Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Job 21:33

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him - Perhaps there is an allusion here to the Asiatic mode of interment for princes, saints, and nobles: a well-watered valley was chosen for the tomb, where a perpetual spring might be secured. This was intended to be the emblem of a resurrection, or of a future life; and to conceal as much as possible the disgrace of the rotting carcass.

Every man shall draw after him - There seem to be two allusions intended here:

  1. To death, the common lot of all. Millions have gone before him to the tomb; and אדם כל col adam, all men, shall follow him: all past generations have died, all succeeding generations shall die also.

2. To pompous funeral processions; multitudes preceding, and multitudes following, the corpse.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him - That is, he shall lie as calmly as others in the grave. The language here is taken from that delusion of which we all partake when we reflect on death. We think of “ourselves” in the grave, and it is almost impossible to divest our minds of the idea, that we shall be conscious there, and be capable of understanding our condition. The idea here is, that the person who was thus buried, might be sensible of the quiet of his abode, and enjoy, in some measure, the honors of the beautiful or splendid tomb, in which he was buried, and the anxious care of his friends. So we “think” of our friends, though we do not often “express” it. The dear child that is placed in the dark vault, or that is covered up in the ground - we feel as if we could not have him there. We insensibly shudder, as if “he” might be conscious of the darkness and chilliness, and “a part” of our trial arises from this delusion. So felt the American savage - expressing the emotions of the heart, which, in other cases, are often concealed. “At the bottom of a grave, the melting snows had left a little water; and the sight of it chilled and saddened his imagination. ‹You have no compassion for my poor brother‘ - such was the reproach of an Algonquin - ‹the air is pleasant, and the sun so cheering, and yet you do not remove the snow from the grave, to warm him a little,‘ and he knew no contentment until it was done.” - Bancroft‘s History, U. S. iii. 294,295. The same feeling is expressed by Fingal over the grave of Gaul:

Prepare, ye children of musical strings,

The bed of Gaul, and his sun-beam by him;

Where may be seen his resting place from afar

Which branches high overshadow,

Under the wing of the oak of greenest flourish,

Of quickest growth, and most durable form,

Which will shoot forth its leaves to the breeze of the shower,

While the heath around is still withered.

Its leaves, from the extremity of the land,

Shall be seen by the birds in Summer;

And each bird shall perch, as it arrives,

On a sprig of its verdant branch;

Gaul in this mist shall hear the cheerful note,

While the virgins are singing of Evirchoma.

Thus, also, Knolles (History of the Turks, p. 332) remarks of the Sultan Muted II, that “after his death, his son raised the siege, and returned back to Adrianople. He caused the dead to be buried with great solemnity in the Western suburbs of Broosa, in a chapel without a roof, in accordance with the express desire of the Sultan, in order that the mercy and blessing of God might descend on him, that the sun and the moon might shine on his grave, and the rain and the dew of heaven fall upon it.” Rosenmuller‘s Alte u. neue Morgenland, “in loc.” The word “clods” here, is rendered “stones” by Prof. Lee, but the more general interpretation is that of “sods,” or “clods.” The word is used only here, and in Job 38:38, where it is also rendered clods. The word “valley” (נחל nachal ) means usually a stream, brook, or rivulet, and then a valley where such a brook runs. Notes Job 6:15. It is not improbable that such valleys were chosen as burial places, from the custom of planting shrubs and flowers around a grave, because they would flourish best there. The valley of Jehoshaphat, near Jerusalem, was long occupied as a burial place.

And every man shall draw after him - Some suppose that this means, that he shall share the common lot of mortals - that innumerable multitudes have gone there before him - and that succeeding generations shall follow to the same place appointed for all the living. “Noyes.” Others, however, suppose that this refers to a funeral procession and that the meaning is, that all the world is drawn out after him, and that an innumerable multitude precedes him when he is buried. Others, again, suppose it means, that his example shall attract many to follow and adopt his practices, as many have done before him in imitating similar characters. “Lee.” It is clear, that there is some notion of honor, respect, or pomp in the language; and it seems to me more likely that the meaning is, that he would draw out every body to go to the place where he was buried, that they might look on it, and thus honor him. What multitudes would go to look on the grave of Alexander the Great! How many have gone to look on the place where Caesar fell! How many have gone, and will go, to look on the place where Nelson or Napoleon is buried! This, I think, is the idea here, that the man who should thus die, would draw great numbers to the place where he was buried, and that before him, or in his presence, there was an innumerable multitude, so greatly would he be honored.

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.