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). 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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