Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. My sins, &c. In the Hebrew my wrath. He does not mean to compare his sufferings with his real sins; but with the imaginary crimes which his friends falsely imputed to him: and especially with his wrath or grief, expressed in the third chapter, which they so much accused. Though, as he tells them here, it bore no proportion with the greatness of his calamity. (Challoner) — Job does not deny but he may have transgressed. (Calmet) See chap. vii. 20. — But his is not conscious of any mortal offence; such as his friends insisted he must have committed, as he was so cruelly tormented. (Haydock) — Some deny canonical authority to the words of Job, because God reprehended him. But St. Gregory (Mor. vii.) says, Ab æterno judice casurus laudari non potuit. (Du Hamel) — “The man who was on the point of falling, could not be praised by the eternal Judge;” (Haydock) and it seems to be a mistake that Job erred, (Houbigant) though asserted by many. See Calmet; Worthington, &c. — Wrath. Hebrew, “O that my grief (Haydock; or complaints. Calmet) were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together.” (Protestants) (Haydock) — A just man confesses his own sins, but not those which are wrongfully laid to his charge. (Worthington)
Ver. 3. Heavier. The figure hyperbole is frequently used in Scripture, to give us some idea of what surpasses our understanding. Job intimates that the punishment was incomparably greater than his sins. As he and other saints, particularly our Saviour [Jesus Christ] and the blessed Virgin [Mary], have thus patiently suffered more than they had deserved, these merits form part of that treasure of the Church, out of which the pope and bishops are empowered to dispense indulgences, to release people from the pains due to sin, either in this world or in purgatory. (Worthington) — Septuagint, “Yea, these (sorrows) are heavier than the sand of the sea-shore. But, it seems my words are wicked.” (Haydock)
Ver. 4. Rage. Hebrew, “poison,” (Haydock) or “venom;” (Chaldean; Menochius) as it was customary to use poisoned arrows. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “When I begin to speak, they pierce me. For what! Does the wild ass continually bray, except when he is in quest of food?” (Haydock) — It is easy for those to be silent who suffer nothing. The wild asses were so common in those parts, (Calmet) that Herod sometimes slew 40 in a hunt. (Josephus, Jewish Wars i. 16.) — Many fabulous accounts have been given of them. Some are still found in Ethiopia resembling a mule, except in the ears, and beautifully striped with grey, black, and reddish colours. (Bernier)
Ver. 6. Salt. I wonder not that you should consider my lamentations as insipid; I now find some consolation in them, ver. 7. (Calmet) — Or can. Hebrew, “or is there any taste in the white of an egg?” (Protestants) or in blue milk? (Mercer) or “in the spittle, which a man swallows in a dream?” See Isaias xxviii. 8. If pain did not extort these complaints, should I find any pleasure in them? (Calmet) — Septuagint, “is there any taste in vain words?” Can I hear your arguments without indignation? (Haydock) (Menochius) — Some manuscripts add, “For to a hungry soul even bitter things appear to be sweet,” from Proverbs xxvii. 7. (Calmet)
Ver. 9. Off, and release me from this state of misery and danger. (Haydock) — He is ready to die cheerfully, if it be God’s will. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “May the Lord, who has begun, wound me, but not take me away finally. Yea, let my city, over which I have exulted, be my grave. I will not spare, for I have not belied a word of my holy God.” (Haydock)
Ver. 11. End. Septuagint, “time.” I am too weak and short-lived to bear all this. (Haydock) — I can perceive no end. (Menochius) — Keep. Protestants, “prolong my life.” (Haydock) — “What is the extent of my soul, to reach so far?” (Calmet) — Longanimity is the characteristic of a great soul. (Haydock)
Ver. 12. Brass. This is proverbial. Homer (Iliad A) says, “Attack the Greeks; their skin is neither of stone, (Calmet) iron, or brass.” Those who are aware of their own frailty, ought not to expose themselves to dangerous company, particularly to those of the other sex.
