Job 13:12
Your remembrances are like to ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Remembrancesi.e. “Wise and memorable saws of garnered wisdom are proverbs of ashes, worthless as the dust, and fit for bodies of clay like your bodies.” Or, as some understand it, “Your high fabrics, or defences, are fabrics of clay,” as an independent parallelism.

13:1-12 With self-preference, Job declared that he needed not to be taught by them. Those who dispute are tempted to magnify themselves, and lower their brethren, more than is fit. When dismayed or distressed with the fear of wrath, the force of temptation, or the weight of affliction, we should apply to the Physician of our souls, who never rejects any, never prescribes amiss, and never leaves any case uncured. To Him we may speak at all times. To broken hearts and wounded consciences, all creatures, without Christ, are physicians of no value. Job evidently speaks with a very angry spirit against his friends. They had advanced some truths which nearly concerned Job, but the heart unhumbled before God, never meekly receives the reproofs of men.Your remembrances are like unto ashes - There has been a considerable variety in the interpretation of this verse. The meaning in our common version is certainly not very clear. The Vulgate renders it, Memoria vestra comparabitur cineri. The Septuagint, Ἀποβήσεται δὲ ὑμῶν τὸ γαυρίαμα Ἶσα σποδᾷ Apobēsetai de humōn to gauriama isa spodō - "your boasting shall pass away like ashes." Dr. Good renders it, "Dust are your stored-up sayings." Noyes, "Your maxims are words of dust." The word rendered "remembrances" זכרון zı̂krôn means properly "remembrance, memory," Joshua 4:7; Ezekiel 12:14; then a "memento," or "record;" then a "memorable saying, a maxim." This is probably the meaning here; and the reference is to the apothegms or proverbs which they had so profusely uttered, and which they regarded as so profound and worthy of attention, but which Job was disposed to regard as most common-place, and to treat with contempt.

Are like unto ashes - That is, they are valueless. See the notes at Isaiah 44:20. Their maxims had about the same relation to true wisdom which ashes have to substantial and nutritious food. The Hebrew here (אפר משׁלי mâshaly 'êpher) is rather, "are parables of ashes;" - the word משׁל mâshâl meaning similitude, parable, proverb. This interpretation gives more force and beauty to the passage.

Your bodies - - גביכם gabēykem Vulgate, "cervices." Septuagint, τὸ δὲ σῶμα πήλινον to de sōma pēlinon - but the body is clay. The Hebrew word גב gab, means something gibbous (from where the word "gibbous" is derived), convex, arched; hence, the "back" of animals or human beings, Ezekiel 10:12; the boss of a shield or buckler - the "gibbous," or exterior convex part - Job 15:26; and then, according to Gesenius, an entrenchment, a fortress, a strong-hold. According to this interpretation, the passage here means, that the arguments behind which they entrenched themselves were like clay. They could not resist an attack made upon them, but would be easily thrown down, like mud walls. Grotius renders it, "Your towers (of defense) are tumult of clay." Rosenmuller remarks on the verse that the ancients were accustomed to inscribe sentences of valuable historical facts on pillars. If these were engraved on stone, they would be permanent; if on pillars covered with clay, they would soon be obliterated. On a pillar or column at Aleandria, the architect cut his own name at the base deep in the stone. On the plaster or stucco with which the column was covered, he inscribed the name of the person to whose honor it was reared. The consequence was, that that name became soon obliterated; his own then appeared, and was permanent. But the meaning here is rather, that the apothegms and maxims behind which they entrenched themselves were like mud walls, and could not withstand an attack.

12. remembrances—"proverbial maxims," so called because well remembered.

like unto ashes—or, "parables of ashes"; the image of lightness and nothingness (Isa 44:20).

bodies—rather, "entrenchments"; those of clay, as opposed to those of stone, are easy to be destroyed; so the proverbs, behind which they entrench themselves, will not shelter them when God shall appear to reprove them for their injustice to Job.

Your remembrances; either,

1. Actively, i.e. your memorials, or your discourses and arguments, by which you design to bring things to my remembrance. So he might possibly allude to that passage, Job 4:7. Remember, I pray thee, &c. That and all your other mementos are like unto ashes, i.e. contemptible and unprofitable, Heb. are parables, or speeches, of dust, or ashes. Or,

2. Passively; all that which is most excellent and memorable in you, your wealth, and dignity, and wit, and reputation, or whatsoever it is for which you expect or desire to be remembered, it is all but poor despicable dust and ashes. And therefore you have just reason to abhor yourselves, and to dread the Divine Majesty, as I now advised you.

