Job 21:12
They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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 take the timbrel - They have instruments of cheerful music in their dwellings; and this is an evidence that they are not treated as the friends of Job had maintained. Instead of being, as they asserted, overwhelmed with calamity, they are actually happy. They have all that can make them cheerful, and their houses exhibit all that is usually the emblem of contentment and peace. Rosenmuller and Noyes suppose this to mean, "They sing to the timbrel and harp;" that is, "they raise up" (ישׂאו yı̂s'û) "the voice" to accompany the timbrel. Dr. Good renders it, "They rise up to the tabor and harp, and trip merrily to the sound of the pipe." So Wemyss. It is literally, "They rise up with the tabor;" and the word "voice" may be understood, and the meaning may be that they accompany the timbrel with the voice. The Vulgate and the Septuagint, however, render it, they "Take up the timbrel." Dr. Good supposes that the allusion is to the modes of dancing; to their raising themselves in an erect position, and then changing their position - advancing and retreating as in alternate dances, and quotes the following exquisite piece of poetry as illustrating it:

"Now pursuing, now retreating,

Now in circling troops they meet;

To brisk notes, in cadence meeting.

Glance their many-twinkling feet."

Still, it seems to me, that the exact idea has not been expressed. It is this, "They raise, or elevate (ישׂאו yı̂s'û) scil. themselves;" that is, they become exhilarated and excited at the sound of music. It is in their dwellings, and it is one of the indications of joy. Instead of lamentations and wo, as his friends said there would be in such dwellings, Job says that there was there the sound of music and mirth; that they exhilarated themselves, and were happy. On the word rendered "timbrel" (תף tôph) and the word "harp" (כנור kı̂nnôr), see the notes at Isaiah 5:12.

At the sound of the organ - The word "organ" we now apply to an instrument of music which was wholly unknown in the time of Job. With us it denotes an instrument consisting of pipes, which are filled with wind, and of stops touched by the fingers. It is the largest and most harmonious of the wind instruments, and is blown by bellows. That such an instrument was known in the time of Job, is wholly improbable, and it is not probable that it would be used for the purposes here referred to if it were known. Jerome renders it, "organ;" the Septuagint, ψαλμοῦ psalmou, "the sound of a song;" Noyes, "pipe;" Lee, "lyre;" Good and Wemyss, "pipe." The Hebrew word (עוּגב ‛ûgâb) is derived from עגב ‛âgab - to breathe, to blow; and it is manifest that the reference is to some wind instrument. Various forms of wind instruments were early invented, and this is expressly mentioned as having been early in use. Thus, it is said of Jubal Genesis 4:21, "He was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ" - עוּגב ‛ûgâb. It was probably at first a rude reed or pipe, which came ultimately to be changed to the fife and flute. It is here mentioned merely as an instrument exciting hilarity, and in the mere use of such an instrument there can be nothing improper. Job does not mean, evidently, to complain of it as wrong. He is simply showing that the wicked live in ease and prosperity, and are not subjected to trials and calamities as his friends maintained.

12. take—rather, "lift up the voice" (sing) to the note of [Umbreit].

timbrel—rather, "tambourine."

organ—not the modern "organ," but the "pipe" (Ge 4:21). The first clause refers to stringed, the latter, to wind instruments; thus, with "the voice" all kinds of music are enumerated.

No text from Poole on this verse.

They take the timbrel and harp,.... Not the children, but the parents of them; these took these instruments of music into their hands, and played upon them while their children danced; thus merrily they spent their time: or, as Jarchi and Aben Ezra, they lift up the voice with the tabret and harp; that is, while they played on these with their hands, they sung songs with their mouths; they used both vocal and instrumental music together, to make the greater harmony, and give the greater pleasure, like those in Amos 6:5;

and rejoice at the sound of the organ; a musical instrument, very pleasant and entertaining, from whence it has its name in the Hebrew tongue; but of what form it was cannot be with certainty said; that which we now so call is of later invention, and unknown in those times: probably Job may have respect to Jubal, the inventor of this sort of music, and others of the posterity of Cain before the flood, who practised it, and were delighted in it; in which they were imitated and followed by wicked men after it, and in Job's time, Genesis 4:21.

They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. And they themselves pass their days in gladness, surrounded with all the charms of life.

They take the timbrel] Rather, they sing to, i. e. to the accompaniment of, the timbrel and the lute; lit. they lift up the voice, cf. Psalm 49:4. The timbrel is the tambourine.

the sound of the organ] Rather, of the pipe, Genesis 4:21, cf. Isaiah 5:12.

