Job 30:1-31

Submitted by admin on Tue, 2015-03-31 19:05.

Posted in | printer-friendly version »

In view of the calamities that had befallen Job, men younger than he laughed at him. Job would have rejected their fathers to be put with the dogs of his flock, refusing to entrust them with what probably was regarded as the lowest level of responsibility possible. The expression could well have been a proverbial description of men who were regarded as worthless and useless. (30:1; see the Notes section.)

Probably concerning those who derided him, Job raised the rhetorical question as to what he could have gained from the “strength of their hands?” The implied answer was, Nothing. These men were incapable of doing anything, for vigor had perished from them. (30:2; see the Notes section.)

The men who mocked Job were generally regarded as the dregs of society. They did not even perform work as hired laborers and subsisted on what they could find to eat. They had no strength for hard work, as their diet was inadequate. Job is quoted as describing them as without vigor “from want and hunger.” The Hebrew adjective galmúd follows the word for “hunger.” Its usual meaning is “unfruitful” or “barren.” The rendering in the Greek version of Theodotion is ágonos (“barren,” “sterile,” or “childless”). In this case, however, the Hebrew adjective galmúd could indicate the hunger to be unsatisfied or severe. Another possibility is that the individuals are being described as emaciated. Their gnawing “dry ground” could refer to their eating any edible plant or root they could find in uncultivated desert areas. (30:3)

The Hebrew adverb ’émesh follows the noun translated “dry ground.” In other contexts, ’émesh means “last night” or “yesterday,” but this significance does not really fit with the preceding words nor with the words that follow (“waste and desolation”). One possible meaning could be that the “dry ground” was already waste and desolate at a former time. Another interpretation would be to consider the meaning “last night” for ’émesh to designate the “dry ground” or barren desert as a place of darkness or gloom like the night. The Greek version of Theodotion appears to refer to those who were sterile or childless as having fled “yesterday” from an arid land to escape “distress and misery.” (30:3; see the Notes section.)

Those who mocked Job could be found plucking “salt herbs” (one possible meaning for the Hebrew word mallúach) growing alongside a bush. The Hebrew phrase “by a bush” could also mean “leafage of a bush” (perhaps “wormwood”). This accounts for the various renderings in modern translations. “In the brush they gathered salt herbs.” (NIV) “They used to pick saltwort among the scrub.” (NJB) “They plucked saltwort and wormwood.” (REB) “They plucked saltwort and shrubs.” (NAB) “They pick mallow and the leaves of bushes.” (NRSV) Depending on which reading of the Hebrew text is followed, the ones whom Job mentioned either used the root of broom trees for fuel to warm themselves or for food. Both meanings are found in modern translations (“for warmth the root of broom” [REB]; “to warm themselves the roots of broom” [NRSV]; “their food was the root of the broom tree” [NIV]). It may be noted, however, that the root of the broom tree, being bitter and nauseating, is not suitable for food. (30:4; see the Notes section.)

The Hebrew text appears to represent those who mocked Job as worthless men who were “driven out” from society. After them, people would shout out as one would after a thief. The Septuagint conveys a different meaning. It quotes Job as saying, “Thieves have risen up against me.” (30:5)

The outcasts from society who laughed at Job had to make their abode on the steep slopes of ravines through which streams flowed during the rainy season. They would have to dwell in holes in the ground and in “rocks” or clefts and caves in rocky terrain. According to the Septuagint, their homes were “holes” or “caves” in the rocks. (30:6)

Among bushes, the outcasts would “bray” or cry out. They would “huddle under nettles.” This could mean that they availed themselves of the shade tall nettles provided during the heat of the day or that they collected nettles for food. (30:7; see the Notes section.)

