Job 17:6
He hath made me also a byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) He (i.e., God) hath made me also a byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret.—Or, I am become as a tabret, or drum openly, i.e., a signal of warning. “My case will be fraught with warning for others.” But some render it, “I am become an open abhorrence, or one in whose face they spit.” The general meaning is perfectly clear, though the way it may be expressed varies.

Job 17:6. He — That is, God, who is generally designed by this pronoun in this book; hath made me also a by-word of the people — Or, a proverb, or subject of common talk. My miseries are so great and unprecedented that they fill all people with discourse, and are become proverbial to express extreme misery. And, or rather, but, or although, aforetime I was as a tabret — That is, I was the people’s delight and darling, the matter of their praise, and received by them with applauses, and, as it were, with instruments of music. Thus he aggravates his present misery by the mention of his former prosperity.

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.He hath also - That is, God has done this.

Also a by-word - A proverb (משׁל mâshâl); a term of reproach, ridicule, or scorn. lie has exposed me to derision.

And aforetime - Margin "before them." The margin is the correct translation of the Hebrew, פנים pânı̂ym. It means, in their presence, or in their view.

I was as a tabret - This is an unhappy translation. The true meaning is," I am become their "abhorrence," or am to them an object of contempt." Vulgate, "I am an exampie ("exemplum") to them." Septuagint, "I am become a laughter (γέλως gelōs) to them." The Chaldee renders it, "Thou hast placed me for a proverb to the people, and I shall be Gehenna (גיהנם gayhı̂nnôm) to them." The Hebrew word תפת tôpheth - or "Tophet," is the name which is often given in the Scriptures to the valley of Hinnom - the place where children were sacrificed to Moloch; see the notes at Matthew 5:22. But there is no evidence or probability that the word was so used in the time of Job. It is never used in the Scriptures in the sense of a "tabret," that is a tabor or small drum; though the word תף toph is thus used; see the notes at Isaiah 5:12. The word used here is derived, probably, from the obsolete verb תיף typ - "to spit out;" and then to spit out with contempt. The verb is so used in Chaldee. "Castell." The meaning of the word probably still lives in the Arabic, The Arabic word means to spit out with contempt; and the various forms of the nouns derived from the verb are applied to anything detested, or detestable; to the parings of the nails; to an abandoned woman; to a dog, etc. See "Castell" on this word. I have no doubt that is the sense here, and that we have here a word whose true signification is to be sought in the Arabic; and that Job means to say that he was treated as the most loathsome and execrable object.

6. He—God. The poet reverentially suppresses the name of God when speaking of calamities inflicted.

by-word—(De 28:37; Ps 69:11). My awful punishment makes my name execrated everywhere, as if I must have been superlatively bad to have earned it.

aforetime … tabret—as David was honored (1Sa 18:6). Rather from a different Hebrew root, "I am treated to my face as an object of disgust," literally, "an object to be spit upon in the face" (Nu 12:14). So Raca means (Mt 5:22) [Umbreit].

He, i.e. God, who is oft designed by this pronoun in this book.

A by-word, or proverb, or common talk. My calamities are so great and prodigious, that they fill all people with discourse, and are become proverbial to express extreme miseries. Compare Numbers 21:27,28 Deu 28:37.

And, or but, or although, as this particle is oft used.

Aforetime; so he aggravateth his present misery by the mention of his former prosperity. Or, to their faces, or openly. They do not only reproach me behind my back, but revile and mock me, and make a sport of my calamities, even to my face. I was as a tabret, i.e. I was the people’s delight and darling, and matter of their praise, and entertained by them with applauses, and as it were with instruments of music. Or,

I am as a tabret, i.e. matter of sport and merriment to them.

He hath made me also a byword of the people,.... Either Eliphaz, or God; for whatsoever befell him, whether more immediately by the hand of God, or by any instrument, the ascribes it to him, as being suffered in Providence to befall him; as when he became a byword or proverb to the people in common, to whom an example might be set by one or more of Job's friends. The name of Job is to this day a byword or proverb among men, both for his poverty and his patience; if a man is described as very poor, he is said to be as poor as Job; or if very patient under his afflictions, he is said to be as patient as Job; but as neither of these are to the disgrace of Job, something else seems rather intended here, even something to his reproach; as when a man was represented as a very wicked man, or an hypocrite, it used to be said, such an one is as wicked a creature, and as arrant an hypocrite, as Job:

