An Appeal for Revelation
1 “I#tn The Hebrew has נַפְשִׁי (nafshi), usually rendered “my soul.” am weary#tn The verb is pointed like a Qal form but is originally a Niphal from קוּט (qut). Some wish to connect the word to Akkadian cognates for a meaning “I am in anguish”; but the meaning “I am weary” fits the passage well. of my life;
I will complain without restraint;#tn The verb עָזַב (’azav) means “to abandon.” It may have an extended meaning of “to let go” or “to let slip.” But the expression “abandon to myself” means to abandon all restraint and give free course to the complaint.
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
2 I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn#tn The negated jussive is the Hiphil jussive of רָשַׁע (rasha’); its meaning then would be literally “do not declare me guilty.” The negated jussive stresses the immediacy of the request. me;
tell me#tn The Hiphil imperative of יָדַע (yada’) would more literally be “cause me to know.” It is a plea for God to help him understand the afflictions. why you are contending#tn The verb is רִיב (riv), meaning “to dispute; to contend; to strive; to quarrel” – often in the legal sense. The precise words chosen in this verse show that the setting is legal. The imperfect verb here is progressive, expressing what is currently going on. with me.’
3 Is it good for you#tn Or “Does it give you pleasure?” The expression could also mean, “Is it profitable for you?” or “Is it fitting for you?” to oppress,#tn The construction uses כִּי (ki) with the imperfect verb – “that you oppress.” Technically, this clause serves as the subject, and “good” is the predicate adjective. In such cases one often uses an English infinitive to capture the point: “Is it good for you to oppress?” The LXX changes the meaning considerably: “Is it good for you if I am unrighteous, for you have disowned the work of your hands.”
to#tn Heb “that you despise.” despise the work of your hands,
while#tn Now, in the second half of the verse, there is a change in the structure. The conjunction on the preposition followed by the perfect verb represents a circumstantial clause. you smile#tn The Hiphil of the verb יָפַע (yafa’) means “shine.” In this context the expression “you shine upon” would mean “have a glowing expression,” be radiant, or smile.
on the schemes of the wicked?
Motivations of God
4 “Do you have eyes of flesh,#tn Here “flesh” is the sign of humanity. The expression “eyes of flesh” means essentially “human eyes,” i.e., the outlook and vision of humans.
or do you see#sn The verb translated “see” could also include the figurative category of perceive as well. The answer to Job’s question is found in 1 Sam 16:7: “The Lord sees not as a man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” as a human being sees?#sn In this verse Job asks whether or not God is liable to making mistakes or errors of judgment. He wonders if God has no more insight than his friends have. Of course, the questions are rhetorical, for he knows otherwise. But his point is that God seems to be making a big mistake here.
5 Are your days like the days of a mortal,
or your years like the years#tn The Hebrew has repeated here “like the days of,” but some scholars think that this was an accidental replacement of what should be here, namely, “like the years of.” D. J. A. Clines notes that such repetition is not uncommon in Job, but suggests that the change should be made for English style even if the text is not emended (Job [WBC], 221). This has been followed in the present translation.sn The question Job asks concerns the mode of life and not just the length of it (see Job 7:1). Humans spend their days and years watching each other and defending themselves. But there is also the implication that if God is so limited like humans he may not uncover Job’s sins before he dies. of a mortal,
6 that#tn The clause seems to go naturally with v. 4: do you have eyes of flesh…that you have to investigate? For that reason some like Duhm would delete v. 5. But v. 5 adds to the premise: are you also like a human running out of time that you must try to find out my sin? you must search out#tn The imperfect verbs in this verse are best given modal nuances. Does God have such limitations that he must make such an investigation? H. H. Rowley observes that Job implies that God has not yet found the iniquity, or extracted a confession from him (Job [NCBC], 84). my iniquity,
and inquire about my sin,
7 although you know#tn Heb עַל־דַּעְתְּךָ (’al da’tÿkha, “upon your knowledge”). The use of the preposition means basically “in addition to your knowledge,” or “in spite of your knowledge,” i.e., “notwithstanding” or “although” (see GKC 383 §119.aa, n. 2). that I am not guilty,
and that there is no one who can deliver#tn Heb “and there is no deliverer.”sn The fact is that humans are the work of God’s hands. They are helpless in the hand of God. But it is also unworthy of God to afflict his people.
out of your hand?
