Job 11:20
But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.
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(20) As the giving up of the ghost.—Omit the as of comparison; or do so, and take the margin. Thus ends the first part of this mighty argument, the first fytte of this grand poem.

Job 11:20. The eyes of the wicked shall fail — Either through grief and tears for their sore calamities, or with long looking for what they shall never attain. Failing of the eyes is one of those expressions in Scripture to be admired for its beauteous simplicity. It represents a very eager and passionate desire to obtain that which we are in pursuit of: and, at the same time, the great uneasiness which must unavoidably follow from a disappointment. One of the appeals which Job makes, in vindication of his integrity, is, that he had not caused the eyes of the widow to fail, chap. Job 31:16; that he had not frustrated her expectations when she applied to him for relief and assistance in her distress. The psalmist writes, Mine eyes fail while I wait for my God, Psalm 69:3. They shall not escape — Hebrew, מנושׂ אבד, manos abad, flight perishes from them, or safety leaves them. This is another of those elegant Scripture phrases which suggests to us the strongest efforts made by a guilty person to escape punishment; but fainting and sinking by the way, through fatigue and weariness, and failing of attaining his purpose. The Prophet Jeremiah uses the same phraseology with regard to the shepherds, or principal men among the Jews, Jeremiah 25:35; which is literally, Flight shall perish from the shepherds. Compare Amos 2:14, where the exact and literal translation of the Hebrew is given: Flight shall perish from the swift. Their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost — Shall be as vain and desperate as the hope of life is in a man when he is at the very point of death. Shall be as a puff of breath, as the margin reads it; gone in a moment without any hope of recovery. Or their hope shall perish, as a man doth with respect to this world, when he gives up the ghost; it will fail them when they have most need of it; and, when they expected the accomplishment of it, it will die away and leave them in utter confusion. 11:13-20 Zophar exhorts Job to repentance, and gives him encouragement, yet mixed with hard thoughts of him. He thought that worldly prosperity was always the lot of the righteous, and that Job was to be deemed a hypocrite unless his prosperity was restored. Then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; that is, thou mayst come boldly to the throne of grace, and not with the terror and amazement expressed in ch. 9:34. If we are looked upon in the face of the Anointed, our faces that were cast down may be lifted up; though polluted, being now washed with the blood of Christ, they may be lifted up without spot. We may draw near in full assurance of faith, when we are sprinkled from an evil conscience, Heb 10:22.But the eyes of the wicked shall fail - That is, they shall be wearied out by anxiously looking for relief from their miseries. "Noyes." Their expectation shall be vain, and they shall find no relief. Perhaps Zophar here means to apply this to Job, and to say to him that with his present views and character, his hope of relief would fail. His only hope of relief was in a change - in turning to God - since it was a settled maxim that the wicked would look for relief in vain. This assumption that he was a wicked man, must have been among the most trying things that Job had to endure. Indeed nothing could he more provoking than to have others take it for granted as a matter that did not admit of argument, that he was a hypocrite, and that God was dealing with him as an incorrigible sinner.

And they shall not escape - Margin, "Flight shall perish from them." The margin is a literal translation of the Hebrew. The sense is, escape for the wicked is out of the question. They must be arrested and punished.

And their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost - literally, "the breathing out of the life or soul." Their hope shall leave them as the breath or life does the body. It is like death. The expression does not mean that their hope would always expire at death, but that it would certainly expire as life leaves the body. The meaning is, that whatever hope a wicked man has of future happiness and salvation, must fail. The time must come when it will cease to comfort and support him. The hope of the pious man lives until it is lost in fruition in heaven. It attends him in health; supports him in sickness; is with him at home; accompanies him abroad; cheers him in solitude; is his companion in society; is with him as he goes down into the shades of adversity, and it brightens as he travels along the valley of the shadow of death. It stands as a bright star over his grave - and is lost only in the glories of heaven, as the morning star is lost in the superior brightness of the rising sun. Not so the hypocrite and the sinner. His hope dies - and he leaves the world in despair. Sooner or later the last ray of his delusive hopes shall take its departure from the soul, and leave it to darkness. No matter how bright it may have been; no matter how long he has cherished it; no matter on what it is founded - whether on his morals, his prayers, his accomplishments, his learning; if it be not based on true conversion, and the promised mercy of God through a Redeemer, it must; soon cease to shine, and will leave the soul to the gloom of black despair.

