Job 7:2
As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work:
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Job 7:2. As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow — Of the evening, the sun-set, or the night, the time allotted for his rest and repose. For man goeth forth to his labour until the evening, Psalm 104:23. So, why may not I also desire the time of my rest? The Hebrew, however, ישׁאŠ צל, jishap tzel, is more literally rendered, gapeth, or panteth after the shade. And the meaning probably is, As a servant, labouring in the heat of the sun, earnestly desires a cool, refreshing shade. And as a hireling — Hebrews שׂכיר, sacir, properly, a servant hired for a certain time, whereas, the preceding word, עבד, gnebed, signifies a servant, whose time of service is not fixed or limited: looketh for the reward of his work — As the Hebrews פעל, pognal, according to Buxtorf, signifies both work, and, by a metonymy, the wages of work, and is accordingly translated wages, (Leviticus 19:13,) the words in the Italic character (namely, the reward of) did not need to be added here in the text, but the version might properly have been, As a hireling looketh, or, as Heath renders it, earnestly longeth for his wages.

7:1-6 Job here excuses what he could not justify, his desire of death. Observe man's present place: he is upon earth. He is yet on earth, not in hell. Is there not a time appointed for his abode here? yes, certainly, and the appointment is made by Him who made us and sent us here. During that, man's life is a warfare, and as day-labourers, who have the work of the day to do in its day, and must make up their account at night. Job had as much reason, he thought, to wish for death, as a poor servant that is tired with his work, has to wish for the shadows of the evening, when he shall go to rest. The sleep of the labouring man is sweet; nor can any rich man take so much satisfaction in his wealth, as the hireling in his day's wages. The comparison is plain; hear his complaint: His days were useless, and had long been so; but when we are not able to work for God, if we sit still quietly for him, we shall be accepted. His nights were restless. Whatever is grievous, it is good to see it appointed for us, and as designed for some holy end. When we have comfortable nights, we must see them also appointed to us, and be thankful for them. His body was noisome. See what vile bodies we have. His life was hastening apace. While we are living, every day, like the shuttle, leaves a thread behind: many weave the spider's web, which will fail, ch. 8:14. But if, while we live, we live unto the Lord, in works of faith and labours of love, we shall have the benefit, for every man shall reap as he sowed, and wear as he wove.As a servant earnestly desireth - Margin, gapeth after. The word here שׁאף shâ'aph means to breathe hard, to pant, to blow, and then to desire earnestly.

The shadow - This may refer either to a shade in the intense heat of the day, or to the night. Nothing is more grateful in oriental countries, when the sun pours down intensely on burning sands, than the shadow of a tree, or the shade of a projecting rock. The editor of the Pictorial Bible on this verse remarks, "We think we can say, that next to water, the greatest and deepest enjoyment we could ever realize in the hot climates of the East was, when on a journey, any circumstance of the road brought us for a few minutes under some shade. Its reviving influence upon the bodily frame, and consequently upon the spirits, is inconceivable by one who has not had some experience of the kind. Often also during the hall of a caravan in the open air, when the writer has been enabled to secure a station for repose under the shelter of a rock or of an old wall, has his own exultation and strong sense of luxurious enjoyment reminded him of this and other passages of Scripture, in which shade is mentioned as a thing punted for with intense desire." Probably here, however, the reference is to the shades of night, the time when darkness falls upon the earth, and the servant is released from his toil. It is common in all languages to speak of night as enveloped with shadows. Thus, Virgil, En. iv. 7:

Humentemque aurora polo dimoverat urnbram.

The meaning of Job is, that as a servant looked impatiently for the shades of the evening when he would be dismissed from toil, so he longed for death.

And as an hireling looketh - That is, he anxiously desires his work to be finished, and expects the reward of his labors. So Job looked to the reward of a life of toil and piety. Is there not here an undoubted reference to a future state? Is it not manifest that Job looked to some recompense in the future world, as real and as sure, as a hired servant looks for the reward of his toils when his work is done?

2. earnestly desireth—Hebrew, "pants for the [evening] shadow." Easterners measure time by the length of their shadow. If the servant longs for the evening when his wages are paid, why may not Job long for the close of his hard service, when he shall enter on his "reward?" This proves that Job did not, as many maintain, regard the grave as a mere sleep. The shadow, i.e. the sun-set, or the night, the time allotted for his rest and repose, Psalm 104:23. And why may not I also desire the time of my rest?

