Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,XVIII.
(1) How long?—Bildad begins very much as Job himself had done (Job 16).
Wherefore are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your sight?(3) Wherefore are we counted as beasts.—Referring to Job’s words (Job 13:4, &c., Job 16:2, &c.). In this chapter there is a marked increase in his harshness and violence. It has, however, a certain resemblance to Job 8, inasmuch as Bildad works out a simile here, as he did there; and in Job 18:16 the two similes touch. In Job 18:2, which resembles Job 8:2, we must supply, as the Authorised Version does, Will it be ere? or the negative, Will ye not make? &c., or else we must render, “How long [will ye speak thus]? Make an end of words,” &c. The plural is used because Job is regarded as the representative of a class, or else as we use the plural instead of the singular in addressing a person.
He teareth himself in his anger: shall the earth be forsaken for thee? and shall the rock be removed out of his place?(4) He teareth himself in his anger.—As Eliphaz had charged Job (Job 15:4) with the evil tendencies of his speeches, so Bildad here compares him to a maniac, and assumes that the effect of his teaching will be to banish God from the earth, and remove the strength and hope of man. The last clause is a direct quotation from Job in Job 14:18; it looks, therefore, very much like a wilful perversion of Job’s words, for it is clear that he used them very differently. Even if there were no intentional misrepresentation Bildad applies Job’s words to his own purposes. The drift of his question is, “Can you expect the course of God’s providence to be altered for you? On the contrary, the retribution that awaits the wicked is sure and swift; for verily (Job 18:5) the light of the wicked shall be put out.”
The steps of his strength shall be straitened, and his own counsel shall cast him down.(7) The steps of his strength.—i.e., his giant strides. He shall be the victim of his own devices, and when they seem to hold out the hope of prosperity shall lead him to destruction. (Comp. Ps. 141:11.)
For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon a snare.(8) He is cast into a net.—Job had compared himself to one hunted by the Almighty (Job 10:16), and Bildad here describes the evil man as snared in a net, but it is one for which he has no one to thank but himself. It is his own pit he falls into; the insinuation being that Job is likewise responsible for his calamities, which are the punishment of his sin. It is to be observed that in this and the following verses the speaker heaps together every word he can find descriptive of the art of snaring.
Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive him to his feet.(11) Shall drive him to his feet.—Comp. Job 15:21. One feels very much tempted to understand this, as the English undoubtedly suggests, shall startle him to his feet, but the true meaning is, more probably, shall chase him at his heels.
His strength shall be hungerbitten, and destruction shall be ready at his side.(12) His strength.—By “strength” some understand his firstborn son, as Genesis 49:3, but it is not necessary to take it otherwise than literally.
Destruction shall be ready at his side.—Or, according to some, for his halting; shall lie in wait for his tripping in order to overthrow him.
It shall devour the strength of his skin: even the firstborn of death shall devour his strength.(13) The strength of his skin.—This verse should probably be rendered, “It shall devour the members of his body, even the firstborn of death shall devour his members;” and by the “firstborn of death” is probably to be understood some wasting disease such as Job’s, the phrase being so used as a euphemism.
His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors.(14) His confidence shall be rooted out.—Rather, he shall be rooted out of his tent which he trusted was his own.
The king of terrors.—Perhaps the most remarkable personification of unseen forces to be found in the Bible.
It shall dwell in his tabernacle, because it is none of his: brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation.(15) It shall dwell in his tabernacle.—Or, “There shall dwell in his tent they that are none of his,” or “which is no longer his”: i.e., terrors shall dwell, or, “which is none of his” may hint that it had been violently taken from some one else. “Brimstone shall be scattered on his dwelling” is probably an allusion to the cities of the plain (Genesis 19).
His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off.(16) His roots shall be dried up.—With tacit allusion to what he had said in Job 8:12, and also to the destruction of Job’s own offspring, which had already been accomplished.
His remembrance shall perish from the earth, and he shall have no name in the street.(17) His remembrance shall perish.—This is the doom which above all others is dreaded by the modern roamers of the desert. (Comp. also Jeremiah 35:19.)
He shall neither have son nor nephew among his people, nor any remaining in his dwellings.(19) He shall have neither son nor nephew.—“He shall have neither his own son’s son among his people, nor any remaining, where he sojourned.”
They that come after him shall be astonied at his day, as they that went before were affrighted.(20) Shall be astonied at his day.—That is, his doom, or destiny. He shall stand forth as a warning and monument to all.
Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, and this is the place of him that knoweth not God.(21) Dwellings of the wicked.—That is to say, of the wicked man. As Bildad designedly uses the singular here, there can be little doubt that he as designedly intended this terrible and cruel picture to represent Job himself.