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Bible Commentaries
Job 24

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

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

Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty — Heb. Why are not times hidden from the Almighty? q.d. Who could think any otherwise, that had not been at the sanctuary, Psalms 73:17 , and there heard, Woe to the wicked! it shall go ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be (sooner or later) given unto him? Isaiah 3:11 . The Jewish doctors conclude, but falsely, from this text, that Job denied the Divine providence. And the Vulgate Latin, to solve the matter and save Job from the imputation of epicurism, takes the boldness to leave out the interrogative why, and rendereth it thus, The times are not hidden from the Almighty; lest, by making it a question, Job should affirm that times and events are hidden from God, or at least should wish and desire that they were so. Vatablus thinketh that Job here putteth on the person of one that denieth God’s providence, or at least doubteth it; as if he should say, Ye, my friends, say that nothing is hidden from God, and I now demand of you how the times, and those things which are done in time, can be otherwise than hid from him, when as we see wicked men so to take their swing in sin, and yet, for aught we see, to escape unpunished? It should seem, by his winking at wicked practices, that he takes no care how things are carried in this present world; as certainly he would do were he diligens mundi oeconomus, aut rerum humanarum conscius (Brent.). This indeed might stagger a David or a Jeremiah in a passion, as Psalms 73:2-17 Jeremiah 12:1 , and make a Diagoras or an Averroes turn atheist; but Job was better instructed in this point, as appeareth by many passages in this Book. See Job 21:16 ; Job 21:22 . Neither can any such thing be concluded from this text, if we take in the latter part of the verse.

Do they that know him not see his days? — The whole verse should be read thus, Why are not times hidden from the Almighty, seeing that they that know him do not see his days? that is, since his most knowing servants could never observe the times and the seasons (of punishing graceless persons here) which he hath put in his own power, Acts 1:7 . Abraham indeed (by special favour) was told that Sodom should be suddenly destroyed. And Moses could say, Wrath is gone out from the Lord, take a censer, …, Numbers 16:46 . As any one is more faithful and familiar with God, so much better and earlier doth he discern his judgments on the wicked, and is affected therewith. See Habakkuk 3:16 . See Trapp on " Habakkuk 3:16 " But there is no certain rule given us by what punishment to conclude a man wicked; neither can we safely say at what time or what manner and measure God will punish the ungodly in this present life. That of Austin is very right. Some wicked God punisheth here, lest his providence, and but some, lest his patience and promise of judgment, should be called into question.

Verse 2

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

Some remove the landmarks — Here he instanceth in all sorts of wicked persons, with their seculi laetitia, impunita nequitia; they go pointblank against God’s commandments; they please not him, and are contrary to all men; and yet who but they, so long as it will last? Some remove (or touch) the landmarks, which the very heathens held to be sacred, and not once to be touched. Numa, king of the Romans, made a law, that if any hid or removed a landmark he should be slain, by the next that met him, as a sacriligious person, or public pest, Inter ethnicos Terminus numinis loco habitus est. God’s law curseth such an offender, Deuteronomy 27:15-26 , and the civil laws pass sentence of death upon him. The Chaldee paraphrast and old Rabbis understand this and the following offences, of the old world, full of rapacity and impiety. But are there not the like and worse evils found also among us, upon whom the ends of the world are come, in these last and worst times, as Bernard fitly yoketh them? In his ultimis et pessimis temporibus. Read the catalogue and compare. Reckon, also, that you then read or hear this chapter aright, when, applying each passage to yourselves, you learn to wash your hands in innocence, or at least in tears for these abominations; as also, if ye be not offended at the prosperity of those who fall into all or but some of these wickednesses, since the time is at hand when account must be given of all things done in the body, whether good or evil.

They violently take away flocks, and feed thereof — Though they eat that on earth which they shall digest in hell. Or, and feed them; viz. openly and impudently, with as much insolence as injustice; and as if they had got them by right, and not by rapine and robbery. Lavater upon the text maketh mention of a certain Helvetian tyrant, who violently took away the oxen from the plough of an honest countryman, and told him that it was fit that clowns should draw the plough themselves, without the help of oxen.

Verse 3

They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.

