Job 23:12
Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.
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(12) I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.—Comp. John 4:32-34. Or, I have treasured up the words, &c., according to the statute prescribed to me, or from my own law: i.e., “I made it a principle with myself to treasure up the words of His mouth.” The LXX. and the Vulg. have a differing reading, and render in my bosom.

23:8-12 Job knew that the Lord was every where present; but his mind was in such confusion, that he could get no fixed view of God's merciful presence, so as to find comfort by spreading his case before him. His views were all gloomy. God seemed to stand at a distance, and frown upon him. Yet Job expressed his assurance that he should be brought forth, tried, and approved, for he had obeyed the precepts of God. He had relished and delighted in the truths and commandments of God. Here we should notice that Job justified himself rather than God, or in opposition to him, ch. 32:2. Job might feel that he was clear from the charges of his friends, but boldly to assert that, though visited by the hand of God, it was not a chastisement of sin, was his error. And he is guilty of a second, when he denies that there are dealings of Providence with men in this present life, wherein the injured find redress, and the evil are visited for their sins.Neither have I gone back - I have not put away or rejected.

The commandment of his lips - That which he has spoken, or which has proceeded out of his mouth.

I have esteemed - Margin, "hid," or, "laid up." The Hebrew is, "I have hid," as we hide or lay up that which is valuable. It is a word often applied to laying up treasures, or concealing them so that they would be safe.

More than my necessary food - Margin, "or, appointed portion." Dr. Good renders it, "In my bosom have I laid up the words of his mouth." So Noyes, "The words of his mouth I have treasured up in my bosom." So Wemyss; and so it is rendered in the Vulgate, and by the Septuagint. The variety in the translation has arisen from the difference of reading in regard to the Hebrew word מחקי mēchôqı̂y. Instead of this meaning "more than my portion" or "allowance," the Septuagint and Vulgate appear to have read בחקי bēchôqı̂y - "in my bosom." But there is no authority for the change, and there seems to be no reason for it. The word חק chôq, means something decreed, designated, appointed; then an appointed portion, as of labor, Exodus 5:14; then of food - an allowance of food, Proverbs 30:8; then a limit, bound, law, statute, etc. It seems to me that the word here means "purpose, intention, rule, or design," and that the idea is that he had regarded the commands of God more "than his own purposes." He had been willing to sacrifice his own designs to the will of God, and had thus shown his preference for God and his law. This sense seems to be the most simple of any, and it is surprising that it has not occurred to any expositors. So the same word is used in Job 23:14. If this be the meaning, it expresses a true sentiment of piety in all ages. He who is truly religious is willing to sacrifice and abandon his own plans at the command of God. Job says that he was conscious of having done this, and he thus had a firm conviction that he was a pious man.

12. esteemed—rather, "laid up," namely, as a treasure found (Mt 13:44; Ps 119:11); alluding to the words of Eliphaz (Job 22:22). There was no need to tell me so; I have done so already (Jer 15:16).

necessary—"Appointed portion" (of food; as in Pr 30:8). Umbreit and Maurer translate, "More than my law," my own will, in antithesis to "the words of His mouth" (Joh 6:38). Probably under the general term, "what is appointed to me" (the same Hebrew is in Job 23:14), all that ministers to the appetites of the body and carnal will is included.

Neither have I gone back, i.e. not turned aside to any crooked or sinful path or course of life, human infirmity excepted.

I have esteemed, Heb. I have hid, or laid it up, as men do their best treasures, or what they most love and value. The phrase notes a high estimation of it, a hearty affection to it, and a diligent care to preserve it.

My necessary food, or my appointed food, or my daily portion, i.e. that food or provision which is necessary for the support of my life, as this word is used, Genesis 47:22 Proverbs 30:8 31:15, which is more prized and desired than all the riches in the world.

Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips,.... From any of the commandments his lips had uttered; meaning not the ten commandments given to Israel, which perhaps as yet were not given, or had not come to the knowledge of Job; some speak of the seven commandments, given to the sons of Noah; See Gill on Genesis 9:4. It seems to design any and every commandment that God had given to Noah or Abraham, or any of the patriarchs, before the times of Job, and which he had knowledge of, and which he carefully observed, kept close to, and did not deviate from; but made it the rule of his walk and practice:

I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food; the words of the Lord, the doctrines of grace that came from his mouth, are food for faith; there are in them milk for babes, and meat for strong men; they are savoury, salutary, and wholesome words, by which the people of God are nourished up unto eternal life; and they are esteemed by them more than the food that is necessary and convenient for their bodies; see Proverbs 30:8; for as the soul is preferable to the body, so the food of the one is preferable to the food of the other, and is sweeter, as the words of God are, to the taste of a believer, than honey, or the honeycomb: or "I have hid or laid up, the words of his mouth" (b); he had laid them up in his heart, in order to meditate upon them, and receive comfort and spiritual nourishment from them when he should want it, as men lay up their food in a proper place against the time they want it for their support and refreshment; and Job was more careful to lay up the one than the other; see Psalm 119:11; here Job meets with, and has respect unto, the advice of Eliphaz, Job 22:22; and signifies that he had no need to have given him it, he had done this already.

(b) "abscondi", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Bolducius; "recondidi", Tigurine version, Beza, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius, Mercerus, Cocceius, Michaelis, Schultens; so Broughton.

Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have {g} esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

(g) His word is more precious to me than the meat with which the body is sustained.

12. more than my necessary food] Lit. more than (or, above) my own law; i. e. perhaps, more than the law of my own mind or inclination. The words recall the exhortation of Eliphaz, ch. Job 22:22. Any reference to food seems out of place.

Verse 12. - Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips. Professor Lee rightly observes that this declaration "takes it for granted that, at least, some precepts of God had been revealed before this time" ('Book of Job,' p. 370). Them were "commandments" which Job recognized as having proceeded from God, and "words" which he looked upon as being the utterances of his mouth. This is strong evidence of a primeval revelation which, if not reduced to writing, had, at any rate, been handed down by tradition to Job's day. Genesis 3:14-19 and Genesis 9:1-7 may afford the true explanation of this difficulty. I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. This is scarcely strong enough. Job says, "I have treasured up taken to myself, and preserved the words of his mouth," either "more than my necessary food" or "more than my own law." If the former rendering be preferred, there is no need of explanation; if the latter, we must regard "my own law" as meaning "the law of my own mind, my own will, the will of the natural man" (Cook). Job 23:1210 For He knoweth the way that is with me:

If He should prove me, I should come forth as gold.

11 My foot held firm to His steps;

His way I kept, and turned not aside.

12 The command of His lips - I departed not from it;

More than my own determination I kept the words of His mouth.

13 Yet He remaineth by one thing, and who can turn Him?

And He accomplisheth what His soul desireth.

That which is not merely outwardly, but inwardly with (אם) any one, is that which he thinks and knows (his consciousness), Job 9:35; Job 15:9, or his willing and acting, Job 10:13; Job 27:11 : he is conscious of it, he intends to do it; here, Job 23:10, עם is intended in the former sense, in Job 23:14 in the latter. The "way with me" is that which his conscience (συνείδησις) approves (συμμαρτυρεῖ); comp. Psychol. S. 134. This is known to God, so that he who is now set down as a criminal would come forth as tried gold, in the event of God allowing him to appear before Him, and subjecting him to judicial trial. בּחנני is the praet. hypotheticum so often mentioned, which is based upon the paratactic character of the Hebrew style, as Genesis 44:22; Ruth 2:9; Zechariah 13:6; Ges. 155, 4, a. His foot has held firmly

(Note: On אחז, Carey correctly observes, and it explains the form of the expression: The oriental foot has a power of grasp and tenacity, because not shackled with shoes from early childhood, of which we can form but little idea.)

to the steps of God (אשׁוּר, together with אשּׁוּר, Job 31:7, from אשׁר Piel, to go on), so that he was always close behind Him as his predecessor (אחז( ro synon. תּמך, Psalm 17:5; Proverbs 5:5). He guarded, i.e., observed His way, and turned not aside (אט fut. apoc. Hiph. in the intransitive sense of deflectere, as e.g., Psalm 125:5).

