Job 19:17
My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children's sake of mine own body.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Though I intreated for the children’s sake of mine own body.—Rather, and so is my affection or kindness (see Psalm 77:10, where the same word occurs) to the children of my mother’s womb, i.e., my brethren. Others render, I am become offensive to, &c.

Job 19:17. My breath is strange to my wife, &c. — I am become so loathsome that my wife will not come near me, though I have conjured her to do it, by the dear memory of our children, those common pledges of our mutual love. Houbigant translates the verse, My wife abhors even my breath: the children of my body fly far from my offensive smell: and he observes, that “we are nowhere told that all the children of Job perished, but only such as were feasting in their eldest brother’s house.” It must be observed, however, that when the messenger informed Job of the destruction of his family, the answer which he gave, namely, Naked came I, &c., supposes that there were none who survived that calamity. Some are of opinion that those whom Job calls his children were grandchildren. The LXX. take them for the children of concubines. Sol. Jarchi supposes they were his domestics: but the Hebrew text here does not necessarily imply that there were any children of his then in existence. For there is nothing for the word sake; it is literally, I entreated for the children of my body, which may mean, as interpreted above, for, or by the memory of our children, namely, the children now dead. The general interpretation here supposes that Job’s breath, by reason of his sores and ulcers, was so offensive that his wife could not bear to come near him; but the words do not necessarily imply that: for, as he had just said before, I entreated my servant with my mouth; so, when he immediately adds, My breath is strange: &c., he might mean no more than that his breath or voice was strange also to his wife: that is, she had as little regard to what he said as the servant who gave him no answer when he was called. See Chappelow, who thus paraphrases the passage: “When my servant gave no attention, I called to my wife; but neither did she regard me, though I particularly mentioned to her (as an aggravation of my calamities, and to move her compassion) the loss of my children, whom I had begotten.”

19:8-22 How doleful are Job's complaints! What is the fire of hell but the wrath of God! Seared consciences will feel it hereafter, but do not fear it now: enlightened consciences fear it now, but shall not feel it hereafter. It is a very common mistake to think that those whom God afflicts he treats as his enemies. Every creature is that to us which God makes it to be; yet this does not excuse Job's relations and friends. How uncertain is the friendship of men! but if God be our Friend, he will not fail us in time of need. What little reason we have to indulge the body, which, after all our care, is consumed by diseases it has in itself. Job recommends himself to the compassion of his friends, and justly blames their harshness. It is very distressing to one who loves God, to be bereaved at once of outward comfort and of inward consolation; yet if this, and more, come upon a believer, it does not weaken the proof of his being a child of God and heir of glory.My breath is strange to my wife - Schultens renders this, "my breath is loathsome to my wife," and so also Noyes. Wemyss translates it, "my own wife turns aside from my breath." Dr Good, "my breath is scattered away by my wife." The literal meaning is, "my breath is "strange" (זרה zârâh) to my wife;" and the idea is, that there had been such a change in him from his disease, that his breath was not that which she had been accustomed to breathe without offence, and that she now turned away from it as if it were the breath of a stranger. Jerome renders it, "Halitum meum exhorruit uxor mea - my wife abhors my breath." It may be worthy of remark here, that but "one" wife of Job is mentioned - a remarkable fact, as he probably lived in an age when polygamy was common.

I entreated her - I appealed to her by all that was tender in the domestic relation, but in vain. From this it would seem that even his wife had regarded him as an object of divine displeasure and had also left him to suffer alone.

For the children's sake of mine own body - Margin, "my belly." There is consideralbe variety in the interpretation of this passage. The word rendered "my own body" (בטני beṭenı̂y) means literally, "my belly or womb;" and Noyes, Gesenius, and some others, suppose it means the children of his own mother! But assuredly this was scarcely an appeal that Job would be likely to make to his wife in such circumstances. There can be no impropriety in supposing that Job referred to himself, and that the word is used somewhat in the same sense as the word "loins" is in Genesis 35:11; Genesis 46:26; Exodus 1:5; 1 Kings 8:19. Thus, understood, it would refer to his own children, and the appeal to his wife was founded on the relation which they had sustainded to them. Though they were now dead, he referred to their former united attachment to them, to the common affliction which they had experienced in their loss; and in view of all their former love to them, and all the sorrow which they had experienced in their death, he made an appeal to his wife to show him kindness, but in vain. Jerome renders this, "Orabam filios uteri mei." The Septuagint, not understanding it, and trying to "make" sense of it, introduced a statement which is undoubtedly false, though Rosenmuller accords with it. "I called affectionately (κολακεύων kolakeuōn) the sons of my concubines" - υἵους παλλακίδων μου huious pallakidōn mou. But the whole meaning is evidently that he made a solemn and tender appeal to his wife, in view of all the joys and sorrows which they had experience as the united head of a family of now no more. What would reach the heart of an estranged wife, if such an appeal would not?

