Job 15:33
He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine, and shall cast off his flower as the olive.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
15:17-35 Eliphaz maintains that the wicked are certainly miserable: whence he would infer, that the miserable are certainly wicked, and therefore Job was so. But because many of God's people have prospered in this world, it does not therefore follow that those who are crossed and made poor, as Job, are not God's people. Eliphaz shows also that wicked people, particularly oppressors, are subject to continual terror, live very uncomfortably, and perish very miserably. Will the prosperity of presumptuous sinners end miserably as here described? Then let the mischiefs which befal others, be our warnings. Though no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby. No calamity, no trouble, however heavy, however severe, can rob a follower of the Lord of his favour. What shall separate him from the love of Christ?He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine - The idea here is, that the wicked man shall be like a vine that casts off its grapes while they are yet sour and green, and brings none to perfection; compare the notes at Isaiah 18:5. Scott renders this,

"As when the vine her half-grown berries showers,

Or poisoned olive her unfolding flowers."

It would seem from this passage that the vine might be so blasted by a hot wind or other cause, as to cast its unripe grapes to the earth. The employment of a figure of this kind to illustrate an idea supposes that such a case was familiar to those who were addressed. It is well known that in the East the grape and the olive might be blasted while in blossom, or when the fruit was setting, as all fruit may be. The injury is usually done in the flower, or when the fruit is just forming. Yet our observations of the effects of the burning winds that pass over the deserts on fruit that is half formed, in blasting it and causing it to fall, are too limited to allow us to come to any definite conclusion in regard to such effects in general. Anyone, however, can see the beauty of this image. The plans and purposes of wicked people are immature. Nothing is carried to perfection. They are cut off, their plans are blasted, and all the results of their living are like the sour, hard, crabbed, and useless fruit that falls from the tree before it is ripe. The results of the life of the righteous, on the other hand, are like a tree loaded with ripe and mellow fruit - their plans are brought to maturity, and resemble the rich and heavy clusters of grapes, or the abundant fruits of the olive when ripe.

And shall cast off his flower as the olive - The olive is a well-known tree that abounds in the East. The fruit is chiefly valuable for the oil which it produces; compare the notes at Romans 11:17. The olive is liable to be blasted while the fruit is setting, or while the tree is in blossom. In Greece, a northeast wind often proves destructive to the olive, and the same may be true of other places. Dr. Chandler speaking of Greece, says, "The olive groves are now, as anciently, a principal source of the riches of Athens. The crops had failed five years successively when we arrived; the cause assigned was a northerly wind, called Greco-tramontane, which destroyed the flower. The fruit is set in about a fortnight, when the apprehension from this unpropitious quarter ceases. The bloom in the following year was unhurt, and we had the pleasure of leaving the Athenians happy in the prospect of a plentiful harvest." A wicked man is here elegantly compared with such a tree that casts its flowers and produces no fruit.

33. Images of incompleteness. The loss of the unripe grapes is poetically made the vine tree's own act, in order to express more pointedly that the sinner's ruin is the fruit of his own conduct (Isa 3:11; Jer 6:19). He; either,

1. The wicked man, who by his sins is the author of his own ruin. Or,

2. God, who is easily understood, both from the matter and context.

Shall shake off, Heb. shall take away by violence.

His unripe grape, i. e. his fruit, his children, or other comforts, before their time.

As the vine, i.e. as the vine either itself droppeth, or rather loseth, its tender grapes, which are plucked off by a violent hand.

As the olive; which flourisheth much about the same time with the vine, and is commonly handled in the same manner.

He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine,.... Either the wicked man himself shall shake off or lose his substance; or God shall shake off from him all that was dear and valuable to him; or he shall be shaken by one providence or another, just as a vine is shaken by a violent wind and tempest, and its unripe grapes are battered off by an hailstorm, or plucked off by the hand, or drop off through rottenness; so it is signified by this metaphor, that a wicked man should be stripped of his wealth and riches in a sudden manner; or his children should be snatched from him in their youth, before they were well grown up to maturity, and so like the unripe grape; perhaps respect is had to Job's case, both with regard to his substance and his family:

and shall cast off his flower, as the olive: which tree, when shaken in a violent manner, drops its flower, and so brings forth no fruit; it is observed by naturalists (h), that these two trees, the vine and the olive, flourish much about the same time, and suffer much by storms and tempests, which destroy their fruits, and especially when rain falls in the time of their flowering; the some thing is intended in this clause as in the former.

