Search the Bible
* powered by Bible Study Tools

Job 19:20

    Job 19:20 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    My bone sticks to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, And I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    My bones are joined to my skin, and I have got away with my flesh in my teeth.

    Webster's Revision

    My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, And I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.

    World English Bible

    My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh. I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.

    Definitions for Job 19:20

    Cleaveth - To stick close to.

    Clarke's Commentary on Job 19:20

    My bone cleaveth to my skin - My flesh is entirely wasted away, and nothing but skin and bone left.

    I am escaped with the skin of my teeth - I have had the most narrow escape. If I still live, it is a thing to be wondered at, my sufferings and privations have been so great. To escape with the skin of the teeth seems to have been a proverbial expression, signifying great difficulty. I had as narrow an escape from death, as the thickness of the enamel on the teeth. I was within a hair's breadth of destruction; see on Job 19:11 (note).

    Barnes' Notes on Job 19:20

    My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh - The meaning of this probably is, "my skin and flesh are dried up so that the bone seems adhere to the skin, and so tht the form of the bone becomes visible." It is designed to denote a state of great emaciation, and describes an effect which we often see.

    And I am escaped with the skin of my teeth - A very difficult expression, and which has greatly perplexed commentators, and on whose meaning they are by no means agreed. Dr. Good renders it, "and in the skin of my teeth am I dissolved;" but what that means is as difficult of explanation as the original. Noyes, "and I have scarcely escaped with the skin of my teeth." Herde, (as translated by Marsh,) "and scarcely the skin in my teeth have I brought away as a spoil." He says that "the figure is taken from the prey which wild beasts carry in their teeth; his skin is his poor and wretched body, which alone he had escaped with. His friends are represented as carnivorous animals which gnaw upon his skin, upon the poor remnant of life;" but the Hebrew will not bear this construction. Poole observes, quaintly enough, that it means, "I am scarcely sound and whole and free from sores in any part of my skin, except that of my jaws, which holdeth and covereth the roots of my teeth. This being, as divers observe, the devil's policy, to leave his mouth untouched, that be might more freely express his mind, and vent his blasphemies against God, which he supposed sharp pain would force him to do." Schultens has mentioned four different interpretations given to the phrase, none of which seems to be perfectly satisfactory. They are the following:

    (1) That it means that the skin "about" the teeth alone was preserved, or the gums and the lips, so that he had the power of speaking, though every other part was wasted away, and this exposition is given, accompanied with the suggestion that his faculty of speech was preserved entire by Satan, in order that he might be "able" to utter the language of complaint and blasphemy against God.

    (2) That he was emaciated and exhausted completely, "except" the skin about his teeth, that is, his lips, and that by them he was kept alive; that if it were not for them he could not breathe, but must soon expire.

    (3) That the teeth themselves had fallen out by the force of disease, and that nothing was left but the gums. This opinion Schultens himself adopts. The image, be says, is taken from pugilists, whose teeth are knocked out by each other; and the meaning he supposes to be, that Job had been treated by his disease in the same manner. So violent had it been that he had lost all his teeth and nothing was left but his gums.

    (4) A fourth opinion is, that the reference is to the "enamel" of the teeth, and that the meaning is, that such was the force and extent of his afflictions that all his teeth became hollow and were decayed, leaving only the enamel. It is difficult to determine the true sense amidst a multitude of learned conjectures; but probably the most simple and easy interpretation is the best. It may mean that he was "almost" consumed. Disease had preyed upon his frame until he was wasted away. Nothing was left but his lips, or his gums; he was just able to speak, and that was all. So Jerome renders it, delicta sunt tantummodo labia circa dentes meos. Luther renders it, und kann meine Zahne mit der Haut nicht bedecken - "and I cannot cover my teeth with the skin;" that is, with the lips.

    Wesley's Notes on Job 19:20

    19:20 Skin - Immediately, the fat and flesh next to the skin being consumed. As - As closely as it doth to these remainders of flesh which are left in my inward parts.
    Book: Job