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Bible Commentaries
Job 14

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.

Woman - feeble, and in the East looked down upon (Genesis 2:21). Man, being born of one so frail, must be frail and Woman - feeble, and in the East looked down upon (Genesis 2:21). Man, being born of one so frail, must be frail and prone to sin himself (Job 15:14; Job 25:4; Matthew 11:11).

Few days (Genesis 47:9; Psalms 90:10) - literally, short of days. Man is the reverse of full of days and short of trouble.

Verse 2

He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.

(Psalms 90:6; note, Job 8:9.)

Verse 3

And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee?

Open ... eyes upon - not in graciousness; but, "Dost thou sharply fix thine eyes upon?" (Note, Job 7:19-20; also 1:8.) Is one so frail as man worthy of such constant watching on the part of God? (Zechariah 12:4, "I will open mine eyes upon Judah.")

Me - so frail.

Thee - so Almighty.

Verse 4

Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.

A plea in mitigation. The doctrine of original sin was held from the first. 'Man is unclean from his birth: how then can God expect perfect cleanness from such a one, and deal so severely with me?'

Not one clean person can be brought out of an unclean.

Verse 5

Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;

Determined - (Job 7:1, "Is there not an appointed time to men upon earth?" Isaiah 10:23; Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:36).

Verse 6

Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day.

Turn - namely, thine eyes from watching him so jealously (Job 14:3).

Hireling - (Job 7:1).

Accomplish - rather, 'enjoy.' Give him rest in his short span of life, that he may at least enjoy the measure of rest of the hireling, who, though hardworked, reconciles himelf to his lot by the hope of his rest and reward. [ raatsaah (H7521), to be contented with; to boar willingly.] (Umbreit.)

Verse 7

For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.

Man may the more claim a peaceful life, since, when separated from it by death, he never returns to it. This does not deny a future life, but a return to the present condition of life. Job plainly, hopes for a future state (Job 14:13; Job 7:2). Still it is but vague and trembling hope, not assurance; excepting the one bright glimpse in Job 19:25. The Gospel revelation was needed to change fears, hopes, and glimpses into clear and definite certainties.

Verse 8

Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground;

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 9

Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.

Scent - exhalation, which, rather than the humidity of water, causes the tree to germinate. Hardly does it feel the vapour or scent of the water when it buds. In the antithesis to man the tree is personified, and volition is poetically ascribed to it.

Like a plant - `as if newly planted' (Umbreit). Not as if trees and plants were a different species.

Verse 10

But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?

Man ... man. Two distinct Hebrew words are here used [ geber (H1397), a mighty man]; though mighty, he dies [ 'aadaam (H120), a man of earth]; because earthy, he gives up the ghost.

Wasteth - literally, 'is prostrated' [ chaalash (H2522), from the Arabic]; is reduced to nothing: he cannot revive in the present state, as the tree does. The cypress and pine, which when cut down do not revive, were the symbols of death among the Romans.

Verse 11

As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:

Sea - i:e., a lake, or pool formed from the outspreading of as river. Job lived near the Euphrates; and "sea" is applied to it (Jeremiah 51:36; Isaiah 27:1). So of the Nile (Isaiah 19:5).

Fall - utterly disappear by, drying up. The rugged channel of the once-flowing water answers to the outstretched Fall - utterly disappear by, drying up. The rugged channel of the once-flowing water answers to the outstretched corpse ("lieth down," Job 14:12) of the once-living man.

Verse 12

So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.

Heavens be no more. This only implies that Job had no hope of living again in the present order of the world; not that he had no hope of life again in a new order of things. Psalms 102:26 proves that early under the Old Testament the dissolution of the present earth and heavens was expected (cf. Genesis 8:22, "While the earth remaineth"). Enoch, before Job, had implied that the 'saints shall live again' (Jude 1:14; Hebrews 11:13-16). Even if, by this phrase, Job meant 'never' (Psalms 89:29, "His throne as the days of heaven" - i:e., forever) in his gloomier state of feelings, yet the Holy Spirit has made him unconsciously (1 Peter 1:11-12) use language expressing the truth that the resurrection is to be preceded by the dissolution of the heavens. In Job 14:13-15 he plainly passes to brighter hopes of a world to come.

Verse 13

O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!

Job wishes to be kept hidden in the grave until God's wrath against him shall have passed away. So while God's wrath is visiting the earth for the abounding apostasy which is to precede the Second Coming, God's people shall be hidden against the resurrection-glory (Isaiah 26:19-21).

Set time - a decreed time (Acts 1:7).

Verse 14

If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.

Shall he live? - The answer implied is, There is a hope that he shall, though not in the present order of life, as is shown by the words following. Job had denied (Job 14:10-12) that man shall live again in this present world. But hoping for a "set time" when God, shall remember and raise him out of the 'hiding'-place of the grave (Job 14:13), he declares himself willing to 'wait all the days of his appointed time' of continuance in the grave, as well as now in this present life of trial, however long and hard that may be.

Appointed time - literally, warfare, hard service; implying the hardship of being shut out from the realms of life, light, and God for the time he shall be in the grave (Job 7:1).

Change - my release, as a soldier at his post released from duty by the relieving guard (note, Job 10:17), (Unbreit and Gesenius): but elsewhere Gesenius explains it renovation, as of plants in spring (Job 14:7); but this does not accord so well with the metaphor in "appointed time" or 'warfare.'

Verse 15

Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.

Namely, at the resurrection (John 5:28; Psalms 17:15).

