Job 29:6
When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
29:1-6 Job proceeds to contrast his former prosperity with his present misery, through God's withdrawing from him. A gracious soul delights in God's smiles, not in the smiles of this world. Four things were then very pleasant to holy Job. 1. The confidence he had in the Divine protection. 2. The enjoyment he had of the Divine favour. 3. The communion he had with the Divine word. 4. The assurance he had of the Divine presence. God's presence with a man in his house, though it be but a cottage, makes it a castle and a palace. Then also he had comfort in his family. Riches and flourishing families, like a candle, may be soon extinguished. But when the mind is enlightened by the Holy Spirit, when a man walks in the light of God's countenance, every outward comfort is doubled, every trouble is diminished, and he may pass cheerfully by this light through life and through death. Yet the sensible comfort of this state is often withdrawn for a season; and commonly this arises from sinful neglect, and grieving the Holy Spirit: sometimes it may be a trial of a man's faith and grace. But it is needful to examine ourselves, to seek for the cause of such a change by fervent prayer, and to increase our watchfulness.When I washed my steps with butter - On the word rendered "butter," see the notes at Isaiah 7:15. It properly means curdled milk. Umbreit renders it, Sahne; cream. Noyes, milk, and so Wemyss. The Septuagint, "When my ways flowed with butter" - βουτύρῳ bouturō. So Coverdale, "When my ways ran over with butter." Herder, "And where I went a stream of milk flowed on." The sense may be, that cream or butter was so plenty that he was able to make use of it for the most common purposes - even for that of washing his feet. That butter was sometimes used for the purpose of anointing the feet - probably for comfort and health - as oil was for the head, is mentioned by Oriental travelers. Hassilquist (Travels in Palestine, p. 58), speaking of the ceremonies of the priests at Magnesia on holy Thursday, says, "The priest washed and dried the feet, and afterward besmeared them with butter, which it was alleged was made from the first milk of a young cow." Bruce says that the king of Abyssinia daily anointed his head with butter. Burder in Rosenmuller's alte u. neue Morgenland, in loc. It is possible that this use of butter was as ancient as the time of Job, and that he here alludes to it, but it seems more probable that the image is designed to denote superfluity or abundance; and that where he trod, streams of milk or cream flowed - so abundant was it round him. The word rendered "steps" הליכם hâlı̂ykam) does not properly denote "the feet" but "the tread, the going, the stepping." This sense corresponds with that of the other member of the parallelism.

And the rock poured me out rivers of oil - Margin, "with me." The idea is, that the very rock near which he stood, seemed to pour forth oil. Instead of water gushing out, such seemed to be the abundance with which he was blessed, that the very rock poured out a running stream of oil. Oil was of great value among the Orientals. It was used as an article of food, for light, for anointing the body, and as a valuable medicine. To say, then, that one had abundance of oil, was the same as to say that he had ample means of comfort and of luxury. Perhaps by the word "rock" here, there is an allusion to file places where olives grew. It is said that those which produced the best oil grew upon rocky mountains. There may be, also, an allusion to this in Deuteronomy 32:13 : "He made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock." Prof. Lee, and some others, however, understand here by the rock, the press where oil was extracted from olives, and which it is supposed was sometimes made of stone.

6. butter—rather, "cream," literally, "thick milk." Wherever I turned my steps, the richest milk and oil flowed in to me abundantly. Image from pastoral life.

When I washed my steps—Literal washing of the feet in milk is not meant, as the second clause shows; Margin, "with me," that is, "near" my path, wherever I walked (De 32:13). Olives amidst rocks yield the best oil. Oil in the East is used for food, light, anointing, and medicine.

