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Job 1:21-22

Context
1:21 He said, “Naked 1  I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. 2  The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. 3  May the name of the Lord 4  be blessed!” 1:22 In all this Job did not sin, nor did he charge God with moral impropriety. 5 

1 tn The adjective “naked” is functioning here as an adverbial accusative of state, explicative of the state of the subject. While it does include the literal sense of nakedness at birth, Job is also using it symbolically to mean “without possessions.”

2 sn While the first half of the couplet is to be taken literally as referring to his coming into this life, this second part must be interpreted only generally to refer to his departure from this life. It is parallel to 1 Tim 6:7, “For we have brought nothing into this world and so we cannot take a single thing out either.”

3 tn The two verbs are simple perfects. (1) They can be given the nuance of gnomic imperfect, expressing what the sovereign God always does. This is the approach taken in the present translation. Alternatively (2) they could be referring specifically to Job’s own experience: “Yahweh gave [definite past, referring to his coming into this good life] and Yahweh has taken away” [present perfect, referring to his great losses]. Many English versions follow the second alternative.

4 sn Some commentators are troubled by the appearance of the word “Yahweh” on the lips of Job, assuming that the narrator inserted his own name for God into the story-telling. Such thinking is based on the assumption that Yahweh was only a national god of Israel, unknown to anyone else in the ancient world. But here is a clear indication that a non-Israelite, Job, knew and believed in Yahweh.

5 tn The last clause is difficult to translate. It simply reads, “and he did not give unseemliness to God.” The word תִּפְלָה (tiflah) means “unsavoriness” or “unseemliness” in a moral sense. The sense is that Job did not charge God with any moral impropriety in his dealings with him. God did nothing worthless or tasteless. The ancient versions saw the word connected with “foolishness” or “stupidity” (תָּפֵל, tafel, “to be tasteless”). It is possible that “folly” would capture some of what Job meant here. See also M. Dahood, “Hebrew-Ugaritic Lexicography XII,” Bib 55 (1974): 381-93.



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