Contradictions in God’s Dealings
8 “Your hands have shaped#tn The root עָצַב (’atsav) is linked by some to an Arabic word meaning “to cut out, hew.” The derived word עֲצַבִּים (’atsabbim) means “idols.” Whatever the precise meaning, the idea is that God formed or gave shape to mankind in creation. me and made me,
but#tn The verb in this part is a preterite with the vav (ו) consecutive. However, here it has merely an external connection with the preceding perfects, so that in reality it presents an antithesis (see GKC 327 §111.e). now you destroy me completely.#tn Heb “together round about and you destroy me.” The second half of this verse is very difficult. Most commentators follow the LXX and connect the first two words with the second colon as the MT accents indicate (NJPS, “then destroyed every part of me”), rather than with the first colon (“and made me complete,” J. E. Hartley, Job [NICOT], 185). Instead of “together” some read “after.” Others see in סָבִיב (saviv) not so much an adjectival use but a verbal or adverbial use: “you turn and destroy” or “you destroy utterly (all around).” This makes more sense than “turn.” In addition, the verb form in the line is the preterite with vav consecutive; this may be another example of the transposition of the copula (see 4:6). For yet another option (“You have engulfed me about altogether”), see R. Fuller, “Exodus 21:22: The Miscarriage Interpretation and the Personhood of the Fetus,” JETS 37 (1994): 178.
9 Remember that you have made me as with#tn The preposition “like” creates a small tension here. So some ignore the preposition and read “clay” as an adverbial accusative of the material (GKC 371 §117.hh but cf. 379 §119.i with reference to beth essentiae: “as it were, by clay”). The NIV gets around the problem with a different meaning for the verb: “you molded me like clay.” Some suggest the meaning was “as [with] clay” (in the same manner that we have “as [in] the day of Midian” [Isa 9:4]). the clay;
will#tn The text has a conjunction: “and to dust….” you return me to dust?
10 Did you not pour#tn The verb נָתַךְ (natakh) means “to flow,” and in the Hiphil, “to cause to flow.” me out like milk,
and curdle#tn This verb קָפָא (qafa’) means “to coagulate.” In the Hiphil it means “to stiffen; to congeal.” me like cheese?#tn The verbs in v. 10 are prefixed conjugations; since the reference is to the womb, these would need to be classified as preterites. sn These verses figuratively describe the formation of the embryo in the womb.
11 You clothed#tn The skin and flesh form the exterior of the body and so the image of “clothing” is appropriate. Once again the verb is the prefixed conjugation, expressing what God did. me with skin and flesh
and knit me together#tn This verb is found only here (related nouns are common) and in the parallel passage of Ps 139:13. The word סָכַךְ (sakhakh), here a Poel prefixed conjugation (preterite), means “to knit together.” The implied comparison is that the bones and sinews form the tapestry of the person (compare other images of weaving the life). with bones and sinews.
12 You gave me#tn Heb “you made with me.” life and favor,#tn E. Dhorme (Job, 150) suggests that the relation between these two words is like a hendiadys. In other words, “life,” which he says is made prominent by the shift of the copula, specifies the nature of the grace. He renders it “the favor of life.” D. J. A. Clines at least acknowledges that the expression “you showed loyal love with me” is primary. There are many other attempts to improve the translation of this unusual combination.
and your intervention#tn The noun פְּקָָֻדּה (pÿquddah), originally translated “visitation,” actually refers to any divine intervention for blessing on the life. Here it would include the care and overseeing of the life of Job. “Providence” may be too general for the translation, but it is not far from the meaning of this line. The LXX has “your oversight.” watched over my spirit.
