Job 29


Job laments his present condition, and gives an affecting

account of his former prosperity, having property in

abundance, being surrounded by a numerous family, and enjoying

every mark of the approbation of God, 1-6.

Speaks of the respect he had from the young, 7, 8;

and from the nobles, 9, 10.

Details his conduct as a magistrate and judge in supporting

the poor, and repressing the wicked, 11-17;

his confidence, general prosperity, and respect, 18-25.


Verse 2. O that I were as in months past] Job seems here to make

an apology for his complaints, by taking a view of his former

prosperity, which was very great, but was now entirely at an end.

He shows that it was not removed because of any bad use he had

made of it; and describes how he behaved himself before God and

man, and how much, for justice, benevolence, and mercy, he was

esteemed and honoured by the wise and good.

Preserved me] Kept, guarded, and watched over me.

Verse 3. When his candle shined upon my head] Alluding most

probably to the custom of illuminating festival or assembly rooms

by lamps pendant from the ceiling. These shone literally on the

heads of the guests.

By his light I walked through darkness] His light-prosperity

and peace-continued to illuminate my way. If adversity came, I had

always the light of God to direct me. Almost all the nations of

the world have represented their great men as having a nimbus or

Divine glory about their heads, which not only signified the

honour they had, but was also an emblem of the inspiration of the


Verse 4. The days of my youth] The original word rather means in

the days of my winter, charpi, from charaph, "to

strip or make bare." Mr. Harmer supposes the rainy season is

intended, when the fields, &c., parched up by long drought, are

revived by the plentiful showers. Mr. Good thinks the word as

found in the Arabic, which means top or summit, and which he

translates perfection, is that which should be preferred. Others

think the autumnal state is meant, when he was loaded with

prosperity, as the trees are with ripe fruit.

The secret of God was upon my tabernacle] besod

Eloah, "the secret assembly of God," meaning probably the same

thing that is spoken of in the beginning of this book, the sons of

God, the devout people, presenting themselves before God. It is

not unlikely that such a secret assembly of God Job had in his own

house; where he tells us, in the next verse, "The Almighty was

with him, and his children were about him."

Mr. Good translates differently: When God fortified my tent over

me; supposing that the Hebrew sod is the Arabic [Arabic]

sud, "a barrier or fortification." Either will make a good


Verse 6. Washed my steps with butter]

See Clarke on Job 20:17.

Verse 7. When I went out to the gate] Courts of justice were

held at the gates or entrances of the cities of the East; and Job,

being an emir, was supreme magistrate: and here he speaks of his

going to the gate to administer justice.

I prepared my seat in the street] I administered judgment

openly, in the most public manner, and none could say that I, in

any case, perverted justice. Mr. Good translates:- "As I went

forth the city rejoiced at me, as I took my seat abroad."

Verse 8. The young men saw me, and hid themselves] From all

classes of persons I had the most marked respect. The YOUNG,

through modesty and bashfulness, shrunk back, and were afraid to

meet the eye of their prince; and the AGED rose from their seats

when I entered the place of judgment. These were the elders of the

people, who also sat with the judge, and assisted in all legal


Verse 9. The princes refrained talking] They never ventured an

opinion in opposition to mine; so fully were they persuaded of the

justice and integrity of my decision.

Verse 10. The nobles held their peace] PRINCES sarim, and

NOBLES, negidim, must have been two different classes of

the great men of Idumea. sar, PRINCE, director, or ruler,

was probably the head of a township, or what we would call a

magistrate of a particular district. nagid, a NOBLE, or one

of those who had the privilege of standing before, or in the

presence of, the chief ruler. The participle neged is

frequently used to signify before, in the presence of, publicly,

openly. And on this account, it is most likely that the noun means

one of those nobles or counsellors who were always admitted to the

royal presence. Mr. Good thinks that renowned speakers or eminent

orators are meant: and others have embraced the same opinion. Job

here intimates that his judgment was so sound, his decisions so

accredited, and his reasoning power so great, that every person

paid him the utmost deference.

Verse 11. When the ear heard me] This and the six following

verses present us with a fine exhibition of a man full of

benevolence and charity, acting up to the highest dictates of

those principles, and rendering the miserable of all descriptions

happy, by the constant exercise of his unconfined philanthropy.

