Job 24:3
They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow's ox for a pledge.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) They drive away the ass.—The ass and the ox, the fatherless and the widow presumably having no more than one. He first describes the oppression of the country, and then that of the city (Job 24:12). We seem here to catch a glimpse of the sufferings of some oppressed and subject aboriginal race, such as the Canaanites may have been to the Jews, though there is probably no allusion to them. But, at all events, the writer and the speaker seem to have been familiar with some such abject and servile race, who haunted the desert and suffered at the hands of the more powerful tribes. Man’s inhumanity to man is, unhappily, a crime of very long standing.

Job 24:3-4. They drive away the ass of the fatherless — Whose helpless condition required their pity and mercy. He says, the ass, to aggravate their sin, in that they robbed him who had but one ass. They take the widow’s ox — Thereby depriving her, not only of the ox itself, but of all the benefit of its labours, by which her life was sustained; for a pledge — Contrary to God’s law, first written in men’s hearts, and afterward in the Holy Scriptures, Exodus 22:26. They turn the needy out of the way — Out of the way of piety and virtue. They engage them to take evil courses by their examples, or promises, or threatenings. Or, out of their right, of which they deprive them, by subtlety or power. Or, rather, as the word מדרךְ, middarech, more properly signifies, and as the next clause explains it, out of the highway, out of the path or place in which these oppressors walk and range. These needy persons labour to keep out of their way for fear of their further injuries and oppressions. The poor of the earth hide themselves, &c. — For fear of these wicked tyrants and persecutors.

24:1-12 Job discourses further about the prosperity of the wicked. That many live at ease who are ungodly and profane, he had showed, ch. xxi. Here he shows that many who live in open defiance of all the laws of justice, succeed in wicked practices; and we do not see them reckoned with in this world. He notices those that do wrong under pretence of law and authority; and robbers, those that do wrong by force. He says, God layeth not folly to them; that is, he does not at once send his judgments, nor make them examples, and so manifest their folly to all the world. But he that gets riches, and not by right, at his end shall be a fool, Jer 17:11.They drive away the ass of the fatherless - Of the orphan, who cannot protect himself, and whose only property may consist in this useful animal. Injury done to an orphan is always regarded as a crime of special magnitude, for they are unable to protect themselves; see the notes at Job 22:9.

They take the widow's ox for a pledge - See the notes at Job 22:6. The widow was dependent on her ox to till the ground, and hence, the crime of taking it away in pledge for the payment of a debt.

Job 24:3.He evil-entreateth the barren that beareth not,

And doeth not good to the widow.

3. pledge—alluding to Job 22:6. Others really do, and with impunity, that which Eliphaz falsely charges the afflicted Job with. The ass, either the asses, the singular number being used collectively. Or he saith the ass, to aggravate their sin, that they robbed him who had but one ass. Compare 1 Samuel 12:2-4.

The fatherless; whose helpless condition required their pity and mercy.

The widow’s ox; thereby depriving her not only of the ox itself, but of all the benefit of its labours, by which she sustained her life.

For a pledge; contrary to God’s law, first written in men’s hearts, and afterwards in Holy Scripture, Exodus 22:26,27 Deu 24:6,10, &c.

They drive away the ass of the fatherless,.... Who are left destitute of friends, and have none to take care of them, and provide for them; and who having one ass to carry their goods for them from place to place, or to ride upon, which though a creature of no great worth, yet of some usefulness, this they drove away from its pasture, or however from its right owner; and who having but one, it was the more cruel and inhuman to take it from him, see, 2 Samuel 12:3;

they take the widow's ox for a pledge; or oxen, the singular for the plural, with which her lands were ploughed, for a single ox could be but of little service: some render it "a cow" (h), by the milk of which she and her family were chiefly supported, as many poor country families are by the means of a good milch cow; and to take this, on which her livelihood depended, and retain for a pledge, was very barbarous; when the law concerning pledges took place among the Jews, in the times of Moses, which it seems was in being before with others, whatsoever was useful to persons, either to keep them warm, or by which they got their bread, were not to be taken, at least not detained for a pledge, see Exodus 22:26.

(h) "pro bove foemina, vacca", Bolducius.

They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow's ox for a pledge.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. By “the ass” and “the ox” is meant the single ass and ox which the fatherless and widow possess, needful for working their small field or affording them scanty nourishment. When deprived of these they are brought to complete destitution, and removed from the land.

Verse 3 - They drive away the ass of the fatherless. This was another form of oppression. "Whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed?" says Samuel, on laying down his judgeship (1 Samuel 12:3). The "fatherless" were particularly liable to such ill treatment, seeing that they had lost their natural protector. They take the widow's ox for a pledge. It may be true that this was nowhere a legal offence, not even among the Hebrews (Lee); but it was a real act of oppression, and forms a fitting counterpart to the injury done to the orphan. (On the natural tendency of selfish men to bear hard on these two classes, see Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 24:17; Deuteronomy 27:19; Psalm 94:6; Isaiah 1:23; Isaiah 10:2; Jeremiah 5:28; Zechariah 7:10.) Job 24:3 1 Wherefore are not bounds reserved by the Almighty,

And they who honour Him see not His days?

2 They remove the landmarks,

They steal flocks and shepherd them.