Job referred to those who mocked him as “sons of a senseless one” or men devoid of good sense, and also as “sons without name” or men of disrepute. As lowlifes, they had been “scourged” out of the land as if driven out with a whip. The Septuagint refers to their reputation as “extinguished from the earth” or the land. (30:8)

To the disreputable outcasts, Job had become the subject of their taunting song (their “kithara” [LXX], the stringed instrument that accompanied their song of mockery). He was also a “byword” to these lowlifes. (30:9)

Although themselves outcasts, the men who derided Job detested him and kept themselves far away or aloof. In expression of their contempt, they did not withhold spit from his face. (30:10)

The Kethib reading of the Hebrew text is “his cord,” whereas the Qere reading is “my cord.” This gives rise to different meanings of the text. If the reading is “his cord,” the initial phrase of the verse could mean that God loosed the cord by which he formerly had restrained those who mistreated Job. The reference to “my cord” would refer to Job’s cord, with the cord designating either a bowstring or a tent cord. Loosing Job’s bowstring would have meant depriving him of his strength or his position of authority and reducing him to a helpless state. For God to have loosed Job’s tent cord would have resulted in his being in a vulnerable position that subjected him to injury. His circumstances would have been comparable to that of a tent that can collapse when its cord is loosed. Job was “humbled” or afflicted by the mistreatment he experienced. Men who were the very dregs of society “cast off restraint” before Job’s “face” or in his presence. (30:11; see the Notes section.)

Translators vary in their interpretive renderings, identifying either God or those who taunted Job as acting against him. “Because God has loosed my bowstring and humbled me, they have cast off restraint in my presence.” (NRSV) “Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me, they throw off restraint in my presence.” (NIV) “God has destroyed me, and so they don’t care what they do.” (CEV) “Indeed, they have loosed their bonds; they lord it over me, and have thrown off restraint in my presence.” (NAB) “They run wild and savage me; at sight of me they throw off all restraint.” (REB) The Septuagint rendering conveys yet another meaning. “For he opened his quiver [and] did evil to me.” This rendering suggests that God attacked Job as if removing arrows from his quiver and shooting them against him. (30:11)

Job referred to the hateful treatment he experienced from the rabble. He likened it to a “brood” or an “offshoot” (a collective singular in Hebrew) rising up on his right hand, the side where supporters should have been but where they appeared as attackers. According to a literal rendering of the Hebrew text, Job is quoted as saying, “They sent my feet.” This has been variously translated. “They lay snares for my feet.” (NIV) “They send me sprawling.” (NRSV) “They put me to flight.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition]) These men also “cast up ways of destruction” against Job or devised means to harm him or to bring about his ruin. According to the marks of Origen, the wording is from the Greek version of Theodotion. It may be rendered, “On the right of a shoot [or offspring], they rose up; they have spread out their foot and prepared roads of their destruction for me.” Possibly this could be understood to mean that those who attacked Job were like new sprouts that had sprung up and had set their feet in motion to make their approach, determined on doing him injury. (30:12)

Job spoke of those who assailed him as breaking up his “path.” This could mean that they made it impossible for him to get away from their attacks. According to a literal reading of the Hebrew text, Job is then quoted as saying, “They benefit from my calamity.” This could refer to their maliciously delighting in seeing Job afflicted and humiliated. Translators have variously interpreted the Hebrew text. “They promote my calamity.” (NRSV) “They further my calamity.” (Margolis) “They succeed in destroying me.” (NIV) The concluding phrase of the Hebrew text says, “not one helping them.” This could be understood to mean that their action against Job really did not help or benefit them in any way. Another possibility is to consider the phrase as relating to the breaking up of Job’s path. They acted on their own, with no assistance from anyone. Translators have commonly interpreted the phrase to indicate that no one stopped those who mistreated Job. “They attack with none to stay them.” (NAB) They “scramble up against me unhindered.” (REB) “No one restrains them.” (NRSV) Aside from the wording that Origen marked as from the Greek version of Theodotion (“my paths were obliterated”), the Septuagint text does not resemble the extant Hebrew text. It says, “For he took off my robe.” This suggests that God took away Job’s dignity, the dignity that the robe represented. (30:13)

As if having made a wide breach, Job’s assailants came against him. “Amid the devastation [sho’áh]” (like the ruin occurring when a wall is breached), they rolled on as in waves. The Hebrew word sho’áh has been understood to mean “storm” and, by extension, the effect a storm can have. Modern translations have variously rendered the text. “Amid the uproar they come on in waves.” (NAB) “Amid the crash, they roll on.” (NRSV) “At the moment of a crash they come in waves.” (REB) “Amid the ruins they come rolling in.” (NIV) “They roll in like raging billows.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition]) (30:14; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

