Job 18 Study Notes


18:1-2 You in the original text is plural rather than singular. Because Bildad’s speech was addressed to Job, the plural serves as a mark of politeness. The second line does not contain an imperative in the Hebrew text. Bildad was expressing a wish.

18:3 Bildad believed Job’s rejection of their counsel was tantamount to calling them unthinking animals (12:7; Ps 73:22).

18:4 Bildad attempted to correct Job’s perspective. It was not an angry God who was tearing at Job (12:14; 16:9) but his own anger at God. God was not obligated to empty the earth or move a rock just to satisfy Job’s self-serving demands. As the physical order of the earth is established by divine law (Ps 104:5-7; Is 45:18), so are God’s moral standards (Pr 11:20-21). For God to interrupt the laws of nature on Job’s behalf would be as wrong as failing to hold him accountable for his sins.

18:5-6 As a lamp is put out, leaving a tent to grow dark, so misfortune would come to the wicked and his life would take a turn for the worse. Light represents a blessed life lived in accordance with the high standards of God, while darkness symbolizes the opposite (Pr 4:18-19). In other contexts light represents truth and knowledge, and darkness indicates error and ignorance (Dn 5:14; 2Pt 1:19).

18:7 The successful life is compared to walking without hindrance or stumbling (2Sm 22:33-37; Pr 4:10-12). The wicked person may appear to be walking well (with powerful stride), but his own schemes will be his undoing (Pr 15:22; 26:27).

18:8-10 Six different words for trap are used to depict metaphorically the unanticipated dangers that could ensnare a wicked person.

18:11-13 The dangers that the wicked person encounters bring constant terror, including the prospect of death. In Job’s plight, Bildad saw signs that the fate of the wicked lay before Job. Death’s firstborn means either the plague or the most terrible manner of death.

18:14 Finally the wicked person will lose everything and will be claimed by death, the last enemy (1Co 15:26) and the king of terrors. The language is reminiscent of the Canaanite deity Mot (death), whose appetite was insatiable and whose mouth and throat were always open to receive his victims. Death is similarly portrayed in the OT (Is 5:14; Hab 2:5). Paul pointed out that humans have victory over death through Christ (1Co 15:57; cp. Is 25:3-8).

18:15 The wicked person’s tent (home) is destroyed by others. The scattering of burning sulfur over it ensured that it would never be rebuilt and occupied.

18:16 Like a dead tree whose roots dry up and branches wither away, the wicked will leave nothing behind (14:2-7; 15:30; 19:10).

18:17-20 The wicked person’s family will also disappear, leaving no memory of him. It is as though he never existed. So total and devastating are the wicked person’s demise and loss that people will tremble at his horrible end. Bildad built upon language used by Job in describing public reaction to his condition (17:7-8). West and east is a merismus (the use of two parts to represent the whole) to designate people everywhere.