1 ¶ Then Job answered and said, 2 I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all. 3 Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest? 4 I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul’s stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you. 5 But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief.
An important fact about the way this Bible is written is the way it uses the words for singular you; thee, thou, and thine, and the words for the plural you; you, ye, and your. In other words when a Bible speaker is referring to thee he is talking about an individual. When he is referring to you he is talking about a group. This can change the meaning from what we who aren’t used to using thee and thine think it is.
Genesis 17:9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
God tells Abraham that he is to keep the covenant and also those of his descendants are to do the same. Then God says that they all are to keep this covenant that is between God and them, defined as Abraham’s seed after him. All of the male children were to be circumcised. This distinction of singular and plural you may not seem important but it changes the meaning of some important passages from what we are taught by newer, less literal Bibles.
Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
In this passage Jesus declares that Satan has requested the permission to attack the Apostles, the two you’s of verse 31. But, Jesus has asked of the Father that Peter’s faith be strengthened so that he can support the others. Still, though, Peter will fail, as you will soon see if you read the rest of the narrative.
This use of thee and you is a subtle difference but important in understanding. The King James translators revived the practice of using thee and thou in this way as by their time those words may only have indicated intimate speech as in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet when Juliet says, “Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou Romeo?” as she laments his being a Montague. (Wherefore means why). (27)
So, here in Job, chapter 16, Job says his friends are terrible at the job of comforting someone and then accuses Eliphaz of vain words. He then says that he could treat them all as they have treated him if the roles were reversed but that he wouldn’t do to them what they are doing to him. He insists he would comfort them.
Asswage means to restrain or abate.
Genesis 8:1 ¶ And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged; 2 The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained; 3 And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.
See, the Bible is not “rocket science” if you will just take the time to read it carefully rather than just having someone spoon-feed bits and pieces to you. Learn to feed yourself, Christian, on this amazing book that your Creator had His hand in and wants to speak to you through. You’re looking rather gaunt and hungry spiritually.
Job’s declaration that he would not do to his friends what his friends have done to him is a fundamental of Christianity. It goes against the idea of revenge and paybacks that our culture teaches us from birth, particularly young men who would feel dominated if they didn’t return evil for evil. There are no inferior people, only inferior cultures. Cultures that accept cruelty, abuse, or exploitation of women, children, or animals as okay behavior for a man are inferior, for example. If your culture admires revenge then it is wicked and you should take your mind out of it.
As Jesus said on occasion;
Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Matthew 7:12 ¶ Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
Luke 6: 27 ¶ But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. 29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. 30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. 31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
Romans 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Now, that’ll keep a young man who thinks he’s “all that and a bag of chips,” out of church, won’t it, probably many a young woman, as well? Job insists that he would not do the hurt to his friends that they have done to him if the situation was reversed. Can you honestly claim that when you are hurt by a brother or a sister?
(27) William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, (1597, repr., Berkely, CA: Belmont Press, 2012), Kindle edition, Act 2, Scene 2.