Job 17:14
I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister.
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Job 17:14-15. I have said to corruption — Hebrew, קראתי, karati, I have called to corruption; to the grave, where the body will be dissolved and become corrupt. Thou art my father — I am near akin to thee, being formed out of thee, and thou wilt receive and embrace me, and keep me in thy house as parents do their children. To the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister — A near relation, being of the same origin, and because of the most strict and intimate union between us. And where is now my hope? — What then is become of that hope which you advised me to entertain?

As for my hope — Or the happiness which you would have me expect; who shall see it? — No man shall see it, it shall never be. The happiness I expect is out of sight, consisting in the enjoyment, not of things that are seen, which are temporal, but of those which are unseen, which are eternal.

17:10-16 Job's friends had pretended to comfort him with the hope of his return to a prosperous estate; he here shows that those do not go wisely about the work of comforting the afflicted, who fetch their comforts from the possibility of recovery in this world. It is our wisdom to comfort ourselves, and others, in distress, with that which will not fail; the promise of God, his love and grace, and a well-grounded hope of eternal life. See how Job reconciles himself to the grave. Let this make believers willing to die; it is but going to bed; they are weary, and it is time that they were in their beds. Why should not they go willingly when their Father calls them? Let us remember our bodies are allied to corruption, the worm and the dust; and let us seek for that lively hope which shall be fulfilled, when the hope of the wicked shall be put out in darkness; that when our bodies are in the grave, our souls may enjoy the rest reserved for the people of God.I have said - Margin, cried, or called. The sense is, "I say," or "I thus address the grave."

To corruption - The word used here (שׁחת shachath) means properly a pit, or pit-fall, Psalm 7:15; Psalm 9:15; a cistern, or a ditch, Job 9:31; or the sepulchre, or grave, Psalm 30:9; Job 33:18, Job 33:30. The Septuagint renders it here by θανάτον thanaton - death. Jerome (Vulgate), putredini dixi. According to Gesenius (Lex), the word never has the sense of corruption. Schultens, however, Rosenmuller, and others, understand it in the sense of corruption or putrefaction. This accords, certainly, with the other hemistich, and better constitutes a parallelism with the "worm" than the word "grave" would. It seems probable that this is the sense here; and if the proper meaning of the word is a pit, or the grave, it here denotes the grave, as containing a dead and moulderling body.

Thou art my father - "I am nearly allied to it. I sustain to it a relation like that of a child to a father." The idea seems to be that of family likeness; and the object is to present the most striking and impressive view of his sad and sorrowful condition. He was so diseased, so wretched, so full of sores and of corruption (see Job 7:5), that he might be said to be the child of one mouldering in the grave, and was kindred to a family in the tomb!

To the worm - The worm that feeds upon the dead. He belonged to that sad family where the body was putrifying, and where it was covered with worms; see the notes at Isaiah 14:11.

My mother - I am so nearly allied to the worms, that the connection may be compared to that between a mother and her son.

And my sister - "The sister here is mentioned rather than the brother, because the noun rendered worm in the Hebrew, is in the feminine gender." Rosenmuller. The sense of the whole is, that Job felt that he belonged to the grave. He was destined to corruption. He was soon to lie down with the dead. His acquaintance and kindred were there. So corrupt was his body, so afflicted and diseased, that he seemed to belong to the family of the putrifying, and of those covered with worms! What an impressive description; and yet how true is it of all! The most vigorous frame, the most beautiful and graceful form, the most brilliant complexion, has a near relationship to the worm, and will soon belong to the mouldering family beneath the ground! Christian reader! such are you; such am I. Well, let it be so. Let us not repine. Be the grave our home; be the mouldering people there our parents, and brothers, and sisters. Be our alliance with the worms. There is a brighter scene beyond - a world where we shall be kindred with the angels, and ranked among the sons of God. In that world we shall be clothed with immortal youth, and shall know corruption no more. Then our eyes will shine with undiminished brilliancy forever; our cheeks glow with immortal health; our hearts beat with the pulsations of eternal life. Then our hands shall be feeble and our knees totter with disease or age no more; and then the current of health and joy shall flow on through our veins forever and eye! Allied now to worms we are, but we are allied to the angels too; the grave is to be our home, but so also is heaven; the worm is our brother, but so also is the Son of God! Such is man; such are his prospects here, such his hopes and destiny in the world to come. He dies here, but he lives in glory and honor hereafter forever.

Shall man, O God of light and life,

For ever moulder in the grave?

Canst thou forget thy glorious work,

Thy promise and thy power to save?

Shall life revisit dying worms,

And spread the joyful insects' wing;

And O shall man awake no more,

To see thy face, thy name to sing?


14. Thou art my father, &c.—expressing most intimate connection (Pr 7:4). His diseased state made him closely akin to the grave and worm. To corruption, Heb. to the pit of corruption, the grave.

