15 million Ukrainian are displaced by Russia's war.
Millions miss a meal or two each day.
Help us change that! Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Job 36

Verses 1-4

1 Then Elihu continued and said:

2 Suffer me a little, and I will inform thee,

For there is something still to be said for Eloah.

3 I will fetch my knowledge from afar,

And to my Creator will I ascribe right.

4 For truly my words are not lies,

One perfect in knowledge stands before thee.

Elihu's preceding three speeches were introduced by ויּען ; this fourth, in honour of the number three, is introduced only as a continuation of the others. Job is to wait yet a little while, for he still has (= עוד לּי ), or: there still are, words in favour of Eloah; i.e., what may be said in vindication of God against Job's complaints and accusations is not yet exhausted. This appears to be the only instance of the Aramaic כּתּר being taken up as Hebr.; whereas הוּה , nunciare (Arab. wḥâ , I, IV), is a poetic Aramaism occurring even in Psalms 19:3 (comp. on the construction Job 32:6); and זעיר (a diminutive form, after the manner of the Arab. zu‛air ) belongs in Isaiah 28:10, Isaiah 28:13 to the popular language (of Jerusalem), but is here used poetically. The verb נשׂא , Job 36:3, is not to be understood according to נשׂא משׁל , but according to 1 Kings 10:11; and למרחוק signifies, as also Job 39:29; Isaiah 37:26, e longinquo , viz., out of the wide realm of history and nature. The expression נתן צדק follows the analogy of ( עז נתן כבוד דּעה , Job 36:4, interchanges with the דּע which belongs exclusively to Elihu, since Elihu styles himself תּמים דּעות , as Job 37:16 God תּמים דּעים (comp. 1 Samuel 2:3, אל דּעות ). תמים in this combination with דעות cannot be intended of purity of character; but as Elihu there attributes absolute perfection of knowledge in every direction to God, so here, in reference to the theodicy which he opposes to Job, he claims faultlessness and clearness of perception.

Verses 5-7

5 Behold, God is mighty, and yet doth not act scornfully,

Mighty in power of understanding.

6 He preserveth not the life of the ungodly,

And to the afflicted He giveth right.

7 He withdraweth not His eyes from the righteous,

But with kings on the throne

He establisheth them for ever, and they are exalted.

The obj. that must be mentally supplied to ימאס ולא is, as in Job 42:6, to be derived from the connection. The idea of the verb is, as in Job 8:20: He is exalted, without however looking down disdainfully ( non despicit ) from His height, or more definitely: without setting Himself above the justice due to even the meanest of His creatures - great in power of heart (comp. Job 34:33 אנשׁי לבב , Arab. ûlû - l - elbâb ), i.e., understanding ( νοῦς πνεῦμα ), to see through right and wrong everywhere and altogether. Job 36:6, Job 36:7 describe how His rule among men evinces this not merely outward but spiritual superiority coupled with condescension to the lowly. The notion of the object, ואת־מלכים לכּסּא (as Isaiah 9:11 the subject), becomes the more distinctly prominent by virtue of the fut. consec. which follows like a conclusion, and takes it up again. Ewald thinks this explanation contrary to the accents and the structure of the sentence itself; but it is perfectly consistent with the former, and indisputably syntactic (Ges. §129, 2, b, and Ew. himself, §344, b). Psalms 9:5, comp. Psalms 132:12, Isaiah 47:1, shows how לכסא is intended (He causes them to sit upon the throne). Job 5:11; 1 Samuel 2:8; Psalms 113:7. are parallel passages.

Verses 8-10

8 And if they are bound with chains,

Holden in cords of affliction:

9 Then He declareth to them their doing

And their transgressions, that they have been vainglorious;

10 Then He openeth their ear to warning,

And commandeth them to turn from iniquity.

The subj. is in no case the רשׁעים (Hahn), but the צדיקים , or those who are as susceptible to discipline as it is needful to them, just as in Ps 107, which in general presents many instances for an extensive comparison with the speeches of Elihu. The chains, Job 36:8, are meant literally, and the bands, Job 36:8, figuratively; the Psalmist couples both in אסירי עני וברזל , Psalms 107:10. The conclusion begins with Job 36:9, and is repeated in another application, Job 36:10. פּעל in the sense of maleficium , as Arab. fa‛alat , recalls מעשׂה , facinus , Job 33:17. כּי , Job 36:9, as in Job 36:10, an objective quod . It is not translated, however, quod invaluerint (Rosenm.), which is opposed to the most natural sense of the Hithpa., but according to Job 15:25: quod sese extulerint . מוּסר , παιδεία , disciplina , interchanges here with the more rare מסר used in Job 33:16; there we have already also met with the phrase גּלה אזן , to uncover the ear, i.e., to open. אמר כּי corresponds to the Arab. amara an ( bi - an ), to command that. The fundamental thought of Elihu here once again comes unmistakeably to view: the sufferings of the righteous are well-meant chastisements, which are to wean them from the sins into which through carnal security they have fallen - a warning from God to penitence, designed to work their good.

Verses 11-12

11 If they hear and yield,

They pass their days in prosperity

And their years in pleasure.

12 And if they hear not,

They pass away by the bow

And expire in lack of knowledge.

Since a declaration of the divine will has preceded in Job 36:10, it is more natural to take ויעבדוּ in the sense of obsequi , to do the will of another (as 1 Kings 12:7, comp. מעבּד from עבד in the generalized sense of facere ), than, with Umbr., in the sense of colere scil. Deum (as Isaiah 19:23, Arab. ‛âbid , one who reveres God, a godly person). Instead of יבלּוּ , Isaiah 65:22 (on which the Masora observes לית , i.e., “nowhere else”) and Job 21:13 Chethîb, 'it is here without dispute יכלּוּ (Targ. ישׁלּמוּן , peragent, as Ezekiel 43:27). נעימים is, as Psalms 16:6, a neutral masc.: amoena . On עבר בשׁלח , to precipitate one's self into the weapon, i.e., to incur peremptory punishment, comp. Job 33:18. On בבלי דעת comp. Job 35:16; Job 4:21. Impenitence changes affliction, which is intended to be a means of rescue, into total destruction; yet there are some who will not be warned and affrighted by it.

Verses 13-15

13 Yet the hypocrites in heart cherish wrath,

They cry not when He hath chained them.

14 Thus their soul dieth in the vigour of youth,

And their life is like that of the unclean.

15 Yet He delivereth the sufferer by his affliction,

And openeth their ear by oppression.

He who is angry with God in his affliction, and does not humbly pray to Him, shows thereby that he is a חנף , one estranged from God (on the idea of the root, vid., i. 216), and not a צדיק . This connection renders it natural to understand not the divine wrath by אף : θησαυρίζουσιν ὀργήν (Rosenm. after Romans 2:5), or: they heap up wrath upon themselves (Wolfson, who supplies עליהם ), but the impatience, discontent, and murmuring of man himself: they cherish or harbour wrath, viz., בּלבּם (comp. Job 22:22, where שׁים בלב signifies to take to heart, but at the same time to preserve in the heart). Used thus absolutely, שׂים signifies elsewhere in the book, to give attention to, Job 4:20; Job 24:12; Job 34:23, or (as Arab. wḍ‛ ) to lay down a pledge; here it signifies reponunt s. recondunt (with an implied in ipsis ), as also Arab. šâm , fut. i, to conceal with the idea of sinking into ( immittentem ), e.g., the sword in the sheath. With תּמת , for ותּמת (Isaiah 50:2) or ותמת , the punishment which issues forth undistinguished from this frustration of the divine purpose of grace follows ἀσυνδέτως , as e.g., Hosea 7:16. חיּה interchanges with נפשׁ , as Job 33:22, Job 33:28; נער (likewise a favourite word with Elihu) is intended just as Job 33:25, and in the Psalms 88:16, which resembles both the Elihu section and the rest of the book. The Beth of בּקּדשׁים has the sense of aeque ac (Targ. היך ), as Job 34:36, comp. תּחת , Job 34:26. Jer. translates inter effeminatos ; for קדשׁים (heathenish, equivalent to קדושׁים , as כּמרים , heathenish, equivalent to כּהנים ) are the consecrated men, who yielded themselves up, like the women in honour of the deity, to passive, prematurely-enervating incontinence (vid., Keil on Deuteronomy 23:18), a heathenish abomination prevailing now and again even in Israel (1 Kings 14:24; 1 Kings 15:12; 1 Kings 22:47), which was connected with the worship of Astarte and Baal that was transferred from Syria, and to which allusion is here made, in accordance with the scene of the book. For the sufferer, on the other hand, who suffers not merely of necessity, but willingly, this his suffering is a means of rescue and moral purification. Observe the play upon the words יחלּץ and בּלחץ . The Beth in both instances is, in accordance with Elihu's fundamental thought, the Beth instrum.

