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Wages from God: The Dynamics of a Biblical Metaphor

TZVI NOVICK
University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN 46556

THE METAPHORICAL TREATMENT of gain from God as hireling's wages occurs in two related but distinct contexts in the Hebrew Bible. The first usage is exemplified in 2 Chr 15:7, where the prophet Azariah encourages Asa and his people to undertake the task of rooting out idolatry: "Be strong, and let not your hands flag, for there are wages ["Qttf] for your labor [DDrf?ys]." The promise of wages serves as a spur to action. This usage may be contrasted with that in Ruth 2:12. Here Boaz, having praised Ruth for her decision to follow her mother-in-law to a strange land, concludes: "May the LORD recompense you for your labor ["fWD], and may your wage ["|3] be recompensed from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have sought refuge." The labor to which Boaz refers is past. He does not mean, as Azariah does in 2 Chr 15:7, to bring about the action for which he forecasts wages, but rather to provide Ruth with hope, and so to comfort her in her present distress. Thus, Ruth responds by thanking Boaz for comforting her Oanam) and for "speaking to her heart" b "w m m ) (2:13). The difference between the first usage and the second lies not so much in the fact that the work is still to be done in the first and is already accomplished in the

My thanks to Gary Anderson, Ed Greenstein, Aaron Koller, and Mark Nussberger for their comments on earlier drafts of this essay. The essay also benefited from the suggestions of the journal's anonymous reviewers. Translations of rabbinic texts in this essay are my own. In translating quotations from the Hebrew Bible and from the LXX, I have consulted, but frequently diverged from, the NJPSV and the NETS (A New English Translation of the Septuagint [ed. Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007]); the verse numbering of the last I adopt for Ben Sira.

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second as in the fact that the second usage belongs to the dynamic of hope and despair, distress and comfort, while the first instead resides more immediately in the sphere of rational calculation. One can, of course, at the same time comfort a pious interlocutor with the hope of reward and urge her, on the basis ofthat same anticipated future, to continue in her pious work. Nevertheless, the distinction between comfort and calculation is analytically clear and affords insight into the dynamics of the metaphor of the hireling. I advance two related arguments in this article. First, insofar as it works to motivate obedience (the first usage), the hireling metaphor is asymmetric: it allows for the figuration only of reward, not of punishment. This structural "flaw" is the topic of the first section below. Second, insofar as the metaphor serves to inspire hope, and thus to comfort (the second usage), it emerges organically from the concrete situation of the hireling and participates in a broad metaphorical complex that is in fact capable of figuring punishment as well as reward. I address the second usage as it becomes manifest in the Hebrew Bible and in the Book of Ben Sira in the article's second section. I. Wages and Wickedness It is instructive to compare the metaphor of the hireling to the most important alternative formation through which religious observance is conceptualized in later biblical and rabbinic literature, namely, the economy of credit and debt.1 Both metaphors, that of the hireling's wages and that of credit and debt, reflect a "financial" interpretation of God's relationship to human action. Indeed, insofar as the hireling's wages accrue as a financial claim against the employer, the two metaphors may be understood less as alternatives than as type and subtype. But in concretizing the discourse of financial obligation in the employer-employee relationship, the hireling metaphor takes on its own distinctive character. The metaphor of debt and credit owes its popularity, in part, to a suppleness born of symmetry. Sin and obedience can both be imagined as loans: in the first case, God is the lender, while in the second, God borrows. God and the worshiper can easily trade places because the roles of lender and borrower are more or less purely functional, with only weak social content. The metaphor of the hireling is, at least prima facie, more rigid. Because the employer-employee relationship encodes a clear hierarchy, it does not easily allow for role switching. Insofar as the metaphor fixes God
1

On this far-reaching conceptual scheme, see the recent work of Gary A. Anderson, especially "From Israel's Burden to Israel's Debt: Towards a Theology of Sin in Biblical and Early Second Temple Sources," in Reworking the Bible: Apocryphal and Related Texts at Qumran. Proceedings ofa Joint Symposium by the Orion Centerfor the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature and the Hebrew University Institute for Advanced Studies Research Group on Qumran, 15-17 January, 2002 (ed. Esther G. Chazon et al.; STDJ 58; Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2005) 1-30; and idem, Sin: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009).

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as employer and the worshiper as hireling, the conceptualization of sin and punishment becomes problematic. Refusal to do the work means no wages earned, but the hireling, in this case, seems no worse off than if he or she simply never entered 2 the employment relationship at all. The metaphor of the hireling thus reinforces the implication that arises, prima facie,fromthe very promise of reward in itself, 3 namely, that performance of the relevant action is more or less voluntary. The problem of asymmetry arises specifically in connection with the first of the two usages of the hireling metaphor described above, that is, to motivate behavior. As we shall see in the next section, in its other usage, to provide hope and comfort, the metaphor belongs to a broader and ultimately symmetric system of metaphors. In this section I examine two solutions to the asymmetry of the metaphor of the hireling. The first is reflected in Prov 11:18: "The wicked man produces a deceitful hire [IpVi rbVu], while he who sows righteousness has reliable wages [ 3]."4 The parallelism of this verse obscures an important difference between the two halves. The "deceitful hire" of thefirsthalf refers to the economic gain (ultimately to prove illusory) that accrues to the wicked man as a result of his
2 Equivalents of the expression "wages of sin" occur in various contexts in rabbinic and prerabbinic sources. Insofar as the expression is understood ironically, as describing God's "payback" for the commission of sins, it may be taken as an artificial extension of the hireling metaphor from obedience to disobedience. But this understanding is probably in no case correct. The Hebrew term 357 3 occurs in m. Abot 2:1 and 4:2. But at least in the first of the two pericopes, 3 has the sense not of "wages" but of "profit," as is clear from the contrast with mODH ("its loss," i.e., the loss occasioned by a transgressive "venture"). For the contrast 103/" (Aram. "70Dn/"X) in entrepreneurial contexts, see, e.g.,>>. Sheq. 4:3 (58a); y. Yeb. 15:7 (15b). In Rom 6:23, the phrase . . . refers to the wages paid by sin, where sin is imagined as an employer or commander. Paul, who elsewhere explicitly rejects the theological implications of the conceptualization of God as employer (Rom 4:4), here transfers it instead to sin: it is sin that pays wages, while God gifts. Nor does the phrase in Acts 1:18 mean punishment for sin. It instead refers to literal wages earned by Judas through his betrayal of Jesus. This phrase recurs in 2 Pet 2:13, 15. In the latter case (v. 15), it clearly has the same sense as in Acts 1:18: Balaam loves the wages he receives for his wicked deeds. In the less transparent case of 2 Pet 2:13, the phrase is typically taken as a metaphor for the punishment "paid" for wickedness, but an interpretation along the lines proposed by Patrick W. Skehan ("A Note on 2 Peter 2,13," Bib 41 [1960] 69-71), wherein the phrase carries the same meaning as in 2:15, is considerably more attractive.

