Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 5:5

"His harvest the hungry devour And take it to a place of thorns, And the schemer is eager for their wealth.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Wicked (People);  
Dictionaries:
Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Greatness of God;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Agriculture;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Harvest;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Thorns, Thistles, Etc;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Agriculture;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Harvest;   Robber;   Thorns;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Whose harvest - Their possessions, because acquired by unjust means, shall not be under the protection of God's providence; he shall abandon them to be pillaged and destroyed by the wandering half-starved hordes of the desert banditti. They shall carry it suddenly off; even the thorns - grain, weeds, thistles, and all, shall they carry off in their rapacious hurry.

The robber swalloweth us - Or, more properly, the thirsty, צמים tsammim, as is plain from their swallowing up or gulping down; opposed to the hungry or half-starved, mentioned in the preceding clause. The hungry shall eat up their grain, and the thirsty shall drink down their wine and oil, here termed חילם cheylam, their strength or power, for the most obvious reasons.

There seem to be two allusions in this verse: 1. To the hordes of wandering predatory banditti, or half-starved Arabs of the desert, who have their scanty maintenance by the plunder of others. These descendants of Ishmael have ever had their hands against all men, and live to this day in the same predatory manner in which they have lived for several thousands of years. M. Volney's account of them is striking: "These men are smaller, leaner, and blacker, than any of the Bedouins yet discovered. Their wasted legs had only tendons without calves. Their belly was shrunk to their back. They are in general small, lean, and swarthy, and more so in the bosom of the desert than on the borders of the more cultivated country. They are ordinarily about five feet or five feet two inches high; they seldom have more than about six ounces of food for the whole day. Six or seven dates, soaked in melted butter, a little milk, or curd, serve a man for twenty-four hours; and he seems happy when he can add a small portion of coarse flour, or a little ball of rice. Their camels also, which are their only support, are remarkably meagre, living on the meanest and most scanty provision. Nature has given it a small head without ears, at the end of a long neck without flesh. She has taken from its legs and thighs every muscle not immediately requisite for motion; and in short has bestowed on its withered body only the vessels and tendons necessary to connect its frame together. She has furnished it with a strong jaw, that it may grind the hardest aliments; and, lest it should consume too much, she has straitened its stomach, and obliged it to chew the cud." Such is the description given of the Bedouin and his camel, by M. Volney, who, while he denies the true God, finds out a deity which he calls Nature, whose works evince the highest providence, wisdom, and design! And where does this most wonderful and intelligent goddess dwell? Nowhere but in the creed of the infidel; while the genuine believer knows that nature is only the agent created and employed by the great and wise God to accomplish, under his direction, the greatest and most stupendous beneficial effects. The second allusion in the verse I suppose to be to the loss Job had sustained of his cattle by the predatory Sabeans; and all this Eliphaz introduces for the support of his grand argument, to convict Job of hidden crimes, on which account his enemies were permitted to destroy his property; that property, because of this wickedness, being placed out of the protection of God's providence.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 5:5". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-5.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Whose harvest the hungry eateth up - That is, they are not permitted to enjoy the avails of their own labor. The harvest field is subject to the depredations of others, who contrive to possess themselves of it, and to consume it.

And taketh it even out of the thorns - Or, he seizes it to the very thorns. That is, the famished robber seizes the whole of the harvest. He takes it all away, even to the thistles, and chaff, and cockle, and whatever impure substances there may be growing with the grain. He does not wait to separate the grain from the other substances, but consumes it all. He spares nothing.

And the robber swalloweth up their substance - Noyes renders this, as Gesenius proposes to do, “and a snare gapeth after his substance;” Dr. Good, “and rigidly swoopeth up their substance.” Rosenmuller much better:

