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289. Job 30, Back to the Present


Because of the threefold presence of “But now” or “And now” in verses 1, 9, 16, Job 30 is one of the easier chapters of the Book of Job to outline.  I suggest the following to get us started:


Job 30:1-8, But Now They Make Fun of Me

Job 30:9-15, The Mocking Never Ends

Job 30:16-23, Job’s Psychic and Physical Pain

Job 30:24-31, Utter Desolation


The major movement in this chapter is away from the “before” of Job 29, where Job recounted the honor that attended his earlier life as sage or judge in the community, to the “present” of Job 30, where he returns from the memories of the previous chapter to face the gnawing, continuing anguish of his current life. Just as Job gave us a reverie of escape in 3:14-19 before returning to the brutality of the present in 3:20-26, so here he stretches out the two thematic movements of reverie of escape and return to the present over Job 29, 30. Yet rather than the shimmering clarity and aching longing of Job 3, Job 30 quickly loses our attention after verse 2 and descends into a morass of Eliphaz-like unclarity of 5:5 or Bildad’s passionate but impenetrable rant of 8:17-18.  That is, though various translations try to make good sense of Job 30:3-7, I will argue here that Job descends into his own brand of meaningless chatter as he mumbles about “them”—those that mock him. In practical terms it means that most readers stop reading Job 30 after about verse 3, even though the alluring repetition of “And now” in verses 9, 16 draws some people back.  

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