Job’s Present Misery1“But now they mock me, those who are younger ▼
▼ Heb “smaller than I for days.”than I,
whose fathers I disdained too much ▼
▼ Heb “who I disdained their fathers to set…,” meaning “whose fathers I disdained to set.” The relative clause modifies the young fellows who mock; it explains that Job did not think highly enough of them to put them with the dogs. The next verse will explain why.
to put with my sheep dogs. ▼
▼ Job is mocked by young fellows who come from low extraction. They mocked their elders and their betters. The scorn is strong here – dogs were despised as scavengers.
2 Moreover, the strength of their ▼
▼ The reference is to the fathers of the scorners, who are here regarded as weak and worthless.hands –
what use was it to me?
Men whose strength ▼ had perished;
3 gaunt ▼
▼ This word, גַּלְמוּד (galmud), describes something as lowly, desolate, bare, gaunt like a rock.with want and hunger,
they would gnaw ▼
▼ The form is the plural participle with the definite article – “who gnaw.” The article, joined to the participle, joins on a new statement concerning a preceding noun (see GKC 404 #126.b).the parched land,
in former time desolate and waste. ▼
▼ The MT has “yesterday desolate and waste.” The word “yesterday” (אֶמֶשׁ, ’emesh) is strange here. Among the proposals for אֶמֶשׁ (’emesh), Duhm suggested יְמַשְּׁשׁוּ (yemasheshu, “they grope”), which would require darkness; Pope renders “by night,” instead of “yesterday,” which evades the difficulty; and Fohrer suggested with more reason אֶרֶץ (’erets), “a desolate and waste land.” R. Gordis (Job, 331) suggests יָמִישׁוּ / יָמֻשׁוּ (yamishu/yamushu), “they wander off.”
4 By the brush ▼
▼ Or “the leaves of bushes” (ESV), a possibility dating back to Saadia and discussed by G. R. Driver and G. B. Gray (Job [ICC], 2:209) in their philological notes.they would gather ▼
▼ Here too the form is the participle with the article.herbs from the salt marshes, ▼
▼ Heb “gather mallow,” a plant which grows in salt marshes.
and the root of the broom tree was their food.
5 They were banished from the community ▼
▼ The word גֵּו (gev) is an Aramaic term meaning “midst,” indicating “midst [of society].” But there is also a Phoenician word that means “community” (DISO 48).–
▼ The form simply is the plural verb, but it means those who drove them from society.shouted at them
like they would shout at thieves ▼
▼ The text merely says “as thieves,” but it obviously compares the poor to the thieves.–
6 so that they had to live ▼
▼ This use of the infinitive construct expresses that they were compelled to do something (see GKC 348-49 #114.h, k).
in the dry stream beds, ▼
▼ The adjectives followed by a partitive genitive take on the emphasis of a superlative: “in the most horrible of valleys” (see GKC 431 #133.h).
in the holes of the ground, and among the rocks.
7 They brayed ▼
▼ The verb נָהַק (nahaq) means “to bray.” It has cognates in Arabic, Aramaic, and Ugaritic, so there is no need for emendation here. It is the sign of an animal’s hunger. In the translation the words “like animals” are supplied to clarify the metaphor for the modern reader.like animals among the bushes
and were huddled together ▼
▼ The Pual of the verb סָפַח (safakh, “to join”) also brings out the passivity of these people – “they were huddled together” (E. Dhorme, Job, 434).under the nettles.
8 Sons of senseless and nameless people, ▼
▼ The “sons of the senseless” (נָבָל, naval) means they were mentally and morally base and defective; and “sons of no-name” means without honor and respect, worthless (because not named).
they were driven out of the land with whips. ▼
▼ Heb “they were whipped from the land” (cf. ESV) or “they were cast out from the land” (HALOT 697 s.v. נכא). J. E. Hartley (Job [NICOT], 397) follows Gordis suggests that the meaning is “brought lower than the ground.”
Job’s Indignities9 “And now I have become their taunt song;
I have become a byword ▼
▼ The idea is that Job has become proverbial, people think of misfortune and sin when they think of him. The statement uses the ordinary word for “word” (מִלָּה, millah), but in this context it means more: “proverb; byword.”among them.
10 They detest me and maintain their distance; ▼
▼ Heb “they are far from me.”
they do not hesitate to spit in my face.
