Job 9:31
Yet shall you plunge me in the ditch, and my own clothes shall abhor me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
9:25-35 What little need have we of pastimes, and what great need to redeem time, when it runs on so fast towards eternity! How vain the enjoyments of time, which we may quite lose while yet time continues! The remembrance of having done our duty will be pleasing afterwards; so will not the remembrance of having got worldly wealth, when it is all lost and gone. Job's complaint of God, as one that could not be appeased and would not relent, was the language of his corruption. There is a Mediator, a Daysman, or Umpire, for us, even God's own beloved Son, who has purchased peace for us with the blood of his cross, who is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God through him. If we trust in his name, our sins will be buried in the depths of the sea, we shall be washed from all our filthiness, and made whiter than snow, so that none can lay any thing to our charge. We shall be clothed with the robes of righteousness and salvation, adorned with the graces of the Holy Spirit, and presented faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. May we learn the difference between justifying ourselves, and being thus justified by God himself. Let the tempest-tossed soul consider Job, and notice that others have passed this dreadful gulf; and though they found it hard to believe that God would hear or deliver them, yet he rebuked the storm, and brought them to the desired haven. Resist the devil; give not place to hard thoughts of God, or desperate conclusions about thyself. Come to Him who invites the weary and heavy laden; who promises in nowise to cast them out.Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch - God would treat me as if he should throw me into the gutter, and as if I were wholly defiled and polluted. The meaning is, God would not admit the proofs which I should adduce of my innocence, but would overwhelm me with the demonstrations of my guilt. I doubt not that Job urged this with some degree of impatience, and with some improper feelings. He felt, evidently, that God was so great and powerful, that it was vain to contend with him. But it is true in a higher and more important sense than he seems to have understood it. After all the efforts which we can make to justify, vindicate, or purify ourselves, it is in the power of God to overwhelm us with the consciousness of guilt. He has access to the heart. He can show us our past sins. He can recall what we have forgotten, and overwhelm us with the remembrance of our deep depravity. It is in vain, therefore, for any man to attempt to justify himself before God. After the most labored argument to prove his own innocence, after all the confidence which he can repose in his own morality and his own righteousness, still God can with infinite ease overwhelm him with the consciousness of guilt. How many people that were once relying on their own morality for their salvation, have been bowed down with a consciousness of guilt in a revival of religion! How many who halve been trusting to their own righteousness have been overwhelmed with deep and awful conviction, when they have been brought to lie on a bed of death! Let no man, therefore, rely on his own righteousness, when God accuses him with being a sinner. Let no one trust to his own morality for salvation - for soon it will all be seen to be insufficient, and the soul must appear covered over with the consciousness of guilt at the awful bar of God.

And mine own clothes shall abhor me - Margin, Make me to be abhorred. That is, they shall be filthy and offensive - like one who has been rolled in the mire. God has power to make me seem defiled and loathsome, notwithstanding all my efforts to cleanse myself.

30. snow water—thought to be more cleansing than common water, owing to the whiteness of snow (Ps 51:7; Isa 1:18).

never so clean—Better, to answer to the parallelism of the first clause which expresses the cleansing material, "lye:" the Arabs used alkali mixed with oil, as soap (Ps 73:13; Jer 2:22).

In the ditch, i.e. in miry and puddle water, whereby I shall become most filthy. But as Job’s washing, so God’s plunging him, &c., is not understood really, as if God would make him filthy; but only judicially, that God would prove him to be a most guilty and filthy creature, notwithstanding all the professions and evidences of his purity before men.

