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Job 14:7-17 – If Mortals Die, Will They Live Again?

Summary

Job observes that after a tree is cut down, new growth may emerge from the stump if water is added. This brings on a yearning, a wondering, a question whether new life is also possible for a human being who has been cut down.

Analysis

In most of Job's speeches he expresses no hope for life after death. If there is no justice in this life, then there is no recourse for a final settlement in an afterlife. When you are dead, you are dead. Rich or poor, wise or foolish, good or bad, all lie in the ground together and will never wake again. Only here and in chapter 19 are there any glimmers of hope that even after death God can take care of injustices that were done in this life. Death does not close the door on God's justice. Job would gladly wait for such a day when God would call him, and all his iniquities would be covered.

The use of nature as a metaphor for rebirth of humans is very common in Christian tradition. Though not a nature religion like that of Canaan, biblical religion certainly uses metaphors related to nature to express belief in God's power to bring life to what has died. The fact that Easter occurs in the Northern Hemisphere just as spring is breaking forth from the cold of winter is evidence of this and is similar to this observation from Job.

Job 14:7-17


7 ‘For there is hope for a tree,
   if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
   and that its shoots will not cease.
8 Though its root grows old in the earth,
   and its stump dies in the ground,
9 yet at the scent of water it will bud
   and put forth branches like a young plant.
10 But mortals die, and are laid low;
   humans expire, and where are they?
11 As waters fail from a lake,
   and a river wastes away and dries up,
12 so mortals lie down and do not rise again;
   until the heavens are no more, they will not awake
   or be roused out of their sleep.
13 O that you would hide me in Sheol,
   that you would conceal me until your wrath is past,
   that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14 If mortals die, will they live again?
   All the days of my service I would wait
   until my release should come.
15 You would call, and I would answer you;
   you would long for the work of your hands.
16 For then you would not* number my steps,
   you would not keep watch over my sin;
17 my transgression would be sealed up in a bag,
   and you would cover over my iniquity.

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10 February 2011

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