Job 17:1
My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XVII.

(1) My breath is corrupt.—As it is said to be in Elephantiasis. Some understand it, “My spirit is consumed.” (See margin.)

The graves.i.e., the grave is minemy portion. The plural is frequently used for the singular in Hebrew, as, e.g., in the case of the word blood, which is commonly plural, though with us it is never so used.

Job 17:1. My breath is corrupt — Is offensive to those around me, through my disease. But, as the word חבלה, chubbalah, here rendered corrupt, may signify bound, straitened, or distressed with pain, as a woman in travail, Chappelow thinks the phrase had better be rendered: Spiritus meus constringitur, vel, cum dolore emititur; that is, I have such an oppression, that I can hardly breathe. The reading of the margin, however, is not to be overlooked, My spirit is spent, or lost, that is, my vital spirits and animal powers are wasted; my soul is ready to leave the body: I am a gone man. My days are extinct — The lamp of my life is far spent, and upon the point of going out. The graves are ready for me — That is, the grave; the plural number being put for the singular. Or, he speaks of the sepulchres of his fathers, to which he was to be gathered. Sol. Jarchi’s comment is, “I am ready for the grave.” The text is only קברים לי, kebarim li, sepulchra mihi: The grave for me, or, I have the grave. Any addition seems to spoil that elegancy of expression which consists in a sudden, quick turn of thought; as if Job had said, My breath is gone; my days extinct; I have a grave. Thus the Vulgate, Solum mihi superest sepulchrum, The grave only remains for me. Wherever we go there is but a step between us and the grave. The sepulchres where our fathers are laid are ready for us also. Whatever is unready, the grave is ready. It is a bed soon made. And, if the grave be ready for us, it concerns us to be ready for the grave.17:1-9 Job reflects upon the harsh censures his friends had passed upon him, and, looking on himself as a dying man, he appeals to God. Our time is ending. It concerns us carefully to redeem the days of time, and to spend them in getting ready for eternity. We see the good use the righteous should make of Job's afflictions from God, from enemies, and from friends. Instead of being discouraged in the service of God, by the hard usage this faithful servant of God met with, they should be made bold to proceed and persevere therein. Those who keep their eye upon heaven as their end, will keep their feet in the paths of religion as their way, whatever difficulties and discouragements they may meet with.My breath is corrupt - Margin or "spirit is spent." The idea is, that his vital powers were nearly extinct; his breath failed; his power was weakened, and he was ready to die. This is connected with the previous chapter, and should not have been separated from it. There was no necessity of making a new chapter here, and we have one of those unfortunate breaks in the middle of a paragraph, and almost of a sentence, which are too common in the Scriptures.

The graves are ready for me - The Hebrew is plural, but why so used I know not. The Vulgate is singular - sepulchrum. The Septuagint renders it, "I pray for a tomb (singular, ταφῆς taphēs), but I cannot obtain it." Possibly the meaning is, "I am about to be united "to the graves," or "to tombs."" Schultens remarks that the plural form is common in Arabic poetry, as well as in poetry in general.

CHAPTER 17

Job 17:1-16. Job's Answer Continued.

1. breath … corrupt—result of elephantiasis. But Umbreit, "my strength (spirit) is spent."

extinct—Life is compared to an expiring light. "The light of my day is extinguished."

graves—plural, to heighten the force.His miserable life; false friends; their punishment, Job 17:1-5. His contempt, and sorrow, Job 17:6,7. The righteous should be established, Job 17:8,9; but he was given over to death, Job 17:11-16.

My breath is corrupt, i.e. it stinks, as it doth in dying persons. Or, my spirit is corrupted, or spent, or lost, i.e. my vital spirits and natural powers are wasted; my soul is ready to leave the body.

My days are extinct; the lamp of my life is wasted, and upon the point of going out, and that in a snuff.

The graves, i.e. the grave; the plural number being put for the singular, as sepulchres, 2 Chronicles 21:20, cities, Judges 12:7, asses, Zechariah 9:9, are put for one of each of these.

Are ready for me; open their mouths as ready to receive me. The sense and scope of this verse is the same with the former.

