on Job 7 :20
I have sinned; what shall I do - Dr. Kennicott contends that these words are spoken to Eliphaz, and not to God, and would paraphrase them thus: "You say I must have been a sinner. What then? I have not sinned against thee, O thou spy upon mankind! Why hast thou set up me as a butt or mark to shoot at? Why am I become a burden unto thee? Why not rather overlook my transgression, and pass by mine iniquity? I am now sinking to the dust! To-morrow, perhaps, I shall be sought in vain!" See his vindication of Job at the end of these notes on this book. Others consider the address as made to God. Taken in this light, the sense is plain enough. Those who suppose that the address is made to God, translate the Job 7:20 thus: "Be it that I have sinned, what injury can I do unto thee, O thou Observer of man? Why hast thou set me up as a mark for thee, and why am I made a burden to thee?" The Septuagint is thus: Ει εγω ἡμαρτον, τι δυνησομαι πραξαι, ὁ επισταμενος τον νουν των ανθρωπων; If I have sinned, what can I do, O thou who knowest the mind of men? Thou knowest that it is impossible for me to make any restitution. I cannot blot out my offenses; but whether I have sinned so as to bring all these calamities upon me, thou knowest, who searchest the hearts of men.
on Job 7 :20
I have sinned - חטאתי châṭâ'tı̂y. This is a literal translation, and as it stands in the common version it is the language of a penitent - confessing that he had erred, and making humble acknowledgment of his sins. That such a confession became Job, and that he would be willing to admit that he was a sinner, there can be no doubt; but the connection seems rather to require a different sense - a sense implying that though he had sinned, yet his offences could not be such as to require the notice which God had taken of them. Accordingly this interpretation has been adopted by many, and the Hebrew will bear the construction. It may be rendered as a question, "Have I sinned; what did I against thee" Herder. Or, the sense may be, "I have sinned. I admit it. Let this be conceded. But what can that be to a being like God, that he should take such notice of it? Have I injured him? Have I deserved these heavy trials? Is it proper that he should make me a special mark, and direct his severest judgments against me in this manner?" compare the notes at -Job 35:6-8. The Syriac renders it in this manner, "If I have sinned, what have I done to thee?" So the Arabic, according to Walton. So the Septuagint, Εἰ ἐγὼ ἥμαρτον Ei egō hēmarton - "if I have sinned." This expresses the true sense. The object is not so much to make a penitent confession, as it is to say, that on the worst construction of the case, on the admission of the truth of the charge, he had not deserved the severe inflictions which he had received at the hand of God.
What shall I do unto thee? - Or, rather, what have I done unto thee? How can my conduct seriously affect thee? It will not mar thy happiness, affect thy peace, or in any way injure a being so great as God. This sentiment is often felt by people - but not often so honestly expressed.
O thou Preserver of men - Or, rather, "O thou that dost watch or observe men." The word rendered "Preserver" נצר notsēr is a participle from נצר nâtsar which means, according to Gesenius, to watch, to guard, to keep, and is used here in the sense of observing one's faults; and the idea of Job is, that God closely observed the conduct of people; that he strictly marked their faults, and severely punished them; and he asks with impatience, and evidently with improper feeling, why he thus closely watched people. So it is understood by Schultens, Rosenmuller, Dr. Good, Noyes, Herder, Kennicott, and others. The Septuagint renders it, "who knowest the mind of men?"
Why hast thou set me as a mark? - The word rendered "mark" מפגע mı̂phgâ‛, means properly that which one impinges against - from פגע pâga‛, to impinge against, to meet, to rush upon anyone - and here means, why has God made me such an object of attack or assault? The Septuagint renders it, κατεντευκτήν σου katenteuktēn sou, "an accuser of thee."
So that I am a burden to myself - The Septuagint renders this, ἐπὶ σοὶ φορτίον epi soi phortion, a burden to thee. The copy from which they translated evidently had עליך ‛alēykā - to thee, instead of עלי ‛ālay - to me, as it is now read in the Hebrew. "The Masoretes also place this among the eighteen passages which they say were altered by transcribers." Noyes. But the Received Text is sustained by all the versions except the Septuagint and by all the Hebrew manuscripts hitherto examined, and is doubtless the true reading. The sense is plain, that life had become a burden to Job. He says that God had made him the special object of his displeasure, and that his condition was insupportable. That there is much in this language which is irreverent and improper no one can doubt, and it is not possible wholly to vindicate it. Nor are we called to do it by any view which we have of the nature of inspiration. He was a good, but not a perfect man. These expressions are recorded, not for our imitation, but to show what human nature is. Before harshly condemning him, however, we should ask what we would be likely to do in his circumstances; we should remember also, that he had few of the truths and promises to support him which we have.
on Job 7 :20
7:20 Sinned - Although I am free from those crying sins, for which my friends suppose thou hast sent this judgment upon me, yet, I freely confess I am a sinner, and therefore obnoxious to thy justice. What, and c. - To satisfy thy justice, or regain thy favour? Who dost know and diligently observe all mens inward motions, and outward actions; and therefore, if thou shalt be severe to mark mine iniquities, I have not what to say or do unto thee. My case is singular, none is shot at as I am.