Job 24:5
Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey: the wilderness yieldeth food for them and for their children.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
Job 24:5. Behold, as wild asses — Which are lawless and fierce, and greedy of prey; in the desert — Which is the proper habitation of wild asses, Jeremiah 2:24 : they go forth to their work — These oppressors go forth to spoil and rob, which is their constant work and trade: rising betimes for the prey — Beginning their work of plunder before the poor go to their daily labour. The wilderness yieldeth food for them — They are so diligent and industrious in their wicked work, that they fetch food for themselves and families even out of desert places, in which the owners can with difficulty subsist.

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.Behold, as wild asses in the desert - In regard to the wild ass, see the notes at Job 6:5. Schultens, Good, Noyes, and Wemyss, understand this, not as referring to the haughty tyrants themselves, but to the oppressed and needy wretches whom they had driven from society, and compelled to seek a precarious subsistence, like the wild ass, in the desert. They suppose that the meaning is, that these outcasts go to their daily toil seeking roots and vegetables in the desert for a subsistence, like wild animals. But it seems to me that the reference is rather to another class of wicked people: to the wandering tribes that live by plunder - who roam through the deserts, and live an unrestrained and a lawless life, like wild animals. The wild ass is distinguished for its fleetness, and the comparison here turns principally on this fact. These marauders move rapidly from place to place, make their assault suddenly and unexpectedly, and, having plundered the traveler, or the caravan, as suddenly disappear. They have no home, cultivate no land, and keep no flocks. The only objection to this interpretation is, that the wild ass is not a beast of prey. But, in reply to this, it may be said, that the comparison does not depend on that, but on the fact that they resemble those animals in their lawless habits of life; see Job 11:12, note; Job 39:5, note.

Go they forth to their work - To their employment - to wit, plunder.

Rising betimes - Rising early. It is a custom of the Orientals everywhere to rise by break of day. In journeys, they usually rise long before day, and travel much in the night, and during the heat of the day they rest. As caravans often traveled early, plunderers would rise early, also, to meet them.

For a prey - For plunder - the business of their lives.

The wilderness - The desert, for so the word wilderness is used in the Scriptures; see Isaiah 35:1, note; Matthew 3:1, note.

Yieldeth food - To wit, by plunder. They obtain subsistence for themselves and their families by plundering the caravans of the desert. The idea of Job is, that they are seen by God, and yet that they are suffered to roam at large.

5. wild asses—(Job 11:12). So Ishmael is called a "wild ass-man"; Hebrew (Ge 16:12). These Bedouin robbers, with the unbridled wildness of the ass of the desert, go forth thither. Robbery is their lawless "work." The desert, which yields no food to other men, yields food for the robber and his children by the plunder of caravans.

rising betimes—In the East travelling is begun very early, before the heat comes on.

As wild asses; which are wild, and lawless, and unteachable, and fierce, and greedy of prey, or food, which they snatch out of the goods or labours of the husbandman; in all which they are fit emblems of these men. Or, these wild men; for so this word signifies, Genesis 16:12, as elsewhere wild asses. The particle as is not in the Hebrew. In the desert, which is the proper habitation of wild asses, Jeremiah 2:24. If this be understood of the wild men, he placeth them in the desert and wilderness, either because they by their spoils and violences have destroyed or driven away the people, as is intimated, Job 24:4, and thereby turned populous places into deserts; or because such places as have but few houses and inhabitants (which are oft so called, as Genesis 21:20,21 Jos 15:61,62 1 Kings 2:34 9:15 Isaiah 42:11 Matthew 3:1) are most fit for their robberies.

Go they; either,

1. The poor, whom they spoiled and drove away from their own former habitations into deserts, where they hid themselves, and wrought hard for a subsistence. Or rather,

2. The oppressors, who are more fitly compared to wild asses, and more truly said to seek for prey, than those poor oppressed persons mentioned Job 24:4, and of whom he speaks both in the foregoing and following verses.

To their work, i.e. to spoil and rob, which is their constant work and trade.

The wilderness yieldeth food for them; they are so diligent and industrious in that work, that they will fetch food for them and theirs even out of desert places, in which the owners can very hardly subsist.

For their children, or servants; for the word signifies both children and servants, even the whole family.

