Monday, November 30, 2009

The conversations in Job - a condensed version of chapters 4-19

Let's have 6 actors and see if we can put the cycle of speeches into a 20 minute reading! Assume chapter 1-3 have been read. YHWH's hand through the mediation of the accuser, a role that any competent religious judge could play, has been applied. Job has responded with a denial of the value of creation. To do this, of course, we must take terrible liberties with the poetry :(

Eliphaz: (2 chapters and some lovely metaphors reduced to 18 lines)

You would not stop anyone from speaking to you
and who would have the power to withhold speeches!
We know you have mentored many
and made weak hands to prevail
for now it comes to you and you stop at nothing!
Is it not your fear your confidence?
is a warrior more pure than his maker?
I myself have seen the obstinate angry
his children are far from safety and they are crushed in the gate
and there is no one to rescue
for iniquity doesn't come from dust

Nevertheless for me, I would seek to the One
and to God I would set up my case
my words are a gasp
for the arrows of the Sufficient are against me
where their poison drinks my spirit

Does it bray - a wild ass with tender herbs
or does an ox low over its corn?
to one in despair from his friend there should be loving-kindness
and the fear of the Sufficient when he is abandoned
so humor me and be present to me
for it is in your presence if I lie
Can my taste not understand calamity?

Is it not the press-gang for a mortal on earth
like the days of a mercenary, his days?
So there is to me a torrent of empty months
and nights of misery are set for me
when I lie down, I say when shall I arise
and I am sated with tossing till twilight

Remember that but a breath is my life
my eye will not return back to see good
the eye of my seer will not look on me
your eyes on me and there is no me

so as for me I will not spare my mouth
I will complain in the bitterness of my being

Am I the sea or a sea monster that you put a watch on me?
When I say my bed will comfort me
and my couch will lift my complaint
then you break me with dreams
and with visions terrify me
Enough! - I will not live for ever
Cease from me - for my days are vanity
What is a mortal that you make him great
and that you fix on him your heart
and that you visit him every morning
and every moment scrutinize him?
How long till you not stare at me
or let me be till I swallow my spit?
And why not lift up my transgression
and pass over my iniquity?
for now in the dust I will lie down
and early you will seek me and there is no me
How long will you give speech to such things!
a great wind are the words of your mouth
does the One subvert judgment
and does the Sufficient subvert justice?
If your children sinned against him
then he sent them away by the hand of their transgressions
As for you, if you would seek the One early
and ingratiate yourself to the Sufficient
if you yourself are clean and upright
he will rouse himself for you
to make whole the home of your justice
Can rush grow lacking a swamp
reed increase without water?
yet in its tenderness and unplucked
in the face of any grass it dries up
So are the paths of all who forget the One
And how can a mortal be just with the One!
If one desires to contend with him
one cannot answer him once in a thousand
Wise of heart or courageous of strength
who hardens against him and remains whole?
Lo - he passes over me and I don't see him
he passes quickly and I don't understand him
Lo - he seizes, who can hinder him
who will say to him - what are you doing?
One thing therefore I said
complete or wicked he consumes
There is not between us a referee
that might fix his hand on the two of us

your hands shaped me and made me
together on every side yet you swallow me
Remember please that as clay you made me
and to the dust you will bring me
I abandon for me my complaint
I speak in the misery of my being

I say to God - do not condemn me
Let me know why you contend with me
Is it good to you that you oppress
that you refuse the labour of your open palms
Have you not as milk poured me out
and as cheese curdled me?
skin and flesh - you clothed me
and with bones and sinews you hedged me
life and loving-kindness- you made for me
and your visit - you watch my spirit
and these things you treasured in your heart
I know this is with you
Cease your fixation from me and let me smile a little
before I go and not return
to the land of darkness and obscurity
Will many words not be answered
as if man with lips will be justified?
nevertheless let it be given that God will speak
and open his lips against you
and tell you secret wisdom
High as heaven, what will you do?
Deep as Sheol, what do you know?
If he passes or shuts
or gathers, who can turn him?
and a hollow man will be heartened
when a wild ass's foal is born a human

If for you, you establish your heart
and stretch out to him your open palms
for then you will lift up your face without blemish
and you will be poured firm and will not fear
For you, you will forget misery
and at noon transience will rise and fly away
as morning you will become

but the eyes of the wicked will be consumed
and flight perishes from them
their hope is to lose their lives
"Nevertheless for me, to the Sufficient I would speak"
but I desire to reason with the One
And nevertheless for you, smearers of lies
worthless physicians the lot of you
If only you were given silence and you kept silent
it would be wisdom to you
Reason? he will reason with you
if you secretly prefer your own faces
Should not his height terrify you
and his dread fall on you

