Job 24:17
For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death: if one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death.
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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.For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death - They dread the light as one does usually the deepest darkness. The morning or light would reveal their deeds of wickedness, and they therefore avoid it.

As the shadow of death - As the deepest darkness; see the notes at Job 3:5.

If one know them - If they are recognized. Or, more probably, this means "they," that is, each one of them, "are familiar with the terrors of the shadow of death," or with the deepest darkness. By this rendering the common signification of the word (יכיר yakı̂yr) will be retained, and the translation will accord with the general sense of the passage. The meaning is, that they are familiar with the blackest night. They do not dread it. They dread only the light of day. To others the darkness is terrible; to them it is familiar. The word rendered "shadow of death" in the latter part of this verse, is the same as in the former. It may mean in both places the gloomy night that resembles the shadow, of death. Such a night is "terrible" to most people, to them it is familiar, and they feel secure only when its deep shades are round about them.

17. They shrink from the "morning" light, as much as other men do from the blackest darkness ("the shadow of death").

if one know—that is, recognize them. Rather, "They know well (are familiar with) the terrors of," &c. [Umbreit]. Or, as Maurer, "They know the terrors of (this) darkness," namely, of morning, the light, which is as terrible to them as darkness ("the shadow of death") is to other men.

As the shadow of death, i.e. terrible and hateful, because it both discovers them and hinders their practices. If they are brought to light or discovered, they are overwhelmed with deadly horrors and terrors. Or, as the words are, and may very agreeably to the Hebrew be rendered thus: but (as the Hebrew particle commonly signifies)

they know (Heb. he knoweth, every one of them knoweth, i.e. approveth and loveth)

the terrors of the shadow of death, i.e. the grossest darkness of the night, which to other men is as terrible as the shadow of death, but to these men is most acceptable: so this clause is fitly opposed to the former; he hates the light, and he likes darkness.

For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death,.... It is as disagreeable, and as hateful, and as terrible to them as the grossest and thickest darkness can be to others. The word is to be rendered either "alike" or "altogether", and not "even", as in our version: "the morning is to them equally" or "together" (w); that is, to the murderer, robber, thief, adulterer, and housebreaker, "as the shadow of death"; alike disagreeable to them all; or "the shadow of death is to them together" or "alike as the morning"; what the morning is to others, exceeding pleasant and delightful, that to them is the shadow of death, or the darkest night; they love darkness rather than light:

if one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death; they are frightened unto death, they are in as great terror as a man is to whom death is the king of terrors; and who is sensible of the near approach of it, the plain and manifest symptoms of it being upon him: this is the case of the murderer, adulterer, and thief, when they are caught in the fact; or are known by such who are capable of giving notice of them, detecting them, and bearing witness against them: or "he", each and everyone of these, "knows the terrors of the shadow of death" (x); the darkest night, which strikes terrors into others, is known by them, is delighted in by them, is familiar with them, and friendly to them, and is as pleasing as the brightest day to others.

(w) Pariter, Pagninus, Montanus, &c. (x) "agnoscit terrores umbrae mortis", Mercerus, Cocceius; so Codurcus, Schmidt.

For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death: if one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death.
17. This verse expands the last clause of Job 24:16 :—

For the morning is to them as the shadow of death,

For they know the terrors of the shadow of death.

The “shadow of death” is equivalent almost to “midnight;” see note ch. Job 3:5. These malefactors know not the light (Job 24:16), the morning seems to them midnight, so much do they fear and shun it; but they know, they are familiar with, the terrors of midnight, for this is their day. Others make “morning” predicate, for midnight is to them (like) the morning. This, however, does not connect so closely with Job 24:16. “Shakespeare has the same thought—as indeed what thought has he not?—and tells us that ‘when the searching eye of heaven, that lights this lower world, is hid behind the globe,’

‘Then thieves and robbers range abroad unseen,

In murders and in outrage …

But when from under this terrestrial ball

He fires the proud tops of the eastern pines,

And darts his light through every guilty hole,

Then murders, treason, and detested sins,

The cloak of night being plucked from off their backs,

Stand bare and naked, trembling at themselves.’ ”

(Cox, Commentary on Job, p. 317.)

Verse 17. - For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death. They hate the morning light. It is associated in their minds with the idea of detection; for when it breaks in upon them unexpectedly in the midst of their ill deeds, detection commonly follows; and detection is a true "shadow of death," for it commonly means the gallows. If one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death; rather, for they know the terrors of the shadow of death (see the Revised Version). It is a familiar experience to them; as, whenever crime is severely punished, it is to the criminal class generally. Job 24:1716 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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