Job 3:1-26

Submitted by admin on Fri, 2014-09-26 12:07.

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In the presence of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar who had not spoken a word to him since their arrival seven days earlier, Job broke the silence. He “opened his mouth and made light of [cursed (LXX)] his day.” The context indicates that this was the day of his birth. (3:1)

What Job “said” is written in poetic style. In the Septuagint, one participle (“saying”) introduces Job’s words. The extant Hebrew text is longer and may be translated, “And Job responded and said.” (3:2)

When cursing the day of his birth, Job wanted it to perish, or to be obliterated so as to be a nonexistent day. The parallel phrase is, “and the night [one] said, A male is conceived!” This could refer to the night when Job was conceived to be born a male child. It is also possible that the day of birth is here being referred to as consisting of day and night. In that case, the phrase about conception applies to the announcement that the child which had been conceived some nine months earlier was a boy. The Septuagint, although not mentioning conception, conveys this meaning (“and the night in which they said, Look, a male!” [literally, a “man”]). (3:3)

Instead of being a day that would dispel the darkness of the night at sunrise, Job wanted the day of his birth to be one of darkness. He desired it to be a day that “God above” would not “seek,” not giving any attention to it. Job wanted no “light to shine” upon that day, leaving it in perpetual blackness. (3:4)

Job wanted “darkness and deep shadow” (“shadow of death” [LXX]), as if acting in the capacity of a redeemer, to claim (“to seize” [LXX]) the day of his birth. His desire was that dark clouds would “dwell” upon it and that it be terrified by the “blackness of day,” or be filled with the terrors that are associated with complete darkness when the light of the sun is eclipsed. With reference to this day, the Septuagint says, “Let darkness come upon it.” (3:5)

In the Hebrew text, the night to which reference is being made was the night of the announcement regarding the conceived male (Job as a baby). Job wanted “thick darkness” to seize that night, causing it to disappear as if swallowed up by the gloom. According to the Septuagint, his desire was for “that day and night” to be cursed, with darkness carrying away the day and night of that day. “Among the days of a year,” Job did not want that day to rejoice and to be numbered among the “months.” No joy like the announcement regarding the birth of a boy was to be associated with that day. It was to be a day without any development that would give rise to gladness and was to be blotted out as a day missing from all the months. According to the Septuagint, that day was to have no existence “among the days of a year” nor was to “be numbered among the days of the months.” (3:6)

For the “night” (the night when the announcement about the conceived male was made) to be barren would mean for it to be without anything of a cheerful nature. The night would be like one that did not even exist. No joyful outcry was then to be heard. Instead of any kind of joy, that night, according to the Septuagint, was to be one of “pain” or “grief,” with no rejoicing nor delight coming upon it. (3:7)

At the time the book of Job was committed to writing and also much earlier, those practicing occult arts were known for uttering curses, casting powerful spells, and invoking the powers of darkness. Job is quoted as wanting those who curse a day and who are skilled in the occult arts so as to be able to rouse up the great monster Leviathan (possibly the crocodile in some contexts) to curse the day of his birth. (3:8)

The Septuagint rendering contains no reference to anything of an occult nature. He who curses that day (the one of Job’s birth) is the one whom Job called upon to curse that “night” (mentioned in verse 7). This one is represented as about to subdue the great “sea monster.” These expressions appear to refer to God as the one who could subdue the monster and utter a curse that was certain to take effect. (3:8)

For the “stars of twilight” to be dark would mean that the stars would not be seen in the night sky. Job wanted the night to which his birth was linked to be without any hope or expectation of light. The night was not to “see” the “eyelids of dawn.” This would signify that the darkness of the night would continue, with the sun not rising to usher in daylight. (3:9)

In the Septuagint, the expressions “stars of twilight” and “eyelids of dawn” are not translated literally. The Greek text expresses Job’s desire for the “stars of that night” to be darkened and thus to remain, with the light of dawn never coming. Job did not want that night to see the rising of the morning star (the planet Venus). (3:9)

The reference to “my womb” in the Hebrew text applies to the womb of Job’s mother where his life began. In the Septuagint, it is specifically called the “womb of my mother.” If the “doors” of the womb from which he came forth as a baby had closed, Job would not have been born. In view of his pain and great distress, he felt that it would have been better for him if he had never lived. He would then not have experienced affliction or trouble. This trouble would have been hidden from his eyes, never to be seen. Both in the Hebrew text and the Greek text of the Septuagint, the third person singular verbs could refer to God as the one who did not shut the doors of the womb and did not hide trouble from Job’s eyes. It is also possible to regard the night as being personified and represented as the agent that did not take this action. (3:10)

On account of his great suffering, Job asked why he had not died at birth and why he had come forth from the womb and then not expired (“immediately perished” [LXX]). (3:11)

