I was raised reading the King James version of the Bible. So for me the archaic English is usually not a problem. In the past few years though, I’ve been reading from some newer translations, primarily from the New Living Translation. I find that it is accurate and much easier to read. Yet on occasion I will jump back into my trusty, well-worn KJV to read some passages. I did a few days ago and encountered the following verses.
For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both. – Job 9:32-33
What specifically stood out to me was the word ‘daysman‘. I’d never encountered it before. My KJV had a little number four next to the word, so I followed the reference to an alternate meaning – ‘umpire‘. Ok, batter up… No, not really. So I dug some more.
According to the Easton’s Bible Dictionary,
This word (daysman) is formed from the Latin diem dicere, i.e., to fix a day for hearing a cause. Such an one is empowered by mutual consent to decide the cause, and to “lay his hand”, i.e., to impose his authority, on both, and enforce his sentence.
I sensed there was more, so I looked up the word umpire.
From a Middle English word, noumpere. It “comes from the Old French nonper, made up of non, “not,” and per, “equal”: as an impartial arbiter of a dispute between two people, the arbiter is not equivalent to or a partisan of either of them.”
This brings things into a much clearer light. If I had simply read a modern translation I would have missed the nuance of what was being asked.
He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both – Job 9:32-33 (NIV)
If I was to simply look at the word arbitrate, or mediate, I would miss the fact that Yakach, the Hebrew word used, is really referring to someone that is not partial to the case, different, entirely set-apart from either party, someone who has no vested interest in the outcome.
But really, someone who has no vested interest in either? How could Job ever hope to have a case like that decided in his favor vs. God?
Likewise, how could we? The Bible tells me that my righteousness is literally just as disgusting as used maxi-pads (Isaiah 64:6). So no matter how much good we, or Job ever did, our effort would never measure up. The daysman would have to rule against us.
What we need is a mediator, one who stands in the middle bridging the gap to bring both parties of a dispute together. Thankfully we don’t have a daysman, we do have a mediator.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus – 1 Timothy 2:5
Unlike Job’s wished for daysman, our mediator is like us. But, he is also God. Therefore he is quite partial to the case, on both sides. He is intertwined with both parties and he does have a vested interest. He came to Earth for the specific mission of bridging the gap. Since he is the one doing it, my works or lack thereof are not a consideration in the case. The only thing that is considered is have I relied upon Jesus to place his hand on me, and allowed him to move me into his father’s presence.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus as my mediator. May I always rely on his righteousness and not mine. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Game over, all three of us win. Jan