Job 20:16

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

Job 20:16 Meaning and Commentary

Job 20:16

He shall suck the poison of asps
Or "the head of asps" {u}; for their poison lies in their heads, particularly in their "teeth" F23; or rather is a liquor in the gums, yellow like oil F24; according to Pliny F25, in copulation the male puts his head into the mouth of the female, which she sucks and gnaws off through the sweetness of the pleasure, then conceives her young, which eat out her belly; this is to be understood not of the man's sin, then it would have been expressed either in the past or present tense, as if that was sweet unto him in the commission of it, sucked in like milk from the breast, or honey from the honeycomb; such were his contrivances and artful methods, and the success of them in getting riches, but in the issue proved like the poison of asps, pernicious and deadly to him, which caused him to vomit them up again; for poison excites vomiting: but of the punishment of his sin; for putting men to death by the poison of asps was a punishment inflicted by some people upon malefactors; and however, it is certain death, and immediately and quickly dispatches, and without sense; so the wages of sin is death, and there is no avoiding it, and it comes insensibly on carnal men; they are not aware of it, and in no pain about it, until in hell they lift up their eyes as the rich man did:

the viper's tongue shall slay him;
though it is with its teeth it bites, yet, when it is about to bite, it puts out its tongue, and to it its poison is sometimes ascribed; though it is said F26 to be quite harmless, and therefore not to be understood in a literal sense, but figuratively of the tongue of a detractor, a calumniator and false accuser, such an one as Doeg; but cannot be the sense here, since the fall of the person here described would not be by any such means; but the phrase, as before, denotes the certain and immediate death of such a wicked man; for the bite of a viper was always reckoned incurable, and issued in sudden death, see ( Acts 28:3-6 ) .


F21 (Myntp var) "caput aspidum", V. L. Montanus.
F23 Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 37. Aelian. Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 4.
F24 Philosoph. Transact. ut supra. (abridged, vol. 2. p. 819.)
F25 Ib. c. 62.
F26 Scheuchzer, ut supra, (Physic. Sacr. vol. 4.) p. 712.

Job 20:16 In-Context

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.
The King James Version is in the public domain.