Job 3:1 Commentaries: Afterward Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.
Job 3:1
After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
III.

(1) After this opened Job his mouth.—There is a striking similarity between this chapter and Jeremiah 20:14-18, so much so that one must be borrowed from the other; the question is, which is the original? Is Jeremiah the germ of this? or is this the tree from which a branch has been hewn by Jeremiah? Our own conviction is that Job is the original, inasmuch as this chapter is indispensable to the development of the poem; but in Jeremiah the passage occurs casually as the record of a passing mood of despair. It is, moreover, apparently clear that Jeremiah is quoting Job as he might quote one of the Psalms or any other writing with which he was familiar. He was applying to daily life the well-known expression of a patriarchal experience, whereas in the other case the words of Job would be the ideal magnifying of a commonplace and realistic experience.

Job 3:1. After this Job opened his mouth — The days of mourning being now over, and no hopes appearing of Job’s amendment, but his afflictions rather increasing, he bursts into a severe lamentation; he wishes he had never existed, or that his death had immediately followed his birth; life under such a load of calamity appearing to him the greatest affliction. Undoubtedly Satan, who had been permitted to bring the fore-mentioned calamities upon him, and to torment his body so dreadfully, had also obtained liberty to assault his mind with various and powerful temptations. This he now does with the utmost violence, injecting hard thoughts of God, as being severe, unjust, and his enemy; that he might shake his confidence and hope, and produce that horror and dismay, which might issue in his cursing God. For, as is justly observed by Mr. Scott, unless we bring these inward trials into the account, during which we may conclude that he was deprived of all comfortable sense of God’s favour, and filled with a dread of his wrath, we shall not readily apprehend the reason of the change that took place in his conduct, from the entire resignation manifested in the preceding chapters, to the impatience which appears here, and in some of the subsequent parts of this book. But this consideration solves the difficulty: the inward conflict and anguish of his mind, added to all his outward sufferings, caused the remaining corruption of his nature to work so powerfully, that at length it burst forth in many improper expressions. And cursed his day — His birth-day, as is evident from Job 3:3. In vain do some endeavour to excuse this and the following speeches of Job, who afterward is reproved by God, and severely accuses himself for them, Job 38:2; Job 40:4; Job 42:3; Job 42:6. And yet he does not proceed so far as to curse God, and therefore makes the devil a liar: but although he does not break forth into direct reproaches of God, yet he makes indirect reflections upon his providence. His curse was sinful, both because it was vain, being applied to what was not capable of receiving blessing or cursing, and because it reflected blame on God for bringing that day into existence, and for giving him life on that day. Some other pious persons, through a similar infirmity, when immersed in deep troubles, have vented their grief in the same unjustifiable way. See Jeremiah 20:14.3:1-10 For seven days Job's friends sat by him in silence, without offering consolidation: at the same time Satan assaulted his mind to shake his confidence, and to fill him with hard thoughts of God. The permission seems to have extended to this, as well as to torturing the body. Job was an especial type of Christ, whose inward sufferings, both in the garden and on the cross, were the most dreadful; and arose in a great degree from the assaults of Satan in that hour of darkness. These inward trials show the reason of the change that took place in Job's conduct, from entire submission to the will of God, to the impatience which appears here, and in other parts of the book. The believer, who knows that a few drops of this bitter cup are more dreadful than the sharpest outward afflictions, while he is favoured with a sweet sense of the love and presence of God, will not be surprised to find that Job proved a man of like passions with others; but will rejoice that Satan was disappointed, and could not prove him a hypocrite; for though he cursed the day of his birth, he did not curse his God. Job doubtless was afterwards ashamed of these wishes, and we may suppose what must be his judgment of them now he is in everlasting happiness.After this - Dr. Good renders this, "at length." It means after the long silence of his friends, and after he saw that there was no prospect of relief or of consolation.

