Job 24:12
Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them.
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(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.

24:1-12 Job discourses further about the prosperity of the wicked. That many live at ease who are ungodly and profane, he had showed, ch. xxi. Here he shows that many who live in open defiance of all the laws of justice, succeed in wicked practices; and we do not see them reckoned with in this world. He notices those that do wrong under pretence of law and authority; and robbers, those that do wrong by force. He says, God layeth not folly to them; that is, he does not at once send his judgments, nor make them examples, and so manifest their folly to all the world. But he that gets riches, and not by right, at his end shall be a fool, Jer 17:11.Men groan from out of the city - The evident meaning of this is, that the sorrows caused by oppression were not confined to the deserts and to solitary places; were not seen only where the wandering freebooter seized upon the traveler, or in the comparatively unfrequented places in the country where the poor were compelled to labor in the wine presses and the olive presses of others, but that they extended to cities also. In what way this oppression in cities was practiced, Job does not specify. It might be by the sudden descent upon an unsuspecting city, of hordes of freebooters, who robbed and murdered the inhabitants, and then fled, or it might be by internal oppression, as of the rich ever the poor, or of masters over their slaves. The idea which Job seems to wish to convey is, that oppression abounded. The earth was full of violence. It was in every place, in the city and the country, and yet God did not in fact come forth to meet and punish the oppressor as he deserved. There would be instances of oppression and cruelty enough occurring in all cities to justify all that Job here says, especially in ancient times, when cities were under the control of tyrants. The word which is translated "men" here is מתים mathı̂ym, which is not the usual term to denote men. This word is derived from מוּת mûth, "to die"; and hence, there may be here the notion of "mortals," or of the "dying," who utter these groans.

And the soul of the wounded crieth out - This expression appears as if Job referred to some acts of violence done by robbers, and perhaps the whole description is intended to apply to the sufferings caused by the sudden descent of a band of marauders upon the unsuspection and slumbering inhabitants of a city.

Yet God layeth not folly to them - The word rendered "folly" תפלה tı̂phlâh means "folly"; and thence also wickedness. If this reading is to be retained, the passage means that God does not lay to heart, that is, does not regard their folly or wickedness. He suffers it to pass without punishing it; compare Acts 17:30. But the same word, by a change of the points, תפלה tephı̂llâh, means "prayer;" and many have supposed that it means, that God does not regard the prayer or cry of those who are thus oppressed. This, in itself, would make good sense, but the former rendering agrees better with the connection. The object of Job is not to show that God does not regard the cry of the afflicted, but that he does not interpose to punish those who are tyrants and oppressors.

12. Men—rather, "mortals" (not the common Hebrew for "men"); so the Masoretic vowel points read as English Version. But the vowel points are modern. The true reading is, "The dying," answering to "the wounded" in the next clause, so Syriac. Not merely in the country (Job 24:11), but also in the city there are oppressed sufferers, who cry for help in vain. "From out of the city"; that is, they long to get forth and be free outside of it (Ex 1:11; 2:23).

wounded—by the oppressor (Eze 30:24).

layeth not folly—takes no account of (by punishing) their sin ("folly" in Scripture; Job 1:22). This is the gist of the whole previous list of sins (Ac 17:30). Umbreit with Syriac reads by changing a vowel point, "Regards not their supplication."

Men groan under the burden of injuries and grievous oppressions.

From out of the city; not only in deserts or less inhabited places, where these tyrants have the greater opportunity and advantage to practise their villanies; but even in cities, where there is a face of order and government, and courts of justice, and a multitude of people to observe and restrain such actions; whereby they plainly declare that they neither fear God nor reverence man.

The soul of the wounded; either,

1. Properly, their soul sympathizing with the body, and being grieved for its insupportable miseries, crieth to God and men for help. Or rather,

2. The life or blood (which oft cometh under that name) of those who are there

wounded unto death, as this word properly signifies, Ezekiel 30:24, crieth aloud unto God for vengeance, Genesis 4:10 Revelation 6:9,10, whereby God might seem in some sort obliged to punish them; and yet he did not, as the next words declare.

