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Job 36

Elihu’s Fourth Speech 1 

36:1 Elihu said further: 2 

36:2 “Be patient 3  with me a little longer

and I will instruct you,

for I still have words to speak on God’s behalf. 4 

36:3 With my knowledge I will speak comprehensively, 5 

and to my Creator I will ascribe righteousness. 6 

36:4 For in truth, my words are not false;

it is one complete 7  in knowledge

who is with you.

36:5 Indeed, God is mighty; and he does not despise people, 8 

he 9  is mighty, and firm 10  in his intent. 11 

36:6 He does not allow the wicked to live, 12 

but he gives justice to the poor.

36:7 He does not take his eyes 13  off the righteous;

but with kings on the throne

he seats the righteous 14  and exalts them forever. 15 

36:8 But if they are bound in chains, 16 

and held captive by the cords of affliction,

36:9 then he reveals 17  to them what they have done, 18 

and their transgressions,

that they were behaving proudly.

36:10 And he reveals 19  this 20  for correction,

and says that they must turn 21  from evil.

36:11 If they obey and serve him,

they live out their days in prosperity

and their years in pleasantness. 22 

36:12 But if they refuse to listen,

they pass over the river of death, 23 

and expire without knowledge.

36:13 The godless at heart 24  nourish anger, 25 

they do not cry out even when he binds them.

36:14 They die 26  in their youth,

and their life ends among the male cultic prostitutes. 27 

36:15 He delivers the afflicted by 28  their 29  afflictions,

he reveals himself to them 30  by their suffering.

36:16 And surely, he drew you 31  from the mouth of distress,

to a wide place, unrestricted, 32 

and to the comfort 33  of your table

filled with rich food. 34 

36:17 But now you are preoccupied with the judgment due the wicked,

judgment and justice take hold of you.

36:18 Be careful that 35  no one entices you with riches;

do not let a large bribe 36  turn you aside.

36:19 Would your wealth 37  sustain you,

so that you would not be in distress, 38 

even all your mighty efforts? 39 

36:20 Do not long for the cover of night

to drag people away from their homes. 40 

36:21 Take heed, do not turn to evil,

for because of this you have been tested 41  by affliction.

36:22 Indeed, God is exalted in his power;

who is a teacher 42  like him?

36:23 Who has prescribed his ways for him?

Or said to him, ‘You have done what is wicked’?

36:24 Remember to extol 43  his work,

which people have praised in song.

36:25 All humanity has seen it;

people gaze on it from afar.

The Work and Wisdom of God

36:26 “Yes, God is great – beyond our knowledge! 44 

The number of his years is unsearchable.

36:27 He draws up drops of water;

they distill 45  the rain into its mist, 46 

36:28 which the clouds pour down

and shower on humankind abundantly.

36:29 Who can understand the spreading of the clouds,

the thunderings of his pavilion? 47 

36:30 See how he scattered 48  his lightning 49  about him;

he has covered the depths 50  of the sea.

36:31 It is by these that he judges 51  the nations

and supplies food in abundance.

36:32 With his hands 52  he covers 53  the lightning,

and directs it against its target.

36:33 54 His thunder announces the coming storm,

the cattle also, concerning the storm’s approach.

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1 sn This very lengthy speech can be broken down into the following sections: the discipline of suffering (36:2-25), the work and wisdom of God (36:2637:24).

2 tn The use of וַיֹּסֶף (vayyosef) is with the hendiadys construction: “and he added and said,” meaning “and he said again, further.”

3 tn The verb כָּתַּר (kattar) is the Piel imperative; in Hebrew the word means “to surround” and is related to the noun for crown. But in Syriac it means “to wait.” This section of the book of Job will have a few Aramaic words.

4 tn The Hebrew text simply has “for yet for God words.”

5 tn Heb “I will carry my knowledge to-from afar.” The expression means that he will give a wide range to knowledge, that he will speak comprehensively.

6 tn This line gives the essence of all of Elihu’s speech – to give or ascribe righteousness to God against the charges of Job. Dhorme translates this “I will justify my Maker,” and that is workable if it carries the meaning of “declaring to be right.”

