Job 29:5
When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me;
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Job 29:5-6. When the Almighty was yet with me — On my side; whereas now he is against me, and hath forsaken me. When my children were about me — Or, servants, for the word נערי, nagnarai, signifies both. When the members of my family were wont to be present to join and assist in our religious services, and we had communion with God and with each other. When I washed my steps with butter — When I had all temporal blessings as well as spiritual, and abounded with all sorts of good things, which is often signified by this or such like phrases. When I had such numerous herds of cattle, and consequently such plenty of butter, that if I had so pleased I might have washed my feet with it. And the rock poured me out rivers of oil — When not only fruitful fields, but even barren and rocky places, (such as the part of Arabia where Job lived,) yielded me olive-trees and oil in great plenty: see Deuteronomy 32:13.

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 Yet the sensible comfort of this state is often withdrawn for a season; and commonly this arises from sinful neglect, and grieving the Holy Spirit: sometimes it may be a trial of a man's faith and grace.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a change by fervent prayer, and to increase our watchfulness.When the Almighty was yet with me - Job regarded God as withdrawn from him. He now looked back with deep interest to the time when he dwelt with him. 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.

With me, i.e. on my side; whereas now he is against me, and hath forsaken me.

My children, or servants, or both; and therefore he useth this word, which comprehends both.

When the Almighty was yet with me,.... Not merely by his powerful and providential presence, as he is with all men; but in a special manner by his gracious presence, which is a wonderful and distinguishing favour; but sometimes the people of God are without it, at least they think so, and which was now Job's case, see Job 23:2; and therefore he desires he would return to him, and show him his face and favour:

when my children were about me; as olive plants about his table, in their youth; when he looked at them with great delight and pleasure, as his growing hopes; and, when grown up, and were not far from him, but were round about him, and lay near his heart, and whose welfare, temporal and spiritual, he was solicitous for; but now they were all taken away from him, and were no more: the word for "children" signifies also "servants" (t), and may take in them, of whom he had many to do his work and business; to attend upon him, to wait his orders, and execute them, and guard his person; but now many of them were slain by the Sabeans and Chaldeans, and by fire from heaven; and those he had were very disrespectful to him, see Job 19:15.

(t) "juvenes mei", Tigurine version; "vel famuli vel filii", Mercerus, Drusius; so Jarchi.

When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me;
5. Naturally the first element in Job’s happiness in those past days was the presence of his children.

Verse 5. - When the Almighty was yet with me. These are terribly sad words. Job, in his afflictions, has come to look on the Almighty as no longer "with him " - no longer on his side; but rather against him, an enemy (see Job 6:4; Job 7:19; Job 9:17; Job 10:16, etc.). When my children were about me (comp. Job 1:2, 4, 5). Job 29:5 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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