12:1 Then Job answered:
and wisdom will die with you. 3
I am not inferior to you. 5
Who does not know such things as these? 6
I, who called on God and whom he answered 10 –
a righteous and blameless 11 man
is a laughingstock!
(according to the ideas of the fortunate 13 ) –
a fate 14 for those whose feet slip!
and those who provoke God are confident 16 –
who carry their god in their hands. 17
1 sn This long speech of Job falls into three parts: in 12:2-25 Job expresses his resentment at his friends’ attitude of superiority and acknowledges the wisdom of God; then, in 13:1-28 Job expresses his determination to reason with God, expresses his scorn for his friends’ advice, and demands to know what his sins are; and finally, in 14:1-22 Job laments the brevity of life and the finality of death.
2 tn The expression “you are the people” is a way of saying that the friends hold the popular opinion – they represent it. The line is sarcastic. Commentators do not think the parallelism is served well by this, and so offer changes for “people.” Some have suggested “you are complete” (based on Arabic), “you are the strong one” (based on Ugaritic), etc. J. A. Davies tried to solve the difficulty by making the second clause in the verse a paratactic relative clause: “you are the people with whom wisdom will die” (“Note on Job 12:2,” VT 25 : 670-71).
3 sn The sarcasm of Job admits their claim to wisdom, as if no one has it besides them. But the rest of his speech will show that they do not have a monopoly on it.
4 tn The word is literally “heart,” meaning a mind or understanding.
5 tn Because this line is repeated in 13:2, many commentators delete it from this verse (as does the LXX). The Syriac translates נֹפֵל (nofel) as “little,” and the Vulgate “inferior.” Job is saying that he does not fall behind them in understanding.
6 tn Heb “With whom are not such things as these?” The point is that everyone knows the things that these friends have been saying – they are commonplace.
7 tn Some are troubled by the disharmony with “I am” and “to his friend.” Even though the difficulty is not insurmountable, some have emended the text. Some simply changed the verb to “he is,” which was not very compelling. C. D. Isbell argued that אֶהְיֶה (’ehyeh, “I am”) is an orthographic variant of יִהְיֶה (yihyeh, “he will”) – “a person who does not know these things would be a laughingstock” (JANESCU 37 : 227-36). G. R. Driver suggests the meaning of the MT is something like “(One that is) a mockery to his friend I am to be.”
8 tn The word simply means “laughter”; but it can also mean the object of laughter (see Jer 20:7). The LXX jumps from one “laughter” to the next, eliminating everything in between, presumably due to haplography.
9 tn Heb “his friend.” A number of English versions (e.g., NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT) take this collectively, “to my friends.”
10 tn Heb “one calling to God and he answered him.” H. H. Rowley (Job [NCBC], 92) contends that because Job has been saying that God is not answering him, these words must be part of the derisive words of his friends.
11 tn The two words, צַדִּיק תָּמִים (tsadiq tamim), could be understood as a hendiadys (= “blamelessly just”) following W. G. E. Watson (Classical Hebrew Poetry, 327).
12 tn The first word, לַפִּיד (lapid), could be rendered “a torch of scorn,” but this gives no satisfying meaning. The ל (lamed) is often taken as an otiose letter, and the noun פִּיד (pid) is “misfortune, calamity” (cf. Job 30:24; 31:29).
13 tn The noun עַשְׁתּוּת (’ashtut, preferably עַשְׁתּוֹת, ’ashtot) is an abstract noun from עָשַׁת (’ashat, “to think”). The word שַׁאֲנָן (sha’anan) means “easy in mind, carefree,” and “happy.”
14 tn The form has traditionally been taken to mean “is ready” from the verb כּוּן (kun, “is fixed, sure”). But many commentators look for a word parallel to “calamity.” So the suggestion has been put forward that נָכוֹן (nakhon) be taken as a noun from נָכָה (nakhah, “strike, smite”): “a blow” (Schultens, Dhorme, Gordis), “thrust” or “kick” (HALOT 698 s.v. I נָכוֹן).
15 tn The verse gives the other side of the coin now, the fact that the wicked prosper.
16 tn The plural is used to suggest the supreme degree of arrogant confidence (E. Dhorme, Job, 171).
17 sn The line is perhaps best understood as describing one who thinks he is invested with the power of God.