11 Because God has untied ▼
▼ The verb פָּתַח (patakh) means “to untie [or undo]” a rope or bonds. In this verse יִתְרוֹ (yitro, the Kethib, LXX, and Vulgate) would mean “his rope” (see יֶתֶר [yeter] in Judg 16:7–9). The Qere would be יִתְרִי (yitri, “my rope [or cord]”), meaning “me.” The word could mean “rope,” “cord,” or “bowstring.” If the reading “my cord” is accepted, the cord would be something like “my tent cord” (as in Job 29:20), more than K&D 12:147 “cord of life.” This has been followed in the present translation. If it were “my bowstring,” it would give the sense of disablement. If “his cord” is taken, it would signify that the restraint that God had in afflicting Job was loosened – nothing was held back.my tent cord and afflicted me,
people throw off all restraint in my presence. ▼
▼ People throw off all restraint in my presence means that when people saw how God afflicted Job, robbing him of his influence and power, then they turned on him with unrestrained insolence (H. H. Rowley, Job [NCBC], 193).
12 On my right the young rabble ▼
▼ This Hebrew word occurs only here. The word פִּרְחַח (pirkhakh, “young rabble”) is a quadriliteral, from פָּרַח (parakh, “to bud”) The derivative אֶפְרֹחַ (’efroakh) in the Bible refers to a young bird. In Arabic farhun means both “young bird” and “base man.” Perhaps “young rabble” is the best meaning here (see R. Gordis, Job, 333).rise up;
they drive me from place to place, ▼
▼ Heb “they cast off my feet” or “they send my feet away.” Many delete the line as troubling and superfluous. E. Dhorme (Job, 438) forces the lines to say “they draw my feet into a net.”
and build up siege ramps ▼
▼ Heb “paths of their destruction” or “their destructive paths.”against me. ▼
13 They destroy ▼ my path;
they succeed in destroying me ▼
▼ The MT has “they further my misfortune.” The line is difficult, with slight textual problems. The verb יֹעִילוּ (yo’ilu) means “to profit,” and so “to succeed” or “to set forward.” Good sense can be made from the MT as it stands, and many suggested changes are suspect.
without anyone assisting ▼
▼ The sense of “restraining” for “helping” was proposed by Dillmann and supported by G. R. Driver (see AJSL 52 [1935/36]: 163).them.
14 They come in as through a wide breach;
amid the crash ▼
▼ The MT has “under the crash,” with the idea that they rush in while the stones are falling around them (which is continuing the figure of the military attack). G. R. Driver took the expression to mean in a temporal sense “at the moment of the crash” (AJSL 52 [1935/36]: 163-64). Guillaume, drawing from Arabic, has “where the gap is made.”they come rolling in. ▼
▼ The verb, the Hitpalpel of גָּלַל (galal), means “they roll themselves.” This could mean “they roll themselves under the ruins” (Dhorme), “they roll on like a storm” (Gordis), or “they roll on” as in waves of enemy attackers (see H. H. Rowley). This particular verb form is found only here (but see Amos 5:24).
15 Terrors are turned loose ▼
▼ The passive singular verb (Hophal) is used with a plural subject (see GKC 388 #121.b).on me;
they drive away ▼
▼ This translation assumes that “terrors” (in the plural) is the subject. Others emend the text in accordance with the LXX, which has, “my hope is gone like the wind.”my honor like the wind,
and like a cloud my deliverance has passed away.
Job’s Despondency16 “And now my soul pours itself out within me; ▼
▼ This line can either mean that Job is wasting away (i.e., his life is being poured out), or it can mean that he is grieving. The second half of the verse gives the subordinate clause of condition for this.
days of suffering take hold of me.
17 Night pierces ▼
▼ The subject of the verb “pierces” can be the night (personified), or it could be God (understood), leaving “night” to be an adverbial accusative of time – “at night he pierces.”my bones; ▼
▼ The MT concludes this half-verse with “upon me.” That phrase is not in the LXX, and so many commentators delete it as making the line too long.
my gnawing pains ▼ never cease.
