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Job 29:18-20

Context
Job’s Confidence

29:18 “Then I thought, ‘I will die in my own home, 1 

my days as numerous as the grains of sand. 2 

29:19 My roots reach the water,

and the dew lies on my branches all night long.

29:20 My glory 3  will always be fresh 4  in me,

and my bow ever new in my hand.’

1 tc The expression in the MT is “with my nest.” The figure is satisfactory for the context – a home with all the young together, a picture of unity and safety. In Isa 16:2 the word can mean “nestlings,” and with the preposition “with” that might be the meaning here, except that his children had grown up and lived in their own homes. The figure cannot be pushed too far. But the verse apparently has caused enormous problems, because the versions offer a variety of readings and free paraphrases. The LXX has “My age shall grow old as the stem of a palm tree, I shall live a long time.” The Vulgate has, “In my nest I shall die and like the palm tree increase my days.” G. R. Driver found an Egyptian word meaning “strength” (“Birds in the Old Testament,” PEQ 87 [1955]: 138-39). Several read “in a ripe old age” instead of “in my nest” (Pope, Dhorme; see P. P. Saydon, “Philological and Textual Notes to the Maltese Translation of the Old Testament,” CBQ 23 [1961]: 252). This requires the verb זָקַן (zaqan, “be old”), i.e., בִּזְקוּנַי (bizqunay, “in my old age”) instead of קִנִּי (qinni, “my nest”). It has support from the LXX.

2 tc For חוֹל (khol, “sand”) the LXX has a word that is “like the palm tree,” but which could also be translated “like the phoenix” (cf. NAB, NRSV). This latter idea was developed further in rabbinical teaching (see R. Gordis, Job, 321). See also M. Dahood, “Nest and phoenix in Job 29:18,” Bib 48 (1967): 542-44. But the MT yields an acceptable sense here.

3 tn The word is “my glory,” meaning his high respect and his honor. Hoffmann proposed to read כִּידוֹן (kidon) instead, meaning “javelin” (as in 1 Sam 17:6), to match the parallelism (RQ 3 [1961/62]: 388). But the parallelism does not need to be so tight.

4 tn Heb “new.”



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