Job 22

 

וַיַּעַן אֱלִיפַז הַתֵּמָנִי וַיֹּאמַר׃  22:1

Job 22:1   Then Eliphaz, the Temanite, responded and he said,

הַלְאֵל יִסְכָּן־גָּבֶר כִּי־יִסְכֹּן עָלֵימֹו מַשְׂכִּיל׃  22:2

Job 22:2   "Can any man be a benefit to God?

                              Indeed would a comprehending one be a profit for Him?"

This passage is difficult to interpret, and the commentators offer a variety of suggestions.  For one thing the translations of the second-from-last Hebrew word (corresponding to the last two English words) take two different forms, and the related commentaries address their particular translation.  One group of translations is the same as mine, the other group assumes the word is not for Him, but for himself.  The bibles that follow this latter translation (most of them) have for the second part of the verse something like “Surely he who is wise is profitable to himself.”  Their commentaries assume the verse to mean that no one can help God or make Him obligatory to him; even a wise man can be a help only to himself.  Although the former group is quite small, in fact almost nonexistent, they offer the meaning to be that no one can influence God to make Him obliged to notice him.  While I am in this group, I don’t accept their interpretation (or the interpretation of the other group), primarily because of the next two verses.

הַחֵפֶץ לְשַׁדַּי כִּי תִצְדָּק וְאִם־בֶּצַע כִּי־תַתֵּם דְּרָכֶיךָ׃  22:3

Job 22:3   "Is it pleasure for the Almighty if you would be righteous?

                              Or is it gain if your path is upright?"

As I see it, this verse adds credence to the idea that the questions in v. 2 are rhetorical, meaning can any man gain favor from God?  Here Eliphaz answers with more questions, and the meaning of these is clear:  Does God benefit from one who is righteous or upright?  It’s rather obvious that this verse smoothly maintains the flow that is started with the questions of v. 2 as translated above.  To translate the word in v. 2 as for himself should now seem clearly erroneous.

הֲמִיִּרְאָתְךָ יֹכִיחֶךָ יָבֹוא עִמְּךָ בַּמִּשְׁפָּט׃  22:4

Job 22:4   "Would He rebuke you because of your fear?

                              Will He come against you in judgment?"

Now Eliphaz continues his “illuminating” lesson in piety by asking if God would punish someone for his fear (of the Almighty).  This is the introduction to his anti-Job falsehoods with which he accuses Job of wickedness of the worst kind.

הֲלֹא רָעָתְךָ רַבָּה וְאֵין־קֵץ לַעֲוֹנֹתֶיךָ׃  22:5

Job 22:5   "Is not your evil great?

                              And is there no end to your iniquities?"

כִּי־תַחְבֹּל אַחֶיךָ חִנָּם וּבִגְדֵי עֲרוּמִּים תַּפְשִׁיט׃  22:6

Job 22:6   "For you would hold your brothers in pledge for nothing,

                              and strip off the garments of the naked."

לֹא־מַיִם עָיֵף תַּשְׁקֶה וּמֵרָעֵב תִּמְנַע־לָחֶם׃  22:7

Job 22:7   "You would not let any weary drink water,

                              and you would withhold bread from anyone hungry."

וְאִישׁ זְרֹועַ לֹו הָאָרֶץ וּנְשׂוּא פָנִים יֵשֶׁב בָּהּ׃  22:8

Job 22:8   "As a powerful man, the earth is his,

                              and of high bearing, he can dwell on it,

אַלְמָנֹות שִׁלַּחְתָּ רֵיקָם וּזְרֹעֹות יְתֹמִים יְדֻכָּא׃  22:9

Job 22:9   you have sent away widows empty,

                              so it would break the arms of orphans."

עַל־כֵּן סְבִיבֹותֶיךָ פַחִים וִיבַהֶלְךָ פַּחַד פִּתְאֹם׃   22:10

Job 22:10   "For this, snares are in the places surrounding you,

                              so dread can suddenly terrify you,

אֹו־חֹשֶׁךְ לֹא־תִרְאֶה וְשִׁפְעַת־מַיִם תְּכַסֶּךָּ׃   22:11

Job 22:11   or you would not see darkness,

                              or an abundance of water would overwhelm you."

הֲ‍לֹא־אֱלֹוהַּ גֹּבַהּ שָׁמָיִם וּרְאֵה רֹאשׁ כֹּוכָבִים כִּי־רָמּוּ׃   22:12

Job 22:12   "Is not God of the height of heaven?

                              Now look at the topmost of the stars, that they are so high."

וְאָמַרְתָּ מַה־יָּדַע אֵל הַבְעַד עֲרָפֶל יִשְׁפֹּוט׃   22:13

Job 22:13   "And you would say, 'What does God know?

                              Can He judge through a dark cloud?

עָבִים סֵתֶר־לֹו וְלֹא יִרְאֶה וְחוּג מַיִם יִתְהַלָּךְ׃   22:14

Job 22:14   Clouds are a cover to Him, so He cannot see,

                              and He must traverse the vault of heaven.'"

הַאֹרַח עֹולָם תִּשְׁמֹר אֲשֶׁר דָּרְכוּ מְתֵי־אָוֶן׃   22:15

Job 22:15   "Must you keep the old way

                              that men of wickedness tread,

אֲשֶׁר־קֻמְּטוּ וְלֹא־עֵת נָהָר יוּצַק יְסֹודָם׃   22:16

Job 22:16   who are snatched away but it is not time,

                              their foundation, a stream poured out,

הָאֹמְרִים לָאֵל סוּר מִמֶּנּוּ וּמַה־יִּפְעַל שַׁדַּי לָמוֹ׃   22:17

Job 22:17   those saying to God, 'Depart from us.'

                              And what might the Almighty do to any of them?"

Where did Eliphaz get all this background information about Job’s behavior?  What does he know that no one else does?  Aren’t all the accusations that the three “friends” heap on poor Job contradicted by the narrative of Chapter 1?  Given that introduction, we would have to assume that the three have conjured up these unfounded accusations simply because they can’t accept the idea that a righteous person would be punished by God.  I suspect this reflects their own fear that then they (believing they are righteous) could experience a similar fate.

וְהוּא מִלֵּא בָתֵּיהֶם טוֹב וַעֲצַת רְשָׁעִים רָחֲקָה מֶנִּי׃   22:18

Job 22:18   "And prosperity, it fills their houses,

                              that the purpose of wickedness is far from me."

According to my translation, which is different from all the others, Eliphaz now exhibits a degree of confusion, because the observation in this verse impugns the validity of his argument.  Nevertheless, he goes on with the major thrust of his point of view, which is that the wicked are ultimately  punished.

All the other translations are similar to  “Yet He fills their houses with good things, but the counsel of the wicked is far from me.”  Does that translation make sense?   Not to me.

יִרְאוּ צַדִּיקִים וְיִשְׂמָחוּ וְנָקִי יִלְעַג־לָמוֹ׃   22:19

Job 22:19   "The righteous will see, and they rejoice,

                              while the innocent one will have scorn for them:

I believe the pronoun they in this verse refers to the wicked of the previous verses, not to the righteous.  And the “innocent one will have scorn for them” -- the righteous.

אִם־לֹא נִכְחַד קִימָנוּ וְיִתְרָם אָכְלָה אֵשׁ׃   22:20

Job 22:20   "Surely the existence of any of them is cut off,

                              as fire consumes their abundance."

הַסְכֶּן־נָא עִמֹּו וּשְׁלם בָּהֶם תְּבֹואַתְךָ טֹובָה׃   22:21

Job 22:21   "Now be at harmony with Him, and at peace.

                              Because of them, your increase will be good."

At this point, Eliphaz, having “proved” his belief that Job is evil, now offers him friendly advice.

קַח־נָא מִפִּיו תּוֹרָה וְשִׂים אֲמָרָיו בִּלְבָבֶךָ׃   22:22

Job 22:22   "Now receive instruction from His 'mouth,'

                              and set His words in your heart.'

אִם־תָּשׁוּב עַד־שַׁדַּי תִּבָּנֶה תַּרְחִיק עַוְלָה מֵאָהֳלֶךָ׃   22:23

Job 22:23   "If you will return up to the Almighty, you will be rebuilt.

                              You must put unrighteousness far from your tents,"

וְשִׁית־עַל־עָפָר בָּצֶר וּבְצוּר נְחָלִים אוֹפִיר׃   22:24

Job 22:24   and lay the precious ore in the dust,

                              and the fine gold with the rock of brooks,

וְהָיָה שַׁדַּי בְּצָרֶיךָ וְכֶסֶף תּוֹעָפוֹת לָךְ׃   22:25

Job 22:25   and let the Almighty be your Treasure,

                              and your lofty horns, silver."

כִּי־אָז עַל־שַׁדַּי תִּתְעַנָּג וְתִשָּׂא אֶל־אֱלוֹהַּ פָּנֶיךָ׃   22:26

Job 22:26   "Then surely you will take delight by the Almighty,

                              and lift up your face to God."

תַּעְתִּיר אֵלָיו וְיִשְׁמָעֶךָּ וּנְדָרֶיךָ תְשַׁלֵּם׃   22:27

Job 22:27   "You must pray to Him and He will hear you.

                              And pay your vows."

וְתִגְזַר־אֹומֶר וְיָקָם לָךְ וְעַל־דְּרָכֶיךָ נָגַהּ אֹור׃   22:28

Job 22:28   "Then you will decree a word and it shall be ratified for you,

                              and light will be shining upon your paths."

כִּי־הִשְׁפִּילוּ וַתֹּאמֶר גֵּוָה וְשַׁח עֵינַיִם יֹושִׁעַ׃   22:29

Job 22:29   "When they are made low, then you will say, 'Pride!'

                              And those of downcast eyes, He will deliver."

יְמַלֵּט אִי־נָקִי וְנִמְלַט בְּבֹר כַּפֶּיךָ׃   22:30

Job 22:30   "If innocent, He will save.

                              And He will let be saved by the purity of your hands."

 

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