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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Job 24

Verse 1

Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days?

Why is it that, seeing that the times of punishment (Ezekiel 30:3; "time" in the same sense) are not hidden from the Almighty, they who know Him (His true worshippers, Job 18:21) do not see His days? (of vengeance; Joel 1:15; 2 Peter 3:10.) Or, with Umbreit, less simply, making the parallel clauses more nicely balanced, Why are not times of punishment hoarded up ('laid up,' Job 21:19; appointed) by the Almighty? - i:e., why are they not so appointed as that man may now see them? as the second clause shows. Job does not doubt that they are appointed; nay, he asserts it (Job 21:30); what he wishes is, that God would let all now see that it is so.

Verses 2-14

Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof.

Instances of the wicked doing the worst deeds with seeming impunity. Some - the wicked.

Landmarks - boundaries between different pastures (Deuteronomy 19:14; Proverbs 22:28).

Verse 3. Pledge - alluding to Job 22:6. Others really do, and with impunity, that which Eliphaz falsely charges the afflicted Job with.

Verse 4. Literally, they push the poor out of their road in meeting them. Figuratively, they take advantage of them by force and injustice (alluding to the charge of Eliphaz (Job 22:8; 1 Samuel 8:3).

Poor - in spirit and in circumstances (Matthew 5:3).

Hide - from the injustice of their oppressors, who have robbed them of their all, and driven them into unfrequented places (Job 20:19; Job 30:3-6; Proverbs 28:28). The aboriginal inhabitants were driven into the deserts, to live in the greatest misery and want; and when, compelled by need, they have ventured out of their hiding-places, they are cruelly driven back into them by their oppressors: a frequent occurrence in early times.

Verse 5. Wild asses - (Job 11:12). So Ishmael is called a wild donkey-man; Hebrew (Genesis 16:12). These Bedouin robbers, with the unbridled wildness of the donkey of the desert, go forth there. Robbery is their lawless "work." The desert, which yields no food to other men, yields food for the robber and his children by the plunder of caravans.

Rising betimes. In the East traveling is begun very early, before the heat comes on.

Verse 6. Like the wild donkeys (Job 24:5), they (these Bedouin robbers) reap (metaphorically) their various grain (so the Hebrew for "grain" means [ bªliyl (H1098), meslin]). The wild donkey does not let man pile up in a stable his mixed provender (Isaiah 30:24); so these robbers find their food in the open air, at one time in the desert (Job 24:5), at another in the fields.

The vintage of the wicked - the vintage of robbery, not of honest industry. If we translate 'belonging to the wicked,' then it will imply that the wicked alone have vineyards, the 'pious poor' (Job 24:4) have none. 'Gather' in Hebrew [ leqesh (H3954); yªlaqeeshuw (H3953) is latter grass] is gather late: as the first clause refers to the early harvest of grain, so the second to the vintage late in autumn.

Verse 7. Umbreit understands it of the Bedouin robbers, who are quite regardless of the comforts of life, 'They pass the night naked, etc., and uncovered,' etc. But the allusion to Job 22:6 makes the English version preferable (see note below, Job 24:10). Frost is not uncommon at night in those regions (Gen. 13:40 ).

Verse 8. They - the plundered travelers.

Embrace the rock - take refuge under it (Lamentations 4:5, "They that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills").

Verse 9. From the breast - of the widowed mother. Kidnapping children for slaves. Here Job passes from wrongs in the desert to those done among the habitations of men. Pledge - namely, the garment of the poor debtor, as next verse shows.

Verse 10. (Note Job 22:6.) In Job 24:7 a like sin is alluded to: but there he implies open robbery of garments in the desert; here, the more refined robbery in civilized life, under the name of a "pledge." Having stripped the poor, they make them, besides, labour in their harvest-fields, and do not allow them to satisfy their hunger with any of the very grain which they carry to the heap. Worse treatment than that of the ox, according to Deuteronomy 25:4, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn." The "from" of the English version is not in the Hebrew. Translate, 'they (the poor labourers), hungering, carry [ naasª'uw (H5375)] the sheaves' (Umbreit).

Verse 11. Which - `they,' the poor, 'press the oil within their walls:' namely, not only in the open fields (Job 24:10), but also in the wall-enclosed vineyards and olive gardens of the oppressor (Isaiah 5:5). Yet they are not allowed to quench their "thirst" with the grades and olives. Here, thirsty; Job 24:10, hungry.

Verse 12. Men - rather, 'mortals' (not the common Hebrew for "men"); so the Masoretic vowel points read as the English version [ mªtiym (H4962)]. But the vowel points are modern. The true reading is, The dying [ meetiym (H4962)]: answering to "the wounded" in the next clause: so Syriac, and one manuscript of DeRossi. Not merely in the country (Job 24:11), but also in the city, there are oppressed sufferers; who cry for help in vain.

From out of the city - i:e., they long to get forth, and be free outside of it (Exodus 1:11; Exodus 2:23).

Wounded - by the oppressor (Ezekiel 30:24).

Layeth not folly - takes no account of (by punishing) their sin ("folly" in Scripture; Job 1:22). This is the gist of the whole previous list of sins (Acts 17:30). Umbreit, with Syriac and two manuscripts, reads, by changing a vowel point, 'Regards not their supplication' [ tªpilaah (H8605), instead of tiplaah (H8604)].

Verse 13. So far as to openly committed sins; now, those done in the dark. Translate, 'There are those among them (the wicked) who rebel,' etc.

Light - both literally and figuratively (John 3:19-20; Proverbs 2:13).

Paths thereof - places where the light shines.

