II. Job’s Dialogue With His Friends
and the night that said, 8
let not God on high regard 13 it,
nor let light shine 14 on it!
3:5 Let darkness and the deepest
let a cloud settle on it;
let whatever blackens the day 17 terrify it!
let it not be included 19 among the days of the year;
let it not enter among the number of the months! 20
nor let it see the first rays 32 of dawn,
nor did it hide trouble 36 from my eyes!
and why did I not expire
as 41 I came out of the womb?
that I might nurse at them? 45
I would be asleep and then at peace 49
3:14 with kings and counselors of the earth
who built for themselves places now desolate, 50
who filled their palaces 52 with silver.
like a stillborn infant, 56
and there the weary 63 are at rest.
they do not hear the voice of the oppressor. 68
and life to those 76 whose soul is bitter,
and search for it 80
more than for hidden treasures,
whose way is hidden, 88
and whom God has hedged in? 89
and what I feared has come upon me. 96
[3:1] 2 sn The detailed introduction to the speech with “he opened his mouth” draws the readers attention to what was going to be said. As the introduction to the poetic speech that follows (3:3-26), vv. 1-2 continue the prose style of chapters 1-2. Each of the subsequent speeches is introduced by such a prose heading.
[3:1] 3 tn The verb “cursed” is the Piel preterite from the verb קָלַל (qalal); this means “to be light” in the Qal stem, but here “to treat lightly, with contempt, curse.” See in general H. C. Brichto, The Problem of “Curse” in the Hebrew Bible (JBLMS); and A. C. Thiselton, “The Supposed Power of Words in the Biblical Writings,” JTS 25 (1974): 283-99.
[3:1] 4 tn Heb “his day” (so KJV, ASV, NAB). The Syriac has “the day on which he was born.” The context makes it clear that Job meant the day of his birth. But some have tried to offer a different interpretation, such as his destiny or his predicament. For this reason the Syriac clarified the meaning for their readers in much the same way as the present translation does by rendering “his day” as “the day he was born.” On the Syriac translation of the book of Job, see Heidi M. Szpek, Translation Technique in the Peshitta to Job (SBLDS).
[3:2] 5 tn The text has וַיַּעַן (vayya’an), literally, “and he answered.” The LXX simply has “saying” for the entire verse. The Syriac, Targum, and Greek A have what the MT has. “[Someone] answered and said” is phraseology characteristic of all the speeches in Job beginning with Satan in 1:9. Only in 40:1 is it employed when God is speaking. No other portion of the OT employs this phraseology as often or as consistently.
[3:3] 7 tn The verb is the Niphal imperfect. It may be interpreted in this dependent clause (1) as representing a future event from some point of time in the past – “the day on which I was born” or “would be born” (see GKC 316 §107.k). Or (2) it may simply serve as a preterite indicating action that is in the past.
[3:3] 8 tn The MT simply has “and the night – it said….” By simple juxtaposition with the parallel construction (“on which I was born”) the verb “it said” must be a relative clause explaining “the night.” Rather than supply “in which” and make the verb passive (which is possible since no specific subject is provided, but leaves open the question of who said it), it is preferable to take the verse as a personification. First Job cursed the day; now he cursed the night that spoke about what it witnessed. See A. Ehrman, “A Note on the Verb ‘amar,” JQR 55 (1964/65): 166-67.
[3:3] 9 tn The word is גֶּבֶר (gever, “a man”). The word usually distinguishes a man as strong, distinct from children and women. Translations which render this as “boy” (to remove the apparent contradiction of an adult being “conceived” in the womb) miss this point.
[3:3] 10 sn The announcement at birth is to the fact that a male was conceived. The same parallelism between “brought forth/born” and “conceived” may be found in Ps 51:7 HT (51:5 ET). The motifs of the night of conception and the day of birth will be developed by Job. For the entire verse, which is more a wish or malediction than a curse, see S. H. Blank, “‘Perish the Day!’ A Misdirected Curse (Job 3:3),” Prophetic Thought, 61-63.
[3:4] 12 sn This expression by Job is the negation of the divine decree at creation – “Let there be light,” and that was the first day. Job wishes that his first day be darkness: “As for that day, let there be darkness.” Since only God has this prerogative, Job adds the wish that God on high would not regard that day.
[3:4] 13 tn The verb דָּרַשׁ (darash) means “to seek, inquire,” and “to address someone, be concerned about something” (cf. Deut 11:12; Jer 30:14,17). Job wants the day to perish from the mind of God.
