Job 27:1-23

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Job continued to speak. (27:1)

The words “as God lives” (the “Lord lives” [LXX]) constitute a solemn declaration or oath by which Job expressed his determination to set forth the truth. He believed that God had “taken away” or denied his “judgment,” justice, or right, not dealing with him in a just manner. The Septuagint refers to the Lord as having judged him. Job also spoke of the Almighty as having made his “soul” (or him himself) “bitter,” causing him to lose his property and his children and plaguing him with a loathsome and painful affliction. (27:2)

As long as Job had “breath” within him and the “spirit of God,” or the God-given life breath, in his “nostrils,” he would do what is mentioned in the next verse. The introductory words expressed Job’s solemn resolve to state the truth for as long as he might live. (27:3)

Job had solemnly determined not to speak “unrighteousness” or falsehood (“lawless things” [LXX]) with his lips and not to utter deceit with his tongue. His resolve was to be truthful at all times, never lying and never deceiving others. According to the Septuagint, his “soul” (he himself) would not give thought to “injustices.” For Job, it was unthinkable even to consider his resorting to injustice as an option to attain a particular objective. (27:4)

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had repeatedly claimed that Job’s suffering was a punishment from God for his serious transgressions. In response to this, Job declared that he would not “justify” them or concede that they were right in their assessment of him. Until he died, or as long as he continued to live, he would not “turn aside” his “completeness,” integrity, or innocence from himself. He would continue to insist that he had led an upright or blameless life. (27:5)

Job determined to “hold fast” to his “righteousness” and would not “let it go.” These words reveal that he would persist in clinging to the conviction that he was innocent and in the right when denying that he was suffering because of having made himself guilty of serious wrongdoing. Job’s “heart,” or his inmost self, did not “reproach” or condemn him for any of his days or for the way he had conducted himself during all the time that had passed. According to the Septuagint rendering, Job was not conscious within himself of having engaged in inappropriate practices. (27:6)

Despite the calamities that had befallen him and the affliction he was enduring, Job believed that adverse judgment could befall lawlessness ones. Therefore, he said, “Let my enemy be like the wicked one, and the one rising up against me like the unrighteous one.” He thus expressed his desire that those who were hostile to him would share the same fate as wicked or unrighteous persons. The rendering of the Septuagint focuses on the calamitous outcome to Job’s enemies. “But may my enemies be like the overthrow of impious ones and those rising up against me like the ruin of transgressors.” (27:7)

Job recognized that godless ones were persons without any hope. This is reflected in the rhetorical question, “For what hope” would the godless one have when God “cuts him off, when God takes away his soul [or life]?” In the Septuagint, the question is, “What hope does the impious one have, that he clings [to it]? When he trusts in the Lord, will he be delivered?” Godless persons have no basis for any hope of restoration subsequent to the execution of God’s judgment against them or of deliverance from calamity if they were to cry out to him. (27:8)

When “trouble comes upon” the godless person, “will God hear his cry” for aid? The implied answer to the rhetorical question is, No. (27:9; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

Regarding the godless one, Job raised more rhetorical questions. “Will he take delight in the Almighty? Will he call upon God at all times?” As a transgressor, the godless person would not find any delight in God and would not be in the habit of approaching him in prayer. (27:10; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

Job told Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar that he would “teach” them about the “hand [or power] of God” (“declare to [them] what is in the hand of the Lord” [LXX]) as was evident from his activity. He also would not hide from them (lie regarding [LXX]) “that which [is] with the Almighty.” That which Job would not conceal appears to be what he perceived to be the manner in which God deals. This would be based on what he had personally experienced and also observed in the case of others. (27:11)

Job felt that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had all “seen,” apparently the very things he intended to draw to their attention. Yet, instead of responding to him in keeping with what they had seen, they expressed sentiments that did not apply to him. Job, therefore, raised the question, “Why, then, have you become altogether vain [or men who uttered merely empty words]?” According to the Septuagint rendering, Job told them that they knew they were throwing nothingness upon nothingness, or piling up meaningless comments that did not fit his circumstances. (27:12)

When considered in the context of Job’s expressions, the words indicate that the godless man is not in a secure position and cannot count on escaping punishment for his wrongdoing. Job referred to the “portion of the wicked man” that would come from God and the “inheritance” oppressors (powerful ones [LXX]) would receive “from the Almighty.” That “portion” or “inheritance” is punitive judgment. (27:13)

