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JOB 27

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Job Affirms His Righteousness Job Maintains His Integrity Job's Reply Job Job Reaffirms His Innocence While Acknowledging God's Power
27:1-6
(2-6)
27:1 27:1-6
(1-6)
27:1-6
(1-6)
27:1-12
(2-12)
The State of the Godless 27:2-6
(2-6)
     
27:7-12
(7-12)
27:7-10
(7-10)
27:7-12
(7-12)
27:7-10
(7-10)
 
  27:11-12
(11-12)
  27:11-12
(11-12)
[Zophar]
Discourse of Zophar, the Fate of the Wicked
27:13-23
(13-23)
27:13-23
(13-23)
27:13-23
(13-23)
27:13-23
(13-23)
27:13-23; 24:18-24
(13-23)
(24:18-24)

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. As there were scholarly suggestions about who spoke Job 26:5-14, there is the same issue with 27:13-23 (see TEV and NJB outline). AB sees Zophar as speaking from Job 27:8-23 (p. 168).

B. The third cycle of speeches is incomplete. Bildad's speech is very short (Job 25) and Zophar's third speech is not listed. Why is uncertain.

1. they had nothing else to say, nothing new to add

2. the text has been damaged in transmission (i.e., copying)

C. Job 27:13-23 is another affirmation of "the two ways." This has been a recurrent theme of Job and his three comforters.

 

Job  Eliphaz   Bildad  Zophar


12:5-6




 27:13-23 (?)
4:7-9,17
5:8-27

15:17-35


22:4-30


8:3-7

18:5-21







20:20-29

To this chart I would add

1. Job 28 (someone's discourse on wisdom)

2. Elihu in Job 33:23-28; 34:10-12

3. also note "the two ways" is affirmed by God's actions in Job 42:10-17

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 27:1-6
 1Then Job continued his discourse and said,
 2"As God lives, who has taken away my right,
 And the Almighty, who has embittered my soul,
 3For as long as life is in me,
 And the breath of God is in my nostrils,
 4My lips certainly will not speak unjustly,
 Nor will my tongue mutter deceit.
 5Far be it from me that I should declare you right;
 Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.
 6I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go.
 My heart does not reproach any of my days."

27:1 The UBS Handbook (p. 481) makes a good comment about the presence of "Job" again in Job 27:1, when he is named in 26:1 (i.e., Job 26 and 27 comprise one literary unit). Usually the speaker is not named until a new one starts. The presence of a second mentioning of Job (only here) seems to imply a disruption in the text.

▣ "discourse" This noun (BDB 605) normally refers to a proverb or parable but in this context it refers to an expression of wisdom teaching (cf. Job 13:12; 27:1; 29:1). NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 1135, lists several possible meanings in prophetic contexts,

1. oracle

2. prophecy

3. discourse

4. parable

5. taunt

but I think "the teaching of the sages" (p. 1134) fits better (cf. 1 Kgs. 4:32; Pro. 1:6; 26:7,9; Eccl. 12:9).

27:2 "God. . .Almighty" Notice El (BDB 42, see SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY) and Shaddai (BDB 994) are parallel. Also note Job 27:9-10,11,13. See SPECIAL TOPIC: The Almighty (Shaddai). These are the titles/names Job uses for Deity.

▣ "As God lives" This is a curse/oath formula of later Israel. It is a play on YHWH's name from the verb "to be." This is another textual evidence that the author was a later Judean scribe/sage. See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY, D. (YHWH).

Notice how Job characterizes God.

1. who has taken away my right (i.e., legal right of defense, BDB 1048)

2. who has embittered my soul (cf. Job 7:11; 10:1)

It is surprising that Job swears by the God whom he feels has wronged him!

27:3 "life. . .breath" These are two different words but they convey the same thought.

1. life – BDB 675

a. used of God in Job 4:9; 32:8

b. used of man in Gen. 2:7

c. parallel in Job 33:4; 34:14

2. breath – BDB 924, ruah can mean "wind," "breath," or "spirit," cf. Job 15:30; see SPECIAL TOPIC: BREATH, WIND, SPIRIT (OT)

Notice it is the "spirit of Eloah," a different name from Job 27:2, El, but a form of it (BDB 42).

The concept that the breath of God, given in Gen. 2:7, is the life-giving force that sustains life is common in Job (cf. Job 27:3; 33:4; 34:14-15; also note Ps. 104:29-30).

27:4-6 Job compares his integrity to his three comforters'.

1. his lips certainly will not speak unjustly, Job 27:4a

2. his tongue will not mutter deceit, Job 27:4b

3. far be it from me to declare them right, Job 27:5a

4. he will not put away his integrity, Job 27:5b

5. he will hold fast his righteousness, Job 27:6a

6. he does not regret any part of his life, Job 27:6b (i.e., no knowledge of sin)

The implication is that his three comforters (plural "you," Job 27:5) have acted and spoken unjustly.

Job's integrity is based on his adult lifestyle (not his youth). There is ambiguity in the book as to the question of Job's sin.

Job admits Job asserts Job asserts

some sin all sin he did not sin
6:2-3
7:20-21
12:4
13:14-15,23
14:17
19:4



5:7
Eliphaz in
4:17-20
15:14-15





6:10
7:20
9:20-21
10:6-7,14
27:1-6
29:11-20
32:1
33:8-12
34:5

Job does not claim to be completely innocent, but that the severity of God's judgment does not fit his life!

27:4 The interpretive issue about Job 27:4 is, "Is this verse is a positive statement or negative?" Is it an affirmation of Job's trust in God, even though he feels wronged or is it a rejection of his three comforters' words?

If Job 27 is Job's conclusion to the dialogues then it probably is an expression of trust. Job claims he has not spoken negatively about God. However, this does not fit his statements accusing God of unfairness and injustice. I think it refers to the three friends trying to get him to admit to secret sins which caused (i.e., the theology of "the two ways") his current situation. Beginning in Job 27:5 he surely addresses his three comforters (i.e., Job 27:5-12).

27:5 "right" This same root (BDB 842) is used in Job 27:6, "righteousness" (noun). See SPECIAL TOPIC: RIGHTEOUSNESS.

27:6 "heart" See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART.

▣ "reproach" This verb (BDB 357, KB 355, Qal imperfect) has a wide semantical field. JPSOA, in a footnote, says, "meaning of Hebrew uncertain." NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 280, lists possible translations of the Qal as

1. taunt

2. mock

3. scorn

4. scoff

5. spurn

6. revile

Job does not look back on his life of faith with any regrets.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 27:7-12
 7"May my enemy be as the wicked
 And my opponent as the unjust.
 8For what is the hope of the godless when he is cut off,
 When God requires his life?
 9Will God hear his cry
 When distress comes upon him?
 10Will he take delight in the Almighty?
 Will he call on God at all times?
 11"I will instruct you in the power of God;
 What is with the Almighty I will not conceal.
 12Behold, all of you have seen it;
 Why then do you act foolishly?"

27:7-12 Job addresses ("Let. . .," a jussive denoting a curse), all three of his comforters (cf. "you," plural, Job 27:5,11,12). He feels they have attacked him unfairly. If they want "the two ways" to work with no exceptions, Job hopes they receive what they deserve for their treatment of him.

He calls his comforters

1. my enemy, Job 27:7a

2. he who rises against me, Job 27:7b (MT)

3. the godless, Job 27:8a

4. you who speak vanity, Job 27:12b (MT)

Notice the questions

1. what is the hope of the godless when God requires his life, Job 27:8

2. will God hear the cry of the godless when distress comes upon him, Job 27:9

3. will the ungodly take delight in God at all times, Job 27:10

4. why do you speak emptiness in light of Job's words, Job 27:12

Curses were common literary hyperbole in the ANE. Modern western readers, who are often literalists, misunderstand this genre. Overstatements are part of the flamboyance. The book that has helped me to see this is D. Brent Sandy, Plowshares and Pruning Hooks: Rethinking the Language of Biblical Prophecy and Apocalyptic.

27:8

NASB, REB"when he is cut off"
NKJV"though he may gain much"
NRSV"when God cuts them off"
TEV,
Peshitta"when God demands their life"
NJB"when he prays"
JPSOA"when he is cut down"
LXX"that he hangs on"

This verb (BDB 1017 II, KB 1503, Qal jussive) is found only here in the entire OT. Its meaning is uncertain, as you can tell from the variety of translations. BDB has "draw out," "extract." KB lists several different roots (i.e., 5), all with different meanings. The best way to deal with this variety is to see Job 27:8a as a parallel to 27:8b (NRSV, TEV).

27:11 "power of God" This is literally "hand of God." See SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND.

▣ "the Almighty" See SPECIAL TOPIC: The Almighty (Shaddai).

