Job 6:1-30

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Eliphaz placed the blame on Job himself for the suffering he was experiencing. Job responded with the words that follow. (6:1)

Job wished that his grief (ká‘as) would be weighed and his disaster or calamity be placed on balances altogether. The Hebrew word ká‘as can also denote “anger.” This is the sense conveyed in the Septuagint, where the reference is to Job’s desire that someone weigh his “anger,” which could mean weighing the anger that had been directed against Job. In the context, “grief” or “vexation” appears to be a more fitting rendering for the Hebrew word ká‘as. Job wanted everything he had suffered to be calculated as if it were being weighed on scales in its entirety. (6:2)

In the estimation of Job, the sum of what he had endured, if it had been “weighed” or calculated, would be “heavier than the sand of the seas” (the “seashore” or “coast” [LXX]). The Hebrew expression “sand of the seas,” as indicated in the Septuagint, probably refers to the sand along the shores of the seas. This sand is abundant and of incalculably great weight. Job felt that this represented the oppressive weight that he had to bear on account of the combined calamities that had befallen him. As a result, he expressed himself in words that could be termed “wild” or “frenzied.” According to the Septuagint, Job said that it appeared to him that his words were “worthless.” This could mean that his words meant nothing. No one gave them any consideration, and God was not listening to him but continued to afflict him. (6:3)

Job likened his great suffering to the effect of “arrows” that the Almighty had shot into him. According to the Septuagint, the “arrows of the Lord” were in his “body.” Job’s “spirit,” or he in his inmost self, drank or partook of the “poison” of these arrows, indicating that his pain was intense. The Septuagint represents the “fury” of the arrows as drinking his blood. This could signify that Job sensed that his strength was being diminished progressively. The Hebrew text concludes with the thought that the “terrors of God” had been set against him. Job perceived that the most frightful things had befallen him. In the Septuagint, the verse concludes with the words, “When I start to speak, they [the arrows] pierce me.” This suggests that it was very painful for Job to speak. (6:4)

The rhetorical questions that Job raised indicate that he had good reason to express himself as he did. Regarding a wild ass or onager and a bovine, the implied answers would be, A wild ass does not bray when it has abundant grass on which to feed, and a bovine does not low when it has fodder. (6:5; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

The next rhetorical questions indicate that there is a reason for doing certain things. “Will [something] tasteless be eaten without salt?” The implied answer is, No. In the Septuagint, the noun designating the tasteless item is ártos, meaning “bread” or “food.” So the question probably relates to whether food is eaten without being seasoned with salt. (6:6)

In the Hebrew text, the item that (according to the implied answer of the rhetorical question) does not have any taste is called the “slime” or “juice” of challamúth. Conjectural meanings for challamúth are the white of an egg or the edible parts of either alkanet (Anchusa officinalis) or marshmallow (Althaea officinalis). The words in the Septuagint could be translated, “And also is [there] taste in empty words [plural of rhéma]?” In this context, the plural form of the Greek noun rhéma may mean “things” (not “words”). Therefore, the reference could be to “empty things” or food items that have no flavor. (6:6)

Job is quoted as saying that his “soul refuses to touch.” This could mean that he himself refused to do so. Based on the previous verse, the implied object for the verb “touch” apparently is food. The Septuagint rendering is not as ambiguous as the Hebrew text but conveys an entirely different significance. “For my soul is not able to cease,” become calm, or be silent. This suggests that Job himself would not be calm or quiet. (6:7)

The elliptical concluding phrase of the Hebrew text may mean that the foods Job did not touch were “like disease in his nourishment” or were sickening to him. Wording in the Septuagint provides no insight regarding the significance of the Hebrew text. The Septuagint says, “For as groaning I see my foods like the odor of lions.” Perhaps the thought is that the groaning resulted from the sickening feeling Job had about his food, with his aversion to it being like the stench of lions to him. (6:7)

Job’s longing was that his “request might come,” meaning either that the request he had directed to God might come before him or that it would be fulfilled. He wanted God to grant him his hope. This hope, as the next verse indicates, was for his life to end so that he would no longer suffer. (6:8)

