His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with marrow.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)His breasts.—This is an uncertain word, occurring only here. Some understand it literally of milk-pails, others of the lacteals of the human body, which certainly suits the parallelism better.
The word which is rendered "breast" (עטין ‛ăṭı̂yn) occurs nowhere else in the Hebrew Scriptures. It has become necessary, therefore, to seek its meaning in the ancient versions, and in the cognate languages. For a full examination of the word, the reader may consult Bochart, Hieroz. P. 1, Lib. ii. c. xliv., pp. 455, 458; or Rosenmuller, where the remarks of Bochart are abridged; or Lee on Job, "in loc." The Chaldee renders it ביזיו, "his breasts." So Junius et Tre. Piscator, and others. Among the rabbis, Moses Bar Nackman, Levi, and others, render it as denoting the breasts, or "mulctralia" - "milk-vessels," denoting, as some have supposed, "the lacteals." This idea would admirably suit the connection, but it is doubtful whether it can be maintained; and the presumption is, that it would be in advance of the knowledge of physiology in the times of Job. Aben Ezra explains it of the places where camels lie down to drink - an idea which is found in the Arabic, and which will well suit the connection.
According to this, the sense would be, that those places abounded with milk - that is, that he was prospered and happy. The Hebrew word עטין ‛ăṭı̂yn, as has been observed, occurs nowhere else. It is supposed to be derived from an obsolete root, the same as the Arabic "atana, to lie down around water, as cattle do;" and then the derivative denotes a place where cattle and flocks lie down around water; and then the passage would mean, "the resting places of his herds are full, or abound with milk." Yet the primary idea, according to Castell, Golius, and Lee, is that of saturating with water; softening, "scil." a skin with water, or dressing a skin, for the purpose of using it as a bottle. Perhaps the word was used with reference to the place where camels came to drink, because it was a place that was "saturated" with water, or that abounded with water. The Arabic verb, also, according to Castell, is used in the sense of freeing a skin from wool and hairs - a lana pilisve levari pellem - so that it might be dressed for use.
From this reference to a "skin" thus dressed, Prof. Lee supposes that the word here means "a bottle," arid that the sense is, that his bottles were full of milk; that is, that he had great prosperity and abundance. But it is very doubtful whether the word will bear this meaning, and whether it is ever used in this sense. In the instances adduced by Castell, Schultens, and even of Prof. Lee, of the use of the word, I find no one where it means "a skin," or denotes a bottle made of a skin. The application of the "verb" to a skin is only in the sense of saturating and dressing it. The leading idea in all the forms of the word, and its common use in Arabic, is "that of a place where cattle kneel down for the purpose of drinking," and then a place well watered, where a man might lead his camels and flocks to water. The noun would then come to mean a watering place - a place that would be of great value, and which a man who had large flocks and herds would greatly prize. The thought here is, therefore, that the places of this kind, in the possession of the man referred to, would abound with milk - that is, he would have abundance.
Are full of milk - Milk, butter and honey, are, in the Scriptures, the emblems of plenty and prosperity. Many of the versions, however, here render this "fat." The change is only in the pointing of the Hebrew word. But, if the interpretation above given be correct, then the word here means "milk."
moistened—comparing man's body to a well-watered field (Pr 3:8; Isa 58:11).His breasts: the Hebrew word is not elsewhere used, and therefore it is diversely translated; either,
1. Breasts. But that seems very improper here, because men’s breasts do not use to be filled with milk. Or,
2. Milk-pails. But their fulness is common, and no sign of eminent plenty, which is here designed. Besides, the following branch, which in Job and elsewhere frequently explains the former, implies that it signifies some part of man’s body, as all the ancient interpreters render it; either the sides, as some of them have it; or the bowels, as others. But for the following milk they read fat; the Hebrew letters being exactly the same in both words; and the Hebrews by the name of milk do oft understand fat.
