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Job 12:13-16

Context

12:13 “With God 1  are wisdom and power;

counsel and understanding are his. 2 

12:14 If 3  he tears down, it cannot be rebuilt;

if he imprisons a person, there is no escape. 4 

12:15 If he holds back the waters, then they dry up; 5 

if he releases them, 6  they destroy 7  the land.

12:16 With him are strength and prudence; 8 

both the one who goes astray 9 

and the one who misleads are his.

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

2 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.”

3 tn The use of הֵן (hen, equivalent to הִנֵּה, hinneh, “behold”) introduces a hypothetical condition.

4 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.

5 tc The LXX has a clarification: “he will dry the earth.”

6 sn The verse is focusing on the two extremes of drought and flood. Both are described as being under the power of God.

7 tn The verb הָפַךְ (hafakh) means “to overthrow; to destroy; to overwhelm.” It was used in Job 9:5 for “overturning” mountains. The word is used in Genesis for the destruction of Sodom.

8 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.

9 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.



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