Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Characters in Job

Leaving aside the animals - all of whom are potential characters in Job, and leaving aside the obvious 16 noted humans and all the other lads who tended the farm - it's a large cast! and leaving aside the 5 or 6 designations of the Most High - El, Eloah, Elohim, יְהוָה, El Shaddai, and possibly one instance of the Holy One; leaving aside the cosmos and the children of God who are present and who shout for joy, what other characters are implied in the story?

There are several remaining characters or possibly only roles: God's witnesses, Job's trouble itself as witness against him, Job's witness in heaven, (in parallel with Job's testimony).

יז תְּחַדֵּשׁ עֵדֶיךָ נֶגְדִּי
וְתֶרֶב כַּעַשְׂךָ עִמָּדִי
חֲלִיפוֹת וְצָבָא עִמִּי
you renew your witnesses before me
and increase your indignation against me
changes and a host are upon me
ח וַתִּקְמְטֵנִי לְעֵד הָיָה
וַיָּקָם בִּי כַחֲשִׁי בְּפָנַי יַעֲנֶה
You have seized me - it becomes witness
rising in me is my lie - answering in my face
יט גַּם-עַתָּה הִנֵּה-בַשָּׁמַיִם עֵדִיוְשָׂהֲדִי בַּמְּרֹמִים
even now behold in heaven is my witness
and my testimony is in the heights
My conclusion on this witness in heaven is that it is Job's 'case' - not a separate character. Similarly God's witness is Job's trouble - by Job's own admission.

Then there is the redeemer. Redeem occurs only twice in the poem.
ה יִגְאָלֻהוּ חֹשֶׁךְ וְצַלְמָוֶת
תִּשְׁכָּן-עָלָיו עֲנָנָה
יְבַעֲתֻהוּ כִּמְרִירֵי יוֹם
let darkness and obscurity redeem it
let a cloud dwell on it
let blackness of day terrify it
כה וַאֲנִי יָדַעְתִּי גֹּאֲלִי חָי
וְאַחֲרוֹן עַל-עָפָר יָקוּם
And I - I knew [qal perfect] my redeemer is living
and at the last on dust he will rise
There is dispute over what this means to say the least. It is not a proof text in the NT. That would make it seem for me that it is a recognition that God lives and that God must ultimately play this role and that Job knew this before his trouble from the Deuternomic covenant.

Also the mysterious intercessors in Job's final monologue. I do not see this unknown word as implying an obvious or specialized indictable offense. Some things are only overcome through prayer - as Jesus notes (pace the perseveration of some of the hopeless state of others).
יא כִּי-הִיא זִמָּה
וְהוּא עָו‍ֹן פְּלִילִים
for this plan -
and this is iniquity for intercessors
כח גַּם-הוּא עָו‍ֹן פְּלִילִי
כִּי-כִחַשְׁתִּי לָאֵל מִמָּעַל
indeed this is iniquity for an intercessor
for I would deny the One above
Note that ultimately Job mediates for the three friends.
ח וְעַתָּה קְחוּ לָכֶם שִׁבְעָה פָרִים וְשִׁבְעָה אֵילִים
וּלְכוּ אֶל עַבְדִּי אִיּוֹב וְהַעֲלִיתֶם עוֹלָה בַּעַדְכֶם
וְאִיּוֹב עַבְדִּי יִתְפַּלֵּל עֲלֵיכֶם
כִּי אִם פָּנָיו אֶשָּׂא לְבִלְתִּי עֲשׂוֹת עִמָּכֶם נְבָלָה
כִּי לֹא דִבַּרְתֶּם אֵלַי נְכוֹנָה, כְּעַבְדִּי אִיּוֹב
And now take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams
and go to my servant Job and offer an offering for yourselves
and Job my servant will mediate for you for if I lift up his face I will not do with you foolishness -
for you have not spoken of me what is prepared as has my servant Job.
י וַיהוָה שָׁב אֶת שְׁבוּת אִיּוֹב בְּהִתְפַּלְלוֹ בְּעַד רֵעֵהוּ
וַיֹּסֶף יְהוָה אֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר לְאִיּוֹב לְמִשְׁנֶה
And יְהוָה turned the captivity of Job when he mediated for his friends
and יְהוָה added to all that was Job's double
But it is in the theme of reasoning (the word groups around יכח - to prove, decide, judge, rebuke, reprove, correct, be right) that runs through the poem and is seen in the following verses - that there arises the special role or character of referee. The friends fail, Elihu is indeterminate, God invites Job to be his own referee and he accepts with his hand over his mouth, and Ticciati puts God in this role also. There is no translation that I have seen that allows the English reader to hear the role clearly in the three verses it occurs in.

I have sometimes used two words in English to connect the reproof-reason axis since all of the words are translating words from the same root. Here we see יכח in many forms noun, verb, singular, plural, with or without prepositions and other connectors. (Italics show the subject of the verb if I could see it).

יז הִנֵּה אַשְׁרֵי אֱנוֹשׁ יוֹכִחֶנּוּ אֱלוֹהַּ
וּמוּסַר שַׁדַּי אַל-תִּמְאָס
Behold happy is the mortal whom God reproves [hiphil imperfect 3ps+3ps pronoun]
the mentoring of the Sufficient do not refuse
כה מַה-נִּמְרְצוּ אִמְרֵי-יֹשֶׁר
וּמַה-יּוֹכִיחַ הוֹכֵחַ מִכֶּם
how grievous are words of uprightness
so what does your reproof [hiphil infinitive read as noun subject of prior verb] prove [3ps hiphil]?
כו הַלְהוֹכַח מִלִּים תַּחְשֹׁבוּ
וּלְרוּחַ אִמְרֵי נוֹאָשׁ
And to reprove [hiphil infinitive with prepositional and interrogative prefixes] speeches - do you count
as wind the words of one who is desperate?
לג לֹא יֵשׁ-בֵּינֵינוּ מוֹכִיחַ
יָשֵׁת יָדוֹ עַל-שְׁנֵינוּ
there is not between us a referee [hiphil participle]
that might fix his hand on the two of us
ג אוּלָם אֲנִי אֶל-שַׁדַּי אֲדַבֵּר
וְהוֹכֵחַ אֶל-אֵל אֶחְפָּץ
"nevertheless for me, to the Sufficient I would speak"
but I desire to reason [hiphil infinitive] with the One
ו שִׁמְעוּ-נָא תוֹכַחְתִּי
וְרִבוֹת שְׂפָתַי הַקְשִׁיבוּ
[you] Hear please my reasons [noun plural with 1ps pronoun]
and to the contentions of my lips attend
י הוֹכֵחַ יוֹכִיחַ אֶתְכֶם
אִם-בַּסֵּתֶר פָּנִים תִּשָּׂאוּן
Reason? he will reason reproof with you
if you concealed lift up faces
טו הֵן יִקְטְלֵנִי
לא אֲיַחֵל
אַךְ-דְּרָכַי אֶל-פָּנָיו אוֹכִיחַ
Lo - he will kill me
I do not wait
Surely my ways before his faces I will reasoning prove
ג הוֹכֵחַ בְּדָבָר לֹא-יִסְכּוֹן
וּמִלִּים לֹא-יוֹעִיל בָּם
To 'reason' with a word without profit
and from speeches where he will not benefit
כא וְיוֹכַח לְגֶבֶר עִם-אֱלוֹהַּ
וּבֶן-אָדָם לְרֵעֵהוּ
that a warrior might reason with God
and a child of a human with his friend
ה אִם-אָמְנָם עָלַי תַּגְדִּילוּ
וְתוֹכִיחוּ עָלַי חֶרְפָּתִי
If truly against me you gloat
and reason my reproach reproof [2pp hiphil imperfect] against me
ד הֲמִיִּרְאָתְךָ יֹכִיחֶךָ
יָבוֹא עִמְּךָ בַּמִּשְׁפָּט
will he from your fear reprove you [note individual singular you]
will he come with you to judgment?
ד אֶעֶרְכָה לְפָנָיו מִשְׁפָּט
וּפִי אֲמַלֵּא תוֹכָחוֹת
I would order before his face my judgment
and fill my mouth with reasons
ז שָׁם יָשָׁר נוֹכָח עִמּוֹ
וַאֲפַלְּטָה לָנֶצַח מִשֹּׁפְטִי
there the upright could reason [niphal participle] with him
and I would be delivered in perpetuity from my judge
יב וְעָדֵיכֶם אֶתְבּוֹנָן
וְהִנֵּה אֵין לְאִיּוֹב מוֹכִיח
עוֹנֶה אֲמָרָיו מִכֶּם
you I understood
and behold there is for Job no referee -
one answering to his words among you
יט וְהוּכַח בְּמַכְאוֹב עַל-מִשְׁכָּבוֹ
וְרוֹב עֲצָמָיו אֵתָן
and he is reproved [3ps hophal perfect] in being marred on his couch
and the contention of his bones is perennial
ב הֲרֹב עִם-שַׁדַּי יִסּוֹר
מוֹכִיחַ אֱלוֹהַּ יַעֲנֶנָּה
will he who contends with the Sufficient be the mentor?
God's referee - let him answer

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