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THE POETRY OF JOB



THE POETRY OF JOB

(* APR 6 1911
GEORGE H. GILBERT, Ph1)?^^L %i^'^%

Professor of New Testament Literature and Interpretation
in the Chicago Theological Seminary



"A NOBLE BOOK, EVERY man's BOOK." — Carlyle



CHICAGO
A. C. McCLURG AND COMPANY

1889



Copyright

By a. C. McCldrg and Co.

A.D. 1889



TO

Professor Franz Delitzsch,
Prof. Charles A. Briggs and Prof. Francis Brown,

This little volume
is respectfully and affectionately inscribed.



PKEFACE.



IT has pleased God to send His truth to us
by way of human minds and hearts, permit-
ting the hghts and shadows of earthly experi-
ence to mingle with the radiance from His
throne. His truth has never been published
on earth save in an earthly garb. Even as
Christ, the supreme and absolute Word of the
Father, took upon Him the seed of Abraham
and tabernacled in the flesh, lookmg out upon
life and death and immortality tlu^ough human
eyes, so the word from heaven m olden times
had its earthly side, its tabernacle of flesh. It
is indeed the word of God, but it is none the
less truly the word of man. We honor the
Lord by recognizing this fact, by accepting the
methods of His tuition, and we also make a
larger helpfulness and enjoyment of His word
possible. The Bible has resources adapted to
exert a beneficent influence which are only thus
reached. For it not only contains a revela-
tion of Divine truth and grace which infinitely



viii PREFACE.

transcends the best dreams of the classic world,
but it is also the treasure-house of poetry whose
literary excellence ought to share the highest
honors with Homer, with Sophocles and Sappho,
and the bards of later ages. The following
treatise, while aimmg, especially m the trans-
lation, to make the spiritual lessons of Job
plainer and more effectual, would call attention
to the surprismg beauty of the human elements
in this portion of the Bible. There is little
danger that, by so doing, the Divine teaching
would receive less honor and become less dear ;
on the contrary, such attention would in the
main lead to a more appreciative estimate of
the heavenly message. It does not detract
from the beauty of the rainbow to know that
it did not come down out of the skies perfect
and complete, but that only the wonderful light
came down, and found in our eartlily atmos-
phere the lenses which could make its hidden
riches visible to our mortal eyes. It is still
God's bow, and though it should be arched
through human tears.

In studying the Book of Job as poetry, the
first and most difficult duty was to render the
poem into English. It has been my endeavor
to make this as perfect as the present state of



PREFACE. ix

Semitic studies in general and of tlie poem
of Job in particular would permit. There
are words in the poem whose meaning is still
uncertain, and many passages whose thought
is more or less obscure. As it lay outside of
the purpose of this essay to give the grounds
of the translation from step to step, it may be
proper to say that the interpretation here given,
in the case of each word and sentence in the
poem, has been adopted only after repeated
and careful examination of all the philological
evidence, and only after a repeated and careful
examination of each detail in the light of the
manifest aim and thought of the poem as a
whole. Every conclusion has been reviewed
and tested several times. The text that has
been translated is that edited by L. Baer and
Franz Delitzsch, Leipzig, 1875.

With regard to the form of the translation
three remarks should be made. First, the trans-
lation is rhythmical, or, at least, constantly aims
to be. Not metrical, for all that is claimed
for the original is a carefully preserved rhjrthm.
It is a mistake, I think, to endeavor to render
the poem into metrical verse ; but any translar
tion of it that aims at perfection must be
rhythmical. As we are not satisfied with a



X PREFACE.

prose translation of the Faust or the Divme
Comedy, so we should not be satisfied with a
prose translation of Job.

