Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
B.—Job: His misery is well-deserving of sympathy; it will, however, all the more certainly end in his conspicuous vindication by God, although not perchance till the life beyond
(Introduction: Reproachful censure of the friends for maliciously suspecting his innocence:)
1 Then Job answered, and said:
2 How long will ye vex my soul,
and break me in pieces with words?
3 These ten times have ye reproached me;
ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me.
4 And be it indeed that I have erred,
mine error remaineth with myself.
5 If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me,
and plead against me my reproach:
1. Sorrowful complaint because of the suffering inflicted on him by God and men:
6 Know now that God hath overthrown me,
and hath compassed me with His net.
7 Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard;
I cry aloud, but there is no judgment.
8 He hath fenced up my way, that I cannot pass,
and He hath set darkness in my paths.
9 He hath stripped me of my glory,
and taken the crown from my head.
10 He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone;
and mine hope hath he removed like a tree.
11 He hath also kindled His wrath against me,
and He counteth me unto Him as one of His enemies.
12 His troops come together,
and raise up their way against me,
and encamp round about my tabernacle.
13 He hath put my brethren far from me,
and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me.
14 My kinsfolk have failed,
and my familiar friends have forgotten me.
15 They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger;
I am alien in their sight.
16 I called my servant, and he gave me no answer;
I entreated him with my mouth.
17 My breath is strange to my wife,
though I entreated for the children’s sake of mine own body.
18 Yea, young children despised me;
I arose, and they spake against me.
19 All my inward friends abhorred me;
and they whom I loved are turned against me.
20 My bone cleaveth to my skin and my flesh,
and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.
2. A lofty flight to a blessed hope in God, his future Redeemer and Avenger
21 Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends!
for the hand of God hath touched me.
22 Why do ye persecute me as God,
and are not satisfied with my flesh?
23 O that my words were now written!
O that they were printed in a book!
24 —that they were graven with an iron pen
and lead in the rock for ever!
25 For I know that my Redeemer liveth,
and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
26 and though after my skin worms destroy this body,
yet in my flash shall I see God;
27 whom I shall see for myself,
and mine eyes shall behold, and not another,
though my reins be consumed within me.
3. Earnest warning to the friends against the further continuance of their attacks:
JOB 19:28, 29
28 But ye should say, Why persecute we him,
seeing the root of the matter is found in me?
29 Be ye afraid of the sword;
for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword,
that ye may know there is a judgment.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. Deeply grieved by the warnings and threatenings of Bildad’s discourse, which in these respects was but an echo of that of Eliphaz, Job, on the one side, advances his complaint even to the point of imploring pity from his opponents in view of his inexpressible misery; on the other hand, for the very reason that he, being innocent, finds himself deprived, of all human help and sympathy, he lifts himself up to a more courageous confidence in God’s assistance than he has ever yet exhibited. He expresses the well-defined hope of a vindication awaiting him—if not on this side of the grave, then at least beyond it—through the personal intervention of God, appearing to him in visible form. That anguished complaint concerning his unspeakably severe suffering (Job 19:6–20) is preceded by a sharp word, addressed by way of introduction to the friends, as having maliciously suspected his innocence (Job 19:2–5). That inspired declaration of his hope in the divine vindication which was to take place in the Hereafter (Job 19:21–27) is in like manner followed by a short but forcible and impressive warning to the friends in view of their sinning against him (Job 19:28–29). The whole discourse, accordingly, which is characterized by vivid emotion and decided contrarieties of feeling, contains four principal parts, which embrace five strophes of unequal length. The three longest of these strophes, each being of 7–8 verses, fall into the second and third parts, of which the former contains two strophes, the latter one. The short introductory and concluding strophes are identical with the first and fourth parts.
2. Introduction: Reproachful censure of the friends for their malicious suspicion of his innocence (Job 19:2–5).
Job 19:2. The discourse begins—like that of Bildad, with a Quousque tandem (עַד־אָנָה), which, however, is incomparably more emphatic and significant than that of his accuser, because it has more to justify it How long will ye vex my soul and crush me with words?—תֹּגְיוּן is fut. energicum of הוֹגָה, with the third radical retained (GESEN. § 75 [§ 74], Rem. 16). In regard to the form תְּדַכְּאוּנַנִי (with suffix appended to the וּן of the fut. energ. and with the union-vowel a), see GESEN. § 60 [§ 59], Rem. 3 [GREEN, § 105 c].
Job 19:3 gives the reason for the עַד־אָנָה. Now already ten times is it that ye reproach me, viz., by assailing my innocence—זֶה here in the sense of “already, now already,” comp. EWALD, § 183 a [GESEN. § 122, 2, Rem.; Lex. 3. It may, however, be equally well regarded as a pronoun, in its usual demonstrative sense, in the singular with עֶשֶׂר, with perhaps an interjectional force—“Lo! these ten times do ye reproach me.” So Renan: Voilà, la dixième fois que vous m’ insultez. Comp. Gen. 27:36.—E.] “Ten times” stands naturally for a round number, or ideal perfection; Gen. 31:7; Lev. 26:26; Num. 14:22, etc. [“Ten, from being the number of the fingers on the human hand, is the number of human possibility, and from its position at the end of the row of numbers (in the decimal system), is the number of that which is perfected; as not only the Sanskrit dacan is traceable to the radical notion ‘to seize, embrace,’ but also the Semitic עשר is traceable to the radical notion, ‘to bind, gather together’ (cogn. קשׁר). They have already exhausted what is possible in reproaches—they have done their utmost.” DEL.]. Comp. my Theologia Naturalis, p. 713 seq.; also LEYRER’S Art. “Zahlen bei den Hebräern” in HERZOG’SReal-Encyclop. XVIII. p. 378 seq.). Are not ashamed to stun me.—The syntax of לֹא־תֵבשׁוּ תַּהְכְרוּ (“ye stun [me] without shame, shamelessly”), as in Job 6:28; 10:16. Comp. GESEN. § 142 [§ 139], 3 b [GREEN, § 269].—תַּהְכְרוּ is a shortened Imperf. Hiph. for תַּהְכִירוּ (GESEN. § 53 [§ 52], Rem. 4, 5 [see also GREEN, § 94 c]), of a verb הכר, which does not appear elsewhere, which, according to the Arabic, signifies “to stun,” obstupefacere. The rendering “to maltreat, to abuse grossly,” which rests on the authority of the ancient versions (LXX.: ἐπίκεισθέ μοι, Vulg. opprimentes), and which is adopted by Ewald, Hirzel, Dillmann, etc., gives essentially the same sense. [The rendering of E. V.: “ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me” seems to have been suggested by the use of נכר in the sense of “not to know.” The Hiph. form of the verb, however, is not found in that sense, which is, moreover, less suitable to the context than the renderings given above.—E.]
Job 19:4. And verily even if I have erred (comp. Job 6:24) [אַף־אָמְנָם, double intensive, “yea, verily, comp. Job 34:12], my error remains (then) with me, i. e., it is then known only to me (אִתִּי, “with me=in my consciousness,” comp. Job 12:3; 14:5), and so does not fall under your jurisdiction, does not call for your carping, unfriendly criticism; for such a wrong, being known to myself alone (and for that reason being of the lighter sort), I have to answer only to God. [“I shall have to expiate it, without your having on this account any right to take upon yourselves the office of God, and to treat me uncharitably; or what still better corresponds with אִתִּי תָּלִין: my transgression remains with me, without being communicated to another, i. e., without having any influence over you or others to lead you astray, or involve you in participation of the guilt.” DEL.]. So in substance—and correctly—Hirzel, Schlottmann, Hahn, Delitzsch, Dillmann [Renan, Carey, Rod-well], while Ewald and Olshausen, failing to perceive the relation of the first member as a hypothetical antecedent to the second member as its consequent and opposite, translate: “I have erred, I am fully conscious of my error.” [If this be understood as a confession by Job of moral guilt, it is premature and out of place. According to Ewald, it is a confession of intellectual error (to wit, that he had vainly put his confidence in the justice of God), uttered with the view of softening the hostility of the friends, by the indirect admission, on the one hand, that their charges had some justification in the non-appearance of God; by the reminder, on the other hand, that his complaint was against God rather than them. But such a thought would be too obscurely expressed, and would imply too sudden a change from the tone of bitter reproach which pervades this opening strophe.—E.]
Job 19:5. Will ye really boast yourselves against me, and prove against me my reproach?—אִם is to be taken, with Schultens, Ewald, Hirzel, Dillmann [Renan: “By what right do you dare to speak insolently to me, and do you pretend to convince me of disgrace?”], as an interrogative particle (=an), and the whole verse as a question, with the chief emphasis resting on the verbs תַּגְּדִּילוּ (“will you [magnify] boast yourselves,” exhibit yourselves against me as great rhetoricians and advocates, by your elaborate accusations?) and תּוֹכִיחוּ (“will you judicially prove, demonstrate” my disgrace [עָלַי against me]? comp. Job 13:3, 15, and often). This is the only construction which properly completes Job 19:4. There is no such completing of the sense obtained, if we take אִם as a conditional particle—“if,” whether we take the whole of the fifth verse as a hypothetical protasis, and Job 19:6 as apodosis (so Clericus, Olshausen, Delitzsch) [E. V., Lee, Carey, Rodwell, Merx], or regard Job 19:5a as protasis, and b as apodosis (so Umbreit, Stickel, Schlottmann [Noyes, Wemyss, Conant], etc. [Schlottmann exhibits the connection as follows: “In Job 19:4 Job says—‘Granted that I have erred, you need give yourselves no concern about the matter.’ In Job 19:5 he adds—‘If, nevertheless, you will concern yourselves about it, and in pride look down on me, it is at least incumbent on you not to assume without further proof that I have brought disgrace on myself by such an error, but to prove it against me with good arguments.’ The repetition of אָמְנָם seems to correlate Job 19:4 and 5, so that if, as all agree, the first and second members of Job 19:4 are related to each other as protasis and apodosis, the same would seem to be true of Job 19:5.—E.]
First Division: First Strophe. Job 19:6–12. Lamentation over his sufferings as proceeding from God.
Job 19:6. Know then (אֵפוֹ as in Job 9:24) [“elsewhere in questions, here strengthening the exclamation”—Schlott.] that Eloah has wrested me, i. e., has treated me unjustly, done me wrong, עִוְּתָנִי. for עִוֵּת מִשְׁפָּטִי, comp. Job 8:3; 34:12; Lam. 3:36. And compassed me round about with His net—like a hunter who has entirely robbed a wild beast of its liberty by the meshes of the net which envelop him around, so that he can find no way of escape.—The expression describes the unforeseen and inexorable character of the dispensations which had burst on Job as the object of the Divine persecution; comp. Bildad’s description, Job 18:8 seq. [“Bildad had said that the wicked would be taken in his own snares. Job says that God had ensnared him.” ELZAS.]
