Job 20:17
He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter.
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(17) The brooks of honey and butter.—He uses language which might lead one to suppose he was familiar with the promise of Canaan, except that, as the phrase is not precisely identical it may perhaps rather show a community of proverbial language, and that the land flowing with milk and honey may have been an expression in use, and not one original with the Pentateuch.

Job 20:17. He shall not see the rivers, the floods, &c. — “He shall not see them with any pleasure. The most delightful things of this world, and the greatest affluence and plenty of them, shall afford him no enjoyment.” — Dodd. Or, rather, he speaks metaphorically, and means, he shall not enjoy that abundant satisfaction and comfort, which he promised himself from his great riches, or which good men, through God’s blessing, commonly enjoy.20:10-22 The miserable condition of the wicked man in this world is fully set forth. The lusts of the flesh are here called the sins of his youth. His hiding it and keeping it under his tongue, denotes concealment of his beloved lust, and delight therein. But He who knows what is in the heart, knows what is under the tongue, and will discover it. The love of the world, and of the wealth of it, also is wickedness, and man sets his heart upon these. Also violence and injustice, these sins bring God's judgments upon nations and families. Observe the punishment of the wicked man for these things. Sin is turned into gall, than which nothing is more bitter; it will prove to him poison; so will all unlawful gains be. In his fulness he shall be in straits, through the anxieties of his own mind. To be led by the sanctifying grace of God to restore what was unjustly gotten, as Zaccheus was, is a great mercy. But to be forced to restore by the horrors of a despairing conscience, as Judas was, has no benefit and comfort attending it.When I washed my steps with cream,

And the rock poured me out rivers of oil. Job 29:6.

Plowing with oxen is mentioned, Job 1:14.

So also Job 31:38-40 :

If my land cry out against me,

And the furrows likewise complain;

If I have eaten its fruits without payment,

And extorted the living of its owners;

Let thistles grow up instead of wheat,

And noxious weeds instead of barley. Job 31:38-40.

The cultivation of the vine and the olive, and the pressure of grapes and olives, is mentioned:

He shall cast his unripe fruit as the vine,

And shed his blossoms like the olive. Job 15:33.

They reap their grain in the field (of others),


17. floods—literally, "stream of floods," plentiful streams flowing with milk, &c. (Job 29:6; Ex 3:17). Honey and butter are more fluid in the East than with us and are poured out from jars. These "rivers" or water brooks are in the sultry East emblems of prosperity. Not see, i.e. not enjoy, as that word is oft used as Psalm 106:5 Ecclesiastes 2:1.

The brooks of honey and butter; that abundant satisfaction and comfort, (oft signified by these or suchlike metaphors; as Psalm 36:8 46:4 Isaiah 7:15,22 41:18) either which he promised to himself from that great estate which he had got by deceit and oppression, or which good men through God’s blessing may and commonly do enjoy. He shall not see the rivers,.... Of water, or meet with any to assuage his thirst, which poison excites, and so makes a man wish for water, and desire large quantities; but this shall not be granted the wicked man; this might be illustrated in the case of the rich man in hell, who desired a drop of cold water to cool his tongue, but could not have it, Luke 16:24; though rather plenty of good things is here intended, see Isaiah 48:18; as also the following expressions:

the floods, the brooks of honey and butter; or "cream"; which are hyperbolical expressions, denoting the great profusion and abundance of temporal blessings, which either the covetous rich man was ambitious of obtaining, and hoped to enjoy, seeking and promising great things to himself, which yet he should never attain unto; or else the sense is, though he had enjoyed such plenty, and been in such great prosperity as to have honey and butter, or all temporal good things, flowing about him like rivers, and floods, and brooks; yet he should "see them no more", so Broughton reads the words; and perhaps Zophar may have respect to the abundance Job once possessed, but should no more, and which is by himself expressed by such like metaphors, Job 29:6; yea, even spiritual and eternal good things may be designed, and the plenty of them, as they often are in Scripture, by wine, and milk, and honey; such as the means of grace, the word and ordinances, the blessings of grace dispensed and communicated through them; spiritual peace and joy, called the rivers of pleasure; the love of God, and the streams of it, which make glad his people; yea, eternal glory and happiness, signified by new wine in the kingdom of God, and by a river of water of life, and a tree of life by it, see Isaiah 55:1; which are what carnal men and hypocrites shall never see or enjoy; and whereas Zophar took Job to be such a man, he may have a principal view to him, and object this to the beatific vision of God, and the enjoyment of eternal happiness he promised himself, Job 19:26. Bar Tzemach observes, that these words are to be read by a transposition thus, "he shall not see rivers of water, floods of honey, and brooks of butter".

He shall not see the {h} rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter.

(h) Though God gives all other abundance from his blessings yet he will have no part of it.

17. the floods, the brooks of honey] The marg. the streaming brooks is unnecessary. The words “honey and butter” apply both to “floods” (streams) and brooks. The figure is common for fulness of blessings. Cf. Exodus 3:8, “A land flowing with milk and honey.”

