on Job 7 :19
Till I swallow down my spittle? - This is a proverbial expression, and exists among the Arabs to the present day; the very language being nearly the same. It signifies the same as, Let me draw my breath; give me a moment's space; let me have even the twinkling of an eye. I am urged by my sufferings to continue my complaint; but my strength is exhausted, my mouth dry with speaking. Suspend my sufferings even for so short a space as is necessary to swallow my spittle, that my parched tongue may be moistened, so that I may renew my complaint.
on Job 7 :19
How long wilt thou not depart? - How long is this to continue? The same word occurs in Job 14:6. The word rendered "depart" שׁעה shâ‛âh means to look, to look around, and then to look away from anyone or anything. The idea here is, that God had fixed his eyes upon Job, and he asks with anxiety, how long this was to continue, and when he would turn his eyes away; compare the notes at Job 7:8. Schultens supposes that the metaphor here is taken from combatants, who never take their eyes from their antagonists.
Till I swallow down my spittle - For the shortest time. But there has been considerable variety in the explanation of this phrase. Herder renders it, "Until I draw my breath." Noyes, "Until I have time to breathe;" but he acknowledges that he has substituted this for the proverb which occurs in the original. The Hebrew is literally rendered in the common version, and the proverb is retained in Arabia to the present day. The meaning is, Give me a little respite; allow me a little time; as we would say, Suffer me to breathe. "This," says Burder, "is a proverb among the Arabians to the present day, by which they understand, Give me leave to rest after my fatigue. This is the favor which Job complains is not granted to him. There are two instances which illustrate this passage (quoted by Schultens) in Harris's Narratives entitled the Assembly. One is of a person, who, when eagerly pressed to give an account of his travels, answered with impatience, 'Let me swallow down my spittle, for my journey hath fatigued me.' The other instance is of a quick return made to a person who used the proverb. 'Suffer me, ' said the person importuned, 'to swallow down my spittle;' to which the friend replied, 'You may, if you please, swallow down even the Tigris and the Euphrates; ' that is, You may take what time you please."
The expression is proverbial, and corresponds to ours when we say, "in the twinkling of an eye," or, "until I can catch my breath;" that is, in the briefest interval. Job addresses this language to God. There is much impatience in it, and much that a pious man should not employ; but we are to remember that Job was beset with special trials, and that he had not the views of the divine existence and perfections, the promises and the high hopes, which as Christians we have under the fuller light of revelation; and before harshly condemning him we should put ourselves in his situation, and ask ourselves how we would be likely to think and feel and speak if we were in the same circumstances.
on Job 7 :19
7:19 How long - How long will it be ere thou withdraw thy afflicting hand? Swallow - That I may have a breathing time: a proverbial expression.