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Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Job 27

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

Job continued - Margin, as in Hebrew “added to take up.” Probably he had paused for Zophar to reply, but since he said nothing he now resumed his argument.

His parable - A parable properly denotes a comparison of one thing with another, or a fable or allegorical representation from which moral instruction is derived. It was a favorite mode of conveying truth in the East, and indeed is found in all countries; see the notes at Matthew 13:3. It is evident, however, that Job did not deliver his sentiments in this manner; and the word rendered “parable” here (משׁל mâshâl) means, as it often does, a sententious discourse or argument. The word is used in the Scriptures to denote a parable, properly so called; then a sententious saying; an apothegm; a proverb; or a poem or song; see the notes at Isaiah 14:4. It is rendered here by the Vulgate, parabolam; by the Septuagint, προοιμίῳ prooimiō - “Job spake by preface;” Luther, fuhr fort - Job continued; Noyes, discourse; Good, high argument. The meaning is, that Job continued his discourse; but there is in the word a reference to the kind of discourse which he employed, as being sententious and apothegmatical.

Verse 2

As God liveth - A form of solemn adjuration, or an oath by the living God. “As certainly as God lives.” It is the form by which God himself often swears; see Ezekiel 14:16; Ezekiel 33:11, and is often employed by others; 1Sa 20:3; 1 Samuel 25:26.

Who hath taken away my judgment - Who hath rejected my cause, or who has refused me justice; that is, who has treated me as though I was guilty, and withholds from me relief. The language is forensic, and the idea is, that he would make his solemn appeal to him, even though he had rejected his cause. Perhaps there is implied here more than the solemnity of an ordinary oath. A man might be supposed to be willing to make his appeal to one who had shown himself friendly or favorable to him, but he would manifest more reluctance to making his appeal in an important case to a judge who had decided against him, especially if that decision was regarded as severe, and if that judge had refused to hear what he had to say in self-defense. But Job here says, that such was his confidence in his own sincerity and truth, that he could make his appeal to God, even though he knew that he had hitherto gone against him, and treated him as if he were guilty.

Who hath vexed my soul - Margin, as in Hebrew “made my soul bitter.” That is, who has greatly afflicted me; compare 2 Kings 4:27, margin, and Ruth 1:20.

Verse 3

And the spirit of God is in my nostrils - As long as I live. The “spirit of God” here means the breath that God breathed into man when he created him, Genesis 2:7. It would seem probable that there was an allusion to that fact by the language here, and that the knowledge of the way in which man was created was thus handed down by tradition.

Verse 4

My lips shall not speak wickedness - This solemn profession made on oath might have done something to allay the suspicions of his friends in regard to him, and to show that they had been mistaken in his character. It is a solemn assurance that he did not mean to vindicate the cause of wickedness, or to say one word in its favor; and that as long as he lived he would never be found advocating it.

Nor my tongue utter deceit - I will never make any use of sophistry; I will not attempt to make “the worse appear the better reason;” I will not be the advocate of error. This had always been the aim of Job, and he now says that no circumstance should ever induce him to pursue a different course as long as he lived. Probably he means, also, as the following verse seems to imply, that no consideration should ever induce him to countenance error or to palliate wrong. He would not be deterred from expressing his sentiments by any dread of opposition, or even by any respect for his friends. No friendship which he might have for them would induce him to justify what he honestly regarded as error.

Verse 5

God forbid - לי חלילה châlı̂ylâh lı̂y. “Far be it from me.” Literally, “Profane be it to me;” that is, I should regard it as unholy and profane; I cannot do it.

That I should justify you - That I should admit the correctness of your positions, and should concede that I am an hypocrite. He was conscious of integrity and sincerity, and nothing could induce him to abandon that conviction, or to admit the correctness of the reasoning which they had pursued in regard to him. Coverdale (1535 a.d.) has given this a correct translation, “God forbid that I should grant your cause to be right.”

Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me - I will not admit that I am insincere and hypocritical. This is the language of a man who was conscious of integrity, and who would not be deprived of that consciousness by any plausible representations of his professed friends.

