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Job 20:18-22

Context

20:18 He gives back the ill-gotten gain 1 

without assimilating it; 2 

he will not enjoy the wealth from his commerce. 3 

20:19 For he has oppressed the poor and abandoned them; 4 

he has seized a house which he did not build. 5 

20:20 For he knows no satisfaction in his appetite; 6 

he does not let anything he desires 7  escape. 8 

20:21 “Nothing is left for him to devour; 9 

that is why his prosperity does not last. 10 

20:22 In the fullness of his sufficiency, 11 

distress 12  overtakes him.

the full force of misery will come upon him. 13 

1 tn The idea is the fruit of his evil work. The word יָגָע (yaga’) occurs only here; it must mean ill-gotten gains. The verb is in 10:3.

2 tn Heb “and he does not swallow.” In the context this means “consume” for his own pleasure and prosperity. The verbal clause is here taken adverbially.

3 sn The expression is “according to the wealth of his exchange.” This means he cannot enjoy whatever he gained in his business deals. Some mss have בּ (bet) preposition, making the translation easier; but this is evidence of a scribal correction.

4 tc The verb indicates that after he oppressed the poor he abandoned them to their fate. But there have been several attempts to improve on the text. Several have repointed the text to get a word parallel to “house.” Ehrlich came up with עֹזֵב (’ozev, “mud hut”), Kissane had “hovel” (similar to Neh 3:8). M. Dahood did the same (“The Root ’zb II in Job,” JBL 78 [1959]: 306-7). J. Reider came up with עֶזֶב (’ezev, the “leavings”), what the rich were to leave for the poor (“Contributions to the Scriptural text,” HUCA 24 [1952/53]: 103-6). But an additional root עָזַב (’azav) is questionable. And while the text as it stands is general and not very striking, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Dhorme reverses the letters to gain בְּעֹז (bÿoz, “with force [or violence]”).

5 tn The last clause says, “and he did not build it.” This can be understood in an adverbial sense, supplying the relative pronoun to the translation.

6 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.

7 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.

8 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.”

9 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.

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

11 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).

12 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.

13 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.



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