Wickedness often unpunished. (1-12) The wicked shun the light. (13-17) Judgements for the wicked. (18-25)
Verses 1-12 Job discourses further about the prosperity of the wicked. That many live at ease who are ungodly and profane, he had showed, ch. xxi. Here he shows that many who live in open defiance of all the laws of justice, succeed in wicked practices; and we do not see them reckoned with in this world. He notices those that do wrong under pretence of law and authority; and robbers, those that do wrong by force. He says, "God layeth not folly to them;" that is, he does not at once send his judgments, nor make them examples, and so manifest their folly to all the world. But he that gets riches, and not by right, at his end shall be a fool, ( Jeremiah 17:11 ) .
Verses 13-17 See what care and pains wicked men take to compass their wicked designs; let it shame our negligence and slothfulness in doing good. See what pains those take, who make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts of it: pains to compass, and then to hide that which will end in death and hell at last. Less pains would mortify and crucify the flesh, and be life and heaven at last. Shame came in with sin, and everlasting shame is at the end of it. See the misery of sinners; they are exposed to continual frights: yet see their folly; they are afraid of coming under the eye of men, but have no dread of God's eye, which is always upon them: they are not afraid of doing things which they are afraid of being known to do.
Verses 18-25 Sometimes how gradual is the decay, how quiet the departure of a wicked person, how is he honoured, and how soon are all his cruelties and oppressions forgotten! They are taken off with other men, as the harvestman gathers the ears of corn as they come to hand. There will often appear much to resemble the wrong view of Providence Job takes in this chapter. But we are taught by the word of inspiration, that these notions are formed in ignorance, from partial views. The providence of God, in the affairs of men, is in every thing a just and wise providence. Let us apply this whenever the Lord may try us. He cannot do wrong. The unequalled sorrows of the Son of God when on earth, unless looked at in this view, perplex the mind. But when we behold him, as the sinner's Surety, bearing the curse, we can explain why he should endure that wrath which was due to sin, that Divine justice might be satisfied, and his people saved.
Job 24:1-25 .
1. 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? that is, 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.
2-24. Instances of the wicked doing the worst deeds with seeming impunity ( Job 24:2-24 ).
landmarks--boundaries between different pastures ( Deuteronomy 19:14 , Proverbs 22:28 ).
3. pledge--alluding to Job 22:6 . Others really do, and with impunity, that which Eliphaz falsely charges the afflicted Job with.
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 , 30:3-6 , Proverbs 28:28 ).
5. wild asses--( Job 11:12 ). So Ishmael is called a "wild ass-man"; Hebrew ( Genesis 16:12 ). These Bedouin robbers, with the unbridled wildness of the ass of the desert, go forth thither. 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 travelling is begun very early, before the heat comes on.
6. Like the wild asses ( Job 24:5 ) reap (metaphorically) their various grain (so the Hebrew for "corn" means). The wild ass does not let man pile his mixed provender up in a stable ( 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--Hebrew, "the wicked gather the vintage"; 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, is "gather late." As the first clause refers to the early harvest of corn, so the second to the vintage late in autumn.
7. UMBREIT understands it of the Bedouin robbers, who are quite regardless of the comforts of life, "They pass the night naked, and uncovered," &c. But the allusion to Job 22:6 , makes the English Version preferable not uncommon at night in those regions ( Genesis 31:40 ).
8. They--the plundered travellers.
embrace the rock--take refuge under it ( Lamentations 4:5 ).
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. Job 24:7
pledge--namely, the garment of the poor debtor, as Job 24:10 shows.
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 labor in their harvest-fields and do not allow them to satisfy their hunger with any of the very corn which they carry to the heap. Worse treatment than that of the ox, according to Deuteronomy 25:4
. Translate: "they (the poor laborers) hungering carry the sheaves" [UMBREIT].
11. Which--"They," the poor, "press the oil within their wall"; 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 grapes and olives. Here, thirsty; Job 24:10 , hungry.
12. Men--rather, "mortals" (not the common Hebrew for "men"); so the Masoretic vowel points read as English Version. But the vowel points are modern. The true reading is, "The dying," answering to "the wounded" in the next clause, so Syriac. 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"; that is, they long to get forth and be free outside of it ( Exodus 1:11 , 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 reads by changing a vowel point, "Regards not their supplication."
13. So far as to openly committed sins; now, those done in the dark. Translate: "There are those among them (the wicked) who rebel," &c.
light--both literal and figurative ( John 3:19 John 3:20 , Proverbs 2:13 ).
paths thereof--places where the light shines.
14. with the light--at early dawn, while still dark, when the traveller in the East usually sets out, and the poor laborer to his work; the murderous robber lies in wait then ( Psalms 10:8 ).
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.
15. ( Proverbs 7:9 , Psalms 10:11 ).
disguiseth--puts a veil on.
16. dig through--Houses in the East are generally built of sun-dried mud bricks (so Matthew 6:19 ). "Thieves break through," literally, "dig through" ( Ezekiel 12:7 ).
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.
17. They shrink from the "morning" light, as much as other men do from the blackest darkness ("the shadow of death").
if one know--that is, recognize them. Rather, "They know well (are familiar with) the terrors of," &c. [UMBREIT]. Or, as MAURER, "They know the terrors of (this) darkness," namely, of morning, the light, which is as terrible to them as darkness ("the shadow of death") is to other men.
18-21. In these verses Job quotes the opinions of his adversaries ironically; he quoted them so before. In Job 24:22-24 , he states his own observation as the opposite. You say, "The sinner is swift, that is, swiftly passes away (as a thing floating) on the surface of the waters" ( Ecclesiastes 11:1 , Hosea 10:7 ).
is cursed--by those who witness their "swift" destruction.
beholdeth not--"turneth not to"; figuratively, for He cannot enjoy his pleasant possessions ( Job 20:17 , 15:33 ).
the way of the vineyards--including his fields, fertile as vineyards; opposite to "the way of the desert."
19. Arabian image; melted snow, as contrasted with the living fountain, quickly dries up in the sunburnt sand, not leaving a 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!"
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 worm shall suck, that is, "feed sweetly" on him as a delicate morsel ( Job 21:33 ).
wickedness--that is, the wicked; abstract for concrete (as Job 5:16 ).
as a tree--utterly ( Job 19:10 ); UMBREIT better, "as a staff." A broken staff is the emblem of irreparable ruin ( Isaiah 14:5 , Hosea 4:12 ).
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.
22-25. Reply of Job to the opinion of the friends. Experience proves the contrary. Translate: "But He (God) prolongeth the life of (literally, draweth out at length; Psalms 36:10 , Margin) 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 ).
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 favor them, and yet have His eyes all the time open to their wicked ways ( Proverbs 15:3 , Psalms 73:4 )!
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 English Version. Translate: "A moment--and they are no more! They are brought low, as all (others) gather up their feet to die." A natural death ( Genesis 49:33 ).
ears of corn--in a ripe and full age, not prematurely \ ( Job 5:26 ).
25. (So Job 9:24 ).