will 5 you return me to dust?
and knit me together 10 with bones and sinews.
and your intervention 13 watched over my spirit.
1 tn The root עָצַב (’atsav) is linked by some to an Arabic word meaning “to cut out, hew.” The derived word עֲצַבִּים (’atsabbim) means “idols.” Whatever the precise meaning, the idea is that God formed or gave shape to mankind in creation.
2 tn The verb in this part is a preterite with the vav (ו) consecutive. However, here it has merely an external connection with the preceding perfects, so that in reality it presents an antithesis (see GKC 327 §111.e).
3 tn Heb “together round about and you destroy me.” The second half of this verse is very difficult. Most commentators follow the LXX and connect the first two words with the second colon as the MT accents indicate (NJPS, “then destroyed every part of me”), rather than with the first colon (“and made me complete,” J. E. Hartley, Job [NICOT], 185). Instead of “together” some read “after.” Others see in סָבִיב (saviv) not so much an adjectival use but a verbal or adverbial use: “you turn and destroy” or “you destroy utterly (all around).” This makes more sense than “turn.” In addition, the verb form in the line is the preterite with vav consecutive; this may be another example of the transposition of the copula (see 4:6). For yet another option (“You have engulfed me about altogether”), see R. Fuller, “Exodus 21:22: The Miscarriage Interpretation and the Personhood of the Fetus,” JETS 37 (1994): 178.
4 tn The preposition “like” creates a small tension here. So some ignore the preposition and read “clay” as an adverbial accusative of the material (GKC 371 §117.hh but cf. 379 §119.i with reference to beth essentiae: “as it were, by clay”). The NIV gets around the problem with a different meaning for the verb: “you molded me like clay.” Some suggest the meaning was “as [with] clay” (in the same manner that we have “as [in] the day of Midian” [Isa 9:4]).
5 tn The text has a conjunction: “and to dust….”
6 tn The verb נָתַךְ (natakh) means “to flow,” and in the Hiphil, “to cause to flow.”
7 tn This verb קָפָא (qafa’) means “to coagulate.” In the Hiphil it means “to stiffen; to congeal.”
sn These verses figuratively describe the formation of the embryo in the womb.
9 tn The skin and flesh form the exterior of the body and so the image of “clothing” is appropriate. Once again the verb is the prefixed conjugation, expressing what God did.
10 tn This verb is found only here (related nouns are common) and in the parallel passage of Ps 139:13. The word סָכַךְ (sakhakh), here a Poel prefixed conjugation (preterite), means “to knit together.” The implied comparison is that the bones and sinews form the tapestry of the person (compare other images of weaving the life).
11 tn Heb “you made with me.”
12 tn E. Dhorme (Job, 150) suggests that the relation between these two words is like a hendiadys. In other words, “life,” which he says is made prominent by the shift of the copula, specifies the nature of the grace. He renders it “the favor of life.” D. J. A. Clines at least acknowledges that the expression “you showed loyal love with me” is primary. There are many other attempts to improve the translation of this unusual combination.
13 tn The noun פְּקָָֻדּה (pÿquddah), originally translated “visitation,” actually refers to any divine intervention for blessing on the life. Here it would include the care and overseeing of the life of Job. “Providence” may be too general for the translation, but it is not far from the meaning of this line. The LXX has “your oversight.”