Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 15:20

"The wicked man writhes in pain all his days, And numbered are the years stored up for the ruthless.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   Wicked (People);   Thompson Chain Reference - Comfort-Misery;   Misery;   Sin;   Sin's;   Sinners;   Wicked, the;   The Topic Concordance - Destruction;   Opposition;   Wickedness;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Afflictions of the Wicked, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Eliphaz;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Greatness of God;   Hypocrisy;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Job, the Book of;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Bosses;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Hidden;   Pain;   Travail;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The wicked man travaileth with pain - This is a most forcible truth: a life of sin is a life of misery; and he that Will sin Must suffer. One of the Targums gives it a strange turn: - "All the days of the ungodly Esau, he was expected to repent, but he did not repent; and the number of years was hidden from the sturdy Ishmael." The sense of the original, מתחולל mithcholel, is he torments himself: he is a true heautontimoreumenos, or self-tormentor; and he alone is author of his own sufferings, and of his own ruin.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 15:20". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-15.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Travaileth with pain - That is, his sorrows are like the pains of parturition. Eliphaz means to say that he is a constant sufferer.

All his days - It seems difficult to see how they could have ever formed this universal maxim. It is certainly not literally true now; nor was it ever. But in order to convey the doctrine that the wicked would be punished in as pointed and striking a manner as possible, it was made to assume this universal form - meaning that the life of the wicked would be miserable. There is some reason to think that this and what follows to the close of the chapter, is an ancient fragment which Eliphaz rehearses as containing the sentiments of a purer age of the world.

And the number of years is hidden to the oppressor - Wemyss renders this, “and a reckoning of years is laid up for the violent.” So, also, Dr. Good. The Vulgate renders it, “and the number of the years of his tyranny is uncertain.” Rosenmuller, Cocceius, Drusius, and some others suppose that there should be understood here and repeated the clause occurring in the first hemistich, and that it means, “and in the number of years which are laid up for the violent man, he is tortured with pain.” Luther renders it, “and to a tyrant is the number of his years concealed.” It is difficult to tell what the passage means. To me, the most probable interpretation is one which I have not met with in any of the books which I have consulted, and which may be thus expressed,” the wicked man will be tormented all his days.” To one who is an oppressor or tyrant, the number of his years is hidden. He has no security of life. He cannot calculate with any certainty on its continuance. The end is hid. A righteous man may make some calculation, and can see the probable end of his days. He may expect to see an honored old age. But tyrants are so often cut down suddenly; they so frequently perish by assassination, and robbers are so often unexpectedly overcome, that there is no calculation which can be formed in respect to the termination of their course. Their end is hid. They die suddenly and disappear. This suits the connection; and the sentiment is, in the main, in accordance with facts as they occur.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 15:20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-15.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days,.... Either to commit iniquity, which he is at great pains to do, and even to weariness; and, agreeably to the metaphor used, he conceives it in his heart, he travails with it in his mind, and he brings forth falsehood and a lie, what disappoints him, and which issues in death, eternal death, see Psalm 7:14; or to get wealth and riches, in obtaining of which he pierces himself through with many sorrows; and these being like thorns, in using them he gets many a scratch, and has a good deal of trouble, pain, and uneasiness in keeping them, insomuch that he cannot sleep comfortably through fear of losing them; wherefore he does not enjoy that peace, comfort, and happiness, it may be thought he does; and, besides all this, he has many an inward pain and gripe of conscience for his many sins and transgressions, which lie at the door of conscience, and when it is opened rush in, and make sad work, and put him to great pain and distress; for otherwise this cannot be said of every wicked man, that they are in outward pain and distress, or in uncomfortable circumstances, at least in appearance; for of some it is said, "they are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men", Psalm 73:5; they live wholly at ease, and are quiet, and die so, at least seemingly: some restrain this to some particular person whom Eliphaz might have in view; the Targum paraphrases it of wicked Esau, who it was expected would repent, but did not; others think that he had in his eye some notorious oppressor, that had lived formerly, or in his time, as Nimrod, the mighty hunter and tyrant, or Chedorlaomer, who held for some years several kings in subjection to him; but it is much if he does not design Job himself; however, he forms the description of the wicked man in such a manner, that it might as near as possible suit his case, and in many things he plainly refers to it: and this is a sad case indeed, for a wicked man to travail in pain all his days in this life, and in the world to come to suffer the pains of hell fire to all eternity; the pains of a woman, to which the allusion is, are but short at most, but those of the wicked man are for life, yea, for ever; and among the rest of his pains of mind, especially in this world, what follows is one, and which gives much uneasiness: and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor; Mr. Broughton renders it, soon numbered years; that is, few, as the years of man's life at most are but few, and those of the oppressor fewer still, since bloody and deceitful men do not live out half the days of the years of man's life, but are oftentimes cut off in the midst of their days; and be they more or fewer, they are all numbered and fixed, and the number of them is with God, and him only; they are fixed and settled by the decree of God, and laid up in his purposes, and reserved for the oppressor; but they are a secret to him, he does not know how long he shall live, or how soon he may die, and then there will be an end of his oppression and tyranny, and of his enjoyment of his wealth and riches unjustly got; and this frets him, and gives him pain, and makes him uneasy; whereas a good man is easy about it, he is willing to wait his appointed time, till his change comes; he is not so much concerned to know the time of his death as to be in a readiness for it. The Targum paraphrases this of Ishmael the mighty: the oppressor is the same with the wicked man in the preceding clause.

