Monday, May 11, 2009

Job 16

And Job answered and said
I have heard many such things
miserable comforters - all of you
Will they terminate - these windy words
or what grieves you that you answer?

Even I myself as you could speak
if your lives were in the place of mine
I could cobble speeches about you
and wag my head over you
I would uphold you with my mouth
and the flutter of my lips would spare you

If I speak my pain is not spared
I cease - what goes from me?
But now he has made me able to do nothing
You have appalled all my company
You have seized me - it becomes witness

rising in me is my lie - answering in my face(1)
its wrath tears - it opposes me (2)
it grinds its teeth at me
my trouble sharpens its eyes on me

They gape on me with their mouths
with reproach they strike my cheek
as one against me they are filled

the One has shut me up with injustice
and to the hand of the wicked he has surrendered me
I was at ease(3) and he has frustrated me
he has grasped by the scruff and scattered me to bits
and has set me up as his target

His archers surround me
he pierces my fires without mercy
he pours out on the earth my gall
he bursts upon me, bursts upon bursts in my face
he runs on me like a warrior

Sackcloth I have sewed over my skin
and abused in the dust my horn(4)
my face is streaked from weeping
and on my eyelids is obscurity
and not for violence in my open palms
also my prayer is pure

Earth cover not my blood
and let there be no end of place for my outcry(5)
even now behold in heaven is my witness
and my testimony is in the heights
my friends interpret me(6)
to God my eye tears
that a warrior might reason with God
and a child of a human with his friend
for numbered years are come upon me
and the path of no return I will go

(1) verses 7 and 8 get a lot of comment from TS and Clines. Several reconstruct the text and at first sight it could stand it. If I was to paraphrase:
But now he has made me helpless (do nothing is - probably unnecessarily -reflecting the paired use of this verb in Job 4)
By seizing me you have appalled all my company (including his friends)
Your seizing of me becomes a witness against me
It is so close to me it becomes my inescapable lie in my own face. TS goes so far as to suggest 'his lie' as an emendation - but it is not needed, see note 2 below.
(2)The subject of the following verbs is Job's trouble, not his enemy. Only indirectly is God his enemy here - it is rather the accusation which his friends impute against him and the accusation that rises in himself that is his direct 'enemy'. So I stick with my usual gloss for tsar - trouble. For tear טרף it would be nice to have a gloss in 4.11 and later places still to come that sounded like tearing instead of prey - identical form of course. This is work for a poet.
(3) I revised tenses and glosses at the end of chapter 3 to eliminate a possible self-contradiction
(4) Five of the six words in this verse occur only once in the poem
(5) place is too important a word to be tossed out - it brings to mind the place where they laid him and the place where the name dwells. But the sense of the parallel must allow for an idiomatic reversal of the meaning of no place - i.e. there is nowhere that the outcry will cease.
(6) or my thoughts or desires interpret me (BDB
רע III p 946)

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