Job 10:17
You renew your witnesses against me, and increase your indignation on me; changes and war are against me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Thou renewest thy witnesses against me.—Some understand this of the sores on Job’s person, which his friends regarded as witnesses—proofs of his guilt; but it seems more probable that the figure is forensic: “Thou still bringest fresh witnesses against me, and multipliest thine anger against me, so that relays of them, even a host, are against me; for they come upon me host after host—these witnesses of Thine anger, the ministers of Thy vengeance.” The sublimity of this indictment against God is only equalled by the sense of terrific awe with which one reads it. The language is Job’s, and so far has the sanction of Holy Writ; but we may surely learn therefrom the condescension as well as the loving-kindness of the Most High.

Job 10:17. Thou renewest thy witnesses — Thy judgments, which are the evidences both of my sins and of thy wrath; and increasest thine indignation — That is, my miseries, the effects of thine indignation. Changes and war — Or, changes and an army, that is, many miseries succeeding one another, like companies of soldiers successively coming on to the attack in a battle. Or, changes may signify the various kinds, and an army the great number of his afflictions.10:14-22 Job did not deny that as a sinner he deserved his sufferings; but he thought that justice was executed upon him with peculiar rigour. His gloom, unbelief, and hard thoughts of God, were as much to be ascribed to Satan's inward temptations, and his anguish of soul, under the sense of God's displeasure, as to his outward trials, and remaining depravity. Our Creator, become in Christ our Redeemer also, will not destroy the work of his hands in any humble believer; but will renew him unto holiness, that he may enjoy eternal life. If anguish on earth renders the grave a desirable refuge, what will be their condition who are condemned to the blackness of darkness for ever? Let every sinner seek deliverance from that dreadful state, and every believer be thankful to Jesus, who delivereth from the wrath to come.Thou renewest thy witnesses against me - Margin, "that is, plagues." The Hebrew is, "thy witnesses" - עדיך ‛ēdeykā. So the Vulgate. The Septuagint is, "renewing against me my examination," τὴν ἐξέτασίν μου tēn ecetasin mou. Rabbi Levi supposes that the plague of the leprosy is intended. But the true meaning seems to be, that God sent upon him calamities which were regarded by his friends as "proofs" or "witnesses" that he was wicked, the public and solemn attestation of God, as they supposed, to the truth that he was eminently a bad man. New proofs of this kind were constantly occurring in his augmenting and protracted sorrows, and he could not answer the arguments which were brought from them by his friends.

Changes and war are against me - Or rather, are "with me," עמי ‛ı̂my. There were with him such reverses of condition as laid the foundation for the argument which they had urged with so much pertinacity and force that he was punished by God. The word rendered "changes" (חליפה chălı̂yphâh) means properly "changes," or exchanges, and is applied to garments, 2 Kings 5:5, 2 Kings 5:22-23. It may be used also of soldiers keeping watch until they are relieved by a succeeding guard; see the note at Job 14:14. Here it is not improbably employed in the sense of a succession of attacks made on him. One succeeds another, as if platoon after platoon, to use the modern terms, or phalanx after phalanx, should come up against him. As soon as one had discharged its arrows, another succeeded in its place; or as soon as one became ex hausted, it was followed by a fresh recruit. All this Job could not endure. The succession wearied him, and he could not bear it. Dr. Good supposes that the word refers to the skirmishes by which a battle is usually introduced, in which two armies attempt to gall each other before they are engaged. But the true idea, as it seems to me, is, that afflictions succeeded each other as soldiers on a watch, or in a battle, relieve each other. When one set is exhausted on duty, it is succeeded by another. Or, when in battle one company has discharged its weapons, or is exhausted, it is succeeded by those who are brought fresh into the field. The word rendered "war" (צבא tsâbâ') properly means an army or a host; see the note at Job 7:1. Here it means that a whole host had rushed upon him. Not only had he been galled by the succession, the relief-guard of calamities, the attacks which had followed each other from an advanced guard, or from scouts sent out to skirmish, but the whole army was upon him. A whole host of calamities came rushing upon him alone, and he could not endure them.

17. witnesses—His accumulated trials were like a succession of witnesses brought up in proof of his guilt, to wear out the accused.

changes and war—rather, "(thou settest in array) against me host after host" (literally, "changes and a host," that is, a succession of hosts); namely, his afflictions, and then reproach upon reproach from his friends.

Thy witnesses, i.e. thy judgments, which are the witnesses and evidences, both of my sins, and of thy wrath. Thy indignation, i.e. my miseries, the effects of thine anger. These words are added to explain what he meant by renewing witnesses.