They drive away the ass of the fatherless — The only ass of orphans, those helpless, shiftless creatures, so merciless are these abigei, which is no small aggravation of their injustice. see 2 Samuel 12:3 For all sins are not equal, as the Stoics once held, but lighter or heavier according to their circumstances. To rob the rich is a great offence, but to pillage the poor is far greater.

They take the widow’s ox for a pledge — Without which she cannot plough; or, her cow, as some render it, without which she and her children cannot live. A poor body’s livelihood is his life (as that poor widow’s was ολον τον βιον , Mark 12:44 , and the like is said of the haemorrhoisse, Luke 8:43 ), crush this snail in his shell, and you kill him. Now therefore albeit it be not unlawful to take a pledge for security in some cases; yet courtesy must be used, and mercy must be shown to orphans, widows, strangers, and such like, because they are God’s clients, and he hath taken them into his special care and tuition.

Verse 4

They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together.

They turn the needy out of the way — Either to make room for themselves, as the only men. Stand back, say the Sodomites to Lot, Genesis 19:9 . Stand further off, say those in Isaiah. See Proverbs 30:14 Amos 8:4 . Or else, because when these spoilers are abroad, they beset the ways, and no travellers, be they never so poor and needy, can pass freely by them (Beza); insomuch that they are constrained to leave the broad beaten way, and everywhere to seek out by ways and unknown passages, to escape their hands.

And the poor of the earth hide themselves together — Lest after their cattle driven away, as before, themselves, ut mancipia nexa, as slaves linked together (Junius), should be taken and carried away by them to such base offices, as are mentioned in the next verses. Tyrants are looked upon as so many comets or tempests. Attilas styleth himself, Dei flagellum, et orbis vastitatem, The scourge in God’s hand, and the world’s waste good; he arrogantly said, that the stars fell before him, the earth shook under him, and that he would make the inhabitants thereof wriggle into corners, as worms do into their holes when once it thundereth. We know who they were (even those worthies of whom the world was not worthy) who, hunted as partridges by their cruel persecutors, and driven out from house and home, wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth, Hebrews 11:38 , where they found the wild beasts were more mild and merciful to them than those hard hearted tyrants.

Verse 5

Behold, [as] wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey: the wilderness [yieldeth] food for them [and] for [their] children.

Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work — These barbarous and brutish oppressors, skilful to destroy, do live in this world as the wild ass doth in the wilderness, roving and rambling up and down for booty, Onagri inter feras sunt efferatissimi, neque unquam mansuescunt (Merc.), whereunto early in the morning they prepare and harness themselves, as if this were their trade and occupation whereby they must needs get their living. Hic labor, hoc opus, vel artificium eorum est, saith Lavater. As "man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening," Psalms 104:23 , so do these greedy cormorants, these evening wolves (as Micah calleth them), these spoilers "that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds: when the morning is light they practise it, because it is in the power of their hands. And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away," …, Micah 2:1-2 . Job had suffered much by the Arabian spoilers, those wild asses, who continue their old trade to this day, catching and snatching, vivitur ex rapto; neither can they be repelled or restrained by reason of their multitudes and their incredible swiftness (Fabric. in descrip. peregr. Hierosol.).

The wilderness yieldeth food, … — Their pillage is their tillage, their rapine their revenue, whereby they maintain themselves and theirs; as the wild ass picks out a living in the desert. But shall they thus escape by iniquity? Have they no other ways to work? no better mediums? Never think it. "In thine anger cast down the people, O God," Psalms 56:7 . He will do it; for the words are prophetic as well as optative. "Treasures of wickedness profit nothing," Proverbs 10:2 . Mammon of iniquity is the next odious name to the devil; and to the devil it will bring a man, 1 Timothy 6:9 . English Hubertus, a covetous oppressor, is said to have made this will: I yield my goods to the king, my body to the grave, my soul to the devil. Pope Sylvester II is said to have given his soul to the devil for seven years’ enjoyment of the popedom.

And for their children — We have a profane and false proverb, Happy is that child whose father goeth to the devil. O faithful drudge! said a graceless son once of such a father, who died and left him great store of ill gotten goods.

Verse 6

They reap [every one] his corn in the field: and they gather the vintage of the wicked.

