1:13 Now the day 2 came when Job’s 3 sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 1:14 and a messenger came to Job, saying, “The oxen were plowing 4 and the donkeys were grazing beside them, 1:15 and the Sabeans 5 swooped down 6 and carried them all away, and they killed 7 the servants with the sword! 8 And I – only I alone 9 – escaped to tell you!”
1:16 While this one was still speaking, 10 another messenger arrived 11 and said, “The fire of God 12 has fallen from heaven 13 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 14 formed three bands and made a raid 15 on the camels and carried them all away, and they killed the servants with the sword! 16 And I – only I alone – escaped to tell you!”
1:18 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, 1:19 and suddenly 17 a great wind 18 swept across 19 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!”
1:20 Then Job got up 20 and tore his robe. 21 He shaved his head, 22 and then he threw himself down with his face to the ground. 23 1:21 He said, “Naked 24 I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. 25 The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. 26 May the name of the Lord 27 be blessed!” 1:22 In all this Job did not sin, nor did he charge God with moral impropriety. 28
[1:13] 1 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.
[1:15] 5 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).
[1:15] 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.
[1:16] 11 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.
[1:16] 12 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.
[1:17] 14 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.”
[1:19] 18 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).
[1:20] 20 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.”
[1:20] 21 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.
[1:20] 23 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.
[1:21] 24 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.”
[1:21] 25 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.”
[1:21] 26 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.
[1:21] 27 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.
[1:22] 28 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.