Job 24:16
In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light.
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(16) Which they had marked for themselves in the daytime.—Or, as some understand, they seal (i.e., shut) themselves up in the daytime. It is said that it is still the custom in Eastern cities for such persons to endeavour to obtain access to the harem in female attire.

They know not the light.—Compared with Job 24:13, shows strongly the different usage of the expression in the two cases.

Job 24:16-17. In the dark they dig through houses — Either the adulterer last mentioned, or rather the thief or robber, whose common practice this is, of whom he spake, Job 24:14; and having, on that occasion, inserted the mention of the adulterer, as one who acted his sin in the same manner as the night thief did, he now returns to the latter again: which they had marked for themselves — Distinguishing, by some secret mark, the house of some rich man which they intended to rob, and the part of the house where they resolved to enter it. They know not the light — Do not love nor make use of it, but abhor and shun it. For the morning is as the shadow of death — Terrible and hateful, because it both discovers them and hinders their practices. If one know them, &c. — If they are brought to light, or discovered, they are overwhelmed with deadly horrors and terrors.

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.In the dark they dig through houses - This refers, probably, to another class of wicked persons. The adulterer steals forth in the night, but it is not his way to "dig" into houses. But the persons here referred to are robbers, who conceal themselves by day, and who at night secretly enter houses for plunder. The phrase "dig through" probably has reference to the fact that houses were made of clay, or of bricks dried in the sun - a species of mud cottages, and whose walls, therefore, could be easily penetrated. In the East, nearly all the houses are made of unburned brick, and there is little difficulty in making a hole in the wall large enough to admit the human body; compare Ezekiel 12:7. In Bengal, says Mr. Ward, it is common for thieves to dig through the walls of houses made of mud, or under the house floors, which are made merely of earth, and enter thus into the dwellings while the inmates are asleep. Rosenmuller's Alte u. neue Morgenland "in loc."

Which they had marked for themselves in the day-time - According to this translation the idea would be, that in the day-time they carefully observed houses, and saw where an entrance might be effected. But this interpretation seems contrary to the general sense of the passage. It is said that they avoid the light, and that the night is the time for accomplishing their purposes. Probably, therefore, the meaning of this passage is, "in the day time they shut themselves up." So it is rendered by Gesenius, Rosenmuller, Noyes, and others. The word here used, and rendered "marked" (חתם châtham), means to seal, to seal up; and hence, the idea of shutting up, or making fast; see Job 9:7, note; Isaiah 8:17, note. Hence, it may mean to shut up close as if one was locked in; and the idea here is, that in the day-time they shut themselves up close in their places of concealment, and went forth to their depredations in the night.

They know not the light - They do not see the light. They do all their work in the dark.

16. dig through—Houses in the East are generally built of sun-dried mud bricks (so Mt 6:19). "Thieves break through," literally, "dig through" (Eze 12:7).

had marked—Rather, as in Job 9:7, "They shut themselves up" (in their houses); literally, "they seal up."

for themselves—for their own ends, namely, to escape detection.

know not—shun.

They dig; either,

1. The adulterer last mentioned; although such persons do not use nor need these violent courses to get into the house of the adulteress, but are commonly admitted upon milder and easier terms. Or,

2. The thief or robber, whose common practice this is, of whom he spoke Job 24:14; and having on that occasion inserted the mention of the adulterer as one who acted his sin in the same manner as the night-thief did, he now returns to him again.

Which they had marked for themselves; the thief and his accomplices, designing by some secret mark the house of some rich man which they intended to rob, and the part of the house where they resolved to enter into it.

They know not the light, i.e. do not love nor like it, as Job 24:13; but abhor it, as it follows.