They reap every one his corn in the field — The poor oppressed are made by them to harvest their crops, and tread their vintages in the end of the year ( sero colligunt ), as the Hebrew importeth, without either food or wages, or so much as a cup to drink, as the eleventh verse sets forth; which is extreme cruelty, and flatly forbidden, Deuteronomy 24:14-15 , and order taken that the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn should not be muzzled, Deuteronomy 25:4 . Quantum igitur iudicium, saith Brentius, How great judgments of God then will light upon those who do that to men of the same flesh, of the same faith, of the same country, with themselves, which they ought not to do to the brute creatures they make use of! Quod malum in Germania frequentissimum est; Vae igitur Germaniae: This, saith he, is a common sin in Germany; woe, therefore, to Germany. Think the same of England, and take notice that this is one of those crying sins that entereth into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, James 5:4 , and he will hear, for he is gracious, Exodus 22:27 . The words are otherwise sensed by some; but this to me seemeth most suitable to the subsequent verses.

Verse 7

They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that [they have] no covering in the cold.

They cause the naked to lodge without clothing — viz. By denying and detaining from them what they have earned, wherewith they should provide them garments, which are so called, quasi gardments: because they serve to guard men’s bodies from the injury of the weather. They cause them to lodge naked, because they have no clothing, so some read the text; they lay them open to the pinching cold of the night. And what a misery it is to lie cold and wet, and not to have wherewith to keep us warm and dry, in winter season especially, who knows not? Hic disce Deo gratus esse, saith Lavater. Here then learn thankfulness to God, thou that hast not only a warm and wholesome lodging room, but also good store of bedclothes; and those of the better sort too. Abuse not these blessings to pride and luxury, lest God turn in upon the spoilers and plunderers, who may leave thee little enough; leave thee nudum tanquam ex mari, as they did many in these late shredding and stripping times, Ezekiel 25:4 . God threateneth to send the men of the East to dwell (as so many Lord Danes) in their palaces, and to eat their milk, … When the children play with their meat, and cast it to the dogs, what can the father do less than bid take away?

Verse 8

They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter.

They are wet with the showers of the mountains — Wet they are, but not at all refreshed, as this word (here only found in the Bible) signifieth sometimes among the Rabbis. Cold comfort they find abroad; and at home they dare not abide, lest rich men should oppress them and draw them before the judgment seats, James 2:6 , or drag them to prison for refusing their drudgery. Hence they are forced to live in the mountains and desert places, in extreme misery.

And embrace the rock for want of a shelter — Like conies or wild beasts, glad of any lurking place that may keep them out of the hands of unreasonable and wicked men. What hardship have many worthy men in all ages suffered from persecutors and oppressors (in Dioclesian’s days especially), driven out of house and harbour, and glad to take up in any hole, there to lie on the cold stone instead of a warm bed (as that good duchess of Suffolk, with that noble gentleman her husband, did in the Low Countries, whither they fled from the Marian persecution), till, as Elijah once under the juniper, they wish themselves out of the world? Iterum hic disce gratias Deo agere, saith Lavater. Here again learn to give thanks to God for this great benefit, if thou mayest stay at home, and not be forced to flee for thy life, or for conscience’ sake; for home is home, as we say, and very desirable; and the apostle reckons it for a piece of his sufferings that he was ανεστιος , and had no settled station, no certain dwelling place, αστατουμεν , 1 Corinthians 4:11 .

Verse 9

They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor.

They pluck the fatherless from the breast — What can be more to be pitied than a fatherless suckling? Who less to be molested or violenced than the mother doing that office to her babe? In the Parisian Massacre one of the murderers took a little one in his arms, who smiled upon him and played with his beard; yet this barbarous wretch was so far from compassion, that he wounded it with his dagger, and so cast it all gore blood into the river (Acts and Mon.). The story of the infant of the isle of Guernsey, thrown back into the fire, out of which it had sprawled, is well known. So is the savage inhumanity of that merciless Minerius, the pope’s champion, who at Merindola, in France, cut off the paps of many which gave suck to their children; which, looking for suck at their mother’s breasts, being dead before, died also for hunger. Well, therefore, might our Saviour say, "Beware of men," Matthew 10:17 . It had been better the Indies had been given to the devils of hell, said those poor natives, than to those bloody Spaniards, who dashed the mothers in pieces upon their children, as once at Betharbel, Hosea 10:14 .

