Job’s Reply to Eliphaz▼
▼ In the next two chapters we have Job’s second reply to Eliphaz. Job now feels abandoned by God and by his friends, and so complains that this all intensifies his sufferings. But he still holds to his innocence as he continues his appeal to God as his witness. There are four sections to this speech: in vv. 2–5 he dismisses the consolation his friends offered; in vv. 6–17 he laments that he is abandoned by God and man; in 16:8–17:9 he makes his appeal to God in heaven as a witness; and finally, in 10–16 he anticipates death.1 Then Job replied:
2 “I have heard many things like these before.
What miserable comforters ▼
▼ The expression uses the Piel participle in construct: מְנַחֲמֵי עָמָל (menahame ’amal, “comforters of trouble”), i.e., comforters who increase trouble instead of relieving it. D. W. Thomas translates this “breathers out of trouble” (“A Note on the Hebrew Root naham,” ExpTim 44 [1932/33]: 192).are you all!
3 Will ▼
▼ Disjunctive questions are introduced with the sign of the interrogative; the second part is introduced with אוֹ (’o, see GKC 475 #150.g).there be an end to your ▼ windy words? ▼
▼ Heb “words of wind.”
Or what provokes ▼ you that you answer? ▼
▼ The LXX seems to have gone a different way: “What, is there any reason in vain words, or what will hinder you from answering?”
4 I also could speak ▼
▼ For the use of the cohortative in the apodosis of conditional sentences, see GKC 322 #109.f.like you,
▼ The conjunction לוּ (lu) is used to introduce the optative, a condition that is incapable of fulfillment (see GKC 494-95 #159.l).you were in my place;
I could pile up ▼
▼ This verb אַחְבִּירָה (’akhbirah) is usually connected to חָבַר (khavar, “to bind”). There are several suggestions for this word. J. J. Finkelstein proposed a second root, a homonym, meaning “to make a sound,” and so here “to harangue” (“Hebrew habar and Semitic HBR,” JBL 75 : 328-31; see also O. Loretz, “HBR in Job 16:4, ” CBQ 23 : 293-94, who renders it “I could make noisy speeches”). Other suggestions have been for new meanings based on cognate studies, such as “to make beautiful” (i.e., make polished speeches).words against you
and I could shake my head at you. ▼
5 But ▼
▼ “But” has been added in the translation to strengthen the contrast.I would strengthen ▼
▼ The Piel of אָמַץ (’amats) means “to strengthen, fortify.”you with my words; ▼
▼ Heb “my mouth.”
comfort from my lips would bring ▼
▼ The verb יַחְשֹׂךְ (yakhsokh) means “to restrain; to withhold.” There is no object, so many make it first person subject, “I will not restrain.” The LXX and the Syriac have a different person – “I would not restrain.” G. R. Driver, arguing that the verb is intransitive here, made it “the solace of my lips would not [added] be withheld” (see JTS 34 : 380). D. J. A. Clines says that what is definitive is the use of the verb in the next line, where it clearly means “soothed, assuaged.”you relief.
Abandonment by God and Man6 “But ▼
▼ “But” is supplied in the translation to strengthen the contrast.if I speak, my pain is not relieved, ▼
▼ The Niphal יֵחָשֵׂךְ (yekhasekh) means “to be soothed; to be assuaged.”
and if I refrain from speaking
– how ▼
▼ Some argue that מָה (mah) in the text is the Arabic ma, the simple negative. This would then mean “it does not depart far from me.” The interrogative used rhetorically amounts to the same thing, however, so the suggestion is not necessary.much of it goes away?
7 Surely now he ▼
▼ In poetic discourse there is often an abrupt change from person to another. See GKC 462 #144.p. Some take the subject of this verb to be God, others the pain (“surely now it has worn me out”).has worn me out,
you have devastated my entire household.
8 You have seized me, ▼
and it ▼
▼ The subject is “my calamity.”has become a witness;
my leanness ▼ has risen up against me
and testifies against me.
