Job Chapter 21  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Job 21
Job 21:1(top)
Job 21:2

“Listen, yes, listen.” Job repeats the word “listen” twice for emphasis, but the verb is in different conjugations, which is the figure of speech polyptoton (see commentary on Gen. 2:16).

“the consolation you give me.” The Hebrew is more literally, “your consolation,” but that translation makes it seem like Job is consoling his comforters, when what he is asking is that they console him by listening.

Job 21:3(top)
Job 21:4(top)
Job 21:5

“Look at me.” This could also be understood as “turn your attention to me.” The Hebrew text is a verb that is related to the word for “face” and means “to turn;” it is not a standard word for “look” or “see.” So while it is possible that the “comforters” are not paying close attention to Job and he is asking them to turn to him and take a good look at him and his situation, it is also possible that he is in effect saying, “turn your attention to me; pay attention to me.”

Job 21:6(top)
Job 21:7

“Why do the wicked keep on living.” Many extremely wicked people live long and prosperous lives and become wealthy and powerful on earth. But why do the wicked get to defy God and live at all? Why do they not die quickly and thus are removed from the earth? The answer to that question is multifaceted. It has to do with God’s allowing people to make the freewill choice to be against him; it also has to do with what God promised Cain (Gen. 4:13-15; see commentary on Gen. 4:15). Also, that so many wicked people grow powerful has to do with the fact that the Devil is a major powerbroker in the world today and works immorally and illicitly behind the scenes to elevate his people. The Devil is in control of much of what goes on in the world and gives power to people he wants to elevate. He offered power and glory to Christ, who turned him down, and the wise Christian follows the example of Christ (cp. Luke 4:5-7; 1 John 5:19).

In large part due to the Devil’s help and also acting illegally and immorally, wicked people have risen to power and been harmful to others and the earth itself since the Fall of Adam and Eve. Also, however, because they are “of this world,” wicked people tend to pay closer attention to how to get ahead in life than godly people do because godly people are more interested in pleasing God and helping others than in building any kind of personal kingdom on earth.

Wickedness has been widespread on earth since the Fall. Cain murdered Abel out of pure envy, showing that evil people are selfish and do not care about the rights or health and well-being of others (Gen. 4:3-9). God had to destroy humankind in Noah’s Flood because of wickedness on earth (Gen. 6:5-8). In the time of Job (c. 2000 BC), Job complained that wicked people lived long lives and were wealthy and powerful (Job 21:7-21). Some 1,000 years after Job that situation continued, and Asaph the psalmist complains of the same thing that Job did (Ps. 73:2-14). Then, hundreds of years later, around 600 BC, Jeremiah makes the same complaint, that the wicked live long and are prosperous (Jer. 12:1-2). Then, hundreds of years after Jeremiah, at the time of Christ, the rulers of the Jews were wealthy, powerful, and very wicked, and that included both Sadducees and Pharisees (cp. John 8:37-44). The pervasiveness of evil in all societies around the world throughout all time is the reason that the Bible tells us that every person who lives a godly life—which includes being public about one’s Christian Faith; not just trying to “be godly in private at home”—will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12). However, godly people must not give up hope or stop speaking about Jesus Christ. In spite of all difficulties, God and His people continue to do God’s work and spread God’s message and the Christian Faith continues to win converts. There is a glorious Hope laid up in the future for Christians, and many wonderful rewards for those Christians who stand strong and steadfast in the Faith.

[For more on rewards in the future, see commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:10, “good or evil.” For more on the coming kingdom of Christ, see Appendix 5: “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.” For more on how the future will unfold from this present age to the Millennial Kingdom to the Everlasting Kingdom, see commentary on Revelation 21:1.]

Job 21:8(top)
Job 21:9(top)
Job 21:10(top)
Job 21:11(top)
Job 21:12(top)
Job 21:13

“Sheol.” Sheol is the state of being dead. Contrary to what most people believe, when a person dies, they do not go to heaven or “hell,” they are “in Sheol,” that is, in the state of being dead and they are awaiting the resurrection of the dead.

