He takes away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causes them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.
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. Ps 107:4, 40 quotes this passage.The heart; which signifies either,
1. Their courage, as Psalm 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. 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 54ed: 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.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)24. he taketh away the heart] i. e. the understanding; cf. on ch. Job 11:12.
in a wilderness] Same word as in ch. Job 6:18. The word is that rendered “without form,” Genesis 1:2; Jeremiah 4:23, i. e. chaos. The reference is to the confusion and perplexity into which the chiefs are thrown. The word is finely used Isaiah 45:19, I said not to the seed of Jacob seek ye me in the waste, i. e. in uncertain conditions (A. V., in vain).Verse 24. - He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth; rather. the chiefs of the people or "the popular chief talus" (Lee). He deprives these "chiefs" of their wisdom or courage, or both, and thus brings down the nations under their governance. And causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way; rather, in a chaos - one of the words used in Genesis 1:2 to describe the condition of the material universe before God had ordered and arranged it. The chieftains, deprived of their "heart," are so confused and perplexed that they do not know what to do, or which way to turn.
And maketh judges fools.
18 The authority of kings He looseth,
And bindeth their loins with bands.
19 He leadeth away priests stripped of their robes,
And overthroweth those who are firmly established.
20 He removeth the speech of the eloquent,
And taketh away the judgment of the aged.
21 He poureth contempt upon princes,
And maketh loose the girdle of the mighty.
In Job 12:17, Job 12:19, שׁולל is added to מוליך as a conditional accusative; the old expositors vary in the rendering of this word; at any rate it does not mean: chained (Targ. on Job 12:17), from שׁלל (שׁרר), which is reduplicated in the word שׁלשׁלת, a chain, a word used in later Hebrew than the language of the Old Testament (שׁרשׁרה is the Old Testament word); nor is it: taken as booty, made captive (lxx αἰχμαλώτους; Targ. on Job 12:19, בּבזתא, in the quality of spoil) equals משׁולל; but it is a neuter adjective closely allied to the idea of the verb, exutus, not however mente (deprived of sense), but vestibus; not merely barefooted (Hirz., Oehler, with lxx, Micah 1:8, ἀνυπόδετος), which is the meaning of יחף, but: stripped of their clothes with violence (vid., Isaiah 20:4), stripped in particular of the insignia of their power. He leads them half-naked into captivity, and takes away the judges as fools (יהולל, vid., Psychol. S. 292), by destroying not only their power, but the prestige of their position also. We find echoes of this utterance respecting God's paradoxical rule in the world in Isaiah 40:23; Isaiah 44:25; and Isaiah's oracle on Egypt, Job 19:11-15, furnishes an illustration in the reality.
It is but too natural to translate Job 12:18 : the bands of kings He looses (after Psalm 116:16, למוסרי פתחת, Thou hast loosed my bands); but the relation of the two parts of the verse can then not be this: He unchains and chains kings (Hirz., Ew., Heiligst. Schlottm.), for the fut. consec. ויּאסר requires a contrast that is intimately connected with the context, and not of mere outward form: fetters in which kings have bound others (מלכים, gen. subjectivus) He looses, and binds them in fetters (Raschi), - an explanation which much commends itself, if מוּסר could only be justified as the construct of מוּסר by the remark that "the o sinks into u" (Ewald, 213, c). מוּסר does not once occur in the signification vinculum; but only the plur. מוסרים and מוסרות, vincula, accord with the usage of the language, so that even the pointing מוסר proposed by Hirzel is a venture. מוּסר, however, as constr. of מוּסר, correction, discipline, rule (i.e., as the domination of punishment, from יסר, castigare), is an equally suitable sense, and is probably connected by the poet with פּתּח (a word very familiar to him, Job 30:11; Job 39:5; Job 41:6) on account of its relation both in sound and sense to מוסרים (comp. Psalm 105:22). The English translation is correct: He looseth the authority of kings. The antithesis is certainly lost, but the thoughts here moreover flow on in synonymous parallelism.
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