Job 3:24
For my sighing comes before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 3:24. For my sighing cometh before I eat — Hebrew, before the face of my bread. Instead of enjoying the satisfaction of being refreshed with the common necessaries that are afforded us, and taking any pleasure in eating and drinking, which are granted for comfort as well as sustenance, my cries and tears are my meat and drink. And my roarings are poured out like the waters — So severe is my pain, and so great my anguish, that the agonies and outcries, which are extorted from me, are of no common sort: they are deep and noisy; hideous and frightful, and such as may be compared to the loud roarings of a lion. And though I strive, and take much pains, to check and silence them, yet I find it is to no purpose; for they force their way with irresistible violence and incessant continuance, in great abundance; like so many sudden and impetuous streams of waters, when a river breaks its banks and overflows the adjacent grounds.3:20-26 Job was like a man who had lost his way, and had no prospect of escape, or hope of better times. But surely he was in an ill frame for death when so unwilling to live. Let it be our constant care to get ready for another world, and then leave it to God to order our removal thither as he thinks fit. Grace teaches us in the midst of life's greatest comforts, to be willing to die, and in the midst of its greatest crosses, to be willing to live. Job's way was hid; he knew not wherefore God contended with him. The afflicted and tempted Christian knows something of this heaviness; when he has been looking too much at the things that are seen, some chastisement of his heavenly Father will give him a taste of this disgust of life, and a glance at these dark regions of despair. Nor is there any help until God shall restore to him the joys of his salvation. Blessed be God, the earth is full of his goodness, though full of man's wickedness. This life may be made tolerable if we attend to our duty. We look for eternal mercy, if willing to receive Christ as our Saviour.For my sighing cometh before I eat - Margin, "My meat." Dr. Good renders this," Behold! my sighing takes the place of my daily food, and refers to Psalm 42:3, as an illustration:

My tears are my meat day and night.

So substantially Schultens renders it, and explains it as meaning, "My sighing comes in the manner of my food," "Suspirium ad modum panis veniens" - and supposes it to mean that his sighs and groans were like his daily food; or were constant and unceasing. Dr. Noyes explains it as meaning, "My sighing comes on when I begin to eat, and prevents my taking my daily nourishment;" and appeals to a similar expression in Juvenal. Sat. xiii. 211:

Perpetua anxietas, nec mensae tempore cessat.

Rosenmuller gives substantially the same explanation, and remarks, also, that some suppose that the mouth, hands, and tongue of Job were so affected with disease, that the effort to eat increased his sufferings, and brought on a renewal of his sorrows. The same view is given by Origen; and this is probably the correct sense.

And my roarings - My deep and heavy groans.

Are poured out like the waters - That is,

(1) "in number" - they were like rolling billows, or like the heaving deep.

(2) Perhaps also in "sound" like them. His groans were like the troubled ocean, that can be heard afar. Perhaps, also,

(3.) he means to say that his groans were attended with "a flood of tears," or that his tears were like the waves of the sea.

There is some hyperbole in the figure, in whichever way it is understood; but we are to remember that his feelings were deeply excited, and that the Orientals were in the habit of expressing themselves in a mode, which to us, of more phlegmatic temperament, may seem extravagant in the extreme. We have, however, a similar expression when we say of one that "he burst into a "flood of tears.""

24. my sighing cometh before I eat—that is, prevents my eating [Umbreit]; or, conscious that the effort to eat brought on the disease, Job must sigh before eating [Rosenmuller]; or, sighing takes the place of good (Ps 42:3) [Good]. But the first explanation accords best with the text.

my roarings are poured out like the waters—an image from the rushing sound of water streaming.

Before I eat, Heb. before the face of my bread, i.e. either when I am going to eat, or rather, all the time whilst I am eating, (for so this phrase is used Psalm 72:5, before the face of the sun, &c.; that is, as we translate it, as long as the sun endureth,) I fall into bitter passions of sighing and weeping; partly because my necessity and duty obligeth me to eat, and so to support this wretched life, which I long to lose; and principally because of my uninterrupted pains of body, and horrors of my mind, which mix themselves with my very meat, and do not afford me one quiet moment. Compare Psalm 102:9.

My roarings, i.e. my loud outcries, more befitting a lion than a man, which yet extremity of grief forceth from me. Compare Psalm 22:1 32:3.

