Job 17:6
He has made me also a byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret.
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(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.

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). 18 Oh earth, cover thou not my blood,

And let my cry find no resting-place!! -

19 Even now behold in heaven is my Witness,

And One who acknowledgeth me is in the heights!

20 Though the mockers of me are my friends -

To Eloah mine eyes pour forth tears,

21 That He may decide for man against Eloah,

And for the son of man against his friend.

22 For the years that may be numbered are coming on,

And I shall go a way without return.

Blood that is not covered up cries for vengeance, Ezekiel 24:7.; so also blood still unavenged is laid bare that it may find vengeance, Isaiah 26:21. According to this idea, in the lofty consciousness of his innocence, Job calls upon the earth not to suck in his blood as of one innocently slain, but to let it lie bare, thereby showing that it must be first of all avenged ere the earth can take it up;

(Note: As, according to the tradition, it is said to have been impossible to remove the stain of the blood of Zachariah the son of Jehoiada, who was murdered in the court of the temple, until it was removed by the destruction of the temple itself.)

and for his cry, i.e., the cry (זעקתי to be explained according to Genesis 4:10) proceeding from his blood as from his poured-out soul, he desires that it may urge its way unhindered and unstilled towards heaven without finding a place of rest (Symm. στάσις). Therefore, in the very God who appears to him to be a blood-thirsty enemy in pursuit of him, Job nevertheless hopes to find a witness of his innocence: He will acknowledge his blood, like that of Abel, to be the blood of an innocent man. It is an inward irresistible demand made by his faith which here brings together two opposite principles - principles which the understanding cannot unite - with bewildering boldness. Job believes that God will even finally avenge the blood which His wrath has shed, as blood that has been innocently shed. This faith, which sends forth beyond death itself the word of absolute command contained in Job 16:18, in Job 16:19 brightens and becomes a certain confidence, which draws from the future into the present that acknowledgment which God afterwards makes of him as innocent. The thought of what is unmerited in that decree of wrath which delivers him over to death, is here forced into the background, and in the front stands only the thought of the exaltation of the God in heaven above human short-sightedness, and the thought that no one else but He is the final refuge of the oppressed: even now (i.e., this side of death)

(Note: Comp. 1 Kings 14:14, where it is probably to be explained: Jehovah shall raise up for himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day, but what? even now (גם עתה), i.e., He hath raised him up ( equals but no, even now).)


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