Job continues, saying that human life is hard and filled with labor. Job has nothing to look forward to but further misery. His nights are sleepless, and his days are swift and hopeless. Life is as short as a breath, and when someone dies and goes to Sheol, they never return.
Job continues his response to Eliphaz’s speech. After his loss and suffering, he doesn’t find life worth living. He also doesn’t seem to anticipate life after death, at least not in a comforting form. Sheol is the abode of the dead in the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. It’s sometimes a poetic way of simply referring to the grave, other times a name for the dim realm where wicked souls reside after death. Whichever way the term is intended here, it’s not a cheerful place—or one from which a person hopes to return.
Because of all this, Job won’t hold back his words—he will express his “anguish” and “bitterness.” He feels like “the Sea, or the Dragon,” being guarded by God. When he tries to sleep, God sends nightmares. Job would rather be strangled to death than continue to live this way. Why does God treat human beings like this, visiting them daily and constantly testing them? Won’t he look away long enough for Job to swallow his spit? Why does God treat him this way?
In ancient Near Eastern literature, the sea is often associated with chaos, so a sea monster or “dragon” from the sea would be especially threatening. Job feels that God is watching him so closely it’s as if he is one of these dangerous creatures, something God sees as needing constant, watchful supervision. Indeed, God’s presence looms over Job’s life constantly—Job feels like he can’t even swallow. For Job, God is much too close for comfort.