Job 29

 

וַיֹּסֶף אִיּוֹב שְׂאֵת מְשָׁלוֹ וַיֹּאמַר׃   29:1

Job 29:1   And Job continued to lift up his poem, and he said,

No one knows whether this chapter is intended to proceed from the thoughts of Chapter 27, which starts as this one does, or to follow Chapter 28.  It will be quite obvious that the mood of this chapter is very different from that of either chapter.  Not withstanding, this chapter seems to be the musings of Job about his happy past.  It’s highly unlikely that he would be speaking this words for the ears of the friends, who have exhibited no compassion for him to this point.  More likely, he is reminiscing silently.

מִי־יִתְּנֵנִי כְיַרְחֵי־קֶדֶם כִּימֵי אֱלוֹהַּ יִשְׁמְרֵנִי׃   29:2

Job 29:2   "Would that He would set me as the months of old,

                              as the days God would guard me,

בְּהִלֹּ֣ו נֵ֭רֹו עֲלֵ֣י רֹאשִׁ֑י לְ֝אֹורֹו אֵ֣לֶךְ חֹֽשֶׁךְ׃   29:3

Job 29:3   with His shining His lamp upon my head.

                             In His light I could traverse darkness."

כַּאֲשֶׁר הָיִיתִי בִּימֵי חָרְפִּי בְּסוֹד אֱלוֹהַּ עֲלֵי אָהֳלִי׃   29:4

Job 29:4   "As I was in the days of winter,

                             with the intimacy of God about my tent,

I imagine the phrase days of winter refers to a time when the crops were growing and little work has to be done.  It was a time of repose.

בְּעוֹד שַׁדַּי עִמָּדִי סְבִיבוֹתַי נְעָרָי׃   29:5

Job 29:5   with the Almighty still with me,

                             my young surrounding me,

בִּרְחֹץ הֲלִיכַי בְּחֵמָה וְצוּר יָצוּק עִמָּדִי פַּלְגֵי־שָׁמֶן׃   29:6

Job 29:6   with my steps being cleansed by butter,

                             and rock would pour out streams of oil with me,

בְּצֵאתִי שַׁעַר עֲלֵי־קָרֶת בָּרְחוֹב אָכִין מוֹשָׁבִי׃   29:7

Job 29:7   with my coming out of the gate to the city,

                             in the plaza I would set up my seat."

רָאוּנִי נְעָרִים וְנֶחְבָּאוּ וִישִׁישִׁים קָמוּ עָמָדוּ׃   29:8

Job 29:8   "Young men saw me and hid themselves,

                             and old men rose, they stood,

שָׂרִים עָצְרוּ בְמִלִּים וְכַף יָשִׂימוּ לְפִיהֶם׃   29:9

Job 29:9   princes restrained in words,

                             as they would place a hand to their mouth,

קוֹל־נְגִידִים נֶחְבָּאוּ וּלְשׁוֹנָם לְחִכָּם דָּבֵקָה׃   29:10

Job 29:10   the leaders withdrew voice,

                             as their tongue was stuck to their gum."

כִּי אֹזֶן שָׁמְעָה וַתְּאַשְּׁרֵנִי וְעַיִן רָאֲתָה וַתְּעִידֵנִי׃   29:11

Job 29:11   "When an ear heard, then it called me blessed,

                             and an eye saw, then it bore witness to me."

כִּי־אֲמַלֵּט עָנִי מְשַׁוֵּעַ וְיָתוֹם וְלֹא־עֹזֵר לוֹ׃   29:12

Job 29:12   "For I would deliver the poor one crying out,

                             and the fatherless one who had no helper."

בִּרְכַּת אֹבֵד עָלַי תָּבֹא וְלֵב אַלְמָנָה אַרְנִן׃   29:13

Job 29:13   "The blessing of one about to perish would come upon me,

                             and I would make the heart of the widow ring for joy."

צֶ֣דֶק לָ֭בַשְׁתִּי וַיִּלְבָּשֵׁ֑נִי כִּמְעִ֥יל וְ֝צָנִ֗יף מִשְׁפָּטִֽי׃   29:14

Job 29:14   "I wore righteousness, and it clothed me;

                             my justice was like a robe and a miter."

עֵינַיִם הָיִיתִי לַעִוֵּר וְרַגְלַיִם לַפִּסֵּחַ אָנִי׃   29:15

Job 29:15   "I was eyes for the blind one,

                             and I was feet for the lame one."

אָב אָנֹכִי לָאֶבְיוֹנִים וְרִב לֹא־יָדַעְתִּי אֶחְקְרֵהוּ׃   29:16

Job 29:16   "I was a father to the needy,

                             and a plea I did not understand, I would search it out."

וָאֲשַׁבְּרָה מְתַלְּעוֹת עַוָּל וּמִשִּׁנָּיו אַשְׁלִיךְ טָרֶף׃   29:17

Job 29:17   "I would even break the jaws of the unrighteous one,

                             and cast off the prey from his teeth."

וָאֹמַר עִם־קִנִּי אֶגְוָע וְכַחוֹל אַרְבֶּה יָמִים׃   29:18

Job 29:18   "So I would say, 'With my nest I shall die,

                             and I shall multiply days like a phoenix,

The word translated as a phoenix is normally translated as sand.  The line in which it appears is either part of an elaborate metaphor or a bit of extreme hyperbole.  Multiplying days like sand is too much to contemplate.  But the phoenix fits very well with the almost three-verse metaphor of a long-lived bird happy in its nest.  Remember that the phoenix was a legendary bird that could live for a thousand years and then revert to a newborn again at that time.

שָׁרְשִׁי פָתוּחַ אֱלֵי־מָיִם וְטַל יָלִין בִּקְצִירִי׃   29:19

Job 29:19   my root shall be open to water,

                             and the dew shall spend the night on my bough,

כְּבוֹדִי חָדָשׁ עִמָּדִי וְקַשְׁתִּי בְּיָדִי תַחֲלִיף׃   29:20

Job 29:20   my glory shall remain fresh with me,

                             and my bow will be renewed in my hand.'"

The metaphor loses its steam here.

לִי־שָׁמְעוּ וְיִחֵלּוּ וְיִדְּמוּ לְמוֹ עֲצָתִי׃   29:21

Job 29:21   "They listened to me as they waited

                             and were silent for my counsel."

אַחֲרֵי דְבָרִי לֹא יִשְׁנוּ וְעָלֵימוֹ תִּטֹּף מִלָּתִי׃   29:22

Job 29:22   "After my words, they would not alter,

                             as my speech would drop over them."

וְיִחֲלוּ כַמָּטָר לִי וּפִיהֶם פָּעֲרוּ לְמַלְקוֹשׁ׃   29:23

Job 29:23   "And they waited for me as for the rain,

                             as they opened their mouth wide for the spring rain."

אֶשְׂחַק אֲלֵהֶם לֹא יַאֲמִינוּ וְאוֹר פָּנַי לֹא יַפִּילוּן׃   29:24

Job 29:24   "Were I to laugh about them, they would not believe,

                             as the light of my presence they would not allow to fail."

אֶבֲחַר דַּרְכָּם וְאֵשֵׁב רֹאשׁ וְאֶשְׁכּוֹן כְּמֶלֶךְ בַּגְּדוּד כַּאֲשֶׁר אֲבֵלִים יְנַחֵם׃   29:25

Job 29:25   "I would choose their way,

                             and remained a chief.

                      And I abided like a king among a troop

                             as he would comfort mourners."

 

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