Verses 16-18

16 And He even bringeth thee out of the jaws of distress

To a broad place, whose ground hath no straitness,

And the adorning of thy table shall be full of fatness.

17 Yet thou art become full of the judging of the evil-doer:

Judging and judgment lay hold on one another!

18 For let not anger indeed entice thee to scorning,

And let not the greatness of the ransom mislead thee.

With Job 36:16 Elihu passes over to the application to Job of what he said in the preceding strophe. Since it is usual to place אף (like גּם and אך ) at the beginning of the sentence, although not belonging to the member of the sentence which immediately follows, ואף הסיתך for והסית אף אתך cannot be remarkable. The praet. הסיתך is not promissory, but Elihu says with what design God has decreed the present suffering for Job. הסית מן is like 2 Chronicles 18:31: out of distress ( צר for צר by Rebia magnum), which has him in its jaws, and threatens to swallow him, God brings him away to great prosperity; a thought which Elihu expresses in the imagery of the Psalms of a broad place and a bountiful table (comp. e.g., Psalms 4:2; Psalms 23:5). רחב is locative, and לא־מוּצק תּחתּיה is either a relative clause: whose beneath (ground) is not straitened, no-straitness (in which case מוּצק would not be constr. from the n. hophal. מוּצק , Isa. Isaiah 9:1, but absol. after the form מחנק , Job 7:15, Ew. §160, c, Anm. 4), Saad. Arab. lâ ḍı̂q fı̂ mûḍ‛hâ ( cujus in loco non angustiae ); or it is virtually an adj.: without ( &#לא בּלא , as Job 34:24), comp. on Job 12:24) straitness of what is beneath them, eorum quae sub se habet (comp. on Job 28:5). רחב is fem., like רחוב , Daniel 9:25. A special clause takes the place of the locative, Job 36:16: and the settling or spreading, i.e., the provision (from נוּח , to come down gradually, to seat one's self) of thy table shall be full of fatness. מלא (whether it be adj. or verb) is treated by attraction, according to the gender of the governed noun; and it is unnecessary, with Rosenm. and others, to derive נחת from נחת (Aram. for ירד ).

In Job 36:17, דּין is intended of Job's negative judgment concerning God and His dealings (comp. Psalms 76:9, where it signifies a judicial decision, and Proverbs 22:10, where it signifies a wrangling refusal of a fair decision). Job 36:17 is not a conditional clause (Hahn), in which case the praet. hypothet. would have a prominent position, but an adversative predicative clause: but (nevertheless) thou art full of the judging of the evil-doer (evil judging); after which, just as ἀσυνδέτως as Job 36:14, the sad issue in which this judging after the manner of evil-doers results is expressed: such judging and judgment border closely upon one another. Röd., Dietr., and Schlottm. have wrongly reproduced this idea, discerned by Ges., when they translate: judgment and sentence (guilt and punishment) shall seize thee. יתמכוּ , prehendunt scil. se (Ebr.: put forth the hand), is used like the Aram. סמך , to draw nearer, fasten together (Rabb. סמוּך , near at hand), Arab. tamâsaka (from Arab. msk = סמך , as e.g., hanash = נחשׁ ). In Job 36:18 we leave the signification thick milk or cream ( &#חמה חמאה , as Job 29:6) to those who persuade themselves that cream can be metaphorically equivalent to superfluity (Ew., Hirz., Vaih., Hlgst.). Renan's translation: N'espère pas détourner la colère de Dieu par une amende , we also leave as a simple puzzle to its discoverer, who, with this one exception, is destitute of thoughts proper to the book of Job. In general, the thought, “do not imagine by riches, by a great ransom, to be able to satisfy the claims of God,” is altogether out of place here. Moreover, חמה , which, as e.g., דּאגה , Proverbs 12:25 (Ew. §174, g), is construed as masc., cannot be understood of God's wrath, since the poet by הסית will not at one time have ascribed to God a well-meant incitation, at another an enticement in malam partem . That which allures is Job's own חמה , and that not the excitement of his affliction (Hahn), but of his passion; comp. אף , Job 36:13. שׂפק is, however, to be explained according to Job 34:37, comp. Job 27:23 (clapping of hands = derision); and כּפר signifies reconciliation or expiation, as Job 33:24. Elihu admonishes Job not to allow himself to be drawn by the heat of passion into derision, or to deride; nor to be allured from the right way by the ransom which is required of him as the price of restoration to happiness, viz., humble submission to the divine chastisement, as though this ransom were exceeding great. The connection is clear: an adverse verdict ( דּין ) and condemnation ( משׁפּט ) are closely connected; for ( כּי ) hastiness of temper, let it not ( פּן( ton ti ) lead thee astray ... thou wouldst not escape the judgment of God!

Verses 19-21

Elihu calls upon Job to consider the uselessness of his vehement contending with God, and then warns him against his dreadful provocation of divine judgment: ne anheles (Job 7:2) noctem illam (with the emphatic art.) sublaturam populos loco suo . לעלות is equivalent to futuram ( ההוה or העתידה ) ut tollat = sublaturam (vid., on Job 5:11, לשׂוּם , collocaturus ; Job 30:6, לשׁכּן , habitandum est ), syncopated from להעלות , in the sense of Psalms 102:25; and תּחתּם signifies, as Job 40:12 (comp. on Habakkuk 3:16), nothing but that just where they are, firmly fixed without the possibility of escape, they are deprived of being. If whole peoples are overtaken by such a fate, how much less shall the individual be able to escape it! And yet Job presses forward on to the tribunal of the terrible Judge, instead of humbling himself under His mighty hand. Oh that in time he would shrink back from this absolute wickedness ( און ), for he has given it the preference before עני , quiet, resigned endurance. בּחר על signifies, 2 Samuel 19:39, to choose to lay anything on any one; here as בחר בּ , elsewhere to extend one's choice to something, to make something an object of choice; perhaps also under the influence of the phrase התענּג על , and similar phrases. The construction is remarkable, since one would sooner have expected על־עני זה בחרת , hanc elegisti prae toleratione .

Verses 22-25

22 Behold, God acteth loftily in His strength;

Who is a teacher like unto Him?

23 Who hath appointed Him His way,

And who dare say: Thou doest iniquity!?

24 Remember that thou magnify His doing,

Which men have sung.

25 All men delight in it,

Mortal man looketh upon it from afar.

