Job 30:4
Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for their meat.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 30:4. Who cut up mallows — Or, bitter herbs, as the word seems to import, which shows their extreme necessity; by the bushes — Or, by the shrubs, nigh unto which they grew. Or, with the bark of trees, as the Vulgate Latin renders it; and juniper-roots — Possibly the word may signify some other plant, for the Hebrews themselves are at a loss for the signification of the names of plants.

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.Who cut up mallows - For the purpose of eating. Mallows are common medicinal plants, famous for their emollient or softening properties, and the size and brilliancy of their flowers. It is not probable, however, that Job referred to what we commonly understand by the word mallows. It has been commonly supposed that he meant a species of plant, called by the Greeks Hallimus, a sunfish plant, or "salt wort," growing commonly in the deserts and poor land, and eaten as a salad. The Vulgate renders it simply "herbas;" the Septuagint, ἄλιμα alima. The Hebrew word, according to Umbreit, means a common salad of a saltish taste, whose young leaves being cooked, constituted food for the poorer classes. The Hebrew word מלוח mallûach is from מלח mâlach, "salt," and properly refers to a marine plant or vegetable.

By the bushes - Or among the bushes; that is, that which grew among the bushes of the desert. They wandered about in the desert that they might obtain this very humble fare.

And juniper-roots - The word here rendered "juniper" רתם rethem, occurs only in this place, and in 1 Kings 19:4-5; Psalm 120:4. In each place it is rendered "juniper." In 1 Kings is mentioned as the tree under which Elijah sat down when he fled into the wilderness for his life; In Psalm 120:4, it is mentioned as a material for making coals. "Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper." It is rendered "juniper" by Jerome, and by the rabbis. The verb (רתם râqab) occurs in Micah 1:13, where it is rendered "bind," and means to bind on, to make fast; and probably the plant here referred to received its name in some way from the notion of "binding" - perhaps because its long, flexible, and slender twigs were used for binding, or for "withes." There is no evidence, however, that the "juniper" is in any case intended. It denotes a species of "broom - spartium junceum" of Linn., which grows abundantly in the deserts of Arabia. It is the "Genista raetam" of Forskal. "Flora" Egypt. Arab. p. 214.

It has small variegated blossoms, and grows in the water-courses of the Wadys. Dr. Robinson (Bibl. Researches, i. 299) says, "The Retem is the largest and most conspicuous shrub of these de sects, growing thickly in the water-courses and valleys. Our Arabs always selected the place of encampment (if possible) in a place where it grew, in order to be sheltered by it at night from the wind; and, during the day, when they often went on in advance of the camels, we found them not unfrequently sitting or sleeping under a bush of Retem, to protect them from the sun. It was in this very desert, a day's journey from Beersheba, that the prophet Elijah lay down and slept beneath the same shrub. The roots are very bitter, and are regarded by the Arabs as yielding the best charcoal. The Hebrew name רתם rethem, is the same as the present Arabic name." Burckhardt remarks, that he found several Bedouins in the Wady Genne collecting brushwood, which they burned into charcoal for the Egyptian market, and adds that they preferred for this purpose the thick roots of the shrub Rethem, which grew there in abundance. Travels in Syria, p. 483. It could have been only those who were reduced to the utmost penury and want that could have made use of the roots of this shrub for food, and this is doubtless the idea which Job means to convey. It is said to have been occasionally used for food by the poor. See Gesenius, Lex.; Umbreit in loc., and Schultens. A description of the condition of the poor, remarkably similar to this, occurs in Lucan, Lib. vii.;

- Cernit miserabile vulgus

In pecudum cecidisse cibos, et carpere dumos

Et morsu spoliare nemus.

Biddulph (in the collection of Voyages from the Library of the Earl of Oxford, p. 807), says he had seen many poor people in Syria gather mallows and clover, and when he had asked them what they designed to do with it, they answered that it was for food. They cooked and ate them. Herodotus, viii. 115, says, that the army of Xerxes, after their defeat, when they had consumed all the grain of the inhabitants in Thessaly, "fed on the natural produce of the earth, stripping wild and cultivated trees alike of their bark and leaves, to such an extremity of famine were they come."

4. mallows—rather, "salt-wort," which grows in deserts and is eaten as a salad by the poor [Maurer].

by the bushes—among the bushes.

juniper—rather, a kind of broom, Spartium junceum [Linnæus], still called in Arabia, as in the Hebrew of Job, retem, of which the bitter roots are eaten by the poor.

Mallows; or, purslain, or salt or bitter herbs, as the word seems to import, which shows their extreme necessity.

By the bushes; or, by the shrubs, nigh unto which they grew; or, with the barks of trees, as the Vulgar Latin renders it.

Juniper roots: possibly the word may signify some other plant, for the Hebrews themselves are at a loss for the signification of the names of plants.