The reward of his work, Heb. his work; which is oft put for the reward of it, as Leviticus 19:13 Isaiah 40:10 49:4. Or, the end of his work.

As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow,.... Either the shadow of some great rock, tree, or hedge, or any shady place to shelter him from the heat of the sun in the middle of the day, which in those eastern countries is hot and scorching; and very burdensome and fatiguing it is for servants and labourers to work in fields and vineyards, or in keeping herds and flocks in such countries, and at such a time of the day; to which the allusion is in Sol 1:7 Isaiah 25:4. Wherefore they "gape" for, or "pant" after some shady place for refreshment, as the word (n) used signifies; or for the shadow of the evening, or the sun setting, when the longest shadow is cast, Jeremiah 6:4; and when the work of a servant is ended, and he retires to his house for refreshment and rest: and since now such a shadow in either sense is desirable, and not unlawful to wish for, Job suggests it ought not to be charged as a crime in him, that he should importunately desire to be in the shadow of death, or in the grave, where the weary are at rest; or to have the night come on him, when he should cease from all his toil and labour, sorrows and pains:

and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work; or "for his work" (o); either for new work, what was set him being done, or rather for the finishing of it, that he might have rest from it; or for the reward, the hire due to him upon its being done; so Job intimates he desired death with the same view, that he might cease from his works, which should follow him, and when he should have the reward of the inheritance, not in a way of debt, but of grace: nor indeed is it sinful to look or have respect unto the recompence of reward, in order to engage to go through service more cheerfully, or to endure sufferings more patiently, see Hebrews 11:26; for though the hireling is an emblem of a self-righteous person, that works for life, and expects it as the reward of his work, and of false teachers and bad shepherds, that take the care of the flock for filthy lucre's sake, see Luke 15:19; yet hiring is sometimes used, in a good sense, of good men, that are hired and allured by gracious promises and divine encouragements to labour in the Lord's vineyard, and may expect their reward; see Matthew 20:1.

(n) "anhelabit", Montanus, Bolducius; "anhelat", Beza, Tigurine version, Piscator, Cocceius, Schmidt, Schultens. (o) "opus suum", Beza Montanus, Bolducius, Schmidt, Schultens.

As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work:
2. With slight change the verse reads,

As a slave who panteth for the shadow,

And as an hireling who looketh, &c.

The slave in the heat and under his hard toil pants for the shadow of evening, the day’s end; and the hireling looks for his wages, that is, the close of the day; cf. Proverbs 21:6.

Verse 2. - As a servant (or, a slave) panteth for the shadow; i.e. longs for the shades of evening to descend and bring the day to a close. The slavery of Job's time was probably not unlike that of captive races in Egypt, so graphically portrayed in the early chapters of Exodus. The captive, working from morning to night at exhausting labour, would long intensely for the night to arrive, when his toil would come to an end. The inference is not drawn, but clearly is - so Job may be excused if he longs for death, now that he has reached old age, and that the work of his life is manifestly ended. And as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work; rather, for his wages. The word used (פעל) has the two meanings of "work" and "the wages of work" (see Jeremiah 22:13). Job 7:2 1 Has not a man warfare upon earth,

And his days are like the days of a hireling?

2 Like a servant who longs for the shade,

And like a hireling who waits for his wages,

3 So am I made to possess months of disappointment,

And nights of weariness are appointed to me.

The conclusion is intended to be: thus I wait for death as refreshing and rest after hard labour. He goes, however, beyond this next point of comparison, or rather he remains on this side of it. צבא is not service of a labourer in the field, but active military service, then fatigue, toil in general (Isaiah 40:20; Daniel 10:1). Job 7:2 Ewald and others translate incorrectly: as a slave longs, etc. כּ can never introduce a comparative clause, except an infinitive, as e.g., Isaiah 5:24, which can then under the regimen of this כּ be continued by a verb. fin.; but it never stands directly for כּאשׁר, as כּמו does in rare instances. In Isaiah 5:3, שׁוא retains its primary signification, nothingness, error, disappointment (Job 15:31): months that one after another disappoint the hope of the sick. By this it seems we ought to imagine the friends as not having come at the very commencement of his disease. Elephantiasis is a disease which often lasts for years, and slowly but inevitably destroys the body. On מנּוּ, adnumeraverunt equals adnumeratae sunt, vid., Ges. 137, 3*.

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