Job 21:33
The clods of the valley shall be sweet to him, and every man shall draw after him, as there are innumerable before him.
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(33) The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him.—Death is robbed of its repulsiveness and horror, seeing that all will be glad to join in his funeral procession, and after him all men will draw (in endless procession), and before him they will be without number.

Job 21:33. The clods of the valley — Or, the grave, which is low and deep like a valley; shall be sweet unto him — He shall sweetly rest in his grave, free from all cares, and fears, and troubles, Job 3:17-18. Every man shall draw after him — Hebrew, He shall draw every man after him, into the grave; all that live after him, whether good or bad, shall follow him to the grave, shall die as he did. So he fares no worse herein than all mankind. He is figuratively said to draw them, because they come after him, as if they were drawn by his example. “There he lies,” says Bishop Patrick, “quietly in the earth, and no one disturbs his ashes: he suffers nothing but what all men shall do after him, as innumerable have done before him.”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.The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him - That is, he shall lie as calmly as others in the grave. The language here is taken from that delusion of which we all partake when we reflect on death. We think of "ourselves" in the grave, and it is almost impossible to divest our minds of the idea, that we shall be conscious there, and be capable of understanding our condition. The idea here is, that the person who was thus buried, might be sensible of the quiet of his abode, and enjoy, in some measure, the honors of the beautiful or splendid tomb, in which he was buried, and the anxious care of his friends. So we "think" of our friends, though we do not often "express" it. The dear child that is placed in the dark vault, or that is covered up in the ground - we feel as if we could not have him there. We insensibly shudder, as if "he" might be conscious of the darkness and chilliness, and "a part" of our trial arises from this delusion. So felt the American savage - expressing the emotions of the heart, which, in other cases, are often concealed. "At the bottom of a grave, the melting snows had left a little water; and the sight of it chilled and saddened his imagination. 'You have no compassion for my poor brother' - such was the reproach of an Algonquin - 'the air is pleasant, and the sun so cheering, and yet you do not remove the snow from the grave, to warm him a little,' and he knew no contentment until it was done." - Bancroft's History, U. S. iii. 294, 295. The same feeling is expressed by Fingal over the grave of Gaul:

Prepare, ye children of musical strings,

The bed of Gaul, and his sun-beam by him;

Where may be seen his resting place from afar

Which branches high overshadow,

Under the wing of the oak of greenest flourish,

Of quickest growth, and most durable form,

Which will shoot forth its leaves to the breeze of the shower,

While the heath around is still withered.

Its leaves, from the extremity of the land,

Shall be seen by the birds in Summer;

And each bird shall perch, as it arrives,

On a sprig of its verdant branch;

Gaul in this mist shall hear the cheerful note,


33. As the classic saying has it, "The earth is light upon him." His repose shall be "sweet."

draw—follow. He shall share the common lot of mortals; no worse off than they (Heb 9:27). Umbreit not so well (for it is not true of "every man"). "Most men follow in his bad steps, as countless such preceded him."

Of the valley, i.e. of the grave, which is low and deep like a valley.

Shall be sweet unto him; he shall sweetly rest in his grave, free from all cares, and fears, and troubles, Job 3:17,18.

Every man shall draw after him, Heb. he shall draw every man after him, to wit, into the grave; i.e. all that live after him, whether good or bad, shall follow him into the grave, i.e. shall die as he did. So he fares no worse herein than all mankind. He is figuratively said to draw them, because they come after him, as if they were drawn by his example. The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him,.... Where he lies interred, alluding to places of interment at the bottom of hills, and mountains, and under rocks, in plains and vales, see Genesis 35:8; and by this strong figure is signified, that the dead wicked man, lying in the clods of the valley in his grave, is in great repose, and in the utmost ease and quiet, feels no pains of body, nor has any uneasiness of mind concerning what befalls his posterity after his death, Job 14:21;

and every man shall draw after him, as there are innumerable before him; which either respects the pomp at his funeral procession, vast numbers being drawn and gathered together to gaze at it, as is common at grand funerals; and particularly, it may describe the multitude that go before the corpse, as well as those that follow after it; but rather as he is before represented as brought to his grave, and laid there, this clause is added, to denote the universality of death, it being common to all; thousands and ten thousands, even a number which no man can number, have gone before him by death into another world, as every man that comes after him must; and so this may prevent an objection to the grandeur of a wicked man, that after all he dies; but then death is no other than what is common to all men, to the vast multitudes that have gone before, and will be the case of all that come after, to the end of the world.

The {t} clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him, and every man shall draw after him, as there are innumerable before him.

(t) He will be glad to lie in a slimy pit, who before could not be content with a royal palace.

33. After life’s fever he sleeps well. Eurip. Alces. 462,

κούφα σοι

χθὼν ἐπάνω πέσειε γύναι.

Sit tibi terra levis, Light fall the dust upon thee.

draw after him] The prosperous wicked man has innumerable successors and imitators, just as he was preceded by countless others whom he resembled, Ecclesiastes 4:15-16.Verse 33. - The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him. In his mausoleum, by the side of the running stream, the very clods of the valley, wherein his tomb is placed, shall be sweet and pleasant to him - death thus losing half its terrors. And all men shall draw after him. Some explain this of the lengthy funeral procession which follows his corpse to the grave, and take the next clause of the multitude, not forming part of the procession, who gather together at the tomb beforehand, waiting to see the obsequies; but, as Rosenmuller remarks, this explanation seems precluded by the previous mention of the funeral procession (ver 32), besides being otherwise unsatisfactory. The real reference is probably to the common topic of consolation implied in the "Omnes eodem cogimur" of Horace. He is happy in his death, or at any rate not unhappy, seeing that he only suffers the common fate. He will draw after him all future men, who will likewise inevitably perish, just as there are innumerable before him, who have travelled the same read and reached the same resting-place. 27 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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