|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
16:1-5 Eliphaz had represented Job's discourses as unprofitable, and nothing to the purpose; Job here gives his the same character. Those who pass censures, must expect to have them retorted; it is easy, it is endless, but what good does it do? Angry answers stir up men's passions, but never convince their judgments, nor set truth in a clear light. What Job says of his friends is true of all creatures, in comparison with God; one time or other we shall be made to see and own that miserable comforters are they all. When under convictions of sin, terrors of conscience, or the arrests of death, only the blessed Spirit can comfort effectually; all others, without him, do it miserably, and to no purpose. Whatever our brethren's sorrows are, we ought by sympathy to make them our own; they may soon be so.
Verse 4. - I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul's stead, I could heap up words against you. It is only too easy to heap up rhetorical declamation against an unfortunate sufferer, whose physical and mental agonies absorb almost his whole attention. If you were in my place and condition, and I in yours, I could moralize in your tone and spirit for hours. And shake my head at you. A Hebrew mode of expressing condemnation of a man's conduct (see Psalm 22:7; Isaiah 37:22; Jeremiah 18:16; Matthew 27:39, etc.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I also could speak as ye do,.... As big words, with as high a tone, with as stiff a neck, and as haughtily and loftily; or "ought I to speak as you do" (m)? that I ought not, nor would you think I ought, if you were in my case; or, being so, "would I speak as you do" (n)? no, I would not, my conscience would not suffer me:
if your soul were in my soul's stead; in the same afflicted state and condition, in the same distressed case and circumstances; not that he wished it, as some render the words, for a good man will not wish hurt to another; only he supposes this, as it was a case supposable, and not impossible to be a fact, some time or another, in this state of uncertainty and change; however it is right to put ourselves in the case of others in our own imagination, that so it may be considered in the proper point of view, that we may better judge how we should choose to be treated ourselves in such circumstances, and so teach us to do that to others as we would have done to ourselves:
I could heap up words against you; talk as fast as you to me, and run you down with a great torrent of words; Job had a great fluency, he talked a great deal in his afflicted, state, too much as his friends thought, who represent him as dealing in a multitude of words, and as a very talkative man, Job 8:2; and what could he have done, had he his health, and in prosperous circumstances as formerly? he could have brought many charges and accusations against them, as they had against him; or "would I heap up words against you?" or "ought I?" &c. (o); no, it would not be my duty, nor would I do it; humanity and good sense would never have allowed me to do it; but, on the contrary, I "would have joined myself with you", in a social, free, and familiar manner, in words (p), in a friendly meeting with you, so the words may be read and paraphrased; I would have come and paid you a visit, and sat down by you, and entered into a kind and compassionate conversation with you about your case and condition, and done all I could to comfort you; I would have framed and composed (as the word used signifies) a set discourse on purpose; I would have sought out all the acceptable words, and put them together in the best manner I could for you (q); had I the tongue of the learned, I would have made use of it, to have spoken a word in season to you:
and shake mine head at you; by way of scorn and derision, that is, he could have done it as well as they; shaking the head is used as a sign of contempt, Psalm 22:8; or "would I", or "ought I to shake my head at you" (r) if in my case? no, I would not; as I ought not, I would have scorned to have done it; or the sense may be, "I would have shook my head at you", in a way of pity, bemoaning lamenting, and, condoling your case (s); see Job 42:11.
(m) "sicut vos loqui deberem?" Schmidt. (n) "Etiam ego ut vos loquerer?" Cocceius; so Broughton. (o) "nectere deberem nexus contra vos verbis?" Schmidt. (p) "Adjungerem me super vos in sermonibus", Montanus, Bolducius; so Vatablus, Cocceius. (q) "Vobis enim aptum sermonem accommodarem", Tigarine version; so Codurcus. (r) "et caput meum quassarem super vobis", Cocceius; "movere deberem super vos caput meum?" Schmidt. (s) So Tigurine version and Bar Tzemach, , Hom. II. 17. v. 200.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. heap up—rather, "marshal together (an army of) words against you."
shake … head—in mockery; it means nodding, rather than shaking; nodding is not with us, as in the East, a gesture of scorn (Isa 37:22; Jer 18:16; Mt 27:39).
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