Job 30:2
Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, in whom old age was perished?
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(2) Whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, is the description of the fathers; Job 30:3 seqq. describes their children. The people here spoken of seem to have been somewhat similar to those known to the ancients as Troglodytes (Herod. iv. 183, &c.), the inhabitants of caves, who lived an outcast life and had manners and customs of their own. They are desolate with want and famine. They flee into the wilderness on the eve of wasteness and desolation, or when all is dark (yester night), waste, and desolate. It is evident that Job must have been familiar with a people of this kind, an alien and proscribed race living in the way he mentions.

Job 30:2. Yea, whereto might their hands profit me? — Nor was it strange that I did, or might refuse to take them into any of my meanest services, being utterly impotent and unfit for any business; in whom old age was perished — Who were grown no wiser for being old. Or, rather, who had so wasted their strength and spirits by their evil courses, that when they came to old age they were debilitated, feeble, and useless for any labour. Accordingly, Houbigant interprets the clause, When all their health or strength was worn out; and others render it, In whom vigorous age was perished; that is, who were grown useless for service. For the word כלח, chelach, here rendered old age, is used only here and Job 5:26, where also it may be so rendered, Thou shalt come to thy grave in a vigorous, or mature age, having the vigour of youth even in thy old age, and until thy death, as Moses had. And if this word do signify old age, yet it signifies not every, but only a flourishing and healthful old age; as the Hebrews note, and the word may seem to imply; whence the LXX. also render it perfection, namely, of age, and of the endowments belonging to age.

30:1-14 Job contrasts his present condition with his former honour and authority. What little cause have men to be ambitious or proud of that which may be so easily lost, and what little confidence is to be put in it! We should not be cast down if we are despised, reviled, and hated by wicked men. We should look to Jesus, who endured the contradiction of sinners.Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me - There has been much difference of opinion respecting the meaning of this passage. The general sense is clear. Job means to describe those who were reduced by poverty and want, and who were without respectability or home, and who had no power in any way to affect him. He states that they were so abject and worthless as not to be worth his attention; but even this fact is intended to show how low he was himself reduced, since even the most degraded ranks in life did not show any respect to one who had been honored by princes. The Vulgate renders this, "The strength - virtus - of whose hands is to me as nothing, and they are regarded as unworthy of life." The Septuagint, "And the strength of their hands what is it to me? Upon whom perfection - συντέλεια sunteleia - has perished." Coverdale, "The power and strength of their hands might do me no good, and as for their age, it is spent and passed away without any profit." The literal translation is, "Even the strength of their hands, what is it to me?" The meaning is, that their power was not worth regarding. They were abject, feeble, and reduced by hunger - poor emaciated creatures, who could do him neither good nor evil. Yet this fact did not make him feel less the indignity of being treated by such vagrants with scorn.

In whom old age was perished - Or, rather, in whom vigor, or the power of accomplishing, anything, has ceased. The word כלח kelach, means "completion," or the act or power of finishing or completing anything. Then it denotes old age - age as "finished" or "completed;" Job 5:26. Here it means the maturity or vigor which would enable a man to complete or accomplish anything, and the idea is, that in these persons this had utterly perished. Reduced by hunger and want, they had no power of effecting anything, and were unworthy of regard. The word used here occurs only in this book in Hebrew JObadiah 5:26; Job 30:2, but is common in Arabic; where it refers to the "wrinkles," the "wanness," and the "austere aspect" of the countenance, especially in age. See "Castell's Lex."

2. If their fathers could be of no profit to me, much less the sons, who are feebler than their sires; and in whose case the hope of attaining old age is utterly gone, so puny are they (Job 5:26) [Maurer]. Even if they had "strength of hands," that could be now of no use to me, as all I want in my present affliction is sympathy. Nor was it strange that I did, or would. or might refuse to take them into any of my meanest services, because they were utterly impotent, and therefore unserviceable.

In whom old age was perished; or, lost; either,

1. Because they never attain to it, but are consumed by their lusts or cut off for their wickedness by the just hand of God, or men, in the midst of their days. Or,

2. Because they had so wasted their strength and spirits by their evil courses, that when they came to old age, they were feeble and decrepit, and useless for any labour. Or,

3. Because they had not that prudence and experience which is proper and usual in that age, by which they might have been useful, if not for work, yet to oversee and direct others in their work. But the words may be thus rendered, in whom vigorous age was perished, i.e. who were grown impotent for service. For the word here rendered old age, is used only here and Job 5:26, where also it may be so rendered, Thou shalt come to thy grave in a vigorous or mature age, having the rigour of youth even in thine old age, and until thy death, as Moses had. And if this word do signify old age, yet it signifies not every, but only a flourishing and vigorous, old age; as the Hebrews note, and the word may seem to imply; whence the LXX. interpreters also render it perfection, to wit, of age, and of thee endowments belonging to age.

Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me,.... For though they were strong, lusty, hale men, able to do business, yet their strength was to sit still and fold their hands in their bosoms, so that their strength was of no profit or avail to themselves or others; they were so slothful and lazy, that Job could not employ them in any business of his to any advantage to himself; and this may be one reason, among others, why he disdained to set them with the dogs of his flock to keep it; for the fathers seem to be intended all along to Job 30:8; though it matters not much to which of them the words are applied, since they were like father like son:

in whom old age was perished? who did not arrive to old age, but were soon consumed by their lusts, or cut off for their sins; and so the strength and labour of their hands, had they been employed, would have been of little worth; because the time of their continuance in service would have been short, especially being idle and slothful: some understand it of a lively and vigorous old age, such as was in Moses; but this being not in them, they were unfit for business, see Job 5:26; or they had not the endowments of old age, the experience, wisdom, and prudence of ancient persons, to contrive, conduct, and manage affairs, or direct in the management of them, which would make up for lack of strength and labour. Ben Gersom, Bar Tzemach, and others, interpret the word of time, or the time of life, that was perished or lost in them; their whole course of life, being spent in sloth and idleness, was all lost time.

Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, in whom old age was {c} perished?

(c) That is, their fathers died of hunger before they came to age.

2. The verse refers to the fathers (Job 30:1), and gives the reason why Job did not employ them, or consider them worthy of a treatment equal to that of his dogs—they were enfeebled and fallen into premature decay. Yet the children of these miserable people now have him in derision. In the East the “dogs of the flock” have only one use, viz. to guard the flock and the encampment from attacks by night.

Verse 2. - Yes, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me? Men, who had no such strength in their hands as to yield an employer any profit - poor, weak creatures, in whom old age (rather, manly vigour) was perished. An effete race seems to be pointed at, without strength or stamina, nerveless, spiritless, "destined to early decay and premature death;" but how they had sunk into such a condition is not apparent. Too often such remanents are merely tribes physically weak, whom more powerful ones have starved and stunted, driving them into the least productive regions, and in every way making life hard for them. Job 30:2 1 And now they who are younger than I have me in derision,

Those whose fathers I disdained To set with the dogs of my flock.

2 Yea, the strength of their hands, what should it profit me?

They have lost vigour and strength.

3 They are benumbed from want and hunger,

They who gnaw the steppe,

The darkness of the wilderness and waste;

4 They who pluck mallows in the thicket,

And the root of the broom is their bread.

With ועתּה, which also elsewhere expresses the turning-point from the premises to the conclusion, from accusation to the threat of punishment, and such like, Job here begins to bewail the sad turn which his former prosperity has taken. The first line of the verse, which is marked off by Mercha-Mahpach, is intentionally so disproportionately long, to form a deep and long breathed beginning to the lamentation which is now begun. Formerly, as he has related in the first part of the monologue, an object of reverential fear to the respectable youth of the city (Job 29:8), he is now an object of derision (שׂחק על, to laugh at, distinct from שׂחק אל, Job 29:24, to laugh to, smile upon) to the young good-for-nothing vagabonds of a miserable class of men. They are just the same עניּי ארץ, whose sorrowful lot he reckons among the mysteries of divine providence, so difficulty of solution (Job 24:4-8). The less he belongs to the merciless ones, who take advantage of the calamities of the poor for their own selfish ends, instead of relieving their distress as far as is in their power, the more unjustifiable is the rude treatment which he now experiences from them, when they who meanly hated him before because he was rich, now rejoice at the destruction of his prosperity. Younger than he in days (לימים as Job 32:4, with ל of closer definition, instead of which the simple acc. was inadmissible here, comp. on Job 11:9) laugh at him, sons of those fathers who were so useless and abandoned that he scorned (מאס ל, comp. מאס מן, 1 Samuel 15:26) to entrust to them even a service so menial as that of the shepherd dogs. Schult., Rosenm., and Schlottm. take שׁית עם for שׁית על, praeficere, but that ought to be just simply שׁית על; שׁית עם signifies to range beside, i.e., to place alike, to associate; moreover, the oversight of the shepherd dogs is no such menial post, while Job intends to say that he did not once consider them fit to render such a subordinate service as is that of the dogs which help the shepherds.

And even the strength of their (these youths') hands (גּם is referable to the suff. of ידיהם: even; not: now entirely, completely, as Hahn translates), of what use should it be to him: (למּה not cur, but ad quid, quorsum, as Genesis 25:32; Genesis 27:46.) They are enervated, good-for-nothing fellows: כּלח is lost to them (עלימו trebly emphatic: it is placed in a prominent position, has a pathetic suff., and is על for ל, 1 Samuel 9:3). The signif. senectus, which suits Job 5:26, is here inapplicable, since it is not the aged that are spoken of, but the young; for that "old age is lost to them" would be a forced expression for the thought - which, moreover, does not accord with the connection - that they die off early. One does not here expect the idea of senectus or senectus vegeta, but vigor, as the Syriac (‛ushino) and Arabic also translate it. May not כּלח perhaps be related to כּח, as שׁלאנן to שׁאנן, the latter being a mixed form from שׁאנן and שׁלו, the former from כּח and לח, fresh juicy vigour, or as we say: pith and marrow (Saft and Kraft)? At all events, if this is somewhat the idea of the word, it may be derived from כּלח equals כּלה (lxx συντέλεια), or some other way (vid., on Job 5:26): it signifies full strength or maturity.

