Then call you, and I will answer: or let me speak, and answer you me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.
answer—the defense begun.
answer—to the plea of the plaintiff. Expressions from a trial.Job 38:2,3 40:2.
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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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 6:21 is another.
(Note: In Frst, Concord. p. 1367, Colossians 1, the following passages are wanting: 1 Samuel 2:3; 2 Kings 8:10; Psalm 100:3; Psalm 139:16; Proverbs 19:7; Proverbs 26:2; 1 Chronicles 11:20, which are to be supplied from Aurivillius, diss. p. 469, where, however, on the other hand, 2 Samuel 19:7 is wanting. Exodus 21:8 also belongs to these passages. In this last passage Mhlau proposes a transposition of the letters thus: לא ידעה (if she displease her master, so that he knows her not, does not like to make her his concubine, then he shall cause her to be redeemed, etc.). In his volume on Isaiah just published (1866), Dr. Delitzsch appends the following note on Isaiah 63:9 : - "There are fifteen passages in which the Keri substitutes לו for לא, vid., Masora magna on Leviticus 11:21 (Psalter, ii. 60). If we include Isaiah 49:5; 1 Chronicles 11:20; 1 Samuel 2:16 also, there are then eighteen (comp. on Job 13:15); but the first two of these passages are very doubtful, and are therefore intentionally omitted, and in the third it is לא that is substituted for לו (Ges. Thes. 735, b). 2 Samuel 19:7 also does not belong here, for in this passage the Keri is לוּ." - Tr.])
In the lxx, which moreover changes איחל into החל, ἄρχεσθαι, the rendering is doubtful, the Cod. Vat. Translating ἐάν με χειρώσηται, the Cod. Alex. ἐὰν μή με χειρ. The Mishna b. Sota, 27, b, refers to the passage with reference to the question whether Job had served God from love or fear, and in favour of the former appeals to Job 27:5, since here the matter is doubtful (הדבר שׁקול), as the present passage may be explained, "I hope in Him," or "I hope not." The Gemara, ib. 31, a, observes that the reading לא does not determine the sense, for Isaiah 63:9 is written לא, and is not necessarily to be understood as לו, but can be so understood.
(Note: Vid., Geiger, Lesestcke aus der Mischnah (1845), S. 37f.)
Among the ancient versions, the Targ., Syr., and Jerome (etiamsi occiderit me, in ipso sperabo) are in favour of לו. This translation of the Vulgate is followed by the French, English, Italian, and other versions. This utterance, in this interpretation, has a venerable history. The Electoress Louise Henriette von Oranien (died 1667), the authoress of the immortal hymn, "Jesus meine Zuversicht" the English translation begins, "Jesus Christ, my sure defence," chose these words, "Though the Lord should slay me, yet will I hope in Him," for the text of her funeral oration. And many in the hour of death have adopted the utterance of Job in this form as the expression of their faith and consolation.
(Note: Vid., Gschel, Die Kurfrstinnen zu Brandenburg aus dem Hause Hohenzollern (1857), S. 28-32.)
Among these we may mention a Jewess. The last movement of the wasted fingers of Grace Aguilar was to spell the words, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."
(Note: Marie Henriquez Morales, bearbeitet von Piza (1860), X. 12.)
The words, so understood, have an historic claim in their favour which we will not dispute. Even the apostles do not spurn the use of the Greek words of the Old Testament, though they do not accord with the proper connection in the original text, provided they are in accordance with sacred Scripture, and give brief and pregnant expression to a truth taught elsewhere in the Scriptures. Thus it is with this utterance, which, understood as the Vulgate understands it, is thoroughly Job-like, and in some measure the ultimate solution of the book of Job. It is also, according to its most evident meaning, an expression of perfect resignation. We admit that if it is translated: behold, He will slay me, I hope not, i.e., I await no other and happier issue, a thought is obtained that also agrees with the context. But יחל does not properly mean to hope, but to wait for; and even in Job 6:11; Job 14:14, where it stands as much without an object as here, it has no other meaning but that of waiting; and Luther is true to it when he translates: behold, He will destroy me, and I cannot expect it; it is, however, strange; and Bttch. translates: I will not wait to justify myself, which is odd. The proper meaning of יחל, praestolari, gives no suitable sense. Thus, therefore, the writer will have written or meant לו, since יחל ל is also elsewhere a familiar expression with him, Job 29:21, Job 29:23; Job 30:26. The meaning, then, which agrees both with the context and with the reality, is: behold, He will slay me, I wait for Him, i.e., I wait what He may do, even to smite with death, only I will (אך, as frequently, e.g., Psalm 49:16, does not belong to the word which immediately follows, but to the whole clause) prove my ways to Him, even before His face. He fears the extreme, but is also prepared for it. Hirzel, Heiligst., Vaihinger, and others, think that Job regards his wish for the appearing of God as the certain way of death, according to the belief that no one can behold God and not die. But יקטלני has reference to a different form of idea. He fears the risk of disputing with God, and being obliged to forfeit his life; but, as לו איחל implies, he resigns himself even to the worst, he waits for Him to whom he resigns himself, whatever He may do to him; nevertheless (אך restrictive, or as frequently אכן adversative, which is the same thing here) he cannot and will not keep down the inward testimony of his innocence, he is prepared to render Him an account of the ways in which he has walked (i.e., the way of His will) - he can succumb in all respects but that of his moral guiltlessness. And in Job 13:16 he adds what will prove a triumph for him, that a godless person, or (what is suitable, and if it does not correspond to the primary idea,
(Note: The verb חנף signifies in the Arabic to deviate, to go on one side (whence, e.g., ahhnaf, bandy-legged): hhanı̂f, which is derived from it, is a so-called Arab. ḍidd, ἐναντιόσημον, which may mean both one inclining to the good and true (one who is orthodox), and in this sense it is a surname of Abraham, and one inclining to evil. Beidhwi explains it by ml, inclining one's self to; the synonym, but used only in a good sense, is Arab. 'l-‛âdl, el-‛âdil.)
still accords with the use of the word) a hypocrite, one who judges thus of himself in his own heart, would not so come forward to answer for himself before God (Hahn). It can be explained: that a godless person has no access to God; but the other explanation givers a truer thought. הוא is here used as neuter, like Job 15:9; Job 31:28 comp. Job 41:3, Exodus 34:10. Correctly lxx, καὶ τοῦτό μοι ἀποβήσεται εἰς σωτηρίαν. ישׁוּעה here (comp. Job 30:15) has not, however, the usual deeper meaning which it has in the prophets and in Psalms. It means here salvation, as victory in a contest for the right. Job means that he has already as good as won the contest, by so urgently desiring to defend himself before God. This excites a feeling in favour of his innocence at the onset, and secures him an acquittal.
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