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And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. (bold mine)

At Job 2:3, the word used for integrity is tummah (Strong's H8538). This word is only found in four other verses in the Bible (Job 2:9; 27:5; 31:6; Proverbs 11:3).

Other related Hebrew words translated as integrity are tom (Strong's H8537), tamim (Strong's H8549), and tam (Strong's H8535).

My question: How is tummah as used in Job 2:3 unique in that it was used to refer to Job himself and no one else? What special meaning does tummah have that other related Hebrew words cannot express?

4 Answers 4

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It Has No Special Significance

First things first, Job is poetry and in verse 2:3 the poet wanted to use a noun. This means that 8549 and 8535 are unusable in this context.

Looking at תֻּמָּה it is used twice in Job and always as being to Job. It is used by Job, his wife and God. תֹּם is used by Job (in a way that is translated as full) and by Eliphaz talking about the integrity of Job's way.

Why does the poet of Job use the less common word תֻּמָּה in 2:3 rather than תֹּם? I propose three suggestions, my preference is number two.

1. The poet simply prefers it, perhaps it is part of his idiosyncratic style. Perhaps when or where he was writing it was a more common word that the time/locale of the rest of the scriptures. Perhaps it is a more poetic term.

2. It sounds better, I do not claim to have an ear for ancient Hebrew poetry but this would explain why Eliphaz uses תֹּם in verse 4:6 since that is being coupled with the Hebrew word for way, and thus might want to use the shorter word. תֻּמָּה might also simply fit the meter more often.

2.b. It is used because תָּם (the adjective) is used earlier in 2:3 This does not explain the general preference, but in 2:3 the poet may want to use a word similar to תָּם (generally translated here as blameless), but not too similar.

3. תֹּם is ungraspable that is there may a bit of a special usage since in Job one of Job's dilemmas is whether he can continue to hold fast his integrity. תֹּם often belongs to the heart (Genesis 20:5, Genesis 20:6, 1 Kings 9:4, Psalm 78:72, Psalm 101:2, ) or is otherwise within (Psalm 7:8) so it could not be put away. Alternatively, it is a way (like in 4:6, Proverbs 10:29, Proverbs 13:6) or something one walks in (Psalm 26:1,11, Proverbs 10:9, Proverbs 19:1, Proverbs 20:7, Proverbs 28:6) . All of this is more liquidly than the more solid picture than Job paints.

To conclude, although there may be a subtle difference in mind-pictures between the holdable, droppable תֻּמָּה and the ever-present תֹּם, I think it is probably a matter of poetical sensibility for Job the poet to prefer תֻּמָּה to תֹּם in verse 2:3 and elsewhere.

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Job 2:3 New International Version

Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity [H8538], though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason."

Job was unique. There was no one like him. H8538 applies specifically only to Job's character. Outside of the book of Job, it appears only once in Proverbs 11:3

     The integrity of the upright     guides them,  
but the unfaithful                    are destroyed by their duplicity.

The word is related to being faithful.

Other related Hebrew words translated as integrity:

H8537 NASB Translation
blameless (1), full (1), full measure (1), innocently (1), integrity (16), random (2), upright (1).

H8549
blameless (22), blamelessly (1), complete (1), entire (1), full (1), intact (1), integrity (4), perfect (5), sincerity (1), unblemished (2), uprightly (1), who is perfect (1), whole (2), without blemish (12), without defect (36).

H8535
blameless (5), blameless man (1), complete (2), guiltless (3), integrity (1), peaceful (1), perfect one (2).

Of the 4 Hebrew words that are translated by NASB as integrity, only H8538 is always translated as integrity.

What is the significance of Hebrew word tummah at Job 2:3?

Job's faithful integrity was special. There was no one like him.

