forth vanity; or sin; for lust when it is conceived bringeth forth sin, and that is vanity, an empty thing, and neither yields profit nor pleasure in the issue, but that which is useless and unserviceable, yea, harmful and ruinous; for sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death, even death eternal, James 1:14;
and their belly prepareth deceit; their inward part frames and devises that which is designed to deceive others, and in the end proves deceitful to themselves: the allusion is to a pregnant woman, or rather to one who seems to be so, and whose conception proves abortive, and so deceives and disappoints herself and others; see Psalm 7:14.
INTRODUCTION TO Job 16
This chapter and the following contain Job's reply to the preceding discourse of Eliphaz, in which he complains of the conversation of his friends, as unprofitable, uncomfortable, vain, empty, and without any foundation, Job 16:1; and intimates that were they in his case and circumstances, tie should behave in another manner towards them, not mock at them, but comfort them, Job 16:4; though such was his unhappy case, that, whether he spoke or was silent, it was much the same; there was no alloy to his grief, Job 16:6; wherefore he turns himself to God, and speaks to him, and of what he had done to him, both to his family, and to himself; which things, as they proved the reality of his afflictions, were used by his friends as witnesses against him, Job 16:7; and then enters upon a detail of his troubles, both at the hands of God and man, in order to move the divine compassion, and the pity of his friends, Job 16:9; which occasioned him great sorrow and distress, Job 16:15; yet asserts his own innocence, and appeals to God for the truth of it, Job 16:17; and applies to him, and wishes his cause was pleaded with him, Job 16:20; and concludes with the sense he had of the shortness of his life, Job 16:22; which sentiment is enlarged upon in the following chapter.
miserable comforters are ye all; his friends came to comfort him, and no doubt were sincere in their intentions; they took methods, as they thought, proper to answer such an end; and were so sanguine as to think their consolations were the consolations of God, according to his will; and bore hard upon Job for seeming to slight them, Job 15:11; to which Job here may have respect; but they were so far from administering divine consolation, that they were none at all, and worse than none; instead of yielding comfort, what they said added to his trouble and affliction; they were, as it may be rendered, "comforters of trouble", or "troublesome comforters" (k), which is what rhetoricians call an oxymoron; what they said, instead of relieving him, laid weights and heavy pressures upon him he could not bear; by suggesting his afflictions were for some enormous crime and secret sin that he lived in the commission of; and that he was no other than an hypocrite: and unless he repented and reformed, he could not expect it would be better with him; and this was the sentiment of them one and all: so to persons under a sense of sin, and distressed about the salvation of their souls, legal preachers are miserable comforters, who send them to a convicting, condemning, and cursing law, for relief; to their duties of obedience to it for peace, pardon, and acceptance with God; who decry the grace of God in man's salvation, and cry up the works of men; who lay aside the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ, the consolation of Israel, and leave out the Spirit of God the Comforter in their discourses; and indeed all that can be said, or directed to, besides the consolation that springs from God by Christ, through the application of the Spirit, signifies nothing; for if any comfort could be had from any other, he would not be, as he is called, the God of all comfort; all the creatures and creature enjoyments, even the best are broken cisterns, and like the deceitful brooks Job compares his friends to, Job 6:15, that disappoint when any expectations of comfort are raised upon them.
(k) "consolatores molestiae", Vatablus, Drusius, Mercerus, Cocceius, Schmidt, Michaelis; "molesti", Beza, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Codurcus, Tigurine version; "molestissimi", Schultens.
or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest? when men are engaged in a good cause, have truth on their side, and are furnished with arguments sufficient to defend it, this animates and emboldens them to stand up in the defence of it, and to answer their adversaries, and to reply when there is occasion; but Job could not imagine what should encourage and spirit up Eliphaz to answer again, when he had been sufficiently confuted; when his cause was bad, and he had no strong reasons to produce in the vindication of it; or "what has exasperated" or "provoked thee" (l) to make reply? here Job seems to have thought that he had said nothing that was irritating, though it is notorious he had, such were his grief and troubles; and so well assured he was of his being in the right, that the harsh and severe words and expressions he had used were not thought by him to have exceeded due bounds, such as Job 12:2.
