Job 6:21
For now ye are nothing; ye see my casting down, and are afraid.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) For now ye are nothing.—“Surely now ye are become like it” i.e., that wady; or, according to another reading followed in the text of the Authorised Version, “Ye have become nothing: ye have seen an object of terror, and are terrified: ye have seen my broken-down condition, and are dismayed at it.”

Job 6:21. For now ye are nothing, &c. — Just such are you, who, seeing my calamity, afford me no comfort, and seem afraid lest I should want something of you. Thus Job very properly applies the preceding most beautiful description of the torrents in the hot climates, to his three friends who thus disappointed his expectations. Indeed, it is a very fine image of pretended friends in adversity. When their help is most wanted and coveted, they are too apt to fail the expectations of those that trusted in them. They may properly enough be said to be either frozen or melted away by adversity. All their warm professions are congealed, as it were, when adverse circumstances have laid hold on their friends, and their friendship is quite dissolved and melted away. Ye see my casting down, and are afraid — You are shy of me, and afraid for yourselves, lest some further plague should come upon me, wherein you, for my sake, should be involved; or, lest I should be burdensome to you. Therefore you are to me as if you had never come; you are nothing to me, for I have no help or comfort from you.

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.For now ye are as nothing - Margin, "or, Ye are like to it, or them." In the margin also the word "nothing" is rendered "not." This variety arises from a difference of reading in the Hebrew text, many MSS. having instead of (לא lô'), not, (לו lô'), to him, or to it. Which is correct, it is not easy to determine. Rosenmuller supposes that it is only a variety in writing the word לא l', where the waw is often used for .א The probability is, that it means, that they were as nothing - like the stream that had disappeared. This is the point of the comparison; and this Job now applies to his friends. They had promised much by their coming - like the streams when swollen by rains and melted ice. But now they were found to be nothing.

Ye see my casting down - חתת chăthath - my being broken or crushed; my calamity. Vulgate, plugam. Septuagint, τραῦμα trauma, wound.

And are afraid - Are timid and fearful. You shrink back; you dare not approach the subject boldly, or come to me with words of consolation. You came with a professed intention to administer comfort, but your courage fails.

21. As the dried-up brook is to the caravan, so are ye to me, namely, a nothing; ye might as well not be in existence [Umbreit]. The Margin "like to them," or "to it" (namely, the waters of the brook), is not so good a reading.

ye see, and are afraid—Ye are struck aghast at the sight of my misery, and ye lose presence of mind. Job puts this mild construction on their failing to relieve him with affectionate consolation.

He gives the reason why he charged them with deceitfulness, and compared them to these deceitful brooks. Nothing, or, as nothing; the note of similitude being oft understood. Heb. as not, i.e. you are to me as if you had not been, or as if you had never come to me, for I have no benefit nor comfort from you and your discourse, but only an increase of my misery.

Ye see my casting down, and are afraid: when you come near to me, and perceive my great and manifold calamities, you stand as it were at a distance; you are shy of me, and afraid for yourselves, either lest my sores or breath should infect you; or lest some further plagues-should come upon me, wherein yourselves for my sake, or because you are in my company, should be involved; or lest I should be burdensome to you, and need and call for your charitable contribution to support myself and the small remainders of my poor family, or for your helping hand to assist and save me from mine enemies, who may possibly fall upon me in this place, as the Chaldeans and Sabeans did upon my servants and cattle elsewhere; which is implied in the next verses. So far are you from being true friends and comforts to me, as you would seem to be.

