Job's Wish He Had Not Been Born-ch 3
Job Questions His Existence (3:1-10)
(v.1) After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed his birthday:
(v.2) And Job continued and said,
(v.3) Let the day perish in which I was born, and the night that said, a manchild is conceived.
(v.4) Let that day be darkness. Let not God regard it from above. Let not the light shine upon it.
(v.5) Let darkness and the shadow of death claim it. Let a cloud dwell upon it, Let the eclipse of the day terrify it.
(v.6) As for that night, let darkness capture it. Let it not rejoice in the days of the year. Let it not come to the number of moons.
(v.7) Behold that night, let it be sterile. Let not rejoicing come to it.
(v.8) Those who curse the day may they wish it evil, Who are ready to arouse leviathan.
(v.9) Let the stars of twilight be dark, They wait for light and there is none. Let them not be able to see the first wisps of the morning.
(v. 10) Because it did not shut the doors of my womb, Nor hid sorrow from my eyes.
(v.1) AFTER THIS, JOB OPENED HIS MOUTH AND CURSED HIS BIRTHDAY:
Some think "curse" here is too strong a word for wayeqaleel but all Job wanted was that he had never been born. This is the ordinary meaning of the word "to curse." It means more than "revile." Arur is the word used when Jeremiah cursed his birthday (Jer.20:14). That is a stronger word than qalal used here.
As etiquette demanded, Job took the initiative in speaking. Perhaps, in the silence of his friends he sensed a critical spirit. He wished to express his feelings before they criticized him. Jeremiah (20:14-18) followed Job's example. He cursed those who brought tidings that he had been born; that man should be as Sodom and Gomorrah, he says. He wished his mother's womb had been his grave; he would have been spared labor, sorrow, shame.
(v.2) AND JOB CONTINUED AND SAID:
The word ya'an means "answer." Job perhaps did answer the silence of his friends. It may be better to translate as "continue." The Hebrew word wayo'mar for "and said" has a Patah in the last syllable rather than a Milel; this is used in poetic sections when introduced by a prose section. See Job 4:1, 6:1, 8:1.
(v.3) LET THE DAY PERISH IN WHICH I WAS BORN:
A day cannot perish. God has committed the world to time, directed by sun, moon and stars. Job knew that God directs time and can cause changes. Yareeach is the word used for "moons," indicating that Job (as Jews did later) followed a lunar calendar rather than the Julian, or Gregorian, which we use. This did not require exactness with days. With the lunar calendar, phases of the moon were important. We fit days into moon phases and an omitted day does not always affect the phases.
Following the lunar calendar, a day may be more easily omitted than by today's system. From the viewpoint of using the lunar calendar, Job's request was not unscientific.
AND THE NIGHT THAT SAID, A MANCHILD IS
Day and night are personified poetically, as in Ps. 19:2 where we read that day utters speech and day and night show knowledge.
It is interesting, both poetically and scientifically, that horah (word for "conception") is used rather than the poetic synonym for nolad, i.e., chalal (word for birth). Job knew that life begins at conception, proving pro-abortionists wrong. Poetically, it is more forceful.
Here is a beautiful poetic and symbolic division. We have a sort of title in verse 4 (for verses 4 -10); in 4-5 the day is cursed and in 6-10 night is cursed, representing two divisions in one verse. Day and night are personified. A manchild was regarded as superior because a female (at marriage) joined another family. The Psalmist writes that he was shapen in iniquity and in sin did his mother conceive him (Ps.51:5).
(v.4) LET THAT DAY BE DARKNESS:
This seems to be a reference to the manner in which sorcerers operated. Job is so desperate he does not refrain from alluding to sorcerers' use of astrology. Undoubtedly this was common in society at that time. Realizing he cannot cause that day to vanish, Job considers cursing it. Knowing also that God will not curse it, he turns to sorcerers for it. Perhaps he does not mean for this to continue every year, for in 31:26.27 he condemns all forms of star worship.
LET NOT GOD REGARD IT FROM ABOVE:
In Deut.11:12 we read that if Israel would keep the Law, God would regard the land forever and have His eyes on it from the beginning of the year to the end. In bitterness Job asks that God not care for it. The expression "from above" indicates God's greater power from where He operates.
