Job 6:15
My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as the stream of brooks they pass away;
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(15) Have dealt deceitfully as a brook.—This is one of the most celebrated poetical similes in the book, and carries us to life in the desert, where the wadys, so mighty and torrent-like in the winter, are insignificant streams or fail altogether in summer. So when the writer saw the Gnadalquiver (or mighty wady) at Cordova, in August, it was a third-rate stream, running in many divided currents in its stony bed.

Job 6:15. My brethren — That is, my kinsmen, or three friends; for though Eliphaz only had spoken, the other two had shown their approbation of his discourse; have dealt deceitfully — Under a pretence of friendship dealing unmercifully with me, and adding to the afflictions which they said they came to remove. As the stream of brooks, &c. — Which quickly vanish and deceive the hopes of the thirsty traveller. It is no new thing for even brethren to deal deceitfully. It is therefore our wisdom to cease from man. We cannot expect too little from the creature, or too much from the Creator.

6:14-30 In his prosperity Job formed great expectations from his friends, but now was disappointed. This he compares to the failing of brooks in summer. Those who rest their expectations on the creature, will find it fail when it should help them; whereas those who make God their confidence, have help in the time of need, Heb 4:16. Those who make gold their hope, sooner or later will be ashamed of it, and of their confidence in it. It is our wisdom to cease from man. Let us put all our confidence in the Rock of ages, not in broken reeds; in the Fountain of life, not in broken cisterns. The application is very close; for now ye are nothing. It were well for us, if we had always such convictions of the vanity of the creature, as we have had, or shall have, on a sick-bed, a death-bed, or in trouble of conscience. Job upbraids his friends with their hard usage. Though in want, he desired no more from them than a good look and a good word. It often happens that, even when we expect little from man, we have less; but from God, even when we expect much, we have more. Though Job differed from them, yet he was ready to yield as soon as it was made to appear that he was in error. Though Job had been in fault, yet they ought not to have given him such hard usage. His righteousness he holds fast, and will not let it go. He felt that there had not been such iniquity in him as they supposed. But it is best to commit our characters to Him who keeps our souls; in the great day every upright believer shall have praise of God.My brethren - To wit, the three friends who had come to condole with him. He uses the language of brethren, to intimate what he had a right to expect from them. It is common in all languages to give the name brethren to friends.

Have dealt deceitfully - That is, I have been sadly disappointed. I looked for the language of condolence and compassion; for something to cheer my heart, and to uphold me in my trials - as weary and thirsty travelers look for water and are sadly disappointed when they come to the place where they expected to find it, and find the stream dried up. The simile used here is exquisitely beautiful, considered as a mere description of an actual occurrence in the deserts of Arabia. But its chief beauty consists in its exact adaptation to the case before him, and the point and pith of the reproof which it administers. "The fullness, strength, and noise of these temporary streams in winter, answer to the large professions made to Job in his prosperity by his friends. The dryness of the waters at the approach of summer, resembles the failure of their friendship in time of affliction." Scott, as quoted by Noyes.

As a brook - That is, as a stream that is swelled by winter torrents, and that is dry in summer. Such streams abound in Arabia, and in the East generally. The torrents pour down from the hills in time of rain, or when swelled by the melting of the ice; but in summer they are dry, or their waters are lost in the sand. Even large streams are thus absorbed. The river Barrady, which waters Damascus, after passing to a short distance to the southeast of the city toward the Arabian deserts, is lost in the sand, or evaporated by the heat of the sun. The idea here is, that travelers in a caravan would approach the place where water had been found before, but would find the fountain dried up, or the stream lost in the sand; and when they looked for refreshment, they found only disappointment. In Arabia there are not many rivers. In Yemen, indeed, there are a few streams that flow the year round, and on the East the Euphrates has been claimed as belonging to Arabia. But most of the streams are winter torrents that become dry in summer, or rivulets that are swelled by heavy rains.

