My breath is strange to my wife
Being corrupt and unsavoury, through some internal disorder; see ( Job 17:1 ) ; so that she could not bear to come nigh him, to do any kind deed for him; but if this was his case, and his natural breath was so foul, his friends would not have been able to have been so long in the same room with him, and carry on so long a conversation with him; rather therefore it may signify the words of his mouth, his speech along with his breath, which were very disagreeable to his wife; when upon her soliciting him to curse God and die, he told her she talked like one of the foolish women; and when he taught her to expect evil as well as good at the hand of God, and to bear afflictions patiently, or else the sense may be, "my spirit" F6, his vital spirit, his life, was wearisome and loathsome to his wife; she was tired out with him, with hearing his continual groans and complaints, and wished to be rid of him, and that God would take away his life: or else, as some render it, "my spirit is strange [to me], because of my wife" F7; and then the meaning is, that Job was weary of his own life, he loathed it, and could have been glad to have it taken from him, because of the scoffs and jeers of his wife at him, her brawls and quarrels with him, and solicitations of him to curse God and renounce religion:
though I entreated her for the children's [sake] of mine own body;
this clause creates a difficulty with interpreters, since it is generally thought all Job's children were dead. Some think that only his elder children were destroyed at once, and that he had younger ones at home with him, which he here refers to; but this does not appear: others suppose these were children of his concubines; but this wants proof that he had any concubine; and besides an entreaty for the sake of such children could have no influence upon his proper wife: others take them for grandchildren, and who, indeed, are sometimes called children; but then they could not with strict propriety be called the children of his body; and for the same reason it cannot be meant of such that were brought up in his house, as if they were his children; nor such as were his disciples, or attended on him for instruction: but this may respect not any children then living, but those he had had; and the sense is, that Job entreated his wife, not for the use of the marriage bed, as some suggest F8; for it can hardly be thought, that, in such circumstances in which he was, there should be any desire of this kind; but to do some kind deed for him, as the dressing of his ulcers or such things which none but a wife could do well for him; and this he entreated for the sake of the children he had had by her, those pledges of their conjugal affection; or rather, since the word has the signification of deploring, lamenting, and bemoaning, the clause may be thus rendered, "and I lamented the children of my body" F9; he had none of those indeed to afflict him; and his affliction was, that they were taken away from him at once in such a violent manner; and therefore he puts in this among his family trials; or this may be an aggravation of his wife's want of tenderness and respect unto him; that his breath should be unsavoury, his talk disagreeable, and his sighs and moans be wearisome to her, when the burden of his song, the subject of his sorrowful complaints, was the loss of his children; in which it might have been thought she would have joined with him, being equally concerned therein.
F6 (yxwr) "spiritus meus", Junius & Tremellius, Vatablus, Schmidt, Schultens; "anima mea", Cocceius.
F7 (ytval) "propter uxorem meam", Schmidt.
F8 R. Levi Ben Gersom; so some in Vatablus.
F9 (ytwnxw) "deploro", Cocceius; "et miserans lugeo", Schmidt; "et miseret me", Michaelis; "comploro", Schultens.