His bones are moistened with marrow; which is opposed to the dryness of the bones, Job 30:30 Psalm 102:3, which is caused by old age, or grievous distempers or calamities. Job 33:21; the word for breasts is observed by some (h) to signify, in the Arabic language, "vessels", in which liquors are contained, and in the Misnic language such as they put oil in, out of which oil is squeezed; and so are thought here to intend such vessels as are milked into; and therefore render it by milk pails; so Mr. Broughton, "his pails are full of milk" (i); which may denote the abundance of good things enjoyed by such persons, as rivers of honey and butter; contrary to Zophar's notion, Job 20:17; and a large increase of oil and wine, and all temporal worldly good; amidst the plenty of which such die:
and his bones are moistened with marrow; not dried up through a broken spirit, or with grief and trouble, and through the decays of old age; but, being full of marrow, are moist, and firm and strong; and so it intimates, that such, at the time when death seizes them, are of an hale, healthful, robust, and strong constitution; see Psalm 73:4.His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with marrow.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)24. His breasts are full of milk] Perhaps, his vessels are full of milk; but the meaning is uncertain, the word rendered “breasts” not occurring again. The word however has analogies in the cognate languages, and may mean vessels, or troughs, marg. milk-pails, the reference being to the plenty and richness of the man’s herds and possessions, though this is a figure for plenty in general. By a slight alteration in spelling the word “milk” means fat, and the ancient versions so read, translating, his inwards, or sides, are full of fat.
his bones are moistened with marrow] Rather, and the marrow of his bones is moistened, lit. watered, i. e. made fresh and strong. If the first clause be translated with the ancient Versions this clause is parallel in sense; otherwise, it describes the effect of his plenty on the man himself.Verse 24. - His breasts are full of milk; rather, his milk-pails, as in the margin. The main wealth of the time being cattle, the man whose milk-pails are always full is the prosperous man. And his bones are moistened with marrow. Being thus wealthy and prosperous, his body is fat and well nourished. Verse 24. - And another dieth in the bitterness of his soul. Others have to suffer terribly before death comes to them. Their whole life is wretched, and their spirit is embittered by their misfortunes. And never eateth with pleasure; rather, and never tasteth of good (see the Revised Version).
And their calamity breaketh in upon them,
That He distributeth snares in his wrath,
18 That they become as straw before the wind,
And as chaff which the storm sweepeth away!?
19 "Eloah layeth up his iniquity for his children!"
May He recompense it to him that he may feel it.
20 May his own eyes see his ruin,
And let him drink of the glowing wrath of the Almighty.
21 For what careth he for his house after him,
When the number of his months is cut off?
The interrogative כּמּה has here the same signification as in Psalm 78:40 : how often (comp. Job 7:19, how long? Job 13:23, how many?), but in the sense of "how seldom?!" How seldom does what the friends preach to him come to pass, that the lamp of the wicked is put out (thus Bildad, Job 13:5), and their misfortune breaks in upon them (יבא, ingruit; thus Bildad, Job 18:12 : misfortune, איד, prop. pressure of suffering, stands ready for his fall), that He distributes (comp. Zophar's "this is the portion of the wicked man," i.e., what is allotted to him, Job 20:29) snares in His wrath. Hirz., Ew., Schlottm., and others, translate הבלים, after the precedent of the Targ. (עדבין, sortes), "lots," since they understand it, after Psalm 16:6, of visitations of punishment allotted, and as it were measured out with a measuring-line; but that passage is to be translated, "the measuring-lines have fallen to me in pleasant places," and indeed חבל can signify the land that is allotted to one (Joshua 17:14, comp. Joshua 17:5); but the plural does not occur in that tropical sense, and if it were so intended here, חבליהם or חבלים להם might at least be expected. Rosenm., Ges., Vaih., and Carey transl. with lxx and Jer. (ὠδῖνες, dolores) "pains," but הבלים is the peculiar word for the writhings of those in travail (Job 39:3), which is not suited here. Schnurr. and Umbr. are nearer to the correct interpretation when they understand חבלים like פחים, Psalm 11:6, of lightning, as it were fiery strings cast down from above. If we call to mind in how many ways Bildad, Job 18:8-10, has represented the end of the godless as a divinely decreed seizure, it is certainly the most natural, with Stick. and Hahn, to translate (as if it were Arabic ḥabâ'ilin) "snares," to be understood after the idea, however, not of lightning, but generally of ensnaring destinies (e.g., חבלי עני, Job 36:8).
Both Job 21:17 with its three members and Job 21:18 with two, are under the control of כמה. The figure of straw, or rather chopped straw (Arab. tibn, tabn), occurs only here. The figure of chaff is more frequent, e.g., Psalm 1:4. Job here puts in the form of a question what Psalm 1:1-6 maintains, being urged on by Zophar's false application and superficial comprehension of the truth expressed in the opening of the Psalter. What next follows in Job 21:19 is an objection of the friends in vindication of their thesis, which he anticipates and answers; perhaps the clause is to be spoken with an interrogative accent: Eloah will - so ye object - reserve his evil for his children? אונו, not from און, strength, wealth, as Job 18:7, Job 18:12; Job 20:10; Job 40:16, but from און, wickedness (Job 11:11) and evil (Job 15:35), here (without making it clear which) of wickedness punishing itself by calamity, or of calamity which must come forth from the wickedness as a moral necessity comp. on Job 15:31. That this is really the opinion of the friends: God punishes the guilt of the godless, if not in himself, at least in his children, is seen from Job 20:10; Job 5:4. Job as little as Ezekiel, ch. 18, disputes the doctrine of retribution in itself, but that imperfect apprehension, which, in order that the necessary satisfaction may be rendered to divine justice, maintains a transfer of the punishment which is opposed to the very nature of personality and freedom: may He recompense him himself, וידע, that he may feel it, i.e., repent (which would be in Arab. in a similar sense, faja'lamu; ידע as Isaiah 9:8; Hosea 9:7; Ezekiel 25:14).
