Job 18:3
Wherefore are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your sight?
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(3) Wherefore are we counted as beasts.—Referring to Job’s words (Job 13:4, &c., Job 16:2, &c.). In this chapter there is a marked increase in his harshness and violence. It has, however, a certain resemblance to Job 8, inasmuch as Bildad works out a simile here, as he did there; and in Job 18:16 the two similes touch. In Job 18:2, which resembles Job 8:2, we must supply, as the Authorised Version does, Will it be ere? or the negative, Will ye not make? &c., or else we must render, “How long [will ye speak thus]? Make an end of words,” &c. The plural is used because Job is regarded as the representative of a class, or else as we use the plural instead of the singular in addressing a person.

Job 18:3-4. Wherefore are we counted as beasts? — That is, ignorant and stupid men, Job 17:4; Job 17:10; and reputed vile in your sight — Hebrew, נשׂמנו, nitmeinu, polluted or unclean; that is, not fit to be conversed with, or contemptible, as such things are. He teareth himself in his anger —

That is, Job does, as if he had said, O thou that tearest thyself, thou complainest of us for vexing thee with our speeches, when, in truth, thou art thy own greatest tormentor. Shall the earth be forsaken for thee? — Shall God, for thy sake, or to prevent thy complaints and clamours, give over the government of the earth and men and things in it, and suffer all things to fall out by chance and promiscuously, to good and bad men, without any regard to his truth, wisdom, or justice? And shall the rock be removed out of its place? — Shall the counsels of God, which are more firm and immoveable than rocks, and the whole course of his providence, be altered to comply with thy fancies or humours?

18:1-4 Bildad had before given Job good advice and encouragement; here he used nothing but rebukes, and declared his ruin. And he concluded that Job shut out the providence of God from the management of human affairs, because he would not admit himself to be wicked.Wherefore are we counted as beasts? - "Why are we treated in your remarks as if we had no sense, and were unworthy of sound argument in reply to what we say?" It is possible that there may be reference here to what Job said Job 12:7 - that even the beasts could give them information about God. But the general idea is, that Job had not treated their views with the attention which they deserved, but had regarded them as unworthy of notice.

And reputed vile - The word used here (טמה ṭâmâh) means to be unclean, or polluted; and the idea is, that Job regarded them as worthless or impious.

3. beasts—alluding to what Job said (Job 12:7; so Isa 1:3).

vile—rather from a Hebrew root, "to stop up." "Stubborn," answering to the stupidity implied in the parallel first clause [Umbreit]. Why should we give occasion by your empty speeches for our being mutually reputed, in the sight of Job and one another, as unintelligent? (Job 17:4, 10).

As beasts, i.e. ignorant, blockish, and stupid men, Job 17:4,10.

Vile, Heb. polluted, or unclean, i.e. not fit to be conversed or discoursed with; or contemptible, as such things are.

In your sight; either,

1. To your faces, or in your own hearing. Or,

2. In thy sight or judgment, O Job; so he speaks of Job in the plural number, as he did Job 18:2.

Wherefore are we counted as beasts,.... This seems to refer to Job 12:7; where Job sends them to the beasts, to get knowledge and instruction; and therefore it was concluded he reckoned them as such, and put them on a level with them, yea, made them inferior to them; or to Job 17:4; where they are represented as destitute of wisdom and understanding, and therefore it is supposed were counted by Job no other than as beasts. Man, by the fall, is indeed become like them, and some are more brutish than they, and all are brutish as to spiritual knowledge and understanding; and those that are most sensible of themselves are ready to acknowledge their ignorance, that they are more brutish than any, and especially are as a beast before God; and particularly with respect to knowledge of the methods of Providence, in regard to his dealings with the righteous and wicked; see Psalm 73:22; and which was the case in controversy between Job and his friends; but yet self-sufficient persons do not care to have their understandings in anything called in question, but like the Pharisees say, "are we blind also?" John 9:40; and take it very hard that they should be reckoned like beasts, void of understanding, when they are the people, and wisdom will die with them:

and reputed vile in your sight? as wicked and profligate persons, the most abandoned of mankind, such as are justly despised by good men, see Psalm 15:4; or "unclean" (h), filthy, polluted, and defiled, as all men are by nature, and as they are in all the powers and faculties of their souls; nor can they make themselves clean, their hearts or their hands; nothing short of the grace of God, and blood of Christ, can cleanse from sin; yet self-righteous persons think themselves clean and pure when they are not washed from their sins, and take it ill of others to be reputed unclean persons: or "shut" (i), stopped up, as the hearts of men are from God and Christ, and the true knowledge of them, and divine things, until opened by him who has the key of the house of David, and opens, and no man shuts; or "hidden" (k), referring to Job 17:4; having a covering over their hearts, and a vail over the eyes of their understandings, so that the things of Providence were hid from them, as sometimes the things of grace are from the wise and prudent; but to be thought that this was their case is resented by Bildad.

(h) "immundi", Drusius, Piscator, Michaelis; so Broughton. (i) "Clausi sumu", Montanus; "obturati sumus", Hebraei, in Mercer. (k) So the Targum.

Wherefore are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your sight?
3. and reputed vile] lit. and are unclean. Bildad describes what Job’s treatment of his friends suggests to him as Job’s idea of them. The reference is to the passages, ch. Job 17:4; Job 17:10, and the words “clean of hands” ch. Job 17:9, which Job had used of himself and other unjustly persecuted men, cf. Psalm 73:22.