13 “But these things#sn “These things” refers to the affliction that God had brought on Job. They were concealed by God from the beginning. you have concealed in your heart;
I know that this#sn The meaning of the line is that this was God’s purpose all along. “These things” and “this” refer to the details that will now be given in the next few verses. is with you:#sn The contradiction between how God had provided for and cared for Job’s life and how he was now dealing with him could only be resolved by Job with the supposition that God had planned this severe treatment from the first as part of his plan.
14 If I sinned, then you would watch me
and you would not acquit me of my iniquity.
15 If I am guilty,#sn The verbs “guilty” and “innocent” are actually the verbs “I am wicked,” and “I am righteous.” woe#tn The exclamation occurs only here and in Mic 7:1. to me,
and if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head;#sn The action of lifting up the head is a symbol of pride and honor and self-respect (Judg 8:28) – like “hold your head high.” In 11:15 the one who is at peace with God lifts his head (face).
I am full of shame,#tn The expression שְׂבַע קָלוֹן (sÿva’ qalon) may be translated “full of shame.” The expression literally means “sated of ignominy” (or contempt [קַלַל, qalal]).
and satiated with my affliction.#tn The last clause is difficult to fit into the verse. It translates easily enough: “and see my affliction.” Many commentators follow the suggestion of Geiger to read רְוֶה (rÿveh, “watered with”) instead of רְאֵה (rÿ’eh, “see”). This could then be interpreted adjectivally and parallel to the preceding line: “steeped/saturated with affliction.” This would also delete the final yod as dittography (E. Dhorme, Job, 152). But D. J. A. Clines notes more recent interpretations that suggest the form in the text is an orthographic variant of raweh meaning “satiated.” This makes any emendation unnecessary (and in fact that idea of “steeped” was not helpful any way because it indicated imbibing rather than soaking). The NIV renders it “and drowned in my affliction” although footnoting the other possibility from the MT, “aware of my affliction” (assuming the form could be adjectival). The LXX omits the last line.
16 If I lift myself up,#tn The MT has the 3rd person of the verb, “and he lifts himself up.” One might assume that the subject is “my head” – but that is rather far removed from the verb. It appears that Job is talking about himself in some way. Some commentators simply emend the text to make it first person. This has the support of Targum Job, which would be expected since it would be interpreting the passage in its context (see D. M. Stec, “The Targum Rendering of WYG’H in Job X 16,” VT 34 : 367-8). Pope and Gordis make the word adjectival, modifying the subject: “proudly you hunt me,” but support is lacking. E. Dhorme thinks the line should be parallel to the two preceding it, and so suggests יָגֵּעַ (yagea’, “exhausted”) for יִגְאֶה (yig’eh, “lift up”). The contextual argument is that Job has said that he cannot raise his head, but if he were to do so, God would hunt him down. God could be taken as the subject of the verb if the text is using enallage (shifting of grammatical persons within a discourse) for dramatic effect. Perhaps the initial 3rd person was intended with respect within a legal context of witnesses and a complaint, but was switched to 2nd person for direct accusation.
you hunt me as a fierce lion,#sn There is some ambiguity here: Job could be the lion being hunted by God, or God could be hunting Job like a lion hunts its prey. The point of the line is clear in either case.
and again#tn The text uses two verbs without a coordinating conjunction: “then you return, you display your power.” This should be explained as a verbal hendiadys, the first verb serving adverbially in the clause (see further GKC 386-87 §120.g). you display your power#tn The form is the Hitpael of פָּלָא (pala’, “to be wonderful; to be surpassing; to be extraordinary”). Here in this stem it has the sense of “make oneself admirable, surpassing” or “render oneself powerful, glorious.” The text is ironic; the word that described God’s marvelous creation of Job is here used to describe God’s awesome destruction of Job. against me.
