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JOB 42

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Job's Confession Job's Repentance and Restoration Job's Reply The Lord's Answer to Job
(38:1-42:1)
Job's Final Answer
42:1-6
(2-6)
42:1 42:1-6
(2-6)
42:1 42:1
  42:2-4
(2-4)
  42:2-6
(2-6)
42:2-6
(2-6)
God Displeased with Job's Friends 42:5-6
(5-6)
The Epilogue Conclusion Yahweh Rebukes the Three Sages
42:7-9 42:7-17 42:7-9 42:7-8 42:7-9
God Restores Job's Fortunes     42:9 Yahweh Restores Job's Fortunes
42:10-17   42:10-17 42:10-11 42:10-15
      42:12-15  
      42:16-17 42:16-17

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. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Job 42:1-6 is Job's second response to YHWH. If his answer was not adequate the first time (i.e., Job 40:3-5), his second response clearly shows spiritual insight has come. He is not just silent, he is overwhelmed!

 

B. The book of Job is characterized by dialogues and responses. The pattern holds throughout the book (except for Elihu's speeches).

Worldviews and traditional wisdom are conveyed in this literary structure.

 

C. One would expect a clear conclusion to the issue of

1. innocent suffering

2. the modification of "the two ways"

3. where "true" wisdom is found

but in vain, one looks for answers to these questions (see Introduction to Job, IX and Contextual Insights to Job 38, A and B).

The conclusion is surprising.

1. Job is affirmed (i.e., Job 42:9), even though he has attacked the character and justice of God/YHWH.

2. The three comforters, whose theology is certainly as good as Job's, are condemned (i.e., Job 42:7-9).

3. Elihu and his speeches are ignored. Why, is uncertain.

4. "The two ways" is affirmed by God's actions of restoring Job's family and fortune (i.e., Job 42:10-17).

5. The accuser is not mentioned at all!

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 42:1-6
 1Then Job answered the Lord and said,
 2"I know that You can do all things,
 And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
 3‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?'
 Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
 Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
 4‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
 I will ask You, and You instruct me.'
 5I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
 But now my eye sees You;
 6Therefore I retract,
 And I repent in dust and ashes."

42:1-6 This is Job's second response to YHWH's questioning. It produces a verbal and spiritual response from Job, as the first speeches of YHWH (Job 38:1-40:2) did not. This second speech of YHWH (Job 40:6-41:34) obviously had an affect on Job.

42:2 This verse is an affirmation of YHWH's sovereignty, power, and purpose.

1. He can do all things.

2. His purpose(s) cannot be thwarted (i.e., Jer. 23:20; Lam. 2:17; Zech. 1:6).

Number 2 is an affirmation that YHWH has a "plan" for His world. See Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan.

▣ "know" This verb (BDB 393, KB 390) is used often in Job. In Job 42, it is used in 42:2,3,11. It has several connotations. See Special Topic: Know.

42:3 Job repeats God's characterization of him from Job 38:2. See notes there.

Job clearly admits his presumption in attacking God's character and justice. He spoke out of limited knowledge and personal pain. His wonderful faith (i.e., Job 1-2) and blamelessness was evident but his knowledge of God and His ways was limited. If Job is from Edom and if he lived during the Patriarchal Period, he did not have the inspired revelation given to Moses. It is uncertain where his knowledge of the one true God came from.

▣ "too wonderful for me" See Special Topic: Wonderful Things.

42:4 Job uses two imperatives as requests to YHWH.

1. hear – BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative

2. instruct – BDB 393, KB 390, Hiphil imperative

Job recognizes he needs more information about YHWH. He is now ready to hear. This is the exact opposite of Job 38:3, where it is stated (in YHWH's words) that initially Job wanted to question God.

Job 42:4 seems to be a reference to YHWH's words in Job 38:3; 40:7.

42:5 One wonders what this verse is intending to assert.

1. Job did not "know" God before

2. Job had not personally visited with God (theophany) before

Obviously, Job had a powerful, personal, faith relationship with YHWH (i.e., Job 1-2). However, how he knew Him and how much he knew is uncertain.

1. ANE general revelation (Ps. 19:1-6; Romans 1-2)

2. some contact with YHWH's covenant people

3. oral traditions of the Patriarchs

This same question could be asked of Melchizedek, King of Salem (Gen. 14:17-24); Jethro, Moses' father-in-law (Exodus 2); Balaam (Numbers 22); or the Ninevites of Jonah's day.

▣ "But now my eyes see You" Job has been wanting to meet with God. This phrase may be seen to refer to Job 19:24-27. Job's faith-desire has been met! His greatest pain had been that God had become his enemy (cf. Job 13:24; 33:10)! Not so now!

42:6

NASB"I retract"
NKJV"I abhor myself"
NRSV"I despise myself"
TEV"I am ashamed of all I have said"
NJB"I retract what I have said"
JPSOA"I recant"
REB"I yield"
LXX"I disparaged myself"
Peshitta"I will keep silent"

The MT has the verb (BDB 549, KB 540, Qal imperfect, with no object), which can mean

1. reject, refuse

2. despise

3. withdraw (UBS Text Project, p. 162)

4. melt (NEB, an emendation)

Several translations have tried to supply an object

1. myself – NKJV, NRSV, LXX

2. what he had said – TEV, NJB

The UBS Text Project gives #1,2 a "C" rating (considerable doubt). It suggests two translations.

1. I am overwhelmed

2. I withdraw (charges)

I like #2 best in this context.

 

▣ "I repent" This is parallel to "I retract" (see notes above). This is not the most common verb for repentance (BDB 996, KB 1427), but it (BDB 636, KB 688, Niphal perfect with waw) is used often for the deep emotion felt by humans in rebellion against God (see SPECIAL TOPIC: REPENTANCE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT in the OT).

In light of the rest of the book of Job, Job admits all humans sin (cf. Job 5:7). Job admits he is not sinless (cf. Job 6:2-3; 7:20-21; 12:4; 13:23; 14:17; 19:4), but he asserts again and again that he did not sin in such a way as to bring the terrible punishment that he has experienced (cf. Job 6:10; 7:20; 9:20-21; 10:6-7,14; 27:1-6; 29:11-20; 32:1; 33:8-12; 34:5). Therefore, this must refer, not to his admittance of sin, but to his arrogant statements against God. Job wanted his day in court (cf. Job 9:32; 13:2,3; 14:13; 24:1; 31:35-37), now he sees how wrong-headed this approach was. The problem was his attitude and limited knowledge.

▣ "in dust and ashes" This could be

1. the place Job was sitting (cf. Job 2:8)

2. an idiom for the grieving rites of the ANE (see SPECIAL TOPIC: GRIEVING RITES)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 42:7-9
 7It came about after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. 8Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has." 9So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job.

42:7-9 This strophe (returns to prose, like Job 1-2) is YHWH's response to Job's three comforters. I must confess that I am surprised by YHWH's rejection of them. Their theology was no less informed than Job's. Their attitudes were no more wrong than Job's. Job 42:7 is a strong rejection.

1. My wrath (BDB 60 I) is kindled against you all

2. you have not spoken of Me what is right (i.e., Job 13:8)

Notice the divine affirmation of Job (cf. Job 42:8)

1. called "My servant" (i.e., honorific title used four times in two verses; see Special Topic: My Servant)

2. what he spoke about God is "right" (BDB 465 I, KB 464, Niphal participle), which means "be established" or "steadfast" or "properly affixed"

This is so surprising! How has Job been "right"; not in his unfair statements about God or his bad attitudes. It must refer to his steadfast trust and faith in God.

42:8 God tells the three what they must do to be restored to right standing.

1. take blood offerings – BDB 542, KB 534, Qal imperative, plural

2. go to Job – BDB 229, KB 246, Qal imperative, plural

3. offer up a burnt offering (burnt sacrifices predate Moses, cf. Gen. 8:20-21; see SPECIAL TOPIC: SACRIFICES IN MESOPOTAMIA AND ISRAEL AND THEIR SIGNIFICANCE)

4. ask Job to pray for them

 

▣ "seven" See SPECIAL TOPIC: SYMBOLIC NUMBERS IN SCRIPTURE.

