Job 21:24
His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with marrow.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) His breasts.—This is an uncertain word, occurring only here. Some understand it literally of milk-pails, others of the lacteals of the human body, which certainly suits the parallelism better.

21:17-26 Job had described the prosperity of wicked people; in these verses he opposes this to what his friends had maintained about their certain ruin in this life. He reconciles this to the holiness and justice of God. Even while they prosper thus, they are light and worthless, of no account with God, or with wise men. In the height of their pomp and power, there is but a step between them and ruin. Job refers the difference Providence makes between one wicked man and another, into the wisdom of God. He is Judge of all the earth, and he will do right. So vast is the disproportion between time and eternity, that if hell be the lot of every sinner at last, it makes little difference if one goes singing thither, and another sighing. If one wicked man die in a palace, and another in a dungeon, the worm that dies not, and the fire that is not quenched, will be the same to them. Thus differences in this world are not worth perplexing ourselves about.His breasts - Margin, "milk pails." The marginal translation is much the most correct, and it is difficult to understand why so improbable a statement has been introduced into our common version. But there has been great variety in the translation. The Vulgate renders it, Viscera ejus plena sunt adipe - "his viscera are full of fat." So the Septuagint, τὰ ἔγκατα ἀυτοῦ πλήρη στέατος ta engkata autou plērē steatos. The Syraic, "his sides;" Prof. Lee, "his bottles;" Noyes, "his sides;" Luther, "sein milkfass" - "his milk-pail;" Wemyss, "the stations of his cattle;" Good, "his sleek skin." In this variety of rendering, what hope is there of ascertaining the meaning of the word? It is not easy to account for this variety, though it is clear that Jerome and the Septuagint followed a different reading from the present, and instead of עטיניו ‛ăṭı̂ynāyv, they read בטיניו baṭı̂ynāyv - from בטן beṭen - "the belly;" and that instead of the word חלב châlâb as at present pointed, meaning "milk," they understood it as if it were pointed חלב cheleb - meaning "fat" - the same letters, but different vowels.

The word which is rendered "breast" (עטין ‛ăṭı̂yn) occurs nowhere else in the Hebrew Scriptures. It has become necessary, therefore, to seek its meaning in the ancient versions, and in the cognate languages. For a full examination of the word, the reader may consult Bochart, Hieroz. P. 1, Lib. ii. c. xliv., pp. 455, 458; or Rosenmuller, where the remarks of Bochart are abridged; or Lee on Job, "in loc." The Chaldee renders it ביזיו, "his breasts." So Junius et Tre. Piscator, and others. Among the rabbis, Moses Bar Nackman, Levi, and others, render it as denoting the breasts, or "mulctralia" - "milk-vessels," denoting, as some have supposed, "the lacteals." This idea would admirably suit the connection, but it is doubtful whether it can be maintained; and the presumption is, that it would be in advance of the knowledge of physiology in the times of Job. Aben Ezra explains it of the places where camels lie down to drink - an idea which is found in the Arabic, and which will well suit the connection.

According to this, the sense would be, that those places abounded with milk - that is, that he was prospered and happy. The Hebrew word עטין ‛ăṭı̂yn, as has been observed, occurs nowhere else. It is supposed to be derived from an obsolete root, the same as the Arabic "atana, to lie down around water, as cattle do;" and then the derivative denotes a place where cattle and flocks lie down around water; and then the passage would mean, "the resting places of his herds are full, or abound with milk." Yet the primary idea, according to Castell, Golius, and Lee, is that of saturating with water; softening, "scil." a skin with water, or dressing a skin, for the purpose of using it as a bottle. Perhaps the word was used with reference to the place where camels came to drink, because it was a place that was "saturated" with water, or that abounded with water. The Arabic verb, also, according to Castell, is used in the sense of freeing a skin from wool and hairs - a lana pilisve levari pellem - so that it might be dressed for use.

