Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
1 Then began Zophar the Naamathite, and said:
2 Therefore do my thoughts furnish me with a reply,
And indeed by reason of my feeling within me.
3 The correction of my reproach I must hear,
Nevertheless the spirit of my understanding informeth me.
4 Knowest thou this which is from everlasting,
Since man was placed upon the earth:
5 That the triumphing of the evil-doer is not long,
And the joy of the godless is but for a moment?
All modern expositors take Job 20:2 as an apology for the opposition which follows, and the majority of them consider בּעבוּר as elliptical for בעבור זאת, as Tremell., Piscator, and others have done, partly (but wrongly) by referring to the Rebia mugrasch. Ewald observes: "בעבור stands without addition, because this is easily understood from the כן in לכן." But although this ellipsis is not inadmissible (comp. לכן = לכן אשׁר, Job 34:25; כעל, Isa 59:18), in spite of it Job 20:2 furnishes no meaning that can be accepted. Most expositors translate: "and hence the storm within me" (thus e.g., Ewald); but the signification perturbatio animi, proposed by Schultens for חוּשׁי, after the Arab. ḥâš, is too remote from the usage of Hebrew. Moreover, this Arab. ḥâš signifies prop. to scare, hunt, of game; not, however: to be agitated, to storm, - a signification which even the corresponding Hebr. חוּשׁ, properare, does not support. Only a few expositors (as Umbreit, who translates: because of my storm within me) take בעבור (which occurs only this once in the book of Job) as praepos., as it must be taken in consideration of the infin. which follows (comp. Exo 9:16; Exo 20:20; Sa1 1:6; Sa2 10:3). Further, לכן (only by Umbreit translated by "yet," after the Arab. lâkin, lâkinna, which it never signifies in Hebr., where ל is not = לא, but = ל with Kametz before the tone) with that which follows is referred by several expositors to the preceding speech of Job, e.g., Hahn: "under such circumstances, if thou behavest thus;" by most, however, it is referred to Job 20:3, e.g., Ew.: "On this account he feels called upon by his thoughts to answer, and hence his inward impulse leaves him no rest: because he hears from Job a contemptuous wounding reproof of himself." In other words: in consequence of the reproach which Job casts upon him, especially with his threat of judgment, Zophar's mind and feelings fall into a state of excitement, and give him an answer to which he now gives utterance. This prospective sense of לכן may at any rate be retained, though בעבור is taken as a preposition (wherefore ... and indeed on account of my inward commotion); but it is far more natural that the beginning of Zophar's speech should be connected with the last word of Job's. Job 20:2 may really be so understood if we connect חושׁי, not with Arab. ḥâš, חושׁ, to excite, to make haste (after which also Saad. and Aben-Ezra: on account of my inward hastening or urging), but with Arab. ḥs, to feel; in this meaning chsh is usual in all the Semitic dialects, and is even biblical also; for Ecc 2:25 is to be translated: who hath feeling (pleasure) except from Him (read ממנו)? i.e., even in pleasure man is not free, but has conditions fixed by God.
With לכן (used as in Job 42:3) Zophar draws an inference from Job's conduct, esp. from the turn which his last speech has taken, which, as ישׁיבוּני שׂעיפּי
(Note: Thus it is to be read according to the Masoretic note, ומלא לית (i.e., plene, as nowhere else), which occurs in Codd., as is also attested by Kimchi in his Gramm., Moznajim, p. 8; Aben-Ezra in his Gramm., Zachoth 1, b; and the punctuator Jekuthil, in his Darche ha-Nikkud (chapter on the letters יהוא).)
affirms, urges him involuntarily and irresistibly forward, and indeed, as he adds with Waw explic.: on account of the power of feeling dwelling in him, by which he means both his sense of truth and his moral feeling, in general the capacity of direct perception, not perception that is only attained after long reflection. On שׂעיפי, of thoughts which, as it were, branch out, vid., on Job 4:13, and Psychol. S. 181. השׁיב signifies, as everywhere, to answer, not causative, to compel to answer. חוּשׁי is n. actionis in the sense of רגישׁתּי (Targ.), or הרגישׁי (Ralbag), which also signifies "my feeling (αἴσθησις)," and the combination חושׁי בי is like Job 4:21; Job 6:13. Wherein the inference consists in self-evident, and proceeds from Job 20:4. In Job 20:3 expression is given to the ground of the conclusion intended in לכן: the chastisement of my dishonour, i.e., which tends to my dishonour (comp. Isa 53:5, chastisement which conduces to our peace), I must hear (comp. on this modal signification of the future, e.g., Job 17:2); and in Job 20:3 Zophar repeats what he has said in Job 20:2, only somewhat differently applied: the spirit, this inner light (vid., Job 32:8; Psychol. S. 154, f), answers him from the perception which is peculiar to himself, i.e., out of the fulness of this perception it furnishes him with information as to what is to be thought of Job with his insulting attacks, viz., (this is the substance of the השׁיב of the thoughts, and of the ענות of the spirit), that in this conduct of Job only his godlessness is manifest. This is what he warningly brings against him, Job 20:4 : knowest thou indeed (which, according to Job 41:1; Kg1 21:19, sarcastically is equivalent to: thou surely knowest, or in astonishment: what dost thou not know?!) this from the beginning, i.e., this law, which has been in operation from time immemorial (or as Ew.: hoccine scis aeternum esse, so that מני־עד is not a virtual adj., but virtual predicate-acc.), since man was placed (שׂים infin., therefore prop., since one has placed man) upon the earth (comp. the model passage, Deu 4:32), that the exulting of the wicked is מקּרוב, from near, i.e., not extending far, enduring only a short time (Arab. qrı̂b often directly signifies brevis); and the joy of the godless עדי־רגע, only for a moment, and continuing no longer?