17 You bring new witnesses#tn The text has “you renew/increase your witnesses.” This would probably mean Job’s sufferings, which were witness to his sins. But some suggested a different word here, one that is cognate to Arabic ’adiya, “to be an enemy; to be hostile”: thus “you renew your hostility against me.” Less convincing are suggestions that the word is cognate to Ugaritic “troops” (see W. G. E. Watson, “The Metaphor in Job 10,17,” Bib 63 : 255-57). against me,
and increase your anger against me;
relief troops#tn The Hebrew simply says “changes and a host are with me.” The “changes and a host” is taken as a hendiadys, meaning relieving troops (relief troops of the army). The two words appear together again in 14:14, showing that emendation is to be avoided. The imagery depicts blow after blow from God – always fresh attacks. come against me.
An Appeal for Relief
18 “Why then did you bring me out from the womb?
I should have died#tn The two imperfect verbs in this section are used to stress regrets for something which did not happen (see GKC 317 §107.n).
and no eye would have seen me!
19 I should have been as though I had never existed;#sn This means “If only I had never come into existence.”
I should have been carried
right from the womb to the grave!
20 Are not my days few?#tn Heb “are not my days few; cease/let it cease….” The versions have “the days of my life” (reading יְמֵי חֶלְדִי [yÿme kheldi] instead of יָמַי וַחֲדָל [yamay vakhadal]). Many commentators and the RSV, NAB, and NRSV accept this reading. The Kethib is an imperfect or jussive, “let it cease/ it will cease.” The Qere is more intelligible for some interpreters – “cease” (as in 7:16). For a discussion of the readings, see D. W. Thomas, “Some Observations on the Hebrew Root hadal,” VTSup 4 : 14). But the text is not impossible as it stands.
Cease,#tn Taking the form as the imperative with the ו (vav), the sentence follows the direct address to God (as in v. 18 as well as 7:16). This requires less changes. See the preceding note regarding the plausibility of the jussive. The point of the verse is clear in either reading – his life is short, and he wants the suffering to stop. then, and leave#tn In the different suggestions for the line, the י (yod) of this word is believed to belong to the preceding word making “my life.” That would here leave an imperative rather than an imperfect. But if the Qere is read, then it would be an imperative anyway, and there would be no reason for the change. me alone,#tn Heb “put from me,” an expression found nowhere else. The Qere has a ו (vav) and not a י (yod), forming an imperative rather than an imperfect. H. H. Rowley suggests that there is an ellipsis here, “hand” needing to be supplied. Job wanted God to take his hand away from him. That is plausible, but difficult.
that I may find a little comfort,#tn The verb בָּלַג (balag) in the Hiphil means “to have cheer [or joy]” (see 7:27; Ps 39:14). The cohortative following the imperatives shows the purpose or result – “in order that.”
21 before I depart, never to return,#sn The verbs are simple, “I go” and “I return”; but Job clearly means before he dies. A translation of “depart” comes closer to communicating this. The second verb may be given a potential imperfect translation to capture the point. The NIV offered more of an interpretive paraphrase: “before I go to the place of no return.”
to the land of darkness
and the deepest shadow,#tn See Job 3:5.
22 to the land of utter darkness,
like the deepest darkness,
and the deepest shadow and disorder,#tn The word סֵדֶר (seder, “order”) occurs only here in the Bible. G. R. Driver found a new meaning in Arabic sadira, “dazzled by the glare” (“Problems in the Hebrew text of Job,” VTSup 3 : 76-77); this would mean “without a ray of light.” This is accepted by those who see chaos out of place in this line. But the word “order” is well-attested in later Hebrew (see J. Carmignac, “Précisions aportées au vocabulaire d’hébreu biblique par La guerre des fils de lumière contre les fils de ténèbres,” VT 5 : 345-65).
where even the light#tn The Hebrew word literally means “it shines”; the feminine verb implies a subject like “the light” (but see GKC 459 §144.c). is like darkness.”#tn The verse multiplies images for the darkness in death. Several commentators omit “as darkness, deep darkness” (כְּמוֹ אֹפֶל צַלְמָוֶת, kÿmo ’ofel tsalmavet) as glosses on the rare word עֵיפָתָה (’efatah, “darkness”) drawn from v. 21 (see also RSV). The verse literally reads: “[to the] land of darkness, like the deep darkness of the shadow of death, without any order, and the light is like the darkness.”