Job 12:5
He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease.
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(5) Is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease.—This rendering conveys no sense. The meaning is either that the lamp or torch prepared for feet tottering and uncertain in the darkness is disregarded and rejected by those who are at ease, and need no such aid; in which case one does not see very clearly why Job compares himself to such a torch: or, more probably, there is contempt for calamity in the thoughts of him that is at ease, it is ready at hand for them who are tottering with their feet.

Job 12:5. He that is ready to slip with his feet — The just man, last mentioned, who is ready to fall, or has already fallen into trouble; is as a lamp despised — That is, like a lamp or torch, which, while it shines clearly in a dark night, is very useful and comfortable; but when it is almost extinct, or when the light of the morning approaches, is neglected and despised, as that which is unnecessary, troublesome, and offensive. So the same man, who, while his feet stood fast in a prosperous condition, was magnified and honoured by all, and he shone as a lamp; when he appears to be ready to slip with his feet, and to fall into adversity and trouble, is looked upon as a lamp going out, or as the snuff of a candle, which we throw to the ground and tread upon: Despised in the thought of him that is at ease — That is, in the opinion of a man that lives in great ease and outward happiness; which generally make people forget and despise those who are in affliction. Heath interprets the verse thus: In calamity contempt is ready in the thought of the insolent, for those whose feet are tottering. The words being transposed in the English version, Chappelow thinks, if they be taken in the order in which they occur in the Hebrew, their meaning becomes more manifest. It is thus: A lamp, despised in the opinion of an indolent man, is prepared for the slips of the foot: that is, he who is a lamp or light to enlighten and instruct other people, though despised by those who are indolent, as if they wanted no instruction, is prepared for the several accidents of life, (the trials or troubles,) which are as natural and common to man as it is natural for him sometimes to stumble or slip with his foot. Here also Job’s words are general, without a particular application to himself, though doubtless he spoke them with reference to his own distressed circumstances.

12:1-5 Job upbraids his friends with the good opinion they had of their own wisdom compared with his. We are apt to call reproofs reproaches, and to think ourselves mocked when advised and admonished; this is our folly; yet here was colour for this charge. He suspected the true cause of their conduct to be, that they despised him who was fallen into poverty. It is the way of the world. Even the just, upright man, if he comes under a cloud, is looked upon with contempt.He that is ready to slip with his feet - The man whose feet waver or totter; that is, the man in adversity; see Proverbs 25:19. A man in prosperity is represented as standing firm; one in adversity as wavering, or falling; see Psalm 73:2.

But as for me, my feet were almost gone;

My steps had well nigh slipped.

There is much difficulty in this passage, and it has by no means been removed by the labor of critics. The reader may consult Rosenmuller, Good, and Schultens, on the verse, for a more full attempt to illustrate its meaning. Dr. Good, after Reiske and Parkhurst, has offered an explanation by rendering the whole passage thus:

The just, the perfect man is a laughing-stock to the proud,

A derision amidst the sunshine of the prosperous,

While ready to slip with his foot.

It does not appear to me, however, that this translation can be fairly educed from the Hebrew text, and I am disposed to acquiesce in the more common and obvious interpretation. According to that, the idea is, that a man in adversity, when failing from a high condition of honor, is regarded as an almost extinguished lamp, that is now held in contempt, and is cast away. When the torch was blazing, it was regarded as of value; when nearly extinguished, it would be regarded as worthless, and would be cast away. So when a man was in prosperity, he would be looked up to as a guide and example. In adversity, his counsels would be rejected, and he would be looked upon with contempt. Nothing can be more certain or more common than the fact here adverted to. The rich and the great are looked up to with respect and veneration. Their words and actions have an influence which those of no other men have. When they begin to fall, others are willing to hasten their fall. Long cherished but secret envy begins to show itself; those who wish to rise rejoice in their ruin, and they are looked upon with contempt in proportion to their former honor, rank, and power. They are regarded as an extinguished torch - of no value, and are cast away.

In the thought - In the mind, or the view.

Of him that is at ease - In a state of comfort and prosperity. He finds no sympathy from them. Job doubtless meant to apply this to his friends. They were then at ease, and were prosperous. Not suffering pain, and not overwhelmed with poverty, they now looked with the utmost composure on him - as they would on a torch which was burned out, and which there would be no hope of rekindling.

5. Rather, "a torch" (lamp) is an object of contempt in the thoughts of him who rests securely (is at ease), though it was prepared for the falterings of the feet [Umbreit] (Pr 25:19). "Thoughts" and "feet" are in contrast; also rests "securely," and "falterings." The wanderer, arrived at his night-quarters, contemptuously throws aside the torch which had guided his uncertain steps through the darkness. As the torch is to the wanderer, so Job to his friends. Once they gladly used his aid in their need; now they in prosperity mock him in his need. i.e. The just man last mentioned, who is upon the brink of the pit or grave, ready to fall into mischief, so as never to rise again in this world, which is my case, and the occasion of their scorn and contempt.

