Job 30:4
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
Who pluck mallow by the bushes, And whose food is the root of the broom shrub.

King James Bible
Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for their meat.

Darby Bible Translation
They gather the salt-wort among the bushes, and the roots of the broom for their food.

World English Bible
They pluck salt herbs by the bushes. The roots of the broom are their food.

Young's Literal Translation
Those cropping mallows near a shrub, And broom-roots is their food.

Job 30:4 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Who cut up mallows - For the purpose of eating. Mallows are common medicinal plants, famous for their emollient or softening properties, and the size and brilliancy of their flowers. It is not probable, however, that Job referred to what we commonly understand by the word mallows. It has been commonly supposed that he meant a species of plant, called by the Greeks Hallimus, a sunfish plant, or "salt wort," growing commonly in the deserts and poor land, and eaten as a salad. The Vulgate renders it simply "herbas;" the Septuagint, ἄλιμα alima. The Hebrew word, according to Umbreit, means a common salad of a saltish taste, whose young leaves being cooked, constituted food for the poorer classes. The Hebrew word מלוח mallûach is from מלח mâlach, "salt," and properly refers to a marine plant or vegetable.

By the bushes - Or among the bushes; that is, that which grew among the bushes of the desert. They wandered about in the desert that they might obtain this very humble fare.

And juniper-roots - The word here rendered "juniper" רתם rethem, occurs only in this place, and in 1 Kings 19:4-5; Psalm 120:4. In each place it is rendered "juniper." In 1 Kings is mentioned as the tree under which Elijah sat down when he fled into the wilderness for his life; In Psalm 120:4, it is mentioned as a material for making coals. "Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper." It is rendered "juniper" by Jerome, and by the rabbis. The verb (רתם râqab) occurs in Micah 1:13, where it is rendered "bind," and means to bind on, to make fast; and probably the plant here referred to received its name in some way from the notion of "binding" - perhaps because its long, flexible, and slender twigs were used for binding, or for "withes." There is no evidence, however, that the "juniper" is in any case intended. It denotes a species of "broom - spartium junceum" of Linn., which grows abundantly in the deserts of Arabia. It is the "Genista raetam" of Forskal. "Flora" Egypt. Arab. p. 214.

It has small variegated blossoms, and grows in the water-courses of the Wadys. Dr. Robinson (Bibl. Researches, i. 299) says, "The Retem is the largest and most conspicuous shrub of these de sects, growing thickly in the water-courses and valleys. Our Arabs always selected the place of encampment (if possible) in a place where it grew, in order to be sheltered by it at night from the wind; and, during the day, when they often went on in advance of the camels, we found them not unfrequently sitting or sleeping under a bush of Retem, to protect them from the sun. It was in this very desert, a day's journey from Beersheba, that the prophet Elijah lay down and slept beneath the same shrub. The roots are very bitter, and are regarded by the Arabs as yielding the best charcoal. The Hebrew name רתם rethem, is the same as the present Arabic name." Burckhardt remarks, that he found several Bedouins in the Wady Genne collecting brushwood, which they burned into charcoal for the Egyptian market, and adds that they preferred for this purpose the thick roots of the shrub Rethem, which grew there in abundance. Travels in Syria, p. 483. It could have been only those who were reduced to the utmost penury and want that could have made use of the roots of this shrub for food, and this is doubtless the idea which Job means to convey. It is said to have been occasionally used for food by the poor. See Gesenius, Lex.; Umbreit in loc., and Schultens. A description of the condition of the poor, remarkably similar to this, occurs in Lucan, Lib. vii.;

- Cernit miserabile vulgus

In pecudum cecidisse cibos, et carpere dumos

Et morsu spoliare nemus.

Biddulph (in the collection of Voyages from the Library of the Earl of Oxford, p. 807), says he had seen many poor people in Syria gather mallows and clover, and when he had asked them what they designed to do with it, they answered that it was for food. They cooked and ate them. Herodotus, viii. 115, says, that the army of Xerxes, after their defeat, when they had consumed all the grain of the inhabitants in Thessaly, "fed on the natural produce of the earth, stripping wild and cultivated trees alike of their bark and leaves, to such an extremity of famine were they come."

Job 30:4 Parallel Commentaries

Library
Whether the Limbo of Hell is the Same as Abraham's Bosom?
Objection 1: It would seem that the limbo of hell is not the same as Abraham's bosom. For according to Augustine (Gen. ad lit. xxxiii): "I have not yet found Scripture mentioning hell in a favorable sense." Now Abraham's bosom is taken in a favorable sense, as Augustine goes on to say (Gen. ad lit. xxxiii): "Surely no one would be allowed to give an unfavorable signification to Abraham's bosom and the place of rest whither the godly poor man was carried by the angels." Therefore Abraham's bosom is
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Messiah Unpitied, and Without a Comforter
Reproach [Rebuke] hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. T he greatness of suffering cannot be certainly estimated by the single consideration of the immediate, apparent cause; the impression it actually makes upon the mind of the sufferer, must likewise be taken into the account. That which is a heavy trial to one person, may be much lighter to another, and, perhaps, no trial at all. And a state
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

Cross References
1 Kings 19:4
But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, "It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers."

Job 30:3
"From want and famine they are gaunt Who gnaw the dry ground by night in waste and desolation,

Job 30:5
"They are driven from the community; They shout against them as against a thief,

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