Changes and war; or, changes and an army; which may be a figure called hendiadis, for the changes of an army, i.e. many miseries succeeding one another, like companies of the soldiers of an army in battle; or changes may note the various kinds, and an army the great numbers, of his afflictions. Thou renewest thy witnesses against me,.... Not the devils, as some, nor Job's friends, as others; but rather afflictions, which were daily renewed, and frequently repeated, new troubles coming continually one upon another; which were brought as fresh witnesses against him, which made the suit tiresome to him, the trial to last the longer, which he wished was at end, that the decisive sentence might be pronounced and executed, and he be dispatched at once; but instead of that the affair was protracted by bringing in one witness after another, or one affliction upon the back of another, which were brought as witnesses "before him" (a), as some render it; either to accuse him, and convince of sin, or as proofs of God's indignation against him, as in the next clause; or they were witnesses against him with the profane world, and even with his friends, who from hence concluded he must have been, and was, a wicked man, that had so many and such great afflictions laid upon him, and these continued and repeated; of which they judged these were full and sufficient proofs and testimonies. Schultens renders it, "thy incursions", and interprets it of instruments of hunting, as nets and the like, to which afflictions may be compared:

and increasest thine indignation upon me; the tokens of it, by increasing afflictions, and the sense of it in his mind; for from his afflictions, and the increase of them, he judged of the indignation of God upon him, or "against him" (b), and the increase of it; as these were daily renewed, and were greater and greater, so was the sense he had of the wrath and displeasure of God against him; see Job 6:4,

changes and war are against me; or "with me", or "upon me" (c); by changes are meant the various afflictive providences which attended him, which were repeated, or succeeded one another in their turns; great changes he had undergone in his estate and substance, from the greatest man in the east now become the poorest; in his family, his servants and children being destroyed; in his body, being covered with boils; and in his mind, being filled with a sense of God's displeasure, and under the hidings of his face: and "war" was against him on every side, not only the law in his members was warring against the law of his mind, his corruptions working powerfully under his afflictions; and he was conflicting with Satan, and his principalities and powers; but even his friends were at war with him, yea, God himself, in his opinion, counted and treated him as an enemy. Job was in a warfare state, and his afflictions came upon him like troops, and charged him one after another; or his afflictions were like an "army" (d) as the word may be rendered, many and numerous; and these were either repeated, or new ones succeeded others; different afflictions in their turns came upon him, and particularly an army of worms were continually running to and fro upon him; see Job 7:5; the word is rendered an "appointed time", Job 7:1; and so some take it here, and may signify that all the changes and vicissitudes in life he passed through, the various afflictions that came upon him, were at the set and appointed time, as well as there was an appointed time for him on earth, until his last change came.

(a) "coram me", Pagninus, Montanus, Beza, Mercerus, Schmidt, Schultens. (b) "adversus me", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schultens; so Vatablus. (c) "mecum", Pagninus, Montanus, Bolducius, Morcerus, Schmidt; "apud me", Beza, Piscator, Cocceius. (d) "militia", Montanus, Bolducius; "exercitus", Beza, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Schmidt, Schultens.

Thou renewest thy witnesses against me, and increasest thine indignation upon me; {r} changes and war are against me.

(r) That is, diversity of diseases and in great abundance; showing that God has infinite means to punish man.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. thou renewest] wouldst renew. Similarly, and increase. All the verbs in these verses (Job 10:14-17) are to be translated from the point of view of God’s intention cherished beforehand with regard to Job. This intention has, of course, been carried out, and has been fulfilled in Job’s present condition, and this condition supplies the colours in which the intention is painted. God’s “witnesses” are His plagues and afflictions, as the margin explains, which testified to Job’s guilt, cf. ch. Job 16:8.

changes and war are against me] Or, changes and a host with me. The words are either an exclamation, in which the preceding statements of Job 10:17 are summed up; or are in apposition to “indignation,” being a description of how this indignation shews itself. The expression “changes and a host” means most naturally, an ever-changing, or, renewed host, the figure being that of an attacking army which makes continually fresh and renewed assaults. This army is composed of his afflictions sent against him by God, ch. Job 6:4, Job 16:14, Job 19:12. Others regard the “changes” as the successive new attacks, and the “host” as the abiding old army of afflictions,—which seems artificial and puerile. The word “change” occurs ch. Job 14:14 in the sense of release, and the word “host” in the general meaning of warfare, ch. Job 7:1, Job 14:14. If these meanings were adopted here the sense would be: releases and warfare with me, i. e. brief intervals and then terrible conflict. Job, however, usually represents his afflictions as without intermission.Verse 17. - Thou renewest thy witnesses against me. Each fresh calamity that Job suffers is a new witness that God is displeased with him, both in his own eyes, and in those of his "comforters." Hie disease was no doubt continually progressing, and going from bad to worse, so that every day a new calamity seemed to befall him. And increasest thine indignation upon me; i.e. "makest it more and more evidently to appear, that thou art angry with me." Changes and war are against me; rather, changes and a host; i.e. attacks that are continually changing - a whole host of them, or "host after host" (Revised Version margin), come against me. 8 Thy hands have formed and perfected me

Altogether round about, and Thou hast now swallowed me up!

