on Job 31 :40
Let thistles grow instead of wheat - What the word חוח choach means, which we translate thistles, we cannot tell: but as חח chach seems to mean to hold, catch as a hook, to hitch, it must signify some kind of hooked thorn, like the brier; and this is possibly its meaning.
And cockle - באשה bashah, some fetid plant, from באש baash, to stink. In Isaiah 5:2, Isaiah 5:4, we translate it wild grapes; and Bishop Lowth, poisonous berries: but Hasselquist, a pupil of the famous Linnaeus, in his Voyages, p. 289, is inclined to believe that the solanum incanum, or hoary nightshade is meant, as this is common in Egypt, Palestine, and the East. Others are of opinion that it means the aconite, which (Arabic) beesh, in Arabic, denotes: this is a poisonous herb, and grows luxuriantly on the sunny hills among the vineyards, according to Celsus in Hieroboticon. (Arabic) beesh is not only the name of an Indian poisonous herb, called the napellus moysis, but (Arabic) beesh moosh, or (Arabic) farut al beesh, is the name of an animal, resembling a mouse, which lives among the roots of this very plant. "May I have a crop of this instead of barley, if I have acted improperly either by my land or my laborers!"
The words of Job are ended - That is, his defense of himself against the accusations of his friends, as they are called. He spoke afterwards, but never to them; he only addresses God, who came to determine the whole controversy. These words seem very much like an addition by a later hand. They are wanting in many of the MSS. of the Vulgate, two in my own possession; and in the Editio Princeps of this version. I suppose that at first they were inserted in rubric, by some scribe, and afterwards taken into the text. In a MS. of my own, of the twelfth or thirteenth century, these words stand in rubric, actually detached from the text; while in another MS., of the fourteenth century, they form a part of the text. In the Hebrew text they are also detached: the hemistichs are complete without them; nor indeed can they be incorporated with them. They appear to me an addition of no authority. In the first edition of our Bible, that by Coverdale, 1535, there is a white line between these words and the conclusion of the chapter; and they stand, forming no part of the text, thus:
Here ende the wordes of Job.
Just as we say, in reading the Scriptures "Here ends such a chapter;" or, "Here ends the first lesson," etc. Or the subject of the transposition, mentioned above, I have referred to the reasons at the end of the chapter. Dr. Kennicott, on this subject, observes: "Chapters 29, 30, and 31, contain Job's animated self-defense, which was made necessary by the reiterated accusation of his friends. This defense now concludes with six lines (in the Hebrew text) which declare, that if he had enjoyed his estates covetously, or procured them unjustly, he wished them to prove barren and unprofitable. This part, therefore seems naturally to follow Job 31:25, where he speaks of his gold, and how much his hand had gotten. The remainder of the chapter will then consist of these four regular parts, viz.,
1. His piety to God, in his freedom from idolatry, Job 31:26-28.
2. His benevolence to men, in his charity both of temper and behavior, Job 31:29-32.
3. His solemn assurance that he did not conceal his guilt, from fearing either the violence of the poor, or the contempt of the rich, Job 31:33, Job 31:34.
4. (Which must have been the last article, because conclusive of the work) he infers that, being thus secured by his integrity, he may appeal safely to God himself. This appeal he therefore makes boldly, and in such words as, when rightly translated, form an image which perhaps has no parallel. For where is there an image so magnificent or so splendid as this?
Job, thus conscious of innocence, wishing even God himself to draw up his indictment, [rather his adversary Eliphaz and companions to draw up this indictment, the Almighty to be judge,] that very indictment he would bind round his head; and with that indictment as his crown of glory, he would, with the dignity of a prince, advance to his trial! Of this wonderful passage I add a version more just and more intelligible than the present: - "
O that one would grant me a hearing!
Behold, my desire is that the Almighty would answer me;
And, as plaintiff against me, draw up the indictment.
on Job 31 :40
Let thistles grow; - Genesis 3:18. Thistles are valueless; and Job is so confident of entire innocence in regard to this, that he says he would be willing, if he were guilty, to have his whole land overrun with noxious weeds.
And cockle - Cockle is a well known herb that gets into wheat or other grain. It has a bluish flower, and small black seed, and is injurious because it tends to discolor the flour. It is not certain by any means, however, that this is intended here. The margin is, noisome weeds. The Hebrew word באשׁה bo'shâh is from באשׁ bâ'ash, "to have a bad smell, to stink," and was given to the weed here referred to on that account, compare Isaiah 34:3. The cockle however, has no unpleasant odor, and the word here probably means noxious weeds. So it is rendered by Herder and by Noyes. The Septuagint has βάτος batos, bramble; the Vulgate, spina, thorn; Prof. Lee, prunus sylvestris, "a bramble resembling the hawthorn;" Schultens, labrusca, wild vine.
The words of Job are ended - That is, in the present speech or argument; his discussions with his friends are closed. He spoke afterward, as recorded in the subsequent chapters, but not in controversy with them. He had vindicated his character, sustained his positions, and they had nothing to reply. The remainder of the book is occupied mainly with the speech of Elihu, and with the solemn and sublime address which God himself makes.
on Job 31 :40