Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Job 6:11-21

Update: what follows is my attempt - I will revise it in a later post with some of Tur Sinai's corrections - I see he wrestled with exactly the same issues that I did in this short passage.

What is my strength that I should hope?
What is my terminus that I should prolong my life?
Is the strength of stones my strength?
Is my flesh of bronze?

What if my help is without help in me?
and success is banished from me?
to one in despair from his friend there should be loving-kindness
and the fear of the Sufficient he is abandoned

my brothers are treacherous like a torrent
as a channel of torrents they pass on
darkened by ice
keeping secret their snow
in time they thaw and vanish
in heat they are extinguished in their place

the paths of their way are twisted
they become formless and perish
the paths of Tema looked
the goings of Sheba waited for them

they were ashamed for he trusted
they came there and were confounded

for now you are being with him
you see brokenness and you are afraid

A brief analysis: 1. a set of questions that undermine the assumptions of the friends, 2. an extended metaphor on reliability countering the lion metaphor of Eliphaz, 3. applying the metaphor to the friends.

Again I note two patterns: some words occur twice exactly e.g. ashamed (but not confounded which is a hapax in Job), bronze (here and in Job 40:18). Some are quite frequent (more than 8 occurrences). I wonder if we will find that the paired words provide a frame and that frequently recurring words like strength, נפש (life, soul, being, self, etc), flesh, place, etc are threads to be followed. I will try and imagine a way of portraying these later in the process.

I have just seen a performance of Medea by Euripides. It makes an interesting contrast to Job. Misery can be self-inflicted. Job is innocent in that his misery is not seen as arising from his pique over being betrayed or a desire for vengeance.

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