Job 17:1-16

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Job’s “spirit” was “broken,” crushed, or reduced to a state of ruin. This may be understood to mean that his mental outlook was one of hopelessness. His “days” were “extinguished,” indicating that the remaining time of his life was quickly drawing to a close. Job perceived that only the grave lay ahead for him. (17:1)

Both the Hebrew and Greek words for “spirit” can also mean “wind,” and this is the apparent meaning in the Septuagint. Instead of referring to Job’s spirit, the Septuagint has Job saying that he is “destroyed,” being carried away by “wind.” This suggests that Job thought of himself as having been broken into small pieces which the wind could readily blow away. Although he pleaded “for burial,” he did “not find it.” He continued to live in a severely afflicted condition. (17:1)

Job was faced with repeated expressions of mockery or ridicule. They surrounded him. His “eye” continued to see manifestations of rebellion as would a man dwelling among rebels. According to the Septuagint, Job appears to have prayed to the point of being “weary.” This thought is followed by his question, “And what have I done?” The question could suggest that Job was not aware of anything that would have caused God not to respond to his petitions and, therefore, he wondered what he had done that could account for his receiving no answer. Another possibility is that Job may have been asking what he had accomplished with all his prayers. (17:2)

The opening imperative sim basically means “put.” That which is to be “put” or “laid down” is not stated, but the next imperative provides the needed clarification (“go surety for me with yourself”). Accordingly, the reference is to laying down or giving a pledge and thereby becoming the guarantor. Job’s apparent appeal was for God to function as his guarantor, with the possible reason being for Job to establish his innocence. Neither his companions nor any other human would be willing to function as a guarantor for him. This appears to be the implied sense of the rhetorical question, “Who [is] he [who] will strike himself into my hand” (shake his hand with mine to go surety for me)? (17:3; regarding the Septuagint rendering the Notes section.)

With apparent reference to God, Job said, “For you have hidden” or “closed their heart from insight.” “Their heart” appears to designate the reasoning faculties of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. The wrong evaluation of Job in his state of affliction revealed that their reasoning faculties were closed to sound understanding. “Therefore,” God, as Job appears to have pleaded, would not “exalt” them as the wise men they regarded themselves to be. (17:4; see the Notes section.)

The opening phrase could be rendered, “He tells on companions for a portion” or a share. This appears to describe the action of an informer who is willing to betray his companions or friends for gain. Possibly Job is likening Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar to such informers because of the hateful ways in which they had expressed themselves to him, condemning him as a wrongdoer who deserved the calamities and suffering that had befallen him. The punishment for such a disloyal informer is, The “eyes of his sons” or children “will fail.” His offspring would be reduced to a state comparable to blindness. (17:5; see the Notes section.)

Job believed that God was responsible for all the calamities that had befallen him. Therefore, he spoke of God as having made him a “byword of peoples” or caused his name to be used in expressions of mockery. Job had become a man in whose face others spit. This was an act of extreme contempt. According to the Septuagint rendering, Job had become a “laughingstock” among peoples. There is no mention of spitting. (17:6)

Job’s words about his sight could be translated, “My eye has become dim from grief [ká‘as].” This could mean that his vision had been impaired from the grief or vexation he had experienced on account of his losses and his diseased condition. In other contexts, the Hebrew word ká‘as can denote “anger. This is how the term is rendered in the Septuagint. “My eyes have become dim from anger.” If “anger” is the correct sense, the reference could be to the divine anger that Job believed to have been expressed against him. (17:7)

Physically, Job had been reduced to an emaciated state, with all of his “members” or “limbs” having become “like a shadow.” There is no reference to this in the Septuagint. It represents Job as considering himself under attack. “I am greatly besieged by everyone.” (17:7)

“At this” (Job’s distressing situation according to the preceding words), “upright persons are appalled,” astonished, dazed, or bewildered. It is not something that they can understand. Nevertheless, Job represented them as not siding with those who were attacking him. This appears to be the thought he expressed when saying, “An innocent man arouses himself against a profane [or godless] man.” In the Contemporary English Version, the words are interpretively rendered to portray Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar in unfavorable light. “People who are truly good would feel so alarmed, that they would become angry at my worthless friends.” The rendering of the Septuagint does not support this specific meaning. It reads, “May the righteous one rise up against the transgressor” or “lawbreaker.” (17:8)

The righteous man would “hold to his way.” Despite what had befallen him, Job believed that righteous persons would not deviate from the right course they had been pursuing. The man with “clean hands,” one who had not defiled himself with corrupt or oppressive practices, would increase in “strength” (“take courage” [LXX]), becoming ever stronger in his resolve to live uprightly. (17:9)

Two different readings are found in the Hebrew manuscripts for the opening words of verse 10 (“but all of them” and “but all of you”). Though supported by only a few manuscripts, the reading “but all of you” fits the context better. It appears that Job told his companions to “come on again,” resuming their attacks against him. Nevertheless, he would not “find a wise man” among them. According to the Septuagint, he would not find “truth” in them. Their expressions would be erroneous, not applying in Job’s case. (17:10; for additional comments about the Septuagint rendering, see the Notes section.)

