I. The Prologue (1:1-2:13)
Job’s Good Life#sn See N. C. Habel, “The Narrative Art of Job,” JSOT 27 (1983): 101-11; J. J. Owens, “Prologue and Epilogue,” RevExp 68 (1971): 457-67; and R. Polzin, “The Framework of the Book of Job,” Int 31 (1974): 182-200.
1#sn The Book of Job is one of the major books of wisdom literature in the Bible. But it is a different kind of wisdom. Whereas the Book of Proverbs is a collection of the short wisdom sayings, Job is a thorough analysis of the relationship between suffering and divine justice put in a dramatic poetic form. There are a number of treatises on this subject in the ancient Near East, but none of them are as thorough and masterful as Job. See J. Gray, “The Book of Job in the Context of Near Eastern Literature,” ZAW 82 (1970): 251-69; S. N. Kramer, “Man and His God, A Sumerian Variation on the ‘Job’ Motif,” VTSup 3 (1953): 170-82. While the book has fascinated readers for ages, it is a difficult book, difficult to translate and difficult to study. Most of it is written in poetic parallelism. But it is often very cryptic, it is written with unusual grammatical constructions, and it makes use of a large number of very rare words. All this has led some scholars to question if it was originally written in Hebrew or some other related Semitic dialect or language first. There is no indication of who the author was. It is even possible that the work may have been refined over the years; but there is no evidence for this either. The book uses a variety of genres (laments, hymns, proverbs, and oracles) in the various speeches of the participants. This all adds to the richness of the material. And while it is a poetic drama using cycles of speeches, there is no reason to doubt that the events represented here do not go back to a real situation and preserve the various arguments. Several indications in the book would place Job’s dates in the time of the patriarchs. But the composition of the book, or at least its final form, may very well come from the first millennium, maybe in the time of the flowering of wisdom literature with Solomon. We have no way of knowing when the book was written, or when its revision was completed. But dating it late in the intertestamental period is ruled out by the appearance of translations and copies of it, notably bits of a Targum of Job in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Among the general works and commentaries, see A. Hurvitz, “The Date of the Prose Tale of Job Linguistically Reconsidered,” HTR 67 (1974): 17-34; R. H. Pfeiffer, “The Priority of Job over Isaiah 40-55,” JBL 46 (1927): 202ff. The book presents many valuable ideas on the subject of the suffering of the righteous. Ultimately it teaches that one must submit to the wisdom of the Creator. But it also indicates that the shallow answers of Job’s friends do not do justice to the issue. Their arguments that suffering is due to sin are true to a point, but they did not apply to Job. His protests sound angry and belligerent, but he held tenaciously to his integrity. His experience shows that it is possible to live a pure life and yet still suffer. He finally turns his plea to God, demanding a hearing. This he receives, of course, only to hear that God is sovereignly ruling the universe. Job can only submit to him. In the end God does not abandon his sufferer. For additional material, see G. L. Archer, The Book of Job; H. H. Rowley, “The Book of Job and Its Meaning,” BJRL 41 (1958/59): 167-207; J. A. Baker, The Book of Job; C. L. Feinberg, “The Book of Job,” BSac 91 (1934): 78-86; R. Polzin and D. Robertson, “Studies in the Book of Job,” Semeia 7 (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1977). There was a man#tn The Hebrew construction is literally “a man was,” using אִישׁ הָיָה (’ish hayah) rather than a preterite first. This simply begins the narrative. in the land of Uz#sn The term Uz occurs several times in the Bible: a son of Aram (Gen 10:23), a son of Nahor (Gen 22:21), and a descendant of Seir (Gen 36:28). If these are the clues to follow, the location would be north of Syria or south near Edom. The book tells how Job’s flocks were exposed to Chaldeans, the tribes between Syria and the Euphrates (1:17), and in another direction to attacks from the Sabeans (1:15). The most prominent man among his friends was from Teman, which was in Edom (2:11). Uz is also connected with Edom in Lamentations 4:21. The most plausible location, then, would be east of Israel and northeast of Edom, in what is now North Arabia. The LXX has “on the borders of Edom and Arabia.” An early Christian tradition placed his home in an area about 40 miles south of Damascus, in Baashan at the southeast foot of Hermon. whose#tn In Hebrew the defining relative clause (“whose name was Job”) is actually an asyndetic verbless noun-clause placed in apposition to the substantive (“a man”); see GKC 486 §155.e. name was Job.