Verse 12. Because I delivered the poor that cried] This appears

to be intended as a refutation of the charges produced by Eliphaz,

Job 22:5-10, to confute which Job appeals to

facts, and to public testimony.

Verse 15. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame.]

Alluding probably to the difficulty of travelling in the Arabian

deserts. I was eyes to the blind-those who did not know the way, I

furnished with guides. I was feet to the lame-those who were worn

out, and incapable of walking, I set forward on my camels, &c.

Verse 16. The cause which I knew not I searched out.] When any

thing difficult occurred, I did not give it a slight

consideration; I examined it to the bottom, whatever pain, time,

and trouble it cost me, that I might not pronounce a hasty


Verse 17. I brake the jaws of the wicked] A metaphor taken from

hunting. A beast of prey had entered into the fold, and carried

off a sheep. "The huntsman comes, assails the wicked beast,

breaks his jaws, and delivers the spoil out of his teeth. See

the case 1Sa 17:34-37.

Verse 18. I shall die in my nest] As I endeavoured to live

soberly and temperately, fearing God, and departing from evil,

endeavouring to promote the welfare of all around me, it was

natural for me to conclude that I should live long, be very

prosperous, and see my posterity multiply as the sands on the


Verse 19. My root was spread out by the waters] A metaphor taken

from a healthy tree growing beside a rivulet where there is plenty

of water; which in consequence flourishes in all seasons; its leaf

does not wither, nor its fruit fall off. See Ps 1:3;

Jer 17:8.

Verse 20. My glory was fresh in me] My vegetative power was

great; my glory-my splendid blossom, large and mellow fruit, was

always in season, and in every season.

My bow was renewed] I was never without means to accomplish all

my wishes. I had prosperity everywhere.

Verse 21. Unto me men gave ear] The same idea as in

Job 29:9-11.

Verse 22. My speech dropped upon them.] It descended as

refreshing dew; they were encouraged, comforted, and

strengthened by it.

Verse 23. They waited for me as for the rain] The idea

continued. They longed as much to hear me speak, to receive my

counsel and my decisions, as the thirsty land does for refreshing


They opened their mouth wide] A metaphor taken from ground

chapped with long drought.

The latter rain.] The rain that falls a little before harvest,

in order to fill and perfect the grain. The former rain is that

which falls about seed-time, or in spring, in order to impregnate

and swell the seed, and moisten the earth to produce its


Verse 24. I laughed on them, they believed it not] Similar to

that expression in the Gospel, Lu 24:41:

And while they believed not for joy, and wondered, he said __.

Our version is sufficiently perspicuous, and gives the true sense

of the original, only it should be read in the indicative and not

in the subjunctive mood: I laughed on them-they believed it not.

We have a similar phrase: The news was too good to be true.

The light of my countenance] This evidence of my benevolence and

regard. A smile is, metaphorically, the light of the countenance.

They cast not down.] They gave me no occasion to change my

sentiments or feelings towards them. I could still smile upon

them, and they were then worthy of my approbation. Their change he

refers to in the beginning of the next chapter.

Verse 25. I chose out their way, and sat chief-as a king in the

army] I cannot see, with some learned men, that our version of the

original is wrong. I have not seen it mended, and I am sure I

cannot improve it. The whole verse seems to me to point out Job in

his civil, military, and domestic life.

As supreme magistrate he chose out their way, adjusted their

differences, and sat chief, presiding in all their civil


As captain general he dwelt as a king in the midst of his

troops, preserving order and discipline, and seeing that his

fellow soldiers were provided with requisites for their warfare,

and the necessaries of life.

As a man he did not think himself superior to the meanest

offices in domestic life, to relieve or support his fellow

creatures; he went about comforting the mourners-visiting the sick

and afflicted, and ministering to their wants, and seeing that the

wounded were properly attended. Noble Job! Look at him, ye nobles

of the earth, ye lieutenants of counties, ye generals of armies,

and ye lords of provinces. Look at JOB! Imitate his active

benevolence, and be healthy and happy. Be as guardian angels in

your particular districts, blessing all by your example and your

bounty. Send your hunting horses to the plough, your game cocks to

the dunghill; and at last live like men and Christians.

Copyright information for Clarke