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Job 23:1-17. Job's Answer.

2. to-day—implying, perhaps, that the debate was carried on through more days than one (see Introduction).

bitter—(Job 7:11; 10:1).

my stroke—the hand of God on me (Margin, Job 19:21; Ps 32:4).

heavier than—is so heavy that I cannot relieve myself adequately by groaning.

3. The same wish as in Job 13:3 (compare Heb 10:19-22).

Seat—The idea in the Hebrew is a well-prepared throne (Ps 9:7).

4. order—state methodically (Job 13:18; Isa 43:26).

fill, &c.—I would have abundance of arguments to adduce.

5. he—emphatic: it little matters what man may say of me, if only I know what God judges of me.

6. An objection suggests itself, while he utters the wish (Job 23:5). Do I hereby wish that He should plead against me with His omnipotence? Far from it! (Job 9:19, 34; 13:21; 30:18).

strength—so as to prevail with Him: as in Jacob's case (Ho 12:3, 4). Umbreit and Maurer better translate as in Job 4:20 (I only wish that He) "would attend to me," that is, give me a patient hearing as an ordinary judge, not using His omnipotence, but only His divine knowledge of my innocence.

7. There—rather, "Then": if God would "attend" to me (Job 23:6).

righteous—that is, the result of my dispute would be, He would acknowledge me as righteous.

delivered—from suspicion of guilt on the part of my Judge.

8. But I wish in vain. For "behold," &c.

forward … backward—rather, "to the east—to the west." The Hebrew geographers faced the east, that is, sunrise: not the north, as we do. So "before" means east: "behind," west (so the Hindus). Para, "before"—east: Apara, "behind"—west: Daschina, "the right hand"—south: Bama, "left"—north. A similar reference to sunrise appears in the name Asia, "sunrise," Europe, "sunset"; pure Babylonian names, as Rawlinson shows.

9. Rather, "To the north."

work—God's glorious works are especially seen towards the north region of the sky by one in the northern hemisphere. The antithesis is between God working and yet not being beheld: as in Job 9:11, between "He goeth by," and "I see Him not." If the Hebrew bears it, the parallelism to the second clause is better suited by translating, as Umbreit, "doth hide himself"; but then the antithesis to "behold" would be lost.

right hand—"in the south."

hideth—appropriately, of the unexplored south, then regarded as uninhabitable because of its heat (see Job 34:29).

10. But—correcting himself for the wish that his cause should be known before God. The omniscient One already knoweth the way in me (my inward principles: His outward way or course of acts is mentioned in Job 23:11. So in me, Job 4:21); though for some inscrutable cause He as yet hides Himself (Job 23:8, 9).

when—let Him only but try my cause, I shall, &c.

11. held—fast by His steps. The law is in Old Testament poetry regarded as a way, God going before us as our guide, in whose footsteps we must tread (Ps 17:5).

declined—(Ps 125:5).

12. esteemed—rather, "laid up," namely, as a treasure found (Mt 13:44; Ps 119:11); alluding to the words of Eliphaz (Job 22:22). There was no need to tell me so; I have done so already (Jer 15:16).

necessary—"Appointed portion" (of food; as in Pr 30:8). Umbreit and Maurer translate, "More than my law," my own will, in antithesis to "the words of His mouth" (Joh 6:38). Probably under the general term, "what is appointed to me" (the same Hebrew is in Job 23:14), all that ministers to the appetites of the body and carnal will is included.

13. in one mind—notwithstanding my innocence, He is unaltered in His purpose of proving me guilty (Job 9:12).

soul—His will (Ps 115:3). God's sovereignty. He has one great purpose; nothing is haphazard; everything has its proper place with a view to His purpose.

14. many such—He has yet many more such ills in store for me, though hidden in His breast (Job 10:13).

15. God's decrees, impossible to be resisted, and leaving us in the dark as to what may come next, are calculated to fill the mind with holy awe [Barnes].

16. soft—faint; hath melted my courage. Here again Job's language is that of Jesus Christ (Ps 22:14).

17. Because I was not taken away by death from the evil to come (literally, "from before the face of the darkness," Isa 57:1). Alluding to the words of Eliphaz (Job 22:11), "darkness," that is, calamity.

cut off—rather, in the Arabic sense, brought to the land of silence; my sad complaint hushed in death [Umbreit]. "Darkness" in the second clause, not the same Hebrew word as in the first, "cloud," "obscurity." Instead of "covering the cloud (of evil) from my face," He "covers" me with it (Job 22:11).

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