In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime,.... Which some understand of adulterers last mentioned, who, having observed where beautiful women dwell, mark their houses, and the way to them, and the best way into them, and in the dark get in at windows, or by breaking open doors get to the persons they lust after; but as such steps would be neither safe nor prudent, so they are not necessary; such sort of persons get admittance in an easier way, either by bribing servants, or by a previous agreement with the adulteress herself: rather this is to be understood of the thief and his companions, before spoken of; or designs another sort of thieves, such as are guilty of burglary, housebreakers, who in the daytime go about and observe such houses as are full of money, plate, and rich goods, see Job 3:15; and take diligent notice of the way to them, and which is the best and easiest part to get into them, and, perhaps, set on them a private mark that they may know them; these they break up, the walls, or doors, or windows, and get in at them, and rob, and plunder, and carry off all they can; the same sins were committed, and the same methods of committing them were used, formerly as now; there was a law in Israel concerning housebreaking, Exodus 22:2; and our Lord alludes to it, Matthew 24:43. Some render the words, "they seal up" or "shut up themselves in the day" (u); in their caves, and dens, and lurking places, and do not appear, and scarce ever see the light, and therefore it follows:

they know not the light; it is seldom or ever seen by them, or they do not approve it, like it, and love it, being not for their purpose; while it is light they can do nothing, that manifestly discovers and betrays them, and therefore they hate it; and in a figurative sense they know not, or do not approve of the light of nature, which checks and controls such evil actions, and accuses them of them; nor the light of God's word, or holy law, which forbids them, and therefore they despise it, and cast it away from them, and will not be subject to it; nor God himself, who is light, and against whom their carnal minds are enmity; and whatever knowledge they have of him, or profess to have, in works they deny him, and live without him, as atheists in the world.

(u) , Sept. "includunt sese", some in Mercerus; so Drusius; "semet sigillant", Schultens.

In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light.
16. which they had marked] Rather, they shut (lit. seal) themselves up in the daytime. In the dark the housebreaker digs through the wall, which in many Eastern houses is of clay or soft brick; in the daytime he abides close in his own retreat; he is unacquainted with the light.

Verse 16. - In the dark they dig through houses. In ancient times, burglary commonly took this form. Windows were few, and high up in the walls; doors were strongly fastened with bolts and bars. But the walls, being of clay, or rubble, or sun-dried brick, were weak and easily penetrable. This was especially the case with party walls; and if burglars entered an unoccupied house, nothing was easier than to break through the slight partition which separated it from the house next door. The Greek word for "burglar" is τοιχώρυχος" he who digs through a wall." Which they had marked for themselves in the daytime; rather, they shut themselves up in the daytime; literally, they seal themselves up; the meaning being that they carefully keep themselves close. Professor Lee, however, defends the Authorized Version. They know not the light; i.e. they avoid it, keep away from it, will have nothing to do with it. Job 24:1616 In the dark they dig through houses,

By day they shut themselves up,

They will know nothing of the light.

17 For the depth of night is to them even as the dawn of the morning,

For they know the terrors of the depth of night.

The handiwork of the thief, which is but slightly referred to in Job 24:14, is here more particularly described. The indefinite subj. of חתר, as is manifest from what follows, is the band of thieves. The בּ, which is elsewhere joined with chtr (to break into anything), is here followed by the acc. בּתּים (to be pronounced bâttim, not bottim),

(Note: Vid., Aben-Ezra on Exodus 12:7. The main proof that it is to be pronounced bâttim is, that written exactly it is בּתּים, and that the Metheg according to circumstances, is changed into an accent, as Exodus 8:7; Exodus 12:7; Jeremiah 18:22; Ezekiel 45:4, which can only happen by Kametz, not by Kometz (K. chatph); comp. Khler on Zechariah 14:2.)

