Job 30:21
You are become cruel to me: with your strong hand you oppose yourself against me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
30:15-31 Job complains a great deal. Harbouring hard thoughts of God was the sin which did, at this time, most easily beset Job. When inward temptations join with outward calamities, the soul is hurried as in a tempest, and is filled with confusion. But woe be to those who really have God for an enemy! Compared with the awful state of ungodly men, what are all outward, or even inward temporal afflictions? There is something with which Job comforts himself, yet it is but a little. He foresees that death will be the end of all his troubles. God's wrath might bring him to death; but his soul would be safe and happy in the world of spirits. If none pity us, yet our God, who corrects, pities us, even as a father pitieth his own children. And let us look more to the things of eternity: then the believer will cease from mourning, and joyfully praise redeeming love.Thou art become cruel to me - Margin, turned to be. This language, applied to God, seems to be harsh and irreverent, and it may well be inquired whether the word cruel does not express an idea which Job did not intend. The Hebrew word אכזר 'akzâr, is from an obsolete root כזר - not found in Hebrew. The Arabic root, nearly the same as this, means to break with violence; to rout as an enemy; then to be enraged. In the Syriac, the primary idea is, that of a soldier, and thence it may refer to such acts of violence as a soldier commonly commits. The word occurs in Hebrew in the following places, and is translated in the following manner. It is rendered "cruel" in Deuteronomy 32:33; Job 30:21; Proverbs 5:9; Proverbs 11:17; Proverbs 12:10; Proverbs 17:11; Proverbs 27:4; Isaiah 13:9; Jeremiah 6:23; Jeremiah 50:42; Jeremiah 30:14; and fierce in Job 41:10. Jerome renders it, mutatus mihi in crudelem - "thou art changed so as to become cruel to me;" the Septuagint renders it, ἀνελεημόως aneleēmonōs - unmerciful; Luther, Du bist mir verwandelt in einem Grausamen - "thou art changed to me into a cruel one;" and so Umbreit, Noyes, and translators generally. Perhaps the word fierce, severe or harsh, would express the idea; still it must be admitted that Job, in the severity of his sufferings, is often betrayed into language which cannot be a model for us, and which we cannot vindicate.

With thy strong hand - Margin, the strength. So the Hebrew. The hand is the instrument by which we accomplish anything; and hence, anything which God does is traced to his hand.

Thou opposest thyselph against me - - תשׂטמני tiśâṭamēniy. The word שׂטם śâṭam, means to lie in wait for anyone; to lay snares; to set a trap; see Job 16:9, where the same word occurs, and where it is rendered "who hateth me," but where it would be better rendered he pursues, or persecutes me. The meaning is, that God had become his adversary, or had set himself against him. There was a severity in his dealings with him as if he had become a foe.

20. stand up—the reverential attitude of a suppliant before a king (1Ki 8:14; Lu 18:11-13).

not—supplied from the first clause. But the intervening affirmative "stand" makes this ellipsis unlikely. Rather, as in Job 16:9 (not only dost thou refuse aid to me "standing" as a suppliant, but), thou dost regard me with a frown: eye me sternly.

Become cruel, Heb. turned to be cruel; as if thou hadst changed thy very nature, which is kind, and merciful, and gracious; and such thou hast been formerly in thy carriage to me; but now thou art grown severe, and rigorous, and inexorable.

Thou opposest thyself against me; thy power wherewith I hoped and expected that thou wouldst have supported me under my troubles thou usest against me. Thou art become cruel to me,.... Or "turned", or "changed" (g), to be cruel to me. Job suggests that God had been kind and gracious to him, both in a way of providence, and in showing special love and favour to him, in a very distinguishing manner; but now he intimates his affections were changed and altered, and these were alienated from him, and his love was turned into an hatred of him; this is one of the unbecoming expressions which dropped from his lips concerning God; for the love of God to his people is never changed; it remains invariable and unalterable, in all dispensations, in every state and condition into which they come; there may be some of God's dispensations towards them, which may have the appearance of severity in them; and he may make use of instruments to chastise them, which may use them cruelly; but even then his heart yearns towards them, and, being full of compassion, delivers out of their hands, and saves them, Jeremiah 30:14;

with thy strong hand thou opposest thyself against me; God has a strong hand and arm, and none like him, and sometimes he puts forth the strength of it, and exerts his mighty power in afflicting his people, and his hand presses them sore, and they can scarcely stand up under it; and then it becomes them to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, and patiently bear it; and sometimes they take him to be their adversary, an enemy unto them, and filled with hatred of them, indignation against them, setting himself with all his might and main to ruin and destroy them; and this is a sad case indeed, to have such apprehensions of God, though unjust ones; for, as if God be for us, who shall be against us? so if he be against us, it signifies little who is for us; for there is no contending with him, Job 9:3.

