Job 18:20
They that come after him shall be astonied at his day, as they that went before were affrighted.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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" Job 18:2020 Those who dwell in the west are astonished at his day,

And trembling seizeth those who dwell in the east;

21 Surely thus it befalleth the dwellings of the unrighteous,

And thus the place of him that knew not God.

It is as much in accordance with the usage of Arabic as it is biblical, to call the day of a man's doom "his day," the day of a battle at a place "the day of that place." Who are the אחרנים who are astonished at it, and the קדמנים whom terror (שׂער as twice besides in this sense in Ezek.) seizes, or as it is properly, who seize terror, i.e., of themselves, without being able to do otherwise than yield to the emotion (as Job 21:6; Isaiah 13:8; comp. on the contrary Exodus 15:14.)? Hirz., Schlottm., Hahn, and others, understand posterity by אחרנים, and by קדמנים their ancestors, therefore Job's contemporaries. But the return from the posterity to those then living is strange, and the usage of the language is opposed to it; for קדמנים is elsewhere always what belongs to the previous age in relation to the speaker (e.g., 1 Samuel 24:14, comp. Ecclesiastes 4:16). Since, then, קדמני is used in the signification eastern (e.g., הים הקדמוני, the eastern sea equals the Dead Sea), and אחרון in the signification western (e.g., הים האחרון, the western sea equals the Mediterranean), it is much more suited both to the order of the words and the usage of the language to understand, with Schult., Oetinger, Umbr., and Ew., the former of those dwelling in the west, and the latter of those dwelling in the east. In the summarizing Job 18:21, the retrospective pronouns are also praegn., like Job 8:19; Job 20:29, comp. Job 26:14 : Thus is it, viz., according to their fate, i.e., thus it befalls them; and אך here retains its original affirmative signification (as in the concluding verse of Psalm 58:1-11), although in Hebrew this is blended with the restrictive. וזה has Rebia mugrasch instead of great Schalscheleth,

(Note: Vid., Psalter ii. 503, and comp. Davidson, Outlines of Hebrew Accentuation (1861), p. 92, note.)

and מקום has in correct texts Legarme, which must be followed by לא־ידע with Illuj on the penult. On the relative clause לא־ידע אל without אשׁר, comp. e.g., Job 29:16; and on this use of the st. constr., vid., Ges. 116, 3. The last verse is as though those mentioned in Job 18:20 pointed with the finger to the example of punishment in the "desolated" dwellings which have been visited by the curse.

This second speech of Bildad begins, like the first (Job 8:2), with the reproach of endless babbling; but it does not end like the first (Job 8:22). The first closed with the words: "Thy haters shall be clothed with shame, and the tent of the godless is no more," the second is only an amplification of the second half of this conclusion, without taking up again anywhere the tone of promise, which there also embraces the threatening.

It is manifest also from this speech, that the friends, to express it in the words of the old commentators, know nothing of evangelical but only of legal suffering, and also only of legal, nothing of evangelical, righteousness. For the righteousness of which Job boasts is not the righteousness of single works of the law, but of a disposition directed to God, of conduct proceeding from faith, or (as the Old Testament generally says) from trust in God's mercy, the weaknesses of which are forgiven because they are exonerated by the habitual disposition of the man and the primary aim of his actions. The fact that the principle, "suffering is the consequence of human unrighteousness," is accounted by Bildad as the formula of an inviolable law of the moral order of the world, is closely connected with that outward aspect of human righteousness. One can only thus judge when one regards human righteousness and human destiny from the purely legal point of view. A man, as soon as we conceive him in faith, and therefore under grace, is no longer under that supposed exclusive fundamental law of the divine dealing. Brentius is quite right when he observes that the sentence of the law certainly is modified for the sake of the godly who have the word of promise. Bildad knows nothing of the worth and power which a man attains by a righteous heart. By faith he is removed from the domain of God's justice, which recompenses according to the law of works; and before the power of faith even rocks move from their place.

Bildad then goes off into a detailed description of the total destruction into which the evil-doer, after going about for a time oppressed with the terrors of his conscience as one walking over snares, at last sinks beneath a painful sickness. The description is terribly brilliant, solemn, and pathetic, as becomes the stern preacher of repentance with haughty mien and pharisaic self-confidence; it is none the less beautiful, and, considered in itself, also true - a masterpiece of the poet's skill in poetic idealizing, and in apportioning out the truth in dramatic form. The speech only becomes untrue through the application of the truth advanced, and this untruthfulness the poet has most delicately presented in it. For with a view of terrifying Job, Bildad interweaves distinct references to Job in his description; he knows, however, also how to conceal them under the rich drapery of diversified figures. The first-born of death, that hands the ungodly over to death itself, the king of terrors, by consuming the limbs of the ungodly, is the Arabian leprosy, which slowly destroys the body. The brimstone indicates the fire of God, which, having fallen from heaven, has burned up one part of the herds and servants of Job; the withering of the branch, the death of Job's children, whom he himself, as a drying-up root that will also soon die off, has survived. Job is the ungodly man, who, with wealth, children, name, and all that he possessed, is being destroyed as an example of punishment for posterity both far and near.

But, in reality, Job is not an example of punishment, but an example for consolation to posterity; and what posterity has to relate is not Job's ruin, but his wondrous deliverance (Psalm 22:31.). He is no עוּל, but a righteous man; not one who לא ידע־אל, but he knows God better than the friends, although he contends with Him, and they defend Him. It is with him as with the righteous One, who complains, Psalm 69:21 : "Contempt hath broken my heart, and I became sick: I hoped for sympathy, but in vain; for comforters, and found none;" and Psalm 38:12 (comp. Psalm 31:12; Psalm 55:13-15; Psalm 69:9; Psalm 88:9, 19): "My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my stroke, and my kinsmen stand afar off." Not without a deep purpose does the poet make Bildad to address Job in the plural. The address is first directed to Job alone; nevertheless it is so put, that what Bildad says to Job is also intended to be said to others of a like way of thinking, therefore to a whole party of the opposite opinion to himself. Who are these like-minded? Hirzel rightly refers to Job 17:8. Job is the representative of the suffering and misjudged righteous, in other words: of the "congregation," whose blessedness is hidden beneath an outward form of suffering. One is hereby reminded that in the second part of Isaiah the יהוה עבד is also at one time spoken of in the sing., and at another time in the plur.; since this idea, by a remarkable contraction and expansion of expression (systole and diastole), at one time describes the one servant of Jehovah, and at another the congregation of the servants of Jehovah, which has its head in Him. Thus we again have a trace of the fact that the poet is narrating a history that is of universal significance, and that, although Job is no mere personification, he has in him brought forth to view an idea connected with the history of redemption. The ancient interpreters were on the track of this idea when they said in their way, that in Job we behold the image of Christ, and the figure of His church. Christi personam figuraliter gessit, says Beda; and Gregory, after having stated and explained that there is not in the Old Testament a righteous man who does not typically point to Christ, says: Beatus Iob venturi cum suo corpore typum redemtoris insinuat.

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