Job 19:5
If indeed you will magnify yourselves against me, and plead against me my reproach:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
19:1-7 Job's friends blamed him as a wicked man, because he was so afflicted; here he describes their unkindness, showing that what they condemned was capable of excuse. Harsh language from friends, greatly adds to the weight of afflictions: yet it is best not to lay it to heart, lest we harbour resentment. Rather let us look to Him who endured the contradiction of sinners against himself, and was treated with far more cruelty than Job was, or we can be.If, indeed, ye will magnify yourselves against me - This is connected with the next verse. The sense is, "all these calamities came from God. He has brought them upon me in a sudden and mysterious manner. In these circumstances you ought to have pity upon me; Job 19:21. Instead of magnifying yourselves against me, setting yourselves up as censors and judges, overwhelming me with reproaches and filling my mind with pain and anguish, you ought to show to me the sympathy of a friend." The phrase, "magnify yourselves," refers to the fact that they had assumed a tone of superiority and an authoritative manner, instead of showing the compassion due to a friend in affliction.

And plead against me my reproach - My calamities as a cause of reproach. You urge them as a proof of the displeasure of God, and you join in reproaching me as a hypocrite. Instead of this, you should have shown compassion to me as a man whom God had greatly afflicted.

5. magnify, &c.—Speak proudly (Ob 12; Eze 35:13).

against me—emphatically repeated (Ps 38:16).

plead … reproach—English Version makes this part of the protasis, "if" being understood, and the apodosis beginning at Job 19:6. Better with Umbreit, If ye would become great heroes against me in truth, ye must prove (evince) against me my guilt, or shame, which you assert. In the English Version "reproach" will mean Job's calamities, which they "pleaded" against him as a "reproach," or proof of guilt.

Magnify yourselves against me, i.e. use lofty, and imperious, and contemptuous speeches against me; or seek praise and honour from others, by your conquering or outreasoning of me.

My reproach; either,

1. Your reproaches of me; if your reproachful and censorious speeches must pass for solid arguments. Or,

2. My wickedness, which, if true, were just matter of reproach, and the cause of all my miseries. Or,

3. My contemptible and calamitous condition, for which you reproach and condemn me as a hypocrite and wicked man. If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me,.... Look and talk big, set up themselves for great folk, and resolve to run him down; open their mouths wide against him and speak great swelling words in a blustering manner; or magnify what they called an error in him, and set it out in the worst light they could:

and plead against me my reproach; his affliction which he was reproached with, and was pleaded against him as an argument of his being a wicked man; if therefore they were determined to go on after this manner, and insist on this kind of proof, then he would have them take what follows.

If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me, and plead against me my reproach:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. If his friends mean in earnest to found inferences on his calamities then he will tell them that it is God who hath brought these on him unjustly (Job 19:6).Verse 5. - If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me. If you have no sense of justice, and are disinclined to pay any heed to my expostulations; if you intend still to insist on magnifying yourselves against me, and bringing up against me my "reproach;" then let me make appeal to your pity. Consider my whole condition - how I stand with God, who persecutes me and "destroys" me (ver. 10); how I stand with my relatives and such other friends as I have beside yourselves, who disclaim and forsake me (vers. 13-19); and how I am conditioned with respect to my body, emaciated and on the verge of death (ver. 20); and then, if neither your friendship nor your sense of justice will induce you to abstain from persecuting me, abstain at any rate for pity's sake (ver. 21). And plead against me my reproach. Job's special "reproach" was that God had laid his hand upon him. This was a manifest fact, and could not be denied. His "comforters" concluded from it that he was a monster of wickedness. 20 Those who dwell in the west are astonished at his day,

And trembling seizeth those who dwell in the east;

21 Surely thus it befalleth the dwellings of the unrighteous,

And thus the place of him that knew not God.

It is as much in accordance with the usage of Arabic as it is biblical, to call the day of a man's doom "his day," the day of a battle at a place "the day of that place." Who are the אחרנים who are astonished at it, and the קדמנים whom terror (שׂער as twice besides in this sense in Ezek.) seizes, or as it is properly, who seize terror, i.e., of themselves, without being able to do otherwise than yield to the emotion (as Job 21:6; Isaiah 13:8; comp. on the contrary Exodus 15:14.)? Hirz., Schlottm., Hahn, and others, understand posterity by אחרנים, and by קדמנים their ancestors, therefore Job's contemporaries. But the return from the posterity to those then living is strange, and the usage of the language is opposed to it; for קדמנים is elsewhere always what belongs to the previous age in relation to the speaker (e.g., 1 Samuel 24:14, comp. Ecclesiastes 4:16). Since, then, קדמני is used in the signification eastern (e.g., הים הקדמוני, the eastern sea equals the Dead Sea), and אחרון in the signification western (e.g., הים האחרון, the western sea equals the Mediterranean), it is much more suited both to the order of the words and the usage of the language to understand, with Schult., Oetinger, Umbr., and Ew., the former of those dwelling in the west, and the latter of those dwelling in the east. In the summarizing Job 18:21, the retrospective pronouns are also praegn., like Job 8:19; Job 20:29, comp. Job 26:14 : Thus is it, viz., according to their fate, i.e., thus it befalls them; and אך here retains its original affirmative signification (as in the concluding verse of Psalm 58:1-11), although in Hebrew this is blended with the restrictive. וזה has Rebia mugrasch instead of great Schalscheleth,

(Note: Vid., Psalter ii. 503, and comp. Davidson, Outlines of Hebrew Accentuation (1861), p. 92, note.)

and מקום has in correct texts Legarme, which must be followed by לא־ידע with Illuj on the penult. On the relative clause לא־ידע אל without אשׁר, comp. e.g., Job 29:16; and on this use of the st. constr., vid., Ges. 116, 3. The last verse is as though those mentioned in Job 18:20 pointed with the finger to the example of punishment in the "desolated" dwellings which have been visited by the curse.

