or the birds of the sky and they will tell you.
or let the fish of the sea declare to you.
and the breath of all the human race. 10
12:11 Does not the ear test words,
Does not long life bring understanding?
counsel and understanding are his. 16
if he imprisons a person, there is no escape. 18
both the one who goes astray 23
and the one who misleads are his.
1 sn As J. E. Hartley (Job [NICOT], 216) observes, in this section Job argues that respected tradition “must not be accepted uncritically.”
2 tn The singular verb is used here with the plural collective subject (see GKC 464 §145.k).
3 tn The word in the MT means “to complain,” not simply “to speak,” and one would expect animals as the object here in parallel to the last verse. So several commentators have replaced the word with words for animals or reptiles – totally different words (cf. NAB, “reptiles”). The RSV and NRSV have here the word “plants” (see 30:4, 7; and Gen 21:15).
4 tn A. B. Davidson (Job, 90) offers a solution by taking “earth” to mean all the lower forms of life that teem in the earth (a metonymy of subject).
5 tn This line could also be translated “by all these,” meaning “who is not instructed by nature?” (H. H. Rowley, Job [NCBC], 93). But D. J. A. Clines points out that the verses have presented the animals as having knowledge and communicating it, so the former reading would be best (Job [WBC], 279).
6 tc Some commentators have trouble with the name “Yahweh” in this verse, which is not the pattern in the poetic section of Job. Three
7 sn The expression “has done this” probably refers to everything that has been discussed, namely, the way that God in his wisdom rules over the world, but specifically it refers to the infliction of suffering in the world.
8 tn The construction with the relative clause includes a resumptive pronoun referring to God: “who in his hand” = “in whose hand.”
9 tn The two words נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) and רוּחַ (ruakh) are synonymous in general. They could be translated “soul” and “spirit,” but “soul” is not precise for נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), and so “life” is to be preferred. Since that is the case for the first half of the verse, “breath” will be preferable in the second part.
10 tn Human life is made of “flesh” and “spirit.” So here the line reads “and the spirit of all flesh of man.” If the text had simply said “all flesh,” that would have applied to all flesh in which there is the breath of life (see Gen 6:17; 7:15). But to limit this to human beings requires the qualification with “man.”
12 tn Heb “the palate.”
13 tn The final preposition with its suffix is to be understood as a pleonastic dativus ethicus and not translated (see GKC 439 §135.i).
sn In the rest of the chapter Job turns his attention away from creation to the wisdom of ancient men. In Job 13:1 when Job looks back to this part, he refers to both the eye and the ear. In vv. 13-25 Job refers to many catastrophes which he could not have seen, but must have heard about.
14 tn The statement in the Hebrew Bible simply has “among the aged – wisdom.” Since this seems to be more the idea of the friends than of Job, scholars have variously tried to rearrange it. Some have proposed that Job is citing his friends: “With the old men, you say, is wisdom” (Budde, Gray, Hitzig). Others have simply made it a question (Weiser). But others take לֹא (lo’) from the previous verse and make it the negative here, to say, “wisdom is not….” But Job will draw on the wisdom of the aged, only with discernment, for ultimately all wisdom is with God.
15 tn Heb “him”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
16 sn A. B. Davidson (Job, 91) says, “These attributes of God’s [sic] confound and bring to nought everything bearing the same name among men.”
17 tn The use of הֵן (hen, equivalent to הִנֵּה, hinneh, “behold”) introduces a hypothetical condition.
18 tn The verse employs antithetical ideas: “tear down” and “build up,” “imprison” and “escape.” The Niphal verbs in the sentences are potential imperfects. All of this is to say that humans cannot reverse the will of God.
19 tc The LXX has a clarification: “he will dry the earth.”
20 sn The verse is focusing on the two extremes of drought and flood. Both are described as being under the power of God.
22 tn The word תּוּשִׁיָּה (tushiyyah) is here rendered “prudence.” Some object that God’s power is intended here, and so a word for power and not wisdom should be included. But v. 13 mentioned wisdom. The point is that it is God’s efficient wisdom that leads to success. One could interpret this as a metonymy of cause, the intended meaning being victory or success.
23 tn The Hebrew text uses a wordplay here: שֹׁגֵג (shogeg) is “the one going astray,” i.e., the one who is unable to guard and guide his life. The second word is מַשְׁגֶּה (mashgeh), from a different but historically related root שָׁגָה (shagah), which here in the Hiphil means “the one who misleads, causes to go astray.” These two words are designed to include everybody – all are under the wisdom of God.