Job 15:34
For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery.
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(34) Desolate.—This was Job’s own word (Job 3:7), and as it is an uncommon word, there may be some intentional reference to his use of it.

Job 15:34-35. For the congregation of hypocrites — Their children, servants, friends, and dependants; shall be desolate — That is, utterly destroyed; and fire — Some eminent and terrible judgment of God, often expressed by fire: see Isaiah 9:19; Isaiah 26:11; shall consume the tabernacles of bribery — Which were either built or maintained by extortion and bribery, or such unrighteous practises, of which they thought Job guilty, Job 22:8. They conceive mischief — They devise and contrive pernicious enterprises against others; and bring forth vanity — They execute what they had contrived. They produce iniquity, injury, or trouble, either to others, or rather to themselves: for the mischief they designed for others falls upon their own heads, and they reap what they sowed. And their belly — That is, their inward parts, their hearts and minds; prepareth deceit — For others, whom they design to cheat; and especially for themselves, who, while they seek to deceive others, shall find that they themselves are most deceived, as being deprived of all their desires and hopes wherewith they fed themselves, and cast into all those calamities which they thought to prevent by these artifices. This whole description is evidently pointed at the situation of Job. His prosperity was become vanity; his children were all cut off before their time; his family become solitary; and his hopes, to all appearance, an illusion. All the fine prospect with which the wicked man entertained himself, and for which he endured all the anguish here described, produced only a deceit. He hath imposed on himself.

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?For the congregation of hypocrites - The word rendered "congregation" here (עדה ‛êdâh) means properly an appointed meeting; a meeting convened by appointment or at stated times (from ידה yâdâh), and hence, an assembly of any kind. It is commonly applied to an assembly for public worship; but it may refer to a more private company - a family, or circle of friends, dependents, etc. It refers here, I suppose, to such a community that a man can get around him in his own dwelling - his family, servants, dependents, etc. The word rendered "hypocrites" (חנף chânêph) is in the singular number, and should be so rendered here. It does not mean that a worshipping assembly composed of hypocrites would be desolate - which may be true - but that the community which a man who is a hypocrite can gather around him shall be swept away. His children, his dependents, and his retinue of servants, shall be taken away from him, and he shall be left to solitude. Probably there was an allusion here to Job, who had been stripped in this manner; or at any rate the remark was one, if it were a quotation from the ancient sayings of the Arabians, which Job could not but regard as applied to himself.

And fire shall consume - This has all the appearance of being a proverb. The meaning is, that they who received a bribe would be certainly punished.

The tabernacles of bribery - The tents or dwellings of those who receive bribes, and who therefore are easily corrupted, and have no solid principles. There is probably an allusion here to Job; and no doubt Eliphaz meant to apply this severe remark to him. Job was a Sheik, an Emir, a head of a tribe, and, therefore, a magistrate; see Job 29:7, seq. Yet a part of his possessions and servants had been cut off by fire from heaven Job 1:16; and Eliphaz means probably to imply that it had been because he had been guilty of receiving a bribe. This ancient proverb declared that the dwellings of the man who could be bribed would be consumed by fire; and now he presumes that the fact that Job had been visited by the fire of heaven was full proof that he had been guilty in this manner. It was about on principles such as these that the reasoning of the friends of Job was conducted.

34. Rather, The binding together of the hypocrites (wicked) shall be fruitless [Umbreit].

tabernacles of bribery—namely, dwellings of unjust judges, often reprobated in the Old Testament (Isa 1:23). The "fire of God" that consumed Job's possessions (Job 1:16) Eliphaz insinuates may have been on account of Job's bribery as an Arab sheik or emir.

The congregation, i.e. their children, and servants, and friends, and dependents.

Desolate, i.e. utterly destroyed. Fire, i.e. some eminent and terrible judgment of God, which is oft expressed by fire; as Isaiah 9:19 26:11.

The tabernacles of bribery, i.e. which were either built or maintained by extortion and bribery, and suchlike unrighteous courses, whereof they thought Job guilty, Job 22:8.

