Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,
Verses 1-21. - Bildad's second speech is no improvement upon his first (ch. 8.). He has evidently been exceedingly nettled by Job's contemptuous words concerning his "comforters" (Job 16:2, 11; Job 17:10); and aims at nothing but venting his anger, and terrifying Job by a series of denunciations and threats. Job has become to him "the wicked man" (vers. 5, 21), an embodiment of all that is evil, and one "that knoweth not God." No punishment is too severe for him. Verses 1, 2. - Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said, How long will it be ere ye make an end of words? (So Rosenmuller, Gesenius, Welte, Merx, Lee, and Canon Cook.) Others render, "How long will ye lay snares for words?" which is a possible translation, but does not give a very good sense. Bildad, a tolerably concise speaker himself (see Job 8:2-22; Job 25:2-6), is impatient at the length of Job's replies. He had already, in his former speech (Job 8:2), reproached Job with his prolixity; now he repeats the charge. The employment of the second person plural in this and the following verses is not very easily accounted for. Bildad can scarcely mean to blame his friend Eliphaz. Perhaps he regards Job as having supporters among the lookers-on, of whom there may have been several besides Elihu (Job 32:2). Mark; rather, consider; i.e. think a little, instead of talking. And afterwards we will speak. Then, calmly and without hurry, we will proceed to reply to what you have said.
How long will it be ere ye make an end of words? mark, and afterwards we will speak.
Wherefore are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your sight?
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.
He teareth himself in his anger: shall the earth be forsaken for thee? and shall the rock be removed out of his place?
Verse 4. - He teareth himself in his anger. The Hebrew idiom, which allows of rapid transitions from the second to the third person, and vice versa, cannot be transferred without harshness to our modern speech. Our Revisers have given the true force of the original by discarding the third person, and translating, "Thou that tearest thyself in thine anger." There is probably an allusion to Job 16:9, where Job had represented God as "tearing him in his wrath." Bildad says it is not God who tests him - he tears himself. Shall the earth be forsaken for thee? i.e. "Shall the course of the world be altered to meet thy wishes, to suit thy case?" Job had wished for all manner of impossible things (Job 3:3-6; Job 9:32-35; Job 13:21, 22; Job 16:21; Job 17:3). Bildad's reproach is thus not wholly unjust. But he makes no allowance for the wild utter-shoes of one who is half distraught. And shall the rock be removed out of his place? Shall that which is most solid and firm give way, and alter its nature?
Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine.
Verses 5-21. - Bildad, from this point, turns wholly to denunciation. He strings together a long series of menaces - probably ancient saws, drawn from "the wisdom of the Beni Kedem" (1 Kings 4:30), and descriptive of the wretched fate of the wicked man, with whom he identifies Job. Verse 5. - Yes, the light of the wicked shall be put out. Whatever the wicked man may at any time have acquired of splendour, glory, honour, wealth, or prosperity, shall be taken from him, and as it were extinguished. And the spark of his fire shall not shine. Not a single trace of his splendour, not a spark, not a glimmer, shall remain.
The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him.
Verse 6. - The light shall be dark in his tabernacle. This is not, as Rosenmuller asserts, a mere repetition of the thought contained in the preceding verse with a change of terms, and a variation of metaphor. It is a denunciation of woe to the whole house of the ungodly man, not to himself only. As Schultens says, "Lumen ob-tenebratum in tentorio est fortuna domus extincta." And his candle shall be put out with him; rather, as in the Revised Version, his!amp above him shall be put out; i.e. the lamp which swings above him in his tent, or in his chamber, shall be extinguished. Darkness shall fall upon the whole house of the wicked man.
The steps of his strength shall be straitened, and his own counsel shall cast him down.
Verse 7. - The steps of his strength shall he straitened. In the time of his prosperity the wicked man had a wide sphere within which to exercise his activity, and strode hither and thither at his pleasure. When punishment falls on him, his "steps will be straitened," i.e. his sphere narrowed, his activity cramped, his powers "cabined, cribbed, confined." And his own counsel shall cast him down (see Job 5:13; and comp. Psalm 7:14,-16; 9:16; 10:2; Hosea 10:6).
For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon a snare.
Verse 8. - For he is cast into a net by his own feet. He walks of his own accord into a snare, not necessarily into one that he has himself set for others, as in Psalm 7:15; Psalm 9:15; Psalm 35:8; Psalm 57:6; and Proverbs 26:27; but either into one of his own setting, or into one laid for him by others (see ver. 10). And he walketh upon a snare. A mere repetition of the idea expressed in the preceding hemistich.
The gin shall take him by the heel, and the robber shall prevail against him.
Verse 9. - The gin shall take him by the heel, and the robber (rather, the man-trap) shall prevail against him. Fifty years ago man-traps were commonly set at night in gardens and orchards in this country, which held intending thieves until the proprietor came and took them before a magistrate in the morning. (On the employment of such traps in antiquity, see Herod., 2:121. § 2.)
The snare is laid for him in the ground, and a trap for him in the way.
Verse 10. - The snare is laid for him in the ground, and a trap for him in the way; or, the noose is hid for him in the ground (see the Revised Version). Six different kinds of traps or snares are mentioned, "the speaker heaping together every word that he can find descriptive of the art of snaring." The art had been well studied by the Egyptians long before the age of Job, and a great variety of contrivances for capturing both beasts and birds are represented on the very early monuments (Wilkinson, in the authors' Herodotus,' vol. it. pp. 77, 78). We may conclude from this passage that it had also been brought to an advanced stage of excellence in Syria and Arabia.
Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive him to his feet.
Verse 11. - Terrors shall make him afraid on every side. Vague fears, panic terrors, no longer subjective, but to his bewildered brain objective, shall seem to menace the wicked man on every side, and shall affright him continually. There is an allusion, doubtless, to what Job has said of the gloomy and terrifying thoughts which come over him from time to time (Job 3:25; Job 7:14; Job 9:28; Job 13:21) and fill him with consternation. And shall drive him to his feet; rather, shall chase him at his heels (see the Revised Version). Like a pack of hounds, or wolves, or jackals. Jackals are common in Palestine and the adjacent countries. They hunt in lacks, and generally run down their prey; but do not, unless hard pressed by hunger, attack men.
His strength shall be hungerbitten, and destruction shall be ready at his side.
Verse 12. - His strength shall be hunger-bitten. (So Dillmann, Cook, and the Revised Version.) To the other sufferings of the wicked man shall be added the pangs of hunger. His bodily strength shall disappear, as destitution and famine come upon him. And destruction shall be ready at his side. Ready to seize on him at any moment. Some translate, "ready for his halting" i.e. ready to seize on him in ease of his tripping or halting (so the Revised Version).
It shall devour the strength of his skin: even the firstborn of death shall devour his strength.
Verse 13. - It shall devour the strength of his skin; literally, the bars of his skin by which some understand "the muscles," some "the members," of his body. The general meaning is plain, that destruction shall always be close to him, and shall ultimately make him its own. Even the firstborn of death shall devour his strength. By "the firstborn of death" is probably intended, either some wasting disease generally, or perhaps the special disease from which Job is suffering.
His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors.
Verse 14. - His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle; rather, he shall be rooted out of his tabernacle (or, tent), which is his confidence, or wherein he trusteth; i.e. he shall be torn from the home, where he thought himself secure as in a stronghold. And it shall bring him; rather, one shall bring him or, he shall be brought. To the king of terrors. Probably death, rather than Satan, is intended. None of Job's "comforters" seems to have had any conception of Satan as a personal being, nor even Job himself. It is only the author. or arranger, of the book who recognizes the personality and power of the prince of darkness.
It shall dwell in his tabernacle, because it is none of his: brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation.
Verse 15. - It shall dwell in his tabernacle, because it is none of his; either, it (i.e. terror) shall dwell in his tabernacle which is no longer his; or, they shall dwell in his tabernacle that are none of his; i.e. strangers st, all inhabit the place where he dwelt heretofore (compare the Revised Version). Brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation. As God rained fire and brimstone out of heaven upon the cities of the plain (Genesis 19:24), so shall brimstone be scattered upon his habitation to ruin and destroy it (comp. Deuteronomy 29:23; Psalm 11:6).
His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off.
Verse 16. - His roots shall be dried up beneath. He shall be like a tree whose roots no moisture reaches, and which, therefore, withers and dries up (comp. Job 14:8, 9; Job 29:19). And above shall his branch be cut off; or, be withered (comp. Job 14:2, where the same verb is used).
His remembrance shall perish from the earth, and he shall have no name in the street.
Verse 17. - His remembrance shall perish from the earth (comp. Psalm 34:16; Psalm 109:13). This is always spoken of in Scripture as a great calamity, one of the greatest that can befall a man. It was felt as such, not only by the Jews, but by the Semitic people generally, whose earnest desire to perpetuate their memory is shown by the elaborate monuments and lengthy inscriptions which they set up in so many places. Arabian poetry, no less than Jewish, is penetrated by the idea. In one point of view it may seem a vulgar ambition; but, in another, it is a pathetic craving alter that continuance which the spirit of man naturally desires, but of which it has, apart from revelation, no assurance. And he shall have no name in the street; or, in the world without (comp. Job 5:10).
He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world.
Verse 18. - He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world (comp. Job 10:21, 22; Job 17:16). What Job represents as a welcome retreat, whither he would gladly withdraw himself, Bildad depicts as a banishment, into which he will be driven on account of his sins.
He shall neither have son nor nephew among his people, nor any remaining in his dwellings.
Verse 19. - He shall neither have son nor nephew among his people; rather, nor grandson; i.e. "his posterity shall be clean put out" (Psalm 109:14). Nor any remaining in his dwellings; rather, in the places where he sojourned (compare the Revised Version, which gives "in his sojournings"). It is implied that the wicked man shall be a vagabond, without a home, sojourning now here, now there, for a short time. Neither among his own people, nor in these places of his temporary abode, shall he leave any descendant. Bildad probably intends to glance at the destruction of Job's children (Job 1:19).
They that come after him shall be astonied at his day, as they that went before were affrighted.
Verse 20. - They that come after him shall be astonied at his day; i.e. "at the time of his visitation" (comp. Psalm 37:13, "The Lord shall laugh at him, for he seeth that his day is coming;" and Psalm 137:7, "Remember the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem," i.e. the day of its overthrow). As they that went before were affrighted. His fate shall alarm equally his contemporaries and his successors, at possibly "the dwellers in the West and the dwellers in the East"
Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, and this is the place of him that knoweth not God.
Verse 21. - Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked. "Such as I have described is the general condition and manner of life of the man who is wicked." and this is the place (or, position) of him that knoweth not God. The singular number used both in this clause and the preceding indicates that the whole series of denunciations (vers. 5-21) is levelled against an individual - viz. Job.