6 If his aspiration riseth to the heavens,
And he causeth his head to touch the clouds:
7 Like his dung he perisheth for ever;
Those who see him say: Where is he?
8 As a dream he flieth away, and they cannot find him;
And he is scared away as a vision of the night.
9 The eye hath seen him, and never again,
And his place beholdeth him no more.
10 His children must appease the poor,
And his hands give up his wealth.
11 His bones were full of youthful vigour;
Now it is laid down with him in the dust.
If the exaltation of the evil-doer rises to heaven, and he causes his head to reach to the clouds, i.e., to touch the clouds, he notwithstanding perishes like his own dung. We are here reminded of what Obadiah, Job 20:4, says of Edom, and Isaiah, Isa 14:13-15, says of the king of Babylon. שׂיא is equivalent to נשׂיא, like שׂוא, Psa 89:10 = נשׂוא; the first weak radical is cast away, as in כּילי = נכילי, fraudulentus, machinator, Isa 32:5, and according to Olsh. in שׁיבה = ישׁיבה, Sa2 19:33. הגּיע is to be understood as causative (at least this is the most natural) in the same manner as in Isa 25:12, and freq. It is unnecessary, with Ew., Hirz., and Hlgst., after Schultens, to transl. כגללו, Job 20:7, according to the Arab. jlâl (whence the name Gell-ed-dn): secundum majestatem suam, or with Reiske to read בגללו, in magnificentia sua, and it is very hazardous, since the Hebrew גלל has not the meaning of Arab. jll, illustrem esse. Even Schultens, in his Commentary, has retracted the explanation commended in his Animadv., and maintained the correctness of the translation, sicut stercus suum (Jer. sicut sterquilinium), which is also favoured by the similar figurative words in Kg1 14:10 : as one burneth up (not: brushes away) dung (הגּלל), probably cow-dung as fuel, until it is completely gone. גּללו (or גּללו with an audible Shev) may be derived from גּלל, but the analogy of צללו favours the primary form גּל (Ew. 255, b); on no account is it גּלל. The word is not low, as Eze 4:12, comp. Zep 1:17, shows, and the figure, though revolting, is still very expressive; and how the fulfilment is to be thought of may be seen from an example from Kg2 9:37, according to which, "as dung upon the face of the field shall it be, so that they cannot say: this is Jezebel."
(Note: In Arabic, gille (גּלּה) and gelle (גּלּה) is the usual and preferred fuel (hence used as synon. of hhattab) formed of the dung of cows, and not indeed yoke-oxen (baqar 'ammle), because they have more solid fodder, which produces no material for the gelle, but from cattle that pasture in the open fields (baqar bat.tle), which are almost entirely milking cows. This dung is collected by women and children in the spring from the pastures as perfectly dry cakes, which have the green colour of the grass. Every husbandman knows that this kind of dung - the product of a rapid, one might say merely half, digestion, even when fresh, but especially when dry - is perfectly free from smell. What is collected is brought in baskets to the forming or pressing place (mattba'a, מטבּעה), where it is crumbled, then with water made into a thick mass, and, having been mixed with chopped straw, is formed by the women with the hand into round cakes, about a span across, and three fingers thick. They resemble the tanners' tan-cakes, only they are not square. Since this compound has the form of a loaf it is called qurss (which also signifies a loaf of bread); and since a definite form is given to it by the hand, it is called ttabu' (טבּוּע), collective ttbbi', which צפוּעי (צפיעי), Eze 4:15, resembles in meaning; for ssaf', צפע (cogn. ssafhh, צפח), signifies to beat anything with the palm of the hand. First spread out, then later on piled up, the gelle lies the whole summer in the mattba'a. The domes (qubeb) are not formed until a month before the rainy season, i.e., a circular structure is built up of the cakes skilfully placed one upon another like bricks; it is made from six to eight yards high, gradually narrowed and finished with a vaulted dome, whence this structure has its name, qubbe (קבּה). Below it measures about eight or ten paces, it is always hollow, and is filled from beneath by means of an opening which serves as a door. The outside of the qubbe is plastered over with a thick solution of dung; and this coating, when once dried in the sun, entirely protects the building, which is both storehouse and store, against the winter rains. When they begin to use the fuel, they take from the inside first by means of the doorway, and afterwards (by which time the heavy rains are over) they use up the building itself, removing the upper part first by means of a ladder. By the summer the qubbe has disappeared. Many large households have three or four of these stores. Where walled-in courts are spacious, as is generally the case, they stand within; where not, outside. The communities bordering on the desert, and exposed to attacks from the Arabs, place them close round their villages, which gives them a peculiar appearance. When attacked, the herds are driven behind these buildings, and the peasants make their appearance between them with their javelins. Seetzen reckons the gelle among the seven characteristics of the district of Haurn (Basan).