Job 19:7. Lo! I cry—“Violence!” (הָמָם as an interjectional exclamation, found also Hab. 1:2; comp. Jer. 20:8) and am not heard (Prov. 21:13); I call out for help, and there is no justice—i. e., no justice shown in an impartial examination and decision of my cause.—שִׁוַּע, lit. “to cry aloud for help, to send forth a cry for deliverance” (comp. Ps. 30:3 ; 72:12; 88:14 ), from שָׁוַע, or שׁוּעַ יָשַׁע =, “to be wide, to be in a prosperous situation.”
Job 19:8. He has hedged up my way, that I cannot pass, and He has set darkness on my paths.—Comp. Job 3:23; 13:27; also, as regards גָּדַד, “to fence up, to hedge up,” Lam. 3:7, 9; Hos. 2:8 .
Job 19:9. He has stripped me of mine honor;i. e., of my righteousness in the eyes of men; comp. Job 29:14. The “crown of my head” in the parallel second member signifies the same thing; comp. Lam. 5:16. The same collocation of a “raiment of honor,” and a “crown of the head,” occurs also in Is. 61:10; 62:3; and suggested by these passages we find it often in evangelical church hymns [e. g., in the following from WATTS:
“Then let my soul march boldly on,
Press forward to the heavenly gate,
There peace mid joy eternal reign,
And glittering robes for conquerors wait.
There shall I wear a starry crown,
And triumph in Almighty grace,
While all the armies of the skies
Join in my glorious Leader’s praise”].
Job 19:10. He breaks me down on every side: like a building doomed to destruction, for such is the representation here given of Job’s outward man together with his state of prosperity; comp. Job 16:14; [so that I pass away], and uproots, like a tree, my hope: i. e., he takes entirely away from me the prospect of a restoration of my prosperity, leaves it no foundation or bottom, like a plant which is uprooted, and which for that reason inevitably withers (comp. Job 14:19; 17:15). As to הִסִּיעַ, lit. “to tear out, to pluck up wholly out of the ground,” comp. Job 4:21, where the object spoken of is the tent-stake.
Job 19:11. [He makes His anger burn against me, and He regards me as His foes], comp. Job 13:24. The Imperfects alternating with Imperfects consecutive are, as above in Job 19:10, and in what follows, used for the present, because present and continuous sufferings are described; comp. Job 16:13, 14. [The plural in בְּצָרָיו, either for the class, of which Job is one; or, as Delitzsch suggests, “perhaps the expression is intentionally intensified here, in contrast with Job 13:24; he, the one, is accounted by God as the host of His foes; He treats him as if all hostility to God were concentrated in him”].
Job 19:12. Together all His troops advance.—גְּדוּדִים, armies, synonymous with צָבָא, Job 10:17, and denoting here, as there, the band of calamities, sufferings, and pains, which rush upon him.—And cast up their way against me.—יָסֹלּוּ, lit. “to heap up” their way, which is at the same time a rampart for carrying on the attack, a mound for offensive operations (סֹלְלָה, comp. 2 Sam. 20:15; 2 Kings 19:32; Ezek. 4:2) against Job, who is here represented as a besieged fortress. In regard to this figure comp. above Job 16:14; also in regard to the technics of siege operations among the ancient orientals, see Keil’s Bibl. Archäol. § 159.
First Division: Second Strophe: Job 19:13–20. Lamentation over his sufferings as proceeding from man.
Job 19:13. My brethren He drives far away from me: to wit God, to whom here, precisely as in Job 17:6, even the injustice proceeding from men is ascribed. For this reason the reading הִרְחִיק is perfectly in place, and it is unnecessary after the ἀπέστησαν of the LXX. to change it to הִרְחִיקוּ. To the term “brethren” (which as in Ps. 69:9 , is to be understood literally, not in the wider sense of relatives), who are described as turning away from him, corresponds in Job 19:14a the term קְרֹבִים, “kinsmen” (Ps. 38:12 ). In like manner we find as parallel to the יֹדְעִים, i. e., “knowers, confidants,” in Job 19:13b, the מְיֻדָּעִים, i. e., those familiarly known, intimate friends, in Job 19:14b (comp. in regard to it Ps. 31:12 ; 88:9 . As synonyms in the wider sense there appear in the sequel גָּרֵי־בֵית, “house-associates, or so-journers” in Job 19:15 (Vulg., inquilini domus meæ) and finally מְתֵי־סוֹד (Job 19:19), those who belong to the circle of closest intimacy, bosom-friends, (comp. Job 29:4; Ps. 55:15 ), so that the notion of friendship is here presented in six different phases and gradations, comp. on Job 18:8–10.—As for the rest אַךְ זָרוּ Job 19:13b is lit., “are become only [or, nothing but] strange to me,” i. e., entirely and altogether strange; and חָֽדְלוּ, Job 19:14a, means “they cease,” i. e., to be friends, they leave off, fail (comp. Job 14:7), withdraw from me.
Job 19:15. My house associates [= “they that dwell in mine house,” E. V.], and my maids (this doubled expression denoting all the domestics, including hired servants and the like; comp. above) are become strange to me[properly, “count me for a stranger,” E. V.]. The verb תַּחְשְׁבוּנִי is governed as to gender by the subject next preceding: comp. Gesen. § 60; Ewald, § 339 c [Green, § 276, 1].
Job 19:16. I call to my servant, and he answers not.—Whether this disobedient servant is to be viewed as the overseer, or house-steward, like Eliezer in the house of Abraham, Gen. 24. (Del.), is in view of the simplicity of the language at least doubtful.—With my mouth must I entreat him.—For the Imperf. in the sense of must, comp. Job 15:30; 17:2. בְּמוֹ פִי (comp. Ps. 89. 2 ; 109:30), expresses here not, as in Job 16:5, a contrast with that which proceeds out of the heart, but with a mere wink, or any dumb intimation of what might be desired of him.
Job 19:17. My breath is offensive to my wife.—זרה, from זוּר, to be strange, to be estranged, expresses simply by virtue of this signification the idea of “being repugnant, repulsive,” so that we need not derive it from a particular verb זיר, “to be loathsome;” and רוּחִי assuredly signifies here the breath (stinking according to b), having the same meaning as נֶפֶשׁ in the partly parallel passage Job 7:15; hence not “my discontent” (Hirzel) [“my spirit, as agitated, querulous” Gesen.; “depression,” Fürst]; nor “my sexual impulse” Arnh.; nor “my spirit” (Starke, [Carey] and ancient commentators); nor “my person” (Pesh., Umbreit, Hah) [Renan].—Jerome already correctly: halitum meum exhorruit uxor mea, and in the same sense most of the moderns [so E. V.], and my ill savor to the sons of my body.—וְהַנּוֹתִי, can neither signify: “my prayers, my entreaties” (Gesen., with a reference to his Gram., § 91, 3—against which however compare Ewald, § 259) [Noyes, Lee, Words., Elzas]; nor “my caresses (Arnh.) [Bernard, Rodw., Green, Chrestom., and Gram. § 139, 2—Kal Inf. of חנן (with fem. termination ־וֹת) to be gracious]; nor “my lamentations, my groanings” (Hirzel, Vaih.) [Fürst]; nor yet finally—“and I pray to the sons of my body” (LXX., Vulg., Luth., etc. [E. V., with different construction of the לְ—“though I entreated for the children’s sake of my own body”]; for all these constructions are alike opposed to the language and to the context. The word is rather (with Schär., Rosen. Ew., Hahn, Schlott., Del., Dillm.), to be derived from the root חון, “to stink,” which does no appear elsewhere indeed in Heb., but which is quite common in Arab, and Syr., and is to be construed either as first pers. sing. Perf. Kal (“and I smell offensively to the sons of my body”), or, which is better suited to the parallelism, as Infinitive substantive, זָרָה in a being still the predicate. This stench suggests in particular the fetid matter which issues from the festering and partially rotting limbs of the victim of elephantiasis. Comp. on Job 2:7; 7:14.—That by “the sons of my body” (בְּנֵי בִטְנִי) we are not of necessity to understand the legitimate sons of Job, and hence that there is no contradiction between this passage and the prologue, has already been shown in the Introd., § 8, 3. We need not therefore follow the critics who are there refuted in deciding that the prologue is not genuine; nor assume (with Eichhorn and Olsh.) that the poet has here for once forgotten himself, and lost sight of his scheme as set forth in Job 1:18, 19. We are rather to suppose (with Ewald, 1st Ed., Hirz., Heiligst., Hahn, Dillmann, etc.), that the reference is to grandchildren, the offspring left behind by the unfortunate sons—in favor of which may be cited the similar use of בָּנִים in a wider sense in Gen. 29:5; 31:28, etc.: or else (with the LXX., Symmachus, J. D. Michaelis, Schär., Rosenm., Dathe, Ewald, 2d Ed.) to his children by concubines (υἱους παλλακίδων μου, LXX.) a supposition however with which Job 31:1 seems scarcely to agree, however true it may be that in the patriarchal age, to which our poet assigns Job, rigid monogamistic views did not prevail. The explanation of Stuhlm., Gesen., Umbr., Schlott., Del., [Noyes, Conant, Elzas, Merx] is also linguistically possible, that בִּטְנִי stands for בֶּטֶן אִמִּי (after Job 3:10), so that בני בטני would mean accordingly Job’s natural brothers. This theory however is inconsistent with the circumstance that Job has already made mention above, Job 19:13, of his brothers; and that immediately following the mention of his wife, the mention of his descendants would be more suitable than that of his brothers. [To which add this from Bernard, that above, in Job 3:10, no ambiguity whatever could arise from the employment of בטני in the sense of “mother’s womb,” whereas “here, by using it in this sense, Job would have run such risk of having his meaning misunderstood, as בִּטְנִי might fairly be considered synonymous with חֲלָצַי, my loins, or מֵעַי, my bowels, that we find it quite impossible to believe that if he had really wished to speak here of his brethren, he would have applied to them such a very ambiguous epithet.” It has also been suggested as a relief of the difficulty that children had been born to Job in the interval between the first series of calamities, and the infliction of the disease, but such a conjecture is too precarious. Others regard the expression as general. So Wordsworth: “He is speaking of the greatest wretchedness in general terms”].
Job 19:18. Even youngsters act contemptuously towards me.—עֲוִילִים, plur. of עָוִיל, puer (root עוּל, comp. Job 21:11) are little children, such namely as are rude and impudent mockers, like those children of Bethel, 2 Kings 2:23 seq, which may be expressed by the word “youngsters” [Germ. “Buben”: Bernard—“wicked-little-children”], here as also above in Job 16:11.—It will also guard in particular against the mistake of supposing that Job’s grandchildren are intended by these עוילים, (Hahn).—If I rise up (conditional clause, as in Job 11:17 [not as E. V., “I arose”]), they speak about me, make me the butt of jeering talk (דִּבֶּר בְּ, as in Ps. 50:20; Numb. 12:1; 21:5).