Adverse judgment from God could impact the sons or children of a wicked man. Although he might come to have numerous sons or children, a “sword” could be in store for them, ending their life. They also could come to be in poverty and “not be satisfied with bread,” experiencing severe hunger. The Septuagint says that the sons would be slaughtered and, if they did reach adulthood, would be beggars. (27:14)

The expression “in death” probably means “by plague.” As applying to the sons that survive the death of the wicked man and any siblings, they would be buried as persons who had died from “plague” or pestilence. Their widows would not lament their death. According to the Septuagint, no one would pity their widows. (27:15)

A godless man may prosper, piling up “silver like dust” and “clothing [gold (LXX)] like clay.” Anciently, the possession of many garments was a sign of wealth. So the accumulation of garments or gold basically has the same significance. (27:16)

In the final outcome, the upright person may end up wearing the garment of the godless man, and the “innocent one will share the silver.” The Septuagint says that the “righteous” or upright ones “will gain” all the things of the impious one, and the “true ones” or honest persons “will possess his goods.” (27:17)

The godless man “builds his house like a moth and like a booth that a watchman makes.” A “house like a moth” may designate the case that a clothes moth caterpillar makes from fibers of the material on which it feeds. The booths or simple shelters for watchmen in fields and vineyards were commonly constructed of tree branches and leaves. Accordingly, what the godless man built was fragile and would not endure. (27:18; see the Notes section.)

The wealth of a godless man can be very transitory. He may lie down to sleep and, upon awakening, may have nothing to gather. Upon opening his eyes, he may find that he possessions are gone. According to the Septuagint, the impious man may lie down rich but does not add to his wealth. The concluding phrase, according to the way Origen marked it in the third century CE, is added from the version of Theodotion. The added text may be rendered, “He opened his eyes, and he is not [rich].” (27:19)

“Terrors” may overtake the godless man “like a deluge,” or suddenly like a flash flood. “In the night,” a strong wind may carry him off. His end may come as by a flash flood or as by a powerful wind that leaves behind a path of destruction. In both cases, the ruin comes about suddenly and unexpectedly. According to the Septuagint, “pains,” like “water” (as from a flood), met up with the impious man, overwhelming him. In the “night,” dense darkness “took him away,” This could mean that the calamity that ended his life occurred under the cover of darkness. (27:20)

The swift end of the godless man is likened to his being carried off by the east wind — a scorching wind from the desert — and going away. This wind is represented as whirling him “from his place.” (27:21; see the Notes section.)

The east wind may be represented as hurling itself against the wicked man without compassion or restraint. He would try to run away from its “hand” or power, but the implication is that he would not succeed. The words of this verse have also been interpreted in a way that does not apply to the east wind. “Pitilessly he [the wicked man] is turned into a target, and forced to flee from the hands that menace him.” (NJB) (27:22)

It may be that the wind is here personified and represented as clapping its “hands” at the lawless man and “whistling at him” scornfully “from its place.” Another possible meaning is that the one or ones seeing deserved punishment inflicted on the wicked man would rejoice that his end had come and that he would no longer be able to engage in acts of oppression and injustice. This would give rise to the clapping of the hands and the whistling. Both meanings are found in modern translations. “It [the east wind] claps its hands at him and whistles at him from its place.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition]) “At last, the wind will celebrate because they [the wicked] are gone.” (CEV) “His downfall is greeted with applause, and he is hissed wherever he goes.” (NJB) (27:23; see the Notes section.)


In verse 9, the initial question found in the Septuagint is, “Will the Lord listen to his supplication [the supplication of the godless one]?” The phrase that ends the question in the extant Hebrew text starts the question that is completed in the next verse. “Or when distress comes upon him, does he have any confidence before [God]?” No godless person could be confident that God would come to his aid during his time of distress.

According to the Septuagint rendering of verse 10, the implied answer to the second question would be that God will not listen to the impious one when that one calls upon him.

The Septuagint rendering of verse 18 could be understood to say that the house of the impious man is like that of a moth (the case the clothes moth caterpillar makes from fibers of the material on which it feeds) and like that of a spider (a spider’s web).

From verse 21 to the end of the chapter, no part of the wording that corresponds to the extant Hebrew text was found in the Septuagint that was available to Origen in the third century CE. He added the words from the version of Theodotion and marked them accordingly. The Greek text of Theodotion reads much like the extant Hebrew text.

In verse 23, the Masoretic Text says, “their hands at them” (not “his hands at him”). This is also the reading found in the critical edition of the Göttingen Septuagint and in translations based on this Greek text.