Caravans 1 turn aside from their routes; they go 2 into the wasteland 3 and perish. 4
|NET © Notes||
1 tn This is the usual rendering of the Hebrew אָרְחוֹת (’orkhot, “way, path”). It would mean that the course of the wadi would wind down and be lost in the sand. Many commentators either repoint the text to אֹרְחוֹת (’orÿkhot) when in construct (as in Isa 21:13), or simply redefine the existing word to mean “caravans” as in the next verse, and translate something like “caravans deviate from their route.” D. J. A. Clines (Job [WBC], 160-61) allows that “caravans” will be introduced in the next verse, but urges retention of the usual sense here. The two verses together will yield the same idea in either case – the river dries up and caravans looking for the water deviate from their course looking for it.
2 tn The verb literally means “to go up,” but here no real ascent is intended for the wasteland. It means that they go inland looking for the water. The streams wind out into the desert and dry up in the sand and the heat. A. B. Davidson (Job, 47) notes the difficulty with the interpretation of this verse as a reference to caravans is that Ibn Ezra says that it is not usual for caravans to leave their path and wander inland in search of water.
3 tn The word תֹּהוּ (tohu) was used in Genesis for “waste,” meaning without shape or structure. Here the term refers to the trackless, unending wilderness (cf. 12:24).
4 sn If the term “paths” (referring to the brook) is the subject, then this verb would mean it dies in the desert; if caravaneers are intended, then when they find no water they perish. The point in the argument would be the same in either case. Job is saying that his friends are like this water, and he like the caravaneer was looking for refreshment, but found only that the brook had dried up.