Job 6:1-30 . REPLY OF JOB TO ELIPHAZ.
16. blackish--literally, "Go as a mourner in black clothing" ( Psalms 34:14 ). A vivid and poetic image to picture the stream turbid and black with melted ice and snow, descending from the mountains into the valley. In the [second] clause, the snow dissolved is, in the poet's view, "hid" in the flood [UMBREIT].
17. wax warm--rather, "At the time when." ("But they soon wax") [UMBREIT]. "they become narrower (flow in a narrower bed), they are silent (cease to flow noisily); in the heat (of the sun) they are consumed or vanish out of their place. First the stream flows more narrowly--then it becomes silent and still; at length every trace of water disappears by evaporation under the hot sun" [UMBREIT].
18. turned aside--rather, "caravans" (Hebrew, "travellers") turn aside from their way, by circuitous routes, to obtain water. They had seen the brook in spring full of water: and now in the summer heat, on their weary journey, they turn off their road by a devious route to reach the living waters, which they remembered with such pleasure. But, when "they go," it is "into a desert" [NOYES and UMBREIT]. Not as English Version, "They go to nothing," which would be a tame repetition of the drying up of the waters in Job 6:17 ; instead of waters, they find an "empty wilderness"; and, not having strength to regain their road, bitterly disappointed, they "perish." The terse brevity is most expressive.
19. the troops--that is, "caravans."
Tema--north of Arabia-Deserta, near the Syrian desert; called from Tema son of Ishmael ( Genesis 25:15 , Isaiah 21:14 , Jeremiah 25:23 ), still so called by the Arabs. Job 6:19 Job 6:20 give another picture of the mortification of disappointed hopes, namely, those of the caravans on the direct road, anxiously awaiting the return of their companions from the distant valley. The mention of the locality whence the caravans came gives living reality to the picture.
Sheba--refers here not to the marauders in North Arabia-Deserta ( Job 1:15 ), but to the merchants ( Ezekiel 27:22 ) in the south, in Arabia-Felix or Yemen, "afar off" ( Jeremiah 6:20 , Matthew 12:42 , Genesis 10:28 ). Caravans are first mentioned in Genesis 37:25 ; men needed to travel thus in companies across the desert, for defense against the roving robbers and for mutual accommodation.
The companies . . . waited for them--cannot refer to the caravans who had gone in quest of the waters; for Job 6:18 describes their utter destruction.
20. literally, "each had hoped"; namely, that their companions would find water. The greater had been their hopes the more bitter now their disappointment;
they came thither--to the place.
and were ashamed--literally, "their countenances burn," an Oriental phrase for the shame and consternation of deceived expectation; so "ashamed" as to disappointment ( Romans 5:5 ).
21. As the dried-up brook is to the caravan, so are ye to me, namely, a nothing; ye might as well not be in existence [UMBREIT]. The Margin "like to them," or "to it" (namely, the waters of the brook), is not so good a reading.
ye see, and are afraid--Ye are struck aghast at the sight of my misery, and ye lose presence of mind. Job puts this mild construction on their failing to relieve him with affectionate consolation.
22. And yet I did not ask you to "bring me" a gift; or to "pay for me out of your substance a reward" (to the Judge, to redeem me from my punishment); all I asked from you was affectionate treatment.
23. the mighty--the oppressor, or creditor, in whose power the debtor was [UMBREIT].
24, 25. Irony. If you can "teach me" the right view, I am willing to be set right, and "hold my tongue"; and to be made to see my error. But then if your words be really the right words, how is it that they are so feeble? "Yet how feeble are the words of what you call the right view." So the Hebrew is used (in Micah 2:10 , 1:9 ). The English Version, "How powerful," &c., does not agree so well with the last clause of the verse.
25. And what will your arguings reprove?--literally, "the reproofs which proceed from you"; the emphasis is on you; you may find fault, who are not in my situation [UMBREIT].
26. Do you imagine--or, "mean."
to reprove words and (to reprove) the speeches of one desperate, (which are) as wind?--mere nothings, not to be so narrowly taken to task? UMBREIT not so well takes the Hebrew for "as wind," as "sentiments"; making formal "sentiments" antithetical to mere "speeches," and supplying, not the word "reprove," but "would you regard," from the first clause.
27. literally, "ye cause" (supply, "your anger") [UMBREIT], a net, namely, of sophistry [NOYES and SCHUTTENS], to fall upon the desolate (one bereft of help, like the fatherless orphan);
and ye dig (a pit) for your friend--that is, try to ensnare him, to catch him in the use of unguarded language [NOYES]. ( Psalms 57:6 ); metaphor from hunters catching wild beasts in a pit covered with brushwood to conceal it. UMBREIT from the Syriac, and answering to his interpretation of the first clause, has, "Would you be indignant against your friend?" The Hebrew in Job 41:6 , means to "feast upon." As the first clause asks, "Would you catch him in a net?" so this follows up the image, "And would you next feast upon him, and his miseries?" So the Septuagint.
28. be content--rather, "be pleased to"--look. Since you have so falsely judged my words, look upon me, that is, upon my countenance: for (it is evident before your faces) if I lie; my countenance will betray me, if I be the hypocrite that you suppose.
29. Return--rather, "retract" your charges:
let it not be iniquity--that is, (retract) that injustice may not be done me. Yea retract, "my righteousness is in it"; that is, my right is involved in this matter.
30. Will you say that my guilt lies in the organ of speech, and will you call it to account? or, Is it that my taste (palate) or discernment is not capable to form a judgment of perverse things? Is it thus you will explain the fact of my having no consciousness of guilt? [UMBREIT].