Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Job 9

This post combines chapter 9 segments from the two previous posts to allow observation of the framing. Some words seem small and insignificant - like so or if. But 'if' will be taken up in chapter 31 as a repeated trope and its repetition here is more than in other chapters. 'So' is a minor opening and closing and I did not note the 'therefore' which matches in the middle. I made a few adjustments to strophes.

The theme of creation is continued from chapter 3, the uncreation of Job. Job himself is at the center using separate particles for the first person pronoun 5 times in this chapter. I find myself wondering how much of the creation imagery and mythology is meant as a recognition of a human psychological reality (like the serpent in Harry potter that joins Riddle and Potter at the hip). Who advised God at the beginning of creation? Who did a design review? The irony of verse 12 - what are you doing!

And Job answered and said
In truth I know and so what!
And how can a mortal be just with the One!
If one desires to contend with him
one cannot answer him once in a thousand
wise of heart or courageous of strength
who hardens against him and remains whole?

He removes mountains
and they don't know what hit them in his anger
He provokes earth from her place
and her columns shudder
He speaks to the sun and it stops sunning
and of stars - he seals them
stretching out the heavens? he alone
and walking on water!
making the Great Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades
and the parts of the South
"who does great things and there is no finding out
his wonders without number!"(1)

Lo - he passes over me and I don't see him
he passes quickly and I don't understand him(2)
Lo - he seizes, who can hinder him
who will say to him - what are you doing?
God does not turn his anger
under him the helpers of Rahab bow

And I myself, I answer him?
and choose my words with him?
who, if I were just, I would not answer
to my judge, would I make supplication?
if I had called and he had answered
I would not believe he had listened to my voice
who with a whirling tempest bruises me
and multiplies my wounds for nothing
he will not give me a turn to breathe
but satisfies me with bitterness

If of strength - behold courage
If of judgment - where is my appointment?
If I justify myself, my mouth condemns me
Complete - me? It perverts me
Complete - me, I do not know my being
I refuse my life

One thing therefore I said
complete or wicked he consumes
If a scourge slays suddenly
the testing of the innocent he derides
earth is given into the hand of the wicked
the faces of the judges he blindfolds(3)
if not there? then who -

My days are swifter than a blog post
they flee away
they see no good
they pass as ships of papyrus
as the eagle swoops to its food

If I say I will forget my complaint
I will abandon my face and smile sweetly
I dread my injuries
I know you will not acquit me
And I - shall I be wicked?
Why so? I would toil in vain

If I wash myself in waters of snow
And brighten with purity my open palms
then in a pit you will plunge me
and my clothes will abhor me
for not a man like me
that I will answer him
that we come together in judgment
There is not between us a referee(4)
that might fix his hand on the two of us

Let him turn away from me his staff
and let not his horror terrify me
I would speak and not fear him
for not so am I with myself(5)

(1) a direct quote from Eliphaz - I am assuming a certain sarcasm of the obvious as I hope you can tell. I wonder if the definite article with the participles in vv 5-7 and then dropping it in vv 6-8 might indicate the tone of voice.
(2) Tur Sinai's thesis of misplaced dream sequence is untenable - here Job reflects Eliphaz and his passing spirit in Job 4:15
(3) courtesy of Clines and forget the concordance
(4) this bon mot umpire from Tur Sinai - though Jerusalem Bible's arbiter is nice too. Still for reasons noted later - see between chapters 32 and 33 - I have changed it to referee - the word is 'one who could reprove both of us'.
(5) Tur Sinai considers the last stich in Hebrew belongs to the next thought in chapter 10. Maybe - but Clines has a pleasant solution which I have adopted with slight variation.

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