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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.
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 15:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-15.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

The wicked man travaileth with pain all [his] days, and the number m of years is hidden to the oppressor.

(m) The cruel man is always in danger of death, and is never quiet in conscience.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 15:20". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-15.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

travaileth — rather, “trembleth of himself,” though there is no real danger [Umbreit].

and the number of his years, etc. — This gives the reason why the wicked man trembles continually; namely, because he knows not the moment when his life must end.

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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.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 15:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-15.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor.

Pain — Lives a life of care, and fear, and grief, by reason of God's wrath, the torments of his own mind, and his outward calamities.

Hidden — He knows not how short the time of his life is, and therefore lives in continual fear of losing it.

Oppressor — To the wicked man: he names this one sort of them, because he supposed Job to be guilty of this sin, in opposition of what Job had affirmed of the safety of such persons, chap12:6, and because such are apt to promise themselves a longer and happier life than other men.

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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.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Job 15:20". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-15.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 15:20 The wicked man travaileth with pain all [his] days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor.

Ver. 20. The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days] He tormenteth himself, or thrusteth himself through (so some read it), 1 Timothy 6:10. He takes no more rest than one upon a rack; he hath his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, Jeremiah 30:6; he smiteth upon his thigh; sicut mulierculae in puerperio facere solent, saith Luther in his marginal note on Jeremiah 31:19. And if he would do so for his sin, as he doth for his misery, pia esset illa tristitia, et, si disci potest, beata miseria, as Austin hath it (Aug. Epist. 545), his grief would be godly, and his misery a blessing, God would pity him, as he did his moan making Ephraim, and earnestly remember him still, Job 15:23. But, alas, that wicked are strong, the hypocrite in heart, as he heaps up wrath, so he crieth not when God bindeth him, Job 36:16. Or if he do cry, it is peril, and not peccavi, I am undone, and not, I have done amiss. Hence God many times turneth loose upon him those three vultures, care, fear, and grief, to feed upon his heart. It is seldom seen that God alloweth unto the greatest darlings of the world a perfect contentment. In the very pursuit of these outward vanities is much anguish, many grievances, fears, jealousies, disgraces, interruptions, discontentments. In the unsanctified enjoyment of them, something the wicked shall have to complain of, that shall give an unsavoury verdue to their sweetest morsels, and make their very felicity miserable; witness Ahab, Haman, &c. But then followeth the sting of conscience, that maketh a Cain, a Pashur, a Richard III, to be a terror to himself. And with this pain some wicked men travail all their days here, but hereafter it shall infallibly and inexpressibly torment the souls of them all, through all eternity. And this, with the following illustrations, is that oracle or divine sentence which Eliphaz received from those famous men above mentioned, and which he not obscurely applieth and wresteth against Job, whom herehence he would prove a wicked man by his own confessions, Job 3:25-26; Job 7:13-14, compared with Leviticus 26:36, Deuteronomy 28:65, for that which Eliphaz had heard from his ancestors was but the same law, for substance, that was afterwards written by Moses.

And the number of years is hidden to the oppressor] Heb. To the terrible tyrant, who, as he hath not a more cruel executioner than his own conscience, so not a more sensible displeasure than to know that he is mortal, and yet to be ignorant when his tyranny must end. The number of the years of his tyranny is uncertain, saith the Vulgate translation. And from this uncertainty, which he knoweth not how to remedy (though he run to light a candle at the devil sometimes, viz. by consulting with soothsayers and sorcerers, to know of them how long he shall live, and who shall succeed him, as Tiberius and other tyrants did), followeth suspicion and fear, saith Aquinas upon this text.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 15:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-15.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Job 15:20, &c. The wicked man travaileth This is a most beautiful image of the perpetual anxiety in which a tyrant lives: when he goes to sleep, he is afraid that he shall be murdered before morning. The whole description, taken together, is undoubtedly meant for Job himself; for which he had given some grounds, chap. Job 3:25-26. See Heath.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 15:20". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/job-15.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Travaileth with pain, i.e. lives a life of care, and fear, and grief, by reason of God’s wrath, and the torments of his own mind, and his manifold and dreadful outward calamities.

The number of his years is hidden, i.e. he knows not how short the time of his tyranny and life is, and therefore lives in continual fear of losing them. The number of a good man’s years are also hid from him as well as they are from the wicked men; but to those this is a great torment and mischief; whereas it is not so to him. Or, and a few years (Heb. a number of years, put by a common hypallage for years of number; as few years are called, Job 16:22, because they are soon numbered; as men of number, is put for a few men, Genesis 34:30 Deuteronomy 4:27 33:6) are laid or treasured up, i.e. are allotted to him by God’s secret counsel; for God cuts off such men in the midst of their days. Psalms 55:23; whereas long life is promised, and commonly given, to righteous men.