#sn The name “Job” is mentioned by Ezekiel as one of the greats in the past – Noah, Job, and Daniel (14:14). The suffering of Job was probably well known in the ancient world, and this name was clearly part of that tradition. There is little reason to try to determine the etymology and meaning of the name, since it may not be Hebrew. If it were Hebrew, it might mean something like “persecuted,” although some suggest “aggressor.” If Arabic it might have the significance of “the one who always returns to God.” And that man was pure#tn The word תָּם (tam) has been translated “perfect” (so KJV, ASV). The verbal root תָּמַם (tamam) means “to be blameless, complete.” The word is found in Gen 25:27 where it describes Jacob as “even-tempered.” It also occurs in Ps 64:5 (64:4 ET) and Prov 29:10. The meaning is that a person or a thing is complete, perfect, flawless. It does not mean that he was sinless, but that he was wholeheartedly trying to please God, that he had integrity and was blameless before God. and upright,#tn The word יָשָׁר (yashar, “upright”) is complementary to “blameless.” The idea is “upright, just,” and applies to his relationships with others (Ps 37:37 and 25:21). one who feared God and turned away from evil.#sn These two expressions indicate the outcome of Job’s character. “Fearing God” and “turning from evil” also express two correlative ideas in scripture; they signify his true piety – he had reverential fear of the Lord, meaning he was a truly devoted worshiper who shunned evil. 2 Seven#sn The numbers used in the chapter, seven, three, and five, carry the symbolism in the Bible of perfection and completeness (see J. J. Davis, Biblical Numerology). Job’s “seven sons” are listed first because in the East sons were considered more valuable than daughters (recall Ruth, who is “better than seven sons” [Ruth 4:15]). sons and three daughters were born to him.#tn The verb begins the sentence: “and there were born.” This use of the preterite with vav (ו) consecutive, especially after the verb הָיָה (hayah, “to be”), is explanatory: there was a man…and there was born to him…” (IBHS 551-52 §33.2.2b). 3 His possessions#tn The word means “cattle, livestock, possessions” (see also Gen 26:14). Here it includes the livestock, but also the entire substance of his household. included#tn Or “amounted to,” “totaled.” The preterite of הָיָה (hayah, “to be”) is sometimes employed to introduce a total amount or an inventory (see Exod 1:5; Num 3:43). 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys; in addition he had a very great household.#tn The word עֲבֻדָּה (’avuddah, “service of household servants”) indicates that he had a very large body of servants, meaning a very large household. Thus he#tn Heb “and that man.” was the greatest of all the people in the east.#tn The expression is literally “sons of the east.” The use of the genitive after “sons” in this construction may emphasize their nature (like “sons of belial”); it would refer to them as easterners (like “sons of the south” in contemporary American English). BDB 869 s.v. קֶדֶם says “dwellers in the east.”
4 Now his sons used to go#tn The perfect verb with the ו (vav), וְהָלְכוּ (vÿhalÿkhu, “they went”) indicates their characteristic action, actions that were frequently repeated (GKC 335-36 §112.dd). and hold#tn Heb “make a feast.” a feast in the house of each one in turn,#tn The sense is cryptic; it literally says “house – a man – his day.” The word “house” is an adverbial accusative of place: “in the house.” “Man” is the genitive; it also has a distributive sense: “in the house of each man.” And “his day” is an adverbial accusative: “on his day.” The point is that they feasted every day of the week in rotation. and they would send and invite#tn The use of קָרָא (qara’, “to call, invite”) followed by the ל (lamed) usually has the force of “to summon.” Here the meaning would not be so commanding, but would refer to an invitation (see also 1 Kgs 1:19, 25, 26). their three#tn Normally cardinal numerals tend to disagree in gender with the numbered noun. In v. 2 “three daughters” consists of the masculine numeral followed by the feminine noun. However, here “three sisters” consists of the feminine numeral followed by the feminine noun. The distinction appears to be that the normal disagreement between numeral and noun when the intent is merely to fix the number (3 daughters as opposed to 2 or 4 daughters). However, when a particular, previously known group is indicated, the numeral tends to agree with the noun in gender. A similar case occurs in Gen 3:13 (“three wives” of Noah’s sons). sisters to eat and to drink with them. 5 When#tn The verse begins with the temporal indicator “and it happened” or “and it came to pass,” which need not be translated. The particle כִּי (ki, “when”) with the initial verbal form indicates it is a temporal clause. the days of their feasting were finished,#tn The verb is the Hiphil perfect of נָקַף (naqaf, “go around”), here it means “to make the round” or “complete the circuit” (BDB 668-69 s.v. II נָקַף Hiph). It indicates that when the feasting had made its circuit of the seven sons, then Job would sanctify them. Job would send#tn The form is a preterite with vav (ו) consecutive. The same emphasis on repeated or frequent action continues here in this verse. The idea here is that Job would send for them, because the sanctification of them would have consisted of washings and changes of garments as well as the sacrifices (see Gen 35:2; 1 Sam 16:5). for them and sanctify#tn Or “purify.” them; he would get up early#tn The first verb could also