he flees like a shadow, and does not remain. 6
And do you bring me 9 before you for judgment?
the number of his months is under your control; 14
you have set his limit 15 and he cannot pass it.
until he fulfills 17 his time like a hired man.
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
and put forth 25 shoots like a new plant.
he expires – and where is he? 28
1 tn The first of the threefold apposition for אָדָם (’adam, “man”) is “born of a woman.” The genitive (“woman”) after a passive participle denotes the agent of the action (see GKC 359 §116.l).
2 tn The second description is simply “[is] short of days.” The meaning here is that his life is short (“days” being put as the understatement for “years”).
4 tn Heb יָצָא (yatsa’, “comes forth”). The perfect verb expresses characteristic action and so is translated by the present tense (see GKC 329 §111.s).
5 tn The verb וַיִּמָּל (vayyimmal) is from the root מָלַל (malal, “to languish; to wither”) and not from a different root מָלַל (malal, “to cut off”).
6 tn The verb is “and he does not stand.” Here the verb means “to stay fixed; to abide.” The shadow does not stay fixed, but continues to advance toward darkness.
7 tn Heb “open the eye on,” an idiom meaning to prepare to judge someone.
8 tn The verse opens with אַף־עַל־זֶה (’af-’al-zeh), meaning “even on such a one!” It is an exclamation of surprise.
9 tn The text clearly has “me” as the accusative; but many wish to emend it to say “him” (אֹתוֹ, ’oto). But D. J. A. Clines rightly rejects this in view of the way Job is written, often moving back and forth from his own tragedy and others’ tragedies (Job [WBC], 283).
10 tn The expression is מִי־יִתֵּן (mi-yitten, “who will give”; see GKC 477 §151.b). Some commentators (H. H. Rowley and A. B. Davidson) wish to take this as the optative formula: “O that a clean might come out of an unclean!” But that does not fit the verse very well, and still requires the addition of a verb. The exclamation here simply implies something impossible – man is unable to attain purity.
11 sn The point being made is that the entire human race is contaminated by sin, and therefore cannot produce something pure. In this context, since man is born of woman, it is saying that the woman and the man who is brought forth from her are impure. See Ps 51:5; Isa 6:5; and Gen 6:5.
12 tn Heb “his days.”
13 tn The passive participle is from חָרַץ (kharats), which means “determined.” The word literally means “cut” (Lev 22:22, “mutilated”). E. Dhorme, (Job, 197) takes it to mean “engraved” as on stone; from a custom of inscribing decrees on tablets of stone he derives the meaning here of “decreed.” This, he argues, is parallel to the way חָקַק (khaqaq, “engrave”) is used. The word חֹק (khoq) is an “ordinance” or “statute”; the idea is connected to the verb “to engrave.” The LXX has “if his life should be but one day on the earth, and his months are numbered by him, you have appointed him for a time and he shall by no means exceed it.”
14 tn Heb “[is] with you.” This clearly means under God’s control.
sn Job is saying that God foreordains the number of the days of man. He foreknows the number of the months. He fixes the limit of human life which cannot be passed.
16 tn The verb חָדַל (khadal) means “to desist; to cease.” The verb would mean here “and let him desist,” which some take to mean “and let him rest.” But since this is rather difficult in the line, commentators have suggested other meanings. Several emend the text slightly to make it an imperative rather than an imperfect; this is then translated “and desist.” The expression “from him” must be added. Another suggestion that is far-fetched is that of P. J. Calderone (“CHDL-II in poetic texts,” CBQ 23 : 451-60) and D. W. Thomas (VTSup 4 : 8-16), having a new meaning of “be fat.”
17 tn There are two roots רָצַה (ratsah). The first is the common word, meaning “to delight in; to have pleasure in.” The second, most likely used here, means “to pay; to acquit a debt” (cf. Lev 26:34, 41, 43). Here with the mention of the simile with the hired man, the completing of the job is in view.
18 tn The genitive after the construct is one of advantage – it is hope for the tree.
19 sn The figure now changes to a tree for the discussion of the finality of death. At least the tree will sprout again when it is cut down. Why, Job wonders, should what has been granted to the tree not also be granted to humans?
20 tn The Hiphil of זָקַן (zaqan, “to be old”) is here an internal causative, “to grow old.”
21 tn The Hiphil is here classified as an inchoative Hiphil (see GKC 145 §53.e), for the tree only begins to die. In other words, it appears to be dead, but actually is not completely dead.
22 tn The LXX translates “dust” [soil] with “rock,” probably in light of the earlier illustration of the tree growing in the rocks.
sn Job is thinking here of a tree that dies or decays because of a drought rather than being uprooted, because the next verse will tell how it can revive with water.
23 tn The personification adds to the comparison with people – the tree is credited with the sense of smell to detect the water.
25 tn Heb “and will make.”
26 tn There are two words for “man” in this verse. The first (גֶּבֶר, gever) can indicate a “strong” or “mature man” or “mighty man,” the hero; and the second (אָדָם, ’adam) simply designates the person as mortal.
27 tn The word חָלַשׁ (khalash) in Aramaic and Syriac means “to be weak” (interestingly, the Syriac OT translated חָלַשׁ [khalash] with “fade away” here). The derived noun “the weak” would be in direct contrast to “the mighty man.” In the transitive sense the verb means “to weaken; to defeat” (Exod 17:13); here it may have the sense of “be lifeless, unconscious, inanimate” (cf. E. Dhorme, Job, 199). Many commentators emend the text to יַחֲלֹף (yakhalof, “passes on; passes away”). A. Guillaume tries to argue that the form is a variant of the other, the letters שׁ (shin) and פ (pe) being interchangeable (“The Use of halas in Exod 17:13, Isa 14:12, and Job 14:10,” JTS 14 : 91-92). G. R. Driver connected it to Arabic halasa, “carry off suddenly” (“The Resurrection of Marine and Terrestrial Creatures,” JSS 7 : 12-22). But the basic idea of “be weak, powerless” is satisfactory in the text. H. H. Rowley (Job [NCBC], 105) says, “Where words are so carefully chosen, it is gratuitous to substitute less expressive words as some editors do.”
28 tn This break to a question adds a startling touch to the whole verse. The obvious meaning is that he is gone. The LXX weakens it: “and is no more.”