on Job 19 :25
For I know that my Redeemer liveth - Any attempt to establish the true meaning of this passage is almost hopeless. By learned men and eminent critics the words have been understood very differently; some vehemently contending that they refer to the resurrection of the body, and the redemption of the human race by Jesus Christ; while others, with equal vehemence and show of argument, have contended that they refer only to Job's restoration to health, family comforts, and general prosperity, after the present trial should be ended. In defense of these two opinions larger treatises have been written than the whole book of Job would amount to, if written even in capitals. To discuss the arguments on either side the nature of this work forbids; but my own view of the subject will be reasonably expected by the reader. I shall therefore lay down one principle, without which no mode of interpretation hitherto offered can have any weight. The principle is this: Job was now under the especial inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and spoke prophetically. Now, whether we allow that the passage refers to the general resurrection and the redemption by Christ, or to Job's restoration to health, happiness, and prosperity, this principle is equally necessary.
1. In those times no man could speak so clearly concerning the general resurrection and the redemption by Jesus Christ as Job, by one class of interpreters, is supposed here to do, unless especially inspired for this very purpose.
2. Job's restoration to health and happiness, which, though it did take place, was so totally improbable to himself all the way through, so wholly unexpected, and, in every sense, impossible, except to the almighty power of God, that it could not be inferred from any thing that had already taken place, and must be foreshown by direct inspiration.
Now, that it was equally easy to predict either of these events, will be at once evident, because both were in futurity, and both were previously determined. Nothing contingent could exist in either; with them man had nothing to do; and they were equally within the knowledge of Him to whose ubiquity there can be neither past nor future time; in whose presence absolute and contingent events subsist in their own distinctive characters, and are never resolved into each other. But another question may arise, Which was most likely to be the subject of this oracular declaration, the general resurrection and redemption by Christ; or the restoration of Job to health and affluence? If we look only to the general importance of these things, this question may be soon decided; for the doctrine of human redemption, and the general resurrection to an eternal life, are of infinitely greater importance than any thing that could affect the personal welfare of Job. We may therefore say, of two things which only the power of God can effect, and one of which only shall be done it is natural to conclude he will do that which is of most importance; and that is of most importance by which a greater measure of glory is secured to himself, and a greater sum of good produced to mankind. As, therefore, a revelation by which the whole human race, in all its successive generations, to the end of time, may be most essentially benefited, is superior in its worth and importance to that by which one man only can be benefited, it is natural to conclude here, that the revelation relative to the general resurrection, etc., is that which most likely the text includes. But to this it may be answered, God does not do always in the first instance that which is most necessary and important in itself, as every thing is done in that order and in that time which seems best to his godly wisdom; therefore, a thing of less importance may be done now, and a thing of greater importance left to a future time. So, God made the earth before he made man, produced light before he formed the celestial luminaries, and instituted the Mosaic economy before the Christian dispensation. This is all true, for every thing is done in that season in which it may best fulfill the designs of providence and grace. But the question still recurs, Which of the predictions was most congruous to the circumstances of Job, and those of his companions; and which of them was most likely to do most good on that occasion, and to be most useful through the subsequent ages of the world? The subject is now considerably narrowed; and, if this question could be satisfactorily answered, the true meaning of the passage would be at once found out.
1. For the sake of righteousness, justice, and truth, and to vindicate the ways of God with man, it was necessary that Job's innocence should be cleared; that the false judgments of his friends should be corrected; and that, as Job was now reduced to a state of the lowest distress, it was worthy the kindness of God to give him some direct intimation that his sufferings should have a happy termination. That such an event ought to take place, there can be no question: and that it did take place, is asserted in the book; and that Job's friends saw it, were reproved, corrected, and admitted into his favor of whom they did not speak that which was right, and who had, in consequence, God's wrath kindled against them, are also attested facts. But surely there was no need of so solemn a revelation to inform them of what was shortly to take place, when they lived to see it; nor can it be judged essentially necessary to the support of Job, when the ordinary consolations of God's Spirit, and the excitement of a good hope through grace, might have as completely answered the end.