be joined with the next to form a verbal hendiadys: “he would rise early and he would sacrifice” would then simply be “he would sacrifice early in the morning” (see M. Delcor, “Quelques cas de survivances du vocabulaire nomade en hébreu biblique,” VT 25 [1975]: 307-22). This section serves to explain in more detail how Job sanctified his children. sn In the patriarchal society it was normal for the father to act as priest for the family, making the sacrifices as needed. Job here is exceptional in his devotion to the duty. The passage shows the balance between the greatest earthly rejoicing by the family, and the deepest piety and affection of the father. in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to#tn The text does not have “according to”; the noun “number” is an accusative that defines the extent of his actions (GKC 373-74 §118.e, h). the number of them all. For Job thought, “Perhaps#tn The clause stands as an accusative to the verb, here as the direct object introduced with “perhaps” (IBHS 645-46 §38.8d). my children#tn Heb “sons,” but since the three daughters are specifically mentioned in v. 4, “children” has been used in the translation. In this patriarchal culture, however, it is possible that only the sons are in view. have sinned and cursed#tn The Hebrew verb is בָּרַךְ (barakh), which means “to bless.” Here is a case where the writer or a scribe has substituted the word “curse” with the word “bless” to avoid having the expression “curse God.” For similar euphemisms in the ancient world, see K. A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament, 166. It is therefore difficult to know exactly what Job feared they might have done. The opposite of “bless” would be “curse,” which normally would convey disowning or removing from blessing. Some commentators try to offer a definition of “curse” from the root in the text, and noting that “curse” is too strong, come to something like “renounce.” The idea of blaspheming is probably not meant; rather, in their festivities they may have said things that renounced God or their interest in him. Job feared this momentary turning away from God in their festivities, perhaps as they thought their good life was more important than their religion. God in their hearts.” This was Job’s customary practice.#tn The imperfect expresses continual action in past time, i.e., a customary imperfect (GKC 315 §107.e).
Satan’s Accusation of Job#sn The text draws the curtain of heaven aside for the reader to understand the background of this drama. God extols the virtue of Job, but Satan challenges the reasons for it. He receives permission to try to dislodge Job from his integrity. In short, God is using Job to prove Satan’s theory wrong.
6 Now the day came when#tn The beginning Hebrew expression “and there was – the day” indicates that “there came a day when” or more simply “the day came when.” It emphasizes the particular day. The succeeding clause is then introduced with a preterite with the with vav (ו) consecutive (see E. Dhorme, Job, 5). the sons of God#sn The “sons of God” in the OT is generally taken to refer to angels. They are not actually “sons” of Elohim; the idiom is a poetic way of describing their nature and relationship to God. The phrase indicates their supernatural nature, and their submission to God as the sovereign Lord. It may be classified as a genitive that expresses how individuals belong to a certain class or type, i.e., the supernatural (GKC 418 §128.v). In the pagan literature, especially of Ugarit, “the sons of God” refers to the lesser gods or deities of the pantheon. See H. W. Robinson, “The Council of Yahweh,” JTS 45 (1943): 151-57; G. Cooke, “The Sons of (the) God(s),” ZAW 76 (1964): 22-47; M. Tsevat, “God and the Gods in the Assembly,” HUCA 40-41 (1969/70): 123-37. came to present themselves before#tn The preposition עַל (’al) in this construction after a verb of standing or going means “before” (GKC 383 §119.cc). the Lord – and Satan#sn The word means “adversary” or with the article “the adversary” – here the superhuman adversary or Satan. The word with the article means that the meaning of the word should receive prominence. A denominative verb meaning “to act as adversary” occurs. Satan is the great accuser of the saints (see Zech 3 where “Satan was standing there to ‘satanize’ Joshua the priest”; and see Rev 12 which identifies him with the Serpent in Genesis). He came among the angels at this time because he is one of them and has access among them. Even though fallen, Satan has yet to be cast down completely (see Rev 12). also arrived among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”#tn The imperfect may be classified as progressive imperfect; it indicates action that although just completed is regarded as still lasting into the present (GKC 316 §107.h). And Satan answered the Lord,#tn Heb “answered the Lord and said” (also in v. 9). The words “and said” here and in v. 9 have not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons. “From roving about#tn The verb שׁוּט (shut) means “to go or rove about” (BDB 1001-2 s.v.). Here the infinitive construct serves as the object of the preposition. on the earth, and from walking back and forth across it.”