Cujusquo facultates oxhauriebant sitibundi, copying exactly the version of Castellio. The Vulgate in a similar manner, Et bibent sitientes divitias ejus - And the thirsty drink up his wealth. The Septuagint, ἐκσιφωνισθείη αὐτῶν ἡ ἰσχύς eksifōnisthein autōn hē ischus - “should their power be absorbed.” The true sense, as I conceive, is, “the thirsty gasp, or pant, after their wealth;” that is, they consume it. The word rendered in our common version “the robber צמים tsammı̂ym is, according to the ancient versions, the same as צמאים tsâmê'ı̂ym the thirsty, and this sense the parallelism certainly requires. So obvious is this, that it is better to suppose a slight error in the Hebrew text, than to give it the signification of a snare,” as Noyes does, and as Gesenius (Lexicon) proposes. The word rendered “swalloweth up” (שׁאף shâ'aph ) means, properly, to breathe hard, to pant, to blow; and then to yawn after, to desire, to absorb; and the sense here is, that the thirsty consume their property. The whole figure is taken from robbers and freebooters; and I have no doubt that Eliphaz meant impliedly to allude to the ease of Job, and to say that he had known just such cases, where, though there was great temporary prosperity, yet before long the children of the man who was prospered, and who professed to be pious, but was not, were crushed, and his property taken away by robbers. It was this similarity of the case of Job to the facts which he had observed, that staggered him so much in regard to his cbaracter.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 5:5". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-5.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Whose harvest the hungry eateth up,.... This is to be understood of the foolish rich man before described, as taking root and flourishing; though he sows, and reaps and gathers in his harvest, and fancies he has goods laid up for many years, to be enjoyed by him, yet he is taken away by death, and another eats what he has gathered; either his hungry heirs, that he has kept bare, and without the proper necessaries of life; or the poor whom he has oppressed, who, driven by hunger, seize upon his harvest, and eat it up, whether he be alive or dead: Sephorno interprets this of the wicked man himself, who should eat up his own harvest, and not have enough to satisfy him, the curse of God being upon his land; and another learned interpreterF19Schmidt. thinks the sense is, that such should be the curse of God on the fields of wicked men, that they should produce no more than what was usually left to the poor, and therefore should have no need to gather it:

and taketh it even out of the thorns; that is, either the hungry man takes the harvest out of the thorns, among which it grows, see Matthew 13:7; or which he had gotten "through the thorns", as Mr. Broughton renders it; that is, the owner, through many difficulties; and hunger will break through many to get at it; or though his harvest being got in, is enclosed with a thorn hedge, the hungry man gets through it, and takes it out from it, surrounded by it; the above mentioned Jewish writer understands this also of the wicked man, who takes his own harvest out from among the thorns, so that there is nothing left for the poor and his friends, as it is meet there should: the wordF20מצנים "de lanceis", Bolducius. צנה "est et elypeus, umbo", Codurcus. for "thorns" has also the signification of armour, particularly of shields; hence the Targum is,"and armed men with warlike arms shall take it away;'to which agrees the Vulgate Latin version,"and the armed men shall take it away;'that is, soldiers should forage, spoil, and destroy it:

and the robber swalloweth up their substance; the house robber, who breaks in and devours all at once, and makes a clear riddance of it; some render it "the hairy man"F21צמים "comatus", Cocceius, Schmidt; "horridus", Junius & Tremellius. either that neglects his hair, as beggars, or such that live in desert places, as robbers, that they may appear the more terrible; or that take care of it, and nourish it, and tie it up in locks, and behind their heads, as Bar Tzemach and Ben Melech observe they do in Turkey; others translate it "the thirsty"F23Sitientes, V. L. "sitibundi", Montanus, Bolducius; so Simeon Bar Tzemach. , and so it answers to the hungry in the preceding clause, and designs such who thirst, and gape after, and covet the substance of others, and greedily catch at it, and swallow it up at once, at one draught, as a thirsty man does a large quantity of liquor, see Proverbs 1:12; this may have some respect to the Sabeans and Chaldeans, that swallowed up Job's substance, and took away his cattle from him at once, and were no other than bands of robbers; and the use of the word for a thief or a robber, as we take it, is confirmed by a learned manF24Hinckelman. Praefat. ad Alcoran. p. 28, 29. , who derives it from the Arabic word which signifies to smite with a club or stone.

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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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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 5:5". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-5.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the g thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.

(g) Though there are only two or three ears left in the hedges, yet these will be taken from him.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 5:5". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-5.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

even out of the thorns — Even when part of the grain remains hanging on the thorn bushes (or, “is growing among thorns,” Matthew 13:7), the hungry gleaner does not grudge the trouble of even taking it away, so clean swept away is the harvest of the wicked.

the robber — as the Sabeans, who robbed Job. Rather, translate “the thirsty,” as the antithesis in the parallelism, “the hungry,” proves.

