|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:7-11 Eliphaz argues, 1. That good men were never thus ruined. But there is one event both to the righteous and to the wicked, Ec 9:2, both in life and death; the great and certain difference is after death. Our worst mistakes are occasioned by drawing wrong views from undeniable truths. 2. That wicked men were often thus ruined: for the proof of this, Eliphaz vouches his own observation. We may see the same every day.
Verse 11. - The old lion perisheth for lack of prey. The human counterpart of the "old lion" is the oppressor whose strength and cunning begin to fail him, who can no longer carry things with a high hand, enforce his will on men by bluster and throats, or even set traps for them so skilfully that they blindly walk into them. Political charlatans whose role is played out, bullies whose nerve is beginning to fail, cardsharpers whose manual dexterity has de-sorted them, come under this category. And the stout lion's whelps; rather, the whelps of the lioness (see the Revised Version). Are scattered abroad. Even the seed of ill-doers suffer. They are involved in their parents' punishment (see Exodus 20:5). Eliphaz darkly hints that Job may have been among the class of oppressors, or (at any rate) of transgressors, and that the untimely fate of his children may have been the consequence of his evil-doings.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The old lion perisheth for lack of prey,.... Or rather "the stout" and "strong lion" (e), that is most able to take the prey, and most skilful at it, yet such shall perish for want of it; not so much for want of finding it, or of power to seize it, as of keeping it when got, it being taken away from him; signifying, that God oftentimes in his providence takes away from cruel oppressors what they have got by oppression, and so they are brought into starving and famishing circumstances. The Septuagint render the word by "myrmecoleon", or the "ant lion", which Isidore (f) thus describes;"it is a little animal, very troublesome to ants, which hides itself in the dust, and kills the ants as they carry their corn; hence it is called both a lion and an ant, because to other animals is as an ant, and to the ants as a lion,''and therefore cannot be the lion here spoken of; though Strabo (g) and Aelianus (h) speak of lions in Arabia and Babylon called ants, which seem to be a species of lions, and being in those countries, might be known to Eliphaz. Megasthenes (i) speaks of ants in India as big as foxes, of great swiftness, and get their living by hunting:
and the stout lion's whelps are scattered abroad; or "the whelps of the lioness" (k), these are scattered from the lion and lioness, and from one another, to seek for food, but in vain; the Targum applies this to Ishmael, and his posterity; Jarchi, and others, to the builders of Babel, said to be scattered, Genesis 11:8; rather reference may be had to the giants, the men of the old world, who filled the earth with violence, which was the cause of the flood being brought upon the world of the ungodly. Some think that Eliphaz has a regard to Job in all this, and that by the "fierce lion" he designs and describes Job as an oppressor and tyrant, and by the "lioness" his wife, and by the "young lions" and "lion's whelps" his children; and indeed, though he may not directly design him, yet he may obliquely point at him, and suggest that he was like to the men he had in view, and compares to these creatures, and therefore his calamities righteously came upon him.
(e) "leo major", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Schmidt; "leo strenuns et fortis", Michaelis; "robustior leo", Schultens. (f) Origin. l. 12. c. 3.((g) Geograph. l. 16. p. 533. (h) De Animal. l. 7. c. 47. & l. 17. c. 42. (i) Apud Strabo, l. 15. p. 485. (k) "filii leaenae", Bochart, Schultens.
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