21:1 Then Job answered:
put your hands over your mouths. 14
and my body feels a shudder. 17
grow old, 19 even increase in power?
in their presence, 21
their offspring before their eyes.
their cows calve and do not miscarry.
their little ones dance about.
and make merry to the sound of the flute.
21:14 So they say to God, ‘Turn away from us!
What would we gain
The counsel of the wicked is far from me! 40
How often does their 42 misfortune come upon them?
and like chaff swept away 46 by a whirlwind?
so that 52 he may know it!
let him drink of the anger of the Almighty.
after his death, 55
when the number of his months
has been broken off? 56
completely secure and prosperous,
and the marrow of his bones moist. 63
never having tasted 66 anything good.
21:26 Together they lie down in the dust,
and worms cover over them both.
21:28 For you say,
‘Where now is the nobleman’s house, 70
and where are the tents in which the wicked lived?’ 71
21:29 Have you never questioned those who travel the roads?
Do you not recognize their accounts 72 –
21:30 that the evil man is spared
from the day of his misfortune,
that he is delivered 73
from the day of God’s wrath?
21:31 No one denounces his conduct to his face;
21:32 And when he is carried to the tombs,
behind him everybody follows in procession,
and before him goes a countless throng.
21:34 So how can you console me with your futile words?
Nothing is left of your answers but deception!” 79
[21:1] 1 sn In this chapter Job actually answers the ideas of all three of his friends. Here Job finds the flaw in their argument – he can point to wicked people who prosper. But whereas in the last speech, when he looked on his suffering from the perspective of his innocence, he found great faith and hope, in this chapter when he surveys the divine government of the world, he sinks to despair. The speech can be divided into five parts: he appeals for a hearing (2-6), he points out the prosperity of the wicked (7-16), he wonders exactly when the godless suffer (17-22), he shows how death levels everything (23-26), and he reveals how experience contradicts his friends’ argument (27-34).
[21:2] 4 tn The word תַּנְחוּמֹתֵיכֶם (tankhumotekhem) is literally “your consolations,” the suffix being a subjective genitive. The friends had thought they were offering Job consolation (Job 14:11), but the consolation he wants from them is that they listen to him and respond accordingly.
[21:3] 8 tn The verb is the imperfect of לָעַג (la’ag). The Hiphil has the same basic sense as the Qal, “to mock; to deride.” The imperfect here would be modal, expressing permission. The verb is in the singular, suggesting that Job is addressing Zophar; however, most of the versions put it into the plural. Note the singular in 16:3 between the plural in 16:1 and 16:4.
[21:4] 10 sn The point seems to be that if his complaint were merely against men he might expect sympathy from other men; but no one dares offer him sympathy when his complaint is against God. So he will give free expression to his spirit (H. H. Rowley, Job [NCBC], 147).
[21:5] 13 tn The verb פְּנוּ (pÿnu) is from the verb “to turn,” related to the word for “face.” In calling for them to turn toward him, he is calling for them to look at him. But here it may be more in the sense of their attention rather than just a looking at him.
[21:6] 17 tn Some commentators take “shudder” to be the subject of the verb, “a shudder seizes my body.” But the word is feminine (and see the usage, especially in Job 9:6 and 18:20). It is the subject in Isa 21:4; Ps 55:6; and Ezek 7:18.
[21:7] 18 sn A. B. Davidson (Job, 154) clarifies that Job’s question is of a universal scope. In the government of God, why do the wicked exist at all? The verb could be translated “continue to live.”
[21:7] 19 tn The verb עָתַק (’ataq) means “to move; to proceed; to advance.” Here it is “to advance in years” or “to grow old.” This clause could serve as an independent clause, a separate sentence; but it more likely continues the question of the first colon and is parallel to the verb “live.”
[21:8] 21 tn The text uses לִפְנֵיהֶם עִמָּם (lifnehem ’immam, “before them, with them”). Many editors think that these were alternative readings, and so omit one or the other. Dhorme moved עִמָּם (’immam) to the second half of the verse and emended it to read עֹמְדִים (’omÿdim, “abide”). Kissane and Gordis changed only the vowels and came up with עַמָּם (’ammam, “their kinfolk”). But Gordis thinks the presence of both of them in the line is evidence of a conflated reading (p. 229).
[21:9] 23 tn The form מִפָּחַד (mippakhad) is translated “without fear,” literally “from fear”; the preposition is similar to the alpha privative in Greek. The word “fear, dread” means nothing that causes fear or dread – they are peaceful, secure. See GKC 382 §119.w.
[21:10] 28 tn The use of the verb גָּעַר (ga’ar) in this place is interesting. It means “to rebuke; to abhor; to loathe.” In the causative stem it means “to occasion impurity” or “to reject as loathsome.” The rabbinic interpretation is that it does not emit semen in vain, and so the meaning is it does not fail to breed (see E. Dhorme, Job, 311; R. Gordis, Job, 229).
[21:11] 29 tn The verb שָׁלַח (shalakh) means “to send forth,” but in the Piel “to release; to allow to run free.” The picture of children frolicking in the fields and singing and dancing is symbolic of peaceful, prosperous times.
[21:13] 31 tc The Kethib has “they wear out” but the Qere and the versions have יְכַלּוּ (yÿkhallu, “bring to an end”). The verb כָּלָה (kalah) means “to finish; to complete,” and here with the object “their days,” it means that they bring their life to a (successful) conclusion. Both readings are acceptable in the context, with very little difference in the overall meaning (which according to Gordis is proof the Qere does not always correct the Kethib).
[21:13] 32 tc The MT has יֵחָתּוּ (yekhattu, “they are frightened [or broken]”), taking the verb from חָתַת (khatat, “be terrified”). But most would slightly repoint it to יֵחָתוּ (yekhatu), an Aramaism, “they go down,” from נָחַת (nakhat, “go down”). See Job 17:16.
[21:13] 33 tn The word רֶגַע (rega’) has been interpreted as “in a moment” or “in peace” (on the basis of Arabic raja`a, “return to rest”). Gordis thinks this is a case of talhin – both meanings present in the mind of the writer.
[21:16] sn The implication of this statement is that their well-being is from God, which is the problem Job is raising in the chapter. A number of commentators make it a question, interpreting it to mean that the wicked enjoy prosperity as if it is their right. Some emend the text to say “his hands” – Gordis reads it, “Indeed, our prosperity is not in his hands.”
[21:17] 42 tn The pronominal suffix is objective; it re-enforces the object of the preposition, “upon them.” The verb in the clause is בּוֹא (bo’) followed by עַל (’al), “come upon [or against],” may be interpreted as meaning attack or strike.
[21:17] 43 tn חֲבָלִים (khavalim) can mean “ropes” or “cords,” but that would not go with the verb “apportion” in this line. The meaning of “pangs (as in “birth-pangs”) seems to fit best here. The wider meaning would be “physical agony.”
[21:19] 47 tn These words are supplied. The verse records an idea that Job suspected they might have, namely, that if the wicked die well God will make their children pay for the sins (see Job 5:4; 20:10; as well as Exod 20:5).
[21:20] 53 tc This word occurs only here. The word כִּיד (kid) was connected to Arabic kaid, “fraud, trickery,” or “warfare.” The word is emended by the commentators to other ideas, such as פִּיד (pid, “[his] calamity”). Dahood and others alter it to “cup”; Wright to “weapons.” A. F. L. Beeston argues for a meaning “condemnation” for the MT form, and so makes no change in the text (Mus 67 : 315-16). If the connection to Arabic “warfare” is sustained, or if such explanations of the existing MT can be sustained, then the text need not be emended. In any case, the sense of the line is clear.
[21:21] 56 tc The rare word חֻצָּצוּ (khutsatsu) is probably a cognate of hassa in Arabic, meaning “to cut off.” There is also an Akkadian word “to cut in two” and “to break.” These fit the context here rather well. The other Hebrew words that are connected to the root חָצַצ (khatsats) do not offer any help.
[21:22] 59 tc The Hebrew has רָמִים (ramim), a plural masculine participle of רוּם (rum, “to be high; to be exalted”). This is probably a reference to the angels. But M. Dahood restores an older interpretation that it refers to “the Most High” (“Some Northwest Semitic words in Job,”Bib 38 : 316-17). He would take the word as a singular form with an enclitic mem (ם). He reads the verse, “will he judge the Most High?”
[21:23] 60 tn The line has “in the bone of his perfection.” The word עֶצֶם (’etsem), which means “bone,” is used pronominally to express “the same, very”; here it is “in the very fullness of his strength” (see GKC 449 §139.g). The abstract תֹּם (tom) is used here in the sense of physical perfection and strengths.
[21:24] 61 tn The verb עָטַן (’atan) has the precise meaning of “press olives.” But because here it says “full of milk,” the derived meaning for the noun has been made to mean “breasts” or “pails” (although in later Hebrew this word occurs – but with olives, not with milk). Dhorme takes it to refer to “his sides,” and repoints the word for “milk” (חָלָב, khalav) to get “fat” (חֶלֶב, khelev) – “his sides are full of fat,” a rendering followed by NASB. However, this weakens the parallelism.
[21:25] 65 tn The text literally has “and this [man] dies in soul of bitterness.” Some simply reverse it and translate “in the bitterness of soul.” The genitive “bitterness” may be an attribute adjective, “with a bitter soul.”
[21:27] 67 tn The word is “your thoughts.” The word for “thoughts” (from חָצַב [khatsav, “to think; to reckon; to plan”]) has more to do with their intent than their general thoughts. He knows that when they talked about the fate of the wicked they really were talking about him.
[21:29] tn The idea is that the merchants who travel widely will talk about what they have seen and heard. These travelers give a different account of the wicked; they tell how he is spared. E. Dhorme (Job, 322) interprets “signs” concretely: “Their custom was to write their names and their thoughts somewhere at the main cross-roads. The main roads of Sinai are dotted with these scribblings made by such passers of a day.”
[21:31] 75 tn Heb “Who declares his way to his face? // Who repays him for what he has done?” These rhetorical questions, which expect a negative answer (“No one!”) have been translated as indicative statements to bring out their force clearly.
[21:33] 78 tn The clods are those that are used to make a mound over the body. And, for a burial in the valley, see Deut 34:6. The verse here sees him as participating in his funeral and enjoying it. Nothing seems to go wrong with the wicked.