As a lamp despised, i.e. like a lamp or torch, which whilst it shines clearly and in a dark night is very useful and comfortable; but when it draws towards an end, and is nigh extinct, and in the light, is neglected and despised, as that which is unnecessary, and troublesome, and offensive. So the same man, who, when his feet stand fast in a prosperous condition, is magnified and adored by all, when his feet slip or stumble, as the phrase is Psalm 94:18 Jeremiah 13:16, when he is in misery, is commonly forsaken and despised.

In the thought of him that is at ease, i.e. in the opinion of a man that lives in great ease and outward happiness, which generally makes persons to forget and despise those who are in affliction. But these words are a little otherwise rendered, and that agreeably to the order of the words in the Hebrew text, He (which is easily understood out of Job 12:4, the just and upright man) is as a torch despised in the opinion or thought (as this or the like words coming from the same Hebrew root are used, Psalm 146:4 Daniel 6:3 Jonah 1:6. Or, because of the splendour; for so this root and its derivatives elsewhere signify, as Song of Solomon 5:14 Jeremiah 5:28 Ezekiel 27:19. And either of these significations agree well with the place. Or, compared with the splendour or greater lustre and glory) of him that lives in tranquillity; he (i.e. the just man) is (or, because he is; for this may be the reason of the contempt) ready to slip with his foot, i.e. ready to perish.

He that is ready to slip with his feet,.... Not into sin, though this is often the case of good men, but into calamities and afflictions; and Job means himself, and every just upright man in the like circumstances: or he that is "prepared" or "destined" to be among them, that "totter" and stagger in their "feet" (i); that cannot stand upon their feet, but fall to the ground; which may describe man in declining and distressing circumstances; or that is appointed to be the laughing stock of such as are unstable in the word and ways of God; double minded men, hypocrites, and formal professors, that totter and stagger at everything they meet with disagreeable to the flesh: with such, a poor afflicted saint is laughed to scorn; he

is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease; who are in affluent circumstances, enjoy great prosperity, live in plenty, and are not in trouble as others; their hearts are at ease: now with such, poor good men are had in great contempt; they are despised at heart, in the thoughts of such persons, if they do not in words express it; they are like a lamp just going out, which is neglected, and looked upon as useless; or like a torch burnt to the end, when it is thrown away; and thus it is with men, while the lamp of prosperity burns clear and bright, they are valued and had in esteem, but when their lamp becomes dim, and is almost, or quite extinguished, they are despised, see Psalm 123:3; some apply this to Christ, who was a lamp or light, a great one, but despised of men, and even as a light; they loved darkness rather than light; and especially by the Pharisees, who were at ease, settled on their lees, that trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others; and this is true of Gospel ministers, though bright and burning lights, and even of every good man, in whom the true light of grace, and of the Gospel, shines, and especially when under afflictive circumstances. Some, instead of a "lamp despised", read, "for" or "because of calamity despised" (k); so Aben Ezra, which conveys the same sense, that an afflicted man is despised for his affliction; and this being the case of good men confutes the notion of Job's friends, that it always goes well with such; and their other notion of its going ill with bad men is refuted in Job 12:6.

(i) "destinatus vacillantibus pede", Schmidt; so Michaelis. (k) "ad calamitatem contumelia", Cocceius; "ad infortunium vilis habetur", Gussetius, p. 674.

{d} He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease.

(d) As the rich do not esteem a light or torch that goes out, so he despised he that falls from prosperity to adversity.

5.  There is contempt for misfortune in the thought of him that is at ease,

It awaiteth them who are slipping with their foot.

Zophar’s references for Job’s advantage to the Divine wisdom and might implied that Job was ignorant of all this, and took no account of Job’s past life spent in the fellowship of God and in meditation on His ways. It is to this last that Job refers when he says: I who called on God, &c. He feels keenly the pass he has come to when men inculcate such commonplaces upon him; this feeling he expresses by saying, I am to be, I must be, or have to be a laughing-stock.

Job 12:5 means, But such is the treatment which those who fall into misfortune, even though they be righteous men, receive at the hands of those that are at ease and prosperous. The word rendered “misfortune” or calamity occurs again, ch. Job 30:24, Job 31:29, Proverbs 24:22. On the slipping of the foot, cf. Psalm 38:16; Psalm 73:2.

Verse 5. - He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease; rather, as in the Revised Version, In the thought of him that is at ease there is contempt for misfortune; it (i e. contempt) is ready for them whose foot slippeth. The meaning is, "I am despised and scorned by you who sit at ease, because my foot has slipped, and I have fallen into misfortune." Job 12:5 4 I must be a mockery to my own friend,

I who called on Eloah and He heard me;

A mockery - the just, the godly man.

5 Contempt belongs to misfortune, according to the ideas of the prosperous;

It awaits those who are ready to slip.

