So man lies down, and rises not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Job 14:12. So man lieth down — In his bed the grave, sleeping the sleep of death. And riseth not till the heavens be no more — That is, until the time of the general resurrection and restitution of all things, when these visible heavens shall pass away, and be no more, at least in the same form in which they are now. This whole paragraph is interpreted in a somewhat different way by a late writer. “After a tree is cut down, we see, nevertheless, the old stock flourish again, and send forth new branches; and shall man then, when he once expires, he extinct for ever? Is there no hope that he shall revive, and be raised again hereafter? Yes, there is, according to the doctrine delivered to us by our ancestors: but then they inform us, at the same time, that this resurrection shall not be but with the dissolution and renovation of the world, Job 14:11-12. The waters go off from the sea, and the flood (the river) will decay and dry up. And man lieth down and riseth not till the heavens be no more; (till then) they shall not awake nor be raised out of their sleep.” The meaning seems to be, that as we see every thing in flux, and subject to change, so the whole shall one day be changed. The sea itself will at length be quite absorbed; and the running rivers, which now flow perpetually, as if supplied by everlasting springs, will nevertheless, in time, quite cease and disappear. This visible frame of things shall be dissolved, and the present heavens themselves shall be no more: and then, and not before, comes the resurrection and general judgment.
Till the heavens be no more - That is, never; for such is the fair interpretation of the passage, and this accords with its design. Job means to say, undoubtedly, that man would never appear again in the land of the living; that he would not spring up from the grave, as a sprout does from a fallen tree; and that when he dies, he goes away from the earth never to return. Whether he believed in a future state, or in the future resurrection, is another question, and one that cannot be determined from this passage. His complaint is, that the present life is short, and that man when he has once passed through it cannot return to enjoy it again, if it has been unhappy; and he asks, therefore, why, since it was so short, man might not be permitted to enjoy it without molestation. It does not follow from this passage that he believed that the heavens ever would be no more, or would pass away.
The heavens are the most permanent and enduring objects of which we have any knowledge, and are, therefore, used to denote permanency and eternity; see Psalm 89:36-37. This verse, therefore, is simply a solemn declaration of the belief of Job that when man dies, he dies to live no more on the earth. Of the truth of this, no one can doubt - and the truth is as important and affecting as it is undoubted. If man could come back again, life would be a different thing. If he could revisit the earth to repair the evils of a wicked life, to repent of his errors, to make amends for his faults, and to make preparation for a future world, it would be a different thing to live, and a different thing to die. But when he travels over the road of life, he treads a path which is not to be traversed again. When he neglects an opportunity to do good, it cannot be recalled. When he commits an offence, he cannot come back to repair the evil. He falls, and dies, and lives no more. He enters on other scenes, and is amidst the retributions of another state. How important then to secure the passing moment, and to be prepared to go hence, to return no more! The idea here presented is one that is common with the poets. Thus, Horace says:
Nobis, cum semel occidit brevis lux,Man lieth down, to wit, in his bed, the grave, or to sleep the sleep of death, as this phrase is used, Genesis 46:30 Deu 31:6 2 Samuel 7:12 1 Kings 1:21.
Riseth not, to wit, to tills life; for he speaks not here of the life to come, nor of the resurrection of the belly after death by the Divine power; of his belief whereof he giveth sufficient evidences in divers places.
Till the heavens be no more, i.e. either,
1. Never; because the heavens, though they shall be changed in their qualities, yet shall never cease to be, as to the substance of them. And therefore everlasting and unchangeable things are expressed by the duration of the heavens; of which see Psalm 72:5,7,17 89:29,36,37 Mt 5:18 24:35. Or,
2. Not until the time of the general resurrection, and the restitution of things, when these visible heavens shall pass away, and be no more, at least in the same form and manner as now they are; of which see Psalm 102:26 Luke 21:33 2 Peter 3:7,10 Re 21:1.
and riseth not; from off his bed, or comes not out of his grave into this world, to the place where he was, and to be engaged in the affairs of life he was before, and never by his own power; and whenever he will rise, it will be by the power of God, and this not till the last day, when Christ shall appear in person to judge the world; and then the dead in Christ will rise first, at the beginning of the thousand years, and the wicked at the end of them:
till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep; for so the words are to be read, not in connection with those that go before, but with the last clauses; though the sense is much the same either way, which is, that those who are fallen asleep by death, and lie sleeping in their graves, and on their beds, these shall neither awake of themselves, nor be awaked by others, "till the heavens be no more"; that is, never, so as to awake and arise of themselves, and to this natural life, and to be concerned in the business of it; which sometimes seems to be the sense of this phrase, see Psalm 89:29, Matthew 5:18; or, as some render it, "till the heavens are wore out", or "waxen old" (c); as they will like a garment, and be folded up, and laid aside, as to their present use, Psalm 102:26; or till they shall vanish away, and be no more, as to their present form, quality, and use, though they may exist as to substance; and when this will be the case, as it will be when the Judge shall appear, when Christ shall come a second time to judge the world; then the earth and heaven will flee away from his face, the earth and its works shall be burnt up, and the heavens shall pass away with great noise; and then, and not till then, will the dead, or those that are asleep in their graves, be awaked by the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, and they shall be raised from their sleepy beds, awake and arise, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)12. till the heavens be no more] i. e. never; cf. Psalm 72:7, Till there be no moon. The heavens are eternal, cf. Jeremiah 31:35-36; Psalm 89:29; Psalm 89:36-37.Verse 12. - So man lieth down, and riseth not. This is not an absolute denial of a final resurrection, since Job is speaking of the world as it lies before him, not of eventualities. Just as he sees the land encroach upon the sea, and remain land, and the river-courses, once dried up, remain dry, so he sees men descend into the grave and remain there, without rising up again. This is the established order of nature as it exists before his eyes. Till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake. This order of things, Job believes, rightly enough, will continue as long as the heavens and the earth endure. What will happen afterwards he does not so much as inquire. It is remarked, ingeniously, that Job's words, though not intended in this sense, exactly "coincide with the declarations of the New Testament, which make the resurrection simultaneous with the breaking up of the visible universe" (Canon Cook). Nor be raised out of their sleep. If "the glimmer of a hope" of the resurrection appears anywhere in vers. 10-12, it is in the comparison of death to a sleep, which is inseparably connected in our minds with an awakening.
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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