Job 26:6
Hell is naked before him, and destruction has no covering.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 26:6. Hell is naked before him — Is in his presence, and under his providence. Hell itself, that place of utter darkness, is not hid from his sight. Destruction — The place of destruction, hath no covering — Such as can conceal it from his view.26:5-14 Many striking instances are here given of the wisdom and power of God, in the creation and preservation of the world. If we look about us, to the earth and waters here below, we see his almighty power. If we consider hell beneath, though out of our sight, yet we may conceive the discoveries of God's power there. If we look up to heaven above, we see displays of God's almighty power. By his Spirit, the eternal Spirit that moved upon the face of the waters, the breath of his mouth, Ps 33:6, he has not only made the heavens, but beautified them. By redemption, all the other wonderful works of the Lord are eclipsed; and we may draw near, and taste his grace, learn to love him, and walk with delight in his ways. The ground of the controversy between Job and the other disputants was, that they unjustly thought from his afflictions that he must have been guilty of heinous crimes. They appear not to have duly considered the evil and just desert of original sin; nor did they take into account the gracious designs of God in purifying his people. Job also darkened counsel by words without knowledge. But his views were more distinct. He does not appear to have alleged his personal righteousness as the ground of his hope towards God. Yet what he admitted in a general view of his case, he in effect denied, while he complained of his sufferings as unmerited and severe; that very complaint proving the necessity for their being sent, in order to his being further humbled in the sight of God.Hell - Hebrew שׁאול she'ôl, Sheol; Greek ᾅδης Hadēs Hades. The reference is to the abode of departed spirits - the nether world where the dead were congregated; see the notes at Job 10:21-22. It does not mean here, as the word hell does with us, a place of punishment, but the place where all the dead were supposed to be gathered together.

Is naked before him - That is, be looks directly upon that world. It is hidden from us, but not from him. He sees all its inhabitants, knows all their employments, and sways a scepter over them all.

And destruction - Hebrew אבדון 'ăbaddôn, Abaddon; compare Revelation 9:11, "And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon." The Hebrew word means destruction, and then abyss, or place of destruction, and is evidently given here to the place where departed spirits are supposed to reside. The word in this form occurs only here and in Proverbs 15:11; Psalm 88:11; Job 26:6, in all which places it is rendered destruction. The idea here is, not that this is a place where souls are destroyed, but that it is a place similar to destruction - as if all life, comfort, light, and joy, were extinguished.

Hath no covering - There is nothing to conceal it from God. He looks down even on that dark nether world, and sees and knows all that is there. There is a passage somewhat similar to this in Homer, quoted by Longinus as one of unrivaled sublimity, but which by no means surpasses this. It occurs in the Iliad, xx. 61-66:

Εδδεισεν δ ̓ ὑτένερθεϚ ἄναξ ἐνέρων Αιδωνεὺς, κ. τ. λ.

Eddeisen d' hupenerthen anac enerōn Aidōneus, etc.

Deep in the dismal regions of the dead

Th' infernal monarch reared his horrid head,

Leaped from his throne, lest Neptune's arm should lay

His dark dominions open to the day,

And pour in light on Pluto's drear abodes,

Abhorred by men, and dreadful e'en to gods.

Pope

6. (Job 38:17; Ps 139:8; Pr 5:11).

destruction—the abode of destruction, that is, of lost souls. Hebrew, Abaddon (Re 9:11).

no covering—from God's eyes.

Hell, as this word is frequently used, as Job 11:8 Isaiah 57:9, &c. And so it seems to be explained by the following word,

destruction, i.e. the place of destruction, which interpreters generally understand of hell, or the place of the damned. Others, the grave, the most secret and obscure places and things. Is naked before him, i.e. it is in his presence, and under his providence. So far am I from imagining that God cannot see through a dark cloud, as you traduced me, Job 22:13, that I very well know that even hell itself, that place of utter darkness, is not hid from his sight.

Destruction, i.e. the place of destruction, as it is also used, Proverbs 15:11, by a metonymy of the adjunct.