LET NOT THE LIGHT SHINE UPON IT:
The noun neharah (lightning, glory) is a feminine form, yet a subject and nominative. This odd grammatical and poetic construction is found in verse 5 with "cloud," 'ananah. In 4:6 it is "your confidence" in diberatiy. In some cases there is also a masculine verb, indicating another way of switching genders in Hebrew. It is an odd grammatical construction and there is also poetic reiteration. In Gen.1:2 we read "darkness was upon the face of the earth."
(v.5) LET DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH CLAIM IT:
"Shadow of death" wetzalemawet is found nine times in Job and four in the Psalms. Some commentators think it is an archaic word. The word "goal" means to require, demand rights, and is translated "stain" in the KJV. "Claim" or "require" is better. There is a sort of Heniadyn here: "The thickest darkness and the worst darkness of death." Compare Job 10:21 and 34:22 with Luke 1:79.
LET A CLOUD DWELL UPON IT:
Job wishes the day to be dark. Commentator Rawlinson thinks of a Khomain wind which suddenly turns daylight into darkness, spreading all around a thick lurid darkness. The wind instantly makes the sky black and heavy, with the sun appearing as a dim violet hue. The breeze becomes hot like an oven and candles are used at noon.
LET THE ECLIPSE OF THE DAY TERRIFY IT:
The word kimeriyreey has to do with blackness of the day and yeba'atuhu means "to terrify." Zoeckler suggests a daytime eclipse of the sun. This would be a terrifying climax. Possibly this is what occurred while Jonah preached to the people at Nineveh. Date calculations made by Eugene Faulstich seem to indicate this.
(v.6) AS FOR THAT NIGHT,
LET DARKNESS CAPTURE IT:
This refers to the night of conception; it should have been eternally dark, not turning to day. Job understood that God controls time, but time itself is not God. Verses 6-10 speak of night as in verse 3b, indicating poetic harmony.
LET IT NOT REJOICE IN THE DAYS OF THE YEAR:
Some translate yachade as "let it not be joined". This was used in the LXX version and was followed by translators of the KJV. But the Massoretic pointing supports the concept of "rejoice". Also, in Ex. 18:9 wayichade means to rejoice as Israel rejoiced when Moses led the people from Egypt. Again, the suggestion is that God controls time, but time itself is not God.
LET IT NOT COME TO THE NUMBER OF MOONS:
This also indicates time. The word is yerachiym which means, first of all, "moons." The Jewish calendar was based on lunar phases and did not require 365 days per year. With our Gregorian or Julian calendar, an extra day is added during leap years. Following phases of the moon, a month averaged 29.33 days, and days were adjusted to the phases. Some years there would be 13 months in the automatic adjustment. Even a moon month could be eliminated as well as a day. The expression suggests that Job followed the lunar calendar, yet in previous expressions there is indication he was also concerned about the days in a year. Eliminating the day of his conception could be done more easily if a lunar calendar were followed.
(v.7) BEHOLD THE NIGHT, LET IT BE STERILE:
The word galemud means to "make hard" or to "make sterile." It is used also in Is.49:21 when Isaiah encourages Zion to rejoice and sing though her heart is sorrowful and feels sterile or "desolate," having no children. Job knew that his life started before birth, at conception with the joining of sperm and ovum. This is in contrast to pro-abortion claims that life begins at birth. This imposes a moral control on manipulation of human genes. It is murder to destroy human life even at the cell level.
LET NOT REJOICING COME TO IT:
Usually parents rejoice at a conception and there is physical pleasure in the act leading to conception. Among the ancients there was even greater joy because children were regarded as a blessing, more so than in today's society where emphasis is on reducing conception and birth. Regardless of human reasons, God's command to be fruitful and multiply applies even today. Because of his grief, Job is bitter about his conception.
