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Elihu’s Second Speech[a]

34 Elihu answered:

“Listen to my words, you wise men;
hear[b] me, you learned men.[c]
For the ear assesses[d] words
as the mouth[e] tastes food.
Let us evaluate[f] for ourselves what is right;[g]
let us come to know among ourselves what is good.
For Job says, ‘I am innocent,[h]
but God turns away my right.
Concerning my right, should I lie?[i]
My wound[j] is incurable,
although I am without transgression.’[k]
Who is there like Job,
who[l] drinks derision[m] like water?
He goes about[n] in company[o] with evildoers,
he goes along[p] with wicked men.[q]
For he says, ‘It does not profit a man
when he makes his delight with God.’[r]

God is Not Unjust

10 “Therefore, listen to me, you men of understanding.[s]
Far be it from[t] God to do wickedness,
from the Almighty to do evil.
11 For he repays a person for his work,[u]
and according to the conduct of a person,
he causes the consequences to find him.[v]
12 Indeed, in truth, God does not act wickedly,
and the Almighty does not pervert justice.
13 Who entrusted[w] to him the earth?
And who put him over[x] the whole world?
14 If God[y] were to set his heart on it,[z]
and gather in his spirit[aa] and his breath,
15 all flesh would perish together
and human beings would return to dust.

God Is Impartial and Omniscient

16 “If you have[ab] understanding, listen to this,
hear what I have to say.[ac]
17 Do you really think[ad]
that one who hates justice can govern?[ae]
And will you declare guilty
the supremely Righteous One,[af]
18 who says to a king,[ag] ‘Worthless man,’[ah]
and to nobles, ‘Wicked men,’
19 who shows no partiality to princes,
and does not take note of[ai] the rich more than the poor,
because all of them are the work of his hands?
20 In a moment they die, in the middle of the night,[aj]
people[ak] are shaken[al] and they pass away.
The mighty are removed effortlessly.[am]
21 For his eyes are on the ways of an individual,
he observes all a person’s[an] steps.
22 There is no darkness, and no deep darkness,
where evildoers can hide themselves.[ao]
23 For he does not still consider a person,[ap]
that he should come before God in judgment.
24 He shatters the great without inquiry,[aq]
and sets up others in their place.
25 Therefore, he knows their deeds,
he overthrows them[ar] in the night[as]
and they are crushed.
26 He strikes them for their wickedness,[at]
in a place where people can see,[au]
27 because they have turned away from following him,
and have not understood[av] any of his ways,
28 so that they caused[aw] the cry of the poor
to come before him,
so that he hears[ax] the cry of the needy.
29 But if God[ay] is quiet, who can condemn[az] him?
If he hides his face, then who can see him?
Yet[ba] he is over the individual and the nation alike,[bb]
30 so that the godless man should not rule,
and not lay snares for the people.[bc]

Job Is Foolish to Rebel

31 “Has anyone said to God,
‘I have endured chastisement,[bd]
but I will not act wrongly any more;
32 teach me what I cannot see;[be]
if I have done evil, I will do so no more’?
33 Is it your opinion[bf] that God[bg] should recompense it,
because you reject this?[bh]
But you must choose, and not I,
so tell us what you know.
34 Men of understanding say to me—
any wise man listening to me says—
35 that[bi] Job speaks without knowledge
and his words are without understanding.[bj]
36 But[bk] Job will be tested to the end,
because his answers are like those of wicked men.
37 For he adds transgression[bl] to his sin;
in our midst he claps his hands,[bm]
and multiplies his words against God.”


