Job 12:14
Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) Behold, he breaketh down . . .—God has equal power over the moral and physical world.

Job 12:14. Behold, he breaketh down — Houses, castles, cities; and it cannot be built again — It is not in the power of any creature to repair what he designs utterly to destroy. He shutteth up a man — In prison, or in straits and troubles; and there can be no opening — Without his permission and providence. Yea, he shuts up in the grave, and none can break open those sealed doors. He shuts up in hell, in chains of darkness, and none can pass that great gulf.

12:12-25 This is a noble discourse of Job concerning the wisdom, power, and sovereignty of God, in ordering all the affairs of the children of men, according to the counsel of His own will, which none can resist. It were well if wise and good men, who differ about lesser things, would see how it is for their honour and comfort, and the good of others, to dwell most upon the great things in which they agree. Here are no complaints, or reflections. He gives many instances of God's powerful management of the children of men, overruling all their counsels, and overcoming all their oppositions. Having all strength and wisdom, God knows how to make use, even of those who are foolish and bad; otherwise there is so little wisdom and so little honesty in the world, that all had been in confusion and ruin long ago. These important truths were suited to convince the disputants that they were out of their depth in attempting to assign the Lord's reasons for afflicting Job; his ways are unsearchable, and his judgments past finding out. Let us remark what beautiful illustrations there are in the word of God, confirming his sovereignty, and wisdom in that sovereignty: but the highest and infinitely the most important is, that the Lord Jesus was crucified by the malice of the Jews; and who but the Lord could have known that this one event was the salvation of the world?Behold, he breaketh down - None can repair what he pulls down. Cities and towns he can devote to ruin by fire, or earthquake, or the pestilence, and so completely destroy them that they can never be rebuilt. We may now refer to such illustrations as Sodom, Babylon, Petra, Tyre, Herculaneum, and Pompeii, as full proof of what is here affirmed.

He shutteth up a man - He can shut up a man in such difficulties and straits that he cannot extricate himself; see Job 11:10. The Chaldee renders this, "he shuts up a man in the grave (בקבורתא) and it cannot be opened." But the more correct idea is, that God has complete control over a man, and that he can so hedge up his way that he cannot help himself.

14. shutteth up—(Isa 22:22). Job refers to Zophar's "shut up" (Job 11:10). He breaketh down, to wit, houses, castles, cities, which God designeth to destroy utterly.

He shutteth up; if he will shut up a man in prison, or in any straits or troubles.

There can be no opening, without God’s permission and providence.

Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again,.... Which some restrain to the tower of Babel; but though the builders of it were obliged to desist from building, it does not appear that it was broken down, but seems to have continued many ages after: others more probably refer it to the destruction of Sodom, as Sephorno, which was an utter destruction, a perpetual desolation, and that city never was rebuilt to this day; and the same may be observed of many other cities that have had their foundations razed up, and have never been rebuilt, Thebes, Tyre, &c. and as will be the case of Rome, or the great city of Babylon, when once destroyed; yea, this has been true of kingdoms and states, such as Jeremiah was to root out, pull down, and destroy; that is, by prophesying of their destruction, as the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, and others, whose names and nations are no more, see Jeremiah 1:10; and the four monarchies broken down and destroyed, and made as the chaff of the summer threshing floor, by the kingdom of Christ, Daniel 2:35; and may be exemplified in particular persons and families; in Job and his family, the Lord broke him with breach upon breach; he broke him in his estate and substance; he broke down the hedge about him, and exposed him to thieves and robbers that plundered him of his substance; he broke down his family, that had been so largely and happily built up, by taking away his children by death; and he broke his constitution by diseases, afflictions, and sorrows, to which Job may have here respect, when he at this time never expected to have his losses in his substance, and in his family, and in his health, repaired, as they were; nor could it have been done without the will and pleasure of God; and oftentimes, when such breaches are made, there is no reparation; a man's wealth, and health, and family, are never built up again:

