Job 12:18
He looses the bond of kings, and girds their loins with a girdle.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) He looseth the bond of kings.—He looseth the confederacy of kings, by which they bind themselves together, and girdeth them to fight against each other. Some understand it of the girdle of servitude in contrast to the girdle of state.

Job 12:18. He looseth the bond of kings — He takes from them the power and authority wherewith they ruled their subjects; ruled them with rigour, perhaps tyrannised over and enslaved them: and he divests them of that majesty which he had stamped upon them, and by which they kept their people in awe. These God can, and often does, take away from them, and thereby free the people from their bonds, of which we have abundance of instances in the history of different nations; and girdeth their loins with a girdle — He reduces them to a mean and servile condition; which is thus expressed, because servants used to gird up their garments, (which, after the manner of those parts of the world, were loose and long,) that they might be fitter for attendance upon their masters: he not only deposes them from their thrones, but brings them into slavery.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?He looseth the bond of kings - The bond of kings (מוּסר mûsâr) here means that by which they bind others. Their power over others he loosens or takes away.

And girdeth their loins with a girdle - That is, he girds them with a rope or cord, and leads them away as prisoners. The whole series of remarks here refers to the reverses and changes in the conditions of life. The meaning here is, that the bonds of authority which they imposed on others are unbound, and that their own loins are bound with a girdle, not a girdle of royal dignity and ornament, but such a one as they are bound with who are servants, or who travel. "Pict. Bib."

18. He looseth the bond of kings—He looseth the authority of kings—the "bond" with which they bind their subjects (Isa 45:1; Ge 14:4; Da 2:21).

a girdle—the cord, with which they are bound as captives, instead of the royal "girdle" they once wore (Isa 22:21), and the bond they once bound others with. So "gird"—put on one the bonds of a prisoner instead of the ordinary girdle (Joh 21:18).

He looseth the bond of kings; either,

1. Passively, whereby they are bound. He freeth them from prison or restraint. Or rather,

2. Actively, that wherewith they bind their subjects to obedience, to wit, their power and authority, and that majesty which God stamps upon kings to keep their people in awe; all which God can, and oft doth, take away from them, and freeth the people from their bonds, when it pleaseth him; of which all histories give instances. See Daniel 2:21.

With a girdle; either,

1. With a girdle of dignity and glory, which was put upon the loins of men in great honour and authority, as Isaiah 11:5 22:21 Jeremiah 13:1,2. So this member of the verse is opposite to the; former, and the sense of the whole is, he either casteth down kings or raiseth them up, as he pleaseth. But the Scripture no where mentions this girdle as one of the ornaments of kings. Or rather,

2. With a servile girdle; for seeing all, both the foregoing and succeeding passages, do evidently note acts of judgment or punishments inflicted upon them, it seems improper to understand this alone of an act of God’s favour to them. So the sense is, he reduceth them into a mean and servile condition; which is thus expressed, because servants did use to gird up their garments, (which after the manner of those parts and time were loose and long,) that they might be fitter for attendance upon their masters; of which see Luke 12:37 17:8. And so this is an amplification of the former sentence. He not only deposeth them from their thrones, but brings them into bondage and slavery. He looseth the bonds of kings,.... Not with which they themselves may be bound, being taken prisoners, or being so before made kings, and brought from thence to reign, as in Ecclesiastes 4:14; but that which they bind on their subjects, a yoke of bondage, tyranny, and oppression; so that to loose their bond is to loose their subjects from it, and free them from their arbitrary and despotic power, and from the burdens they lay upon them: unless rather it should be understood of loosing their waistbands, as an emblem of their government, ungirding them, or unkinging them, stripping them of their royal power and authority, called a "loosing of their loins", Isaiah 45:1; and this power God has over such great personages, as to set up kings, and remove them at his pleasure, Daniel 2:21; which shows that strength and power, as well as wisdom, are with him; this may respect Chedorlaomer casting off the yoke of Nimrod, and the kings of Canaan casting off the yoke of Chedorlaomer, and being loosed from it, Genesis 14:1;

and girdeth their loins with a girdle; not with a royal waistband, as an ensign of government; see Isaiah 11:5; which he looses, and strips them of, but another instead of that; he girds them with the girdle of a servant or traveller; the allusion being to the custom in those eastern countries, where they wore long garments, for servants to gird them up, when they waited on their masters, or when men went long journeys, see Luke 17:7; and so may signify that kings sometimes become servants, or go into captivity, and there be used as such, as they sometimes are; the Vulgate Latin version is, "he girds their reins with a rope".

{i} He looseth {k} the bond of kings, and girdeth their loins with a girdle.

(i) He takes wisdom from them.

(k) He abates the humour of princes, and brings them into the subjection of others.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. he looseth the bond of kings] The verse probably means, he relaxes, removes the authority of kings, destroys their bond or power over men; and as a consequence their own loins are girt with a girdle, i. e. either the common girdle of the labourer, or the cord of the captive.Verse 18. - He looseth the bond of kings, and girdeth their loins with a girdle. This may either mean that God at his pleasure both looses kings from captivity, and also binds them with a cord and causes them to be carried away captive; or that he looses the authority which kings have over their subjects, and then lets them be carried away captive by their enemies. The latter is perhaps the more probable sense. 11 Shall not the ear try sayings,

As the palate tasteth food?

12 Among the ancients is wisdom,

And long life is understanding.

13 With Him is wisdom and strength;

Counsel and understanding are His.

The meaning of Job 12:11 is, that the sayings (מלּין, Job 8:10, comp. Job 5:27) of the ancients are not to be accepted without being proved; the waw in וחך is waw adaequationis, as Job 5:7; Job 11:12, therefore equivalent to quemadmodum; it places together for comparison things that are analogous: The ear, which is used here like αἰθητήριον (Hebrews 5:14), has the task of searching out and testing weighty sayings, as the palate by tasting has to find out delicious and suitable food; this is indicated by לו, the dat. commodi. So far Job recognises the authority of these traditional sayings. At any rate, he adds (Job 12:12): wisdom is to be expected from the hoary-headed, and length of life is understanding, i.e., it accompanies length of life. "Length of days" may thus be taken as the subject (Ewald, Olsh.); but בּ may also, with the old translations and expositors, be carried forward from the preceding clause: ἐν δὲ πολλῷ βίῳ ἐπιστήμη (lxx). We prefer, as the most natural: long life is a school of understanding. But - such is the antithesis in Job 12:13 which belongs to this strophe - the highest possessor of wisdom, as of might, is God. Ewald inserts two self-made couplets before Job 12:12, which in his opinion are required both by the connection and "the structure of the strophe;" we see as little need for this interpolation here as before, Job 6:14. עמּו and לו, which are placed first for the sake of emphasis, manifestly introduce an antithesis; and it is evident from the antithesis, that the One who is placed in contrast to the many men of experience is God. Wisdom is found among the ancients, although their sayings are not to be always implicitly accepted; but wisdom belongs to God as an attribute of His nature, and indeed absolutely, i.e., on every side, and without measure, as the piling up of synonymous expressions implies: חכמה, which perceives the reason of the nature, and the reality of the existence, of things; עצה, which is never perplexed as to the best way of attaining its purpose; תּבוּנה, which can penetrate to the bottom of what is true and false, sound and corrupt (comp. 1 Kings 3:9); and also גּבוּרה, which is able to carry out the plans, purposes, and decisions of this wisdom against all hindrance and opposition.

In the strophe which follows, from his own observation and from traditional knowledge (Job 13:1), Job describes the working of God, as the unsearchably wise and the irresistibly mighty One, both among men and in nature.

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