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Job 9:14-21

Context
The Impossibility of Facing God in Court

9:14 “How much less, 1  then, can I answer him 2 

and choose my words 3  to argue 4  with 5  him! 6 

9:15 Although 7  I am innocent, 8 

I could not answer him; 9 

I could only plead 10  with my judge 11  for mercy.

9:16 If I summoned him, and he answered me, 12 

I would not believe 13 

that he would be listening to my voice –

9:17 he who 14  crushes 15  me with a tempest,

and multiplies my wounds for no reason. 16 

9:18 He does not allow 17  me to recover 18  my breath,

for he fills 19  me with bitterness.

9:19 If it is a matter of strength, 20 

most certainly 21  he is the strong one!

And if it is a matter of justice,

he will say, ‘Who will summon me?’ 22 

9:20 Although I am innocent, 23 

my mouth 24  would condemn me; 25 

although I am blameless,

it would declare me perverse. 26 

9:21 I am blameless. 27  I do not know myself. 28 

I despise my life.

1 tn The construction אַף כִּי־אָנֹכִי (’af kianokhi) is an expression that means either “how much more” or “how much less.” Here it has to mean “how much less,” for if powerful forces like Rahab are crushed beneath God’s feet, how could Job contend with him?

2 tn The imperfect verb here is to be taken with the nuance of a potential imperfect. The idea of “answer him” has a legal context, i.e., answering God in a court of law. If God is relentless in his anger toward greater powers, then Job realizes it is futile for him.

3 sn In a legal controversy with God it would be essential to choose the correct words very carefully (humanly speaking); but the calmness and presence of mind to do that would be shattered by the overwhelming terror of God’s presence.

4 tn The verb is supplied in this line.

5 tn The preposition אִם (’im, “with”) carries the idea of “in contest with” in a number of passages (compare vv. 2, 3; 16:21).

6 tn The LXX goes a different way after changing the first person to the third: “Oh then that he would hearken to me, or judge my cause.”

7 tn The line begins with אֲשֶׁר (’asher, “which”), which is omitted in the LXX and the Syriac. The particle אִם (’im) can introduce a concessive clause (GKC 498 §160.a) or a conditional clause (GKC 495 §159.n). The idea here seems to be “even if I were…I could not….”

8 tn The verb is צָדַקְתִּי (tsadaqti, “I am right [or “righteous”]”). The term here must be forensic, meaning “in the right” or “innocent” (see 11:2; 13:18; 33:12; 40:8). Job is claiming to be in the right, but still has difficulty speaking to God.

9 tn The form is the Qal imperfect of the verb “answer.” As the text stands, Job is saying that he cannot answer or could not answer (contend with) God if given a chance. Some commentators think a Niphal fits better here: “I am not answered,” meaning God does not reply to him. This has the LXX, the Syriac, and Theodotion in support of it. The advantage would be to avoid the repetition of the same word from v. 14. But others rightly reject this, because all Job is saying here is that he would be too overwhelmed by God to answer him in court. The LXX change to a passive is understandable in that it would be seeking a different idea in this verse and without vocalization might have assumed a passive voice here.

10 tn The verb אֶתְחַנָּן (’etkhannan) is the Hitpael of חָנַן (khanan), meaning “seek favor,” make supplication,” or “plead for mercy.” The nuance would again be a modal nuance; if potential, then the translation would be “I could [only] plead for mercy.”

11 tn The word מְשֹׁפְטִי (mÿshofti) appears to be simply “my judge.” But most modern interpretations take the po‘el participle to mean “my adversary in a court of law.” Others argue that the form is at least functioning as a noun and means “judge” (see 8:5). This would fit better with the idea of appealing for mercy from God. The dilemma of Job, of course, is that the Lord would be both his adversary in the case and his judge.

12 sn The idea of “answer” in this line is that of responding to the summons, i.e., appearing in court. This preterite and the perfect before it have the nuance of hypothetical perfects since they are in conditional clauses (GKC 330 §111.x). D. J. A. Clines (Job [WBC], 219) translates literally, “If I should call and he should answer.”

