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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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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. 9 They tear the fatherless from the breast,

And defraud the poor.

10 Naked, they slink away without clothes,

And hungering they bear the sheaves.

11 Between their walls they squeeze out the oil;

They tread the wine-presses, and suffer thirst.

12 In the city vassals groan, And the soul of the oppressed crieth out -

And Eloah heedeth not the anomaly.

The accentuation of Job 24:9 (יגזלו with Dech, משׁד with Munach) makes the relation of שׁד יתום genitival. Heidenheim (in a MS annotation to Kimchi's Lex.) accordingly badly interprets: they plunder from the spoil of the orphan; Ramban better: from the ruin, i.e., the shattered patrimony; both appeal to the Targum, which translates מביזת יתום, like the Syriac version, men bezto de-jatme (comp. Jerome: vim fecerunt depraedantes pupillos). The original reading, however, is perhaps (vid., Buxtorf, Lex. col. 295) מבּיזא, ἀπὸ βυζίου, from the mother's breast, as it is also, the lxx (ἀπὸ μαστοῦ), to be translated contrary to the accentuation. Inhuman creditors take the fatherless and still tender orphan away from its mother, in order to bring it up as a slave, and so to obtain payment. If this is the meaning of the passage, it is natural to understand יחבּלוּ, Job 24:9, of distraining; but (1) the poet would then repeat himself tautologically, vid., Job 24:3, where the same thing is far more evidently said; (2) חבל, to distrain, would be construed with על, contrary to the logic of the word. Certainly the phrase חבל על may be in some degree explained by the interpretation, "to impose a fine" (Ew., Hahn), or "to distrain" (Hirz., Welte), or "to oppress with fines" (Schlottm.); but violence is thus done to the usage of the language, which is better satisfied by the explanation of Ralbag (among modern expositors, Ges., Arnh., Vaih., Stick., Hlgst.): and what the unfortunate one possesses they seize; but this על equals אשׁר על directly as object is impossible. The passage, Deuteronomy 7:25, cited by Schultens in its favour, is of a totally different kind.

But throughout the Semitic dialects the verb חבל also signifies "to destroy, to treat injuriously" (e.g., Arab. el-châbil, a by-name of Satan); it occurs in this signification in Job 34:31, and according to the analogy of הרע על, 1 Kings 17:20, can be construed with על as well as with ל. The poet, therefore, by this construction will have intended to distinguish the one חבל from the other, Job 22:6; Job 24:3; and it is with Umbreit to be translated: they bring destruction upon the poor; or better: they take undue advantage of those who otherwise are placed in trying circumstances.

The subjects of Job 24:10 are these עניים, who are made serfs, and become objects of merciless oppression, and the poet here in Job 24:10 indeed repeats what he has already said almost word for word in Job 24:7 (comp. Job 31:19); but there the nakedness was the general calamity of a race oppressed by subjugation, here it is the consequence of the sin of merces retenta laborum, which cries aloud to heaven, practised on those of their own race: they slink away (הלּך, as Job 30:28) naked (nude), without (בּלי equals מבּלי, as perhaps sine equals absque) clothing, and while suffering hunger they carry the sheaves (since their masters deny them what, according to Deuteronomy 25:4, shall not be withheld even from the beasts). Between their walls (שׁוּרת like שׁרות, Jeremiah 5:10, Chaldee שׁוּריּא), i.e., the walls of their masters who have made them slaves, therefore under strict oversight, they press out the oil (יצהירוּ, ἅπ. γεγρ.), they tread the wine-vats (יקבים, lacus), and suffer thirst withal (fut. consec. according to Ew. 342, a), without being allowed to quench their thirst from the must which runs out of the presses (נּתּות, torcularia, from which the verb דּרך is here transferred to the vats). Bttch. translates: between their rows of trees, without being able to reach out right or left; but that is least of all suitable with the olives. Carey correctly explains: "the factories or the garden enclosures of these cruel slaveholders." This reference of the word to the wall of the enclosure is more suitable than to walls of the press-house in particular. From tyrannical oppression in the country,

(Note: Brentius here remarks: Quantum igitur judicium in eos futurum est, qui in homines ejusdem carnis, ejusdem patriae, ejusdem fidei, ejusdem Christi committunt quod nec in bruta animalia committendum est, quod malum in Germania frequentissimum est. Vae igitur Germaniae!)

Job now passes over to the abominations of discord and was in the cities.

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