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Job 7:15-16

Context

7:15 so that I 1  would prefer 2  strangling, 3 

and 4  death 5  more 6  than life. 7 

7:16 I loathe 8  it; 9  I do not want to live forever;

leave me alone, 10  for my days are a vapor! 11 

1 tn The word נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) is often translated “soul.” But since Hebrew thought does not make such a distinction between body and soul, it is usually better to translate it with “person.” When a suffix is added to the word, then that pronoun would serve as the better translation, as here with “my soul” = “I” (meaning with every fiber of my being).

2 tn The verb בָּחַר (bakhar, “choose”) followed by the preposition בּ (bet) can have the sense of “prefer.”

3 tn The meaning of the term מַחֲנָק (makhanaq, “strangling”), a hapax legomenon, is clear enough; the verb חָנַק (khanaq) in the Piel means “to strangle” (Nah 2:13), and in the Niphal “to strangle oneself” (2 Sam 17:23). This word has tempted some commentators to take נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) in a very restricted sense of “throat.”

4 tn The conjunction “and” is supplied in the translation. “Death” could also be taken in apposition to “strangling,” providing the outcome of the strangling.

5 tn This is one of the few words recognizable in the LXX: “You will separate life from my spirit, and yet keep my bones from death.”

6 tn The comparative min (מִן) after the verb “choose” will here have the idea of preferring something before another (see GKC 429-30 §133.b).

7 tn The word מֵעַצְמוֹתָי (meatsmotay) means “more than my bones” (= life or being). The line is poetic; “bones” is often used in scripture metonymically for the whole living person, so there is no need here for conjectural emendation. Nevertheless, there have been several suggestions made. The simplest and most appealing for those who desire a change is the repointing to מֵעַצְּבוֹתָי (meatsÿvotay, “my sufferings,” adopted by NAB, JB, Moffatt, Driver-Gray, E. Dhorme, H. H. Rowley, and others). Driver obtains this idea by positing a new word based on Arabic without changing the letters; it means “great” – but he has to supply the word “sufferings.”

8 tn E. Dhorme (Job, 107-8) thinks the idea of loathing or despising is problematic since there is no immediate object. He notes that the verb מָאַס (maas, “loathe”) is parallel to מָסַס (masas, “melt”) in the sense of “flow, drip” (Job 42:6). This would give the idea “I am fading away” or “I grow weaker,” or as Dhorme chooses, “I am pining away.”

9 tn There is no object for the verb in the text. But the most likely object would be “my life” from the last verse, especially since in this verse Job will talk about not living forever. Some have thought the object should be “death,” meaning that Job despised death more than the pains. But that is a forced meaning; besides, as H. H. Rowley points out, the word here means to despise something, to reject it. Job wanted death.

10 tn Heb “cease from me.” This construction means essentially “leave me in peace.”

11 tn This word הֶבֶל (hevel) is difficult to translate. It means “breath; puff of air; vapor” and then figuratively, “vanity.” Job is saying that his life is but a breath – it is brief and fleeting. Compare Ps 144:4 for a similar idea.



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