Translation Goal: Create a translation for oral performance useful to communities experiencing and perpetuating social and theological stigma because of their bodily and social conditions.
Note: These translation decisions were influenced by insights achieved studying the text with people living with disabilities in northern Ghana and families living with Alzheimer’s in the United States.
1 After this Job opened his mouth and curseda his day.b
2 Job answered and said:
3 Delete the day on which I was born,
and also the night which they announced a man has been conceived!c
4 That day! Let it be darkness.d
Do not call fore it, God above!
Do not shine light upon it.
5 Darkness and deep shadow- redeem it for your own.
Let a cloud settle on it.
Let the day darkening evil eclipsef exorcise it!
6 That night! Let gloom seize it–
Not to be counted among the days of the year
In the number of months, not to enter.
7 Behold! That night let it be barren.g
Let no cries of joyh penetratei it.
8 Let those who curse a day–curse it!
The ones who are ready to rouse Leviathan–
9 Let its morning stars be dark.
Let it wait for the daylight and receive none.
Do not let it look on the eyelids of dawn.
10 because it did not shut the doors of my wombj
nor did it hide trouble from my eyes.
11 Why did I not come out of the womb stillborn?
Or from the belly, come out and expire?
12 Why were there knees to receive me,
and breasts for me to suck?
13 For now I would be lying down at peace asleep;
I would be at rest–k
15 or with princes and their gold,
who filled their houses with silver.
16 Or why was I not covered up like a miscarriage,
like baby fetuses who have never seen light?l
17 There “the wicked” cease from [protests and]m insurrection,
and there the exhausted are at rest.
18 Prisoners can relax together.
They do not hear the voice of the oppressor.
19 Small and great are the same.
There the slave is free from his master.
20 Why give light to a sufferer,
and life to the bitter in soul?
21 To those who long for death, and it does not come.
They dig for it more than hidden treasure.n
22 Merrily, they rejoice even to jubilation–
because they find the grave.
[Why give light]o
23 to a manp whose path is hidden
whom God has hedged in?
24 For my sighing comes as my daily bread,
and my groanings pour out like water.
25 Because I feared a fear and it happened to me,
and what I dreaded came to me.
26 I am not at peace,
not at rest,
and trouble has come.
a3.1 The narrator tells us Job cursed his day. The narrator’s voice is not Job’s voice. Job calls others to curse in v. 8. (See Masenya Madipoane “Her Lament” 2012.)
b3.1 In southern Ghana, people could take this as referring to the day of the week on which one was born. (Insight from African Biblical Hermeneutics)
c3.3 An alternative translation substitutes “born” for “conceived.” Each choice presents challenges.
d3.4 Genesis 1:1 in reverse (A participant in the Alzheimer’s study mentioned this.)
e3.4 Require it, seek it.
f3.5 An alternate translation would be “That which darkens the day.” It refers to mystical evil powers, such as dragons, which capture the sun and moon. (Insight from African Biblical Hermeneutics and Ancient Near Eastern Studies)
g3.7 Job now moves dangerously close to cursing his own mother’s womb, since the night also refers to his conception in v. 3. (See Masenya Madipoane.)
h3.7 Job appears to be using language contrasting his experience of suffering with the joys of the sexual act that conceived him.
i3.7 Job is using language of birth, but it also has sexual overtones. The Alzheimer’s study considered DNA as the source of several family diseases, so the problem could roll back to conception, the result of intercourse, and ultimately to God’s role in the act of creation.
j3.10 Job laments the night of his conception, wishing his mother’s womb would have spontaneously aborted him. Is he also blaming his calamity on his mother? What about his father? What would have been the result for his parents if Job had died at birth or been a miscarriage? (See Masenya Madipoane.)
k3.13 Death is rest, comfort, a friend. (Insight from the Alzheimer’s group)
l3.16 Ironically wishing your life never happened is a lot like losing your memories of it happening which is also pretty terrible (Alzheimer’s group). The concern about a good burial is something Job takes for granted but cannot be assumed by all groups (Disabilities Group).
m3.17 This phrase was added because of social experiences in 2020 and 2021.
n3.21 This section focusing on death is very important to suffering people (Disabilities, Alzheimer’s).
o3.21 Repeated this phrase from the beginning of the verse for the reader/hearer’s clarity.
p3.23 Job refers to himself as a man, just as in verse 3. His social location as a powerful man who has lost everything is a big reason why this story made it into the Bible. (See Masenya Madipoane.)
Masenya, Madipoane. “Her Appropriation of Job’s Lament? Her-Lament of Job 3, From an African Story-Telling Perspective.” In Postcolonial Perspectives in African Biblical Interpretations, edited by Musa W. Dube Shomanah, Andrew Mũtũa Mbuvi, and Dora R. Mbuwayesango, 283–97. Society of Biblical Literature Global Perspectives on Biblical Scholarship, no. 13. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2012.