Job 29:1-25

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Job continued to speak. His words are introduced in the same way as they were earlier. (27:1) “And Job added, taking up his discourse [literally, proverb or proverbial saying], and said.” (29:1)

Job wished that he could again be in the circumstances he enjoyed in past months (“months of old”), in the “days” or the time “God watched over [him],” assuring his well-being. (29:2; see the Notes section.)

In the past, the “lamp” of God had shone on Job’s head, and he walked by God’s “light through darkness.” He had benefited from God’s guidance and safeguarding as if the course he pursued had been illuminated, revealing hazards and lighting the way to a successful outcome. (29:3)

Job referred to his being in his “days of autumn,” or at the start of the year. He was then in the prime of his life. Job was favored with the “counsel of God” in his tent, his dwelling, or in his whole household. As a recipient of the “counsel of God,” Job was in the position of a confidant or a confidential friend, like a man with whom God shared his secret counsel. (29:4; see the Notes section.)

In former times, the Almighty was with Job, guiding and blessing him. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, Job was exceedingly flush or prosperous. As a family man, he had his children all around him. (29:5)

Job likened his former prosperous state to his washing his “steps,” or the path he traveled, “with milk.” “And rock poured out streams of oil” for him. This suggests that olive trees growing in rocky terrain yielded abundant fruit for producing olive oil. The Septuagint represents Job as portraying his prosperity somewhat differently. His “ways flowed with butter,” and his “mountains” or hills “flowed with milk.” (29:6; see the Notes section.)

In the community, Job was a highly respected elder. As such, he “went out” to the gate of the city and prepared his seat in the square or in the open area near the gate where judicial matters were handled. The Septuagint refers to his going into the city early and says that his seat was placed in the squares. (29:7)

When young men saw Job in his prepared seat, they hid themselves out of respect for him. Persons of advanced age showed their high regard for Job by rising from a seated position and then continuing to stand. (29:8)

Princes or leaders among the people stopped speaking (literally, “refrained from words”). They laid their “hand on their mouth” (a “finger on [their] mouth” [LXX]), remaining silent while waiting for Job to speak. (29:9)

The “voice of nobles was hidden” or reduced to silence as if smothered. Nobles did not express themselves until Job did so. Their complete silence proved to be as if “their tongue cleaved to their palate,” not being able to move in order to make an utterance. (29:10; see the Notes section.)

When an “ear heard,” either what Job said or from others about him, he was pronounced “happy,” fortunate, or blessed. Both meanings about what was heard are expressed in the interpretive renderings of modern translations. “Everyone was pleased with what I said.” (CEV) “On hearing me, people congratulated me.” (NJB) “Whoever heard of me blessed me.” (NAB) “Whoever heard of me spoke favourably of me.” (REB) When understood to apply to what Job said, the reference could be to the times when he, as an elder, expressed his judgment at the city gate. “And when an eye saw,” or observed Job, it approved (literally, “bore witness” or gave favorable testimony), indicating that Job received commendation from the one who saw him. (29:11; see the Notes section.)

Job delivered the poor one who cried out, probably on account of oppression or unjust treatment; and he also brought relief to the afflicted fatherless one who had no helper. According to the Septuagint, Job “delivered the poor one out of the hand” or power of the “mighty one” or the oppressor. With reference to himself, he is then quoted as saying, “And I helped the orphan who had no helper.” (29:12)

The one about to perish could have been a person so destitute as barely able to exist or one who was about to die. That one’s blessing came to be upon Job, apparently for the help the individual had received from him. A number of translations are more explicit than the Hebrew text in the way they refer to the one about to perish. “The blessing of those in extremity came upon me.” (NAB) “He who was threatened with ruin blessed me.” (REB) “I received the blessing of the lost.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition]) “The man who was dying blessed me.” (NIV) The dying man’s blessing rested on me.” (NJB) Job made the “heart of the widow” utter a joyous cry. Through his compassionate response to her needs, Job caused the widow to be joyful in her heart or in her inmost self. (29:13; see the Notes section.)

Job conducted himself uprightly and rendered just judgments, treating everyone impartially. Therefore, his “righteousness” was like a garment that he put on. It clothed him, identifying him as an upright man. His judgment or justice proved to be like a robe and a turban. This would have been the usual attire and, therefore, represented what could be expected from Job — just treatment and right action. The Septuagint refers to Job as putting on righteousness and being clothed with judgment or justice “like a double cloak.” (29:14)

Job offered aid to the blind and the lame. Therefore, he spoke of himself as being “eyes to the blind” (an “eye of the blind” [LXX]) and “feet to the lame” (a “foot of the lame” [LXX]). (29:15)

Job was concerned about the poor and came to their aid. Therefore, he spoke of himself as having been a “father” to them (the “powerless ones” [LXX]). He was willing to “search out” or to investigate the cause of a stranger, granting him an impartial hearing. According to the Septuagint, Job investigated a legal case that he did not know or with which he was unfamiliar. (29:16)

Job spoke of the decisive action he took against the lawless one, depriving him of the power to injure others. He also brought relief to those whom the unrighteous one had mistreated. Job said, “I broke the fangs [molars or teeth (LXX)] of the unrighteous one and made [him] drop the prey [the one whom he victimized] from his teeth.” The Septuagint indicates that Job removed the prey from the midst of the teeth of the unrighteous or the unjust. (29:17)

Job believed that he would die a peaceful death after having enjoyed a long life. “And I thought [that] I will die in my nest,” possibly meaning in my own home surrounded by my family. Job referred to living a long time as multiplying his “days like the sand” or the grains of sand. The Septuagint represents Job as expressing himself to the effect that his lifespan would be long, referring to living a long time “like the trunk of a palm tree.” (29:18)

Job likened his past flourishing state to that of a tree, with his “root spreading out to the waters” and “dew” remaining “all night” on his “branch.” (29:19; see the Notes section.)