Second, this translation aims to give the
particular rhythmical movement of the orig-
inal. The Hebrew lines in Job generally have
three tones, the only important exceptions
being the two-toned and the four-toned lines,
about fifty-nine of the former and eighty-five
of the latter.* The number of syllables belong-
ing to the sphere of a single tone varies con-
stantly, producing what would be designated,
according to our canons of meter, a mingling'
of iambic, trochaic, dactylic, and anapaestic
feet ; but the rhythm is not often disturbed by
this freedom. The present translation avails
itself of the same liberty that is found in the
original. The three-toned Hebrew lines have
been rendered into three-toned English lines,
and the rhythm of the two-toned and four-
toned lines also has been preserved. As an
example of three-toned lines, we may take
this :

" The wicked have ceased there from troubling,

And there are the weary at rest."

[Cha2J. iii. 17.]

* Vide Professor Briggs's "Biblical Study," Chapter ix.



PREFACE. xi

Examples of the four-toned and two-toned lines
are the following :

" The wicked man is in pain all his days,
And the sum of the years reserved for the tyrant."

[Chap. XV. 20.}

" My spirit is broken,
My days are extinct.
The grave-yard is mine."

[Chap. xvii. 1.]

Where it was not possible to give the thought
of the original closely, and at the same time
secure a flowmg rhythm, the rhythm has been
sacrificed to the thought. But I trust this has
not often been found necessary.

Third, no attempt has been made to divide
the poem into stanzas, inasmuch as it still
seems very doubtful whether a regular stroph-
ical arrangement belonged to the original.
The names of God have been transliterated or
translated, according to the requirements of the
English line : a freedom which, in poetry at
least, should need no apology.

For the study of the poetical conceptions of
the Book of Job the literature is exceedingly
meagre. The work of Bishop Lowth, De Sacra
HebrcGorum Poesi^ 1753, and that of Herder,
Der Geist der Hehraeischen Poesle, 1782-3,



xii PREFACE.

contain appreciative suggestions, though neither
gives special study to the poem of Job. It has
been my aim in this essay to contribute some-
what to the interpretation of the Book of Job
as poetry. This greatest product of the Hebrew
mind has been and still is a more closely sealed
book than is any one of the illustrious poems of
history ; yet, surely, considered even as a liter-
ary creation, it should be ranked with the
highest efforts of human genius.

G. H. G.
Chicago Theological Seminakt,
May, 1889.



CONTENTS.



Part I.
A RHYTHMICAL TRANSLATION OF JOB.



CHAPTER

I-II. THE PROLOGUE

III. job's curse .



PAGE
17
23



THE FIRST CYCLE OF THE POEM.

IV-V. eliphaz

VI-VII. JOB

VIII. BILDAD

IX-X. JOB

XI. ZOPHAR

XII-XIV. JOB



THE SECOND CYCLE OF THE POEM.

XV. ELIPHAZ

XVI-XVII. JOB . .

XVIII. BILDAD

XIX. JOB . .

XX. ZOPHAR

XXI. JOB . .

THE THIRD CYCLE OF THE POEM.

XXII. ELIPHAZ

XXIII-XXIV. JOB . .

XXV. BILDAD

XXVI-XXVIII. JOB

XXIX-XXXI. THE SOLILOQUY OF JOB . .
XXXII-XXXVII. ELIHU

xxxviii-XLii. Jehovah's address and job's

ANSWERS

XLII. THE EPILOGUE



G2
G4
08
68
74
82

96
107



xiv CONTENTS.

Pakt II.
INTERPRETATION OF THE POEM.

CHAPTER PAGE

I. A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF JOB Ill

II. NATURE IN THE POEM OF JOB . . . 137

III. THE ANIMAL KINGDOM IN THE POEM OF

JOB IGO

IV. HUMAN LIFE IN TPIE POEM OF JOB . . 179
V. THE poet's CONCEPTIONS OF GOD . . 203



PART I.
A RHYTHMICAL TRANSLATION OF JOB



THE POETRY OF JOB.



PART L
A RHYTHMICAL TRANSLATION OF JOB.



THE PROLOGUE.
CHAPTER I.

