They shall go down to the gates of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.
All Commentaries on Job 17:16 Go To Job 17
Gregory The Dialogist
53. Whereas it appears that among those below the righteous are held bound not in places of punishment, but in the bosom of tranquillity above, an important question springs up before us, why it is that blessed Job declares, saying, All of mine shall descend into the lowest hell; who even if before the Advent of the Mediator between God and man he had to descend into hell, yet it is plain that into the lowest hell he had not to descend. Does he call the very higher regions of hell, ‘the lowest hell?’ Plainly because in relation to the loftiness of heaven, the region of this sky may not unappropriately be called the lower region. Whence when the Apostate Angels were plunged from the seats of heaven into this darksome region of the air, the Apostle Peter says, For if God spared not the Angels that sinned, but delivered them, dragged down with infernal chains, into hell, to be reserved for torments in the Judgment. [2 Pet. 2, 4] If then relatively to the height of heaven this darksome air is infernal, relatively to the elevation of this air, the earth which lies below may be taken both as infernal, and as deep; and relatively to the height of that earth, even those parts of hell which are higher than the other mansions of the place below, may in this place not unsuitably be denoted by the designation of the lowest hell; in that what the sky is to heaven, and the earth to the sky, the same is that higher hollow of the regions below to the earth.
54. But that is very wonderful which he subjoins, All of mine shall descend; for whereas the soul alone shall descend into the regions of hell, how is it that the holy man tells that ‘all of his’ shall descend there, but that he saw himself to be there entire where he perceives the great weight of his recompense? seeing that this which he leaves of himself without sense on the earth, until he returns to the incorruption of the resurrection, he does not feel to be himself. And so he declares that ‘all of his will descend into the lowest hell,’ whither he sees his soul only shall descend; in that the whole of him is there, where he is capable of having a sense of that which he has got. Or, surely, ‘all of his did descend into hell,’ in that the recompensing of all his toils was as yet expected to be received only in the rest of hell; and all that he has done as it were ‘descends’ there, in that there he finds rest in his recompensing for all things. Whence also the expected rest is itself added, when the words are thereupon introduced,
Dost thou think at least there will be rest for me there?
55. By which same words he both makes known what he desires, and yet marks that he is still doubtful of receiving the rest, lest he whose holy works so many scourges followed, should by the hidden judgment of the heavenly Judge, after temporal scourges, have lasting torments likewise following him. Wherein it behoves ourselves to consider with exceeding fear which of us is now secure of the everlasting rest, if even he still trembles for it, proclaim of whose virtue the very Judge, Who smites, does Himself sound: For if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the sinner and the ungodly appear? [1 Pet. 4, 18] For blessed Job knew that he should attain to rest after the strokes of affliction, but that he might shake our hearts with fear, he himself seemed to doubt about the recompensing of Eternal rest, when he says, Dost thou think? plainly that we might think well with what exceeding apprehension we ought ever to dread the Judgment to come, if even he, who was commended by the Judge, was not yet in his own words secure of the rewards of the Judgment.