Job 29:19
My root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon my branch.
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(19) My root was spread.—It is perhaps better to read this and the next verse in the present: “My root is spread out . . . and the dew lieth. My glory is fresh in me, and my bow is renewed.” (Comp. Genesis 49:24.)

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.

29:18-25 Being thus honoured and useful, Job had hoped to die in peace and honour, in a good old age. If such an expectation arise from lively faith in the providence and promise of God, it is well; but if from conceit of our own wisdom, and dependence on changeable, earthly things, it is ill grounded, and turns to sin. Every one that has the spirit of wisdom, has not the spirit of government; but Job had both. Yet he had the tenderness of a comforter. This he thought upon with pleasure, when he was himself a mourner. Our Lord Jesus is a King who hates iniquity, and upon whom the blessing of a world ready to perish comes. To Him let us give ear.My root was spread out by the waters - Margin, as the Hebrew, "opened." The meaning is, that it was spread abroad or extended far, so that the moisture of the earth had free access to it; or it was like a tree planted near a stream, whose root ran down to the water. This is an image designed to denote great prosperity. In the East, such an image would be more striking than with us. Here green, large, and beautiful trees are so common as to excite little or no attention. In such a country as Arabia, however, where general desolation exists, such a tree would be a most beautiful object, and a most striking image of prosperity; compare DeWette on Psalm 1:3.

And the dew lay all night upon my branch - In the absence of rain - which seldom falls in deserts - the scanty vegetation is dependent on the dews that fall at night. Those dews are often very abundant. Volney (Travels i. 51) says, "We, who are inhabitants of humid regions, cannot well understand how a country can be productive without rain, but in Egypt, the dew which falls copiously in the night, supplies the place of rain." See, also, Shaw's Travels, p. 379. "To the same cause also (the violent heat of the day), succeeded afterward by the coldness of the night, we may attribute the plentiful dews, and those thick, offensive mists, one or other of which we had every night too sensible a proof of. The dews, particularly, (as we had the heavens only for our covering), would frequently wet us to the skin." The sense here is, as a tree standing on the verge of a river, and watered each night by copious dews, appears beautiful and flourishing, so was my condition. The Septuagint, however, renders this, "And the dew abode at night on my harvest" - καί δρόσος ἀυλισθήσεται ἐν τῷ θερισμῷ μου kai drosos aulisthēsetai en tō therismō mou. So the Chaldee - וטלא בחצדי יבית. A thought, similar to the one in this passage, occurs in a Chinese Ode, translated by Sir William Jones, in his works, vol. ii. p. 351:

Vide illius aquae rivum

Virides arundines jucunde luxuriant!

Sic est decorus virtutibus princeps noster!

"Seest thou yon stream, around whose banks

The green reeds crowd in joyous ranks?

In nutrient virtue and in grace,

Such is the Prince that rules our race."

Dr. Good

19. Literally, "opened to the waters." Opposed to Job 18:16. Vigorous health. I was continually watered by Divine favour and blessing, as a tree which is constantly supplied with moisture, both in its root and branches, and consequently must needs be fruitful and flourishing.

My root was spread out by the waters,.... According to our version and others, Job here, and in the following verses, gives the reasons of his hope and confidence of his long life, and quiet and comfortable death amidst all his prosperity and happiness; which were founded upon his flourishing circumstances, and the great respect that was shown him among men; and this is the sense, if we read the words in the past tense, as we and many others do; or in the present tense, "my root is spread", &c. as others; but there are some interpreters, both Jewish and Christian (b), that render them in the future tense, here and to the end of the chapter; and so they are a continuation of Job's hope and trust, in the times of his prosperity, that things would always continue as they were with him, and much more abundantly; and indeed all is true of Job, in every sense, and all may be taken into the account; and that these words, and the following, as they describe what had been, and at the then present time, when he concluded the above in his mind, was his case, so they may also declare what he believed would be always his case to the end of his days. Here he compares himself to a tree well rooted and happily situated by plenty of water, and which may be expressive both of his temporal and spiritual prosperity: his outward prosperity seemed to him to have been well settled and established, being like a tree that had taken root, and was like to continue, being watered with the favour and blessing of God, which maketh rich; and as to his spiritual estate, he was like a tree planted by a river of water, to which good men are often compared in Scripture, Psalm 1:3; they are in general called trees of righteousness, and are sometimes likened to particular trees, as to olives, cedars, and palm trees; and some think, as Pineda, that it is to the latter Job here has respect; the last clause of Job 29:18 being in the Latin Vulgate version so rendered as to countenance this sense; and it may be observed that this tree having thick long leaves, and fruit full of juice, and its wood spongy, requires much water; and, as Pliny (c) says, delights in watery places; nor is it content with rain, but is better satisfied with waters flowing about it; hence it is often found necessary to dig about it, and lay its roots open, that the waters may more easily come at them, and flow about them (d) and so the words here in the original text are, "my root" was, is, or shall be "open to the waters" (e): good men, as they are rooted in the love of God, and in the person of Christ, so they have, as Job had, the root of the matter in them, the truth of grace, or a principle of grace; which is watered, and kept alive and flourishing, by the love and favour of God shed abroad in the heart; by fresh supplies of grace out of the fulness of Christ, who is the fountain of gardens, and well of living waters; and by the means of grace, the word and ordinances, the still waters to which saints are led, and by which they are made to lie down, and where they are watered, refreshed, and comforted:

and the dew lay all night upon my branch; so that the water being at his root below, and the dew on his branch above, he must be in a fruitful and flourishing condition: the dew is a great blessing to the earth, to trees, herbs, and plants, and the cause of great fertility; and this may respect Job's temporal happiness, in the health and prosperity of his children, who were to him what branches are to a tree; and in the affluence of worldly good things, with which through the blessing of God, as dew upon him, he abounded; and may also have regard to his spiritual affairs: believers in Christ are branches in him, as Job was one; and the dew of divine grace and favour lies upon them continually, even in the darkest seasons; which revives and refreshes their souls, and makes them fruitful in the exercise of grace, and performance of good works; see Proverbs 19:12; the dew falls in the night, and the sooner it fails the longer it lies, and is most useful: some render the words "upon my harvest", or "mowing" (f); the dew is of great use in harvest time; mowers and reapers choose the morning to work in, when the stalks are moistened by the dew; and which is of use to keep the ears of corn from shedding by swelling the fibres, and so retaining the grains in their proper places (g); see Isaiah 18:4.

(b) Jarchi, Ben Gerson, Bar Tzemach, Schmidt, Schultens. (c) Nat. Hist. l. 13. 4. (d) Palladius apud Scheuchzer, ut supra (Physic. Sacr. l. vol. 4.), p. 759. (e) "aperta ad aquas", Montanus, Bolducius, Mercerus, Cocceius, Schmidt, Michaelis, Schultens. (f) "in messe mea", Montanus, Tigurine version; "in segete mea", Cocceius; so the Targum. (g) Vid. Scheuchzer, ut supra. (Physic. Sacr. l. vol. 4. p. 759.)

My root was {n} spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon my branch.

(n) My happiness increases.

19. Comp. the image, ch. Job 14:8-9. The dew lying all night upon his branch would keep it fresh and green.

19, 20. These verses continue the description of Job’s outlook into the future in those happy days. They read better thus,

19.  My root shall be spread out to the waters,

And the dew shall lie all night upon my branch;

20.  My glory shall be fresh in me,

And my bow shall be renewed in my hand.

Verse 19. - My root was spread out by the waters (comp. Psalm 1:3; Jeremiah 17:8); rather, to the waters - so that the waters reached it and nourished it. And the dew lay all night upon my branch. Job compares himself, in his former prosperous state, to a tree growing by a river-side, which receives a double nourishment - from the actual water of the stream, which reaches its roots, and from the moisture evaporated from the stream, which hangs in the air, and descends in the shape of dew upon its leaves and branches. Both sources of refreshment represent the grace and favour of God. Job 29:1918 Then I:thought: With my nest I shall expire,

And like the phoenix, have a long life.

19 My root will be open for water,

And the dew will lodge in my branches.

20 Mine honour will remain ever fresh to me,

And my bow will become young in my hand.

In itself, Job 29:18 might be translated: "and like to the sand I shall live many days" (Targ., Syr., Arab., Saad., Gecat., Luther, and, among moderns, Umbr., Stick., Vaih., Hahn, and others), so that the abundance of days is compared to the multitude of the grains of sand. The calculation of the immense total of grains of sand (atoms) in the world was, as is known, a favourite problem of antiquity; and in the Old Testament Scriptures, the comprehensive knowledge of Solomon is compared to "the sand upon the sea-shore," 1 Kings 5:9, - how much more readily a long life reduced to days! comp. Ovid, Metam. xiv. 136-138; quot haberet corpora pulvis, tot mihi natales contingere vana rogavi. We would willingly decide in favour of this rendering, which is admissible in itself, although a closer definition like היּם is wanting by כחול, if an extensive Jewish tradition did not secure the signification of an immortal bird, or rather one rising ever anew from the dead. The testimony is as follows: (1) b. Sanhedrin 108b, according to which חול is only another name for the bird אורשׁינא,

