Job 3:5
Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell on it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Stain.—Literally, redeemi.e., claim as their rightful inheritance. The other meaning enters into this word, as in Isaiah 63:3; Malachi 1:7.

Blackness of the dayi.e., preternatural darkness, inopportune and unexpected darkness, like that of eclipses, &c.

Job 3:5. Let darkness and the shadow of death — Let the most dismal darkness, like that of the place of the dead, which is a land of darkness, and where the light is darkness, Job 10:21-22; or darkness so gross and palpable, that its horrors are insupportable; stain it — Take away its beauty and glory, and render it abominable as a filthy thing; or, rather, challenge or claim it, as the word יגאלהו, jigaluhu, here used, may properly be rendered, the verb גאל, gaal, signifying, primarily, to avenge, redeem, rescue, deliver, claim, possess. Indeed, as Houbigant justly observes, “There enters nothing of pollution into the idea of darkness.” Let a cloud dwell upon it, &c. — Let the thickest clouds wholly possess it, and render it terrible to men. Dr. Waterland renders the last clause, Let the blackness make it hideous.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.Let darkness and the shadow of death - The Hebrew word צלמות tsalmâveth is exceedingly musical and poetical. It is derived from צל tsêl, "a shadow," and מות mâveth, "death;" and is used to denote the deepest darkness; see the notes at Isaiah 9:2. It occurs frequently in the sacred Scriptures; compare Job 10:21-22; Psalm 23:4; Job 12:22; Job 16:16; Job 24:17; Job 34:22; Job 38:17; Amos 5:8; Jeremiah 2:6. It is used to denote the abode of departed spirits, described by Job as "a land of darkness, as darkness itself; of the shadow of death without any order, and where the light is as darkness;" Job 10:21-22. The idea seems to have been, that "death" was a dark and gloomy object that obstructed all light, and threw a baleful shade afar, and that that melancholy shade was thrown afar over the regions of the dead. The sense here is, that Job wished the deepest conceivable darkness to rest upon it.

Stain it - Margin, or "challenge." Vulgate, "obscure it." Septuagint, "take or occupy it," Ἐκλάβοι Eklaboi, Dr. Good, "crush it." Noyes, "redeem it." Herder, "seize it." This variety of interpretation has arisen in part from the twofold signification of the word used here, גאל gā'al. The word means either to "redeem," or to "defile," "pollute," "stain." These senses are not very closely connected, and I know not how the one has grown out of the other, unless it be that redemption was accomplishcd with blood, and that the frequent sprinkling of blood on an altar rendered it defiled, or unclean. In one sense, blood thus sprinkled would purify, when it took away sin; in another, it would render an object unclean or polluted. Gesenius says, that the latter signification occurs only in the later Hebrew. If the word here means to "redeem," the sense is, that Job wished darknessto resume its dominion over the day, and rcdeem it to itself, and thus wholly to exclude the light.

If the word means to defile or pollute, the sense is, that he desired the death-shade to stain the day wholly black; to take out every ray of light, and to render it wholly obscure. Gesenius renders it in the former sense. The sense which Reiske and Dr. Good give to the word, "crush it," is not found in the Hebrew. The word means to defile, stain, or pollute, in the following places, namely,: it is rendered "pollute" and "polluted" in Malachi 1:7, Malachi 1:12; Zephaniah 3:1; Lamentations 4:14; Ezra 2:62; Nehemiah 7:64; "defile" or "defiled" in Isaiah 59:3; Daniel 1:8; Nehemiah 13:29; and "stain" in Isaiah 63:3. It seems to me that this is the sense here, and that the meaning has been well explained by Schultens, that Job wished that his birthday should be involved in a deep "stain," that it should be covered with clouds and storms, and made dark and dismal. This imprecation referred not only to the day on which he was born, but to each succeeding birthday. Instead of its being on its return a bright and cheerful day, he wished that it might be annually a day of tempests and of terrors; a day so marked that it wouId excite attention as especially gloomy and inauspicious. It was a day whose return conveyed no pleasure to his soul, and which he wished no one to observe with gratitude or joy.

