Thursday, April 30, 2009

Job 14

There is tenderness in this passage. It is a fitting end to the first cycle. I find I must return to where I euphemized Sheol into grave and change it to Sheol - as a statement of hidden love. For this is not 'hell'. Some quote this passage as if Job's word on death is final and understood by him as such. I don't find the results so definitive.

Job seems almost to invent in a sliver of hope what must be thought about God if love is to be reconciled. Then he looks mortality in the face again.

Note there are some verbal conundra below that I have not resolved. Tus Sinai has the suggestion 'loiter' for the first occurrence of 'cease' that may lead to something. Human loiters, but tree doesn't. There is no single word or image that resolves this for me. I could ignore the recurrence but I would rather leave the thorn in the bush. Similarly portion suggests a covenant term.

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

Who gives purity from impurity? Not one
If engraved are his days, the number of his months with you
his decree you have made and he does not pass over it
Stare away from him and let him cease
while he accepts his days as a mercenary

For there is for a tree hope if it is cut down
that again it will sprout
and its tender branch will not cease
if its root ages in the earth
and in the dust the stock dies
from the smell of water it will flourish
and make a harvest like fresh growth

but a warrior dies vanquished
a human expires and where is he?
waters fail from sea
and stream, desolate, dries up
So mortal lies down and does not rise
till the heavens decay
he will not stir and will not be roused from his sleep

If only you would treasure me in Sheol
and conceal me till turned is your wrath
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
the work of your hands you will desire
for then my steps you number(1)
and you do not watch over my sin
my transgression is sealed in a bundle
and you smear over my iniquity

But nevertheless a mountain falling collapses
and a rock is removed from its place
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
you alter his face and send him
honoured are his children and he does not know
or insignificant and he does not understand it of them
But his flesh on him is marred(2)
and his being over him will lament

(1) I have not justified 'then' though BDB does list other passages where this word could be taken as such. I think the desolation of his hope waits for four more stichs. In the lines which follow, the verbs: number, watch, seal, and smear reflect earlier uses of the same word but positive rather than negative in tone. One could read them negatively also - pick your poison.
(2) REB seems to have completely 'rewritten' this verse: his flesh becomes his kin, and his soul becomes , his slaves! Interesting ideas.

Note the complementary psalm for this passage might be Psalm 1.

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