Job 10:10, Fleeting Erotica?
The Bible Can't Say THAT!
The Bible is noticeably reticent when it describes the process of procreation and human formation. As the author of Ecclesiastes said, "Just as you do not know how the breath comes to the bones in the mother's womb, so you do not know the work of God, who makes everything" (Ecc. 11:5). The closest glimpse we are given into the process of "embryo formation," outside of Job, is in Ps. 139. The Psalmist, awestruck at God's creativity, says, "For it was you who formed my inward parts (kolyotai--the word is also translated 'kidneys' or, 'reins'); you knit me together in my mother's womb" (139:13). No more detail is given.
Job on Human Formation
Job also uses the same word ("knit") as in Ps. 139:13 to describe God's creative activity, "You clothed me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews (10:11)." But when he talks about the process of formation, in 10:10, rather than the Psalmist's reserve ("you who formed my inward parts"), Job is much more graphic. In five heavily-laden Hebrew words, Job plaintively asks God,
"Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese (Job 10:10)?"
On the one hand, the image is simply biological. The man provides the "milk" and the woman "curdles" the milk "like cheese" in the process of gestation. With this reading Job would be pointing out, albeit in a more dramatic fashion than the Psalmist, the process of human creation.
Job's Visual Words
Yet the vividness of Job's words invites further rumination. The word for "pour out" ('natak' in Hebrew) is also translated "flow" or "pour forth" in a few other instances. Indeed, Job uses it in 3:24 to express the intensity of his groanings ('shag'--translated the same in Ps. 22:1; 32:3) as his pain returns to him. The groanings "flow" or "pour" from him like water, gushing forth in a steady stream of pain. When this background is brought to bear on Job 10:10, a vivid picture of male ejaculation is created. "Did you not pour me out [with loud and intense groans] like milk [referring to the color of semen]...?"
Even more daring for Job is to attribute this activity to God. Certainly he is aware of the mediating work of human parents in creation, as he is aware that God's "destruction" of him came through human or natural intermediaries. Yet in Job 10, Job puts the ultimate culpability for his distress on God. "Your hands fashioned and made me (10:8)..." Thus, if God is responsible for the destruction, he is also responsible for Job's procreation. God himself has "pour[ed] me out like milk." In tender and intense sexual activity, God has created Job. It is simply unfair now for God to destroy this work of his hands.
Copyright © 2004-2007 William R. Long