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JOB 14


Job Speaks of the Finality of Death   Reply of Job

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



A. Job 14 starts out with a strophe on the omnipotence of God (Job 14:3,5) and the frailty of mankind. Both of these being true, it is surprising how much time and effort God spends on mankind!


B. The second strophe asserts there is no hope for a dead person. Trees can regenerate but not humans.

This chapter vacillates between hope and despair. Job wants to have hope but current reality mitigates against it!


C. The third strophe has often been quoted as a text on the hope of resurrection but the fourth strophe (Job 14:18-22, esp. 19c) shows the "if" is wishful thinking here. However, Job continues to hope and believe, cf. Job 19:23-27. Job is trusting in God's "longing" (Job 14:15b) for fellowship with His human creation! There is no sinless human (Job 14:3-4) but there is hope in a merciful Creator!



 1"Man, who is born of woman,
 Is short-lived and full of turmoil.
 2Like a flower he comes forth and withers.
 He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.
 3You also open Your eyes on him
 And bring him into judgment with Yourself.
 4Who can make the clean out of the unclean?
 No one!
 5Since his days are determined,
 The number of his months is with You;
 And his limits You have set so that he cannot pass.
 6Turn Your gaze from him that he may rest,
 Until he fulfills his day like a hired man."

14:1 This describes our human condition in the world (cf. Job 5:7; 7:1-6). Job does not theologically develop the consequences of human sin (Genesis 3) as the NT does (Rom. 1:18-3:18,23). He just knows by experience the unfairness of this life.

1. the innocent suffer

2. the wicked prosper

3. family and friends do not understand


▣ "turmoil" The Hebrew noun (BDB 919) is used mostly in Job.

1. Job 3:17 – the wicked cease raging

2. Job 3:26 – Job is in turmoil

3. Job 14:1 – all humans are in turmoil

4. Job 37:2 – description of God's voice

5. Job 39:24 – the raging of a war horse ready for battle


14:2 Human life in the physical realm is frail and fleeting. The author uses the imagery of

1. a flower, cf. Ps. 90:5,6; 102:11; 103:15; Isa. 40:6,7; 1 Pet. 1:24

2. a shadow, cf. Job 8:9; Ps. 102:11; 109:23; 144:4; Eccl. 6:12

Number 1 is used several times for the fate of "the wicked" (cf. Job 18:16; 24:24; Ps. 37:2) but here of all humans.

14:3 God watches Job relentlessly and brings him (and all humans) into judgment (cf. Job 7:19; 9:18; 10:20; 14:6).

Job wants a hearing with the God of fairness and blessing that he had previously known, but now he feels this God is against him/after him. Job has become disillusioned about the character of God. He is now still drawn to Him but afraid of Him!


The UBS Text Project (p. 32) gives "me" a "C" rating (considerable doubt). The difference is

"me" – ואתי

"him" – ואתו


14:4 This is an affirmation of the sinfulness of all humans (see the summary texts in Gen. 6:5,11-12; Rom. 3:9-23). No human can stand before a holy God (cf. Job 4:17; 14:16-17; 15:14; 25:4).

The point is, if all are sinful, how can anyone be blessed? They cannot (cf. Job 9:2)!

Job 14:4 begins with the interrogative "who" (BDB 566), which is common in Job, denoting a wish/desire (cf. Job 6:8; 11:5; 13:5; 14:4,13; 19:23 [twice]; 23:3; 29:2; 31:31,35).

▣ "No one!" The Aramaic Targums add, "but God" and the Vulgate has, "Is it not you, the only one?" Only God can deal with human sinfulness. And according to Job (cf. Job 14:6) God has chosen not to forgive him!

14:5 This emphasizes the sovereignty of God. Humans are completely under His direction (cf. Psalm 139). Job fully and completely believes in God's control (cf. Job 14:16-17).

The term "bounds" (BDB 349-350) is used often in Job. God sets the bounds (limits) of

1. a person's days – Job 14:5,13

2. a person's life – Job 23:14

3. the waters – Job 26:10; 38:10

4. the seasons – Job 28:26

5. the heavenly lights – Job 38:33


14:6 See note above at Job 14:3. The Qal imperative, "turn away your gaze," denotes an act of judgment (cf. Job 7:19; Isa. 22:4), not a gaze of fellowship nor for gaining information.

 7"For there is hope for a tree,
 When it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
 And its shoots will not fail.
 8Though its roots grow old in the ground
 And its stump dies in the dry soil,
 9At the scent of water it will flourish
 And put forth sprigs like a plant.
 10But man dies and lies prostrate.
 Man expires, and where is he?
 11As water evaporates from the sea,
 And a river becomes parched and dried up,
 12So man lies down and does not rise.
 Until the heavens are no longer,
 He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep."

