|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:25-35 What little need have we of pastimes, and what great need to redeem time, when it runs on so fast towards eternity! How vain the enjoyments of time, which we may quite lose while yet time continues! The remembrance of having done our duty will be pleasing afterwards; so will not the remembrance of having got worldly wealth, when it is all lost and gone. Job's complaint of God, as one that could not be appeased and would not relent, was the language of his corruption. There is a Mediator, a Daysman, or Umpire, for us, even God's own beloved Son, who has purchased peace for us with the blood of his cross, who is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God through him. If we trust in his name, our sins will be buried in the depths of the sea, we shall be washed from all our filthiness, and made whiter than snow, so that none can lay any thing to our charge. We shall be clothed with the robes of righteousness and salvation, adorned with the graces of the Holy Spirit, and presented faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. May we learn the difference between justifying ourselves, and being thus justified by God himself. Let the tempest-tossed soul consider Job, and notice that others have passed this dreadful gulf; and though they found it hard to believe that God would hear or deliver them, yet he rebuked the storm, and brought them to the desired haven. Resist the devil; give not place to hard thoughts of God, or desperate conclusions about thyself. Come to Him who invites the weary and heavy laden; who promises in nowise to cast them out.
Verse 26. - They are passed away as the swift ships; literally, like the ships of reed. The allusion is probably to the frail reed vessels of the Egyptians, of which many ancient writers speak (see Theophrastus, 'Hist. Plant.,' 4:9; Pithy, 'Hist. Nat.,' 6:56; 13:11; Luean, ' Pharsalis,' 4:36, etc.). They were long, light canoes, formed generally of the papyrus plant, and propelled either by a single paddle or by a punting-pole. They were fiat-bottomed and broad, like punts, with a stem and stern rising considerably above the level of the water (see the authofs 'History of Ancient Egypt,' vol. 1. pp. 507, 508). Isaiah speaks of them as "vessels of bulrushes," in which "swift messengers" were sent by the nations peopling the banks of the Nile (Isaiah 18:1, 2). The Euphrates boats described by Herodotus (1:194) were of an entirely different construction, and cannot be here intended. They consisted of a framework of wood, which was covered with skins, and then coated with bitumen, and resembled the Welsh "coracles." As the eagle that hasteth to the prey; or, as the eagle that swoopeth on the prey (Revised Version). Job's observation presents to him three types of swiftness - the trained runner upon the earth, the swift ships upon the waters, and the hungry eagle in the air. It seems to him that his life passes away as swiftly as any of these.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
They are passed away as the swift ships,.... Those that are lightest built, and run swiftest. Bar Tzemach thinks such vessels as are rowed with oars are meant, which may be called "ships of will or desire" (b), as the words may be rendered, because they may be rowed at pleasure, and be carried to any place where and when a man thinks fit; whereas those that are not depend upon the wind, and that must be waited for; or they design such ships that are so swift in their motion, that they arrive to the haven as soon as men can well wish for and desire. Some render it "pirate ships", or "ships of enmity" (c); such as are designed for spoil and plunder, and which are light ones, not loaded with goods, and therefore move swiftly: the Targum is,
"ships burdened with precious fruits;''and the Vulgate Latin version is,"ships carrying apples:''now ships loaded with such sort of goods, with perishing commodities, are obliged to make their port as soon as possible. Some leave the word untranslated, and call them "ships of Ebeh" (d); which, according to Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and others, is either the name of a place, or of a river in Arabia, which ran with a rapid stream, and in which ships were carried with great celerity. Bolducius relates from a traveller of his acquaintance, who finished his travels in 1584, that he saw such a river about Damascus, not far from the sepulchre of Job; but that must be the river Chrysorrhoas, now called Barrady; but there were two rivers of this name Ebeh; one near Cufa, and another in Wasith, a country of Babylon, as Golius observes (e). Others take the word to have the signification of reed or papyrus, which grew on the banks of the Nile, and of which ships were made; see Gill on Isaiah 18:1; and render the words "ships of reeds" or "of papyrus" (f), and which, being light, were very swift:
as the eagle that hasteth to the prey; the eagle is the swiftest of birds, and therefore persons and things exceeding swift are compared unto them, see Habakkuk 1:8; and it flies the most swiftly when being hungry, and in sight of its prey, and is nearest to it, and flaps upon it, which is the thing referred to, and so may be rendered, "that flies upon the prey" (g). Job uses these metaphors, which are the most appropriate, to show how fleeting his days of prosperity were, and how soon gone: and a climax may be observed in the words; a runner, though he runs swiftly, a ship moves faster than he, and an eagle, just about to seize its prey, flies swifter than that.
(b) "navibus desiderii", Mercerus, Drusius, Schmidt; so Ben Gersom. (c) "Naves inimicitiarum, i.e. "piraticae, vel hostiles"; as some in Drusius; so Broughton. (d) "Navibus Ebeh", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Bolducius, Codurcus. (e) Lexic. Arab. p. 2.((f) "Naves arundinis", Michaelis, "navibus papyraceis", Schultens, Ikenius, in ib. (g) "involans in escam", Junius & Tremellius; "involat in escam", Piscator, Schultens.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
26. swift ships—rather, canoes of reeds or papyrus skiffs, used on the Nile, swift from their lightness (Isa 18:2).
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