and he considers me among his enemies. 2
O that they were written on a scroll, 4
they were engraved in a rock forever!
2 tn This second half of the verse is a little difficult. The Hebrew has “and he reckons me for him like his adversaries.” Most would change the last word to a singular in harmony with the versions, “as his adversary.” But some retain the MT pointing and try to explain it variously: Weiser suggests that the plural might have come from a cultic recitation of Yahweh’s deeds against his enemies; Fohrer thinks it refers to the primeval enemies; Gordis takes it as distributive, “as one of his foes.” If the plural is retained, this latter view makes the most sense.
3 tn The optative is again expressed with the interrogative clause “Who will give that they be written?” Job wishes that his words be preserved long after his death.
4 tn While the sense of this line is clear, there is a small problem and a plausible solution. The last word is indeed סֶפֶר (sefer, “book”), usually understood here to mean “scroll.” But the verb that follows it in the verse is יֻחָקוּ (yukhaqu), from חָקַק (khaqaq, “to engrave; to carve”). While the meaning is clearly that Job wants his words to be retained, the idea of engraving in a book, although not impossible, is unusual. And so many have suggested that the Akkadian word siparru, “copper; brass,” is what is meant here (see Isa 30:8; Judg 5:14). The consonants are the same, and the vowel pattern is close to the original vowel pattern of this segholate noun. Writing on copper or bronze sheets has been attested from the 12th to the 2nd centuries, notably in the copper scroll, which would allow the translation “scroll” in our text (for more bibliography see D. J. A. Clines, Job [WBC], 432). But H. S. Gehman notes that in Phoenician our word can mean “inscription” (“SEÝFER, an inscription, in the book of Job,” JBL 63 : 303-7), making the proposed substitution unnecessary.
5 sn There is some question concerning the use of the lead. It surely cannot be a second description of the tool, for a lead tool would be of no use in chiseling words into a rock. It was Rashi’s idea, followed by Dillmann and Duhm, that lead was run into the cut-out letters. The suggestion that they wrote on lead tablets does not seem to fit the verse (cf. NIV). See further A. Baker, “The Strange Case of Job’s Chisel,” CBQ 31 (1969): 370-79.