on Job 17 :3
Lay down now - Deposit a pledge; stake your conduct against mine, and your life and soul on the issue; let the cause come before God, let him try it; and see whether any of you shall be justified by him, while I am condemned.
on Job 17 :3
Lay down now - This is evidently an address to God - a repetition of the wish which he had so often expressed, that he might be permitted to bring his cause directly before him; see Job 13:3. The whole passage here is obscure, because we are in a great measure ignorant of the ancient practices in courts of law, and of the ancient forms of trial. The general sense seems to be, that Job desires the Deity to enter into a judicial investigation, and to give him a "pledge" - or, as we should say, a "bond," or "security" - that he would not avail himself of his almighty power, but would place him on an equality in the trial, and allow him to plead his cause on equal terms; see the notes at Job 13:20-22. The phrase "lay down now" means, lay down a pledge, or something of that kind; and may have referred to some ancient custom of giving security on going to trial, that no advantage would be taken, or that the parties would abide by the decision in the case.
Put me in a surety with thee - The word used here (ערבני ‛ârabı̂yn) is from ערב ‛ârab, to mix, mingle; to exchange, to barter and then to become surety for anyone - that is, to "exchange" places with him, or to stand in his place; Genesis 43:9; Genesis 44:32. Here the idea seems to be, that Job wished the Deity to give him some pledge or security that justice would be done, or that he would not take advantage of his power and majesty to overawe him. Or, as has been remarked, it may refer to some custom of furnishing security on a voluntary trial or arbitration, that the award of the referees would be observed. I think it most probable that this is the idea. The controversy here was to be voluntary. In a voluntary trial, or an arbitration, there is a necessity of some security by the parties that the decision shall be submitted to - a pledge to each other that they will abide by it. Such a pledge Job desired in this case. All this is language taken from courts, and should not be pressed too much, nor should Job be hastily charged with irreverence. Having once suggested the idea of a "trial" of the cause, it was natural for him to use the language which was commonly employed in reference to such trials; and these expressions are to be regarded as thrown in for the sake of "keeping," or verisimilitude.
Who is he that will strike hands with me? - Striking hands then, as now, seems to have been one mode of confirming an agreement, or ratifying a compact. The idea here is," Who is there that will be surety to me for thee?" that is, for the faithful observance of right and justice. There is an appearance of irreverence in this language, but it arises from carrying out the ideas pertaining to a form of trial in a court. In entering into "sureties," it was usual to unite hands; see Proverbs 6:1 :
My son, if thou be surety for thy friend,
If thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger.
So Proverbs 17:18 :
A man void of understanding striketh hands,
And becometh surety in the presence of his friend
Compare Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 22:26. The same custom prevailed in the times of Homer and of Virgil. Thus, Homer (Iliad, β b. 341) says:
Ποῦ δὴ -
- δεξιαὶ ἦς ἐπέπιθμεν -
Pou de4 -
- dexiai hēs epepithmen -
And so Virgil (Aeneid 4:597) says;
on Job 17 :3
17:3 Surety - These words contain, an humble desire to God that he would be his surety, or appoint him a surety who should maintain his righteous cause against his opposers. Strike hands - Be surety to me; whereof that was the usual gesture.