Sunday, July 5, 2009

Job 40

The first part of the last speech.

And יְהוָה answered Job and he said
will he who contends with the Sufficient be the mentor?
God's referee - let him answer(1)

And Job answered יְהוָה and he said
Lo I am slight, what will I return to you?
my hand I set over my mouth
once I have spoken and I will not answer
and twice - and I will add no more

And יְהוָה answered Job out of the whirlwind and he said
gird please as a warrior your loins
and I will ask you and you make known to me

Indeed will you frustrate my judgment?
will you make me wicked so you are righteous?
and if an arm like that of the One is yours
or with a voice like his you thunder -
adorn yourself please pride and exaltation
and splendor and honor - let yourself be clothed

Scatter the rage of your wrath
and see all the arrogant and cast them down
See all the proud and humble them
and tread down the wicked under them
conceal them in the dust as one
their faces bind in concealment
and even I myself will instruct
that salvation is yours by your right hand

behold please Behemoth which I made with you(2)
grass like an ox he eats
behold please his strength in his loins
and the vigor in the navel of his belly
he desires his tail - like a cedar
the sinews of his testicles are intertwined
his bones are a stream of brass
his reserve like bars of iron

he is the beginning of the ways of the One (3)
the one who made him can approach his sword (4)
for produce the mountains lift up for him (5)
and all the beasts of the field play there
under the shadows he lies
in the concealment of reed and swamp

shadows hedge by shades
willows of the torrent surround him
lo he oppresses a river and is in no hurry
he trusts that the Jordan will break in his mouth
with his eyes he takes it
in snares his nose curses

(1) In some areas I have failed concordance. The word in exactly this form occurs only here and in 9:33 where I also used referee. in the 13 other places in other forms I have used reprove, reproof, prove (13 times). Good raises the question of whether the poem implies that there is a third party who could mediate.
(2) Tur Sinai claims that Behemoth is simply 'the beasts' and not a single creature. He says the whole of the last speech is about one creature Leviathan, not identified till the middle of the poem. I can't find anyone who agrees with him. Pope has two pages of serious notes here - proving it is not the Egyptian hippo. Again we have plural antecedent with singular pronouns.(Curiouser and curiouser - said Alice!) . Good has a whole chapter I will reflect on later.

Chapter 40 has 24 verses in KJV and 32 in JPS. A little more investigation at Church this morning into the REB shows that they have two chapter 41's - one preceding chapter 40 consisting of 41:1-6, a complete non-sequitur to the eagles. The REB has marvellous English - but it isn't even close to the Hebrew in places and there is no attempt at concordance. So in chapter 3 Leviathan and in chapter 41, the same word is whale. In chapter 3 'the eyelids of the morning' and in chapter 41 the same phrase is translated 'the shimmering dawn'. If you do this, the English reader doesn't have a chance at seeing or hearing frame and thread.

I will not subject my first reading to dictatorial and undocumented textual changes or shifts and will go with two creatures, Behemoth and Leviathan. It is not important to try and identify these beasties. (By the way if we go with one monster he eats oxen like grass.)
(3) There is no doubt this poem is about creation.
(4) And of new creation - hidden in the sword that pierces the heart.
(5) Companion Psalm 67 - the produce of the earth.

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