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when my steps[a] were bathed[b] with butter[c]
and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil![d]
When I went out to the city gate
and secured my seat in the public square,[e]
the young men would see me and step aside,[f]
and the old men would get up and remain standing;

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. Job 29:6 tn Again, as in Job 21:17, “curds.”
  4. 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).
  5. Job 29:7 sn In the public square. The area referred to here should not be thought of in terms of modern western dimensions. The wide space, plaza, or public square mentioned here is the open area in the gate complex where legal and business matters were conducted. The area could be as small as a few hundred square feet.
  6. Job 29:8 tn The verb means “to hide; to withdraw.” The young men out of respect would withdraw or yield the place of leadership to Job (thus the translation “step aside”). The old men would rise and remain standing until Job took his seat—a sign of respect.