Job 24:1-25

Submitted by admin on Sat, 2015-02-21 13:22.

Posted in | printer-friendly version »

Job raised the question about why the Almighty had not “stored up times” — times for godless ones to be punished for their wrongdoing. It troubled him that those who knew God or who had a relationship with him as his worshipers did not “see his days.” These would be the days for corrupt individuals to experience punitive judgment. According to the Septuagint, Job’s question was, “But why did hours escape notice by the Lord,” or why did the time during which he could have taken action against godless ones “escape” his notice? (24:1)

From this point onward, Job is quoted as describing the evil practices of corrupt individuals and the misery they brought upon others. To steal land, they moved “borders” or “boundary markers.” Through acts of violence or oppression, they seized the flock of others and then pastured the animals as their own. In the Septuagint, the words of this verse continue as part of the question from the previous verse. Job is quoted as asking why the “impious ones” overstepped the “border,” seizing “a flock with a shepherd.” The implication of the question appears to be that they had succeeded with their evil deed without being punished for it. (24:2)

Merciless oppressors “drove away” or took the donkey (“beast of burden” [LXX]) of fatherless children or orphans, depriving them of a valuable animal they needed for transport, burden bearing, and agricultural labor. For a pledge, these evil men seized a widow’s bovine — an animal that was used for the essential work of threshing and plowing. (24:3)

The poor had to be on guard against corrupt men, staying out of their way. This is because these men would force the poor “from the road.” In the Septuagint, the thought is expressed concerning the pernicious effect of corrupt individuals on the lowly ones. “They turned the powerless from the righteous way” or from the right course of conduct. The “needy ones of the land” had to hide themselves from corrupt men to protect themselves from their violent or oppressive actions. (24:4; see the Notes section.)

The obscure Hebrew text appears to represent the needy as going forth to labor in the wilderness to procure food for their children as do onagers in the desert. Translators vary in their interpretive renderings. “Like wild asses in the desert, these go forth to their task of seeking food; the steppe provides food for the young among them.” (NAB) “The poor rise early like the wild ass, when it scours the wilderness for food; but though they work till nightfall, their children go hungry.” (REB) “Like wild desert donkeys, they go out to work, searching from dawn for food, and at evening for something on which to feed their children.” (NJB) “The poor are trampled and forced to hide in the desert, where they and their children must live like wild donkeys and search for food.” (CEV) (24:5; see the Notes section.)

“In the field,” the needy reaped fodder for the godless one and gleaned the “vineyard of an evil man.” According to the Septuagint, “they harvested a field” not theirs “before [its] hour” or season, and the “powerless” labored in “vineyards of the impious without pay and without food.” Job’s expressions indicate that corrupt men, besides escaping punishment for their wrongdoing, often had power on their side, whereas lowly and godly individuals suffered. (24:6)

The oppressed poor “lie naked without clothing, and they have no covering in the cold.” In this case, the expression “naked without clothing” may be understood to mean scantily clad and lacking an outer garment with which to cover themselves when lying down to sleep at night. The Septuagint represents the harsh oppressors as letting “many” lie down to sleep “naked without garments” (plural of himátion, a Greek word that can designate an “outer garment.”) The reason that many had to sleep without a garment to cover them was that the oppressors took away the “covering for their soul” or their person, probably taking the outer garment as a pledge for the repayment of a loan. (24:7)

Without protection from the elements, the oppressed poor became drenched with the “rain of the mountains,” the downpours that occur on the side of the mountain slopes nearest to the direction from which the storm clouds roll in. Lacking shelter, the needy would “cling to the rock,” possibly trying to find cover under a rocky overhang, in a crevice, or in a cave. (24:8; see the Notes section.)

Ruthless oppressors “snatched a fatherless child from the breast.” They would seize the young child of a widow, possibly for the repayment of a loan, and reduce the youngster to perpetual slavery. From the poor, they took a pledge as security for a loan. This pledge would have been something essential — an outer garment, a hand mill, or the upper grindstone of a hand mill. The Septuagint does not mention the taking of a pledge. It refers to the oppressors as humiliating “one who had fallen,” which could apply to a person who had experienced calamities, a refugee, or an outcast. (24:9)

“Naked,” the needy went about “without clothing,” probably meaning insufficiently clad. Though themselves hungry, they carried the “sheaf,” apparently what they had harvested for an oppressor. The Septuagint says that “they [ruthless oppressors] let the naked sleep in an unjust manner.” This suggests that the oppressors dealt unjustly with the poor, probably taking outer garments as security for the repayment of loans and thus forcing the needy to sleep without being able to cover themselves. (24:10)

In this context, the Hebrew word shúrah has been understood as applying to a row or to a supporting wall for terraces. This is reflected in the renderings of modern translations. “They press the oil in the shade where two walls meet.” (REB) “They crush olives among the terraces.” (NIV) “Between the rows they press out the oil.” (NAB) “Between rows [of olive trees] they make oil.” Thus the lowly or powerless people labored for oppressors but received no benefit from their work. They also trod the winepress but remained thirsty, not being able to drink of the product of their labor. (24:11; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

