To him that is afflicted pity should be showed from his friend; but he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)But he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.—It is difficult to determine the precise relation of dependent clauses in an archaic language like the Hebrew; but the Authorised Version is, at all events, not correct here, the sense rather being, “Even to one that forsaketh the fear of the Almighty;” or, perhaps, better still, “lest he should forsake;” or, “he may even forsake,” &c.Job 6:14. To him that is afflicted — Hebrew, To him that is melted, or dissolved with afflictions: or, as Dr. Waterland renders it, To one that is wasting away; pity should be showed from his friend — His friend, such as thou, O Eliphaz, pretendest to be to me, should show kindness and compassion in his judgment of him, and behaviour toward him, and not pass such unmerciful censures upon him as thou hast passed upon me, nor load him with reproaches; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty — Thou hast no love or pity for thy friend; a plain evidence that thou art guilty of what thou didst charge me with, even of the want of the fear of God. The least which those that are at ease can do for them that are pained, is to pity them, to feel a tender concern for them, and to sympathize with them.
Pity should be showed from his friend - Good renders this, "shame to the man who despiseth his friend." A great variety of interpretations have been proposed of the passage, but our translation has probably expressed the true sense. If there is any place where kindness should be shown, it is when a man is sinking under accumulated sorrows to the grave.
But he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty - This may be either understood as referring to the language which Job says they had used of him - charging him with forsaking the fear of God, instead of consoling him; or it may mean that they had forsaken the fear of God in reproaching him, and in failing to comfort him; or it may mean that if such kindness were not shown to a friend in trial, he would be left to cast off the fear of God. This last interpretation is adopted by Noyes. Good supposes that it is designed to be a severe reproach of Eliphaz, for the course which he had pursued. It seems to me that this is probably the correct interpretation, and that the particle ו (v) here is used in an adversative sense, meaning that while it was an obvious dictate of piety to show kindness to a friend, Eliphaz had forgotten this obligation, and had indulged himself in a strain of remark which could not have been prompted by true religion. This sentiment he proceeds to illustrate by one of the most beautiful comparisons to be found in any language.To him that is afflicted, Heb. to him that is melted or dissolved with afflictions, or in the furnace of afflictions; that is, in extreme miseries; for such persons are said to be melted, as Psalm 22:14 107:26 119:28 Nahum 2:10.
From his friend: his friend, such as thou, O Eliphaz, pretendest to be to me, should show kindness, benignity, and compassion in his judgment of him, and carriage towards him, and not pass such unmerciful and heavy censures upon him, nor load him with reproaches.
But he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty; but thou hast no love or pity for thy neighbour and friend; which is a plain evidence that thou art guilty of that which thou didst charge me with, even with the want of the fear of God; for didst thou truly fear God, thou couldst not, and durst not, be so unmerciful to thy brother, both because God hath severely forbidden and condemned that disposition and carriage, and because God is able to punish thee for it, and mete unto thee the same hard measure which thou meetest to me. But this verse is and may be otherwise rendered, Should a reproach (for so the Hebrew chesed oft signifies) be laid upon him that is afflicted by his friend, even that he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty? Should my friend have fastened such a reproach upon me, than which none is worse, that I am an impious man, and destitute of the fear of God, Job 4:6-8. This he mentions, as that which was most grievous and intolerable to him. Proverbs 14:34; and the reproach on Job was, that he had cast off the fear of God, Job 4:6. This grieved him most of all, and added to his affliction, and of which he complains as very cruel usage; and very cutting it was that he should be reckoned a man destitute of the fear of God, and that because he was afflicted by him; though rather the following words:
but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty, are a charge upon his friend Eliphaz for not showing pity to him in his affliction, which was tacitly forsaking the fear of God. Job here recriminates and retorts the charge of want of the fear of God on Eliphaz himself; for to show mercy to an afflicted friend is a religious act, a part of pure and undefiled religion, a branch of the fear of God; and he that neglects it is so far wanting in it, and acts contrary to his profession of God, of fear of him, and love to him; see James 1:26; or "otherwise he forsakes", &c. (f).
(c) "liquefacto", Vatablus, Mercerus, Beza; so Ben Gersom. (d) "Cujus liquescit benignitas", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, "qui misericordia erga amicum contabescit", Schultens. (e) Mercerus, Vatablus, so Ben Gersom. Some interpret it as a charge that he forsakes both mercy and the fear of the Lord; so R. Simeon Bar Tzemach, Sephorno, and Ben Melech. (f) So Pagninus & Beza.To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. The most probable sense of the verse is this:—
Kindness from his friend is due to him that is despairing,
To him that is forsaking the fear of the Almighty.
The sense of the second clause proposed by some, else he will forsake the fear, is good in itself, but the language hardly admits it. The word “kindness” has the sense of reproach, Proverbs 14:34 (the verb, Proverbs 25:10, put to shame), and some adopt this sense here: if reproach from his friend fall upon him that is despairing, he will forsake the fear, &c. The word, however, is not used elsewhere in the Book of Job in this sense, and the interpretation destroys the strong antithesis between this verse and the opening words of the next, my brethren, &c.
