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Elihu Invites Job’s Attention

33 “But now, O Job, listen to my words,
and hear[a] everything I have to say.[b]
See now, I have opened[c] my mouth;
my tongue in my mouth has spoken.[d]
My words come from the uprightness of my heart,[e]
and my lips will utter knowledge sincerely.[f]
The Spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.[g]
Reply to me, if you can;
set your arguments[h] in order before me
and take your stand.
Look, I am just like you in relation to God;
I too have been molded[i] from clay.
Therefore no fear of me should terrify you,
nor should my pressure[j] be heavy on you.[k]

Elihu Rejects Job’s Plea of Innocence

“Indeed, you have said in my hearing[l]
(I heard the sound of the words!):
[m] ‘I am pure, without transgression;
I am clean[n] and have no iniquity.
10 [o] Yet God[p] finds occasions[q] with me;
he regards me as his enemy.
11 [r] He puts my feet in shackles;
he watches closely all my paths.’
12 Now in this, you are not right—I answer you,[s]
for God is greater than a human being.[t]
13 Why do you contend against him,
that he does not answer all a person’s[u] words?

Elihu Disagrees With Job’s View of God

14 “For God speaks, the first time in one way,
the second time in another,
though a person does not perceive[v] it.
15 In a dream, a night vision,
when deep sleep falls on people
as they sleep in their beds.
16 Then he gives a revelation[w] to people,
and terrifies them with warnings,[x]
17 to turn a person from his sin,[y]
and to cover a person’s pride.[z]
18 He spares a person’s life from corruption,[aa]
his very life from crossing over[ab] the river.
19 Or a person is chastened[ac] by pain on his bed,
and with the continual strife of his bones,[ad]
20 so that his life loathes food,
and his soul rejects appetizing fare.[ae]
21 His flesh wastes away from sight,
and his bones, which were not seen,
are easily visible.[af]
22 He[ag] draws near to the place of corruption,
and his life to the messengers of death.[ah]
23 If there is an angel beside him,
one mediator[ai] out of a thousand,
to tell a person what constitutes his uprightness;[aj]
24 and if[ak] God[al] is gracious to him and says,
‘Spare[am] him from going down
to the place of corruption,
I have found a ransom for him,’[an]
25 then his flesh is restored[ao] like a youth’s;
he returns to the days of his youthful vigor.[ap]
26 He entreats God, and God[aq] delights in him,
he sees God’s face[ar] with rejoicing,
and God[as] restores to him his righteousness.[at]
27 That person sings[au] to others,[av] saying:
‘I have sinned and falsified what is right,
but I was not punished according to what I deserved.[aw]
28 He redeemed my life[ax]
from going down to the place of corruption,
and my life sees the light!’

Elihu’s Appeal to Job[ay]

29 “Indeed, God does all these things,
twice, three times, in his dealings[az] with a person,
30 to turn back his life from the place of corruption,
that he may be enlightened with the light of life.
31 Pay attention, Job—listen to me;
be silent, and I will speak.
32 If you have any words,[ba] reply to me;
speak, for I want to justify you.[bb]
33 If not, you listen to me;
be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”


