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JOB 29

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Job's Past Was Glorious Job's Summary Defense
(29:1-31:40)
The Final Defense of Job
(29:1-31:40)
Job's Final Statement of His Case
(29:1-31:40)
Job's Complaints and Apologia; His former Happiness
29:1-20
(1-20)
29:1 29:1-20
(2-20)
29:1-10
(2-10)
29:1
  29:2-6
(2-6)
    29:2-10; 29:21-25
(2-10; 21-25)
  29:7-17
(7-17)
     
      29:11-17
(11-17)
29:11-20
(11-20)
  29:18-20
(18-20)
  29:18-25
(18-25)
 
29:21-25
(21-25)
29:21-25
(21-25)
29:21-25
(21-25)
   

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. A brief outline of this section of Job.

1. Job 27 is Job's last reply of the third cycle of speeches by his three comforters (Job 3-27).

2. Job 28 is a separate monologue on wisdom (possibly by the author/editor).

3. Job 29-31 form a literary unit (i.e., a soliloquy of Job).

a. Job 29 deals with Job's happy past

b. Job 30 deals with the discouraging present

c. Job 31 is the concluding legal claim of innocence

 

B. Job 29-31 is an amplification of Job 28:28. It is one of our best examples of ANE ethics in Job's day (faith and life must not be separated).

 

C. Job describes how God was with him.

1. God watched over me, Job 29:2b

2. God's lamp shone over my head, Job 29:3a

3. God's light was with him, Job 29:3b

4. he had God's counsel, Job 28:4b

5. the Almighty was with me, Job 29:5a

Remember, in the ANE, honor was an important aspect of happiness. Shame was the most feared condition. Job knew both well!

 

D. Job remembers the good things of his past life.

1. God was with him (see C)

2. his children were around him, Job 29:5b

3. he was prosperous, Job 29:6

4. he was a well respected leader of his community, Job 29:7-11,18-20,21-25

 

E. Job lists the people he helped.

1. delivered the poor, Job 29:12a

2. delivered the orphan, Job 29:12b

3. blessed the one about to perish, Job 29:13a

4. blessed the widow, Job 29:13b

5. helped the blind, Job 29:15a

6. helped the lame, Job 29:15b

7. helped the needy, Job 29:16a

8. was a legal advocate for the stranger, Job 29:16b

9. defended against the attacks of the wicked, Job 29:17

10. comforted mourners, Job 29:25c

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 29:1-20
 1And Job again took up his discourse and said,
 2"Oh that I were as in months gone by,
 As in the days when God watched over me;
 3When His lamp shone over my head,
 And by His light I walked through darkness;
 4As I was in the prime of my days,
 When the friendship of God was over my tent;
 5When the Almighty was yet with me,
 And my children were around me;
 6When my steps were bathed in butter,
 And the rock poured out for me streams of oil!
 7When I went out to the gate of the city,
 When I took my seat in the square,
 8The young men saw me and hid themselves,
 And the old men arose and stood.
 9The princes stopped talking
 And put their hands on their mouths;
 10The voice of the nobles was hushed,
 And their tongue stuck to their palate.
 11For when the ear heard, it called me blessed,
 And when the eye saw, it gave witness of me,
 12Because I delivered the poor who cried for help,
 And the orphan who had no helper.
 13The blessing of the one ready to perish came upon me,
 And I made the widow's heart sing for joy.
 14I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;
 My justice was like a robe and a turban.
 15I was eyes to the blind
 And feet to the lame.
 16I was a father to the needy,
 And I investigated the case which I did not know.
 17I broke the jaws of the wicked
 And snatched the prey from his teeth.
 18Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest,
 And I shall multiply my days as the sand.
 19‘My root is spread out to the waters,
 And dew lies all night on my branch.
 20My glory is ever new with me,
 And my bow is renewed in my hand.'"

29:2 "Oh that I were as in months gone by" Job 29 describes the "good old days" when Job lived in righteousness and prosperity. This is contrasted with Job 30:1,9,16, where the phrase "but now" is used to describe Job's current condition.

▣ "As in the days when God watched over me" Job 29:2b through 17 describes God's blessing and protection over Job.

29:3 "His lamp shone over my head" See Ps. 18:28; 36:9; 97:11; 112:4.

▣ "by His light I walked through darkness" There were days of problems but God was with him (cf. Job 22:28; Ps. 23:4; 119:105; Isa. 50:10; Micah 7:8).

29:4 "As I was in the prime of my days" This is literally "days of autumn" (BDB 398 construct BDB 358). This refers to the days of youthful activity (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 2, pp. 279,285).

NASB,
NRSV,
TEV"friendship of God"
NKJV"counsel of God"
NJB, REB"God protected"
Peshitta"in favor"
JPSOA"God's company"
Emphasized
Bible"the intimacy of God"

The MT has BDB 691 construct BDB 42, which meant

1. close friends, Job 19:15

2. secret counsel of God, Job 15:8; Jer. 23:18,22

3. assembly, Ps. 55:14; 111:1

4. intimacy, Pro. 3:32b (this connotation is BDB's suggestion)

The idea of protection comes from the LXX, which involves a change in one consonant. UBS Text Project, p. 91, gives "counsel" a "B" rating (some doubt).

