Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
1 Then began Elihu and said:
2 Hear, ye wise men, my words,
And ye experienced ones, give ear to me!
3 For the ear trieth words,
As the palate tasteth by eating.
4 Let us find out what is right,
Let us explore among ourselves what is good.
After his first speech Elihu has made a brief pause; now since Job is silent, he begins anew. ויען ויאמר, lxx correctly, here as in all other instances where the phrase occurs: ὑπολαβὼν λέγει, taking up the word he said. The wise and the knowing (Arab. ‛ulamâ), whose attention he bespeaks, are not Job and the three (Umbr., Hahn), who are indeed a party, and as such a subject for the arbitrative appearance of Elihu; also not every one capable of forming a judgment (Hirz.); but those in the circle of spectators and listeners which, as is assumed, has assembled round the disputants (Schlottm.). In Job 33:4 Elihu does not expressly mean his own ear, but that of the persons addressed: he establishes his summons to prove what he says by the general thought brought over from Job 12:11, and as there (comp. Job 5:7; Job 11:12), clothed in the form of the emblematic proverb, - that as there is a bodily, so there is also a mental organ of sense which tries its perceptions. לאכל is not intended as expressing a purpose (ad vescendum), but as a gerundive (vescendo). The phrase בּחר משׁפּט, occurring only here, signifies neither to institute a search for the purpose of decision (Schult. and others), since בחר does not signify to decide upon anything, nor to investigate a cause (Hahn), which would be נבחנה, but to test and choose what is right, δοκιμάζειν καὶ τὸ καλὸν κατέχειν, Th1 5:21, after which the parallel runs: cognoscamus inter nos (i.e., in common) quid bonum.
5 For Job hath said: "I am guiltless,
"And God hath put aside my right.
6 "Shall I lie in spite of my right,
"Incurable is mine arrow without transgression."
7 Where is there a man like Job,
Who drinketh scorning like water,
8 And keepeth company with the workers of iniquity,
And walketh with wicked men,
9 So that he saith: "A man hath no profit
"From entering into fellowship with God"?!
That in relation to God, thinking of Him as a punishing judge, he is righteous or in the right, i.e., guiltless (צדקתּי with Pathach in pause, according to Ew. 93, c, from צדק = צדק, but perhaps, comp. Pro 24:30; Psa 102:26, because the Athnach is taken only as of the value of Zakeph), Job has said verbatim in Job 13:18, and according to meaning, Job 23:10; Job 27:7, and throughout; that He puts aside his right (the right of the guiltless, and therefore not of one coming under punishment): Job 27:2. That in spite of his right (על, to be interpreted, according to Schultens' example, just like Job 10:7; Job 16:17), i.e., although right is on his side, yet he must be accounted a liar, since his own testimony is belied by the wrathful form of his affliction, that therefore the appearance of wrong remains inalienably attached to him, we find in idea in Job 9:20 and freq. Elihu makes Job call his affliction חצּי, i.e., an arrow sticking in him, viz., the arrow of the wrath of God (on the objective suff. comp. on Job 23:2), after Job 6:4; Job 16:9; Job 19:11; and that this his arrow, i.e., the pain which it causes him, is incurably bad, desperately malignant without (בּלי as Job 8:11) פּשׁע, i.e., sins existing as the ground of it, from which he would be obliged to suppose they had thrust him out of the condition of favour, is Job's constant complaint (vid., e.g., Job 13:23.). Another utterance of Job closely connected with it has so roused Elihu's indignation, that he prefaces it with the exclamation of astonishment: Who is a man like Job, i.e., where in all the world (מי as Sa2 7:23) has this Job his equal, who ... . The attributive clause refers to Job; "to drink scorn (here: blasphemy) like water," is, according to Job 15:16, equivalent to to give one's self up to mockery with delight, and to find satisfaction in it. ארח לחברה, to go over to any one's side, looks like a poeticized prose expression. ללכת is a continuation of the ארח, according to Ew. 351, c, but not directly in the sense "and he goes," but, as in the similar examples, Jer 17:10; Jer 44:19; Ch2 7:17, and freq., in the sense of: "he is in the act of going;" comp. on Job 36:20 and Hab 1:17. The utterance runs: a man does not profit, viz., himself (on the use of סכן of persons as well as of things, vid., on Job 22:2), by his having joyous and familiar intercourse (בּרצתו, as little equivalent to בּרוּץ as in Psa 50:18) with God. Job has nowhere expressly said this, but certainly the declaration in Job 9:22, in connection with the repeated complaints concerning the anomalous distribution of human destinies (vid., especially Job 21:7, Job 24:1), are the premises for such a conclusion. That Elihu, in Job 34:7, is more harsh against Job than the friends ever were (comp. e.g., the well-measured reproach of Eliphaz, Job 15:4), and that he puts words into Job's moth which occur nowhere verbatim in his speeches, is worked up by the Latin fathers (Jer., Philippus Presbyter, Beda,
(Note: Philippus Presbyter was a disciple of Jerome. His Comm. in Iobum is extant in many forms, partly epitomized, partly interpolated (on this subject, vid., Hieronymi Opp. ed. Vallarsi, iii. 895ff.). The commentary of Beda, dedicated to a certain Nectarius (Vecterius), is fundamentally that of this Philippus.)