(v.8) THOSE WHO CURSE THE DAY MAY THEY WISH IT EVIL:
Yiqebuhu seems to carry also the thought of cursing and 'orareev definitely means "curse." Perhaps the first word should be translated "to wish evil." Though it seems to refer to those who cursed days in general, Job had something specific in mind. He seems to refer to astrologers and he is still trying to eliminate the day of his conception from the calendar or, at least, have it cursed. Astrologers use signs of the Zodiac to determine whether a certain birth date is lucky or unlucky. Job's reference to astrologers does not imply that he believed their statements but he has sunk so far into bitterness that he is willing for astrologers to curse the day of his birth, and even his conception. Jeremiah also cursed the day of his birth (Jer.20:14).
WHO ARE READY TO AROUSE LEVIATHAN:
Here "leviathan" means the dragon in the sky, in and around the Little Bear, stepped on by Orion. In Is. 27:1 we read of both leviathan and the crooked serpent nachash, a reference to Egypt but perhaps also to the crooked serpent in signs of the Zodiac. Perhaps Job wished astrologers to arouse the serpent in the sky to curse the day, if not to eliminate it. Perhaps he wished them to cause an eclipse of the sun (v.5) by arousing leviathan in the sky and terrifying people. In Is.27:1 we find nachash, leviathan and the crooked serpent and in Job 26:13 "the crooked serpent" is in the sky.
(v.9) LET THE STARS OF TWILIGHT BE DARK:
Nishepo may mean either twilight or dawning. Most references are to "twilight": (Job 7:4, Ps.119:147, Job 24:15, Prov.7:9, II Kings 7:5) e.g., lepers went out in "twilight" and discovered the Syrian army had gone. The first meaning is total darkness, not even starlight.
THEY WAIT FOR LIGHT AND THERE IS NONE:
This seems to take one through the night. Again, night is personified.
LET THEM NOT BE ABLE TO SEE THE FIRST WISPS OF THE MORNING:
Milton translates as "eyelids of the morning" capturing the poetry, but is not as accurate as "wisps" for be'aphe'e'apeey. The whole night and day are to remain dark in twilight, starlight, and dawn. Thus, the night of his conception is cursed.
(v.10) BECAUSE IT DID NOT SHUT THE DOOR OF MY WOMB:
The reading is "my womb," not "my mother's womb." This is significant because conception is not in the doors of the mother's womb, but in the female ovum. It is difficult for the male sperm to penetrate the ovum and, generally, it does not. Job seems to be saying the doors of the ovum were to be closed to the male sperm. The word for "womb" is bitheniy. In I Sam.1:5 it is rachemah with reference to the Lord shutting up the womb of Hannah. Perhaps the word bathan has reference more to the female ovum. Bathan has more of a background of womb than does racham, which is derived from a background of "Come, make comparison."
NOR HID SORROW FROM MY EYES:
The negation carries over from the first section of this verse and strophe. The word 'amal for sorrow is indefinite and absolute. If Job had not been conceived, his present sorrow would not plague him. This is a generalized sorrow and is as far in nature as we can go for initiation of sorrow. God can go farther, but we cannot.
Verse 6 had an apparent reference to the lunar calendar—a day being removed. According to the Gregorian calendar, a day cannot be removed from the year. Realizing his request had gone too far, Job settles for that day and night being cursed. According to the lunar calendar, a day may be dropped. Later the Jews were not concerned about individual days.
Eclipse of the Sun
The statement in v.5 that blackness of day should terrify the day may refer to an eclipse. In his computer studies Eugene Faulstich has determined that on the day Jonah preached in Nineveh (Jonah 3:4-10) there was a noon eclipse of the sun. Terrified the people repented and the city was spared. In verse 5 if kimeriyreey is translated as "eclipse," there was reason to be terrified.
In verse 8 are mentioned people who curse the day to wish it evil and then of arousing leviathan. This may refer to astrologers who cursed a day by claiming a person was born under the wrong star. This would also arouse the dragon found in the sky which here is called "leviathan." Perhaps this dragon could cause an eclipse of the sun or prevent stars from shining (v.9). It is strange that Job who is described as perfect, upright, fearing the Lord, refraining from evil (1:7.8, 2:3) would refer to astrologers with any credibility; yet he apparently does. In his bitterness he seized on anything which might curse the night in which he was conceived. He departed from the Lord when he accused God of injustice.
