Daily Bible Study Tips –
Comments on Job 1 to 3
Job 4:1-11; 5:8-17, Eliphaz speaks.
Job 6:1-14; 7:11-21, Job answers.
Job 8:1-22, Bildad speaks.
Job 9:1-18; 10:18-22, Job answers.
Job 11:1-20, Zophar speaks.
Comments on Job 12 to 18
Comments on Job 19 to 21
Comments on Job 22 to 27
Comments on Job 31 to 38:21
Comments on Job 38:22 to 40
Comments on Job 42
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Job 4:1-11; 5:8-17 (7/29/10)
The book of Job wrestles with the questions of why bad things happen to good people. We have God's word for it, in the prologue, that Job is a good and blameless person whose faithfulness is being tested. Job's friends don't know that, however. They hold to the standard Deuteronomic position, which is good person = blessed person; bad person = cursed person. They think that Job's suffering proves that he has committed a sin.
After Job's "better off dead" speech, his friend Eliphaz speaks. He says, "Job, you know that blameless people don't suffer. God is rebuking you because there is something you need to correct. You need to take this opportunity to get right with God."
Job 6:1-14; 7:11-21 (7/30/10)
Job disagrees with Eliphaz, and he points out that he's not completely himself because he is so sick and grieved. He says that whatever is going on, he needs support from his friends (which is a thought that we should all take to heart). Job moves from cursing the day he was born to saying outright that he wishes God would let him die. He also says that he is justified in his bitterness because God is unjustly causing his pain; in fact, he wonders whether God is harassing him just for something to do.
Job 8:1-22 (8/2/10)
Who is the shortest person in the Bible? Peter, who slept on his watch. The second shortest is Bildad the Shuhite. HAHAhahaha. We now return to our regularly scheduled study tip.
Job's friends stick to the orthodox teaching of the times: blessed person = good person, cursed person = bad person. Remember that Job has been accusing God of injustice. Bildad says, "Does God pervert justice? Do birds have lips? No, Job, if you are suffering, somebody
has sinned. If it wasn't you, maybe it was your kids. Confess and get right with God, and he'll reward you."
Job 9:1-18; 10:18-22 (8/3/10)
Job says to Bildad, "Right, right, right - I've heard all that before. But the whole thing is very unfair, because God is the prosecutor, jury, and judge. I know I'm innocent, but I don't have a chance, because he won't listen." Then he starts complaining to God again.
Vss. 21-22 are important. At the time the book of Job was written, the Jews' concept was that the afterlife, called Sheol, was a shadowy place. You were neither rewarded nor punished. You neither enjoyed yourself nor suffered. You got your rewards or punishments in the here and now, and Job's complaint is that he should be getting rewards for his innocence, not punishment.
Reader Question: Um… Job 9:13? “God’s anger is constant. He crushed his enemies who helped Rahab, the sea monster, oppose him”??? (2/12/11)
Job 11:1-20 (8/4/10)
Response: Johnny asks his dad a bunch of questions, and each time his dad answers, “I don’t know.” Finally Johnny says, “Dad, can I ask one more thing?” And his dad says, “Of course! How will you learn anything if you don’t ask questions?”
So the answer is: I don’t know, but please feel free to keep sending in your questions.
First, Brown-Driver-Briggs, a standard Hebrew-English lexicon, defines rahab as “proud, defiant.” There’s nothing about sea monsters. So the word for word Hebrew, as best I can make it out, says “God will not turn back his anger; the rahab proud helpers crouch below.”
The Greek Septuagint (LXX), says, “For he turned away anger, the kete whales under heaven stooped under him.” A footnote for Job 9:13 in Brenton’s LXX refers to a footnote for Genesis 1:21 (also kete), which says, “Or, probably any large fish, or marine animals, whether cetaceous or not.” That would be useful if the Hebrew used rahab in Genesis, but it doesn’t!
Four translations that I checked just go with rahab, i.e., they don’t translate it at all.
- Jewish Publication Society and American Standard Version: God will not withdraw His anger; the helpers of Rahab did/do stoop under Him.
- English Standard Version: God will not turn back his anger; beneath him bowed the helpers of Rahab.
- Jerusalem Bible: God never goes back on his anger, Rahab’s minions still lie at his feet.
A footnote in the Jerusalem says, “Rahab here is apparently another name for primeval Chaos or else one of its monsters.”
Two translations apparently follow the LXX:
- Contemporary English Version: When God showed his anger, the servants of the sea monster fell at his feet.
- Good News Bible: God's anger is constant. He crushed his enemies who helped Rahab, the sea monster, oppose him.
The Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary says, “does not clearly follow…” “sometimes designates…” “may be understood…” “might be read…” “supports the conjectural rendering…” “may follow…” “if this translation is correct…” In other words, they really don’t know.
One version that I checked, our old friend the King James, just translates what’s right there (with “if” in italics, meaning that the word is not in the original Hebrew or Greek).
- King James: If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop under him.
Isaiah 51:9 appears from context to be using Rahab as the name of a sea monster. Wikipedia says that Rahab is a sea monster in Jewish folklore, but that article doesn’t say when this folklore arose – which could have helped us puzzle out why the LXX has “whale.” Wikipedia also says that most modern scholars date Job about 4th century BC, which is roughly a century prior to the LXX. So it’s entirely possible that the rabbis who translated Job were doing what I would call a “good, modern translation” – maybe they knew that in this context it meant “sea monster,” not “proud.” On the other hand, they may have been influenced by extrabiblical sources, which happened to have a word “sea monster” that sounded exactly like the Hebrew word “proud.” No telling at this late date.
So my inclination is to go with the King James (minus the if), but either way – with or without the sea monster – I still don’t know what this verse means! Apparently neither does anybody else. To be fair, Job is poetry, and it can be difficult to know what a poem in written in your mother tongue means, let alone one written several thousand years ago in a dead language.
The book of Job is 42 chapters long, and more than 39 chapters are devoted to monologues. Job and his friends just sit there and talk at each other, without, as near as I can tell, a whole lot of listening. Certainly no one changes his theological position in Chs. 3 - 37. You've probably figured out by now that if I had written the book of Job, it would be a lot shorter - not as good, but shorter.
Zophar says, "Jo-ob! The reason God is prosecutor, jury, and judge is that he knows what's going on! If you are suffering, it's because God knows you are a sinner. Sign a confession, and he'll give you a pardon."
Copyright 2010 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
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errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
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