2. On the other hand, to give men, who were the chiefs of their respective tribes, proper notice of a doctrine of which they appear to have had no adequate conception, and which was so necessary to the peace of society, the good government of men, and the control of unruly and wayward passions, which the doctrine of the general resurrection and consequent judgment is well calculated to produce; and to stay and support the suffering godly under the afflictions and calamities of life; were objects worthy the highest regards of infinite philanthropy and justice, and of the most pointed and solemn revelation which could be given on such an occasion. In short, they are the grounds on which all revelation is given to the sons of men: and the prophecy in question, viewed in this light, was, in that dark age and country, a light shining in a dark place; for the doctrine of the general resurrection and of future rewards and punishments, existed among the Arabs from time immemorial, and was a part of the public creed of the different tribes when Mohammed endeavored to establish his own views of that resurrection and of future rewards and punishments, by the edge of the sword. I have thus endeavored dispassionately to view this subject; and having instituted the preceding mode of reasoning, without foreseeing where it would tend, being only desirous to find out truth, I arrive at the conclusion, that the prophecy in question was not designed to point out the future prosperity of Job; but rather the future redemption of mankind by Jesus Christ, and the general resurrection of the human race. After what has been stated above, a short paraphrase on the words of the text will be all that is necessary to be added. I know, ידעתי yadati, I have a firm and full persuasion, that my Redeemer, גאלי goali, my Kinsman, he whose right it was among the ancient Hebrews to redeem the forfeited heritages belonging to the family, to vindicate its honor, and to avenge the death of any of his relatives by slaying the murderer; (Leviticus 25:25; Numbers 35:12; Ruth 3:13); but here it must refer to Christ, who has truly the right of redemption, being of the same kindred, who was born of woman, flesh of flesh and bone of our bone. Liveth, חי chai, is the living One, who has the keys of hell and death: the Creator and Lord of the spirits of all flesh, and the principle and support of all life. And that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. The latter day, אחרון acharon, the latter day, or time, when God comes to judgment; or finally, or at last, or in the last time, or latter days, as the Gospel is termed, he shall be manifested in the flesh. He shall stand, יקום yakum, he shall arise, or stand up, i.e., to give sentence in judgment: or he himself shall arise from the dust, as the passage has been understood by some to refer to the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Upon the earth, על עפר al aphar, over the dead, or those who are reduced to dust. This is the meaning of עפר aphar in Psalm 30:9 : What profit is there in my blood when I go down to the pit? Shall the Dust (i.e., the dead) praise thee? He shall arise over the dust - over them who sleep in the dust, whom he shall also raise up.
on Job 19 :25
For I know that my Redeemer liveth - There are few passages in the Bible which have excited more attention than this, or in respect to which the opinions of expositors have been more divided. The importance of the passage Job 19:25-27 has contributed much to the anxiety to understand its meaning - since, if it refers to the Messiah, it is one of the most valuable of all the testimonials now remaining of the early faith on that subject. The importance of the passage will justify a somewhat more extended examination of its meaning than it is customary to give in a commentary of a single passage of Scripture; and Ishall
(1.) Give the views entertained of it by the translators of the ancient and some of the modern versions;
(2.) Investigate the meaning of the words and phrases which occur in it; and
(3.) State the arguments, pro and con, for its supposed reference to the Messiah.
The Vulgate renders it, "For I know that my Redeemer - Redemptor meus - lives, and that in the last day I shall rise from the earth; and again, I shall be enveloped - circumdabor - with my skin, and in my flesh shall I see my God. Whom I myself shall see, and my eyes shall behold, and not another - this, my hope, is laid up in my bosom." The Septuagint translate it, "For I know that he is Eternal who is about to deliver me - ὁ ἐκλύειν με μέλλων ho ekluein me mellōn - to raise again upon earth this skin of mine, which draws up these things - τὸ ἀναντλοῦν ταῦτα to anantloun tauta (the meaning of which, I believe, no one has ever been able to divine.) For from the Lord these things have happened to me of which I alone am conscious, which my eye has seen, and not another, and which have all been done to me in my bosom." Thompson's trans. in part. The Syriac is in the main a simple and correct rendering of the Hebrew. "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the consummation he will be revealed upon the earth, and after my skin I shall bless myself in these things, and after my flesh. If my eyes shall see God, I shall see light." The Chaldee accords with our version, except in one phrase. "And afterward my skin shall be inflated, (משכי אתפת) - then in my flesh shall I see God." It will be seen that some perplexity was felt by the authors of the ancient versions in regard to the passage. Much more has been felt by expositors. Some notices of the views of the moderns, in regard to particular words and phrases, will be given in the exposition.
