He comes forth like a flower, and is cut down: he flees also as a shadow, and continues not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Job 14:2. He cometh forth like a flower — Tender and delicate, fair and beautiful, his faculties and members opening and expanding themselves by degrees; and is cut down — By the scythe of some spreading malady; or cropped by the rude hand of some ruthless distemper; or nipped and withered by the frost of some wasting weakness and decay. He fleeth also as a shadow — Which, being caused by the sun, follows its motions, and is in perpetual variation, until, at last, it quite vanishes and disappears. “The flower,” says Henry, “is fading, and all its beauty soon withers and is gone. The shadow is fleeting, and its very being will soon be lost in the shadows of night. Of neither do we make any account, in neither do we put any confidence.”Isaiah 40:6; Psalm 37:2; Psalm 90:6; Psalm 103:15. Next to the Bible, it is probable that Shakespeare has employed the image with the most exquisite beauty of any poet:
This is the state of man; today he puts forth
The tender leaves of hope, tomorrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honors thick upon him;
The third day comes a frost a killing frost,
And - when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a ripening - nips his root,
And then he falls.
Henry viii. Act iii. Sc. 2.
He fleeth also as a shadow - Another exquisite figure, and as true as it is beautiful. So the Psalmist:He cometh forth out of his mother’s womb, Job 1:21.
Like a flower; which quickly groweth up and maketh a fair show, but soon withereth, or is cut down.
As a shadow; which being made by the sun, follows its motions, and is in perpetual variation, until at last it quite vanish and disappear. Psalm 103:15;
he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not; either as the shadow of the evening, which is lost when night comes on; or the shadow on a dial plate, which is continually moving on; or, as the Jewish Rabbins say, as the shadow of a bird flying, which stays not, whereas the shadow of a wall, or of a tree, continues: a shadow is an empty thing, without substance, dark and obscure, variable and uncertain, declining, fleeting, and passing away; and so fitly resembles the life of a man, which is but a vapour, a bubble, yea, as nothing with God; is full of darkness, of ignorance, and of adversity, very fickle, changeable, and inconstant, and at most but of a short continuance.He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2. and is cut down] Rather, and withereth, cf. similar figures Isaiah 40:6 seq.; Psalm 37:2; Psalm 90:6; Psalm 103:15 seq.Verse 2. - He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down. Few similes are more frequently used in Scripture (comp. Psalm 103:15; Isaiah 28:1, 4; Isaiah 40:6, 7; James 1:10, 11; 1 Peter 1:24), and certainly none could have more poetic beauty. Eastern flowers do not often last much more than a day. He fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not (comp. Job 7:2; Job 8:9; 1 Chronicles 29:15; Psalm 102:11; Psalm 109:23; Ecclesiastes 6:12, etc.). Shadows are always changing; but the shadows which flee away the fastest, and which Job has probably in his mind, are those of clouds, or other moving objects, which seem to chase each other over the earth, and never to continue for a single minute in one stay.
Make me to know my transgression and sin! - -
24 Wherefore dost Thou hide Thy face,
And regard me as Thine enemy?
25 Wilt Thou frighten away a leaf driven to and fro,
And pursue the dry stubble?
When עון and חטּאת, פּשׁע and חטּאת, are used in close connection, the latter, which describes sin as failing and error, signifies sins of weakness (infirmities, Schwachheitssnde); whereas עון (prop. distorting or bending) signifies misdeed, and פשׁע (prop. breaking loose, or away from, Arab. fsq) wickedness which designedly estranges itself from God and removes from favour, both therefore malignant sin (Bosheitssnde).
(Note: Comp. the development of the idea of the synonyms for sin in von Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, i. 483ff., at the commencement of the fourth Lehrstck.)
The bold self-confidence which is expressed in the question and challenge of Job 13:23 is, in Job 13:24, changed to grievous astonishment that God does not appear to him, and on the contrary continues to pursue him as an enemy without investigating his cause. Has the Almighty then pleasure in scaring away a leaf that is already blown to and fro? העלה, with He interrog., like החכם, Job 15:2, according to Ges. 100, 4. ערץ used as transitive here, like Psalm 10:18, to terrify, scare away affrighted. Does it give Him satisfaction to pursue dried-up stubble? By את (before an indeterminate noun, according to Ges. 117, 2) he points δεικτικῶς to himself: he, the powerless one, completely deprived of strength by sickness and pain, is as dried-up stubble; nevertheless God is after him, as though He would get rid of every trace of a dangerous enemy by summoning His utmost strength against him.
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