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Job 34

Elihu’s Second Speech 1 

34:1 Elihu answered:

34:2 “Listen to my words, you wise men;

hear 2  me, you learned men. 3 

34:3 For the ear assesses 4  words

as the mouth 5  tastes food.

34:4 Let us evaluate 6  for ourselves what is right; 7 

let us come to know among ourselves what is good.

34:5 For Job says, ‘I am innocent, 8 

but God turns away my right.

34:6 Concerning my right, should I lie? 9 

My wound 10  is incurable,

although I am without transgression.’ 11 

34:7 What man is like Job,

who 12  drinks derision 13  like water!

34:8 He goes about 14  in company 15  with evildoers,

he goes along 16  with wicked men. 17 

34:9 For he says, ‘It does not profit a man

when he makes his delight with God.’ 18 

God is Not Unjust

34:10 “Therefore, listen to me, you men of understanding. 19 

Far be it from 20  God to do wickedness,

from the Almighty to do evil.

34:11 For he repays a person for his work, 21 

and according to the conduct of a person,

he causes the consequences to find him. 22 

34:12 Indeed, in truth, God does not act wickedly,

and the Almighty does not pervert justice.

34:13 Who entrusted 23  to him the earth?

And who put him over 24  the whole world?

34:14 If God 25  were to set his heart on it, 26 

and gather in his spirit and his breath,

34:15 all flesh would perish together

and human beings would return to dust.

God Is Impartial and Omniscient

34:16 “If you have 27  understanding, listen to this,

hear what I have to say. 28 

34:17 Do you really think 29 

that one who hates justice can govern? 30 

And will you declare guilty

the supremely righteous 31  One,

34:18 who says to a king, 32  ‘Worthless man’ 33 

and to nobles, ‘Wicked men,’

34:19 who shows no partiality to princes,

and does not take note of 34  the rich more than the poor,

because all of them are the work of his hands?

34:20 In a moment they die, in the middle of the night, 35 

people 36  are shaken 37  and they pass away.

The mighty are removed effortlessly. 38 

34:21 For his eyes are on the ways of an individual,

he observes all a person’s 39  steps.

34:22 There is no darkness, and no deep darkness,

where evildoers can hide themselves. 40 

34:23 For he does not still consider a person, 41 

that he should come before God in judgment.

34:24 He shatters the great without inquiry, 42 

and sets up others in their place.

34:25 Therefore, he knows their deeds,

he overthrows them 43  in the night 44 

and they are crushed.

34:26 He strikes them for their wickedness, 45 

in a place where people can see, 46 

34:27 because they have turned away from following him,

and have not understood 47  any of his ways,

34:28 so that they caused 48  the cry of the poor

to come before him,

so that he hears 49  the cry of the needy.

34:29 But if God 50  is quiet, who can condemn 51  him?

If he hides his face, then who can see him?

Yet 52  he is over the individual and the nation alike, 53 

34:30 so that the godless man should not rule,

and not lay snares for the people. 54 

Job Is Foolish to Rebel

34:31 “Has anyone said to God,

‘I have endured chastisement, 55 

but I will not act wrongly any more.

34:32 Teach me what I cannot see. 56 

If I have done evil, I will do so no more.’

34:33 Is it your opinion 57  that God 58  should recompense it,

because you reject this? 59 

But you must choose, and not I,

so tell us what you know.

34:34 Men of understanding say to me –

any wise man listening to me says –

34:35 that 60  Job speaks without knowledge

and his words are without understanding. 61 

34:36 But 62  Job will be tested to the end,

because his answers are like those of wicked men.

34:37 For he adds transgression 63  to his sin;

in our midst he claps his hands, 64 

and multiplies his words against God.”

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1 sn This speech of Elihu focuses on defending God. It can be divided into these sections: Job is irreligious (2-9), God is just (10-15), God is impartial and omniscient (16-30), Job is foolish to rebel (31-37).

2 tn Heb “give ear to me.”

3 tn The Hebrew word means “the men who know,” and without a complement it means “to possess knowledge.”

4 tn Or “examines; tests; tries; discerns.”

5 tn Or “palate”; the Hebrew term refers to the tongue or to the mouth in general.

6 sn Elihu means “choose after careful examination.”

7 tn The word is מִשְׁפָּט (mishpat) again, with the sense of what is right or just.

8 tn Heb “righteous,” but in this context it means to be innocent or in the right.

9 tn The verb is the Piel imperfect of כָּזַב (kazav), meaning “to lie.” It could be a question: “Should I lie [against my right?] – when I am innocent. If it is repointed to the Pual, then it can be “I am made to lie,” or “I am deceived.” Taking it as a question makes good sense here, and so emendations are unnecessary.