THERE was a man in the land of Uz, by tlie
name of Job, and that man was blameless
and upright, and one who feared God and turned
away from evil. Now there were born imto
hmi seven sons and three daughters. And his
substance was seven thousand sheep, and tlu'ee
thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen,
and ^YQ hundred she-asses, and very many
servants ; and that man was greater than all
the sons of the East. Now his sons used to go
and make a feast in the house of each one on
his day, and they used to send and call theh
three sisters to eat and to drink with them,
o] And it came to pass, when the days of the

Note. — The Prolo^e, \vitli the exception of chapter i. 21,
also the Introductory verse of many chapters, together Avith
chapter xxxii. 1-5, and the Epilogue, chapter xlii. 7-17, are in
prose.

2



18 THE POETRY OF JOB.

feast had circled round, Job sent and sanctified
them ; and he arose early in the morning, and
offered burnt-offerings according to the number
of them all, for Job said. Perhaps my children
have sinned, and have parted with God in their
heart. Thus did Job continually.

Now the day arrived when the sons of God
came to present themselves before Jehovah,
and the Adversary also came among them.
And Jehovah said unto the Adversary, Whence
comest thou? And the Adversary answered
Jehovah and said. From going to and fro on
the earth, and from walking about upon it.
And Jehovali said unto the Adversary, Hast
thou considered my servant Job? for there is
none like him on the earth, a man blameless
and upright, one who feareth God and turneth
away from evil. Then the Adversary answered
Jehovali and said. Doth Job fear God for
lo] naught ? Hast not Thou thyself set a hedge
about him, and about his house, and about all
that he hath, on every side ? Thou hast blessed
the work of his hands, and his substance has
increased in the land. But put forth now Thy
hand and touch all that he hath: verily, he
will renounce Thee unto Thy face. And Jeho-
vah said unto the Adversary, Behold, all that



A RHYTHMICAL TRANSLATION. 19

he hatli is in thy power : only against him
thou shalt not put forth thy hand. And
the Adversary went out from the presence of
Jehovah.

Now the day came when his sons and his
daughters were eating and were drinking wine
in the house of their eldest brother. And a
messenger came to Job and said, The oxen
were ploughing, and the she-asses were feeding
15] beside them, and the Sabseans made an at-
tack and carried them away, and the young
men they smote with the edge of the sword ;
and I escaped, only I alone, to tell thee.
While this one was speaking, another came
and said. The fire of God fell from heaven,
and kindled upon the sheep and the young men,
and consumed them ; and I escaped, only I
alone, to tell thee. While this one was speak-
ing, another came and said. The Chaldseans
made out three bands, and came against the
camels, and carried them away, and the young
men they smote with the edge of the sword ;
and I escaped, only I alone, to tell thee. While
this one was speaking, another came and said.
Thy sons and thy daughters were eatmg and
were drinking wine in the house of their eldest
brother ; and, behold, a great wind came from



20 THE POETRY OF JOB,

beyond the desert, and smote tlie four corners
of tlie house, and it fell upon the young people,
and they died ; and I escaped, only I alone, to
20] tell thee. And Job rose up, and rent his
garment, and shaved his head, then fell upon
the ground and worshipped.
And he said :

Naked came I from my mother's womb,
And naked shall thither return :
Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken ;
The name of Jehovah be blessed !

In all this Job smned not, neither ascribed
f oUy to God.

CHAPTER 11.

NOW the day arrived when the sons of God
came to present themselves before Jeho-
vah, and the Adversary also came among them to
present himself before Jehovah. And Jehovah
said unto the Adversary, Whence comest thou ?
And the Adversary answered Jehovah and
said. From going to and fro on the earth, and
from wallving about upon it. And Jehovah
said unto the Adversary, Hast thou consid-
ered my servant Job ? for there is none like
him on the earth, a man blameless and upright.



A RHYTHMICAL TRANSLATION. 21

one who fearetli God and turnetli away from
evil ; and still he holdeth fast his integrity : so
thou hast moved me against him, to destroy
him, without cause. Then the Adversary
answered Jehovah and said. Skin for skin, and
5] all that a man hath will he give for his life.
But put forth now Thy hand, and touch his
bone and his flesh : verily, unto Thy face will
he renounce Thee. And Jehovah said unto
the Adversary, Behold, he is in thy hand : only
his life preserve.

