Job 31:38
If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(38) Or that the furrows likewise thereof complain.—Rather, Or if the furrows thereof weep together—a strong impersonation to express the consequence of oppression and wrong-doing. It is to be observed that throughout this defence Job has far more than traversed the indictment of his friends. He has shown that he has not only not broken the moral law, as they insinuated, but, much more, has shown himself exemplary in all the relations of life, so that, according to the narrator of the history, he was not only one that feared God and eschewed evil (Job 1:1), but also was perfect, i.e., of sincere and consistent conduct and upright.

Job 31:38-40. If my land cry against me — To wit, to God, for revenge,

(as the like phrase signifies, Genesis 4:10; Habakkuk 2:11,) because I have gotten it from the right owners by fraud or violence, as my friends accuse me. If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money — Either without paying the price required by the right owner of the land, or by defrauding the workmen of the wages of their labours. Or have caused the owners to lose their life — Killing them, that I might have undisturbed possession of it, as Ahab did Naboth. The words of Job are ended — To wit, in answer to his friends: for he speaks but little afterward, and that is to God. 31:33-40 Job clears himself from the charge of hypocrisy. We are loth to confess our faults, willing to excuse them, and to lay the blame upon others. But he that thus covers his sins, shall not prosper, Pr 28:13. He speaks of his courage in what is good, as an evidence of his sincerity in it. When men get estates unjustly, they are justly deprived of comfort from them; it was sown wheat, but shall come up thistles. What men do not come honestly by, will never do them any good. The words of Job are ended. They end with a bold assertion, that, with respect to accusation against his moral and religious character as the cause for his sufferings, he could appeal to God. But, however confident Job was, we shall see he was mistaken, chap. 40:4,5; 1Jo 1:8. Let us all judge ourselves; wherein we are guilty, let us seek forgiveness in that blood which cleanseth from all sin; and may the Lord have mercy upon us, and write his laws in our hearts!If my land cry against me - This is a new specification of an offence, and an imprecation of an appropriate punishment if he had been guilty of it. Many have supposed that these closing verses have been transferred from their appropriate place by an error of transcribers, and that they should have been inserted between Job 31:23-24 - or in some previous part of the chapter. It is certain that Job 31:35-37 would make an appropriate and impressive close of the chapter, being a solemn appeal to God in reference to all the specifications, or to the general tenor of his life; but there is no authority from the MSS. to make any change in the present arrangement. All the ancient versions insert the verses in the place which they now occupy, and in this all versions agree, except, according to Kennicott, the Teutonic version, where they are inserted after Job 31:25. All the MSS. also concur in the present arrangement.

Schultens supposes that there is manifest pertinency and propriety in the present arrangement. The former specification, says he, related mainly to his private life, this to his more public conduct; and the design is to vindicate himself from the charge of injustice and crime in both respects, closing appropriately with the latter. Rosenmuller remarks that in a composition composed in an age and country so remote as this, we are not to look for or demand the observance of the same regularity which is required by the modern canons of criticism. At all events, there is no authority for changing the present arrangement of the text. The meaning of the phrase "if my land cry out against me" is, that in the cultivation of his land he had not been guilty of injustice. He had not employed those to till it who had been compelled to do it, nor had he imposed on them unreasonable burdens, nor had he defrauded them of their wages. The land had not had occasion to cry out against him to God, because fraud or injustice had been done to any in its cultivation; compare Genesis 4:10; Hab. ii. 11.

Or that the furrows likewise thereof complain - Margin, weep. The Hebrew is, "If the furrows weep together," or "in like manner weep." This is a beautiful image. The very furrows in the field are personified as weeping on account of injustice which would be done them, and of the burdens which would be laid on them, if they were compelled to contribute to oppression and fraud.

38. Personification. The complaints of the unjustly ousted proprietors are transferred to the lands themselves (Job 31:20; Ge 4:10; Hab 2:11). If I have unjustly acquired lands (Job 24:2; Isa 5:8).

furrows—The specification of these makes it likely, he implies in this, "If I paid not the laborer for tillage"; as Job 31:39, "If I paid him not for gathering in the fruits." Thus of the four clauses in Job 31:38, 39, the first refers to the same subject as the fourth, the second is connected with the third by introverted parallelism. Compare Jas 5:4, which plainly alludes to this passage: compare "Lord of Sabaoth" with Job 31:26 here.

To wit, to God for revenge, as the like phrase is used, Genesis 4:10 Habakkuk 2:11, because I have gotten it from the right owners by fraud or violence, as my friends charge me, and as is implied in the next verse. If my land cry against me,.... Some think that this verse and Job 31:39 stand out of their place, and should rather follow after Job 31:34; and some place them after Job 31:25; and others after Job 31:8; but this is the order of them in all copies and versions, as they stand in our Bibles; and here, after Job had expressed his desire to have a hearer and judge of his cause, and his charge exhibited in writing, and his confidence of the issue of it, should it be granted, returns to his former subject, to clear himself from any notorious vice he was suspected of or charged with; and as he had gone through what might respect him in private life, here he gives another instance in public life, with which he concludes; namely, purging himself from tyranny and oppression, with which his friends had charged him without any proof; and he denies that the land he lived on was possessed of, and of which he was the proprietor, cried against him as being unjustly gotten, either by fraud or by force, from others; or as being ill used by him either as being too much cultivated, having never any rest, or lying fallow; and so much weakened and drained of its strength, or neglected and overrun with weeds, thorns, and thistles; or on account of the dressers and tillers of it being badly dealt with, either overworked, or not having sufficiency of food, or their wages, detained from them; all which are crying sins, and by reason of which the land by a figure may be said to cry out as the stone out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber, because of the sins of spoil, violence, oppression, and covetousness, Habakkuk 2:11;

or that the furrows likewise thereof complain; or "weep" (a), on account of the like ill usage. Jarchi, and so the Midrash, interpret this of not allowing the forgotten sheaf and corner of the field to the poor, and detaining the tithes; and of ploughing and making furrows with an ox and an ass together; but the laws respecting these things were not yet in being; and if they had been, were only binding on Israelites, and not on Job, and the men of his country.

(a) "defleant", Pagninus, Montanus; "flent", Beza, Piscator, Cocceius, &c.

If my land {d} cry against me, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain;

(d) As though I had withheld their wages that laboured in it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
38. The literal meaning of the figurative expressions in this verse is given in Job 31:39. The land, unjustly seized, is supposed to cry out to heaven against the cruelty and wrong done its true owner from whom it had been robbed (“without money,” Job 31:39). The land and its rightful owner have a common cause, it feels and weeps over the injury he has suffered.

38–40. Job resumes his protestations, imprecating a curse upon his lands if he have acquired them unjustly, and wishing that they may bring forth weeds instead of grain.

38.  If my land cry out against me,

And the furrows thereof weep together;

39.  If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money,

And caused the soul of its owners to expire:

40.  Let thistles, &c.Verses 38-40. - It is generally supposed that these verses, with the exception of the last clause of ver. 40, are misplaced. As a termination, they form an anti-climax, and greatly weaken the peroration. Their proper place would seem to be between vers. 32 and 33. Verse 38. - If my land cry against me; i.e. if my land disclaim my ownership, as having been acquired by wrong or robbery. If the furrows likewise thereof complain; or, weep, as having been torn from their rightful proprietors, and seized by a stranger. The apodosis is in ver. 40. 31 If the people of my tent were not obliged to say:

Where would there be one who has not been satisfied with his flesh?! -

32 The stranger did not lodge out of doors,

I opened my door towards the street.

Instead of אמרוּ, it might also be יאמרוּ (dicebant); the perf., however, better denotes not merely what happens in a general way, but what must come to pass. The "people of the tent" are all who belong to it, like the Arab. ahl (tent, metonym. dwellers in the tent), here pre-eminently the servants, but without the expression in itself excluding wife, children, and relations. The optative מי־יתּן, so often spoken of already, is here, as in Job 31:35; Job 14:4; Job 29:2, followed by the acc. objecti, for נשׂבּע is part. with the long accented a (quis exhibebit or exhibeat non saturatum), and מבּשׂרו is not meant of the flesh of the person (as even the lxx in bad taste renders: that his maids would have willingly eaten him, their kind master, up from love to him), but of the flesh of the cattle of the host. Our translation follows the accentuation, which, however, perhaps proceeds from an interpretation like that of Arnheim given above. His constant and ready hospitality is connected with the mention of his abundant care and provision for his own household. It is unnecessary to take ארח, with the ancient versions, for ארח, or so to read it; לארח signifies towards the street, where travellers are to be expected, comp. Pirke aboth i.:5: "May thy house be open into the broad place (לרוחה), and may the poor be thy guests." The Arabs pride themselves on the exercise of hospitality. "To open a guest-chamber" is the same as to establish one's own household in Arabic. Stories of judgments by which the want of hospitality has been visited, form an important element of the popular traditions of the Arabs.

(Note: In the spring of 1860 - relates Wetzstein - as I came out of the forest of Glan, I saw the water of Rm lying before us, that beautiful round crater in which a brook that runs both summer and winter forms a clear but fishless lake, the outflow of which underground is recognised as the fountain of the Jordan, which breaks forth below in the valley out of the crater Tell el-Kadi; and I remarked to my companion, the physician Regeb, the unusual form of the crater, when my Beduins, full of astonishment, turned upon me with the question, "What have you Franks heard of the origin of this lake?" On being asked what they knew about it, they related how that many centuries ago a flourishing village once stood here, the fields of which were the plain lying between the water and the village of Megdel Shems. One evening a poor traveller came while the men were sitting together in the open place in the middle of the village, and begged for a supper and a resting-place for the night, which they refused him. When he assured them that he had eaten nothing since the day before, an old woman amidst general laughter reached out a gelle (a cake of dried cow-dung, which is used for fuel), and drove him out of the village. Thereupon the man went to the village of Nimra (still standing, south of the lake), where he related his misfortune, and was taken in by them. The next morning, when the inhabitants of Nimra woke, they found a lake where the neighbouring village had stood.)

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