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The Brevity of Life

“Does not humanity have hard service[a] on earth?
Are not their days also like the days of a hired man?[b]
Like a servant[c] longing for the evening shadow,[d]
and like a hired man looking for[e] his wages,[f]

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  1. Job 7:1 tn The word צָבָא (tsavaʾ) is actually “army”; it can be used for the hard service of military service as well as other toil. As a military term it would include the fixed period of duty (the time) and the hard work (toil). Job here is considering the lot of all humans, not just himself.
  2. Job 7:1 tn The שָׂכִיר (sakhir) is a hired man, either a man who works for wages, or a mercenary soldier (Jer 46:21). The latter sense may be what is intended here in view of the parallelism, although the next verse seems much broader.
  3. Job 7:2 tn This term עֶבֶד (ʿeved) is the servant or the slave. He is compelled to work through the day in the heat, but he longs for evening when he can rest from the slavery.
  4. Job 7:2 tn The expression יִשְׁאַף־צֵל (yishʾaf tsel, “longing for the evening shadow”) could also be taken as a relative clause (without the relative pronoun): “as a servant [who] longs for the evening shadow” (see GKC 487 §155.g). In either case, the expressions in v. 2 emphasize the point of the comparison, which will be summed up in v. 3.
  5. Job 7:2 tn The two verbs in this verse stress the eager expectation and waiting. The first, שָׁאַף (shaʾaf), means “to long for; to desire”; and the second, קָוָה (qavah), has the idea of “to hope for; to look for; to wait.” The words would give the sense that the servant or hired man had the longing on his mind all day.
  6. Job 7:2 tn The word פֹּעַל (poʿal) means “work.” But here the word should be taken as a metonymy, meaning the pay for the work that he has done (compare Jer 22:13).