Job 42:1-17

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The words that precede Job’s reply to YHWH are the same as those for earlier responses. (3:2; 16:1; 19:1; 21:1; 23:1; 26:1; 40:3) “And Job answered YHWH and said.” In the Septuagint, the introductory words are, “But responding, Job said to the Lord.” The Qumran Targum of Job (as translated by Geza Vermes) reads, “Job answered and said before God.” (42:1)

Job acknowledged that he had come to know that YHWH can do “all things,” with the implication being that this included everything that humans could not do. Nothing that YHWH purposed was unattainable for him nor could it be thwarted. According to the Septuagint, nothing is impossible for him. The Qumran Targum of Job (as translated by Geza Vermes) says that God does “not lack in strength and wisdom.” (42:2)

Job basically quoted the question that YHWH had asked him earlier. (38:2) “Who [is] this [who is] darkening” or obscuring “counsel without knowledge?” As previously, this question may pertain to God’s purpose in the exercise of his sovereign will. Lacking in the essential knowledge to make a just evaluation, Job had spoken words that “darkened” or obscured the counsel or purpose of God, concealing that it was right and just. In ignorance and error, Job had claimed that God’s dealings with him were unjust. At this point, Job recognized that he had talked but did so without understanding things that were “too wonderful” for him or far beyond what he then understood. They were things that he “did not know.” (42:3; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

It seems that Job again quoted words that YHWH had previously spoken to him. (38:3; 40:7) He had been invited to hear what YHWH would say and been told by him, “And I will speak. I will question you, and you declare to me.” If Job could do so, he was then to answer the questions that had been directed to him. According to the Septuagint rendering, Job addressed God with the words of this verse. “And listen to me, Lord, that I also may speak. And I will question you; but you, teach me.” (42:4)

With reference to his past view of God, Job thought of it as merely a “hearing of the ear” or a report about God that he had heard. Based on his experience and the expressions of YHWH that emphasized how great the limits of his own understanding were, Job came to have a clearer vision of YHWH. This prompted him to say, “And now my eye sees you.” In the past, all that Job represented himself as having was a report, but what had been revealed to him was comparable to having a firsthand experience with God as if seeing him face-to-face. (42:5)

Upon having come to see just how great the limits of his knowledge were and his error in having attributed injustice to God, Job said, “Therefore, I despise myself [ma’ás] and repent in dust and ashes.” The Hebrew word ma’ás may either mean “despise” or “reject,” with “despise (“despise myself”) having the support of the Septuagint rendering. If the significance of ma’ás here is “reject,” this could mean that Job repudiated his previous contention about what he had represented as God’s unjust treatment of him. The meaning “despise” would indicate that Job hated himself for the wrong view that he had expressed. He repented or regretted that he had spoken about God as he had. In this context, the link of repentance to “dust and ashes” appears to denote how greatly Job regretted what he had attributed to God. One of the outward manifestations of repentance among the ancients was to sit in dust and ashes. (Compare Jonah 3:6.) According to the Septuagint rendering, Job regarded himself “as dust [literally, earth] and ashes.” (42:6; see the Notes section.)

After YHWH had spoken to Job, he directed his words to Eliphaz the Temanite who may have been the oldest or most prominent one of Job’s three companions. “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two companions, for you have not spoken of me what is right as has my servant Job.” All three men had maintained that God was punishing Job for his serious transgressions. As this was not the case, they had misrepresented God. Job, on the other hand, had insisted that he had lived an upright life and was not guilty of concealing the practice of evil deeds. From this standpoint, he had not misrepresented God as the one punishing him for corrupt actions and, therefore, had expressed what was right respecting God. According to the Septuagint, Eliphaz was told that he had “sinned” and so had his two friends. The Greek text then identifies the nature of the sin, “for you have not spoken anything true before me as has my servant Job.” (42:7; also see the comments on 2:11 and 4:1.)

