Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 1:15

and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Job;   Resignation;   Sabeans;   Temptation;   Thompson Chain Reference - Job;   Sabeans;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Resignation;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Sabeans;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Arabia;   Poor;   Sheba;   Shepherd;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Animals;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Greatness of God;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Robbery;   Sabeans;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Arabia;   Robbery;   Sheba (2);   Uz;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Job, the Book of;   Sabean;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Job;   Sheba;   Uz;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Sabeans ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Sabeans;   Satan;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Sabeans;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ut;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Sabeans;   Zabii;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Sabaeans;   Sheba (1);   Uz (1);   Uz (2);   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Arabia;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Job;   Lilith;   Sabeans;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

And the Sabeans fell - The Vulgate alone understands this of a people. The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic, understand it as implying a marauding party. The Chaldee says, "Lilith, queen of Zamargad, rushed suddenly upon them, and carried them away." The Sabeans mentioned here are supposed to have been the same with those who were the descendants of Abraham by Keturah, whose son Jokshan begat Sheba. The sons of Keturah were sent by Abraham into the east, Genesis 25:6, and inhabited Arabia Deserta, on the east of the land of Uz. Hordes of predatory banditti were frequent in those countries and continue so to the present day. They made sudden incursions, and carried off men, women, children, cattle, and goods of every description; and immediately retired to the desert, whither it was in vain to pursue them.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 1:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-1.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And the Sabeans - Hebrew שׁבא shebâ' Vulgate, “Suboei.” The Septuagint gives a paraphrase, καὶ ἐλθόντες οἱ αἰχμαλωτεύοντες ἠχμαλώτευσαν kai elthonia hoi aichmalōteuontes ēchmalōteusan “And the plunderers coming, plundered them,” or made them captive. On the situation of Sheba and Seba, see Isaiah 43:3, note; Isaiah 45:14, note; Isaiah 9:6, note. The people here referred to were, undoubtedly, inhabitants of some part of Arabia Felix. There are three persons of the name of Sheba mentioned in the Scriptures.

(1) A grandson of Cush; Genesis 10:7.

(2) A son of Joktan; Genesis 10:28.

(3) A son of Jokshan, the son of Abraham by Keturah.

“Calmet.” The Sheba here referred to was probably in the southern part of Arabia, and from the narrative it is evident that the Sabeans here mentioned were a predatory tribe. It is not improbable that these tribes were in the habit of wandering for purposes of plunder over the whole country, from the banks of the Euphrates to the outskirts of Egypt. The Bedawin Arabs of the present day resemble in a remarkable manner the ancient inhabitants of Arabia, and for many centuries the manners of the inhabitants of Arabia have not changed, for the habits of the Orientals continue the same from age to age. The Syriac renders this simply, “a multitude rushed” upon them;” omitting the word “Sabean.”

Fell upon them - With violence; or rushed unexpectedly upon them. This is the way in which the Arab tribes now attack the caravan, the traveler, or the village, for plunder.

And took them away - As plunder. It is common now to make such sudden incursions, and to carry off a large booty.

They have slain the servants - Hebrew נערים na‛arı̂ym “the young men.” The word נער na‛ar properly means a “boy,” and is applied to an infant just born, Exodus 2:6; Judges 13:5, Judges 13:7; or to a youth, Genesis 34:19; Genesis 41:12. It came then to denote a servant or slave, like the Greek παῖς pais Genesis 24:2; 2 Kings 5:20; compare Acts 5:6. So the word “boy” is often used in the Southern States of North America to denote a slave. Here it evidently means the servants that were employed in cultivating the lands of Job, and keeping his cattle. There is no intimation that they were slaves. Jerome renders it “pueros, boys;” so the Septuagint τοῦς παὶδας tous paidas And I only am escaped alone - By myself, בד bad There is no other one with me. It is remarkable that the same account is given by each one of the servants who escaped, Job 1:16-17, Job 1:19. The Chaldee has given a very singular version of this - apparently from the desire of accounting for everything, and of mentioning the “names” of all the persons intended. “The oxen were plowing, and Lelath, queen of Zamargad, suddenly rushed upon them, and carried them away.”

