INTRODUCTION TO Job 27
Though Job's friends were become silent, and dropped the controversy with him, he still continued his discourse in this and the four following chapters; in which he asserts his integrity; illustrates and confirms his former sentiments; gives further proof of his knowledge of things, natural and divine; takes notice of his former state of prosperity, and of his present distresses and afflictions, which came upon him, notwithstanding his piety, humanity, and beneficence, and his freedom from the grosser acts of sin, both with respect to God and men, all which he enlarges upon. In this chapter he gives his word and oath for it, that he would never belie himself, and own that he was an hypocrite, when he was not, but would continue to assert his integrity, and the righteousness of his cause, as long as he lived, Job 27:1; for to be an hypocrite, and to attempt to conceal his hypocrisy, would be of no advantage to him, either in life, or in death, Job 27:7; and was this his character and case, upon their principles, he could expect no other than to be a miserable man, as wicked men are, who have their blessings turned into curses, or taken away from them, and they removed out of the world in the most awful and terrible manner, and under manifest tokens of the wrath and displeasure of God, Job 27:11.
Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,Moreover Job continued his parable,.... Having finished his discourse concerning the worlds and ways of God, and the display of his majesty, power, and glory, in them, he pauses awhile, waiting for Zophar, whose turn was next to rise up, and make a reply to him; but neither he, nor any of his friends, reassumed the debate, but kept a profound silence, and chose not to carry on the dispute any further with him; either concluding him to be an obstinate man, not open to conviction, and on whom no impressions could be made, and that it was all lost time and labour to use any argument with him; or else being convicted in their minds that he was in the right, and they in the wrong, though they did not choose to own it; and especially being surprised with what he had last said concerning God and his works, whereby they perceived he had great knowledge of divine things, and could not be the man they had suspected him to be from his afflictions: however, though they are silent, Job was not, "he added to take or lift up his parable" (a), as the words may be rendered; or his oration, as Mr. Broughton, his discourse; which, because it consisted of choice and principal things, which command regard and attention, of wise, grave, serious, and sententious sayings, and some of them such as not easy to be understood, being delivered in similes and figurative expressions, as particularly in the following chapter, it is called his parable; what are called parables being proverbial phrases, dark sayings, allegorical or metaphorical expressions, and the like; and which way of speaking Job is here said to take, "and lift up", which is an eastern phraseology, as appears from Balaam's use of it, Numbers 23:7; and may signify, that he delivered the following oration with great freedom, boldness, and confidence, and with a high tone and loud voice; to all which he might be induced by observing, through the silence of his friends, that he had got the advantage of them, and had carried his point, and had brought them to conviction or confusion, or however to silence, which gave him heart and spirit to proceed on with his oration, which he added to his former discourse:
and said; as follows.
(a) "et addidit assumere suam parabolam", Pagninus, Montanus.
As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul;As God liveth,.... Which is an oath, as Jarchi observes, and is a form of one frequently used, see 2 Samuel 2:27; and is used by God himself, who, because he can swear by no greater, swears by himself, and by his life, which ever continues, as in Ezekiel 18:3; and many other places; and so the Angel of the Lord, even the uncreated Angel, Daniel 12:7; and so should men, when they swear at all, it should be in this manner, see Jeremiah 4:2; though this ought not to be but in cases of moment and importance, for the confirmation of the truth, and to put an end to strife, when it cannot be done any other way than by an appeal to God; as was the present case with Job, it being about hypocrisy, and want of integrity his friends charged him with; and such a case can only be determined truly and fully by God, who is here described as the living God, by whom men swear, in opposition to the idols of the Gentiles, which are of gold, silver, wood, and stone, and without life and breath, or to their deified heroes, who were dead men; but the true God is the living God, has life in and of himself, and is the fountain of life to others, the author and giver of life, natural, spiritual, and eternal, and who himself lives for ever and ever; and as such is the object of faith and confidence, of fear and reverence, of love and affection; all which swearing by him supposes and implies; it is a saying of R. Joshuah, as Jarchi on the place relates it,
"that Job from love served God, for no man swears by the life of a king but who loves the king;''
the object swore by is further described,
who hath taken away my judgment; not the judgment of his mind, or his sense of judging things, which remained with him quick and strong, notwithstanding his afflictions; nor correction with judgment, which continued with him; but, as the Targum paraphrases it,
"he hath taken away the rule of my judgment;''
that is, among men, his substance, wealth, and riches, his former affluence and prosperity, which while he enjoyed, he was reckoned a good man; but now all this being taken away by the hand of God as it was, he was censured as a wicked man, and even by his friends; or rather it is a complaint, that God had neglected the judgment of him, like that of the church in Isaiah 40:27; that he did not stir up himself to his judgment, even to his cause; did not vindicate him, though he appealed to him; did not admit him to his judgment seat, nor give his cause a hearing, and decide it, though he had most earnestly desired it; nor did he let him know the reason of his thus dealing and contending with him; yea, he afflicted him severely, though righteous and innocent, in which Job obliquely reflects upon the dealings of God with him; though he does not charge him with injustice, or break out into blasphemy of him; yet this seems to be one of those speeches which God disapproved of, and is taken notice of by Elihu with a censure, Job 34:5;
and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul; with whom nothing is impossible, and who could easily have relieved him from his distresses; and who was "Shaddai", the all-sufficient Being, who could have supplied him with all things temporal and spiritual he wanted; yet instead of this "vexed his soul" with adversity, with afflictions very grievous to him, his hand touching and pressing him sore: or, "hath made my soul bitter" (b); dealt bitterly with him, as the Almighty did with Naomi, Ruth 1:20. Afflictions are bitter things, they are like the waters of Marah, they are wormwood and gall, they cause bitter distress and sorrow, and make a man go and speak in the bitterness of his soul; and these are of God, to whom job ascribes his, and not to chance and fortune; they were bitter things God appointed for him and wrote against him.
(b) "affecit amaritudine animam meam", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Michaelis; so Sept.
All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;All the while my breath is in me,.... So long the oath of God would be upon him, or he bound himself under it:
and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; which signifies the same thing. The breath of a man is his spirit, and this is of God, the Father of spirits; he first breathed into man the breath of life, and he became a living soul or spirit, Genesis 2:7; it is he that gives life and breath to every man, Acts 17:25, and continues it as long as he pleases, which is a very precarious thing; for it is in his nostrils, where it is drawn to and fro and soon and easily stopped; nor will it always continue, it will some time not be, it will go forth, and then man dies, and returns to the earth, Ecclesiastes 12:7; but as long as there is breath there is life; so that to say this is the same as to say, as long as I live, or have a being, Psalm 104:33; and while that continued, Job looked upon himself under the oath he had taken by the living God.
My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.My lips shall not speak wickedness,.... This is the thing he swears to, this the matter of his oath, not only that he would not speak a wicked word not anything corrupt, unsavoury, unchaste, profane, and idle nor speak evil of his neighbours and friends or of any man; but that he would not speak wickedly of himself, as he must do, if he owned himself to be a wicked man and an hypocrite as his friends charged him, and they would have had him confessed; but he swears he would not utter such wickedness as long as he had any breath in him:
nor my tongue utter deceit; which respects the same thing; not merely any fallacy or lie, or what might impose upon and deceive another, which yet he was careful of; but such deceit and falsehood as would be a belying himself, which would be the case should he say that he was devoid of integrity and sincerity.
God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.God forbid that I should justify you,.... Not but that he counted them righteous and good men God-ward; he did not take upon him to judge their state, and to justify or condemn them with respect to their everlasting condition; but he could not justify them in their censures of him, and say they did a right thing in charging him with wickedness and hypocrisy; nor could he justify them in all their sentiments and doctrines which they had delivered concerning the punishment of the wicked in this life, and the happiness that attends all good men; and that a man by his outward circumstances may be known to be either a good man or a bad man; such things as these he could not say were right; for so to do would be to call evil good, and good evil; and therefore he expresses his utmost abhorrence and detestation of showing his approbation of such conduct as theirs towards him, and of such unbecoming sentiments of God, and of his dealings, they had entertained; and to join in with which would be a profanation and a pollution, as the word used by him signifies; he could not do it without defiling his conscience, and profaning truth:
until I die one will not remove my integrity from me; Job was an upright man both in heart and life, through the grace of God bestowed on him; and he continued in his integrity, notwithstanding the temptations of Satan, and his attacks upon him, and the solicitations of his wife; and he determined through the grace of God to persist therein to the end of his life; though what he chiefly means here is, that he would not part with his character as an upright man, which he had always had, and God himself had bore testimony to; he would never give up this till he gave up the ghost; he would never suffer his integrity to be removed from him, nor remove it from himself by denying that it belonged to him, which his friends bore hard upon him to do. So Jarchi paraphrases it,
"I will not confess (or agree) to your saying, that I am not upright;''
the phrase, "till I die", seems rather to belong to the first clause, though it is true of both, and may be repeated in this.
My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go,.... Meaning not his personal righteousness, or the righteousness of his works, as his justifying righteousness before God, and for acceptance with him; which no man that is convinced of the insufficiency of, as Job was, will hold fast, but renounce, and desire, with the Apostle Paul, not to be found in it, Philippians 3:9. Indeed the righteousness of his living Redeemer, which was his, and he might call so, this he knew, and knew he should be justified by it, and which he laid hold upon by faith in the strong exercise of it, and would not drop it, or become remiss in it, but retain it, and constantly make mention of it, and plead it as his justifying righteousness with God; but here he intends the righteousness of his cause, which he always maintained strongly, and was determined he ever would, and never give way, or let it drop, but continue to affirm, that he was a righteous man, and that it was not for any unrighteousness he had done to any man that God dealt thus with him; he had wronged no man, he had done justice to all men, as well as he was not devoid of the fear of God, and piety towards him; and this character of himself he would never give up, but defend to the uttermost:
my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live; not that he imagined he should or could live without sin, so that his conscience could never charge, accuse, or upbraid him with it; for there is no man, let him live a life ever so harmless and inoffensive to God and man, but his heart will smite him, and condemn him for his sins committed in thought, word, and deed: but Job's sense is, that he would never deny his integrity, or renounce the righteousness of his cause, and own himself to be an insincere and unrighteous man; should he do this, he should speak contrary to his own conscience, which would accuse and reproach him for so saying, and therefore he was determined it never should; for, as long as he lived, he neither could nor would say any such thing. Some render the last phrase, "for my days" (c), or "concerning" them; for my course of life, all my days, so Jarchi; for that my heart shall not reproach me, as being conscious to himself he had lived in all good conscience to that day, and trusted he ever should; but the sense before given is best.