Verse 6

My righteousness I hold fast - I hold on to the consciousness of integrity and uprightness. I cannot, will not, part with that. Job had lost his property, his health, and his domestic comforts, but he had in all this one consolation - he felt that he was sincere. He had been subjected to calamity by God as if he were a wicked man, but still he was resolved to adhere to the consciousness of his uprightness. Property may leave a man; friends may forsake him; children may die; disease may attack him; slander may assail him; and death may approach him; but still he may have in his bosom one unfailing source of consolation; he may have the consciousness that his aim has been right and pure. That nothing can shake; of that, no storms or tempests, no malignant foe, no losses or disappointment, no ridicule or calumny, can deprive him.

My heart shall not reproach me - That is, as being insincere, false, hollow.

So long as I live - Margin, “from my days.” So the Hebrew - מימי mı̂yāmāy. Vulgate in omni vita mea. Septuagint, “I am not conscious to myself of having done anything amiss” - ἄτοπα τράξας atopa pracas; compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 4:4. The idea is, that he had a consciousness of integrity, and that he meant to maintain it as long as he lived.

Verse 7

Let mine enemy be as the wicked - This is probably said that he might show that it was not his intention to justify the wicked, and that in all that he had said it was no part of his purpose to express approbation of their course. His friends had charged him with this; but he now solemnly disclaims it, and says that he had no such design. To show how little he meant to justify the wicked, he says that the utmost that he could desire for an enemy would be, that he would be treated as he believed the wicked would be. A similar expression occurs in Daniel 4:19, “My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies;” that is, calamities are coming upon thee indicated by the dream, such as you would desire on your foes; so in Judges 5:31. After the mother of Sisera had anxiously looked for the return of her son from the battle, though he was then slain, the sacred writer adds, “So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord.” Thus, when a traitor is executed it is common for the executioner to hold up his head and say, “So let all the enemies of the king die.” Job means to say that he had no sympathy with wicked people, and that he believed that they would be punished as certainly and as severely as one could desire his enemy to suffer. Schnurrer supposes that by the enemy here he refers to his friends with whom he had been disputing; but this is to give an unnecessarily harsh construction to the passage.

Verse 8

For what is the hope of the hypocrite? - The same sentiment which Job here advances had before been expressed by Bildad; see it explained in the notes at Job 8:13 following It had also been expressed in a similar manner by Zophar (see the notes on Job 20:5, and had been much insisted on in their arguments. Job now says that he fully accords with that belief. He was not disposed to defend hypocrisy; he had no sympathy for it. He knew, as they did, that all the joy of a hypocrite would be temporary, and that when death came it must vanish. He wishes that his remarks should not be construed so as to make him the advocate of hypocrisy or sin, and affirms that he relied on a more solid foundation of peace and joy than the hypocrite could possess. It was by explanations and admissions such as these that the controversy was gradually closed, and when they came fully to understand Job, they felt that they had nothing which they could reply to him.

Though he hath gained - - יבצע yı̂bâtsa‛. The Vulgate renders this, si avare rapiat - “if he avariciously seizes upon.” The Septuagint, ὅτι hoti ἐπἐχει epechei that he persisteth. Dr. Good, “That he should prosper;” and so Wemyss. The Hebrew word (בצע bâtsa‛) means properly, to cut or dash in pieces; then to tear in pieces, or to plunder or spoil; then to cut off, to bring to an end, etc. It is applied to the action of a weaver, who, when his web is finished, cuts off the thrum that binds it to the beam. The web is then finished; it is all woven, and is then taken from the loom. Hence, it is elegantly used to denote the close of life, when life is woven or finished - by the rapid passing of days like the weavers shuttle Job 7:6, and when it is then, as it were, taken out of the loom; see this figure explained in the notes at Isaiah 38:12. This is the idea here, that life would be cut off like the weaver’s web, and that when that was done the hope of the hypocrite would be of no value.

