1 Then Job continued to take up his proverb, and said:
2 O that I had months like the times of yore,
Like the days when Eloah protected me,
3 When He, when His lamp, shone above my head,
By His light I went about in the darkness;
4 As I was in the days of my vintage,
When the secret of Eloah was over my tent,
5 When the Almighty was still with me,
My children round about me;
6 When my steps were bathed in cream,
And the rock beside me poured forth streams of oil.
Since the optative מי־יתּן (comp. on Job 23:3) is connected with the acc. of the object desired, Job 14:4; Job 31:31, or of that respecting which anything is desired, Job 11:5, it is in itself possible to explain: who gives (makes) me like the months of yore; but since, when מי־יתּנני occurs elsewhere, Isaiah 27:4; Jeremiah 9:1, the suff . is meant as the dative (= מי־יתן לי, Job 31:35), it is also here to be explained: who gives me (= O that one would give me, O that I had) like ( instar ) the months of yore, i.e., months like those of the past, and indeed those that lie far back in the past; for ירחי־קדם means more than עברוּ ( אשׁר ) ירחים . Job begins to describe the olden times, that he wishes back, with the virtually genitive relative clause: “when Eloah protected me” (Ges. §116, 3). It is impossible to take בּהלּו as Hiph.: when He caused to shine (Targ. בּאנהרוּתיהּ ); either בּההלּו (Olsh.) or even בּהלּו (Ew. in his Comm .) ought to be read then. On the other hand, הלּו can be justified as the form for inf. Kal of הלל (to shine, vid., Job 25:5) with a weakening of the a to i (Ew. §255, a ), and the suff . may, according to the syntax, be taken as an anticipatory statement of the object: when it, viz., His light, shone above my head; comp. Exodus 2:6 (him, the boy), Isaiah 17:6 (its, the fruit-tree's, branches), also Isaiah 29:23 (he, his children); and Ew. §309, c, also decides in its favour. Nevertheless it commends itself still more to refer the suff . of בהלו to אלוהּ (comp. Isaiah 60:2; Psalms 50:2), and to take נרו as a corrective, explanatory permutative: when He, His lamp, shone above my head, as we have translated. One is at any rate reminded of Isa 60 in connection with Job 29:3; for as בהלו corresponds to יזרח there, so לאורו corresponds to לאורך in the Job 29:3 of the same: by His light I walked in darkness ( חשׁך locative = בּחשׁך ), i.e., rejoicing in His light, which preserved me from its dangers (straying and falling).
In Job 29:4 כּאשׁר is not a particle of time, but of comparison, which was obliged here to stand in the place of the כּ, which is used only as a preposition. And חרפּי (to be written thus, not חרפי with an aspirated ) פ may not be translated “(in the days) of my spring,” as Symm. ἐν ἡμέραις νεότητός μου, Jer. diebus adolescentiae meae, and Targ. בּיומי חריפוּתי, whether it be that חריפות here signifies the point, ἀκμή (from חרף, Arab. ḥrf, acuere ), or the early time (spring time, from חרף, Arab. chrf, carpere ). For in reference to agriculture חרף can certainly signify the early half of the year (on this, vid., Genesis, S. 270), inasmuch as sowing and ploughing time in Palestine and Syria is in November and December; wherefore Arab. chrı̂f signifies the early rain or autumn rain; and in Talmudic, חרף, premature (ripe too early), is the opposite of אפל, late, but the derivatives of חרף only obtain this signification connotative, for, according to its proper signification, חרף (Arab. chrı̂f with other forms) is the gathering time, i.e., the time of the fruit harvest (syn. אסיף ), while the Hebr. אביב ( אב ) corresponds to the spring in our sense. If Job meant his youth, he would have said בּימי אבּי, or something similar; but as Job 29:5 shows, he meant his manhood, and this he calls his autumn as the season of maturity, or rather of the abundance of fruits (Schult.: aetatem virilem suis fructibus faetum et exuberantum ),
(Note: The fresh vegetation, indeed, in hotter districts (e.g., in the valley of the Jordan and Euphrates) begins with the arrival of the autumnal rains, but the real spring (comp. Song of Solomon 2:11-13) only begins about the vernal equinox, and still later on the mountains. On the contrary, the late summer, קיץ, which passes over into the autumn, חרף, is the season for gathering the fruit. The produce of the fields, garden fruit, and grapes ripen before the commencement of the proper autumn; some (when the land can be irrigated) summer fruits, e.g., Dhura (maize) and melons, in like manner olives and dates, ripen in autumn. Therefore the translation, in the days of my autumn (“of my harvest”), is the only correct one. If חרפּי were intended here in a sense not used elsewhere, it might signify, according to the Arabic with h, “(in the days) of my prosperity,” or ”my power,” or even with Arab. ch, “(in the days) of my youthful vigour;” for charâfât are rash words and deeds, charfân one who says or does anything rash from lightness, the feebleness of old age, etc. (according to Wetzst., very common words in Syria): חרף or חרף, therefore the thoughtlessness of youth, Arab. jahl , i.e., the rash desire of doing something great, which חרף הנפש למות (Judges 5:18). But it is most secure to go back to חרף, Arab. chrf, carpere, viz., fructus .)
