Job 8:17


King James Version (KJV)

His roots are wrapped about the heap, and sees the place of stones.

American King James Version (AKJV)

His roots are wrapped about the heap, and sees the place of stones.

American Standard Version (ASV)

His roots are wrapped about the'stone -heap, He beholdeth the place of stones.

Basic English Translation (BBE)

His roots are twisted round the stones, forcing their way in between them.

Webster's Revision

His roots are wrapped about the heap, and seeth the place of stones.

World English Bible

His roots are wrapped around the rock pile. He sees the place of stones.

English Revised Version (ERV)

His roots are wrapped about the heap, he beholdeth the place of stones.

Barnes's Job 8:17 Bible Commentary

His roots are wrapped about the heap - There has been great diversity of opinion in the interpretation of this passage. Jerome renders it, "over the heap of stones his roots are condensed." Walton, "super fontem - over a fountain." The Septuagint, "he lies down (or sleeps, κοιμᾶται koimatai) on a heap of stones; and he lives in the midst of flint-stones." According to some, the word rendered heap גל gal means a fountain; according to others, it means a heap or pile of stones; according to Dr. Good, it means a rock. According to the view of the former, it refers to the flourishing condition of a hypocrite or sinner, and means that he is like a tree that sends its roots by a fountain, and is nourished by it. According to others, the reference is to the fact that the hypocrite is like a plant that has no depth of earth for its roots, that wraps its rooks around anything, even a heap of stones, to support itself; and that consequently will soon wither under the intense heat of the sun. The word גל gal, rendered "heap," means either

(1.) A heap, as a heap of stones, from גלל gâlal - to roll, as e. g. stones. It may denote a heap of stones, Joshua 7:26, but it commonly refers to the ruins of walls and cities, Jeremiah 9:11; Jeremiah 51:37; Isaiah 25:2. It means

(2.) A fountain or spring, so called from the rolling or welling up of the waters, Sol 4:12, and hence, rolling waves or billows, Psalm 42:7; Psalm 89:9; Psalm 107:25, Psalm 107:29. The parallelism, if nothing else, demands that the usual signification should be given to it here; and the true sense is, that the prosperous wicked man or the hypocrite is like a plant which stands in the midst of rocks, rubbish, or old ruins, and not like one that stands in a fertile soil where it may strike its roots deep. The reference is to the fact that a tree or plant which springs up on a rock, or in the midst of rocks, will send its roots afar for nutriment, or will wrap them around the projecting points of rocks in order to obtain support. All have observed this in trees standing on rocks; but the following extract from Sillinian's Journal for January, 1840, wil illustrate the fact referred to here more fully.

"About fifteen years ago, upon the top of an immense boulder of limestone, some ten or twelve feet in diameter, a sapling was found growing. The stone was but slightly imbedded in the earth; several of its sides were raised from four to six feet above its surface; but the top of the rock was rough with crevices, and its surface, which was sloping off, on one side, to the earth, was covered with a thin mould. From this mould the tree had sprung up, and having thrust its roots into the crevices of the rock, it had succeeded in reaching the height of some twelve or fifteen feet. But about this period the roots on one side became loosened from their attachment, and the tree gradually declined to the opposite side, until its body was in a parallel line with the earth. The roots on the opposite side, having obtained a firmer hold, afforded sufficient nourishment to sustain the plant; although they could not, alone, retain it in its vertical position. In this condition of things, the tree as if 'conscious of its needs, ' adopted (if the term may be used) an ingenious process, in order to regain its former upright position. One of the most vigorous of the detached roots sent out a branch from its side, which, passing round a projection of the rock, again united with the parent stalk, and thus formed a perfect loop around this projection, which gave to the root an immovable attachment.

"The tree now began to recover from its bent position. Obeying the natural tendency of all plants to grow erect, and sustained by this root, which increased with unwonted vigor, in a few years it had entirely regained its vertical position, elevated, as no one could doubt who saw it, by the aid of the root which had formed this singular attachment. But this was not the only power exhibited by this remarkable tree.

"After its elevation it flourished vigorously for several years. Some of its roots had traced the sloping side of the rock to the earth, and were buried in the soil below. Others, having embedded themselves in its furrows, had completely filled these crevices with vegetable matter. The tree still continuing to grow, concentric layers of vegetable matter were annually deposited between the alburnum and liber, until by the force of vegetable growth alone, the rock was split from the top to the bottom, into three nearly equal divisions, and branches of the roots were soon found, extending down, through the divisions into the earth below. On visiting the tree a few months since, to take a drawing of it, we found that it had attained an altitude of fifty feet, and was four and a half feet in circumference at its base."

The image here shows that the author of this beautiful fragment was a careful observer of nature, and the comparison is exceedingly pertinent and striking. What more beautiful illustration of a hypocrite can there be? His roots do not strike into the earth. His piety is not planted in a rich soil. It is on the hard rock of the unconverted human heart. Yet it sends out its roots afar; seems to flourish for a time; draws nutriment from remote objects; clings to a crag or a projecting rock, or to anything for support - until a tempest sweeps it down to rise no more! No doubt the idea of Bildad was, that Job was just such a man.

Seeth the place of stones - Septuagint, "and lives in the midst of flints," not an unapt rendering - and a very striking description of a hypocrite. So Castellio, "existit inter lapides." Its only nutriment is derived from the scanty earth in the stony soil on which it stands, or in the crevices of the rocks.

Wesley's Job 8:17 Bible Commentary

8:17 Heap - Of stones. This circumstance is added, to signify its firmness and strength, that it was not in loose and sandy ground, which a violent wind might overthrow, but in solid ground, within which were many stones, which its numerous and spreading roots embrace, folding and interweaving themselves about them. Seeth - The tree reacheth thither, takes the advantage of that place for the strengthening of itself.

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