(h) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 16. c. 25. l. 17. c. 2. 24.

He shall shake off his unripe {u} grape as the vine, and shall cast off his flower as the olive.

(u) As one who gathers grapes before they are ripe.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
33. It is doubtful if the A. V. expresses a meaning which is true to nature; the vine does not shake off its unripe grapes. The words must rather express the meaning that the grapes are not brought to maturity. The word “shake off” means to “wrong” Proverbs 8:36, and probably the idea is that the vine fails to nourish its grapes and leaves them to dry and wither. This carries out the conception of Job 15:32. The general idea of these verses is that the wicked man is “subject to vanity,” his branch prematurely withers (Job 15:32), he puts forth grapes but cannot ripen them, he flowers but he fails of fruit. His endeavours in all directions come short.

Verse 33. - He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine. Blight and untimely cold cause the vine to drop its grapes before they are mature. So the wicked man will be deprived, one by one, of his possessions. And shall cast off his flower as the olive. The olive often sheds its blossoms in vast numbers. "In spring," says Canon Tristram, "one may see the bloom, on the slightest breath of wind, shed like snowflakes, and perishing by millions" ('Natural History of the Bible,' p. 375). According to some commentators, this happens regularly in alternate years. Job 15:3331 Let him not trust in evil-he is deceived,

For evil shall be his possession.

32 His day is not yet, then it is accomplished,

And his palm-branch loseth its freshness.

33 He teareth off as a vine his young grapes,

And He casteth down as an olive-tree his flower.

34 The company of the hypocrite is rigid,

And fire consumeth the tents of bribery.

35 They conceive sorrow and bring forth iniquity,

And their inward part worketh self-deceit.

אל does not merely introduce a declaration respecting the future (Luther: he will not continue, which moreover must have been expressed by the Niph.), but is admonitory: may he only not trust in vanity (Munach here instead of Dech, according to the rule of transformation, Psalter, ii. 504, 4) - he falls, so far as he does it, into error, or brings himself into error (נתעה, 3 praet., not part., and Niph. like Isaiah 19:14, where it signifies to be thrust backwards and forwards, or to reel about helplessly), - a thought one might expect after the admonition (Olsh. conjectures נתעב, one who is detestable): this trusting in evil is self-delusion, for evil becomes his exchange (תּמוּרה not compensatio, but permutatio, acquisitio). We have translated שׁוא by "evil" (Unheil), by which we have sought elsewhere to render און, in order that we might preserve the same word in both members of the verse. In Job 15:31, שׁוא (in form equals שׁוא from שׁוא, in the Chethib שוּ, the Aleph being cast away, like the Arabic sû', wickedness, form the v. cavum hamzatum s-'a equals sawu'a) is waste and empty in mind, in Job 15:31 (comp. Hosea 12:12) waste and empty in fortune; or, to go further from the primary root, in the former case apparent goodness, in the latter apparent prosperity - delusion, and being undeceived "evil" in the sense of wickedness, and of calamity. תּמּלא, which follows, refers to the exchange, or neutrally to the evil that is exchanged: the one or the other fulfils itself, i.e., either: is realized (passive of מלּא, 1 Kings 8:15), or: becomes complete, which means the measure of the punishment of his immorality becomes full, before his natural day, i.e., the day of death, is come (comp. for expression, Job 22:16; Ecclesiastes 7:17). The translation: then it is over with him (Ges., Schlottm., and others), is contrary to the usage of the language; and that given by the Jewish expositors, תּמּלא equals תּמּלל (abscinditur or conteritur), is a needlessly bold suggestion. - Job 15:32. It is to be observed that רעננה is Milel, and consequently 3 praet., not as in Sol 1:16 Milra, and consequently adj. כּפּה is not the branches generally (Luzzatto, with Raschi: branchage), but, as the proverbial expression for the high and low, Isaiah 9:13; Isaiah 19:15 (vid., Dietrich, Abhandlung zur hebr. Gramm. S. 209), shows, the palm-branch bent downwards (comp. Targ. Esther 1:5, where כּפּין signifies seats and walks covered with foliage). "His palm-branch does not become green, or does not remain green" (which Symm. well renders: οὐκ εὐθαλήσει), means that as he himself, the palm-trunk, so also his family, withers away. In Job 15:33 it is represented as בּסר ( equals בּסר), wild grapes, or even unripe grapes of a vine, and as נצּה, flowers of an olive.

