Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Curse God and Die"

     Yahweh allowed the adversary, Satan, to afflict Job  with  severe  boils  or skin
inflammation from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. It  was  so  severe
that  Job "took  a  piece  of  pottery  to  scrape  himself,  and   he  sat in the ashes."
(Job 2:7-8) Job's suffering was great!

     In   response  to  Job's  suffering,  his  wife  said, "Do  you  still  maintain  your
integrity? Curse  God  and  die." (Job 2:9)  The Hebrew  word translated "curse" or
"renounce"  (ASV)  is barak  used  in  the  Old Testament  in  the  sense  of  "bless."
"Bless" and "curse/renounce" are opposite in meaning, so why is it translated "bless"
in the KJV, ASV, RSV, NIV, NRSV, and the ESV?

     First, it is obvious that Job's wife was not "literally" saying "Bless God and die."
Job's response to her clearly indicates this. He said, "You speak as one of the foolish
women speaks. What? Shall we receive good from the hand of God, and shall we
not receive evil?" (Job 2:10) The word "foolish" translates  nabal. It is the strongest
Hebrew word for folly. It means more than merely the lack of discretion or wisdom.
It also means contemptible or impious. His wife's advice is utter foolishness! Her
suggestion was morally and religiously irresponsible!

     Second, based on Job's response to her, and the fact that his response was deemed
appropriate by Yahweh, shows that  she  was not using barak  in  the sense of bless.
After Job rebuked his wife, the text says, "In all this Job did not sin with his lips."
(Job 2:10, ASV)

     Job's wife uses barak euphemistically, therefore, it means to "curse or renounce"
in this context. It is important to think through the text, and to always pay careful
attention to the context in order to determine how words are used. Merely looking
in a Hebrew or Greek lexicon and assigning a definition to a word does not always
lead  to  accurate  interpretation. Most  words  have a range of meaning. The best
lexicons define words on the basis of how the words are used in the ancient literature.
Glossing is not necessarily defining.

                                                                                                               R. Daly
Copyright 2015


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