Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.III.
(1) After this opened Job his mouth.—There is a striking similarity between this chapter and Jeremiah 20:14-18, so much so that one must be borrowed from the other; the question is, which is the original? Is Jeremiah the germ of this? or is this the tree from which a branch has been hewn by Jeremiah? Our own conviction is that Job is the original, inasmuch as this chapter is indispensable to the development of the poem; but in Jeremiah the passage occurs casually as the record of a passing mood of despair. It is, moreover, apparently clear that Jeremiah is quoting Job as he might quote one of the Psalms or any other writing with which he was familiar. He was applying to daily life the well-known expression of a patriarchal experience, whereas in the other case the words of Job would be the ideal magnifying of a commonplace and realistic experience.
Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it.(4) Regard.—Literally, require, ask for, and so manifest care about. (Comp. Deuteronomy 11:12.)
Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.(5) Stain.—Literally, redeem—i.e., claim as their rightful inheritance. The other meaning enters into this word, as in Isaiah 63:3; Malachi 1:7.
Blackness of the day—i.e., preternatural darkness, inopportune and unexpected darkness, like that of eclipses, &c.
As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months.(6) Let it not be joined.—Rather, let it not rejoice among, as one of the glorious procession of nights.
Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning.(8) That curse the day—i.e., Let those who proclaim days unlucky or accursed curse that day as pre-eminently so; or let them recollect that day as a standard or sample of cursing. “Let it be as cursed as Job’s birth day.”
These people are further described as being ready to arouse leviathan (Authorised Version, “raise up their mourning”), or the crocodile—persons as mad and desperate as that. Let the most hopeless and reckless of mankind select that day as the one which they would choose to curse. This seems to be Job’s meaning.
Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day:(9) The dawning . . .—Literally, the eyelids of the dawn.
Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts that I should suck?(12) Prevent—i.e., “Why was I nursed with care instead of being allowed to fall to the ground and be killed?”
With kings and counsellers of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves;(14) Desolate places—i.e., gorgeous tombs and splendid sepulchres, which, being tenanted only by the dead, are desolate; or it may mean that the places so built of old are now ruined and desolate. In the former sense it is possible that the Pyramids may here be hinted at.
Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.(16) Untimely birth.—Another condition which would have relieved him from the experience of suffering.
There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.(17) There—i.e., in the grave, the place indicated, but not distinctly expressed.
There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor.(18) The oppressor.—As this is the word rendered taskmaster in Exodus, some have thought there may be an allusion to that history here.
Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul;(20) Wherefore is light given.—Comp. the connection between life and light in Psalm 36:9 and John 1:4.
Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?(23) Hedged in.—The same expression was used in an opposite sense in Job 1:10.
For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.(25) For the thing which I greatly feared . . .—Comp. Proverbs 28:14. It means that he had always had in remembrance the uncertainty and instability of earthly things, an yet he had been overtaken by a calamity that mocked his carefulness and exceeded his apprehensions.