Job 21:13
They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave.
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(13) In a moment.—They go down to death without being made to feel the lingering tortures that Job had to undergo.

Job 21:13. They spend their days in wealth — Hebrews בשׂוב, batob, in good: εν αγαθοις, LXX., in good things: in deliciis, in delights, Arab. ver: that is, in the enjoyment of all the good things of this life without any mixture of evil. And in a moment go down to the grave — They do not die of a lingering disease, as many good men die, but suddenly and sweetly.

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 spend their days in wealth - Margin, or, "mirth." Literally, "they wear out their days in good" - בטוב baṭôb. Vulgate "in bonis." Septuagint, ἐν ἀγαθοῖς en agathois - "in good things;" in the enjoyment of good. They are not oppressed with the evils of poverty and want, but they have abundance of "the good things" of life.

And in a moment go down to the grave - Hebrew to שׁאול she'ôl - but here meaning evidently the grave. The idea is, that when they die they are not afflicted with lingering disease, and great bodily pain, but having lived to an old age in the midst of comforts, they drop off suddenly and quietly, and sleep in the grave. God gives them prosperity while they live, and when they come to die he does not come forth with the severe expressions of his displeasure, and oppress them with long and lingering sickness. The author of Psalm 73 had a view of the death of the wicked remarkably similar to this, when he said,

For I was envious at the foolish,

When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

For there are no bands in their death,

But their strength is firm. Psalm 73:3-4.

All that Job says here is predicated on the supposition that such a sudden removal is preferable to death accompanied with long and lingering illness. The idea is, that it is in itself "desirable" to live in tranquility; to reach an honorable old age surrounded by children and friends, and then quietly and suddenly to drop into the grave without being a burden to friends. The wicked, he says, often live such a life, and he infers, therefore, that it is not a fact that God deals with people according to their character in this life, and that it is not right to draw an inference respecting their moral character from his dealings with them in this world. There are instances enough occurring in every age like those supposed here by Job, to justify the conclusion which he draws.

13. wealth—Old English Version for "prosperity."

in a moment—not by a lingering disease. Great blessings! Lengthened life with prosperity, and a sudden painless death (Ps 73:4).

In wealth; in good, i.e. in the enjoyment of all the good things of this life, without any mixture of evil. They do not die of a lingering and tormenting disease, as I now and many other good men die, but suddenly and sweetly, like lambs; as is usually said in such cases.

They spend their days in wealth,.... Or "in good" (p); not in the performance of good works, or in the exercise of that which is spiritually good; or in seeking after spiritual good things, or eternal happiness; but in earthly good, in the enjoyment of the temporal good things of this life, and which to enjoy in a moderate and becoming manner is not criminal, but commendable; but these men, and such as they, seek no other good but worldly good; their language is, "who will show us any good?" Psalm 4:6; any outward good; the way to get it, how to come at it, and be put in the possession of it: such place all their happiness in such sort of good, and spend all their time either in getting it, or in enjoying it, and in nothing else; not in spiritual exercises, in prayer, or praise, in their own houses, in private; nor in an attendance on the worship of God in public; it denotes also their continuance in prosperity unto the end of their days; for there is a various reading; we follow the Keri or margin, but the "Cetib", or writing, is, "they become old" (q); in wealth, or good things, and which is followed by many; they live all their days in the midst of wealth and riches, and die in such circumstances, contrary to what Zophar had asserted in Job 20:5;

and in a moment go down to the grave; the house appointed for all living, man's long home, into which he is said to go down, because let down and interred in the earth; hither wicked men must come, after all their wealth, riches, prosperity, and pleasure; and hither they descend "in a moment"; suddenly, no previous change being made in their outward circumstances; and without any presage or forenotice of it, without any lingering disease and sickness leading on to it, there being no bands in their death, nothing to hinder and restrain from dying; but they drop at once into the grave, without sickness or pain: or "in rest", or "quietly" (r); being wholly at ease and quiet, as in Job 21:23; not only free from acute pains and grievous distempers, as burning fevers, and violent tortures, and racks of the stone, and other distressing disorders; but without any distress of mind, ignorant of their state and condition, and unconcerned about it; as they are at ease from their youth, and settled on their lees, they remain so, and go out of the world in like manner; and as sheep are laid in the grave, die senseless and stupid, having no thought in their last moments what will become of them in another world: some render it, "they go down to hell" (s); the state and place of the wicked after death; which, though true, seems not so agreeable to Job's scope and design, which is not to describe the punishment of the wicked, but their easy circumstances in life and in death; and so the Jewish commentators generally understand it. Aben Ezra's note is,

"in a moment, without afflictions;''


"quietly, without chastisements;''

and Bar Tzemach,

"without evil diseases;''

having nothing to distress them in body or mind, when many a good man lies long on a bed of languishing, tortured with diseases, chastened with sore pain, and his life gradually draws near to the grave, and to the destroyers.

(p) "in bono", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, &c. (q) "vetustate terent", Montanus; "veterascunt", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus; "vetusti fiunt", Cocceius; "ad senectam deterunt", Schultens. (r) "quiete", Pagninus; "in quiete", Vatablus. (s) "ad inferna", V. L. "ad infernum", Cocceius; "in infernum", Schmidt.

They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment {f} go down to the grave.

(f) Not being tormented with long sickness.

13. in wealth] i. e. weal, prosperity. The word has not here its modern meaning of riches, but its older, more general sense:—“in all time of our tribulation, in all time of our wealth … good Lord deliver us.” The Litany.

to the grave] Heb., to Sheol. They die in a moment without pain—there are no bands in their death, Psalm 73:4. This idyllic picture of a joyous untroubled life, rich in possessions and filled with all that gives a charm to existence, and having a peaceful close, forms the counterpart to the picture drawn by the friends of the troubled conscience, Job 15:20, the early death, Job 20:11, the childless solitariness, Job 18:19, and the disastrous end, Job 20:24, of the wicked man.

Verse 13. - They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave. They die, i.e. without suffering from any prolonged or severe illness, such as that grievous affliction from which Job himself was suffering. Probably Job does not mean to maintain all this absolutely, or as universally the case, but he wishes to force his friends to acknowledge that there are many exceptions to their universal law, that wickedness is always visited in this world with condign punishment, and he wants them to account for them exceptions (see ver. 7). Job 21:1312 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.


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