Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days?XXIV.
(1) Why, seeing times are not hidden.—Job, in this chapter, gives utterance to this perplexity, as it arises, not from his own case only, but from a survey of God’s dealings with the world generally. “Why is it,” he asks, “since times and events are not hidden from the Almighty, that they who know Him—that is, believe in and love Him—do not see His days?”—that is, His days of retribution and judgment. Even those who love and serve God are as perplexed about His principles of government as those who know Him not. It is to be observed that the position of the second negative in the Authorised Version of this verse renders it highly ambiguous to the majority of readers. This ambiguity would entirely disappear if we read see not instead of “not see.”
Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof.(2) Some remove the landmarks.—Now follows a description of the wrong-doings of various classes of men. The removal of landmarks was expressly provided against by the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 19:14; Deuteronomy 27:17).
And feed thereof.—Rather, probably, feed them: i.e., pasture them, the more easy to do when the landmarks are so removed.
They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow's ox for a pledge.(3) They drive away the ass.—The ass and the ox, the fatherless and the widow presumably having no more than one. He first describes the oppression of the country, and then that of the city (Job 24:12). We seem here to catch a glimpse of the sufferings of some oppressed and subject aboriginal race, such as the Canaanites may have been to the Jews, though there is probably no allusion to them. But, at all events, the writer and the speaker seem to have been familiar with some such abject and servile race, who haunted the desert and suffered at the hands of the more powerful tribes. Man’s inhumanity to man is, unhappily, a crime of very long standing.
They reap every one his corn in the field: and they gather the vintage of the wicked.(6) They reap every one his corn.—Or, probably, the corn, that is, of the wicked tyrant. While they reap his corn and cut his provender, they have to go without themselves.
They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf from the hungry;(10) They cause him to go naked without clothing.—Rather, they go about, or, so that they go about, naked without clothing (the tautology is expressive in Hebrew, though meaningless in English), and an hungered they carry the sheaves.
Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them.(12) Men groan from out of the city.—Here a survey of the oppressions wrought within the city walls is taken.
Yet God layeth not folly to them.—That is, to those who are the cause of their wrongs, their oppressors.
They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof.(13) They are of those that rebel against the light.—A very remarkable expression, which seems to anticipate the teaching of St. John (Job 1:9, &c.).
The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief.(14) With the light.—The mention of light as a moral essence suggests its physical analogue, so that by the contrast of the one with the violence done to the other, the moral turpitude of the wrong-doing is heightened. It seems impossible to interpret the light in the former case (Job 24:13) otherwise than morally, and if so, the mention of the “ways thereof” and the “paths thereof” is very remarkable. The order in which these crimes of murder, adultery, and theft are mentioned according, as it does, with that in the Decalogue, is, at all events, suggestive of acquaintance with it.
In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light.(16) Which they had marked for themselves in the daytime.—Or, as some understand, they seal (i.e., shut) themselves up in the daytime. It is said that it is still the custom in Eastern cities for such persons to endeavour to obtain access to the harem in female attire.
They know not the light.—Compared with Job 24:13, shows strongly the different usage of the expression in the two cases.
He is swift as the waters; their portion is cursed in the earth: he beholdeth not the way of the vineyards.(18) He is swift.—That is—each of these rebels against the light is swift to make his escape over the face of the waters. So we ought to read it, and not, with Authorised Version, as a comparison.
Their portion is cursed in the earth.—That is, men so regard it; it has an evil name, and is of bad repute.
He beholdeth not.—Rather, he—that is, each of them—turneth not the way of the vineyards, which is frequented and cultivated, but chooseth rather lone, desolate, solitary, and rugged paths.
Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth the grave those which have sinned.(19) So doth the grave those which have sinned.—Job had already spoken of the sudden death of the wicked as a blessing (Job 9:23; Job 21:13), as compared with the lingering torture he himself was called upon to undergo.
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.(20) The womb shall forget him.—Some understand this verse as expressing what ought rather to be the doom of the wicked. “His own mother should forget him; the worm should feed sweetly on him; he should be no more remembered; and then unrighteousness would be broken as a tree.”
He draweth also the mighty with his power: he riseth up, and no man is sure of life.(22) He draweth also the mighty.—He now appears to revert to his former line, and describes another case—that, namely, of a great tyrant who draws others by his influence and example to the same courses.
He riseth up, and no man is sure of his life.—Being so completely under his sway.
Though it be given him to be in safety, whereon he resteth; yet his eyes are upon their ways.(23) Though it be given.—“Yea, he, that is each of them, giveth him tribute, &c., that he may be secure and stable.”
Yet his eyes—that is, the great tyrant’s eyes—are upon their ways.—They are exalted for a little while, but are soon gone, and are taken out of the way like all others. Some understand the subject of the first verb, “he giveth him to be in security,” to be God, and that also makes very good sense, for while God so allows him to be secure, His eyes are on their ways, the ways of all of them. In this case, however, Job 24:24 does not correspond so well with what Job has already said of the impunity with which the wicked are wicked, unless indeed the suddenness of their fate is the main point of his remarks, as in Job 24:19.
And if it be not so now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth?(25) And if it be not so now.—Job also has his facts, as ready and as incontrovertible as those of his friends, and yet irreconcilable with theirs.