Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Why is it that, seeing that the times of punishment
"time" in the same sense) are not hidden from the Almighty, they who
know Him (His true worshippers,
do not see His days (of vengeance;
Or, with UMBREIT less simply, making the parallel
clauses more nicely balanced, Why are not times of punishment hoarded
up ("laid up";
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
what he wishes is that God would let all now see that it is
2-24. Instances of the wicked doing the worst deeds with seeming
landmarks--boundaries between different pastures
3. pledge--alluding to
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,
poor--in spirit and in circumstances
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;
5. wild asses--
So Ishmael is called a "wild ass-man"; Hebrew
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
they (these Bedouin robbers) 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
so these robbers find their food in the open air, at one time in the
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"
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
makes the English Version preferable (see on
Frost is not uncommon at night in those regions
8. They--the plundered travellers.
embrace the rock--take refuge under it
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
10. (See on
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
Translate: "they (the poor laborers) hungering carry the sheaves"
11. Which--"They," the poor, "press the oil within their wall";
namely, not only in the open fields
but also in the wall-enclosed vineyards and olive gardens of the
Yet they are not allowed to quench their "thirst" with the grapes and
olives. Here, thirsty;
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
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
(Ex 1:11; 2:23).
wounded--by the oppressor
layeth not folly--takes no account of (by punishing) their sin ("folly" in Scripture;
This is the gist of the whole previous list of sins
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
(Joh 3:19, 20;
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
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.
disguiseth--puts a veil on.
16. dig through--Houses in the East are generally built of sun-dried
mud bricks (so
"Thieves break through," literally, "dig through"
had marked--Rather, as in
"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
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
18-21. In these verses Job quotes the opinions of his adversaries
ironically; he quoted them so before
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"
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
The Hebrew is terse and elliptical to express the swift and
utter destruction of the godless; (so) "the grave--they have
20. The womb--The very mother that bare him, and who is the last to
"forget" the child that sucked her
shall dismiss him from her memory
The worm shall suck, that is, "feed sweetly" on him as a
wickedness--that is, the wicked; abstract for concrete (as
as a tree--utterly
UMBREIT better, "as a staff." A broken staff is
the emblem of irreparable ruin
21. The reason given by the friends why the sinner deserves such a
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;
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"
23. Literally, "He
(God omitted, as often;
reverentially) giveth to him (the wicked, to be) in safety, or
yet--Job means, How strange that God should so favor them, and yet
have His eyes all the time open to their wicked ways
24. Job repeats what he said
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" (so the Hebrew of "are taken out of
A natural death
ears of corn--in a ripe and full age, not prematurely