For this implication, see, e.g., Sifre Numbers 119 (ed. Horowitz, 145), on the verses describing the Lvites' service. '"And the Lvite shall serve, he' (Num 18:23). Why does it say this? For it says, '[And to the sons of Levi, behold, I have given them all the tithe of Israel as an inheritance,] in return for their service' (Num 18:21). I might think: if he wishes he may serve, if he does not wish he need not? Hence it says, 'and the Lvite shall serve, he,' against his will." The promise of compensation appears to cast the Lvites' service as optional: a Lvite who wishes to receive the promised tithes may choose to serve, but one who is willing to forgo them need not serve. Only a stray pronoun ("he") staves off this conclusion. 4 For this translation (with minor differences), and for commentary, see Michael V. Fox, Proverbs 10-31: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Yale Bible 18B; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009) 538-39.

THE DYNAMICS OF A BIBLICAL METAPHOR 711 (presumably disreputable) profit-making efforts. In the second half, by contrast, the "reliable wages" result notfromtherighteousman's attempt to make a living, butfromhisrighteousness(which may, of course, be expressed in charity or otherwise in monetary terms, but not in his profit-making efforts per se). The hireling metaphor extends here to the situation of sin and so acquires symmetry, only by a subtle sleight of hand, through the contrastive pairing ofrighteousaction, imagined only metaphorically in terms of profit-directed work, with wicked activity that in fact aims at material gain.5 The Mishnah in tractate Abot appears to offer a different solution to the asymmetry of the hireling metaphor. The second chapter of the tractate ends with three statements that characterize religious observancewhether Torah study alone, or realization of God's will more broadly, is uncertainas labor, and the observant individual as a hireling who works for his or her wages (2:14-16). God is "the master of your work" (2:14, 16: imia *73n), that is, the employer, who "faithfully [1KJ] pays the wages of your labor [inVlJ/9 Ofr]" (2:16).6 The second of the three statements, attributed to R. Tarfon, is the most vivid: "The day is short, and the work is abundant, and the workers are lazy, and the wages pDttf ] are high, and the master of the house presses" (2:15).7 The individual's lifetime is imagined here as the term of a day laborer, who, under the law of Lev 19:13 and Deut 24:14-15, receives wages at the end of the day (cf. John 9:4). R. Tarfon's portrait is likely meant to pair with the following maxim toward the end of the third chapter, from the mouth of R. Akiva, a regular interlocutor of R. Tarfon: "The shop is open, and the shopkeeper sells on credit [Tpi]. The ledger is open, and the hand writes, and collectors go about continuously, extracting [from] people willy-nilly" (3:16).8

Cf. Matt 6:19-20, contrasting one who stores up treasure on earth with one who stores up treasure in heaven. But in Matthew, the former is not wicked. A comparison of Prov 11:18 and Matt 6:19-20 suggests that the notion that accumulation of wealth is itself sinful originates, in part, in the metaphorical conceptualization of obedience to God in economic terms. The impulse toward symmetry finds its resolution in the characterization of the concrete pursuit of economic gain per se as sin. 6 Quotations from the Mishnah follow the text of MS Kaufmann. 7 On the oft-noted resemblance between R. Tarfon's statement and Hippocrates' famous reflection on the brevity of life, seeAmramTropper, Wisdom, Politics, and Historiography: Tractate Avot in the Context ofthe Graeco-Roman Near East (Oxford Oriental Monographs; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) 174. For further discussion of Abot 2:15, and of H D t f ("wages") in rabbinic literature more generally, see Jonathan Wyn Schofer, The Making of a Sage: A Study in Rabbinic Ethics (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005) 129-34. 8 "From" (p) occurs in the margin of MS Kaufmann. Homoioteleuton probably explains the word's omission; cf. the final *|- of 11S71S3 ("extracting"). For 3/ hiphil meaning "to sell on credit," see Eliezer Ben Yehuda, A Complete Dictionary ofAncient and Modern Hebrew (17 vols.; New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1960) 5:3803-4, 7:5857-58; Menahem Moreshet, A Lexicon of the New Verbs in Tannaitic Hebrew (in Hebrew; Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press, 1980) 319.

