Why are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your sight?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Wherefore are we counted as beasts.—Referring to Job’s words (Job 13:4, &c., Job 16:2, &c.). In this chapter there is a marked increase in his harshness and violence. It has, however, a certain resemblance to Job 8, inasmuch as Bildad works out a simile here, as he did there; and in Job 18:16 the two similes touch. In Job 18:2, which resembles Job 8:2, we must supply, as the Authorised Version does, Will it be ere? or the negative, Will ye not make? &c., or else we must render, “How long [will ye speak thus]? Make an end of words,” &c. The plural is used because Job is regarded as the representative of a class, or else as we use the plural instead of the singular in addressing a person.Job 18:3-4. Wherefore are we counted as beasts? — That is, ignorant and stupid men, Job 17:4; Job 17:10; and reputed vile in your sight — Hebrew, נשׂמנו, nitmeinu, polluted or unclean; that is, not fit to be conversed with, or contemptible, as such things are. He teareth himself in his anger —
That is, Job does, as if he had said, O thou that tearest thyself, thou complainest of us for vexing thee with our speeches, when, in truth, thou art thy own greatest tormentor. Shall the earth be forsaken for thee? — Shall God, for thy sake, or to prevent thy complaints and clamours, give over the government of the earth and men and things in it, and suffer all things to fall out by chance and promiscuously, to good and bad men, without any regard to his truth, wisdom, or justice? And shall the rock be removed out of its place? — Shall the counsels of God, which are more firm and immoveable than rocks, and the whole course of his providence, be altered to comply with thy fancies or humours?Job 12:7 - that even the beasts could give them information about God. But the general idea is, that Job had not treated their views with the attention which they deserved, but had regarded them as unworthy of notice.
vile—rather from a Hebrew root, "to stop up." "Stubborn," answering to the stupidity implied in the parallel first clause [Umbreit]. Why should we give occasion by your empty speeches for our being mutually reputed, in the sight of Job and one another, as unintelligent? (Job 17:4, 10).As beasts, i.e. ignorant, blockish, and stupid men, Job 17:4,10.
Vile, Heb. polluted, or unclean, i.e. not fit to be conversed or discoursed with; or contemptible, as such things are.
In your sight; either,
1. To your faces, or in your own hearing. Or,
2. In thy sight or judgment, O Job; so he speaks of Job in the plural number, as he did Job 18:2. Job 12:7; where Job sends them to the beasts, to get knowledge and instruction; and therefore it was concluded he reckoned them as such, and put them on a level with them, yea, made them inferior to them; or to Job 17:4; where they are represented as destitute of wisdom and understanding, and therefore it is supposed were counted by Job no other than as beasts. Man, by the fall, is indeed become like them, and some are more brutish than they, and all are brutish as to spiritual knowledge and understanding; and those that are most sensible of themselves are ready to acknowledge their ignorance, that they are more brutish than any, and especially are as a beast before God; and particularly with respect to knowledge of the methods of Providence, in regard to his dealings with the righteous and wicked; see Psalm 73:22; and which was the case in controversy between Job and his friends; but yet self-sufficient persons do not care to have their understandings in anything called in question, but like the Pharisees say, "are we blind also?" John 9:40; and take it very hard that they should be reckoned like beasts, void of understanding, when they are the people, and wisdom will die with them:
and reputed vile in your sight? as wicked and profligate persons, the most abandoned of mankind, such as are justly despised by good men, see Psalm 15:4; or "unclean" (h), filthy, polluted, and defiled, as all men are by nature, and as they are in all the powers and faculties of their souls; nor can they make themselves clean, their hearts or their hands; nothing short of the grace of God, and blood of Christ, can cleanse from sin; yet self-righteous persons think themselves clean and pure when they are not washed from their sins, and take it ill of others to be reputed unclean persons: or "shut" (i), stopped up, as the hearts of men are from God and Christ, and the true knowledge of them, and divine things, until opened by him who has the key of the house of David, and opens, and no man shuts; or "hidden" (k), referring to Job 17:4; having a covering over their hearts, and a vail over the eyes of their understandings, so that the things of Providence were hid from them, as sometimes the things of grace are from the wise and prudent; but to be thought that this was their case is resented by Bildad.Wherefore are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your sight?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)3. and reputed vile] lit. and are unclean. Bildad describes what Job’s treatment of his friends suggests to him as Job’s idea of them. The reference is to the passages, ch. Job 17:4; Job 17:10, and the words “clean of hands” ch. Job 17:9, which Job had used of himself and other unjustly persecuted men, cf. Psalm 73:22.Verse 3. - Wherefore are we counted as beasts? The allusion is probably to Job 16:10, where Job spoke of his "comforters" as "gaping upon him with their mouths." And reputed vile in your sight! or, reckoned unclean. Job had spoken of his "miserable comforters" as "ungodly and wicked" (Job 16:11), without wisdom (Job 17:10) and without understanding (Job 17:4). But he had not said that they were "unclean." Bildad, therefore, misrepresents him.
In darkness I make my bed.
14 I cry to corruption: Thou art my father! -
To the worm: Thou art my mother and sister!
15 Where now therefore is my hope?
And my hope, who seeth it?
16 To the bars of Shel it descends,
When at the same time there is rest in the dust.