Thou art my father; I am near akin to time, as being taken out of thee; and thou wilt receive and embrace me, and keep me in thy house, as parents do their children.

Thou art my mother, and my sister; because of the same original, and the most strict and intimate union and conjunction between me and the worms.

I have said to corruption, thou art my father,.... Not to the corruptible seed, of which he was begotten; nor to the corruption or purulent matter of his boils and ulcers, and the worms his flesh was now clothed with, Job 7:5; but to that corruption his body would turn to in the grave, lying long enough to see it, which Christ's body did not, Psalm 16:10; that is, "to the pit of corruption" (c), as it may be rendered, meaning the grave, so called because in it dead bodies corrupt and putrefy: in houses are families consisting of various persons, of different relations, who dwell together in friendship and harmony, very lovingly and familiarly, as father and mother, brother and sister; so in the grave, the dwelling house of men, there are inhabitants that dwell together, as if they were familiar friends and acquaintance; and with these, Job claims kindred, such as corruption, rottenness, dust and worms, and these he speaks unto, not only very familiarly, but very respectfully; the note of Bar Tzemach is,

"I honour the grave as a son a father, that it may receive me quickly;''

yea, he speaks as not ashamed of the relation, but is fond of it; "I called" or "cried" (d) that is, aloud, with great vehemency and affection:

to the worm, thou art my mother and my sister; these are the rather mentioned, because the relation is near, and they are very loving and tender, and abide in the house, see Proverbs 7:4; he calls these his mother and sister, as the above Jewish commentator observes, because the might lie in their bosom; by all this Job would represent how familiar death and the grave were to him, and how little he dreaded them; yea, how desirable they were to him, since he should be at home, and among his relations and friends.

(c) "foveam", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Drusius, &c. (d) "vocavi", Montanus; "clamavi", Mercerus.

I have said to corruption, Thou art my {o} father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister.

(o) I have no more hope in father, mother, sister, or any worldly thing: for the dust and worms will be to me instead of them.

14. to corruption] Rather as above, the pit, or grave, Psalm 16:10. The words father, mother and sister, expressing the nearest relationship, indicate how closely Job now feels himself connected with the grave, he wholly belongs to it, and he greets it as taking the place of all related to him on earth.

Verse 14. - I have said to corruption, Thou art my father; i.e. I do not murmur; I accept my lot; I am ready to lie down with corruption, and embrace it, and call it "my father," and henceforth remain with it. The idea that the soul is still with the body in the grave, more or less closely attached to it, and sensible of its condition and changes, was widely prevalent in the ancient world. Where bodies were simply buried, the horrible imagination of a close association with corruption naturally and almost necessarily intruded itself, and led to such reflections as those of Job in this verse. It was partly to get rid of this terrible nightmare that the Egyptians were so careful to embalm the bodies of their dead, and that the Babylonians deposited them in baked clay coffins, which they filled with honey (Herod., 1:198); while others still more effectually prevented the process of corruption by cremation. The modern revival of cremation is remarkable as indicating a peculiar form of atavism or recurrence to ancient types. For many ages after the coming of Christ, men so separated between the soul and the body after death that the corruption of the grave had no horror for them. Now materialistic ideas have so far recurred, that many of those who believe the soul to live on after death are doubtful whether it may not still be attached to the body more or less, end, dreading contact with the corruption, of the latter, fall back upon the old remedy. To the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister. An expansion of the idea contained in the previous clause. Job 17:1413 If I hope, it is for Shel as my house,

In darkness I make my bed.

14 I cry to corruption: Thou art my father! -

To the worm: Thou art my mother and sister!

15 Where now therefore is my hope?

And my hope, who seeth it?

16 To the bars of Shel it descends,

When at the same time there is rest in the dust.

All modern expositors transl.: If I hope (wait) for Shel as my house, etc., since they regard Job 17:13. as a hypothetical antecedent clause to Job 17:15, consisting of four members, where the conclusion should begin with ואיּה, and should be indicated by Waw apodosis. There is no objection to this explanation so far as the syntax is concerned, but there will then be weighty thoughts which are also expressed in the form of fresh thoughts, for which independent clauses seem more appropriate, under the government of אם, as if they were presuppositions. The transition from the preceding strophe to this becomes also easier, if we take Job 17:13. as independent clauses from which, in Job 17:15, an inference is drawn, with Waw indicative of the train of thought (Ew. 348). Accordingly, we regard אם־אקוה in Job 17:13 as antecedent (denoted by Dech, i.e., Tiphcha anterius, just as Psalm 139:8) and ביתי שׁאול as conclusion; the Waw apod. is wanting, as e.g., Job 9:27., and the structure of the sentence is similar to Job 9:19. If I hope, says Job, "Shel is my house" equals this is the substance of my hope, that Shel will be my house. In darkness he has (i.e., in his consciousness, which anticipates that which is before him as near and inevitable) fixed his resting-place (poet. strata, as Psalm 132:3). To corruption and the worm he already cries, father! and, mother! sister! It is, as it seems, that bold figure which is indicated in the Job-like Psalm 88:19 ("my acquaintances are the realms of darkness"), which is here (comp. Job 30:29) worked out; and, differently applied, perhaps Proverbs 7:4 echoes it. Since the fem. רמּה is used as the object addressed by אמי and אחותי, which is besides, on account of its always collective meaning (in distinction from תילעת), well suited for this double apostrophe, we may assume that the poet will have used a masc. object for אבי; and there is really no reason against שׁחת here being, with Ramban, Rosenm., Schlottm., Bttcher (de inferis, 179), derived not from שׁוּח (as נחת, Job 17:16, from נוח), but from שׁחת (as נחת, Isaiah 30:30, from נחת), especially since the old versions transl. שׁחת also elsewhere διαφθορά (putredo), and thereby prove that both derivations accord with the structure of the language. Now already conscious of his belonging to corruption and the worm as by the closest ties of relationship, he asks: Itaque ubi tandem spes mea?

