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Job 21:27-34

Context
Futile Words, Deceptive Answers

21:27 “Yes, I know what you are thinking, 1 

the schemes 2  by which you would wrong me. 3 

21:28 For you say,

‘Where now is the nobleman’s house, 4 

and where are the tents in which the wicked lived?’ 5 

21:29 Have you never questioned those who travel the roads?

Do you not recognize their accounts 6 

21:30 that the evil man is spared

from the day of his misfortune,

that he is delivered 7 

from the day of God’s wrath?

21:31 No one denounces his conduct to his face;

no one repays him for what 8  he has done. 9 

21:32 And when he is carried to the tombs,

and watch is kept 10  over the funeral mound, 11 

21:33 The clods of the torrent valley 12  are sweet to him;

behind him everybody follows in procession,

and before him goes a countless throng.

21:34 So how can you console me with your futile words?

Nothing is left of your answers but deception!” 13 

1 tn The word is “your thoughts.” The word for “thoughts” (from חָצַב [khatsav, “to think; to reckon; to plan”]) has more to do with their intent than their general thoughts. He knows that when they talked about the fate of the wicked they really were talking about him.

2 tn For the meaning of this word, and its root זָמַם (zamam), see Job 17:11. It usually means the “plans” or “schemes” that are concocted against someone.

3 tn E. Dhorme (Job, 321) distinguishes the verb חָמַס (khamas) from the noun for “violence.” He proposes a meaning of “think, imagine”: “and the ideas you imagined about me.”

4 sn The question implies the answer will be “vanished” or “gone.”

5 tn Heb “And where is the tent, the dwellings of the wicked.” The word “dwellings of the wicked” is in apposition to “tent.” A relative pronoun must be supplied in the translation.

6 tc The LXX reads, “Ask those who go by the way, and do not disown their signs.”

tn The idea is that the merchants who travel widely will talk about what they have seen and heard. These travelers give a different account of the wicked; they tell how he is spared. E. Dhorme (Job, 322) interprets “signs” concretely: “Their custom was to write their names and their thoughts somewhere at the main cross-roads. The main roads of Sinai are dotted with these scribblings made by such passers of a day.”

7 tn The verb means “to be led forth.” To be “led forth in the day of trouble” means to be delivered.

8 tn The expression “and he has done” is taken here to mean “what he has done.”

9 tn Heb “Who declares his way to his face? // Who repays him for what he has done?” These rhetorical questions, which expect a negative answer (“No one!”) have been translated as indicative statements to bring out their force clearly.

10 tn The verb says “he will watch.” The subject is unspecified, so the translation is passive.

11 tn The Hebrew word refers to the tumulus, the burial mound that is erected on the spot where the person is buried.

12 tn The clods are those that are used to make a mound over the body. And, for a burial in the valley, see Deut 34:6. The verse here sees him as participating in his funeral and enjoying it. Nothing seems to go wrong with the wicked.

13 tn The word מָעַל (maal) is used for “treachery; deception; fraud.” Here Job is saying that their way of interpreting reality is dangerously unfaithful.



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