Job 14:1-14 NOTES
Job 14 - EW Commentary-Job Considers the Grave and the Afterlife
A. Frail man and a mighty God.
1. (Job 14:1-2) Job muses on the frailty of man.
1 "Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil. 2 Like a flower he comes out and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.
a. Few of days and full of trouble: Having mentioned the idea of the frailty of men in general and his own frailty in particular, Job here expands on the idea. He considers that the days of man on this earth are short and often full of trouble.
b. He flees like a shadow and does not continue: Considering the life of man - fleeting and frail - Job also speculated on what happened to man after this fading, shadow-like life; considering that perhaps it does not continue.
i. "Job was not giving a general polemic against resurrection. On the contrary, he was saying that if God wanted to, he could hide Job in Sheol till his anger passed and then raise him (Job 14:13)." (Smick)
2. (Job 14:3-6) Job's prayer: "Consider how frail man is and have mercy on him."
3 You also open Your eyes on him And bring him into judgment with Yourself. 4 Who can make the clean out of the unclean? No one! 5 Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with You; And You have set his limits so that he cannot pass. 6 Look away from him so that he may rest, Until he fulfills his day like a hired worker.
a. Do You open Your eyes on such a one: Job here applied his previous thoughts on the fleeting and frail nature of humanity to prayer over his own situation. "God, You see that I am the rotting one; the moth-eaten garment; the fading flower and the fleeing shadow. Look upon me in mercy!"
b. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one: Job despairs that perhaps God demands something of him that he is unable to be or do. If God demands perfect cleanness before He will relieve Job's affliction, then Job knew he could never meet that standard.
i. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean: "I do not say, I am clean, as Zophar pretendeth; but confess that I am a very unclean creature, and therefore liable to thy justice, if thou wilt deal rigorously with me; but remember that this is not my peculiar case, but the common lot of every man." (Poole)
c. You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass. Look away from him that he may rest: Job continued to paint the picture of God fencing man in, restricting his movements. Under such an idea, it would be better if God would just look away so the afflicted one could rest.
B. Job's meditation of what lies beyond this life.
1. (Job 14:7-12) Job considers the idea that man does not live beyond the grave.
7 "For there is hope for a tree, When it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And its shoots will not [f]fail. 8 Though its roots grow old in the ground, And its stump dies in the dry soil, 9 At the scent of water it will flourish And produce sprigs like a plant. 10 But a man dies and lies prostrate. A person passes away, and where is he? 11 As water evaporates from the sea, And a river becomes parched and dried up, 12 So a man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens no longer exist, He will not awake nor be woken from [i]his sleep.
a. There is hope for a tree: Job here observed that there is a sort of resurrection in the world of trees and plants; new life can sprout out of an old stump.
b. But a man dies and is laid away: As far as Job could see, death ends the existence of man, and after death a man simply disappears (and where is he?) As Job thought about it, it all seemed so unfair. Why should a tree have a better hope of resurrection than a man?
c. So man lies down and does not rise... They will not awake nor be roused from their sleep: We come to another place in the Book of Job reflecting the shadowy and uncertain understanding of the afterlife. We can simply say that Job was wrong in his understanding of the afterlife.
i. We can explain Job's lack of knowledge of the afterlife by understanding the principle of 2 Timothy 2:10: that Jesus Christ brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. The understanding of immortality was at best cloudy in the Old Testament, but is much clearer in the New Testament. For example, we can say that Jesus knew fully what He was talking about when He described hell and judgment (such as in Matthew 25:41-46). We therefore rely on the New Testament for our understanding of the afterlife, much more than the Old.
ii. We also understand that this does not in any way take away from the truth of the Bible and the Book of Job. What is true is that Job actually said this and actually believed it; the truth of the statement itself must be evaluated according to the rest of the Bible.
iii. Later, God challenged and corrected Job's presumptuous assertions regarding the afterlife, reminding Job that he did not in fact know what life after death was like (Job 38:2 and 38:17).
2. (Job 14:13-14) Job longs for the grave and hopes for something beyond.
13 "Oh that You would hide me in Sheol, That You would conceal me until Your wrath returns to You, That You would set a limit for me and remember me! 14 If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait Until my relief comes.
a. Oh, that You would hide me in the grave (Sheol): Job didn't know much about the condition of man after death, but he supposed - perhaps hoped - that it was better than his current misery. Yet Job's general uncertainty is reflected in his question, "If a man dies, shall he live again?"
