Anti-Adamic Job

Protesting his innocence before God and men, Job distinguishes himself from Adam (the first and only mention of the person Adam in the OT outside of Genesis 1-5): “If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom: Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify me, that I kept silence, and went not out of the door?” (31:33-34) Unlike Adam, Job hasn’t hid his sins (cf. Gen 3:10) — he would’ve had no reason to, he insists. This mention of Adam primed me for additional allusions to the Fall narrative, and the author didn’t disappoint: “If I have eaten the fruits [of my land] without money, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life: Let thistles (chowach) grow instead of wheat, and cockle (bo’shah) instead of barley” (31:40). Surely this echoes the LORD’s words to Adam: “cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns (qotsey) also and thistles (dardar) shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field” (Gen 3:17-18).

But the second allusion is rather faint in the Hebrew version, using different words for each of the unwanted plants. Unsurprisingly, Jerome, careful interpreter that he was, strengthened the allusion in the Vulgate. He has Job say, “pro frumento oriatur mihi tribulus et pro hordeo spina,” which closely tracks what God says to Adam: “spinas et tribulos germinabit tibi et comedes herbas terrae.”

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This entry was posted in Adam, Genesis, Job, Sin, Translation, Vulgate and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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