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Job 21:11-15

Context

21:11 They allow their children to run 1  like a flock;

their little ones dance about.

21:12 They sing 2  to the accompaniment of tambourine and harp,

and make merry to the sound of the flute.

21:13 They live out 3  their years in prosperity

and go down 4  to the grave 5  in peace.

21:14 So they say to God, ‘Turn away from us!

We do not want to 6  know your ways. 7 

21:15 Who is the Almighty, that 8  we should serve him?

What would we gain

if we were to pray 9  to him?’ 10 

1 tn The verb שָׁלַח (shalakh) means “to send forth,” but in the Piel “to release; to allow to run free.” The picture of children frolicking in the fields and singing and dancing is symbolic of peaceful, prosperous times.

2 tn The verb is simply “they take up [or lift up],” but the understood object is “their voices,” and so it means “they sing.”

3 tc The Kethib has “they wear out” but the Qere and the versions have יְכַלּוּ (yÿkhallu, “bring to an end”). The verb כָּלָה (kalah) means “to finish; to complete,” and here with the object “their days,” it means that they bring their life to a (successful) conclusion. Both readings are acceptable in the context, with very little difference in the overall meaning (which according to Gordis is proof the Qere does not always correct the Kethib).

4 tc The MT has יֵחָתּוּ (yekhattu, “they are frightened [or broken]”), taking the verb from חָתַת (khatat, “be terrified”). But most would slightly repoint it to יֵחָתוּ (yekhatu), an Aramaism, “they go down,” from נָחַת (nakhat, “go down”). See Job 17:16.

5 tn The word רֶגַע (rega’) has been interpreted as “in a moment” or “in peace” (on the basis of Arabic raja`a, “return to rest”). Gordis thinks this is a case of talhin – both meanings present in the mind of the writer.

6 tn The absence of the preposition before the complement adds greater vividness to the statement: “and knowing your ways – we do not desire.”

7 sn Contrast Ps 25:4, which affirms that walking in God’s ways means to obey God’s will – the Torah.

8 tn The interrogative clause is followed by ki, similar to Exod 5:2, “Who is Yahweh, that I should obey him?”

9 tn The verb פָּגַע (paga’) means “to encounter; to meet,” but also “to meet with request; to intercede; to interpose.” The latter meaning is a derived meaning by usage.

10 tn The verse is not present in the LXX. It may be that it was considered too blasphemous and therefore omitted.



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