Job 13:27
Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks, and lookest narrowly unto all my paths; thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(27) Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks.—This is illustrated by the language of the Psalms (Psalm 88:8; Psalm 142:7, &c.). There is a difficulty in these two verses, arising from the pronouns. Some understand the subject to be the fetter: “Thou puttest my feet in the fetter that watcheth over all my paths, and imprinteth itself upon the roots of my feet, and it (the foot) consumeth like a rotten thing, and like a garment that is moth-eaten.” Others refer the “he” to Job himself; and others to man, the subject of the following chapter. In the Hebrew future tense the third person feminine and the second person masculine are alike, and the word for fetter, which is only found here and at Job 33:11, where Elihu quotes these words, may possibly be feminine in this place, though it is clear that Elihu understood Job to be speaking of God. Probably by the “he” introduced so abruptly is meant the object of all this watching and persecution.

Job 13:27. Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks — Thou encompassest me with thy judgments, so that I have no way or possibility to escape. And lookest narrowly unto all my paths — Makest a strict and diligent search into all the actions of my life, that thou mayest find matter for which to condemn me. Thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet — Thou followest me close at the heels, either to observe my actions, or to pursue me with thy judgments; insomuch, that thou dost often, as it were, tread upon my heels, and leave the prints of thy footsteps upon them. Bishop Patrick’s paraphrase here is, “I can no more escape than a malefactor, whose feet are in the stocks, who is encompassed with a vigilant guard, and cannot stir a foot from the place where he is.” Heath thinks there is an allusion, in these words, to the custom of putting a clog on the feet of fugitive slaves, that they might be tracked and found.

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.Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks - The word rendered "stocks" (סד sad), denotes the wooden frame or block in which the feet of a person were confined for punishment. The whole passage here is designed to describe the feet; as so confined in a clog or clogs, as to preclude the power of motion. Stocks or clogs were used often in ancient times as a mode of punishment. Proverbs 7:22. Jeremiah was punished by being confined in the stocks. Jeremiah 20:2; Jeremiah 29:2, Jeremiah 29:6. Paul and Silas were in like manner confined in the prison in stocks; Acts 16:24. Stocks appear to have been of two kinds. They were either clogs attached to one foot or to both feet, so as to embarrass, but not entirely to prevent walking, or they were fixed frames to which the feet were attached so as entirely to preclude motion. The former were often used with runaway slaves to prevent their escaping again when taken, or were affixed to prisoners to prevent their escape. The fixed kinds - which are probably referred to here - were of different sorts. They consisted of a frame, with holes for the feet only; or for the feet and the hands; or for the feet, the hands, and the neck. At Pompeii, stocks have been found so contrived that ten prisoners might be chained by the leg, each leg separately by the sliding of a bar. "Pict. Bible." The instrument is still used in India, and is such as to confine the limbs in a very distressing position, though the head is allowed to move freely.

And lookest narrowly unto all my paths - This idea occurs also in Job 33:11, though expressed somewhat differently, "He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths." Probably the allusion is to the paths by which he might escape. God watched or observed every way - as a sentinel or guard would a prisoner who was hampered or clogged, and who would make an attempt to escape.

Thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet - Margin, "roots." Such also is the Hebrew - רגלי שׁרשׁי shereshy regely. Vulgate, "vestigia." Septuagint, "Upon the roots - εἰς δὲ ῥίζας eis de rizas - of my feet thou comest." The word שׁרשׁ shârash means properly "root;" then the "bottom," or the lower part of a thing; and hence, the soles of the feet. The word rendered" settest a print," from חקה châqâh, means to cut in, to hew, to hack; then to engrave, carve, delineate, portray; then to dig. Various interpretations have been given of the passage here. Gesenius supposes it to mean, "Around the roots of my feet thou hast digged," that is, hast made a trench so that I can get no further. But though this suits the connection, yet it is an improbable interpretation. It is not the way in which one would endeavor to secure a prisoner, to make a ditch over which he could not leap.

