Job 29:4
As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle;
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(4) In the days of my youth.—Literally, my autumn: i.e., in the ripeness, maturity of my days. He was then in the depth of winter. (Comp. the words “in which it seemed always afternoon.”) Some suppose, however, that as with the ancient and modern Jews the year began with the autumn, it is used much in the same way as we use spring.

The secret of God.—Or, the counsel of God.

Job 29:4. As I was in the days of my youth — In my former and flourishing days; when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle — When there was a secret blessing of God upon me and my family, succeeding us in all our affairs; and when God conversed freely with me, as one bosom friend with another; when I knew his mind, and was not in uncertainty respecting it, as I have been of late. It may be proper, however, to observe, that the word סוד, sod, here translated the secret, signifies not only secret counsels, in which sense it is used Amos 3:7, but also the assembly where such consultations are held, in which latter sense it is used much more frequently, as Psalm 89:8; Psalm 111:1; Jeremiah 6:11. And in this sense Sol. Jarchi understands it here. Thus interpreted, the meaning of the clause is, when the society of God, a company of devout persons, assembled in my tabernacle, namely, for divine worship, and other purposes of religion. In these meetings, no doubt, Job presided, and in them he took a great deal of pleasure, and it was no little grief to him to have them intermitted, and the persons that composed them scattered.

29:1-6 Job proceeds to contrast his former prosperity with his present misery, through God's withdrawing from him. A gracious soul delights in God's smiles, not in the smiles of this world. Four things were then very pleasant to holy Job. 1. The confidence he had in the Divine protection. 2. The enjoyment he had of the Divine favour. 3. The communion he had with the Divine word. 4. The assurance he had of the Divine presence. God's presence with a man in his house, though it be but a cottage, makes it a castle and a palace. Then also he had comfort in his family. Riches and flourishing families, like a candle, may be soon extinguished. But when the mind is enlightened by the Holy Spirit, when a man walks in the light of God's countenance, every outward comfort is doubled, every trouble is diminished, and he may pass cheerfully by this light through life and through death. Yet the sensible comfort of this state is often withdrawn for a season; and commonly this arises from sinful neglect, and grieving the Holy Spirit: sometimes it may be a trial of a man's faith and grace. But it is needful to examine ourselves, to seek for the cause of such a change by fervent prayer, and to increase our watchfulness.As I was in the days of my youth - The word here rendered "youth" (חרף chôreph), properly means "autumn - from" (חרף châraph), to "pluck, pull," as being the time when fruits ace gathered. Then it means that which is mature; and the meaning here is probably "mature" or "manly" - "As I was in the days of my ripeness;" that is, of my vigor or strength. The whole passage shows that it does not mean "youth," for he goes on to describe the honor and respect shown to him when in mature life. So the Septuagint - Ὅτε ἤμην ἐπιβρίθων ὁδοὺς Hote ēmēn epibrithōn hodous - "When I made heavy or laded my ways," an expression referring to autumn as being laden with fruit. So we speak of the spring, the autumn, and the winter of life, and by the autumn denote the maturity of vigor, experience, and wisdom. So the Greeks used the word ὸπώρα opōra, Pindar, Isthm. 2, 7, 8; Nem. 5, 10, Aeschyl. Suppl. 1005, 1022. So Ovid:

Excessit Autumnus posito fervore javentae

Maturus, mitisque inter juvenemque senemqae;

Temperie medius, sparsis per tempora canis.

Inde senilis hiems tremulo venit horrida passu.

Aut spoliata suos, aut. quos habet, alba capillos.

Metam. 15. 200.

The wish of Job was, that he might be restored to the vigor of mature life, and to the influence and honors which he had then, or rather, perhaps, it was that they might have a view of what he was then, that they might see from what a height he had fallen, and what cause he had of complaint and grief.

When the secret of God was upon my tabernacle - The meaning of this language is not clear, and considerable variety has obtained in the interpretation. The Septuagint renders it, "When God watched over - ἐπισκοπὴν ἐποιεῖτο episkopēn epoieito - my house." Vulgate, "When God was secretly in my tabernacle." Noyes, "When God was the friend of my tent." Coverdale renders the whole, "As I stood when I was wealthy and had enough; when God prospered my house." Umbreit, Als noch traulich Gott in meinem Zette weilte - "When God remained cordially in my tent." Herder, "When God took counsel with me in my tent." The word rendered "secret" (סוד sôd), means a "couch" or "cushion" on which one reclines, and then a divan, or circle of friends sitting together in consultation; see the word explained in the notes at Job 15:8. The idea here probably is, that God came into his tent or dwelling as a friend, and that Job was, as it were, admitted to the secrecy of his friendship and to an acquaintance with his plans.

