Know you not this of old, since man was placed on earth,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Job 20:4-5. Knowest thou not this — Which I am now about to say; of old — From the experience of all former ages; since man was placed upon the earth — Since the world was made, and there were any men to observe God’s government of it; that the triumphing of the wicked is short — Hebrew, מקרוב, mikarob, is from near, that is, from, or for a little time; they have not long enjoyed it, and it will shortly vanish. And the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment — This he adds by way of reflection upon Job, who, though he cleared himself of gross wickedness, yet, he judged, was guilty of deep hypocrisy.
spirit of … understanding—my rational spirit; answering to "calm thoughts" (Job 20:2). In spite of thy reproach urging me to "hastiness." I will answer in calm reason.This which I am now about to say. How canst thou,
thou, I say, who pretendest to such an exact and universal knowledge of men and things, be ignorant of so notorious a thing, which wicked men sensibly feel, and good men diligently observe, and all men are forced to acknowledge, one time or other?
Of old, i.e. from the experience of all former ages.
Since man was placed upon earth, i.e. since the world was made, and there were any men to observe God’s government of it.
since man, or "Adam",
was placed upon earth; referring to the putting of Adam in Eden to dress the garden, and keep it; and every man, ever since, is placed on earth by the ordination, and according to the will of God, where and for purposes he pleases: the instances Zophar might have in view are perhaps the expulsion of our first parents out of paradise, the vagabond state of Cain, the destruction of the old world by a flood, and of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire from heaven; which show that God, sooner or later, gives manifest tokens of his displeasure at sin and sinners, by his punishment of them for it. What he means is as follows.Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. Knowest thou not this old] i. e. knowest thou not this to be or to have been of old, lit. from for ever. “This” which is from of old and from the time man has been upon the earth is the fact that the felicity of the wicked is brief (Job 20:5). On “hypocrite” see ch. Job 8:13.Verse 4. - Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth? These words scarcely "imply cognizance of the record (of the creation of man) in Genesis," as Canon Cook suggests; but they do imply belief in a creation of man, not an evolution; and in the existence of a continuous tradition, extending from that time to Job's. The passage is among those which make for the high antiquity of the book.
And without my flesh shall I behold Eloah,
27 Whom I shall behold for my good,
And mine eyes shall see Him and no other -
My veins languish in my bosom.
28 Ye think: "How shall we persecute him?"
Since the root of the matter is found in me -
29 Therefore be ye afraid of the sword,
For wrath meeteth the transgressions of the sword,
That ye may know there is a judgment!
If we have correctly understood על־עפר,Job 19:25, we cannot in this speech find that the hope of a bodily recovery is expressed. In connection with this rendering, the oldest representative of which is Chrysostom, מבּשׂרי is translated either: free from my flesh equals having become a skeleton (Umbr., Hirz., and Stickel, in comm. in Iobi loc. de Gole, 1832, and in the transl., Gleiss, Hlgst., Renan), but this מבשׂרי, if the מן is taken as privative, can signify nothing else but fleshless equals bodiless; or: from my flesh, i.e., the flesh when made whole again (viz., Eichhorn in the Essay, which has exercised considerable influence, to his Allg. Bibl. d. bibl. Lit. i. 3, 1787, von Clln, BCr., Knapp, von Hofm.,
(Note: Von Hofmann (Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, 503) translates: "I know, however, my Redeemer is living, and hereafter He will stand forth which must have been יעמד instead of יקום] upon the earth and after my skin, this surrounding (נקּפוּ, Chaldaism, instead of נקּפוּת after the form עקּשׁוּת), and from my flesh shall I behold God, whom I shall behold for myself, and my eyes see [Him], and He is not strange.")
and others), but hereby the relation of Job 19:26 to Job 19:26 becomes a contrast, without there being anything to indicate it. Moreover, this rendering, as מבשׂרי may also be explained, is in itself contrary to the spirit and plan of the book; for the character of Job's present state of mind is, that he looks for certain death, and will hear nothing of the consolation of recovery (Job 17:10-16), which sounds to him as mere mockery; that he, however, notwithstanding, does not despair of God, but, by the consciousness of his innocence and the uncharitableness of the friends, is more and more impelled from the God of wrath and caprice to the God of love, his future Redeemer; and that then, when at the end of the course of suffering the actual proof of God's love breaks through the seeming manifestation of wrath, even that which Job had not ventured to hope is realized: a return of temporal prosperity beyond his entreaty and comprehension.
On the other hand, the mode of interpretation of the older translators and expositors, who find an expression of the hope of a resurrection at the end of the preceding strophe or the beginning of this, cannot be accepted. The lxx, by reading יקים instead of יקום, and connecting יקים עורי נקפו זאת, translates: ἀναστήσει δὲ (Cod. Vat. only ἀναστῆσαι) μου τὸ σῶμα (Cod. Vat. τὸ δέρμα μου) τὸ ἀναντλοῦν μοι (Cod. Vat. om. μοι) ταῦτα, - but how can any one's skin be said to awake (Italic: super terram resurget cutis mea),
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