Job 15:23
He wanders abroad for bread, saying, Where is it? he knows that the day of darkness is ready at his hand.
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(23) He wandereth abroad for bread.—This is one of the points in which the picture seems inconsistent, because overdrawn, except that forage as well as plunder may be the object of marauding raids.

Job 15:23. He wandereth abroad for bread — His poverty is so great, that he is forced to wander hither and thither to seek for bread, and cannot find it, a just punishment for him that took away the bread and substance of others by violence. He knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand — He is assured, from his own guilty conscience, that the time of his total, and irrecoverable, and everlasting destruction is ready to seize upon him, and arrest him, as an officer of justice arrests a criminal; that it is appointed to him and cannot be put by, that it is hastening on and cannot be put off. The Hebrew נכון בידו, nachon bejado, may be properly rendered, Is prepared by his own hand, that is, by his works or actions. So the sense is, He is conscious to himself that, by his wicked life, he hath prepared and treasured up calamities and destruction for himself. This day of darkness is something beyond death; it is that day of the Lord which, to all the wicked, will be darkness and not light, and in which they will be doomed to utter, endless darkness.15:17-35 Eliphaz maintains that the wicked are certainly miserable: whence he would infer, that the miserable are certainly wicked, and therefore Job was so. But because many of God's people have prospered in this world, it does not therefore follow that those who are crossed and made poor, as Job, are not God's people. Eliphaz shows also that wicked people, particularly oppressors, are subject to continual terror, live very uncomfortably, and perish very miserably. Will the prosperity of presumptuous sinners end miserably as here described? Then let the mischiefs which befal others, be our warnings. Though no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby. No calamity, no trouble, however heavy, however severe, can rob a follower of the Lord of his favour. What shall separate him from the love of Christ?He wandereth abroad for bread - The Septuagint renders this, "he is destined to be food for vultures" - κατατέτακται δὲ εἰς σῖτα γυψίν katatetaktai de eis sitos gupsin. The meaning of the Hebrew is, simply, that he will be reduced to poverty, and will not know where to obtain a supply for his returning needs.

He knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand - He is assured that the period of calamity is not far remote. It must come. He has no security that it will not come immediately. The whole design of this is to show that there is no calmness and security for a wicked man; that in the midst of apparent prosperity his soul is in constant dread.

23. Wandereth in anxious search for bread. Famine in Old Testament depicts sore need (Isa 5:13). Contrast the pious man's lot (Job 5:20-22).

knoweth—has the firm conviction. Contrast the same word applied to the pious (Job 5:24, 25).

ready at his hand—an Arabic phrase to denote a thing's complete readiness and full presence, as if in the hand.

His poverty is so great, that he is forced to wander hither and thither to seek for bread, and cannot find it. A just punishment for him that took away the bread and substance of others by violence.

He knoweth; he is assured of it from his own guilty conscience.

The day of darkness, i.e. the time of his total, and irrecoverable, and everlasting destruction.

Is ready at his hand, i.e. ready to seize upon him, or take him by the hand or shoulder like a serjeant to arrest him. The words may well he rendered, was prepared by his hand, i.e. by his works or actions; which being most commonly done with the hand, are oft called by that name, as Exodus 14:31 Judges 9:16 Proverbs 10:4 12:24. So the sense is, He is conscious to himself that by his wicked life he hath prepared and stored up calamities and destruction for himself, and therefore he expected nothing less. He wandereth abroad for bread,.... Either as a plunderer and robber, he roves about to increase his worldly power and substance; or rather, being reduced to poverty, wanders about from place to place, from door to door, to beg his bread; which is a curse imprecated on the posterity of wicked men, Psalm 109:10;

saying, where is it? where is bread to be had? where shall I go for it? where lives a liberal man that will give it freely and generously? by this question it seems as if it was difficult for such a man to get his bread by begging; he having been cruel and oppressive to others, unkind and ungenerous in his time of prosperity, now finds but few that care to relieve him; and indeed a man that has not shown mercy to the indigent, when in his power to have relieved them, cannot expect mercy will be shown to him; this he does, wanders about, seeking food, "wheresoever he is" (w):

he knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand; either that a day of affliction and adversity is coming upon him, perceiving his affairs to grow worse and worse, or to be immediately and already on him, which obliges him to wander about for bread; or that the day of death is at hand, which he is made sensible of by one symptom or another; or rather it may be the day of everlasting darkness in hell, the wrath of God to the uttermost he has deserved; he finds the day of judgment is at hand, and the Judge at the door, and in a short time he must receive the reward of eternal vengeance for the wicked deeds he has done; for so the words may be rendered, "that the day of darkness is prepared by his hand" (x); by the evil works his hand has wrought, and so has treasured up to himself wrath against the day of wrath, and righteous judgment of God.