NASB,
NKJV"accept him"
NRSV"I will accept his prayers"
TEV"I will answer his prayer"
NJB, REB"I shall show him favour"
JPSOA"I will show favor"
Peshitta"I will accept"

The MT has "for his face I will lift up," which is a legal idiom for acceptance by a judge at the end of litigation. It is used several times in Job (i.e., at the beginning of litigation, cf. Job 13:8; 32:21; 34:19).

▣ "folly" This noun (BDB 615) is often used of disregard for moral guidelines, but that sense does not fit here. The KB (664 II) suggests "insulting behavior."

For a full discussion of the semantic field of this word see NIDOTTE, vol. 3, pp. 11-13.

42:9 When the three comforters were obedient, it does not say YHWH "accepted" them but that He "accepted" Job! Here is Job's judicial (i.e., "lift the face") declaration of innocence. His reputation is restored (and soon all else will be also, Job 42:10-17).

Surprisingly, it is never stated that his physical problems are healed/resolved. This is assumed because fellowship with his family, friends, and community is again possible (cf. Job 42:11).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 42:10-17
 10"The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold. 11Then all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before came to him, and they ate bread with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the Lord had brought on him. And each one gave him one piece of money, and each a ring of gold. 12The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had 14,000 sheep and 6,000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys. 13He had seven sons and three daughters. 14He named the first Jemimah, and the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. 15In all the land no women were found so fair as Job's daughters; and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers. 16After this, Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons and his grandsons, four generations. 17And Job died, an old man and full of days."

42:10-17 This describes the restoration of Job's possessions, as Job 42:9 described the restoration of his reputation. Job had never asked for this. He was more concerned about his good name (Job 42:11).

42:10 "The Lord restored" This verb (BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal perfect) is the common root for "repentance" (lit. "to turn back"). Job "repents" in Job 42:6, now YHWH reciprocates (i.e., different root, see SPECIAL TOPIC: REPENTANCE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT in the OT; also see NIDOTTE, vol. 4, p. 58). YHWH "restores" (i.e., "restores the fortunes of") Job. Often this word is translated "return from captivity," but here and Jer. 30:3, it denotes restoration of a previous condition.

42:11 "for all the evil that the Lord had brought on him" Notice there is no mention of "the accuser" of Job 1-2. Notice, too, the theological emphasis on one, and only one, causality (i.e., no secondary causes, cf. Job 2:10; Eccl. 7:14; Isa. 45:7; Jer. 32:42; Lam 3:33-38; Amos 3:6).

▣ "one piece of money" This name of the amount is "gesitah" (BDB 903, KB 1150), which comes from an Arabic root, "to divide," and referred to a weight of something valuable. It occurs only in an early period (cf. Gen. 33:19; Jos. 24:32) and here.

42:13 As far as we know, Job had only one wife! Oh my!

▣ "sons. . .daughters" One of my problems with the historicity of the book is the death of the sons, daughters, and servants in Job 1-2. These were unique persons made in God's image and likeness. Just to restore a given number does not reduce the pain I feel! I know I am a North American who has grown up in a culture that glorifies the individual, but still, I think every individual is precious to God. For me, Job is a literary production by a Judean sage using a past, famous person who suffered terrible tragedy!

Note that Job has the same number of "sons" and "daughters" as before (cf. Job 1:2).

42:14 The naming of daughters is unusual in the ANE, especially when the sons are not named.

42:15 It was also unusual for daughters to inherit in the ANE (cf. Numbers 27).

42:16 The age of Job (i.e., 140 years) is another hint of the historical setting of the book (i.e., second millennium b.c.).

42:7 This is a typical Patriarchal idiom (cf. Gen. 25:8; 35:29; 1 Chr. 29:28).

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. What is the purpose of the Book of Job in the canon?

2. Did God ever explain to Job the reason for his personal suffering? Why or why not?

3. What is Satan's place in the scheme?

4. Why is Elihu not mentioned in the last chapter?

5. How is God's answer to Job also significant to us?

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