And take a pledge from the poor — Misery, which should beget pity in them, begetteth but audacity, and inviteth them to ruin the poor, and fill their houses with their spoils. Some render it thus, They take the poor for a pledge; sc. putting them to their ransom, and meanwhile enslaving them.

Verse 10

They cause [him] to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf [from] the hungry;

They cause him to go naked without clothing — Naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to their shame and danger, as Isaiah 20:4 . So dealt the Popish bishops with the poor Protestant Albigenses, at the rendition of Carcasson, in France; they let them have their lives upon the condition that both men and women should go thence stark naked; those parts that cannot well be named being laid open to the view of those pope-holy cruciates (Rivet. Jesuit).

And they take away the sheaf from the hungry — Or, the handful; that little that they had leazed; snatching the ears of corn out of their hands, and condemning them, thus denuded and despoiled, to a death which is so much the more cruel as it is tedious and languishing. Some read it thus, And those that carried their sheaves they made to go away hungry; either not feeding or not paying their harvest labourers and other servants. It is noted in history as a cruelty in the Athenians, that they put an engine about their servants’ necks called παυσικοπη , and it reached down to their hands, that they might not so much as lick of the meal when they were sifting it.

Verse 11

[Which] make oil within their walls, [and] tread [their] winepresses, and suffer thirst.

Which make oil within their walls, …See Trapp on " Job 24:6 " See Trapp on " Job 24:10 "

Verse 12

Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly [to them].

Men groan from out of the city — viz. Under the pressures of their oppressors. Thus did Jerusalem, that faithful city, when once become a harlot; it was full of judgment, righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers, Isaiah 1:21 . The like did the city of Rome, when, under the government of Marius set up against Sulla, she cried out that the remedy was worse than the disease; and under Pompey, Calamitas nostra magnus est; Our calamity is great, and under the Caesars, that the names of their good emperors might all be set down in the compass of a signet ring; and again under the popes, that for many years together she had not had the happiness to be ruled by any but reprobates; Heu, heu, Domine Deus, saith Fasciculus temporum, bitterly bewailing Rome’s misery under her turbulent tyrants, Hildebrand, Urban II (whom Cardinal Benno worthily calleth Turban), Boniface VIII, and many other such like monsters. Of most great cities it may be said, as of that strange vineyard in Palestine, Isaiah 5:7 , God "looked for judgment, but behold oppression" (Heb. a scab); "for righteousness, but behold a cry."

And the soul of the wounded (of the deadly wounded) crieth outAnima confossorum voci feratur, sc. For grief; and in prayer to God for ease.

Yet God layeth not folly to themDeus non ponit prohibitionem, so one of the Rabbis renereth it. God putteth not a stop to the proceedings, he punisheth not those tyrants who do oppress whole cities, making their lust a law, and overbearing all right with their Volumus et iubemus; we will and we judge, nothing at all moved with the groans of the oppressed city, or with the outcries of the wounded. Word for word it is, Deus non interponit insulsum quid, God interposeth not anything senseless or unsavoury; that is, he suffereth not any cross meanwhile to befall them; yea, he so carrieth the matter as if he favoured them; yea, approved and prospered their crafty and cruel practices: for they live happy, obtain victories, are magnified among men, they flatter themselves in their own eyes, until their iniquity be found to be hateful, Psalms 36:2 . Meanwhile, felix scelus virtus vocatur, as the orator speaketh, their prosperous villany is called virtue (Cicero, de Divin. lib. 2); and if any man mutter against them, yea, if he cry them not up, he is looked upon as a traitor, as Thraseas, that noble Roman, was by Nero (Dio in Ner.).

Verse 13

They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof.