(c) "propter dies meos", Munster; "vel propter dies vitae meae", Michaelis; "de diebus meis", Schultens.
Let mine enemy be as the wicked, and he that riseth up against me as the unrighteous.Let mine enemy be as the wicked,.... Job in this, and some following verses, shows, that he was not, and could not, and would not be a wicked man and an hypocrite, or however had no opinion and liking of such persons; for whatever his friends might think of him, because he had said so much of their outward prosperity in this world; yet he was far from approving of or conniving at their wickedness and hypocrisy, or choosing them for his companions, and joining with them in their actions, or imagining they were really happy persons; so far from it, that he would not be in their condition and circumstances for all the world: for if he was to wish a bad thing to the greatest enemy he had, he could not wish him any worse than to be as a wicked and unrighteous man; that is, to be a wicked and unrighteous man; which it is impossible for a good man to wish, and indeed would be a needless wish, since all that are enemies to good men, as such, must be wicked; and such were Job's enemies, as the Chaldeans and Sabeans; but that they might be as such, in their state and circumstances, or rather as they will be in the consequence of things, most wretched and miserable; for they are always under the displeasure of God, and hated by him; and whatever fulness they may have of the things of this world, they have them with a curse, and they are curses to them, and their end will be everlasting ruin and destruction; wherefore the Septuagint version is,
"as the overthrow of the ungodly, and as the perdition of transgressors;''
though some take this to be a kind of an ironic imprecation, and that by the wicked man here, and unrighteous in the next clause, he means himself, whom his friends reckoned a wicked and unrighteous man; and then the sense is, I wish you all, my friends, and even the worst enemies I have, were but as wicked Job is, as you call him; not that he wished they might be afflicted in body, family, and estate, as he was, but that they were as good men as he was, and partook of as much of the grace of God as he did, and had the same integrity and righteousness as he had, see Acts 26:29; and such a wish as this, as it serves to illustrate his own character, so it breathes charity and good will to others; and indeed it cannot be thought the words are to be taken in such a sense as that he wished the same evils might be retorted upon his enemies, whether open or secret, which they were the means of bringing upon him, which was contrary to the spirit of Job, Job 31:29. Some consider them not as an imprecation, but as a prediction, "mine enemy shall be as the wicked" (e); and may have respect to his friends, who were so ready to charge him with wickedness, and suggests that in the issue of thin; they would be found, and not he, guilty of sin folly, and to have said the things that were not right, neither of God, nor of him, which had its accomplishment, Job 42:7;
and he that riseth up against me as the unrighteous; which is but another way of expressing the same thing; for an enemy, and one that rises up against a man, is the same person; only this the better explains what enemy is intended, even an open one, that rises up in an hostile manner, full of rage and fury; and so a wicked and an unrighteous man are the same, and are frequently put together as describing the same sort of persons, see Isaiah 55:7.
(e) "erit ut impius inimieus meus", Pagninus, Montanus, Boldacius; so Junius & Tremellius, Broughton, & Ramban.
For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?For what is the hope of the hypocrite,.... In religion, who seems to be what he is not, a holy and righteous man; professes to have what he has not, the grace of God; pretends to do what he does not, worship God sincerely and fervently, and does all he does to be seen of men; though such a man may have an hope, as he has, of an interest in the divine layout, and of eternal glory and happiness, what will it signify? what avail will it be unto him? what will it issue in? Job was of the same mind in this with Bildad and Zophar, that such a man's hope is as the spider's web, and as the giving up of the ghost, Job 8:14; however he may please himself with it in this life, it will be of no service to him at death; for it is not like that of the true believer's, that is sure and steadfast, and founded upon the perfect righteousness and sacrifice of Christ; but upon his outward substance, fancying, that because God prospers him in this world, he is highly in his favour, and shall enjoy the happiness of the world to come; and upon his external profession of religion, and found of duties performed by him, but he will find himself mistaken: though he hath gained; great wealth and riches under a guise of religion, and by that means making gain of godliness, and taking the one for the other; so the Targum,
"because he hath gathered the mammon of falsehood;''
and also has great gifts, and a great deal of head knowledge, being able to talk of and dispute about most points of religion, and so has gained a great name among men both for knowledge and holiness, and yet all will not stand him in any stead, or be of any advantage to him:
when God taketh away his soul? out of his body by death, as a sword is drawn out of its scabbard, and which is as easily done by him; or as a shoe is plucked off from the foot, as Aben Ezra, and what he has a right to do, and will do it: and this taking it away seems to be in a violent manner, though not by what is called a violent death, yet against the will of the person; a good man is willing to die, is desirous of it, and gives up the ghost cheerfully; but an hypocrite is not willing to die, being afraid of death, and therefore his life or soul is taken from him without his consent and will, and not in love but in wrath, as the latter part of this chapter shows. Now Job had an hope which bore him up under all his troubles, and which he retained in the most killing and distressed circumstances, and which continued with him, and supported him in the views of death and eternity, so that he could look upon death, and into another world, with pleasure, and therefore could be no hypocrite, see Job 13:15.
Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh, upon him? No, he will not, he heareth not sinners, and such as regard iniquity in their hearts, Psalm 66:18; every man has trouble more or less in this life, even the best of men; and generally speaking they have the most, and wicked men the least; but when death comes, he is a king of terrors to them, and they find sorrow and trouble; and especially at the day of judgment, when they will cry for mercy; and hypocrites, as the foolish virgins, will cry, "Lord, Lord, open unto us", Matthew 25:11; but when they call for mercy, the Lord will not answer, but laugh at their calamity, and mock when their fear cometh, Proverbs 1:26; but God hears the cries of his people when in, trouble, whether in, life, or, in death, and is a present help unto them; and when, strength and heart fail, he is their portion, and will be so for evermore; and though sometimes they think he does not hear them, as Job sometimes complains, yet he makes it appear that he does sooner or later, and so Job describes himself as one that "calleth upon God, and he answereth him", Job 12:4; and therefore might conclude he was no hypocrite.
Will he delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call upon God?Will he delight himself in the Almighty?.... That is, the hypocrite; no, he will not; he may seem to delight in, him, but he does not truly and sincerely; not in him as the Almighty, or in his omnipotence, into whose hands it is a fearful thing to fall, and who is able to destroy soul and body in hell; nor his omniscience, who, searches and knows the hearts of all men, and the insincerity of the hypocrite, covert to men soever he is; nor in his holiness, which at heart he loves not; nor in his ways and worship, word, ordinances, and people, though he makes a show of it, Isaiah 58:2;
will he always call upon God? God only is to be called upon, and it becomes all men to call upon him for all blessings, temporal and spiritual; and this should be done in faith, with fervency, in sincerity and uprightness of soul, and with constancy, always, at all times both of prosperity and adversity; but an hypocrite does not, and cannot call upon God in a sincere and spiritual manner; nor is he constant in this work, only by fits and starts, when it is for his worldly interest and external honour so to do. Now Job was one that delighted in God, was uneasy at his absence, longed for communion with him, sought earnestly after him, frequently and constantly called upon him, though he was wrongly charged with casting off the fear of God, and restraining prayer before him, and therefore no hypocrite. Some understand (f) all this as affirmed of the hypocrite, setting forth his present seeming state of happiness; as that he has a hope of divine favour, and of eternal felicity; has much peace and tranquillity of mind in life, and at death; is heard of God when trouble comes, and so gets out of it, and enjoys great prosperity; professes much delight and pleasure in God, and his ways, and is a constant caller upon him, and keeps close to the external duties of religion; and yet, notwithstanding all this, is in the issue, when death comes, exceeding miserable, as the following part of the chapter shows.
I will teach you by the hand of God: that which is with the Almighty will I not conceal.I will teach you by the hand of God,.... To serve God, and speak truth, says one of the Jewish commentators (g); rather the works of God, and methods of his providence, with wicked men and hypocrites; the wisdom of God in his dispensations towards them; the reasons why he suffers them to live in outward prosperity and happiness, and what in the issue will be their case and circumstances; wherefore some render the words, "I will teach you the hand of God", or "of", or "concerning the hand of God" (h); and so Mr. Broughton, of God, his hand; not his works of nature which his hand had wrought, of which he had discoursed in the preceding chapter; but his works of providence, and those more mysterious ones relating to the afflictions of the godly, and the prosperity of the wicked. Job had been a teacher and instructor of others in the times of his prosperity, and his words had upheld, strengthened, and comforted many, Job 4:3; and he was not the less qualified for, nor the less capable of such an office now in his adversity, which had been a school to him, in which he had learned many useful lessons himself, and so was in a better capacity of teaching others. Thus some render the words, "I will teach you", being in or "under the hand of God" (i); under his mighty hand, his afflicting, chastising hand, which had touched him, and pressed him sore, and yet had guided and instructed him in many things, and particularly relating to the subject he proposed to instruct his friends in; who, though they were men of knowledge, and in years, yet he apprehended needed instruction; and he undertook to give them some by the good hand of God upon him, through his help and assistance, and under the influences and teachings of his spirit. The Targum is,
"I will teach you by the prophecy of God;''
see Ezekiel 1:3;
that which is with the Almighty will I not conceal; meaning not the secret purposes and decrees of God within himself, which cannot be known, unless he reveals them; rather secret truths, which are not obvious to everyone, the mysteries of the kingdom, the wisdom of God in a mystery, the knowledge of which the Lord vouchsafes to some of his people in a very peculiar manner; though the mysteries of Providence seem chiefly intended, which those that carefully observe attain to an understanding of, so as to be capable of instructing others; and indeed what is in reserve with God for men among his treasures, whether of grace or glory for his own peculiar people, or especially of wrath and vengeance for wicked men and hypocrites, may be here designed; and whatever knowledge men have of the mysteries of nature, providence, and grace, which may be profitable unto others, and make for the glory of God, should not be concealed from men, see Job 6:10.