Others render it, "Around the soles of my feet thou hast drawn lines," that is, thou hast made marks how far I may go. Dr. Good supposes that the whole description refers to some method of clogging a wild animal for the purpose of taming him, and that the expression here refers to a mark on the hoof of the animal by which the owner could designate him. Noyes accords with Gesenius. The editor of the Pictorial Bible supposes that it may refer to the manner in which the stocks were made, and that it means that a seal was affixed to the parts of the plank of which they were constructed, when they were joined together. He adds that the Chinese have a portable pillory of this kind, and that offenders are obliged to wear it around their necks for a given period, and that over the place where it is joined together a piece of paper is pasted, that it may not be opened without detection. Rosenmuller supposes that it means, that Job was confined within certain prescribed limits, beyond which he was not allowed to go. This restraint he supposes was effected by binding his feet by a cord to the stocks, so that he was not allowed to go beyond a certain distance. The general sense is clear, that Job was confined within certain limits, and was observed with very marked vigilance. But I doubt whether either of the explanations suggested is the true one. Probably some custom is alluded to of which we have no knowledge now - some mark that was affixed to the feet to prevent a prisoner from escaping without being detected. What that was, I think, we do not know. Perhaps Oriental researches will yet disclose some custom that will explain it.

27. stocks—in which the prisoner's feet were made fast until the time of execution (Jer 20:2).

lookest narrowly—as an overseer would watch a prisoner.

print—Either the stocks, or his disease, marked his soles (Hebrew, "roots") as the bastinado would. Better, thou drawest (or diggest) [Gesenius] a line (or trench) [Gesenius] round my soles, beyond which I must not move [Umbreit].

Thou encompassest me with thy judgments, that I may have no way or possibility to escape. When thou hast me fast in prison, thou makest a strict and diligent search into all the actions of my life, that thou mayst find matter to condemn me. Thou followest me close at the heels, either to observe my actions, or to pursue me with thy judgments, so that thou dost oft tread upon my heels, and leave the prints of thy footsteps upon them.

Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks,.... Which is one kind of punishment of offenders, and a preservation of them from making their escape; and is a security and reservation of them for further punishment sometimes; and so Job looked upon his afflictions as a punishment for he knew not what, and with which he was so surrounded and enclosed, that there was no getting out of them any more than a man can whose feet are set fast in the stocks; and that he was here kept for greater afflictions still, which he dreaded. Aben Ezra interprets it, "thou puttest my feet in lime"; and this is followed by others (n), suggesting, as a man's steps in lime are marked and easily discerned, so were his by the Lord; but this seems to be foreign from the mind of Job, who would not make such a concession as this, as if his steps taken amiss were so visible:

and lookest narrowly into all my paths; so that there was no possibility of escaping out of his troubles and afflictions; so strict a watch was kept over him; see Job 7:19; according to Ben Gersom, this refers to the stocks, "it keeps all my ways", kept him within from going abroad about the business of life, and so may refer to the disease of his body, his boils and ulcers, which kept him at home, and suffered him not to stir out of doors; but the former sense is best:

thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet; either it, the stocks, made a mark upon his heels, with which they were pressed hard, as Gersom; or rather God set one upon them, afflicting him very sorely and putting him to an excruciating pain, such as is felt by criminals when heavy blows are laid upon the soles of their feet, to which the allusion may be; or else the sense is, that he followed him closely by the heels, that whenever he took a step, it was immediately marked, and observed by the Lord, as if he trod in his steps, and set his own foot in the mark that was left.

(n) "Calce tinxisti pedes meos", Gussetius, p. 550. so some in Ben Melech.

Thou puttest my feet also in the {n} stocks, and lookest narrowly unto all my paths; thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet.

(n) You make me your prisoner, and so press me that I cannot stir hand or foot.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
27. Thou puttest] Rather, and puttest my feet in &c. The verse describes his afflictions under three figures, all denoting arrest, impossibility of movement or escape, and chastisement. The first words are brought up by Elihu, ch. Job 33:11, cf. Jeremiah 20:2; Acts 16:24.

settest a print upon the heels] Rather, and drawest thee a line around the soles of my feet. The figure means that God rigidly prescribed his movements, drawing bounds, which he must not overstep, around his feet. He is a prisoner under rigid surveillance.

Verse 27. - Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks (comp. Job 33:11). The punishment is said to be still in use among the Bedouin Arabs. It was well known to the Israelites (Proverbs 7:22; Jeremiah 20:2; Jeremiah 29:26), to the Greeks (Herod., 9:87), and to the Romans (Acts 16:24). And lookest narrowly unto all my paths. Not allowing me to escape thee. Thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet; rather, upon the soles of my feet. The "print" intended is probably a mark which the stocks were in the habit of making (see Professor Sayee, in Sunday at Home December, 1890, p. 125). Job 13:2726 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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