Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 12:24

"He deprives of intelligence the chiefs of the earth's people And makes them wander in a pathless waste.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   Atheism;   Philosophy;   The Topic Concordance - God;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Understanding;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Greatness of God;   Hypocrisy;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Wilderness;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Chaos;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Job;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

He taketh away the heart of the chief - Suddenly deprives the leaders of great counsels, or mighty armies of courage; so that, panic-struck, they flee when none pursueth, or are confounded when about to enter on the accomplishment of important designs.

And causeth them to wander in a wilderness - A plain allusion to the journeyings of the Israelites in the deserts of Arabia, on their way to the promised land. Their chief, Aaron, had his courage all taken away by the clamors of the people; and so made them a molten calf to be the object of their worship, which defection from God was the cause of their wandering nearly forty years in the trackless wilderness. The reference is so marked, that it scarcely admits of a doubt; yet Houbigant and some others have called it in question, and suppose that those chiefs or heads of families which led out colonies into distant parts are principally intended. It answers too well to the case of the Israelites in the wilderness to admit of any other interpretation.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 12:24". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-12.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

He taketh away the heart - The word heart here evidently means mind, intelligence, wisdom; see the notes at Job 12:3.

Of the chief of the people - Hebrew “Heads of the people;” that is, of the rulers of the earth. The meaning is, that he leaves them to infatuated and distracted counsels. By withdrawing from them, he has power to frustrate their plans, and to leave them to an entire lack of wisdom; see the notes at Job 12:17.

And causeth them to wander in a wilderness - They are like persons in a vast waste of pathless sands without a waymark, a guide, or a path. The perplexity and confusion of the great ones of the earth could not be more strikingly represented than by the condition of such a lost traveler.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 12:24". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-12.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth,.... The people of the earth are the common people; the "chief" or "heads"F6ראשי "capitum", Montanus, Cocceius, Schmidt, Michaelis, Schultens. of them, as it may be rendered, are kings, princes and generals of armies; whose "hearts" may be said to be "taken away" when they are dispirited, and deprived both of courage and conduct; have neither valour nor wisdom, neither fortitude of mind, nor military skill to defend themselves and their people against their enemies. Sephorno interprets this of Sihon and Og, whose spirits the Lord hardened, and made their hearts obstinate to war with Israel, Deuteronomy 2:30; but it may be better understood of the Israelites, and the heads of them, when they were discomfited by the Amalekites, quickly after their coming out of Egypt, see Numbers 14:45; about which time Job lived: and the rather, since it follows,

and caused them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way: no track, no beaten path to follow, to be a guide to them, and direct their way; in such a wilderness the Israelites wandered near forty years, see Psalm 107:40.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 12:24". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-12.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

heart — intelligence.

wander in a wilderness — figurative; not referring to any actual fact. This cannot be quoted to prove Job lived after Israel‘s wanderings in the desert. Psalm 107:4, Psalm 107:40 quotes this passage.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 12:24". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-12.html. 1871-8.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 12:24 He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness [where there is] no way.

Ver. 24. He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people] That is, of the greatest part of the people of the world (say some). These God suffereth to walk in their own ways, Acts 14:16; to become vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart is darkened; professing themselves to be wise, they become fools, Romans 1:21-22. As the philosophers of old, and the Chinese at this day, who are known to be ingenious, and used to say of themselves, that all other nations of the world see but with one eye, they only with two (Description of the World, of China and Cataia), yet continue they gross idolaters, mere heathens, having no less than a hundred thousand gods, which they worship one while and whip another, if they come not at a call. But the most interpreters, by chief or heads of the people, here understand their governors, of whom, though Job had said as much in effect before, [Job 12:17] viz. that God dispiriteth and besotteth them for a plague to the people who follow their rulers (and fall with them), as the body of a beast followeth the head; yet because few observe and improve this truth, therefore he repeateth and illustrateth it by three elegant similes. And first,

