Matthew Poole's Commentary
Then Job answered and said,Job’s answer: his friends’ strangeness and reproaches vex him, Job 19:1-3. He layeth before them his great misery to provoke their pity, Job 19:6-22; wisheth his words might be recorded, Job 19:23,24. His hope in his Redeemer and the resurrection, Job 19:25-27. His friends should not reproach his integrity, for fear of like judgment, Job 19:28,29.
No text from Poole on this verse.
How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?With mere empty words, void of sense or argument; with your impertinent and unedifying discourses, and bitter reproaches, as it followeth.
These ten times have ye reproached me: ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me.These ten times, i.e. many times. A certain number for an uncertain. So this phrase is oft used, as Genesis 31:7 Numbers 14:22, &c.
That ye make yourselves strange to me; that you carry yourselves like strangers to me, and are not concerned nor affected with my calamities, and condemn me as if you had never known my former piety and integrity.
And be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth with myself.If my opinion in this point be faulty and erroneous, as you pretend it is. Or, if I have sinned, (for sin is oft called error in Scripture,) and am therefore punished.
Mine error remaineth with myself; either,
1. It is likely to continue, I see no cause from your reasons to change my judgment. Or,
2. I suffer deeply for my sins, and therefore deserve your pity and help, rather than your reproaches, whereby you add affliction to the afflicted.
If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me, and plead against me my reproach:Magnify yourselves against me, i.e. use lofty, and imperious, and contemptuous speeches against me; or seek praise and honour from others, by your conquering or outreasoning of me.
My reproach; either,
1. Your reproaches of me; if your reproachful and censorious speeches must pass for solid arguments. Or,
2. My wickedness, which, if true, were just matter of reproach, and the cause of all my miseries. Or,
3. My contemptible and calamitous condition, for which you reproach and condemn me as a hypocrite and wicked man.
Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net.Know now; consider what I am now saying.
Hath overthrown me; hath grievously afflicted me in all kinds; therefore it ill becomes you to aggravate my miseries; and if my passions, hereby raised, have broken forth into some extravagant and unmeet expressions, I might expect your pity and favourable construction, and not such severe censures and reproaches. Heb. God hath perverted me, i.e. either my state or condition, as was now said, or my right and cause. He oppresseth me with power, and will not give me a fair hearing, as it follows, Job 19:7. He giveth me very hard measure, and dealeth worse with me than I might in reason and justice expect from so wise and good a God. This is a harsh reflection upon God; but such passages have sometimes come from good men, when under sore afflictions and temptations, which was Job’s case.
With his net, i.e. with afflictions on every side, so that I cannot escape, nor get any freedom to come to him and plead with him, as I desire.
Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment.I cry out, to wit, unto God by prayer or appeal.
Of wrong; that I am oppressed, either,
1. By my friends; or rather,
2. By God, who deals with me according to his sovereign power and exact and rigorous justice, and not with that equity and benignity which he showeth to the generality of men, and hath promised to good men, such as he knoweth me to be.
There is no judgment: God will not hear my cause, nor pass sentence; which I might reasonably expect from him; but he quite neglects me, and hath utterly forsaken me, and left me in the hands of the devil and wicked men. See the like complaints of other good men in the like case of desertion, Psalm 13:2 22:2 88:15 Lamentations 3:8 Habakkuk 1:2.
He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths.That I cannot pass, i.e. so that I know not what to say or do, and can see no means nor possibility of getting out of my troubles.
He hath set darkness in my paths; so that I cannot discern my way, or what course I should take.
He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head.Of my glory, i.e. of my estate, and children, and authority, and all my comforts.
The crown, i.e. all my ornaments.
He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone: and mine hope hath he removed like a tree.On every side, i.e. in all respects, and to all intents and purposes; my person, and family, and estate.
I am gone, i.e. I am a lost and dead man. Going is oft put for dying, as Genesis 15:2 Psalm 39:13.
Mine hope, i.e. all my hopes of the present life, as he oft expresseth it; but not of the life to come, as appears from Job 13:15,16 19:25, &c.
Like a tree; which being once plucked up by the roots, never groweth again.
He hath also kindled his wrath against me, and he counteth me unto him as one of his enemies.He hath stirred up his wrath against me of his own accord, without any provocation of mine, human infirmity excepted.
