
(Note: In both these passages (to which Bttcher adds Psalm 127:2, "so equals without anything further"), כּן has been considered to be the sing. of כּנּים, gnats; but this sing. is an error, as בּיץ, formerly considered to be the sing. of בּיצים. The respective sing. are כּנּה, בּיצה.)
and a use of לא־כן equals not only so equals not so small, so useless, 2 Samuel 23:5, accompanied by a gesture expressive of the denial of such contempt, according to which the present passage may probably be explained: I am in myself, i.e., according to the testimony of my conscience, not so, i.e., not so morally worthless and devoid of right.
Then would I speak, and not fear him; but it is not so with me.
Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch [1857-78].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.