Have a desire to - literally, become pale with anxious desire. The same word is translated "sore longedst after" (Genesis 31:30; Psalms 84:2), implying the utter unlikelihood that God would leave in oblivion the 'creature of His own hands, so fearfully and wonderfully made' (Job 10:8-12). It is objected that, if Job knew of a future retribution, he would make it the leading topic solving the problem of the permitted afflictions of the righteous. But

(1) He did not intend to exceed the limits of what was clearly revealed: the doctrine was then in a vague form only.

(2) The doctrine of God's moral government in this life, even independently of the fitters, needed vindication.

Verse 16

For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin?

Rather, 'Yea thou wilt number, etc., and wilt not (as now) jealously watch over my sin.' Thenceforward, instead of severe watching for every sin of Job, God will guard him against every sin. 'Number ... steps' - i:e., minutely attend to them, that they may not wander (Umbreit). (1 Samuel 2:9, "He will keep the feet of His saints;" Ps. 27:23 , "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.") In the English version the "For," means, But my wish (Job 14:13-15) is vain: 'For now, as it is thou numberest my steps, watching for my every slip; dost thou not watch over my sin, so as to let none of my sins escape thee? or, as Maurer, 'Thou dost not attend to my sin, so as to consider whether it deserve so heavy a punishment as I bear.'

Verse 17

My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity.

Sealed up - (Job 9:7). Is shut up in eternal oblivion - i:e., God thenceforth will think no more of my former sins. To cover sins is to completely forgive them (Psalms 32:1; Psalms 85:2). Purses of money in the East are usually sealed.

Sewest up - rather, 'coverest' [ Taapal (H2950), the same as Taabal (H2881)]; akin to an Arabic word, 'to colour over;' to forget wholly (Umbreit). Maurer translates, somewhat as the English version, 'Thou sewest upon mine iniquity:' besides the iniquities which thou chargest me with, thou attachest to me others which I never committed [akin to taapar (H8609) and taapal (H2950)]. On the former clause, taken in the sense, sealed by an irrevocable decree as doomed to punishment, cf. Deuteronomy 32:34, "Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?" Hosea 13:12, "The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up." This view seems better than Umbreit's.

Verse 18

And surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place.

Cometh to nought - literally, fadeth; a poetical image from a leaf (Isaiah 34:4). Here Job falls back into his gloomy bodings as to the grave. Instead of "and surely," translate 'yet,' marking the transition from his brighter hopes (umbreit). Even the solid mountain falls and crumbles away; man, therefore, cannot "hope," worn as he is by continued calamities, to escape decay, or to live again in the present world (Job 14:19).

Out of his place - so man (Psalms 103:16, "And the place thereof shall know it no more").

Verse 19

The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man.

The Hebrew order is more forcible. 'Stones themselves are worn away by water.'

Thou washest away the things which grow out of - rather, 'its floods wash away the dust of the earth' [ tishTop (H7857) cªpiycheyhaa (H5599)]. There is a gradation from "mountains" to "rocks" (Job 14:18), then "stones," then, last, "dust of the earth;" thus the solid mountain at last disappears utterly. Since those natural objects, when once destroyed, remain in the same state unrestored, so man, once dead, has no hope of living again in the present order of things.

Verse 20

Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away.

Prevailest - doest overpower by superior strength.

Passeth - dieth.

Changest countenance - the change in the visage at death. Differently (Daniel 5:9).

Verse 21

His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.

One striking trait is selected from the sad picture of the severance of the dead from all that passes in the world (Ecclesiastes 9:5) - namely, the utter separation of parents and children.

Verse 22

But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.

"Flesh" and "soul" describe the whole man. Scripture rests the hope of a future life, not on the inherent immortality of the soul, but on the restoration of the body with the soul. In the unseen world, Job, in a gloomy frame, anticipates man shall be limited to the thought of his own misery. Pain is, by personification, from our feelings while alive, attributed to the flesh and soul as if the man could feel in his body when dead. It is the dead in general, not the wicked, who are meant here.


(1) Three features of man's frail state here are brought forward-his birth of woman, implying at once his infirmity (1) Three features of man's frail state here are brought forward-his birth of woman, implying at once his infirmity and his proneness to sin; next, his fewness of days; lastly, his few days being full of trouble (Job 14:1). These considerations should abase our pride, moderate our earthly hopes, and lead us to seek our portion in the blessed world where frailty corruption, sorrow and death have no place.

(2) How vain it is for man, so constituted by his fallen nature, to dream of justification in his own righteousness, if God should enter into judgment with him! (Job 14:3.) Man, coming out of the unclean, can never be clean in himself (Job 14:4). But man can be faultlessly clean by being washed in "the fountain opened for uncleanness" (Zechariah 13:1; Hebrews 9:14).

(3) The number of each man's days and months is accurately defined with God (Job 14:5). We know not whether the days left to us be many or few. Our prayer, therefore, ought to be, not as Job's, Turn from us, that we may rest (Job 14:6); but, Turn to us, and "Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned" (Lamentations 5:21); so "shall we find rest for our souls" (Jeremiah 6:16); and, also, "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Psalms 90:12).

(4) The book of nature teaches, in type, the doctrine of the resurrection. The tree that seemed dead in winter, after having been cut down to the stump, sends out fresh shoots in spring. Job in his gloomier seasons lost sight of the hope which revelation and nature both teach. But even then he was not without earnest desires that God would keep him in the grave, as in a secret chamber, against the time when God's wrath shall have been past, and a brighter, better order of things shall supersede the present troublous state. Blessed be God, we Christians can give an answer of joyful assurance to the question, "I a man die, shall he live again?" (Job 14:14.) "We know, if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Therefore "we are confident and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:8).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-14.html. 1871-8.
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