Job 8:16
He is green before the sun, and his branch shoots forth in his garden.
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(16) He is green.—Here begins, as we understand it, another and an opposite picture, which fact is marked in the Hebrew by an emphatic pronoun. “Green is he (see Job 8:6) before the sun, &c., quite unlike the watery paper-plant. This man is verdant and luxuriant, not in the midst of moisture, but even before the sun.” There is not the same promise of verdure, but a greater realisation of it.

Job 8:16. He, &c. — The hypocrite, or the secure and prosperous sinner, may think himself degraded when he is compared to a rush or flag. Compare him, then, to a flourishing and well-rooted tree, which spreads its branches in a fair garden. Yet, even then, shall he suddenly wither and come to nothing. Is green before the sun — Flourisheth in the world publicly, and in the view of all men. And his branch shooteth forth — His children, who are here mentioned as additions, not only to his comfort, but also to his strength and safety. In his garden — A place where it is defended from those injuries to which the trees of the field are subject, and where, besides the advantages common to all trees, it hath peculiar helps from the art and industry of men. So he supposes this man to be placed in the most desirable circumstances.8:8-19 Bildad discourses well of hypocrites and evil-doers, and the fatal end of all their hopes and joys. He proves this truth of the destruction of the hopes and joys of hypocrites, by an appeal to former times. Bildad refers to the testimony of the ancients. Those teach best that utter words out of their heart, that speak from an experience of spiritual and divine things. A rush growing in fenny ground, looking very green, but withering in dry weather, represents the hypocrite's profession, which is maintained only in times of prosperity. The spider's web, spun with great skill, but easily swept away, represents a man's pretensions to religion when without the grace of God in his heart. A formal professor flatters himself in his own eyes, doubts not of his salvation, is secure, and cheats the world with his vain confidences. The flourishing of the tree, planted in the garden, striking root to the rock, yet after a time cut down and thrown aside, represents wicked men, when most firmly established, suddenly thrown down and forgotten. This doctrine of the vanity of a hypocrite's confidence, or the prosperity of a wicked man, is sound; but it was not applicable to the case of Job, if confined to the present world.He is green before the sun - Vulgate, "antequam veniat sol - before the sun comes." So the Chaldee, "before the rising of the sun." So Eichhorn renders it. According to this, which is probably the true interpretation, the passage means that he is green and flourishing before the sun rises, but that he cannot hear its heat and withers away. A new illustration is here introduced, and the object is to compare the hypocrite with a vigorous plant that grows up quick and sends its branches afar, but which has no depth of root, and which, when the intense heat of the sun comes upon it, withers away. The comparison is not with a tree, which would bear the heat of the sun, but rather with those succulent plants which have a large growth of leaves and branches, like a gourd or vine, but which will not bear a drought or endure the intense heat of the sun. "This comparison of the transitory nature of human hope and prosperity to the sudden blight which over throws the glory of the forest and of the garden," says the Editor of the Pictorial Bible (on Psalm 37:35), "is at once so beautiful and so natural, as to have been employed by poets of every age." One such comparison of exquisite finish occurs in Shakespeare:

This is the state of man! Today he puts forth

The tender leaves of hope; tomorrow blossoms,

And hears his blushing honours thick upon him:

The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,

And, when he thinks, good easy man, full surely

His greatness is a ripening, nips his shoot,

And then he falls, as Ido.

And his branch shooteth forth ... - A comparison of a prosperous person or nation with a vine which spreads in this manner, is common in the Scriptures. See Psalm 80:11 :

She sent out her boughs unto the sea,

And her branches unto the river.

Compare the note at Isaiah 16:8. A similar figure occurs in Psalm 37:35 :

I have seen the wicked in great power,


16. before the sun—that is, he (the godless) is green only before the sun rises; but he cannot bear its heat, and withers. So succulent plants like the gourd (Jon 4:7, 8). But the widespreading in the garden does not quite accord with this. Better, "in sunshine"; the sun representing the smiling fortune of the hypocrite, during which he wondrously progresses [Umbreit]. The image is that of weeds growing in rank luxuriance and spreading over even heaps of stones and walls, and then being speedily torn away. He; either,

1. The perfect man, here understood out of Job 8:20, where it is expressed; or rather,

2. The hypocrite, of whom he hath hitherto treated, to whom this and the following verses very well agree; whom he before compared to a rush, and then to a spider’s web, and now to a tree, which is of a more solid substance, and more durable; as if he said, As some wicked men are quickly cut off in the very beginnings of their prosperity, so there are others who seem to be more firmly grounded, and yet they also at last come to ruin.

Is green, i.e. flourisheth in the world.

Before the sun; either,

1. Publicly, and in the view of all men, who observe it with admiration, and applause, and envy: compare 2 Samuel 12:12. Or rather,

2. Notwithstanding all the scorching heat of the sun, which quickly withers the rushes and herbs, of which he spake before, but doth only cherish and refresh the tree. And so doth many a wicked man secure himself, and thrive and prosper even in times of great danger and trouble, and in spite of all opposition.

His branch; or, his branches; the singular number for the plural; either,

1. Properly, and so this belongs to the description of a flourishing tree, by the spreading of its branches here, as by the depth of its root, Job 8:17. Or,

2. Metaphorically, to wit, his children, which are here mentioned as additions, not only to his comfort, but also to his strength and safety.

