It shall dwell in his tabernacle
What shall dwell in it is not said; there are various conjectures about it, and different supplements are made; the Targum is,
``his wife shall dwell in a tabernacle not his;''and to the same purpose Jarchi; as if it was one part of the punishment of a wicked man, that he should leave a widow behind him, and no house of his own for her to dwell in; but this is the case of the widows of many good men, who themselves, in their lifetime, have no houses of their own, and some no certain dwelling places, yea, have lived in caves and dens of the earth; the mother of our Lord, who seems to have been a widow at his death, was taken by one of his disciples to his own home, which shows she had none of her own. The Vulgate Latin version is,
``his neighbours shall dwell in his tabernacle;''which some understand of their coming into it after his death, to mourn and bewail him; but as such a visit of his family upon his decease cannot be called dwelling, so this is rather a benefit and favour to his family, than a distress: rather it may signify, that such neighbours whom he had oppressed, and who hated him for his tyranny and cruelty, now should dwell in his house; what he had built, strangers should inhabit, which is a punishment of sin and sinners, ( Deuteronomy 28:30 ) . Aben Ezra supplies it thus, a strange or evil beast shall dwell in it, as they do in desolate places; and it is frequently given as a sign and token of desolation in countries, cities, and palaces, that they are become the habitations of wild and savage creatures, see ( Isaiah 13:19-22 ) ( 24:11 ) ( Zephaniah 2:14 ) ; but it seems best to supply it from the context, either thus, famine, hunger, want of food, shall dwell in it; poverty and want shall come like an armed man into it, and take possession; there shall appear all the marks and signs of penury and distress; or destruction ready at his side shall take up its abode in it, and it shall be called the house of destruction, as a certain city is called the city of destruction, because devoted to it, ( Isaiah 19:18 ) ; or the firstborn of death, some deadly disease, as the pestilence; or death itself, the king of terrors, who is sometimes represented as a person coming up into the windows of a palace, and entering it, and cutting off great numbers; so that it goes ill with him that is left in a tabernacle, where he has his habitation, ( Jeremiah 9:21 ) ( Job 20:26 ) ; or terror, as Ben Gersom; everyone of the terrors before mentioned, so that no body will care to dwell in it, but forsake it as an haunted house: in short, from the whole it may be gathered, that the curse of God should alight upon it, and remain in it, as it does in the house of the wicked; the same with the flying roll in the vision of Zechariah, the curse of God's righteous law, which enters into the house of the thief and perjurer, and consumes it, ( Proverbs 3:33 ) ( Zechariah 5:4 ) ; the reason follows,
because [it is] none of his;
not by right, being bought or built with mammon of unrighteousness, with money not honestly got, and therefore shall not prosper; or because it is no longer his, he being taken from it by death, the king of terrors, and that not knowing or owning him any more as its master or proprietor, and therefore strangers shall dwell in it; or because there is none that shall be after him, because he shall have none left, or he shall have no survivor F8, all his family being taken away by death; and therefore nothing but desolation and destruction shall be seen in it, see ( Amos 6:9 Amos 6:10 ) ;
brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation;
that is, his house should be burnt down by lightning, which is often sulphurous, and sometimes very sensibly has the smell of brimstone in it F9. Bildad may refer either to the fire of heaven that destroyed Job's sheep, which was of this kind; or rather to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, by a shower of fire and brimstone from heaven, a fact well known in those times. Moreover, brimstone scattered upon the wicked man's dwelling place may denote the desolation of it, that it should lie in ruins, and be unfit to be inhabited; and the desolation of places is sometimes signified by their being salt, brimstone and burning pitch, ( Deuteronomy 29:23 ) ( Isaiah 34:9 ) ; yea, this may be carried further, and denote the eternal damnation of all in his house, seeing the burning of Sodom with brimstone was an example to ungodly men suffering the vengeance of eternal fire, ( Jude 1:7 ) ; and which is sometimes expressed by brimstone, and a lake burning with fire and brimstone, ( Revelation 20:10 ) ( 21:8 ) ( Revelation 14:10 Revelation 14:11 ) . Some F11 think respect is had to the purifying of houses with sulphur, to drive away demons, and remove impurity, to make them fit to dwell in F12; and others think it refers to the burning of sulphur in houses at funerals, to testify and exaggerate mourning F13.
F8 So Syr. Ar & Schmidt.
F9 Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 35. c. 35.
F11 Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 4. p. 709, 710.
F12 Vid. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 35. c. 15. Theocrit. Idyll. 25. ver. 95. Homer. Odyss. 22. prope finem.
F13 Vid. Menochium de Repub. Heb. l. 8. c. 6. col. 792.