An illustration of the verse before us occurs in Campbell's Travels in Africa. "In desert parts of Africa it has afforded much joy to fall in with a brook of water, especially when running in the direction of the journey, expecting it would prove a valuable companion. Perhaps before it accompanied us two miles it became invisible by sinking into the sand; but two miles farther along it would reappear and raise hopes of its continuance; but after running a few hundred yards, would sink finally into the sand, no more again to rise." A comparison of a man who deceives and disappoints one to such a Stream is common in Arabia, and has given rise, according to Schultens, to many proverbs. Thus, they say of a treacherous friend, "I put no trust in thy torrent;" and, "O torrent, thy flowing subsides." So the Scholiast on Moallakat says, "a pool or flood was called Gadyr, because travelers when they pass by it find it full of water, but when they return they find nothing there, and it seems to have treacherously betrayed them. So they say of a false man, that he is more deceitful than the appearance of water" - referring, perhaps, to the deceitful appearance of the mirage in the sands of the desert; see the notes at Isaiah 35:7.

And as the stream of brooks they pass away - As the valley stream - the stream that runs along in the valley, that is filled by the mountain torrent. They pass away on the return of summer, or when the rain ceases to fall, and the valley is again dry. So with the consolations of false friends. They cannot be depended on. All their professions are temporary and evanescent.

15. Those whom I regarded as "my brethren," from whom I looked for faithfulness in my adversity, have disappointed me, as the streams failing from drought—wadies of Arabia, filled in the winter, but dry in the summer, which disappoint the caravans expecting to find water there. The fulness and noise of these temporary streams answer to the past large and loud professions of my friends; their dryness in summer, to the failure of the friendship when needed. The Arab proverb says of a treacherous friend, "I trust not in thy torrent" (Isa 58:11, Margin).

stream of brooks—rather, "the brook in the ravines which passes away." It has no perpetual spring of water to renew it (unlike "the fountain of living waters," Jer 2:13; Isa 33:16, at the end); and thus it passes away as rapidly as it arose.

My brethren, i.e. my kinsmen or three friends; for though Eliphaz only had spoken, the other two showed their approbation of his discourse, or, at least, of that part of it which contained his censure of Job’s person and state.

Have dealt deceitfully; under a pretence of friendship and kindness dealing unrighteously and unmercifully with me, and adding to these afflictions which they said they came to remove.

As the stream of brooks, which quickly vanish, and deceive the hopes of the thirsty traveller.

My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook,.... Meaning his three friends, represented by Eliphaz, who were of the same sentiments with him, and behaved towards Job as he did: these were his brethren not by birth by blood nor by country, but by the profession of the same religion of the one true and living God in opposition to the idolatrous people among whom they dwelt; and this their relation to him is an aggravation of their perfidy and treachery, unfaithfulness and deceit, by which is meant their balking and disappointing him in his expectations; when they came to visit him as friends, he might reasonably expect they came to condole and sympathize with him, and comfort him; but, instead of this they reproached him and grieved him, and were miserable comforters of him; and this he illustrates by the simile of a "brook", which he enlarges upon in the following verses: these friends and brethren of his he compares to a "brook", not that was fed by a spring which continues, but filled with falls of water and melting snows from the hills, with which it is swelled, and looks like a large river for a while, but when these fail it is soon gone; hereby representing his friends in his state of prosperity, who looked big, and promised long and lasting friendship, but proved, in time of adversity, unfaithful and deceitful; and so it denotes the fickleness and inconstancy of their friendship:

and as the stream of brooks they pass away: or, "pass by" (g), as a stream of water, fed by many brooks, or flows of water like unto many brooks, which run with great rapidity and force, and are quickly gone and seen no more; thus his friends, as such, passed by him, and were of no use to him any more than the priest and Levite were to the man that fell among thieves, Luke 10:30.

(g) "praetereunt", Mercerus, Schmidt; "transeunt", Piscator, Cocceius, Michaelis.

My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a {k} brook, and as the stream of brooks they pass away;

(k) He compares friends who do not comfort us in our misery to a brook which in summer when we need water is dry, in winter is hard frozen and in the time of rain when we have no need overflows with water.

15. they pass away] Better, that pass away, cf. ch. Job 11:16. The other sense, that overflow (their banks), is improbable.