(g) Simeon Bar Tzemach. (h) "manum Dei", Beza, Cocceius; "de manu Dei", Mercerus, Piscator, Drusius, Schmidt, Michaelis, Schultens. (i) "In plaga Dei fortis versans", Junius & Tremellius.
Behold, all ye yourselves have seen it; why then are ye thus altogether vain?Behold, all ye yourselves have seen it,.... As they were men of observation, at least made great pretensions to it, as well as of age and experience, they must have seen and observed somewhat at least of the above things; they must have seen the wicked, as David afterwards did, spreading himself like a green bay tree, and the hypocrites in easy and flourishing circumstances, and good men labouring under great afflictions and pressures, and Job himself was now an instance of that before their eyes:
why then are ye thus altogether vain? or "become vain in vanity" (k); so exceeding vain, so excessively trifling, as to speak and act against the dictates of their own conscience, against their own sense, and what they saw with their own eyes, and advance notions so contrary thereunto; as to affirm that evil men are always punished of God in this life, and good men are succeeded and prospered by him; and so from Job's afflictions drew so vain and empty a conclusion, that he must be a wicked man and an hypocrite.
(k) "vanitate vanescitis", Pagninus, Junius & Tremellius, Michaelis, Schultens; "vel evanescitis", Montanus, Bolducius, Beza, Mercerus, Drusius, Piscator, Cocceius.
This is the portion of a wicked man with God, and the heritage of oppressors, which they shall receive of the Almighty.This is the portion of a wicked man with God,.... Not to be punished in this life, but after death. This is what Job undertook to teach his friends, and is the purport of what follows in this chapter. A wicked man is not only one that has been so from the womb, and is openly and notoriously a wicked man, but one also that is so secretly, under a mask of sobriety, religion, and godliness, and is an hypocrite, for of such Job speaks in the context; and the portion of such a man is not what he has in this life, which is oftentimes a very affluent one as to the things of this world, but what he has after death, which is banishment from the presence of God, the everlasting portion of his people, a part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, the wrath of God to the uttermost, the second death, and a dwelling with devils and wicked men, such as himself, even a portion with hypocrites, which of all is the most dreadful and miserable, Matthew 24:51; and this is "with God", is appointed by him; for God has appointed the wicked, the vessels of wrath, fitted by their sins for destruction to the day of evil, to everlasting ruin and destruction; and it is prepared by him for them, as for the devil and his angels, and for them it is reserved among his treasures, even blackness of darkness, damnation, wrath, and vengeance:
and the heritage of oppressors, which they shall receive of the Almighty; these are such who are either oppressors of the poor in their natural and civil rights, taking from or denying to them what of right is their due; or oppressors of the saints in their religious rights and privileges, furious persecutors of them; and who, being powerful, are terrible, as the word signifies: there is an "heritage", or an inheritance for those, which is entailed upon them, and will descend unto them, as the firstborn of their father the devil, as children of disobedience, and so of wrath, and like an inheritance will endure: and this they "shall receive"; it is future, it is wrath to come, and it is certain there is no escaping it; it is their due desert, and they shall receive it; it is in the hands of the almighty God, and he will render it to them, and they shall most assuredly inherit it.