Job wished that God would be willing to “crush” him, ceasing to direct his hand against him to make him suffer and, instead, cutting him off or ending his life. The Septuagint rendering appears to represent God as having begun to act, and Job is quoted as saying, “Let the Lord, having begun, wound me, but let him not kill me in the end.” (6:9)

Even though he had experienced anguish and God had not spared him in this, Job’s comfort and the reason for him to “leap” (apparently for joy) was that he had not “disowned” (literally, “hidden”) the “words of the Holy One” (as if hiding the words of God from sight so as to disregard them). This is a possible way to understand the wording of the Hebrew text, but the Septuagint rendering is different. Job wanted his “city,” upon the walls of which he had leaped, to be his “grave.” He would not “spare,” possibly meaning that he would not spare himself from facing death. This was because he had not “lied” regarding the “holy sayings of [his] God.” (6:10; see the Notes section for another possible meaning of the Hebrew text.)

It appears that Job believed that his strength was giving out under the weight of his great distress. This seems to be the reason for the rhetorical questions. “What [is] my strength, that I should wait [for relief]” or, according to the rendering of the Septuagint, “endure”? “What [is] my end, that my soul should be patient [literally, I should prolong my soul]?” In the Septuagint, the question is, “What is my time [the time allotted to me to live], that my soul [I myself] should hold up?” (6:11)

Apparently Job felt that he could not endure much longer. This prompted him to ask whether his strength was that of hard “stones” or whether his flesh was “copper” or “bronze,” not weak but very strong. (6:12)

Job did not have the unyielding property of stones nor the strength of copper or bronze. He regarded himself as weak or as one who had “no help” in himself. The capacity for success or wisdom in dealing with his circumstances had been “driven” from him. According to the Septuagint, Job raised the question, “Have I not relied on him?” Though he had trusted in God, Job said, “But help is far from me.” The aid he expected did not come. (6:13)

A friend or companion should respond with kindness or compassion to his associate who is suffering. The Hebrew text could be understood to mean that this should be the case even if the afflicted one had forsaken the “fear” of, or reverential regard for, the Almighty. Another significance would be that a friend who did not respond compassionately to his distressed companion would be a person who has forsaken a proper fear of God. Both meanings are found in translations. “A friend owes kindness to one in despair, though he have forsaken the fear of the Almighty.” (NAB) “A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” (NIV) “Those who withhold kindness from a friend forsake the fear of the Almighty.” (NRSV) “Refuse faithful love to your neighbour and you forsake the fear of Shaddai.” (NJB) The Septuagint rendering represents Job as saying that “mercy” had disowned him, for he had ceased to be an object of compassion. As far as “oversight [or visitation] of the Lord,” Job felt that this had overlooked him. He had been disregarded or neglected. (6:14)

Referring to his three companions as “brothers” or close associates, Job said that they did not act as such. They had not responded with compassion like friends. Therefore, he likened them to a “deceitful” torrent, one that could not be depended upon for water throughout the year. They were like a “channel of torrents” that “passed away” or through which water ceased to flow during the dry season of summer. According to the Septuagint, Job’s nearest kin had not looked at him or given any attention to him. They passed by him like a winter torrent that dries up in the summer or “like a wave.” Job was completely ignored. (6:15)

Possibly the torrents are described as being “dark with ice” when the ice begins to melt. In that case, the reference to the snow hiding above the torrents could mean that it melts as if hiding itself in the rising water of the streams. Translations vary in their interpretive renderings when describing the torrents as “darkened by thawing ice and swollen with melting snow” (NIV), “run dark with ice, turbid with melting snow” (NRSV), “black with ice, and with snow heaped upon them” (NAB), “choked with snow and ice” (GNT, Second Edition), and “made dark by melting ice and rise with melting snow” (NCV). The Septuagint indicates that persons who formerly respected Job fell upon him “like snow” or like “compacted ice.” They had a chilling effect on him, bringing him no comfort. (6:16)

