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. 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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