They are of those that rebel against the light — Against the common light of the sun, say some, which they are ready to curse (as the Atlantes, a people of Ethiopia, are said to do), and could wish extinct, that they might sin unseen (Herodot.). Others more fitly understand it of the light of nature and Scripture; against which wicked atheists rise up and rebel; as malcontents and mutineers do against lawful authority. In the poor blind Ethnics it is to be seen that some few principles and notions of good and evil, right and wrong, truth and falsehood, are yet to be found in corrupt nature; like as when cities and great buildings are overthrown by war, some towers, some pinnacles, survive the violence. Now some desperate sinners against their own souls take the boldness to tear out these principles, that might any way disturb their course in sin; and to take an order with their natural consciences, clapping up those prophets from God, close prisoners, Romans 1:18 , till at length all that little light is lost, that rush candle quite extinct. When wine is poured out of a cup the sides are yet moist. But when it is rinsed and wiped, then remaineth not the least taste. Even so that glimmering of divine light left in the natural man is so defaced by obstinace in sin, that not the least spark thereof remaineth. These bats have flown so long against that light, that at length they have put it out. And whereas to those that live under the ordinances there is another light risen, viz. that of God’s word and works, graceless wretches shut their windows, lest this light should come in upon them, as the Pharisees did, John 3:18 . They hate it because their deeds are evil, saith our Saviour; they spurn and scorn at it, saith Solomon, Proverbs 1:7 .; they are willingly ignorant, saith Peter; they wink wilfully, saith Austin, martyr; Ut liberius peccent, libenter ignorant, saith Bernard, they rebel against the light, as Balaam did when he set his face toward the wilderness, and would needs curse howsoever. Or as Pharaoh, who sat not down under the miracle Moses wrought, but sent for the magicians. How many are there in this day, who, after conviction, get the bit between their teeth, like unruly horses, and run away!

They know not the ways thereof — A carnal heart is not willing to know what it should do, lest it should do what it would not do. Of such Bernard saith, that they seek straws to put out their own eyes with, Festucam quaerunt ut oculos eruant. If they seek after God’s ways, it is but as a coward seeketh after his enemy, with a hope he shall not find him. So he is loth to find, and fears to know, therefore be searcheth no further than will serve his turn, and the little light he hath he putteth not under a bushel, but under a dunghill. Woe be to these rebels, these solifugae that refuse, or abuse, gospel light! Turks and Pagans shall have an easier judgment. It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, saith Peter, than after they have known it, …, 2 Peter 2:21 . Gravis est lux conscientiae, Serious is the light of conscience, saith Seneca; but gravior est lux Evangelii, more serious is the light of the gospel, say we; if this light be hated by any, it is merely because it stands in the light of their wicked ways, as the angel did in Balaam’s way to his sin.

Nor abide in the paths thereof — They have no stability nor settledness in well doing. They follow not on to know, Hosea 6:3 , but soon give over the pursuit and practice of holiness; not caring to "add to faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge," …, 2 Peter 1:5 .

Verse 14

The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief.

The murderer rising with the light — Sometimes, while it is yet darkish; for here Job showeth how those that do evil hate the light, and take the fittest opportunities for a dispatch of the deeds of darkness, daily digging descents down to hell, and hastening thereto, as if they feared it would be full before they came thither. They spend, therefore, the whole day in wicked pranks and practices, prout videtur commodum, as shall seem best for their purposes, interdiu latrones, nocte fures agunt. By day they do what mischief they may in woods and deserts; at night they return into the city, and there play the thieves, hoping to do it unobserved. Thus every such one may better say than that ancient did, Totum tempus perdidi, quia perdite vixi, I have lost all my time, by spending it loosely and basely (Bernard). I have been too faithful a drudge to the devil, whom Christ calleth a murderer, John 8:44 , and Tertullian calleth Furem veritatis, a thief of the truth. Two notable thieves of Naples (whereof one was called Paternoster, and the other Ave Maria ) had murdered a hundred and sixteen different people, at different times and in various places (Rain. de Idol. Rom. praefat.). These were worthily put to a cruel death by the magistrate; who possibly might, by his connivance and slackness in doing his office, be himself guilty of some of those murders; since, to restrain justice is to support sin, and not to correct is to consent to the crime. Hemingius maketh mention of a felon, who was indicted from seven murders; while the judge was studying what grievous punishment should be inflicted upon such a bloody villain, an advocate steps to the bar, and pleading for him, proved, That the judge was guilty of six of the murders; for the felon was not put to death for the first offence.

