Job 21:26
They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(26) They shall lie down alike in the dust.—Not only, therefore, is the inequality of their life a stumbling-block, but so also is the equality which obliterates all distinction between them in death.

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.They shall lie down alike in the dust - The emphasis here is on the word "alike" - יחד yachad. The idea is, that they should die "in a similar manner." There would be no such difference in the mode of their death as to determine anything about their character or to show that one was the friend of God, and that the other was not. The friends of Job had maintained, that that could be certainly known by the divine dealings with people, either in their life, or in their death. Job combats this opinion, and says, that there is no such marked distinction in their life, nor is there any certain indication of their character in their death. Prosperity often attends the wicked as well as the righteous, and the death of the righteous and the wicked resemble each other.

And the worms shall cover them - Cover them "both." They shall alike moulder back to dust. There is no distinction in the grave. There is no difference in the manner in which they moulder back to dust. No argument can be drawn respecting their character from the divine dealings toward them when in life - none from the manner of their death - none from the mode in which they moulder back to dust. On the reference to the "worm" here, see the notes at Job 14:11.

26. (Ec 9:2). All these worldly differences are ended by death, and they lie in the grave without any distinction, till the time of general resurrection and judgment comes. So that no man can tell who is good, and who is bad, by any events which befall them in this life.

They shall lie down alike in the dust,.... Such as have lived and died in great outward prosperity, or in more unhappy circumstances; these are levelled by death, and brought into the same state and condition; are laid on dusty beds, where there is no difference between them, their rest together is in the dust; here they dwell, and here they lie and sleep until they are awaked in the morning of the resurrection:

and the worms shall cover them; these are the companions alike unto them, and sweetly feed on the one as on the other; the earth is their bed, and worms are their covering; even such who used to lie on beds of down, and were covered with coverings of silk, have now the same bed and covering as those who used to lie on beds of straw, and scarce any thing to cover them; worms are spread under them, and are spread upon them; they are both their bed and their covering, Isaiah 14:11.

They shall lie down alike in {o} the dust, and the worms shall cover them.

(o) As concerning their bodies: and this he speaks according to the common judgment.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
26. Wholly different in life the two are alike in death; cf. Ecclesiastes 2:15 seq.

They shall lie down] They lie down. Similarly, the worms cover.

Verse 26. - They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them. However different the circumstances of their life, men are alike in their death. One event happens to all. All die, are laid in the dust, and become the prey of worms. Job 21:2622 Shall one teach God knowledge,

Who judgeth those who are in heaven?

23 One dieth in his full strength,

Being still cheerful and free from care.

24 His troughs are full of milk,

And the marrow of his bones is well watered.

25 And another dieth with a sorrowing spirit,

And hath not enjoyed wealth.

26 They lie beside one another in the dust,

And worms cover them both.

The question, Job 21:22, concerns the friends. Since they maintain that necessarily and constantly virtue is rewarded by prosperity, and sin by misfortune, but without this law of the divine order of the world which is maintained by them being supported by experience: if they set themselves up as teachers of God, they will teach Him the right understanding of the conduct which is to be followed by Him as a ruler and judge of men, while nevertheless He is the Absolute One, beneath whose judicial rule not merely man, but also the heavenly spirits, are placed, and to which they must conform and bow. The verb למּד, instead of being construed with two acc., as in the dependent passage Isaiah 40:14, is here construed with the dat. of the person (which is not to be judged according to Job 5:2; Job 19:3, but according to διδάσκειν τινί τι, to teach one anything, beside the other prevailing construction). With והוא a circumstantial clause begins regularly: while He, however, etc. Arnh. and Lwenth. translate: while, however, He exaltedly judges, i.e., according to a law that infinitely transcends man; but that must have been מרום (and even thus it would still be liable to be misunderstood). Hahn (whom Olsh. is inclined to support): but He will judge the proud, to which first the circumstantial clause, and secondly the parallels, Job 35:2; Job 15:15; Job 4:18 (comp. Isaiah 24:21), from which it is evident that רמים signifies the heavenly beings (as Psalm 78:69, the heights of heaven), are opposed: it is a fundamental thought of this book, which abounds in allusions to the angels, that the angels, although exalted above men, are nevertheless in contrast with God imperfect, and therefore are removed neither from the possibility of sin nor the necessity of a government which holds them together in unity, and exercises a judicial authority over them. The rule of the all-exalted Judge is different from that which the three presumptuously prescribe to Him.

The one (viz., the evil-doer) dies בּעצם תּמּו, in ipsa sua integritate, like בעצם היום, ipso illo die; the Arabic would be fı̂ ‛yn, since there the eye, here the bone (comp. Uhlemann, Syr. Gramm. 58), denote corporeality, duration, existence, and therefore identity. תּם is intended of perfect external health, as elsewhere מתם; comp. תּמימים, Proverbs 1:12. In Job 21:23 the pointing שׁלאנן (adj.) and שׁלאנן (3 praet.) are interchanged in the Codd.; the following verbal adjective favours the form of writing with Kametz. As to the form, however (which Rd. and Olsh. consider to be an error in writing), it is either a mixed form from שׁאנן and שׁלו with the blended meaning of both (Ew. 106, c), to which the comparison with שׁליו ( equals שׁלו) is not altogether suitable, or it is formed from שׁאנן by means of an epenthesis (as זלעף from זעף, aestuare, and בלסם, βάλσαμον, from בשׂם), and of similar but intensified signification; we prefer the latter, without however denying the real existence of such mixed forms (vid., on Job 26:9; Job 33:25). This fulness of health and prosperity is depicted in Job 21:24. The ancient translators think, because the bones are mentioned in the parallel line, עטיניו must also be understood of a part of the body: lxx ἔγκατα, Jer. viscera; Targ. בּיזוי, his breasts, βυζία

(Note: Vid., Handschriftliche Funde, 2. S. V.)

(for Hebr. שׁדים, שׁד); Syr. version gabauh ( equals ganbauh), his sides in regard to עטמא, Syr. ‛attmo equals אטמא, side, hip; Saad. audâguhu, his jugular veins, in connection with which (not, however, by this last rendering) חלב is read instead of חלב: his bowels, etc., are full of fat.

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