He causeth them to wander in a wilderness, &c.] Not knowing which way to extricate themselves. They beat their brains about it, but to no purpose; they are so bewildered and puzzled, as if they were treading a maze; and this God causeth, he is active in it, while he withdraws his light, and delivereth them up to their own foolish hearts, and to the prince of darkness, to be further benighted, 2 Corinthians 4:4.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 12:24". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-12.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Job 12:24. He taketh away the heart, &c.— Bishop Warburton thinks that these words allude to the wandering of the Israelites forty years in the wilderness. But whoever will be at the pains to consult the Hebrew, will find that there is no mention of any wilderness or desart in the passage. The word תהו tohu, so rendered, properly signifies confusion, and is the very word used Genesis 1 to express the chaos before the world was brought into form; so that the persons here said to wander in the wilderness, were only bewildered in a metaphorical sense; and so Schultens understands it. It might be rendered, and causeth them to wander in inextricable confusion. Moreover, the wandering of the Israelites was that of a whole people; this is only of the chiefs or heads of the people. Peters. Houbigant thinks that Job refers here to those chiefs or heads of families who, in the first ages of the world, led out colonies into new countries; and especially to such as God in his anger dispersed into distant and solitary places. He says, they are wholly wide of the mark, toto coelo, who suppose that the passage has any reference to the Israelites in the wilderness.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Exasperated by such treatment and insinuations, Job replies with equal severity, and returns the more justly deserved rebuke.

1. He ridicules their arrogance in conceiting themselves the only living oracles: No doubt but ye are the people, ironically admitting their pretensions as the only wise men in the world, compared with whom, Job and others were as the wild ass, ignorant and stupid, and wisdom shall die with you; to be sure, when you are gone the world will, for went of such instructions, soon grow brutish. Note; (1.) Nothing is more disgusting and offensive than the boasts of vanity. (2.) A high conceit of our own importance is as foolish as it is sinful.

2. He pleads a right to the exercise of reason, as well as they: But I have understanding as well as you; my natural faculties are unimpaired; and if I claim equality with you, I may do it without presumption, for I am not inferior to you in parts or knowledge; or falling before you, as one vanquished; or, more than you, an apostate from God, as was suggested. Yea, who knoweth not such things as these? What they had discoursed of the wisdom, justice, power, and sovereignty of God, were subjects that he was equally acquainted with, and which others could speak of as knowingly as they had done; they need not, therefore, on that account think so highly of themselves. Note; (1.) Though a wise man never chooses to speak in his own praise, there may be times when self-vindication may oblige us, as it may seem, to boast ourselves a little, 2 Corinthians 11:6. (2.) When we differ from others in sentiment, it becomes us neither to be overbearing, nor to despise them, however clear the argument may appear to us: they are men as well as we, and may be endued with equal, perhaps superior, understanding.

3. He complains of their insolent usage. I am as one mocked of his neighbour; for so it appeared to him, who expected comfort from his friends, and found nothing but railing accusation; and this was the more cruel from a professor of religion, such as each of them appeared, who calleth upon God, and he answereth him; or he means himself, who, though they insinuated his neglect of prayer, continued ceaseless at a throne of grace. Note; (1.) It is a sore trial to be trodden upon in our afflictions, especially by those from whom we might have hoped for kinder treatment. (2.) When we are reduced in our circumstances, we are apt to be over-jealous, to pervert every inattention into a designed slight, and in trouble to account every word of reproof a reproach and cruelty. (3.) It is a comfort, amidst all the censures of men, even sometimes of good men, that we have a throne of judgment open, and are there sure to be heard with impartiality.

