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JOB 30


Job's Present State Is Humiliating Job's Summary Defense
The Final Defense of Job
Job's Final Statement of His Case
Job's Complaints and Apologia: His Present Misery

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Etc.



A. In Job 29, Job describes his blessed past.


B. In Job 30, Job laments his current conditions (note, "but now," in Job 30:1,9,16).

1. disdained by the poor, ostracized, and needy, Job 30:1-8, \9-16 (DSS of Job has plurals in Job 30:16-23)

2. attacked by God, Job 30:11a,16-23

3. abandoned by all (without cause, Job 30:25-26) in his time of need, Job 30:24-31

Please remember this is hyperbolic, rare, Semitic poetry. Moderns do not fully understand the words nor the imagery.


C. There are several difficult and uncertain textual aspects to this chapter. For more information see Preliminary and Interim Report On the Hebrew Old Testament Text, vol. 3, pp. 92-101.

There are also many hapax legomena and rare Hebrew roots. I have tried to discuss several of these lexical difficulties in my notes.


 1"But now those younger than I mock me,
 Whose fathers I disdained to put with the dogs of my flock.
 2Indeed, what good was the strength of their hands to me?
 Vigor had perished from them.
 3From want and famine they are gaunt
 Who gnaw the dry ground by night in waste and desolation,
 4Who pluck mallow by the bushes,
 And whose food is the root of the broom shrub.
 5They are driven from the community;
 They shout against them as against a thief,
 6So that they dwell in dreadful valleys,
 In holes of the earth and of the rocks.
 7Among the bushes they cry out;
 Under the nettles they are gathered together.
 8Fools, even those without a name,
 They were scourged from the land."

30:1-8 Job describes his mockers.

1. the young, Job 30:1a (opposite of 29:8)

2. the weak, Job 30:1b-2 

3. the hungry, Job 30:3-7

4. the nameless and rejected, Job 30:8

Notice the number of plants listed in this strophe.

1. mallow, Job 30:4 – BDB 572, found only here in the OT; the UBS' Fauna and Flora of the Bible, pp. 136-137 thinks the root is related to "salt" (BDB 571) and refers to a saltwort that grows in the Dead Sea region in the land of Uz, Job's home area. The buds and leaves were food for the poor.

2. broom shrub, Job 30:4 – BDB 958, found three times in the OT. The UBS' Fauna and Flora of the Bible, pp. 100-101, says it also goes by the name "rothem" (from Arabic root). It is a desert plant usually used to make charcoal, not eaten.

3. nettles, Job 30:7 – BDB 355 calls it a "chick-pea." The UBS' Fauna and Flora of the Bible, p. 152, calls it a desert shrub, possibly a thorn bush.

The purpose of listing these desert plants is to show the alienation (Job 30:8b) and desperate poverty (30:3) of Job's assailants.

30:1b This may be a proverbial saying of contempt or lack of respect. Dogs were considered dirty, undesirable animals. However, sheep dogs were valued helpers. They taunt Job; he taunts them!

30:2 "vigor" This noun (BDB 480) occurs only here and in Job 5:26. The usage in 5:26 and the parallelism here suggest "life force strength" (i.e., Moses in Deut. 31:2, but not the same word).

30:3 The desperation of their hunger is shown by their eating the roots of desert plants that are normally not consumed by humans (NEB, REB).

The Aramaic Targum translates the verb "gnaw" (BDB 792, KB 888, Qal active participle). It is found only in this chapter, twice, in all the OT, as a similar root "to go" or "to flee" (i.e., they fled to the waste land, i.e., NRSV).

It is also possible, along with NRSV, to see the broom shrub as the fuel for their cooking fires. Desert people used the root of these kinds of desert plants for this purpose. Job 30:7b may be another allusion to their attempt to keep warm. 

NRSV"hard hunger"
NJB"worn out"
LXX"he was childless"

The MT has the adjective (BDB 166) which means "hard" (cf. NRSV) or "barren" (cf. LXX). It usually refers to a barren land. Possibly it is a play on "they are barren in a barren land."

NASB, TEV"by night"
NKJV"fleeing late"
NJB"place of gloom"
JPSOA"to the gloom"
MT, LXX"yesterday"

The Hebrew has "yesterday" (BDB 57), but the lexicons admit they do not know the meaning of this term, especially in this context (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 1, pp. 449-450).

