Job 13:26
For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth.
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(26) For thou writest bitter things against me.—Exquisitely plaintive and affecting is this confession.

Job 13:26. For thou writest — That is, thou appointest; bitter things against me — A terrible sentence, or most grievous punishments. It is a metaphor taken from the custom of princes or judges, who anciently used to write their sentences, or decrees, concerning persons or causes brought before them. And makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth — Dost now, at once, bring upon me the punishment of all my sins, not excepting those of my youth, which were committed before I well knew what I did.

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.For thou writest bitter things against me - Charges or accusations of severity. We use the word "bitter" now in a somewhat similar sense. We speak of bitter sorrow, bitter cold, etc. The language here is all taken from courts of justice, and Job is carrying cut the train of thought on which he had entered in regard to a trial before God. He says that the accusations which God had brought against him were of a bitter and severe character; charging him with aggravated offences, and recalling the sins of his youth, and holding him responsible for them. Rosenmuller remarks that the word "write" here is a judicial term, referring to the custom of writing the sentence of a person condemned (as in Psalm 149:9; Jeremiah 22:30); that is, decreeing the punishment. So the Greeks used the expression γράφεσθαι δίκην graphesthai dikēn, meaning to declare a judicial sentence. So the Arabs use the word "kitab," writing, to denote a judicial sentence.

And makest me to possess - Hebrew Causest me to inherit - ותורישׁני vetôrı̂yshēnı̂y. He was heir to them; or they were now his as a possession or an inheritance. The Vulgate renders it, consumere me vis, etc. "thou wishest to consume me with the sins of my youth." The Septuagint, "and thou dost charge against me" - περιέφηκας perithēkas.

The iniquities of my youth - The offences which I committed when young. He complains now that God recalled all those offences; that he went into days that were past, and raked up what Job had forgotten; that, not satisfied with charging on him what he had done as a man, he went back and collected all that could be found in the days when he was under the influence of youthful passions, and when, like other young men, he might have gone astray. But why should he not do it? What impropriety could there be in God in thus recalling the memory of long-forgotten sins, and causing the results to meet him now that he was a man? We may remark here,

(1) That this is often done. The sins and follies of youth seem often to be passed over or to be unnoticed by God. Long intervals of time or long tracts of land or ocean may intervene between the time when sin was committed in youth, and when it shall be punished in age. The man may himself have forgotten it, and after a youth of dissipation and folly he may perhaps have a life of prosperity for many years. But those sins are not forgotten by God. Far on in life the results of early dissipation, licentiousness, folly, will meet the offender, and overwhelm him in disgrace or calamity.

(2) God has power to recall all the offences of early life. He has access to the soul. He knows all its secret springs. With infinite ease he can reach the memory of a long-forgotten deed of guilt; and he can overwhelm the mind with the recollection of crimes that have not been thought of for years. He can fix the attention with painful intensity on some slight deed of past criminality; or he can recall forgotten sins in groups; or he can make the remembrance of one sin suggest a host of others. No man who has passed a guilty youth can be certain that his mind will not be overwhelmed with painful recollections, and however calm and secure he may now be, he may in a moment be harassed with the consciousness of deep criminality, and with most gloomy apprehensions of the wrath to come.

(3) A young man should be pure. He has otherwise no security of respectability in future life, or of pleasant recollections of the past, should he reach old age. He who spends his early days in dissipation must expect to reap the fruits of it in future years. Those sins will meet him in his way, and most probably at an unexpected moment, and in an unexpected place. If he ever becomes a good man, he will have many an hour of bitter and painful regret at the follies of his early life; if he does not, he will meet the accumulated results of his sin on the bed of death and in hell. Somewhere, and somehow, every instance of folly is to be remembered hereafter, and will be remembered with sighs and tears.

(4) God rules among people, There is a moral government on the earth. Of this there is no more certain proof than in this fact. The power of summoning up past sins to the recollection; of recalling those that have been forgotten by the offender himself, and of placing them in black array before the guilty man; and of causing them to seize with a giant's grasp upon the soul, is a power such as God alone can wield, and shows at once that there is a God, and that he rules in the hearts of people. And

(5) If God holds this power now, he will hold it in the world to come. The forgotten sins of youth, and the sins of age, will be remembered then. The sinner walks over a volcano. It may be now calm and still. Its base may be crowned with verdure, its sides with orchards and vineyards; and far up its heights the tall tree may wave, and on its summit the snow may lie undisturbed. But at any moment that mountain may heave, and the burning torrent spread desolation every where. So with the sinner. He knows not how soon the day of vengeance may come; how soon he may be made to inherit the sins of his youth.

