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Job 21:17 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— How oft is it that the lamp of the wicked is put out? That their calamity cometh upon them? That [God] distributeth sorrows in his anger?
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— How oft is the candle of the wicked put out! and [how oft] cometh their destruction upon them! [God] distributeth sorrows in his anger.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— “How often is the lamp of the wicked put out, Or does their calamity fall on them? Does God apportion destruction in His anger?
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— How oft is the candle of the wicked put out? and [how oft] cometh their destruction upon them? [God] distributeth sorrows in his anger.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— How often is the lamp of the wicked put out, and cometh their calamity upon them? Doth he distribute sorrows [to them] in his anger?
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— How oft, the lamp of the lawless, goeth out, and their calamity, cometh upon them, Sorrows, apportioneth he in his anger;
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— How oft is the lamp of the wicked extinguished, And come on them doth their calamity? Pangs He apportioneth in His anger.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— How often shall the lamp of the wicked be put out, and a deluge come upon them, and he shall distribute the sorrows of his wrath?
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— How oft is the candle of the wicked put out? and [how oft] commeth their destruction vpon them? [God] distributeth sorrowes in his anger.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— Nevertheless, the lamp of the ungodly also shall be put out, and destruction shall come upon them, and pangs of vengeance shall seize them.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— How oft is the candle of the wicked put out! and [how oft] cometh their destruction upon them! [Elohim] distributeth sorrows in his anger.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
How oft x4100
(4100) Complement
A primitive particle; properly interrogitive what? (including how?, why? and when?); but also exclamations like what! (including how!), or indefinitely what (including whatever, and even relatively that which); often used with prefixes in various adverbial or conjugational senses.
is the candle 5216
{5216} Prime
From a primitive root (see H5214 and H5135) properly meaning to glisten; a lamp (that is, the burner) or light (literally or figuratively).
of the wicked 7563
{7563} Prime
From H7561; morally wrong; concretely an (actively) bad person.
put out! 1846
{1846} Prime
A primitive root; to be extinguished; figuratively to expire or be dried up.
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
and [how oft] cometh 935
{0935} Prime
A primitive root; to go or come (in a wide variety of applications).
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
their destruction 343
{0343} Prime
From the same as H0181 (in the sense of bending down); oppression; by implication misfortune, ruin.
upon x5921
(5921) Complement
Properly the same as H5920 used as a preposition (in the singular or plural, often with prefix, or as conjugation with a particle following); above, over, upon, or against (yet always in this last relation with a downward aspect) in a great variety of applications.
them! [lhm אֱלֹהִים] distributeth 2505
{2505} Prime
A primitive root; to be smooth (figuratively); by implication (as smooth stones were used for lots) to apportion or separate.
<8762> Grammar
Stem - Piel (See H8840)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 2447
sorrows 2256
{2256} Prime
From H2254; a rope (as twisted), especially a measuring line; by implication a district or inheritance (as measured); or a noose (as of cords); figuratively a company (as if tied together); also a throe (especially of parturition); also ruin.
in his anger. 639
{0639} Prime
From H0599; properly the nose or nostril; hence the face, and occasionally a person; also (from the rapid breathing in passion) ire.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Job 21:17

_ _ Job in this whole passage down to Job 21:21 quotes the assertion of the friends, as to the short continuance of the sinner’s prosperity, not his own sentiments. In Job 21:22 he proceeds to refute them. “How oft is the candle” (lamp), etc., quoting Bildad’s sentiment (Job 18:5, Job 18:6), in order to question its truth (compare Matthew 25:8).

_ _ how oft — “God distributeth,” etc. (alluding to Job 20:23, Job 20:29).

_ _ sorrows — Umbreit translates “snares,” literally, “cords,” which lightning in its twining motion resembles (Psalms 11:6).

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Job 21:17-26

_ _ Job had largely described the prosperity of wicked people; now, in these verses,

_ _ I. He opposes this to what his friends had maintained concerning their certain ruin in this life. “Tell me how often do you see the candle of the wicked put out? Do you not as often see it burnt down to the socket, until it goes out of itself? Job 21:17. How often do you see their destruction come upon them, or God distributing sorrows in his anger among them? Do you not as often see their mirth and prosperity continuing to the last?” Perhaps there are as many instances of notorious sinners ending their days in pomp as ending them in misery, which observation is sufficient to invalidate their arguments against Job and to show that no certain judgment can be made of men's character by their outward condition.

_ _ II. He reconciles this to the holiness and justice of God. Though wicked people prosper thus all their days, yet we are not therefore to think that God will let their wickedness always go unpunished. No, 1. Even while they prosper thus they are as stubble and chaff before the stormy wind, Job 21:18. They are light and worthless, and of no account either with God or with wise and good men. They are fitted to destruction, and continually lie exposed to it, and in the height of their pomp and power there is but a step between them and ruin. 2. Though they spend all their days in wealth God is laying up their iniquity for their children (Job 21:19), and he will visit it upon their posterity when they are gone. The oppressor lays up his goods for his children, to make them gentlemen, but God lays up his iniquity for them, to make them beggars. He keeps an exact account of the fathers' sins, seals them up among his treasures (Deuteronomy 32:34), and will justly punish the children, while the riches, to which the curse cleaves, are found as assets in their hands. 3. Though they prosper in this world, yet they shall be reckoned with in another world. God rewards him according to his deeds at last (Job 21:19), though the sentence passed against his evil works be not executed speedily. Perhaps he may not now be made to fear the wrath to come, but he may flatter himself with hopes that he shall have peace though he go on; but he shall be made to feel it in the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. He shall know it (Job 21:20): His eyes shall see his destruction which he would not be persuaded to believe. They will not see, but they shall see, Isaiah 26:11. The eyes that have been wilfully shut against the grace of God shall be opened to see his destruction. He shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty; that shall be the portion of his cup. Compare Psalms 11:6 with Revelation 14:10. The misery of damned sinners is here set forth in a few words, but very terrible ones. They lie under the wrath of an Almighty God, who, in their destruction, both shows his wrath and makes known his power; and, if this will be his condition in the other world, what good will his prosperity in this world do him? What pleasure has he in his house after him? Job 21:21. Our Saviour has let us know how little pleasure the rich man in hell had in his house after him, when the remembrance of the good things he had received in his life-time would not cool his tongue, but added much to his misery, as did also the sorrow he was in lest his five brethren, whom he left in his house after him, should follow him to that place of torment, Luke 16:25-28. So little will the gain of the world profit him that has lost his soul.

_ _ III. He resolves this difference which Providence makes between one wicked man and another into the wisdom and sovereignty of God (Job 21:22): Shall any pretend to teach God knowledge? Dare we arraign God's proceedings or blame his conduct? Shall we take upon us to tell God how he should govern the world, what sinner he should spare and whom he should punish? He has both authority and ability to judge those that are high. Angels in heaven, princes and magistrates on earth, are accountable to God, and must receive their doom from him. He manages them, and makes what use he pleases of them. Shall he then be accountable to us, or receive advice from us? He is the Judge of all the earth, and therefore no doubt he will do right (Genesis 18:25, Romans 3:6), and those proceedings of his providence which seem to contradict one another he can make, not only mutually to agree, but jointly to serve his own purposes. The little difference there is between one wicked man's dying so in pain and misery, when both will at last meet in hell, he illustrates by the little difference there is between one man's dying suddenly and another's dying slowly, when they will both meet shortly in the grave. So vast is the disproportion between time and eternity that, if hell be the lot of every sinner at last, it makes little difference if one goes singing thither and another sighing. See,

_ _ 1. How various the circumstances of people's dying are. There is one way into the world, we say, but many out; yet, as some are born by quick and easy labour, others by that which is hard and lingering, so dying is to some much more terrible than to others; and, since the death of the body is the birth of the soul into another world, death-bed agonies may not unfitly be compared to child-bed throes. Observe the difference. (1.) One dies suddenly, in his full strength, not weakened by age or sickness (Job 21:23), being wholly at ease and quiet, under no apprehension at all of the approach of death, nor in any fear of it; but, on the contrary, because his breasts are full of milk and his bones moistened with marrow (Job 21:24), that is, he is healthful and vigorous, and of a good constitution (like a milch cow that is fat and in good liking), he counts upon nothing but to live many years in mirth and pleasure. Thus fair does he bid for life, and yet he is cut off in a moment by the stroke of death. Note, It is a common thing for persons to be taken away by death when they are in their full strength, in the highest degree of health, when they least expect death, and think themselves best armed against it, and are ready not only to set death at a distance, but to set it at defiance. Let us therefore never be secure; for we have known many well and dead in the same week, the same day, the same hour, nay, perhaps, the same minute. Let us therefore be always ready. (2.) Another dies slowly, and with a great deal of previous pain and misery (Job 21:25), in the betterness of his soul, such as poor Job was himself now in, and never eats with pleasure, has no appetite to his food nor any relish of it, through sickness, or age, or sorrow of mind. What great reason have those to be thankful that are in health and always eat with pleasure! And what little reason have those to complain who sometimes do not eat thus, when they hear of many that never do!

_ _ 2. How undiscernible this difference is in the grave. As rich and poor, so healthful and unhealthful, meet there (Job 21:26): They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them, and feed sweetly on them. Thus, if one wicked man die in a palace and another in a dungeon, they will meet in the congregation of the dead and damned, and the worm that dies not, and the fire that is not quenched, will be the same to them, which makes those differences inconsiderable and not worth perplexing ourselves about.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Job 21:17

Often — I grant that this happens often though not constantly, as you affirm. Lamp — Their glory and outward happiness.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

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Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance

Job 18:5-6 Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine. ... The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him.
Job 18:18 He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world.
Proverbs 13:9 The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.
Proverbs 20:20 Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.
Proverbs 24:20 For there shall be no reward to the evil [man]; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.
Matthew 25:8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

or, lamp


Psalms 32:10 Many sorrows [shall be] to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.
Psalms 90:7-9 For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled. ... For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale [that is told].
Luke 12:46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for [him], and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
Romans 2:8-9 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, ... Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
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Chain-Reference Bible Search

Jb 18:5, 18. Ps 32:10; 90:7. Pv 13:9; 20:20; 24:20. Mt 25:8. Lk 12:46. Ro 2:8.

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