(k) "verbis venti", Beza, Bolducius, Mercerus, Schmidt, Michaelis. (l) "quid exacerbat te", Junius & Tremellius; so Codureus, Schultens.
if your soul were in my soul's stead; in the same afflicted state and condition, in the same distressed case and circumstances; not that he wished it, as some render the words, for a good man will not wish hurt to another; only he supposes this, as it was a case supposable, and not impossible to be a fact, some time or another, in this state of uncertainty and change; however it is right to put ourselves in the case of others in our own imagination, that so it may be considered in the proper point of view, that we may better judge how we should choose to be treated ourselves in such circumstances, and so teach us to do that to others as we would have done to ourselves:
I could heap up words against you; talk as fast as you to me, and run you down with a great torrent of words; Job had a great fluency, he talked a great deal in his afflicted, state, too much as his friends thought, who represent him as dealing in a multitude of words, and as a very talkative man, Job 8:2; and what could he have done, had he his health, and in prosperous circumstances as formerly? he could have brought many charges and accusations against them, as they had against him; or "would I heap up words against you?" or "ought I?" &c. (o); no, it would not be my duty, nor would I do it; humanity and good sense would never have allowed me to do it; but, on the contrary, I "would have joined myself with you", in a social, free, and familiar manner, in words (p), in a friendly meeting with you, so the words may be read and paraphrased; I would have come and paid you a visit, and sat down by you, and entered into a kind and compassionate conversation with you about your case and condition, and done all I could to comfort you; I would have framed and composed (as the word used signifies) a set discourse on purpose; I would have sought out all the acceptable words, and put them together in the best manner I could for you (q); had I the tongue of the learned, I would have made use of it, to have spoken a word in season to you:
and shake mine head at you; by way of scorn and derision, that is, he could have done it as well as they; shaking the head is used as a sign of contempt, Psalm 22:8; or "would I", or "ought I to shake my head at you" (r) if in my case? no, I would not; as I ought not, I would have scorned to have done it; or the sense may be, "I would have shook my head at you", in a way of pity, bemoaning lamenting, and, condoling your case (s); see Job 42:11.
(m) "sicut vos loqui deberem?" Schmidt. (n) "Etiam ego ut vos loquerer?" Cocceius; so Broughton. (o) "nectere deberem nexus contra vos verbis?" Schmidt. (p) "Adjungerem me super vos in sermonibus", Montanus, Bolducius; so Vatablus, Cocceius. (q) "Vobis enim aptum sermonem accommodarem", Tigarine version; so Codurcus. (r) "et caput meum quassarem super vobis", Cocceius; "movere deberem super vos caput meum?" Schmidt. (s) So Tigurine version and Bar Tzemach, , Hom. II. 17. v. 200.
and the moving of my lips should assuage your grief: words uttered by him, which are done by the moving of the lips, should be such as would have a tendency to allay grief, to stop, restrain, forbid, and lessen sorrow; at least that it might not break out in an extravagant way, and exceed bounds, and that his friends might not be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
and though I forbear speaking, hold my peace, and say nothing,
what am I eased? or "what goes from me" (t)? not anything of my trouble or grief; sometimes a man speaking of his troubles to his friends gives vent to his grief, and he is somewhat eased; and on the other hand being silent about it, he forgets it, and it goes off; but in neither of those ways could Job be released: or it may be his sense is, that when he spake of his affliction, and attempted to vindicate his character, he was represented as an impatient and passionate man, if not as blasphemous, so that his grief was rather increased than assuaged; and if he was silent, that was interpreted a consciousness of his guilt; so that, let him take what course he would, it was much the same, he could get no ease nor comfort.
(t) "quid a me abit", Junius & Tremellius, Schultens.
thou hast made desolate all my company, or "congregation" (w); the congregation of saints that met at his house for religious worship, as some think, which now through his affliction was broke up, whom Eliphaz had called a congregation of hypocrites, Job 15:34; which passage Job may have respect unto; or rather his family, his children, which were taken away from him: the Jews say (x), ten persons in any place make a congregation; this was just the number of Job's children, seven sons and three daughters; or it may be he may have respect to his friends, that came to visit him, who were moved and stupefied as it were at the sight of him and his afflictions, as the word (y) is by some translated, and who were alienated from him; were not friendly to him, nor administered to him any comfort; so that they were as if he had none, or worse.
