Can reeds flourish 2 without water?
and not ripe for cutting, 4
they can wither away 5
the hope of the godless 9 perishes,
1 sn H. H. Rowley observes the use of the words for plants that grow in Egypt and suspects that Bildad either knew Egypt or knew that much wisdom came from Egypt. The first word refers to papyrus, which grows to a height of six feet (so the verb means “to grow tall; to grow high”). The second word refers to the reed grass that grows on the banks of the river (see Gen 41:2, 18).
2 tn The two verbs, גָּאָה (ga’ah) and שָׂגָה (sagah), have almost the same meanings of “flourish, grow, become tall.”
3 tn The word has been traditionally translated “greenness” (so KJV, ASV), but some modern commentators argue for “in flower.” The word is found only in Song 6:11 (where it may be translated “blossoms”). From the same root is אָבִיב (’aviv, “fresh young ears of barley”). Here the word refers to the plant that is still in its early stages of flowering. It should not be translated to suggest the plant is flowering (cf. NRSV), but translating as if the plant is green (so NASB) is also problematic.
4 sn The idea is that as the plant begins to flower, but before it is to be cut down, there is no sign of withering or decay in it. But if the water is withdrawn, it will wither sooner than any other herb. The point Bildad will make of this is that when people rebel against God and his grace is withheld, they perish more swiftly than the water reed.
5 tn The imperfect verb here is the modal use of potential, “can wither away” if the water is not there.
6 tn Heb “before.”
7 tn The LXX interprets the line: “does not any herb wither before it has received moisture?”
8 tn The word אָרְחוֹת (’orkhot) means “ways” or “paths” in the sense of tracks of destiny or fate. The word דֶּרֶךְ (derekh, “way, road, path”) is used in a similar way (Isa 40:27; Ps 37:5). However, many commentators emend the text to read אַחֲרִית (’akharit, “end”) in harmony with the LXX. But Prov 1:19 (if not emended as well) confirms the primary meaning here without changing the text (see D. J. A. Clines, Job [WBC], 199).
9 tn The word חָנֵף (khanef) is often translated “hypocrite.” But the root verb means “to be profane,” and this would be done by idolatry or bloodshed. It describes an irreligious person, a godless person. In Dan 11:32 the word seems to mean “make someone pagan.” The word in this verse is parallel to “those who forget God.”