Job 13:22
Then call thou, and I will answer: or let me speak, and answer thou me.
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13:13-22 Job resolved to cleave to the testimony his own conscience gave of his uprightness. He depended upon God for justification and salvation, the two great things we hope for through Christ. Temporal salvation he little expected, but of his eternal salvation he was very confident; that God would not only be his Saviour to make him happy, but his salvation, in the sight and enjoyment of whom he should be happy. He knew himself not to be a hypocrite, and concluded that he should not be rejected. We should be well pleased with God as a Friend, even when he seems against us as an enemy. We must believe that all shall work for good to us, even when all seems to make against us. We must cleave to God, yea, though we cannot for the present find comfort in him. In a dying hour, we must derive from him living comforts; and this is to trust in him, though he slay us.Then call thou, and I will answer - Call me to trial; summon me to make my defense. This is language taken from courts of justice, and the idea is, that if God would remove his calamity, and not overawe him, and would then call on him to make a defense, he would be ready to respond to his call. The language means, "be thou plaintiff in the case, and I will enter on my defense." He speaks now to God not as to a judge but as a party, and is disposed to go to trial. See the notes at Job 9:33-35.

Or let me speak, and answer thou me - "Let me be the plaintiff, and commence the cause. In any way, let the cause come to an issue. Let me open the cause, adduce my arguments, and defend my view of the subject; and then do thou respond." The idea is, that Job desired a fair trial. He was willing that God should select his position, and should either open the cause, or respond to it when he had himself opened it. To our view, there is something that is quite irreverent in this language, and I know not that it can be entirely vindicated. But perhaps, when the idea of a trial was once suggested, all the rest may be regarded as the mere filling up, or as language fitted to carry out that single idea, and to preserve the concinnity of the poem. Still, to address God in this manner is a wide license even for poetry. There is the language of complaint here; there is an evident feeling that God was not right; there is an undue reliance of Job on his own powers; there is a disposition to blame God which we can by no means approve, and which we are not required to approve. But let us not too harshly blame the patriarch. Let him who has suffered much and long, who feels that he is forsaken by God and by man, who has lost property and friends, and who is suffering under a painful bodily malady, if he has never had any of those feelings, cast the first stone. Let not those blame him who live in affluence and prosperity, and who have yet to endure the first severe trial of life. One of the objects, I suppose, of this poem is, to show human nature as it is; to show how good people often feel under severe trial; and it would not be true to nature if the representation had been that Job was always calm, and that he never cherished an improper feeling or gave vent to an improper thought.

22. call—a challenge to the defendant to answer to the charges.

answer—the defense begun.

speak—as plaintiff.

answer—to the plea of the plaintiff. Expressions from a trial.

Then choose thy own method. Either do thou charge me with hypocrisy, or more than common guilt, and I will defend myself; or I will argue with thee concerning thy extraordinary severity towards me; and do thou show me the reasons of it. This proposal savoured of too great self-confidence, and of irreverence towards God; for which and suchlike speeches he is reproved by God, Job 38:2,3 40:2.

Then call thou, and I will answer,.... Either call him by name in open court, and he would answer to it; or arraign him at the bar, and exhibit charges against him, and he would make answer to them and clear himself; his sense is, that if God would take upon him to be plaintiff, and accuse and charge him with what he had to object to him, then he would be defendant, and plead his own cause, and show that they did not of right belong unto him:

or let me speak, and answer thou me: or he would be plaintiff, and put queries concerning the afflictions he was exercised with, or the severity of them, and the reason of such usage, and God be the defendant, and give him an answer to them, that he might be no longer at a loss as he was for such behaviour towards him: this is very boldly said indeed, and seems to savour of irreverence towards God; and may be one of those speeches for which he was blamed by Elihu, and by the Lord himself; though no doubt he designed not to cast any contempt upon God, nor to behave ill towards him; but in the agonies of his spirit, and under the weight of his affliction, and to show the great sense he had of his innocence, and his assurance of it, he speaks in this manner; not doubting but, let him have what part he would in the debate, whether that of plaintiff or defendant, he should carry the cause, and it would go in his favour; and though he proposes it to God to be at his option to choose which he would take, Job stays not for an answer, but takes upon him to be plaintiff, as in the following words.

Then call thou, and I will answer: or let me speak, and answer thou me.
22. With these conditions he is ready to appear either as respondent or as appellant.

Ch. Job 13:22 to Job 14:22. Job pleads his cause before God

Having ordered his cause and challenged his friends to observe how he will plead, Job now enters, with the boldness and proud bearing of one assured of victory, upon his plea itself. There is strictly no break between the passage which follows and the foregoing; the division is only made here for convenience’ sake. It would scarcely be according to the author’s intention to make Job 13:23 the plea, and assume that, as God did not answer the demand there made, Job’s plea took another turn. The question whether Job actually did expect that he would be replied to out of heaven can hardly be answered. We must, however, take into account the extreme excitation of his mind, and the vividness with which men in that age realized the nearness of God and looked for His direct interference in their affairs and life. According to the modes of conception which appear everywhere in the Poem, there was nothing extravagant in Job’s expecting a direct reply to his appeal; for that such an answer might be given is evidently the meaning of Zophar’s words, ch. Job 11:6; and in point of fact the Lord does at last answer Job by a voice from heaven, ch. 38. seq.