17–22. That long time of enjoyment which he promised himself shall never come; according to his insatiable lust and greed shall be his utter destitution at last.Verse 17. - He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks. The wicked man shall suffer, not only positive pains, but what casuists call the peens damni, or "penalty of loss" - deprivation, in other words, of blessings which he would naturally have enjoyed but for his wickedness. Zophar here threatens him with the Joss of those paradisiacal delights which the Orientals associated with water in all its forms, whether as פּלגות, or "rills derived from larger streams," or as כהרי, "rivers," or as כחלי, "brooks" or "torrents," now strong and impetuous, now reduced to a mere thread These are said poetically to flow with honey and butter, not, of course, in any literal sense, such as Ovid may have meant, when, in describing the golden age, he said -

"Flumina jam lactis, jam fiumina nectaris ibant;"

(Metaph.,' 1:111.) but as fertilizing the land through which they ran, and so causing it to abound with bees and cattle, whence would be derived butter and honey. Compare the terms in which Canaan was described to the Israelites (Exodus 3:8, 17; Exodus 13:5; Deuteronomy 26:9, 15, etc.). 6 If his aspiration riseth to the heavens,

And he causeth his head to touch the clouds:

7 Like his dung he perisheth for ever;

Those who see him say: Where is he?

8 As a dream he flieth away, and they cannot find him;

And he is scared away as a vision of the night.

9 The eye hath seen him, and never again,

And his place beholdeth him no more.

10 His children must appease the poor,

And his hands give up his wealth.

11 His bones were full of youthful vigour;

Now it is laid down with him in the dust.

If the exaltation of the evil-doer rises to heaven, and he causes his head to reach to the clouds, i.e., to touch the clouds, he notwithstanding perishes like his own dung. We are here reminded of what Obadiah, Job 20:4, says of Edom, and Isaiah, Isaiah 14:13-15, says of the king of Babylon. שׂיא is equivalent to נשׂיא, like שׂוא, Psalm 89:10 equals נשׂוא; the first weak radical is cast away, as in כּילי equals נכילי, fraudulentus, machinator, Isaiah 32:5, and according to Olsh. in שׁיבה equals ישׁיבה, 2 Samuel 19:33. הגּיע is to be understood as causative (at least this is the most natural) in the same manner as in Isaiah 25:12, and freq. It is unnecessary, with Ew., Hirz., and Hlgst., after Schultens, to transl. כגללו, Job 20:7, according to the Arab. jlâl (whence the name Gell-ed-dn): secundum majestatem suam, or with Reiske to read בגללו, in magnificentia sua, and it is very hazardous, since the Hebrew גלל has not the meaning of Arab. jll, illustrem esse. Even Schultens, in his Commentary, has retracted the explanation commended in his Animadv., and maintained the correctness of the translation, sicut stercus suum (Jer. sicut sterquilinium), which is also favoured by the similar figurative words in 1 Kings 14:10 : as one burneth up (not: brushes away) dung (הגּלל), probably cow-dung as fuel, until it is completely gone. גּללו (or גּללו with an audible Shev) may be derived from גּלל, but the analogy of צללו favours the primary form גּל (Ew. 255, b); on no account is it גּלל. The word is not low, as Ezekiel 4:12, comp. Zephaniah 1:17, shows, and the figure, though revolting, is still very expressive; and how the fulfilment is to be thought of may be seen from an example from 2 Kings 9:37, according to which, "as dung upon the face of the field shall it be, so that they cannot say: this is Jezebel."

(Note: In Arabic, gille (גּלּה) and gelle (גּלּה) is the usual and preferred fuel (hence used as synon. of hhattab) formed of the dung of cows, and not indeed yoke-oxen (baqar 'ammle), because they have more solid fodder, which produces no material for the gelle, but from cattle that pasture in the open fields (baqar bat.tle), which are almost entirely milking cows. This dung is collected by women and children in the spring from the pastures as perfectly dry cakes, which have the green colour of the grass. Every husbandman knows that this kind of dung - the product of a rapid, one might say merely half, digestion, even when fresh, but especially when dry - is perfectly free from smell. What is collected is brought in baskets to the forming or pressing place (mattba'a, מטבּעה), where it is crumbled, then with water made into a thick mass, and, having been mixed with chopped straw, is formed by the women with the hand into round cakes, about a span across, and three fingers thick. They resemble the tanners' tan-cakes, only they are not square. Since this compound has the form of a loaf it is called qurss (which also signifies a loaf of bread); and since a definite form is given to it by the hand, it is called ttabu' (טבּוּע), collective ttbbi', which צפוּעי (צפיעי), Ezekiel 4:15, resembles in meaning; for ssaf', צפע (cogn. ssafhh, צפח), signifies to beat anything with the palm of the hand. First spread out, then later on piled up, the gelle lies the whole summer in the mattba'a. The domes (qubeb) are not formed until a month before the rainy season, i.e., a circular structure is built up of the cakes skilfully placed one upon another like bricks; it is made from six to eight yards high, gradually narrowed and finished with a vaulted dome, whence this structure has its name, qubbe (קבּה). Below it measures about eight or ten paces, it is always hollow, and is filled from beneath by means of an opening which serves as a door. The outside of the qubbe is plastered over with a thick solution of dung; and this coating, when once dried in the sun, entirely protects the building, which is both storehouse and store, against the winter rains. When they begin to use the fuel, they take from the inside first by means of the doorway, and afterwards (by which time the heavy rains are over) they use up the building itself, removing the upper part first by means of a ladder. By the summer the qubbe has disappeared. Many large households have three or four of these stores. Where walled-in courts are spacious, as is generally the case, they stand within; where not, outside. The communities bordering on the desert, and exposed to attacks from the Arabs, place them close round their villages, which gives them a peculiar appearance. When attacked, the herds are driven behind these buildings, and the peasants make their appearance between them with their javelins. Seetzen reckons the gelle among the seven characteristics of the district of Haurn (Basan).


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