Opened Job his mouth - The usual formula in Hebrew to denote thc commencement of a speech; see Matthew 5:2. Schultens contends that it means boldness and vehemency of speech, παῤῥησία parrēsia, or an opening of the mouth for the purpose of accusing, expostulating, or complaining; or to begin to utter some sententious, profound, or sublime maxim; and in support of this he appeals to Psalm 78:2, ard Proverbs 8:6. There is probably, however nothing more intended than to begin to speak. It is in accordance with Oriental views, where an act of speaking is regarded as a grave and important matter, and is entered on with much deliberation. Blackwell (Life of Homer, p. 43) remarks that the Turks, Arabs, Hindoos, and the Orientals in general, have little inclination to society and to general conversation, that they seldom speak, and that their speeches are sententious and brief, unless they are much excited. With such men, to make a speech is a serious matter, as is indicated by the manner in which their discourses are commonly introduced: "I will open my mouth," or they "opened the mouth," implying great deliberation and gravity. This phrase occurs often in Homer, Hesiod, Orpheus, and in Virgil (compare Aeneid vi. 75), as well as in the Bible. See Burder, in Rosenmuller's Morgenland, "in loc."

And cursed his day - The word rendered "curse" here, קלל qâlal is different from that used in Job 1:11; Job 2:9. It is the proper word to denote "to curse." The Syriac adds, "the day in which he was born." A similar expression occurs in Klopstock's Messias, Ges. iii.

Wenn nun, aller Kinder beraubt, die verzweifelude Mutter,

Wuthend dem Tag. an dem sie gebahr, und gebohren ward, fluchet.

"When now of all her children robbed, the desperate mother enraged

Curses the day in which she bare, and was borne."

CHAPTER 3

THE POEM OR DEBATE ITSELF (Job 3:2-42:6). FIRST SERIES IN IT (Job 3:1-14:22). JOB FIRST (Job 3:1-26).

Job 3:1-19. Job Curses the Day of His Birth and Wishes for Death.

1. opened his mouth—The Orientals speak seldom, and then sententiously; hence this formula expressing deliberation and gravity (Ps 78:2). He formally began.

cursed his day—the strict Hebrew word for "cursing:" not the same as in Job 1:5. Job cursed his birthday, but not his God.Job curseth the day and services of his birth, Job 3:1-12. The ease and honours of death, Job 3:13-19. Life in anguish matter of complaint, Job 3:20-24. What he feared is now come upon him, Job 3:25,26.

He spake freely and boldly, as this phrase is used, Proverbs 31:8,9 Eph 6:19, and elsewhere,

and cursed his day, to wit, his birthday, as is evident from Job 3:3, which is called simply a man’s day, Hosea 7:5; which also some others, through the same infirmity, and in the same circumstances, have cursed, as we see, Jeremiah 20:14. In vain do some men endeavour to excuse this and the following speeches of Job, who afterwards is reproved by God and severely accuseth himself for them, Job 38:2 40:4 42:3,6. And yet he doth not proceed so far as to curse or blaspheme God, but makes the devil a liar in his prognostics. But although he doth not break forth into direct and downright reproaches of God, yet he makes secret and indirect reflections upon God’s providence. His curse was sinful, both because it was vain, being applied to an unreasonable thing, which was not capable of blessing and cursing, and to a day that was past, and so out of the reach of all curses; and because it was applied to one of God’s creatures, all which were and are in themselves very good, and pronounced blessed by God; and so they are, if we do not turn them into curses; and because it casts a blame upon God for bringing that day, and for giving him that life which that day brought into the world. He pronounceth that day an unhappy, woeful, and cursed day, not in itself, but with respect to himself.

