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Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Job Chapter 18

Job 18:1

job 18:1

1 Then began Bildad the Shuhite, and said:

2 How long will ye hunt for words?!

Attend, and afterwards we will speak.

3 Wherefore are we accounted as beasts,

And narrow-minded in your eyes?

Job's speeches are long, and certainly are a trial of patience to the three, and the heaviest trial to Bildad, whose turn now comes on, because he is at pains throughout to be brief. Hence the reproach of endless babbling with which he begins here, as at Job 8:2, when he at last has an opportunity of speaking; in connection with which it must, however, not be forgotten that Job also, Job 16:3, satirically calls upon them to cease. He is indeed more entitled than his opponents to the entreaty not to weary him with long speeches. The question, Job 18:2, if קנצי six derived from קץ, furnishes no sense, unless perhaps it is, with Ralbag, explained: how long do you make close upon close in order, when you seem to have come to an end, to begin continually anew? For to give the thought: how long do you make no end of speaking, it must have been לא עד־אנה, as the lxx (μέχρι τίνος ου ̓ παύσῃ:) involuntarily inserts the negative. And what should the plur. mean by this rendering? The form קנצי = קצּי would not cause doubt; for though קצּים does not occur elsewhere in the Old Testament, it is nevertheless sufficient that it is good Aramaic (קצּין), and that another Hebr. plural, as קצי, קצוי, קצוות, would have been hardly in accordance with the usage of the language. But the plural would not be suitable here generally, the over-delicate explanation of Ralbag perhaps excepted. Since the book of Job abounds in Arabisms, and in Arabic qanaṣa (as synon. of ṣâd) signifies venari, venando capere, and qanṣun (maqnaṣun) cassis, rete venatorium; since, further, שׂים קנצים (comp. שׂים ארב, Jer 9:7) is an incontrovertible reading, and all the difficulties in connection with the reference to קץ lying in the עד־אנה for עד־אנה לא and in the plur. vanish, we translate with Castell., Schultens, J. D. Mich., and most modern expositors: how long (here not different from Job 8:2; Job 19:2) will ye lay snares (construction, as also by the other rendering, like Job 24:5; Job 36:16, according to Ges. 116, 1) for words; which, however, is not equivalent to hunt for words in order to contradict, but in order to talk on continually.

(Note: In post-bibl. Hebrew, קנצים has become common in the signification, proofs, arguments, as e.g., a Karaitic poet says, ויחוד שׁמך בקנצים הקימותי, the oneness of thy name have I upheld with proofs; vid., Pinsker, Likute Kadmoniot. Zur Gesch. des Karaismus und der karischen Literatur, 1860, S. קסו.)

Job is the person addressed, for Bildad agrees with the two others. It is remarkable, however, that he addresses Job with "you." Some say that he thinks of Job as one of a number; Ewald observes that the controversy becomes more wide and general; and Schlottm. conjectures that Bildad fixes his eye on individuals of his hearers, on whose countenances he believed he saw a certain inclination to side with Job. This conjecture we will leave to itself; but the remark which Schlottm. also makes, that Bildad regards Job as a type of a whole class, is correct, only one must also add, this address in the plur. is a reply to Job's sarcasm by a similar one. As Job has told the friends that they act as if they were mankind in general, and all wisdom were concentrated in them, so Bildad has taken it amiss that Job connects himself with the whole of the truly upright, righteous, and pure; and he addresses him in the plural, because he, the unit, has puffed himself up as such a collective whole. This wrangler - he means - with such a train behind him, cannot accomplish anything: Oh that you would understand (הבין, as e.g., Job 42:3, not causative, as Job 6:24), i.e., come to your senses, and afterward we will speak, i.e., it is only then possible to walk in the way of understanding. That is not now possible, when he, as one who plays the part of their many, treats them, the three who are agreed in opposition to him, as totally void of understanding, and each one of them unwise, in expressions like Job 17:4, Job 17:10. Looking to Psa 49:13, 21, one might be tempted to regard נטמינוּ (on the vowel instead of , vid., Ges. 75, rem. 7) as an interchange of consonants from נדמינו: be silent, make an end, ye profligati; but the supposition of this interchange of consonants would be arbitrary. On the other hand, there is no suitable thought in "why are we accounted unclean?" (Vulg. sorduimus), from טמה = טמא, Lev 11:43 (Ges. 75, vi.); the complaint would have no right connection, except it were a very slight one, with Job 17:9. On the contrary, if we suppose a verb טמה in the signification opplere, obturare, which is peculiar to this consonant-combination in the whole range of the Semitic languages (comp. א־טם, Arab. 'ṭm, obstruere, Aram. טמּם, טמטם, Arab. ṭmm, e.g., Talm.: transgression stoppeth up, מטמטמת, man's heart), and after which this טמה has been explained by the Jewish expositors (Raschi: נחשׁבנו טמומים), and is interpreted by סתם (Parchon: נסתמה דעתנו), we gain a sense which corresponds both with previous reproaches of Job and the parallelism, and we decide in its favour with the majority of modern expositors. With the interrogative Wherefore, Bildad appeals to Job's conscience. These invectives proceed from an impassioned self-delusion towards the truth, which he wards off from himself, but cannot however alter.

