Job 24:12
Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded cries out: yet God lays 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. 5 Behold, as wild asses in the desert,

They go forth in their work seeking for prey,

The steppe is food to them for the children.

6 In the field they reap the fodder for his cattle,

And they glean the vineyard of the evil-doer.

7 They pass the night in nakedness without a garment,

And have no covering in the cold.

8 They are wet with the torrents of rain upon the mountains,

And they hug the rocks for want of shelter.

The poet could only draw such a picture as this, after having himself seen the home of his hero, and the calamitous fate of such as were driven forth from their original abodes to live a vagrant, poverty-stricken gipsy life. By Job 24:5, one is reminded of Psalm 104:21-23, especially since in Job 24:11 of this Psalm the פּראים, onagri (Kulans), are mentioned, - those beautiful animals

(Note: Layard, New Discoveries, p. 270, describes these wild asses' colts. The Arabic name is like the Hebrew, el-ferâ, or also himâr el-wahsh, i.e., wild ass, as we have translated, whose home is on the steppe. For fuller particulars, vid., Wetzstein's note on Job 39:5.)

which, while young, as difficult to be broken in, and when grown up are difficult to be caught; which in their love of freedom are an image of the Beduin, Genesis 16:12; their untractableness an image of that which cannot be bound, Job 11:12; and from their roaming about in herds in waste regions, are here an image of a gregarious, vagrant, and freebooter kind of life. The old expositors, as also Rosenm., Umbr., Arnh., and Vaih., are mistaken in thinking that aliud hominum sceleratorum genus is described in Job 24:5. Ewald and Hirz. were the first to perceive that Job 24:5 is the further development of Job 24:4, and that here, as in Job 30:1, those who are driven back into the wastes and caves, and a remnant of the ejected and oppressed aborigines who drag out a miserable existence, are described.

The accentuation rightly connects פראים במדבר; by the omission of the Caph similit., as e.g., Isaiah 51:12, the comparison (like a wild ass) becomes an equalization (as a wild ass). The perf. יצאוּ is a general uncoloured expression of that which is usual: they go forth בפעלם, in their work (not: to their work, as the Psalmist, in Psalm 104:23, expresses himself, exchanging ב for ל). משׁחרי לטּרף, searching after prey, i.e., to satisfy their hunger (Psalm 104:21), from טרף, in the primary signification decerpere (vid., Hupfeld on Psalm 7:3), describes that which in general forms their daily occupation as they roam about; the constructivus is used here, without any proper genitive relation, as a form of connection, according to Ges. 116, 1. The idea of waylaying is not to be connected with the expression. Job describes those who are perishing in want and misery, not so much as those who themselves are guilty of evil practices, as those who have been brought down to poverty by the wrongdoing of others. As is implied in משׁחרי (comp. the morning Psalm 63:2; Isaiah 26:9), Job describes their going forth in the early morning; the children (נערים, as Job 1:19; Job 29:5) are those who first feel the pangs of hunger. לו refers individually to the father in the company: the steppe (with its scant supply of roots and herbs) is to him food for the children; he snatches it from it, it must furnish it for him. The idea is not: for himself and his family (Hirz., Hahn, and others); for v. 6, which has been much misunderstood, describes how they, particularly the adults, obtain their necessary subsistence. There is no MS authority for reading בּלי־לו instead of בּלילו; the translation "what is not to him" (lxx, Targ., and partially also the Syriac version) is therefore to be rejected. Raschi correctly interprets יבולו as a general explanation, and Ralbag תבואתו: it is, as in Job 6:5, mixed fodder for cattle, farrago, consisting of oats or barley sown among vetches and beans, that is intended. The meaning is not, however, as most expositors explain it, that they seek to satisfy their hunger with food for cattle grown in the fields of the rich evil-doer; for קצר does not signify to sweep together, but to reap in an orderly manner; and if they meant to steal, why did they not seize the better portion of the produce? It is correct to take the suff. as referring to the רשׁע which is mentioned in the next clause, but it is not to be understood that they plunder his fields per nefas; on the contrary, that he hires them to cut the fodder for his cattle, but does not like to entrust the reaping of the better kinds of corn to them. It is impracticable to press the Hiph. יקצירו of the Chethib to favour this rendering; on the contrary, הקציר stands to קצר in like (not causative) signification as הנחה to נחה (vid., on Job 31:18). In like manner, Job 24:6 is to be understood of hired labour. The rich man prudently hesitates to employ these poor people as vintagers; but he makes use of their labour (whilst his own men are fully employed at the wine-vats) to gather the straggling grapes which ripen late, and were therefore left at the vintage season. the older expositors are reminded of לקשׁ, late hay, and explain ילקּשׁוּ as denom. by יכרתו לקשׁו (Aben-Ezra, Immanuel, and others) or יאכלו לקשׁו (Parchon); but how unnatural to think of the second mowing, or even of eating the after-growth of grass, where the vineyard is the subject referred to! On the contrary, לקּשׁ signifies, as it were, serotinare, i.e., serotinos fructus colligere (Rosenm.):

(Note: In the idiom of Hauran, לקשׂ, fut. i, signifies to be late, to come late; in Piel, to delay, e.g., the evening meal, return, etc.; in Hithpa. telaqqas, to arrive too late. Hence laqı̂s לקישׂ and loqsı̂ לקשׂי, delayed, of any matter, e.g., לקישׁ and זרע לקשׂי, late seed ( equals לקשׁ, Amos 7:1, in connection with which the late rain in April, which often fails, is reckoned on), ולד לקשׂי, a child born late (i.e., in old age); bakı̂r בכיר and bekrı̂ בכרי are the opposites in every signification. - Wetzst.)


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