When God taketh away his soul - When he dies. There has been much perplexity felt in regard to the Hebrew word here rendered “taketh away” - ישׁל yēshel. A full explanation may be seen in Schultens and Rosenmuller. Some suppose it is the future from נשל for ישל - meaning to draw out, and that the idea is, that God draws out this life as a sword is drawn out of a sheath. Others, that it is from שלה - to be secure, or tranquil, or at rest: and that it refers to the time when God shall give rest in the grave, or that the meaning of the word שלה here is the same as שלל or נשל - to draw out; see Gesenius on the word שלה. Schnurrer conjectures that it is derived from שאל - to ask, to demand, and that the form here is contracted from the future ישאל. But the common supposition is, that it means to draw out - in allusion to drawing out a sword from a scabbard - thus drawing life or the soul from the body.

Verse 9

Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him? - Coverdale has rendered this Job 27:8-9 so as to make excellent sense, though not strictly in accordance with the original. “What hope hath the hypocrite though he have great good, and though God give him riches after his heart’s desire? Doth God hear him the sooner, when he crieth unto him in his necessity?” The object of the verse is to show the miserable condition of a wicked man or a hypocrite. This is shown by the fact which Job asserts, that God will not hear his cry when he feels his need of aid, and when he is induced to call upon him. This is true only when his object in calling upon God is merely for help. If he has no relentings for his sin, and no real confidence in God; if he calls upon him in trouble, intending to return to his sins as soon as the trouble is over, or if such is the state of his mind that God sees that he would return to his sins as soon as his calamities cease, then he cannot be expected to hear him. But if he comes with a penitent heart, and with a sincere purpose to forsake his sins and to devote himself to God, there is no reason to doubt that he would bear him. The argument of Job is in the main sound. It is, that if a man wishes the favor of God, and the assurance that he will hear his prayer, he must lead a holy life. A hypocrite cannot expect his favor: compare the notes at Isaiah 1:15.

Verse 10

Will he delight himself in the Almighty? - A truly pious man will delight himself in the Almighty. His supreme happiness will be found in God. He has pleasure in the contemplation of his existence, his perfections, his law, and his government. Coverdale renders this, “Hath he such pleasure and delight in the Almighty that he dare alway call upon God?” The idea of Job is that a hypocrite has not his delight in the Almighty; and, therefore, his condition is not such as he would defend or choose. Job bad been charged with defending the character of the wicked and with maintaining that they were the objects of the divine favor. He now says that he maintained no such opinion. He was aware that the only real and solid happiness was to be found in God, and he knew that a hypocrite would not find delight there. This is true to the letter. A hypocrite has no real happiness in God. He sees nothing in the divine perfections to love; nothing in the divine plan affections. The hypocrite, therefore, is a miserable man. He professes to love what he does not love; tries to find pleasure in what his heart hates; mingles with a people with whom he has no sympathy, and joins in services of prayer and praise which are disgusting and irksome to his soul. The pious man rejoices that there is just such a God as Yahweh is. He sees nothing in him which he desires to be changed, and he has supreme delight in the contemplation of his perfections.

Will he always call upon God? - That is, he will not always call upon God. This is literally true. The hypocrite pray:

(1) when he makes a profession of religion;

(2) on some extraordinary occasion - as when a friend is sick, or when he feels that he himself is about to die, but he does not always maintain habits of prayer.

He suffers his business to break in upon his times for prayer; neglects secret devotion on the slightest pretence, and soon abandons it altogether. One of the best tests of character is the feeling with which we pray, and the habit which we have of calling on God. The man who loves secret prayer has one of the most certain evidences that he is a pious man; compare the notes at Job 20:5.

Verse 11

I will teach you by the hand of God - Margin, “or, being in.” Coverdale, “In the name of God.” So Tindal, Noyes, “Concerning the hand of God.” Good, “Concerning the dealings of God.” The Chaldee renders it אלהא בנביאת - “By the prophecy of God.” Luther, “I will teach you by the hand of God.” The idea evidently is, that Job would instruct them by what God had done. He would appeal to his works, and to the dispensations of his providence; and by the indications of wisdom and skill which were to be found there, he would derive important lessons for their instruction on the great principles of his administration. Accordingly, in the remainder of this chapter, he makes his appeal to what actually occurs in the dispensations of Providence, and in the next, he refers to various scientific subjects, evincing the wisdom which God had shown in the mineral kingdom. The hand is the instrument by which we accomplish anything, and hence, it is used here to denote what God does.

