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Job 16

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Job’s Reply to Eliphaz 1 

16:1 Then Job replied:

16:2 “I have heard many things like these before.

What miserable comforters 2  are you all!

16:3 Will 3  there be an end to your 4  windy words? 5 

Or what provokes 6  you that you answer? 7 

16:4 I also could speak 8  like you,

if 9  you were in my place;

I could pile up 10  words against you

and I could shake my head at you. 11 

16:5 But 12  I would strengthen 13  you with my words; 14 

comfort from my lips would bring 15  you relief.

Abandonment by God and Man

16:6 “But 16  if I speak, my pain is not relieved, 17 

and if I refrain from speaking

– how 18  much of it goes away?

16:7 Surely now he 19  has worn me out,

you have devastated my entire household.

16:8 You have seized me, 20 

and it 21  has become a witness;

my leanness 22  has risen up against me

and testifies against me.

16:9 His 23  anger has torn me 24  and persecuted 25  me;

he has gnashed at me with his teeth;

my adversary locks 26  his eyes on me.

16:10 People 27  have opened their mouths against me,

they have struck my cheek in scorn; 28 

they unite 29  together against me.

16:11 God abandons me to evil 30  men, 31 

and throws 32  me into the hands of wicked men.

16:12 I was in peace, and he has shattered me. 33 

He has seized me by the neck and crushed me. 34 

He has made me his target;

16:13 his archers 35  surround me.

Without pity 36  he pierces 37  my kidneys

and pours out my gall 38  on the ground.

16:14 He breaks through against me, time and time again; 39 

he rushes 40  against me like a warrior.

16:15 I have sewed sackcloth on my skin, 41 

and buried 42  my horn 43  in the dust;

16:16 my face is reddened 44  because of weeping, 45 

and on my eyelids there is a deep darkness, 46 

16:17 although 47  there is no violence in my hands

and my prayer is pure.

An Appeal to God as Witness

16:18 “O earth, do not cover my blood, 48 

nor let there be a secret 49  place for my cry.

16:19 Even now my witness 50  is in heaven;

my advocate 51  is on high.

16:20 My intercessor is my friend 52 

as my eyes pour out 53  tears to God;

16:21 and 54  he contends with God on behalf of man

as a man 55  pleads 56  for his friend.

16:22 For the years that lie ahead are few, 57 

and then I will go on the way of no return. 58 

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1 sn 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 16:817:9 he makes his appeal to God in heaven as a witness; and finally, in 10-16 he anticipates death.

2 tn The expression uses the Piel participle in construct: מְנַחֲמֵי עָמָל (mÿnahameamal, “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).

3 tn Disjunctive questions are introduced with the sign of the interrogative; the second part is introduced with אוֹ (’o, see GKC 475 §150.g).

4 tn In v. 3 the second person singular is employed rather than the plural as in vv. 2 and 4. The singular might be an indication that the words of v. 3 were directed at Eliphaz specifically.

5 tn Heb “words of wind.”

6 tn The Hiphil of מָרַץ (marats) does not occur anywhere else. The word means “to compel; to force” (see 6:25).

7 tn The LXX seems to have gone a different way: “What, is there any reason in vain words, or what will hinder you from answering?”

8 tn For the use of the cohortative in the apodosis of conditional sentences, see GKC 322 §109.f.

9 tn The conjunction לוּ (lu) is used to introduce the optative, a condition that is incapable of fulfillment (see GKC 494-95 §159.l).

10 tn 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 [1956]: 328-31; see also O. Loretz, “HBR in Job 16:4,” CBQ 23 [1961]: 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).

11 sn The action is a sign of mockery (see Ps 22:7[8]; Isa 37:22; Matt 27:39).

12 tn “But” has been added in the translation to strengthen the contrast.

13 tn The Piel of אָמַץ (’amats) means “to strengthen, fortify.”

14 tn Heb “my mouth.”

15 tn 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 [1933]: 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.”

16 tn “But” is supplied in the translation to strengthen the contrast.

17 tn The Niphal יֵחָשֵׂךְ (yekhasekh) means “to be soothed; to be assuaged.”

18 tn 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.

19 tn 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”).