(Note: The name is a puzzle, and does not accord with any of the mythical birds mentioned in the Zendavesta (vid., Windischmann, Zoroastrische Studien, 1863, S. 93). What Lewysohn, Zoologie des Talmuds, S. 353, brings forward from the Greek by way of explanation is untenable. The name of the bird, Vresha, in an obscure passage of the Bundehesch in Windischmann, ib. S. 80, is similar in sound. Probably, however, אורשׁינא is one and the same word as Simurg, which is composed of si ( equals sin) and murg, a bird (Pehlvi and Parsi mru). This si (sin) corresponds to the Vedic jena, a falcon, and in the Zend form, ana (na), is the name of a miraculous bird; so that consequently Simurg equals Sinmurg, Parsi Cnamru, signifies the Si- or Cna-bird (comp. Kuhn, Herabkunft des Feuers, 1859, S. 125). In אורשינא the two parts of the composition seem to be reversed, and אור to be corrupted from מור. Moreover, the Simurg is like the phoenix only in the length of its life; another mythological bird, Kuknus, on the other hand (vid., the art. Phnix in Ersch u. Gruber), resembles it also in rising out of its own ashes.)

of which the fable is there recorded, that when Noah fed the beasts in the ark, it sat quite still in its compartment, that it might not give more trouble to the patriarch, who had otherwise plenty to do, and that Noah wished it on this account the reward of immortality (יהא רעוא דלא תמות). (2) That this bird חול is none other than the phoenix, is put beyond all doubt by the Midrashim (collected in the Jalkut on Job, 517). There it is said that Eve gave all the beasts to eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree, and that only one bird, the חול by name, avoided this death-food: "it lives a thousand years, at the expiration of which time fire springs up in its nest, and burns it up to about the size of an egg;" or even: that of itself it diminishes to that size, from which it then grows up again and continues to live (וחוזר ומתגדל איברים וחיה). (3) The Masora observes, that כחול occurs in two different significations (בתרי לישׁני), since in the present passage it does not, as elsewhere, signify sand. (4) Kimchi, in his Lex., says: "in a correct Jerusalem MS I found the observation: בשׁורק לנהרדעי ובחלם למערבאי, i.e., וכחוּל according to the Nehardean (Babylonian) reading, וכחול according to the western (Palestine) reading;" according to which, therefore, the Babylonian Masoretic school distinguished וכחול in the present passage from וכחול, Genesis 22:17, even in the pronunciation. A conclusion respecting the great antiquity of this lexical tradition may be drawn (5) from the lxx, which translates ὥσπερ στέλεχος φοίνικος, whence the Italic sicut arbor palmae, Jerome sicut palma.

If we did not know from the testimonies quoted that חול is the name of the phoenix, one might suppose that the lxx has explained וכחול according to the Arab. nachl, the palm, as Schultens does; but by a comparison of those testimonies, it is more probable that the translation was ὥσπερ φοῖνιξ originally, and that ὥσπερ στέλεχος φοίνικος is an interpolation, for φοῖνιξ signifies both the immortal miraculous bird and the inexhaustibly youthful palm.

(Note: According to Ovid, Metam. xv. 396, the phoenix makes its nest in the palm, and according to Pliny, h. n. xiii. 42, it has its name from the palm: Phoenix putatur ex hujus palmae argumento nomen accepisse, iterum mori ac renasci ex se ipsa; vid., A. Hahmann, Die Dattelpalme, ihre Namen und ihre Verehrung in der alten Welt, in the periodical Bonplandia, 1859, Nr. 15, 16. Masius, in his studies of nature, has very beautifully described on what ground "the intelligent Greek gave a like name to the fabulous immortal bird that rises again out of its own ashes, and the palm which ever renews its youth." Also comp. (Heimsdrfer's) Christliche Kunstsymbolik, S. 26, and Augusti, Beitrge zur christl. Kunst-Geschichte und Liturgik, Bd. i. S. 106-108, but especially Piper, Mythologie der christl. Kunst (1847), i.446f.)

We have the reverse case in Tertullian, de resurrectione carnis, c. xiii., which explains the passage in Ps; Psalm 92:13, δίκαιος ὡς φοῖνιξ ἀντηήσει, according to the translation justus velut phoenix florebit, of the ales orientis or avis Arabiae, which symbolizes man's immortality.

(Note: Not without reference to Clemens Romanus, in his I. Ep. ad Corinth. c. xxv., according to which the phoenix is an Arabian bird, which lives five hundred years, then dies in a nest which it builds of incense, myrrh, and spices, and leaves behind it the larva of a young bird, which, when grown up, brings the nest with the bones of its father and places it upon the altar of the sun at the Egyptian Heliopolis. The source of this is Herodotus ii. 73) who, however, has an egg of myrrh instead of a nest of myrrh); and Tacitus, Ann. vi. 28, gives a similar narrative. Lactantius gives a different version in his poem on the phoenix, according to which this, the only one of its race, "built its nest in a country that remained untouched by the deluge." The Jewish tragedy writer, Ezekilos, agrees more nearly with the statement of Arabia being the home of the phoenix. In his drama Ἐξαγωγή, a spy sent forward before the pilgrim band of Israel, he states that among other things the phoenix was also seen; vid., my Gesch. der jd. Poesie, S. 219.)


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