[For more on Sheol, see commentary on Revelation 20:13. For more on dead people being dead and not alive in any form, see Appendix 3: “The Dead are Dead.”]

“in peace.” The Hebrew verb has the meaning “in a moment” (quickly; in an instant) and also the meaning “in peace” (in tranquility). It is likely that both meanings apply here; that Job is complaining that the wicked die in peace and quickly, without any suffering. Many people die slowly and painfully after days, months, or even years of suffering. For the REV translation, “in peace” seems the better choice because a person who is healthy then dies quickly dies in peace without suffering.

Job 21:14

“we have no desire to know your ways.” The evil people said that they do not want to know God’s ways, the true and right way. That has been the case since Cain rejected God and turned to follow the ways of the Devil and murdered his brother Abel. Evil people do not want to know God, and harden their hearts against Him (cp. Job. 21:14; 22:17; Isa. 30:11; Mic. 2:6. See commentary on Matt. 13:13).

Job 21:15(top)
Job 21:16

But behold, their prosperity is not in their hand.” This is idiomatic for their prosperity—their life, wealth, and power—is not in their control, even though in their arrogance they act as if it is.

“The counsel of the wicked is far from me.” Job knows that the wicked do not actually control their life and certainly do not control their destiny, which is destruction, so he does not listen to what they have to say.

Job 21:17

“How often is it that the lamp of the wicked is put out.” Job now responds to Bildad’s and Zophar’s assertion that wicked people do not last long. Bildad said, “the light of the wicked will be put out…The steps of his strength will be shortened” (Job 18:5, 7). Zophar asserted, “the triumphing of the wicked is short, the joy of the godless is but for a moment” (Job 20:5). Job denies their assertions and points out via rhetorical question that the lamp—the life—of the wicked is not often quickly put out, instead, as he had just said, the wicked live long and then die in peace (Job 21:7, 13). Then Job goes on to answer the assertion of people such as Bildad and Zophar who say that even if God does not kill the wicked, He will bring consequences upon the children of the wicked (Job 21:19). Job answers that assertion by pointing out that if a person sins, then God should repay the sinner, not punish his children (Job 21:19).

Job 21:18

“How often is it that they are as stubble before the wind?” Job continues to assert via a rhetorical question that the wicked do not disappear quickly from the earth like stubble or chaff, but instead live a long time and prosper. Stubble and chaff, by-products of threshing grain, do not last on the threshing floor but are blown away by very light winds.

Job 21:19

“Let him repay the sinner so that he will know it.” The Hebrew text is unclear because of its use of pronouns. It is more literally, “Let him repay him so he knows it.” The REV substitutes “the sinner” for “him” for clarity. Job is challenging his “comforters” who say that sometimes God does not punish sinners but punishes the children of sinners, but Job says that if a person sins, then God should repay that person, not his children.

Job 21:20(top)
Job 21:21

“what does he care.” The wicked cannot care for their households after they die because they are dead, but more than that, often wicked people do not care enough about their families and descendants to do what it takes to best provide for them when they die. Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good person will provide an inheritance for his children’s children,” which in today’s world means having a will and perhaps life insurance or some other way to provide for final expenses. And furthermore, to do what it takes to make sure any inheritance passes down without encumbrances or being tied up in court for years, or being so unclear that the family gets torn apart in fighting over who gets what.

“his house.” That is, his household, his descendants.

Job 21:22

“those who are on high.” This seems to refer to angels or other spirit beings.

Job 21:23(top)
Job 21:24

“moistened.” The Hebrew word is a verb, to be made wet or to be thoroughly watered. See commentary on Proverbs 3:8 for the value of wet bones.

Job 21:25(top)
Job 21:26(top)
Job 21:27(top)
Job 21:28(top)
Job 21:29(top)
Job 21:30(top)
Job 21:31(top)
Job 21:32(top)
Job 21:33(top)
Job 21:34(top)

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