5 "Surely the light of the wicked is put out, and the flame of their fire does not shine. 6 The light is dark in their tent, and the lamp above them is put out. 7 Their strong steps are shortened, and their own schemes throw them down. 8 For they are thrust into a net by their own feet, and they walk into a pitfall. 9 A trap seizes them by the heel; a snare lays hold of them. 10 A rope is hid for them in the ground, a trap for them in the path.
11 Terrors frighten them on every side, and chase them at their heels. 12 Their strength is consumed by hunger, and calamity is ready for their stumbling. 13 By disease their skin is consumed, the firstborn of Death consumes their limbs. 14 They are torn from the tent in which they trusted, and are brought to the king of terrors. 15 In their tents nothing remains; sulfur is scattered upon their habitations. 16 Their roots dry up beneath, and their branches wither above. 17 Their memory perishes from the earth, and they have no name in the street. 18 They are thrust from light into darkness, and driven out of the world. 19 They have no offspring or descendant among their people, and no survivor where they used to live. 20 They of the west are appalled at their fate, and horror seizes those of the east. 21 Surely such are the dwellings of the ungodly, such is the place of those who do not know God."
A. What kind of a person is it who divides the world between the good and the wicked? Do you tend to do this? What categories do you use in dividing/defining the world?
B. Why do you think that Bildad spends so much time dilating on the fate of the wicked? Has there been anything in Job's speeches that would lead him to do so?
C. How important is it to you to have an overall philosophy of life--whether or not it is to put people in categories such as good and wicked?
D. I think it is significant that Bildad has quoted Job's line from 14:18 in 18:4. One way to look at the rest of Bildad's speech is as an exposition of how people (i.e., the wicked) crumble. Thus, this theory would show Bildad's indebtedness to Job's way of framing things, except that Job talks about the collapse of human hope, while Bildad only stresses the collapse of the wicked. How might 18:5-21 be an exposition of or midrash upon 18:4c?
E. Let's take the images one by one now. First is the picture of light going out (vv.5-6). Note that Job had said the same thing about himself in 16:16 and 17:7. Is Bildad obliquely or explicitly referring to Job?
F. The second image emphasizes arrested movement, especially being caught in a net or a trap (vv.7-10). Bildad uses six words for "trap" here; we don't even know what kind of traps he has in mind, since we don't know the ancient culture well enough to understand what all the words mean. What kind of person has at his fingertips that many words for a trap or snare?
G. The third image is a very powerful one of consumption by disease or hunger (vv.11-13). Terrors stalk the steps of the wicked, and hunger and disease consume them. Restudy the language of Job's consumption and weakness in Job 7 and 16. Any echoes of Job's experience in Bildad's language?
H. Fourth is an image of being torn away from one's home (vv.14-15). Three things should be mentioned. First is their passivity in the process--they are "torn" from their homes. Second, they are brought to the "king of terror," a phrase of such rich resonance that Clines thinks it would be a "crime" to change the phrase. What are the monarchs of terror in our own life to which we are brought? Third, sulphur is scattered on the tent. In antiquity this was done to make the place uninhabitable. What is Bildad trying to say through this image?
I. Fifth is the image of dessication or drying up (vv.16-19). How does that image function in Bildad's catalogue of horrors? Why might it be an especially strong picture for Job? Is the phrase "they have no offspring" a deliberate cut against Job?
J. The last two verses are a summary of the whole. Everyone just gapes in amazement at the wicked one. No one offers to help, apparently. What is your opinion of Bildad after this speech?