Then the Adversary went forth from the
presence of Jehovali, and smote Job with a
grievous sore from the sole of his foot to his
crown. And he took him a potsherd with
which to scratch himself, sitting in the midst of
the ashes. And his wife said unto him. Dost
thou cling to thine integrity still ? Renounce
10] God, and die ! Then he said unto her. As
one of the foolish women speaketh, so dost thou
speak. The good shall we receive from God,
and the evil shall we not receive ? In all this
Job smned not with his lips.

Now the three friends of Job heard of all
this evil that had come upon him, and they
came each from his place, Eliphaz the Teman-
ite. and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the



22 THE POETRY OF JOB.

Naamathite, and they met together, as agreed,
to come and lament for him and comfort hun.
And they lifted up their eyes afar off, and they
recognized him not ; then they lifted up their
voice and wept. And each man rent his mantle,
and they scattered dust upon their heads to-
ward heaven. Then they sat down with him
on the earth seven days and seven nights, no
one spealdng unto him a word, because they
saw that the pain was very great.



A RHYTHMICAL TRANSLATION. 23

JOB'S CURSE.
CHAPTER in.

AFTERAVAKD Job opened his moiitli and
cursed his day. And Job answered and

said :

O PERISH the day in wliich I was born,
And the night that said, A man is conceived .
That day— O let it be darkness!
May El(5ah not seek it from heaven,
And o'er it let brightness not sliine !
5 May darkness and gloom redeem it!
Let a cloud make its dwelling upon it!
Affright it the dark'nings of day!
That night— let obscurity seize it!
In the days of the year let it joy not,
Nor come into the number of months.
Behold, that night— be it barren!
A joy-cry enter it not!
Let the cursers of day curse it,
Those ready to stir up the dragon!
Be darkened the stars of its dawmng;
Let it wait for the light, and there be none,
And dawn's eyelashes may it not see!
10 For it shut not the doors of the womb,
And hid not toil from my eyes.
Why could I not die from the womb,
From the womb come forth to expire?
Wherefore did the knees come to meet me.



24 THE POETRY OF JOB.

And why the breasts, that I sucked ?
For now I had lain undisturbed,
I had slept : then should I have rest,
AVith kings and with councillors high,
Who built for themselves mausoleums ;

15 Or with princes possessed of gold,
Who filled up their houses with silver.
As a still-birth, hid, I'd not be ;
As babes who have not seen the light.
The wicked have ceased there from troubling,
And there are the weary at rest.
Together in peace are the captives,
They hear not a taskmaster's voice.
There small and great are the same.
And the servant is free from his lord.

20 Wherefore gives He light to the weary.
And life to the bitter of soul ?
Who hope for death, but there is none,
Wlio dig for it more than for treasure ;
Who joy with joy exceeding.
Who exult when they find a grave ;
To a man whose pathway is hid.
Whom Eldah hath hedged round about.
For instead of my bread my sigh doth come,
And my roarings are poured out like waters.

25 If I sorely fear, it befalls me ;

And that which I dread comes upon me.
I have not peace, or quiet, or rest ;
Yet trouble comes.



.1 RHYTHMICAL TRANSLATION. 25



THE FIRST CYCLE OF THE POEM



A



Eliphaz.
CHAPTER IV.
ND Eliphaz the Temanite answered aiid
said :



SHOULD one venture a word unto thee,

wouldst thou fret ?
But to hold back his words who is able ?
Lo, many hast thou corrected,
And feeble hands hast made strong ;
Him who staggered thy words did restore,
Thou confirmedst the tottering knees :

5 But now unto thee it doth come, and thou f rettest,
It reaches to thee, and thou'rt frightened.
Is not thy true fear thy reliance ;
And thy hope, thine innocent ways ?
Think now, what just one has perished,
And where were the upright cut off ?
As I see, the ploughers of falsehood
And sowers of mischief — they reap it.
By the breath of Eldah they perish,
By the wind of liis anger they vanish.