In Job 23:12, מצות שׂפתיו precedes as cas. absolutus (as respects the command of His lips); and what is said in this respect follows with Waw apod. ( equals Arab. f) without the retrospective pronoun ממּנּה (which is omitted for poetic brevity). On this prominence of a separate notion after the manner of an antecedent. The Hiph. המישׁ, like הטּה, Job 23:11, and הלּיז, Proverbs 4:21, is not causative, but simply active in signification. In Job 23:12 the question arises, whether צפן מן is one expression, as in Job 17:4, in the sense of "hiding from another," or whether מן is comparative. In the former sense Hirz. explains: I removed the divine will from the possible ascendancy of my own. But since צפן is familiar to the poet in the sense of preserving and laying by (צפוּנים( y, treasures, Job 20:26), it is more natural to explain, according to Psalm 119:11 : I kept the words (commands) of Thy mouth, i.e., esteemed them high and precious, more than my statute, i.e., more than what my own will prescribed for me.

(Note: Wetzstein arranges the significations of צפן as follows: - 1.((Beduin) intr. fut. i, to contain one's self, to keep still (hence in Hebr. to lie in wait), to be rapt in thought; conjug. II. c. acc. pers. to make any one thoughtful, irresolute. 2.((Hebr.) trans. fut. o, to keep anything to one's self, to hold back, to keep to one's self; Niph. to be held back, i.e., either concealed or reserved for future use. Thus we see how, on the one hand, צפן is related to טמן, e.g., Job 20:26 (Arab. itmaanna, to be still); and, on the other, can interchange with צפה in the signification designare (comp. Job 15:22 with Job 15:20; Job 21:19), and to spy, lie in wait (comp. Psalm 10:8; Psalm 56:7; Proverbs 1:11, Proverbs 1:18, with Psalm 37:32).)

The meaning is substantially the same; the lxx, which translates ἐν δὲ κόλπῳ μου (בּחקי), which Olsh. considers to be "perhaps correct," destroys the significance of the confession. Hirz. rightly refers to the "law in the members," Romans 7:23 : חקּי is the expression Job uses for the law of the sinful nature which strives against the law of God, the wilful impulse of selfishness and evil passion, the law which the apostle describes as ἕτερος νόμος, in distinction from the νόμος τοῦ Θεοῦ (Psychol. S. 379). Job's conscience can give him this testimony, but He, the God who so studiously avoids him, remains in one mind, viz., to treat him as a criminal; and who can turn Him from His purpose? (the same question as Job 9:12; Job 11:10); His soul wills it (stat pro ratione voluntas), and He accomplishes it. Most expositors explain permanet in uno in this sense; the Beth is the usual ב with verbs of entering upon and persisting in anything. Others, however, take the ב as Beth essentiae: He remains one and the same, viz., in His conduct towards me (Umbr., Vaih.), or: He is one, is alone, viz., in absolute majesty (Targ. Jer.; Schult., Ew., Hlgst., Schlottm.), which is admissible, since this Beth occurs not only in the complements of a sentence (Psalm 39:7, like a shadow; Isaiah 48:10, after the manner of silver; Psalm 55:19, in great number; Psalm 35:2, as my help), but also with the predicate of a simple sentence, be it verbal (Job 24:13; Proverbs 3:26) or substantival (Exodus 18:4; Psalm 118:7). The same construction is found also in Arabic, where, however, it is more frequent in simple negative clauses than in affirmative (vid., Psalter, i. 272). The assertion: He is one (as in the primary monotheistic confession, Deuteronomy 6:4), is, however, an expression for the absoluteness of God, which is not suited to this connection; and if הוא באחד is intended to be understood of the unchangeable uniformity of His purpose concerning Job, the explanation: versatur (perstat) in uno, Arab. hua fi wâhidin, is not only equally, but more natural, and we therefore prefer it.


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