From this reference to a "skin" thus dressed, Prof. Lee supposes that the word here means "a bottle," arid that the sense is, that his bottles were full of milk; that is, that he had great prosperity and abundance. But it is very doubtful whether the word will bear this meaning, and whether it is ever used in this sense. In the instances adduced by Castell, Schultens, and even of Prof. Lee, of the use of the word, I find no one where it means "a skin," or denotes a bottle made of a skin. The application of the "verb" to a skin is only in the sense of saturating and dressing it. The leading idea in all the forms of the word, and its common use in Arabic, is "that of a place where cattle kneel down for the purpose of drinking," and then a place well watered, where a man might lead his camels and flocks to water. The noun would then come to mean a watering place - a place that would be of great value, and which a man who had large flocks and herds would greatly prize. The thought here is, therefore, that the places of this kind, in the possession of the man referred to, would abound with milk - that is, he would have abundance.

Are full of milk - Milk, butter and honey, are, in the Scriptures, the emblems of plenty and prosperity. Many of the versions, however, here render this "fat." The change is only in the pointing of the Hebrew word. But, if the interpretation above given be correct, then the word here means "milk."

And his bones are moistened with marrow - From the belief, that bones full of marrow are an indication of health and vigor.

24. breasts—rather, "skins," or "vessels" for fluids [Lee]. But [Umbreit] "stations or resting-places of his herds near water"; in opposition to Zophar (Job 20:17); the first clause refers to his abundant substance, the second to his vigorous health.

moistened—comparing man's body to a well-watered field (Pr 3:8; Isa 58:11).

His breasts: the Hebrew word is not elsewhere used, and therefore it is diversely translated; either,

1. Breasts. But that seems very improper here, because men’s breasts do not use to be filled with milk. Or,

2. Milk-pails. But their fulness is common, and no sign of eminent plenty, which is here designed. Besides, the following branch, which in Job and elsewhere frequently explains the former, implies that it signifies some part of man’s body, as all the ancient interpreters render it; either the sides, as some of them have it; or the bowels, as others. But for the following milk they read fat; the Hebrew letters being exactly the same in both words; and the Hebrews by the name of milk do oft understand fat.

His bones are moistened with marrow; which is opposed to the dryness of the bones, Job 30:30 Psalm 102:3, which is caused by old age, or grievous distempers or calamities.

His breasts are full of milk,.... As this is not literally true of men, some versions read the words otherwise; his bowels or intestines are full of fat, as the Vulgate Latin and Septuagint; and others, his sides or ribs are full of fat, as the Syriac and Arabic; the words for "side" and "fat" being near in sound to those here used; and so it describes a man fit and plump, and fleshy, when death lays hold upon him, and not wasted with consumptions and pining sickness, as in the case of some, Job 33:21; the word for breasts is observed by some (h) to signify, in the Arabic language, "vessels", in which liquors are contained, and in the Misnic language such as they put oil in, out of which oil is squeezed; and so are thought here to intend such vessels as are milked into; and therefore render it by milk pails; so Mr. Broughton, "his pails are full of milk" (i); which may denote the abundance of good things enjoyed by such persons, as rivers of honey and butter; contrary to Zophar's notion, Job 20:17; and a large increase of oil and wine, and all temporal worldly good; amidst the plenty of which such die:

and his bones are moistened with marrow; not dried up through a broken spirit, or with grief and trouble, and through the decays of old age; but, being full of marrow, are moist, and firm and strong; and so it intimates, that such, at the time when death seizes them, are of an hale, healthful, robust, and strong constitution; see Psalm 73:4.

(h) See Kimchi, Sepher Shorash. rad. and Jarchi and Ben Melech in loc. (i) "muletralia ejus", Montanus, Beza, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Bolducius, Drusius, Cocceius, Schmidt.

His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with marrow.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. His breasts are full of milk] Perhaps, his vessels are full of milk; but the meaning is uncertain, the word rendered “breasts” not occurring again. The word however has analogies in the cognate languages, and may mean vessels, or troughs, marg. milk-pails, the reference being to the plenty and richness of the man’s herds and possessions, though this is a figure for plenty in general. By a slight alteration in spelling the word “milk” means fat, and the ancient versions so read, translating, his inwards, or sides, are full of fat.

his bones are moistened with marrow] Rather, and the marrow of his bones is moistened, lit. watered, i. e. made fresh and strong. If the first clause be translated with the ancient Versions this clause is parallel in sense; otherwise, it describes the effect of his plenty on the man himself.

