on Job 6 :6
Can that which is unsavoury - Mr. Good renders this verse as follows: Doth insipid food without a mixture of salt, yea, doth the white of the egg give forth pungency? Which he thus illustrates: "Doth that which hath nothing of seasoning, nothing of a pungent or irritable power within it, produce pungency or irritation? I too should be quiet and complain not, if I had nothing provocative or acrimonious, but, alas! the food I am doomed to partake of is the very calamity which is most acute to my soul - that which I most loathe, and which is most grievous or trying to my palate." Some render the original, Is there any dependence on the drivel of dreams? There have been a great variety of interpretations given of this verse. I could add another; but that of Mr. Good is as likely to be correct as that of any other critic.
on Job 6 :6
Can that which is unsavoury - Which is insipid, or without taste.
Be eaten without salt - It is necessary to add salt in order to make it either palatable or wholesome. The literal truth of this no one can doubt, Insipid food cannot be relished, nor would it long sustain life. "The Orientals eat their bread often with mere salt, without any other addition except some dry and pounded summer-savory, which last is the common method at Aleppo." Russell's Natural History of Aleppo, p. 27. It should be remembered, also, that the bread of the Orientals is commonly mere unleavened cakes; see Rosenmuller, Alte u. neue Morgenland, on Genesis 18:6. The idea of Job in this adage or proverb is, that there was a fitness and propriety in things. Certain things went together, and were necessary companions. One cannot be expected without the other; one is incomplete without the other. Insipid food requires salt in order to make it palatable and nutritious, and so it is proper that suffering and lamentation should be united.
There was a reason for his complaints, as there was for adding salt to unsavory food. Much perplexity, however, has been felt in regard to this whole passage; Job 6:6-7. Some have supposed that Job means to rebuke Eliphaz severely for his harangue on the necessity of patience, which he characterizes as insipid, impertinent, and disgusting to him; as being in fact as unpleasant to his soul as the white of an egg was to the taste. Dr. Good explains it as meaning, "Doth that which has nothing of seasoning, nothing of a pungent or irritating power within it, produce pungency or irritation? I too should be quiet and complain not, if I had nothing provocative or acrimonious; but alas! the food I am doomed to partake of is the very calamity which is most acute to my soul, that which I most loathe, and which is most grievous or trying to my palate." But the real sense of this first part of the verse is, I think, that which is expressed above - that insipid food requires proper condiment, and that in his sufferings there was a real ground for lamentation and complaint - as there was for making use of salt in that which is unsavory. I see no reason to think that he meant in this to reproach Eliphaz for an insipid and unmeaning address.
Or is there any taste in the white of an egg? - Critics and commentators have been greatly divided about the meaning of this. The Septuagint renders it, εἰ δέ καί ἐστί γεῦμα ἐν ῥήμασι κενοῖς ei de kai esti geuma en rēmasi kenois; is there any taste in vain words? Jerome (Vulgate), "can anyone taste that which being tasted produces death?" The Targums render it substantially as it is in our version. The Hebrew word rendered "white" (ריר rı̂yr) means properly spittle; 1 Samuel 21:13. If applied to an egg, it means the white of it, as resembling spittle. The word rendered "egg" (חלמוּת challâmûth) occurs nowhere else in the Scriptures. If it be regarded as derived from חלם châlam, to sleep, or dream, it may denote somnolency or dreams, and then fatuity, folly, or a foolish speech, as resembling dreams; and many have supposed that Job meant to characterize the speech of Eliphaz as of this description.
The word may mean, as it does in Syriac, a species of herb, the "purslain" (Gesenius), proverbial for its insipidity among the Arabs, Greeks, and Romans, but which was used as a salad; and the whole phrase here may denote purslain-broth, and hence, an insipid discourse. This is the interpretation of Gesenius. But the more common and more probable explanation is that of our common version, denoting the white of an egg. But what is the point of the remark as Job uses it? That it is a proverbial expression, is apparent; but in what way Job meant to apply it, is not so clear. The Jews say that he meant to apply it to the speech of Eliphaz as being insipid and dull, without anything to penetrate the heart or to enliven the fancy; a speech as disagreeable to the mind as the white of an egg was insipid to the taste. Rosenmuller supposes that he refers to his afflictions as being as unpleasant to bear as the white of an egg was to the taste. It seems to me that the sense of all the proverbs used here is about the same, and that they mean, "there is a reason for everything which occurs. The ass brays and the ox lows only when destitute of food. That which is insipid is unpleasant, and the white of an egg is loathsome. So with my afflictions. They produce loathing and disgust, My very food Job 6:7 is disagreeable, and everything seems tasteless as the most insipid food would. Hence the language which I have used - language spoken not without reason, and expressive of this state of the soul."
on Job 6 :6
6:6 Can, and c. - Do men use to eat unsavoury meats with delight, or without complaint? Men commonly complain of their meat when it is but unsavoury, how much more when it is so bitter as mine is?