It appears that Eze 4:12. - where the prophet is allowed the usual cow-dung, the flame of which has no smell whatever, and its ashes, which smoulder for a long time, are as clean as wood ashes, instead of the cakes (גּללי) of human dung - is to be explained according to this custom. My fellow-travellers have frequently roasted mushrooms (futtr) and truffles (faq', פּקע) in the early spring in the glowing ashes of the gelle. On the other hand, it would be an error to infer from this passage that the Semites made use of human dung for fuel; the Semites (including the Nomads) are the most scrupulously particular people respecting cleanliness. According to the above, Zep 1:17 may be explained: "their flesh shall become like dung," i.e., be burned or destroyed like dung. And also we understand the above passage in the book of Job, "as his heap of dung-cakes shall he be consumed away," exactly like Kg1 14:10 : "I will burn (take away) the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man burneth the dung-cakes until they are consumed," The suff. in כּגללו refers to the habitation of the evil-doer, above whose grovelling joy the high dome of the dung-cakes rises, which, before one becomes aware of it, has disappeared; and throughout the description of the sudden destruction of the evil-doer, Kg1 14:8, Kg1 14:9, the reader must keep the figure of this dome and its disappearing before his mind. If it be objected that by such a rendering כּגלליו would be expected, Kg1 14:10 shows that גּלל (גּל) was also used as a collective, and the Arabic gelle is never used in any other way, which is the more remarkable, as one from the first regards its termination as the "Arab. t of unity." My attendants on my journey from Damascus (where there is no gelle, and consequently the word is not used) always took it so, and formed the plural gellt and the collective gilel, and were always laughed at and corrected: say Arab. aqrts jllt or tbb' jllt! - Wetzst.)
The continuation here, Job 20:7, is just the same: they who saw him (partic. of what is past, Ges. 134, 1) say: where is he? As a dream he flieth away, so that he is not found, and is scared away (ידּד Hoph., not ידּד Kal) as a vision of the night (חזּיון everywhere in the book of Job instead of חזון, from which it perhaps differs, as visum from visio), which one banishes on waking as a trick of his fancy (comp. Psa 73:20; Isa 29:7.). Eyes looked upon him (שׁזף only in the book of Job in this signification of a fixed scorching look, cogn. שׁדף, adurere, as is manifest from Sol 1:6), and do it no more; and his place (מקומו construed as fem., as Gen 18:24; Sa2 17:12, Cheth.) shall not henceforth regard him (שׁוּר, especially frequent in the book of Job, prop. to go about, cogn. תור, then to look about one). The futt. here everywhere describe what shall meet the evil-doer. Therefore Ewald's transl., "his fists smote down the weak," cannot be received. Moreover, חפניו, which must then be read instead of בּנין, does not occur elsewhere in this athletic signification; and it is quite unnecessary to derive ירצּוּ from a רצּה = רצּץ (to crush, to hurl to the ground), or to change it to ירצּוּ (Schnurrer) or ירצּצוּ (Olsh.); for although the thought, filios ejus vexabunt egeni (lxx according to the reading θλάσειαν, and Targ. according to the reading ירעעוּן), is not unsuitable for Job 20:10, a sense more natural in connection with the position of bnyw, and still more pleasing, is gained if רצּה is taken in the usual signification: to conciliate, appease, as the Targ. according to the reading ירעוּן (Peschito-word for ἀποκαταλλάσσειν), and Ges., Vaih., Schlottm., and others, after Aben-Ezra, Ralbag, Merc.: filii ejus placabunt tenues, quos scilicet eorum pater diripuerat, vel eo inopiae adigentur, ut pauperibus sese adjungere et ab illis inire gratiam cognantur. Its retributive relation to Job 20:19 is also retained by this rendering. The children of the unfeeling oppressor of the poor will be obliged, when the tyrant is dead, to conciliate the destitute; and his hands, by means of his children, will be obliged to give back his property, i.e., to those whom his covetousness had brought to beggary (און, exertion, strength, Job 18:7, then as hown, and synon. חיל, wealth, prob. from the radical meaning to breathe, which is differently applied in the Arabic aun, rest, and haun, lightness). Carey thinks that the description is retrospective: even he himself, in his lifetime, which, however, does not commend itself, since here it is throughout the deceased who is spoken of. As in Job 20:9, so now in Job 20:11 also, perf. and fut. interchange, the former of the past, the latter of the future. Jerome, by an amalgamation of two distinct radical significations, translates: ossa ejus implebuntur (it should be impleta erant) vitiis adolescentiae ejus, which is to be rejected, because עלוּם, Psa 90:8, is indeed intended of secret sin, but signifies generally that which is secret (veiled). On the contrary, עלוּמים, Job 33:25, certainly signifies adolescentia (Arab. gulûmat), and is accordingly, after lxx, Targ., and Syr., to be translated: his bones were full of youthful vigour. In Job 20:11, תּשׁכּב, as Job 14:19, can refer to the purely plural עצמותיו, but the predicate belonging to it would then be plur. in Job 20:11, and sing. in Job 20:11; on which account the reference to עלוּמו, which is in itself far more suitable, is to be preferred (Hirz., Schlottm.): his youthful vigour, on which he relied, lies with him in the dust (of the grave).
12 If wickedness tasted sweet in his mouth,
He hid it under his tongue;
13 He carefully cherished it and did not let it go,
And retained it in his palate:
14 His bread is now changed in his bowels,
It is the gall of vipers within him.
15 He hath swallowed down riches and now he spitteth them out,
God shall drive them out of his belly.
16 He sucked in the poison of vipers,
The tongue of the adder slayeth him.
