Job 13

“Indeed, my eyes have seen all this,
Hebrew has כֹּל (kol, “all”); there is no reason to add anything to the text to gain a meaning “all this.”

my ears have heard and understood it.
What you know,
Heb “Like your knowledge”; in other words Job is saying that his knowledge is like their knowledge.
The pronoun makes the subject emphatic and stresses the contrast: “I know – I also.”
know also;
I am not inferior
The verb “fall” is used here as it was in Job 4:13 to express becoming lower than someone, i.e., inferior.
to you!
But I wish to speak
The verb is simply the Piel imperfect אֲדַבֵּר (’adabber, “I speak”). It should be classified as a desiderative imperfect, saying, “I desire to speak.” This is reinforced with the verb “to wish, desire” in the second half of the verse.
to the Almighty,
The Hebrew title for God here is אֶל־שַׁדַּי (’el shadday, “El Shaddai”).

and I desire to argue
The infinitive absolute functions here as the direct object of the verb “desire” (see GKC 340 #113.b).
my case
The infinitive הוֹכֵחַ (hokheakh) is from the verb יָכַח (yakhakh), which means “to argue, plead, debate.” It has the legal sense here of arguing a case (cf. 5:17).
with God.
But you, however, are inventors of lies;
The טֹפְלֵי־שָׁקֶר (tofele shaqer) are “plasterers of lies” (Ps 119:69). The verb means “to coat, smear, plaster.” The idea is that of imputing something that is not true. Job is saying that his friends are inventors of lies. The LXX was influenced by the next line and came up with “false physicians.”

all of you are worthless physicians!
The literal rendering of the construct would be “healers of worthlessness.” Ewald and Dillmann translated it “patchers” based on a meaning in Arabic and Ethiopic; this would give the idea “botchers.” But it makes equally good sense to take “healers” as the meaning, for Job’s friends came to minister comfort and restoration to him – but they failed. See P. Humbert, “Maladie et medicine dans l’AT,” RHPR 44 (1964): 1-29.

If only you would keep completely silent!
The construction is the imperfect verb in the wish formula preceded by the infinitive that intensifies it. The Hiphil is not directly causative here, but internally – “keep silent.”

For you, that would be wisdom.
The text literally reads, “and it would be for you for wisdom,” or “that it would become your wisdom.” Job is rather sarcastic here, indicating if they shut up they would prove themselves to be wise (see Prov 17:28).

“Listen now to my argument,
Job first will argue with his friends. His cause that he will plead with God begins in v. 13. The same root יָכַח (yakhakh, “argue, plead”) is used here as in v. 3b (see note). Synonymous parallelism between the two halves of this verse supports this translation.

and be attentive to my lips’ contentions.
The Hebrew word רִבוֹת (rivot, “disputes, contentions”) continues the imagery of presenting a legal case. The term is used of legal disputations and litigation. See, also, v. 19a.

Will you speak wickedly
The construction literally reads “speak iniquity.” The form functions adverbially. The noun עַוְלָה (’avlah) means “perversion; injustice; iniquity; falsehood.” Here it is parallel to רְמִיָּה (remiyyah, “fraud; deceit; treachery”).
on God’s behalf?
The expression “for God” means “in favor of God” or “on God’s behalf.” Job is amazed that they will say false things on God’s behalf.

Will you speak deceitfully for him?
Will you show him partiality?
The idiom used here is “Will you lift up his face?” Here Job is being very sarcastic, for this expression usually means that a judge is taking a bribe. Job is accusing them of taking God’s side.

