Job 30:24
Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave, though they cry in his destruction.
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(24) Though they cry in his destruction.—This is a very obscure verse. Some render it, “Surely against a ruinous heap he will not put forth his hand; though it be in his destruction one may utter a cry because of these things.” Others, understanding the word rendered “ruinous heap” otherwise, render “Howbeit, God will not put forth His hand to bring man to death and the grave when there is earnest prayer for them, nor even when in calamity proceeding from Him there is a loud cry for them:” that is to say, “I know that Thou wilt dissolve and destroy me, and bring me to the grave, though Thou wilt not do so when I pray unto Thee to release me by death from my sufferings. Thou wilt surely do so, but not in my time or according to my will, but only in Thine own appointed time, and as Thou seest fit.” This is one of those passages that may be regarded as hopelessly uncertain. Each reader will make the best sense he can of it, according to his judgment. That Job should speak of himself as a ruinous heap seems very strange; neither is it at all clear what “these things” are because of which a cry is uttered. Certainly the significance given by the other rendering is much greater. “His destruction” must mean, at all events, the destruction that cometh from Him; and if this is so, the sense given is virtually that of the Authorised Version.

Job 30:24. He will not stretch out his hand to the grave — This verse is judged by commentators to be very obscure. The sense of it probably is, Notwithstanding I earnestly wished for the grave as a place of rest, thou wilt not indulge me so far as to stretch out thy hand and give me my death- wound: or, thy hand (that is, the hand of God’s wrath) will not follow me beyond death and the grave: I shall then be safe and easy. Though they cry in his destruction — In the destruction brought on them by death; that is, though most men cry out and are affrighted while they are dying, while the body is sinking into destruction, yet I desire it; I have nothing to fear therein, since I know that my Redeemer liveth.

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.Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave - Margin, heap. In our common version this verse conveys no very clear idea, and it is quite evident that our translators despaired of giving it a consistent sense, and attempted merely to translate it literally. The verse has been rendered by every expositor almost in his own way; and though almost no two of them agree, yet it is remarkable that the versions given are all beautiful, and furnish a sense that agrees well with the scope of the passage. The Vulgate renders it, "But not to their consumption wilt thou send forth their hand; and if they fall, thou wilt save them." The Septuagint," For O that I could lay violent hands on myself, or beseech another, and he would do it for me Luther renders it, "Yet he shall not stretch out the hand to the charnelhouse, and they shall not cry before his destruction." Noyes:

"When he stretcheth out his hand, prayer

availeth nothing,

When he bringeth destruction, vain is the

Cry for help."

Umbreit renders it:

Nur mog' er nicht an den zerstorten HaufenHand anlegen!

Oder mussen jene selbst in ihremTode schreien?

"Only if he would not lay his hand upon theHeaps of the destroyed!

Or must these also cry out in their death?"

According to this interpretation, Job speaks here in bitter irony. "I would gladly die," says he, "if God would only suffer me to be quiet when I am dead." He would be willing that the edifice of the body should be taken down, provided the ruins might rest in peace. Rosenmuller gives the same sense as that expressed by Noyes. Amidst this variety of interpretation, it is by no means easy to determine on the true meaning of the passage. The principal difficulty in the exposition lies in the word בעי be‛ı̂y, rendered in the text "in the grave," and in the margin "heap." If that word is compounded of the preposition ב be and עי ‛ı̂y, it means literally, "in ruins, or in rubbish" - for so the word עי ‛ı̂y is used in Micah 1:6; Jeremiah 26:18; Micah 3:12; Psalm 79:1; Nehemiah 4:2, Nehemiah 4:10. But Gesenius supposes it to be a single word, from the obsolete root בעה, Chaldee בעא, "to pray, to petition"; and according to this the meaning is, "Yea, prayer is nought when he stretches out his hand; and in his (God's) destruction, their cry availeth not."

Prof. Lee understands the word (בעי be‛ı̂y) in the same sense, but gives a somewhat different meaning to the whole passage. According to him the meaning is, "Nevertheless, upon prayer thou wilt not lay thine hand; surely, when he destroyeth, in this alone there is safety." Schultens accords very nearly in the sentiment expressed by Umbreit, and renders it, "Yet not even in the tomb would he relax his hand, if in its destruction an alleviation were there." This sentiment is very strong, and borders on impiety, and should not be adopted if it is possible to avoid it. It looks as if Job felt that God was disposed to pursue his animosity even into the regions of the dead, and that he would have pleasure in carrying on the work of destruction and affliction in the ruins of the grave. After the most careful examination which I have been able to give of this difficult passage, it seems probable to me that the following is the correct sense.