Job thought of his life as coming to a close. His “days” had “passed. His “plans” were “torn apart” or shattered — the “desires” of his “heart.” Whatever plans he might have had, whatever he desired, had come to nothingness, leaving him in a hopeless state. The Septuagint rendering could be understood to indicate that Job’s days passed “in groaning” and that his “heartstrings” had been broken, indicating that he suffered great physical and emotional pain. (17:11)

It may be that Job referred to Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar as having made “night” into “day,” with “light” being “near to darkness.” In his state of affliction, Job found himself in a state of gloom, comparable to a dark night. Certain comments of the three companions suggested or implied that, if Job repented of his wrong ways, darkness would be followed by “light” or bright prospects would be near to his previous darkness. Their words, however, brought no comfort to Job but were comparable to their declaring “night” to be “day.” (17:12; see the Notes section.)

If Job “waited” or kept on enduring, his final “house” or dwelling place would still be “Sheol,” “Hades” (LXX), or the realm of the dead. He had no hope of a brighter future. In the “darkness” of the realm of the dead, Job would spread his couch as if lying down to rest in the sleep of death. (17:13)

In the realm of the dead, Job would have no parents to whom he could direct his words or who could comfort him. He expressed his hopelessness by calling the “pit,” or his future grave, “my father.” To the “worm” or “maggot” (a collective singular) that would be feeding on his corpse, he said, “my mother and my sister.” According to the Septuagint, Job called upon death to be his “father” and decay to be his “mother and sister.” (17:14)

With his only perceived future being the realm of the dead, Job asked, “And where then [is] my hope? And my hope — who will see it?” As far as he was concerned, there was no hope for him, and no one could see a nonexistent hope. In the Septuagint, there is no reference to seeing Job’s hope. It represents him as saying, “Will I see my good things” or “goods?” Job, as a man who believed that he was about to enter the realm of the dead, had no hope of ever seeing his “good things.” (17:15)

Job envisioned Sheol or the realm of the dead as a permanent place of confinement like a place with “bars.” There, to the “bars of Sheol,” “they” (the “hope” about which Job asked where it was, and the “hope” about which he asked who “will see it”) would descend. In the Septuagint, the question is whether his “good things” or goods would descend with him into Hades. The extant Hebrew text concludes with the thought about whether the descent to “dust,” to “quietness” (or to the rest of death), would be “together.” Origen, in the third century CE, did not find any corresponding words in the Septuagint available to him. He added them from the version of Theodotion and marked the following addition to indicate this, “Or will we descend together to the mound” or the burial place? (17:16)


The Septuagint rendering of the words in verse 3 departs significantly from the extant Hebrew text. It reads, “And strangers have stolen my possessions.” According to the prologue (1:14, 25, 17), marauders had seized Job’s bovines, female donkeys, and camels. The added words from the version of Theodotion (as Origen [in the third century CE] identified them with marks) have no relationship to this development (“Who is this one? Let him be joined to my hand.”)

The words of verse 4 were not found in the Septuagint available to Origen in the third century CE. He added them from the version of Theodotion and marked the addition accordingly. The added words are virtually identical to those of the extant Hebrew text. “For you have hidden their heart from insight; therefore, you will by no means exalt them.” The expression “by no means” preserves the emphatic sense of the two Greek words for “not.”

Verse 5 of the Septuagint opens with a phrase that Origen supplied from the version of Theodotion and marked accordingly. This phrase could be rendered, “He will announce evils in part” or “to the party.” The next phrase is found in the Septuagint. It relates to the effect the loss of Job’s sons or children had on him. “My eyes were melted away over [my] sons.” The thought could be that he wept so much that his eyes seemed to be dissolving with tears.

A possible meaning for the opening words of verse 10 in the Septuagint is that Job told his three companions to “fix themselves firmly” in their views. The next phrase (“and come indeed”) is, according to Origen (in the third century CE), added from the version of Theodotion.

The words of verse 12 were not found in the Septuagint available to Origen in the third century CE. He added them from the version of Theodotion and marked the addition accordingly. The Greek rendering reads much like the extant Hebrew text. “They have made night into day. Light [is] near, away from the face of darkness.”