Job 29:6a is translated various ways. The apparently more literal one's being:
(KJV) When I washed my steps with butter
(NASB) When my steps were bathed in butter [NET has 'with butter']
(ESV) when my steps were washed with butter
(NIV) when my path was drenched with cream
However some, apparently literal, have a slightly different meaning given, where instead of the path being referenced, it is the feet themselves:
(HCSB) when my feet were bathed in cream
(Douay-Rheims) When I washed my feet with butter
And then Young's literal applies it more to the action itself of moving:
(YLT) When washing my goings with butter
The more interpretive translations attempt to give their view of the literal phrasing, with some varied results:
(NLT) My cows produced milk in abundance
(ISV) I was successful wherever I went
Questions on the Interpretation
The above leads to various questions about the proper translation of the original, and therefore the meaning of it. I'm desiring a more "literal" translation (I prefer to leave the symbolic connections to be made by the reader, not the translator). Some points I would like to see addressed in an answer are the following, related to the Hebrew text:
- Is it properly active "I washed" or passive "were washed" action?
- Is it properly "washed," "bathed," or "drenched" as the action?
- Is it properly the idea of the "path"/"steps," or the "feet" themselves, or the "goings" that is being referenced?
- Is it properly "butter" or "cream" referenced (similar, but yet different forms, the latter liquid, the former solid, indicating a different level of processing involved)?
- If #3 is to either "path"/"steps" or "feet," was there a historical practice of wealthy people (which Job is stated to be, Job 1:3) washing the particular item (path/feet) as either a show of themselves or benefit to them because of their wealth? Or is that aspect purely making a metaphorical statement (note: if there is a literal practice, it does not mean it may not have a metaphorical idea still), and not something that was ever done historically?
- Anything else you want to contribute is fine as well.