Job 3:11
Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?
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Job 3:11-12. Why died I not from the womb? — It would surely have been far better, and much happier for me, had I either expired in the womb where I received my life, or it had been taken from me the very moment my eyes saw the light of this world. Why did the knees prevent me? — Why did the midwife or nurse receive and lay me upon her knees, and not suffer me to fall upon the bare ground, till death had taken me out of this sorrowful world, into which their cruel kindness hath betrayed me? Why did the breasts prevent me from perishing through hunger, or supply me that I should have what to suck? — Thus Job unthankfully despises these wonderful mercies of God toward poor, helpless infants.

3:11-19 Job complained of those present at his birth, for their tender attention to him. No creature comes into the world so helpless as man. God's power and providence upheld our frail lives, and his pity and patience spared our forfeited lives. Natural affection is put into parents' hearts by God. To desire to die that we may be with Christ, that we may be free from sin, is the effect and evidence of grace; but to desire to die, only that we may be delivered from the troubles of this life, savours of corruption. It is our wisdom and duty to make the best of that which is, be it living or dying; and so to live to the Lord, and die to the Lord, as in both to be his, Ro 14:8. Observe how Job describes the repose of the grave; There the wicked cease from troubling. When persecutors die, they can no longer persecute. There the weary are at rest: in the grave they rest from all their labours. And a rest from sin, temptation, conflict, sorrows, and labours, remains in the presence and enjoyment of God. There believers rest in Jesus, nay, as far as we trust in the Lord Jesus and obey him, we here find rest to our souls, though in the world we have tribulation.Why died I not from the womb? - Why did I not die as soon as I was born? Why were any pains taken to keep me alive? The suggestion of this question leads Job in the following verses into the beautiful description, of what he would have been if he had then died. He complains, therefore, that any pains were taken by his friends to keep him alive, and that he was not suffered peacefully to expire.

Gave up the ghost - A phrase that is often used in the English version of the Bible to denote death; Genesis 49:33; Job 11:20; Job 14:10; Jeremiah 15:9; Matthew 27:50; Acts 5:10. It conveys an idea, however, which is not necessarily in the original, though the idea in itself is not incorrect. The idea conveyed by the phrase is that of yielding up the "spirit" or "soul," while the sense of the original here and elsewhere is simply "to expire, to die."

9. dawning of the day—literally, "eyelashes of morning." The Arab poets call the sun the eye of day. His early rays, therefore, breaking forth before sunrise, are the opening eyelids or eyelashes of morning. From the womb, i.e. as soon as ever I was born, or come out of the womb. And the same thing is expressed in other words, which is an elegancy usual both in the Hebrew and in other languages.

Why died I not from the womb?.... That is, as soon as he came out of it; or rather, as soon as he was in it, or from the time that he was in it; or however, while he was in it, that so he might not have come alive out of it; which sense seems best to agree both with what goes before and follows after; for since his conception in the womb was not hindered, he wishes he had died in it; and so some versions render it to this sense (n):

why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly? since he died not in the womb, which was desirable to him, he wishes that the moment he came out of it he had expired, and is displeased because it was not so, see Jeremiah 20:17; thus what is the special favour of Providence, to be taken out of the womb alive, and preserved, he wishes not to have enjoyed, see Psalm 22:9.

(n) , Sept. "in vulva", V. L. "aut, in utero", Beza, Mercerus, Cocceius, Junius, Michaelis; so R. Abraham Peritzol, and Simeon Bar Tzemach.

{h} Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?

(h) This, and that which follows declares, that when man gives place to his passions, he is not able to stay or keep measure, but runs headlong into all evil unless God calls him back.

11–19. Would God I had died from my birth

If he must be born, Job asks, Why he did not die from the womb? his eye turning to the next possibility and chance of escaping sorrow. Had he died he would have been at peace; and the picture of the painless stillness of death fascinates him and he dwells long on it, counting over with a minute particularity all classes, kings and prisoners, slaves and masters, small and great, who there drink deep of a common peace, escaping the unquietness of life, for life upon the earth, however lived, is full of a painful restlessness. The thought of this stillness of death brings a certain calm to the sufferer’s mind, and the passionateness of his former words subsides.

Verse 11. - Why died I not from the womb? "From the womb" must mean, "as soon as I came out of the womb," not "while I yet remained within it" (comp. Jeremiah 20:17, "Because he slew me not from the womb"). Many of the ancients thought that it was best not to be born; and next best, if one were born, to quit the earth as soon as possible. Herodotus says that with the Trauri, a tribe of Thracians, it was the custom, whenever a child was born, for all its kindred to sit round it in a circle, and weep for the woes that it would have to endure now that it was come into the world; while, on the other hand, whenever a person died, they buried him with laughter and rejoicings, since they said that he was now free from a host of sufferings, and enjoyed the completest happiness (Herod., 5:4). Sophocles expresses the feeling with great terseness and force: Μὴ φῦναι τὸν ἅπαντα νικᾷ λόγον τὸ δ ἐπεὶ φαςῆ βῆναι κεῖθεν ὅθεν περ ἥκει πολὺ δεύτερον ὡστάχιστα (Ed. Col., 1225-1228): "Not to be born is best of all; once born, next best it is by far to go back there from whence one came as speedily as possible." Modern pessimism sums up all in the phrase that "life is not worth living." Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly? As so often, the second clause of the distich repeats the idea of the first, merely varying the phraseology. Job 3:1110 Because it did not close the doors of my mother's womb,

Nor hid sorrow from my eyes.

11 Why did I not die from the womb,

Come forth from the womb and expire?

12 Why have the knees welcomed me?

And why the breasts, that I should suck?

The whole strophe contains strong reason for his cursing the night of his conception or birth. It should rather have closed (i.e., make the womb barren, to be explained according to 1 Samuel 1:5; Genesis 16:2) the doors of his womb (i.e., the womb that conceived concepit him), and so have withdrawn the sorrow he now experiences from his unborn eyes (on the extended force of the negative, vid., Ges. 152, 3). Then why, i.e., to what purpose worth the labour, is he then conceived and born? The four questions, Job 3:11., form a climax: he follows the course of his life from its commencement in embryo (מרהם, to be explained according to Jeremiah 20:17, and Job 10:18, where, however, it is מן local, not as here, temporal) to the birth, and from the joy of his father who took the new-born child upon his knees (comp. Genesis 50:23) to the first development of the infant, and he curses this growing life in its four phases (Arnh., Schlottm.). Observe the consecutio temp. The fut. אמוּת has the signification moriebar, because taken from the thought of the first period of his conception and birth; so also ואגוע, governed by the preceding perf., the signification et exspirabam (Ges. 127, 4, c). Just so אינק, but modal, ut sugerem ea.

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