He counteth me unto him as one of his enemies, i.e. he useth me as sharply as if I were an inveterate enemy of God and of all goodness, though he knoweth I am and have ever been a hearty lover and servant of him.
His troops come together, and raise up their way against me, and encamp round about my tabernacle.His troops, i.e. my afflictions, which are but God’s instruments and soldiers marching under his conduct.
Raise up their way; either,
1. Cast a bank or trench round about me, as an army doth when they go to besiege a place. Or rather,
2. Make a causeway or raised path, as pioneers usually do in low and waterish grounds for the march of an army. God removes all impediments out of the way, and lays me open to all manner of mischief.
He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me.My brethren, i.e. my kindred and friends, who might and should have supported and comforted me in my distress.
Far from me; either,
1. In place; because they feared or disdained, or at least neglected, to visit or succour me. Or,
2. In their affections, which are far from me, when their bodies are present with me, as I find in you. But this also I ascribe to God; he hath alienated your hearts from me.
My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me.My kinsfolk have failed, to wit, to perform the offices of humanity and friendship which they owe to me.
Have forgotten me, i.e. neglect and disregard me as much as if they had quite forgotten me.
They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight.They that dwell in mine house, Heb. the sojourners of my house, i.e. such as had formerly sojourned with me, whether strangers. widows, and fatherless, whom by the law of charity and hospitality he entertained; or hired servants, who had for a good while their habitation and subsistence in his family.
My maids; who, by reason of their sex, commonly have and should have more tender and compassionate hearts than men. And therefore this is God’s doing, who hath hardened their hearts against me.
Count me for a stranger; regard my commands and concerns no more than a stranger.
I am an alien in their sight; the same thing repeated, through vehemency of passion, because this lay very heavy upon him.
I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I intreated him with my mouth.I called my servant, to do some servile office about me, for my case or relief, and he passed by as if he had been deaf, because he loathed and feared to come near to me; although to my commands I added humble and earnest desires.
With my mouth: either,
1. With gentle and moving speeches; or rather,
2. With my own mouth, and not by a proxy.
My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children's sake of mine own body.To my wife; who by reason of the stink of my breath and sores denied me her company.
For the children’s sake of mine own body; by these pledges of our mutual and matrimonial tie and affection, the children which came out of my loins, and were begotten by me upon her body. But divers render the words thus, and I entreated the children of my own body, i.e. either some of Job’s younger children, who by reason of their tender years were kept at home with their father, when their elder brethren and sisters were gone abroad to the feast; or some of his grandchildren by those grown sons and daughters; for such also oft come under the name of children. But this sense seems not so proper, partly because according to that translation here is mention only of Job’s entreating them, but not a word of their denying his request; which is the only matter of his present complaint; and partly because according to the former translation it is a great and just aggravation of his wife’s unkindness, and exactly answers to the foregoing verse, where the servant’s perverseness is aggravated in the same manner, and by part of the same words.
Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me.Young children; or, fools; the most contemptible persons. I arose, to wit, from my seat, to show my respect to them, though they were my inferiors; to show my readiness to comply with that mean and low condition, into which God had now brought me. Or, I stood up; for so this word sometimes signifies. I did not disoblige or provoke them by any uncivil and uncomely carriage towards them, but was very courteous to them; and yet they make it their business to rail against me, as you also do.
All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me.My inward friends, Heb. the men of my secret; my intimates and confidants, to whom I imparted all my thoughts, and counsels, and concerns.
Whom I loved sincerely and fervently, which they so ill requite. He saith not, they who loved me; for their love, had it been true, would have continued in his affliction as well as in his prosperity.
My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.My bone, i.e. my bones; the singular collectively put for the plural, as Job 2:5 Proverbs 15:30.
Cleaveth to my skin, to wit, immediately, the fat and flesh next to the skin being consumed. The sense is, I am worn to skin and bone: see the same phrase Psalm 102:5.
And to my flesh; or, as (the particle and being often so used, as hath been observed before) to my flesh, i.e. either as formerly it clave to my flesh, or as near and as closely as it doth to these remainders of flesh which are left in my inward parts.