which, according to Olympiodorus, also with ὅτε ἤμην ἐπιβρίθων ὁδούς (perhaps καρπούς ) of the lxx, is what is intended. Then the blessed fellowship of Eloah ( סוד, familiarity, confiding, unreserved intercourse, Psalms 55:15; Proverbs 3:32, comp. Psalms 25:14) ruled over his tent; the Almighty was still with him (protecting and blessing him), His נערים were round about him. It certainly does not mean servants (Raschi: משׁרתי ), but children (as Job 1:19; Job 24:5); for one expects the mention of the blessing of children first of all (Psalms 127:3, Psalms 128:3). His steps ( הליך, ἅπ. λεγ. ) bathed then בּחמה = בּחמאה, Job 20:17 (as שׁלה = שׁאלה, 1 Samuel 1:17, and possibly גּוה = גּאוה ), and the rocks poured forth, close by him, streams of oil (a figure which reminds one of Deuteronomy 32:13). A rich blessing surrounded him wherever he tarried or went, and flowed to him wonderfully beyond desire and comprehension.
7 When I went forth to the gate of the city,
Prepared my seat in the market,
8 Then the young men hid themselves as soon as they saw me,
And the aged rose up, remained standing.
9 Princes refrained from speaking,
And laid their hand on their mouth.
10 The voice of the nobles was hidden,
And their tongue clave to their palate.
When he left the bounds of his domain, and came into the city, he was everywhere received with the profoundest respect. From the facts of the case, it is inadmissible to translate quum egrederer portam after Genesis 34:24, comp. infra, Job 31:34, for the district where Job dwelt is to be thought of as being without a gate. True, he did not dwell with his family in tents, i.e., pavilions of hair, but in houses; he was not a nomad (a wandering herdsman), or what is the same thing, a Beduin, otherwise his children would not have been slain in a stone house, Job 1:19. “The daughter of the duck,” says an Arabian proverb, “is a swimmer,” and the son of a Beduin never dwells in a stone house. He was, however, also, not a citizen, but a hadarı̂ ( חצרי ), i.e., a permanent resident, a large landowner and husbandman. Thus therefore שׁער (for which Ew. after the lxx reads שׁחר : “when I went up early in the morning to the city”) is locative, for שׁערה (comp. צא השּׂדה, go out into the field, Genesis 27:3): when he went forth to the gate above the city; or even, since it is natural to imagine the city as situated on an eminence: up to the city (so that צאת includes in itself by implication the notion of עלות ); not, however: to the gate near the city (Stick., Hahn), since the gate of a city is not situated near the city, but is part of the city itself. The gates of cities and large houses in Western Asia are vaulted entrances, with large recesses on either side, where people congregate for business and negotiations.
(Note: Vid., Layard, New Discoveries, p. 57.)
The open space at the gate, which here, as in Nehemiah 8:1, Nehemiah 8:3, Nehemiah 8:16, is called רחוב, i.e., the open space within the gate and by the gate, was the forum (Job 5:4).
When Job came hither to the meeting of the tribunal, or the council of the elders of the city, within which he had a seat and a voice, the young men hid themselves, conscious of his presence (which εἰρομένῃ λέξει, or, is expressed paratactically instead of as a period), i.e., they retired into the background, since they feared his look of salutation;
(Note: Comp. jer. Schekalim ii. 5 (in Pinner's Compendium des Thalmud, S. 58): “R. Jochanan was walking and leaning upon R. Chija bar-Abba, R. Eliezer perceived him and hid himself from him ( ומטמר לח מקמי ). Then said R. Jochanan: This Babylonian insulted him (R. Chija) by two things; first that he did not salute him, and then that he hid himself. But R. Jakob bar-Idi answered him, it is the custom with them for the less not to salute the greater, - a custom which confirms Job's words: Young men saw me and his themselves.”)
and old men (hoary heads) stood up, remained standing ( ἀσυνδέτως, as Job 20:19; Job 28:4). קוּם signifies to stand up, עמד to advance towards any one and remain standing. They rose in order not to seat themselves until he was seated. שׂרים are magnates ( proceres ) of the city. These עצרוּ בּמלּים, cohibebant verba ( עצר with Beth of the obj., as Job 4:2; Job 12:15), and keeping a respectful silence, they laid their hand on their mouth (comp. Job 21:5). All stepped back and desisted from speaking before him: The speech of illustrious men ( נגידים from נגד, Arab. njd, to be visible, pleasant to the sight, comp. supra, p. 510) hid itself (not daring to be heard), and the tongue of the same clave (motionless) to their palate. We do not translate: as to the voice illustrious men hid themselves, for it is only the appearance produced by the attractional construction Ges. §148, 1 that has led to the rendering of קול־נגידים as an acc. of closer definition (Schult., Hahn: quod ad vocem eminentium, comprimebantur ). The verb is construed with the second member of the genitival expression instead of with the first, as with מספר, Job 15:20; Job 21:21; Job 38:21, and with ראשׁ, Job 22:12; a construction which occurs with קול not merely in such exclamatory sentences as Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 52:8, but also under other conditions, 1 Kings 1:41, comp. Job 14:6. This may be best called an attraction of the predicate by the second member of the compound subject, like the reverse instance, Isaiah 2:11; and it is sometimes found even where this second member is not logically the more important. Thus Ew. transl.: “the voice of the nobles hides itself;” whereas Olsh., wrongly denying that the partt. in passages like Genesis 4:10; 1 Kings 1:41, are to be taken as predicative, wishes to read נחבא, which is the more inadmissible, as even the choice of the verb is determined by the attractional construction.
The strophe which follows tells how it came to pass that those in authority among the citizens submitted to him, and that on all sides the people were zealous to show him tokens of respect.
11 For an ear heard, and called me happy;
And an eye saw, and bear witness to me:
12 For I rescued the sufferer who cried for help,
And the orphan, and him that had no helper.
13 The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me,
And I made the widow's heart rejoice.
14 I put on justice, and it put me on;
As a robe and turban was my integrity.
Thus imposing was the impression of his personal appearance wherever he appeared; for ( כּי explic .) the fulness of the blessing of the possession of power and of prosperity which he enjoyed was so extraordinary, that one had only to hear of it to call him happy, and that, especially if any one saw it with his own eyes, he was obliged to bear laudatory testimony to him. The futt. consec. affirm what was the inevitable consequence of hearing and seeing; העיד, seq. acc., is used like הזכּיר in the signification of laudatory recognition. The expression is not brachylogical for ותּעד לּי (vid., on Job 31:18); for from 1 Kings 21:10, 1 Kings 21:13, we perceive that העיד with the acc. of the person signifies to make any one the subject of assertion, whether he be lower or higher in rank (comp. the New Testament word, especially in Luke, μαρτυρεῖσθαι ). It was, however, not merely the outward manifestation of his unusual prosperity which called forth such admiration, but his active benevolence united with the abundant resources at his command. For where there was a sufferer who cried for help he, relieved him, especially orphans and those who had no helper. ולא־עזר לו is either a new third object, or a closer definition of what precedes: the orphan and (in this state of orphanhood) helpless one. The latter is more probable both here and in the Salomonic primary passage, Psalms 72:12; in the other case ואשׁר אין־עזר לח might be expected.
The blessing ( בּרכּת with closely closed penult .) of those who stood on the brink of destruction ( אובד, interiturus, as Job 31:19; Proverbs 31:6), and owed their rescue to him, came upon him; and the heart of the widow to whom he gave assistance, compensating for the assistance of her lost husband, he filled with gladness ( הרנין causative, as Psalms 65:9). For the primary attribute, the fundamental character of his way of thinking and acting, was צדק, a holding fast to the will of God, which before everything else calls for sympathizing love (root צדק, Arab. ṣdq, to be hard, firm, stiff, e.g., rumh - un sadq - un, according to the Kamus: a hard, firm, straight spear), and משׁפּט, judgment and decision in favour of right and equity against wrong and injustice. Righteousness is here called the garment which he put on (as Psalms 132:9, comp. Isaiah 11:5; Isaiah 59:17), and right is the robe and turban with which he adorns himself (comp. Isaiah 61:10); as by Arabian poets noble attributes are also called garments, which God puts on any one, or which any one puts on himself ( albasa ).
(Note: In Beidhâwi, if I remember rightly, this expression occurs once, Arab. 'l - tdrr‛ blbls 'l - tqwy, i.e., “clothing one's self in the armour of the fear of God.”)
Righteousness is compared to the לבושׁ (corresponding to the thob, i.e., garment, indusium, of the nomads) which is worn on the naked body, justice to the צניף, a magnificent turban (corresponding to the kefije, consisting of a thick cotton cloth, and fastened with a cord made of camel's hair), and the magnificent robe (corresponding to the second principal article of clothing, the ‛abâ ). The lxx, Jer., Syr., and Arab. wrongly refer ויּלבּשׁני to משׁפטי of the second half of the verse, while, on the contrary, it is said of צדק, per antanaclasin, that Job put this on, and this in turn put Job on, induit ; for וילבשׁני, as the usage of the language, as we have it, elsewhere shows, does not signify: it (righteousness) clothed me well (Umbr.), or: adorned me (Ew., Vaih.), also not: it dressed me out (Schlottm.), but only: it put me on as a garment, i.e., it made me so its own, that my whole appearance was the representation of itself, as in Judges 6:34 and twice in the Chronicles, of the Spirit of Jehovah it is said that He puts on any one, induit, when He makes any one the organ of His own manifestation.
15 I was eyes to the blind,
And feet was I to the lame.
16 I was a father to the needy,
And the cause of the unknown I found out,
17 And broke the teeth of the wicked,
And I cast the spoil forth out of his teeth.
The less it is Job's purpose here to vindicate himself before the friends, the more forcible is the refutation which the accusations of the most hard-hearted uncharitableness raised against him by them, especially by Eliphaz, Job 22, find everywhere here. His charity relieved the bodily and spiritual wants of others - eyes to the blind ( לעוּר with Pathach ), feet to the lame. A father was he to the needy, which is expressed by a beautiful play of words, as if it were: the carer for the care-full ones; or what perhaps corresponds to the primary significations of אב and אביון :
(Note: There is an old Arabic defective verb, bayya, which signifies ”to seek an asylum for one's self,” e.g., anâ baj, I come as one seeking protection, a suppliant, in the usual language synon. of Arab. dachala, and thereby indicating its relationship to the Hebr. בּוא, perhaps the root of בּית ( בּתּים ), the ת of which would then not be a radical letter, but, as according to Ges. Thes . in זית, used only in the forming of the word, and the original meaning would be “a refuge.” Traced to a secondary verb, אבה (properly to take up the fugitive, qabila - l - bı̂ja ) springing from this primitive verb, אב would originally signify a guardian, protector; and from the fact of this name denoting, according to the form פּעל, properly in general the protecting power, the ideal femin . in אבות (Arab. abawât' and the Arabic dual abawain (properly both guardians), which embraces father and mother, would be explained and justified. Thus the rare phenomenon that the same אבה signifies in Hebr. “to be willing,” and in Arab. “to refuse,” would be solved. The notion of taking up the fugitive would have passed over in the Hebrew, taken according to its positive side, into the notion of being willing, i.e., of receiving and accepting ( אבּל, qabila, e.g., 1 Kings 20:8, לא תעבה = la taqbal ); in the Arabic, however, taken according to its negative side, as refusing the fugitive to his pursuer, into that of not being willing; and the usage of the language favours this: abâhu ‛aleihi, he protected him against (Arab. 'lâ ) the other (refused him to the other); Arab. abı̂yun = ma'bin, protected, inaccessible to him who longs for it; Arab. ibyat, the protection, i.e., the retention of the milk in the udder. Hence אביון, from the Hebrew signif. of the verb, signifies one who desires anything, or a needy person, but originally (inasmuch as אבה is connected with Arab. byy ) one who needs protection; from the Arabic signif. of Arab. 'abâ, one who restrains himself because he is obliged, one to whom what he wants is denied. To the Arab. ibja (defence, being hindered) corresponds in form the Hebr. אבה, according to which אניות אבה, Job 9:26, may be understood of ships, which, with all sails set and in all haste, seek the sheltering harbour before the approaching storm. We leave this suggestion for further research to sift and prove. More on Job 34:36. - Wetzst.)
