Job 20:6
Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach to the clouds;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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"). 26 And after my skin, thus torn to pieces,

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),

continued...

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