14:7-12 See note in Contextual Insights, B. This discouraging strophe sets the theological stage for Job 14:14-17.

Once a person goes to Sheol (cf. Job 14:13)

1. he/she cannot return

2. there is no sound, no voices

3. there is consciousness but no joy, praise, hope

See SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead?

14:12 "Until the heavens are no longer" This is referring to this planet. See SPECIAL TOPIC: HEAVEN. Death is as permanent as creation!

▣ "awake. . .sleep" In the OT sleep is a euphemism for death. This is imagery not theology!

 13"Oh that You would hide me in Sheol,
 That You would conceal me until Your wrath returns to You,
 That You would set a limit for me and remember me!
 14If a man dies, will he live again?
 All the days of my struggle I will wait
 Until my change comes.
 15You will call, and I will answer You;
 You will long for the work of Your hands.
 16For now You number my steps,
 You do not observe my sin.
 17My transgression is sealed up in a bag,
 And You wrap up my iniquity."

14:13-17 This is a famous passage, especially Job 14:14. See note in Contextual Insights, C.

14:13 Job longs for death (cf. Job 3 and the last paragraph below). Here he wishes that he could hide in Sheol until God's wrath/displeasure runs its course (cf. Ps. 30:5; 103:9; Isa. 26:20; 57:16; Jer. 3:5,12; Mic. 7:18).

It is uncertain exactly what Job is asking for. Does he expect a new life in this world or the next (cf. Job 19:23-27)? There are hints at a meaningful afterlife in the Psalms (i.e., Ps. 16:10-11; 23:6; 27:4-6; 49:15; 86:13) and a specific reference in Dan. 12:1-3.

The word "change" (BDB 322, Job 14:14c) could refer to death (NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 156, #5).


14:14-15 This text holds out hope

1. of an afterlife or healing

2. of the patient waiting of faithful followers

3. of a "change" (lit. "the coming of my release")

4. that God will call to His faithful followers and they will respond

5. that God longs for fellowship with humans made in His image and likeness (cf. Gen. 1:26-27; 3:8)

But we must remember that this is the OT, not the NT! There is only a little hope here (cf. Job 14:19c-20). The rhetorical question of Job 14:14 in the MT expects a "no" answer!


NKJV"hard service"
TEV"time of trouble"
LXX"the days of his life"
Peshitta"days of his youth"
NAB"days of my drudgery"

The noun (BDB 838) usually means a war or warfare but in a few places it denotes service.

1. of Levites – Num. 4:3,23,30,35,39,43; 8:24,25

2. the hard service of a troubled life – Job 7:1; 14:14; Isa. 40:2


14:15 "longs for" This verb (BDB 493, KB 490, Qal imperfect) is found only twice in the Qal stem, here and Ps. 17:12. The Niphal stem is used once for a strong longing for God (cf. Ps. 84:2). In this passage in Job it seems the word is used of the desire that God will long for Job after he dies and is in Sheol.

14:17 Is this verse

1. an affirmation that God will forgive sin (parallel to Job 14:17, literally, "plaster over"; NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 324, #4) or

2. an assertion that all human sin will one day be adjudicated?

It is hard to answer this because the author swings back and forth between hope and despair in this chapter! However, the parallelism of Job 14:17 strongly suggests option #1.

 18"But the falling mountain crumbles away,
 And the rock moves from its place;
 19Water wears away stones,
 Its torrents wash away the dust of the earth;
 So You destroy man's hope.
 20You forever overpower him and he departs;
 You change his appearance and send him away.
 21His sons achieve honor, but he does not know it;
 Or they become insignificant, but he does not perceive it.
 22But his body pains him,
 And he mourns only for himself."

14:18-22 This is a pessimistic strophe, epitomized by Job 14:19c! Death is coming for all. There is no return from Sheol.

14:19 "torrents" This noun (BDB 705 I) occurs only here and refers to a violent rainstorm. Many scholars emend it to BDB 695, which also denotes a hard rain (cf. Pro. 28:3). For more lexical information see NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 280.

14:22 This verse seems out of place. It possibly is an initial response by the three friends to Job's speech in Job 12-14.


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Read the whole chapter and outline how Job moves between hope and despair.

2. How would you describe God's actions in Job 14:1-6?

3. Is Job 14:7-12 hope or despair?

4. Does Job 14:14 hope for a resurrection?

5. How does Job 14:19c affect Job 14:14?

6. Is Job 14:22 referring to Job? Who wrote it?


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