Mine own clothes shall abhor me, i.e. I shall be so altogether filthy, that my own clothes, if they had any sense in them, would abhor to touch me: a figure called prosopopaeia. Yet shall thou plunge me in the ditch,.... In the filthy ditch of sin, the pit wherein is no water, the horrible pit, the mire and clay, in which all unregenerate men are, and to which hypocrites return, as the swine to its wallowing in the mire; and in which impurity self-righteous persons are, and are sooner or later made to appear, notwithstanding all their outward righteousness, holiness, purity, and perfection they boast of; and though Job was neither of these, not an unregenerate man, nor an hypocrite, nor a self-righteous person; yet he knew that, in comparison of the perfect purity and holiness of God, he should appear exceedingly impure; and that God would treat him as such, and hold him out to the view of others as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things, by continuing his afflictions, from whence it would be concluded that he was the most impure person; and indeed by the ditch may be meant the ditch of afflictions, as Sephorno, either his present ones continued, his filthy ulcers and scabs, with which his body was covered all over, or new afflictions he would bring him into, where he would sink in deep mire, there being no standing, Psalm 69:2; some understand this of the grave, the ditch or pit of corruption, into which he should be cast, and there putrefy and rot: but the other senses seem best:

and mine own clothes shall abhor me; not his clothes in a literal sense; either while living, his filthy ulcers being such, that were his clothes sensible of them, they would loathe and abhor to touch him, and cover him; or when dead, his sepulchre garments, his shroud, or winding sheet, would disdain to cover such a filthy body, overspread with worms and dust; or as Vatablus paraphrases it, clothes do not become a dead body; or as Mr. Broughton,"when I go naked to the grave, as though my clothes loathed me:''but the words are rather to be understood figuratively, either of some of his friends that were as near and as close to him as his clothes, or had been, but now were estranged from him, and loathed and abhorred him, see Job 19:13; or better, of his best works of righteousness, which he put on as a robe, Job 29:14; and which are a covering to the saints before men, and are ornamental to them, though not justifying in the sight of God; and indeed in themselves, and compared with the holy law, and holy nature of God, are imperfect and impure; and if God was to enter into judgment with men, they would be so far from justifying them in his sight, or rendering them acceptable to him, that they would cause them to be abhorred by him, as all self-righteousness and self-righteous persons are, see Proverbs 21:27; yea, even the best works of men are but dung in the judgment of a good man himself, what then must they be in the account of God? Philippians 3:8; Job here, and in Job 9:30, has most exalted ideas of the purity, holiness, and majesty of God, so that no creature, nor creature holiness, be they ever so perfect, can stand before him, or be pure in his sight.

Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own {z} clothes shall abhor me.

(z) Whatever I would use to cover my filthiness with, it would disclose me even more.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. An expressive figure for, to cover again with uncleanness. The naked body (Job 9:30) is supposed plunged in the ditch, and the clothes refuse to cover so foul an object.Verse 31. - Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch. Yet would God with ease undo his work, show his purity to be impure, his righteousness to be filthy rags, and thus, as it were, replunge him in the mire and clay from which he had sought to free himself, and hold him forth a more loathsome wretch than ever. And mine own clothes shall abhor me. So loathsome would he be that his very garments, stained and fouled by his disease, would shrink away from him and hate to touch him. 25 My days were swifter than a runner,

They fled away without seeing prosperity,

26 They shot by as ships of reeds,

As an eagle which dasheth upon its prey.

27 If my thought is: I will forget my complaint,

I will give up my dark looks and look cheerful;

28 I shudder at all my pains,

I feel that Thou dost not pronounce me innocent.