18 With great power God ▼
▼ Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.grasps my clothing; ▼
▼ This whole verse is difficult. The first problem is that this verb in the MT means “is disguised [or disfigured],” indicating that Job’s clothes hang loose on him. But many take the view that the verb is a phonetic variant of חָבַשׁ (khavash, “to bind; to seize”) and that the Hitpael form is a conflation of the third and second person because of the interchange between them in the passage (R. Gordis, Job, 335). The commentaries list a number of conjectural emendations, but the image in the verse is probably that God seizes Job by the garment and throws him down.
he binds me like the collar ▼
▼ The phrase “like the collar” is difficult, primarily because their tunics did not have collars. A translation of “neck” would suit better. Some change the preposition to בּ (bet), getting a translation “by the neck of my tunic.”of my tunic.
19 He has flung me into the mud,
and I have come to resemble dust and ashes.
20 I cry out to you, ▼ but you do not answer me;
I stand up, ▼ and you only look at me. ▼
▼ If the idea of prayer is meant, then a pejorative sense to the verb is required. Some supply a negative and translate “you do not pay heed to me.” This is supported by one Hebrew ms and the Vulgate. The Syriac has the whole colon read with God as the subject, “you stand and look at me.”
21 You have become cruel to me; ▼
with the strength of your hand you attack me. ▼
▼ The LXX reads this verb as “you scourged/whipped me.” But there is no reason to adopt this change.
22 You pick me up on the wind and make me ride on it; ▼
▼ Here Job changes the metaphor again, to the driving storm. God has sent his storms, and Job is blown away.
you toss me about ▼ in the storm. ▼
▼ The Qere is תּוּשִׁיָּה (tushiyyah, “counsel”), which makes no sense here. The Kethib is a variant orthography for תְּשֻׁאָה (teshu’ah, “storm”).
23 I know that you are bringing ▼
▼ The imperfect verb would be a progressive imperfect, it is future, but it is also already underway.me to death,
to the meeting place for all the living.
The Contrast With the Past24 “Surely one does not stretch out his hand
against a broken man ▼
▼ Here is another very difficult verse, as is attested by the differences among commentaries and translations. The MT has “surely not against a ruinous heap will he [God] put forth his [God’s] hand.” But A. B. Davidson takes Job as the subject, reading “does not one stretch out his hand in his fall?” The RSV suggests a man walking in the ruins and using his hand for support. Dillmann changed it to “drowning man” to say “does not a drowning man stretch out his hand?” Beer has “have I not given a helping hand to the poor?” Dhorme has, “I did not strike the poor man with my hand.” Kissane follows this but retains the verb form, “one does not strike the poor man with his hand.”
when he cries for help in his distress. ▼
▼ The second colon is also difficult; it reads, “if in his destruction to them he cries.” E. Dhorme (Job, 425–26) explains how he thinks “to them” came about, and he restores “to me.” This is the major difficulty in the line, and Dhorme’s suggestion is the simplest resolution.
25 Have I not wept for the unfortunate? ▼
▼ Heb “for the hard of day.”
Was not my soul grieved for the poor?
26 But when I hoped for good, trouble came;
when I expected light, then darkness came.
27 My heart ▼
▼ Heb “my loins,” “my bowels” (archaic), “my innermost being.” The latter option is reflected in the translation; some translations take the inner turmoil to be literal (NIV: “The churning inside me never stops”).is in turmoil ▼
▼ Heb “boils.”unceasingly; ▼
▼ The last clause reads “and they [it] are not quiet” or “do not cease.” The clause then serves adverbially for the sentence – “unceasingly.”
the days of my affliction confront me.
28 I go about blackened, ▼
▼ The construction uses the word קֹדֵר (qoder) followed by the Piel perfect of הָלַךְ (halakh, “I go about”). The adjective “blackened” refers to Job’s skin that has been marred by the disease. Adjectives are often used before verbs to describe some bodily condition (see GKC 374-75 #118.n).but not by the sun;
in the assembly I stand up and cry for help.
29 I have become a brother to jackals
and a companion of ostriches. ▼
30 My skin has turned dark on me; ▼
▼ The MT has “become dark from upon me,” prompting some editions to supply the verb “falls from me” (RSV, NRSV), or “peels” (NIV).
my body ▼
▼ The word “my bones” may be taken as a metonymy of subject, the bony framework indicating the whole body.is hot with fever. ▼
▼ The word חֹרֶב (khorev) also means “heat.” The heat in this line is not that of the sun, but obviously a fever.
31 My harp is used for ▼ mourning
and my flute for the sound of weeping.
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