Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Job 4:1-11

And Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said

To prevent a word to you(1)
you will do nothing
and to withhold speeches
who has power to do it?

Behold you have mentored many(2)
and weak hands you have made to prevail
one who is falling your speeches have upheld
and bowed knees you have straightened

for now it comes to you
and you will do nothing
it reaches you
and you are dismayed
Is it not your fear that is your confidence
your hope and the completeness of your ways?

Remember then if anyone innocent perished
or where the upright are cut down
for as I have seen
who plow iniquity and sow misery reap it
by the breath of God they perish
and by the snort of his nose they are consumed

The lion's cry and the aged beast's voice
and the teeth of the whelps that roam
the codger cat perishes for lack of prey
as the cubs are dispersed...

Is Eliphaz maintaining a sympathetic manner or is he accusing Job of failing to respect his own fear? The story may seem disconnected as TS maintains and based on his analysis, there do seem to be a lot of different and to me oddball things about the language in the dialogue so far, but the story is not totally separate. The completeness and the upright motifs hearken back to chapters 1 and 2 by using exactly the same words in this first response. Such key words are part of the frame of the puzzle.

On lions see also here. There are in this verse five different words for lion.

For the moment, I am going to give Eliphaz the benefit of the doubt. I do not think he is tearing into Job like a beast of prey - at least not yet. I am also giving TS the benefit of the doubt and will use him as if I had an Aramaic dictionary - though after a few chapters, I am going to seek out another commentary just to see if anyone else likes his work. Maybe there is an Aramaic dictionary at the university ...

(1) Eliphaz - how will we hear you? Are you really God's fine gold, or are you dispensing something else? (to prevent per Tur Sinai)

(2) It is a polite beginning after 7 days of silence and following the opening lament. (Note: taught the powerless, an Aramaism per TS. "taught many" also reads well - and there is power emphasized in the prior verse so I avoid the sound here. I changed it to mentor since I have reserved teaching to other words - see between chapters 32 and 33 later - several posts on the thread of instruction.)

For other Job related posts, click here.

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