Gregory) in favour of their unfavourable judgment of Elihu; the Greek fathers, however, are deprived of all opportunity of understanding him by the translation of the lxx (in which μυκτηρισμόν signifies the scorn of others which Job must swallow down, comp. Pro 26:6), which here perverts everything.
10 Therefore, men of understanding, hearken to me!
Far be it from god to do evil,
And the Almighty to act wrongfully.
11 No indeed, man's work He recompenseth to him,
And according to man's walk He causeth it to be with him.
"Men of heart," according to Psychol. S. 249, comp. 254, is equivalent to noee'mones or noeeroi' (lxx συνετοὶ καρδίας). The clause which Elihu makes prominent in the following reply is the very axiom which the three defend, perfectly true in itself, but falsely applied by them: evil, wrong, are inconceivable on the part of God; instead of וּלשׁדּי it is only ושׁדּי in the second member of the verse, with the omission of the praep. - a frequent form of ellipsis, particularly in Isaiah (Isa 15:8; Isa 28:6; Isa 48:14; Isa 61:7, comp. Eze 25:15). Far removed from acting wickedly and wrongfully, on the contrary He practises recompense exactly apportioned to man's deeds, and ever according to the walk of each one (ארח like דּרך or דּרכי, e.g., Jer 32:19, in an ethical sense) He causes it to overtake him, i.e., to happen to him (המציא only here and Job 37:13). The general assertion brought forward against Job is now proved.
12 Yea verily God acteth not wickedly,
And the Almighty perverteth not the right.
13 Who hath given the earth in charge to Him?
And who hath disposed the whole globe?
14 If He only set His heart upon Himself,
If He took back His breath and His inspiration to Himself:
15 All flesh would expire together,
And man would return to dust.
With אף אמנם (Yea verily, as Job 19:4, "and really") the counter-assertion of Job 34:11 is repeated, but negatively expressed (comp. Job 8:3). הרשׁיע signifies sometimes to act as רשׁע, and at others to be set forth and condemned as a רשׁע; here, as the connection requires, it is the former. Job 34:13 begins the proof. Ewald's interpretation: who searcheth, and Hahn's: who careth for the earth beside Him, are hazardous and unnecessary. פּקד with על of the person and the acc. of the thing signifies: to enjoin anything as a duty on any one, to entrust anything to any one, Job 36:23; Num 4:27; Ch2 36:23; therefore: who has made the earth, i.e., the care of it, a duty to Him? ארצה (Milel) is not to be refined into the meaning "to the earth" (as here by Schultens and a few others, Isa 9:1 by Luzzatto: he hath smitten down, better: dishonoured, to the earth with a light stroke), but is poetically equivalent to ארץ, as לילה (comp. modern Greek ἡ νύχθα) is in prose equivalent to ליל. Job 34:13 is by no means, with Ew. and Hahn, to be translated: who observes (considers) the whole globe, שׂים as Job 34:23; Job 4:20; Job 24:12 - the expression would be too contracted to affirm that no one but God bestowed providential attention upon the earth; and if we have understood Job 34:13 correctly, the thought is also inappropriate. A more appropriate thought is gained, if עליו is supplied from Job 34:13: who has enjoined upon Him the whole circle of the earth (Saad., Gecat., Hirz., Schlottm.); but this continued force of the עליו into the second independent question is improbable in connection with the repetition of מי. Therefore: who has appointed, i.e., established (שׂם as Job 38:5; Isa 44:7), - a still somewhat more suitable thought, going logically further, since the one giving the charge ought to be the lord of him who receives the commission, and therefore the Creator of the world. This is just God alone, by whose רוּח and נשׁמה the animal world as well as the world of men (vid., Job 32:8; Job 33:4) has its life, Job 34:14 : if He should direct His heart, i.e., His attention (שׂים לב אל, as Job 2:3), to Himself (emphatic: Himself alone), draw in (אסף as Psa 104:29; comp. for the matter Ecc 12:7, Psychol. S. 406) to Himself His inspiration and breath (which emanated from Him or was effected by Him), all flesh would sink together, i.e., die off at once (this, as it appears, has reference to the taking back of the animal life, רוח), and man would return (this has reference to the taking back of the human spirit, נשׁמה) to dust (על instead of אל, perhaps with reference to the usual use of the על־עפר, Job 17:16; Job 20:11; Job 21:26).
