Job 30:4

4 In the brush they gathered salt herbs, and their fooda was the root of the broom bush.

Read Job 30:4 Using Other Translations

Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for their meat.
they pick saltwort and the leaves of bushes, and the roots of the broom tree for their food.
They pluck wild greens from among the bushes and eat from the roots of broom trees.

What does Job 30:4 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Job 30:4

Who cut up mallows by the bushes
Which with the Troglodytes were of a vast size F18; or rather "upon the bush" F19 or "tree"; and therefore cannot mean what we call mallows, which are herbs on the ground, and grow not on trees or bushes; and, besides, are not for food, but rather for medicine: though Plutarch F20 says they, were the food of the meaner sort of people; so Horace F21 speaks of them as such; and the word in the original is near in sound to a mallow; but it signifies something salt, wherefore Mr. Broughton renders it "salt herbs"; so Grotius, such as might grow by the seaside, or in salt marshes; and in Edom, or Idumea, where Job lived, was a valley of salt, see ( 2 Kings 14:7 ) . Jarchi says it is the same with what the Syrians in their language call "kakuli", which with them is a kind of pulse; but what the Turks at this day call "kakuli" is a kind of salt herb, like to "alcali", which is the food of camels F24 the Septuagint render the word by "alima"; and, by several modern learned men, what is intended is thought to be the "halimus" of Dioscorides, Galen, and Avicenna; which is like unto a bramble, and grows in hedges and maritime places; the tops of which, when young and tender, are eaten, and the leaves boiled for food, and are eaten by poor people, being what soon filled the belly, and satisfied; and seem to be the same the Moors call "mallochia", and cry about the streets, as food for the poor to buy F25: however it appears upon the whole to be the tops or leaves of some sort of shrub, which Idumean people used to gather and live upon. The following story is reported in the Talmud F26 concerning King Jannai, who

``went to Cochalith in the wilderness, and there subdued sixty fortified towns; and, upon his return, he greatly rejoiced, and called all the wise men of Israel, and said unto them, our fathers ate "malluchim" (the word used in this text of Job) at the time they were employed in building the sanctuary; so we will eat "malluchim" on remembrance of our fathers; and they set "malluchim" on tables of gold, and they ate;''

which the gloss interprets herbs; the name of which, in the Syriac language, is "kakuli"; the Targum is, who plucks up thorns instead of eatable herbs. Some F1 render the word "nettles", see ( Job 30:7 ) ;

juniper roots [for] their meat,
or "bread" F2; with the roots of which the poor were fed in time of want, as Schindler F22 observes: that bread may be, and has been made out of roots, is certain, as with the West Indians, out of the roots of "ages" and "jucca" F3; and in particular juniper roots in the northern countries have been used for bread F4; and there were a people in Ethiopia above Egypt, who lived upon roots of reeds prepared, and were called "rhisophagi" F5, "root eaters": some render the words, "or juniper roots to heat", or "warm with" F6, as the word is used in ( Isaiah 47:14 ) ; and coals of juniper have in them a very great and vehement heat, see ( Psalms 120:3 Psalms 120:4 ) ; but if any part of the juniper tree was taken for this purpose, to warm with when cold, one should think the branches, or the body of the tree, should be cut down, rather than the roots dug up: another sense is given by some {g}, that meat or bread is to be understood of the livelihood these persons got by digging up juniper roots, and selling them: there are others that think, that not the roots of juniper, but of "broom" F8, are meant, whose rape, or navew, or excrescence from the roots of it, seem to be more fit food. All this agrees with the Troglodytes, whom Pliny F9 represents as thieves and robbers, and, when pressed with famine, dig up herbs and roots: cutters of roots are reckoned among the worst of men by Manetho F11.


FOOTNOTES:

F18 Diodorus Siculus, l. 3. p. 175.
F19 (xyv yle) "super virgulto", Montanus, Schultens; "super arbustum", Bochart.
F20 In symposio septem sap.
F21 "-----me pascunt olivae. Me cichorea levesque malvae". Carmin. l. 1. Ode. 31. & Epod. Ode. 2.
F24 Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 4. p. 760.
F25 lbid. vid. Reinesium de Lingua Punic. c. 9. S. 20, 21.
F26 T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 66. 1.
F1 David de Pomis Lexic. fol. 80. 3.
F2 (Mmxl) "panis eorum", Montanus, Michaelis, Schultens.
F22 Lexic. col. 1775.
F3 Pet. Martyr. de Angleria, decad. 1. l. 1.
F4 Olaus Magnus, de Ritu Gent. Septent. l. 12. c. 4.
F5 Diod. Sic. l. 3. p. 159.
F6 "Ad calefaciendum se", Pagninus; so Kimchi, Sepher Shorash rad, (Mmx) .
F7 Hillerus apud Schultens in loc.
F8 (Mymtr vrv) "radix genistarum", Michaelis, Schultens; so some in Mercerus, Drusius, & Gussetius, p. 839.
F9 Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 8.
F11 Apotelesm. l. 5. v. 183.
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