Job 23:1
Then Job answered and said,
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(1) Then Job answered.—Job replies to the insinuations of Eliphaz with the earnest longing after God and the assertion of his own innocence; while in the twenty-fourth chapter he laments that his own case is but one of many, and that multitudes suffer from the oppression of man unavenged, as he suffers from the stroke of God.

Job 23:1. Then Job answered — Job, being exceedingly grieved by the freedom which Eliphaz had taken with him in his last speech, charging him directly with the most enormous sins, (see the 15th and following verses,) turns and appeals to God, according to his custom, and earnestly begs he would hear the matter fully, and determine between him and his friends. The passage from this to the end of the 10th verse is peculiarly fine, and well worthy of the reader’s deep attention. In it Job fully answers the charge of Eliphaz concerning his denial or disbelief of the Divine Providence; and observes, that this was so far from being the case, that there was nothing he so much lamented as that he was excluded from God’s presence, and not permitted to draw near and make his defence before him; having the testimony of his own conscience respecting his integrity, and not doubting but he should make his cause good. He then shows, that his cause was far from being singular, for that many other dispensations of God’s providence were equally difficult to be accounted for, at least by human understanding; and that it was this which filled him with greater apprehensions. He expresses his desire that God, in the course of his providence, would make a more visible distinction between the righteous and the wicked in this world, that good men might not fall into such mistakes in censuring suffering innocence. He concludes with showing what, according to their principles, ought to be the general course of providence with regard to wicked men, which, however, it was notorious was not the case: and since it was not, it was plain that he had proved his point, and the falsity of their maxim was apparent: and their censuring him merely for his sufferings was a behaviour by no means justifiable. — Heath.

23:1-7 Job appeals from his friends to the just judgement of God. He wants to have his cause tried quickly. Blessed be God, we may know where to find him. He is in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself; and upon a mercy-seat, waiting to be gracious. Thither the sinner may go; and there the believer may order his cause before Him, with arguments taken from his promises, his covenant, and his glory. A patient waiting for death and judgment is our wisdom and duty, and it cannot be without a holy fear and trembling. A passionate wishing for death or judgement is our sin and folly, and ill becomes us, as it did Job.He shall deliver the island of the innocent - Margin, "the innocent shall deliver the island." Never was there a more unhappy translation than this; and it is quite clear that our translators had no intelligible idea of the meaning of the passage. What can be meant by "saving the island of the innocent?" The word rendered island (אי 'ı̂y) commonly means, indeed, an island, or a maritime country; see Isaiah 20:6, note. It is, however, used as a "negative" in 1 Samuel 4:21, in the name "I-chabod" - אי־כבוד 'ı̂y-kâbôd. "And she named the child I-chabod (margin, that is, "where is the glory?" or, there is "no glory"), saying, the glory is departed from Israel." This sense is frequent in the Rabbinic Hebrew, where it is used as connected with an adjective in a privative sense, like the English "un." It is probably an abbreviated form of (אין 'ayı̂n) "not, nothing;" and is used here as a "negative" to qualify the following word, "He shall deliver even him that is not innocent."

So it is rendered by the Chaldee, by Le Clerc, Rosenmuller, Gesenius, Noyes, and others. The Vulgate and the Septuagint render it, "He shall deliver the innocent." The sense is, that the man who returns to God, and who is regarded by him as his friend, will be able to intercede for the guilty, and to save them from the punishment which they deserved. His prayers and intercessions will be heard in their behalf, and on his account layouts will be shown to them, even when they did not personally deserve them. This sentiment accords with that expressed in Genesis 18:26, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes;" Ezekiel 14:14, "Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, they should deliver but their own souls;" compare Ezekiel 22:30; Jeremiah 5:1. The sentiment, also, had a beautiful illustration, though one which Eliphaz did not here think of, in his own case and that of his friends, where this very Job, to whom he was giving this counsel, was directed to intercede for them; Job 42:7-8. The sentiment, indeed, is found every where in the Scriptures, that the righteous are permitted to pray for others, and that they are thus the means of bringing down important blessings on them. In answer to those prayers, multitudes are saved from calamity here, and will be brought to eternal life hereafter.

And it is delivered by the pureness of thine hands - Or, rather, he, i. e., the wicked, for whom you pray, will be delivered by the pureness of thine hands. That is, God will save him in answer to the prayers of a righteous man. Your upright and holy life; your pure hands stretched out in supplication, shall be the means of saving him. No one can tell how many blessings are conferred on wicked people because the righteous pray for them. No one can tell how many a wicked son is spared, and ultimately saved, in answer to the intercessions of a holy parent; nor can the wicked world yet know how much it owes its preservation, and the numberless blessings which it enjoys, to the intercessions of the saints. It is one of the innumerable blessings of being a child of God thus to be permitted to be the means of bringing down blessings on others, and saving sinners from ruin. All the friends of God may thus confer unspeakable benefits to others; and they who have "an interest at the throne of grace" should plead without ceasing for the salvation of guilty and dying people.



Job 23:1-17. Job's Answer.Job’ s reply: his desire to plead with God, Job 23:1-5; who should not confound, but strengthen him, Job 23:6,7. He cannot behold God’s way; but he walked in the way of his law, Job 23:8-12. God in his providences bringeth about what he had decreed: Job’ s trouble herein, Job 23:13-17.

No text from Poole on this verse.

