Job 12:21
He poureth contempt upon princes, and weakeneth the strength of the mighty.
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Job 12:21-22. He poureth contempt upon princes — That is, he makes them contemptible to their subjects and others; and weakeneth the strength of the mighty — The word מזיח, meziach, here rendered strength, occurs also Psalm 109:19, where it is translated girdle. The clause might here have been rendered, He looseth the girdle of the mighty, a phrase which signifies weakness, Isaiah 5:27; as the girding of the girdle denotes strength and power, Isaiah 22:21; Isaiah 45:5. Both these phrases are taken from the quality of their garments, which, being loose and long, disabled a man for walking or working. He discovereth deep things out of darkness — That is, the most secret and crafty counsels of princes: which are contrived and carried on in the dark.

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 poureth contempt upon princes - He has power to hurl them from their thrones, and to overwhelm them with disgrace.

And weakeneth the strength of the mighty - Margin, as in Hebrew "looseth the girdle of the strong." The Orientals wore loose flowing robes, which were secured by a girdle around the loins. When they labored, ran, or traveled, their robes were girded up. But this is common everywhere. Wrestlers, leapers, and runners, put a girdle around them, and are able thus to accomplish much more than they otherwise could. To loosen that, is to weaken them. So Job says that God had power to loosen the strength of the mighty. He here seems to labor for expressions, and varies the form of the image in every way to show the absolute control which God has over people, and the fact that his power is seen in the reverses of mankind. Lucretius has a passage strongly resembling this in the general sentiment:

Usque adeo res humanas vis abdita quaedam

Obterit; et pulchros fasces, saevasque secures,

Proculcare, atque ludibrio sibi habere, videtur.

Lib. v. 1232.

So from his awful shades, some Power unseen

O'erthrows all human greatness! Treads to dust

Rods, ensigns, crowns - the proudest pomps of state;

And laughs at all the mockery of mad!


21. Ps 107:40 quotes, in its first clause, this verse and, in its second, Job 12:24.

weakeneth the strength—literally, "looseth the girdle"; Orientals wear flowing garments; when active strength is to be put forth, they gird up their garments with a girdle. Hence here—"He destroyeth their power" in the eyes of the people.

He poureth contempt upon princes, i.e. he makes them contemptible to their subjects and others.

Weakeneth, Heb. he looseth the girdle; which phrase signifies weakness, as Isaiah 5:27; as the girding of the girdle notes strength and power, as Isaiah 22:21 45:5; both these phrases being taken from the quality of their garments, which being loose and long, did disenable a man for travel or work.

He poureth contempt upon princes,.... Not on good princes, such as rule in righteousness, and decree judgment and govern their subjects according to good laws, in a mild and gentle manner, and answer to their name of free, liberal, beneficent and munificent. These, as there is an honour due unto them, it is the will of God they should have it; much less are princes, in a figurative sense, meant, good men, the children of God, who are born of him the King of kings, and so princes in all the earth; but, in a literal sense, bad princes, that oppress their subjects, and rule them with rigour, and persecute good men; such as rose up against Christ, as Herod and Pontius Pilate; persecutors of the saints, as the Roman emperors, and the antichristian princes in the papacy; these God sometimes brings into contempt with their subjects, deposes them from their government, reduces them to a mean, abject, and servile state; or they die a shameful death, as Herod was eaten with worms, and many of the Heathen emperors died miserable deaths; and the vials of God's wrath will be poured out upon all the antichristian states, and their princes: pouring denotes the abundance of shame they are put to, as if they were clothed and covered with it, it being plentifully poured out like water, or as water was poured upon them, which is sometimes done by way of contempt, see Psalm 107:40;

and weakeneth the strength of the mighty; the strength of men, hale and robust, by sending one disease or another upon them, which takes it away from them; or by "the mighty" are meant men in power and authority; kings, as the Targum paraphrases it, mighty monarchs, whose strength lies in their wealth and riches, in their fortresses and powerful armies; all which God can deprive them of in an instant, and make them as weak as other men. Some render it, "and looseneth the girdle of the mighty" (b), the same as loosening the loins of kings, Isaiah 14:1; ungirding them, and taking away their power and authority from them, rendering them unfit for business, or unable to keep their posts and defend their kingdom.

(b) "et zonam potentium laxat", Tigurine version, Piscator, Beza, Schmidt; so Jarchi, Ben Gersom, Bar Tzemach, & Ben Melech.

He poureth contempt upon princes, and weakeneth the strength of the mighty.
21. contempt upon princes] Or, nobles, ch. Job 34:18; cf. Psalm 107:40.

weakeneth the strength of the mighty] lit. looseth the girdle of the strong. As the garments were girt up for active labour or battle, to loose the girdle means to incapacitate; Isaiah 5:27.

Verse 21. - He poureth contempt upon princes; literally, upon the munificent. But the word has often the more generic sense of "princes," "great men" (see 1 Samuel 2:8; Proverbs 25:7, etc.). And weakeneth the strength of the mighty; literally, looseth the belt of the strong. But our version sufficiently expresses the meaning. Job 12:21It is unnecessary to understand כהנים, after 2 Samuel 8:18, of high officers of state, perhaps privy councillors; such priest-princes as Melchizedek of Salem and Jethro of Midian are meant. איטנים, which denotes inexhaustible, perennis, when used of waters, is descriptive of nations as invincible in might, Jeremiah 5:15, and of persons as firmly-rooted and stedfast. נאמנים, such as are tested, who are able to speak and counsel what is right at the fitting season, consequently the ready in speech and counsel. The derivation, proposed by Kimchi, from נאם, in the sense of diserti, would require the pointing נאמנים. טעם is taste, judgment, tact, which knows what is right and appropriate under the different circumstances of life, 1 Samuel 25:33. יקּח is used exactly as in Hosea 4:11. Job 12:21 is repeated verbatim, Psalm 107:40; the trilogy, Psalm 105-107, particularly Psalm 107, is full of passages similar to the second part of Isaiah and the book of Job (vid., Psalter, ii. 117). אפיקים (only here and Job 41:7) are the strong, from אפק, to hold together, especially to concentrate strength on anything. מזיח (only here, instead of מזח, not from מזח, which is an imaginary root, but from זחח, according to Frst equivalent to זקק, to lace, bind) is the girdle with which the garments were fastened and girded up for any great exertion, especially for desperate conflict (Isaiah 5:27). To make him weak or relaxed, is the same as to deprive of the ability of vigorous, powerful action. Every word is here appropriately used. This tottering relaxed condition is the very opposite of the intensity and energy which belongs to "the strong." All temporal and spiritual power is subject to God: He gives or takes it away according to His supreme will and pleasure.
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