4. He proceeds to confute their suggestion that the righteous were always externally happy. The just upright man is laughed to scorn; it was not merely his own case, but the frequent lot of the righteous: thus Noah, Lot, and others, fared from wicked men. He that is ready to slip with his feet, the righteous in affliction, is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease: the sinners in affluence despise his troubles, and he appears like the lamp ready to go out, the snuff of which is disagreeable and nauseous. Note; (1.) Religion, and the sincere professors of it, have been objects of mockery and scorn in every age: let it not then appear strange if we share in their reproach. (2.) It is too common to see poverty slighted and scorned by those who are at ease; but the portion of Lazarus at the gate is still infinitely preferable to that of Dives at the table.

2nd, The two grand positions that Job's friends lay down he effectually controverts. First, he affirms the sufferings of the upright, and then remarks the prosperity of the wicked.

1. The tabernacles of robbers prosper, such as the Sabaeans who plundered his substance, and many other wicked men who build up their houses by oppression and fraud; and they that provoke God by open and daring iniquities are secure, and frequently in this world live in affluence and at ease: into whose hand God bringeth abundantly of every temporal blessing. Note; (1.) They who abuse the gifts of God, or by dishonest gain enrich themselves, however fair their character may appear among men, will be counted robbers in the day of God. (2.) Many have a rich portion in this life, who have none in another.

2. He appeals for the truth of what he advances to all the creatures, among whom in general the most innocent are the prey to the most rapacious; or he bids them observe the flocks and herds of the wicked, their tables covered with fish and fowl, and every delicacy; and then they will be convinced whether they are in general most affluent who are most pious. Or this is urged as an answer to what Zophar had advanced, of the wisdom, power, and dominion of God, in which there was no such mystery as he seemed to intimate, chap. Job 11:7.; but it might all be read as immediately respecting the brute creation. They were the work of the hands of Jehovah (which name of God nowhere else occurs throughout the whole book); they subsisted by his care, and were at his sovereign disposal: truths clear and evident to enlightened reason, as sounds to the attentive ear, or different savours to the palate; or he intimates, that, if any unprejudiced ear heard their dispute, he would as easily discover the perverseness of their arguments, and the solidity of his own, as the taste discerns between sweet and bitter. Note; The fallen understanding is like a vitiated palate, unable rightly to taste or relish; but when God gives the hearing ear, then we are able to prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good.

3rdly, Job had asserted, that he was not inferior to his friends in understanding; and he shews it.

1. By exalting the wisdom and power of God as much as they had done. However wise the ancients were, and however deeply skilled by long experience any man might appear, he was nothing compared with God, the Ancient of Days, whose wisdom is infinite, his counsels and understanding deep and unfathomable, and his strength almighty and irresistible. Note; If fierce disputants would lay aside the weapons of controversy, and desire to improve the undisputed and glorious truths that both sides admitted, how much more would it be to their own and others' edification and comfort?

