Job 21:19
God layeth up his iniquity for his children: he rewardeth him, and he shall know it.
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(19) God layeth up his iniquity (i.e., the punishment of it) for his children, may be the hypothetical reply of the antagonists in the mouth of Job, and the second clause his own retort: “Let him repay it to himself that he may know it.”

Job 21:19-20. God layeth up — Namely, in his treasures; his iniquity —

Or rather, the punishment of his iniquity; that is, He will punish him both in his person and in his posterity. His eyes shall see his destruction — That is, he shall be destroyed, as to see death, is to die, Psalm 89:48; Hebrews 11:5; and to see affliction, or any kind of evil, is to feel it, Psalm 90:15; and to see good, is to enjoy it, Job 7:7; Job 9:25. Or, this phrase may be emphatical; he shall foresee his ruin hastening toward him, and not be able to prevent or avoid it: he shall sensibly feel himself sinking and perishing, which aggravates his misery. He shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty — Not sip or taste, but drink; which word commonly denotes receiving abundance of the thing spoken of.

21:17-26 Job had described the prosperity of wicked people; in these verses he opposes this to what his friends had maintained about their certain ruin in this life. He reconciles this to the holiness and justice of God. Even while they prosper thus, they are light and worthless, of no account with God, or with wise men. In the height of their pomp and power, there is but a step between them and ruin. Job refers the difference Providence makes between one wicked man and another, into the wisdom of God. He is Judge of all the earth, and he will do right. So vast is the disproportion between time and eternity, that if hell be the lot of every sinner at last, it makes little difference if one goes singing thither, and another sighing. If one wicked man die in a palace, and another in a dungeon, the worm that dies not, and the fire that is not quenched, will be the same to them. Thus differences in this world are not worth perplexing ourselves about.God layeth up his iniquity for his children - Margin, that is, "the punishment of iniquity." This is a reference evidently to the opinion which "they" had maintained. It may be rendered, "You say that God layeth up iniquity," etc. They had affirmed that not only did God, as a great law, punish the wicked in this life, but that the consequences of their sins passed over to their posterity; or, if "they" were not punished, yet the calamity would certainly come on their descendants; see Job 18:19-20; Job 20:10, Job 20:28. This is the objection which Job now adverts to. The statement of the objection, it seems to me, continues to Job 21:22, where Job says, that no one can teach God knowledge, or prescribe to him what he should do, and then goes on to say, that the "fact" was far different from what they maintained; that there was no such exact distribution of punishments; but that one died in full strength, and another in the bitterness of his soul, and both laid down in the dust, together. This view seems to me to give better sense than any other interpretation which I have seen proposed.

He rewardeth him, and he shall know it - That is, you maintain that God will certainly reward him in this life, and that his dealings with him shall so exactly express the divine view of his conduct, that he shall certainly know what God thinks of his character. This opinion they had maintained throughout the argument, and this Job as constantly called in question.

19. Equally questionable is the friends' assertion that if the godless himself is not punished, the children are (Job 18:19; 20:10); and that God rewardeth him here for his iniquity, and that he shall know it to his cost. So "know" (Ho 9:7). God layeth up, to wit, in his treasures, Romans 2:5.

His iniquity, or rather, the punishment of his iniquity, i.e. he will punish him both in his person and in his posterity.

He shall know it, i.e. he shall live to see the destruction of his children.

God layeth up his iniquity for his children,.... This is a prevention of an objection which Job foresaw his friends would make, and therefore takes it up and answers to it; you will say, that, be it so, that the wicked are for the most part prosperous, and their prosperity continues; God does not punish them now for their sins in their own persons, yet he will punish them in their children, for whom he reserves the punishment of their iniquity: this way go many of the Jewish commentators (y), in which they are followed by many Christian interpreters (z); and, as it seems, very rightly; now this Job grants, that so it is, God takes notice of the iniquities of men, and lays them up in his mind, and puts them down in the book of his remembrance; he reserves the punishment of their iniquities for their children, iniquity being often put for the punishment of it; this is laid up among his stores of vengeance, and is treasured up against the day of wrath; and when they have filled up the measure of their father's sins by their own transgressions, the deserved punishment shall be inflicted, according to Exodus 20:5; but this will not clear the case, nor support the notions and sentiments of Job's friends, who had all along given out, that wicked men are punished themselves as well as their children; and that, if they are at any time in prosperous circumstances, it is only for a little while; and therefore agreeably to such notions God should take other methods with them, not punish their children only, but themselves, as Job argues in answer to the objection in Job 21:18,

he rewarded him, and he shall know it; or "he should reward him, and he should know it" (a); and so the word "should" is to be put instead of "shall" in Job 21:20, which directs to the true sense of these clauses: and the meaning of Job is, that according to the sentiments of his friends, God should reward a wicked man while he lives in his own body, and not in his posterity only; he should render to them a just recompence of reward of their evil works, the demerit of their sins; and in such a manner, that they should know it, be sensible of it, and feel it themselves, and perceive the evil of sin in the punishment of it; see Hosea 9:7.