Only a few modern expositors refer אליו, as Targ. Jer. and Syr., to man instead of reflexively to God; the majority rightly decide in favour of the idea which even Grotius perceived: si sibi ipsi tantum bonus esse (sui unius curam habere) vellet. אם followed by the fut. signifies either si velit (lxx ει ̓ βούλοιτο), as here, or as more frequently, si vellet, Psa 50:12; Psa 139:8, Oba 1:4, Isa 10:22; Amo 9:2-4. It is worthy of remark that, according to Norzi's statement, the Babylonian texts presented ישׁיב, Job 34:14, as Chethb, ישׂים as Ker (like our Palestine text, Dan 11:18), which a MS of De Rossi, with a Persian translation, confirms; the reading gives a fine idea: that God's heart is turned towards the world, and is unclosed; its ethical condition of life would then be like its physical ground of life, that God's spirit dwells in it; the drawing back of the heart, and the taking back to Himself of the spirit, would be equivalent to the exclusion of the world from God's love and life. However, ישׂים implies the same; for a reference of God's thinking and willing to Himself, with the exclusion of the world, would be just a removal of His love. Elihu's proof is this: God does not act wrongly, for the government of the world is not a duty imposed upon Him from without, but a relation entered into freely by Him: the world is not the property of another, but of His free creative appointment; and how unselfishly, how devoid of self-seeking He governs it, is clear from the fact, that by the impartation of His living creative breath He sustains every living thing, and does not, as He easily might, allow them to fall away into nothingness. There is therefore a divine love which has called the world into being and keeps it in being; and this love, as the perfect opposite of sovereign caprice, is a pledge for the absolute righteousness of the divine rule.
16 And oh understand now, hear this;
Hearken to the sound of my words.
17 Would one who hateth right also be able to subdue?
Or wilt thou condemn the All-just?
18 Is it becoming to say to a king: Worthless One!?
Thou evil-doer! to princes?
19 To Him who accepteth not the person of rulers,
And regardeth not the noble before the poor:
For they are all the work of His hands.
20 In a moment they die, and at midnight
The people are overthrown and perish,
And they put aside the mighty - not by the hand of man.
This strophe contains several grammatical rarities. At first sight it appears that Job 34:16 ought to be translated: "and if there is understanding (viz., to thee = if thou hast), then hear this." But בּינה is accented as Milel and with Mercha, and can therefore not be a substantive (Hirz., Hahn, and others); for the retreat of the accent would be absolutely incomprehensible, and instead of a conjunctive, a distinctive, viz., Dech, ought to be expected. Several of the old expositors, therefore, interpret with Nolde: quod quum ita sit, intellige; but this elliptical ואם, well as it might also be used for Job 21:4, is unsupportable; the Makkeph between the two words is also against it, which rather arises from the assumption that בּינה is the imperat., and אם as an exception, like Gen 23:13, is an optative particle joined to the imper. 2 instead of to the fut.: "and if thou shouldst observe" (= ואם־תּבין). To translate Job 34:17 with Schultens: num iram osor judicii frenabit, is impracticable on account of the order of the words, and gives a thought that is inappropriate here. אף is a particle, and the fut. is potentialis: is it also possible that an enemy of right should govern? (חבשׁ, imperio coercere, as אצר Sa1 9:17, אסר Psa 105:22); right and government are indeed mutually conditioned, without right everything would fall into anarchy and confusion. In Job 34:17 this is applied to the Ruler of the world: or (ואם, an, as Job 8:3; Job 21:4; Job 40:9) wilt thou condemn the mighty just One, i.e., the All-just? As Elihu calls God שׂגּיא כח, Job 37:23, as the Almighty, and as the Omniscient One, תּמים דּעים, Job 37:16, so here as the All-just One, צדּיק כּבּיר. The two adjectives are put side by side ἀσυνδέτως, as is frequently the case in Arabic, and form one compound idea, Ew. 270, d.
The interrogative ה is joined to the inf., not, however, as Job 40:2 (num litigare cum Deo castigator, scil. vult), with the inf. absol., but with the inf. constr.; the form אמר for אמר occurs also in Pro 25:7, and is also otherwise not rare, especially in combination with particles, e.g., בּאכל, Num 26:10, Olsh. 160, b.
(Note: Eze 25:8 is also to be read אמר according to the Masora and old editions (as אבד Deu 7:20, אכל Deu 12:23, אחז Kg1 6:6), for distinction from the imperatives, which have Chateph-Segol.)
