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Job 16:6-16

Context
Abandonment by God and Man

16:6 “But 1  if I speak, my pain is not relieved, 2 

and if I refrain from speaking

– how 3  much of it goes away?

16:7 Surely now he 4  has worn me out,

you have devastated my entire household.

16:8 You have seized me, 5 

and it 6  has become a witness;

my leanness 7  has risen up against me

and testifies against me.

16:9 His 8  anger has torn me 9  and persecuted 10  me;

he has gnashed at me with his teeth;

my adversary locks 11  his eyes on me.

16:10 People 12  have opened their mouths against me,

they have struck my cheek in scorn; 13 

they unite 14  together against me.

16:11 God abandons me to evil 15  men, 16 

and throws 17  me into the hands of wicked men.

16:12 I was in peace, and he has shattered me. 18 

He has seized me by the neck and crushed me. 19 

He has made me his target;

16:13 his archers 20  surround me.

Without pity 21  he pierces 22  my kidneys

and pours out my gall 23  on the ground.

16:14 He breaks through against me, time and time again; 24 

he rushes 25  against me like a warrior.

16:15 I have sewed sackcloth on my skin, 26 

and buried 27  my horn 28  in the dust;

16:16 my face is reddened 29  because of weeping, 30 

and on my eyelids there is a deep darkness, 31 

1 tn “But” is supplied in the translation to strengthen the contrast.

2 tn The Niphal יֵחָשֵׂךְ (yekhasekh) means “to be soothed; to be assuaged.”

3 tn Some argue that מָה (mah) in the text is the Arabic ma, the simple negative. This would then mean “it does not depart far from me.” The interrogative used rhetorically amounts to the same thing, however, so the suggestion is not necessary.

4 tn In poetic discourse there is often an abrupt change from person to another. See GKC 462 §144.p. Some take the subject of this verb to be God, others the pain (“surely now it has worn me out”).

5 tn The verb is קָמַט (qamat) which is used only here and in 22:16; it means “to seize; to grasp.” By God’s seizing him, Job means his afflictions.

6 tn The subject is “my calamity.”

7 tn The verb is used in Ps 109:24 to mean “to be lean”; and so “leanness” is accepted here for the noun by most. Otherwise the word is “lie, deceit.” Accordingly, some take it here as “my slanderer” or “my liar” (gives evidence against me).

8 tn The referent of these pronouns in v. 9 (“his anger…he has gnashed…his teeth…his eyes”) is best taken as God.

9 sn The figure used now is that of a wild beast. God’s affliction of Job is compared to the attack of such an animal. Cf. Amos 1:11.

10 tn The verb שָׂטַם (satam) is translated “hate” in the RSV, but this is not accepted by very many. Many emend it to שָׁמט (shamat), reading “and he dropped me” (from his mouth). But that suggests escape. D. J. A. Clines notes that usage shows it reflects ongoing hatred represented by an action such as persecution or attack (Job [WBC], 370).

11 tn The verb is used of sharpening a sword in Ps 7:12; here it means “to look intently” as an animal looks for prey. The verse describes God’s relentless pursuit of Job.

12 tn “People” is supplied; the Hebrew verb is third plural. The colon reads, “they have opened against me with [the preposition is instrumental] their mouth.” The gestures here follow the animal imagery; they reflect destructive opposition and attack (see Ps 22:13 among others).

13 tn This is an “insult” or a “reproach.”

14 tn The verb יִתְמַלָּאוּן (yitmallaun) is taken from מָלֵא (male’), “to be full,” and in this stem, “to pile up; to press together.” The term has a military connotation, such as “to mobilize” (see D. W. Thomas, “ml'w in Jeremiah 4:5 : a military term,” JJS 3 [1952]: 47-52). Job sees himself surrounded by enemies who persecute him and mock him.

15 tn The word עֲוִיל (’avil) means “child,” and this cannot be right here. If it is read as עַוָּל (’avval) as in Job 27:7 it would be the unrighteous.

16 sn Job does not refer here to his friends, but more likely to the wicked men who set about to destroy him and his possessions, or to the rabble in ch. 30.

17 tn The word יִרְטֵנִי (yirteni) does not derive from the root רָטָה (ratah) as would fit the pointing in the MT, but from יָרַט (yarat), cognate to Arabic warrata, “to throw; to hurl.” E. Dhorme (Job, 236) thinks that since the normal form would have been יִירְטֵנִי (yirÿteni), it is probable that one of the yods (י) would have affected the word עֲוִיל (’avil) – but that does not make much sense.

18 tn The verb פָּרַר (parar) means “to shake.” In the Hiphil it means “to break; to shatter” (5:12; 15:4). The Pilpel means “to break in pieces,” and in the Poel in Jer 23:29 “to smash up.” So Job was living at ease, and God shattered his life.

19 tn Here is another Pilpel, now from פָּצַץ (patsats) with a similar meaning to the other verb. It means “to dash into pieces” and even scatter the pieces. The LXX translates this line, “he took me by the hair of the head and plucked it out.”

20 tn The meaning of “his archers” is supported for רַבָּיו (rabbayv) in view of Jer 50:29. The LXX, Syriac, Vulgate, Targum Job, followed by several translations and commentators prefer “arrows.” They see this as a more appropriate figure without raising the question of who the archers might be (see 6:4). The point is an unnecessary distinction, for the figure is an illustration of the affliction that God has brought on him.

21 tn Heb “and he does not pity,” but the clause is functioning adverbially in the line.

22 tn The verb פָּלַח (palakh) in the Piel means “to pierce” (see Prov 7:23). A fuller comparison should be made with Lam 3:12-13.

23 tn This word מְרֵרָתִי (mÿrerati, “my gall”) is found only here. It is close to the form in Job 13:26, “bitter things.” In Job 20:14 it may mean “poison.” The thought is also found in Lam 2:11.

24 tn The word פָּרַץ (parats) means “to make a breach” in a wall (Isa 5:5; Ps 80:13). It is used figuratively in the birth and naming of Peres in Gen 38:29. Here the image is now of a military attack that breaks through a wall. The text uses the cognate accusative, and then with the addition of עַל־פְּנֵי (’al-pÿne, “in addition”) it repeats the cognate noun. A smooth translation that reflects the three words is difficult. E. Dhorme (Job, 237) has “he batters me down, breach upon breach.”

25 tn Heb “runs.”

26 sn The language is hyperbolic; Job is saying that the sackcloth he has put on in his lamentable state is now stuck to his skin as if he had stitched it into the skin. It is now a habitual garment that he never takes off.

27 tn The Poel עֹלַלְתִּי (’olalti) from עָלַל (’alal, “to enter”) has here the meaning of “to thrust in.” The activity is the opposite of “raising high the horn,” a picture of dignity and victory.

28 tn There is no English term that captures exactly what “horn” is meant to do. Drawn from the animal world, the image was meant to convey strength and pride and victory. Some modern commentators have made other proposals for the line. Svi Rin suggested from Ugaritic that the verb be translated “lower” or “dip” (“Ugaritic – Old Testament Affinities,” BZ 7 [1963]: 22-33).

29 tn An intensive form, a Qetaltal form of the root חָמַר (khamar, “red”) is used here. This word has as probable derivatives חֹמֶר (khomer, “[red] clay”) and חֲמוֹר (khamor, “[red] ass”) and the like. Because of the weeping, his whole complexion has been reddened (the LXX reads “my belly”).

30 sn A. B. Davidson (Job, 122) notes that spontaneous and repeated weeping is one of the symptoms of elephantiasis.

31 sn See Job 3:5. Just as joy brings light and life to the eyes, sorrow and suffering bring darkness. The “eyelids” here would be synecdoche, reflecting the whole facial expression as sad and sullen.



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