months of futility, 3
and nights of sorrow 4
have been appointed 5 to me.
and the night stretches on 7
and I toss and turn restlessly 8
until the day dawns.
2 tn The form is the Hophal perfect of נָחַל (nakhal): “I have been made to inherit,” or more simply, “I have inherited.” The form occurs only here. The LXX must have confused the letters or sounds, a ו (vav) for the ן (nun), for it reads “I have endured.” As a passive the form technically has two accusatives (see GKC 388 §121.c). Job’s point is that his sufferings have been laid on him by another, and so he has inherited them.
3 tn The word is שָׁוְא (shav’, “vanity, deception, nothingness, futility”). His whole life – marked here in months to show its brevity – has been futile. E. Dhorme (Job, 98) suggests the meaning “disillusionment,” explaining that it marks the deceptive nature of mortal life. The word describes life as hollow, insubstantial.
4 tn “Sorrow” is עָמָל (’amal), used in 3:10. It denotes anxious toil, labor, troublesome effort. It may be that the verse expresses the idea that the nights are when the pains of his disease are felt the most. The months are completely wasted; the nights are agonizing.
5 tn The verb is literally “they have appointed”; the form with no expressed subject is to be interpreted as a passive (GKC 460 §144.g). It is therefore not necessary to repoint the verb to make it passive. The word means “to number; to count,” and so “to determine; to allocate.”
6 tn This is the main clause, and not part of the previous conditional clause; it is introduced by the conjunction אִם (’im) (see GKC 336 §112.gg).
7 tn The verb מָדַד (madad) normally means “to measure,” and here in the Piel it has been given the sense of “to extend.” But this is not well attested and not widely accepted. There are many conjectural emendations. Of the most plausible one might mention the view of Gray, who changes מִדַּד (middad, Piel of מָדַּד) to מִדֵּי (midde, comprising the preposition מִן [min] plus the noun דַּי [day], meaning “as often as”): “as often as evening comes.” Dhorme, following the LXX to some extent, adds the word “day” after “when/if” and replaces מִדַּד (middad) with מָתַי (matay, “when”) to read “If I lie down, I say, ‘When comes the morning?’ If I rise up, I say, ‘How long till evening?’” The LXX, however, may be based more on a recollection of Deut 28:67. One can make just as strong a case for the reading adopted here, that the night seems to drag on (so also NIV).
8 tn The Hebrew term נְדֻדִים (nÿdudim, “tossing”) refers to the restless tossing and turning of the sick man at night on his bed. The word is a hapax legomenon derived from the verb נָדַד (nadad, “to flee; to wander; to be restless”). The plural form here sums up the several parts of the actions (GKC 460 §144.f). E. Dhorme (Job, 99) argues that because it applies to both his waking hours and his sleepless nights, it may have more of the sense of wanderings of the mind. There is no doubt truth to the fact that the mind wanders in all this suffering; but there is no need to go beyond the contextually clear idea of the restlessness of the night.
9 tn The verb פָּקַד (paqad) is a very common one in the Bible; while it is frequently translated “visit,” the “visit” is never comparable to a social call. When God “visits” people it always means a divine intervention for blessing or cursing – but the visit always changes the destiny of the one visited. Here Job is amazed that God Almighty would be so involved in the life of mere human beings.
10 tn Now the verb “to test” is introduced and gives further explanation to the purpose of the “visit” in the parallel line (see the same parallelism in Ps 17:3). The verb בָּחַן (bakhan) has to do with passing things through the fire or the crucible to purify the metal (see Job 23:10; Zech 13:3); metaphorically it means “to examine carefully” and “to purify by testing.”
11 sn The amazing thing is the regularity of the testing. Job is at first amazed that God would visit him; but even more is he amazed that God is testing him every moment. The employment of a chiasm with the two temporal adverbial phrases as the central elements emphasizes the regularity.