Job 18:4

job 18:4

4 Thou art he who teareth himself in his anger:

Shall the earth become desolate for thy sake,

And a rock remove from its place?

5 Notwithstanding, the light of the wicked shall be put out,

And the glow of his fire shineth not;

6 The light becometh dark in his tent,

And his lamp above him is extinguished;

7 His vigorous steps are straitened,

And his own counsel casteth him down.

The meaning of the strophe is this: Dost thou imagine that, by thy vehement conduct, by which thou art become enraged against thyself, thou canst effect any change in the established divine order of the world? It is a divine law, that sufferings are the punishment of sin; thou canst no more alter this, than that at thy command, or for thy sake, the earth, which is appointed to be the habitation of man (Isa 45:18), will become desolate (tê‛âzab with the tone drawn back, according to Ges. 29, 3, b, Arab. with similar signification in intrans. Kal t‛azibu), or a rock remove from its place (on יעתּק, vid., Job 14:18). Bildad here lays to Job's charge what Job, in Job 16:9, has said of God's anger, that it tears him: he himself tears himself in his rage at the inevitable lot under which he ought penitently to bow. The address, Job 18:4, as apud Arabes ubique fere (Schult.), is put objectively (not: Oh thou, who); comp. what is said on כּלּם, Job 17:10, which is influenced by the same syntactic custom. The lxx transl. Job 18:4: Why! will Hades be tenantless if thou diest (ἐὰν σὺ ἀποθάνῃς)? after which Rosenm. explains: tu caus h. e. te cadente. But that ought to be הבמוּתך. The peopling of the earth is only an example of the arrangements of divine omnipotence and wisdom, the continuance of which is exalted over the human power of volition, and does not in the least yield to human self-will, as (Job 18:4) the rock is an example, and at the same time an emblem, of what God has fixed and rendered immoveable. That of which he here treats as fixed by God is the law of retribution. However much Job may rage, this law is and remains the unavoidable power that rules over the evil-doer.

Job 18:5

גּם is here equivalent to nevertheless, or prop. even, ὅμως, as e.g., Psa 129:2 (Ew. 354, a). The light of the evil-doer goes out, and the comfortable brightness and warmth which the blaze (שׁביב, only here as a Hebr. word; according to Raschi and others, tincelle, a spark; but according to lxx, Theod., Syr., Jer., a flame; Targ. the brightness of light) of his fire in his dwelling throws out, comes to an end. In one word, as the praet. חשׁך implies, the light in his tent is changed into darkness; and his lamp above him, i.e., the lamp hanging from the covering of his tent (Job 29:3, comp. Job 21:17), goes out. When misfortune breaks in upon him, the Arab says: ed-dahru attfaa es-sirâgi, fate has put out my lamp; this figure of the decline of prosperity receives here a fourfold application. The figure of straitening one's steps is just as Arabic as it is biblical; צעדי אונו, the steps of his strength (און synon. of כּח, Job 40:16) become narrow (comp. Pro 4:12, Arab. takâssarat), by the wide space which he could pass over with a self-confident feeling of power becoming more and more contracted; and the purpose formed selfishly and without any recognition of God, the success of which he considered infallible, becomes his overthrow.

Job 18:8

job 18:8

8 For he is driven into the net by his own feet,

And he walketh over a snare.

9 The trap holdeth his heel fast,

The noose bindeth him.

10 His snare lieth hidden in the earth,

His nets upon the path;

11 Terrors affright him on every side,

And scare him at every step.

