Job 9:17
For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause.
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(17) He breaketh me . . .—This is one of the three passages in which this word is found, the other two being Genesis 3:15, “It shall bruise,” &c., and Psalm 139:11, “If I say the darkness shall cover me.”

Job 9:17. For he breaketh me with a tempest — As with a tempest; that is, unexpectedly, violently, and irrecoverably. This is the reason of his forementioned diffidence, that even when God seemed to answer his supplication in words, yet the course of his actions toward him was of a quite contrary nature and tendency. And multiplieth my wounds without cause — He does not mean, simply without any desert of his, as if he had been free from all sin, and perfectly innocent and holy, the contrary to which he oft declares; but without any special cause of such singular afflictions; without any peculiar and extraordinary guilt, such as his friends charged him with.

9:14-21 Job is still righteous in his own eyes, ch. 32:1, and this answer, though it sets forth the power and majesty of God, implies that the question between the afflicted and the Lord of providence, is a question of might, and not of right; and we begin to discover the evil fruits of pride and of a self-righteous spirit. Job begins to manifest a disposition to condemn God, that he may justify himself, for which he is afterwards reproved. Still Job knew so much of himself, that he durst not stand a trial. If we say, We have no sin, we not only deceive ourselves, but we affront God; for we sin in saying so, and give the lie to the Scripture. But Job reflected on God's goodness and justice in saying his affliction was without cause.For he breaketh me - He is overwhelming me with a tempest; that is, with the storms of wrath. He shows me no mercy. The idea seems to be, that God acted toward him not as a judge determining matters by rule of law, but as a sovereign - determining them by his own will. If it were a matter of law; if he could come before him as a judge, and maintain his cause there; if the case could be fairly adjudicated whether he deserved the calamities that came upon him, he would be willing to enter into such a trial. But where the matter was determined solely by will, and God acted as a sovereign, doing as he pleased, and giving no account of his matters to anyone, then it would be useless to argue the cause. He would not know what to expect, or understand the principles on which an adjudication would be made. It is true that God acts as a sovereign, but he does not act without reference to law. He dispenses his favors and his judgments as he pleases, but he violates none of the rules of right. The error of Job was the common error which people commit, that if God acts as a sovereign, he must of course act regardless of law, and that it is vain to plead with him or try to please him. But sovereignty is not necessarily inconsistent with respect for law; and He who presides with the most absolute power over the universe, is He who is most directed by the rule of right. In Him sovereignty and law coincide; and to come to Him as a sovereign, is to come with the assurance that supreme rectitude will be done.

And multiplieth my wounds without cause - That is, without sufficient reason. This is in accordance with the views which Job had repeatedly expressed. The main ground of his complaint was, that his sufferings were disproportionate to his faults.

16, 17. would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice—who breaketh me (as a tree stripped of its leaves) with a tempest. This is the reason of his foregoing diffidence, that even when God seemed to answer him in words, yet the course of his actions towards him was of a quite contrary nature and tendency.

With a tempest; as with a tempest, i.e. unexpectedly, violently, and irrecoverably.

Without cause; not simply without any desert of his, or as if he had no sin in him, for he oft declares the contrary; but without any evident or special cause of such singular afflictions, i.e. any peculiar and extraordinary guilt, such as my friends charge me with.

For he breaketh me with a tempest,.... Which rises suddenly, comes powerfully, and carries all before it irresistibly; hereby signifying the nature of his present sore afflictions, which came upon him at once, pressed him down, and utterly destroyed him, against which there was no standing: perhaps he may have some reference to the storm of wind that blew down the house, by which his children were destroyed. Schultens renders it, "a burning tempest" (s), such as is common in the eastern countries, which Thevenot (t) often makes mention of; which kills a man at once, and his flesh becomes as black as a coal, and comes off of his bones, and is plucked off by the hand that would lift him up; with which a man is broken to pieces indeed, to which Job may allude:

and multiplieth my wounds without cause; referring, it may be, to the many boils and ulcers upon his body; though it may also respect the multiplicity of ways in which he had wounded or afflicted him, in his person, in his family, and in his substance, and which he says was done "without cause"; not without a cause or reason in God, who does nothing without one, though it may not be known to men; particularly in afflicting men, it is not without cause or reason; it he punishes men, it is for sin; if he rebukes and chastises his people, it is for their transgressions; to bring them to a sense of them, to humble them for them, to bring them off from them, or to prevent them, or purge them away, and to try their graces, wean them from the world, and fit them for himself: but Job's afflictions were without any such cause intimated by his friends; it was not hypocrisy, nor any notorious sin or sins he had been guilty of, and secretly lived and indulged himself in, as they imagined. Job here suggests his innocence, which he always insisted upon, and refers his afflictions to the sovereign will of God, and to some hidden cause in his own breast, unknown to himself and others: however, so long as he dealt with him after this manner, he could not believe his prayers were heard by him.

