Job 20:24
He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through.
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(24) He shall flee from the iron weapon, and.—That is, if he escaped one mischance, another should overtake him.

Job 20:24-25. He shall flee from the iron weapon — That is, from the sword or spear; and so shall think himself out of danger. The bow of steel — Which is of great strength, and therefore sendeth forth the arrow with greater force; shall strike him through — Shall mortally wound him. He shall flee from one danger, but another, still greater, shall overtake him. It is drawn — Namely, the arrow which had entered into his body, and now is drawn out of it, either by himself or some other person. Yea, the glittering sword — Hebrew, וברק, ubarak, literally, the lightning, and thence a glittering weapon, the bright sword, or spear; as Deuteronomy 32:41. By this it is implied he was doubly wounded, first with the arrow, and then with the sword or spear: cometh out of his gall — Into which it had entered, and wherewith it was coloured. This shows that the wound was both deep and deadly, as wounds are in that part. It is probable he mentions this in reference to a similar expression of Job 16:13. Terrors are upon him — Namely, the terrors of death; because he perceives, by the tincture of his gall upon the weapon, that his wound is incurable. Or horrors of conscience, because he cannot live, and dare not die.

20:23-29 Zophar, having described the vexations which attend wicked practices, shows their ruin from God's wrath. There is no fence against this, but in Christ, who is the only Covert from the storm and tempest, Isa 32:2. Zophar concludes, This is the portion of a wicked man from God; it is allotted him. Never was any doctrine better explained, or worse applied, than this by Zophar, who intended to prove Job a hypocrite. Let us receive the good explanation, and make a better application, for warning to ourselves, to stand in awe and sin not. One view of Jesus, directed by the Holy Spirit, and by him suitably impressed upon our souls, will quell a thousand carnal reasonings about the suffering of the faithful.To the works cast up by a besieging army for the annoyance of a city by their weapons of war:

His troops advanced together against me;

They throw up their way against me,

And they encamp round about my dwelling. Job 19:12.

In this connection, also, should be mentioned the sublime description of the war-horse in Job 39:19, following The horse was undoubtedly used in war and a more sublime description of this animal caparisoned for battle, impatient for the contest, does not occur in any language:

Hast thou given the horse his strength?

Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?

Dost thou make him to leap as the locust?

How terrible is the glory of his nostrils!

He paweth in the valley; he exulteth in his strength;

He goeth forth into the midst of arms.

He laugheth at fear, and is nothing daunted;

And he turneth not back from the sword.

Upon him rattleth the quiver;


24. steel—rather, "brass." While the wicked flees from one danger, he falls into a greater one from an opposite quarter [Umbreit]. From the iron weapon, i.e. from the sword or spear; and so shall think himself out of danger.

The bow; an arrow shot out of a bow. A distant, place and unknown hand shall unexpectedly fall upon him; so that he shall only go from one danger to another.

Of steel; which is of great strength, and therefore sendeth forth the arrow with greater force. Compare Psalm 18:34. Or, of brass, as the word properly signifies; which the ancients did so temper and harden, that their bows were commonly made of it.

Shall strike him through, i.e. mortally wound him.

He shall flee from the iron weapon,.... The sword, for fear of being thrust through with it; the flaming sword of justice God sometimes threatens to take, and whet, and make use of against ungodly men; the sword of God, as Bar Tzemach observes, is hereby figuratively expressed; fleeing from it, or an attempt to flee from it, shows guilt in the conscience, danger, and a sense of it, and a fear of falling into it, and yet there is no escaping the hand of God, or fleeing from his presence:

and the bow of steel shall strike him through; that is, an arrow out of a bow, made of steel or brass, of which bows were formerly made, and reckoned the strongest and most forcible, see Psalm 18:34; signifying, that if he should escape the dint of a weapon, a sword or spear used near at hand, yet, as he fled, he would be reached by one that strikes at a distance, an arrow shot from a bow; the sense is, that, if a wicked man escapes one judgment, another will be sure to follow him, and overtake him and destroy him, see Isaiah 24:17.

He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through.
24. His inevitable destruction: seeking to escape one form of death he shall flee into another. The figure changes. The judgment of God is no more a rain from heaven, it is an attack on all hands of armed inexorable foes; cf. the same idea of inevitable destruction set forth under different figures, Amos 5:19. For bow of steel read bow of brass.

