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Bible Commentaries
Job 18

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verse 1


1. Then answered Bildad The wicked man, inflated with vanity, may rage like a wild beast, but nature will keep on in her course. God, however, does not forget or neglect him, as is evident in the extinction of the lamp within his home and in the many snares laid for his ruin. Bildad proceeds to paint the doom of a miserable sinner his darkest colours he draws out of the misfortunes of Job. That doom is inevitable, full of terror, overwhelming. Heaven fights against him with its fires, destroys his children, crushes all hope, chases him into the outer darkness, and sets him as a monument of perpetual desolation. “The description is terribly brilliant, solemn, and pathetic, as becomes the stern preacher of repentance, with haughty mien and pharisaic self-confidence,… a masterpiece of the poet’s skill in poetic idealizing.” Delitzsch.

Verse 2

Introduction. Bildad retorts Job’s charges of folly by comparing him to a self-devouring brute, who in his madness would unsettle the eternal principles of God’s moral government, Job 18:2-4.

2. An end of words How long will ye set snares for words? We have a like phrase, “ hunt for words.” His former speech commenced (Job 8:2) with a similar outburst of impatience, and in the same words, “how long.”

Verse 3

3. As beasts Only by implication, Job 12:7-8; Job 17:4.

Vile Stupid.

Verse 4

4. He (meaning Job) teareth himself Of a terrible nondescript wild beast, “the strongest of all others,” Diodorus Siculus, (iii, ch. 2,) says, “if he fall into a pit, or be taken any other way by snares or gins laid for him, he chokes and stifles himself with his unruly rage.”

Shall the earth, etc. When the Orientals would reprove the pride or arrogance of any person, it is common to taunt him with such apothegms as, “What though Mohammed were dead! his imaums (ministers) conducted the affairs of the nation; the universe shall not fall for his sake. The world does not subsist for one man alone.” LOWTH, Lec. 34.

Forsaken for thee In the sense of being depopulated. Leviticus 26:43.

The rock be removed, etc. A literal citation from Job 14:18. Art thou of so much consequence that the most stable things of nature shall move because of thee? Or, for love of thee shall the foundations of the moral world be upheaved? Such must be Job’s expectations if he deny the unfailing connexion of sin and retribution. If so, Job must be one of heaven’s fondlings. The sneer of Pope as to “the loose mountain,” etc., is a reproduction of Bildad.

Verse 5


Hengstenberg divides the section into a Heptade, Job 18:5-11; and a Decade, Job 18:12-21.

All things nets, pitfalls, gins, nooses, snares, and traps conspire to carry into effect the law of retribution established by God, Job 18:5-11.

5. The spark, etc. The flame of his fire. There may be an allusion to the fires of hospitality which the wealthy Arabs were wont to light upon the tops of hills, to direct travellers to their houses for entertainment. An Arabian poet, cited by Scott, thus expresses the permanent prosperity of his family: “Neither is our fire, lighted for the benefit of the night stranger, extinguished.” The flame of fire is a common Oriental figure for splendid fortune. The extinction of the one implied that of the other.

Verse 6

6. His candle The lamp above him shall be put out. The lamp suspended in the tent was kept burning all night. The poorest would rather dispense with part of their food than with a night lamp. The custom still prevails in Aleppo and Egypt. Schultens cites a common saying of the Arab, “Misfortune has put out my lamp.” Hitzig does violence to the passage when he renders עליו with him, on the supposition that the torch (lamp) is one that the wicked carries with himself in his wanderings by night. The following verses, he says, would then describe the disastrous consequences of its extinction.

Verse 7

7. The steps of his strength His strong steps. Schultens gives a trite Arabic phrase illustrative of sudden diminution of power: “Whoso keepeth not within the bounds of strength, his widest steps shall be straitened.” Compare Proverbs 4:12. Large steps, free movement, etc., says Rosenmuller, are proverbial expressions among the Arabs to denote freedom, prosperity, etc.

Verse 8

8. Walketh upon a snare His terra firma is but earth-covered “ latticework” ( שׂבכה ) over a pitfall concealing an unfathomable abyss.

Verse 9

9. The robber The noose (ch. Job 5:5) shall take fast hold of him. In Job 18:8-10 six different modes of taking wild animals are alluded to. They do not differ much from those still prevailing among barbarous tribes. The variety of figure employed indicates the hopelessness of escape.

Verse 10

10. The snare Literally, Hidden in the earth is his snare; and his net (is) on the foot-path. The continuation in Job 18:10 of the figure of the fowler declares that that issue of sinful life has been preparing long beforehand; the prosperity of the evildoer from the beginning tends toward ruin. (Delitzsch.)

Verse 11

11. Drive him Chase him at his feet. These terrors, personified, resemble the furies of the Greek poets their pursuit of the wicked man is so close that they are said to be at his heels.

Verse 12

Decade, a. Ravenous calamity, maiming disease, (see note Job 2:7,) and inexorable death three insatiate furies remand the wicked to the king of terrors, while the doom of Sodom falls upon his habitation, and all that remains to him, Job 18:12-16.

12. His strength This might better be read, his calamity shall be hungry, (for him,) though the older interpreters adopt the other meaning of אנ , strength. “Calamity” furnishes a more satisfactory parallel for “destruction,” איד , which is a stronger word, signifying literally “a load of suffering.”

At his side Others read “for his fall.” Destruction awaits the results which itself accomplishes.

