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1* Job took up his theme again and said:
2Oh, that I were as in the months past,
as in the days when God watched over me:a
3While he kept his lamp shining above my head,
and by his light I walked through darkness;
4As I was in my flourishing days,
when God sheltered my tent;
5When the Almighty was still with me,
and my children were round about me;
6When my footsteps were bathed in cream,
and the rock flowed with streams of oil.*
7Whenever I went out to the gate of the city
and took my seat in the square,
8The young men saw me and withdrew,
and the elders rose up and stood;
9Officials refrained from speaking
and covered their mouths with their hands;b
10The voice of the princes was silenced,
and their tongues stuck to the roofs of their mouths.
11The ear that heard blessed me;
the eye that saw acclaimed me.
12For I rescued the poor who cried out for help,
the orphans, and the unassisted;
13The blessing of those in extremity came upon me,
and the heart of the widow I made joyful.
14I wore my righteousness like a garment;
justice was my robe and my turban.
15I was eyes to the blind,
and feet to the lame was I.
16I was a father to the poor;
the complaint of the stranger I pursued,
17And I broke the jaws of the wicked man;
from his teeth I forced the prey.
18I said: “In my own nest I shall grow old;
I shall multiply years like the phoenix.*
19My root is spread out to the waters;
the dew rests by night on my branches.
20My glory is fresh within me,
and my bow is renewed in my hand!”
21For me they listened and waited;
they were silent for my counsel.
22Once I spoke, they said no more,
but received my pronouncement drop by drop.
23They waited for me as for the rain;
they drank in my words like the spring rains.
24When I smiled on them they could not believe it;
they would not let the light of my face be dimmed.
25I decided their course and sat at their head,
I lived like a king among the troops,
like one who comforts mourners.
* [29:1] This chapter begins Job’s soliloquy, which will end in 31:40. He describes in florid and exaggerated terms his former lifestyle with all its blessings, a deliberate contrast to his current plight, which will be further described in chap. 30.
* [29:18] Phoenix: a legendary bird which, after several centuries of life, consumed itself in fire, then rose from its ashes in youthful freshness.
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