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Job 3:10-11

Context

3:10 because it 1  did not shut the doors 2  of my mother’s womb on me, 3 

nor did it hide trouble 4  from my eyes!

Job Wishes He Had Died at Birth 5 

3:11 “Why did I not 6  die 7  at birth, 8 

and why did I not expire

as 9  I came out of the womb?

1 tn The subject is still “that night.” Here, at the end of this first section, Job finally expresses the crime of that night – it did not hinder his birth.

2 sn This use of doors for the womb forms an implied comparison; the night should have hindered conception (see Gen 20:18 and 1 Sam 1:5).

3 tn The Hebrew has simply “my belly [= womb].” The suffix on the noun must be objective – it was the womb of Job’s mother in which he lay before his birth. See however N. C. Habel, “The Dative Suffix in Job 33:13,” Bib 63 (1982): 258-59, who thinks it is deliberately ambiguous.

4 tn The word עָמָל (’amal) means “work, heavy labor, agonizing labor, struggle” with the idea of fatigue and pain.

5 sn Job follows his initial cry with a series of rhetorical questions. His argument runs along these lines: since he was born (v. 10), the next chance he had of escaping this life of misery would have been to be still born (vv. 11-12, 16). In vv. 13-19 Job considers death as falling into a peaceful sleep in a place where there is no trouble. The high frequency of rhetorical questions in series is a characteristic of the Book of Job that sets it off from all other portions of the OT. The effect is primarily dramatic, creating a tension that requires resolution. See W. Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry, 340-41.

6 tn The negative only occurs with the first clause, but it extends its influence to the parallel second clause (GKC 483 §152.z).

7 tn The two verbs in this verse are both prefix conjugations; they are clearly referring to the past and should be classified as preterites. E. Dhorme (Job, 32) notes that the verb “I came out” is in the perfect to mark its priority in time in relation to the other verbs.

8 tn The translation “at birth” is very smooth, but catches the meaning and avoids the tautology in the verse. The line literally reads “from the womb.” The second half of the verse has the verb “I came out/forth” which does double duty for both parallel lines. The second half uses “belly” for the womb.

9 tn The two halves of the verse use the prepositional phrases (“from the womb” and “from the belly I went out”) in the temporal sense of “on emerging from the womb.”



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