And there came a messenger to Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Job 1:14-15. And the asses feeding beside them — That is, beside the oxen. And the Sabeans fell upon them — A people of Arabia, who led a wandering life, and lived by robbery and plunder, as Strabo and other heathen writers observe. They were the descendants of Abraham by Keturah, whose son Jokshan begat Sheba, their progenitor. Indeed, the Hebrew here is, Sheba fell upon them; and took them away — The whole five hundred yoke of oxen, and the five hundred asses which he had. Yea, they have slain the servants, &c. — Who faithfully and bravely did their best to defend them. And I only am escaped to tell thee — Him Satan spared no less maliciously than he destroyed the rest, that Job might have speedy and certain intelligence of his calamity.
The oxen were plowing - Hebrew "the cattle" (בקר bâqâr) including not merely "oxen," but probably also "cows;" see the notes at Job 1:3.
And the asses - Hebrew אתון 'âthôn "she-asses." The "sex" is here expressly mentioned and Dr. Good maintains that it should be in the translation. So it is in the Septuagint αἱ θήλειαι ὄνοι hai thēleiai onoi. So Jerome, "asinoe." The reason why the sex is specified is, that female asses, on account of their milk, were much more valuable than males. On this account they were preferred also for traveling; see the notes at Job 1:3.
Beside them - Hebrew "By their hands," that is, by their sides, for the Hebrew יד yâd is often used in this sense; compare the notes at Isaiah 33:21.
and said, the oxen were ploughing: the five hundred yoke of oxen Job had, Job 1:3, which were all out in the fields, and employed in ploughing them; and to plough with such was usual in those times and countries, as it now is in some places; see 1 Kings 19:19
and the asses feeding beside them; beside the oxen, where they were ploughing, in pasture ground, adjoining to the arable land; and beside the servants that were ploughing with the oxen: "at their hands" (b); as it may be literally rendered, just by them, under their eye and care; or "in their places" (c); where they should be, and where they used to feed (d); these were the five hundred asses, male and female, reckoned among Job's substance, Job 1:3, which were brought hither to feed, and some for the servants to ride on; this ploughed land being at some distance from Job's house; and others to carry the seed that was was to be sown here: now the situation and employment of these creatures are particularly mentioned, to show that they were in their proper places, and at their proper work; and that what befell them was not owing to the want of care of them, or to the indolence and negligence of the servants.And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14, 15. The first stroke, the loss of the oxen and she-asses, with the slaughter of the servants. Job’s servants were probably armed, as is usual in the East, and offered resistance, for the Bedawin do not usually shed blood unless opposed. The Sabeans were an Arab tribe, or possibly different tribes bore the name (Genesis 10:7; Genesis 10:28; Genesis 25:3). In Job 6:19 they are represented as trading with caravans. They are mentioned in connexion with Dedan, and probably detachments of them encamped on the borders of Edom, and these would be the assailants of Job’s servants. The raid came from the direction of the South, and the fact that the oxen were plowing indicates that the disaster befell in winter.Verse 14. - And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were ploughing, and the asses (literally, the she-asses) feeding beside them (literally, at their hand). Note that, notwithstanding the festival, labour was still going on; there was no general holiday; the oxen were at work in the field, not perhaps all of them, but the greater number, for the ploughing-time is short in the Oriental countries, and the "earing" is all done at the same time. The bulk of Job's labourers were probably engaged in the business, and they had brought the asses with them, probably to keep them under their eye, lest thieves should carry them off, when the catastrophe related in the next verse occurred.
By כּי Jehovah gives the reason of His inquiry. Had Satan been observant of Job, even he must have confessed that there was on the earth real genuine piety. לב שׂים, animum advertere (for לב is animus, נפשׁ anima), is construed with על, of the object on which the attention falls, and on which it fixes itself, or אל, of the object towards which it is directed (Job 2:3). The repetition of the four predicates used of Job (Job 1:1) in the mouth of Jehovah (though without the waw combining both pairs there) is a skilful touch of the poet. Further on, the narrative is also interwoven with poetic repetitions (as e.g., Job 34 and Genesis 1), to give it architectural symmetry, and to strengthen the meaning and impression of what is said. Jehovah triumphantly displays His servant, the incomparable one, in opposition to Satan; but this does not disconcert him: he knows how, as on all occasions, so here also, to deny what Jehovah affirms.
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