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John Hartley: On this occasion Job addresses his remarks entirely to the friends. In the style of a wisdom disputation he challenges their simplified view of the doctrine of retribution. Motivated by a desire to prove his own uprightness even though the evidence of his affliction testifies against him, he argues the opposite side of that thesis, namely, that a person’s prosperity does not necessarily mean that he is righteous. Many who are rich in material things reject God openly and blatantly. If this is true so is the opposite, i.e., those suffering beneath heavy burdens are not necessarily sinners. If in God’s providence the wicked can prosper, surely the devout may suffer. The friends, therefore, should give him the benefit of the doubt and reach out to him in comfort rather than with caustic and condemning words. . .

Tough Questions about the Doctrine of Retribution:

Job develops his thesis that the wicked prosper in four parts:

(1) the blessings of the wicked (vv. 7–16);

(2) the infrequency of the wicked being punished (vv. 17–21);

(3) the failure of the doctrine of retribution (vv. 22–26); and

(4) a rejection of the friends’ anticipated rebuttal (vv. 27–33).

John MacArthur: Job’s reply to Zophar’s last speech, ending the second cycle of speeches, refuted the simplistic set of laws by which the mockers lived. He showed that the wicked prosper, and since it is clear that they do (they had argued that the wicked only suffer), then by inference, perhaps the righteous suffer. This presented serious problems for their supposed open and shut case against Job.

Tremper Longman: Job has argued that the wicked prosper, but he doubts that his point has sunk in, as witnessed by Zophar’s last simplistic speech. Job then puts forward his perspective based on his observation and experience. The wicked thrive and are contemptuous toward God (vv. 6–17). He concludes that God is out of the loop and that the wicked are successful apart from him. God should punish the wicked immediately and not wait, and he should especially not punish children for father’s offenses (vv. 18–21). But, according to Job in vv. 22–26, God does not differentiate between the righteous and the wicked in his treatment of them. People die or thrive independent of moral considerations. That is the way God works, and no one can do anything about it. Job ends his speech (vv. 27–34) with a final jab at his opponents. They ask him for evidence that the wicked prosper, and he tells them that it is common knowledge. Their speeches are empty and ineffective (v. 34).

David Clines: The nodal verse must be the opening rhetorical question of the speech proper, “Why do the wicked live. . . ?” (v. 7). This stands in headline position, and from it devolves the speech as a whole. The answer to the question, though it is never explicitly stated, is evident throughout the speech. It is: “Because there is no moral order in the universe, no principle of retribution and no divine justice.”

Here in this speech he enters into direct dispute with the friends, addressing them and them alone from the beginning to the end of the speech. He actually refers to their arguments—something he has rarely done before. And his language is cooler, less aggressive. . .

In short, Job’s argument is this: if the wicked are not recompensed, neither are the righteous. That is the simple meaning of his suffering: there is no meaning to it at all.


“Then Job answered,”


A. (:2-3) Listen Up

“Listen carefully to my speech,

And let this be your way of consolation.

3 Bear with me that I may speak;

Then after I have spoken, you may mock.”

David Clines: Job ironically observes that the biggest consolation his friends could offer him would be to say nothing at all. Their speeches defending the doctrine of retribution have made them into “torturer-comforters” (16:2), even though they themselves (or Eliphaz at least) have represented their words as “God’s encouragements” (15:11). It would not of course be a consolation for them to keep silence; it would be less than a consolation, as the turn of phrase shows: “let that [your silence] be the comfort you offer me.” But the mere absence of their persistent putting him in the wrong would almost seem a consolation in itself. Job knows he is right, of course, and he does not want to be gainsaid any longer. Whatever they say will be wrong, and their “consolation” is bound to be, at the end of the day, “vanity, emptiness” and “deceit” (perhaps meaning “infidelity to God”) (v 34).

B. (:4-5) Look at Me

“As for me, is my complaint to man?

And why should I not be impatient?