[3:4] 14 tn The verb is the Hiphil of יָפַע (yafa’), which means here “cause to shine.” The subject is the term נְהָרָה (nÿharah,“light”), a hapax legomenon which is from the verb נָהַר (nahar, “to gleam” [see Isa 60:5]).
[3:5] 15 sn The translation of צַלְמָוֶת (tsalmavet, “shadow of death”) has been traditionally understood to indicate a dark, death shadow (supported in the LXX), but many scholars think it may not represent the best etymological analysis of the word. The word may be connected to an Arabic word which means “to be dark,” and an Akkadian word meaning “black.” It would then have to be repointed throughout its uses to צַלְמוּת (tsalmut) forming an abstract ending. It would then simply mean “darkness” rather than “shadow of death.” Or the word can be understood as an idiomatic expression meaning “gloom” that is deeper than חֹשֶׁךְ (khoshekh; see HALOT 1029 s.v. צַלְמָוֶת). Since “darkness” has already been used in the line, the two together could possibly form a nominal hendiadys: “Let the deepest darkness….” There is a significant amount of literature on this; one may begin with W. L. Michel, “SLMWT, ‘Deep Darkness’ or ‘Shadow of Death’?” BR 29 (1984): 5-20.
[3:5] 16 tn The verb is גָּאַל (ga’al, “redeem, claim”). Some have suggested that the verb is actually the homonym “pollute.” This is the reading in the Targum, Syriac, Vulgate, and Rashi, who quotes from Mal 1:7,12. See A. R. Johnson, “The Primary Meaning of ga’al,” VTSup 1 (1953): 67-77.
[3:5] 17 tn The expression “the blackness of the day” (כִּמְרִירֵי יוֹם, kimrire yom) probably means everything that makes the day black, such as supernatural events like eclipses. Job wishes that all ominous darknesses would terrify that day. It comes from the word כָּמַר (kamar, “to be black”), related to Akkadian kamaru (“to overshadow, darken”). The versions seem to have ignored the first letter and connected the word to מָרַר (marar, “be bitter”).
[3:6] 19 tn The pointing of the verb is meant to connect it with the root חָדָה (khadah, “rejoice”). But the letters in the text were correctly understood by the versions to be from יָחַד (yakhad, “to be combined, added”). See G. Rendsburg, “Double Polysemy in Genesis 49:6 and Job 3:6,” CBQ 44 (1982): 48-51.
[3:6] 20 sn The choice of this word for “moons,” יְרָחִים (yÿrakhim) instead of חֳדָשִׁים (khodashim) is due to the fact that “month” here is not a reference for which an exact calendar date is essential (in which case חֹדֶשׁ [khodesh] would have been preferred). See J. Segal, “‘yrh’ in the Gezer ‘Calendar,’” JSS 7 (1962): 220, n. 4. Twelve times in the OT יֶרַח (yerakh) means “month” (Exod 2:2; Deut 21:13; 33:14; 1 Kgs 6:37, 38; 8:2; 2 Kgs 15:13; Zech 11:8; Job 3:6; 7:3; 29:2; 39:2).
[3:7] 22 tn The word גַּלְמוּד (galmud) probably has here the idea of “barren” rather than “solitary.” See the parallelism in Isa 49:21. In Job it seems to carry the idea of “barren” in 15:34, and “gloomy” in 30:3. Barrenness can lead to gloom.
[3:8] 25 tn Not everyone is satisfied with the reading of the MT. Gordis thought “day” should be “sea,” and “cursers” should be “rousers” (changing ’alef to ’ayin; cf. NRSV). This is an unnecessary change, for there is no textual problem in the line (D. J. A. Clines, Job [WBC], 71). Others have taken the reading “sea” as a personification and accepted the rest of the text, gaining the sense of “those whose magic binds even the sea monster of the deep” (e.g., NEB).
[3:8] sn Those who curse the day are probably the professional enchanters and magicians who were thought to cast spells on days and overwhelm them with darkness and misfortune. The myths explained eclipses as the dragon throwing its folds around the sun and the moon, thus engulfing or swallowing the day and the night. This interpretation matches the parallelism better than the interpretation that says these are merely professional mourners.
[3:8] 26 tn The verb is probably “execrate, curse,” from קָבַב (qavav). But E. Ullendorff took it from נָקַב (naqav, “pierce”) and gained a reading “Let the light rays of day pierce it (i.e. the night) apt even to rouse Leviathan” (“Job 3:8,” VT 11 : 350-51).
