When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street!
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)To the gate.—There business was transacted. (Comp. the expression, which is still used with reference to the Turkish Empire, of “the Sublime Porte,” or the supreme Place of government; Psalm 127:5; Jer. 35:20, &c.)Job 29:7. When I went out to the gate — When I went from my dwelling to the gate of the city, the place of judicature, which, as has often been observed, was in the gates. When I prepared my seat in the streets — When I caused the seat of justice to be set for me in that open place, as ברחוב, barechob, signifies, near the gate, where the people assembled for the administration of justice. By this, and several other expressions, it appears that Job was a magistrate or judge in his country.
When I prepared my seat in the street - That is, to sit as a judge. The seat or tribunal was placed in the street, in the open air, before the gate of the city, where great numbers might be convened, and hear and see justice done. The Arabs, to this day, hold their courts of justice in an open place, under the heavens, as in a field or a market-place. Norden's Travels in Egypt, ii. 140. There has been, however, great variety of opinion in regard to the meaning of this verse. Schultens enumerates no less than ten different interpretations of the passage. Herder translates it:
"When from my house I went to the assembly,
And spread my carpet in the place of meeting."
Prof. Lee translates it, "When I went forth from the gate to the pulpit, and prepared my seat in the broad place." He supposes that Job refers to occasions when he addressed the people, and to the respect which was shown him then. Dr. Good renders it, "As I went forth, the city rejoiced at me." It is probable, however, that our common version has given the true signification. The word rendered "city" (קרת qereth), is a poetic form for (קריה qiryâh) "city," but does not frequently occur. It is found in Proverbs 8:3; Proverbs 9:3, Proverbs 9:14; Proverbs 11:11. The phrase "upon the city" - Hebrew עלי־קרת ‛aly-qereth - or, "over the city," may refer to the fact that the gate was in an elevated place, or that it was the chief place, and, as it were, over or at the head of the city. The meaning is, that as he went out from his house toward the gate that was situated in the most important part of the city, all did him reverence.
through … street!—rather, When I went out of my house, in the country (see Job 1:1, prologue) to the gate (ascending), up to the city (which was on elevated ground), and when I prepared my (judicial) seat in the market place. The market place was the place of judgment, at the gate or propylæa of the city, such as is found in the remains of Nineveh and Persepolis (Isa 59:14; Ps 55:11; 127:5).When I went out from my dwelling to the gate, to wit, of the city, as the following words show; to the place of judicature, which was in the gates, as hath been oft observed.
Through the city; through that part of the city which was between my house and the gate. Or, to the city, i.e. the gate belonging to the city. So Job might live in the country adjoining to it.
When I prepared my seat; when I caused the seat of justice to be set for me. By this and divers other expressions it appears that Job was a magistrate or judge in his country. In the street, i.e. in that void and open place within or near the gate, where the people assembled for the administration of justice among them. Zechariah 8:16; and to which he passed through the city, very probably, in great pomp and splendour, suitable to his office and character, which drew the eyes and attention of the people to him; by which it should seem that his house was on one side of the city, and the gate where justice was administered was on the other; though it may be rendered, "over the city" (o), and the sense be, that he passed along as he that was over the city, the chief man in it, and president of the court of justice, see 2 Kings 10:5;
when I prepared my seat in the street; where he sat, not as a teacher, though he was an instructor, not only of his family, but of his neighbours, as Eliphaz himself testifies, Job 4:3; and it was usual for such to have seats to sit upon, as those had who succeeded Moses, and are said to sit in his chair; and it was usual to call to men and instruct them in open public places; hence Wisdom is said to utter her voice in the streets, in the opening of the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors, Proverbs 1:20; but Job here speaks of himself as a civil magistrate, as a judge upon the bench, who had a seat or throne erected for him to sit upon, while he was hearing and trying causes; and this was set up in the street under the open air, before the gate of the city, where the whole city might be convened together, and hear and see justice done to their neighbours; in such a street, before the gate of the city, Ezra read the law to Israel; and in such an one Hezekiah got the people of Israel together, and spoke comfortably to them when invaded by Sennacherib; see Nehemiah 8:2; and the Arabs, to this day, hold their courts of justice in an open place under the heavens, as in a field, or in a market place (p); and it is right that courts of justice should be open and accessible to all.When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street!
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. The third and chiefest element of his past happiness was the respect of men, and the joy of intercourse with them. This is the main subject of the chapter.
the gate through the city] Or, the gate by the city. Job, a rich landowner, probably did not live in the city but on his estate that adjoined it. He took part, however, in all the life of the city, and sat in the council that guided its affairs. The “gate” is spoken of as the place where the Council or Assembly of the town met. Such a “gate” is usually a building of considerable size, like an arcade, and hence it is spoken of here as an independent edifice by or beside the city. Others render up to the city, supposing that the city, as not unusual, was built on an eminence.
in the street] lit. broad place, i. e. market place, a synonym for “gate.”Verse 7. - When I went out to the gate through the city; rather, by the city, or over against the city. The "gate" was the place where justice was administered, and public business generally despatched. It would be "over against" the city, separated from it by a large square or place (רְחוב), in which a multitude might assemble (sue Nehemiah 8:1). Hither Job was accustomed to proceed from time to time, to act as judge and administrator. When I prepared my seat in the street. On such occasions a seat would be brought out and "prepared," where the judge would sit to hear causes and deliver sentences (comp. Nehemiah 3:7).
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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