Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 11:20

"But the eyes of the wicked will fail, And there will be no escape for them; And their hope is to breathe their last."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Confidence;   Hope;   Punishment;   Righteous;   Wicked (People);   Thompson Chain Reference - Disappointment;   Expectation-Disappointment;   False;   Hope;   Hopes, False;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Hope;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Zophar;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Greatness of God;   Hypocrisy;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Ghost;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Job, the Book of;   Soul;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ghost;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Fail;   Ghost;   Psychology;   Zophar;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Asenath;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The eyes of the wicked shall fail - They shall be continually looking out for help and deliverance; but their expectation shall be cut off.

And they shall not escape - They shall receive the punishment due to their deserts; for God has his eye continually upon them. אבד ומנוס מנהם umanos abad minnehem, literally, "And escape perishes from them." Flight from impending destruction is impossible.

And their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost - נפש מפח ותקותם vethikratham mappach naphesh, "And their hope an exhalation of breath," or a mere wish of the mind. They retain their hope to the last; and the last breath they breathe is the final and eternal termination of their hope. They give up their hope and their ghost together; for a vain hope cannot enter into that place where shadow and representation exist not; all being substance and reality. And thus endeth Zophar the Naamathite; whose premises were in general good, his conclusions legitimate, but his application of them to Job's case totally erroneous; because he still proceeded on the ground that Job was a wicked man, if not ostensibly, yet secretly; and that the sufferings he was undergoing were the means by which God was unmasking him to the view of men. But, allowing that Job had been a bad man, the exhortations of Zophar were well calculated to enforce repentance and excite confidence in the Divine mercy. Zophar seems to have had a full conviction of the all-governing providence of God; and that those who served him with an honest and upright heart would be ever distinguished in the distribution of temporal good. He seems however to think that rewards and punishments were distributed in this life, and does not refer, at least very evidently, to a future state. Probably his information on subjects of divinity did not extend much beyond the grave; and we have much cause to thank God for a clearer dispensation. Deus nobis haec otia fecit. God grant that we may make a good use of it!

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 11:20". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-11.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

But the eyes of the wicked shall fail - That is, they shall be wearied out by anxiously looking for relief from their miseries. “Noyes.” Their expectation shall be vain, and they shall find no relief. Perhaps Zophar here means to apply this to Job, and to say to him that with his present views and character, his hope of relief would fail. His only hope of relief was in a change - in turning to God - since it was a settled maxim that the wicked would look for relief in vain. This assumption that he was a wicked man, must have been among the most trying things that Job had to endure. Indeed nothing could he more provoking than to have others take it for granted as a matter that did not admit of argument, that he was a hypocrite, and that God was dealing with him as an incorrigible sinner.

And they shall not escape - Margin, “Flight shall perish from them.” The margin is a literal translation of the Hebrew. The sense is, escape for the wicked is out of the question. They must be arrested and punished.

And their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost - literally, “the breathing out of the life or soul.” Their hope shall leave them as the breath or life does the body. It is like death. The expression does not mean that their hope would always expire at death, but that it would certainly expire as life leaves the body. The meaning is, that whatever hope a wicked man has of future happiness and salvation, must fail. The time must come when it will cease to comfort and support him. The hope of the pious man lives until it is lost in fruition in heaven. It attends him in health; supports him in sickness; is with him at home; accompanies him abroad; cheers him in solitude; is his companion in society; is with him as he goes down into the shades of adversity, and it brightens as he travels along the valley of the shadow of death. It stands as a bright star over his grave - and is lost only in the glories of heaven, as the morning star is lost in the superior brightness of the rising sun. Not so the hypocrite and the sinner. His hope dies - and he leaves the world in despair. Sooner or later the last ray of his delusive hopes shall take its departure from the soul, and leave it to darkness. No matter how bright it may have been; no matter how long he has cherished it; no matter on what it is founded - whether on his morals, his prayers, his accomplishments, his learning; if it be not based on true conversion, and the promised mercy of God through a Redeemer, it must; soon cease to shine, and will leave the soul to the gloom of black despair.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 11:20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-11.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Job 11:20

But the eyes of the wicked shall fail . . . and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.

The doom of the wicked

1. Here is the loss of energy. “The eyes of the wicked shall fail.” The soul’s eyes gone, and the spiritual universe is midnight.