Killeth the poor and needy — Without authority (such as magistrates have to kill malefactors, and soldiers in a lawful battle to kill their enemies. Sum Talbotti pro occidere inimicos meos; I am Talbot’s for to kill my enemies, this blunt boisterous sentence was written upon the renowned L. Talbot’s sword, while he warred in France), and without any present necessity for his own lawful defence, as Exodus 2:22 , when he must either kill or be killed; provided that he endeavour first to save himself by flight, if possibly he can (Speed.). For that tenet of Soto, a Popish casuist, is the most false, That it is lawful for a man in his own defence to kill another, because it is a shame to flee, Quia fuga est ignominiosa. And that also of Navarrus, that for a box on the ear it is not unlawful to kill another, for the recovering of his honour, Ad honorem recuperandum.

And in the night is as a thief — That is, is a very thief; for this as is magis expressivum veritatis, as Mercer speaketh, he would not seem to be, but yet is an arrant thief, ending the day with theft which he began with murder. How these two sins go commonly coupled, see Hosea 4:2 Isaiah 13:16 .

Verse 15

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

The eye also of the adulterer waiteth — Observeth, expecteth, and longeth till it cometh. Ut videas illum non peccare infirmitate sed malitin, saith Vatablus. This showeth that he sinneth not of infirmity, but of forethought, malice, and wickedness; which he plotteth and plougheth, as the Scripture phraseth it, purveying for the flesh, Romans 13:14 , putrefying alive, under a tabes of impure lusts, and daily perishing therein, as Tiberius, at Capreae, by his own confession, Quotidie perire me sentio (Suet.). This beast was not ashamed of his detestable filthiness; as being a most impure and impudent defiler of other men’s beds. But the adulterer here spoken of seeks the covert of the twilight, and another of a disguise. He putteth his face in a secret place, so the Hebrew hath it, wrapping it in his cloak, or getting on a vizard, which, saith he, shall render me unknown, and no eye shall see me. For as for God’s eye, either he conceits him blind or presumes him indulgent, not doubting an easy and speedy pardon. This is charged upon David, 2 Samuel 12:10 , "because thou hast despised me," …, viz. in thinking to sin secretly, not considering mine all seeing eye, not caring though I looked on, …, therefore shall all come to light, Job 24:12 . Sin secretly committed shall be strangely discovered; yea, perhaps the sinner himself shall confess his sins, as Judas. So, sooner or later, "God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing," Ecclesiastes 12:14 ; see also /Apc Sirach 33:13-17

Verse 16

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

In the dark they dig through the earth, … — Heb. He digs through houses; i.e. the adulterer doth, to come at his strumpet, with whom he had agreed upon a place of meeting for that evil purpose, and in whose bosom by night (the dark and black night, as Solomon calleth it, Proverbs 7:9 ) he spareth not to bury his name, substance, soul, and carcass, while they glut their unclean desires by the favour of the darkness. This is a bitterness beyond that of death, Ecclesiastes 7:26 . But the devil presenteth his butter in so lordly a dish, that the soul spies not the hammer and nail in his hand till he have driven it into the temples. Roger Mortimer, who dug that hole at Nottingham castle, and was afterwards hanged at Tyburn (a just reward of his ambition and uncleanness), had the experience of this.

They know not the lighti.e. They brook it not, but run full butt against it, because it discovereth and disquieteth them. See Job 24:13 .

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.

For the morning is unto them as the shadow of deathi.e. They are in deadly fear lest the light should bewray them, and expose them to condign punishment. How fearful was Judah of being shamed after he had thus sinned! Genesis 38:23 ; and how forward to save his credit by sending his kid by the hand of that hang by Hiram! That young man in Terence (in Eun.) was sore ashamed to be seen in the eunuch’s garment, a token of his uncleanness; whereas to have done the deed did nothing so much trouble him. But the children of light hate and shun sin more for the filth that is in it than for the fire that is in it; the blackness of that coal offendeth them more than the heat of it. Plato condemneth the poets for setting forth Jupiter’s adulteries, whereby the people were drawn to the like wantonness; and for saying, it were no matter though men did commit sin, so they could hide it, Wς λυσιτελει το αδικειν εαν λανθανη . Si non caste, saltem caute, say the Popish shavelings, who are sometimes taken in the manner, as was that carnal Cardinal Cremonensis, the Pope’s legate here, in Henry VlII’s days, and Dr Weston, dean of Windsor, in the reign of Queen Mary, apprehended in adultery, and for the same deprived of all his spiritual livings by Cardinal Pole. Pope John XII being taken to bed with another man’s wife, was killed immediately by her husband. In Germany, a gentleman of note and his harlot were served in like sort, as Luther relateth. So was Rodoaldus VIII, king of Lombardy, and Sergus, a king of Scotland (P. Mel. Chron. Lang. Chron.). Of all these, and many more eiusdem furfuris, it may well be said, as here, that being noted and notified, they were in the terrors of the shadow of death. Which death to escape,

