Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 12:20

"He deprives the trusted ones of speech And takes away the discernment of the elders.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   Atheism;   God;   Philosophy;   The Topic Concordance - God;   Government;   Nations;  
Dictionaries:
Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Greatness of God;   Hypocrisy;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Age;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Age, Aged, Old Age;   Job;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Age;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Age old;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Simeon B. 'Aḳ;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

He removeth away the speech of the trusty - The faithful counsellor and the eloquent orator avail nothing: Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat; "God infatuates those whom he is determined to destroy." The writer might have had his eyes on Isaiah 3:1-3, which the reader will do well to consult.

The understanding of the aged - זקנים zekenim signifies the same here as our word elders or elder-men; which includes in itself the two ideas of seniority, or considerably advanced age, and official authority. These can do no more to save a state which God designs to destroy, notwithstanding their great political wisdom and knowledge, than the child who can neither reason nor speak.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 12:20". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-12.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

He removeth away the speech of the trusty - Margin, “lip of the faithful.” “He takes away the lip,” that is, he takes away the power of giving safe counsel or good advice. The “trusty” or “faithful” here refer to those of age and experience, and on whose counsel men are accustomed to rely. The meaning here is, that their most sagacious anticipations are disappointed, their wisest schemes are foiled. They fail-in their calculations of the coarse of events, and the arrangements of Providence are such that they could not anticipate what was to occur.

The understanding of the aged - To whom the young were accustomed to look up with deference and respect. The meaning here is, that they who were accustomed to give wise and sound advice, if left by God, give vain and foolish counsels.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 12:20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-12.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Job 12:20

Taketh away the understanding of the aged.

Insanity

The text is part of an address in which Job enumerates a variety of events in which, more or less prominently, the interference of Divine providence was to be traced.

I. The peculiar dispensation which the text brings before us. Job is not stating here a general rule of the Divine procedure, but only alluding to an event of occasional occurrence.

1. The nature of the calamity referred to. It deals with the mind. The operations of the mind are deranged and disabled. This is the heaviest calamity to which human nature is subject. We cannot conceive of a more pitiable object than a man bereft of understanding.

2. The subject of the calamity. “The aged.” Not exclusively. It often overtakes persons in the meridian of life.

3. The author of the calamity. In some cases the individual himself, by evil propensities. Sometimes the loss of understanding is occasioned by the conduct of others. The Divine interference must be recognised as permitting the calamity, but in the text it is treated as the occasion of it. It may be a part of that plan which God has formed, in unerring wisdom and infinite love, as best calculated to secure the attainment of His benevolent designs.

II. Some probable reasons for which such dispensations may occur. The understanding may sometimes be taken away--

1. As a just penalty for a perverted and injurious use of the intellectual faculties. Scripture teaches that we may often calculate on the loss of a privilege as the just penalty of its abuse; nor can human reason question the propriety of this.

2. To exhibit, in the most striking manner, human frailty, and the entire dependence of all upon God Himself. We can scarcely conceive of any case which so forcibly impresses us with these truths.

3. As a means of important instruction and salutary discipline to those more immediately connected with the sufferers.

4. To show the danger of procrastination on the subject of personal religion. How many persons are satisfying themselves in a present neglect of the soul and eternity, under a determination to regard these points more seriously in advancing years! But they cannot be sure of the continued exercise of those mental faculties, the continuance of which would be essential to carrying their salutary resolutions into effect. (Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)
.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Job 12:20". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/job-12.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

