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Bible Commentaries
Job 20

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-5

Zophar States Why he must Speak

v. 1. Then answered Zophar, the Naamathite, speaking for the second time, Cf 11, and said,

v. 2. Therefore do my thoughts cause me to answer, because the statements of Job filled him with excitement, for that very reason he felt that his reply should be tempered by calm consideration, and for this I make haste, he was storming inwardly, he was deeply perturbed, his inward impulse gave him no rest, he felt constrained to furnish an answer because of the surging excitement in his mind, which, however, should be governed by calm thoughts.

v. 3. I have heard the check of my reproach, he was obliged to hear Job's chiding, to his disgrace, as he regarded it, and the spirit of my understanding causeth me to answer, the knowledge which his mind had gained in the course of the dispute furnished him with information concerning the proper way of judging Job, with the latter's insulting attacks. He was eagerly impetuous to give Job back blow for blow.

v. 4. Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth, since earth was inhabited, as far as the accounts of men go back,

v. 5. that the triumphing of the wicked is short, that it never extends over a long period of time, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment, that the joyful confidence of the ungodly cannot last? This was probably directed at Job's certainty of eventual vindication, as he had expressed it at the end of his last speech, 19:25-27. Zophar was a representative of the class of people who feel obliged to parade their own judgment in every case that comes to their notice.

Verses 6-29

Zophar Pictures the End of the Ungodly

v. 6. Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, that is, his ambitious plans, his exaltation in rank and power, and his head reach unto the clouds, the ungodly apparently gaining all that his heart desires;

v. 7. yet he shall perish forever like his own dung, spurned, falling into decay, and forgotten; they which have seen him shall say, Where is he? He will have disappeared so utterly and quickly that his vanishing will occasion surprise.

v. 8. He shall fly away as a dream and shall not be found, just as fleeting, just as perishable; yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night, scared away like a phantom before God's mighty intervention.

v. 9. The eye also which saw him shall see him no more, even a careful scanning would yield no results, since God's removal of the wicked would not leave a trace behind; neither shall his place any more behold him.

v. 10. His children shall seek to please the poor, that is, they will be obliged to do that by God's judgment, God will compel them to pay out to them, and his hands shall restore their goods, through his children, who would be under compulsion to give back the wealth, the money, which he had taken from the poor by his wicked exactions.

v. 11. His bones are full of the sin of his youth, they were indeed full of the vigor of youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust, all the strength and vigor of his body will be laid in the grave.

v. 12. Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue, holding evil in his mouth like a sweet-tasting morsel,

v. 13. though he spare it and forsake it not, sparing it to prolong his enjoyment of it, but keep it still within his mouth, retaining it against his palate, persisting in the lustful enjoyment of his wickedness,

v. 14. yet his meat in his bowels is turned, the food of wickedness which he finally swallows, it is the gall of asps within him, the venom of serpents in his intestines.

v. 15. He hath swallowed down riches, all the possessions which he gained by his wicked grasping, and he shall vomit them up again, unable to retain what he had so eagerly appropriated; God shall cast them out of his belly, administering an emetic to him, forcing him to disgorge his ill-gotten wealth.

v. 16. He shall suck the poison of asps, this will turn out to be the effect upon him; the viper's tongue shall slay him, his punishment will come upon him as quickly as the striking of one of the very venomous serpents of the Arabian desert, whose sting is almost immediately fatal.

v. 17. He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter, the wicked would get no opportunity to delight in, to enjoy, brooks, creeks, rivers of honey and cream, he would be given no opportunity to enjoy his prosperity.

v. 18. That which he labored for shall he restore, being obliged to give it back to those from whom he has wrested it, and shall not swallow it down, not enjoy it; according to his substance shall the restitution be, and he shall not rejoice therein, that is, in the same ratio as he heaped up his property by forbidden means his enjoyment in it would be diminished, he must lack the enjoyment which he had promised himself in them.

v. 19. Because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor, first crushed and then abandoned the defenseless, because he hath violently taken away an house which he builded not, not being able to fit out and to arrange the houses which he gained by unjust means,

v. 20. surely he shall not feel quietness in his belly, rest in the seat of his gluttony and avarice, he shall not save of that which he desired, literally, "with his most valued treasure he shall not escape. " The allusion is probably to the fact that Job had been stripped of all he had.

v. 21. There shall none of his meat be left, literally, "there is nothing remaining to his food," that is, nothing escaped his greediness ; therefore shall no man look for his goods, his ill-gotten prosperity will not endure.

v. 22. In the fullness of his sufficiency, while he has more than he needs for his actual wants, while he is surfeited with good things, he shall be in straits, poverty and distress will take hold on him; every hand of the wicked shall come upon him, the wretched people who were abused by him will inflict vengeance on him for the violence which they had suffered.

v. 23. When he is about to fill his belly, or, "That it may serve for the filling of his belly," that for once the wicked may have enough and more than enough, God shall cast the fury of His wrath upon him, as it glows with a white heat, and shall rain it upon him while he is eating, with his food, so that he consumes the fire of God's wrath with every meal.

v. 24. He shall flee from the iron weapon, while the wicked flees from the iron armor, and the bow of steel shall strike him through, the arrow from a brass bow will pierce him.

v. 25. It is drawn and cometh out of the body, the wicked himself drawing the arrow of God out of his body, in order to save his life, if possible; yea, the glittering sword cometh out of his gall, for he himself removes the gleaming steel; terrors are upon him, as he realizes that his doom is upon him.

v. 26. All darkness shall be hid in his secret places, is saved up to strike that which he has hoarded, that is, every kind of calamity will descend upon the precious things which he fondly believed to be safe; a fire not blown shall consume him, that is, such a fire as requires no human agency to keep it alive, a supernatural fire; it shall go ill with him that is left in his tabernacle, the fire of God devouring that which still remains after former calamities have passed by.

v. 27. The heaven shall reveal his iniquity, they do so at all times, God Himself witnessing against him; and the earth shall rise up against him, all creation testifying the fact that he merits destruction.

v. 28. The increase of his house shall depart, all that he has garnered, and his goods shall flow away in the day of his wrath, when the divine wrath will descend upon him.

v. 29. This is the portion of a wicked man from God, that which is assigned to him, what he must finally expect, and the heritage appointed unto him by God. In the end the wicked has nothing but misery and wretchedness for his portion. In the entire discourse it is evident that Zophar has Job in mind and wants him to apply the statements to himself. The sneering insinuations in similar cases are intended to cut the victim to the quick.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Job 20". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/job-20.html. 1921-23.
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