17. strange—His breath by elephantiasis had become so strongly altered and offensive, that his wife turned away as estranged from him (Job 19:13; 17:1).

children's … of mine own body—literally, "belly." But "loins" is what we should expect, not "belly" (womb), which applies to the woman. The "mine" forbids it being taken of his wife. Besides their children were dead. In Job 3:10 the same words "my womb" mean, my mother's womb: therefore translate, "and I must entreat (as a suppliant) the children of my mother's womb"; that is, my own brothers—a heightening of force, as compared with last clause of Job 19:16 [Umbreit]. Not only must I entreat suppliantly my servant, but my own brothers (Ps 69:8). Here too, he unconsciously foreshadows Jesus Christ (Joh 7:5).

To my wife; who by reason of the stink of my breath and sores denied me her company.

For the children’s sake of mine own body; by these pledges of our mutual and matrimonial tie and affection, the children which came out of my loins, and were begotten by me upon her body. But divers render the words thus, and I entreated the children of my own body, i.e. either some of Job’s younger children, who by reason of their tender years were kept at home with their father, when their elder brethren and sisters were gone abroad to the feast; or some of his grandchildren by those grown sons and daughters; for such also oft come under the name of children. But this sense seems not so proper, partly because according to that translation here is mention only of Job’s entreating them, but not a word of their denying his request; which is the only matter of his present complaint; and partly because according to the former translation it is a great and just aggravation of his wife’s unkindness, and exactly answers to the foregoing verse, where the servant’s perverseness is aggravated in the same manner, and by part of the same words.

My breath is strange to my wife,.... Being corrupt and unsavoury, through some internal disorder; see Job 17:1; so that she could not bear to come nigh him, to do any kind deed for him; but if this was his case, and his natural breath was so foul, his friends would not have been able to have been so long in the same room with him, and carry on so long a conversation with him; rather therefore it may signify the words of his mouth, his speech along with his breath, which were very disagreeable to his wife; when upon her soliciting him to curse God and die, he told her she talked like one of the foolish women; and when he taught her to expect evil as well as good at the hand of God, and to bear afflictions patiently, or else the sense may be, "my spirit" (f), his vital spirit, his life, was wearisome and loathsome to his wife; she was tired out with him, with hearing his continual groans and complaints, and wished to be rid of him, and that God would take away his life: or else, as some render it, "my spirit is strange to me, because of my wife" (g); and then the meaning is, that Job was weary of his own life, he loathed it, and could have been glad to have it taken from him, because of the scoffs and jeers of his wife at him, her brawls and quarrels with him, and solicitations of him to curse God and renounce religion:

though I entreated her for the children's sake of mine own body; this clause creates a difficulty with interpreters, since it is generally thought all Job's children were dead. Some think that only his elder children were destroyed at once, and that he had younger ones at home with him, which he here refers to; but this does not appear: others suppose these were children of his concubines; but this wants proof that he had any concubine; and besides an entreaty for the sake of such children could have no influence upon his proper wife: others take them for grandchildren, and who, indeed, are sometimes called children; but then they could not with strict propriety be called the children of his body; and for the same reason it cannot be meant of such that were brought up in his house, as if they were his children; nor such as were his disciples, or attended on him for instruction: but this may respect not any children then living, but those he had had; and the sense is, that Job entreated his wife, not for the use of the marriage bed, as some suggest (h); for it can hardly be thought, that, in such circumstances in which he was, there should be any desire of this kind; but to do some kind deed for him, as the dressing of his ulcers, &c. or such things which none but a wife could do well for him; and this he entreated for the sake of the children he had had by her, those pledges of their conjugal affection; or rather, since the word has the signification of deploring, lamenting, and bemoaning, the clause may be thus rendered, "and I lamented the children of my body" (i); he had none of those indeed to afflict him; and his affliction was, that they were taken away from him at once in such a violent manner; and therefore he puts in this among his family trials; or this may be an aggravation of his wife's want of tenderness and respect unto him; that his breath should be unsavoury, his talk disagreeable, and his sighs and moans be wearisome to her, when the burden of his song, the subject of his sorrowful complaints, was the loss of his children; in which it might have been thought she would have joined with him, being equally concerned therein.

(f) "spiritus meus", Junius & Tremellius, Vatablus, Schmidt, Schultens; "anima mea", Cocceius. (g) "propter uxorem meam", Schmidt. (h) R. Levi Ben Gersom; so some in Vatablus. (i) "deploro", Cocceius; "et miserans lugeo", Schmidt; "et miseret me", Michaelis; "comploro", Schultens.

My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children's sake of mine {i} own body.

(i) Which were hers and mine.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. Once more, if possible an acuter misery—he is become intolerable to those most dear to him.

though I intreated] Perhaps, and I am loathsome to the children of—. The word as known in Heb. means to be gracious to, to pity (Job 19:21), in the simple form (here), and to seek favour to oneself, or beseech, in the reflexive (Job 19:16), but the simple form has nowhere the meaning of “beseech” or entreat. The Arab. has a root of the same spelling, which means to smell badly, to stink,—a sense parallel to the meaning of the first clause, where “strange” means offensive.

