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Job 27:18-23

Context

27:18 The house he builds is as fragile as a moth’s cocoon, 1 

like a hut 2  that a watchman has made.

27:19 He goes to bed wealthy, but will do so no more. 3 

When he opens his eyes, it is all gone. 4 

27:20 Terrors overwhelm him like a flood; 5 

at night a whirlwind carries him off.

27:21 The east wind carries him away, and he is gone;

it sweeps him out of his place.

27:22 It hurls itself against him without pity 6 

as he flees headlong from its power.

27:23 It claps 7  its hands at him in derision

and hisses him away from his place. 8 

1 tn Heb כָעָשׁ (khaash, “like a moth”), but this leaves room for clarification. Some commentators wanted to change it to “bird’s nest” or just “nest” (cf. NRSV) to make the parallelism; see Job 4:14. But the word is not found. The LXX has a double expression, “as moths, as a spider.” So several take it as the spider’s web, which is certainly unsubstantial (cf. NAB, NASB, NLT; see Job 8:14).

2 tn The Hebrew word is the word for “booth,” as in the Feast of Booths. The word describes something that is flimsy; it is not substantial at all.

3 tc The verb is the Niphal יֵאָסֵף (yeasef), from אָסַף (’asaf, “to gather”). So, “he lies down rich, but he is not gathered.” This does not make much sense. It would mean “he will not be gathered for burial,” but that does not belong here. Many commentators accept the variant יֹאסִף (yosif) stood for יוֹסִיף (yosif, “will [not] add”). This is what the LXX and the Syriac have. This leads to the interpretive translation that “he will do so no longer.”

4 tn Heb “and he is not.” One view is that this must mean that he dies, not that his wealth is gone. R. Gordis (Job, 295) says the first part should be made impersonal: “when one opens one’s eyes, the wicked is no longer there.” E. Dhorme (Job, 396) has it more simply: “He has opened his eyes, and it is for the last time.” But the other view is that the wealth goes overnight. In support of this is the introduction into the verse of the wealthy. The RSV, NRSV, ESV, and NLT take it that “wealth is gone.”

5 tn Many commentators want a word parallel to “in the night.” And so we are offered בַּיּוֹם (bayyom, “in the day”) for כַמַּיִם (khammayim, “like waters”) as well as a number of others. But “waters” sometimes stand for major calamities, and so may be retained here. Besides, not all parallel structures are synonymous.

6 tn The verb is once again functioning in an adverbial sense. The text has “it hurls itself against him and shows no mercy.”

7 tn If the same subject is to be carried through here, it is the wind. That would make this a bold personification, perhaps suggesting the force of the wind. Others argue that it is unlikely that the wind claps its hands. They suggest taking the verb with an indefinite subject: “he claps” means “one claps. The idea is that of people rejoicing when the wicked are gone. But the parallelism is against this unless the second line is changed as well. R. Gordis (Job, 296) has “men will clap their hands…men will whistle upon him.”

8 tn Or “hisses at him from its place” (ESV).



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