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Job 33:14-22

Elihu Disagrees With Job’s View of God

33:14 “For God speaks, the first time in one way,

the second time in another,

though a person does not perceive 1  it.

33:15 In a dream, a night vision,

when deep sleep falls on people

as they sleep in their beds.

33:16 Then he gives a revelation 2  to people,

and terrifies them with warnings, 3 

33:17 to turn a person from his sin, 4 

and to cover a person’s pride. 5 

33:18 He spares a person’s life from corruption, 6 

his very life from crossing over 7  the river.

33:19 Or a person is chastened 8  by pain on his bed,

and with the continual strife of his bones, 9 

33:20 so that his life loathes food,

and his soul rejects appetizing fare. 10 

33:21 His flesh wastes away from sight,

and his bones, which were not seen,

are easily visible. 11 

33:22 He 12  draws near to the place of corruption,

and his life to the messengers of death. 13 

1 tn The Syriac and the Vulgate have “and he does not repeat it,” a reading of the text as it is, according to E. Dhorme (Job, 403). But his argument is based on another root with this meaning – a root which does not exist (see L. Dennefeld, RB 48 [1939]: 175). The verse is saying that God does speak to man.

2 tn The idiom is “he uncovers the ear of men.” This expression means “inform” in Ruth 4:4; 1 Sam 20:2, etc. But when God is the subject it means “make a revelation” (see 1 Sam 9:15; 2 Sam 7:27).

3 tc Heb “and seals their bonds.” The form of the present translation, “and terrifies them with warnings,” is derived only by emending the text. Aquila, the Vulgate, Syriac, and Targum Job have “their correction” for “their bond,” which is what the KJV used. But the LXX, Aquila, and the Syriac have “terrifies” for the verb. This involves a change in pointing from יָחְתֹּם (yakhtom) to יְחִתֵּם (yÿkhittem). The LXX has “appearances of fear” instead of “bonds.” The point of the verse seems to be that by terrifying dreams God makes people aware of their ways.

4 tc The MT simply has מַעֲשֶׂה (maaseh, “deed”). The LXX has “from his iniquity” which would have been מֵעַוְלָה (meavlah). The two letters may have dropped out by haplography. The MT is workable, but would have to mean “[evil] deeds.”

5 tc Here too the sense of the MT is difficult to recover. Some translations took it to mean that God hides pride from man. Many commentators changed יְכַסֶּה (yÿkhasseh, “covers”) to יְכַסֵּחַ (yÿkhasseakh, “he cuts away”), or יְכַלֶּה (yÿkhalleh, “he puts an end to”). The various emendations are not all that convincing.

6 tn A number of interpreters and translations take this as “the pit” (see Job 17:14; cf. NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).

7 tc Here is another difficult line. The verb normally means “to pass through; to pass over,” and so this word would normally mean “from passing through [or over].” The word שֶׁלַח (shelakh) does at times refer to a weapon, but most commentators look for a parallel with “the pit [or corruption].” One suggestion is שְׁאוֹלָה (shÿolah, “to Sheol”), proposed by Duhm. Dhorme thought it was שַׁלַח (shalakh) and referred to the passageway to the underworld (see M. Tsevat, VT 4 [1954]: 43; and Svi Rin, BZ 7 [1963]: 25). See discussion of options in HALOT 1517-18 s.v. IV שֶׁלַח. The idea of crossing the river of death fits the idea of the passage well, although the reading “to perish by the sword” makes sense and was followed by the NIV.

8 tc The MT has the passive form, and so a subject has to be added: “[a man] is chastened.” The LXX has the active form, indicating “[God] chastens,” but the object “a man” has to be added. It is understandable why the LXX thought this was active, within this sequence of verbs; and that is why it is the inferior reading.

9 tc The Kethib “the strife of his bones is continual,” whereas the Qere has “the multitude of his bones are firm.” The former is the better reading in this passage. It indicates that the pain is caused by the ongoing strife.

10 tn Heb “food of desire.” The word “rejects” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

11 tc Heb “are laid bare.” This is the Qere reading; the Kethib means “bare height.” Gordis reverses the word order: “his bones are bare [i.e., crushed] so that they cannot be looked upon.” But the sense of that is not clear.

12 tn Heb “his soul [נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh, “life”] draws near.”

13 tn The MT uses the Hiphil participle, “to those who cause death.” This seems to be a reference to the belief in demons that brought about death, an idea not mentioned in the Bible itself. Thus many proposals have been made for this expression. Hoffmann and Budde divide the word into לְמוֹ מֵתִּים (lÿmo metim) and simply read “to the dead.” Dhorme adds a couple of letters to get לִמְקוֹם מֵתִּים (limqom metim, “to the place [or abode] of the dead”).

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