712 THE CATHOLIC BIBLICAL QUARTERLY | 73,2011 R. Akiva's pronouncement imagines God as a shopkeeper, collecting customers' debtspunishing them for their sinson a regular basis. There are two reasons to think that, despite their textual distance from each other in Abot, the tractate offers the metaphors of the hireling and of the shopkeeper as complements, with the first conceptualizing obedience (reward) and the second sin (punishment). First, R. Tarfon's and R. Akiba's statements share the same distinctive style of detailed elaboration through paratactic, staccato clauses. Second, the shopkeeper's claim against her customer and the laborer's claim against her employer occur together elsewhere in rabbinic law. Thus, for example, the following rule (with qualifying clauses elided) occurs in m. Shebi. 10:1: "The sabbatical year voids loans Store credit is not voided The laborer's wages are not voided." The Mishnah first restates the biblical rule: loans scheduled to come due on or after the sabbatical year become void with the sabbatical year. Two and only two exceptions are articulated: the customer's debt to the storekeeper, and the employer's to her employee.9 The connection between R. Tarfon's and R. Akiva's maxims suggests that Abot uses the metaphor of the hireling tofigureobedience (reward) alone: to represent sin (punishment), it turns to the relationship between shopkeeper and customer. In the next section I demonstrate the prevalence, in the Hebrew Bible and the Book of Ben Sira, of the other usage of the hireling metaphor, the one rooted in hope and despair, distress and comfort, and exemplified above by Ruth 2:12.1 show that in this context, the metaphor of the hireling belongs to a broader figurative schema that enjoys something of the symmetry of the metaphor of debt. In this schema, wages image reward, while the hireling's strenuous laborfigurespunishment. II. Hireling, Hope, Hopelessness A. Hope In most cases, the metaphorical representation of gainfromGod as hireling's wages in the Hebrew Bible and Ben Sira is closely connected to the expression of hope, where "hope" must not be equated with "cheerfulness" or even "optimism," but instead with expectant waiting. This connection with hope derives from the situation of the hireling, whose posture toward wages is characteristically hopeful. Thus, Job 7:2 speaks of the hireling (TOW) who "waits for" (mp**) his wages (f7S7D).
9 See also m. Shebu. 7:1, where employee wages and store credit occurfirstand last, respectively, in the list of cases where "one swears and collects." The contrast between the employer, who pays wages ("Dttf) to his workers, and the storekeeper's collectors, who "extract" ("p5nD:i in Abot 3:16) payment from his customers, is reflected in the standard tannaitic contrast between "tP ("reward") and JTfljniD ("punishment"), as in, e.g., Met R. Ish. Bahodesh 4.

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Likewise, Deut 24:15 enjoins the employer to pay the hireling's wages (IDfr) immediately upon completion of the day's work, for the hireling is poor and "lifts 10 his soul" (ItfM mi) toward the wages (cf. Sir 7:20). In the Hebrew Bible, hope as a feature of the hireling metaphor is most explicit in Jer 31:16-17, where God beseeches Rachel to cease from weeping for her absent children, "for there are wages [3&] for your labor ["|n*?S?D] . . . and there is a hope [mpn] for your future ]." This hope will be realized in the return of her children to their land. As in Ruth, the promise of wages is meant to provide solace: the weeping woman to whom God extends this promise has heretofore refused to be comforted

(Jer 31:14, amrftruxo).


The future orientation of the hireling metaphor underlies other cases in which children are characterized as 3& from God, as in Gen 30:18, where Leah calls her son Issachar (312) on the ground that God paid her wages (HDtP . . . ]\) for having given her maidservant to her husband, and in Ps 127:3, where "the fruit of the womb" is identified as "wages" (3) from God. The above material illuminates Gen 15:1-2, where, having been promised very great wages (KE "pDttf) by God, Abraham, making note of his childlessness, complains: "what can you give me, seeing that I shall die disgraced?"11 Because children are 3& par excellence, any promised reward that does not include them is not worthy of the name. The corollary of future hope is present distress. Indeed, in the case of Jeremiah's Rachel, it is likely her very distress that constitutes the "labor" for which she is to receive wages.12 God's pledge to Abraham begins with the characteristic oracular declaration of salvation, "do not fear" ( *7N), and thus highlights Abraham's anxiety. While there is no explicit reference to comfort in Abraham's case, the Hebrew Bible elsewhere characterizes the act of allaying fear as a kind of comforting. Thus, for example, when, after Jacob's death, Joseph confirms that he intends to provide for his brothers and wishes them no harm, his reassurance is conveyed as follows, in language that closely echoes Ruth's conversation with Boaz: "'And now, do not fear [1 *?X]; I shall provide for you and your children.' And he comforted [DITTI] them, and spoke to their hearts [U2b * ? S 7 "DTI]" (Gen

10 For the same idiom outside the context of wages, see Ps 25:1-3, where the petitioner pleads: "To you, LORD, I lift my soul [XPX "^M]. . . . Let none who look to you [Tip] be disappointed." See Jeffrey H. Tigay, Deuteronomy Will: The Traditional Hebrew Text with the NewJPS Translation (JPS Torah Commentary; Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1996) 390 n. 51. 11 On , "disgraced," see Edward L. Greenstein, "The Language of Job and Its Poetic Function," JBL 122 (2003) 651-66, here 655. God's pledge to Abraham, TX TDtP, in Gen 15:1 may have inspired 7127\ "OTH1 ("and the wages are high") in m. Abot 2:15. 12 The view that her work is that of childbearing or childrearing (for which see, e.g., William L. Holladay, Jeremiah 2: A Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah Chapters 26-52 [Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989] 188) seems to find little support in the Jeremiah passage itself.

714 THE CATHOLIC BIBLICAL QUARTERLY | 73,2011 50:21; see also Isa 51:12-13; Ps 23:4). In light of the association of allaying fear with comforting, the promise of wages in Gen 15:1-2 looks even closer to the promise of the same in Ruth 2:12 and Jer 31:16-17.13 The depiction of the obedient actor as a hireling hoping for his wages occurs at several points in the Book of Ben Sira. The prayer for the restoration of Zion in Sir 36:21 includes the request: 1 TW2 TW rfW9 V % "give those who wait for you their wages [], that your prophets may be found trustworthy []" (MS B).14 The phrase "pV r?M may allude to Job 7:2, TDfeDI l^yD mp\ quoted above; the two roots do not elsewhere occur together in the Hebrew Bible. The Sirach verse resembles Jer 31:16-17 in that the work for which wages accrue seems to be the very act of persistently looking toward God, and not independent acts of obedience to God's will. Outside of Sir 36:21 and the concluding psalm (Sirach 51), Greek occurs in four other contexts in the book, of which two involve the metaphorical usage that is of interest here.15 The first is Sir 2:8, in the midst of a paraenetic discourse urging hope in God in times of trial (2:7, "wait for his mercy"; 2:9, "hope for good things"): "You who fear the Lord, have faith [] in him, and your wages [] will not fail."16 In the Syriac, the second half of the verse reads: whwlmbyt ^grkwn, "and he will not keep your wages overnight." On this version, Sir 2:8 alludes to Lev 19:13, which enjoins that "the wages of a hireling [TDttf lf?S7D] shall not remain with you until morning." The Syriac version is likely secondary, but it highlights what is implicit in the Greek: hope in God qua faithful employer is not misplaced.17
For the explicit characterization of future reward as comfort, see Saul Lieberman, ed., Midrash Debarim Rabbah (1964; repr., Jerusalem: Shalem, 1992) 77: R. Abahu "saw the reward [3] that the Holy One, blessed be He, was to grant him in the future . . . , and when he saw all these comforts [mana] prepared, he said, 'All these are Abahu's.'" 14 On this prayer, see Menahem Kister, "The Prayers of the Seventh Book of the Apostolic Constitutions and Their Implications for the Formulation of the Synagogue Prayers" (in Hebrew), Tarbiz 11 (2008) 205-38, esp. 224-25, and the literature cited therein. 15 The other two instances occur in Sir 11:18 and 34:27. On the former, see n. 19 below. The latter occurs in an injunction against denying hirelings their wages. 16 Alexander A. Di Leila ("Fear of the Lord and Belief and Hope in the Lord amid Trials: Sirach 2:1-18," in Wisdom, You Are My Sister: Studies in Honor of Roland E. Murphy, O. Carm., on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday [ed. Michael L. Barr; CBQMS 29; Washington: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1997] 188-204, here 191) reviews manuscript evidence for ("fall") instead of ("fail," literally "stumble"). If is original, it is not impossible that the reference is to accrual or payment (for this meaning, see LS J, 1407, s.v. ) and that the word "not" ( ) represents a secondary addition. But is the lectio difflcilior, and . Z. Segal (VbVTl KTO 30 [Jerusalem: Bialik, 1953] 11) plausibly accounts for it. 17 1 see no hint of Lev 19:13 in the Greek, pace the apparent position of Di Leila ("Fear," 199: "In 2:8b Ben Sira gives a creative exegesis of Lev 19:13: 'your reward will not fail,' implying that the Lord will not hold your wages"). In alluding to Lev 19:13, the Syriac may have read the verse's
13

THE DYNAMICS OF A BIBLICAL METAPHOR 715 In Sir 11:20-22, Ben Sira again counsels the righteous to await their reward patiently. The parenthetical Hebrew isfromMS A:
Stand by your covenant [; ], and attend to it, and in your work [; inaino] grow old. Do not wonder at the works of a sinner, but have faith [] in the Lord, and continue [] your labor [].... The Lord's blessing is in the wages [] of a pious person, and in a short time his good pleasure [] flourishes.

These verses bristle with text-critical challenges. The most important, for our purposes, concerns the last phrase in v. 21. The Greek has "continue your labor," while the Hebrew has 111*0 nip, "wait for his light." The Syriac (qw3 bnwhrh) parallels the Hebrew. It is difficult to account for the Greek as a misconstrual of a Hebrew Vorlage of this sort.18 But it is possible to construct a Vorlage for the Greek that is close to the Hebrew in diction and sense. The imperative may reflect mp; in the LXX, this verb often renders the near-synonymous root 3. "Your labor" in Sir 11:21 may be irfryD; renders lf?S7D in Isa 49:4. The reconstructed Vorlage, "[1?^*? nip, conveys the same message of hopeful waiting for one's reward as the Hebrew of M S A, albeit with a slightly different emphasis. The occurrence of rtoD in Sir 36:21, analyzed above, supports this reconstruction. The other relevant textual problem occurs in 11:22, where the Greek has "wages" and "his good pleasure" but the Hebrew has *? ("lot") and IJIIpn ("his hope"). The occurrence of the phrase D^TCH *7TU in Ps 125:3 constitutes one reason to think that pHX *7 in M S A reflects the secondary influence of a biblical formulation, and that "wages" is original.19 Additional evidence for this hypothesis comes from the parallelism of 3& and mpn in Jer 31:16-17. On this pattern, we may suppose that Sir 11:22 originally had "wages" (as reflected in the Greek) and "his hope" (as in the Hebrew). However these problematic passages are to be reconstructed, Sir 11:20-22 clearly reflects a close association between the metaphor of the hireling and the rhetoric of hope.20
"night" metaphorically, to refer to the troubles besetting Ben Sira's addressee. Thus, God will not let this "night" pass without making good on the promise of wages. Cf. Yannai's qedushta to Gen 15:1 (ed. Rabinowitz, 1:139), where the poet praises God for showing Abraham his reward, 1?] 1 TDttf "DtP ^, "for he did not withhold the hireling's wages overnight." Possibly Yannai has in mind the fact that God's reassurance comes at night. 18 Segal ODO, 72) suggests that the Greek read "pli. 19 The distance between "lot" and "wages" becomes smaller in light of Sir 11:18, in the pericope immediately preceding the current one, where the Greek reads: "the portion of his wages" ( ). Note in any case that even the Greek includes an explicit reference to wages, if not in 11:22 then in 11:18. 20 All three of the above cases of wages in Ben Sira include references to faith, as does m.