Verse 14. With the light. At early dawn, while still dark, when the traveler in the East usually sets out, and the poor labourer to his work, the murderous robber lies in wait then (Psalms 10:8, "He sitteth in the lurking places of the viilages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent; his eyes are privily set against the poor").

Is as a thief. Thieves in the East steal while men sleep at night; robbers murder at early dawn. The same man who steals at night, when light dawns, not only robs, but murders, to escape detection.

Verse 15

The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me: and disguiseth his face.

(Proverbs 7:9; Psalms 10:11.)

Disguiseth - puts a veil on.

Verse 16

In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light.

Dig through. Houses in the East are generally built of sun-dried mud bricks (so Matthew 6:19) [ diorussousin (G1358)]. "Thieves break through" - literally, dig through (Ezekiel 12:7, "I digged through the wall with mine hand").

Had marked - rather, as in Job 9:7, 'They shut themselves up' (in their houses) - literally, they seal up.

For themselves - for their own ends, namely, to escape detection.

Know not - shun.

Verse 17

For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death: if one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death.

They shrink from the "morning" light, as much as other men do from the blackest darkness ("the shadow of death").

If one know - i:e., recognize them. Rather, 'they know well (are familiar with) the terrors of,' etc. (Umbreit.) Or, as Maurer. 'They know the terrors of (this) darkness'-namely, of morning light, that it is as terrible to them as darkness ("the shadow of death") is to other men.

Verses 18-21

He is swift as the waters; their portion is cursed in the earth: he beholdeth not the way of the vineyards.

In these verses Job quotes the opinion of his adversaries, ironically: he quoted them so before (Job 21:17-21). In Job 24:22-24 he states his own observation as the opposite. You say, 'The sinner is swift - i:e., swiftly passes away (as a thing floating) - on the surface (literally, on the face) of the waters' (Ecclesiastes 11:1; Hosea 10:7).

Is cursed - by those who witness their "swift" destruction.

Beholdeth not - `turneth not to' [ yipneh (H6437)]: figuratively, because he cannot enjoy his pleasant possession (Job 20:17; 4:33 ).

The way of the vineyards - including his fields, fertile as vineyards: opposite to 'the way of the desert.'

Verse 19. Arabian image: melted snow, as contrasted with the living fountain, quickly dries up in the sun-burnt sand, not leaving as trace behind (Job 6:16-18). The Hebrew is terse and elliptical, to express the swift and utter destruction of the godless: (so) "the grave-they have sinned!"

Verse 20. The womb - the very mother that bare him, and who is the last to "forget" the child that sucked her (Isaiah 49:15), shall dismiss him from her memory (Job 18:17; Proverbs 10:7, "The memory of the just is blessed, but the name of the wicked shall rot"). The worm shall suck; i:e., 'feed sweetly' on him as a delicate morsel (Job 21:33).

Wickedness - i:e., the wicked; abstract for concrete (as Job 5:16).

As a tree - utterly (Job 19:10). Maurer, better, 'As as staff' [ `eets (H6086)] (Umbreit). A broken staff is the emblem of irreparable ruin (Isaiah 14:5).

Verse 21. The reason given by the friends why the sinner deserves such a fate.

Barren - without sons, who might have protected her.

Widow - without a husband to support her.

Verses 22-25

He draweth also the mighty with his power: he riseth up, and no man is sure of life.

Reply of Job to the opinions of the friends. Experience proves the contrary. Translate, 'But He (God) prolongeth the life of (literally, draweth out at length; margin, Psalms 36:10, "continue;" Hebrew, 'draw out at length') the mighty with His (God's) power. He (the wicked) riseth up (from his sick bed), although he had given up hope of (literally, when he no longer believed in) life' (Deuteronomy 28:66, "Thy life shall hang in doubt before thee ... and thou shalt have none assurance of thy life"). (Umbreit.) (Cf. margin)

Verse 23. Literally, He (God omitted as often: Job 3:20); Ecclesiastes 9:9: reverentially) giveth to him (the wicked, to be) in safety, or security.

Yet. Job means, How strange that God should so favour them, and yet have His eyes all the time open to their wicked ways! (Proverbs 15:3, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.")

Verse 24. Job repeats what he said (Job 21:13), that sinners die in exalted positions, not the painful and lingering death we might expect, but a quick and easy death. Join "for a ... while" with "are gone," not as the English version. Translate 'A moment-and they are no more! They are brought low, as all (others) gather up (their feet) to die' (so the Hebrew of 'are taken out of the way') [ yiqaapªtsuwn (H7092)]. A natural death (Genesis 49:33).

Ears of corn - in a ripe and full age, not prematurely (Job 5:26).

Verse 25. (So Job 9:24.)

Remarks:

(1) They that truly know God long for the manifestation of the day of the Lord (Job 24:1). Even the souls of the matryred-dead cry, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge?" etc. It is for the probation of their faith that it is not given to them "to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power."

(2) In this present time oppression and wrong prevail. Deeds of darkness are done on every side. Sinners are careful that their crimes should not be brought to light under the eye of their fellow-men, but have no dread of God's eye, which is always upon them: they shrink, not from doing, but from being detected in doing wrong.

(3) How wretched, whatever be the sinner's success, to be in a state of continual fear lest his evil deeds should be exposed! Moreover, though God does not always visit transgressors with condign punishment in this life, and they may seem to be favoured alike in life and death, yet God's "eyes are upon their ways" (Job 24:23) even now; and in the great day of retribution they shall receive the righteous doom of their evil deeds.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 24". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-24.html. 1871-8.