My breath is corrupt,.... Through the force of his disease, which made it have an ill smell, so that it was strange and disagreeable to his wife, Job 19:17; passing through his lungs, or other parts, which were affected with some disorder, or as frequently is the case of dying persons, and so Job thought himself to be. The word (n) used has the signification of pain, even of the pains of a woman in travail; and so may signify, that Job drew his breath with great pain, as people troubled with an asthma do, or dying persons in the hiccups, or just fetching their last breath; or "my spirit" (o), as it may be rendered, that is, his vital spirits which were exhausted and spent, there were scarce any left in him; or "my mind" (p), or soul, which was overwhelmed with grief, and so disturbed, that he was not himself, but in a manner distracted with the terrors of God, and the severity of his hand upon him:

my days are extinct; here Job corrects himself; he had spoken of a few years before, but it is as if he should say now, why do I talk of a few years, when I have but a few days to live, and even those are as good as gone? meaning not only his days of prosperity, which were at an entire end, as he thought, but the days of his natural life; the lamp of life was almost burnt out, the oil was spent, the wick was just extinguished, it was like the snuff of a candle going out:

the graves are ready for me; the place of his fathers' sepulchres, the burial place of his ancestors, where many graves were; or he may have respect to various things into which the dead are put, as into so many graves; as besides their being rolled up in linen, as was the way of the eastern countries, there was the coffin, a sort of a grave, and which sometimes was made of stone; and then the place dug in the earth, more properly called the grave, and often over that a sepulchral monument was erected; so that there was grave upon grave. Job does not seem to have any respect to the usage of kings, and great personages, preparing stately monuments for themselves while living, such as the pyramids of Egypt, built by and for their kings, as is supposed; for the words "are ready" are not in the text, only supplied, though they are also by the Targum; they are very short and significant in the original text, "the graves for me", or they are mine; the grave is my property, my house, where I expect shortly to be, and there to abide and dwell until the resurrection, and which was desirable to him; "a grave to me"; that is all that I desire, or can expect; here he wished to be, as he did not doubt he quickly should be; and it is as if he should say, I am ready for that, and so Jarchi paraphrases it; and happy is the man that is ready for the grave, for death, and eternity, for the coming of his Lord, having the grace of God wrought in him, and the righteousness of his living Redeemer on him, which was Job's case; such an one shall go into the nuptial chamber at once, and be received into everlasting habitations.

(n) Pineda. (o) "spiritus meus", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, &c. (p) "Anima mea", Piscator, Schmidt.

My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. my breath] Rather as margin, my spirit is spent, i. e. consumed. The “spirit” is the principle of life.

the graves are ready for me] lit. graves are mine; the meaning being: the grave is my portion; cf. Job 17:13 seq. Coverdale: I am harde at deathes dore.Verses 1-16. - The general character of this chapter has been considered in the introductory section to ch. 16. It is occupied mainly with Job's complaints of his treatment by his friends, and his lamentations over his sufferings (vers. 1-12). At the end he appeals to the grave, as the only hope or comfort left to him (vers. 13-16). Verse 1. - My breath is corrupt; or, my spirit is oppressed. But the physical meaning is the more probable one. A fetid breath is one of the surest signs of approaching dissolution. My days are extinct; or, cut off. The verb used does not occur elsewhere. The graves are ready for me; or, the chambers of the grave are mine already. The plural form is best explained by regarding it as referring to the niches commonly cut in a sepulchral chamber to receive the bodies of the departed (see Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible,' vol. 3. pp. 1528-1536). The construction of the Chethib is like 1 Samuel 4:15, of the Keri on the other hand like Lamentations 1:20; Lamentations 2:11 (where the same is said of מעי, viscera mea); חמרמר is a passive intensive form (Ges. 55, 3), not in the signification: they are completely kindled (lxx συγκέκανται, Jer. intumuit, from the חמר, Arab. chmr, which signifies to ferment), but: they are red all over (from חמר, Arab. ḥmr, whence the Alhambra, as a red building, takes its name), reddened, i.e., from weeping; and this has so weakened them, that the shadow of death (vid., on Job 10:21.) seems to rest upon his eyelids; they are therefore sad even to the deepest gloom. Thus exceedingly miserable is his state and appearance, although he is no disguised hypocrite, who might need to do penance in sackcloth and ashes, and shed tears of penitence without any solace. Hirz. explains על as a preposition: by the absence of evil in my hands; but Job 16:17 and Job 16:17 are substantival clauses, and על is therefore just, like Isaiah 53:9, a conjunction ( equals על־אשׁר). His hands are clean from wrong-doing, free from violence and oppression; his prayer is pure, pura; as Merc. observes, ex puritate cordis et fidei. From the feeling of the strong contrast between his piety and his being stigmatized as an evil-doer by such terrible suffering, - from this extreme contrast which has risen now to its highest in his consciousness of patient endurance of suffering, the lofty thoughts of the next strophe take their rise.
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