Job 30:3
For want and famine they were solitary; fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and waste.
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Job 30:3. For want and famine — Brought upon them either by their own sloth or wickedness, or by God’s just judgment. Hebrew, בחסר, becheser, In want and famine, which aggravates their following solitude. They were solitary, &c. — Although want commonly draws persons to places of resort and company for relief, yet they were so conscious of their own guilt, and contemptibleness, and hatefulness to all persons, that they shunned all company, and for fear or shame fled into and lived in desolate places.

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.For want and famine - By hunger and poverty their strength is wholly exhausted, and they are among the miserable outcasts of society. In order to show the depth to which he himself was sunk in public estimation, Job goes into a description of the state of these miserable wretches, and says that he was treated with contempt by the very scum of society, by those who were reduced to the most abject wretchedness, and who wandered in the deserts, subsisting on roots, without clothing, shelter, or home, and who were chased away by the respectable portion of the community as if they were thieves and robbers. The description is one of great power, and presents a sad picture of his own condition.

They were solitary - Margin, or, "dark as the night." Hebrew גלמוד galmûd. This word properly means "hard," and is applied to a dry, stony, barren soil. In Arabic it means a hard rock. "Umbreit." In Job 3:7, it is applied to a night in which none are born. Here it seems to denote a countenance, dry, hard, emaciated with hunger. Jerome renders it, "steriles." The Septuagint, ἄγονος agonos - "sterile." Prof. Lee, "Hardly beset." The meaning is, that they were greatly reduced - or dried up - by hunger and want. So Umbreit renders it, "gantz ausgedorrt - altogether dried up."

Fleeing into the wilderness - Into the desert or lonely wastes. That is, they "fled" there to obtain, on what the desert produced, a scanty subsistence. Such is the usual explanation of the word rendered "flee" - ערק ‛âraq. But the Vulgate, the Syriac, and the Arabic, render it "gnawinq," and this is followed by Umbreit, Noyes, Schultens, and Good. According to this the meaning is, that they were "gnawers of the desert;" that is, that they lived by gnawing the roots and shrubs which they found in the desert. This idea is much more expressive, and agrees with the connection. The word occurs in Hebrew only in this verse and in Job 30:17, where it is rendered "My sinews," but which may more appropriately be rendered "My gnawing pains." In the Syriac and Arabic the word means to "gnaw," or "corrode," as the leading signification, and as the sense of the word cannot be determined by its usage in the Hebrew, it is better to depend on the ancient versions, and on its use in the cognate languages. According to this, the idea is, that they picked up a scanty subsistence as they could find it, by gnawing roots and shrubs in the deserts.

In the former time - Margin, "yesternight." The Hebrew word (אמשׁ 'emesh) means properly last night; the latter part of the preceding day, and then it is used to denote night or darkness in general. Gesenius supposes that this refers to "the night of desolation," the pathless desert being strikingly compared by the Orientals with darkness. According to this, the idea is not that they had gone but yesterday into the desert, but that they went into the shades and solitudes of the wilderness, far from the homes of men. The sense then is, "They fled into the night of desolate wastes."

Desolate and waste - In Hebrew the same word occurs in different forms, designed to give emphasis, and to describe the gloom and solitariness of the desert in the most impressive manner. We should express the same idea by saying that they hid themselves in the "shades" of the wilderness.

3. solitary—literally, "hard as a rock"; so translate, rather, "dried up," emaciated with hunger. Job describes the rudest race of Bedouins of the desert [Umbreit].

fleeing—So the Septuagint. Better, as Syriac, Arabic, and Vulgate, "gnawers of the wilderness." What they gnaw follows in Job 30:4.

in former time—literally, the "yesternight of desolation and waste" (the most utter desolation; Eze 6:14); that is, those deserts frightful as night to man, and even there from time immemorial. I think both ideas are in the words darkness [Gesenius] and antiquity [Umbreit]. (Isa 30:33, Margin).

Want and famine, brought upon them either by their own sloth or wickedness, or by God’s just judgment. Heb. In want and famine, which aggravates their following solitude. Although want commonly drives persons to places of resort and company for relief, yet they were so conscious of their own guilt, and contemptibleness, and hatefulness to all persons, that they shunned all company, and for fear or shame fled into and lived in desolate places.

For want and famine they were solitary,.... The Targum interprets it, without children; but then this cannot be understood of the fathers; rather through famine and want they were reduced to the utmost extremity, and were as destitute of food as a rock, or hard flint, from whence nothing is to be had, as the word signifies, see Job 3:7;

fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and waste: to search and try what they could get there for their sustenance and relief, fleeing through fear of being taken up for some crimes committed, or through shame, on account of their miserable condition, not caring to be seen by men, and therefore fled into the wilderness to get what they could there: but since men in want and famine usually make to cities, and places of resort, where provision may be expected; this may be interpreted not of their flying into the wilderness, though of their being there, perhaps banished thither, see Job 30:5; but of their "gnawing" (q), or biting the dry and barren wilderness, and what they could find there; where having short commons, and hunger bitten, they bit close; which, though extremely desolate, they were glad to feed upon what they could light on there; such miserable beggarly creatures were they: and with this agrees what follows.

(q) "qui rodebant in solitudine", V. L. "rodentes siccitatem", Schultens.

For want and famine they were solitary; fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and waste.
3. The verse reads,

With want and hunger they are gaunt,

They gnaw the desert, in former time desolate and waste.

The first clause refers to the “shriveled” appearance of these outcasts from want; the second to their devouring the roots which they can gather in the steppe (Job 30:4), which has for long been desolate and unproductive. The word rendered “they gnaw” occurs again of Job’s gnawing pains, Job 30:17. For “in former time,” i. e. for long, others translate darkness: the darkness of desolation and waste—a description of the desert.

3–8. Description of this wretched class of outcasts. The tenses should all be put in the present. The race of people referred to appears to be the same as that in ch. 24.

Verse 3. - For want and famine they were solitary; rather, they were gaunt (see the Revised Version). Compare the descriptions given to us of the native races of Central Africa by Sir S. Baker, Speke, Grant, Stanley, and others. Fleeing into the wilderness; rather, gnawing the wilderness; i.e. feeding on such dry and sapless roots and fruits as the wilderness produces. In former time desolate and waste; or, on the eve of wasteness and desolation. Job 30:3 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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