That which is with the Almighty will I not conceal - That is, I will appeal to his works, and show what traces of wisdom there are in them.

Verse 12

Behold, all ye yourselves have seen it - You have had an opportunity of tracing the proofs of the wisdom of God in his works.

Why then are ye thus altogether vain - Why is it that you maintain such opinions - that you evince no more knowledge of his government and plans - that you argue so inconclusively about him and his administration! Why, since you have had an opportunity of observing the course of events, do you maintain that suffering is necessarily a proof of guilt, and that God deals with all people, in this life, according to their character? A close observation of the course of events would have taught you otherwise. Job proceeds to state what he supposes to be the exact truth on the subject, and particularly aims, in the following chapter, to show that the ways of God are inscrutable, and that we cannot be expected to comprehend them, and are not competent to pronounce upon them.

Verse 13

This is the portion of a wicked man with God - There has been much diversity of view in regard to the remainder of this chapter. The difficulty is, that Job seems here to state the same things which had been maintained by his friends, and against which he had all along contended. This difficulty has been felt to be very great, and is very great. It cannot be denied, that there is a great resemblance between the sentiments here expressed and those which had been maintained by his friends, and that this speech, if offered by them, would have accorded entirely with their main position. Job seems to abandon all which he had defended, and to concede all which he had so warmly condemned. One mode of explaining the difficulty has been suggested in the “Analysis” of the chapter. It was proposed by Noyes, and is plausible, but, perhaps, will not be regarded as satisfactory to all. Dr. Kennicott supposes that the text is imperfect, and that these verses constituted the third speech of Zophar. His arguments for this opinion are:

(1) That Eliphaz and Bildad had each spoken three times, and that we are naturally led to expect a third speech from Zophar; but, according to the present arrangement, there is none.

(2) That the sentiments accord exactly with what Zophar might be expected to advance, and are exactly in his style; that they are expressed in “his fierce manner of accusation,” and are “in the very place where Zophar’s speech is naturally expected.”

But the objections to this view are insuperable. They are:

(1) The entire lack of any authority in the manuscripts, or ancient versions, for such an arrangement or supposition. All the ancient versions and manuscripts make this a part of the speech of Job.

(2) If this had been a speech of Zophar, we should have expected a reply to it, or an allusion to it, in the speech of Job which follows. But no such reply or allusion occurs.

(3) If the form which is usual on the opening of a speech, “And Zophar answered and said,” had ever existed here, it is incredible that it should have been removed. But it occurs in no manuscript or version; and it is not allowable to make such an alteration in the Scripture by conjecture.

Wemyss, in his translation of Job, accords with the view of Kennicott, and makes these verses Job 27:13-23 to be the third speech of Zophar. For this, however, he alleges no authority, and no reasons except such as had been suggested by Kennicott. Coverdale, in his translation of the Bible (1553 a.d.), has inserted the word “saying” at the close of Job 27:12, and regards what follows to the end of the chapter as an enumeration or recapitulation of the false sentiments which they had maintained, and which Job regards as the “vain” things Job 27:12 which they had maintained. In support of this view the following reasons may be alleged:

(1) It avoids all the difficulty of transposition, and the necessity of inserting an introduction, as we must do, if we suppose it to be a speech of Zophar.

(2) It avoids the difficulty of supposing that Job had here contradicted the sentiments which he had before advanced, or of conceding all that his friends had maintained.

(3) It is in accordance with the practice of the speakers in this book, and the usual practice of debaters, who enumerate at considerable length the sentiments which they regard as erroneous and which they design to oppose.

(4) It is the most simple and natural supposition, and, therefore, most likely to be the true one. Still, it must be admitted, that the passage is attended with difficulty; but the above solution is, it seems to me, the most plausible.