I know - I am certain. On that point Job desires to express the utmost confidence. His friends might accuse him of hypocrisy - they might charge him with lack of piety, and he might not be able to refute all that they said; but in the position referred to here he would remain fixed, and with this firm confidence he would support his soul. It was this which he wished to have recorded in the eternal rocks, that the record might go down to future times. If after ages should be made acquainted with his name and his sufferings - if they should hear of the charges brought against him and of the accusations of impiety which had been so harshly and unfeelingly urged, he wished that this testimony might be recorded, to show that he had unwavering confidence in God. He wished this eternal record to be made, to show that he was not a rejecter of truth; that he was not an enemy of God; that he had a firm confidence that God would yet come forth to vindicate him, and would stand up as his friend. It was a testimony worthy of being held in everlasting remembrance, and one which has had, and will have, a permanency much greater than he anticipated.
That my Redeemer - This important word has been variously translated. Rosenmuller and Schultens render it, vindicem; Dr. Good, Redeemer; Noyes and Wemyss, vindicator; Herder, avenger, Luther, Erloser - Redeemer; Chaldee and Syriac, Redeemer. The Hebrew word, גאל go'al, is from גאל gā'al, "to redeem, to ransom." It is applied to the redemption of a farm sold, by paying back the price, Leviticus 25:25; Ruth 4:4, Ruth 4:6; to anything consecrated to God that is redeemed by paying its value, Leviticus 27:13, and to a slave that is ransomed, Leviticus 25:48-49. The word גאל go'el, is applied to one who redeems a field, Leviticus 25:26; and is often applied to God, who had redeemed his people from bondage, Exodus 6:6; Isaiah 43:1. See the notes at Isaiah 43:1; and on the general meaning of the word, see the notes at Job 3:5. Among the Hebrews, the גאל go'el occupied an important place, as a blood-avenger, or a vindicator of violated rights.
See Numbers 35:12, Numbers 35:19, Numbers 35:21, Numbers 35:24-25, Numbers 35:27; Deuteronomy 19:6-12; Ruth 4:1, Ruth 4:6,Ruth 4:8; Joshua 20:3. The word גאל go'el, is rendered kinsman, Ruth 4:1, Ruth 4:3,Ruth 4:6, Ruth 4:8; near kinsman, Ruth 3:9, Ruth 3:12; avenger, Numbers 35:12; Joshua 20:3; Redeemer, Job 19:25; Psalm 19:14; Isaiah 47:4; Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 48:17; Isaiah 54:8; Isaiah 41:14; Isaiah 49:26; Isaiah 60:16; kin, Leviticus 25:25, et al. Moses found the office of the גאל go'el, or avenger, already instituted, (see Michaelis's Commentary on laws of Moses, section cxxxvi.) and he adopted it into his code of laws. It would seem, therefore, not improbable that it prevailed in the adjacent countries in the time of Job, or that there may have been a reference to this office in the place before us. The גאל go'el is first introduced in the laws of Moses, as having a right to redeem a mortgaged field, Leviticus 25:25-26; and then as buying a right, as kinsman, to the restoration of anything which had been iniquitously acquired, Numbers 5:8.
Then he is often referred to in the writings of Moses as the blood-avenger, or the kinsman of one who was slain, who would have a right to pursue the murderer, and to take vengeance on him, and whose duty it would be to do it. This right of a near relative to pursues murderer, and to take vengeance, seems to have been one that was early conceded every where. It was so understood among the American Indians, and probably prevails in all countries before there are settled laws for the trial and punishment of the guilty. It was a right, however, which was liable to great abuse. Passion would take the place of reason, the innocent would be suspected, and the man who had slain another in self-defense was as likely to be pursued and slain as he who had been guilty of willful murder. To guard against this, in the unsettled state of jurisprudence, Moses appointed cities of refuge, where the man-slayer might flee until he could bare a fair opportunity of trial.
