Job 18:20
They that come after him shall be astonished at his day, as they that went before were affrighted.
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(20) Shall be astonied at his day.—That is, his doom, or destiny. He shall stand forth as a warning and monument to all.

Job 18:20-21. They that come after him — And hear the report of it, shall be astonied at his day — The day of his destruction. They shall be amazed at the suddenness and dreadfulness of it. As they that went before were affrighted — As his elders (so Heath renders it) were seized with horror; namely, those who lived in the time and place where this judgment was inflicted. Hebrew, אחזו שׂער, achazu sagnar, apprehenderunt horrorem, they took hold on horror, a beautiful metonymy, as if they took hold on their hair, which, by reason of the terror they were in, stood upright. Or, They were filled with horror, partly through humanity and compassion, and partly for fear lest the judgment should overtake them also. “The plain meaning of the verse seems to be, His elders, who saw so signal an instance of divine vengeance, were seized with horror; and whoever, in after times, should hear his story related, would be in amazement at it.” — Heath. Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked — This is a just description of their miserable condition at last, and thus shall those who dishonour God be abased. Such, according to Eliphaz, was the unanimous sense of the patriarchal age, grounded on their knowledge of God and the many observations which they had made on the dispensations of his providence. And this is the place of him that knoweth not God — Who is not truly acquainted with him, and reconciled to him; who does not know him experimentally and practically, so as truly to fear, love, and serve him, or who, professing to know him, by works denies him. Here then we see what is the beginning and what is the end of the wickedness of mankind. The beginning of it is ignorance of God, which ignorance is wilful, for God has made to all men those discoveries of himself which are sufficient to render those of them for ever inexcusable who live and die ignorant of him and disobedient to him. The end of it is utter destruction. Such, so miserable, are the dwellings of the wicked. Vengeance will be taken on them that know not God, and obey not his revealed will, 2 Thessalonians 1:8. Let us therefore stand in awe, and not sin, for it will certainly be bitterness in the latter end: nay, let us acquaint ourselves with him and be at peace; for thereby good will come unto us, in time and in eternity. 18:11-21 Bildad describes the destruction wicked people are kept for, in the other world, and which in some degree, often seizes them in this world. The way of sin is the way of fear, and leads to everlasting confusion, of which the present terrors of an impure conscience are earnests, as in Cain and Judas. Miserable indeed is a wicked man's death, how secure soever his life was. See him dying; all that he trusts to for his support shall be taken from him. How happy are the saints, and how indebted to the lord Jesus, by whom death is so far done away and changed, that this king of terrors is become a friend and a servant! See the wicked man's family sunk and cut off. His children shall perish, either with him or after him. Those who consult the true honour of their family, and its welfare, will be afraid of withering all by sin. The judgments of God follow the wicked man after death in this world, as a proof of the misery his soul is in after death, and as an earnest of that everlasting shame and contempt to which he shall rise in the great day. The memory of the just is blessed, but the name of the wicked shall rot, Pr 10:7. It would be well if this report of wicked men would cause any to flee from the wrath to come, from which their power, policy, and riches cannot deliver them. But Jesus ever liveth to deliver all who trust in him. Bear up then, suffering believers. Ye shall for a little time have sorrow, but your Beloved, your Saviour, will see you again; your hearts shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh away.They that come after him - Future ages; they who may hear of his history and of the manner in which he was cut off from life. So the passage has been generally rendered; so, substantially, it is by Dr. Good, Dr. Noyes, Rosenmuller, and Luther. The Vulgate translates it novissimi; the Septuagint, ἔσχατοι eschatoi - "the last" - meaning those that should live after him, or at a later period. But Schultens supposes that the word used here denotes those in "the West," and the corresponding word rendered "went before," denotes those in "the East." With this view Wemyss concurs, who renders the whole verse:

"The West shall be astonished at his end;

The East shall be panic-struck."

According to this, it means that those who dwelt in the remotest regions would be astonished at the calamities which would come upon him. It seems to me that this accords better with the scope of the passage than the other interpretation, and avoids some difficulties which cannot be separated from the other view. The word translated in our version, "that come after him" אחרינים 'achăryônı̂ym is from אחר 'âchar, to be after, or behind; to stay behind, to delay, remain. It then means "after," or "behind;" and as in the geography of the Orientals the face was supposed to be turned to "the East," instead of being turned to the North, as with us - a much more natural position than ours - the word "after," or "behind," comes to denote West, the right hand the South, the left the North; see the notes at Job 23:8-9.

Thus, the phrase האחרין הים hayâm hā'achăryôn - "the sea behind, denotes the Mediterranean sea - the West; Deuteronomy 24:3; see also Deuteronomy 11:24; Deuteronomy 34:2; Joel 2:20, where the same phrase in Hebrew occurs. Those who dwelt in the "West," therefore, would be accurately referred to by this phrase.

Shall be astonied - Shall be "astonished" - the old mode of writing the word being "astonied;" Isaiah 52:14. It is not known, however, to be used in any other book than the Bible.

As they that went before - Margin, or "lived with him." Noyes, "his elders shall be struck with horror." Vulgate, "et primos invadet "horror." Septuagint, "amazement seizes "the first" - πρώτους prōtous. But the more correct interpretation is that which refers it to the people of the East. The word קדמנים qadmônı̂ym is from קדם qâdam to precede, to go before; and then the derivatives refer to that which goes before, which is in front, etc.; and as face was turned to the East by geographers, the word comes to express that which is in the East, or near the sun-rising; see Joel 2:20; Job 23:8; Genesis 2:8. Hence, the phrase קדם בני benēy qedem - "sons of the East" - meaning the persons who dwelt east of Palestine; Job 1:3; Isaiah 11:14; Genesis 25:6; Genesis 29:1. The word used here, (קדמנים qadmônı̂ym), is used to denote the people or the regions of the East; in Ezekiel 47:8, Ezekiel 47:18; Zechariah 14:8. Here it means, as it seems to me, the people of the East; and the idea is that people everywhere would be astonished at the doom of the wicked man. His punishment would be so sudden and entire as to hold the world mute with amazement.

Were affrighted - Margin, "laid hold on horror." This is a more literal rendering. The sense is, they would be struck with horror at what would occur to him.

20. after … before—rather, "those in the West—those in the East"; that is, all people; literally, "those behind—those before"; for Orientals in geography turn with their faces to the east (not to the north as we), and back to the west; so that before—east; behind—north (so Zec 14:8).

day—of ruin (Ob 12).

affrighted—seized with terror (Job 21:6; Isa 13:8).

At his day, i.e. at the day of his destruction, as the word day is used, Psalm 37:13 137:7 Ezekiel 21:25 Obadiah 1:12. They shall be amazed at the suddenness, and dreadfulness, and prodigiousness of it, as Job’s friends were at his calamities, Job 2:12,13. They that went before, i.e. before the persons last mentioned; those who lived in the time and place where this judgment was inflicted.

Affrighted; or, filled with horror; partly through humanity and compassion, and partly for fear, lest the judgment should overtake them also. They that come after him shall be astonished at his day,.... At the day of his calamity and distress, ruin and destruction, see Psalm 37:13; it would be extremely amazing to them how it should be, that a man who was in such flourishing and prosperous circumstances, should be brought at once, he and his family, into such extreme poverty, and into such a distressed and forlorn condition; they should be, as it were, thunderstruck at it, not being able to account for it: by these are meant such as are younger than the wicked man, and that continue longer than he, yet upon the spot when his calamity befell; or else posterity in later times, who would be made acquainted with the whole affair, and be surprised at the relation of it:

as they that went before were affrighted; not that lived before the times of the wicked man, for they could not see his day, or be spectators of his ruin, and so be frightened at it; but his contemporaries, who are said to be those that went before, not with respect to the wicked man, but with respect to younger persons or posterity that were after; so Bar Tzemach interprets it, which were in his time, or his contemporaries; and Mr. Broughton,

"the present took an horror;''

a late learned commentator (p) renders the words, western and eastern; as if all people in the world, east and west, would be amazed and astonished at the sudden and utter destruction of this wicked man.

(p) Schultens.

They that come after him shall be astonied at his {n} day, as they that went before were affrighted.

(n) When they will see what came to him.