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  • Please don't take this the wrong way, but your answer restates everything that is in the links I mentioned. I am seeking to see how tummah is different.
    – agarza
    Jun 8, 2021 at 20:06
  • Did you mention "faith" anywhere in your question?
    – Tony Chan
    Jun 8, 2021 at 20:24
  • No, I did not. I totally agree that faith is necessary for integrity. So if faith is the key to tummah, then how is faith not the key with the other Hebrew words for integrity?
    – agarza
    Jun 8, 2021 at 20:52
  • Sorry, I don't know.
    – Tony Chan
    Jun 8, 2021 at 20:53
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Let us set out a few facts:

  • תֹּם (tom) is the masculine noun meaning completeness, integrity, 24 times in the OT, such as Gen 20:5, 6, Lev 25:29, 2 Sam 15:11, etc.
  • תֻּמָּה (tummah) is the feminine noun meaning integrity, 5 times in the OT as the OP has already noted.
  • תָּמַם (tamam) is the verb that is the root of the above two words meaning to be complete, to be finished, 61 times in the OT, eg, Gen 47:15, 18, Lev 26:20, Num 14:33, etc.

It is significant that outside the four instances of תֻּמָּה (tummah) in Job, where it used only of Job's integrity, it only occurs in Prov 11:3 -

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the perversity of the faithless destroys them.

Observe that תֻּמָּה (tummah) is used to describe the integrity of the person as claimed by the person. That is, Job's תֻּמָּה (tummah) is never declared by God but only ever claimed by himself. In the end, God had to severely reprove Job (Job 38, 29, 40, 41) who repents (Job 42:1-6).

This is subtlety different from our other masculine noun, תֹּם (tom) but is more objective, Prov 2:7, 10:9, 29, 13:6, 19:1, 20:7, 28:6, etc.

It is significant that when God declares Job to be "blameless [ תָּם (tam, Adj.) from the same root verb תָּמַם (tamam)] and upright [ יָשָׁר (yashar, Adj.)]" (Job 1:1, 8, 2:3), the feminine noun תֻּמָּה (tummah) is not used.

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JOB 2:3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.

The use of (תֻּמָּה) tummâh is precise, but to understand or ‘see’ why requires some foundation. The meaning the English should take from it should arguably be ‘innocence, or naive’. Now let’s outline why ....

Job is arguably the oldest book of the Bible, with some slight disagreement as to when in Biblical history he lived - arguably he lived after all the sons of Jacob died and before Moses. But we don’t need precision in order to come to the conclusion that he lived pre (Mosaic) Law, but lived ‘under’ Noahide Law.

Noahide Law taught ‘right living’ - but it did not specifically have rituals or even an understanding of ‘covering unrighteousness’ [correctly]. So for example we see Job naively attempting to ‘cover’ the ‘sins’ of his sons and daughters.

Satan (the accuser) in this verse is arguing ‘technicalities’ - he, as he did in chapter 1, is exploiting error in Jobs ‘method’ of dealing with unrighteousness, and in particular, how Job is ‘opening’ a door to him (ha-Satan) with his ‘mouth’.

PROVERBS 6:2 you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth.

So we see the Lord saying ... “you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”. That is, Job was ‘doing his best, trying to ‘live right’ - and succeeding - but ‘’technically” not quite ‘doing it right’, giving the ‘accuser’ a foothold. But Job didn’t know any better. [yet - he learnt later that his ‘words’ were opening the door.].

This ‘lack of knowledge’ also lead his friends onto all sorts of rabbit trails as to why ‘stuff’ was happening to Job. So naivety, innocence - tummâh is the right word. tummâh in its depth means innocence.

(Although under Noahide practice the head of the family could act as ‘high priest’, Jobs offspring had effectively ‘divorced’ themselves from that protection. Job was acting ‘in ignorance’. [lack of knowledge]. Arguably the procedure for those ‘in rebellion’ was to ‘let them go’ [release them] from ‘covering/protection’.)

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  • "tummâh in its depth means innocence due to naivety" Could you supply a reference for this statement?
    – agarza
    Jun 8, 2021 at 20:04
  • @agarza - ‘tummâ’ (transliteration), from the root word ‘תֹּם ‘ - innocence, simplicity: הלכים לתמם. I agree that the the link from simplicity to ‘naivety’ is one I took, therefore not clear, so I have edited it out. Nevertheless (even though) the ‘innocence’ here in tummah is a result of not knowing.
    – Dave
    Jun 9, 2021 at 4:11

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