Matthew Poole's Commentary
But Job answered and said,Job’s answer: he wisheth his troubles were duly weighed, for then would his complaints appear just, Job 6:1-7: prayeth for death; his hope in it, Job 6:8-10. He is unable to bear up under his burden, Job 6:11,12. He vindicateth himself against his friends, and reproveth them, Job 6:13-30.
No text from Poole on this verse.
Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together!My grief; either,
1. My calamity, as it follows, or the cause or matter of my grief; the act being put for the object, as is usual, fear for the thing feared, &c., and the same thing being here repeated in differing words. Or,
2. My sorrow; or, my wrath, or rage, as thou didst call it, Job 5:2. So his wish is, that his sorrow or wrath were laid in one scale of the balances, and his
calamity in the other, that so it might be known whether his sorrow or wrath was greater than his misery, as was pretended.
Were throughly weighed; were fully understood and duly considered. Thy harsh rebukes and censures of my impatience, and hypocrisy, and wickedness, proceedeth from thy ignorance or insensibleness of my insupportable calamities. I desire no favour from thee. But oh that I had a just and equal judge, that would understand my case, and consider whether I have not just cause for such bitter complaints; or, at least, whether the greatness of my burden should not procure some allowance to my infirmity, if I should speak something indecently and unadvisedly, and protect me from such severe censures!
Laid in the balances together; either,
1. Together with my grief; or rather,
2. Together with any the most heavy thing to be put into the other scale, as with the sand, &c., as is expressed in the next verse; where also the particle it, being of the singular number, showeth that there was but one thing to be weighed with the sand.
For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up.It would be heavier, i.e. my grief or calamity,
than the sand of the sea, which is heavier than dry sand.
Swallowed up, as this verb is used, Proverbs 20:25 Obadiah 1:16. My voice and spirit faileth me. So far am I from speaking too liberally of it, for which I am now accused, that I cannot find nor utter words sufficient to express my sorrow or misery; but my groanings are such as cannot be uttered, as is said in another case, Romans 8:26. When I would express it, the words stick in my throat, and I am forced, as it were, to swallow them up.
For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.Arrows; so he fitly calls his afflictions, because, like arrows, they came upon him swiftly and suddenly, one after another, and that from on high, and they wounded him deeply and deadly.
Of the Almighty; so he calls them, either generally, because all afflictions come from him; or particularly, because God’s hand was in a singular manner eminent and visible in his miseries, Job 1; or yet more especially, because they were immediately shot by God into his spirit, as it follows.
Are within me; besides those evils which are past, Job 1, there are other miseries that are constant and fixed in me, the sharp pains of my body, and dismal horrors of my mind.
The poison whereof; implying that these arrows were more keen and pernicious than ordinary, as being dipped in God’s wrath, as the barbarous nations then and since used to dip their arrows in poison, that they might not only pierce, but burn up and consume the vital parts.
Drinketh up my spirit, i.e. exhausteth and consumeth, either,
1. My vital spirits, together with my blood, the seat of them, and my heart, the spring of them, as poison useth to do. But I doubt the Hebrew word ruach is never used in that sense. Or,
2. My soul, which is commonly the spirit, my mind and conscience. So he tells them, that besides the miseries which they saw, he felt others, and far greater, though invisible, torments in his soul, which if they could see, they would have more pity for him. And in this sense this place is and may very well be otherwise rendered, whose poison my spirit
drinketh up, i.e. my soul sucks in the venom of those calamities, by apprehending and applying to itself the wrath of God manifested and conveyed by them.
The terrors of God; either,
1. Great terrors; or,
2. God’s terrible judgments; or rather,
3. These terrors which God immediately works in my soul, either from the sense of his wrath accompanying my outward troubles, or from the sad expectation of longer and greater torments.
Set themselves in array; they are like a numerous and well-ordered army, under the conduct of an irresistible general, who designs and directs them to invade me on every side.
Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or loweth the ox over his fodder?Thou wonderest that my disposition and carriage is so greatly altered from what it was, Job 4:3-5, but thou mayst easily learn the reason of it from the brute beasts, the ass and ox, who when they have convenient and common food, are quiet and contented; but when they want that, they will resent it, and complain in their way by braying or lowing: see Jeremiah 14:6. And therefore my carriage is agreeable to those common principles of nature which are both in men and beasts, by which their disposition and deportment is generally suitable to their condition. It is no wonder that you complain not, who live in ease and prosperity; nor did I, when it was so with me; but if you felt what I feel, you would be as full of complaints as I am.
Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg?Can or do men use to eat unsavoury meats with delight, or without complaint? This is either,
1. A reflection upon Eliphaz’s discourse, as unsavoury, which could not give him any conviction or satisfaction. But his censure of Eliphaz’s speech begins not till Job 6:14, and then it proceeds. Or rather,
2. A justification of Job’s complaints (of which both the foregoing and following verses treat) by another argument. Men do commonly complain of their meat when it is but unsavoury, how much more when it is so bitter as mine is! which is implied here, and expressed in the next verse; where the sense here begun is completed, and this general proposition is accommodated to Job’s condition.
In the white of an egg, Heb. in the white of a yolk, i.e. which encompasseth the yolk of an egg.
The things that my soul refused to touch are as my sorrowful meat.Heb. As the sicknesses or sorrows of my meat, i.e. as my sorrowful meat, which I am constrained to eat with grief of heart. The particle as, either,
1. Notes not the similitude, but the truth of the thing, as it is oft used, as hath been formerly noted and proved. So the sense is, that such meat as formerly he should have abhorred to touch, either for the quality of it, or for his tears or ulcerous matter which mixed themselves with it, he was now forced by the necessities of nature, and his own poverty, to eat. Or,
2. Implies that the following words are not to be understood properly, but metaphorically. And so the sense may be this, Those grievous afflictions, which according to the principles and common inclinations of human nature I dreaded the very touch and thought of, they are now my daily, though sorrowful, bread; I am forced constantly to feed upon them; as other persons in great afflictions are said to be fed with bread of tears, Psalm 80:5, and to eat ashes like bread, Psalm 102:9. Others make this a censure of Eliphaz’s words, as ungrateful and loathsome to him. But that sense seems neither to agree with the words of this verse, nor with its scope and coherence with the former, of which See Poole "Job 6:6".
Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!My request, i.e. the thing which I have so passionately desired, and, notwithstanding all your vain words and weak arguments, do still justly continue to desire, to wit, death, as is expressed Job 6:9, and more largely Job 3.
Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off!To destroy me; to end my days and calamities together. That he would let loose his hand; which is now as it were bound up or restrained from giving me that deadly blow which I desire. Oh that he would restrain himself and his hand no longer, but let it fall upon me with all its might, so as to
cut me off as it follows.
Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.The thoughts of my approaching death would comfort me in all my sorrows. This would solace me more than life, with all that worldly safety, and glory, and happiness which thou hast advised me to seek unto God for.
I would harden myself in sorrow, i.e. I would bear up myself with more courage and patience under all my torments with the hopes of my death, and that blessedness into which I know I shall after death be admitted, as he more fully speaks, Job 19:26,27, whereas now I pine away in lingering and hopeless miseries. Or, I would burn (i.e. I am content to burn) in sorrow. Or, I would pray (as this word signifies in Hebrew writers; and praying may be here put for praising or worshipping of God, as it is frequently used in Scripture) in, or for, my sorrow or pain; then I would worship God, and say, Blessed be the Lord’s name for these afflictions, as I did for the former, Job 1:20,21.
Let him not spare; but let him use all severity against me, so far as to cut me off, and not suffer me to live any longer; which will seem to me a cruel kind of patience towards me.
Of the Holy One, i.e. of God, who is frequently called the Holy One in Scripture, as Isaiah 40:25 Isaiah 57:15 Habakkuk 3:3, and is so in a most eminent and peculiar manner. The sense is, Therefore I do not fear death, but desire it; and that not only to be freed from my present troubles, but also and especially to put me into the possession of the happiness of the next life; of which I am assured, because I have in good measure performed the conditions of that covenant upon which he hath promised it; for as for
the words of God, i.e. that light of sacred truths and precepts which he hath been pleased to impart to me,
I have not concealed them, neither from myself by shutting mine eyes against them, or suffering my prejudices, or passions, or worldly interests to blind my mind, lest I should see them, as you think I have done; nor from others; but as I myself have stedfastly believed them, and not wilfully and wickedly departed from them, so I have endeavoured to teach and commend them to others, and have not been ashamed nor afraid boldly to profess and preach the true religion in the midst of heathens who are round about me. And therefore I know that if God doth cut me off, it will be in mercy, and I shall be a gainer by it. Some translate and distinguish the verse thus. Yet this is my comfort, (though, or when, I scorch with pain, and he, i.e. God, doth not spare me, but afflicts me most severely,) that I have not concealed the words of God, but have professed and practised them.
What is my strength, that I should hope? and what is mine end, that I should prolong my life?My strength is so small and spent, that although I may linger a while in my torments, yet I cannot live long, and therefore it is vain and absurd for me to hope for such a restitution of my strength and prosperity as thou hast promised to me, Job 5:22, &c.; and therefore I justly pray that God would take away my life.
