Job 3:16
Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Untimely birth.—Another condition which would have relieved him from the experience of suffering.

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.Or as an hidden untimely birth - As an abortion which is hid, or concealed; that is, which is soon removed from the sight. So the Psalmist, Psalm 58:8 :

As a snail which melteth, let thom dissolve;

As the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.

Septuagint ἔκτρωμα ektrōma, the same word which is used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:8, with reference to himself; see the notes at that place.

I had not been - I should have perished; I should not have been a man, as I now am, subject to calamity. The meaning is, that he would have been taken away and concealed, as such an untimely birth is, and that he would never have been numbered among the living and the suffering.

As infants which never saw light - Job expresses here no opinion of their future condition, or on the question whether such infants had immortal souls. He is simply saying that his lot would have been as theirs was, and that he would have been saved from the sorrows which he now experienced.

16. untimely birth—(Ps 58:8); preferable to the life of the restless miser (Ec 6:3-5). Hidden; undiscerned and unregarded.

Untimely birth; born before the due time, and therefore extinct.

I had not been, to wit, in the land of the living, of which he here speaketh.

As infants which never saw light; being stifled and dead before they were born.

Or as an hidden untimely birth,.... Or "hid, as one born out of time", as Mr. Broughton reads it; the Septuagint use the same word as the apostle does, when he says the like of himself, 1 Corinthians 15:8; the word has the signification of "falling" (s), and designs an abortive, which is like to fruit that falls from the tree before it is ripe; and this may be said to be "hidden", either in the belly, as the Targum, or however from the sight of man, it being not come to any proper shape, and much less perfection; now Job suggests, that if he had not lain with kings, counsellors, and princes, yet at least he should have been as an abortion, and that would have been as well to him: then

I had not been; or should have been nothing, not reckoned anything; should not have been numbered among beings, but accounted as a nonentity, and should have had no subsistence or standing in the world at all:

as infants which never saw light; and if not like an untimely birth, which is not come to any perfection, yet should have been like infants, which, though their mothers have gone their full time with them, and they have all their limbs in perfection and proportion, yet are dead, or stillborn, their eyes have never been opened to see any light; meaning not the light of the law, as the Targum, but the light of the sun, or the light of the world, see Ecclesiastes 6:3; infants used to be buried in the wells or caves of the mummies (t).

(s) "sicut abortivus qui ex utero excidit, aut in terram cadit", Michaelis. (t) Vansleb, ut supra, (Relation of a Voyage to Egypt,) p. 90.

Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. With strong revulsion from the anguish of life Job desires even if possible a deeper death than to have died when born, even the death of having been dead born, scarcely to be distinguished from non-existence itself. Comp. Ecclesiastes 4:2-3, with Plumptre’s notes and citations from the classics.

Verse 16. - Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light. This is added as another way in which Job might have escaped his misery. Though conceived and brought to the birth, he might have been still-born, and so have known no suffering. Job 3:1613 So should I now have lain and had quiet,

I should have slept, then it would have been well with me,

14 With kings and councillors of the earth,

Who built ruins for themselves,

15 Or with princes possessing gold,

Who filled their houses with silver:

16 Or like a hidden untimely birth I had not been,

And as children that have never seen the light.

The perf. and interchanging fut. have the signification of oriental imperfecta conjunctivi, according to Ges. 126, 5; עתּה כּי is the usual expression after hypothetical clauses, and takes the perf. if the preceding clause specifies a condition which has not occurred in the past (Genesis 31:42; Genesis 43:10; Numbers 22:29, Numbers 22:33; 1 Samuel 14:30), the fut. if a condition is not existing in the present (Job 6:3; Job 8:6; Job 13:19). It is not to be translated: for then; כי rather commences the clause following: so I should now, indeed then I should. Ruins, הרבות, are uninhabited desolate buildings, elsewhere such as have become, here such as are from the first intended to remain, uninhabited and desolate, consequently sepulchres, mausoleums; probably, since the book has Egyptian allusions, in other passages also, a play upon the pyramids, in whose name (III-XPAM, according to Coptic glossaries) III is the Egyptian article (vid., Bunsen, Aeg. ii. 361); Arab. without the art. hirâm or ahrâm (vid., Abdollatf, ed. de Sacy, p. 293, s.).

(Note: We think that חרבות sounds rather like חרמות, the name of the pyramids, as the Arabic haram (instead of hharam), derived from XPAM, recalls harmân (e.g., beith harmân, a house in ruins), the synonym of hhardân (חרבאן).)

Also Renan: Qui se btissent des mausoles. Bttch. de inferis, 298 (who, however, prefers to read רחבות, wide streets), rightly directs attention to the difference between החרבות בנה (to rebuild the ruins) and לו בנה ח (to build ruins for one's self). With או like things are then ranged after one another. Builders of the pyramids, millionaires, abortions (vid., Ecclesiastes 6:3), and the still-born: all these are removed from the sufferings of this life in their quiet of the grave, be their grave a "ruin" gazed upon by their descendants, or a hole dug out in the earth, and again filled in as it was before.

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