  1. Job 34:1 sn This speech of Elihu focuses on defending God. It can be divided into these sections: Job is irreligious (2-9), God is just (10-15), God is impartial and omniscient (16-30), Job is foolish to rebel (31-37).
  2. Job 34:2 tn Heb “give ear to me.”
  3. Job 34:2 tn The Hebrew word means “the men who know,” and without a complement it means “to possess knowledge.”
  4. Job 34:3 tn Or “examines; tests; tries; discerns.”
  5. Job 34:3 tn Or “palate”; the Hebrew term refers to the tongue or to the mouth in general.
  6. Job 34:4 sn Elihu means “choose after careful examination.”
  7. Job 34:4 tn The word is מִשְׁפָּט (mishpat) again, with the sense of what is right or just.
  8. Job 34:5 tn Heb “righteous,” but in this context it means to be innocent or in the right.
  9. Job 34:6 tn The verb is the Piel imperfect of כָּזַב (kazav), meaning “to lie.” It could be a question: “Should I lie [against my right?]—when I am innocent.” If it is repointed to the Pual, then it can be “I am made to lie,” or “I am deceived.” Taking it as a question makes good sense here, and so emendations are unnecessary.
  10. Job 34:6 tn The Hebrew text has only “my arrow.” Some commentators emend that word slightly to get “my wound.” But the idea could be derived from “arrows” as well, the wounds caused by the arrows. The arrows are symbolic of God’s affliction.
  11. Job 34:6 tn Heb “without transgression,” but this is parallel to the first part where the claim is innocence.
  12. Job 34:7 tn Heb “he drinks,” but coming after the question this clause may be subordinated.
  13. Job 34:7 tn The scorn or derision mentioned here is not against Job, but against God. Job scorns God so much, he must love it. So to reflect this idea, Gordis has translated it “blasphemy” (cf. NAB).
  14. Job 34:8 tn The perfect verb with the vav (ו) consecutive carries the sequence forward from the last description.
  15. Job 34:8 tn The word חֶבְרַה (khevrah, “company”) is a hapax legomenon. But its meaning is clear enough from the connections to related words and this context as well.
  16. Job 34:8 tn The infinitive construct with the ל (lamed) preposition may continue the clause with the finite verb (see GKC 351 §114.p).
  17. Job 34:8 tn Heb “men of wickedness”; the genitive is attributive (= “wicked men”).
  18. Job 34:9 tn Gordis, however, takes this expression in the sense of “being in favor with God.”
  19. Job 34:10 tn Heb “men of heart.” The “heart” is used for the capacity to understand and make the proper choice. It is often translated “mind.”
  20. Job 34:10 tn For this construction, see Job 27:5.
  21. Job 34:11 tn Heb “for the work of man, he [= God] repays him.”
  22. Job 34:11 tn Heb “he causes it to find him.” The text means that God will cause a man to find (or receive) the consequences of his actions.
  23. Job 34:13 tn The verb פָּקַד (paqad) means “to visit; to appoint; to number.” Here it means “to entrust” for care and governing. The implication would be that there would be someone higher than God—which is what Elihu is repudiating by the rhetorical question. No one entrusted God with this.
  24. Job 34:13 tn The preposition is implied from the first half of the verse.
  25. Job 34:14 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  26. Job 34:14 tc This is the reading following the Qere. The Kethib and the Syriac and the LXX suggest a reading יָשִׂים (yasim, “if he [God] recalls”). But this would require leaving out “his heart,” and would also require redividing the verse to make “his spirit” the object. It makes better parallelism, but may require too many changes.
  27. Job 34:14 tn Or perhaps “Spirit,” though this may be less likely in close proximity with “breath.” As a reference to the human spirit cf. Ps. 104:29; as a reference to God’s Spirit originating with him, cf. Ps 104:30.
  28. Job 34:16 tn The phrase “you have” is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied.
  29. Job 34:16 tn Heb “the sound of my words.”
  30. Job 34:17 tn The force of הַאַף (haʾaf) is “Is it truly the case?” The point is being made that if Job were right God could not be judging the world.
  31. Job 34:17 tn The verb חָבַשׁ (khavash) has the basic idea of “to bind,” as in binding on the yoke, and then in the sense of subduing people under authority (cf. Assyrian absanu). The imperfect verb here is best expressed with the potential nuance.
  32. Job 34:17 tn The two words could be taken separately, but they seem to form a fine nominal hendiadys, because the issue is God’s justice. So the word for power becomes the modifier.
  33. Job 34:18 tc Heb “Does one say,” although some smooth it out to say “Is it fit to say?” For the reading “who says,” the form has to be repointed to הַאֹמֵר (haʾomer) meaning, “who is the one saying.” This reading is supported by the LXX, Vulgate, and Syriac. Also it seems to flow better with the following verse. It would be saying that God is over the rulers and can rebuke them. The former view is saying that no one rebukes kings, much less Job rebuking God.
  34. Job 34:18 tn The word בְּלִיָּעַל (beliyyaʿal) means both “worthless” and “wicked.” It is common in proverbial literature, and in later writings it became a description of Satan. It is usually found with “son of.”
  35. Job 34:19 tn The verb means “to give recognition; to take note of” and in this passage with לִפְנֵי (lifne, “before”) it means to show preferential treatment to the rich before the poor. The word for “rich” here is an unusual word, found parallel to “noble” (Isa 32:2). P. Joüon thinks it is a term of social distinction (Bib 18 [1937]: 207-8).
  36. Job 34:20 tn Dhorme transposes “in the middle of the night” with “they pass away” to get a smoother reading. But the MT emphasizes the suddenness by putting both temporal ideas first. E. F. Sutcliffe leaves the order as it stands in the text, but adds a verb “they expire” after “in the middle of the night” (“Notes on Job, textual and exegetical,” Bib 30 [1949]: 79ff.).