i. "It was a tremendous question: but let us remind ourselves that there is no answer to it, save that which came to men through Jesus Christ and His Gospel. As Paul said, it is He 'Who brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel' (2 Timothy 1:10). The question of Job was answered by Jesus, and that so completely as to leave no room for doubt." (Morgan)
ii. "We read of that godly and learned Scotch divine, Mr. John Knox, that a little before his death he got up out of his bed, and being asked by his friends, why, being so sick, he would offer to rise, and not rather take his rest? He answered, that he had all the last night been taken up on the meditation of the resurrection, and that he would now go up into the pulpit, that he might impart to others the comforts which thereby himself had received. And surely if he had been able to have done as he desired, I know not what text fitter for his purpose he could have taken, than these words of Job, 'If a man die, shall he live again?'" (Trapp)
b. All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes: Job looked for the change he hoped death to bring, that at least it would relieve him from his present agony.
i. "Even if God kills him (before his vindication?) he will wait in hope. His readiness to go down into death in faith transforms his ideas of Sheol... It is now seen as a temporary hiding place... It is another period of contracted service. Even if silent now, God will be heard then." (Andersen)
ii. "Three glimpses of this glorious change were seen: 1. In Moses' face. 2. In Christ's transfiguration. 3. In Stephen's countenance when he stood before the council. Such a change as this is well worth waiting for."
iii. We also wait for our change to come.
· We shall be changed into immortality at the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:50-53).
· When we see Him, we will be like Him (1 John 3:2).
· Our bodies will be gloriously transformed (Philippians 3:21).
· David was confident he would be changed into God's likeness (Psalm 17:15).
iv. At the same time, there are some things that won't change for the believer when they go to heaven.
· A Christian's purpose and priority of life does not change.
· A Christian's identity does not change.
· A Christian's companions will not change very much.
Job 14 Commentary - Job continues his prayer
Job thinks that he will die soon
v1 I am just an ordinary man. My life is short. And my troubles are constant.
v2 I am like a flower that will soon die. Or, like a shadow that cannot last. v3 But, God, you watch me. And you are my judge. v4 I am not holy. So I cannot make myself holy. v5 You have decided the length of my life. I cannot live longer. v6 So, do not watch me! Let me be calm until my time on earth ends.
This is a wonderful chapter. In this chapter, Job starts to have a new hope for his future.
Our lives on earth are short. Job said that we are like flowers. Some flowers are very beautiful. But they may last only for a few hours. Or, Job said that we are like shadows. A shadow has a clear shape. And it moves like a person. You could almost think that your shadow was alive. But your shadow disappears in a moment.
So our lives may be beautiful, like the flowers. And they may be active, like shadows. But we shall soon be dead.
God is our judge. He knows all our deeds. And we are not holy. We do many wrong things. Our good deeds cannot make us holy. We deserve God's punishment. Job did not yet realise that God loves us. Or, that God would send Jesus to die for us.
God decides how long we shall live. Job thought that he would die soon. But in fact, God had a different plan for Job (Job 42:16-17).
Job asks whether a dead man can live again
v7 A tree is better than a man. If someone cuts down a tree, the tree grows again. Its new branches will grow. v8 Its roots may be old. And the tree may seem dead. v9 But when rain starts to fall, new leaves appear. Then, the tree grows like a plant in a garden.
v10 But a man becomes weak and he dies. He breathes for the last time. Then he is dead.
v11 A man is like a lake that becomes dry. Or, like a river without water.
v12 The man's body lies in its grave. While heaven remains, a dead man will not wake from sleep.
v13 God, I wish that you would hide me. Bury me in my grave! But when you are not angry with me, select a date. And then, remember me! v14 A man who dies cannot live again. But I will wait until that date, when you will give me relief. v15 Then you will call me. And I will answer you. You will desire me, because you made me. v16 Although you will watch me, you will not record my evil actions. v17 You will remove my evil actions. You will lay my evil actions aside, like something in a bag.
When Job thought about flowers and shadows (verse 2), he felt hopeless. But then Job remembered that God also created the trees. And trees seemed mysterious to Job.
You can cut down a tree. Its branches become mere wood. And the tree has no leaves. The tree many seem dead for many months. But that tree can grow again. You might expect such a tree to be very weak. But in fact, the new branches may be very strong.
The thought about the tree gave new hope to Job (verses 13-17).
At first, the tree did not seem like a man to Job. Job thought about the death of a man's body. That body simply returns to the earth. Job thought that such a body could never become alive again. Perhaps Job did not remember that God created man from the dust (Genesis 2:7). The Bible teaches that even our dead bodies will live again (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
Then Job thought about sleep. A person who sleeps will wake. A dead body does not wake. But Job wished that his dead body would wake. And this thought gave him hope that he would meet God.
Job thought that God caused his troubles. So, Job thought that God was angry. In fact, God was not angry with Job. God was pleased with Job. And God did not cause Job's troubles. The devil caused Job's troubles.
The Bible teaches that our spirits do not sleep after death. When we die, our spirits go to heaven or to hell. And this happens immediately (Luke 23:43). In heaven or hell, we are conscious (Luke 16:22-26).