The plea itself has a certain resemblance to that in chaps. 7 and 10, but is more subdued and calm. The crisis is now really over in Job’s mind. Though he has not convinced his friends, he has fought his way through any doubts which their suspicions and his afflictions might have raised in his own thoughts. The courage with which he is ready to go before God he feels to be but the reflection of his innocence; and this feeling throws a general peace over his spirit, which regrets over the brevity of his life, and perplexity at beholding God treat so severely so feeble a being as himself, are able only partially to disturb. After the few direct demands at the beginning to know what his sins are (Job 13:23), his plea becomes a pitiful appeal unto God, from which the irony of former appeals is wholly absent. As before, he contrasts the littleness of man and the greatness of God, but his conception both of God and man is not any more, so to speak, merely physical, but moral. He speaks of the sins of his youth (ch. Job 13:26), and of the universal sinfulness of man (ch. Job 14:4), and appeals to the forbearance of God in dealing with a creature so imperfect, and shortlived.

First, Job demands to know what his sins are, and wonders that God who is so great would pursue a withered leaf like him, and bring up now after so long the sins of his youth—one who wastes away like a garment that is moth-eaten (ch. Job 13:23-28).

Second, this reference to his own natural feebleness widens his view to the condition of the race of man to which he belongs, whose two characteristics are: that it is of few days, and filled with trouble. And he wonders that God would bring such a being into judgment with Him; when the race of man is universally imperfect and a clean one cannot be found in it. And he founds an appeal on the fated shortness of man’s life that God would not afflict him with strange and uncommon troubles, but leave him to take what comfort he can, oppressed with only the natural hardships of his short and evil “day” (ch. Job 14:1-6).

Third, this appeal is supported by the remembrance of the inexorable “nevermore” which death writes on man’s life. Sadder is the fate of man even than that of the tree. The tree if cut down will bud again, but man dieth and is gone without return as wholly as the water which the sun sucks up from the pool; his sleep of death is eternal (Job 13:7-12).

Fourth, step after step Job has gone down deeper into the waters of despair—the universal sinfulness of mankind and the inexorable severity of God; the troubles of life of which one must sate himself to the full; its brevity; and last of all its complete extinction in death. The waters here reach his heart; and human nature driven back upon itself becomes prophetic: the vision rises before Job’s mind of another life after this one, and he pursues with excited eagerness the glorious phantom (Job 13:13-15).

Finally, the prayer that such another life might be is supported by a new and dark picture which he draws of his present condition (Job 13:16-22).

Verse 22. - Then call thou, and I will answer. "Then" - when I am free from suffering, both mental and bodily - implead me, bring thy charges against me, and I will answer them. As Mr. Fronds observes, "Job himself had been educated in the same creed" as his comforters; "he, too, had been taught to see the hand of God in the outward dispensation" ('Short Studies,' vol. 1. p. 300). He therefore assumes that God will have a particular charge to make against him, in connection with each of the calamities that have come on him, and he is prepared to face these changes and confute them. At the same time, he is undoubtedly much confused and perplexed, not knowing how to reconcile his traditional belief with his internal consciousness of innocence. Or let me speak, and answer thou me. "Let me," i.e. "take the initiative, if thou preferrest it so - let me ask the questions, and do thou answer." Job 13:2220 Only two things do not unto me,

Then will I not hide myself from Thy countenance:

21 Withdraw Thy hand from me,

And let Thy fear not terrify me -

22 Call then and I will answer,

Or I will speak and answer Thou me!

He makes only two conditions in his prayer, as he has already expressed it in Job 9:34 : (1) That God would grant him a cessation of his troubles; (2) That He would not overwhelm him with His majesty. The chastening hand of God is generally called יד elsewhere; but in spite of this prevalent usage of the language, כּף cannot be understood here (comp. on the contrary Job 33:7) otherwise than of the hand (Job 9:34 : the rod) of God, which lies heavily on Job. The painful pressure of that hand would prevent the collecting and ordering of his thoughts required for meeting with God, and the אימה (Codd. defectively אמתך) of God would completely crush and confound him. But if God grants these two things: to remove His hand for a time, and not to turn the terrible side of His majesty to him, then he is ready whether God should himself open the cause or permit him to have the first word. Correctly Mercerus: optionem ei dat ut aut actoris aut rei personam deligat, sua fretus innocentia, sed interim sui oblitus et immodicus. In contrast with God he feels himself to be a poor worm, but his consciousness of innocence makes him a Titan.

He now says what he would ask God; or rather, he now asks Him, since he vividly pictures to himself the action with God which he desires. His imagination anticipates the reality of that which is longed for. Modern expositors begin a new division at Job 13:23. But Job's speech does not yet take a new turn; it goes on further continually uno tenore.

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