(Note: In order to appreciate the point of the comparison, it is needful to know that the Syrian olive-tree bears fruit plentifully the first, third, and fifth years, but rests during the second, fourth, and sixth. It blossoms in these years also, but the blossoms fall off almost entirely without any berries being formed. The harvest of the olive is therefore in such years very scanty. With respect to the vine, every year an enormous quantity of grapes are used up before they are ripe. When the berries are only about the size of a pea, the acid from them is used in housekeeping, to prepare almost every kind of food. The people are exceedingly fond of things sour, a taste which is caused by the heat of the climate. During the months of June, July, and August, above six hundred horses and asses laden with unripe grapes come daily to the market in Damascus alone, and during this season no one uses vinegar; hence the word בסרא signifies in Syriac the acid (vinegar) κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν. In Arabic the unripe grapes are exclusively called hhossrum (Arab. htsrm), or, with a dialectic distinction, hissrim. - Wetzst.)

In Job 15:32 the godless man himself might be the subject: he casts down, like an olive-tree, his flowers, but in Job 15:32 this is inadmissible; if we interpret: "he shakes off (Targ. יתּר, excutiet), like a vine-stock, his young grapes," this (apart from the far-fetched meaning in יחמס) is a figure that is untrue to nature, since the grapes sit firmer the more unripe they are; and if one takes the first meaning of חמס, "he acts unjustly, as a vine, to his omphax" (e.g., Hupf.), whether it means that he does not let it ripen, or that he does not share with it any of the sweet sap, one has not only an indistinct figure, but also (since what God ordains for the godless is described as in operation) an awkward comparison. The subject of both verbs is therefore other than the vine and olive themselves. But why only an impersonal "one"? In Job 15:30 רוח פיו was referred to God, who is not expressly mentioned. God is also the subject here, and יחמס, which signifies to act with violence to one's self, is modified here to the sense of tearing away, as Lamentations 2:6 (which Aben-Ezra has compared), of tearing out; כגפן, כזית, prop. as a vine-stock, as an olive-tree, is equivalent to even as such an one.

Job 15:34 declares the lot of the family of the ungodly, which has been thus figuratively described, without figure: the congregation (i.e., here: family-circle) of the ungodly (חנף according to its etymon inclinans, propensus ad malum, vid., on Job 13:16) is (as it is expressed from the standpoint of the judgment that is executed) גּלמוּד, a hard, lifeless, stony mass (in the substantival sense of the Arabic galmûd instead of the adject. גלמודה, Isaiah 49:21), i.e., stark dead (lxx θάνατος; Aq., Symm., Theod., ἄκαρπος), and fire has devoured the tents of bribery (after Ralbag: those built by bribery; or even after the lxx: οἴκους δωροδεκτῶν). The ejaculatory conclusion, Job 15:35, gives the briefest expression to that which has been already described. The figurative language, Job 15:35, is like Psalm 7:15; Isaiah 59:4 (comp. supra, p. 257); in the latter passage similar vividly descriptive infinitives are found (Ges. 131, 4, b). They hatch the burdens or sorrow of others, and what comes from it is evil for themselves. What therefore their בּטן, i.e., their inward part, with the intermingled feelings, thoughts, and strugglings (Olympiodorus: κοιλίαν ὅλον τὸ ἐντὸς χωρίον φησὶ καὶ αὐτὴν τῆν ψυχήν), prepares or accomplishes (יכין similar to Job 27:17; Job 38:41), that on which it works, is מרמה, deceit, with which they deceive others, and before all, themselves (New Test. ἀπάτη).

continued...

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