Job 21:11
They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11, 12) They send forth their little ones . . .—In striking contrast to the fate of Job’s own children, and in contradiction to what Eliphaz had said (Job 15:29-33).

21:7-16 Job says, Remarkable judgments are sometimes brought upon notorious sinners, but not always. Wherefore is it so? This is the day of God's patience; and, in some way or other, he makes use of the prosperity of the wicked to serve his own counsels, while it ripens them for ruin; but the chief reason is, because he will make it appear there is another world. These prospering sinners make light of God and religion, as if because they have so much of this world, they had no need to look after another. But religion is not a vain thing. If it be so to us, we may thank ourselves for resting on the outside of it. Job shows their folly.They send forth their little ones - Their numerous and happy children they send forth to plays and pastimes.

Like a flock - In great numbers. This is an exquisitely beautiful image of prosperity. What can be more so than a group of happy children around a man's dwelling?

And their children dance - Dance for joy. They are playful and sportive, like the lambs of the flock. It is the skip of playfulness and exultation that is referred to here, and not the set and formal dance where children are instructed in the art; the sportiveness of children in the fields, the woods, and on the lawn, and not the set step taught in the dancing-school. The word used here (רקד râqad), means "to leap, to skip" - as from joy, and then to dance. Jerome has well rendered it, "exultant lusibus" - "they leap about in their plays." So the Septuagint, προσπαίζουσιν prospaizousin - "they frolic" or "play." There is no evidence here that Job meant to say that they taught their children to dance; that they caused them to be trained in anything that now corresponds to dancing-schools; and that he meant to say that such a training was improper and tended to exclude God from the heart.

The image is one simply of health, abundance, exuberance of feeling, cheerfulness, prosperity. The houses were free from alarms; the fields were filled with herds and flocks, and their families of happy and playful children were around them. The object of Job was not to say that all this was in itself wrong, but that it was a plain matter of fact that God did not take away the comforts of all the wicked and overwhelm them with calamity. Of the impropriety of training children in a dancing-school, there ought to be but one opinion among the friends of religion (see National Preacher for January 1844), but there is no evidence that Job referred to any such training here, "and" this passage should not be adduced to prove that dancing is wrong. It refers to the playfulness and the cheerful sports of children, and God has made them so that they "will" find pleasure in such sports, and so that they are benefited by them. There is not a more lovely picture of happiness and of the benevolence of God any where on earth than in such groups of children, and in their sportiveness and playfulness there is no more that is wrong than there is in the gambols of the lambs of the flock.

Job 21:11-15.In their feasts - 'The Nabathaeans of Arabia Petrea always introduced music at their entertainments (Strabo, xvi.), and the custom seems to have been very general among the ancients. They are mentioned as having been essential among the Greeks, from the earliest times; and are pronounced by Homer to be requisite at a feast:

Μολπή τ ̓ ὀρχηστύ; τε τά γάρ τ ̓ ἀναθήματα δαιτός.

Molpē t' orchēstu; te ta gar t' anathēmata daitos.

continued...

11. send forth—namely, out of doors, to their happy sports under the skies, like a joyful flock sent to the pastures.

little ones—like lambkins.

children—somewhat older than the former.

dance—not formal dances; but skip, like lambs, in joyous and healthful play.

Like a flock of sheep or goats, as the word signifies; in great numbers, and with sweet concord; which is a singular delight to them and to their parents.

They send forth their little ones like a flock,.... Of sheep, which are creatures very increasing, and become very numerous, Psalm 144:13; to which a large increase of families may be compared, Psalm 107:41, for this is not to be interpreted of their kine sending or bringing forth such numbers as to be like a flock of sheep; but of the families of wicked men being increased in like manner; and the sending them forth to be understood either of the birth of their children being sent out or proceeding from them as plants out of the earth, or branches from a tree; or of their being sent out not to school to be instructed in useful learning, but into the streets to play, and pipe, and dance; and it may denote, as their number, so their being left to themselves, and being at liberty to do as they please, being under no restriction, nor any care taken of their education; at least in such a manner as to have a tendency to make them sober, virtuous, and useful in life:

and their children dance; either in a natural way, skip and frisk, and play like calves and lambs, and so are very diverting to their parents, as well as shows them to be in good health; which adds to their parents happiness and pleasure: or in an artificial way, being taught to dance; and it should be observed, it is "their" children, the children of the wicked, and not of the godly, that are thus brought up; so Abraham did not train up his children, nor Job his; no instance can be given of the children of good men being trained up in this manner, or of their dancing in an irreligious way; however, this proves in what a jovial way, and in what outward prosperity and pleasure, wicked men and their families live; which is the thing Job has in view, and is endeavouring to prove and establish.

They send forth their little ones {e} like a flock, and their children dance.

(e) They have healthy children and in those points he answers to that which Zophar alleged before.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. Their children, numerous like the flock and happy like the lambs, skip in their glee and sport.

Verse 11. - They send forth their little ones like a flock. Free, i.e. joyful and frolicsome, to disport themselves as they please. The picture is charmingly idyllic. And their children dance. Frisk, i.e. "and skip, and leap," like the young of cattle full of health, and in the enjoyment of plenty" (Lee). Job 21:11 7 Wherefore do the wicked live,

Become old, yea, become mighty in power?

8 Their posterity is established before them about them,

And their offspring before their eyes.

