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Job 16 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Ch. 16 17. Job’s Reply to Eliphaz

Job’s appeal to God (ch. Job 13:23 seq.) remained unanswered. God is resolved to hide His face from him. His friends, instead of seeing in his appeal to Heaven and his protestations of innocence proof that he is innocent, regard these as but a crafty attempt to hide his guilt, and as the most convincing evidence of it (ch. Job 15:5-6). Thus Job beholds God and men alike turned against him and holding him guilty. God of the world and of the present inexorably turns away from him; and God’s turning away from him causes men to avert their faces too. His isolation is complete. And to him who had once stood so high in the estimation of men, and as a man of deep human feelings yearned for men’s sympathy (cf. the picture in ch. 29), the thought comes home with a crushing effect. This is the new thought in Job’s mind, and it is this thought that gives such a tragic pathos to his speeches in the second cycle of debate. In the first circle of speeches it is God’s enmity alone of which Job complains (ch. Job 6:4, &c.), but now there is added to this the universal alienation (ch. Job 16:7) and abhorrence of mankind. This feeling gives tone to all his speeches, and in ch. 19, which forms the climax of this division, finds its fullest expression in the words, Pity me, pity me, O ye my friends, why do ye persecute me like God? ( Job 16:21-22, cf. Job 16:13 seq.). And this overmastering feeling forces its way to expression almost in spite of him (Job 16:6) in the first part of the present speech ( Job 16:7-17).

Nothing now remains to him but his own sense of his innocence; and to this he clings all the more tenaciously. He shall never be acknowledged in this life; he shall die under God’s hand and go down to the grave numbered with the transgressors, for the hopes which the friends held out of restoration were but the veriest folly (Job 16:22 seq., Job 17:10 seq.). But it is a martyr’s death that he shall die. And so strong is his sense of his innocence that he rises to the assurance that it cannot remain unrecognised for ever. His innocent blood will appeal unto heaven with an unceasing cry till it finds a response (Job 16:18). And even now he has a Witness who will testify for him, even God as He is in Himself in heaven. And to this Witness he makes his appeal. Men mock him, but he lifts his tearful face (Job 16:20) to God, God as He is in truth and as He must reveal himself in the future, begging that He would uphold his right with God, who now is unjustly bringing him to death, and do justice between him and his fellows, whose suspicions so cruelly wrong him (Job 16:21, Job 19:3). And if he may not ask or expect (Job 13:18 seq.) that God would appear for him in this life, yet he will beseech God to give him some pledge even here, that afterwards, when he shall have gone the way whence he shall not return, He will make his innocence to appear (Job 16:22, Job 17:3).

The Discourse consists of four somewhat unequal sections:

First, Job 16:1-5, Job expresses his weariness of his friends’ monotonous speeches, which contained nothing; and justifies against the complaint of Eliphaz (Job 15:11) his rejection of them.

Second, Job 16:6-17, he gives a touching picture of his sorrowful isolation, and of the enmity with which God and men pursued him, though he was innocent of all wrong.

Third, Job 16:18 to Job 17:9, but this cruel fate, which both brings him to death and affixes to him the stigma of wickedness, cannot for ever prevail over him. He shall die under the imputation of guilt, but his blood will cry for reparation, filling earth and heaven with its voice, until he be vindicated. He has a Witness in heaven who will testify for him, even God as He is in heart; and he appeals unto God that He would do justice to him with God and between him and men and even that He would not let him die without some token to this effect (Job 16:21, Job 17:3).

Fourth, Job 16:10-16, coming back to what is the ground tone of this speech, his certainty of a speedy death under God’s hand, Job repudiates as mere folly the glowing hopes of restoration in this life which his friends held out to him. He knows better; he shall die, his hope is in the grave.

Consult other comments:

Job 16:0 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Job 16:0 - College Press Bible Study Textbook Series

Job 16:0 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Job 16:0 - Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary

Job 16:0 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Job 16:0 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges