Too close for comfort

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John C Connell Jr. | Forum Activity | Posted: Mon, Mar 12 2018 3:16 AM

I am not a Biblical scholar, but found these two passages to be extremely similar. Am I missing something?

While niv and most modern versions have Job say, I despise myself (6), myself is not in the Hebrew, and it is more probable that he despises the words of abuse he has hurled at God. Likewise what he has to repent of is not any sin for which his suffering has come upon him, for it is axiomatic in the book that Job is no sinner; he can repent only of the extreme language, words ‘without knowledge’ he has uttered. But perhaps it is better still to take the word translated despise as ‘melt’, as did the lxx, i.e. ‘I melt into nothingness’, the feeling of a creature before his creator, and to take the word for repent as ‘comfort’, i.e. ‘I am comforted though still sitting upon dust and ashes’ (cf. 2:8). What the friends have failed to accomplish through their presence (2:11) and their speeches (cf. 16:2; 21:34) God has done by his personal intervention. Job is still suffering, still upon the ash-heap, but his bitterness is relieved and his tension is resolved by his encounter with God.

 F. F. Bruce, New International Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979), 550.

Does Job despise himself (6)? Myself is not in the Hebrew, and it is more probable that Job despises the words of abuse he has hurled at God. And what does he repent of (6)? It cannot be some sin, because we have known from the beginning that Job is no sinner, he can repent only of the extreme language he has used or of his ignorance. But perhaps it is better still to take the word translated despise as ‘melt’, i.e. ‘I melt into nothingness’, the feeling of a creature before his Creator, and to take the word for repent as ‘comfort’, i.e. ‘I am comforted, though still sitting upon dust and ashes’ (cf. 2:8). Job is still suffering, still upon the ash-heap, but his bitterness is relieved and his tension is resolved by his encounter with God.

David J. A. Clines, “Job,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 484.

Be strong and courageous. . . for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

Posts 4920
DIsciple II | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 12 2018 3:30 AM

It is not surprising they are similar both are written by David Clines.

Bruce is the editor of the first resource but Clines wrote the commentary on Job within the resource - see the author at the start of the commentary on the book.  I guess you could say Clines was copying his own homework. What you have noticed is not uncommon with author's using essentially the same material in different resources.

Posts 233
John C Connell Jr. | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 12 2018 7:48 AM

Thanks Disciple of Christ! I should have done more homework before posting.

-john

Be strong and courageous. . . for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

Posts 5248
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 12 2018 10:46 AM

At least things got changed up a bit more for his magnum opus in 3 volumes on Job:

6 This crucial verse, with the last words of Job (which did not end with 31:40, despite what is said there!), forms the climax of the whole dispute between Job and Yahweh. But sadly it contains three major uncertainties: (1) the meaning of אמאס (is it “I reject, despise” with perhaps “myself” or “my words” as the implied object, or “I melt, submit”?), (2) the meaning of נחמתי (is it “I repent” or “I am consoled, I accept consolation”?), and (3) the meaning of “dust and ashes” (is it a reference to the place and the situation of Job on the ash-heap, or a reference to Job’s status as a mourner, or to his human mortality?). For the details, see also the Notes.
In a nutshell, the view that will be argued here is that (1) in a legal sense, Job “submits,” i.e., he withdraws his lawsuit against Yahweh, (2) since he has done no wrong, he cannot “repent,” but having been in mourning, he now brings the period of mourning to an end by “accepting consolation,” for his lost children as well as for the loss of his honor, a consolation that is being offered to him both from the friends and (in his own way) from Yahweh, and (3) the consolation he accepts is “for” the “dust and ashes” that have been the visible expression of his state of mourning.
(1) The verb מאס at first sight appears to be the common verb for “despise, reject”; the difficulty with that understanding is that the verb has no object here. Perhaps, lacking an object, think some, it means “feel loathing, contempt, revulsion,” as in a few other cases (Ps 89:38 [39]; Job 34:33; 36:5). But even these cases are questionable: in Ps 89:38 (39), the object is probably explicit in the term “your anointed,” though that is not grammatically the object of the verb (it would be the object also of זנח “reject,” which almost always has an object but oddly lacks one here); Job 34:33 (q.v.), which is very difficult, may have an explicit object in the subject or the object of the previous verb, and in any case can hardly mean “feel loathing”; and 36:5 is very problematic text-critically. Even more to the point, it would seem strange to have Job express a self-loathing for having raised his issue of justice. Where could such an attitude have arisen from? The divine speeches have ignored Job’s complaint, but they have not suggested that it is in any way disgusting.
So is an object to the verb מאס implied? Judging by the possible parallels mentioned above, it does not seem likely; and in terms of the resulting sense there are difficulties also. Many have therefore proposed that an object should be restored to the text by emendation. The suggestions for filling such a gap have usually been “myself” or “my words.” The problems with so doing are these: (1) we have seen no reason for Job to “despise himself,” which would be much more emotional language than he has otherwise used in this rather low-key speech, and it would be hard to see what it would mean for him to “reject himself.” And (2) there is no reason either why he should “despise” his words, while the clause “I reject my words” does not seem at all natural. Perhaps a better solution would be to suppose that the missing word is “my case,” and that what Job is rejecting or retracting (though hardly “despising”) is his claim against Yahweh that he has been unjustly treated.
But there is something rather too speculative about identifying an implied object for the verb or creating an object by emendation. There is another route that may be better: to seek another interpretation of the verb. A meaningful alternative is available in the verb מאס II “flow, melt,” a homonym of מאס I “despise, reject,” which occurs also at 7:16; Ps 58:7 (8). That sense might not at first sight seem very suitable here, but if we understand it as a metaphor for “yield” (as REB) or “submit” (as in the Translation above), it creates an excellent meaning at this point. For what we expect to hear from Job before he has finished speaking is an explicit capitulation and acknowledgment of the defeat of his lawsuit—especially if it is correct that a Hebrew lawsuit was conceived to be still underway so long as one of the parties had not acknowledged that there was nothing more to be said in defense of their position. If this is so, then with this one word Job announces the end of his legal claim for justice, while in the rest of the verse he expresses where he now stands in personal and social terms.
There is one other plausible approach to the problem of the first verb: it is to accept a tiny emendation of the verb form itself, from אֶמְאַס “I melt” from the verb מאס II “flow, melt,” to אֶמָּס, with exactly the same meaning, from the verb מסס “flow, melt” (which is in fact a byform of מאס); see further, Note b. The advantage of this proposal is that it brings two further texts into the discussion where the verb is used of humans, Isa 10:18, where מְסֹס נֹסֵס is “the melting of a sick person,” which apparently means “the collapse of a person in convulsions” (NEB “as when a man falls in a fit”), and even more to the point, 2 Sam 17:10, where a valiant man melts (מסס) with fear. It is not with fear that Job is melting, but the example shows that it is not a very strange metaphor to speak of a person “melting” and that various English translations need to be sought to accommodate the senses of the Hebrew word.


David J. A. Clines, Job 38–42, vol. 18B, Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2011), 1218–1220.

-dan

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