2. Here is the loss of safety. “They shall not escape.” All efforts directed to safety utterly fruitless.

3. Here is the loss of hope. “Their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.” The idea is that the loss of hope is like death, the separation of the soul from the body. What the soul is to the body, the dominant hope is to the soul, the inspirer of its energies and the spring of its being. The loss of the dominant hope is like death in two respects.

Delusive hopes of ungodly men

Like many a sick man that I have known in the beginning of a consumption, or some grievous disease, they hope there is no danger in it; or they hope it will go away of itself, and it is but some cold; or they hope that such and such medicine will cure it, till they are past hope, and then they must give up these hopes and their lives together, whether they will or no. Just so do poor wretches by their souls. They know that all is not well with them, but they hope God is merciful, that He will not condemn them; or they hope to be converted sometime hereafter; or they hope that less ado may serve their turn, and that their good wishes and prayers may save their souls; and thus in these hopes they hold on, till they find themselves to be past remedy, and their hopes and they be dead together. There is scarcely a greater hindrance of conversion than these false, deceiving hopes of sinners. (R. Baxter.)
.

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Job 11:20". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/job-11.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But the eyes of the wicked shall fail,.... Either through grief and envy at Job's prosperity, and with looking for his fall into troubles again; or rather through expectation of good things for themselves, and for deliverance out of trouble, but all in vain; see Lamentations 4:17;

and they shall not escape; afflictions and calamities in this life, nor the righteous judgment, nor wrath to come: or, "refuge shall perish from them"F1ומנוס אבד מנהם "et refugium peribit ab eis", Pagninus, Montanus, Bolducius; "perfugium", Junius & Tremellius; "effugium", Mercerus, Cocceius, Schmidt, Schultens. ; there will be none to betake themselves unto for safety; in vain will they seek it from men; refuge will fail them, and no man care for them; and in vain will they fly to rocks and mountains to fall upon them:

and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost; it is with them as when a man is just expiring, and it is all over with him, and there is no hope of his reviving; so the hope of wicked men is a dying hope, a lost hope; it is not hope, but despair; their hope is gone, and they are lost and undone; and if they retain their hope in life, when they come to die they have none; though the righteous has hope in his death, their hope dies with them, if not before them: or, "their hope is the giving up of the ghost"F2"Spes vel expectatio eorum est, vel erit efflatio animae", Mercerus, Cocceius. ; all they have to hope and wish for is death, to relieve them from their present troubles and agonies they are in; and sometimes are left amidst their guilt, despair, and horror, to destroy themselves: now Zophar by all this would suggest, that should not Job take his advice, he would appear to be such a wicked man, whose eyes would fail for his own help, and would not escape the judgments of God here and hereafter, and would die without hope, in black despair; or at least without any hope that would be of any avail.

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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 11:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-11.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

But the eyes k of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope [shall be as] the giving up of the ghost.

(k) He shows that contrary things will come to them who do not repent.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 11:20". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-11.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

A warning to Job, if he would not turn to God.

The wicked — that is, obdurate sinners.

eyes  …  fail — that is, in vain look for relief (Deuteronomy 28:65). Zophar implies Job‘s only hope of relief is in a change of heart.

they shall not escape — literally, “every refuge shall vanish from them.”

giving up of the ghost — Their hope shall leave them as the breath does the body (Proverbs 11:7).

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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 11:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-11.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.

Fail — Either with grief and tears for their sore calamities: or with long looking for what they shall never attain.

Their hope — They shall never obtain deliverance out of their distresses, but shall perish in them.

Ghost — Shall be as vain and desperate as the hope of life is in a man, when he is at the very point of death.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Job 11:20". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-11.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 11:20 But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope [shall be as] the giving up of the ghost.

Ver. 20. But the eyes of the wicked shall fail] Contraries illustrate one another; and Zophar, willing his words should stick and work, thinks to leave a sting in Job’s mind by telling him what he must trust to if he persist in his sin. And first, his eyes shall fail. The eye is a principal part of the body; and the failing of the eyes followeth either upon some sudden fright or upon much weeping, Lamentations 1:2, Psalms 38:1-22, Psalms 88:1-18. (we read of one Faustus, son of Vortigem, king of Britain, who wept out his eyes), or too long looking after the same thing, or on the same object. Ut vehementius vellicet et fodiat inopinatum, ut putabat Iobi, animum (Merl., Speed.). The wicked, saith Zophar, shall never lach frights and griefs; they shall also look many a long look after help, but none shall appear, Lamentations 4:17; their hopes shall be fruitless, their projects successless.