20 tn The verb is קָמַט (qamat) which is used only here and in 22:16; it means “to seize; to grasp.” By God’s seizing him, Job means his afflictions.

21 tn The subject is “my calamity.”

22 tn The verb is used in Ps 109:24 to mean “to be lean”; and so “leanness” is accepted here for the noun by most. Otherwise the word is “lie, deceit.” Accordingly, some take it here as “my slanderer” or “my liar” (gives evidence against me).

23 tn The referent of these pronouns in v. 9 (“his anger…he has gnashed…his teeth…his eyes”) is best taken as God.

24 sn The figure used now is that of a wild beast. God’s affliction of Job is compared to the attack of such an animal. Cf. Amos 1:11.

25 tn 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).

26 tn The verb is used of sharpening a sword in Ps 7:12; here it means “to look intently” as an animal looks for prey. The verse describes God’s relentless pursuit of Job.

27 tn “People” is supplied; the Hebrew verb is third plural. The colon reads, “they have opened against me with [the preposition is instrumental] their mouth.” The gestures here follow the animal imagery; they reflect destructive opposition and attack (see Ps 22:13 among others).

28 tn This is an “insult” or a “reproach.”

29 tn The verb יִתְמַלָּאוּן (yitmallaun) 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 [1952]: 47-52). Job sees himself surrounded by enemies who persecute him and mock him.

30 tn The word עֲוִיל (’avil) means “child,” and this cannot be right here. If it is read as עַוָּל (’avval) as in Job 27:7 it would be the unrighteous.

31 sn Job does not refer here to his friends, but more likely to the wicked men who set about to destroy him and his possessions, or to the rabble in ch. 30.

32 tn 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 (yirÿteni), it is probable that one of the yods (י) would have affected the word עֲוִיל (’avil) – but that does not make much sense.

33 tn The verb פָּרַר (parar) means “to shake.” In the Hiphil it means “to break; to shatter” (5:12; 15:4). The Pilpel means “to break in pieces,” and in the Poel in Jer 23:29 “to smash up.” So Job was living at ease, and God shattered his life.

34 tn 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.”

35 tn 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.

36 tn Heb “and he does not pity,” but the clause is functioning adverbially in the line.

37 tn The verb פָּלַח (palakh) in the Piel means “to pierce” (see Prov 7:23). A fuller comparison should be made with Lam 3:12-13.

38 tn This word מְרֵרָתִי (mÿrerati, “my gall”) is found only here. It is close to the form in Job 13:26, “bitter things.” In Job 20:14 it may mean “poison.” The thought is also found in Lam 2:11.

39 tn 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-pÿne, “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.”

40 tn Heb “runs.”

41 sn 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.

42 tn 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.

43 tn 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 [1963]: 22-33).

44 tn 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”).

45 sn A. B. Davidson (Job, 122) notes that spontaneous and repeated weeping is one of the symptoms of elephantiasis.

46 sn See Job 3:5. Just as joy brings light and life to the eyes, sorrow and suffering bring darkness. The “eyelids” here would be synecdoche, reflecting the whole facial expression as sad and sullen.

47 tn For the use of the preposition עַל (’al) to introduce concessive clauses, see GKC 499 §160.c.

48 sn Job knows that he will die, and that his death, signified here by blood on the ground, will cry out for vindication.

49 tn The word is simply “a place,” but in the context it surely means a hidden place, a secret place that would never be discovered (see 18:21).

50 sn 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.

51 tn The parallelism now uses the Aramaic word “my advocate” – the one who testifies on my behalf. The word again appears in Gen 31:47 for Laban’s naming of the “heap of witness” in Aramaic – “Sahadutha.”

52 tn The first two words of this verse are problematic: מְלִיצַי רֵעָי (mÿlitsay reay, “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 [1955]: 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 (roi). See “On Job’s Witness in Heaven,” JBL 102 [1983]: 549-62.

53 tn 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 [1933]: 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.

54 tn E. Dhorme (Job, 240) alters this slightly to read “Would that” or “Ah! if only.”

55 tn 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.

56 tn The verb is supplied from the parallel clause.

57 tn 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.”

58 tn 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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