Job 3:21
Which long for death, but it comes not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 3:21. Who long for death — With eagerness and impatience, as the Hebrew means. Who calls aloud for death, as Heath translates it. Qui ægre expectant, inhiant morti, who anxiously long and gasp for death; but it cometh not — They long and gasp in vain. And dig for it more than for hid treasures — Whose thoughts and wishes are so intent on their dissolution, that they expect it with as much earnestness as miners look for their golden treasures, who, being indefatigable in their pursuit, spare neither time nor labour, but penetrate still further into the deep caverns of the earth, to find out and enrich themselves with the secret, wished-for gain. It is observable, that Job durst not do any thing to hasten or procure his death. Notwithstanding all his miseries, he was contented to wait all the days of his appointed time till his change should come, Job 14:14.3:20-26 Job was like a man who had lost his way, and had no prospect of escape, or hope of better times. But surely he was in an ill frame for death when so unwilling to live. Let it be our constant care to get ready for another world, and then leave it to God to order our removal thither as he thinks fit. Grace teaches us in the midst of life's greatest comforts, to be willing to die, and in the midst of its greatest crosses, to be willing to live. Job's way was hid; he knew not wherefore God contended with him. The afflicted and tempted Christian knows something of this heaviness; when he has been looking too much at the things that are seen, some chastisement of his heavenly Father will give him a taste of this disgust of life, and a glance at these dark regions of despair. Nor is there any help until God shall restore to him the joys of his salvation. Blessed be God, the earth is full of his goodness, though full of man's wickedness. This life may be made tolerable if we attend to our duty. We look for eternal mercy, if willing to receive Christ as our Saviour.Which long for death - Whose pain and anguish are so great that they would regard it as a privilege to die. Much as people dread death, and much as they have occasion to dread what is beyond, yet there is no doubt that this often occurs. Pain becomes so intense, and suffering is so protracted, that they would regard it as a privilege to be permitted to die. Yet that sorrow "must" be intense which prompts to this wish, and usually must be long continued. In ordinary cases such is the love of life, and such the dread of death and of what is beyond, that people are willing to bear all that human nature can endure rather than meet death; see the notes at Job 2:4. This idea has been expressed with unsurpassed beauty by Shakespeare:

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely

The pangs of despised love. the law's delay,

The insolence of office. and the spurns

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

When be himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death -

The undiscovered country, from whose bourne

No traveler returns-puzzles the will;

And makes us rather bear those ills we have,

Than fly to others that we know not of.

continued...

Job 3:20-26. He Complains of Life because of His Anguish.

20. Wherefore giveth he light—namely, God; often omitted reverentially (Job 24:23; Ec 9:9). Light, that is, life. The joyful light ill suits the mourners. The grave is most in unison with their feelings.

i.e. Desire and pray for it with as much earnestness as men dig for treasure. But it is observable that Job durst not lay violent hands upon himself, nor do any thing to hasten or procure his death; but notwithstanding all his miseries and complaints, he was contented to wait all the days of his appointed time, till his change came, Job 14:14. Which long for death, but it cometh not,.... Who earnestly desire, wistly look out, wish for, and expect it, and with open mouth gape for it, as a hungry man for his food, or as the fish for the bait, or the fishermen for the fish, as some (a) observe the word may signify; but it comes not to their wish and expectation, or so soon as they would have it; the reason is, because the fixed time for it is not come, otherwise it will certainly come at God's appointed time, and often in an hour not thought of; death is not desirable in itself, being a dissolution of nature, or as it is the sanction of the law, or the wages of sin, or a penal evil; and though it is and may be lawfully desired by good men, that they may be free from sin, and be in a better capacity to serve the Lord, and that they may be for ever with him; yet such desires should be expressed with submission to the divine will, and the appointed time should be patiently waited for, and should not be desired merely to be rid of present afflictions and troubles, which was the case of Job, and of those he here describes; see Revelation 9:6,

and dig for it more than for hid treasures; which are naturally hid in the earth; as gold and silver ore, with other metals and precious stones; or which are of choice concealed there from the plunder of others; the former seems rather to be meant, and in digging for which great pains, diligence, and industry, are used, see Proverbs 2:4; and is expressive of the very great importunity and strong desire of men in distressed circumstances after death, seeking diligently and pressing importunately for it; the sin of suicide not being known, or very rare, in that early time, or however was shunned and abhorred even by those that were most weary of their lives: some render it, "who dig for it out off hid treasures" (b); out of the bowels of the earth, and the lowest parts of it, could they but find it there: but the Targum, Jarchi, and others, understand it comparatively, as we do.

(a) So Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. vid. Schultens in loc. (b) "e thesauris", Cocceius; "ex imis terrae latebris", Mercerus: "ex locis absconditis", Schmidt.

Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 21. - Which long for death, but it cometh not; literally, which wait for death' anxiously and longingly (comp. Psalm 33:20). And dig for it more than for hid treasures; i.e. "seek it more earnestly than even they seek who dig for hid treasures." As Professor Lee remarks, "From the great instability of all Eastern governments, treasures were in Eastern countries often hid away" ('Book of Job,' pp. 200, 201). And hence treasure-seeking became a profession, which was pursued with avidity by a large number of persons. Even at the present day Orientals are so possessed with the idea, that they imagine every European, who is eager to unearth antiquities, must be seeking for buried treasure. 13 So should I now have lain and had quiet,

I should have slept, then it would have been well with me,

14 With kings and councillors of the earth,

Who built ruins for themselves,

15 Or with princes possessing gold,

Who filled their houses with silver:

16 Or like a hidden untimely birth I had not been,

And as children that have never seen the light.

The perf. and interchanging fut. have the signification of oriental imperfecta conjunctivi, according to Ges. 126, 5; עתּה כּי is the usual expression after hypothetical clauses, and takes the perf. if the preceding clause specifies a condition which has not occurred in the past (Genesis 31:42; Genesis 43:10; Numbers 22:29, Numbers 22:33; 1 Samuel 14:30), the fut. if a condition is not existing in the present (Job 6:3; Job 8:6; Job 13:19). It is not to be translated: for then; כי rather commences the clause following: so I should now, indeed then I should. Ruins, הרבות, are uninhabited desolate buildings, elsewhere such as have become, here such as are from the first intended to remain, uninhabited and desolate, consequently sepulchres, mausoleums; probably, since the book has Egyptian allusions, in other passages also, a play upon the pyramids, in whose name (III-XPAM, according to Coptic glossaries) III is the Egyptian article (vid., Bunsen, Aeg. ii. 361); Arab. without the art. hirâm or ahrâm (vid., Abdollatf, ed. de Sacy, p. 293, s.).

(Note: We think that חרבות sounds rather like חרמות, the name of the pyramids, as the Arabic haram (instead of hharam), derived from XPAM, recalls harmân (e.g., beith harmân, a house in ruins), the synonym of hhardân (חרבאן).)

Also Renan: Qui se btissent des mausoles. Bttch. de inferis, 298 (who, however, prefers to read רחבות, wide streets), rightly directs attention to the difference between החרבות בנה (to rebuild the ruins) and לו בנה ח (to build ruins for one's self). With או like things are then ranged after one another. Builders of the pyramids, millionaires, abortions (vid., Ecclesiastes 6:3), and the still-born: all these are removed from the sufferings of this life in their quiet of the grave, be their grave a "ruin" gazed upon by their descendants, or a hole dug out in the earth, and again filled in as it was before.

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