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Job 4:13-16

Context

4:13 In the troubling thoughts 1  of the dreams 2  in the night

when a deep sleep 3  falls on men,

4:14 a trembling 4  gripped me – and a terror! –

and made all my bones shake. 5 

4:15 Then a breath of air 6  passes 7  by my face;

it makes 8  the hair of my flesh stand up.

4:16 It stands still, 9 

but I cannot recognize 10  its appearance;

an image is before my eyes,

and I hear a murmuring voice: 11 

1 tn Here too the word is rare. The form שְׂעִפִּים (sÿippim, “disquietings”) occurs only here and in 20:2. The form שַׂרְעַפִּים (sarappim, “disquieting thoughts”), possibly related by dissimilation, occurs in Pss 94:19 and 139:23. There seems to be a connection with סְעִפִּים (sÿippim) in 1 Kgs 18:21 with the meaning “divided opinion”; this is related to the idea of סְעִפָּה (sÿippah, “bough”). H. H. Rowley (Job [NCBC], 47) concludes that the point is that like branches the thoughts lead off into different and bewildering places. E. Dhorme (Job, 50) links the word to an Arabic root (“to be passionately smitten”) for the idea of “intimate thoughts.” The idea here and in Ps 139 has more to do with anxious, troubling, disquieting thoughts, as in a nightmare.

2 tn Heb “visions” of the night.

3 tn The word תַּרְדֵּמָה (tardemah) is a “deep sleep.” It is used in the creation account when the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam; and it is used in the story of Jonah when the prophet was asleep during the storm. The LXX interprets it to mean “fear,” rendering the whole verse “but terror falls upon men with dread and a sound in the night.”

4 tn The two words פַּחַד (pakhad, “trembling”) and רְעָדָה (rÿadah, “terror”) strengthen each other as synonyms (see also Ps 55:6). The subject of the verb קָרָא (qara’, “befall, encounter”) is פַּחַד (pakhad, “trembling”); its compound subject has been placed at the end of the colon.

5 tn The subject of the Hiphil verb הִפְחִיד (hifkhid, “dread”) is פַּחַד (pakhad, “trembling”), which is why it is in the singular. The cognate verb intensifies and applies the meaning of the noun. BDB 808 s.v. פַּחַד Hiph translates it “fill my bones with dread.” In that sense “bones” would have to be a metonymy of subject representing the framework of the body, so that the meaning is that his whole being was filled with trembling.

6 tn The word רוּחַ (ruakh) can be “spirit” or “breath.” The implication here is that it was something that Eliphaz felt – what he saw follows in v. 16. The commentators are divided on whether this is an apparition, a spirit, or a breath. The word can be used in either the masculine or the feminine, and so the gender of the verb does not favor the meaning “spirit.” In fact, in Isa 21:1 the same verb חָלַף (khalaf, “pass on, through”) is used with the subject being a strong wind or hurricane “blowing across.” It may be that such a wind has caused Eliphaz’s hair to stand on end here. D. J. A. Clines (Job [WBC], 111) also concludes it means “wind,” noting that in Job a spirit or spirits would be called רְפָאִים (rÿfaim), אֶלֹהִים (’elohim) or אוֹב (’ov).

7 tn The verbs in this verse are imperfects. In the last verse the verbs were perfects when Eliphaz reported the fear that seized him. In this continuation of the report the description becomes vivid with the change in verbs, as if the experience were in progress.

8 tn The subject of this verb is also רוּחַ (ruakh, “spirit”), since it can assume either gender. The “hair of my flesh” is the complement and not the subject; therefore the Piel is to be retained and not changed to a Qal as some suggest (and compare with Ps 119:120).

9 tc The LXX has the first person of the verb: “I arose and perceived it not, I looked and there was no form before my eyes; but I only heard a breath and a voice.”

10 tn The imperfect verb is to be classified as potential imperfect. Eliphaz is unable to recognize the figure standing before him.

11 sn The colon reads “a silence and a voice I hear.” Some have rendered it “there is a silence, and then I hear.” The verb דָּמַם (damam) does mean “remain silent” (Job 29:21; 31:34) and then also “cease.” The noun דְּמָמָה (dÿmamah, “calm”) refers to the calm after the storm in Ps 107:29. Joined with the true object of the verb, “voice,” it probably means something like stillness or murmuring or whispering here. It is joined to “voice” with a conjunction, indicating that it is a hendiadys, “murmur and a voice” or a “murmuring voice.”



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