Your bodies; though they be not full of sores and boils as mine is, yet they are but dust, and to dust they shall return as well as mine. Heb. your backs, which, being the strongest part of the body, is put for the whole body. Or, your eminencies, or excellencies, as this word most properly signifies, as Hebricians observe; so it answers to their memorables. All those things wherein you do, or think that you do, excel others, are but like eminencies, or lumps, or heaps of clay, vain and useless things, if compared with the excellencies of God. Or, your heights, i.e. your lofty discourses, are like clay, i.e. without solidity and strength. Your remembrances are like unto ashes,.... Either of things they put Job in remembrance of, the mementos which they had suggested to him; see Job 4:7; or the things which they had brought forth out of their memories, the instances they had given of what had been in the world, the arguments, objections, and reasonings, they had made use of in this controversy; their "memorable sentences" (e), as some render it, were of no more moment and importance than ashes, and easily blown away like them; or whatsoever was memorable in them, or they thought would perpetuate their memory hereafter, as their houses and lands, and towns and cities, called by their names, these memorials should perish, Psalm 49:11; or their wealth and riches, their honour and glory, their learning, wisdom, and knowledge, all should fade, and come to nothing; the memory of the just indeed is blessed, the righteous are had in everlasting remembrance, because of their everlasting righteousness; but as anything else, that may be thought to be a remembrance of man, it is but as ashes, of little worth, gone, and often trampled upon; and men should remember that they are but dust and ashes, as Aben Ezra (f) observes, even in their best estate, in comparison of the excellency of God, before spoken of; and as Abraham confessed in the presence of God, Genesis 18:27;

your bodies to bodies of clay; that is, are like to bodies of clay, to such as are made of clay after the similitude of human bodies; and such are the bodies of men themselves, they are of the earth, earthly, they are houses of clay, which have their foundation in the dust; earthen vessels, and earthly houses of this tabernacle, poor, mean, frail, brittle things, are crushed before the moth, and much more before the Almighty; the word is by some rendered "eminencies", the most eminent men; what is most eminent in them are like to "eminences of clay" (g), or heaps of dirt: some interpret this, as the former expression, of their words, reasonings, arguments, and objections; which though great swelling words, were vain and empty, mere bubbles, and though reckoned strong reasonings, unanswerable arguments, and objections, had no strength in them, but were to be easily thrown down like hillocks of clay; and though thought to be like shields, or high and strong fortresses, as some (h) take the word to signify, yet are but clayey ones.

(e) "sententiae vestrae memorabiles", Schultens. (f) So the Tigurine version, "meminisse oportebat vos similea esse cineri". (g) "eminentiae vestrae, eminentiae luteae", Beza; so Bolducius. (h) So Cocceius, Beza.

Your {d} remembrances are like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay.

(d) Your fame will come to nothing.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. This verse reads,

Your remembrances shall be proverbs of ashes,

Your defences defences of dust.

The term “remembrances” means their traditional sayings, remembered from antiquity, their maxims, such as Bildad adduced, ch. 8, and Eliphaz with his Remember now! ch. Job 4:7; these shall be found to be but ashes, easily dissipated, and not able to resist. The word “defences” is used of the boss of the buckler, ch. Job 15:26, and may refer to some sort of breastwork or cover from which men assailed the enemy. These shall turn out defences of dust, lit clay, i. e. dried clay, which crumbles into dust. “Defences” here are not works for defence strictly but for offence, they are the arguments of the friends; cf. Isaiah 41:21, “strong reasons.” These great arguments which the friends used in defence of God against Job shall be found by them, when God searches them out, to be mere ashes and crumbling clay. So it turned out, cf. ch. Job 42:7 seq.Verse 12. - Your remembrances are like unto ashes. The "remembrances" intended are probably the wise saws, embodiments of the ancient wisdom, on which Job's adversaries have relied in their disputations with him (Job 4:7, 8; Job 8:8-11, etc.). These Job declares to be mere dust and ashes - useless, worthless, such as the first breath of air wilt blow away. Your bodies to bodies of clay; rather, your mounds or your defences (see the Revised Version). These defences, Job says - i.e, the arguments by which his opponents support their views - are no better than "defences of clay " - easy to batter down and destroy. The ancient defences of a town were usually either of stone, as at Khorsabad ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 1. pp. 278, 279), or of crude brick faced with burnt brick, as at Babylon and elsewhere. But Job seems to be speaking of something more primitive than either of these - mere earthworks, like the Roman aggera hastily thrown up and easy to level with the ground. 3 But I would speak to the Almighty,

And I long to reason with God.

