Job 21:33
The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto 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. Job 21:3332 And he is brought to the grave,

And over the tomb he still keepeth watch.

33 The clods of the valley are sweet to him,

And all men draw after him,

As they preceded him without number.

. . . . . .

34 And how will ye comfort me so vainly!

Your replies are and remain perfidy.

During life removed at the time of dire calamity, this unapproachable evil-doer is after his death carried to the grave with all honour (יוּבל, comp. Job 10:19), and indeed to a splendid tomb; for, like משׁכנות above, קברות is also an amplificative plural. It is certainly the most natural to refer ישׁקד, like יוּבל, to the deceased. The explanation: and over the tomb one keeps watch (Bttch., Hahn, Rd., Olsh.), is indeed in itself admissible, since that which serves as the efficient subject is often left unexpressed (Genesis 48:2; 2 Kings 9:21; Isaiah 53:9; comp. supra, on Job 18:18); but that, according to the prevalent usage of the language, ישׁקד would denote only a guard of honour at night, not also in the day, and that for clearness it would have required גּדישׁו instead of גּדישׁ, are considerations which do not favour this explanation, for שׁקד signifies to watch, to be active, instead of sleeping or resting; and moreover, the placing of guards of honour by graves is an assumed, but not proved, custom of antiquity. Nevertheless, ישׁקד might also in general denote the watchful, careful tending of the grave, and the maqâm (the tomb) of one who is highly honoured has, according to Moslem custom, servants (châdimı̂n) who are appointed for this duty. But though the translation "one watches" should not be objected to on this ground, the preference is to be given to a commendable rendering which makes the deceased the subject of ישׁקד. Raschi's explanation does not, however, commend itself: "buried in his own land, he also in death still keeps watch over the heaps of sheaves." The lxx translates similarly, ἐπὶ σωρῶν, which Jerome improperly, but according to a right sentiment, translates, in congerie mortuorum. For after the preceding mention of the pomp of burial, גּדישׁ, which certainly signifies a heap of sheaves in Job 5:26, is favoured by the assumption of its signifying a sepulchral heap, with reference to which also in that passage (where interment is likewise the subject of discourse) the expression is chosen. Haji Gaon observes that the dome (קבּה, Arab. qbbt, the dome and the sepulchral monument vaulted over by it)

(Note: Vid., Lane's Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (translated by Zenker).)

erected over graves according to Arab custom is intended; and Aben-Ezra says, that not exactly this, but in general the grave-mound formed of earth, etc., is to be understood. In reality, גדישׁ (from the verb גדשׁ, cumulare, commonly used in the Talmud and Aramaic) signifies cumulus, in the most diversified connections, which in Arabic are distributed among the verbs jds, kds, and jdš, especially tumulus, Arab. jadatun (broader pronunciation jadafun). If by grave-mound a mound with the grave upon it can be understood, a beautiful explanation is presented which accords with the preference of the Beduin for being buried on an eminence, in order that even in death he may be surrounded by his relations, and as it were be able still to overlook their encampment: the one who should have had a better lot is buried in the best place of the plain, in an insignificant grave; the rich man, however, is brought up to an eminence and keeps watch on his elevated tomb, since from this eminence as from a watch-tower he even in death, as it were, enjoys the wide prospect which delighted him so while living.

(Note: "Take my bones," says an Arabian poem, "and carry them with you, wherever you go; and if ye bury them, bury them opposite your encampment! And bury me not under a vine, which would shade me, but upon a hill, so that my eye can see you!" Vid., Ausland, 1863, Nr. 15 (Ein Ritt nach Transjordanien).)

But the signification collis cannot be supported; גדישׁ signifies the hill which is formed by the grave itself, and Job 21:33 indeed directs us to the wady as the place of burial, not to the hill. But if גדישׁ is the grave-mound, it is also not possible with Schlottm. to think of the pictures on the wall and images of the deceased, as they are found in the Egyptian vaults (although in Job 3:14 we recognised an allusion to the pyramids), for it cannot then be a גדישׁ in the strict sense that is spoken of; the word ought, like the Arabic jdṯ (which the Arab. translation of the New Testament in the London Polyglott uses of the μνημεῖον of Jesus), with a mingling of its original signification, to have been used in the general signification sepulcrum. This would be possible, but it need not be supposed. Job's words are the pictorial antithesis to Bildad's assertion, Job 18:17, that the godless man dies away without trace or memorial; it is not so, but as may be heard from the mouth of people who have experience in the world: he keeps watch over his tomb, he continues to watch although asleep, since he is continually brought to remembrance by the monument built over his tomb. A keeping watch that no one approaches the tomb disrespectfully (Ew.), is not to be thought of. שׁקד is a relative negation of the sleep of death: he is dead, but in a certain manner he continues to live, viz., in the monument planting forward his memory, which it remains for the imagination to conceive of as a mausoleum, or weapons, or other votive offerings hung upon the walls, etc. In connection with such honour, which follows him even to and beyond death, the clods of the valley (est ei terra levis) are sweet (מתקוּ is accentuated with Mercha, and לו without Makkeph with little-Rebia) to him; and if death in itself ought to be accounted an evil, he has shared the common fate which all men after him will meet, and which all before him have met; it is the common end of all made sweet to him by the pageantry of his burial and his after-fame. Most modern expositors (Ew., Hirz., Umbr., Hlgst., Welte) understand the ימשׁך, which is used, certainly, not in the transitive signification: to draw after one's self, but in the intransitive: to draw towards (lxx απελεύσεται), as Judges 4:6 (vid., Ges. Thes.), of an imitative treading of the same way; but כּל־אדם would then be an untrue hyperbole, by which Job would expose himself to the attack of his adversaries.

In Job 21:34 Job concludes his speech; the Waw of ואיך, according to the idea (as e.g., the Waw in ואני, Isaiah 43:12), is an inferential ergo. Their consolation, which is only available on condition of penitence, is useless; and their replies, which are intended to make him an evil-doer against the testimony of his conscience, remain מעל. It is not necessary to construe: and as to your answers, only מעל remains. The predicate stands per attractionem in the sing.: their answers, reduced to their true value, leave nothing behind but מעל, end in מעל, viz., באלהים, Joshua 22:22, perfidious sinning against God, i.e., on account of the sanctimonious injustice and uncharitableness with which they look suspiciously on him.


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