But Job thought that, perhaps, God would allow him to sleep. And he thought that, in the future, God would meet with Job. The Bible says that God will change us in the future (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Then our bodies will not be like the bodies that we have now (1 Corinthians 15:35-44). In that day, Job could speak with God (verse 15). Paul also taught this (1 Corinthians 13:12). And in that day, God would forgive Job's evil deeds (verse 17). This idea was also right. When we confess our evil deeds to God, he forgives us because of Jesus.
This paragraph contains many ideas that Job did not really understand. But Job said these things because God showed him what to say (1 Peter 1:20-21).
The end of a man
v18 But even a mountain can fall. Even a rock can move. v19 And a river can carry stones and soil away. So men have no hope. v20 God overcomes a man. God sends that man away. Even the man's face changes. v21 That man does not know if his sons receive honour. And that man does not know if his sons suffer. v22 Such a man feels only his own pain. And only that man's spirit will know his despair.
Job 14 Commentary
Verses 1-22: The Book of Job is filled with references to the brevity of man's life. This is especially true of chapter 14. Man "is of few days" (verse 1), "Like a flower" (verse 2), and so on. His viewpoint is very similar to the Preacher in Ecclesiastes.
(In verses 1-12), Job embraced the fact of God's control over the issues of this life, but challenged their meaning. Life is short (verses 1-2), all are sinners (verse 4), and days are limited (verse 5), then comes death (verses 7-12). In light of this, Job asked God for a little grace instead of such intense judgment (verse 3), and a little rest from all the pain (verse 6), and suggested that a tree has more hope than he did (verse 7).
Job 14:1 "Man [that is] born of a woman [is] of few days, and full of trouble."
In the last verse of chapter 13, Job thought of himself as one of the race of men, and now he speaks of the characteristics of this race.
"Born of a woman": The offspring of one herself weak and doomed to sorrow (Genesis 3:16), must also be weak and doomed to trouble (compare Job 15:14; 25:4).
It appears to me, that Job was speaking of the flesh of man in this Scripture. The natural man is born of a woman. Most all of the natural men of our day, can look to about seventy years of life. Some, by great strength, might even live to be a hundred. Even if a man lived to be a hundred, his days would be few. The flesh of man is not made to live forever. The body wears out from much age, and finally gives away. Life on this earth is filled with trials and tribulation. This was the thing that Job was relating here.
Job 14:2 "He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not."
Out of his mother's womb (Job 1:21).
"Like a flower": Which quickly grows up and makes a fair show, but soon withers, or is cut down.
"As a shadow": Which being made by the sun, follows its motions, and is in perpetual movement, until at last it vanishes and disappears.
A flower blooms in the springtime, and is cut down in the fall. Eastern flowers usually last but one day, and they are gone. Oh, what a brief life. Shadows do not last very long either. They change constantly, and then are gone when the sun goes down.
Job 14:3 "And dost thou open thine eyes upon such a one, and bringest me into judgment with thee?"
Either to take thought or care about him. Or rather, to observe all his ways, that you may find cause of punishment. He is not a fit match for thee. It is below thee to contend with him, and to use thy infinite wisdom and power to crush him. This seems best to suit with the scope and context.
"Bringest me into judgment with thee": I.e. plead with me by thy judgments, and thereby, in a manner, forces me to plead with thee, without granting me those two necessary and favorable conditions, expressed in (Job 13:20-21).
Why would God bother with such short lived, mortal man? It seemed amazing to Job that God would choose one man out of all humanity to judge. Job was aware that something was different about his circumstance compared to other men, but he had not decided why this was so.
Job 14:4 "Who can bring a clean [thing] out of an unclean? Not one."
How can man be clean that is born of woman, who is unclean? This question is reiterated by Bildad (Job 25:4). We ought perhaps, rather to render: "Oh, that the clean could come forth from the unclean! But none can."
Men are born in sin. Perhaps, Job was speaking of the uselessness of trying to become righteous, after beginning in sin.
Job 14:5 "Seeing his days [are] determined, the number of his months [are] with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;"
Job here returns to the consideration of the shortness of man's life. "His days are determined;" i.e. they are a limited period, known to and fixed beforehand by God. They are not like God's days, which "endure throughout all generations" (Psalm 102:24). The number of his months are with thee. "With thee" means "known to thee", "laid up in thy counsels." Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass. "His bounds" are "the limit of his lifetime." The three clauses are redundant. One idea pervades them all.
The number of days and years of man's life is only known of God. He has our days numbered. Not everyone lives to adulthood, and certainly, not all live to be seventy years old. Only God knows the length of your life upon this earth. God lives in one eternal day. Our lives do not end when our flesh dies. Our spiritual bodies will rise out of the flesh bodies when the flesh dies.
Job 14:6 "Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as a hireling, his day."
Withdraw thine afflicting hand from him.
