Job 13:1-28

Submitted by admin on Wed, 2014-12-03 16:05.

Posted in | printer-friendly version »

Job’s comments were based on what his “eye” had seen and what his “ear” had heard and which it had considered or understood. Therefore, he did not doubt the validity of his expressions, especially since he understood what he had heard and had given consideration to it. (13:1; see the Notes section.)

Job did not view Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar as being superior to him, telling them that he knew what they knew. He was not inferior or, according to the Septuagint, inferior to them in understanding or good sense. (13:2; see the Notes section.)

Job was in no uncertainty about his having lived an upright life. Therefore, he indicated that he was willing to “speak to the Almighty” and that he would be pleased to argue with him or to present his case before him. The Septuagint indicates that, if God were willing, Job would present proofs before him, apparently regarding his innocence. (13:3)

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had drawn the wrong conclusions about Job, maintaining that the calamities which had befallen him resulted from the serious sins he had committed. Therefore, he referred to them as persons who were “smearing” or “plastering” with falsehood. In their view, their utterances were like medicinal balm that needed to be applied to Job, but their expressions were the wrong medicine (falsehood or misrepresentation). They had failed to give him comfort and so, as Job said, all of them were worthless or valueless physicians. The Septuagint refers to them as unjust or unfair physicians and as healers of the wrong things. (13:4)

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar erred greatly in their claims about the reason for Job’s suffering. This prompted him to tell them that it would have been wisdom on their part if they had remained silent. Their silence would have meant that they would not have been accusing him falsely of wrongdoing. (13:5)

Job asked Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad to listen to him. “Hear now my reproof” (the “reproof of my mouth” [LXX]) or argument (the proof or evidence he was about to present to refute their assertions). The parallel expression is, “and give attention to the pleadings [judgment or decision (LXX)] of my lips.” (13:6)

With their words, Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad had represented God as rightfully punishing Job for serious transgressions. Job, however, knew that he had lived an upright life. This meant that the manner in which his companions defended God and misrepresented Job was unjust and deceitful. Therefore, he raised the rhetorical questions, “Will you speak injustice for God? And will you speak deceit for him?” (13:7; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

Job felt that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had sided against him but with God. This prompted the rhetorical question, “Will you lift up [be partial] for him, or will you plead for God?” The question indicated that the three companions were guilty of partiality while endeavoring to make their case for the Almighty in his treatment of Job. (13:8; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

Job was certain that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were wrong in attributing gross sins to him to explain the calamities he had experienced. He concluded that this would not be pleasing to God. Therefore, Job asked them whether it would turn out well for them if God searched them out or examined them, or if they could deceive him as one might deceive a “mortal” or a “mortal man.” (13:9; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

“If in secret,” or unobserved by other people, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were to “show partiality” (literally, “lift up faces”), God would “rebuke” them. In the Hebrew text, two verb forms of the word for “rebuke” are found and, to express the emphatic sense, may be rendered “surely rebuke.” (13:10; for the Septuagint rendering, see the Notes section regarding verses 9 through 11.)

In connection with the previous verse, the rhetorical question points to the result for showing favortism. The very thing of which Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had made themselves guilty when thinking they were advocating for God when wrongly attributing Job’s calamity to his having committed serious transgressions. “Will not [God’s] majesty terrify you, and the dread of him fall upon you?” The question indicated that fear would seize Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar for having incurred God’s anger for having attacked Job with their hurtful words and gross misrepresentations. (13:11)

Job referred to the arguments that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had presented as worthless, calling their “reminders” or maxims “proverbs of ashes” (sayings as valueless as ashes) and their defenses (bosses of a shield) “defenses of clay,” weak and unsubstantial. According to the Septuagint, their “pride” would be “equal to ashes,” being transformed into shame, and the body to clay. (13:12)

Job wanted Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar to be silent, letting him speak. Then, after expressing himself, Job was willing to accept whatever might come upon him. According to the Septuagint, their being silent would make it possible for him to have his say and to quiet or calm his fury. (13:13)

