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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Job 18

 

 

Verse 1

Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 2

How long will it be ere ye make an end of words? mark, and afterwards we will speak.

Ye - the other two friends of Job, whom Bildad charges with having spoken mere "words" - i:e., empty speeches: or else, 'thou, Job, and those who think with thee;' opposed to "mark" - i:e., come to reason, consider the question intelligently; and then let us speak.

Make an end of - [ qintseey (Hebrew #7078)]. Maurer translates 'Set nooses for words' - i:e., hunt after words. I prefer the English version.


Verse 3

Wherefore are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your sight?

Beasts - alluding to what Job said (Job 12:7; so Isaiah 1:3; Psalms 49:12; Psalms 49:20).

Vile - rather, from a Hebrew root, to stop up [ niTmiynuw (Hebrew #2933), not from Taamee' (Hebrew #2930), but from Taamaah (Hebrew #2933), or 'aaTam (Hebrew #331)]. 'Stubborn,' answering to the stupidity implied in the parallel first clause (Umbreit). Why should we give occasion by your empty speeches for our being mutually reputed in the sight of Job, and one another, unintelligent? (Job 17:4; Job 17:10.)


Verse 4

He teareth himself in his anger: shall the earth be forsaken for thee? and shall the rock be removed out of his place?

Rather, turning to Job, 'Thou that tearest thyself in anger' (Job 5:2, "Wrath killeth the foolish man;" also, Job 16:9, "He teareth me in his anger"). Bildad implies, It is not so much God that teareth thee, as thou sayest: it is thou that tearest thyself, etc.

Be forsaken - become desolate. He alludes here to Job's words as to the "rock," etc., crumbling away (Job 14:18-19); but in a different application. He says bitterly "for thee." Wert thou not punished as thou art, and as thou art unwilling to bear, the eternal order of the universe (immovable as the rock) would be disturbed, and the earth become desolate through unavenged wickedness. Must the eternal and divine law, by which the universe is governed, be set aside, in order that you may escape the punishment of your wickedness? (Umbreit.) Bildad takes it for granted Job is a great sinner (Job 8:3-6; Isaiah 24:5-6). 'Shall that which stands fast as a rock be removed for your special accommodation?'


Verse 5

Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine.

That (Job 18:4) cannot be.

Yea - however much the wicked kick against it. The decree of God is unalterable: the light (prosperity) of the wicked shall at length be put out.

His fire - alluding to Arabian hospitality, which prided itself on welcoming the stranger to the fire in the tent, and even lit fires to direct him to it. The ungodly shall be deprived of the means to show hospitality. His dwelling shall be dark and desolate!


Verse 6

The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him.

Candle - the lamp which in the East is usually fastened to the ceiling. Oil abounds in those regions, and the lamp was kept burning all night, as now in Egypt, where the poorest would rather dispense with food than the night-lamp (Psalms 18:28). To put out the lamp was an image of utter desolation. With him - rather, above him; over his head.


Verse 7

The steps of his strength shall be straitened, and his own counsel shall cast him down.

Steps of ... strength - Hebrew for his strong steps. A firm step marks health. To be straitened in steps is to be no longer able to move about at will (Proverbs 4:12; contrast Psalms 18:36, "Thou hast enlarged my steps under me").

His own counsel - or plans shall be the means of his fall (Job 5:13, "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness, and the counsel of the forward is carried headlong").


Verse 8

For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon a snare.

He walketh upon - rather, 'he lets himself go [ yithalaak (Hebrew #1980)] into the net' (Umbreit). If the English version be retained, then understand "snare" to be the pitfall, covered over with branches and earth, which, when walked upon, gave way (Psalms 9:15; Psalms 35:8). In following "his own counsel" (Job 18:7), which he fancies will secure him against calamity, he walks unwittingly into it.


Verse 9

The gin shall take him by the heel, and the robber shall prevail against him.

Robber , [ tsamiym (Hebrew #6782); cf. Job 18:5] - rather, answering to 'gin' in the parallel clause, 'the noose shall hold him fast' (Umbreit).


Verse 10

The snare is laid for him in the ground, and a trap for him in the way.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 11

Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive him to his feet.

Terrors - often mentioned in this book (Job 18:14; Job 24:17, etc.) The terrors excited through an evil conscience are here personified. 'Magor-missabib,' fear round about (Jeremiah 20:3 ).

Drive ... to his feet - rather, shall pursue (literally, scatter, Habakkuk 3:14) him close at his heels (literally, immediately after his feet; Habakkuk 3:5, "Burning coals went forth at his feet;" Isaiah 41:2; Genesis 30:30, margin; 1 Samuel 25:42 Hebrew: or wherever he sets his feet, wheresoever he turns). The image is that of a pursing conqueror who scatters the enemy (Umbreit).


Verse 12

His strength shall be hungerbitten, and destruction shall be ready at his side.

The Hebrew is brief and bold, 'his strength is hungry.' Besides dangers at every step, the sinner's own strength is wasted by disease.

Destruction - i:e., a great calamity (Proverbs 1:27).

Ready at his side - close at hand to destroy him.


Verse 13

It shall devour the strength of his skin: even the firstborn of death shall devour his strength. Umbreit has 'he' for "it" - i:e., in the rage of hunger he shall devour his own body:' or, his own children (Lamentations 4:10). Rather, 'destruction,' from the last verse, or else 'the first-born of death,' is nominative to "devour."

Strength , [ badeey (Hebrew #905)] - rather, 'members' (literally, the branches of a tree).

