Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. Therefore. From this concession which thou hast just made. (Menochius) — Various. Hebrew, “Hence do my thoughts cause me to answer, and for this I hasten.” Septuagint, “I did not thus suspect that thou wouldst contradict these things,” &c. (Haydock) — Sophar only speaks this second time; and he produces little new, but begins with an air of more moderation, as if the arguments of Job had made some impression upon him. (Calmet) — He attempts to prove that the wicked have no comfort long; which is true in one sense, as all time is short, though they may prosper all their lives, as Job corrects his observation, chap. xxi. 13. (Worthington)
Ver. 4. I know. Hebrew and Septuagint, “dost thou not know?”
Ver. 6. Pride. Septuagint, “presents.” (Haydock) — Riches may be meant by pride. (Calmet)
Ver. 7. Hill. Hebrew, “his own dung.” (Haydock) (Proverbs x. 7.)
Ver. 8. Fleeth. The poets assign wings to sleep and to dreams. (Homer, &c.) Isaias (xxix. 7.) describes a man who dreams that he is eating, and finds himself hungry when he awakes. Such is the live of the avaricious, (Calmet) and of all wicked people. (Haydock)
Ver. 9. Behold him, as if it were susceptible of resentment, and entered into the views of God, chap vii. 10., and Psalm xxvi. 35. (Calmet)
Ver. 10. Be. Hebrew, “seek to please the poor, and his hands shall restore their goods,” which the wicked had gotten by oppression. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. Vices of, is not in Hebrew, but must be understood. (Haydock) — Youth. Some translate, “hidden.” Sophar perhaps accuses Job of some secret abominations, for which he was afflicted with the venereal disease. At least, nothing is more common than to see people brought to old age and infirmities unnumbered, (Calmet) before their time, in consequence of riotous living in their youth. (Haydock) — Youth may also denote the sin in which we are born, which is the source of all our maladies, and is always dragging us towards the grave. (Calmet)
Ver. 12. Evil of any king, and particularly (Haydock) injustice, which at first seems sweet, but will prove in the end a mortal poison. (Calmet) — The unjust will be forced to restore his ill-gotten goods, or suffer eternally for the neglect, ver. 14, 18. (Haydock) — Habitual sins are also overcome with most difficulty, ver. 11. (Menochius)
Ver. 16. Head. Hebrew, “venom.” Septuagint, “the wrath of dragons.” (Calmet) — Vipers. The same Hebrew term is elsewhere rendered basilisk, or asp. The precise import of such things is not easily ascertained. (Pineda) — Tongue. The ancients thought that serpents communicated the venom by the tongue, or sting. Moderns think they do it rather by the teeth. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. Butter. The impious may have a short-lived pleasure, but it will not give perfect satisfaction. The poets use similar expressions. (Calmet)
Mella fluant illi, ferat et rubus asper amomum. (Virgil)
Flumina jam lactis, jam flumina nectaris ibant. (Met. i.)
Ver. 18. Suffer eternal torments. (Calmet) — Hebrew, “according to his substance, shall the restitution be, and he shall not rejoice.” (Protestants)
Ver. 20. Them. Death will overtake him, like the rich man, Luke xii. 20. (Calmet)
Ver. 21. Continue. Hebrew, “no one shall look for his goods.” The sinner eat up all in his life-time, or saw his possessions slip from him. (Haydock) — At least, he shall not take them with him to the grave. (Calmet)
Ver. 23. May. Hebrew, “And when he shall be about to fill his belly,” like king Baltassar, death shall hurry him away. (Calmet) — Rain. Septuagint, “hurl sorrows upon him,” (Haydock) by an untimely death, followed with eternal hunger and thirst. Thus was treat the rich glutton, Luke xvi. 22. (Calmet)
Ver. 24. Brass; of which metal the strongest bows were made. Protestants have, “steel:” (Haydock) but brass was used by the ancients for the same purpose. (Calmet) — This proverb shews that those who endeavour to escape from men, fall into the hands of God. (Delrio. Adag. 9, t. ii.)