It is unnecessary to suppose that the inf. constr., which sometimes, although rarely, does occur (Ges. 131, rem. 2), is used here instead of the inf. absol.; it is thus, as after טּוב, e.g., Jdg 9:2 (המשׁל), Pro 24:7; Psa 133:1, and Psa 40:6 after אין, used as n. actionis, since ha in a pregnant sense is equivalent to num licet (הטוב), if one does not prefer, with Olsh., to suppose an aposiopesis: "(dare one be so bold as) to say to a king: Thou worthless one! Thou evil-doer! to princes?" The reading האמר is an unnecessary lightening of the difficulty. It were a crimen laesae, if one reproached a king with being unjust, and therefore thereby denied him the most essential requisite of a ruler; and now even Him (Merc. correctly supplies tanto minus ei) who does not give the preference to the person (נשׂא פּני as Job 13:8; Job 32:21) of princes, and does not (with preference) regard (on נכּר vid., on Job 21:29, also here Piel, and according to the statement of the Masora, Milel, for an acknowledged reason which can be maintained even in remarkable instances, like Deu 10:5 in ויהיו, Eze 32:26 in מחללי, whereas Sa1 23:7 is Milra) the rich before (לפני in the sense of prae) the poor! therefore the King of kings, who makes no partial distinction, because the king and the beggar are the work of His hands: they stand equally near to Him as being His creatures, and He is exalted above both alike as their Creator, this order and partiality are excluded; - what a nota bene against the doctrine of the decretum absolutum, which makes the love of the Creator a partial love, and turns this love, which in its very nature is perfect love, into caprice! In Job 34:20 Elihu appeals to human history in favour of this impartiality of the Ruler of the world. It may there appear as though God with partiality suffered rulers and peoples in authority in the world to do as they please; but suddenly they die away, and in fact in the middle of the night (here Mercha-mahpach), the individuals of a great people (thus must עם be understood in accordance with the prominently-placed plur. predicate, Ges. 146, 1) tremble and perish; and they remove (ויסירוּ instead of the passive, as Job 4:20 and frequently) the mighty - לא־ביד. It is not the hand of man which does this, but an invisible higher power (which, if it is called yd, only bears this name per anthropomorphismum); comp. Dan 2:34, לא בידין; Dan 8:25, בּאפס יד; and also Job 20:26, like the New Testament use of ου ̓ χειροποίητος. The subj. of Job 34:20 are the previously mentioned princes. The division according to the accents may be received with hesitation, since the symmetry of the sticks, which it restores, is not unfrequently wanting in the Elihu section. Job 34:20 refers back to the possessors of power, and in the interval, Job 34:20 describes the fate of those who belong to the people which has become subservient to their lust of conquest, for עם cannot signify "in crowds" (Ew., Hahn); it is therefore, and especially when mentioned as here between princes and rulers, the people, and in fact, in distinction from gwy, the people together forming a state.
21 For His eyes are upon the ways of each one,
And He seeth all his steps.
22 There is no darkness nor shadow of death
Wherein the workers of iniquity might hide themselves.
23 For He needeth not long to regard a man
That he may enter into judgment with God.
As the preceding strophe showed that God's creative order excludes all partiality, so this strophe shows that His omniscience qualifies Him to be an impartial judge. He sees everything, nothing can escape His gaze; He sees through man without being obliged to wait for the result of a judicial investigation. שׂים with על does not here signify: to lay upon (Saad., Gecat.), but as Job 37:15, and as with אל (Job 34:14) or בּ (Job 23:6); to direct one's attention (supply לבּו, Job 1:8) towards anything; the fut. has here a modal signification; עוד is used as e.g., Gen 46:29 : again and again, continuously; and in the clause expressive of purpose it is אל־אל (instead of אליו, a very favourite combination used throughout the whole book, Job 5:8; Job 8:5; Job 13:3, and so on) from the human standpoint: He, the all-seeing One, needs not to observe him long that he should enter into judgment with God - He knows him thoroughly before any investigation takes place, which is not said without allusion to Job's vehement longing to be able to appear before God's tribunal.
24 He breaketh the mighty in pieces without investigation
And setteth others in their place.
25 Thus He seeth through their works,
And causeth their overthrow by night, thus they are crushed.
26 He smiteth them after the manner of evil-doers
In the sight of the public.
27 For for such purpose are they fallen away from Him
And have not considered any of His ways,
28 To cause the cry of the poor to come up to Him,
And that He should hear the cry of the needy.
