Job 6:18
The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing, and perish.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) They go to nothing.—It is doubtful whether this applies to the streams or to the caravans. Thus, “The paths of their way are turned aside and come to nought;” or, “The caravans that travel by the way of them turn aside, and go into the waste and perish.” The nineteenth verse seems to suggest the latter as the more probable.

6:14-30 In his prosperity Job formed great expectations from his friends, but now was disappointed. This he compares to the failing of brooks in summer. Those who rest their expectations on the creature, will find it fail when it should help them; whereas those who make God their confidence, have help in the time of need, Heb 4:16. Those who make gold their hope, sooner or later will be ashamed of it, and of their confidence in it. It is our wisdom to cease from man. Let us put all our confidence in the Rock of ages, not in broken reeds; in the Fountain of life, not in broken cisterns. The application is very close; for now ye are nothing. It were well for us, if we had always such convictions of the vanity of the creature, as we have had, or shall have, on a sick-bed, a death-bed, or in trouble of conscience. Job upbraids his friends with their hard usage. Though in want, he desired no more from them than a good look and a good word. It often happens that, even when we expect little from man, we have less; but from God, even when we expect much, we have more. Though Job differed from them, yet he was ready to yield as soon as it was made to appear that he was in error. Though Job had been in fault, yet they ought not to have given him such hard usage. His righteousness he holds fast, and will not let it go. He felt that there had not been such iniquity in him as they supposed. But it is best to commit our characters to Him who keeps our souls; in the great day every upright believer shall have praise of God.The paths of their way are turned aside - Noyes renders this, "The caravans turn aside to them on their way." Good, "The outlets of their channel wind about." Rosenmuller, "The bands of travelers direct their journey to them." Jerome, "Involved are the paths of their steps." According to the interpretation of Rosenmuller, Noyes, Umbreit, and others, it means that the caravans on their journey turn aside from their regular way in order to find water there; and that in doing it they go up into a desert and perish. According to the other interpretation, it means that the channels of the stream wind along until they diminish and come to nothing. This latter I take to be the true sense of the passage, as it is undoubtedly the most poetical. It is a representation of the stream winding along in its channels, or making new channels as it flows from the mountain, until it diminishes by evaporation, and finally comes to nothing.

They go to nothing - Noyes renders this very singularly, "into the desert," - meaning that the caravans, when they suppose they are going to a place of refreshment, actually go to a desert, and thus perish. The word used here, however תהוּ tôhû, does not occur in the sense of a desert elsewhere in the Scriptures. It denotes nothingness, emptiness, vanity (see Genesis 1:2), and very appropriately expresses the nothingness into which a stream vanishes when it is dried up or lost in the sand. The sense is, that those streams wander along until they become smaller and smaller, and then wholly disappear. They deceive the traveler who hoped to find refreshment there. Streams depending on snows and storms, and having no permanent fountains, cannot be confided in. Pretended friends are like them. In times of prosperity they are full of professions, and their aid is proffered to us. But we go to them when we need their assistance, when we are like the weary and thirsty traveler, and they disappear like deceitful streams in the sands of the desert.

18. turned aside—rather, "caravans" (Hebrew, "travellers") turn aside from their way, by circuitous routes, to obtain water. They had seen the brook in spring full of water: and now in the summer heat, on their weary journey, they turn off their road by a devious route to reach the living waters, which they remembered with such pleasure. But, when "they go," it is "into a desert" [Noyes and Umbreit]. Not as English Version, "They go to nothing," which would be a tame repetition of the drying up of the waters in Job 6:17; instead of waters, they find an "empty wilderness"; and, not having strength to regain their road, bitterly disappointed, they "perish." The terse brevity is most expressive. i.e. The course of those waters is changed, they are gone out of their channel, flowing hither and thither, till they be quite consumed; as it here follows. The paths of their way are turned aside,.... That is, the waters, when melted by the heat of the sun, and the warmth of the weather, run, some one way, and some another in little streams and windings, till they are quite lost and the tracks of them are no more to be seen; denoting that all appearance of friendship was quite gone, and no traces of it to be found:

they go to nothing, and perish: some of them are lost in little meanders and windings about, and others are exhaled by the heat of the sun, and go into "Tohu", as the word is, into empty air; so vain and empty, and perishing, were all the comforts he hoped for from his friends; though some understand this of the paths of travellers in the deserts being covered in the sand, and not to be seen and found; of which see Pliny (z).

(z) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 29.

The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing, and perish.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. they go to nothing] Rather, they go up into the waste. The expression go up in Heb. is used when no ascent in the strict sense is meant; it signifies to go inland, into the interior of a region. The streams of these brooks flow out and wind into the desert and are consumed by the heat or lost in the sand. A somewhat different sense is drawn from the words by many writers. The word paths, Job 6:18, is the same as troops or caravans, Job 6:19, and they assume that the reference to the caravans is already made in Job 6:18, rendering: the caravans that go by the way of them (the streams) turn aside, they go up into the desert and perish. In favour of this interpretation it is urged that there is something unnatural in the use of the same word in different senses in two consecutive verses; and that it is customary in the Poets to express a general idea first (Job 6:18) and then to particularize and exemplify it (Job 6:19). On the other hand Ibn Ezra has already remarked that it is not usual for caravans to leave the route and “turn aside” in search of water, a route is selected and formed rather because water is found on it. The danger of the caravan is that it be exhausted before it reach the place where water is known to be, or, as here, that the water may be found dried up.Verse 18. - The paths of their way are turned aside; rather, as in the Revised Version, the caravans that travel by the way of them turn aside. It seems impossible that the streams can be intended, since their paths are never "turned aside" - they simply shrink, fail, and dry up. But nothing is commoner than for caravans short of water to go out of their way in order to reach a wady, where they expect to be able to replenish their water-skins. If they are disappointed, if the wady is dry, they may be brought into great straits, and may even possibly perish. (For a probable instance, where dependence on a wady would, but for a miracle, have led to a great disaster, see 2 Kings 3:9-20.) They go to nothing, and perish; rather, they go up into the waste and perish. Having vainly sought water in the dry wady, they ascend out of it, and enter the broad waste of the desert, where they too often miserably perish. 11 What is my strength, that I should wait,

And my end, that I should be patient?

12 Is my strength like the strength of stones?

Or is my flesh brazen?

13 Or am I then not utterly helpless,

And continuance is driven from me?

The meaning of the question (Job 6:11); is: Is not my strength already so wasted away, and an unfortunate end so certain to me, that a long calm waiting is as impossible as it is useless? נפשׁ האריך, to draw out the soul, is to extend and distribute the intensity of the emotion, to be forbearing, to be patient. The question (Job 6:11) is followed by אם, usual in double questions: or is my strength stone, etc. האם, which is so differently explained by commentators, is after all to be explained best from Numbers 17:28, the only other passage in which it occurs. Here it is the same as ה אם, and in Num. הלא אם: or is it not so: we shall perish quickly altogether? Thus we explain the passage before us. The interrogative ה is also sometimes used elsewhere for הלא, Job 20:4; Job 41:1 (Ges. 153, 3); the additional אם stands per inversionem in the second instead of the first place: nonne an equals an nonne, annon: or is it not so: is not my help in me equals or am I not utterly helpless? Ewald explains differently (356, a), according to which אם, from the formula of an oath, is equivalent to לא. The meaning is the same. Continuance, תּוּשׁיּה, i.e., power of endurance, reasonable prospect is driven away, frightened away from him, is lost for him.

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