I am escaped with the skin of my teeth; I am scarce sound and whole and free from sores in any part of my skin, except that of my jaws, which holdeth and covereth the roots of my teeth. This being, as divers observe, the devil’s policy, to leave his mouth untouched, that he might more freely express his mind, and vent his blasphemies against God, which he supposed sharp pain would force him to do, and which he knew would be of pernicious consequence not only to Job, but to others also.
Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.O ye my friends; for such you have been, and still pretend to be; and therefore fulfil that relation; and if you will not help me, yet at least pity me.
Hath touched me, i.e. smitten or afflicted me sorely, as this word is oft used; as Job 1:11 Psalm 104:32.
Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?As God; either,
1. As God doth; or rather,
2. As if you were gods, and not men; as if you had the same infinite knowledge which God hath, whereby you can search my heart, and know my hypocrisy; and the same sovereign and absolute authority, to say and do what you please with me, without giving any reason or account of it, which is indeed the prerogative of the great God; but it belongs not to you, who are men, and therefore liable to mistake and misjudging, and such as must give all account to God of all their words and carriages towards their brethren, and particularly towards persons in affliction, and withal subject to the same diseases and calamities under which I groan; and therefore may need the pity which I expect from you.
With my flesh, i.e. with the consumption and torment of my whole body, but add to it the vexation of my spirit, by grievous reproaches and censures; but are like wolves or lions, that are not contented with devouring the flesh of their prey, but also break their bones.
Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!My words; either,
1. The following and famous confession of his faith, Job 19:25, &c. Or rather,
2. All his foregoing discourses with his friends, which he was so far from disowning or being ashamed of, that he was desirous that all ages should know, that they might judge between him and them, whose cause was better, and whose arguments were stronger.
That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!An iron pen; of which also there is mention Jeremiah 17:1.
And lead; or, or lead; or, with lead; the particle and being oft so used, as Genesis 4:20 Exodus 1:6 Jeremiah 22:7. For this lead may be either,
1. The writing pen, which might be either of iron or of lead; for though lead be of itself too soft, yet there was an art of tempering lead with other metals to such a degree of hardness that it could pierce into a rock; as they did-also temper brass, so that they could make bows and swords of it. Or,
2. The writing table; for the ancients did use to write divers things in lead, as is well known. Or,
3. The writing ink, as I may call it; for they used to grave the letters in a stone with an iron tool, and then to fill up the cuts or furrows made in the stone with lead, that the words might be more plainly seen and read.
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:This is the reason of his great confidence in the goodness of his cause, and his willingness to have the matter depending between him and his friends published and submitted to any trial, because he had a living and powerful Redeemer to plead his cause, and vindicate his person from all their severe censures, and to give sentence for him.
I know: I have no knowledge, nor confidence, nor hope of restitution to the prosperities of this life; yet this one thing I know, which is more comfortable and considerable, and therein I rejoice, though I be now a dying man, and in a desperate condition for this life.
My redeemer; in whom I have a particular interest, and he hath a particular care of me.
Quest. What redeemer and what deliverance doth Job speak of in this and the two following verses?
Answ. Some late interpreters understand this place metaphorically, of God’s delivering Job out of his doleful and desperate condition, and restoring him to his former splendour and happiness in the world; it being a very usual thing in Scripture to call eminent dangers or calamities by the name of death, as Psalm 22:15 88:4,5 Eze 37:11,12 2 Corinthians 11:23; and great and glorious deliverances by the name of quickening and resurrection, as Psalm 71:20 Isaiah 26:19 Romans 11:15. But the most interpreters, both ancient and modern, understand it of Christ, and of his resurrection, and of Job’s resurrection to life by his power and favour; which seems most probable for many reasons.
1. From that known rule, that a proper and literal interpretation of Scripture is always to be preferred before the metaphorical, where it suits with the text and with other scriptures.