Job 19:19. My bosom friends abhor me:—(comp. above on Job 19:13 seq.), and those whom I loved(זֶה relative, as in Job 15:17) have turned against me.—This verse points particularly at Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, the once trusted friends, who are now become his violent opponents.
Job 19:20. My bone cleaves to my skin and my flesh (comp. Job 10:11), i. e., through my skin and my extremely emaciated flesh may be seen my bones, which seem to cleave, as it were, to that poor and loathsome integument. Comp. Lam. 4:8; Ps. 102:6 , and I am escaped only with the skin of my teeth:—i. e., thus far only my gums (the flesh of my teeth, here called the skin of my teeth, because of their skinlike thinness and leanness of muscle) have been spared by this fearful disease,—so that I am able at least to speak, without having my mouth full of internal boils and sores (as is wont to be the case in the extreme stages of elephantiasis). This is the only satisfactory explanation, to which most moderns give in their adherence (Rosenm., Umbreit, Ewald, Hirzel, Vaih., Heil., Schlottm., Dillm.). This explanation of “the skin of the teeth” as the “gums,” is undoubtedly the most obvious, simple, and natural. [Yet simpler, perhaps, is the view of Umbreit, Wordsworth, Noyes, Renan, Elzas, that it is a proverbial expression, describing a state in which one is stripped to the very minimum of possession, or emaciated to the last point. Wordsworth: “A proverbial paradox. I am reduced to a mere shadow, I am escaped with nothing, or next to nothing, so that my escape is hardly an escape. I am escaped with the skin of what has no skin, the skin of bone; comp. the Latin proverbs, Lana caprina (Horat., 1 Ep. xviii. 15), and Totum nil (Juvenal 3, 209).” To which may be added the humorous English proverb: “As fat as a hen in the forehead.”—E.]. Other explanations are in part against the language, in part too artificial: such as a. That of Jerome, and many Catholic commentators, that by the skin of the teeth we are to understand the lips. b. That of Delitzsch, which explains it to mean particularly the periosteum (in distinction from the gums—as if such a distinction could have been known to the ancient Hebrews! [and “as though the poet had written for doctors!” Dillm.]).—c. That of Stickel and Hahn, who translate: “I am escaped with the nakedness of my teeth,” [i. e., with naked teeth].—d. That of Le Clerc, who understands it of the gums as alone remaining, when the teeth have fallen out.
5. Second Division: Job 19:21–27. A lofty flight to a blessed hope in God, his future Redeemer and Avenger, introduced by a pathetic appeal to the friends, that they would be mercifully disposed towards him, as one who had been so deeply humiliated, and so heavily smitten by the hand of God.
Job 19:21. [“Job here takes up a strain we have not heard previously. His natural strength becomes more and more feeble, and his tone weaker and weaker. It is a feeling of sadness that prevails in the preceding description of suffering, and now even stamps the address to the friends with a tone of importunate entreaty which shall if possible, affect their hearts. They are indeed his friends, as the emphatic אַתֶּם רֵעָי affirms; impelled towards him by sympathy, they are come, and at least stand by him while all other men flee from him.” Del. Pity me, pity me (pathetically repeated) O ye my friends!] For the hand of Eloah hath touched me.—An allusion to the nature of his frightful disease, being a species of leprosy, i. e., of a נֶגַע (2 Ki. 15:5), a plaga Dei “wherefore the suffering Messiah also bears the significant name חִוָּרָא דְּבֵי רַבִּי, ‘the leprous one from the school of Rabbi,’ in the Talmud, after [Isa. 53:4, 8.”]. One who is already treated with enough severity through the infliction of such a plague from God, ought not to be smitten also by men through the exercise of a merciless disposition, unfriendly words, etc.
Job 19:22. Why do ye persecute me as God, “by which he means not merely that they add their persecution to God’s, but that they take upon themselves God’s work, that they usurp to themselves a judicial divine authority; they act towards him as if they were superhuman, and therefore inhumanly.” Del. And are not satiated with my flesh?i. e., continually devour my flesh, figuratively speaking, by false accusations, slanders, suspicions of my innocence, etc., gnaw me incessantly with the tooth of slander [comp. Engl. “backbiting”]. Comp. the equivalent figurative expression “slander” (διαβάλλειν) in the Aram. of the book of Daniel (Job 3:8; 6:25) [“to eat the pieces of any one”], in the Syriac, where the devil is called ochel-karso = διάβολος, and in Arab. where “to eat the flesh, or a piece of any one” is equivalent to “slandering, backbiting.”
Job 19:23 seq. As though despairing of the possibility of influencing the friends to withdraw from their attacks on his innocence, he now turns with ardent longing for the final vindication of the same to God, first of all uttering the wish that his own asseverations of the same might be preserved to the latest generations. [Ewald imagines a pause after Job 19:22. Job waits to see what response the friends would make to his pitiful appeal. They are silent, show no signs of relenting. Job sees that he has nothing to hope for either from men, or the God of the present. But in his extremity he obtains a glimpse of the far-distant future, after his death, which fills him with a new and wonderful courage]. Oh that my words were but written (מִי־יִתֶּן here followed by וconsec. before the voluntative [future], on account of the intervening אֵפוֹ, comp. Deut. 5:26), that they were but inscribed (יֻחָקוּ, pausal form for יֻחֲקוּ [see Ewald, § 193, c, and Gesen., § 67 (§ 66) Rem. 8], Hoph. of חקק) in a book!—בַּסֵּפֶר, with the Art., as this expression is always written—comp. Ex. 17:14; 1 Sam. 10:25, etc.—although no particular book is meant, but only in general a skin of an animal prepared for writing [ספר], a writing-roll). These words of his, which he thus desires to see transmitted for remembrance by after generations, are, as it is most natural to suppose, not those contained in Job 19:25 seq.. (Hahn, Schlottm.) [Scott, Good, Bernard, Words., Rodwell, Barnes], but the sufferer’s former protestations of innocence, the assurances which from Job 6. on he has continually put forth, that he suffers innocently. [In favor of this view, and against the other, Delitzsch argues: (1) It is improbable that the inscription would begin with ו.—(2) It is more likely that Job would wish to see inscribed that which was the expression of his habitual consciousness, than that which was but an occasional and transient flash of light through the darkness].
Job 19:24. That with an iron pen [or style] and with lead—i. e., in letters engraved by means of an iron style, or chisel, and then filled in with lead, in order to make them more imperishable—they might be graven in the rock forever! Instead of לָעַד the LXX. read here, as also in Is. 30:8: לְעֵד, “for a witness, as testimony,” (εἰς μαρτύριον), an emendation however which is unnecessary, for the rendering “forever” gives here a meaning that is quite suitable. The monumental inscription is indeed preferred to that on parchment just because of its greater durability, which is the reason why Job wishes for it here. In regard to the use of both methods of writing already in the Pre-Mosaic age, see Introd., § 2, No. 4, p.. [For accounts of such inscriptions see ROBINSON’SBibl. Researches in Palestine, I., 169, 188 seq., 552; WILSON’SLands of the Bible, I., 184 seq.; Princeton Review, 1870, page 533 seq. “This wish was not in truth too high on Job’s part; for we now know sufficiently well that of old in those lands it was sought to perpetuate by means of inscriptions in stones and rocks not only short legal precepts, but also longer documents, memorable historical events, public requests, prayers, etc. Such costly works it is true could in general be completed only by kings and princes; Job was however a man of power in his age, who might well express such a wish.” Ewald].
Job 19:25. Not because he despairs of the possibility of realizing this last wish (Dillm.), but because he knows for a certainty that God will not allow his testimony to his innocence to pass down to posterity without His absolute confirmations of it, and hence because he regards that wish for the eternal perpetuation of his testimony as by no means a vain one, he continues:—And I know my Redeemer lives, etc. The ו in ואני ידעתי is thus not used in an adversative sense (Luther, Ewald, Vaih., Dillm. [Conant, Noyes, Lee], etc., but simply continuative, or, if one prefers it, ascensive, introducing the end to which the realization of the preceding wish is to lead. [“The progressive rendering seems to be preferable (to the adversative), because the human vindication after death, which is the object of the wish expressed in Job 19:23 seq. is still not essentially different from the Divine vindication hoped for in Job 19:25, which must not be regarded as an antithesis, but rather as a perfecting of the other, designed for posterity. Job 19:25 is, however, certainly a higher hope, to which the wish in Job 19:23 seq. forms the stepping stone.” Del.] The causal rendering (LXX., Vulgate, Stickel [E. V., Good, Carey, Renan],) is less probable, although not altogether meaningless, as Dillmann affirms. [The rendering: “yea, verily,” adopted by Schlottm., Words., Elzas, Merx, etc., is probably designed to express the ascensive meaning referred to above.] Forasmuch as כִי is wanting after ידעתי (as in Job 30:23; Ps. 9:21), we should translate simply in the oratio directa: “My Redeemer lives.” גֹּאֵל, which according to Job 3:5 means literally “reclaimer, redeemer,” acquires a meaning that is entirely too special, when it is taken by Umbreit and some others [Renan, Rodwell, Elzas] to be = גֹאֵל הַדָּם, “the blood-avenger” (Num. 35:12, 19), for the previous discourse was not of Job in the character of one murdered in his innocence, and Job 16:18 is too remote. After the analogy of Prov. 23:11; Lam. 3:58; Ps. 119:154, we are to think in general of the restitution of the honor and right of one who has been oppressed, and are accordingly to take גֹּאֵל in the sense of a defender, an avenger of honor—a meaning indeed which approaches that of a “blood-avenger” in so far as the expected deliverance [or vindication] is conceived of as taking place only after the sufferer’s death. For the Goel is חַי, is absolutely living (חַי, “he lives,” incomparably stronger than יֵשׁ, for instance would have been) [הַי reminding us of “that name of God, חי עולם, Dan. 12:7, after which the Jewish oath per Anchialum in Martial is to be explained,” Del., and indicating here the contrast between Him, the Living One, and Job, the dying one, Dillm.], while the object of His redemptive activity is עָפָר, “dust,” and as b shows, at the time when He arises, has long been dust.—And as the Last will He arise upon the dust.—אַחֲרוֹן cannot possibly with Böttcher and others [so E. V., Lee, Conant, Renan, Elzas] be construed in the adverbial sense “hereafter, in the latter time [or day].” It is clearly a substantive, used either in apposition to גֹּאֲלִי, the subj. of the first member, or as the independent subj. of the second member, identical in meaning with this גּ׳. The word signifies neither “Next-man” [Next-of-kin, Ger. Nachmann] in the sense of Avenger (vindex: Ewald, Hirzel), nor the “Follower” [Germ. Hintermann, “backer”], “second” (Hahn), but according to Is. 44:6; 48:12, simply the Last, he who survives all, an expression which is used here not with eschatological universality, but with particular reference to Job, who is no longer living (Job 17:11 seq.). [Delitzsch, however, and in a way which seems more suitable to the sublimity and scope o the passage: “as the Last One, whose word shall avail in the ages of eternity, when the strife of human voices shall have long been silent.”] Of this Last One, or this One who is hereafter to come, Job says: “He will stand up, He will arise” (יָקוּם), viz. for his protection and his deliverance (קוּם, the customary term for the favorable intervention of a judge to help one: Ps. 12:6 ; Is. 2:19, 21; 33:10, or also of a witness). He is thus to appear עַל־עָפָר, “upon the dust;” i. e., according to Job 17:16; 20:11; 21:26, indisputably—on the dust to which I shall soon return (Gen. 3:19; Eccles. 3:20), or in which I shall soon be made to lie down, on the dust of my decayed body, or of my grave. This is the only meaning of the expression which suits the context (so Rosenm., Ewald, Vaih., Welte, Del., Dillmann [Conant, Elzas, Merx], etc.). Any other explanation does more or less violence to the language, whether with Umbreit we translate in a way altogether too classic, “in the arena;” or with Hahn, altogether too freely: “above the earth,” i. e. in heaven! or with Jerome, Luther, and most of the ancients, altogether too dogmatically, and withal against the usage of the language, we find expressed an “awakening out of the earth;” or finally with Hirzel and others, we understand it in a way altogether too rationalistic of an “appearing of God on the earth,” in the sense of Job 38., rejecting any reference to the continuance of life hereafter [this last rendering, however, being adopted by not a few of the commentators who refer the passage to the final resurrection: so e. g. Scott, Lee]. In opposition to all these views, Dillmann says truly: “[Had Job intended here simply to express the hope of an appearance of God for the purpose of deciding the controversy in favor of Job, על־עפר would have been unnecessary (comp. e. g.Ps. 12:6), and instead of יקום he would have said יֵרֵד rather, for it is not said elsewhere that God arises on the dust when He appears; besides that God does not appear in Job 38. on the earth, but He speaks His final decision out of the storm. Rather do] the words express the expectation of a גאל who lives, even when Job lives no longer, who comes after him, and who for the open vindication of his right arises on the dust in which he is laid, or stands above his grave.” (Analogies from Arabic usage compel us thus to understand the phrase of the grave, or the dust of the grave; see Delitzsch.) “The words thus lead us without doubt into the circle of thought indicated in Job 16:18 (although at the same time beyond the same). He does not yet say whom he intends by this גאל, because the main thought here is the certainty that such an one lives; not until Job 19:26, after he has explained himself further, does he surprise the friends and himself by saying that the object of his hope is Eloah Himself.”
Job 19:26. And after my skin, which is broken in pieces, even this.—אחר is not a conjunction belonging to נקפו, “after that” (Targ., de Dieu, Gesenius [Schlott., Con., Word., Rod.], etc.), but as its position immediately before עוֹרִי shows, a preposition [a prepos. when used as a conjunc. being always followed immediately by the verb; see Job 42:7; Lev. 14:43. Rendered as a prepos. the meaning of the phrase “after my skin” will be “after the loss of it.” Comp. Job 21:21, אחריו, “after him,” to wit, after his death]. נִקְּפוּ, however (which is not to be taken [with Hofmann, Schriftbeweis II., 2, 503] as a Chaldaizing variation of נִקְּפוּת = an envelope, Germ. Umspannung), is an appositional relative clause, referring to עוֹרִי. It is found in the third plur. perf. Piel of נקף, “to break off” (in Piel used particularly of the hewing down of trees, Is. 10:34. Hence the third plur. here being used impersonally (comp. Job 4:19; 7:3; 18:18), “after my skin, which is broken off,” i. e. cut off piecemeal, mutilated, broken in pieces [E. V. unnecessarily supplies “worms” as subject]. The reference is to the skin together with the tender parts of the flesh [בַּדִּים] adhering to it, which gradually rot away, so that the meaning is similar to that of Job 18:13. The זֹאת added at the end of this member of the verse cannot possibly be interpreted as equivalent to זֹאת תִּהְיֶה, “this shall be” (Targ.; Gesen.) [for in that case זֹאת should have stood at the head of the clause]. We must either, with Arnheim, Stickel, Hahn, Delitzsch [Lee, Rodwell, and preferred by Green], explain it to mean “so, in this manner,” connecting it in this sense adverbially with נִקְּפוּ “thus torn to pieces,” Del.), or else explain it deictically, as pointing to the skin, or, since עוֹר is strictly masc., as pointing to the body as here represented by that term, the totality of Job’s members and organs. [The distinction which the E. V. makes between the “skin” and the “body,” the destruction of the latter being “after” that of the former seems not sufficiently warranted. Such a distinction must have been more clearly indicated. The construction is indeed a peculiar one, and yet exceedingly pathetic in its broken irregularity. “And after my skin—when it is all fallen off by decay—this tattered thing which you now see!”—E.] In respect to the various renderings of the ancients, especially those of the Targ., of Jerome, of Luther, etc., see below [Doctrinal and Ethical] the history of the exposition of the passage.—And free from my flesh, shall I behold Eloah.—If מִבְּשָׂרִי be explained “out of my flesh” [or, as in this sense it is rendered by many, “in my flesh,” either referring it to his resurrection-body, E. V., Good, Lee, etc.; or] with a reference to the restored body of the sufferer (Eichh. 5. Cölln, Knapp, Hofmann) [Noyes, Wemyss, Elz., Rod., who render by “in”], it would form an inappropriate antithesis to עוֹרִי in a, which would be all the more strange, seeing that only a little before, in Job 19:20, they had been used as in substance synonymous. Neither can the expression signify exactly “from behind, or within my flesh” (against Volck); this meaning would require בְּעַד, or מִבַּעַד (after Cant. 4:1, 3; 6:7). Hence מִן is to be rendered privatively, “away from, without, free from” (comp. Job 11:15; 21:9). In that case, however, the reference is not to the last point of time in Job’s earthly life, when he would be relieved of all his flesh, i. e., would be completely reduced to a skeleton (Chrysost., Umbr., Hirz., Stickel, Heiligst., Hahn, Renan, etc.), but to his condition after departing from this earth, a condition which if not absolutely incorporeal, is at least one of freedom from the body. It refers to the time when, freed from his suffering, miserable, decayed σάρξ, he shall behold God as a glorified spirit (Ewald, Vaihinger, Schlottm., Arnheim, Delitzsch, Dillmann [Con., Green]). This latter interpretation is favored decidedly by the Imperf. אֶחֱזֶה, which is not to be rendered in the present (as by Mercier, Hahn, H. Schultz [Bibl. Theol. des A. T., Vol. II., 1870], etc.) : “I behold God even now in the spirit;” for then the circumstantial particulars, אַחַר עוֹרִי and מִבְּשָׂרִי, would appear meaningless, and almost unintelligible, but which is certainly to be construed in the future, expressing the hope in a joyful beholding of God hereafter, (comp. the similar meaning of אחזה in Ps. 17:15, also of יֶחֱזוּ in Ps. 11:7), that is to say, as the following verse shows yet more clearly, in such a beholding of God in a glorified state after death (Matth. 5:8; 1 John 3:2, etc ). The expression of such a hope here “does not, after Job 14:13–15; 16:18–21, come unexpectedly; and it is entirely in accordance with the inner progress of the drama, that the thought of a redemption from Hades, expressed in the former passage, and the demand expressed in the latter passage for the rescue of the honor of his blood, which is even now guaranteed him by his witness in heaven, are here united together into the confident assurance that his blood and his dust will not be declared by God the Redeemer as innocent, without his being in some way conscious of it, though freed from this his decaying body.” (Delitzsch).
Job 19:27 describes, in triumphant anticipation of the thing hoped for, how Job will then behold God. Whom I shall behold for myself, to wit, for my salvation; the לִי, “for me” (emphatic Dat. commodi, as in Ps. 56:10; 118:6) being decidedly emphasized, as also אֲנִי, “I,” by the use of which Job makes prominent the thought that he, who was so grievously persecuted, and delivered over to certain death, was destined some day to enjoy a blessed beholding of God. And whom mine eyes shall see, and not a stranger.—רָאוּ after the Fut. אֶחֱזֶה is the Perf. of certainty, or of futurity (præt. propheticum s. confidentiæ), and וְלֹאגזָר, can only be nominative, synonymous with וְלֹא אַהֵר (et non alius, Vulg.; so also LXX., Targ. [E. V.], and most), not accusative, as held by Gesenius in Thes., Vaih., Umbreit, Stickel, Hahn, v. Hofm. [Noyes, Wemyss, Carey, Elzas, Green], who take the rendering which they assume, et non alium, in the sense of et non adversarium, “and not as an enemy”—which is decidedly at variance with the universal use of זָר, which never signifies “an enemy” [never at least except indirectly, and in a national connection, a hostile alien: it can scarcely be regarded as the word which Job would most naturally use in describing God’s personal relations to himself,—E.], and also at variance with the clause וְעֵינַי רָאוּ, which ought not to stand without an object, if וְלֹארֹזָר were an appositional accusative. It is undoubtedly to be taken as a nominative [in cor-relation to אֲנִי and עֵינַי, “I—my eyes”] “and not a stranger, not another” (with which comp. Prov. 27:2), containing an allusion to Job’s three opponents, who could not share in this future joyful beholding of God the Vindicator, at least not in the same blessed experience of it as himself. Moreover the very fact that Job here so obviously glances aside at his opponents, with their hostile disposition, precludes the supposition of Hirzel and others, who put the time of the beholding here prophesied in this life, and regard Job 38:1 seq. as the fulfillment of the prophecy; for comp. Job 42:7 seq. [Zöckler’s argument seems to be that the vindication recorded at the close of the book could not be the vindication here anticipated by Job for the reason that in the former case God did really appear to the friends, as well as to Job, whereas they were to be excluded (so also Delitzsch) from the appearance to which Job looked forward. But it is unnatural to suppose that the Theophany and the Vindication in which Job here exults, would be limited either to himself or to his sympathizing adherents. The very object of it presupposes the presence, as witnesses, of those who had wronged him. When Job accordingly says: “I shall see Him—my eyes shall behold Him—and not a stranger”—he is not so much intimating that they would be excluded, as denying that he himself would be excluded. The vindication was not to be in his own absence, and before a stranger, who would feel no interest in the matter, but—in some strange, unaccountable way—he would be there, participating in the awful glory and the blessed triumph of the scene. This view of the meaning also gives the most satisfactory explanation of זָר, not an “enemy,” as shown above, which would be inappropriate, nor “another,” which would be too general, but a “stranger,” who would have no interest in the result. The jubilant tone of Job’s mind is strikingly exhibited in the repetition of the pronoun: “I—for me—my eyes,” the climax being reached in וְּלֹא־זָר.—E.]—Finally, the fact that Job here hopefully promises this future beholding of God not only to himself as the personal subject, but in particular to his eyes, may certainly with perfectly good right be appealed to in proof that the condition in which he hopes to enjoy it, viz. disembodied, freed from the earthly בשר, is to be understood not as one of abstract incorporeality, or absolute spirituality—for this is a representation which is decidedly opposed to the concrete pneumatico-realistic mode of thought found in the Old Testament Scriptures, which does not even represent God as abstractly incorporeal.—My reins pine (therefore) in my bosom:viz. with longing for such a view. כָּלוּ, lit. “they are consumed, waste away, languish; elsewhere used of the soul pining away with longing (Ps. 84:3 ; 119:81), or of the eyes (Ps. 69:4 ; 119:123; comp. above Job 11:20; 17:5), here of that inner organ which is regarded as the seat of the tenderest, inmost and deepest affections, being used also in this sense in Ps. 16:7; 7:10  (Del., Biblical Psychology, p. 268 [Clark, p. 317]). Comp. also the Arabic phrase culaja tadhûbu, “my reins melt.” Essentially the same meaning is given to the phrase in the various renderings which on other accounts are objectionable, e. g. the Syriac: “my reins waste away completely by reason of my lot;” that of Hahn: “if my reins perish in my bosom.” [E. V. and Good: “though my reins be consumed within me;” Lee and Conant: “when my reins are (or shall have been) consumed within me;” either of which renderings is far less expressive as limiting the description to Job’s physical sufferings, now, or in death, and failing to bring out the pathetic emotion with which the passage expresses Job’s ardent longing for the day of his vindication—a meaning which is not only far more in accordance with the general usage of the words (see reff. above), but also most touchingly appropriate here. As Dillmann also remarks: “These words indicate that what Job has said just before expresses something altogether extraordinary.”—E.]
