Job 16:15
I have sewed sackcloth on my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust.
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(15) I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin.—Referring, probably, to the state of his skin, which had become hard and rugged as sackcloth. As the second half of the verse must be figurative, there seems to be no reason to understand the first half otherwise.

Job 16:15-16. I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin — I have put on sackcloth, not upon my other garments, but next to my skin; as was done in great calamities. So far am I from stretching out my hands against God, whereof I am accused, (Job 15:25,) that I have humbled myself deeply under his hand, and I have even sewed sackcloth on me, as being resolved to continue my humiliation as long as my affliction continues. And defiled my horn in the dust — I have willingly parted with all my wealth, and power, and glory, (as the horn often signifies in Scripture,) and have been content to lie in the dust, and to endure the contempt which God hath brought upon me. “This phrase of defiling one’s horn in the dust,” says Chappelow, “is expressive of the greatest ignominy and contempt that a person can suffer, especially after he had been exalted to a high station.” My face is foul — The author of the Vulgate renders it, intumuit, hath swelled with weeping. And on my eyelids is the shadow of death — That is, a gross and terrible darkness. My sight is very dim, as is usual in case of sore diseases, or excessive grief and weeping, and especially in the approach of death. 16:6-16 Here is a doleful representation of Job's grievances. What reason we have to bless God, that we are not making such complaints! Even good men, when in great troubles, have much ado not to entertain hard thoughts of God. Eliphaz had represented Job as unhumbled under his affliction: No, says Job, I know better things; the dust is now the fittest place for me. In this he reminds us of Christ, who was a man of sorrows, and pronounced those blessed that mourn, for they shall be comforted.I have sewed sackcloth - I have put on the badges of humiliation and grief; see the notes at Isaiah 3:24. This was the usual emblem of mourning. In order more deeply to express it, or to make it a "permanent" memorial of sorrow, it would seem that it was "sewed" around the body - as we "sew" crape on the hat.

And defiled my horn in the dust - The word rendered "defiled" (from עלל ‛âlal) has, according to Gesenius, the notion of "repetition," derived from the use of the Arabic word. The Arabic means, to drink again, that is, after a former draught; and then, to drink deep. Hence, the word is applied to any action which is repeated - as to the second blow by which one already struck down is killed; to an after-harvest, or to gleaning in the fields. Here Gesenius supposes it means to "maltreat," to "abuse;" and the idea according to him is, that he had covered his whole head in the dust. The word "horn" is used in the Scriptures to denote strength and power. The figure is taken from horned animals, whose strength resides in their horns; and hence, as the horn is the means of defense, the word comes to denote that on which one relies; his strength, honor, dignity. A horn, made of "silver," was also worn as an ornament, or as an emblem, on the forehead of females or warriors.

It was probably used at first by warriors as a symbol of "power, authority," or "strength;" and the idea was undoubtedly derived from the fact that the strength of animals was seen to lie in the horn. Then it came to be a mere ornament, and as such is used still in the vicinity of Mount Lebanon. Oriental customs do not undergo those changes which are so common in the Western world, and it is possible that this custom prevailed in the time of Job. The "horn" was usually worn by females; it is also a part of the ornament on the head of a male, and as such would be regarded doubtless as an emblem of honor. The custom is prevalent at the present day among the Druses of Lebanon, the Egyptian cavalry, and in some parts of Russia bordering on Persia. Dr. Macmichael, in his "Journey," says: "One of the most extraordinary parts of the attire of their females (Drusus of Lebanon), is a silver horn, sometimes studded with jewels, worn on the head in various positions, "distinguishing their different conditions."

A married woman has it affixed to the right side of the head, a widow on the left, and a virgin is pointed out by its being placed on the very crown. Over this silver projection the long veil is thrown, with which they so completely conceal their faces to rarely have more than an eye visible." The horn worn by females is a conical tube, about twelve inches long. Col. Light mentions the horn of the wife of an emir, made of gold, and studded with precious stones. Horns are worn by Abyssinian chiefs in military reviews, or on parade after a victory. They are much shorter than those of the females, and are about the size and shape of a candle extinguisher, fastened by a strong fillet to the head, which is often made of metal; they are not easily broken off. This special kind of horn is undoubtedly the kind made by the false prophet Zedekiah for Ahab, to whom he said, when Ahab was about to attack the enemy, "With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou hast conquered them;" 1 Kings 22:11; 2 Chronicles 18:10; compare Deuteronomy 33:17. The idea here is, that whatever once constituted the reliance or the glory of Job, was now completely prostrate. It was as if it were buried in the earth.

