Job 21:1-34. JOB'S ANSWER.
2. consolations--If you will listen calmly to me, this will be regarded as "consolations"; alluding to Eliphaz' boasted "consolations" (Job 15:11), which Job felt more as aggravations ("mockings," Job 21:3) than consolations (Job 16:2).
3. literally, "Begin your mockings" (Job 17:2).
4. Job's difficulty was not as to man, but as to God, why He so
afflicted him, as if he were the guilty hypocrite which the friends
alleged him to be. Vulgate translates it, "my disputation."
if it were--rather, "since this is the case."
6. remember--Think on it. Can you wonder that I broke out into complaints, when the struggle was not with men, but with the Almighty? Reconcile, if you can, the ceaseless woes of the innocent with the divine justice! Is it not enough to make one tremble? [UMBREIT].
7. The answer is
old--in opposition to the friends who asserted that sinners are "cut off" early (Job 8:12, 14).
8. In opposition to Job 18:19; 5:4.
9. Literally, "peace from fear"; with poetic force. Their house is peace itself, far removed from fear. Opposed to the friends' assertion, as to the bad (Job 15:21-24; 20:26-28), and conversely, the good (Job 5:23, 24).
10. Rather, "their cattle conceive." The first clause of the verse describes an easy conception, the second, a happy birth [UMBREIT].
11. send forth--namely, out of doors, to their happy sports under
the skies, like a joyful flock sent to the pastures.
little ones--like lambkins.
children--somewhat older than the former.
dance--not formal dances; but skip, like lambs, in joyous and healthful play.
12. take--rather, "lift up the voice" (sing) to the note of
organ--not the modern "organ," but the "pipe" (Ge 4:21). The first clause refers to stringed, the latter, to wind instruments; thus, with "the voice" all kinds of music are enumerated.
13. wealth--Old English Version for "prosperity."
in a moment--not by a lingering disease. Great blessings! Lengthened life with prosperity, and a sudden painless death (Ps 73:4).
14. Therefore--rather, "And yet they are such as say," &c.,
that is, say, not in so many words, but virtually, by their conduct
(so the Gergesenes,
How differently the godly
ways--The course of action, which God points out; as in Ps 50:23, Margin.
what profit-- (Job 35:3; Mal 3:14; Ps 73:13). Sinners ask, not what is right, but what is for the profit of self. They forget, "If religion cost self something, the want of it will cost self infinitely more."
16. not in their hand--but in the hand of God. This is Job's
difficulty, that God who has sinners prosperity (good) in His hand
should allow them to have it.
is--rather, "may the counsel of the wicked be far from me!" [UMBREIT]. This naturally follows the sentiment of the first clause: Let me not hereby be thought to regard with aught but horror the ways of the wicked, however prosperous.
17. Job in this whole passage down to
quotes the assertion of the friends, as to the short continuance of the
sinner's prosperity, not his own sentiments. In
he proceeds to refute them. "How oft is the candle" (lamp), &c.,
quoting Bildad's sentiment
(Job 18:5, 6),
in order to question its truth (compare
how oft--"God distributeth," &c. (alluding to Job 20:23, 29).
sorrows--UMBREIT translates "snares," literally, "cords," which lightning in its twining motion resembles (Ps 11:6).
19. Equally questionable is the friends' assertion that if the godless himself is not punished, the children are (Job 18:19; 20:10); and that God rewardeth him here for his iniquity, and that he shall know it to his cost. So "know" (Ho 9:7).
20. Another questionable assertion of the friends, that the sinner
sees his own and his children's destruction in his lifetime.
drink-- (Ps 11:6; Isa 51:17; La 4:21).
21. The argument of the friends, in proof of
What pleasure can he have from his house (children) when he is
when the number, &c.--Or, rather, "What hath he to do with his children?" &c. (so the Hebrew in Ec 3:1; 8:6). It is therefore necessary that "his eyes should see his and their destruction" (see Job 14:21).
cut off--rather, when the number of his allotted months is fulfilled (Job 14:5). From an Arabic word, "arrow," which was used to draw lots with. Hence "arrow"--inevitable destiny [UMBREIT].
