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In Job 1:21 we read:

And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. (KJV)

What I want to know is why he uses this 'term' refering to his mother's womb. Is there a nuanced meaning here that one needs to be aware of? Is this a precursor to him 'cursing his day' in chapter 3?

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    Up-voted +1. Job shall return to the dust from whence Adam came, of which Eve was made. He sees past the womb of Eve to the 'womb' of the earth from which came all organic life.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 26, 2022 at 17:49
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    Thanks for this comment, that is exactly the idea I got and why I asked. I was wondering if there was something in the Hebrew that I am missing.
    – user49416
    Apr 26, 2022 at 18:51
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    Perhaps an Hebrew expert will oblige us.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 26, 2022 at 18:52
  • @Nigel Now I understand where the term mother earth came from. Do you think when Adam calls Eve the mother of all living that he is referring to her Seed? In other words because of the death that's been passed on to all men, all return to the soil. (Ge. 3:19) Christ returns back to heaven where He is from along with a new creation inside of Him from the death of Adam that he was united to. Job seemed to have this hope as stated in Job 19:25. Job 15:14) also alludes to this Seed of the living.
    – Sherrie
    Apr 26, 2022 at 19:46
  • Adam are the Lord are so gracious to Eve after she was deceived, to give her hope from the despair of what she had done. Adam gives her a name of who she will become.
    – Sherrie
    Apr 26, 2022 at 19:46

3 Answers 3

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It is most probable that Job is alluding to the part of the curse found in Gen 3:19 -

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your bread, until you return to the ground—because out of it were you taken. For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

This idea is also echoed in Ps 139:15 -

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Note the comments of Ellicott on Job 1:21 -

Thither.—If taken literally, can only refer to the womb, which in that case must here mean the earth, with a probable allusion to Genesis 3:19. (Comp. Job 17:14.)

The Cambridge commentary offers a similar idea:

naked shall I return thither The general sense is plain, though the precise idea is obscure. The words “my mother’s womb” must be used literally, and return thither somewhat inexactly, to describe a condition similar to that which preceded entrance upon life and light. Or, as growth in the womb is described, Psalm 139:15, as “being curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth,” the womb and the bosom of the earth, “the mother of all,” may be compared together. “We brought nothing into the world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out,” 1 Timothy 6:7. All that man has is a gift of God which He may recall. Job blesses God alike who gave and who recalled.

The Pulpit commentary offers a slight variation:

And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither. There is some difficulty in the word "thither," since no man returns to his mother's womb (John 3:4), at death or otherwise. The expression must not be pressed. It arises out of the analogy, constantly felt and acknowledged, between "mother" earth and a man's actual mother (setup. Psalm 139:15).

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Job speaks of returning to God, from whence he came.

Jeremiah acknowledges that it is God who gives life to a child in the womb:

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)

A similar thought to Job's is expressed in Ecclesiastes:

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Eccl. 12:7)

"Return" implies going back to where something was before. Job & Ecclesiastes speak of returning to God, because we came from God.

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  • I understand it they way you explained it. What I want to know is why he uses this 'term' refering to his mother's womb. Is there a nuanced meaning here that one needs to be aware of?
    – user49416
    Apr 26, 2022 at 3:58
  • A modern idiom conveying a comparable idea would be "this is how I came into this world, and this is how I will go out of this world." The context is the death of his family about which he has just learned. He had nothing when he was born, and he realizes in the context of his great loss that - whatever he gains in this life he won't take it with him. The reference to his mother's womb is a means of referring to birth Apr 26, 2022 at 4:01
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It could be the case that Job was pointing his finger to the ground when he said 'return there'. Such expressions are lost when you record just verbal communication and not the body language.

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