וַיַּעַן אִיּוֹב וַיֹּאמַר׃ 21:1
Job 21:1 Now Job responded, and he said,
שִׁמְעוּ שָׁמוֹעַ מִלָּתִי וּתְהִי־זֹאת תַּנְחוּמֹתֵיכֶם׃ 21:2
Job 21:2 “Listen intently to my speech,
that this may be your consolations.”
שָׂאוּנִי וְאָנֹכִי אֲדַבֵּר וְאַחַר דַּבְּרִי תַלְעִיג׃ 21:3
Job 21:3 “Bear with me and I will speak.
Then afterwards, you may deride my words.”
By now Job knows what to expect from his “friends” in their responses.
הֶאָנֹכִי לְאָדָם שִׂיחִי וְאִם־מַדּוּעַ לֹא־תִקְצַר רוּחִי׃ 21:4
Job 21:4 “Now I, is my complaint to humanity?
And why should my spirit not be impatient?”
I believe what Job means here is the following: He is not complaining to the friends, but to God. And he gets no answer, so his impatience is justified.
פְּנוּ־אֵלַי וְהָשַׁמּוּ וְשִׂימוּ יָד עַל־פֶּה׃ 21:5
Job 21:5 “Look at me and be appalled,
and set hand on mouth!”
Here he is saying, “Show the appropriate response for my miserable plight.”
וְאִם־זָכַרְתִּי וְנִבְהָלְתִּי וְאָחַז בְּשָׂרִי פַּלָּצוּת׃ 21:6
Job 21:6 “When I yet remember, I am terrified,
and horror seizes my flesh.”
מַדּוּעַ רְשָׁעִים יִחְיוּ עָתְקוּ גַּם־גָּבְרוּ חָיִל׃ 21:7
Job 21:7 “Why do the wicked exist?
They grow old -- indeed, they are of great power.”
Here is Job’s response to the friends, beginning in this verse and continuing to the end of the chapter. And he tells it like it is, reminding them of the reality they ignore so easily.
זַרְעָם נָכוֹן לִפְנֵיהֶם עִמָּם וְצֶאֱצָאֵיהֶם לְעֵינֵיהֶם׃ 21:8
Job 21:8 “Their seed is established before them, with them,
and their offspring for their eyes.”
בָּתֵּיהֶם שָׁלוֹם מִפָּחַד וְלֹא שֵׁבֶט אֱלוֹהַּ עֲלֵיהֶם׃ 21:9
Job 21:9 “Their houses are safe from dread,
and no rod of God is over them.”
שֹׁורֹו עִבַּר וְלֹא יַגְעִל תְּפַלֵּט פָּרָתֹו וְלֹא תְשַׁכֵּל׃ 21:10
Job 21:10 “One's bull impregnates and it would not reject.
One's cow can deliver and not lose a calf.”
יְשַׁלְּחוּ כַצֹּאן עֲוִילֵיהֶם וְיַלְדֵיהֶם יְרַקֵּדוּן׃ 21:11
Job 21:11 “They can send forth their young men like sheep,
and their children can dance about.”
יִשְׂאוּ כְּתֹף וְכִנּוֹר וְיִשְׂמְחוּ לְקוֹל עוּגָב׃ 21:12
Job 21:12 “They can exalt with timbrel and harp,
and rejoice to the sound of the flute.”
יְבַלּוּ) [יְכַלּוּ] בַטֹּוב יְמֵיהֶם וּבְרֶגַע שְׁאֹול יֵחָתּוּ׃ 21:13
Job 21:13 “They can enjoy their days in prosperity,
and with serenity descend into sheol.”
The “error” that appears to the right of the left parenthesis is not an error. The substitution in the brackets of the chaf for the beth is unnecessary, as the original word is easily translated as can enjoy. The substitution makes the word loosely translatable as can spend. A variation of the latter translation, ignoring the imperfect tense of the Hebrew, is to be found almost universally. In my opinion this is a case of monkey sees, monkey does.
וַיֹּאמְרוּ לָאֵל סוּר מִמֶּנּוּ וְדַעַת דְּרָכֶיךָ לֹא חָפָצְנוּ׃ 21:14
Job 21:14 “Yet they say to God, 'Depart from us,
as we do not delight in knowledge of Your ways.'”
מַה־שַׁדַּי כִּי־נַעַבְדֶנּוּ וּמַה־נּוֹעִיל כִּי נִפְגַּע־בּוֹ׃ 21:15
Job 21:15 “’What is the Almighty that we should serve Him?
And, what would be the gain if we were to make entreaty to Him?’”
הֵן לֹא בְיָדָם טוּבָם עֲצַת רְשָׁעִים רָחֲקָה מֶנִּי׃ 21:16
Job 21:16 “Lo, their prosperity is not by their hand.
The purpose of wickedness is far from me.”
Job agonizingly wrestles with the answer to this most important conundrum of life. The purpose of wickedness! My answer, as you may well know by now: The wicked are also the Almighty’s servants. They exhibit the dark side of free will as they fail God’s test of the world. They are at the same time a good example for us and they contribute to our own testing.
כַּמָּה נֵר־רְשָׁעִים יִדְעָךְ וְיָבֹא עָלֵימוֹ אֵידָם חֲבָלִים יְחַלֵּק בְּאַפּוֹ׃ 21:17
Job 21:17 “How often the lamp of the wicked might be extinguished?
Or their calamity come upon any of them?
Would He distribute pains in His 'anger?'”
יִהְיוּ כְּתֶבֶן לִפְנֵי־רוּחַ וּכְמֹץ גְּנָבַתּוּ סוּפָה׃ 21:18
Job 21:18 “Might be as stubble before a wind,
or as chaff that a storm steals away?”
אֱלוֹהַּ יִצְפֹּן־לְבָנָיו אוֹנוֹ יְשַׁלֵּם אֵלָיו וְיֵדָע׃ 21:19
Job 21:19 “Must God store up one's iniquity for his children?
Let Him make retribution to him, so he may know.”
יִרְאוּ (עֵינֹו) [עֵינָיו] כִּידֹו וּמֵחֲמַת שַׁדַּי יִשְׁתֶּה׃ 21:20
Job 21:20 “Let his eyes see his calamity,
and let him drink from the 'rage' of the Almighty.”
An error in the parentheses: The word, translated as his eyes, is singular, whereas it should be plural to reflect the number of its verb, translated as Let ... see, which is plural. The correction in the brackets adds a yad.
כִּי מַה־חֶפְצוֹ בְּבֵיתוֹ אַחֲרָיו וּמִסְפַּר חֳדָשָׁיו חֻצָּצוּ׃ 21:21
Job 21:21 “For what can his pleasure in his house be after him,
and the number of his months have been partitioned?”
הַלְאֵל יְלַמֶּד־דָּעַת וְהוּא רָמִים יִשְׁפּוֹט׃ 21:22
Job 21:22 “Can one teach knowledge to God?
But He can judge the lofty.
I suspect Job is casting aspersions at the responses of the friends with this question. I think he is accusing them of trying to teach God about the world.
זֶה יָמוּת בְּעֶצֶם תֻּמּוֹ כֻּלּוֹ שַׁלְאֲנַן וְשָׁלֵיו׃ 21:23
Job 21:23 “This one may die with his full strength,
all of him at ease and quiet;
עֲטִינָיו מָלְאוּ חָלָב וּמֹחַ עַצְמוֹתָיו יְשֻׁקֶּה׃ 21:24
Job 21:24 his pails are full of milk,
and the marrow of his bones might be moist.”
וְזֶה יָמוּת בְּנֶפֶשׁ מָרָה וְלֹא־אָכַל בַּטּוֹבָה׃ 21:25
Job 21:25 “And another may die with a bitter soul,
and had never eaten with happiness.”
יַחַד עַל־עָפָר יִשְׁכָּבוּ וְרִמָּה תְּכַסֶּה עֲלֵיהֶם׃ 21:26
Job 21:26 “They will lie down together in the dust
and worm will spread over them.”
הֵן יָדַעְתִּי מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵיכֶם וּמְזִמּוֹת עָלַי תַּחְמֹסוּ׃ 21:27
Job 21:27 “Behold, I know your thoughts,
and the devices you must wrongfully use against me,
כִּי תֹאמְרוּ אַיֵּה בֵית־נָדִיב וְאַיֵּה אֹהֶל מִשְׁכְּנוֹת רְשָׁעִים׃ 21:28
Job 21:28 when you would say, 'Where is the noble house?'
And, 'Where is the tent the wicked are inhabiting?'”
הֲלֹא שְׁאֶלְתֶּם עוֹבְרֵי דָרֶךְ וְאֹתֹתָם לֹא תְנַכֵּרוּ׃ 21:29
Job 21:29 “Have you not asked the traversers of the way?
And their proofs will you not respect?”
כִּי לְיוֹם אֵיד יֵחָשֶׂךְ רָע לְיוֹם עֲבָרוֹת יוּבָלוּ׃ 21:30
Job 21:30 “That to the day of calamity He might spare an evil one?
To the day of furies He might lead him?”
מִי־יַגִּיד עַל־פָּנָיו דַּרְכּוֹ וְהוּא־עָשָׂה מִי יְשַׁלֶּם־לוֹ׃ 21:31
Job 21:31 “Who would acknowledge his way to his face,
So has he done?
Who would make retribution to him?”
The general consensus among the sages and scholars is that this verse refers to God, not to the wicked person. I believe this is not so. My reasons? For one, the pronouns his and he in this verse seem to appropriately refer back to the last word in the preceding verse, the pronoun him, that is, the wicked one For another, if the reference is to God, I don’t see any connect between this verse and the next one.
וְהוּא לִקְבָרוֹת יוּבָל וְעַל־גָּדִישׁ יִשְׁקוֹד׃ 21:32
Job 21:32 “And he will be brought to the grave sites,
and over the tomb watch would be kept.”
מָתְקוּ־לוֹ רִגְבֵי נָחַל וְאַחֲרָיו כָּל־אָדָם יִמְשׁוֹךְ וּלְפָנָיו אֵין מִסְפָּר׃ 21:33
Job 21:33 “The clods of the valley are sweet to him.
So after him every one will be attracted,
and before him there was without number.”
This verse may refer to the wickedness in the world. Wickedness was sweet to its practitioner who is no longer with us. And it is as well to those before and after him.
וְאֵיךְ תְּנַחֲמוּנִי הָבֶל וּתְשׁוּבֹתֵיכֶם נִשְׁאַר־מָעַל׃ 21:34
Job 21:34 “Then how could you console me vainly,
when of your answers remains only trespass?”
Trespass into Job’s sensitivities and insight, and/or against God?
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