Matthew Poole's Commentary
Then Job answered and said,Job’s answer: his friends increase his misery, Job 16:1-8. His insulting enemies, Job 16:9-11. God’s power against him, Job 16:12-16. His innocence should cry to heaven, where it was known: he wisheth to plead with God, Job 16:17-21: Pleaseth himself with the prospect of death, Job 16:22.
No text from Poole on this verse.
I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all.I have heard many such things; both from you, who do so odiously repeat the same things, and from divers others; for these things, though you pride and please yourselves in them, as if you had made some great and strange discoveries, are but vulgar and trivial.
Miserable comforters; instead of giving me those comforts which you pretend to do, Job 15:11, and which my condition loudly calls for, you feed me with terrors, and censures, and scoffs.
Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest?When wilt thou put an end to these idle and impertinent discourses? He retorts upon him his charge against Job, Job 15:2,3.
That thou answerest, to wit, so or in such manner, so censoriously, and opprobriously, and peremptorily. What secret grounds hast thou for thy confidence? Thy arguments are flashy and weak; if thou hast any stronger, produce them.
I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul's stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you.If your soul, i.e. your person, as Genesis 12:5.
I could heap up words against you, i.e. I could multiply accusations and reproaches against you, as you do against me.
Shake mine head at you; in way of derision, as this phrase is most commonly used; as 2 Kings 19:21 Psalm 22:7 Isaiah 37:22 Matthew 27:39.
But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief.Strengthen you, i.e. direct, and support, and comfort you. My discourse should comfort you. The words your grief are here understood, either out of the foregoing clause, where they are implied; or out of the next verse, where they are expressed. Possibly the words may be thus rendered without any ellipsis, which is most natural, if the translation be true and suitable: compassion (for the Hebrew word nid comes from nud, which signifies to condole) should restrain or govern my lips, that they should avoid all speeches which may vex you, and speak only what may be to your comfort and benefit; whereas you let your tongues loose to speak whatsoever pleaseth you, or tormenteth me.
Though I speak, my grief is not asswaged: and though I forbear, what am I eased?Though I speak to God by prayer, or to you in way of discourse, I find no relief. Job having reproved his friends for their unkind carriage towards him, and aggravated it by his resolutions to have dealt more friendly with them, if they had been in his case; now he returns to his main business, to describe and aggravate his miseries, if by any means he could move his friends to pity and help him.
What am I eased? or, what part or grain of my grief or misery departeth from me? I receive not one jot of ease. Neither speech nor silence do me any good.
But now he hath made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my company.But; or, surely, as this Hebrew particle most commonly signifies. He, i.e. God, as appears by the following words and verses.
Hath made me weary; either of complaining, or of my life.
Thou; he speaks in the second person to God, as in the former clause in the third person of God. Such change of persons are very usual in Scripture, and elsewhere.
Hast made desolate all my company; hast turned my society into desolation, by destroying my children and servants.
And thou hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me: and my leanness rising up in me beareth witness to my face.Thou hast filled me with wrinkles, by consuming all my fat and flesh.
Which is a witness against me; Heb. which is a witness of the reality, and greatness, and just cause of my sorrows. Or, which is become or made a witness, i.e. is produced by my friends as a witness of God’s wrath, and of my hypocrisy and impiety.
Rising up in me, i.e. which is in me. Or, rising up against me, as witnesses use to rise and stand up against a guilty person to accuse him.
Beareth witness to my face; as witnesses are to accuse a person to his face, openly and evidently, so as any that look on my face may plainly discern it. But this clause may be rendered thus, my leanness in my face (i.e. which appears in my face, and causeth the wrinkles which are visible there) riseth up against me, and beareth witness, as before.
He teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnasheth upon me with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me.He teareth me in his wrath, Heb. his wrath teareth me in pieces, as a lion doth his prey.
