Job 21:28
For ye say, Where is the house of the prince? and where are the dwelling places of the wicked?
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(28) Of the princei.e., of the generous, virtuous, princely man?—the antithesis to the wicked man. “Behold I know your thoughts, for ye say, How can we tell who is virtuous and who is wicked? and consequently we know not to which catalogue you belong.” They had all along been insinuating that, though he seemed to be righteous, he was really wicked.

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.For ye say, Where is the house of the prince? - That is, you maintain that the house of the wicked man, in a high station, will be certainly over thrown. The parallelism, as well as the whole connection, requires us to understand the word "prince" here as referring to a "wicked" ruler. The word used (נדיב nâdı̂yb) properly means, one willing, voluntary, prompt; then, one who is liberal, generous, noble; then, one of noble birth, or of elevated rank; and then, as princes often had that character, it is used in a bad sense, and means a "tyrant." See Isaiah 13:2.

And where are the dwelling places of the wicked - Margin, "tent of the tabernacles." The Hebrew is, "The tent of the dwelling places." The dwelling place was usually a "tent." The meaning is, that such dwelling places would be certainly destroyed, as an expression of the divine displeasure.

28. ye say—referring to Zophar (Job 20:7).

the house—referring to the fall of the house of Job's oldest son (Job 1:19) and the destruction of his family.

prince—The parallel "wicked" in the second clause requires this to be taken in a bad sense, tyrant, oppressor (Isa 13:2), the same Hebrew, "nobles"—oppressors.

dwelling-places—rather, "pavilions," a tent containing many dwellings, such as a great emir, like Job, with many dependents, would have.

Ye say, to wit, in your minds. Where is the house of the prince? i.e. it is no where, it is lost and gone. This is spoken either,

1. Of Job, or his eldest son, whose house God had lately overthrown. Or rather,

2. In general of wicked princes or potentates, as the following answer showeth. 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.

Where are the dwelling-places of the wicked? which is added to limit the former expression, and to show that he spoke only of wicked princes.

For ye say,.... Or "have said", or "I know that ye say"; or "that ye are about to say" (a); it is in your hearts and minds, and just ready to come out of your lips, and what you will say next:

where is the house of the prince? of the righteous man, as the Syriac and Arabic versions; or "of the good and liberal man", as others (b); of such as are of a princely and ingenuous spirit, who are made willing, free, or princes, in the day of the power of the grace of God upon them; and are endowed and upheld with a free and princely spirit; where is the house, or what is the state and condition, of the families of such? are they the same with that of wicked men in the next clause? is there no difference between the one and the other? according to your way of reasoning, Job, there should not be any: or else this is to be understood rather of a wicked and tyrannical prince, who has built himself a stately palace, which he fancied would continue for ever; but where is it now? it lies in ruins; having respect perhaps to some noted prince of those times: or rather either to Job himself, who had been a prince, and the greatest man in all the east, but in what condition were his house and family now? or else to his eldest son, whose house was blown down with a violent wind:

and where are the dwelling places of the wicked? of the mighty men before the flood, which are now overthrown by it; or of the king and princes, and nobles, and great men of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain destroyed by fire and brimstone from heaven; or of Job, his tent or tabernacle, and the several apartments in it; or of the rest of his children and servants, respecting rather, as before observed, the state and condition of his family, than his material house: these questions are answered by putting others.

(a) "vos dicere", Junius & Tremellius; "nempe vos dicturos", Piscator; so Schmidt, Schultens. (b) "liberalis", Montanus; "boni et liberalis hominis", Tigurine version; "ingenui", Schultens.

For ye say, Where is the {p} house of the prince? and where are the dwelling places of the wicked?

(p) Thus they called Job's house in derision concluding that it was destroyed because he was wicked.

28. house of the prince] “Prince” here perhaps in a bad sense like the classical “tyrant,” cf. Isaiah 13:2.

the dwelling places of the wicked] Or, the tents in which the wicked dwelt, lit. the tent of the dwellings of the wicked. The question, Where is the house of the prince? implies that it has been swept away and has disappeared.

Verse 28. - For ye say, Where is the house of the prince? i.e. "What has become of the house of the powerful man (Job himself)? How is it fallen and gone to decay!" And whore are the dwelling-places (literally, the tent of the habitations) of the wicked! Again Job is intended, although the insult is veiled by the plural form being used. Job supposes that his opponents will meet his statement, that the righteous are afflicted and the wicked prosper, by pointing to his own case as one in which wickedness has been punished. Job 21:2827 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.


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