To the oppressor, i.e. to the wicked man; but he names this one sort of them, the oppressors, partly, because he supposed Job to be guilty of this sin, Job 22:6; partly, in opposition to what Job had affirmed of the safety and happiness of such persons, Job 12:6; and partly, because such are most apt to expect and promise to themselves a longer and happier life than other men, because of their singular preservatives and advantages of life above other men.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 15:20". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-15.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

20.Is hidden — Rather, That are reserved, for the oppressor. His life is prolonged, but with the intention of punishment. Years of splendour have no power to allay his trouble — it lies deep within, where God and the soul come together. Hence the word conscience, which implies a second and divine party to the knowledge and punishment of sin. In its maturest form the compunction of conscience becomes remorse, with its meaning of to bite back upon the soul. Eliphaz uses a figure common in the East when he compares the gnawing of conscience to the pains of childbirth. In the Greek language, the term wickedness, (πονηρια,) in its root, signifies labor, misery, and the Hebrew word for sin ( ) means misfortune and punishment. (See note, Job 3:17.) A most remarkable letter was that of Tiberius Cesar, monarch of the world, (Luke 3:1,) to his Senate, commencing in these words: “What to write you, Conscript Fathers, or in what manner to write, or what altogether not to write at this juncture, if I can determine, may all the gods and goddesses doom me to worse destruction than that by which I feel myself consuming daily.” — TACITUS, Annals.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 15:20". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-15.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 15:20. The wicked man travaileth with pain — That is, lives a life of care, and fear, and grief, by reason of God’s wrath, the torments of his own mind, and his outward calamities. The number of his years is hidden He knows not how short the time of his life is, and therefore lives in continual fear of losing it. To the oppressor — To the wicked man: he names this one sort of them, because he supposed Job to be guilty of this sin; and in opposition to what Job had affirmed of the safety of such persons, Job 12:6, and because such are apt to promise themselves a longer and happier life than other men.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 15:20". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-15.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Proud; uncertain. Hebrew, "in pain." (Haydock) --- Septuagint, "numbered," or few, Genesis xxxiv. 30. These are the maxims which Eliphaz had received in a vision, or from the ancients, ver. 17. The description of a tyrant's life was admirably verified in Dionysius, of Syracuse, (Calmet) and in our Cromwell, (Haydock)--- "-----pale and trembling in the dead of night." (Pope)

---who rarely lodged two night in one chamber. (Clarendon.) --- Such live in dread, (Haydock) and seldom die a natural death.

Ad generum Cereris sine cæde et vulnere pauci

Descendunt reges et sicca morte Tyranni. (Juvenal x. 113.)

Nocte dieque suum gestare in pectore testem. (Juvenal xiii.)

They bear always about the witness, "conscience." (Haydock) --- They distrust every one, and are hated by all.

Districtus ensis cui super impia

Cervice pendet, &c. (Horace iii. Ode 1.)

--- These miseries are incident to the wicked, but are improperly addressed to Job. (Worthington)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 15:20". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-15.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

This verse begins another section on the fate of the wicked. Eliphaz argues that the wicked spend all their days writhing or tossing about in pain and anxiety. The term "ruthless" means "terror-striking", "giving the idea that Job was a tyrant who struck fear into other people" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 737).

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 15:20". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-15.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

wicked man = lawless one. Hebrew. rasha". App-44. From Job 15:20 to Job 15:35 Eliphaz repeats what he had heard from tradition.

travaileth = "he travaileth".

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 15:20". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/job-15.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor. The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor.

Travaileth - rather, 'trembleth of himself' [ mitchowleel (Hebrew #2349)], though there is no real danger (Umbreit). 'The sinner is a self-tormentor all his days' (Grotius), and the number of (his) years, etc. This gives the reason why the wicked man trembles continually-namely, because he knows not the moment when his life must end.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 15:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-15.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(20) Travaileth with pain.—This and the following verses contain the result of this experience. Here, again, we have a highly-coloured and poetical description of the oppressor, true to the character of the speaker in Job 4:12, &c. We should read Job 15:20 : The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, even the number of years that are laid up for the oppressor. It is not an independent statement, as in the Authorised Version. A sound of terror is for ever in his ears lest the spoiler should come upon him in his prosperity—he always seems to dread his war-swoop. And this condition of darkness within, which contrasts so painfully with his outward prosperity, he sees no escape from; he is over in fear of a sword hanging over him, like Damocles.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 15:20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-15.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor.
travaileth
Romans 8:22; Ecclesiastes 9:3
the number
Psalms 90:3,4,12; Luke 12:19-21; James 5:1-6
Reciprocal: Genesis 4:14 - driven;  Leviticus 26:16 - terror;  1 Samuel 28:20 - sore afraid;  Esther 5:13 - Yet all this;  Job 16:17 - Not for;  Job 21:27 - I know;  Job 27:13 - the heritage;  Psalm 7:14 - GeneralIsaiah 48:22 - GeneralIsaiah 57:20 - like;  Daniel 5:6 - the king's

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 15:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-15.html.