(u) "Dolor meus", V. L. so Aben Ezra & Cocceius. (w) "meam congregationem", Pagninus; "conventum meum", Montanus, Bolducius. (x) Vid. Drusium in loc. (y) "Stupefe isti", Tigurine version; so Jarchi.
which is a witness against me; as it was improved by his friends, who represented his afflictions as proofs and testimonies of his being a bad man; though these wrinkles were witnesses for him, as it may be as well supplied, that he really was an afflicted man:
and my leanness rising up in me; his bones standing up, and standing out, and having scarce anything on them but skin, the flesh being gone:
beareth witness to my face; openly, manifestly, to full conviction; not that he was a sinful man, but an afflicted man; Eliphaz had no reason to talk to Job of a wicked man's being covered with fatness, and of collops of fat on his flanks, Job 15:27;
he gnasheth upon me with his teeth; as men do when they are full of wrath and fury: this is one way of showing it, as the enemies of David, a type of Christ, and the slayers of Stephen, his protomartyr, did, Psalm 35:16; and as beasts of prey, such as the lion, wolf, do:
mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me; the Targum adds, as a razor. Here again Job considers God as his enemy, though he was not, misinterpreting his dealings with him; he represents him as looking out sharp after him, inspecting narrowly into all his ways, and works, and actions, strictly observing his failings and infirmities, calling him to an account, and afflicting him for them, and dealing rigidly and severely with him for any small offence: his eyes seemed to him to be like flames of fire, to sparkle with wrath and revenge; his thee, as he imagined, was set against him, and his eyes upon him to destroy him; and thus the eye of vindictive justice was upon Christ his antitype, when he was made sin and a curse for his people, and the sword of justice was awaked against him, and thrust in him.
they have smitten me on the cheek reproachfully; to be smitten on the cheek is a reproach itself, and is a suffering not very patiently endured. Hence Christ, to teach his followers patience, advised when they were smitten on the one cheek to turn the other, that is, to take the blow patiently; and it is not the smart of the stroke that is so much regarded as the shame of it, the affront given, and the indignity offered; see 2 Corinthians 11:20; so that the phrase may be taken for reproaching him; and indeed it may be rendered, "they have smitten on the cheek with reproach" (a); they reproached him, which was the same as if they had smitten him on the cheek; they smote him with their tongues, as Jeremiah's enemies smote him, Jeremiah 18:18; they threw the dirt of scandal and calumny at him, and which is the common lot of God's people; and though since they are reproached for Christ's sake, for the Gospel's sake, and for righteousness sake, they should not be disturbed at that; but rather reckon themselves happy, as they are said to be, and bind these reproaches about their necks as chains of gold, and esteem them greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt. This was literally true of Job's antitype, the Messiah, for as it was foretold of him that he should give his cheek to those that plucked off the hair, and they should smite the Judge of Israel with a rod upon his cheek, Isaiah 50:6, so this was done unto him by the servants of the high priest in his hall, and by others, Matthew 26:67;
they have gathered themselves together against me; Job's friends got together in order to visit him and comfort him, but it proved otherwise, and he viewed it in no other light than as a combination against him: the words may be rendered, "they filled themselves against me" (b); their hearts with wrath and anger, as the Targum; their mouths with reproaches and calumnies, and their eyes with pleasure and delight, and satisfaction at his miseries and afflictions; and so the Vulgate Latin version,
"they are satiated with my punishments;''
though rather this may respect the high spirits they were in, the boldness and even impudence, as Job interpreted it, they showed in their conduct towards him, their hearts being swelled with pride and haughtiness and passion (c); see Esther 7:5; or else their numbers that came against him; so Mr. Broughton renders the words, "they came by full troops upon me"; Job's three friends, being great personages, very probably brought a large retinue and train of servants with them; who, observing their master's conduct, behaved in an indecent manner towards him themselves, to whom he may have respect, Job 30:1; this was verified in Christ his antitype, whom Judas, with a multitude of men, with swords and staves, even with a band of soldiers, came to apprehend in the garden; and when Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and people of Israel, were gathered against him to do what God had determined should be done, Matthew 26:46.