He makes short work (לא־חקר for בּלא, as Job 12:24; Job 38:26 : without research, viz., into their conduct, which is at once manifest to Him; not: in an incomprehensible manner, which is unsuitable, and still less: innumerabiles, as Jer., Syr.) with the mighty (כּבּירים, Arab. kibâr, kubarâ), and in consequence of this (fut. consec.) sets up (constituit) others, i.e., better and worthier rulers (comp. אהר, Job 8:19; Isa 55:1-13 :15), in their stead. The following לכן is not equivalent to לכן אשׁר, for which no satisfactory instance exists; on the contrary, לכן here, as more frequently, introduces not the real consequence (Job 20:2), but a logical inference, something that directly follows in and with what precedes (corresponding to the Greek ἄρα, just so, consequently), comp. Job 42:3; Isa 26:14; Isa 61:7; Jer 2:33; Jer 5:2; Zac 11:7 (vid., Khler in loc.). Thus, then, as He hereby proves, He is thoroughly acquainted with their actions (מעבּד, nowhere besides in the book of Job, an Aramaizing expression for מעשׂה). This abiding fact of divine omniscience, inferred from the previously-mentioned facts, then serves again in its turn, in Job 34:25, as the source of facts by which it is verified. לילה is by no means an obj. The expositions: et inducit noctem (Jer.), He walks in the night in which He has veiled Himself (Umbr.), convertit eos in noctem (Syr., Arab.), and such like, all read in the two words what they do not imply. It is either to be translated: He throws them by night (לילה as Job 27:20) upon the heaps (הפך as Pro 12:7), or, since the verb has no objective suff.: He maketh a reformation or overthrow during the night, i.e., creates during the night a new order of things, and they who stood at the head of the former affairs are crushed by the catastrophe.
The following תּחת רשׁעים cannot signify: on the place of the evil-doers, i.e., in the place where evil-doers are punished (Hirz., Hahn, and others), for תּחת (תּחתּי) only has this signification with the suff. (vid., on Hab 3:16); but not otherwise than: in the evil-doers' stead, taking them and treating them as such, as Jer. has correctly translated: quasi impios (comp. Isa 10:4, Jerome, cum interfectis). The place first mentioned afterwards is not exactly the usual place of judgment, but any place whatever where all can see it. There He smites those who hitherto held positions of eminence, as of unimpeachable honour, like the common criminal; ספק, Arab. ṣfq, complodere, and then ictu resonante percutere, as the likewise cognate Arab. sf' signifies first to box the ear (as Arab. sfq = ṣfq), then so to strike that it smacks. As little as לכן, Job 34:25, was = לכן אשׁר, just so little is אשׁר על־כּן, Job 34:27, = על־כן אשׁר (vid., on the other hand what is said on Gen 18:5 concerning כּי־על־כּן). Elihu wishes to say that they endure such a destiny of punishment, because they therefore, i.e., in order to suffer such, have turned aside from following after God, and have not thought on all His ways, i.e., guidings, by which He manifested Himself to them: they have thus sought to cause the cry of the poor to come (Jer. well renders: ut pervenire facerent ad eum) before Him (עליו, perhaps with the idea of urging forward = לפניו or בּאזניו), and that He may hear the cry of the lowly (construction exactly like Job 33:17), i.e., have sought to bring forth His avenging justice by injustice that cries aloud to heaven.
29 If He, however, maketh peace, who will then condemn?
And if He hideth His countenance - who then can behold Him? -
Both concerning numbers and individuals together:
30 That godless men reign not,
That they be not nets to the people.
31 For one, indeed, saith to God,
"I have been proud, I will not do evil;
32 "What I see not, show Thou me;
"If I have done wrong, I will do it no more"!? -
If God makes peace (ישׁקיט as Psa 94:13, comp. Isa 14:7, הארץ שׁקטה כל־, viz., after the overthrow of the tyrant) in connection with such crying oppression of the poor, who will then condemn Him without the rather recognising therein His comprehensive justice? The conjecture ירעשׁ
(Note: Vid., Grtz in Frankel's Monatsschrift, 1861, i.)
is not required either here or Sa1 14:47 (where הרשׁיע signifies to punish the guilty); ירשׁע is also not to be translated turbabit (Rosenm.), since רשׁע (Arab. rs‛, rsg) according to its primitive notion does not signify "to be restless, to rage," but "to be relaxed, hollow" (opposite of צדק, Arab. ṣdq, to be hard, firm, tight). Further: If God hides His countenance, i.e., is angry and punishes, who can then behold Him, i.e., make Him, the veiled One, visible and claim back the favour withdrawn? The Waw of וּמי, if one marks off the periods of the paratactic expression, is in both cases the Waw of conclusion after hypothetical antecedents, and. Job 34:29 refers to Job's impetuous challenging of God. Thus exalted above human controversy and defiance, God rules both over the mass and over individuals alike. יחד gives intensity of the equality thus correlatively (et-et) expressed (Targ., Syr.); to refer it to אדם as generalizing (lxx, Jer. et super omnes homines), is forbidden by the antithesis of peoples and individuals. To the thought, that God giveth rest (from oppressors) and hides His countenance (from the oppressors and in general those who act wrongly), two co-ordinate negative final clauses are attached: in order that godless men may not rule (ממּלך, as e.g., Kg2 23:33, Keri), in order that they may no longer be (מ( e = מהיות, under the influence of the notion of putting aside contained in the preceding final clause, therefore like Isa 7:8 מעם, Isa 24:2 מעיר, Jer 48:2 מגוי, and the like) snares of the people, i.e., those whose evil example and bad government become the ruin of the community.
In Job 34:31 the view of those who by some jugglery concerning the laws of the vowel sounds explain האמר as imper. Niph. (= האמר), be it in the sense of להאמר, dicendum est (Rosenm., Schlottm., and others, after Raschi), or even in the unheard-of reflexive signification: express thyself (Stick., Hahn), is to be rejected. The syncopated form of the infin. בּהרג, Eze 26:15, does not serve as a palliation of this adventurous imperative. It is, on the contrary, אמר with ה interrog., as Eze 28:9 האמר, and probably also העמוּר Mic 2:7 (vid., Hitz.). A direct exhortation to Job to penitence would also not be in place here, although what Elihu says is levelled against Job. The כּי is confirmatory. Thus God acts with that class of unscrupulous men who abuse their power for the destruction of their subjects: for he (one of them) says (or: has said, from the standpoint of the execution of punishment) to God, etc. Ew. differently: "for one says thus to God even: I expiate what I do not commit," by understanding the speech quoted of a defiance which reproachfully demands an explanation. It is, however, manifestly a compendious model confession. And since Elihu with כי establishes the execution of punishment from this, that it never entered the mind of the עדם חנף thus to humble himself before God, so נשׂאתי here cannot signify: I have repented (put up with and had to bear what I have deserved); on the contrary, the confession begins with the avowal: I have exalted myself (נשׂא, se efferre, in Hos 13:1; Psa 89:10), which is then followed by the vow: I will not (in the future) do evil (חבל synon. עוה, as Neh 1:7, and probably also supra, Job 24:9), and the entreaty, Job 34:32 : beside that which I behold (elliptical object-clause, Ew. 333, b), i.e., what lies beyond my vision (= נסתּרות or עלמים, Psa 19:13; Psa 90:8, unacknowledged sins), teach me; and the present vow has reference to acknowledged sins and sins that have still to be acknowledged: if I have done wrong, I will do it no more. Thus speaking - Elihu means - those high ones might have anticipated the punishment of the All-just God, for favour instead of wrath cannot be extorted, it is only reached by the way of lowly penitence.
33 Shall He recompense it as thou wilt? For thou hast found fault,
So that thou hast to determine, not I,
And what thou knowest speak out!
34 Men of understanding will say to me,
And a wise man who listeneth to me:
35 "Job speaketh without knowledge,
"And his words are without intelligence."
36 O would that Job were proved to the extreme
On account of his answers after the manner of evil men;
37 For he addeth transgression to his sin,
Among us he clappeth
And multiplieth his speeches against God.
The question put to Job, whether then from him or according to his idea (עם in מעמּך as Job 23:10; Job 27:11, which see) shall God recompense it (viz., as this "it" is to be understood according to Job 34:32: man's evil-doing and actions in general), Elihu proves from this, that Job has despised (shown himself discontented with it) the divine mode of recompense, so that therefore (this second כּי signifies also nam, but is, because extending further on account of the first, according to the sense equivalent to ita ut) he has to choose (seek out) another mode of recompense, not Elihu (who is perfectly satisfied with the mode with which history furnishes us); which is then followed by the challenge (דּבּר not infin., but as Job 33:32): what (more corresponding to just retribution) thou knowest, speak out then! Elihu on his part knows that he does not stand alone against Job, the censurer of the divine government of the world, but that men of heart (understanding) and (every) wise man who listens to him will coincide with him in the opinion that Job's talk is devoid of knowledge and intelligence (on the form of writing השׂכּיל as Jer 3:15, vid., Ges. 53, rem. 2).
In Job 34:36 we will for the present leave the meaning of אבי undecided; יבּחן is certainly intended as optative: let Job be tried to the extreme or last, i.e., let his trial by affliction continue until the matter is decided (comp. Hab 1:4), on account of the opposition among men of iniquity, i.e., after the manner of such (on this Beth of association comp. בּקּשׁשׁים, Job 36:14), for to חטּאת, by which the purpose of his affliction is to be cleared up, he adds פּשׁע, viz., the wickedness of blasphemous speeches: among us (therefore without fear) he claps (viz., his hands scornfully together, יספּוק only here thus absolute instead of ישׂפּק כּפּיו fo dae, Job 27:23, comp. בשׂפק Job 36:18 with ספקו Job 20:22)
(Note: The mode of writing with ס instead of שׂ is limited in the book of Job, according to the Masora, to Job 34:26, Job 34:37.)
and multiplies (ירב, fut. apoc. Hiph. as Job 10:17, and instead of the full fut., as ישׂר, Job 33:27) his speeches against God, i.e., exceeds himself in speeches which irreverently dictate to and challenge God.