6 Tents of the destroyer remain in peace,

And those that defy God are prosperous,

Who taketh Eloah into his hand.

The synallage of לרעהוּ for לרעי is not nearly so difficult as many others: a laughing-stock to his own friend; comp. Isaiah 2:8, they worship the work of their (his) own hands (ידיו). "One who called on Eloah (לאלוהּ, for which לאלוהּ is found in lxx at Job 36:2) and He heard him" is in apposition to the subject; likewise תמים צדיק, which is to be explained according to Proverbs 11:5, צדיק (from צדק, Arab. ṣdq, to be hard, firm, stiff, straight), is one who in his conduct rules himself strictly according to the will of God; תמים, one whose thoughts are in all respects and without disguise what they should be-in one word: pure. Most old translators (Targ., Vulg., Luther) give לפּיד the signification, a torch. Thus e.g., Levi v. Gerson explains: "According to the view of the prosperous and carnally secure, he who is ready for falterings of the feet, i.e., likely to fall, is like a lighted torch which burns away and destroys whatever comes in contact with it, and therefore one keeps aloof from him; but it is also more than this: he is an object of contempt in their eyes." Job might not inappropriately say, that in the eyes of the prosperous he is like a despised, cast-away torch (comp. the similar figure, Isaiah 14:19, like a branch that is rejected with contempt); and Job 12:5 would be suitably connected with this if למועדי could be derived from a substantive מעד, vacillatio, but neither the usage of the language nor the scriptio plena (after which Jerome translates tempus statutum, and consequently has in mind the מועדים, times of festal pilgrimages, which are also called ררלים in later times), nor the vowel pointing (instead of which מעדי would be expected), is favourable to this. רגל מועדי signifies vacillantes pede, those whose prosperity is shaken, and who are in danger of destruction that is near at hand. We therefore, like Abenezra and modern expositors, who are here happily agreed, take לפיד as composed of ל and פּיד, a word common to the books of Job (Job 30:24; Job 31:29) and Proverbs (ch. Proverbs 24:22), which is compared by the Jewish lexicographers, according both to form and meaning, to כּיד (Job 21:20) and איד, and perhaps signifies originally dissolution (comp. פדה), decease (Syr. f'jodo, escape; Arab. faid, dying), fall, then generally calamity, misfortune: contempt (befits) misfortune, according to the thoughts (or thinking), idea of the prosperous. The pointing wavers between לעשׁתּות and the more authorized לעשׁתּוּת, with which Parchon compares the nouns עבדוּת and מרדּוּת; the ת, like ד in the latter word, has Dag. lene, since the punctuation is in this respect not quite consistent, or follows laws at present unknown (comp. Ges. 21, rem. 2). Job 12:5 is now suitably connected: ready (with reference to בוז) for those who stumble, i.e., contempt certainly awaits such, it is ready and waiting for them, נכון, ἕτοιμος, like Exodus 34:2.

While the unfortunate, in spite of his innocence, has thus only to expect contempt, the tents, i.e., dwellings and possessions, of the oppressor and the marauder remain in prosperity; ישׁליוּ for ישׁלוּ, an intensive form used not only in pause (Psalm 36:8; comp. Deuteronomy 32:37) and with greater distinctives (Numbers 34:6; Psalm 122:6), but also in passages where it receives no such accent (Psalm 36:9; Psalm 57:2; Psalm 73:2). On אהלים, instead of אהלים, vid., Ges. 93, 6, 3. The verbal clause (Job 12:6) is followed by a substantival clause (Job 12:6). בּטּחות is an abstract plural from בּטּוּח, perfectly secure; therefore: the most care-less security is the portion of those who provoke God (lxx περοργίζουσι);

(Note: Luther takes בטחות as the adverb to מרגיזי: und toben wider Gott thrstiglich (vid., Vilmar, Pastoraltheolog. Bltter, 1861, S. 110-112); according to the Vulg., et audacter provocant Deum.)

and this is continued in an individualizing form: him who causes Eloah to go into his hand. Seb. Schmid explains this passage in the main correctly: qui Deum in manu fert h.e. qui manum aut potentiam suam pro Deo habet et licitum sibi putat quodlibet; comp. Habakkuk 1:11 : "this his strength becomes God to him," i.e., he deifies his own power, and puts it in the place of God. But הביא signifies, in this connection with לידו (not בידו), neither to carry, nor to lead (Gesenius, who compares Psalm 74:5, where, however, it signifies to cause to go into equals to strike into); it must be translated: he who causes Eloah to enter into his hand; from which translation it is clear that not the deification of the hand, but of that which is taken into the hand, is meant. This which is taken into the hand is not, however, an idol (Abenezra), but the sword; therefore: him who thinks after the manner of Lamech,

(Note: [Comp Pentateuch, at Genesis 4:25, Clark's Foreign Theological Library. - Tr.])

as he takes the iron weapon of attack and defence into his hand, that he needs no other God.

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