  37. Job 34:20 tn R. Gordis (Job, 389) thinks “people” here mean the people who count, the upper class.
  38. Job 34:20 tn The verb means “to be violently agitated.” There is no problem with the word in this context, but commentators have made suggestions for improving the idea. The proposal that has the most to commend it, if one were inclined to choose a new word, is the change to יִגְוָעוּ (yigvaʿu, “they expire”; so Ball, Holscher, Fohrer, and others).
  39. Job 34:20 tn Heb “not by hand.” This means without having to use force.
  40. Job 34:21 tn Heb “his”; the referent (a person) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  41. Job 34:22 tn The construction of this colon uses the Niphal infinitive construct from סָתַר (satar, “to be hidden; to hide”). The resumptive adverb makes this a relative clause in its usage: “where the evildoers can hide themselves.”
  42. Job 34:23 tn Heb “for he does not put upon man yet.” This has been given a wide variety of interpretations, all of which involve a lot of additional thoughts. The word עוֹד (ʿod, “yet, still”) has been replaced with מוֹעֵד (moʿed, “an appointed time,” Reiske and Wright), with the ם (mem) having dropped out by haplography. This makes good sense. If the MT is retained, the best interpretation would be that God does not any more consider (from “place upon the heart”) man, that he might appear in judgment.
  43. Job 34:24 tn Heb “[with] no investigation.”
  44. Job 34:25 tn The direct object “them” is implied and has been supplied in the translation for clarity.
  45. Job 34:25 tn The Hebrew term “night” is an accusative of time.
  46. Job 34:26 tn Heb “under wicked men,” or “under wickednesses.” J. C. Greenfield shows that the preposition can mean “among” as well (“Prepositions B Tachat in Jes 57:5, ” ZAW 32 [1961]: 227). That would allow “among wicked men.” It could also be “instead of” or even “in return for [their wickedness]” which is what the RSV does.
  47. Job 34:26 tn The text simply uses רֹאִים (roʾim): “[in the place where there are] seers,” i.e., spectators.
  48. Job 34:27 tn The verb הִשְׂכִּילוּ (hiskilu) means “to be prudent; to be wise.” From this is derived the idea of “be wise in understanding God’s will,” and “be successful because of prudence”—i.e., successful with God.
  49. Job 34:28 tn The verse begins with the infinitive construct of בּוֹא (boʾ, “go”), showing the result of their impious actions.
  50. Job 34:28 tn The verb here is an imperfect; the clause is circumstantial to the preceding clause, showing either the result, or the concomitant action.
  51. Job 34:29 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  52. Job 34:29 tn The verb in this position is somewhat difficult, although it does make good sense in the sentence—it is just not what the parallelism would suggest. So several emendations have been put forward, for which see the commentaries.
  53. Job 34:29 tn The line simply reads “and over a nation and over a man together.” But it must be the qualification for the points being made in the previous lines, namely, that even if God hides himself so no one can see, yet he is still watching over them all (see H. H. Rowley, Job [NCBC], 222).
  54. Job 34:29 tn The word translated “alike” (Heb “together”) has bothered some interpreters. In the reading taken here it is acceptable. But others have emended it to gain a verb, such as “he visits” (Beer), “he watches over” (Duhm), “he is compassionate” (Kissane), etc. But it is sufficient to say “he is over.”
  55. Job 34:30 tn This last verse is difficult because it is unbalanced and cryptic. Some have joined the third line of v. 29 with this entire verse to make a couplet. But the same result is achieved by simply regarding this verse as the purpose of v. 29. But there still are some words that must be added. In the first colon, “[he is over the nations]…preventing from ruling.” And in the second colon, “laying” has to be supplied before “snares.”
  56. Job 34:31 tn The Hebrew text has only “I lift up” or “I bear” (= I endure). The reading “I have been led astray” is obtained by changing the vowels to read a passive. If the MT is retained, an object has to be supplied, such as “chastisement” (so RSV, NASB) or “punishment” (NRSV). If not, then a different reading would be followed (e.g., “I was misguided” [NAB]; “I am guilty” [NIV]).
  57. Job 34:32 tn Heb “what I do not see,” more specifically, “apart from [that which] I see.”
  58. Job 34:33 tn Heb “is it from with you,” an idiomatic expression meaning “to suit you” or “according to your judgment.”
  59. Job 34:33 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  60. Job 34:33 tn There is no object on the verb, and the meaning is perhaps lost. The best guess is that Elihu is saying Job has rejected his teaching.
  61. Job 34:35 tn Adding “that” in the translation clarifies Elihu’s indirect citation of the wise individuals’ words.
  62. Job 34:35 tn The Hiphil infinitive construct is here functioning as a substantive. The word means “prudence; understanding.”
  63. Job 34:36 tc The MT reads אָבִי (ʾavi, “my father”), which makes no sense. Some follow the KJV and emend the word to make a verb “I desire” or use the noun “my desire of it.” Others follow an Arabic word meaning “entreat, I pray” (cf. ESV, “Would that Job were tried”). The LXX and the Syriac versions have “but” and “surely” respectively. Since this is the only ms support, albeit weak, it may be the best choice. In this sense Elihu would be saying that because of Job’s attitude God will continue to test him.
  64. Job 34:37 tn Although frequently translated “rebellion,” the basic meaning of this Hebrew term is “transgression.”
  65. Job 34:37 tc If this reading stands, it would mean that Job shows contempt, meaning that he mocks them and accuses God. It is a bold touch, but workable. Of the many suggested emendations, Dhorme alters some of the vowels and obtains a reading “and casts doubt among us,” and then takes “transgression” from the first colon for the complement. Some commentators simply delete the line.