Hath no covering, to wit, such as to keep it out of his sight. Hell is naked before him,.... Which may be taken either for the place of the damned, as it sometimes is; and then the sense is, that though it is hidden from men, and they know not where it is, or who are in it, and what is done and suffered there; yet it is all known to God: he knows the place thereof, for it is made, ordained, and prepared by him; he knows who are there, even all the wicked dead, and all the nations that forget God, being cast there by him; he knows the torments they endure, for the smoke of them continually ascends before him; and he knows all their malice and envy, their enmity to him, and blasphemy of him; for thither are they gone down with their weapons of war, and have laid their swords under their heads, Ezekiel 32:27; or for Hades, the invisible world of spirits, or state of the dead, as the Septuagint version renders the word; though that is unseen to men, it is naked and open to the eye of God; or for the grave, in which the bodies of men are laid; which is the frequent sense of the word used, Psalm 88:11; and though this is a land of darkness, and where the light is as darkness, yet God can look into it; and the dust of men therein is carefully observed and preserved by him, and will be raised again at the last day; who has the keys of death and hell, or the grave, and can open it at his pleasure, and cause it to give up the dead that are therein:

and destruction hath no covering; and may design the same as before, either hell, the place of the damned, where men are destroyed soul and body with an everlasting destruction; or the grave, which the Targum calls the house of destruction, as it sometimes is, the pit of destruction and corruption; because bodies cast into it corrupt and putrefy, and are destroyed in it; and there is nothing to cover either the one or the other from the all seeing eye of God; see Psalm 139:7; as hell is supposed to be under the earth, and the grave is in it, Job is as yet on things below, and from hence rises to those above, in the following words.

Hell is {e} naked before him, and {f} destruction hath no covering.

(e) There is nothing hidden in the bottom of the earth but he sees it.

(f) Meaning, the grave in which things putrify.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. Hell] is in Heb. Sheol, the place where deceased persons congregate, the world beneath. It is not a place of pain, though a dark and dreary abode, ch. Job 10:21-22. Those there are the dead, who still subsist, though they do not live. “Destruction,” Heb. abaddon, is a synonym for Sheol, ch. Job 28:22. This as well as all things is naked to the eyes of Jehovah. Comp. Amos 9:2; Psalm 139:8.Verse 6. - Hell is naked before him; i.e. "can hide nothing from his eyes" - shows all its inmost recesses. And destruction hath no covering; rather, Abaddon hath no covering (see the Revised Version). Abaddon is sometimes "destruction," sometimes "the angel of the bottomless pit" (Revelation 9:11), sometimes "the bottomless pit itself" (Proverbs 15:11). Here the last of these three senses seems to suit best - the deepest depth of the bottomless pit is no secret to God," but "naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:13) Instead of the appellation מרומיו, which reminds one of Isaiah 24:21, - where a like peacemaking act of judgment on the part of God is promised in reference to the spirit-host of the heights that have been working seductively among the nations on earth, - גּדוּדיו, of similar meaning to צבאיו, used elsewhere, occurs in this verse. The stars, according to biblical representation, are like an army arrayed for battle, but not as after the Persian representation - as an army divided into troops of the Ahuramazd and Angramainyus (Ahriman), but a standing army of the children of light, clad in the armour of light, under the guidance of the one God the Creator (Isaiah 40:26, comp. the anti-dualistic assertion in Isaiah 45:7). The one God is the Lord among these numberless legions, who commands their reverence, and maintains unity among them; and over whom does not His light arise? Umbr. explains: who does not His light, which He communicates to the hosts of heaven, vanquish (קוּם על in the usual warlike meaning: to rise against any one); but this is a thought that is devoid of purpose in this connection. אורהו with the emphatic suff. hu (as Job 24:23, עיניהוּ) at any rate refers directly to God: His light in distinction from the derived light of the hosts of heaven. This distinction is better brought out if we interpret (Merc., Hirz., Hahn, Schlottm., and others): over whom does (would) not His light arise? i.e., all receive their light from His, and do but reflect it back. But יקוּם equals יזרח cannot be justified by Job 11:17. Therefore we interpret with Ew. and Hlgst. thus: whom does not His light surpass, or, literally, over whom (i.e., which of these beings of light) does it not rise, leaving it behind and exceeding it in brightness (יקוּם as synon. of ירוּם)? How then could a mortal be just with God, i.e., at His side or standing up before Him; and how could one of woman born be spotless! How could he (which is hereby indirectly said) enter into a controversy with God, who is infinitely exalted above him, and maintain before Him a moral character faultless, and therefore absolutely free from condemnation! In the heights of heaven God's decision is revered; and should man, the feeble one, and born flesh of flesh (vid., Job 14:1), dare to contend with God? Behold, עד־ירח (עד, as usually when preceded by a negation, adeo, ne ... quidem, e.g., Exodus 14:28, comp. Nahum 1:10, where J. H. Michaelis correctly renders: adeo up spinas perplexitate aequent, and אל used in the same way, Job 5:5, Ew. 219, c), even as to the moon, it does not (ולא with Waw apod., Ges. 145, 2, although there is a reading לא without ו) shine bright, יאחיל equals יהל, from אהל equals הלל.

