Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 18:20

"Those in the west are appalled at his fate, And those in the east are seized with horror.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Wicked (People);   The Topic Concordance - Knowledge;   Wickedness;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Bildad;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Greatness of God;   Hypocrisy;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Job, the Book of;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

They that come after him - The young shall be struck with astonishment when they hear the relation of the judgments of God upon this wicked man. As they that went before. The aged who were his contemporaries, and who saw the judgments that fell on him, were affrighted, שער אחזו achazu saar, seized with horror - were horrified; or, as Mr. Good has well expressed it, were panic-struck.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 18:20". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-18.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

They that come after him - Future ages; they who may hear of his history and of the manner in which he was cut off from life. So the passage has been generally rendered; so, substantially, it is by Dr. Good, Dr. Noyes, Rosenmuller, and Luther. The Vulgate translates it novissimi; the Septuagint, ἔσχατοι eschatoi - “the last” - meaning those that should live after him, or at a later period. But Schultens supposes that the word used here denotes those in “the West,” and the corresponding word rendered “went before,” denotes those in “the East.” With this view Wemyss concurs, who renders the whole verse:

“The West shall be astonished at his end;

The East shall be panic-struck.”

According to this, it means that those who dwelt in the remotest regions would be astonished at the calamities which would come upon him. It seems to me that this accords better with the scope of the passage than the other interpretation, and avoids some difficulties which cannot be separated from the other view. The word translated in our version, “that come after him” אחרינים 'achăryônı̂ym is from אחר 'âchar to be after, or behind; to stay behind, to delay, remain. It then means “after,” or “behind;” and as in the geography of the Orientals the face was supposed to be turned to “the East,” instead of being turned to the North, as with us - a much more natural position than ours - the word “after,” or “behind,” comes to denote West, the right hand the South, the left the North; see the notes at Job 23:8-9.

Thus, the phrase האחרין הים hayâm hā'achăryôn - “the sea behind, denotes the Mediterranean sea - the West; Deuteronomy 24:3; see also Deuteronomy 11:24; Deuteronomy 34:2; Joel 2:20, where the same phrase in Hebrew occurs. Those who dwelt in the “West,” therefore, would be accurately referred to by this phrase.

Shall be astonied - Shall be “astonished” - the old mode of writing the word being “astonied;” Isaiah 52:14. It is not known, however, to be used in any other book than the Bible.

As they that went before - Margin, or “lived with him.” Noyes, “his elders shall be struck with horror.” Vulgate, “et primos invadet “horror.” Septuagint, “amazement seizes “the first” - πρώτους prōtous But the more correct interpretation is that which refers it to the people of the East. The word קדמנים qadmônı̂ym is from קדם qâdam to precede, to go before; and then the derivatives refer to that which goes before, which is in front, etc.; and as face was turned to the East by geographers, the word comes to express that which is in the East, or near the sun-rising; see Joel 2:20; Job 23:8; Genesis 2:8. Hence, the phrase קדם בני benēy qedem - “sons of the East” - meaning the persons who dwelt east of Palestine; Job 1:3; Isaiah 11:14; Genesis 25:6; Genesis 29:1. The word used here, (קדמנים qadmônı̂ym ), is used to denote the people or the regions of the East; in Ezekiel 47:8, Ezekiel 47:18; Zechariah 14:8. Here it means, as it seems to me, the people of the East; and the idea is that people everywhere would be astonished at the doom of the wicked man. His punishment would be so sudden and entire as to hold the world mute with amazement.

Were affrighted - Margin, “laid hold on horror.” This is a more literal rendering. The sense is, they would be struck with horror at what would occur to him.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 18:20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-18.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

They that come after him shall be astonished at his day,.... At the day of his calamity and distress, ruin and destruction, see Psalm 37:13; it would be extremely amazing to them how it should be, that a man who was in such flourishing and prosperous circumstances, should be brought at once, he and his family, into such extreme poverty, and into such a distressed and forlorn condition; they should be, as it were, thunderstruck at it, not being able to account for it: by these are meant such as are younger than the wicked man, and that continue longer than he, yet upon the spot when his calamity befell; or else posterity in later times, who would be made acquainted with the whole affair, and be surprised at the relation of it:

as they that went before were affrighted; not that lived before the times of the wicked man, for they could not see his day, or be spectators of his ruin, and so be frightened at it; but his contemporaries, who are said to be those that went before, not with respect to the wicked man, but with respect to younger persons or posterity that were after; so Bar Tzemach interprets it, which were in his time, or his contemporaries; and Mr. Broughton,

"the present took an horror;'

a late learned commentatorF16Schultens. renders the words, western and eastern; as if all people in the world, east and west, would be amazed and astonished at the sudden and utter destruction of this wicked man.

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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 18:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-18.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

They that come after [him] shall be astonied at his n day, as they that went before were affrighted.

(n) When they will see what came to him.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 18:20". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-18.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

before — rather, “those in the West - those in the East”; that is, all people; literally, “those behind - those before”; for Orientals in geography turn with their faces to the east (not to the north as we), and back to the west; so that before - east; behind - north (so Zechariah 14:8).

day — of ruin (Obadiah 1:12).

affrighted — seized with terror (Job 21:6; Isaiah 13:8).

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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.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 18:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-18.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

They that come after him shall be astonied at his day, as they that went before were affrighted.

Astonied — At the day of his destruction. They shall be amazed at the suddenness, and dreadfulness of it.

Before — Before the persons last mentioned. Those who lived in the time and place where this judgment was inflicted.

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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 18:20". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-18.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 18:20 They that come after [him] shall be astonied at his day, as they that went before were affrighted.

Ver. 20. They that come after him shall be astonied at his day] Future ages, hearing the relation of his dismal destruction, shall stand aghast, as if they beheld the dirty ruins of some once beautiful city. Happy they, if in good earnest they could make that good use of it which Herodotus, the historian, saith men should make of the overthrow of Troy; viz. to take notice thereby that great sinners must look for great punishments from God, Tων μεγαλων αδικηματων μεγαλιε εισι και αι τιμωριαι παρα του Yεου (Herod.). But Ham and his posterity were little the better for the deluge in their days, nor the adjacent countries for Sodom’s downhill.

As they that went before were affrighted] sc. His contemporaries and eyewitnesses of his calamity apprehended horror, so the Hebrew hath it, they took a fright; which yet was little to the purpose without faith and repentance; and unless their hearts fell down when their hairs stood upright.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 18:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-18.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Job 18:20. As they that went before were affrighted As his elders were seized with horror. The plain meaning of the verse seems to be, "His elders, who saw so signal an instance of divine vengeance, were seized with horror; and whoever, in after-times, should hear his history related, would be in amazement at it." Heath.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Bildad sharply takes up the discourse, and seems the more exasperated at Job's fancied presumption and obstinacy.

1. He charges him with impertinent talkativeness; as if he took pleasure in hearing his own voice, and would never have done with his idle words, (arguments, or reasons, he will not call them,) as if they were mere empty sound, Vox et praeterea nihil. Note; (1.) They who engross the conversation, and withal say nothing worth hearing, deserve rebuke. (2.) It is too common with disputants to treat each other with contempt and rudeness; but abuse is not argument.

2. He intimates that Job was inattentive to their sound reasonings, and that it was vain to speak unless he would pay some greater regard to their discourse. Note; It is endless speaking to those who will not hear.

3. He regards himself and his friends as highly insulted: because Job had, chap. Job 17:4 spoken of them as wanting understanding, and chap. Job 12:7 referred them to the beasts for wisdom, he would infer that he esteemed them as brutish and vile. Note; Many people are apt to suspect affronts which were never intended.

4. He accuses him of mad rage. He had said, chap. Job 16:9. "he teareth me in his anger:" No (says Bildad), you are your own tormentor; your passions are your plague, Note; Unmortified passions bring their curse and punishment along with them.

5. He charges him with insolent expectation of changing the settled order of Providence: Shall the earth be forsaken for thee? shall God invert his order of government, and for thy sake cease to punish the wicked, and bless the righteous? and shall the rock be removed out of his place? the unchangeable God alter his purposes, and no longer give to a man according to his works? No: the supposition is presumptuous and arrogant. He first takes it for granted, that Job's sufferings were the punishment of his iniquity, and founds on them this heavy charge.

2nd. Bildad here largely describes the misery of the wicked, and this with a view to Job's case; but he greatly erred from the mark. For, though all that he can say of a sinful state, respecting its punishment and wretchedness, be true, yet it does not always appear in this world; for neither are all who are sinful outwardly afflicted and miserable, nor do the greatest sufferings at all prove the want of the most solid piety.

1. Darkness shall overwhelm the wicked man. His light of prosperity shall be quickly extinguished; the sparks of worldly comforts that he rejoiced in shall be quenched; his family shall be reduced to deep distress, and he shall go down to his grave in darkness and misery. Note; (1.) The joys of a wicked man are but as the sparks from a furnace, so quickly will they be fled and gone. (2.) There is a curse upon the house of the ungodly; and his ill example sways those who belong to him; they perish together.

2. He shall be ensnared and enslaved by afflictions; his strong steps of health shall be straitened by sickness; or his large possessions, round which he stalked in pride, shall be cut short. His craft shall entangle him, and be his ruin; the net that he spread for others shall take his own feet; and, wherever he walks, the snare of sin, and consequently misery, is at his heels; he shall be caught without power to escape, and the robber shall spoil him, unable to make resistance: hidden dangers surround his steps, and sudden destruction is ready to fall upon him. Note; (1.) Satan first lays the snare of sin; and if once the soul come into his net, he will as surely be a tormentor as he hath been the tempter. (2.) When God leaves a wicked man to his own counsels, he rushes headlong into ruin.

3. Terrors make him afraid on every side: within, an accusing conscience; before him, death looks ghastly, the grave yawns, an offended God frowns, hell opens. He would take to his feet; but whither can he run, to fly from God, or from himself? Note; Many a wretched soul flies to amusements, cares, and dissipations, for ease; but vain the attempt: Haret lateri lethalis arundo.

4. Famine and destruction shall come upon him, and devour him to his very skin: and the most terrible of deaths shall bring him down to his grave. All his confidences shall fail him; he shall be rooted out of his tabernacle after beholding the desolations spread around it, and no one comfort remaining; and at last, as a malefactor reluctantly dragged to execution, he shall be brought to the king of terrors, terrors unspeakable before death, in death, after death. Note; (1.) Death is terrible to nature, till grace has disarmed him of his mortal sting; but to the impenitent sinner he continues a king of terrors, the most terrible of all terribles. (2.) When God strikes, vain are friends and physicians, and every human support. In that hour, the most infatuated soul will feel every creature-comfort and confidence to be vanity of vanities.

5. His family shall fall with him. Death will erect his throne in the sinner's tabernacle, nor leave it till ruin, like that which was poured on Sodom, hath utterly laid it waste; because it is none of his, being gotten by fraud and oppression, or by his abuse justly forfeited. Neither root nor branch shall remain; struck as with the lightning's blast, no heir shall inherit his estate, neither son nor nephew; nor so much as a creature be left in his desolate habitation.

6. His memory shall perish. He thought to perpetuate a great name in the earth, but the remembrance of it shall be blotted from the annals of time. Darkness, utter and eternal, must receive him, driven from his prosperity reluctant, and chased out of the world as a savage beast whose death is a deliverance to the country. Note; However great and honourable among men the prosperous sinner appears, his end will be to lie down in shame and everlasting contempt.

7. His cotemporaries, amazed at God's judgments, shall hear of his fall, and posterity be astonished at the relation.

8. Bildad sums up his speech, with confidence of the truth of what he had spoken: Surely, such are the dwellings of the wicked, as above described; and this is the place, the miserable lot assigned the reprobate soul of him that knoweth not God; for ignorance of God is at the bottom of all sin, and ruin eternal the wages of it.

In all this description of a wicked man's sufferings, there is an evident allusion to Job's case; afflicted in his person and his family, robbed and spoiled, seeing the desolations of his house, acknowledging the terrors that he felt, and bemoaning his hopeless wretchedness: and hence Bildad would infer, that, being like the wicked in his sufferings, he must have resembled them in his sins.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 18:20". 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

At his day, i.e. at the day of his destruction, as the word day is used, Psalms 37:13 137:7 Ezekiel 21:25 Obadiah 1:12. They shall be amazed at the suddenness, and dreadfulness, and prodigiousness of it, as Job’s friends were at his calamities, Job 2:12,13. They that went before, i.e. before the persons last mentioned; those who lived in the time and place where this judgment was inflicted.

Affrighted; or, filled with horror; partly through humanity and compassion, and partly for fear, lest the judgment should overtake them also.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 18:20". 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

20.They that come after him’ they that went before — Ewald, Dillman, Zockler, read, “Men of the west;”’ “Men of the east;” that is, Men of all lands; while others prefer the reading of the Authorized Version. The words and signify things behind and before, and may be spoken either of time or of place. The Hebrew marked the points of the compass with his face to the east; the right hand signified the south; the left, the north; before, the east; behind, the west.

His day — The day of a man’s doom is his day, for it is all that remains to him.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 18:20". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-18.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Them. Literally, "the first," who were witnesses of his misery. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 18:20". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-18.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Such a fate would appall people everywhere.

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 18:20". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-18.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

day. Put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of Adjunct), App-6, for the thing done in the day: i.e. his fall.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 18:20". "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

They that come after him shall be astonied at his day, as they that went before were affrighted.

After... before - rather, 'those in the West-those in the East' - i:e., all people; literally, those behind-these before; because Orientals, in geography, turn with their face to the East (not to the North, as we do), and back to the West; so that before-East: behind-West (so Zechariah 14:8, "the former (i:e., Eastern) sea-the hinder (Western) sea"). However, the English, version is good sense: "they that went before" are the sinner's contemporaries, contrasted with "those that come after him."

Day - of ruin (Obadiah 1:12; Psalms 37:13; Psalms 137:7 ).

Affrighted - seized with terror (Job 21:6; Isaiah 13:8).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 18:20". "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

(20) Shall be astonied at his day.—That is, his doom, or destiny. He shall stand forth as a warning and monument to all.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 18:20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-18.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

They that come after him shall be astonied at his day, as they that went before were affrighted.
astonied
Deuteronomy 29:23,24; 1 Kings 9:8; Jeremiah 18:16
his day
Psalms 37:13; 137:7; Ezekiel 21:25; Obadiah 1:11-15; Luke 19:42,44
went
or, lived with him. were affrighted. Heb. laid hold on horror.
2:12,13; 19:13-19
Reciprocal: Ezekiel 21:29 - whose

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 18:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-18.html.