4. youth—literally, "autumn"; the time of the ripe fruits of my prosperity. Applied to youth, as the Orientalists began their year with autumn, the most temperate season in the East.

secret—when the intimate friendship of God rested on my tent (Pr 3:32; Ps 31:20; Ge 18:17; Joh 15:15). The Hebrew often means a divan for deliberation.

In the days of my youth, i.e. in my former and flourishing days, which he calls the

days of youth, because those are commonly the times of mirth and comfort, as old age is called evil days, Ecclesiastes 12:1; when there was a secret blessing of God upon me and my family, protecting, directing, and succeeding us in all our affairs, which the devil observed, Job 1:10; whereas now there is a visible curse of God upon me and mine.

As I was in the days of my youth,.... Either taken literally, he being one like Obadiah, that feared God from his youth upward, 1 Kings 18:3; or figuratively, for his former state of prosperity, when he was like a tree in autumn laden with ripe and rich fruit, and in great abundance; and so some render the words "in the days of my autumn", or "autumnity" (r); though it may respect the time of his first conversion, the infancy and youth of his spiritual state, who, when first regenerated, was as a newborn babe, and then became a young man, and now a father in Christ, his living Redeemer: and Job wishes it was with him as in his youth, or in the early days of his conversion, at which season, generally speaking, there are great zeal and fervency of spirit, a flow of love and affection to God and the best things; large discoveries of his love, much sensible communion with him, and enjoyment of his presence; wherefore such returning seasons are desirable; see Jeremiah 2:2;

when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle; either the secret power and providence of God, which was upon his house and family, and all that belonged to him; or the secret of his love, which was manifested to him, and is from everlasting to everlasting on them that fear the Lord, as Job did; who had secret communion with God, his fellowship was with him; he dwelt in the secret place of the Almighty, and was taken into his secret chambers, where he had the greatest familiarity with him, see Psalm 25:14. Some observe the word for "secret" is used for an "assembly" (s), and take the sense to be, that the assembly of the saints and people of God was in his tabernacle or house; there they met together for religious worship, and where Job had often a comfortable opportunity, and wishes for the same again, see Psalm 42:1.

(r) "in autumno dierum mearum", Hottinger. Thesaur. Phiolog. p. 507. "in diebus autumnitatis meae", Schultens; so the word signifies in Arabic, vid. Golium, col. 1415. Lud. Capell. in loc. (s) "in societate Dei", Pagninus, Beza; "societas Dei", i.e. "con gregatio", Bolducius; so Jarchi.

As I was in the days of my youth, when the {c} secret of God was upon my tabernacle;

(c) That is, seemed by evident tokens to be more present with me.

4. days of my youth] lit. days of my autumn. It is doubtful if Job means to describe by this expression any period of his own age, namely his manhood. He rather compares his former time of prosperity to the season of the year, the autumn, the time of fruit-gathering and plenty and joy, and also thankfulness to God (clause second).

the secret of God] i. e. the intimacy and friendship of God; comp. on ch. Job 19:19. God’s friendship or intimacy watched over his tent.

Verse 4. - As I was in the days of my youth; literally, in the days of my autumn - by which Job probably means the days of his "ripeness" or "full manhood" - which he had reached when his calamities fell upon him. When the secret of God was upon my tabernacle; or, the counsel of God; when, i.e., in my tent I held sweet counsel with God, and communed with him as friend with friend (comp. Psalm 25:14, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant;" and Proverbs 3:32, "For the froward is abomination to the Lord: but his secret is with the righteous"). Job 29:4 1 Then Job continued to take up his proverb, and said:

2 O that I had months like the times of yore,

Like the days when Eloah protected me,

3 When He, when His lamp, shone above my head,

By His light I went about in the darkness;

4 As I was in the days of my vintage,

When the secret of Eloah was over my tent,

5 When the Almighty was still with me,

My children round about me;

6 When my steps were bathed in cream,

And the rock beside me poured forth streams of oil.

