Job 16:3
Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest?
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(3) Shall vain words have an end?—The English idiom rather requires, “Shall not vain words have an end? for if not, what emboldeneth or provoketh thee that thou answerest?” Eliphaz had contributed nothing to the discussion in his last reply; he had simply reiterated what had been said before.

Job 16:3. Shall vain words have an end? — When wilt thou put an end to these impertinent discourses? He retorts upon him his charge, Job 15:2-3. And what imboldeneth thee that thou answerest — Namely, in such a manner, so censoriously, opprobriously, and peremptorily. What secret grounds hast thou for thy confidence? Thy arguments are weak; if thou hast any stronger, produce them. It is a great piece of confidence to charge men, as Eliphaz did Job, with those crimes which we cannot prove upon them; to pass a judgment on men’s spiritual state, upon the view of their outward condition, and to re-advance those objections which have been again and again answered.

16:1-5 Eliphaz had represented Job's discourses as unprofitable, and nothing to the purpose; Job here gives his the same character. Those who pass censures, must expect to have them retorted; it is easy, it is endless, but what good does it do? Angry answers stir up men's passions, but never convince their judgments, nor set truth in a clear light. What Job says of his friends is true of all creatures, in comparison with God; one time or other we shall be made to see and own that miserable comforters are they all. When under convictions of sin, terrors of conscience, or the arrests of death, only the blessed Spirit can comfort effectually; all others, without him, do it miserably, and to no purpose. Whatever our brethren's sorrows are, we ought by sympathy to make them our own; they may soon be so.Shall vain words? - Margin, As in Hebrew words of wind; that is, words which were devoid of thought-light, trifling. This is a retort on Eliphaz. He had charged Job JObadiah 15:2-3 with uttering only such words. Such forms of expression are common in the East. "His promise, it is only wind." "Breath, breath: all breath." Roberts.

Or what emboldeneth thee? - "What provokes or irritates thee, that thou dost answer in this manner? What have I said, that has given occasion to such a speech - a speech so severe and unkind?" The Syriac reads this, "do not afflict me any more with speeches; for if you speak any more, I will not answer you."

3. "Words of wind," Hebrew. He retorts upon Eliphaz his reproach (Job 15:2).

emboldeneth—literally, "What wearies you so that ye contradict?" that is, What have I said to provoke you? &c. [Schuttens]. Or, as better accords with the first clause, "Wherefore do ye weary yourselves contradicting?" [Umbreit].

When wilt thou put an end to these idle and impertinent discourses? He retorts upon him his charge against Job, Job 15:2,3.

That thou answerest, to wit, so or in such manner, so censoriously, and opprobriously, and peremptorily. What secret grounds hast thou for thy confidence? Thy arguments are flashy and weak; if thou hast any stronger, produce them.

Shall vain words have an end?.... Or "words of wind" (k), vain empty words, great swelling words of vanity, mere bubbles that look big, and have nothing in them; here Job retorts what Eliphaz had insinuated concerning him and his words, Job 15:2; and he intimates such worthless discourses should have an end, and a speedy one, and not be carried on to any length, they not bearing it; and wishes they were at an end, that he might hear no more of them; and suggests that it was weak and foolish in them to continue them; that if they could speak to no better purpose, it would be best to be silent:

or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest? when men are engaged in a good cause, have truth on their side, and are furnished with arguments sufficient to defend it, this animates and emboldens them to stand up in the defence of it, and to answer their adversaries, and to reply when there is occasion; but Job could not imagine what should encourage and spirit up Eliphaz to answer again, when he had been sufficiently confuted; when his cause was bad, and he had no strong reasons to produce in the vindication of it; or "what has exasperated" or "provoked thee" (l) to make reply? here Job seems to have thought that he had said nothing that was irritating, though it is notorious he had, such were his grief and troubles; and so well assured he was of his being in the right, that the harsh and severe words and expressions he had used were not thought by him to have exceeded due bounds, such as Job 12:2.

(k) "verbis venti", Beza, Bolducius, Mercerus, Schmidt, Michaelis. (l) "quid exacerbat te", Junius & Tremellius; so Codureus, Schultens.

Shall {a} vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest?

(a) Which serve for vain ostentation and for no true comfort.

3. Shall vain words have an end] lit. is there any end to words of wind? To retort their charge of “windy knowledge” (ch. Job 15:2), Job cannot help fearing that there is no end to such empty harangues on their side, though he cannot imagine what provokes them to reply instead of letting the controversy drop, as he had long ago besought them (ch. Job 13:5). For emboldeneth provoketh is better.

Verse 3. - Shall vain words have an end? literally, as in the margin, words of wind; i.e. words which pass by a man "as the idle wind which he regards not." Will his friends never bring their futile speaking to a close? Or what emboldeneth thee that thou anwerest? rather, what provoketh thee? (Revised Version) Job had begged that his friends would be silent (Job 13:5, 13). He supposes that they would have complied with his wish if he had not provoked them, but professes an inability to see what provocation he had given. His last speech, however, had certainly not been conciliatory (see Job 12:1-3; Job 13:4, 7, etc.). Job 16:3 1 Then began Job, and said:

2 I have now heard such things in abundance,

Troublesome comforters are ye all!

