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Job: Chapter 13

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1“Look, my eye has seen all this, my ear has heard and understood it.

2

What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. 3 But I would speak to the Almighty, d Heb him and I desire to argue my case with God. 4 As for you, you whitewash with lies; all of you are worthless physicians. 5 If you would only keep silent, that would be your wisdom! 6 Hear now my reasoning, and listen to the pleadings of my lips. 7 Will you speak falsely for God, and speak deceitfully for him? 8 Will you show partiality toward him, will you plead the case for God? 9 Will it be well with you when he searches you out? Or can you deceive him, as one person deceives another? 10 He will surely rebuke you if in secret you show partiality. 11 Will not his majesty terrify you, and the dread of him fall upon you? 12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes, your defenses are defenses of clay.

13

“Let me have silence, and I will speak, and let come on me what may. 14 I will take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in my hand. a Heb adds of the people 15 See, he will kill me; I have no hope; b Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai but I will defend my ways to his face. 16 This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before him. 17 Listen carefully to my words, and let my declaration be in your ears. 18 I have indeed prepared my case; I know that I shall be vindicated. 19 Who is there that will contend with me? For then I would be silent and die. 20 Only grant two things to me, then I will not hide myself from your face: 21 withdraw your hand far from me, and do not let dread of you terrify me. 22 Then call, and I will answer; or let me speak, and you reply to me. 23 How many are my iniquities and my sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. 24 Why do you hide your face, and count me as your enemy? 25 Will you frighten a windblown leaf and pursue dry chaff‐? 26 For you write bitter things against me, and make me reap c Gk: Heb Why should I take … in my hand? the iniquities of my youth. 27 You put my feet in the stocks, and watch all my paths; you set a bound to the soles of my feet. 28 One wastes away like a rotten thing, like a garment that is moth‐eaten.

Notes:

b Heb him

c Heb adds of the people

d Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai

a Gk: Heb Why should I take … in my hand?

Text Commentary view alone
Commentary spanning earlier chapters

1.1–2.13 : The prologue.

The opening narrative is structured according to a series of five scenes ( 1.1–5, 6–12, 13–22; 2.1–6, 7–13 ), which alternate between earth and heaven.

1.1–5 :

The style with its evocation of a setting long ago and far away, its idealized hero, and its fondness for round numbers that add up to multiples of ten, gives the story the air of a folk or fairy tale.

1 :

The land of Uz is probably just south of Edom, in northern Arabia (see Gen 36.28; Jer 25.20; Lam 4.21; 1 Chr 2.42 ; and the Greek text of Job 42.17 ). Job's personal name, attested in various texts from the second millennium BCE, etymologically means “Where is the Father?” (a reference to God). The form in Hebrew may, however, be taken to mean “one who is treated as an enemy” (see 13.24 ).

5 :

Cursed, the Heb text actually has the word “blessed” here, apparently as a euphemism or pious scribal correction (so also in 1.11; ">2.5,9 ). The same euphemism occurs in 1 Kings 21.13 .

6–12 :

The scene is a meeting of the council of heavenly beings presided over by the LORD (cf. 1 Kings 22.19–22; Job 15.8; Ps 82.1; 89.7; Jer 23.18 ). In the book of Job, Satan is not yet the personal name of the devil, as in later Jewish and Christian literature. Rather, the Hebrew (with the definite article) simply means “the adversary” or “the accuser” (see textual note b), a reference to one of the members of the divine council who served as a sort of independent prosecutor (cf. Zech 3.1 ). The accuser suggests that Job's piety may have been bought with divine protection and provision.

15 :

Sabeans, Arabian nomads.

16 :

Fire of God, cf. Gen 19.24; Num 11.1; 16.35; 2 Kings 1.10–12 .

17 :

Chaldeans, NeoBabylonians from southern Mesopotamia.

19 :

Wind, cf. 27.20–23 .

20 :

The traditional acts of mourning; see 2.12; Gen 37.34; 2 Sam 13.31; Jer 16.6 .

22 :

In this traditional saying (see also Eccl 5.15; Sir 40.1 ), the womb from which one comes is one's mother; that to which one returns is probably a metaphor for the earth (cf. Gen 3.19 ).