Since the optative מי־יתּן (comp. on Job 23:3) is connected with the acc. of the object desired, Job 14:4; Job 31:31, or of that respecting which anything is desired, Job 11:5, it is in itself possible to explain: who gives (makes) me like the months of yore; but since, when מי־יתּנני occurs elsewhere, Isaiah 27:4; Jeremiah 9:1, the suff. is meant as the dative ( equals מי־יתן לי, Job 31:35), it is also here to be explained: who gives me ( equals O that one would give me, O that I had) like (instar) the months of yore, i.e., months like those of the past, and indeed those that lie far back in the past; for ירחי־קדם means more than עברוּ (אשׁר) ירחים. Job begins to describe the olden times, that he wishes back, with the virtually genitive relative clause: "when Eloah protected me" (Ges. 116, 3). It is impossible to take בּהלּו as Hiph.: when He caused to shine (Targ. בּאנהרוּתיהּ); either בּההלּו (Olsh.) or even בּהלּו (Ew. in his Comm.) ought to be read then. On the other hand, הלּו can be justified as the form for inf. Kal of הלל (to shine, vid., Job 25:5) with a weakening of the a to i((Ew. 255, a), and the suff. may, according to the syntax, be taken as an anticipatory statement of the object: when it, viz., His light, shone above my head; comp. Exodus 2:6 (him, the boy), Isaiah 17:6 (its, the fruit-tree's, branches), also Isaiah 29:23 (he, his children); and Ew. 309, c, also decides in its favour. Nevertheless it commends itself still more to refer the suff. of בהלו to אלוהּ (comp. Isaiah 60:2; Psalm 50:2), and to take נרו as a corrective, explanatory permutative: when He, His lamp, shone above my head, as we have translated. One is at any rate reminded of Isaiah 60 in connection with Job 29:3; for as בהלו corresponds to יזרח there, so לאורו corresponds to לאורך in the Job 29:3 of the same: by His light I walked in darkness (חשׁך locative equals בּחשׁך), i.e., rejoicing in His light, which preserved me from its dangers (straying and falling).

In Job 29:4 כּאשׁר is not a particle of time, but of comparison, which was obliged here to stand in the place of the כּ, which is used only as a preposition. And חרפּי (to be written thus, not חרפי with an aspirated )פ may not be translated "(in the days) of my spring," as Symm. ἐν ἡμέραις νεότητός μου, Jer. diebus adolescentiae meae, and Targ. בּיומי חריפוּתי, whether it be that חריפות here signifies the point, ἀκμή (from חרף, Arab. ḥrf, acuere), or the early time (spring time, from חרף, Arab. chrf, carpere). For in reference to agriculture חרף can certainly signify the early half of the year (on this, vid., Genesis, S. 270), inasmuch as sowing and ploughing time in Palestine and Syria is in November and December; wherefore Arab. chrı̂f signifies the early rain or autumn rain; and in Talmudic, חרף, premature (ripe too early), is the opposite of אפל, late, but the derivatives of חרף only obtain this signification connotative, for, according to its proper signification, חרף (Arab. chrı̂f with other forms) is the gathering time, i.e., the time of the fruit harvest (syn. אסיף), while the Hebr. אביב (אב) corresponds to the spring in our sense. If Job meant his youth, he would have said בּימי אבּי, or something similar; but as Job 29:5 shows, he meant his manhood, and this he calls his autumn as the season of maturity, or rather of the abundance of fruits (Schult.: aetatem virilem suis fructibus faetum et exuberantum),

(Note: The fresh vegetation, indeed, in hotter districts (e.g., in the valley of the Jordan and Euphrates) begins with the arrival of the autumnal rains, but the real spring (comp. Sol 2:11-13) only begins about the vernal equinox, and still later on the mountains. On the contrary, the late summer, קיץ, which passes over into the autumn, חרף, is the season for gathering the fruit. The produce of the fields, garden fruit, and grapes ripen before the commencement of the proper autumn; some (when the land can be irrigated) summer fruits, e.g., Dhura (maize) and melons, in like manner olives and dates, ripen in autumn. Therefore the translation, in the days of my autumn ("of my harvest"), is the only correct one. If חרפּי were intended here in a sense not used elsewhere, it might signify, according to the Arabic with h, "(in the days) of my prosperity," or "my power," or even with Arab. ch, "(in the days) of my youthful vigour;" for charâfât are rash words and deeds, charfân one who says or does anything rash from lightness, the feebleness of old age, etc. (according to Wetzst., very common words in Syria): חרף or חרף, therefore the thoughtlessness of youth, Arab. jahl, i.e., the rash desire of doing something great, which חרף הנפש למות (Judges 5:18). But it is most secure to go back to חרף, Arab. chrf, carpere, viz., fructus.)


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