15. sewed—denoting the tight fit of the mourning garment; it was a sack with armholes closely sewed to the body.

horn—image from horned cattle, which when excited tear the earth with their horns. The horn was the emblem of power (1Ki 22:11). Here, it is

in the dust—which as applied to Job denotes his humiliation from former greatness. To throw one's self in the dust was a sign of mourning; this idea is here joined with that of excited despair, depicted by the fury of a horned beast. The Druses of Lebanon still wear horns as an ornament.

i.e. I put on sackcloth sewed together, not upon my other garments, but next to my skin, as was done in great calamities; as 2 Kings 6:30. So far am I from stretching out my hands against God, whereof I am accused, Job 15:25, that I have humbled myself deeply under his hand. I have willingly parted with all my wealth, and power, and glory, (as the horn oft signifies in Scripture, as Psalm 75:5 132:17 Luke 1:69) and been contented to lie in the dust, and to endure the contempt which God hath brought upon me. I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin,.... Which he very probably put on when he rent his mantle, or sat in ashes, Job 1:20; which actions were usually performed together in times of distress and sorrow, see Genesis 37:34; and this was no doubt a voluntary action of his, like that of the king of Nineveh and his subjects Jonah 3:5; though some have thought that Job was so reduced that he had no clothes to wear, and was obliged to put on such coarse raiment, which is not probable; and it seems that he put this next to his skin, which must be very uneasy to one that had been used to such soft apparel, as it seems did also the kings of Israel in time of mourning, 1 Kings 21:27; it is not only observed by several Jewish writers, that the word here used in the Arabic language signifies "skin", as we render it, as Aben Ezra, Ben Melech, and others; but the skin of the wound, the thin skin which is drawn over a wound when it is healing, as Ben Gersom and Bar Tzemach; which, being tender, must be very unfit to bear such rough raiment upon it; nay, Schultens observes, that the Arabic word more properly signifies "torn skin" (h), as Job's skin must be full of ruptures through the boils and ulcers upon him; he himself says, that his "skin was broken, and become loathsome", Job 7:5; now to have sackcloth put on such a skin must be intolerable; the phrase of sewing it to it is very unusual; though it may signify no more than an application of it, a putting it on him, and clothing himself with it; yet it seems to denote its sticking close to him, as if it was sewed to his skin, through the purulent matter of his boils clotting and cleaving to it; for he says in Job 7:5 that his "flesh was clothed with worms and clods of dust"; and those running into one another were like one scab, and, as it were, a garment to him; his "disease bound him about as the collar of his coat", and his "skin was as black" as sackcloth itself, Job 30:18; the design of the expression is both to show the wretched and miserable condition he was in, and his great humiliation on account of his present circumstances; and that he was not that proud and haughty man, or behaved under his affliction in the insolent manner Eliphaz had suggested, Job 15:12; but was one that humbled himself under the mighty hand of God, which is further confirmed by the next clause:

and defiled my horn, in the dust: as he did when he sat in ashes, as he afterwards repented in dust and ashes; and it was usual in the times of mourning to put dust or ashes upon the head; which may be meant by his horn, the horn of a beast, to which the allusion is, being in the head; and this may be put for the whole body, which sometimes, on such occasions, was rolled in dust and ashes, see Joshua 7:6; and the horn being an emblem of grandeur, power, and authority, may denote that Job now laid aside all the ensigns of it, and was content to have his honour laid in the dust, and lie low before God, and not lift up his horn unto him, and much less stretch out his hand against him; the Targum is,

"I sprinkled my glory in or with dust.''

(h) "super laceram cutem", Schultens; "cutis eaque laesa et ulceribus percussa", Stockius, p. 188. "cutim percusiit", Hottinger. Smegma Orient. p. 135. Stockius, ib.

I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my {p} horn in the dust.

(p) Meaning, his glory was brought low.

15. Putting on sackcloth was the sign of mourning; it was worn next the skin, 2 Kings 6:30. By sewing it on Job indicates that it is his habitual garment, which he never puts off; though the word may also suggest the closeness with which it adheres to his shrunk and emaciated frame.

defiled my horn] The word “defiled” or fouled may also mean, thrust my horn into the dust; the sense remains the same. To lift up the horn is to increase in power or eminence, or to shew a proud sense of greatness (Psalm 89:17; Psalm 89:24; Psalm 92:10; Psalm 75:4-5); to thrust it into the dust, or to foul it in the dust, is to feel the sense of deepest humiliation. Job’s once honoured head which he held erect was brought down low in shame.

15–17. Condition to which the sufferer was brought by these destructive attacks of God in His hostility.Verse 15. - I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin. Another transition. Job turns to the consideration of how he has acted under his severe afflictions. In the first place, he has put on sackcloth, not for a time merely, as ordinary mourners do, but for a permanency, so that he may be said to have sewn it to his skin. There is, perhaps, also an allusion to the adhesion of the garment to his many sores. And have defiled my horn in the dust. "My horn" is equivalent to "my pride," "my dignity." Job, when he left his state, and put on sackcloth, and "sat down among the ashes" (Job 2:8), denuded himself of his honour and dignity, and as it were trailed them in the dust The verb קמט (Aram. קמט), which occurs only once beside (Job 22:16), has, like Arab. qmṭ (in Gecatilia's transl.), the primary meaning of binding and grasping firmly (lxx ἐπελάβου, Symm. κατέδησας, Targ. for לכד, תּמך, lengthened to a quadriliteral in Arab. qmṭr, cogn. קמץ),

(Note: On the other hand, קטם, Arab. qṭm, abscindere, praemordere, has no connection with קמט, with which Kimchi and Reiske confuse it. This is readily seen from the opposite primary distinction of the two roots, קם and קט, of which the former expresses union, the latter separation.)

constringere, from which the significations comprehendere and corrugare have branched off; the signification, to wrinkle (make wrinkled), to shrivel up, is the most common, and the reference which follows, to his emaciation, and the lines which occur further on from the picture of one sick with elephantiasis, show that the poet here has this in his mind. Ewald's conjecture, which changes היה into היּה, Job 6:2; Job 30:13 equals הוּה, as subject to ותקמטני (calamity seizes me as a witness), deprives the thought contained in לעד, which renders the inferential clause לעד היה prominent, of much of its force and emphasis. In Job 16:8 this thought is continued: כּחשׁ signifies here, according to Psalm 109:24 (which see), a wasting away; the verb-group כחשׁ, כחד, Arab. jḥd, kḥt, qḥṭ, etc., has the primary meaning of taking away and decrease: he becomes thin from whom the fat begins to fail; to disown is equivalent to holding back recognition and admission; the metaphor, water that deceives equals dries up, is similar. His wasted, emaciated appearance, since God has thus shrivelled him up, came forth against him, told him to his face, i.e., accused him not merely behind his back, but boldly and directly, as a convicted criminal. God has changed himself in relation to him into an enraged enemy. Schlottm. wrongly translates: one tears and tortures me fiercely; Raschi erroneously understands Satan by צרי. In general, it is the wrath of God whence Job thinks his suffering proceeds. It was the wrath of God which tore him so (like Hosea 6:1, comp. Amos 1:11), and pursued him hostilely (as he says with the same word in Job 30:21); God has gnashed against him with His teeth; God drew or sharpened (Aq., Symm., Theod., ὤξυνεν לטשׁ like Psalm 7:13). His eyes or looks like swords (Targ. as a sharp knife, אזמל, σμίλη) for him, i.e., to pierce him through. Observe the aorr. interchanging with perff. and imperff. He describes the final calamity which has made him such a piteous form with the mark of the criminal. His present suffering is only the continuation of the decree of wrath which is gone forth concerning him.

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