And they shall not escape] Heb. Refuge or flight shall perish from them; miseries and mischiefs they shall never be able to avert or avoid. "Many sorrows shall be to the wicked," Psalms 32:10; and although they may think to get off or outrun them, yet it will not be, Amos 2:14, Psalms 142:4. Saul for instance: God hath forsaken me, saith he, and the Philistines are upon me, 1 Samuel 28:15.

Their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost] Broughton rendereth it, Their hope is nought but pangs of the soul. Of that which yieldeth but cold comfort we use to say, It comforteth a man like the pangs of death. The Vulgate hath it, Their hope shall be the abomination of their soul; the Tigurine, Their hope shall be most vain, even as a puff of breath, which presently passeth away, and cometh to nothing. Some Rabbis make this the sense, Their hope shall be as the snuffing of the breath; that is, they shall be so angry at their disappointments, that they shall vex and snuff at it. According to our translation, the wicked man’s hope is set forth as utterly forlorn, and at an end for any good ever to befall him. The godly man’s hope is lively, 1 Peter 1:8, and the righteous hath hope in his death, Proverbs 14:32 Cum expiro spero, when I die I have hope, is his motto; whereas the wicked’s word when he dieth is, or may be, Spes et fortuna valete, Farewell hope and fortune, My life and hope endeth together. Spes eorum expiratione animae, so Tremellius rendereth the text. Death causeth in the wicked a total despair, and a most dreadful screek giveth the guilty soul, when it seeth itself launching into an infinite ocean of scalding lead, and considereth that therein it must swim naked for ever.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 11:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-11.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Job 11:20. The eyes of the wicked shall fail i.e. "Their hope shall be deferred and utterly disappointed." The latter clause נפשׁ מפח ותקותם מנהם אבד ומנוס umanos abad minnehem, vethikvatham mappach napesh, is literally, flight perisheth from them, and their hope, the expiation of life. There is the utmost virulence in this conclusion. Job had expressed his earnest desire that God would put an end to his life: this Zophar objects against him, as a certain proof his being a bad man; supposing it to proceed from a consciousness of guilt, which would not permit him to hope for any favour from God. Heath.

REFLECTIONS.—With eyes sparkling with indignation, at seeing all the former arguments slighted and ineffectual, Zophar, the third, replies.

1. He opens his speech with much insolence and abuse. Far from admitting any part of Job's vindication of himself to be either true or pertinent, he treats him as a mere babbler, who pretended by a multitude of words to make a shew of wisdom; gives the lie to his assertions of his integrity, and brands him as mocking God in such appeals to his omniscience. Note; (1.) Controversy of every kind usually produces unbecoming warmth; but, in religious controversy, to be abusive and passionate is, though too common, particularly indecent and sinful. (2.) When there is a disposition to find fault, the most inoffensive words, the most reasonable discourse, will afford a handle for malevolence. (3.) We need not account it strange to be treated unmercifully, when we see so good a man thus abused by his nearest friends. (4.) Though some may be so rude as to give us the lie, and others so wicked as to brand those with meanness who do not shew their resentment, the grace of God teaches a different lesson, and bids us overcome evil with good.

2. Zophar had called Job liar, and, lo! his first charge against him appears to be itself a falsehood; so sure it is, that the first to give the lie is usually the most guilty, and abuse is a sad symptom of a bad cause. Job had maintained his integrity; but had acknowledged withal, that, though no hypocrite, or wicked man, he was a sinner, and therefore in God's sight worthy of condemnation.

3. He wishes God to take up the controversy, since their arguments seemed fruitless, concluding that he must be on their side; though, alas! they who most solemnly appeal to him are often very far from being most in the right. Of two things Zophar wished God to convince Job 1. The unsearchable depths of his wisdom, that they are double to that which is in man, who shews only his own weakness and wickedness when he attempts to arraign what he cannot comprehend. 2. The unexceptionable equity of his procedure; far from exacting more than our iniquity deserves, his chastisements are less than our provocations. Note; (1.) Men may speak great truths, though they may draw very wrong inferences from them. (2.) A sense of our own blindness should ever make us silent under God's afflictive dispensations; though we know not how, there is wisdom, yea, and mercy in them. (3.) It is certain, that every man, while he is out of hell, has less than his iniquities deserve; and has cause, therefore, to praise God for his mercy, and cheerfully to submit to whatever burden is laid upon him.

