Job 5:1-5

5:1 “Call now! Is there anyone who will answer you?

To which of the holy ones will you turn?

5:2 For wrath kills the foolish person,

and anger slays the silly one.

5:3 I myself have seen the fool taking root,

but suddenly I cursed his place of residence. 10 

5:4 His children are far 11  from safety,

and they are crushed 12  at the place where judgment is rendered, 13 

nor is there anyone to deliver them. 14 

5:5 The hungry 15  eat up his harvest, 16 

and take it even from behind the thorns, 17 

and the thirsty 18  swallow up 19  their fortune. 20 

tn Some commentators transpose this verse with the following paragraph, placing it after v. 7 (see E. Dhorme, Job, 62). But the reasons for this are based on the perceived development of the argument and are not that compelling.

sn The imperative is here a challenge for Job. If he makes his appeal against God, who is there who will listen? The rhetorical questions are intended to indicate that no one will respond, not even the angels. Job would do better to realize that he is guilty and his only hope is in God.

tn The participle with the suffix could be given a more immediate translation to accompany the imperative: “Call now! Is anyone listening to you?”

tn The LXX has rendered “holy ones” as “holy angels” (cf. TEV, CEV, NLT). The LXX has interpreted the verb in the colon too freely: “if you will see.”

sn The point being made is that the angels do not represent the cries of people to God as if mediating for them. But if Job appealed to any of them to take his case against God, there would be no response whatsoever for that.

tn One of the reasons that commentators transpose v. 1 is that the כִּי (ki, “for”) here seems to follow 4:21 better. If people die without wisdom, it is folly that kills them. But the verse also makes sense after 5:1. He is saying that complaining against God will not bring deliverance (v. 1), but rather, by such impatience the fool will bring greater calamity on himself.

tn The two words for “foolish person” are common in wisdom literature. The first, אֱוִיל (’evil), is the fool who is a senseless person; the פֹּתֶה (poteh) is the naive and silly person, the simpleton, the one who is easily led astray. The direct object is introduced with the preposition ל (lamed) in this verse (see GKC 366 §117.n).

tn The two parallel nouns are similar; their related verbs are also paralleled in Deut 32:16 with the idea of “vex” and “irritate.” The first word כַּעַשׂ (kaas) refers to the inner irritation and anger one feels, whereas the second word קִנְאָה (qinah) refers to the outward expression of the anger. In Job 6:2, Job will respond “O that my impatience [kaas] were weighed….”

tn The use of the pronoun here adds emphasis to the subject of the sentence (see GKC 437 §135.a).

tn This word is אֱוִיל (’evil), the same word for the “senseless man” in the preceding verse. Eliphaz is citing an example of his principle just given – he saw such a fool for a brief while appearing to prosper (i.e., taking root).

10 tn A. B. Davidson argues that the verse does not mean that Eliphaz cursed his place during his prosperity. This line is metonymical (giving the effect). God judged the fool and his place was ruined; consequently, Eliphaz pronounced it accursed of God (see A. B. Davidson, Job, 36). Many emend the verb slightly to read “and it was suddenly cursed” (וַיֻּכַב [vayyukhav] instead of וָאֶקּוֹב [vaeqqov]; see H. H. Rowley, Job [NCBC], 51).

11 tn The imperfect verbs in this verse describe the condition of the accursed situation. Some commentators follow the LXX and take these as jussives, making this verse the curse that the man pronounced upon the fool. Rashi adds “This is the malediction with which I have cursed him.” That would make the speaker the one calling down the judgment on the fool rather than responding by observation how God destroyed the habitation of the fool.

12 tn The verb יִדַּכְּאוּ (yiddakkÿu) could be taken as the passive voice, or in the reciprocal sense (“crush one another”) or reflexive (“crush themselves”). The context favors the idea that the children of the foolish person will be destroyed because there is no one who will deliver them.

13 tn Heb “in the gate.” The city gate was the place of both business and justice. The sense here seems to fit the usage of gates as the place of legal disputes, so the phrase “at the place of judgment” has been used in the translation.

14 tn The text simply says “and there is no deliverer.” The entire clause could be subordinated to the preceding clause, and rendered simply “without a deliverer.”

15 sn The hungry are other people, possibly the hungry poor to whom the wealthy have refused to give bread (22:7). The sons are so helpless that even the poor take their property.

16 tn The MT reads “whose harvest the hungry eat up.” Some commentators want to follow the LXX and repoint קְצִירוֹ (qÿtsiro, “his harvest”) to קָצְרוּ (qatsÿru, “[what] they have reaped”; cf. NAB). The reference as it stands in the MT seems to be to the image of taking root in v. 3; whatever took root – the prosperity of his life – will not belong to him or his sons to enjoy. If the emendation is accepted, then the reference would be immediately to the “sons” in the preceding verse.

17 tn The line is difficult; the Hebrew text reads literally “and unto from thorns he takes it.” The idea seems to be that even from within an enclosed hedge of thorns other people will take the harvest. Many commentators either delete the line altogether or try to repoint it to make more sense out of it. G. R. Driver had taken the preposition אֶל (’el, “towards”) as the noun אֵל (’el, “strong man”) and the noun צִנִּים (tsinnim, “thorns”) connected to Aramaic צִנָּה (tsinnah, “basket”); he read it as “a strong man snatches it from the baskets” (G. R. Driver, “on Job 5:5,” TZ 12 [1956]: 485-86). E. Dhorme (Job, 60) changed the word slightly to מַצְפֻּנִים (matspunim, “hiding places”), instead of מִצִּנִּים (mitsinnim, “out of the thorns”), to get the translation “and unto hiding places he carries it.” This fits the use of the verb לָקַח (laqakh, “to take”) with the preposition אֶל (’el, “towards”) meaning “carry to” someplace. There seems to be no easy solution to the difficulty of the line.

18 tn The word צַמִּים (tsammim) has been traditionally rendered “robbers.” But it has been connected by some of the ancient versions to the word for “thirst,” making a nice parallel with “hungry.” This would likely be pointed צְמֵאִים (tsÿmeim).

19 tn The verb has been given many different renderings, some more radical than others: “engulf,” “draws,” “gather,” “swallow” (see H. H. Rowley, Job [NCBC], 53). The idea of “swallow” is found in Job 20:15. The general sense of the line is clear, in spite of the difficulties of determining the exact meaning of the verb.

20 tn The LXX has several variations for the line. It reads something like the following: “for what they have collected the just shall eat, but they shall not be delivered out of calamities; let their strength be utterly exhausted.” The LXX may have gotten the idea of the “righteous” as those who suffer from hunger. Instead of “thorns” the LXX has the idea of “trouble.” The Targum to Job interprets it with “shield” and adds “warriors” as the subject.