Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Warfare. Hebrew, “is it not determined” (Haydock) for some short space, as the Levites had to serve from 30 to 50 years of age; (Numbers iv. 3., and viii. 25.) and the days of a hireling are also defined and short, Isaias xvi. 14. (Amama) — No soldier or hireling was ever treated so severely as Job. Yet they justly look for the term of their labours. Septuagint have peiraterion. Old Vulgate tentatio. “Is not the life of man a temptation?” (Calmet) — Palęstra, school, or time given to learn the exercise of a soldier and wrestler; or of one who has to prepare himself for a spiritual warfare, and for heaven. (Haydock) — Are we not surrounded with dangers? and may we not desire to be set at liberty? The Vulgate is very accurate, (Calmet) and includes all these senses. (Haydock) — A soldier must be obedient even unto death, and never resist his superior. (Worthington) — Hireling, who has no rest till the day is spent. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. And have. Hebrew, “they have appointed for me.” (Calmet) — God treats me with more severity, as even the night is not a time of rest for me, and my months of service are without any present recompense. (Haydock)
Ver. 4. And again. Hebrew, “and the night be completed, I toss to and fro,” (Haydock) or “I am disturbed with dreams, (Calmet) till day break.” Vulgate insinuates that night and day are equally restless to a man in extreme pain. (Haydock) — As I find no comfort, why may I not desire to die? (Menochius) — I desire to be dissolved, as being much better, said St. Paul. [Philippians i. 23.]
Ver. 6. Web. Hebrew, “the weaver’s shuttle,” chap. xvi. 23., and Isaias xxxviii. 12. (Haydock) — The pagans have used the same comparison. But they make the three daughters of Necessity guide the thread of life. (Plato, Rep. xii.; Natal. iii. 6.) — Septuagint, “my life is swifter than speech.” Tetrapla, “than a runner.” (Calmet) — Hope. Heu fugit, &c. Ah! time is flying , never to return! (Haydock)
Ver. 7. Wind. What is life compared with eternity, or even with past ages? (Calmet) — “What is any one? Yea, what is no one? Men are the dream of a shadow,” says Pindar; (Pyth. viii. Skias onar onthropoi) “like the baseless fabric of a vision.” (Shakespeare)
Ver. 8. Eyes, in anger, (Calmet) or thy mercy will come too late when I shall be no more.
Ver. 9. Hell, or the grave. (Menochius) — He was convinced of the resurrection. But he meant that, according to the natural course, we can have no means of returning to this world after we are dead.
Ver. 10. More. This may be explained both of the soul and of the body, Psalm cii. 16. The former resides in the body for a short time, and then seems to take no farther notice of it (Calmet) till the resurrection.
Ver. 11. Mouth. I will vent my bitter complaints before I die. (Haydock)
Ver. 12. Sea. Ungovernable and malicious. Some of the ancients looked upon the sea as a huge animal, whose breathing caused the tides. (Strabo i.; Solin xxxii.) — They represented its fury as proverbial. “Fire, the sea, and woman are three evils;” and they call the most savage people sons of Neptune. (Agel. xv. 21.) — Am I so violent as to require such barriers? Am I capacious, or strong enough to bear such treatment? (Calmet)
Ver. 15. Hanging. Protestants, “strangling and death, rather than my life,” or Marginal note, “bones.” (Haydock) — Any species of Death would be preferable to this misery. (Calmet) — Who would not entertain the same sentiments, if the fear of worse in the other world did not withhold him? But Job had reason to hope that his sorrows would end with his life. (Haydock) — It is thought that he was dreadfully tempted to despair. (Calmet) — Yet he resisted manfully, and overcame all attempts of the wicked one.
Ver. 16. Hope of surviving this misery. (Haydock)
Ver. 17. Magnify him, or put him to such severe trials. He is not worthy of thy attention. (Calmet) — Hebrews ii. 6. (Haydock)
Ver. 18. Suddenly. During his whole life, he is exposed to dangers; (Calmet) of if, at first, he taste some comfort, that is presently over. The greatest saints have experienced this treatment. (Haydock)
Ver. 20. Sinned. I acknowledge my frailty. (Menochius) — How may I obtain redress? (Calmet) — Job’s friends maintained that he was guilty. But he does not acquiesce in their conclusion, that these sufferings were precisely in punishment of some crime, though he acknowledges that he is not without his faults. (Haydock) — Shall. Hebrew also, “what have I done to thee?” I have only hurt myself. But this reasoning is nugatory. Though God loses nothing by our sins, they are no less offensive to him, as the rebel does his utmost to disturb the order which he has established. The sinner indeed resembles those brutal people, who hurl darts against the sun, which fall upon their own heads, chap. iii. 8. (Calmet) — Opposite, as a butt to shoot at. (Haydock) — Myself. Hebrew was formerly “to thee,” till the Jews changed it, as less respectful. (Cajetan) — Septuagint still read, “and why am I a burden to thee?” (Haydock) as I am under the necessity of complaining, in my own defence. (Calmet) — I throw my grief upon the Lord, that He may support me, Psalm liv. 23., and 1 Peter v. 7. (Pineda)
Ver. 21. Be. He lovingly expostulates with God, and begs that he would hasten his deliverance, lest it should be too late. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Job declares the miseries of man’s life: and addresses himself to God.
1 The life of man upon earth is a warfare, and his days are like the days of a hireling.
2 As a servant longeth for the shade, as the hireling looketh for the end of his work;
3 So I also have had empty months, and have numbered to myself wearisome nights.
4 If I lie down to sleep, I shall say: When shall I rise? and again, I shall look for the evening, and shall be filled with sorrows even till darkness.
5 My flesh is clothed with rottenness and the filth of dust; my skin is withered and drawn together.
6 My days have passed more swiftly than the web is cut by the weaver, and are consumed without any hope.
7 Remember that my life is but wind, and my eye shall not return to see good things.
8 Nor shall the sight of man behold me: thy eyes are upon me, and I shall be no more.
9 As a cloud is consumed, and passeth away: so he that shall go down to hell shall not come up.
10 Nor shall he return any more into his house, neither shall his place know him any more.
11 Wherefore, I will not spare my mouth, I will speak in the affliction of my spirit: I will talk with the bitterness of my soul.
12 Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou hast inclosed me in a prison?
13 If I say: My bed shall comfort me, and I shall be relieved, speaking with myself on my couch:
14 Thou wilt frighten me with dreams, and terrify me with visions.
15 So that my soul rather chooseth hanging, and my bones death.
16 I have done with hope, I shall now live no longer: spare me, for my days are nothing.
17 What is a man that thou shouldst magnify him? or why dost thou set thy heart upon him?
18 Thou visitest him early in the morning, and thou provest him suddenly.
19 How long wilt thou not spare me, nor suffer me to swallow down my spittle?
20 I have sinned: what shall I do to thee, O keeper of men? why hast thou set me opposite to thee, and am I become burdensome to myself?
21 Why dost thou not remove my sin, and why dost thou not take away my iniquity? Behold now I shall sleep in the dust: and if thou seek me in the morning, I shall not be.