Monday, March 23, 2009

Job 6:1-10

It is polite for Job to respond but I do not expect an immediate reaction to the words of Eliphaz for surely we have not yet heard a full victim impact statement.

And Job answered and said
if only my grief were weighed and measured
and my calamity in the balance lifted up as one(1)
for then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea
therefore my words are a gasp
for the arrows of the Sufficient are against me
where their poison drinks my spirit
the terrors of God have disordered me(2)

Does it bray - a wild ass with tender herbs
or does an ox low over its corn?
Can it be eaten - the insipid without salt
or is there taste in the spittle of dreams?(3)
what my being refused to touch
these are my illness
my bread

if it be given - my request that comes
if what I hope for - God will give(4)
and God would be humored to crush me
that he would let go his hand and finish me(5)
then still is my consolation and I leap for joy
agony let him merciless(6)
for I did not hide the promises of holiness(7)

(1) Tur Sinai considers that יָחַד, together, in this sentence is out of place. He puts it with the next item with which the grief is to be compared in weight. Maybe - but for me, reading the sequence of the words, it is then necessary to postpone the thought of togetherness for several seconds and assign it to the sands of the seas together. I have left it where it is. The sand of the sea does not need the together. The stich is a parallel and there is one calamity / grief / anger that is lifted up. It is our calamity. We know such calamity even if it is because of one story like this in which our humanity and our arguments are placed 'together'.

(2) literally ordered but intending disorder - the pair of words related to terror and order recur frequently (> 7 times each) in the dialogue to come. It may turn out to be of no structural interest but along with that thread, I have noticed a number of words in these early chapters that occur only twice the second time being in chapters 28-31. It could be that some such frames are accidental or too dim to be perceived.

(3) the brilliant and memorable white of an egg is an apt metaphor - but not exactly a translation.

(4) a verse with second and penultimate word יִתֵּן - from to give

(5) a verse of two cola with rhyming verb forms hiphil - noun - piel; hiphil - noun - piel.

(6) I have changed mercy to loving kindness that I might preserve spare for another word and make this word merciless in the negative sense of showing no quarter. All this is for a first step to sound - not to do with 'absolute' meanings (for there are none) - but more feel than sense.

(7) better perhaps the words of the Holy One - but this is the only such phrase in Job

O my heart - this is difficult stuff - Tur Sinai has pages of explanation on spittle and poison which I must yet read - a fate almost worse than Job's.

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