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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 5:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-5.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.

Harvest — Which they confidently expect to reap after all their cost and labour, but are sadly and suddenly disappointed.

The hungry — The hungry Sabeans eat it up.

Thorns — Out of the fields: in spite of all dangers or difficulties in their way.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Job 5:5". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-5.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 5:5 Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.

Ver. 5. Whose harvest the hungry eateth up] This is another root of the wicked one, his estate, against which God raiseth up a rout of needy wretches to pillage him. These are as a sweeping rain, that leaveth no food, Proverbs 28:1. These, as lean lice, bite hardest, and, as sparrow hawks, are extremly greedy: Malesuada fames putteth them upon it. These harpies seize upon his very harvest ad maiorem cruciatum et miseriam, to the more crude and wretched, pulling the meat out of his mouth, as it were, and not suffering him to roast that which he took in hunting, Proverbs 12:27. He shall meet with greatest disappointment, and come to that poverty which he so studiously shunned, singing that doleful ditty,

- En queis consevimus agros?

Aλλοι μεν σπειρουσ , αλλοι δ αυ αμησονται.

See this threatened Leviticus 26:19, Deuteronomy 28:33, Isaiah 1:6, Micah 6:15.

And taketh it even out of the thorns] Creeping through the midst of the thorns and bushes wherewith it is fenced and hedged in, to steal it away. Hunger, we say, breaks through stone walls: the Rabbis sense it thus, He that comes out of the thorns, that is, every base fellow, carrieth away the store of this rich oppressor (Scultatus). The armed man carrieth it away, so the Vulgate after the Septuagint. Mr Broughton reads it thus, The hungry shall eat up his harvest which he had gotten through the thorns, that is, not without a great deal of care, and much pains in stubbing up the thorns, that he might not sow amongst them.

And the robber swalloweth up their substance] Or, the thirsty shall drink up their substance, as gold thirsty Babel did Hezekiah’s treasure for his coming so near the garb and guise of the wicked in his ostentation. The thirsty shall swill up their wealth, so Broughton rendereth it: so that neither their esculenta food, nor poculenta drink shall escape the spoiler, but there shall be a clean riddance of all; the enemy shall play at sweepstake, he shall sup up all ( שׁאף) as the Hebrew hath it, and as Eliphaz would have Job consider that the Chaldeans and Sabeans had done his substance.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 5:5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-5.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Job 5:5. Whose harvest, &c.— Heath renders this verse thus: Whose harvest the hunger-starved shall devour, and shall take it even from among the thorn-fences; and the thirsty shall swallow down their substance. In which last clause, the author means to express the suddenness of their destruction; as quick as a thirsty man swallows liquor at a gulp: and with this the Vulgate and Syriac versions agree. Houbigant renders the verse, Moreover, the hungry hath devoured their harvest; armed men have taken away their corn; robbers have consumed their substance. See his note.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 5:5". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/job-5.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Whose harvest, which they now justly and confidently expect to reap, after all their cost and labour for that end, but are sadly and suddenly disappointed; which is a great aggravation of their misery.

The hungry, i.e. the poor, whose necessities make them greedy and ravenous to eat it all up; and from whom he can never recover it, nor any thing in recompence of it.

Out of the thorns, i.e. out of the fields, notwithstanding the strong thorn hedges wherewith it is enclosed and fortified, and all other dangers or difficulties which may be in their way. They will take it, though they be scratched and wounded by the thorns about it. The robbers; so called from their long hair, which such persons nourished, either because of their wild and savage kind of life, which made them neglect the trimming of their hair and body; or that they might look more terribly, and so affright all those who should endeavour to oppose them. Or, the thirsty, as the word may signify from another root. And so it answers well to the hungry, in the former branch. Swalloweth up greedily, and so as there is no hope of recovering it.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 5:5". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-5.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

5.Even out of the thorns — The best interpretation is that of Dr. Thomson, who speaks of Gennesareth as “pre-eminently fruitful in thorns. They grow up among the grain, or the grain among them, and the reaper must pick the harvest out of the thorns.” The idea of Eliphaz is, that “the robbers would make thorough work of it, and leave nothing behind them, not even that which grew among the thorns.” (See further, “The Land and the Book,” 1:537.)

