Job 14:7
For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
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Job 14:7-10. For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down — If the body of a tree be cut down, and only the stem or stump be left in the ground, yet there is hope; that it will sprout again — Hebrew, יחליŠ, jachalip, will yet renew itself, will revive and flourish as the spring comes on. Though the root wax old — Begin to wither and decay; and the stock thereof die — Namely, in outward appearance; yet, through the scent of water — By means of water; scent or smell being here figuratively ascribed to a tree. The moisture of the earth, and the rain of heaven, have sufficient influence upon it to revive it, and cause it to bud; and bring forth boughs like a plant — As if it were a tree newly planted. But man dieth and wasteth away — Man, though a far nobler creature, is in a much worse condition, as to this world, for when once he loseth his present life he never recovers it. Two words are here used for man, גבר, geber, a mighty man: though mighty, he dies: אדם, adam, a man of earth: being made of earth, he returns to it. He dieth and wasteth away: before death he is dying daily, continually wasting away; in death he gives up the ghost: the spirit leaves the body and returns to God, the Father of spirits, who gave it. After death, where is he? — Not where he was; his place knows him no more: his body, all that is visible of him, is rotting away in the grave. But where is the thinking, intelligent principle, the self-conscious being, the proper man? Is this nowhere? Yes, it is somewhere; and it is a very awful consideration to think where they are that have given up the ghost, and where we shall be when we give it up. It is gone into the world of spirits; gone into eternity, gone to return no more to this world.

14:7-15 Though a tree is cut down, yet, in a moist situation, shoots come forth, and grow up as a newly planted tree. But when man is cut off by death, he is for ever removed from his place in this world. The life of man may fitly be compared to the waters of a land flood, which spread far, but soon dry up. All Job's expressions here show his belief in the great doctrine of the resurrection. Job's friends proving miserable comforters, he pleases himself with the expectation of a change. If our sins are forgiven, and our hearts renewed to holiness, heaven will be the rest of our souls, while our bodies are hidden in the grave from the malice of our enemies, feeling no more pain from our corruptions, or our corrections.For there is hope of a tree - This passage to Job 14:12, is one of exquisite beauty. Its object is to state reasons why man should be permitted to enjoy this life. A tree, if cut down, might spring up again and flourish; but not man. He died to rise no more; he is cut down and lives not again. The passage is important as expressing the prevalent sentiment of the time in which Job 54ed about the future condition of man, and is one that deserves a close examination. The great question is, whether Job believed in the future state, or in the resurrection of the dead? On this question one or two things are clear at the outset.

(1) He did not believe that man would spring up from the grave in any sense similar to the mode in which the sprout or germ of a tree grows up when the tree is cut down.

(2) He did not believe in the doctrine of metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls; a doctrine that was so common among the ancients.

In this respect the patriarchal religion stood aloof from the systems of paganism, and there is not to be found, that I know of, any expression that would lead us to suppose that they had ever embraced it, or had even heard of it. The general sentiment here is, that if a tree is cut down, it may be expected to shoot up again, and another tree will be found in its place - as is the case with the chestnut, the willow, the oak. But Job says that there was nothing like this to happen to man. There was no root, no germ, no seminal principle from which he would be made to live again on the earth. He was to be finally cut off, from all his pleasures and his friends here, and to go away to return no more. Still, that Job believed in his continued existence beyond the grave - his existence in the dark and gloomy world of shades, is apparent from the whole book, and indeed from the very passage before us; see Job 14:13 - compare Job 10:21-22. The image here is one that is very beautiful, and one that is often employed by poets. Thus, Moschus, in his third Idyl, as translated by Gisborne:

The meanest herb we trample in the field,

Or in the garden nurture, when its leaf

At winter's touch is blasted, and its place

Forgotten, soon its vernal bud renews,

And from short slumber wakes to life again.

Man wakes no more! Man, valiant, glorious, wise,

When death once chills him, sinks in sleep profound.

A long, unconscious, never-ending sleep.

See also Beattie's Hermit:

'Tis night, and the landscape is lovely no more;


7. Man may the more claim a peaceful life, since, when separated from it by death, he never returns to it. This does not deny a future life, but a return to the present condition of life. Job plainly hopes for a future state (Job 14:13; Job 7:2). Still, it is but vague and trembling hope, not assurance; excepting the one bright glimpse in Job 19:25. The Gospel revelation was needed to change fears, hopes, and glimpses into clear and definite certainties. But man, though a far nobler creature, is in a much worse condition, and when once he loseth this present and worldly life, he never recovers it; therefore show some pity to him, and give him some comfort whilst he lives.