(a) "cum opprobrio", Beza, Vatablus, Drusius; so Schmidt, Michaelis, Schultens; "with reproaches", Broughton. (b) "impleverunt sese", De Dieu. (c) Vid. De Dieu in loc.
and turned me over into the hands of the wicked; signifying the same as before, unless it should be rendered, "and caused me to decline", or "come down by the hands of the wicked" (e) that is, from his former state of prosperity and happiness, into the low circumstances in which he was, and which he was brought into by the means of wicked men, God suffering it so to be.
(d) "vinctum me tradidit", Grotius, Michaelis, Schultens. (e) "divertere fecit a vita", Pagninus; "declinare me facit", Beza, Drusius, Mercerus.
he hath also taken me by the neck, and shaken me to pieces; as a combatant in wrestling, who is stronger than his antagonist, uses him; or as a giant, who takes a dwarf by his neck or collar, and shakes him, as if he would shake him to pieces, limb from limb; or "hath dashed" or "broken me to pieces" (f); or to shivers; as glass or earthen vessels dashed against a wall, or struck with a hammer, fly into a thousand pieces, can never be put together again; so Job reckoned of his state and condition as irrecoverable, that his health, his substance, his family, could never be restored as they had been:
and set me up for his mark; to shoot at, of which he complains Job 7:20; a like expression is used by the church in Lamentations 3:12; and a phrase similar to this is used of Christ, Luke 2:34; and in consequence of this are what follow.
(f) "confregit me", V. L. Pagninus; "minutatim confregit me", Tigurine version; so Schultens, Jarchi, & Ben Gersom.
he cleaveth my reins asunder; by causing his arrows to enter into them, Lamentations 3:13; the consequence of which must be death; a man cannot live, at least long, after this is his case; though some think this is to be understood of the disorder of the stone in his reins or kidneys, which was very distressing to him:
and doth not spare; shows no mercy or pity, though in such sad circumstances and dreadful agonies; thus God spared not his own son, Romans 8:32;
he poureth out my gall upon the ground; which is done by piercing the gall bladder with the sword, or any such instrument, see Job 20:25; which must issue in death; and the design of both these clauses is to show, that Job looked upon his case irretrievable, and he here makes use of hyperbolical expressions to set it forth by.
(g) "Ejus magnates", Comment. Ebr. p. 773. "ejus magni", Montanus.
he runneth upon me like a giant; with great fury and fierceness, with great strength and courage, with great speed and swiftness, causing great terror and distress; he not being able to resist him, any more than a dwarf a giant, and no more, nor so much, a match for him; see Isaiah 42:13.
and defiled my horn, in the dust: as he did when he sat in ashes, as he afterwards repented in dust and ashes; and it was usual in the times of mourning to put dust or ashes upon the head; which may be meant by his horn, the horn of a beast, to which the allusion is, being in the head; and this may be put for the whole body, which sometimes, on such occasions, was rolled in dust and ashes, see Joshua 7:6; and the horn being an emblem of grandeur, power, and authority, may denote that Job now laid aside all the ensigns of it, and was content to have his honour laid in the dust, and lie low before God, and not lift up his horn unto him, and much less stretch out his hand against him; the Targum is,
"I sprinkled my glory in or with dust.''
(h) "super laceram cutem", Schultens; "cutis eaque laesa et ulceribus percussa", Stockius, p. 188. "cutim percusiit", Hottinger. Smegma Orient. p. 135. Stockius, ib.
and on my eyelids is the shadow of death; which were become dim through weeping, so that he could scarcely see out of them, and, like a dying man, could hardly lift them up; and such was his sorrowful condition, that he never expected deliverance from it, but that it would issue in death; and which he supposed was very near, and that he had many symptoms of it, of which the decay of his eyesight was one; and he was so far from winking with his eyes in a wanton and ludicrous way, as Eliphaz had hinted, Job 15:12; that there was such a dead weight upon them, even the shadow of death itself, that he was not able to lift them up.