This is the portion - This is what he receives; to wit, what he states in the following verses, that his children would be cut off.

And the heritage of oppressors - What tyrants and cruel people must expect to receive at the hand of God.

Verse 14

If his children be multiplied, it is for the sword - That is, they shall be slain in war. The first calamities which it is here said would come upon a man, relate to his family Job 27:14-18; the next are those that would come upon himself, Job 27:19-23. All the sentiments here expressed are found in the various speeches of the friends of Job, and, according to the interpretation suggested above, this is designed to represent their sentiments. They maintained that if a wicked man was blessed with a numerous family, and seemed to be prosperous, it was only that the punishment might come the more heavily upon him, for that they certainly would be cut off; see Job 18:19-20; Job 20:10.

And his offspring shall not be satisfied with bread - This sentiment was advanced by Zophar, Job 20:10; see the notes at that verse.

Verse 15

Those that remain of him - Those that survive him.

Shall be buried in death - Hebrew “shall be buried BY death” (במות bamâveth), that is. “Death shall be the grave-digger” - or, they shall have no friends to bury them; they shall be unburied. The idea is highly poetical, and the expression is very tender. They would have no one to weep over them, and no one to prepare for them a grave; there would be no procession, no funeral dirge, no train of weeping attendants; even the members of their own family would not weep over them. To be unburied has always been regarded as a dishonor and calamity (compare the notes at Isaiah 14:19), and is often referred to as such in the Scriptures; see Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 14:16; Jeremiah 16:4, Jeremiah 16:6. The passage here has a striking resemblance to Jeremiah 22:18-19 -

“They shall not lament for him, saying,

Ah! my brother! or, Ah! sister!

They shall not lament for him, saying,

Ah! lord! or, Ah! his glory!

With the burial of an ass shall he be buried,

Drawn out and east beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”

And his widows shall not weep - The plural here - “widows” - is a proof that polygamy was then practiced. It is probable that Job here alludes to the shrieks of domestic grief which in the East are heard in every part of the house among the females on the death of the master of the family, or to the train of women that usually followed the corpse to the grave. The standing of a man in society was indicated by the length of the train of mourners, and particularly by the number of wives and concubines that followed him as weepers. Job refers to this as the sentiment of his friends, that when a wicked man died, he would die with such evident marks of the divine displeasure, that even his own family would not mourn for him, or that they would be cut off before his death, and none would be left to grieve.

Verse 16

Though he heap up silver as the dust - That is, in great quantities - as plenty as dust; compare 1 Kings 10:27, “And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones.”

And prepare raiment - Oriental wealth consisted much in changes of raiment. Sir John Chardin says that in the East it is common to gather together immense quantities of furniture and clothes. According to D’Herbelot, Bokteri, an illustrious poet; of Cufah in the ninth century, had so many presents made him in the course of his life, that when he died he was found possessed of an hundred complete suits of clothes, two hundred shirts, and five hundred turbans. compare Ezra 2:69, and Nehemiah 7:70 see Bochart IIieroz. P. II. Lib. iv. c. xxv. p. 617. This species of treasure is mentioned by Virgil;

Dives equom, dives pictai vestis et auri.

Aeneid ix. 26.

The reason why wealth consisted so much in changes of raiment, is to be found in the fondness for display in Oriental countries, and in the fact that as fashions never change there, such treasures are valuable until they are worn out. In the ever-varying fashions of the West such treasures are comparatively of much less value.

As the clay - As the dust of the streets; or as abundant as mire.

Verse 17

The just shall put it on - The righteous shall wear it. It shall pass out of the hands of him who prepared it, into the hands of others. The meaning is, that the wicked, though they become rich, would not live to enjoy their ill-gotten gains. These two verses contain a beautiful illustration of what Dr. Jebb calls the introverted parallelism - where the fourth member answers to the first, and the third to the second:

“Though he heap up silver as the dust,

And prepare raiment as the clay,

The just shall put it (raiment) on,

And the innocent shall divide the silver.”

A similar instance occurs in Matthew 7:6 :

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs,

Neither cast ye your pearls before swine,

Lest they (the swine) trample them under their feet.

