Job 7:1-21

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Job recognized that, during the course of their life, humans repeatedly face problems and hardships. Therefore, he raised the rhetorical question, “[Is] not a mortal’s [existence] on earth [like] hard labor [a trial (LXX)], and his days like days of a hireling?” A man who performed hard labor or one who was a hireling looked forward to the end of the day when he would no longer be engaged in wearying labor. When life proved to be like forced labor or like days of a hireling who looked forward to the end of each day when he received his wages, the individual desired relief from drudgery. In the case of Job, this implied that it was most fitting for him to want relief from his distressing situation, and his earlier comments indicated that he regarded death as the means by which he could be liberated from his affliction. (7:1; compare 3:10-19; 6:9, 10.)

The yearning for relief from troubles and difficulties that life brings is compared to the longing of a slave for a “shadow” and like the anticipation of a hireling for his wages at the end of the day. A “shadow” would bring welcome relief from the heat, and the lengthening of shadows also indicated that the time for laboring was drawing to a close and that the time for rest was drawing near. A hireling’s being able to look forward to receiving wages at the end of the day made the performance of wearying labor more tolerable. Job’s words indicate that it was natural for humans to want relief from difficult circumstances, and so his desire to be liberated from his misery was the reaction that his companions should have expected. (7:2; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

Job looked at his situation as being much like the hard lot of a slave or that of a hireling. Months of “emptiness” or futility had been allotted to him, and “nights of trouble” or misery had been apportioned to him. Neither the day nor the night brought him respite from his affliction. (7:3)

After lying down for the night, Job wondered just when he could arise. This was because the night brought him no rest. The night seemed to drag on, for he would toss restlessly until dawn. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, Job found himself asking when it would be day. Then, upon getting up, he would ask when it would be evening. “From evening until morning,” he was tormented with pains (literally, “full of pains”). (7:4)

Job described his “flesh” or “body” (LXX) as “clothed” (“defiled” [LXX]) or covered with “worms” or maggots and “clods of dust,” either dirt or scabs (with the “decay of worms” or maggots [LXX]). Regarding his skin, he is quoted as saying, “My skin hardens and flows.” This could mean that pus oozed from his shriveled and cracked skin. The Septuagint rendering represents Job as saying that he was “melting away” and “scraping clods of earth away from pus.” (7:5)

In his afflicted state, Job perceived his life as rapidly slipping away. He likened this to his days going by faster than a shuttle by means of which a weaver quickly passes the thread of the weft between the threads of the warp. His days ended without hope, for he saw no change for the better. The Septuagint refers to his life or existence as being “lighter” than “talk,” which may mean that it passed more quickly than the words that proceed from the mouth of the one speaking. Job is then quoted as saying that his life perished in “empty” or “vain hope.” This suggests that he might have had hope but that it was completely crushed in view of the state of misery in which he found himself. (7:6)

At this point, Job directed his words to God, asking him to “remember” or to take note of the reality that he was a mortal, one whose life was but a “breath” (rúach). The Hebrew word rúach can also mean “spirit.” In this context, however, it denotes an exhaled breath or a mere puff of air. Job felt that his “eye” would never again see “good” or a reversal in his state of great suffering. His expression appears to have been a plea to be shown compassion in his pathetic state before his life would end. (7:7)

Upon his death, no eye of one who then saw him would see him. Apparently again directing his words to God, Job continued, “Your eyes [will be] upon me, and I will not be.” (7:8; see the Notes section.)

“A cloud fades and vanishes.” Like such a disappearing cloud (“like a cloud having been cleared from heaven [the sky]” as Job would be [LXX]), one descending to Sheol, the realm of the dead, does not come back up. The Septuagint says, “For if a man has descended into Hades, he does not again come up.” (7:9)

The one who descended into Sheol or the realm of the dead does not return to his house. As this one no longer exists in the earthly realm of the living, “his place,” the one that he once occupied, does not know him any more. He is gone from that place like a stranger who had never been there. (7:10)

Believing that his descent into the realm of the dead was at hand, Job was not going to restrain his mouth from speaking. He would express himself in the “anguish of [his] spirit,” or in the distress of his inner self. The Septuagint rendering could be understood to mean that he would speak because of being in distress. The verse concludes with the thought that Job purposed to complain “in the bitterness of [his] soul” or in the bitterness of his very being. In the Septuagint, Job is represented as saying that, being “held fast” or “afflicted,” he would “open” or disclose the “bitterness of [his] soul.” (7:11)