the protector of those needing (seeking) protection. The unknown he did not regard as those who were nothing to him, but went unselfishly and impartially into the ground of their cause. לא־ידעתּי is an attributive clause, as Job 18:21; Isaiah 55:5; Isaiah 41:3, and freq., with a personal obj. ( eorum ) quos non noveram, for the translation causam quam nesciebam (Jer.) gives a tame, almost meaningless, thought. With reference to the suff . in אחקרהוּ, on the form ehu used seldom by Waw consec. (Job 12:4), and by the imper. (Job 40:11), chiefly with a solemn calm tone of speech, vid., Ew. §250, c . Further: He spared not to render wrong-doers harmless, and snatched from them what they had taken from others. The cohortative form of the fut. consec., ואשׁבּרה, has been discussed already on Job 1:15; Job 19:20. The form מתלּעות is a transposition of מלתּעות, to render it more convenient for pronunciation, for the Arab. ṭl‛, efferre se, whence a secondary form, Arab. tl‛, although used of the appearing of the teeth, furnishes no such appropriate primary signification as the Arab. lḏg, pungere, mordere, whence a secondary form, Arab. ltg ; the Aethiopic maltâht, jawbone ( maxilla ), also favours מלתעה as the primary form. He shattered the grinders of the roguish, and by moral indignation against the robber he cast out of his teeth what he had stolen.
18 Then I thought: With my nest I shall expire,
And like the phoenix, have a long life.
19 My root will be open for water,
And the dew will lodge in my branches.
20 Mine honour will remain ever fresh to me,
And my bow will become young in my hand.
In itself, Job 29:18 might be translated: “and like to the sand I shall live many days” (Targ., Syr., Arab., Saad., Gecat., Luther, and, among moderns, Umbr., Stick., Vaih., Hahn, and others), so that the abundance of days is compared to the multitude of the grains of sand. The calculation of the immense total of grains of sand (atoms) in the world was, as is known, a favourite problem of antiquity; and in the Old Testament Scriptures, the comprehensive knowledge of Solomon is compared to “the sand upon the sea-shore,” 1 Kings 5:9, - how much more readily a long life reduced to days! comp. Ovid, Metam . xiv. 136-138; quot haberet corpora pulvis, tot mihi natales contingere vana rogavi . We would willingly decide in favour of this rendering, which is admissible in itself, although a closer definition like היּם is wanting by כחול, if an extensive Jewish tradition did not secure the signification of an immortal bird, or rather one rising ever anew from the dead. The testimony is as follows: (1) b. Sanhedrin 108 b, according to which חול is only another name for the bird אורשׁינא,
(Note: The name is a puzzle, and does not accord with any of the mythical birds mentioned in the Zendavesta (vid., Windischmann, Zoroastrische Studien, 1863, S. 93). What Lewysohn, Zoologie des Talmuds, S. 353, brings forward from the Greek by way of explanation is untenable. The name of the bird, Vâresha, in an obscure passage of the Bundehesch in Windischmann, ib. S. 80, is similar in sound. Probably, however, אורשׁינא is one and the same word as Simurg, which is composed of si (= sin ) and murg, a bird (Pehlvi and Parsi mru ). This si ( sin ) corresponds to the Vedic çjena, a falcon, and in the Zend form, çaêna ( çîna ), is the name of a miraculous bird; so that consequently Simurg = Sinmurg, Parsi Cînamru, signifies the Si- or Cîna -bird (comp. Kuhn, Herabkunft des Feuers, 1859, S. 125). In אורשינא the two parts of the composition seem to be reversed, and אור to be corrupted from מור . Moreover, the Simurg is like the phoenix only in the length of its life; another mythological bird, Kuknus, on the other hand (vid., the art. Phönix in Ersch u. Gruber), resembles it also in rising out of its own ashes.)
of which the fable is there recorded, that when Noah fed the beasts in the ark, it sat quite still in its compartment, that it might not give more trouble to the patriarch, who had otherwise plenty to do, and that Noah wished it on this account the reward of immortality ( יהא רעוא דלא תמות ). (2) That this bird חול is none other than the phoenix, is put beyond all doubt by the Midrashim (collected in the Jalkut on Job, §517). There it is said that Eve gave all the beasts to eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree, and that only one bird, the חול by name, avoided this death-food: “it lives a thousand years, at the expiration of which time fire springs up in its nest, and burns it up to about the size of an egg;” or even: that of itself it diminishes to that size, from which it then grows up again and continues to live ( וחוזר ומתגדל איברים וחיה ). (3) The Masora observes, that כחול occurs in two different significations ( בתרי לישׁני ), since in the present passage it does not, as elsewhere, signify sand. (4) Kimchi, in his Lex., says: “in a correct Jerusalem MS I found the observation: בשׁורק לנהרדעי ובחלם למערבאי, i.e., וכחוּל according to the Nehardean (Babylonian) reading, וכחול according to the western (Palestine) reading;” according to which, therefore, the Babylonian Masoretic school distinguished וכחול in the present passage from וכחול, Genesis 22:17, even in the pronunciation. A conclusion respecting the great antiquity of this lexical tradition may be drawn (5) from the lxx, which translates ὥσπερ στέλεχος φοίνικος, whence the Italic sicut arbor palmae, Jerome sicut palma .
