Job 18:1-21

Submitted by admin on Fri, 2015-01-09 18:01.

Posted in | printer-friendly version »

Bildad the Shuhite (Baldad the Sauchite [LXX]) replied to what Job had said. His being called a “Shuhite” may indicate that he was a descendant of Shua, the son of Abraham by his concubine Keturah. (18:1; Genesis 25:1, 2)

Bildad raised a rhetorical question. “Until when [or how long] will you set snares for words?” In Hebrew, the verbs in this verse (“you set” and “you consider,” understand, or discern) are plural. Possibly the use of the plural implied that Job, by reason of what he had said, was one of the godless men and so could be addressed as just one of them instead of as an individual. The expression about setting “snares for words” could refer to putting a restraint on words. Translators have variously rendered the question. “How soon will you bridle your tongue?” (REB) “When will you put an end to words?” (NAB) “How long will you talk?” (CEV) In the Septuagint, the verbs are singular and the question is, “How long until you cease [speaking]?” (18:2; for another interpretation of the plural verbs, see the Notes section.)

It appears that Bildad asked Job to consider, think, or show some discernment, not continuing to talk in a godless or senseless manner. He seems to have intended this as a condition for continuing the discussion, concluding with the words, “Afterward we will speak.” The Septuagint reads, “Refrain, that we also these things [autoí] may address.” The pronoun autoí could apply to the things Job had said and concerning which Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar could speak after Job had stopped talking. (18:2)

Job had previously told Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar to make inquiry of the animals, the winged creatures, the fish of the sea, and they would tell them what had come about by the “hand” or power of YHWH. (12:7-9) Seemingly, with apparent reference to this, Bildad objected that Job had reckoned him along with Eliphaz and Zophar as “beasts” or animals. In the Septuagint, the thought is expressed differently. “Why have we been silent before you as if we were quadrupeds” (animals that cannot speak)? (18:3)

The concluding phrase in the Hebrew text contains a form of the verb tamáh. This verb has been linked either to tamé’ (to be unclean) or to the Aramaic tammém (to be stopped up, clogged in one’s reasoning, or stupid). Therefore, Bildad may either be represented as asking whether Job considered him and his companions as “unclean” (like beasts) or lacking in good sense. (18:3)

Bildad portrayed Job as “tearing himself in his anger,” probably meaning that his fury was directed against God because of what had happened to him. Then Bildad raised the rhetorical question, “Will the earth be forsaken for your sake, and a rock be removed from its place?” The thought appears to be that the universe did not revolve around Job. Regardless of how great his anger might be, the order in the natural world and, by implication, the moral order and what God may do or permit would not be changed for his sake. (18:4; regarding the Septuagint rendering, see the Notes section.)

According to Bildad, the consequences for wrongdoing were inescapable. The “light” of the “wicked” (“impious” [LXX]) “will be extinguished, and the flame of his fire will not shine.” Whatever prosperity and cheerfulness (comparable to light that dispels gloom) the wicked may experience will come to an end, and nothing resembling the light from a flame will shine in their case. The Septuagint says that “their flame will not go up.” (18:5)

Bildad represented the life of the wicked man as being one of perpetual darkness or gloom, with nothing to brighten his days. In the wicked one’s tent or dwelling, “light” will be “dark,” and the light of “his lamp above him will be extinguished.” (18:6)

Regarding the wicked or godless man, Bildad said that his “strong steps” (literally, “steps of vigor”) would be “cramped” or “restricted.” This suggests that his power would fail him as if the strength of his legs were reduced to the point of preventing his forward movement. The Septuagint rendering departs significantly from the extant Hebrew text. “Least ones” or insignificant ones are represented as pursing the possessions of the godless man. Their success in doing so appears to be implied. (18:7)

As far as any “counsel,” “plan” or “scheme” is concerned, it would fail and cause the overthrow or downfall of the lawless man. A similar thought is expressed in the Septuagint. “May his counsel cause him to stumble.” (18:7)

Bildad spoke of the fate of a wicked or godless man in terms of what happens to an animal that is trapped. He is cast into a snare “by his feet,” and “he walks on network” or on a net as might be spread over a pit. The Septuagint rendering may be translated. “But his foot has been cast into a trap. May he be ensnared in a net.” (18:8)

Bildad continued his description about the fate of the lawless man. A “trap” will snatch him “by the heel,” and a “snare” will hold him fast. (18:9; regarding the Septuagint rendering, see the Notes section.)

Like an animal that does not see the trap in its path and is ensnared, the godless man will be caught as by a concealed rope in the ground and as by the trap that lies in his path. In the third century CE, Origen added similar words from the Greek text of Theodotion, marking the addition accordingly. The Septuagint available to him did not contain the words of this verse. (18:10)

Bildad described the situation of the lawless man as being one of constant fear of calamity. All around him, terrors frighten him and pursue him “at his feet” or his heels. The Septuagint rendering expresses the thought somewhat differently. “May pains from round about destroy him, and may many come around his feet with intense hunger,” possibly meaning like hungry beasts of prey ready for the kill. (18:11)

According to Bildad, the godless man’s strength would be as if “hungry,” indicating that it would fail. “Calamity” would be ready “for his stumbling.” This suggests that the corrupt man’s fall would not have any recovery in prospect. The Septuagint rendering is, “But an unprecedented downfall is prepared for him.” (18:12)

