Job 24:9
They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor.
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Job 24:9-10. They — The wicked oppressors; pluck the fatherless from the breast — Either out of cruelty, not sparing poor infants, or out of covetousness, not allowing the mother time for the suckling of her infant. They take away the sheaf from the hungry — That single sheaf, which the poor man had got with the sweat of his brow, to satisfy his hunger.

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 pluck the fatherless from the breast - That is, they steal away unprotected children, and sell them, or make slaves of them for their own use. If this is the correct interpretation, then there existed at that time, what has existed since, so much to the disgrace of mankind, the custom of kidnapping children, and bearing them away to be sold as slaves. Slavery existed in early ages; and it must have been in some such way that slaves were procured. The wonder of Job is, that such people were permitted to live - that God did not come forth and punish them. The fact still exists, and the ground of wonder is not diminished. Africa bleeds under wrongs of this kind; and the vengeance of heaven seems to sleep, though the child is torn away from its mother, and conveyed, amid many horrors, to a distant land, to wear out life in hopeless servitude.

And take a pledge of the poor - Take that, therefore, which is necessary for the comfort of the poor, and retain it, so that they cannot enjoy its use; see the notes at Job 22:6.

9. from the breast—of the widowed mother. Kidnapping children for slaves. Here Job passes from wrongs in the desert to those done among the habitations of men.

pledge—namely, the garment of the poor debtor, as Job 24:10 shows.

They; the wicked oppressors, as is manifest from the following words.

From the breast; either out of cruelty, not sparing poor infants, but killing them; or out of covetousness, and with design either to sell the mother, or to employ her in their work, to which they so strictly confine her, that they will not allow any of her time or strength for the suckling of her infant.

Take a pledge of the poor; of which See Poole "Job 22:6".

They pluck the fatherless from the breast,.... Either on purpose to starve it, which must be extremely barbarous; or to sell it to be brought up a slave; or by obliging the mother to wean it before the due time, that she might be the better able to do work for them they obliged her to. Mr. Broughton renders the words, "of mischievousness they rob the fatherless"; that is, through the greatness of the mischief they do, as Ben Gersom interprets it; or through the exceeding mischievous disposition they are of; of which this is a flagrant instance; or

"they rob the fatherless of what remains for him after spoiling (n),''

or devastation, through the plunder of his father's substance now dead, which was exceeding cruel:

and take a pledge of the poor; either the poor himself, or his poor fatherless children, see 2 Kings 4:1; or what is "upon the poor" (o), as it may be rendered; that is, his raiment, which was commonly taken for a pledge; and, by a law afterwards established in Israel, was obliged to be restored before sunset, that he might have a covering to sleep in, Exodus 22:26; See Gill on Job 22:6.

(n) "per devastationem", some in Munster; "post vastationem", Tigurine version; so Nachmanides & Bar Tzemach. (o) "super inopem", Cocceius, Schultens; so Ben Gersom.

They pluck the fatherless {i} from the breast, and take a pledge of {k} the poor.

(i) That is, they so pillage and plunder the poor widow that she cannot sustain herself that she may be able to nurse her baby.

9. They pluck] Or, there are who pluck. The reference is to the ruling class who, for some debt perhaps of the dependent, seize the infant of the debtor, in order by selling it or bringing it up as a slave to repay themselves.

take a pledge of the poor] The words might mean “take in pledge that which is on the poor,” i. e. their scanty clothing. Others refer the words to the preceding inhuman act of plucking the child from the breast and render: “and take this pledge of the poor” (Ew.).

9–12. These verses describe the miseries of another class, those who have allowed themselves to be subjected, and become serfs and bondmen attached to the estates of the rich. Probably they are but a portion of the same aboriginal tribes mentioned in Job 24:5-7.

Verse 9. - They pluck the fatherless from the breast. Other oppressors, not of the marauding class, but dwellers in towns (ver. 12), are so cruel that they tear the unweaned child of the debtor from the mother's breast, as satisfaction for a debt, and carry him off into slavery (comp. 2 Kings 4:1; Nehemiah 5:5). And take a pledge of the poor; literally, take in pledge that which is on the poor - in other words, their clothing. They will not lend to them on any other terms, and so force them to part with their garments, and go about naked. Even Hebrew creditors seem to have done this (Exodus 22:26; Deuteronomy 24:12, 13); and the Mosaic Law did not forbid the practice, but only required the creditor to let the debtor have his garment at night, that he might sleep in it (Exodus 22:27; Deuteronomy 24:13). Job 24:9 9 They tear the fatherless from the breast,

And defraud the poor.