2nd, In our present fallen state we can comprehend so little either of the Divine perfections or providence, that to pretend to find fault with them were the extreme of arrogance and folly. Zophar here,

1. Displays God's incomprehensibility, sovereignty, and omniscience, as arguments to silence Job's plea before him. His infinite perfections are beyond our most enlarged and persevering researches; the more we labour to comprehend his immensity, eternity, &c. the more shall we be lost in the contemplation, and forced to cry, O the depth, &c. Romans 11:33. His Sovereignty who shall control: if he cut off by death and judgments, or make a change in his dealings with any person or family, (as in Job's case) yea, should he reduce to its primitive nothing the whole created universe, who can say unto him, What dost thou? not that God, to display his sovereignty, makes his creatures miserable: infinite wisdom and justice mark all his ways. He knoweth vain men, he seeth wickedness; however closely covered or concealed, he detects the vain pretence; Will he not then consider it? yes, and visit such persons with the judgments which they have provoked. Note; (1.) Every view of the divine perfections should humble us before God. (2.) From him nothing is hidden: how should this consideration engage our watchfulness against the most secret desire of evil within our hearts!

2. He represents man as vain in his imaginations, affecting to be wise, though born stupid as the wild ass's colt, and like that animal stubborn and untractable. Note; (1.) Man is by nature proud, and wise in his own conceits; ever since the first man, by affecting forbidden wisdom, fell, all his posterity have imitated his sin. (2.) Pride ever makes a man untractable; they who have a high opinion of themselves are usually above advice.

3rdly, Zophar concludes his speech with sound advice; but evidently intimates his conviction that Job's afflictions proceed from his secret sins, which, if not parted with, must provoke his utter ruin.

1. His advice is, to prepare his heart by serious reflection, and, setting before himself the humbling views of his sin, to stretch out his hands in penitent prayer for mercy, to put away iniquity from his hand, allowed sin, and to purge out wickedness from his tabernacles, which he seems to intimate he had allowed or connived at. Note; The sins of his houshold are chargeable on the negligent master, and God will more or less require them at his hands.

2. He supports his counsel by a variety of considerations evincing the comfort that would accrue to Job from following it: For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot before God and man, who would regard him with favour; thou shalt be steadfast, fixed in prosperity, and shalt not fear such aweful changes as of late he had beheld. Because thou shalt forget thy misery; the comforts restored will obliterate the remembrance of past calamities; and remember it as waters that pass away; if they are reflected upon, they will vanish as the brook dried up in summer; and thine age shall be clearer than the noon-day, thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning; though clouds and darkness of affliction had covered him, these in his age should be dispelled; comfort and joy, as the light at noon, should cheer his future day, and his evening sun shine bright as the splendour of the morning. And thou shalt be secure, confident in the mercy of God, because there is hope of God's returning favour. Yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and fix a durable mansion, or find wells of water for his cattle, or be secured as in an intrenchment; and thou shalt take thy rest in safety, no danger being near to terrify or disturb: thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid; yea, many shall make suit to thee; thou shalt be more honoured and courted than now thou art slighted and despised. Note; (1.) When we have returned to God in faith and humble prayer, we may be confident of his favour. (2.) If God establishes us, we need not fear what all the powers of evil can do against us.

3. He describes the miserable end of the ungodly: The eyes of the wicked shall fail, while looking after relief in vain, and they shall not escape from the hand of God's judgments, and their hope shall be desperate, and the disappointment terrible, as the giving up of the ghost. And such he seems to insinuate would be Job's case, if, rejecting the admonitions of his friends, he continued proudly and falsely to vindicate himself, while his sins remained. Note; (1.) If not before, in death at least, the vain confidence of the wicked and self-righteous expires. (2.) There is no escaping God's judgments; they who will not turn must burn.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 11:20". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/job-11.html. 1801-1803.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

