Job 16 – “Job’s Fifth Speech – Part I”

target1Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Job responds to his friends by rejecting their arguments and lamenting how God treats him.

II. Photo
Job describes what God has done to him: “I had been untroubled, and He broke me in pieces; He took me by the scruff and shattered me; He set me up as His target!” (v. 12)

III. Important Verses
vv. 4-5: I would also talk like you If you were in my place; I would barrage you with words, I would wag my head over you. I would encourage you with words, My moving lips would bring relief.
vv. 11-13: God hands me over to an evil man, Thrusts me into the clutches of the wicked. I had been untroubled, and He broke me in pieces; He took me by the scruff and shattered me; He set me up as His target; His bowmen surrounded me; He pierced my kidneys; He showed no mercy; He spilled my bile onto the ground.
v. 18: Earth, do not cover my blood; Let there be no resting place for my outcry!

IV. Outline
1. Introduction
2-6. Rejecting the friends’ arguments
7-22. Struggling with God’s actions

V. Comment
Job responds to his friends in chapter 16. He first rejects their arguments (vv. 2-6) and then describes his struggle with God (vv. 7-22; it isn’t always clear who Job is addressing in this section). It is interesting that Job’s speech resembles the “complaint/lament” genre in two ways: he complains about his wretched state (vv. 6, 15-16, 22), and speaks of the detestable “enemy” (vv. 7-8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13-14).

In regards to the tone of this speech, Clines writes (p. 377): “The tonality of the speech resembles that of Job’s previous speech in chaps. 12–14. There is the same combination of sarcasm directed to the friends at the opening (16:2–5), though less pugnacious, less intellectualist, and the same hopeless conviction of the imminence of death at the close (17:11–16). The middle of the speech exhibits a self-pitying expression of exhaustion (16:7), dryness (16:8), weeping (16:16), extinction of the life-force (17:1), destruction of hope (17:11). The “laments” that protest at God’s ferocious behavior display, strangely enough, a sense of keen vitality on Job’s part; it is as though when he considers himself in his suffering his spirit droops, but when he considers how his suffering has come about and what it proves about the God who has caused it his anger rouses him to fresh élan.”

In v. 18 Job cries out, “Earth, do not cover my blood; Let there be no resting place for my outcry!” What exactly does he mean? It seems that innocent blood calls out to God as long as it remains uncovered on the ground. For instance, in the Cain and Able story one finds the following verse: “Then [God] said, ‘What have you done? Hark, your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground!’” Similarly, Isa. 26:21 says, “For lo! The LORD shall come forth from His place To punish the dwellers of the earth For their iniquity; And the earth shall disclose its bloodshed And shall no longer conceal its slain.” Also, Ezek. 24:7-8 says, “For the blood she shed is still in her; She set it upon a bare rock; She did not pour it out on the ground To cover it with earth. She set her blood upon the bare rock, So that it was not covered, So that it may stir up [My] fury To take vengeance.”

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Clines, Job 1-20 (Word Biblical Commentary)
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