Most modern expositors, after the lxx δυνάστης , give אמת the signification lord, by comparing the Arab. mar - un ( imru - un ), Syr. mor (with the art. moro ) or more (with the art. morjo ), Chald. מרא , Talmud. מר (comp. Philo, ii. 522, ed. Mangey: οὃτως , viz., μάριν φασὶ τὸν κύριον ὀνομάζεστηαι παρὰ Σύροις ), with it; but Rosenm., Arnh., Löwenthal, Wolfson, and Schlottm., after the Targ., Syr., and Jer., rightly abide by the signification: teacher. For (1) אמת (from הורה , Psalms 25:8, Psalms 25:12; Psalms 32:8) has no etymological connection with mr (of מרא , Arab. maru'a , opimum , robustum esse ); (2) it is, moreover, peculiar to Elihu to represent God as a teacher both by dreams and dispensations of affliction, Job 33:14, Job 34:32, and by His creatures, Job 35:11; and (3) the designation of God as an incomparable teacher is also not inappropriate here, after His rule is described in Job 36:22 as transcendently exalted, which on that very account commands to human research a reverence which esteems itself lightly. Job 36:23 is not to be translated: who overlooketh Him in His way? ( פּקד with על of the personal and acc. of the neutral obj.), which is without support in the language; but: who has prescribed to Him ( פקד על as Job 34:13) His way? i.e., as Rosenm. correctly interprets: quis ei praescripsit quae agere deberet , He is no mandatory, is responsible to no one, and under obligation to no one, and who should dare to say ( quis dixerit ; on the perf. comp. on Job 35:15): Thou doest evil? - man shall be a docile learner, not a self-satisfied, conceited censurer of the absolute One, whose rule is not to be judged according to the laws of another, but according to His own laws. Thus, then, shall Job remember ( memento = cura ut ) to extol ( תשׂגּיא , Job 12:23) God's doings, which have been sung (comp. e.g., Psalms 104:22) by אנשׁים , men of the right order (Job 37:24); Jer. de quo cecinerunt viri . שׁרר nowhere has the signification intueri (Rosenm., Umbr.); on the other hand, Elihu is fond of direct (Job 33:27; Job 35:10) and indirect allusions to the Psalms. All men - he continues, with reference to God's פּעל , working - behold it, viz., as בו implies, with pleasure and astonishment; mortals gaze upon it (reverentially) from afar, - the same thought as that which has already (Job 26:14) found the grandest expression in Job's mouth.

Verses 26-29

26 Behold, God is exalted-we know Him not entirely;

The number of His years, it is unsearchable.

27 For He draweth down the drops of water,

They distil as rain in connection with its mist,

28 Which the clouds do drop,

Distil upon the multitude of men.

29 Who can altogether understand the spreadings of the clouds,

The crash of His tabernacle?

The Waw of the quasi-conclusion in Job 36:26 corresponds to the Waw of the train of thought in Job 36:26 (Ges. §145, 2). מספּר שׁניו is, as the subject-notion, conceived as a nominative (vid., on Job 4:6), not as in similar quasi-antecedent clauses, e.g., Job 23:12, as an acc. of relation. שׂגּיא here and Job 37:23 occurs otherwise only in Old Testament Chaldee. In what follows Elihu describes the wondrous origin of rain. “If Job had only come,” says a Midrash ( Jalkut, §518), “to explain to us the matter of the race of the deluge (vid., especially Job 22:15-18), it had been sufficient; and if Elihu had only come to explain to us the matter of the origin of rain ( מעשׂה ירידת גשׁמים ), it had been enough.” In Gesenius' Handwörterbuch, Job 36:27 is translated: when He has drawn up the drops of water to Himself, then, etc. But it is יגרע , not גּרע ; and גּרע neither in Hebr. nor in Arab. signifies attrahere in sublime (Rosenm.), but only attrahere (root גר ) and detrahere; the latter signification is the prevailing one in Hebr. (Job 15:8; Job 36:7). With כּי the transcendent exaltation of the Being who survives all changes of creation is shown by an example: He draws away (draws off, as it were) the water-drops, viz., from the waters that are confined above on the circle of the sky, which pass over us as mist and cloud (vid., Genesis, S. 107); and these water-drops distil down ( זקק , to ooze, distil, here not in a transitive but an intransitive signification, since the water-drops are the rain itself) as rain, לאדו , with its mist, i.e., since a mist produced by it (Genesis 2:6) fills the expanse ( רקיע ), the downfall of which is just this rain, which, as Job 36:28 says, the clouds (called שׁחקים on account of its thin strata of air, in distinction from the next mist-circle) cause to flow gently down upon the multitude of men, i.e., far and wide over the mass of men who inhabit the district visited by the rain; both verbs are used transitively here, both נזל as Isaiah 45:8, and רעף , as evidently Proverbs 3:20. אף אם , Job 36:29, commences an intensive question: moreover, could one understand = could one completely understand; which certainly, according to the sense, is equivalent to: how much less ( אף כּי ). אם is, however, the interrogative an, and אף אם corresponds to האף in the first member of the double question, Job 34:17; Job 40:8. מפרשׂי are not the burstings, from &#פּרשׂ פּרס , frangere, findere , but spreadings, as Ezekiel 27:7 shows, from פּרשׂ , expandere , Psalms 105:39, comp. supra on Job 36:9. It is the growth of the storm-clouds, which collect often from a beginning ”small as a man's hand” (1 Kings 18:44), that is intended; majestic omnipotence conceals itself behind these as in a סכּה (Psalms 18:12) woven out of thick branches; and the rolling thunder is here called the crash ( תּשׁאות , as Job 39:7, is formed from שׁוא , to rumble, whence also שׁואה , if it is not after the form גּולה , migration, exile, from שׁאה morf , , vid., on Job 30:3) of this pavilion of clouds in which the Thunderer works.

Verses 30-33

Targ., Syr., Symm., Theod. (from which Job 36:32 is supplied in the lxx),

(Note: Vid., Bickel, De indole ac ratione versionis Alex. in interpretando l. Iobi, p. 50. Cod. Sinait. has, like Cod. Vat.: αναγγελει περι αυτου φιλον (corr. φιλος ) αυτου κς κτησις και περι αδικαις .)

Jer., Luther, and others destroy the idea, since they translate &#רעו רעהוּ , “his friend (companion).” Among moderns, only Umbr. and Schlottm. adopt this signification; Böttch. and Welte, after the example of Cocceius, Tingstad, and others, attempt it with the signification “thought = determination;” but most expositors, from Ew. to Hahn, decide in favour of the rendering as simple as it is consistent with the usage of the language and the connection: His noise ( רעו as Exodus 32:17) gives tidings concerning Him (announces Him). In Job 36:33 Theod. (lxx), Syr., and Jer. point מקנה like our text, but translate possessio , with which we can do nothing. It seems that in the three attempts of the Targ. to translate Job 36:33, the translators had קנאה and קנּא before their mind, according to which Hahn translates: the arousing of anger (announces) the comer, which assumes מקנה instead of מקנה ; and Schlottm.: fierce wrath (goes forth) over evil (according to Symm. ζῆλον περὶ ἀδικίας ), which assumes the reading &#עולה עולה ), ἀδικία , adopted also by Syr., Theod. (lxx). Schultens even renders similarly: rubedinem flammantem nasi contra elatum , and Tingstad: zelum irae in iniquitatem . But it is not probable that the language was acquainted with a subst. מקנה , exciting, although in Ezekiel 8:3 המּקנה is equivalent to המּקניא , so that one might more readily be tempted (vid., Hitz. in loc.) to read מקנה אף , ”one who excites anger against evil,” it one is not willing to decide with Berg, and recently Bleek, in favour of ( &#מקנּה מקנּא אף בּעולה , excandescens (zelans) ira = contra iniquitatem . But does the text as it stands really not give an appropriate idea? Aben-Ezra and Duran have understood it of the foreboding of an approaching thunder-storm which is manifested by cattle, מקנה . Accordingly Ew. translates: His thunder announces Him, the cattle even, that He is approaching; and peculiarly new (understanding יגיד not of a foreboding but of a thankful lowing) is Ebrard's rendering; also the cattle at fresh sprouting grass. But such a change of the position of אף is without precedent. Hirz. and Ges.: His rumble (rumble of thunder) announces Him to the herds, Him, and indeed as Him who rises up (approaches). But this new interpunction destroys the division of the verse and the syntax. Better Rosenm. like Duran: pecus non tantum pluviam proximam, sed et antequam nubes in sublime adscenderint adscensuras prae sagit, according to Virgil, Georg. i. 374f.:

illum (imbrem) surgentem vallibus imis

Aeriae fugere grues .

But עליו refers to God, and therefore על־עולה also, viz., Him who leads forth the storm-clouds (Jeremiah 10:13; Jeremiah 51:16; Psalms 135:7), and Himself rising up in them; or, what עלה frequently signifies, coming on as to battle. It is to be interpreted: His thunder-clap announces Him (who is about to reveal Himself as a merciful judge), the cattle even (announce) Him at His first rising up, since at the approach of a storm they herd together affrighted and seek shelter. The speakers are Arabian, and the scene is laid in the country: Elihu also refers to the animal world in Job 35:11; this feature of the picture, therefore, cannot be surprising.

Copyright Statement
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Job 36". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. 1854-1889.