(y) Nachmanides, Jarchi, Ben Gersom, Bar Tzemach. (z) Beza, Cocceius, Schultens. (a) "redderet illi, et (hoc) sciret", Beza; "retribueret ipsi potius, et sentiret", Cocceius.

God layeth up his iniquity for his children: he rewardeth him, and he shall know it.
19–21. A conceivable objection, and its answer by Job. The verses read,

19.  God (say ye) layeth up his iniquity for his children.—

Let him recompense it unto himself, that he may know it;

20.  Let his own eyes see his destruction,

And let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty;

21.  For what concern hath he in his house after him,

When the number of his months is cut off?

To his argument that the wicked suffer no calamities Job supposes that his friends may object, founding on the old doctrine of retribution, that if the man himself do not suffer, his children shall be visited for his iniquity (Exodus 20:5); and his answer is, Let the man himself suffer. The expression “that he may know it” means “that he may feel it.”

The word “concern” means “pleasure” as A. V., but also, interest in, care for; so Coverdale, For what careth he what become of his household after his death? The phrase “when the number of his months is cut off” means, when his life is ended. The words might also mean, when the (full) number of his months is dealt out, distributed to himself—when his own life is prolonged to its full measure. But it is not necessary to regard the wicked man as so abandoned as to be destitute of interest in his children even in his life-time, and indifferent to their fate provided his own days be prolonged. Job’s objection to the doctrine that a man’s iniquity is visited on his children is that this is no punishment of the wicked man himself, for he hath no concern in or knowledge of his children’s fate after his death (ch. Job 14:21). From the Prophetic Books of this age it appears that the ancient doctrine of retribution, the doctrine that the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge (Ezekiel 18:2), had begun to awaken questionings, cf. Jeremiah 31:29 seq., and in this book such doubts are, naturally, brought to a point.

Verse 19. - God layeth up his iniquity for his children. Job supposes his opponents to make this answer to his arguments. "God," they may say, "punishes the wicked man in his children" (comp. Exodus 20:5). Job does not deny that he may do so, but suggests a better course in the next sentence. He rewardeth him; rather, let him recompense it on himself - let him make the wicked man himself suffer, and then he shall know it. He shall perceive and know that he is receiving the due reward of his wickedness. Job 21:1917 How rarely is the light of the wicked put out,

And their calamity breaketh in upon them,

That He distributeth snares in his wrath,

18 That they become as straw before the wind,

And as chaff which the storm sweepeth away!?

19 "Eloah layeth up his iniquity for his children!"

May He recompense it to him that he may feel it.

20 May his own eyes see his ruin,

And let him drink of the glowing wrath of the Almighty.

21 For what careth he for his house after him,

When the number of his months is cut off?

The interrogative כּמּה has here the same signification as in Psalm 78:40 : how often (comp. Job 7:19, how long? Job 13:23, how many?), but in the sense of "how seldom?!" How seldom does what the friends preach to him come to pass, that the lamp of the wicked is put out (thus Bildad, Job 13:5), and their misfortune breaks in upon them (יבא, ingruit; thus Bildad, Job 18:12 : misfortune, איד, prop. pressure of suffering, stands ready for his fall), that He distributes (comp. Zophar's "this is the portion of the wicked man," i.e., what is allotted to him, Job 20:29) snares in His wrath. Hirz., Ew., Schlottm., and others, translate הבלים, after the precedent of the Targ. (עדבין, sortes), "lots," since they understand it, after Psalm 16:6, of visitations of punishment allotted, and as it were measured out with a measuring-line; but that passage is to be translated, "the measuring-lines have fallen to me in pleasant places," and indeed חבל can signify the land that is allotted to one (Joshua 17:14, comp. Joshua 17:5); but the plural does not occur in that tropical sense, and if it were so intended here, חבליהם or חבלים להם might at least be expected. Rosenm., Ges., Vaih., and Carey transl. with lxx and Jer. (ὠδῖνες, dolores) "pains," but הבלים is the peculiar word for the writhings of those in travail (Job 39:3), which is not suited here. Schnurr. and Umbr. are nearer to the correct interpretation when they understand חבלים like פחים, Psalm 11:6, of lightning, as it were fiery strings cast down from above. If we call to mind in how many ways Bildad, Job 18:8-10, has represented the end of the godless as a divinely decreed seizure, it is certainly the most natural, with Stick. and Hahn, to translate (as if it were Arabic ḥabâ'ilin) "snares," to be understood after the idea, however, not of lightning, but generally of ensnaring destinies (e.g., חבלי עני, Job 36:8).

