Job 5

“Call now!
Some commentators transpose this verse with the following paragraph, placing it after v. 7 (see E. Dhorme, Job, 62). But the reasons for this are based on the perceived development of the argument and are not that compelling.
The imperative is here a challenge for Job. If he makes his appeal against God, who is there who will listen? The rhetorical questions are intended to indicate that no one will respond, not even the angels. Job would do better to realize that he is guilty and his only hope is in God.
Is there anyone who will answer you?
The participle with the suffix could be given a more immediate translation to accompany the imperative: “Call now! Is anyone listening to you?”

To which of the holy ones
The LXX has rendered “holy ones” as “holy angels” (cf. TEV, CEV, NLT). The LXX has interpreted the verb in the colon too freely: “if you will see.”
will you turn?
The point being made is that the angels do not represent the cries of people to God as if mediating for them. But if Job appealed to any of them to take his case against God, there would be no response whatsoever for that.

One of the reasons that commentators transpose v. 1 is that the כִּי (ki, “for”) here seems to follow 4:21 better. If people die without wisdom, it is folly that kills them. But the verse also makes sense after 5:1. He is saying that complaining against God will not bring deliverance (v. 1), but rather, by such impatience the fool will bring greater calamity on himself.
wrath kills the foolish person,
The two words for “foolish person” are common in wisdom literature. The first, אֱוִיל (’evil), is the fool who is a senseless person; the פֹּתֶה (poteh) is the naive and silly person, the simpleton, the one who is easily led astray. The direct object is introduced with the preposition ל (lamed) in this verse (see GKC 366 #117.n).

and anger
The two parallel nouns are similar; their related verbs are also paralleled in Deut 32:16 with the idea of “vex” and “irritate.” The first word כַּעַשׂ (kaas) refers to the inner irritation and anger one feels, whereas the second word קִנְאָה (qinah) refers to the outward expression of the anger. In Job 6:2, Job will respond “O that my impatience [kaas] were weighed….”
slays the silly one.
I myself
The use of the pronoun here adds emphasis to the subject of the sentence (see GKC 437 #135.a).
have seen the fool
This word is אֱוִיל (’evil), the same word for the “senseless man” in the preceding verse. Eliphaz is citing an example of his principle just given – he saw such a fool for a brief while appearing to prosper (i.e., taking root).
taking root,
but suddenly I cursed his place of residence.
A. B. Davidson argues that the verse does not mean that Eliphaz cursed his place during his prosperity. This line is metonymical (giving the effect). God judged the fool and his place was ruined; consequently, Eliphaz pronounced it accursed of God (see A. B. Davidson, Job, 36). Many emend the verb slightly to read “and it was suddenly cursed” (וַיֻּכַב [vayyukhav] instead of וָאֶקּוֹב [vaeqqov]; see H. H. Rowley, Job [NCBC], 51).

His children are far
The imperfect verbs in this verse describe the condition of the accursed situation. Some commentators follow the LXX and take these as jussives, making this verse the curse that the man pronounced upon the fool. Rashi adds “This is the malediction with which I have cursed him.” That would make the speaker the one calling down the judgment on the fool rather than responding by observation how God destroyed the habitation of the fool.
from safety,
and they are crushed
The verb יִדַּכְּאוּ (yiddakkeu) could be taken as the passive voice, or in the reciprocal sense (“crush one another”) or reflexive (“crush themselves”). The context favors the idea that the children of the foolish person will be destroyed because there is no one who will deliver them.
at the place where judgment is rendered,
Heb “in the gate.” The city gate was the place of both business and justice. The sense here seems to fit the usage of gates as the place of legal disputes, so the phrase “at the place of judgment” has been used in the translation.

nor is there anyone to deliver them.
The text simply says “and there is no deliverer.” The entire clause could be subordinated to the preceding clause, and rendered simply “without a deliverer.”

