Job 20:3
I have heard the check of my reproach, and the spirit of my understanding causes me to answer.
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(3) I have heard the check of my reproach.—Rather, I have heard, or, I hear the reproof of my shame: that is, a reproof that puts me to shame, or is intended to do so.

The spirit of my understanding causeth me to answer.—Or, more literally, Out of my understanding my spirit answereth me, or causeth me to answer. He professes to be moved by an impulse within, which he cannot but obey.

Job 20:3. I have heard — Or, Shall I hear? Namely, with patience, and without a reply? Who can endure it? The check of my reproach — That is, thy shameful and opprobrious reproofs of us, as if we, and all thy friends, were void of all humanity and natural affection toward thee, and were haters and persecutors of thee; and as if we were guilty of very heinous crimes, and might expect God’s vengeance upon us. And the spirit of my understanding — That is, my soul or mind, causeth me to answer — Constraineth me to speak. Or, the words רוח מבינתי, ruach mibbinathi, may be rendered, my spirit, or mind, because of my understanding, that is, out of, or because of, that certain knowledge which I have of this matter from consideration and experience. I speak not from passion, but from certain knowledge.20:1-9 Zophar's discourse is upon the certain misery of the wicked. The triumph of the wicked and the joy of the hypocrite are fleeting. The pleasures and gains of sin bring disease and pain; they end in remorse, anguish, and ruin. Dissembled piety is double iniquity, and the ruin that attends it will be accordingly.I have heard the check of my reproach - I have heard your violent and severe language reproaching us. Probably he refers to what Job had said in the close of his speech Job 19:29, that they had occasion to dread the wrath of God, and that they might anticipate heavy judgments as the result of their opinions. Or it may be, as Schultens supposes, that he refers to what Job said in Job 19:2, and the rebuke that he had administered there. Or possibly, and still more probably, I think, he may refer to what Job had said in reply to the former speech of Zophar Job 12:2, where he tauntingly says that "they were the people, and that wisdom would die with them." The Hebrew literally is, "the correction of my shame" (כלמה מוּסר mûsâr kelı̂mmâh), "the correction of my shame." that is, the castigation or rebuke which tends to cover me with ignominy. The sense is, "you have accused me of that which is ignominious and shameful, and under the impetuous feelings caused by such a charge I cannot refrain from replying."

And the spirit of my understanding - Meaning, perhaps, "the emotion of his mind." The word "mind" or "soul" would better express the idea than the word "understanding;" and the word "spirit" here seems to be used in the sense of violent or agitating emotions - perhaps in allusion to the primary signification of the word (רוּח rûach), "mind."

3. check of my reproach—that is, the castigation intended as a reproach (literally, "shame") to me.

spirit of … understanding—my rational spirit; answering to "calm thoughts" (Job 20:2). In spite of thy reproach urging me to "hastiness." I will answer in calm reason.

I have heard from thy mouth. Or, Shall I hear, to wit, with patience, and without a reply? Who can endure it?

The check of my reproach, i.e. thy shameful and opprobrious reproofs of us, as if we and all thy friends were void of all humanity and natural affection towards them, and were haters, and cruel persecutors, and even devourers, of thee, Job 19:19,22; and as if we were guilty of most heinous crimes, and might expect God’s vengeance upon us.

The spirit, i.e. my soul or mind.

Of my understanding, or, because of (for so the Hebrew mem oft signifies)

my understanding i.e. out of, or because of, that certain knowledge which I have of this matter from study and experience; I have not spoken, and I shall not speak, out of ignorance, or prejudice, or passion and rage against Job, as he asperseth us, but only what I evidently know, and yet hope that I can and shall convince thee of.

Causeth me to answer, i.e. forceth me to speak. Or, answereth for me, i.e. either vindicates me against thy calumnies, or suggesteth an answer to me. I have heard the check of my reproach,.... He took it that Job had reproached him and his friends, by representing them as hardhearted men, and persecuting him wrongly in a violent manner; and he had observed the "check" or reproof given for it, by bidding them beware of the sword, and lest the punishment of it should be inflicted on them; and if that should not be the case, yet there was a righteous judgment they could not escape. Now Zophar heard this, but could not hear it with patience; be could not bear that he and his friends should be insulted, as he thought, in this manner; and therefore it was he was in such baste to return an answer; though some (d) think he here pretends to a divine oracle, like that which Eliphaz makes mention of in the beginning of this dispute, Job 4:12, &c. which he had from God, and from which he had heard the "correction of his reproach" (e), or a full confutation of the thing Job had reproached him with; and being thus divinely furnished, he thought it his duty to deliver it:

