Job 16:22
When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return.
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(22) When a few years are come.—Literally, years of number, which means either “years than can be easily numbered,” as men of number (Genesis 34:20) is used to express few men; or “years that are numbered,” that is, allotted, determined. It is strange to find Job speaking, in his condition, of years, but so, for that matter, is it to find a man so sorely tormented as he was indulging in so long an argument. Perhaps this shows us that the narrative of Job is intended to be an ideal only, setting forth the low estate of sin-stricken humanity: this is only thrown out as a suggestion, no weight is assigned to it more than it may chance to claim. Perhaps, however, these words are spoken by Job in contemplation of his condition as a dying man, even had he not been so afflicted.

Job 16:22. When a few years are come — The number of years which is determined and appointed to me; then I shall go the way whence I shall not return — Namely, to the state and place of the dead, whence men cannot return to this life. The meaning is, my death hastens, and therefore I earnestly desire that the cause depending between me and my friends may be determined, that if I be guilty of these things, I may bear the shame of it before all men; and, if I be innocent, that I may see my own integrity and the credit of religion (which suffers upon this occasion) vindicated, that so I may die in peace with God, and may leave the savour of a good name behind me. Observe, reader, to die is to go the way whence we shall not return. It is to go a journey, a long journey, a journey for good and all; to remove from this to another country, from the world of sense to the world of spirits! It is a journey to our long home; there will be no coming back to our state in this world, nor any change of our state in the other world. We must all of us very certainly, and very shortly, go this journey; and it is comfortable to those who keep a good conscience to think of it; for it is the crown of their integrity.

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.When a few years are come - Margin "years of number;" that is, numbered years, or a few years. The same idea is expressed in Job 7:21; see the notes at that place. The idea is, that he must soon die. He desired, therefore, before he went down to the grave, to carry his cause before God, and to have, as he did not doubt he should have, the divine attestation in his favor; compare the notes at Job 19:25-27. Now he was overwhelmed with calamities and reproaches, and was about to die in this condition. He did not wish to die thus. He wished that the reproaches might be wiped off, and that his character might be cleared up and made fair. He believed assuredly that if he could be permitted to carry his cause directly before God, he might be able to vindicate his character, and to obtain the divine verdict in his favor; and if he obtained that, he was not unwilling to die. It is the expression of such a wish as every man has, that his sun may not go down under a cloud; that whatever aspersions may rest on his character may be wiped away; and that his name, if remembered at all when he is dead, may go untarnished down to future times, and be such that his friends may repeat it without a blush. 22. few—literally, "years of number," that is, few, opposed to numberless (Ge 34:30). i.e. To the state and place of the dead, whence men do not and cannot return to this life. The meaning is, My death hastens, and therefore I earnestly desire that the cause depending before God between me and my friends may be searched out and determined, that if I be guilty of these things whereof they accuse me, I may bear the shame and blame of it before all men; and if I be innocent, that I may live to see my own integrity and the credit of religion (which suffers upon this occasion) vindicated, that so I may die in peace with God, and may leave the savour of a good name behind me.

When a few years are come,.... As the years of man's life are but few at most, and Job's years, which were yet to come, still fewer in his apprehension; or "years of number" (m), that are numbered by God, fixed and determined by him, Job 14:5; or being few are easily numbered:

then I shall go the way whence I shall not return; that is, go the way of all flesh, a long journey; death itself is meant, which is a going out of this world into another, from whence there is no return to this again, to the same place, condition, circumstances, estate, and employment as now; otherwise there will be a resurrection from the dead, the bodies will rise out of the earth, and souls will be brought again to be united with them, but not to be in the same situation here as now: this Job observes either as a kind of solace to him under all his afflictions on himself, and from his friends, that in a little time it would be all over with him; or as an argument to hasten the pleading of his cause, that his innocence might be cleared before he died; and if this was not done quickly, it would be too late.

(m) "anni numeri", Montanus, Vatablus, Bolducius; "numbered days", Broughton; so Tigurine version.

When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return.
22. It is doubtful whether Job means by “a few years” his whole life, or the years that are still to run of it. The last sense is fairest to the language. His disease though mortal was not immediately fatal; but at least his days were consumed “without hope.”

22–17:2. What Job sought with tears was that God would cause his innocence to be acknowledged by God, and made manifest against men. Now he adds words in support of his prayer, or gives the reason for it. He so prays, for here in this life he has no hope of restoration. God’s anger will pursue him to the grave, which is already his portion.

  16:22.  For a few years shall come,

And I shall go the way whence I shall not return!

  17:1.  My spirit is spent,

My days are extinct.

The grave is ready for me!

  17:2.  Surely mockeries encompass me,

And mine eye must dwell on their provocation!

Verse 22. - When a few years are come; literally, a number of years, which generally means a small number. I shall go the way whence I shall not return. This verse would more fitly begin the following chapter, which opens in a similar strain, with an anticipation of the near approach of death

Job 16:2218 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).)


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