Job 21:11
They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance.
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(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.


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.

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). 1 Then began Job, and said:

2 Hear, oh hear, my speech,

And let this be instead of your consolations.

3 Suffer me, and I will speak,

And after I have spoken thou mayest mock.

4 As for me, then, doth my complaint concern man,

Or wherefore should I not become impatient?

5 Turn ye to me and be astonished,

And lay your hand upon your mouth.

6 Even if I think of it I am bewildered,

And my flesh taketh hold on trembling - :

The friends, far from being able to solve the enigma of Job's affliction, do not once recognise the mystery as such. They cut the knot by wounding Job most deeply by ever more and more frivolous accusations. Therefore he entreats them to be at least willing to listen (שׁמעוּ with the gerund) to his utterance (מלּה) respecting the unsolved enigma; then (Waw apodosis imper.) shall this attention supply the place of their consolations, i.e., be comforting to him, which their previous supposed consolations could not be. They are to bear with him, i.e., without interruption allow him to answer for himself (שׂאוּני with Kametz before the tone, as Jonah 1:12, comp. קחהוּ, 1 Kings 20:33, not as Hirz. thinks under the influence of the distinctive accent, but according to the established rule, Ges. 60, rem. 1); then he will speak (אנכי contrast to the "ye" in שׂאוני without further force), and after he has expressed himself they may mock. It is, however, not תלעיגוּ (as Olshausen corrects), but תלעיג (in a voluntative signific. equals תלעג), since Job here addresses himself specially to Zophar, the whole of whose last speech must have left the impression on him of a bitter sarcasm (sarkasmo's from sarka'zein in the sense of Job 19:22), and has dealt him the freshest deep blow. In Job 21:4 שׂיחת is not to be understood otherwise than as in Job 7:13; Job 9:27; Job 10:1; Job 23:2, and is to be translated "my complaint." Then the prominently placed אנכי is to be taken, after Ezekiel 33:17, Ges. 121, 3, as an emphatic strengthening of the "my": he places his complaint in contrast with another. This emphasizing is not easily understood, if one, with Hupf., explains: nonne hominis est querela mea, so that ה is equivalent to הלא (which here in the double question is doubly doubtful), and ל is the sign of the cause. Schultens and Berg, who translate לאדם more humano, explain similarly, by again bringing their suspicious ל comparativum

(Note: In the passage from Ibn-Kissa quoted above, p. 421, Schultens, as Fleischer assures me, has erroneously read Arab. lmchâlı̂b instead of kmchâlı̂b, having been misled by the frequent failing of the upper stroke of the Arab. k, and in general Arab. l is never equals k, and also ל never equals כ, as has been imagined since Schultens.)

here to bear upon it. The ל by שׂיחי (if it may not also be compared with Job 12:8) may certainly be expected to denote those to whom the complaint is addressed. We translate: As for me, then, does my complaint concern men? The אנכי which is placed at the beginning of the sentence comes no less under the rule, Ges. 145, 2, than 121, 3. In general, sufferers seek to obtain alleviation of their sufferings by imploring by words and groans the pity of sympathizing men; the complaint, however, which the three hear from him is of a different kind, for he has long since given up the hope of human sympathy, - his complaint concerns not men, but God (comp. Job 16:20).


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