Job 21:27
Behold, I know your thoughts, and the devices which ye wrongfully imagine against me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 21:27-28. Behold, I know your thoughts — I perceive what you think and will object for your own defence; and the devices — Hebrew, ומזמות, umezimmoth, machinationes pravas, the evil thoughts, or, wicked designs and contrivances; which ye wrongfully imagine — תחמסו, thachmosu, wrest, or violently force, for they strained both Job’s words and their own thoughts, which were biased by prejudice and passion; against me — For I well know that your discourses, though they be concerning wicked men in the general, yet are particularly levelled at me, that is, I know what you would insinuate by the speeches which you make, such as this which follows: Where is the house of the prince? — Of Job, or his eldest son, whose house God had lately overthrown; it is nowhere: it is lost and gone. And where are the dwelling-places of the wicked? — רשׁעים, reshagnim, in the plural, of wicked persons in general. Are not their habitations overthrown? Do not they come to ruin? So the meaning of the question is: that it was apparent from common observation, that eminent judgments, even in this life, were sooner or later the portion of all ungodly men.

21:27-34 Job opposes the opinion of his friends, That the wicked are sure to fall into visible and remarkable ruin, and none but the wicked; upon which principle they condemned Job as wicked. Turn to whom you will, you will find that the punishment of sinners is designed more for the other world than for this, Jude 1:14,15. The sinner is here supposed to live in a great deal of power. The sinner shall have a splendid funeral: a poor thing for any man to be proud of the prospect of. He shall have a stately monument. And a valley with springs of water to keep the turf green, was accounted an honourable burial place among eastern people; but such things are vain distinctions. Death closes his prosperity. It is but a poor encouragement to die, that others have died before us. That which makes a man die with true courage, is, with faith to remember that Jesus Christ died and was laid in the grave, not only before us, but for us. That He hath gone before us, and died for us, who is alive and liveth for us, is true consolation in the hour of death.Behold, I know your thoughts - That is, "I see that you are not satisfied, and that you are disposed still to maintain your former position. You will be ready to ask, Where "are" the proofs of the prosperity of the wicked? Where "are" the palaces of the mighty? Where "are" the dwelling places of ungodly men!"

And the devices which ye wrongfully imagine against me - The course of sophistical argument which you pursue, the tendency and design of which is to prove that I am a wicked man. You artfully lay down the position, that the wicked must be, and are in fact, overwhelmed with calamities, and then you infer, that because "I" am overwhelmed in this manner, I "must be" a wicked man.

27. Their wrongful thoughts against Job are stated by him in Job 21:28. They do not honestly name Job, but insinuate his guilt. I know your thoughts; I perceive what you think, and will object, and say for your own defence.

The devices, or, evil thoughts; for so this word is oft used, as Proverbs 12:2 14:17 Job 24:8 Isaiah 32:7.

Wrongfully imagine, or wrest, or violently force. For they strained both Job’s words, and their own thoughts, which were biassed by their prejudice and passion against Job.

Against me; for I know very well that your discourses, though they be of wicked men in the general, yet are particularly levelled at me.

Behold, I know your thoughts,.... God only truly, really, and in fact, knows the thoughts of men; this is his peculiar prerogative, he only is the searcher of the hearts and the trier of the reins of the children of men. Christ, the eternal Logos, or Word, by his being a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, appears to be truly God. No man knows the things of a than, or the thoughts of his heart, but himself, and such to whomsoever he reveals them; but a wise and understanding man, a careful observer of men and things, may make some shrewd guesses at the thoughts of others, by hints and half words, or sentences expressed by them; by the show of their countenance, which is the index of the mind, and by the gestures and motions of their bodies; by these they may in a good measure judge whether they like or dislike, approve or, disapprove, of what is said to them: and thus Job knew the thoughts of his friends, that they were different from his, that the sentiments of their minds did not agree with his; and though he had so clearly proved his point, yet he saw by their looks and gestures that what he had said was not satisfactory to them; that they did not think it a sufficient confutation of their arguments, and a full answer to their objections:

and the devices which ye wrongfully imagine against me; that he was an hypocrite, a wicked man, guilty of crimes, and which they were devising to produce against him, and charge and load him with, as Eliphaz does in the following chapter; he knew they meant him in all that they had said concerning wicked men, and their afflictions, and what would be their portion at death, and after it; and though they did not name his name, they might as well have done it, since he was the man they struck at in all, particularly it, Job 20:5.

Behold, I know your thoughts, and the devices which ye wrongfully imagine against me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
27. Job knows the covert meaning that lies under his friends’ talk of the fate of the wicked man.

27–34. Finally, still pursuing his argument, Job turns to the insinuations of his friends against himself, which lie under their descriptions of the fate of the wicked. He knows what they mean when they say, Where is the house of the prince? But their conclusions were against the testimony of those who had travelled far and seen much. These testified that the wicked man was preserved in the day of destruction; that he came to an honoured grave, and the clods of the valley lay softly on him; and that his example, so far from being shunned, was followed by the mass of men, as there were multitudes that preceded him in the way he walked.