If his children be multiplied, it is for the sword: and his offspring shall not be satisfied with bread.If his children be multiplied,.... As it is possible they may; this is one external blessing common to good men and bad men. Haman, that proud oppressor, left ten sons behind him, and wicked Ahab had seventy, Esther 9:12,
it is for the sword; for them that kill with the sword, as the Targum; to be killed with it, as in the two instances above; Haman's ten sons were slain by the sword of the Jews, Esther 9:13, and Ahab's seventy sons by the sword of Jehu, or those he ordered to slay them, 2 Kings 10:7. The children of such wicked persons are oftentimes put to death, either by the sword of the enemy, fall in battle in an hostile way, which is one of God's four sore judgments, Ezekiel 14:21; or, leading a most wicked life, commit such capital crimes as bring them into the hand of the civil magistrate, who bears not the sword in vain, but is the minister of God, a revengeful executioner of wrath on wicked men; or else they die by the sword of the murderer, being brought into the world for such, and through their riches become their prey, Hosea 9:13; or if neither of these is the case, yet they at last, let them prosper as they will, fall a sacrifice to the glittering sword of divine justice, whetted and drawn in wrath against them; the sword of the enemy seems chiefly intended:
and his offspring shall not be satisfied with bread; such of them as die not by the sword shall perish by famine, which is another of God's sore judgments; though this may respect the grandchildren of wicked men, whom God visits to the third and fourth generation; the Targum paraphrases it, his children's children, and so Sephorno; to which agrees the Vulgate Latin version: the sense is, that the posterity of such wicked men, when they are dead and gone, shall be so reduced as to beg their bread, and shall not have a sufficiency of that for the support of nature, but shall die for want of food.
Those that remain of him shall be buried in death: and his widows shall not weep.Those that remain of him,.... Of the wicked man after his death; or such that remain, and have escaped the sword and famine:
shall be buried in death: the pestilence, emphatically called death by the Hebrews, as by us the mortality, see Revelation 6:8. This is another of God's sore public judgments wicked men, and is such a kind of death, by reason of the contagion of it, that a person is buried as soon as dead almost, being infectious to keep him; and so Mr. Broughton translates the words,
"his remnant shall be buried as soon as they are dead;''
or the disease of which such die being so very infectious sometimes, no one dares to bury them for fear of catching it, and so they lie unburied; which some take to be the sense of the phrase, either that they shall be hurried away to the grave, and so not be embalmed and lie in state, and have an honourable and pompous funeral, or that they shall have none at all, their death will be all the burial they shall have: or else the sense is, they shall die such a death as that death shall be their grave; and they shall have no other, as the men of the old world that were drowned in the flood, Genesis 7:23; and Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea, Exodus 15:4; and Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who were swallowed up in the earth, Numbers 16:27; and such as are devoured by wild beasts; and if this last could be thought to be meant, we have all the four sore judgments of God in this verse and Job 27:14, sword, famine, pestilence, and evil beasts, see Ezekiel 14:21,
and his widows shall not weep; leaving more than one behind him, polygamy being frequent in those times; or else these are his sons' wives, left widows by them, as Bar Tzemach thinks, they being the persons immediately spoken of, dying by various deaths before mentioned; but whether they be his widows, or theirs, they shall weep for neither of them; either because they themselves will be cut off with them; or their husbands dying shameful deaths, lamentation would be forbidden; or they would not be able to weep through the astonishment and stupor they should be seized with at their death; or having lived such miserable and uncomfortable lives with them, they should be so far from lamenting their death, that they should, as Jarchi interprets it, rejoice at it; the Septuagint version is,
"no one shall have mercy on their widows.''
Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay;Though he heap up silver as the dust,.... Which, as it denotes the great abundance of it collected together, so it expresses the bias and disposition of such a man's mind, that he cannot be content without amassing great quantities of it, and also his diligence and success therein, see 1 Kings 10:27;
and prepare raiment as the clay; not merely, for use, but pomp and show, to fill his wardrobes with; and formerly, raiment was part of the treasure of great men: the phrase signifies that he might have such a variety of raiment, and such large quantities of it, that he would value it no more than so much clay; or else that his riches, consist of what it would, would be both polluting and troublesome to him; the Septuagint version reads "gold" instead of "raiment", as in Zechariah 9:3, where like expressions are used of Tyre.
He may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver.He may prepare it,.... Raiment; beginning with that first which was mentioned last, which is frequent in the Hebrew and eastern languages; such things may be done, and often are, by wicked men:
but the just shall put it on; the wicked man will either have no heart, or have no time, to wear it, at least to wear it out, and so a just man shall have it, as the Israelites put on the raiment of the Egyptians, which they begged or borrowed, and spoiled them of, Exodus 12:35; and oftentimes so it is in Providence, that the wealth of wicked men is by one means or another transferred into the families of good men, who enjoy it, and make a better use of it, Proverbs 13:22;
and the innocent shall divide the silver; have a part of it at least, or divide the whole between his children, or give a part of it to the poor; so money that is ill gotten, or ill used, is taken away, and put into the hands of one that will have mercy on the poor, and liberally distribute it to them, Proverbs 28:8.