The hungry
The hungry are other people, possibly the hungry poor to whom the wealthy have refused to give bread (22:7). The sons are so helpless that even the poor take their property.
eat up his harvest,
The MT reads “whose harvest the hungry eat up.” Some commentators want to follow the LXX and repoint קְצִירוֹ (qetsiro, “his harvest”) to קָצְרוּ (qatseru, “[what] they have reaped”; cf. NAB). The reference as it stands in the MT seems to be to the image of taking root in v. 3; whatever took root – the prosperity of his life – will not belong to him or his sons to enjoy. If the emendation is accepted, then the reference would be immediately to the “sons” in the preceding verse.

and take it even from behind the thorns,
The line is difficult; the Hebrew text reads literally “and unto from thorns he takes it.” The idea seems to be that even from within an enclosed hedge of thorns other people will take the harvest. Many commentators either delete the line altogether or try to repoint it to make more sense out of it. G. R. Driver had taken the preposition אֶל (’el, “towards”) as the noun אֵל (’el, “strong man”) and the noun צִנִּים (tsinnim, “thorns”) connected to Aramaic צִנָּה (tsinnah, “basket”); he read it as “a strong man snatches it from the baskets” (G. R. Driver, “on Job 5:5, ” TZ 12 [1956]: 485-86). E. Dhorme (Job, 60) changed the word slightly to מַצְפֻּנִים (matspunim, “hiding places”), instead of מִצִּנִּים (mitsinnim, “out of the thorns”), to get the translation “and unto hiding places he carries it.” This fits the use of the verb לָקַח (laqakh, “to take”) with the preposition אֶל (’el, “towards”) meaning “carry to” someplace. There seems to be no easy solution to the difficulty of the line.

and the thirsty
The word צַמִּים (tsammim) has been traditionally rendered “robbers.” But it has been connected by some of the ancient versions to the word for “thirst,” making a nice parallel with “hungry.” This would likely be pointed צְמֵאִים (tsemeim).
swallow up
The verb has been given many different renderings, some more radical than others: “engulf,” “draws,” “gather,” “swallow” (see H. H. Rowley, Job [NCBC], 53). The idea of “swallow” is found in Job 20:15. The general sense of the line is clear, in spite of the difficulties of determining the exact meaning of the verb.
their fortune.
The LXX has several variations for the line. It reads something like the following: “for what they have collected the just shall eat, but they shall not be delivered out of calamities; let their strength be utterly exhausted.” The LXX may have gotten the idea of the “righteous” as those who suffer from hunger. Instead of “thorns” the LXX has the idea of “trouble.” The Targum to Job interprets it with “shield” and adds “warriors” as the subject.

For evil does not come up from the dust,
The previous discussion shows how trouble rises, namely, from the rebelliousness of the fool. Here Eliphaz simply summarizes the points made with this general principle – trouble does not come from outside man, nor does it come as a part of the natural order, but rather it comes from the evil nature of man.

nor does trouble spring up from the ground,
but people
Heb “man [is].” Because “man” is used in a generic sense for humanity here, the generic “people” has been used in the translation.
are born
There is a slight difficulty here in that vv. 6 and 7 seem to be saying the opposite thing. Many commentators, therefore, emend the the Niphal יוּלָּד (yullad, “is born”) to an active participle יוֹלֵד (yoled, “begets”) to place the source of trouble in man himself. But the LXX seems to retain the passive idea: “man is born to trouble.” The contrast between the two verses does not seem too difficult, for it still could imply that trouble’s source is within the man.
to trouble,
as surely as the sparks
For the Hebrew בְנֵי־רֶשֶׁף (bene reshef, “sons of the flame”) the present translation has the rendering “sparks.” E. Dhorme (Job, 62) thinks it refers to some kind of bird, but renders it “sons of the lightning” because the eagle was associated with lightning in ancient interpretations. Sparks, he argues, do not soar high above the earth. Other suggestions include Resheph, the Phoenician god of lightning (Pope), the fire of passion (Buttenwieser), angels (Peake), or demons (Targum Job). None of these are convincing; the idea of sparks flying upward fits the translation well and makes clear sense in the passage.
The simple translation of the last two words is “fly high” or “soar aloft” which would suit the idea of an eagle. But, as H. H. Rowley (Job [NCBC], 53) concludes, the argument to identify the expression preceding this with eagles is far-fetched.
The LXX has the name of a bird here: “the vulture’s young seek the high places.” The Targum to Job has “sons of demons” or “the sparks which shoot from coals of fire.”

