Job 27:20
Terrors take hold on him as waters, a tempest stealeth him away in the night.
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Job 27:20. Terrors take hold on him — From the sense of approaching death or judgment. As waters — As violently and irresistibly as a river breaking its banks, or a deluge of waters bears down all before it. A tempest stealeth, &c. — God’s wrath cometh upon him like a tempest, and withal unexpectedly like a thief in the night.

27:11-23 Job's friends, on the same subject, spoke of the misery of wicked men before death as proportioned to their crimes; Job considered that if it were not so, still the consequences of their death would be dreadful. Job undertook to set this matter in a true light. Death to a godly man, is like a fair gale of wind to convey him to the heavenly country; but, to a wicked man, it is like a storm, that hurries him away to destruction. While he lived, he had the benefit of sparing mercy; but now the day of God's patience is over, and he will pour out upon him his wrath. When God casts down a man, there is no flying from, nor bearing up under his anger. Those who will not now flee to the arms of Divine grace, which are stretched out to receive them, will not be able to flee from the arms of Divine wrath, which will shortly be stretched out to destroy them. And what is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and thus lose his own soul?Terrors-take hold on him as waters - That is, as suddenly and violently as angry floods; compare the notes at Job 18:14.

A tempest stealeth him away - He is suddenly cut off by the wrath of God. A tempest comes upon him as unexpectedly as a thief or robber comes at night. Death is often represented as coming upon man with the silence of a thief, or the sudden violence of a robber at midnight; see the note at Job 21:17; compare Matthew 24:42-44.

Job 27:20So a thief is represented as coming in the night - in a sudden and unexpected manner Job 24:14 :

The murderer in the night is as a thief.

See also Matthew 24:43; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 3:3; Revelation 16:15.


20. (Job 18:11; 22:11, 21). Like a sudden violent flood (Isa 8:7, 8; Jer 47:2): conversely (Ps 32:6). Terrors take hold on him, from the sense of his approaching death or judgment.

As waters; either,

1. In abundance, one terror after another. Or,

2. Violently and irresistibly, as a river breaking its banks, or a deluge of waters bears down and overwhelms all that is before it.

A tempest stealeth him away in the night; God’s wrath and judgment cometh upon him forcibly like a tempest, and withal secretly and unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.

Terrors take hold on him as waters,.... The terrors of death, and of an awful judgment that is to come after it; finding himself dying, death is the king of terrors to him, dreading not only the awful stroke of death itself, but of what is to follow upon it; or rather these terrors are those that seize the wicked man after death; perceiving what a horrible condition he is in, the terrors of a guilty conscience lay hold on him, remembering his former sins with all the aggravating circumstances of them; the terrors of the law's curses lighting upon him, and of the wrath and fury of the Almighty pouring out on him and surrounding him, and devils and damned spirits all about him. These will seize him "as waters", like a flood of waters, denoting the abundance of them, "terror on every side", a "Magormissabib", Jeremiah 20:3, will he be, and coming with great rapidity, with an irresistible force, and without ceasing, rolling one after another in a sudden and surprising manner:

a tempest stealeth him away in the night; the tempest of divine wrath, from which there is no shelter but the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ; this comes like a thief, suddenly and unexpectedly, and steals the wicked man out of this world; or rather from the judgment seat, and carries him into the regions of darkness, of horror and black despair, where he is surrounded with the aforesaid terrors; this is said to be in the night, to make it the more shocking and terrible, see Luke 12:19; and may have respect to that blackness that attends a tempest, and to that blackness of darkness reserved for wicked men, Jde 1:13.

Terrors take hold on him as waters, a tempest stealeth him away in the night.
20. The figure of overwhelming waters is a natural one in the East and common in Scripture, Psalm 18:16, Nahum 1:8. Comp. the language of Eliphaz to Job, ch. Job 22:11.

Verse 20. - Terrors take hold on him as waters (comp. Job 18:11). Terrors sweep over the wicked man like a flood of waters - vague terrors with respect to the past, the present, and the future. He fears the vengeance of these whom he has oppressed and injured, the loss of his prosperity at any moment by a reverse of fortune, and a final retribution at the hand of God commensurate with his ill desert. He is at all times uneasy; sometimes he experiences a sudden rush upon him of such gloomy thoughts, which overwhelms him, and sweeps him away like a mighty stream. A tempest stealeth him away in the night. While he is off his guard, as it were, in the night, a sudden storm bursts on him, and removes him from his place. Job 27:2019 He lieth down rich, and doeth it not again,

He openeth his eyes and-is no more.

20 Terrors take hold of him as a flood;

By night a tempest stealeth him away.

