Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Job 37

We hereby complete our first pass of Elihu's speeches. He is more accurate than many give him credit for. I read this paragraph from Good (In Turns of Tempest, A Reading of Job) to my wife - she laughed. But I don't agree with Good even though I enjoy his prose very much.

Elihu's theology is depressingly conventional, adding nothing except detail to what the friends have given us in quite sufficient detail. His style is more than depressingly opaque, uttering sentence after sentence in which the words make sense one by one but defy comprehension in combination. It is wordy, convoluted, often scarcely intelligible. The speeches contain some nuggets of semiprecious metal, but embedded in such thick clods of ordinary dirt as to weary the miner beyond reason. Dealing with good poetry is hard and exhilarating, Dealing with Elihu is just hard.
Indeed of this my heart quakes
and is let go from its place
Hear to hear in the trouble of his voice
and the sigh that from his mouth comes forth
Under the whole heavens, he makes it clear
and his light to the wings of the earth

After it a voice roars
it thunders in a voice of his majesty
and he will not supplant them when his voice is heard

the One thunders wonderfully in his voice
making great things we do not know
for to the snow he says
be of earth and small rain
and great rain of his might

In the hand of every human he seals
for the knowledge of all mortals of his work
and all life goes to her place of waiting
and in their habitations dwell

From the south comes storm
and from the scattering cold
by the breath of the One ice is given
and the breadth of the waters outpouring

indeed in watering he burdens a cloud
he scatters the mist of his light
and he overturns turnabouts in bindings
to the works - all that he commanded
in the face of the world of earth
if of sceptre if of his earth
if of his lovingkindness he will let it be found

give ear to this Job
stand and understand the wonders of the One
do you know God's setting of them
and the light of his mist he made shine?
do you know about the balancing of cloud
from the wonders of the perfect in knowledge?
how your garments warm
when he quiets earth from the south?
have you hammered out the sky with him
mighty as a poured mirror?

Make known to us what we will say to him
we cannot array in order in the face of darkness
will one recount to him that I will speak?
if a man speaks will he be swallowed?
and now they do not see the brilliant light
this is in the sky
but the wind passes over and purifies them

from the north gold comes
with God a fearful splendor
The Sufficient we do not find out
great of power and judgment
and much righteousness - he does not afflict
therefore mortals fear him
he does not see all the wise of heart(1)

(1) Good has a double negative - "he does not see any who are wise of heart". It might be a reminder of Psalm 14/53 but there is only one negation in the colon: לֹא-יִרְאֶה כָּל-חַכְמֵי-לֵב. Pope interprets - "he respects no clever mind" - he moves the modifier of the negative particle from the verb to the phrase. (Perhaps). Staples has "Yea - all that are wise of heart fear him". It is so convenient that one can emend one letter and reverse the meaning of a phrase. TS has "he respecteth not any who are wise of heart". (= KJV and JPS 1917 in its sense.) Go figure!

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