(Note: From the root Arab. kl (on its primary notion, vid., my review of Bernstein's edition of Kirsch's Syr. Chrestomathie, Ergnzungsblatt der A.L.Z. 1843, Nr. 16 and 17) other derivatives, as Arab. kl', klb, klt, klṯ, klj, kld, klz, etc., develop in general the significations to bring, take, or hold together, enclose, and the like; but Arab. lkḥ in particular the signification to draw together, distort violently, viz., the muscles of the face in grinning and showing the teeth, or even sardonic laughing, and drawing the lips apart. The general signification of drawing together, Arab. šdd, resolves itself, however, from that special reference to the muscles of the face, and is manifest in the IV form Arab. kâlaḥa, to show one's self strict and firm (against any one); also more sensuously: to remain firm in one's place; of the moon, which remains as though motionless in one of its twenty-eight halting-places. Hence Arab. dahrun kâliḥun, a hard season, zmân šdı̂d and kulâḥun, kalâḥi (the latter as a kind of n. propr. invariably ending in i, and always without the article), a hard year, i.e., a year of failure of the crops, and of scarcity and want. If it is possible to apply this to כּלח without the hazardous comparison of Arab. qḥl, qlḥm, etc. so supra, p. 300], the primary signification might perhaps be that of hardness, unbroken strength; Job 5:26, "Thou wilt go to the grave with unbroken strength," i.e., full of days indeed, but without having thyself experienced the infirmities and burdens of the aetas decrepita, as also a shock brought in "in its season" is at the highest point of ripeness; Job 30:2 : "What (should) the strength of their hands profit me? as for them, their vigour is departed." - Fl.)

With Job 30:3 begins a new clause. It is גּלמוּד, not גּלמוּדים, because the book of Job does not inflect this Hebraeo-Arabic word, which is peculiar to it (besides only Isaiah 49:21, גּלמוּדה). It is also in Arab. more a substantive (stone, a mass) than an adj. (hard as stone, massive, e.g., Hist. Tamerlani in Schultens: Arab. 'l-ṣchr 'l-jlmûd, the hardest rock); and, similar to the Greek χέρσος (vid., Passow), it denotes the condition or attribute of rigidity, i.e., sterility, Job 3:7; or stiff as death, Job 15:34; or, as here, extreme weakness and incapability of working. The subj.: such are they, is wanting; it is ranged line upon line in the manner of a mere sketch, participles with the demonstrative article follow the elliptical substantival clause. The part. הערקים is explained by lxx, Targ., Saad. (Arab. fârrı̂n), and most of the old expositors, after ערק, Arab. ‛araqa, fut. ya‛riq, fugere, abire, which, however, gives a tame and - since the desert is to be thought of as the proper habitation of these people, be they the Seir remnant of the displaced Horites, or the Hauran "races of the clefts" - even an inappropriate sense. On the contrary, ‛rq in Arab. (also Pael ‛arreq in Syriac) signifies to gnaw; and this Arabic signification of a word exclusively peculiar to the book of Job (here and Job 30:17) is perfectly suitable. We do not, however, with Jerome, translate: qui rodebant in solitudine (which is doubly false), but qui rodunt solitudinem, they gnaw the sunburnt parched ground of the steppe, stretched out there more like beasts than men (what Gecatilia also means by his Arab. lâzmû, adhaerent), and derive from it their scanty food. אמשׁ שׁואה וּמשׁאה is added as an explanatory, or rather further descriptive, permutative to ציּה. The same alliterative union of substantives of the same root occurs in Job 38:27; Zephaniah 1:15, and a similar one in Nahum 2:11 (בוקה ומבוקה), Ezekiel 6:14; Ezekiel 33:29 (שׁמה ומשׁמה); on this expression of the superlative by heaping up similar words, comp. Ew. 313, c. The verb שׁאה has the primary notion of wild confused din (e.g., Isaiah 17:12.), which does not pass over to the idea of desolation and destruction by means of the intermediate notion of ruins that come together with a crash, but by the transfer of what is confusing to the ear to confusing impressions and conditions of all kinds; the desert is accordingly called also תּהוּ, Deuteronomy 32:10, from תּהה equals שׁאה (vid., Genesis, S. 93).

The noun אמשׁ nuon signifies elsewhere adverbially, in the past night, to grow night-like, and in general yesterday, according to which it is translated: the yesterday of waste and desolation; or, retaining the adverbial form: waste and desolation are of yesterday equals long since. It is undeniable that מאתמוּל and אתמוּל, Isaiah 30:33; Micah 2:8, are used in the sense pridem (not only to-day, but even yesterday); but our poet uses תּמול, Job 8:9, in the opposite sense, non pridem (not long since, but only of yesterday); and it is more natural to ask whether אמשׁ then has not here the substantival signification from which it has become an adverb, in the signification nightly or yesterday. Since it originally signifies yesterday evening or night, then yesterday, it must have the primary signification darkness, as the Arab. ams is also traceable to the primary notion of the sinking of the sun towards the horizon; so that, consequently, although the usage of Arabic does not allow this sense,


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