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Job 11:10-12

Context

11:10 If he comes by 1  and confines 2  you 3 

and convenes a court, 4 

then who can prevent 5  him?

11:11 For he 6  knows deceitful 7  men;

when he sees evil, will he not 8  consider it? 9 

11:12 But an empty man will become wise,

when a wild donkey’s colt is born a human being. 10 

1 tn The verb יַחֲלֹף (yakhalof) is literally “passes by/through” (NIV “comes along” in the sense of “if it should so happen”). Many accept the emendation to יַחְתֹּף (yakhtof, “he seizes,” cf. Gordis, Driver), but there is not much support for these.

2 tn The verb is the Hiphil of סָגַר (sagar, “to close; to shut”) and so here in this context it probably means something like “to shut in; to confine.” But this is a difficult meaning, and the sentence is cryptic. E. Dhorme (Job, 162) thinks this word and the next have to be antithetical, and so he suggests from a meaning “to keep confined” the idea of keeping a matter secret; and with the next verb, “to convene an assembly,” he offers “to divulge it.”

3 tn The pronoun “you” is not in the Hebrew text but has been supplied in the translation.

4 tn The denominative Hiphil of קָהָל (qahal, “an assembly”) has the idea of “to convene an assembly.” In this context there would be the legal sense of convening a court, i.e., calling Job to account (D. J. A. Clines, Job [WBC], 255). See E. Ullendorff, “The Meaning of QHLT,” VT 12 (1962): 215; he defines the verb also as “argue, rebuke.”

5 tn The verb means “turn him back.” Zophar uses Job’s own words (see 9:12).

6 tn The pronoun is emphatic implying that Zophar indicates that God indeed knows Job’s sin even if Job does not.

7 tn The expression is literally “men of emptiness” (see Ps 26:4). These are false men, for שָׁוְא (shavÿ’) can mean “vain, empty, or false, deceitful.”

8 tn E. Dhorme (Job, 162) reads the prepositional phrase “to him” rather than the negative; he translates the line as “he sees iniquity and observes it closely.”

9 tn Some commentators do not take this last clause as a question, but simply as a statement, namely, that when God sees evil he does not need to ponder or consider it – he knows it instantly. In that case it would be a circumstantial clause: “without considering it.” D. J. A. Clines lists quite an array of other interpretations for the line (Job [WBC], 255); for example, “and he is himself unobserved”; taking the word לֹא (lo’) as an emphatic; taking the negative as a noun, “considering them as nothing”; and others that change the verb to “they do not understand it.” But none of these are compelling; they offer no major improvement.

10 tn As A. B. Davidson (Job, 84) says, the one thing will happen when the other happens – which is never. The word “empty” נָבוּב (navuv) means “hollow; witless,” and “become wise” (יִלָּבֵב, yillavev) is “will get heart” (not to “lack heart” as Driver suggested”). Many commentators do not like the last line of the verse, and so offer even more emendations. E. F. Sutcliffe wanted to change פֶּרֶא (pere’, “donkey”) to פֶּרֶד (pered, “stallion”), rendering “a witless wight may get wit when a mule is born a stallion” (“Notes on Job, textual and exegetical,” Bib 30 [1949]: 70-71); and others approached the verse by changing the verb from יִוָּלֵד (yivvaled, “is born”) to יִלָּמֵד (yillamed, “is taught”), resulting in “a hollow man may get understanding, and a wild donkey’s colt may be taught [= tamed]” (cf. NAB).



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