21 Is not their excess wealth[a] taken away from them?[b] They die,[c] yet without attaining wisdom.’[d]
Job 4:21tn The word יֶתֶר (yeter, here with the suffix, יִתְרָם [yitram]) can mean “what remains” or “rope.” Of the variety of translations, the most frequently used idea seems to be “their rope,” meaning their tent cord. This would indicate that their life was compared to a tent—perfectly reasonable in a passage that has already used the image “houses of clay.” The difficulty is that the verb נָסַע (nasaʿ) means more properly “to tear up; to uproot” and not “to cut off.” A similar idea is found in Isa 38:12, but there the image is explicitly that of cutting the life off from the loom. Some have posited that the original must have said “their tent peg was pulled up” as in Isa 33:20 (A. B. Davidson, Job, 34; cf. NAB). But perhaps the idea of “what remains” would be easier to defend here. Besides, it is used in 22:20. The wealth of an individual is what has been acquired and usually is left over when he dies. Here it would mean that the superfluous wealth would be snatched away. The preposition ב (bet) would carry the meaning “from” with this verb.
Job 4:21tc The text of the LXX does not seem to be connected to the Hebrew of v. 21a. It reads something like “for he blows on them and they are withered” (see Isa 40:24b). The Targum to Job has “Is it not by their lack of righteousness that they have been deprived of all support?”tn On the interpretation of the preposition in this construction, see N. Sarna, “The Interchange of the Preposition bet and min in Biblical Hebrew,” JBL 78 (1959): 310-16.
Job 4:21snThey die. This clear verb interprets all the images in these verses—they die. When the house of clay collapses, or when their excess perishes—their life is over.
Job 4:21tnHeb “and without wisdom.” The word “attaining” is supplied in the translation as a clarification.sn The expression without attaining wisdom is parallel to the previous without anyone regarding it. Both verses describe how easily humans perish: there is no concern for it, nor any sense to it. Humans die without attaining wisdom which can solve the mystery of human life.
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