Upon his mother’s knees, Job had been held as a baby, and he suckled the breasts of his mother. As a man enduring affliction, he could not understand why he had thus “met knees” and suckled breasts. (3:12)

If he had died at birth and not been cared for as a baby, Job would already have been able to lie down in the realm of the dead and been “quiet” or without any disturbance from troubles or afflictions of any kind. He would then have been asleep in death and experienced rest. (3:13)

In the realm of the dead, Job would have joined “kings and counselors of the earth [or land]” or those who advised rulers. These kings and counselors are said to have built “ruins” for themselves. This may refer to their having built impressive tombs or desolate places, for there is no life in them. The Septuagint rendering does not express this thought but appears to represent “kings, counselors of the earth,” to have been proud of their swords (literally, “upon swords”). This rendering may have arisen because the consonants of the Hebrew word for “sword” and “desolation” are the same. (3:14)

Among the dead, Job would have been with “princes” or “rulers” (LXX) who had “gold” (“much gold” [LXX]). These princes or rulers had also filled “their houses with silver.” Possibly this is an allusion to their having been buried with treasures. (3:15)

Job wondered why he could not have been like a hidden miscarriage (an “untimely birth coming forth from a mother’s womb” [LXX]) or like infants that have never seen the “light” of life or of day. He would then have been spared the misery he was experiencing. (3:16)

In the realm of the dead, the wicked have ceased from raging or stirring up trouble for others. The Septuagint rendering appears to mean that the “impious” have “burned out” the “fury of [their] wrath” there. This could indicate that wrath could no longer be expressed, for whatever fueled it had been totally consumed. Among the dead, those “weary in strength,” or persons drained of their vitality from laboring, are at rest. The Septuagint refers to the “resting” as being for those weary in body. (3:17)

“Bound ones,” captives, or prisoners are at ease or undisturbed in the realm of the dead. They do not “hear” the voice of a taskmaster who drives them to perform hard labor. The Septuagint does not contain a corresponding expression for “bound ones” but uses the plural form of the Greek word aiónios and could refer to “ancients” or “those of old.” In conjunction with the adverb “together,” the meaning of the first phrase may be, “The ancients [are] together” in the realm of the dead. Then the verse concludes with the words, “They have not heard the voice of tribute collectors.” (3:18)

In the realm of the dead, the “small” or insignificant persons and the “great” or prominent individuals are found. No longer does any distinction exist there. A “slave” is “free from his master” who can no longer utter commands. According to Rahlfs’ printed Greek text of the Septuagint, there, in the realm of the dead, a “servant is not fearing his master.” (3:19)

Job could not understand why “light” (the “light of life”) has been given to one whose existence is filled with misery (“to those in bitterness” [LXX]) and why life has been granted to persons bitter of soul (individuals whose life is made bitter by having to bear great hardships and affliction or, according to the Septuagint, souls or persons in pains). (3:20)

Job observed that those who suffer greatly wait for or long for death, but it does not come. They so very much desire relief from their misery that he likened their yearning for death to their digging for it more than for hidden treasures. (3:21)

On account of the relief death brings, Job is quoted as saying that those who find the grave “rejoice with joy” or rejoice exceedingly and exult. According to the Septuagint, those who long for death would be overjoyed if they could succeed in attaining it. (3:22)

A man whose way is “hidden” would be in a state of confusion when confronted with obstacles, hardships, and troubles. He would not know which way to turn or what course to pursue, leaving him without any avenue of escape from his distressing circumstances. Such a man is designated as one whom God has “hedged in,” making it impossible for him to be liberated from his misery. His freedom of movement is blocked. Job could not understand why this one would be given life to have such a miserable existence. (3:23)

The Septuagint does not mention the hiding of the way, but it says that death is the “rest” for a man, apparently for a seriously afflicted man. Death would bring relief because God has completely locked the man in, depriving him of freedom of movement and leaving him no way out of his distressing state. (3:23)

For Job in his afflicted condition, there was nothing to brighten his day. Before partaking of “bread” or food, he was already groaning, possibly because it was painful for him to eat. His distressing outcries “poured out like water.” According to the Septuagint, he wept, being held fast or paralyzed by fear. (3:24)

The “fear” which Job “feared” is the very fear that came upon him, and what he dreaded befell him. Possibly, even while he enjoyed a prosperous state, he feared that it might not last, that future calamities might end it. Some evidence to this effect may be his great concern about the possibility that his sons might have expressed something improper in their hearts with reference to God and his feeling the need to offer sacrifices for them. (1:5) Another possible significance may be that, once he heard the report about the first calamity, he became filled with apprehension that other calamities might follow. (3:25)

Job is portrayed as being in a troubled and anxious state — not at peace or not undisturbed, not quiet or calm, and not at rest. While in this condition of inner turmoil, “quaking” (as when gripped by fear) or “wrath” (LXX) came to him. For Job, things progressively became worse, and no relief was in sight. (3:26)