Job means to state a general and important principle - that there was rest in the grave. He said he knew that God would bring him down there, but that would be a state of repose. The hand of God producing pain, would not reach there, nor would the sorrows experienced in this world be felt there, provided there had been a praying life. Notwithstanding all his afflictions, therefore, and his certain conviction that he would die, he had unwavering confidence in God. Agreeably to this, the following paraphrase will convey the true sense. "I know that he will bring me to the grave. Nevertheless (אך 'ak), over the ruins (בעי be‛ı̂y) - of my body, the ruins in the grave - "he will not stretch out his hand" - to afflict me there or to pursue those who lie there with calamity and judgment; if in his destruction (בפידו bepı̂ydô) - in the destruction or desolation which God brings upon people - among them (להן lâhên) - among those who are thus consigned to the ruins of the grave - there is prayer (שׁוע shûa‛); if there has been supplication offered to him, or a cry for mercy has gone up before him." This paraphrase embraces every word of the original; saves the necessity of attempting to change the text, as has been often done, and gives a meaning which accords with the scope of the passage, and with the uniform belief of Job, that God would ultimately vindicate him, and show that he himself was right in his government.

24. Expressing Job's faith as to the state after death. Though one must go to the grave, yet He will no more afflict in the ruin of the body (so Hebrew for "grave") there, if one has cried to Him when being destroyed. The "stretching of His hand" to punish after death answers antithetically to the raising "the cry" of prayer in the second clause. Maurer gives another translation which accords with the scope of Job 30:24-31; if it be natural for one in affliction to ask aid, why should it be considered (by the friends) wrong in my case? "Nevertheless does not a man in ruin stretch out his hand" (imploring help, Job 30:20; La 1:17)? If one be in his calamity (destruction) is there not therefore a "cry" (for aid)? Thus in the parallelism "cry" answers to "stretch—hand"; "in his calamity," to "in ruin." The negative of the first clause is to be supplied in the second, as in Job 30:25 (Job 28:17). There is great variety and difficulty in the sense and connexion of these words. They may be joined either,

1. With the following verse, as describing Job’s compassion to others in affliction, which by the principles of reason and religion should have procured him some pity from God and men in his affliction. And to that purpose the words are or may be translated thus: But was not my prayers for them (which words may be understood out of the following clause) when he stretched out his hand? (to wit, against them to destroy them;) in his destruction or oppression (understand it actively, i.e. when God was about to destroy any other man or men) was not (the negation being understood out of the former branch of the verse, as is usual) my cry for them? the feminine-gender being put for the masculine, as it is elsewhere; or for these things, the feminine being put for the neuter; that is, for those destructive calamities which were upon them. Or,

2. With the foregoing verse. And so these words contain either,

1. A consolation against the evil last mentioned: so the sense is, Though God will undoubtedly bring me to the grave by these torments, yet this comforts me, that surely he will not stretch out his hand (to wit, to afflict or punish me further, as this phrase is used, Exodus 3:20 Isaiah 9:12,13) in the grave, though they, i.e. the perishing persons, cry or roar (i.e. be sorely pained and tormented)

in his destruction, i.e. whilst God is destroying them. Or this last clause may be read interrogatively, Is there any cry in his destruction? When a man is cut off or destroyed by death, doth he then cry and complain? No, there is an end of all these miseries. Or rather,

2. A confirmation of what he last said. For the whole context shows that Job is not taking any comfort to himself, but rather aggravating his sufferings. I know, saith he, that I am a dead man, and my condition is desperate, for surely he, i.e. God, will not stretch out his hand (to wit, to save or rescue me, as this phrase is used, Psalm 18:17 144:7, compared with Acts 4:30) to or in the grave, (i.e. to a dead man, such as I am in effect, having not only one foot, but in a manner both feet, in the grave, as being upon the very brink of the pit,) though they cry (to wit, unto God, i.e. though there be a great and a general cry and lamentation for him among his friends, or others, and an earnest desire of him, if possibly he might be restored to life again) in his destruction, i.e. when he is destroyed or dead; yet all these cries would be in vain.

Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave,.... Or, "verily" (h), truly he will not, &c. I am well assured he never will, meaning either he never would stretch out his hand to shut up the grave; or rather keep it shut, and prevent Job from going down into it; or to open it, and fetch him out of it when in it: God is indeed able to do either of these, and has done it; sometimes, when persons are brought as it were to the gates of death and the grave, he says to them, Return; yea, when they are brought to the dust of death, he prevents them going into the grave, by restoring them to life before carried thither, as the Shunammite's son, 2 Kings 4:32; Jairus's daughter, Mark 5:41; and the widow's son of Nain, even when he was carrying to his grave, Luke 7:12; some have been laid in the grave, and God has stretched out his hand, and raised them up again; as the man that was laid in Elisha's grave, 2 Kings 13:21, and Lazarus after he had lain in the grave some days, John 11:39; but such things are not usually done; in common, when a man dies, and is laid in the grave, he rises not again, till the heavens be no more; and this Job was persuaded would be his case:

though they cry in his destruction; that is, though the friends and relations of the sick person, or the poor that he has been kind and bountiful unto, should cry unto God, while he is destroying him by the diseases upon him, and which threaten him with destruction, that he would spare his useful and valuable life; yet he is inexorable, and will not hear, but go on with what he intends to do, and takes him off by death, and lays him in the grave, "the pit of destruction", Psalm 55:23, so called because it wastes and consumes bodies laid in it; and when once laid there, all cries for a restoration to life again are vain and fruitless. Some take these words as expressed in a way of solace, as if Job comforted himself with this thought under his present afflictions, that, when once he was brought to death and the grave, there would be an end of all his sorrow; the hand of the Lord, that was now stretched out on him in a terrible way, would be no longer stretched out on him; he would then cease to afflict him, and he should be where the weary are at rest; and so the last clause is read with an interrogation, "is there any cry", or "do any cry, in his destruction?" (i); no, when death has done its office, and the body is laid in the grave, there is no more pain nor sorrow, nor crying; all tears are wiped away, and there is no more sense of afflictions and sufferings; they are all at an end. Mr. Broughton renders these words as to the sense the same, and as in connection with the following ones, "and prayed I not when plague was sent? when hurt came to any, thereupon cried I not?" and so do some others (k).

(h) "verum", Mercerus; profecto, Drusius, Bolducius; "sane", Tigurine version. (i) "aut clamant aliqui post obitum suum?" Tigurine version; "si in contritione ejus eis clamor?" Montanus, Bolducius. (k) Junius & Tremellius.

Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand {q} to the grave, though they cry in his destruction.

(q) No one can deliver me from there, though they lament my death.

24. This obscure verse may mean,

Yet doth not one stretch out the hand in his fall?

When he is destroyed doth he not because of this utter a cry?

The word fall is lit. heap, i. e. ruin. The verse, so interpreted means, Does not one stretch out his hand for help in his downfall? does he not when being destroyed, or, in his misfortune, utter a cry? Job explains how in his misery he cries unto God, it is the instinct of mankind. The following verse, referring to Job’s compassion when he saw others in trouble, suggests that he naturally looked for the same compassion to himself. The word cry (second clause), if referred to a different root, might mean riches (so ch. Job 36:19), and the verse would mean, surely one stretches not out his hand against a heap (of ruins), or, hath he riches from another’s (lit. his, or its) destruction? Job characterizes himself as a heap of ruins, and, appealing to the Almighty, argues that against such a thing one does not stretch out a hostile hand; neither does one derive advantage to himself from another’s calamity. This sense fits into Job 30:25 very well—Job, so far from increasing misfortune which he saw, commiserated and helped it.

Verse 24. - Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave, though they cry in his destruction. This is one of the most obscure passages in the entire Book of Job, and scarcely any two independent commentators understand it alike. To give all the different renderings, and discuss them, would be an almost endless task, and one over-wearisome to the reader. It will, per-Imps, suffice to select the one which to the present writer appears the most satisfactory. This is the rendering of Professor Stanley Leathes, who suggests the following: "Howbeit God will not put forth his hand to bring a man to death and the grave, when there is earnest prayer for them, not even when he himself hath caused the calamity." The same writer further explains the passage as follows: "I know that thou wilt dissolve and destroy me, and bring me to the grave (ver. 23), though thou wilt not do so when I pray to thee to release me by death from my sufferings. Thou wilt surely do so [some time or other], but not in my time, or according to my will, but only in thine own appointed time, and as thou seest fit." Job 30:2424 Doth one not, however, stretch out the hand in falling,

Doth he not raise a cry for help on that account in his ruin?