Verse 18

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

He is swift as the waters — He stays not long in a place, but flees away swiftly (like the river Tigris, swift as an arrow out of a bow), to avoid punishment. Heb. He is light upon the face of the waters. The meaning is, saith one, they are as a light thing upon the streams of water running swiftly, and carrying it away with speed. Some, that it is spoken in respect to their swift passing on from one wickedness to another, or their never being settled after such wickedness committed, but always ready to be overturned, as a ship that is unballasted, and so to be drowned in the sea.

Their portion is cursed in the earth — Cain like, they wander up and down, a corde suo facti fugitivi, but their sin will surely find them out; neither can they run out of the reach of God’s rod, … This Job saith, lest any should gather, from what he had said before, that it should be always well with the wicked and ill with the godly. Some take it as a curse, Let their portion on earth be accursed, neither let them turn themselves to the vineyards; sc. either to dress them or to taste of the fruits of them.

He beholdeth not the way of the vineyards — That is, say some, to run away by them, which were common ways to cities, but by some other obscure byway, that he may not be found. In vineyards something is to be done at all times, that way therefore they take not, lest they should be discovered and punished. Beza rendereth it, He turneth not into the way (that is, the nature) of the vines, which, by cutting and pruning, sprouteth out, and becometh more profitable. Others sense it far otherwise. The concise brevity and ambiguity of the words, together with the change of number, hath caused a cloud upon them.

Verse 19

Drought and heat consume the snow waters: [so doth] the grave [those which] have sinned.

Drought and heat consume the snow waters — Here also brevity hath bred obscurity. Snow waters, as they are more subtile, so they sooner sink into the dry earth; so die the wicked, quickly and easily. See Job 21:13 ; Job 21:31 . There are that read the whole verse thus, In the drought and heat they rob, and in the snow waters; they sin to the grave; that is, they rob (and run into other flagitious practices) in all weather, summer and winter, and never stop till they die. They persist in their sins (saith Calvin) wherein they have been muzzled up, even to their grave. This is a good sense. Luther tells of one filthy adulterer, so set upon that sin that he was heard to utter these abominable words, If I were sure to live here for ever, and that I might still be carried from one brothel house to another, I would never desire any other heaven than that. Vae dementiae, et impietati. This beastly man breathed out his wretched soul between two harlots. Once I knew a most odious adulterer of seventy years old (saith another great divine, Mr Dan. Roger) who having wasted his flesh and state with harlots, and lying near death, was requested thus, Potter, call upon God; he replied, with his ordinary oaths, Pox (boils) and wounds, is this a time to pray? I knew (saith a third reverend man, Mr Bolton), a great swearer, who coming to his death bed, Satan so filled his heart with a maddened and enraged greediness after sin, that though himself swore as fast and as furiously as he could, yet (as though he had been already among the bannings and blasphemies of hell) he desperately desired the bystanders to help him with oaths, and to swear for him. Athenaeus reporteth of one covetous mammonist, that at the hour of his death he devoured many pieces of gold, and sewed the rest in his coat, commanding that they should be all buried with him. And our chroniclers write of King Edward I that he adjured his son and nobles, that if he died in his expedition against Bruce, king of Scots, they should not inter his corpse, but carry it about Scotland, till they had avenged him on that usurper (Dan. Hist. 201).

Verse 20

The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him; he shall be no more remembered; and wickedness shall be broken as a tree.