He buildeth his house as a moth, and as a booth that the keeper maketh.He buildeth his house as a moth,.... Which builds its house in a garment by eating into it, and so destroying it, and in time eats itself out of house and home, and however does not continue long in it, but is soon and easily shook out, or brushed off; so a wicked man builds himself an house, a stately palace, like Arcturus (l); so some render the words from Job 9:9, a palace among the stars, an heavenly palace and paradise, and expects it will continue for ever; but as he builds it with the mammon of unrighteousness, and to the prejudice and injury of others, and with their money, or what was due to them, so by his sins and iniquities he brings ruin and destruction upon himself and his family, so that his house soon falls to decay, and at least he and his posterity have but a short lived enjoyment of it. This may be applied in a figurative sense to the hypocrite's hope and confidence, which is like a spider's web, a moth eaten garment, and a house built upon the sand; the Septuagint version here adds, "as a spider", Job 8:13;
and as a booth that the keeper maketh; either a keeper of sheep, who sets up his tent in a certain place for a while, for the sake of pasturage, and then removes it, to which the allusion is, Isaiah 38:12; or a keeper of fruit, as the Targum, of gardens and orchards, that the fruit is not stolen; or of fig trees and vineyards, as Jarchi and Bar Tzemach, which is only a lodge or hut pitched for a season, until the fruit is gathered in, and then is taken down, see Isaiah 1:8; and it signifies here the short continuance of the house of the wicked man, which he imagined would continue for ever, Psalm 49:11.
(l) "quasi Arcturi", Junius & Tremellius; so Aben Ezra.
The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered: he openeth his eyes, and he is not.The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered,.... That is, the wicked rich man; and the sense is, either he shall lie down upon his bed, but shall not be gathered to rest, shall get no sleep, the abundance of his riches, and the fear of losing them, or his life for them, will not suffer him to compose himself to sleep; or else it expresses his sudden loss of them, he "lies down" at night to take his rest, "and it is not gathered", his riches are not gathered or taken away from him, but remain with him:
he openeth his eyes: in the morning, when he awakes from sleep:
and it is not; by one providence or another he is stripped of all substance; or rather this is to be understood of his death, and of what befalls him at that time: death is often in Scripture signified by lying down, sleeping, and taking rest, as on a bed, see Job 14:10; rich men die as well as others; their riches cannot profit them, or be of any avail to them to ward off the stroke of death, and their death is miserable; he is "not gathered", or "shall not gather" (m), he cannot gather up his riches, and carry it with him, Psalm 49:15, 1 Timothy 6:7; "he openeth his eyes" in another world, "and it is not", his riches are not with him; or, as the Vulgate Latin version, "he shall find nothing"; or rather the meaning is, he is "not gathered"; to his grave, as Jarchi and Ben Gersom; and so Mr. Broughton, "he is not taken up", that is, as he interprets it, to be honestly buried. He is not buried in the sepulchres of his ancestors, which is often in Scripture signified by a man being gathered to his people, or to his fathers; but here it is suggested, that, notwithstanding all his riches, he should have no burial, or, what is worse than that, when he dies he should not be gathered to the saints and people of God, or into God's garner, into heaven and happiness: "but he openeth his eyes"; in hell, as the rich man is said to do, and finds himself in inexpressible torment: "and he is not"; on earth, in his palace he built, nor among his numerous family, friends, and acquaintance, and in the possession of his earthly riches, but is in hell in the most miserable and distressed condition that can be conceived of. Some think this last clause respects the suddenness of his death, one "opens his eyes", and looks at him, "and he is not"; he is dead, in the twinkling of an eye, and is no more in the land of the living; but the former sense is best.
(m) "nihil secum auferet", V. L.
Terrors take hold on him as waters, a tempest stealeth him away in the night.Terrors take hold on him as waters,.... The terrors of death, and of an awful judgment that is to come after it; finding himself dying, death is the king of terrors to him, dreading not only the awful stroke of death itself, but of what is to follow upon it; or rather these terrors are those that seize the wicked man after death; perceiving what a horrible condition he is in, the terrors of a guilty conscience lay hold on him, remembering his former sins with all the aggravating circumstances of them; the terrors of the law's curses lighting upon him, and of the wrath and fury of the Almighty pouring out on him and surrounding him, and devils and damned spirits all about him. These will seize him "as waters", like a flood of waters, denoting the abundance of them, "terror on every side", a "Magormissabib", Jeremiah 20:3, will he be, and coming with great rapidity, with an irresistible force, and without ceasing, rolling one after another in a sudden and surprising manner:
a tempest stealeth him away in the night; the tempest of divine wrath, from which there is no shelter but the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ; this comes like a thief, suddenly and unexpectedly, and steals the wicked man out of this world; or rather from the judgment seat, and carries him into the regions of darkness, of horror and black despair, where he is surrounded with the aforesaid terrors; this is said to be in the night, to make it the more shocking and terrible, see Luke 12:19; and may have respect to that blackness that attends a tempest, and to that blackness of darkness reserved for wicked men, Jde 1:13.
