Job 34


וַיַּעַן אֱלִיהוּא וַיֹּאמַר׃   34:1

Job 34:1   Elihu answered still, and he said,

שִׁמְעוּ חֲכָמִים מִלָּי וְיֹדְעִים הַאֲזִינוּ לִי׃   34:2

Job 34:2   “Wise men, hear my words,

                             and you who know, listen to me.”

כִּי־אֹזֶן מִלִּין תִּבְחָן וְחֵךְ יִטְעַם לֶאֱכֹל׃   34:3

Job 34:3   “For the ear can examine words,

                             as the palate can test food's taste.”

מִשְׁפָּט נִבְחֲרָה־לָּנוּ נֵדְעָה בֵינֵינוּ מַה־טּוֹב׃   34:4

Job 34:4   “We must choose right for ourselves,

                             we must distinguish among us what is good.”

כִּי־אָמַר אִיּוֹב צָדַקְתִּי וְאֵל הֵסִיר מִשְׁפָּטִי׃   34:5

Job 34:5   “For Job has said, 'I am righteous,

                             but God has put aside my cause.'”

עַל־מִשְׁפָּטִי אֲכַזֵּב אָנוּשׁ חִצִּי בְלִי־פָשַׁע׃   34:6

Job 34:6   “'About my cause, I would be made a liar:

                             My dart is woeful, without transgression.'”

The second line of this verse is difficult to translate.  Others have added words to the Hebrew to make sense of it.  I believe the verse means that Job’s cause (his dart) is woeful but without transgression.  On top of that, he is being called a liar.

מִי־גֶבֶר כְּאִיּוֹב יִשְׁתֶּה־לַּעַג כַּמָּיִם׃   34:7

Job 34:7   “Who is a man like Job?

                             He can drink up derision like water,

וְאָרַח לְחֶבְרָה עִם־פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן וְלָלֶכֶת עִם־אַנְשֵׁי־רֶשַׁע׃   34:8

Job 34:8   yet he would go in company with workers of iniquity,

                             while walking with men of wickedness.”

כִּי־אָמַר לֹא יִסְכָּן־גָּבֶר בִּרְצֹתוֹ עִם־אֱלֹהִים׃   34:9

Job 34:9   “For he has said, 'A man cannot profit in his seeking favor with God.'”

לָכֵן אַנֲשֵׁי לֵבָב שִׁמְעוּ לִי חָלִלָה לָאֵל מֵרֶשַׁע וְשַׁדַּי מֵעָוֶל׃   34:10

Job 34:10   “Therefore, men of understanding, listen to me;

                             Far be it from God to be wicked,

                      or the Almighty to commit iniquity!”

כִּי פֹעַל אָדָם יְשַׁלֶּם־לוֹ וּכְאֹרַח אִישׁ יַמְצִאֶנּוּ׃   34:11

Job 34:11   “For of the work of a human being He must repay to him,

                             and according to the way of each He must find him.”

אַף־אָמְנָם אֵל לֹא־יַרְשִׁיעַ וְשַׁדַּי לֹא־יְעַוֵּת מִשְׁפָּט׃   34:12

Job 34:12  “Indeed, truly God would not act wickedly,

                             nor the Almighty pervert justice.”

מִי־פָקַד עָלָיו אָרְצָה וּמִי שָׂם תֵּבֵל כֻּלָּהּ׃   34:13

Job 34:13   “Who attends beside Him to the earth,

                             and who established the world, all of it?”

אִם־יָשִׂים אֵלָיו לִבּוֹ רוּחוֹ וְנִשְׁמָתוֹ אֵלָיו יֶאֱסֹף׃   34:14

Job 34:14   “Were He to direct His 'heart' to Himself,

                             to gather His spirit and His 'breath' to Himself,

יִגְוַע כָּל־בָּשָׂר יָחַד וְאָדָם עַל־עָפָר יָשׁוּב׃   34:15

Job 34:15   all flesh would perish alike,

                             and humankind would return to dust.”

