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But because it is heavier[a] than the sand[b] of the sea,
that is why my words have been wild.[c]
For the arrows[d] of the Almighty[e] are within me;
my spirit[f] drinks their poison;[g]
God’s sudden terrors[h] are arrayed against[i] me.

Complaints Reflect Suffering

“Does the wild donkey[j] bray[k] when it is near grass?[l]
Or[m] does the ox bellow[n] over its fodder?[o]

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  1. Job 6:3 tn E. Dhorme (Job, 76) notes that כִּי־עַתָּה (ki ʿattah) has no more force than “but”; and that the construction is the same as in 17:4; 20:19-21; 23:14-15. The initial clause is causative, and the second half of the verse gives the consequence (“because”…“that is why”). Others take 3a as the apodosis of v. 2, and translate it “for now it would be heavier…” (see A. B. Davidson, Job, 43).
  2. Job 6:3 sn The point of the comparison with the sand of the sea is that the sand is immeasurable. So the grief of Job cannot be measured.
  3. Job 6:3 tn The verb לָעוּ (laʿu) is traced by E. Dhorme (Job, 76) to a root לָעָה (laʿah), cognate to an Arabic root meaning “to chatter.” He shows how modern Hebrew has a meaning for the word “to stammer out.” But that does not really fit Job’s outbursts. The idea in the context is rather that of speaking wildly, rashly, or charged with grief. This would trace the word to a hollow or geminate word and link it to Arabic “talk wildly” (see D. J. A. Clines, Job [WBC], 158). In the older works the verb was taken from a geminate root meaning “to suck” or “to swallow” (cf. KJV), but that yields a very difficult sense to the line.
  4. Job 6:4 sn Job uses an implied comparison here to describe his misfortune—it is as if God had shot poisoned arrows into him (see E. Dhorme, Job, 76-77 for a treatment of poisoned arrows in the ancient world).
  5. Job 6:4 sn Job here clearly states that his problems have come from the Almighty, which is what Eliphaz said. But whereas Eliphaz said Job provoked the trouble by his sin, Job is perplexed because he does not think he did.
  6. Job 6:4 tn Most commentators take “my spirit” as the subject of the participle “drinks.” The NEB does not; it follows the older versions to say that the poison “drinks up (or “soaks in”) the spirit.” The image of the poisoned arrow represents the calamity or misfortune from God, which is taken in by Job’s spirit and enervates him.
  7. Job 6:4 tn The LXX translators knew that a liquid should be used with the verb “drink,” but they took the line to be “whose violence drinks up my blood.” For the rest of the verse they came up with, “whenever I am going to speak they pierce me.”
  8. Job 6:4 tn The word translated “sudden terrors” is found only here and in Ps 88:16 [17]. G. R. Driver notes that the idea of suddenness is present in the root, and so renders this word as “sudden assaults” (“Problems in the Hebrew text of Job,” VTSup 3 [1955]: 73).
  9. Job 6:4 tn The verb עָרַךְ (ʿarakh) means “to set in battle array.” The suffix on the verb is dative (see GKC 369 §117.x). Many suggestions have been made for changing this word. These seem unnecessary since the MT pointing yields a good meaning: but for the references to these suggestions, see D. J. A. Clines, Job (WBC), 158. H. H. Rowley (Job [NCBC], 59), nonetheless, follows the suggestion of Driver that connects it to a root meaning “wear me down.” This change of meaning requires no change in the Hebrew text. The image is of a beleaguering army; the host is made up of all the terrors from God. The reference is to the terrifying and perplexing thoughts that assail Job (A. B. Davidson, Job, 44).
  10. Job 6:5 tn There have been suggestions to identify this animal as something other than a wild donkey, but the traditional interpretation has been confirmed (see P. Humbert, “En marge du dictionnaire hébraïque,” ZAW 62 [1950]: 199-207).
  11. Job 6:5 tn The verb נָהַק (nahaq, “bray”) occurs in Arabic and Aramaic and only in Job 30:7 in Hebrew, where it refers to unfortunate people in the wilderness who utter cries like the hungry wild donkey.
  12. Job 6:5 sn In this brief section Job indicates that it would be wiser to seek the reason for the crying than to complain of the cry. The wild donkey will bray when it finds no food (see Jer 14:6).
  13. Job 6:5 tn The construction forms a double question (אִםהֲ, haʾim) but not to express mutually exclusive questions in this instance. Instead, it is used to repeat the same question in different words (see GKC 475 §150.h).
  14. Job 6:5 tn Most translations have “low” (ASV, ESV, Holman, KJV, NASB); a few have “bellow” ( CEB, NIV, NLV). The verb is rare but cognate languages suggest a loud sound (e.g. Syriac “to scream” Ugaritic “to roar,” see HALOT 199). The rhetorical question expects a “no” answer and context suggests that the (unexpected) sound would convey discontent or complaint.
  15. Job 6:5 tn Rather than grass or hay, this is mixed grain fodder prepared for domesticated animals (cf. also Akkadian ballu; CAD B 63-64).

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