22. Reply of Job, "In all these assertions you try to teach God how
He ought to deal with men, rather than prove that He does in fact so deal with them. Experience is against you. God gives prosperity and
adversity as it pleases Him, not as man's wisdom would have it, on
principles inscrutable to us"
those . . . high--the high ones, not only angels, but men (Isa 2:12-17).
23. Literally, "in the bone of his perfection," that is, the full strength of unimpaired prosperity [UMBREIT].
24. breasts--rather, "skins," or "vessels" for fluids [LEE]. But [UMBREIT] "stations or
resting-places of his herds near water"; in opposition to Zophar
the first clause refers to his abundant substance, the second to his
moistened--comparing man's body to a well-watered field (Pr 3:8; Isa 58:11).
26. (Ec 9:2).
27. Their wrongful thoughts against Job are stated by him in Job 21:28. They do not honestly name Job, but insinuate his guilt.
28. ye say--referring to Zophar
the house--referring to the fall of the house of Job's oldest son (Job 1:19) and the destruction of his family.
prince--The parallel "wicked" in the second clause requires this to be taken in a bad sense, tyrant, oppressor (Isa 13:2), the same Hebrew, "nobles"--oppressors.
dwelling-places--rather, "pavilions," a tent containing many dwellings, such as a great emir, like Job, with many dependents, would have.
29. Job, seeing that the friends will not admit him as an impartial
judge, as they consider his calamities prove his guilt, begs them to
ask the opinion of travellers
who have the experience drawn from observation, and who are no way
connected with him. Job opposes this to Bildad
tokens--rather, "intimations" (for example, inscriptions, proverbs, signifying the results of their observation), testimony. Literally, "signs" or proofs in confirmation of the word spoken (Isa 7:11).
30. Their testimony (referring perhaps to those who had visited
the region where Abraham who enjoyed a revelation then lived) is that
"the wicked is (now) spared (reserved) against the day of destruction
(hereafter)." The Hebrew does not so well agree with [UMBREIT] "in the day of destruction." Job does not deny
sinners' future punishment, but their punishment in this
life. They have their "good things" now. Hereafter, their
lot, and that of the godly, shall be reversed
Job, by the Spirit, often utters truths which solve the difficulty
under which he labored. His afflictions mostly clouded his faith, else
he would have seen the solution furnished by his own words. This
answers the objection, that if he knew of the resurrection in
and future retribution
why did he not draw his reasonings elsewhere from them, which he did
not? God's righteous government, however, needs to be vindicated as to
this life also, and therefore the Holy Ghost has caused the
argument mainly to turn on it at the same time giving glimpses of a
future fuller vindication of God's ways.
brought forth--not "carried away safe" or "escape" (referring to this life), as UMBREIT has it.
wrath--literally, "wraths," that is, multiplied and fierce wrath.
31. That is, who dares to charge him openly with his bad ways? namely, in this present life. He shall, I grant (Job 21:30), be "repaid" hereafter.
32. Yet--rather, "and."
brought--with solemn pomp (Ps 45:15).
grave--literally, "graves"; that is, the place where the graves are.
remain in--rather, watch on the tomb, or sepulchral mound. Even after death he seems still to live and watch (that is, have his "remembrance" preserved) by means of the monument over the grave. In opposition to Bildad (Job 18:17).
33. As the classic saying has it, "The earth is light upon him." His
repose shall be "sweet."
draw--follow. He shall share the common lot of mortals; no worse off than they (Heb 9:27). UMBREIT not so well (for it is not true of "every man"). "Most men follow in his bad steps, as countless such preceded him."
34. falsehood--literally, "transgression." Your boasted "consolations" (Job 15:11) are contradicted by facts ("vain"); they therefore only betray your evil intent ("wickedness") against me.