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Job 7:1-3

Context
The Brevity of Life

7:1 “Does not humanity have hard service 1  on earth?

Are not their days also

like the days of a hired man? 2 

7:2 Like a servant 3  longing for the evening shadow, 4 

and like a hired man looking 5  for his wages, 6 

7:3 thus 7  I have been made to inherit 8 

months of futility, 9 

and nights of sorrow 10 

have been appointed 11  to me.

1 tn The word צָבָא (tsava’) is actually “army”; it can be used for the hard service of military service as well as other toil. As a military term it would include the fixed period of duty (the time) and the hard work (toil). Job here is considering the lot of all humans, not just himself.

2 tn The שָׂכִיר (sakhir) is a hired man, either a man who works for wages, or a mercenary soldier (Jer 46:21). The latter sense may be what is intended here in view of the parallelism, although the next verse seems much broader.

3 tn This term עֶבֶד (’eved) is the servant or the slave. He is compelled to work through the day, in the heat; but he longs for evening, when he can rest from the slavery.

4 tn The expression יִשְׁאַף־צֵל (yishaf tsel, “longing for the evening shadow”) could also be taken as a relative clause (without the relative pronoun): “as a servant [who] longs for the evening shadow” (see GKC 487 §155.g). In either case, the expressions in v. 2 emphasize the point of the comparison, which will be summed up in v. 3.

5 tn The two verbs in this verse stress the eager expectation and waiting. The first, שָׁאַף (shaaf), means “to long for; to desire”; and the second, קָוָה (qavah), has the idea of “to hope for; to look for; to wait.” The words would give the sense that the servant or hired man had the longing on his mind all day.

6 tn The word פֹּעַל (poal) means “work.” But here the word should be taken as a metonymy, meaning the pay for the work that he has done (compare Jer 22:13).

7 tn “Thus” indicates a summary of vv. 1 and 2: like the soldier, the mercenary, and the slave, Job has labored through life and looks forward to death.

8 tn The form is the Hophal perfect of נָחַל (nakhal): “I have been made to inherit,” or more simply, “I have inherited.” The form occurs only here. The LXX must have confused the letters or sounds, a ו (vav) for the ן (nun), for it reads “I have endured.” As a passive the form technically has two accusatives (see GKC 388 §121.c). Job’s point is that his sufferings have been laid on him by another, and so he has inherited them.

9 tn The word is שָׁוְא (shav’, “vanity, deception, nothingness, futility”). His whole life – marked here in months to show its brevity – has been futile. E. Dhorme (Job, 98) suggests the meaning “disillusionment,” explaining that it marks the deceptive nature of mortal life. The word describes life as hollow, insubstantial.

10 tn “Sorrow” is עָמָל (’amal), used in 3:10. It denotes anxious toil, labor, troublesome effort. It may be that the verse expresses the idea that the nights are when the pains of his disease are felt the most. The months are completely wasted; the nights are agonizing.

11 tn The verb is literally “they have appointed”; the form with no expressed subject is to be interpreted as a passive (GKC 460 §144.g). It is therefore not necessary to repoint the verb to make it passive. The word means “to number; to count,” and so “to determine; to allocate.”



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