Job 21:20 continues in the same jussive forms; the ἅπ. γεγρ. כּיד signifies destruction (prop. a thrust, blow), in which sense the Arab. caid (commonly: cunning) is also sometimes used. The primary signification of the root כד, Arab. kd, is to strike, push; from this, in the stems Arab. kâd, med. Wau and med. Je, Arab. kdd, kdkd, the most diversified turns and applications are developed; from it the signif. of כּידוד, Job 41:11, כּידון, Job 39:23, and according to Fleischer (vid., supra, pp. 388) also of כּידור, are explained. Job 21:20, as Psalm 60:5; Obadiah 1:16, refers to the figure of the cup of the wrath of God which is worked out by Asaph, Psalm 75:9, and then by the prophets, and by the apocalyptic seer in the New Testament. The emphasis lies on the signs of the person in עינו (עיניו) and ישׁתּה. The rather may his own eyes see his ruin, may he himself have to drink of the divine wrath; for what is his interest (what interest has he) in his house after him? מה puts a question with a negative meaning (hence Arab. mâ is directly used as non); חפץ, prop. inclination, corresponds exactly to the word "interest" (quid ejus interest), as Job 22:3, comp. Isaiah 58:3, Isaiah 58:13 (following his own interest), without being weakened to the signification, affair, πραγμα, a meaning which does not occur in our poet or in Isaiah. JObadiah 21:21 is added as a circumstantial clause to the question in Job 21:21: while the number of his own months ... , and the predicate, as in Job 15:20 (which see), is in the plur. per attractionem. Schnurr., Hirz., Umbr., and others explain: if the number of his months is drawn by lot, i.e., is run out; but חצץ as v. denom. from חץ morf, in the signification to shake up arrows as sticks for drawing lots (Arab. sahm, an arrow and a lot, just so Persian tı̂r) in the helmet or elsewhere (comp. Ezekiel 21:26), is foreign to the usage of the Hebrew language (for מחצצים, Judges 5:11, signifies not those drawing lots, but the archers); besides, חצּץ (pass. חצּץ) would signify "to draw lots," not "to dispose of by lot," and "disposed of by lot" is an awkward metaphor for "run out." Cocceius also gives the choice of returning to חצץ, ψῆφος, in connection with this derivation: calculati sive ad calculum, i.e., pleno numero egressi, which has still less ground. Better Ges., Ew., and others: if the number of his months is distributed, i.e., to him, so that he (this is the meaning according to Ew.) can at least enjoy his prosperity undisturbed within the limit of life appointed to him. By this interpretation one misses the לו which is wanting, and an interpretation which does not require it to be supplied is therefore to be preferred. All the divers significations of the verbs חצץ (to divide, whence Proverbs 30:27, חצץ, forming divisions, i.e., in rank and file, denom. to shoot with the arrow, Talm. to distribute, to halve, to form a partition), חצה (to divide, Job 40:20; to divide in two equal parts), Arab. hṣṣ (to divide, whence Arab. hṣṣah, portio), and Arab. chṣṣ (to separate, particularize) - to which, however, Arab. chṭṭ (to draw, write), which Ew. compares here, does not belong - are referable to the primary signification scindere, to cut through, split (whence חץ, an arrow, lxx 1 Samuel 20:20, σχίζα); accordingly the present passage is to be explained: when the number of his months is cut off (Hlgst., Hahn), or cut through, i.e., when a bound is set to the course of his life at which it ends (comp. בּצּע, of the cutting off of the thread of life, Job 6:9; Job 27:8, Arab. ṣrm). Job 14:21., Ecclesiastes 3:22, are parallels to Job 21:21. Death is the end of all clear thought and perception. If therefore the godless receives the reward of his deeds, he should receive it not in his children, but in his own body during life. But this is the very thing that is too frequently found to be wanting.
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