If we did not know from the testimonies quoted that חול is the name of the phoenix, one might suppose that the lxx has explained וכחול according to the Arab. nachl, the palm, as Schultens does; but by a comparison of those testimonies, it is more probable that the translation was ὥσπερ φοῖνιξ originally, and that ὥσπερ στέλεχος φοίνικος is an interpolation, for φοῖνιξ signifies both the immortal miraculous bird and the inexhaustibly youthful palm.
(Note: According to Ovid, Metam . xv. 396, the phoenix makes its nest in the palm, and according to Pliny, h. n. xiii. 42, it has its name from the palm: Phoenix putatur ex hujus palmae argumento nomen accepisse, iterum mori ac renasci ex se ipsa ; vid., A. Hahmann, Die Dattelpalme, ihre Namen und ihre Verehrung in der alten Welt, in the periodical Bonplandia, 1859, Nr. 15, 16. Masius, in his studies of nature, has very beautifully described on what ground “the intelligent Greek gave a like name to the fabulous immortal bird that rises again out of its own ashes, and the palm which ever renews its youth.” Also comp. (Heimsdörfer's) Christliche Kunstsymbolik, S. 26, and Augusti, Beiträge zur christl. Kunst-Geschichte und Liturgik, Bd. i. S. 106-108, but especially Piper, Mythologie der christl. Kunst (1847), i. 446f.)
We have the reverse case in Tertullian, de resurrectione carnis, c. xiii., which explains the passage in Ps; Psalms 92:13, δίκαιος ὡς φοῖνιξ ἀντηήσει, according to the translation justus velut phoenix florebit, of the ales orientis or avis Arabiae, which symbolizes man's immortality.
(Note: Not without reference to Clemens Romanus, in his I. Ep. ad Corinth. c. xxv., according to which the phoenix is an Arabian bird, which lives five hundred years, then dies in a nest which it builds of incense, myrrh, and spices, and leaves behind it the larva of a young bird, which, when grown up, brings the nest with the bones of its father and places it upon the altar of the sun at the Egyptian Heliopolis. The source of this is Herodotus ii. 73) who, however, has an egg of myrrh instead of a nest of myrrh); and Tacitus, Ann . vi. 28, gives a similar narrative. Lactantius gives a different version in his poem on the phoenix, according to which this, the only one of its race, “built its nest in a country that remained untouched by the deluge.” The Jewish tragedy writer, Ezekiêlos, agrees more nearly with the statement of Arabia being the home of the phoenix. In his drama Ἐξαγωγή, a spy sent forward before the pilgrim band of Israel, he states that among other things the phoenix was also seen; vid., my Gesch. der jüd. Poesie, S. 219.)
Both figures, that of the phoenix and that of the palm, are equally appropriate and pleasing in the mouth of Job; but apart from the fact that the palm everywhere, where it otherwise occurs, is called תּמר, this would be the only passage where it occurs in the book of Job, which, in spite of its richness in figures taken from plants, nowhere mentions the palm, - a fact which is perhaps not accidental.
(Note: Without attempting thereby to explain the phenomenon observed above, we nevertheless regard it as worthy of remark, that in general the palm is not a common tree either in Syria or in Palestine. “At present there are not in all Syria five hundred palm-trees; and even in the olden times there was no quantity of palms, except in the valley of the Jordan, and on the sea-coast.” - Wetzst.)
On the contrary, we must immediately welcome a reference to the Arabico-Egyptian myth of the phoenix, that can be proved, in a book which also otherwise thoroughly blends things Egyptian with Arabian, and the more so since (6) even the Egyptian language itself supports חול or חוּל as a name of the phoenix; for ΑΛΛΩΗ ΑΛΛΟΗ is explained in the Coptico-Arabic glossaries by es - semendel (the Arab. name of the phoenix, or at least a phoenix-like bird, that, like the salamander, semendar, cannot be burned), and in Kircher by avis Indica, species Phoenicis .
(Note: Vid., G. Seyffarth, Die Phoenix-Periode, Deutsche Morgenländ. Zeitschr. iii. (1849) 63ff., according to which alloê (Hierogl. koli ) is the name of the false phoenix without head-feathers; bêne or bêni (Hierogl. bnno) is the name of the true phoenix with head-feathers, and the name of the palm also. Alloê, which accords with חול, is quite secured as a name of the phoenix.)
