29:9 the chief men refrained from talking
and covered their mouths with their hands;
and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths.
and sat as their chief; 4
I lived like a king among his troops;
I was like one who comforts mourners. 5
1 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 habi’a, “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.
2 tn All of these imperfects describe what Job used to do, and so they all fit the category of customary imperfect.
3 tn Heb “their way.”
4 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.
5 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 : 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.