Job 13:23
How many are my iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.
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(23) How many are mine iniquities?—We must be careful to note that alongside with Job’s claim to be righteous there is ever as deep a confession of personal sin, thus showing that the only way in which we can understand his declarations is in the light of His teaching who convicts of sin before He convinces of righteousness.

Job 13:23-24. How many are my sins? — That I am a sinner, I confess; but not that I am guilty of such crimes as my friends suppose; if it be so, do thou, O Lord, discover it. Wherefore hidest thou thy face? — Withdrawest thy favour and help, which thou hast been wont to afford me; and holdest me for thine enemy? — That is, dealest as sharply with me as if I were thy professed enemy.13:23-28 Job begs to have his sins discovered to him. A true penitent is willing to know the worst of himself; and we should all desire to know what our transgressions are, that we may confess them, and guard against them for the future. Job complains sorrowfully of God's severe dealings with him. Time does not wear out the guilt of sin. When God writes bitter things against us, his design is to make us bring forgotten sins to mind, and so to bring us to repent of them, as to break us off from them. Let young persons beware of indulging in sin. Even in this world they may so possess the sins of their youth, as to have months of sorrow for moments of pleasure. Their wisdom is to remember their Creator in their early days, that they may have assured hope, and sweet peace of conscience, as the solace of their declining years. Job also complains that his present mistakes are strictly noticed. So far from this, God deals not with us according to our deserts. This was the language of Job's melancholy views. If God marks our steps, and narrowly examines our paths, in judgment, both body and soul feel his righteous vengeance. This will be the awful case of unbelievers, yet there is salvation devised, provided, and made known in Christ.How many are mine iniquities and sins? - Job takes the place of the plaintiff or accuser. He opens the cause. He appeals to God to state the catalogue of his crimes, or to bring forward his charges of guilt against him. The meaning, according to Schultens, is, "That catalogue ought to be great which has called down so many and so great calamities upon my head from heaven, when I am conscious to myself of being guilty of no offence." God sorely afflicted him. Job appeals to him to show why it was done, and to make a statement of the number and the magnitude of his offences.

Make me to know - I would know on what account and why I am thus held to be guilty, and; why I am thus punished.

23. The catalogue of my sins ought to be great, to judge from the severity with which God ever anew crushes one already bowed down. Would that He would reckon them up! He then would see how much my calamities outnumber them.

sin?—singular, "I am unconscious of a single particular sin, much less many" [Umbreit].

That I am a sinner I confess; but that I am guilty of so many or such heinous crimes as my friends suppose I utterly deny; and if it be so, do thou, O Lord, discover it to my shame.

Make me to know my transgression and my sin, if peradventure my heart deceive me therein; for I am not conscious to myself of any enormous crime. How many are mine iniquities and sins? Whether of ignorance or presumption, through mistake or wilfulness, voluntary or involuntary, sins of omission or commission, secret or open, or of heart, lip, or life; for by this heap of words he uses in this and the next clause he means all sorts of sins, be they what they would; he desires to know what they were, both with respect to quality and quantity, how great (i) they were, what heinous and capital crimes he had been guilty of, that such sore afflictions were laid upon him; and how many they were, as they were suggested to be by his friends, and who indeed call them infinite, Job 22:5; and as they might seem to be from the many afflictions endured by him, which were supposed to be for sins; though, as Schultens observes, such an interrogation as the force of a diminution and negation, as that of the Psalmist; "how many are the days of thy servant?" Psalm 119:84; that is, how few are they? or rather none at all; namely, of light and joy, of pleasure and comfort; so Job represents by this his sins to be but few (k) in comparison of what his friends surmised, or might be concluded from his afflictions; and indeed none at all of a capital nature, and such as were of a deep die, atrocious and enormous crimes; only such as were common to good men, who all have their frailties, infirmities, and imperfections, there being not a just man that does good and sins not: Job did not pretend to be without sin, but he was not sensible of any notorious sin he could be charged with, nor was he conscious of allowing himself in any known sin, or of living and walking therein, which is inconsistent with the grace of God; moreover, as he knew his interest in his living Redeemer and surety, to whom, and not to himself, his sins and transgressions were imputed; he might ask, "how many iniquities and sins are to me" (l)? as the words may be literally rendered; that is, which are to be reckoned to me, to be placed to my account? none at all; see 2 Corinthians 5:19;

make me to know my transgression and my sin; not that he was ignorant of sin, of the nature and demerit of it, as unregenerate men are, who know not the plague of their own hearts, indwelling sin, internal lusts, nor the exceeding sinfulness of sinful actions, nor the effect and consequences of sin, pollution, guilt, the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and eternal death; at least do not know it as to be affected with a sense of it, to have a godly sorrow for it, repent of it, confess it, and forsake it; such knowledge as this is from the spirit of God, and which Job had; but his meaning is, that if he could not be charged with many sins, as might seem to be the case, yet if there was but one that could be produced, and was the reason of his being afflicted after this manner, he desires to know what that was, that he might, upon conviction of it, acknowledge it, repent of it, relinquish it, and guard against it; he desires to have a copy of his indictment, that he might know what he stood charged with, for what he was arraigned, condemned, and punished, as it was thought he was; this he judged a reasonable request, and necessary to be granted, that he might answer for himself.

(i) "vox pertinet ad mulitudinem et magnitudinem", Pineda. (k) So Ben Melech interprets these words. (l) "sunt mihi", Beza, Schmidt, Michaelis.

How many are {l} mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.

(l) His pangs move him to reason with God, not denying that he had sinned: but he desired to understand what his great sins were that he deserved such rigor, in which he sinned by demanding a reason from God why he punished him.

23. Job begins his plea with the demand to know the number of his sins—how many iniquities and sins have I?—and in general to be made aware of them. He means what great sins he is guilty of, sins that account for his present afflictions. He does not deny sinfulness, even sins of his youth (Job 13:26); what he denies is special sins of such magnitude as to account for his calamities. Job and his friends both agree in the theory that great afflictions are evidence that God holds those whom He afflicts guilty of great offences. The friends believe that Job is guilty of such offences; he knows he is not, and he here demands to know what the sins are of which God holds him guilty.Verse 23. - How many are mine iniquities and sins? This is scarcely, as Professor Stanley Leathes represents it, "a deep confession of personal sin" ('Old Testament Commentary,' vol. 4. p. 27). It is more in the nature of a remonstrance. "These sins of mine, for which I. am so grievously punished, what are they? Name them. How many are there of them? Let me know exactly what they are; and then I can question my conscience concerning them." Make me to know my transgression and my sin. These words imply that lie does not know them at present. He knows of some infirmities and lighter misdoings of his youth (ver. 26); but he knows of no such sins as are commensurate with his sufferings. 17 Hear, O hear my confession,

And let my declaration echo in your ears.

18 Behold now! I have arranged the cause,

I know that I shall maintain the right.

19 Who then can contend with me?

Then, indeed, I would be silent and expire.

Eager for the accomplishment of his wish that he might himself take his cause before God, and as though in imagination it were so, he invites the friends to be present to hear his defence of himself. מלּה (in Arabic directly used for confession equals religion) is the confession which he will lay down, and אחוה the declaration that he will make in evidence, i.e., the proof of his innocence. The latter substantive, which signifies brotherly conduct in post-biblical Hebrew, is here an ἅπ. λεγ. from חוה, not however with Aleph prostheticum from Kal, but after the form אזכּרה equals הזכּרה, from the Aphl equals Hiphil of this verb, which, except Psalm 19:3, occurs only in the book of Job as Hebrew (comp. the n. actionis, אחויה, Daniel 5:12), Ewald, 156, c. It is unnecessary to carry the שׁמעוּ on to Job 13:17 (hear now ... with your own ears, as e.g., Jeremiah 26:11); Job 13:17 is an independent substantival clause like Job 15:11; Isaiah 5:9, which carries in itself the verbal idea of תּהי or תּבא (Psalm 18:7). They shall hear, for on his part he has arranged, i.e., prepared (משׁפּט ערך, causam instruere, as Job 23:4, comp. Job 33:5) the cause, so that the action can begin forthwith; and he knows that he, he and no one else, will be found in the right. With the conviction of this superiority, he exclaims, Who in all the world could contend with him, i.e., advance valid arguments against his defence of himself? Then, indeed, if this impossibility should happen, he would be dumb, and willingly die as one completely overpowered not merely in outward appearance, but in reality vanquished. יריב עמדי following הוא מי (comp. Job 4:7) may be taken as an elliptical relative clause: qui litigare possit mecum (comp. Isaiah 50:9 with Romans 8:34, τίς ὁ καταδρίνων); but since זה הוא מי is also used in the sense of quis tandem or ecquisnam, this syntactic connection which certainly did exist (Ewald, 325, a) is obliterated, and הוא serves like זה only to give intensity and vividness to the מי. On עתּה כּי (in meaning not different to אז כּי), vid., Job 3:13; Job 8:6. In Job 13:19 that is granted as possible which, according to the declaration of his conscience, Job must consider as absolutely impossible. Therefore he clings to the desire of being able to bring his cause before God, and becomes more and more absorbed in the thought.

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