and aforetime I was as a tabret; the delight of the people, who, when he appeared in the public streets, came out and went before him, singing, and dancing, and beating on tabrets, and such like musical instruments, to express their joy upon the sight of him; but now it was otherwise with him, and he whom they could not sufficiently extol and commend, now knew not well what to say bad enough of him; such a change in the sentiments and conduct of men must needs be very chagrining: or "aforetime I was as a lord", as Ben Gersom, from the use of the word in Daniel 3:2; as he supposes; he was like a lord or nobleman, or as one in some high office, and now as the offscouring of all things; or it denotes what he was "before them", the people, in their sight at present, and should be: the word used is "Tophet", which Aben Ezra takes to be the name of a place, and as it seems of that place where children were offered to Moloch, and which place was in being, and such practices used by the Canaanites in the times of Job; and this place, which was also called the valley of Hinnom, being afterwards used for hell, led the Targum to paraphrase the words thus, "and hell from within shall I be"; and so Sephorno, in appearance hell to all that see me; and in general it may signify that he was, or should be, avoided, as any unclean place, very ungrateful and disagreeable, as that place was; or as anything abominable, and to be loathed and rejected, and this way go several interpreters (s); though some think respect is had to the punishment of tympanization, in which sufferers were beaten upon in several parts of their bodies, as if men were beating upon a tabret or drum, which gave great pain and torment, see Hebrews 11:35; and with such like cruelty and indignity Job suggests he was or should be used; and therefore begs for a surety, for one to interpose and plead on his behalf; let the carriage of men to him be what it will, that is here referred to; compare with this Psalm 69:11.

(s) Schmidt, Michaelis, Schultens.

He hath made me also a {g} byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret.

(g) God has made all the world speak of me, because of my afflictions.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. This verse reads,

I am made also a byeword or the peoples,

And am become one to be spit on in the face.

The words, I am made might mean, as A.V., He hath made me, the reference being to God. Undoubtedly Job turns away here from men and refers to a broader evil, the inexplicable course of the world in God’s hand. But probably the allusion to God is made in this indirect way. By the “peoples” Job means mankind in its various tribes, for his calamity and the wickedness that was inferred from it would be widely known. Comp. what is said by Job of his treatment by the debased races of men about him, ch. Job 30:9 seq.; and see a similar statement in Bildad’s reply, ch. Job 18:20.

aforetime I was as a tabret] Rather as above; lit. I am (must be) a spitting-in-the-face. A tabret is a timbrel or tambourine (comp. tabering, i. e. beating, upon their breasts, Nahum 2:7); the Heb. word topheth (spitting) has been wrongly assumed by the A.V. to be of the same meaning as toph (timbrel).

Verse 6. - He hath made me also a byword of the people. God, by the unprecedented character of his afflictions, has made Job a byword among the surrounding nations - a byword, that is, for an afflicted person. Job, by the manner in which he bore his afflictions, made himself a byword for patience and endurance among God's people throughout all ages (see James 5:11). And aforetime I was as a tabret; rather, I am become an abomination before them; or, as our Revisers translate, 1 am become an open abhorring (comp. Job 30:10). Job 17:6 6 And He hath made me a proverb to the world,

And I became as one in whose face they spit.

7 Then mine eye became dim with grief,

And all my members were like a shadow.

8 The upright were astonished at it,

And the innocent is stirred up over the godless;

9 Nevertheless the righteous holdeth fast on his way,

And he that hath clean hands waxeth stronger and stronger.

Without a question, the subj. of Job 17:6 is God. It is the same thing whether משׁל is taken as inf. followed by the subject in the nominative (Ges. 133, 2), or as a subst. (lxx θρύλλημα; Aq., Symm., Theod., παραβολήν), like שׂחוק, Job 12:4, followed by the gen. subjectivus. משׁל is the usual word for ridicule, expressed in parables of a satirical character, e.g., Joel 2:17 (according to which, if משׁל were intended as inf., משׁל־בּי עמּים might have been expected); עמּים signifies both nations and races, and tribes or people, i.e., members of this and that nation, or in gen. of mankind (Job 12:2). We have intentionally chosen an ambiguous expression in the translation, for what Job says can be meant of a wide range of people (comp. on Job 2:11 ad fin.), as well as of those in the immediate neighbourhood; the friends themselves represent different tribes; and a perishable gipsy-like troglodyte race, to whom Job is become a derision, is specially described further on (Job 24, 30).

Job 17:6

By תּפת (translated by Jer. exemplum, and consequently mistaken for מופת) the older expositors are reminded of the name of the place where the sacrifices were offered to Moloch in the valley of the sons of Hinnom (whence גּיהנּם, γέεννα, hell), since they explain it by "the fire of hell," but only from want of a right perception; the לפנים standing with it, which nowhere signifies palam, and cannot here (where אהיה, although in the signification ἐγενόμην, follows) signify a multo tempore, shows that תפת here is to be derived from תּוּף, to spit out (as נפת, gum, from נוּף). This verb certainly cannot be supported in Hebr. and Aram. (since רקק is the commoner word), except two passages in the Talmud (Nidda 42a, comp. Sabbath 99b, and Chethuboth 61b); but it is confirmed by the Aethiopic and Coptic and an onomatopoetic origin, as the words πτύειν, ψύειν, spuere, Germ. speien, etc., show.

(Note: תוף is related to the Sanskrit root shttı̂v, as τέγη, τρύχους, τρύζω, and the like, to στέγη, στρύχνος, στρύζω,, vid., Kuhn's Zeitschrift, Bd. iv. Abh. i.((the falling away of s before mutes).)

Cognate is the Arabic taffafa, to treat with contempt, and the interjection tuffan, fie upon thee,

(Note: Almost all modern expositors repeat the remark here, that this tuffan is similar in meaning to ῥακά, Matthew 5:22, while they might learn from Lightfoot that it has nothing to do with רק, to spit, but is equivalent to ריקא, κενέ.)

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