Job 30:4
Parallel Verses
New International Version
In the brush they gathered salt herbs, and their food was the root of the broom bush.

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
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Who cut up mallows by the bushes - מלוח malluach, which we translate mallows, comes from מלח melach, salt; some herb or shrub of a salt nature, sea-purslane, or the salsaria, salsola, or saltwort. Bochart says it is the ἁλιμος of the Greeks, and the halimus of the Romans. Some translate it nettles. The Syriac and Arabic omit the whole verse. The halimus, or atriplex halimus, grows near the sea in different countries, and is found in Spain, America, England, and Barbary. The salsaria, salsola, or saltwort, is an extensive genus of plants, several common to Asia, and not a few indigenous to a dry and sandy soil.

And juniper roots for their meat - רתמים rethamim. This is variously translated juniper, broom, furze, gorse, or whin. It is supposed to derive its name from the toughness of its twigs, as רתם ratham signifies to bind; and this answers well enough to the broom. Genista quoque vinculi usum praestat, "The broom serves for bands," says Pliny, Hist. Nat. lib. xxiv., c. 9. But how can it be said that the roots of this shrub were eaten? I do not find any evidence from Asiatic writers that the roots of the juniper tree were an article of food; and some have supposed, because of this want of evidence, that the word לחמם lachmam, for their bread, should be understood thus, to bake their bread, because it is well known that the wood of the juniper gives an intense heat, and the coals of it endure a long time; and therefore we find coals of juniper, גחלי רחמים gachaley rethamim, used Psalm 120:4 to express severe and enduring punishment. But that the roots of the juniper were used for food in the northern countries, among the Goths, we have a positive testimony from Olaus Magnus, himself a Goth, and archbishop of Upsal, in lib. vii., c. 4, of his Hist. de Gentibus Septentrionalibus. Speaking of the great number of different trees in their woods, he says: "There is a great plenty of beech trees in all the northern parts, the virtue whereof is this: that, being cut between the bark and the wood, they send forth a juice that is good for drink. The fruit of them in famine serves for bread, and their bark for clothing. Likewise also the berries of the juniper, yea, even the roots of this tree are eaten for bread, as holy Job testifies, though it is difficult to come at them by reason of their prickles: in these prickles, or thorns, live coals will last a whole year. If the inhabitants do not quench them, when winds arise they set the woods on fire, and destroy all the circumjacent fields." In this account both the properties of the juniper tree, referred to by Job and David, are mentioned by the Gothic prelate. They use its berries and roots for food, and its wood for fire.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

mallows (The Hebrew malluach, in Arabic, malluch and in Syriac mallucho, is probably the halimus of the Romans, which Dioscorides describes as a kind of bramble, without thorns, the leaves of which are boiled and eaten.)

juniper roots (The Hebrew rothem, in Arabic, ratim, and in Spanish, retama, most probably signifies the genista or broom, which is very abundant in the deserts of Arabia.)

for their meat

2 Kings 4:38,39 And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him...

Amos 7:14 Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdsman...

Luke 15:16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave to him.

Christian Sympathy
Job, in his great indignation at the shameful accusation of unkindness to the needy, pours forth the following very solemn imprecation--"If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof; if I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering; if his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; if I have lifted up my
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 8: 1863

Of Confession of Our Infirmity and of the Miseries of this Life
I will acknowledge my sin unto Thee;(1) I will confess to Thee, Lord, my infirmity. It is often a small thing which casteth me down and maketh me sad. I resolve that I will act bravely, but when a little temptation cometh, immediately I am in a great strait. Wonderfully small sometimes is the matter whence a grievous temptation cometh, and whilst I imagine myself safe for a little space; when I am not considering, I find myself often almost overcome by a little puff of wind. 2. Behold, therefore,
Thomas A Kempis—Imitation of Christ

Cross References
1 Kings 19:4
while he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors."

Job 30:3
Haggard from want and hunger, they roamed the parched land in desolate wastelands at night.

Job 30:5
They were banished from human society, shouted at as if they were thieves.

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