7 tn The word is תְּמִים (tÿmim), often translated “perfect.” It is the same word used of Job in 2:3. Elihu is either a complete stranger to modesty or is confident regarding the knowledge that he believes God has revealed to him for this situation. See the note on the heading before 32:1.

8 tn The object “people” is not in the Hebrew text but is implied.

9 tn The text simply repeats “mighty.”

10 tn The last two words are simply כֹּחַ לֵב (koakh lev, “strong in heart”), meaning something like “strong; firm in his decisions.”

11 tc There are several problems in this verse: the repetition of “mighty,” the lack of an object for “despise,” and the meaning of “strength of heart.” Many commentators reduce the verse to a single line, reading something like “Lo, God does not reject the pure in heart” (Kissane). Dhorme and Pope follow Nichols with: “Lo, God is mighty in strength, and rejects not the pure in heart.” This reading moved “mighty” to the first line and took the second to be בַּר (bar, “pure”).

12 tn Or “he does not keep the wicked alive.”

13 tc Many commentators accept the change of “his eyes” to “his right” (reading דִּינוֹ [dino] for עֵינָיו [’enayv]). There is no compelling reason for the change; it makes the line commonplace.

14 tn Heb “them”; the referent (the righteous) has been repeated from the first part of the verse for clarity.

15 tn Heb “he seats them forever and exalts them.” The last verb can be understood as expressing a logical consequence of the preceding action (cf. GKC 328 §111.l = “he seats them forever so that he exalts them”). Or the two verbs can be taken as an adverbial hendiadys whereby the first modifies the second adverbially: “he exalts them by seating them forever” or “when he seats them forever” (cf. GKC 326 §111.d). Some interpret this verse to say that God seats kings on the throne, making a change in subject in the middle of the verse. But it makes better sense to see the righteous as the subject matter throughout – they are not only protected, but are exalted.

16 tn Dhorme thinks that the verse is still talking about kings, who may be in captivity. But this diverts attention from Elihu’s emphasis on the righteous.

17 tn The verb נָגַד (nagad) means “to declare; to tell.” Here it is clear that God is making known the sins that caused the enslavement or captivity, so “reveal” makes a good interpretive translation.

18 tn Heb “their work.”

19 tn The idiom once again is “he uncovers their ear.”

20 tn The revelation is in the preceding verse, and so a pronoun must be added to make the reference clear.

21 tn The verb שׁוּב (shuv, “to turn; to return”) is one of the two major words in the OT for “repent” – to return from evil. Here the imperfect should be obligatory – they must do it.

22 tc Some commentators delete this last line for metrical considerations. But there is no textual evidence for the deletion; it is simply the attempt by some to make the meter rigid.

23 tn This is a similar expression to the one in Job 33:18, where the suggestion was made by many that it means crossing over the canal or river of death. Some retain the earlier interpretation of “perish by the sword” (cf. NIV).

24 tn The expression “godless [or hypocrite] in heart” is an intensification of the description. It conveys that they are intentionally godless. See Matt 23:28.

25 tn Heb “they put anger.” This is usually interpreted to mean they lay up anger, or put anger in their hearts.

26 tn The text expresses this with “their soul dies.”

27 tn Heb “among the male prostitutes” who were at the temple – the “holy ones,” with “holy” being used in that sense of “separated to that form of temple service.” So uncleanness and shame are some of the connotations of the reference. Some modern translations give the general sense only: “their life ends in shame” (NRSV); “and perish among the reprobate” (NAB); “die…after wasting their lives in immoral living” (NLT).

28 tn The preposition בּ (bet) in these two lines is not location but instrument, not “in” but “by means of.” The affliction and the oppression serve as a warning for sin, and therefore a means of salvation.

29 tn Heb “his.”

30 tn Heb “he uncovers their ear.”