3 Are windy words now at an end,

Or what goadeth thee that thou answerest?

4 I also would speak like you,

If only your soul were in my soul's stead.

I would weave words against you,

And shake my head at you;

5 I would encourage you with my mouth,

And the solace of my lips should soothe you.

The speech of Eliphaz, as of the other two, is meant to be comforting. It is, however, primarily an accusation; it wounds instead of soothing. Of this kind of speech, says Job, one has now heard רבּות, much, i.e., (in a pregnant sense) amply sufficient, although the word might signify elliptically (Psalm 106:43; comp. Nehemiah 9:28) many times (Jer. frequenter); multa (as Job 23:14) is, however, equally suitable, and therefore is to be preferred as the more natural. Job 16:2 shows how כּאלּה is intended; they are altogether עמל מנחמי, consolatores onerosi (Jer.), such as, instead of alleviating, only cause עמל, molestiam (comp. on Job 13:4). In Job 16:3 Job returns their reproach of being windy, i.e., one without any purpose and substance, which they brought against him, Job 15:2.: have windy words an end, or (לו vel equals אם in a disjunctive question, Ges. 155, 2, b) if not, what goads thee on to reply? מרץ has been already discussed on Job 6:25. The Targ. takes it in the sense of מלץ: what makes it sweet to thee, etc.; the Jewish interpreters give it, without any proof, the signification, to be strong; the lxx transl. παρενοχλήσει, which is not transparent. Hirz., Ew., Schlottm., and others, call in the help of the Arabic marida (Aramaic מרע), to be sick, the IV. form of which signifies "to make sick," not "to injure."

(Note: The primary meaning of Arabic marida (root mr, stringere) is maceratum esse, by pressing, rubbing, beating, to be tender, enervated (Germ. dialectic and popul. abmaracht); comp. the nearest related maratsa, then maraza, marasa, maraa, and further, the development of the meaning of morbus and μαλαακία; - originally and first, of bodily sickness, then also of diseased affections and conditions of spirit, as envy, hatred, malice, etc.; vid., Sur. 2, v. 9, and Beidhwi thereon. - Fl.)

We keep to the primary meaning, to pierce, penetrate; Hiph. to goad, bring out, lacessere: what incites thee, that (כי as Job 6:11, quod not quum) thou repliest again? The collective thought of what follows is not that he also, if they were in his place, could do as they have done; that he, however, would not so act (thus e.g., Blumenfeld: with reasons for comfort I would overwhelm you, and sympathizingly shake my head over you, etc.). This rendering is destroyed by the shaking of the head, which is never a gesture of pure compassion, but always of malignant joy, Sir. 12:18; or of mockery at another's fall, Isaiah 37:22; and misfortune, Psalm 22:8; Jeremiah 18:16; Matthew 27:39. Hence Merc. considers the antithesis to begin with Job 16:5, where, however, there is nothing to indicate it: minime id facerem, quin potius vos confirmarem ore meo - rather: that he also could display the same miserable consolation; he represents to them a change of their respective positions, in order that, as in a mirror, they may recognise the hatefulness of their conduct. The negative antecedent clause si essem (with לוּ, according to Ges. 155, 2, f) is surrounded by cohortatives, which (since the interrogative form of interpretation is inadmissible) signify not only loquerer, but loqui possem, or rather loqui vellem (comp. e.g., Psalm 51:18, dare vellem). When he says: I would range together, etc. (Carey: I would combine), he gives them to understand that their speeches are more artificial than natural, more declamations than the outgushings of the heart; instead of מלּים, it is בּמלּים, since the object of the action is thought is as the means, as in Job 16:4 ראשׁי במּו, capite meo (for caput meum, Psalm 22:8), and בּפיהם, Job 16:10, for פּיּהם, comp. Jeremiah 18:16; Lamentations 1:17, Ges. 138† ; Ew. takes חהביר by comparison of the Arabic chbr, to know (the IV. form of which, achbara, however, signifies to cause to know, announce), in a sense that belongs neither to the Heb. nor to the Arab.: to affect wisdom. In Job 16:5 the chief stress is upon "with my mouth," without the heart being there, so also on the word "my lips," solace (ניד ἅπ. λεγ., recalling Isaiah 57:19, ניב שׂפתים, offspring or fruit of the lips) of my lips, i.e., dwelling only on the lips, and not coming from the heart. In ''אאמּצכם (Piel, not Hiph.) the Ssere is shortened to Chirek (Ges. 60, rem. 4). According to Job 16:6, כאבכם is to be supplied to יחשׂך. He also could offer such superficial condolence without the sympathy which places itself in the condition and mood of the sufferer, and desires to afford that relief which it cannot. And yet how urgently did he need right and effectual consolation! He is not able to console himself, as the next strophe says: neither by words nor by silence is his pain assuaged.

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