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Job 18:15-20

Context

18:15 Fire resides in his tent; 1 

over his residence burning sulfur is scattered.

18:16 Below his roots dry up,

and his branches wither above.

18:17 His memory perishes from the earth,

he has no name in the land. 2 

18:18 He is driven 3  from light into darkness

and is banished from the world.

18:19 He has neither children nor descendants 4  among his people,

no survivor in those places he once stayed. 5 

18:20 People of the west 6  are appalled at his fate; 7 

people of the east are seized with horror, 8  saying, 9 

1 tn This line is difficult as well. The verb, again a third feminine form, says “it dwells in his tent.” But the next part (מִבְּלִי לוֹ, mibbÿli lo) means something like “things of what are not his.” The best that can be made of the MT is “There shall live in his tent they that are not his” (referring to persons and animals; see J. E. Hartley, Job [NICOT], 279). G. R. Driver and G. B. Gray (Job [ICC], 2:161) refer “that which is naught of his” to weeds and wild animals. M. Dahood suggested a reading מַבֶּל (mabbel) and a connection to Akkadian nablu, “fire” (cf. Ugaritic nbl). The interchange of m and n is not a problem, and the parallelism with the next line makes good sense (“Some Northwest Semitic words in Job,” Bib 38 [1957]: 312ff.). Others suggest an emendation to get “night-hag” or vampire. This suggestion, as well as Driver’s “mixed herbs,” are linked to the idea of exorcism. But if a change is to be made, Dahood’s is the most compelling.

2 tn Heb “outside.” Cf. ESV, “in the street,” referring to absence from his community’s memory.

3 tn The verbs in this verse are plural; without the expressed subject they should be taken in the passive sense.

4 tn The two words נִין (nin, “offspring”) and נֶכֶד (nekhed, “posterity”) are always together and form an alliteration. This is hard to capture in English, but some have tried: Moffatt had “son and scion,” and Tur-Sinai had “breed or brood.” But the words are best simply translated as “lineage and posterity” or as in the NIV “offspring or descendants.”

5 tn Heb “in his sojournings.” The verb גּוּר (gur) means “to reside; to sojourn” temporarily, without land rights. Even this word has been selected to stress the temporary nature of his stay on earth.

6 tn The word אַחֲרֹנִים (’akharonim) means “those [men] coming after.” And the next word, קַדְמֹנִים (qadmonim), means “those [men] coming before.” Some commentators have tried to see here references to people who lived before and people who lived after, but that does not explain their being appalled at the fate of the wicked. So the normal way this is taken is in connection to the geography, notably the seas – “the hinder sea” refers to the Mediterranean, the West, and “the front sea” refers to the Dead Sea (Zech 14:8), namely, the East. The versions understood this as temporal: “the last groaned for him, and wonder seized the first” (LXX).

7 tn Heb “his day.”

8 tn The expression has “they seize horror.” The RSV renders this “horror seizes them.” The same idiom is found in Job 21:6: “laid hold on shuddering.” The idiom would solve the grammatical problem, and not change the meaning greatly; but it would change the parallelism.

9 tn The word “saying” is supplied in the translation to mark and introduce the following as a quotation of these people who are seized with horror. The alternative is to take v. 21 as Bildad’s own summary statement (cf. G. R. Driver and G. B. Gray, Job [ICC], 2:162; J. E. Hartley, Job [NICOT], 280).



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