The Pual שׁלּח signifies not merely to be betrayed into, but driven into, like the Piel, Job 30:12, to drive away, and as it is to be translated in the similar passage in the song of Deborah, Jdg 5:15 : "And as Issachar, Barak was driven (i.e., with desire for fighting) behind him down into the valley (the place of meeting under Mount Tabor);" בּרגליו, which there signifies, according to Jdg 4:10; Jdg 8:5, "upon his feet = close behind him," is here intended of the intermediate cause: by his own feet he is hurried into the net, i.e., against his will, and yet with his own feet he runs into destruction. The same thing is said in Job 18:8; the way on which he complacently wanders up and down (which the Hithp. signifies here) is שׂבכה, lattice-work, here a snare (Arab. schabacah, a net, from שׂבך, schabaca, to intertwine, weave), and consequently will suddenly break in and bring him to ruin. This fact of delivering himself over to destruction is established in apocopated futt. (Job 18:9) used as praes., and without the voluntative signification in accordance with the poetic licence: a trap catches a heel (poetic brevity for: the trap catches his heel), a noose seizes upon him, עליו (but with the accompanying notion of overpowering him, which the translation "bind" is intended to express). Such is the meaning of צמּים here, which is not plur., but sing., from צמם (Arab. ḍmm), to tie, and it unites in itself the meanings of snare-layer (Job 5:5) and of snare; the form (as אבּיר, אדּיר) corresponds more to the former, but does not, however, exclude the latter, as תּנּין and לפּיד (λαμπάς) show.

The continuation in Job 18:10 of the figure of the fowler affirms that that issue of his life (Job 18:9) has been preparing long beforehand; the prosperity of the evil-doer from the beginning tends towards ruin. Instead of חבלו we have the pointing חבלו, as it would be in Arab. in a similar sense hhabluhu (from hhabl, a cord, a net). The nearer destruction is now to him, the stronger is the hold which his foreboding has over him, since, as Job 18:11 adds, terrible thoughts (בּלּהות) and terrible apparitions fill him with dismay, and haunt him, following upon his feet. לרגליו, close behind him, as Gen 30:30; Sa1 25:42; Isa 41:2; Hab 3:5. The best authorized pointing of the verb is והפיצהוּ, with Segol (Ges. 104, 2, c), Chateph-Segol, and Kibbutz. Except in Hab 3:14, where the prophet includes himself with his people, הפיץ, diffundere, dissipare (vid., Job 37:11; Job 40:11), never has a person as its obj. elsewhere. It would also probably not be used, but for the idea that the spectres of terror pursue him at every step, and are now here, now there, and his person is as it were multiplied.

Job 18:12

job 18:12

12 His calamity looketh hunger-bitten,

And misfortune is ready for his fall.

13 It devoureth the members of his skin;

The first-born of death devoureth his members.

14 That in which he trusted is torn away out of his tent,

And he must march on to the king of terrors.

15 Beings strange to him dwell in his tent;

Brimstone is strewn over his habitation.

The description of the actual and total destruction of the evil-doer now begins with יהי (as Job 24:14, after the manner of the voluntative forms already used in Job 24:9). Step by step it traces his course to the total destruction, which leaves no trace of him, but still bears evident marks of being the fulfilment of the curse pronounced upon him. In opposition to this explanation, Targ., Raschi, and others, explain אנו according to Gen 49:3 : the son of his manhood's strength becomes hungry, which sounds comical rather than tragic; another Targ. transl.: he becomes hungry in his mourning, which is indeed inadmissible, because the signif. planctus, luctus, belongs to the derivatives of אנה, אנן, but not to און. But even the translation recently adopted by Ew., Stick., and Schlottm., "his strength becomes hungry," is unsatisfactory; for it is in itself no misfortune to be hungry, and רעב does not in itself signify "exhausted with hunger." It is also an odd metaphor, that strength becomes hungry; we would then rather read with Reiske, רעב באנו, famelicus in media potentia sua. But as און signifies strength (Job 18:7), so און (root אן, to breathe and pant) signifies both wickedness and evil (the latter either as evil = calamity, or as anhelitus, sorrow, Arab. ain); and the thought that his (i.e., appointed to the evil-doer) calamity is hungry to swallow him up (Syr., Hirz., Hahn, and others), suits the parallelism perfectly: "and misfortune stands ready for his fall."

