Job xxi.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 2. Do. “Alter your opinion.” (Menochius) — Symmachus, “hear.” Septuagint, “may this be for your consolation,” (Hebrew) which I shall receive from you, or which you may make use of, if you should be afflicted (Calmet) as I am. (Haydock) — Job undertakes to show that the wicked are sometimes suffered to enjoy a long prosperity.

Ver. 4. Troubled. Hebrew, “Why is not my spirit shortened” by death, if your assertion be true? (Haydock) or why may I not be “troubled,” since I have to deal, not with an enlightened judge, but with men who are under the greatest prejudices? (Calmet) — I seem to you to dispute against God. Have I not then reason to tremble? ver. 6. (Haydock) — Though he disputed with men, it was concerning Providence and eternal things. (Worthington)

Ver. 5. Hearken to. Literally, “look steadfastly on me.” (Haydock) — Compare my present with my former condition, and do not pretend to fathom God’s judgments; which fill me also with astonishment, when I consider why the virtuous are distressed, and the wicked prosper, ver. 7. — Mouth be silent. Harpocrates, the god of silence, was represented in this posture; and Virgil says, Intentique ora tenebant. (Æneid ii.) — Septuagint, “upon the cheek,” like men in deep consideration. (Calmet)

Ver. 7. Riches. This is what fills me with great anxiety. Yet it quite destroys the force of your argument, (Calmet) since you pretend that the prosperity of the wicked is never of long duration. We see them, however, live to an advanced old age, (Haydock) continually offending God, and annoying their neighbours. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “yea, they grow old in riches.”

Ver. 8. Sight. The Jews esteemed this as the greatest blessing and mark of God’s favour. Yet it was also equivocal, as it was often possessed by the wicked. (Calmet)

Ver. 9. Rod. Divine judgments. (Menochius) (Psalm lxxii. 5.)

Ver. 10. Cattle. Literally, “ox,” bos. Protestants, “their bull gendereth, and faileth not.” (Haydock) — But Bochart explains it of the cows’ bringing forth every year. (Calmet) — Ox is used in the same sense, both by sacred and profane authors. (Haydock) — A great part of the riches of these nations consisted in cattle, Psalm cxliii. 14., and Zacharias viii. 5.

Ver. 11. Their. Septuagint, “They continue like eternal sheep, as if they and their flocks would never die. (Calmet) — And play, is to shew the nature of the dance. It is not in Hebrew. (Haydock) — The children are healthy and sportive. (Menochius) — Septuagint, “they play before them.” (Haydock)

Ver. 13. Moment. Septuagint, “in the rest of the lower region, adou, they shall be laid,” (Haydock) in the grave. (Menochius) — A sudden death, without agony or sickness, (Haydock) was the choice of Julius Cæsar, the night before he was slain. Repentinum inopinatumque prætulerat. (Suetonius) — But the enlightened servant of God would rather desire time to do penance, and to prepare for death. For who shall presume that he has that charity which banisheth fear? (Calmet) — Hell. The same term is used for the place where the damned are tormented, as for that where the souls of the just waited (chap. vii., and xvii.) for their Redeemer’s coming. But here Job is speaking of the apparent happiness of the wicked; (Haycock) and only alludes to the grave, (Calmet; Menochius) or comfortable death and burial of the reprobate: though, at the same time, he may declare that their souls are buried in hell. (Haydock)

Ver. 14. Ways. The too common effect of riches, Proverbs xxx. 8., and Ecclesiasticus v. 2.

Ver. 16. Because, is not in Hebrew. “Lo, their good is not.” They are not possessed of true riches, or of good sense. Alexandrian Septuagint, “For good things were in their hands: but the works of the impious are not pure.” No: the more they possess, the greater is their perversity. Grabe substitutes oukathora, for kathara; God “does not behold” the works, &c., which is more conformable to the other editions; and thus the blasphemies of the impious are continued. (Haydock) — When we are not sensible of our wants and dependance, we think less on God. (Calmet) — Hand, or power, they are only the gifts of God; far be then such sentiments from me. (Calmet)