1. BDB 57 –

a. yesterday

b. evening

c. night

d. last night

e. darkness, gloom

2. KB 68 –

a. twilight

b. yesterday

c. evening

d. tomorrow

e. last night

It is always good to remember that the uncertain meaning of these rare Semitic roots is clarified by the parallel line of poetry.

30:5 The people who mock Job are themselves the object of ridicule and rejection. The imagery is similar to how modern gypsies are treated (i.e., Job 30:8b) in Europe, North Africa, and South America today.

NET Bible"the community"
NKJV"among men"
NJB"human company"
REB"human society"

The noun (BDB 156 II) is found only here. It seems to come from an Aramaic root meaning "middle" or "midst," so "they are driven out from the midst of men."

The NET Bible mentions (p. 825) that the same root means "community" in Phoenician (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 853).


NKJV"scourged from the land"
NRSV"whipped out of the land"
TEV"driven out of the land"
NJB"the very outcasts of society"
JPSOA"stricken from the earth"
REB"outcasts from the haunts of men"
LXX"a reputation quenched from the earth"
Peshitta"brought lower than the earth"

This verb (BB 644, KB 697, Niphal perfect) occurs only here. The adjective meaning "stricken" occurs four times. These "sons of fools" and "disreputable ones" were expelled from society. That is exactly how Job felt. He describes his mockers in such despicable and hyperbolic ways. This is how he felt!

 9"And now I have become their taunt,
 I have even become a byword to them.
 10They abhor me and stand aloof from me,
 And they do not refrain from spitting at my face.
 11Because He has loosed His bowstring and afflicted me,
 They have cast off the bridle before me.
 12On the right hand their brood arises;
 They thrust aside my feet and build up against me their ways of destruction.
 13They break up my path,
 They profit from my destruction;
 No one restrains them.
 14As through a wide breach they come,
 Amid the tempest they roll on.
 15Terrors are turned against me;
 They pursue my honor as the wind,
 And my prosperity has passed away like a cloud."

30:9-15 The interpretive question is who Job is referring to in this strophe.

1. his tormentors, Job 30:9-10,11b-15

2. his tormentors (MT, Peshitta, ASV, REB) and God, Job 30:11a, Qere reading, NASB, NKJV, NRSV, TEV, NJB, JPSOA

Job is being attacked by men (Job 30:1-8) and God (30:18-23). The emotional and physical gyrations are extreme!

30:9 "taunt" The noun (BDB 618) is parallel to "byword" (BDB 576). Therefore, though it means "music" or "song," in this context it means "mocking song" (cf. Ps. 69:12; Lam. 3:14; and a related root in Lam. 3:63).

30:10 Their attitude toward Job can be seen in these words.

1. they abhor me – BDB 1073, KB 1765, Piel perfect, cf. Deut. 7:26; Job 15:16; 19:19; Isa. 14:19

2. they stand aloof – BDB 934, KB 1221, Qal perfect, cf. Pro. 19:7; Job feared and grieved over God's apparent absence (Job 30:10). This verb is used in this sense in Ps. 22:11,19; 35:22; 38:21; 71:12 (also note Ps. 10:1).

3. they do not hesitate to spit in his face – BDB 362, KB 359, Qal perfect, cf. Num. 12:14; Deut. 25:9; Job 17:6; Isa. 50:6; Matt. 26:67 (i.e., visible gesture of contempt and rejection)

Notice even those who experience rejection themselves (i.e., know the unfairness and pain of it) still reject Job!

30:11 This line of poetry has several textual issues (see UBS Text Project, pp. 93-95). I think the NRSV and TEV catch the thought well.

NRSV – "Because God has loosed my bowstring and humbled me,

They have cast off restraint in my presence"

TEV –  "Because God has made me weak and helpless,

They turn against me with all their fury"


▣ "bowstring" The MT has "cord" (BDB 452 II, KB 452). It can refer to a

1. bow-string (i.e., metaphor for ineffectiveness or defenselessness, KB 452 II)

2. tent-cord (i.e., a metaphor of Job's terminal disease, cf. Job 4:21; 2 Cor. 5:1)

3. lute-cord (i.e., life force with no rest, KB 452 I); note there is another stringed musical instrument mentioned in Job 30:31



TEV, REB"mob"
NJB"their brats"

This noun (BDB 827) occurs only here in the OT. BDB translates it "the wretched crowd." However, the root seems to be linked to "young ones" (BDB 827), so thereby, referring to the children of Job 30:1a.

