Job 21:23
One dies in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet.
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(23) One dieth.—Job enlarges on the inequality of human fate, showing that death is the only equaliser.

Job 21:23-24. One dieth in his full strength — In a state of perfect health, and strength, and prosperity; all which this phrase implies. His breasts are full of milk — The Hebrew word, עשׂין, gnatin, here rendered breasts, is not elsewhere used in Scripture, and therefore is translated different ways. Houbigant renders the clause, When his bowels are loaden with fatness. Others, When his milk-pails are full of milk; or, his oil-vessels are full of fatness. And his bones are moistened with marrow — Which is opposed to that dryness of the bones (Job 30:30; Psalm 102:3;) which is caused by old age or grievous distempers and calamities.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.One dieth in his full strength - Margin, "very perfection," or, "in the strength of his perfection." The meaning is, that he dies in the very prime and vigor of life, surrounded with everything that can contribute to comfort. Of the truth of this position, no one can doubt; and the wonder is, that the friends of Job had not seen or admitted it.

Being wholly at ease and quiet - That is, having everything to make them happy, so far as external circumstances are concerned. He is borne down by no calamities; he is overwhelmed by no sudden and heavy judgments. The phrase in this verse rendered "full strength" (תמו בעצם be‛etsem tômô), is literally, "in the bone of his perfection." It means full prosperity.

23. Literally, "in the bone of his perfection," that is, the full strength of unimpaired prosperity [Umbreit]. One, to wit, either,

1. One of these wicked men, of whose condition he is here speaking. Or,

2. Any one man, whether good or bad. In his full strength; in a state of perfect health, and strength, and prosperity; all which this phrase implies. One dieth in his full strength,.... Man is born a weak feeble creature, and it is by degrees, and through various stages of infancy, childhood, and youth, that he arrives to his full strength in manhood; and, when he does, sometimes so it is, that his strength is not weakened in the course of his life by a train of disorders and diseases, as it is in some; but death seizes and carries him off in the prime of his days, and in the fulness of his strength; for no strength of man, even the greatest, is a security against death: thousands die before they come to their full strength, and multitudes after it begins to decay; and when it is almost wasted, through the force of distempers, or the infirmities of old age, and others, as here, when their strength is in its highest rigour and utmost perfection, and all as God pleases: the words may be rendered "in the strength of his integrity", or "of his perfection" (f); in the Targum and Ben Gersom, and so Mr. Broughton, "in his very perfection"; and the word is sometimes used, in a moral and spiritual sense, of the integrity of a man's heart, and the uprightness of his ways and walk, and of the perfection of his state God-ward; see Job 1:1; and such a man who is upright in heart and conversation, who is truly gracious, sincerely a good man, and perfect through the complete righteousness of Christ, he dies such, his integrity continues with him to the last; and his graces being brought to maturity, he comes to his grave like a shock of corn in its season, and is found in the perfect righteousness of his living Redeemer: but it seems best to take the words in a natural and literal sense, as before; or to interpret them of the fulness of outward felicity, which some men arrive unto, and die in the midst of, when they have got to the highest degree of honour and grandeur, and attained to the greatest degree of wealth and riches, it could well be supposed they would; and then, when in the perfection of it, have been taken away by death; both these senses may stand together: it follows,

being wholly at ease and quiet; in easy circumstances, having an affluence of all good things, and nothing to disturb them, nor are in trouble as others, or plagued as they be; having all that heart can wish, or more, and without any pains of body, at least any long and continued ones; while others are attended with them, days, and months, and years, before their death, Job 33:19; whereas these go down to the grave in a moment, feeling little or no pain, and are quiet and easy in their minds, thoughtless of a future state, and unconcerned how it will be with them in another world; having no sight nor sense of sin, of the evil nature and just demerit of it, feel not the weight and burden of it in their consciences; have no concern or grief of mind for sins of omission or commission, no godly sorrow for it, or repentance of it, nor any fears of wrath and ruin, hell and damnation; but as they are at ease from their youth, with respect to those things, so they live and so they die, secure, stupid, and senseless. Some interpret this of good men (g); and it is not to be wondered at that a man that dies in his integrity, in the perfection of grace, holiness, and righteousness, should be at ease and quiet; who has an interest in the God of peace, whose peace is made by the blood of Christ, his Peacemaker, and who has a conscience peace arising from a comfortable view of the peace speaking blood, righteousness, and sacrifice of the Mediator; who knows his state is safe, being interested in everlasting love, in an unchangeable covenant in God, as his covenant God, in Jesus his living Redeemer; and knows where he is going, to heaven, to happiness and glory, to be with God, with Christ, with holy angels and glorified saints: but the former sense seems best, of a man dying in easy circumstances, without pain of booty, or distress of mind, whether we understand it of a good man or bad man, though the latter is rather meant.

(f) "in fortitudine perfectionis suae", Pagninus; so Junius and Tremellius, Piscator; "in fortitudine integritatis suae", Montanus, Bolducius; so Drusius, Mercerus. (g) So Schmidt.

One {m} dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet.

(m) Meaning, the wicked.

23. in his full strength] lit. in his very perfection, or completeness, meaning, in the full enjoyment of all that made his lot complete, wanting nothing—as the second clause explains.Verse 23. - One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet. Some continue healthy and vigorous in body, peaceful and satisfied in mind, up to the very moment of their departure (comp. ver. 13, "They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave"). 17 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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