Verse 27. - Behold, I know your thoughts, and the devices (or, surmisings) which ye wrongfully imagine against me. I know, i.e. what you think of me. I am quite aware that you regard me as having brought my afflictions upon myself by wicked deeds, which I have succeeded in keeping secret. You have not openly stated your surmises. but it has been easy for me to "read between the lines," and understand the true meaning of your insinuations, which are all wrongful and unjust. Job 21:2727 Behold I know your thoughts

And the stratagems, with which ye overpower me!

28 When ye say: Where is the house of the tyrant,

And where the pavilions of the wicked - :

29 Have ye not asked those who travel,

Their memorable things ye could surely not disown:

30 That the wicked was spared in the day of calamity,

In the day of the outburst of wrath they were led away.

31 Who liketh to declare to him his way to his face?

And hath he done aught, who will recompense it to him?

Their thoughts which he sees through, are their secret thoughts that he is such an evil-doer reaping the reward of his deeds. מזמּות (which occurs both of right measures, good wise designs, Proverbs 5:2; Proverbs 8:12, and of artful devices, malicious intrigues, Proverbs 12:2; Proverbs 14:17, comp. the definition of בּעל מזמּות, Proverbs 24:8) is the name he gives to the delicately developed reasoning with which they attack him; חמס (comp. Arab. taḥammasa, to act harshly, violently, and overbearingly) is construed with על in the sense of forcing, apart from the idea of overcoming. In Job 21:28, which is the antecedent to Job 21:29, beginning with כּי האמרוּ (as Job 19:28), he refers to words of the friends like Job 8:22; Job 15:34; Job 18:15, Job 18:21. נדיב is prop. the noble man, whose heart impels (נדב, Arab. nadaba) him to what is good, or who is ready and willing, and does spontaneously that which is good (Arab. naduba), vid., Psychol. S. 165; then, however, since the notion takes the reverse way of generosus, the noble man (princely) by birth and station, with which the secondary notion of pride and abuse of power, therefore of a despot or tyrant, is easily as here (parall. רשׁעים, comp. עשׁיר, Isaiah 53:9, with the same word in the parallel) combined (just so in Isaiah 13:2, and similarly at least above, Job 12:21, - an anomaly of name and conduct, which will be for the future put aside, according to Isaiah 32:5). It is not admissible to understand the double question as antithetical, with Wolfson, after Proverbs 14:11; for the interrogative איּה is not appropriate to the house of the נדיב, in the proper sense of the word. Job 21:28, משׁכנות is not an externally but internally multiplying plur.; perhaps the poet by byt intends a palace in the city, and by אהל משׁכנות a tent among the wandering tribes, rendered prominent by its spaciousness and the splendour of the establishment.

(Note: Although the tents regularly consist of two divisions, one for the men and another for the women, the translation "magnificent pavilion" (Prachtgezelt), disputed by Hirz., is perfectly correct; for even in the present day a Beduin, as he approaches an encampment, knows the tent of the sheikh immediately: it is denoted by its size, often also by the lances planted at the door, and also, as is easily imagined, by the rich arrangement of cushions and carpets. Vid., Layard's New Discoveries, pp. 261 and 171.)

Job thinks the friends reason a priori since they inquire thus; the permanent fact of experience is quite different, as they can learn from ערי דרך, travellers, i.e., here: people who have travelled much, and therefore are well acquainted with the stories of human destinies. The Piel נכּר, proceeding from the radical meaning to gaze fixedly, is an enantio'seemon, since it signifies both to have regard to, Job 34:19, and to disown, Deuteronomy 32:27; here it is to be translated: their אתת ye cannot nevertheless deny, ignore (as Arab. nakira and ankara). אתת are tokens, here: remarkable things, and indeed the remarkable histories related by them; Arab. âyatun (collective plur. âyun), signs, is also similarly used in the signification of Arab. ‛ibrat, example, historical teaching.

That the כּי, Job 21:30, as in Job 21:28, introduces the view of the friends, and is the antecedent clause to Job 21:31 : quod (si) vos dicitis, in tempora cladis per iram divinam immissae servari et nescium futuri velut pecudem eo deduci improbum (Bttcher, de fin. 76), has in the double ל an apparent support, which is not to be denied, especially in regard to Job 38:23; it is, however, on account of the omission of the indispensable תאמרו in this instance, an explanation which does violence to the words. The כּי, on the contrary, introduces that which the accounts of the travellers affirm. Further, the ל in ליום indicates here not the terminus ad quem, but as in לערב, in the evening, the terminus quo. And the verb חשׂך, cohibere, signifies here to hold back from danger, as Job 33:18, therefore to preserve uninjured. Ew. translates Job 21:30 erroneously: "in the day when the floods of wrath come on." How tame would this הוּבל, "to be led near," be! This Hoph. signifies elsewhere to be brought and conducted, and occurs in Job 21:32, as in Isaiah 55:12 and elsewhere, of an honourable escort; here, in accordance with the connection: to be led away out of the danger (somewhat as Lot and his family by the escort of angels). At the time, when streams of wrath (עברה, the overflowing of vexation equals outburst of wrath, like the Arab. ‛abrt, the overflowing of the eye equals tears) go forth, they remain untouched: they escape them, as being under a special, higher protection.

continued...

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