וְאִם־בִּינָה שִׁמְעָה־זֹּאת הַאֲזִינָה לְקוֹל מִלָּי׃   34:16

Job 34:16   “So if there is understanding, hear this,

                             listen to the sound of my words.”

הַאַף שׂוֹנֵא מִשְׁפָּט יַחֲבוֹשׁ וְאִם־צַדִּיק כַּבִּיר תַּרְשִׁיעַ׃   34:17

Job 34:17   “Indeed, shall a Hater of justice govern?

                             And would you condemn One of mighty righteousness?”

הַאֲמֹר לְמֶלֶךְ בְּלִיָּעַל רָשָׁע אֶל־נְדִיבִים׃   34:18

Job 34:18   “Does one say to a king,

                             'Base fellow,' 'Wicked,' to nobles?”

אֲשֶׁר לֹא־נָשָׂא ׀ פְּנֵי שָׂרִים וְלֹא נִכַּר־שֹׁועַ לִפְנֵי־דָל כִּי־מַעֲשֵׂה יָדָיו כֻּלָּם׃   34:19

Job 34:19   “He Who does not exalt the persons of princes

                             nor regards rich before poor,

                      because all of them are the work of His hands?”

רֶגַע יָמֻתוּ וַחֲצוֹת לָיְלָה יְגֹעֲשׁוּ עָם וְיַעֲבֹרוּ וְיָסִירוּ אַבִּיר לֹא בְיָד׃   34:20

Job 34:20   “In a moment they will die,

                             as in the middle of the night people would be convulsed and pass away,

                      and the mighty are taken away without monument.”

כִּי־עֵינָיו עַל־דַּרְכֵי־אִישׁ וְכָל־צְעָדָיו יִרְאֶה׃   34:21

Job 34:21   “For His eyes are on the ways of each one,

                             and He can see all his steps.”

אֵין־חֹשֶׁךְ וְאֵין צַלְמָוֶת לְהִסָּתֶר ם פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן׃   34:22

Job 34:22   “There is no darkness or shadow of death

                             for workers of iniquity to hide there.”

כִּי לֹא עַל־אִישׁ יָשִׂים עוֹד לַהֲלֹךְ אֶל־אֵל בַּמִּשְׁפָּט׃   34:23

Job 34:23   “But He would never appoint for anyone

                             to come to God in judgment.”

This verse appears to be unintelligible and seems to contradict other statements of Elihu.  So famous sages and commentators have offered their interpretation.  For one, the great Rashi considered the preceding verse and the following one and suggested that the words that would be normally translated as never appoint should be thought of as not consider further.  While this translation ignores some of the Hebrew, it is consistent with the verses surrounding this one.  And that translation has been adopted by almost all other translators, Christian and Jew alike.

יָרֹעַ כַּבִּירִים לֹא־חֵקֶר וַיַּעֲמֵד אֲחֵרִים תַּחְתָּם׃   34:24

Job 34:24   “He can break asunder the mighty without investigation,

                             and others would remain instead of them.”

לָכֵן יַכִּיר מַעְבָּדֵיהֶם וְהָפַךְ לַיְלָה וְיִדַּכָּאוּ׃   34:25

Job 34:25   “Therefore He would observe their works,

                             and overturn at night, that they would be crushed.”

תַּחַת־רְשָׁעִים סְפָקָם בִּמְקוֹם רֹאִים׃   34:26

Job 34:26   “He strikes them instead of the wicked,

                             instead of those perceiving,

Is Elihu saying that God has something special against the mighty, that He would strike them instead of the wicked?  Hardly likely!  Then what does this verse mean?  All other translators with whom I’m familiar have convoluted the Hebrew to make the translation come out as something like “He strikes them for their wickedness in a place for all to see.”  While this translation seems consistent with the general thrust of this chapter, it has little to do with the Hebrew.  As I see it, Elihu is reinforcing his view that God is arbitrary in His judgment, choosing who is to receive recompense, and why and when.