(s) "in turbine ardenti", Schultens. (t) Travels, par. 2. B. 1. c. 12. p. 54. B. 3. c. 5. p. 135.

For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds {m} without cause.

(m) I am not able to feel my sins so great, as I feel the weight of his plagues; and this he speaks to condemn his dullness and to justify God.

17. he breaketh] Rather, he would break. Similarly, and multiply. The word translated break may mean to seize and swallow up, that is, to sweep away, cf. ch. Job 30:22.

17–21. These verses describe what would ensue in the supposed case that God had actually responded to Job’s citation. He would not listen to Job’s plea but would crush him with His infinite power. The words do not describe what Job actually suffers at present or has suffered, but what he would have to endure then, though the colours of the terrible picture are drawn from his actual sufferings.

Verse 17. - For he breaketh me with a tempest. "God" that is, "would not be likely patiently to hear my justification, and calmly to weigh it, when he is already overwhelming me with his wrath, breaking and crushing me (comp. Genesis 3:15, where the same word שׁוּפ is used) with a very storm of calamity." The sentiment can scarcely be justified, since it breathes something of a contamacious spirit. But this only shows that Job was not yet" made perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10). And multiplieth my wounds without cause. A further assertion, not of absolute sinlessness, but of comparative innocence - of the belief that he had done nothing to deserve such a terrible punishment as he is suffering (comp. Job 6:24, 29). Job 9:1716 If when I called He really answered,

I could not believe that He would hearken to me;

17 He would rather crush me in a tempest,

And only multiply my wounds without cause;

18 He would not suffer me to take my breath,

But would fill me with bitter things.

19 If it is a question of the strength of the strong - : "Behold here!"

And if of right - : "Who will challenge me?"

20 Where I in the right, my mouth must condemn me;

Were I innocent, He would declare me guilty.

The answer of God when called upon, i.e., summoned, is represented in Job 9:16 as an actual result (praet. followed by fut. consec.), therefore Job 9:16 cannot be intended to express: I could not believe that He answers me, but: I could not believe that He, the answerer, would hearken to me; His infinite exaltation would not permit such condescension. The אשׁר which follows, Job 9:17, signifies either quippe qui or quoniam; both shades of meaning are after all blended, as in Job 9:15. The question arises here whether שׁוף signifies conterere, or as cognate form with שׁאף, inhiare, - a question also of importance in the exposition of the Protevangelium. There are in all only three passages in which it occurs: here, Genesis 3:15, and Psalm 139:11. In Psalm 139:11 the meaning conterere is unsuitable, but even the signification inhiare can only be adopted for want of a better: perhaps it may be explained by comparison with צעף, in the sense of obvelare, or as a denominative from נשׁף (the verb of which, נשׁף, is kindred to נשׁב, נשׁם, flare) in the signification obtenebrare. In Genesis 3:15, if regarded superficially, the meaning inhiare and conterere are alike suitable, but the meaning inhiare deprives that utterance of God of its prophetic character, which has been recognised from the beginning; and the meaning conterere, contundere, is strongly supported by the translations. We decide in favour of this meaning also in the present passage, with the ancient translations (lxx ἐκτρίψῃ, Targ. מדקדּק, comminuens). Moreover, it is the meaning most generally supported by a comparison with the dialects, whereas the signification inhiare can only be sustained by comparison with שׁאף and the Arabic sâfa (to sniff, track by scent, to smell); besides, "to assail angrily" (Hirz., Ewald) is an inadmissible contortion of inhiare, which signifies in a hostile sense "to seize abruptly" (Schlottm.), properly to snatch, to desire to seize.

Translate therefore: He would crush me in a tempest and multiply (multiplicaret), etc., would not let me take breath (respirare), but (כּי, Ges. 155, 1, e. a.) fill me (ישׂבּיענּי, with Pathach with Rebia mugrasch) with bitter things (ממּררים, with Dag. dirimens, which gives the word a more pathetic expression). The meaning of Job 9:19 is that God stifles the attempt to maintain one's right in the very beginning by His being superior to the creature in strength, and not entering into a dispute with him concerning the right. הנּה (for הנּני as איּה, Job 15:23, for איּו): see, here I am, ready for the contest, is the word of God, similar to quis citare possit me (in Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44), which sounds as an echo of this passage. The creature must always be in the wrong, - a thought true in itself, in connection with which Job forgets that God's right in opposition to the creature is also always the true objective right. פּי, with suffix, accented to indicate its logical connection, as Job 15:6 : my own mouth.

(Note: Olshausen's conjecture, פּיו, lessens the difficulty in Isaiah 34:16, but here it destroys the strong expression of the violence done to the moral consciousness.)

In ויּעקשׁני the Chirek of the Hiphil is shortened to a Sheva, as 1 Samuel 17:25; vid., Ges. 53, rem. 4. The subject is God, not "my mouth" (Schlottm.): supposing that I were innocent, He would put me down as one morally wrong and to be rejected.

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