The robber The thirsty; that is, greedy spoilers. is rendered “snare,” or “noose,” by Gesenius, Furst, Hirtzel, Conant, etc., thus, “The snare gapeth for their substance:” but most ancient versions, together with Ewald, Wordsworth, Zockler, etc., adopt the reading, “The thirsty (pant for) swallow up their substance,” on the assumption that a weak letter has been lost from the original word. The exact meaning of the verb, which expresses violent emotion, such as “to pant for,” “to greedily drain,” etc., accords better with the rendering, “the thirsty.”

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 5:5". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-5.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 5:5. Whose harvest — Which they confidently expected to reap after all their cost and labour; The hungry eateth up — The hungry Sabeans, or the poor, whose necessities make them greedy and ravenous to eat it all up; so that he can never recover it, or any thing in recompense of it. As if he had said, They may cultivate their ground with the utmost care, and sow it with the choicest seed, in expectation of reaping, at the usual time, the fruits of their labour; but when once the sentence of the judge is declared against them, behold, instead of carrying in, and filling their barns and store-houses with the great and plentiful increase, their field is laid open to the hungry poor, who soon devour their whole harvest. And take it even out of the thorns — That is, out of the fields, notwithstanding the strong thorn-hedges wherewith it is enclosed and fortified; and in spite of all the dangers or difficulties which may be in their way. They will take it, though they be scratched and wounded by the thorns about it. And the robber swalloweth up their substance — The word צמים, tzammim, here rendered robber, occurs but once more, namely, Job 18:9, where Bildad, taking it for granted that Job must be a wicked man, says the robber, tzammim, shall prevail against him. R. Levi derives it from tzammah, hair, and says it represents a man who suffers his hair to grow long and squalid, and appears with a terrible countenance. It may however signify thirsty, as derived from another root. Either way it points out a set of savage and barbarous plunderers. The word שׂאŠshaaph, rendered swalloweth up, literally means to draw in the air, to pant after, to swallow greedily; and is applied to wild beasts, snuffing up the wind in pursuit of their prey. The sense of the clause is, that these robbers shall hasten with great eagerness, shall greedily pant after and swallow up their entire substance, so as to leave them in the most deplorable condition.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 5:5". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-5.html. 1857.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 5:5". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-5.html. 1999-2014.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.

Even out of the thorns - even when part of the grain remains hanging on the thorn bushes (or, is growing among thorns, Matthew 13:7), the hungry gleaner does not grudge the trouble of taking even it away, so clean swept away is the harvest of the wicked. Maurer explains, not even the hedge of thorns prevents the hungry gleaner carrying the sinner's harvest away from his fields. It gives, additional point to understand by "the hungry" those whom the sinner had oppressed, "taking away the sheaf from the hungry" (Job 24:10).

The robber, [ tsamiym (Hebrew #6782)] - as the Sabeans who robbed Job. Rather translate, the thirsty, as the antithesis in the parallelism, the hungry, proves. Maurer translates 'The snare (i:e., sudden ruin) gapes for their substance.' This is favoured by Job 18:9-10; but the English version translates the Hebrew there also "robber."

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 5:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-5.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(5) Whose harvest the hungry eateth up.—The meaning becomes more pointed if we understand the wicked man himself as the subject whose harvest he shall eat famishing and have to take from among the thorns—there shall be so little, and that little choked with thorns. The word “robber” is perhaps a trap, or snare. Some of the old versions use other vowels, and read, “the thirsty swallow up,” making the parallelism complete.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 5:5". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-5.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.
harvest
Deuteronomy 28:33,51; Judges 6:3-6; Isaiah 62:8
the thorns
Judges 6:11; 2 Chronicles 33:11
the robber
1:15,17; 12:6; 18:9; Hosea 8:7
swalloweth
2:3; 20:15; Jeremiah 51:34,44; Lamentations 2:5,16
Reciprocal: Genesis 3:18 - Thorns;  Job 20:28 - increase;  Job 24:2 - violently;  Job 24:5 - the wilderness;  Job 31:8 - let me;  Psalm 109:11 - extortioner;  Ecclesiastes 5:14 - those

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 5:5". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-5.html.