5 Look at me, and be astonished,

And put your hand over your mouth.”

Tremper Longman: Job’s Impatience — Job then informs them that his complaints are not about how he is being treated by mortals. Granted, he has complained about the three friends (as recently as vv. 2–3!), but his ultimate complaint is not directed at them or any human; rather, he is upset with God himself. Thus he feels justified in his impatience. All the friends have to do is look at his physical and mental deterioration to see why he is impatient. Just the sight of him should cause them to shut their mouths in horror.

David Clines: Presumably the friends have been looking at Job throughout the dialogues, so how can they now heed Job’s demand, “Look at me, turn to me”? He means that if they were not just to see him physically but to recognize what is before their faces—an innocent man who is being made to suffer by God like one of the wicked—they would be “appalled” or “dumbfounded” (JB) and “clap [their] hand[s] to [their] mouth[s]”; the silence that would strike them then would be the silence that Job requires of them (v 2a), a silence that would count as consolation (v 2b).

Elmer Smick: God would rather have us complain than be indifferent toward him or handle his truths arrogantly and so reduce them to dead maxims. Job’s anguish over not understanding what God has been doing is proof that Job is not indifferent or arrogant. It is the counselors who assume they know what is going on.

C. (:6) Lament My Shocking Condition

“Even when I remember, I am disturbed,

And horror takes hold of my flesh.”

John Hartley: When Job remembers or thinks about his own shocking condition, he becomes so terrified (niḇhalṯî) that shuddering (pallāṣûṯ) seizes his flesh. In his first speech Eliphaz had accused Job of being terrified or dismayed and thus lacking in faith (4:5). In response Job justifies his emotional distress as inevitable because of the acuteness of his ordeal. The horror he feels is heightened by his realization that his emaciated body denies his cherished belief that God honors faithful service.

David Thompson: In verse 6, he says when I think about what I once was and look at what I am now, I am horrified and you should be too.

David Clines: [Alternate view — Connects vs. 6 with following verses instead] This verse is connected by most commentators (except Duhm, Peake, Fohrer, Tur-Sinai) and versions with what precedes, but to do so is to misunderstand the text. What is it that Job “remembers” that causes him dismay and shuddering? It cannot be something about his own condition, his own suffering, or the wrong that is being done to him, because he is conscious of that all the time, and so he can hardly “remember” it. It is something that he knows from experience and observation, something that is not constantly in the forefront of his mind but that causes him mental distress whenever he thinks about it. It can only be the happy life of the wicked and “God’s immoral government of the world” (Peake), the very subject of this speech as a whole. Their lot, as he pictures it, troubles him because it proves that there is no justice in the world if the wicked are not punished, and also, no doubt, because he would like to see the kind of retribution in play that would punish evildoers and reward him for his piety instead of leaving him to suffer at the hands of a cruel God.


A. (:7-16) The Wicked Obviously Can Prosper

Francis Andersen: The friends’ thesis is that sin produces suffering. Their inference is that suffering proves sin. Job denies both. His attractive sketch of the carefree life of the wicked resembles the picture of the good man painted earlier by Eliphaz (5:17–27).

David Thompson: There are six descriptions that Job gives here that are true:

• Wicked people continue through life and become powerful. 21:7

• Wicked people give their prosperity to their children and live to see them become prosperous. 21:8

• Wicked people have households that are safe havens seemingly free from God’s wrath. 21:9

• Wicked people prosper and multiply in business. 21:10

• Wicked people prosper and multiply in pedigree. 21:11-13

• Wicked people have no interest in God. 21:14-16

David Guzik: It is impossible to miss the contrast here. All the advantages that many of the wicked seemed to have, Job was deprived of.

• Job is the man whose descendants were cursed and not established.

• Job is the man whose house was subject to fear.

• Job is the man with the rod of God upon him.

• Job is the man whose livestock has perished.

• Job is the man whose children no longer dance.

1. (:7) Wicked People Can Live Long and Powerful Lives

“Why do the wicked still live,

Continue on, also become very powerful?”

Francis Andersen: Zophar has just asserted that the wicked die prematurely (20:11). Job maintains the opposite: they reach old age and even improve in health. The Hebrew word translated power can refer to both physical prowess, managerial efficiency and material prosperity. In the introverted structure of the poem, verse 7 is matched by verse 13, where spend their days means ‘complete their life-span’. . .

Since the clean introverted structure of verses 7–13 shows them to be a single unit, the initial question Why? should be applied to each individual statement. Job does not consider the facts to be open to question. It is the reason for them he seeks.

John Hartley: The verb live refers to a full, prosperous life. The wicked grow old (ʿāṯaq), and they become mighty in power (cf. Ps. 73:12). Although the penalty for sin is death, everywhere there are jovial, prosperous evildoers, secure and unafraid of loss. It stands to reason then that either they have avoided the penalty for their wicked deeds or the punishment due them has not yet been executed. In either case their penalty is not speedily executed as the friends have held. . .

The clause [they] become mighty in power (ḡāḇerû ḥayil) calls to mind the common phrase giḇḇôr ḥayil, “the landed aristocracy.” Heb. ḥayil means “strength” and “army” and sometimes “wealth.” Heb. ḡāḇar bears the idea of “be strong, gain the upper hand.” That is, these men become leaders of the nation by supporting the state with their wealth and their troops. From the people they receive the highest recognition. Acclaimed as noble citizens, their status covers the wicked deeds that brought them to that prominence. In the following verses Job will detail the multiple blessings that attend such wicked leaders. With this account he is refuting the assertions of Eliphaz (5:5; 15:20) and Zophar (20:15–18) that the wealth of these faithless men is so ephemeral that it can never be used to advantage. In contrast, he claims that their wealth and prominence is real and lasting. A single proven example would refute the dogmatic theology of the friends.

2. (:8-13) Wicked People Can Enjoy Many Observable Blessings

a. (:8) Blessed with Prosperous Progeny

“Their descendants are established with them in their sight,

And their offspring before their eyes,”

Francis Andersen: Bildad had asserted that the wicked die childless, as Job looks like doing (18:19). Job contradicts this. It is the wicked who have large, happy families, just like anybody else. Again the introversion places the description of the frolicking children (four different Hebrew words are used) in verses 8f. and 11f. around the reference to livestock in verse 10.

John Hartley: their offspring (ṣeʾĕṣāʾêhem) may refer to subsequent generations. The statement that the success of the wicked benefits their offspring counters both the argument that nothing gained by wrongdoing is passed on to the children as well as the escape clause in the doctrine of retribution that if an arrogant person does enjoy life the punishment due him will fall on his children (e.g., 18:19; 20:21).

b. (:9) Blessed with Safety and Security

“Their houses are safe from fear,

Neither is the rod of God on them.”

Francis Andersen: Eliphaz had asserted that Job’s ‘tent’ would be safe (5:24). Job denies this. The houses (it could mean either families or estates) of the wicked are secure. The rod of God, which Job is feeling (9:34), does not fall on them.

John Hartley: The homes of these wicked men are safe [šālôm, lit. “peace”], free from fear [paḥaḏ] or threat of loss (cf. 5:24; 15:21). This is remarkable, for the fear of sudden disaster is supposed to unsettle the godless (Prov. 3:25). But these families do not live under the cloud of such dread. There is no evidence anywhere that God’s punishing rod (šēḇeṭ, which has smitten Job (19:21b), has struck them with even a single blow. Instead everything goes well for these evildoers.

c. (:10) Blessed with Business Success

“His ox mates without fail;

His cow calves and does not abort.”

John Hartley: Their bull impregnates their cow without fail, i.e., without spilling its seed, and the cow bears without miscarriage. The fertility of their cattle is representative of the prosperity in every area of this person’s estate.

d. (:11-12) Blessed with the Celebration of Joyful Life

“They send forth their little ones like the flock,

And their children skip about.

They sing to the timbrel and harp

And rejoice at the sound of the flute.”

John Hartley: This picture represents idyllic happiness.

David Clines: The picture of children at play inevitably conjures up feelings of joy, peace, freedom from anxiety, and even innocence (cf. Zech 8:5, where the play of children in the city streets symbolizes Jerusalem’s happiness).

e. (:13) Blessed with Prosperity in Life and Tranquility in Death

“They spend their days in prosperity,

And suddenly they go down to Sheol.”

John Hartley: The wicked live a comfortable life and die a quick, easy death. All of their days are spent in prosperity (lit. “good,” ṭôḇ) and enjoyment. When their days come to an end, they descend to Sheol quietly and quickly, free from any prolonged, agonizing illness. A serene death means that the joy of the wicked is as full as possible. Suffering has never impressed on their mind the horrors of death.

3. (:14-15) Wicked People Openly Reject God

a. (:14) No Pursuit of Relationship or Obedience

“And they say to God, ‘Depart from us!

We do not even desire the knowledge of Thy ways.’”

Tremper Longman: The wicked are far from God and want it that way. In their prosperity and enjoyment, they see absolutely no need for God. They neither serve him nor pray to him. He is more a burden than a help in life (vv. 14–15). Here we might remember that the accuser’s charge against Job is that he is not disinterested in his piety (1:9). He is only righteous because of the reward involved. According to Job, this charge could be leveled toward the wicked, who do not serve God because they see no reward in it. Job, on the other hand, is suffering and innocent, yet he is unwilling merely to cut his losses by cursing God. Rather, he pursues God in search of resolution.

b. (:15) No Value Seen in Worship or Service of the Almighty

“Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him,

And what would we gain if we entreat Him?”

John Hartley: Such stalwart sinners could never be persuaded to serve God by the utilitarian arguments of the friends. Confident of being masters of their own world and without any fear of reprisal from a superior divine force, they deny the teaching of retribution without ever experiencing any grave consequences.

David Clines: After the depiction of the prosperity of the wicked in vv 6–13, a second theme in Job’s speech emerges here: the godlessness of the wicked that goes unpunished. Here it becomes apparent that evildoers are not simply fortunate despite their wrongdoing; they live happy lives despite their express blasphemy against God.

4. (:16) Wicked People, Despite Their Prosperity, Have Nothing to Offer

“Behold, their prosperity is not in their hand;

The counsel of the wicked is far from me.”

John Hartley: With a parenthetical comment Job emphatically states his own judgment on the happy life of the wicked. Even though they boast of their prosperity, Job, along with the comforters, believes that their success is ephemeral. In the final analysis they do not have ultimate control over their prosperity. In v. 16b Job rejects emphatically his being identified with the counsel of such wicked men. He affirms his own integrity and faith in God even in the midst of his lament over the good that befalls those who reject God. Thus he is arguing against the position of Zophar on two levels:

(1) since there are wicked men who prosper and live to an old age, his own suffering does not automatically put him into the category of the wicked;

(2) since he wholeheartedly rejects the counsel of the wicked, he cannot be categorically identified with them.

David Clines: So Job’s animus is not against the wicked, but against God; and it is not so much that God allows the wicked to prosper (Job never expresses hatred for the Sabeans and Chaldeans that have brought him into misery), but that a God who allows the wicked to prosper is inevitably a God who allows the righteous to suffer.

Elmer Smick: It helps to compare 22:17–18 with 21:14–16. In chapter 22 Eliphaz uses Job’s words to his own advantage. So Eliphaz’s words are a commentary on these. Job is saying, “Look, the prosperity of the wicked is from God despite the fact that their counsel is far from him.”

B. (:17-21) The Wicked Can Escape Judgment in This Life

1. (:17-18) Counter Examples to the Doctrine of Retribution

“How often is the lamp of the wicked put out,

Or does their calamity fall on them?

Does God apportion destruction in His anger?

18 Are they as straw before the wind,

And like chaff which the storm carries away?”

John Hartley: He directly rebuts Bildad’s assertion that “the light of the wicked is extinguished” (18:5) by asking, How often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out? The lamp (nēr) symbolizes a healthy life, and snuffed out (dāʿaḵ) refers to a premature death by a tragedy brought on by God as punishment for evildoing (cf. Prov. 13:9; 20:20; 24:20). . .

Each of Job’s questions expects the answer “very few times, if any.” But any exception to the application of the law of retribution means that it cannot be applied categorically. Consequently, the arguments of the friends will have to be tempered. More specifically they will need to reevaluate Job’s case and come to realize that the reason for his tragedy must lie outside the law of retribution.

Peter Wallace: vv. 17-26 — There are echoes of Psalm 1 in these verses. Job had said that the “counsel of the wicked” is far from him – but then he asks when will the wicked be like the chaff that the wind blows away? Psalm 1 says that the wicked will not stand in the judgment, but when does that actually happen? Maybe occasionally – but the pattern of the universe is not that the wicked perish and the righteous prosper!

2. (:19-21) Contradiction of the Theory that God Visits the Judgment on the Sons

a. (:19a) Judgment Theory to Accommodate Doctrine of Retribution

“You say, ‘God stores away a man’s iniquity for his sons.’ “

b. (:19b-20) Judgment Only Meaningful if Personally Experienced

“Let God repay him so that he may know it.

Let his own eyes see his decay,

And let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty.”

Francis Andersen: This theory of the friends, that God is saving up their iniquity for their sons (verse 19a), is a blatant evasion, useless as a demonstration of God’s justice (verse 22). Justice will be seen to have been done, only when the wicked experience in themselves their destruction as recompense.

c. (:21) Judgment Executed in the Future Can’t Impact the Dead

“For what does he care for his household after him,

When the number of his months is cut off?”

(:22) Aside – Exercise Caution in Presuming to Understand God’s Justice

“Can anyone teach God knowledge,

In that He judges those on high?”

Thomas Constable: Job claimed that the wicked die for the same reason the righteous die: They are sinners. They do not invariably die early because they are wicked sinners. Furthermore, God does not punish the children of the wicked who die late in life for their parents’ sins. Job said that would be no punishment on the parents, since they would not be alive to witness their children’s suffering. He also pointed out that his companions were putting God in a box by not allowing Him to judge freely but requiring that He behave according to their theological conceptions (v. 22).

David Guzik: In the broader context, Job is indeed questioning the ways and wisdom of God in not bringing judgment sooner upon the wicked man. At the same time, he sensed that this was wrong, so he corrected himself with his own rhetorical question on this point.

C. (:23-34) The Wicked Cannot be Limited to a Rigid Application of the Doctrine of Retribution

1. (:23-26) Death Treats All Individuals the Same – Regardless of Fortunes in Life

Francis Andersen: Job’s point is not that the good always suffer, while the wicked are always at ease. This generalization is no more true than the formula of his friends that the righteous always prosper and the evil always fail. Life is more complicated than that, and it does not disclose any patterns. And death always has the final say, and it says the same thing to everyone. At this stage Job’s realistic observations come close to those of the Preacher (Eccl. 2:14; etc.). Rowley sums it up well: ‘In life no moral differences explain their diversity of fortune; in death as little do they explain their common fate’ (p. 189).

a. (:23-25) Contrast of Two Possible Conditions in Life

1) (:23-24) Fortunate — Enjoyment and Satisfaction

“One dies in his full strength,

Being wholly at ease and satisfied;

24 His sides are filled out with fat,

And the marrow of his bones is moist,”

2) (:25) Unfortunate — Bitterness and Deprivation

“While another dies with a bitter soul,

Never even tasting anything good.”

b. (:26) Commonality of Identical Outcome in Death

“Together they lie down in the dust,

And worms cover them.”

Tremper Longman: the point seems to be that there is no connection between how one lives life, or how one relates to God, and the quality of one’s life and death. In this way, Job’s observation is the same as Qohelet’s: “Everything is the same for everybody: there is one fate for the righteous and the wicked and for the clean and the unclean, and for the one who sacrifices and for the one who does not sacrifice; as it is for the good, so it is for the sinner; as it is for the one who swears, so it is for the one who is afraid to swear” (Eccles. 9:2). To Job and to Qohelet, this reality means that there is no justice in the world or with God.

John Hartley: These two types of people are not classified as good and bad, righteous and wicked, but as fortunate and unfortunate, regardless of their moral character. Even though on earth they are members of widely different classes, in death they are on the same level. They lie in the dust side by side and worms cover both of them. Death makes no distinction based on the nature of their earthly existence. The rewards enjoyed by the healthy person melt into nothingness (cf. Isa. 14:11), and the ill-fate of the other person has no further ill-consequences. Therefore, Job finds that the postulate of the doctrine of retribution—that the evildoer, though prosperous for a while, receives his just reward in death—fails to withstand scrutiny. Moreover, Job is reasoning that tragedy has been his fate regardless of his faithful adherence to God’s way. That is, the validity of his moral integrity stands apart from his tragic circumstances. If that is true, his case must be tried on grounds other than the appearance of his afflicted body. Such is the search Job has undertaken.

2. (:27-33) No Denying the Counter Examples of the Prosperity of the Wicked

Tremper Longman: Job then turns his attention directly to his friends with whom he is debating. He informs them that he is aware that their intentions are not to console, but to harm. They are plotting to do him in.

David Clines: In his assault on the doctrine of retribution Job has now argued

– that the wicked do not live unhappy lives, as the doctrine teaches (vv 7–13),

– that their godlessness goes unpunished (vv 14–18),

– that the apparent invalidity of the doctrine of retribution cannot be evaded by arguing that it is the descendants of the evildoer who suffer (vv 19–21),

– and that even if the doctrine were true it would be irrelevant to most of human life, since everyone has a common fate in death (vv 22–26).

– Now he asks where the evidence comes from for this traditional doctrine, and whether the testimony of those with experience of life does not point altogether in the opposite direction.

a. (:27-28) Demand for Empirical Examples of the Prosperity of the Wicked

“Behold, I know your thoughts,

And the plans by which you would wrong me.

28 For you say, ‘Where is the house of the nobleman,

And where is the tent, the dwelling places of the wicked?’”

Tremper Longman: The implication is that they are asking for empirical proof for his arguments: “Show us the house of the wicked!” The friends have claimed that the house, property, and wealth of the wicked are ephemeral at best (Zophar in 20:4–29). So, they ask, show us an example of a wicked person who prospers.

Job responds by saying that the examples are obvious and known by all. Just ask those “who pass by on the road,” roughly equivalent to our expression, “Ask the person on the street.” Don’t they see it? It is obvious.

David Guzik: Both Job and his friends didn’t understand God’s ways. Yet there were two significant differences between Job and his friends. First, his friends confidently claimed that they did understand, while Job admitted his perplexity. Second, for Job’s friends, these were matters of theological and moral theory and interesting topics for discussion; for the severely suffering Job, these were life-and-death questions.

John Hartley: By their schemes Job has in mind more intricate arguments designed to discredit his argument further. Job thus charges his friends with using their shrewdest reasoning to harm rather than to help him.

b. (:29) Depositions from Qualified Witnesses

“Have you not asked wayfaring men,

And do you not recognize their witness?”

Francis Andersen: Zophar had airily appealed to universal knowledge (20:4). Job retorts that he cannot have been around much. Any traveler could tell him that things are just the opposite of what he says.

John Hartley: These passersby are wayfarers who have the opportunity to observe many situations in various lands (cf. Lam. 1:12; 2:15; Ps. 80:13 [Eng. 12]). As they travel about they relate the unusual things they have seen. Their wide experience offers them a broad perspective on the general state of human affairs. Perhaps Job has a tolerant attitude toward the information given by travelers, as is found in Ben Sira: “A much traveled man knows many things” (Sir. 34:9a, JB). Previously Eliphaz had rejected the idea that strangers could give any information to the truly wise (15:18–19), but Job is renouncing such a position as myopic thinking intended to protect his theology from being challenged by any evidence to the contrary. The testimony from travelers, however, will confirm that affairs are just as Job has described them, particularly regarding the prosperous wicked. These travelers have observed that the evil man is spared in the day of calamity [ʾêḏ], known also as the day of wrath (ʿaḇārôṯ). Job is saying that travelers have seen the houses of the noble wicked still standing after a natural disaster.

c. (:30-33) Demonstrations Disproving Doctrine of Retribution

1) (:30-31) No Observable Accountability in This Life

“For the wicked is reserved for the day of calamity;

They will be led forth at the day of fury.

Who will confront him with his actions,

And who will repay him for what he has done?”

Tremper Longman: In v. 30 he again states the obvious (at least to him): evil people are spared calamity. They are not recipients of divine wrath; they are kept safe. The world is topsy-turvy. No one, neither God nor people, confronts them with their evil ways (v. 31a). And certainly no one, again neither God nor people, punishes them for what they have done (v. 31b).

John Hartley: vv. 31-33 — Continuing with a double rhetorical question, Job claims that when such an evil person vaunts himself or exercises his authority, no one is brave enough to withstand that person to his face. God has not established any authority on earth powerful enough to repay such an evildoer for what he has done. As a result, when he dies he is given a dignified burial, even though he has lived his life as wantonly as he pleased. With great pomp he is borne to the cemetery and interred in a beautiful sepulcher. An honorable funeral was one of the highest honors a community could pay its most respected citizens. Over his tomb (gāḏîš) a servant keeps watch (šāqaḏ), i.e., in the succeeding years that servant tends the yard and protects the sepulcher from damage. He also takes care of the rites honoring the deceased. In many ancient Near Eastern countries the rich made endowments to ensure the proper care of their tombs. This custom was designed to guarantee the continuation of the honor of the deceased. The tomb here is pictured as being in a wadi. The caves along the walls of a dry riverbed offer excellent burial sites. There the clods that cover the dead person’s body are sweet, suggesting that their occupant rests in peace. His glorious grave honors him. This picture discounts the rhetoric of Bildad (18:13–21) and Zophar (20:20–29) about the woeful end of the wicked. Everyone in attendance at his funeral will eventually follow him in death, just as he has joined the countless number that have preceded him. In Job’s view “inequity obtains even in death” (Habel, OTL). Thus Job rejects the corollary of the doctrine of retribution that death preempts the joys and successes of the wicked.

2) (:32-33) No Dishonor in Burial

“While he is carried to the grave,

Men will keep watch over his tomb.

The clods of the valley will gently cover him;

Moreover, all men will follow after him,

While countless ones go before him.”

Francis Andersen: Far from an ignominious death, with no memorial (Bildad in chapter 18, Zophar in chapter 20), the wicked ends his life with a flourish: a sumptuous funeral, accompanied by vast crowds, a lavish tomb, all the marks of honour and respect.

Tremper Longman: Verses 32–33 again emphasize that even the death of wicked people is blessed. They are cared for in death, buried, and watched over (a fact that aggravates Qohelet; Eccles. 8:10). They are happy in their burial, and they are surrounded by people who come out to their grave and pay their respects.

3. (:34) Mike Drop = Counsel of the Mockers Has Been Refuted

“How then will you vainly comfort me,

For your answers remain full of falsehood?”

Francis Andersen: In a parting shot (21:34) Job says that their words are empty and false. They can keep on mocking if they like (verse 3b), for that is what their comfort amounts to.