  1. Job 33:1 tn Heb “give ear,” the Hiphil denominative verb from “ear.”
  2. Job 33:1 tn Heb “hear all my words.”
  3. Job 33:2 tn The perfect verbs in this verse should be classified as perfects of resolve: “I have decided to open…speak.”
  4. Job 33:2 sn H. H. Rowley (Job [NCBC], 210) says, “The self-importance of Elihu is boundless, and he is the master of banality.” He adds that whoever wrote these speeches this way clearly intended to expose the character rather than exalt him.
  5. Job 33:3 tc This expression is unusual; R. Gordis (Job, 371) says it can be translated, “the purity of my heart [is reflected] in my words,” but that is far-fetched and awkward. So there have been suggestions for emending יֹשֶׁר (yosher, “uprightness”). Kissane’s makes the most sense if a change is desired: “shall reveal” (an Arabic sense of yasher), although Holscher interpreted “shall affirm” (yasher, with a Syriac sense). Dhorme has “my heart will repeat” (יָשׁוּר, yashur), but this is doubtful. If Kissane’s view is taken, it would say, “my heart will reveal my words.” Some commentators would join “and knowledge” to this colon, and read “words of knowledge”—but that requires even more emendations.
  6. Job 33:3 tn More literally, “and the knowledge of my lips they will speak purely.”
  7. Job 33:4 tc Some commentators want to put this verse after v. 6, while others omit the verse entirely. Elihu is claiming here that he is inspired by The verb תְּחַיֵּנִי (tekhayyeni) is the Piel imperfect of the verb “to live.” It can mean “gives me life,” but it can also mean “quickens me, enlivens me.”
  8. Job 33:5 tn The Hebrew text does not contain the term “arguments,” but this verb has been used already for preparing or arranging a defense.
  9. Job 33:6 tn The verb means “nipped off,” as a potter breaks off a piece of clay when molding a vessel.
  10. Job 33:7 tc The noun means “my pressure; my burden” in the light of the verb אָכֲף (ʾakhaf, “to press on; to grip tightly”). In the parallel passages the text used “hand” and “rod” in the hand to terrify. The LXX has “hand” here for this word. But simply changing it to “hand” is ruled out because the verb is masculine.
  11. Job 33:7 tn See Job 9:34 and 13:21.
  12. Job 33:8 tn Heb “in my ears.”
  13. Job 33:9 sn See Job 9:21; 10:7; 23:7; 27:4; ch. 31.
  14. Job 33:9 tn The word is a hapax legomenon; חַף (khaf) is from חָפַף (khafaf). It is used in New Hebrew in expressions like “to wash” the head. Cognates in Syriac and Akkadian support the meaning “to wash; to clean.”
  15. Job 33:10 sn See Job 10:13ff.; 19:6ff.; 13:24.
  16. Job 33:10 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  17. Job 33:10 tn The Hebrew means “frustrations” or “oppositions.” The RSV has “displeasure,” NIV “faults,” and NRSV “occasions.” Rashi chose the word found in Judg 14:4—with metathesis—meaning “pretexts” (תֹּאֲנוֹת, toʾanot); this is followed by NAB, NASB.
  18. Job 33:11 sn See Job 13:27.
  19. Job 33:12 tn The meaning of this verb is “this is my answer to you.”
  20. Job 33:12 tc The LXX has “he that is above men is eternal.” Elihu is saying that God is far above Job’s petty problems.
  21. Job 33:13 tc The MT has “all his words.” This must refer to “man” in the previous verse. But many wish to change it to “my words,” since it would be summarizing Job’s complaint to God.
  22. Job 33:14 tn The Syriac and the Vulgate have “and he does not repeat it,” a reading of the text as it is, according to E. Dhorme (Job, 403). But his argument is based on another root with this meaning—a root which does not exist (see L. Dennefeld, RB 48 [1939]: 175). The verse is saying that God does speak to man.
  23. Job 33:16 tn The idiom is “he uncovers the ear of men.” This expression means “inform” in Ruth 4:4; 1 Sam 20:2, etc. But when God is the subject it means “make a revelation” (see 1 Sam 9:15; 2 Sam 7:27).
  24. Job 33:16 tc Heb “and seals their bonds.” The form of the present translation, “and terrifies them with warnings,” is derived only by emending the text. Aquila, the Vulgate, Syriac, and Targum Job have “their correction” for “their bond,” which is what the KJV used. But the LXX, Aquila, and the Syriac have “terrifies” for the verb. This involves a change in pointing from יָחְתֹּם (yakhtom) to יְחִתֵּם (yekhittem). The LXX has “appearances of fear” instead of “bonds.” The point of the verse seems to be that by terrifying dreams God makes people aware of their ways.
  25. Job 33:17 tc The MT simply has מַעֲשֶׂה (maʿaseh, “deed”). The LXX has “from his iniquity” which would have been מֵעַוְלָה (meʿavlah). The two letters may have dropped out by haplography. The MT is workable, but would have to mean “[evil] deeds.”
  26. Job 33:17 tc Here too the sense of the MT is difficult to recover. Some translations took it to mean that God hides pride from man. Many commentators changed יְכַסֶּה (yekhasseh, “covers”) to יְכַסֵּחַ (yekhasseakh, “he cuts away”), or יְכַלֶּה (yekhalleh, “he puts an end to”). The various emendations are not all that convincing.
  27. Job 33:18 tn A number of interpreters and translations take this as “the pit” (see Job 17:14; cf. NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).
