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JOB 18


Bildad Speaks of the Wicked Bildad: The Wicked Are Punished Second Discourse of Bildad Bildad The Inevitable Fate of the Wicked

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. This is Bildad's second response.


B. He is perplexed that the suffering Job is claiming innocence and wisdom, while experiencing such sickness and suffering. Bildad cannot accept

1. Job's innocence

2. an obvious violation of "the two ways" theology


C. Bildad describes, in vivid poetic imagery and parallelism, the fate of the wicked (i.e., in this life). He thinks the poetry refers to Job but Job asserts it refers to him!



  1Then Bildad the Shuhite responded,
 2"How long will you hunt for words?
  Show understanding and then we can talk.
  3Why are we regarded as beasts,
  As stupid in your eyes?
  4O you who tear yourself in your anger—
  For your sake is the earth to be abandoned,
  Or the rock to be moved from its place?"

18:2 This verse is ambiguous in Hebrew (i.e., notice the plural when the singular would be expected, see LXX and DSS), but the general sense is found in the TEV.

"Job, can't people like you ever be quiet?

If you stopped to listen, we could talk to you."

The MT, "set snares (BDB 890) for words," implies Job is trying to express himself cleverly and ignore his situation. This word is found only here in the OT. Jewish commentators took it as "end" (AB, p. 124; NET Bible, p. 802, #27), which follows DSS (11Qtg Job) and the LXX.

18:3 Bildad felt the sting of Job's words (i.e., Job 16:2; 17:10). Words can be like knives! Either Job is wrong or his three friends are wrong! Who is truly "wise"? Who truly knows God and His ways with humans?

▣ "stupid" This verb (BDB 380, KB 376, Niphal perfect) is found only here. KB suggests it should be translated "unclean." The LXX translates it as "silent" (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 376). This is followed by the NJB, which has "animals" in Job 18:3a and "brutes" in 18:3b.

18:4 Job's case is so disturbing because he does not fit the normal theology of "the two ways." Bildad asks Job if he is willing to destroy traditional thinking.

Wisdom Literature states general principles (see SPECIAL TOPIC: WISDOM LITERATURE) but Job's case is not covered. It is hard for humans to recognize that they do not fully understand the mysteries of fallen human existence. When we begin to think that our theology is God's theology, all humility and teachability is gone, only arrogance and dogmatism remain!

Job is living out his theology but they are simply mouthing theirs (i.e., the unalterable nature of "the two ways").

 5"Indeed, the light of the wicked goes out,
 And the flame of his fire gives no light.
 6The light in his tent is darkened,
 And his lamp goes out above him.
 7His vigorous stride is shortened,
 And his own scheme brings him down.
 8For he is thrown into the net by his own feet,
 And he steps on the webbing.
 9A snare seizes him by the heel,
 And a trap snaps shut on him.
 10A noose for him is hidden in the ground,
 And a trap for him on the path.
 11All around terrors frighten him,
 And harry him at every step.
 12His strength is famished,
 And calamity is ready at his side.
 13His skin is devoured by disease,
 The firstborn of death devours his limbs.
 14He is torn from the security of his tent,
 And they march him before the king of terrors.
 15There dwells in his tent nothing of his;
 Brimstone is scattered on his habitation.
 16His roots are dried below,
 And his branch is cut off above.
 17Memory of him perishes from the earth,
 And he has no name abroad.
 18He is driven from light into darkness,
 And chased from the inhabited world.
 19He has no offspring or posterity among his people,
 Nor any survivor where he sojourned.
 20Those in the west are appalled at his fate,
 And those in the east are seized with horror.
 21Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked,
 And this is the place of him who does not know God."

18:5-21 This extended strophe characterizes the plight of the godless, faithless person. Remember, Job is not part of the covenant people, but the later sage who wrote these dialogues assumed the covenant of Moses as the frame around the theology of the Edomites.

I will list the consequences of wickedness (cf. Job 18:21; 8:11-19; 15:20-35) in outline forms, but remember this tends to remove the powerful Semitic parallelism.

1. their light goes out, Job 18:5 (cf. Job 21:17; Pro. 13:9; 20:20; 24:20)

a. their understanding

b. their life (b. is more probable)

2. their tent is dark, Job 18:6 (possibly refers to descendants, cf. Job 18:16-17)

3. their vigor is reduced, Job 18:7a

4. their own schemes against others come back on them (i.e., OT reversals), Job 18:7b

5. Job 18:8 repeats the thought of #4

6. the imagery of Job 18:9 repeats that of #4

7. the hunting imagery of Job 18:8-10 continues

8. they are surrounded by fear and trembling, Job 18:11 (cf. Job 18:12b; 15:21,24)

9. their strength is gone, Job 18:12a (cf. contrast in 17:9)

10. they are diseased by "the King of Terrors" (a Ugaritic mythological allusion to Mot, AB, p. 126), Job 18:13-14

11. all their possessions are gone, Job 18:15

12. they are described as a dead plant, Job 18:16 (cf. Job 15:30; Ezek. 17:9; Hos. 9:16)

13. their memory perishes from the earth, Job. 18:17

14. they are driven from the land of the living to the land of the dead, Job 18:18

15. they have no posterity, Job 18:19 (same as #12)

16. they become a proverb of horror for all peoples, Job 18:20




The MT has "schemes" (BDB 420 I), but KB (KB 867) suggests there is another root which means "disobedience" or "rebellion" (NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 485). The verses used as evidence are Job 10:3; 12:13; 18:7; Ps. 13:2; 14:6; 106:43; Isa. 16:3; Hos. 10:6.

18:13a This is an obvious allusion to Job's condition. For the three friends, Job's disease and disasters clearly reveal that he is a wicked person! These kinds of things happen only to wicked people.

18:13b "the firstborn of death" This personification possibly refers to a demon. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE DEMONIC IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.

18:14 "king of terrors" Hebrew imagery has been affected by Ugaritic poetry (i.e., Ras Shamra Texts). This does not assert the validity of this mythology, just its powerful and well known imagery (cf. TEB). There are some hints of a king of the underworld in Job 15:21; 20:21; Ps. 49:14 (shepherd as a royal metaphor).

Death is often personified in the OT (cf. 2 Sam. 22:5,6; Ps. 7:13; 18:4; 116:3; Pro. 13:14; 14:27; Jer. 9:21; 18:21). This is imagery not mythology.

18:15a This line of poetry is ambiguous. There are three options.

1. It is imagery for the Mosaic curse that foreigners will occupy one's home and land.

2. ANE imagery of wild animals living in human ruins (they often denoted the demonic, cf. Isa. 13:21; 34:11-15).

3. Similar wording from Ugaritic may make Job 18:15a parallel to 18:15b by translating it as "fire resides in his tent" (UBS Handbook, p. 343, quoting Dahood's suggestion).


18:20 "in the west. . .in the east" This imagery could refer to

1. people who lived in different parts of the ANE (i.e., geography)

2. people who lived before and those who came after (i.e., time, cf. JPSOA, Peshitta)


18:21 This is a summary verse. Bildad means for it to apply to Job!

This general statement may explain the plural of Job 18:2a. Job is seen as part of a group (i.e., the wicked).

▣ "him who does not know God" See Special Topic: Know.


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. To what saying of Job is Bildad reacting in Job 18:3?

2. Explain Job 18:4 in your own words.

3. Who is "the firstborn of death" in Job 18:13?

4. Who is "the king of terrors" in Job 18:14?

5. To whom is Job 18:20 referring?


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