31 tn The Hebrew verb means “to entice; to lure; to allure; to seduce,” but these have negative connotations. The English “to persuade; to draw” might work better. The verb is the Hiphil perfect of סוּת (sut). But the nuance of the verb is difficult. It can be equivalent to an English present expressing what God is doing (Peake). But the subject is contested as well. Since the verb usually has an evil connotation, there have been attempts to make the “plaza” the subject – “the wide place has led you astray” (Ewald).

32 tn Heb “a broad place where there is no cramping beneath [or under] it.”

33 tn The word נַחַת (nakhat) could be translated “set” if it is connected with the verb נוּחַ (nuakh, “to rest,” but then “to lay to rest, to set”). Kissane translates it “comfort.” Dhorme thinks it could come from נוּחַ (nuakh, “to rest”) or נָחַת (nakhat, “to descend”). But his conclusion is that it is a dittography after “under it” (p. 545).

34 tn Heb “filled with fat.”

35 tn The first expression is idiomatic: the text says, “because wrath lest it entice you” – thus, beware.

36 tn The word is כֹּפֶר (kofer), often translated “ransom,” but frequently in the sense of a bribe.

37 tn The form in the MT is “your cry (for help).” See J. E. Hartley (Job [NICOT], 472-73) and E. Dhorme (Job, 547-48) on the difficulties.

38 tn This part has only two words לֹא בְצָר (lobÿtsar, “not in distress”). The negated phrase serves to explain the first colon.

39 tc For the many suggestions and the reasoning here, see the commentaries.

40 tn The meaning of this line is difficult. There are numerous suggestions for emending the text. Kissane takes the first verb in the sense of “oppress,” and for “the night” he has “belonging to you,” meaning “your people.” This reads: “Oppress not them that belong not to you, that your kinsmen may mount up in their place.”

41 tn Normally “tested” would be the translation for the Niphal of בָּחַר (bakhar). Although the Qal is employed here, the context favors “tested” rather than “chose.”

42 tn The word מוֹרֶה (moreh) is the Hiphil participle from יָרַה (yarah). It is related to the noun תּוֹרָה (torah, “what is taught” i.e., the law).

43 tn The expression is “that you extol,” serving as an object of the verb.

44 tn The last part has the verbal construction, “and we do not know.” This clause is to be used adverbially: “beyond our understanding.”

45 tn The verb means “to filter; to refine,” and so a plural subject with the drops of water as the subject will not work. So many read the singular, “he distills.”

46 tn This word עֵד (’ed) occurs also in Gen 2:6. The suggestion has been that instead of a mist it represents an underground watercourse that wells up to water the ground.

47 tn Heb “his booth.”

48 tn The word actually means “to spread,” but with lightning as the object, “to scatter” appears to fit the context better.

49 tn The word is “light,” but taken to mean “lightning.” Theodotion had “mist” here, and so most commentators follow that because it is more appropriate to the verb and the context.

50 tn Heb “roots.”

51 tn The verb is יָדִין (yadin, “he judges”). Houbigant proposedיָזוּן (yazun, “he nourishes”). This has found wide acceptance among commentators (cf. NAB). G. R. Driver retained the MT but gave a meaning “enriches” to the verb (“Problems in the Hebrew text of Job,” VTSup 3 [1955]: 88ff.).

52 tn R. Gordis (Job, 422) prefers to link this word with the later Hebrew word for “arch,” not “hands.”

53 tn Because the image might mean that God grabs the lightning and hurls it like a javelin (cf. NLT), some commentators want to change “covers” to other verbs. Dhorme has “lifts” (נִשָּׂא [nissa’] for כִּסָּה [kissah]). This fit the idea of God directing the lightning bolts.

54 tn Peake knew of over thirty interpretations for this verse. The MT literally says, “He declares his purpose [or his shout] concerning it; cattle also concerning what rises.” Dhorme has it: “The flock which sniffs the coming storm has warned the shepherd.” Kissane: “The thunder declares concerning him, as he excites wrath against iniquity.” Gordis translates it: “His thunderclap proclaims his presence, and the storm his mighty wrath.” Many more could be added to the list.

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