"That he may rest": That he may have some present comfort and ease. Or, and let it cease, i.e., the affliction, which is sufficiently implied. Others: And let him cease, i.e., to live, or take away my life. But that seems not to agree with the following clause of this verse, nor with the succeeding verses.
"Till he shall accomplish, as a hireling, his day": Give him some respite till he finish his course, and come to the period of his life which thou hast allotted to him. As a man appoints a set time to a mercenary servant.
Job was asking God to give rest to the weary body that was enduring until it died. This turning from him was speaking of a pause in constantly searching man out. Job was speaking of himself.
Job 14:7 "For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease."
But man, though a far nobler creature, is in a much worse condition, and when once he loses this present and worldly life, he never recovers it. Therefore, show some pity to him, and give him some comfort while he lives.
A tree can spring up from its roots, even after it is cut down. Sometimes, the tree that comes up from the root, will be even stronger than the tree that was cut down.
Job 14:8 "Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground;"
Man may claim a peaceful life, since, when separated from it by death, he never returns to it. This does not deny a future life, but a return to the present condition of life. Job plainly hopes for a future state (Job 7:2; 14:13). Still, it is but a vague and trembling hope, not assurance; excepting the one bright glimpse (in Job 19:25). The Gospel revelation was needed to change fears, hopes, and glimpses into clear and definite certainties.
Job 14:9 "[Yet] through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant."
As soon as it smells it, or perceives it, is sensible of it, or partakes of its efficacy. Denoting both how speedily, and how easily, at once as it were, it buds forth through the virtue either of rain water that descends upon it, or river water by which it is planted, or by any means conveyed unto it. Particularly this is true of the willow, which delights in watery places; and, when it is in the circumstances before described, will by the benefit of water bud out again, even when its stock has been seemingly dead.
"And bring forth boughs like a plant": As if it was a new plant, or just planted. So the Vulgate Latin version, as "when it was first planted"; or as a plant that sends forth many branches. The design of this simile is to show that man's case is worse than that of trees, which when cut down sprout out again, and are in the place where they were before. But man, when he is cut down by death, rises up no more in the same place. He is seen no more in it, and the place that knew him knows him no more. Where he falls he lies until the general resurrection.
This is speaking of the roots appearing to be dead, and coming back to life, when water gets to the roots.
Job 14:10 "But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where [is] he?"
His body by degrees rotting away; or is cut off, as this word is used (Exodus 17:13; Isa. 14:12).
"Where is he?" I.e. he is nowhere; or he is not, to wit, in this world, as that phrase is commonly used (see Job 3:16; 7:8, 21).
Job was speaking of the flesh of man, as if it was what man really was. The flesh of man does die, and does not live again. The flesh which was made of dust returns to the dust of the earth. The ghost that man gives up, is the spirit that rises from that body to live either in heaven or hell.
Job 14:11 "[As] the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:"
The words may be rendered either without the "as", and denote dissimilitude. And the sense is, that the waters go from the sea and return again, as with the tide.
"And the flood decayeth and drieth up": And yet is supplied again with water: "but man lieth down, and riseth not again" (Job 14:12). Or else with the "as", and express likeness; as the waters when they fail from the sea, or get out of lakes, and into another channel, never return more. And as a flood, occasioned by the waters of a river overflowing its banks, never return into it any more. So man, when he dies, never returns to this world any more.
The flood always goes away and leaves the clay of the earth. The river that dries up does the same. This was Job saying that he had dried up, and was returning to the clay of the earth.
Job 14:12 "So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens [be] no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep."
Or "and", or "but man lieth down"; in the grave when he dies, as on a bed, and takes his rest from all his labors, toil and troubles, and lies asleep, and continues so till the resurrection morning.
And riseth not": From off his bed, or comes not out of his grave into this world, to the place where he was, and to be engaged in the affairs of life as he was before, and never by his own power. And whenever he will rise, it will be by the power of God, and this not till the last day, when Christ shall appear in person to judge the world.
Notice, "till the heavens be no more". The body of man lies in the grave decaying away to return to the dust it came from. Job was not denying that there would be a resurrection, but was speaking of the immediate death awaiting him.
(In verses 13-17), Job asked to die and remain in the grave until God's anger was over, then be raised to life again when God called him back (verses 13-15). If he were dead, God wouldn't be watching every step, counting every sin (verse 16); it would all be hidden (verse 17). Here was the hope of resurrection for those who trusted God. Job had hope that if he died, he would live again (verse 14).
Verses 13-14: Sheol is the Old Testament term for the place of the departed dead. Job longs for death as a release from the trials of earth. His question, "If a man die, shall he live again?" is answered (in 19:25-26; see the note on 19:23-27). There are several questions raised in this book. They all express man's desire to know who he is, why he was born, and where he is going.
Job 14:13 "O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!"