i.e. When I abounded in all sorts of blessings; which is oft signified by this or the like phrases, as Genesis 49:11 Deu 33:24 Job 20:17 Psalm 81:16; when I had such numerous herds of cattle, and consequently such plenty of butter, that if I had needed it, or been pleased so to use it, I might have washed my feet with it; when not only fruitful fields, but even barren and rocky places, (such as that part of Arabia was where Job lived,) yielded me olive trees and oil in great plenty. See Poole "Deu 32:13". When I washed my steps with butter,.... Not the steps of his house or palace; for to have done this, or his servants by his orders, as it would have been a very great impropriety, so a piece of great prodigality, which Job could never have been guilty of; but either his footsteps, the prints of his feet; and the sense be, that his cattle produced such a vast quantity of milk, that when his servants brought it from the fields to the dairy, their milk pails ran over in such abundance, that Job could not step out of his house, and take a walk in his fields, but he stepped into puddles of milk, of which butter was made: this is an exaggerated phrase, like that by which the land of Canaan is described as "flowing with milk and honey"; or rather this is to be understood of the washing of his feet, which are the instruments of stepping or walking. It was usual in those times, in the eastern countries, to wash their feet upon travelling, or at festivals; but then this was commonly done with water, not with butter, see Genesis 18:4; and the meaning can only be, that Job had such abundance of milk, or butter made of it, that he could, if he would, have washed his feet in it; indeed, they had used to anoint the feet with ointment; but whether cream or butter was any ingredient in it, and so the part is put for the whole, is not certain, see Luke 7:38, Job 12:3; besides, that would have been more properly expressed by anointing than washing; it seems to be an hyperbole, an expression like that of Zophar, in Job 20:17; signifying the vast abundance of the increase and produce of Job's kine; who is said to wash his feet in milk or butter, as Asher is said to dip his feet in oil, because of the great plenty of it, Deuteronomy 33:24; the spiritual meditation upon the words may be this; the feet of the best of saints need washing, there being many failings and infirmities in their walk and conversation; in which they gather much pollution and faith daily; the proper wash for this is the blood of Christ, of which the layer in the tabernacle and temple was a type, at which the priests washed their hands and feet; but the word of God, called the sincere milk of the word, is the instrument or means of washing, or of directing souls to the fountain opened to wash in; so that with respect to that, the feet of saints, as the eyes of Christ, may be said to be washed with milk:

and the rock poured me out rivers of oil; another hyperbolical expression, like that in Deuteronomy 32:13, where honey is said to be sucked out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; as honey may be got out of a rock, because bees may make their nests and hives there, where it is laid up by them; so oil, in like manner, may be had from the flinty rock, olive trees growing on hills, mountains, and rocks, which yield oil in great abundance; near Jerusalem was a mount called Olivet, from thence: the land of Edom, or Idumea, where Job 54ed, abounded with cragged mountains and rocks; and there might be in Job's estate such on which olive trees grew in great plenty, as to produce vast quantities of oil: it is a very fanciful thought of Bolducius, that this rock was no other than a stone vessel, in which was oil, somewhat like the alabaster box in Matthew 26:7; and which was plentifully poured on Job, when he was anointed high priest; and another learned man (u), though he rejects the notion of its being a vessel for sacred use, yet is willing to allow it was an oil vessel for common use: as to the spiritual sense, it may be observed, that a rock in Scripture often signifies a divine Person, 1 Corinthians 10:4; it is an emblem of Christ, as oil also is of the Spirit of God and his grace, Matthew 25:3; and which flows from Christ, who is full thereof, and that in such great abundance, as to be expressed by rivers; see John 1:14.

(u) Fortunat. Schacch. Elaeochrysm. Myroth. l. 2. c. 79. p. 715.

When I washed my steps {d} with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil;

(d) By these comparisons he declares the great prosperity that he was in, so that he had no opportunity to be such a sinner as they accused him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. The second, though a less, element of his happiness was his overflowing abundance.

when I washed my steps] Or, when my steps were washed in butter, i. e. bathed—a figure for the overflowing abundance amidst which he walked.

the rock poured me out] As marg., poured out with me or beside me. The unfruitful rock poured out rivers of oil beside him; his blessings were so abundant that they came unsought and seemed above nature.Verse 6. - When I washed my steps with butter. Trod, as it were, upon fatness, moved amid all that was gladsome, joyful, and delicious. And the rock poured me out rivers of oil. "The rock" is probably the ground, rugged and stony, on which his olives grew. "Olives," says Dr. Cunningham Geikie, "flourish best on sandy or stony soil" ('The Holy Land and the Bible' vol. 1. p. 138) They brought him in so great a quantity of oil that the rock seemed to him to flow with rivers of it. 25 When He appointed to the wind its weight,

And weighed the water according to a measure,

26 When He appointed to the rain its law,

And the course to the lightning of the thunder:

27 Then He saw it and declared it,

Took it as a pattern and tested it also,

28 And said to man: Behold, the fear of the Lord is wisdom,

And to depart from evil is understanding.