(Note: If רעב elsewhere corresponds to the Arabic rugb, to be voraciously hungry, the Arab. ra‛b, to be paralyzed with fright, might correspond to it in the present passage: "from all sides spectres alarm him (בעתהו from בעת = Arab. bgt, to fall suddenly upon any one; or better: = b‛ṯ, to hunt up, excitare, to cause to rise, to fill with alarm) and urge him forward, seizing on his heels; then his strength becomes a paralyzing fright (רעב), and destruction is ready to overwhelm him." The ro‛b (רעב, thus in Damascus) or ra‛b (רעב, thus in Hauran and among the Beduins) is a state of mind which only occurs among us in a lower degree, but among the Arabs it is worthy of note as a psychological fact. If the wahm (Arab. 'l-whm), or idea of some great and inevitable danger or misfortune, overpowers the Arab, all strength of mind and body suddenly forsakes him, so that he breaks down powerless and defenceless. Thus on July 8, 1860, in Damascus, in a few hours, about 6000 Christian men were slain, without any one raising a hand or uttering a cry for mercy. Both European and native doctors have assured me the ro‛b in Arabia kills, and I have witnessed instances myself. Since it often produces a stiffness of the limbs with chronic paralysis, all kinds of paralysis are called ro‛b, and the paralytics mar‛ûb. - Wetzst.)

איד signifies prop. a weight, burden, then a load of suffering, and gen. calamity (root אד, Arab. âda, e.g., Sur. 2, 256, la jaâduhu, it is not difficult for him, and adda, comp. on Psa 31:12); and לצלעו not: at his side (Ges., Ew., Schlottm., Hahn), but, according to Psa 35:15; Psa 38:18 : for his fall (lxx freely, but correctly: ἐξαίσιοϚ); for instead of "at the side" (Arab. ila ganbi), they no more say in Hebrew than in Germ. "at the ribs."

Job 18:13 figuratively describes how calamity takes possession of him. The members, which are called יצרים in Job 17:7, as parts of the form of the body, are here called בּדּים, as the parts into which the body branches out, or rather, since the word originally signifies a part, as that which is actually split off (vid., on Job 17:16, where it denotes "cross-bars"), or according to appearance that which rises up, and from this primary signification applied to the body and plants, the members (not merely as Farisol interprets: the veins) of which the body consists and into which it is distributed. עור (distinct from גּלד, Job 16:15, similar in meaning to Arab. baschar, but also to the Arab. gild, of which the former signifies rather the epidermis, the latter the skin in the widest sense) is the soluble surface of the naked animal body. בּכור מות devours this, and indeed, as the repetition implies, gradually, but surely and entirely. "The first-born of the poor," Isa 14:30, are those not merely who belong (בּני) to the race of the poor, but the poor in the highest sense and first rank. So here diseases are conceived of as children of death, as in the Arabic malignant fevers are called benât el-menı̂jeh, daughters of fate or death; that disease which Bildad has in his mind, as the one more terrible and dangerous than all others, he calls the "first-born of death," as that in which the whole destroying power of death is contained, as in the first-born the whole strength of his parent.

(Note: In Arabic the positive is expressed in the same metonymies with abu, e.g., abû 'l-chêr, the benevolent; on the other hand, e.g., ibn el̇hhâge is much stronger than abu 'l-hhâge: the person who is called ibn is conceived of as a child of these conditions; they belong to his inmost nature, and have not merely affected him slightly and passed off. The Hebrew בכור represents the superlative, because among Semites the power and dignity of the father is transmitted to the first-born. So far as I know, the Arab does not use this superlative; for what is terrible and revolting he uses "mother," e.g., umm el-fâritt, mother of death, a name for the plague (in one of the modern popular poets of Damascus), umm el-quashshâsh, mother of the sweeping death, a name for war (in the same); for that which awakens the emotions of joy and grief he frequently uses "daughter." In an Arabian song of victory the fatal arrows are called benât el-môt, and the heroes (slayers) in the battle benı̂ el-môt, which is similar to the figure used in the book of Job. Moreover, that disease which eats up the limbs could not be described by a more appropriate epithet than בכור מות. Its proper name is shunned in common life; and if it is necessary to mention those who are affected with it, they always say sâdât el-gudhamâ to avoid offending the company, or to escape the curse of the thing mentioned. - Wetzst.)