It was impossible to put an end at once to the office of the גאל go'el. The kinsman, the near relative, would feel himself called on to pursue the murderer; but the man-slayer might flee into a sacred city, and remain until he had a fair trial; see Numbers 35; Deuteronomy 19:6-7. It was a humane arrangement to appoint cities of refuge, where the man who had slain another might be secure until he had an opportunity of trial - an arrangement which eminently showed the wisdom of Moses. On the rights and duties of the גאל go'el, the reader may consult Michaelis's Com. on the laws of Moses, art. 136, 137. His essential office was that of a vindicator - one who took up the cause of a friend, whether that friend was murdered, or was oppressed, or was wronged in any way. Usually, perhaps always, this pertained to the nearest male kin, and was instituted for the aid of the defenceless and the wronged.
In times long subsequent, a somewhat similar feeling gave rise to the institution of chivalry, and the voluntary defenee of the innocent and oppressed. It cannot now be determined whether Job in this passage has reference to the office of the גאל go'el, as it was afterward understood, or whether it existed in his time. It seems probable that the office would exist at the earliest periods of the world, and that in the rudest stages of society the nearest of kin would feel himself called on to vindicate the wrong done to one of the feebler members of his family. The word properly denotes, therefore, either vindicator, or redeemer; and so far as the term is concerned, it may refer either to God, as an avenger of the innocent, or to the future Redeemer - the Messiah. The meaning of this word would be met, should it be understood as referring to God, coming forth in a public manner to vindicate the cause of Job against all the charges and accusations of his professed friends; or to God, who would appear as his vindicator at the resurrection; or to the future Messiah - the Redeemer of the body and the soul. No argument in favor of either of these interpretations can be derived from the use of the word.
Liveth - Is alive - חי chay Septuagint, immortal - ἀένναός aennaos. He seems now to have forsaken me as if he were dead, but my faith is unwavering in him as a living vindicator. A similar expression occurs in Job 16:19. "My witness is in heaven, and my record is on high." It is a declaration of entire confidence in God, and will beautifully convey the emotions of the sincere believer in all ages. He may be afflicted with disease, or the loss of property, or be forsaken by his friends, or persecuted by his foes, but if he can look up to heaven and say, "I know that my Redeemer live's," he will have peace.
And that he shall stand - He will stand up, as one does who undertakes the cause of another. Jerome has rendered this as though it referred to Job," And in the last day I shall rise from the earth" - de terra surrecturus sum - as if it referred to the resurrection of the body. But this is not in accordance with the Hebrew, דקוּם deqûm - "he shall stand." There is clearly no necessary reference in this word to the resurrection. The simple meaning is, "he shall appear, or manifest himself, as the vindicator of my cause."
on Job 19 :25
19:25 For - This is the reason of his confidence in the goodness of his cause, and his willingness to have the matter depending between him and his friends, published and submitted to any trial, because he had a living and powerful Redeemer to plead his cause, and to give sentence for him. My Redeemer - In whom I have a particular interest. The word Goel, here used; properly agrees to Jesus Christ: for this word is primarily used of the next kinsman, whose office it was to redeem by a price paid, the sold or mortgaged estate of his deceased kinsman; to revenge his death, and to maintain his name and honour, by raising up seed to him. All which more fitly agrees to Christ, who is our nearest kinsman and brother, as having taken our nature upon him; who hath redeemed that everlasting inheritance which our first parents had utterly lost, by the price of his own blood; and hath revenged the death of mankind upon the great contriver of it, the devil, by destroying him and his kingdom; and hath taken a course to preserve our name, and honour, and persons, to eternity. And it is well observed, that after these expressions, we meet not with such impatient or despairing passages, as we had before; which shews that they had inspired him with new life and comfort. Latter day - At the day of the general resurrection and judgment, which, as those holy patriarchs well knew and firmly believed, was to be at the end of the world. The earth - The place upon which Christ shall appear and stand at the last day. Heb. upon the dust; in which his saints and members lie or sleep, whom he will raise out of it. And therefore he is fitly said to stand upon the dust, or the grave, or death; because then he will put that among other enemies under his feet.