Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 17:16

"Will it go down with me to Sheol? Shall we together go down into the dust?"
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   Dead (People);   Death;   Despondency;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Sheol;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Burial;   Sheol;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Greatness of God;   Hypocrisy;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Death;   Dust;   Hell;   Pit;   Sheol;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Pit;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Bar (2);   Eschatology of the Old Testament (with Apocryphal and Apocalyptic Writings);   Sheol;   Staves;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

They shall go down to the bars of the pit - All that I have must descend into the depths of the grave. Thither are we all going; and there alone can I rest. בדי baddey, which we translate bars, signifies also branches, distended limbs, or claws, and may here refer either to a personification of the grave, a monster who seizes on human bodies, and keeps them fast in his deadly gripe; or to the different branching-off-alleys in subterranean cemeteries, or catacombs, in which niches are made for the reception of different bodies.

When our rest together is in the dust - That is, according to some critics, My hope and myself shall descend together into the grave. It shall never be realized, for the time of my departure is at hand.

In those times what deep shades hung on the state of man after death, and on every thing pertaining to the eternal world! Perplexity and uncertainty were the consequences; and a corresponding gloom often dwelt on the minds of even the best of the Old Testament believers. Job's friends, though learned in all the wisdom of the Arabians, connected with the advantages derivable from the Mosaic writings, and perhaps those of the earlier prophets, had little clear or distinct in their minds relative to all subjects post mortem, or of the invisible world. Job himself, though sometimes strongly confident, is often harassed with doubts and fears upon the subject, insomuch that his sayings and experience often appear contradictory. Perhaps it could not be otherwise; the true light was not then come: Jesus alone brought life and immortality to light by his Gospel.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 17:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-17.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

They shall go down - That is, my hopes shall go down. All the expectations that I have cherished of life and happiness, will descend there with me. We have a similar expression when we say, that a man “has buried his hopes in the grave,” when he loses an only son.

To the bars of the pit - “Bars of Sheol” - שׁאול בד bad she'ôl Vulgate, “Profoundest deep.” Septuagint, εἰς ᾅδην eis hadēn - to Hades. Sheol, or Hades, was supposed to be under the earth. Its entrance was by the grave as a gate that led to it. It was protected by bars - as prisons are - so that those who entered there could not escape; see the notes at Isaiah 14:9. It was a dark, gloomy dwelling, far away from light, and from the comforts which people enjoy in this life; see Job 10:21-22. To that dark world Job expected soon to descend; and though he did not regard that as properly a place of punishment, yet it was not a place of positive joy. It was a gloomy and wretched world - the land of darkness and of the shadow of death; and he looked to the certainty of going there not with joy, but with anguish and distress of heart. Had Job been favored with the clear and elevated views of heaven which we have in the Christian revelation, death to him would have lost its gloom.

We wonder, often, that so good a man expressed such a dread of death, and that he did not look more calmly into the future world. But to do him justice, we should place ourselves in his situation. We should lay aside all that is cheerful and glad in the views of heaven which Christianity has given us. We should look upon the future world as the shadow of death; a land of gloom and spectres; a place beneath the ground - dark, chilly, repulsive; and we shall cease to wonder at the expressions of even so good a man at the prospect of death. When we look at him, we should remember with thankfulness the different views which we have of the future world, and the source to which we owe them. To us, if we are pious in any measure as Job was, death is the avenue, not to a world of gloom, but to a world of light and glory. It opens into heaven. There is no gloom, no darkness, no sorrow. There all are happy; and there all that is mysterious in this life is made plain - all that is sad is succeeded by eternal joy. These views we owe to that gospel which has brought life and immortality to light; and when we think of death and the future world, when from the midst of woes and sorrows we are compelled to look out on eternity, let us rejoice that we are not constrained to look forward with the sad forebodings of the Sage of Uz, but that we may think of the grave cheered by the strong consolations of Christian hope of the glorious resurrection.