The Targ. understands the figure similarly, since it transl. מלאך מותא (angel of death); another Targ. has instead שׁרוּי מותא, the firstling of death, which is intended in the sense of the primogenita (= praematura) mors of Jerome. Least of all is it to be understood with Ewald as an intensive expression for בן־מות, Sa1 20:31, of the evil-doer as liable to death. While now disease in the most fearful form consumes the body of the evil-doer, מבטחו (with Dag.f. impl., as Job 8:14; Job 31:24, Olsh. 198, b) (a collective word, which signifies everything in which he trusted) is torn away out of his tent; thus also Rosenm., Ew., and Umbr. explain, while Hirz., Hlgst., Schlottm., and Hahn regard מבטחו as in apposition to אהלו, in favour of which Job 8:14 is only a seemingly suitable parallel. It means everything that made the ungodly man happy as head of a household, and gave him the brightest hopes of the future. This is torn away (evellitur) from his household, so that he, who is dying off, alone survives. Thus, therefore, Job 18:14 describes how he also himself dies at last. Several modern expositors, especially Stickel, after the example of Jerome (et calcet super eum quasi rex interitus), and of the Syr. (praecipitem eum reddent terrores regis), take בּלּהות as subj., which is syntactically possible (vid., Job 27:20; Job 30:15): and destruction causes him to march towards itself (Ges.: fugant eum) like a military leader; but since הצעיד signifies to cause to approach, and since no אליו (to itself) stands with it, למלך is to be considered as denoting the goal, especially as ל never directly signifies instar. In the passage advanced in its favour it denotes that which anything becomes, that which one makes a thing by the mode of treatment (Job 39:16), or whither anything extends (e.g., in Schultens on Job 13:12 : they had claws li-machlbi, i.e., "approaching to the claws" of wild beasts).

(Note: Comp a note infra on Job 21:4. - Tr.)

One falls into these strange interpretations when one departs from the accentuation, which unites מלך בלהות quite correctly by Munach.

Death itself is called "the king of terrors," in distinction from the terrible disease which is called its first-born. Death is also personified elsewhere, as Isa 28:15, and esp. Psa 49:15, where it appears as a רעה, ruler in Hades, as in the Indian mythology the name of the infernal king Jamas signifies the tyrant or the tamer. The biblical representation does not recognise a king of Hades, as Jamas and Pluto: the judicial power of death is allotted to angels, of whom one, the angel of the abyss, is called Abaddon (אבדון), Rev 9:11; and the chief possessor of this judicial power, ὁ τὸδράτος ἔχων τοῦ θανάτον, is, according to Heb 2:14, the angel-prince, who, according to the prologue of our book, has also brought a fatal disease upon Job, without, however, in this instance being able to go further than to bring him to the brink of the abyss. It would therefore not be contrary to the spirit of the book if we were to understand Satan by the king of terrors, who, among other appellations in Jewish theology, is called שׂר על־התהו, because he has his existence in the Thohu, and seeks to hurl back every living being into the Thohu. But since the prologue casts a veil over that which remains unknown in this world in the midst of tragic woes, and since a reference to Satan is found nowhere else in the book - on the contrary, Job himself and the friends trace back directly to God that mysterious affliction which forms the dramatic knot - we understand (which is perfectly sufficient) by the king of terrors death itself, and with Hirz., Ew., and most expositors, transl.: "and it causes him to march onward to the king of terrors." The "it" is a secret power, as also elsewhere the fem. is used as neut. to denote the "dark power" (Ewald, 294, b) of natural and supernatural events, although sometimes, e.g., Job 4:16; Isa 14:9, the masc. is also so applied. After the evil-doer is tormented for a while with temporary בלהות, and made tender, and reduced to ripeness for death by the first-born of death, he falls into the possession of the king of בלהות himself; slowly and solemnly, but surely and inevitably (as תצעיד implies, with which is combined the idea of the march of a criminal to the place of execution), he is led to this king by an unseen arm.

