Friday, June 5, 2009

Job 29

Chapter 29 begins a 3 chapter monologue by Job. Chapter 28 seems to me to reflect a framing section dividing dialogue from monologue as Cheney suggests. Chapter 28 itself depicts two searches - the human search for everything beautiful in the earth - a not so gentle search, and God's search for wisdom (why would God search for anything?).

What do we require? What do we anticipate in our own search? Does our anticipation help or hinder? If we had only the book of Job and the Psalms, what would we expect from God?

and Job continued to lift up his parable and he said
who will give to me the months of old
like the days when God watched over me(1)
when his candle shone over my head
that in his light I walked darkness?

as a happy one I was in the days of my autumn(2)
in the intimacy of God over my tent
when the Sufficient was still with me
round about me my lads
in the washing of my walk with clotted cream
and the rock pouring against me rivers of oil

when I went forth through the town
in the piazza I prepared my seat
the lads would see me and withdraw themselves
the aged arose and stood up
chiefs withheld their speeches
and open hand they set on their mouth
the voice of the nobles withdrew itself
and their tongue to their palate clung

for an ear heard and thought me happy
and an eye saw and testified of me
for I made the needy escape from crying
and the orphan as one with no help for him
the blessing of one perishing upon me came
and I made the heart of the widow sing

justice I clothed and it clothed me
and as robe and diadem was my judgment
eyes I was to the blind
and feet to the lame was I
father I myself to the needy
and contention that I did not know I searched out
I maimed the jaws of injustice
and from its teeth I cast out prey

and I said, my nest a nation I will expire
and as the sand -I will multiply- of the seas(3)
my root opening over the waters
and the dew will lodge in my harvest
my glory fresh against me
and my bow in my hand passed through

they heard me and waited
and they kept silence for my counsel
after my words they made no alteration
and upon them distilled my speech
and they waited for me as rain
and their mouths they gape for the spring rain

I laughed at them they did not turn aside(4)
and the light of my face they did not let fall
I chose their way and sat head
and dwelt as king with troop
as a happy one comforting mourners

(1) note the positive aspect of God's watching where before we had the negative of the same word.
(2) if per Good it is OK to read happy at the end - why not also at the beginning to unify this melancholy nostalgia. Note autumn is the season of refreshment after a long summer. Not as in the northern culture a suggestion of the onset of decrepitude.
(3) following Tur Sinai's reading - though I would want to see more examples of separating constructs like this in poetry. See also here for the legend of the phoenix and more translation possibilities. To be fair - no one reads this as I have translated it but the "I will die in my nest" makes no sense in parallel with I will increase my days as the sand.
(4) again following TS - I don't want to be such a dictator(!) but the reading of amen - they did not believe or trust - is as if Job was mocking those he helped and is hardly self-complimentary.

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