Why then have you brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth?—Here Job reverts to the strain of his original curse (Job 3:11, &c.).Job 3:11.
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.Psalm 22:9; which kind act of God Job complains of, and wishes it had never been, seeing his life was now so miserable and uncomfortable; here he returns to his former complaints, wishes, and expostulations, expressed with so much vehemence and passion in Job 10:3; and for which his friends blamed him, and endeavoured to convince him of his error in so doing; but it does not appear that their arguments carried any force in them with him, or had any effect upon him; he still continues in the same mind, and by repeating justifies what he had said; and thought he had sufficient reason to wish he had never been born, that he had died in the womb, since his afflictions were so very great and increasing, and since God pursued him as a fierce lion; and, according to his sense of things, his indignation against him appeared more and more, and his life was a continued succession of trouble and distress:
and that I had given up the ghost; that is, in the womb, and had never been brought out of it, at least alive; or it may be rendered not as a wish, but as an affirmation, "I should have given up the ghost"; or, "so or then I should have expired" (e); if such care had not been taken of me, if God had not been so officious to me as to take me out of my mother's womb at the proper time, I should have died in it, and that would have been my grave; and which would have been more eligible than to come into the world, and live such a miserable life as I now live:
and no eye had seen me! no eye would have seen him, had he not been taken out of the womb; or however if he had died directly, would not have seen him alive; and an abortive or stillborn child few see, or care to see; and had he been such an one, he had never been seen in the circumstances he now was; and by this he suggests, that he was now such a shocking sight as was not fit to be seen by men, and which would have been prevented had he died in the womb.Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)18, 19. Perplexed even to despair by this idea of the purpose of God Job asks, Why God ever gave him existence at all? and as in ch. Job 3:11 seq. wishes he had never seen life.
hast thou brought] didst thou bring.
Oh that I had given] I should have given.Verse 18. - Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? A recurrence to his original complaint (Job 3:3-10); as if, after full consideration, he returned to the conviction that the root of the whole matter - the real thing of which he might justly complain - was that he had ever been born into the world alive! Oh that I had given up the ghost! Before birth, or in the act of birth (so Job 3:11). And no eye had seen me! "No eye," i.e., "had looked upon my living face." For then -
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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