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A Protest of Innocence

27 And Job took up his discourse again:[a]

“As surely as God lives,[b] who has denied me justice,[c]
the Almighty, who has made my life bitter[d]
for while[e] my spirit[f] is still in me,
and the breath from God is in my nostrils,
my[g] lips will not speak wickedness,
and my tongue will whisper[h] no deceit.
I will never[i] declare that you three[j] are in the right;
until I die, I will not set aside my integrity!
I will maintain my righteousness
and never let it go;
my conscience[k] will not reproach me
for as long as I live.[l]

The Condition of the Wicked

“May my enemy be like the wicked,[m]
my adversary[n] like the unrighteous.[o]
For what hope does the godless have when he is cut off,[p]
when God takes away his life?[q]
Does God listen to his cry
when distress overtakes him?
10 Will he find delight[r] in the Almighty?
Will he call out to God at all times?
11 I will teach you[s] about the power[t] of God;
what is on the Almighty’s mind[u] I will not conceal.
12 If you yourselves have all seen this,
Why in the world[v] do you continue this meaningless talk?[w]
13 This is the portion of the wicked man
allotted by God,[x]
the inheritance that evildoers receive
from the Almighty.
14 If his children increase—it is for the sword![y]
His offspring never have enough to eat.[z]
15 Those who survive him are buried by the plague,[aa]
and their[ab] widows do not mourn for them.
16 If he piles up silver like dust
and stores up clothing like mounds of clay,
17 what he stores up[ac] a righteous man will wear,
and an innocent man will inherit his silver.
18 The house he builds is as fragile as a moth’s cocoon,[ad]
like a hut[ae] that a watchman has made.
19 He goes to bed wealthy, but will do so no more.[af]
When he opens his eyes, it is all gone.[ag]
20 Terrors overwhelm him like a flood;[ah]
at night a whirlwind carries him off.
21 The east wind carries him away, and he is gone;
it sweeps him out of his place.
22 It hurls itself against him without pity[ai]
as he flees headlong from its power.
23 It claps[aj] its hands at him in derision
and hisses him away from his place.[ak]