Then Job answered and said. In reply to Eliphaz; for though he does not direct his discourse to him, nor take any notice of his friends; yet, as a proof of his innocence, against his and their accusations and charges, he desires no other than to have his cause laid before God himself, by whom he had no doubt he should be acquitted; and, contrary to their notions, he shows in this chapter, that he, a righteous man, was afflicted by God, according to his unchangeable decrees; and, in the next, that wicked men greatly prosper; so that what he herein says may be considered as a sufficient answer to Eliphaz and his friends; and after which no more is said to him by them, excepting a few words dropped by Bildad. Then Job answered and said,
Verses 1-24:25. - Job replies to Eliphaz in a speech of no great length, which, though it occupies two chapters, runs to only forty-two verses. He begins by justifying the vehemence of his complaints, first, on the ground of the severity of his sufferings (ver. 2), and secondly, on the ground of his conviction that, if God would bring him to an open trial before his tribunal, he would acquit him (vers. 3-12). By the way, he complains that God hides himself, and cannot be found (vers. 3, 8, 9). He then further complains that God is not to be bent from his purpose, which is set against Job (vers. 13-17). In ch. 24. he goes over ground already trodden, maintaining the general prosperity of the wicked, and their exemption from any special earthly punishment (vers. 2-24). He winds up, finally, with a challenge to his opponents to disprove the truth of what he has said (ver. 25). Verses 1, 2. - Then Job answered and said, Even to-day is my complaint bitter; i.e. even to-day, notwithstanding all that has been said by my opponents against my right to complain, I do complain, and as bitterly as ever. And I justify my complaint on the following ground - my stroke is heavier than my groaning. If I complain bitterly, I suffer even more bitterly (comp. Job 6:2). Job 23:1 1 Then began Job, and said:

2 Even to-day my complaint still biddeth defiance,

My hand lieth heavy upon my groaning.

3 Oh that I knew where I might find Him,

That I might come even to His dwelling-place!

4 I would lay the cause before Him,

And fill my mouth with arguments:

5 I should like to know the words He would answer me,

And attend to what He would say to me.

Since מרי (for which the lxx reads ἐκ τοῦ χειρός μου, מידי; Ew. מידו, from his hand) usually elsewhere signifies obstinacy, it appears that Job 23:2 ought to be explained: My complaint is always accounted as rebellion (against God); but by this rendering Job 23:2 requires some sort of expletive, in order to furnish a connected thought: although the hand which is upon me stifles my groaning (Hirz.); or, according to another rendering of the על: et pourtant mes gmissements n'galent pas mes souffrances (Renan. Schlottm.). These interpretations are objectionable on account of the artificial restoration of the connection between the two members of the verse, which they require; they lead one to expect וידי (as a circumstantial clause: lxx, Cod. Vat. καὶ ἡ χεὶρ αὐτοῦ). As the words stand, it is to be supposed that the definition of time, גּם־היּום (even to-day still, as Zechariah 9:12), belongs to both divisions of the verse. How, then, is מרי to be understood? If we compare Job 7:11; Job 10:1, where מר, which is combined with שׂיח, signifies amarum equals amartiduo, it is natural to take מרי also in the signification amaritudo, acerbitas (Targ., Syr., Jer.); and this is also possible, since, as is evident from Exodus 23:21, comp. Zechariah 12:10, the verbal forms מרר and מרה run into one another, as they are really cognates.

(Note: מרר and מרה both spring from the root מר [vid. supra, p. 396, note], with the primary signification stringere, to beat, rub, draw tight. Hence Arab. mârrâ, to touch lightly, smear upon (to go by, over, or through, to move by, etc.), but also stringere palatum, of an astringent taste, strong in taste, to be bitter, opp. Arab. ḥalâ, soft and mild in taste, to be sweet, as in another direction חלה, to be loose, weak, sick, both from the root Arab. ḥl in ḥalla, solvit, laxavit. From the signification to be tight come amarra, to stretch tight, istamarra, to stretch one's self tight, to draw one's self out in this state of tension - of things in time, to continue unbroken; mirreh, string, cord; מרה, to make and hold one's self tight against any one, i.e., to be obstinate: originally of the body, as Arab. mârrâ, tamârrâ, to strengthen themselves in the contest against one another; then of the mind, as Arab. mârâ, tamârâ, to struggle against anything, both outwardly by contradiction and disputing, and inwardly by doubt and unbelief. - Fl.)

But it is more satisfactory, and more in accordance with the relation of the two divisions of the verse, if we keep to the usual signification of מרי; not, however, understanding it of obstinacy, revolt, rebellion (viz., in the sense of the friends), but, like moreh, 2 Kings 14:26) which describes the affliction as stiff-necked, obstinate), of stubbornness, defiance, continuance in opposition, and explain with Raschi: My complaint is still always defiance, i.e., still maintains itself in opposition, viz., against God, without yielding (Hahn, Olsh.: unsubmitting); or rather: against such exhortations to penitence as those which Eliphaz has just addressed to him. In reply to these, Job considers his complain to be well justified even to-day, i.e., even now (for it is not, with Ewald, to be imagined that, in the mind of the poet, the controversy extends over several days, - an idea which would only be indicated by this one word).

In Job 23:2 he continues the same thought under a different form of expression. My hand lies heavy on my groaning, i.e., I hold it immoveably fast (as Fleischer proposes to take the words); or better: I am driven to a continued utterance of it.

(Note: The idea might also be: My hand presses my groaning back (because it would be of no use to me); but Job 23:2 is against this, and the Arab. kamada, to restrain inward pain, anger, etc. by force (e.g., mât kemed, he died from suppressed rage or anxiety), has scarcely any etymological connection with כבד.)


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