Job 8:1-22

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Bildad the Shuhite (Baldad the Sauchite [LXX]) responded to the words of Job. The designation “Shuhite” may identify Bildad as a descendant of Shuah, the son of Abraham by his concubine Keturah. (8:1; Genesis 25:1, 2)

Bildad was dismissive of the expressions Job had made. He regarded the “words of [Job’s] mouth” as a “great wind” or as amounting to nothing more than air in motion. Therefore, he raised the rhetorical question, “How long will you say these things?” (8:2)

Bildad implied that Job had accused God of perverting what is just and right. He is quoted as asking Job, “Does God pervert judgment [or justice], and does the Almighty pervert righteousness [what is right]?” According to the rendering of the Septuagint, the second part of the question is, “Or will the one producing [or doing] all things pervert righteousness?” (8:3)

Bildad insinuated that the reason Job’s sons had perished was because of their having sinned against God. The Almighty “sent them into the hand of their transgression.” This signified that they were delivered up to the consequences of their serious guilt, coming into the “hand” or power of the transgression from the standpoint of the punishment that was inseparably linked to wrongdoing. (8:4)

Bildad indicated that the circumstances would change for Job if he were to look to or seek God and “supplicate the Almighty,” entreating him to be shown mercy. The Septuagint rendering could be understood as admonition for Job to “rise early” to pray to the “Lord Almighty” or eagerly to seek him to make his approach in prayer. (8:5)

Bildad contended that, if Job was “pure” or undefiled from moral corruption and “upright,” just, “true” (LXX), genuine, or honest, God would most certainly “rouse himself for [him]” or come to his aid. According to the Septuagint, God would “hear” or give attention to Job’s supplication. The Almighty would “restore” to Job a “habitation of righteousness.” This could mean that Job would be restored to the place that was rightfully his or that he would be restored to the place where he could live in an upright manner.(8:6)

Bildad claimed that, though Job’s “beginning” (“first things” [LXX]) or his past may have been small or insignificant, the “latter part” (“last things” [LXX]) would “grow exceedingly” or his future would be distinguished by increasing prosperity. According to the Septuagint, the “last things” would be “unspeakably many.” As indicated in verse 5, this would only be if Job were to seek God and to pray to him. (8:7)

Bildad implied that his comments were based on what had long ago been established as true. Therefore, he urged Job to inquire of the “former generation” (to consider the fund of knowledge that had come to the then-present generation from the ancients) and to consider or heed (literally, “establish” or “make firm”) what the “fathers” or ancestors had found to be true (literally, the “searched-out thing”). The Septuagint rendering could be understood to mean that Job was to investigate the things the “generation of the fathers” or ancestors had come to know. (8:8)

As far as the then-present generation was concerned, Bildad said, “For we [are of] yesterday,” or just recent arrivals with limited experience and knowledge, “and know nothing.” His reference to “our days [our life (LXX)] on earth” being like a “shadow” probably means that the time on earth is very brief like a shadow that quickly disappears and, therefore, is insufficient for any individual to come to know on his own the vast treasure of wisdom that the ancients had collectively acquired and that had been handed down to the then-existing generation. (8:9)

Bildad’s rhetorical question indicated that, if Job were to consult the wisdom of the ancients as it had been handed down to the then-existing generation, they would teach him and would “say” to him and, “from their heart,” express “words.” Thus he would learn what they had come to know and what had been stored in “their heart” or mind or had become like a deposit in their inmost selves. (8:10)

Bildad raised rhetorical questions for which the unmistakable answer is, No. “Can papyrus flourish in [an area where there is] no marsh? Can a reed grow in [an area where there is] no water?” The point of the questions may be that, just as plants need the right environment for growth, humans can by no means prosper if they are not living uprightly and, therefore, do not have God’s blessing. (8:11)

While still in its “freshness” (“on the root” [LXX], perhaps, newly sprouted), tender, or green and of limited height, the reed would not be useful and so would not be “plucked up” (“harvested” [LXX]). If the water were to dry up, the reed would wither before any other plant (any plant that is less dependent on an abundant supply of water). The Septuagint rendering could be understood to mean that, when supplied with water (literally, “before the drinking”), vegetation will not wither. (8:12)

Just as reeds dry up quickly without water, so, maintained Bildad, are the paths of “all those forgetting God.” Their paths or the ways in which they conduct themselves as persons who disregard what is divinely approved come to a disastrous end like reeds that wither when the water supply dries up. “The hope of the impious,” profane, or godless man “will perish.” According to the view of Bildad, this was because the godless one’s life ended in calamity, with nothing good for which to hope. (8:13)

