1:15 and the Sabeans 1 swooped down 2 and carried them all away, and they killed 3 the servants with the sword! 4 And I – only I alone 5 – escaped to tell you!”
1:16 While this one was still speaking, 6 another messenger arrived 7 and said, “The fire of God 8 has fallen from heaven 9 and has burned up the sheep and the servants – it has consumed them! And I – only I alone – escaped to tell you!”
1:17 While this one was still speaking another messenger arrived and said, “The Chaldeans 10 formed three bands and made a raid 11 on the camels and carried them all away, and they killed the servants with the sword! 12 And I – only I alone – escaped to tell you!”
1 tn The LXX has “the spoilers spoiled them” instead of “the Sabeans swooped down.” The translators might have connected the word to שְָׁבָה (shavah, “to take captive”) rather than שְׁבָא (shÿva’, “Sabeans”), or they may have understood the name as general reference to all types of Bedouin invaders from southern Arabia (HALOT 1381 s.v. שְׁבָא 2.c).
sn The name “Sheba” is used to represent its inhabitants, or some of them. The verb is feminine because the name is a place name. The Sabeans were a tribe from the Arabian peninsula. They were traders mostly (6:19). The raid came from the south, suggesting that this band of Sabeans were near Edom. The time of the attack seems to be winter since the oxen were plowing.
2 tn The Hebrew is simply “fell” (from נָפַל, nafal). To “fall upon” something in war means to attack quickly and suddenly.
3 sn Job’s servants were probably armed and gave resistance, which would be the normal case in that time. This was probably why they were “killed with the sword.”
4 tn Heb “the edge/mouth of the sword”; see T. J. Meek, “Archaeology and a Point of Hebrew Syntax,” BASOR 122 (1951): 31-33.
5 tn The pleonasms in the verse emphasize the emotional excitement of the messenger.
6 tn The particle עוֹד (’od, “still”) is used with the participle to express the past circumstances when something else happened (IBHS 625-26 §37.6d).
7 tn The Hebrew expression is literally “yet/this/speaking/and this/ arrived.” The sentence uses the two demonstratives as a contrasting pair. It means “this one was still speaking when that one arrived” (IBHS 308-9 §17.3c). The word “messenger” has been supplied in the translation in vv. 16, 17, and 18 for clarity and for stylistic reasons.
8 sn The “fire of God” would refer to lightning (1 Kgs 18:38; 2 Kgs 1:12; cf. NAB, NCV, TEV). The LXX simply has “fire.” The first blow came from enemies; the second from heaven, which might have confused Job more as to the cause of his troubles. The use of the divine epithet could also be an indication of the superlative degree; see D. W. Thomas, “A Consideration of Some Unusual Ways of Expressing the Superlative in Hebrew,” VT 3 (1953): 209-24.
9 tn Or “from the sky.” The Hebrew word שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heaven[s]” or “sky” depending on the context.
10 sn The name may have been given to the tribes that roamed between the Euphrates and the lands east of the Jordan. These are possibly the nomadic Kaldu who are part of the ethnic Aramaeans. The LXX simply has “horsemen.”
12 tn Heb “with the edge/mouth of the sword.”