25 Or have I not wept for him that was in trouble,

Hath not my soul grieved for the needy? -

26 For I hoped for good, then evil came;

I waited for light, and darkness came.

27 My bowels boiled without ceasing,

Days of misery met me.

Most of the ancient versions indulge themselves in strange fancies respecting Job 30:24 to make a translatable text, or find their fancies in the text before them. The translation of the Targum follows the fancies of the Midrash, and places itself beyond the range of criticism. The lxx reads בי instead of בעי, and finds in Job 30:24 a longing for suicide, or death by the hand of another. The Syriac likewise reads בי, although it avoids this absurdity. Jerome makes an address of the assertion, and, moreover, also moulds the text under the influence of the Midrash. Aq., Symm., and Theod. strive after a better rendering than the lxx, but (to judge from the fragment in the Hexapla) without success. Saadia and Gecatilia wring a sense out of Job 30:24, but at the expense of the syntax, and by dragging Job 30:24 after it, contrary to the tenor of the words. The old expositors also advance nothing available. They mostly interpret it as though it were not להן, but להם (a reading which has been forced into the Midrash texts and some Codd. instead of the reading of the text that is handed down to us). Even Rosenm. thinks להן might, like the Ara. להון, be equivalent to להם; and Carey explains the enallage generis from the perhaps existing secondary idea of womanly fear, as 2 Samuel 4:6, הנּה instead of המּה is used of the two assassins to describe them as cowards. But the Hebr. להן is fem.; and often as the enallage masc. pro fem. occurs, the enallage fem. pro masc. is unknown; הנּה, 2 Samuel 4:6, is an adv. of place (vid., moreover, Thenius in loc.). It is just as absolutely inadmissible when the old expositors combine שׁוּע with ושׁע (ושׁע), or as e.g., Raschi with שׁעשׁע, and translate, "welfare" or "exhilaration" (refreshing). The signif. "wealth" would be more readily admissible, so that שׁוּע, as Aben-Ezra observes, would be the subst. to שׁוע, Job 34:19; but in Job 36:19 (which see), שׁוּע (as שׁוע Isaiah 22:5) signifies a cry of distress ( equals שׁוע), and an attempt must be made here with this meaning before every other.

On the other hand comes the question whether בעי is not perhaps to be referred to the verb בּעה, whether it be as subst. after the form מרי (Ralbag after the Targ.) or as part. pass. (Saad. Arab. gı̂r ‛nnh lı̂s 'l-mbtgan, "only that it is not desired"). The verb does not, indeed, occur elsewhere in the book of Job, but is very consistent with its style, which so abounds in Aramaisms, and is at the same time so coloured with Arabic that we should almost say, its Hauranitish style.

(Note: The Arab. verb bg' is still extensively used in Syria, and that in two forms: Arab. bg' ybgy and bg' ybg'. In Damascus the fut. i is alone used; whereas in Hauran and the steppe I have only found fut. a. Thus e.g., the Hauranite poet Ksim el-Chinn says: "The gracious God encompass thee with His favour and whatever thy soul desires (wa-l-nefsu ma tebghâ), it must obtain its desire" (tanûlu munâhû, in connection with which it is to be observed that Arab. bâl, fut. u is used here in the signification adipisci, comp. Fleischer on Job 15:29 [supra i. 270, note]). - Wetzst.)