The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth: and as a storm hurleth him out of his place.The east wind carrieth him away,.... Which is very strong and powerful, and carries all before it; afflictions are sometimes compared to it, Isaiah 27:8; and here either death, accompanied with the wrath of God, which carries the wicked man, sore against his will, out of the world, from his house, his family, his friends, his possessions, and estates, and carries him to hell to be a companion with devils, and share with them in all the miseries of that dreadful state and place. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions render it, "a burning wind", such as are frequent in the eastern countries, which carry a man off at once, so that he has only time at most to say, I burn, and immediately drops down dead, as Thevenot, and other travellers, relate; which is thus described;
"it is a wind called "Samiel", or poison wind, a very hot one, that reigns in summer from Mosul to Surrat, but only by land, not upon the water; they who have breathed that wind fall instantly dead upon the place, though sometimes they have time to say that they burn within. No sooner does a man die by this wind but he becomes as black as a coal; and if one take him by his leg, arm, or any other place, his flesh comes from the same, and is plucked off by the hand that would lift him up (n):''
and again, it is observed, that in Persia, if a man, in June or July, breathes in certain hot south winds that come from the sea, he falls down dead, and at most has no more time than to say he burns (o). Wicked men are like chaff and stubble, and they can no more resist death than either of these can resist the east wind; and they are as easily burnt up and consumed with the burning wind of God's wrath as they are by devouring flames; and though wicked men and hypocrites may think all will be well with them if they have but time to say, Lord have mercy on us; they may be carried off with such a burning wind, or scorching disease, as to be able only to say, that they burn, and not in their bodies only, but in their souls also, feeling the wrath of God in their consciences: or this may have respect to the devouring flames of hell they are surrounded with upon dying, or immediately after death, see Isaiah 33:14;
and he departeth; out of the world, not willingly, but, whether he will or not, he must depart; or rather he will be bid to depart, and he will depart from the bar of God, from his presence, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
an as a storm hurleth him out of his place: this is done either at death, when as a storm hurls a tree, or any other thing, out of its place, so is the sinner forced out of his place in a tempestuous manner, through the power and wrath of God, so that his place knows him no more; and he is hurried into hell and everlasting destruction, just as the sinning angels were hurled out of heaven, and cast down into hell, and there will be no place found in heaven for them any more; or rather this will be his case at judgment, which immediately follows, where the wicked shall not stand, or be able to justify themselves, and make their case good; but with the storm of divine wrath and vengeance shall be hurled from thence, and go, being driven, into everlasting punishment.
(n) Thevenot's Travels into the Levant, par. 2. B. 1. ch. 12. p. 54. (o) Thevenot's Travels into the Levant, par. 2. B. 3. ch. 5. p. 135.
For God shall cast upon him, and not spare: he would fain flee out of his hand.For God shall cast upon him, and not spare,.... Cast his sins upon him, which will lie as an intolerable weight upon his conscience; and his wrath upon him, which being poured out like fire, he will not be able to bear it; and deserved punishment on him, which, like a talent of lead, will bear him down to the lowest hell; and this will be done without showing any mercy at all; for, though the wicked have much of sparing mercy in this world, they have none in the next; there is sparing mercy now, but none in hell; God, that spared not the angels that sinned, nor the old world, nor Sodom and Gomorrah, will not spare them, 2 Peter 2:4; he that made them will have no mercy on them; and he that formed them will show them no favour:
he would fain flee out of his hands; in whose hands he is, not as all men are, being the works of his hands, and supported by him; much less as his people are, secure there; but in his hands as an awful and terrible Judge, condemning him for his sins, and sentencing him to everlasting punishment; and a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living and almighty God: there is no getting out of them, though "fleeing, he flees", as the phrase is, with all his might and main, with all the swiftness he can; it is all to no purpose; he is where he was, and must continue in the torment and misery he is in to all eternity; his worm of conscience will never die, nor the fire of divine wrath be ever quenched; though he will desire death ten thousand times over, he shall not find it, it shall flee from him, Revelation 9:6.
Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of his place.Men shall clap their hands at him,.... In a way of joy and triumph, scorn and derision, see Lamentations 2:15; either at the time of his death, being glad they are rid of him, Psalm 52:5; or rather hereafter, to all eternity, while the wrath and vengeance of God is pouring on him; and this will be done by all righteous men evermore; not pleasing themselves with the shocking scene, nor indulging any evil passion in them, from which they will be entirely free; but rejoicing in the glory of divine justice, which will be displayed in the everlasting destruction of wicked men, see Revelation 18:20; and this need not be restrained to good men only, but ascribed to angels also; for it may be rendered impersonally, "hands shall be clapped at him"; or joy be expressed on this occasion by all in heaven, angels and saints, who will all approve and applaud the divine procedure against wicked men as right and just; yea, this may express the glorying of divine justice, and its triumph in the condemnation and destruction of sinners;
and shall hiss him out of his place; from the bar and tribunal of God, where he stood and was condemned; and, as he goes to everlasting punishment, expressing abhorrence and detestation of him and his crimes, and as pleased with the righteous judgment of God upon him. Now this is the wicked man's portion, and the heritage he shall have of God at and after death, though he has been in flourishing circumstances in life; all which Job observes, to show that he was no friend nor favourer of wicked men, nor thought well of them and their ways, though he observed the prosperity they are attended with in their present state; and as for himself, he was not, and would not, be such a wicked man, and an hypocrite, on any account whatever, since he was sure he must then be miserable hereafter, to all intents and purposes.