His sons come to honor, and he knows it not; and they are brought low, but he perceives it not of them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Job 14:21. His sons come to honour — Hebrews יכבדו, jicbedu: increase either in number or in greatness. The LXX. render it, πολλων δε γενομενων, become many; and the word ויצערו, vejitzgnaru, and they are brought low, they interpret in the opposite sense, εαν δε ολιγοι γενωνται, if they be diminished, or become few. He knoweth it not, &c. — Either, 1st, He is ignorant of all such events; or, 2d, Is not concerned nor affected with them. A dead or dying man minds not these things. The consideration of this should moderate our cares concerning our children and families. God will know what becomes of them or happens to them, when we are gone. To him, therefore, let us commit them: with him let us leave them; and not burden ourselves with needless, fruitless cares concerning them.
They are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them - He is not permitted to sympathize with them, or to sustain them in their trials. This is another of the evils of death. When his children need his counsel and advice, he is not permitted to give it. He is taken away from his family, and revisits them no more.He knoweth it not; either,
1. Is ignorant of all such events; or,
2. Is not concerned nor affected with them. A dead or dying man minds not these things. Nahum 3:15; their families increase like a flock, become very numerous, which was reckoned a great blessing; or "become heavy" (t); being loaded with gold and silver, with riches and honour, raised to great grandeur and dignity, and possessed of much wealth and large estates:
and he knoweth it not; the man whose countenance is changed and sent away into another world; for the dead know nothing of the affairs of this life; a good man indeed after death knows more of God and Christ, of the doctrines of grace, and mysteries of Providence; but he knows nothing of the affairs of his family he has left behind: some understand this of a man on his death bed while alive, who, when he is told of the promotion of his sons to honour, or of the increase of their worldly substance, takes no notice of it; either being deprived of his senses by the disease upon him; or through the greatness of his pains and agonies, or the intenseness of his thoughts about a future state, does not notice what is told him, nor rejoice at it; which in the time of health would have been pleasing to him: but the first sense seems best:
and they are brought low, that is, his sons; or "are diminished" (u); lessened in their numbers, one taken off after another, and so his family decreases; or they come into low circumstances of life, are reduced in the world, and brought to straits and difficulties, to want and poverty:
but he perceiveth it not of them; he is not sensible of their troubles, and so not grieved at them; see Isaiah 63:16; or when he is told of them on his death bed, he does not take notice of them, or regard them, having enough to grapple with himself, and his mind intent on his everlasting state, or carried above them in the views of the love, grace, and covenant of God; see 2 Samuel 23:5.His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)21. “The dead know not anything … also their love … is now perished,” Ecclesiastes 9:5-6.Verse 21. - His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not. The meaning seems to be, "If his sons come to honour, it is of no advantage to him; in the remote and wholly separate region of Sheol he will not be aware of it." The view is more dismal than that of Aristotle, who argues that the fate of those whom they have loved and left on earth will be sure to penetrate, in course of time (ἐπὶ τινα χρόνον)' to the departed, and cause them a certain amount of joy or sorrow ('Eth. Nic.,' 1:11). And they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them. Equally, in the opposite case, if his sons are brought low, he is ignorant of it, and unaffected by their fate.
That Thou wouldst conceal me till Thine anger change,
That Thou wouldst appoint me a time and then remember me!
14 If man dieth, shall he live again?
All the days of my warfare would Iwait,
Until my change should come.
15 Thou wouldst call and I would answer,
Thou wouldst have a desire for the work of Thy hands -
16 For now thou numberest my steps,
And dost not restrain thyself over my sins.
The optative יתּן מי introduces a wish that has reference to the future, and is therefore, as at Job 6:8, followed by futt.; comp. on the other hand, Job 23:3, utinam noverim. The language of the wish reminds one of such passages in the Psalms as Psalm 31:21; Psalm 27:5 (comp. Isaiah 26:20): "In the day of trouble He hideth me in His pavilion, and in the secret of His tabernacle doth He conceal me." So Job wishes that Hades, into which the wrath of God now precipitates him for ever, may only be a temporary place of safety for him, until the wrath of God turn away (שׁוּב, comp. the causative, Job 9:13); that God would appoint to him, when there, a חק, i.e., a terminus ad quem (comp. Job 14:5), and when this limit should be reached, again remember him in mercy. This is a wish that Job marks out for himself. The reality is indeed different: "if (ἐὰν) a man dies, will he live again?" The answer which Job's consciousness, ignorant of anything better, alone can give, is: No, there is no life after death. It is, however, none the less a craving of his heart that gives rise to the wish; it is the most favourable thought, - a desirable possibility, - which, if it were but a reality, would comfort him under all present suffering: "all the days of my warfare would I wait until my change came." צבא is the name he gives to the whole of this toilsome and sorrowful interval between the present and the wished-for goal, - the life on earth, which he likens to the service of the soldier or of the hireling (Job 7:1), and which is subject to an inevitable destiny (Job 5:7) of manifold suffering, together with the night of Hades, where this life is continued in its most shadowy and dismal phase. And חליפה does not here signify destruction in the sense of death, as the Jewish expositors, by comparing Isaiah 2:18 and Sol 2:11, explain it; but (with reference to צבאי, comp. Job 10:17) the following after (Arab. chlı̂ft, succession, successor, i.e., of Mohammed), relief, change (syn. תּמוּרה, exchange, barter), here of change of condition, as Psalm 55:20, of change of mind; Aquila, Theod., ἄλλαγμα. Oh that such a change awaited him! What a blessed future would it be if it should come to pass! Then would God call to him in the depth of Shel, and he, imprisoned until the appointed time of release, would answer Him from the deep. After His anger was spent, God would again yearn after the work of His hands (comp. Job 10:3), the natural loving relation between the Creator and His creature would again prevail, and it would become manifest that wrath is only a waning power (Isaiah 54:8), and love His true and essential attribute. Schlottman well observes: "Job must have had a keen perception of the profound relation between the creature and his Maker in the past, to be able to give utterance to such an imaginative expectation respecting the future."
In Job 14:16, Job supports what is cheering in this prospect, with which he wishes he might be allowed to console himself, by the contrast of the present. עתּה כּי is used here as in Job 6:21; כי is not, as elsewhere, where עתה כי introduces the conclusion, confirmatory (indeed now equals then indeed), but assigns a reason (for now). Now God numbers his steps (Job 13:27), watching him as a criminal, and does not restrain himself over his sin. Most modern expositors (Ew., Hlgst, Hahn, Schlottm.) translate: Thou observest not my sins, i.e., whether they are to be so severely punished or not; but this is poor. Raschi: Thou waitest not over my sins, i.e., to punish them; instead of which Ralbag directly: Thou waitest not for my sins equals repentance or punishment; but שׁמר is not supported in the meaning: to wait, by Genesis 37:11. Aben-Ezra: Thou lookest not except on my sins, by supplying רק, according to Ecclesiastes 2:24 (where, however, probably משׁיאכל should be read, and מ after אדם, just as in Job 33:17, has fallen away). The most doubtful is, with Hirzel, to take the sentence as interrogative, in opposition to the parallelism: and dost Thou not keep watch over my sins? It seems to me that the sense intended must be derived from the phrase אף שׁמר, which means to keep anger, and consequently to delay the manifestation of it (Amos 1:11). This phrase is here so applied, that we obtain the sense: Thou keepest not Thy wrath to thyself, but pourest it out entirely. Mercerus is substantially correct: non reservas nec differs peccati mei punitionem.
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