(g) "mutatus es", V. L. Tigurine version; "versus es", Beza, Piscator; so Drusius, Cocceius, Vatablus, Michaelis, Mercerus, Schultens.

Thou art become {o} cruel to me: with thy strong hand thou opposest thyself against me.

(o) He does not speak this way to accuse God, but to declare the vehemency of his affliction, by which he was carried beside himself.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 21. - Thou art become cruel to me; literally, thou art turned to be cruel to me. In other words, "Thou art changed to me, and art become cruel to me." Job never forgets that for long years God was gracious and kind to him, "made him and fashioned him together round about," "clothed him with skin and flesh, and fenced him with bones and sinews," "granted him life and favour, and by his visitation preserved his spirit" (Job 10:9-12); but the recollection brings, perhaps, as much of pain. as of pleasure with it. One of our poets says -

"Joy's recollection is no longer joy;
But sorrow's memory is a sorrow still."
At any rate, the contrast between past joy and present suffering adds a pang to the latter. With thy strong hand thou opposest thyself against me; literally, with the might of thy hand dost thou persecute me (see the Revised Version). "Haec noster irreverentius" (Schultens); comp. ch. 19:6-13. The figure of a siege, which is begun with Job 30:12 and continued in Job 30:13, leaves us in no doubt concerning פּרץ רחב and שׁאה. The Targ. translates: like the force of the far-extending waves of the sea, not as though פּרץ could in itself signify a stream of water, but taking it as equals פרץ מים, 2 Samuel 5:20 (synon. diffusio aquarum). Hitzig's translation:

(Note: Vid., Deutsche Morgenlnd. Zeitschr. ix. (1855), S. 741, and Proverbs, S. 11.)

"like a broad forest stream they come, like a rapid brook they roll on," gives unheard-of significations to the doubtful words. In Job 16:14 we heard Job complain: He (Eloah) brake through me על־פני־פרץ פרץ, breach upon breach, - by the divine decrees of sufferings, which are completed in this ill-treatment which he receives from good-for-nothing fellows, he is become as a wall with a wide-gaping breach, through which they rush in upon him (instar rupturae, a concise mode of comparison instead of tanquam per rupt.), in order to get him entirely into their power as a plaything for their coarse passions. שׁאה is the crash of the wall with the wide breaches, and תּחת שׁאה signifies sub fragore in a local sense: through the wall which is broken through and crashes above the assailants. There is no ground in Job 30:15 for dividing, with Umbreit, thus: He hath turned against me! Terrors drove away, etc., although this would not be impossible according to the syntax (comp. Genesis 49:22, בּנות צעדה). It is translated: terrors are turned against me; so that the predicate stands first in the most natural, but still indefinite, personal form, Ges. 147, a, although בּלּהות might also be taken as the accus. of the object after a passive, Ges. 143, 1. The subj. of Job 30:15 remains the same: they (these terrors) drive away my dignity like the wind; the construction is like Job 27:20; Job 14:19; on the matter, comp. Job 18:11. Hirz. makes כּרוּח the subj.: quasi ventus aufert nobilitatem meam, in which case the subj. would be not so much ventus as similitudo venti, as when one says in Arabic, 'gani kazeidin, there came to me one of Zeid's equals, for in the Semitic languages כּ has the manner of an indeclinable noun in the signification instar. But the reference to בלהות is more natural; and Hahn's objection, that calamity does not first, if it is there, drive away prosperity, but takes the place of that which is driven away, is sophisticated and inadequate, since the object of the driving away here is not Job's prosperity, but Job's נדיבה, appearance and dignity, by which he hitherto commanded the respect of others (Targ. רבּנוּתי). The storms of suffering which pass over him take this nobility away to the last fragment, and his salvation - or rather, since this word in the mouth of an extra-Israelitish hero has not the meaning it usually otherwise has, his prosperous condition (from Arab. wasi‛a, amplum esse) - is as a cloud, so rapidly and without trace (Job 7:9; Isaiah 44:22), passed away and vanished. Observe the music of the expression כּעב עברה, which cannot be reproduced in translation.

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