In Job 18:15 the description advances another step deeper into the calamity of the evil-doer's habitation, which is now become completely desolate. Since Job 18:15 says that brimstone (from heaven, Gen 19:24; Psa 11:6) is strewn over the evil-doer's habitation, i.e., in order to mark it as a place that, having been visited with the fulfilment of the curse, shall not henceforth be rebuilt and inhabited (vid., Deu 29:22., and supra, on Job 15:28), Job 18:15 cannot be intended to affirm that a company of men strange to him take up their abode in his tent. But we shall not, however, on that account take בלהות as the subj. of תּשׁכּון. The only natural translation is: what does not belong to him dwells in his tent (Ew. 294, b); מבּלי, elsewhere praepos. (Job 4:11, Job 4:20; Job 24:7.), is here an adverb of negation, as which it is often used as an intensive of אין, e.g., Exo 14:11. It is unnecessary to take the מ as partitive (Hirz.), although it can have a special signification, as Deu 28:55 (because not), by being separated from בלי. The neutral fem. תשׁכון refers to such inhabitants as are described in Isa 13:20., Job 27:10., Job 34:11., Zep 2:9, and in other descriptions of desolation. Creatures and things which are strange to the deceased rich man, as jackals and nettles, inhabit his domain, which is appointed to eternal unfruitfulness; neither children nor possessions survive him to keep up his name. What does dwell in his tent serves only to keep up the recollection of the curse which has overtaken him.

(Note: The desolation of his house is the most terrible calamity for the Semite, i.e., when all belonging to his family die or are reduced to poverty, their habitation is desolated, and their ruins are become the byword of future generations. For the Beduin especially, although his hair tent leaves no mark, the thought of the desolation of his house, the extinction of his hospitable hearth, is terrible. - Wetzst.)

Job 18:16

job 18:16

16 His roots wither beneath,

And above his branch is lopped off.

17 His remembrance is vanished from the land,

And he hath no name far and wide on the plain;

18 They drive him from light into darkness,

And chase him out of the world.

19 He hath neither offspring nor descendant among his people,

Nor is there an escaped one in his dwellings.

The evil-doer is represented under the figure of a plant, Job 18:16, as we have had similar figures already, Job 8:16., Job 15:30, Job 15:32.;

(Note: To such biblical figures taken from plants, according to which root and branch are become familiar in the sense of ancestors and descendants (comp. Sir. 23:25, 40:15; Wisd. 4:3-5; Rom 11:16), the arbor consanguineitatis, which is not Roman, but is become common in the Christian refinement of the Roman right, may be traced back; the first trace of this is found in Isidorus Hispalensis (as also the Cabbalistic tree אילן, which represents the Sephir-genealogy, has its origin in Spain).)

his complete extirpation is like the dying off of the root and of the branch, as Amo 2:9; Isa 5:24, and "let him not have a root below and a branch above" in the inscription on the sarcophagus of Eschmunazar. Here we again meet with ימּל, the proper meaning of which is so disputed; it is translated by the Targ. (as by us) as Niph. יתמולל, but the meaning "to wither" is near at hand, which, as we said on Job 14:2, may be gained as well from the primary notion "to fall to pieces" (whence lxx ἐπιπεσεῖται), as from the primary notion "to parch, dry." אמל (whence אמלל, formed after the manner of the Arabic IX. form, usually of failing; vid., Caspari, 59) offers a third possible explanation; it signifies originally to be long and lax, to let anything hang down, and thence in Arab. (amala) to hope, i.e., to look out into the distance. Not the evil-doer's family alone is rooted out, but also his memory. With חוּץ, a very relative notion, both the street outside in front of the house (Job 31:32), and the pasture beyond the dwelling (Job 5:10), are described; here it is to be explained according to Pro 8:26 (ארץ וחוצות), where Hitz. remarks: "The lxx translates correctly ἀοικήτους. The districts beyond each persons' land, which also belong to no one else, the desert, whither one goes forth, is meant." So ארץ seems also here (comp. Job 30:8) to denote the land that is regularly inhabited - Job himself is a large proprietor within the range of a city (Job 29:7) - and חוץ the steppe traversed by the wandering tribes which lies out beyond. Thus also the Syr. version transl. 'al apai barito, over the plain of the desert, after which the Arabic version is el-barrı̂je (the synon. of bedw, bâdije, whence the name of the Beduin

(Note: The village with its meadow-land is el-beled wa 'l-berr. The arable land, in distinction from the steppe, is el-ardd el-âmira, and the steppe is el-berrı̂je. If both are intended, ardd can be used alone. Used specially, el-berrı̂je is the proper name for the great Syrian desert; hence the proverb: el-hhurrı̂je fi 'l-berrı̇je, there is freedom in the steppe (not in towns and villages). - Wetzst.)).

