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Job 10:20-22

Context

10:20 Are not my days few? 1 

Cease, 2  then, and leave 3  me alone, 4 

that I may find a little comfort, 5 

10:21 before I depart, never to return, 6 

to the land of darkness

and the deepest shadow, 7 

10:22 to the land of utter darkness,

like the deepest darkness,

and the deepest shadow and disorder, 8 

where even the light 9  is like darkness.” 10 

1 tn Heb “are not my days few; cease/let it cease….” The versions have “the days of my life” (reading יְמֵי חֶלְדִי [yÿme kheldi] instead of יָמַי וַחֲדָל [yamay vakhadal]). Many commentators and the RSV, NAB, and NRSV accept this reading. The Kethib is an imperfect or jussive, “let it cease/ it will cease.” The Qere is more intelligible for some interpreters – “cease” (as in 7:16). For a discussion of the readings, see D. W. Thomas, “Some Observations on the Hebrew Root hadal,” VTSup 4 [1057]: 14). But the text is not impossible as it stands.

2 tn Taking the form as the imperative with the ו (vav), the sentence follows the direct address to God (as in v. 18 as well as 7:16). This requires less changes. See the preceding note regarding the plausibility of the jussive. The point of the verse is clear in either reading – his life is short, and he wants the suffering to stop.

3 tn In the different suggestions for the line, the י (yod) of this word is believed to belong to the preceding word making “my life.” That would here leave an imperative rather than an imperfect. But if the Qere is read, then it would be an imperative anyway, and there would be no reason for the change.

4 tn Heb “put from me,” an expression found nowhere else. The Qere has a ו (vav) and not a י (yod), forming an imperative rather than an imperfect. H. H. Rowley suggests that there is an ellipsis here, “hand” needing to be supplied. Job wanted God to take his hand away from him. That is plausible, but difficult.

5 tn The verb בָּלַג (balag) in the Hiphil means “to have cheer [or joy]” (see 7:27; Ps 39:14). The cohortative following the imperatives shows the purpose or result – “in order that.”

6 sn The verbs are simple, “I go” and “I return”; but Job clearly means before he dies. A translation of “depart” comes closer to communicating this. The second verb may be given a potential imperfect translation to capture the point. The NIV offered more of an interpretive paraphrase: “before I go to the place of no return.”

7 tn See Job 3:5.

8 tn The word סֵדֶר (seder, “order”) occurs only here in the Bible. G. R. Driver found a new meaning in Arabic sadira, “dazzled by the glare” (“Problems in the Hebrew text of Job,” VTSup 3 [1955]: 76-77); this would mean “without a ray of light.” This is accepted by those who see chaos out of place in this line. But the word “order” is well-attested in later Hebrew (see J. Carmignac, “Précisions aportées au vocabulaire d’hébreu biblique par La guerre des fils de lumière contre les fils de ténèbres,” VT 5 [1955]: 345-65).

9 tn The Hebrew word literally means “it shines”; the feminine verb implies a subject like “the light” (but see GKC 459 §144.c).

10 tn The verse multiplies images for the darkness in death. Several commentators omit “as darkness, deep darkness” (כְּמוֹ אֹפֶל צַלְמָוֶת, kÿmoofel tsalmavet) as glosses on the rare word עֵיפָתָה (’efatah, “darkness”) drawn from v. 21 (see also RSV). The verse literally reads: “[to the] land of darkness, like the deep darkness of the shadow of death, without any order, and the light is like the darkness.”



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