Job 21:14
Therefore they say to God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of your ways.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) Therefore they say unto God.—Should be, Yet they said unto God, Depart from us, &c.

Job 21:14. Therefore — Because of their constant prosperity, they say unto God — Sometimes in words, but commonly in their thoughts and affections, and by the language of their lives, Depart from us — Let us not be troubled with the apprehension of our being under God’s eye, nor be restrained by the fear of him. Or, they bid him depart as one they do not need, nor have any occasion to apply to for help or comfort. The world is the portion which they have chosen, and with which they are satisfied, and in which they think themselves happy, and while they have that they can live without God. Justly will God say to them, Depart, who have bid him depart; and justly doth he now take them at their word. We desire not the knowledge of thy ways — Much less the practice of them. They that are resolved not to walk in God’s ways, desire not to know them, because their knowledge would be a continual reproach to their disobedience.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.Therefore - This would seem to indicate that the "result" of their living in this manner was that they rejected God, or that one of the consequences of their being prospered would be that they would cast off his government and authority; that they renounced him "because" they were thus prosperous, or because they wished to train up their children in merriment and dancing. All this may be true in itself, but that idea is not in the Hebrew. That is simply "and they say" - ויאמרו vayo'âmarû. So the Vulgate; the Septuagint; the Chaldee - ואמרו; and the Syriac. The word "therefore" should not have been inserted. Job is not affirming that their mode of life is a "reason" why they reject the claims of God, but that it is a simple "fact" that they "do" live, even in this prosperity, in the neglect of God. This is the gist of what he is saying, that being thus wicked they were in fact prospered, and not punished as his friends had maintained.

They say unto God - This is the language of their conduct. Men do not often formally and openly say this; but it is the language of their deportment.

Depart from us - This is about all that the wicked say of God. "They wish him to let them alone." They do not desire that he would come into their habitations; they would be glad never more to hear his name. Yet what a state of mind is this! What must be the condition and character of the human heart when this desire is felt?

We desire not the knowledge of thy ways - We have no wish to become acquainted with God. His "ways" here mean his government, his law, his claims - whatever God does. Never was there a better description of the feelings of the human heart than is here expressed. The ways of God are displeasing to people, and they seek to crowd from their minds all respect to his commandments and claims. Yet, if this is the character of man, assuredly he is very far from being a holy being. What higher proof of depravity can there be, than that a man has no desire to know anything about a pure and holy God; no pleasure in becoming acquainted with his Maker!

14. Therefore—rather, "And yet they are such as say," &c., that is, say, not in so many words, but virtually, by their conduct (so the Gergesenes, Mt 8:34). How differently the godly (Isa 2:3).

ways—The course of action, which God points out; as in Ps 50:23, Margin.

Therefore; because of their constant prosperity. Heb. and, or yet. Though God be so gracious to them, yet they say and do thus to him.

They say; sometimes in words, but commonly in their thoughts and affections, and the language of their lives: see Psalm 14:1 36:1,2 Mal 3:14,15 Tit 1:16.

We desire not the knowledge of thy laws,

much less the practice. Therefore they say unto God,.... While in health and life, amidst all their outward prosperity, and because of it; for worldly riches have this tendency, to make men proud and insolent, and not only to behave ill to their fellow creatures, and to slight and despise them; but even to forsake God, and lightly esteem their Creator and benefactor; yea, even to kick against him, and oppose him, to set their mouths against him, and speak very contemptuously and blasphemously of him, as in the following words; which though not expressly uttered and pronounced, which yet may have been by some, however are conceived in the mind, and inwardly spoken; and by their lives and conversations outwardly declared and abundantly proclaimed:

depart from us; not as to his general presence, which cannot be, and without which they would not be able to subsist; God is everywhere, and near to everyone, and all live, and move, and have their being, in him; nor as to his spiritual presence, which wicked men know nothing of, and are unconcerned about; but they do not choose to have him so near them as that their minds should be conversant about him; they do not care to have him in their thoughts, they are desirous if possible of banishing him out of their minds; they would live without thinking of God, or thinking that there is a God in the world, for such a thought makes them uneasy; they do not love to have their consciences awakened by him, so as to check and accuse for what they do; they had rather have them cauterized or seared, as with a red hot iron, and be past feeling, that they may go on in their sinful courses without control: this is the just character of a worldling, who is afraid he shall be a loser by God and religion, should he attend thereunto; and therefore, as the Gergesenes for a like reason desired Christ to depart out of their coasts, so such desire God to depart from them, Matthew 8:28; and of the epicure, whose God is his belly, and that only; and most righteously will it be said to such at the last day, "depart from me"; this will be a just retaliation:

for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways; the ways which God prescribes, directs, and enjoins men to walk in, even the ways of his commandments; these are unknown to men, until shown and taught them; but wicked men do not desire to be instructed in them; they have no pleasure and delight neither in them, nor in the knowledge of them; they fancy there is no pleasure to be had in them, and they think they have got into a much more pleasant way, which they have chosen, and their souls delight in; though destruction and misery are in it, and it leads into it: they wilfully affect ignorance of the ways of God; they do not care to come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved, their consciences be made uneasy, and they not able to go on so peaceably and quietly in their own ways.

Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the {g} knowledge of thy ways.

(g) They desire nothing more than to be exempt from all subjection that they should bear to God, thus Job shows his adversaries, that if they reason only by that which is seen by common experience the wicked who hate God are better dealt withal than they who love him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14, 15. All this joy and prosperity they enjoyed though they had bidden God depart from them and renounced His service.

Therefore they say] Rather, though (lit. and) they said. Their godlessness was not merely that of passion, it was almost formal and reasoned. Coverdale’s rendering of the words, Who is the Almighty? is quaint and vigorous, “What maner of felowe is the Almightie that we shulde serve him?”Verse 14. - Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us. It is this impunity which leads the wicked to renounce God altogether. They think that they get on very well without God, and consequently have no need to serve him. Job puts their thoughts into words (vers. 14, 15), and thus very graphically represents their tone of feeling. For we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. The wicked feel no interest in God; they do not trouble themselves about him; his ways are "far above out of their sight," and they do not care to know them. 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.

continued...

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