When our rest together is in the dust - The rest of me and my hopes. My hopes and myself will expire together.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 17:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-17.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

They shall go down to the bars of the pit,.... He himself, and his friends, and the hopes they would have him entertain; these should all go down together to the grave, and there lie barred and locked up; these hopes, so as never to rise anymore, and the bodies of himself, and his friends, till loosed by him who has the keys of hell and death: or "the bars shall go down to the grave"; the members of his body, as Jarchi, which are the bars of it, as some in Bar Tzemach; the strength and support of it, as particularly the bones, these shall go down to the grave, and there turn to rottenness and dust; and therefore, as if he should say, as he elsewhere does, "what is my strength, that I should hope?" Job 6:11;

when our rest together is in the dust; which is man's original, and to which he returns, and in which the dead lie and sleep until the resurrection; and where they are at rest from all adversity and affliction of body, mind, and estate; from all the troubles and vexations occasioned by wicked men, and from all disputes, wranglings, contentions, and animosities among friends, which would be the case of Job, and his friends, when their heads were laid in the dust, and which he supposed would quickly be; and therefore it was in vain for them to feed him with hopes of outward happiness, and for him to entertain them; it best came them both to think of death and the grave as near at hand, where their controversies would be buried, and they would be good friends, and lie quietly together, and take their rest until they should awake and rise to everlasting life.

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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 17:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-17.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

p They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when [our] rest together [is] in the dust.

(p) All worldly hope and prosperity fail which you say, are only signs of God's favour but seeing that these things perish, I set my hope in God and in the life everlasting.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 17:16". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-17.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

They — namely, my hopes shall be buried with me.

bars — (Isaiah 38:10). Rather, the wastes or solitudes of the pit (sheol, the unseen world).

rest together — the rest of me and my hope is in, etc. Both expire together. The word “rest” implies that man‘s ceaseless hopes only rob him of rest.

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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 17:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-17.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.

They — My hopes, of which he spake in the singular number, verse15, which he here changes into the plural, as is usual in these poetical books.

Bars — Into the innermost parts of the pit: my hopes are dying, and will be buried in my grave. We must shortly be in the dust, under the bars of the pit, held fast there, 'till the general resurrection. All good men, if they cannot agree now will there rest together. Let the foresight of this cool the heat of all contenders, and moderate the disputers of this world.

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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 17:16". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-17.html. 1765.

Scofield's Reference Notes

grave

Heb. "Sheol," (See Scofield "Habakkuk 2:5")

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These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.
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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Job 17:16". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/job-17.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 17:16 They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when [our] rest together [is] in the dust.

Ver. 16. They shall go down to the bars of the pit] That is, I and my things, or I and my hopes of prosperity, Job 17:15, and they that will see the good I hope for must pass through the gates of death to behold it, and lie down in the grave with me, and then it shall appear. Cajetan thinks that this is spoken ironically to his friends, and by way of derrision, Per irrisionem haec dicta sunt; q.d. It seems like you think I shall be rich in the grave (who promise so much to me, and make me such overtures of a happiness here), for I have no hope to be rich in this world. And the Septuagint seem to favour this sense, rendering it, Shall my goods go into the grave with me? See 1 Timothy 6:7. {See Trapp on "1 Timothy 6:7"}

When our rest together is in the dust] Or, When I shall rest alone in the dust, as Job 34:29; and then (De Annibal. Sil. Ital.),

- Modo quem fortuna fovendo,

Congestis opibus donisque refersit opimis,

Nudum tartarea portabit navita cymba

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 17:16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-17.html. 1865-1868.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

REFLECTIONS

READER! let you and I seek-grace from the LORD, that we may gather from this chapter all the blessed improvements the HOLY GHOST intended from it, to convey to his church and people. For you and I may with equal justness, take Job's language as he did, and say, Our breath is corrupt, our days are extinct, and the grave is ready for us. Whether Job's afflictions, or Job's trials may be not our portion in going home through our pilgrimage state, we know not. These things are in a wiser and better appointment than our own. But whether or not a time of trouble come, death must come; for it is appointed unto all men once to die, and after this the judgment. And what an awful thing must it be, to be unprepared for what is so sure! Depend upon it, the man that lives at an uncertainty, will die at an uncertainty. How much doth the example of Job recommend itself to our notice and imitation; If like him, we were to deal familiarly with death; take a turn often to the grave, and fancy ourselves as there, before that in reality we are carried there; this would tend to lessen the apprehension, and lead the soul into a serious enquiry, of the surest means of making it a peaceable and happy dwelling place. This would be to use the world as not abusing it, and to induce, under divine teaching, those blessed effects, which while prompting the heart to say to corruption, thou art my father; and to the worm, thou art my mother and my sister, would lead out the whole soul in desires after him, who by his death hath overcome death, and by his resurrection, hath secured the everlasting happiness of his redeemed. Yes! thou Great, thou Almighty Conqueror of death, hell, and the grave! This would be to become savingly acquainted with thee, and thy precious salvation, that both in a living hour, and in a dying hour, our hearts might be on the lookout for the Master's call, that whether it should be at midnight or at cockcrowing, or in the morning, we might be found like those wise, servants, who wait for their LORD'S approach. Precious JESUS! write thy gracious warning upon each heart, and grant us grace, to live up to the constant exercise of it, by faith in thy blood and righteousness: Be ye always ready, for ye know not at what hour the Son of man cometh.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Job 17:16". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/job-17.html. 1828.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

They; either,

1. They that would see my hope, they must go into the grave to behold it. Or rather,

2. My hopes; of which he spoke in the singular number, Job 17:15, which he here changeth into the plural, as is very usual in these poetical books.