10 Lion's cry and the voice of the roarer,
And the young lions' teeth are broken.
The strong one dies without prey.
And the whelps of the Honess scatter.



26 THE POETRY OF JOB.

Now a word came stealing upon me,
And my ear caught the murmur thereof
In thoughts from the visions of night,
When falleth on men heavy sleep.
Fear fell upon me and terror,
And caused all my bones to shake.

15 And a wind goes floating before me ;
The hair of my flesh riseth up.
It stands, but I know not its shape ;
A form is before my eyes,
A whisper and voice I hear :
" Can a mortal be juster than God,
Or a man than his Maker more pure !
Behold, in His servants He trusts not.
And chargeth His angels with error :
Much more the clay-house dwellers,
Who have their foundation in dust,
Who are crushed for a moth.

20 From morning till eve they are shattered.
Unnoticed they perish forever.
When their tent-cord within them is loosed,
They die, do they not ? in unwisdom."



CHAPTER V.

r^ ALL now, is there any to hear thee ?
^— ^ And to which holy one wilt thou turn ?
Nay, anger slayeth a fool.
And a simple one passion doth kill.



A RHYTHMICAL TRANSLATION. 27

I myself saw a fool taking root,
And straightway I cursed his abode.
His sons are far distant from help,
And are crushed in the gate, while none saves.
5 Whose harvest the hungry doth eat,
And plucketh it e'en from the thorns,
And a noose doth seize on their wealth.
For sorrow comes not from the dust,
Nor doth trouble spring out of the ground.
Nay, man unto trouble is born.
As the children of flame fly aloft.
Yet I would seek unto El,
And bring my cause unto God,
Who doeth great things, and past searching,
Miraculous deeds without number ;
10 Who dispenseth rain on the earth.
And water sends over the fields.
To set the lowly on high.
And mourners are lifted to freedom ;
Who frustrates the thoughts of the crafty.
That their hands can achieve nothing real ;
Who captures the wise by their craft.
And the plan of the cunning is routed.
By day they light upon darkness.
And at midday they grope as at night.
15 So He saves from their sword-like mouth.
And the poor from the hand of the strong.
So hope doth arise for the weak.
And iniquity shutteth its mouth.



28 THE POETRY OF JOB.

Lo, happy the man whom Eldah corrects,

And th' Ahnighty's reproof do not scorn.

For when He wounds, He binds up ;

He hurts, and His hands do heal.

In six distresses He'll save thee,

And in seven shall touch thee no evil.
20 In famine He saves thee from death,

And in war from the might of the sword.

At the scourge of the tongue thou shalt hide,

Shalt not fear when oppression comes.

Thou shalt laugh at destruction and hunger,

And the beast of the field, fear thou not.

For with stones of the field is thy league.

And with thee the wild beast is at peace.

And thou'lt know that 'tis well with thy tent,

Shalt thy dwelling inspect, nor miss aught ;
25 And shalt know that great is thy seed,

And thine offspring as grass of the earth.

Thou shalt come to the grave in strength,

As a sheaf goeth up in its time.

Lo, this we have searched : thus it is.

Observe it, and know for thyself.



A



A RHYTHMICAL TRANSLATION. 29

Job.
CHAPTER VL
ND Job answered and said :



O THAT fully weighed were my plaint,

And my woe too held up in the scales !

For now it would weigh down the sand of the



seas:



Therefore did my words speak rasldy.

For th' Almighty's arrows are in me,

Whose poison my spirit doth drink ;

God's terrors are ordered against me.
5 Doth a wild ass bray over grass.

Or loweth an ox o'er his fodder ?

Can one eat what is stale, not salted ?

Is there taste in the white of an egg?

My soul refuseth to touch them ;

As the taint of my food are they.

