Job 18


Bildad, in a speech of passionate invective, accuses Job of

impatience and impiety, 1-4;

shows the fearful end of the wicked and their posterity; and

apparently applies the whole to Job, whom he threatens with

the most ruinous end, 5-21.


Verse 1. Then answered Bildad] The following analysis of this

speech, by Mr. Heath, is judicious: "Bildad, irritated to the last

degree that Job should treat their advice with so much contempt,

is no longer able to keep his passions within the bounds of

decency. He proceeds to downright abuse; and finding little

attention given by Job to his arguments, he tries to terrify him

into a compliance. To that end he draws a yet more terrible

picture of the final end of wicked men than any yet preceding,

throwing in all the circumstances of Job's calamities, that he

might plainly perceive the resemblance, and at the same time

insinuating that he had much worse still to expect, unless he

prevented it by a speedy change of behaviour. That it was the

highest arrogance in him to suppose that he was of consequence

enough to be the cause of altering the general rules of

Providence, Job 18:4. And that it was much more expedient for the

good of the whole, that he, by his example, should deter others

from treading in the same path of wickedness and folly;"

Job 18:5-7.

Verse 2. How long will it be ere ye make an end] It is difficult

to say to whom this address is made: being in the plural number,

it can hardly be supposed to mean Job only. It probably means all

present; as if he had said, It is vain to talk with this man, and

follow him through all his quibbles: take notice of this, and then

let us all deliver our sentiments fully to him, without paying any

regard to his self-vindications. It must be owned that this is the

plan which Bildad followed; and he amply unburdens a mind that was

labouring under the spirit of rancour and abuse. Instead of How

long will it be ere ye make an end of words? Mr. Good translates:

"How long will ye plant thorns (irritating, lacerating, wounding

invectives) among words?" translating the unusual term

kintsey, thorns, instead of bounds or limits. The word

kintsey may be the Chaldee form for kitsey, the nun

being inserted by the Chaldeans for the sake of euphony, as is

frequently done; and it may be considered as the contracted plural

from kats, a thorn, from kats, to lacerate, rather

than kets, an end, from katsah, to cut off.

Schultens and others have contended that kanats, is an

Arabic word, used also in Hebrew; that [Arabic] kanasa, signifies

to hunt, to lay snares; and hence [Arabic] maknas, a snare: and

that the words should be translated, "How long will you put

captious snares in words?" But I prefer kintsey, as being the

Chaldee form for kitsey, whether it be considered as

expressing limits or thorns; as the whole instance is formed after

the Chaldee model, as is evident, not only in the word in

question, but also in lemillin, to words, the Chaldee plural

instead of lemillim, the Hebrew plural.

Verse 3. Counted as beasts] Thou treatest us as if we had

neither reason nor understanding.

Verse 4. He teareth himself in his anger] Literally, Rending his

own soul in his anger; as if he had said, Thou art a madman: thy

fury has such a sway over thee that thou eatest thy own flesh.

While thou treatest us as beasts, we see thee to be a furious

maniac, destroying thy own life.

Shall the earth be forsaken for thee?] To say the least,

afflictions are the common lot of men. Must God work a miracle in

providence, in order to exempt thee from the operation of natural

causes? Dost thou wish to engross all the attention and care of

providence to thyself alone? What pride and insolence!

Verse 5. The light of the wicked shall be put out] Some think it

would be better to translate the original, "Let the light of the

wicked be extinguished!" Thou art a bad man, and thou hast

perverted the understanding which God hath given thee. Let that

understanding, that abused gift, be taken away. From this verse to

the end of the chapter is a continual invective against Job.

Verse 6. The light shall be dark in his tabernacle] His property

shall be destroyed, his house pillaged, and himself and his family

come to an untimely end.

His candle shall be put out] He shall have no posterity.

Verse 7. The steps of his strength] Even in his greatest

prosperity he shall be in straits and difficulties.

His own counsel] He shall be the dupe and the victim of his own

airy, ambitious, and impious schemes.

Verse 8. For he is cast into a net] His own conduct will

infallibly bring him to ruin. He shall be like a wild beast taken

in a net; the more he flounces in order to extricate himself, the

more he shall be entangled.

He walketh upon a snare.] He is continually walking on the

meshes of a net, by which he must soon be entangled and


Verse 9. The gin shall take him] Houbigant reads the tenth

before the ninth verse, thus: "The snare is laid for him in the

ground, and a trap for him in the way. The gin shall take him by

the heel, and the robber shall prevail against him."

From the beginning of the seventh verse to the end of the

thirteenth there is an allusion to the various arts and methods

practiced in hunting. 1. A number of persons extend themselves in

a forest, and drive the game before them, still straitening the

space from a broad base to a narrow point in form of a triangle,

so that the farther they go the less room have they on the right

and left, the hunters lining each side, while the drovers with

their dogs are coming up behind. "The steps of his strength shall

be straitened," Job 18:7. 2.