6. Third Division: Conclusion: Earnestly warning the friends against the further continuance of their attacks: Job 19:28, 29. [It is worthy of note how lofty the tone which Job, inspired by the vision of his future vindication, here assumes towards the friends. No longer a suppliant for pity (Job 19:21), or trembling before their threats of the Divine vengeance, he now threatens them with that vengeance in case they persevere in their unjust treatment of him.—E.]
Job 19:28. If ye think [lit. say] How will we pursue him!—כִּי is neither causal (Stick.) [Rodwell], nor affirmative, “truly” (Umbreit, Hirzel, Vaih.), [nor adversative “but” (E. V.), which requires an untenable rendering of the clauses which follow; nor temporal—“then” (Wemyss, Renan, Elzas, who refer it to Job’s restoration in this life; Good and Lee, who refer it to the resurrection), for this is inconsistent with the future נִרְדּף]; but, as the analogy of Job 21:28 teaches, a conditional particle “if” [“when” Ewald; “since,” Noyes], so that Job 19:28 is the protasis of which Job 19:29 is the apodosis. מַה in that case is neither an interrogative “how?” (Böttcher) [Carey], nor “why?” (Umbreit, Hirzel [E. V., Rodmann, Elz.], etc.), but exclamatory: “how! how much!” comp. Job 26:2, 3; Cant. 7:2.—In regard to the construction of רדף with לְ, found only here, comp. that with אֶל in Judg. 7:25. With this exclamation of the friends there is connected in b the expression of an opinion, or a thought on their part in the oratio obliqua:and (if you think): the root of the matter is found in me, i. e. the cause of my suffering lies only in me, viz. in my sin. As regards this connection of an oratio obliqua with an oratio recta, especially with exclamatory clauses, comp. Job 22:17; 35:3; Ewald, § 338. According to the reading of the ancient versions (LXX., Targ., Vulg.), and of some MSS., which have בּוֹ instead of בִּי, this interchange of the direct and conditional form of expression is removed, assuredly against the original construction. [According to another view, followed by the translators of the E. V., “the root of the matter” is to be taken in a good sense of Job’s piety (Barnes), or the “justice of his cause” (Renan). The expression has indeed become in English a proverbial one for religious sincerity, and we who have become accustomed to it in this sense may find a little difficulty in releasing our minds from the power of that association. It will be found difficult, however, to harmonize such a thought with the connection. In the E. V., for example, no one can help feeling that the connection between Job 19:28 and the preceding passage has an unsatisfactory abruptness and lameness about it, and even this connection, such as it is, rests on a forced rendering of כִּי which is properly adversative only after an expressed or implied negative. And in general it may be said, that whether we regard Job 19:28b as a declaration of Job’s sincerity by himself or by his friends, it will be found next to impossible to put it into proper and natural relations to Job 19:28a on the one hand, and to Job 19:29 on the other. The most intelligible, tenable and forcible construction is that given above by Zöckler (and adopted by Ewald, Dillmann, Schlottmann, Delitzsch, Conant, Green), which regards Job 19:28, 29 as a lofty warning to the friends, inspired by the triumphant anticipation of Job 19:25–27, bidding them—if they continued to persecute him, and to charge him with harboring within himself the root of the calamities which had befallen him—to beware of the sword!—E.]
Job 19:29. Apodosis: Be ye afraid (לָכֶם “for yourselves,” as in Hos. 10:5) before the sword, i. e. the avenging sword of God; comp. חֶרֶב in Job 15:22; 27:14; Deut. 32:41; Zech. 13:7, etc. [“a sword, without the art. in order to combine the idea of what is boundless, endless and terrific with the indefinite,” Del.]. This sufficiently distinct threat of Divine punishment is confirmed by that which follows: for wrath (befalls) the transgressions of the sword, that ye may know that (there is) a judgment.—חֵמָה, “glow of wrath, rage,” can scarcely be regarded as the subject, with the meaning: “for wrath (against friends) is one of the crimes of the sword” (Schultens, Stickel, Schlottmann), [Conant, Noyes, who with less than his usual accuracy renders by “malice”]. Apart from the difficulty that עֲוֹנוֹת can by no means, without modification be = the partitive מֵעֲוֹנוֹת, the meaning is not at all suited to the true position of Job as regards the friends, who might rather reproach him with anger, than he them. Rather is חֵמָה a noun in the predicate, the meaning being: “wrath are the sword’s crimes,” i.e. they carry wrath as a reward in themselves, they cause wrath; they are infallibly overtaken by it (Rosenm., Hahn, Delitzsch, Dillmann, etc.). [“Crimes of the sword are not such as are committed with the sword—for such are not treated of here, and, with Arnh. and Hahn, to understand חרב of the sword of ‘hostilely mocking words’ is arbitrary and artificial—but such as have incurred the sword. Job thinks of slanders and blasphemy.” Delitzsch]. This explanation is better than that of Hirzel, Ewald [Rodwell], etc.:“for wrath, i.e. something to be dreaded, are the punishments of the sword,” for עֲוִֹנוֹת can scarcely be taken in the sense of punishments, chastisements; even in Ps. 31:11; 38:5; Lam. 4:6, עֲווֹן signifies not so much punishment, as rather evil-doing, sin together with its mischievous consequences. The above interpretation is not, it is true, altogether satisfactory; nevertheless, if we should attempt to amend the passage, it would be better to introduce a לְ before עֲוֹנוֹת, than either to change חֵמָה to הֵמָּה (Gesenius: “for such, i. e. such transgressions as yours, are crimes of the sword) or to introduce the constr. state חֲמַת before עֲוֹנוֹת, which is the construction given by the Pesh. and Vulg., the latter of which reads: quoniam ultor iniquitatum gladius est. A difficulty is also presented in the word שַׁדִּין (K’thibh) or שַׁדּוּן (K’ri) at the end of the last member, occasioned by the fact that אֲשֶׁר = שֶׁ does not elsewhere occur in the Book of Job, as also by the fact that the rendering of the LXX.—ποῦ ἔστιν αὐτῶν ἡ ὕλη (or according to the Cod. Alex, ὅτι οὐδαμοῦ αὐτῶν ἡ ἰσχύς ἐστιν) probably points to another text in the original. The above rendering, however: “that ye may know that there is a judgment,” is in general accord with the context, and corresponds well to the meaning of these closing verses. It is not necessary with Heiligst., Dillmann, Ewald (2d Ed.), to read שַׁדַּי: “that ye may know the Almighty;” nor (which is moreover linguistically inadmissible) to regard שַׁדִּין as a variation of שַׁדַּי (Eichhorn, Hahn, Ewald, 1st Ed.), which would yield the same meaning, [“דִּין has everywhere else the signification judicium, e. g. by Elihu, Job 36:17; and also often in the Book of Proverbs, e. g. Job 20:8 (comp. in the Arabizing supplement, Job 31:8). “The final judgment is in Aramaic דִּינָא רַבָּא; the last day in Heb. and Arabic, יֹום הַדִּין, jaum ed-din. To give to שׁדין, “that (there is) a judgment,” this dogmatically definite meaning, is indeed, from its connection with the historical recognition of the plan of redemption, inadmissible; but there is nothing against understanding the conclusion of Job’s speech according to the conclusion of the Book of Ecclesiastes, which belongs to the same age of literature.” Delitzsch.]
[“Thus does this lofty tragical discourse combine in itself the deepest humiliation and depression with the highest Divine elevation, the most utter despair with the most animated overflowing hope and the most blissful certainty. Not only does it occupy the lofty centre of the human controversy and of the whole action, but it also causes the first real and decisive revolution in Job’s favor, because in it Job’s two ruling thoughts and tendencies, the unbelief springing from superstition, and the higher genuine faith just forming itself come into such sharp and happy contact that the latter rushes forth out of its insignificance with irresistible might, and although the discord is not as yet harmonized, from this time on it maintains itself, gradually prevails more and more, until at last it remains supreme and alone.” Ewald.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The history of the interpretation of Job 19:25–27, the passage of greatest theological importance in this chapter, exhibits three principal views of the meaning. Of these the two oldest rest on the texts of the ancient versions, and particularly of the LXX. and Vulg., which are more or less erroneous, and yield results which are one-sided and partially perverted. It is only the latest of these which, resting on the original text, avoids these one-sided results, and sets forth the poet’s thought with unprejudiced objectivity.