Verse 3. - Wherefore are we counted as beasts? The allusion is probably to Job 16:10, where Job spoke of his "comforters" as "gaping upon him with their mouths." And reputed vile in your sight! or, reckoned unclean. Job had spoken of his "miserable comforters" as "ungodly and wicked" (Job 16:11), without wisdom (Job 17:10) and without understanding (Job 17:4). But he had not said that they were "unclean." Bildad, therefore, misrepresents him. Job 18:3 1 Then began Bildad the Shuhite, and said:

2 How long will ye hunt for words?!

Attend, and afterwards we will speak.

3 Wherefore are we accounted as beasts,

And narrow-minded in your eyes?

Job's speeches are long, and certainly are a trial of patience to the three, and the heaviest trial to Bildad, whose turn now comes on, because he is at pains throughout to be brief. Hence the reproach of endless babbling with which he begins here, as at Job 8:2, when he at last has an opportunity of speaking; in connection with which it must, however, not be forgotten that Job also, Job 16:3, satirically calls upon them to cease. He is indeed more entitled than his opponents to the entreaty not to weary him with long speeches. The question, Job 18:2, if קנצי six derived from קץ, furnishes no sense, unless perhaps it is, with Ralbag, explained: how long do you make close upon close in order, when you seem to have come to an end, to begin continually anew? For to give the thought: how long do you make no end of speaking, it must have been לא עד־אנה, as the lxx (μέχρι τίνος ου ̓ παύσῃ:) involuntarily inserts the negative. And what should the plur. mean by this rendering? The form קנצי equals קצּי would not cause doubt; for though קצּים does not occur elsewhere in the Old Testament, it is nevertheless sufficient that it is good Aramaic (קצּין), and that another Hebr. plural, as קצי, קצוי, קצוות, would have been hardly in accordance with the usage of the language. But the plural would not be suitable here generally, the over-delicate explanation of Ralbag perhaps excepted. Since the book of Job abounds in Arabisms, and in Arabic qanaṣa (as synon. of ṣâd) signifies venari, venando capere, and qanṣun (maqnaṣun) cassis, rete venatorium; since, further, שׂים קנצים (comp. שׂים ארב, Jeremiah 9:7) is an incontrovertible reading, and all the difficulties in connection with the reference to קץ lying in the עד־אנה for עד־אנה לא and in the plur. vanish, we translate with Castell., Schultens, J. D. Mich., and most modern expositors: how long (here not different from Job 8:2; Job 19:2) will ye lay snares (construction, as also by the other rendering, like Job 24:5; Job 36:16, according to Ges. 116, 1) for words; which, however, is not equivalent to hunt for words in order to contradict, but in order to talk on continually.

(Note: In post-bibl. Hebrew, קנצים has become common in the signification, proofs, arguments, as e.g., a Karaitic poet says, ויחוד שׁמך בקנצים הקימותי, the oneness of thy name have I upheld with proofs; vid., Pinsker, Likute Kadmoniot. Zur Gesch. des Karaismus und der karischen Literatur, 1860, S. קסו.)

Job is the person addressed, for Bildad agrees with the two others. It is remarkable, however, that he addresses Job with "you." Some say that he thinks of Job as one of a number; Ewald observes that the controversy becomes more wide and general; and Schlottm. conjectures that Bildad fixes his eye on individuals of his hearers, on whose countenances he believed he saw a certain inclination to side with Job. This conjecture we will leave to itself; but the remark which Schlottm. also makes, that Bildad regards Job as a type of a whole class, is correct, only one must also add, this address in the plur. is a reply to Job's sarcasm by a similar one. As Job has told the friends that they act as if they were mankind in general, and all wisdom were concentrated in them, so Bildad has taken it amiss that Job connects himself with the whole of the truly upright, righteous, and pure; and he addresses him in the plural, because he, the unit, has puffed himself up as such a collective whole. This wrangler - he means - with such a train behind him, cannot accomplish anything: Oh that you would understand (הבין, as e.g., Job 42:3, not causative, as Job 6:24), i.e., come to your senses, and afterward we will speak, i.e., it is only then possible to walk in the way of understanding. That is not now possible, when he, as one who plays the part of their many, treats them, the three who are agreed in opposition to him, as totally void of understanding, and each one of them unwise, in expressions like Job 17:4, Job 17:10. Looking to Psalm 49:13, 21, one might be tempted to regard נטמינוּ (on the vowel instead of , vid., Ges. 75, rem. 7) as an interchange of consonants from נדמינו: be silent, make an end, ye profligati; but the supposition of this interchange of consonants would be arbitrary. On the other hand, there is no suitable thought in "why are we accounted unclean?" (Vulg. sorduimus), from טמה equals טמא, Leviticus 11:43 (Ges. 75, vi.); the complaint would have no right connection, except it were a very slight one, with Job 17:9. On the contrary, if we suppose a verb טמה in the signification opplere, obturare, which is peculiar to this consonant-combination in the whole range of the Semitic languages (comp. א־טם, Arab. 'ṭm, obstruere, Aram. טמּם, טמטם, Arab. ṭmm, e.g., Talm.: transgression stoppeth up, מטמטמת, man's heart), and after which this טמה has been explained by the Jewish expositors (Raschi: נחשׁבנו טמומים), and is interpreted by סתם (Parchon: נסתמה דעתנו), we gain a sense which corresponds both with previous reproaches of Job and the parallelism, and we decide in its favour with the majority of modern expositors. With the interrogative Wherefore, Bildad appeals to Job's conscience. These invectives proceed from an impassioned self-delusion towards the truth, which he wards off from himself, but cannot however alter.

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