Verse 29. "Be ye afraid of the sword " - Of God's judgments.
"For wrath bringeth " - Such anger as ye have displayed against me, God will certainly resent and punish.
"That ye may know there is a judgment. " - That ye may know that God will judge the world; and that the unequal distribution of riches and poverty, afflictions and health, in the present life, is a proof that there must be a future judgment, where evil shall be punished and virtue rewarded. IT would not be fair, after all the discussion of the preceding verses in reference to the two grand opinions and modes of interpretation instituted by learned men, not to inform the reader that a third method of solving all difficulties has been proposed, viz., that Job refers to a Divine conviction which he had just then received, that God would appear in the most evident manner to vindicate his innocence, and give the fullest proofs to his friends and to the world that his afflictions had not been sent as a scourge for his iniquities. Dr. Kennicott was the proposer of this third mode of solving these difficulties, and I shall give his method in his own words. "These five verses, though they contain but twelve lines, have occasioned controversies without number, as to the general meaning of Job in this place, whether he here expressed his firm belief of a resurrection to happiness after death, or of a restoration to prosperity during the remainder of his life. "Each of these positions has found powerful as well as numerous advocates; and the short issue of the whole seems to be, that each party has confuted the opposite opinion, yet without establishing its own. For how could Job here express his conviction of a reverse of things in this world, and of a restoration to temporal prosperity, at the very time when he strongly asserts that his miseries would soon be terminated by death? See chap. vi. 11; vii. 21; xvii. 11-15; xix. 10, and particularly in chap. vii. 7: O remember that my life is wind; mine eye shall no more see good. "Still less could Job here express a hope full of immortality, which sense cannot be extorted from the words without every violence. And as the possession of such belief is not to be reconciled with Job's so bitterly cursing the day of his birth in chap. iii. 1-3, so the declaration of such belief would have solved at once the whole difficulty in dispute. "But if neither of the preceding and opposite opinions can be admitted, if the words are not meant to express Job's belief either of a restoration or of a resurrection, what then are we to do? It does not appear to me that any other interpretation has yet been proposed by the learned; yet I will now venture to offer a third interpretation, different from both the former, and which, whilst it is free from the preceding difficulties, does not seem liable to equal objections.
"The conviction, then, which I suppose Job to express here, is this: That though his dissolution was hastening on amidst the unjust accusations of his pretended friends, and the cruel insults of his hostile relations; and though, whilst he was thus singularly oppressed with anguish of mind, he was also tortured with pains of body, torn by sores and ulcers from head to foot, and sitting upon dust and ashes; yet still, out of that miserable body, in his flesh thus stripped of skin, and nearly dropping into the grave, HE SHOULD SEE GOD, who would appear in his favour, and vindicate THE INTEGRITY of his character. This opinion may perhaps be fairly and fully supported by the sense of the words themselves, by the context, and by the following remarks. "We read in chap. ii. 7, that Job was smitten with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown; and chap. ii. 8, 'He sat down among the ashes.' In chap. vii. 5, Job says, 'My flesh is clothed with worms, and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome.' In chap. xvi. 19: 'Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.' Then come the words of Job, ver. 25-29. And then, in opposition to what Job had just said, that God would soon appear to vindicate him, and that even his accusing friends would acquit him, Zophar says, chap. xx. 27, that 'the heaven would reveal his iniquity, and the earth would rise up against him.' Lastly, this opinion concerning Job's words, as to God's vindication of him, is confirmed strongly at the end of the book, which records the conclusion of Job's history. His firm hope is here supposed to be that, before his death, he should, with his bodily eyes, see GOD appearing and vindicating his character. And from the conclusion we learn that God did thus appear: Now, says Job, mine eye seeth thee. And then did God most effectually and for ever brighten the glory of Job's fame, by four times calling him HIS SERVANT; and, as his anger was kindled against Job's friends, by speaking to them in the following words: 'Ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Go to my servant Job, - and my servant Job shall pray for you, - in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job,' chap. xl. 7, 8." Dr. K. then gives the common version, and proposes the following as a new version: - Ver. 25. For I know that my Vindicator liveth, And he at last shall arise over this dust.
26. And after that mine adversaries have mangled me thus, Even in my flesh shall I see God.
27. Whom I shall see on my side; And mine eyes shall behold, but not estranged from me: All this have I made up in mine bosom.
28. Verily ye shall say, Why have we persecuted him; Seeing the truth of the matter is found with him? 29. Tremble for yourselves at the face of the sword; For the sword waxeth hot against iniquities: Therefore be assured that judgment will take place.
KENNICOTT'S Remarks on Select Passages of Scripture, p. 165. There is something very plausible in this plan of Dr. Kennicott; and in the conflicting opinions relative to the meaning of this celebrated and much controverted passage, no doubt some will be found who will adopt it as a middle course. The theory, however, is better than some of the arguments by which it is supported. Yet had I not been led, by the evidence mentioned before, to the conclusion there drawn, I should probably have adopted Dr. K.'s opinion with some modification: but as to his new version, it is what I am persuaded the Hebrew text can never bear. It is even too loose a paraphrase of the original, as indeed are most of the new versions of this passage. Dr. Kennicott says, that such a confidence as those cause Job to express, who make him speak concerning the future resurrection, ill comports with his cursing so bitterly the day of his birth, &c. But this objection has little if any strength, when we consider that it is not at all probable that Job had this confidence any time before the moment in which he uttered it: it was then a direct revelation, nothing of which he ever had before, else he had never dropped those words of impatience and irritation which we find in several of his speeches. And this may be safely inferred from the consideration, that after this time no such words escaped his lips: he bears the rest of his sufferings with great patience and fortitude; and seems to look forward with steady hope to that day in which all tears shall be wiped away from off all faces, and it be fully proved that the Judge of all the earth has done right.