Verse 24. - His breasts are full of milk; rather, his milk-pails, as in the margin. The main wealth of the time being cattle, the man whose milk-pails are always full is the prosperous man. And his bones are moistened with marrow. Being thus wealthy and prosperous, his body is fat and well nourished. Verse 24. - And another dieth in the bitterness of his soul. Others have to suffer terribly before death comes to them. Their whole life is wretched, and their spirit is embittered by their misfortunes. And never eateth with pleasure; rather, and never tasteth of good (see the Revised Version). Job 21:2422 Shall one teach God knowledge,

Who judgeth those who are in heaven?

23 One dieth in his full strength,

Being still cheerful and free from care.

24 His troughs are full of milk,

And the marrow of his bones is well watered.

25 And another dieth with a sorrowing spirit,

And hath not enjoyed wealth.

26 They lie beside one another in the dust,

And worms cover them both.

The question, Job 21:22, concerns the friends. Since they maintain that necessarily and constantly virtue is rewarded by prosperity, and sin by misfortune, but without this law of the divine order of the world which is maintained by them being supported by experience: if they set themselves up as teachers of God, they will teach Him the right understanding of the conduct which is to be followed by Him as a ruler and judge of men, while nevertheless He is the Absolute One, beneath whose judicial rule not merely man, but also the heavenly spirits, are placed, and to which they must conform and bow. The verb למּד, instead of being construed with two acc., as in the dependent passage Isaiah 40:14, is here construed with the dat. of the person (which is not to be judged according to Job 5:2; Job 19:3, but according to διδάσκειν τινί τι, to teach one anything, beside the other prevailing construction). With והוא a circumstantial clause begins regularly: while He, however, etc. Arnh. and Lwenth. translate: while, however, He exaltedly judges, i.e., according to a law that infinitely transcends man; but that must have been מרום (and even thus it would still be liable to be misunderstood). Hahn (whom Olsh. is inclined to support): but He will judge the proud, to which first the circumstantial clause, and secondly the parallels, Job 35:2; Job 15:15; Job 4:18 (comp. Isaiah 24:21), from which it is evident that רמים signifies the heavenly beings (as Psalm 78:69, the heights of heaven), are opposed: it is a fundamental thought of this book, which abounds in allusions to the angels, that the angels, although exalted above men, are nevertheless in contrast with God imperfect, and therefore are removed neither from the possibility of sin nor the necessity of a government which holds them together in unity, and exercises a judicial authority over them. The rule of the all-exalted Judge is different from that which the three presumptuously prescribe to Him.

The one (viz., the evil-doer) dies בּעצם תּמּו, in ipsa sua integritate, like בעצם היום, ipso illo die; the Arabic would be fı̂ ‛yn, since there the eye, here the bone (comp. Uhlemann, Syr. Gramm. 58), denote corporeality, duration, existence, and therefore identity. תּם is intended of perfect external health, as elsewhere מתם; comp. תּמימים, Proverbs 1:12. In Job 21:23 the pointing שׁלאנן (adj.) and שׁלאנן (3 praet.) are interchanged in the Codd.; the following verbal adjective favours the form of writing with Kametz. As to the form, however (which Rd. and Olsh. consider to be an error in writing), it is either a mixed form from שׁאנן and שׁלו with the blended meaning of both (Ew. 106, c), to which the comparison with שׁליו ( equals שׁלו) is not altogether suitable, or it is formed from שׁאנן by means of an epenthesis (as זלעף from זעף, aestuare, and בלסם, βάλσαμον, from בשׂם), and of similar but intensified signification; we prefer the latter, without however denying the real existence of such mixed forms (vid., on Job 26:9; Job 33:25). This fulness of health and prosperity is depicted in Job 21:24. The ancient translators think, because the bones are mentioned in the parallel line, עטיניו must also be understood of a part of the body: lxx ἔγκατα, Jer. viscera; Targ. בּיזוי, his breasts, βυζία

(Note: Vid., Handschriftliche Funde, 2. S. V.)

(for Hebr. שׁדים, שׁד); Syr. version gabauh ( equals ganbauh), his sides in regard to עטמא, Syr. ‛attmo equals אטמא, side, hip; Saad. audâguhu, his jugular veins, in connection with which (not, however, by this last rendering) חלב is read instead of חלב: his bowels, etc., are full of fat.

continued...

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