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were instructed to take seven bulls and seven rams and then to go to Job, for the purpose of offering the animals as a sacrifice for them. According to the Septuagint, Job is the one who would offer the sacrifice. The word of YHWH continued, “And Job my servant will pray for you, for his face I will lift up” (or accept him with approval) so as “not to deal with you” according to your “senselessness [nevaláh], for you have not spoken of me what is right as [has] my servant Job.” The context is not clear in how the Hebrew word nevaláh, meaning “senselessness,” is to be linked to the rest of the sentence. This has given rise to a variety of interpretive renderings. “… his prayer I will accept, not to punish you severely.” (NAB) “… to him I will show favor and not treat you vilely.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition]) “After this, Job will pray, and I will agree not to punish you for your foolishness.” (CEV) “I shall surely show him favor by not being harsh with you.” (REB) “I shall show him favour and shall not inflict my displeasure on you.” (NJB) The Septuagint says that, if it had not been for Job, God would have destroyed Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, for they had spoken what was not true against his servant Job. (42:8; see the Notes section.)

Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad theShuhite, and Zophar the Naamahtite went to Job and did what YHWH had told them to do. “YHWH lifted up the face of Job” or accepted his prayer with approval. The Septuagint rendering indicates that, on Job’s account, God “forgave” (literally, loosed) their sin. (42:9)

After Job had prayed for his companions, YHWH restored his fortunes, giving him twice as much as he had before he suffered calamities. The Septuagint says that the “Lord” granted Job increase. “And when Job also prayed for his friends,” God forgave them their sin. The “Lord” gave Job twice what he had before, doubling everything. (42:10)

“All of Job’s brothers and all of his sisters came to him,” as did all his former acquaintances, and “ate bread with him in his house.” The Septuagint adds that they came in response to their having heard about what had happened to Job. Their partaking of a meal with him at his home indicated that Job enjoyed fully restored fellowship with them. Those who came showed him sympathy and comforted him “for all the evil that YHWH had brought upon him.” The Septuagint indicates that they comforted Job when they were eating and drinking with him. Each of them gave him a qesitáh (a female “lamb” [LXX]) and a ring of gold (“uncoined gold worth four drachmas” [a possible meaning of the LXX rendering]). There is uncertainty about what qesitáh means. The Hebrew word could have designated a weight or a unit of value. (42:11)

YHWH blessed Job after his distress had ended (the “latter end” [LXX]) more than had been the case at the “beginning” or before he experienced calamity and suffering. Job came to have 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of bovines, and 1,000 [“grazing” [LXX]) female donkeys. (42:12; see the Notes section.)

Seven sons and three daughters were born to Job. (42:13) Whereas the emphasis previously had been on the sons, this time the focus was on the daughters. Only their names were included in the account. Job named his first daughter Jemimah (“Day” [LXX]); the second, Keziah (“Cassia” [LXX]), and the third, Keren-happuch (“Horn of Amaltheia” [LXX]) The Septuagint rendering suggests that the first daughter was like the dawning of a new day for Job, but the name Jemimah may mean “little dove” and would be a designation of endearment. Keziah is thought to mean “cassia,” as is the Septuagint rendering. This name identified the second daughter as being like a delightful fragrant substance. The possible meaning of Keren-happuch is “horn of black paint.” This could apply to a “horn” or container for eye makeup. The Greek name “Horn of Amaltheia” designates the “Horn of Plenty” (Cornucopia). In one version of Greek mythology, Amaltheia was the goat that nourished the newly born god Zeus. One day, while the young Zeus was playing with Amaltheia, he inadvertently broke off her horn. Out of gratitude, he blessed the horn and made it into the “Horn of Plenty.” (42:14)

“In all the land,” no women were as beautiful as the daughters of Job, and he gave them an inheritance among their brothers. That Jemimah, Keziah, and Keren-happuch received an inheritance was an exception at the time, for sons commonly were the sole heirs. (42:15)

The emphasis on the daughters and their beauty appears to contrast the life of Job before the calamities that befell him and his life after the suffering ended. Job’s earlier actions and expressions may indicate that he feared reverses might befall him and his family. (1:5; 3:25) Although portrayed as prosperous, he is not depicted as experiencing the kind of security that comes from recognizing God as a loving Father and being in possession of true inner joy. The names Job gave to his daughters and the appreciation he had for them suggest that he came to have great joy. He had benefited from the calamity that had befallen him, for he had come to know the limits of his own knowledge and been made fully aware of the greatness of YHWH, the God without these limits and, therefore, the One in whose hands he was secure.