10 tn The Hebrew text has only “my arrow.” Some commentators emend that word slightly to get “my wound.” But the idea could be derived from “arrows” as well, the wounds caused by the arrows. The arrows are symbolic of God’s affliction.

11 tn Heb “without transgression”; but this is parallel to the first part where the claim is innocence.

12 tn Heb “he drinks,” but coming after the question this clause may be subordinated.

13 tn The scorn or derision mentioned here is not against Job, but against God. Job scorns God so much, he must love it. So to reflect this idea, Gordis has translated it “blasphemy” (cf. NAB).

14 tn The perfect verb with the vav (ו) consecutive carries the sequence forward from the last description.

15 tn The word חֶבְרַה (khevrah, “company”) is a hapax legomenon. But its meaning is clear enough from the connections to related words and this context as well.

16 tn The infinitive construct with the ל (lamed) preposition may continue the clause with the finite verb (see GKC 351 §114.p).

17 tn Heb “men of wickedness”; the genitive is attributive (= “wicked men”).

18 tn Gordis, however, takes this expression in the sense of “being in favor with God.”

19 tn Heb “men of heart.” The “heart” is used for the capacity to understand and make the proper choice. It is often translated “mind.”

20 tn For this construction, see Job 27:5.

21 tn Heb “for the work of man, he [= God] repays him.”

22 tn Heb “he causes it to find him.” The text means that God will cause a man to find (or receive) the consequences of his actions.

23 tn The verb פָּקַד (paqad) means “to visit; to appoint; to number.” Here it means “to entrust” for care and governing. The implication would be that there would be someone higher than God – which is what Elihu is repudiating by the rhetorical question. No one entrusted God with this.

24 tn The preposition is implied from the first half of the verse.

25 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

26 tc This is the reading following the Qere. The Kethib and the Syriac and the LXX suggest a reading יָשִׂים (yasim, “if he [God] recalls”). But this would require leaving out “his heart,” and would also require redividing the verse to make “his spirit” the object. It makes better parallelism, but may require too many changes.

27 tn The phrase “you have” is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied.

28 tn Heb “the sound of my words.”

29 tn The force of הַאַף (haaf) is “Is it truly the case?” The point is being made that if Job were right God could not be judging the world.

30 tn The verb חָבַשׁ (khavash) has the basic idea of “to bind,” as in binding on the yoke, and then in the sense of subduing people under authority (cf. Assyrian absanu). The imperfect verb here is best expressed with the potential nuance.

31 tn The two words could be taken separately, but they seem to form a fine nominal hendiadys, because the issue is God’s justice. So the word for power becomes the modifier.

32 tc Heb “Does one say,” although some smooth it out to say “Is it fit to say?” For the reading “who says,” the form has to be repointed to הַאֹמֵר (haomer) meaning, “who is the one saying.” This reading is supported by the LXX, Vulgate, and Syriac. Also it seems to flow better with the following verse. It would be saying that God is over the rulers and can rebuke them. The former view is saying that no one rebukes kings, much less Job rebuking God.

33 tn The word בְּלִיָּעַל (bÿliyyaal) means both “worthless” and “wicked.” It is common in proverbial literature, and in later writings it became a description of Satan. It is usually found with “son of.”

34 tn The verb means “to give recognition; to take note of” and in this passage with לִפְנֵי (lifne, “before”) it means to show preferential treatment to the rich before the poor. The word for “rich” here is an unusual word, found parallel to “noble” (Isa 32:2). P. Joüon thinks it is a term of social distinction (Bib 18 [1937]: 207-8).

35 tn Dhorme transposes “in the middle of the night” with “they pass away” to get a smoother reading. But the MT emphasizes the suddenness by putting both temporal ideas first. E. F. Sutcliffe leaves the order as it stands in the text, but adds a verb “they expire” after “in the middle of the night” (“Notes on Job, textual and exegetical,” Bib 30 [1949]: 79ff.).

36 tn R. Gordis (Job, 389) thinks “people” here mean the people who count, the upper class.

37 tn The verb means “to be violently agitated.” There is no problem with the word in this context, but commentators have made suggestions for improving the idea. The proposal that has the most to commend it, if one were inclined to choose a new word, is the change to יִגְוָעוּ (yigvau, “they expire”; so Ball, Holscher, Fohrer, and others).

38 tn Heb “not by hand.” This means without having to use force.