9 Consider now, that Thou has perfected me as clay,

And wilt Thou turn me again into dust?

10 Hast Thou not poured me out as milk,

And curdled me as curd?

11 With skin and flesh hast Thou clothed me,

And Thou hast intertwined me with bones and sinews;

12 Life and favour Thou hast shown me,

And thy care hath guarded my breath.

The development of the embryo was regarded by the Israelitish Chokma as one of the greatest mysteries (Ecclesiastes 11:5; 2 Macc. 7:22f.). There are two poetical passages which treat explicitly of this mysterious existence: this strophe of the book of Job, and the Psalm by David, Psalm 139:13-16 (Psychol. S. 210). The assertion of Scheuchzer, Hoffmann, and Oetinger, that these passages of Scripture "include, and indeed go beyond, all recent systemata generationis," attributes to Scripture a design of imparting instruction, - a purpose which is foreign to it. Scripture nowhere attempts an analysis of the workings of nature, but only traces them back to their final cause. According to the view of Scripture, a creative act similar to the creation of Adam is repeated at the origin of each individual; and the continuation of development according to natural laws is not less the working of God than the creative planting of the very beginning. Thy hands, says Job, have formed (עצּב, to cut, carve, fashion; cognate are חצב, קצב, without the accompanying notion of toil, which makes this word specially appropriate, as describing the fashioning of the complicated nature of man) and perfected me. We do not translate: made; for עשׂה stands in the same relation to ברא and יצר as perficere to creare and fingere (Genesis 2:2; Isaiah 43:7). יחד refers to the members of the body collectively, and סביב to the whole form. The perfecting as clay implies three things: the earthiness of the substance, the origin of man without his knowledge and co-operation, and the moulding of the shapeless substance by divine power and wisdom. The primal origin of man, de limo terrae (Job 33:6; Psalm 139:15), is repeated in the womb. The figures which follow (Job 10:10) describe this origin, which being obscure is all the more mysterious, and glorifies the power of God the more. The sperma is likened to milk; the חתּיך (used elsewhere of smelting), which Seb. Schmid rightly explains rem colliquatam fundere et immittere in formam aliquam, refers to the nisus formativus which dwells in it. The embryo which is formed from the sperma is likened to גּבינה, which means in all the Semitic dialects cheese (curd). "As whey" (Ewald, Hahn) is not suitable; whey does not curdle; in making cheese it is allowed to run off from the curdled milk. "As cream" (Schlottm.) is not less incorrect; cream is not lac coagulatum, which the word signifies. The embryo forming itself from the sperma is like milk which is curdled and beaten into shape.

The consecutio temporum, moreover, must be observed here. It is, for example, incorrect to translate, with Ewald: Dost Thou not let me flow away like milk, etc. Job looks back to the beginning of his life; the four clauses, Job 10:10, Job 10:11, under the control of the first two verbs (Job 10:8), which influence the whole strophe, are also retrospective in meaning. The futt. are consequently like synchronous imperff.; as, then, Job 10:12 returns to perff., Job 10:11 describes the development of the embryo to the full-grown infant, on which Grotius remarks: Hic ordo est in genitura: primum pellicula fit, deinde in ea caro, duriora paulatim accedunt, and by Job 10:12, the manifestations of divine goodness, not only in the womb, but from the beginning of life and onwards, are intended. The expression "Life and favour (this combination does not occur elsewhere) hast Thou done to me" is zeugmatic: He has given him life, and sustained that life amidst constant proofs of favour; His care has guarded the spirit (רוּח), by which his frame becomes a living and self-conscious being. This grateful retrospect is interspersed with painful reflections, in which Job gives utterance to his feeling of the contrast between the manifestation of the divine goodness which he had hitherto experienced and his present condition. As in Job 10:8., ותּבלּעני, which Hirzel wrongly translates: and wilt now destroy me; it is rather: and hast now swallowed me up, i.e., drawn me down into destruction, as it were brought me to nought; or even, if in the fut. consec., as is frequently the case, the consecutive and not the aorist signification preponderates: and now swallowest me up; and in Job 10:9 (where, though not clear from the syntax, it is clear from the substance that תשׁיבני is not to be understood as an imperfect, like the futt. in Job 10:10.): wilt Thou cause me to become dust again? The same tone is continued in the following strophe. Thus graciously has he been brought into being, and his life sustained, in order that he may come to such a terrible end.

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