Job 29:9
The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) The princes retrained talking.—Comp. Isaiah 52:15.

29:7-17 All sorts of people paid respect to Job, not only for the dignity of his rank, but for his personal merit, his prudence, integrity, and good management. Happy the men who are blessed with such gifts as these! They have great opportunities of honouring God and doing good, but have great need to watch against pride. Happy the people who are blessed with such men! it is a token for good to them. Here we see what Job valued himself by, in the day of his prosperity. It was by his usefulness. He valued himself by the check he gave to the violence of proud and evil men. Good magistrates must thus be a restraint to evil-doers, and protect the innocent; in order to this, they should arm themselves with zeal and resolution. Such men are public blessings, and resemble Him who rescues poor sinners from Satan. How many who were ready to perish, now are blessing Him! But who can show forth His praises? May we trust in His mercy, and seek to imitate His truth, justice, and love.The princes refrained talking - As a mark of respect, or in awe of his presence.

And laid their hand on their mouth - To lay the finger or the hand on the mouth is every where an action expressive of silence or respect; Notes, Job 21:5. "In one of the subterranean vaults of Egypt, where the mummies lie buried, they found in the coffin an embalmed body of a woman, before which was placed a figure of wood, representing a youth on his knees, laying a finger on his mouth, and holding in his other hand a sort of chafing dish, which was placed on his head, and in which, without doubt, had been some perfumes." Maillet.

9. (Job 4:2; see on [528]Job 21:5).

Refrained talking—stopped in the middle of their speech.

Refrained talking; either fearing that I should discern their weakness by their words; or desiring to hear my words and sentence, which they readily approved of, and fully assented to. Such an opinion had they of my wisdom, and did not think me such a foolish, erroneous, and impertinent person as you fancy or represent me to be.

Laid their hand on their mouth, in token both of their wonder at Job’s wise speeches and sentences, and of their resolution to be silent. See Job 21:5 Proverbs 30:32. The princes refrained talking,.... Who were in court before Job came in, and were either talking with one another about indifferent matters, or were giving their opinion in a case before them; but no sooner did Job make his appearance, but they left off talking, and would not proceed any further; they laid a restraint upon their words, and curbed themselves from speaking any more till they had heard his opinion:

and laid their hand on their mouth; as a token of silence, Judges 18:19.

The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their {f} mouth.

(f) Acknowledging my wisdom.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9, 10. The meaning seems to be that Job’s arrival put a stop to speech and discussion already going on, which was not resumed until he should be heard.Verse 9. - The princes refrained talking. The other head-men of the tribe, recognizing Job's superior rank and dignity, refrained from words as soon as he made his appearance, and in silence awaited what he would say. Perhaps we are scarcely to understand literally the further statement that they laid their hand on their mouth, which is probably as much an idiom as our phrase, "they held their tongues "(comp. Job 21:5). 1 Then Job continued to take up his proverb, and said:

2 O that I had months like the times of yore,

Like the days when Eloah protected me,

3 When He, when His lamp, shone above my head,

By His light I went about in the darkness;

4 As I was in the days of my vintage,

When the secret of Eloah was over my tent,

5 When the Almighty was still with me,

My children round about me;

6 When my steps were bathed in cream,

And the rock beside me poured forth streams of oil.

