farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Thu Apr 10 00:41:35 EDT 2008
My reason for taking NHM in Job 42:6 as a piel rather than a niphal was
because I had assumed that the meaning of "comfort" was isolated to that
binyan. However, reading Parunak (1975) reveals that (a) although the
meaning of "comfort" is consistently attached to the piel (the piel
never having the meaning of "repent"), it (b) nevertheless also appears
in the niphal with the meaning of "comfort".
HALOT I take it is mistaken in attaching reflexive semantics to the
niphal since Boyd (1993) has convincingly demonstrated that the niphal
is middle-passive. As a middle verb, the agent of action need not be
explicitly specified. Hence if NHM in Job 42:6 is a niphal the agent of
Job's comfort is unspecified, but it is undoubtedly God who has brought
In terms of the internal coherence of the book and how this relates to
whether Job has a need to repent of something or not, let me make a few
1. The prologue sets forth a dispute between Satan and God, where Satan
accusation is that Job only shows God allegiance because of the good
things God gives him.
2. Satan's attack therefore is in the scheme of the book firstly against
God and then secondarily and derivatively against Job.
3. However, for Satan to demonstrate the truth of his accusation, he
must demonstrate in the life of Job that Job only trusts God because of
the good things he gets. Hence the way Satan's attack against God plays
itself out is in attacking Job.
4. For God's claim that Job trusts him for who he is and not for what he
gets out of him to prove true, Job must do essentially that: accept God
5. Hence the way Satan's attack against Job plays out is in a second
struggle between Job and God, i.e. will Job accept God without blessings?
6. The outcome of this struggle settles the first dispute between Satan
and God (cf. Kline 1985).
7. With this setting in place, the book logically moves to the chapters
of theophany, where God does not so much appear as judge (the storm
indicative of theophany rather than judgement) but as a profound wisdom
teacher (cf. von Rad 1955). The legal nature of the book means that
God's speech is couched in the language of contention and dispute, where
God asks Job to (metaphorically) prepare himself for a belt-wrestling
match to finally settle matters (38:3; 40:7). The wrestling match is a
wrestle, however, of wisdom: on the earth (38:4-21), in the sky
(38:22-38), and amongst animals (38:39-39:30), interestingly seeming to
follow for the most part the creative order of Gen 1 (Kline 1962: 487a).
The bout then takes a second round (40:6-41:26(41:34). It is interesting
to note that God does not correct Job as such; rather, he demonstrates
that Job is human and he is God and that he has spoken of things beyond
his knowledge. Nevertheless, though Job has spoken of things beyond his
knowledge, God does not state that what Job said was wrong but that he
had spoken rightly about him (42:7,8). God here is intent not upon
giving answers and correction to Job so much as to demonstrate that he
is God -- all-knowing and all-wise -- and Job is human -- limited in
understanding and wisdom.
8. It is then into this setting that Job states what he does in 42:6.
God has responded to him not with answers but with questions that
demonstrate that Job is human and God is God, that Job will never fully
comprehend the intricacies of everything since he is a creature and not
the creator. With this impressed upon him, the dispute between God and
Job -- the dispute which which will settle the primary dispute between
Satan and God -- comes into sharp focus: will Job accept God for who he
is and not because of the good things he can get from him?
9. Job 42:6 is therefore the resolution of the disputes, where Job
humbly accepts God even in the condition of "dust and ash". There are
neither forthcoming blessings at this stage nor promises of such -- only
the revelation of God which has provided no real answers, but Job still
has the courage to entrust himself to the comfort of God where his only
immediate future still would seem to be one of "dust and ash". Job here
essentially demolishes satan's accusation and settles the dispute
between satan and God decisively in God's favour.
I hope this brief summary of my take on the workings of the book is
helpful. Actually, I was reading something of Dale Ralph Davis' not long
back where he was discussing Job and in a long footnote he presented the
same analysis as I have of 42:6 where the verb here is "comfort" rather
than "repent". Independently we've come to the same conclusion. This
does not make what we say right, as the tide of interpretive tradition
is against us; but it does lend itself to consideration.
Kline, Meredith G. 1962. “Job.” Pages 459-490 in The Wycliffe Bible
Commentary. Edited by Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison.
Kline, Meredith G. 1985. “Trial by Ordeal.” Pages 81-93 in Through
Christ’s Word: A Festschrift for Dr. Philip E. Hughes. Edited by W.
Robert Godfrey and Jesse L. Boyd, III. Philipsbury: Presbyterian and
von Rad, Gerhard. 1955. "Hiob XXXVIII und die Altägyptische Weisheit."
Pages 293-301 in Wisdom in Israel and the Ancient Near East: Presented
to Harold Henry Rowley. Edited by Martin Noth and David W. Thomas.
VTSupp 3. Leiden: Brill.
Ps. I assume you are the same Stephen Shead who has wriiten a phd thesis
entitled "Radical Frame Semantics and Biblical Hebrew: Exploring Lexical
Semantics". I couple of months ago I downloaded the thesis from Sydney
Uni's website to read. Finally, someone has brought Construction Grammar
-- but not just Construction Grammar, Radical Construction Grammar -- to
the analysis of Biblical Hebrew. Your thesis is a refreshing read indeed!
> Hi David,
> I too enjoyed your article, and am intrigued by your possible inclusio
> and 42:6). But (as I'm lecturing on Job at the moment) I'd like your
> response to a couple of things from your posts:
> (1) All other occurrences of NXM in the book (apart from the participle in
> 16:2) have a direct object - in every case an object pronoun, except 29:25.
> In 42:6 there is no direct object. (Incidentally, the participle is a
> special case. In my view one of the functions of non-finite verb forms
> is to
> allow the speaker to focus on the action itself, in an abstract way,
> needing to instantiate participants in the action. The lack of an object is
> entirely normal.)
> Moreover, according to HALOT the niphal of NXM frequently means "console
> oneself, let oneself be consoled". My question here is: Even accepting your
> interpretation, why do you insist on an intransitive piel rather than a
> niphal? You mentioned you don't have time to see whether there is any other
> instance of an intransitive piel NXM in the MT. I don't either (!), but
> a quick scan it seems very consistently transitive to me.
> Apart from the niphal, HALOT gives two other options for a
> NXM: pual ("become consoled") and hithpael ("console oneself").
> (2) Your statement that "Job has nothing as such to repent of" is
> contentious at best. The immediate context of 42:6 is the divine speeches,
> and each of YHWH's speeches opens with an accusation, at least implicitly
> (38:2; 40:8; also possibly 40:2). Indeed, you've skirted the most
> interesting and intriguing question of all: how to reconcile those
> statements with God's statement to Eliphaz in 42:7. I take it that at least
> one factor in trying to hold them together is the fact that in chs 38-41
> YHWH is dealing only with Job and his complaints, whereas in 42:7ff he is
> judging between Job and the friends in their dispute (cf. Habel's
> identification of two conflicts in the dialogues: between Job and the
> friends, and between Job and God).
> But 38:2 and 40:8 very clearly give Job something contextually-salient to
> "regret" or be "remorseful" about.
> (3) I'm not convinced that these renderings are an attempt to "tone down"
> the meaning of NXM. I would have thought the normal "repent (of blatant
> iniquity)" word would be $UW, as in Job 36:10. "Regret" and "be remorseful"
> seem to fit much of the usage of NXM. But even translating it "repent"
> a problem, in my view: it depends OF WHAT Job is repenting. On the
> traditional view, it would be his "words without knowledge". Clearly, given
> 42:7, this is negligible compared with the attitude of the friends.
> Stephen Shead
> Centro de Estudios Pastorales
> Santiago, Chile
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