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Job 20:12-16

Context

20:12 “If 1  evil is sweet in his mouth

and he hides it under his tongue, 2 

20:13 if he retains it for himself

and does not let it go,

and holds it fast in his mouth, 3 

20:14 his food is turned sour 4  in his stomach; 5 

it becomes the venom of serpents 6  within him.

20:15 The wealth that he consumed 7  he vomits up,

God will make him throw it out 8  of his stomach.

20:16 He sucks the poison 9  of serpents; 10 

the fangs 11  of a viper 12  kill him.

Job 20:20-23

Context

20:20 For he knows no satisfaction in his appetite; 13 

he does not let anything he desires 14  escape. 15 

20:21 “Nothing is left for him to devour; 16 

that is why his prosperity does not last. 17 

20:22 In the fullness of his sufficiency, 18 

distress 19  overtakes him.

the full force of misery will come upon him. 20 

20:23 “While he is 21  filling his belly,

God 22  sends his burning anger 23  against him,

and rains down his blows upon him. 24 

1 tn The conjunction אִם (’im) introduces clauses that are conditional or concessive. With the imperfect verb in the protasis it indicates what is possible in the present or future. See GKC 496 §159.q).

2 sn The wicked person holds on to evil as long as he can, savoring the taste or the pleasure of it.

3 tn Heb “in the middle of his palate.”

4 tn The perfect verb in the apodosis might express the suddenness of the change (see S. R. Driver, Tenses in Hebrew, 204), or it might be a constative perfect looking at the action as a whole without reference to inception, progress, or completion (see IBHS 480-81 §30.1d). The Niphal perfect simply means “is turned” or “turns”; “sour is supplied in the translation to clarify what is meant.

5 tn The word is “in his loins” or “within him.” Some translate more specifically “bowels.”

6 sn Some commentators suggest that the ancients believed that serpents secreted poison in the gall bladder, or that the poison came from the gall bladder of serpents. In any case, there is poison (from the root “bitter”) in the system of the wicked person; it may simply be saying it is that type of poison.

7 tn Heb “swallowed.”

8 tn The choice of words is excellent. The verb יָרַשׁ (yarash) means either “to inherit” or “to disinherit; to dispossess.” The context makes the figure clear that God is administering the emetic to make the wicked throw up the wealth (thus, “God will make him throw it out…”); but since wealth is the subject there is a disinheritance meant here.

9 tn The word is a homonym for the word for “head,” which has led to some confusion in the early versions.

10 sn To take the possessions of another person is hereby compared to sucking poison from a serpent – it will kill eventually.

11 tn Heb “tongue.”

12 tn Some have thought this verse is a gloss on v. 14 and should be deleted. But the word for “viper” (אֶפְעֶה, ’efeh) is a rare word, occurring only here and in Isa 30:6 and 59:5. It is unlikely that a rarer word would be used in a gloss. But the point is similar to v. 14 – the wealth that was greedily sucked in by the wicked proves to be their undoing. Either this is totally irrelevant to Job’s case, a general discussion, or the man is raising questions about how Job got his wealth.

13 tn Heb “belly,” which represents his cravings, his desires and appetites. The “satisfaction” is actually the word for “quiet; peace; calmness; ease.” He was driven by greedy desires, or he felt and displayed an insatiable greed.

14 tn The verb is the passive participle of the verb חָמַד (khamad) which is one of the words for “covet; desire.” This person is controlled by his desires; there is no escape. He is a slave.

15 tn The verb is difficult to translate in this line. It basically means “to cause to escape; to rescue.” Some translate this verb as “it is impossible to escape”; this may work, but is uncertain. Others translate the verb in the sense of saving something else: N. Sarna says, “Of his most cherished possessions he shall save nothing” (“The Interchange of the Preposition bet and min in Biblical Hebrew,” JBL 78 [1959]: 315-16). The RSV has “he will save nothing in which he delights”; NIV has “he cannot save himself by his treasure.”

16 tn Heb “for his eating,” which is frequently rendered “for his gluttony.” It refers, of course, to all the desires he has to take things from other people.

17 sn The point throughout is that insatiable greed and ruthless plundering to satisfy it will be recompensed with utter and complete loss.

18 tn The word שָׂפַק (safaq) occurs only here; it means “sufficiency; wealth; abundance (see D. W. Thomas, “The Text of Jesaia 2:6 and the Word sapaq,ZAW 75 [1963]: 88-90).

19 tn Heb “there is straightness for him.” The root צָרַר (tsarar) means “to be narrowed in straits, to be in a bind.” The word here would have the idea of pressure, stress, trouble. One could say he is in a bind.

20 tn Heb “every hand of trouble comes to him.” The pointing of עָמֵל (’amel) indicates it would refer to one who brings trouble; LXX and Latin read an abstract noun עָמָל (’amal, “trouble”) here.

21 tn D. J. A. Clines observes that to do justice to the three jussives in the verse, one would have to translate “May it be, to fill his belly to the full, that God should send…and rain” (Job [WBC], 477). The jussive form of the verb at the beginning of the verse could also simply introduce a protasis of a conditional clause (see GKC 323 §109.h, i). This would mean, “if he [God] is about to fill his [the wicked’s] belly to the full, he will send….” The NIV reads “when he has filled his belly.” These fit better, because the context is talking about the wicked in his evil pursuit being cut down.

22 tn “God” is understood as the subject of the judgment.

23 tn Heb “the anger of his wrath.”

24 tn Heb “rain down upon him, on his flesh.” Dhorme changes עָלֵימוֹ (’alemo, “upon him”) to “his arrows”; he translates the line as “he rains his arrows upon his flesh.” The word בִּלְחוּמוֹ (bilkhumo,“his flesh”) has been given a wide variety of translations: “as his food,” “on his flesh,” “upon him, his anger,” or “missiles or weapons of war.”



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