Of his skin - i:e., of his body purposely used with allusion to Job's disease of the skin elephantiasis (Job 19:26). "Devour" is twice used, to mark that the sinner is not slain at one moment, but is gradually worn out by disease.

The first-born of death - a personification full of poetical horror. The first-born son held the chief place (Genesis 49:3); so here the chiefest (most deadly) disease that death has ever engendered (Isaiah 14:30, "first-born of the poor" - the poorest). The Arabs call fever 'daughter of death.'


Verse 14

His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors.

Confidence - all that the father trusted in for domestic happiness-children, fortune, etc.; referring to Job's losses. He and his hopes together are cast out from his home (Job 8:14-15. "Whose hope shall be cut off and whose trust shall be a spider's web; be shall lean upon his house but it shall not stand").

Rooted out - suddenly torn away.

It shall bring - i:e., he shall be brought: or, as Umbreit, better, has, 'Thou (God) shall bring him slowly.' The Hebrew expresses, 'to stride slowly and solemnly.' The godless has a fearful death long before his eyes, and is gradually at last taken away by it: alluding to Job's case, The King of Terrors, not like the pagan Pluto, the fabled ruler of the dead, but Death, with all its terrors to the ungodly, personified. In the English version "it" means his doom shall bring him with slow and lingering pace' [ tsaa`ad (Hebrew #6805)]. I prefer, with Maurer, to translate, 'He shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, out of his confidence' - i:e., from his tabernacle, in which he always placed his confidence [ mibTachow (Hebrew #4009)].


Verse 15

It shall dwell in his tabernacle, because it is none of his: brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation.

It - terror shall haunt, etc.; and not, as Umbreit, another, which the last clause disproves: for the fire having consumed his tabernacle, none other can dwell in it except the terror which haunts deserted dwellings. None of his - it is his no longer, but desolate and untenanted.

Brimstone - perhaps comparing the calamity of Job by the "fire of God" (Job 1:16), to the destruction of guilty Sodom by fire and brimstone (Genesis 19:24); but the language is too vague to make the allusion certain (cf. Psalms 11:6, "Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire, and brimstone").


Verse 16

His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off.

Roots - himself.

Branch - his children (Job 8:12; Job 15:30; Malachi 4:1, "The day that cometh shall burn them up, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.").


Verse 17

His remembrance shall perish from the earth, and he shall have no name in the street.

Street. Men shall not speak of him in meeting in the highways. Rather, in the field, or meadow [ chuwtsowt (Hebrew #2351), Job 5:10 as here], the shepherds shall no more mention his name. A picture from nomadic life (Umbreit).


Verse 18

He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world.

Light ... darkness - existence-nonexistence.


Verse 19

He shall neither have son nor nephew among his people, nor any remaining in his dwellings.

Nephew - (so Isaiah 14:22). But it is translated 'grandson' (Genesis 21:23): translate 'kinsman.'


Verse 20

They that come after him shall be astonied at his day, as they that went before were affrighted.

After... before - rather, 'those in the West-those in the East' - i:e., all people; literally, those behind-these before; because Orientals, in geography, turn with their face to the East (not to the North, as we do), and back to the West; so that before-East: behind-West (so Zechariah 14:8, "the former (i:e., Eastern) sea-the hinder (Western) sea"). However, the English, version is good sense: "they that went before" are the sinner's contemporaries, contrasted with "those that come after him."

Day - of ruin (Obadiah 1:12; Psalms 37:13; Psalms 137:7 ).

Affrighted - seized with terror (Job 21:6; Isaiah 13:8).


Verse 21

Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, and this is the place of him that knoweth not God.

(Job , margin, "The dwelling-place of the wicked shall come to nought" - Hebrew, 'shall not be').

Remarks:

(1) The eternal and unchangeable laws of God's justice cannot be set aside, in order to give the sinner impunity in his wickedness. In vain shall the lost tear themselves in anger (Job 18:4) and impotent rage; God's righteousness stands immovable, as the Rock of ages. Sin will assuredly be men's ruin unless they repent. However brightly the light of the ungodly may shine now, the gloomy shades of death and hell are fast gathering round them (Job 18:5-6).

(2) The sinner is his own executioner; he is caught in his own net; the very scheme whereby he had promised himself security are the pitfalls wherein he causes himself to be entrapped (Job 18:8-10). Satan, the tempter, uses the sinner's own devices as the snares wherein to entangle him; and when once Satan has made his victim sinful as himself, he will also make him wretched as himself. (3) Alarms of conscience make the sinner's deathbed a scene of horrors (Job 18:11). Slowly, but surely, he is brought face to face before the King of Terrors, and his past confidences now prove of no avail. He and they perish together; and whereas the memory of the just is blessed, the name and remembrance of the wicked shall rot (Job 18:17; Proverbs 10:7). Sin brings blight upon the sinner's whole family and connection, as well as upon himself; so much so that even the worldly, when they see God's just judgement shall be constrained to acknowledge, "Verily, there is a reward for the righteous; verily, He is a God that judgeth in the earth" (Psalms 58:11).

(4) The truths stated by Bildad are weighty and important, but their application to Job was not justified by candour or charity. When we engage in disputation, we should beware of being betrayed by the heat of argument into unjust denunciations of others, as though they were the enemies of God and especially doomed to His wrath, because they do not agree with our particular opinions. We should rather try, while not sacrificing truth to charity, to hope the best of them, and gently lead them to what seems to us the better way.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 18:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-18.html. 1871-8.

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