Job 5:4
His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate, neither is there any to deliver them.
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(4) They are crushed.—Rather, perhaps, they crush one another. Their internal rivalries and dissensions bring them to ruin. They exemplify the house divided against itself.

Job 5:4. His children — Whose greatness he designed in all his enterprises, supposing his family would be established for ever; are far from safety — Are exposed to dangers and calamities, and can neither preserve themselves, nor the inheritance which their fathers left them. There is no question but he glances here at the death of Job’s children; and they are crushed in the gate — That is, in the place of judicature, to which they are brought for their offences, and where they find severe judges, and few or no friends; because, being wickedly educated, and trusting to their own greatness, they had been insolent and injurious to all their neighbours; as also because those many persons, whom their powerful fathers had defrauded or oppressed, seek for justice and the recovery of their rights, which they easily obtain, against persons who plainly declared, by their actions, that they neither feared God nor regarded man, and therefore were hated by all sorts of people. Neither is there any to deliver them — They can find no advocates or assistants who are either able or willing to help them: for, as their hand was formerly against every man, so now every man’s hand is against them. Justice, therefore, takes hold on them, and will not let them escape.5:1-5 Eliphaz here calls upon Job to answer his arguments. Were any of the saints or servants of God visited with such Divine judgments as Job, or did they ever behave like him under their sufferings? The term, saints, holy, or more strictly, consecrated ones, seems in all ages to have been applied to the people of God, through the Sacrifice slain in the covenant of their reconciliation. Eliphaz doubts not that the sin of sinners directly tends to their ruin. They kill themselves by some lust or other; therefore, no doubt, Job has done some foolish thing, by which he has brought himself into this condition. The allusion was plain to Job's former prosperity; but there was no evidence of Job's wickedness, and the application to him was unfair and severe.His children are far from safety - That is, this is soon manifest by their being cut off or subjected to calamity. The object of Eliphaz is, to state the result of his own observation, and to show how calamity overtook the wicked though they even prospered for a time. He begins with that which a man would feel most - the calamity which comes upon his children, and says that God would punish him in them. Every word of this would go to the heart of Job; for he could not but feel that it was aimed at him, and that the design was to prove that the calamities that had come upon his children were a proof of his own wickedness and of the divine displeasure. It is remarkable that Job listens to this with the utmost patience. There is no interruption of the speaker; no breaking in upon the argument of his friend; no mark of uneasiness. Oriental politeness required that a speaker should be heard attentively through whatever he might say. See the Introduction, Section 7. Cutting and severe, therefore, as this strain of remark must have been, the sufferer sat meekly and heard it all, and waited for the appropriate time when an answer might be returned.

And they are crushed in the gate - The gate of a city in ancient times was the chief place of concourse, and was the place where public business was usually transacted, and where courts of justice were held; see Genesis 23:10; Deuteronomy 21:19; Deuteronomy 25:6-7; Ruth 4:1 ff: Psalm 127:5; Proverbs 22:22. The Greeks also held their courts in some public place of business. Hence, the forum, ἀγορά agora, was also a place for fairs. See Jahn's Archaeology, section 247. Some suppose that the meaning here is, that they were oppressed and trodden down by the concourse in the gate. But the more probable meaning is, that they found no one to advocate their cause; that they were subject to oppression and injustice in judicial decisions, and then when their parent was dead, no one would stand up to vindicate them from respect to his memory. The idea is, that though there might be temporary prosperity, yet that it would not be long before heavy calamities would come upon the children of the wicked.

4. His children … crushed in the gate—A judicial formula. The gate was the place of judgment and of other public proceedings (Ps 127:5; Pr 22:22; Ge 23:10; De 21:19). Such propylæa have been found in the Assyrian remains. Eliphaz obliquely alludes to the calamity which cut off Job's children. His children; whose greatness and happiness he designed in all his enterprises, supposing that his family was and would be established for ever.

Are far from safety, i.e. are exposed to great dangers and calamities in this life, and can neither preserve themselves, nor the great inheritance which their fathers got and left for them. Thus to be far from peace, Lamentations 3:17, is to be involved in desperate troubles.

In the gate, i.e. in the place of judicature; to which they are brought for their offences, and where they will find severe judges, and few or no friends; partly because, being wickedly educated, and trusting to their own greatness, they were insolent and injurious to all their neighbours; and partly because those many persons whom their powerful fathers defrauded or oppressed do seek for justice, and the recovery of their rights, which they easily obtain against such persons as plainly declared by their actions that they neither feared God nor reverenced him, and therefore were hated by all sorts of men.

Neither is there any to deliver them; they can find no advocates nor assistants, who are either able or willing to help them; but, like Ishmael, as their hand was formerly against every man, so now every man’s hand is against them. His children are far from safety,.... From outward safety, from evils and dangers, to which they are liable and exposed, not only from men, who hate them for their father's sake, who have been oppressors of them, or from God, who visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children; and from spiritual and eternal safety or "salvation", or from salvation in the world to come, as the Targum, they treading in their fathers steps, and imitating their actions:

and they are crushed in the gate; or openly, publicly, as Aben Ezra and others; or in the courts of judicature whither they are brought by those their parents had oppressed, and where they are cast, and have no favour shown them; or literally by the falling of the gate upon them; and perhaps some reference is had to Job's children being crushed in the gate or door of the house, through which they endeavoured to get when it fell upon them and destroyed them; the Targum is,"and are crushed in the gates of hell, in the day of the great judgment:"

neither is there any to deliver them; neither God nor man, they having no interest in either, or favour with, partly on account of their father's ill behaviour, and partly on account of their own; and sad is the case of men when it is such, see Psalm 50:21.