13 tn The Hiphil imperfect in the apodosis of this conditional sentence expresses what would (not) happen if God answered the summons.

14 tn The relative pronoun indicates that this next section is modifying God, the Judge. Job does not believe that God would respond or listen to him, because this is the one who is crushing him.

15 tn The verb יְשׁוּפֵנִי (yÿshufeni) is the same verb that is used in Gen 3:15 for the wounding of the serpent. The Targum to Job, the LXX, and the Vulgate all translate it “to crush; to pound,” or “to bruise.” The difficulty for many exegetes is that this is to be done “with a tempest.” The Syriac and Targum Job see a different vocalization and read “with a hair.” The text as it stands is understandable and so no change is needed. The fact that the word “tempest” is written with a different sibilant in other places in Job is not greatly significant in this consideration.

16 tn חִנָּם (khinnam) is adverbial, meaning “gratuitously, without a cause, for no reason, undeservedly.” See its use in 2:4.

17 tn The verb נָתַן (natan) essentially means “to give”; but followed by the infinitive (without the ל [lamed] here) it means “to permit; to allow.”

18 tn The Hiphil of the verb means “to bring back”; with the object “my breath,” it means “get my breath” or simply “breathe.” The infinitive is here functioning as the object of the verb (see GKC 350 §114.m).

19 sn The meaning of the word is “to satiate; to fill,” as in “drink to the full, be satisfied.” Job is satiated – in the negative sense – with bitterness. There is no room for more.

20 tn The MT has only “if of strength.”

21 tn “Most certainly” translates the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh).

22 tn The question could be taken as “who will summon me?” (see Jer 49:19 and 50:44). This does not make immediate sense. Some have simply changed the suffix to “who will summon him.” If the MT is retained, then supplying something like “he will say” could make the last clause fit the whole passage. Another option is to take it as “Who will reveal it to me?” – i.e., Job could be questioning his friends’ qualifications for being God’s emissaries to bring God’s charges against him (cf. KJV, NKJV; and see 10:2 where Job uses the same verb in the Hiphil to request that God reveal what his sin has been that has led to his suffering).

sn Job is saying that whether it is a trial of strength or an appeal to justice, he is unable to go against God.

23 tn The idea is the same as that expressed in v. 15, although here the imperfect verb is used and not the perfect. Once again with the concessive clause (“although I am right”) Job knows that in a legal dispute he would be confused and would end up arguing against himself.

24 tn Some commentators wish to change this to “his mouth,” meaning God’s response to Job’s complaints. But the MT is far more expressive, and “my mouth” fits the context in which Job is saying that even though he is innocent, if he spoke in a court setting in the presence of God he would be overwhelmed, confused, and no doubt condemn himself.

25 tn The verb has the declarative sense in the Hiphil, “to declare guilty [or wicked]” or “to condemn.”

26 tn The verb עָקַשׁ (’aqash) means “to be twisted; to be tortuous.” The Piel has a meaning “to bend; to twist” (Mic 3:9) and “to pervert” (Jer 59:8). The form here is classified as a Hiphil, with the softening of the vowel i (see GKC 147 §53.n). It would then also be a declarative use of the Hiphil.

27 tn Dhorme, in an effort to avoid tautology, makes this a question: “Am I blameless?” The next clause then has Job answering that he does not know. But through the last section Job has been proclaiming his innocence. The other way of interpreting these verses is to follow NIV and make all of them hypothetical (“If I were blameless, he would pronounce me guilty”) and then come to this verse with Job saying, “I am blameless.” The second clause of this verse does not fit either view very well. In vv. 20, 21, and 22 Job employs the same term for “blameless” (תָּם, tam) as in the prologue (1:1). God used it to describe Job in 1:8 and 2:3. Bildad used it in 8:20. These are the final occurrences in the book.

28 tn The meaning of the expression “I do not know myself” seems to be, “I do not care.” NIV translates it, “I have no concern for my life.”

sn Job believes he is blameless and not deserving of all this suffering; he will hold fast to that claim, even if the future is uncertain, especially if that future involved a confrontation with God.



TIP #08: Use the Strong Number links to learn about the original Hebrew and Greek text. [ALL]
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