20. A warning to Job, if he would not turn to God.

The wicked—that is, obdurate sinners.

eyes … fail—that is, in vain look for relief (De 28:65). Zophar implies Job's only hope of relief is in a change of heart.

they shall not escape—literally, "every refuge shall vanish from them."

giving up of the ghost—Their hope shall leave them as the breath does the body (Pr 11:7).

Fail; or be consumed; either with grief and fears for their sore calamities; or with long looking for what they shall never attain, as this phrase is taken, Psalm 69:3 Jeremiah 14:6 Lamentations 4:17. And this shall be thy condition, O Job, if thou persistest in thine impiety.

They shall not escape; they shall never obtain deliverance out of their distresses, but shall perish in them.

As the giving up of the ghost, i.e. shall be as vain and desperate as the hope of life is in a man, when he is at the very point of death. Or, as a puff of breath, which is gone in a moment without all hopes of recovery. But the eyes of the wicked shall fail,.... Either through grief and envy at Job's prosperity, and with looking for his fall into troubles again; or rather through expectation of good things for themselves, and for deliverance out of trouble, but all in vain; see Lamentations 4:17;

and they shall not escape; afflictions and calamities in this life, nor the righteous judgment, nor wrath to come: or, "refuge shall perish from them" (a); there will be none to betake themselves unto for safety; in vain will they seek it from men; refuge will fail them, and no man care for them; and in vain will they fly to rocks and mountains to fall upon them:

and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost; it is with them as when a man is just expiring, and it is all over with him, and there is no hope of his reviving; so the hope of wicked men is a dying hope, a lost hope; it is not hope, but despair; their hope is gone, and they are lost and undone; and if they retain their hope in life, when they come to die they have none; though the righteous has hope in his death, their hope dies with them, if not before them: or, "their hope is the giving up of the ghost" (b); all they have to hope and wish for is death, to relieve them from their present troubles and agonies they are in; and sometimes are left amidst their guilt, despair, and horror, to destroy themselves: now Zophar by all this would suggest, that should not Job take his advice, he would appear to be such a wicked man, whose eyes would fail for his own help, and would not escape the judgments of God here and hereafter, and would die without hope, in black despair; or at least without any hope that would be of any avail.

(a) "et refugium peribit ab eis", Pagninus, Montanus, Bolducius; "perfugium", Junius & Tremellius; "effugium", Mercerus, Cocceius, Schmidt, Schultens. (b) "Spes vel expectatio eorum est, vel erit efflatio animae", Mercerus, Cocceius.

But the eyes {k} of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.

(k) He shows that contrary things will come to them who do not repent.

20. Zophar concludes by setting in opposition to this picture another, the fate of the wicked.

their hope shall be as the giving] Rather, shall be the giving up of the ghost; death is what they have to look for. Perhaps Zophar adds these words by way of warning to Job. Eliphaz allowed no streak of darkness to cloud the brightness of the prospect he anticipated for Job, ch. Job 5:19-26; Bildad spoke of perishing, but it was of Job’s enemies, ch. Job 8:22; Zophar throws out his warning more generally, and Job may accept it if it fits him.