20. They that come after him] The word “him” must be omitted; the expression refers to the later generations of men, as they that went before does to the earlier, those nearer the sinner’s day, but, of course, both expressions describe generations living after the wicked man. Others take the two phrases to mean, they of the West, and they of the East. In the one case the idea is that men’s horror of his memory and fate is eternal, lasting through all generations; in the other that it is universal,—both in the West and in the East. His day is the day of his downfall, Psalm 37:13; Jeremiah 50:27. Job had complained that he was made a “byword of the peoples” ch. Job 17:6; Bildad, with a singular hardness, rejoins, It is true, the deep moral instinct of mankind rises up against such a man.Verse 20. - They that come after him shall be astonied at his day; i.e. "at the time of his visitation" (comp. Psalm 37:13, "The Lord shall laugh at him, for he seeth that his day is coming;" and Psalm 137:7, "Remember the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem," i.e. the day of its overthrow). As they that went before were affrighted. His fate shall alarm equally his contemporaries and his successors, at possibly "the dwellers in the West and the dwellers in the East" 12 His calamity looketh hunger-bitten,

And misfortune is ready for his fall.

13 It devoureth the members of his skin;

The first-born of death devoureth his members.

14 That in which he trusted is torn away out of his tent,

And he must march on to the king of terrors.

15 Beings strange to him dwell in his tent;

Brimstone is strewn over his habitation.

The description of the actual and total destruction of the evil-doer now begins with יהי (as Job 24:14, after the manner of the voluntative forms already used in Job 24:9). Step by step it traces his course to the total destruction, which leaves no trace of him, but still bears evident marks of being the fulfilment of the curse pronounced upon him. In opposition to this explanation, Targ., Raschi, and others, explain אנו according to Genesis 49:3 : the son of his manhood's strength becomes hungry, which sounds comical rather than tragic; another Targ. transl.: he becomes hungry in his mourning, which is indeed inadmissible, because the signif. planctus, luctus, belongs to the derivatives of אנה, אנן, but not to און. But even the translation recently adopted by Ew., Stick., and Schlottm., "his strength becomes hungry," is unsatisfactory; for it is in itself no misfortune to be hungry, and רעב does not in itself signify "exhausted with hunger." It is also an odd metaphor, that strength becomes hungry; we would then rather read with Reiske, רעב באנו, famelicus in media potentia sua. But as און signifies strength (Job 18:7), so און (root אן, to breathe and pant) signifies both wickedness and evil (the latter either as evil equals calamity, or as anhelitus, sorrow, Arab. ain); and the thought that his (i.e., appointed to the evil-doer) calamity is hungry to swallow him up (Syr., Hirz., Hahn, and others), suits the parallelism perfectly: "and misfortune stands ready for his fall."

(Note: If רעב elsewhere corresponds to the Arabic rugb, to be voraciously hungry, the Arab. ra‛b, to be paralyzed with fright, might correspond to it in the present passage: "from all sides spectres alarm him (בעתהו from בעת equals Arab. bgt, to fall suddenly upon any one; or better: equals b‛ṯ, to hunt up, excitare, to cause to rise, to fill with alarm) and urge him forward, seizing on his heels; then his strength becomes a paralyzing fright (רעב), and destruction is ready to overwhelm him." The ro‛b (רעב, thus in Damascus) or ra‛b (רעב, thus in Hauran and among the Beduins) is a state of mind which only occurs among us in a lower degree, but among the Arabs it is worthy of note as a psychological fact. If the wahm (Arab. 'l-whm), or idea of some great and inevitable danger or misfortune, overpowers the Arab, all strength of mind and body suddenly forsakes him, so that he breaks down powerless and defenceless. Thus on July 8, 1860, in Damascus, in a few hours, about 6000 Christian men were slain, without any one raising a hand or uttering a cry for mercy. Both European and native doctors have assured me the ro‛b in Arabia kills, and I have witnessed instances myself. Since it often produces a stiffness of the limbs with chronic paralysis, all kinds of paralysis are called ro‛b, and the paralytics mar‛ûb. - Wetzst.)

איד signifies prop. a weight, burden, then a load of suffering, and gen. calamity (root אד, Arab. âda, e.g., Sur. 2, 256, la jaâduhu, it is not difficult for him, and adda, comp. on Psalm 31:12); and לצלעו not: at his side (Ges., Ew., Schlottm., Hahn), but, according to Psalm 35:15; Psalm 38:18 : for his fall (lxx freely, but correctly: ἐξαίσιοϚ); for instead of "at the side" (Arab. ila ganbi), they no more say in Hebrew than in Germ. "at the ribs."

