Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 18:13

"His skin is devoured by disease, The firstborn of death devours his limbs.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Wicked (People);   The Topic Concordance - Bearing Fruit;   Knowledge;   Perishing;   Wickedness;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Death of the Wicked, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Bildad;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Greatness of God;   Hypocrisy;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Firstborn;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Death;   Job, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Guilt (2);   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - First-Born;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Plagues of Egypt;   Skin;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Death, Angel of;   Demonology;   Sheol;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

It shall devour the strength of his skin - This may refer to the elephant, or to the rhinoceros, whose skin scarcely any dart can pierce: but in the case referred to above, the animal is taken in a pitfall, and then the first-born of death - a sudden and overwhelming stroke - deprives him of life. See the account of hunting the elephant in the East at the end of the chapter, Job 18:21; (note). The Chaldee has: "The strength of his skin shall devour his flesh; and the angel of death shall consume his children."

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 18:13". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-18.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

It shall devour the strength of his skin - Margin, bars. The margin is a correct translation of the Hebrew. The word used (בדי badēy construct with עורו ‛ôrô - his skin) means bars, staves, branches, and here denotes his limbs, members; or, more literally, the bones, as supports of the skin, or the human frame. The bones are regarded as the bars, or the framework, holding the other parts of the body in their place, and over which the skin is stretched. The word “it” here refers to the “first-born of death” in the other hemistich of the verse; and the meaning is, that the strength of his body shal be entirely exhausted.

The first-born of death - The “first-born” is usually spoken of as distinguished for vigor and strength; Genesis 49:3, “Reuben, thou art my first-born, my might, and the beginning of my strength;” and the idea conveyed here by the “first-born of death” is the most fearful and destructive disease that death has ever engendered; compare Milton‘s description of the progeny of sin, in Paradise Los. Diseases are called “the sons or children of death” by the Arabs, (see Schultens in loc.,) as being begotten by it.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 18:13". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-18.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

It shall devour the strength of his skin,.... Or "the bars of his skin"F24בדי עורו "vectes cutis suae", Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schultens, Michaelis. , the strength and support of his body, for which his skin may be put, as the bones; or "the branches of his skin"F25"Ramos cutis", Montanus, Vatablus, Drusius, Mercerus, Schmidt; "ramos corporis ipsius", Cocceius. , the veins, which like so many branches run under, and may be seen through the skin: now these, it, famine, or want of food, devours, and destroys the strength and beauty of the skin, cause it to be black like an oven, Lamentations 4:8; bring a man to a mere skeleton, to skin and bones, waste and consume the members of his body, his flesh, and blood, and bones; the Targum, Jarchi, and Aben Ezra, by "his bars" or "branches" understand his children, which are his bars, the strength of him, and are to him as branches to a tree, proceeding from him; and if we render it, as some do, he "shall devour"F26יאכל "comedet", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus. , or "eat", that is, the wicked man, it points to us the most horrible scene in a famine, which is shocking and shuddering, and yet what has been, as in the sieges of Samaria and Jerusalem, a parent's eating and devouring his own children, 2 Kings 6:28; but rather the "it is the firstborn of death", in the next clause, which is to be supplied from thence here:

even the firstborn of death shall devour his strength; and so Mr. Broughton translates the whole verse,

"a strange death shall eat all the branches of his body, all its branches shall it eat;'

