Job 23:2
Even to day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning.
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(2) Even to day.—Or, Still is my complaint bitter or accounted rebellion; yet is my stroke heavier than my groaning: my complaint is no just measure of my suffering.

Job 23:2. Even to-day is my complaint bitter — Even at this time notwithstanding all your promises and pretended consolations. For your discourses give me neither relief nor satisfaction. Hence in this and the following chapter Job seldom applies his discourse to his friends, but either addresses his speech to God, or bewails his misery. My stroke is heavier than my groaning — The hand or stroke of God upon me exceeds my complaints.

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.Even to-day - At the present time. I am not relieved. You afford me no consolation. All that you say only aggravates my woes.

My complaint - See the notes at Job 21:3.

Bitter - Sad, melancholy, distressing. The meaning is, not that he made bitter complaints in the sense which those words would naturally convey, or that he meant to find fault with God, but that his case was a hard one. His friends furnished him no relief, and he had in vain endeavored to bring his cause before God. This is now, as he proceeds to state, the principal cause of his difficulty. He knows not where to find God; he cannot get his cause before him.

My stroke - Margin, as in Hebrew "hand;" that is, the hand that is upon me, or the calamity that is inflicted upon me. The hand is represented as the instrument of inflicting punishment, or causing affliction; see the notes at Job 19:21.

Heavier than my groaning - My sighs bear no proportion to my sufferings. They are no adequate expression of my woes. If you think I complain; if I am heard to groan, yet the sufferings which I endure are far beyond what these would secm to indicate. Sighs and groans are not improper. They are prompted by nature, and they furnish "some" relief to a sufferer. But they should not be:

(1) with a spirit of murmuring or complaining;

(2) they should not be beyond what our sufferings demand, or the proper expression of our sufferings. They should not be such as to lead others to suppose we suffer more than we actually do.

(3) they should - when they are extorted from us by the severity of suffering - lead us go look to that world where no groan will ever be heard.

2. to-day—implying, perhaps, that the debate was carried on through more days than one (see [517]Introduction).

bitter—(Job 7:11; 10:1).

my stroke—the hand of God on me (Margin, Job 19:21; Ps 32:4).

heavier than—is so heavy that I cannot relieve myself adequately by groaning.

i.e. Even at this time, notwithstanding all your promises and pretended consolations, I find no ease or satisfaction in all your discourses; and therefore in this and the following chapters Job seldom applies his discourse to his friends, but only addresseth his speech to God, or bewaileth himself.

Is my complaint bitter, i.e. I do bitterly complain, and have just cause to do so. But this clause is and may be otherwise rendered, Even still (Heb. at this day) is my complaint called or accounted by you rebellion or bitterness, or the rage of an exasperated mind? Do you still pass such harsh censures upon me after all my declarations and solemn protestations of my innocency?

My stroke, Heb. my hand, passively, i.e. the hand or stroke of God upon me, as the same phrase is used, Psalm 77:2; and mine arrow, Job 34:6.

Is heavier than my groaning, i.e. doth exceed all my complaints and expressions; so far are you mistaken, that think I complain more than I have cause. Some render the words thus, my hands are heavy (i.e. feeble and hanging down, as the phrase is, Hebrews 12:12. My strength and spirit faileth) because of my groaning.

Even today is my complaint bitter,.... Job's afflictions were continued on him long; he was made to possess months of vanity; and, as he had been complaining ever since they were upon him, he still continued to complain to that day, "even" after all the comforts his friends pretended to administer to him, as Jarchi observes: his complaints were concerning his afflictions, and his friends' ill usage of him under them; not of injustice in God in afflicting him, though he thought he dealt severely with him; but of the greatness of his afflictions, they being intolerable, and his strength unequal to them, and therefore death was more eligible to him than life; and he complained of God's hiding his face from him, and not hearing him, nor showing him wherefore he contended with him, nor admitting an hearing of his cause before him: and this complaint of his was "bitter": the things he complained of were such, bitter afflictions, like the waters of Marah the Israelites could not drink of, Exodus 15:23; there was a great deal of wormwood and gall in his affliction and misery; and it was in a bitter way, in the bitterness of his soul, he made his complaint; and, what made his case still worse, he could not utter any complaint, so much as a sigh or a groan, but it was reckoned "provocation", or "stubbornness and rebellion", by his friends; so some render the word (x), as Mr. Broughton does, "this day my sighing is holden a rebellion": there is indeed a great deal of rebellion oftentimes in the hearts, words and actions, conduct and behaviour, even of good men under afflictions, as were in the Israelites in the wilderness; and a difficult thing it is to complain without being guilty of it; though complaints may be without it, yet repinings and murmurings are always attended with it:

and my stroke is heavier than my groaning; or "my hand" (y), meaning either his own hand, which was heavy, and hung down, his spirits failing, his strength being exhausted, and so his hands weak, feeble, and remiss, that he could not hold them up through his afflictions, and his groanings under them, see Psalm 102:5; or the hand of God upon him, his afflicting hand, which had touched him and pressed hard upon him, and lay heavy, and was heavier than his groanings showed; though he groaned much, he did not groan more, nor so much, as his afflictions called for; and therefore it was no wonder that his complaint was bitter, nor should it be reckoned rebellion and provocation; see Job 6:2.

(x) "exacerbatio", Montanus, Vatablus, Schmidt; "exasperatio", Mercerus, Drusius; "pertinacia", Bolducius; "contumacia habetur", Cocceius; "rebellionem haberi", Junius & Tremellius; "rebellio est", Piscator, Codurcus. (y) "manus mea", Montanus, Vatablus, Mercerus, Drusius, Michaelis.

Even to day is my complaint {a} bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning.

(a) He shows the just cause of his complaining and concerning that Eliphaz had exhorted him to return to God, Job 22:21 he declares that he desires nothing more, but it seems that God would not be found of him.

2. The A. V. is almost certainly wrong in its rendering of this verse, though a more satisfactory rendering is hard to give. The text is probably faulty. Literally tendered according to the usual meaning of the words the verse reads, even to-day is my complaint rebellion, my hand is heavy upon my groaning. The A. V. has assumed, after the Vulgate, that the word usually meaning “rebellion” (mri) is a form of the word “bitter” (mar), or that the latter word should be read. It has also assumed that “my hand” may mean the hand (of God) upon me, i. e. “my stroke.” But this is scarcely possible; “my arrow,” ch. Job 34:6, being no true parallel. Further, it has assumed that the well-known phrase “to be heavy upon,” e.g. Psalm 32:4, may mean “to be heavy above,” i. e. heavier than my groaning. This also is scarcely to be believed. On the other hand it is difficult to extract sense from the literal rendering given above. The expression “my complaint is rebellion” may be used from the point of view of the three friends: even to-day (still) is my complaint accounted rebellion, though my hand lies heavy upon my groaning, i. e. represses it; the meaning being, that Job was accounted rebellious by his friends, while in fact his complaint and groaning in no way came up to the terrible weight of his calamities—the same idea as in ch. Job 6:2. Then the following verses proceed to describe the cause he has for complaint. Or the words “my complaint is rebellion” may express Job’s own feeling: “I refuse to submit to my afflictions, or acknowledge that they are just.” In this case the next words: “my hand lies heavy on my groaning” must mean “my hand presses out my groaning in a continual stream.” But this is an extraordinary sense to put on the phrase “to lie heavy upon.” Others, assuming that the text is corrupt, make alterations more or less serious in words, as “His hand” for “my hand” in the second clause. So already the Sept.

Job 23:2 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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