He removeth away the speech of the trusty,.... Speech is proper to mankind, and a benefit unto them, whereby they can converse together, and communicate their minds to each other; this is the gift of God, he gives to men in common the faculty of speaking; to some the tongue of the learned to speak various tongues, either in an ordinary or in an extraordinary manner; and he that gives can take away; he that made man's mouth or lip can make it speechless, as he does at death; when he takes away man's breath, he takes away his speech; the state of the dead is a state of silence; and sometimes he does it while living, by striking dumb, as he did Zechariah the father of John the Baptist; and even without so doing, as in the builders of Babel, he took away the speech they had, and gave them another; and sometimes he suffers not men to speak what they would, but what is contrary to their inclinations and desires, as in Balaam, who would willingly have cursed Israel, but could not. Now that God should take away by any means the speech of liars, and faithless persons, as Ananias and Sapphira, by striking them dead, Acts 5:1; and of false teachers, deceivers, and bold blasphemers of God, and of his Son, and of the blessed Spirit, whose mouths ought to be stopped, is no wonder; but it seems strange that he should remove the speech of "trusty" or "faithful"F24לנאמנים "veracibus", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Schultens; "fidis", Mercerus, Piscator; "fidelibus", Bolducius. men, that speak the truth, and are to be credited and believed; and as the preceding words are understood of ecclesiastic persons, these may be continued concerning them; and the character agrees with ministers of the word, who are in trusted with the rich treasure of it; that is put in earthen vessels, and committed to the trust of faithful men; who appear to be such when they speak the word faithfully, declare the whole counsel of God, and keep back nothing profitable to men; when they speak plainly, without ambiguity, and sincerely, without mixing or adulterating it; and are faithful as to God, who has appointed them, and put them into the ministry, so to the souls of men under their care: now God sometimes takes away the speech of these, not by changing their voice, or ordering them, instead of the gracious promises of the Gospel, to deliver out the menaces and threatenings of the law; but either by commanding them to be dumb and silent, and speak no more to an incorrigible and rebellious people; as Ezekiel was bid to prophesy no more to the house of Israel, and the apostles to preach no more to the Jews; or by suffering them to be silenced by the edicts of wicked princes, and their violent persecutions of them, so that the teachers of men are removed into corners, and not to be seen or heard; and also by death, when their faces are no more seen, and their speech no more heard. Some, both Jewish and Christian interpreters, derive the word here used from the root נאם, "to speak", and render it "speakers" or "orators"F25"Dicendi peritis", Beza; eloquentibus, Junius & Tremellius; so Kimchi, Ramban, Ben Gersom, Ben Melech, Sephorno. ; so Mr. Broughton translates the words, "he bereaveth the orators of lip"; he takes away their eloquence from them, deprives them of their speaking well, and strips them of their natural and acquired abilities, by which they have become good speakers; and such who use their talents well in this way are beneficial to a commonwealth, and it is a loss when they are removed, or their speech removed from them, see Isaiah 3:3;

and taketh away the understanding of the aged; or "elders"F26זקנים "seniorum", Cocceius, Michaelis; "senatorum", Schultens. , as Mr. Broughton, either in age or office; elders in age, with whom understanding, reason, judgment, counsel, and wisdom, by all which the word is interpreted, may be thought to be, and it is expected they should, and oftentimes are, though not always; yet all this God can take away, and does when he pleases, and they become like children in understanding; through the infirmities of old age their memories fail them, their reason is impaired, their understanding and judgment are weakened, and they become unfit to give advice themselves, and are easily imposed on, and drawn aside by others, as may be observed in Solomon, the wisest of men, when he was grown old. This is to be understood of the natural understanding in things natural and civil, but not of the spiritual understanding, which is never taken away, but rather increased in old age; the true light of grace shines more and more unto the perfect day; it is a gift of God without repentance, which he never revokes and removes: it may intend the natural "taste"F1טעם "gustum", Drusius, Schultens. , as the word may be rendered; this is often and generally taken away from the aged, as in old Barzillai, who could not taste what he ate and drank, as to distinguish and relish it, 2 Samuel 19:35; but not the spiritual taste, of the Lord as gracious, of the good word of God, and the fruits of divine grace; the taste and savour of which remain with the people of God in old age; or this may design men in office, either civil magistrates, called senators, the elders of the people, judges, and counsellors, who instead of being taught more wisdom, which their offices require, sometimes become infatuated, their understanding of civil things is taken away from them, their wise counsels become brutish, and they like children; or ecclesiastic persons, elders of churches, who, having talents for public usefulness, either neglect them, or make an ill use of them, and therefore are taken away from them; their right arm is dried up, and their right eye darkened, Matthew 25:28.

Copyright Statement
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.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 12:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-12.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

He removeth away the speech of the l trusty, and taketh away the understanding of the aged.

(l) He causes their words to have no credit, which is when he will punish sin.
Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 12:20". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-12.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

the trusty — rather, “those secure in their eloquence”; for example, the speakers in the gate (Isaiah 3:3) [Beza].

understanding — literally, “taste,” that is, insight or spiritual discernment, which experience gives the aged. The same Hebrew word is applied to Daniel‘s wisdom in interpretation (Daniel 2:14).

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 12:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-12.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

He removeth away the speech of the trusty, and taketh away the understanding of the aged.

The speech — By taking away or restraining the gift of utterance from them. Or, by taking away their understanding which should direct their speech.

Trusty — Of those wise and experienced counsellors, that were trusted by the greatest princes.

Copyright Statement
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 12:20". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-12.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 12:20 He removeth away the speech of the trusty, and taketh away the understanding of the aged.