Will you argue the case
The same root is used here (רִיב, riv, “dispute, contention”) as in v. 6b (see note).
for God?
Would it turn out well if he would examine
The verb חָפַר (khafar) means “to search out, investigate, examine.” In the conditional clause the imperfect verb expresses the hypothetical case.
Or as one deceives
Both the infinitive and the imperfect of תָּלַל (talal, “deceive, mock”) retain the ה (he) (GKC 148 #53.q). But for the alternate form, see F. C. Fensham, “The Stem HTL in Hebrew,” VT 9 (1959): 310-11. The infinitive is used here in an adverbial sense after the preposition.
a man would you deceive him?
10  He would certainly rebuke
The verbal idea is intensified with the infinitive absolute. This is the same verb used in v. 3; here it would have the sense of “rebuke, convict.”
Peake’s observation is worth noting, namely, that as Job attacks the unrighteousness of God boldly he nonetheless has confidence in God’s righteousness that would not allow liars to defend him.
if you secretly
The use of the word “in secret” or “secretly” suggests that what they do is a guilty action (31:27a).
showed partiality!
11  Would not his splendor
The word translated “his majesty” or “his splendor” (שְׂאֵתוֹ, seeto) forms a play on the word “show partiality” (תִּשָּׂאוּן, tissaun) in the last verse. They are both from the verb נָשַׂא (nasa’, “to lift up”).
On this verb in the Piel, see 7:14.
and the fear he inspires
Heb “His dread”; the suffix is a subjective genitive.
fall on you?
12  Your maxims
The word is זִכְרֹנֵיכֶם (zikhronekhem, “your remembrances”). The word זִכָּרֹן (zikkaron) not only can mean the act of remembering, but also what is remembered – what provokes memory or is worth being remembered. In the plural it can mean all the memorabilia, and in this verse all the sayings and teachings. H. H. Rowley (Job [NCBC], 99) suggests that in Job’s speech it could mean “all your memorized sayings.”
are proverbs of ashes;
The parallelism of “dust” and “ashes” is fairly frequent in scripture. But “proverbs of ashes” is difficult. The genitive is certainly describing the proverbs; it could be classified as a genitive of apposition, proverbs that are/have become ashes. Ashes represent something that at one time may have been useful, but now has been reduced to what is worthless.

your defenses
There is a division of opinion on the source of this word. Some take it from “answer”, related to Arabic, Aramaic, and Syriac words for “answer,” and so translate it “responses” (JB). Others take it from a word for “back,” with a derived meaning of the “boss” of the shield, and translate it bulwark or “defenses” (NEB, RSV, NIV). The idea of “answers” may fit the parallelism better, but “defenses” can be taken figuratively to refer to verbal defenses.
are defenses of clay.
Any defense made with clay would crumble on impact.

13  “Refrain from talking
The Hebrew has a pregnant construction: “be silent from me,” meaning “stand away from me in silence,” or “refrain from talking with me.” See GKC 384 #119.ff. The LXX omits “from me,” as do several commentators.
with me so that
The verb is the Piel cohortative; following the imperative of the first colon this verb would show purpose or result. The inclusion of the independent personal pronoun makes the focus emphatic – “so that I (in my turn) may speak.”
I may speak;
then let come to me
The verb עָבַר (’avar, “pass over”) is used with the preposition עַל (’al, “upon”) to express the advent of misfortune, namely, something coming against him.
what may.
The interrogative pronoun מָה (mah) is used in indirect questions, here introducing a clause [with the verb understood] as the object – “whatever it be” (see GKC 443-44 #137.c).

14  Why
Most editors reject עַל־מָה (’al mah) as dittography from the last verse.
do I put myself in peril,
Heb “why do I take my flesh in my teeth?” This expression occurs nowhere else. It seems to be drawn from animal imagery in which the wild beast seizes the prey and carries it off to a place of security. The idea would then be that Job may be destroying himself. An animal that fights with its flesh (prey) in its mouth risks losing it. Other commentators do not think this is satisfactory, but they are unable to suggest anything better.

and take my life in my hands?
15  Even if he slays me, I will hope in him;
There is a textual difficulty here that factors into the interpretation of the verse. The Kethib is לֹא (lo’, “not”), but the Qere is לוֹ (lo, “to him”). The RSV takes the former: “Behold, he will slay me, I have no hope.” The NIV takes it as “though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” Job is looking ahead to death, which is not an evil thing to him. The point of the verse is that he is willing to challenge God at the risk of his life; and if God slays him, he is still confident that he will be vindicated – as he says later in this chapter. Other suggestions are not compelling. E. Dhorme (Job, 187) makes a slight change of אֲיַחֵל (’ayakhel, “I will hope”) to אַחִיל (’akhil, “I will [not] tremble”). A. B. Davidson (Job, 98) retains the MT, but interprets the verb more in line with its use in the book: “I will not wait” (cf. NLT).