Nets, gins, and pitfalls, are laid or formed in different

places, so that many are taken before they come to the point where

the two lines close. "He is cast into a net, he walketh upon a

snare-the trap is laid for him in the way-the snare in the

ground," Job 18:8-10. 3. The

howling of the dogs, with the shouts of the huntsmen, fill him

with dismay, and cause him to run himself beyond his strength and

out of breath. "Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and

shall drive him to his feet," Job 18:11. 4. While spent with

hunger and fatigue, he is entangled in the spread nets; and the

huntsman either pierces him with an arrow or spear, or cuts the

sinews of his legs, so that he is easily captured and destroyed.

"The robbers shall prevail against him," Job 18:9. "His strength

is hunger-bitten, and destruction is ready at his side,"

Job 18:12. This latter verse is thus paraphrased by the

Chaldee: "Let his first-born son be famished; and affliction be

prepared for his wife."

Verse 13. It shall devour the strength of his skin] This may

refer to the elephant, or to the rhinoceros, whose skin scarcely

any dart can pierce: but in the case referred to above, the animal

is taken in a pitfall, and then the first-born of death-a sudden

and overwhelming stroke-deprives him of life. See the account of

hunting the elephant in the East at the end of the chapter.

See Clarke on Job 18:21. The Chaldee has: "The strength of his skin

shall devour his flesh; and the angel of death shall consume his


Verse 14. His confidence shall be rooted out] His

dwelling-place, how well soever fortified, shall now he deemed

utterly insecure.

And it shall bring him to the king of terrors.] Or, as Mr. Good

translates, "And dissolution shall invade him as a monarch." He

shall be completely and finally overpowered.

The phrase king of terrors has been generally thought to mean

death; but it is not used in any such way in the text. For

lemelech ballahoth, to the king of destructions, one of De

Rossi's MSS. has kemelech, "as a king;" and one, instead of

ballahoth, with vau holem, to indicate the plural,

terrors or destructions, has ballahuth, with vau

shurek, which is singular, and signifies terror, destruction. So

the Vulgate seems to have read, as it translates, Et calcet super

eum, quasi rex, interitis; "And shall tread upon him as a king or

destroyer. Or as a king who is determined utterly to destroy him."

On this verse the bishop of Killala, Dr. Stock, says, "I am sorry

to part with a beautiful phrase in our common version, the king of

terrors, as descriptive of death; but there is no authority for it

in the Hebrew text."

It may however be stated that death has been denominated by

similar epithets both among the Greeks and Romans,

So Virgil, AEn. vi., ver. 100.

________Quando hic inferni janua regis


"The gates of the king of hell are reported to be here."

And OVID, Metam. lib. v., ver. 356, 359.

Inde tremit tellus: et rex pavit ipse silentum.

Hanc metuens cladem, tenebrosa sede tyrannus


"Earth's inmost bowels quake, and nature groans;

His terrors reach the direful KING of HELL.

Fearing this destruction, the tyrant left his

gloomy court."

And in SOPHOCLES, (OEdip. Colon., ver. 1628, edit. Johnson.)



"O Pluto, king of shades." That is, the invisible demon, who

dwells in darkness impenetrable.

Old COVERDALE translates: Very fearfulnesse shall bringe him to

the kynge.

Verse 15. It shall dwell in his tabernacle] Desolation is here

personified, and it is said that it shall be the inhabitant, its

former owner being destroyed. Brimstone shall be scattered upon

his habitation, so that, like Sodom and Gomorrah, it may be an

everlasting monument of the Divine displeasure.

In the Persian poet Saady, we find a couplet which contains a

similar sentiment:-



Purdeh daree meekund dar keesri Keesar ankeboot

Boomee Noobat meezund ber kumbed Afraseeab.

"The spider holds the veil in the palace of Caesar;

The owl stands sentinel on the watchtower of Afrasiab."

The palaces of those mighty kings are so desolate that the spider

is the only chamberlain, and the owl the only sentinel. The web

of the former is all that remains as a substitute for the costly

veil furnished by the chamberlain in the palace of the Roman

monarch; and the hooting of the latter is the only remaining

substitute for the sound of drums and trumpets by which the guards

were accustomed to be relieved at the watchtower of the Persian


The word [Persic] Keesur, the same as καισαρ or Caesar, is the

term which the Asiatics always use when they designate the Roman


Afrasiab was an ancient king who invaded and conquered Persia

about seven hundred years before the Christian era. After having

reigned twelve years, he was defeated and slain by Zalzer and his

son, the famous Rustem. The present reigning family of

Constantinople claim descent from this ancient monarch.

Brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation.] This may

either refer to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, as has

already been intimated, or to an ancient custom of fumigating

houses with brimstone, in order to purify them from defilement.

PLINY says, Hist. Nat., lib. xxxv., c. 15, speaking of the uses of

sulphur, Habet et in religionibus locum ad expiandas suffitu

domos; which Dr. Holland paraphrases thus: "Moreover brimstone

is employed ceremoniously in hallowing of houses; for many are of

opinion that the perfume and burning thereof will keep out all

enchantments; yea, and drive away foul fiends and evil sprites

that do haunt a place."

OVID refers to the same, De Arte. Am., lib. ii. ver. 329.

Et veniat, quae lustret anus lectumque locumque:

Praeferat et tremula sulphur et ova manu.

This alludes to the ceremony of purifying the bed or place in

which a sick person was confined; an old woman or nurse was the

operator, and eggs and sulphur were the instruments of


On this and other methods of purgation see an excellent note in

Servius on these words of Virgil, AEn. vi., ver. 740.

_______________Aliae panduntur inanes

Suspensae ad ventos: aliis sub gurgite vasto

Infectum eluitur scelus, aut exuritur igni.

"For this are various penances subjoin'd;

And some are hung to bleach upon the wind;

Some plunged in waters, others, plunged in fires."

Unde etiam, says Servius, in sacris Liberi omnibus tres sunt

istae purgationes: nam aut taeda purgantur et sulphure, aut aqua

abluuntur, aut aere ventilantur.

"These three kinds of purgation are used in the rites of

Bacchus: they are purged by flame and sulphur, or washed in water,

or ventilated by the winds."

But it is most likely that Bildad, in his usual uncharitable

manner, alludes to the destruction of Job's property and family by

winds and fire: for the FIRE OF GOD fell from heaven and burnt up

the sheep and the servants, and CONSUMED them; and a great wind,

probably the sulphureous suffocating simoom, smote the four

corners of the house, where Job's children were feasting, and

killed them; see Job 1:16, 19.

Verse 16. His roots shall be dried up-his branch be cut off.] He

shall be as utterly destroyed, both in himself, his posterity, and

his property, as a tree is whose branches are all lopped off, and

whose every root is cut away.

Verse 17. His remembrance shall perish] He shall have none to

survive him, to continue his name among men.

No name in the street.] He shall never be a man of reputation;

after his demise, none shall talk of his fame.

Verse 18. He shall be driven from light] He shall be taken off

by a violent death.

And chased out of the world.] The wicked is DRIVEN AWAY in his

iniquity. This shows his reluctance to depart from life.

Verse 19. He shall neither have son nor nephew] Coverdale,

following the Vulgate, translates thus: We shal neither have

children ner kynss folk among his people, no ner eny posterite in

his countrie: yonge and olde shal be astonyshed at his death.

Verse 20. They that come after him] The young shall be struck

with astonishment when they hear the relation of the judgments of

God upon this wicked man. As they that went before. The aged who

were his contemporaries, and who saw the judgments that fell on

him, were affrighted, achazu saar, seized with

horror-were horrified; or, as Mr. Good has well expressed it,

were panic-struck.

Verse 21. Such are the dwellings] This is the common lot of the

wicked; and it shall be particularly the case with him who knoweth

not God, that is Job, for it is evident he alludes to him. Poor

Job! hard was thy lot, severe were thy sufferings.

ON the elephant hunt to which I have referred, Job 18:13, I

shall borrow the following account extracted from Mr. Cordiner's

History of Ceylon, by Mr. Good:-

"We have a curious description of the elephant hunt, which is

pursued in a manner not essentially different from the preceding,

except that the snares are pallisadoed with the strongest possible

stakes, instead of being netted, and still farther fortified by

interlacings. They are numerous, but connected together; every

snare or inclosure growing gradually narrower, and opening into

each other by a gate or two that will only admit the entrance of a

single animal at a time.

"The wood in which elephants are known to abound is first

surrounded, excepting at the end where the foremost and widest

inclosure is situated, with fires placed on moveable pedestals,

which in every direction are drawn closer and closer, and, aided

by loud and perpetual shouts, drive the animals forward till they

enter into the outer snare. After which the same process is

continued, and they are driven by fear into a second, into a

third, and into a fourth; till at length the elephants become so

much sub-divided, that by the aid of cordage fastened carefully

round their limbs, and the management of decoy elephants, they are

easily capable of being led away one by one, and tamed. A single

hunt thus conducted will sometimes occupy not less than two months

of unremitting labour; and the entrance of the elephants into the

snares is regarded as an amusement or sport of the highest

character, and as such is attended by all the principal families

of the country." Account of Ceylon, p. 218-226.

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