After this opened Job his mouth,.... order to speak, and began to speak of his troubles and afflictions, and the sense he had of them; for though, this phrase may sometimes signify to speak aloud, clearly and distinctly, and with great freedom and boldness, yet here it seems to design no more than beginning to speak, or breaking silence after it had been long kept: be spake after his first trial and blessed the name of the Lord, and upon his second, and reproved his wife for her foolish speaking; but upon the visit of his three friends, and during the space of seven days, a profound silence was kept by him and them; and when he perceived that they chose not to speak to him, and perhaps his distemper also decreased, and his pain somewhat abated, he broke out into the following expressions:

and cursed his day: he did not curse his God, as Satan said he would, and his wife advised him to: nor did he curse his fellow creatures, or his friends, as wicked men in passion are apt to do, nor did he curse himself, as profane persons often do, when any evil befalls them; but he cursed his day; not the day on which his troubles came upon him, for there were more than one, and they were still continued, but the day of his birth, as appears from Job 3:3; and so the Syriac and Arabic versions add here, "in which he was born"; and what is meant by cursing it may be learnt from his own words in the following verses, the substance of which is, that he wished either it had never been, or he had never been born; but since that was impossible, that it might be forgotten, and never observed or had in esteem, but be buried oblivion and obscurity, and be branded with a black mark, as an unhappy day, for ever: the word (s) signifies, he made light of it, and spoke slightly and contemptibly of it; he disesteemed it, yea, detested it, and could not bear to think of it, and desired that it might be disrespected by God and men; so that there is no need of such questions, whether it is in the power of man to curse? and whether it is lawful to curse the creature? and whether a day is capable of a curse? The frame of mind in which Job was when he uttered these words is differently represented; some of the Jewish writers will have it that he denied the providence of God, and thought that all things depended upon the stars, or planets which rule on the day a man is born, and therefore cursed his stars; whereas nothing is more evident than that Job ascribes all that befell him to the purpose and providence of God, Job 23:14; some say he was in the utmost despair, and had no hope of eternal life and salvation, but the contrary to this is clear from Job 13:15; and many think he had lost all patience, for which he was so famous; but if he had, he would not have been so highly spoken of as he is in James 5:11; it is true indeed there may be a mixture of weakness with respect to the exercise of that grace at this time, and which may appear in some after expressions of his; yet were it not for these and the like, as we could not have such an idea of his sorrows and afflictions, and of that quick sense and perception he had of them, so neither of his exceeding great patience in enduring them as he did; and, besides, what impatience he was guilty of was not only graciously forgiven, but he through the grace of God was enabled to conquer; and patience had its perfect work in him, and he persevered therein to the end; though after all he is not to be excused of weakness and infirmity, since he is blamed not only by Elihu, but by the Lord himself; yea, Job himself owned his sin and folly, and repented of it, Job 40:4.

(s) "Opponitur verbum" "verbo" "significat se pronunciasse diem inglorium", Codurcus.

After this opened {a} Job his mouth, and {b} cursed his day.

(a) The seven days ended, Job 2:13.

(b) Here Job begins to feel his great imperfection in this battle between the spirit and the flesh, Ro 7:18 and after a manner yields yet in the end he gets victory though he was in the mean time greatly wounded.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. cursed his day] The day of his birth. Reverent minds have always found difficulty in accommodating themselves to the religious boldness of the Book of Job. A curious instance of this is given in the Catena of Greek interpreters on Job, where one writer interprets Job’s “day” to be the day when man fell from righteousness to sin. The same feeling has influenced the translation of Job 13:15 and Job 19:25.

