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Job 29:7-17

Context

29:7 When I went out to the city gate

and secured my seat in the public square, 1 

29:8 the young men would see me and step aside, 2 

and the old men would get up and remain standing;

29:9 the chief men refrained from talking

and covered their mouths with their hands;

29:10 the voices of the nobles fell silent, 3 

and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths.

Job’s Benevolence

29:11 “As soon as the ear heard these things, 4  it blessed me, 5 

and when the eye saw them, it bore witness to me,

29:12 for I rescued the poor who cried out for help,

and the orphan who 6  had no one to assist him;

29:13 the blessing of the dying man descended on me, 7 

and I made the widow’s heart rejoice; 8 

29:14 I put on righteousness and it clothed me, 9 

my just dealing 10  was like a robe and a turban;

29:15 I was eyes for the blind

and feet for the lame;

29:16 I was a father 11  to the needy,

and I investigated the case of the person I did not know;

29:17 I broke the fangs 12  of the wicked,

and made him drop 13  his prey from his teeth.

1 sn In the public square. The area referred to here should not be thought of in terms of modern western dimensions. The wide space, plaza, or public square mentioned here is the open area in the gate complex where legal and business matters were conducted. The area could be as small as a few hundred square feet.

2 tn The verb means “to hide; to withdraw.” The young men out of respect would withdraw or yield the place of leadership to Job (thus the translation “step aside”). The old men would rise and remain standing until Job took his seat – a sign of respect.

3 tn The verb here is “hidden” as well as in v. 8. But this is a strange expression for voices. Several argue that the word was erroneously inserted from 8a and needs to be emended. But the word “hide” can have extended meanings of “withdraw; be quiet; silent” (see Gen 31:27). A. Guillaume relates the Arabic habia, “the fire dies out,” applying the idea of “silent” only to v. 10 (it is a form of repetition of words with different senses, called jinas). The point here is that whatever conversation was going on would become silent or hushed to hear what Job had to say.

4 tn The words “these things” and “them” in the next colon are not in the Hebrew text, but have been supplied in the translation for clarity.

5 tn The main clause is introduced by the preterite with the vav (ו) consecutive (see GKC 327 §111.h); the clause before it is therefore temporal and circumstantial to the main clause.

6 tn The negative introduces a clause that serves as a negative attribute; literally the following clause says, “and had no helper” (see GKC 482 §152.u).

7 tn The verb is simply בּוֹא (bo’, “to come; to enter”). With the preposition עַל (’al, “upon”) it could mean “came to me,” or “came upon me,” i.e., descended (see R. Gordis, Job, 320).

8 tn The verb אַרְנִן (’arnin) is from רָנַן (ranan, “to give a ringing cry”) but here “cause to give a ringing cry,” i.e., shout of joy. The rejoicing envisioned in this word is far greater than what the words “sing” or “rejoice” suggest.

9 tn Both verbs in this first half-verse are from לָבַשׁ (lavash, “to clothe; to put on clothing”). P. Joüon changed the vowels to get a verb “it adorned me” instead of “it clothed me” (Bib 11 [1930]: 324). The figure of clothing is used for the character of the person: to wear righteousness is to be righteous.

10 tn The word מִשְׁפָּטִי (mishpati) is simply “my justice” or “my judgment.” It refers to the decisions he made in settling issues, how he dealt with other people justly.

11 sn The word “father” does not have a wide range of meanings in the OT. But there are places that it is metaphorical, especially in a legal setting like this where the poor need aid.

12 tn The word rendered “fangs” actually means “teeth,” i.e., the molars probably; it is used frequently of the teeth of wild beasts. Of course, the language is here figurative, comparing the oppressing enemy to a preying animal.

13 tn “I made [him] drop.” The verb means “to throw; to cast,” throw in the sense of “to throw away.” But in the context with the figure of the beast with prey in its mouth, “drop” or “cast away” is the idea. Driver finds another cognate meaning “rescue” (see AJSL 52 [1935/36]: 163).



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