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Job 21:1-6

Context
Job’s Reply to Zophar 1 

21:1 Then Job answered:

21:2 “Listen carefully 2  to my words;

let this be 3  the consolation you offer me. 4 

21:3 Bear with me 5  and I 6  will speak,

and after I have spoken 7  you may mock. 8 

21:4 Is my 9  complaint against a man? 10 

If so, 11  why should I not be impatient? 12 

21:5 Look 13  at me and be appalled;

put your hands over your mouths. 14 

21:6 For, when I think 15  about this, I am terrified 16 

and my body feels a shudder. 17 

1 sn In this chapter Job actually answers the ideas of all three of his friends. Here Job finds the flaw in their argument – he can point to wicked people who prosper. But whereas in the last speech, when he looked on his suffering from the perspective of his innocence, he found great faith and hope, in this chapter when he surveys the divine government of the world, he sinks to despair. The speech can be divided into five parts: he appeals for a hearing (2-6), he points out the prosperity of the wicked (7-16), he wonders exactly when the godless suffer (17-22), he shows how death levels everything (23-26), and he reveals how experience contradicts his friends’ argument (27-34).

2 tn The intensity of the appeal is again expressed by the imperative followed by the infinitive absolute for emphasis. See note on “listen carefully” in 13:17.

3 tc The LXX negates the sentence, “that I may not have this consolation from you.”

4 tn The word תַּנְחוּמֹתֵיכֶם (tankhumotekhem) is literally “your consolations,” the suffix being a subjective genitive. The friends had thought they were offering Job consolation (Job 14:11), but the consolation he wants from them is that they listen to him and respond accordingly.

5 tn The verb נָשָׂא (nasa’) means “to lift up; to raise up”; but in this context it means “to endure; to tolerate” (see Job 7:21).

6 tn The conjunction and the independent personal pronoun draw emphatic attention to the subject of the verb: “and I on my part will speak.”

7 tn The adverbial clauses are constructed of the preposition “after” and the Piel infinitive construct with the subjective genitive suffix: “my speaking,” or “I speak.”

8 tn The verb is the imperfect of לָעַג (laag). The Hiphil has the same basic sense as the Qal, “to mock; to deride.” The imperfect here would be modal, expressing permission. The verb is in the singular, suggesting that Job is addressing Zophar; however, most of the versions put it into the plural. Note the singular in 16:3 between the plural in 16:1 and 16:4.

9 tn The addition of the independent pronoun at the beginning of the sentence (“Is it I / against a man / my complaint”) strengthens the pronominal suffix on “complaint” (see GKC 438 §135.f).

10 sn The point seems to be that if his complaint were merely against men he might expect sympathy from other men; but no one dares offer him sympathy when his complaint is against God. So he will give free expression to his spirit (H. H. Rowley, Job [NCBC], 147).

11 tn On disjunctive interrogatives, see GKC 475 §150.g.

12 tn Heb “why should my spirit/breath not be short” (see Num 21:4; Judg 16:16).

13 tn The verb פְּנוּ (pÿnu) is from the verb “to turn,” related to the word for “face.” In calling for them to turn toward him, he is calling for them to look at him. But here it may be more in the sense of their attention rather than just a looking at him.

14 tn The idiom is “put a hand over a mouth,” the natural gesture for keeping silent and listening (cf. Job 29:9; 40:4; Mic 7:16).

15 tn The verb is זָכַר (zakhar, “to remember”). Here it has the sense of “to keep in memory; to meditate; to think upon.”

16 tn The main clause is introduced here by the conjunction, following the adverbial clause of time.

17 tn Some commentators take “shudder” to be the subject of the verb, “a shudder seizes my body.” But the word is feminine (and see the usage, especially in Job 9:6 and 18:20). It is the subject in Isa 21:4; Ps 55:6; and Ezek 7:18.



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