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Job 19:7-20

Context
Job’s Abandonment and Affliction

19:7 “If 1  I cry out, 2  ‘Violence!’ 3 

I receive no answer; 4 

I cry for help,

but there is no justice.

19:8 He has blocked 5  my way so I cannot pass,

and has set darkness 6  over my paths.

19:9 He has stripped me of my honor

and has taken the crown off my head. 7 

19:10 He tears me down 8  on every side until I perish; 9 

he uproots 10  my hope 11  like one uproots 12  a tree.

19:11 Thus 13  his anger burns against me,

and he considers me among his enemies. 14 

19:12 His troops 15  advance together;

they throw up 16  a siege ramp against me,

and they camp around my tent.

Job’s Forsaken State

19:13 “He has put my relatives 17  far from me;

my acquaintances only 18  turn away from me.

19:14 My kinsmen have failed me;

my friends 19  have forgotten me. 20 

19:15 My guests 21  and my servant girls

consider 22  me a stranger;

I am a foreigner 23  in their eyes.

19:16 I summon 24  my servant, but he does not respond,

even though I implore 25  him with my own mouth.

19:17 My breath is repulsive 26  to my wife;

I am loathsome 27  to my brothers. 28 

19:18 Even youngsters have scorned me;

when I get up, 29  they scoff at me. 30 

19:19 All my closest friends 31  detest me;

and those whom 32  I love have turned against me. 33 

19:20 My bones stick to my skin and my flesh; 34 

I have escaped 35  alive 36  with only the skin of my teeth.

1 tn The particle is used here as in 9:11 (see GKC 497 §159.w).

2 tc The LXX has “I laugh at reproach.”

3 tn The same idea is expressed in Jer 20:8 and Hab 1:2. The cry is a cry for help, that he has been wronged, that there is no justice.

4 tn The Niphal is simply “I am not answered.” See Prov 21:13b.

5 tn The verb גָּדַר (gadar) means “to wall up; to fence up; to block.” God has blocked Job’s way so that he cannot get through. See the note on 3:23. Cf. Lam 3:7.

6 tn Some commentators take the word to be חָשַׁךְ (hasak), related to an Arabic word for “thorn hedge.”

7 sn The images here are fairly common in the Bible. God has stripped away Job’s honorable reputation. The crown is the metaphor for the esteem and dignity he once had. See 29:14; Isa 61:3; see Ps 8:5 [6].

8 tn The metaphors are changed now to a demolished building and an uprooted tree. The verb is נָתַץ (natats, “to demolish”). Since it is Job himself who is the object, the meaning cannot be “demolish” (as of a house so that an inhabitant has to leave), but more of the attack or the battering.

9 tn The text has הָלַךְ (halakh, “to leave”). But in view of Job 14:20, “perish” or “depart” would be a better meaning here.

10 tn The verb נָסַע (nasa’) means “to travel” generally, but specifically it means “to pull up the tent pegs and move.” The Hiphil here means “uproot.” It is used of a vine in Ps 80:9. The idea here does not contradict Job 14:7, for there the tree still had roots and so could grow.

11 tn The NEB has “my tent rope,” but that seems too contrived here. It is absurd to pull up a tent-rope like a tree.

12 tn Heb “like a tree.” The words “one uproots” are supplied in the translation for clarity.

13 tn The verb is a nonpreterite vayyiqtol perhaps employed to indicate that the contents of v. 11 are a logical sequence to the actions described in v. 10.

14 tn This second half of the verse is a little difficult. The Hebrew has “and he reckons me for him like his adversaries.” Most would change the last word to a singular in harmony with the versions, “as his adversary.” But some retain the MT pointing and try to explain it variously: Weiser suggests that the plural might have come from a cultic recitation of Yahweh’s deeds against his enemies; Fohrer thinks it refers to the primeval enemies; Gordis takes it as distributive, “as one of his foes.” If the plural is retained, this latter view makes the most sense.

15 sn Now the metaphor changes again. Since God thinks of Job as an enemy, he attacks with his troops, builds the siege ramp, and camps around him to besiege him. All the power and all the forces are at God’s disposal in his attack of Job.

16 tn Heb “they throw up their way against me.” The verb סָלַל (salal) means “to build a siege ramp” or “to throw up a ramp”; here the object is “their way.” The latter could be taken as an adverbial accusative, “as their way.” But as the object it fits just as well. Some delete the middle clause; the LXX has “Together his troops fell upon me, they beset my ways with an ambush.”

17 tn Heb “brothers.”