The evil-doer is, in Job 20:12, likened to an epicure; he keeps hold of wickedness as long as possible, like a delicate morsel that is retained in the mouth (Renan: comme un bonbon qu'on laisse fondre dans la bouche), and seeks to enjoy it to the very last. המתּיק, to make sweet, has here the intransitive signification dulcescere, Ew. 122, c. הכחיד, to remove from sight, signifies elsewhere to destroy, here to conceal (as the Piel, Job 6:10; Job 15:18). חמל, to spare, is construed with על, which is usual with verbs of covering and protecting. The conclusion of the hypothetical antecedent clauses begins with Job 20:14; the perf. נהפּך (with Kametz by Athnach) describes the suddenness of the change; the מרורת which follows is not equivalent to למרורת (Luther: His food shall be turned to adder's gall in his body), but Job 20:14 expresses the result of the change in a substantival clause. The bitter and poisonous are synonymous in the ancient languages; hence we find the meanings poison and gall (Job 20:25) in מררה, and ראשׁ signifies both a poisonous plant which is known by its bitterness, and the poison of plants like to the poison of serpents (Job 20:16; Deu 32:33). חיל (Job 20:15) is property, without the accompanying notion of forcible acquisition (Hirz.), which, on the contrary, is indicated by the בּלע. The following fut. consec. is here not aor., but expressive of the inevitable result which the performance of an act assuredly brings: he must vomit back the property which he has swallowed down; God casts it out of his belly, i.e., (which is implied in בּלע, expellere) forcibly, and therefore as by the pains of colic. The lxx, according to whose taste the mention of God here was contrary to decorum, trans. ἐξ οἰκίας (read κοιλίας, according to Cod. Alex.) αὐτοῦ ἐξελκύσει αὐτὸν ἄγγελος (Theod. δυνάστης). The perf., Job 20:15, is in Job 20:16 changed into the imperf. fut. יינק, which more strongly represents the past action as that which has gone before what is now described; and the ασυνδέτως, fut. which follows, describes the consequence which is necessarily and directly involved in it. Psa 140:4 may be compared with Job 20:16, Pro 23:32 with Job 20:16. He who sucked in the poison of low desire with a relish, will meet his punishment in that in which he sinned: he is destroyed by the poisonous deadly bite of the serpent, for the punishment of sin is fundamentally nothing but the nature of sin itself brought fully out.
17 He shall not delight himself in streams,
Like to rivers and brooks of honey and cream.
18 Giving back that for which he laboured, he shall not swallow it;
He shall not rejoice according to the riches he hath gotten.
19 Because he cast down, let the destitute lie helpless;
He shall not, in case he hath seized a house, finish building it.
20 Because he knew no rest in his craving,
He shall not be able to rescue himself with what he most loveth.
As poets sing of the aurea aetas of the paradise-like primeval age: Flumina jam lactis, jam flumina nectaris ibant,
(Note: Ovid, Metam. i. 112, comp. Virgil, Ecl. iv. 30:
Et durae quercus sudabant roscida mella;
and Horace, Epod. xvi. 47
Mella cava manant ex ilice, montibus altis
Levis crepante lympha desilit pede.)
and as the land of promise is called in the words of Jehovah in the Thora, "a land flowing with milk and honey," the puffed-up prosperity to which the evil-doer has attained by injustice is likened to streams (פּלגּות, prop. dividings, and indeed perhaps of a country = districts, Jdg 5:15., or as here, of a fountain = streams) of rivers, of brooks (two gen. appositionis which are co-ordinate, of which Hupfeld thinks one must be crossed out; they, however, are not unpoetical, since, just as in Psa 78:9, the flow of words is suspended, Ew. 289, c) of honey and cream (comp. cream and oil, Job 29:6), if נהרי נחלי is not perhaps (which is more in accordance with the accentuation) intended as an explanatory permutative of בפלגות: he shall not feast himself upon streams, streamings of rivers of honey and cream (Dachselt); and by אל־ירא (seq. Beth, to fasten one's gaze upon anything = feast one's self upon it), the prospect of enjoying this prosperity, and indeed, since the moral judgment and feeling are concerned in the affirmation of the fact (אל, as Job 5:22; Psa 41:3; Pro 3:3, Pro 3:25), the privilege of this prospect, is denied. This thought, that the enjoyment aimed at and anticipated shall not follow the attainment of this height of prosperity, is reiterated in a twofold form in Job 20:18.
Job 20:18 is not to be translated: He gives back that which he has gained without swallowing it down, which must have been ישׁיב; the syntactic relation is a different one: the Waw of ולא is not expressive of detail; the detailing is implied in the partic., which is made prominent as an antecedent, as if it were: because, or since, he gives out again that which he has acquired (ינע only here instead of יגיע, Job 10:3 and freq.), he has no pleasure in it, he shall or may not altogether swallow it down (Targ. incorrectly ולא־יגמר, after the Arabic blg, to penetrate, attain an object). The formation of the clause corresponds entirely with Job 20:18. All attempts at interpretation which connect כּחיל תּמוּרתו with משׁיב, Job 20:18, are to be objected to: (he gives it back again) as property of his restitution, i.e., property that is to be restored (Schlottm.), or the property of another (Hahn). Apart from the unsuitableness of the expression to the meaning found in it, it is contrary to the relative independence of the separate lines of the verse, which our poet almost always preserves, and is also opposed by the interposing of ולא יבלע. The explanation chosen by Schult., Oet., Umbr., Hirz., Renan, and others, after the Targ., is utterly impossible: as his possession, so his exchange (which is intended to mean: restitution, giving up); this, instead of כּחיל, must have been not merely כּחיל, but כּחילו. The designed relation of the members of the sentence is, without doubt, that כחיל תמורתו is a nearer defining of ולא יעלס, after the manner of an antecedent clause, and from which, that it may be emphatically introduced, it begins by means of Waw apod. (to which Schult. not unsuitably compares Jer 6:19; Kg1 15:13). The following explanation is very suitable: according to the power, i.e., entire fulness of his exchange, but not in the sense of "to the full amount of its value" (Carey, as Rosenm.), connected with משׁיב, but connected with what follows: "how great soever his exchange (gain), still he does not rejoice" (Ew.). But it is not probable that חיל here signifies power = a great quantity, where property and possessions are spoken of. The most natural rendering appears to me to be this: according to the relation of the property of his exchange (תמורה from מור, Syr. directly emere, cogn. מהר, מחר, and perhaps also מכר, here of exchange, barter, or even acquisition, as Job 15:31; comp. Job 28:17, of the means of exchange), i.e., of the property exchanged, bartered, gained by barter by him, he is not to enjoy, i.e., the rejoicing which might have been expected in connection with the greatness of the wealth he has amassed, departs from him.
