Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Then Job answered and said,
Job 19:1-29. Job's Reply to Bildad.
How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?
2. How long, &c.—retorting Bildad's words (Job 18:2). Admitting the punishment to be deserved, is it kind thus ever to be harping on this to the sufferer? And yet even this they have not yet proved.
These ten times have ye reproached me: ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me.
3. These—prefixed emphatically to numbers (Ge 27:36).
ten—that is, often (Ge 31:7).
make yourselves strange—rather, "stun me" [Gesenius]. (See Margin for a different meaning [that is, "harden yourselves against me"]).
And be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth with myself.
4.erred—The Hebrew expresses unconscious error. Job was unconscious of wilful sin.
remaineth—literally, "passeth the night." An image from harboring an unpleasant guest for the night. I bear the consequences.
If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me, and plead against me my reproach:
5. magnify, &c.—Speak proudly (Ob 12; Eze 35:13).
against me—emphatically repeated (Ps 38:16).
plead … reproach—English Version makes this part of the protasis, "if" being understood, and the apodosis beginning at Job 19:6. Better with Umbreit, If ye would become great heroes against me in truth, ye must prove (evince) against me my guilt, or shame, which you assert. In the English Version "reproach" will mean Job's calamities, which they "pleaded" against him as a "reproach," or proof of guilt.
Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net.
6. compassed … net—alluding to Bildad's words (Job 18:8). Know, that it is not that I as a wicked man have been caught in my "own net"; it is God who has compassed me in His—why, I know not.
Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment.
7. wrong—violence: brought on him by God.
no judgment—God will not remove my calamities, and so vindicate my just cause; and my friends will not do justice to my past character.
He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths.
8. Image from a benighted traveller.
He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head.
9. stripped … crown—image from a deposed king, deprived of his robes and crown; appropriate to Job, once an emir with all but royal dignity (La 5:16; Ps 89:39).
He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone: and mine hope hath he removed like a tree.
10. destroyed … on every side—"Shaken all round, so that I fall in the dust"; image from a tree uprooted by violent shaking from every side [Umbreit]. The last clause accords with this (Jer 1:10)
mine hope—as to this life (in opposition to Zophar, Job 11:18); not as to the world to come (Job 19:25; Job 14:15).
He hath also kindled his wrath against me, and he counteth me unto him as one of his enemies.
11. enemies—(Job 13:24; La 2:5).
His troops come together, and raise up their way against me, and encamp round about my tabernacle.
12. troops—Calamities advance together like hostile troops (Job 10:17).
raise up … way—An army must cast up a way of access before it, in marching against a city (Isa 40:3).
He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me.
13. brethren—nearest kinsmen, as distinguished from "acquaintance." So "kinsfolk" and "familiar friends" (Job 19:14) correspond in parallelism. The Arabic proverb is, "The brother, that is, the true friend, is only known in time of need."
estranged—literally, "turn away with disgust." Job again unconsciously uses language prefiguring the desertion of Jesus Christ (Job 16:10; Lu 23:49; Ps 38:11).
My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me.
They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight.
15. They that dwell, &c.—rather, "sojourn": male servants, sojourning in his house. Mark the contrast. The stranger admitted to sojourn as a dependent treats the master as a stranger in his own house.
I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I intreated him with my mouth.
16. servant—born in my house (as distinguished from those sojourning in it), and so altogether belonging to the family. Yet even he disobeys my call.
mouth—that is, "calling aloud"; formerly a nod was enough. Now I no longer look for obedience, I try entreaty.
My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children's sake of mine own body.
17. strange—His breath by elephantiasis had become so strongly altered and offensive, that his wife turned away as estranged from him (Job 19:13; 17:1).
children's … of mine own body—literally, "belly." But "loins" is what we should expect, not "belly" (womb), which applies to the woman. The "mine" forbids it being taken of his wife. Besides their children were dead. In Job 3:10 the same words "my womb" mean, my mother's womb: therefore translate, "and I must entreat (as a suppliant) the children of my mother's womb"; that is, my own brothers—a heightening of force, as compared with last clause of Job 19:16 [Umbreit]. Not only must I entreat suppliantly my servant, but my own brothers (Ps 69:8). Here too, he unconsciously foreshadows Jesus Christ (Joh 7:5).
Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me.
18. young children—So the Hebrew means (Job 21:11). Reverence for age is a chief duty in the East. The word means "wicked" (Job 16:11). So Umbreit has it here, not so well.
I arose—Rather, supply "if," as Job was no more in a state to stand up. "If I stood up (arose), they would speak against (abuse) me" [Umbreit].
All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me.
19. inward—confidential; literally, "men of my secret"—to whom I entrusted my most intimate confidence.
My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.
20. Extreme meagerness. The bone seemed to stick in the skin, being seen through it, owing to the flesh drying up and falling away from the bone. The Margin, "as to my flesh," makes this sense clearer. The English Version, however, expresses the same: "And to my flesh," namely, which has fallen away from the bone, instead of firmly covering it.
skin of my teeth—proverbial. I have escaped with bare life; I am whole only with the skin of my teeth; that is, my gums alone are whole, the rest of the skin of my body is broken with sores (Job 7:5; Ps 102:5). Satan left Job his speech, in hope that he might therewith curse God.
Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.
21. When God had made him such a piteous spectacle, his friends should spare him the additional persecution of their cruel speeches.
Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?
