Job 24:19
Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth the grave those which have sinned.
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(19) So doth the grave those which have sinned.—Job had already spoken of the sudden death of the wicked as a blessing (Job 9:23; Job 21:13), as compared with the lingering torture he himself was called upon to undergo.

Job 24:19. Drought and heat consume the snow-waters — As the snow, though it doth for a time lie upon the ground, yet at last is dissolved into water by the heat of the season, and that water is quickly swallowed up by the earth when it is dry and thirsty; so ungodly sinners, though they live and prosper for a season, yet at last shall go into the grave, which will consume them, together with all their hopes and comforts; their merry life is followed by a sad and ofttimes sudden death; not with such a death as the godly die, which perfects them, and brings them to happiness, but with a consuming and never-dying death.

24:18-25 Sometimes how gradual is the decay, how quiet the departure of a wicked person, how is he honoured, and how soon are all his cruelties and oppressions forgotten! They are taken off with other men, as the harvestman gathers the ears of corn as they come to hand. There will often appear much to resemble the wrong view of Providence Job takes in this chapter. But we are taught by the word of inspiration, that these notions are formed in ignorance, from partial views. The providence of God, in the affairs of men, is in every thing a just and wise providence. Let us apply this whenever the Lord may try us. He cannot do wrong. The unequalled sorrows of the Son of God when on earth, unless looked at in this view, perplex the mind. But when we behold him, as the sinner's Surety, bearing the curse, we can explain why he should endure that wrath which was due to sin, that Divine justice might be satisfied, and his people saved.Drought and heat consume the snow-waters - Margin, "violently take;" see the notes at Job 6:17. The word rendered "consume," and in the margin "violently take" (יגזלו yı̂gâzelû), means properly to strip off, as skin from the flesh; and then to pluck or tear away by force; to strip, to spoil, to rob. The meaning here is, that the heat seems to seize and carry away the snow waters - to bear them off, as a plunderer does spoil. There is much poetic beauty in this image. The "snow-waters" here mean the waters that are produced by the melting of the snow on the hills, and which swell the rivulets in the valleys below. Those waters, Job says, are borne along in rivulets over the burning sands, until the drought and heat absorb them all, and they vanish away; see the beautiful description of this which Job gives in Job 6:15-18. Those waters vanish away silently and gently. The stream becomes smaller and smaller as it winds along in the desert until it all disappears. So Job says it is with these wicked people whom he is describing. Instead of being violently cut off; instead of being hurried out of life by some sudden and dreadful judgment, as his friends maintained, they were suffered to linger on calmly and peaceably - as the stream glides on gently in the desert - until they quietly disappear by death - as the waters sink gently in the sands or evaporate in the air. The whole description is that of a peaceful death as contradistinguished from one of violence.

So doth the grave those who have sinned - There is a wonderful terseness and energy in the original words here, which is very feebly expressed by our translation. The Hebrew is (חטאו שׁאול she'ôl châṭâ'û) "the grave, they have sinned." The sense is correctly expressed in the common version. The meaning is, that they who have sinned die in the same quiet and gentle manner with which waters vanish in the desert. By those who have sinned, Job means those to whom he had just referred - robbers, adulterers, murderers, etc., and the sense of the whole is, that they died a calm and peaceful death; see the notes at Job 21:13, where he advances the same sentiment as here.

19. Arabian image; melted snow, as contrasted with the living fountain, quickly dries up in the sunburnt sand, not leaving a trace behind (Job 6:16-18). The Hebrew is terse and elliptical to express the swift and utter destruction of the godless; (so) "the grave—they have sinned!" As the snow, though it doth for a time lie upon the ground, yet at last is dissolved into water by the heat of the season, and that water quickly swallowed up by the earth when it is dry and thirsty; so ungodly sinners, though they live and prosper for a season, yet at last they shall go into the grave, which will consume them, together with all their hopes and comforts; their jolly life is attended with a sad, and ofttimes sudden and violent, death; not with such a death as the godly die, which perfects them and brings them to happiness, but with a consuming and never-dying death.

