Job 24


‘Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days? There are those who move boundary stones; they pasture flocks they have stolen. They drive away the orphan’s donkey and take the widow’s ox in pledge. They thrust the needy from the path and force all the poor of the land into hiding. Like wild donkeys in the desert, the poor go about their labour of foraging food; the wasteland provides food for their children. They gather fodder in the fields and glean in the vineyards of the wicked. Lacking clothes, they spend the night naked; they have nothing to cover themselves in the cold. They are drenched by mountain rains and hug the rocks for lack of shelter. The fatherless child is snatched from the breast; the infant of the poor is seized for a debt. Lacking clothes, they go about naked; they carry the sheaves, but still go hungry. They crush olives among the terraces; they tread the winepresses, yet suffer thirst. The groans of the dying rise from the city, and the souls of the wounded cry out for help. But God charges no one with wrongdoing.’ Job 24:1-12

Job Continues With His Response

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘In Job 24, we run into all kinds of problems. First, there are textual difficulties that render many lines almost unintelligible. The translators have patched them up to their satisfaction, but there is no unanimous agreement in the many solutions offered. A number of verses are rejected and removed by different scholars, but there’s no agreement on any of this. The speech as a whole is incoherent; some of it seems at variance with what Job has maintained all along. Some scholars, such as Pope in the Anchor Bible have shuffled the verses around into a different order.’

‘This problem is related by some to the brevity of the speech by Bildad in this third cycle, some supposing that what is here accredited to Job may, in fact, have been spoken by Bildad. These problems and uncertainties which continue to appear throughout the last half of the text of Job are utterly beyond the scope of any ability of this writer to solve them.’

Back in Job 21, Job tried to prove that the wicked do prosper, now, he is going to speak about the other side of the same argument, that is, the suffering of the righteous. Job hopes to prove his friends wrong in their thinking about righteousness.

He says there are many injustices inflicted upon the righteous that God apparently does nothing to stop. If his friend’s argument are correct, then that would mean that God would visibly respond to those who oppress others. In other words, God should make it known when He sits in judgment in order to hand down judgments.

However, the oppressed continue to endure many evils at the hands of wicked people. And so, with all this happening, God doesn’t pay any attention. The good news is that Job doesn’t believe this for one moment, Job 24:2-11.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The law of Moses denounces curses on those who remove their neighbours’ landmarks, Deuteronomy 19:14 / Deuteronomy 27:17.’

If his friends’ theology is correct, then this is the only explanation for why the righteous suffer, God simply doesn’t see it. Job argues that God has greater reasons for allowing the righteous to suffer, reasons not always clearly seen by men.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This whole paragraph identifies the gross wickedness of evil men as generally being perpetrated at night. This is in full harmony with the New Testament references to such sins as, ‘the works of darkness’, Romans 13:12, ‘the hidden things of darkness’, 1 Corinthians 4:5, and ‘the unfruitful works of darkness’, Ephesians 5:11. Like certain animals of prey, such men sleep in the daytime and operate their nefarious business at night. Christians are everywhere referred to in the New Testament as the ‘Children of light’.’

‘There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay in its paths. When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up, kills the poor and needy, and in the night steals forth like a thief. The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk; he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’ and he keeps his face concealed. In the dark, thieves break into houses, but by day they shut themselves in; they want nothing to do with the light. For all of them, midnight is their morning; they make friends with the terrors of darkness. “Yet they are foam on the surface of the water; their portion of the land is cursed, so that no one goes to the vineyards. As heat and drought snatch away the melted snow, so the grave snatches away those who have sinned. The womb forgets them, the worm feasts on them; the wicked are no longer remembered but are broken like a tree. They prey on the barren and childless woman, and to the widow they show no kindness.’ Job 24:13-21

This is that part of Job’s response which is thought by some to be part of Bildad’s speech, which follows at once, and seems to be unusually short but, as the text stands, there is very little of it that is inappropriate upon the lips of Job.

Job here goes on to elaborate his argument by showing the wicked aren’t restrained in their evil plans. He recognises that evil exists throughout the world.

The wicked make their evil plans at night and believe that even God won’t see what they do under the cover of darkness, Proverbs 7:8-9 / Romans 13:12-14 / Ephesians 5:8 / Ephesians 5:11 / 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5.

Job intends to demonstrate to his friends that he does have a balanced view concerning the wicked. He hasn’t argued that the wicked are never punished in this life, he’s only tried to point out the inconsistencies in the treatment of the wicked.

He acknowledges that there are more wicked people in the world than righteous believers. Ultimately God will punish the wicked, however, He may choose to delay His punishment

‘But God drags away the mighty by his power; though they become established, they have no assurance of life. He may let them rest in a feeling of security, but his eyes are on their ways. For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone; they are brought low and gathered up like all others; they are cut off like heads of grain. “If this is not so, who can prove me false and reduce my words to nothing?” Job 24:22-25

Job says that some people seem to be singled out by God, He prolongs the life of those individuals for a period, but eventually, they too are consumed by death.

The fact was that the wicked continue in life, they prosper and often live a good life but their prosperity in life didn’t prove that they were righteous. Job is saying that his suffering doesn’t prove that he was unrighteous.

Hesser, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The big thing that Job objected to was Eliphaz’s theory that the wicked are punished at once. Job admits that if one looks at the whole picture, he will see that wickedness leads to suffering and that righteousness leads to rewards but what puzzles Job is the exceptions which are obviously quite numerous. Job is pointing out that in the course of things crime brings misery to the criminal, but that God has not ordered that each crime shall bring immediate retribution.’

Go To Job 25