Job 14:10
But man dies, and wastes away: yes, man gives up the ghost, and where is he?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
14:7-15 Though a tree is cut down, yet, in a moist situation, shoots come forth, and grow up as a newly planted tree. But when man is cut off by death, he is for ever removed from his place in this world. The life of man may fitly be compared to the waters of a land flood, which spread far, but soon dry up. All Job's expressions here show his belief in the great doctrine of the resurrection. Job's friends proving miserable comforters, he pleases himself with the expectation of a change. If our sins are forgiven, and our hearts renewed to holiness, heaven will be the rest of our souls, while our bodies are hidden in the grave from the malice of our enemies, feeling no more pain from our corruptions, or our corrections.But man dieth and wasteth away - Margin, "Is weakened, or cut off." The Hebrew word (חלשׁ châlash) means to overthrow, prostrate, discomfit; and hence, to be weak, frail, or waste away. The Septuagint renders it Ἀνὴρ δὲ τελευτήσας ᾤχετο Anēr de teleutēsas ōcheto - "man dying goes away." Herder renders it," his power is gone." The idea is, he entirely vanishes. He leaves nothing to sprout up again. There is no germ; no shoot; no living root; no seminal principle. Of course, this refers wholly to his living again on the earth, and not to the question about his future existence. That is a different inquiry. The main idea with Job here is, that when man dies there is no germinating principle, as there is in a tree that is cut down. Of the truth of this there can be no doubt; and this comparison of man with the vegetable world, must have early occurred to mankind, and hence, led to the inquiry whether he would not live in a future state. Other flyings that are cut down, spring up again and live. But man is cut down, and does not spring up again. Will he not be likely, therefore, to have an existence in some future state, and to spring up and flourish there? "The Romans," says Rosenmuller, "made those trees to be the symbol of death, which, being cut down, do not live again, or from whose roots no germs arise, as the pine and cypress, which were planted in burial-places, or were accustomed to be placed at the doors of the houses of the dead."

Man giveth up the ghost - Expires, or dies. This is all that the word (גוע gâva‛) means. The notion of giving up the spirit or the ghost - an idea not improper in itself - is not found in the Hebrew word, nor is it in the corresponding Greek word in the New Testament; compare Acts 5:10.

10. man … man—Two distinct Hebrew words are here used; Geber, a mighty man: though mighty, he dies. Adam, a man of earth: because earthly, he gives up the ghost.

wasteth—is reduced to nothing: he cannot revive in the present state, as the tree does. The cypress and pine, which when cut down do not revive, were the symbols of death among the Romans.

Dieth, and wasteth away; his body by degrees rotting away; or, and is cut off, as this word is used, Exodus 17:13 Isaiah 14:12.

Where is he? i.e. he is nowhere; or, he is not, to wit, in this world, as that phrase is commonly used. See Job 3:16 7:8,21. But man dieth, and wasteth away,.... All men, every man, "Geber", the mighty man, the strong man; some die in their full strength; the wise man, notwithstanding all his wisdom and knowledge, and even skill in the art of medicine; the rich man, with all his riches, with which he cannot bribe death, nor keep it off; the great and the honourable, emperors, kings, princes, nobles, all die, and their honour is laid in the dust; yea, good men die, though Christ has died for them; even those that are the most useful and beneficial to men, the prophets of the Lord, and the ministers of his word; and it is no wonder that wicked men should die, though they put the evil day far from them, make an agreement with death, or bid it defiance, their wickedness shall not deliver from it; all men have sinned, and death passes on them, it is appointed for them to die; not their souls, which are immortal, but their bodies, which return to dust, and are only the mortal part; death is a disunion or separation of soul and body: and now when this is made, the body "wasteth away" in the grave, and becomes rottenness, dust, and worms, and does not by the strength of nature spring up again, as a tree does; though some understand, by an inversion of the phrases, a wasting before death through diseases, as if the words were to be read, "but man wasteth away and dieth" (z); he is enervated by sickness, his strength is weakened in the way, and when he dies there is none left in him; he is cut off (a), as some choose to render it, or cut down as a tree is; but then there is no force or natural strength in him to rise again, as in a tree:

yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? not in the same place he was; not in his house and habitation where he lived; nor in his family, and among his friends, with whom he conversed, nor in the world, and on the earth where he did business; he is indeed somewhere, but where is he? his body is in the grave; his soul, where is that? if a good man, it is in the presence of God, where is fulness of joy; it is with Christ, which is far better than to be here; it is with the spirits of just men made perfect; it is in Abraham's bosom, feasting with him and other saints; it is in heaven, in paradise, in a state of endless joy and happiness: if a wicked man, his soul is in hell, in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels, and other damned spirits; in a prison, from whence there is no release, and in the uttermost misery and distress, banished from the divine Presence, and under a continual sense of the wrath of God.

(z) So the Tigurine version, Vatablus, and some in Drusius; and some Hebrews in Ramban and Bar Tzemach. (a) "exciditur", Beza, Piscator, Mercerus; so Kimchi & Ben Gersom.

{d} But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?

