Job 29:21
Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.

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.Unto me men gave ear - Job here returns to the time when he sat in the assembly of counsellors, and to the respectful attention which was paid to all that he said. They listened when he spoke; they waited for him to speak before they gave their opinion; and they were then silent. They neither interrupted him nor attempted a reply. 21. Job reverts with peculiar pleasure to his former dignity in assemblies (Job 29:7-10). Expecting till I spoke, and silently listening to my counsel, which they were confident would be like the oracle of God, wise, and just, and good, and preferring it before their own judgment.

Unto me men gave ear,.... Or give ear, or shall give ear, being all ear; all attention to him, listening to what he said with the utmost diligence and earnestness; even all sorts of men, high and low, rich and poor, princes, nobles, and common people; this they had done, and Job concluded they still would do the same; see Job 29:9;

and waited; patiently, without any weariness, with pleasure and delight, without giving any interruption, or wishing his discourse was ended; and though continuing ever so long, were not impatient until it was finished:

and kept silence at my counsel; which was the thing waited for, and which when given, it was to the highest satisfaction; they acquiesced in it, and showed their approbation of it by their silence, not having anything to object to it, any alteration to be made in it, or any thing to be added to it; but being so complete and full, they were ready to take it at once, and act according to it; Job's counsel being like that of Ahithophel, which was as the oracle of God, 2 Samuel 16:23.

Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21–25. Return to the main thought of the passage, his place among men, his brothers.

Verse 21. - Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel (comp. vers. 9, 10). Job, however, does not repeat himself, sines in the previous passage he is speaking of his work and office as judge, whereas now he declares the position which he had occupied among his countrymen as statesman and counsellor. Job 29:2121 They hearkened to me and waited,

And remained silent at my decision.

22 After my utterance they spake not again,

And my speech distilled upon them.

23 And they waited for me as for the rain,

And they opened their mouth wide for the latter rain.

24 I smiled to them in their hopelessness,

And the light of my countenance they cast not down.

25 I chose the way for them, and sat as chief,

And dwelt as a king in the army,

As one that comforteth the mourners.

Attentive, patient, and ready to be instructed, they hearkened to him (this is the force of שׁמע ל), and waited, without interrupting, for what he should say. ויחלּוּ, the pausal pronunciation with a reduplication of the last radical, as Judges 5:7, חדלּוּ (according to correct texts), Ges. 20, 2, c; the reading of Kimchi, ויחלוּ, is the reading of Ben-Naphtali, the former the reading of Ben-Ascher (vid., Norzi). If he gave counsel, they waited in strictest silence: this is the meaning of ידּמוּ (fut. Kal of דּמם); למו, poetic for ל, refers the silence to its outward cause (vid., on Habakkuk 3:16). After his words non iterabant, i.e., as Jerome explanatorily translates: addere nihil audebant, and his speech came down upon them relieving, rejoicing, and enlivening them. The figure indicated in תּטּף is expanded in Job 29:23 after Deuteronomy 32:2 : they waited on his word, which penetrated deeply, even to the heart, as for rain, מטר, by which, as Job 29:23, the so-called (autumnal) early rain which moistens the seed is prominently thought of. They open their mouth for the late rain, מלקושׁ (vid., on Job 24:6), i.e., they thirsted after his words, which were like the March or April rain, which helps to bring to maturity the corn that is soon to be reaped; this rain frequently fails, and is therefore the more longed for. פּער פּה is to be understood according to Psalm 119:131, comp. Psalm 81:11; and one must consider, in connection with it, what raptures the beginning of the periodical rains produces everywhere, where, as e.g., in Jerusalem, the people have been obliged for some time to content themselves with cisterns that are almost dried to a marsh, and how the old and young dance for joy at their arrival!

In Job 29:24 a thought as suited to the syntax as to the fact is gained if we translate: "I smiled to them - they believed it not," i.e., they considered such condescension as scarcely possible (Saad., Raschi, Rosenm., De Wette, Schlottm., and others); עשׂחק is then fut. hypotheticum, as Job 10:16; Job 20:24; Job 22:27., Ew. 357, b. But it does not succeed in putting Job 29:24 in a consistent relation to this thought; for, with Aben-Ezra, to explain: they did not esteem my favour the less on that account, my respect suffered thereby no loss among them, is not possible in connection with the biblical idea of "the light of the countenance;" and with Schlottm. to explain: they let not the light of my countenance, i.e., token of my favour, fall away, i.e., be in vain, is contrary to the usage of the language, according to which הפּיל פּנים signifies: to cause the countenance to sink (gloomily, Genesis 4:5), whether one's own, Jeremiah 3:12, or that of another. Instead of פּני we have a more pictorial and poetical expression here, אור פּני: light of my countenance, i.e., my cheerfulness (as Proverbs 16:15). Moreover, the אשׂחק אליהם, therefore, furnishes the thought that he laughed, and did not allow anything to dispossess him of his easy and contented disposition. Thus, therefore, those to whom Job laughed are to be thought of as in a condition and mood which his cheerfulness might easily sadden, but still did not sadden; and this their condition is described by לא יאמינוּ (a various reading in Codd. and editions is ולא), a phrase which occurred before (Job 24:22) in the signification of being without faith or hope, despairing (comp. האמין, to gain faith, Psalm 116:10), - a clause which is not to be taken as attributive (Umbr., Vaih.: who had not confidence), but as a neutral or circumstantial subordinate clause (Ew. 341, a). Therefore translate: I smiled to them, if they believed not, i.e., despaired; and however despondent their position appeared, the cheerfulness of my countenance they could not cause to pass away. However gloomy they were, they could not make me gloomy and off my guard. Thus also Job 29:25 is now suitably attached to the preceding: I chose their way, i.e., I made the way plain, which they should take in order to get out of their hopeless and miserable state, and sat as chief, as a king who is surrounded by an armed host as a defence and as a guard of honour, attentive to the motion of his eye; not, however, as a sovereign ruler, but as one who condescended to the mourners, and comforted them (נחם Piel, properly to cause to breathe freely). This peaceful figure of a king brings to mind the warlike one, Job 15:24. כּאשׁר is not a conj. here, but equivalent to כאישׁ אשׁר, ut (quis) qui; consequently not: as one comforts, but: as he who comforts; lxx correctly: ὃν τρόπον παθεινοὺς παρακαλῶν. The accentuation (כאשׁר Tarcha, אבלים Munach, ינחם Silluk) is erroneous; כאשׁר should be marked with Rebia mugrasch, and אבלים with Mercha-Zinnorith.

From the prosperous and happy past, absolutely passed, Job now turns to the present, which contrasts so harshly with it.

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