During the summer season, water stops coursing through the streambeds. When it gets hot, the torrents dry up “from their place” — the channels through which they flow. The Septuagint indicates that after it has melted and the hot season comes, the ice would not be recognized for what it had been. (6:17)

Job is quoted as mentioning a turning aside in relation to the “paths of their ways.” This probably means that travelers or caravans departed from the usual route to locate needed water. They came to an area that was empty or a waste because the streams had dried up, and they then perished. The Septuagint conveys a different meaning. After referring to the melted ice that was no longer recognizable as what it had been, Job likened this to what had happened to him. He had been forsaken by everyone, “perished” or been reduced to ruin, and become homeless. (6:18)

A literal reading of the Hebrew text is elliptical. “The ways of Tema look; the travelers of Sheba are waiting [or hoping] for them.” A common view is that the expression “ways of Tema” designates the caravans from Tema, a region in Edomite territory. Their “looking” could refer to searching for streams that had not dried up. Travelers from Sheba could be understood as hoping to find the streambeds that still had water flowing through them. The Septuagint rendering represents Job as telling Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar to look at the “roads of the Thaimanites [Temanites] and the byways of the Sabeans.” He referred to these three associates as men who could “distinguish” or discern clearly. As the next verse in the Septuagint indicates, Job wanted them to recognize what happened to the Temanites and the Sabeans. (6:19)

With seeming reference to those who went in search for water, the Hebrew text indicates that they experienced shame because they trusted, or hoped to find water. When they arrived at the location of a stream, they were disappointed because it had dried up. The wording of the Septuagint could be understood to mean that the Temanites and the Sabeans would experience shame because their trust in cities and wealth was misplaced. (6:20)

Instead of comforting Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had become nothing. They were of no strengthening aid to him. Upon seeing “terror,” or the calamity that had befallen Job, they were afraid. At least in part, their fear may have resulted from their view that his suffering was deserved punishment from God, restraining them from consoling Job in a way that caring friends would. According to the Septuagint, the three companions had trodden upon him without mercy. Job then admonished them to be afraid because they had seen his hurt. (6:21)

Job asked whether he had told his companions to give him something or whether he had asked them to make a gift for him from their “power,” probably meaning from their possessions or substance. This giving may refer to offering a bribe. The Septuagint rendering expresses a different thought, one that is completed in the next verse. “What then? Have I asked you for something or do I need of your strength to deliver me from enemies …?” In his afflicted state, what Job needed was comfort, but his companions had failed to provide it. (6:22)

The rhetorical question Job raised in the previous verse continues. He asked his companions whether he had requested that they deliver him “from the hand” or power of an enemy (“enemies” [LXX]) or “redeem” or rescue him from the “hand” or power of ruthless men, oppressors, tyrants, or “mighty ones” (LXX). (6:23)

Job was willing to be instructed or to have teaching imparted to him that would benefit him in his afflicted state. He would be silent, giving full attention to the instruction. If he had erred, he wanted his companions to make him understand or to show him what he had done wrong. (6:24)

The Hebrew text could be literally translated, “How sick [are] words of uprightness! And what does reproof from you reprove?” Possibly Job is being represented as referring to the words of his companions as “sick” or “weak” but which they regarded as upright, honest, or truthful. Another way to understand the opening phrase is to apply the words to what Job had said. His words were upright, honest, or truthful, and yet his companions treated them as “sick,” weak, amounting to nothing, or not deserving any consideration. This significance has a measure of support in the rendering of the Septuagint. “But it seems [that] words of a genuine person [are] worthless.” Job was genuine or an upright and honest man, and yet his companions treated his words as if they were false. Their words of reproof that were meant to reprove or correct him missed the mark, as these words were based on the belief that Job’s suffering resulted from his having been guilty of serious wrongdoing. Therefore, the answer to Job’s rhetorical question was that the reproof of his companions did not serve to reprove or correct him. (6:25; regarding the rendering of the concluding phrase in the Septuagint, see the Notes section.)