REFLECTIONS

READER! how happy is it for you and for me, that we live under a brighter dispensation, than Job's counselors, and are taught by him in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Yes! blessed JESUS! thou hast taught that great afflictions not only may abound among those whom GOD loveth, but that heavy trials and temptations, when found in the path of godliness, are rather testimonies vine favor. Thou hast said thyself; As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. I beseech thee, therefore, blessed Master, that I may eye thee in every dispensation, and then sure I am, that I shall discover love at the bottom of all thine appointments, and wisdom guiding and regulating all. My JESUS, while he governs as my GOD, will never forget that he is also my Saviour, my brother, my husband, my friend. And if such views as these, will not stop the voice of complaint, nothing will. And dearest, blessed Master, while I thus beseech thee to grant me grace and strength equal to my day, that I may be always on the lookout for thy wise and loving government in all things: yet when it shall please thee, as most suited to thy good will and pleasure, to hide from me thy plan, and as with Job, things are mysterious, and discouraging; yet even then, blessed LORD, never, oh never, remit the communications of thy grace within, that faith may be in lively exercise, and that I may find strength from thee, to trust thee when I cannot trace thee. Let the storm from without beat ever so violently, yet if my JESUS support the roof within, my poor frail tabernacle will not fall. Oh! for the sweet consolations and lovely teachings of JESUS, by his SPIRIT, that I may be able to say, at the worst of times, I see enough of JESUS in this dispensation, to be assured it is in his appointment! It must therefore be among the all things which work together for good. It shall be well. I shall wade through this affliction, as I have, by the LORD'S leading me, through many before. Here then, blessed LORD, I will rest. Though I see thee not in all these providences of thine, it is enough that thou seest me? and art not only looking on, but tempering my trials to my strength, and hast promised to stay thy tough wind in the day of thy east wind. Though, like the disciples, my soul may fear as I enter the cloud, yet JESUS will be there, and he will shine out, and shine through all. By and by, every intervening cloud will be forever taken out of the way; and he that is now my GOD and my salvation, will be my everlasting light, my GOD, and my glory.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Job 11:20". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/job-11.html. 1828.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Fail; or be consumed; either with grief and fears for their sore calamities; or with long looking for what they shall never attain, as this phrase is taken, Psalms 69:3 Jeremiah 14:6 Lamentations 4:17. And this shall be thy condition, O Job, if thou persistest in thine impiety.

They shall not escape; they shall never obtain deliverance out of their distresses, but shall perish in them.

As the giving up of the ghost, i.e. shall be as vain and desperate as the hope of life is in a man, when he is at the very point of death. Or, as a puff of breath, which is gone in a moment without all hopes of recovery.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 11:20". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-11.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

20.They shall not escape Refuge vanishes from them. Like “the fleeing shores of Italy,” it is in sight, but never reached.

The giving up of the ghost — Or, The breathing forth of life. The downfall of the wicked is beyond recovery. Zophar seems to advert to Job’s ardent desire for death, (Job 6:9;) as if he would say, thus the wicked die; and thus, without repentance, Job will die. The sting of the scorpion was in the tail, Revelation 9:10; the last words of this address are tipped with a sting, its climax of bitterness is now reached. “Eliphaz barely appended a slight warning; Bildad briefly blends it with his promise by way of contrast; Zophar adds a verse which already looks like the advanced picket of an army of similar harsh menacers in chaps. 15, 18, 20.” — Ewald.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 11:20". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-11.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 11:20. The eyes of the wicked shall fail — Either through grief and tears for their sore calamities, or with long looking for what they shall never attain. Failing of the eyes is one of those expressions in Scripture to be admired for its beauteous simplicity. It represents a very eager and passionate desire to obtain that which we are in pursuit of: and, at the same time, the great uneasiness which must unavoidably follow from a disappointment. One of the appeals which Job makes, in vindication of his integrity, is, that he had not caused the eyes of the widow to fail, chap. Job 31:16; that he had not frustrated her expectations when she applied to him for relief and assistance in her distress. The psalmist writes, Mine eyes fail while I wait for my God, Psalms 69:3. They shall not escape — Hebrew, מנושׂ אבד, manos abad, flight perishes from them, or safety leaves them. This is another of those elegant Scripture phrases which suggests to us the strongest efforts made by a guilty person to escape punishment; but fainting and sinking by the way, through fatigue and weariness, and failing of attaining his purpose. The Prophet Jeremiah uses the same phraseology with regard to the shepherds, or principal men among the Jews, Jeremiah 25:35; which is literally, Flight shall perish from the shepherds. Compare Amos 2:14, where the exact and literal translation of the Hebrew is given: Flight shall perish from the swift. Their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost — Shall be as vain and desperate as the hope of life is in a man when he is at the very point of death. Shall be as a puff of breath, as the margin reads it; gone in a moment without any hope of recovery. Or their hope shall perish, as a man doth with respect to this world, when he gives up the ghost; it will fail them when they have most need of it; and, when they expected the accomplishment of it, it will die away and leave them in utter confusion.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 11:20". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-11.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Soul, because hope deferred causeth pain to the soul, Proverbs xiii. 12. (Menochius) --- Hebrew, "their hope shall be the sorrow, or the breathing out of the soul." (Calmet) --- Protestants, "the giving up of the ghost." Marginal note, "a puff of breath," chap. xviii. 14. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 11:20". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-11.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

However if Job refused to repent then any hope he had would die with him. "These first speeches of Job"s compatriots offered no comfort. Though their generalities about God"s goodness, justice, and wisdom were true, their cruel charge that Job repent of some hidden sin missed the mark. They failed to see that God sometimes has other reasons for human suffering" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 733).