For now ye are nothing,.... Once they seemed to be something to him; he thought them men wise, good, and religious, kind, bountiful, and tenderhearted; but now he found them otherwise, they were nothing to him as friends or as comforters in his distress; the "Cetib", or Scripture, is, as we read, and is followed by many; but the marginal reading is, "now ye are to it" (a); that is, ye are like to it, the brook whose waters he had been describing; so Jarchi interprets it; Mr. Broughton very agreeably takes in both, "so now ye are become like that, even nothing"; as that deceitful brook is no more, nor of any use to travellers fainting through thirst; so ye are like that, of no use and advantage to me in my affliction:

ye see my casting down; from a state of prosperity to a state of adversity; from a pinnacle of honour, from being the greatest man in the east, a civil magistrate, and the head of a flourishing family, to the lowest degree of disgrace and dishonour; from wealth and riches to want and poverty; as well as saw the inward dejection of his mind, through the poisoned arrows of the Almighty within him:

and ye are afraid; of the righteous judgments of God, taking these calamities to be such, and fearing the same or the like should fall on them, should they keep him company; or however should they patronize and defend him; and afraid also of being too near him, lest his breath, and the smell of him, should be infectious, and they should catch a distemper from him; or lest he should be expensive and troublesome to them.

(a) "certe nunc fuistis illi", Bolducius; so Michaelis; "certe nunc estis similes illi", Pagninus, Vatablus, Mercerus.

For now ye are {m} nothing; ye see my casting down, and are afraid.

(m) That is, like this brook which deceives them who think to have water there in their need, as I looked for consolation from you.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. ye are nothing] Or, are become nothing. Job applies his comparison. Another reading is: ye are become it, i. e. the deceitful, disappointing brook. The general sense remains the same.

my casting down] lit. ye see a terror. Job’s comparison of his friends to the brook is graphic and telling. In winter these brooks are full, but in summer when the thirsty caravan needs them and looks for them they are found to have disappeared before the heat. And Job’s friends may have been effusive in their offers of friendship when friendships were abundant, but now when he needs their aid, the sight of his terrible affliction, like the summer heat, dissipates their sympathy and makes them “nothing,” without power to help. In the words “ye see a terror and are afraid” Job insinuates more than that his friends are paralysed at the sight of his calamity, he means probably that, judging his calamity to be from God, they have not courage to shew him sympathy, cf. Job 13:7 seq.

Verse 21. - For now ye are nothing. Like the dried-up torrents, the comforters had come to nought; were wholly useless and unprofitable. Another reading gives the sense, "Ye are like to them" - "ye comforters," i.e., "are like the winter torrents, and have misled me, as they misled the caravans." Ye see my casting down, and are afraid. Here Job penetrates to the motive which had produced the conduct of his friends. They had come with good intentions, meaning to comfort and console him; but when they came, and saw what a wreck he was, how utterly "broken up" and ruined, they began to be afraid of showing too much friendliness. They thought him an object of the Divine vengeance, and feared lest, if they showed him sympathy, they might involve themselves in his punishment. Job 6:2121 For now ye are become nothing;

You see misfortune, and are affrighted.

22 Have I then said, Give unto me,

And give a present for me from your substance,

23 And deliver me from the enemy's hand,

And redeem me from the hand of the tyrant?

In Job 6:21, the reading wavers between לו and לא, with the Keri לו; but לו, which is consequently the lectio recepta, gives no suitable meaning, only in a slight degree appropriate, as this: ye are become it, i.e., such a mountain brook; for הייתם is not to be translated, with Stickel and others, estis, but facti estis. The Targum, however, translates after the Chethib: ye are become as though ye had never been, i.e., nothingness. Now, since לא, Aramaic לה, can (as Daniel 4:32 shows) be used as a substantive (a not equals a null), and the thought: ye are become nothing, your friendship proves itself equal to null, suits the imagery just used, we decide in favour of the Chethib; then in the figure the בתּהוּ עלה corresponds most to this, and is also, therefore, not to be explained away. The lxx, Syr., Vulg., translate לי instead of לו: ye are become it (such deceitful brooks) to me. Ewald proposes to read לי הייתם עתה כן (comp. the explanation, Ges. 137, rem. 3), - a conjecture which puts aside all difficulty; but the sentence with לא commends itself as being bolder and more expressive. All the rest explains itself. It is remarkable that in Job 6:21 the reading תּירוּ is also found, instead of תּראוּ: ye dreaded misfortune, and ye were then affrighted. הבוּ is here, as an exception, properispomenon, according to Ges. 29, 3. כּח, as Proverbs 5:10; Leviticus 26:20, what one has obtained by putting forth one's strength, syn. חיל, outward strength.

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