4 And ye however are forgers of lies,

Physicians of no value are ye all.

5 Oh that ye would altogether hold your peace,

It would be accounted to you as wisdom.

6 Hear now my instruction,

Ando hearken to the answers of my lips!

He will no longer dispute with the friends; the more they oppose him, the more earnestly he desires to be able to argue his cause before God. אוּלם (Job 13:3) is disjunctive, like ἀλλά, and introduces a new range of thoughts; lxx ου ̓ μήν δὲ ἀλλά, verum enim vero. True, he has said in Job 9 that no one can maintain his cause before God; but his confidence in God grows in proportion as his distrust of the friends increases; and at the same time, the hope is begotten that God will grant him that softening of the terror of His majesty which he has reserved to himself in connection with this declaration (Job 9:34, comp. Job 13:20.). The infin. absol. הוכח, which in Job 6:25 is used almost as a substantive, and indeed as the subject, is here in the place of the object, as e.g., Isaiah 5:5; Isaiah 58:6 : to prove, i.e., my cause, to God (אל־אל, like Job 13:15, אל־פּניו) I long. With ואוּלם (Job 13:4) the antithesis is introduced anew: I will turn to God, you on the contrary (καὶ ὑμεῖς δὲ). Since the verb טפל, from its primary meaning to spread on, smear on (whence e.g., Talmudic טפלה, the act of throwing on, as when plastering up the cracks of an oven), cogn. תּפל (whence תּפל, plaster, and perhaps also in the signification tasteless, Job 6:6 equals sticky, greasy, slimy), does not signify, at least not at first, consuere, but assuere (without any relation of root with תּפר), we explain, not with Olshausen and others, concinnatores mendacii, such as sew together lies as patchwork; but with Hirzel and others, assutores mendacii, such as patch on lies, i.e., charge falsely, since they desire throughout to make him out to be a sinner punished according to his desert. This explanation is also confirmed by Job 14:17. Another explanation is given by Hupfeld: sarcinatores false equals inanes, inutiles, so that שׁקר signifies what lies equals what deceives, as in the parallel member of the verse אלל,

(Note: In the Talmudic, the jugular vein, the cutting of which produces death, is called אלל (later עצב, Arab. ‛ṣb), according to which (b. Chullin 121a) it is explained: healer of the jugular artery, i.e., those who try to heal what is incurable, therefore charlatans, - a strange idea, which has arisen from the defective form of writing אלל. The lxx translates ἰαταὶ κακῶν.)

nothingness, and also עמל (Job 16:2) in a similar connection, is not an objective but attributive genitive; but Psalm 119:69 is decisive against this interpretation of שׁקר טפלי. The parallelism is not so exactly adjusted, as e.g., even רפאי does not on account of the parallel with טפלי signify patchers, ῥάπται, but: they are not able to heal Job's wounds with the medicine of consolation; they are medici nihili, useless physicians. Proverbs 17:28, "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise," applies to them, si tacuisses, sapiens mansisses; or, as a rabbinical proverb of similar meaning, quoted by Heidenheim, says, השׂגה בהשׂגה הלאות, "the fatigue of comprehension is comprehension," i.e., the silent pause before a problem is half the solution. The jussive form וּתהי, it would be (Ges. 128, 2), is used in the conclusion of the wish. Thus he challenges them to hear his תּוכחת (תּוכחה) and his רבוה. Hirzel is quite right when he says the former does not mean defence (justification), nor the latter proofs (counter-evidence); תוכחת is, according to his signification (significatus, in distinction from sensus), ἔλεγχος, correptio (lxx, Vulg.), and here not so much refutation and answer, as correction in an ethical sense, in correspondence with which רבות is also intended of reproaches, reproofs, or reprimands.

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