New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Job 6:1 Then Job answered- Every time we read or hear this in the drama, we almost wish him to remain silent as the Lord did at His trial. His final silence and laying his hand upon his mouth is what the drama wishes us for him to do the longer it goes on.

Job 6:2 Oh that my anguish were weighed, and all my calamity laid in the balances!-
LXX "Oh that one would indeed weigh the wrath that is upon me". This was the feeling of the exiles; that the wrath upon Israel, the "sand of the sea" (:3), was heavier than it ought to have been. And they like Job were brought to realize their sinfulness and the lightness of their judgment, having been punished, as Ezra reflected, in fact less than their iniquities deserved (Ezra 9:13). Job looked in vain for someone to understand and evaluate his sufferings. The friends had come to him to do this, but had failed. We too may tell our life story to another person for days or weeks- but they will never quite understand. Job's disappointment with human relationships led him to throw himself finally upon God; for the only one to weigh accurately his calamity was of course God.

Job 6:3 For now it would be heavier than the sand of the seas-
I have noted several times Job's presentation as the seed of Abraham and allusions to the promises to Abraham. We have another one here. He considers that the promises of seed like the sand of the seas were somehow outweighed by his sufferings. He felt perhaps that he was not going to inherit the promises because of his sufferings; as if they were somehow indicative that he was not the seed of Abraham. This meant that he had yet to learn that the promises to Abraham, which were the basis of the new covenant offered to the exiles, were based upon grace; and they had their ultimate fulfilment in the restored Kingdom of God on earth and the blessing of having Yahweh as a personal God- and not in the blessings of secular life.

Therefore have my words been rash- Presumably Job refers to his words recorded in Job 2 and 3. But he uses a situational ethic here- as if rash language is excusable because of the weight of suffering. When he finally places his hand upon his mouth, Job realizes that such rationalization of poor language use was inappropriate.

Job 6:4 For the arrows of the Almighty are within me. My spirit drinks up their poison. The terrors of God set themselves in array against me-
Eliphaz blames Job's troubles upon the “sons of Resheph” (Job 5:7); but Job’s response is that the source of the evil in his life is ultimately from God and not any such being. Eliphaz there speaks of how man’s trouble comes “as the sons of Resheph fly upwards”. Resheph was known as “the lord of the arrow” and the Ugaritic tablets associate him with archery (William J. Fulco, The Canaanite God Resep (New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society, 1976)). We would therefore be justified in reading in an ellipsis here: man’s trouble comes “as the [arrows of] the sons of Resheph fly upwards”. Job’s response is that “The arrows of the Almighty are in me” (Job 6:4), and he lament that God is an archer using him as his target for practice (Job 7:20; 16:12,13). Job refuses to accept Eliphaz’s explanation that Job is a victim of Resheph’s arrows. For Job, if God is “the Almighty” then there is no space left for Resheph. Each blow he received, each arrow strike, was from God and not Resheph. The "terrors" he felt in nightmares (s.w. Job 7:14) were ultimately from God. These "terrors" appear to be psychological trauma, parallel with his "spirit" being wounded by God's arrows (Job 13:21).