Let a cloud dwell upon it - There is, as Dr. Good and others have remarked, much sublimity iu this expression. The Hebrew word rendered "a cloud" עננה ‛ănânâh occurs nowhere else in this form. It is the feminine form of the word ענן ‛ânân, "a cloud," and is used "collectively" to denote "clouds;" that is, clouds piled on clouds; clouds "condensed, impacted, heaped together" (Dr. Good), and hence, the gathered tempest, the clouds assembled deep and dark, and ready to burst forth in the fury of a storm. Theodotion renders it συννεφέα sunnefea, "assembled clouds;" and hence, "darkness," The Septuagint renders it γνόφος gnophos, "tempest," or "thick darkness." So Jerome, "caligo." The word rendered "dwell upon it" שׁכן shâkan, means properly to "settle down," and there to abide or dwell. Perhaps the original notion was that of fixing a tent, and so Schultens renders it, "tentorium figat super eo Nubes," "Let the cloud pitch its tent over it;" rendered by Dr. Good, "The gathered tempest pavilion over it!" "This is an image," says Schultens, "common among the Arabs." The sense is, that Job wished clouds piled on clouds to settle down on the day permanently, to make that day their abode, and to involve it in deep and eternal night.

Let the blackness of the day terrify it - Margin, "Or, Let them terrify it as those who have a bitter day." There has been great variety in the interpretation of this passage. Dr. Good renders it, "The blasts of noontide terrify it." Noyes, "Let whatever darkens the day terrify it." Herder, "The blackness of misfortune terrify it." Jerome, Et involvatur amaritudine, "let it be involved in bitterness." The Septuagint, καταραθείη ἡ ἡμέρα katarathein hē hēmera, "let the day be cursed." This variety has arisen from the difficulty of determining the sense of the Hebrew word used here and rendered "blackness," כמרירים kı̂mrı̂yrı̂ym. If it is supposed to be derived from the word כמר kâmar, to be warm, to be hot, to burn, then it would mean the deadly heats of the day, the dry and sultry blasts which prevail so much in sandy deserts. Some writers suppose that there is a reference here to the poisonous wind Samum or Samiel, which sweeps over those deserts, and which is so much dreaded in the beat of summer. "Men as well as animals are often suffocated with this wind. For during a great heat, a current of air often comes which is still hotter; and when human beings and animals are so exhausted that they almost faint away with the heat, it seems that this little addition quite deprives them of breath. When a man is suffocated with this wind, or when, as they say, his heart is burst blood is said to flow from his nose and ears two hours after his death. The body is said to remain long warm, to swell, to turn blue and green, and if the arm or leg is taken hold of to raise it up, the limb is said to come off."

Burder's Oriental customs, No. 176. From the testimony of recent travelers, however, it would seem that the injurious effects of this wind have been greatly exaggerated. If this interpretation be the true one, then Job wished the day of his birth to be frightful and alarming, as when such a poisonous blast should sweep along all day, and render it a day of terror and dread. But this interpretation does not well suit the parallelism. Others, therefore, understand by the word, "obscurations," or whatever darkens the day. Such is the interpretation of Gesenius, Bochart, Noyes, and some others. According to this, the reference is to eclipses or fearful storms which cover the day in darkness. The noun here is not found elsewhere; but the "verb" כמר kâmar is used in the sense of being black and dark in Lain. v. 10: "Our skin was black like an oven, because of the terrible famine;" or perhaps more literally, "Our skin is scorched as with a furnace, from the burning heat of famine."

That which is burned becomes black, and hence, the word may mean that which is dark, obscure, and gloomy. This meaning suits the parallelism, and is a sense which the Hebrew will bear. Another interpretation regards the Hebrew letter כ (k) used as a prefix before the word כמרירים kı̂mrı̂yrı̂ym "bitterness," and then the sense is, "according to the bitterness of the day;" that is, the greatest calamities which can happen to a day. This sense is found in several of the ancient versions, and is adopted by Rosenmuller. To me it seems that the second interpretation proposed best suits the connection, and that the meaning is, that Job wished that everything which could render the day gloomy and obscure might rest upon it. The Chaldee adds here," Let it be as the bitterness of day - the grief with which Jeremiah was afflicted in being cut off from the house of the sanctuary, and Jonah in being cast into the sea of Tarshish."

5. Let … the shadow of death—("deepest darkness," Isa 9:2).

stain it—This is a later sense of the verb [Gesenius]; better the old and more poetic idea, "Let darkness (the ancient night of chaotic gloom) resume its rights over light (Ge 1:2), and claim that day as its own."

a cloud—collectively, a gathered mass of dark clouds.

the blackness of the day terrify it—literally, "the obscurations"; whatever darkens the day [Gesenius]. The verb in Hebrew expresses sudden terrifying. May it be suddenly affrighted at its own darkness. Umbreit explains it as "magical incantations that darken the day," forming the climax to the previous clauses; Job 3:8 speaks of "cursers of the day" similarly. But the former view is simpler. Others refer it to the poisonous simoom wind.

