Job 16:15

I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust.

I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin,.... Which he very probably put on when he rent his mantle, or sat in ashes, Job 1:20; which actions were usually performed together in times of distress and sorrow, see Genesis 37:34; and this was no doubt a voluntary action of his, like that of the king of Nineveh and his subjects Jonah 3:5; though some have thought that Job was so reduced that he had no clothes to wear, and was obliged to put on such coarse raiment, which is not probable; and it seems that he put this next to his skin, which must be very uneasy to one that had been used to such soft apparel, as it seems did also the kings of Israel in time of mourning,

1 Kings 21:27; it is not only observed by several Jewish writers, that the word here used in the Arabic language signifies "skin", as we render it, as Aben Ezra, Ben Melech, and others; but the skin of the wound, the thin skin which is drawn over a wound when it is healing, as Ben Gersom and Bar Tzemach; which, being tender, must be very unfit to bear such rough raiment upon it; nay, Schultens observes, that the Arabic word more properly signifies "torn skin" {h}, as Job's skin must be full of ruptures through the boils and ulcers upon him; he himself says, that his "skin was broken, and become loathsome", Job 7:5; now to have sackcloth put on such a skin must be intolerable; the phrase of sewing it to it is very unusual; though it may signify no more than an application of it, a putting it on him, and clothing himself with it; yet it seems to denote its sticking close to him, as if it was sewed to his skin, through the purulent matter of his boils clotting and cleaving to it; for he says in Job 7:5 that his "flesh was clothed with worms and clods of dust"; and those running into one another were like one scab, and, as it were, a garment to him; his "disease bound him about as the collar of his coat", and his "skin was as black" as sackcloth itself, Job 30:18; the design of the expression is both to show the wretched and miserable condition he was in, and his great humiliation on account of his present circumstances; and that he was not that proud and haughty man, or behaved under his affliction in the insolent manner Eliphaz had suggested, Job 15:12; but was one that humbled himself under the mighty hand of God, which is further confirmed by the next clause:

and defiled my horn, in the dust: as he did when he sat in ashes, as he afterwards repented in dust and ashes; and it was usual in the times of mourning to put dust or ashes upon the head; which may be meant by his horn, the horn of a beast, to which the allusion is, being in the head; and this may be put for the whole body, which sometimes, on such occasions, was rolled in dust and ashes, see Joshua 7:6; and the horn being an emblem of grandeur, power, and authority, may denote that Job now laid aside all the ensigns of it, and was content to have his honour laid in the dust, and lie low before God, and not lift up his horn unto him, and much less stretch out his hand against him; the Targum is,

"I sprinkled my glory in or with dust.''

{h} ydlg yle "super laceram cutem", Schultens; "cutis eaque laesa et ulceribus percussa", Stockius, p. 188. dlg "cutim percusiit", Hottinger. Smegma Orient. p. 135. Stockius, ib.