Job 6:5 Does the wild donkey bray when he has grass? Or does the ox low over his fodder?-
Job fell into the trap of thinking that his terrible situation somehow allowed him to speak whatever words came into his head. Job felt he hadn’t been ‘fed’ and so he was entitled to “bray” and “low” over his misfortune (Job 6:5). Because of the weight of his sufferings, he thereby justified the fact that "Therefore have my words been rash (Job 6:3). Likewise “Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit” (Job 7:11). “I will give free course to my complaint. I will speak in the bitterness of my soul” (Job 10:1 RV). Zophar criticizes Job being “full of talk” and speaking “the multitude of words”, “for thou sayest, my doctrine is pure” (Job 11:1-4)- as if Job felt that because he held true doctrine he was justified in pouring out words as he did. “Why should I not be impatient?” (Job 21:4 RV). “Today is my complaint bitter. My stroke is heavier than my groaning” (Job 23:2)- i.e. his complaining was due to his sufferings. “If I hold my peace, I shall give up the spirit” (Job 13:19 RVmg.). Job felt that the situation he was in forced him to use the words he did, and certainly justified it [we may well have used this reasoning ourselves when justifying the use of bad language]. But in the end, Elihu on God’s behalf rebuked him for his wrong words. And Job himself recognized: “I am vile. I will lay mine hand upon my mouth” in regret of his words (Job 40:4). “Wherefore I loathe my words and repent” (Job 42:6 RVmg.). He realized his mistake: he had thought that the situation justified his words. Now he hung his head and admitted that there was no justification for speaking in the way he had. Especially in the matter of the tongue, we can so easily justify ourselves; ‘I only said / did it [or didn’t do it] because…’. And it is all so child-like. Once we leave off all attempts at self-justification, we will face up to our sins. See on :11,26.

Job 6:6 Can that which has no flavour be eaten without salt? Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?-
As noted on :5, Job seems to be saying that just as you can't expect a person to eat the white of an egg without salt, so his outbursts are justifiable. But of course one can eat eggs without salt. Job at this point comes over as a spoilt child refusing any food which isn't exactly to his taste. Finally he breaks down in self-realization and repentance, realizing his words have indeed been intemperate (see on Job 40:4; 42:6). 

Job 6:7 My soul refuses to touch them. They are as loathsome food to me-
As explained on :5,6, Job comes over as a spoilt child refusing any food which isn't exactly to his taste. He may be twisting the Divine command to only offer sacrifice, His "food" upon His table or altar, with salt. But Job is twisting scripture.

Job 6:8 Oh that I might have my request, that God would grant the thing that I long for-
This desire for death, effectively suicidal, continues the pouting and egoistic attitude noted on :6,7.

Job 6:9 even that it would please God to crush me; that He would let loose His hand, and cut me off!-
Job is careful not to speak of ending his own life, but he asks God to. Job appears to allude to the dialogue between God and Satan in the prologue, for he references the source of his sufferings as God's hand. Job was therefore aware of the dialogue; which makes sense, if the Satan figure was presenting the thoughts of the friends, who were the other "sons of God" of Job 1:6. Job knew what they thought of him. The LXX makes the allusion to the prologue (Job 2:6) even clearer: "Let the Lord begin and wound me, but let him not utterly destroy me". This would then read as if Job doubted whether God would keep His side of the agreement made with the Satan.

Job 6:10 Be it still my consolation, yes, let me exult throughout my unending pain, that I have not denied the words of the Holy One-
The idea seems to be that Job longed for his death because he was comforted by the fact he had not hidden God's words; likewise he exalts in Job 27:11 (s.w.) that he has not hidden God's words. Job was a prophet and is quoted as one in James 5. He had perhaps heard God's words from a "holy one", an Angel, and had taught them to others. By implication, he assumed that after death he would receive some credit for his righteousness. He had moved on to this from a simple desire for death. But aware of his righteousness, he reasons towards a belief in some future point of reward, as this was clearly not happening in this life. This becomes developed into a belief in a day of judgment and the final manifestation of God. And this happens ahead of time, as it were, in Yahweh's final manifestation at the end of the book; but this lead Job to resign all his own righteousness. See on :13; Job 7:2.

Job 6:11 What is my strength, that I should wait further? What is my end, that I should be patient?-
Job is definitely impatient and justified it as he justified his rash speaking (see on :5,12). And yet the patience of Job is quoted as proverbial (James 5:11). This may reflect how he was accounted righteous by God, and this final status was accepted by others. Or perhaps his patience refers to his endurance in faith, despite the fact that he was impatient during that endurance. He hardly comes over as patient in his speeches, but this was maybe seen as cosmetic failure compared to his final overall endurance in faith.

