Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Job 3:1-8

After this opened Job his mouth and slandered וַיְקַלֵּל his day

Note: (per TS) 'his day' is not the day of his birth, but the day of his current situation. We come into the middle of a conversation. Job is replying to his day.

And Job answered and said
Perish! day in which I was born
and the night that said a child is conceived

TS thinks Jeremiah does a better curse of his birthday (Jeremiah 20:14-18). I think Job does a good job as well. Is he failing in his righteousness by cursing his day? TS also has emended the text to make the night refuse אימרו for אמר the conception. He is well reasoned and plausible, but I am not in the reconstruction business yet. At the moment I take the text as we have it. Day is without the article, night with. Yes I am that rigid when I read. I want to hear the angles. One curious angle is the odd designation for God in this book. The usual Elohim occurs rarely (only once in chapter 20, then once in the wisdom poem in chapter 28, and in Elihu's speeches and once in God's speeches). Instead everywhere else (41 times) we have the singular Eloah. 80% of the 50 or so occurrences in the Bible are in Job. Like Elohim, it is not a personal name, but a class name.

The day - that one - let it be darkness
let God not ask for it from above
nor let a sunbeam on it shine
let darkness and obscurity redeem it
let a cloud dwell on it
let blackness of day terrify it

The night - that one - let gloom take it
let it not rejoice the days of the year
into the number of months let it not come
behold the night - that one - let it be barren
let no joyful cry come into it
let them blaspheme it that curse the day
those ready to rouse Leviathan

There is no scribal euphemism for curse here as there was in the story in the earlier chapters. There are three different words in this short section for curse, slander, and blaspheme - KJV has curse for them all.

TS has 'let it not be added to the days of the year' rhyming (conceptually) with 'count' rather than 'joy' in the later verse. Whichever you prefer, note the typical verb/noun phrase followed by noun phrase/verb in the parallel. Where English permits, I will always try to keep these small enclosures. They are the thought parcels of the poetry.

The mention of leviathan is completely obscured in the traditional translation. It does form an inclusion with Job 41:1. Surely this is less than an accident. It should encourage us to see the monsters of the Bible as reflecting our own psychology as Richard Beck has been exploring. TS interprets the verbs as 'the heroes that Leviathan awoke.' This will likely make more sense later when we discover the other allusions in the poem to the primeval battle of Leviathan against God. There are many today who would incite us to consider the aspects of chaos rather than good in creation. So I don't need to force a primeval myth on this poem - without also making it present to us. It matters little whether the inciters are incited by Leviathan or vice versa. (Update: I have altered incite to rouse for the sake of the irony of the insipid Bildad in chapter 8).

I am going to keep these posts shorter. Whole chapters are too much for one meal.

(For other Job related posts, click here.)

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