Jerome is not the only expositor who (as though the Hebrew tenses were subject to no rule, and might mean everything) translates Job 20:19, domum rapuit et non aedificvit eam (equivalent to quam non aedificaverat). Even Hupfeld translates thus, by taking ולא יבנהו as imperfect = והוּא לא בנהוּ; but he, of course, fails to furnish a grammatical proof for the possibility of inferring a plusquamperfectum sense. It might sooner be explained: instead of building it (Lit. Centralblatt, 1853, Nr. 24). But according to the syntax, Job 20:19 must be an antecedent clause: because he crushed, left (therefore: crushed by himself) the destitute alone;
(Note: The Targ. translates: because he brought to ruin the business of the poor (עזב after עזּבון in Ezekiel); and Parchon: because he brought to ruin the courts of the poor (after the Mishna-word מעזיבה, a paved floor); but עזב, according to the Masora on Isa 58:2 (comp. Kimchi, Michlol, p. 35), is to be read עזב as a verb.)
and Job 20:19 the conclusion: he has pillaged a house, and will not build it, i.e., in case he has plundered a house, he will not build it up. For בּית גּזל, according to the accents, which are here correct, is not to be translated: domus, quam rapuit, but hypothetically: si (ἐὰν) domum rapuit, to which ybnhw wl' is connected by Waw apod. (comp. Job 7:21); and בּנה signifies here, as frequently, not: to build, but: to build round, build additions to, continue building (comp. Ch2 11:5-6; Psa 89:3, Psa 89:5). In Job 20:20 similar periodizing occurs: because he knew not שׁלו (neutral = שׁלוה, Pro 17:1; Ew. 293, c), contentment, rest, and sufficiency (comp. Isa 59:8, לא ידע שׁלום) in his belly, i.e., his craving, which swallows up everything: he will not be able to deliver himself (מלּט like פּלּט, Job 23:7, as intensive of Kal: to escape, or also = מלּט נפשׁו, which Amo 2:15 seems to favour) with (בּ as Job 19:20) his dearest treasure (thus e.g., Ewald), or: he will not be able to rescue his dearest object, prop. not to effect a rescue with his dearest object, the obj., as Job 16:4, Job 16:10; Job 31:12, conceived of as the instrument (vid., e.g., Schlottm.). The former explanation is more natural and simple. חמוּד, that which is exceedingly desired (Psa 39:12), of health and pleasantness; Isa 44:9, of idols, as the cherished objects of their worshippers), is the dearest and most precious thing to which the sinner clung with all his soul, not, as Bttch. thinks, the soul itself.
(Note: Hupfeld interprets: non fruitur securus ventre suo h. e. cibo quo venter potitus erat et deliciis quas non salvas retinebit (or also Job 20:20 as a clause by itself: cum deliciis suis non evadet), but without any proof that ידע בּ can signify frui, and בטן metonymically food, whereas the assertion that שׁלו cannot be equivalent to שׁלו, and cannot be used of rest with reference to the desire, is unfounded. In Hebrew the neuter adj. can be used as a substantive, just as in Greek, e.g., τὸ ἀσφαλές, security, τὸ εὐτυχές, success (comp. e.g., the combination בתמים ואמת), and שלח signifies release and ease (Arab. followed by ‛n), without distinction of what disturbs, be it danger, or pain, or any kind of emotion whatever.)
21 Nothing escaped his covetousness,
Therefore his prosperity shall not continue.
22 In the fulness of his need it shall be strait with him,
Every hand of the needy shall come upon him.
23 It shall come to pass: in order to fill his belly,
He sendeth forth the glow of His anger into him,
And He causeth it to rain upon him into his flesh.
24 He must flee from an iron weapon,
Therefore a brazen bow pierceth him through.
25 It teareth, then it cometh forth out of his body,
And the steel out of his gall,
The terrors of death come upon him.
The words of Job 20:21 are: there was nothing that escaped (שׂריד, as Job 18:19, from שׂרד, Arab. šarada, aufugere) his eating (from אכל, not from אכל), i.e., he devoured everything without sparing, even to the last remnant; therefore טוּבו, his prosperity, his abundant wealth, will not continue or hold out (יחיל, as Psa 10:5, to be solid, powerful, enduring, whence חיל, Arab. ȟı̂lat, ḥawl). Hupf. transl. differently: nihil ei superstes ad vescendum, itaque non durant ejus bona; but שׂריד signifies first elapsum, and על־כן propterea; and we may retain these first significations, especially since Job 20:21 is not future like Job 20:21. The tone of prediction taken up in Job 20:21 is continued in what follows. The inf. constr. מלאות (prop. מלאות, but with Cholem by the Aleph, since the Waw is regarded as יתיר, superfluous), formed after the manner of the verbs Lamed He (Ew. 238, c), is written like קראות, Jdg 8:1 (comp. on the other hand the scriptio devectiva, Lev 8:33; Lev 12:4); and שׂפקו (with Sin, as Norzi decides after Codd., Kimchi, and Farisol, not Samech) is to be derived from שׂפק (ספק), sufficientia (comp. the verb, Kg1 20:10): if his sufficiency exists in abundance, not from שׂפק = Arab. safqat, ṣafqat, complosio, according to which Schultens explains: if his joyous clapping of hands has reached its highest point (Elizabeth Smith: "while clapping the hands in the fulness of joy"), to which מלאות is not suitable, and which ought at least to be שׁפק כּפּיו. Therefore: in the fulness of his need shall he be straitened (יצר with the tone drawn back for יצר on account of the following monosyllable, although also apocopated futt. follow further on in the strict future signification, according to poetic usage), by which not merely the fearful foreboding is meant, which just in the fullest overflow makes known his impending lot, but the real calamity, into which his towering prosperity suddenly changes, as Job 20:22 shows: All the hands of the destitute come upon him (בּוא seq. acc.: invadere) to avenge on him the injustice done to the needy. It is not necessary to understand merely such as he has made destitute, it is כּל־יד; the assertion is therefore general: the rich uncompassionate man becomes a defenceless prey of the proletaries.