which the Targum interprets of the angel of death, him which has the power of death: but rather it signifies not what presides over death, but what death first produces, which are corruption and rottenness, dust and worms; these are the firstborn of death, or the firstfruits and effects of it, and which devour and destroy not the skin only, but the whole body and all its members: or "the firstborn death"F1בכור מות "primogenita mors", V. L. ; death, which is a firstborn, it is the firstborn of sin; sin is its parent, last conceives sin, and that brings forth death; death is the child of sin, and is its firstborn, and sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and this is what devours and destroys the strength of men. Some understand by firstborn death a premature one, death before the usual time or common course of nature; wicked men do not live out half their days; and when they are taken off in their youth, in the prime of their days and strength, and amidst all their wealth, riches, and pleasures, this is the first, or firstborn death, as that is a secondary one which is late, in the time of old age. This is the ingenious thought of Pineda; but, perhaps, rather, as the firstborn is the chief and principal, so here may be meant the chiefest of deaths, the most hard, cruel, and severe; the first of those, that death has under it, which are principally the sword, famine, pestilence, and the noisome beast, see Revelation 6:8; it is commonly thought that famine is intended, spoken of in the context; but why not rather some thing distinct from it, and particularly the pestilence? since that is emphatically called death by the Jews, and in the passage last referred to, and is the terror by night, and the arrow that flies by day, even the pestilence that walks in darkness, and the destruction that wastes at noonday; by means of which thousands and ten thousands of wicked men fall at the sides of good men, when it does not affect them: and so may be the evil particularly threatened to a wicked man here, see Psalm 91:5.

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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 18:13". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-18.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

It shall devour the strength of his skin: [even] the h firstborn of death shall devour his strength.

(h) That is, some strong and violent death will consume his strength: or as the Hebrew word signifies his members or parts.
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 18:13". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-18.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Umbreit has “he” for “it,” that is, “in the rage of hunger he shall devour his own body”; or, “his own children” (Lamentations 4:10). Rather, “destruction” from Job 18:12 is nominative to “devour.”

strength — rather, “members” (literally, the “branches” of a tree).

the first-born of death — a personification full of poetical horror. The first-born son held the chief place (Genesis 49:3); so here the chiefest (most deadly) disease that death has ever engendered (Isaiah 14:30; “first-born of the poor” - the poorest). The Arabs call fever, “daughter of death.”

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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 18:13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-18.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

It shall devour the strength of his skin: even the firstborn of death shall devour his strength.

First-born — A terrible kind of death. The first-born was the chief of his brethren, and therefore this title is given to things eminent in their kind.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Job 18:13". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-18.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 18:13 It shall devour the strength of his skin: [even] the firstborn of death shall devour his strength.

Ver. 13. It shall devour the strength of his skin] i.e. His bones, which support his skin; these destruction shall devour or swallow up at a bite, as a hungry monster.

The firstborn of death shall devour his strength] i.e. The devil, say some, that destroyer, Revelation 9:11, that old manslayer, John 8:44, Prince of death, Hebrews 2:14, as Christ is called Prince of life, Acts 3:15, and firstborn of death, as Christ is the firstborn of the resurrection, Colossians 1:18. Others understand it, De cruentissima ac funestissima morte, to be the most tragic and cruel kind of death, see Isaiah 14:30. Broughton readeth it, A strange death shall eat the branches of his body, judgments shall come upon thee in their perfection, saith God to Babylon, Isaiah 47:9.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 18:13". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-18.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Job 18:13. It shall devour, &c.— Filthy ulcers shall consume his skin; an untimely death shall destroy his children. Heath and Houbigant. This sarcasm was peculiarly adapted to the case of Job, whose skin was thus consumed, and whose children had been destroyed in this manner. The reader must have had occasion frequently to remark, in this book, how often, amid the sublimity of the eastern metaphors, the author drops the metaphor, and treats of his subject simply: as in the present case; having spoken of the wicked man under the metaphor of a wild beast caught in a snare, in this verse he considered him no longer in that view, but speaks of him immediately in his own character.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 18:13". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/job-18.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The strength of his skin, Heb. the bars, or rather, the branches of the skin, i.e. either the veins and sinews, which branch out themselves through the skin as well as elsewhere; or the fat and flesh, which like bars support the skin, and adorn and beautify it, as branches do a tree; without which the skirt is shrivelled up and deformed.