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 1:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-1.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the Sabeans fell upon them,.... Or, "Sheba fell"F5ותפל שבא "et delapsa est Seba", Montanus, Bolducius; "et irruit Sheba", Schmidt, Cocceius. ; that is, as Aben Ezra and Simeon Bar Tzemach supply it, an host of the Sabeans, or a company of them; these were not the descendants of that Sheba that sprung from Ham, Genesis 10:7 nor of him that came from Shem, Genesis 10:28, but from Sheba, the son of Jokshan, a son of Abraham by Keturah, who with the rest of her sons were sent into the east country, the country of Job; and these Sabeans, who descended from the same, were his near neighbours, Genesis 25:3, they were the inhabitants of one of the Arabias, it is generally said Arabia Felix; but that is not likely, since it was a very plentiful country, the inhabitants of which had no need to rob and plunder others; and besides was at a great distance from the place of Job's habitation, and lay to the south, and not the east; though StraboF6Geograph. l. 16. p. 536. indeed says, that the Sabeans inhabited Arabia Felix, and made excursions into Syria, which agrees with these Sabeans; but rather Arabia Deserta, as SpanheimF7Histor. Jobi, c. 3. sect. 12. p. 44, &c. has abundantly proved, a barren place; hence we read of Sabeans from the wilderness, Ezekiel 23:42, the inhabitants of which lived upon the plunder of others; and these being naturally given to spoil and rapine, were fit persons for Satan to work upon, as he does in the children of disobedience; into whose hearts he put it to make such a descent on Job's fields, and carry off his cattle, as they did; they fell upon his oxen and asses at once and unawares, in a body, in an hostile and furious manner:

and took them away; as a booty; they did not kill them, but drove them off the ground, and led them into their own country for their use and service:

yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; who were ploughing with the oxen, and looking after the asses, and who might make an opposition, though in vain; this was an addition to affliction, that not only his cattle were carried off, but his servants were slain, who were born in his house, or bought with his money:

and I only am escaped alone to tell thee; this single servant was preserved, either by the special providence of God, in kindness to Job, that he might know of a certainty, and exactly, and what had befallen him, and how it came to pass, which men are naturally desirous of; or else, as it is generally thought, through the malice and cunning of Satan, that the tidings might the sooner be brought to him, and more readily be believed by him, and strike him with the greater surprise, a servant of his own running with it, whom he knew, and could believe; and he appearing with the utmost concern of mind, and horror in his countenance.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 1:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-1.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And the x Sabeans fell [upon them], and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

(x) That is, the Arabians.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 1:15". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-1.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Sabeans — not those of Arabia-Felix, but those of Arabia-Deserta, descending from Sheba, grandson of Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:3). The Bedouin Arabs of the present day resemble, in marauding habits, these Sabeans (compare Genesis 16:12).

I alone am escaped — cunningly contrived by Satan. One in each case escapes (Job 1:16, Job 1:17, Job 1:19), and brings the same kind of message. This was to overwhelm Job, and leave him no time to recover from the rapid succession of calamities - “misfortunes seldom come single.”

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 1:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-1.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Sabeans — A people of Arabia, who led a wandering life, and lived by robbery and spoil.

I — Whom Satan spared, that Job might have speedy and certain intelligence of his calamity.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Job 1:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-1.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 1:15 And the Sabeans fell [upon them], and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Ver. 15. And the Sabeans fell upon them] i.e. The Arabians, a thievish people, that lived by rapine and robbery, Sabaei apud poetas molles vocantur; With the poets, the Sabeans were called effeminate, but Satan set them awork. They are at this day called Saracens, of Sarac, to rob; for they keep up their old trade, and are not all out so good as those Circassians, a kind of mongrel Christians who are said to divide their life between sin and devotion; dedicating their youth to rapine, and their old age to repentance.

Yea, they have slain the servants] Heb. The young men; for εργα νεων, &c., Iuniores ad labores, junior men to work. It was happy, howsoever, that they were taken away when in their lawful calling, and about their honest employments. Elijah chose to be taken in such a posture; for he knew the very time; and yet when the chariots of heaven came to fetch him up he was going and talking to his scholar Elisha. The busy attendance on our holy vocation is no less pleasing to God, or safe for us to die upon, than an immediate devotion. Happy is that servant whom the Master, when he cometh, shall find so doing.

And I only am escaped alone to tell thee] For no other cause escaped this one, this single one, but to add to Job’s affliction. There was no mercy in such a sparing; it was that Job might have the ill news brought him suddenly and certainly. That old manslayer had so contrived it for the greater mischief.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 1:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-1.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The Sabeans; a people of Arabia, who led a wandering life, and lived by robbery and spoiling of others, as Strabo and other heathen writers note.