  28. Job 33:18 tc Here is another difficult line. The verb normally means “to pass through; to pass over,” and so this word would normally mean “from passing through [or over].” The word שֶׁלַח (shelakh) does at times refer to a weapon, but most commentators look for a parallel with “the pit [or corruption].” One suggestion is שְׁאוֹלָה (sheʾolah, “to Sheol”), proposed by Duhm. Dhorme thought it was שַׁלַח (shalakh) and referred to the passageway to the underworld (see M. Tsevat, VT 4 [1954]: 43; and Svi Rin, BZ 7 [1963]: 25). See discussion of options in HALOT 1517-18 s.v. IV שֶׁלַח. The idea of crossing the river of death fits the idea of the passage well, although the reading “to perish by the sword” makes sense and was followed by the NIV.
  29. Job 33:19 tc The MT has the passive form, and so a subject has to be added: “[a man] is chastened.” The LXX has the active form, indicating “[God] chastens,” but the object “a man” has to be added. It is understandable why the LXX thought this was active, within this sequence of verbs; and that is why it is the inferior reading.
  30. Job 33:19 tc The Kethib “the strife of his bones is continual,” whereas the Qere has “the multitude of his bones are firm.” The former is the better reading in this passage. It indicates that the pain is caused by the ongoing strife.
  31. Job 33:20 tn Heb “food of desire.” The word “rejects” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.
  32. Job 33:21 tc Heb “are laid bare.” This is the Qere reading; the Kethib means “bare height.” Gordis reverses the word order: “his bones are bare [i.e., crushed] so that they cannot be looked upon.” But the sense of that is not clear.
  33. Job 33:22 tn Heb “his soul [נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh, “life”] draws near.”
  34. Job 33:22 tn The MT uses the Hiphil participle, “to those who cause death.” This seems to be a reference to the belief in demons that brought about death, an idea not mentioned in the Bible itself. Thus many proposals have been made for this expression. Hoffmann and Budde divide the word into לְמוֹ מֵתִּים (lemo metim) and simply read “to the dead.” Dhorme adds a couple of letters to get לִמְקוֹם מֵתִּים (limqom metim, “to the place [or abode] of the dead”).
  35. Job 33:23 sn The verse is describing the way God can preserve someone from dying by sending a messenger (translated here as “angel”), who could be human or angelic. This messenger will interpret/mediate God’s will. By “one…out of a thousand” Elihu could have meant either that one of the thousands of messengers at God’s disposal might be sent or that the messenger would be unique (see Eccl 7:28; Job 9:3).
  36. Job 33:23 tn This is a smoother reading. The MT has “to tell to a man his uprightness,” to reveal what is right for him. The LXX translated this word “duty”; the choice is adopted by some commentaries. However, that is too far from the text, which indicates that the angel/messenger is to call the person to uprightness.
  37. Job 33:24 tn This verse seems to continue the protasis begun in the last verse, with the apodosis coming in the next verse.
  38. Job 33:24 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  39. Job 33:24 tc The verb is either taken as an anomalous form of פָּדַע (padaʿ, “to rescue; to redeem,” or “to exempt him”), or it is emended to some similar word, like פָּרַע (paraʿ, “to let loose,” so Wright).
  40. Job 33:24 sn This verse and v. 28 should be compared with Ps 49:7-9, 15 (8-10, 16 HT) where the same basic vocabulary and concepts are employed.
  41. Job 33:25 tc The word רֻטֲפַשׁ (rutafash) is found nowhere else. One suggestion is that it should be יִרְטַב (yirtav, “to become fresh”), connected to רָטַב (ratav, “to be well watered [or moist]”). It is also possible that it was a combination of רָטַב (ratav, “to be well watered”) and טָפַשׁ (tafash, “to grow fat”). But these are all guesses in the commentaries.
  42. Job 33:25 tn The word describes the period when the man is healthy and vigorous, ripe for what life brings his way.
  43. Job 33:26 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  44. Job 33:26 tn Heb “his face”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for This is usually taken to mean that as a worshiper this individual comes into the presence of the Lord in prayer, and in the sanctuary he sees God’s face, i.e., he sees the evidence of God’s presence.
  45. Job 33:26 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  46. Job 33:26 tc Many commentators think this line is superfluous and so delete it. The RSV changed the verb to “he recounts,” making the idea that the man publishes the news of his victory or salvation (taking “righteousness” as a metonymy of cause).
  47. Job 33:27 tc The verb יָשֹׁר (yashor) is unusual. The typical view is to change it to יָשִׁיר (yashir, “he sings”), but that may seem out of harmony with a confession. Dhorme suggests a root שׁוּר (shur, “to repeat”), but this is a doubtful root. J. Reider reads it יָשֵׁיר (yasher) and links it to an Arabic word “confesses” (ZAW 24 [1953]: 275).
  48. Job 33:27 tn Heb “to men.”
  49. Job 33:27 tn The verb שָׁוָה (shavah) has the impersonal meaning here, “it has not been requited to me.” The meaning is that the sinner has not been treated in accordance with his deeds: “I was not punished according to what I deserved.”
  50. Job 33:28 sn See note on “him” in v. 24.
  51. Job 33:29 sn Elihu will repeat these instructions for Job to listen, over and over in painful repetition. See note on the heading to 32:1.
  52. Job 33:29 tn The phrase “in his dealings” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation for clarification.
  53. Job 33:32 tn Heb “if there are words.”
  54. Job 33:32 tn The infinitive construct serves as the complement or object of “I desire.” It could be rendered “to justify you” or “your justification,” namely, “that you be justified.”