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Job 9:2-3

Context

9:2 “Truly, 1  I know that this is so.

But how 2  can a human 3  be just before 4  God? 5 

9:3 If someone wishes 6  to contend 7  with him,

he cannot answer 8  him one time in a thousand.

Job 9:20

Context

9:20 Although I am innocent, 9 

my mouth 10  would condemn me; 11 

although I am blameless,

it would declare me perverse. 12 

1 tn The adverb אָמְנָם (’omnam, “in truth”) is characteristic of the Book of Job (12:2; 19:4; 34:12; 36:4). The friends make commonplace statements, general truths, and Job responds with “truly I know this is so.” Job knows as much about these themes as his friends do.

2 sn The interrogative is used to express what is an impossibility.

3 tn The attempt to define אֱנוֹשׁ (’enosh) as “weak” or “mortal” man is not compelling. Such interpretations are based on etymological links without the clear support of usage (an issue discussed by J. Barr, Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament). This seems to be a poetic word for “human” (the only nonpoetic use is in 2 Chr 14:10).

4 tn The preposition is אִם (’im, “with, before, in the presence of”). This is more specific than מִן (min) in 4:17.

5 sn The point of Job’s rhetorical question is that man cannot be justified as against God, because God is too powerful and too clever – he controls the universe. He is discussing now the question that Eliphaz raised in 4:17. Peake observes that Job is raising the question of whether something is right because God says it is right, or that God declares it right because it is right.

6 tn Some commentators take God to be the subject of this verb, but it is more likely that it refers to the mortal who tries to challenge God in a controversy. The verb is used of Job in 13:3.

7 tn The verb רִיב (riv) is a common one; it has the idea of “contention; dispute; legal dispute or controversy; go to law.” With the preposition אִם (’im) the idea must be “to contend with” or “to dispute with.” The preposition reflects the prepositional phrase “with God” in v. 2, supporting the view that man is the subject.

8 tn This use of the imperfect as potential imperfect assumes that the human is the subject, that in a dispute with God he could not answer one of God’s questions (for which see the conclusion of the book when God questions Job). On the other hand, if the interpretation were that God does not answer the demands of mortals, then a simple progressive imperfect would be required. In support of this is the frustration of Job that God does not answer him.

9 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.

10 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.

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

12 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.



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