Saturday, March 21, 2009

Job 5:12-27

from verse 8, God ...

Note that Tur Sinai does not think that Eliphaz means God by אל verse 8a or אלהים verse 8b. True enough, אלהים is rare in Job which uses the singular אלוה more often than the other two. Why does Eliphaz who uses אלוה in both chapter 4 and 5 not use it for these verses where he seems to be describing what God does by any name?

who does great things and there is no finding out
his wonders without number
giving rain on the face of the earth
sending waters on the face of the streets
to set up the low on high
and the crushed to exalt to safety

TS is splitting hairs by not considering these variations as invoking the same mystery. Or perhaps he is cutting the hair because there is a difference but it is not explained by depriving the verbs of verses 10 to 16 of a suitable subject.

who frustrates the machinations of the subtle(5)
and their hands will not make for success
he captures the wise in their own subtlety
and the counsel of the tortuous is precipitated

by day they meet darkness
and as at night they grope at noon
but he saves from the sword
from their mouth
and from the hand of the powerful
the poor
so there is for the deprived hope
and evil shuts its mouth

Behold happy is the mortal whom God reproves
the mentoring of the Sufficient do not refuse(6)
for this one mars and he binds
he wounds and his hands make whole(7)

From six afflictions he will deliver you
and in seven no evil will touch you
from famine he will ransom you
and in war from the hand of the sword

from the scourge of a tongue you will be secreted
and you will not be afraid of ruin when it comes(8)
at ruin and penury you will laugh(9)

and from the living of the earth you will not be afraid
for with the stones of the field is your covenant
and the living of the field are at peace with you(10)

and you will know for the peace in your tent
and you will visit your home and not sin(11)
and you will know that plentiful is your seed
and your offspring as the grass of the earth
and you will come in full to your tomb
as a rich heap is offered in its time

Lo this we have found
so hear and you will know it for yourself
(5) before this verse ערום subtle is used in Scripture in Genesis 3:1 and 1 Samuel 23:22 (and see psalm 54 for its comment on 1 Samuel). How will God in this story carry out the frustration of the subtle one? Not from the rehearsal of the obvious that follows.
(6) this word מאס which I have rendered refuse will become a thread in the conversation.
(7) see psalms 18, 68, 110 - whether Eliphaz sees this deeply or is just mouthing common expressions - true or not, I cannot tell. A true word sincerely but inaptly spoken creates a lie.
(8) Psalm 91 and a number of other psalms seem to have allusions here, but the context is odd. In the Psalter, the placement of a truth seems to me to avoid platitude. Psalm 91 is a response to the prayer of Moses in Psalm 90 and part of the expression of hope following the great lament of Psalm 89. Here, Eliphaz seems to use words both right and true of hope but in a place where they become accusation rather than strength.
(9) TS suggests reading the letters as Aramaic לשדי לכפן at shooting and stones you will laugh in place of לְשֹׁד וּלְכָפָן at ruin and penury.
(10) These are odd phrasings - what is a covenant with the stones? TS leaves question marks even in his translation but does attempt to identify the 6 and the 7 afflictions as enumerated in these verses: famine and war, the evil tongue, destruction by God or a malevolent spirit, stones and wild beast, parental and conjugal bereavement. I think the seventh must be personal affliction - skin for skin. I am not sure then that I want to introduce the Aramaic stones.
(11) TS renders this as 'nothing is missing when you inspect your pasture'.

Enough for the moment - Eliphaz does not score high for me on sensitivity.

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