They are exalted for a little while - Such tyrants are exalted for a time, for God putteth down one and raiseth up another; but he turns his hand against them, and they are gone. They are removed by his justice as all of the same character have been and shall be; time and judgment shall mow them down as the grass, and crop them off as the ears of ripe corn. They may flourish for a time, and continue their oppressions; but they shall at last come to an untimely end. Few tyrants ever visit the eternal world sicca morte, but by a violent death. All Eastern history is full of this great fact.
They are exalted for a little while - This was the proposition which Job was maintaining. His friends affirmed that the wicked were punished for their sins in this life, and that great crimes would soon meet with great calamities. This Job denies, and says that the fact was, that they were “exalted.” Yet he knew that it was to be but for a little time, and he believed that they would, at no distant period, receive the proper reward of their deeds. He maintains, however, that their death might be tranquil and easy, and that no extraordinary proof of the divine displeasure would be perceived in the manner of their departure.
But are gone and brought low - Margin, “not.” Hebrew ואיננו ve'ayı̂nenû - “and are not;” compare Genesis 42:13. “The youngest is this day with our father, and one is not;” Genesis 37:30. “The child is not, and I, whither shall I go?” That is, the child is dead; compare the expression Troja fuit. The meaning here is, that they soon disappear, or vanish.
They are taken out of the way as all other - They die in the same manner as other people do, and without any extraordinary expressions of the divine displeasure in their death. This was directly contrary to what his friends had maintained. The Hebrew word here (קפץ qâphats ) means, “to gather”, “to collect”; and is often used in the sense of “gathering to one‘s fathers,” to denote death.
And cut off as the tops of the ears of corn - Of wheat, barley, or similar grain. Corn, in the sense in which the word is commonly used in this country, was not known in the time of Job. The allusion here is to the harvest. When the grain was ripe, it seems they were in the habit of cutting off the ears, and not of cutting it near the root, as we do. The body of the stalk was left, and, hence, there is so frequent allusion in the Scriptures to stubble that was burned. So, in Egypt, the children of Israel were directed to obtain the stubble left in the fields, in making brick, instead of having straw furnished them. The meaning of Job here is, that they would not be taken away by a violent death, or before their time, but that they would be like grain standing in the field to the time of harvest, and then peacefully gathered; compare Psalm 73:4.