Job had directed his complaint against God. This is the apparent reason for the rhetorical question. “Why should I take my flesh in my teeth and put my soul [or life] in my hand [or palm]?” The two parallel expressions appear to have the same meaning — Why would Job be willing to risk his life to make his complaint and to defend his innocence before God? Possibly the words about taking his flesh in his teeth are based on the situation of an animal caught in the teeth of a predator. There would be little chance for the animal to break free and escape death. (13:14)

In the Septuagint, the words are not framed as a question. It reads, “Having taken my flesh [in my] teeth, I will even put my soul in [my] hand.” This rendering suggests that Job was prepared to risk everything — his flesh and his soul, life, or very being. (13:14)

Job was willing to accept the consequences for making accusations against God and arguing for his own innocence. Depending on which reading of the Hebrew text is followed, the initial phrase may be rendered differently. “Look! He will slay me; I will not wait.” This could mean that, even if God were to slay him, Job would not wait to speak out in his own defense. Another reading is, “I will wait for him.” This could signify that, even if God would slay him, he would still wait for him or not give up his hope or trust in him. Job is then quoted as expressing his determination to argue before God. “Yet I will defend my ways to his face.” He would argue that he had lived uprightly. (13:15)

The rendering of the Septuagint differs somewhat from the extant Hebrew text. “Although the Mighty One may lay hand on me, even as he has begun, I will indeed speak and present proof before him,” with Job’s apparent purpose being to establish his own innocence when arguing his case. (13:15)

Believing in his own uprightness, Job felt that “indeed this” (his willingness to make his defense) would be his “salvation” or deliverance from the dire consequences that could befall him for confronting God. This is because “no profane” or impious man could come before him or would risk doing so. According to the Septuagint, “deceit” could not enter “before him.” Job felt that God would recognize his blamelessness because of his being prepared for a confrontation. (13:16)

The imperative “listen” is made emphatic through the repetition of two forms of the verb (“listen to listen” [but “listen, listen” in the Septuagint]) and may be rendered “listen intently,” closely, or carefully. Job called upon Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar to listen to his “words” and his “declaration” or “announcement” that would be entering their “ears.” The Septuagint concludes the verse with the phrase, “for I will announce [in] your hearing.” (13:17)

“Look!” Thus Job focused attention on what he was about to say and then added that he had “arranged” or “set in order” his “judgment” or case. There was no uncertainty on Job’s part about the rightness of his position. “I know that I am righteous” or in the right (“will be revealed to be righteous” or in the right [LXX]). (13:18)

So sure was Job of his being in the right that he could ask, “Who is he who will contend with me” (or attempt to challenge my claim to be right)? If there were someone who would do so and prove him to be wrong, Job “would be silent and expire.” This could mean that he would accept the judgment and resign himself to breathe his last without personally having been vindicated. (13:19; see the Notes section about the concluding phrase in the Septuagint.)

Job directed his words to God, requesting that he not do “two things” to him. These “two things” are identified in the next verse. With the “two things” being things he would not have to face, Job would not hide himself from the “face” or presence of God. (13:20; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

The “two things” referred to in verse 20 are identified. (1) Job wanted God to withdraw his “hand” far from him, and (2) he did not want to be terrified by the “fright” of God. This indicated that Job desired to be granted respite from his affliction and to be free to express himself without having to be terrified by the fright that had God as its source. (13:21)

In order that he might be heard, Job offered the Almighty two options. He could call or summon him, and Job would answer. Or God could let Job speak and then reply to him. The Septuagint expresses the two options somewhat differently. “You will call, but I will listen to [or obey] you; or you will speak, but I will give you an answer.” (13:22)

Job directed a question to the Almighty. “How many [are my] iniquities [sins (LXX)] and sins [my deeds of lawlessness (LXX)]?” This question implied that Job was unaware of having committed many serious sins. He wanted to know wherein he had erred, saying, “Make me know my transgression and my sin.” The Septuagint rendering is, “Teach me what they [the sins and the deeds of lawlessness Job had presumably committed] are.” (13:23)

Job could not understand why God hid his face from him, not giving him any favorable attention but becoming hostile, and reckoned him as his enemy. Believing that the Almighty had brought calamities upon him, Job thought of himself as being treated as a man who opposed him. (13:24)