For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate,.... Hypocrites are such who seem to and would be thought to be, what they are not; they are outwardly righteous before men, but inwardly very wicked; have a form of godliness, but are destitute the power of it, 2 Timothy 3:5; pretend to much religion, and to be worshippers of God, when it is only in outward appearances, and not in reality and sincerity: and such as these have been in the congregations of the righteous, in all ages; but here Eliphaz speaks of a congregation of them, a society, a family of them; and very probably has his eye upon Job's, and would represent hereby that he, the head of his family, and his children, when living, and his servants and associates, were all hypocrites, and now become desolate, reduced to want and poverty, and in distressed circumstances: or were "solitary" (i) and alone, as the word is rendered in Job 3:7; destitute of friends, and of the comforts of life; and perhaps reference may be had to the future state of such, when they shall aloud be bid to depart from God, have no society with angels and saints, but shall have their portion with those of the same character with them, hypocrites, in the highest degree of torment and misery, Matthew 24:51;

and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery; either such tents, or houses, as were built with money taken as bribes; see Habakkuk 2:12; or where such who received bribes dwelt; unjust judges, who took a gift that blinds the eyes, to pervert justice. Job is afterwards by Eliphaz represented as if he was an oppressor, a wicked magistrate, and guilty of such like crimes as here pointed at, Job 22:6; and the "fire" said to consume the dwelling places of such may be understood either of material fire, such as came down from heaven, and destroyed Job's sheep, Job 1:16; or figuratively, the wrath of God often compared to fire, which would appear in one way or another, to the utter ruin of such persons, their habitations, and those that dwelt in them.

"solitarium", Montanus; and to the same sense Vatablus, Beza, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius, Cocceius.

For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of {x} bribery.

(x) Who were built or maintained by bribery.

34. The same truth as that expressed in Job 15:31-32 now taught without figure, and reduced to a general principle.

congregation of hypocrites] Or, company of the ungodly, ch. Job 8:13; Job 13:16. “Desolate” is barren (ch. Job 3:7), unfruitful. The households of the godless are unfruitful, under God’s curse they come to nought; but it is puerile to make the grapes and flowers of Job 15:33 figures for children.

tabernacles of bribery] Bribery, a common method of perverting justice in the East, is here a general name for wrong and injustice.

Verse 34. - For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate; or, shall be sterile or barren like the vine and olive of the preceding verse. The entire company of the wicked shall suffer this punishment. And fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery. God's lightning shall fall from heaven, and burn up the tents (i.e. the habitations) of those who take bribes to pervert justice. It is suggested that Eliphaz intends to accuse Job of the two secret sins of hypocrisy and corruption. Job 15:3431 Let him not trust in evil-he is deceived,

For evil shall be his possession.

32 His day is not yet, then it is accomplished,

And his palm-branch loseth its freshness.

33 He teareth off as a vine his young grapes,

And He casteth down as an olive-tree his flower.

34 The company of the hypocrite is rigid,

And fire consumeth the tents of bribery.

35 They conceive sorrow and bring forth iniquity,

And their inward part worketh self-deceit.

אל does not merely introduce a declaration respecting the future (Luther: he will not continue, which moreover must have been expressed by the Niph.), but is admonitory: may he only not trust in vanity (Munach here instead of Dech, according to the rule of transformation, Psalter, ii. 504, 4) - he falls, so far as he does it, into error, or brings himself into error (נתעה, 3 praet., not part., and Niph. like Isaiah 19:14, where it signifies to be thrust backwards and forwards, or to reel about helplessly), - a thought one might expect after the admonition (Olsh. conjectures נתעב, one who is detestable): this trusting in evil is self-delusion, for evil becomes his exchange (תּמוּרה not compensatio, but permutatio, acquisitio). We have translated שׁוא by "evil" (Unheil), by which we have sought elsewhere to render און, in order that we might preserve the same word in both members of the verse. In Job 15:31, שׁוא (in form equals שׁוא from שׁוא, in the Chethib שוּ, the Aleph being cast away, like the Arabic sû', wickedness, form the v. cavum hamzatum s-'a equals sawu'a) is waste and empty in mind, in Job 15:31 (comp. Hosea 12:12) waste and empty in fortune; or, to go further from the primary root, in the former case apparent goodness, in the latter apparent prosperity - delusion, and being undeceived "evil" in the sense of wickedness, and of calamity. תּמּלא, which follows, refers to the exchange, or neutrally to the evil that is exchanged: the one or the other fulfils itself, i.e., either: is realized (passive of מלּא, 1 Kings 8:15), or: becomes complete, which means the measure of the punishment of his immorality becomes full, before his natural day, i.e., the day of death, is come (comp. for expression, Job 22:16; Ecclesiastes 7:17). The translation: then it is over with him (Ges., Schlottm., and others), is contrary to the usage of the language; and that given by the Jewish expositors, תּמּלא equals תּמּלל (abscinditur or conteritur), is a needlessly bold suggestion. - Job 15:32. It is to be observed that רעננה is Milel, and consequently 3 praet., not as in Sol 1:16 Milra, and consequently adj. כּפּה is not the branches generally (Luzzatto, with Raschi: branchage), but, as the proverbial expression for the high and low, Isaiah 9:13; Isaiah 19:15 (vid., Dietrich, Abhandlung zur hebr. Gramm. S. 209), shows, the palm-branch bent downwards (comp. Targ. Esther 1:5, where כּפּין signifies seats and walks covered with foliage). "His palm-branch does not become green, or does not remain green" (which Symm. well renders: οὐκ εὐθαλήσει), means that as he himself, the palm-trunk, so also his family, withers away. In Job 15:33 it is represented as בּסר ( equals בּסר), wild grapes, or even unripe grapes of a vine, and as נצּה, flowers of an olive.