Yet God layeth not folly to them: so the sense is, yet God doth not impute or lay to their charge this folly or wickedness, which in Scripture is commonly called folly; i.e. he takes no notice of these horrid oppressions, nor hears the cries of the oppressed, nor punishes the oppressors. Or, yet God (who seeth and permitteth all this) disposeth, or ordereth, or doth, (for all these things this Hebrew verb signifies,) nothing which is absurd, or foolish, or unsavoury, i.e. doth nothing in this permission and connivance unworthy of himself, or which a wise and considerate man cannot relish or approve, or which is not in itself righteous and reasonable, though we do not always discern the reasonableness of it.

Men groan from out of the city,.... Because of the oppressions and injuries done to them, so that not only the poor in the country that were employed in the fields, and oliveyards, and vineyards, were used exceeding ill; but even in cities, where not only are an abundance of people, and so the outrages committed upon them, which made them groan, were done openly and publicly, with great insolence and impudence, but where also courts of judicature were held, and yet in defiance of law and justice were those evils done, see Ecclesiastes 3:16;

and the soul of the wounded crieth out; that is, the persons wounded with the sword, or any other instrument of vengeance, stabbed as they went along the public streets of the city, where they fell, these cried out vehemently as such persons do; so audacious, as well as barbarous, were these wicked men, that insulted and abused them:

yet God layeth not folly to them; it is for the sake of this observation that the whole above account is given of wicked men, as well as what follows; that though they are guilty of such atrocious crimes, such inhumanity, cruelty, and oppression in town and country, unheard of, unparalleled, iniquities, sins to be punished by a judge, yet are suffered of God to pass with impunity. By "folly" is meant sin, not lesser sins only, little, foolish, trifling things, but greater and grosser ones, such as before expressed; all sin is folly, being the breach of a law which is holy, just, and good, and exposes to its penalty and curse; and against God the lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy; and as it is harmful and prejudicial, either to the characters, bodies, or estates of men, and especially to their immortal souls; and yet God that charges his angels with folly did not charge these men with it; that is, he seemed, in the outward dealings of his providence towards them, as if he took no notice of their sins, but connived at them, or took no account of them, and did not take any methods in his providence to show their folly, and convince them of it, nor discover it to others, and make them public examples, did not punish them, but let them go on in them without control; and this Job observes, in order to prove his point, that wicked men are not always punished in this life.

Men {m} groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God {n} layeth not folly to them.

(m) For the great oppression and extortion.

(n) Cry out and call for vengeance.

12. Men groan from out of the city] Rather, according to the pointing, from out of the populous city they groan. In this, however, there is no parallelism to the “soul of the wounded” in next clause. By a slight change of pointing, and as read by the Syriac, the sense is obtained: from out the city the dying groan. The phrase “from out” means merely “in connexion with” or in the cities, comp. Psalm 72:16. Reference is made to the cities in order to indicate that this injustice and cruel oppression suffered by men is universal, in city and country alike.

layeth not folly to them] Rather, regardeth not the folly, or, wrong. The same word occurred in ch. Job 1:22, see note. All this oppression is manifest on the face of the earth among men, but God giveth no heed to the wrong—He appointeth no days (Job 24:1) for doing judgment and staying the injustice.

Verse 12. - Men groan from out of the city. It is not only in the wild tracts bordering on the desert (vers. 5-8), or on the large farms of rich landholders (vers. 9-11), that oppression takes place. Men's groans are heard also "from the city," and in the midst of the city, where murder, robbery, burglary, adultery, and other crimes of the deepest dye abound. Then the soul of the wounded crieth out. In appeals to God for help, or in inarticulate cries, the wounded spirit of the oppressed and injured vents itself. Yet God layeth not folly to them. Yet God seems to take no notice. He gives no sign of disapproval, but allows the oppressors to go on in their foolish courses unchecked. Job 24:12It is natural, with Umbr., Ew., Hirz., and others, to read מתים like the Peschito; but as mı̂te in Syriac, so also מתים in Hebrew as a noun everywhere signifies the dead (Arab. mauta), not the dying, mortals (Arab. matna); wherefore Ephrem interprets the praes. "they groan" by the perf. "they have groaned." The pointing מתים, therefore, is quite correct; but the accentuation which, by giving Mehupach Zinnorith to מעיר, and Asla legarmeh to מתים, places the two words in a genitival relation, is hardly correct: in the city of men, i.e., the inhabited, thickly-populated city, they groan; not: men (as Rosenm. explains, according to Genesis 9:6; Proverbs 11:6) groan; for just because מתים appeared to be too inexpressive as a subject, this accentuation seems to have been preferred. It is also possible that the signification fierce anger (Hosea 11:9), or anguish (Jeremiah 15:8), was combined with עיר, comp. Arab. gayrt, jealousy, fury ( equals קנאה), of which, however, no trace is anywhere visible.

(Note: Wetzstein translates Hosea 11:9 : I will not come as a raging foe, with ב of the attribute equals Arab. b-ṣifat 'l-‛ayyûr (comp. Jeremiah 15:8, עיר, parall. שׁדד) after the form קים, to which, if not this עיר, certainly the עיר, ἐγρήγορος, occurring in Daniel 4:10, and freq., corresponds. What we remarked above, p. 483, on the form קים, is cleared up by the following observation of Wetzstein: "The form קים belongs to the numerous class of segolate forms of the form פעל, which, as belonging to the earliest period of the formation of the Semitic languages, take neither plural nor feminine terminations; they have often a collective meaning, and are not originally abstracta, but concreta in the sense of the Arabic part. act. mufâ‛l. This inflexible primitive formation is frequently found in the present day in the idiom of the steppe, which shows that the Hebrew is essentially of primeval antiquity (uralt). Thus the Beduin says: hû qitlı̂ (הוּא קטלי), he is my opponent in a hand-to-hand combat; nithı̂ (נטחי), my opponent in the tournament with lances; chı̂lfı̂ (חלפי) and diddı̂ (צדּי), my adversary; thus a step-mother is called dı̂r (ציר), as the oppressor of the step-children, and a concubine dirr (צרר), as the oppressor of her rival. The Kamus also furnishes several words which belong here, as tilb (טלב), a persecutor." Accordingly, קים is derived from קום, as also עיר, a city, from עור (whence, according to a prevalent law of the change of letters, we have עיר first of all, plur. עירים, Judges 10:4), and signifies the rebelling one, i.e., the enemy (who is now in the idiom of the steppe called qômâni, from qôm, a state of war, a feud), as עיר, a keeper and ציר, a messenger; עיר (קיר) is also originally concrete, a wall (enclosure).)

With Jer., Symm., and Theod., we take מתים as the sighing ones themselves; the feebleness of the subject disappears if we explain the passage according to such passages as Deuteronomy 2:34; Deuteronomy 3:6, comp. Judges 20:48 : it is the male inhabitants that are intended, whom any conqueror would put to the sword; we have therefore translated men (men of war), although "people" (Job 11:3) also would not have been unsuitable according to the ancient use of the word. נאק is intended of the groans of the dying, as Jeremiah 51:52; Ezekiel 30:24, as Job 24:12 also shows: the soul of those that are mortally wounded cries out. חללים signifies not merely the slain and already dead, but, according to its etymon, those who are pierced through those who have received their death-blow; their soul cries out, since it does not leave the body without a struggle. Such things happen without God preventing them. לא־ישׂים תּפלה, He observeth not the abomination, either equals לא ישׂים בלבו, Job 22:22 (He layeth it not to heart), or, since the phrase occurs nowhere elliptically, equals לא ישׂים לבו על, Job 1:8; Job 34:23) He does not direct His heart, His attention to it), here as elliptical, as in Job 4:20; Isaiah 41:20. True, the latter phrase is never joined with the acc. of the object; but if we translate after שׂים בּ, Job 4:18 : non imputat, He does not reckon such תפלה, i.e., does not punish it, בּם (בּהם) ought to be supplied, which is still somewhat liable to misconstruction, since the preceding subject is not the oppressors, but those who suffer oppression. תּפלה is properly insipidity (comp. Arab. tafila, to stink), absurdity, self-contradiction, here the immorality which sets at nought the moral order of the world, and remains nevertheless unpunished. The Syriac version reads תּפלּה, and translates, like Louis Bridel (1818): et Dieu ne fait aucune attention leur prire.

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