In his garden; a place where it is defended from those injuries to which the trees of the field are subject from men and beasts, and where, besides the natural advantages common to all trees, it hath peculiar helps from the art and industry of men, by whom it is watered and assisted as need requires. So he supposeth this man to be placed in the most desirable circumstances. He is green before the sun,.... Which some understand of the rush or flag, of which a further account is given, as setting forth more fully the case of wicked men and hypocrites; but to either of these do not agree the situation of it in a garden, the shooting forth of its branches, and the height of it, and its striking its roots deep in stony places: Cocceius interprets it of the "herb" or grass before which the flag withers, Job 8:12; but the same objections, or most of them, lie against that also; rather, from the description of it, a tall large tree is designed, to which hypocrites in their most flourishing circumstances are compared, and yet come to nothing, Psalm 37:35; that is "green" in its leaves, and looks beautiful, so they in a profession of religion, which is like green leaves without fruit; they make in it a fair show in the flesh, take up and him the lamp of a profession, and retain it bright and fair for a time; or, like a tree full of sap, or "juicy" (i); or, as Mr. Broughton renders it, "juiceful"; denoting, not a fulness of the spirit and his grace, or of faith, hope, love, &c. and of righteousness and goodness, but of, outward prosperity, having as much as heart could wish, and great plenty of good things laid up for many years: and this tree is said to be green and juicy "before the sun"; either in the presence and through the influence of it, as hypocrites flourish, even in a religious way, while the sun of prosperity shines upon them, and no longer; or openly and publicly, in the sight of all men, as this phrase is used, 2 Samuel 12:11; and as such men do, in the view of all men, professors and profane, doing all they do to be seen of men, and before whom they are outwardly righteous, and reckoned good men; or, "before the sun" rises, as the Targum and Aben Ezra, so hypocrites flourish, before the sun of persecution arises and smites them, because of their profession, and then they drop it; see Matthew 13:6,

and his branch shooteth forth in his garden; or "over" (k) it; and branch may be put branches, which in a flourishing tree spread themselves to cover a considerable piece of ground: Mr. Broughton renders it, "and his suckers sprout over his orchard"; all which may denote the increase of a wicked man, in his family, in his wealth and substance, and particularly in his posterity, which are as branches and suckers from him; and Bildad, if these are his own words, may have respect to Job, and to his large substance and number of children he had in his prosperity, when he had an hedge set about him, and was enclosed as in a garden: and whereas the church of God is sometimes compared to a garden, Sol 4:12; it agrees very well with hypocrites, who have a place there, and are called hypocrites in Sion, where they have a name, and flourish for a while: many interpreters, both Jewish (l) and Christian (m), interpret this, and what follows, of truly righteous and good men under afflictive providences, who notwithstanding continue, and are not the worse, but the better for them; their leaf of profession is always green, and withers not; and that "before the sun", even of adversity and affliction; and though that beats upon them, and smites them severely, they are like green olive trees, or the cedars of God, full of sap, full of the grace of God, and continually supplied with it; and so patiently endure temptation and affliction, bear the heat and burden of the day, and are not careful in the year of drought; see Sol 1:6; such are planted in the garden and house of the Lord by himself and shall never be rooted up; where their branches spread, and they grow in grace, and in the knowledge of all divine things, and are filled with the fruits of righteousness.

(i) "succosus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schultens; "viridis quidem et succi plenus", Michaelis. (k) "supra", Junius & Tremellius, Mercerus, Codurcus; "super", Montanus, Piscator, Schmidt, Schultens. (l) Saadiah Caon, R. Levi, Ben Gersom. (m) Vatablus, Beza, Diodati, Cocceius, Gussetius, p. 247.

He is {i} green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden.

(i) He compares the just to a tree, which although it is moved from one place to another, yet flourishes: so the affliction of the godly turns to their profit.

16–19. A new figure of a spreading, luxuriant plant, suddenly destroyed, and leaving not a trace of itself behind.

before the sun] This scarcely means openly, in broad day and in the face of the sun, but, under the fostering heat of the sun.Verse 16. - He is green before the sun. Bildad here introduces a third and more elaborate simile. The hypocrite, or ungodly man (ver. 13), is as a gourd (Jonah 4:6), or other rapidly growing plant, which shoots forth at sunrise with a wealth of greenery, spreading itself over a whole garden, and even sending forth its sprays and tendrils beyond it (comp. Genesis 49:22) - lovely to look at, and full, apparently, of life and vigour. And his branch shooteth forth in his garden; rather, over his garden, or beyond his, garden. 8 For inquire only of former ages,

And attend to the research of their fathers -

9 For we are of yesterday, without experience,

Because our days upon earth are a shadow -

10 Shall they not teach thee, speak to thee,

And bring forth words from their heart?

This challenge calls Deuteronomy 32:7 to mind. לבּך is to be supplied to כּונן; the conjecture of Olshausen, וּבונן, is good, but unnecessary. רשׁון is after the Aramaic form of writing, comp. Job 15:7, where this and the ordinary form are combined. The "research of their fathers," i.e., which the fathers of former generations have bequeathed to them, is the collective result of their research, the profound wisdom of the ancients gathered from experience. Our ephemeral and shadowy life is not sufficient for passing judgment on the dealings of God; we must call history and tradition to our aid. We are תּמול (per aphaeresin, the same as אתמול), yesterday equals of yesterday; it is not necessary to read, with Olshausen, מתּמול. There is no occasion for us to suppose that Job 8:9 is an antithesis to the long duration of life of primeval man. לב (Job 8:10) is not the antithesis of mouth; but has the pregnant signification of a feeling, i.e., intelligent heart, as we find לבב אישׁ, a man of heart, i.e., understanding, Job 34:10, Job 34:34. יוציאוּ, promunt, calls to mind Matthew 13:52. Now follow familiar sayings of the ancients, not directly quoted, but the wisdom of the fathers, which Bildad endeavours to reproduce.

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