New English Translation
4 just as I was in my most productive time,[a]
when God’s intimate friendship[b] was experienced in my tent,
5 when the Almighty[c] was still with me
and my children were[d] around me;
6 when my steps[e] were bathed[f] with butter[g]
and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil![h]
- Job 29:4 tn Heb “in the days of my ripeness.” The word חֹרֶף (khoref) denotes the time when the harvest is gathered in because the fruit is ripe. Since this is the autumn, many translate that way here—but “autumn” has a different connotation now. The text is pointing to a time when the righteous reaps what he has sown, and can enjoy the benefits. The translation “most productive time” seems to capture the point better than “autumn” or even “prime.”
- Job 29:4 tc The word סוֹד (sod) in this verse is an infinitive construct, prefixed with the temporal preposition and followed by a subjective genitive. It forms a temporal clause. There is some disagreement about the form and its meaning. The confusion in the versions shows that they were paraphrasing to get the general sense. In the Bible the derived noun (from יָסַד, yasad) means (a) a circle of close friends; (b) intimacy. Others follow the LXX and the Syriac with a meaning of “protect,” based on a change from ד (dalet) to כ (kaf), and assuming the root was סָכַךְ (sakhakh). This would mean, “when God protected my tent” (cf. NAB). D. W. Thomas tries to justify this meaning without changing the text (“The Interpretation of BSŌD in Job 29:4, ” JBL 65 : 63-66).
- Job 29:5 tn Heb “Shaddai.”
- Job 29:5 tc Some commentators suggest that עִמָּדִי (ʿimmadi, “with me”) of the second colon of v. 6 (which is too long) belongs to the second colon of v. 5, and should be pointed as the verb עָמָדוּ (ʿamadu, “they stood”), meaning the boys stood around him (see, e.g., E. Dhorme, Job, 417). But as R. Gordis (Job, 319) notes, there is a purpose for the imbalance of the metric pattern at the end of a section.
- Job 29:6 tn The word is a hapax legomenon, but the meaning is clear enough. It refers to the walking, the steps, or even the paths where one walks. It is figurative of his course of life.
- Job 29:6 tn The Hebrew word means “to wash; to bathe”; here it is the infinitive construct in a temporal clause, “my steps” being the genitive: “in the washing of my steps in butter.”
- Job 29:6 tn Again, as in Job 21:17, “curds.”
- Job 29:6 tn The MT reads literally, “and the rock was poured out [passive participle] for me as streams of oil.” There are some who delete the word “rock” to shorten the line because it seems out of place. But olive trees thrive in rocky soil, and the oil presses are cut into the rock; it is possible that by metonymy all this is intended here (H. H. Rowley, Job [NCBC], 186).