Job 34:17-19

34:17 Do you really think

that one who hates justice can govern?

And will you declare guilty

the supremely righteous One,

34:18 who says to a king, ‘Worthless man’

and to nobles, ‘Wicked men,’

34:19 who shows no partiality to princes,

and does not take note of the rich more than the poor,

because all of them are the work of his hands?

tn The force of הַאַף (haaf) is “Is it truly the case?” The point is being made that if Job were right God could not be judging the world.

tn The verb חָבַשׁ (khavash) has the basic idea of “to bind,” as in binding on the yoke, and then in the sense of subduing people under authority (cf. Assyrian absanu). The imperfect verb here is best expressed with the potential nuance.

tn The two words could be taken separately, but they seem to form a fine nominal hendiadys, because the issue is God’s justice. So the word for power becomes the modifier.

tc Heb “Does one say,” although some smooth it out to say “Is it fit to say?” For the reading “who says,” the form has to be repointed to הַאֹמֵר (haomer) meaning, “who is the one saying.” This reading is supported by the LXX, Vulgate, and Syriac. Also it seems to flow better with the following verse. It would be saying that God is over the rulers and can rebuke them. The former view is saying that no one rebukes kings, much less Job rebuking God.

tn The word בְּלִיָּעַל (bÿliyyaal) means both “worthless” and “wicked.” It is common in proverbial literature, and in later writings it became a description of Satan. It is usually found with “son of.”

tn The verb means “to give recognition; to take note of” and in this passage with לִפְנֵי (lifne, “before”) it means to show preferential treatment to the rich before the poor. The word for “rich” here is an unusual word, found parallel to “noble” (Isa 32:2). P. Joüon thinks it is a term of social distinction (Bib 18 [1937]: 207-8).