The יהי which opens this verse (and which also occurs elsewhere, e.g., Job 18:12, in a purely future signification), here, like ויהי, Sa2 5:24 (Ew. 333, b), serves to introduce the following ישׁלּח (it shall happen: He shall send forth); ויהי (e.g., Gen 40:1) frequent in the historical style, and והיה in the prophetical, are similarly used. In order to fill his belly, which is insatiable, God will send forth against him His glowing wrath (comp. Lam 1:13, from on high hath He sent fire into my bones), and will rain upon him into his flesh, or his plumpness (Arab. fi lachmihi). Thus we believe בּלחוּמו must be understood by referring to Zep 1:17; where, perhaps not without reference to this speech of Zophar, the כּגּללים, which serves to explain Job 20:7, coincides with וּלחמּם, which serves to explain this בלחומו; and the right meaning is not even missed by the lxx, which translates καὶ τὰς σάρκας αὐτῶν ὡς βόλβιτα.
(Note: This passage is translated: and their blood is poured forth as dust, i.e., useless rubbish (Arab. el-ghabra אלעברה), and their flesh as filth. The form of inflection לחמּם is referable to לחם after the form לאם.)
A suitable thought is obtained if לחוּם is taken in the signification, food: He will rain upon him his food, i.e., what is fit for him (with Beth of the instrument instead of the accusative of the object), or: He will rain down (His wrath) upon him as his food (with Beth essent., according to which Ew.: what can satisfy him; Bridel: pour son aliment; Renan: en guise de pain); but we give the preference to the other interpretation, because it is at once natural in this book, abounding in Arabisms, to suppose for לחום the signification of the Arab. laḥm, which is also supported in Hebrew by Zep 1:17; further, because the Targ. favours it, which transl. בּשׁלדיהּ, and expositors, as Aben-Ezra and Ralbag, who interpret by בבשׂרו; finally, because it gives an appropriate idea, to which Lam 1:13 presents a commendable parallel, comp. also Jam 5:3, and Koran, Sur. 2, 169: "those who hide what God has sent down by the Scripture, and thereby obtain a small profit, eat only fire into their belly." That עלימו can be used pathetically for עליו is unmistakeably clear from Job 22:2, comp. Job 27:23, and on Psa 11:7; the morally indignant speech which threatens punishment, intentionally seeks after rare solemn words and darksome tones. Therefore: Upon his flesh, which has been nourished in unsympathizing greediness, God rains down, i.e., rain of fire, which scorches it. This is the hidden background of the lot of punishment, the active principle of which, though it be effected by human agency, is the punitive power of the fire of divine wrath. Job 20:24 describe, by illustration, how it is worked out. The evil-doer flees from a hostile superior power, is hit in the back by the enemy's arrows; and since he, one who is overthrown, seeks to get free from them, he is made to feel the terrors of inevitably approaching death.
The two futt. may be arranged as in a conditional clause, like Psa 91:7, comp. Amo 9:2-4; and this is, as it seems, the mutual relation of the two expressions designed by the poet (similar to Isa 24:18): if he flee from the weapons of iron, i.e., the deadly weapon in the thick of the fight, he succumbs to that which is destructive by and by: the bow of brass (נחוּשׁה poet. for נחשׁת, as Psa 18:35, although it might also be an adj., since eth, as the Arab. qaws shows, is really a feminine termination) will pierce him through (fut. Kal of חלף, Arab. chlf, to press further and further, press after, here as in Jdg 5:26). The flight of the disheartened is a punishment which is completed by his being hit while fleeing by the arrow which the brazen bow sends with swift power after him. In Job 20:25 the Targ. reads מגּוהּ with He mappic., and translates: he (the enemy, or God) draws (stringit), and it (the sword) comes out of its sheath, which is to be rejected because גּו cannot signify vagina. Kimchi and most Jewish expositors interpret מגּוה by מגּוּף; the lxx also translates it σῶμα. To understand it according to גּו (back), of the hinder part of the body, gives no suitable sense, since the evil-doer is imagined as hit in the back, the arrow consequently passing out at the front;
(Note: Thus sings the warrior Cana'an Tjr (died about 1815) after the loss of his wife: -
"My grief for her is the brief of him whose horse is dashed in pieces in the desert.
The way is wild, and there is no help from the travellers who have hurried on before.
My groaning is like the groaning of one who, mortally wounded between the shoulders,
Will flee, and trails after him the lance that is fastened in him."
whereas the signification body is suitable, and is also made sufficiently certain by the cognate form גּויּה. The verb שׁלף, however, is used as in Jdg 3:22 : he who is hit drawn the arrow out, then it comes out of his body, into which it is driven deep; and the glance, i.e., the metal head of the arrow (like להב, Jdg 3:22, the point in distinction from the shaft), out of his gall (מררה = מררה, Job 16:13, so called from its bitterness, as χολή, χόλος, comp. χλόος, χλωρός, from the green-yellow colour), since, as the Syriac version freely translates, his gall-bladder is burst.