Ver. 20. He removeth away the speech of the trusty] Or, of the eloquent, as Demosthenes, the most eloquent of the Greeks, being by them frequently sent as an ambassador to Philip, king of Macedonia, thrice stood speechless before him, and on thirty different occasions forgot those things which he had thought to have spoken, as Tzetzes testifieth (Chiliad 7). So Latomus, of Lovain, that apostate and persecutor of the truth, having prepared an elegant oration to make to Charles V, emperor, was so confounded, that he could hardly speak a word of sense, the grief whereof broke his heart. The counsellor and the eloquent orator, the prudent and the ancient, are reckoned up as the stay and the staff, the beauty and bulwark, of a nation, Isaiah 3:2-3. These God removes at his pleasure, and, for a general judgment, causing either them to die or their abilities to die and decay, or crossing their attempts, that they shall speak persuasively, but not persuade people, but beslighted and exploded of all. Yea, though they be truth speakers ( veracium), so the Vulgate hath it, or trusty, as our translation, confiding men, as they are called, worthy to be trusted; such faithful counsellors as Polybius was to Scipio, who never miscarried in anything wherein he followed his advice, as the historian testifieth; yet God can remove or change the speech of such, by leaving them to their own unfaithfulness and inconstancy, as we have plentifully experimented in these late discriminating and shedding times.

And taketh away the understanding of the aged] Heb. And taketh the sense, or savour, or taste of the elders or senators, that they shall be no more able to discern and determine what is true or false, right or wrong, than old Barzillai could skill of the court meals and music. See this threatened Isaiah 29:14. Such old men, as either were bred scholars, or have had much experience in the management of great affairs, are presumed to be of great understanding; but God can either take such away, as he threateneth to do, Isaiah 3:3-4, or take away their wisdom, to render them useless to the public; as it is reported of Theodorus Gaza and of Albertus Magnus, those great scholars, that for certain years before they died they did so dote, and were so childish, that they could not write their own names, or read a letter on the book. Let, therefore, the eloquent and the aged take heed they abuse not their abilities, lest they forget and lose them.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 12:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-12.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Job 12:20. He removeth away the speech of the trusty He bereaveth orators of their eloquence. Heath. On the latter clause Peters observes, that when Job would set out the uncontroulable power of God to defeat all the counsels and purposes of men, one of the strongest phrases that he could find to express it by is, He taketh away the understanding of the aged; for in those early days the highest veneration possible was paid to old age.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 12:20". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/job-12.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Removeth away the speech; either,

1. By taking away or restraining the gift of utterance from them, that they should not be able to express their thoughts with such clearness and power as they used to do; which God oft doth to wise and eloquent men. Or,

2. By bringing them into such straits and troubles that they know not what to say or advise. Or,

3. By taking away their understanding, which should suggest and direct their speech, as it here follows. Or,

4. By permitting them to betray their trust, and either not to speak when they should, or to speak otherwise than they should and to use their wit and rhetoric not to direct, but to deceive, and so destroy a prince.

Of the trusty, i.e. of those wise and eloquent counsellors that were, and for their great abilities might be, trusted by the greatest princes with all their affairs.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 12:20". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-12.html. 1685.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 12:20. He removeth away the speech of the trusty — Of those wise and experienced counsellors that were trusted by the greatest princes. He either, 1st, Takes away from them the gift of utterance, or restrains them in the use of it; so that they are not able to express their thoughts with such clearness and force as they used to do. Or, 2d, He brings the affairs of their employers into such straits and difficulties, that they know not what to say or advise. Or, 3d, He takes away their understanding, which should suggest and direct their speech, as it here follows. Or, 4th, He permits them to betray their trust, and either not to speak when they ought, or to speak otherwise than they ought, and to use their understanding and eloquence, not to direct, but to deceive and so to destroy their princes and other superiors.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 12:20". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-12.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

CHAPTER XII.

Speakers. Permitting them to speak deceitfully, (Calmet) or causing their oracles to be contemned. (Haydock) --- Hebrew, "he withdraws speech from men of confidence." (Calmet) --- Neemanim, (Haydock) ambassadors or prime ministers, Numbers xii. 7. He disconcerteth the best concerted plans.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 12:20". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-12.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

the speech = the lip. Put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of Cause), App-6, for what is spoken by it.

trusty = faithful. Hebrew. "aman. See App-69. Rendered by "trust" three times in Job (Job 4:18; Job 15:15, Job 15:31).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 12:20". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/job-12.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

He removeth away the speech of the trusty, and taketh away the understanding of the aged.

He removeth away the speech of the trusty - the approved, those of approved eloquence-`those secure in their eloquence:' ex. gr., the speakers in the gate (Isaiah 3:3). (Beza.)

Understanding - literally, 'taste' - i:e., insight or spiritual discernment, which experience gives the aged. The same Hebrew word [ Ta`am (Hebrew #2940)] is applied to Daniel's wisdom in interpretation (Daniel 2:14)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 12:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-12.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

He removeth away the speech of the trusty, and taketh away the understanding of the aged.
the speech of the trusty
Heb. the lip of the faithful.
Proverbs 10:21; 12:19,22
taketh
24; 17:4; 32:9; 39:17; Isaiah 3:1-3
Reciprocal: Genesis 11:7 - confound;  Numbers 26:51 - GeneralJob 15:10 - the grayheaded;  Jeremiah 8:8 - We;  1 Corinthians 1:20 - hath

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 12:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-12.html.