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Job 29:21-25

Job’s Reputation

29:21 “People 1  listened to me and waited silently; 2 

they kept silent for my advice.

29:22 After I had spoken, they did not respond;

my words fell on them drop by drop. 3 

29:23 They waited for me as people wait 4  for the rain,

and they opened their mouths 5 

as for 6  the spring rains.

29:24 If I smiled at them, they hardly believed it; 7 

and they did not cause the light of my face to darken. 8 

29:25 I chose 9  the way for them 10 

and sat as their chief; 11 

I lived like a king among his troops;

I was like one who comforts mourners. 12 

1 tn “People” is supplied; the verb is plural.

2 tc The last verb of the first half, “wait, hope,” and the first verb in the second colon, “be silent,” are usually reversed by the commentators (see G. R. Driver, “Problems in the Hebrew text of Job,” VTSup 3 [1955]: 86). But if “wait” has the idea of being silent as they wait for him to speak, then the second line would say they were silent for the reason of his advice. The reading of the MT is not impossible.

3 tn The verb simply means “dropped,” but this means like the rain. So the picture of his words falling on them like the gentle rain, drop by drop, is what is intended (see Deut 32:2).

4 tn The phrase “people wait for” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation.

5 sn The analogy is that they received his words eagerly as the dry ground opens to receive the rains.

6 tn The כּ (kaf) preposition is to be supplied by analogy with the preceding phrase. This leaves a double proposition, “as for” (but see Job 29:2).

7 tn The connection of this clause with the verse is difficult. The line simply reads: “[if] I would smile at them, they would not believe.” Obviously something has to be supplied to make sense out of this. The view adopted here makes the most sense, namely, that when he smiled at people, they could hardly believe their good fortune. Other interpretations are strained, such as Kissane’s, “If I laughed at them, they believed not,” meaning, people rejected the views that Job laughed at.

8 tn The meaning, according to Gordis, is that they did nothing to provoke Job’s displeasure.

9 tn All of these imperfects describe what Job used to do, and so they all fit the category of customary imperfect.

10 tn Heb “their way.”

11 tn The text simply has “and I sat [as their] head.” The adverbial accusative explains his role, especially under the image of being seated. He directed the deliberations as a king directs an army.

12 tc Most commentators think this last phrase is odd here, and so they either delete it altogether, or emend it to fit the idea of the verse. Ewald, however, thought it appropriate as a transition to the next section, reminding his friends that unlike him, they were miserable comforters. Herz made the few changes in the text to get the reading “where I led them, they were willing to go” (ZAW 20 [1900]: 163). The two key words in the MT are אֲבֵלִים יְנַחֵם (’avelim yÿnakhem, “he [one who] comforts mourners”). Following Herz, E. Dhorme (Job, 422) has these changed to אוֹבִילֵם יִנַּחוּ (’ovilem yinnakhu). R. Gordis has “like one leading a camel train” (Job, 324). But Kissane also retains the line as a summary of the chapter, noting its presence in the versions.

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