14–30. Job’s sorrowful disappointment at the position taken up towards him by his three friends
Job had freely expressed his misery in ch. 3, believing that the sympathies of his friends were entirely with him. He is
a brother noble,
Whose nature is so far from doing harms
That he suspects none.
Lear, i. 2.
And more sorrowful to him than any cold, critical words which they have uttered is the feeling that his friends have taken up such a position against him. This was what he had not looked for. And his disappointment is like that of the thirsty caravan that finds the long-looked-for waters dried up in the heat. Every emotion seems now to find a place in Job’s mind in succession. First, his disappointment, expressed in this beautiful figure, is mixed with the feeling how unworthy his friends’ conduct was. They had not acted to him as men do to one who is, as he describes himself, “despairing” and “losing hold of the fear of the Almighty.” Kindness is due to such a one, but they had turned against him from sheer feebleness of spirit, because they saw that his calamity was from God, Job 6:14-21.
Second, this mixed sadness and contempt passes into sarcasm when he tells them that he could have understood their fear if he had asked anything from them—even one’s friends must not be put under that strain—but he sought only sympathy, Job 6:22-23.
Third, this sarcasm then gives place to a direct appeal of great severity, in which he demands that they should shew him the sins at which they had indirectly hinted, and wonders at their superficial captiousness in fastening on the mere excited words of a man in despair; adding in terms of bitter invective that their disposition was so hard that they would cast lots for the orphan and make market of their own friend, Job 6:24-27.
Finally, he challenges them to seek the explanation of his afflictions on other principles than the supposition of his guiltiness, asking them whether, in asserting his innocence, he would lie in their faces, and if he was not able to say whether his calamities were deserved or not? Job 6:28-30.Verse 14. - To him that is afflicted pity should be showed from his friend. Job begins here the third head of his reply to Eliphaz, in which he attacks him and his companions. The first duty of a comforter is to compassionate his afflicted friend, to condole with him, and show his sympathy with his sufferings. This is what every one looks for and expects as a matter of course. But Job has looked in vain. He has received no pity, no sympathy. Nothing has been offered him but arguments. And what arguments! How do they touch the point? How are they anything more than a venting of the speaker's own self-righteousness? Let them fairly consider his case, and point out to him where he has been blamable. But he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty; rather, even though he forsake the fear of the Almighty, or else might he forsake the fear of the Almighty. Job certainly does not mean to admit that he has renounced the fear of God, and become an apostate from religion; but only to assert, either, that, even had he done so, his friends ought still to have shown him kindness, or else that their not showing him kindness is the very way to drive him to apostasy.
And that Eloah would grant my expectation,
9 That Eloah were willing and would crush me,
Let loose His hand and cut me off:
10 Then I should still have comfort -
(I should exult in unsparing pain) -
That I have not disowned the words of the Holy One.
His wish refers to the ending of his suffering by death. Hupfeld prefers to read ותאותי instead of ותקותי (Job 6:8); but death, which he desires, he even indeed expects. This is just the paradox, that not life, but death, is his expectation. "Cut me off," i.e., my soul or my life, my thread of life (Job 27:8; Isaiah 38:12). The optative יתּן מי (Ges. 136, 1) is followed by optative futt., partly of the so-called jussive form, as יאל, velit (Hiph. from ואל, velle), and יתּר, solvat (Hiph. from נתר). In the phrase יד התּיר, the stretching out of the hand is regarded as the loosening of what was hitherto bound. The conclusion begins with וּתהי, just like Job 13:5. But it is to be asked whether by consolation speedy death is to be understood, and the clause with כּי gives the ground of his claim for the granting of the wish, - or whether he means that just this: not having disowned the words of the Holy One (comp. Job 23:11., and אמרי־אל in the mouth of Balaam, the non-Israelitish prophet, Numbers 24:4, Numbers 24:16), would be his consolation in the midst of death. With Hupfeld we decide in favour of the latter, with Psalm 119:50 in view: this consciousness of innocence is indeed throughout the whole book Job's shield and defence. If, however, נחמתי (with Kametz impurum) points towards כּי, quod, etc., the clause ואסלּדה is parenthetical. The cohortative is found thus parenthetical with a conjunctive sense also elsewhere (Psalm 40:6; Psalm 51:18). Accordingly: my comfort - I would exult, etc. - would be that I, etc. The meaning of סלד, tripudiare, is confirmed by the lxx ἡλλόμην, in connection with the Arabic ṣalada (of a galloping horse which stamps hard with its fore-feet), according to which the Targ. also translates ואבוּע (I will rejoice).
(Note: The primary meaning of סלד, according to the Arabic, is to be hard, then, to tread hard, firm, as in pulsanda tellus; whereas the poetry of the synagogue (Pijut) uses סלּד in the signification to supplicate, and סלד, litany (not: hymn, as Zunz gives it); and the Mishna-talmudic סלד signifies to singe, burn one's self, and to draw back affrighted.)
For יחמל לא, comp. Isaiah 30:14. (break in pieces unsparingly). יחמל לא certainly appears as though it must be referred to God (Ew., Hahn, Schlottm., and others), since חילה sounds feminine; but one can either pronounce חילה equals חיל as Milel (Hitz.), or take יחמל לא adverbially, and not as an elliptical dependent clause (as Ges. 147, rem. 1), but as virtually an adjective: in pain unsparing.
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