Such, as described in the preceding strophe, is the lot of the innocent in general, and such (this is the connection) is also Job's lot: his swiftly passing life comes to an end amidst suffering, as that of an evil-doer whom God cuts off in judgment. In the midst of his present sufferings he has entirely forgotten his former prosperity; it is no happiness to him, because the very enjoyment of it makes the loss of it more grievous to bear. The days of prosperity are gone, have passed swiftly away without טובה, i.e., without lasting prosperity. They have been swifter רץ מנּי. By reference to Job 7:6, this might be considered as a figure borrowed from the weaver's loom, since in the Coptic the threads of the weft (fila subteminis) which are wound round the shuttle are called "runners" (vid., Ges. Thesaurus); but Rosenmller has correctly observed that, in order to describe the fleetness of his life, Job brings together that which is swiftest on land (the runners or couriers), in water (fast-sailing ships), and in the air (the swooping eagle). עם, Job 9:26, signifies, in comparison with, aeque ac. But we possess only a rather uncertain tradition as to the kind of vessels meant by אבה אניות. Jerome translates, after the Targ.: naves poma portantes, by which one may understand the small vessels, according to Edrisi, common on the Dead Sea, in which corn and different kinds of fruits were carried from Zoar to Jericho and to other regions of the Jordan (Stickel, S. 267); but if אבה were connected with אב, we might rather expect אבּה, after the form אשּׁה (from אשׁ), instead of אבה. Others derive the word from אבה, avere: ships of desire, i.e., full-rigged and ready for sea (Gecatilia in Ges. Thes. suppl. p. 62), or struggling towards the goal (Kimchi), or steering towards (Zamora), and consequently hastening to (Symmachuc, σπευδούσαις), the harbour; but independently of the explanation not being suited to the description, it should then be accented beh, after the form נדה, קצה, instead of bh. The explanation, ships of hostility (Syr.),

(Note: Luther also perhaps understood pirate ships, when he translated, "wie die starcken Schiff.")

i.e., ships belonging to pirates or freebooters, privateers, which would suit the subject well, is still less admissible with the present pointing of the text, as it must then be אבה (איבה), with which the Egyptian uba, against, and adverse (contrarius), may be compared. According to Abulwalid (Parchon, Raschi), אבה is the name of a large river near the scene of the book of Job; which may be understood as either the Babylonian name for river Arab. 'bby, or the Abyssinian name of the Nile, ab; and אבה may be compared with לבנה in relation to the Arabic, lubna. But a far more satisfactory explanation is the one now generally received, according to the comparison with the Arabic abâ'un, a reed (whence abaa-t-un, a reed, a so-called n. unitatis): ships made from reeds, like גּמא כּלי, Isaiah 18:2, vessels of papyrus, βαρίδες παπύριναι. In such small ships, with Egyptian tackling, they used to travel as far as Taprobane. These canoes were made to fold together, plicatiles, so that they could be carried past the cataracts; Heliodorus describes them as ὀξυδρομώτατα.

(Note: There is no Egyptian word which can be compared to אבה, whereas han (hani) or an (ana) in Egyptian, like the Hebrew אניה, means a ship (vid., Chabas, Le Papyrus magique Harris, p. 246, No. 826, cf. pp. 33, 47); it is written with the sign for set equals downwards, since they fastened a stone at the front of the vessel, as was even known to Herodotus, in order to accelerate its speed in descending the river. From this one might conjecture for the passage before us אבן אניות equals swift sailers.)

The third figure is the eagle, which swoops down upon its prey; טוּשׂ, like Chaldee טוּס, by which the Targ. translates השׁ, Habakkuk 1:8; Grtz' conjecture of ישׁוּט (which is intended to mean flutters) is superfluous. Just as unnecessary is it, with Olshausen, to change אמרי אם into אמרתי אם: "if my saying (thinking)" is equivalent to, "as often as I say (think)." פנים is here (as in the German phrase, ein Gesicht machen) an ill-humoured, distorted, wry face. When Job desires to give up this look of suffering and be cheerful (הבליג, like Job 10:20, hilaritatem prae se ferre, vultum hilarem induere), the certainty that he is not favoured of God, and consequently that he cannot be delivered from his sufferings, all his anguish in spite of his struggles against it comes ever afresh before his mind. It is scarcely necessary to remark that תנקני is addressed to God, not to Bildad. It is important to notice that Job does not speak of God without at the same time looking up to Him as in prayer. Although he feels rejected of God, he still remains true to God. In the following strophe he continues to complain of God, but without denying Him.

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