(w) So Noldius in Ebr. Concord. Part. p. 87. (x) "suis factis", Tigurine version; "per manum suam", Schmidt.

He wandereth {o} abroad for bread, saying, Where is it? he knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand.

(o) God not only impoverishes the wicked often, but even in their prosperity he punishes them with a greediness to gain even more: which is as a beggary.

23. He anticipates the time when he shall be a hungry wanderer, roving in search of bread and crying, Where is it? The picture of the rich oppressor tormented by visions of famine is very graphic.

ready at hand] Or, at his side; the dark day of calamity stands constantly beside him ready to envelop him in its shadows. Such is his own foreboding (“he knows”).Verse 23. - He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, Where is it? This, again, might appropriately have been said of Cain, who was "a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth" (Genesis 4:14), and may at times have had difficulty in procuring his daily bread. At any rate, it is the frequent experience of the wicked who lose their ill-gotten gains, and are brought down to abject poverty, and actual want of the necessaries of life. "He wanders abroad to be the food of vultures" is a translation of the passage suggested by some moderns (as Merx), and has the support of the Septuagint, κατατέτακται εῖς σῖτα ψυψίν. But it requires a slight change in the pointing. He knoweth that the day of darkness is nigh at hand. "The day of darkness" is probably the day of his decease: this he "knows," or at any rate, surmises, to be near. 17 I will inform thee, hear me!

And what I have myself seen that I will declare,

18 Things which wise men declare

Without concealment from their fathers -

19 To them alone was the land given over,

And no stranger had passed in their midst - :

Eliphaz, as in his first speech, introduces the dogma with which he confronts Job with a solemn preface: in the former case it had its rise in a revelation, here it is supported by his own experience and reliable tradition; for חזיתי is not intended as meaning ecstatic vision (Schlottm.). The poet uses חזה also of sensuous vision, Job 8:17; and of observation and knowledge by means of the senses, not only the more exalted, as Job 19:26., but of any kind (Job 23:9; Job 24:1; Job 27:12, comp. Job 36:25; Job 34:32), in the widest sense. זה is used as neuter, Genesis 6:15; Exodus 13:8; Exodus 30:13; Leviticus 11:4, and freq.

(Note: So also Psalm 56:10, where I now prefer to translate "This I know," זה neuter, like Proverbs 24:12, and referring forward as above, Job 15:17.)

(comp. the neuter הוּא, Job 13:16, and often), and זה־חזיתי is a relative clause (Ges. 122, 2): quod conspexi, as Job 19:19 quos amo, and Psalm 74:2 in quo habitas, comp. Psalm 104:8, Psalm 104:26; Proverbs 23:22, where the punctuation throughout proceeds from the correct knowledge of the syntax. The waw of ואספרה is the waw apodosis, which is customary (Ngelsbach, 111, 1, b) after relative clauses (e.g., Numbers 23:3), or what is the same thing, participles (e.g., Proverbs 23:24): et narrabo equals ea narrabo. In Job 15:18 ולא כחדו is, logically at least, subordinate to יגידו, as in Isaiah 3:9,

(Note: Heidenheim refers to Hosea 8:2 for the position of the words, but there Israel may also be an apposition: we know thee, we Israel.)

as the Targum of the Antwerp Polyglott well translates: "what wise men declare, without concealing (ולא מכדבין), from the tradition of their fathers;" whereas all the other old translations, including Luther's, have missed the right meaning. These fathers to whom this doctrine respecting the fate of evil-doers is referred, lived, as Eliphaz says in Job 15:19, in the land of their birth, and did not mingle themselves with strangers, consequently their manner of viewing things, and their opinions, have in their favour the advantage of independence, of being derived from their own experience, and also of a healthy development undisturbed by any foreign influences, and their teaching may be accounted pure and unalloyed.