His {e} children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the {f} gate, neither is there any to deliver them.

(e) Though God sometimes allows the father's to pass in this world, yet his judgments will light on their wicked children.

(f) By public judgment they will be condemned and no one will pity them.

4. they are crushed in the gate] The gate of the town is the seat of the Oriental court of law, where justice is administered, ch. Job 29:7, Job 31:21; Psalm 127:5. The words are crushed might be reciprocal, “crush one another;” more likely the word means exactly, “must let themselves be crushed,” as the last clause indicates: having none to deliver them. In the East he has right who has power (ch. Job 22:8), and the poor, who cannot bribe the judge or find powerful men to speak for them, go to the wall.

The iniquity of the father is visited upon the children, Exodus 20:5, a law of providence which does not quite meet Job’s approval, ch. Job 21:19-20. That this principle created difficulty to thoughtful men about this time appears also from Ezekiel 18:19 seq.

4, 5. These verses describe the desolation that befell the home and family of the man who hardened himself against God. The speaker falls here into the present tenses because, though he is describing an instance which he saw, the instance illustrates a general truth.Verse 4. - His children are far from safety. The sins of the fathers arc visited upon the children. Eliphaz makes covert allusion to the death of Job's children (Job 1:19). Feeling, however, that he is on delicate ground, he goes on into details which in no way fit their case. And (he says) they are crushed in the gate; i.e. they are oppressed, crushed, by litigations. The house once smitten of God, human beasts of prey enter in; claims are made against the children; lawsuits commenced; all the arts of chicanery set in motion; every effort made to strip them of their last penny. (For the sense here assigned to "the gate," see Job 29:7 and Job 31:21.) Neither is there any to deliver them. No one intercedes on their behalf, undertakes their detente in the courts, or makes any effort to avert their ruin. This picture of legal oppression accords very closely with what we know of the East in all ages (comp. Isaiah 1:17, 23; Isaiah 3:14, 15; Isaiah 5:23; Isaiah 10:2, etc.). Oriental cowardice causes men to shrink from casting in their lot with those whom Misfortune has marked as her own. אף signifies, like כּי אף, quanto minus, or quanto magis, according as a negative or positive sentence precedes: since Job 4:18 is positive, we translate it here quanto magis, as 2 Samuel 16:11. Men are called dwellers in clay houses: the house of clay is their φθαρτὸν σῶμα, as being taken de limo terrae (Job 33:6; comp. Wis. 9:15); it is a fragile habitation, formed of inferior materials, and destined to destruction. The explanation which follows - those whose יסוד, i.e., foundation of existence, is in dust - shows still more clearly that the poet has Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19, in his mind. It crushes them (subject, everything that operates destructively on the life of man) לפני־עשׁ, i.e., not: sooner than the moth is crushed (Hahn), or more rapidly than a moth destroys (Oehler, Fries), or even appointed to the moth for destruction (Schlottm.); but לפני signifies, as Job 3:24 (cf. 1 Samuel 1:16), ad instar: as easily as a moth is crushed. They last only from morning until evening: they are broken in pieces (הכּת, from כּתת, for הוּכת); they are therefore as ephemerae. They perish for ever, without any one taking it to heart (suppl. על־לב, Isaiah 42:25; Isaiah 57:1), or directing the heart towards it, animum advertit (suppl. לב, Job 1:8).

In Job 4:21 the soul is compared to the cord of a tent, which stretches out and holds up the body as a tent, like Ecclesiastes 12:6, with a silver cord, which holds the lamp hanging from the covering of the tent. Olshausen is inclined to read יתדם, their tent-pole, instead of יתרם, and at any rate thinks the accompanying בּם superfluous and awkward. But (1) the comparison used here of the soul, and of the life sustained by it, corresponds to its comparison elsewhere with a thread or weft, of which death is the cutting through or loosing (Job 6:9; Job 27:8; Isaiah 38:12); (12) בּם is neither superfluous nor awkward, since it is intended to say, that their duration of life falls in all at once like a tent when that which in them (בם) corresponds to the cord of a tent (i.e., the נפשׁ) is drawn away from it. The relation of the members of the sentence in Job 4:21 is just the same as in Job 4:2 : Will they not die when it is torn away, etc. They then die off in lack of wisdom, i.e., without having acted in accordance with the perishableness of their nature and their distance from God; therefore, rightly considered: unprepared and suddenly, comp. Job 36:12; Proverbs 5:23. Oehler, correctly: without having been made wiser by the afflictions of God. The utterance of the Spirit, the compass of which is unmistakeably manifest by the strophic division, ends here. Eliphaz now, with reference to it, turns to Job.

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