Job 20:6
Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds;
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Job 20:6-9. Though his excellency mount up to the heavens — Though he be advanced to great dignity and authority in the world. He shall perish like his own dung — Which men cast away with contempt and abhorrence. They who have seen him — With admiration at his felicity; shall say, Where is he? — He is nowhere to be found; he is utterly gone and lost. He shall fly away as a dream — Which, for the present, affects the fancy, but hath nothing solid or permanent in it, for as soon as a man awakes all vanishes, and the remembrance of it is quickly lost. Neither shall his place any more behold him — That is, it shall not acknowledge or contain him. A figure called prosopopœia, as Job 7:10. Or, neither shall it (that is, the eye, last mentioned) behold him any more in his place.

20:1-9 Zophar's discourse is upon the certain misery of the wicked. The triumph of the wicked and the joy of the hypocrite are fleeting. The pleasures and gains of sin bring disease and pain; they end in remorse, anguish, and ruin. Dissembled piety is double iniquity, and the ruin that attends it will be accordingly.Though his excellency mount up to the heavens - Though he attain to the highest pitch of honor and prosperity. The Septuagint renders this, "Though his gifts should go up to heaven, and his sacrifice should touch the clouds;" a sentence conveying a true and a beautiful idea, but which is not a translation of the Hebrew. The phrases, to go up to heaven, and to touch the clouds, often occur to denote anything that is greatly exalted, or that is very high. Thus, in Virgil,

It clamor coelo.

So Horace,

Sublimi feriam sidera vertice.

And again,

Attingit solium Joyis.

Compare Genesis 11:4, "Let us build us a tower whose top may reach unto heaven." In Homer the expression not unfrequently occurs, τοῦ γὰρ κλέος οὐρανὸν ἵκει tou gar kleos ouranon hikei. In Seneca (Thyest. Act. v. ver. 1, 2,4,) similar expressions occur:

Aequalis astris gradior, et cunctos super

Altum superbo vertice attingens polum,

Dimitto superos: summa votorum attigi.

The "language" of Zophar would also well express the condition of many a hypocrite whose piety seems to be of the most exalted character, and who appears to have made most eminent attainments in religion. Such a man may "seem" to be a man of uncommon excellence. He may attract attention as having extraordinary sanctity. He may seem to have a remarkable spirit of prayer, and yet all may be false and hollow. Men who design to be hypocrites, aim usually to be "eminent" hypocrites; they who have true piety often, alas, aim at a much lower standard. A hypocrite cannot keep himself in countenance, or accomplish his purpose of imposing on the world, without the appearance of extraordinary devotedness to God; many a sincere believer is satisfied with much less of the appearance of religion. He is sincere and honest. He is conscious of true piety, and he attempts to impose on none. At the same time he makes no attempt scarcely "to be" what the hypocrite wishes "to appear" to be; and hence, the man that shall appear to be the most eminently devoted to God "may" be a hypocrite - yet usually not long. His zeal dies away, or he is suffered to fall into open sin, and to show that he had no true religion at heart.

6. (Isa 14:13; Ob 3, 4). Though he be advanced to great dignity and authority in the world.

Though his excellency mount up to the heavens,.... Though, in worldly grandeur and glory, he should arrive to such a pitch as the Assyrian monarch was ambitious of, as to ascend into heaven, exalt his throne above the stars of God, and be like the Most High; or be comparable to such a tree, by which the greatness of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom is expressed, the height whereof reached unto heaven, Isaiah 14:12;

and his head reach unto the clouds; being lifted up with pride, because of his greatness, and looking with contempt and scorn on others; the Septuagint version is, "if his gifts ascend up to heaven", &c. which well agrees with an hypocrite possessed of great gifts, and proud of them; as Capernaum was highly favoured with external things, as the presence of Christ, his ministry and miracles, and so said to be exalted unto heaven, yet, because of its impenitence and unbelief, should be brought down to hell, Matthew 11:23.

Though {b} his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds;

(b) His purpose is to prove Job to be a wicked man, and a hypocrite, because God punished him, and changed his prosperity into adversity.

6. his excellency] Or, his height, or rising up (Psalm 89:9); cf. Isaiah 14:13-15, Obad. Job 20:4.

Verse 6. - Though his excellency mount up to the heavens. "Though he reach," i.e., "the highest pitch of prosperity" (comp. Psalm 73:9). And his head reach unto the clouds (comp. Daniel 4:22, "Thou, O king, art grown and become strong: and thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven"). Job 20:6 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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