[3:8] 27 tn The verbal adjective עָתִיד (’atid) means “ready, prepared.” Here it has a substantival use similar to that of participles. It is followed by the Polel infinitive construct עֹרֵר (’orer). The infinitive without the preposition serves as the object of the preceding verbal adjective (GKC 350 §114.m).
[3:8] 28 sn Job employs here the mythological figure Leviathan, the monster of the deep or chaos. Job wishes that such a creation of chaos could be summoned by the mourners to swallow up that day. See E. Ullendorff, “Job 3:8,” VT 11 (1961): 350-51.
[3:9] 29 tn Heb “the stars of its dawn.” The word נֶשֶׁף (neshef) can mean “twilight” or “dawn.” In this context the morning stars are in mind. Job wishes that the morning stars – that should announce the day – go out.
[3:9] 32 sn The expression is literally “the eyelids of the morning.” This means the very first rays of dawn (see also Job 41:18). There is some debate whether it refers to “eyelids” or “eyelashes” or “eyeballs.” If the latter, it would signify the flashing eyes of a person. See for the Ugaritic background H. L. Ginsberg, The Legend of King Keret (BASORSup), 39; see also J. M. Steadman, “‘Eyelids of Morn’: A Biblical Convention,” HTR 56 (1963): 159-67.
[3:10] 35 tn The Hebrew has simply “my belly [= womb].” The suffix on the noun must be objective – it was the womb of Job’s mother in which he lay before his birth. See however N. C. Habel, “The Dative Suffix in Job 33:13,” Bib 63 (1982): 258-59, who thinks it is deliberately ambiguous.
[3:11] 37 sn Job follows his initial cry with a series of rhetorical questions. His argument runs along these lines: since he was born (v. 10), the next chance he had of escaping this life of misery would have been to be still born (vv. 11-12, 16). In vv. 13-19 Job considers death as falling into a peaceful sleep in a place where there is no trouble. The high frequency of rhetorical questions in series is a characteristic of the Book of Job that sets it off from all other portions of the OT. The effect is primarily dramatic, creating a tension that requires resolution. See W. Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry, 340-41.
[3:11] 39 tn The two verbs in this verse are both prefix conjugations; they are clearly referring to the past and should be classified as preterites. E. Dhorme (Job, 32) notes that the verb “I came out” is in the perfect to mark its priority in time in relation to the other verbs.
[3:11] 40 tn The translation “at birth” is very smooth, but catches the meaning and avoids the tautology in the verse. The line literally reads “from the womb.” The second half of the verse has the verb “I came out/forth” which does double duty for both parallel lines. The second half uses “belly” for the womb.
[3:12] 42 tn The verb קִדְּמוּנִי (qiddÿmuni) is the Piel from קָדַם (qadam), meaning “to come before; to meet; to prevent.” Here it has the idea of going to meet or welcome someone. In spite of various attempts to connect the idea to the father or to adoption rites, it probably simply means the mother’s knees that welcome the child for nursing. See R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 42.
[3:12] sn The sufferer is looking back over all the possible chances of death, including when he was brought forth, placed on the knees or lap, and breastfed.
[3:12] 44 sn The commentaries mention the parallel construction in the writings of Ashurbanipal: “You were weak, Ashurbanipal, you who sat on the knees of the goddess, queen of Nineveh; of the four teats that were placed near to your mouth, you sucked two and you hid your face in the others” (M. Streck, Assurbanipal [VAB], 348).
[3:13] 46 tn The word עַתָּה (’attah, “now”) may have a logical nuance here, almost with the idea of “if that had been the case…” (IBHS 667-68 §39.3.4f). However, the temporal “now” is retained in translation since the imperfect verb following two perfects “suggests what Job’s present state would be if he had had the quiet of a still birth” (J. E. Hartley, Job [NICOT], 95, n. 23). Cf. GKC 313 §106.p.
[3:13] 48 tn The text uses a combination of the perfect (lie down/sleep) and imperfect (quiet/rest). The particle עַתָּה (’attah, “now”) gives to the perfect verb its conditional nuance. It presents actions in the past that are not actually accomplished but seen as possible (GKC 313 §106.p).