The problems that trouble us are not new. These ancient disputants graze at least the edges of most of them. Under Zophar’s speech lies the question, If the affirmations of a man’s conscience or of his consciousness be contradicted by the affirmations of God, what does it become a man to do? Job’s conscience declared that he had not been guilty of sins, while God by his afflictions was clearly intimating that he had.—It may be safely concluded that a real contradiction of this kind will never occur. Both Zophar and Job were under a false impression when they supposed that God by His affliction of Job was affirming his guilt. They put a wrong meaning on his afflictions. Zophar, however, thought that a man must bow to God. But as Job’s consciousness spoke to a fact, which was to him indubitable, he felt that he was unable to submit. The history of Job teaches us that the wise course in such circumstances is to raise the prior question, Is this supposed affirmation of God really His affirmation? It may be that we are putting a wrong construction on His words or providence And as such supposed contradictions will not usually be, as in Job’s case, in regard to simple facts but to moral judgments and the like, there is much room always to raise the prior question also on the other side, Is this affirmation of conscience, which seems opposed to the intimations of God, a true affirmation of conscience? the affirmation of an enlightened, universal conscience? As none of us, unfortunately, is in possession of this universal conscience of mankind, but only of our own particular one, which must, however, be our guide, perplexities may occasionally arise in our actual religious experience.Verse 20. - Had Zophar ended with ver. 19 Job might possibly have taken some comfort from his speech, holding out, as it did, a hope of restoration to God's favour and a return to happiness. But, as if to accentuate the unfavourable view which he takes of Job's conduct and character, he will not end with words of good omen, but appends a passage which has a ring of malice, menace, and condemnation. But the eyes of the wicked shall fail; or, waste away grew weary, i.e. of looking for a help that does not come, and a deliverer who does not make his appearance. And they shall not escape; literally, their refuge is perished from them. And their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost; rather, shall be the giving up of the ghost. They shall have no other hope but death - a manifest allusion to Job's repeated declarations that he looks for death, longs for it, and has no expectation of any other deliverance (see Job 3:21, 22; Job 6:7, 8; Job 7:15; Job 10:1, 18. etc.). Such, says Zophar, is always the final condition of the wicked.

13 But if thou wilt direct thy heart,

And spread out thy hands to Him -

14 If there is evil in thy hand, put it far away,

And let not wickedness dwell in thy tents -

15 Then indeed canst thou lift up thy face without spot,

And shalt be firm without fearing.

The phrase הכין לב signifies neither to raise the heart (Ewald), nor to establish it (Hirz.), but to direct it, i.e., give it the right direction (Psalm 78:8) towards God, 1 Samuel 7:3; 2 Chronicles 20:33; it has an independent meaning, so that there is no need to supply אל־אל, nor take וּפרשׂתּ to be for לפרושׂ (after the construction in 2 Chronicles 30:19). To spread out the hands in prayer is כּפּים (פּרשׂ) פּרשׂ; ידים is seldom used instead of the more artistic כפים, palmas, h.e. manus supinas. The conditional antecedent clause is immediately followed, Job 11:14, by a similarly conditional parenthetical clause, which inserts the indispensable condition of acceptable prayer; the conclusion might begin with הרהיקהוּ: when thou sendest forth thy heart and spreadest out thy hands to Him, if there is wickedness in thy hand, put it far away; but the antecedent requires a promise for its conclusion, and the more so since the praet. and fut. which follow אם, Job 11:13, have the force of futt. exact.: si disposueris et extenderis, to which the conclusion: put it far away, is not suited, which rather expresses a preliminary condition of acceptable prayer. The conclusion then begins with כּי־אז, then indeed, like Job 8:6; Job 13:19, comp. Job 6:3, with עתּה כּי, now indeed; the causal signification of כי has in both instances passed into the confirmatory (comp. 1 Samuel 14:44; Psalm 118:10-12; Psalm 128:2, and on Genesis 26:22): then verily wilt thou be able to raise thy countenance (without being forced to make any more bitter complaints, as Job 10:15.), without spot, i.e., not: without bodily infirmity, but: without spot of punishable guilt, sceleris et paenae (Rosenmller). מן here signifies without (Targ. דּלא), properly: far from, as Job 21:9; 2 Samuel 1:22; Proverbs 20:3. Faultless will he then be able to look up and be firm (מצּק from יצק, according to Ges. 71), quasi ex aere fusus (1 Kings 7:16), one whom God can no longer get the better of.

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