Let my wife grind unto another - Let her work at the handmill, grinding corn; which was the severe work of the meanest slave. In this sense the passage is understood both by the Syriac and Arabic. See Exodus 11:5; (note), and Isaiah 47:2; (note); and see at the end of the chapter, Isaiah 31:8; (note).
And let others bow down upon her - Let her be in such a state as to have no command of her own person; her owner disposing of her person as he pleases. In Asiatic countries slaves were considered so absolutely the property of their owners, that they not only served themselves of them in the way of scortation and concubinage, but they were accustomed to accommodate their guests with them! Job is so conscious of his own innocence, that he is willing it should be put to the utmost proof; and if found guilty, that he may be exposed to the most distressing and humiliating punishment; even to that of being deprived of his goods, bereaved of his children, his wife made a slave, and subjected to all indignities in that state.
Then let my wife grined unto another - Let her be subjected to the deepest humiliation and degradation. Probably Job could not have found language which would have more emphatically expressed his sense of the enormity of this crime, or his perfect consciousness of innocence. The last thing which a man would imprecate on himself, would be that which is specified in this verse. The word “grind” (טחן ṭâchan ) means to crush, to beat small; then to grind, as in a handmill; Judges 16:21; Numbers 11:8. This was usually the work of females and slaves; see the notes at Isaiah 47:2. The meaning here is, “Let my wife be the mill-wench to another; be his abject slave, and be treated by him with the deepest indignity.” This passage has been understood by many in a different sense, which the parallelism might seem to demand, but which is not necessarily the true interpretation. The sense referred to is this: Cogatur uxor mea ad patiendum alius concubitum, ut verbum molendi hoc loco eodem sensu sumatur, quo non raro a Latinis usurpatur ut in illo Horatii (Satyr. L. i. Ecl. ii. verse 35), alienas permolere uxores.
In this sense the rabbinic writers understand Judges 16:21 and Lamentations 5:13. So also the Chaldee renders the phrase before us (חורן תשמשעם אנתתי ) coeat cure alio uxor mea; and so the Septuagint seems to have understood it - ἀρέσαι ἄρα κὰι ἡ γυνή μου ἑτέρῳ aresai ara kai hē gunē mou heterō But probably Job meant merely that his wife should be reduced to the condition of servitude, and be compelled to labor in the employ of another. We may find here an answer to the opinion of Prof. Lee (in his notes at Job 31:1), that the wife of Job was at this time dead, and that he was meditating the question about marrying again. May we not here also find an instance of the fidelity and forgiving spirit of Job toward a wife who is represented in the early part of this book as manifesting few qualities which could win the heart of an husband? There is no expression of impatience at her temper and her words on the part of Job, and he here speaks of it as the most serious of all calamities that could happen; the most painful of all punishments, that that same wife should be reduced to a condition of servitude and degradation.