Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,Job 29:1. Job now goes on to finish his defence, and in order to it he first sets forth his condition in the time of his prosperity, against which he places, by way of contrast, his present unhappy situation, describing both with great beauty and elegance. He then proceeds to purge himself of the several crimes laid to his charge, imprecating on himself the divine vengeance, in various manners, in case he were guilty, and at last concludes that this was his plea, on this he would rest his defence: he was desirous it might be recorded, and prays that his cause might be brought to a decision, declaring he was under no manner of apprehensions of the consequences.
Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me;Job 29:2-3. O that I were as in months past — O that God would re- establish me in that happy condition wherein I was some time ago; in the days when God preserved me — From all those miseries which now I feel, and when I seemed to be a principal part of his care! You would then pay a greater regard to my words than you do now in my adversity. When his candle shined upon my head — When his favour and blessing attended me, to comfort and direct me. And when by his light I walked through darkness — Passed through many difficulties, dangers, and common calamities which befell others who lived near me, and overcame those troubles which happened to myself.
When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness;
As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle;Job 29:4. As I was in the days of my youth — In my former and flourishing days; when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle — When there was a secret blessing of God upon me and my family, succeeding us in all our affairs; and when God conversed freely with me, as one bosom friend with another; when I knew his mind, and was not in uncertainty respecting it, as I have been of late. It may be proper, however, to observe, that the word סוד, sod, here translated the secret, signifies not only secret counsels, in which sense it is used Amos 3:7, but also the assembly where such consultations are held, in which latter sense it is used much more frequently, as Psalm 89:8; Psalm 111:1; Jeremiah 6:11. And in this sense Sol. Jarchi understands it here. Thus interpreted, the meaning of the clause is, when the society of God, a company of devout persons, assembled in my tabernacle, namely, for divine worship, and other purposes of religion. In these meetings, no doubt, Job presided, and in them he took a great deal of pleasure, and it was no little grief to him to have them intermitted, and the persons that composed them scattered.
When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me;Job 29:5-6. When the Almighty was yet with me — On my side; whereas now he is against me, and hath forsaken me. When my children were about me — Or, servants, for the word נערי, nagnarai, signifies both. When the members of my family were wont to be present to join and assist in our religious services, and we had communion with God and with each other. When I washed my steps with butter — When I had all temporal blessings as well as spiritual, and abounded with all sorts of good things, which is often signified by this or such like phrases. When I had such numerous herds of cattle, and consequently such plenty of butter, that if I had so pleased I might have washed my feet with it. And the rock poured me out rivers of oil — When not only fruitful fields, but even barren and rocky places, (such as the part of Arabia where Job lived,) yielded me olive-trees and oil in great plenty: see Deuteronomy 32:13.
When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil;
When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street!Job 29:7. When I went out to the gate — When I went from my dwelling to the gate of the city, the place of judicature, which, as has often been observed, was in the gates. When I prepared my seat in the streets — When I caused the seat of justice to be set for me in that open place, as ברחוב, barechob, signifies, near the gate, where the people assembled for the administration of justice. By this, and several other expressions, it appears that Job was a magistrate or judge in his country.
The young men saw me, and hid themselves: and the aged arose, and stood up.Job 29:8-10. The young men saw me and hid themselves — Out of reverence to my person and dignity, or out of a consciousness of their guilt and folly, which they supposed I might understand either by information from others, or discover by their countenances, and for which they knew I would reprove them, and bring them to shame or other punishment. And the aged arose and stood up — While I either passed by them, or was present with them: so great was the veneration which they had for me, although you treat me with such contempt and scorn. The princes refrained talking — A general silence immediately ensued when I appeared, the great men themselves, who were high in office, breaking off their discourses, and not taking the liberty to speak a word till I had first given my opinion, which they readily approved of, and to which they fully assented. The nobles held their peace — Those who were distinguished by their birth and quality, and were superior to others in honour and dignity, could not have heard me with greater attention and stillness, if they had quite lost their voices, or their tongues had been tied to the roof of their mouths.
The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth.
The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth.
When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me:Job 29:11-12. When the ear heard me, then it blessed me — Prayed to God to bless me, and pronounced a blessing upon me, because of the integrity, justice, and wisdom which were observed in all my discourses and actions, and of the satisfaction which I gave to all; as well as on account of the relief which I afforded to the oppressed, by my equitable decrees in all causes which were brought before me. When the eye saw me it gave witness to me — Gave testimony to my pious, and just, and blameless conversation. Because I delivered the poor — From his potent oppressor. Men did not honour me for my great wealth or power, but for my impartial justice and pity to the afflicted, and courage in maintaining their cause and right against their mighty adversaries. The fatherless, and him that had none to help him — None would own or help them, partly because they were poor, and unable to recompense them for it, and partly because their enemies were great, and likely to crush both them and their helpers; which made Job’s virtue more remarkable.
Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him.
The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy.Job 29:13. The blessing of him that was ready to perish — Who was in danger of losing his life or estate, by the malice and tyranny of wicked men; came upon me — Both he, and others for his sake, blessed me, and begged that God would bless me. I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy — For her great and unexpected deliverance. Widows are the common objects of injuries and oppressions, because they are generally unable to defend themselves from the violence of their oppressors, or to offend those who molest them.
I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.Job 29:14. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me — As a garment covers the whole body, and is worn continually all the day long, so I was constantly just in the whole course of my administrations, public and private; and I never put off this clothing, out of partiality to myself, or respect to the persons of others, as the manner of many judges is. My judgment was as a robe and diadem — My judgments, or decrees, were so equal and righteous, that they never brought shame and reproach upon me, but rather honour and reputation; and I looked upon them as a greater ornament than the purple robe or the diadem.