“Terrors” or frightful calamities (“pains” [LXX]) had “turned” on Job, overwhelming him. His “honor” or dignity was “pursued as by wind.” This meant that his noble standing was ripped away from him as by a violent storm. His “deliverance,” or the possibility of relief from his suffering, had passed away like a cloud that disappears from sight without bringing any rain. According to the Septuagint rendering, Job said, “My hope is gone like the wind, and my deliverance like a cloud.” He was left without hope and with no indication that his well-being would ever be restored. (30:15)

Job is quoted as having said that his “soul” was “poured out” within him and that “days of affliction” had taken hold of him. In this case, the Hebrew word for “soul” may be understood to refer to life. Apparently Job sensed that his life appeared to be slipping away as if it were being poured out from inside him, and his days were filled with suffering. (30:16; see the Notes section.)

During the night it seemed to Job that his “bones” were being bored away from him. His entire frame must have been wracked with intense pain. The agony that “gnawed” Job took no rest, causing no letup in his suffering. According to the Septuagint rendering, Job’s bones were inflamed, suggesting that he felt as if his whole organism was on fire. The concluding phrase of the Septuagint reads, “But my sinews are loosed” or dissolved. Thus Job is represented as saying that, in his diseased state, his entire organism was falling apart. (30:17; see the Notes section.)

The Hebrew word chaphás basically means “search.” In certain contexts, however, it denotes “disguise.” A literal rendering of the initial phrase could be, “With great strength, my garment is disguised.” A possible meaning for this obscure wording might be that the disease had so disfigured Job that the garment he wore seemed to have changed its appearance from when he used to wear it while enjoying good health. Another way to view the text is to consider the “garment” to refer to Job’s outward appearance that had become totally unrecognizable. Possibly because of his pain, the garment itself seemed to encompass him uncomfortably as if it were the collar of his tunic. (30:18)

The obscurity of the wording of the verse accounts for a variety of interpretive renderings in translations. “In his great power God becomes like clothing to me; he binds me like the neck of my garment.” (NIV) “Violently, he [God] has caught me by my clothes, has gripped me by the collar of my coat.” (NJB) “And God has shrunk my skin, choking me to death.” (CEV) “My garments are all bespattered with my phlegm, which chokes me like the collar of a garment.” (REB) “One with great power lays hold of my clothing; by the collar of my tunic he seizes me.” (NAB) “With great effort I change clothing; the neck of my tunic fits my waist.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition]) The Septuagint rendering lends support for renderings that attribute to God the action involving the clothing. “With great strength, he has seized my garment.” (30:18; see the Notes section.)

In view of the suffering and mistreatment he had experienced, Job felt as though God had thrown him “into the mire” or, according to the Septuagint, regarded him as “equal to clay.” Afflicted and humiliated, he had become “like dust and ashes.” Job viewed himself as having been treated as valueless — mere dirt. The Septuagint concludes the verse with Job saying, “My portion [is] in the earth [the ground or the dust of the ground] and ashes.” (30:19)

In his distress, Job cried out to God, but he did not answer (“hear” or “listen to” [LXX]) him. The concluding phrase reads, “I stand, and you observe.” This suggests that God did nothing to help Job. He only looked at him. (30:20; see the Notes section.)

Job regarded God as the source of the calamities that had befallen him. Therefore, he spoke of God as having “turned cruel” toward him. The Septuagint refers to God as attacking Job mercilessly. “With the might of [his] hand” or his great power (“strong hand” [LXX]), God had become hostile to Job or, according to the Septuagint, had scourged him. (30:21)

Job felt that God had “lifted” or swept “him up on the wind” and made him ride the turbulent tempest. This suggests that Job perceived himself as helplessly buffeted by the distress that had come upon him. The Septuagint rendering indicates that God appointed pains for Job. In the Hebrew text, the verse concludes with a phrase that may be translated, “You melt me with success” (tohshiyyáh). This could mean that Job thought God had been successful in dissolving him or bringing him to complete ruin. With different vowel points, the consonants of the word tohshiyyáh can mean “noise,” and this has been understood to relate to a tempest. A number of translations reflect this significance in their renderings. “The tempest tosses me about.” (REB) “And [you] blow me to pieces in a tempest.” (NJB) “You toss me about in the storm.” (NIV) (30:22; see the Notes section.)