30:12b This line of poetry is very difficult to understand in this context.

1. The JPSOA has "They put me to flight,

     They build their roads for my ruin"

2. NJB has "To see when I have a little peace,

    And advance on me with threatening strides"

3. the NET Bible has "They drive me from place to place,

    And build up siege ramps against me"



NRSV"No one restrains them"
Peshitta"They have no helper"
TEV"There is none to stop them"
NJB"No one stops them"
JPSOA"Although it does them no good"

The MT has a Qal active participle (BDB 704, KB 810). The UBS Text Project (p. 96) suggests two translations.

1. "They who have no help at all"

2. "They who have no need of help"

The NASB, NRSV are based on an emendation, "no helper" (עזר לא). UBS Text Project (p. 96) rates "A" (very high probability) to "no restrainer" (עצר לא). This imagery may go back to Job 30:11, "they have cast off the bridle" (BDB 943 I, NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 1132).

30:14 This is imagery of a city's wall being breeched in a battle. The verbs imply the invaders enter the city as the wall crumbles down around them (i.e., a violent, aggressive, fast-moving attack).

It is possible to see allusions to military campaigns in Job 30:12, 13, and 14. The Hebrew of all three verses is difficult.

30:15a "Terrors" The feminine plural noun (BDB 117) is personified (cf. Job 18:11,14; 27:20). Here they refer to those who mock Job (i.e., Job 30:1-8,9,10,12,13,14).


REB"noble designs"

The feminine noun (BDB 622) is found only thrice in the OT.

1. Job 30:15 – noble standing

2. Isa. 32:8 (twice)

a. noble things

b. noble plans

The masculine noun (BDB 622) is also found in Isa. 32:8 (i.e., "the noble man"). It is also used often of a noble rank in society (cf. 1 Sam. 2:8; Job 12:21; 21:28; 34:18; Ps. 47:9; 83:11; 107:40; 113:8; 118:9; 146:3; Pro. 8:16).

 16"And now my soul is poured out within me;
 Days of affliction have seized me.
 17At night it pierces my bones within me,
 And my gnawing pains take no rest.
 18By a great force my garment is distorted;
 It binds me about as the collar of my coat.
 19He has cast me into the mire,
 And I have become like dust and ashes.
 20I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me;
 I stand up, and You turn Your attention against me.
 21You have become cruel to me;
 With the might of Your hand You persecute me.
 22You lift me up to the wind and cause me to ride;
 And You dissolve me in a storm.
 23For I know that You will bring me to death
 And to the house of meeting for all living."

30:16-23 This strophe describes how Job feels.

1. His life is poured out (cf. Ps. 42:4).

2. Days of sickness and disease seize him (cf. Job. 30:27).

3. He feels pain at night (i.e., personified).

4. He has no rest from the pain.

5. His skin (lit. "garment," cf. Job 30:30) is distorted.

All of this has occurred because of the actions of God (cf. Job 19:7-12).

1. the NASB "it" of Job 30:17 could refer to God (MT has no obvious subject).

2. Job 30:18 also does not have an expressed subject and may refer to God.

3. God casts him into the mire, Job 30:19.

4. he cries out to God but He does not respond, Job 30:20 (i.e., legal connotations).

5. God is cruel to him, Job 30:21a (cf. Job 16:9).

6. God's hand persecutes him, Job 30:21b.

7. God casts him to the storm winds, Job 30:22.

8. God will take his life soon, Job 30:23.


30:16 "soul" This is the Hebrew nephesh (BDB 659). See full note on the line at Gen. 35:18.

30:17b This line of poetry could refer to

1. the actions of his mockers

2. the action of the worms in his sores (cf. Job 7:5)

3. the terrible feelings he has about his life (i.e., the pain is personified)


30:18 The JPSOA translation has a footnote with this verse that reads, "Meaning of Hebrew is uncertain." I think it is imagery for Job's disease (which he saw as sent from God). A possible paraphrase of Job 30:18b is "God has seized me by the neck" (supported by DSS, Qtg Job).

30:19 "mire" This noun (BDB 330 I) usually means "cement," "mortar," or "clay." Here it is paralleled with "dust" (BDB 779) and "ashes" (BDB 68). The context implies it means "mud" (TEV, NJB, REB). The JPSOA, following the LXX, has "clay," which would refer to a place of humiliation.

Because of Job 30:23 and a similar term in Ps. 69:2,14, this may be a euphemism of Sheol.

30:20 This verse catches the essence of Job's spiritual turmoil.

1. God is hidden (see note at Job 30:10, #2)

2. God will not allow Job to present his legal defense of his innocence (cf. Job 19:7)


30:21 "cruel" The rare adjective (BDB 470, used four times in the OT) basically means "cruel," "fierce," or "deadly poison" (cf. Deut. 32:33). It is surprising that this term would be used of God, but Job has become embittered (cf. Job 13:24; 16:6-9; 19:7-12).


30:22 The imagery is God as

1. a tempest – Job 9:17

2. an east wind – Job 27:21

both metaphors of divine judgment.

NASB"in a storm"
NKJV"my success"
NRSV"in the roar of a storm"
TEV"in a raging storm"
NJB, REB"in a tempest"
JPSOA"my courage melts"

The MT has a feminine noun (BDB 444), which means the noise of a storm. This root is related to the feminine nouns in Job 30:3,14.

Some scholars suggest another root (BDB 996), which also means "noise."

JPSOA takes its translation from the verb (BDB 556, KB 555, Polel imperfect), which means "to soften." But most English translations see the Arabic root, "to toss about," as in a storm.

 24"Yet does not one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand,
 Or in his disaster therefore cry out for help?
 25Have I not wept for the one whose life is hard?
 Was not my soul grieved for the needy?
 26When I expected good, then evil came;
 When I waited for light, then darkness came.
 27I am seething within and cannot relax;
 Days of affliction confront me.
 28I go about mourning without comfort;
 I stand up in the assembly and cry out for help.
 29I have become a brother to jackals
 And a companion of ostriches.
 30My skin turns black on me,
 And my bones burn with fever.
 31Therefore my harp is turned to mourning,
 And my flute to the sound of those who weep."

30:24-31 This strophe describes how Job views his own actions and motives and is surprised at the judgment of God.

1. Job wept for the people having a hard life ("him whose day was hard").

2. Job grieved for the needy.

3. He expected good (i.e., the promised result of "the two ways" for the innocent) but evil (i.e., from God, cf. Deuteronomy 7-30) came.

4. He waited for light (from God) but darkness came.

5. He is seething in mind and body (i.e., "inward parts," BDB 588).

6. He cannot relax.

7. He mourns (lit. "blackened") all day.

8. He cries for help to the assembly (i.e., civil or religious) but no help comes (from God nor mankind).

9. He feels ostracized and deserted, like animals in the desert (often these animals refer to the demonic in the OT, cf. Isa. 13:21-22; see SPECIAL TOPIC: THE DEMONIC IN THE OLD TESTAMENT). Because of Micah 1:8, this may refer to Job crying out.

10. He experiences the terrible pain of his (God-given) disease.

11. He laments continually.


30:24 This line of poetry is uncertain. It is very hard to translate. It seems to have no meaning in this context.

1. Does it refer to what Job did (i.e., help the poor, NJB, REB)?

2. No one helped Job in his need (NRSV, TEV)

3. Does it refer to an act of God (JPSOA, NKJV, TEV, Peshitta)?

4. Job helping himself (LXX)


30:25 "grieved" This verb (BDB 723, KB 785, Qal perfect) occurs only here in the OT. Job claims he has always had pity on the poor and needy (cf. Job 29:12-17; 31:16-23).


NASB, NJB"on me"
NRSV"falls from me"
JPSOA"is peeling off me"
REB"peels off"
Peshitta"shrunk upon me"

The MT has "from me," which some translations take as "peeling off" or "falling off." Since we do not know what kind of skin disease Job had, it is hard to make these specific conclusions.


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. How does Job 30 relate to Job 29?

2. What is the literary purpose of Job 30:1-8?

3. Explain why "they" and "he" has caused so much interpretive trouble in Job 30:10-11.

4. Does Job still blame God for his plight?

5. To whom does Job 30:24 refer?

6. How does Job 30:26 relate to "the two ways"?


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