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Job 18:2-4

Context

18:2 “How long until you 1  make an end of words? 2 

You must consider, 3  and then 4  we can talk.

18:3 Why should we be regarded as beasts,

and considered stupid 5  in your sight?

18:4 You who tear yourself 6  to pieces in your anger,

will the earth be abandoned 7  for your sake?

Or will a rock be moved from its place? 8 

1 tn The verb is plural, and so most commentators make it singular. But it seems from the context that Bildad is addressing all of them, and not just Job.

2 tn The construction is קִנְצֵי לְמִלִּין (qintse lÿmillin), which is often taken to be “end of words,” as if the word was from קֵץ (qets, “end”). But a plural of “end” is not found in the OT. Some will link the word to Arabic qanasa, “to hunt; to give chase,” to get an interpretation of “snares for words.” But E. Dhorme (Job, 257) objects that this does not fit the speech of Bildad (as well as it might Job’s). He finds a cognate qinsu, “fetters, shackles,” and reads “how long will you put shackles on words.” But G. R. Driver had pointed out that this cognate does not exist (“Problems in the Hebrew text of Job,” VTSup 3 [1955]: 72-93). So it would be preferable to take the reading “ends” and explain the ן (nun) as from a Aramaizing by-form. This is supported by 11QtgJob that uses סוֹף (sof, “end”). On the construction, GKC 421 §130.a explains this as a use of the construct in rapid narrative to connect the words; in such cases a preposition is on the following noun.

3 tn The imperfect verb, again plural, would be here taken in the nuance of instruction, or a modal nuance of obligation. So Bildad is telling his listeners to be intelligent. This would be rather cutting in the discourse.

4 tn Heb “afterward.”

5 tn The verb נִטְמִינוּ (nitminu) has been explained from different roots. Some take it from תָּמֵא (tame’, “to be unclean”), and translate it “Why should we be unclean in your eyes?” Most would connect it to טָמַם (tamam, “to stop up”), meaning “to be stupid” in the Niphal. Another suggestion is to follow the LXX and read from דָּמַם (damam, “to be reduced to silence”). Others take it from דָּמָּה (damah) with a meaning “to be like.” But what is missing is the term of comparison – like what? Various suggestions have been made, but all are simply conjectures.

6 tn The construction uses the participle and then 3rd person suffixes: “O tearer of himself in his anger.” But it is clearly referring to Job, and so the direct second person pronouns should be used to make that clear. The LXX is an approximation or paraphrase here: “Anger has possessed you, for what if you should die – would under heaven be desolate, or shall the mountains be overthrown from their foundations?”

7 tn There is a good deal of study on this word in this passage, and in Job in general. M. Dahood suggested a root עָזַב (’azav) meaning “to arrange; to rearrange” (“The Root ’zb II in Job,” JBL 78 [1959]: 303-9). But this is refuted by H. G. M. Williamson, “A Reconsideration of ’zb II in Biblical Hebrew,” ZAW 97 (1985): 74-85.

8 sn Bildad is asking if Job thinks the whole moral order of the world should be interrupted for his sake, that he may escape the punishment for wickedness.



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