In view of his affliction, Job spoke of knowing that God would “return” him to death (or to the nonexistent state in which he had been prior to his conception and birth) and “to the house appointed [literally, house of appointment] for all the living.” This “house” apparently designates the realm of the dead. The Septuagint says that Job knew that death would destroy him. It concludes with the words, “For the earth [is] the house of every mortal.” This could refer to the reality that all mortals return to the dust of the earth at death. (30:23)

A literal rendering of the extant Hebrew text would be, “Yet not in a heap of ruins does one stretch out a hand; and in his disaster, [he makes] a cry [for help] to them.” Completely covered in a “heap of ruins,” one cannot stretch out a hand for aid. When still alive and not under a pile of rubble after a disaster, a person can cry out to others for assistance. While this meaning is possible if “pile of ruins” has a literal significance, it is by no means certain. The Hebrew text is obscure, and the interpretive renderings of translations vary greatly. “Surely He would not strike at a ruin if, in calamity, one cried out to Him.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition) “Surely one does not turn against the needy, when in disaster they cry for help.”(NRSV) “Yet should not a hand be held out to help a wretched man in his calamity?” (NAB) “Yet have I ever laid a hand on the poor when they cried out for justice in calamity?” (NJB) “Yet no beggar held out his hand to me in vain for relief in his distress.” (REB) “No one refuses help to others when disaster strikes.” (CEV) The Septuagint rendering suggests that the reference is to suicide. “Oh, if I would be able to lay hands on myself, or indeed entreat someone else, and he would do this for me.” (30:24)

Job apparently directed his rhetorical questions to God. “Did I not weep for him whose day was hard? Was [not] my soul [I myself] grieved for the needy one?” Job felt keenly for those who were suffering, but implied that God did not show such compassionate feelings for him. According to the Septuagint rendering, Job wept “over every powerless one” or oppressed person, and he “groaned when he saw a man in distress.” (30:25)

Job looked for “good,” or relief from his affliction, and “evil came” in the form of more suffering. He “waited for light,” longing for a brighter future, “and darkness came,” plunging him into even greater distressing gloom. (30:26; see the Notes section.)

Job referred to his “inward parts” as boiling or being in a constant state of ferment and not being still. There was no letup in his distressing internal turmoil. “Days of affliction” met him, filling his days with suffering. (30:27; see the Notes section.)

Job’s being dark or blackened could refer either to his being in a state of gloom or his having a sickly dark pallor on account of his diseased condition. He went about without sunshine, meaning either that his skin had been darkened but not from sunshine or that there was nothing to brighten his day. Modern translations convey variations of both meanings. “I go about blackened, but not by the sun.” (NIV) “My skin has become dark, but the sun didn’t do it.” (NIRV) “Suffering has scorched my skin.” (CEV) “I go about in gloom, without the sun.” (NAB) “I go about in sunless gloom.” (NRSV) “I go about dejected and comfortless.” (REB) According to the Septuagint, Job went about groaning without a muzzle or without any kind of restraint. He stood up in the assembly, or among a gathering of people, and cried out for help, with the implication being that no one came to his aid. (30:28)

Job had become a detested outcast, comparable to being isolated with animals in remote areas. Accordingly, he referred to himself as a “brother of jackals” (“sirens” or mythical creatures [LXX]) and a companion of ostriches (“daughters of an ostrich”). (30:29)

Apparently having changed to a sickly dark pallor, Job’s skin was black. He is quoted as saying, “My skin blackens from me.” What happened to the skin in relation to Job is expressed by the phrase “from me,” suggesting that the blackened skin peeled. The reference to his bones burning from heat may indicate that Job had a high fever. (30:30; see the Notes section.)

For Job, instrumental music ceased to be associated with joyous occasions as it had formerly. His “harp” or lyre became an instrument for mourning, and his pipe accompanied the sound of those who were weeping. According to the Septuagint, his “psalm” or song had come to be “for wailing to him.” (30:31)


In verse 1, the Septuagint does not mention younger men. It says, “But now they laughed at me. Now the least ones admonished me in turn.” The next phrase, according to the marks of Origen in the third century CE, was added from the Greek text of Theodotion. This phrase indicates that Job treated “their fathers with disdain.” Then the text of the Septuagint resumes with the words, “whom I did not esteem to be worthy of the dogs of my pastures,” or the dogs used for shepherding the flocks.