חול is Hebraized from this Egyptian name of the phoenix; the word signifies rotation (comp. Arab. haul , the year; haula , round about), and is a suitable designation of the bird that renews its youth periodically after many centuries of life: quae reparat seque ipsa reseminat ales (Ovid), not merely beginning a new life, but also bringing in a new great year: conversionem anni magni (Pliny); in the hieroglyphic representations it has the circle of the sun as a crown. In the full enjoyment of the divine favour and blessing, and in the consciousness of having made a right use of his prosperity, Job hoped φοίνικος ἔτη βιοῦν (Lucian, Hermot . 53), to use a Greek expression, and to expire or die עם־קנּי, as the first half of the verse, now brought into the right light, says. Looking to the form of the myth, according to which Ovid sings:
Quassa cum fulvâ substravit cinnama myrrhâ,
Se super imponit finitque in odoribus aevum,
it might be translated: together with my nest (Umbr., Hirz., Hlgst.); but with the wish that he may not see any of his dear ones die before himself, there is at the same time connected the wish, that none of them should survive him, which is in itself unnatural, and diametrically opposed to the character of an Arab, who in the presence of death cherishes the twofold wish, that he may continue to live in his children (a proverb says: men chalaf el - weled el - fâlih ma mât, he who leaves a noble child behind him is not dead), and that he may die in the midst of his family. Expressly this latter wish, עם־קני signifies: with = in my nest, i.e., in the bosom of my family, not without reference to the phoenix, which, according to the form of the myth in Herodotus, Pliny, Clemens, and others, brings the remains of its father in a nest or egg of myrrh to Heliopolis, into the sacred precincts of the temple of the sun, and thus pays him the last and highest tribute of respect. A different but similar version if given in Horapollo ii. 57, according to which the young bird came forth from the blood of its sire, σὺν τῷ πατρὶ πορεύεται εἰς τῆν Ἡλίου πόλιν τῆν ἐν Αιγύπτῳ, ὃς καὶ παραγενόμενος ἐκεῖ ἅμα τῇ ἡλίου ἀνατολῇ τελευτᾷ . The father, therefore, in death receives the highest tribute of filial respect; and it is this to which the hope of being able to die with (in) his nest, expressed by Job, refers.
The following substantival clause, Job 29:19, is to be understood as future, like the similar clause, Job 29:16, as perfect: my root - so I hoped - will remain open (unclosed) towards the water, i.e., it will never be deficient of water in its vicinity, that it may plentifully supply the stem and branches with nourishment, and dew will lodge on my branches, i.e., will descend nightly, and remain upon them to nourish them. אלי (corresponding to the Arab. ila, originally ilai ) occurs only in the book of Job, and here for the fourth and last time (comp. Job 3:22; Job 5:26; Job 15:22). קציר does not signify harvest here, as the ancient expositors render it, but, like Job 14:9; Job 18:16, a branch, or the intertwined branches. The figure of the root and branch, the flow of vitality downwards and upwards, is the counterpart of Job 18:16. In Job 29:20 a substantival clause also comes first, as in Job 29:19, Job 29:16 (for the established reading is חדשׁ, not חדשׁ ), and a verbal clause follows: his honour - so he hoped - should continue fresh by him, i.e., should abide with him in undiminished value and splendour. It is his honour before God and men that is intended, not his soul (Hahn); כבוד, δόξα, certainly is an appellation of the נפשׁ ( Psychol . S. 98), but חדשׁ is not appropriate to it as predicate. By the side of honour stands manliness, or the capability of self-defence, whose symbol is the bow: and my bow should become young again in my hand, i.e., gain ever new strength and elasticity. It is unnecessary to supply כּח (Hirz., Schlottm., and others). The verb חלף, Arab. chlf , signifies, as the Arab. shows, properly to turn the back, then to go forth, exchange; the Hiph . to make progress, to cause something new to come into the place of the old, to grow young again. These hopes introduced with ואמר were themselves an element of his former happiness. Its description can therefore be continued in connection with the ואמר without any fresh indication.
21 They hearkened to me and waited,
And remained silent at my decision.
22 After my utterance they spake not again,
And my speech distilled upon them.
23 And they waited for me as for the rain,
And they opened their mouth wide for the latter rain.
24 I smiled to them in their hopelessness,
And the light of my countenance they cast not down.
25 I chose the way for them, and sat as chief,
And dwelt as a king in the army,
As one that comforteth the mourners.
