Monday, June 1, 2009

Job 28 - just the first few verses

O pardon me thou bleeding piece of earth
that I am meek and gentle with these butchers

Job 28 reads like a mining textbook in the KJV without a shadow of metaphor. It certainly is not a mining textbook. I find Cheney's suggestion attractive that this is a meditation by the narrator. It could also be Job thinking about the troubles of the earth that mortals cause in their searches for this and that, and the types of international disputes that linger on forever, and the earth sustaining the human but warred over. Here he is then getting to the root of his problem. A single righteous and complete person cannot exist. Where did the Sabeans come from?

Verse 6 has earth (implied subject from verse 5) as

a place of sapphire her stones
and gold dust to him

Many do not reflect in English the difference in the personal pronoun - translating them both as 'it'. But is it 'it'? Quite apart from the anthropological aspect of gender, we do not have a defined subject yet for any of the pronouns in the text of chapter 6. Verse 1 and 2 are general - with an non-specific 'they' in verse 1. Who is the 'he' of verse 3? Is it the 'mortal' of verse 4? JPS 1917 supplies 'man' as subject in verse 3. I don't see how him and her can both be it in this case? In the case of the second 'it' there must be a continuation of the generic subject of this chapter - namely the human - who with studied but self-seeking search uncovers the secrets of the cosmos.

for there is for silver a coming out
and a place for gold they refine
iron from dust is taken
and stone pours brass

an end he sets for darkness
and to all consummation he himself searches out
stones of gloom and calamity

a torrent bursts out from a people of strife
those forgotten by a foot
linger from a mortal and wag on

earth - from her comes forth bread
and under her is overturned something like fire
a place of sapphire her stones
and gold dust to him

I am not retaining much real memory of this tongue. All the tools I have at hand are only a means to an end - to make more sensible to me the subject of this poem, to whet my little gray cells on something different from the psalms, to draw near to one who was near to another that knows me well enough. The advanced language of adults around me at age 3 was not remembered by my childish brain then either. Give me a few years more...

No comments: