The problem of the potsherd Job 2:8 in a new perspective

  • Ellen van Wolde Radboud University
Keywords: Book of Job, translation, interpretation


The famous verse in the prologue of the book of Job, which is commonly translated with “Job took a potsherd to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes,” is the object of study here. In this analysis of Job 2:8, three components are extensively discussed; (1) The syntactic structure that shows that the subject of the action of “taking” is the satan and not Job; (2) The semantic analysis of the occurrences of the noun חרש, which demonstrates that this word does not designate “potsherd,” but “pot”; and (3) The semantic analysis of the infinitive hitpael התגרד, which explains the satan’s goal in bringing Job a pot, namely to squeeze out his inflamed boils that cover him from head to toe.


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