JOB CHAPTER 16.
Job Replies to Eliphaz.
JOB COMPLAINS OF THE UNMERCIFUL ATTITUDE OF HIS FRIENDS. — V. 1. Then Job answered and said, in repudiating also this speech and its insinuations, v. 2. I have heard many such things, he had now heard arguments of this kind in a greater amount than he cared for. Miserable comforters, literally, “consolers of distress,” are ye all, men whose words, instead of comforting and lifting up, only intensified the burden of Job’s distress. V. 3. Shall vain, windy, empty, words have an end? It was about time that they brought something more substantial if they intended to comfort him. Or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest? What particular thing had vexed, goaded, incited Eliphaz so as to feel called upon to bring this new insult? V. 4. I also could speak as ye do, he might serve them in the same manner, pay them in like coin; if your soul were in my soul’s stead, if they were in his place, I could heap up words against you, weaving a web of them, stringing them together, in the same form of unnatural statements which came from them, and shake mine head at you, in a gesture of questioning scorn, of malicious doubt, just as they had been doing in making him smart under their suspicions. V. 5. But I would strengthen you with my mouth, mere words taking the place of real deeds of love, and the moving of my lips should assuage your grief, a bitter reference to the hollow consolations which Eliphaz had spoken of, chap. 1. 5, 11. Such sympathy, Job insists, is easily given, since it is so cheap. V. 6. Though I speak, my grief is not assuaged, if he gives vent to his misery, it does him no good, namely, with such poor comforters at hand; and though I forbear, what am I eased? If he desists from speaking, his pain does not leave, and his friends have no more true sympathy for him than before. Their unmerciful attitude is that of many others of their kind, whose very sympathy for those in misery has a cutting quality, which hurts more than it comforts.
JOB SHOWS THE PITIFULNESS OF HIS CASE AND MAINTAINS HIS INNOCENCE. — V. 7. But now He hath made me weary, God had brought him to the point of utter exhaustion; Thou hast made desolate all my company, his whole family, the loss of which, together with the estrangement of his wife, was doubly hard to bear, now that his friends had become hostile to him. V. 8. And Thou hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me, the fact that God had seized him and placed him in a shriveled and wrinkled condition seemed a witness of his guilt; and my leanness rising up in me beareth witness to my face, his wasted condition appeared against him, accusing him to his face, this also being construed as a proof of his guilt. V. 9. He teareth me in His wrath, who hateth me, God’s anger had apparently made war upon him, torn him, was pursuing him hard; He gnasheth upon me with His teeth, as though He were truly enraged against Job; mine Enemy, which God now seemed to have become, sharpeneth His eyes upon me, whetting them as though He intended to use them for piercing Job through as with swords. V. 10. They, the enemies of Job among men, have gaped upon me with their mouth, in a gesture of insolent mockery; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully, to show their contempt of him; they have gathered themselves together against me, coming in ranks and heaps and strengthening one another for the attack. V. 11. God hath delivered me to the ungodly, exposing him to the attacks of the unrighteous, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked, casting him headlong into the power of knaves and rascals, these harsh expressions being directed also against his professed friends. V. 12. I was at ease, but He hath broken me asunder, shattering him, dashing him to pieces; He hath also taken me by my neck and shaken me to pieces, like a man who is seized by his head and thrown down over a precipice, where all his limbs are broken, and set me up for His mark, the target at which He directed His shafts. V. 13. His archers compass me round about, rather, whirred about me His arrows or darts; He cleaveth my reins asunder and doth not spare, cutting open vital organs of his body; He poureth out my gall upon the ground, spoken figuratively of the violent pain which affected his entire being. The picture is now changed to that of a besieged city or fortress. V. 14. He breaketh me with breach upon breach, like a wall which is being battered down by heavy projectiles; He runneth upon me like a giant, like a mighty warrior striking down everything in his path. V. 15. I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, stitching it about his loins as a garment of mourning, and defiled my horn in the dust, all his power and dignity had been covered with the deepest humiliation. V. 16. My face is foul with weeping, burning, glowing red, almost inflamed with the sharp pain caused by the tears, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death, he had wept himself almost to blindness or out of life. V. 17. Not for any injustice in mine hands, all this had come upon him although no violence clung to his hands, he was not guilty of gross wickedness; also my prayer is pure, it was made without hypocrisy, in all sincerity of his heart. V. 18. O earth, cover not thou my blood, so that it might cry to heaven in witness of his innocence, and let my cry have no place, his call for vengeance should not be quieted until an avenger had arisen for his blood; for Job still believed that God would finally avenge the blood which His wrath had shed, as blood which had been innocently poured out. V. 19. Also now, behold, my Witness is in heaven, and my Record, He who attested to his innocence, is on high, even though all appearances are now against him. V. 20. My friends scorn me, literally, “although mockers of me my friends”; but mine eye poureth out tears unto God, directing his tearful entreaty to the Lord for justice and help. V. 21. Oh, that one might plead for a man with God, that God would decide before His own tribunal in favor of Job, that He would pronounce him not guilty, as a man pleadeth for his neighbor, that God would also decide in favor of Job over against his friends, setting him forth as innocent. V. 22. When a few years are come, the years which are numbered very carefully, the last ones which remain before death, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return, for Job knew that the course of the illness with which he was suffering was rapid and invariably fatal. Some commentators find a reference to the intercessory work of Christ in the words: The Son of Man for His neighbor. The words may surely be taken as typical of the work of the Savior as our Advocate with the Father.