Ver. 17. How often. When do we witness the downfall of the wicked? (Mercer.) — Or, in a contrary sense, how often are they miserable as well as the just? Such things are, therefore, a very equivocal argument, to prove either side of the question. Those who are afflicted, and cling closer to God, must be accounted virtuous and happy; while that prosperity is fatal which is an occasion of our neglecting his service. (Calmet) — Job answers his own questions, ver. 7. If the wicked be happy for a time, their future state is deplorable, and often they forfeit even their temporal advantages. (Menochius)

Ver. 19. The sorrow. Protestants, “his iniquity.” Marginal note, “that is the punishment.” (Haydock) — The children shall share in his punishment, (Calmet) when they have been partakers, or imitators of his injustice. (Haydock) — Know his offence, and whether there be a God (Calmet) and Providence. (Menochius)

Ver. 21. And if. Hebrew, “when” he is cut off in the midst of his days: he does not regard the happiness or misery of those whom he leaves behind. (Haydock) — The children are rather taken away for his punishment, while he is living, as their misery would not touch him in the grave. (Menochius)

Ver. 23. Hale, or healthy. Hebrew, “in perfect strength.” (Haydock) — Septuagint, “simplicity, or folly.” St. Augustine reads with the old Vulgate, “in the strength of his simplicity, (Calmet) or innocence. (Haydock) — These outward appearances prove nothing for interior piety or wickedness. (Calmet)

Ver. 24. Bowels. Protestants, “breasts” (Marginal note, “milk-pails”) are full of milk. But the Septuagint, Bochart, &c., agree with the Vulgate. Job describes a corpulent man (Calmet) living in luxury, like the glutton. (Haydock)

Ver. 25. Any. Hebrew, “ever having eaten with pleasure.” (Haydock)

Ver. 27. Me. I perceive you are not convinced; and what you say respecting the wicked, is pointed at me. (Menochius)

Ver. 28. Prince. Job, (Menochius) or rather the tyrant, whose lot we know is miserable, as he falls a victim of God’s justice, chap. xx. 7.

Ver. 29. Way. Travellers, who have seen foreign countries, (Vatable) or any one that may be passing, (Sanchez) will answer this objection (Haydock) in my favour. (Menochius) — They will all agree in testifying that the wicked prosper, even for a long time. (Calmet)

Ver. 30. To the. He will be requited indeed, at last; or rather, when others are in the utmost danger, he will be protected as it were by God. Septuagint, (Calmet) or Theodotion, “the wicked is kept on high,” chouthizetai. All from ver. 28 to 33 inclusively, is marked as an addition to the Septuagint by Grabe, who has supplied many similar omissions, of which Origen and St. Jerome complained. (Haydock)

Ver. 31. Done. Man is afraid, and God defers to take cognizance. (Calmet)

Ver. 32. Dead. Hebrew, “the sheaves,” being quite ripe for harvest, and even in the tomb, the tyrant retains some sore of pre-eminence, as he is buried with honour, an set like a more elevated sheaf, to inspect the rest. (Calmet) — Godiss, is rendered by Protestants, “tomb,” (margin) “heap.” But (chap. v. 26.) where only the word occurs again, we find “a shock of corn,” and this comparison seems very suitable here. The damned shall watch, alas, when it will be to no purpose, among the heap of fellow-sufferers, who would not think while they had time to repent. After millions of night spent thus without sleep or ease, we may imagine we hear their mournful lamentations from the depth of the abyss. Always misery! and never any hope of ease! (Haydock) — “Eternity,” says Bridayne, (ser. in Maury’s Eloq.) “is a pendulum, the vibration of which sounds continually, Always! Never! In the mean while, a reprobate cries out: What o’clock is it? And the same voice answers, Eternity!” Thus at last the wicked shal awake from the sleep in which they have spent their days; (Haydock) and their watching, restless, and immortal souls (St. Thomas Aquinas) will bitterly lament their past folly. What profit will they derive from the honours paid to their corpse by surviving friends, (Haydock) even though they be embalmed, and seem to live in marble statues? (Pineda)

