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Job 6:18-19

Context

6:18 Caravans 1  turn aside from their routes;

they go 2  into the wasteland 3  and perish. 4 

6:19 The caravans of Tema 5  looked intently 6  for these streams; 7 

the traveling merchants 8  of Sheba hoped for them.

1 tn This is the usual rendering of the Hebrew אָרְחוֹת (’orkhot, “way, path”). It would mean that the course of the wadi would wind down and be lost in the sand. Many commentators either repoint the text to אֹרְחוֹת (’orÿkhot) when in construct (as in Isa 21:13), or simply redefine the existing word to mean “caravans” as in the next verse, and translate something like “caravans deviate from their route.” D. J. A. Clines (Job [WBC], 160-61) allows that “caravans” will be introduced in the next verse, but urges retention of the usual sense here. The two verses together will yield the same idea in either case – the river dries up and caravans looking for the water deviate from their course looking for it.

2 tn The verb literally means “to go up,” but here no real ascent is intended for the wasteland. It means that they go inland looking for the water. The streams wind out into the desert and dry up in the sand and the heat. A. B. Davidson (Job, 47) notes the difficulty with the interpretation of this verse as a reference to caravans is that Ibn Ezra says that it is not usual for caravans to leave their path and wander inland in search of water.

3 tn The word תֹּהוּ (tohu) was used in Genesis for “waste,” meaning without shape or structure. Here the term refers to the trackless, unending wilderness (cf. 12:24).

4 sn If the term “paths” (referring to the brook) is the subject, then this verb would mean it dies in the desert; if caravaneers are intended, then when they find no water they perish. The point in the argument would be the same in either case. Job is saying that his friends are like this water, and he like the caravaneer was looking for refreshment, but found only that the brook had dried up.

5 sn Tema is the area of the oasis SE of the head of the Gulf of Aqaba; Sheba is in South Arabia. In Job 1:15 the Sabeans were raiders; here they are traveling merchants.

6 tn The verb נָבַט (navat) means “to gaze intently”; the looking is more intentional, more of a close scrutiny. It forms a fine parallel to the idea of “hope” in the second part. The NIV translates the second verb קִוּוּ (qivvu) as “look in hope.” In the previous verbs the imperfect form was used, expressing what generally happens (so the English present tense was used). Here the verb usage changes to the perfect form. It seems that Job is narrating a typical incident now – they looked, but were disappointed.

7 tn The words “for these streams” are supplied from context to complete the thought and make the connection with the preceding context.

8 tn In Ps 68:24 this word has the meaning of “processions”; here that procession is of traveling merchants forming convoys or caravans.



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