We mentioned a problem in 1:21 where Job speaks of going back into his mother's womb rather than returning to dust. There is a problem also in v.10 about shutting the door of the womb. It does not say mother's womb but uses the word mebethen which is Hebrew for "from the womb." Not only does he wish his mother's womb had been closed to prevent his conception, but also the doors of the ovum be closed to conception. This is supported in verse 7 where the translation reads that the night be hard or sterile, as indicated by the word galemud. Job is not condemning his mother to total sterility, only for the night in which he was conceived. These verses indicate that both Job and Solomon were informed in the area of genetics.
Job Wishes for Realm of Death
Rather than for Life (Job 3:11-19)
(v.11) Why did I not die from the womb? (Why) did I not give up the ghost from the belly?
(v.12) Why did the knees prevent me? And why the breasts that I should suck?
(v.13) For now I should have lain still and been quiet. I should have gone to sleep and then there would be rest for me.
(v.14) With the kings and counselors of the earth, who build ruins for themselves.
(v.15) Or with princes rich in gold, who filled their houses with silver.
(v.16) Or that I had not been, because of a hidden, untimely birth as infants who never saw light.
(v.17) There the wicked cease from unrest. There they rest who have been wearied in strength.
(v.18) (There) the prisoners rest together, they do not hear the voice of the oppressor.
(v.19) The small and the great are there themselves. And the servant is free from his lord.
This section is divided into three parts and contains sacred three's. Job wished he had died in the womb (3:11-13). In death he wished to be equal with the great and rich (3:14-16). In death all are equalized (3:17-19).
(v.11) WHY DID I NOT DIE FROM THE WOMB?
This appears to mean dying after birth rather than in the womb (Jer. 20:17). Min has a local, rather than time, significance as it is used in meerechem.
WHY DID I NOT GIVE UP THE GHOST FROM THE BELLY?
The second part of the verse is directed by the first, saying the same thing in poetic form. The ancients often stated that life was not worth living.
(v.12) WHY DID THE KNEES PREVENT ME?
This might mean knees of the father, but more likely knees of the mother. Rather than being dangled on the knees (Is. 66: 12), they should have prevented the newborn life. Knees of Joseph are mentioned in Gen. 50:23, also knees of Rachel with children of her handmaid Bilhah (Gen. 30:3). There seems to be a reference to a practice of parents raising only a number of their children. Job's wishing he had not been born was a sin against mankind told to be fruitful and to multiply (Gen. 1:28). Job was no longer perfect with God.
AND THE BREASTS THAT I SHOULD SUCK?
Kiy is consecutive as in 6:11, 7:12, 10:6. The imperfect 'iynaq indicates continued action from preceding phrases. Withholding food from newborns, thus starving them, is another way of destroying life.
(v.13) FOR NOW I SHOULD HAVE BEEN STILL AND BEEN QUIET:
If he had been allowed to die at birth, his turmoil would have been averted, Job thinks. He is not perfect before God who directs all life. 'Atah means "now" as in Job 13:19 and I Sam.13:13.
I SHOULD HAVE GONE TO SLEEP AND THERE WOULD BE REST FOR ME:
The Hebrew word yashenetiy means "to have gone to sleep." Other references considering death as sleep are Matt.9:24, John 11:11, Acts 7:60, I Cor.15:18.51. The word yanuach for rest is used impersonally as in Is.23:12 and Neh. 9:28.
(v.14) WITH KINGS AND COUNSELORS OF THE EARTH:
In the section 9:13-19 Job indicates how he thinks death equalizes. This is not the case and, even in the next life, there will not be equality. In hell there will be more suffering of soul and body than we can imagine. Job had departed from the Lord, what he had feared his children would do barak (1:5). When one departs from God everything gets deceptive. Job was mighty and prestigious and a counselor. In Is.14:9-11 we read of the king of Babylon being in hell. Hell is an equalizer. Though Job is wrong in his contention, this is the inspired Word of God; the picture of life after death is accurate. Isaiah pictures hell rising to meet the great ones of nations.