Blessings for the One Who Seeks God

Eliphaz affirms that if he were in Job’s place he would take refuge in God, but Job has to acknowledge that he has offended God and accept this suffering as his chastisement. Job eventually will submit to God in the end, but not in the way that Eliphaz advises here, for Job does not agree that the sufferings are judgments from God.
The word אוּלָם (’ulam) is a strong adversative “but.” This forms the contrast with what has been said previously and so marks a new section.
as for me,
The independent personal pronoun here adds emphasis to the subject of the verb, again strengthening the contrast with what Job is doing (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 22, #106).
I would seek
The imperfect verbs in this verse express not so much what Eliphaz does as what he would do if he were in Job’s place (even though in 13:3 we have the affirmation). The use fits the category of the imperfect used in conditional clauses (see GKC 319 #107.x).
The verb דָּרַשׁ (darash, “to seek”) followed by the preposition אֶל (’el, “towards”) has the meaning of addressing oneself to (God). See 8:19 and 40:10.

and to God
The Hebrew employs אֵל (’el) in the first line and אֱלֹהִים (’elohim) in the second for “God”, but the LXX uses κύριος (kurios, “Lord”) in both places in this verse. However, in the second colon it also has “Lord of all.” This is replaced in the Greek version of Aquila by παντοκράτωρ (pantokratōr, traditionally translated “Almighty”). On the basis of this information, H. M. Orlinsky suggests that the second name for God in the verses should be “Shaddai” (JQR 25 [1934/35]: 271).
I would set forth my case.
The Hebrew simply has “my word”; but in this expression that uses שִׂים (sim) with the meaning of “lay before” or “expound a cause” in a legal sense, “case” or “cause” would be a better translation.

He does
Heb “who does.” It is common for such doxologies to begin with participles; they follow the pattern of the psalms in this style. Because of the length of the sentence in Hebrew and the conventions of English style, a new sentence was started here in the translation.
great and unsearchable
The Hebrew has וְאֵין חֵקֶר (veen kheqer), literally, “and no investigation.” The use of the conjunction on the expression follows a form of the circumstantial clause construction, and so the entire expression describes the great works as “unsearchable.”
marvelous things without
The preposition in עַד־אֵין (’ad en, “until there was no”) is stereotypical; it conveys the sense of having no number (see Job 9:10; Ps 40:13).
H. H. Rowley (Job [NCBC], 54) notes that the verse fits Eliphaz’s approach very well, for he has good understanding of the truth, but has difficulty in making the correct conclusions from it.

10  he gives
Heb “who gives.” The participle continues the doxology here. But the article is necessary because of the distance between this verse and the reference to God.
He gives rain. The use of the verb “gives” underscores the idea that rain is a gift from God. This would be more keenly felt in the Middle East where water is scarce.
rain on the earth,
In both halves of the verse the literal rendering would be “upon the face of the earth” and “upon the face of the fields.”

and sends
The second participle is simply coordinated to the first and therefore does not need the definite article repeated (see GKC 404 #126.b).
water on the fields;
The Hebrew term חוּצוֹת (khutsot) basically means “outside,” or what is outside. It could refer to streets if what is meant is outside the house; but it refers to fields here (parallel to the more general word) because it is outside the village. See Ps 144:13 for the use of the expression for “countryside.” The LXX gives a much wider interpretation: “what is under heaven.”