The first-born of death, i.e. a most remarkable and terrible kind of death. The first-born was the chief of his brethren, and therefore this title is given to things eminent in their kind, as Isaiah 14:30 Colossians 1:18 Hebrews 12:23 Revelation 1:5.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 18:13". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-18.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

13.Strength — Hebrew, Baddim. The same word is used twice in this verse, and means parts or members. Skin stands here for body, as in Exodus 22:27. The discourse now becomes personal, for the disease Job had eats its way as Bildad describes. AEschylus speaks of “leprosies that assail the flesh with fierce fangs, and entirely eat away its original nature.” — Choephori, 279. Firstborn of death — Whatever is pre-eminent in its kind is called in the Scriptures “the firstborn.” If the Arab deems “fevers to be the daughters of death,” the terrible elephantiasis may well be called his firstborn. Death has his family, and at the head of the dismal brood stands, in the Semitic mind, this most dreaded disease.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 18:13". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-18.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 18:13. It shall devour, &c. — “Filthy ulcers shall consume his skin; an untimely death shall destroy his children. — Heath and Houbigant. This sarcasm was peculiarly adapted to the case of Job, whose skin was thus consumed, and whose children had been destroyed in this manner. The reader must have had occasion frequently to remark, in this book, how often, amidst the sublimity of the eastern metaphors, the author drops the metaphor and treats of his subject simply; as in the present case, having spoken of the wicked man under the metaphor of a wild beast caught in a snare, in this verse he considers him no longer in that view, but speaks of him immediately in his own character.” — Dodd.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 18:13". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-18.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

First-born denotes the best, or the worst. (Haydock) --- Death. Hebrew, "of death," the devil, or a premature death, and most cruel enemy. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "But death devours his most beautiful things." (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 18:13". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-18.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

"His skin is devoured by disease": Clearly a direct attack on Job who had a disease-ridden body. "The firstborn of death devours his limbs": This could mean "death in its most terrible form". "A better meaning may be that among man"s diseases known as death"s children because they serve death"s purposes Job"s (disease) was the worst" (Zuck p. 83).

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 18:13". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-18.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

strength = parts or members of his body.

skin. Put by Figure of speech Synecdoche (of the Part), App-6, for the whole body. Compare Exodus 22:26.

firstborn of death: i.e. the chief, or worst, or cruellest death. Figure of speech Euphemismos. App-6.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 18:13". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/job-18.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

It shall devour the strength of his skin: even the firstborn of death shall devour his strength. Umbreit has 'he' for "it" - i:e., in the rage of hunger he shall devour his own body:' or, his own children (Lamentations 4:10). Rather, 'destruction,' from the last verse, or else 'the first-born of death,' is nominative to "devour."

Strength, [ badeey (Hebrew #905)] - rather, 'members' (literally, the branches of a tree).

Of his skin - i:e., of his body purposely used with allusion to Job's disease of the skin elephantiasis (Job 19:26). "Devour" is twice used, to mark that the sinner is not slain at one moment, but is gradually worn out by disease.

The first-born of death - a personification full of poetical horror. The first-born son held the chief place (Genesis 49:3); so here the chiefest (most deadly) disease that death has ever engendered (Isaiah 14:30, "first-born of the poor" - the poorest). The Arabs call fever 'daughter of death.'

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 18:13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-18.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(13) The strength of his skin.—This verse should probably be rendered, “It shall devour the members of his body, even the firstborn of death shall devour his members;” and by the “firstborn of death” is probably to be understood some wasting disease such as Job’s, the phrase being so used as a euphemism.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 18:13". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-18.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

It shall devour the strength of his skin: even the firstborn of death shall devour his strength.
strength
Heb. bars.
17:16; Jonah 2:6
the firstborn
Genesis 49:3; Isaiah 14:30; Revelation 6:8
Reciprocal: Job 18:15 - dwell;  1 Corinthians 15:55 - is thy victory

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 18:13". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-18.html.