2. He mentions a variety of instances wherein this wisdom of God appeared in the various dispensations of his providence in the world. (1.) There is frequently no building up what he makes desolate, as the cities of Sodom; nor any possibility of delivering his prisoners, especially when shut up in the dungeon of hell, where there is a great gulph fixed, so that none, once entered, can ever pass from thence. (2.) He has different engines, able to act either way for the punishment of the sinner, when he pleases. If he bind up the clouds, drought and famine consume the earth; if he open the windows of heaven, a deluge sweeps away the ungodly. Note; If God withhold the rain of Divine influence from an unfaithful soul, it must quickly wither; or if he pour forth the flood of his wrath upon us, who may abide it? (3.) From him is derived all the wisdom of man, the deceived and the deceiver are his; so that the crafty can proceed no farther than his permission: and, as he pleases, he can counteract and disappoint all their deep devices, and make them subservient to the purposes of his own glory. Note; Though all the evil in the world proceeds from the abuse of what God bestows, and can proceed no farther than he pleases, yet is he in no wise to be charged as the author of the evil, which is wholly man's own work. (4.) As an evidence of what was asserted, a proof is added in the infatuation that God is pleased to put on the counsels of the wise; as in the case of Ahitophel, he maketh even those, who, as most eminent for understanding, were created judges in the land, foolish in their determinations. (5.) The greatest are equally under his dominion with the lowest. Kings are not too high for him to humble; he can loose their bonds, the tyrannical oppressions which they laid on their subjects; or their girdles, the ensigns of royalty, strip them off, reduce them to badges of servitude, so that their honour fades into contempt, and all their might affords them no protection. Note; No might of body, no advancement of station, not even the thrones of kings, are the least security, when God pleases to lay men's honour in the dust. (6.) The persuasive orator, intrusted with the concerns of state, who had words at will, hesitates, and is confused, if God withholds his help; and the aged senator, renowned for wisdom, becomes foolish. Have we ready utterance, or solid understanding? Be it remembered who made man's mouth, and teacheth him knowledge, lest, abusing these gifts to minister to our pride, confusion and folly should be our righteous punishment! (7.) The deep-laid plots of men his eye sees, his providence unfolds; the sins covered with darkness, thick as the shadow of death, are unveiled to their perpetual shame. Note; Let no sinner promise himself secrecy or impunity; there is an eye that pierces the darkness, from which no workers of iniquity can hide themselves. (8.) Nations are increased or diminished at his will. They prosper by his arm, and, that withdrawn, rush into ruin. Note; National strength is from God; if he be provoked, when at the summit of prosperity, by undiscerned means, he can quickly breed division, and the disjointed structure falls by its own weight. (9.) The greatest generals and wisest commanders, deprived by him of valour and counsel, lose their courage, are sunk with panic fear, utterly at a loss how to act, and, by mistakes gross as darkness, stumble, and lose the power of resistance, like a drunken man: so weak are the wisest and greatest without God; and so sure is it, that wisdom and power alone belong unto the Lord, and can only be derived from him.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 12:24". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/job-12.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The heart; which signifies either,

1. Their courage, as Psalms 76:12; or rather,

2. Their wisdom and counsel, as Job 5:13 Isaiah 3:4, as the following words show.

The chief; either for place and power, or for wisdom and conduct.

Causeth them to wander in a wilderness, i.e. fills them with confusion, and uncertainty, and perplexity of mind, so that they know not how to govern themselves or their people.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 12:24". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-12.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

24.The heart — The same word, and perhaps the same allusion, as in Job 12:3. The first clause of the 21st verse, and the last clause of this, are literally reproduced in Psalms 107:40. “A plain allusion,” says Dr. Adam Clarke, “to the journeyings of the Israelites in the deserts of Arabia on their way to the promised land.” The Koran has a similar thought in connexion with the leadership of Moses: “God causeth to err whom he pleaseth, and directeth whom he pleaseth.” (Sur. Job 14:5.)

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 12:24". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-12.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Changeth. Hebrew, "taketh away the heart," or prudence "of princes." Hence they follow the most absurd counsels, Isaias xxix. 19. (Calmet) --- No way. This was the case of Pharao, when he pursued the Israelites into the sea; (Tirinus) and the like may rationally be feared by those princes, who attempt to make innovations in the true religion, or in the sound laws of a kingdom. (Menochius)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 12:24". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-12.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

heart. Put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of Cause), App-6, for the courage given by it.

wilderness = a pathless tohu. Compare note on Genesis 1:2.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 12:24". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/job-12.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way.

He taketh away the heart - intelligence.

Wander in a wilderness - figurative; not referring to any actual fact. This cannot be quoted to prove Job lived after Israel's wanderings in the desert. Psalms 107:4; Psalms 107:40, quotes this passage.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 12:24". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-12.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way.
He taketh
20; 17:4; Isaiah 6:9,10; 19:1; Daniel 4:16,33; Hosea 7:11
and causeth
Psalms 107:4,40
in a wilderness {Bethohoo,} "in chaos," i
&e., in a state of utter confusion; it is the same word which is employed in Ge 1:2, to describe the chaotic state of the earth at the creation.
Reciprocal: 1 Corinthians 1:20 - hath

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 12:24". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-12.html.