on Job 5 :5
Whose harvest - Their possessions, because acquired by unjust means, shall not be under the protection of God's providence; he shall abandon them to be pillaged and destroyed by the wandering half-starved hordes of the desert banditti. They shall carry it suddenly off; even the thorns - grain, weeds, thistles, and all, shall they carry off in their rapacious hurry.
The robber swalloweth us - Or, more properly, the thirsty, צמים tsammim, as is plain from their swallowing up or gulping down; opposed to the hungry or half-starved, mentioned in the preceding clause. The hungry shall eat up their grain, and the thirsty shall drink down their wine and oil, here termed חילם cheylam, their strength or power, for the most obvious reasons.
There seem to be two allusions in this verse: 1. To the hordes of wandering predatory banditti, or half-starved Arabs of the desert, who have their scanty maintenance by the plunder of others. These descendants of Ishmael have ever had their hands against all men, and live to this day in the same predatory manner in which they have lived for several thousands of years. M. Volney's account of them is striking: "These men are smaller, leaner, and blacker, than any of the Bedouins yet discovered. Their wasted legs had only tendons without calves. Their belly was shrunk to their back. They are in general small, lean, and swarthy, and more so in the bosom of the desert than on the borders of the more cultivated country. They are ordinarily about five feet or five feet two inches high; they seldom have more than about six ounces of food for the whole day. Six or seven dates, soaked in melted butter, a little milk, or curd, serve a man for twenty-four hours; and he seems happy when he can add a small portion of coarse flour, or a little ball of rice. Their camels also, which are their only support, are remarkably meagre, living on the meanest and most scanty provision. Nature has given it a small head without ears, at the end of a long neck without flesh. She has taken from its legs and thighs every muscle not immediately requisite for motion; and in short has bestowed on its withered body only the vessels and tendons necessary to connect its frame together. She has furnished it with a strong jaw, that it may grind the hardest aliments; and, lest it should consume too much, she has straitened its stomach, and obliged it to chew the cud." Such is the description given of the Bedouin and his camel, by M. Volney, who, while he denies the true God, finds out a deity which he calls Nature, whose works evince the highest providence, wisdom, and design! And where does this most wonderful and intelligent goddess dwell? Nowhere but in the creed of the infidel; while the genuine believer knows that nature is only the agent created and employed by the great and wise God to accomplish, under his direction, the greatest and most stupendous beneficial effects. The second allusion in the verse I suppose to be to the loss Job had sustained of his cattle by the predatory Sabeans; and all this Eliphaz introduces for the support of his grand argument, to convict Job of hidden crimes, on which account his enemies were permitted to destroy his property; that property, because of this wickedness, being placed out of the protection of God's providence.
on Job 5 :5
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.
on Job 5 :5
5:5 Harvest - Which they confidently expect to reap after all their cost and labour, but are sadly and suddenly disappointed. The hungry - The hungry Sabeans eat it up. Thorns - Out of the fields: in spite of all dangers or difficulties in their way.