as in the Talmudic, חתר שׁנּו, to pick one's teeth (and thereby to make them loose), b. Kidduschin, 24 b. According to the Talmud, Ralbag, and the ancient Jewish interpretation in general, Job 24:16 is closely connected to btym: houses which they have marked by day for breaking into, and the mode of its accomplishment; but חתם nowhere signifies designare, always obsignare, to seal up, to put under lock and key, Job 14:17; Job 9:7; Job 37:7; according to which the Piel, which occurs only here, is to be explained: by day they seal up, i.e., shut themselves up for their safety (למו is not to be accented with Athnach, but with Rebia mugrasch): they know not the light, i.e., as Schlottm. well explains: they have no fellowship with it; for the biblical ידע, γινώσκειν, mostly signifies a knowledge which enters into the subject, and intimately unites itself with it. In Job 24:17 one confirmation follows another. Umbr. and Hirz. explain: for the morning is to them at once the shadow of death; but יחדּו, in the signification at the same time, as we have taken יחד in Job 17:16 (nevertheless of simultaneousness of time), is unsupportable: it signifies together, Job 2:11; Job 9:32; and the arrangement of the words למו...יחדּו (to them together) is like Isaiah 9:20; Isaiah 31:3; Jeremiah 46:12. Also, apart from the erroneous translation of the יחדו, which is easily set aside, Hirzel's rendering of Job 24:17 is forced: the morning, i.e., the bright day, is to them all as the shadow of death, for each and every one of them knows the terrors of the daylight, which is to them as the shadow of death, viz., the danger of being discovered and condemned. The interpretation, which is also preferred by Olshausen, is far more natural: the depth of night is to them as the dawn of the morning (on the precedence of the predicate, comp. Amos 4:13 and Amos 5:8 : walking in the darkness of the early morning), for they are acquainted with the terrors of the depth of night, i.e., they are not surprised by them, but know how to anticipate and to escape them. Job 38:15 also, where the night, which vanishes before the rising of the sun, is called the "light" of the evil-doer, favours this interpretation (not the other, as Olsh. thinks). The accentuation also favours it; for is בקר had been the subj., and were to be translated: the morning is to them the shadow of death, it ought to have been accented בקר למו צלמות, Dech, Mercha, Athnach. It is, however, accented Munach, Munach, Athnach, and the second Munach stands as the deputy of Dech, whose value in the interpunction it represents; therefore בקר למו is the predicate: the shadow of death is morning to them. From the plur. the description now, with יכּיר, passes into the sing., as individualizing it. בּלהות constr. of בּלּהות, is without a Dagesh in the second consonant. Mercier admirably remarks here: sunt ei familiares et noti nocturni terrores, neque eos timet aut curat, quasi sibi cum illis necessitudo et familiaritas intercederet et cum illis ne noceant foedus aut pactum inierit. Thus by their skill and contrivance they escape danger, and divine justice allows them to remain undiscovered and unpunished, - a fact which is most incomprehensible.

It is now time that this thought was once again definitely expressed, that one may not forget what these accumulated illustrations are designed to prove. But what now follows in Job 24:18 seems to express not Job's opinion, but that of his opponents. Ew., Hirz., and Hlgst. regard Job 24:18, Job 24:22, as thesis and antithesis. To the question, What is the lot that befalls all these evil-doers? Job is thought to give a twofold answer: first, to Job 24:21, an ironical answer in the sense of the friends, that those men are overtaken by the merited punishment; then from Job 24:22 is his own serious answer, which stands in direct contrast to the former. But (1) in Job 24:18 there is not the slightest trace observable that Job does not express his own view: a consideration which is also against Schlottman, who regards Job 24:18 as expressive of the view of an opponent. (2) There is no such decided contrast between Job 24:18 and Job 24:22, for Job 24:19 and Job 24:24 both affirm substantially the same thing concerning the end of the evil-doer. In like manner, it is also not to be supposed, with Stick., Lwenth., Bttch., Welte, and Hahn, that Job, outstripping the friends, as far as Job 24:21, describes how the evil-doer certainly often comes to a terrible end, and in Job 24:22 how the very opposite of this, however, is often witnessed; so that this consequently furnishes no evidence in support of the exclusive assertion of the friends. Moreover, Job 24:24 compared with Job 24:19, where there is nothing to indicate a direct contrast, is opposed to it; and Job 24:22, which has no appearance of referring to a direct contrast with what has been previously said, is opposed to such an antithetical rendering of the two final strophes. Job 24:22 might more readily be regarded as a transition to the antithesis, if Job 24:18 could, with Eichh., Schnurr., Dathe, Umbr., and Vaih., after the lxx, Syriac, and Jerome, be understood as optative: "Let such an one be light on the surface of the water, let ... be cursed, let him not turn towards," etc., but Job 24:18 is not of the optative form; and Job 24:18, where in that case אל־יפנה would be expected, instead of אל־יפנה, shows that Job 24:18, where, according to the syntax, the optative rendering is natural, is nevertheless not to be so rendered. The right interpretation is that which regards both Job 24:18 and Job 24:22 as Job's own view, without allowing him absolutely to contradict himself. Thus it is interpreted, e.g., by Rosenmller, who, however, as also Renan, errs in connecting Job 24:18 with the description of the thieves, and understands Job 24:18 of their slipping away, Job 24:18 of their dwelling in horrible places, and Job 24:18 of their avoidance of the vicinity of towns.

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