Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, July 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Job 18

Layman's Bible CommentaryLayman's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-4

Bildad Speaks (18:1-21)

Do You Expect a Miracle? (18:1-4)

The English translation of the opening words of Bildad’s second speech does not make it clear whether the speaker addresses Job or speaks to a group (the pronoun "you" may be either singular or plural). The Hebrew here has the plural, the ancient Greek translation the singular. The singular fits better the general framework of the discussion, where the speakers normally speak in this fashion. If the plural is correct, then we must assume either that Bildad includes with Job some bystanders whom he understands to be siding with Job or that he addresses not only Job but also Eliphaz and Zophar, who have not given sufficiently strong arguments.

Bildad’s question in verse 3 may be a reference to Job’s sarcastic remark that even the "beasts" could teach the friends (Job 12:7). Certainly his description of Job as one who tears himself in his anger recalls Job’s contention that God "has torn" him (Job 16:9). The basic question Bildad asks appears in verse 4: that is, whether Job really expects to achieve a complete reversal of the normal order of creation, for so Bildad understands the drift of Job’s demands. To the friends, it would be equivalent to turning creation topsy-turvy to admit that suffering such as Job’s could come upon the righteous, or that the wicked should escape unscathed.

Verses 5-21

The Wicked Man Has No Peace at All (18:5-21)

The remainder of Bildad’s speech is a strong application of the orthodox principle of rewards and retribution, particularly as it affects the fate of wicked men. It is a picture full of dramatic imagery, tracing the way disaster comes upon the wicked man (vss. 5-7), the uneasiness of his entire life (vss. 8-11), the dreadful consequences of his downfall (vss. 12-14), the destruction of his posterity (vss. 15-17), and the final annihilation of his name and reputation from all the earth (vss. 18-21). Moreover, every word of the description is painfully applicable to Job himself, frightened by "terrors," with his skin consumed by disease, being "brought to the king of terrors" (death), having seen his habitation ruined by brimstone, and his offspring and descendants destroyed.

Notice should be taken especially of the imagery in verses 5 and 6, coming from a nomadic age with campfires and tent lights. The first line of verse 12 is a dramatic expression in English, but it might be better translated "His calamity is hungry," that is, it pursues him relentlessly. As the margin indicates, the first line of verse 13 needs an antecedent for "it," supposedly "disease." The imagery of the dried-up tree in verse 16 recalls Job’s pathetic words in Job 14:7-12. Job had wondered if, like a tree coming to life, man might live again. Bildad warns that there is no such hope for him, for it is also true that the root of a tree finally dries up in the ground, and this is the prospect of the wicked.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Job 18". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/job-18.html.
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