Your memorials are a parable of dust
bodies of clay your bodies
Be silent - back off
and I myself will speak
and he will pass over me
on whatever
I will lift up my flesh by my teeth
and my life place in my open palm

Lo - he will kill me
I do not wait

But two things do not do against me
then from your faces I will not conceal myself
Your open palm put far from me
and your horror - let it not terrify me
then call and I myself will answer
or I will speak and you will turn to me

For what are my iniquities and my sins
my transgressions and my sins make me to know
and why do you conceal your faces
and count me as your enemy?
a scattered leaf will worry you?
and dry stubble will you hound?

for you write against me bitter things
and you cast in me the iniquities of my youth
You put my feet in the stocks
and watch all my paths
you pierce the roots of my feet
and this as rot decays
as a moth-eaten cloak

Human born of woman
is few of days and sated of trouble
As flower it comes forth and is cut off
and it flees as shadow and does not stand
Indeed on such you open your eyes
and me you bring to judgment with you

For there is for a tree hope if it is cut down
that again it will sprout
but a warrior dies vanquished
a human expires and where is he?

If only you would treasure me in Sheol
and conceal me till your wrath is turned
Fix me a decree and remember me
If a warrior will die will he live?
All the days of my pressed service I will wait
till my change comes

You will call and I, I will answer you
you will desire the work of your hands
for then you will number my steps
and not watch over my sin
My transgression sealed in a bundle
and you will smear over my iniquity
But water wears stones
you overflow the abundance of the dust of the earth
and the hope of a mortal you destroy
you prevail in perpetuity and he goes
Eliphaz (2nd reply)
Should one who is wise answer windy knowledge
and fill his belly with the east wind?
For your mouth teaches iniquity
and you chose the tongue of the subtle
your own mouth condemns you and not I
and your own lips answer you
Why does your heart take you away
and why do your eyes scowl
that you turn against the One your wind
and let forth from your mouth such speeches?
Let not the wanderer have faith in emptiness
for emptiness will be the recompense
not in his day will it be filled
and his branch will not be green
he will expel like the vine his sour grape
and he will cast off as the olive his blossom
I have heard many such things
miserable comforters - all of you
If I speak my pain is not spared
it grinds its teeth at me
my trouble sharpens its eyes on me
They gape on me with their mouths
with reproach they strike my cheek
as one against me they are filled
the One has shut me up with injustice
and to the hand of the wicked he has surrendered me

Earth cover not my blood
and let there be no end of place for my outcry
to God my eye tears
that a warrior might reason with God
and a child of a human with his friend
for numbered years are come upon me
and the path of no return I will go

He has exhibited me as a parable of the peoples
and spittle in the face I am become
weak from grief is my eye
and my features as a shadow - all of them
To the pit I called - my father are you
my mother and my sister - to the worm
and where now is my hope?
and my hope - who will look on it?
in the solitude of Sheol they will descend
in unity
in the dust
For what purpose are we counted as the beast
Impure in your eyes?
He tears his being in his anger
On account of you should earth be abandoned
And the rock be removed from its place?

Even the light of the wicked will be extinguished
and the spark of his fire will not shine
light is darkness in his tent
and his candle with him will be extinguished
the steps of his vigor will be shortened
and his own counsel will cast him down
Such are the dwellings of injustice
And this is the place without knowledge of the One
How long will you grieve me and crush me with speeches?
Lo! I cry out - violence! and I am not answered
I shout and there is no judgment
My path he has shut off and I pass not
and in my tracks he puts darkness
To my skin and to my flesh my bones cling
and I am stuck in the skin of my teeth
Be gracious, be gracious, you my friends
for the hand of God has touched me

If only it was now my sayings were written
if only it was in a book they were inscribed
With a pen of iron and lead
for ever in the rock engraved
And I - I know my vindicating of life
and at the last on dust it will rise
and after this my skin stricken
and from my flesh I will discern God
whom I - I will discern for myself
and my eyes will see and not a stranger
fired my own fires within me

For you should say - why do we hound him?
For the root of the thing is determined in me
Take care, for you are in the presence of the sword
Well - I think that's enough for one day - chapters 20-41 will have to wait.

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