3 They carry away the ass of the orphan,

And distrain the ox of the widow.

4 They thrust the needy out of the way,

The poor of the land are obliged to slink away together.

The supposition that the text originally stood מדּוּע לרשׁעים משּׁדּי is natural; but it is at once destroyed by the fact that Job 24:1 becomes thereby disproportionately long, and yet cannot be divided into two lines of comparatively independent contents. In fact, לרשׁעים is by no means absolutely necessary. The usage of the language assumes it, according to which את followed by the genitive signifies the point of time at which any one's fate is decided. Isaiah 13:22; Jeremiah 27:7; Ezekiel 22:3; Ezekiel 30:3; the period when reckoning is made, or even the terminus ad quem, Ecclesiastes 9:12; and ywm followed by the gen. of a man, the day of his end, Job 15:32; Job 18:20; Ezekiel 21:30, and freq.; or with יהוה, the day when God's judgment is revealed, Joel 1:15, and freq. The boldness of poetic language goes beyond this usage, by using עתּים directly of the period of punishment, as is almost universally acknowledged since Schultens' day, and ימיו dna ,y of God's days of judgment or of vengeance;

(Note: On עתים, in the sense of times of retribution, Wetzstein compares the Arab. ‛idât, which signifies predetermined reward or punishment; moreover, עת is derived from עדת (from ועד), and עתּים is equivalent to עדתּים, according to the same law of assimilation, by which now-a-days they say לתּי instead of לדתּי (one who is born on the same day with me, from Arab. lidat, lida), and רתּי instead of רדתּי (my drinking-time), since the assimilation of the ד takes place everywhere where ת is pronounced. The ת of the feminine termination in עתים, as in שׁקתות and the like, perhaps also in בתים (bâttim), is amalgamated with the root.)

and it is the less ambiguous, since צפן, in the sense of the divine predetermination of what is future, Job 15:20, especially of God's storing up merited punishment, Job 21:19, is an acknowledged word of our poet. On מן with the passive, vid., Ew. 295, c (where, however, Job 28:4 is erroneously cited in its favour); it is never more than equivalent to ἀπό, for to use מן directly as ὑπό with the passive is admissible neither in Hebrew nor in Arabic. ידעו (Keri ידעיו, for which the Targ. unsuitably reads ידעי) are, as in Psalm 36:11; Psalm 87:4, comp. supra, Job 18:21, those who know God, not merely superficially, but from experience of His ways, consequently those who are in fellowship with Him. לא חזוּ is to be written with Zinnorith over the לא, and Mercha by the first syllable of חזו. The Zinnorith necessitates the retreat of the tone of חזו to its first syllable, as in כי־חרה, Psalm 18:8 (Br's Pslaterium, p. xiii.); for if חזו remained Milra, לא ought to be connected with it by Makkeph, and consequently remain toneless (Psalter, ii.507).

Next follows the description of the moral, abhorrence which, while the friends (Job 22:19) maintain a divine retribution everywhere manifest, is painfully conscious of the absence of any determination of the periods and days of judicial punishment. Fearlessly and unpunished, the oppression of the helpless and defenceless, though deserving of a curse, rages in every form. They remove the landmarks; comp. Deuteronomy 27:17, "Cursed is he who removeth his neighbour's landmark" (מסּיג, here once written with שׂ, while otherwise השּׂיג from נשׂג signifies assequi, on the other hand הסּיג from סוּג signifies dimovere). They steal flocks, ויּרעוּ, i.e., they are so barefaced, that after they have stolen them they pasture them openly. The ass of the orphans, the one that is their whole possession, and their only beast for labour, they carry away as prey (נהג, as e.g., Isaiah 20:4); they distrain, i.e., take away with them as a pledge (on חבל, to bind by a pledge, obstringere, and also to take as a pledge, vid., on Job 22:6, and Khler on Zechariah 11:7), the yoke-ox of the widow (this is the exact meaning of שׁור, as of the Arab. thôr). They turn the needy aside from the way which they are going, so that they are obliged to wander hither and thither without home or right: the poor of the land are obliged to hide themselves altogether. The Hiph. הטּה, with אביונים as its obj., is used as in Amos 5:12; there it is used of turning away from a right that belongs to them, here of turning out of the way into trackless regions. אביון (vid., on Job 29:16) here, as frequently, is the parallel word with ענו, the humble one, the patient sufferer; instead of which the Keri is עני, the humbled, bowed down with suffering (vid., on Psalm 9:13). ענוי־ארץ without any Keri in Psalm 76:10; Zephaniah 2:3, and might less suitably appear here, where it is not so much the moral attribute as the outward condition that is intended to be described. The Pual חכּאוּ describes that which they are forced to do.

The description of these unfortunate ones is now continued; and by a comparison with Job 30:1-8, it is probable that aborigines who are turned out of their original possessions and dwellings are intended (comp. Job 15:19, according to which the poet takes his stand in an age in which the original relations of the races had been already disturbed by the calamities of war and the incursions of aliens). If the central point of the narrative lies in Haurn, or, more exactly, in the Nukra, it is natural, with Wetzstein, to think of the Arab. 'hl 'l-wukr or ‛rb 'l-ḥujr, i.e., the (perhaps Ituraean) "races of the caves" in Trachonitis.

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