To the bars of the pit, i.e. into the closest and innermost parts of the pit: my hopes are dying, and will be buried in my grave.

When our rest together is in the dust: so the sense is, when those spectators, together with myself, shall be in our graves. Heb. seeing that (as this Hebrew particle im oft signifies; or, certainly, as it is used Numbers 17:13 Job 6:13, and elsewhere) our rest shall be together in the dust, i.e. I and my hopes shall be buried together.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 17:16". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-17.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

16.They — Better, It shall go down to the bars of sheol. The verb is not plural, but a poetical form of the singular. Its subject is, the hope of renewed prosperity with which Job’s friends had flattered him. Bars is preferable to solitudes, as rendered by Furst and Schnurrer, and is used figuratively for the gates of sheol; (Job 38:17; Psalms 9:13; Psalms 107:18; Isaiah 38:10.) The shadowy bars kept the gates, so that those who entered could not return. The Iliad (23:74) calls sheol “the house of wide gates,” whose width pointed to the multitudes who were constantly entering.

Rest’ in the dust — Literally, when together there is rest in the dust. Furst would render Rest “descent,” with the meaning, “Yea, we shall descend together into the dust;” that is, my hope and I shall be buried together. Among the many proposed readings of this clause, that of the Authorized Version is to be preferred.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 17:16". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-17.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 17:16. They shall go down to the bars of the pit — They that would see my hope must go down into the grave, or rather into the invisible world, to behold it. Or, he means, My hope shall go down, of which he spake in the singular number, Job 17:15, and which he here changes into the plural, as is usual in these poetical books. Thus Houbigant renders this clause: It, namely, my hope, shall descend together with me into the grave: it shall rest with me in the dust. My hopes of temporal good are dying, and will be buried in my grave, where I and they, and I and my friends, shall lie together. Remember, reader, we must all shortly lie in the dust, under the bars of the pit; held fast there, till the general resurrection. And all good men, if, like Job and his friends, they cannot agree now, will there rest together. Let the foresight of this cool the heat of all contenders, and moderate the disputers of this world.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 17:16". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-17.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Deepest pit. Literally hell. (Challoner) --- Hebrew, "We shall go down to the bars of the pit, when we shall rest together in the dust." My hope may be frustrated by death; (Haydock) or you, my friends, must also go to the house of eternity. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 17:16". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-17.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

the pit. Hebrew. Sheol. App-35. Compare Job 17:13.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 17:16". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/job-17.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.

They - namely, my hopes, shall be buried with me.

Bars - (Isaiah 38:10, "I shall go to the gates of the grave;" Jonah 2:6, "The earth with her bars was about me for ever"). Rather, the wastes, or solitudes [badiym] of the pit ( sh

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 17:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-17.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(16) They shall go down to the bars of the pit.—The last verse of this chapter, which is itself one of the most difficult, is the most difficult of all. The difficulty consists in this: the bars of the grave are masculine, and the verb, they shall go down, is feminine plural; it seems improbable that the bars of the grave should be the subject of the verb (though perhaps not absolutely impossible); but if the bars of the grave are the place to which the going down is, as in the Authorised Version, then what is the subject to the verb, go down, seeing that hope, the apparent subject, is a feminine singular? Some render “it shall go down,” but this is in defiance of the grammar, though, probably, the meaning it conveys is not far from the truth. The words clearly express a condition of utter despair, and that Job’s only hope of rest is in the grave. It is a rule in Hebrew grammar that when the verb precedes its subject it need not agree with it in gender or number; but here the verb must, at all events, come after its subject, and consequently, it is very difficult to determine what that subject is. The only apparent subject is to be found in the corruption of the worm of Job 17:14; but they, instead of going down to the grave, are already there.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 17:16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-17.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.
the bars of the pit
18:13,14; 33:18-28; Psalms 88:4-8; 143:7; Isaiah 38:17,18; Jonah 2:6
rest
3:17-19; Ezekiel 37:11; 2 Corinthians 1:9 Reciprocal: Job 33:28 - will deliver;  Ezekiel 28:8 - shall bring

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 17:16". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-17.html.