a. A rigidly orthodox, or if the phrase be preferred, an ultra-orthodox (ultra-eschatological) view, which can be traced back into the earliest periods of the church, assumes that the passage predicts a resuscitation of the body by Christ on the last day. This assumption rests on the rendering of Job 19:25 b, and Job 19:26 a by the LXX., partly indeed also on the Targum, but more especially on the rendering of the passage in the Vulgate—a rendering which flows out of the older version, and which pushes still further its misinterpretation. The LXX. presents a version of the words which for the most part indeed is opposed, rather than otherwise, to the eschatological view, which limits Job’s expectations to the present earthly life, which in fact almost wholly precludes the reference to the future. But the Words beginning with יקום, Job 19:25 b, (instead of which it read יָקִים), and ending with זאת, Job 19:26 a, which it combines together so as to form one sentence, it renders thus: ἀναστήσει δέ μου τὸ σῶμα τὸ ἀναντλοῡν μοι ταῦτα (Cod. Alex.: ἀναστῆσαι μου τὸ δέρμα μου τὸ ἀναντλοῦν ταῦτα). According to this rendering a future resuscitation after death of the sorely afflicted body of Job is as distinctly as possible expressed. The Targumist expresses essentially the same meaning: “I know that my Redeemer lives,” and hereafter my redemption will arise (i. e. be made, actual, become a reality) over the dust, and after that my skin is again made whole (or—according to another reading—“is swollen up”) this will happen, and out of my flesh shall I behold God. On the basis of these interpretations, which were rooted in the hopes of a resurrection cherished by the Jews after the exile, and especially on the basis of the former [that of the LXX.], Clemens Romanus (1 Cor. 26), Origen (Comm. in Matth. 22:23 seq.), Cyril of Jerusalem (Catech. XVIII.), Ephraem, Epiphanius (Orat. Ancorat), and other fathers before Jerome, found in the passages a proof of the church doctrine of the ἀνάστασις τῆς σαρκός. Still more definitely and completely did the passage acquire the character of a Scriptural proof of this doctrine from Jerome, as the author of the authorized Latin translation, which was adopted by the Western Church during the Middle Ages, as well as by the Catholic Church of recent times. While the predecessor of his work, the Itala, had somewhat indefinitely expressed a meaning approximating that of the LXX. (“super terram resurget cutis mea,” etc.), the Vulgate set aside the last remnant of a possibility that the passage should be understood of a restitution or a restoration of Job in this life. This it did by introducing into the text of Job 19:25 and 26 three inaccuracies of the most glaring sort. For יָקוּם (or יָקִים) it substituted without more ado אָקוּם, surrecturus sum; אַחֲרוֹן it rendered, in novissimo die! and rendering נִקְּפוּ as Niphal of קיף = נקף, “to surround, to circle,” it gave to it no less arbitrarily the meaning of circumdabor, so that the whole passage is made to read thus: Job 19:25: “scio enim, quod redemptor meus vivit et in novissimo die de terra surrecturus sum; Job 19:26: et rursum circumdabor pelle mea et in came mea videbo Deum meum; Job 19:27: quem visurus sum ego ipse et, oculi mei conspecturi sunt et non alius; reposita est hæc spes mea in sinu meo.”—This interpretation, which was emphatically approved and recommended by Augustine (De Civ. Dei XXII., 29), held its ground through the Middle Ages among all Christian expositors, and all the more necessarily that a revision of the same after the Hebrew could not be undertaken by any one of them. Neither does Luther’s translation—“But I know that my Redeemer liveth, and He will hereafter raise [or quicken] me out of the earth, and I shall thereupon be surrounded with this my shin, and shall see God in my flesh”—break through the spell of this doctrinally prejudiced interpretation; and just as little as Luther do the distinguished Reformed translators of the Bible, e. g., Leo Juda, Joh. Piscator, the authors of the English Version, etc., exhibit any substantial departure from the meaning or phraseology of the Vulgate. Thus the rendering under consideration succeeded in acquiring the most important influence even in the evangelical theological tradition. It came to be cited in Church symbols (e. g., Form. Conc. Epit., p. 375 R.) [Westminster Conf. of Faith XXXII. 2], catechisms and doctrinal manuals as a cardinal proof-text for the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, and occasionally even for the divinity of Christ (on account of the אֱלוֹהַ of Job 19:26). It became a leading theme of sacred poets (e. g., of Louisa Henrietta v. Brandenburg, who wrote “Jesus, meine Zuversicht” [Jesus, my Trust], of P. Gerhard, the author of “Ich weiss dass mein Erlöser lebt” [of Charles Wesley: “I know that my Redeemer lives”]), and in general it has received the most manifold application alike in the domain of speculative theology, and in that of practical and ascetic piety. Even such thorough exegetes as Cocceius, Seb. Schmidt, Starke, while in subordinate details occasionally departing from the traditional ecclesiastical version, advocate strenuously the direct christological and eschatological reference of the passage (comp. also Jablonsky, De Redemptore stante super pulverem, Francof. ad V. 1772: Gude and Rambach: De Jobo Christi incarnationis vate, Halæ 1730, etc.). A number even of able Orientalists, and independent Hebrew scholars since the last century, such as Schultens, J. H. and J. D. Michaelis, Velthusen, Rosenmüller. Rosengarten, the English writers Mason, Good, Hales, J. Pye Smith [Scott, Lee, Carey, Wordsworth],2 and quite recently the Catholic Welte, think that notwithstanding the various amendments which following the original text they make to the version of the Vulg., or in a measure to that of Luther, the passage must still be held to teach, at least in general, the Church doctrine of the resurrection, in that they favor the inadmissible rendering of וְלֹא־זָר as = neque ego alius (“and truly I not as another, I as unchanged”), or understand “the appearing of the Redeemer on the dust” as having for its object the quickening of the dead, and hence as referring to the Second Advent of Christ, or find denoted in מִבְּשָׂרִי the glorified flesh of the resurrection body, or adopt other explanations of a like character (against which see above in the Exegetical and Critical Remarks).
b. A one-sided anti-eschatological view which limits the object of Job’s hope and longing wholly to this life, which may also be called the skeptical or hypercritical rationalistic view has for its precursors in the Ancient Church Chrysostom, John of Damascus, and other fathers of the Oriental Church. By an allegorizing interpretation of the language of the LXX. ἀναστήσει δέ μου τὸ σῶμα τὸ ἀναντλοῦν μοι ταῦτα, these writers refine away the eschatological meaning which undoubtedly belongs to the passage as pointing to the hereafter, and refer it to the removal of his disease which Job hoped for, and the rehabilitation of his disfigured body; and they saw that the phraseology of the Septuagint in the remaining verses of the passage favored this interpretation. Most of the Jewish Exegetes during the Middle Ages adhered to their view so far as the principle was concerned, the principle, to wit, of excluding from the passage any messianic and eschatological application while in respect to many of the details they hit upon novel expedients, which were in part of a most wonderful and arbitrary character. The more freely inclined theologians of the Reformed Churches also, such as Mercier, Grotius, Le Clerc, substantially adopted this view. After the time of Eichhorn (Allg. Biblioth der Bibl. Literatur I. 3, 1787) it acquired even a temporary ascendency over the opposite opinions, and that not only with commentators of rationalistic tendencies, such as Justi, v. Cölln, Knobel, Hirzel, Stickel, etc., but even with supra-naturalists, such as Dathe, Döderlein, Baumgarten-Crusius, Knapp, Augusti, Umbreit, and even with Hahn, strictly orthodox as he is elsewhere (De spe immortalitatis sub V. T. gradatim exculta, 1845, and his Comm. on the passage), with v. Hofmann (concerning whose peculiar rendering of נִקְּפוּ see above on Job 19:26), with the English theologians Wemyss, Stuart, Barnes [Warburton, Divine Legation, Book VI., Sec. 2; Patrick, Kennicott, Noyes, Rodwell; to whom may be added Elzas and Bernard], and others. Almost all the advocates of this view agree in holding that in Job 19:25 seq. Job, having just before expressed the wish that he might see his protestation of innocence perpetuated, utters his conviction that such a perpetuation for posterity would not be necessary, that he himself would yet live to see the restoration of his honor and of his health, and that even though he should waste away to a most pitiful skeleton, he would be made to rejoice by the appearance of God to benefit him and none others.
c. An intermediate view, or one exhibiting a moderate eschatology, which resting on the most exact philological and impartial treatment of the original text, avoids the one-sided conclusions of the two older interpretations, has been advanced and defended by Ewald (Die Dichter des Alten Bundes, 1st Ed., Vol. III., 1836), and substantially adopted by Vaihinger, Schlottman, v. Gerlach, Hupfeld (Deutsche Zeitschrift, 1850, No. 35 seq.), Oehler (Grundzüge der alt-testamentlîchen Weisheit, 1854), König (Die Unsterblichkeitsidee im B. Job, 1855, Hoelemann (Sächs. Kirchen—und Schulbl. 1853, No. 48 seq.), Del. (Art. Job in Herzog’s Real-Encycl., and in his Commentary), Dillmann, Davidson (Introduction II. 224 seq.) [Conant, Canon Cook in Smith’s Bib. Dict. Art. “Job;” MacClintock & Strong’s Cyclop. Art. “Job”], and even by the Jewish expositors Arnheim and Löwenthal. According to the unanimous opinion of these investigators, Job here expresses the hope, not indeed of a bodily resuscitation from death, but nevertheless of a future beholding of God in a spiritual glorified state. It is not the hope of a resurrection; it is, however, the hope of immortality, to which he is here lifted up, and that too with great clearness and the most vivid definiteness, above the ordinary popular conception of the ancient Israelites, as it has been previously declared even by himself.
2. We have, in our Exegetical Remarks above, expressed our concurrence in this modified eschatological or futuristic exposition of the passage, because, on the one side, the unmodified doctrinal orthodox rendering presents too many linguistic errors and arbitrary constructions to have any scientific value whatever attached to it, and because on the other side the view which excludes every reference to the hereafter can be established only by allegorically or rationalistically refining away the obvious phraseology of the passage. The latter interpretation, which Hirzel in particular has attempted to support with great argumentative acuteness, cannot be successfully maintained.
a. The connection with Job 19:23, 24 cannot be urged in its favor, for Job by no means contradicts the wish here expressed that the protestation of his innocence might be preserved for posterity, when in Job 19:25 seq. lie declares the assurance of his triumphant justification by God hereafter; rather in proclaiming this assurance he but takes a new step upward in the inspired conviction that God will at last interpose as the Avenger of his innocence.
b. Job’s former hopelessness, as he contemplates the mournful lot of him who goes down into Sheol, cannot be used as an argument in favor of that view; for Job’s former discourses are by no means wanting in preparatory intimations of a clear and well-defined hope in future retribution and a blessed immortality: see especially Job 14:18–15, and Job 16:18–21.
c. Nor finally can the fact that neither by Job’s friends, nor in the historical issue of the colloquy in the Epilogue is there any direct reference made to this expression of Job’s hope of immortality, be urged against our interpretation; for “it is a general characteristic of all the discourses of the friends, that they—spellbound as they are within the circle of their external, legal views—scarcely enter at all in detail upon the contents of Job’s discourses; and in Job 38 seq. God does not undertake the task of a critic, who passes judgment, one by one, on all the propositions of the contending parties. That the poet, however, should have framed for the drama a different issue from that which it has, is not to be desired, for the theme of the poem is not the question touching the immortality of man’s spirit, but the question: how is the suffering of the righteous to be harmonized with the Divine justice” (Dillmann)? Such a change of the issue, moreover, would be undesirable for the reason that the very contrast between the deliverance and exaltation which Job here hopes for as something which lies after death, and the favor which God visits upon him even in this life, a favor infinitely surpassing all that he hopes and waits for, prays for or understands—this is one of the most striking beauties of the poem, constitutes indeed the real focus of its splendor and its crowning close (comp. 5. Gerlach in the Homiletical Remarks on Job 19:25 seq.). Such a sudden unexpected blazing up of the bright light of the hope of immortality, without frequent references to it afterwards, and without other preparations or antecedent steps leading to it than a wish (in Job 14:13 seq.), and a demand of similar meaning (Job 16:18 seq.)—corresponds perfectly to the style of our poet, who, having assigned his hero to the patriarchal age, does not ascribe to him his own settled certainty of faith, representing him as possessing such a certainty in the same clear, complete measure as himself; he aims rather to represent him as striving after such a possession. To this it may be added that Hirzel’s view, which places the object of the sufferer’s hope altogether in this life is contradicted by the fact that Job in what he has already said has repeatedly described his end as near, his strength as completely broken, his disease as wholly incurable, his hope of an earthly restoration of his prosperity as having altogether disappeared (Job 6:8–14; 7:6; 13:13–15; 14:17–22; 17:11–16). With such extreme hopelessness, how would it be possible to reconcile the expression in Job 19:25 seq. of the very opposite, as is assumed to be the case by the interpretation which refers that passage to this life? And why again hereafter, in Job 30:23, does the gloomy outlook of a near and certain death find renewed expression in a way which cuts off all possibility of cherishing any hopes in regard to this life (see on the passage)? Wherefore such an unseemly wavering between the solemnly emphasized certainty of the hope in an appearance of Eloah, and the not less emphatic expression of the certainty that he has no hope in such an appearance? What would the artistic plan of the poem in general gain by allowing the hero in the middle of it to predict the final issue, but afterwards to assume, even as he had already done before, that the exact opposite of this is the only possible issue?
3. Seeing then that every consideration favors most decidedly the view which interprets the passage in accordance with a moderate eschatology, the question still remains: whether that beholding of God after this earthly life, which Job here anticipates as taking place concurrently with the vindication of his honor and his redemption, is conceived of by him as something that is to be realized in the sphere of abstract spirituality, or whether his conception of it is more concrete, realistic, in analogy with the relations of this earthly life? In other words, the question is: whether his idea of immortality is abstractly spiritualistic, or one which up to a certain point approximates the New Testament doctrine of a resurrection? We have already declared above (on Job 19:27 b) in favor of the latter opinion; because (1) The mention of the eyes with which he expects to see God admits only of that pneumatico-realistic meaning, under the influence of which the Old Testament speaks even of eyes, ears, and other bodily organs as belonging to God, and in general furnishes solid supports to the proposition of Oetinger touching corporeity as the “end of the ways of God.” To this it may be added that (2) the absolute incorporealness of Job’s condition after death is in no wise expressed by the phrase מִבְּשָׂרִי, notwithstanding the privative meaning which in any case belongs to מִן, that this expression merely indicates the object of Job’s hope to be a release from his present miserable body of flesh, and that accordingly what Job here anticipates is (gradually accomplished to be sure, but) not specifically different from that which the Apostle calls τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν τοῦ σώματος ἡμῶν (Rom. 8:23; comp. Job 7:25), or what on another occasion he expresses in more negative form by the proposition: ὅτι σὰρξ καὶ αἶμα βασιλείαν Θεοῦ κληρονομῆσαι οὐ δύνανται οὐδὲ ἡ φθορὰ τὴν ἀφθαρσίαν κληρονομεῖ (1 Cor. 15:50).—Still further (3) the concluding verse of Job 14. shows that Job conceives even of man’s condition in Sheol as by no means one of abstract incorporeality, but rather invests this gloomy and mournful stage of his existence after death with two factors of being (בשׂר and נפשׁ), conceiving of them as existing in conjunction, and as standing in some kind of a relation to each other (see above on the passage). Finally (4): The perfected realistic hopes of a resurrection, found in the later Old Testament literature from the time of Ezekiel and Daniel on, would be absolutely inconceivable, they would be found drifting in the air without attachment or support, they would be without all historical precedent, if in the passage before us the hope of immortality be understood in the light of an abstract spirituality. What Job says here is certainly nothing more than a germ of the more complete resurrection creed of a later time, but it must indubitably be regarded as such a germ, as such a seminal anticipation of that which the Israel of a later period believed and expected in respect to the future state. Its relation to the perfected eschatology of those prophets of the exile, as well as to the post-exilic literature of the Apocrypha (for example the II. Book of Maccabees) is like that “of the protevangelium to the perfected soteriology of revelation; it presents only the first lines of the picture, which is worked up in detail later on, but also an outline, sketched in such a way that all the knowledge of later times may be added to it” (Delitzsch)—as from of old the Church has been doing, and still is doing, in her epitaphs, hymns, liturgies, and musical compositions, and this too with some degree of right, although largely in violation of the law of exegetical sobriety.
[The following additional considerations, suggested by the passage, and the context, may be urged in favor of the view here advocated. (1) Job, as the context shows, is, while uttering this sublime prediction, painfully conscious of what he is suffering in the body. Note the whole passage, Job 19:13–20, where the estrangement of his most intimate friends and kindred is associated with the loathsome condition into which his disease has brought him. Note again how in the heart of the prophecy itself (Job 19:26), he is still unable to repress the utterance of this same painful consciousness of his bodily condition. If now he anticipates here a Divine Intervention which is to vindicate him, is it not natural that he should include in that vindication, albeit vaguely and remotely, some compensation for the physical wrong he was suffering? If God would appear to recompense the indignity to his good name, would He not appear at the same time to recompense the indignity from which his body had so grievously suffered? In a word, would not the same experience which here blossoms so gloriously into the prophetic assurance of a justification of his spiritual integrity, bear at least the bud of a resurrection-hope for the body, although the latter would be, ex necessitate rei, less perfectly developed than the former? Surely the Day of Restitution, which he knows is to come, will bring with it some compensation for this grievous bodily ill, the dark shadow of which flits across even this bright vision of faith! This presumption is still further heightened when we note that he himself, with his own eyes, is to witness that restitution.
(2). The phrase עַל־עָפָר is not without significance. It certainly means something more specific than “on the earth.” The Goel is to stand “on dust” (or “on the dust”—article poetically omitted), the place where lies the dust of the body gathered to the dust of the earth. This is the only exegesis of עפר that is either etymologically admissible, or suited to the context. The Vindication is thus brought into local connection with the grave. And this can mean only one thing. It shows at least that Job could not conceive of this future restitution as taking place away and apart from his dust. His body, his physical self, was in some way—he has no conception how—to be interested in it.
(3). The expression מִבְּשָׂרִי is no objection to this view, even with the privative sense which our Commy. (and correctly I think) attaches to מִן. It does not mean,—it is doubtful, as Zöckler remarks, whether for a Hebrew it could mean,—an abstract unqualified spirituality. At all events the connection shows that here, as often elsewhere in Job (comp. Job 7:15; 14:22; 34:21, etc.), בשׂר is used specifically of the body as the seat of suffering and corruption, the τὸ φθαρτὸν τοῦτο of Paul. Twice indeed in this immediate connection it is used in this sense, to wit, in Job 19:19, and Job 19:22 (figuratively, however). Observe particularly that in Job 19:19, as in Job 19:26 the “flesh” is associated with the “skin” in describing his emaciated condition. When therefore he describes his physical condition at the time of his ultimate restitution first by the clause “after my skin, which shall have been destroyed—even this!” and then by the clause, “and without my flesh,” what he means evidently is, when skin and flesh are both no more, when the destruction, the decay, begun by disease, and to be continued in the grave, has finished its course; then would he behold God.—“After my skin”—and “without my flesh” are thus parallelistic equivalents, of which still another equivalent is found in “dust,” the last result of bodily decay.—These elements of the passage thus fix the place and the time of the coming restitution; the place—the grave, the time—the remote future, when his body should be dust.
It seems clear therefore that the passage cannot be regarded on the one hand as a distinct formal enunciation of a literal resurrection, for the last view which he gives us of his body is as that which is no more, as dust. Just as little on the other hand is it a mere vindication of his memory, a declaration of the integrity of his cause, an abstract spiritual beholding of God, for he is conscious of physical suffering—he anticipates a complete restitution—one therefore which will bring some reparation of the wrong which he has suffered in the body, the grave where his dust lies is to be the scene of his vindication, and he, the אֲנִי now speaking, the personal I contrasted with “a stranger,” as complete realistic a personality, therefore, as any זָר then living,—he is to be there, seeing with his own eyes, and exulting in the sight. This necessarily implies a rehabilitation of the man, as well as of his cause, a rehabilitation after death, as the terms and internal scope of the passage prove, as well as the external plan and scope of the book; and if not a resurrection, it at least carries us a long way forward in the direction of that truth. It is, as Delitzsch says above, an outline of that doctrine which needs but a few touches to complete the representation. Indeed it may be said that if the passage had contained one additional thought, more definitely linking the dust of Job’s body with that future אני, that vaguely foreshadowed organism with the eyes of which he was to see God, the enunciation of a resurrection would be almost complete. But that thought is wanting. It is not in the Book of Job. That which is given, however, points to the resurrection; and the pæan of the Old Testament saint, this old “song of the night,” breathing forth faith’s yearning towards the “glorious appearing” of Him who is “The Last” as He is “The First,” of which, though the singer understands it not, he is yet triumphantly assured, may be chanted by the Christian believer with no less confidence, and with a truer and more precious realization of what it means.
