on Job 36 :20
Desire not the night - Thou hast wished for death; (here called night); desire it not; leave that with God. If he hear thee, and send death, thou mayest be cut off in a way at which thy soul would shudder.
on Job 36 :20
Desire not the night - That is, evidently, "the night of death." The darkness of the night is an emblem of death, and it is not uncommon to speak of death in this manner; see John 9:4, "The night cometh, when no man can work." Elihu seems to have supposed that Job might have looked forward to death as to a time of release; that so far from "dreading" what he had said would come, that God would cut him off at a stroke, it might be the very thing which he desired, and which he anticipated would be an end of his sufferings. Indeed Job had more than once expressed some such sentiment, and Elihu designs to meet that state of mind, and to charge him not to look forward to death as relief. If his present state of mind continued, he says, he would perish under the "wrath" of God; and death in such a manner, great as might be his sufferings here, could not be desirable.
When people are cut off in their place - On this passage, Schultens enumerates no less than "fifteen" different interpretations which have been given, and at the end of this enumeration remarks that he "waits for clearer light to overcome the shades of this night." Rosenmullcr supposes it means," Long not for the night, in which nations go under themselves;" that is, in which they go down to the inferior regions, or in which they perish. Noyes renders it, "To which nations are taken away to their place." Urnbroil renders it, "Pant not for the night, to go down to the people who dwell under thee;" that is, to the Shades, or to those that dwell in Sheol. Prof. Lee translates it, "Pant not for the night, for the rising of the populace from their places." Coverdale, "Prolong not thou the time, until there come a night for thee to set other people in thy stead." The Septuagint, "Do not draw out the night, that the people may come instead of them;" that is, to their assistance.
Dr. Good "Neither long thou for the night, for the vaults of the nations underneath them;" and supposes that the reference is to the "catacombs," or mummy-pits that were employed for burial-places. These are but specimens of the interpretations which have been proposed for this passage, and it is easy to see that there is little prospect of being able to explain it in a satisfactory manner. The principal difficulty in the passage is in the word rendered "cut off," (עלה ‛âlâh) which means "to go up, to ascend," and in the incongruity between that and the word rendered in their place (תחתם tachthâm), which literally means "under them." A literal translation of the passage is, "Do not desire the night to ascend to the people under them;" but I confess I cannot understand the passage, after all the attempts made to explain it. The trauslation given by Umbreit, seems best to agree with the connection, but I am unable to see that the Hebrew would bear this. See, however, his Note on the passage. The word עלה ‛âlâh he understands here in the sense of "going away," or "bearing away," and the pbrase the "people under them," as denoting the "Shades" in the world beneath us. The whole expression then would be equivalent to a wish "to die" - with the expectation that there would be a change for the better, or a release from present sufferings. Elihu admonishes Job not to indulge such a wish, for it would be no gain for a man to die in the state of mind in which he then was.
on Job 36 :20
36:20 The night - The night of death, which Job had often desired, for then, thou art irrecoverably gone: take heed of thy foolish and often repeated desire of death, lest God inflict it upon thee in anger.