In some secret and safe place, under the shadow of thy wings and favor, that I may have some support and comfort from thee.
"Until thy wrath be past": While I am oppressed with such grievous and various calamities; which he calls God's wrath. Because they were, or seemed to be, the effects of his wrath.
"A set time": To wit, to my sufferings, as thou hast done to my life (Job 14:5).
"Remember me": I.e. wherein thou will remember me, to wit, in mercy, or so as to deliver me. For it is well known that God is frequently said to forget those whom he suffers to continue in misery, and to remember those whom he delivers out of it.
Job would rather die and have his body lie in the grave, so that he would be hidden, until the anger of God was passed. He knew that God would not forget him, and let him stay there forever.
Job 14:14 "If a man die, shall he live [again]? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come."
Although Job speaks here about the finality of death in this age, Jesus taught that anyone who dies in this age will indeed "live again" in the next, either dwelling in the presence of Almighty God (John 11:23-26; 1 Cor. 15:3-57), or in the suffering and torment of hell (Rev. 20:13-15). Life is never finished at the grave for the Christian, the grave is where real life begins.
The answer to this is of course yes. It was as if Job was wanting the answer to that to be no. He wanted to depart to get out of his pain and suffering. He was looking to that time when he would be changed. His body of flesh would give way to his spiritual body.
Job 14 - Job focuses on man's impermanence
Now, Job begins this chapter speaking of man's impermanence - the fact that our lives are so short.
1 "Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil. 2 Like a flower he comes out and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.
And so, not only is man not permanent - but his life is also filled with trouble. And Job was certainly experiencing both of these realities.
And notice the metaphors that Job uses to portray the brevity of mankind's lifespan.
Job speaks of a flower. And it's the kind of flower that springs up quickly. And then - whether it's cut down or it just withers - it's gone just as quickly as it appeared.
And then, Job speaks of life being like a shadow - something so temporary. Once the light changes its angle or when the object casting the shadow moves - it's gone. No more shadow. Just like that.
And Job is saying that life for humans is like this. Temporary. And troubled. Especially for Job himself.
Job wonders why God is being so harsh to the impermanent Job
And so, in light of the fact that man's lifetime - and especially Job's own life - is so temporary and troubled - Job wonders why the God of the universe would be so harsh toward him.
3 You also open Your eyes on him And bring him into judgment with Yourself.
So, Job pictures God as locking-in on Job with his eyes. Of just staring intensely at Job - to Job's own detriment.
And that's because Job is also picturing God as ushering Job into court to convict him of crimes.
But - Job's point is - why all this fuss about a creature whose life is so short and full of turmoil?
As if God doesn't have bigger concerns than troubling the already-troubled Job.
And once more we need to remind ourselves that Job is convinced that God is acting this way toward him - not because Job has special revelation from God that this is the case - but because this is how things appear to Job's naked eye, as it were.
Because - in Job's mind and in the minds of his three friends - and maybe even to Elihu later on - bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people. That's what we've been calling Retribution Theology.
So, if something bad is happening in your life, it's because you're bad - says Job and the cast of characters in this book. But Job knows that he's not bad. Even God can vouch that he is a righteous man. Not sinless. But righteous.
And therefore, if something bad is happening to someone good, then God is certainly doing it.
But, that's not how Job thinks God ought to act. It's out-of-character with the being that Job has worshipped and served for so many years.
And all of this is utterly confusing to Job.
And so, when your life is hard - does it mean that God is punishing you for sin?
It could mean just that! And yet, there might also be some other explanation - like a heavenly wager between God and Satan.
And if life is going well - does that mean that God is really pleased with you?
It could mean that! But it might just be that the God who sends his rain on the just and the unjust is happening to want to favor you that day.
So, we do need help - just like Job - to stop interpreting how God is feeling and what God is thinking about us based on circumstances in our lives.
So, how do we know what God thinks about us? Open your Bible and read it. He tells you there. He tells you that if you're trusting Christ that you are accepted in the Beloved One. That he loves you. That nothing can separate you from that love.
He also tells you that he chastens those whom he loves. He tells you that all who will live godly will suffer persecution. He gives you examples of godly people who suffer.
So, let's base our thinking on God's Word rather than on our feelings and circumstances.
And there's only one way to know what his Word says. And that's by reading it. Let's as individuals be in his Word regularly.
God apparently considers Job irreversibly unclean
Now, as we've seen before, Job is starting to wonder if perhaps he has sinned and only God remembers it. Maybe Job really is one of those bad people who - alone - should have bad things happen to them.
And it seems to Job that God is considering him beyond being able to be cleansed of his sin. Maybe he's uncleanable. And if that's the case, then Job is hopeless, because...
4 Who can make the clean out of the unclean? No one!
And this question reminds us of what the Lord says in the Old Testament book of Haggai when he asks the priests if when they touch bread with holy meat if the bread becomes holy.