[3:14] 50 tn The difficult term חֳרָבוֹת (khoravot) is translated “desolate [places]”. The LXX confused the word and translated it “who gloried in their swords.” One would expect a word for monuments, or tombs (T. K. Cheyne emended it to “everlasting tombs” [“More Critical Gleanings in Job,” ExpTim 10 (1898/99): 380-83]). But this difficult word is of uncertain etymology and therefore cannot simply be made to mean “royal tombs.” The verb means “be desolate, solitary.” In Isa 48:21 there is the clear sense of a desert. That is the meaning of Assyrian huribtu. It may be that like the pyramids of Egypt these tombs would have been built in the desert regions. Or it may describe how they rebuilt ruins for themselves. He would be saying then that instead of lying here in pain and shame if he had died he would be with the great ones of the earth. Otherwise, the word could be interpreted as a metonymy of effect, indicating that the once glorious tomb now is desolate. But this does not fit the context – the verse is talking about the state of the great ones after their death.
[3:15] 52 tn Heb “filled their houses.” There is no reason here to take “houses” to mean tombs; the “houses” refer to the places the princes lived (i.e., palaces). The reference is not to the practice of burying treasures with the dead. It is simply saying that if Job had died he would have been with the rich and famous in death.
[3:16] 56 tn The noun נֵפֶל (nefel, “miscarriage”) is the abortive thing that falls (hence the verb) from the womb before the time is ripe (Ps 58:9). The idiom using the verb “to fall” from the womb means to come into the world (Isa 26:18). The epithet טָמוּן (tamun, “hidden”) is appropriate to the verse. The child comes in vain, and disappears into the darkness – it is hidden forever.
[3:17] 59 sn The reference seems to be death, or Sheol, the place where the infant who is stillborn is either buried (the grave) or resides (the place of departed spirits) and thus does not see the light of the sun.
[3:17] 61 tn The parallelism uses the perfect verb in the first parallel part, and the imperfect opposite it in the second. Since the verse projects to the grave or Sheol (“there”) where the action is perceived as still continuing or just taking place, both receive an English present tense translation (GKC 312 §106.l).
[3:17] 62 tn Here the noun רֹגז (rogez) refers to the agitation of living as opposed to the peaceful rest of dying. The associated verb רָגַז (ragaz) means “to be agitated, excited.” The expression indicates that they cease from troubling, meaning all the agitation of their own lives.
[3:18] 66 tn The verb שַׁאֲנָנוּ (sha’ananu) is the Pilpel of שָׁאַן (sha’an) which means “to rest.” It refers to the normal rest or refreshment of individuals; here it is contrasted with the harsh treatment normally put on prisoners.
[3:19] 69 tn The versions have taken the pronoun in the sense of the verb “to be.” Others give it the sense of “the same thing,” rendering the verse as “small and great, there is no difference there.” GKC 437 §135.a, n. 1, follows this idea with a meaning of “the same.”
[3:19] 70 tn The LXX renders this as “unafraid,” although the negative has disappeared in some
[3:20] 72 sn Since he has survived birth, Job wonders why he could not have died a premature death. He wonders why God gives light and life to those who are in misery. His own condition throws gloom over life, and so he poses the question first generally, for many would prefer death to misery (20-22); then he comes to the individual, himself, who would prefer death (23). He closes his initial complaint with some depictions of his suffering that afflicts him and gives him no rest (24-26).
[3:20] 74 tn The verb is the simple imperfect, expressing the progressive imperfect nuance. But there is no formal subject to the verb, prompting some translations to make it passive in view of the indefinite subject (so, e.g., NAB, NIV, NRSV). Such a passive could be taken as a so-called “divine passive” by which God is the implied agent. Job clearly means God here, but he stops short of naming him (see also the note on “God” earlier in this verse).
[3:20] sn In vv. 11, 12, and 16 there was the first series of questions in which Job himself was in question. Now the questions are more general for all mankind – why should the sufferers in general have been afflicted with life?
[3:20] 76 tn The second colon now refers to people in general because of the plural construct מָרֵי נָפֶשׁ (mare nafesh, “those bitter of soul/life”). One may recall the use of מָרָה (marah, “bitter”) by Naomi to describe her pained experience as a poor widow in Ruth 1:20, or the use of the word to describe the bitter oppression inflicted on Israel by the Egyptians (Exod 1:14). Those who are “bitter of soul” are those whose life is overwhelmed with painful experiences and suffering.
[3:21] 78 tn The verb is the Piel participle of חָכָה (khakhah, “to wait for” someone; Yahweh is the object in Isa 8:17; 64:3; Ps 33:20). Here death is the supreme hope of the miserable and the suffering.
[3:21] 79 tn The verse simply has the form אֵין (’en, “there is not”) with a pronominal suffix and a conjunction – “and there is not it” or “and it is not.” The LXX and the Vulgate add a verb to explain this form: “and obtain it not.”
