Job 18, Exegetical Notes from Abner Chou

Bildad begins his response within the second (modernistic) round of debate, appealing, as always, to nature for his reason.

Job 18:2

Bildad is calling Job out for trying to set a trap with his words for the other debaters.

Job 18:3

Bildad asks Job why he thinks they are cows (same word as Job uses earlier—Job 5:22, 12:7—and later—Job 40:15—for “Behemoth”), because he says Job is a cow too. But Job is trying to distance himself from them to hold himself as an exception to the closed system they believe in.

Job 18:4

“Tear” is commonly used not for people but for animals. Job in his anger, to Bildad, looks like an animal. Bildad’s point is that Job is part of the closed system, just like the animals. He says Do you think you’re so exceptional that the world revolves around you? The irony is, the world doesn’t, but God is doing a ton of supernatural activity just for Job. Bildad is correct and incorrect at the same time.

Job 18:5-6

Same old imagery: lights and flames. But think. Bildad is the science guy. He draws lessons from nature. His point is, life always burns out, just like all lights on earth do.

Job 18:7

Man’s life is shortened because his own schemes bring him down. The wicked man’s sin will find him out. His plans backfire. This is the way science thinks; it draws hasty conclusions from the assumption of a closed system.

Job 18:8

He falls into his own trap…sounds like Job 18:2. Job sets traps, and so do the wicked—who inevitably fall into their own traps. The fact that Job is fighting against Bildad is Bildad’s proof that Job’s own traps have trapped him.

Job 18:9

The trap is effective; the trap-setter was brilliant! But…

Job 18:10

But he’s too smart for his own good. His trap is so hidden he falls into it himself. He outsmarts himself; that’s what a wicked man does…or so says Bildad. Man himself can’t sustain the whole system himself. So just like light, the system is doomed to collapse.

Job 18:12

It consumes him.

Job 18:13

It kills him. It’s a chain-reaction. Just like Job’s life.

Job 18:14

“King of terrors” is a reference to the underworld. Bildad is saying This is what will happen to you, Job, if you don’t repent. These are the domino effects.

Job 18:15

There is no reversal. His tent is empty.

Job 18:16

His root is dried up, which means there’s no hope at all, even down at the bottom of things.

Job 18:17

People won’t even remember you, Job.

Job 18:18

Here he gives the first consequence: the permanence of the supernatural afterlife.

Job 18:19

That permanence is reflected in regular life too. His children are gone and his line is wiped out. This is the chain reaction for the wicked.

Job 18:20

All they’ll remember is your godlessness.

Job 18:21

Bildad says, This is exactly how the wicked get to be where they are, Job. I’m showing you how nature works, step by step by step, and you can’t get out of that.

But Bildad doesn’t know that it can. That’s what Job hopes for: that Bildad’s logic, which makes sense from a secular point of view, isn’t the final answer. Bildad is very deterministic, and therefore his view has little-to-no hope. But Job has hope.