2. From the Hebrew word goel, here used; which although sometimes it be used of God absolutely, or essentially considered, yet it most properly agrees to Jesus Christ; for this word, as all Hebricians know, is primarily used of the next kinsman, whose office it was to redeem by a price paid the sold or mortgaged estate of his deceased kinsman, Leviticus 25:25; and to revenge his death, Numbers 35:12; and to maintain his name and honour, by raising up seed to him, Deu 25:5: all which most fitly agrees to Christ, who is our nearest Kinsman and Brother, Hebrews 2:11, as having taken our nature upon him by incarnation; who also hath redeemed that everlasting inheritance which our first parents had utterly lost and sold by the price of his own blood; and hath revenged the death of mankind upon the great contriver of it, the devil, by destroying him and his kingdom; and hath taken a course to preserve our name, and honour, and persons to eternity. And if the places where God is called Goel in the Old Testament be examined, it will be found that either all or most of them may be, and some of them must be, understood of God the Son, or of Christ, as Genesis 48:16 Isaiah 49:20. See also Psalm 74:2 Isaiah 41:14 44:16 49:7 52:3 63:16.
3. Because Job was so far from such a firm confidence as he here professeth, that he had not the least degree of hope of any such glorious temporal restoration as his friends promised to him, as we have oft seen and observed in the former discourses, as Job 16:22 17:12,13, &c. And therefore that hope which every righteous man hath in his death, Proverbs 14:32, and which Job oft professeth that he had, must necessarily be fixed upon his happiness in the future life.
4. Because some of the following expressions cannot without wresting and violence be applied to a metaphorical resurrection, as we shall see in the sequel.
5. Because this is a more lofty and spiritual strain than any in Job’s former discourses, and quite contrary to them. And as they generally savour of dejection and diffidence, and do either declare or increase his grief; so this puts him into another and much better temper. And therefore it is well observed, that after this time and these expressions we meet not with any such impatient or despairing passages as we had before; which shows that they had inspired him with new life and comfort.
6. Because this well agrees with other passages in this book; wherein Job declareth, that although he had no hope as to this life, And the comforts thereof, yet he had a hope beyond death, which made him profess, Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him, Job 13:15. Trust in him; for what? Surely for comfort and happiness. Where? Not in this life, for that he supposeth to be lost; therefore it must be in the next life. And this was one reason why he so vehemently desired death, because he knew it would bring him unto God and unto true felicity. And this his hope and confidence in God, and in his favour to him, Job opposeth to those foul and false aspersions which his friends had cast upon him, as if he had forsaken God, and cast off all fear of him, and hope in him.
1. If this place had spoken of the resurrection of the body, some of the Hebrew’ writers or commentators upon this place, who did believe that doctrine, would have understood it so, and have urged it against the Sadducees, which they did not.
1. All the Jewish writers which are now extant lived and wrote since Christ’s time, when the doctors of that people were very ignorant of many great truths, and of the plain meaning of many scriptures, and very corrupt in their principles as well as in their practices.
2. There was a manifest reason why they could not understand this text thus, because they believed that Job in his agonies did deny God’s providence, and consequently the resurrection and the future judgment, which though it was a most uncharitable and false opinion, yet forced them to interpret this text another way.
2. How is it credible that Job, in those ancient times, and in that dark state of the church, should know these great mysteries of Christ’s incarnation, and of the resurrection and life to come?
Answ. 1. The mystery of Christ’s incarnation was revealed to Adam by that first and famous promise, that the seed of the woman should break the serpent’s head, Genesis 3:15; which being the only foundation of all his hopes for the recovery and salvation of himself, and of all his posterity, he would doubtless carefully and diligently teach and explain it, as need required, to those that descended from him.
2. That the ancient patriarchs and prophets were generally acquainted with these doctrines is undeniably evident from Hebrews 11 1 Peter 1:9-12.
3. Particularly Abraham, from whom Job is supposed to have descended, had the promise made to him, that Christ should come out of his loins, Genesis 12:3; and is said to have seen, Christ’s day, and rejoiced to see it, John 8:56, and had his hopes and desires fixed upon a divine and heavenly city and country, Hebrews 11:10,16. And as Abraham knew and believed these things himself, so it is manifest that, he taught them to his children and servants, Genesis 18:19, and to his kindred and others, as he had occasion. And therefore it cannot seem strange that Job professeth his faith and hope in these things.
My redeemer liveth: I am a dying man, and my hopes are dying, but he liveth, and that for ever; and therefore though I die, yet he both can and will make me live again in due time, though not in this world, yet in the other, which is much better; and though I am now highly censured and condemned by my friends and others as a great dissembler and a secret sinner, whom God’s hand hath found out; yet there is a day coming wherein my cause shall be pleaded, and my name and honour vindicated from all these reproaches, and my integrity brought to light.