WHO BUILD RUINS FOR THEMSELVES:
There is a division of opinion on the meaning of charabot. It seems to mean that palaces which kings have built will become ruins in time. The kings are buried in graves. In ls.58:12 the word is used for building up of waste places. In the Mid-East today there are many of these, but already 4000 years ago in Job's day, there were such desolate places. At Megiddo there are ruins on top of ruins. In ls.61:4 we read of the new Israel building up old wastes and repairing former desolations. Edom will return and build up waste places (Mal.1:4), but the prophet foretells they will be torn down again. Here the references seem to be not of rebuilding waste places but rather, that palaces which kings built will become ruins. Some find a reference to mausoleums for kings, such as the Pyramids. The pyramids of Egypt may have been built by Job's time, but that is unlikely.
We like the expression that all flesh will become as grass (10:9). Job states that God fashioned him as clay and will return him again to dust. God knows our frame and He will turn it again to dust (Ps. 103: 14). Eliphaz says it will be as grass (5:25) and the Psalmist says we are as grass that grows up (Ps.90:5). Some translate charaboth as street and some change it to armenot "palaces." This is doing violence to a perfect Word.
(v.15) OR WITH PRINCES RICH IN GOLD:
This may refer to the Eastern habit of placing vessels filled with gold in graves of rich people and of kings. Kings of Egypt and Phoenicia received this type of burial. A Scythian king of Crimea had a gold shield, a golden diadem, and two silver vases in his tomb. Another Scythian tomb, near the Caspian Sea, when opened by Russian authorities, contained ornaments set with rubies and emeralds, together with four sheets of gold weighing 40 pounds. We read that the tomb of Cyrus, the Great, contained a golden table set with drinking cups, a golden bowl, and elegant clothing set with gems.
Following the direction of Job 3:14 we prefer to think of princes who in this life were rich in gold, but in death are equal with others in graves. Eliphaz says if people are righteous, God fills their houses with good things (22:18). While true in general, it is not always thus.
(v.16) OR THAT I HAD NOT BEEN, BECAUSE OF A HIDDEN, UNTIMELY BIRTH:
The word nephel means to fall off, or to have a miscarriage. The Psalmist wishes the wicked to be as an untimely birth that will not see the sun (Ps.58:8). The same word is used in Eccl.6:3 to show that if a man beget one hundred children and lives for many years, and his soul is not filled with good and he has no burial, an untimely birth is better than he. The word thamun means to bury or hide as in Gen.35:4 where the reference is to hiding gods under an oak. Jacob did this after his sons destroyed Shechem. In Ex.2:12 the word is used when Moses buried the Egyptian taskmaster whom he had slain.
AS INFANTS WHO NEVER SAW THE LIGHT:
In describing the deeper Gospel of the Messenger in a Thousand, Elihu says when this One ransoms from the pit, there is enlightenment. This is with the light of the living which Job says he had never seen. Again, Job is departing from the Lord (1: 5), the thing he feared for his sons and daughters.
There is stark contrast purposely between buildings of the rich, eventually ravaged by war and by the Second Law, and by a miscarriage when the light of living is not seen. These are all equal. In bitterness Job wishes a death that makes all equal. He has already departed from a perfect worship of God.
(v.17) THERE THE WICKED CEASE FROM UNREST:
Job demonstrates the wicked are violent, but in death they no longer oppress. In death the prisoner is equal with his oppressor. Small and great, servant and lord, all are equal. He does not elaborate whether this is in hell or in heaven. He is thinking of death as such. He does not have an intermediate place in mind. What moves him is that death is the ultimate equalizer. Sham is Hebrew for "there," referring to realm of the sea.
The "wicked" resha'iym oppress. The prophet says the wicked have no peace (ls.48:22 and 57:21). The ungodly which the wind drives away are haresha'iym (Ps.1 : 4). Hell is meant. Rogets means unrest, aroused within. In ls.57:20 the wicked are described as a troubled sea that casts up mire and dirt. In hell the wicked will have even more unrest than on earth, lending difficulty in understanding what Job meant. It almost sounds as though he has an intermediate state in mind, perhaps a state of no consciousness until Judgment Day. Jeremiah speaks of a fountain casting out water; thus Jerusalem casts out wickedness, violence and spoil (Jer. 6:7).
THERE THEY REST WHO HAVE BEEN WEARIED IN STRENGTH:
Some say here is a contrast between oppressors and oppressed. They refer to Job 14:20 and 27:13 where there is a contrast and the oppressed are designated as 'ariytz. However, the word 'aritz is not used here. We think of oppressors who have wearied of using strength and violence. True rest is derived from love and forgiveness. Perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18). There is no rest in hell, so Job must mean an intermediate state, but that indicates unclear thinking.
(v.18) THERE THE PRISONERS REST TOGETHER:
Emphasis is on "together." "There" of verse 17 directs this verse. In the state of death, prisoners are equal with oppressors.
THEY DO NOT HEAR THE VOICE OF THE OPPRESSOR:
Nogesh seems to refer to taskmasters, such as the Irsaelites had in Egypt (Ex. 3:7, 5:6). In both references they are described as nogesayw who urged weary laborers to work with "Fulfill your works" and "Fulfill your daily tasks" (Ex. 5:13). In the grave these hated sounds are not heard.
(v.19) THE SMALL AND THE GREAT ARE THERE THEMSELVES:
They are alike in position and worth. Use of hu' after "there" sham emphasizes they are equal as in Is. 41:4 where we read "I, the Lord, I am He." In Ps. 102:27 we read we'atahu', meaning "but thou art the same." The hu' intensifies. Small and great are equal.
AND THE SERVANT IS FREE FROM HIS LORD:
Here the word 'ebed means "slave" rather than servant. Wretchedness of slavery is emphasized.
We are reminded of Ecclesiastes where Solomon, the skeptic, shows that whatever men desire in this world, or "under the sun" is all vanity . In Hebrew nabal (word for folly) and habal (word for vanity) sound very much alike. According to Dr. Jack McDaniel, the Orientals have no curse word involving hell, but to call a person a "fool" is cursing. Their concern is more with shame than with guilt. The Preacher in Ecclesiastes sees vanity in all and Job states that death equalizes everything. This indicates that Solomon is connected with writing the book of Job.
Job is Weary of Life
Wonders Why He should Live (3:20-26)
(v.20) Why does He give light to the miserable? And life to the bitter in soul?
(v.21) Which long for death and it is not, and they dig for it more than for hidden treasure.
(v.22) Who rejoice unto dancing and are happy that they find the grave.
(v.23) To the man whose way is hid, and whom God enclosed with a hedge.
(v.24) In place of my bread comes my sighing, as waters my roarings are poured out.
(v.25) And that which I greatly feared has happened to me, and that at which I shudder is come to me.
(v.26) I slackened not, neither was I quiet, neither took I rest, yet trouble came.
(V.20) WHY DOES HE GIVE
LIGHT TO THE MISERABLE?
These verses end Job's first address. He emphasizes why he ought to live. The first four verses are contingent on the first part of verse 20—why God gives light to the miserable. Verses 24-26 are the climax of his first speech. As in Job 24:22, God is understood. There is no HE in Hebrew; HE is understood from the verb yiteen. Clearly, Job is questioning God. In answer, Zophar asks whether by searching, Job can know the Almighty to perfection (11:7.8). He asks whether Job can know the depth or height of God.
AND LIFE TO THE BITTER IN SOUL:
The second clause poetically repeats the first clause of verse 11. Bitterness of soul is a parallel to "miserable." The Hebrew lemareey naphesh is like Prov.31:6, with the same Hebrew expression at the end, reading "Give strong drink to him that is ready to perish and wine to those that be of heavy heart." The same expression is used in I Sam.1:10, referring to Hannah who was in bitterness of soul.
(v.21) WHICH LONG FOR DEATH AND IT IS NOT:
Verses 21 and 22 offer a more full description of being bitter in soul, lemareey naphesh in participle form, with finite verbs attached to the participles. Anxiously and longingly they wait for death.
