Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Job 31:38

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

If my land cry - The most careless reader may see that the introduction of this and the two following verses here, disturbs the connection, and that they are most evidently out of their place. Job seems here to refer to that law, Leviticus 25:1-7, by which the Israelites were obliged to give the land rest every seventh year, that the soil might not be too much exhausted by perpetual cultivation, especially in a country which afforded so few advantages to improve the arable ground by manure. He, conscious that he had acted according to this law, states that his land could not cry out against him, nor its furrows complain. He had not broken the law, nor exhausted the soil.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

If my land cry against me - This is a new specification of an offence, and an imprecation of an appropriate punishment if he had been guilty of it. Many have supposed that these closing verses have been transferred from their appropriate place by an error of transcribers, and that they should have been inserted between Job 31:23-24 - or in some previous part of the chapter. It is certain that Job 31:35-37 would make an appropriate and impressive close of the chapter, being a solemn appeal to God in reference to all the specifications, or to the general tenor of his life; but there is no authority from the MSS. to make any change in the present arrangement. All the ancient versions insert the verses in the place which they now occupy, and in this all versions agree, except, according to Kennicott, the Teutonic version, where they are inserted after Job 31:25. All the MSS. also concur in the present arrangement.

Schultens supposes that there is manifest pertinency and propriety in the present arrangement. The former specification, says he, related mainly to his private life, this to his more public conduct; and the design is to vindicate himself from the charge of injustice and crime in both respects, closing appropriately with the latter. Rosenmuller remarks that in a composition composed in an age and country so remote as this, we are not to look for or demand the observance of the same regularity which is required by the modern canons of criticism. At all events, there is no authority for changing the present arrangement of the text. The meaning of the phrase “if my land cry out against me” is, that in the cultivation of his land he had not been guilty of injustice. He had not employed those to till it who had been compelled to do it, nor had he imposed on them unreasonable burdens, nor had he defrauded them of their wages. The land had not had occasion to cry out against him to God, because fraud or injustice had been done to any in its cultivation; compare Genesis 4:10; Hab. ii. 11.

Or that the furrows likewise thereof complain - Margin, weep. The Hebrew is, “If the furrows weep together,” or “in like manner weep.” This is a beautiful image. The very furrows in the field are personified as weeping on account of injustice which would be done them, and of the burdens which would be laid on them, if they were compelled to contribute to oppression and fraud.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Job clears himself from the charge of hypocrisy. We are loth to confess our faults, willing to excuse them, and to lay the blame upon others. But he that thus covers his sins, shall not prosper, Pr 28:13. He speaks of his courage in what is good, as an evidence of his sincerity in it. When men get estates unjustly, they are justly deprived of comfort from them; it was sown wheat, but shall come up thistles. What men do not come honestly by, will never do them any good. The words of Job are ended. They end with a bold assertion, that, with respect to accusation against his moral and religious character as the cause for his sufferings, he could appeal to God. But, however confident Job was, we shall see he was mistaken, chap. 40:4,5; 1Jo 1:8. Let us all judge ourselves; wherein we are guilty, let us seek forgiveness in that blood which cleanseth from all sin; and may the Lord have mercy upon us, and write his laws in our hearts!
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