But we now ask, what does that אבי, Job 34:36, signify? According to the accentuation with Rebia, it appears to be intended to signify pater mi (Jer.), according to which Saad. (jâ rabbı̂) and Gecat. (munchiı̂, my Creator) translate it. This would be the only passage where an Old Testament saint calls God אבי; elsewhere God is called the Father of Israel, and Israel as a people, or the individual comprehending himself with the nation, calls Him אבינו. Nevertheless this pater mi for Elihu would not be inappropriate, for what the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 12:7, says to believers on the ground of Pro 3:11 : εἰς παιδείαν ὑπομένετε, ye suffer for the purpose of paternal discipline, is Elihu's fundamental thought; he also calls God in Job 32:22; Job 36:3, which a like reference to himself, עשׂני and פעלי - this ejaculatory "my Father!" especially in conjunction with the following wish, remains none the less objectionable, and only in the absence of a more agreeable interpretation should we, with Hirz., decide in its favour. It would be disproportionately repulsive if Job 34:36 still belonged to the assenting language of another, and Elihu represented himself as addressed by אבי (Wolfson, Maur.). Thus, therefore, אבי must be taken somehow or other interjectionally. It is untenable to compare it with אבוי, Pro 23:29, for אוי ואבוי (Arab. âh wa-âwâh) is "ah! and alas!" The Aramaic בייא בייא, vae vae (Buxtorf, col. 294), compared by Ges. to בּי, signifies just the same. The Targ. translates צבינא, I wish; after which Kimchi, among moderns, Umbr., Schlottm., Carey, and others derive אבי from אבה, a wish (after the form קצה, הזה), but the participial substantival-form badly suits this signification, which is at once improbable according to the usage of the language so far as we at present know it. This interpretation also does not well suit the בי, which is to be explained at the same time. Ewald, 358, a, regards אבי as the fuller form of בּי, and thinks אבי is dialectic = לבי = לוי = לוּ, but this is an etymological leger-demain. The two Schultens (died 1750 and 1793) were on the right track when they traced back אבי to בוא, but their interpretation: rem eo adducam ut (אבי = אביא, as it is certainly not unfrequently written, e.g., Kg1 21:29, with the assumption of a root בי cognate with בא), is artificial and without support in the usage of the language and in the syntax. Krber and Simonis opened up the right way, but with inadequate means for following it out, by referring (vid., Ges. Thes. s.v. בּי) to the formula of a wish and of respect, bawwâk allah, which, however, also is bajjâk. The Kamus interprets bajjâk, though waveringly, by bawwâk, the meaning of which (may he give thee a resting-place) is more transparent. In an annotated Codex of Zamachschari hajjâk allah wa-bajjâk is explained: God preserve thy life and grant thee to come to a place of rest, bawwaaka (therefore Arab. bawâ = bawa'a) menzilan. That אבי (as also בּי) is connected with this bajjâk since the latter is the Piel-form of an old verb bajja (vid., supra, p. 559), which with the forms Arab. bâ'a (whence Arab. bı̂‛at, a sheltering house) and Arab. bw' (bwâ) has one root similar in signification with בוא, the following contributions of Wetzstein will show.
In elucidation of the present passage he observes: The expressions abı̂ tebı̂, jebı̂; nebı̂, tebû, jebû, are so frequent in Damascus, that they very soon struck me, and on my first inquiry I always received the same answer, that they are a mutilation of Arab. 'bgy, abghi, I desire, etc. [vid. supra, p. 580], until one day a fugitive came into the consulate, and with these words, abı̂ wâlidêk, seized me in that part of the body where the Arabs wear the girdle (zunnâr), a symbolic action by which one seeks some one's protection. Since the word here could not be equivalent to abghi ("I desire" thy parents), I turned to the person best acquainted with the idiom of the country, the scribe Abderrahmn el-Mdni, which father had been a wandering minstrel in the camps for twenty years; and he explained to me that abghi only signifies "I desire;" on the contrary, abı̂, "I implore importunately, I pray for God's sake," and the latter belongs to a defective verb, Arab. bayya, from which, except the forms mentioned, only the part. anâ bâj, "I come as a suppliant," and its plur. nahn bâjin, is used. The poet Musa Rr from Krje in the south of Hauran, who lived with me six months in Damascus in order to instruct me in the dialect of his district, assured me that among the Beduins also the perf. forms bı̂t, bı̂nâ (I have, we have entreated), and the fut. forms tabı̂n (thou, woman ... ), jaben (they, the women ... ), and taben (ye women ... ), are used. In the year 1858, in the course of a journey in his native country, I came to Dms, whither they had brought two strange Beduins who had been robbed of their horses in that desert (Sahra Dms), and one of them had at the same time received a mortal gunshot-wound. As I can to these men, who were totally forsaken, the wounded man began to express his importunate desire for a surgeon with the