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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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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). 6 Will He contend with me with great power?

No, indeed; He will only regard me!

7 Then the upright would be disputing with Him,

And I should for ever escape my judge.

8 Yet I go eastward, He is not there,

And westward, but I perceive Him not;

9 Northwards where He worketh, but I behold Him not;

He turneth aside southwards, and I see Him not.

The question which Job, in Job 23:6, puts forth: will He contend with me in the greatness or fulness of His strength, i.e., (as Job 30:18) with a calling forth of all His strength? he himself answers in Job 23:6, hoping that the contrary may be the case: no, indeed, He will not do that.

(Note: With this interpretation, לא should certainly have Rebia mugrasch; its accentuation with Mercha proceeds from another interpretation, probably non ituque ponet in me (manum suam), according to which the Targ. translates. Others, following this accentuation, take לא in the sense of הלא (vid., in Dachselt), or are at pains to obtain some other meaning from it.)

לא is here followed not by the כּי, which is otherwise customary after a negation in the signification imo, but by the restrictive exceptive אך, which never signifies sed, sometimes verum tamen (Psalm 49:16; comp. supra, Job 13:15), but here, as frequently, tantummodo, and, according to the hyperbaton which has been mentioned so often, is placed at the beginning of the sentence, and belongs not to the member of the sentence immediately following it, but to the whole sentence (as in Arabic also the restrictive force of the Arab. innamâ never falls upon what immediately follows it): He will do nothing but regard me (ישׂים, scil. לב, elsewhere with על of the object of regard or reflection, Job 34:23; Job 37:15; Judges 19:30, and without an ellipsis, ch. Job 1:8; also with אל, Job 2:3, or ל, 1 Samuel 9:20; here designedly with בּ, which unites in itself the significations of the Arab. b and fı̂, of seizing, and of plunging into anything). Many expositors (Hirz., Ew., and others) understand Job 23:6 as expressing a wish: "Shall He contend with me with overwhelming power? No, I do not desire that; only that He may be a judge attentive to the cause, not a ruler manifesting His almighty power." But Job 23:6, taken thus, would be purely rhetorical, since this question (shall He, etc.) certainly cannot be seriously propounded by Job; accordingly, Job 23:6 is not intended as expressing a wish, but a hope. Job certainly wishes the same thing in Job 9:34; Job 13:21; but in the course of the discussion he has gradually acquired new confidence in God, which here once more breaks through. He knows that God, if He would but be found, would also condescend to hear his defence of himself, that He would allow him to speak, and not overwhelm him with His majesty.

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