They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Job 24:24. They are exalted for a little while — They live in honour and prosperity, but not for ever; it is only, at the most, during this short and mortal life, which lasts but for a very little time; and, therefore, their present happiness is not to be envied; nor is it any reproach to God’s providence, which has time enough to reckon with them hereafter; but are gone — Hebrew, איננו, einennu, are not; namely, in this world, they die. And are brought low — As low as their graves. They are taken out of the way — Out of this world; as all other — They can no more prevent, or delay their death, than the meanest men in the world: and cut off — By the sickle of death, perhaps by the hand of violence; as the tops of the ears of corn — When in its greatest height and maturity; when they are arrived at their perfect stature of worldly power and glory, then God cuts them off, and that suddenly and unexpectedly.
But are gone and brought low - Margin, "not." Hebrew ואיננו ve'ayı̂nenû - "and are not;" compare Genesis 42:13. "The youngest is this day with our father, and one is not;" Genesis 37:30. "The child is not, and I, whither shall I go?" That is, the child is dead; compare the expression Troja fuit. The meaning here is, that they soon disappear, or vanish.
They are taken out of the way as all other - They die in the same manner as other people do, and without any extraordinary expressions of the divine displeasure in their death. This was directly contrary to what his friends had maintained. The Hebrew word here (קפץ qâphats) means, "to gather", "to collect"; and is often used in the sense of "gathering to one's fathers," to denote death.
And cut off as the tops of the ears of corn - Of wheat, barley, or similar grain. Corn, in the sense in which the word is commonly used in this country, was not known in the time of Job. The allusion here is to the harvest. When the grain was ripe, it seems they were in the habit of cutting off the ears, and not of cutting it near the root, as we do. The body of the stalk was left, and, hence, there is so frequent allusion in the Scriptures to stubble that was burned. So, in Egypt, the children of Israel were directed to obtain the stubble left in the fields, in making brick, instead of having straw furnished them. The meaning of Job here is, that they would not be taken away by a violent death, or before their time, but that they would be like grain standing in the field to the time of harvest, and then peacefully gathered; compare Psalm 73:4.
ears of corn—in a ripe and full age, not prematurely (Job 5:26).
Are gone, Heb. are not, to wit, in this world; they die.
Brought low; as low as their graves. Or, after (as the particle vau is elsewhere used, as hath been observed before) they have been brought low, to wit, by pining sickness, or other grievous judgments.
Out of the way, i.e. out of this world and way of living, by death. Or, are restrained, or shut up, to wit in the grave, the place of silence and impotency.
As all other; they can no more prevent or delay their death than the meanest men in the world. Cut off by death’s sickle, or by a violent hand.
As the tops of the ears of corn, to wit, in his greatest height and maturity, when he is arrived at his perfect stature of worldly power and glory, then God cuts him off, and that suddenly and violently. Malachi 3:15; though this exaltation, dignity, and glory, wealth and riches, last but for a little time, this life at longest being but short, like a vapour that appears, and soon vanishes away; and then all a man's honours and glory, riches and substance, are at an end, who is soon cut down as the grass, and withers as the green herb, Psalm 37:2; but as this pretty much falls in with the sentiment of Zophar, or seems to do so, Job 20:5; rather this phrase, "for a little while", may be joined with what follows, "a little while, and they are gone";
but are gone; out of the world, to their own place, and death puts an end to all their prosperity, to all their outward enjoyments, which yet they retain till death: or "they are not" (i); in the land of the living, in their houses and shops, and places of trade and commerce; they are no more about their business, and in their callings of life, nor in the possession of their worldly estates; the places which knew them know them no more; and this comes to pass in a very little time; their honour is short lived, and their earthly portion is not forever:
and brought low; not diminished in their substance in life, nor lessened in their honour and grandeur, nor are brought into poverty and disgrace; but are brought at last to death, and laid low in the grave, and are fed upon by worms, and reduced to rottenness and dust:
they are taken out of the way, as all others; out of the world, by death, and out of the way of others; who come in their room, and were hoping for their death, and waiting for their posts of honour, and places of profit, or for their worldly estates; and out of the way of doing more mischief, and especially to good men; or they are "closed" or "shut up" (k); that is, in the grave, where they lie imprisoned until the resurrection morn, and out of which prison none can release themselves; nor will they be released, until Christ, who has the keys of the grave, unlocks it, and sets the prisoners free; but then all this is no other than what befalls the rest of mankind; all die, and must die, and all are brought to the grave, and laid in that, and shut up in it, which is the house appointed for all living:
and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn; when they are fully ripe at harvest time; it being usual in some places, as I have somewhere read, when they gather their corn, only to cut off the ears of corn at the top, which is very easily and quickly done; and so this may denote the quiet and easy death of wicked men, and when they are come to a full age, and are like a shock of corn in its season, Job 5:26.They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)24. To be translated as above. The wicked are exalted, rise high in life, and suddenly, with no pain, they die; comp. ch. Job 21:13, Psalm 73:4. And when they are brought low at last in death, it is a natural death that overtakes them, like that of all others,—men in general; and they are cut off (or, wither) like the tops of the ears of corn, not prematurely, but having attained to full ripeness; comp. Job 5:26.Verse 24. - They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; rather, they are exalted: after a little while they are gone they are brought low. Job has to admit that death comes upon wicked men at last; but he minimizes the terrors of their death, and exaggerates its alleviations. First, it comes on them when they have risen to eminence, have gained themselves a reputation, and "are exalted." Next, it is sudden and painless, preceded by no long, lingering illness, but just a sinking into non-existence; a tranquil passing away. Thirdly, it is at a ripe age, when they have reached the full term of human life, and are as ears of corn ripe for the harvest. Further, it is the common fate: They are taken out of the way as all other (comp. Job 9:22; Job 21:13), and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn. We may gather from this expression that the reaping in the land of Uz was conducted in Job's time much in the same way as it was in Egypt under the early Pharaohs, viz. by cutting the stalk with a sharp sickle almost immediately below the ear, and collecting the ears in baskets (see the author's 'Hist. of Ancient Egypt,' vol. 1. p. 162; and his 'Herodotus,' vol. 2. p. 59, 3rd edit.).
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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