Who hateth me, Heb. and he hateth me, i.e. he pursueth me with a deadly hatred and rage. Or, and he is become mine enemy; or, he sets himself against me with all his might; or, he treats me like an implacable enemy. He gnasheth upon me with his teeth; which is a gesture and sign of extreme anger and fury, as Psalm 35:16 37:12 Lamentations 2:16; as elsewhere of grievous pain, as Luke 13:28.
Mine enemy; either,
1. God, who of a friend is now become my implacable enemy. Or,
2. Eliphaz, who deals with me more like an enemy than a friend.
Sharpeneth his eyes upon me, i.e. looks upon me with a fierce and sparkling eye, as enraged persons uso to do.
They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me.They; the instruments of God’s anger, my friends, as they are falsely called.
Gaped upon me with their mouth; opened their mouths wide against me; either,
1. To devour and destroy me; as a lion which falls upon his prey with open mouth, as this phrase is used, Psalm 22:13,14. And this they did aggravating and increasing his sorrows, whereby he was well-nigh overwhelmed. Or,
2. To scoff and deride me, as it follows, and as this phrase is most commonly used, as Psalm 22:8 35:21.
Reproachfully; or, by reproach; or in way of scorn and contempt; whereof such smiting was a sign, as 1 Kings 22:24 Lamentations 3:30 Micah 5:1. The sign is here put for the thing signified; they despised and derided me.
They have gathered themselves together against me, i.e. they are come from several places, and met together here, not for me, or to comfort me, as they pretended, but really against me, or to torment and grieve me. Heb. they have filled themselves, &c. Either,
1. They have filled up their numbers, they are all come against me. Or,
2. They have filled their minds with evil opinions of me, and their hearts with courage and resolution to assault me, and their mouths with words and arguments against me. Compare Ecclesiastes 8:11 Acts 5:3.
God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked.To the ungodly; either,
1. To my friends, who act the part of the wicked, in censuring and condemning the righteous, whom God approveth, and in pleading for a false and wicked cause. Or rather,
2. To the Chaldeans and Sabeans, who were a most wicked people, living in gross contempt of God, and injuriousness to all sorts of men. For this best suits both with the first clause of the next verse, which showeth that he speaketh of Job’s first afflictions, which befell him when he was at ease; and with Job’s principal scope, which was to prove that both eminent prosperity and affliction did indifferently happen to good and bad men; and this was evident from this example, because holy Job was ruined, when these wicked people were most victorious and successful.
I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark.I lived in great peace and prosperity, which makes my present miseries more grievous to me; and therefore my complaints are excusable, and I deserve pity rather than reproach from my friends.
Broken me asunder; broken my spirit with the sense of his anger, and my body with loathsome ulcers, as also by destroying my children, a part of my own flesh or body.
Taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces; as a mighty man doth with some young stripling, when he wrestleth with him. Set me up for his mark; that he may shoot all his arrows into me, and that with delight, which archers have in that exercise.
His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground.His archers, i.e. his plagues or judgments, elsewhere compared to arrows, and here to archers.
He cleaveth my reins asunder with his arrows, i.e. he wounds me inwardly, and mortally, and incurably; which also is noted by pouring out the gall; such wounds being deadly.
He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me like a giant.My calamities have no interruption, but one immediately succeeds another, as it did Job 1.
Like a giant, who falls upon his enemy with all his might, that he may overthrow and kill him.
I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust.i.e. I put on sackcloth sewed together, not upon my other garments, but next to my skin, as was done in great calamities; as 2 Kings 6:30. So far am I from stretching out my hands against God, whereof I am accused, Job 15:25, that I have humbled myself deeply under his hand. I have willingly parted with all my wealth, and power, and glory, (as the horn oft signifies in Scripture, as Psalm 75:5 132:17 Luke 1:69) and been contented to lie in the dust, and to endure the contempt which God hath brought upon me.
My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death;i. e. A gross and terrible darkness. My sight is very dim and dark, as is usual in case of sore diseases, or excessive grief and weeping, Lamentations 2:11; and especially in the approach of death: compare Psalm 6:7 38:10 Lamentations 5:17.
Not for any injustice in mine hands: also my prayer is pure.And all this is not come upon me for any injurious dealing with others by oppression, or deceit, or bribery, wherewith I am implicitly charged, Job 15:16,20,34; but for other reasons known to God only, for I cannot discover them.
Also my prayer is pure; I do not cast off God’s fear and service, as I am accused to do, Job 15:4. I do still pray and worship God, and my prayer is accompanied with a sincere heart and undefiled conscience: see Psalm 109:7 Proverbs 28:9 1 Timothy 2:8. So that I have lived inoffensively towards God and towards men; and therefore your assertion is both uncharitable and false, that eminent afflictions are peculiar to ungodly men.
O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place.My blood, so called not actively, to wit, his own blood; but passively or objectively, i.e. the blood of others shed by him, and lying upon his conscience. The earth is said to cover that blood which lies undiscovered and unrevenged; of which See Poole "Genesis 4:10", See Poole "Genesis 4:11"; See Poole "Isaiah 26:21", But, saith Job, if I be guilty of destroying any one man by murder or oppression, as I am traduced, O Lord, let the earth disclose it; let it be brought to light, that I may suffer condign punishment for it.
My cry; either,
1. Passively, to wit, the cries and groans which I have forced from others by my oppressions; let those cries have no place to hide them. Or rather,
2. Actively, the cry of my complaints to men, or prayers to God; let them find no place in the cars or hearts of God or men, if this be true: or, no place, i.e. no regard, or no power or success; in which sense God’s word is said not to have place in evil men, John 8:37; and Esau not to
find place of repentance, Hebrews 12:17, i.e. all his entreaties and tears could not prevail with his father to repent of and retract the blessing given from him to Jacob.
Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.Besides the witness of men and of my own conscience, God is witness of my integrity.
My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God.My friends, who should defend me from the scorns and injuries of others,
scorn me; so this word is used Psalm 119:51 Proverbs 3:34 19:28. I pour forth my prayers and tears to God, that he would judge me according to my innocency, and plead my righteous cause against you.
O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour!Oh that either I or some faithful advocate might be admitted to plead any cause, either with God, or rather with you, before God’s tribunal, God being witness and judge between us! But this verse is, and that very agreeably to the Hebrew text, otherwise translated and interpreted; either,
1. With respect to Christ, And he (i.e. God, last mentioned, to wit, God the Son, Christ Jesus) will plead for a man (i.e. for me, against whom you plead.) He modestly speaketh of himself in the third person, as is usual)
with God (to wit, with God the Father; and the Son of man (as Christ is oft called) will plead for his friend, or companion, or neighbour, i.e. for a man whom he hath taken into that relation to himself. It is plain that the mystery of man’s redemption by Christ was known to the ancient patriarchs, as hath been oft noted before; and to Job among others, Job 19:25. Or,
2. As the matter for which he prayed and cried to God, That (so the Hebrew vau is frequently used) he (i.e. God) would plead, or judge, or give sentence for a man (i.e. for me, or in my cause) with, God, (i.e. with himself, the noun being put for the pronoun, as Genesis 2:20 4:15 Leviticus 14:15,16, and elsewhere; or at his own tribunal, to which I have appealed,)
as a man pleadeth for his friend or neighbour with or before an earthly judge and tribunal. This seems most agreeable to the scope of the place, which was to maintain his own integrity against his friends before God.
When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return.i.e. To the state and place of the dead, whence men do not and cannot return to this life. The meaning is, My death hastens, and therefore I earnestly desire that the cause depending before God between me and my friends may be searched out and determined, that if I be guilty of these things whereof they accuse me, I may bear the shame and blame of it before all men; and if I be innocent, that I may live to see my own integrity and the credit of religion (which suffers upon this occasion) vindicated, that so I may die in peace with God, and may leave the savour of a good name behind me.