AND THEY DIG FOR IT MORE THAN FOR HID TREASURE:
The verb is imperfect consecutive with present tense waycheperuhu. The idea of death was so real they imagined they were already digging the grave, as digging for a treasure. The word chaphar may also mean "search" as searching for hidden treasures (Job 11:18, 39:21.29). In an unstable Oriental society many treasures were buried and there was always a feverish excitement to find a buried treasure, lost or otherwise. Even today many archeological digs are a search for lost treasures. Emphasis here is on greed of people searching. Job says this is the kind of avidity the miserable and bitter have when searching for scientific advances through nature.
(v.22) WHO REJOICE TO DANCING:
Here is more climax; joy of dancing is greater than the desire to dig for hidden treasure. Hosea describes it as a joy of this world (Hos.9:1). Job is not spiritual here; he is morbid. Few rejoice to dancing in their wish to die.
AND ARE HAPPY THAT THEY FIND THE GRAVE:
Again, "being happy" yasiysu is stronger than the hasemeechiym "to rejoice" of the previous clause. Here is a steady progression of joy and, again, quite unreal. Sometimes people rejoice in their suicide, but not with this unreal progression of joy depicted by Job.
(v.23) TO THE MAN WHOSE WAY IS HID:
This takes us back to verse 20, speaking to the man whom God gives weariness and bitterness of soul. His way is hidden, like the man whose way is fenced in and he cannot pass (Job 19:8). God has hedged him in (Lam.3:7) and Jeremiah cannot get out. Like Job, Israel complained wrongly that the way is hidden from the Lord in His judgment (ls.40:27).
AND WHOM GOD HAS ENCLOSED WITH A HEDGE:
Here God has not protectively enclosed Job as the devil claimed in 1:10. The word ba'ado means to enclose with something terminal, e.g., a hedge. Hosea speaks of God hedging a way with thorns (Hos.2:6). Thought of a hedge is in the verb wayaseg as in Hos.2:6.
(v.24) IN PLACE OF MY BREAD COMES MY SIGHING:
There is dispute on liphenee whether it should be translated as "instead of" or "before." According to Delitzsch, it may be substitutionary; that is the way we take it. Sighing takes the place of food; better is the sighing. In serious illness people often are unable to eat.
AS WATERS MY ROARINGS ARE POURED OUT:
"Roarings" sha'agotay is a feminine form while the verb is masculine, as in Job 16:22 and Ps. 104:8. Lamentations are roaring and poured out in large quantities, as water. In Ps.22:1 we read of words of roaring and in Job 4:10 we read of a lion's roaring. Emphasis on "waters" may be more on quantity than on sound, intensifying the thought. Roaring of a lion is mentioned also in Zech.11:3 and Amos 3:8. The verb wayiteku is consecutive and closely connected with the preceding clause.
(v.25) AND THAT WHICH I GREATLY FEARED HAS HAPPENED TO ME:
This is an absolute construct and actually says: "for I fear a fear and it comes to me." In prosperity perhaps he did not have this fear, but now he is beset with fear; worse than he could imagine has happened to him. Way'etayeeniy is poetic and full of tone. This is true also of Job 16:22.
AND THAT AT WHICH I SHUDDER IS COME TO ME:
Again, the first part of the verse is repeated poetically for emphasis, as in v.11. Shuddering is stronger than "fearing greatly." An additional physical feeling is involved. The word is yagoretiy.
(v.26) I SLACKENED NOT, NEITHER WAS I QUIET, NEITHER TOOK I REST:
This is the short ending of Job's first speech, a poetic climax. Some, e.g., Revised Version, translate this as "I am not at ease, neither am I quiet, neither have I rest, but trouble comes." We prefer the Authorized Version that in no instance was Job not diligent in his religious obligations. In no instance did he relax from fearing the Lord, yet trouble vexed him, and he was perplexed. This is his real problem.
YET TROUBLE CAME:
It is the perplexity, in spite of Job's diligence and religious activity, that is the key. All else he says about wishing for death is summed up in this perplexity. He has lost full confidence in God. He accuses God by idolatrous references to astrology, by his wrong view of death, and his morbid attitude regarding alleged pleasures of death. It is this perplexity and its solution which are at the heart of the book. Wishing he had not been born and desiring the dead state are not the answer.
Life and Light
Light is a gift from God, as is life (v.20). Life and light are somewhat associated here, as also in John 1:4. Perhaps in science we ought to work toward associating them.
