Ere ye; either,
1. You my brethren. Why do you not give over discoursing with Job, who is wholly transported with rage, and not fit to be discoursed with, at least until both you and he have better considered what to say? Or rather,
2. Thou, O Job, of whom he speaks here, as also Job 18:3, in the plural number; either because there were some other person or persons present at this debate, who by their words or gestures showed themselves favourers of Job’s cause; or because it was a common idiom of the Eastern language to speak thus of one person, especially where he was one of eminency or authority. Job’s speeches were generally longer than his friends’, and they seemed very tedious to them.
Mark; consider the matter and our words better. Or, inform us, Heb. make us to understand. Seeing thou lookest upon us as ignorant and brutish men, as it follows, do thou instruct and inform us. Cease cavilling and railing, and produce thy strong reasons, that we may consider and answer them, or yield to them.
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.
He teareth himself, i.e. Job, of whom he speaks in the third person for the second, as Job 12:4 16:7 Obadiah 1:3. Or, O thou that tearest thyself! Thou complainest of us for vexing thee with our speeches, when in truth thou art thy own greatest tormenter by thy own impatience and rage.
Shall the earth be forsaken, to wit, by God? Shall God 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, or wisdom, or justice? Shall God forbear to rule the world righteously, as he hath hitherto done, in favouring good men, and destroying the wicked?
For thee, i.e. for thy sake; or to prevent thy complaints and clamours.
Shall the rock be removed out of his place? shall the counsels of God, which are more firm and unmovable than rocks, and the whole course of his providence, be altered to comply with thy fancies or humours?
Yea; the thing is true and certain, notwithstanding thy dissatisfaction and opposition against it.
The light of the wicked shall be put out; all their glory and felicity shall perish.
The spark of his fire, i.e. their highest and brightest glory, which he calleth the spark, &c., because, like a spark, it shines briskly for a moment, but is quickly extinct.
In his tabernacle. i.e. in his family. Instead of his former splendour, both he and his shall fall into extremity of misery.
His candle shall be put out with him, i.e. his glory shall die with him, and not descend to his posterity, as he hoped and designed. Or,
his candle, which was with him, or shone upon him, shall be put out.
The steps of his strength, i.e. his strong steps, by a vulgar Hebraism. By steps he means his counsels, as the next branch explains it, his attempts and actions; and by steps of strength, such of them as seem to be most firm and settled, contrived with greatest strength of understanding, and carried on with great resolution and might.
Shall be straitened, i. e shall be hindered and entangled. He shall be cast into great difficulties, and troubles, and perplexities, so that he shall not be able to proceed and to accomplish his enterprises, but shall find himself insnared by his own devices, as the next words declare it. This phrase is used also Proverbs 4:11,12, and it is opposed to the enlarging of a man’s way or steps, which signifies success and prosperity, as Psalms 4:1 31:8.
His own counsel shall cast him down; he shall be undone by his own contrivances; either because God will give him up to dangerous and destructive mistakes of his way, or because God will oppose him, and turn his own devices against him, which he can easily do by throwing in unexpected accidents.
By his own feet; by his own choice, and design, and actions.
He walketh upon a snare; and therefore must needs be entangled and destroyed.
Shall take the by the heel, i.e. take fast hold of him, so as to keep him in those distresses; and when he is insnared the robber shall come upon him, and take, and spoil, or kill him. Or,
the horrible or terrible man; the huntsman, that laid the snare for him. A metaphor from those who hunt for wild beasts, who first lay snares for them, and then seize upon them in the snares.
In the ground; where he doth not expect nor discern it. The former snare he laid for himself, but this was laid for him by another.
Terrors; both from men, and from God, and from his own unquiet mind and guilty conscience.
Shall drive him to his feet; shall force him to flee hither and thither, and he knows not whither, being secure and safe no where, but pursued by terrors from place to place.