His companions had directed reproof against Job’s words and so he asked them, “Do you think you can reprove words and [as] wind [treat] the sayings of a despairing man?” (6:26)

The elliptical Hebrew text requires the addition of words in order to convey an understandable significance. This has resulted in a variety of renderings. “Do you mean to correct what I say, and treat the words of a despairing man as wind?” (NIV) “Do you think that you can disprove [my] words or that a despairing man’s words are [mere] wind?” (HCSB) “Do you consider your words as proof, but the sayings of a desperate man as wind?” (NAB) “Here I am desperate, and you consider my words as worthless as wind.” (CEV) “You think I am talking nothing but wind; then why do you answer my words of despair?” (GNT, Second Edition) “Do you think mere words deserve censure, desperate speech that the wind blows away?” (NJB) “Do you mean to argue about mere words? Surely such despairing utterance is mere wind.” (REB) According to the Septuagint, the reproof of Job’s companions would not stop him from continuing to speak nor would he “tolerate the sound of [their] word.” He was not going to stop expressing himself nor accept their wrong evaluation of his circumstances. (6:26)

Apparently because of the way in which his companions had responded to him in his afflicted state, Job likened them to persons who would cast “lots over the fatherless” and “bargain over [their] companion” or friend. Such casting of lots and bargaining would have been for the purpose of acquiring the individual as a slave. The Septuagint refers to Job’s companions as falling upon orphans and jumping on their friend, thus acting contrary to what his distressing circumstances required. (6:27)

Job requested that his companions be pleased or willing to look at him, with the apparent reason being that they would give attention to his words. There was good reason for them to listen to what he said, for he would “not lie to [their] face,” but would tell them the truth. According to the Septuagint, Job is the one who looked into the faces of his associates, and he would not lie. (6:28)

The words of Job suggest that he considered his companions as having been unjust in the expressions they made about him. He entreated them to “turn” or to reconsider what they had said, with the result that there would not be injustice. He then again asked them to “turn” or reconsider their view of him. The reason for their doing so is worded in an elliptical manner — “my righteousness to it.” This has been variously rendered. “Turn now; my vindication is at stake.” (ESV) “Think again, for my integrity is in question.” (REB) “Think it over; I still am right.” (NAB) “Relent then, since I am upright.” (NJB) “Reconsider; my righteousness is still the issue.” (HCSB) “Stop assuming my guilt, for I am righteous.” (NLT) “Think again, because my innocence is being questioned.” (NCV) According to the Septuagint, Job requested that his companions “sit down” and that there be “no injustice.” This could mean that he wanted them to be just in the way they looked at him in his afflicted state. His desire was that they would again be assembled with the just one. Since Job was just, righteous, or upright, the request may be understood to refer to their again being united with him in the same company as caring associates. (6:29)

Job asked whether there was “unrighteousness” or “injustice” on his tongue or whether he had ever expressed what was corrupt or unjust. In the Septuagint, this is rendered as a statement. “For no injustice is on my tongue.” The rhetorical question about his tasting “ruin” (or what is calamitous or bad) with his palate could relate to whether Job had the moral discrimination to judge aright, and the implied answer is that he could “taste” so as to determine what was corrupt. In the Septuagint, the verse concludes with the question, “Does not my throat give attention to insight?” Perhaps the thought is that he had the capacity to discriminate, choosing what he would partake of and swallow. (6:30)


The wording of the rhetorical questions in verse 5 is more explicit in the Septuagint than in the extant Hebrew text. “What then? Will a wild ass bray for no reason but [do so when] it is seeking grain? And will also a bovine low at a manger when it has fodder?”

If verse 10 is linked to the expressions in the previous verse, they could relate to the relief Job would experience if he were to die. To have his life end would have been a comfort to him, for it would have brought an end to his suffering. Even though “not spared in anguish,” Job would “leap,” apparently for joy. He had not “disowned” or “hidden” the “words of the Holy One.” This could be understood to indicate that Job did not consider the calamities that had befallen him to have been punishment for wrongdoing. He was not seeking relief from deserved chastisement.

In verse 25, the Septuagint does not include any reference to reproof. It concludes with the words, “For I do not ask for strength from you.” Possibly this means that he did not ask his companions to give him strengthening support.