Job 24:14
The murderer rising with the light kills the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief.
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(14) With the light.—The mention of light as a moral essence suggests its physical analogue, so that by the contrast of the one with the violence done to the other, the moral turpitude of the wrong-doing is heightened. It seems impossible to interpret the light in the former case (Job 24:13) otherwise than morally, and if so, the mention of the “ways thereof” and the “paths thereof” is very remarkable. The order in which these crimes of murder, adultery, and theft are mentioned according, as it does, with that in the Decalogue, is, at all events, suggestive of acquaintance with it.

Job 24:14-15. The murderer rising with the light — As soon as the light appears, using no less diligence in his wicked practices than labourers do in their honest and daily employments; killeth the poor and needy — Where he finds nothing to satisfy his covetousness, he exerciseth his cruelty. And in the night is as a thief — He is really a thief; the particle as being often used to express, not the resemblance, but the truth, of the thing. In the night they rob men secretly and cunningly, as in the day-time they do it more openly and avowedly. The adulterer waiteth for the twilight — Namely, for the evening twilight, which is his opportunity; saying — In his heart; No eye shall see me — Comforting himself with the thoughts of secrecy and impunity; and disguiseth his face — Hebrew, putteth his face in secret; covers it with a mask that he may not be discovered.24:13-17 See what care and pains wicked men take to compass their wicked designs; let it shame our negligence and slothfulness in doing good. See what pains those take, who make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts of it: pains to compass, and then to hide that which will end in death and hell at last. Less pains would mortify and crucify the flesh, and be life and heaven at last. Shame came in with sin, and everlasting shame is at the end of it. See the misery of sinners; they are exposed to continual frights: yet see their folly; they are afraid of coming under the eye of men, but have no dread of God's eye, which is always upon them: they are not afraid of doing things which they are afraid of being known to do.The murderer - One of the instances, referred to in the previous verse, of those who perform their deeds in darkness.

Rising with the light - Hebrew לאור lā'ôr. Vulgate "Mane primo - in the earliest twilight." The meaning is, that he does it very early; by daybreak. It is not in open day, but at the earliest dawn.

Killeth the poor and needy - Those who are so poor and needy that they are obliged to rise early and go forth to their toil. There is a double aggravation - the crime of murder itself, and the fact that it is committed on those who are under a necessity of going forth at that early hour to their labor.

And in the night is as a thief - The same man. Theft is usually committed under cover of the night. The idea of Job is, that though these crimes cannot escape the notice of God, yet that he does not interpose to punish those who committed them. A striking incidental illustration of the fact stated here, occurred in the journey of Messrs. Robinson and Smith, on their way from Akabah to Jerusalem. After retiring to rest one night, they were aroused by a sudden noise; and they apprehended attack by robbers. "Our Arabs," says Dr. R. "were evidently alarmed. They said, if thieves, "they would steal upon us at midnight; if robbers they would come down upon towards morning." Bibl. Research. i. 270. It would seem, therefore, that there was some settled time or order in which they are accustomed to commit their various depredations.

14. with the light—at early dawn, while still dark, when the traveller in the East usually sets out, and the poor laborer to his work; the murderous robber lies in wait then (Ps 10:8).

is as a thief—Thieves in the East steal while men sleep at night; robbers murder at early dawn. The same man who steals at night, when light dawns not only robs, but murders to escape detection.

With the light; as soon as the light appears, using no less diligence in his wicked practices, than labourers do in their honest and daily employments.

Killeth the poor and needy; where he finds nothing to satisfy his covetousness, he exerciseth his cruelty.

Is as a thief, i.e. he is really a thief; the particle as being oft used to express, not the resemblance but the truth of the thing, as Numbers 11:1 Deu 9:10 Hosea 4:4 Hosea 5:10 John 1:14. In the night they rob men secretly and cunningly, as in the day-time they do it more openly and avowedly. The murderer rising with the light,.... The light of the morning, before the sun is risen, about the time the early traveller is set out on his journey, and men go to distant markets to buy and sell goods, and the poor labourer goes forth to his work; then is the time for one that is used to commit robbery and murder to rise from his bed, or from his lurking place, in a cave or a thicket, where he has lain all night, in order to meet with the above persons: and so

killeth the poor and needy; takes away from them the little they have, whether money or provisions, and kills them because they have no more, and that they may not be evidence against him; it may be meant of the poor saints and people of God, whom the wicked slay out of hatred to them:

and in the night is as a thief; kills privately, secretly, at an unawares, as the thief does his work; or the "as" here is not a note of similitude or likeness, but of reality and truth; and so Mr. Broughton renders the words, "and in the night he will be as a thief"; in the morning he is a robber on the highway, and a murderer; all the day he is in his lurking place, in some haunt or another, sleeping or carousing; and when the night comes on, then he acts the part of a thief; in the morning he not only robs, but murders, that he may not be detected; at night he only steals, and not kills, because men are asleep, and see him not.

The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief.
14. with the light] i. e. toward day-break, while it is still partially dark. At such an hour the murderer waylays the solitary traveller.

is as a thief] i. e. acts the thief, becomes a thief.Verse 14. - The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy. The murderer rises at the first glimpse of dawn - the time when mast men sleep most soundly. He cannot go about his wicked business in complete darkness. He has not the courage to attack the great and powerful, who might be well armed and have retainers to defend them, but enters the houses of a comparatively poor class, in which he is less afraid to risk himself. Here, in the night he is as a thief. He has not come into the house simply for murder. Theft is his main object. He will not take life unless he is resisted or discovered, and so, in a certain sense, driven to it. 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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