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Job 24:18-24

Context

24:18 1 “You say, 2  ‘He is foam 3  on the face of the waters; 4 

their portion of the land is cursed

so that no one goes to their vineyard. 5 

24:19 The drought as well as the heat carry away

the melted snow; 6 

so the grave 7  takes away those who have sinned. 8 

24:20 The womb 9  forgets him,

the worm feasts on him,

no longer will he be remembered.

Like a tree, wickedness will be broken down.

24:21 He preys on 10  the barren and childless woman, 11 

and does not treat the widow well.

24:22 But God 12  drags off the mighty by his power;

when God 13  rises up against him, he has no faith in his life. 14 

24:23 God 15  may let them rest in a feeling of security, 16 

but he is constantly watching 17  all their ways. 18 

24:24 They are exalted for a little while,

and then they are gone, 19 

they are brought low 20  like all others,

and gathered in, 21 

and like a head of grain they are cut off.’ 22 

1 tc Many commentators find vv. 18-24 difficult on the lips of Job, and so identify this unit as a misplaced part of the speech of Zophar. They describe the enormities of the wicked. But a case can also be made for retaining it in this section. Gordis thinks it could be taken as a quotation by Job of his friends’ ideas.

2 tn The verb “say” is not in the text; it is supplied here to indicate that this is a different section.

3 tn Or “is swift.”

4 sn The wicked person is described here as a spray or foam upon the waters, built up in the agitation of the waters but dying away swiftly.

5 tn The text reads, “he does not turn by the way of the vineyards.” This means that since the land is cursed, he/one does not go there. Bickell emended “the way of the vineyards” to “the treader of the vineyard” (see RSV, NRSV). This would mean that “no wine-presser would turn towards” their vineyards.

6 tn Heb “the waters of the snow.”

7 tn Or “so Sheol.”

8 tn This is the meaning of the verse, which in Hebrew only has “The grave / they have sinned.”

9 tn Here “womb” is synecdoche, representing one’s mother.

10 tc The form in the text is the active participle, “feed; graze; shepherd.” The idea of “prey” is not natural to it. R. Gordis (Job, 270) argues that third he (ה) verbs are often by-forms of geminate verbs, and so the meaning here is more akin to רָעַע (raa’, “to crush”). The LXX seems to have read something like הֵרַע (hera’, “oppressed”).

11 tn Heb “the childless [woman], she does not give birth.” The verbal clause is intended to serve as a modifier here for the woman. See on subordinate verbal clauses GKC 490 §156.d, f.

12 tn God has to be the subject of this clause. None is stated in the Hebrew text, but “God” has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

13 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity. See the note on the word “life” at the end of the line.

14 tn This line has been given a number of interpretations due to its cryptic form. The verb יָקוּם (yaqum) means “he rises up.” It probably is meant to have God as the subject, and be subordinated as a temporal clause to what follows. The words “against him” are not in the Hebrew text, but have been supplied in the translation to specify the object and indicate that “rise up” is meant in a hostile sense. The following verb וְלֹא־יַאֲמִין (vÿlo-yaamin), by its very meaning of “and he does not believe,” cannot have God as the subject, but must refer to the wicked.

15 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

16 tn The expression לָבֶטַח (lavetakh, “in security”) precedes the verb that it qualifies – God “allows him to take root in security.” For the meaning of the verb, see Job 8:15.

17 tn Heb “his eyes are on.”

18 sn The meaning of the verse is that God may allow the wicked to rest in comfort and security, but all the time he is watching them closely with the idea of bringing judgment on them.

19 tn The Hebrew throughout this section (vv. 18-24) interchanges the singular and the plural. Here again we have “they are exalted…but he is not.” The verse is clear nonetheless: the wicked rise high, and then suddenly they are gone.

20 tn The verb is the Hophal of the rare verb מָכַךְ (makhakh), which seems to mean “to bend; to collapse.” The text would read “they are made to collapse like all others.” There is no reason here to change “like others” just because the MT is banal. But many do, following the LXX with “like mallows.” The LXX was making a translation according to sense. R. Gordis (Job, 271) prefers “like grass.”

21 tn The verb קָפַץ (qafats) actually means “to shut in,” which does not provide exactly the idea of being gathered, not directly at least. But a change to קָטַף (qataf, “pluck”) while attractive, is not necessary.

22 sn This marks the end of the disputed section, taken here to be a quotation by Job of their sentiments.



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