[3:21] sn The verb חָפַר (khafar) means “to dig; to excavate.” It may have the accusative of the thing that is being sought (Exod 7:24); but here it is followed by a comparative min (מִן). The verse therefore describes the sufferers who excavate or dig the ground to find death, more than others who seek for treasure.
[3:22] 82 tn The Syriac has “and gather themselves together,” possibly reading גִּיל (gil, “rejoicing”) as גַּל (gal, “heap”). Some have tried to emend the text to make the word mean “heap” or “mound,” as in a funerary mound. While one could argue for a heap of stones as a funerary mound, the passage has already spoken of digging a grave, which would be quite different. And while such a change would make a neater parallelism in the verse, there is no reason to force such; the idea of “jubilation” fits the tenor of the whole verse easily enough and there is no reason to change it. A similar expression is found in Hos 9:1, which says, “rejoice not, O Israel, with jubilation.” Here the idea then is that these sufferers would rejoice “to the point of jubilation” at death.
[3:23] 86 tn This first part of the verse, “Why is light given,” is supplied from the context. In the Hebrew text the verse simply begins with “to a man….” It is also in apposition to the construction in v. 20. But after so many qualifying clauses and phrases, a restatement of the subject (light, from v. 20) is required.
[3:23] 87 sn After speaking of people in general (in the plural in vv. 21 and 22), Job returns to himself specifically (in the singular, using the same word גֶּבֶר [gever, “a man”] that he employed of himself in v. 3). He is the man whose way is hidden. The clear path of his former life has been broken off, or as the next clause says, hedged in so that he is confined to a life of suffering. The statement includes the spiritual perplexities that this involves. It is like saying that God is leading him in darkness and he can no longer see where he is going.
[3:23] 88 tn The LXX translated “to a man whose way is hidden” with the vague paraphrase “death is rest to [such] a man.” The translators apparently combined the reference to “the grave” in the previous verse with “hidden”
[3:23] 89 tn The verb is the Hiphil of סָכַךְ (sakhakh,“to hedge in”). The key parallel passage is Job 19:8, which says, “He has blocked [גָּדַר, gadar] my way so I cannot pass, and has set darkness over my paths.” To be hedged in is an implied metaphor, indicating that the pathway is concealed and enclosed. There is an irony in Job’s choice of words in light of Satan’s accusation in 1:10. It is heightened further when the same verb is employed by God in 38:8 (see F. I. Andersen, Job [TOTC], 109).
[3:24] 90 tn For the prepositional לִפְנֵי (lifne), the temporal meaning “before” (“my sighing comes before I eat”) makes very little sense here (as the versions have it). The meaning “in place of, for” fits better (see 1 Sam 1:16, “count not your handmaid for a daughter of Belial”).
[3:24] 91 sn The line means that Job’s sighing, which results from the suffering (metonymy of effect) is his constant, daily food. Parallels like Ps 42:3 which says “my tears have been my bread/food” shows a similar figure.
[3:24] 93 tn This second colon is paraphrased in the LXX to say, “I weep being beset with terror.” The idea of “pouring forth water” while groaning can be represented by “I weep.” The word “fear, terror” anticipates the next verse.
[3:25] 94 tn The construction uses the cognate accusative with the verb: “the fear I feared,” or “the dread thing I dreaded” (פַחַד פָּחַדְתִּי, pakhad pakhadti). The verb פָּחַד (pakhad) has the sense of “dread” and the noun the meaning “thing dreaded.” The structure of the sentence with the perfect verb followed by the preterite indicates that the first action preceded the second – he feared something but then it happened. Some commentaries suggest reading this as a conditional clause followed by the present tense translation: “If I fear a thing it happens to me” (see A. B. Davidson, Job, 24). The reason for this change is that it is hard for some to think that in his prime Job had such fears. He did have a pure trust and confidence in the
[3:25] 96 tn The final verb is יָבֹא (yavo’, “has come”). It appears to be an imperfect, but since it is parallel to the preterite of the first colon it should be given that nuance here. Of course, if the other view of the verse is taken, then this would simply be translated as “comes,” and the preceding preterite also given an English present tense translation.
[3:26] 98 tn The verb is literally “and I do/can not rest.” A potential perfect nuance fits this passage well. The word נוּחַ (nuakh, “rest”) implies “rest” in every sense, especially in contrast to רֹגֶז (rogez, “turmoil, agitation” [vv. 26 and 17]).