What is directly said in Job 18:17 is repeated figuratively in Job 18:18; as also what has been figuratively expressed in Job 18:16 is repeated in Job 18:19 without figure. The subj. of the verbs in Job 18:18 remains in the background, as Job 4:19; Psa 63:11; Luk 12:20 : they thrust him out of the light (of life, prosperity, and fame) into the darkness (of misfortune, death, and oblivion); so that the illustris becomes not merely ignobilis, but totally ignotus, and they hunt him forth (ינדּהוּ from the Hiph. הנד of the verb נדד, instead of which it might also be ינדהו from נדּה, they banish him) out of the habitable world (for this is the signification of תּבל, the earth as built upon and inhabited). There remains to him in his race neither sprout nor shoot; thus the rhyming alliteration נין and נכד (according to Luzzatto on Isa 14:22, used only of the descendants of persons in high rank, and certainly a nobler expression than our rhyming pairs: Germ. Stumpf und Stiel, Mann und Maus, Kind und Kegel). And there is no escaped one (as Deu 2:34 and freq., Arab. shârid, one fleeing; sharûd, a fugitive) in his abodes (מגוּר, as only besides Psa 55:16). Thus to die away without descendant and remembrance is still at the present day among the Arab races that profess Dı̂n Ibrâhı̂m (the religion of Abraham) the most unhappy thought, for the point of gravitation of continuance beyond the grave is transferred by them to the immortality of the righteous in the continuance of his posterity and works in this world (vid., supra, p. 386); and where else should it be at the time of Job, since no revelation had as yet drawn the curtain aside from the future world? Now follows the declamatory conclusion of the speech.

Job 18:20

job 18:20

20 Those who dwell in the west are astonished at his day,

And trembling seizeth those who dwell in the east;

21 Surely thus it befalleth the dwellings of the unrighteous,

And thus the place of him that knew not God.

It is as much in accordance with the usage of Arabic as it is biblical, to call the day of a man's doom "his day," the day of a battle at a place "the day of that place." Who are the אחרנים who are astonished at it, and the קדמנים whom terror (שׂער as twice besides in this sense in Ezek.) seizes, or as it is properly, who seize terror, i.e., of themselves, without being able to do otherwise than yield to the emotion (as Job 21:6; Isa 13:8; comp. on the contrary Exo 15:14.)? Hirz., Schlottm., Hahn, and others, understand posterity by אחרנים, and by קדמנים their ancestors, therefore Job's contemporaries. But the return from the posterity to those then living is strange, and the usage of the language is opposed to it; for קדמנים is elsewhere always what belongs to the previous age in relation to the speaker (e.g., Sa1 24:14, comp. Ecc 4:16). Since, then, קדמני is used in the signification eastern (e.g., הים הקדמוני, the eastern sea = the Dead Sea), and אחרון in the signification western (e.g., הים האחרון, the western sea = the Mediterranean), it is much more suited both to the order of the words and the usage of the language to understand, with Schult., Oetinger, Umbr., and Ew., the former of those dwelling in the west, and the latter of those dwelling in the east. In the summarizing Job 18:21, the retrospective pronouns are also praegn., like Job 8:19; Job 20:29, comp. Job 26:14 : Thus is it, viz., according to their fate, i.e., thus it befalls them; and אך here retains its original affirmative signification (as in the concluding verse of Psa 58:1-11), although in Hebrew this is blended with the restrictive. וזה has Rebia mugrasch instead of great Schalscheleth,

(Note: Vid., Psalter ii. 503, and comp. Davidson, Outlines of Hebrew Accentuation (1861), p. 92, note.)

and מקום has in correct texts Legarme, which must be followed by לא־ידע with Illuj on the penult. On the relative clause לא־ידע אל without אשׁר, comp. e.g., Job 29:16; and on this use of the st. constr., vid., Ges. 116, 3. The last verse is as though those mentioned in Job 18:20 pointed with the finger to the example of punishment in the "desolated" dwellings which have been visited by the curse.

This second speech of Bildad begins, like the first (Job 8:2), with the reproach of endless babbling; but it does not end like the first (Job 8:22). The first closed with the words: "Thy haters shall be clothed with shame, and the tent of the godless is no more," the second is only an amplification of the second half of this conclusion, without taking up again anywhere the tone of promise, which there also embraces the threatening.

