I have recently been reading through the book of Job using the new translation of Robert Alter that I received for Christmas.  The writer of Job obviously had a keen eye and deep appreciation of nature as is evident in much of the language used throughout the book.  Here is a classic example in Chapter 4, where we have an obvious allusion to farming — plough-plant-reap — wrapped up in a standard moral teaching:

As I have seen, those who plow mischief,                                                                        those who plant wretchedness, reap it. (Job 4:8)

We then move to the animal kingdom, where the lion is used as another line of evidence in the case for the traditional system of retribution:

The lion’s roar, the maned beast’s  sound –                                                                     and the young lions’ teeth are smashed.

The king of beasts dies with no prey,                                                                               the whelps of the lion are scattered.  (Job 4:10-11)

Apparently there are five different words in Hebrew for lion and the writer of Job demonstrates his impressive lexical wealth by using all five within two sentences creating a headache for the translators!

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