Who cut up mallows by the bushes,.... Which with the Troglodytes were of a vast size (r); or rather "upon the bush" (s) or "tree"; and therefore cannot mean what we call mallows, which are herbs on the ground, and grow not on trees or bushes; and, besides, are not for food, but rather for medicine: though Plutarch (t) says they, were the food of the meaner sort of people; so Horace (u) speaks of them as such; and the word in the original is near in sound to a mallow; but it signifies something salt, wherefore Mr. Broughton renders it "salt herbs"; so Grotius, such as might grow by the seaside, or in salt marshes; and in Edom, or Idumea, where Job 54ed, was a valley of salt, see 2 Kings 14:7. Jarchi says it is the same with what the Syrians in their language call "kakuli", which with them is a kind of pulse; but what the Turks at this day call "kakuli" is a kind of salt herb, like to "alcali", which is the food of camels (x) the Septuagint render the word by "alima"; and, by several modern learned men, what is intended is thought to be the "halimus" of Dioscorides, Galen, and Avicenna; which is like unto a bramble, and grows in hedges and maritime places; the tops of which, when young and tender, are eaten, and the leaves boiled for food, and are eaten by poor people, being what soon filled the belly, and satisfied; and seem to be the same the Moors call "mallochia", and cry about the streets, as food for the poor to buy (y): however it appears upon the whole to be the tops or leaves of some sort of shrub, which Idumean people used to gather and live upon. The following story is reported in the Talmud (z) concerning King Jannai, who

"went to Cochalith in the wilderness, and there subdued sixty fortified towns; and, upon his return, he greatly rejoiced, and called all the wise men of Israel, and said unto them, our fathers ate "malluchim" (the word used in this text of Job) at the time they were employed in building the sanctuary; so we will eat "malluchim" on remembrance of our fathers; and they set "malluchim" on tables of gold, and they ate;''

which the gloss interprets herbs; the name of which, in the Syriac language, is "kakuli"; the Targum is, who plucks up thorns instead of eatable herbs. Some (a) render the word "nettles", see Job 30:7;

juniper roots for their meat, or "bread" (b); with the roots of which the poor were fed in time of want, as Schindler (v) observes: that bread may be, and has been made out of roots, is certain, as with the West Indians, out of the roots of "ages" and "jucca" (c); and in particular juniper roots in the northern countries have been used for bread (d); and there were a people in Ethiopia above Egypt, who lived upon roots of reeds prepared, and were called "rhisophagi" (e), "root eaters": some render the words, "or juniper roots to heat", or "warm with" (f), as the word is used in Isaiah 47:14; and coals of juniper have in them a very great and vehement heat, see Psalm 120:3; but if any part of the juniper tree was taken for this purpose, to warm with when cold, one should think the branches, or the body of the tree, should be cut down, rather than the roots dug up: another sense is given by some (g), that meat or bread is to be understood of the livelihood these persons got by digging up juniper roots, and selling them: there are others that think, that not the roots of juniper, but of "broom" (h), are meant, whose rape, or navew, or excrescence from the roots of it, seem to be more fit food. All this agrees with the Troglodytes, whom Pliny (i) represents as thieves and robbers, and, when pressed with famine, dig up herbs and roots: cutters of roots are reckoned among the worst of men by Manetho (k).

(r) Diodorus Siculus, l. 3. p. 175. (s) "super virgulto", Montanus, Schultens; "super arbustum", Bochart. (t) In symposio septem sap. (u) "-----me pascunt olivae. Me cichorea levesque malvae". Carmin. l. 1. Ode. 31. & Epod. Ode. 2.((x) Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 4. p. 760. (y) lbid. vid. Reinesium de Lingua Punic. c. 9. S. 20, 21. (z) T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 66. 1.((a) David de Pomis Lexic. fol. 80. 3.((b) "panis eorum", Montanus, Michaelis, Schultens. (v) Lexic. col. 1775. (c) Pet. Martyr. de Angleria, decad. 1. l. 1.((d) Olaus Magnus, de Ritu Gent. Septent. l. 12. c. 4. (e) Diod. Sic. l. 3. p. 159. (f) "Ad calefaciendum se", Pagninus; so Kimchi, Sepher Shorash rad, (g) Hillerus apud Schultens in loc. (h) "radix genistarum", Michaelis, Schultens; so some in Mercerus, Drusius, & Gussetius, p. 839. (i) Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 8. (k) Apotelesm. l. 5. v. 183.

Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for their meat.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. by the bushes] i. e. beside or among the bushes. The “mallows” or “salt-wort” which they pluck as food is found among the bushes, which cover it from the heat and drought, and under the shadow of which it thrives.

juniper roots] Or, roots of the broom.

Verse 4. - Who cut up mallows by the bushes. One of the plants on which they feed is the malluch, not really a "mallow," but probably the Atriplex halimus which is "a shrub from four to five feet high, with many thick branches; the leaves are rather sour to the taste; the flowers are purple, and very small; it grows on the sea-coast in Greece, Arabia, Syria, etc., and belongs to the natural order Chenopodiace" (see Smith's 'Dict. of the Bible,' vol. 2. p. 215). And juniper roots for their meat. Most moderns regard the rothen as the Genista monosperma, which is a kind of broom. It is a leguminous plant, having a white flower. and grows plentifully in the Sinaitic desert, in Palestine, Syria, and Arabia. The root is very bitter, and would only be used as food under extreme pressure, but the fruit is readily eaten by sheep, and the roots would, no doubt, yield some nourishment (see Dr. Cunningham Geikie's work,' The Holy Land and the Bible,' vol. 1. p. 258). Job 30:4 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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