The calamity that befalls the lawless man will consume parts of “his skin.” Likewise the “firstborn of death” will consume his limbs. The expression “firstborn of death” probably designates the disease that leads to certain death. In the Septuagint, the thought expressed differs from the extant Hebrew text. “May the toes of his feet be devoured, but death will consume his beautiful things [possibly meaning everything that contributed to his former splendor].” (18:13)

“His confidence,” or everything in which the godless man trusted for his well-being and security, “will be torn from his tent” or dwelling, and he will be made to march to the “king of terrors” (probably a designation for “death” personified). Other interpretations of the Hebrew text are found in translations. “He is plucked from the safety of his home, and death’s terrors escort him to their king.” (REB) “He will be torn from the shelter of his tent, and you will drag him to the King of Terrors.” (NJB) “He is torn from the security of his tent and marched off to the king of terrors.” (NIV) The Septuagint rendering is, “But may healing be torn from his habitation, and may distress seize him by royal decision.” These words suggest that there be no recovery for the lawless man, and that a royal judgment against him bring him to a distressing end. (18:14)

“Something not his” or not belonging to the lawless man would “dwell in his tent.” The reference to “sulfur” in the next phrase (“sulfur will be scattered upon his habitation”) may indicate that a destructive agent is meant — something that would bring ruin to the abode of the corrupt man. (18:15; see the Notes section.)

Bildad indicated that absolutely nothing from the godless man would remain. He would have no descendants. Apparently likening the corrupt man to a tree, Bildad said that “his roots” beneath him “will dry up,” and his “branch” above “will wither.” (18:16; see the Notes section.)

Bildad indicated that not a trace of the lawless man would remain. Any memory of him “will perish from the earth,” and he will have “no name in the street.” All evidence of his having existed will be obliterated. (18:17; see the Notes section.)

Bildad portrayed the reversals the lawless man would experience to his being shoved “from light” (seeming well-being, prosperity, and security) “into darkness” (calamity and gloom) and driven out of the land. The Septuagint rendering is shorter than the extant Hebrew text. “May he [God] shove him from light into darkness.” (18:18)

“Among his people,” the godless man would have “no offspring and no descendants.” His entire family line would come to an end, with not a single survivor in his former dwelling places. According to the Septuagint, he would not be known “among his people.” All knowledge about him would be obliterated as if he had never existed. In the land “under heaven,” his “house” would not be preserved, but others would live in what formerly belonged to him. (18:19)

The end of the lawless man would cause shuddering among people everywhere. “At his day,” the time when no trace of him or any link to him would remain, people of the west (literally, those who come after) would be appalled, and horror would seize those of the east (literally, the former or those who come before). (18:20; see the Notes section.)

Concluding his comments about the final outcome for a corrupt man, Bildad said, “These [are] the dwellings of the unjust man, and this [is] the place of the one who does not know God.” With these words, Bildad implied that what had befallen Job proved that he was a man who had been guilty of injustice and oppression and who did not know God or had no relationship to him as a man whom he approved. (18:21; see the Notes section.)


Another interpretation for the plural verbs in verse 2 would be to consider the words of Bildad to be directed to Eliphaz and Zophar. “What prevents you others from saying something? Think — for it is our turn to speak!” (NJB) This meaning, however, does not have the support of the Septuagint rendering.

In verse 4, the Septuagint rendering differs from the wording of the extant Hebrew text. “Anger has used you,” which could mean that anger had gotten the best of Job and consumed him. “What then? If you die, will [the land] under heaven be uninhabited, or mountains be overthrown from [their] foundations?”

In verse 9, the Septuagint available to Origen in the third century CE only had the words, “And may snares come upon him.” He supplied the remainder of the text from the version of Theodotion and marked it accordingly. “He will strengthen those thirsting after him.” This could mean that God is the one who would strengthen those yearning for him as thirsty ones would long for water. Another meaning could be that “those thirsting” are “against him” or against the godless one and would be thirsting or longing for his destruction.

A number of translators have rendered the initial phrase of verse 15 according to an emendation based on Ugaritic. “Fire settles on his tent.” (REB) “Fire resides in his tent.” (NIV) This verse was missing from the Septuagint available to Origen in the third century CE. He used the words from the version of Theodotion and marked his addition accordingly. The added Greek text reads, “He [or it (possibly meaning a destructive agent)] will encamp in his tent in his night. His beautiful things will be oversown with sulfur.” This rendering does not support an emendation of the Hebrew text based on Ugaritic, and the first phrase somewhat resembles the wording of the New Jerusalem Bible. “You can live in his tent, since it is no longer his.”

For the wording of verse 16, Origen used the version of Theodotion because he did not find it in the Septuagint available to him. The Greek words that Origen marked as having been added do not depart significantly from the reading of the extant Hebrew text. “Beneath, his roots will be dried up; and above, his harvest will fall.” Perhaps this refers to the dropping of the fruit before it matures.

The Septuagint rendering of verse 17 may be translated to read, “May remembrance of him be destroyed from the earth.” This is followed by words from the version of Theodotion that Origen did not find in the Septuagint available to him in the third century CE. The words that Origen marked (as contained in Rahlfs’ printed text) may be literally rendered “and there exists a name to him upon the face outside.” This could mean that the godless man would only have a name as an outcast.

In verse 20, the Septuagint rendering reflects a literal reading of the Hebrew text. “The last ones groaned for him, but the first ones had wonder” or were astonished.

Verse 21 in the Septuagint is worded to apply to unjust persons generally. “These are the houses of the unjust ones and the place of those who do not know the Lord.”