Job 4:19

19 how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth!

Job 4:19 in Other Translations

19 How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth?
19 how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like the moth.
19 how much less will he trust people made of clay! They are made of dust, crushed as easily as a moth.
19 So how much less these bodies composed of mud, fragile as moths?
19 how much more those who dwell in clay houses, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like a moth!

Job 4:19 Meaning and Commentary

Job 4:19

How much less [on] them that dwell in houses of clay
Meaning men, but not as dwelling in houses, in a proper sense, made of clay dried by the sun, as were common in the eastern countries; nor in mean cottages, as distinguished from cedar, and ceiled houses, in which great personages dwelt, for this respects men in common; nor as being in the houses of the grave, as the Targum, Jarchi, and others, which are no other than dust, dirt, and clay; for this regards not the dead, but the living; but the bodies of men are meant; in which their souls dwell; which shows the superior excellency of the soul to the body, and its independency of it, being capable of existing without it, as it does in the separate state before the resurrection; so bodies are called tabernacles, and earthen vessels, and earthly houses, ( 2 Peter 1:13 2 Peter 1:14 ) ( 2 Corinthians 4:7 ) ( 5:1 ) ; and bodies of clay, ( Job 13:12 ) ; so the body is by Epictetus F3 called clay elegantly wrought; and another Heathen writer


F4 calls it clay steeped in, or macerated and mixed with blood: being of clay denotes the original of bodies, the dust of the earth; and the frailty of them, like brittle clay, and the pollution of them, all the members thereof being defiled with sin, and so called vile bodies, and will remain such till changed by Christ, ( Philippians 3:21 ) ; now the argument stands thus, if God put no trust in angels, then much less in poor, frail, mortal, sinful men; he has no dependence on their services, whose weakness, unprofitableness, and unfaithfulness, he well knows; he puts no trust in their purposes, and resolutions, and vows, which often come to nothing; nor does he trust his own people with their salvation and justification, or put these things upon the foot of their works, but trusts them and the salvation and justification of them with his Son, and puts them upon the foot of his own grace and mercy: and if he charges the holy angels with folly, then much more (for so it may be also rendered) will he charge mortal sinful men with it, who are born like the wild ass's colt, and are foolish as well as disobedient, even his chosen ones, especially before conversion; or thus if so stands the case of angels, then much less can man be just before him, and pure in his sight: the weakness, frailty, and pollution of the bodies of men, are further enlarged on in some following clauses:

whose foundation [is] in the dust;
meaning not the lower parts of the body, as the feet, which support and bear it up; rather the soul, which is the basis of it, referring to its corruption and depravity by sin; though it seems chiefly to respect the original of the body, which is the dust of the earth, of which it consists, and to which it will return again, this being but a poor foundation to stand upon, ( Genesis 2:7 ) ( 3:17 ) ( Ecclesiastes 12:7 ) ; for the sense is, whose foundation is dust, mere dust, the particle (b) being redundant, or rather an Arabism:

[which] are crushed before the moth?
that is, which bodies of men, or houses of clay founded in the dust; or, "they crush them"; or "which" or "whom [they] crush" F5; either God, Father, Son, and Spirit, as some; or the angels, as others; or distresses, calamities, and afflictions, which sense seems best, by which they are crushed "before the moth" or "worm" F6; that is, before they die, and come to be the repast of worms, ( Job 19:26 ) ; or before a moth is destroyed, as soon, or sooner F7, than it is; so a man may be crushed to death, or his life taken from him, as soon as a moth's; either by the immediate hand of God, as Ananias and Sapphira, ( Acts 5:5 Acts 5:10 ) ; or by the sword of man, as Amasa by Joab, ( 2 Samuel 20:10 ) ; or rather, "like a moth" F8, as easily and as quickly as a moth is crushed between a man's fingers, or by his foot: some, as Saadiah Gaon, and others, render it, "before Arcturus" {i}, a constellation in the heavens, ( Job 9:9 ) ; and take the phrase to be the same as that, "before the sun"; ( Psalms 72:17 ) ; and to denote the perpetuity and duration of their being crushed, which would be as long as the sun or Arcturus continued, that is, for ever; but either of the above senses is best, especially the last of them.

F3 Arrian. Epictet. l. 1. c. 1.
F4 Theodor. Gadareus, apud Sueton. Vit. Tiber. c. 57.
F5 (Mwakdy) "conterent eos", Montanus, Mercerus, Michaelis, Schultens; "sub trinitas personarum", Schmidt; "angeli", Mercerus; so Sephorno and R. Simeon Bar Tzemach; "calamitates", Vatablus; so some in Bar Tzemach.
F6 (ve ynpl) "conam verme", Coceius; so the Targum and Bar Tzemach.
F7 "Antequam tinea", Junius & Tremellius; "citius quam tinea", Piscator.
F8 (shtov tropon) , Sept. "instar tineae", Noldius, Schmidt; so Aben Ezra and Broughton.
F9 "Donec fuerit Arcturus", Pagninus, Vatablus; so some in Aben Ezra, Ben Melech.

Job 4:19 In-Context

17 ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker?
18 If God places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error,
19 how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth!
20 Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces; unnoticed, they perish forever.
21 Are not the cords of their tent pulled up, so that they die without wisdom?’

Cross References 5

  • 1. Job 10:9; Job 33:6; Isaiah 64:8; Romans 9:21; 2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 5:1
  • 2. Job 22:16
  • 3. S Genesis 2:7
  • 4. Job 5:4
  • 5. Job 7:17; Job 15:16; Job 17:14; Job 25:6; Psalms 22:6; Isaiah 41:14
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