What is mine end? either,
1. What is the end or period of my miseries? when may I expect it? I see no end of them; I know not how long I may pine and linger in them. Therefore, Lord, take me speedily away. Or,
2. What is the end of my life? or what is death to me? It is not terrible, but comfortable, as he said, Job 6:10. I need not those vain consolations which thou givest me of being kept from death, Job 6:20, or having life continued and health restored. Death is not the matter of my fear, but of my desire.
That I should prolong my life, to wit, by my seeking to God for it, as thou advisest me, Job 5:8. Why should I desire or endeavour the prolonging of my life? Or, that I should lengthen out my desire, to wit, of life, and those comforts of life which thou hast propounded to me. I desire not to live longer, though in the greatest splendour and prosperity, but to be dissolved, and to be with my God and Redeemer, Job 19:25. The Hebrew word nephesh, here rendered soul or life, oft signifies desire, as Genesis 23:8 Deu 23:24 Proverbs 23:2 Ecclesiastes 6:9.
Is my strength the strength of stones? or is my flesh of brass?I am not made of stone or brass, but of flesh and blood, as others are; and therefore I am utterly unable to endure these miseries longer, and can neither hope for nor desire any continuance of my life, or restoration of my former happiness, but only wish for that death which is the common refuge of all miserable persons, as I said, Job 3:17,18.
Is not my help in me? and is wisdom driven quite from me?Though I have no strength in my body, or outward man, yet I have some help and support within me, or in my inward man, even the conscience of my own innocency and piety, notwithstanding all your bitter accusations and censures, as if I had no integrity, Job 4:6.
Is wisdom driven quite from me? If I have no strength in my body, have I therefore no wisdom or judgment left in my soul? Am I therefore unable to judge of the vanity of thy discourse, and of the truth of my own case? Have I not common sense and discretion? Do not I know my own condition, and the nature and degree of my sufferings, better than thou dost? Am not I a better judge whether I have integrity or no than thou art? But this verse is rendered otherwise, and that very agreeably to the Hebrew words, What if I have no help in me, (i.e. if I cannot help myself, if my outward condition be helpless and hopeless, as I confess it is,)
is wisdom driven quite from me? Have I therefore lost my understanding and common reason? Cannot I judge whether it is more desirable for me to live or to die, whether I am a hypocrite or no, whether your words have truth and weight in them or no, whether you take the right method in dealing with me, whether you deal mercifully and sincerely with me, or no? Yet again, (because the construction and sense of these words is judged very difficult,) this verse may be joined with the following, and rendered thus, What if there be no help in me, (or, if I be not able to bear my miseries,) and if counsel be driven from me, so that I know not what to do, or how to help or ease myself? or, and subsistence, or power of subsisting, be driven or taken away from me, so that I can neither help myself out of my troubles, nor subsist under them? yet to the afflicted pity should be showed, &c.
To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.To him that is afflicted, Heb. to him that is melted or dissolved with afflictions, or in the furnace of afflictions; that is, in extreme miseries; for such persons are said to be melted, as Psalm 22:14 107:26 119:28 Nahum 2:10.
From his friend: his friend, such as thou, O Eliphaz, pretendest to be to me, should show kindness, benignity, and compassion in his judgment of him, and carriage towards him, and not pass such unmerciful and heavy censures upon him, nor load him with reproaches.
But he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty; but thou hast no love or pity for thy neighbour and friend; which is a plain evidence that thou art guilty of that which thou didst charge me with, even with the want of the fear of God; for didst thou truly fear God, thou couldst not, and durst not, be so unmerciful to thy brother, both because God hath severely forbidden and condemned that disposition and carriage, and because God is able to punish thee for it, and mete unto thee the same hard measure which thou meetest to me. But this verse is and may be otherwise rendered, Should a reproach (for so the Hebrew chesed oft signifies) be laid upon him that is afflicted by his friend, even that he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty? Should my friend have fastened such a reproach upon me, than which none is worse, that I am an impious man, and destitute of the fear of God, Job 4:6-8. This he mentions, as that which was most grievous and intolerable to him.
My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as the stream of brooks they pass away;My brethren, i.e. my kinsmen or three friends; for though Eliphaz only had spoken, the other two showed their approbation of his discourse, or, at least, of that part of it which contained his censure of Job’s person and state.
Have dealt deceitfully; under a pretence of friendship and kindness dealing unrighteously and unmercifully with me, and adding to these afflictions which they said they came to remove.