It is impracticable to attach the inf. לעשׂות to Job 28:24 as the purpose, because it is contrary to the meaning; but it is impossible, according to the syntax, to refer it to Job 28:27 as the purpose placed in advance, or to take it in the sense of perfecturus, because in both instances it ought to have been יתכּן instead of תּכּן, or at least ותכּן with the verb placed first (vid., Job 37:15). But even the temporal use of ל in לפנות at the turn (of morning, of evening, e.g., Genesis 24:63) cannot be compared, but לעשׂות signifies perficiendo equals quum perficeret (as e.g., 2 Samuel 18:29, mittendo equals quum mitteret), it is a gerundival inf. Ngelsb. S. 197f., 2nd edition); and because it is the past that is spoken of, the modal inf. can be continued in the perf., Ges. 132, rem. 2. The thought that God, when He created the world, appointed fixed laws of equable and salutary duration, he particularizes by examples: He appointed to the wind its weight, i.e., the measure of its force or feebleness; distributed the masses of water by measure; appointed to the rain its law, i.e., the conditions of its development and of its beginning; appointed the way, i.e., origin and course, to the lightning (חזיז from חזז, Arab. ḥzz, secare). When He thus created the world, and regulated what was created by laws, then He perceived (ראהּ with He Mappic. according to the testimony of the Masora) it, wisdom, viz., as the ideal of all things; then He declared it, enarravit, viz., by creating the world, which is the development and realization of its substance; then He gave it a place הכינהּ (for which Dderl. and Ewald unnecessarily read הבינהּ), viz., to create the world after its pattern, and to commit the arrangement of the world as a whole to its supreme protection and guidance; then He also searched it out or tested it, viz., its demiurgic powers, by setting them in motion to realize itself.

If we compare Proverbs 8:22-31 with this passage, we may say: the חכמה is the divine ideal-world, the divine imagination of all things before their creation, the complex unity of all the ideas, which are the essence of created things and the end of their development. "Wisdom," says one of the old theologians,

(Note: Vid., Jul. Hamberger, Lehre Jak. Bhme's, S. 55.)

"is a divine imagination, in which the ideas of the angels and souls and all things were seen from eternity, not as already actual creatures, but as a man beholds himself in a mirror." It is not directly one with the Logos, but the Logos is the demiurg by which God has called the world into existence according to that ideal which was in the divine mind. Wisdom is the impersonal model, the Logos the personal master-builder according to that model. Nevertheless the notions, here or in the alter cognate portion of Scripture, Proverbs 8:22-31, are not as yet so distinct as the New Testament revelation of God has first of all rendered possible. In those days, when God realized the substance of the חכמה, this eternal mirror of the world, in the creation of the world, He also gave man the law, corresponding to which he corresponds to His idea and participates in wisdom. Fearing the supreme Lord (אדני) only here in the book of Job, one of the 134 ודאין, i.e., passages, where אדני is not merely to be read instead of יהוה, but is actually written),

(Note: Vid., Buxtorf's Tiberias, p. 245; comp. Br's Psalterium, p. 133.)

and renouncing evil (סוּר מרע, according to another less authorized mode of writing מרע), - this is man's share of wisdom, this is his relative wisdom, by which he remains in connection with the absolute. This is true human φιλοσοφία, in contrast to all high-flown and profound speculations; comp. Proverbs 3:7, where, in like manner, "fear Jehovah" is placed side by side with "depart from evil," and Proverbs 16:6, according to which it is rendered possible סור מרע, to escape the evil of sin and its punishment by fearing God. "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 1:7; comp. Psalm 111:10) is the symbolum, the motto and uppermost principle, of that Israelitish Chokma, whose greatest achievement is the book of Job. The whole of Job 28:1 is a minute panegyric of this principle, the materials of which are taken from the far-distant past; and it is very characteristic, that, in the structure of the book, this twenty-eighth chapter is the clasp which unites the half of the δέσις with the half of the λύσις, and that the poet has inscribed upon this clasp that sentence, "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom." But, moreover, Job's closing speech, which ends in this celebration of the praise of the חכמה, also occupies an important position, which must not be determined, in the structure of the whole.

continued...

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