#tn The Hitpael (here also an infinitive construct after the preposition) of the verb הָלַךְ (halakh) means “to walk to and fro, back and forth, with the sense of investigating or reconnoitering (see e.g. Gen 13:17).sn As the words are spoken by Satan, there is no self-condemnation in them. What they signify is the swiftness and thoroughness of his investigation of humans. The good angels are said to go to and fro in the earth on behalf of the suffering righteous (Zech 1:10, 11; 6:7), but Satan goes seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet 5:8). 8 So the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered#tn The Hebrew has “have you placed your heart on Job?” This means “direct your mind to” (cf. BDB 963 s.v. I שׂוּם 2.b).sn The question is undoubtedly rhetorical, for it is designed to make Satan aware of Job as God extols his fine qualities. my servant Job? There#tn The Hebrew conjunction כִּי (ki) need not be translated in this case or it might be taken as emphatic (cf. IBHS 665 §39.3.4e): “Certainly there is no one like him.” is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away#tn The same expressions that appeared at the beginning of the chapter appear here in the words of God. In contrast to that narrative report about Job, the emphasis here is on Job’s present character, and so the participle form is translated here asa gnomic or characteristic present (“turns”). It modifies “man” as one who is turning from evil. from evil.”
9 Then Satan answered the Lord, “Is it for nothing that Job fears God?#tn The Hebrew form has the interrogative ה (he) on the adverb חִנָּם (khinnam, “gratis”), a derivative either of the verb חָנַן (khanan, “to be gracious, show favor”), or its related noun חֵן (khen, “grace, favor”). The adverb has the sense of “free; gratis; gratuitously; for nothing; for no reason” (see BDB 336 s.v. חִנָּם). The idea is that Satan does not disagree that Job is pious, but that Job is loyal to God because of what he receives from God. He will test the sincerity of Job. 10 Have you#tn The use of the independent personal pronoun here emphasizes the subject of the verb: “Have you not put up a hedge.” not made a hedge#tn The verb שׂוּךְ (sukh) means “to hedge or fence up, about” something (BDB 962 s.v. I שׂוּךְ). The original idea seems to have been to surround with a wall of thorns for the purpose of protection (E. Dhorme, Job, 7). The verb is an implied comparison between making a hedge and protecting someone. around him and his household and all that he has on every side? You have blessed#sn Here the verb “bless” is used in one of its very common meanings. The verb means “to enrich,” often with the sense of enabling or empowering things for growth or fruitfulness. See further C. Westermann, Blessing in the Bible and the Life of the Church (OBT). the work of his hands, and his livestock#tn Or “substance.” The herds of livestock may be taken by metonymy of part for whole to represent possessions or prosperity in general. have increased#tn The verb פָּרַץ (parats) means “to break through.” It has the sense of abundant increase, as in breaking out, overflowing (see also Gen 30:30 and Exod 1:12). in the land. 11 But#tn The particle אוּלָם (’ulam, “but”) serves to restrict the clause in relation to the preceding clause (IBHS 671-73 §39.3.5e, n. 107). extend your hand and strike#tn The force of the imperatives in this sentence are almost conditional – if God were to do this, then surely Job would respond differently.sn The two imperatives (“stretch out” and “strike”) and the word “hand” all form a bold anthropomorphic sentence. It is as if God would deliver a blow to Job with his fist. But the intended meaning is that God would intervene to destroy Job’s material and physical prosperity. everything he has, and he will no doubt#sn The formula used in the expression is the oath formula: “if not to your face he will curse you” meaning “he will surely curse you to your face.” Satan is so sure that the piety is insincere that he can use an oath formula. curse you#tn See the comments on Job 1:5. Here too the idea of “renounce” may fit well enough; but the idea of actually cursing God may not be out of the picture if everything Job has is removed. Satan thinks he will denounce God. to your face!”
12 So the Lord said to Satan, “All right then,#tn The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “behold”) introduces a foundational clause upon which the following volitional clause is based. everything he has is#tn The versions add a verb here: “delivered to” or “abandoned to” the hand of Satan. in your power.#tn Heb “in your hand.” The idiom means that it is now Satan’s to do with as he pleases. Only do not extend your hand against the man himself!”#tn The Hebrew word order emphatically holds out Job’s person as the exception: “only upon him do not stretch forth your hand.” So Satan went out#tn The Targum to Job adds “with permission” to show that he was granted leave from God’s presence. from the presence of the Lord.#sn So Satan, having received his permission to test Job’s sincerity, goes out from the Lord’s presence. But Satan is bound by the will of the Most High not to touch Job himself. The sentence gives the impression that Satan’s departure is with a certain eagerness and confidence.