(Note: Abulwalid (in Kimchi) understands the red gall, i.e., the gall-bladder, by מרורה, after the Arabic marâre. If this is pierced, its contents are emptied into the lower part of the body, and the man dies.)
Is יהלך, as a parallel word to ויּצא, to be connected with ממררתו, or with what follows? The accentuation varies. The ordinary interpunction is וברק with Dech, ממררתו Mercha, or more correctly Mercha-Zinnorith, יהלך Rebia mugrasch (according to which, Ew., Umbr., Vaih., Welte, Hahn, Schlottm., and Olsh. divide); ממררתו is, however, also found with Athnach. Although the latter mode of accentuation is only feebly supported, we nevertheless consider it as the more correct, for עליו אמים, in the mind of the poet, can hardly have formed a line of the verse. If, however, יהלך עליו אמים is now taken together, it is a matter for inquiry whether it is to be explained: he passes away, since terrors come upon him (Schult., Rosenm., Hirz., Von Gerl., Carey), or: terrors come upon him (lxx, Targ., Syr., Jer., Ramban). We consider the latter as the only correct interpretation; for if יהלך ought to be understood after Job 14:20; Job 16:22, the poet would have expressed himself ambiguously, since it is at least as natural to consider אמים as the subject of יהלך, as to take עליו אמים as an adverbial clause. The former, however, is both natural according to the syntax (vid., Ges. 147, a) and suitable in matter: terrors (i.e., of certain death to him in a short time) draw on upon him, and accordingly we decide in its favour.
26 All darkness is reserved for his treasured things,
A fire that is not blown upon devoureth him;
It feedeth upon what is left in his tent.
27 The heavens reveal his iniquity,
And the earth riseth up against him.
28 The produce of his house must vanish,
Flowing away in the day of God's wrath.
. . . . . .
29 This is the lot of the wicked man from Elohim,
And the heritage decreed for him from God.
As in Psa 17:14 God's store of earthly goods for the children of men is called צפוּן (צפין), so here the stores laid up by man himself are called צפוּניו. Total darkness, which will finally destroy them, is decreed by God against these stores of the godless, which are brought together not as coming from the hand of God, but covetously, and regardless of Him. Instead of טמוּן it might also have been צפוּן (Job 15:20; Job 21:19; Job 24:1), and instead of לצפוּניו also לטמוּניו (Deu 33:19); but טמוּן is, as Job 40:13 shows, better suited to darkness (on account of the ט, this dull-toned muta, with which the word begins). כּל־חשׁך signifies sheer darkness, as in Psa 39:6, כל־הבל, sheer nothingness; Psa 45:14, כל־כבודה, sheer splendour; and perhaps Isa 4:5, כל־כבוד, sheer glory. And the thought, expressed with somewhat of a play upon words, is, that to the θησαυρίζειν of the godless corresponds a θησαυρίζειν of God, the Judge (Rom 2:5; Jam 5:3): the one gathers up treasures, and the other nothing but darkness, to whom at an appointed season they shall be surrendered. The תּאכלהוּ which follows is regarded by Ges. as Piel instead of תּאכּלהוּ, but such a resolving of the characteristic sharpened syllable of Piel is unsupportable; by Hirz., Olsh. 250, b, and Pual instead of תּאכּלהוּ, but אכּל signifies to be eaten, not (so that it might be connected with an accusative of the obj.) to get to eat; by Ew., Hupf., as Kal for תּאכלהוּ, which is possible both from the letters and the matter (vid., on Psa 94:20); but more correctly it is regarded as Poel, for such Poel forms from strong roots do occur, as שׁפט (vid., on Job 9:15), and that the Cholem of these forms can be shortened into Kametz-chatuph is seen from ודרשׁוּ, Psa 109:10 (vid., Psalter in loc.).
(Note: Such a contraction is also presented in the readings תּרצחוּ, Psa 62:4; מלשׁני, Psa 101:5; and ויּחלקם, Ch1 23:6; Ch1 24:3. All these forms are not resolved forms of Piel (Ges., Berth., Olsh. 248, a), but contracted forms of Poel with Kametz-chatuph instead of Cholem. תּהתלּוּ, Job 13:9, is not a resolved form of Piel, but a non-syncopated Hiphil. It should be observed that the Chateph-Kametz in "wedorschu" above and at p. 328 is used as an unmistakeable sign of the ŏ. - Tr.])
The Poel is in the passage before us the intensive of Kal: a fire which is not blown upon shall eat him up. By this translation נפּח is equivalent to נפּחה, since attention is given to the gender of אשׁ in the verb immediately connected with it, but it is left out of consideration in the verbs נפח and ירע which stand further form it, which Olshausen thinks doubtful; there are, however, not a few examples which may be adduced in favour of it, as Kg1 19:11; Isa 33:9; comp. Ges. 147, rem. 1. Certainly the relative clause לא נפח may also be explained by supplying בּהּ: into which one has not blown, or that one has not blown on (Symm., Theod., ἄνευ φυσήματος): both renderings are possible, according to Eze 22:20, Eze 22:22; but since the masc. ירע follows, having undoubtedly אשׁ as its subject, we can unhesitatingly take the Synallage gen. as beginning even with נפח. A fire which needs no human help for its kindling and its maintenance is intended (comp. on לא ביד, Job 34:20); therefore "fire of God," Job 1:16. This fire feasts upon what has escaped (שׂריד, as Job 20:21; Job 18:19), i.e., whatever has escaped other fates, in his tent. yeera` (Milel) is fut. apoc. Kal; the form of writing ירע (fut. apoc. Niph.) proposed by Olsh. on account of the change of gender, i.e., it is devoured, is to be rejected for the reason assigned in connection with נפח. The correct interpretation has been brought forward by Schultens.