Attentive, patient, and ready to be instructed, they hearkened to him (this is the force of שׁמע ל ), and waited, without interrupting, for what he should say. ויחלּוּ, the pausal pronunciation with a reduplication of the last radical, as Judges 5:7, חדלּוּ (according to correct texts), Ges. §20, 2, c; the reading of Kimchi, ויחלוּ, is the reading of Ben-Naphtali, the former the reading of Ben-Ascher (vid., Norzi). If he gave counsel, they waited in strictest silence: this is the meaning of ידּמוּ ( fut. Kal of דּמם ); למו, poetic for ל, refers the silence to its outward cause (vid., on Habakkuk 3:16). After his words non iterabant, i.e., as Jerome explanatorily translates: addere nihil audebant, and his speech came down upon them relieving, rejoicing, and enlivening them. The figure indicated in תּטּף is expanded in Job 29:23 after Deuteronomy 32:2 : they waited on his word, which penetrated deeply, even to the heart, as for rain, מטר, by which, as Job 29:23, the so-called (autumnal) early rain which moistens the seed is prominently thought of. They open their mouth for the late rain, מלקושׁ (vid., on Job 24:6), i.e., they thirsted after his words, which were like the March or April rain, which helps to bring to maturity the corn that is soon to be reaped; this rain frequently fails, and is therefore the more longed for. פּער פּה is to be understood according to Psalms 119:131, comp. Psalms 81:11; and one must consider, in connection with it, what raptures the beginning of the periodical rains produces everywhere, where, as e.g., in Jerusalem, the people have been obliged for some time to content themselves with cisterns that are almost dried to a marsh, and how the old and young dance for joy at their arrival!
In Job 29:24 a thought as suited to the syntax as to the fact is gained if we translate: “I smiled to them - they believed it not,” i.e., they considered such condescension as scarcely possible (Saad., Raschi, Rosenm., De Wette, Schlottm., and others); עשׂחק is then fut. hypotheticum, as Job 10:16; Job 20:24; Job 22:27., Ew. §357, b . But it does not succeed in putting Job 29:24 in a consistent relation to this thought; for, with Aben-Ezra, to explain: they did not esteem my favour the less on that account, my respect suffered thereby no loss among them, is not possible in connection with the biblical idea of “the light of the countenance;” and with Schlottm. to explain: they let not the light of my countenance, i.e., token of my favour, fall away, i.e., be in vain, is contrary to the usage of the language, according to which הפּיל פּנים signifies: to cause the countenance to sink (gloomily, Genesis 4:5), whether one's own, Jeremiah 3:12, or that of another. Instead of פּני we have a more pictorial and poetical expression here, אור פּני : light of my countenance, i.e., my cheerfulness (as Proverbs 16:15). Moreover, the אשׂחק אליהם, therefore, furnishes the thought that he laughed, and did not allow anything to dispossess him of his easy and contented disposition. Thus, therefore, those to whom Job laughed are to be thought of as in a condition and mood which his cheerfulness might easily sadden, but still did not sadden; and this their condition is described by לא יאמינוּ (a various reading in Codd. and editions is ולא ), a phrase which occurred before (Job 24:22) in the signification of being without faith or hope, despairing (comp. האמין, to gain faith, Psalms 116:10), - a clause which is not to be taken as attributive (Umbr., Vaih.: who had not confidence), but as a neutral or circumstantial subordinate clause (Ew. §341, a ). Therefore translate: I smiled to them, if they believed not, i.e., despaired; and however despondent their position appeared, the cheerfulness of my countenance they could not cause to pass away. However gloomy they were, they could not make me gloomy and off my guard. Thus also Job 29:25 is now suitably attached to the preceding: I chose their way, i.e., I made the way plain, which they should take in order to get out of their hopeless and miserable state, and sat as chief, as a king who is surrounded by an armed host as a defence and as a guard of honour, attentive to the motion of his eye; not, however, as a sovereign ruler, but as one who condescended to the mourners, and comforted them ( נחם Piel, properly to cause to breathe freely). This peaceful figure of a king brings to mind the warlike one, Job 15:24. כּאשׁר is not a conj. here, but equivalent to כאישׁ אשׁר, ut ( quis ) qui ; consequently not: as one comforts, but: as he who comforts; lxx correctly: ὃν τρόπον παθεινοὺς παρακαλῶν . The accentuation ( כאשׁר Tarcha, אבלים Munach, ינחם Silluk ) is erroneous; כאשׁר should be marked with Rebia mugrasch, and אבלים with Mercha-Zinnorith.
From the prosperous and happy past, absolutely passed, Job now turns to the present, which contrasts so harshly with it.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Job 29". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany