Job 24:21
He evil entreats the barren that bears not: and does not good to the widow.
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Job 24:21. He evil-entreateth the barren — Job here returns to the declaration of his further acts of wickedness, the causes of these judgments; that heareth not — Barrenness was esteemed a curse and reproach; and so it is mentioned as an instance of this man’s wickedness, that he added affliction to the afflicted, whom he should have pitied and helped; but because the barren had no children, and the widows no husbands to defend or avenge their cause, he exercised cruelty upon them.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.He evil entreateth the barren - The woman who has no children to comfort or support her. He increases her calamity by acts of cruelty and oppression. To be without children, as is well known, was regarded, in the patriarchal ages, as a great calamity.

And doeth not good to the widow - See the notes at Job 24:3. Notwithstanding all this, he is permitted to live in prosperity, and to die without any visible tokens of the divine displeasure.

Job 24:21.Job's own conduct was an illustration of the elevated and pure views of ancient piety:

When the ear heard me, then it blessed me;

And when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me;


21. The reason given by the friends why the sinner deserves such a fate.

barren—without sons, who might have protected her.

widow—without a husband to support her.

He; either,

1. God, who is oft understood, who having cut off his person, and brought him to his grave, continues his judgments upon his wife or widow, and family. Or rather,

2. The oppressor, who is the principal subject of almost all that is said in this chapter; whose great and manifold wickedness Job described from Job 24:2-18, where he proceeds to relate the judgments of God upon him for his sins; which having done, Job 24:18-20, he here returns to the declaration of his further wickednesses, the cause of these judgments.

Evil entreateth; or feedeth upon, or devoureth, or breaketh in pieces; for all these the word signifieth, and all come to one and the same thing.

The barren that beareth not: barrenness was esteemed a curse and reproach; and so he added affliction to the afflicted, whom he should have pitied and helped; but because such had no children, and the widows no husbands, to defend or avenge their cause, he exercised cruelty upon them.

Doeth not good: either,

1. He did her much wrong and harm, it being usual in Scripture under such negative expressions to contain the affirmation of the contrary; as Exodus 20:7 Proverbs 17:21 28:21. And so this branch answers to the former, of evil entreating. Or,

2. He afforded her no help, or advice, or comfort in her distresses; and so he intimateth the greatness of omission sins, and that the common neglect or contempt of plain and positive duties, whether of piety to God, or of charity to men, is to be reckoned among high and heinous crimes. He evil entreateth the barren, that beareth not,.... Here Job returns, to give some further account of the sins of some wicked men, who prosper in this world, and go through it with impunity; and speaks of such that use their wives ill because they are barren, upbraid them with it, and are churlish to them on account of it; or use them ill that they may be barren, and bear no children, having no pleasure in them, as not in vineyards, before, Job 24:18; and some interpret this of deflowering virgins, who never bore children, and of using methods to make them abortive, when with child; the word we translate "evil entreateth" sometimes signifies joining to, or being a companion of others, as in Proverbs 13:20; hence various senses are given; some, he joins himself to a barren woman, that he may have no children, being not desirous of any; others, he, joins himself to, and is a companion of harlots, who are commonly barren: and like the prodigal, spends his substance among them. Some interpreters take this verse and Job 24:22; as expressive of the punishment of wicked men: so Mr. Broughton renders the words, "he adjoineth the barren" (d), and gives the sense of them thus; God sends after him a barren wife, that he shall have no help by children; but, though a numerous offspring has been reckoned an outward happiness, and not to have any an infelicity, yet it has been the case of many good men and women to be childless; wherefore love and hatred are not known hereby: besides, such a sense is contrary to the scope and design of Job, which is to prove that wicked men often go unpunished in this life; wherefore, rather the meaning is, that a wicked man uses ill such, who having not only lost their husbands, but having been barren, and so childless, have none to take their part, and to protect and defend them from the abuses of such men; the Targum renders the word, "he breaketh", and so some understand it (e); he breaketh the barren, tears them to pieces, ruins and destroys them, as to their outward substance, because they have no children to help them; with which agrees what follows,

and doth not good to the widow; does not make her glad and cheerful, as Job did, who made the widow's heart to sing for joy, Job 29:13; does not relieve and assist her when in distress, either by counsel and advice, or by administering to her necessities; but, on the contrary, afflicts and oppresses her; takes her ox, or her raiment, for a pledge, and plunders her house, and devours the substance of it; for more is intended than is expressed.

(d) "consociat ei sterilem", Junius & Tremellius. (e) Pagninus, Montanus, Bolducius, Piscator, Mercerus, Drusius.

He {x} evil entreateth the barren that beareth not: and doeth not good to the widow.

(x) He shows why the wicked will not be lamented, because he did not pity others.

21. This verse is closely connected with the last clause of the preceding.

And wickedness shall be broken like a tree—

Even he that devoureth the barren that beareth not,

And doeth not good unto the widow.

The “tree” is a frequent object of comparison, e.g. ch. Job 19:10, “removed or plucked up like a tree,” here “broken” like a tree. The “barren that beareth not” is she that is lonely, having no sons to uphold her right, Psalm 127:3, cf. Isaiah 51:18. Pleading for, or upholding the cause of the widow is often enjoined, as in Isaiah 1:17, and the Lord Himself is said to be her “judge,” Psalm 68:5.

The broad and somewhat exaggerated colours of the preceding picture (Job 24:18-21) indicate that it is either actually in part the work of a popular hand, or that it is a parody after the popular manner by Job himself.Verse 21. - He evil entreateth the barren that beareth not. Oppressors of another class are perhaps here spoken of, or perhaps there is a mere return to the idea with which Job's enumeration opened (ver. 3), which was the oppression of the weaker and more defenceless classes. As barrenness in women was considered the greatest possible misfortune (1 Samuel 1:5-8; 1 Samuel 3:1-10), so oppressing one that was barren indicated extreme cruelty. And doeth not good to the widow; i.e. neglects to vindicate her cause - an admitted part of man's duty (see Job 22:9; Job 29:13; Job 31:16). 13 Others are those that rebel against the light,

They will know nothing of its ways,

And abide not in its paths.

14 The murderer riseth up at dawn,

He slayeth the sufferer and the poor,

And in the night he acteth like a thief.

15 And the eye of the adulterer watcheth for the twilight;

He thinks: "no eye shall recognise me,"

And he putteth a veil before his face.

With המּה begins a new turn in the description of the moral confusion which has escaped God's observation; it is to be translated neither as retrospective, "since they" (Ewald), nor as distinctive, "they even" (Bttch.), i.e., the powerful in distinction from the oppressed, but "those" (for המה corresponds to our use of "those," אלּה to "these"), by which Job passes on to another class of evil-disposed and wicked men. Their general characteristic is, that they shun the light. Those who are described in Job 24:14 are described according to their general characteristic in Job 24:13; accordingly it is not to be interpreted: those belong to the enemies of the light, but: those are, according to their very nature, enemies of the light. The Beth is the so-called Beth essent.; היוּ (comp. Proverbs 3:26) affirms what they are become by their own inclination, or as what they are fashioned, viz., as ἀποστάται φωτός (Symm.); מרד (on the root מר, vid., on Job 23:2) signifies properly to push one's self against anything, to lean upon, to rebel; מרד therefore signifies one who strives against another, one who is obstinate (like the Arabic mârid, merı̂d, comp. mumâri, not conformable to the will of another). The improvement מרדי אור (not with Makkeph, but with Mahpach of mercha mahpach. placed between the two words, vid., Br's Psalterium, p. x.) assumes the possibility of the construction with the acc., which occurs at least once, Joshua 22:19. They are hostile to the light, they have no familiarity with its ways (הכּיר, as Joshua 22:17, Psalm 142:5; Ruth 2:19, to take knowledge of anything, to interest one's self in its favour), and do not dwell (ישׁבוּ, Jer. reversi sunt, according to the false reading ישׁבוּ) in its paths, i.e., they neither make nor feel themselves at home there, they have no peace therein. The light is the light of day, which, however, stands in deeper, closer relation to the higher light, for the vicious man hateth τὸ φῶς, John 3:20, in every sense; and the works which are concealed in the darkness of the night are also ἔργα τοῦ σκότους, Romans 13:12 (comp. Isaiah 29:15), in the sense in which light and darkness are two opposite principles of the spiritual world. It need not seem strange that the more minute description of the conduct of these enemies of the light now begins with לאור. It is impossible that this should mean: still in the darkness of the night (Stick.), prop. towards the light, when it is not yet light. Moreover, in biblical Hebrew, אור does not signify evening, in which sense it occurs in Talmudic Hebrew (Pesachim 1a, Seder olam rabba, c. 5, אור שׁביעי, vespera septima), like אורתּא ( equals נשׁף) in Talmudic Aramaic. The meaning, on the contrary, is that towards daybreak (comp. הבקר אור, Genesis 44:3), therefore with early morning, the murderer rises up, to go about his work, which veils itself in darkness (Psalm 10:8-10) by day, viz., to slay (comp. on יקטל...יקוּם, Ges. 142, 3, c) the unfortunate and the poor, who pass by defenceless and alone. One has to supply the idea of the ambush in which the waylayer lies in wait; and it is certainly inconvenient that it is not expressed.

The antithesis וּבלּילה, Job 24:14, shows that nothing but primo mane is meant by לאור. He who in the day-time goes forth to murder and plunder, at night commits petty thefts, where no one whom he could attack passes by. Stickel translates: to slay the poor and wretched, and in the night to play the thief; but then the subjunctivus ויהי ought to precede (vid., e.g., Job 13:5), and in general it cannot be proved without straining it, that the voluntative form of the future everywhere has a modal signification. Moreover, here יהי does not differ from Job 18:12; Job 20:23, but is only a poetic shorter form for יהיה: in the night he is like a thief, i.e., plays the part of the thief. And the adulterer's eye observes the darkness of evening (vid., Proverbs 7:9), i.e., watches closely for its coming on (שׁמר, in the usual signification observare, to be on the watch, to take care, observe anxiously), since he hopes to render himself invisible; and that he may not be recognised even if seen, he puts on a mask. סתר פּנים is something by which his countenance is rendered unrecognisable (lxx ἀποκρυβὴ προσώπου), like the Arab. sitr, sitâreh, a curtain, veil, therefore a veil for the face, or, as we say in one word borrowed from the Arabic mascharat, a farce (masquerade): the mask, but not in the proper sense.

(Note: The mask was perhaps never known in Palestine and Syria; סתר פנים is the mendı̂l or women's veil, which in the present day (in Hauran exclusively) is called sitr, and is worn over the face by all married women in the towns, while in the country it is worn hanging down the back, and is only drawn over the face in the presence of a stranger. If this explanation is correct the poet means to say that the adulterer, in order to remain undiscovered, wears women's clothes comp. Deuteronomy 22:5; and, in fact, in the Syrian towns (the figure is taken from town-life) women's clothing is always chosen for that kind of forbidden nocturnal undertaking, i.e., the man disguises himself in an ı̂zâr, which covers him from head to foot, takes the mendı̂l, and goes with a lantern (without which at night every person is seized by the street watchman as a suspicious person) unhindered into a strange house. - Wetzst.)

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