Thus taking בעי as one word, Ralbag transl.: prayer stretched not forth the hand, which is intended to mean: is not able to do anything, cannot cause the will of God to miscarry. This meaning is only obtained by great violence; but when Renan (together with Bckel and Carey, after Rosenm.) translates: Vaines prires! tend sa main; quoi bon protester contre ses coups? the one may be measured with the other. If בעי is to be derived from בעי, it must be translated either: shall He, however, without prayer (sine imploratione), or: shall He, however, unimplored (non imploratus), stretch out His hand? The thought remains the same by both renderings of בעי, and suits as a vindication of the cry for help in the context. But בּעה, in the specific signification implorare, deprecari, is indeed the usage of the Targum, although strange to the Hebr., which is here so rich in synonyms; then, in the former case, לא for בלא is harsh, and in the other, בעי as part. pass. is too strong an Aramaism. We must therefore consider whether בעי as עי with the praep. בּ gives a suitable sense. Since שׁלח יד בּ, e.g., Job 28:9 and elsewhere, most commonly means "to lay the hand on anything, stretch out the hand to anything," it is most natural to take בעי in dependence upon ישׁלח ידו, and we really gain an impressive thought, if we translate: Only may He not stretch out His hand (to continue His work of destruction) to a heap of rubbish (which I am already become); but by this translation of Job 30:24, Job 30:24 remains a glaring puzzle, insoluble in itself and in respect of the further course of the thought, for Schlottmann's interpretation, "Only one does not touch ruins, or the ruin of one is the salvation of another," which is itself puzzling, is no solution. The reproach against the friends which is said to lie in Job 30:24 is contrary to the character of this monologue, which is turned away from his human opponents; then שׁוּע does not signify salvation, and there is no "one" and "another" to be found in the text. We must therefore, against our inclination, give up this dependent relation of בעי, so that בעי signifies either, upon a heap of rubbish, or, since this ought to be על־עי: by the falling in; עי (from עוה equals ‛iwj) can mean both: a falling in or overthrow (bouleversement) as an event, and ruins or rubbish as its result.

Accordingly Hirz. translates: Only upon the ruins (more correctly at least: upon ruins) one will not stretch out his hand, and Ew.: Only - does not one stretch out one's hand by one's overthrow? But this "only" is awkward. Hahn is of opinion that אך לא may be taken in the signification not once, and translates: may one not for once raise one's hand by one's downfall; but even this is lame, because then all connection with what precedes is wanting; besides, אך לא does not signify ne quidem. The originally affirmative אך has certainly for the most part a restrictive signification, which, as we observed on Job 18:21, is blended with the affirmative in Hebr., but it is also, as more frequently אכן, used adversatively, e.g., Job 16:7, and in the combination אך לא this adversative signification coincides with the restrictive, for this double particle signifies everywhere else: only not, however not, Genesis 20:12; 1 Kings 11:39; 2 Kings 12:14; 2 Kings 13:6; 2 Kings 23:9, 2 Kings 23:26. It would be more natural to translate, as we have stated above: only may be not, etc., but Job 30:24 puts in its veto against this. If, as Hirz., Ew., and Hahn also suppose, לא, Job 30:24, is equivalent to הלא, so that the sentence is to be spoken with an interrogative accent, we must translate אך as Jer. has done, by verumtamen. He knows that he is being hurried forth to meet death; he knows it, and has also already made himself so familiar with this thought, that the sooner he sees an end put to this his sorrowful life the better - nevertheless does one not stretch out one's hand when one is falling? This involuntary reaction against destruction is the inevitable result of man's instinct of self-preservation. It needs no proof that שׁלח יד can signify "to stretch out one's hand for help;" ישׁלח is used with a general subj.: one stretches out, as Job 17:5; Job 21:22. With this determination of the idea of Job 30:24, Job 30:24 is now also naturally connected with what precedes. It is not, however, to be translated, as Ew. and Hirz.: if one is in distress, is not a cry for help heard on account of it? If אם were intended hypothetically, a continuation of the power of the interrogative לא from Job 30:24 would be altogether impossible. Hahn and Loch-Reischl rightly take אם in the sense of an. It introduces another turn of the question: Does one, however, not stretch out one's hand to hasten the fall, or in his downfall (raise) a cry for help, or a wail, on that account? Dderlein's conjecture, לחן for להן (praying "for favour"), deserves respectful mention, but it is not needed: להן signifies neutrally: in (under) such circumstances (comp. בּהם, Job 22:21; Isaiah 64:5), or is directly equivalent to להן, which (Ruth 1:13) signifies propterea, and even in biblical Chaldee, beside the Chaldee signif. sed, nisi, retains this Hebrew signif. (Daniel 2:6, Daniel 2:9; Daniel 4:24). פּיד, which signifies dying and destruction (Talmud. in the peculiar signif.: that which is hewn or pecked open), synon. of איד, has been already discussed on Job 12:5.

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