Job 5:5
Whose harvest the hungry eats up, and takes it even out of the thorns, and the robber swallows up their substance.
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(5) Whose harvest the hungry eateth up.—The meaning becomes more pointed if we understand the wicked man himself as the subject whose harvest he shall eat famishing and have to take from among the thorns—there shall be so little, and that little choked with thorns. The word “robber” is perhaps a trap, or snare. Some of the old versions use other vowels, and read, “the thirsty swallow up,” making the parallelism complete.

Job 5:5. Whose harvest — Which they confidently expected to reap after all their cost and labour; The hungry eateth up — The hungry Sabeans, or the poor, whose necessities make them greedy and ravenous to eat it all up; so that he can never recover it, or any thing in recompense of it. As if he had said, They may cultivate their ground with the utmost care, and sow it with the choicest seed, in expectation of reaping, at the usual time, the fruits of their labour; but when once the sentence of the judge is declared against them, behold, instead of carrying in, and filling their barns and store-houses with the great and plentiful increase, their field is laid open to the hungry poor, who soon devour their whole harvest. And take it even out of the thorns — That is, out of the fields, notwithstanding the strong thorn-hedges wherewith it is enclosed and fortified; and in spite of all the dangers or difficulties which may be in their way. They will take it, though they be scratched and wounded by the thorns about it. And the robber swalloweth up their substance — The word צמים, tzammim, here rendered robber, occurs but once more, namely, Job 18:9, where Bildad, taking it for granted that Job must be a wicked man, says the robber, tzammim, shall prevail against him. R. Levi derives it from tzammah, hair, and says it represents a man who suffers his hair to grow long and squalid, and appears with a terrible countenance. It may however signify thirsty, as derived from another root. Either way it points out a set of savage and barbarous plunderers. The word שׂאŠshaaph, rendered swalloweth up, literally means to draw in the air, to pant after, to swallow greedily; and is applied to wild beasts, snuffing up the wind in pursuit of their prey. The sense of the clause is, that these robbers shall hasten with great eagerness, shall greedily pant after and swallow up their entire substance, so as to leave them in the most deplorable condition.5:1-5 Eliphaz here calls upon Job to answer his arguments. Were any of the saints or servants of God visited with such Divine judgments as Job, or did they ever behave like him under their sufferings? The term, saints, holy, or more strictly, consecrated ones, seems in all ages to have been applied to the people of God, through the Sacrifice slain in the covenant of their reconciliation. Eliphaz doubts not that the sin of sinners directly tends to their ruin. They kill themselves by some lust or other; therefore, no doubt, Job has done some foolish thing, by which he has brought himself into this condition. The allusion was plain to Job's former prosperity; but there was no evidence of Job's wickedness, and the application to him was unfair and severe.Whose harvest the hungry eateth up - That is, they are not permitted to enjoy the avails of their own labor. The harvest field is subject to the depredations of others, who contrive to possess themselves of it, and to consume it.

And taketh it even out of the thorns - Or, he seizes it to the very thorns. That is, the famished robber seizes the whole of the harvest. He takes it all away, even to the thistles, and chaff, and cockle, and whatever impure substances there may be growing with the grain. He does not wait to separate the grain from the other substances, but consumes it all. He spares nothing.

And the robber swalloweth up their substance - Noyes renders this, as Gesenius proposes to do, "and a snare gapeth after his substance;" Dr. Good, "and rigidly swoopeth up their substance." Rosenmuller much better:

Cujusquo facultates oxhauriebant sitibundi, copying exactly the version of Castellio. The Vulgate in a similar manner, Et bibent sitientes divitias ejus - And the thirsty drink up his wealth. The Septuagint, ἐκσιφωνισθείη αὐτῶν ἡ ἰσχύς eksifōnisthein autōn hē ischus - "should their power be absorbed." The true sense, as I conceive, is, "the thirsty gasp, or pant, after their wealth;" that is, they consume it. The word rendered in our common version "the robber צמים tsammı̂ym is, according to the ancient versions, the same as צמאים tsâmê'ı̂ym, the thirsty, and this sense the parallelism certainly requires. So obvious is this, that it is better to suppose a slight error in the Hebrew text, than to give it the signification of a snare," as Noyes does, and as Gesenius (Lexicon) proposes. The word rendered "swalloweth up" (שׁאף shâ'aph) means, properly, to breathe hard, to pant, to blow; and then to yawn after, to desire, to absorb; and the sense here is, that the thirsty consume their property. The whole figure is taken from robbers and freebooters; and I have no doubt that Eliphaz meant impliedly to allude to the ease of Job, and to say that he had known just such cases, where, though there was great temporary prosperity, yet before long the children of the man who was prospered, and who professed to be pious, but was not, were crushed, and his property taken away by robbers. It was this similarity of the case of Job to the facts which he had observed, that staggered him so much in regard to his cbaracter.