On account of attacks, those about to die groan, and the “soul of the wounded” (the wounded themselves) cry for help. “God pays no attention.” In the Masoretic Text, the verse ends with the word tiphláh, meaning “unseemliness.” This suggests that Job represented God as not being concerned about the outcries of those who suffered or as not considering his disregard for their outcries as improper. The consonants of the word tiphláh are the same for the noun “prayer,” which is the rendering of the Syriac. Accordingly, Job could be understood as saying that God did not listen to the prayer of those crying out to him for aid. (24:12)

The rendering of the Septuagint departs from the reading of the extant Hebrew text. It indicates that the lowly or powerless ones were cast out from cities and their own houses, and the “soul of the infants,” or the young children themselves, groaned greatly. Then, with apparent reference to God, Job raised the question, “But why has he not acted to visit them?” Such a visitation would have meant granting the afflicted his favorable attention and ending their suffering. (24:12)

Persons designated as “rebelling against light” acted contrary to what light represents — the things that are good, right, noble, or just, and which can be practiced openly for all to see. They are the things that are not concealed like the deeds that are carried out under the cover of darkness. Rebels against light did not recognize “its ways,” refusing to follow the course of conduct that light manifests as upright, for upright conduct does not have to be hidden from view. They did not “stay” in the paths of light or the paths that light reveals to be right and good. (24:13; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

At the time there is light or daylight, the murderer may kill poor and needy or afflicted ones. During the night, under the cover of darkness, he may steal. (24:14; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

The adulterer responds to the sensual arousal to which his seeing the married woman has on him. Therefore, the “eye of the adulterer” is poetically represented as the agent that acts, waiting “for the twilight” or dusk and saying to itself that an “eye will not see me.” Under the cover of darkness, no one would see the adulterous act. The reference to making a “covering of the face” could indicated that, besides taking advantage of the cover of darkness, the adulterer also conceals his face to make sure that he is not recognized by anyone. (24:15; see the Notes section.)

Job described the activity of robbers. Under the cover of “darkness,” they dug into walls of mud-brick houses. During the day, robbers kept themselves shut up in their dwellings. As persons who engaged in robbing at night, they did “not know the light” or the daylight hours. (24:16; see the Notes section.)

To robbers, the morning was “death’s shadow” or deep darkness, for they could not carry out their activity in the daylight without being noticed. They recognized the “terrors of death’s shadow” or deep darkness, for the “light” that was deep darkness to them would expose what they were doing and lead to their being caught and punished. It is also possible that, because of their engaging in robbery at night, they were acquainted with the troubles and fears associated with nighttime. (24:17; see the Notes section.)

The phrase “he is swift [light or nimble (Theodotion)] on the face of waters [water (Theodotion)]” has been interpretively translated in a number of ways. “Such men are scum on the surface of the water.” (REB) “Those sinners are filthy foam on the surface of the water.” (CEV) “May they be flotsam on the face of the water.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition]) These and similar renderings are conjectural. (24:18)

Because they acquired their possessions through robbery, Job referred to their “portion” or “tract” in the land as “cursed.” The Septuagint reads, “Cursed be their portion upon the earth” or the land. In the Septuagint there is no corresponding wording for the next phrase in the extant Hebrew text (“one does not face toward vineyards”). Interpretive renderings of the Hebrew text include: “No labourer will go near their vineyards.” (REB) “May none turn aside by way of their vineyards.” (Tanakh [JPS 1985 edition]) “No treader turns to their vineyards.” (NRSV) “Their portion of the land is cursed, so that no one goes to the vineyards.” (NIV) (24:18)

“Drought, even heat, snatch away snow waters,” and “Sheol, those who have sinned.” Water from melted snow may dry up during periods of drought or when it gets hot. Likewise, in the end, sinners disappear off the earthly scene, being snatched away by Sheol or the realm of the dead. The Septuagint rendering does not resemble the extant Hebrew text. With apparent reference to oppressors, it says, “May their plants upon the land appear dried up, for they seized the armful of orphans.” These ruthless oppressors seized the very little that orphans had, possibly the grain they had gleaned. Therefore, as part of the curse on the land, their plants should wither. (24:19)

In the prologue, the earth is represented as a mother to which Job indicated he would return at death. (1:21) This provides a basis for concluding that the “womb” which “forgets” the godless man is the womb of the earth or the earth itself. In the Contemporary English Version, the interpretive rendering is, “Forgotten here on earth, and with their power broken, they taste sweet to worms.” In the realm of the dead, the carcase is subject to being food for the “worm” or maggot. Therefore, the deceased is referred to as being sweet to a worm. Having vanished from the realm of the living, the dead man would no longer be remembered. The corrupt man proved himself to be unrighteous or unjust. Therefore, as the extant Hebrew text concludes, “unrighteousness” or “injustice will be broken like a tree.” (24:20; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

“Feeding on the barren woman who does not bear” may refer to exploiting a widow who never had a child that could aid her in her time of need. The harsh oppressor is also spoken of as doing no good for a widow. This suggests that he took advantage of her in her vulnerable state. According to the Septuagint, the impious one did not treat a barren woman well and had no compassion for a weak woman or a widow. (24:21)