26. writest—a judicial phrase, to note down the determined punishment. The sentence of the condemned used to be written down (Isa 10:1; Jer 22:30; Ps 149:9) [Umbreit].

bitter things—bitter punishments.

makest me to possess—or "inherit." In old age he receives possession of the inheritance of sin thoughtlessly acquired in youth. "To inherit sins" is to inherit the punishments inseparably connected with them in Hebrew ideas (Ps 25:7).

Thou writest, i.e. thou appointest or inflictest. A metaphor from princes or judges, who anciently used to write their sentence or decrees concerning persons or causes brought before them. See Psalm 149:9 Jeremiah 22:30 John 19:22.

Bitter things, i.e. a terrible sentence, or most grievous punishments.

Makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth; thou dost now at once bring upon me the punishment of all my sins, not excepting those of my youth, which because of the folly and weakness of that age are usually excused or winked at, or at least but gently punished.

For thou writest bitter things against me,.... Meaning not sins and rebellions, taken notice of by him, when his good deeds were omitted, as Jarchi; sin is indeed an evil and a bitter thing in its own nature, being exceeding sinful and abominable, and its effects and consequences; being what provokes God to anger most bitterly, and makes bitter work for repentance; as it did in Peter, who, when made sensible of it, wept bitterly, Matthew 26:75; sooner or later, sin, though it is a sweet morsel rolled about in the mouth for a while, yet in the issue proves the gall of asps within, Job 20:14, bitter and distressing; and this God also puts down in the book of his remembrance, yea, writes it as with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond, Jeremiah 17:1; but that cannot be meant here, since Job was inquiring after his sins, asking what and how many they were, and would not allow of any being committed by him that were heinous and notorious; wherefore afflictions are rather here intended, which are bitter and grievous, and not joyous, and especially such as Job was afflicted with; see Ruth 1:20; and these were written by the Lord in the book of his eternal purposes and decrees, and were the things he performed, which were appointed for Job, as he full well knew, and as all the afflictions of God's people are; and besides they were written in a judiciary way, and so against him; they were, as he apprehended, the sentence of a judge written down, and read, and pronounced, and according to it inflicted, and that with great deliberation as things are written, and in order to continue, as what is written does; and so denotes that a severe decree was gone forth against him, with design, and was and would be continued:

and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth; which had been committed through weakness and ignorance; and which, it might have been thought, would not have been taken notice of and animadverted on; or rather which Job concluded had been forgiven and forgotten, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace, and would never have been brought into account any more; and yet these were not only remembered by the Lord, at least seemingly, by the afflictions that were endured; but they were by him brought to Job's remembrance, and the guilt of them charged upon him, and stared him in the face, and loaded his conscience, and filled him with reproach, and shame, as Ephraim, Jeremiah 31:19; and which is deprecated by the Psalmist, Psalm 25:7; and what aggravated this case and made it the more distressing was, that in Job's apprehension it was to continue with him as an inheritance, as the word (m) signifies, which abides with men in their families for ever; and some respect may be had to the corruption of nature, which is hereditary, and remains with men from their youth upwards.

(m) "haereditare me facis", Beza, Schmidt, Michaelis; so Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Schultens; so the Targum and Ben Melech.

For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess {m} the iniquities of my youth.

(m) You punish me now for the sins that I committed in my youth.

26. for thou writest] Or, that thou writest. To “write” is to prescribe, or ordain, Isaiah 10:1; Hosea 8:12.

makest me to possess] Or, inherit. Job acknowledges sins of his youth, not of his riper manhood, and he conceives that his present afflictions may be for his former sins, which in his past fellowship with God he had deemed long forgiven. It is not to be supposed that he looks back on gross youthful sins, but on such as youth is not free from, and as he feared in his own children, ch. Job 1:5. Cf. the prayer of the Psalmist, Psalm 25:7.

Verse 26. - For thou writest bitter things against me. The allusion seems to be to the ordinary practice in ancient law-courts of formulating a written acte d'accusation against supposed criminals. Keeping up the imagery of a court and pleadings, Job represents God as engaged in drawing up such a document against him. The "bitter things" are the charges which the acts contains. And makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth. Job, like David, has to acknowledge "sins and offences" committed in his youth (Psalm 25:6). In considering what the indictment against him can be, he can only suppose that these old and long-forsaken sins are being remembered and brought up against him, and that he is being punished for them. He does not exclaim against this as injustice; he feels probably that there is no statute of limitations respecting sins and their punishment; but it can scarcely have seemed to him consistent with God's goodness and mercifulness that the offences of his immature age should be visited upon him so bitterly. Job 13:2626 For Thou decreest bitter things against me,

And causest me to possess the iniquities of my youth,

27 And puttest my feet in the stocks,

And observest all my ways.