5. even out of the thorns—Even when part of the grain remains hanging on the thorn bushes (or, "is growing among thorns," Mt 13:7), the hungry gleaner does not grudge the trouble of even taking it away, so clean swept away is the harvest of the wicked.

the robber—as the Sabeans, who robbed Job. Rather, translate "the thirsty," as the antithesis in the parallelism, "the hungry," proves.

Whose harvest, which they now justly and confidently expect to reap, after all their cost and labour for that end, but are sadly and suddenly disappointed; which is a great aggravation of their misery.

The hungry, i.e. the poor, whose necessities make them greedy and ravenous to eat it all up; and from whom he can never recover it, nor any thing in recompence of it.

Out of the thorns, i.e. out of the fields, notwithstanding the strong thorn hedges wherewith it is enclosed and fortified, and all other dangers or difficulties which may be in their way. They will take it, though they be scratched and wounded by the thorns about it. The robbers; so called from their long hair, which such persons nourished, either because of their wild and savage kind of life, which made them neglect the trimming of their hair and body; or that they might look more terribly, and so affright all those who should endeavour to oppose them. Or, the thirsty, as the word may signify from another root. And so it answers well to the hungry, in the former branch. Swalloweth up greedily, and so as there is no hope of recovering it. Whose harvest the hungry eateth up,.... This is to be understood of the foolish rich man before described, as taking root and flourishing; though he sows, and reaps and gathers in his harvest, and fancies he has goods laid up for many years, to be enjoyed by him, yet he is taken away by death, and another eats what he has gathered; either his hungry heirs, that he has kept bare, and without the proper necessaries of life; or the poor whom he has oppressed, who, driven by hunger, seize upon his harvest, and eat it up, whether he be alive or dead: Sephorno interprets this of the wicked man himself, who should eat up his own harvest, and not have enough to satisfy him, the curse of God being upon his land; and another learned interpreter (s) thinks the sense is, that such should be the curse of God on the fields of wicked men, that they should produce no more than what was usually left to the poor, and therefore should have no need to gather it:

and taketh it even out of the thorns; that is, either the hungry man takes the harvest out of the thorns, among which it grows, see Matthew 13:7; or which he had gotten "through the thorns", as Mr. Broughton renders it; that is, the owner, through many difficulties; and hunger will break through many to get at it; or though his harvest being got in, is enclosed with a thorn hedge, the hungry man gets through it, and takes it out from it, surrounded by it; the above mentioned Jewish writer understands this also of the wicked man, who takes his own harvest out from among the thorns, so that there is nothing left for the poor and his friends, as it is meet there should: the word (t) for "thorns" has also the signification of armour, particularly of shields; hence the Targum is,"and armed men with warlike arms shall take it away;''to which agrees the Vulgate Latin version,"and the armed men shall take it away;''that is, soldiers should forage, spoil, and destroy it:

and the robber swalloweth up their substance; the house robber, who breaks in and devours all at once, and makes a clear riddance of it; some render it "the hairy man" (u) either that neglects his hair, as beggars, or such that live in desert places, as robbers, that they may appear the more terrible; or that take care of it, and nourish it, and tie it up in locks, and behind their heads, as Bar Tzemach and Ben Melech observe they do in Turkey; others translate it "the thirsty" (w), and so it answers to the hungry in the preceding clause, and designs such who thirst, and gape after, and covet the substance of others, and greedily catch at it, and swallow it up at once, at one draught, as a thirsty man does a large quantity of liquor, see Proverbs 1:12; this may have some respect to the Sabeans and Chaldeans, that swallowed up Job's substance, and took away his cattle from him at once, and were no other than bands of robbers; and the use of the word for a thief or a robber, as we take it, is confirmed by a learned man (x), who derives it from the Arabic word which signifies to smite with a club or stone.