And (the dogs) turn again and rend you.”

For a full illustration of the nature of Hebrew poetry, the reader may consult DeWette, Einleitung in die Psalmen, translated in the Biblical Repository, vol. iii. pp. 445ff, and Nordheimer’s Hebrew Grammar, vol. ii. pp. 319ff; see also the Introduction to Job, Section V.

The innocent shall divide the silver - That is, the righteous shall come into possession of it, and divide it among themselves. The wicked who had gained it shall not be permitted to enjoy it.

Verse 18

He buildeth his house as a moth - The house which the moth builds is the slight fabric which it makes for its own dwelling in the garment which it consumes. On this verse compare Job 8:14. The dwelling of the moth is composed of the materials of the garment on which it feeds, and there may be an allusion here not only to the fact that the house which the wicked reared for themselves would be temporary, and that it would soon pass away like the dwelling of the moth, but that it was obtained - like the dwelling of the moth - at the expense of others. The idea of frailty, however, and of its being only a very temporary habitation, is probably the main thought in the passage. The allusion here is to the moth-worm as it proceeds from the egg, before it is changed into the chrysalis, aurelia, or nymph. “The young moth, upon leaving the egg which a papilio has lodged upon a piece of stuff, or a skin well dressed, and commodious for her purpose, immediately finds a habitation and food in the nap of the stuff, or hair of the skin. It gnaws and lives upon the nap, and likewise builds with it its apartment, accommodated both with a front door and a back one: the whole is well fastened to the ground of the stuff, with several cords and a little glue. The moth sometimes thrusts her head out of one opening, and sometimes out of the other, and perpetually demolishes all about her; and when she has cleared the place about her, she draws out all the stakes of the tent, after which she carries it to some little distance, and then fixes it with her slender cords in a new situation.”

Burder. It is to the insect in its larvae or caterpillar state that Job refers here, and the slightness of the habitation will be easily understood by anyone who has watched the operations of the silkworm, or of the moths that appear in this country. The idea is, that the habitation which the wicked constructed was temporary and frail, and would soon be left. The Chaldee and Syriac render this “the spider;” and so does Luther - Spinne. The slight gossamer dwelling of the spider would well correspond with the idea here expressed by Job.

And as a booth - A tent, or cottage.

That the keeper maketh - That one who watches vineyards or gardens makes as a temporary shelter from the storm or the cold at night. Such edifices were very frail in their structure, and were designed to be only temporary habitations; see the subject explained in the notes at Isaiah 1:8. Niebuhr, in his description of Arabia, p. 158, says, “In the mountains of Yemen they have a sort of nest on the trees, where the Arabs sit to watch the fields after they have been planted. But in the Kehama, where they have but few trees, they build a light kind of scaffolding for this purpose.” Mr. Southey opens the fifth part of his Curse of Kehama with a similar allusion:

“Evening comes on: - arising from the stream

Homeward the tall flamingo wings his flight;

And when hc sails athwart the setting beam,

His scarlet plumage glows with deeper light.

The watchman, at the wish’d approach of night

Gladly forsakes the field, where he all day,

To scare the winged plunderers from their prey,

With shout and sling, on yonder clay-built height,

Hath borne the sultry ray.

Verse 19

The rich man - That is, the rich man who is wicked.

Shall lie down - Shalt die - for so the connection demands.

But he shall not be gathered - In an honorable burial. The slain in battle are gathered together for burial; but he shall be unburied. The expressions “to be gathered,” “to be gathered to one’s fathers,” frequently occur in the Scriptures, and seem to be used to denote a peaceful and happy death and an honorable burial. There was the idea of a happy union with departed friends; of being honorably placed by their side in the grave, and admitted to companionship with them again in the unseen world; compare Genesis 25:8; Genesis 35:29; Genesis 49:29, Genesis 49:33; Numbers 27:13; Deuteronomy 32:50; Judges 2:10; 2 Kings 22:20. Among the ancients, the opinion prevailed that the souls of those who were not buried in the customary manner, were not permitted to enter Hades, or the abodes of the dead, but were doomed to wander for an hundred years upon the banks of the river Styx. Thus, Homer (Iliad, 23:71, following) represents the spirit of Patroclus as appearing to Achilles, and praying him that he would commit his body with proper honors to the earth. So Palinurus is represented by Virgil (Aeneid, vi. 365) as saying, “Cast earth upon me, that I may have a calm repose in death.” The Hindoos, says Dr. Ward, believe that the souls of those who are unburied wander about and find no rest. It is possible that such views may have prevailed in the time of Job. The sentiment here is, that such an honored death would be denied the rich man of oppression and wickedness.

