Conjuring Hope IV
Job 19:23-27--I Know My Redeemer Lives
In Job 16 we learned of a witness in heaven who will speak for Job in his trial. Now, in Job 19, we encounter someone who will act on Job's behalf. The basic idea of the "redeemer" or "vindicator" or "champion" of Job 19:25 is one who gives Job the protection he needs. Once he confesses this belief, Job knows he will be vindicated come what may.
Job 19, like no other previous chapter, stresses Job's aloneness. All have abandoned him. He is repulsive to his wife (19:17). For the first and only time he asks for pity from the friends (19:21). Then, in 19:23, he utters a cry for his words to be written. Many scholars see this as a cry, gradually intensified, for a hearing in one medium, but I see it as Job's desire to make his words inscribed in ever more permanent media. "O that my words were written down! O that they were inscribed in a book! Oh that with an iron pen and with lead they were engraved on a rock forever (19:23-24)!" Come to think of it, Job got his wish. Bildad wanted to squelch his words--to shame Job into being quiet. Job refused to be silenced, and his words echo down the corridors of time.
The classic text is Job 19:25-27. "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; 26 and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!" First to recognize is the intensive nature of v. 25. Literally it is best rendered, "I myself know...." It is an assertion of something he knows without doubt. Second is the Redeemer or "goel." The "goel" is a person long recognized in Israel's religion who will redeem the family's property that is in danger of being sold (Lev 25:25-34); will marry a widow to provide an heir (Ruth 4:1-6); will avenge a death of a kinsman (Num. 35:17-21). Here the emphasis is on one who will make sure that Job's case is not only pleaded but that his rights are upheld.
This realization then begins to make Job's heart faint (v. 27) and he utters words in 19:26-27 that are not easily translated and have been rendered very differently by most commentators. The root idea is that Job will, after his "skin" has been destroyed, see God "from his flesh." The image is hazy to say the least. We do not know if Job is talking about an after-death experience; this may best be understood in the context of Job 14, where he longs for God to set him in Sheol until God's wrath is past. Here, perhaps there is some such intermediate state Job envisions. He sees God at his side, and not another. This causes Job's heart to faint within him.
The overpowering sense of Job's vision, this rapturous reality, represents the apex of Job's hope. This longing will be fulfilled in Job 42 in a most unusual way.
Copyright © 2004-2007 William R. Long