Job 21:29
Have ye not asked them that go by the way? and do ye not know their tokens,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(29) Their tokensi.e., the marks and evidences of their experience, and the conclusions at which they had arrived.

Job 21:29-30. Have ye not asked them that go by the way? — In these verses we have an answer to the preceding question; as if he had said, Even the travellers that pass along the road can inform you: it is so vulgar a thing that no man of common sense is ignorant of it. They can give you tokens, examples, or evidences of this truth. That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction — That they are not punished as they deserve in the present world, and therefore that they shall be in the next. They shall be brought forth to the day of wrath — The day of future and final wrath, when God will judge the world in righteousness, and render unto every man according to his deeds, even indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil. “I believe,” says Dr. Dodd, from Peters, “that by the day of destruction and the day of wrath, mentioned in this verse, can be meant no other than the future day of judgment; which, to the wicked and ungodly, is everywhere represented in Scripture as a day of wrath, a day of destruction and perdition. See 2 Thessalonians 1:9; 2 Peter 3:7. And it is remarkable that Job, when he declares to his friends that he had been all along withheld from sinning by a pious awe of the divine justice, (meaning, as I apprehend, the thoughts of a future judgment,) uses a like expression, Job 31:23. Destruction from God was a terror to me; איד, aid, the very same word as is used here. To understand it of a temporal destruction is to suppose Job to cut the neck of his own argument, and to fall in directly with the reasoning of his friends; for thus it would stand, (Job 21:27,) ‘Behold I know your thoughts, &c. — I know what you would insinuate by the speeches which you make; such as this which follows, Job 21:28, Where is the house? &c. As if you should say, What is become of the house of Job, who lived like a prince? Or what, in general, is the portion of the wicked? Does not a great and sure destruction overtake them?’ This is evidently the meaning of the question; the answer immediately follows, Job 21:29, Ask those who go by the way, &c. Now if this were meant of a temporal destruction, it directly confirms the insinuation of his friends, and the inference would be unavoidable; therefore Job must needs be wicked. The sense I contend for, must, therefore, needs be the true one.”

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.Have ye not asked them that go by the way? - Travelers, who have passed into other countries, and who have had an opportunity of making observations, and of learning the opinions of those residing there. The idea of Job is, that they might have learned from such travelers that such people were "reserved" for future destruction, and that calamity did not immediately overtake them. Information was obtained in ancient times by careful observation, and by traveling, and they who had gone into other countries would be highly regarded concerning point like this. They could speak of what they had observed of the actual dealings of God there, and of the sentiments of sages there. The idea is, that "they" would confirm the truth of what Job had said, that the wicked were often prosperous and happy.

And do ye not know their tokens - The signs, or intimations which they have given of the actual state of things in other countries, perhaps by the inscriptions, records, and proverbs, by which they had "signified" the result of their inquiries.

29. Job, seeing that the friends will not admit him as an impartial judge, as they consider his calamities prove his guilt, begs them to ask the opinion of travellers (La 1:12), who have the experience drawn from observation, and who are no way connected with him. Job opposes this to Bildad (Job 8:8) and Zophar (Job 20:4).

tokens—rather, "intimations" (for example, inscriptions, proverbs, signifying the results of their observation), testimony. Literally, "signs" or proofs in confirmation of the word spoken (Isa 7:11).

These are the words, either,

1. Of Job’s friends, who thus continue their former discourse by a second inquiry; or rather,

2. Of Job himself, who answers one question with another. You may learn this, which is the matter of our debate, to wit, that good men are oft afflicted, and that wicked men do commonly live and die in great prosperity, and are not punished in this world, even from

them that go by the way, i.e. either from travellers, who having seen and observed many persons, and places, and events, are more capable judges of this matter; or from any person that passeth along the high-way, from every one that you meet with. It is so vulgar and trivial a thing, that no man of common sense is ignorant of it.

Their tokens, i.e. the examples, or evidences, or signs of this truth, which they that go by the way can produce. They will show here and there in divers places the goodly houses, and castles, and other monuments of power and dignity which wicked potentates have erected, and to this day do possess, and in which divers of them live and die. He alludes here to those

tokens which are set up in high-ways for the direction of those who travel in them.

Have ye not asked them that go by the way?.... Did you not ask every traveller you met with on the road the above question? not which was the way to Job's house, which they knew very well, but in what condition that and his sons were? or what was the case of him and his family? and what was his character? or what was thought of him now since his unhappy circumstances?

and do ye not know their tokens? by which it might be known in what a plight he and his family were, and what were the marks, signs, and characters they gave of him: "have ye not asked?" &c. the sense seems to be this, that if they had not asked, they might and should have asked of travellers the above things relating to himself and family, and then they would not have needed to put the above question about his house and tabernacles; or, if they had inquired of his character of any travellers, they would have given them it, that he was a generous hospitable man, a man truly good, strictly just and upright, and not the wicked man and the hypocrite as they had traduced him; for Job's house had been open to strangers and travellers, and he was well known by them, and they were ready to give him a good character, see Job 31:32; or, if they had inquired of them concerning the stately houses and palaces of wicked men that had lived in times past, whether there were any of them standing; they could have told them they were, and where they were, and given them such signs and tokens, and such proof and evidence of them they could not deny; and indeed, if they had been inquired of about the thing in controversy between Job and his friends, concerning the prosperity of the wicked, and the afflictions of the godly, as they by travelling became acquainted with persons and things, and made their observations on them, they could have easily pointed out instances of wicked men living and dying in prosperous circumstances, and of good men being greatly afflicted and distressed, if not all their days, yet great part of them; and they could have given such plain signs and tokens, and such clear and manifest proofs of those things, as could not have been gainsaid: and this may be understood of travellers in a spiritual sense, and who are the best judges of such a case, and are travellers through the wilderness of this world, and pass through many tribulations in it; and, being bound for another and better country, an heavenly one, are pilgrims, strangers, and sojourners here; have no abiding, but are passing on in the paths of faith, truth, and holiness, till they come to the heavenly Canaan; if any of those who are yet on the road, and especially if such could be come at who have finished their travels, and the question be put to them, they would all unite in this doctrine, which Abraham, the spiritual traveller, is represented delivering to the rich wicked man in hell; that wicked men have their good things in this life, and good men their evil things, Luke 16:25; and particularly would agree in saying what follows.

Have ye {q} not asked them that go by the way? and do ye not know their tokens,

(q) Who through long travailing have experience and tokens of it, that is, that the wicked prosper, and the godly live in affliction.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
29. them that go by the way] The travellers; here those who have travelled far, or come from a distance, and are full of experience.

do ye not know their tokens] Or, regard. Their “tokens” are no doubt the proofs, or examples which they bring forward. The word “regard,” or have respect to, is so used ch. Job 34:19. In other places it means “not to acknowledge,” to repudiate; with this sense the meaning would be, and ye will not (surely) reject their tokens.

29, 30. Travellers give a different account of the fate of the wicked; they tell that he is spared in the day of destruction:

29  Have ye not asked them that go by the way,

And do ye not regard their tokens,

30  That the wicked is spared in the day of destruction,

That they are led forth in the day of wrath?

Verse 29. - Have ye not asked them that go by the way? Job refers his opponents to the first comer (τὸν ἐπιόντα) - the merest passer-by. Let them ask his opinion, and see if he does not consider that, as a general rule, the wicked prosper. And do ye not know their tokens? or, their observations; i.e. the conclusions to which they have come upon the subject from their own observation and experience. Job 21:2927 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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