11  he sets
Heb “setting.” The infinitive construct clause is here taken as explaining the nature of God, and so parallel to the preceding descriptions. If read simply as a purpose clause after the previous verse, it would suggest that the purpose of watering the earth was to raise the humble (cf. NASB, “And sends water on the fields, // So that He sets on high those who are lowly”). A. B. Davidson (Job, 39) makes a case for this interpretation, saying that God’s gifts in nature have the wider purpose of blessing man, but he prefers to see the line as another benevolence, parallel to v. 10, and so suggests a translation “setting up” rather than “to set up.”
the lowly
The word שְׁפָלִים (shefalim) refers to “those who are down.” This refers to the lowly and despised of the earth. They are the opposite of the “proud” (see Ps 138:6). Here there is a deliberate contrast between “lowly” and “on high.”
on high,
that those who mourn
The meaning of the word is “to be dark, dirty”; therefore, it refers to the ash-sprinkled head of the mourner (H. H. Rowley, Job [NCBC], 54). The custom was to darken one’s face in sorrow (see Job 2:12; Ps 35:14; 38:7).
are raised
The perfect verb may be translated “be set on high; be raised up.” E. Dhorme (Job, 64) notes that the perfect is parallel to the infinitive of the first colon, and so he renders it in the same way as the infinitive, comparing the construction to that of 28:25.
to safety.
12  He frustrates
The Hiphil form מֵפֵר (mefer) is the participle from פָּרַר (parar, “to annul; to frustrate; to break”). It continues the doxological descriptions of God; but because of the numerous verses in this section, it may be clearer to start a new sentence with this form (rather than translating it “who…”).
the plans
The word is related to the verb “to think; to plan; to devise,” and so can mean “thoughts; plans; imagination.” Here it refers to the plan of the crafty that must be frustrated (see also Isa 44:25 for the contrast).
of the crafty
The word עֲרוּמִים (’arumim) means “crafty” or “shrewd.” It describes the shrewdness of some to achieve their ends (see Gen 3:1, where the serpent is more cunning than all the creatures, that is, he knows where the dangers are and will attempt to bring down the innocent). In the next verse it describes the clever plans of the wise – those who are wise in their own sight.

so that
The consecutive clause showing result or purpose is simply introduced with the vav and the imperfect/jussive (see GKC 504-5 #166.a).
their hands cannot accomplish
what they had planned!
The word תּוּשִׁיָּה (tushiyyah) is a technical word from wisdom literature. It has either the idea of the faculty of foresight, or of prudence in general (see 12:6; 26:3). It can be parallel in the texts to “wisdom,” “counsel,” “help,” or “strength.” Here it refers to what has been planned ahead of time.

13  He catches
The participles continue the description of God. Here he captures or ensnares the wise in their wickedly clever plans. See also Ps 7:16, where the wicked are caught in the pit they have dug – they are only wise in their own eyes.
the wise in their own craftiness,
This is the only quotation from the Book of Job in the NT (although Rom 11:35 seems to reflect 41:11, and Phil 1:19 is similar to 13:6). Paul cites it in 1 Cor 3:19.

and the counsel of the cunning
The etymology of נִפְתָּלִים (niftalim) suggests a meaning of “twisted” (see Prov 8:8) in the sense of tortuous. See Gen 30:8; Ps 18:26 [27].
is brought to a quick end.
The Niphal of מָהַר (mahar) means “to be hasty; to be irresponsible.” The meaning in the line may be understood in this sense: The counsel of the wily is hastened, that is, precipitated before it is ripe, i.e., frustrated (A. B. Davidson, Job, 39).

14  They meet with darkness in the daytime,
God so confuses the crafty that they are unable to fulfill their plans – it is as if they encounter darkness in broad daylight. This is like the Syrians in 2 Kgs 6:18–23.

and grope about
The verb מָשַׁשׁ (mashash) expresses the idea of groping about in the darkness. This is part of the fulfillment of Deut 28:29, which says, “and you shall grope at noonday as the blind grope in darkness.” This image is also in Isa 59:10.
in the noontime as if it were night.
The verse provides a picture of the frustration and bewilderment in the crafty who cannot accomplish their ends because God thwarts them.

15  So he saves
The verb, the Hiphil preterite of יָשַׁע (yasha’, “and he saves”) indicates that by frustrating the plans of the wicked God saves the poor. So the vav (ו) consecutive shows the result in the sequence of the verses.
from the sword that comes from their mouth,
The juxtaposition of “from the sword from their mouth” poses translation difficulties. Some mss do not have the preposition on “their mouth,” but render the expression as a construct: “from the sword of their mouth.” This would mean their tongue, and by metonymy, what they say. The expression “from their mouth” corresponds well with “from the hand” in the next colon. And as E. Dhorme (Job, 67) notes, what is missing is a parallel in the first part with “the poor” in the second. So he follows Cappel in repointing “from the sword” as a Hophal participle, מֹחֳרָב (mokhorav), meaning “the ruined.” If a change is required, this has the benefit of only changing the pointing. The difficulty with this is that the word “desolate, ruined” is not used for people, but only to cities, lands, or mountains. The sense of the verse can be supported from the present pointing: “from the sword [which comes] from their mouth”; the second phrase could also be in apposition, meaning, “from the sword, i.e., from their mouth.”