39 tn Heb “his”; the referent (a person) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

40 tn The construction of this colon uses the Niphal infinitive construct from סָתַר (satar, “to be hidden; to hide”). The resumptive adverb makes this a relative clause in its usage: “where the evildoers can hide themselves.”

41 tn Heb “for he does not put upon man yet.” This has been given a wide variety of interpretations, all of which involve a lot of additional thoughts. The word עוֹד (’od, “yet, still”) has been replaced with מוֹעֵד (moed, “an appointed time,” Reiske and Wright), with the ם (mem) having dropped out by haplography. This makes good sense. If the MT is retained, the best interpretation would be that God does not any more consider (from “place upon the heart”) man, that he might appear in judgment.

42 tn Heb “[with] no investigation.”

43 tn The direct object “them” is implied and has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

44 tn The Hebrew term “night” is an accusative of time.

45 tn Heb “under wicked men,” or “under wickednesses.” J. C. Greenfield shows that the preposition can mean “among” as well (“Prepositions B Tachat in Jes 57:5,” ZAW 32 [1961]: 227). That would allow “among wicked men.” It could also be “instead of” or even “in return for [their wickedness]” which is what the RSV does.

46 tn The text simply uses רֹאִים (roim): “[in the place where there are] seers,” i.e., spectators.

47 tn The verb הִשְׂכִּילוּ (hiskilu) means “to be prudent; to be wise.” From this is derived the idea of “be wise in understanding God’s will,” and “be successful because of prudence” – i.e., successful with God.

48 tn The verse begins with the infinitive construct of בּוֹא (bo’, “go”), showing the result of their impious actions.

49 tn The verb here is an imperfect; the clause is circumstantial to the preceding clause, showing either the result, or the concomitant action.

50 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

51 tn The verb in this position is somewhat difficult, although it does make good sense in the sentence – it is just not what the parallelism would suggest. So several emendations have been put forward, for which see the commentaries.

52 tn The line simply reads “and over a nation and over a man together.” But it must be the qualification for the points being made in the previous lines, namely, that even if God hides himself so no one can see, yet he is still watching over them all (see H. H. Rowley, Job [NCBC], 222).

53 tn The word translated “alike” (Heb “together”) has bothered some interpreters. In the reading taken here it is acceptable. But others have emended it to gain a verb, such as “he visits” (Beer), “he watches over” (Duhm), “he is compassionate” (Kissane), etc. But it is sufficient to say “he is over.”

54 tn This last verse is difficult because it is unbalanced and cryptic. Some have joined the third line of v. 29 with this entire verse to make a couplet. But the same result is achieved by simply regarding this verse as the purpose of v. 29. But there still are some words that must be added. In the first colon, “[he is over the nations]…preventing from ruling.” And in the second colon, “laying” has to be supplied before “snares.”

55 tn The Hebrew text has only “I lift up” or “I bear” (= I endure). The reading “I have been led astray” is obtained by changing the vowels to read a passive. If the MT is retained, an object has to be supplied, such as “chastisement” (so RSV, NASB) or “punishment” (NRSV). If not, then a different reading would be followed (e.g., “I was misguided” [NAB]; “I am guilty” [NIV]).

56 tn Heb “what I do not see,” more specifically, “apart from [that which] I see.”

57 tn Heb “is it from with you,” an idiomatic expression meaning “to suit you” or “according to your judgment.”

58 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

59 tn There is no object on the verb, and the meaning is perhaps lost. The best guess is that Elihu is saying Job has rejected his teaching.

60 tn Adding “that” in the translation clarifies Elihu’s indirect citation of the wise individuals’ words.

61 tn The Hiphil infinitive construct is here functioning as a substantive. The word means “prudence; understanding.”

62 tc The MT reads אָבִי (’avi, “my father”), which makes no sense. Some follow the KJV and emend the word to make a verb “I desire” or use the noun “my desire of it.” Others follow an Arabic word meaning “entreat, I pray” (cf. ESV, “Would that Job were tried”). The LXX and the Syriac versions have “but” and “surely” respectively. Since this is the only ms support, albeit weak, it may be the best choice. In this sense Elihu would be saying that because of Job’s attitude God will continue to test him.

63 tn Although frequently translated “rebellion,” the basic meaning of this Hebrew term is “transgression.”

64 tc If this reading stands, it would mean that Job shows contempt, meaning that he mocks them and accuses God. It is a bold touch, but workable. Of the many suggested emendations, Dhorme alters some of the vowels and obtains a reading “and casts doubt among us,” and then takes “transgression” from the first colon for the complement. Some commentators simply delete the line.

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