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Job’s past blessedness ch. 29
"Chapter 29 is another classic example of Semitic rhetoric with all the elements of good symmetrical style. . . . The pattern is as follows:
"Blessing, Job 29:2-6
Honor, Job 29:7-11
Job’s benevolence, Job 29:12-17
Blessing, Job 29:18-20
Honor, Job 29:21-25 . . .
"Job in asserting his benevolence places a description of it in the climatic position in this oration, with the key line (Job 29:14) in the exact middle of the poem." [Note: Smick, "Architectonics, Structured . . .," pp. 92-93.]
Another way to divide this chapter is into two sections. In Job 29:1-11 Job longed for the former days, and in Job 29:12-25 he explained why he had enjoyed them.
Job’s fellowship with God evidently meant the most to him since he mentioned this blessing first (Job 29:2-5 a). Butter and oil (Job 29:6) were symbols of prosperity. The rock (Job 29:6 b) may refer to an olive press or perhaps to the rocky soil out of which olive trees grew. Unlike God’s present treatment of him, Job had assisted the injured and had punished oppressors (Job 29:17). Most translators have rendered the Hebrew word hol at the end of Job 29:18 "sand," but one writer argued that it refers to the mythical phoenix bird. [Note: Henry Heras, "The Standard of Job’s Immortality," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 11 (1949):263-79.] Job had also provided encouragement and comfort for the despondent (Job 29:24-25) in contrast to his friends.
"Job’s review of his life [in this chapter] is one of the most important documents in Scripture for the study of Israelite ethics." [Note: Andersen, p. 230.]
2. Job’s defense of his innocence ch. 29-31
Job gave a soliloquy before his dialogue with his three friends began (ch. 3). Now he concluded that dialogue with two soliloquies (chs. 28 and 29-31). In this second of the bracketing two, Job longed for his past state of blessedness (ch. 29), lamented his present misery (ch. 30), and reaffirmed his innocence calling on God to vindicate him in the future (ch. 31). This whole discourse is a kind of concluding summary of his case, and he delivered it as if he were in court. He made no reference to his three companions in it.
"Job has decided how he will rest his case. He takes a daring step in a final attempt to clear himself. He swears an avowal of innocence. His oath forces the issue, for the oath compels God either to clear him or to activate the curses. Even if God continues to remain silent, that would be an answer, for if the curses Job utters are not activated, the entire community would be convinced that Job is innocent. So after swearing this avowal of innocence, Job will sit in silence, awaiting God’s answer." [Note: Hartley, p. 385.]
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 29". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20