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Job 23:3-7


23:3 O that I knew 1  where I might find him, 2 

that I could come 3  to his place of residence! 4 

23:4 I would lay out my case 5  before him

and fill my mouth with arguments.

23:5 I would know with what words 6  he would answer me,

and understand what he would say to me.

23:6 Would he contend 7  with me with great power?

No, he would only pay attention to me. 8 

23:7 There 9  an upright person

could present his case 10  before him,

and I would be delivered forever from my judge.

1 tn The optative here is again expressed with the verbal clause, “who will give [that] I knew….”

2 tn The form in Hebrew is וְאֶמְצָאֵהוּ (vÿemtsaehu), simply “and I will find him.” But in the optative clause this verb is subordinated to the preceding verb: “O that I knew where [and] I might find him.” It is not unusual to have the perfect verb followed by the imperfect in such coordinate clauses (see GKC 386 §120.e). This could also be translated making the second verb a complementary infinitive: “knew how to find him.”

sn H. H. Rowley (Job [NCBC], 159) quotes Strahan without reference: “It is the chief distinction between Job and his friends that he desires to meet God and they do not.”

3 tn This verb also depends on מִי־יִתֵּן (mi-yitten, “who will give”) of the first part, forming an additional clause in the wish formula.

4 tn Or “his place of judgment.” The word is from כּוּן (kun, “to prepare; to arrange”) in the Polel and the Hiphil conjugations. The noun refers to a prepared place, a throne, a seat, or a sanctuary. A. B. Davidson (Job, 169) and others take the word to mean “judgment seat” or “tribunal” in this context.

5 tn The word מִשְׁפָּט (mishpat) is normally “judgment; decision.” But in these contexts it refers to the legal case that Job will bring before God. With the verb עָרַךְ (’arakh, “to set in order; to lay out”) the whole image of drawing up a lawsuit is complete.

6 tn Heb “the words he would answer me.”

7 tn The verb is now רִיב (riv) and not יָכַח (yakhakh, “contend”); רִיב (riv) means “to quarrel; to dispute; to contend,” often in a legal context. Here it is still part of Job’s questioning about this hypothetical meeting – would God contend with all his power?

8 tn The verbal clause יָשִׂם בִּי (yasim bi) has been translated “he would pay [attention] to me.” Job is saying that God will not need all his power – he will just have pay attention to Job’s complaint. Job does not need the display of power – he just wants a hearing.

9 tn The adverb “there” has the sense of “then” – there in the future.

10 tn The form of the verb is the Niphal נוֹכָח (nokkakh, “argue, present a case”). E. Dhorme (Job, 346) is troubled by this verbal form and so changes it and other things in the line to say, “he would observe the upright man who argues with him.” The Niphal is used for “engaging discussion,” “arguing a case,” and “settling a dispute.”

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