Job 8:8
For inquire, I pray you, of the former age, and prepare yourself to the search of their fathers:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 8:8. For inquire, &c., of the former age — That is, of our predecessors, who had the advantage of longer life and more experience, besides more frequent revelations from God than we have. They also will be more impartial judges of this cause than we may be thought to be. Inform thyself by the instructions which they have left, either in word or writing, what their opinion was about the manner of God’s dealing with men. And prepare thyself to the search, &c. — Do not slightly, but seriously and industriously, search the ancient records.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.For inquire thee of the former age - That is, attend to the results of observation. Ask the generations which have passed, and who in their poems and proverbs have left the records of their experience. The sentiment which Bildad proposes to confirm by this appeal is, that though the wicked should for a time flourish, yet they would be cut off, and that the righteous, though they may be for a time afflicted, yet if they seek God, they will ultimately prosper. It was common to make these appeals to the ancients. The results of observation were embodied in proverbs, parables, fables, and fragments of poems; and he was regarded as among the wisest of men who had the fruits of these observations most at command. To that Bildad appeals, and especially, as would appear, to the fragment of an ancient poem which he proceeds to repeat, and which, perhaps, is the oldest poem extant in any language.

And prepare thyself - Make an effort, or give diligent attention to it.

To the search of their fathers - Of the bygone generations, not only to the age immediately past, but to their ancestors. He would bring the results of the observation of far distant ages to confirm the sentiment which he had advanced.

8, 9. The sages of the olden time reached an age beyond those of Job's time (see on [497]Job 42:16), and therefore could give the testimony of a fuller experience. Of the former age, i.e. of our predecessors, who had the advantage of longer life and more experience, besides more frequent revelations from God, than we have; who also will be more impartial judges of this cause than we may be thought to be. Inform thyself from them by the instructions which they left, either in word or writing, what their opinion was about the manner of God’s dealings with men.

Prepare thyself to the search of their fathers; do not slightly, but seriously and industriously, search the ancient records. For inquire, I pray thee, of the former age,.... With respect to the truth of what he had said, or should say; he does not desire Job to take his word for it, but inquire how it was in former times; by which it would appear, that when good men have been in affliction and trouble, and have behaved well under it, as became them, they have been delivered out of it, and have been afterwards in more flourishing and comfortable circumstances, as Noah, Abraham, Lot, and others; and that wicked men and hypocrites, though they have flourished for a while, yet destruction has sooner or later come upon them, and they have utterly perished, as the descendants of Cain, the builders of Babel, and the men of Sodom, and others; whereas good and upright men are never cast away by the Lord, no instance can be given of it; all which would appear, if inquiry was made into what had happened in the "former age" not the "first age", as the Septuagint version, the age or generation in which the first man and woman lived; for who were "their fathers", mentioned in the next clause? but the age or generation preceding that in which Job and his friends lived; and the knowledge of things done in that might with some application and diligence be more easily obtained:

and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers; of the fathers of the men of the former age, who lived in the age preceding that, and from whom their posterity had received the knowledge of many things by tradition, as they had received from their fathers that lived before them and so upwards; things being handed down in a traditionary way from father to son; and though these fathers were dead, yet, by their traditions that were preserved, they were capable of teaching and instructing men; and their sayings and sentiments deserved regard, and were had in much esteem; but yet being uninspired and fallible men, were not to be received without examination; for though truth is of the greatest antiquity, and to be revered on that account, yet error is almost as old as that; and therefore great care is to be taken how any thing is received purely upon the score of antiquity; and great pains, diligence, and circumspection, are necessary to a due search of the fathers, and coming at their sense and sentiments; and so as to distinguish between truth and error, and get a true knowledge of facts done in ancient times; such a search is to be made in like manner as one would search for gold and silver, and hidden treasures.

For {e} enquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers:

(e) He wills Job to examine all antiquity and he will find it true which he here says.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. prepare thyself to the search] i. e., give heed to the research, or, to that which their fathers have searched out. By referring to a former age, and then to the fathers of that age or generation, Bildad intimates that his truth was recognised through all antiquity backwards till history loses itself in the beginnings of time.

8–19. The moral wisdom of the ancients

Bildad, having laid down his moral principle, invites Job to reflect that it is a principle resting on the research and the generalized experience of men of generations long past, whose long lives enabled them to weigh and balance and infer from the multitude of cases the general truth. It is no new theory of his or of the short-lived men of to-day, who are but of yesterday and know nothing. These maxims of the ancient world are clothed in rich and gorgeous similes drawn from the luxuriant plant-life of the sultry East.Verse 8. - For inquire... of the former age. Put the matter to the test of experience - not the short-lived experience of living men, but the treasure of experience which has been handed down from generation to generation since the remotest times, and which is embodied in proverbs - the expression of the concentrated wisdom of antiquity. Search out and see what has in former ages been thought concerning prosperous men, like thyself, when suddenly cast down and afflicted. And prepare thyself to the search of their fathers. Go back, i.e., to the past age, but do not stop there - pursue thy researches further and further to their remote ancestors. Bildad implies that the records of these remote times have been, in some way or other, preserved, either in writings or by oral tradition. Writing was certainly known in Egypt and Babylonia from a time anterior to Abraham, and to the Hittites at a date not very much later. Books of advice and instruction embodied in proverbs, or moral precepts, were among the earliest, in Egypt certainly. See the "Instructions of Amen-em-hat." in the 'Records of the Past,' vol. if. pp. 11-16, and the 'Proverbs of Aphobis,' published by the Revelation Dunbar Heath. Bildad's speech is thought to indicate "special familiarity with Egypt." 1 Then began Bildad the Shuhite, and said:

2 How long wilt thou utter such things,

And the words of thy mouth are a boisterous wind?

3 Will God reverse what is right,

Or the Almighty reverse what is just?

4 When thy children sinned against Him,

He gave them over to the hand of their wickedness.

Bildad

(Note: Nothing can be said respecting the signification of the name בּלדּד even as a probable meaning, unless perhaps equals בל־דד, sine mammis, i.e., brought up without his mother's milk.)

begins harshly and self-confidently with quousque tandem, עד־אן instead of the usual עד־אנה. אלּה, not: this, but: of this kind, of such kind, as Job 12:3; Job 16:2. כּבּיר רוּח is poetical, equivalent to גּדולה רוּח, Job 1:19; רוּח is gen. comm. in the signification wind as well as spirit, although more frequently fem. than masc. He means that Job's speeches are like the wind in their nothingness, and like a boisterous wind in their vehemence. Bildad sees the justice of God, the Absolute One, which ought to be universally acknowledged, impugned in them. In order not to say directly that Job's children had died such a sudden death on account of their sin, he speaks conditionally. If they have sinned, death is just the punishment of their sin. God has not arbitrarily swept them away, but has justly given them over to the destroying hand of their wickedness, - a reference to the prologue which belongs inseparably to the whole.

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