You've got bread over here. You've got meat that's been consecrated to God over here. And the question is whether the meat will consecrate the bread if the two touch.
And the answer is "no." Holy meat will not make normal bread holy. You can't consecrate bread by putting consecrated meat on it. All you do is make a sandwich.
But the opposite is certainly the case. If someone who was ceremonially unclean according to the Mosaic Law touched anything else, that other thing would become unclean.
So, here, Job says something similar. It's not possible to bring something clean out of something unclean. No one can do it. It's an impossibility.
And since that's what Job thinks God is considering him to be - as unclean - he's feeling hopeless that this can ever change. And thus, the way that God is dealing with Job will never change - in his mind, at least.
Why trouble an already-short life?
And so, Job continues with this theme of questioning God as to why he's so harsh with him.
And Job's next argument goes like this: God has determined the length of everyone's life. He knows how long each man will live. And so - in light of that - Job basically says, "Then please just let me live until this short life you gave me is over!"
5 Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with You; And You have set his limits so that he cannot pass. 6 Look away from him so that he may rest, Until he fulfills his day like a hired worker.
So, God determines our days - how long we live. That's all in God's hands.
And that time is ultimately so short. So short - in fact - that Job urges God to basically just leave suffering mankind alone until their short life - over which God has complete control - is finished.
Hope for a tree
Now, Job continues and he states that there is hope for a dead tree.
And we'll see where he's going with this assertion in just a little while. But let's follow what he says for now.
7 "For there is hope for a tree, When it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And its shoots will not fail. 8 Though its roots grow old in the ground, And its stump dies in the dry soil, 9 At the scent of water it will flourish And produce sprigs like a plant.
And this is a really interesting natural phenomenon. Trees find a way to come back to life. Even the ugliest old trees that look as dead as dead can be so often spring back to life. It seems like all they need is water and they're finding ways to sprout and grow and venture into new areas.
No hope for man
But - and this is where Job is going with the tree discussion - in contrast to the dead tree - a man who dies has no hope of coming back to life in his same old body. The old tree just comes back to life with its same form - but it doesn't work that way for man.
10 But a man dies and lies prostrate. A person passes away, and where is he?
And really, if all you have to go on in this life is what the eye can see, then that last question that Job asks is where you're left. When your loved one's body ceases to function, where is he? Because that thing lying in the casket is not him! Where is he?
And once again, we're not quite sure what Job would have known about the afterlife. And yet, I don't think that this is Job denying the existence of heaven or hell. I think it's him once more looking at things from the external human-only perspective.
And to our physical senses, when a man's body expires, he never comes back in that same exact body, unchanged. It doesn't happen. The resurrection body is not the same sin-cursed body that you die in. It's glorious and new.
Man is like an evaporating sea
So, instead of being like a dead tree - which has some hope of new life springing back into what appears to be dead - man is more like a body of water whose content is evaporating.
11 As water evaporates from the sea, And a river becomes parched and dried up, 12 So a man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens no longer exist, He will not awake nor be woken from his sleep.And Job probably wasn't thinking of what we know as the Dead Sea. But to me, that body of water would be the best illustration of what he's saying here.
The Dead Sea - especially in our day - is evaporating. That body of water in Israel is fed from the north by the Jordan River. But the problem for this sea is threefold.
First, irrigation siphons off so much of the water that would normally come from the Jordan River.
Second, the sea has no outlet and is basically beaten by the hot desert sun all day long - which leads to a lot of evaporation.
Third, these days there are cosmetic companies that own parts of the Dead Sea and they harvest the mineral-filled water in that sea to make their products and ship them all over the world.
And so, this is why - if you were to look at the Dead Sea in some modern map program online you would see - especially toward the south end of it - what seems to be a lack of water in some places.
And this - according to Job - is how man's life works. We just all dry up. We lie down and don't rise again.
That is, until the heavens be no more.
And Job is almost right about that. The bodies of the wicked dead will be raised right before the new heaven and the new earth are presented.
And yet - Job is missing the special revelation that we have that declares that God's people will be raised and enjoy Christ's Millennial reign on this old earth.
But Job is likely not aware of these realities. He's not even aware at this point that God operates outside of the confines of the Retribution principle of always punishing evil immediately and always rewarding good immediately. He and his friends will need to have God come to them and let them in on this fact in order for them to understand it.
Job wants to die - temporarily
And so, moving on, it seems that this thought of dying makes Job wish for a middle ground. He'd like to be protected from God's supposed punishment - maybe in a grave - but at the same time he'd like to be able to come out of that grave once God's anger was done with him.
13 "Oh that You would hide me in Sheol, That You would conceal me until Your wrath returns to You, That You would set a limit for me and remember me!