Darkness and the shadow of death, i.e. a black and dark shadow, like that of the place of the dead, which is a land of darkness, and where the light is darkness, as Job explains this very phrase, Job 10:21,22; or so gross and palpable darkness, that by its horrors and damps may take away men’s spirits and lives.

Stain it, i.e. take away its beauty and glory, and make it abominable, as a filthy thing. Or,

challenge it, i.e. take and keep the entire possession of it, so as the light may not have the least share in it.

Terrify it, to wit, the day, i.e. men in it. Let it be always observed as a frightful and dismal day. Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it,.... Let there be such darkness on it as on persons when dying, or in the state of the dead; hence the sorest afflictions, and the state of man in unregeneracy, are compared unto it, Psalm 23:4; let there be nothing but foul weather, dirt, and darkness in it, which may make it very uncomfortable and undesirable; some render the word, "let darkness and the shadow of death redeem it" (z), challenge and claim it as their own, and let light have no share or property in it:

let a cloud dwell upon it; as on Mount Sinai when the law was given; a thick dark cloud, even an assemblage of clouds, so thick and close together, that they seem but one cloud which cover the whole heavens, and obscure them, and hinder the light of the sun from shining on the earth; and this is wished to abide not for an hour or two, but to continue all the day:

let the blackness of the day terrify it; let it be frightful to itself; or rather, let the blackness be such, or the darkness of it such gross darkness, like that as was felt by the Egyptians; that the inhabitants of the earth may be terrified with it, as Moses and the Israelites were at Mount Sinai, at the blackness, tempest, thunders, and lightnings, there seen and heard: as some understand this of black vapours exhaled by the sun, with which the heavens might be filled, so others of sultry weather and scorching heat, which is intolerable: others render the words, "let them terrify it as the bitternesses of the day" (a); either with bitter cursings on it, or through bitter calamities in it; or, "as those who have a bitter (b) day", as in the margin of our Bibles, and in others.

(z) "vindicassent", Junius & Tremellius; "vendicent", Cocceius; "vindicent", Schultens. (a) "tanquam amaritudines dici", Schmidt, Michaelis; "velut amarulenta diei", Schultens; so the Targum. (b) "Velut amari diei", Mercerus; "tanquam amari diei", Montanus.

Let darkness and the {e} shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.

(e) That is, most obscure darkness, which makes them afraid of death that they are in it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. shadow of death stain it] Rather, claim it, lit. redeem it. Let it become part of the possession of darkness. The word, however, does not mean reclaim, as if the idea were that the day had been won from darkness by light and was to be reconquered. The translation “shadow of death” possibly rests on a false etymology; at the same time it is perhaps the best that can be given, and Hitzig’s conjecture that the Hebrews themselves came to see the word “death” in the termination of the form may not be far astray, comp. Job 38:17. The word originally means “deepest darkness.”

the blackness of the day] lit. blacknesses. The word probably means “all that makes black the day,” eclipses, supernatural obscurations and the like—all ominous darknesses that terrify a day.Verse 5. - Let darkness and the shadow of death. "The shadow of death" (צלמות) is a favourite expression in the Book of Job, where it occurs no fewer than nine times. Elsewhere it is rare, except in the Psalms, where it occurs four times. It is thought to be an archaic word. Stain it; rather, claim it, or claim it for their own (Revised Version). Let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it. The hot, stifling "blackness" of the khamsin wind is probably meant, which suddenly turns the day into night, spreading all around a thick lurid darkness. When such a wind arises, we are told, "The sky instantly becomes black and heavy; the sun loses its splendour, and appears of a dim violet hue; a light, warm breeze is felt, which gradually increases in heat till it almost equals that of an oven. Though no vapour darkens the air, it becomes so grey and thick with the floating clouds of impalpable sand, that it is sometimes necessary to use candles at noonday" (Russell, 'Ancient and Modern Egypt,' p. 55). Their Arrival:

12 And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and threw dust upon their heads toward heaven.

They saw a form which seemed to be Job, but in which they were not able to recognise him. Then they weep and rend their outer garments, and catch up dust to throw up towards heaven (1 Samuel 4:12), that it may fall again upon their heads. The casting up of dust on high is the outwards sign of intense suffering, and, as von Gerlach rightly remarks, of that which causes him to cry to heaven.

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