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Elihu’s Third Speech[a]

35 Then Elihu answered:

“Do you think this to be[b] just
when[c] you say, ‘My right before God’?[d]
But you say, ‘What will it profit you,’[e]
and, ‘What do I gain by not sinning?’[f]
I[g] will reply to you,[h]
and to your friends with you.
Gaze at the heavens and see;
consider the clouds, which are higher than you.[i]
If you sin, how does it affect God?[j]
If your transgressions are many,
what does it do to him?[k]
If you are righteous, what do you give to God,
or what does he receive from your hand?
Your wickedness affects only[l] a person like yourself,
and your righteousness only other people.[m]
“People[n] cry out

because of the excess of oppression;[o]
they cry out for help
because of the power[p] of the mighty.[q]
10 But no one says, ‘Where is God, my Creator,
who gives songs in the night,[r]
11 who teaches us[s] more than[t] the wild animals of the earth,
and makes us wiser than the birds of the sky?’
12 Then[u] they cry out—but he does not answer—
because of the arrogance of the wicked.
13 Surely it is an empty cry[v]—God does not hear it;
the Almighty does not take notice of it.
14 How much less, then,
when you say that you do not perceive him,
that the case is before him
and you are waiting for him![w]
15 And further,[x] when you say
that his anger does not punish,[y]
and that he does not know transgression![z]
16 So Job opens his mouth to no purpose;[aa]
without knowledge he multiplies words.”


  1. Job 35:1 sn This short speech falls into two sections: Elihu refutes Job’s claim that goodness avails nothing (35:2-8), asserting that when the cry of the afflicted goes unanswered they have not learned their lesson (35:9-16).
  2. Job 35:2 tn The line could be read as “do you reckon this for justice? Here “to be” is understood.
  3. Job 35:2 tn The word “when” is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied.
  4. Job 35:2 tn The brief line could be interpreted in a number of ways. The MT simply has “my right from God.” It could be “I am right before God,” “I am more just/right than God” (identifying the preposition as a comparative min (מִן); cf. J. E. Hartley, Job [NICOT], 463), “I will be right before God,” or “My just cause against God.”
  5. Job 35:3 tn The referent of “you” is usually understood to be God.
  6. Job 35:3 tn The Hebrew text merely says, “What do I gain from my sin?” But Job has claimed that he has not sinned, and so this has to be elliptical: “more than if I had sinned” (H. H. Rowley, Job [NCBC], 224). It could also be, “What do I gain without sin?”
  7. Job 35:4 tn The emphatic pronoun calls attention to Elihu who will answer these questions.
  8. Job 35:4 tn The Hebrew text adds, “with words,” but since this is obvious, for stylistic reasons it has not been included in the translation.
  9. Job 35:5 tn The preposition is taken here as a comparative min (מִן). The line could also read “that are high above you.” This idea has appeared in the speech of Eliphaz (22:12), Zophar (11:7-8), and even Job (9:8-11).
  10. Job 35:6 tn Heb “him” (also in v. 7); the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  11. Job 35:6 tn See Job 7:20.
  12. Job 35:8 tn The phrase “affects only” is supplied in the translation of this nominal According to Strahan, “Elihu exalts God’s greatness at the cost of His grace, His transcendence at the expense of His immanence. He sets up a material instead of a spiritual stand of profit and loss. He does not realize that God does gain what He desires most by the goodness of men, and loses what He most loves by their evil.”
  13. Job 35:8 tn Heb “and to [or for] a son of man, your righteousness.”
  14. Job 35:9 tn The word “people” is supplied, because the sentence only has the masculine plural verb.
  15. Job 35:9 tn The final noun is an abstract plural, “oppression.” There is no reason to change it to “oppressors” to fit the early versions. The expression is literally “multitude of oppression.”
  16. Job 35:9 tn Heb “the arm,” a metaphor for strength or power.
  17. Job 35:9 tn Or “of the many” (see HALOT 1172 s.v. I רַב 6.a).
  18. Job 35:10 tn There have been several attempts to emend the line, none of which are particularly helpful or interesting. H. H. Rowley (Job [NCBC], 225) says, “It is a pity to rob Elihu of a poetic line when he creates one.”
  19. Job 35:11 tn The form in the text, the Piel participle from אָלַף (ʾalaf, “teach”) is written in a contracted form; the full form is מְאַלְּפֵנוּ (meʾallefenu).
  20. Job 35:11 tn Some would render this “teaches us by the beasts.” But Elihu is stressing the unique privilege humans have.
  21. Job 35:12 tn The adverb שָׁם (sham, “there”) connects this verse to v. 11. “There” can be locative or temporal—and here it is temporal (= “then”).
  22. Job 35:13 tn Heb “surely—vanity, he does not hear.” The cry is an empty cry, not a prayer to God. Dhorme translates it, “It is a pure waste of words.”
  23. Job 35:14 sn The point is that if God does not listen to those who do not turn to him, how much less likely is he to turn to one who complains against him.
  24. Job 35:15 tn The expression “and now” introduces a new complaint of Elihu—in addition to the preceding. Here the verb of v. 14, “you say,” is understood after the temporal ki (כִּי).
  25. Job 35:15 tn The verb פָּקַד (paqad) means “to visit” (also “to appoint; to muster; to number”). When God visits, it means that he intervenes in one’s life for blessing or cursing (punishing, destroying).
  26. Job 35:15 tn The word פַּשׁ (pash) is a hapax legomenon. K&D 12:275 derived it from an Arabic word meaning “belch,” leading to the idea of “overflow.” BDB 832 s.v. defines it as “folly.” Several define it as “transgression” on the basis of the versions (Theodotion, Symmachus, Vulgate). The RSV took it as “greatly heed,” but that is not exactly “greatly know,” when the text beyond that requires “not know at all.” The NIV has “he does not take the least notice of wickedness.”
  27. Job 35:16 tn The word הֶבֶל (hevel) means “vanity; futility; to no purpose.”