All modern expositors transl.: If I hope (wait) for Shel as my house, etc., since they regard Job 17:13. as a hypothetical antecedent clause to Job 17:15, consisting of four members, where the conclusion should begin with ואיּה, and should be indicated by Waw apodosis. There is no objection to this explanation so far as the syntax is concerned, but there will then be weighty thoughts which are also expressed in the form of fresh thoughts, for which independent clauses seem more appropriate, under the government of אם, as if they were presuppositions. The transition from the preceding strophe to this becomes also easier, if we take Job 17:13. as independent clauses from which, in Job 17:15, an inference is drawn, with Waw indicative of the train of thought (Ew. 348). Accordingly, we regard אם־אקוה in Job 17:13 as antecedent (denoted by Dech, i.e., Tiphcha anterius, just as Psalm 139:8) and ביתי שׁאול as conclusion; the Waw apod. is wanting, as e.g., Job 9:27., and the structure of the sentence is similar to Job 9:19. If I hope, says Job, "Shel is my house" equals this is the substance of my hope, that Shel will be my house. In darkness he has (i.e., in his consciousness, which anticipates that which is before him as near and inevitable) fixed his resting-place (poet. strata, as Psalm 132:3). To corruption and the worm he already cries, father! and, mother! sister! It is, as it seems, that bold figure which is indicated in the Job-like Psalm 88:19 ("my acquaintances are the realms of darkness"), which is here (comp. Job 30:29) worked out; and, differently applied, perhaps Proverbs 7:4 echoes it. Since the fem. רמּה is used as the object addressed by אמי and אחותי, which is besides, on account of its always collective meaning (in distinction from תילעת), well suited for this double apostrophe, we may assume that the poet will have used a masc. object for אבי; and there is really no reason against שׁחת here being, with Ramban, Rosenm., Schlottm., Bttcher (de inferis, 179), derived not from שׁוּח (as נחת, Job 17:16, from נוח), but from שׁחת (as נחת, Isaiah 30:30, from נחת), especially since the old versions transl. שׁחת also elsewhere διαφθορά (putredo), and thereby prove that both derivations accord with the structure of the language. Now already conscious of his belonging to corruption and the worm as by the closest ties of relationship, he asks: Itaque ubi tandem spes mea?
The accentuation connects אפו to the following word, instead of uniting it with איּה, just as in Isaiah 19:12; Luzzatto (on Isaiah 19:12) considers this as a mistake in the Codd., and certainly the accentuation Judges 9:38 (איה Kadma, אפוא Mercha) is not according to our model, and even in this passage another arrangement of the accents is found, e.g., in the edition of Brescia.
(Note: This accentuates ואיה with Munach, אפו with Munach, which accords with the matter, instead of which, according to Luzz., since the Athnach-word תקותי consists of three syllables, it should be more correctly accentuated ואיה with Munach, אפו with Dech. Both, also Munach Munach, are admissible; vid., Br, Thorath Emeth, S. 43, 7, comp. S. 71, not.)
No other hope, in Job's opinion, but speedy death is before him; no human eye is capable of seeing, i.e., of discovering (so e.g., Hahn), any other hope than just this. Somewhat differently Hirz. and others: and my hope, viz., of my recovery, who will it see in process of fulfilment? Certainly תקותי is in both instances equivalent to a hope which he dared to harbour; and the meaning is, that beside the one hope which he has, and which is a hope only per antiphrasin, there is no room for another hope; there is none such (Job 17:15), and no one will attain a sight of such, be it visible in the distance or experienced as near at hand (Job 17:15). The subj. of Job 17:16 is not the hope of recovery which the friends present to him (so e.g., Ew.), but his only real hope: this, avoiding human ken, descends to the lower world, for it is the hope of death, and consequently the death of hope. בּדּי signifies bars, bolts, which Hahn denies, although he says himself that בדים signifies beams of wood among other things; "bolts" is not here intended to imply such as are now used in locks, but the cross bars and beams of wood of any size that serve as a fastening to a door; vectis in exactly the same manner combines the meanings, a carrying-pole and a bar, in which signification בּד is the synon. of בּריח.
(Note: Accordingly we also explain Hosea 11:6 after Lamentations 2:9, and transl.: The sword moveth round in his (Ephraim's) cities, and destroyeth his (Ephraim's) bars (i.e., the bars of his gates), and devoureth round about, because of their counsels.)
The meanings assigned to the word, wastes (Schnurrer and others), bounds (Hahn), clefts (Bttch.), and the like, are fanciful and superfluous. On תּרדנה, instead of תּרד, vid., Caspari on Obad. Oba 1:13, Ges. 47, rem. 3. It is sing., not plur. (Bttch.), for Job 17:15 does not speak of two hopes, not even if, as it seems according to the ancient versions, another word of cognate meaning had stood in the place of the second תקותי originally. His hope goes down to the regions of the dead, when altogether there is rest in the dust. This "together, יחד," Hahn explains: to me and it, to this hope; but that would be pursuing the figure to an inadmissible length, extending far beyond Job 20:11, and must then be expressed יחד לנוּ. Others (e.g., Hirz., Ew.) explain: if at the same time, i.e., simultaneously with this descent of my hope, there is rest to me in the dust. Considering the use of יחד in itself, it might be explained: if altogether entirely there is rest in the dust; but this meaning integer, totus quantus, the word has elsewhere always in connection with a subj. or obj. to which it is referable, e.g., Job 10:8; Psalm 33:15; and, moreover, it may be rendered also in the like passages by "all together," as Job 3:18; Job 21:26; Job 40:13, instead of "altogether, entirely." Since, on the other hand, the signification "at the same time" can at least with probability be supported by Psalm 141:10, and since אם, which is certainly used temporally, brings contemporary things together, we prefer the translation: "when at the same time in the dust there is rest." The descent of his hope to the bars of Hades is at the same time his own, who hopes for nothing but this. When the death of his hope becomes a reality, then at the same time his turmoil of suffering will pass over to the rest of the grave.
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