O that my request might come,

And Eldah my hope would grant!

That Eldah would will to crush me,

Loose His hand, and so cut me off !
10 Then should my solace still be —

And I'd joy in pain that He spares not—

That I hid not the Holy One's words.

What's my strength, that I should have hope,

What my end, that I should be calm ?



30 THE POETRY OF JOB.

My strength — is it strength of stones,

Or is the flesh on me brass ?

Or am I not utterly heljDless,

And is not true strength thrust from me ?

Love is due the oppressed from his friend,

Though the fear of th' Ahnighty he leaves.
15 As a brook are my brethren deceitful.

As the bed of vanishing brooks.

Which fail by reason of ice.

While the snow hides itself upon them.

When they are troubled, they vanish ;

Is it hot, they dry up from their place.

The caravans alter their course,

They ascend in the desert, and perish.

The bands out of Tema beheld.

The trav'lers of Sheba longed for them.
20 They blushed because they confided,

They came there, and shame was upon them.

For now ye are like unto it :

Ye see something frightful, and fear.

Is't that I have said. Give to me,

And out of your wealth make me gifts ?

Or rescue me out of distress.

And save me from tyrants' hand ?

Instruct me, and I will be silent ;

Wherein I have erred make me know.
25 How pleasant are straightforward words !

Yet what doth your proving prove ?

Mere words do ye seek to refute ?



A RHYTHMICAL TRANSLATION. 31

But a crazy man's words are the wind's.
Ye would even cast lots o'er an orphan,
And bargain over your friend.
But now be pleased to look on me,
And, indeed, I'd not lie to your face.
Turn now, let there not be a wrong ;
Yea, turn, my right's in it still.
30 Is iniquity under my tongue.
Or cannot my palate tell evil ?

CHAPTER VIL
T T AS not mortal a warfare on earth,
^ ■■• And his days — are they not as a hireling's ?
As a servant who longs for the shadow.
And a hireling who waits for his pay :
So I have received months of ill,
Sad nights have been counted to me.
As I lay me to rest, then I say.
When rise I ? but eve groweth long,
And till dawn I am full of tossings.
5 My flesh is clothed with worms and earth-clods,
My skin groweth hard, and then breaks.
My days fly more swift than a shuttle.
And they vanish away without hope.
Reflect that my life is a breath ;
Not again shall my eye behold good.
Eye that sees me shall see me no more :
Upon me are Thine eyes, and I'm not.
As a cloud melts away and is gone,



32 THE POETRY OF JOB.

So who goes to Shedl shall not rise ;
10 He shall not come again to his house,

And his place shall know him no more.

I also will not hold my peace,

I will speak in my sjiirit's distress,

Will lament in my anguish of soul.

A sea am I, am I a whale,

That a watch Thou should'st set over me ?

When I say that my couch shall console me,

My bed shall ease my complaint ;

Then with dreams Thou dost frighten me sore,

And with visions dost make me afraid.
15 And so my soul prefers strangling, —
Death before my bones !

I loathe it ! I would not live alway :

Cease from me, for vain are my days.

What is man that Thou makest him great,

And settest Thy heart upon him ?

That Thou seekest him morning by morning.

From moment to moment dost prove him ?

How long wilt Thou not look from me,

Not desist till I swallow my spittle ?
20 Have I sinned, what do I to Thee,
Observer of men !

Why hast Thou set me for Thine onset,

That a burden I am to myself ?

Why wilt Thou not pardon my trespass.

And cause my sin to pass by ?

For now I lie down in the dust.

And seekest Thou me, I'll not be.



A RHYTHMICAL TRANSLATION. 33



BiLDAD.

CHAPTER VIII.

AND Bildacl the Shuliite answered and
said;

HOW long wilt thou utter these things,

And thy words be a violent wind ?

As for God, perverteth He judgment,

And th' Almighty pervert what is right ?

If thy children against Him transgressed,

He gave them o'er to their sin.
5 If thou dost seek unto God,


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