Job 6:12 Is my strength the strength of stones? Or is my flesh of brass?-
His argument is that he can't be perfectly patient because that would require superhuman strength. He blames the construction of his nature for his impatience (see on :11). And finally is led to repentance for this. It's rather like an alcoholic blaming his sin on his human nature.

Job 6:13 Isn’t it that I have no help in me, that wisdom is driven quite from me?-
LXX "Or have I not trusted in him? but help is far from me". If the LXX is correct then we see an extension of the argument developed on :10; he is confident that he has trusted in God, and yet no "help" from Him is forthcoming; and so he is driven to belief in a future day of Divine help, at some point after his death. That point becomes more developed in Job's understanding, as the day when God's appointed mediator shall stand upon the earth- the return of the Lord Jesus. 

Job 6:14 To him who is ready to faint, kindness should be shown from his friend; even to him who forsakes the fear of the Almighty-
We can limit God's plans to save others in the ecclesia by our attitude to them- even if they become atheists we are not to withdraw human friendship from them. We can make others stumble from the path to His salvation. If a brother doesn’t show pity to his fellow brother, this can make the afflicted brother “forsake the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14 RVmg.). Or we can read with GNB "In trouble like this I need loyal friends— whether I've forsaken God or not".

Job 6:15 My brothers have dealt deceitfully as a brook, as the channel of brooks that pass away-
"Deceitfully" is the word used about the exiles in Babylon (Is. 48:8) and how they treated their God and His servant (cp. Job). Job is as the righteous remnant, and the friends, the other "sons of God", as the apostate Jews, who could be saved by the intercession of the righteous.

Job 6:16 which are black by reason of the ice, in which the snow hides itself-
"Black" is 'turbid'. As in winter the rivers flowed freely, so the friends had promise of help, but when the heat came, they disappeared and were nowhere to be found (:17).

Job 6:17 In the dry season, they vanish. When it is hot, they are consumed out of their place-
See on :16. In Job 24:19, Job later sees the melting of the snow waters as representing the destruction of the wicked; he comes towards the conclusions that his friends, his fellow "sons of God" of Job 1:6, were in fact sinners. Job, the righteous remnant amongst the captives, were to pray for and save the unspiritual majority; but they had to be convinced of how far astray their brethren really were.

Job 6:18 The caravans that travel beside them turn aside. They go up into the waste, and perish-
"Caravans" and "paths" are the same word (:19). The idea is that these friends were like caravans of travellers diverting to follow tracks towards water sources but not finding the water, because they had dried up; and they perished. This is how Job came to see the friends.

Job 6:19 The caravans of Tema looked. The companies of Sheba waited for them-
He associates his deceitful brethren (:15) with the troops of Tema and the companies of Sheba which had fallen upon his cattle at Satan's behest (Job 1:15). Job knew that the friends had power over his persecutors (:24). They, Job said, had caused calamity to fall upon him, and thereby overwhelmed their one-time friend (:27 AV mg.). They thought, as Satan did, that Job's spirituality was only a sham (:28). For more evidence that the friends were the satan, see on Job 1:6. There is reason to think that Eliphaz, the leader of the friends, may have been the specific individual referred to as 'satan' in the prologue. God singles him out for especial condemnation at the end (Job 42:7). After one of Eliphaz's speeches, Job responds with what appears to be a comment upon him, rather than God: "He hath made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my company. And thou hast filled me with wrinkles... he teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me (surely Job speaks here about Eliphaz, not God): he gnasheth upon me... mine enemy (satan) sharpeneth his eyes upon me. They (the astonished friends?) have gaped upon me with their mouth, they have smitten me...they have gathered themselves together (as the friends did to Job) against me" (Job 16:9-11). Eliphaz was a Temanite, from where Job's afflicters came. See on :22.

Job 6:20 They were distressed because they were confident. They came there, and were confounded-
LXX "They too that trust in cities and riches shall come to shame". But see on :18.

