Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth? And my soul put in my hand?
Job 13:14 Additional TranslationsBarnes' Notes on the Bible
Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth - The meaning of the proverbial expressions in this verse is not very clear. They indicate a state of great danger; but the exact sense of the proverbs it has been difficult to ascertain. Some have supposed that the phrase "to take the flesh in the teeth," is significant of a state of famine, where a man dying from this cause would cease upon his own flesh and devour it; others, that it refers to the contentions of voracious animals, struggling for a piece of flesh; others, that it refers to the fact that what is borne in the teeth is liable to be dropped, and that Job regarded his life as in such a perilous condition. Schultens regards it as denoting that bold courage in which a man exposes his life to imminent peril. He supposes that it is to be taken in connection with the previous verse, as intimating that he would go forward and speak at any rate, whatever might be the result.
He translates it, "Whatever may be the event, I will take my flesh in my teeth, and my life in my hand." In this interpretation Rosenmuller concurs. Noyes renders it, "I will count it nothing to bear my flesh in my teeth." Good, "Let what may - I will carry my flesh in my teeth; ' and supposes that the phrase is equivalent to saying, that he would incur any risk or danger. The proverb he supposes is taken from the contest which so frequently takes place between dogs and other carnivorous quadrupeds, when one of them is carrying a bone or piece of flesh in his mouth, which becomes a source of dispute and a prize to be fought for. The Vulgate renders it, "Quare lacero carnes meus dentibus meis." The Septuagint, "Taking my flesh in my teeth, I will put my life in my hand." It seems to me, that the language is to be taken in connection with the previous verse, and is not to be regarded as an interrogatory, but as a declaration. "Let come upon me anything - whatever it may be - מה mâh - Job 13:13 on account of that, or in reference to that - על־מה ‛al-mâh - Job 13:14, I will take my life in my hand, braving any and every danger."
It is a firm and determined purpose that he would express his sentiments, no matter what might occur - even if it involved the peril of his life. The word "flesh" I take to be synonymous with life, or with his best interests; and the figure is probably taken from the fact that animals thus carry their prey or spoil in their teeth. Of course, this would be a poor protection. It would be liable to be seized by others. It might even tempt and provoke others to seize it: and would lead to conflict and perils. So Job felt that the course he was pursuing would lead him into danger, but he was determined to pursue it, let come what might.
And put my life in mine hand - This is a proverbial expression, meaning the same as, I will expose myself to danger. Anything of value taken in the hand is liable to be rudely snatched away. It is like taking a casket of jewels, or a purse of gold, in the hand, which may at any moment be seized by robbers. The phrase is not uncommon in the Scriptures to denote exposure to great peril; compare Psalm 119:109, "My soul is continually in my hand;" 1 Samuel 19:5, "For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine;" Judges 12:3, "I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon." A similar expression occurs in the Greek Classics denoting exposure to imminent danger - ἐν τῇ χειρὶ τὴν ψυχὴν ἔχει en tē cheiri tēn psuchēn echei - "he has his life in his hand;" see Rosenmuller on Psalm 119:109. The Arabs have a somewhat similar proverb, as quoted by Schultens, "His flesh is upon a butcher's block."
Job 13:14 Parallel CommentariesFlesh Hand Hands Jeopardy Life Soul Teeth WhereforeFlesh Hand Hands Jeopardy Life Soul Teeth WhereforeNew American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.
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