and the spirit of my understanding causeth me to answer; or his rational spirit, his natural understanding, furnished him at once with an answer; he had such a clear insight into the controversy on foot, and such a full view of it, that he thought himself capable of speaking very particularly to the matter in hand, and to the conviction and confusion of Job; nay, his conscience, or the spirit of his conscience, as Mr. Broughton renders it, not only readily dictated to him what he should say, but obliged him to it; though some think he meant the Holy Spirit of God, by which he would be thought to be inspired; that he "out of his understanding" (f), enlightened by him, caused him to answer, or would answer for him, or supply him with matter sufficient to qualify him for it; and this he might observe to Job, in order to raise his attention to what he was about to say.

(d) Schmidt. (e) "correctionem ignominiae meae", Pagninus, Montanus; so Schmidt, Michaelis. (f) "ex intelligentia mea", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Drusius, Schmidt, Michaelis.

I have heard {a} the check of my reproach, and the spirit of my understanding causeth me to answer.

(a) He declares that two things moved him to speak: that is, because Job seemed to touch him, and because he thought he had knowledge sufficient to confute him.

Verse 3. - I have heard the check of my reproach; or, the reproof which putteth me to shame (Revised Version). Some suppose an allusion to Job 19:2, 3; but it is better to regard Zophar as enraged by vers. 28, 29 of Job 19. And the spirit of my understanding causeth me to answer. This claim is not quite consistent with the acknowledgment of hastiness in ver. 2. But it is no unusual thing for an impetuous and hasty man to declare that he speaks from the dictates of pure dispassionate reason. 26 And after my skin, thus torn to pieces,

And without my flesh shall I behold Eloah,

27 Whom I shall behold for my good,

And mine eyes shall see Him and no other -

My veins languish in my bosom.

28 Ye think: "How shall we persecute him?"

Since the root of the matter is found in me -

29 Therefore be ye afraid of the sword,

For wrath meeteth the transgressions of the sword,

That ye may know there is a judgment!

If we have correctly understood על־עפר,Job 19:25, we cannot in this speech find that the hope of a bodily recovery is expressed. In connection with this rendering, the oldest representative of which is Chrysostom, מבּשׂרי is translated either: free from my flesh equals having become a skeleton (Umbr., Hirz., and Stickel, in comm. in Iobi loc. de Gole, 1832, and in the transl., Gleiss, Hlgst., Renan), but this מבשׂרי, if the מן is taken as privative, can signify nothing else but fleshless equals bodiless; or: from my flesh, i.e., the flesh when made whole again (viz., Eichhorn in the Essay, which has exercised considerable influence, to his Allg. Bibl. d. bibl. Lit. i. 3, 1787, von Clln, BCr., Knapp, von Hofm.,

(Note: Von Hofmann (Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, 503) translates: "I know, however, my Redeemer is living, and hereafter He will stand forth which must have been יעמד instead of יקום] upon the earth and after my skin, this surrounding (נקּפוּ, Chaldaism, instead of נקּפוּת after the form עקּשׁוּת), and from my flesh shall I behold God, whom I shall behold for myself, and my eyes see [Him], and He is not strange.")

and others), but hereby the relation of Job 19:26 to Job 19:26 becomes a contrast, without there being anything to indicate it. Moreover, this rendering, as מבשׂרי may also be explained, is in itself contrary to the spirit and plan of the book; for the character of Job's present state of mind is, that he looks for certain death, and will hear nothing of the consolation of recovery (Job 17:10-16), which sounds to him as mere mockery; that he, however, notwithstanding, does not despair of God, but, by the consciousness of his innocence and the uncharitableness of the friends, is more and more impelled from the God of wrath and caprice to the God of love, his future Redeemer; and that then, when at the end of the course of suffering the actual proof of God's love breaks through the seeming manifestation of wrath, even that which Job had not ventured to hope is realized: a return of temporal prosperity beyond his entreaty and comprehension.

On the other hand, the mode of interpretation of the older translators and expositors, who find an expression of the hope of a resurrection at the end of the preceding strophe or the beginning of this, cannot be accepted. The lxx, by reading יקים instead of יקום, and connecting יקים עורי נקפו זאת, translates: ἀναστήσει δὲ (Cod. Vat. only ἀναστῆσαι) μου τὸ σῶμα (Cod. Vat. τὸ δέρμα μου) τὸ ἀναντλοῦν μοι (Cod. Vat. om. μοι) ταῦτα, - but how can any one's skin be said to awake (Italic: super terram resurget cutis mea),


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