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).