2.1–6 :

These verses describe a second gathering of the divine council in heaven, including a second encounter between the heavenly prosecutor and the LORD.

4 :

Skin for skin, an idiom perhaps derived from barter trade, expressing willingness to trade up to an equivalent value; anything offered beyond that maximum value would be a loss. The prosecutor's argument is that Job is willing to remain faithful up to a point, indeed, to leave the world “naked” just as he came ( 1.21 ). If Job's own body were harmed, however, he would respond differently.

7 :

Job is afflicted with a painful skin affliction, which could have been viewed as evidence of divine judgment (see Deut 28.35 ).

8 :

Sat among the ashes, another expression of grief; see Ezek 27.30; Jon 3.6 .

10 :

The term foolish woman perhaps implies that her talk is like that of an unbeliever (see Ps 14.153.2; 39.8; 74.22 ). Despite Job's refusal to curse God directly, the narrator notes only that Job did not sin with his lips, a provocative statement in light of the simpler conclusion in 1.21 that he did not sin.

11 :

Eliphaz the Temanite, Teman is probably somewhere in Edom or north Arabia, as is the home of Bildad the Shuhite (see Gen 25.1–2 ). Zophar the Naamathite is possibly a Sabean (see 1.15n. ).

12 :

See 1.20n.; 2.8n. Dust … upon their heads, another act of mourning; see Josh 7.6; Lam 2.10 .

13 :

Seven days, see Gen 50.10; Sir 22.12 .

12.1–14.22 : Job's response.

Job addresses first his friends ( 12.1–13.19 ), then God (13.20–14.22).

12.2 :

In this bitter sarcasm, Job implies that his friends are effectively killing wisdom.

4 :

The Heb text is difficult and may be misleadingly translated. Apart from the first I am, all the other firstperson references in this verse are either thirdperson in the Hebrew or completely absent. The passage lists the names that Job's mockers use of him: “a laughing stock to his friends,” “one who calls on God and he answered him,” “a just and blameless man,” “a laughing stock.”

6 :

The last phrase, who bring their god in their hands, may be better translated as “those whom God brings by his hand.” The point is that the wicked seem to be favored by God. The hand of God here anticipates the mention of the deity's hand in vv. 9–10 .

7–9 :

Zophar wishes for the mysteries of wisdom to be revealed to Job (11.6), but Job points out that nature already reveals that God is the one responsible for what is happening (cf. Isa 41.20 ). Here is the only place in the poetic dialogues where the deity is called by the name the Lord.

14–25 :

A parody of a hymn. Compare 21a and 24b with Ps 107.40 . see also Isa 44.24–28; Dan 2.20–23 .

13.1–12 :

Job wants to bring his case directly to God. Several expressions in vv. 6–8 suggest legal terminology (e.g. pleadings, speak falsely, plead the case).

13–19 :

In contrast to his friends, Job would risk his life in speaking honestly about God. Here, too, his language contains legal expressions (vv. 17–19 ).

15 :

The traditional translation of the verse (see note b) is based on an alternate reading of the Hebrew.

20 :

Job begins to address God, appealing to God to let him make his case without intimidation.

24 :

Enemy, see 1.1n.

26 :

The bitter things written against Job perhaps refer to aspects of his sentence, which he deduces to have been written on account of offenses he committed as a youth (cf. Ps 25.7 ).

14.1 :

The expression born of woman is simply a synonym for any human being (see 15.14 ). Nothing is implied about the weakness or impurity of womanhood.

2 :

Cf. Ps 103.15–16; Isa 40.6–8 .

7–10 :

Job contests the traditional analogy between the regenerative power of plants and human beings (cf. Ps 1.3; 92.12–15; Jer 17.7–8 ).

11 :

When lakes and rivers “die” as a result of geological disturbances, they remain dry forever.

13 :

Since “those who go down to Sheol [the abode of the dead] do not come up” ( 7.9 ), Job is here apparently imagining that God could somehow hide him alive in Sheol until God's anger subsided.

16 :

Instead of you would not number my steps, one should read with the Heb text, “you number my steps.” God would pay close attention to Job's steps, but not observe Job's sins.

18–20 :

Hope is likened to a mountain that has been eroded by none other than God.

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