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87. Job 8:21-22, Bildad’s Final Words

21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter,
    and your lips with shouts of joy.
22 Those who hate you will be clothed with shame,
    and the tent of the wicked will be no more.”

 

Perhaps perceiving that he is now on a roll, Bildad then reaches for the skies in verse 21, “Until he (God) fills your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of victory.” Laughter here is the noun sechoq, but we easily see its derivation from the verb sachaq which was a centerpiece of Eliphaz’s hopeful statement in 5:22, where Job would “laugh” at destruction and famine. Now Job will laugh at unspecified things. How either Eliphaz or Bildad imagines a massive reversal of Job’s situation so that laughter will return is anyone’s guess. Sometimes, though, speakers can get so carried away with their own eloquence or ideas that they can imagine perfectly wonderful things that have no relationship to current reality.   

 

Bildad posits not just laughter but also teruah, which I render as a “shout of victory.”  Teruah derives from the verb rua, which describes a shout of the people or a blast of a trumpet. That same duality is maintained and even expanded in the noun, which can signify the summoning of a congregation or the breaking up of camp (Numbers 10), a shout of military victory (Joshua 6:5, 20) or the shout of joy of the people in worship (Psalm 27:6). So striking shall be Job’s reversal that his mouth will be filled with laughter and his lips with shouts of joy.The Psalmist echoes this thought in 126:1-2,

 

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, 

we were like those who dreamed.

Then our mouths (peh) were filled (male) with laughter (sechoq)

And our tongue with shouts of joy (rinnah).”  

 

Bildad also uses peh, male, sechoq in 8:21, though he chose “lips” for “tongue” and used a different word for shout of joy. Yet his thought universe in 8:21 is identical with that of Psalm 126:1-2.   

 

Bildad finishes his thoughts with six well-chosen words that probably give us more specific information on judgment than his seven labored verses in 13-19. “Those who hate you will wear the clothing (labash) of shame (bosheth); and the tent (ohel) of the wicked will be no more (eyneynu).” By using the verb “clothed” (labash 110x), Bildad echoes Job’s use of the verb in 7:5. There, in his piteous lament, Job had talked about this flesh being caked/clothed (labash) with worms. Bildad, in contrast, sees Job’s enemies being clothed in shame. ‘Different clothes, Job.’ The enemies will be the ones really wearing the itchy garments.  

 

The notion of enemies or others being clothed with shame echoes the thought in Psalm 109:29, “Let my adversaries be clothed (labash) with insults and let them cover their shame (bosheth) as with a mantle.” Bildad seems to return to planet Earth in his words when he is not plowing fresh literary ground.   

 

He concludes with the idea that the “tent” (ohel) of the wicked will come to nothing (eynenu). Bildad is indebted to others for both ends of this clear thought. Eliphaz had spoken in glowing terms about how Job’s “tent” (ohel) would be secure in the future (5:24); Bildad is merely echoing that idea. But, as hinted at above, the more interesting imitation is in the last words, “will be no more.” Job was almost certain that the last word of his life had already been spoken. God would seek him out, but he would be no more (7:21, eyneyni).  But Bildad affirms, in fact, that it is the wicked who will “be no more” (eyneynu). When Bildad is copying others’ words he isn’t such a bad guy. But when his desire for systematization takes over, look out. Even Job’s children have sinned!