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Job 2:11-13

Context
The Visit of Job’s Friends 1 

2:11 When Job’s three friends heard about all this calamity that had happened to him, each of them came from his own country 2  – Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. 3  They met together 4  to come to show sympathy 5  for him and to console 6  him. 2:12 But when they gazed intently 7  from a distance but did not recognize 8  him, they began to weep loudly. Each of them tore his robes, and they threw dust into the air over their heads. 9  2:13 Then they sat down with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights, yet no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his pain 10  was very great. 11 

1 sn See N. C. Habel, “‘Only the Jackal is My Friend,’ On Friends and Redeemers in Job,” Int 31 (1977): 227-36.

2 tn Heb “a man from his place”; this is the distributive use, meaning “each man came from his place.”

3 sn Commentators have tried to analyze the meanings of the names of the friends and their locations. Not only has this proven to be difficult (Teman is the only place that is known), it is not necessary for the study of the book. The names are probably not symbolic of the things they say.

4 tn The verb can mean that they “agreed together”; but it also (and more likely) means that they came together at a meeting point to go visit Job together.

5 tn The verb “to show grief” is נוּד (nud), and literally signifies “to shake the head.” It may be that his friends came to show the proper sympathy and express the appropriate feelings. They were not ready for what they found.

6 tn The second infinitive is from נָחָם (nakham, “to comfort, console” in the Piel). This word may be derived from a word with a meaning of sighing deeply.

7 tn Heb “they lifted up their eyes.” The idiom “to lift up the eyes” (or “to lift up the voice”) is intended to show a special intensity in the effort. Here it would indicate that they were trying to see Job from a great distance away.

8 tn The Hiphil perfect here should take the nuance of potential perfect – they were not able to recognize him. In other words, this does not mean that they did not know it was Job, only that he did not look anything like the Job they knew.

9 tn Heb “they tossed dust skyward over their heads.”

10 tn The word כְּאֵב (kÿev) means “pain” – both mental and physical pain. The translation of “grief” captures only part of its emphasis.

11 sn The three friends went into a more severe form of mourning, one that is usually reserved for a death. E. Dhorme says it is a display of grief in its most intense form (Job, 23); for one of them to speak before the sufferer spoke would have been wrong.



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