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Job 31:9-11

Context

31:9 If my heart has been enticed by a woman,

and I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door, 1 

31:10 then let my wife turn the millstone 2  for another man,

and may other men have sexual relations with her. 3 

31:11 For I would have committed 4  a shameful act, 5 

an iniquity to be judged. 6 

1 tn Gordis notes that the word פֶּתַח (petakh, “door”) has sexual connotations in rabbinic literature, based on Prov 7:6ff. (see b. Ketubbot 9b). See also the use in Song 4:12 using a synonym.

2 tn Targum Job interpreted the verb טָחַן (takhan, “grind”) in a sexual sense, and this has influenced other versions and commentaries. But the literal sense fits well in this line. The idea is that she would be a slave for someone else. The second line of the verse then might build on this to explain what kind of a slave – a concubine (see A. B. Davidson, Job, 215).

3 tn Heb “bow down over her,” an idiom for sexual relations.

sn The idea is that if Job were guilty of adultery it would be an offense against the other woman’s husband, and so by talionic justice another man’s adultery with Job’s wife would be an offense against him. He is not wishing something on his wife; rather, he is simply looking at what would be offenses in kind.

4 tn Heb “for that [would be].” In order to clarify the referent of “that,” which refers to v. 9 rather than v. 10, the words “I have committed” have been supplied in the translation.

5 tn The word for “shameful act” is used especially for sexual offenses (cf. Lev 18:27).

6 tc Some have deleted this verse as being short and irrelevant, not to mention problematic. But the difficulties are not insurmountable, and there is no reason to delete it. There is a Kethib-Qere reading in each half verse; in the first the Kethib is masculine for the subject but the Qere is feminine going with “shameless deed.” In the second colon the Kethib is the feminine agreeing with the preceding noun, but the Qere is masculine agreeing with “iniquity.”

tn The expression עָוֹן פְּלִילִים (’avon pÿlilim) means “an iniquity of the judges.” The first word is not spelled as a construct noun, and so this has led some to treat the second word as an adjective (with enclitic mem [ם]). The sense is similar in either case, for the adjective occurs in Job 31:28 meaning “calling for judgment” (See GKC 427 §131.s).



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