Verse 15. - My brethren; i.e. "my three friends," Eliphaz, who has spoken; Bildad and Zophar, who by their silence have shown their agreement with him. Have dealt deceitfully as a brook; i.e. "a winter torrent" - a "wady," to use the modern Arab expression. These watercourses are characteristic of Palestine and the adjacent regions. "During the winter months," says Dr. Cunningham Geikie, "they are often foaming rivers; but in the hot summer, when they would be of priceless value, their dry bed is generally the road from one point to another. The water rushes over the sheets of rock as it would from the roof of a house, and converging, as it descends, into minor streams in the higher wadies, these sweep on to a common channel in some central valley, and, thus united, swell in an incredibly short time into a deep, troubled, roaring flood, which fills the whole bottom of the wady with an irresistible torrent... The streams from Lebanon, and also from the high mountains of the Hauran. send down great floods of dark and troubled waters in spring, when the ice and snow of their summits are melted; but they dry up under the heat of summer, and the track of the torrent, with its chaos of boulders, stones, and gravel, seems as if it had not known a stream for ages. So Job's friends had in former times seemed as if they would be true to him for ever; but their friendship had vanished, like the rush of the torrent that had passed away" ('The Holy Land and the Bible,' vol. 1. pp. 123-125). And as the stream of brooks they pass away; or, the channel; i.e. the wady itself. Canon Cook well says on this, "The simile is remarkably complete. When little needed, the torrent overflows; when needed, it disappears. In winter it does not fertilize; in summer it is dried up. Nor is it merely useless; it deceives, alluring the traveller by the appearance of verdure, promising refreshment, and giving none." Job 6:1514 To him who is consumed gentleness is due from his friend,

Otherwise he might forsake the fear of the Almighty.

15 My brothers are become false as a torrent,

As the bed of torrents which vanish away -

16 They were blackish from ice,

Snow is hidden in them -

17 In the time, when warmth cometh to them, they are destroyed.

It becometh hot, they are extinguished from their place.

Ewald supplies between Job 6:14 and Job 6:14 two lines which have professedly fallen out ("from a brother sympathy is due to the oppressed of God, in order he may not succumb to excessive grief"). Hitzig strongly characterizes this interpolation as a "pure swindle." There is really nothing wanting; but we need not even take חסד, with Hitz., in the signification reproach (like Proverbs 14:34): if reproach cometh to the sufferer from his friend, he forsaketh the fear of God. מס (from מסס, liquefieri) is one who is inwardly melted, the disheartened. Such an one should receive חסד from his friend, i.e., that he should restore him ἐν πνεύματι πραΰ́τητος (Galatians 6:1). The waw (Job 6:14) is equivalent to alioqui with the future subjunctive (vid., Ges. 127, 5). Harshness might precipitate him into the abyss from which love will keep him back. So Schnurrer: Afflicto exhibenda est ab amico ipsius humanitas, alioqui hic reverentiam Dei exuit. Such harshness instead of charity meets him from his brothers, i.e., friends beloved as brothers. In vain he has looked to them for reviving consolation. Theirs is no comfort; it is like the dried-up water of a wady. נחל is a mountain or forest brook, which comes down from the height, and in spring is swollen by melting ice and the snow that thaws on the mountain-tops; χειμάῤῥους, i.e., a torrent swollen by winter water. The melting blocks of ice darken the water of such a wady, and the snow falling together is quickly hidden in its bosom (התעלּם). If they begin to be warmed (Pual זרב, cognate to צרב, Ezekiel 21:3, aduri, and שׂרף, comburere), suddenly they are reduced to nothing (נצמת, exstingui); they vanish away בּחמּו, when it becomes hot. The suffix is, with Ew., Olsh., and others, to be taken as neuter; not with Hirz., to be referred to a suppressed את: when the season grows hot. job bewails the disappointment he has experienced, the "decline" of charity

(Note: Oetinger says that Job 6:15-20 describe those who get "consumption" when they are obliged to extend "the breasts of compassion" to their neighbour.)

still further, by keeping to the figure of the mountain torrent.

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