In a rhetorical question directed to God, Job likened himself to a windblown leaf and dry chaff — things that merited no attention and which are unable to resist the force that is directed against them. “Will you frighten a driven leaf, and will you chase dry chaff?” In this manner, Job appears to have represented himself as helpless and powerless before God, the one whom he believed to have unleashed his great fury against him. (13:25; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

Job referred to God as writing “bitter things” against him. This suggests that he perceived the Almighty as continuing to make a record of the injurious things that he purposed for him to experience. In the Septuagint, however, the writing is represented as a past event. Job appears to have been aware of wrongs he may have committed in his youth, but what troubled him is that the calamities that had befallen him and the suffering that he was still enduring seemed too excessive of a punishment for those sins. It was as if God had caused him to “inherit” (surrounded him with [LXX]) to an extreme degree the consequences of the wrongs of his youth. (13:26)

Job felt that God treated him like a prisoner under constant surveillance. He portrayed the Almighty as having confined his feet in stocks and watching all his ways or everything he did (his “works” [LXX]). Both the Hebrew text and the Septuagint use the expression the “roots of my feet,” probably meaning the “soles of my feet.” The Hebrew text indicates that God set a limit for the “roots” of Job’s feet. This could mean that Job considered himself completely hemmed in. According to the Septuagint, God had “reached” the “roots” or soles of Job’s feet, and this may denote that God had afflicted him from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. (13:27)

Either Job likened himself or man generally to a “rotten thing” that wastes away (wearing out like a wineskin [LXX]) and to a garment that is eaten by moths. The thought appears to be that there was no good reason for God to focus attention on such a frail creature. (13:28)


With reference to the hearing of the ear in verse 1, the Septuagint does not include any corresponding expression for “considered it” or “understood it.”

In verse 2, the Hebrew expression commonly rendered “not inferior to you” may be literally translated “not falling from you.” It denotes that Job did not fall to a lower position in relation to Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.

In the Septuagint rendering of verse 7, the reference is to speaking before the Lord, but no mention is made of “injustice.” The concluding part of the verse, however, refers to uttering “deceit before him.”

In verse 8, the thought expressed in the Septuagint does not correspond to the reading of the extant Hebrew text. Job asked his three companions, “Will you draw back? You yourselves, however, become judges.” Possibly in connection with verse 7, this could mean that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were being asked whether they would stop coming to the defense of God. The thought about being judges could indicate that they should judge Job impartially after no longer coming to God’s defense.

The Septuagint rendering of verse 9 represents Job as saying that it would be good if God were to search them out or to examine them. This is followed by a phrase that is completed in verse 10 and which phrase could be translated, “For, if doing all these things, you will be joined to him, he nevertheless will rebuke you.” Possibly the thought is that despite their doing everything to place themselves on God’s side and thus to become joined to him, he would rebuke Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar for wrongfully attacking Job with their words.

In verse 10, the concluding phrase in the Septuagint starts a question that is completed in verse 11. The initial part of this question reads, “If, however, even secretly you will show partiality [literally, you will admire faces], …”

In the Septuagint, the question that began in verse 10 is completed in verse 11, “…will not his terrors distress you, and fear from him fall upon you?” The rhetorical question indicated that the showing of partiality (as had Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar when responding to Job’s suffering by censuring him) would lead to God’s displeasure, resulting in great fear to anyone against whom it was expressed.

Origen (in the third century CE) did not find the words that conclude verse 19 in the Septuagint text available to him. He added them from the version of Theodotion (“for now I will be silent and expire”) and marked the addition accordingly.

In verse 20, the Septuagint rendering is much like the extant Hebrew text. “Two things you should deal to me” or grant me. The concluding phrase was not found in the Septuagint text available to Origen (in the third century CE). He added it from the version of Theodotion (“then I will not hide from your face”) and marked the addition accordingly.

In verse 25, the Septuagint rendering is more explicit than the Hebrew text in identifying Job as the one to whom the words applied. “Or will you be wary [of me] like a leaf agitated by a breeze? Or do you oppose me like grass carried by the wind?” A windblown leaf would not be something about which one would need to be cautious and there would be no point in fighting dry grass that is being carried away by the wind. So Job may be regarded as implying that there was no reason for God to treat him as he did.