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Job 21:22-26

Context

21:22 Can anyone teach 1  God knowledge,

since 2  he judges those that are on high? 3 

Death Levels Everything

21:23 “One man dies in his full vigor, 4 

completely secure and prosperous,

21:24 his body 5  well nourished, 6 

and the marrow of his bones moist. 7 

21:25 And another man 8  dies in bitterness of soul, 9 

never having tasted 10  anything good.

21:26 Together they lie down in the dust,

and worms cover over them both.

1 tn The imperfect verb in this question should be given the modal nuance of potential imperfect. The question is rhetorical – it is affirming that no one can teach God.

2 tn The clause begins with the disjunctive vav (ו) and the pronoun, “and he.” This is to be subordinated as a circumstantial clause. See GKC 456 §142.d.

3 tc The Hebrew has רָמִים (ramim), a plural masculine participle of רוּם (rum, “to be high; to be exalted”). This is probably a reference to the angels. But M. Dahood restores an older interpretation that it refers to “the Most High” (“Some Northwest Semitic words in Job,”Bib 38 [1957]: 316-17). He would take the word as a singular form with an enclitic mem (ם). He reads the verse, “will he judge the Most High?”

4 tn The line has “in the bone of his perfection.” The word עֶצֶם (’etsem), which means “bone,” is used pronominally to express “the same, very”; here it is “in the very fullness of his strength” (see GKC 449 §139.g). The abstract תֹּם (tom) is used here in the sense of physical perfection and strengths.

5 tn The verb עָטַן (’atan) has the precise meaning of “press olives.” But because here it says “full of milk,” the derived meaning for the noun has been made to mean “breasts” or “pails” (although in later Hebrew this word occurs – but with olives, not with milk). Dhorme takes it to refer to “his sides,” and repoints the word for “milk” (חָלָב, khalav) to get “fat” (חֶלֶב, khelev) – “his sides are full of fat,” a rendering followed by NASB. However, this weakens the parallelism.

6 tn This interpretation, adopted by several commentaries and modern translations (cf. NAB, NIV), is a general rendering to capture the sense of the line.

7 tn The verb שָׁקָה (shaqah) means “to water” and here “to be watered thoroughly.” The picture in the line is that of health and vigor.

8 tn The expression “this (v. 23)…and this” (v. 25) means “one…the other.”

9 tn The text literally has “and this [man] dies in soul of bitterness.” Some simply reverse it and translate “in the bitterness of soul.” The genitive “bitterness” may be an attribute adjective, “with a bitter soul.”

10 tn Heb “eaten what is good.” It means he died without having enjoyed the good life.



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