I will surely
On אַךְ (’akh, “surely”) see GKC 483 #153 on intensive clauses.
The verb once again is יָכָה (yakhah, in the Hiphil, “argue a case, plead, defend, contest”). But because the word usually means “accuse” rather than “defend,” I. L. Seeligmann proposed changing “my ways” to “his ways” (“Zur Terminologie für das Gerichtsverfahren im Wortschatz des biblischen Hebräisch,” VTSup 16 [1967]: 251-78). But the word can be interpreted appropriately in the context without emendation.
my ways to his face!
16  Moreover, this will become my deliverance,
for no godless person would come before him.
The fact that Job will dare to come before God and make his case is evidence – to Job at least – that he is innocent.

17  Listen carefully
The infinitive absolute intensifies the imperative, which serves here with the force of an immediate call to attention. In accordance with GKC 342 #113.n, the construction could be translated, “Keep listening” (so ESV).
to my words;
let your ears be attentive to my explanation.
The verb has to be supplied in this line, for the MT has “and my explanation in your ears.” In the verse, both “word” and “explanation” are Aramaisms (the latter appearing in Dan 5:12 for the explanation of riddles).

18  See now,
The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) functions almost as an imperative here, calling attention to what follows: “look” (archaic: behold).
I have prepared
The verb עָרַךְ (’arakh) means “to set in order, set in array [as a battle], prepare” in the sense here of arrange and organize a lawsuit.
The pronoun is added because this is what the verse means.
The word מִשְׁפָּט (mishpat) usually means “judgment; decision.” Here it means “lawsuit” (and so a metonymy of effect gave rise to this usage; see Num 27:5; 2 Sam 15:4).

I know that I am right.
The pronoun is emphatic before the verb: “I know that it is I who am right.” The verb means “to be right; to be righteous.” Some have translated it “vindicated,” looking at the outcome of the suit.

19  Who
The interrogative is joined with the emphatic pronoun, stressing “who is he [who] will contend,” or more emphatically, “who in the world will contend.” Job is confident that no one can bring charges against him. He is certain of success.
will contend with me?
If anyone can, I will be silent and die.
Job is confident that he will be vindicated. But if someone were to show up and have proof of sin against him, he would be silent and die (literally “keep silent and expire”).

20  Only in two things spare me,
The line reads “do not do two things.”
O God,
“God” is supplied to the verse, for the address is now to him. Job wishes to enter into dispute with God, but he first appeals that God not take advantage of him with his awesome power.

and then I will not hide from your face:
21  Remove
The imperative הַרְחַק (harkhaq, “remove”; GKC 98 #29.q), from רָחַק (rakhaq, “far, be far”) means “take away [far away]; to remove.”
your hand
This is a common, but bold, anthropomorphism. The fact that the word used is כַּף (kaf, properly “palm”) rather than יָד (yad, “hand,” with the sense of power) may stress Job’s feeling of being trapped or confined (see also Ps 139:5, 7).
far from me
and stop making me afraid with your terror.
22  Then call,
The imperatives in the verse function like the future tense in view of their use for instruction or advice. The chiastic arrangement of the verb forms is interesting: imperative + imperfect, imperfect + imperative. The imperative is used for God, but the imperfect is used when Job is the subject. Job is calling for the court to convene – he will be either the defendant or the prosecutor.
and I will answer,
or I will speak, and you respond to me.
23  How many are my
The pronoun “my” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied here in the translation.
iniquities and sins?
Show me my transgression and my sin.
Job uses three words for sin here: “iniquities,” which means going astray, erring; “sins,” which means missing the mark or the way; and “transgressions,” which are open rebellions. They all emphasize different kinds of sins and different degrees of willfulness. Job is demanding that any sins be brought up. Both Job and his friends agree that great afflictions would have to indicate great offenses – he wants to know what they are.