Although “God” is not specifically mentioned as acting against “mighty ones,” some translators make this explicit in their renderings. “Yet God in his strength carries off the mighty.” (REB) “But God’s mighty strength destroys those in power.” (CEV) “But God drags away the mighty by his power.” (NIV) Other translators either have not rendered the text to apply to God or have represented God as not taking action against the powerful ones. “Though he has the strength to seize bulls, may he live with no assurance of survival.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition]) “Yet God prolongs the life of the mighty by his power.” (NRSV) In the Septuagint, the words relate to the action of the oppressor. “But in fury, he overthrew the powerless ones.” (24:22)

The concluding phrase of the extant Hebrew text says that the godless man would “rise up and not trust in life,” apparently meaning that he would not be sure of his own life. The Septuagint rendering is, “Therefore [because of what he did to powerless ones], he will be no means trust in his own life.” The expression “by no means” preserves the emphatic sense of the two Greek words for “not,” indicating that the oppressor would in no way feel secure about his own life. (24:22)

The extant Hebrew text appears to represent Job as saying that God grants “security” to oppressors, “and they are supported.” This could mean that God permitted them to have a false sense of security on which they relied, thinking that no calamity would befall them. He, however, had “his eyes upon their ways,” watching what they were doing and determining whether or when to take action against them. The Septuagint rendering expresses the thought of the verse as relating to punitive judgment. When “infirm” or “sick,” let the impious man “not hope to be healed. But he will fall by disease.” (24:23)

Job is represented as saying that corrupt persons are exalted for a little while and then cease to be. “They are brought low” or toppled from their lofty position. “Like all” or everyone else, “they are gathered in,” possibly meaning like stalks of grain that have been cut off. “And like heads of grain, they wither” or “droop.” Thus they are portrayed as coming to their end. The Septuagint says that the “loftiness” or arrogance of the godless man “injured many, but he withered like a mallow [plant] in the heat or like an ear of grain that of itself had fallen from the stalk.” (24:24)

Job believed that what he had related was true. If what he had said was not so, he raised the rhetorical question as to who would prove him to be a liar and make out his word as amounting to nothing. In the Septuagint, the concluding phrase, as indicated by the way Origen marked it, was added from the version of Theodotion (“and will he set” or represent “my words as nothing?”) (24:25)


Origen, in the third century CE, marked the concluding phrase in verse 4 as having been added from the version of Theodotion. It was not found in the Septuagint available to him. The added words of the Greek text read much like those in the extant Hebrew text. “Together, the meek [or needy] of the land have hidden.”

In verse 5, the Septuagint rendering departs from the reading of the extant Hebrew text. “And they have become like donkeys in a field, going forth on [or departing from] their own activity because of me.” This could mean that, because of what had happened to Job, they were forced to leave their former activity or they had to go forth to find something else to do. Origen marked the concluding phrase as having been added from the version of Theodotion. “Sweet to him was bread for [his] young ones.” This could mean that for the needy man it was something sweet to have bread for his children.

In the third century CE, Origen marked the initial phrase of verse 8 (“they are wet from drops [of rain] of the mountains”) as having been supplied from the version of Theodotion. The words of the Septuagint follow. “On account of not having shelter, they surrounded themselves with rock.” This action could include their taking cover in a cave located in rocky terrain.

The Septuagint rendering of verse 11 differs from the reading of the extant Hebrew text. With apparent reference to godless men, it says that they were unjustly lying in wait in “narrow places and did not know [recognize and live by] the “righteous,” right, or just “way.”

In verse 13, the Septuagint refers to the godless as being “upon the earth and not knowing.” Their not knowing could apply to their deliberate failure to acknowledge what is right and to conduct themselves accordingly. “They did not know the way of the righteous,” indicating that this way was foreign to them, “nor did they walk in its paths.” They rejected it as the course they should have been following.

The Septuagint rendering of verse 14 departs significantly from the reading of the extant Hebrew text. God is apparently being represented as the one who recognized the “works” of the impious ones and “handed them over to darkness,” letting these corrupt individuals be without the light of his guidance to practice their evil ways. The concluding phrase of verse 14 (“and at night he will be like a thief”) is an addition from the version of Theodotion. In the third century CE, Origen marked this addition accordingly, for he did not find it in the Septuagint available to him. The added phrase does not fit the preceding context.

In verse 15, the Greek text is taken from the version of Theodotion and corresponds to the reading of the extant Hebrew text. From this point onward, there is no text in the Septuagint until the concluding phrase of verse 18. Origen marked the phrases in the missing section as having been added from the version of Theodotion.

Verse 16 of the Greek text of the version of Theodotion conveys the same meaning as the extant Hebrew text.

The wording of verse 17 of the Greek text of the version of Theodotion and that of the extant Hebrew text are basically the same.

Verse 20 in the Septuagint differs from the extant Hebrew text. It appears to indicate that the sin of the impious one “was remembered,” with the apparent purpose being that punitive judgment would follow. That sin, “like the mist of dew,” seemingly is represented as not becoming visible to observers. The verse concludes with the words, “But may what he did be repaid to him, and may every unrighteous one be broken like a rotten tree.”