Job 21:21
For what pleasure hath he in his house after him, when the number of his months is cut off in the midst?
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Job 21:21. What pleasure hath he in his house after him? — As for what befalls his children when he is dead, he concerns not himself; he is not affected with their felicity or misery, irreligion commonly making men unnatural. And therefore God punishes both him and his children while he lives, Job 21:19-20. Or, the meaning may be, what delight can he take in the thoughts of the glory and happiness of his posterity, when he finds he is dying a violent and untimely death? Thus, this is a further proof, that this man is neither happy in himself, nor with reference to his posterity. When the number, &c. When that number of months, which, by his constitution, and the course of nature, he might have lived, is diminished, and cut off by the hand of violence.

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.For what pleasure hath he ... - That is, what happiness shall he have in his family? This, it seems to me, is designed to be a reference to their sentiments, or a statement by Job of what "they" maintained. They held, that a man who was wicked, could have none of the comfort which he anticipated in his children, for he would himself be cut off in the midst of life, and taken away.

When the number of his months is cut off in the midst? - When his "life" is cut off - the word "months" here being used in the sense of "life," or "years." This they had maintained, that a wicked man would be punished, by being cut off in the midst of his way; compare Job 14:21.

21. The argument of the friends, in proof of Job 21:20, What pleasure can he have from his house (children) when he is dead—("after him," Ec 3:22).

when the number, &c.—Or, rather, "What hath he to do with his children?" &c. (so the Hebrew in Ec 3:1; 8:6). It is therefore necessary that "his eyes should see his and their destruction" (see Job 14:21).

cut off—rather, when the number of his allotted months is fulfilled (Job 14:5). From an Arabic word, "arrow," which was used to draw lots with. Hence "arrow"—inevitable destiny [Umbreit].

What pleasure hath he in his house after him? or, for what desire, or care, or study hath he for or concerning (as beth is oft used)

his house, i.e. his children? When he is dead and gone, he cares not what becomes of his children, as irreligion commonly makes men unnatural; he is not concerned nor affected with their felicity or misery. See Job 14:21. And therefore God doth punish both him and his children whilst he lives, Job 21:19,20. Or thus, What delight can he take in the thoughts of the glory and happiness of his posterity, when he finds that he is dying a violent and untimely death? So this is a further proof that this man is neither happy in himself, nor with reference to his posterity.

When the number of his months is cut off in the midst; when that number of months, which by his constitution and the course of nature he might have lived, is diminished and cut off by the hand of violence.

For what pleasure hath he in his house after him,.... As, on the one hand, the prosperity of his children after his decease gives him no pleasure and delight, so, on the other hand, the calamities and distresses of his family for his sins and theirs give him no pain or uneasiness; he knows nothing that befalls them, and it is no part of his concern; and let what will befall them, he cares not for it; he feels it not, he is not sensible of it; and therefore to object that signifies nothing; see Job 14:21; or, "what business has he with his house after death?" the affairs (d) of his family do not at all concern him, one way or another; he is not affected with them; he can neither consider their happiness as a blessing nor their calamities as a punishment to him:

when the number of his months is cut off in the midst? the years, the months, and the days of the lives of men, are numbered and determined by the Lord, Job 14:5; which, when finished, the thread of life is cut off in the midst, from the rest of the months, which a man or his friends might have expected he would have lived; or rather, "when his number of the months is fully up" (e); when the calculation of them is complete, and the full number of them is perfected; the sense is, what cares a wicked man for what befalls his family after his death, when he has lived out the full term of life in great outward happiness and prosperity; has lived to be full of days, of months, and years, to a full age, even to an age that may be truly called old age?

(d) So Schultens. (e) "integro numero calculis ducti sunt", Cocceius; "cumulatam sortem habuerint", Schultens.

For what pleasure hath he in his house after him, when the number of his months is cut off in the midst?
Verse 21. ? For what pleasure hath he in his house after him? What does he care, ordinarily, about the happiness of his children and descendants? "Apres moi le deluge" is the selfish thought of bad men generally, when they cast a glance at the times which are to follow their decease. The fate of those whom they leave behind them troubles them but little. It would scarcely cause them a pang to know that their posterity would soon be "clean put out." When the number of his months is cut off in the midst; i.e. when his appointed time is come, and he knows that "the number of his months' is accomplished. Job 21:2117 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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