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Job 3:21-22

Context

3:21 to 1  those who wait 2  for death that 3  does not come,

and search for it 4 

more than for hidden treasures,

3:22 who rejoice 5  even to jubilation, 6 

and are exultant 7  when 8  they find the grave? 9 

1 tn The verse simply begins with the participle in apposition to the expressions in the previous verse describing those who are bitter. The preposition is added from the context.

2 tn The verb is the Piel participle of חָכָה (khakhah, “to wait for” someone; Yahweh is the object in Isa 8:17; 64:3; Ps 33:20). Here death is the supreme hope of the miserable and the suffering.

3 tn The verse simply has the form אֵין (’en, “there is not”) with a pronominal suffix and a conjunction – “and there is not it” or “and it is not.” The LXX and the Vulgate add a verb to explain this form: “and obtain it not.”

4 tn The parallel verb is now a preterite with a vav (ו) consecutive; it therefore has the nuance of a characteristic perfect or gnomic perfect – the English present tense.

sn The verb חָפַר (khafar) means “to dig; to excavate.” It may have the accusative of the thing that is being sought (Exod 7:24); but here it is followed by a comparative min (מִן). The verse therefore describes the sufferers who excavate or dig the ground to find death, more than others who seek for treasure.

5 tn Here too the form is the participle in apposition “to him who is in misery” in v. 20. It continues the description of those who are destitute and would be delighted to die.

6 tn The Syriac has “and gather themselves together,” possibly reading גִּיל (gil, “rejoicing”) as גַּל (gal, “heap”). Some have tried to emend the text to make the word mean “heap” or “mound,” as in a funerary mound. While one could argue for a heap of stones as a funerary mound, the passage has already spoken of digging a grave, which would be quite different. And while such a change would make a neater parallelism in the verse, there is no reason to force such; the idea of “jubilation” fits the tenor of the whole verse easily enough and there is no reason to change it. A similar expression is found in Hos 9:1, which says, “rejoice not, O Israel, with jubilation.” Here the idea then is that these sufferers would rejoice “to the point of jubilation” at death.

7 tn This sentence also parallels an imperfect verb with the substantival participle of the first colon. It is translated as an English present tense.

8 tn The particle could be “when” or “because” in this verse.

9 sn The expression “when they find a grave” means when they finally die. The verse describes the relief and rest that the sufferer will obtain when the long-awaited death is reached.



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