Incidit in Scyllam cupiens vitare Charybdim. (Virgil) (Menochius)
Ver. 25. The sword is, occurs not in the Vulgate, (Haydock) though it be in the Complutensian and Sixtine editions. (Calmet) — Hebrew, “It is drawn, and cometh out of the body; the glittering sword cometh out of his gall; terrors are upon him.” Protestants, “May likewise the dart come out through his body,” &c. (Haydock) — Ones. Hebrew, Enim; giants, who formerly inhabited the land of Moab, near the eastern Idumea. Their name might be placed for any cruel enemies. (Calmet)
Ver. 26. Darkness, or misery. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “Terrors upon him, (26) and all darkness may await him.” (Haydock) — He shall find no means of escaping. (Calmet) — Kindled. Hebrew, “blown.” St. Gregory observes that hell-fire is corporeal, but very different from our material fire. Chaldean, &c., explain this passage in the same sense. It may also intimate interior anguish, (Calmet) lightning, (Vatable) pestilence, (Grotius) and every species of calamity. (Calmet) — Tabernacle, in hell. (Menochius) — We may also translate, “he who is left,” (Haydock) the offspring shall be also miserable. (Menochius)
Ver. 27. Heavens, as his sins have cried for vengeance, Genesis xviii. 20. (Calmet) — All creatures shall fight against the wicked. (Menochius)
Ver. 28. Exposed. Hebrew, “the bud, (Calmet) or increase of his house, shall depart,” (Haydock) and be led away into captivity, (Calmet) and ruined. Septuagint, “Let final destruction draw away his house, and the day of wrath overtake him.”
Ver. 29. Doings. Literally, “words.” Hebrew, “of his decree.” (Haydock) — This is what he may expect for him impiety both in words and actions. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Sophar declares the shortness of the prosperity of the wicked: and their sudden downfall.
1 Then Sophar, the Naamathite, answered, and said:
2 Therefore various thoughts succeed one another in me, and my mind is hurried away to different things.
3 The doctrine with which thou reprovest me, I will hear, and the spirit of my understanding shall answer for me.
4 This I know from the beginning, since man was placed upon the earth,
5 That the praise of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment.
6 If his pride mount up even to heaven, and his head touch the clouds:
7 In the end he shall be destroyed, like a dunghill; and they that had seen him, shall say: Where is he?
8 As a dream that fleeth away, he shall not be found; he shall pass as a vision of the night:
9 The eye that had seen him, shall see him no more, neither shall his place any more behold him.
10 His children shall be oppressed with want, and his hands shall render to him his sorrow.
11 His bones shall be filled with the vices of his youth, and they shall sleep with him in the dust.
12 For when evil shall be sweet in his mouth, he will hide it under his tongue.
13 He will spare it, and not leave it, and will hide it in his throat.
14 His bread in his belly shall be turned into the gall of asps within him.
15 The riches which he hath swallowed, he shall vomit up, and God shall draw them out of his belly.
16 He shall suck the head of asps, and the viper’s tongue shall kill him.
17 (Let him not see the streams of the river, the brooks of honey and of butter.)
18 He shall be punished for all that he did, and yet shall not be consumed: according to the multitude of his devices so also shall he suffer.
19 Because he broke in, and stript the poor: he hath violently taken away a house which he did not build.
20 *And yet his belly was not filled: and when he hath the things he coveted, he shall not be able to possess them.
21 There was nothing left of his meat, and therefore nothing shall continue of his goods.
22 When he shall be filled, he shall be straitened; he shall burn, and every sorrow shall fall upon him.
23 May his belly be filled, that God may send forth the wrath of his indignation upon him, and rain down his war upon him.
24 He shall flee from weapons of iron, and shall fall upon a bow of brass.
25 The sword is drawn out, and cometh forth from its scabbard, and glittereth in his bitterness: the terrible ones shall go and come upon him.
26 All darkness is hid in his secret places: a fire that is not kindled shall devour him: he shall be afflicted when left in his tabernacle.
27 The heavens shall reveal his iniquity, and the earth shall rise up against him.
28 The offspring of his house shall be exposed, he shall be pulled down in the day of God’s wrath.
29 This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the inheritance of his doings from the Lord.
20: Ecclesiastes v. 9.