Job 4:8
Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.
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(8) They that plow iniquity.—Comp. Galatians 6:7-8; and comp. also the strange expression of Isaiah 5:18.

Job 4:8. Even as I have seen, &c. — As thou hast never seen any example of a righteous man cut off, so I have seen many of wicked men cut off for their wickedness. They that plough, &c. — They that designedly work wickedness, first preparing themselves for it, and then continuing to execute it, as husbandmen first plough the ground, and then cast in the seed. See the margin. In other words, the observation I have made of such persons is, they are so far from reaping any advantage from their iniquitous practices, that those practices return on their own heads, and their sinful schemes and contrivances recoil wholly on themselves.

4:7-11 Eliphaz argues, 1. That good men were never thus ruined. But there is one event both to the righteous and to the wicked, Ec 9:2, both in life and death; the great and certain difference is after death. Our worst mistakes are occasioned by drawing wrong views from undeniable truths. 2. That wicked men were often thus ruined: for the proof of this, Eliphaz vouches his own observation. We may see the same every day.Even as I have seen - Eliphaz appeals to his own observation, that people who had led wicked lives were suddenly cut off. Instances of this kind he might doubtless have observed - as all may have done. But his inference was too broad when he concluded that all the wicked are punished in this manner. It is true that wicked people are thus cut off and perish; but it is not true that all the wicked are thus punished in this life, nor that any of the righteous are not visited with similar calamities. His reasoning was of a kind that is common in the world - that of drawing universal conclusions from premises that are too narrow to sustain them, or from too few carefully observed facts.

They that plow iniquity - This is evidently a proverbial expression; and the sense is, that as people sow they reap. If they sow wheat, they reap wheat; if barley, they reap barley; if tares, they reap tares. Thus, in Proverbs 22:8 :

"He that soweth iniquity shall reap also vanity."

So in Hosea 8:7 :

"For they have sown the wind,

And they shall reap the whirlwind:

It hath no stalk; the bud shall yield no meal

If so be it yield, strangers shall swallow it up"

Thus, in the Persian adage:

"He that planteth thorns shall not gather roses."

Dr. Good.

So Aeschylus:

Ἄτης ἄρουρα Θάνατον ἐκκαρπίζεται.

Atēs aroura thanaton ekkarpizetai.


8. they that plough iniquity … reap the same—(Pr 22:8; Ho 8:7; 10:13; Ga 6:7, 8). As thou hast never seen any example of a righteous man cut off, so on the contrary I have seen many examples of wicked men cut off for their wickedness. Or, As far as I have observed; or, But as I have seen or experienced.

They that plough iniquity, and sow wickedness; they that designedly and industriously work wickedness, first plotting and preparing themselves for it, and then continuing to pursue and execute it, as husbandmen first plough up and prepare the ground, and then cast in the seed. Compare Proverbs 22:8 Hosea 10:13.

Reap the same, i.e. iniquity, or such trouble or injury (for so also the Hebrew word avert signifies) as they cause to others. Or, the fruit of their iniquity, the just recompence and punishment of it, which is oft called sin or iniquity, as Genesis 4:7 Numbers 12:2 16:26 32:23. Compare Galatians 6:7,8.

Even as I have seen,.... Here he goes about to prove, by his own experience, the destruction of wicked men; and would intimate, that Job was such an one, because of the ruin he was fallen into:

they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same; figurative expressions, denoting that such who devise iniquity in their hearts, form and plan schemes of it in their minds, signified by "plowing iniquity", and who were studious and diligent to put into practice what they devised; who took a great deal of pains to commit sin, and were constant at it, expressed by "sowing wickedness": these sooner or later eat the fruit of their doings, are punished in proportion to their crimes, even in this life, as well as hereafter, see Hosea 8:7 Galatians 6:7; though a Jewish commentator (b) observes, that the thought of sin is designed by the first phrase; the endeavour to bring it into action by the second; and the finishing of the work, or the actual commission of the evil, by the third; the punishment thereof being what is expressed in Job 4:9; the Targum applies this to the generation of the flood.

(b) R. Simeon Bar Tzemach.

Even as I have seen, they that {e} plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.

(e) They who do evil cannot but receive evil.

8. even as I have seen] Rather, as I have seen. The words might be also rendered, when I saw those that ploughed iniquity … they reaped it. Eliphaz draws a distinction between two classes of men, on both of whom affliction may come—the righteous, who may no doubt sin and be chastised for their sin, but who do not perish under their chastisements (see ch. Job 5:17 seq.), and the wicked, whose sinning is, so to speak, a business which they practise as the tiller ploughs and sows his field, and whose harvest is unfailing. The words iniquity and wickedness may mean also affliction and trouble. The two pairs of things correspond to one another. That which the wicked plough and cast into the ground may be iniquity and wickedness, they reap it in the form of affliction and trouble. For the figure comp. Hosea 8:7; Hosea 10:13.

8–27. Third, surely instead of despairing and murmuring under his afflictions Job should follow a very different way. I, says Eliphaz, putting himself in Job’s place, would seek unto God, all whose doings are directed to the saving of the meek and disappointing the devices of the evil. When He smites, He smites only that He may the more profoundly heal. Happy should the man count himself whom God corrects. for his correction is meant to awaken him out of his dream of evil and lead him into a broader, clearer life, rich in blessings, and to be crowned with a ripe and peaceful end.

This beautiful speech consists of three parts, of which the first contains a single division, ch. Job 4:1-11; the second, two divisions, ch. Job 4:12-21, and ch. Job 5:1-7; and so also the third, ch. Job 5:8-16, and ch. Job 5:17-27.

Verse 8. - Even as I have seen; rather, according as I have seen - so far, that is, as my observation goes (see the Revised Version, which is supported by Professor Lee and Canon Cook). They that plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same (comp. Proverbs 22:8; Hosea 8:7; Hosea 10:13; Galatians 6:7, 8). The words translated "iniquity" and "wickedness" express in the original both moral and physical evil. Men sew the one and reap the other. Eliphaz extends this general rule into a universal law, or, at any rate, declares that he has never known an exception. He has not, therefore, been grieved and perplexed, like David, by "seeing the ungodly in such prosperity" (Psalm 73:3). He would seem not to have been a man of very keen observation. Job 4:8 6 Is not thy piety thy confidence,

Thy Hope? And the uprightness of thy ways?

7 Think now: who ever perished, being innocent?!

And where have the righteous been cut off?!

8 As often as I saw, those who ploughed evil

And sowed sorrow, - they reaped the same.

9 By the breath of Eloah they perished,

By the breath of His anger they vanished away.

10 The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the shachal,

And the teeth of the young lions, are rooted out.

11 The lion wanders about for want of prey,

And the lioness' whelps are scattered.

In Job 4:6 all recent expositors take the last waw as waw apodosis: And thy hope, is not even this the integrity of thy way? According to our punctuation, there is no occasion for supposing such an application of the waw apodosis, which is an error in a clause consisting only of substantives, and is not supported by the examples, Job 15:17; Job 23:12; 2 Samuel 22:41.

(Note: We will not, however, dispute the possibility, for at least in Arabic one can say, zı̂d f-hkı̂m Zeid, he is wise. Grammarians remark that Arab. zı̂d in this instance is like a hypothetical sentence: If any one asks, etc. 2 Samuel 15:34 is similar.)


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