I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame.Job 29:15-16. I was eyes to the blind — That is, instead of eyes, to instruct, direct, and assist such, as through ignorance or weakness were apt to mistake, and to be seduced or cheated by the craft and artifices of evil- minded men. And feet was I to the lame — That is, ready to help him who was unable to help himself. I was a father to the poor — For the poor I had such a tender affection, that I was as careful of their interest as if I had been their father, and was as ready to relieve them, and supply their wants, as if they had been my children. And the cause which I knew not I searched out — I was their advocate, as well as their judge, and never ceased considering their cause, when there was any obscurity in it, till I thoroughly understood it, that I might set it in a true light, cleared of all false colours, and do them justice. In all causes, especially in those which concerned the poor, I diligently inquired into the matters of fact, patiently and impartially heard both sides, laid all circumstances together, that might discover the truth and the merits of every cause; and then, and not till then, gave judgment upon it.
I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.
And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth.Job 29:17. I brake the jaws of the wicked — Hebrew, מתלעות, methallegnoth, dentes molares vel maxillas cum dentibus, the grinders, or the jawbones with the teeth, the sharpest and strongest teeth in the jaw; that is, the power and violence wherewith they used to oppress others. It is a metaphor taken from wild beasts, which tear and crush their prey with their teeth. And plucked the spoil out of his teeth — Forced him to restore what he had violently taken away.
Then I said, I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand.Job 29:18. Then I said — That is, I persuaded my self, being thus strongly fortified with the consciousness of my own universal integrity, and with the singular favour of God and of all men; I shalt die in my nest — Not a violent or untimely, but a natural, peaceable, and seasonable death, sweetly expiring in my own bed and habitation, in the midst of my children and friends, leaving the precious perfume of a good name behind me, and a plentiful inheritance to all my posterity. And I shall multiply my days as the sand — He means, as the sand on the sea-shore: whereas, we should rather reckon our days by the sand in the hour-glass, which will be all run out in a little time. See how apt even good men are to set death at a distance from them!
My root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon my branch.Job 29:19-20. My root was spread out by the waters — I was like a tree, whose root, spreading out itself by the waters, receives continual moisture and nourishment from the earth, so that it is in no danger of withering; and, being deeply fixed in the ground, is kept firm, so that it is in no danger of being overturned. And the dew lay all night upon my branches — I was watered by the divine favour and influence from above, as well as nourished from the earth beneath, and consequently prospered in soul as well as body, and was enriched with spiritual as well as temporal blessings. Let none think to support their prosperity or comfort with what they draw from the earth, without that blessing which is derived from heaven. My glory was fresh in me — My reputation did not wither and decay, but continued to grow every day. Through the divine favour he persevered and increased in all holiness and usefulness; and those about him had continually something new to say in his praise, so that, instead of losing any part of the love and respect paid him by his friends and neighbours, his honour and credit increased day by day; and his bow was renewed in his hand — That is, his power to protect himself, and to annoy those that assailed him, so that he thought he had as little reason as any man to fear the insults and injuries of the Sabeans and Chaldeans, or any other hostile power.
My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand.
Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel.Job 29:21-23. Unto me men gave ear — When I spake all men gave me the greatest attention, and my word was a law to them; and waited and kept silence, &c. — Expecting till I spake, and silently listening to my counsel, which they were confident would be wise, and just, and good, and preferring it to their own judgment. After my words they spake not again — Either to confute them as false, or to add any thing to them as being lame and imperfect. And my speech dropped upon them — Hebrew, תשׂŠ, tittop, distilled as the dew, as Ab. Ezra renders it, referring to Deuteronomy 32:2, where Moses, writing in the same style, says, My doctrine shall drop as the rain, &c. As rain is most acceptable and beneficial to the earth, not when it comes down in great and violent storms, but when it descends in moderate and gentle showers; so my words sweetly distilled upon them, and sunk into their hearts. And they waited for me as for the rain — They expected my opinion and advice, with silent attention, and with the same eager desire wherewith the husbandman expects the showers after he has sown his seed. And they opened their mouth wide — They gaped, as it were, with desire for my words, as the dry and parched earth thirsts and opens its mouth to receive the rain after a long, droughty season. Among the Egyptians, the heavens pouring down rain or dew, was the hieroglyphic, or emblem, of learning and instruction.
After my words they spake not again; and my speech dropped upon them.
And they waited for me as for the rain; and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain.
If I laughed on them, they believed it not; and the light of my countenance they cast not down.Job 29:24. If I laughed on them — That is, carried myself familiarly and pleasantly with them; they believed it not — It was so acceptable to them to see me well pleased with them, and cheerful among them, that they could scarcely believe their eyes and ears which testified that it was so. And the light of my countenance they cast not down — My familiarity with them did not produce presumption in them to say or do any thing that might grieve me, or make my countenance to fall. They were very cautious not to abuse my smiles, nor to give me any occasion to change my countenance or carriage toward them.
I chose out their way, and sat chief, and dwelt as a king in the army, as one that comforteth the mourners.Job 29:25. I chose out their way — They sought to me for advice in all doubtful and difficult cases, and I directed them what methods they should take; and sat chief — As a prince or judge, while they stood waiting for my counsel: Hebrew, ראשׁ, rosh, as their head, or ruler, and my word was as a law, or oracle to them. And dwelt as a king in the army — Whose presence puts life, and courage, and joy into the whole army. And no less acceptable was my presence to them. The word גדוד, gedud, here rendered army, is generally translated troops, as Genesis 49:19; Psalm 18:30. And Heath renders the last two clauses, “If I chose to travel with them, I had the most honourable place: I pitched my tent also as a king among the troop.” As one that comforteth the mourners — As I was able and ready to comfort any afflicted or sorrowful persons, so my consolations were always grateful and acceptable to them.