(i) "intumuit", V. L. Tigurine version; "fermentescit", Schultens.
also my prayer is pure: he prayed, which disproves the calumny of Eliphaz, Job 15:4; and his prayer was pure too; not that it was free from failings and infirmities, which attend the best, but from hypocrisy and deceit; it came not out of feigned lips, but was put up in sincerity and truth; it sprang from an heart purified by the grace of God, and sprinkled from an evil conscience; it was put up in the faith of Christ, and as a pure offering through him; Job lifted up pure and holy hands, and with these a pure and holy heart, and for pure and holy things; so that it was not for want of doing justice to men, nor for want of devotion towards God, that be was thus afflicted by him; compare with this what is said of his antitype, Isaiah 53:9.
and let my cry have no place; meaning if he was the wicked man and the hypocrite he was said to be, or if his prayer was not pure, sincere, and upright, as he said it was, then he desired that when he cried to God, or to man, in his distress, he might be regarded by neither; that his cry might not enter into the ears of the Lord of hosts, but that it might be shut out, and he cover himself with a cloud, that it might not pass through, and have any place with him; land that he might not meet with any pity and compassion from the heart, nor help and relief from the hand of any man.
for my record is on high; or "my testimony"; that can testify for me; who is an "eyewitness" (k), as some render it, before whom all things are naked and open; who has seen all my actions, even the very inmost recesses of my mind, all the thoughts of my heart, and all the principles of my actions, and him I desire to bear record of me; such appeals are lawful in some cases, which ought not to be common and trivial ones, but of moment and importance, and which cannot well be determined in any other way; such as was the charge of hypocrisy against Job, and suspicions of his having been guilty of some notorious crime, though it could not be pointed at and proved; see 1 Samuel 12:3, 2 Corinthians 1:13.
(k) "oculatus meus testis", Schultens.
but mine eye poureth out tears unto God; in great plenty, because of his very great sorrows and distresses, both inward and outward; and it was his mercy, that when his friends slighted and neglected him, yea, bore hard upon him, and mocked at him, that he had a God to go to, and pour out not only his tears, but all his complaints, and even his very soul unto him, from whom he might hope for relief; and what he said, when he did this, is as follows.
as a man pleadeth for his neighbour; using great freedom, and powerful arguments, and having no dread of the judge, nor fear of carrying the cause for his neighbour; so Job wishes, that either one for him, or he himself, might be freed from the dread of the divine Majesty, and might be suffered to speak as freely to his case as a counsellor at the bar does for his client. The words will admit of a more evangelic sense by observing that God, to whom Job says his eye poured out tears, at the close of Job 16:20, is to be understood of the second Person in the Godhead, Jehovah, the Son of God, the Messiah; and then read these words that follow thus, "and he will plead for a man with God, and the Son of man for his friend"; which last clause perhaps may be better rendered, "even the Son of man", &c. and so they are expressive of Job's faith, that though his friends despised him, yet he to whom he poured out his tears, and committed his case, would plead his cause with God for him, and thoroughly plead it, when he should be acquitted. The appellation, "the Son of man", is a well known name for the Messiah in the New Testament, and is not altogether unknown in the Old, see Psalm 80:17; and one part of his work and office is to be an advocate with the Father for his friends, whom he makes, reckons, and uses as such, even all the Father has given him, and he has redeemed by his blood; for these he pleads his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, to the satisfaction of the law, and justice of God, and against Satan, and all enemies whatever, and for every blessing they want; and for which work he is abundantly fit, because of the dignity of his person, his nearness to God his Father, and the interest he has in him. Gussetius (l) goes this way, and observes that this sense has not been taken notice of by interpreters, which he seems to wonder at; whereas our English annotator on the place had it long ago, and Mr. Caryll after him, though disapproved of by some modern interpreters.
(l) Ebr. Comment. p. 320, 321.