Digging deeper comparing Job 1:7 to 2:2

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Digging deeper comparing Job 1:7 to 2:2

Postby Galena » Tue Sep 22, 2015 2:50 pm

There are occasions when I latch on to a scripture where it could be saying something that is not actually being said. This happens in any language, but takes skill to convey with the written word. How do you provide a subtle nuance or sarcasm or facial expression in writing, this is the skill of the writer. I think I am seeing that when I compare these two verses in Job 1:7 and 2:2 .

1:7 = וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־הַשָּׂטָן מֵאַיִן תָּבֹא וַיַּעַן הַשָּׂטָן אֶת־יְהוָה וַיֹּאמַר מִשּׁוּט בָּאָרֶץ וּמֵהִתְהַלֵּךְ בָּהּ
2:2 = וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־הַשָּׂטָן אֵי מִזֶּה תָּבֹא וַיַּעַן הַשָּׂטָן אֶת־יְהוָה וַיֹּאמַר מִשֻּׁט בָּאָרֶץ וּמֵהִתְהַלֵּךְ בָּהּ

The subject concerns both verses where it says (in English) essentially the same thing - "..from where have you come.."

Verse 1:7 without doubt asks "...from where have you come...?" and I put a question mark here on purpose because it is a question (of course God knows from where the accuser has come from otherwise He would not be God), but the point is that it is a direct straightforward question. Job 1:7 is clear then.

My attention was diverted when I read the same question in Job 2:2, and I did not believe, as is the case in poetry, that this was worded in a way to avoid repetition, certainly not. My attention was also drawn to the fact that in one other place in scripture we have this in Exodus 4:2 where God asks Moses as to what is in his hand. What is important to remember here is that the accuser appears for the first time in 1:7, but in 2:2 he appears after his failed attempt to get Job to curse God. I emphatically do not deny that this means "...from where have you come...?" My opinion is that the writer cleverly conveyed another meaning, a nuance a visual undertone to this:

Some considerations first:

1. אֵי is also an exclamation of woe there, an announcement of surprise, even a sarcastic surprise if you like, I did read that this particle is also a contraction from אֵיך hence its meaning as a negative particle as well.
2. מה however can also, besides its main function introducing a negative sentence, express wonder or anger or a ridicule how/why but in this context will be strengthened by the particle זֶּה (or its feminine).
3. There is the concept of hurried speech, which I learned from Robert Alter who gives examples but I can not find them right now, however I remember one particular trick for this and it involves a quick shortening of what grammatically speaking should be two words or a complete word shortened. I am seeing the מִזֶּה as a shortening from מה זֶּה
4. In Exodus 4:2, God is definitely asking Moses a question, but please consider Exodus 3:18; Moses therefore has just contradicted God in 4:2 (innocently I admit); God had given a lengthy speech and Moses's question in 4:2 exacted a friendly but almost tiring, impatient answer, as though Moses had hardly finished what he was saying and God immediately answered. (we as parents do the same thing with our childrens' comments and arguing don't we?)

In view of the above and the unusual expression and the fact that I believe every word has its place and every letter its function (just as in English poetics), God, in asking: "...from where have you come?" is wrapped in an impatient (hurried?) undertone mingled with a sigh of sarcastic what are you here for this time? You see, in the first meeting God asked a genuine question, but for goodness sake why would He ask that again? God's question this time is not a question, it is an exclamation with a sort of raised eyebrows, (I almost detect a ridicule but I do not know if this is possible), but it is all framed in a question which I believe the writer has just conveyed. This what I read. I am interested in what others might say now. Thankyou.
Chris Watts

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