He shall stand: I am falling and dying, but he shall stand firm, and unmovable, and victorious, in full power and authority; all which this word
stand signifies; and therefore he is able to make me stand in judgment, and to maintain my cause against all opposers. Or, he shall arise, as this verb most commonly signifies, i.e. either,
1. He shall exist, or be born, as this word is oft used; as Numbers 32:14 Deu 29:22 Judges 2:10 1 Kings 3:12 Matthew 11:11. And it notes Christ’s incarnation, that although as he was God he was now and from all eternity in being, yet he should in due time be made man, and be born of a woman. Or,
2. He shall arise out of the dust; which had been more probable, if it had been in the text from or out of, as now it is upon, the earth or dust; for Christ’s resurrection from the dead might be fitly mentioned here as the cause of Job’s resurrection, which followeth.
At the latter day; either,
1. In the days of the Messiah, or of the gospel, which are oft called the
latter or last days or times; as Isaiah 2:2 Hosea 3:5 Joel 2:28, compared with Acts 2:17 1 Timothy 4:1 2 Timothy 3:1 Hebrews 1:1. Or rather,
2. At the day of the general resurrection and judgment, which, as those holy patriarchs well knew and firmly believed, was to be at the end of the world, and which is called the last day, John 6:39,40,44,51 11:24 12:48 1 Peter 1:5; for this was the time when Job’s resurrection, of which he speaketh here, was to be. Heb. at the last; by which word he plainly intimates that his hope was not of things present, and of worldly felicities, of which his friends had discoursed so much; but of another kind of, and a far greater, blessedness, which should accrue to him in after-times, long after he was dead and rotten. Or, the last; who is both the first and the last, Isaiah 44:6 Revelation 1:11, who shall subdue and survive all his and his people’s enemies, and after others the last enemy, death, 1 Corinthians 15:26, and then shall raise up his people and plead their cause, and vindicate them from all the calumnies and injuries which are put upon them, and conduct them to life and glory.
Upon the earth; the place upon which Christ shall appear and stand at the last day. Heb. upon the dust; in which his saints and members lie or sleep, whom he will raise out of it. And therefore he is fitly said to stand upon the dust, or the grave, or death, because then he will put that among other enemies under his feet; as it is expressed, 1 Corinthians 15:25,26. Some render the words thus, and that very agreeably to the Hebrew, the last, or at the last, he shall arise or stand up against (for so this very phrase is used, Genesis 4:8 Judges 9:18 Psalm 44:3) the dust, and fight with it, and rescue the bodies of the saints, which are held in it as prisoners, from its dominion and territories. Some understand this of God, that he should stand last in the field, as Conqueror of all his enemies. But this neither agrees with the words, the Hebrew aphar signifying dust, and being never used of the field or place of battle; nor with Job’s scope, which was to defend himself against his friends’ accusations, and to comfort himself with his hopes and assurance of God’s favour to be exhibited to him in due time; which end the words in that sense would by no means serve, because God might and would be Conqueror of all his enemies, though Job himself had been one of them, and though his cause had been bad, and his friends should with God have triumphed over him.
And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:The style of this and other poetical books is concise and short, and therefore many words are to be understood in some places to complete the sense. The meaning of the place is this, Though my skin is now in a great measure consumed by sores, and the rest of it, together with this body, shall be devoured by the worms; which may seem to make my case quite desperate. Heb.
And though (which particle, as it is oft elsewhere, is here to be understood, as the opposition of the next branch showeth)
after my skin (which either now is, or suddenly will be, consumed by sores or worms) they (i.e. the destroyers, or devourers, as is implied in the verb; such impersonal speeches being usual in the Scripture; as Genesis 1:26 Luke 12:20 16:9, where the actions are expressed, but the persons or things acting are understood. And by the destroyers he most probably designs the worms, which do this work in the grave) destroy, or cut off, or devour this, i.e. all this which you see left of me, this which I now point to, all this which is contained within my skin, all my flesh and bones, this which I know not what to call, whether a living body, or a dead carcass, because it is between both; and therefore he did not say
this body, because it did scarce deserve that name.
Yet; for the particle and is oft used adversatively; or then, as it is oft rendered.