It is manifest also from this speech, that the friends, to express it in the words of the old commentators, know nothing of evangelical but only of legal suffering, and also only of legal, nothing of evangelical, righteousness. For the righteousness of which Job boasts is not the righteousness of single works of the law, but of a disposition directed to God, of conduct proceeding from faith, or (as the Old Testament generally says) from trust in God's mercy, the weaknesses of which are forgiven because they are exonerated by the habitual disposition of the man and the primary aim of his actions. The fact that the principle, "suffering is the consequence of human unrighteousness," is accounted by Bildad as the formula of an inviolable law of the moral order of the world, is closely connected with that outward aspect of human righteousness. One can only thus judge when one regards human righteousness and human destiny from the purely legal point of view. A man, as soon as we conceive him in faith, and therefore under grace, is no longer under that supposed exclusive fundamental law of the divine dealing. Brentius is quite right when he observes that the sentence of the law certainly is modified for the sake of the godly who have the word of promise. Bildad knows nothing of the worth and power which a man attains by a righteous heart. By faith he is removed from the domain of God's justice, which recompenses according to the law of works; and before the power of faith even rocks move from their place.

Bildad then goes off into a detailed description of the total destruction into which the evil-doer, after going about for a time oppressed with the terrors of his conscience as one walking over snares, at last sinks beneath a painful sickness. The description is terribly brilliant, solemn, and pathetic, as becomes the stern preacher of repentance with haughty mien and pharisaic self-confidence; it is none the less beautiful, and, considered in itself, also true - a masterpiece of the poet's skill in poetic idealizing, and in apportioning out the truth in dramatic form. The speech only becomes untrue through the application of the truth advanced, and this untruthfulness the poet has most delicately presented in it. For with a view of terrifying Job, Bildad interweaves distinct references to Job in his description; he knows, however, also how to conceal them under the rich drapery of diversified figures. The first-born of death, that hands the ungodly over to death itself, the king of terrors, by consuming the limbs of the ungodly, is the Arabian leprosy, which slowly destroys the body. The brimstone indicates the fire of God, which, having fallen from heaven, has burned up one part of the herds and servants of Job; the withering of the branch, the death of Job's children, whom he himself, as a drying-up root that will also soon die off, has survived. Job is the ungodly man, who, with wealth, children, name, and all that he possessed, is being destroyed as an example of punishment for posterity both far and near.

But, in reality, Job is not an example of punishment, but an example for consolation to posterity; and what posterity has to relate is not Job's ruin, but his wondrous deliverance (Psa 22:31.). He is no עוּל, but a righteous man; not one who לא ידע־אל, but he knows God better than the friends, although he contends with Him, and they defend Him. It is with him as with the righteous One, who complains, Psa 69:21 : "Contempt hath broken my heart, and I became sick: I hoped for sympathy, but in vain; for comforters, and found none;" and Psa 38:12 (comp. Psa 31:12; Psa 55:13-15; Psa 69:9; Psa 88:9, 19): "My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my stroke, and my kinsmen stand afar off." Not without a deep purpose does the poet make Bildad to address Job in the plural. The address is first directed to Job alone; nevertheless it is so put, that what Bildad says to Job is also intended to be said to others of a like way of thinking, therefore to a whole party of the opposite opinion to himself. Who are these like-minded? Hirzel rightly refers to Job 17:8. Job is the representative of the suffering and misjudged righteous, in other words: of the "congregation," whose blessedness is hidden beneath an outward form of suffering. One is hereby reminded that in the second part of Isaiah the יהוה עבד is also at one time spoken of in the sing., and at another time in the plur.; since this idea, by a remarkable contraction and expansion of expression (systole and diastole), at one time describes the one servant of Jehovah, and at another the congregation of the servants of Jehovah, which has its head in Him. Thus we again have a trace of the fact that the poet is narrating a history that is of universal significance, and that, although Job is no mere personification, he has in him brought forth to view an idea connected with the history of redemption. The ancient interpreters were on the track of this idea when they said in their way, that in Job we behold the image of Christ, and the figure of His church. Christi personam figuraliter gessit, says Beda; and Gregory, after having stated and explained that there is not in the Old Testament a righteous man who does not typically point to Christ, says: Beatus Iob venturi cum suo corpore typum redemtoris insinuat.

Next: Job Chapter 19