Job 16:5
But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief.
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Job 16:5. But I would strengthen you with my mouth — I would endeavour to direct, support, and comfort you, and say all I could to assuage your grief, but nothing to aggravate it. It is natural to sufferers to think what they would do if the tables were turned; but, perhaps, our hearts may deceive us; we know not what we would do; we find it easier to discern the reasonableness and importance of a command, when we have occasion to claim the benefit of it, than when we have occasion to do the duty of it. We ought, however, to say and do all we can to strengthen our brethren in affliction, suggesting to them such considerations as are proper to encourage their confidence in God, and to support their sinking spirits. Faith and patience, we should remember, are the strength of the afflicted, and what helps these graces, confirms the feeble knees. The reader will observe, there is nothing in the Hebrew for the words your grief, in the latter clause of this verse, which are therefore printed in Italic letters. Our translators supposed that there is an ellipsis in the Hebrew text, and that these, or some words of the same import, were necessary to complete the sense. But the word, ניד, nid, here rendered moving, (being derived from נוד, nud, which sometimes means to condole,) may be translated, compassion, and then, without supposing any defect in the text, the sense of the clause will be, Compassion should restrain, or, govern my lips; namely, that they should avoid all speeches which might vex you, and speak only what might be to your comfort and benefit; whereas you let your tongues loose to speak whatsoever pleaseth you, although it does not profit, but only torment me. Chappelow proposes yet another version of the words, which he thinks the true one, namely, I could be stronger than you with my mouth; but he [God] restrains the motion of my lips.

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.(But I would strengthen you with my mouth With that which proceeds from the mouth - words.

And the moving of my lips - My speaking - implying that it would have been done in a mild, gentle, kind manner - so that the lips would appear just to move. Others, however, have given a different interpretation. Thus, Dr. Good renders it:

"With my own mouth will I overpower you,

Till the quivering of my lips shall fall."

But the common interpretation is to be preferred. The word rendered "moving" ניד nı̂yd is from נוּד nûd - "to move," "agitate," and hence, denotes "motion." It denotes here the motion of the lips when we speak. Gesenius renders it, "consolation," "comfort" - because this is expressed by a motion of the head.

Should assuage your grief - The word used here (יחשׂך yachâśak) means properly "to hold back," "to restrain;" Job 7:11. Here it is correctly rendered, meaning that he would hold back, or check their sorrows. In other words, he would sustain them.

5. strengthen … with … mouth—bitter irony. In allusion to Eliphaz' boasted "consolations" (Job 15:11). Opposed to strengthening with the heart, that is, with real consolation. Translate, "I also (like you) could strengthen with the mouth," that is, with heartless talk: "And the moving of my lips (mere lip comfort) could console (in the same fashion as you do)" [Umbreit]. "Hearty counsel" (Pr 27:9) is the opposite. Strengthen you, i.e. direct, and support, and comfort you. My discourse should comfort you. The words your grief are here understood, either out of the foregoing clause, where they are implied; or out of the next verse, where they are expressed. Possibly the words may be thus rendered without any ellipsis, which is most natural, if the translation be true and suitable: compassion (for the Hebrew word nid comes from nud, which signifies to condole) should restrain or govern my lips, that they should avoid all speeches which may vex you, and speak only what may be to your comfort and benefit; whereas you let your tongues loose to speak whatsoever pleaseth you, or tormenteth me.

But I would strengthen you with my mouth,.... Comfort them with the words of his mouth; so God strengthens his people with strength in their souls, when he answers them with good and comfortable words; an angel strengthened Christ as man when in an agony, comforting him, suggesting comfortable things to him; so one saint may strengthen and comfort another when in distress, whether of soul or body; see Psalm 138:3; and thus Job had strengthened and comforted others, with his words in former times, as Eliphaz himself owns, Job 4:3 and so he would again, were there a change in his circumstances, and objects presented:

and the moving of my lips should assuage your grief: words uttered by him, which are done by the moving of the lips, should be such as would have a tendency to allay grief, to stop, restrain, forbid, and lessen sorrow; at least that it might not break out in an extravagant way, and exceed bounds, and that his friends might not be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

But I would strengthen you {e} with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief.

(e) If this were in my power, yet I would comfort you and not do as you do to me.

5. The verse no doubt carries on the idea of the preceding:

I could strengthen you with my mouth,

And the condolence of my lips could assuage your grief.

The emphasis falls on mouth and lips. Job could give them lip-comfort enough, pour out abundance of words in which lay no power to uphold the heart as they did not proceed from the heart. “Condolence” as ch. Job 2:11.

Verse 5. - But I would strengthen you with my mouth. The meaning is somewhat doubtful, and different renderings have been proposed. But the rendering of the Authorized Version is quite defensible, and is accepted by our Revisers. This gives the sense, "I, if I were in your place, would not act as you have acted, but, on the contrary, would do my best to strengthen you with words of comfort and encouragement." The moving of my lips should assuage your grief. (So Rosenmuller and our Revisers.) The words are a covert reproach of the three "friends" for not acting as Job declares that he would have acted if the positions had been reversed. Job 16:5 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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