on Job 3 :8
Let them curse it that curse the day - This translation is scarcely intelligible. I have waded through a multitude of interpretations, without being able to collect from them such a notion of the verse as could appear to me probable. Schultens, Rosenmller, and after them Mr. Good, have labored much to make it plain. They think the custom of sorcerers who had execrations for peoples, places, things, days, etc., is here referred to; such as Balaam, Elymas, and many others were: but I cannot think that a man who knew the Divine Being and his sole government of the world so well as Job did, would make such an allusion, who must have known that such persons and their pretensions were impostors and execrable vanities. I shall give as near a translation as I can of the words, and subjoin a short paraphrase: יקבהו אררי יום העתידימערר לויתן yikkebuhu orerey yom haathidim orer livyathan; "Let them curse it who detest the day; them who are ready to raise up the leviathan." That is, Let them curse my birthday who hate daylight, such as adulterers, murderers, thieves, and banditti, for whose practices the night is more convenient; and let them curse it who, being like me weary of life, are desperate enough to provoke the leviathan, the crocodile, to tear them to pieces. This version is nearly the same as that given by Coverdale. Let them that curse the daye give it their curse also, then those that be ready to rayse up leviathan. By leviathan some understand the greatest and most imminent dangers; and others, the devil, whom the enchanters are desperate enough to attempt to raise by their incantations. Calmet understands the whole to be spoken of the Atlantes, a people of Ethiopia, who curse the sun because it parches their fields and their bodies; and who fearlessly attack, kill, and eat the crocodile. This seems a good sense.
on Job 3 :8
Let them curse it who curse the day - This entire verse is exceedingly difficult, and many different expositions have been given of it. It seems evident that it refers to some well-known class of persons, who were accustomed to utter imprecations, and were supposed to have the power to render a day propitious or unpropitious - persons who had the power of divination or enchantment. A belief in such a power existed early in the world, and has prevailed in all savage and semi-barbarous nations, and even in nations considerably advanced in civilization. The origin of this was a desire to look into futurity; and in order to accomplish this, a league was supposed to be made with the spirits of the dead, who were acquainted with the events of the invisible world, and who could be prevailed on to impart their knowledge to favored mortals. It was supposed, also, that by such union there might be a power exerted which would appear to be miraculous.
Such persons also claimed to be the favorites of heaven, and to be endowed with control over the elements, and over the destiny of men; to have the power to bless and to curse, to render propitious or calamitous. Balsaam was believed to be endowed with this power, and hence, he was sent for by Balak, king of Moab, to curse the Israelites; Numbers 22:5-6; see the notes at Isaiah 8:19. The practice of cursing the day, or cursing the sun, is said by Herodotus to have prevailed among a people of Africa, whom he calls the Atlantes, living in the vicinity of Mount Atlas. "Of all mankind," says he, "of whom we have any knowledge, the Atlantes alone have no distinction of names; the body of the people are termed Atlantes, but their individuals have no appropriate appellation. When the sun is at the highest they heap on it reproaches and execrations, because their country and themselves are parched by its rays; book iv. 184. The same account of them is found in Pliny, Nat. His. v. 8: Solem orientem occidentemque dira imprecatione contuentur, ut exitialem ipsis agrisque. See also Strabo, Lib. xvii. p. 780. Some have supposed, also, that there may be an allusion here to a custom which seems early to have prevailed of hiring people to mourn for the dead, and who probably in their official lamentation bewailed or cursed the day of their calamity; compare Jeremiah 9:17; 2 Chronicles 35:25. But the correct interpretation is doubtless that which refers it to pretended prophets, priests, or diviners - who were supposed to have power to render a day one of ill omen. Such a power Job wished exerted over that unhappy night when he was born. He desired that the curses of those who had power to render a day unpropitious or unlucky, should rest upon it.
Who are ready to raise up their mourning - This is not very intelligible, and it is evident that our translators were embarrassed by the passage. They seem to have supposed that there was an allusion here to the practice of employing professional mourners, and that the idea is, that Job wished that they might be employed to howl over the day as inauspicious, or as a day of ill omen. The margin is, as in the Hebrew, "a leviathan." The word rendered "ready" עתידים ‛âthı̂ydı̂ym, means properly ready, prepared; and then practiced or skillful. This is the idea here, that they were practiced or skillful in calling up the "leviathan;" see Schultens "in loc." The word rendered in the text "mourning," and in the margin "leviathan" לויתן lı̂vyâthân, in all other parts of the sacred Scriptures denotes an animal; see it explained in the notes at Isaiah 27:1, and more fully in the notes at Job 41:It usually denotes the crocodile, or some huge sea monster.
Here it is evidently used to represent the most fierce, powerful and frightful of all the animals known, and the allusion is to some power claimed by necromancers to call forth the most terrific monsters at their will from distant places, from the "vasty deep," from morasses and impenetrable forests. The general claim was, that they had control over all nature; that they could curse the day, and make it of ill omen, and that the most mighty and terrible of land or sea monsters were entirely under their control. If they had such a power, Job wished that they would exercise it to curse the night in which he was born. On what pretensions they founded this claim is unknown. The power, however, of taming serpents, is practiced in India at this day; and jugglers bear around with them the most deadly of the serpent race, having extracted their fangs, and creating among the credulous the belief that they have control over the most noxious animals. Probably some such art was claimed by the ancients. and to some such pretension Job alludes here.
on Job 3 :8
3:8 The day - Their birth - day: when their afflictions move them to curse their own birth - day, let them remember mine also, and bestow some curses upon it. Mourning - Who are full of sorrow, and always ready to pour out their cries, and tears, and complaints.