22. as God—has persecuted me. Prefiguring Jesus Christ (Ps 69:26). That God afflicts is no reason that man is to add to a sufferer's affliction (Zec 1:15).
satisfied with my flesh—It is not enough that God afflicts my flesh literally (Job 19:20), but you must "eat my flesh" metaphorically (Ps 27:2); that is, utter the worst calumnies, as the phrase often means in Arabic.
Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!
23. Despairing of justice from his friends in his lifetime, he wishes his words could be preserved imperishably to posterity, attesting his hope of vindication at the resurrection.
printed—not our modern printing, but engraven.
That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!
lead—poured into the engraven characters, to make them better seen [Umbreit]. Not on leaden plates; for it was "in the rock" that they were engraved. Perhaps it was the hammer that was of "lead," as sculptors find more delicate incisions are made by it, than by a harder hammer. FOSTER (One Primeval Language) has shown that the inscriptions on the rocks in Wady-Mokatta, along Israel's route through the desert, record the journeys of that people, as Cosmas Indicopleustes asserted, A.D. 535.
for ever—as long as the rock lasts.
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
25. redeemer—Umbreit and others understand this and Job 19:26, of God appearing as Job's avenger before his death, when his body would be wasted to a skeleton. But Job uniformly despairs of restoration and vindication of his cause in this life (Job 17:15, 16). One hope alone was left, which the Spirit revealed—a vindication in a future life: it would be no full vindication if his soul alone were to be happy without the body, as some explain (Job 19:26) "out of the flesh." It was his body that had chiefly suffered: the resurrection of his body, therefore, alone could vindicate his cause: to see God with his own eyes, and in a renovated body (Job 19:27), would disprove the imputation of guilt cast on him because of the sufferings of his present body. That this truth is not further dwelt on by Job, or noticed by his friends, only shows that it was with him a bright passing glimpse of Old Testament hope, rather than the steady light of Gospel assurance; with us this passage has a definite clearness, which it had not in his mind (see on Job 21:30). The idea in "redeemer" with Job is Vindicator (Job 16:19; Nu 35:27), redressing his wrongs; also including at least with us, and probably with him, the idea of the predicted Bruiser of the serpent's head. Tradition would inform him of the prediction. Foster shows that the fall by the serpent is represented perfectly on the temple of Osiris at Philæ; and the resurrection on the tomb of the Egyptian Mycerinus, dating four thousand years back. Job's sacrifices imply sense of sin and need of atonement. Satan was the injurer of Job's body; Jesus Christ his Vindicator, the Living One who giveth life (Joh 5:21, 26).
at the latter day—Rather, "the Last," the peculiar title of Jesus Christ, though Job may not have known the pregnancy of his own inspired words, and may have understood merely one that comes after (1Co 15:45; Re 1:17). Jesus Christ is the last. The day of Jesus Christ the last day (Joh 6:39).
stand—rather, "arise": as God is said to "raise up" the Messiah (Jer 23:5; De 18:15).
earth—rather, "dust": often associated with the body crumbling away in it (Job 7:21; 17:16); therefore appropriately here. Above that very dust wherewith was mingled man's decaying body shall man's Vindicator arise. "Arise above the dust," strikingly expresses that fact that Jesus Christ arose first Himself above the dust, and then is to raise His people above it (1Co 15:20, 23). The Spirit intended in Job's words more than Job fully understood (1Pe 1:12). Though He seems, in forsaking me, to be as one dead, He now truly "liveth" in heaven; hereafter He shall appear also above the dust of earth. The Goel or vindicator of blood was the nearest kinsman of the slain. So Jesus Christ took our flesh, to be our kinsman. Man lost life by Satan the "murderer" (Joh 8:44), here Job's persecutor (Heb 2:14). Compare also as to redemption of the inheritance by the kinsman of the dead (Ru 4:3-5; Eph 1:14).
And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
26. Rather, though after my skin (is no more) this (body) is destroyed ("body" being omitted, because it was so wasted as not to deserve the name), yet from my flesh (from my renewed body, as the starting-point of vision, So 2:9, "looking out from the windows") "shall I see God." Next clause [Job 19:27] proves bodily vision is meant, for it specifies "mine eyes" [Rosenmuller, 2d ed.]. The Hebrew opposes "in my flesh." The "skin" was the first destroyed by elephantiasis, then the "body."
Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
27. for myself—for my advantage, as my friend.
not another—Mine eyes shall behold Him, but no longer as one estranged from me, as now [Bengel].
my reins—inward recesses of the heart.
be consumed within me—that is, pine with longing desire for that day (Ps 84:2; 119:81). The Gentiles had but few revealed promises: how gracious that the few should have been so explicit (compare Nu 24:17; Mt 2:2).
But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?
28. Rather, "ye will then (when the Vindicator cometh) say, Why," &c.
root … in me—The root of pious integrity, which was the matter at issue, whether it could be in one so afflicted, is found in me. Umbreit, with many manuscripts and versions, reads "in him." "Or how found we in him ground of contention."
Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is a judgment.
29. wrath—the passionate violence with which the friends persecuted Job.
bringeth, &c.—literally, "is sin of the of the sword"
that ye may know—Supply, "I say this."
judgment—inseparably connected with the coming of the Vindicator. The "wrath" of God at His appearing for the temporal vindication of Job against the friends (Job 42:7) is a pledge of the eternal wrath at the final coming to glorify the saints and judge their enemies (2Th 1:6-10; Isa 25:8).