although I am blameless,
it would declare me perverse. 4
I despise my life.
‘He destroys the blameless and the guilty.’
1 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.
2 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.
3 tn The verb has the declarative sense in the Hiphil, “to declare guilty [or wicked]” or “to condemn.”
4 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.
5 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.
6 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.
7 tc The LXX omits the phrase “It is all one.” Modern scholars either omit it or transpose it for clarity.
sn The expression “it is one” means that God’s dealings with people is undiscriminating. The number “one” could also be taken to mean “the same” – “it is all the same.” The implication is that it does not matter if Job is good or evil, if he lives or dies. This is the conclusion of the preceding section.
8 tn The relationships of these clauses is in some question. Some think that the poet has inverted the first two, and so they should read, “That is why I have said: ‘It is all one.’” Others would take the third clause to be what was said.