24  Why do you hide your face
The anthropomorphism of “hide the face” indicates a withdrawal of favor and an outpouring of wrath (see Ps 30:7 [8]; Isa 54:8; Ps 27:9). Sometimes God “hides his face” to make himself invisible or aloof (see 34:29). In either case, if God covers his face it is because he considers Job an enemy – at least this is what Job thinks.

and regard me as your enemy?
25  Do you wish to torment
The verb תַּעֲרוֹץ (taarots, “you torment”) is from עָרַץ (’arats), which usually means “fear; dread,” but can also mean “to make afraid; to terrify” (Isa 2:19, 21). The imperfect is here taken as a desiderative imperfect: “why do you want to”; but it could also be a simple future: “will you torment.”
a windblown
The word נִדָּף (niddaf) is “driven” from the root נָדַף (nadaf, “drive”). The words “by the wind” or the interpretation “windblown” has to be added for the clarification. Job is comparing himself to this leaf (so an implied comparison, called hypocatastasis) – so light and insubstantial that it is amazing that God should come after him. Guillaume suggests that the word is not from this root, but from a second root נָדַף (nadaf), cognate to Arabic nadifa, “to dry up” (A. Guillaume, “A Note on Isaiah 19:7, ” JTS 14 [1963]: 382-83). But as D. J. A. Clines notes (Job [WBC], 283), a dried leaf is a driven leaf – a point Guillaume allows as he says there is ambiguity in the term.
and chase after dry chaff?
The word קַשׁ (qash) means “chaff; stubble,” or a wisp of straw. It is found in Job 41:20–21 for that which is so worthless and insignificant that it is hardly worth mentioning. If dried up or withered, it too will be blown away in the wind.

26  For you write down
The meaning is that of writing down a formal charge against someone (cf. Job 31:15).
bitter things against me
and cause me to inherit the sins of my youth.
Job acknowledges sins in his youth, but they are trifling compared to the suffering he now endures. Job thinks it unjust of God to persecute him now for those – if that is what is happening.

27  And you put my feet in the stocks
The word occurs here and in Job 33:11. It could be taken as “stocks,” in which the feet were held fast; or it could be “shackles,” which allowed the prisoner to move about. The parallelism favors the latter, if the two lines are meant to be referring to the same thing.

and you watch all my movements;
The word means “ways; roads; paths,” but it is used here in the sense of the “way” in which one goes about his activities.

you put marks
The verb תִּתְחַקֶּה (titkhaqqeh) is a Hitpael from the root חָקָה (khaqah, parallel to חָקַק, khaqaq). The word means “to engrave” or “to carve out.” This Hitpael would mean “to imprint something on oneself” (E. Dhorme [Job, 192] says on one’s mind, and so derives the meaning “examine.”). The object of this is the expression “on the roots of my feet,” which would refer to where the feet hit the ground. Since the passage has more to do with God’s restricting Job’s movement, the translation “you set a boundary to the soles of my feet” would be better than Dhorme’s view. The image of inscribing or putting marks on the feet is not found elsewhere. It may be, as Pope suggests, a reference to marking the slaves to make tracking them easier. The LXX has “you have penetrated to my heels.”
on the soles of my feet.
28  So I
Heb “and he.” Some of the commentators move the verse and put it after Job 14:2, 3 or 6.
waste away like something rotten,
The word רָקָב (raqav) is used elsewhere in the Bible of dry rot in a house, or rotting bones in a grave. It is used in parallelism with “moth” both here and in Hos 5:12. The LXX has “like a wineskin.” This would be from רֹקֶב (roqev, “wineskin”). This word does not occur in the Hebrew Bible, but is attested in Sir 43:20 and in Aramaic. The change is not necessary.

like a garment eaten by moths.
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