His strength; either,
1. His children, which are, and are called, a man’s strength, as Genesis 49:3 Psalms 127:4,5. Or rather,
2. His wealth, and power, and prosperity. Hunger-bitten, or famished, i.e. utterly consumed.
Shall be ready at his side, i.e. shall follow him at the heels, as a most diligent servant, or constant companion.
The strength of his skin, Heb. the bars, or rather, the branches of the skin, i.e. either the veins and sinews, which branch out themselves through the skin as well as elsewhere; or the fat and flesh, which like bars support the skin, and adorn and beautify it, as branches do a tree; without which the skirt is shrivelled up and deformed.
The first-born of death, i.e. a most remarkable and terrible kind of death. The first-born was the chief of his brethren, and therefore this title is given to things eminent in their kind, as Isaiah 14:30 Colossians 1:18 Hebrews 12:23 Revelation 1:5.
His confidence, i.e. all the matter of his confidence, his riches, children, &c.
Out of his tabernacle, i.e. out of his habitation.
It shall bring him, to wit, the loss of his confidence.
To the king of terrors; either,
1. Into extreme fears and horrors of mind. Or,
2. To death, which even Aristotle called the most terrible of all terribles. And this it will do, either because it will expose him to his enemies, who will kill him; or because the sense of his disappointments, and losses, and dangers will oppress his spirits, and break his heart.
It, i.e. destruction, expressed Job 18:12, and designed by this particle it, Job 18:13, shall not come upon him and his for a season, for then there might be some hopes of recovery; but it shall fix his abode with him.
It is none of his: this may be added, either,
1. By way of correction, Did I say
his tabernacle? I must retract the expression; for in truth, it is none of his, it is become another man’s. Or,
2. As a reason of the ruin of his tabernacle, because it is none of his own, but got from others by deceit or violence. But these words are and may be joined with the former, and both thus rendered, A stranger (Heb. one that is not his, that is not descended from him, and hath no relation to him)
shall dwell in his tabernacle, i.e. shall possess his house and goods.
Brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation; it shall be utterly and prodigiously destroyed, as it were by fire and brimstone. He seems to allude both to the destruction of Sodom, upon which God did scatter brimstone and fire, which happened not long before these times, and could not be unknown to them, who lived near that place, and were diligent observers of God’s works; and to the judgment which befell Job, Job 1:16: when the stranger hath taken and rifled his dwelling, he shall forsake it as an accursed place, and shall burn it with fire and brimstone, that there may be no monument of so vile a person left upon the earth.
i.e. He shall be destroyed, both root and branch, i.e. both himself and his posterity. Compare Malachi 4:1.
Instead of that honour and renown which he designed to have, both whilst he lived, and after his death, he is not so much as remembered, unless it be with contempt and reproach.
He shall be driven, Heb. they shall drive him, i.e. his enemies, or those whom he hath oppressed; or they whom God shall appoint to do it, whether angels or men. Or it is an impersonal speech, and to be rendered passively, as it is also Job 7:3 Luke 12:20 16:9.
From light into darkness; from a splendid and prosperous life to disgrace and misery, and to the grave, the land of darkness and forgetfulness, as the following words explain it.
But if any such survive, they shall be in the hands and power of strangers, or rather of their enemies.
At his day, i.e. at the day of his destruction, as the word day is used, Psalms 37:13 137:7 Ezekiel 21:25 Obadiah 1:12. They shall be amazed at the suddenness, and dreadfulness, and prodigiousness of it, as Job’s friends were at his calamities, Job 2:12,13. They that went before, i.e. before the persons last mentioned; those who lived in the time and place where this judgment was inflicted.
Affrighted; or, filled with horror; partly through humanity and compassion, and partly for fear, lest the judgment should overtake them also.
i.e. Who doth not acknowledge, nor fear, nor serve God, as this phrase is used, 1 Samuel 2:12 Psalms 79:6 2 Thessalonians 1:8.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 18". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://pro.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent