The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Job 20

Job 20:1

Job 20: "Zophar replies to the second test experienced by the patient Job, claiming that any seeming prosperity is short-lived. It is more harsh than the first reply (Job 11). He adds coarseness and rudeness to his previous hostility (Job 20:7,15). Roused by the closing warning of Job (Job 19:28,29; cp Job 20:2,3), his discourse is a covert denunciation of Job as a wicked hypocrite (vv 5,12,19,29), deservedly punished by God. He predicts the violent death of Job and the ultimate manifestation of heaven and earth in witness against him (vv 24-28). So Zophar expounds: [1] Job's rebuke causes Zophar's anger: vv 1-3. [2] The prosperity of the wicked is short-lived: vv 4-9. [3] The calamities experienced by the wicked: vv 10-28. [4] These calamities represent divine judgment: v 29.

"Zophar's reply is a vicious attack on Job personally (vv 6,7,20-29), and typifies the wicked criticism of the Lord Jesus by the Pharisees. The serpent used its tongue to attack Adam and Eve in the beginning, and now the same characteristic is used by Zophar (v 16) against Job. The serpent uses its tongue to track, on the surface of the earth, the scent of mice or various prey. In Zophar's argument, the serpent revived, and endeavoured to track the innocent Job in his sad circumstances. The serpent lives on in all who act similarly" (GEM).

Vv 1-3: An exasperated Zophar hastens to reply.

Job 20:7

HE SHALL PERISH... LIKE HIS OWN DUNG: A figure which tells us as much of Zophar's coarseness as it does of the wicked's fate.

Job 20:10

His posterity, poorer than the poor.

Job 20:12

Vv 12-29: Zophar seems to picture Job as a serpent, swallowing up his prey and producing the venom of snakes! His commentary on Gen 3:15.

HE HIDES IT UNDER HIS TONGUE: Job is pictured as an "epicure", savoring the last taste of his ill-gotten gains (v 15).

Job 20:16

ADDER: "Ephgeh" (see Isa 51:5n).

Job 20:23

GOD: No name of God in the original.

Job 20:26

A FIRE UNFANNED: A punishing fire not started by man (ie started by God). (Cp usage: "an altar not made with hands": Heb 9:11; 2Co 5:1.)

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