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). 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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