(4) The interpretation which refers the vindication of Job to this life is sufficiently refuted above. The argument, urged by Zöckler as by others, that such an anticipation of a vindication before death is inconsistent with Job’s frequent declarations that he had no hope, and that he was near his grave, is perhaps fairly enough answered by Noyes: “As if a person, who is represented as agitated by the most violent and opposite emotions, could be expected to be consistent in his sentiments and language. What can be more natural than that Job, in a state of extreme depression, arising from the thought of his wrongs, the severity of his afflictions, and the natural tendency of his disease, should express himself in the language of despair, and yet that he should be animated soon after by conscious innocence and the thought of God’s justice, goodness and power, to break forth into the language of hope and confidence?” Job’s utterances are in fact marked by striking inconsistencies, as he is swayed by this feeling or by that. The following considerations are, however, decisive against this view.
a. It furnishes a far less adequate explanation of the remarkable elevation and ardor of feeling which Job here exhibits than the other view, which refers it to the hereafter.
b. However well it may harmonize with some of the expressions used, there are others with which it is altogether irreconcilable. This is especially true of עַל־עָפָר יָקוּם and the preposition in מִבְּשָׂרִי. It may also be said that אַחַר—which is best explained as a preposition before עוֹרִי—implies a state wherein the skin has ceased to be, in like manner as מִן before בְּשָׂרִי. Both these prepositions carry us forward to an indefinitely remote period after death, and are thus inconsistent with the idea of a physical restoration before death. It is especially inconceivable that the poet should have used על־עפר to describe the place where the God should appear, if the appearance was to be before death, when it is remembered how invariably elsewhere, when mentioned in connection with Job, it is associated with the grave. Comp. Job 7:21; 8:19; 10:9; 17:16; 20:11; 21:26; 34:15.3
c. It would be, as Zöckler well argues, a serious artistic fault, were Job at this point to be introduced predicting the actual historical solution of the drama in language so definite, and this while the evolution of the drama is still going on, and the logical entanglement is at its height. According to the eschatological theory, the passage before us is a momentary gleam of brightness from the Life Beyond, which lights up with preternatural beauty the lurid centre of the dark drama before us, which, however it may modify the development which follows, leaves it essentially unchanged, moving on towards its historic consummation, according to the plan which our poet has so grandly conceived and so steadfastly pursued thus far. The light which here breaks through the clouds is from a source much further than the setting of Job’s earthly day. It is a light even which sends forward its reflection to the final earthly consummation, and which rests on the latter as an ineffable halo, giving to the radiant eve of the patriarch’s life a sacred beauty such as without this passage could not have belonged to it. If, on the other hand, it were an anticipation of Job’s earthly restoration, it would be a sudden, violent, inexplicable thrusting of the solution into the heart of the conflict, leaving the conflict nevertheless to struggle on as before, and the solution itself to be swallowed up and forgotten, until it reappears at the close, having lost, however, through this premature suggestion of it, the majesty which attends its unexpected coming. It is true that the poet, with that rare irony which he knows so well how to use, introduces the friends as from time to time unconsciously prophesying Job’s restoration. But those incidental and indirect anticipations have a very different signification from what this solemn, lofty, direct, and confident utterance from the hero himself would have, if it were referred to the issue of the poem.
(5) Per contra—the view advocated in the Commentary and in these Remarks has in its favor the following considerations:
a. It furnishes by far the most satisfactory explanation of the more difficult expressions of the text. See above.
b. It is most in harmony with the representations of the future found elsewhere in the book, especially Job 14:13–15, of which this passage is at once the glorious counterpart and complement;—that being a prophetic yearning for the recovery of his departed personality from the gloom of Sheol, a recovery which is to be a change into a new life, even as this is a prophetic pæan of a Divine interposition which is not only to vindicate his cause, but also to realize his restored personality as a witness of the scene.
c. It is most in harmony with the doctrinal development of the Old Testament. It carries us beyond the abstract idea of a disembodied immortality to an intermediate realistic conception of the resuscitation of the whole personality, a conception which is an indispensable stepping-stone to the distinct recognition of the truth of the resurrection. The development of the doctrine would be incomplete, if not unintelligible, without the Book of Job, thus understood.—E.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
In the treatment of this chapter for practical edification, the passage in Job 19:25–27 will of course be the centre and the goal of our meditations. It must not, however, be separated from its surroundings in such a way that on the one side the preparation and immediate occasion for the upsoaring of his soul in yearning and hope to God, to be found in the sorrowful plaint of Job 19:6–20, and on the other side the stern and earnest warning to the friends, with which the whole discourse closes (Job 19:28, 29), will fail of being set forth in the proper light and in their organic connection. It is fitting accordingly to show that it is one who feels himself to be forsaken by God and men, to be cast out by this world, and even by all that he held dearest in it, who here suddenly leaps up to that hope out of the most painful agitation and the profoundest depression of spirit, being supported in this flight by the train of thought developed in Job 19:21–24:—that when his contemporaries refuse to hear his appeals for compassion, and when the acknowledgment of his innocence, which he has reason to expect from posterity, presents itself as something which he can by no possibility live to see for himself, God, the Everlasting One, who is above all time, still remains to him as his only consolation, although, indeed, a consolation all the more sure and powerful. Not less is it to be shown how Job, feeling himself to be, as it were, sanctified and lifted high above this lower earthly sphere by the thought of this God and the joy of future union with Him, which he waits for with such longing, immediately after the utterance of his hope turns all the more sharply against the friends, in order that—being filled as yet by the thought of God’s agency in judicial retribution, through which he hopes one day to be justified—he may warn them still more urgently than before against becoming, through their continued harshness and injustice towards himself, the objects of God’s retributive interposition, and of His eternal wrath. Essentially thus, only more briefly and comprehensively, does v. Gerlach give the course of thought in the entire discourse: “The pronounced sharpness, visible in the speeches of the friends, intensifies also in Job the strong and gloomy descriptions which he gives of his sufferings. But the wonderful notable antithesis which he presents—God Himself against God!—God in His dealings with him showing His anger, and inflicting punishment, but at the same time irresistibly revealing Himself to the inmost consciousness of faith as all-gracious, bringing deliverance and blessedness—this gives to the sufferer the clear light of a knowledge in which all his former faint, yearnings shape themselves into fixed certainty. God appears to him as the holy and merciful manager of his cause, and even, after a painful end, as the Giver of a blessed eternal life. … To the friends, however, he declares finally with sharp words, that although their legal security and rigor has already made them sure of victory, God’s interposition in judgment will so much the more completely put them to shame.
Job 19:6 seq. BRENTIUS: When conscience confronts the judgment, when it cries out to God in trouble, and its prayer is not answered, it accuses God of injustice. … But the thoughts of a heart forsaken by the Lord are in this passage most beautifully described; for what else can it think, when all aid is withdrawn, than that God is unjust, if, after first taking sin away, He nevertheless pays the wages of sin, even death? and if again, after promising that He will be nigh to those who are in trouble, He seems not only not to be affected, but even to be delighted by our calamities? When the flames of hell thus rage around us, we must look to Christ alone, who was made in all things like to His brethren, and was tempted that He might be able to succor those who are tempted.—ZEYSS: There is no trial more grievous than when in affliction and suffering it seems as though God had become our enemy, has no compassion upon us, and will neither hear nor help.—IDEM (on Job 19:13 seq.): To be forsaken and despised by one’s own kindred and household companions is hard. But herein the children of God must become like their Saviour, who in His suffering was forsaken by all men, even by His dearest disciples and nearest relations: thus will they learn to build on no man, but only on the living God, who is ever true—EGARD: Friends do not (usually) adhere in trial and need; with prosperity they take their departure, forgetful of their love and troth. Men are liars; they are inconstant as the wind, which passes away. But because trial and need come from God, the withdrawal of friends is ascribed to God, for had He not caused the trial to come, the friends would have remained.
Job 19:23 seq. WOHLFARTH: The wish of the pious sufferer that his history might be preserved for posterity, was fulfilled. In hundreds of languages the truth is now proclaimed to all the people of the earth—that even the godly man is not free from suffering, but in the consciousness of his innocence, and in faith in God, Providence and Immortality, he finds consolation which will not permit him to sink, and his patient waiting for the glorious issue of God’s dark dispensations, is crowned without fail.
Job 19:25 seq. OECOLAMPADIUS: These are the words of Job’s faith, nay, of that of the Church Universal, which desires that they may be transmitted to all ages: “And I know,” etc. … We, taking faith for our teacher, and remembering what great things Job has declared beforehand he is about to set forth here, understand it of the resurrection. We believe that we shall see Christ, our Judge, in this body which we now bear about, and in no other, with these eyes, and no others. For as Christ rose again in the same body in which He suffered and was buried, so we also shall rise again in the same body in which we now carry on our warfare.—BRENTIUS: A most clear confession of faith! From this passage it may be seen what is the method of true faith, viz., in death to believe in life, in hell to believe in heaven, in wrath and judgment to believe in God the Redeemer, as the Apostle, whoever he may have been, truly says in writing to the Hebrews: Faith is the substance of things hoped for, etc. (Heb. 11:1). For in Job nothing is less apparent than life and the resurrection; rather is it hell that is perceived. “Nevertheless,” he says, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, however He may now seem to sleep and to be angry; nevertheless I know and by faith I behold beneath this wrath great favor, beneath this condemner a redeemer. You will observe in this place how despair and hope succeed each other by turns in the godly.”—STARKE (after Zeyss and Joach. Lange): As surely as that Christ, our Redeemer, is risen from death by His power, and is entered into His glory, so. surely will all who believe in Him rise again to eternal life by His divine power. … The Messiah is in such wise the Living One, yea more, the Life itself (John 14:6; 11:25), in that he proves Himself to be the Living One, by making us alive. … This is the best comfort in the extremity of death, that as Christ rose again from the dead, therefore we shall arise with him (Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15.).—V. GERLACH: It is remarkable in this passage that Job, after indulging in those most gloomy descriptions of the realm of the dead, which run through his discourses from Job 3. on, should here soar up to such a joyous hope touching his destiny after death. Precisely this, however, constitutes the very kernel of the history that through his fellowship with God Job’s sufferings become the means, first, of overcoming in himself that legal stand-point, with which that gloomy, cheerless, outlook was most closely united, and thereby of gaining the victory over the friends with their legalistic tendencies.—Moreover, we must not be led astray by the fact that in the end Job’s victory is set even for this life, and that he receives an earthly compensation for his losses. The meaning of this turn of events is that God gives to His servant, who has shown himself to be animated by such firm confidence in Himself, more than he could ask or think.
Job 19:28 seq. SEB. SCHMIDT: Job’s friends knew that there is a judgment, and they had proceeded from this principle in their discussions thus far. Job accordingly would speak of the subject here not in the abstract, but in connection with the matter under consideration: “in order that ye may know that God will administer judgment in respect to all iniquities of the sword, which you among yourselves imagine to be of no consequence, and not to be feared, and that He will punish them most severely.”—CRAMER: God indeed punishes much even in this life; but much is reserved for the last judgment. Hence he who escapes temporal punishment here, will not for that reason escape all divine punishment.
The above extract from Watts will supply for the English reader the place of the extract given by our author from P. GERHARD’S hymn: “Ein Lämmlein geht und trägt die Schuld.”
[Among other prominent English theological writers who interpret the passage of Christ and the final resurrection, may be mentioned Owen, Vol. XII., Stand. Lib. of Brit. Divines, p. 508 seq.; Bp. Andrew’ Sermons, Vol. II., p. 251 seq. in Lib. of Ang.—Cath. Theol.; Bp. Sherlock, Works 1830, Vol. II., p. 167 seq.; John Newton, Works, Vol. IV., p. 435 seq.; Bp. Pearson on the Creed, Art. XI.; Dr. W. H. Mill, Lent Sermons, Cambridge, 1845; Dr. W. L. Alexander, Connec. and Harm. of O. and N. Tests., p. 153 seq.—E.]
Even in Job 41:25  it suggests, as Umbreit correctly observes, earth as a transitory state of activity for leviathan.
Then Job answered and said,