In my flesh, Heb. out of my flesh, or with (as the particle mem is used, Song of Solomon 1:2 3:9 Isaiah 57:8) my flesh, i.e. with eyes of flesh, as Job himself calls them, Job 10:4; or with bodily eyes; my flesh or body being raised from the grave, and restored and reunited to my soul. And this is very fitly added, to show that he did not speak of a mental or spiritual, but of a corporeal vision, and that after his death.
Shall I see God; the same whom he called his redeemer Job 19:25, i.e. Christ; of which see the note there; who being God-man, and having taken flesh, and appearing in his flesh or body with and for Job upon the earth, as was said Job 19:25, might very well be seen with his bodily eyes. Nor is this understood of a simple seeing of him; for so even they that pierced him shall see him, Revelation 1:7; but of seeing him with delight and comfort, as that word is oft understood, as Genesis 48:11 Job 42:16 Psalm 128:5 Isaiah 53:11; of that glorious and beatifying vision of God which is promised to all God’s people, Psalm 16:11 17:15 Matthew 5:8 1 Corinthians 13:12 1Jo 3:2.
Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.Whom I shall see, in manner before and after expressed. No wonder that he repeats it again, because the meditation of it was most sweet to him.
For myself, i.e. for my own comfort and benefit, as that phrase is oft used. Or, which is much of the same importance, on my behalf; to plead my cause, and vindicate me from all your reproaches.
Not another, to wit, for me, or in my stead. I shall not see God by another’s eyes, but by my own, and by these selfsame eyes in this same body which now I have. Heb. not a stranger, i.e. this privilege shall be granted to me and to all other sincere servants of God, but not to strangers, i.e. to wicked men, who are oft called strangers, as Psalm 18:44,45 54:3 Proverbs 21:8, because they are estranged or alienated from God, and from his service and people. And if I were such a one, as you suppose me to be, I could never hope to enjoy that happiness.
Though my reins be consumed within me: this I do confidently expect and hope for, though at present my case seems desperate, my very inward parts being even consumed with grief; and though, as I have said, the grave and the worms will consume my whole body, not excepting the reins, which seem to be safest and furthest out of their reach. Or without
though, which is not in the Hebrew, my reins are consumed within me. So this may be a sudden and passionate ejaculation or exclamation, (such as we find Genesis 49:18, and oft in the Book of Psalms,) arising from the contemplation and confident expectation of this his unspeakable happiness, wherein he expresseth his vehement desire and longing for that blessed time and state. The reins are oft put for earnest desires or affections, whereof they are supposed to be the seat; as Job 38:36 Proverbs 23:16. And men are oft in Scripture said to be
consumed or eaten up, or the like, by ardent affections; as Psalm 69:9 84:2 119:81,82Jo 2:17.
But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?But; or, therefore; because this is my case, and my faith and hope in God.
Ye should say: so the future is used potentially, as it is Obadiah 1:12; and the sense is, it would become you; or, it is your duty upon this account to say. Or, you will say, i.e. either,
1. I hope you will say so, and that you will be more moderate in your censures and expressions concerning me, as being convinced and sweetened by this sincere and solemn profession of my faith and hope. Or,
2. Peradventure you will say, to wit, by way of excuse for yourselves.
Why persecute we him? so it is a correction of themselves. Seeing things are thus with him, we are blameworthy, that we have persecuted him with such bitter invectives, and we will do so no more. Or, wherein or how (for so that particle is sometimes used, as the learned observe) do we persecute him, as he chargeth us, Job 19:22. He accuseth us falsely, and without cause given on our parts. So it is an apology for their hard speeches against him, which Job puts into their mouths as their exception to his charge, which he mentioned Job 19:22 and upon that occasion falls into a most serious and pathetical exclamation, Job 19:23,24, and into a most solemn declaration of his faith in God his Redeemer, Job 19:25-27; and after that digression he resumes the former matter, and here propounds an objection, to which he gives a severe answer, which may seem to suit much better with this than with the former exposition.