Job’s Integrity in Adversity#sn The series of catastrophes and the piety of Job is displayed now in comprehensive terms. Everything that can go wrong goes wrong, and yet Job, the pious servant of Yahweh, continues to worship him in the midst of the rubble. This section, and the next, will lay the foundation for the great dialogues in the book.
13 Now the day#tn The Targum to Job clarifies that it was the first day of the week. The fact that it was in the house of the firstborn is the reason. came when Job’s#tn Heb “his”; the referent (Job) has been specified in the translation for clarity. sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14 and a messenger came to Job, saying, “The oxen were plowing#tn The use of the verb “to be” with the participle gives emphasis to the continuing of the action in the past (GKC 360 §116.r). and the donkeys were grazing beside them, 15 and the Sabeans#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. swooped down#tn The Hebrew is simply “fell” (from נָפַל, nafal). To “fall upon” something in war means to attack quickly and suddenly. and carried them all away, and they killed#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.” the servants with the sword!#tn Heb “the edge/mouth of the sword”; see T. J. Meek, “Archaeology and a Point of Hebrew Syntax,” BASOR 122 (1951): 31-33. And I – only I alone#tn The pleonasms in the verse emphasize the emotional excitement of the messenger. – escaped to tell you!”
16 While this one was still speaking,#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). another messenger arrived#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. and said, “The fire of God#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. has fallen from heaven#tn Or “from the sky.” The Hebrew word שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heaven[s]” or “sky” depending on the context. and has burned up the sheep and the servants – it has consumed them! And I – only I alone – escaped to tell you!”
17 While this one was still speaking another messenger arrived and said, “The Chaldeans#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.” formed three bands and made a raid#tn The verb פָּשַׁט (pashat) means “to hurl themselves” upon something (see Judg 9:33, 41). It was a quick, plundering raid to carry off the camels. on the camels and carried them all away, and they killed the servants with the sword!#tn Heb “with the edge/mouth of the sword.” And I – only I alone – escaped to tell you!”
18 While this one was still speaking another messenger arrived and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and suddenly#tn The use of the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “behold”) in this sentence is deictic, pointing out with excitement the events that happened as if the listener was there. a great wind#sn Both wind and lightning (v. 16) were employed by Satan as his tools. God can permit him such control over factors of the weather when it suits the divine purpose, but God retains ultimate control (see 28:23-27; Prov 3:4; Luke 8:24-25). swept across#tn The word מֵעֵבֶר (me’ever) is simply “from the direction of”; the word עֵבֶר (’ever) indicates the area the whirlwind came across. the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they died! And I – only I alone – escaped to tell you!”
20 Then Job got up#tn The verb וַיָּקָם (vayyaqom, “and he arose”) indicates the intentionality and the rapidity of the actions to follow. It signals the beginning of his response to the terrible news. Therefore, the sentence could be translated, “Then Job immediately began to tear his robe.” and tore his robe.#sn It was the custom to tear the robe in a time of mourning, to indicate that the heart was torn (Joel 2:13). The “garment, mantel” here is the outer garment frequently worn over the basic tunic. See further D. R. Ap-Thomas, “Notes on Some Terms Relating to Prayer,” VT 6 (1956): 220-24. He shaved his head,#sn In mourning one normally put off every adornment that enhanced or embellished the person, including that which nature provided (Jer 7:29; Mic 1:16). and then he threw himself down with his face to the ground.#tn This last verb is the Hishtaphel of the word חָוָה (khavah; BDB 1005 s.v. שָׁחָה); it means “to prostrate oneself, to cause oneself to be low to the ground.” In the OT it is frequently translated “to worship” because that is usually why the individual would kneel down and then put his or her forehead to the ground at the knees. But the word essentially means “to bow down to the ground.” Here “worship” (although employed by several English translations, cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, CEV) conveys more than what is taking place – although Job’s response is certainly worshipful. See G. I. Davies, “A Note on the Etymology of histahawah,” VT 29 (1979): 493-95; and J. A. Emerton, “The Etymology of histahawah,” OTS (1977): 41-55. 21 He said, “Naked#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.” I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there.#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.” The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.#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. May the name of the Lord#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. be blessed!” 22 In all this Job did not sin, nor did he charge God with moral impropriety.#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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