▣ "over my tent" Job lived in a house but this is an ancient idiom for God's protection during times of nomadic life (i.e., 2000 b.c. Job had large flocks and herds, like Abraham). The tent was fragile but God's presence was strong!

29:5 "the Almighty" This is from the Hebrew name Shaddai (BDB 994). See SPECIAL TOPIC: The Almighty (Shaddai).

▣ "was yet with me" There is no greater blessing. Job keenly felt the loss of this fellowship. For him now, God was hidden and unavailable!

29:6 "steps" This noun (BDB 237) occurs only here. The translation comes from a similar noun root, "traveler" or the common verb, "to walk" (BDB 229).

▣ "bathed in butter. . .streams of oil" These are metaphors of prosperity, the positive aspects of "the two ways."

▣ "butter" The MT has "wrath" (BDB 328), a form found only here. It does not fit the context so most translations (and a few Hebrew MSS) emend it to "curds" (BDB 326).

1. בחמה – wrath

2. בחמאה – curds

 

29:7 "the gate of the city. . .took my seat in the square" This was the place of justice and social life (cf. Gen. 23:10; Ruth 4:1-12; Pro. 24:7; 31:23). Apparently Job was one of the elders of his city and possibly the chief administrator of justice (cf. Job 29:16b).

29:8 This speaks of the respect the people of all ages had for Job. The NASB's "hid" is best understood as RSV's "withdrew" or TEV's "stepped aside."

29:11 "blessed" See note on BDB 80 at Ps. 1:1, which is a classic passage on "the two ways."

The other common term for "blessings" (BDB 139) occurs in Job 29:13. See SPECIAL TOPIC: BLESSING (OT).

29:12-17 This is a list by Job of the evidences of his righteousness.

1. delivered the poor

2. helped the orphan

3. helped the one ready to perish (Job 29:13)

4. helped the widow

5. helped the blind (Job 29:15)

6. helped the crippled

7. helped the needy (Job 29:16)

8. gave justice to the stranger (Job 29:16,17)

This list of good deeds is probably related to Eliphaz's charges in Job 22:6-9. Job makes this claim of righteous actions and motives again in Job 30:25.

29:14 "I put on righteousness, and it clothed me" This is literally "righteousness clothed me" (as did justice). Clothing was often used as a metaphor for spiritual characteristics (cf. Job 19:9; Ps. 132:9,16,18; Isa. 59:17; Eph. 4:22,24,25,31; Col. 3:8,10,12,14).

29:15 "the blind. . .the lame" These needy citizens were often linked in Moses' writings (cf. Lev. 21:18; Deut. 15:21). Their link here is another textual hint that the author/editor is a Judean court sage.

29:17 Those who attack and take advantage of the needy and powerless of society are characterized as "wild animals."

29:18 "I shall die in my nest" Job expected the blessings of God because of his righteous life (i.e., "the two ways"). And herein lies the problem of the suffering of the righteous.

The term "nest" can be interpreted three ways: (1) his home (UBS Text Project); (2) his children (Moffatt translation); or (3) old age (LXX).

NASB,
NKJV,
NJB , REB,
Peshitta"as the sand"
NRSV,
JPSOA"like the phoenix"
TEV"live a long life"
LXX"a palm tree (phoinix)"

The MT has "sand" but nowhere else in the OT does it refer to a long life. It could refer to many descendants (Job 29:5b,18a). The LXX translated the word by the name of a palm tree (possibly because of the tree imagery in Job 29:19), which is similar to the name of the famous bird (phoenix) that rose from the ashes to live a long life (a rabbinical suggestion, cf. NRSV, JPSOA). However, it is uncertain if this Greek or Egyptian myth was known to the author of Job. The myth has been found (by Albright, see NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 48) in the Ras Shamra texts (Ugarit, poetic legends/mythology of Ba'al).

29:20 These are symbols of strength and energy.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 29:21-25
 21"To me they listened and waited,
 And kept silent for my counsel.
 22After my words they did not speak again,
 And my speech dropped on them.
 23They waited for me as for the rain,
 And opened their mouth as for the spring rain.
 24I smiled on them when they did not believe,
 And the light of my face they did not cast down.
 25I chose a way for them and sat as chief,
 And dwelt as a king among the troops,
 As one who comforted the mourners."

29:22b-23 This imagery is also seen in Deut. 32:2. For Job 29:23b see Ps. 119:131.

29:24 The Hebrew is uncertain (see footnote in JPSOA). JPSOA is a good guess:

"When I smiled at them, they would not believe it;

They never expected a sign of my favor."

29:25a,b "I chose a way for them" This phrase could possibly be translated, "I was chosen as their governor" (cf. Andersen, OT Tyndale Series, published by InterVarsity Press, p. 234). It could also be taken as a summary of Job's respect expressed in royal imagery. As the King in the ANE was to preserve justice, so too, local leaders.

29:25c This is irony, in light of the actions of Job's three comforters! Their good intentions quickly changed to accusations of hidden sins.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. How is Job 29 related to Job 30 and 31?

2. Was Job a city leader?

3. How was "righteousness" defined in the ANE?

4. Explain the sadness of Job 29:4.

 

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