The womb shall forget him — Some read it, The merciful man forgetteth him; sc. because he himself was merciless. Or because he was a trouble to the world, and a common pest, therefore good men are glad to be so rid of him; and instead of sighing over him, say, Let the worm feed sweetly on him, it is well he is gone; as he lived wickedly so he died wickedly; let him be no more remembered or honourably mentioned, but moulder away, and fall as a rotten tree. Others interpret the words of the sudden and easy death of the wicked, thus, The womb shall forget him; that is, saith Beza, being once dead, neither his mother nor his wife do bewail and lament his death, because without that pain and torment that many suffer when they depart the world.

The worm shall feed sweetly on himMorifur impunitus, be maketh the worms a feast with his fat corpse (as Dr Taylor, martyr, made account to have done, if buried in Hadleigh churchyard), and feels no pain.

He shall be no more remembered — And this is reckoned up as a piece of his happiness. See Ecclesiastes 8:10 . See Trapp on " Ecclesiastes 8:10 "

And wickedness — That is, the wicked person, that crooked piece, that can hardly ever be set straight again.

Shall be broken as a tree — As a rotten tree blown down by the wind.

Verse 21

He evil entreateth the barren [that] beareth not: and doeth not good to the widow.

He evil entreateth the barren that beareth not — Who had more need to be comforted than further afflicted. But homo homini daemon. Jacob and Elkanah loved and comforted their wives under this cross. The Vulgate rendereth it, He hath fed the barren, whereupon some expound it of wicked men’s feeding whores, and maintaining them for their pleasure; keeping them barren, that they may keep their beauty.

And doeth not good to the widowi.e. Doth her much hurt; for not to do good is to do evil, Mark 3:4 . He hath afflicted his barren wife, and evilly intreated the poor desolate widow, his mother. What marvel than if the womb forget him, …, if his wife bewail not so unkind a husband, nor his mother so unnatural a son, as Mark 3:30: thus Beza here.

Verse 22

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

He draweth also the mighty with his poweri.e. He hath brought them by force under his girdle, and compelled them to do him homage and service.

He riseth up — In the fuluess of his might, as "a king, against whom there is no rising up," Proverbs 30:31 .

And no man is sure of life — Which the tyrant taketh away at his pleasure. Or thus, the tyrant himself, after he hath made all cock sure, as he may think, is not yet sure of his own life, dare not confide in his best friends. Dionysius, for instance, and our Richard III. The Hebrew is, And he is not sure of life.

Verse 23

[Though] it be given him [to be] in safety, whereon he resteth; yet his eyes [are] upon their ways.

Though it be given him to be in safety — Heb. It is given him to be in safety, whereon he resteth. His safety and prosperity was given him for a better purpose; but (as if God had hired him to be wicked) he abuseth it to creature confidence, leaning too hard upon the arm of flesh.

Yet his eyes are upon their ways — Nevertheless God prospereth them (according to Psalms 34:11 ). Or, as others sense it, God eyeth their wicked ways, and designeth them to destruction. And the next verse seemeth to make for this interpretation.

Verse 24

They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all [other], and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn.

They are exalted for a little while — Or, they are exalted, but within a little while they are not. This former part of the verse needeth no exposition, saith an expositor. And as for the latter,

They are taken away as all others, they are cut off as the tops of the ears of corn — It may be understood that the like violence wherewith tyrants shall be cut off, by which they have cut off other mighty and great men; Velut farrisspicae succiduntur (Trem. ex Varr.), as Thrasibulus, king of the Milesians, by striking off with his staff certain ears of corn, and Tarquin, king of the Romans, by doing the like to certain poppies in his garden, signified their minds to have various chief men beheaded; which was accordingly accomplished. So Mithridates, king of Pontus, by one letter caused the death of eighty thousand Romans, trading throughout Asia (Val. Max.). Now God loveth to retaliate, as hath been said before. See it exemplified in Adonibezek, Agag, Haman, and others.

Verse 25

And if [it be] not [so] now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth?

And if it be not so now, who will make me a liar?Quis ementietur me? Who shall disprove or confute what I have affirmed? viz. That God doth many things, the depth whereof we cannot fathom, and that he let wicked men many times spend their days in pleasure, and end them without pain. This I will abide by, and I would fain see the man, qui ausit et possit, who can and will maintain the contrary.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 24". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/job-24.html. 1865-1868.
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