Job’s Eighth Answer, Part 4 of 5 & En Gedi

Back in the Great Depression a lot of wealthy people committed suicide because without their wealth they saw no reason to live. 

I think Job’s friends would have done that if they were in his shoes.  Job obviously trusts You, and even though he assumes that You are the cause of his predicament, he hasn’t walked away from You or even suggested suicide. 

Famous Vineyards
The abundant springs and year-round temperate climate provided the perfect conditions for agriculture in ancient times.

Solomon compared his lover to “a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi,” an indication of the beauty and fertility of the site (Song 1:14).

Evidence has been of workshops used in the perfume industry to distill products made from balsam.

It has even been suggested that the perfume production at En Gedi was part of a royal estate.

In contrast to the positive notes of blessing and honor sounded in ch 29, Job now bemoans the suffering and dishonor he has been forced to undergo.  God has heaped overwhelming terrors on him (v 15).  His final, forlorn lament (see v 31) over his condition shows that his rage has not yet subsided.

“But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock.  Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, in whom old age was perished?” (Job 30:1-2)

In his prime, Job viewed those who now condemn him as weak and decrepit.

“For want and famine they were solitary; fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and waste.  Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for their meat” (Job 30:3-4).

mallows – probably saltwort, which grows in otherwise infertile areas, including the regions east of Sinai where Job and his friends lived (cf 39:6).

juniper toots – or broom shrubs, large bushes that grow in the deserts of the Middle East (see 1 Kgs 19:4; Ps 120:4).

“They were driven forth from among men, (they cried after them as after a thief; To dwell in the clifts of the valleys, in caves of the earth, and in the rocks.  Among the bushes they brayed; under the nettles they were gathered together.  They were children of fools, yea, children of base men: they were viler than the earth.

And now am I their song, yea, I am their byword.  They abhor me, they flee far from me, and spare not to spit in my face.  Because he hath loosed my cord, and afflicted me, they have also let loose the bridle before me” (Job 30:5-11).

They…let loose the bridle before me – People who once respected Job now had no restraint in their attacks against him.

Springs
Even though there are many springs around the Dead Sea, most of them have a high salt content.

En Gedi is one of only two fresh water springs located on the western shore of the Dead Sea and, because of the greater availability of land for agriculture at En Gedi, it is the best spring by which to settle.

Josephus praised En Gedi for its palm trees and balsam, and the writer of Ecclesiasticus spoke of wisdom that was exalted like a palm tree in En Gedi” (24:14).

One day, the prophet Ezekiel predicted, fishermen would line the shores of the Dead Sea by En Gedi (47:10).

 

“Upon my right hand rise the youth; they push away my feet, and they raise up against me the ways of their destruction.  They mar my path, they set forward my calamity, they have no helper.  They came upon me as a wide breaking in of waters: in the desolation they rolled themselves upon me.

Terrors are turned upon me: they pursue my soul as the wind: and my welfare passeth away as a cloud.  And now my soul is poured out upon me; the days of affliction have taken hold upon me.  My bones are pierced in me in the night season: and my sinews take no rest.  By the great force of my disease is my garment changed: it bindeth me about as the collar of my coat” (Job 30:12-18).

Job’s affliction is like a garment that is about to choke him to death. 

“He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes” (Job 30:19).

dust and ashes – Symbolic of humiliation and insignificance.  Job would someday use dust and ashes to symbolize repentance (42:6).

“I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me: I stand up, and thou regardest me not.  Thou art become cruel to me: with thy strong hand thou opposest thyself against me.

David’s Flight from Saul
Around 1000 B.C., En Gedi served as one of the main places of refuge for David as he fled from Saul.

David “dwelt in strongholds at En Gedi” (1 Sam 23:29).

En Gedi means literally “the spring of the kid (goat).”

Evidence exists that young ibex have always lived near the springs of En Gedi.

One time when David was fleeing from King Saul, the pursuers searched the “Crags of the Ibex” in the vicinity of En Gedi. In a cave near here, David cut off the corner of Saul’s robe (1 Sam 24).

Thou liftest me up to the wind; thou causest me to ride upon it, and dissolvest my substance.  For I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living” (Job 30:20-23).