716 THE CATHOLIC BIBLICAL QUARTERLY | 73,2011 B. Hopelessness If in the above examples the image of the hireling evokes hope, Job employs the hireling, on the contrary, as a figure of despair.21 In chap. 7, Job describes humankind's days as "like those of a hireling [TDtP]" (v. 1), and humankind "like a hireling [TDtf] who waits for his wages" (v. 2). He proceeds, in this vein, to detail how hefindsno rest, day or night, and that his days come to an end "without hope [mpn]" (v. 6).22 Job meditates again on the nature of human life in chap. 14, and here, too, it is characterized by labor and marked with hopelessness. Job asks that God turn aside and let a person be, "until, like a hireling [TDto], he finishes out [nXT] his day" (v. 6).23 Job immediately proceeds to contrast humankind with a tree, which alone has "hope" (mpn), in that it is capable of renewing itself (v. 7). How can the image of the hireling at once evoke hope (as in the examples in the preceding discussion) and despair (as in Job 7 and 14)? An observation by Naphtali H. Tur-Sinai on Job 14:6 provides a starting point for one possible solution. Attempting to account for the verb \ which ordinarily implies satisfaction of an obligation, he posits that the verse refers "not to any hireling in general, but to a hireling who is behind in his work and must 'make good his day' to his master by an additional day's work."24 We may alternatively imagine a situation, well attested in other contexts in the ancient Near East, where the hireling has been paid wholly or partially in advance.25 In either case, this approach supposes that the despair of Job's hireling originates in the fact that he does not, in the particular situation, expect future wages for his work. But this approach cannot explain the figAbot 2:16. Cf. also (and for this observation I am indebted to Mark Nussberger) Gen 15:6, where, in the aftermath of God's promise of wages to Abraham (15:1), we hear that Abraham had faith (&) in God. On faith in the Hebrew Bible and Ben Sira (in the latter, it is suggested, the divine test targets faith rather than obedience), see Jacob Licht, Testing in the Hebrew Scriptures and in Post-Biblical Judaism (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1973) 69-73. 21 On metaphors in Job, see Eliezer (Ed) Greenstein, "Remarks on Some Metaphors in the Book of Job," Studies in Bible and Exegesis 9 (2009) 231-41. 22 See the subtle analysis of this passage in Carol A. Newsom, The Book of Job: A Contest of Moral Imaginations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003) 132-35. 23 The rendering of HST as "he finishes out" depends on the NJPSVand is only approximate. On the root 2, see Anderson, "From Israel's Burden," 19-30, and see the discussion in the next paragraph and in n. 30 below. 24 Naphtali H. Tur-Sinai, The Book of Job: A New Commentary (Jerusalem: Kiryath Sepher, 1967)234. 25 See, e.g., Gudrun Dosch, "Non-Slave Labor in Nuzi," in Labor in the Ancient Near East (ed. Marvin A. Powell; AOS 68; New Haven: American Oriental Society, 1987) 223-35, esp. 232 ("In most cases a person received wages for reaping a certain field in advance and then had to do the labor at harvest time"); G. G. Giorgadze, "Two Forms of Non-Slave Labour in Hittite Society," in ibid., 251-55, esp. 252 ("Payment for hire was made both in advance and after completion of the period of hire"); Meir Ayali, V'm 903 Diaym DnDiOfc rosolio D^sns (Givatayim: Yad la-Talmud, 1987) 45 (on payment at the beginning of the workday in a counterfactual in an amoraic parable).

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uration of Job's predicament through the hireling of 7:1-2, who is explicitly characterized as waiting for his wages. A partial solution to the paradox lies in the elasticity of the hireling's term of labor. Not unlike Abot 2:15, Job maps this term onto the entirety of the human life span, but in contrast to R. Tarfon, he does not contemplate an afterlife in which one might enjoy the wages of one's labor.26 The failure to secure "wages" in the form of a payout after death resonates with the concrete experience of laborers in the biblical world, where employers might delay or refuse payment of wages, and workers were left with little or no effective recourse.27 But the precarious nature of the hireling's claim against the employer can play only a subsidiary role in Job's employment of the hireling as a figure of despair, not only because Job makes no reference to it but also because the hireling waiting for wages pairs in 7:2 with the slave who longs for the evening shade, an object to which the slave must, in the ordinary course of things, attain.28
26

On future expectation and the afterlife in the Hebrew Bible, see generally Jon D. Levenson, Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006). Insofar as the rhetoric of labor, hope, and wages is closely connected to the themes developed in Levenson's book, this essay may be taken as complementing it. 27 This possibility is implicit in Lev 19:13 and Deut 24:14-15, which legislate vividly against the practice. See also Mai 3:5, where the prophet condemns offending employers. Even the gods are not immune to such abuse: Poseidon recalls to Apollo how they worked for a human employer for one year, Poseidon building Troy's walls and Apollo herding cattle, "[b]ut when the changing seasons brought on the time for our labour to be paid, then headstrong Laomedon violated and made void all our hire, and sent us away, and sent threats after us," in particular, a threat to sell them into slavery (Homer //. 21.411-54). The translation is from Richard Lattimore, The Iliad of Homer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951) 430. For the socioeconomic context of this passage, see Moses I. Finley, The Ancient Economy (Sather Classical Lectures 43; updated ed.; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999) 66. On the continuity of the worlds of the Bible and of Greek epic with respect to abuse of the poor, hirelings among them, see Jonathan Ben-Dov, "The Poor's Curse: Exodus xxii 20-26 and Curse Literature in the Ancient World," VT56 (2006) 431-51. 28 In the verses that follow (Job 7:3-4), Job describes himself as inheriting "vanity" and as suffering from sleeplessness. David J. A. Clines (Job 1-20 [WBC 17; Dallas: Word, 1989] 184) convincingly reads these verses as elaborations of Job 7:2: "If he feels himself a hired laborer, he knows he will not have the satisfaction of receiving his wages at the end of the day.... Or if he feels himself a hard-pressed slave whose only pleasure is to anticipate the shade of evening, hefindsthat his evenings are no welcome relief." (Evidence that the evening's benefit to the slave is sleep comes less from Matt 20:12, cited by Clines, than from Eccl 5:11.) But the reflections in Job 7:3-4 are particular to Job himself, while Job 7:1-2 describes the universal human condition, of which Job has now become acutely aware, and this in terms of the typical slave and the typical hireling. Job 7:1-2 must therefore be understood on its own terms, independent from the additional turns of the screw, specific to Job, elaborated in the verses that follow. At the same time, I contend that, although Job describes himself alone as without hope (7:6), and not, in so many words, the hireling and the slave of 7:2, the integrity of this rhetorical unit (7:1-6) necessarily implicates them too, as such, in Job's despair. This approach draws ample supportfromthe hireling of Job 14, who is likewise implicated in the hopelessness of the human condition. See Sir 40:1-6, which begins by characterizing all of

718 THE CATHOLIC BIBLICAL QUARTERLY | 73,2011 What the slave and the hireling share is not the uncertain realization of their goals but the unhappiness of their present, burdened state, an unhappiness manifest in their focused attention on the end of their work period. The equivalence that Job draws between the hireling and the conscript (7:1; 14:6,14) confirms that the negative usage of the image of the hireling derives first and foremost from the hireling's disagreeable experience qua worker. Like the hireling and the slave, the conscript, too, looks forward to the end of the work: "all the time of my service p m ] I wait |>] until my replacement pJlD^n] comes" (14:14).29 The roots *7\ used here for the conscript, and mp, predicated of the hireling in Job 7:2, are more or less synonymous. Through the implicit comparison of the hireling anticipating wages with the slave who awaits the evening shade and the conscript who looks forward to a replacement, Job drains the hireling's wages of their positive valence. They signify not the reward for the hireling's labor, but simply the end of that labor. With wages thus occluded, what resonates is the labor itself, in all its unhappiness.30 Even in Genesis 15, Jeremiah 31, Ruth 2, and Ben Sira, as observed above, the notion of "wages" occurs precisely as a prospect, in the context of an anxious or trying present. By reducing that prospect to a boundary point, one that reflects back on rather than directing attention awayfromthe hireling's trying present, Job manages to make the hireling an image of hopelessness. I observed in the first section of this essay that the metaphor of the hireling, in its prospective usage, wherein it attempts to motivate action by promising reward, seems incapable offiguringsin or punishment because the worst alternative, in the terms of the metaphor, is simply the absence of reward. But the passages from Job cited above demonstrate that in the alternative usage of the hireling metaphor, the one rooted in the concrete hireling's intermingled hope and despair,
"Adam's sons" as bearing a yoke, and as ravaged by fear and hope for the future, then immediately afterward depicts human beings' restlessness upon their beds. The juxtaposition of workfigured by Adam's yoke and by the reference to hopeand sleeplessness may owe a debt to the beginning of Job 7. 29 The NJPSVs rendering of ^ as "replacement" receives confirmation from the attestation of ^ in the context of another , the military ranks of the War Scroll. See, e.g., 1QM 16.11. In context, the conscript's HD^n contrasts ironically with that of the cut tree. His replacement is a distinct person, with whom the conscript has no connection, while the tree stump sends forth new shoots (^) from itself and thus enjoys an afterlife. 30 This explanation is as apt for Job 14:6 as for Job 7:1-2. Pace Tur-Sinai (Book of Job, 234), the fact that the hireling of 14:6 serves under compulsion does not mean that there is no prospect of future wages. The despairing force of the hireling metaphor in this verse does not depend on the absence of future wages any more than does that of the same metaphor in 7:1-2, where the hireling's wages are explicitly mentioned. It depends, rather, on the placing of rhetorical emphasis on the hireling's work rather than on the hireling's wages. Given the parallelism between the roots 2 and la in Isa 40:2 and 2 Chr 36:21, the sense of 2 in Job 14:6 is likely similar to that of K^ in Gen 29:21, where Jacob, demanding his wife Rachel as wages for his seven years of labor on behalf of Laban, observes: W 1*00, "my days are completed." On Jacob's employ, see also n. 33 below.

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719

the misery of the labor can itself have metaphorical resonance. Indeed, the continuity between hireling and conscript that is implicit in Job points toward the most fundamental metaphor for punishment in classical Biblical Hebrew, that conveyed by the phrase "to bear one's sin" (3/tf D/lW/Kn Nfci). Baruch J. Schwartz, in an article that clarifies many features of the expression Nfei (I use as a metonym for the set of sin terms that occur as objects of NPJ), nevertheless leaves the image it conveys curiously abstract: "a person's sins are figured as a burden. A person's evil deed, having been accomplished, is as it were a load, a burden that one must bear."31 But in what context is this burden borne? The sinner seems to be imagined as a corve laborer, whose activity is expressed, paradigmatically, through the verb *730 ("to bear a load") but also through the more or less synonymous verb Xttfl32 Thus, for example, when the community lamenting in the final chapter of Lamentations complains of having to bear its fathers' sins (1$7 ^), it is imagining itself as a crew of conscripted laborers. In the remainder of this section, I follow up on Job 7 and 14, developing two points of contact between the biblical hireling, on the one hand, and the slave and the conscript on the other. These points of contact confirm that the hireling belongs to a metaphorical continuity capable of expressing not only reward (through wages) but also punishment (through labor). First, the hireling may commit to an employer for an extended period of time, sometimes with severe restrictions on liberty. In biblical literature, the phrases TOfcn ntf 1 1 1 and ntf 11 TDtP (Exod 12:45; Lev 22:10; 25:6,40) have persuasively been interpreted as hendiadyses indicating the "resident hireling," a hireling who contracts out labor for an extended period of time and lives in the employer's home. 33 Such a hireling can also be described as a TDitf, without modification, at least in nonlegal texts. Thus, for example, Isa 16:14 refers to a span of three years as "like the years of a hireling."34 Although
Baruch J. Schwartz, "'Term' or MetaphorBiblical 7#D/flS? & (in Hebrew), Tarbiz 63 (1994) 149-71, esp. 164. The translation is mine. The argument of this article is summarized and further developed in Baruch J. Schwartz, "The Bearing of Sin in the Priestly Literature," in Pomegranates and Golden Bells: Studies in Biblical, Jewish, and Near Eastern Ritual, Law, and Literature in Honor of Jacob Milgrom (ed. David P. Wright et al.; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1995) 3-21. 32 See Moshe Held, "The Root ZBL/SBL in Akkadian, Ugaritic, and Biblical Hebrew," JAOS 88 (1968) 90-96, esp. 92-96. 33 See Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus 23-27: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB 3B; New York: Doubleday, 2001) 2221-22, and at greater length, idem, "The Resident Hireling," in A Light for Jacob: Studies in the Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls in Memory of Jacob Shalom Licht (ed. Yair Hoffman and F. H. Polak; Jerusalem: Bialik, 1997) 1 0 M 3 * . One might characterize Jacob, as a shepherd in Laban's employ (on whom see n. 30 above), as just such a resident hireling; compare "p57 , "who dwell with you," predicated of the TDtP in Lev 25:6, to Jacob's claim (Gen 32:5), p*7 , "I have dwelled with Laban." 34 See also Isa 21:16 (MT and lQIsa a ). Milgrom (Leviticus 23-27, 2222) contends that "[i]n the laws," unmodified TDtP is always a day laborer, but his explanation for the apparent exception in Lev 25:50, 53 (p. 2239) is not altogether persuasive.
31

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biblical texts provide virtually no information about the nature of such long-term employment contracts, evidence from Mesopotamia and from the Zenon papyri suggests that hirelings so employed sometimes bound themselves to refrain from seeking alternative employment, or even from leaving the employer's residence, 35 until the term of employment was over. These data shed light on the numerous contexts in biblical literature where, as in Job 7:2, the slave and the hireling are imagined as more or less equivalent (see Lev 25:39-40; Deut 15:18; Sir 7:20). Cicero, who characterizes workers paid for their manual labor (as opposed to craftspersons compensated for their artistic skill) as slaves (Off. 1.150-51), would not have been far from the mark if he had said the same of the biblical world.36 The second important commonality between the hireling and the conscript here, to the exclusion of the slaveis that the conscript, like the hireling, typically receives something that may be characterized as wages. Thus, for example, tablets from Alalakh dated to the Old Babylonian period specify the wages (idu) or hire (igru; cf. Aram. ) of "the men of the forced labor [massu; cf. Hebrew 0ft]."37 Likewise, the depiction of Issachar ("DtPfeP) in Jacob's blessing (Gen 49:15) as one who "turned his shoulder to bearing [^O1?]" clearly depends on the (at least phonetic) relationship between the tribe's name and the word ^tf ("wages"), a relationship that also grounds the folk etymology of the tribal name in Gen

35 See Muhammad A. Dandamaev, "Free Hired Labor in Babylonia during the Sixth through Fourth Centuries BC," in Labor in the Ancient Near East (ed. Powell), 271-79, esp. 273 (contract stipulating that the employee may not leave for other work during the two-year employment period); H. Kreissig, "Free Labour in the Hellenistic Age," in Non-Slave Labour in the Greco-Roman World (ed. Peter Garnsey; Cambridge: Cambridge Philological Society, 1980) 30-33, esp. 31 (contract between Zenon and brick makers in which the latter pledge not to leave their place of work until they complete the job). In light of such contractual terms, the proposition that the Hebrew Bible's resident hireling, in contrast to the slave, "is a free person and can find another owner" (Milgrom, Leviticus 23-27, 2222), should probably be nuanced. 36 For Cicero's view and the claim that, in the Greco-Roman world, the most important distinction was between those who worked for themselves (e.g., independent farmers and craftspersons) and those who (slave or free) worked for others, see Finley, Ancient Economy, 73, 79-82, 185-87. On wages as a "scandal" for the otherwise highly respected architect in Augustus's Rome, see Mark Masterson, "Status, Pay, and Pleasure in the De Architectura of Vetruvius," American Journal of Philology 125 (2004) 387-416, esp. 389, 395-98. 37 These texts are quoted and analyzed in Nadav Na'aman, "From Conscription of Forced Labor to a Symbol of Bondage: Mas in the Biblical Literature," in "An Experienced Scribe Who Neglects Nothing": Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Honor of Jacob Klein (ed. Yitzhak Sephati et al.; Bethesda, MD: CDL, 2005) 746-58, esp. 747-48. Hartmut Waetzoldt likewise observes ("Compensation of Craft Workers and Officials in the Ur III Period," in Labor in the Ancient Near East [ed. Powell], 117-41, esp. 120) that "use of these terms [for worker compensation in the Ur III period] is no clear indication of the social status of the recipient. For example, one text records the 'wages of the hired worker(s),' but these hired workers belong to a class of people (eren2) who performed obligatory labor and/or military service."

THE DYNAMICS OF A BIBLICAL METAPHOR 721 30:16.38 The case of the Lvites provides another example. Above the age of twenty-five, they are enrolled to "participate in the work force [Xixb *Q!] in the service [*17]" of the tabernacle (Num 8:24). As in the case of corve work, their "service" involves, paradigmatically, bearing loads: it is N P 37, "the service of burdens" (Num 4:47).39 Nor is it optional. But Num 18:31 assigns them the tithe as wages (IDtP) in exchange for their labor (DDTOy).40 The blurry line between hireling and conscript may shed light on the opening section of Deutero-Isaiah (Isa 40:1-11). The declaration at the beginning of this passage depicts Jerusalem as having labored under compulsion, evidently in service : "her term of service [frOX] is over .. . her iniquity is satisfied [3]" (v. 1). The closing declaration, however, speaks of God coming with "wages" ("lDttf) and "recompense" (rfryD) (v. 10). The images are not incompatible: like Alalakh's corve laborers, like Issachar, like the Lvites, like Job's hireling, Israel has labored under compulsion, but with the hope, now imminently to be realized, of receiving wages.41 Indeed, Israel in Isaiah 40 closely resembles the "hireling" Ruth of Ruth 2:12-13. As in the case of Ruth, the promise of wages is part of a gesture of comforting (Isa 40:1,10310) and speaking to the heart (Isa 40:2, > *?y 127). Ruth has acted righteously, while Israel in Deutero-Isaiah has sinned, but both alike can be imagined as having labored in the past and due wages in the future.42 It is not altogether certain, as the above interpretation of Isa 40:1-11 assumes, that the wages of v. 10 belong to Israel rather than to God.43 In any case, however, the verbal echoes binding Isa 40:2 to Job 7; 14; and Ruth 2:12 reinforce the link between the positive metaphor of wages and the negative metaphor of corve work.44

See Na'aman, "From Conscription," 752. See Jacob Milgrom, Numbers 313: The Traditional Hebrew Text with theNewJPS Translation (JPS Torah Commentary; Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2004) 276-77. 40 "In exchange for" is ^; cf. ^, used of the conscript in a different sense in Job 14:14, on which see n. 29 above. 41 On *a in Isa 40:2, see n. 30 above. 42 Another case of punishment followed by comforting occurs in Isa 12:1 : "Though you were angry at me, your anger turned, and you comforted me [^ftmm]." 43 For the same assumption, see, e.g., Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 40-55: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB 19A; New York: Doubleday, 2000) 186. Against this assumption, see, e.g., Arnold B. Ehrlich, Mikr ki-Pheschut (3 vols.; 1899-1901; repr., New York: Ktav, 1969) 3:83-85, 151, and in particular the observation that in all other cases where the word "DIP occurs in the construct or with a possessive adjective, the specified individual is the recipient of the wages. 44 These echoes likewise suggest that, to the extent that the new metaphorical complex of credit and debt becomes manifest in Isaiah 40 (on this see Anderson, Sin, 43-54), it is organically related to the metaphorical complex of hireling, slave, and corve laborer.
39

38

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III. Conclusion I have traced in this essay the main lines of the theological employment of the metaphor of the hireling in the Hebrew Bible and Ben Sira. The hireling sometimes evokes hope, sometimes hopelessness, but in both cases, the present misery of the hirelingfigurescentrally. When the hireling serves as afigureof hope, her present misery is downplayed or given meaning in light of the future prospect of wages. Insofar as this prospect is, for one reason or another, less salient, the hireling's present misery allows the hireling to become afigureof despair. As one mired in unhappy labor, the hireling belongs to an extended metaphorical complex that expresses the entire range of relationships of the human and the divine, from faithfulness and reward to sin and punishment. Because the promise of wages responds, in immediate terms, not so much to the actor's righteous action as to her misery, the cause ofthat miserybe it the effort expended in obedience, the delay between act and reward, persecution by others, or even the actor's own sins becomes peripheral. Attentiveness to the present misery of the hireling, and to the hireling's hopeful looking toward wages, is absent from some usages of the metaphor of the hireling in the Hebrew Bible and in postbiblical literature. In these cases, the assurance of reward is not meant to provide hope for one on the verge of despair, but simply to convey God's reliability as an "employer" and to encourage assiduous "work." There is a horizon of expectation, but it is structured less by misery and hope than by calculation. Here, indeed, the metaphor of the hireling abstracts away from the situation of the hireling proper and instead gestures toward a more general calculus of act and consequence.

^ s
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