In the next verse of the Hebrew text, the second word is the verb yaqóht. The verb yaqóht is commonly regarded as derived from the root qut, meaning “loathe.” If this is correct, the Hebrew text possibly could mean that the “confidence” of the godless man is to be loathed, for it will prove to be false or a mere delusion. His “hope” is a “spider’s house” or web — something that is fragile or tenuous. It is a hope that will not be fulfilled, but, like a spider’s web that can easily be destroyed, it will come to disappointment. According to the Septuagint, Bildad claimed that the “house” of the impious or godless man “will be uninhabited” and his “tent” or dwelling will prove to be like a “spider’s web,” fragile and readily destroyed. (8:14)

If the “house” mentioned in verse 14 is the same as the “house” referred to in this verse, the reference would be to a spider’s web. It would not stand if leaned against and would not remain if taken hold of. The Septuagint rendering identifies the “house” as that of the impious one. “If he shores up his house, it will by no means stand, and [if] he takes hold of it, it will by no means remain.” (8:15; see the Notes section.)

In the words that follow, Bildad likened the godless man to a plant that initially flourishes and then perishes. “Before” or under the “sun,” he is like a “fresh” “moist” (LXX) or green plant, of which the “shoot” goes forth over the garden. This suggests that his offspring become numerous. (8:16; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

The impious one appears to be secure like a plant that has its roots entwined around a “heap” (probably a “pile of stones” [as suggested by the reference to a “house of stones” that follows]). “He sees a house of stones.” This could mean that the godless man is like a plant rooted among rocks and, therefore, would be able to see a “house of stones” as his dwelling place. (8:17; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

Bildad portrayed the impious man under the figure of a plant that is “swallowed up,” destroyed, or pulled up from the place where it was growing among rocks. That place is represented as denying that it had ever seen the plant. Accordingly, the godless man would be annihilated, obliterating all remembrance of him. (8:18; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

Bildad is quoted as applying his words. “This [is] the exultation of his way, and others will sprout from the dust.” The way the godless man pursued appeared to prosper at the start and provided a basis for him to exult or to be joyful. That way, however, proved to be a way to annihilation. From the place where the impious one had formerly been, others would appear on the scene like plants sprouting up from the ground. The Septuagint rendering is explicit in indicating that what had been previously described is the “overthrow of the impious one.” “But from the earth” or ground, “something else will sprout.” The place where the lawless man was would not remain vacated. (8:19)

Bildad had maintained that godless persons are the ones who suffer and that the upright are exempt from the kind of affliction that befalls the impious ones. He said to Job, “Look! God will not reject the complete one” or the man of integrity (the “innocent one” or blameless one [LXX]), and “he will not take hold of the hand of evildoers.” In the Septuagint, two words for “not” appear in connection with the verb for “reject,” thus indicating that God would by no means reject the blameless one. Bildad’s contention was that the “hand” or power of godless persons would fail, for God would neither strengthen nor support it. According to the Septuagint rendering, God would not accept a “gift” or an offering from the godless one and respond favorably to him. (8:20)

Bildad implied that, if Job changed his ways and did what was right, God would fill his “mouth with laughter” and his “lips with shouting” (acknowledgment, confession, or thanksgiving [LXX]). Job would then have a life of happiness, with many occasions for laughter and joyous outcries. In the Septuagint, the words are not applied to Job but to “true,” genuine, or sincere persons. (8:21)

Bildad assured Job that his situation would improve if he were to make the needed changes. Persons who hated him would be “clothed with shame.” This could be because of again seeing Job prosper while they were experiencing adversity and being disgraced. As far as the “tent” or dwelling place of the wicked was concerned, it would be no more. This could mean that Job would not be affected by their plotting or their violent actions. According to the Septuagint, the enemies are the enemies of the true, genuine, or sincere persons, and the “way of life” or the “dwelling” of the godless ones will cease to be. (8:22)

Notes

In verse 15, the Septuagint rendering “by no means” serves to express the emphatic sense of the two Greek words for “not.”

The rendering of the first part of verse 16 in the Septuagint basically corresponds to the wording of the Hebrew text (“for he is moist under the sun”). The concluding part of the verse says that, “from his decayed matter” (ek saprías autou), a “shoot will go forth.” One conjecture is that the reading saprías is a scribal error and that the original reading may have been prasiás, meaning “garden plot.” If the extant rendering of the Septuagint is original, the thought could be that the godless man is like decaying matter and produces corrupt offspring.

The Septuagint rendering of verse 17 differs somewhat from the wording of the Hebrew text. “Upon a gathering of stones, he sleeps, and he will live in the midst of pebbles.” The Greek word for “sleep” (koimáo) may here mean “lodge.” Possibly the thought is that the godless man is like a plant that has its place on a pile of stones and so lives or grows in the midst of pebbles.

In verse 18, the Septuagint reads, “If it swallows him, the place will deny him. You have not seen such things.” This could suggest that the impious man is like a plant that is “swallowed” or seems to disappear as it is withering in its place. After disappearing from the place, it would be as if it never had been there. Bildad may be represented as saying that Job had never seen or recognized these things as occurring.