9 His ▼ anger has torn me ▼ and persecuted ▼
▼ The verb שָׂטַם (satam) is translated “hate” in the RSV, but this is not accepted by very many. Many emend it to שָׁמט (shamat), reading “and he dropped me” (from his mouth). But that suggests escape. D. J. A. Clines notes that usage shows it reflects ongoing hatred represented by an action such as persecution or attack (Job [WBC], 370).me;
he has gnashed at me with his teeth;
my adversary locks ▼ his eyes on me.
10 People ▼ have opened their mouths against me,
they have struck my cheek in scorn; ▼
▼ This is an “insult” or a “reproach.”
they unite ▼
▼ The verb יִתְמַלָּאוּן (yitmalla’un) is taken from מָלֵא (male’), “to be full,” and in this stem, “to pile up; to press together.” The term has a military connotation, such as “to mobilize” (see D. W. Thomas, “ml'w in Jeremiah 4:5 : a military term,” JJS 3 : 47-52). Job sees himself surrounded by enemies who persecute him and mock him.together against me.
11 God abandons me to evil ▼ men, ▼
and throws ▼
▼ The word יִרְטֵנִי (yirteni) does not derive from the root רָטָה (ratah) as would fit the pointing in the MT, but from יָרַט (yarat), cognate to Arabic warrata, “to throw; to hurl.” E. Dhorme (Job, 236) thinks that since the normal form would have been יִירְטֵנִי (yireteni), it is probable that one of the yods (י) would have affected the word עֲוִיל (’avil) – but that does not make much sense.me into the hands of wicked men.
12 I was in peace, and he has shattered me. ▼
He has seized me by the neck and crushed me. ▼
▼ Here is another Pilpel, now from פָּצַץ (patsats) with a similar meaning to the other verb. It means “to dash into pieces” and even scatter the pieces. The LXX translates this line, “he took me by the hair of the head and plucked it out.”
He has made me his target;
13 his archers ▼
▼ The meaning of “his archers” is supported for רַבָּיו (rabbayv) in view of Jer 50:29. The LXX, Syriac, Vulgate, Targum Job, followed by several translations and commentators prefer “arrows.” They see this as a more appropriate figure without raising the question of who the archers might be (see 6:4). The point is an unnecessary distinction, for the figure is an illustration of the affliction that God has brought on him.surround me.
Without pity ▼
▼ Heb “and he does not pity,” but the clause is functioning adverbially in the line.he pierces ▼ my kidneys
and pours out my gall ▼ on the ground.
14 He breaks through against me, time and time again; ▼
▼ The word פָּרַץ (parats) means “to make a breach” in a wall (Isa 5:5; Ps 80:13). It is used figuratively in the birth and naming of Peres in Gen 38:29. Here the image is now of a military attack that breaks through a wall. The text uses the cognate accusative, and then with the addition of עַל־פְּנֵי (’al-pene, “in addition”) it repeats the cognate noun. A smooth translation that reflects the three words is difficult. E. Dhorme (Job, 237) has “he batters me down, breach upon breach.”
he rushes ▼
▼ Heb “runs.”against me like a warrior.
15 I have sewed sackcloth on my skin, ▼
▼ The language is hyperbolic; Job is saying that the sackcloth he has put on in his lamentable state is now stuck to his skin as if he had stitched it into the skin. It is now a habitual garment that he never takes off.
and buried ▼
▼ The Poel עֹלַלְתִּי (’olalti) from עָלַל (’alal, “to enter”) has here the meaning of “to thrust in.” The activity is the opposite of “raising high the horn,” a picture of dignity and victory.my horn ▼
▼ There is no English term that captures exactly what “horn” is meant to do. Drawn from the animal world, the image was meant to convey strength and pride and victory. Some modern commentators have made other proposals for the line. Svi Rin suggested from Ugaritic that the verb be translated “lower” or “dip” (“Ugaritic – Old Testament Affinities,” BZ 7 : 22-33).in the dust;
16 my face is reddened ▼
▼ An intensive form, a Qetaltal form of the root חָמַר (khamar, “red”) is used here. This word has as probable derivatives חֹמֶר (khomer, “[red] clay”) and חֲמוֹר (khamor, “[red] ass”) and the like. Because of the weeping, his whole complexion has been reddened (the LXX reads “my belly”).because of weeping, ▼
▼ A. B. Davidson (Job, 122) notes that spontaneous and repeated weeping is one of the symptoms of elephantiasis.
and on my eyelids there is a deep darkness, ▼
17 although ▼
▼ For the use of the preposition עַל (’al) to introduce concessive clauses, see GKC 499 #160.c.there is no violence in my hands
and my prayer is pure.
An Appeal to God as Witness18 “O earth, do not cover my blood, ▼
▼ Job knows that he will die, and that his death, signified here by blood on the ground, will cry out for vindication.
nor let there be a secret ▼ place for my cry.
19 Even now my witness ▼
▼ The witness in heaven must be God, to whom the cries and prayers come. Job’s dilemma is serious, but common to the human experience: the hostility of God toward him is baffling, but he is conscious of his innocence and can call on God to be his witness.is in heaven;
my advocate ▼ is on high.
20 My intercessor is my friend ▼
▼ The first two words of this verse are problematic: מְלִיצַי רֵעָי (melitsay re’ay, “my scorners are my friends”). The word מֵלִיץ (melits), from or related to the word for “scorner” (לִיץ, lits) in wisdom literature especially, can also mean “mediator” (Job 33:23), “interpreter” (Gen 42:23). This gives the idea that “scorn” has to do with the way words are used. It may be that the word here should have the singular suffix and be taken as “my spokesman.” This may not be from the same root as “scorn” (see N. H. Richardson, “Some Notes on lis and Its Derivatives,” VT 5 : 434-36). This is the view of the NIV, NJPS, JB, NAB, as well as a number of commentators. The idea of “my friends are scorners” is out of place in this section, unless taken as a parenthesis. Other suggestions are not convincing. The LXX has “May my prayer come to the Lord, and before him may my eye shed tears.” Some have tried to change the Hebrew to fit this. The word “my friends” also calls for some attention. Instead of a plural noun suffix, most would see it as a singular, a slight vocalic change. But others think it is not the word “friend.” D. J. A. Clines accepts the view that it is not “friends” but “thoughts” (רֵעַ, rea’). E. Dhorme takes it as “clamor,” from רוּעַ (rua’) and so interprets “my claimant word has reached God.” J. B. Curtis tries “My intercessor is my shepherd,” from רֹעִי (ro’i). See “On Job’s Witness in Heaven,” JBL 102 : 549-62.
as my eyes pour out ▼
▼ The Hebrew verb means “to drip; to stream; to flow”; the expression is cryptic, but understandable: “my eye flows [with tears as I cry out] to God.” But many suggestions have been made for this line too. Driver suggested in connection with cognate words that it be given the meaning “sleepless” (JTS 34 : 375-85), but this would also require additional words for a smooth reading. See also E. A. Speiser, “The Semantic Range of dalapu,” JCS 5 (1951): 64-66, for the Akkadian connection. But for the retention of “dripping eyes” based on the Talmudic use, see J. C. Greenfield, “Lexicographical Notes I,” HUCA 29 (1958): 203-28.tears to God;
21 and ▼
▼ E. Dhorme (Job, 240) alters this slightly to read “Would that” or “Ah! if only.”he contends with God on behalf of man
as a man ▼
▼ This is the simple translation of the expression “son of man” in Job. But some commentators wish to change the word בֵּן (ben, “son”) to בֵּין (ben, “between”). It would then be “[as] between a man and [for] his friend.” Even though a few mss have this reading, it is to be rejected. But see J. Barr, “Some Notes on ‘ben’ in Classical Hebrew,” JSS 23 (1978): 1-22.pleads ▼
▼ The verb is supplied from the parallel clause.for his friend.
22 For the years that lie ahead are few, ▼
▼ The expression is “years of number,” meaning that they can be counted, and so “the years are few.” The verb simply means “comes” or “lie ahead.”
and then I will go on the way of no return. ▼
▼ The verbal expression “I will not return” serves here to modify the journey that he will take. It is “the road [of] I will not return.”
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