Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 36:20

"Do not long for the night, When people vanish in their place.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Death;   Watchfulness;  
Dictionaries:
Holman Bible Dictionary - Job, the Book of;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Elihu;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Desire not the night - Thou hast wished for death; (here called night); desire it not; leave that with God. If he hear thee, and send death, thou mayest be cut off in a way at which thy soul would shudder.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 36:20". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-36.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Desire not the night - That is, evidently, “the night of death.” The darkness of the night is an emblem of death, and it is not uncommon to speak of death in this manner; see John 9:4, “The night cometh, when no man can work.” Elihu seems to have supposed that Job might have looked forward to death as to a time of release; that so far from “dreading” what he had said would come, that God would cut him off at a stroke, it might be the very thing which he desired, and which he anticipated would be an end of his sufferings. Indeed Job had more than once expressed some such sentiment, and Elihu designs to meet that state of mind, and to charge him not to look forward to death as relief. If his present state of mind continued, he says, he would perish under the “wrath” of God; and death in such a manner, great as might be his sufferings here, could not be desirable.

When people are cut off in their place - On this passage, Schultens enumerates no less than “fifteen” different interpretations which have been given, and at the end of this enumeration remarks that he “waits for clearer light to overcome the shades of this night.” Rosenmullcr supposes it means,” Long not for the night, in which nations go under themselves;” that is, in which they go down to the inferior regions, or in which they perish. Noyes renders it, “To which nations are taken away to their place.” Urnbroil renders it, “Pant not for the night, to go down to the people who dwell under thee;” that is, to the Shades, or to those that dwell in Sheol. Prof. Lee translates it, “Pant not for the night, for the rising of the populace from their places.” Coverdale, “Prolong not thou the time, until there come a night for thee to set other people in thy stead.” The Septuagint, “Do not draw out the night, that the people may come instead of them;” that is, to their assistance.

Dr. Good “Neither long thou for the night, for the vaults of the nations underneath them;” and supposes that the reference is to the “catacombs,” or mummy-pits that were employed for burial-places. These are but specimens of the interpretations which have been proposed for this passage, and it is easy to see that there is little prospect of being able to explain it in a satisfactory manner. The principal difficulty in the passage is in the word rendered “cut off,” (עלה ‛âlâh ) which means “to go up, to ascend,” and in the incongruity between that and the word rendered in their place (תחתם tachthâm ), which literally means “under them.” A literal translation of the passage is, “Do not desire the night to ascend to the people under them;” but I confess I cannot understand the passage, after all the attempts made to explain it. The trauslation given by Umbreit, seems best to agree with the connection, but I am unable to see that the Hebrew would bear this. See, however, his Note on the passage. The word עלה ‛âlâh he understands here in the sense of “going away,” or “bearing away,” and the pbrase the “people under them,” as denoting the “Shades” in the world beneath us. The whole expression then would be equivalent to a wish “to die” - with the expectation that there would be a change for the better, or a release from present sufferings. Elihu admonishes Job not to indulge such a wish, for it would be no gain for a man to die in the state of mind in which he then was.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 36:20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-36.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Desire not the night,.... Either in a literal sense, which Job might do; not for secrecy to commit sin, as the thief, murderer, and adulterer do; Elihu had no such suspicion of Job; nor for ease and rest, which he expected not; nor would his sores admit thereof; his nights were wearisome, and when come he wished they were gone, Job 7:2; but either for retirement, that he might muse and consider, and endeavour to search and find out the reason of God's dealing with men, in cutting off sometimes such great numbers together. Elihu suggests, that such a search was altogether vain and to no purpose; he would never be able to find out the reason of these things: or rather for shelter from the eye and hand of God; as nothing before mentioned could ward off his stroke, so neither could the night or darkness preserve from it; see Psalm 139:11. Or else the words may be taken in a figurative sense; either of the night of calamity and distress, he might be tempted to desire and wish for, to come upon his enemies; or rather of the night of death, he wished for himself, as he often had done; in doing which Elihu suggests he was wrong; not considering that if God should take him away with a stroke, and he not be humbled and brought to repentance, what would be the consequence of it;

when people are cut off in their place; as sometimes they are in the night, literally taken; just in the place where they stood or lay down, without moving elsewhere, or stirring hand or foot as it were. So Amraphel, and the kings with him, as Jarchi observes, were cut off in the night, the firstborn of Egypt, the Midianites and Sennacherib's army, Genesis 14:15; and so in the night of death, figuratively, the common passage of all men, as Mr. Broughton observes, who renders the words, "for people's passage to their place".

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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 36:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-36.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

o Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place.

(o) Do not be curious in seeking the cause of God's judgments, when he destroys any.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 36:20". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-36.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Desire — pant for. Job had wished for death (Job 3:3-9, etc.).

night — (John 9:4).

when — rather, “whereby.”

cut off — literally, “ascend,” as the corn cut and lifted upon the wagon or stack (Job 36:26); so “cut off,” “disappear.”

in their place — literally, “under themselves”; so, without moving from their place, on the spot, suddenly (Job 40:12) [Maurer]. Umbreit‘s translation: “To ascend (which is really, as thou wilt find to thy cost, to descend) to the people below” (literally, “under themselves”), answers better to the parallelism and the Hebrew. Thou pantest for death as desirable, but it is a “night” or region of darkness; thy fancied ascent (amelioration) will prove a descent (deterioration) (Job 10:22); therefore desire it not.

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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 36:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-36.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place.

The night — The night of death, which Job had often desired, for then, thou art irrecoverably gone: take heed of thy foolish and often repeated desire of death, lest God inflict it upon thee in anger.

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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 36:20". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-36.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 36:20 Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place.

Ver. 20. Desire not the night, &c.] That is, as some sense it, do not thou peevishly desire death, {see Job 7:15} lest it come too soon, and it do by thee as it doth by many a one, whom it cuts off in judgment. For surely in the state thou art now in thou oughtest to fear an extraordinary kind of death, an inlet to eternal destruction, as in the deluge, Sodom, and Egypt. Others render it thus, Neither let it disquiet thee in the night, how people are destroyed out of their place; that is, in the night season, when thy mind is void of cares, puzzle not thyself how and why some nations perish, and not others, but rather rest thyself upon God’s providence and unsearchable wisdom, and trouble not thy head in searching out the cause of this so sudden misfortune. Brentius makes this the sense, Noli impie agere, Desire not the night; that is, deal not wickedly by complaining against God, and impatiently bearing his hand; as thieves and adulterers desire the night for despatch of their deeds of darkness. Think not thou to hide thyself in the dark from the dint of God’s displeasure.

When people are cut off in their place] Heb. ascend under them; i.e. rise, that they may fall, Psalms 102:10; as the light of a candle, when it is ready to go out, flieth up, and then vanisheth away; or as the corn is first taken up by the hand of the reaper, and then cut off, and laid flat on the ground.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 36:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-36.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Job 36:20. Desire not the night Desire not the night that thou mayest oppress the afflicted, expecting nothing less: Houbigant. But Heath renders it, Wish not earnestly for the night, to descend to the lower regions; and the 21st verse, Beware, look not upon iniquity, so as to choose it rather than affliction.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 36:20". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/job-36.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Desire not the night; either,

1. Properly, that in it thou mayst find some ease or rest, as men usually do. But this Job did not much desire, for he complains that his nights were as restless as his days. Or rather,

2. Metaphorically, the night of death, which is called the night both in Scripture, as John 9:4, and in other writers; and which Job had oft and earnestly desired, and even thirsted after, as this verb notes. See Job 7:15. And this seems best to agree with the foregoing counsel, Job 36:18, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke; for then, saith he, thou art irrecoverably lost and gone; and therefore take heed of thy foolish and oft-repeated desire of death, lest God inflict it upon thee in great anger. When; or, by which; which words are oft understood in divers texts of Scripture. People; even whole nations and bodies of people, which are all God’s creatures as well as thou, and yet are not spared by him, but cut off in wrath, and many of them sent from one death to another; take heed therefore thou be not added to the number.

Are cut off, Heb. are made to ascend, i.e. to vanish, or perish, or die, as this verb is oft used, as Job 18:16 Psalms 102:24.

In their place; in their several places where they are; or suddenly, before they can remove out of the place where the hand and stroke of God finds them; or in the place where they are settled and surrounded with all manner of comforts, and supports, and friends, all which could not prevent their being cut off. Possibly this phrase may allude to that expression of Job’s, Job 29:18, I shall die in my nest.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 36:20". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-36.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

20.The night — Night is used figuratively for death, (Job 34:20; Job 34:25,) or for destruction heightened by night. Psalms 91:5. It may mean his own death, or the retributive death of others; Job having spoken of night in the latter sense, so as possibly to awaken on the part of Elihu suspicious of malevolence, though unjustly.

Cut off — Same as in Job 5:26, andPsalms 102:24, (literally, “go up,”) and here spoken in general of removal by death to sheol, the world beneath them, (thus Conant and Carey,) or “beneath where the nations are,” (Hitzig;) but better, as in Job 40:12, in their place — the place of their power and pride. The latter clause of the verse explains the former. In sublime language (Job 3:13-19) Job had expressed his desire that he might join the mighty dead; a description which must have profoundly impressed the youthful listener Elihu. He now replies, Not for the night, not “for the going up of the nations,” should Job long, (same as in Job 7:2;) they are going up fast enough, — this “innumerable caravan that moves to that mysterious realm” of death, — without Job’s panting to join them. Job’s time to “be gathered” will come soon enough without all this ado.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 36:20". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-36.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Prolong not the night, &c. Prolong not causes that are brought before thee, but dispatch, by early rising, the business of them that come up to thee. (Challoner) --- Septuagint, "and all the men of power do not withdraw in the night," from just punishment. Theodotion adds, "that the people may come up against them," to demand vengeance. Do strict justice both to the rich and to the poor, without pity or fear. (Haydock) --- This text is very obscure; and the Hebrew may have different meanings, which do not, however, seem well connected with the rest. "Plant not after night, when people retire home;" (Calmet) or Protestants, "are cut off in their place." (Haydock) --- Delay not to banish temptations, or they will increase. (St. Gregory xxvi. 38.) (Worthington)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 36:20". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-36.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place.

Desire - pant for [ tish'ap (Hebrew #7602)]. Job had wished for death, (Job 3:3-9, etc.)

Night - (John 9:4).

When, l

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 36:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-36.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(20) Desire not the night—i.e., of death, as Job had done (Job 16:22; Job 17:13, &c., Job 19:27), or as, at all events, his words might be understood. For “people,” read peoples: i.e., nations.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 36:20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-36.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place.
Desire
3:20,21; 6:9; 7:15; 14:13; 17:13,14
cut
Exodus 12:29; 2 Kings 19:35; Proverbs 14:32; Ecclesiastes 11:3; Daniel 5:30; Luke 12:20; Acts 1:25; 1 Thessalonians 5:2,3
Reciprocal: Job 40:12 - in

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 36:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-36.html.