King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Job 20

Zophar speaks of the short joy of the wicked. (1-9) The ruin of the wicked. (10-22) The portion of the wicked. (23-29)

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Zophar speaks of the short joy of the wicked

1 Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,

2 Therefore do my thoughts cause me to answer, and for this I make haste.

3 I have heard the check of my reproach, and the spirit of my understanding causeth me to answer.

4 Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth,

5 That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?

6 Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds;

7 Yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung: they which have seen him shall say, Where is he?

8 He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found: yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night.

9 The eye also which saw him shall see him no more; neither shall his place any more behold him.

The ruin of the wicked

10 His children shall seek to please the poor, and his hands shall restore their goods.

11 His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust.

12 Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue;

13 Though he spare it, and forsake it not; but keep it still within his mouth:

14 Yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him.

15 He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly.

16 He shall suck the poison of asps: the viper’s tongue shall slay him.

17 He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter.

18 That which he laboured for shall he restore, and shall not swallow it down: according to his substance shall the restitution be, and he shall not rejoice therein.

19 Because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor; because he hath violently taken away an house which he builded not;

20 Surely he shall not feel quietness in his belly, he shall not save of that which he desired.

21 There shall none of his meat be left; therefore shall no man look for his goods.

22 In the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits: every hand of the wicked shall come upon him.

The portion of the wicked

23 When he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him, and shall rain it upon him while he is eating.

24 He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through.

25 It is drawn, and cometh out of the body; yea, the glittering sword cometh out of his gall: terrors are upon him.

26 All darkness shall be hid in his secret places: a fire not blown shall consume him; it shall go ill with him that is left in his tabernacle.

27 The heaven shall reveal his iniquity; and the earth shall rise up against him.

28 The increase of his house shall depart, and his goods shall flow away in the day of his wrath.

29 This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 2. Therefore. From this concession which thou hast just made. M. — Various. Heb. “Hence do my thoughts cause me to answer, and for this I hasten.” Sept. “I did not thus suspect that thou wouldst contradict these things,” &c. H. — Sophar only speaks this second time; and he produces little new, but begins with an air of more moderation, as if the arguments of Job had made some impression upon him. C. — He attempts to prove that the wicked have no comfort long; which is true in one sense, as all time is short, though they may prosper all their lives, as Job corrects his observation. C. xxi. 13. W.

Ver. 4. I know. Heb. and Sept. “dost thou not know?”

Ver. 6. Pride. Sept. “presents.” H. — Riches may be meant by pride. C.

Ver. 7. Hill. Heb. “his own dung.” H. Prov. x. 7.

Ver. 8. Fleeth. The poets assign wings to sleep and to dreams. Homer, &c. Isaias (xxix. 7.) describes a man who dreams that he is eating, and finds himself hungry when he awakes. Such is the live of the avaricious, (C.) and of all wicked people. H.

Ver. 9. Behold him, as if it were susceptible of resentment, and entered into the views of God. C. vii. 10. Ps. xxvi. 35. C.

Ver. 10. Be. Heb. “seek to please the poor, and his hands shall restore their goods,” which the wicked had gotten by oppression. H.

Ver. 11. Vices of, is not in Heb. but must be understood. H. — Youth. Some translate, “hidden.” Sophar perhaps accuses Job of some secret abominations, for which he was afflicted with the venereal disease. At least, nothing is more common than to see people brought to old age and infirmities unnumbered, (C.) before their time, in consequence of riotous living in their youth. H. — Youth may also denote the sin in which we are born, which is the source of all our maladies, and is always dragging us towards the grave. C.

Ver. 12. Evil of any king, and particularly (H.) injustice, which at first seems sweet, but will prove in the end a mortal poison. C. — The unjust will be forced to restore his ill-gotten goods, or suffer eternally for the neglect, v. 14. 18. H. — Habitual sins are also overcome with most difficulty, v. 11. M.

Ver. 16. Head. Heb. “venom.” Sept. “the wrath of dragons.” C. — Vipers. The same Heb. term is elsewhere rendered basilisk, or asp. The precise import of such things is not easily ascertained. Pineda. — Tongue. The ancients thought that serpents communicated the venom by the tongue, or sting. Moderns think they do it rather by the teeth. C.

Ver. 17. Butter. The impious may have a short-lived pleasure, but it will not give perfect satisfaction. The poets use similar expressions. C.

Mella fluant illi, ferat et rubus asper amomum. Virg.

Flumina jam lactis, jam flumina nectaris ibant. Met. i.

Ver. 18. Suffer eternal torments. C. — Heb. “according to his substance, shall the restitution be, and he shall not rejoice.” Prot.

Ver. 20. Them. Death will overtake him, like the rich man. Luke xii. 20. C.

Ver. 21. Continue. Heb. “no one shall look for his goods.” The sinner eat up all in his life-time, or saw his possessions slip from him. H. — At least, he shall not take them with him to the grave. C.

Ver. 23. May. Heb. “And when he shall be about to fill his belly,” like king Baltassar, death shall hurry him away. C. — Rain. Sept. “hurl sorrows upon him,” (H.) by an untimely death, followed with eternal hunger and thirst. Thus was treat the rich glutton. Luke xvi. 22. C.

Ver. 24. Brass; of which metal the strongest bows were made. Prot. have, “steel:” (H.) but brass was used by the ancients for the same purpose. C. — This proverb shews that those who endeavour to escape from men, fall into the hands of God. Delrio. Adag. 9, t. ii.

Incidit in Scyllam cupiens vitare Charbydim. Virg. M.

Ver. 25. The sword is, occurs not in the Vulg. (H.) though it be in the Compl. and Sixtine editions. C. — Heb. “It is drawn, and cometh out of the body; the glittering sword cometh out of his gall; terrors are upon him.” Prot. “May likewise the dart come out through his body,” &c. H. — Ones. Heb. “Enim; giants, who formerly inhabited the land of Moab, near the eastern Idumea. Their name might be placed for any cruel enemies. C.

Ver. 26. Darkness, or misery. C. — Sept. “Terrors upon him, (26) and all darkness may await him.” H. — He shall find no means of escaping. C. — Kindled. Heb. “blown.” S. Gregory observes that hell-fire is corporeal, but very different from our material fire. Chal. &c. explain this passage in the same sense. It may also intimate interior anguish, (C.) lightning, (Vatable) pestilence, (Grot.) and every species of calamity. C. — Tabernacle, in hell. M. — We may also translate, “he who is left,” (H.) the offspring shall be also miserable. M.

Ver. 27. Heavens, as his sins have cried for vengeance. Gen. xviii. 20. C. — All creatures shall fight against the wicked. M.

Ver. 28. Exposed. Heb. “the bud, (C.) or increase of his house, shall depart,” (H.) and be led away into captivity, (C.) and ruined. Sept. “Let final destruction draw away his house, and the day of wrath overtake him.”

Ver. 29. Doings. Lit. “words.” Heb. “of his decree.” H. — This is what he may expect for him impiety both in words and actions. C.