He openeth his eyes, and he is not - That is, in the twinkling of an eye he is no more. From the midst of his affluence he is suddenly cut off, and hurried away in a moment.

Verse 20

Terrors-take hold on him as waters - That is, as suddenly and violently as angry floods; compare the notes at Job 18:14.

A tempest stealeth him away - He is suddenly cut off by the wrath of God. A tempest comes upon him as unexpectedly as a thief or robber comes at night. Death is often represented as coming upon man with the silence of a thief, or the sudden violence of a robber at midnight; see the note at Job 21:17; compare Matthew 24:42-44.

Verse 21

The east wind carrieth him away - He is swept off as by the violence of a tempest. Severe storms are represented in this book as coming from the East; compare the notes at Job 15:2. The ancients believed that people might be carried away by a tempest or whirlwind; compare Isaiah 41:16; see also Homer, Odyssey xx. 63ff:

“Snatch me, ye whirlwinds far from human race,

Test through the void illimitable space;

Or if dismounted from the rapid cloud,

Me with his whelming wave let Ocean shroud!”


Compare the notes at Job 30:22. The parallelism here would seem to imply that the wind referred to was violent, but it is possible that the allusion may be to the burning winds of the desert, so well known in the East, and so frequently described by travelers. The Vulgate here renders the Hebrew word קדים qâdı̂ym, ventus urens, “burning wind;” the Septuagint in like manner, καύσων kausōn; the Syriac simply wind. This east wind, or burning wind, is what the Arabians call Samum. It is a hot wind which passes over the desert, and which was formerly supposed to be destructive of life. More recent travelers however, tell us that it is not fatal to life, though exceedingly oppressive.

And as a storm - See Psalms 58:9.

Hurleth him out of his place - Takes him entirely away, or removes him from the earth.

Verse 22

For God shall cast upon him - That is, God shall bring calamities upon him, or cast his thunderbolts upon him, and shall not pity him.

He would fain flee - He would gladly escape from the wrath of God, but he is unable to do it.

Verse 23

Men shall clap their hands at him - That is, they shall combine to drive him out of the world, and rejoice when he is gone. The same sentiment was also expressed by Bildad, Job 18:18 :

“He shall be driven fromm light into darkness,

And chased out of the world.”

There can be no doubt, I think, that Job alludes to that sentiment, and that his object in quoting it is to show its incorrectness. He does not indeed go into a formal reply to it in the following chapters, but he seems to consider that he had already replied to it by the statements which he had made, and which showed the incorrectness of the views which his friends had taken. He had demonstrated in the previous chapters that their main position was incorrect, and he asks (in Job 27:12 of this chapter), how it was possible that they could hold such sentiments as these, in the midst of all the facts which surrounded them? The whole current of events was against their opinion, and in the close of this chapter he enumerates the sentiments which they had advanced, which he regarded as so strange, and which he felt that he had now shown to be erroneous. In deed, they seem to have regarded themselves as confuted, for they were silent. Job had attacked and overthrown their main position, that people were treated according to their character in this life, and that consequently extraordinary sufferings were proof of extraordinary guilt, and, that being overthrown, they had nothing more to say. Having silenced them, and shown the error of the opinions which he has here enumerated, be proceeds in the following chapters to state his own views on important topics connected with the providence of God, mainly designed to show that we are not to expect fully to comprehend the reason of his dispensations.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 27". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/job-27.html. 1870.
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