Behold, as wild asses in the desert,.... The word "as" is a supplement, and may be omitted, and the words be interpreted literally of wild asses, as they are by Sephorno, whose proper place is in the wilderness, to which they are used, and where their food is provided for them, and which they diligently seek for, for them and their young; and so the words may be descriptive of the place where the poor hide themselves, and of the company they are obliged to keep; but the Targum supplies the note of similitude as we do; and others (i) observe it to be wanting, and so it may respect wicked men before described, who may be compared to the wild asses of the wilderness for their folly and stupidity, man being born like a wild ass's colt, Job 11:12; and for their lust and wantonness, and for their rebellion against God and his laws, and their unteachableness. Perhaps some regard may be had to the wild Arabs that were in Job's neighbourhood, the descendants of Ishmael, called the wild man, as he is in Genesis 16:12; who lived by plunder and robbery, as these here:

they go forth to their work: of thieving and stealing, robbing and plundering, as their trade, and business, and occupation of life, and as naturally and constantly as men go to their lawful employment, and as if it was one:

rising betimes for a prey; getting up early in a morning to meet the industrious traveller on the road, and make a prey of him, rob him of what he has about him; for they cannot sleep unless they do mischief:

the wilderness yieldeth food for them, and for their children; though they are lurking in a wilderness where no sustenance is to be had, yet, by robbing everyone that passes by, they get enough for them and their families: though some understand all this of the poor, who are obliged to hide themselves from their oppressors, and go into the wilderness in droves like wild asses, and as timorous and as swift as they in fleeing; and are forced to hard service, and to rise early to earn their bread, and get sustenance for their families; and who in the main are obliged to live on berries and roots, and what a wild desert will afford; but the, word "prey" is not applicable to the pains and labours of such industrious people, wherefore the former sense is best; and besides, there seems to be one continued account of wicked men.

(i) Aben Ezra, Ben Gersom, Bar Tzemach.

Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; {d} rising betimes for a prey: the wilderness {e} yieldeth food for them and for their children.

(d) That is, spares diligence.

(e) He and his live by robbing and murdering.

5. The comparison to wild asses expresses their herding together, their flight far from the dwellings of men, and that they find their home and sustenance in the wilderness.

go forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey] Rather, they go forth to their work, seeking diligently for food. Their “work” is explained by “seeking for food.”

for them and for their children] Rather, food unto them for their children. The roots and herbage of the desert are the only nourishment they can find for their children; comp. ch. Job 30:3-4.

5–8. Job now directs his attention to a particular class of outcasts, giving a pathetic description of their flight from the abodes of men and their herding together like wild asses in the wilderness; their destitution, and the miseries they endure from cold and want, having only the rocks and caves to cover them, and only the roots and garbage of the desert to sustain them. The class of miserables here referred to are, no doubt, as Ewald first pointed out, the aboriginal races of the regions east of the Jordan, whose land and homes had been seized by more powerful tribes, and who had fled from the bitter oppressions to which they were subjected by their conquerors. Another detailed reference is made to them in ch. 30.

Verse 5. - Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work. Plundering bands of wicked marauders scour the desert, like troops of wild asses, going forth early to their work, and late taking rest - rising betimes for a prey, and generally finding it, since the wilderness yieldeth food for them and for their children. They are sure to find some plunder or other ere the day is over. Job 24:5 5 Behold, as wild asses in the desert,

They go forth in their work seeking for prey,

The steppe is food to them for the children.

6 In the field they reap the fodder for his cattle,

And they glean the vineyard of the evil-doer.

7 They pass the night in nakedness without a garment,

And have no covering in the cold.

8 They are wet with the torrents of rain upon the mountains,

And they hug the rocks for want of shelter.

The poet could only draw such a picture as this, after having himself seen the home of his hero, and the calamitous fate of such as were driven forth from their original abodes to live a vagrant, poverty-stricken gipsy life. By Job 24:5, one is reminded of Psalm 104:21-23, especially since in Job 24:11 of this Psalm the פּראים, onagri (Kulans), are mentioned, - those beautiful animals

(Note: Layard, New Discoveries, p. 270, describes these wild asses' colts. The Arabic name is like the Hebrew, el-ferâ, or also himâr el-wahsh, i.e., wild ass, as we have translated, whose home is on the steppe. For fuller particulars, vid., Wetzstein's note on Job 39:5.)

which, while young, as difficult to be broken in, and when grown up are difficult to be caught; which in their love of freedom are an image of the Beduin, Genesis 16:12; their untractableness an image of that which cannot be bound, Job 11:12; and from their roaming about in herds in waste regions, are here an image of a gregarious, vagrant, and freebooter kind of life. The old expositors, as also Rosenm., Umbr., Arnh., and Vaih., are mistaken in thinking that aliud hominum sceleratorum genus is described in Job 24:5. Ewald and Hirz. were the first to perceive that Job 24:5 is the further development of Job 24:4, and that here, as in Job 30:1, those who are driven back into the wastes and caves, and a remnant of the ejected and oppressed aborigines who drag out a miserable existence, are described.