9 Their houses have peace without fear,

And the rod of Eloah cometh not upon them.

10 His (the evil-doer's) bull gendereth and faileth not;

His cow calveth easily, and casteth not her calf.

11 They let their little ones run about as a flock,

And their children jump about.

The question in Job 21:7 is the same as that which Jeremiah also puts forth, Job 12:1-3. It is the antithesis of Zophar's thesis, Job 20:5, and seeks the reason of the fact established by experience which had also well-nigh proved the ruin of Asaph (Psalm 73:comp. Malachi 3:13-15), viz., that the ungodly, far from being overtaken by the punishment of their godlessness, continued in the enjoyment of life, that they attain to old age, and also a proportionately increasing power and wealth. The verb עתק, which in Job 14:18; Job 18:4 (comp. the Hiph. Job 9:5; Job 32:15), we read in the signification promoveri, has here, like the Arabic ‛ataqa, ‛atuqa, the signification to become old, aetate provehi; and גּבר חיל, to become strong in property, is a synonym of השׂגּה חיל, to acquire constantly increasing possessions, used in a similar connection in Psalm 73:12. The first feature in the picture of the prosperity of the wicked, which the pang of being bereft of his own children brings home to Job, is that they are spared the same kind of loss: their posterity is established (נכון, constitutus, elsewhere standing in readiness, Job 12:5; Job 15:23; Job 18:12, here standing firm, as e.g., Psalm 93:2) in their sight about them (so that they have to mourn neither their loss by death nor by separation from their home), and their offspring (צאצאים, a word common only to the undisputed as well as to the disputed prophecies of Isaiah and the book of Job) before their eyes; נכון must be carried over to Job 21:8 as predicate: they are, without any loss, before their eyes. The description passes over from the children, the corner-stones of the house (vid., Ges. Thes., s.v. בנה), to the houses themselves. It is just as questionable here as in Job 5:24; Isaiah 41:3, and elsewhere, whether שׁלום is a subst. ( equals בשׁלום) or an adj.; the substantival rendering is at least equally admissible in such an elevated poetic speech, and the plur. subject בּתּיהם, which, if the predicate were intended to be taken as an adj., leads one to expect שׁלומים, decides in its favour. On מפּחד, without (far from) terrifying misfortune, as Isaiah 22:3, מקשׁת, without a bow, vid., on Job 19:26. That which is expressed in Job 21:9, according to external appearance, is in Job 21:9 referred to the final cause; Eloah's שׁבט, rod, with which He smites in punishment (Job 9:34; Job 37:13, comp. Isaiah 10:24-26, where שׁוט, scourge, interchanges with it), is not over them, i.e., threatens and smites them not.

Job 21:10 comes specially to the state of the cattle, after the state of the household in general has been treated of. Since שׁורו and פּרתו are interchangeable, and are construed according to their genus, the former undoubtedly is intended of the male, not also epikoi'noos of the female (lxx ἡ βοῦς, Jerome, Saadia), as Rosenm., after Bochart, believes it must be taken, because `br is never said de mare feminam ineunte, but always de femina quae concipit. In reality, however, it is with עבר otherwise than with עדה, whose Pael and Aphel certainly signify concipere (prop. transmittere sc. semen in a passive sense). On the other hand, עבר, even in Kal, signifies to be impregnated (whence עובר, the embryo, and the biblical אבוּר, like the extra-biblical עבּוּר, the produce of the land), the Pael consequently to impregnate, whence מעבּרא (from the part. pass. מעבּר) impregnated (pregnant), the Ithpa. to be impregnated, as Rabb. Pual מעבּרת, impregnated (by which עברת also signifies pregnant, which would be hardly possible if עבר in this sexual sense were not radically distinct from עבר, περ-ᾶν). Accordingly the Targ. translates עבּר by מבטין (impraegnans), and Gecatilia translates שׁורו by Arab. fḥlhm (admissarius eorum), after which nearly all Jewish expositors explain. This explanation also suits לא יגעל, which lxx translates οὐκ οὀμοτόκησε (Jer. non abortivit), Symm. in a like sense οὐκ ἐξέτρωσε, Aq. οὐκ εξέβαλε, Saad. la julziq. The reference of שׁורו to the female animal everywhere assumed is incorrect; on the contrary, the bullock kept for breeding is the subject; but proceeding from this, that which is affirmed is certainly referred to the female animal. For גּעל signifies to cast out, cast away; the Hiph. therefore: to cause to cast out; Rabb. in the specified signification: so to heat what has sucked in that which is unclean, that it gives it back or lets it go (לפלוט הבלוע). Accordingly Raschi explains: "he injects not useless seed into her, which might come back and be again separated (נפלט) from her inward part, without impregnation taking place." What therefore עבּר says positively, ולא יגעיל says negatively: neque efficit ut ejiciat.

(Note: The Aruch under גּעל, quotes a passage of the Tosefta: מוזרות נפשׁ היפה תאכלם גיעולי ביצים מותרים באכילה, the cast away (Wrflinge) eggs (i.e., such as have fallen away from the hen from a stroke on the tail of some other cause, and which are not completely formed) are allowed as food; he may eat them who does not loathe them.)

It is then further, in Job 21:9, said of the female animal which has been impregnated that she does not allow it to glide away, i.e., the fruit, therefore that she brings forth (פּלּט as מלּט, המליט), and that she does not cause or suffer any untimely birth.

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