The accentuation connects אפו to the following word, instead of uniting it with איּה, just as in Isaiah 19:12; Luzzatto (on Isaiah 19:12) considers this as a mistake in the Codd., and certainly the accentuation Judges 9:38 (איה Kadma, אפוא Mercha) is not according to our model, and even in this passage another arrangement of the accents is found, e.g., in the edition of Brescia.

(Note: This accentuates ואיה with Munach, אפו with Munach, which accords with the matter, instead of which, according to Luzz., since the Athnach-word תקותי consists of three syllables, it should be more correctly accentuated ואיה with Munach, אפו with Dech. Both, also Munach Munach, are admissible; vid., Br, Thorath Emeth, S. 43, 7, comp. S. 71, not.)

No other hope, in Job's opinion, but speedy death is before him; no human eye is capable of seeing, i.e., of discovering (so e.g., Hahn), any other hope than just this. Somewhat differently Hirz. and others: and my hope, viz., of my recovery, who will it see in process of fulfilment? Certainly תקותי is in both instances equivalent to a hope which he dared to harbour; and the meaning is, that beside the one hope which he has, and which is a hope only per antiphrasin, there is no room for another hope; there is none such (Job 17:15), and no one will attain a sight of such, be it visible in the distance or experienced as near at hand (Job 17:15). The subj. of Job 17:16 is not the hope of recovery which the friends present to him (so e.g., Ew.), but his only real hope: this, avoiding human ken, descends to the lower world, for it is the hope of death, and consequently the death of hope. בּדּי signifies bars, bolts, which Hahn denies, although he says himself that בדים signifies beams of wood among other things; "bolts" is not here intended to imply such as are now used in locks, but the cross bars and beams of wood of any size that serve as a fastening to a door; vectis in exactly the same manner combines the meanings, a carrying-pole and a bar, in which signification בּד is the synon. of בּריח.

(Note: Accordingly we also explain Hosea 11:6 after Lamentations 2:9, and transl.: The sword moveth round in his (Ephraim's) cities, and destroyeth his (Ephraim's) bars (i.e., the bars of his gates), and devoureth round about, because of their counsels.)

The meanings assigned to the word, wastes (Schnurrer and others), bounds (Hahn), clefts (Bttch.), and the like, are fanciful and superfluous. On תּרדנה, instead of תּרד, vid., Caspari on Obad. Oba 1:13, Ges. 47, rem. 3. It is sing., not plur. (Bttch.), for Job 17:15 does not speak of two hopes, not even if, as it seems according to the ancient versions, another word of cognate meaning had stood in the place of the second תקותי originally. His hope goes down to the regions of the dead, when altogether there is rest in the dust. This "together, יחד," Hahn explains: to me and it, to this hope; but that would be pursuing the figure to an inadmissible length, extending far beyond Job 20:11, and must then be expressed יחד לנוּ. Others (e.g., Hirz., Ew.) explain: if at the same time, i.e., simultaneously with this descent of my hope, there is rest to me in the dust. Considering the use of יחד in itself, it might be explained: if altogether entirely there is rest in the dust; but this meaning integer, totus quantus, the word has elsewhere always in connection with a subj. or obj. to which it is referable, e.g., Job 10:8; Psalm 33:15; and, moreover, it may be rendered also in the like passages by "all together," as Job 3:18; Job 21:26; Job 40:13, instead of "altogether, entirely." Since, on the other hand, the signification "at the same time" can at least with probability be supported by Psalm 141:10, and since אם, which is certainly used temporally, brings contemporary things together, we prefer the translation: "when at the same time in the dust there is rest." The descent of his hope to the bars of Hades is at the same time his own, who hopes for nothing but this. When the death of his hope becomes a reality, then at the same time his turmoil of suffering will pass over to the rest of the grave.


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