Verse 13

13. Strength Hebrew, Baddim. The same word is used twice in this verse, and means parts or members. Skin stands here for body, as in Exodus 22:27. The discourse now becomes personal, for the disease Job had eats its way as Bildad describes. AEschylus speaks of “leprosies that assail the flesh with fierce fangs, and entirely eat away its original nature.” Choephori, 279. Firstborn of death Whatever is pre-eminent in its kind is called in the Scriptures “the firstborn.” If the Arab deems “fevers to be the daughters of death,” the terrible elephantiasis may well be called his firstborn. Death has his family, and at the head of the dismal brood stands, in the Semitic mind, this most dreaded disease.

Verse 14

14. His confidence… his tabernacle He shall be torn from his tent, his confidence; that on which he relies. As with us, his tent (house) may have been his castle; or, perhaps, the poet means his home, his children, which are the right arm of a man. Hitzig understands by TENT his body, (2 Peter 1:13; Isaiah 38:12,) “his strong, sound body, which promised a long life.” But the use of the same word in the next verse, as a habitation for others, is fatal to this view.

It shall bring It, the dark, unseen, unnamed power, shall make him to march. “Slowly march,” says Umbreit, with a view to the idea that the godless man has a fearful death before his eyes for a length of time an evident allusion to the case of Job. The Assyrian monuments give striking pictures of captives bound in chains, marching in procession to death. “The Psalm of Life” has a like figure of “funeral marches to the grave.”

King of terrors Death, whose first-born has done his work. This personification of death rests, probably, upon an instinctive feeling that, for the wicked, death is no mere privation of consciousness, but the entrance into a state of unknown horror. (Canon Cook.) It has been conjectured by some that in this term “king of terrors.” (comp. Hebrews 2:14,) there is an allusion to Satan, who has “the power of death.” In Jewish theology, Satan is called the prince over thohu, or chaos.

Verse 15

15. His tabernacle After he has been snatched from it, there shall dwell in his tent that which is not his, to wit: wild beasts, (Isaiah 13:21,) or weeds and thorns, (Hosea 9:6, Dillmann,) or strangers and aliens, (Hitzig.)

Brimstone His doom shall be like that of Sodom and Gomorrah; the fires of heaven shall fall upon his habitation. The ancients fancied that lightning had the smell of brimstone. Thus Pliny, (Job 35:1,) “Lightning and thunder are attended with a strong smell of sulphur, and the light produced by them is of a sulplhureous complexion.” “The desolation of his house is the most terrible calamity for the Semite.… For the Bedawi especially, although his hair tent leaves no mark, the thought of the desolation of his house, the extinction of his hospitable health, is terrible.” WETZSTEIN, in Del. The ancients had a custom of fumigating houses with sulphur for purposes of purification and exorcism. But notwithstanding Dr. Adam Clarke’s great authority, its application to the text is very questionable. (See Clarke, in loc.)

Verse 16

16. Be cut off Wither. The sarcophagus of Ashmanasar, king of the Sidonians, discovered in recent times, has inscribed upon it a curse against those who should “disturb him upon his resting place;” “let him not have a root below or a branch above.” In the East, man is often compared to a tree, his destruction to the cutting off of its branches. (See Roberts, in loc.)

Verse 17

b. His name shall survive only to serve as a warning to subsequent generations, Job 18:17-21.

17. Earth Land. 1 Samuel 23:23.

In the street Literally, that which is outside, open country. Hitzig renders, “on the common.” There shall be an utter extinction of his name: neither in town nor in the wilderness nowhere shall it be spoken.

Verse 18

18. Chased out of the world He shall not be conducted out of life, as Plato expresses it, with funereal pomp, by a numerous train of mourning citizens and relations, but shall be cast out of human society like a malefactor, and thrown underground with infamy and execration. (Scott.) The terror is heightened by the vagueness of the expression, THEY shall chase him an impersonal form for unknown agents, sent to drive him, like Adam from paradise, out of a world of which he is not worthy.

Verse 19

19. Son nor nephew Literally, sprig nor sprout. Tyndale’s rendering is admirable “He shall nether have chyldren nor kynsfolcks amonge hys people; noo, nor eny posterite in hys countrey” ( places of sojourn). The original word for dwellings, according to Schultens, signified a refuge for strangers. The great men among the Arabs prided themselves upon the numbers of those who fled to them for protection. To such Schultens thinks Bildad may refer when he says, there shall be “no survivor in his dwellings.” Under the earlier economies the doctrine of the immortality of the soul being more or less obscured, the natural desire for an after life developed into a vehement passion for an immortal line of posterity. This intensified the calamity threatened by Bildad the wholesale destruction of the progeny of the wicked. Job is goaded to bitter thoughts over his own bereavement.

Verse 20

20. They that come after him… they that went before Ewald, Dillman, Zockler, read, “Men of the west;”… “Men of the east;” that is, Men of all lands; while others prefer the reading of the Authorized Version. The words קדמנים and אחרנים signify things behind and before, and may be spoken either of time or of place. The Hebrew marked the points of the compass with his face to the east; the right hand signified the south; the left, the north; before, the east; behind, the west.

His day The day of a man’s doom is his day, for it is all that remains to him.

Verse 21

21. That knoweth not God These words, last in the Hebrew also, furnish a climax a sneer at Job’s most solemn protestations. (Job 16:19.)

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 18". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/job-18.html. 1874-1909.
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