Verse 12. - They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ. The "timbrel" (תפ) is probably the tambourine, an instrument used from a remote antiquity by the Orientals. It consisted of a round hoop of wood, into which were sometimes inserted jingling rings of metal, and upon which was stretched at one end a sheet of parchment. It is represented on the monuments both of Egypt and Phoenicia ('Hist. of Egypt,' vol. 1. p. 522; 'Hist. of Phoenicia,' pp. 219, 223). The harp (כִנּור) was, in the early times, a very simple instrument, consisting of a framework of wood, across which were stretched from four to seven strings, which were of catgut and of different lengths, and were sounded either with the hand or with a plectrum. The "organ" (עוּנָב) was, of course, not an organ in the modern sense of the word. It was either a pan's pipe, which is a very primitive instrument, or more probably a double reed blown from the end, like a flageolet, examples of which are found in the remains both of Egypt and Phoenicia ('Hist. of Egypt,' vol. 1. p. 524; 'Hist. of Phoenicia,' l.s c.). Job 21:1212 They raise their voice with the playing of timbrel aud harp,

And rejoice at the sound of the pipe

13 They enjoy their days in prosperity,

And in a moment they go down to Sehol.

14 And yet they said to God: "Depart from us!

We desire not the knowledge of Thy ways.

15 What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? -

And what doth it profit us that we should importune Him?" -

16 Lo! they have not their prosperity by their own hand,

The thought of the wicked be far from me!

קולם is to be supplied to ישׂאוּ in Isaiah 42:11, and instead of בּתף with בּ of the musical accompaniment (as Psalm 4:1, Psalm 49:5), it is to be read כּתף after the Masora with Kimchi, Ramban, Ralbag, and Farisol,

(Note: The Masora observes לית כותיה (not occuring thus elsewhere), and accordingly this כתף is distinguished in the Masoretic אב מן חד חד נסבין כף ברישׁיה (alphabetic list of words which take at one time the prefix כ and at another the prefix )ב, from בתף, which occurs elsewhere. The Targ. has read בטף; the reading of Raschi and Aben-Ezra is questionable.)

but not with Rosenm. to be explained: personaut velut tympano et cythera, but: they raise their voice as the timbrel and harp sound forth simultaneously; כּ, as Isaiah 18:4 (which is to be transl.: during the clear warmth of the sunshine, during the dew-clouds in the heat of harvest). תּף (Arabic duff, Spanish adufe) is τύμπανον (τύπανον), כּנּור, (Arab. canare) κινύρα or κιθάρα) Daniel 3:5), עוּגב or עגב, Job 30:31 (from עגב, flare; vid., on Genesis 4:21), the Pan-pipe (Targ. from a similar root אבּוּבא, whence the name of the ambubajae). In Job 21:13 and Keri gives the more usual יכלּוּ (Job 36:11) in place of the Chethib יבלּוּ, though יבלּוּ occurs in Isaiah 65:22 without this Keri; יכלו signifies consument, and יבלו usu deterent: they use up their life, enjoy it to the last drop. In connection with this one thinks of a coat which is not laid aside until it is entirely worn out. It is therefore not, as the friends say, that the ungodly is swept away before his time (Job 15:32), also a lingering sickness does not hand him over to death (Job 18:13), but בּרגע, in a moment (comp Job 34:20, not: in rest, i.e., freedom from pain, which רגע never signifies), they sink down to Hades (acc. loci). The matter does not admit of one's deriving the fut. יהתּוּ here, as Job 39:22, Job 31:34, from the Niph. of the verb חתת, terrore percelli; it is to be referred to נחת or נחת (Aram. for ירד), which is the only certain example of a Hebrew verb Pe Nun ending with ת, whose fut. ינחת, Psalm 38:3, also יחת (Proverbs 17:10, Jeremiah 21:13), instead of יחת, and in the inflexion its ת sti (after the analogy of יצּתּוּ, Isaiah 33:12) is doubled; as an exception (vid., Psalter, ii. 468), the lengthening of the short vowel (יחתוּ, Olsh. 83 b) by Silluk does not take place, as e.g., by Athnach, Job 34:5.

The fut. consec. ויּאמרוּ, in which Job 21:14 is continued, does not here denote temporally that which follows upon and from something else, but generally that which is inwardly connected with something else, and even with that which is contradictory, and still occurring at the same time, exactly as Genesis 19:9, 2 Samuel 3:8, comp Ew. 231, b: they sink down after a life that is completely consumed away, without a death-struggle, into Hades, and yet they denied God, would not concern themselves about His sways (comp. the similar passage, Isaiah 58:2), and accounted the service of God and prayer (פּגע בּ, precibus adire) as useless. The words of the ungodly extend to Job 21:15; according to Hirz., Hlgst., Welte, and Hahn, Job 21:16 resumes the description: behold, is not their prosperity in their hand? i.e., is it not at their free disposal? or do they not everywhere carry it away with them? But Job 21:16 is not favourable to this interrogative rendering of לא ( equals הלא). Schlottm. explains more correctly: behold, their prosperity is not in their power; but by taking not only Job 21:16 (like Schnurrer), but the whole of Job 21:16, as an utterance of an opponent, which is indeed impossible, because the declining of all fellowship with the godless would be entirely without aim in the mouth of the opponent. For it is not the fnends who draw the picture of the lot of the punishment of the godless with the most terrible lines possible, who suggest the appearance of looking wishfully towards the godless, but Job, who paints the prosperity of the godless in such brilliant colours. On the other hand, both sides are agreed in referring prosperity and misfortune to God as final cause. And for this very reason Job thinks that בּרך את־האלהים, which he makes the godless, in Job 21:14, Job 21:15, express in their own words, so horrible.

continued...

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