For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again,.... That is, if it be cut down to the root, and only the stump of the root is left in the ground, as the tree in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Daniel 4:15, yet the owner of it may entertain a hope that it is not utterly destroyed, but will bud out again; or "change" (s) its state and condition, and become flourishing again: or "renew" (t) itself; and its strength, and put out new shoots and branches; either it will rise up into a new body, as the laurel, as Pliny (u) relates, or produce new sprouts as the willow, alder tree, and others; for this is not true of every tree, though it may be of many; for it is (w) reported of the cypress tree, when cut down, it never sprouts out any more, unless in one place, in Aenaria; but since this is the case of some, it is sufficient to Job's purpose:

and that the tender branch thereof will not cease; from shooting out; or "its suckers will not cease" (x); which may be observed frequently to grow out of the roots of trees, even of those that are cut down, such as above mentioned.

(s) "mutabit se", Drusius; "conditionem suam", Piscator. (t) "Renovat se", Schmidt. (u) Nat. Hist. apud Pinedam in loc. (w) Servius in Virgil. Aeneid. l. 3. p. 681. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 16. c. 33. (x) "sugensque ejus surculus", Schultens.

For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
7. For there is hope of a tree, if] lit. for a tree hath hope; if it be cut down it will sprout again &c.

7–12. The irreparable extinction of man’s life in death. His destiny is sadder even than that of the tree. His sleep in death is eternal.

Job 14:7 7 For there is hope for a tree:

If it is hewn down, it sprouts again,

And its shoot ceaseth not.

8 If its root becometh old in the ground,

And its trunk dieth off in the dust:

9 At the scent of water it buddeth,

And bringeth forth branches like a young plant.

As the tree falleth so it lieth, says a cheerless proverb. Job, a true child of his age, has a still sadder conception of the destiny of man in death; and the conflict through which he is passing makes this sad conception still sadder than it otherwise is. The fate of the tree is far from being so hopeless as that of man; for (1) if a tree is hewn down, it (the stump left in the ground) puts forth new shoots (on החליף, vid., on Psalm 90:6), and young branches (יונקת, the tender juicy sucker μόσχος) do not cease. This is a fact, which is used by Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-13) as an emblem of a fundamental law in operation in the history of Israel: the terebinth and oak there symbolize Israel; the stump (מצבת) is the remnant that survives the judgment, and this remnant becomes the seed from which a new sanctified Israel springs up after the old is destroyed. Carey is certainly not wrong when he remarks that Job thinks specially of the palm (the date), which is propagated by such suckers; Shaw's expression corresponds exactly to לא תחדל: "when the old trunk dies, there is never wanting one or other of these offsprings to succeed it." Then (2) if the root of a tree becomes old (חזקין inchoative Hiphil: senescere, Ew. 122, c) in the earth, and its trunk (גּזע also of the stem of an undecayed tree, Isaiah 40:24) dies away in the dust, it can nevertheless regain its vitality which had succumbed to the weakness of old age: revived by the scent (ריח always of scent, which anything exhales, not, perhaps Sol 1:3 only excepted, odor equals odoratus) of water, it puts forth buds for both leaves and flowers, and brings forth branches (קציר, prop. cuttings, twigs) again, כמו נטע, like a plant, or a young plant (the form of נטע in pause), therefore, as if fresh planted, lxx ὥσπερ νεόφυτον. One is here at once reminded of the palm which, on the one hand, is pre-eminently a φιλυδρον φυτόν,

(Note: When the English army landed in Egypt in 1801, Sir Sydney Smith gave the troops the sure sign, that wherever date-trees grew there must be water; and this is supported by the fact of people digging after it generally, within a certain range round the tree within which the roots of the tree could obtain moisture from the fluid. - Vid., R. Wilson's History of the Expedition to Egypt, p. 18.)

on the other hand possesses a wonderful vitality, whence it is become a figure for youthful vigour. The palm and the phoenix have one name, and not without reason. The tree reviving as from the dead at the scent of water, which Job describes, is like that wondrous bird rising again from its own ashes (vid., on Job 29:18). Even when centuries have at last destroyed the palm - says Masius, in his beautiful and thoughtful studies of nature - thousands of inextricable fibres of parasites cling about the stem, and delude the traveller with an appearance of life.

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