If the word “poor” is to do double duty, i.e., serving as the object of the verb “saves” in the first colon as well as the second, then the conjunction should be explanatory.
the poor from the hand of the powerful.
16  Thus the poor have hope,
and iniquity
Other translations render this “injustice” (NIV, NRSV, CEV) or “unrighteousness” (NASB).
shuts its mouth.
The verse summarizes the result of God’s intervention in human affairs, according to Eliphaz’ idea that even-handed justice prevails. Ps 107:42 parallels v. 16b.

17  “Therefore,
The particle “therefore” links this section to the preceding; it points this out as the logical consequence of the previous discussion, and more generally, as the essence of Job’s suffering.
The word אַשְׁרֵי (’ashre, “blessed”) is often rendered “happy.” But “happy” relates to what happens. “Blessed” is a reference to the heavenly bliss of the one who is right with God.
is the man whom God corrects,
The construction is an implied relative clause. The literal rendering would simply be “the man God corrects him.” The suffix on the verb is a resumptive pronoun, completing the use of the relative clause. The verb יָכַח (yakhakh) is a legal term; it always has some sense of a charge, dispute, or conflict. Its usages show that it may describe a strife breaking out, a charge or quarrel in progress, or the settling of a dispute (Isa 1:18). The derived noun can mean “reproach; recrimination; charge” (13:6; 23:4). Here the emphasis is on the consequence of the charge brought, namely, the correction.

so do not despise the discipline
The noun מוּסַר (musar) is parallel to the idea of the first colon. It means “discipline, correction” (from יָסַר, yasar). Prov 3:11 says almost the same thing as this line.
of the Almighty.
The name Shaddai occurs 31 times in the book. This is its first occurrence. It is often rendered “Almighty” because of the LXX and some of the early fathers. The etymology and meaning of the word otherwise remains uncertain, in spite of attempts to connect it to “mountains” or “breasts.”

18  For
Verses 18–23 give the reasons why someone should accept the chastening of God – the hand that wounds is the same hand that heals. But, of course, the lines do not apply to Job because his suffering is not due to divine chastening.
The addition of the independent pronoun here makes the subject emphatic, as if to say, “For it is he who makes….”
The imperfect verbs in this verse describe the characteristic activities of God; the classification as habitual imperfect fits the idea and is to be rendered with the English present tense.
but he also bandages;
he strikes, but his hands also heal.
19  He will deliver you
The verb is the Hiphil imperfect of נָצַל (natsal, “deliver”). These verbs might have been treated as habitual imperfects if it were not for the use of the numerical images – “six calamities…in seven.” So the nuance is specific future instead.
from six calamities;
yes, in seven
The use of a numerical ladder as we have here – “six // seven” is frequent in wisdom literature to show completeness. See Prov 6:16; Amos 1:3, Mic 5:5. A number that seems to be sufficient for the point is increased by one, as if to say there is always one more. By using this Eliphaz simply means “in all troubles” (see H. H. Rowley, Job [NCBC], 56).
no evil will touch you.
20  In time of famine
Targum Job here sees an allusion to the famine of Egypt and the war with Amalek.
he will redeem you from death,
and in time of war from the power of the sword.
Heb “from the hand of the sword.” This is idiomatic for “the power of the sword.” The expression is also metonymical, meaning from the effect of the sword, which is death.

21  You will be protected
The Hebrew verb essentially means “you will be hidden.” In the Niphal the verb means “to be hidden, to be in a hiding place,” and protected (Ps 31:20).
from malicious gossip,
Heb “from the lash [i.e., whip] of the tongue.” Sir 26:9 and 51:2 show usages of these kinds of expressions: “the lash of the tongue” or “the blow of the tongue.” The expression indicates that a malicious gossip is more painful than a blow.
The Targum saw here a reference to Balaam and the devastation brought on by the Midianites.

