33:21 His flesh wastes away from sight,
and his bones, which were not seen,
are easily visible. 1
and his life to the messengers of death. 3
33:23 If there is an angel beside him,
one mediator 4 out of a thousand,
to tell a person what constitutes his uprightness; 5
‘Spare 8 him from going down
to the place of corruption,
I have found a ransom for him,’ 9
he returns to the days of his youthful vigor. 11
he sees God’s face 13 with rejoicing,
‘I have sinned and falsified what is right,
but I was not punished according to what I deserved. 18
from going down to the place of corruption,
and my life sees the light!’
1 tc Heb “are laid bare.” This is the Qere reading; the Kethib means “bare height.” Gordis reverses the word order: “his bones are bare [i.e., crushed] so that they cannot be looked upon.” But the sense of that is not clear.
2 tn Heb “his soul [נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh, “life”] draws near.”
3 tn The MT uses the Hiphil participle, “to those who cause death.” This seems to be a reference to the belief in demons that brought about death, an idea not mentioned in the Bible itself. Thus many proposals have been made for this expression. Hoffmann and Budde divide the word into לְמוֹ מֵתִּים (lÿmo metim) and simply read “to the dead.” Dhorme adds a couple of letters to get לִמְקוֹם מֵתִּים (limqom metim, “to the place [or abode] of the dead”).
4 sn The verse is describing the way God can preserve someone from dying by sending a messenger (translated here as “angel”), who could be human or angelic. This messenger will interpret/mediate God’s will. By “one … out of a thousand” Elihu could have meant either that one of the thousands of messengers at God’s disposal might be sent or that the messenger would be unique (see Eccl 7:28; and cp. Job 9:3).
5 tn This is a smoother reading. The MT has “to tell to a man his uprightness,” to reveal what is right for him. The LXX translated this word “duty”; the choice is adopted by some commentaries. However, that is too far from the text, which indicates that the angel/messenger is to call the person to uprightness.
6 tn This verse seems to continue the protasis begun in the last verse, with the apodosis coming in the next verse.
7 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
8 tc The verb is either taken as an anomalous form of פָּדַע (pada’, “to rescue; to redeem,” or “to exempt him”), or it is emended to some similar word, like פָּרַע (para’, “to let loose,” so Wright).
10 tc The word רֻטֲפַשׁ (rutafash) is found nowhere else. One suggestion is that it should be יִרְטַב (yirtav, “to become fresh”), connected to רָטַב (ratav, “to be well watered [or moist]”). It is also possible that it was a combination of רָטַב (ratav, “to be well watered”) and טָפַשׁ (tafash, “to grow fat”). But these are all guesses in the commentaries.
11 tn The word describes the period when the man is healthy and vigorous, ripe for what life brings his way.
12 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
13 tn Heb “his face”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
sn This is usually taken to mean that as a worshiper this individual comes into the presence of the
14 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
15 tc Many commentators think this line is superfluous and so delete it. The RSV changed the verb to “he recounts,” making the idea that the man publishes the news of his victory or salvation (taking “righteousness” as a metonymy of cause).
16 tc The verb יָשֹׁר (yashor) is unusual. The typical view is to change it to יָשִׁיר (yashir, “he sings”), but that may seem out of harmony with a confession. Dhorme suggests a root שׁוּר (shur, “to repeat”), but this is a doubtful root. J. Reider reads it יָשֵׁיר (yasher) and links it to an Arabic word “confesses” (ZAW 24 : 275).
17 tn Heb “to men.”
18 tn The verb שָׁוָה (shavah) has the impersonal meaning here, “it has not been requited to me.” The meaning is that the sinner has not been treated in accordance with his deeds: “I was not punished according to what I deserved.”