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Job 19:17

Context

19:17 My breath is repulsive 1  to my wife;

I am loathsome 2  to my brothers. 3 

Job 19:20

Context

19:20 My bones stick to my skin and my flesh; 4 

I have escaped 5  alive 6  with only the skin of my teeth.

1 tn The Hebrew appears to have “my breath is strange to my wife.” This would be the meaning if the verb was from זוּר (zur, “to turn aside; to be a stranger”). But it should be connected to זִיר (zir), cognate to Assyrian zaru, “to feel repugnance toward.” Here it is used in the intransitive sense, “to be repulsive.” L. A. Snijders, following Driver, doubts the existence of this second root, and retains “strange” (“The Meaning of zar in the Old Testament,” OTS 10 [1964]: 1-154).

2 tn The normal meaning here would be based on the root חָנַן (khanan, “to be gracious”). And so we have versions reading “although I entreated” or “my supplication.” But it seems more likely it is to be connected to another root meaning “to be offensive; to be loathsome.” For the discussion of the connection to the Arabic, see E. Dhorme, Job, 278.

3 tn The text has “the sons of my belly [= body].” This would normally mean “my sons.” But they are all dead. And there is no suggestion that Job had other sons. The word “my belly” will have to be understood as “my womb,” i.e., the womb I came from. Instead of “brothers,” the sense could be “siblings” (both brothers and sisters; G. R. Driver and G. B. Gray, Job [ICC], 2:168).

4 tn The meaning would be “I am nothing but skin and bones” in current English idiom. Both lines of this verse need attention. The first half seems to say, “My skin and my flesh sticks to my bones.” Some think that this is too long, and that the bones can stick to the skin, or the flesh, but not both. Dhorme proposes “in my skin my flesh has rotted away” (רָקַב, raqav). This involves several changes in the line, however. He then changes the second line to read “and I have gnawed my bone with my teeth” (transferring “bone” from the first half and omitting “skin”). There are numerous other renderings of this; some of the more notable are: “I escape, my bones in my teeth” (Merx); “my teeth fall out” (Duhm); “my teeth fall from my gums” (Pope); “my bones protrude in sharp points” (Kissane). A. B. Davidson retains “the skin of my teeth,” meaning “gums. This is about the last thing that Job has, or he would not be able to speak. For a detailed study of this verse, D. J. A. Clines devotes two full pages of textual notes (Job [WBC], 430-31). He concludes with “My bones hang from my skin and my flesh, I am left with only the skin of my teeth.”

5 tn Or “I am left.”

6 tn The word “alive” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.



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