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Jamieson, Fausset & Brown :: Commentary on Job 21

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The Book of Job

Commentary by A. R. FAUSSET



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."

      5. lay. . . hand upon. . . mouth-- ( Pro 30:32 Jdg 18:19 ). So the heathen god of silence was pictured with his hand on his mouth. There was enough in Job's case to awe them into silence ( Job 17:8 ).

      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 Rom 2:4 1Ti 1:16 Psa 73:18 Ecc 8:11-13 Luk 2:35-52 Pro 16:4 Rom 9:22.
      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 [UMBREIT].
      timbrel--rather, "tambourine."
      organ--not the modern "organ," but the "pipe" ( Gen 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 ( Psa 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, Mat 8:34 ). How differently the godly ( Isa 2:3 ).
      ways--The course of action, which God points out; as in Psa 50:23, Margin.

      15. (Compare Jer 2:20 Pro 30:9, Margin, Exd 5:2 ).
      what profit-- ( Job 35:3 Mal 3:14 Psa 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 Job 21:21 quotes the assertion of the friends, as to the short continuance of the sinner's prosperity, not his own sentiments. In Job 21:22 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 Mat 25:8 ).
      how oft--"God distributeth," &c. (alluding to Job 20:23, 29 ).
      sorrows--UMBREIT translates "snares," literally, "cords," which lightning in its twining motion resembles ( Psa 11:6 ).

      18. Job alludes to a like sentiment of Bildad ( Job 18:18 ), using his own previous words ( Job 13:25 ).

      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" ( Hsa 9:7 ).

      20. Another questionable assertion of the friends, that the sinner sees his own and his children's destruction in his lifetime.
      drink-- ( Psa 11:6 Isa 51:17 Lam 4:21 ).

      21. The argument of the friends, in proof of Job 21:20, What pleasure can he have from his house (children) when he is dead--("after him," Ecc 3:22 ).
      when the number, &c.--Or, rather, "What hath he to do with his children?" &c. (so the Hebrew in Ecc 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" ( Isa 40:13 Rom 11:34 ).
      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 ( Job 20:17 ); the first clause refers to his abundant substance, the second to his vigorous health.
      moistened--comparing man's body to a well-watered field ( Pro 3:8 Isa 58:11 ).

      26. ( Ecc 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 ( Job 20:7 ).
      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 ( Lam 1:12 ), who have the experience drawn from observation, and who are no way connected with him. Job opposes this to Bildad ( Job 8:8 ) and Zophar ( Job 20:4 ).
      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 ( Luk 16:25 ). 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 Job 19:25, and future retribution ( Job 21:30 ), 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 ( Psa 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 classis 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 ( Hbr 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.

Commentary on Esther 1 ← Prior Book
Introduction to the Psalms Next Book →
Commentary on Job 20 ← Prior Chapter
Commentary on Job 22 Next Chapter →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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