he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening; if he shut up a man in a prison, there is no opening the doors of it to let out unless he pleases; whether it be the prison of sin, in which all are concluded, in the fetters and with the cords of which they are held, and will continue, unless those shackles are broken off by powerful and efficacious grace, and the Lord proclaims liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, and gives it; or whether it be the prison of the law, in which sinners are shut up, and held as condemned malefactors; there is no deliverance from it but by Christ, who has redeemed his people from the curse and condemnation of it; and by his Spirit, as a spirit of adoption, who delivers them from the bondage of it, and makes them free indeed; or whether it be the prison of afflictions, straits, and difficulties in life, with which even good men are surrounded, being bound in fetters, and holden in cords of affliction; there is no opening for them, or getting out of them, unless the Lord breaks their bands asunder, and brings them out of darkness and distress, as out of prison houses, and so opens and makes a way for their escape; or whether he shuts them up, and they are so straitened in their souls that they cannot come forth in the free exercise of grace, and discharge of duty, as it was with Heman, when he said, "I am shut up, and I cannot come forth", Psalm 88:8; and as it was with David, when he prayed, "bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name", Psalm 142:7; there is no opening for them till the spirit of the Lord opens their hearts and their graces, and brings them forth into exercise; and "where he is there is liberty", 2 Corinthians 3:17; or if he shuts up a man in the grave, as the Targum paraphrases it, brings him to the house appointed for all living, and locks him up in it; there can be no opening for him till the resurrection morn, when Christ, who has the keys of hell and death, will unlock the graves, and the dead shall come forth, as Lazarus did at his call, John 11:43, or if "he shuts upon a man" (r), as the words may be rendered; shuts the gates of heaven upon a man, as the door into the marriage chamber of the Lamb will be shut upon and against the foolish virgins, as well as profane sinners, there can be no opening, cry as long as they will; see Matthew 25:10; and as God shut the door of Eden, or the earthly paradise, against Adam, when he drove him out, Genesis 3:23, to which Sephorno refers this passage; or if the Lord shuts up a man in hell, there is no opening, no way of escape from thence. We read of "spirits in prison", 1 Peter 3:19, which is to be understood not of the limbus or purgatory of the Papists, but of hell; and these "spirits" are the disobedient in the times of Noah, who dying, or being swept away with the flood, were cast into hell, where they have lain ever since, and will lie unto the judgment of the great day; between the place of the damned, and of the happy, in Abraham's bosom, is a great gulf, that there is no passing from one to the other, which is the immutable and unalterable decree of God, which has fixed the everlasting states of men, Luke 16:26.

(r) "super virum", Montanus, Mercerus, Bolducius; "super viro", Schmidt, Michaelis.

Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. breaketh down] e.g. fenced cities, devoting them to ruin, cf. ch. Job 15:28.

shutteth up a man] In prison, as captive kings and the like, cf. Jeremiah 22:24 seq., 2 Kings 25:27 seq.

Verse 14. - Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again. Professor Lee thinks that the allusion is to the cities of the plain (Genesis 19:24-29). But the sentiment is so general, that we may well doubt if particular instances were in Job's mind. At any rate, the destructive agencies of nature must be as much included as any supernatural acts. He shutteth up a man (comp. Job 11:10). God "shuts up" men when be hedges them in with calamities or other circumstances, which take away from them all freedom of action (Job 3:23; Job 19:8) When he does this, the result follows - There can be no opening. No other power can give release. Job 12:1414 Behold, He breaketh down and it cannot be built again,

He shutteth up, and it cannot be opened.

15 Behold, He restraineth the waters and they dry up,

And He letteth them out and they overturn the earth.

16 With Him is might and existence,

The erring and the deceiver are His.

God is almighty, and everything in opposition to Him powerless. If He break down (any structure whatever), it can never be rebuilt; should He close upon any one (i.e., the dungeon, as perhaps a cistern covered with a stone, Lamentations 3:53, comp. Jeremiah 38:6; על with reference to the depth of the dungeon, instead of the usual בּעד), it (that which is closed from above) cannot be opened again. In like manner, when He desires to punish a land, He disposes the elements according to His will and pleasure, by bringing upon it drought or flood. יעצר, coercet, according to the correct Masoretic mode of writing יעצר with dagesh in the Ssade, in order clearly to distinguish in the pronunciation between the forms j'a-ssor and jaa'ssor (יעצר);

(Note: Vid., my notice of Br's Psalter-Ausgabe, Luth. Zeitschr. 1863, 3; and comp. Keil on Leviticus 4:13 (Comm on Pent., Clark's transl.).)

ויבשׁוּ (for which Abulwalid writes ויבשׁוּ) is a defective form of writing according to Ges. 69, 3, 3; the form ויהפכוּ with the similarly pointed fut. consec., 1 Samuel 25:12, form a pair (zuwg) noted by the Masora. By תּוּשׁיּה, which is ascribed to God, is here to be understood that which really exists, the real, the objective, knowledge resting on an objective actual basis, in contrast with what only appears to be; so that consequently the idea of Job 12:16 and Job 12:13 is somewhat veiled; for the primary notion of חכמה is thickness, solidity, purity, like πυκνότης.

(Note: The primary notion of חכם, Arab. hkm, is, to be thick, firm, solid, as the prim. notion of Arab. sachfa (to be foolish, silly) is to be thin, loose, not holding together (as a bad texture). The same fundamental notions are represented in the expression of moral qualities (in distinction from intellectual) by צדק, Arab. sdq, and רשׁע, (Arab. rs', rsg).)

This strophe closes like the preceding, which favours our division. The line with עמּו is followed by one with לו, which affirms that, in the supremacy of His rule and the wisdom of His counsels, God makes evil in every form subservient to His designs.

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