Job 16:21
O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour!
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 16:21. O that one might plead for a man with God — O that either I or some faithful advocate might be admitted to plead my cause, either with God, or rather with you before God’s tribunal, God being witness and judge between us. A different translation of this verse is proposed by some, a translation which the Hebrew text will very well bear, namely, And he will plead (that is, there is one that will plead) for man with God, even the Son of man, for his friend or neighbour. Those who pour out tears before God, though they cannot plead for themselves by reason of their distance and defects, have a friend to plead for them, even the Son of man; and on this we must ground all our hopes of acceptance with God.

16:17-22 Job's condition was very deplorable; but he had the testimony of his conscience for him, that he never allowed himself in any gross sin. No one was ever more ready to acknowledge sins of infirmity. Eliphaz had charged him with hypocrisy in religion, but he specifies prayer, the great act of religion, and professes that in this he was pure, though not from all infirmity. He had a God to go to, who he doubted not took full notice of all his sorrows. Those who pour out tears before God, though they cannot plead for themselves, by reason of their defects, have a Friend to plead for them, even the Son of man, and on him we must ground all our hopes of acceptance with God. To die, is to go the way whence we shall not return. We must all of us, very certainly, and very shortly, go this journey. Should not then the Saviour be precious to our souls? And ought we not to be ready to obey and to suffer for his sake? If our consciences are sprinkled with his atoning blood, and testify that we are not living in sin or hypocrisy, when we go the way whence we shall not return, it will be a release from prison, and an entrance into everlasting happiness.Oh that one might plead for a man - A more correct rendering of this would be, "Oh that it might be for a man to contend with God;" that is, in a judicial controversy. It is the expression of an earnest desire to carry his cause at once before God, and to be permitted to argue it there. This desire Job had often expressed; see Job 13:3, note; Job 13:18-22, notes. On the grammatical construction of the passage, see Rosenmuller.

As a man pleadeth for his neighbour - Hebrew "the son of man;" that is, the offspring of man. Or, rather, as a man contendeth with his neighbor; as one man may carry on a cause with another. He desired to carry his cause directly before God, and to be permitted to argue the case with him, as one is permitted to maintain an argument with a man; see the notes at Job 13:20-21.

21. one—rather, "He" (God). "Oh, that He would plead for a man (namely, me) against God." Job quaintly says, "God must support me against God; for He makes me to suffer, and He alone knows me to be innocent" [Umbreit]. So God helped Jacob in wrestling against Himself (compare Job 23:6; Ge 32:25). God in Jesus Christ does plead with God for man (Ro 8:26, 27).

as a man—literally, "the Son of man." A prefiguring of the advocacy of Jesus Christ—a boon longed for by Job (Job 9:33), though the spiritual pregnancy of his own words, designed for all ages, was but little understood by him (Ps 80:17).

for his neighbour—Hebrew, "friend." Job himself (Job 42:8) pleaded as intercessor for his "friends," though "his scorners" (Job 16:20); so Jesus Christ the Son of man (Lu 23:34); "for friends" (Joh 15:13-15).

Oh that either I or some faithful advocate might be admitted to plead any cause, either with God, or rather with you, before God’s tribunal, God being witness and judge between us! But this verse is, and that very agreeably to the Hebrew text, otherwise translated and interpreted; either,

1. With respect to Christ, And he (i.e. God, last mentioned, to wit, God the Son, Christ Jesus) will plead for a man (i.e. for me, against whom you plead.) He modestly speaketh of himself in the third person, as is usual)

with God (to wit, with God the Father; and the Son of man (as Christ is oft called) will plead for his friend, or companion, or neighbour, i.e. for a man whom he hath taken into that relation to himself. It is plain that the mystery of man’s redemption by Christ was known to the ancient patriarchs, as hath been oft noted before; and to Job among others, Job 19:25. Or,

2. As the matter for which he prayed and cried to God, That (so the Hebrew vau is frequently used) he (i.e. God) would plead, or judge, or give sentence for a man (i.e. for me, or in my cause) with, God, (i.e. with himself, the noun being put for the pronoun, as Genesis 2:20 4:15 Leviticus 14:15,16, and elsewhere; or at his own tribunal, to which I have appealed,)

as a man pleadeth for his friend or neighbour with or before an earthly judge and tribunal. This seems most agreeable to the scope of the place, which was to maintain his own integrity against his friends before God.

