“My Witness Is In Heaven”

 

Epiphaz’s rote recital of traditional wisdom concerning the fate of the wicked {The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor. A dreadful sound is in his ears: in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him.  He believeth not that he shall return out of darkness, and he is waited for of the sword.  He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, Where is it? he knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand.  Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid; they shall prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle.  For he stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty.  He runneth upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick bosses of his bucklers:  Because he covereth his face with his fatness, and maketh collops of fat on his flanks. And he dwelleth in desolate cities, and in houses which no man inhabiteth, which are ready to become heaps. He shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue, neither shall he prolong the perfection thereof upon the earth. He shall not depart out of darkness; the flame shall dry up his branches, and by the breath of his mouth shall he go away.  Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompense. It shall be accomplished before his time, and his branch shall not be green.  He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine, and shall cast off his flower as the olive.  For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery. They conceive mischief, and bring forth vanity, and their belly prepareth deceit. Job 15:20-35} leaves Job unmoved. Job calls such trite formulations “words of winds” {Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest?  Job 16:3}. In his reply {Not for any injustice in mine hands: also my prayer is pure.  Job 16:17} Job , again appeals to his own tragic experience of injustice. In stylized language that is reminiscent of the psalmiclaments, he describes his own his own pain and shame { But now he hath made me wary: thou hast made desolate all my company.  And thou hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me: and my leanness rising up in me beareth witness to my face.  He teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnashed upon me with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me. They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me. God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked. I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark.  His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground.  He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me like a giant.  I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust. My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death;  Not for any injustice in mine hands: also my prayer is pure.  Job 16:7-17} { All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,  He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. Psalm 22:7-8} { For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. Psalm 38:2} Despite his suffering, Job does not give up hope that he might be vindicated before God. He envisioned a mediator who would take his case to God. {Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both. Job 9:33}; now he declares his witness to be “in Heaven”  “on High”  {Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high. Job 16:19} There must be justice before God, somehow. Job’s hope depending on an unknown witness, is surely a hope dredged from the pit of despair, but it is hope nonetheless. For the first time Job appears not to long for death {If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.  I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister. And where is now my hope? as for my hope, who shall see it? They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust. Job 17:13-15}.

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