Drought and heat consume the snow waters,.... Melt the snow into water, and dry up that, which is done easily, quickly, and suddenly:

so doth the grave those which have sinned; all have sinned, but some are more notorious sinners than others, as those here meant; and all die and are laid in the grave, and are consumed; hence the grave is called the pit of corruption and destruction, because bodies are corrupted and destroyed in it, and which is the case of all, both good and bad men; but the metaphor here used to express it by, of the consumption of snow water by drought and heat, denotes either that the death of these persons is sudden and violent, and in such a manner are brought to the grave, consumed there; that they die a sudden death, and before their time, and do not live out half the days, which, according to the course of nature, they might have lived, or it was expected by them and others they would; whereas they are "snatched away", as the word signifies, as suddenly and violently as snow waters are by the drought and heat; or else that their death is quick, quiet, and easy, as snow is quickly dissolved, and the water as soon and as easily dried up by the drought and heat; they do not lie long under torturing diseases, but are at once taken away, and scarce feel any pain; they die in their full strength, wholly at ease and quiet; which sense well answers Job's scope and design, see Job 21:23. Some render the words, "in the drought and heat they rob, and in the snow waters" (z); that is, they rob at all times and seasons of the year, summer and winter; and this is their constant trade and employ; they are always at it, let the weather be what it will: and "they sin unto the grave", or "hell" (a); they continue in their wicked course of life as long as they live, until they are brought to the grave; they live and die in sin.

(z) "deficit"; so some in Simeon, Bar Tzemach. (a) "ad infernum usque peccarunt", Schmidt; "usque ad sepulchrum", Mercerus; some in Drusius.

Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth the grave those which {t} have sinned.

(t) As the dry ground is never full with waters, so will they never cease sinning till they come to the grave.

19. As the fierce heat and drought evaporate the abundant waters of the dissolving winter snow, leaving no trace of them, so doth Sheol engulf the sinners, that they disappear without a remnant from the world; comp. ch. Job 6:15 seq., Job 14:11; Isaiah 5:14.

Verse 19. - Drought and heat consume the snow waters; so doth the grave those which have sinned. This rendering is further confirmed by the next verse. Accepting it, we must suppose Job to pass at this point to the consideration of the ultimate end of the wicked, though in ver. 21 he returns to the consideration of their ill doings. The heat and drought of summer, he says, consume and dry up all the water which comes from the melting of the winter's snows. So does Shoel, or the grave, absorb, and as it were consume, the wicked. Job 24:1918 For he is light upon the surface of the water;

Their heritage is cursed upon the earth;

He turneth no more in the way of the vineyard.

19 Drought, also heat, snatch away snow water -

So doth Shel those who have sinned.

20 The womb forgetteth him, worms shall feast on him,

He is no more remembered;

So the desire of the wicked is broken as a tree -

21 He who hath plundered the barren that bare not,

And did no good to the widow.

The point of comparison in Job 24:18 is the swiftness of the disappearing: he is carried swiftly past, as any light substance on the surface of the water is hurried along by the swiftness of the current, and can scarcely be seen; comp. Job 9:26 : "My days shoot by as ships of reeds, as an eagle which dasheth upon its prey," and Hosea 10:7, "Samaria's king is destroyed like a bundle of brushwood (lxx, Theod., φρύγανον) on the face of the water," which is quickly drawn into the whirlpool, or buried by the approaching wave.

(Note: The translation: like foam (spuma or bulla), is also very suitable here. Thus Targ., Symm., Jerome, and others; but the signification to foam cannot be etymologically proved, whereas קצף in the signification confringere is established by קצפה, breaking, Joel 1:7, and Arab. qṣf; so that consequently קצף, as synon. of אף, signifies properly the breaking forth, and is then allied to אברה.)

