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Job 4:3-4

Context

4:3 Look, 1  you have instructed 2  many;

you have strengthened 3  feeble hands. 4 

4:4 Your words have supported 5  those

who stumbled, 6 

and you have strengthened the knees

that gave way. 7 

1 tn The deictic particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “behold”) summons attention; it has the sense of “consider, look.”

2 tn The verb יָסַר (yasar) in the Piel means “to correct,” whether by words with the sense of teach, or by chastening with the sense of punish, discipline. The double meaning of “teach” and “discipline” is also found with the noun מוּסָר (musar).

3 tn The parallelism again uses a perfect verb in the first colon and an imperfect in the second; but since the sense of the line is clearly what Job has done in the past, the second verb may be treated as a preterite, or a customary imperfect – what Job repeatedly did in the past (GKC 315 §107.e). The words in this verse may have double meanings. The word יָסַר (yasar, “teach, discipline”) may have the idea of instruction and correction, but also the connotation of strength (see Y. Hoffmann, “The Use of Equivocal Words in the First Speech of Eliphaz [Job IV–V],” VT 30 [1980]: 114-19).

4 tn The “feeble hands” are literally “hands hanging down.” This is a sign of weakness, helplessness, or despondency (see 2 Sam 4:1; Isa 13:7).

5 tn Both verbs in this line are imperfects, and probably carry the same nuance as the last verb in v. 3, namely, either customary imperfect or preterite. The customary has the aspect of stressing that this was what Job used to do.

6 tn The form is the singular active participle, interpreted here collectively. The verb is used of knees that give way (Isa 35:3; Ps 109:24).

7 tn The expression is often translated as “feeble knees,” but it literally says “the bowing [or “tottering”] knees.” The figure is one who may be under a heavy load whose knees begin to shake and buckle (see also Heb 12:12).

sn Job had been successful at helping others not be crushed by the weight of trouble and misfortune. It is easier to help others than to preserve a proper perspective when one’s self is afflicted (E. Dhorme, Job, 44).



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