Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Cursed his day. Job cursed the day of his birth, not by way of wishing evil to any thing of God’s creation; but only to express in a stronger manner his sense of human miseries in general, and of his own calamities in particular. (Challoner) — He has these only in view: though, in another light, it is better for a man to be born, and to undergo any misery, that he may obtain eternal rewards. (Haydock) — Some allowances must be made for extreme pain, and for the style of the Eastern (Calmet) poetry. (Haydock) — Jeremias, (xx. 14.) Habacuc, (i. 2.) the psalmist, and even our Saviour in his agony, made use of such strong expressions, Matthew xxvi. 39., and xxvii. 46. Some heretics accuse Job of impatience and blasphemy. The devil, therefore, came off with victory; and the praises given to Job’s patience are false. He might offend by some degree of exaggeration. (Calmet) — But even that is by no means clear. Time past could not be recalled, nor receive any injury by the maledictions. (Haydock)
Ver. 7. Praise, by the appearance of the stars, chap. xxxviii. 7. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Day. The nations of Ethiopia, under the line, curse the sun as their greatest enemy. (Strabo xvii.) (Pliny, [Natural History?] v. 8.) — They also brave the fury of the leviathan or crocodile, chap. xl. 27., and xli. 1., and Psalm lxxiii. 14. The natives of Tentyra, upon the Nile, were supposed to be a terror to that monster, or they were very courageous in entangling and pursuing it. (Seneca, q. 4. 2.) (Pliny viii. 25.) — Leviathan. Protestants, “their mourning.” De Dieu rejects this interpretation, substituting “and thou, leviathan, rouse up,” &c. The fathers generally understand the devil to be thus designated. Septuagint, “he who is about to seize the great whale,” (Haydock) or fish, which they also explain of the conflict of Satan with Jesus Christ. (Origen, &c.)
Ver. 10. Nor took. Septuagint, “for it would then have freed my eyes from labour.”
Ver. 11. In the. Hebrew, “from the womb,” (Haydock) or as soon as I was born. (Calmet) — He seems to have lost sight of original sin, (ver. 1.) or there might be some method of having it remitted to children unborn, which we do not know. (Haydock)
Ver. 12. Knees, by my father or grandfather, Genesis xxx. 3. (Homer, Iliad ix.) (Calmet)
Ver. 13. Sleep. So death is often styled.
Olli dura quies oculos et ferreus urget
Somnus: in æternam clauduntur lumina noctem. (Virgil, Æneid x.)
Ver. 14. Consuls. Hebrew, “counsellors,” or any in great authority. Septuagint, “kings, the counsellors of the land, who rejoiced, boasting of their swords.” The same word, choraboth, (Haydock) means both swords and solitudes. (Du Hamel) — Those great ones had prepared their own tombs, which were usually in solitary places; (Calmet) or they had filled all with their extensive palaces; and removed the people to a distance. (Haydock)
Ver. 15. Houses, while alive; (Calmet) or their tombs were thus enriched with silver, (Menochius) as this practice was not uncommon, ver. 22. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] xiii. 15.) — Marcian forbade it. St. Chrysostom complains it subsisted in his time. (Orat. Annæ.) (Calmet)
Ver. 16. Light; dying in the womb. He expresses a desire that he had been thus prevented from feeling his present miseries and danger of sin. (Haydock)
Ver. 17. Tumult. In the grave they can no longer disturb the world. (Menochius) — In strength. Septuagint, “in body.” Both heroes and labourers then find rest, (Calmet) if they have lived virtuously. (Haydock)
Ver. 18. Bound in chains, like incorrigible slaves, (Calmet) or debtors. (Cocceius.) — These were formerly treated with great severity, Luke xii. 59. (Calmet)
Ver. 21. Not. They feel the same eagerness for death as those who seek for a treasure; (Calmet) and when death is at hand, they rejoice no less than those who discover a grave, in which they hope to find some riches, ver. 15, 22.
Ver. 22. Grave, full of stores, or the place where they may repose. (Haydock)
Ver. 23. To. Why is life given to? &c. The uncertainty whether a man be worthy of love or hatred, (Ecclesiastes ix. 1.) and whether he will persevere to the end, is what fills Job with distress; though we must trust that God will suffer none to be tempted above their strength, 1 Corinthians x. 13. — He finds himself surrounded with precipices, and in the dark. (Calmet) — So God often tries his faithful servants. (Du Hamel)
Ver. 24. Sigh, through difficulty of swallowing, (Pineda) or sense of misery. (Haydock)
Ver. 25. Fear. In prosperity he feared the assaults of pride. Now he is in danger of yielding to impatience and despair. (Calmet)
Ver. 26. Dissembled my sufferings, making no complaint, not only during the seven days that his friends had been with him, but long before. Hebrew and Septuagint, “I was not in safety, nor at rest; neither was I indolent: (Haydock; in the administration of affairs. Calmet) yet trouble came.” (Haydock) — I have enjoyed no peace, since the wrath of the Lord has found me. (Calmet) — In such a situation, Job might well beg to be delivered, (Haydock) and to pray that those things which obstructed his repose in God might be removed; considering them not so much as the works of God, as the effects of sin. (Pineda) (Worthington) — In this light he curses his birth-day, and will no longer look upon it as a joyful and happy day. (Du Hamel)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Job expresseth his sense of the miseries of man’s life, by cursing the day of his birth.
1 After this, Job opened his mouth, and cursed his day,
2 And he said:
3 *Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said: A man-child is conceived.
4 Let that day be turned into darkness, let not God regard it from above, and let not the light shine upon it.
5 Let darkness, and the shadow of death, cover it, let a mist overspread it, and let it be wrapped up in bitterness.
6 Let a darksome whirlwind seize upon that night, let it not be counted in the days of the year, nor numbered in the months.
7 Let that night be solitary, and not worthy of praise.
8 Let them curse it who curse the day, who are ready to raise up a leviathan:
9 Let the stars be darkened with the mist thereof: let it expect light, and not see it, nor the rising of the dawning of the day:
10 Because it shut not up the doors of the womb that bore me, nor took away evils from my eyes.
11 Why did I not die in the womb? why did I not perish when I came out of the belly?
12 Why received upon the knees? why suckled at the breasts?
13 For now I should have been asleep and still, and should have rest in my sleep:
14 With kings and consuls of the earth, who build themselves solitudes:
15 Or with princes, that possess gold, and fill their houses with silver:
16 Or as a hidden untimely birth, I should not be; or as they that, being conceived, have not seen the light.
17 There the wicked cease from tumult, and there the wearied in strength are at rest.
18 And they sometime bound together without disquiet, have not heard the voice of the oppressor.
19 The small and great are there, and the servant is free from his master.
20 Why is light given to him that is in misery, and life to them that are in bitterness of soul?
21 That look for death, and it cometh not, as they that dig for a treasure:
22 And they rejoice exceedingly when they have found the grave?
23 To a man whose way is hidden, and God hath surrounded him with darkness?
24 Before I eat I sigh: and as overflowing waters, so is my roaring:
25 For the fear which I feared, hath come upon me: and that which I was afraid of, hath befallen me.
26 Have I not dissembled? have I not kept silence? have I not been quiet? and indignation is come upon me.
3: Jeremias xx. 14.