THE POEM OR DEBATE ITSELF (Job
FIRST SERIES IN IT (Job 3:1-14:22).
JOB FIRST (Job 3:1-26).
Job Curses the Day of His Birth and Wishes for
1. opened his mouth—The Orientals speak
seldom, and then sententiously; hence this formula expressing
deliberation and gravity (Ps 78:2). He
cursed his day—the strict
Hebrew word for "cursing:" not the same as in Job 1:5. Job cursed his birthday, but not his
2. spake—Hebrew, "answered," that
is, not to any actual question that preceded, but to the question
virtually involved in the case. His outburst is singularly wild and
20:14). To desire to die so
as to be free from sin is a mark of grace; to desire to die so as to
escape troubles is a mark of corruption. He was ill-fitted to die who
was so unwilling to live. But his trials were greater, and his light
less, than ours.
3. the night in which—rather "the
night which said." The words in italics are not in the Hebrew.
Night is personified and poetically made to speak. So in Job 3:7, and in Ps 19:2. The birth of a male in the East is a
matter of joy; often not so of a female.
4. let not God regard it—rather, more
poetically, "seek it out." "Let not God stoop from His bright throne to
raise it up from its dark hiding-place." The curse on the day in
Job 3:3, is amplified in Job 3:4, 5; that on the night, in Job 3:6-10.
5. Let … the shadow of
death—("deepest darkness," Isa 9:2).
stain it—This is a later sense of the
verb [Gesenius]; better the old and more
poetic idea, "Let darkness (the ancient night of chaotic gloom) resume
its rights over light (Ge 1:2), and
claim that day as its own."
a cloud—collectively, a gathered mass
of dark clouds.
the blackness of the day terrify
it—literally, "the obscurations"; whatever darkens the day
[Gesenius]. The verb in Hebrew
expresses sudden terrifying. May it be suddenly affrighted at its own
darkness. Umbreit explains it as
"magical incantations that darken the day," forming the climax to the
previous clauses; Job 3:8 speaks
of "cursers of the day" similarly. But the former view is simpler.
Others refer it to the poisonous simoom wind.
6. seize upon it—as its prey, that is,
utterly dissolve it.
joined unto the days of the
year—rather, by poetic personification, "Let it not
rejoice in the circle of days and nights and months, which form
the circle of years."
7. solitary—rather, "unfruitful." "Would
that it had not given birth to me."
8. them … curse the day—If
"mourning" be the right rendering in the latter clause of this verse,
these words refer to the hired mourners of the dead (Jer 9:17). But the Hebrew for "mourning"
elsewhere always denotes an animal, whether it be the crocodile or some
huge serpent (Isa 27:1),
such as is meant by "leviathan." Therefore, the expression, "cursers of
day," refers to magicians, who were believed to be able by charms to
make a day one of evil omen. (So Balaam, Nu 22:5). This accords with Umbreit's view (Job 3:7); or to the Ethiopians and Atlantes, who
"used to curse the sun at his rising for burning up them and their
country" [Herodotus]. Necromancers
claimed power to control or rouse wild beasts at will, as do the Indian
serpent-charmers of our day (Ps 58:5). Job
does not say they had the power they claimed; but, supposing they had,
may they curse the day. Schuttens
renders it by supplying words as follows:—Let those that are
ready for anything, call it (the day) the raiser up of
leviathan, that is, of a host of evils.
9. dawning of the day—literally,
"eyelashes of morning." The Arab poets call the sun the eye of day. His
early rays, therefore, breaking forth before sunrise, are the opening
eyelids or eyelashes of morning.
12. Why did the knees prevent
me?—Old English for "anticipate my wants." The
reference is to the solemn recognition of a new-born child by the
father, who used to place it on his knees as his own, whom he was bound
to rear (Ge 30:3; 50:23; Isa 66:12).
13. lain … quiet … slept—a
gradation. I should not only have lain, but been quiet,
and not only been quiet, but slept. Death in Scripture is
called "sleep" (Ps 13:3);
especially in the New Testament, where the resurrection-awakening is
more clearly set forth (1Co 15:51; 1Th 4:14; 5:10).
14. With kings … which built desolate places
for themselves—who built up for themselves what proved to be
(not palaces, but) ruins! The wounded spirit of Job, once a great emir
himself, sick of the vain struggles of mortal great men, after
grandeur, contemplates the palaces of kings, now desolate heaps of
ruins. His regarding the repose of death the most desirable end of the
great ones of earth, wearied with heaping up perishable treasures,
marks the irony that breaks out from the black clouds of melancholy
[Umbreit]. The "for themselves" marks
their selfishness. Michaelis explains it
weakly of mausoleums, such as are found still, of stupendous
proportions, in the ruins of Petra of Idumea.
15. filled their houses with silver—Some
take this to refer to the treasures which the ancients used to bury
with their dead. But see Job 3:26.
16. untimely birth—(Ps 58:8); preferable to the life of the restless
17. the wicked—the original meaning,
"those ever restless," "full of desires" (Isa 57:20, 21).
the weary—literally, "those whose
strength is wearied out" (Re 14:13).
18. There the prisoners rest—from their
19. servant—The slave is there
manumitted from slavery.
Job 3:20-26. He Complains of
Life because of His Anguish.
20. Wherefore giveth he light—namely,
God; often omitted reverentially (Job 24:23; Ec 9:9). Light, that is, life. The joyful light
ill suits the mourners. The grave is most in unison with their
23. whose way is hid—The picture of Job
is drawn from a wanderer who has lost his way, and who is hedged in, so
as to have no exit of escape (Ho 2:6; La 3:7, 9).
24. my sighing cometh before I eat—that
is, prevents my eating [Umbreit]; or,
conscious that the effort to eat brought on the disease, Job must sigh
before eating [Rosenmuller]; or, sighing
takes the place of good (Ps 42:3)
[Good]. But the first explanation
accords best with the text.
my roarings are poured out like the
waters—an image from the rushing sound of water
25. the thing which I … feared is come upon
me—In the beginning of his trials, when he heard of the loss
of one blessing, he feared the loss of another; and when he heard of
the loss of that, he feared the loss of a third.
that which I was afraid of is come unto
me—namely, the ill opinion of his friends, as though he were
a hypocrite on account of his trials.
26. I was not in safety … yet trouble
came—referring, not to his former state, but to the
beginning of his troubles. From that time I had no rest, there
was no intermission of sorrows. "And" (not, "yet") a fresh trouble is
coming, namely, my friends' suspicion of my being a hypocrite. This
gives the starting-point to the whole ensuing controversy.