As the stream of brooks, which quickly vanish, and deceive the hopes of the thirsty traveller.
Which are blackish by reason of the ice, and wherein the snow is hid:Which in winter, when the traveller neither needs nor desires it, are full of water, then congealed by the frost.
Wherein the snow is hid; either,
1. Under which the water, made of snow, which formerly fell, and afterwards was dissolved, lies hid. So he implies that he speaks not of those brooks which are fed by a constant spring, but of them which are filled by accidental and extraordinary falls of water, or snow melted, which run into them. Or,
2. Wherein there is abundance of snow mixed with or covered by the ice; or, in which the snow covers itself, i.e. where is snow upon snow; which gives the traveller hopes, that when he comes that way in summer, he shall find good store of water here for his refreshment.
What time they wax warm, they vanish: when it is hot, they are consumed out of their place.When the weather grows milder, and the frost and snow is dissolved.
When it is hot; in the hot season of the year, when waters are most refreshing and necessary.
Out of their place; in which the traveller expected to find them to his comfort, but they are gone he knows not whither.
The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing, and perish.i.e. The course of those waters is changed, they are gone out of their channel, flowing hither and thither, till they be quite consumed; as it here follows.
The troops of Tema looked, the companies of Sheba waited for them.The troops, as this word is used, Genesis 37:25 Isaiah 21:13. Heb. the ways, put for the travellers in the ways, by a usual metonymy. And so it must needs be meant here, and in the next clause, because the following verse, They were confounded, &c., plainly showeth that he here speaks of persons, not of senseless things. Tema: this place and
Sheba were both parts of the hot and dry country of Arabia, in which waters were very scarce, and therefore precious and desirable, especially to travellers, who by their motion, and the heat to which they were exposed, were more hot and thirsty than other men.
The companies; as before, the troops. And thus he speaks, because men did not there travel singly, as here we do, but in troops and companies, for their greater security against wild beasts and robbers, of which they had great store.
They were confounded because they had hoped; they came thither, and were ashamed.They were confounded, i.e. the troops and companies. Because they had hoped; they comforted themselves with the expectation of water there to quench their thirst.
Were ashamed; as having deceived themselves and others with vain and false hopes.
For now ye are nothing; ye see my casting down, and are afraid.He gives the reason why he charged them with deceitfulness, and compared them to these deceitful brooks. Nothing, or, as nothing; the note of similitude being oft understood. Heb. as not, i.e. you are to me as if you had not been, or as if you had never come to me, for I have no benefit nor comfort from you and your discourse, but only an increase of my misery.
Ye see my casting down, and are afraid: when you come near to me, and perceive my great and manifold calamities, you stand as it were at a distance; you are shy of me, and afraid for yourselves, either lest my sores or breath should infect you; or lest some further plagues-should come upon me, wherein yourselves for my sake, or because you are in my company, should be involved; or lest I should be burdensome to you, and need and call for your charitable contribution to support myself and the small remainders of my poor family, or for your helping hand to assist and save me from mine enemies, who may possibly fall upon me in this place, as the Chaldeans and Sabeans did upon my servants and cattle elsewhere; which is implied in the next verses. So far are you from being true friends and comforts to me, as you would seem to be.
Did I say, Bring unto me? or, Give a reward for me of your substance?Did I say? or, Is it because I said? Is this, or what else is the reason why you are afraid of me, or alienated from me? Bring unto me; give me something for my support or relief. Did either my former covetousness or my present necessity make me troublesome or chargeable to you? Give a reward for me; either to the judge before whom I am brought and accused, that he may give a favourable sentence in my behalf; or to the enemy who hath taken me captive. Or, give a gift for me, i.e. for my use or need. Did I send for you to come and visit me for this end? nay, did you not come of your own accords. Why then are you thus unmerciful to me? Methinks you might at least have given me good and comfortable words, which is the easiest and cheapest part of a friend’s work, when I desired and expected nothing else from you.
Or, Deliver me from the enemy's hand? or, Redeem me from the hand of the mighty?Deliver me by power and the force of your arms, as Abraham delivered Lot.
Redeem me by price, or ransom.
Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.Teach me; instead of censuring and reproaching, instruct and convince me by solid arguments.
I will hold my tongue; I will patiently hear and gladly receive your counsels; or, I will be silent; I will neither contradict you, nor complain of my own griefs. Compare Job 40:4,5 Pr 30:32.
Wherein I have erred, i.e. my mistakes and miscarriages.
How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove?Right words, i.e. the words of truth or solid arguments, have a marvellous power to convince and persuade a man; and if yours were such, I should readily yield to them.
