17 He[a] leads[b] counselors away stripped[c] and makes judges[d] into fools.[e] 18 He loosens[f] the bonds[g] of kings and binds a loincloth[h] around their waist. 19 He leads priests away stripped[i] and overthrows[j] the potentates.[k]
Job 12:17tn The personal pronoun normally present as the subject of the participle is frequently omitted (see GKC 381 §119.s).
Job 12:17tn GKC 361-62 §116.x notes that almost as a rule a participle beginning a sentence is continued with a finite verb with or without a ו (vav). Here the participle (“leads”) is followed by an imperfect (“makes fools”) after a ו (vav).
Job 12:17tn The word שׁוֹלָל (sholal), from the root שָׁלַל (shalal, “to plunder; to strip”), is an adjective expressing the state (and is in the singular, as if to say, “in the state of one naked” [GKC 375 §118.o]). The word is found in military contexts (see Mic 1:8). It refers to the carrying away of people in nakedness and shame by enemies who plunder (see also Isa 8:1-4). They will go away as slaves and captives, deprived of their outer garments. Some (cf. NAB) suggest “barefoot,” based on the LXX of Mic 1:8, but the meaning of that is uncertain. G. R. Driver wanted to derive the word from an Arabic root “to be mad; to be giddy,” forming a better parallel.
Job 12:17sn The judges, like the counselors, are nobles in the cities. God may reverse their lot, either by captivity or by shame, and they cannot resist his power.
Job 12:17tn Some translate this “makes mad” as in Isa 44:25, but this gives the wrong connotation today; more likely God shows them to be fools.
Job 12:18tn The verb may be classified as a gnomic perfect, or possibly a potential perfect—“he can loosen.” The Piel means “to untie; to unbind” (Job 30:11; 38:31; 39:5).
Job 12:18tc There is a potential textual difficulty here. The MT has מוּסַר (musar, “discipline”), which might have replaced מוֹסֵר (moser, “bond, chain”) from אָסַר (ʾasar, “to bind”). Or מוּסַר might be an unusual form of אָסַר (an option noted in HALOT 557 s.v. *מוֹסֵר). The line is saying that if the kings are bound, God can set them free, and in the second half, if they are free, he can bind them. Others take the view that this word “bond” refers to the power kings have over others, meaning that God can reduce kings to slavery.
Job 12:18tn Some commentators want to change אֵזוֹר (ʾezor, “girdle”) to אֵסוּר (ʾesur, “bond”) because binding the loins with a girdle was an expression for strength. But H. H. Rowley (Job [NCBC], 96) notes that binding the king’s loins this way would mean that he would serve and do menial tasks. Such a reference would certainly indicate troubled times.
Job 12:19tn The verb has to be defined by its context: it can mean “falsify” (Exod 23:8), “make tortuous” (Prov 19:3), or “plunge” into misfortune (Prov 21:12). God overthrows those who seem to be solid.
Job 12:19tn The original meaning of אֵיתָן (ʾetan) is “perpetual.” It is usually an epithet for a torrent that is always flowing. It carries the connotations of permanence and stability; here applied to people in society, it refers to one whose power and influence does not change. These are the pillars of society.
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