Job referred to his “glory,” or his state of honor, as “fresh [new (Theodotion)] with [him],” suggesting that it was never diminished. The “bow in [his] hand” may be regarded as representing his strength, and Job spoke of it as showing newness or always being in peak condition. (29:20; see the Notes section.)

Especially when Job spoke as a respected elder in the community, people listened to him and waited for what he had to say. When he provided counsel or advice, they remained silent, accepting what he stated. (29:21)

After Job’s “word,” or after he had finished speaking, no one else spoke. According to the Septuagint, they did not “add” to what he had said. Job’s word “dropped upon them,” which could mean that, as the next verse suggests, it descended gently upon them like refreshing rain. The Septuagint indicates that people became overjoyed when Job spoke to them. (29:22)

People waited for Job as they would for needed rain. “They opened their mouth as for spring rain,” eager to receive his words as if thirsting for them. The Septuagint says that, “as the thirsting earth” or the parched land received or waited for the rain, so did people for what Job said. (29:23)

When Job “smiled” at people, showing that he was favorably disposed toward them, they could hardly believe it. This would have been because his smile of favor was unexpected but highly valued and greatly desired. According to the extant Hebrew text, Job is quoted as saying, “And they did not cast down the light of my face.” This wording suggests that external factors did not change Job’s pleasant countenance. With the exception of the verb, the Greek text that was added from the version of Theodotion reads much like the Hebrew text. “The light of my face did not fail” or become downcast. This rendering indicates that Job maintained a cheerful and pleasant countenance. Numerous modern translations, however, have emended the text to convey a variety of meanings. “When my face lit up, they lost their gloomy looks.” (REB) “Mourners took comfort from my cheerful glance.” (NAB) “They never expected a sign of my favor.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition]) “The light of my face was precious to them.” (NIV) “They watched my face for the least sign of favor.” (NJB) (29:24)

In his prominent position as a highly respected man, Job “chose their way” or the course that others then followed. Among peers, he sat as “head” or chief. His standing was like that of a “king” among his “troops.” Job was like a man who comforted mourners. (29:25; see the Notes section.)


In verse 2, the Septuagint represents Job as asking who would place him “in a month” of “former days,” a time when he fared well and prospered, with God watching over him.

Verse 4 of the Septuagint refers to Job as saying that he “pressed closely” on his ways. This could indicate that he pursued his course confidently and steadfastly. The concluding phrase could be understood to mean that God made a visit to Job’s house as would a friend or that God exercised oversight of his house, looking after the interests of Job’s entire household.

The rendering “milk” in verse 6 of the Hebrew text has the support of a few manuscripts. The Masoretic Text contains the word chemáh, meaning “wrath.” Unlike the word “milk,” the noun “wrath” does not fit the context.

The opening phrase of verse 10 in the Septuagint indicates that those who “heard” what Job said pronounced him happy. According to the marks of Origen in the third century CE, the concluding phrase of this verse was added from the Greek version of Theodotion. It is, “and their tongue cleaved to their throat.”

Origen, in the third century CE, marked the initial phrase of verse 11 as having been added from the Greek version of Theodotion. This added phrase reads much like the extant Hebrew text. “For an ear heard and pronounced me happy” or fortunate. The wording of the Septuagint that follows departs somewhat from the reading of the extant Hebrew text. “An eye [that] saw me turned away.” This could mean that, in deference, the individual looked down.

The opening phrase of verse 13 is, according to the marks of Origin in the third century CE, an addition from the Greek version of Theodotion. This added phrase reads much like the Hebrew text. “May a blessing of the one perishing come upon me.” The wording of the Septuagint thereafter follows this addition. “The mouth of the widow blessed me.”

According to the marks of Origen in the third century CE, the wording of verses 19 and 20 was added from the Greek version of Theodotion. The rendering of verse 19 is much like the reading of the extant Hebrew text but does not identify the root as being Job’s root (“my root”) and does not refer to his “branch.” “The root was widened out upon the water, and dew will settle on my crop.” This rendering suggests that abundant water and dew brought success to Job’s agricultural operations.

The concluding phrase of verse 20 in the Greek version of Theodotion departs somewhat from the reading of the extant Hebrew text. “And my bow will go forth in his hand.” This may mean that Job’s “bow” was in God’s hand or under his control, indicating that he was the one who strengthened and protected Job.

Based on the marks of Origen in the third century CE, the wording of verse 25 was added from the Greek version of Theodotion. It conveys the same meaning as does the extant Hebrew text.