I only am escaped alone to tell thee; whom Satan spared no less maliciously than he destroyed the rest, that Job might have speedy and certain intelligence of his calamity.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 1:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-1.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15.The Sabeans — In the original, Sheba; the name of the country, for its inhabitants. In broken and startling language he cries, “Sheba fell and took them.” Three races bearing the name Sabean are mentioned in Genesis: the one in the line of Cush, (Job 10:7,) the second of Joktan, (Job 10:28,) and the third in that of Abraham by Keturah, (Job 25:3.) The Sabeans of our text were of the last-named lineage, and as a nomadic tribe occupied the country south-east of Uz; that part of Arabia Deserts stretching from the Persian Gulf to Idumea — the home of Job. A similar state of lawlessness prevails throughout that entire country at the present time. “Wealth among the Arabs is extremely precarious, and the most rapid changes of fortune are daily experienced. The bold incursions of robbers and sudden attacks of hostile parties reduce, in a few days, the richest man to a state of beggary; and we may venture to say there are not many fathers of families who have escaped such disasters.” — BURCKHARDT, Bedawin, 1:81.

They have slain the servants — Ne’harim sometimes signifies children and young men as well as servants. A large body of men, in the pride of their manhood, through the malice of one being are put to the edge of the sword. “We must not here think of the paid day-labourer of the Syrian towns, or the servants of our landed proprietors, — they are unknown on the borders of the desert. The hand that toils has there a direct share in the gain; the workers belong to the aulad, — ’children of the house,’ — and are so called; in the hour of danger they will risk their life for their lord. This rustic labour is always undertaken simultaneously by all the quarterers, (so called from their receiving a fourth part of the harvest for their labour, the ustad meantime providing instruments of agriculture, and for the shelter and board of the ‘quarterers,’) for the sake of order, since the ustad, or in his absence, the village sheik, has the general work of the following day announced from the roof of his house every evening. Thus it is explained how the five hundred ploughmen could be together in one and the same district and be slain all together.” — WETZSTEIN in Delitzsch, 2:418.

And I only — Each of these four messengers represents himself to be the sole survivor of the dire calamity, and this has been objected against the historical character of the book. The author, it is to be remarked, however, gives us the message as they delivered it. Nothing would be more natural in the midst of the confusion and terror attending the apparently general destruction, than for each one to suppose himself alone to have escaped. It may have been a part of the diabolic machination that each should close his message in the same manner, in order to give to the series of calamities the unmistakable cast of a divine judgment.

Chrysostom indulges in the conceit that Satan repented of the first message because of the prominence given to the deeds of men. Job might still solace himself with the thought that God is not against him. Hence the startling opening of the next message — the fire of God!!

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 1:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-1.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Sabeans, descended from Abraham, in the desert (Calmet) or happy Arabia. These nations lived on plunder. (Pliny, [Natural History?] vi. 28.) (Menochius)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 1:15". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-1.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

the Sabeans. Hebrew Sheba. Put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of the Subject), for the people of Sheba. Compare Job 6:19. Isaiah 60:6.

servants = young men.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 1:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/job-1.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Sabeans - not those of Arabia Felix, but those of Arabia Deserta, descending from Sheba, grandson of Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:3). The Bedouin Arabs of the present day resemble, in marauding habits, these Sabeans (cf. Genesis 16:12). The Sabeans of Arabia Felix were mercantile (Job 6:19), not marauding in their habits. Perhaps "Sabeans" is used for Arabians in general (cf. Isaiah 13:20; Jeremiah 3:2).

I only am escaped. Cunningly contrived by Satan. One in each case escapes (Job 1:16-17; Job 1:19), and brings the same kind of message. This was to overwhelm Job, and leave him no time to recover from the rapid succession of calamities-`misfortunes seldom come single.'

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 1:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-1.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(15) The Sabeans.—Literally, Sheba. Three persons named Sheba are found in Genesis: (1) The son of Raamah and grandson of Cush (Genesis 10:7); (2) the son of Jokshan and grandson of Abraham (Genesis 25:3); (3) The son of Joktanand grandson of Eber (Genesis 10:28). It is probably the second who is referred to here, whose descendants led a predatory and marauding kind of life in the country bordering on that of Job. (Comp. Ezekiel 38:13.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 1:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-1.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
Sabeans
Genesis 10:7,28; 25:3; Psalms 72:10; Isaiah 45:14; Ezekiel 23:42; Joel 3:8
and I only
16,17,19; 1 Samuel 22:20,21
Reciprocal: Genesis 14:13 - one;  Genesis 34:28 - GeneralDeuteronomy 28:31 - ox;  2 Samuel 1:3 - am I;  Job 5:5 - the robber;  Job 16:7 - hast made;  Job 18:9 - robber;  Job 19:16 - my servant;  Job 20:22 - every hand;  Job 24:2 - violently;  Ezekiel 24:26 - GeneralEzekiel 27:23 - Sheba;  Hosea 6:9 - as troops

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 1:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-1.html.