אֲשֶׁר עַל־כֵּן סָרוּ מֵאַחֲרָיו וְכָל־דְּרָכָיו לֹא הִשְׂכִּילוּ׃   34:27

Job 34:27   who because they strayed from following Him,

                             and did not comprehend any of His ways,

לְהָבִיא עָלָיו צַעֲקַת־דָּל וְצַעֲקַת עֲנִיִּים יִשְׁמָע׃   34:28

Job 34:28   causing the cry of the poor one to come to Him,

                             and He could hear the outcry of the afflicted.”

וְהוּא יַשְׁקִט וּמִי יַרְשִׁעַ וְיַסְתֵּר פָּנִים וּמִי יְשׁוּרֶנּוּ וְעַל־גּוֹי וְעַל־אָדָם יָחַד׃   34:29

Job 34:29   “Or He can make tranquil, and who would condemn?

                             Or He conceals 'face,' and who could behold Him?

                      And because of nation or because of humanity alike!”

Again Elihu seems to be offering his opinion that God’s decisions are arbitrary.

מִמְּלֹךְ אָדָם חָנֵף מִמֹּקְשֵׁי עָם׃   34:30

Job 34:30   “A godless human more than a king,

                             or more than ensnarers of people!”

כִּי־אֶל־אֵל הֶאָמַר נָשָׂאתִי לֹא אֶחְבֹּל׃   34:31

Job 34:31   “For to God is it said,

                             'I am exalted; I will not offend?'”

בִּלְעֲדֵי אֶחֱזֶה אַתָּה הֹרֵנִי אִם־עָוֶל פָּעַלְתִּי לֹא אֹסִיף׃   34:32

Job 34:32   “'What I cannot see, you teach me.

                             If I do an injustice, I will not continue.'”

הַמֵעִמְּךָ יְשַׁלְמֶנָּה כִּי־מָאַסְתָּ כִּי־אַתָּה תִבְחַר וְלֹא־אָנִי וּמַה־יָדַעְתָּ דַבֵּר׃   34:33

Job 34:33   “Shall He make His recompense, which you hate, according to you?

                             For you must choose, and not I.  So what you know, speak.”

אַנְשֵׁי לֵבָב יֹאמְרוּ לִי וְגֶבֶר חָכָם שֹׁמֵעַ לִי׃   34:34

Job 34:34   “Men of understanding would say to me,

                             and the wise man listening to me,”

אִיּוֹב לֹא־בְדַעַת יְדַבֵּר וּדְבָרָיו לֹא בְהַשְׂכֵּיל׃   34:35

Job 34:35   “'Job would speak with no perception,

                             and his words would be with no comprehension.'”

אָבִי יִבָּחֵן אִיּוֹב עַד־נֶצַח עַל־תְּשֻׁבֹת בְּאַנְשֵׁי־אָוֶן׃   34:36

Job 34:36   “Would that Job would be tried forever,

                             because of the answers being by men of iniquity.”

כִּי יֹסִיף עַל־חַטָּאתוֹ פֶשַׁע בֵּינֵינוּ יִסְפּוֹק וְיֶרֶב אֲמָרָיו לָאֵל׃   34:37

Job 34:37   “For he would add rebellion to his sin;

                             he would clap in our midst that he could multiply his words to God.”

As you can see, Elihu continues his condemnation of Job, accusing him of sins similar to the accusations of the other three.  But he seems to be unwilling to own the words of these last three verses, because he attributes them in v. 34 above to wise men other than himself, yet he is actually saying them.  And he also unapologetically adds his “wisdom” and “knowledge” of God throughout his speech.  As before he describes God as just but arbitrary, choosing His own time and place to bring anyone to judgment.  Moreover, to question Him is sinful.


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