Ver. 13. Myself. “Have I not placed my trust in him?” God alone. (Haydock) — All my other friends have abandoned me, ver. 15. (Calmet) — Can they wonder if I express my grief? (Haydock) — Familiar. Hebrew, “is wisdom removed far from me?” (Haydock) — Has my strength abandoned me, so that I cannot be recognized? (Calmet)
Ver. 16. Them. They shall run from a less to a greater evil. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “Those who respected me, have now fallen upon me, like snow or ice; (17) as when it is consumed with heat, it is no longer known where it was: (18) thus I have been abandoned by all, lost and expelled from my house.” Consider, (19) Hebrew continues, in the comparison of the torrents, (15) “which are hidden by the ice and snow,” and are left dry and of no service in summer, when most wanted. (Haydock) — So these friends stood by me only in the days of my prosperity. (Calmet) — Luther and the Dutch version follow the Vulgate, Amama says, improperly. He proposes that of Pagnin, “which (torrents) are darkened by the ice. Snow is concealed in (Montanus, upon) them.” (Haydock)
Ver. 18. Entangled. Like meandering streams, my friends act crookedly. (Menochius)
Ver. 19. While. Till the torrents subside, when the caravans from these towns of Arabia may pass on. Job may also address his friends, (Calmet) and bid them consider how few had taken any notice of him. (Menochius) — Protestants, “the troops of Tema looked, the companies of Sheba waited for them.”
Ver. 20. I. Hebrew, “they had hoped” to pass along. (Haydock)
Ver. 21. Come. Hebrew, “are good for nothing.” (Calmet) — Protestant marginal note, “like to them.”
Ver. 25. Why. Hebrew, “How strong are the words of truth!” (Calmet) — Whereas. Protestants, “But what doth your arguing reprove?” What part of my discourse do you find erroneous? Septuagint, “But it seems the words of the man of truth are deceitful. Yet I do not beg from you (a word or) strength.” (Haydock)
Ver. 26. Wind. Job humbles the vanity of Eliphaz. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “nor shall your rebuke silence my words: for I will not admit the sound of your discourse. Nay, you rush,” &c.
Ver. 30. Mouth. He engages their attention. (Calmet) — Hebrew, “Cannot my taste discern perverse things,” (Protestants; Haydock) or “the evil” which I endure? My complaints are not surely unfounded. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Job maintains his innocence, and complains of his friends.
1 But Job answered, and said:
2 O that my sins, whereby I have deserved wrath, and the calamity that I suffer, were weighed in a balance.
3 As the sand of the sea, this would appear heavier: therefore, my words are full of sorrow:
4 For the arrows of the Lord are in me, the rage whereof drinketh up my spirit, and the terrors of the Lord war against me.
5 Will the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or will the ox low when he standeth before a full manger?
6 Or can an unsavoury thing be eaten, that is not seasoned with salt? or can a man taste that which, when tasted, bringeth death?
7 The things which before my soul would not touch, now, through anguish, are my meats.
8 Who will grant that my request may come: and that God may give me what I look for?
9 And that he that hath begun may destroy me, that he may let loose his hand, and cut me off?
10 And that this may be my comfort, that afflicting me with sorrow, he spare not, nor I contradict the words of the Holy one.
11 For what is my strength, that I can hold out? or what is my end, that I should keep patience?
12 My strength is not the strength of stones, nor is my flesh of brass.
13 Behold there is no help for me in myself, and my familiar friends also are departed from me.
14 He that taketh away mercy from his friend, forsaketh the fear of the Lord.
15 My brethren have passed by me, as the torrent that passeth swiftly in the valleys.
16 They that fear the hoary frost, the snow shall fall upon them.
17 At the time when they shall be scattered they shall perish: and after it groweth hot, they shall be melted out of their place.
18 The paths of their steps are entangled: they shall walk in vain, and shall perish.
19 Consider the paths of Thema, the ways of Saba, and wait a little while.
20 They are confounded, because I have hoped: they are come also even unto me, and are covered with shame.
21 Now you are come: and now, seeing my affliction, you are afraid.
22 Did I say: Bring to me, and give me of your substance?
23 Or deliver me from the hand of the enemy, and rescue me out of the hand of the mighty?
24 Teach me, and I will hold my peace: and if I have been ignorant in any thing, instruct me.
25 Why have you detracted the words of truth, whereas there is none of you that can reprove me?
26 You dress up speeches only to rebuke, and you utter words to the wind.
27 You rush in upon the fatherless, and you endeavour to overthrow your friend.
28 However, finish what you have begun: give ear, and see whether I lie.
29 Answer, I beseech you, without contention: and speaking that which is just, judge ye.
30 And you shall not find iniquity in my tongue, neither shall folly sound in my mouth.