Like the waters, i.e. with great abundance, and irresistible violence, and incessant continuance, as waters flow in a river, or when they break the banks, and overflow the ground. For my sighing cometh before I eat,.... Or, "before my bread", or "food" (g); before he sat down to eat, or had tasted of his food, there were nothing but sighing and sobbing, so that he had no appetite for his food, and could take no delight in it; and, while he was eating, his tears mingled with it, so that these were his meat and his drink continually, and he was fed with the bread and water of affliction; and therefore what were light and life to such a person, who could not have the pleasure of one comfortable meal?

and my roarings are poured out like the waters; he not only wept privately and in secret, and cried more publicly both to God and in the presence of men, but such was the force and weight of his affliction, that he even roared out, and that like a lion; and his afflictions, which were the cause of these roarings, are compared to waters and the pouring of them out; for the noise these waterspouts made, and for the great abundance of them, and for their quick and frequent returns, and long continuance, one wave and billow rolling upon another.

(g) "ante cibum meum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "ante panem meum", Cocceius, Schmidt, Michaelis.

For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. before I eat] lit. before my meat, as margin. The temporal meaning of before gives no sense here. In 1 Samuel 1:16 the same expression occurs, “Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial.” Therefore render, my sighing cometh for (instead of, or, like) my meat; it is his constant, daily food.

like the waters] Rather, like water, i. e. a broad, unbroken stream.

25, 26, the thing which I feared] These two verses read thus,

For let me fear an evil, and it cometh upon me,

And whatsoever I dread, it overtakes me;

I have no ease, neither quiet nor rest,

But trouble cometh.

The whole passage from Job 3:20 describes Job’s present condition. The speaker says, if he but imagines an evil, if he but “fears a fear,” it is immediately upon him. The words are put hypothetically in the past tense: Have I feared a fear, it cometh upon me; but the reference cannot be to the real past, as in the English Version, because it would be contrary to the idea of the poem to suppose that Job even in the days of his golden prime was haunted with indefinite fears of coming misfortune. On the contrary the picture he gives of himself, ch. 29, shews that his piety reflected itself in a full and trustful peace of mind; see his own words ch. Job 16:12, Job 29:18 seq.

Job 3:26 means that Job has no pause between the waves of his affliction, no time to recover from one before another overwhelms him.

“Trouble” here is the fit or paroxysm of trouble.

Job’s three friends sat silent before him seven days. Then Job spake and cursed his day. His speech opened his friends’ mouths and probably also their eyes. Job’s language and demeanour were not what they would have looked for from one in his condition. His violent complaints and his indirect allusions to Heaven were not only unbecoming in themselves, but cast an unwelcome light upon his past life. Job speaks no doubt with the passion of despair and in the bitterness of his misery, and his indirect allusions to God betray impatience and are uttered with a tone of resentment, though there is as yet no direct charge of injustice against God, only an impatient demand why He continues life to one in such misery. His tone of mind is very different from that exhibited when his trials had newly befallen him or when he replied to the suggestions of his wife. And it is this tone, suggesting so much more than it expressed, that the three friends lay hold of and attach their exhortations to, and which is thus the point out of which the whole succeeding debate developes itself.Verse 24. - For my sighing cometh before I eat literally, before my meat; i.e. "more early and more constantly than my food" (Professor Lee). And my roarings are poured out. The word translated "roaring" is used primarily of the roar of a lion (Zechariah 11:3; comp. Amos 3:8); secondarily, of the loud cries uttered by men who suffer pain (see Psalm 22:1; Psalm 32:4). (On the loud cries of Orientals when suffering from grief or pain, see the comment on Job 2:12.) Like the waters; i.e. freely and copiously, without let or stint. Perhaps the loud sound of rushing water is also alluded to. 17 There the wicked cease from troubling,

And the weary are at rest.

18 The captives dwell together in tranquillity;

They hear not the voice of the taskmaster.

19 The small and great, - they are alike there;

And the servant is free from his lord.

There, i.e., in the grave, all enjoy the rest they could not find here: the troublers and the troubled ones alike. רגן corresponds to the radical idea of looseness, broken in pieces, want of restraint, therefore of Turba (comp. Isaiah 57:20; Jeremiah 6:7), contained etymologically in רשׁע. The Pilel שׁאנן vid., Ges. 55, 2) signifies perfect freedom from care. In הוּא שׁם, הוּא is more than the sign of the copula (Hirz., Hahn, Schlottm.); the rendering of the lxx, Vulg., and Luther., ibi sunt, is too feeble. As it is said of God, Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 43:13; Psalm 102:28, that He is הוּא, i.e., He who is always the same, ὁ αὐτός; so here, הוּא, used purposely instead of המּה, signifies that great and small are like one another in the grave: all distinction has ceased, it has sunk to the equality of their present lot. Correctly Ewald: Great and small are there the same. יחד, Job 3:18, refers to this destiny which brings them together.

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