Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)XX.
(1) Then answered Zophar.—Zophar retorts with yet greater vehemence than before, and assumes a more ornate and elaborate style, still reiterating the former burden of the speedy doom of the wicked man.Job 20:1. Then answered Zophar — Here Zophar, although he had nothing new to advance, hastily interrupts Job, being extremely provoked by his threatening them with the judgments of God, and in his speech appears to be hurried by his passion beyond all bounds. He tells him it is in vain to tax their suspicions with unkindness; for it was of public notoriety, agreeable to the universal experience of mankind, ever since the creation, that suffering was the portion of the wicked. He then, under colour of describing the wicked man, and his destiny, charges Job with the most enormous crimes, and marks him out as a person in whom God had given an example of the justice of his providence; and concludes with a plain intimation, that he was thoroughly persuaded that Job was that very wicked man, that oppressor of the poor, which they had from the beginning suspected him to be.
For wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword - The word "bringeth" is supplied by the translators, and as it seems to me improperly. The idea is, that wrath or anger such as they had manifested, was proper for punishment; that such malice as they had shown was a crime that God would not suffer to escape unpunished. They had, therefore, everything to dread. Literally, it is, "for wrath the iniquities of the sword;" that is, wrath is a crime for the sword.
That ye may know that there is a judgment - That there is justice; that God punishes injuries done to the character, and that he will come forth to vindicate his friends. Probably Job anticipated that when God should come forth to vindicate "him," he would inflict exemplary punishment on "them;" and that this would be not only by words, but by some heavy judgment, such as he had himself experienced. The vindication of the just is commonly attended with the punishment of the unjust; the salvation of the friends of God is connected with the destruction of his foes. Job seems to have anticipated this in the case of himself and his friends; it will certainly occur in the great day when the affairs of this world shall be wound up in the decisions of the final judgment. See Matthew 25.
SECOND SERIES.Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verses 1-29. - Zophar's second speech is even more harsh than his first (ch. 11.). He adds coarseness and rudeness to his former vehement hostility (vers. 7, 15). His whole discourse is a covert denunciation of Job as a wicked man and a hypocrite (vers. 5, 12, 19, 29), deservedly punished by God for a life of crime. He ends by prophesying Job's violent death, the destruction of his house, and the rising up of heaven and earth in witness against him (vers. 24-28). Verses 1, 2. - Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said, Therefore do my thoughts cause me to answer. Zophar "has heard the check of his reproach" (ver. 3), i.e. the reproach contained in the last words of Job in the preceding chapter. Therefore his thoughts rise up within him, and com-psi him to make a reply. He cannot allow Job to shift the onus of guilt and the menace of punishment on his friends, when it is he, Job, that is the guilty person, over whom the judgments of God impend. And for this I make haste; rather, and because of my haste that is within me (see the Revised Version); i.e. "because I am of a hasty and impetuous temperament."
O ye my friends, For the hand of Eloah hath touched me.
22 Wherefore do ye persecute me as God,
And are never satisfied with my flesh?
23 Oh that my words were but written,
That they were recorded in a book,
24 With an iron pen, filled in with lead,
Graven in the rock for ever!
25 And I:know: my Redeemer liveth,
And as the last One will He arise from the dust.
In Job 19:21 Job takes up a strain we have not heard previously. His natural strength becomes more and more feeble, and his voice weaker and weaker. It is a feeling of sadness that prevails in the preceding description of suffering, and now even stamps the address to the friends with a tone of importunate entreaty which shall, if possible, affect their heart. They are indeed his friends, as the emphatic רעי אתּם affirms; impelled towards him by sympathy they are come, and at least stand by him while all other men flee from him. They are therefore to grant him favour (חנן, prop. to incline to) in the place of right; it is enough that the hand of Eloah has touched him (in connection with this, one is reminded that leprosy is called נגע, and is pre-eminently accounted as plaga divina; wherefore the suffering Messiah also bears the significant name חוּרא דבי רבּי, "the leprous one from the school of Rabbi," in the Talmud, after Isaiah 53:4, Isaiah 53:8), they are not to make the divine decree heavier to him by their uncharitableness. Wherefore do ye persecute me - he asks them in Job 19:22 - like as God (כּמו־אל, according to Saad. and Ralbag equals כמו־אלּה, which would be very tame); by which he means not merely that they add their persecution to God's, but that they take upon themselves God's work, that they usurp to themselves a judicial divine authority, they act towards him as if they were superhuman (vid., Isaiah 31:3), and therefore inhumanly, since they, who are but his equals, look down upon him from an assumed and false elevation. The other half of the question: wherefore are ye not full of my flesh (de ma chair, with מן, as Job 31:31), but still continue to devour it? is founded upon a common Semitic figurative expression, with which may be compared our Germ. expression, "to gnaw with the tooth of slander" comp. Engl. "backbiting". In Chaldee, אכל קרצוהי די, to eat the pieces of (any one), is equivalent to, to slander him; in Syriac, ochelqarsso is the name of Satan, like διάβολος. The Arabic here, as almost everywhere in the book of Job, presents a still closer parallel; for Arab. 'kl lḥm signifies to eat any one's flesh, then (different from אכל בשׂר, Psalm 27:2) equivalent to, to slander,
(Note: Vid., Schultens' ad Prov. Meidanii, p. 7 (where "to eat his own flesh," equivalent to "himself," without allowing others to do it, signifies to censure his kinsmen), and comp. the phrase Arab. aclu-l-a‛râdhi in the signification arrodere existimationem hominum in Makkari, i. 541, 13.)
since an evil report is conceived of as a wild beast, which delights in tearing a neighbour to pieces, as the friends do not refrain from doing, since, from the love of their assumption that his suffering must be the retributive punishment of heinous sins, they lay sins to his charge of which he is not conscious, and which he never committed. Against these uncharitable and groundless accusations he wishes (Job 19:23) that the testimony of his innocence, to which they will not listen, might be recorded in a book for posterity, or because a book may easily perish, graven in a rock (therefore not on leaden plates) with an iron style, and the addition of lead, with which to fill up the engraved letters, and render them still more imperishable. In connection with the remarkable fidelity with which the poet throws himself back into the pre-Israelitish patriarchal time of his hero, it is of no small importance that he ascribes to him an acquaintance not only with monumental writing, but also with book and documentary writing (comp. Job 31:35).
The fut., which also elsewhere (Job 6:8; Job 13:5; Job 14:13, once the praet., Job 23:3, noverim) follows מי־יתּן, quis dabat equals utinam, has Waw consec. here (as Deuteronomy 5:26 the praet.); the arrangement of the words is extremely elegant, בּסּפר stands per hyperbaton emphatically prominent. כּתב and חקק (whence fut. Hoph. יחקוּ with Dag. implicitum in the ח, comp. Job 4:20, and the Dag. of the ק omitted, for יוּחקּוּ, according to Ges. 67, rem. 8) interchange also elsewhere, Isaiah 30:8. ספר, according to its etymon, is a book formed of the skin of an animal, as Arab. sufre, the leathern table-mat spread on the ground instead of a table. It is as unnecessary to read לעד (comp. Job 16:8, lxx, εἰς μαρτύριον) instead of לעד here, as in Isaiah 30:8. He wishes that his own declaration, in opposition to his accusers, may be inscribed as on a monument, that it may be immortalized,
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