Job 10 – “Job’s Third Speech – Part II”

hands_clay

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
In chapter 10 Job asserts his innocence, audaciously accuses God of injustice, and demands to be left alone. Once again Job’s sole wish is to die.

II. Photo
Job questions why God, who treats him unfairly, created him in the first place: “Consider that You fashioned me like clay; Will You then turn me back into dust?” (v. 9)

III. Important Verses
v. 1: I am disgusted with life; I will give rein to my complaint, Speak in the bitterness of my soul.
v. 8: Your hands shaped and fashioned me, Then destroyed every part of me.
v. 9: Consider that You fashioned me like clay; Will You then turn me back into dust?
vv. 12-14: You bestowed on me life and care; Your providence watched over my spirit. Yet these things You hid in Your heart; I know that You had this in mind: To watch me when I sinned And not clear me of my iniquity
vv. 20-22: My days are few, so desist! Leave me alone, let me be diverted a while Before I depart — never to return — For the land of deepest gloom; A land whose light is darkness, All gloom and disarray, Whose light is like darkness.

IV. Outline
1. Opening statement
2-17. Job provokes God
18-22. Job’s petition to be left alone

V. Comment
In chapter 10 Job audaciously accuses God of cruelty and even questions His motives for creating man. In terms of structure, Job begins with an opening remark (v. 1, cf. 7:11), proceeds to provoke God (v. 2-17), and then demands to be left alone (vv. 20-22). In terms of tone, this speech might be Job’s harshest yet; he confidently tells God that He is unjust.

In v. 7 Job accuses God of assault, “You know that I am not guilty, And that there is none to deliver from Your hand.” Clines contrasts this statement with those of the preceding chapters (p. 247): “Job here reaches a new milestone in his confrontation with God: while in chap. 3 he laid no claim to guiltlessness, and in chaps. 6–7 he had stressed his unhappiness more than his innocence (though cf 6:10c, 30), in this speech he not only vigorously protests his innocence (9:15, 20, 21), but here—for the first time—asserts that God also knows that he is innocent. It would be much more comfortable to believe that God had overlooked his suffering, or even that he had made a mistake about Job’s innocence; to believe that God knows he is innocent and punishes him all the same is to feel utterly trapped. To an absent-minded or mistaken God one could appeal, but from one who knows what he is doing there is indeed ‘no escape.’” In other words, in v. 7 Job says what has hitherto been left unsaid, namely that God is unjust.

In vv. 8-12 Job describes how God created him. Yet, like his use of the “hymnic praise” of the previous chapter (9:5-10), with these words Job is not praising God. In fact, he is impugning God’s motives for creating man: “Your hands shaped and fashioned me, Then destroyed every part of me. Consider that You fashioned me like clay; Will You then turn me back into dust?” (vv. 8-9) For another account of a God creating a single person (besides for the creation of Adam, cf. Gen 2:7) see Ps. 139:13-16: “It was You who created my conscience; You fashioned me in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am awesomely, wondrously made; Your work is wonderful; I know it very well. My frame was not concealed from You when I was shaped in a hidden place, knit together in the recesses of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed limbs; they were all recorded in Your book; in due time they were formed, to the very last one of them.” Also see Ps. 119:73, “Your hands made me and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn Your commandments.”

Just as he did in his two previous speeches, Job ends with a reference to death (vv. 20-22): “My days are few, so desist! Leave me alone, let me be diverted a while Before I depart — never to return — For the land of deepest gloom; A land whose light is darkness, All gloom and disarray, Whose light is like darkness.” In regards to what makes this reference unique, Clines writes (p. 251): “Here the particular characteristic of death is not that it provides a release from pain (as in 3:20–22) or as a permanent hiding from God (as in 7:21b), but that it envelops one in darkness (see H. Ringgren, TDOT 5:255–56). Job has cried out for darkness (“Would that I had died before any eye had seen me,” v 18b); he knows that darkness is for the moment denied him. But he desires the darkness; life before death can be “comfortable” only if God’s gaze can be turned away from him (v 20b), if he can secrete himself from the glare of the divine attention or rather inquisition.”

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)
Clines, Proverns 1-20 (Word Biblical Commentary)
Photo taken from  http://www.treesaskatoon.com/images/images/hands_clay.jpg

Leave a Reply