Monday, April 13, 2009

Job 8

Bildad - perhaps 'son of contention', and he seems to come out the least of the three, but there are great peculiarities and incongruities in this visionary statement, perhaps a little quantum entanglement, and even some ironic prophecy. (Oh my aching adjectives.)

Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said
How long will you give speech to such things!
a great wind are the words of your mouth
does the One subvert judgment
and does the Sufficient subvert justice?

If your children sinned against him
then he sent them away by the hand of their transgressions
As for you, if you would seek the One early(1)
and ingratiate yourself to the Sufficient(2)
if you yourself are clean and upright
he will rouse himself for you(3)
to make whole the home of your justice

and as your beginning was small
so your end will increase greatly
but do ask of a former generation
and establish the findings of their fathers
for we ourselves are yesterday and know nothing
for a shadow are our days upon earth
will not they instruct you and say to you
and from their heart bring forth speeches

Can rush grow lacking a swamp
reed increase without water?
yet in its tenderness and unplucked
in the face of any grass it dries up

So are the paths of all who forget the One
and the hope of the hypocrite perishes
whose confidence will be cut off
and a spider's web(4) his trust
let him support his web but it will not stand
let him prevail in it, but it will not rise

Moist in the face of the sun(5)
and in his garden his branch comes forth
around rubble his roots are wrapped
the house of stones he discerns

if swallowed from his place
then it will deny him - I have not seen you
Lo - this is the joy of his way
but from dust others will spring up

Lo - God will not reject completeness
nor will he prevail in the hand of evildoers
till he fills with laughter your mouth
and your lips with a shout of joy
those hating you will be clothed with shame(6)
and the tent of the wicked will be as nothing

(1) remember Job's prayer - these words exactly
(2) ingratiate - anticipating the positive aspects of grace later
(3) remember the earlier 'rousing' of Leviathan
(4) lit. house
(5) these next two verses I am taking as an extended metaphor on the rush and reed; Tur Sinai considers these verses refer proleptically to the righteous of verse 20 - they could equally well have elements of sarcasm - 'such joy' meaning its opposite. The dead body in the marsh is not out of line. It could have the double entendre of a death that gives life - but then I push the swamp too far perhaps :) JB and Clines use the extended metaphor also.
(6) verses such as these in the psalms seem to have meaning - but the psalms are in covenant and this poem seems to me to be at most within a covenant of natural law. At least the psalmist is addressing God - where the friends here are addressing themselves - and so it is with many religious today - need I name any?

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