and will not be afraid of the destruction
The word here is שׁוֹד (shod); it means “destruction,” but some commentators conjecture alternate readings: שׁוֹאָה (shoah, “desolation”); or שֵׁד (shed, “demon”). One argument for maintaining שׁוֹד (shod) is that it fits the assonance within the verse שׁוֹד…לָשׁוֹן…שׁוֹט (shotlashonshod).
when it comes.
22  You will laugh at destruction and famine
The repetition of “destruction” and “famine” here has prompted some scholars to delete the whole verse. Others try to emend the text. The LXX renders them as “the unrighteous and the lawless.” But there is no difficulty in having the repetition of the words as found in the MT.
The word for “famine” is an Aramaic word found again in 30:3. The book of Job has a number of Aramaisms that are used to form an alternative parallel expression (see notes on “witness” in 16:19).

and need not
The negated jussive is used here to express the conviction that something cannot or should not happen (GKC 322 #109.e).
be afraid of the beasts of the earth.
23  For you will have a pact with the stones
Heb “your covenant is with the stones of the field.” The line has been variously interpreted and translated. It is omitted in the LXX. It seems to mean there is a deep sympathy between man and nature. Some think it means that the boundaries will not be violated by enemies; Rashi thought it represented some species of beings, like genii of the field, and so read אֲדֹנֵי (’adone, “lords”) for אַבְנֵי (’avne, “stones”). Ball takes the word as בְּנֵי (bene, “sons”), as in “sons of the field,” to get the idea that the reference is to the beasts. E. Dhorme (Job, 71) rejects these ideas as too contrived; he says to have a pact with the stones of the field simply means the stones will not come and spoil the ground, making it less fertile.
of the field,
and the wild animals
Heb “the beasts of the field.”
will be at peace
This is the only occurrence of the Hophal of the verb שָׁלֵם (shalem, “to make or have peace” with someone). Compare Isa 11:6–9 and Ps 91:13. The verb form is the perfect; here it is the perfect consecutive following a noun clause (see GKC 494 #159.g).
with you.
24  And
Verses 19–23 described the immunity from evil and trouble that Job would enjoy – if he were restored to peace with God. Now, v. 24 describes the safety and peace of the homestead and his possessions if he were right with God.
you will know
The verb is again the perfect, but in sequence to the previous structure so that it is rendered as a future. This would be the case if Job were right with God.
that your home
Heb “tent.”

will be secure,
The word שָׁלוֹם (shalom) means “peace; safety; security; wholeness.” The same use appears in 1 Sam 25:6; 2 Sam 20:9.

and when you inspect
The verb is פָּקַד (paqad, “to visit”). The idea here is “to gather together; to look over; to investigate,” or possibly even “to number” as it is used in the book of Numbers. The verb is the perfect with the vav consecutive; it may be subordinated to the imperfect verb that follows to form a temporal clause.
your domains,
you will not be missing
The verb is usually rendered “to sin”; but in this context the more specific primary meaning of “to miss the mark” or “to fail to find something.” Neither Job’s tent nor his possessions will be lost.
25  You will also know that your children
Heb “your seed.”
will be numerous,
and your descendants
The word means “your shoots” and is parallel to “your seed” in the first colon. It refers here (as in Isa 34:1 and 42:5) to the produce of the earth. Some commentators suggest that Eliphaz seems to have forgotten or was insensitive to Job’s loss of his children; H. H. Rowley (Job [NCBC], 57) says his conventional theology is untouched by human feeling.
like the grass of the earth.
26  You will come to your grave in a full age,
The word translated “in a full age” has been given an array of meanings: “health; integrity”; “like a new blade of corn”; “in your strength [or vigor].” The numerical value of the letters in the word בְכֶלָח (bekhelakh, “in old age”) was 2, 20, 30, and 8, or 60. This led some of the commentators to say that at 60 one would enter the ripe old age (E. Dhorme, Job, 73).

As stacks of grain are harvested in their season.
27  Look, we have investigated this, so it is true.
Hear it,
To make a better parallelism, some commentators have replaced the imperative with another finite verb, “we have found it.”
and apply it for your own
The preposition with the suffix (referred to as the ethical dative) strengthens the imperative. An emphatic personal pronoun also precedes the imperative. The resulting force would be something like “and you had better apply it for your own good!”
With this the speech by Eliphaz comes to a close. His two mistakes with it are: (1) that the tone was too cold and (2) the argument did not fit Job’s case (see further, A. B. Davidson, Job, 42).

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