The last words of the verse “children of mine own body” are difficult; they mean literally, children of my womb. The word usually rendered womb is used occasionally of the father, Psalm 132:11; Micah 6:7. The Prologue narrates the death of Job’s children, and the same assumption is made in the Poem, ch. Job 8:4, Job 29:5, and it is not to be thought that another mode of representation appears here. In Job 19:15-16, however, Job has still maids and servants, though his servants are represented in the Prologue as having perished. As he has other servants he might have other children. These might be children of concubines, as Job lived in the patriarchal age, though no allusion is made to such connexions, and the references to his wife are of such a kind as to suggest that Job lived in a state of strict monogamy. Or the expression “children of my body” might be used somewhat loosely to mean grandchildren—children of his sons. The impression conveyed by the Prologue is that the seven sons were unmarried, though this is left uncertain. Others consider the phrase “children of my womb” to mean, children of my mother—children of the same womb with myself.

Verse 17. - My breath is strange to my wife. The breath of a sufferer from elephantiasis has often a fetid odour which is extremely disagreeable. Job's wife, it would seem, held aloof from him on this account, so that he lost the tender offices which a wife is the fittest person to render. Though I intreated for the children's sake of mine own body. This translation is scarcely tenable, though no doubt it gives to the words used a most touching and pathetic sense. Translate, and I am loathsome to the children of my mother's wench; i.e. to my brothers and sisters (comp. Job 42:11). It would seem that they also avoided Job's presence, or at any rate any near approach to him. Under the circumstances, this is perhaps not surprising; but Job, in his extreme isolation, felt it keenly. Job 19:1716 I call to my servant and he answereth not,

I am obliged to entreat him with my mouth.

17 My breath is offensive to my wife,

And my stench to my own brethren.

18 Even boys act contemptuously towards me;

If I will rise up, they speak against me.

19 All my confidential friends abhor me,

And those whom I loved have turned against me.

20 My bone cleaveth to my skin and flesh,

And I am escaped only with the skin of my teeth.

His servant, who otherwise saw every command in his eyes, and was attent upon his wink, now not only does not come at his call, but does not return him any answer. The one of the home-born slaves (vid., on Genesis 14:14),

(Note: The (black) slaves born within the tribe itself are in the present day, from their dependence and bravery, accounted as the stay of the tribe, and are called fadwje, as those who are ready to sacrifice their life for its interest. The body-slave of Job is thought of as such as יליד בית.)

who stood in the same near connection to Job as Eliezer to Abraham, is intended here, in distinction from גרי ביתי, Job 19:15. If he, his master, now in such need of assistance, desires any service from him, he is obliged (fut. with the sense of being compelled, as e.g., Job 15:30, Job 17:2) to entreat him with his mouth. התחנּן, to beg חן of any one for one's self (vid., supra, p. 365), therefore to implore, supplicare; and בּמו־פּי here (as Psalm 89:2; Psalm 109:30) as a more significant expression of that which is loud and intentional (not as Job 16:5, in contrast to that which proceeds from the heart). In Job 19:17, רוּחי signifies neither my vexation (Hirz.) nor my spirit equals I((Umbr., Hahn, with the Syr.), for רוח in the sense of angry humour (as Job 15:13) does not properly suit the predicate, and Arab. rûḥy in the signification ipse may certainly be used in Arabic, where rûḥ (perhaps under the influence of the philosophical usage of the language) signifies the animal spirit-life (Psychol. S. 154), not however in Hebrew, where נפשׁי is the stereotype form in that sense. If one considers that the elephantiasis, although its proper pathological symptom consists in an enormous hypertrophy of the cellular tissue of single distinct portions of the body, still easily, if the bronchia are drawn into sympathy, or if (what is still more natural) putrefaction of the blood with a scorbutic ulcerous formation in the mouth comes on, has difficulty of breathing (Job 7:15) and stinking breath as its result, as also a stinking exhalation and the discharge of a stinking fluid from the decaying limbs is connected with it (vid., the testimony of the Arabian physicians in Stickel, S. 169f.), it cannot be doubted that Jer. has lighted upon the correct thing when he transl. halitum meum exhorruit uxor mea. רוחי is intended as in Job 17:1, and it is unnecessary to derive זרה from a special verb זיר, although in Arab. the notions which are united in the Hebr. זוּר .r, deflectere and abhorrere (to turn one's self away from what is disgusting or horrible), are divided between Arab. zâr med. Wau and Arab. ḏâr med. Je (vid., Frst's Handwrterbuch).

In Job 19:17 the meaning of חנּותי is specially questionable. In Psalm 77:10, חנּות is, like שׁמּות, Ezekiel 36:3, an infinitive from חנן, formed after the manner of the Lamed He verbs. Ges. and Olsh. indeed prefer to regard these forms as plurals of substantives (חנּה, שׁמּה), but the respective passages, regarded syntactically and logically, require infinitives. As regards the accentuation, according to which וחנותי is accented by Rebia mugrasch on the ultima, this does not necessarily decide in favour of its being infin., since in the 1 praet. סבּתי, which, according to rule, has the tone on the penultima, the ultima is also sometimes (apart from the perf. consec.) found accented (on this, vid., on Psalm 17:3, and Ew. 197, a), as סבּוּ, קוּמה, קוּמי, also admit of both accentuations.

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