Job now directs his thoughts away from men and toward God.  He accuses God of abusing His power by attacking him despite his please for mercy.  He tells God that He had tossed him about with a violent wind.

“Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave, though they cry in his destruction” (Job 30:24).

he will not stretch out his hand…grave – it appears that God refuses to help even though Job is at the point of death.

“Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul grieved for the poor?  When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness.  My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction prevented me.  I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and I cried in the congregation.  I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls” (Job 30:25-29).

brother to dragons…companions to owls – dragons = jackals and owls may be ostriches.  The prophet Micha uses similar imagery of himself in Mic 1:8.

“My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.  My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep” (Job 30:30-31:).

Chalcolithic Temple
The earliest remains at En Gedi are of a temple from the Chalcolithic Period (about 4000 – 3150 B.C.).

Archaeologist believe that this is proof that En Gedi supported a significant settlement at that time.

The “Cave of Treasure” in the Nahal Mishmar was excavated by P. Bar-Adon and is thought to be connected with this temple.

The cave is approximately six miles south of En Gedi. A hoard of extremely well preserved artifacts was found in the cave, most of which were made of copper.

It has been suggested that the articles were used in the temple rituals at En Gedi and were hid in the cave for safe keeping.

1Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.  Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  are ye not much better than they?

Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

Cave Window

And why take ye thought for raiment?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt 6:25-33).

En Gedi

En Gedi (“spring of the goats”) is located on the western side of the Dead Sea. The site was inhabited as far back as the 4th millennium B.C., the period from which the remains of a temple have been discovered.

En Gedi, sometimes spelled Ein Gedi, meaning “The Spring of the Goat”, is a town on the west side of the Dead Sea in Israel.

En Gedi is the place where David fled from King Saul.

It is a place where four fresh water springs erupt from the desert wall and create an oasis of fertile ground for plants and animals.

En Gedi has long been used as a place where desert travelers could come and rest, regain their strength, then move back out into the desert.

Don’t be fooled by the big “sea” in the pictures, remember that is the Dead Sea, only salt water is to be found in it.

After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told,

“David is in the Desert of En Gedi” 1 Sam 24:1-2.

So Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.

He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself.

David and his men were far back in the cave.

A cave several miles south of En Gedi has yielded ivory carvings and other objects that were probably temple items hidden by the inhab­itants before an Egyptian campaign in the area.To the north of the area, occupation levels dating from the 7th century B.C. to the 5th century A.D. have been uncovered. Today a kibbutz (Israeli communal or settlement) and nature park are located at En Gedi.

Dead Sea Oasis
En Gedi is the largest oasis along the western shore of the Dead Sea.

The springs here have allowed nearly continuous inhabitation of the site since the Chalcolithic period.

The area was allotted to the tribe of Judah, and was famous in the time of Solomon (Josh 15:62).

Today the Israeli kibbutz of En Gedi sits along the southern bank of the Nahal Arugot.

While under Israelite occupation the city belonged to the territory of Judah (Josh 15:62).  David sought refuge from Saul at En Gedi (1 Sam 23:29) and hid in a cave in close reach of the king. (Still today numerous caves pockmark the hillsides above the waterfall there.)

In Chr 20:2 the site is given the name Hazazon Tamar, which in Hebrew suggests a grove of palm trees, and Song of Songs/Song of Solomon 1:14 inform us that there were beautiful vineyards there.

It was from this location that the Moahbites, Amorites and Edomites attempted to invade Judah (2 Chr  20), possibly because the terrain was so difficult that an attack from this direction would have been unexpected.

Nevertheless Jehoshaphat was warned of their plan, and the Lord answered his prayer by turning the invading armies upon one another, so that the Judahite army found only dead bodies and plunder (vv.5-26).

En Gedi was destroyed by Nebuchad­nezzar in 582 B.C. in the aftermath of his destruction of Jerusalem.’ When the Israel­ites returned from captivity they rebuilt the site, which was later occupied by the Has-moneans.

Herod the Great destroyed this town and then rebuilt and fortified it, but this settlement too was destroyed during the Jewish War.

In the nearby caves several letters were found that had been written by Bar Kokhba, leader of the Jewish uprising that was defeated in 135 A.D., indicating that Bar Kokhba and his men had used En Gedi as a hideout.