After his fortunes were restored, Job lived 140 years. The Septuagint says that he lived 170 years “after the blow” or misfortune and that all the years of his life amounted to 248 (240 [according to Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus]). During his long life, Job saw “his sons and his sons’ sons — four generations.” (42:16; see the Notes section.) He died, “old and full of days,” or as a man who lived a long and contented life. (42:17; see the Notes section.)

The Septuagint includes an epilogue that is not found in the extant Hebrew text. “And it is written that [Job] will rise again” (or will be resurrected) “with the ones the Lord raises up.” (42:17a) According to the epilogue, “this” (which could be understood to apply to the book of Job) “is translated from the Syriac book.” Job lived “in the land of Ausitis [Uz] on the borders of Idumea and Arabia, and previously he had the name Jobab [Iobab].” (42:17b) By his Arabian wife, he had a son named Ennon. Job’s father was “Zare [Zerah], a son of the sons of Esau,” and his mother was Bosorra. In the line of descent from Abraam (Abraham), Job was the “fifth.” (42:17c)

It may be because the Septuagint translator thought Job to have been Jobab that he included words from Genesis 36:31-35. The name Bosorra (Bozrah [Hebrew text]) for Job’s mother is the name of the city in Genesis 36:33. “And these [are] the kings who reigned in Edom, which country he [Iobab (Jobab) or Iob (Job)] also ruled: First Balak [Bela (Hebrew text of Genesis 36:32)] the [son] of Beor, and the name of his city [was] Dennaba [Dinhabah (Hebrew text of Genesis 36:32)], and after Balak [Bela (Hebrew text of Genesis 36:33)], Iobab [Jobab], the one called Iob [Job]; and after him, Hasom [Husham (Hebrew text of Genesis 36:34)], being the ruler from the Thaimanite [Temanite] country; and after him, Hadad son of Barad [Hadad son of Bedad (Hebrew text of Genesis 36:35)] who cut down Madiam [Midian] in the plain of Moab, and the name of his city [was] Geththaim [Avith (Hebrew text of Genesis 36:35)].” (42:17d)

“But the friends who came to him [were]: Eliphas [Eliphaz], of the sons of Esau, king of the Thaimanites [Temanites]; Baldad [Bildad], the dominator of the Sauchites; Sophar [Zophar], king of the Minaeans,” an Arab people that may have descended from one of Abraham’s sons by Keturah. (42:17e)

Notes

In verse 3, the Septuagint rendering differs somewhat from the extant Hebrew text. “For who is the one hiding counsel from you and holding back words, and thinks to hide [them] from you?” This rendering suggests that the one hiding counsel is sparing in what he does reveal and thus imagines he can hide from God the words he does not utter. The verse continues, “But who will declare to me things I did not know, great and marvelous things I did not comprehend?”

The initial phrase of the Septuagint rendering of verse 6 is, “Therefore, I despised myself and was dissolved.” The Greek word that may be rendered dissolved may refer to being brought to the humbled state of a man who came to recognize that he did not know what he previously thought he did. The Qumran Targum of Job (as translated by Geza Vermes) says, “Therefore I am melting and dissolve and become dust and ashes.”

The marks of Origen indicate that (in verse 8) the Greek phrase that may be translated “for only his face will I accept” was added from the version of Theodotion.

A fragment of the Greek text that includes words found in Job 42:11, 12, contains the divine name in ancient Hebrew script. (“But YHWH blessed …” [42:12]) This fragment (POxy 3522) is believed to date from the first century CE.

According to the marks of Origen, the Greek wording of the concluding phrase of verse 16 about seeing his “sons and the sons of his sons” was added from the version of Theodotion.

The marks of Origen indicate that the Greek wording that corresponds to the Hebrew text of verse 17 was added from the version of Theodotion.