Seeing the root of the matter is found in me. These words contain either,
1. A motive or reason why they should correct themselves for persecuting him, and desist from it; because, saith Job,
the root of the matter, or word, is in me. The root notes the occasion, or the foundation, or the truth and substance of a thing. And by this matter or word may be meant either,
1. That famous profession of his faith and confidence in God, Job 19:25-27, which, saith he, I have not uttered vain-gloriously or hypocritically, but from my very heart, wherewith I believe what I have spoken with my mouth, as is said upon another occasion, Romans 10:9,10. This word or faith is rooted in mine heart, as it should be, Matthew 13:21 Colossians 2:7. I am no hypocrite, as you asperse me, but an upright person, having a root of true religion in me; which therefore should allay your censures, and make you willing to bear with some circumstantial defects or mistakes in my discourses, or miscarriages, into which my passion and pain might transport me, and make you repent of your cruel usage of a truly good man. But although Job had this root in his heart, yet this was doubted of, and not discernible by, Job’s friends, and therefore could be no argument to them. Possibly it might be better to understand by this root of the word, to wit, of God’s word, which is oft called the word, by way of eminency, the foundations or fundamental truths of Divine doctrine which Job held; as appeared by this glorious confession, howsoever he might err in the matter of controversy with them; which being a difference in lesser things, they should mildly have borne with it, and not aggravated it and traduced him, as if thereby he had renounced God, and the very principles of religion, as they did. Or,
2. The word or thing under debate among them. So the sense may be this,
the root or truth of the thing debated by us is with me, i.e. is on my side. Your discourses and arguments have no truth nor solidity in them as mine have. You speak whatever cometh into your minds and mouths; but my discourses are rooted and grounded upon sound knowledge and deep consideration. But this was no convincing answer; for they could easily retort the same thing upon him again, and their affirmation might seem as good as his; for it was only a begging of the thing in question. Or rather,
2. A defence of themselves, and of their former sharp and severe discourses, which Job called persecution, Job 19:22. And having made a short, but vehement and important, digression, Job 19:23, &c., he returns to the main question between them here; and the sense of this verse (with submission to better judgments) seems to me to be plainly this, But ye will say, i.e. I know will object against my charge, how, or wherein, or why do we persecute him? Why doth he charge us with so black a crime; seeing, or for, (as vau is oft used,) the root, i.e. the foundation, or cause, or occasion of the word, i.e. of those words or passages of ours which are so ill taken, or
of the matter, i.e. of the thing now debated among us, is in me; i.e. Job gives the occasion to it by his boisterous passions and wicked expressions against God, which we neither can nor ought to endure, but are to be sharply reproved. And so this verse contains their objection or apology, which Job puts into their mouths, to which he makes a sharp and suitable reply in the following verse.
Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is a judgment.Of the sword, i.e. of some considerable judgment to be inflicted on you, which is called the sword; as Deu 32:41, and oft elsewhere. Do not please yourselves with such pretences and crafty evasions, as if the blame were wholly in me, not in you: God will not be mocked by you; he sees and will punish your most unrighteous and uncharitable judgment of me, and dealing with me.
Wrath bringeth the punishment of the sword: for that wrath or fury which is in your hearts, and breaks out of your lips against me, doth deserve, and will certainly bring upon you, the punishment (Heb. punishments or iniquities; but iniquity is oft put for punishment)
of the sword, i.e. a dreadful judgment from God. Or without any supplement, except that which is generally understood,
for wrath (that sin of wrath or rage against a man, especially against one in affliction) is an iniquity (Heb. iniquities, the plural number being used by way of aggravation; as Psalm 73:22, and elsewhere: or, of the iniquities; the Hebrew prefix mem being here understood, as it is in many other places)
of the sword, i.e. one of those iniquities which use to be, or are fit to be, punished by the Sword, i.e. by some eminent judgment; as Job 31:11, an iniquity of the judges, is an iniquity to be punished by the judges, as our translation hath it. That ye may know: the sense is either,
1. This admonition I now give you, that you may know it in time, and for your good, that you may seriously consider and prevent it. Or,
2. This judgment will come upon you, that you may be taught by your own sad and costly experience what you would not learn without it. That there is a judgment, i.e. that there will be a time of judgment, when God will call men to an account for all their hard speeches and miscarriages, and particularly for their rash and uncharitable censures of their brethren, Matthew 7:1 Romans 14:4 Jam 4:11, either in this life, or at that last and dreadful day of the general resurrection (of which he spoke Job 19:25, &c.) and judgment. God sees, and observes, and will judge all your words and actions, and therefore do not flatter yourselves with vain hopes of impunity.