Job 21:12
They take the tambourine and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.
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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.
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.). 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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