Verse 24. - He shall flee from the iron weapon. This is no indication of the late authorship of Job. Iron was in use in Egypt at a very early date. A thin plate of it was found by Colonel Howard Vyse embedded in the masonry of the great pyramid; and iron implements and ornaments, iron spear-heads, iron sickles, iron gimlets, iron keys, iron bracelets, iron wire, have been found in the early tombs not infrequently (see the author's 'History of Ancient Egypt,' vol. 1. p. 505). That they are not more common is accounted for by the rapid oxidization of iron by exposure to the air, and its rapid decay in the nitrous soil of Egypt. The inhabitants of South-Western Asia were at no time much behind the Egyptians in their knowledge of the useful arts: and iron appears as a well-known metal in the Jewish Scriptures from the time of the Exodus (see Numbers 35:16; Deuteronomy 3:11; Deuteronomy 4:20; Deuteronomy 8:9; Deuteronomy 28:23; Joshua 8:31). It is true that the principal weapons of war continued to be made ordinarily of bronze, both in South-Western Asia and in Egypt, till a comparatively late period; but Zophar may mean to assign to the slayer of the wicked man weapons of a superior character. And the bow of steel shall strike him through. It is uncertain whether steel was known in the ancient world. But, whether or no, "steel" is not meant here. The word used in the original is nehushtah, which undoubtedly means either "copper" or "bronze." As copper would be too soft a material for a bow, we may assume bronze to be intended. The bronze used in Egypt was extremely elastic, and there would have been little difficulty in fashioning bows of it (on the existence of such bows, see 2 Samuel 26:5; Psalm 18:34). Job 20:24The two futt. may be arranged as in a conditional clause, like Psalm 91:7, comp. Amos 9:2-4; and this is, as it seems, the mutual relation of the two expressions designed by the poet (similar to Isaiah 24:18): if he flee from the weapons of iron, i.e., the deadly weapon in the thick of the fight, he succumbs to that which is destructive by and by: the bow of brass (נחוּשׁה poet. for נחשׁת, as Psalm 18:35, although it might also be an adj., since eth, as the Arab. qaws shows, is really a feminine termination) will pierce him through (fut. Kal of חלף, Arab. chlf, to press further and further, press after, here as in Judges 5:26). The flight of the disheartened is a punishment which is completed by his being hit while fleeing by the arrow which the brazen bow sends with swift power after him. In Job 20:25 the Targ. reads מגּוהּ with He mappic., and translates: he (the enemy, or God) draws (stringit), and it (the sword) comes out of its sheath, which is to be rejected because גּו cannot signify vagina. Kimchi and most Jewish expositors interpret מגּוה by מגּוּף; the lxx also translates it σῶμα. To understand it according to גּו (back), of the hinder part of the body, gives no suitable sense, since the evil-doer is imagined as hit in the back, the arrow consequently passing out at the front;

(Note: Thus sings the warrior Cana'an Tjr (died about 1815) after the loss of his wife: -

"My grief for her is the brief of him whose horse is dashed in pieces in the desert.

The way is wild, and there is no help from the travellers who have hurried on before.

My groaning is like the groaning of one who, mortally wounded between the shoulders,

Will flee, and trails after him the lance that is fastened in him."

- Wetzst.)

whereas the signification body is suitable, and is also made sufficiently certain by the cognate form גּויּה. The verb שׁלף, however, is used as in Judges 3:22 : he who is hit drawn the arrow out, then it comes out of his body, into which it is driven deep; and the glance, i.e., the metal head of the arrow (like להב, Judges 3:22, the point in distinction from the shaft), out of his gall (מררה equals מררה, Job 16:13, so called from its bitterness, as χολή, χόλος, comp. χλόος, χλωρός, from the green-yellow colour), since, as the Syriac version freely translates, his gall-bladder is burst.

(Note: Abulwalid (in Kimchi) understands the red gall, i.e., the gall-bladder, by מרורה, after the Arabic marâre. If this is pierced, its contents are emptied into the lower part of the body, and the man dies.)

Is יהלך, as a parallel word to ויּצא, to be connected with ממררתו, or with what follows? The accentuation varies. The ordinary interpunction is וברק with Dech, ממררתו Mercha, or more correctly Mercha-Zinnorith, יהלך Rebia mugrasch (according to which, Ew., Umbr., Vaih., Welte, Hahn, Schlottm., and Olsh. divide); ממררתו is, however, also found with Athnach. Although the latter mode of accentuation is only feebly supported, we nevertheless consider it as the more correct, for עליו אמים, in the mind of the poet, can hardly have formed a line of the verse. If, however, יהלך עליו אמים is now taken together, it is a matter for inquiry whether it is to be explained: he passes away, since terrors come upon him (Schult., Rosenm., Hirz., Von Gerl., Carey), or: terrors come upon him (lxx, Targ., Syr., Jer., Ramban). We consider the latter as the only correct interpretation; for if יהלך ought to be understood after Job 14:20; Job 16:22, the poet would have expressed himself ambiguously, since it is at least as natural to consider אמים as the subject of יהלך, as to take עליו אמים as an adverbial clause. The former, however, is both natural according to the syntax (vid., Ges. 147, a) and suitable in matter: terrors (i.e., of certain death to him in a short time) draw on upon him, and accordingly we decide in its favour.

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