But here the idea is not that of being swallowed up by the waters, as in the passage in Hosea, but, on the contrary, of vanishing from sight, by being carried rapidly past by the rush of the waters. If, then, the evil-doer dies a quick, easy death, his heritage (חלקה, from חלק, to divide) is cursed by men, since no one will dwell in it or use it, because it is appointed by God to desolation on account of the sin which is connected with it (vid., on Job 15:28); even he, the evil-doer, no more turns the way of the vineyard (פּנה, with דּרך, not an acc. of the obj., but as indicating the direction equals אל־דּרך; comp. 1 Samuel 13:18 with 1 Samuel 13:17 of the same chapter), proudly to inspect his wide extended domain, and overlook the labourers. The curse therefore does not come upon him, nor can one any longer lie in wait for him to take vengeance on him; it is useless to think of venting upon him the rage which his conduct during life provoked; he is long since out of reach in Shel.

That which Job says figuratively in Job 24:18, and in Job 21:13 without a figure: "in a moment they go down to Shel," he expresses in Job 24:19 under a new figure, and, moreover, in the form of an emblematic proverb (vid., Herzog's Real-Encyklopdie, xiv. 696), according to the peculiarity of which, not כּן, but either only the copulative Waw (Proverbs 25:25) or nothing whatever (Proverbs 11:22), is to be supplied before שׁאול חטאו. חטאוּ is virtually an object: eos qui peccarunt. Job 24:19 is a model-example of extreme brevity of expression, Ges. 155, 4, b. Sandy ground (ציּה, arid land, without natural moisture), added to it (גּם, not: likewise) the heat of the sun - these two, working simultaneously from beneath and above, snatch away (גּזלוּ, cogn. גּזר, root גז, to cut, cut away, tear away; Arab. jzr, fut. i, used of sinking, decreasing water) מימי שׁלג, water of (melted) snow (which is fed from no fountain, and therefore is quickly absorbed), and Shel snatches away those who have sinned ( equals גּזלה את־אשׁר חטאוּ). The two incidents are alike: the death of those whose life has been a life of sin, follows as a consequence easily and unobserved, without any painful and protracted struggle. The sinner disappears suddenly; the womb, i.e., the mother that bare him, forgets him (רחם, matrix equals mater; according to Ralbag: friendship, from רחם, to love tenderly; others: relationship, in which sense Arab. raḥimun equals רחם is used), worms suck at him (מתקו for מתקתּוּ, according to Ges. 147, a, sugit eum, from which primary notion of sucking comes the signification to be sweet, Job 21:33 : Syriac, metkat ennun remto; Ar. imtasahum, from the synonymous Arab. maṣṣa equals מצץ, מצה, מזה), he is no more thought of, and thus then is mischief (abstr. pro concr. as Job 5:16) broken like a tree (not: a staff, which עץ never, not even in Hosea 4:12, directly, like the Arabic ‛asa, ‛asât, signifies). Since עולה is used personally, רעה וגו, Job 24:21, can be connected with it as an appositional permutative. His want of compassion (as is still too often seen in the present day in connection with the tyrannical conduct of the executive in Syria and Palestine, especially on the part of those who collected the taxes) goes the length of eating up, i.e., entirely plundering, the barren, childless (Genesis 11:30; Isaiah 54:1), and therefore helpless woman, who has no sons to protect and defend her, and never showing favour to the widow, but, on the contrary, thrusting her away from him. There is as little need for regarding the verb רעה here, with Rosenm. after the Targ., in the signification confringere, as cognate with רעע, רצץ, as conversely to change תּרעם, Psalm 2:9, into תּרעם; it signifies depascere, as in Job 20:26, here in the sense of depopulari. On the form ייטיב for יימיב, vid., Ges. 70, 2, rem.; and on the transition from the part. to the v. fin., vid., Ges. 134, rem. 2. Certainly the memory of such an one is not affectionately cherished; this is equally true with what Job maintains in Job 21:32, that the memory of the evil-doer is immortalized by monuments. Here the allusion is to the remembrance of a mother's love and sympathetic feeling. The fundamental thought of the strophe is this, that neither in life nor in death had he suffered the punishment of his evil-doing. The figure of the broken tree (broken in its full vigour) also corresponds to this thought; comp. on the other hand what Bildad says, Job 18:16 : "his roots dry up beneath, and above his branch is lopped off" (or: withered). The severity of his oppression is not manifest till after his death.


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