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Job 7:1-5

Context
The Brevity of Life

7:1 “Does not humanity have hard service 1  on earth?

Are not their days also

like the days of a hired man? 2 

7:2 Like a servant 3  longing for the evening shadow, 4 

and like a hired man looking 5  for his wages, 6 

7:3 thus 7  I have been made to inherit 8 

months of futility, 9 

and nights of sorrow 10 

have been appointed 11  to me.

7:4 If I lie down, I say, 12  ‘When will I arise?’,

and the night stretches on 13 

and I toss and turn restlessly 14 

until the day dawns.

7:5 My body 15  is clothed 16  with worms 17  and dirty scabs; 18 

my skin is broken 19  and festering.

1 tn The word צָבָא (tsava’) is actually “army”; it can be used for the hard service of military service as well as other toil. As a military term it would include the fixed period of duty (the time) and the hard work (toil). Job here is considering the lot of all humans, not just himself.

2 tn The שָׂכִיר (sakhir) is a hired man, either a man who works for wages, or a mercenary soldier (Jer 46:21). The latter sense may be what is intended here in view of the parallelism, although the next verse seems much broader.

3 tn This term עֶבֶד (’eved) is the servant or the slave. He is compelled to work through the day, in the heat; but he longs for evening, when he can rest from the slavery.

4 tn The expression יִשְׁאַף־צֵל (yishaf tsel, “longing for the evening shadow”) could also be taken as a relative clause (without the relative pronoun): “as a servant [who] longs for the evening shadow” (see GKC 487 §155.g). In either case, the expressions in v. 2 emphasize the point of the comparison, which will be summed up in v. 3.

5 tn The two verbs in this verse stress the eager expectation and waiting. The first, שָׁאַף (shaaf), means “to long for; to desire”; and the second, קָוָה (qavah), has the idea of “to hope for; to look for; to wait.” The words would give the sense that the servant or hired man had the longing on his mind all day.

6 tn The word פֹּעַל (poal) means “work.” But here the word should be taken as a metonymy, meaning the pay for the work that he has done (compare Jer 22:13).

7 tn “Thus” indicates a summary of vv. 1 and 2: like the soldier, the mercenary, and the slave, Job has labored through life and looks forward to death.

8 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.

9 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.

10 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.

11 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.”

12 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).

13 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).

14 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.

15 tn Heb “my flesh.”

16 tn The implied comparison is vivid: the dirty scabs cover his entire body like a garment – so he is clothed with them.

17 sn The word for “worms” (רִמָּה, rimmah, a collective noun), is usually connected with rotten food (Exod 16:24), or the grave (Isa 14:11). Job’s disease is a malignant ulcer of some kind that causes the rotting of the flesh. One may recall that both Antiochus Epiphanes (2 Macc 9:9) and Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:23) were devoured by such worms in their diseases.

18 tn The text has “clods of dust.” The word גִּישׁ (gish, “dirty scabs”) is a hapax legomenon from גּוּשׁ (gush, “clod”). Driver suggests the word has a medical sense, like “pustules” (G. R. Driver, “Problems in the Hebrew text of Job,” VTSup 3 [1955]: 73) or “scabs” (JB, NEB, NAB, NIV). Driver thinks “clods of dust” is wrong; he repoints “dust” to make a new verb “to cover,” cognate to Arabic, and reads “my flesh is clothed with worms, and scab covers my skin.” This refers to the dirty scabs that crusted over the sores all over his body. The LXX links this with the second half of the verse: “And my body has been covered with loathsome worms, and I waste away, scraping off clods of dirt from my eruption.”

19 tn The meaning of רָגַע (raga’) is also debated here. D. J. A. Clines (Job [WBC], 163) does not think the word can mean “cracked” because scabs show evidence of the sores healing. But E. Dhorme (Job, 100) argues that the usage of the word shows the idea of “splitting, separating, making a break,” or the like. Here then it would mean “my skin splits” and as a result festers. This need not be a reference to the scabs, but to new places. Or it could mean that the scabbing never heals, but is always splitting open.



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