Both Job 21:17 with its three members and Job 21:18 with two, are under the control of כמה. The figure of straw, or rather chopped straw (Arab. tibn, tabn), occurs only here. The figure of chaff is more frequent, e.g., Psalm 1:4. Job here puts in the form of a question what Psalm 1:1-6 maintains, being urged on by Zophar's false application and superficial comprehension of the truth expressed in the opening of the Psalter. What next follows in Job 21:19 is an objection of the friends in vindication of their thesis, which he anticipates and answers; perhaps the clause is to be spoken with an interrogative accent: Eloah will - so ye object - reserve his evil for his children? אונו, not from און, strength, wealth, as Job 18:7, Job 18:12; Job 20:10; Job 40:16, but from און, wickedness (Job 11:11) and evil (Job 15:35), here (without making it clear which) of wickedness punishing itself by calamity, or of calamity which must come forth from the wickedness as a moral necessity comp. on Job 15:31. That this is really the opinion of the friends: God punishes the guilt of the godless, if not in himself, at least in his children, is seen from Job 20:10; Job 5:4. Job as little as Ezekiel, ch. 18, disputes the doctrine of retribution in itself, but that imperfect apprehension, which, in order that the necessary satisfaction may be rendered to divine justice, maintains a transfer of the punishment which is opposed to the very nature of personality and freedom: may He recompense him himself, וידע, that he may feel it, i.e., repent (which would be in Arab. in a similar sense, faja'lamu; ידע as Isaiah 9:8; Hosea 9:7; Ezekiel 25:14).

Job 21:20 continues in the same jussive forms; the ἅπ. γεγρ. כּיד signifies destruction (prop. a thrust, blow), in which sense the Arab. caid (commonly: cunning) is also sometimes used. The primary signification of the root כד, Arab. kd, is to strike, push; from this, in the stems Arab. kâd, med. Wau and med. Je, Arab. kdd, kdkd, the most diversified turns and applications are developed; from it the signif. of כּידוד, Job 41:11, כּידון, Job 39:23, and according to Fleischer (vid., supra, pp. 388) also of כּידור, are explained. Job 21:20, as Psalm 60:5; Obadiah 1:16, refers to the figure of the cup of the wrath of God which is worked out by Asaph, Psalm 75:9, and then by the prophets, and by the apocalyptic seer in the New Testament. The emphasis lies on the signs of the person in עינו (עיניו) and ישׁתּה. The rather may his own eyes see his ruin, may he himself have to drink of the divine wrath; for what is his interest (what interest has he) in his house after him? מה puts a question with a negative meaning (hence Arab. mâ is directly used as non); חפץ, prop. inclination, corresponds exactly to the word "interest" (quid ejus interest), as Job 22:3, comp. Isaiah 58:3, Isaiah 58:13 (following his own interest), without being weakened to the signification, affair, πραγμα, a meaning which does not occur in our poet or in Isaiah. JObadiah 21:21 is added as a circumstantial clause to the question in Job 21:21: while the number of his own months ... , and the predicate, as in Job 15:20 (which see), is in the plur. per attractionem. Schnurr., Hirz., Umbr., and others explain: if the number of his months is drawn by lot, i.e., is run out; but חצץ as v. denom. from חץ morf, in the signification to shake up arrows as sticks for drawing lots (Arab. sahm, an arrow and a lot, just so Persian tı̂r) in the helmet or elsewhere (comp. Ezekiel 21:26), is foreign to the usage of the Hebrew language (for מחצצים, Judges 5:11, signifies not those drawing lots, but the archers); besides, חצּץ (pass. חצּץ) would signify "to draw lots," not "to dispose of by lot," and "disposed of by lot" is an awkward metaphor for "run out." Cocceius also gives the choice of returning to חצץ, ψῆφος, in connection with this derivation: calculati sive ad calculum, i.e., pleno numero egressi, which has still less ground. Better Ges., Ew., and others: if the number of his months is distributed, i.e., to him, so that he (this is the meaning according to Ew.) can at least enjoy his prosperity undisturbed within the limit of life appointed to him. By this interpretation one misses the לו which is wanting, and an interpretation which does not require it to be supplied is therefore to be preferred. All the divers significations of the verbs חצץ (to divide, whence Proverbs 30:27, חצץ, forming divisions, i.e., in rank and file, denom. to shoot with the arrow, Talm. to distribute, to halve, to form a partition), חצה (to divide, Job 40:20; to divide in two equal parts), Arab. hṣṣ (to divide, whence Arab. hṣṣah, portio), and Arab. chṣṣ (to separate, particularize) - to which, however, Arab. chṭṭ (to draw, write), which Ew. compares here, does not belong - are referable to the primary signification scindere, to cut through, split (whence חץ, an arrow, lxx 1 Samuel 20:20, σχίζα); accordingly the present passage is to be explained: when the number of his months is cut off (Hlgst., Hahn), or cut through, i.e., when a bound is set to the course of his life at which it ends (comp. בּצּע, of the cutting off of the thread of life, Job 6:9; Job 27:8, Arab. ṣrm). Job 14:21., Ecclesiastes 3:22, are parallels to Job 21:21. Death is the end of all clear thought and perception. If therefore the godless receives the reward of his deeds, he should receive it not in his children, but in his own body during life. But this is the very thing that is too frequently found to be wanting.

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