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293. Job 30:5-8, Even More on the Mockers 

 

If we thought we had lost our way in verse 4, the words of verse 5 confirm that suspicion. Literally, we have:

 

    “From the back/midst (of people?) they are driven out; they shout after/upon him as a thief.

 

The NASB has, "

 

     “They are driven from the community; they shout against them as against a thief."

 

First, the words of this verse. The second Hebrew word is gev (7x), which is usually rendered as “back” (part of the body), but is universally rendered here by translators as “midst.” Well, how do we get from “back” to “midst”?  Well, the back is, hmm. . .on your back, but it is in the “middle” of something, perhaps of your body. And if it is in the middle, it is the midst, and if people are driven out from the back, they must be driven out from the midst. Bingo. Meaning established.  

 

Ok, that is a stretch, but we can go with it. But we learn that these mockers, who already are living in the desert in extremely inhospitable conditions, having to subsist on saltwort and roots of the juniper tree, are now driven out from people. Unless we see this as going back to a time before 30:3, we then are confronted with the unlikely reality that they are driven out after they are already in the desert. But how can you be driven out from “the midst” when you are already “on the edges” of life, so to speak?  Perhaps Job is just wanting to recapitulate their general fate; they started out as town-people mocking him but then they were driven out.  

 

But this makes little sense. Who would drive them out? Was there a lingering pro-Job faction left in the city after Job’s reversal that quickly pounced on the mockers, driving them out in humiliation? That approach might have something to be said for it, but Job seems to have a vested interest in saying that the whole world, figuratively, is now arrayed against him. It makes him look much more noble and pathetic in his suffering.  


Thus, we have a problem trying to explain how these mockers were driven out when they are already in the desert and when there is no mention of a pro-Job group still resident in the town who might have been responsible for this. 

Now that our confusion has become laughable, we have to deal with the second part of the verse. “They shout upon him as a thief,” is what the text says. We only have about 20 questions of these three words, none of which has the slightest possibility of being answered. Let’s just reveal about a dozen.  Who is shouting?  Where are they shouting? At whom are they shouting?  What is the content of the shout?  Is it the generic, “Get the hell out of my sight” or is it, “Bring me some of that tasty saltwort for dinner”? 

 

But then we see that “they” are shouting at “him” “as a thief.” Who is the thief?  Are the mockers the thieves? And, what have they stolen? Saltwort? Roots of the juniper?  Oh, it is “like a thief.” Does the mockery of Job amount to some kind of “thievery?” Or, maybe it is the unfortunate (and possibly godless) mockers that are shouting. Why might they be shouting? Are they in pain? Are they shouting out at the people who have driven them out, people whom we don’t know, because they suspect them of stealing from them?  

 

The questions multiply and all we can do is laugh. Then we think, ‘Hmm. . .there must be deep Christological meaning here.’ After all, all Scripture is inspired and verily God-breathed. There must be something of profound significance happening here, significance that only can be divined from the perspective of the Cross. That is hard to see, of course, but those who claim to find Christ rushing through the pages of the Hebrew scriptures could no doubt find Christ in the mallow or the Cross in the roots of the juniper tree. We could make it up as we go along. Hmm. . .salty. . .hmm. . .salt preserves.  Hmm. . .Christ preserves the faithful. . .Wow, Christological significance in Job 30.  Now I bet that is a new one.  Goodness, we still have three verses of this wonderful section to go. . .