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Bibliographical Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 11:20". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-11.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

wicked = lawless. Hebrew. rasha". App-44.

ghost = breath. Hebrew. nephesh. App-13.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 11:20". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/job-11.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.

But the eyes of the wicked shall fail. A warning to Job, if he would not turn to God.

The wicked - i:e., obdurate sinners.

Eyes ... fail - i:e., in vain look for relief (Deuteronomy 28:65). Zophar implies Job's only hope of relief is in a change of heart.

They shall not escape - literally, 'every refuge shall vanish from them.' So Psalms 142:4, 'Refuge perished from me,' margin.

Their hope shall be as the giving up the ghost - their hope shall leave them as the breath does the body. "When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish" (Proverbs 11:7).

Remarks:

(1) If we desire the good of him whom we would reprove, we must speak meekly and lovingly, not with exaggeration, harshness, and injustice. If Job used, so he had done, a "multitude of words," love might have suggested that it was not without some palliation: his sufferings were many and acute. To have recognized this in the first instance, as well as his past integrity of character, would have prepared the way for reproving him in those respects wherein his present temper and words were really reprehensible.

(2) Not "the multitude of words" but the power of the Holy Spirit, can assure any man of his justification (1 Thess (2) Not "the multitude of words" but the power of the Holy Spirit, can assure any man of his justification (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Man's protestations of his own purity and cleanness (Job 11:4) only ensure his condemnation. His true wisdom is to hasten before the throne of mercy with full acknowledgment of his guilt and uncleanness.

(3) However severe our trials be, we may take one thing as sure, namely, that God always "exacteth less of" us than our "iniquity deserveth" (Job 11:6).

(4) We are too apt to form our estimate of sin in general, and of our own sin in particular, by the low standard of our own intellectual and mortal comprehensions. The antidote to this tendency is that we should call to mind the infinitude of God's wisdom (Job 11:7, etc.), and the far-searching ken of His omniscience, which sees sin in man where man himself suspects none. Our wisdom is to cry to God, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalms 139:23-24).

(5) Man, by nature "empty," and wild (spiritually) as the wild ass' colt is physically, ceases from his folly when he turns to God with uplifted hands and prepared heart (Job 11:13; Lamentations 3:41): but in doing so he must see that no iniquity still cleave to his hand, and no wickedness be harboured in his dwelling (Job 11:14): for if we regard iniquity in our heart-and we must do so if we suffer it externally in our hands or dwelling-the Lord will not hear us.

(6) All good things, here imperfectly, hereafter perfectly, shall be the portion of him who walks closely with God. The believer can "lift up his face without spot" to God, as a reconciled Father, in trust. Fear gives place to love. Soon former troubles shall be for ever forgotten (Job 11:16), or only remembered to enhance the joy of present salvation: "The righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matthew 13:43; Job 11:17); and whereas "the hope of the wicked shall be as the giving up of the ghost," the godly shall rest in secure blessedness forever.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 11:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-11.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(20) As the giving up of the ghost.—Omit the as of comparison; or do so, and take the margin. Thus ends the first part of this mighty argument, the first fytte of this grand poem.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 11:20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.
the eyes
31:16; Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:65; Psalms 69:3; Lamentations 4:17
they shall not escape
Heb. flight shall perish from them.
Amos 2:14; 5:19,20; 9:1-3; Hebrews 2:3
their hope
8:13,14; 18:14; 27:8; Proverbs 10:24; 20:20; Luke 16:23-26
the giving up of the ghost
or, a puff of breath. Reciprocal: Exodus 14:25 - Let us flee;  Deuteronomy 28:32 - fail;  Joshua 8:20 - and they had;  Job 10:18 - given up;  Job 14:10 - man;  Proverbs 10:28 - but;  Proverbs 11:7 - GeneralProverbs 12:7 - wicked;  Jeremiah 25:35 - the shepherds

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 11:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-11.html.