Job 12:18
He looseth the bond of kings, and girdeth 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. Job 12:1817 He leadeth away counsellors stripped of their robes,

And maketh judges fools.

18 The authority of kings He looseth,

And bindeth their loins with bands.

19 He leadeth away priests stripped of their robes,

And overthroweth those who are firmly established.

20 He removeth the speech of the eloquent,

And taketh away the judgment of the aged.

21 He poureth contempt upon princes,

And maketh loose the girdle of the mighty.

In Job 12:17, Job 12:19, שׁולל is added to מוליך as a conditional accusative; the old expositors vary in the rendering of this word; at any rate it does not mean: chained (Targ. on Job 12:17), from שׁלל (שׁרר), which is reduplicated in the word שׁלשׁלת, a chain, a word used in later Hebrew than the language of the Old Testament (שׁרשׁרה is the Old Testament word); nor is it: taken as booty, made captive (lxx αἰχμαλώτους; Targ. on Job 12:19, בּבזתא, in the quality of spoil) equals משׁולל; but it is a neuter adjective closely allied to the idea of the verb, exutus, not however mente (deprived of sense), but vestibus; not merely barefooted (Hirz., Oehler, with lxx, Micah 1:8, ἀνυπόδετος), which is the meaning of יחף, but: stripped of their clothes with violence (vid., Isaiah 20:4), stripped in particular of the insignia of their power. He leads them half-naked into captivity, and takes away the judges as fools (יהולל, vid., Psychol. S. 292), by destroying not only their power, but the prestige of their position also. We find echoes of this utterance respecting God's paradoxical rule in the world in Isaiah 40:23; Isaiah 44:25; and Isaiah's oracle on Egypt, Job 19:11-15, furnishes an illustration in the reality.

It is but too natural to translate Job 12:18 : the bands of kings He looses (after Psalm 116:16, למוסרי פתחת, Thou hast loosed my bands); but the relation of the two parts of the verse can then not be this: He unchains and chains kings (Hirz., Ew., Heiligst. Schlottm.), for the fut. consec. ויּאסר requires a contrast that is intimately connected with the context, and not of mere outward form: fetters in which kings have bound others (מלכים, gen. subjectivus) He looses, and binds them in fetters (Raschi), - an explanation which much commends itself, if מוּסר could only be justified as the construct of מוּסר by the remark that "the o sinks into u" (Ewald, 213, c). מוּסר does not once occur in the signification vinculum; but only the plur. מוסרים and מוסרות, vincula, accord with the usage of the language, so that even the pointing מוסר proposed by Hirzel is a venture. מוּסר, however, as constr. of מוּסר, correction, discipline, rule (i.e., as the domination of punishment, from יסר, castigare), is an equally suitable sense, and is probably connected by the poet with פּתּח (a word very familiar to him, Job 30:11; Job 39:5; Job 41:6) on account of its relation both in sound and sense to מוסרים (comp. Psalm 105:22). The English translation is correct: He looseth the authority of kings. The antithesis is certainly lost, but the thoughts here moreover flow on in synonymous parallelism.

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