|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
30:1-14 Job contrasts his present condition with his former honour and authority. What little cause have men to be ambitious or proud of that which may be so easily lost, and what little confidence is to be put in it! We should not be cast down if we are despised, reviled, and hated by wicked men. We should look to Jesus, who endured the contradiction of sinners.
Verse 4. - Who cut up mallows by the bushes. One of the plants on which they feed is the malluch, not really a "mallow," but probably the Atriplex halimus which is "a shrub from four to five feet high, with many thick branches; the leaves are rather sour to the taste; the flowers are purple, and very small; it grows on the sea-coast in Greece, Arabia, Syria, etc., and belongs to the natural order Chenopodiace" (see Smith's 'Dict. of the Bible,' vol. 2. p. 215). And juniper roots for their meat. Most moderns regard the rothen as the Genista monosperma, which is a kind of broom. It is a leguminous plant, having a white flower. and grows plentifully in the Sinaitic desert, in Palestine, Syria, and Arabia. The root is very bitter, and would only be used as food under extreme pressure, but the fruit is readily eaten by sheep, and the roots would, no doubt, yield some nourishment (see Dr. Cunningham Geikie's work,' The Holy Land and the Bible,' vol. 1. p. 258).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Who cut up mallows by the bushes,.... Which with the Troglodytes were of a vast size (r); or rather "upon the bush" (s) or "tree"; and therefore cannot mean what we call mallows, which are herbs on the ground, and grow not on trees or bushes; and, besides, are not for food, but rather for medicine: though Plutarch (t) says they, were the food of the meaner sort of people; so Horace (u) speaks of them as such; and the word in the original is near in sound to a mallow; but it signifies something salt, wherefore Mr. Broughton renders it "salt herbs"; so Grotius, such as might grow by the seaside, or in salt marshes; and in Edom, or Idumea, where Job 54ed, was a valley of salt, see 2 Kings 14:7. Jarchi says it is the same with what the Syrians in their language call "kakuli", which with them is a kind of pulse; but what the Turks at this day call "kakuli" is a kind of salt herb, like to "alcali", which is the food of camels (x) the Septuagint render the word by "alima"; and, by several modern learned men, what is intended is thought to be the "halimus" of Dioscorides, Galen, and Avicenna; which is like unto a bramble, and grows in hedges and maritime places; the tops of which, when young and tender, are eaten, and the leaves boiled for food, and are eaten by poor people, being what soon filled the belly, and satisfied; and seem to be the same the Moors call "mallochia", and cry about the streets, as food for the poor to buy (y): however it appears upon the whole to be the tops or leaves of some sort of shrub, which Idumean people used to gather and live upon. The following story is reported in the Talmud (z) concerning King Jannai, who
"went to Cochalith in the wilderness, and there subdued sixty fortified towns; and, upon his return, he greatly rejoiced, and called all the wise men of Israel, and said unto them, our fathers ate "malluchim" (the word used in this text of Job) at the time they were employed in building the sanctuary; so we will eat "malluchim" on remembrance of our fathers; and they set "malluchim" on tables of gold, and they ate;''
which the gloss interprets herbs; the name of which, in the Syriac language, is "kakuli"; the Targum is, who plucks up thorns instead of eatable herbs. Some (a) render the word "nettles", see Job 30:7;
juniper roots for their meat, or "bread" (b); with the roots of which the poor were fed in time of want, as Schindler (v) observes: that bread may be, and has been made out of roots, is certain, as with the West Indians, out of the roots of "ages" and "jucca" (c); and in particular juniper roots in the northern countries have been used for bread (d); and there were a people in Ethiopia above Egypt, who lived upon roots of reeds prepared, and were called "rhisophagi" (e), "root eaters": some render the words, "or juniper roots to heat", or "warm with" (f), as the word is used in Isaiah 47:14; and coals of juniper have in them a very great and vehement heat, see Psalm 120:3; but if any part of the juniper tree was taken for this purpose, to warm with when cold, one should think the branches, or the body of the tree, should be cut down, rather than the roots dug up: another sense is given by some (g), that meat or bread is to be understood of the livelihood these persons got by digging up juniper roots, and selling them: there are others that think, that not the roots of juniper, but of "broom" (h), are meant, whose rape, or navew, or excrescence from the roots of it, seem to be more fit food. All this agrees with the Troglodytes, whom Pliny (i) represents as thieves and robbers, and, when pressed with famine, dig up herbs and roots: cutters of roots are reckoned among the worst of men by Manetho (k).
(r) Diodorus Siculus, l. 3. p. 175. (s) "super virgulto", Montanus, Schultens; "super arbustum", Bochart. (t) In symposio septem sap. (u) "-----me pascunt olivae. Me cichorea levesque malvae". Carmin. l. 1. Ode. 31. & Epod. Ode. 2.((x) Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 4. p. 760. (y) lbid. vid. Reinesium de Lingua Punic. c. 9. S. 20, 21. (z) T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 66. 1.((a) David de Pomis Lexic. fol. 80. 3.((b) "panis eorum", Montanus, Michaelis, Schultens. (v) Lexic. col. 1775. (c) Pet. Martyr. de Angleria, decad. 1. l. 1.((d) Olaus Magnus, de Ritu Gent. Septent. l. 12. c. 4. (e) Diod. Sic. l. 3. p. 159. (f) "Ad calefaciendum se", Pagninus; so Kimchi, Sepher Shorash rad, (g) Hillerus apud Schultens in loc. (h) "radix genistarum", Michaelis, Schultens; so some in Mercerus, Drusius, & Gussetius, p. 839. (i) Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 8. (k) Apotelesm. l. 5. v. 183.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. mallows—rather, "salt-wort," which grows in deserts and is eaten as a salad by the poor [Maurer].
by the bushes—among the bushes.
juniper—rather, a kind of broom, Spartium junceum [Linnæus], still called in Arabia, as in the Hebrew of Job, retem, of which the bitter roots are eaten by the poor.
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