10 Naked, they slink away without clothes,

And hungering they bear the sheaves.

11 Between their walls they squeeze out the oil;

They tread the wine-presses, and suffer thirst.

12 In the city vassals groan, And the soul of the oppressed crieth out -

And Eloah heedeth not the anomaly.

The accentuation of Job 24:9 (יגזלו with Dech, משׁד with Munach) makes the relation of שׁד יתום genitival. Heidenheim (in a MS annotation to Kimchi's Lex.) accordingly badly interprets: they plunder from the spoil of the orphan; Ramban better: from the ruin, i.e., the shattered patrimony; both appeal to the Targum, which translates מביזת יתום, like the Syriac version, men bezto de-jatme (comp. Jerome: vim fecerunt depraedantes pupillos). The original reading, however, is perhaps (vid., Buxtorf, Lex. col. 295) מבּיזא, ἀπὸ βυζίου, from the mother's breast, as it is also, the lxx (ἀπὸ μαστοῦ), to be translated contrary to the accentuation. Inhuman creditors take the fatherless and still tender orphan away from its mother, in order to bring it up as a slave, and so to obtain payment. If this is the meaning of the passage, it is natural to understand יחבּלוּ, Job 24:9, of distraining; but (1) the poet would then repeat himself tautologically, vid., Job 24:3, where the same thing is far more evidently said; (2) חבל, to distrain, would be construed with על, contrary to the logic of the word. Certainly the phrase חבל על may be in some degree explained by the interpretation, "to impose a fine" (Ew., Hahn), or "to distrain" (Hirz., Welte), or "to oppress with fines" (Schlottm.); but violence is thus done to the usage of the language, which is better satisfied by the explanation of Ralbag (among modern expositors, Ges., Arnh., Vaih., Stick., Hlgst.): and what the unfortunate one possesses they seize; but this על equals אשׁר על directly as object is impossible. The passage, Deuteronomy 7:25, cited by Schultens in its favour, is of a totally different kind.

But throughout the Semitic dialects the verb חבל also signifies "to destroy, to treat injuriously" (e.g., Arab. el-châbil, a by-name of Satan); it occurs in this signification in Job 34:31, and according to the analogy of הרע על, 1 Kings 17:20, can be construed with על as well as with ל. The poet, therefore, by this construction will have intended to distinguish the one חבל from the other, Job 22:6; Job 24:3; and it is with Umbreit to be translated: they bring destruction upon the poor; or better: they take undue advantage of those who otherwise are placed in trying circumstances.

The subjects of Job 24:10 are these עניים, who are made serfs, and become objects of merciless oppression, and the poet here in Job 24:10 indeed repeats what he has already said almost word for word in Job 24:7 (comp. Job 31:19); but there the nakedness was the general calamity of a race oppressed by subjugation, here it is the consequence of the sin of merces retenta laborum, which cries aloud to heaven, practised on those of their own race: they slink away (הלּך, as Job 30:28) naked (nude), without (בּלי equals מבּלי, as perhaps sine equals absque) clothing, and while suffering hunger they carry the sheaves (since their masters deny them what, according to Deuteronomy 25:4, shall not be withheld even from the beasts). Between their walls (שׁוּרת like שׁרות, Jeremiah 5:10, Chaldee שׁוּריּא), i.e., the walls of their masters who have made them slaves, therefore under strict oversight, they press out the oil (יצהירוּ, ἅπ. γεγρ.), they tread the wine-vats (יקבים, lacus), and suffer thirst withal (fut. consec. according to Ew. 342, a), without being allowed to quench their thirst from the must which runs out of the presses (נּתּות, torcularia, from which the verb דּרך is here transferred to the vats). Bttch. translates: between their rows of trees, without being able to reach out right or left; but that is least of all suitable with the olives. Carey correctly explains: "the factories or the garden enclosures of these cruel slaveholders." This reference of the word to the wall of the enclosure is more suitable than to walls of the press-house in particular. From tyrannical oppression in the country,

(Note: Brentius here remarks: Quantum igitur judicium in eos futurum est, qui in homines ejusdem carnis, ejusdem patriae, ejusdem fidei, ejusdem Christi committunt quod nec in bruta animalia committendum est, quod malum in Germania frequentissimum est. Vae igitur Germaniae!)

Job now passes over to the abominations of discord and was in the cities.

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