Job 29:18

Then I said, I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand.

Then I said, I shall die in my nest,.... Job, amidst all his prosperity, knew he should die, death and the grave being appointed for all men; and he often thought of it, and of the manner of it; but he concluded that death was as yet some distance from him, as appears from the following clause; and that, when the time was come, he should not die on the ground, but in the city in which he lived {m}, in his house, and on his bed; that he should die with all his children about him, like a bird in its nest full of young; whereas now he was stripped of them all, and likely to die childless; that he should die amidst all his outward enjoyments, in an affluence of good things, in honour, credit, and esteem among men; whereas now he was deprived of all his substance, and had in contempt by friends and foes; and that he should die in great tranquillity of mind and peace of soul, in the enjoyment of the divine Presence, and under rich discoveries of his love and grace; whereas now God had hid himself from him, and the arrows of the Almighty stuck fast in him. Job now had dropped his former confidence, and yet after all he did die in all the circumstances he believed he should; see Job 42:10; and this confidence might rise not from any mercenary spirit in him, as if this would be the fruit and reward of his integrity and uprightness, justice and faithfulness, and as due to him on that account; but from the promises of God, which to the patriarchs were usually of temporal blessings, as types of spiritual ones; though it may be there was in this somewhat of the infirmity of the flesh, as in David, Psalms 30:7; and an inattention to the uncertainty of all temporal enjoyments; nor might he then be so well acquainted with the doctrine of the cross he now had an experience of:

and I shall multiply my days as the sand; which is not to be numbered; an hyperbolical expression, to denote the long life he expected to enjoy, and which was promised to good men; and which Job, notwithstanding his present despair of it, was favoured and satisfied with, Psalms 91:16. Some versions render it, "as the phoenix" {n}, a bird of that name, spoken of by many writers as a very long lived one; some say it lived five hundred years {o}, others five hundred forty {p}, others six hundred sixty {q}; yea, some, and so the Jewish writers, as Jarchi and others {r}, make it to live a thousand years, and some say {s} more; and it is reported of it, though not with sufficient evidence, that there is never but one of the kind at a time; which, perceiving its end drawing near, it makes a nest of cassia, frankincense, and other spices, and sets fire to it, and burns itself in it, and that out of its ashes comes forth an egg, which produces another; and some of the ancient writers, as Tertullian {t} particularly, have made use of this as an emblem of the resurrection; and to which some think Job has here respect; that he should live long like this bird, and then die and rise again; but inasmuch as this seems to be a fabulous bird, and that there is not, nor ever was, any such in being, it cannot well be thought that Job should allude unto it; though his making mention of his nest, in the former clause, may seem to favour it, and which has induced some to give into it {u}: others render it, "as the palm tree" {w}; between which and the phoenix there is thought to be some likeness on account of duration {x}, and both in the Greek tongue have the same name; the palm tree is an evergreen, and endures a long time; Pliny {y} speaks of a palm tree in his time at Delos, said to have been there from the days of Apollo, which is supposed to be 1400 years; and it is observed {z} that this tree does continue two or three hundred years; and this version may seem to be countenanced and confirmed by what follows: but since the Hebrew word here used is never used but of sand, it is best so to understand it here, seeing it as fully answers Job's purpose; which was to express his confidence of a very long life. Sand is frequently used in Scripture for what is innumerable; so qammokosia in Aristophanes {a}, for what cannot be numbered, and are equal to a mountain of sand.

{m} So Rufus Virginius used to call the villa where he dwelt, "Senectutio suae Nidulum", Plin. l. 6. Ep. 10.
{n} lwxk "sicut phoenix", Pagninus; so Mercerus, Piscator.
{o} Herodot Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 73. Pompon. Mela de situ Orbis, l. 6. c. 58. Tacit. Annal. l. 6. c. 28.
{p} Solin. Polyhistor. c. 46.
{q} Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 2.
{r} Bereshit Rabba, sect. 19. fol. 15. 2. Yalkut in loc. par. 1. fol. 152. 2.
{s} Vid. Texelii Phoenix. l. 2. c. 1. p. 140.
{t} De Resurrectione, c. 13. Vid. Clement. Rom. Ep. 1. ad Corinth. p. 60. & Felli Not. in ib.
{u} Vid. Tentzelii Dissert. de Phoenice, &c. sect. 5.
{w} wsper stelecov foinikov, Sept. "sicut palma", V. L.
{x} Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 13. c. 4.
{y} Ib. l. 16. c. 44.
{z} Vid. Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. l. vol. 4. p. 757.
{a} Acharnes Act. 1. Sc. 1. & Scholia in ib.