Digging in the Earth
Job writes that people dig for hidden treasures; this is emphasized also in the wisdom chapter (28). We are doing this today in drilling for oil and mining for gold and precious gems and metals. We need an eagerness for new discoveries in science, especially when we feel hedged in.
Intensity of Grief
In the discipline of psychology and parapsychology there is a scientific study on grief. Sometimes grief becomes more important than food; it is as a roar of many waters. While Job feared he would depart from God, that is exactly what he was doing (1:5).
Though in our interpretation of charabot (Job 3:14), we reject the idea that mausoleums built for kings are meant, particularly the pyramids. From a scientific viewpoint pyramids should be considered. In our opinion, the pyramids in Egypt were built following the time of Job, more likely during the time of Joseph or shortly thereafter. Many believe the great pyramid, especially, has scientific and religious significance. If Job is referring to them, he is not alluding to the skill required to build them, nor to the symbolic, scientific or religious meaning. Rather, reference is more to vastness and riches and then to their desolation and destruction. In spite of all schemes to prevent people from discovering their wealth and mysteries, and in spite of all their curses upon their desecrators they have become desolate. The pyramids still stand, but their glory is gone. Kings and princes who had them built are gone, equalized in the grave. Death serves as an equalizer.
Death and Intermediate State
In describing real blessings of death, Job makes a mistake. He was already accusing God of injustice, wishing he had not been conceived and born, and he continues with saying death is better than what he was experiencing. He departed from God when he said death was better than life. Rich kings who built palaces of gold (which then were destroyed) would be equalized in death with the poor, and oppressed and oppressor would be equal in death. He did not take into account that the wicked are punished forever in hell while the righteous are blessed forever in heaven.
Also, the question arises whether Job was implying an intermediate state, a state in which the body rests while waiting for Judgment Day. In Eccl.9:5 we read that the dead know nothing. If Job did suggest an intermediate state, it could only be a state in which the dead wait for Judgment Day.
Cynicism of the "I" section in Ecclesiastes indicates that, perhaps, Solomon is responsible for the final writing of Job. The cynic in Ecclesiastes equalizes rich and poor; no matter what people achieve in this life, in death it is all vanity. "All" is vanity, according to Eccl. 1:2. A similar, yet different equalization is noted in ls.40. We read that every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill made low, emphasizing the converting power of the Gospel. This does not denounce the blessings of life as Job does.
The rest of which Job speaks in his dubious, intermediate state is not
the rest of Heb.4:9: "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of
God." The best that can be said of Job's imaginary rest is that there is
no consciousness between death and Judgment Day, and that is not much rest.
The rest of death is not a door to eternal rest and life in heaven. Christ
is that rest and the door. And there is no rest at all in hell. In hell
there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 24: 51)
There is no justification here for the Roman Catholic purgatory nor for Adventism which teaches that the wicked are annihilated rather than punished or reincarnated. Neither is there justification for sheol of higher critics who seek to dilute the sting of eternal judgment with an alleged intermediate state.
To the end of chapter two, Job was perfect, upright, feared God and refrained from evil. In chapter three he makes many mistakes, confirming that he had departed barak from the Lord. This has puzzled some students. It is elaborated throughout the dialogue with the three friends. While some excuse Job, others condemn him in varying degrees—some altogether, some less.
Certainly Job was wrong in saying that death is better than life, affording more rest. First, he accuses God of mistakes in allowing his conception and birth. This is accusing God of injustice and is departing from serving Him with heart, soul, and mind. No longer was Job perfect with God.
This claims there is rest in physical death that is unimportant and insignificant. True rest is not in death, but in eternal life, its opposite. Real death is eternal punishment, far more intense than Job was experiencing.
This is the mistake made by the "I" part of Solomon (the skeptic) in Ecclesiastes which states "Vanity of vanity, all is vanity." The "He" part of Solomon answers that life has meaning and value in the fear of the Lord. Later Job finds the answer (Job 19:25, 28:28).
There is some excuse for Job's weakness in his intense sorrow. He was
wrong, but not so wrong that he could not be returned through Elihu who
led him deeper into God's love.