In verse 2, modern translations vary in applying the description either to the young men who mocked Job or to their fathers. When the renderings are specific in their application in verse 2, this is also the case in the entire section that ends with verse 8. Since the focus of verse 1 is on those who mocked Job, it appears preferable to consider the words of verses 2 through 8 as applying to them and not specifically to their fathers.

The marks of Origen in the third century CE indicate that the wording of verse 2 was supplied from the Greek version of Theodotion. It reads much like the extant Hebrew text. “And indeed the strength of their hand — what [is it] to me? For them, a finish perished.” Perhaps this means that they could bring nothing to completion. A common interpretive rendering applies the perishing of the “finish” to the perishing of the full term of their life.

The wording of verse 3 and the first phrase of verse 4 was added from the Greek version of Theodotion. Origen marked it as such in the third century CE.

In verse 4, the Greek version of Theodotion refers to those who derided Job as men who broke off salty plants in a noisy place (literally, “on a sounding”). Perhaps the words “on a sounding” designate a location where the wind howled. Then, according to the rendering of the Septuagint that follows, the food of these men was salty plants. They were without honor, despised, and lacking in “everything good.” On account of “great hunger,” these men chewed the “roots of trees.”

According to the marks of Origen in the third century CE, the initial phrase of verse 7 is an addition from the Greek version of Theodotion. It may be rendered, “In the midst of pleasant sounds, they will cry out.” Possibly the sounds could be those of the wind and the rustling of vegetation. Regarding the outcasts from society, the concluding phrase of the Septuagint says, “Under the wild brushwood, they live.”

The marks of Origen in the third century CE indicate that the phrase about restraint in verse 11 was added from the version of Theodotion. It may be rendered, “And they have cast off the restraint of my face.” This could mean that they cast off the restraint that Job’s presence formerly had on them.

In verse 14, the rendering of the Septuagint represents God as the one acting against Job. “With his arrows, he shot me down. He treated me as he wanted. With pain, I have been defiled.” The calamities that had befallen Job were like arrows that had pierced him. Job regarded his suffering as coming from God. Job’s pain made him an unclean man to those who saw him in his diseased condition.

The wording of the initial phrase of verse 16, according to the marks of Origen, was added from the Greek version of Theodotion. It basically corresponds to the wording of the extant Hebrew text. “And now my soul will be poured out upon me.” The concluding words of the Septuagint text follow. “But days of pains take hold of me.”

In verse 17, the Hebrew text represents Job as attributing the boring of the bones to the night, for it would have been then when he experienced the greatest pain. “Night bores my bones from off me.”

The marks of Origen indicate that the wording of the concluding phrase of verse 18 was taken from the Greek version of Theodotion. “He has encircled me like the collar of my tunic” (chitón, a transliteration of the Hebrew word for “tunic” or “garment”). This suggests that God had bound Job tightly, or subjected him to great distress, as if encircling him like the collar does the neck.

The concluding phrase of verse 20 (“they stood and gazed at me”) is, as Origen marked it, taken from the Greek version of Theodotion. Those who saw Job in his afflicted state just stared at him, doing or saying nothing that would have brought him comfort.

The marks of Origen indicate that the concluding phrase of verse 22 was added from the Greek version of Theodotion. This phrase may be rendered, “And you toss me away from deliverance.” The wording indicates that Job had no hope that God would grant him relief from suffering.

In verse 26, the Septuagint rendering includes a form of the verb epécho, which basically means to “hold” or “hold fast.” This results in a reading that differs somewhat from the extant Hebrew text. “But I held fast to good things. Look, days of evil met me instead.” Although Job was intent on adhering to the things that were good or right, he ended up experiencing days filled with trouble. The reference to “days of evil” corresponds more closely to the concluding phrase of verse 27 in the extant Hebrew text.

Origen marked the wording of verse 27 as having been added from the Greek version of Theodotion. The concluding phrase reads much like the concluding phrase of verse 26 of the Septuagint text. “My belly boiled and will not be still; days of affliction overtook me.”

The wording of verse 30 in the Septuagint is much like that of the extant Hebrew text. “And my skin has been greatly blackened, and my bones from heat.”