Job believed God to be the source of the affliction that had taken fast hold of him. This prompted him to ask whether God regarded him as the “sea” or a “sea monster” (“dragon” [LXX]) that had to be restrained so that he “set a guard” over him. Job’s affliction was like a guard that kept him in a perpetual state of suffering. (7:12)

When Job said to himself that his “divan” would “comfort” him, granting him respite from his misery while sleeping at night, and that his bed would “lift up” or ease his “complaint” (sich), giving him some relief from his distress, he did not find this to be the case. The Hebrew word sich can also mean “musing.” This appears to be the basis for the Septuagint rendering. “I will bring up” or express a “word for my own self on my bed.” (7:13)

Instead of getting a peaceful night’s rest, Job had disturbing nightmares. He attributed these to God, saying, “You frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions.” (7:14)

The effect on Job from terrifying nightmares was such that he would have preferred to be suffocated. Death would have been a better option than his bones, or the keeping of his bodily frame barely alive. According to the Septuagint, Job said, “You will remove my soul from my spirit but my bones from death.” This could mean that God would cause Job’s soul or Job himself to be without his “spirit” or his life force or life principle. Death would render him lifeless, but his bones would remain intact, as if taken away from death. (7:15)

The Hebrew text is elliptical. “I reject” or “despise”; not forever [to limitless time] would I live.” Based on the previous verse that quotes Job as saying that he preferred death to his miserable existence, the implied object of “reject” or “despise” appears to be his life. He loathed his existence as a suffering man without any hope of relief. Therefore, Job wanted God to leave him alone or to grant him a respite from his misery. He would not live long, for his “days” were just a “breath.” According to the Septuagint, Job said, “For I will not live forever [into the age], that I should be patient” or that I should endure patiently. “Distance yourself from me, for my life is vain,” empty, or meaningless. Job had no reason to continue living and just wanted God to leave him alone for the short time he might yet live. (7:16)

The rhetorical question (“What [is] man [’enóhsh, a mortal]?”) implied that a mere mortal did not amount to anything. Therefore, Job could not understand why God would “make” man “great” (as one that should be the object of his concern) and set his “heart” (“mind” or “thought” [LXX]) on him or focus his attention on him. Job perceived this divine attention to have been the reason for his great suffering. (7:17)

In view of all that he had to endure, Job referred to God as visiting man every morning and testing him. There was no letup in the affliction and trials that each day brought. (7:18; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

Job regarded himself as being the object of God’s constant watching and, therefore, being subjected to continual suffering. He wondered when God would finally look away from him, leaving him alone until he could “swallow [his] spittle” (“in pain” [added in LXX]). Job wanted to be left alone for just a brief time so that he might at last have some relief. (7:19)

Job could not understand what his sinning really did to God, the One watching man (’adhám, the earthling; “the One knowing the mind of men” [LXX]). The implication is that God, the One who is fully aware of what man does or thinks, was not personally harmed in any way. For this reason, Job wondered why God had made him a “mark” for himself or an object to be struck (God’s “accuser” [LXX] against whom he needed to act). In the Masoretic Text, the verse concludes with the question, “[Why] have I become a burden for myself?” An ancient Jewish scribal correction indicates that the question should end with “for you,” and the rendering of the Septuagint is “on you.” Thus Job represents himself as being like an unwelcome burden to God, one that is a source of irritation and displeasure. (7:20)

Instead of being subjected to continual suffering, Job wondered why God could not just pardon his transgression and “pass over” his guilt or not persist in holding it against him. In that case, he could have been allowed to die. He would then have been able to lie “in the dust,” and God could seek him but he would not be and so could no longer be afflicted. The Septuagint concludes with the thought that Job would go away “into the earth” or the ground and, in the morning, “be no more.” (7:21)

Notes

In verse 2, the Septuagint rendering refers to the slave or servant as one “fearing his lord” or master and “finding a shadow.”

Based on the markings of the Christian scholar Origen (who produced his Hexapla in the third century CE), the words of verse 8 were not found in the Septuagint text available to him. He added the corresponding Greek words of the phrase from the version of Theodotion. This version is thought to have been produced in the second century CE. It is either a translation of the Hebrew text or a revision of the Greek text based on the Hebrew text.

In verse 18, the Septuagint represents God as making a visitation until morning and judging man until his time of rest.