1–10. Would God I had never been conceived or born

This is the idea really expressed when Job curses his day and wishes it blotted out of existence. First he curses the day of his birth and the night of his conception together, Job 3:3, and then each separately, the day in two verses and the night in four. Let darkness seize that day; let not God from above seek after it; let thick darkness and the shadow of death claim it as part of their heritage; let clouds and all that maketh black the day, eclipses, ominous obscurations, affright it, Job 3:4-5. Let darkness swallow up that night that it be not reckoned nor come in among the joyful troop of nights in their glittering procession; while other nights ring with birth-day gladness let it sit barren; let enchanters curse it; let it be endless, waiting always for a dawn that never breaks, Job 3:6-10.Verse 1. - After this opened Job his mouth. The first to take the word is Job, as, indeed, etiquette made necessary, when the visit paid was one of condolence. It can only be conjectured what the feelings were which had kept him silent so long. We may, perhaps, suggest that in the countenances and manner of his friends he saw something which displeased him, something indicative of their belief that he had brought his afflictions upon himself by secret sins of a heinous character. Pharisaism finds it very difficult to conceal itself; signs of it are almost sure to escape; often it manifests itself, without a word spoken, most offensively. The phrase, "opened his mouth," is not to be dismissed merely as a Hebraism. It is one used only on solemn occasions, and implies the utterance of deep thoughts, well considered beforehand (Psalm 78:21; Matthew 5:2), or of feelings long repressed, and now at length allowed expression. And cursed his day; "cursed," i.e., the "day of his birth." Some critics think that "cursed" is too strong a word, and suggest "reviled;" but it cannot be denied that "to curse" is a frequent meaning of קָלַל and it is difficult to see in Job's words (vers. 3-10) anything but a "curse" of a very intense character. To curse one's natal day is not, perhaps, a very wise act, since it can have no effect on the day or on anything else; but so great a prophet as Jeremiah imitated Job in this respect (Jeremiah 20:14-18), so that before Christianity it would seem that men were allowed thus to relieve their feelings. All that such cursing means is that one wishes one had never been born. The Working Out of the Commission:

7, 8 Then Satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah, and smote Job with sore boils, from the sole of his foot to his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself with, and sat in the midst of ashes.

The description of this disease calls to mind Deuteronomy 28:35 with Deuteronomy 28:27, and is, according to the symptoms mentioned further on in the book, elephantiasis so called because the limbs become jointless lumps like elephants' legs), Arab. jḏâm, ‛gudhâm, Lat. lepra nodosa, the most fearful form of lepra, which sometimes seizes persons even of the higher ranks. Artapan (C. Mller, Fragm. iii. 222) says, that an Egyptian king was the first man who died of elephantiasis. Baldwin, king of Jerusalem, was afflicted with it in a very dangerous form.

(Note: Vid., the history in Heer, De elephantiasi Graecorum et Arabum, Breslay, 1842, and coloured plates in Trait de la Spdalskhed ou Elephantiasis des Grecs par Danielssen et Boeck, Paris, 1848, translated from the Norwegian; and in Hecker, Elephantiasis oder Lepra Arabica, Lahr, 1858 (with lithographs). "The means of cure," says Aretus the Cappadocian (vid., his writings translated by Mann, 1858, S. 221), "must be more powerful than the disease, if it is to be removed. But what cure can be successfully applied to the fearful evil of elephantiasis? It is not confined to one part, either internally or externally, but takes possession of the entire system. It is terrible and hideous to behold, for it gives a man the appearance of an animal. Every one dreads to live, and have any intercourse, with such invalids; they flee from them as from the plague, for infection is easily communicated by the breath. Where, in the whole range of pharmacy, can such a powerful remedy be found?")

The disease begins with the rising of tubercular boils, and at length resembles a cancer spreading itself over the whole body, by which the body is so affected, that some of the limbs fall completely away. Scraping with a potsherd will not only relieve the intolerable itching of the skin, but also remove the matter. Sitting among ashes is on account of the deep sorrow (comp. Jonah 3:6) into which Job is brought by his heavy losses, especially the loss of his children. The lxx adds that he sat on a dunghill outside the city: the dunghill is taken from the passage Psalm 113:7, and the "outside the city" from the law of the מצרע. In addition to the four losses, a fifth temptation, in the form of a disease incurable in the eye of man, is now come upon Job: a natural disease, but brought on by Satan, permitted, and therefore decreed, by God. Satan does not appear again throughout the whole book. Evil has not only a personal existence in the invisible world, but also its agents and instruments in this; and by these it is henceforth manifested.

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