What is the hope of the hypocrite - The word חנף chaneph, which we translate, most improperly, hypocrite, means a wicked fellow, a defiled, polluted wretch, a rascal, a knave, a man who sticks at nothing in order to gain his ends. In this verse it means a dishonest man, a rogue, who by overreaching, cheating, etc., has amassed a fortune.
When God taketh away his soul? - Could he have had any well grounded hope of eternal blessedness when he was acquiring earthly property by guilt and deceit? And of what avail will this property be when his soul is summoned before the judgment-seat? A righteous man yields up his soul to God; the wicked does not, because he is afraid of God, of death, and of eternity. God therefore takes the soul away - forces it out of the body. Mr. Blair gives us an affecting picture of the death of a wicked man. Though well known, I shall insert it as a striking comment on this passage: -
"How shocking must thy summons be, O death!
To him that is at ease in his possessions;
Who, counting on long years of pleasures here;
Is quite unfurnished for that world to come!
In that dread moment how the frantic soul
Raves round the walls of her clay tenement;
Runs to each avenue, and shrieks for help,
But shrieks in vain! How wishfully she looks
On all she's leaving, now no longer hers!
A little longer, yet a little longer,
O, might she stay, to wash away her stains,
And fit her for her passage! Mournful sight!
Her very eyes weep blood; and every groan
She heaves is big with horror. But the foe,
Like a stanch murderer, steady to his purpose,
Pursues her close, through every lane of life,
Nor misses once the track, but presses on;
Till, forced at last to the tremendous verge,
At once she sinks to everlasting ruin."
The Chaldee has, What can the detractor expect who has gathered together (דשקר ממון mamon dishkar, the mammon of unrighteousness) when God plucks out his soul? The Septuagint: Τις γαρ εστιν ετι ελπις ασεβει, ὁτι επεχει; Μη πεποιθως επι Κυριον ει αρα σωθησεται ; "For what is the hope of the ungodly that he should wait for? shall he, by hoping in the Lord, be therefore saved?" Mr. Good translates differently from all the versions: -
"Yet what is the hope of the wicked that he should prosper,
That God should keep his soul in quiet?"
I believe our version gives as true a sense as any; and the words appear to have been in the eye of our Lord, when he said, "For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:26.
For what is the hope of the hypocrite? - The same sentiment which Job here advances had before been expressed by Bildad; see it explained in the notes at Job 8:13 following It had also been expressed in a similar manner by Zophar (see the notes on Job 20:5, and had been much insisted on in their arguments. Job now says that he fully accords with that belief. He was not disposed to defend hypocrisy; he had no sympathy for it. He knew, as they did, that all the joy of a hypocrite would be temporary, and that when death came it must vanish. He wishes that his remarks should not be construed so as to make him the advocate of hypocrisy or sin, and affirms that he relied on a more solid foundation of peace and joy than the hypocrite could possess. It was by explanations and admissions such as these that the controversy was gradually closed, and when they came fully to understand Job, they felt that they had nothing which they could reply to him.
Though he hath gained - - יבצע yı̂bâtsa‛ The Vulgate renders this, si avare rapiat - “if he avariciously seizes upon.” The Septuagint, ὅτι hoti ἐπἐχει epechei that he persisteth. Dr. Good, “That he should prosper;” and so Wemyss. The Hebrew word (בצע bâtsa‛ ) means properly, to cut or dash in pieces; then to tear in pieces, or to plunder or spoil; then to cut off, to bring to an end, etc. It is applied to the action of a weaver, who, when his web is finished, cuts off the thrum that binds it to the beam. The web is then finished; it is all woven, and is then taken from the loom. Hence, it is elegantly used to denote the close of life, when life is woven or finished - by the rapid passing of days like the weavers shuttle Job 7:6, and when it is then, as it were, taken out of the loom; see this figure explained in the notes at Isaiah 38:12. This is the idea here, that life would be cut off like the weaver‘s web, and that when that was done the hope of the hypocrite would be of no value.
When God taketh away his soul - When he dies. There has been much perplexity felt in regard to the Hebrew word here rendered “taketh away” - ישׁל yēshel A full explanation may be seen in Schultens and Rosenmuller. Some suppose it is the future from נשל for ישל - meaning to draw out, and that the idea is, that God draws out this life as a sword is drawn out of a sheath. Others, that it is from שלה - to be secure, or tranquil, or at rest: and that it refers to the time when God shall give rest in the grave, or that the meaning of the word שלה here is the same as שלל or נשל - to draw out; see Gesenius on the word שלה. Schnurrer conjectures that it is derived from שאל - to ask, to demand, and that the form here is contracted from the future ישאל . But the common supposition is, that it means to draw out - in allusion to drawing out a sword from a scabbard - thus drawing life or the soul from the body.