(d) He speaks here not as though he had no hope of immortality but as a man in extreme pain, when reason is overcome by afflictions and torments.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. wasteth away] lit. is laid prostrate.Verse 10. - But man dieth. "Man" is here גבר, "the brave, strong man," not אדם or אנושׁ, and the meaning is that man, however brave and' strong, perishes. And wasteth away; i.e. "comes to nought, remains no strength or vitality." Yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? "Where is he?" Job could not answer this question. He might say, "In Sheol." But where was Sheol, and what was Sheol? There was no written revelation on this subject, and no traditional knowledge on which dependence could be placed. The Hebrew notions on the subject were very vague and indeterminate; Job's notions are likely to have been still vaguer. There is no reason to believe that he had any exact acquaintance with the tenets of the Egyptians. He may have known the Chaldean teaching, but it would not have carried him very far(see above, pp. 178, 179). Doubt and perplexity beset him whenever he turned his attention to the problem of man's condition after death, and, excepting when carried away by a burst of enthusiasm, he seems to have regarded it as the highest wisdom, in matters of this kind, "to knew that he knew nothing." The question, "Where is he?" is an acknowledgment of this profound ignorance. 4 Would that a pure one could come from an impure!

Not a single one - -

5 His days then are determined,

The number of his months is known to Thee,

Thou hast appointed bounds for him that he may not pass over:

6 Look away from him then, and let him rest,

Until he shall accomplish as a hireling his day.

Would that perfect sinlessness were possible to man; but since (to use a New Testament expression) that which is born of the flesh is flesh, there is not a single one pure. The optative מי־יתּן seems to be used here with an acc. of the object, according to its literal meaning, quis det s. afferat, as Job 31:31; Deuteronomy 28:67; Psalm 14:7. Ewald remarks (and refers to 358, b, of his Grammar) that לא, Job 14:4, must be the same as לוּ; but although in 1 Samuel 20:14; 2 Samuel 13:26; 2 Kings 5:17, לא might be equivalent to the optative לו, which is questionable, still אחד לא here, as an echo of אין גם־אחד, Psalm 14:3, is Job's own answer to his wish, that cannot be fulfilled: not one, i.e., is in existence. Like the friends, he acknowledges an hereditary proneness to sin; but this proneness to sin affords him no satisfactory explanation of so unmerciful a visitation of punishment as his seems to him to be. It appears to him that man must the rather be an object of divine forbearance and compassion, since absolute purity is impossible to him. If, as is really the case, man's days are חרוּצים, cut off, i.e., ἀποτόμως, determined (distinct from חרוצים with an unchangeable Kametz: sharp, i.e., quick, eager, diligent), - if the number of his months is with God, i.e., known by God, because fixed beforehand by Him, - if He has set fixed bounds (Keri חקּיו) for him, and he cannot go beyond them, may God then look away from him, i.e., turn from him His strict watch (מן שׁעה, as Job 7:19; מן שׁית, Job 10:20), that he may have rest (יחדּל, cesset), so that he may at least as a hireling enjoy his day. Thus ירצה is interpreted by all modern expositors, and most of them consider the object or reason of his rejoicing to be the rest of evening when his work is done, and thereby miss the meaning.

Hahn appropriately says, "He desires that God would grant man the comparative rest of the hireling, who must toil in sorrow and eat his bread in the sweat of his brow, but still is free from any special suffering, by not laying extraordinary affliction on him in addition to the common infirmities beneath which he sighs. Since the context treats of freedom from special suffering in life, not of the hope of being set free from it, comp. Job 13:25-27; Job 14:3, the explanation of Umbreit, Ew., Hirz., and others, is to be entirely rejected, viz., that God would at least permit man the rest of a hireling, who, though he be vexed with heavy toil, cheerfully reconciles himself to it in prospect of the reward he hopes to obtain at evening time. Job does not claim for man the toil which the hireling gladly undergoes in expectation of complete rest, but the toil of the hireling, which seems to him to be rest in comparison with the possibility of having still greater toil to undergo." Such is the true connection.

(Note: In honour of our departed friend, whose Commentary on Job abounds in observations manifesting a delicate appreciation of the writer's purpose and thought, we have quoted his own words.)

Man's life - this life which is as a hand-breadth (Psalm 39:6), and in Job 7:1. is compared to a hireling's day, which is sorrowful enough - is not to be overburdened with still more and extraordinary suffering.

It must be asked, however, whether ריה seq. acc. here signifies εὐδοκεῖν (τὸν βίον, lxx), or not rather persolvere; for it is undeniable that it has this meaning in Leviticus 26:34 (vid., however Keil [Pent., en loc.]) and elsewhere (prop. to satisfy, remove, discharge what is due). The Hiphil is used in this sense in post-biblical Hebrew, and most Jewish expositors explain ירצה by ישלים. If it signifies to enjoy, עד ought to be interpreted: that (he at least may, like as a hireling, enjoy his day). But this signification of עד (ut in the final sense) is strange, and the signification dum (Job 1:18; Job 8:21) or adeo ut (Isaiah 47:7) is not, however, suitable, if ירצה is to be explained in the sense of persolvere, and therefore translate donec persolvat (persolverit). We have translated "until he accomplish," and wish "accomplish" to be understood in the sense of "making complete," as Colossians 1:24, Luther ("vollzhlig machen") equals ἀνταναπληροῦν.

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