Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Job 21:32

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Yet shall he be brought to the grave - He shall die like other men; and the corruption of the grave shall prey upon him. Mr. Carlyle, in his specimens of Arabic poetry, Translations, p. 16, quotes this verse, which he translates and paraphrases, יובל לקברות והוא "He shall be brought to the grave," ישקוד גדוש ועל And shall watch upon the high-raised heap." It was the opinion of the pagan Arabs, that upon the death of any person, a bird, by them called Manah, issued from the brain, and haunted the sepulcher of the deceased, uttering a lamentable scream.

This notion, he adds, is evidently alluded to in Job 21:32. Thus Abusahel, on the death of his mistress: -

"If her ghost's funereal screech

Through the earth my grave should reach,

On that voice I loved so well

My transported ghost would dwell."

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Yet shall he be brought to the grave - Margin, “graves.” That is, he is brought with honor and prosperity to the grave. He is not cut down by manifest divine displeasure for his sins. He is conducted to the grave as other people are, not withstanding his enormous wickedness. The “object” of this is clearly to state that he would not be overwhelmed with calamity, as the friends of Job had maintained, and that nothing could be determined in regard to his character from the divine dealings toward him in this life.

And shall remain in the tomb - Margin, “watch in the heap.” The marginal reading does not make sense, though it seems to be an exact translation of the Hebrew. Noyes renders it, “Yet he still survives upon his tomb.” Prof. Lee, “For the tomb was he watchful;” that is, his anxiety was to have an honored and a splendid burial. Wemyss, “They watch over his tomb;” that is, he is honored in his death, and his friends visit his tomb with affectionate solicitude, and keep watch over his grave. So Dr. Good renders it. Jerome translates it; “et in congerie mortuorum vigilabit.” The Septuagint, “And he shall be borne to the graves, and he shall watch over the tombs;” or, he shall cause a watch to be kept over his tomb - ἐπὶ σωρῶν ἠγρύπνησεν epi sōrōn ēgrupnēsen Amidst this variety of interpretation, it is not easy to determine the true sense of the passage. The “general” meaning is not difficult.

It is, that he should be honored even in his death; that he would live in prosperity, and be buried with magnificence. There would be nothing in his death or burial which would certainly show that God regarded him as a wicked man. But there is considerable difficulty in determining the exact sense of the original words. The word rendered “tomb” in the text and “heap” in the margin (גדישׁ gâdı̂ysh ) occurs only in the following places, Exodus 22:6; Job 5:26; Judges 15:5, where it is rendered “a shock of corn,” and in this place. The “verb” in the Syriac, Arabic, and in Chaldee, means “to heap up” (see Castell), and the noun may denote, therefore, a stack, or a heap, of grain, or a tomb, that was made by a pile of earth, or stones. The ancient “tumuli” were there heaps of earth or stone, and probably such a pile was made usually over a grave as a monument. On the meaning of the word used here, the reader may consult Bochart, Hieroz. P. i.

L. iii. c. xiii. p. 853. There can be little doubt that it here means a tomb, or a monument raised over a tomb. There is more difficulty about the word rendered “shall remain” (ישׁקוד yı̂shqôd ). This properly means, to wake, to be watchful, to be sleepless. So the Chaldee שקד, and the Arabic “dakash ” The verb is commonly rendered in the Scriptures, “watch,” or “waketh.” See Psalm 127:1 ; Psalm 102:7; Jeremiah 31:28; Jeremiah 1:12; Jeremiah 5:6; Jeremiah 44:27; Isaiah 29:20; Ezra 8:29; Daniel 9:14. There is usually in the word the notion of “watching,” with a view to guarding, or protecting, as when one watches a vineyard, a house, or other property. The sense here is, probably, that his tomb should be carefully “watched” by friends, and the verb is probably taken impersonally, or used to denote that “someone” would watch over his grave. This might be either as a proof of affection, or to keep it in repair. One of the most painful ideas might have been then, as it is now among American savages (Bancroft‘s History of the United States, vol. iii. p. 299), that of having the grave left or violated, and it may have been regarded as a special honor to have had friends, who would come and watch over their sepulchre.

According to this view, the meaning is, that the wicked man was often honorably buried; that a monument was reared to his memory; and that every mark of attention was paid to him after he was dead. Numbers followed him to his burial, and friends came and wept with affection around his tomb. The argument of Job is, that there was no such distinction between the lives and death of the righteous and the wicked as to make it possible to determine the character; and is it not so still? The wicked man often dies in a palace, and with all the comforts that every clime can furnish to alleviate his pain, and to soothe him in his dying moments. He lies upon a bed of down; friends attend him with unwearied care; the skill of medicine is exhausted to restore him, and there is every indication of grief at his death. So, in the place of his burial, a monument of finest marble, sculptured with all the skill of art, is reared over his grave. An inscription, beautiful as taste can make it, proclaims his virtues to the traveler and the stranger. Friends go and plant roses over his grave, that breathe forth their odors around the spot where he lies. Who, from the dying scene, the funeral, the monument, the attendants, would suppose that he was a man whom God abhorred, and whose soul was already in hell? This is the argument of Job, and of its solidity no one can doubt.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Job opposes the opinion of his friends, That the wicked are sure to fall into visible and remarkable ruin, and none but the wicked; upon which principle they condemned Job as wicked. Turn to whom you will, you will find that the punishment of sinners is designed more for the other world than for this, Jude 1:14,15. The sinner is here supposed to live in a great deal of power. The sinner shall have a splendid funeral: a poor thing for any man to be proud of the prospect of. He shall have a stately monument. And a valley with springs of water to keep the turf green, was accounted an honourable burial place among eastern people; but such things are vain distinctions. Death closes his prosperity. It is but a poor encouragement to die, that others have died before us. That which makes a man die with true courage, is, with faith to remember that Jesus Christ died and was laid in the grave, not only before us, but for us. That He hath gone before us, and died for us, who is alive and liveth for us, is true consolation in the hour of death.