Job 18:13 figuratively describes how calamity takes possession of him. The members, which are called יצרים in Job 17:7, as parts of the form of the body, are here called בּדּים, as the parts into which the body branches out, or rather, since the word originally signifies a part, as that which is actually split off (vid., on Job 17:16, where it denotes "cross-bars"), or according to appearance that which rises up, and from this primary signification applied to the body and plants, the members (not merely as Farisol interprets: the veins) of which the body consists and into which it is distributed. עור (distinct from גּלד, Job 16:15, similar in meaning to Arab. baschar, but also to the Arab. gild, of which the former signifies rather the epidermis, the latter the skin in the widest sense) is the soluble surface of the naked animal body. בּכור מות devours this, and indeed, as the repetition implies, gradually, but surely and entirely. "The first-born of the poor," Isaiah 14:30, are those not merely who belong (בּני) to the race of the poor, but the poor in the highest sense and first rank. So here diseases are conceived of as children of death, as in the Arabic malignant fevers are called benât el-menı̂jeh, daughters of fate or death; that disease which Bildad has in his mind, as the one more terrible and dangerous than all others, he calls the "first-born of death," as that in which the whole destroying power of death is contained, as in the first-born the whole strength of his parent.

(Note: In Arabic the positive is expressed in the same metonymies with abu, e.g., abû 'l-chêr, the benevolent; on the other hand, e.g., ibn el̇hhâge is much stronger than abu 'l-hhâge: the person who is called ibn is conceived of as a child of these conditions; they belong to his inmost nature, and have not merely affected him slightly and passed off. The Hebrew בכור represents the superlative, because among Semites the power and dignity of the father is transmitted to the first-born. So far as I know, the Arab does not use this superlative; for what is terrible and revolting he uses "mother," e.g., umm el-fâritt, mother of death, a name for the plague (in one of the modern popular poets of Damascus), umm el-quashshâsh, mother of the sweeping death, a name for war (in the same); for that which awakens the emotions of joy and grief he frequently uses "daughter." In an Arabian song of victory the fatal arrows are called benât el-môt, and the heroes (slayers) in the battle benı̂ el-môt, which is similar to the figure used in the book of Job. Moreover, that disease which eats up the limbs could not be described by a more appropriate epithet than בכור מות. Its proper name is shunned in common life; and if it is necessary to mention those who are affected with it, they always say sâdât el-gudhamâ to avoid offending the company, or to escape the curse of the thing mentioned. - Wetzst.)

The Targ. understands the figure similarly, since it transl. מלאך מותא (angel of death); another Targ. has instead שׁרוּי מותא, the firstling of death, which is intended in the sense of the primogenita ( equals praematura) mors of Jerome. Least of all is it to be understood with Ewald as an intensive expression for בן־מות, 1 Samuel 20:31, of the evil-doer as liable to death. While now disease in the most fearful form consumes the body of the evil-doer, מבטחו (with Dag.f. impl., as Job 8:14; Job 31:24, Olsh. 198, b) (a collective word, which signifies everything in which he trusted) is torn away out of his tent; thus also Rosenm., Ew., and Umbr. explain, while Hirz., Hlgst., Schlottm., and Hahn regard מבטחו as in apposition to אהלו, in favour of which Job 8:14 is only a seemingly suitable parallel. It means everything that made the ungodly man happy as head of a household, and gave him the brightest hopes of the future. This is torn away (evellitur) from his household, so that he, who is dying off, alone survives. Thus, therefore, Job 18:14 describes how he also himself dies at last. Several modern expositors, especially Stickel, after the example of Jerome (et calcet super eum quasi rex interitus), and of the Syr. (praecipitem eum reddent terrores regis), take בּלּהות as subj., which is syntactically possible (vid., Job 27:20; Job 30:15): and destruction causes him to march towards itself (Ges.: fugant eum) like a military leader; but since הצעיד signifies to cause to approach, and since no אליו (to itself) stands with it, למלך is to be considered as denoting the goal, especially as ל never directly signifies instar. In the passage advanced in its favour it denotes that which anything becomes, that which one makes a thing by the mode of treatment (Job 39:16), or whither anything extends (e.g., in Schultens on Job 13:12 : they had claws li-machlbi, i.e., "approaching to the claws" of wild beasts).


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