It is not without reference to Job 16:18-19, where Job has called upon earth and heaven as witnesses, that in Job 20:27 Zophar continues: "the heavens reveal his guilt, and the earth rises against him;" heaven and earth bear witness to his being an abhorrence, not worthy of being borne by the earth and shone upon by the light of heaven; they testify this, since their powers from below and above vie with one another to get rid of him. מתקוממה is connected closely with לו (which has Lamed raphatum) by means of Mercha-Zinnorith, and under the influence of the law, according to which before a monosyllabic accented word the tone is drawn back from the last syllable of the preceding word to the penultima (Ew. 73, 3), is accented as Milel on account of the pause.
(Note: This mode of accentuation, which is found in Codd. and is attested by grammarians (vid., Norzi), is grammatically more intelligible than that of our editions, which have the Mercha with the final syllable. For while מתקוממה, as Milel, is the pausal-form of the fem. part. Hithpalel for מתקוממה (מתקוממת) with a pausal instead of , it ought to be as Milra, a passive form; but the Hithpalal has no meaning here, and is in general not firmly supported within the range of biblical Hebrew.)
In Job 20:28, Ges., Olsh., and others translate: the produce of his house, that which is swept together, must vanish away in the day of His wrath; נגּרות corrasae (opes), Niph. from גּרר. But first, the suff. is wanting to נגרות; and secondly, בּיום אפּו has no natural connection in what precedes. The Niph. נגרות in the signification diffluentia, derived from נגר morf devire, to flow away (comp. Arab. jry, to flow), is incomparably better suited to the passage (comp. Sa2 14:14, where Luther transl.: as water which glides away into the earth). The close of the description is similar to Isa 17:11 : "In the day that thou plantedst, thou causedst it to increase, and with the morning thy seed was in flowera harvest-head in the day of deep wounding and deadly sorrow." So here everything that the evil-doer hoards up is spoken of as "vanishing in the day of God's wrath."
The speech now closes by summing up like Bildad's, Job 18:21 : "This is the portion or inheritance of, i.e., the lot that is assigned or falls to, the wicked man (אדם רשׁע, a rare application of אדם, comp. Pro 6:12, instead of which אישׁ is more usual) from Elohim, and this the heritage of his (i.e., concerning him) decree from God." אמר (אמר) with an objective suff., which also occurs elsewhere of the almighty word of command of God (vid., on Hab 3:9), signifies here God's judicial arrangement or order, in this sense just as Arabic as Hebraic, for also in Arab. amr (plur. awâmir) signifies command and order.
The speech of Zophar, Job 20, is his ultimatum, for in the third course of the controversy he takes no part. We have already seen from his first speech, Job 11, that he is the most impassioned of the friends. His vehemence is now the less excusable, since Job in his previous speech has used the truly spiritual language of importunate entreaty and earnest warning in reply to the friends. The friends would now have done well if they had been silent, and still better if they had recognised in the sufferer the tried and buffeted servant of God, and had withdrawn their charges, which his innermost nature repudiates. But Zophar is not disposed to allow the reproach of the correction which they received to rest upon him; in him we have an illustration of the fact that a man is never more eloquent than when he has to defend his injured honour, but that he is also never more in danger of regarding the extravagant images of natural excitement as a higher inspiration, or, however, as striking justifications coming from the fulness of a superior perception. It has been rightly remarked, that in Zophar the poet described to us one of those hot-heads who pretend to fight for religion that is imperilled, while they are zealous for their own wounded vanity. Instead of being warned by Job's threat of judgment, he thrusts back his attempt at producing dismay be a similar attempt. He has nothing new to bring forward in reply to Job; the poet has skilfully understood how to turn the heart of his readers step by step from the friends, and in the same degree to gain its sympathy for Job. For they are completely spent in their one dogma; and while in Job an endless multitude of thoughts and feelings surge up one after another, their heart is as hermetically closed against every new perception and emotion. All that is new in the speech of Zophar, and in those of the friends generally, in this second course of the controversy, is, that they no longer try to lure Job on to penitence by promises, but endeavour to bring him to a right state of mind, or rather to weaken his supposedly-mad assault upon themselves, by presenting to him only the most terrible images. It is not possible to illustrate the principle that the covetous, uncompassionate rich man is torn away from his prosperity by the punishment God decrees for him, more fearfully and more graphically than Zophar does it; and this terrible description is not overdrawn, but true and appropriate-but in opposition to Job it is the extreme of uncharitableness which outdoes itself: applied to him, the fearful truth becomes a fearful lie. For in Zophar's mind Job is the godless man, whose rejoicing does not last long, who indeed raises himself towards heaven, but as his own dung must he perish, and to whom the sin of his unjust gain is become as the poison of the viper in his belly. The arrow of God's wrath sticks fast in him; and though he draw it out, it has already inflicted on him a deservedly mortal wound! The fire of God which has already begun to consume his possessions, does not rest until even the last remnant in his tent is consumed. The heavens, where in his self-delusion he seeks the defender of his innocence, reveal his guilt, and the earth, which he hopes to have as a witness in his favour, rises up as his accuser. Thus mercilessly does Zophar seek to stifle the new trust which Job conceives towards God, to extinguish the faith which bursts upwards from beneath the ashes of the conflict. Zophar's method of treatment is soul-destroying; he seeks to slay that life which germinates from the feeling of death, instead of strengthening it. He does not, however, succeed; for so long as Job does not become doubtful of his innocence, the uncharitableness of the friends must be to him the thread by which he finds his way through the labyrinth of his sufferings to the God who loves him, although He seems to be angry with him.