(Note: In order to appreciate the point of the comparison, it is needful to know that the Syrian olive-tree bears fruit plentifully the first, third, and fifth years, but rests during the second, fourth, and sixth. It blossoms in these years also, but the blossoms fall off almost entirely without any berries being formed. The harvest of the olive is therefore in such years very scanty. With respect to the vine, every year an enormous quantity of grapes are used up before they are ripe. When the berries are only about the size of a pea, the acid from them is used in housekeeping, to prepare almost every kind of food. The people are exceedingly fond of things sour, a taste which is caused by the heat of the climate. During the months of June, July, and August, above six hundred horses and asses laden with unripe grapes come daily to the market in Damascus alone, and during this season no one uses vinegar; hence the word בסרא signifies in Syriac the acid (vinegar) κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν. In Arabic the unripe grapes are exclusively called hhossrum (Arab. htsrm), or, with a dialectic distinction, hissrim. - Wetzst.)

In Job 15:32 the godless man himself might be the subject: he casts down, like an olive-tree, his flowers, but in Job 15:32 this is inadmissible; if we interpret: "he shakes off (Targ. יתּר, excutiet), like a vine-stock, his young grapes," this (apart from the far-fetched meaning in יחמס) is a figure that is untrue to nature, since the grapes sit firmer the more unripe they are; and if one takes the first meaning of חמס, "he acts unjustly, as a vine, to his omphax" (e.g., Hupf.), whether it means that he does not let it ripen, or that he does not share with it any of the sweet sap, one has not only an indistinct figure, but also (since what God ordains for the godless is described as in operation) an awkward comparison. The subject of both verbs is therefore other than the vine and olive themselves. But why only an impersonal "one"? In Job 15:30 רוח פיו was referred to God, who is not expressly mentioned. God is also the subject here, and יחמס, which signifies to act with violence to one's self, is modified here to the sense of tearing away, as Lamentations 2:6 (which Aben-Ezra has compared), of tearing out; כגפן, כזית, prop. as a vine-stock, as an olive-tree, is equivalent to even as such an one.

Job 15:34 declares the lot of the family of the ungodly, which has been thus figuratively described, without figure: the congregation (i.e., here: family-circle) of the ungodly (חנף according to its etymon inclinans, propensus ad malum, vid., on Job 13:16) is (as it is expressed from the standpoint of the judgment that is executed) גּלמוּד, a hard, lifeless, stony mass (in the substantival sense of the Arabic galmûd instead of the adject. גלמודה, Isaiah 49:21), i.e., stark dead (lxx θάνατος; Aq., Symm., Theod., ἄκαρπος), and fire has devoured the tents of bribery (after Ralbag: those built by bribery; or even after the lxx: οἴκους δωροδεκτῶν). The ejaculatory conclusion, Job 15:35, gives the briefest expression to that which has been already described. The figurative language, Job 15:35, is like Psalm 7:15; Isaiah 59:4 (comp. supra, p. 257); in the latter passage similar vividly descriptive infinitives are found (Ges. 131, 4, b). They hatch the burdens or sorrow of others, and what comes from it is evil for themselves. What therefore their בּטן, i.e., their inward part, with the intermingled feelings, thoughts, and strugglings (Olympiodorus: κοιλίαν ὅλον τὸ ἐντὸς χωρίον φησὶ καὶ αὐτὴν τῆν ψυχήν), prepares or accomplishes (יכין similar to Job 27:17; Job 38:41), that on which it works, is מרמה, deceit, with which they deceive others, and before all, themselves (New Test. ἀπάτη).


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