Eliphaz thus indirectly says, that the present is not free from such influences, and Ewald is consequently of opinion that the individuality of the Israelitish poet peeps out here, and a state of things is indicated like that which came about after the fall of Samaria in the reign of Manasseh. Hirzel also infers from Eliphaz' words, that at the time when the book was written the poet's fatherland was desecrated by some foreign rule, and considers it an indication for determining the time at which the book was composed. But how groundless and deceptive this is! The way in which Eliphaz commends ancient traditional lore is so genuinely Arabian, that there is but the faintest semblance of a reason for supposing the poet to have thrown his own history and national peculiarity so vividly into the working up of the rôle of another. Purity of race was, from the earliest times, considered by "the sons of the East" as a sign of highest nobility, and hence Eliphaz traces back his teaching to a time when his race could boast of the greatest freedom from intermixture with any other. Schlottmann prefers to interpret Job 15:19 as referring to the "nobler primeval races of man" (without, however, referring to Job 8:8), but הארץ does not signify the earth here, but: country, as in Job 30:8; Job 22:8, and elsewhere, and Job 15:19 seems to refer to nations: זר equals barbarus (perhaps Semitic: בּרבּר, ὁ ἔξω). Nevertheless it is unnecessary to suppose that Eliphaz' time was one of foreign domination, as the Assyrian-Chaldean time was for Israel: it is sufficient to imagine it as a time when the tribes of the desert were becoming intermixed, from migration, commerce, and feud.

Now follows the doctrine of the wise men, which springs from a venerable primitive age, an age as yet undisturbed by any strange way of thinking (modern enlightenment and free thinking, as we should say), and is supported by Eliphaz' own experience.

(Note: Communication from Consul Wetzstein: If this verse affirms that the freer a people is from intermixture with other races, the purer is its tradition, it gives expression to a principle derived from experience, which needs no proof. Even European races, especially the Scandinavians, furnish proof of this in their customs, language, and traditions, although in this case certain elements of their indigenous character have vanished with the introduction of Christianity. A more complete parallel is furnished by the wandering tribes of the 'Aneze and Sharrt of the Syrian deserts, people who have indeed had their struggles, and have even been weakened by emigration, but have certainly never lost their political and religious autonomy, and have preserved valuable traditions which may be traced to the earliest antiquity. It is unnecessary to prove this by special instance, when the whole outer and inner life of these peoples can be regarded as the best commentary on the biblical accounts of the patriarchal age. It is, however, not so much the fact that the evil-doer receives his punishment, in favour of which Eliphaz appeals to the teaching handed down from the fathers, as rather the belief in it, consequently in a certain degree the dogma of a moral order in the world. This dogma is an essential element of the ancient Abrahamic religion of the desert tribes - that primitive religion which formed the basis of the Mosaic, and side by side with it was continued among the nomads of the desert; which, shortly before the appearance of Christianity in the country east of Jordan, gave birth to mild doctrines, doctrines which tended to prepare the way for the teaching of the gospel; which at that very time, according to historical testimony, also prevailed in the towns of the Higz, and was first displaced again by the Jemanic idolatry, and limited to the desert, in the second century after Christ, during the repeated migrations of the southern Arabs; which gave the most powerful impulse to the rise of Islam, and furnished its best elements; which, towards the end of the last century, brought about the reform of Islamism in the province of Negd, and produced the Wahabee doctrine; and which, finally, is continued even to the present day by the name of Dn Ibrhm, "Religion of Abraham," as a faithful tradition of the fathers, among the vast Ishmaelitish tribes of the Syrian desert, "to whom alone the land is given over, and into whose midst no stranger has penetrated." Had this cultus spread among settled races with a higher education, it might have been taught also in writings: if, however, portions of writings in reference to it, which have been handed down to us by the Arabic, are to be regarded as unauthentic, it may also in 'Irk have been mixed with the Sabian worship of the stars; but among the nomads it will have always been only oral, taught by the poets in song, and contained in the fine traditions handed down uncorrupted from father to son, and practised in life.


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