he expires – and where is he? 3
or a river drains away and dries up,
14:12 so man lies down and does not rise;
until the heavens are no more, 6
they 7 will not awake
nor arise from their sleep.
and conceal me till your anger has passed! 10
O that you would set me a time 11
and then remember me! 12
until my release comes. 16
1 tn There are two words for “man” in this verse. The first (גֶּבֶר, gever) can indicate a “strong” or “mature man” or “mighty man,” the hero; and the second (אָדָם, ’adam) simply designates the person as mortal.
2 tn The word חָלַשׁ (khalash) in Aramaic and Syriac means “to be weak” (interestingly, the Syriac OT translated חָלַשׁ [khalash] with “fade away” here). The derived noun “the weak” would be in direct contrast to “the mighty man.” In the transitive sense the verb means “to weaken; to defeat” (Exod 17:13); here it may have the sense of “be lifeless, unconscious, inanimate” (cf. E. Dhorme, Job, 199). Many commentators emend the text to יַחֲלֹף (yakhalof, “passes on; passes away”). A. Guillaume tries to argue that the form is a variant of the other, the letters שׁ (shin) and פ (pe) being interchangeable (“The Use of halas in Exod 17:13, Isa 14:12, and Job 14:10,” JTS 14 : 91-92). G. R. Driver connected it to Arabic halasa, “carry off suddenly” (“The Resurrection of Marine and Terrestrial Creatures,” JSS 7 : 12-22). But the basic idea of “be weak, powerless” is satisfactory in the text. H. H. Rowley (Job [NCBC], 105) says, “Where words are so carefully chosen, it is gratuitous to substitute less expressive words as some editors do.”
3 tn This break to a question adds a startling touch to the whole verse. The obvious meaning is that he is gone. The LXX weakens it: “and is no more.”
4 tn The comparative clause may be signaled simply by the context, especially when facts of a moral nature are compared with the physical world (see GKC 499 §161.a).
5 tn The Hebrew word יָם (yam) can mean “sea” or “lake.”
6 tc The Hebrew construction is “until not,” which is unusual if not impossible; it is found in only one other type of context. In its six other occurrences (Num 21:35; Deut 3:3; Josh 8:22; 10:33; 11:8; 2 Kgs 10:11) the context refers to the absence of survivors. Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, Syriac, and Vulgate all have “till the heavens wear out.” Most would emend the text just slightly from עַד־בִּלְתִּי (’ad-bilti, “are no more”) to עַד בְּלוֹת (’ad bÿlot, “until the wearing out of,” see Ps 102:26 ; Isa 51:6). Gray rejects emendation here, finding the unusual form of the MT in its favor. Orlinsky (p. 57) finds a cognate Arabic word meaning “will not awake” and translates it “so long as the heavens are not rent asunder” (H. M. Orlinsky, “The Hebrew and Greek Texts of Job 14:12,” JQR 28 [1937/38]: 57-68). He then deletes the last line of the verse as a later gloss.
7 tn The verb is plural because the subject, אִישׁ (’ish), is viewed as a collective: “mankind.” The verb means “to wake up; to awake”; another root, קוּץ (quts, “to split open”) cognate to Arabic qada and Akkadian kasu, was put forward by H. M. Orlinsky (“The Hebrew and Greek Texts of Job 14:12,” JQR 28 [1937-38]: 57-68) and G. R. Driver (“Problems in the Hebrew Text of Job,” VTSup 3 : 72-93).
8 tn The optative mood is introduced here again with מִי יִתֵּן (mi yitten), literally, “who will give?”
sn After arguing that man will die without hope, Job expresses his desire that there be a resurrection, and what that would mean. The ancients all knew that death did not bring existence to an end; rather, they passed into another place, but they continued to exist. Job thinks that death would at least give him some respite from the wrath of God; but this wrath would eventually be appeased, and then God would remember the one he had hidden in Sheol just as he remembered Noah. Once that happened, it would be possible that Job might live again.
9 sn Sheol in the Bible refers to the place where the dead go. But it can have different categories of meaning: death in general, the grave, or the realm of the departed spirits [hell]. A. Heidel shows that in the Bible when hell is in view the righteous are not there – it is the realm of the departed spirits of the wicked. When the righteous go to Sheol, the meaning is usually the grave or death. See chapter 3 in A. Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic and the Old Testament Parallels.
10 tn The construction used here is the preposition followed by the infinitive construct followed by the subjective genitive, forming an adverbial clause of time.
12 tn The verb זָכַר (zakhar) means more than simply “to remember.” In many cases, including this one, it means “to act on what is remembered,” i.e., deliver or rescue (see Gen 8:1, “and God remembered Noah”). In this sense, a prayer “remember me” is a prayer for God to act upon his covenant promises.
13 tc The LXX removes the interrogative and makes the statement affirmative, i.e., that man will live again. This reading is taken by D. H. Gard (“The Concept of the Future Life according to the Greek Translator of the Book of Job,” JBL 73 : 137-38). D. J. A. Clines follows this, putting both of the expressions in the wish clause: “if a man dies and could live again…” (Job [WBC], 332). If that is the way it is translated, then the verbs in the second half of the verse and in the next verse would all be part of the apodosis, and should be translated “would.” The interpretation would not greatly differ; it would be saying that if there was life after death, Job would long for his release – his death. If the traditional view is taken and the question was raised whether there was life after death (the implication of the question being that there is), then Job would still be longing for his death. The point the line is making is that if there is life after death, that would be all the more reason for Job to eagerly expect, to hope for, his death.
15 tn The verb אֲיַחֵל (’ayakhel) may be rendered “I will/would wait” or “I will/would hope.” The word describes eager expectation and longing hope.
16 tn The construction is the same as that found in the last verse: a temporal preposition עַד (’ad) followed by the infinitive construct followed by the subjective genitive “release/relief.” Due, in part, to the same verb (חָלַף, khalaf) having the meaning “sprout again” in v. 7, some take “renewal” as the meaning here (J. E. Hartley, Alden, NIV, ESV).