So, this is what Job has come to - wishing that he could temporarily die - and doing so because he's thinking that this will somehow allow him to bypass God's anger - which in his mind is demonstrated by the fact that Job is suffering. Because, once more - to Job and his friends - if suffering is happening, God is causing it - and he's causing it because he's angry.
So, Job is resorting to fantasy in the form of toying with this idea of being temporarily dead.
Job realizes that's impossible
But then Job realizes that temporarily dying is - of course - impossible. And so, he resigns himself to suffer until something - anything - changes in his life.
14 If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait Until my relief comes.
And, that's just Job's acknowledging that temporary death is not an option for him.
So, Job is resolving to "tough it out" until something happens to relieve his pain and anguish - if that ever happens.
Job 14:1-14 - EXPOSITION (Pulpit Commemtary)
This chapter, in which Job concludes the fourth of his addresses, is characterized by a tone of mild and gentle expostulation, which contrasts with the comparative vehemence and passion of the two preceding chapters. It would seem that the patriarch, having vented his feelings, experiences a certain relief, an interval of calm, in which, his own woes pressing less heavily upon him, he is content to moralize on the general condition of humanity.
Job 14:1: Man that is born of a woman. In this fact Job sees the origin of man's inherent weakness. He is "born of a woman," who is "the weaker vessel" (1 Peter 3:7). He is conceived by her in uncleanness (Psalms 51:5; comp. below, Psalms 51:4), brought forth in sorrow and pain (Genesis 3:16) suckled at her breasts, placed for years under her guidance. No wonder that he shares the weakness of which she is a sort of type. Is of few days; literally, short of days. Length and shortness of days are, no doubt, relative; and it is difficult to say what term of life would not have seemed short to men as they looked back upon it. To Jacob, at the age of a hundred and thirty, it appeared that "few and evil had the days of the years of his life been" (Genesis 47:9). Methuselah, perhaps, thought the same. We all, as we come towards old age, and death draws manifestly near, feel as if we had only just begun to live, as if, at any rate, we had not done half our work, and were about to be cut off before our time. But would the case be seriously different if our tale of years were doubled? And fall of trouble (comp. Job 5:7).
Job 14:2: He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down. Few similes are more frequently used in Scripture (comp. Psalms 103:15; Isaiah 28:1, Isaiah 28:4; Isaiah 40:6, Isaiah 40:7; James 1:10, James 1:11; 1 Peter 1:24), and certainly none could have more poetic beauty. Eastern flowers do not often last much more than a day. He fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not (comp. Job 7:2; Job 8:9; 1 Chronicles 29:15; Psalms 102:11; Psalms 109:23; Ecclesiastes 6:12, etc.). Shadows are always changing; but the shadows which flee away the fastest, and which Job has probably in his mind, are those of clouds, or other moving objects, which seem to chase each other over the earth, and never to continue for a single minute in one stay.
Job 14:3: And dost thou open thine eyes upon such a one? Is it compatible with God's greatness, unchangeableness, and majesty to take any notice of so poor, weak, and unstable a creature as mortal man? The question has been often asked, and answered by many in the negative, as by the Epicureans of old. Job does not really entertain any doubt upon the point; but only intends to express his wonder that it should be so (comp. Psalms 8:4, and above, Job 7:17). And bringest me into judgment with thee? Especially astonishing is it, Job says, that God should condescend to try, pass judgment on, and punish so weak, worthless, and transitory a creature as himself.
Job 14:4: Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one. It is scarcely true to say that "the fact of original sin is thus distinctly recognized". Original uncleanness and infirmity are recognized; but the uncleanness is material, and removable by material expiation (Le Job 12:2-8). It is rather man's weakness than his sinfulness that is here under discussion.
Job 14:5: Seeing his days are determined. Job here returns to the consideration of the shortness of man's life. "His days are determined;'' i.e. they are a limited period, known to and fixed beforehand by God. They are not like God's days, which "endure throughout all generations" (Psalms 102:24). The number of his months are with thee. "With thee" means here "known to thee," "laid up in thy counsels." Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass. "His bounds" are "the limit of his lifetime." The three clauses are pleonastic. One idea pervades them all.
Job 14:6: Turn from him, that he may rest; literally, look away from him; i.e. "Cease to watch him and search him out so continually" (comp. Job 7:17, Job 7:18). "Then he will be able to have a breathing-time, an interval of peace and rest, before his departure from the earth." What Job had previously desired for himself (Job 10:20) he now asks for all humanity. Till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day. Hired labourers are glad when their day's work is over. So man rejoices when life comes to an end.
Job 14:7: For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down. God's vegetable creation is better off, in respect of length of days, than man. Let a tree be cut down, it is not therefore of necessity destroyed. There is yet hope for it. The bare dry stump will sometimes put forth tender branches, which will grow and flourish, and renew the old life. Or, if the stump be quite dead, suckers may spring up from the root and grow into new trees as vigorous as the one that they replace (comp. Isaiah 11:1). Herodotus considered that all trees had this recuperative power, except the πίτυς, a species of fir (Herod; 6.37), and the traveller Shaw says that when a palm tree dies there is always a sucker ready to take its place. Pliny also observes of the laurel, "Viva-cissima est radix, ita ut, si truncus ina-ruerit, recisa arbor mox laetius frutificet" ('Hist. Nat.,' 1.15. § 30). That it will sprout again. That is, from the spool or stump. Some trees, as the Spanish chest. nut, if cut down flush with the ground, throw up shoots from the entire circle of the stomp, often as many as fifteen or twenty. And that the tender branch thereof will not cease. The vigour of such shoots is very great. In a few years they grow to the height of the parent tree. If they are then removed they are quickly replaced by a fresh growth.
Job 14:8-9: Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. After the stump is actually dead, suckers may be thrown up from the roots, if sufficient water be supplied to them; and these will put forth branches luxuriantly.
Job 14:10: But man dieth. "Man" is here גבר, "the brave, strong man," not אדם or אנוֹשׁ, and the meaning is that man, however brave and' strong, perishes. And wasteth away; i.e. "comes to nought, remains no strength or vitality." Yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? "Where is he?" Job could not answer this question. He might say, "In Sheol." But where was Sheol, and what was Sheol? There was no written revelation on this subject, and no traditional knowledge on which dependence could be placed. The Hebrew notions on the subject were very vague and indeterminate; Job's notions are likely to have been still vaguer. There is no reason to believe that he had any exact acquaintance with the tenets of the Egyptians. He may have known the Chaldean teaching, but it would not have carried him very far. Doubt and perplexity beset him whenever he turned his attention to the problem of man's condition after death, and, excepting when carried away by a burst of enthusiasm, he seems to have regarded it as the highest wisdom, in matters of this kind, "to knew that he knew nothing." The question, "Where is he?" is an acknowledgment of this profound ignorance.
Job 14:11: As the waters fail from the sea. The allusion seems to be to the actual desiccation of seas and rivers. Job, apparently, had known instances of both. A formation of new land in the place, of sea is always going on at the head of the Persian Gulf, through the deposits of the Tigris and Euphrates; and this formation was very rapid in ancient times, when the head of the gulf was narrower. The desiccation of river-courses is common in Mesopotamia, where arms thrown out by the Tigris and Euphrates get blocked, and then silted up. And the flood decayeth and drieth up; rather, and the river decayeth' etc. (see comment on preceding clause).
Job 14:12: So man lieth down, and riseth not. This is not an absolute denial of a final resurrection, since Job is speaking of the world as it lies before him, not of eventualities. Just as he sees the land encroach upon the sea, and remain land, and the river-courses, once dried up, remain dry, so he sees men descend into the grave and remain there, without rising up again. This is the established order of nature as it exists before his eyes. Till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake. This order of things, Job believes, rightly enough, will continue as long as the heavens and the earth endure. What will happen afterwards he does not so much as inquire. It is remarked, ingeniously, that Job's words, though not intended in this sense, exactly "coincide with the declarations of the New Testament, which make the resurrection simultaneous with the breaking up of the visible universe" (Canon Cook). Nor be raised out of their sleep. If "the glimmer of a hope" of the resurrection appears anywhere in verses 10-12, it is in the comparison of death to a sleep, which is inseparably connected in our minds with an awakening.
Job 14:13: Oh that thou wouldest hide me in the grave! literally, in Sheol, which here does not so much mean "the grave," as the place of departed spirits, described in Job 10:21, Job 10:22. Job desires to have God's protection in that" land of darkness," and to be "hidden" there by him until his wrath be past. It has been generally supposed that he means after his death; but Schultens thinks his desire was to descend to Sheol alive, and there remain, while his punishment continued, hidden from the eyes of men. That thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past. Job assumes that, if he is being punished for his youthful sins (Job 13:26), his punishment will not be for long-at any rate, not for ever; God's anger will at last be satisfied and cease. That thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! How long he may have to suffer be does not greatly care. Only let it be "a set time"-a fixed, definite period-and at the end of it, let God "remember" him.
Job 14:14: If a man die, shall he live again? The question is clearly intended to be answered in the negative. It is not a dispassionate inquiry, but an expression of hopelessness. Let a man once die, and of course he cannot live again. Were it otherwise, then, Job says, all the days of my appointed time will I wait; or, rather (as in the Revised Version), all the days of my warfare would I wait; i.e. I would patiently endure any sufferings in the larger hope that would then be open to me. I would wait till my change (rather, my renewal) come. The exact nature of the 'renewal'' which Job seems here to expect is obscure. Perhaps he is pursuing the idea, broached in verse 13, of his being conveyed alive to Hades, and looks forward to a furthur renewed life after he is released from that "land of darkness."