Your remembrances are like unto ashes - There has been a considerable variety in the interpretation of this verse. The meaning in our common version is certainly not very clear. The Vulgate renders it, Memoria vestra comparabitur cineri . The Septuagint, ̓́ ̀ ̔͂ ̀ ́ ̓͂ ͂ͅ Apobēsetai de humōn to gauriama isa spodō - "your boasting shall pass away like ashes." Dr. Good renders it, "Dust are your stored-up sayings." Noyes, "Your maxims are words of dust." The word rendered "remembrances" zı̂krôn means properly "remembrance, memory," Joshua 4:7; Ezekiel 12:14; then a "memento," or "record;" then a "memorable saying, a maxim." This is probably the meaning here; and the reference is to the apothegms or proverbs which they had so profusely uttered, and which they regarded as so profound and worthy of attention, but which Job was disposed to regard as most common-place, and to treat with contempt.
Are like unto ashes - That is, they are valueless. See the notes at Isaiah 44:20. Their maxims had about the same relation to true wisdom which ashes have to substantial and nutritious food. The Hebrew here ( ׁ mâshaly 'êpher ) is rather, "are parables of ashes;" - the word ׁ mâshâl meaning similitude, parable, proverb. This interpretation gives more force and beauty to the passage.
Your bodies - - gabēykem Vulgate, " cervices ." Septuagint, ̀ ̀ ͂ ́ to de sōma pēlinon - but the body is clay. The Hebrew word gab , means something gibbous (from where the word "gibbous" is derived), convex, arched; hence, the "back" of animals or human beings, Ezekiel 10:12; the boss of a shield or buckler - the "gibbous," or exterior convex part - Job 15:26; and then, according to Gesenius, an entrenchment, a fortress, a strong-hold. According to this interpretation, the passage here means, that the arguments behind which they entrenched themselves were like clay. They could not resist an attack made upon them, but would be easily thrown down, like mud walls. Grotius renders it, "Your towers (of defense) are tumult of clay." Rosenmuller remarks on the verse that the ancients were accustomed to inscribe sentences of valuable historical facts on pillars. If these were engraved on stone, they would be permanent; if on pillars covered with clay, they would soon be obliterated. On a pillar or column at Aleandria, the architect cut his own name at the base deep in the stone. On the plaster or stucco with which the column was covered, he inscribed the name of the person to whose honor it was reared. The consequence was, that that name became soon obliterated; his own then appeared, and was permanent. But the meaning here is rather, that the apothegms and maxims behind which they entrenched themselves were like mud walls, and could not withstand an attack.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Job 13:12:
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