▣ "I will not conceal" This verb (BDB 470, KB 469, Piel imperfect) means "to hide." It is ironic that Job will not hide/conceal the truth of a God who has "hidden" Himself from Job. Job speaks truly about God but his three comforters speak falsely (i.e., in vain) about God (cf. Job 27:12b).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 27:13-23
 13"This is the portion of a wicked man from God,
 And the inheritance which tyrants receive from the Almighty.
 14Though his sons are many, they are destined for the sword;
 And his descendants will not be satisfied with bread.
 15His survivors will be buried because of the plague,
 And their widows will not be able to weep.
 16Though he piles up silver like dust
 And prepares garments as plentiful as the clay,
 17He may prepare it, but the just will wear it
 And the innocent will divide the silver.
 18He has built his house like the spider's web,
 Or as a hut which the watchman has made.
 19He lies down rich, but never again;
 He opens his eyes, and it is no longer.
 20Terrors overtake him like a flood;
 A tempest steals him away in the night.
 21The east wind carries him away, and he is gone,
 For it whirls him away from his place.
 22For it will hurl at him without sparing;
 He will surely try to flee from its power.
 23Men will clap their hands at him
 And will hiss him from his place."

27:13-23 This is one of many graphic descriptions of the plight of the sinner. See Contextual Insights, C.

Notice the names used to describe the sinner.

1. wicked – BDB 957

2. tyrant – BDB 792, lit. "oppressors"

Note the list of the consequences of wickedness (remember that this is Edom and historically prior to the writings of Moses, so how God's will was communicated to them is uncertain).

1. children will die a violent death, Job 27:14a

2. descendants will be poor, Job 27:14b

3. survivors will die of the plague, Job 27:15a (i.e., death is personified)

4. his widows (or the widows of his descendants) will be so grieved they cannot weep, Job 27:15b (i.e., improper burial)

5. others will take his wealth, Job 27:16-17

6. his "house" is built poorly and weakly (i.e., "watchman's hut" was a lean-to type, flimsy structure used during the fall harvest), Job 27:18

7. his wealth does not help his family (see separate note for this uncertain verse), Job 27:19

8. terrors overtake him like a flood, Job 27:20a

9. tempest steals him away in the night (i.e., wadi floods and washes away the camp site), Job 27:20b

10. he is destroyed by the east wind, Job 27:21-22 (this is the personified subject of Job 27:21-23)

11. the wind will clap its hands at his demise, Job 27:23a (Tremper Longman III, Job [p. 320] thinks Job 27:23 describes God's actions)

12. the wind will hiss at him, Job 27:23b; AB (p. 173) thinks the subject of Job 27:23 should not be "men" (italics) but the "east wind" of Job 27:21. If so, the imagery personifies the "east wind" (i.e., God's act of judgment, cf. Job 1:19). JPSOA, REB, and TEV all translate the verses as if they refer to the "wind."

 

27:13 "the Almighty" See SPECIAL TOPIC: The Almighty (Shaddai).

27:15 One of my favorite books on Israelite culture and ritual is by Roland deVaux, Ancient Israel. On pages 58 and 287 he mentions a text from Qumran of Isa. 53:9, which may affect the translation of Job 27:15 by changing the vowels only. It would change "death" (BDB 560) into "high place" (BDB 119) as a place of burial. The new translation would be "those who survive them will be buried in ‘bamoth,' and their widows will shed no tears for them." This helps Job 27:15 to parallel 27:14.

27:17 "the just" This adjective (BDB 843) is used several times to describe faithful followers.

1. Job 9:15 – right (NASB)

2. Job 9:20; 22:19; 34:5 – righteous (NASB)

It is parallel to "innocent" (BDB 667). Job claimed to be one of this group.

27:18

NASB, TEV,
NJB"like the spider's web"
NKJV"like a moth"
NRSV"like nests"
JPSOA,
REB"like a bird's nest"

The MT has "moth" (BDB 799 II). It was used earlier in Job 4:19 to describe the frailty of humanity. The LXX combines NKJV and NASB but omits the phrase about "a watchman's hut." NASB, TEV, and NJB get "spider's web" from the phrase in the LXX.

It was interesting to me that The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 973, mentions that the words for "moth" and Arabic "night watchman" are very similar. Maybe this is where the LXX got "watchman's hut."

27:19 The Hebrew is ambiguous. The JPSOA translates the two lines of poetry as

"He lies down, a rich man, with [his wealth] intact;

When he opens his eyes it is gone."

The MT has "he shall not be gathered," which may refer to being properly buried in his family tomb. But this does not fit this verse well, though it could fit Job 27:15.

27:22b "He will surely try to flee" This is an infinitive absolute and an imperfect verb from the same root (BDB 137, KB 156), which was a Hebrew grammatical form to denote intensity.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. How can Job swear by the God who has (in his estimation) treated him unfairly?

2. How does the phrase "God lives" reflect authorship?

3. Who is Job addressing in Job 27:5?

4. Who is "the enemy" in Job 27:7?

5. Who or what is the subject of Job 27:22-23?

6. Why do the TEV and NJB assign part of this chapter to Zophar?

 

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