Your arguing reprove; or, your arguing argue. There is no truth in your assertions, nor weight in your arguments, and therefore are they of no account or power with me.
Do ye imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that is desperate, which are as wind?Do ye imagine to reprove words? i.e. do you think that all your arguments are solid and unanswerable, and all my answers are but idle and empty words? Or do you think it is sufficient to cavil and quarrel with some of my words and expressions, without considering the merits of the cause, and the truth of my condition, or giving an allowance for human infirmity, or for my extreme misery, which may easily force from me some indecent expressions?
Of one that is desperate; of a poor miserable, hopeless, and helpless man; for the words of such persons are commonly neglected and despised, although there be truth and great weight in them. See Ecclesiastes 9:16. And such are generally thought to speak from deep passions and prejudices, more than from reason and judgment.
Which are as wind, i.e. which you esteem to be like the wind, vain and light, without solid substance, making a great noise with little sense, and to little purpose. But this last branch of the verse may be, and by many is, rendered otherwise, and do ye imagine (which is to be repeated out of the former clause, as is very usual in Scripture) the words of one that is desperate to be but wind, i.e. empty and vain? Do you take me for a desperate and distracted man, that knows not or cares not what he saith, but only speaks what comes first into his mind and mouth? The wind is oft used to express vain words, as Job 15:2 Jeremiah 5:13; and vain things, Job 7:7 Proverbs 11:29. Some render the whole verse thus, Do you in your arguings think, or ought you to think, the discourses of a dejected, or desponding, or sorely afflicted man (such as I am) to be but words and wind, i.e. vain and empty? as indeed the discourses of such persons use to be esteemed by such as are in a higher and more prosperous condition. But you should judge more impartially, and more mercifully. Possibly the verse may be rendered thus, Do you think to reprove the speeches of a desperate, or dejected, or miserable man (such as I am, and you use me accordingly) with (the preposition being very frequently omitted and understood in the Hebrew tongue) words and with (for the Hebrew prefix lamed oft signifies with, as hath been formerly proved) wind? You think any words or arguments will be strong enough against one in my circumstances. So it agrees with the foregoing verse.
Yea, ye overwhelm the fatherless, and ye dig a pit for your friend.Yea; your words are not only vain, and useless, and uncomfortable to me, but also grievous and pernicious.
Ye overwhelm, Heb. you rush or throw yourselves upon him. For words in hiphil are oft put reciprocally as Hebricians know. You fall upon him with all your might, and say all that you can devise to charge and grieve him. A metaphor from wild beasts, that fall upon their prey to hold it fast and devour it. You load him with censures and calumnies.
The fatherless, or, the desolate, i.e. me, who am deprived of all my dear children, and of all my estate; forsaken by my friends, and by my heavenly Father; which should have procured me your pity rather than your censure.
Ye dig a pit for your friend; or, you feed or feast (for so this Hebrew word is oft used, as 2 Samuel 3:35 2 Kings 6:23 Job 40:15) upon your friend, i.e. you insult and triumph over me whom sometimes you owned for your friend.
Now therefore be content, look upon me; for it is evident unto you if I lie.Look upon me; be pleased either,
1. To look upon my countenance, if it betrays any fear or guilt, as if I spoke contrary to my own conscience. Or rather,
2. To consider me and my cause further and better than you have done, that you may give a more true and righteous judgment concerning it.
Is evident unto you; you will plainly discover it. A little further consideration and discourse will make it manifest, and I shall readily acknowledge it.
Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity; yea, return again, my righteousness is in it.Turn from your former course of perverse judgment; lay aside passion and prejudice against me; let me beg your second thoughts and a serious review of my case.
Let it not be iniquity, to wit, in your thoughts or debates; I beg not your favour, but your justice; judge according to right, and do not conclude me to be wicked, because you see me to be miserable, as you have falsely and unjustly done. Or, there shall be no iniquity, to wit, in my words which I have spoken, and which I am further about to speak; which you will find upon the review.
In it, i.e. in this cause or matter between you and me; the relative without the antecedent, which is frequent in the Hebrew language. You will find the right to be on my side.
Is there iniquity in my tongue? cannot my taste discern perverse things?Consider again, and more thoroughly examine, if there be any untruth or iniquity in what I have already said, or shall further speak to you.
My taste. i.e. my judgment, which discerns and judgeth of words and actions as the taste or palate doth of meats.
Perverse things, i.e. false opinions or sinful expressions. I am not so bereft of common understanding, as not to be able to distinguish between good and evil; and therefore if I have uttered, or should utter, any perverse words, I should apprehend them to be so as well as you do.