This second speech of Bildad begins, like the first (Job 8:2), with the reproach of endless babbling; but it does not end like the first (Job 8:22). The first closed with the words: "Thy haters shall be clothed with shame, and the tent of the godless is no more," the second is only an amplification of the second half of this conclusion, without taking up again anywhere the tone of promise, which there also embraces the threatening.

It is manifest also from this speech, that the friends, to express it in the words of the old commentators, know nothing of evangelical but only of legal suffering, and also only of legal, nothing of evangelical, righteousness. For the righteousness of which Job boasts is not the righteousness of single works of the law, but of a disposition directed to God, of conduct proceeding from faith, or (as the Old Testament generally says) from trust in God's mercy, the weaknesses of which are forgiven because they are exonerated by the habitual disposition of the man and the primary aim of his actions. The fact that the principle, "suffering is the consequence of human unrighteousness," is accounted by Bildad as the formula of an inviolable law of the moral order of the world, is closely connected with that outward aspect of human righteousness. One can only thus judge when one regards human righteousness and human destiny from the purely legal point of view. A man, as soon as we conceive him in faith, and therefore under grace, is no longer under that supposed exclusive fundamental law of the divine dealing. Brentius is quite right when he observes that the sentence of the law certainly is modified for the sake of the godly who have the word of promise. Bildad knows nothing of the worth and power which a man attains by a righteous heart. By faith he is removed from the domain of God's justice, which recompenses according to the law of works; and before the power of faith even rocks move from their place.

Bildad then goes off into a detailed description of the total destruction into which the evil-doer, after going about for a time oppressed with the terrors of his conscience as one walking over snares, at last sinks beneath a painful sickness. The description is terribly brilliant, solemn, and pathetic, as becomes the stern preacher of repentance with haughty mien and pharisaic self-confidence; it is none the less beautiful, and, considered in itself, also true - a masterpiece of the poet's skill in poetic idealizing, and in apportioning out the truth in dramatic form. The speech only becomes untrue through the application of the truth advanced, and this untruthfulness the poet has most delicately presented in it. For with a view of terrifying Job, Bildad interweaves distinct references to Job in his description; he knows, however, also how to conceal them under the rich drapery of diversified figures. The first-born of death, that hands the ungodly over to death itself, the king of terrors, by consuming the limbs of the ungodly, is the Arabian leprosy, which slowly destroys the body. The brimstone indicates the fire of God, which, having fallen from heaven, has burned up one part of the herds and servants of Job; the withering of the branch, the death of Job's children, whom he himself, as a drying-up root that will also soon die off, has survived. Job is the ungodly man, who, with wealth, children, name, and all that he possessed, is being destroyed as an example of punishment for posterity both far and near.

But, in reality, Job is not an example of punishment, but an example for consolation to posterity; and what posterity has to relate is not Job's ruin, but his wondrous deliverance (Psalm 22:31.). He is no עוּל, but a righteous man; not one who לא ידע־אל, but he knows God better than the friends, although he contends with Him, and they defend Him. It is with him as with the righteous One, who complains, Psalm 69:21 : "Contempt hath broken my heart, and I became sick: I hoped for sympathy, but in vain; for comforters, and found none;" and Psalm 38:12 (comp. Psalm 31:12; Psalm 55:13-15; Psalm 69:9; Psalm 88:9, 19): "My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my stroke, and my kinsmen stand afar off." Not without a deep purpose does the poet make Bildad to address Job in the plural. The address is first directed to Job alone; nevertheless it is so put, that what Bildad says to Job is also intended to be said to others of a like way of thinking, therefore to a whole party of the opposite opinion to himself. Who are these like-minded? Hirzel rightly refers to Job 17:8. Job is the representative of the suffering and misjudged righteous, in other words: of the "congregation," whose blessedness is hidden beneath an outward form of suffering. One is hereby reminded that in the second part of Isaiah the יהוה עבד is also at one time spoken of in the sing., and at another time in the plur.; since this idea, by a remarkable contraction and expansion of expression (systole and diastole), at one time describes the one servant of Jehovah, and at another the congregation of the servants of Jehovah, which has its head in Him. Thus we again have a trace of the fact that the poet is narrating a history that is of universal significance, and that, although Job is no mere personification, he has in him brought forth to view an idea connected with the history of redemption. The ancient interpreters were on the track of this idea when they said in their way, that in Job we behold the image of Christ, and the figure of His church. Christi personam figuraliter gessit, says Beda; and Gregory, after having stated and explained that there is not in the Old Testament a righteous man who does not typically point to Christ, says: Beatus Iob venturi cum suo corpore typum redemtoris insinuat.

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