  1. Job 27:1 tn The Hebrew word מָשָׁל (mashal) is characteristically “proverb; by-word.” It normally refers to a brief saying, but can be used for a discourse (see A. R. Johnson, “Mašal,” VTSup 3 [1955]: 162ff.).
  2. Job 27:2 tn The expression חַי־אֵל (khay ʾel) is the oath formula: “as God lives.” In other words, the speaker is staking God’s life on the credibility of the words. It is like saying, “As truly as God is alive.”
  3. Job 27:2 tn “My judgment” would here, as before, be “my right.” God has taken this away by afflicting Job unjustly (A. B. Davidson, Job, 187).
  4. Job 27:2 tn The verb הֵמַר (hemar) is the Hiphil perfect from מָרַר (marar, “to be bitter”) and hence, “to make bitter.” The object of the verb is “my soul,” which is better translated as “me” or “my life.”
  5. Job 27:3 tn The adverb עוֹד (ʿod) was originally a noun, and so here it could be rendered “all the existence of my spirit.” The word comes between the noun in construct and its actual genitive (see GKC 415 §128.e).
  6. Job 27:3 tn The word נְשָׁמָה (neshamah) is the “breath” that was breathed into Adam in Gen 2:7. Its usage includes the animating breath, the spiritual understanding, and the functioning conscience—so the whole spirit of the person. The other word in this verse, רוּחַ (ruakh), may be translated as “wind,” “breath,” or “spirit/Spirit” depending on the context. Here, since it talks about the nostrils, it should be translated “breath.”
  7. Job 27:4 tn The verse begins with אִם (ʾim), the formula used for the content of the oath (“God lives…if I do/do not…”). Thus, the content of the oath proper is here in v. 4.
  8. Job 27:4 tn The verb means “to utter; to mumble; to meditate.” The implication is that he will not communicate deceitful things, no matter how quiet or subtle.
  9. Job 27:5 tn The text uses חָלִילָה לִּי (khalilah li) meaning “far be it from me,” or more strongly, something akin to “sacrilege.”
  10. Job 27:5 tn In the Hebrew text “you” is plural—a reference to Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad. To make this clear, “three” is supplied in the translation.
  11. Job 27:6 tn Heb “my heart.”
  12. Job 27:6 tn The prepositional phrase “from my days” probably means “from the days of my birth,” or “all my life.”
  13. Job 27:7 sn Of course, he means like his enemy when he is judged, not when he is thriving in prosperity and luxury.
  14. Job 27:7 tn The form is the Hitpolel participle from קוּם (qum): “those who are rising up against me,” or “my adversary.”
  15. Job 27:7 tc The LXX made a free paraphrase: “No, but let my enemies be as the overthrow of the ungodly, and they that rise up against me as the destruction of transgressors.”
  16. Job 27:8 tn The verb יִבְצָע (yivtsaʿ) means “to cut off.” It could be translated transitively or intransitively—the latter is better here (“when he is cut off”). Since the next line speaks of prayer, some have thought this verse should be about prayer. Mandelkern, in his concordance (p. 228b), suggested the verb should be “when he prays” (reading יִפְגַּע [yifgaʿ] in place of יִבְצָע [yivtsaʿ]).
  17. Job 27:8 tn The verb יֵשֶׁל (yeshel) is found only here. It has been related spoils [or sheaves]”); שָׁאַל (shaʾal, “to ask”); נָשָׂא (nasaʾ, “to lift up” [i.e., pray]); and a host of others.
  18. Job 27:10 tn See the note on 22:26 where the same verb is employed.
  19. Job 27:11 tn The object suffix is in the plural, which gives some support to the idea Job is speaking to them.
  20. Job 27:11 tn Heb “the hand of.”
  21. Job 27:11 tn Heb “[what is] with Shaddai.”
  22. Job 27:12 tn The interrogative uses the demonstrative pronoun in its emphatic position: “Why in the world…?” (IBHS 312-13 §17.4.3c).
  23. Job 27:12 tn The text has the noun “vain thing; breath; vapor,” and then a denominative verb from the same root: “to become vain with a vain thing,” or “to do in vain a vain thing.” This is an example of the internal object, or a cognate accusative (see GKC 367 §117.q). The LXX has “you all know that you are adding vanity to vanity.”
  24. Job 27:13 tn The expression “allotted by God” interprets the simple prepositional phrase in the text: “with/from God.”
  25. Job 27:14 tn R. Gordis (Job, 294) identifies this as a breviloquence. Cf. Ps 92:8 where the last two words also constitute the apodosis.
  26. Job 27:14 tn Heb “will not be satisfied with bread/food.”
  27. Job 27:15 tn The text says “will be buried in/by death.” A number of passages in the Bible use “death” to mean the plague that kills (see Jer 15:2; Isa 28:3; and BDB 89 s.v. ב 2.a). In this sense it is like the English expression for the plague, “the Black Death.”
  28. Job 27:15 tc The LXX has “their widows” to match the plural, and most commentators harmonize in the same way.
  29. Job 27:17 tn The text simply repeats the verb from the last clause. It could be treated as a separate short clause: “He may store it up, but the righteous will wear it.” But it also could be understood as the object of the following verb, “[what] he stores up the righteous will wear.” The LXX simply has, “All these things shall the righteous gain.”
  30. Job 27:18 tn Heb כָעָשׁ (khaʿash, “like a moth”), but this leaves room for clarification. Some commentators wanted to change it to “bird’s nest” or just “nest” (cf. NRSV) to make the parallelism; see Job 4:14. But the word is not found. The LXX has a double expression, “as moths, as a spider.” So several take it as the spider’s web, which is certainly unsubstantial (cf. NAB, NASB, NLT; see Job 8:14).
  31. Job 27:18 tn The Hebrew word is the word for “booth,” as in the Feast of Booths. The word describes something that is flimsy; it is not substantial at all.
  32. Job 27:19 tc The verb is the Niphal יֵאָסֵף (yeʾasef), from אָסַף (ʾasaf, “to gather”). So, “he lies down rich, but he is not gathered.” This does not make much sense. It could mean “he will not be gathered for burial,” but that does not belong here. Many commentators accept the variant יֹאסִף (yoʾsif) stood for יוֹסִיף (yosif, “will [not] add”). This is what the LXX and the Syriac have. This leads to the interpretive translation that “he will do so no longer.”
  33. Job 27:19 tn Heb “and he is not.” One view is that this must mean that he dies, not that his wealth is gone. R. Gordis (Job, 295) says the first part should be made impersonal: “when one opens one’s eyes, the wicked is no longer there.” E. Dhorme (Job, 396) has it more simply: “He has opened his eyes, and it is for the last time.” But the other view is that the wealth goes overnight. In support of this is the introduction into the verse of the wealthy. The RSV, NRSV, ESV, and NLT take it that “wealth is gone.”
  34. Job 27:20 tn Many commentators want a word parallel to “in the night.” And so we are offered בַּיּוֹם (bayyom, “in the day”) for כַמַּיִם (khammayim, “like waters”) as well as a number of others. But “waters” sometimes stand for major calamities, and so may be retained here. Besides, not all parallel structures are synonymous.
  35. Job 27:22 tn The verb is once again functioning in an adverbial sense. The text has “it hurls itself against him and shows no mercy.”
  36. Job 27:23 tn If the same subject is to be carried through here, it is the wind. That would make this a bold personification, perhaps suggesting the force of the wind. Others argue that it is unlikely that the wind claps its hands. They suggest taking the verb with an indefinite subject: “he claps” means “one claps. The idea is that of people rejoicing when the wicked are gone. But the parallelism is against this unless the second line is changed as well. R. Gordis (Job, 296) has “men will clap their hands…men will whistle upon him.”
  37. Job 27:23 tn Or “hisses at him from its place” (ESV).