(Note: It is worthy of observation, that hilâl signifies in Arabic the new moon (comp. Genesis, S. 307); and the Hiphil ahalla, like the Kal halla, is used of the appearing and shining of the new moon.)

Thus lxx, Targ. Jer., and Gecatilia translate; whereas Saadia translates: it turns not in (Arab. lâ ydchl), or properly, it does not pitch its tent, fix its habitation. But to pitch one's tent is אהל or אהל, whence יהל, Isaiah 13:20, equals יאהל; and what is still more decisive, one would naturally expect יאהיל שׁם in connection with this thought. We therefore render אהל as a form for once boldly used in the scriptural language for הלל, as in Isaiah 28:28 אדשׁ once occurs for דּוּשׁ. Even the moon is only a feeble light before God, and the stars are not clean in His eyes; there is a vast distance between Him and His highest and most glorious creatures - how much more between Him and man, the worm of the dust!

The friends, as was to be expected, are unable to furnish any solution of the mystery, why the ungodly often live and die happily; and yet they ought to be able to give this solution, if the language which they employ against Job were authorized. Bildad alone speaks in the above speech, Zophar is silent. But Bildad does not utter a word that affects the question. This designed omission shows the inability of the friends to solve it, as much as the tenacity with which they firmly maintain their dogma; and the breach that has been made in it, either they will not perceive or yet not acknowledge, because they think that thereby they are approaching too near to the honour of God. Moreover, it must be observed with what delicate tact, and how directly to the purpose in the structure of the whole, this short speech of Bildad's closes the opposition of the friends. Two things are manifest from this last speech of the friends: First, that they know nothing new to bring forward against Job, and nothing just to Job's advantage; that all their darts bound back from Job; and that, though not according to their judgment, yet in reality, they are beaten. This is evident from the fact that Bildad is unable to give any answer to Job's questions, but can only take up the one idea in Job's speech, that he confidently and boldly thinks of being able to approach God's throne of judgment; he repeats with slight variation what Eliphaz has said twice already, concerning the infinite distance between man and God, Job 4:17-21; Job 15:14-16, and is not even denied by Job himself, Job 9:2; Job 14:4. But, secondly, the poet cannot allow us to part from the friends with too great repugnance; for they are Job's friends notwithstanding, and at the close we see them willingly obedient to God's instruction, to go to Job that he may pray for them and make sacrifice on their behalf. For this reason he does not make Bildad at last repeat those unjust incriminations which were put prominently forward in the speech of Eliphaz, Job 22:5-11. Bildad only reminds Job of the universal sinfulness of the human race once again, without direct accusation, in order that Job may himself derive from it the admonition to humble himself; and this admonition Job really needs, for his speeches are in many ways contrary to that humility which is still the duty of sinful man, even in connection with the best justified consciousness of right thoughts and actions towards the holy God.

1 Then Job began, and said:

2 How has thou helped him that is without power,

Raised the arm that hath no strength!

3 How hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom,

And fully declared the essence of the matter!

4 To whom hast thou uttered words,

And whose breath proceeded from thee?

Bildad is the person addressed, and the exclamations in Job 26:2, Job 26:3 are ironical: how thy speech contains nothing whatever that might help me, the supposedly feeble one, in conquering my affliction and my temptation; me, the supposedly ignorant one, in comprehending man's mysterious lot, and mine! ללא־כח, according to the idea, is only equivalent to כח לו (אין) לאשׁר לא, and זרוע לא־עז equivalent to זרוע בלא־עז (לא עז לו); the former is the abstr. pro concreto, the latter the genitival connection - the arm of the no-power, i.e., powerless (Ges. 152, 1). The powerless one is Job himself, not God (Merc., Schlottm.), as even the choice of the verbs, Job 26:2, Job 26:3, shows. Respecting תּוּשׁיּה, which we have translated essentiality, duration, completion, we said, on Job 5:12, that it is formed from ישׁ (vid., Proverbs 8:21), not directly indeed, but by means of a verb ושׁי brev a fo (ושׁה), in the signification subsistere (comp. Arab. kân, and Syriac קום);

(Note: Comp. also Spiegel, Grammatik der Huzvresch-Sprache, S. 103.)

it is a Hophal-formation (like תּוּגה), and signifies, so to speak, durability, subsistentia, substantia, ὑπόστασις, so that the comparison of ושׁי with אשׁשׁ, Arab. 'ss (whence אשׁישׁ, Arab. ası̂s, asâs, etc., fundamentum) is forced upon one, and the relationship to the Sanskrit as (asmi equals εἰμὶ) can remain undecided. The observation of J. D. Michaelis

continued...

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