Since the optative מי־יתּן (comp. on Job 23:3) is connected with the acc. of the object desired, Job 14:4; Job 31:31, or of that respecting which anything is desired, Job 11:5, it is in itself possible to explain: who gives (makes) me like the months of yore; but since, when מי־יתּנני occurs elsewhere, Isaiah 27:4; Jeremiah 9:1, the suff. is meant as the dative ( equals מי־יתן לי, Job 31:35), it is also here to be explained: who gives me ( equals O that one would give me, O that I had) like (instar) the months of yore, i.e., months like those of the past, and indeed those that lie far back in the past; for ירחי־קדם means more than עברוּ (אשׁר) ירחים. Job begins to describe the olden times, that he wishes back, with the virtually genitive relative clause: "when Eloah protected me" (Ges. 116, 3). It is impossible to take בּהלּו as Hiph.: when He caused to shine (Targ. בּאנהרוּתיהּ); either בּההלּו (Olsh.) or even בּהלּו (Ew. in his Comm.) ought to be read then. On the other hand, הלּו can be justified as the form for inf. Kal of הלל (to shine, vid., Job 25:5) with a weakening of the a to i((Ew. 255, a), and the suff. may, according to the syntax, be taken as an anticipatory statement of the object: when it, viz., His light, shone above my head; comp. Exodus 2:6 (him, the boy), Isaiah 17:6 (its, the fruit-tree's, branches), also Isaiah 29:23 (he, his children); and Ew. 309, c, also decides in its favour. Nevertheless it commends itself still more to refer the suff. of בהלו to אלוהּ (comp. Isaiah 60:2; Psalm 50:2), and to take נרו as a corrective, explanatory permutative: when He, His lamp, shone above my head, as we have translated. One is at any rate reminded of Isaiah 60 in connection with Job 29:3; for as בהלו corresponds to יזרח there, so לאורו corresponds to לאורך in the Job 29:3 of the same: by His light I walked in darkness (חשׁך locative equals בּחשׁך), i.e., rejoicing in His light, which preserved me from its dangers (straying and falling).

In Job 29:4 כּאשׁר is not a particle of time, but of comparison, which was obliged here to stand in the place of the כּ, which is used only as a preposition. And חרפּי (to be written thus, not חרפי with an aspirated )פ may not be translated "(in the days) of my spring," as Symm. ἐν ἡμέραις νεότητός μου, Jer. diebus adolescentiae meae, and Targ. בּיומי חריפוּתי, whether it be that חריפות here signifies the point, ἀκμή (from חרף, Arab. ḥrf, acuere), or the early time (spring time, from חרף, Arab. chrf, carpere). For in reference to agriculture חרף can certainly signify the early half of the year (on this, vid., Genesis, S. 270), inasmuch as sowing and ploughing time in Palestine and Syria is in November and December; wherefore Arab. chrı̂f signifies the early rain or autumn rain; and in Talmudic, חרף, premature (ripe too early), is the opposite of אפל, late, but the derivatives of חרף only obtain this signification connotative, for, according to its proper signification, חרף (Arab. chrı̂f with other forms) is the gathering time, i.e., the time of the fruit harvest (syn. אסיף), while the Hebr. אביב (אב) corresponds to the spring in our sense. If Job meant his youth, he would have said בּימי אבּי, or something similar; but as Job 29:5 shows, he meant his manhood, and this he calls his autumn as the season of maturity, or rather of the abundance of fruits (Schult.: aetatem virilem suis fructibus faetum et exuberantum),

(Note: The fresh vegetation, indeed, in hotter districts (e.g., in the valley of the Jordan and Euphrates) begins with the arrival of the autumnal rains, but the real spring (comp. Sol 2:11-13) only begins about the vernal equinox, and still later on the mountains. On the contrary, the late summer, קיץ, which passes over into the autumn, חרף, is the season for gathering the fruit. The produce of the fields, garden fruit, and grapes ripen before the commencement of the proper autumn; some (when the land can be irrigated) summer fruits, e.g., Dhura (maize) and melons, in like manner olives and dates, ripen in autumn. Therefore the translation, in the days of my autumn ("of my harvest"), is the only correct one. If חרפּי were intended here in a sense not used elsewhere, it might signify, according to the Arabic with h, "(in the days) of my prosperity," or "my power," or even with Arab. ch, "(in the days) of my youthful vigour;" for charâfât are rash words and deeds, charfân one who says or does anything rash from lightness, the feebleness of old age, etc. (according to Wetzst., very common words in Syria): חרף or חרף, therefore the thoughtlessness of youth, Arab. jahl, i.e., the rash desire of doing something great, which חרף הנפש למות (Judges 5:18). But it is most secure to go back to חרף, Arab. chrf, carpere, viz., fructus.)

continued...

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