Thou makest for thyself a circle round the soles of my feet,

28 Round one who moulders away as worm-eaten,

As a garment that the moth gnaweth.

He is conscious of having often prayed: "Remember not the sins of my youth, and my transgressions: according to Thy mercy remember Thou me," Psalm 25:7; and still he can only regard his affliction as the inheritance (i.e., entailed upon him by sins not repented of) of the sins of his youth, since he has no sins of his mature years that would incur wrath, to reproach himself with. He does not know how to reconcile with the justice of God the fact that He again records against him sins, the forgiveness of which he implores soon after their commission, and decrees (כּתב, as Psalm 149:9, and as used elsewhere in the book of Job with reference to the recording of judgment) for him on account of them such bitter punishment (מררות, amara, bitter calamities; comp. Deuteronomy 32:32, "bitter" grapes). And the two could not indeed be harmonized, if it really were thus. So long as a man remains an object of the divine mercy, his sins that have been once forgiven are no more the object of divine judgment. But Job can understand his affliction only as an additional punishment. The conflict of temptation through which he is passing has made God's loving-kindness obscure to him. He appears to himself to be like a prisoner whose feet are forced into the holes of a סד, i.e., the block or log of wood in which the feet of a criminal are fastened, and which he must shuffle about with him when he moves; perhaps connected with Arab. sadda, occludere, opplere (foramen), elsewhere מהפּכת (from the forcible twisting or fastening), Chald. סדיא, סדנא, Syr. sado, by which Acts 16:24, ξύλον equals ποδοκάκη, is rendered; Lat. cippus (which Ralbag compares), codex (in Plautus an instrument of punishment for slaves), or also nervus. The verb תּשׂם which belongs to it, and is found also in Job 33:11 in the same connection, is of the jussive form, but is neither jussive nor optative in meaning, as also the future with shortened vowel (e.g., Job 27:22; Job 40:19) or apocopated (Job 18:12; Job 23:9, Job 23:11) is used elsewhere from the preference of poetry for a short pregnant form. He seems to himself like a criminal whose steps are closely watched (שׁמר, as Job 10:14), in order that he may not have the undeserved enjoyment of freedom, and may not avoid the execution for which he is reserved by effecting an escape by flight. Instead of ארחתי, the reading adopted by Ben-Ascher, Ben-Naphtali writes ארחתי, with Cholem in the first syllable; both modes of punctuation change without any fixed law also in other respects in the inflexion of ארח, as of ארחה, a caravan, the construct is both ארחות, Job 6:19, and ארחות. It is scarcely necessary to remark that the verbs in Job 13:27 are addressed to God, and are not intended as the third pers. fem. in reference to the stocks (Ralbag). The roots of the feet are undoubtedly their undermost parts, therefore the soles. But what is the meaning of תּתחקּה? The Vulg., Syr., and Parchon explain: Thou fixest thine attention upon ... , but certainly according to mere conjecture; Ewald, by the help of the Arabic tahhakkaka ala: Thou securest thyself ... , but there is not the least necessity to depart from the ordinary use of the word, as those also do who explain: Thou makest a law or boundary (Aben-Ezra, Ges., Hahn, Schlottm.). The verb חקה is the usual word (certainly cognate and interchangeable with חקק) for carved-out work (intaglio), and perhaps with colour rubbed in, or filled up with metal (vid., Job 19:23, comp. Ezekiel 23:14); it signifies to hew into, to carve, to dig a trench. Stickel is in some measure true to this meaning when he explains: Thou scratchest, pressest (producing blood); by which rendering, however, the Hithpa. is not duly recognised. Raschi is better, tu t'affiches, according to which Mercerus: velut affixus vestigiis pedum meorum adhaeres, ne qu elabi possim aut effugere. But a closer connection with the ordinary use of the word is possible. Accordingly Rosenm., Umbreit, and others render: Thou markest a line round my feet (drawest a circle round); Hirz., however, in the strictest sense of the Hithpa.: Thou diggest thyself in (layest thyself as a circular line about my feet). But the Hithpa. does not necessarily mean se insculpere, but, as התפשׁט sibi exuere, התפתח sibi solvere, התחנן sibi propitium facere, it may also mean sibi insculpere, which does not give so strange a representation: Thou makest to thyself furrows (or also: lines) round the soles of my feet, so that they cannot move beyond the narrow boundaries marked out by thee. With והוּא, Job 13:28, a circumstantial clause begins: While he whom Thou thus fastenest in as a criminal, etc. Observe the fine rhythmical accentuation achālo ‛asch. Since God whom he calls upon does not appear, Job's defiance is changed to timidity. The elegiac tone, into which his bold tone has passed, is continued in Job 14.

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