18 tn The LXX apparently took אַךְ־זָרוּ (’akh, “even, only,” and zaru, “they turn away”) together as if it was the verb אַכְזָרוּ (’akhzaru, “they have become cruel,” as in 20:21). But the grammar in the line would be difficult with this. Moreover, the word is most likely from זוּר (zur, “to turn away”). See L. A. Snijders, “The Meaning of zar in the Old Testament,” OTS 10 (1964): 1-154 (especially p. 9).

19 tn The Pual participle is used for those “known” to him, or with whom he is “familiar,” whereas קָרוֹב (qarov, “near”) is used for a relative.

20 tn Many commentators add the first part of v. 15 to this verse, because it is too loaded and this is too short. That gives the reading “My kinsmen and my familiar friends have disappeared, they have forgotten me (15) the guests I entertained.” There is not much support for this, nor is there much reason for it.

21 tn The Hebrew גָּרֵי בֵיתִי (gare beti, “the guests of my house”) refers to those who sojourned in my house – not residents, but guests.

22 tn The form of the verb is a feminine plural, which would seem to lend support to the proposed change of the lines (see last note to v. 14). But the form may be feminine primarily because of the immediate reference. On the other side, the suffix of “their eyes” is a masculine plural. So the evidence lies on both sides.

23 tn This word נָכְרִי (nokhri) is the person from another race, from a strange land, the foreigner. The previous word, גֵּר (ger), is a more general word for someone who is staying in the land but is not a citizen, a sojourner.

24 tn The verb קָרָא (qara’) followed by the ל (lamed) preposition means “to summon.” Contrast Ps 123:2.

25 tn Heb “plead for grace” or “plead for mercy” (ESV).

26 tn The Hebrew appears to have “my breath is strange to my wife.” This would be the meaning if the verb was from זוּר (zur, “to turn aside; to be a stranger”). But it should be connected to זִיר (zir), cognate to Assyrian zaru, “to feel repugnance toward.” Here it is used in the intransitive sense, “to be repulsive.” L. A. Snijders, following Driver, doubts the existence of this second root, and retains “strange” (“The Meaning of zar in the Old Testament,” OTS 10 [1964]: 1-154).

27 tn The normal meaning here would be based on the root חָנַן (khanan, “to be gracious”). And so we have versions reading “although I entreated” or “my supplication.” But it seems more likely it is to be connected to another root meaning “to be offensive; to be loathsome.” For the discussion of the connection to the Arabic, see E. Dhorme, Job, 278.

28 tn The text has “the sons of my belly [= body].” This would normally mean “my sons.” But they are all dead. And there is no suggestion that Job had other sons. The word “my belly” will have to be understood as “my womb,” i.e., the womb I came from. Instead of “brothers,” the sense could be “siblings” (both brothers and sisters; G. R. Driver and G. B. Gray, Job [ICC], 2:168).

29 sn The use of the verb “rise” is probably fairly literal. When Job painfully tries to get up and walk, the little boys make fun of him.

30 tn The verb דִּבֵּר (dibber) followed by the preposition בּ (bet) indicates speaking against someone, namely, scoffing or railing against someone (see Ps 50:20; 78:19). Some commentators find another root with the meaning “to turn one’s back on; to turn aside from.” The argument is rendered weak philologically because it requires a definition “from” for the preposition bet. See among others I. Eitan, “Studies in Hebrew Roots,” JQR 14 (1923-24): 31-52 [especially 38-41].

31 tn Heb “men of my confidence,” or “men of my council,” i.e., intimate friends, confidants.

32 tn The pronoun זֶה (zeh) functions here in the place of a nominative (see GKC 447 §138.h).

33 tn T. Penar translates this “turn away from me” (“Job 19,19 in the Light of Ben Sira 6,11,” Bib 48 [1967]: 293-95).

34 tn The meaning would be “I am nothing but skin and bones” in current English idiom. Both lines of this verse need attention. The first half seems to say, “My skin and my flesh sticks to my bones.” Some think that this is too long, and that the bones can stick to the skin, or the flesh, but not both. Dhorme proposes “in my skin my flesh has rotted away” (רָקַב, raqav). This involves several changes in the line, however. He then changes the second line to read “and I have gnawed my bone with my teeth” (transferring “bone” from the first half and omitting “skin”). There are numerous other renderings of this; some of the more notable are: “I escape, my bones in my teeth” (Merx); “my teeth fall out” (Duhm); “my teeth fall from my gums” (Pope); “my bones protrude in sharp points” (Kissane). A. B. Davidson retains “the skin of my teeth,” meaning “gums. This is about the last thing that Job has, or he would not be able to speak. For a detailed study of this verse, D. J. A. Clines devotes two full pages of textual notes (Job [WBC], 430-31). He concludes with “My bones hang from my skin and my flesh, I am left with only the skin of my teeth.”

35 tn Or “I am left.”

36 tn The word “alive” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.



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