Oh that one might plead for a man with God,.... That is, that one might be appointed and allowed to plead with God on his account; or that he be admitted to plead with God for himself; or however, that there might be a hearing of his case before God, and that he would decide the thing in controversy between him and his friends, when he doubted not but it would be given on his side:

as a man pleadeth for his neighbour; using great freedom, and powerful arguments, and having no dread of the judge, nor fear of carrying the cause for his neighbour; so Job wishes, that either one for him, or he himself, might be freed from the dread of the divine Majesty, and might be suffered to speak as freely to his case as a counsellor at the bar does for his client. The words will admit of a more evangelic sense by observing that God, to whom Job says his eye poured out tears, at the close of Job 16:20, is to be understood of the second Person in the Godhead, Jehovah, the Son of God, the Messiah; and then read these words that follow thus, "and he will plead for a man with God, and the Son of man for his friend"; which last clause perhaps may be better rendered, "even the Son of man", &c. and so they are expressive of Job's faith, that though his friends despised him, yet he to whom he poured out his tears, and committed his case, would plead his cause with God for him, and thoroughly plead it, when he should be acquitted. The appellation, "the Son of man", is a well known name for the Messiah in the New Testament, and is not altogether unknown in the Old, see Psalm 80:17; and one part of his work and office is to be an advocate with the Father for his friends, whom he makes, reckons, and uses as such, even all the Father has given him, and he has redeemed by his blood; for these he pleads his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, to the satisfaction of the law, and justice of God, and against Satan, and all enemies whatever, and for every blessing they want; and for which work he is abundantly fit, because of the dignity of his person, his nearness to God his Father, and the interest he has in him. Gussetius (l) goes this way, and observes that this sense has not been taken notice of by interpreters, which he seems to wonder at; whereas our English annotator on the place had it long ago, and Mr. Caryll after him, though disapproved of by some modern interpreters.

(l) Ebr. Comment. p. 320, 321.

O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man {x} pleadeth for his neighbour!

(x) Thus by his great torments he is carried away, and breaks out into passions, and speaks unadvisedly, as though God would intreat man more gently, seeing he has only a short time here to live.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21.  That he would maintain the right of a man with God,

And of a son of man against his neighbour.

Verse 21. - Oh that one might plead for a man with God! The original here is obscure. It may mean, Oh that he (i.e. God himself) would plead for a man with God! i.e. would become a Mediator between himself and man, plead for him, undertake his defence, and obtain for him merciful consideration. Or, nearly as in the Authorized Version, Oh that one might plead for man (i.e. mankind at large) with God! interest him on their behalf, and obtain a merciful judgment for them. The former rendering is to be preferred. As a man pleadeth for his neighbour; literally, as a son of man (or, as the Son of man) pleadeth for his neighbour. If we take the simpler rendering, "as a son of man," then the meaning is simply, "Oh that God would plead for man with himself, as a man is wont to plead for his fellow-man!" But if we prefer the other rendering, "as the Son of man," a Messianic interpretation will be necessary. (So Professor Lee and Dr. Stanley Leathes) But Messianic interpretations of passages that do not require them, and that have no such traditional interpretation, require extreme caution. Job 16:2118 Oh earth, cover thou not my blood,

And let my cry find no resting-place!! -

19 Even now behold in heaven is my Witness,

And One who acknowledgeth me is in the heights!

20 Though the mockers of me are my friends -

To Eloah mine eyes pour forth tears,

21 That He may decide for man against Eloah,

And for the son of man against his friend.

22 For the years that may be numbered are coming on,

And I shall go a way without return.

Blood that is not covered up cries for vengeance, Ezekiel 24:7.; so also blood still unavenged is laid bare that it may find vengeance, Isaiah 26:21. According to this idea, in the lofty consciousness of his innocence, Job calls upon the earth not to suck in his blood as of one innocently slain, but to let it lie bare, thereby showing that it must be first of all avenged ere the earth can take it up;

(Note: As, according to the tradition, it is said to have been impossible to remove the stain of the blood of Zachariah the son of Jehoiada, who was murdered in the court of the temple, until it was removed by the destruction of the temple itself.)

and for his cry, i.e., the cry (זעקתי to be explained according to Genesis 4:10) proceeding from his blood as from his poured-out soul, he desires that it may urge its way unhindered and unstilled towards heaven without finding a place of rest (Symm. στάσις). Therefore, in the very God who appears to him to be a blood-thirsty enemy in pursuit of him, Job nevertheless hopes to find a witness of his innocence: He will acknowledge his blood, like that of Abel, to be the blood of an innocent man. It is an inward irresistible demand made by his faith which here brings together two opposite principles - principles which the understanding cannot unite - with bewildering boldness. Job believes that God will even finally avenge the blood which His wrath has shed, as blood that has been innocently shed. This faith, which sends forth beyond death itself the word of absolute command contained in Job 16:18, in Job 16:19 brightens and becomes a certain confidence, which draws from the future into the present that acknowledgment which God afterwards makes of him as innocent. The thought of what is unmerited in that decree of wrath which delivers him over to death, is here forced into the background, and in the front stands only the thought of the exaltation of the God in heaven above human short-sightedness, and the thought that no one else but He is the final refuge of the oppressed: even now (i.e., this side of death)

(Note: Comp. 1 Kings 14:14, where it is probably to be explained: Jehovah shall raise up for himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day, but what? even now (גם עתה), i.e., He hath raised him up ( equals but no, even now).)

continued...

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