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Job 31:35-40

Context
Job’s Appeal

31:35 “If only I had 1  someone to hear me!

Here is my signature – 2 

let the Almighty answer me!

If only I had an indictment 3 

that my accuser had written. 4 

31:36 Surely 5  I would wear it proudly 6  on my shoulder,

I would bind 7  it on me like a crown;

31:37 I would give him an accounting of my steps;

like a prince I would approach him.

Job’s Final Solemn Oath 8 

31:38 “If my land cried out against me 9 

and all its furrows wept together,

31:39 if I have eaten its produce without paying, 10 

or caused the death 11  of its owners, 12 

31:40 then let thorns sprout up in place of wheat,

and in place of barley, weeds!” 13 

The words of Job are ended.

1 tn The optative is again introduced with “who will give to me hearing me? – O that someone would listen to me!”

2 tn Heb “here is my ‘tav’” (הֵן תָּוִי, hen tavi). The letter ת (tav) is the last letter of the alphabet in Hebrew. In paleo-Hebrew the letter was in the form of a cross or an “X,” and so used for one making a mark or a signature. In this case Job has signed his statement and delivered it to the court – but he has yet to be charged. Kissane thought that this being the last letter of the alphabet, Job was saying, “This is my last word.” Others take the word to mean “desire” – “this is my desire, that God would answer me” (see E. F. Sutcliffe, “Notes on Job, textual and exegetical,” Bib 30 [1949]: 71-72; G. R. Driver, AJSL 3 [1935/36]: 166; P. P. Saydon, “Philological and Textual Notes to the Maltese Translation of the Old Testament,” CBQ 23 [1961]: 252). R. Gordis (Job, 355) also argues strongly for this view.

3 tn Heb “a scroll,” in the context referring to a scroll containing the accusations of Job’s legal adversary (see the next line).

4 tn The last line is very difficult; it simply says, “a scroll [that] my [legal] adversary had written.” The simplest way to handle this is to see it as a continuation of the optative (RSV).

5 tn The clause begins with the positive oath formula, אִם־לֹא (’im-lo’).

6 tn The word “proudly” is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied (note the following line).

7 tn This verb is only found in Prov 6:21. But E. Dhorme (Job, 470) suggests that (with metathesis) we have a derivative מַעֲדַנּוֹת (maadannot, “bonds; ties”) in 38:31.

8 sn Many commentators place vv. 38-40b at the end of v. 34, so that there is no return to these conditional clauses after his final appeal.

9 sn Some commentators have suggested that the meaning behind this is that Job might not have kept the year of release (Deut 15:1), and the law against mixing seed (Lev 19:19). But the context will make clear that the case considered is obtaining the land without paying for it and causing the death of its lawful owner (see H. H. Rowley, Job [NCBC], 206). Similar to this would be the case of Naboth’s vineyard.

10 tn Heb “without silver.”

11 tc The versions have the verb “grieved” here. The Hebrew verb means “to breathe,” but the form is Hiphil. This verb in that stem could mean something of a contemptuous gesture, like “sniff” in Mal 1:13. But with נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) in Job 11:20 it means “to cause death,” i.e., “to cause to breathe out; to expire.” This is likely the meaning here, although it is possible that it only meant “to cause suffering” to the people.

12 tn There is some debate over the meaning of בְּעָלֶיהָ (bÿaleyha), usually translated “its owners.” Dahood, following others (although without their emendations), thought it referred to “laborers” (see M. Dahood, Bib 41 [1960]: 303; idem, Bib 43 [1962]: 362).

13 tn The word בָּאְשָׁה (boshah, from בָּאַשׁ [baas, “to have a foul smell”]) must refer to foul smelling weeds.



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