21 The east wind lifteth him up, that he departeth,

And hurleth him forth from his place.

22 God casteth upon him without sparing,

Before His hand he fleeth utterly away.

23 They clap their hands at him,

And hiss him away from his place.

The pointing of the text ולא יאסף is explained by Schnurr., Umbr., and Stick.: He goes rich to bed and nothing is taken as yet, he opens his eyes and nothing more is there; but if this were the thought intended, it ought at least to have been ואין נאסף, since לא signifies non, not nihil; and Stickel's translation, "while nothing is carried away," makes the fut. instead of the praet., which was to be expected, none the more tolerable; also אסף can indeed signify to gather hastily together, to take away (e.g., Isaiah 33:4), when the connection favours it, but not here, where the first impression is that רשׁע is the subj. both to ולא יאסף and to ואיננו. Bttcher's translation, "He lieth down rich and cannot be displaced," gives the words a meaning that is ridiculed by the usage of the language. On the other hand, ולא יאסף can signify: and he is not conveyed away (comp. e.g., Jeremiah 8:2; Ezekiel 29:5; but not Isaiah 57:1, where it signifies to be swept away, and also not Numbers 20:26, where it signifies to be gathered to the fathers), and is probably intended to be explained after the pointing that we have, as Rosenm. and even Ralbag explain it: "he is not conveyed away; one opens his eyes and he is not;" or even as Schlottm.: "he is not conveyed away; in one moment he still looks about him, in the next he is no more;" but the relation of the two parts of the verse in this interpretation is unsatisfactory, and the preceding strophe has already referred to his not being buried. Since, therefore, only an unsuitable, and what is more, a badly-expressed thought, is gained by this reading, it may be that the expression should be regarded with Hahn as interrogative: is he not swept away? This, however, is only a makeshift, and therefore we must see whether it may not perhaps be susceptible of another pointing. Jerome transl.: dives cum dormierit, nihil secum auferet; the thought is not bad, but מאוּמה is wanting, and לא alone does not signify nihil. Better lxx (Ital., Syr.): πλούσιος κοιμηθήσεται καὶ ου ̓ προσθήσει. This translation follows the form of reading יאסף equals יוסיף, gives a suitable sense, places both parts of the verse in the right relation, and accords with the style of the poet (vid., Job 20:9; Job 40:5); and accordingly, with Ew., Hirz., and Hlgst., we decide in favour of this reading: he lieth down to sleep rich, and he doeth it no more, since in the night he is removed from life and also from riches by sudden death; or also: in the morning he openeth his eyes without imagining it is the last time, for, overwhelmed by sudden death, he closes them for ever. Job 27:20 and Job 27:20 are attached crosswise (chiastisch) to this picture of sudden destruction, be it by night or by day: the terrors of death seize him (sing. fem. with a plur. subj. following it, according to Ges. 146, 3) like a flood (comp. the floods of Belial, Psalm 18:5), by night a whirlwind (גּנבתּוּ סוּפה, as Job 21:18) carrieth him away. The Syriac and Arabic versions add, as a sort of interpolation: as a fluttering (large white) night-moth, - an addition which no one can consider beautiful.

Job 27:21 extends the figure of the whirlwind. In Hebrew, even when the narrative has reference to Egyptian matters (Genesis 41:23), the קדים which comes from the Arabian desert is the destructive, devastating, and parching wind κατ ̓ εξοχὴν.

(Note: In Syria and Arabia the east wind is no longer called qadı̂m, but exclusively sharqı̂ja, i.e., the wind that blows from the rising of the sun (sharq). This wind rarely prevails in summer, occurring then only two or three days a month on an average; it is more frequent in the winter and early spring, when, if it continues long, the tender vegetation is parched up, and a year of famine follows, whence in the Lebanon it is called semûm (שׂמוּם), which in the present day denotes the "poisonous wind" ( equals nesme musimme), but originally, by alliance with the Hebr. שׁמם, denoted the "devastating wind." The east wind is dry; it excites the blood, contracts the chest, causes restlessness and anxiety, and sleepless nights or evil dreams. Both man and beast feel weak and sickly while it prevails. Hence that which is unpleasant and revolting in life is compared to the east wind. Thus a maid in Hauran, at the sight of one of my Damascus travelling companions, whose excessive ugliness struck her, cried: billâh, nahâr el-jôm aqshar (Arab. 'qšr), wagahetni (Arab. w-jhṫnı̂) sharqı̂ja, "by God, it is an unhealthy day to-day: an east wind blew upon me." And in a festive dance song of the Merg district, these words occur:

wa rudd lı̂ hômet hodênik


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