Job 6:21 For now you are nothing. You see a terror, and are afraid-
LXX "But ye also have come to me without pity; so that beholding my wound ye are afraid"; GNB "You are like those streams to me, you see my fate and draw back in fear".

Job 6:22 Did I say, ‘Give to me?’ or, ‘Offer a present for me from your substance?’-
Perhaps there was the idea that Job had obtained his wealth from the friends and they were justified in seeking to take it back; see on :19.

Job 6:23 or, ‘Deliver me from the adversary’s hand?’ or, ‘Redeem me from the hand of the oppressors?’-
I suggested on :19 that the friends themselves were involved in the work of the hand of the satan / adversary. But Job never asked them to 'stop'.

Job 6:24 Teach me, and I will hold my peace. Cause me to understand wherein I have erred-
Job's sacrifice of a truly broken spirit was worth more than thousands of apposite words. Job had dimly imagined that this would be so: "Teach me, and I will hold my tongue; and cause me to understand wherein I have erred" (6:24). When Elihu did teach him and show him that he was erring by nature rather than specific sin, Job truly held his tongue: "I will lay mine hand upon my mouth... I will not answer... I will proceed no further" (Job 40:4,5; notice the threefold repetition). This is one of several examples of Job knowing the truth in abstract theory, but not appreciating it until the mixture of reflection on his trials and Elihu / Jesus, brought it home.

Job 6:25 How forcible are words of uprightness! But your reproof, what does it reprove?-
This experience led Job to long for "words of uprightness", and thereby he came to be ready for the final revelation of God's words at the end of the book. Likewise our disillusion with human words and relationships leads us to be the more eager and ready for God's revelation. The very phrase "words of uprightness" are only found when Elihu appears and claims to speak "words of uprightness" (Job  33:3).

Job 6:26 Do you intend to reprove words, since the speeches of one who is desperate are as wind?-
Job seems to here place himself beyond reproof; as if he considers his desperation to mean that therefore whatever he says can't be reproved, because the weight of his sufferings meant that he was justified in saying anything. This is discussed and exemplified more on :5, and it is this continual self-justification which has to be humbled in God's final appearance at the end of the book.

Job 6:27 Yes, you would even cast lots for the fatherless, and make merchandise of your friend-
See on :19. Job had worked his way up in the world (perhaps from being an orphan, "fatherless", parallel with "your friend") without consciously seeking prosperity (Job 1:10 AVmg.; Job 8:7; 31:25), and had shared his blessings with others; he realized at least in theory the weakness of his nature; and yet when he examined himself, he really didn't think he was too monstrous a sinner. The Lord Jesus likewise, the ultimate "suffering servant", was humanly fatherless.


Job 6:28 Now therefore be pleased to look at me, for surely I shall not lie to your face-
It seems the friends could not look Job in the face. That may not just have been because of the awful nature of his disease, but because of a bad conscience, seeing perhaps they were behind the things which came upon Job; see on :19. This is the very picture of the suffering servant in Is. 52:14, upon whose faces men could not look.

Job 6:29 Please rethink. Let there be no injustice. Yes, think again. My cause is righteous-
Job implies they were being unjust. The issue of who was "just" or not is a major theme in Job (continued in :30). In this lies the significance of the Lord's final appearance, to convict all of their sin, and teach that only His justification of men is worth anything. All self-justification is meaningless at best, and effectively putting man above God.

Job 6:30 Is there injustice on my tongue?-
See on :29. Job does later repent of his words and place his hand upon his mouth. But these words on another level make him a type of the Lord Jesus, the ultimate "suffering servant", who could ask "Which of you convinces me of sin?", whose words were perfect. 


Can’t my taste discern mischievous things?- This could be implying that his sufferings had not robbed him of his ability to sense right and wrong. If indeed the friends were connected with the Satan figure, and were responsible for the sufferings which came upon Job (see on :19), then he may be implying that despite his illness, he is quite aware of what is going on.