(s) Schmidt. (t) "de lanceis", Bolducius. "est et elypeus, umbo", Codurcus. (u) "comatus", Cocceius, Schmidt; "horridus", Junius & Tremellius. (w) Sitientes, V. L. "sitibundi", Montanus, Bolducius; so Simeon Bar Tzemach. (x) Hinckelman. Praefat. ad Alcoran. p. 28, 29.

Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the {g} thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.

(g) Though there are only two or three ears left in the hedges, yet these will be taken from him.

5. even out of the thorns] i. e. from within the enclosed field, protected by the thorn-hedge. The roving, hungry Bedawin carry their thievish depredations up to the very homestead and in-fields of the ruined estate of the wicked man.

the robber] This word occurs again ch. Job 18:9, in the certain meaning of snare; and the sense would thus be, and the snare gapes for their substance, the general idea being that their substance falls a prey to the greed of every crafty and cunning one. This is rather vague and colourless. The ancient versions by alteration in the punctuation give the meaning of the thirsty. This agrees with the parallel “the hungry” in the preceding clause, and therefore naturally suggested itself. While “the thirsty” suits “gapes” very well, it is less suitable to “substance.” On the whole, as the meaning snare is assured from ch. Job 18:9, it is safer to rest content with this sense. The whole forms a very graphic picture of desolation.Verse 5. - Whose harvest the hungry eateth up. Covetous men rush in and "eat up" all that the family possesses, thus bringing it to the extreme of poverty and want. And taketh it even out of the thorns. Vain is any protection that may be devised. As hedges, even of the prickly pear, do not keep out a band of plunderers, so there is no obstacle which those bent on robbing them will not overcome. And the robber swalloweth up their substance; or, the thirsty; i.e. those who thirst after it. אף signifies, like כּי אף, quanto minus, or quanto magis, according as a negative or positive sentence precedes: since Job 4:18 is positive, we translate it here quanto magis, as 2 Samuel 16:11. Men are called dwellers in clay houses: the house of clay is their φθαρτὸν σῶμα, as being taken de limo terrae (Job 33:6; comp. Wis. 9:15); it is a fragile habitation, formed of inferior materials, and destined to destruction. The explanation which follows - those whose יסוד, i.e., foundation of existence, is in dust - shows still more clearly that the poet has Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19, in his mind. It crushes them (subject, everything that operates destructively on the life of man) לפני־עשׁ, i.e., not: sooner than the moth is crushed (Hahn), or more rapidly than a moth destroys (Oehler, Fries), or even appointed to the moth for destruction (Schlottm.); but לפני signifies, as Job 3:24 (cf. 1 Samuel 1:16), ad instar: as easily as a moth is crushed. They last only from morning until evening: they are broken in pieces (הכּת, from כּתת, for הוּכת); they are therefore as ephemerae. They perish for ever, without any one taking it to heart (suppl. על־לב, Isaiah 42:25; Isaiah 57:1), or directing the heart towards it, animum advertit (suppl. לב, Job 1:8).

In Job 4:21 the soul is compared to the cord of a tent, which stretches out and holds up the body as a tent, like Ecclesiastes 12:6, with a silver cord, which holds the lamp hanging from the covering of the tent. Olshausen is inclined to read יתדם, their tent-pole, instead of יתרם, and at any rate thinks the accompanying בּם superfluous and awkward. But (1) the comparison used here of the soul, and of the life sustained by it, corresponds to its comparison elsewhere with a thread or weft, of which death is the cutting through or loosing (Job 6:9; Job 27:8; Isaiah 38:12); (12) בּם is neither superfluous nor awkward, since it is intended to say, that their duration of life falls in all at once like a tent when that which in them (בם) corresponds to the cord of a tent (i.e., the נפשׁ) is drawn away from it. The relation of the members of the sentence in Job 4:21 is just the same as in Job 4:2 : Will they not die when it is torn away, etc. They then die off in lack of wisdom, i.e., without having acted in accordance with the perishableness of their nature and their distance from God; therefore, rightly considered: unprepared and suddenly, comp. Job 36:12; Proverbs 5:23. Oehler, correctly: without having been made wiser by the afflictions of God. The utterance of the Spirit, the compass of which is unmistakeably manifest by the strophic division, ends here. Eliphaz now, with reference to it, turns to Job.

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