Ver. 33. Acceptable to the gravel of Cocytus. The Hebrew word, which St. Jerome has here rendered by the name Cocytus, (which the poets represent as a river in hell) signifies a valley or a torrent: and in this place, is taken for the low region of death, and hell: which willingly, as it were, receives the wicked at their death: who are ushered in by innumerable others that have gone before them; and are followed by multitudes above number. (Challoner) — Isaias (xiv. 9.) and Ezechiel (xxxii. 21.) describe the splendid reception in hell of the kings of Babylon and of Egypt, nearly in the same manner as Job does that of any sinner who has lived in prosperity, chap. xxxviii. 17. He gives life to the whole creation, in the true spirit of poetry. (Calmet) — The rich man is represented as tenderly embraced by his mother earth; (chap. i. 21.; Haydock) the very stones and turf press lightly upon him; as the ancients prayed, Sit tibi terra levis. Hebrew, “the stones or clods of the torrent (Calmet) shall be sweet to him, and he,” &c. (Haydock) — St. Jerome has chosen to mention a particular river, instead of the general term nel, “a torrent or vale,” to intimate that Job is speaking of the state after death. — Cocytus is a branch of the Styx, a river of Arcadia, of a noxious quality, which the poets have place in hell. (Pineda) — Septuagint, “The pebbles of the torrent became sweet to him, and in his train every man shall come, and unnumbered men before him.” Alexandrian manuscript has “men of number;” the two first letters of anarithmetoi being omitted. (Haydock) — The Church reads in her office for St. Stephen, Lapides torrentis illi dulces fuerunt: ipsum sequuntur omnes animæ justæ. Many explain this passage of Job as a menace. The wicked have carried their insolence so far as to (Calmet) give orders to (Haydock) be buried with the utmost pomp: but in the other world, they shall be thrown ignominiously among the other dead. (St. Gregory, &c.) (Calmet) — They were little moved with the thought of death, as it was common to all. But what will they think of eternal misery? (Haydock)

Ver. 34. Vain. These arguments shew that your assertions are destitute of proof, and afford me no comfort. (Calmet)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Job shews that the wicked often prosper in this world, even to the end of their life: but that their judgment is in another world.

1 Then Job answered, and said:

2 Hear, I beseech you, my words, and do penance.

3 Suffer me, and I will speak; and after, if you please, laugh at my words.

4 Is my debate against man, that I should not have just reason to be troubled?

5 Hearken to me and be astonished, and lay your finger on your mouth.

6 As for me, when I remember, I am afraid, and trembling taketh hold on my flesh.

7 *Why then do the wicked live, are they advanced, and strengthened with riches?

8 Their seed continueth before them, a multitude of kinsmen, and of children’s children in their sight.

9 Their houses are secure and peaceable, and the rod of God is not upon them.

10 Their cattle have conceived, and failed not: their cow hath calved, and is not deprived of her fruit.

11 Their little ones go out like a flock, and their children dance and play.

12 They take the timbrel and the harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.

13 They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment they go down to hell.

14 Who have said to God: Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.

15 *Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what doth it profit us if we pray to him?

16 Yet because their good things are not in their hand, may the counsel of the wicked be far from me.

17 How often shall the lamp of the wicked be put out, and a deluge come upon them, and he shall distribute the sorrows of his wrath?

18 They shall be as chaff before the face of the wind, and as ashes which the whirlwind scattereth.

19 God shall lay up the sorrow of the father for his children: and when he shall repay, then shall he know.

20 His eyes shall see his own destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty.

21 For what is it to him what befalleth his house after him: and if the number of his months be diminished by one half?

22 Shall any one teach God knowledge, who judgeth those that are high?

23 One man dieth strong and hale, rich and happy.

24 His bowels are full of fat, and his bones are moistened with marrow.

25 But another dieth in bitterness of soul, without any riches:

26 And yet they shall sleep together in the dust, and worms shall cover them.

27 Surely I know your thoughts, and your unjust judgments against me.

28 For you say: Where is the house of the prince? and where are the dwelling-places of the wicked?

29 Ask any one of them that go by the way, and you shall perceive that he knoweth these same things.

30 Because the wicked man is reserved to the day of destruction, and he shall be brought to the day of wrath.

31 Who shall reprove his way to his face? and who shall repay him what he hath done?

32 He shall be brought to the graves, and shall watch in the heap of the dead.

33 He hath been acceptable to the gravel of Cocytus, and he shall draw every man after him, and there are innumerable before him.

34 How then do ye comfort me in vain, whereas your answer is shewn to be repugnant to truth?



7: Jeremias xii. 1.; Habacuc i. 13.

15: Malachias iii. 14.