The accentuation rightly connects פראים במדבר; by the omission of the Caph similit., as e.g., Isaiah 51:12, the comparison (like a wild ass) becomes an equalization (as a wild ass). The perf. יצאוּ is a general uncoloured expression of that which is usual: they go forth בפעלם, in their work (not: to their work, as the Psalmist, in Psalm 104:23, expresses himself, exchanging ב for ל). משׁחרי לטּרף, searching after prey, i.e., to satisfy their hunger (Psalm 104:21), from טרף, in the primary signification decerpere (vid., Hupfeld on Psalm 7:3), describes that which in general forms their daily occupation as they roam about; the constructivus is used here, without any proper genitive relation, as a form of connection, according to Ges. 116, 1. The idea of waylaying is not to be connected with the expression. Job describes those who are perishing in want and misery, not so much as those who themselves are guilty of evil practices, as those who have been brought down to poverty by the wrongdoing of others. As is implied in משׁחרי (comp. the morning Psalm 63:2; Isaiah 26:9), Job describes their going forth in the early morning; the children (נערים, as Job 1:19; Job 29:5) are those who first feel the pangs of hunger. לו refers individually to the father in the company: the steppe (with its scant supply of roots and herbs) is to him food for the children; he snatches it from it, it must furnish it for him. The idea is not: for himself and his family (Hirz., Hahn, and others); for v. 6, which has been much misunderstood, describes how they, particularly the adults, obtain their necessary subsistence. There is no MS authority for reading בּלי־לו instead of בּלילו; the translation "what is not to him" (lxx, Targ., and partially also the Syriac version) is therefore to be rejected. Raschi correctly interprets יבולו as a general explanation, and Ralbag תבואתו: it is, as in Job 6:5, mixed fodder for cattle, farrago, consisting of oats or barley sown among vetches and beans, that is intended. The meaning is not, however, as most expositors explain it, that they seek to satisfy their hunger with food for cattle grown in the fields of the rich evil-doer; for קצר does not signify to sweep together, but to reap in an orderly manner; and if they meant to steal, why did they not seize the better portion of the produce? It is correct to take the suff. as referring to the רשׁע which is mentioned in the next clause, but it is not to be understood that they plunder his fields per nefas; on the contrary, that he hires them to cut the fodder for his cattle, but does not like to entrust the reaping of the better kinds of corn to them. It is impracticable to press the Hiph. יקצירו of the Chethib to favour this rendering; on the contrary, הקציר stands to קצר in like (not causative) signification as הנחה to נחה (vid., on Job 31:18). In like manner, Job 24:6 is to be understood of hired labour. The rich man prudently hesitates to employ these poor people as vintagers; but he makes use of their labour (whilst his own men are fully employed at the wine-vats) to gather the straggling grapes which ripen late, and were therefore left at the vintage season. the older expositors are reminded of לקשׁ, late hay, and explain ילקּשׁוּ as denom. by יכרתו לקשׁו (Aben-Ezra, Immanuel, and others) or יאכלו לקשׁו (Parchon); but how unnatural to think of the second mowing, or even of eating the after-growth of grass, where the vineyard is the subject referred to! On the contrary, לקּשׁ signifies, as it were, serotinare, i.e., serotinos fructus colligere (Rosenm.):

(Note: In the idiom of Hauran, לקשׂ, fut. i, signifies to be late, to come late; in Piel, to delay, e.g., the evening meal, return, etc.; in Hithpa. telaqqas, to arrive too late. Hence laqı̂s לקישׂ and loqsı̂ לקשׂי, delayed, of any matter, e.g., לקישׁ and זרע לקשׂי, late seed ( equals לקשׁ, Amos 7:1, in connection with which the late rain in April, which often fails, is reckoned on), ולד לקשׂי, a child born late (i.e., in old age); bakı̂r בכיר and bekrı̂ בכרי are the opposites in every signification. - Wetzst.)


Job 24:5 Interlinear
Job 24:5 Parallel Texts

Job 24:5 NIV
Job 24:5 NLT
Job 24:5 ESV
Job 24:5 NASB
Job 24:5 KJV

Job 24:5 Bible Apps
Job 24:5 Parallel
Job 24:5 Biblia Paralela
Job 24:5 Chinese Bible
Job 24:5 French Bible
Job 24:5 German Bible

Bible Hub

Job 24:4
Top of Page
Top of Page