words jâ shêch nebı̂ ‛arabak, "Sir, we claim the protection of thy Arabs," i.e., we adjure thee by thy family. Naturally abı̂ occurs most frequently. It generally has its obj. in the acc., often also with the praepos. Arab. ‛ly, exactly like Arab. dchl (to enter, to flee anywhere and hide), which is its correct synonym and usual substitute in common life. It is often used without an obj., and, indeed, very variously. With women it is chiefly the introduction to a question prompted by curiosity, as: abı̂ (ah, tell me), have you really betrothed your daughter? Or the word is accompanied by a gesture by the five fingers of the right hand, with the tips united, being stretched out towards the hasty or impatient listener, as if one wished to show some costly object, when abı̂ signifies as much as: I pray thee wait till I have shown thee this precious thing, i.e., allow me to make one more remark to thee in reference to the matter. Moreover, בּי (probably not corrupted from אבי, but a derived nomen concretum in the sense of dachı̂l or mustagı̂r, one seeking protection, protg, after the form אי, צי, from בוה = בוא) still exists unaltered in Hauran and in the steppe. The Beduin introduces an important request with the words anâ bı̂ ahlak, I am a protg of thy family, or anâ bı̂ ‛irdak, I trust to thine honour, etc.; while in Damascus they say, anâ dachı̂l ahlak, harı̂mak, aulâdak, etc. The Beduin women make use of this bı̂ in a weakened signification, in order to beg a piece of soap or sugar, and anâ bı̂ lihjetak, I pray by thy beard, etc., is often heard.
If now we combine that אבי of Elihu with abghi (from Arab. bgâ, Hebr. בּעה, Aram. בּעא, fut. יבעי, as בּי with בּעי) or with ab = אבא, from the verb bajja = בוא (בי),
(Note: We cannot in any case, with Wetzst., explain the אבי אבי, Kg2 2:12; Kg2 13:14, according to the above, so that the king of Israel adjured the dying prophet by the national army and army of the faithful not to forsake him, as an Arab is now and then adjured in most urgent and straitened circumstances "by the army of Islam;" vid., on the other hand, Kg2 6:21, comp. Job 5:13; Job 8:9 (בּנך). Here rather, if an Arabian parallel be needed, the usual death wail, bi-abı̂ anta (thou wast dear as a father to me), e.g., in Kosegarten, Chrestom. p. 140, 3, is to be compared. אבי, Sa1 24:12, might more readily, with Ew. 101, c, be brought in here and regarded as belonging to the North Palestine peculiarities of the book of Kings; but by a comparison of the passages cited, this is also improbable.)
it always remains a remarkable instance in favour of the Arabic colouring of the Elihu section similar to the rest of the book, - a colouring, so to speak, dialectically Hauranitish; while, on the other hand, even by this second speech, one cannot avoid the impression of a great distance between it and the rest of the book: the language has a lofty tone, without its special harshness, as there, being the necessary consequence of a carefully concentrated fulness of thought; moreover, here in general the usual regularity of the strophe-lines no longer prevails, and also the usual symmetrical balance of thought in them.
If we confine our attention to the real substance of the speech, apart from the emotional and rough accessories, Elihu casts back the reproach of injustice which Job has raised, first as being contradictory to the being of God, Job 34:10.; then he seeks to refute it as contradicting God's government, and this he does (1) apagogically from the unselfish love with which God's protecting care preserves the breath of every living thing, while He who has created all things might bring back all created things to the former non-existence, Job 34:12-15; (2) by induction from the impartial judgment which He exercises over princes and peoples, and from which it is inferred that the Ruler of the world is also all-just, Job 34:16-20. From this Elihu proves that God can exercise justice, and from that, that He is omniscient, and sees into man's inmost nature without any judicial investigation, Job 34:21-28; inaccessible to human accusation and human defiance, He rules over peoples and individuals, even over kings, and nothing turns His just punishment aside but lowly penitence blended with the prayer for the disclosure of unperceived sin, Job 34:29-32. For in His retributive rule God does not follow the discontented demands of men arrogant and yet devoid of counsel, Job 34:33. It is worthy of recognition, that Elihu does not here coincide with what has been already said (especially Job 12:15), without applying it to another purpose; and that his theodicy differs essentially from that proclaimed by the friends. It is not derived from mere appearance, but lays hold of the very principles. It does not attempt the explanation of the many apparent contradictions to retributive justice which outward events manifest, as agreeing with it; it does not solve the question by mere empiricism, but from the idea of the Godhead and its relation to the world, and by such inner necessity guarantees to the mysteries still remaining to human shortsightedness, their future solution.