and they come to an end without hope. 4
your eyes will look for me, but I will be gone. 9
so the one who goes down to the grave 12
does not come up again. 13
1 sn The first five verses described the painfulness of his malady, his life; now, in vv. 6-10 he will focus on the brevity of his life, and its extinction with death. He introduces the subject with “my days,” a metonymy for his whole life and everything done on those days. He does not mean individual days – they drag on endlessly.
3 sn The shuttle is the part which runs through the meshes of the web. In Judg 16:14 it is a loom (see BDB 71 s.v. אֶרֶג), but here it must be the shuttle. Hezekiah uses the imagery of the weaver, the loom, and the shuttle for the brevity of life (see Isa 38:12). The LXX used, “My life is lighter than a word.”
4 tn The text includes a wonderful wordplay on this word. The noun is תִּקְוָה (tiqvah, “hope”). But it can also have the meaning of one of its cognate nouns, קַו (qav, “thread, cord,” as in Josh 2:18,21). He is saying that his life is coming to an end for lack of thread/for lack of hope (see further E. Dhorme, Job, 101).
5 sn Job is probably turning here to God, as is clear from v. 11 on. The NIV supplies the word “God” for clarification. It was God who breathed breath into man’s nostrils (Gen 2:7), and so God is called to remember that man is but a breath.
6 tn The word “that” is supplied in the translation.
7 tn The verb with the infinitive serves as a verbal hendiadys: “return to see” means “see again.”
8 sn The meaning of the verse is that God will relent, but it will be too late. God now sees him with a hostile eye; when he looks for him, or looks upon him in friendliness, it will be too late.
9 tn This verse is omitted in the LXX and so by several commentators. But the verb שׁוּר (shur, “turn, return”) is so characteristic of Job (10 times) that the verse seems appropriate here.
10 tn The comparison is implied; “as” is therefore supplied in the translation.
11 tn The two verbs כָּלַה (kalah) and הָלַךְ (halakh) mean “to come to an end” and “to go” respectively. The picture is of the cloud that breaks up, comes to an end, is dispersed so that it is no longer a cloud; it then fades away or vanishes. This line forms a good simile for the situation of a man who comes to his end and disappears.
12 tn The noun שְׁאוֹל (shÿ’ol) can mean “the grave,” “death,” or “Sheol” – the realm of departed spirits. In Job this is a land from which there is no return (10:21 and here). It is a place of darkness and gloom (10:21-22), a place where the dead lie hidden (14:13); as a place appointed for all no matter what their standing on earth might have been (30:23). In each case the precise meaning has to be determined. Here the grave makes the most sense, for Job is simply talking about death.
13 sn It is not correct to try to draw theological implications from this statement or the preceding verse (Rashi said Job was denying the resurrection). Job is simply stating that when people die they are gone – they do not return to this present life on earth. Most commentators and theologians believe that theological knowledge was very limited at such an early stage, so they would not think it possible for Job to have bodily resurrection in view. (See notes on ch. 14 and 19:25-27.)