Day 20. A week to go before we possibly move from Level 4. Just a translation from Job 12 today and some brief musings.
12:1 And Job answered, saying:
2 “Truly, that you [are] people,
And with you wisdom will die.
3 Furthermore I have a mind (heart) like you,
I am not fallen [behind] from you.
4 I am a joke (lit: laugh) to [my] friends, (I) who called to God and He answered me,
A just and blameless joke.
- Job closes the first round of speeches with a lengthy reply to his friends (God is addressed as third person, e.g. verse 4).
- Verse 2 is a sarcastic retort to his friends, though the rest seems to be genuine sorrow.
- There’s a strange oddity in the Hebrew text where it literally reads “A laugh to his friends am I”. The scribes seem happy to have preserved this grammatical discrepancy, but probably “my friends” is what’s meant.
- Verse 4 is striking – Job describes himself the same way that the narrator does (1:2). But He vents that his just and blameless character seem to be laughing fodder for his friends.
5 For destruction [there is] contempt
according to the thought of those at ease,
[it is] ready for those who slip [their] feet.
6 The tents of those who devastate are at ease
and secure are those who provoke God,
Who bring God into their hand.
- Job’s friends have still not accounted for the fact that wicked people seem to prosper – they are at ease, and secure (v6).
7 But ask the beasts, and they would teach you;
And the birds of the heavens, and they would tell you.
8 Or bushes of the earth, and they will tell you,
And they will count to you — the fish of the sea.
9 Who does not know, among all these, that Yahweh’s hand made this?
10 In whose hand [is] the life of every living thing, and the breath of all humankind.
11 Does not the ear examine words, and the palate taste food (to it)?
12 With the aged [is] wisdom, and length of days understanding.
13 With Him are wisdom and might, to Him counsel and understanding.
14 Look, [if] He tears down then it does not rebuild,
[If] He shuts a man in then it does not open.
15 Look, [if] He holds back the waters then they dry out,
And [if] He sends them then they devastate the earth.
- I’m noticing a fair amount of creation and flood allusions here. Perhaps Job’s ancestors passed down to him the events of Genesis 1-11 to make such explicit references to the days of creation (e.g. v7, v8), and even God shutting the door on Noah’s ark (v14, compare Genesis 7:16), and devastating the earth with waters (v15, compare Genesis 7-8).
- Verse 9 is the first time that the name Yahweh is used again since the prologues. Perhaps when we behold creation, Job expresses no doubt that it is the covenant God who sustains and no other.
16 With him are might and prudence,
to him are [both] the errant and the misleading.
17 Leading counsellors away stripped,
judges he also makes into fools.
18 The bonds of kings He opens,
And binds a loincloth around their waists.
19 Leading priests away stripped,
He also overthrows the powerful.
20 He turns aside the speech of trusted ones,
and the discernment of elders he takes away.
21 He pours contempt upon the princes,
And the belt of the strong he loosens.
22 He uncovers the deep things from darkness,
And he brights to light deep shadows.
23 Making great the nations yet He destroys them,
He enlarges their boundaries and guides them.
24 He turns aside the heart/understanding of the people’s chiefs on earth,
He makes them wander in a formless waste without path,
25 They grope in darkness without light, and they wander like drunks.
- Job reminds his friends that true wisdom belongs to God alone. These “three wise men” do not have a monopoly on knowing how the world works. This is a good reminder amidst competing ideologies and opinions in our world today (including about public health / economy debates).
- Whatever wisdom we have is a gift, and shouldn’t we wielded to hurt others.