Job’s Reply to Bildadsn These two chapters will be taken together under this title, although most commentators would assign Job 26:5-14 to Bildad and Job 27:7-23 to Zophar. Those sections will be noted as they emerge. For the sake of outlining, the following sections will be marked off: Job’s scorn for Bildad (26:2-4); a better picture of God’s greatness (26:5-14); Job’s protestation of innocence (27:2-6); and a picture of the condition of the wicked (27:7-23).
1 Then Job replied:
2 “How you have helpedtn The interrogative clause is used here as an exclamation, and sarcastic at that. Job is saying “you have in no way helped the powerless.” The verb uses the singular form, for Job is replying to Bildad. the powerless!tn The “powerless” is expressed here by the negative before the word for “strength; power” – “him who has no power” (see GKC 482 §152.u, v).
How you have saved the person who has no strength!tn Heb “the arm [with] no strength.” Here too the negative expression is serving as a relative clause to modify “arm,” the symbol of strength and power, which by metonymy stands for the whole person. “Man of arm” denoted the strong in 22:8.
3 How you have advised the one without wisdom,
and abundantlytc The phrase לָרֹב (larov) means “to abundance” or “in a large quantity.” It is also used ironically like all these expressions. This makes very good sense, but some wish to see a closer parallel and so offer emendations. Reiske and Kissane thought “to the tender” for the word. But the timid are not the same as the ignorant and unwise. So Graetz supplied “to the boorish” by reading לְבָעַר (lÿba’ar). G. R. Driver did the same with less of a change: לַבּוֹר (labbor; HTR 29 [1936]: 172). revealed your insight!
4 To whomtn The verse begins with the preposition and the interrogative: אֶת־מִי (’et-mi, “with who[se help]?”). Others take it as the accusative particle introducing the indirect object: “for whom did you utter…” (see GKC 371 §117.gg). Both are possible. did you utter these words?
And whose spirit has come forth from your mouth?tn Heb “has gone out from you.”
A Better Description of God’s Greatnesssn This is the section, Job 26:5-14, that many conclude makes better sense coming from the friend. But if it is attributed to Job, then he is showing he can surpass them in his treatise of the greatness of God.
5 “The deadtn The text has הָרְפָאִים (harÿfa’im, “the shades”), referring to the “dead,” or the elite among the dead (see Isa 14:9; 26:14; Ps 88:10 [11]). For further discussion, start with A. R. Johnson, The Vitality of the Individual, 88ff. trembletn The verb is a Polal from חִיל (khil) which means “to tremble.” It shows that even these spirits cannot escape the terror.
those beneath the waters
and all that live in them.tc Most commentators wish to lengthen the verse and make it more parallel, but nothing is gained by doing this.
6 The underworldtn Heb “Sheol.” is naked before God;tn Heb “before him.”
the place of destruction lies uncovered.tn The line has “and there is no covering for destruction.” “Destruction” here is another name for Sheol: אֲבַדּוֹן (’avaddon, “Abaddon”).
7 He spreads out the northern skiessn The Hebrew word is צָפוֹן (tsafon). Some see here a reference to Mount Zaphon of the Ugaritic texts, the mountain that Baal made his home. The Hebrew writers often equate and contrast Mount Zion with this proud mountain of the north. Of course, the word just means north, and so in addition to any connotations for pagan mythology, it may just represent the northern skies – the stars. Since the parallel line speaks of the earth, that is probably all that was intended in this particular context. over empty space;sn There is an allusion to the creation account, for this word is תֹּהוּ (tohu), translated “without form” in Gen 1:2.
he suspends the earth on nothing.sn Buttenwieser suggests that Job had outgrown the idea of the earth on pillars, and was beginning to see it was suspended in space. But in v. 11 he will still refer to the pillars.
8 He locks the waters in his clouds,
and the clouds do not burst with the weight of them.
9 He concealstn The verb means “to hold; to seize,” here in the sense of shutting up, enshrouding, or concealing. the face of the full moon,tc The MT has כִסֵּה (khisseh), which is a problematic vocalization. Most certainly כֵּסֶה (keseh), alternative for כֶּסֶא (kese’, “full moon”) is intended here. The MT is close to the form of “throne,” which would be כִּסֵּא (kisse’, cf. NLT “he shrouds his throne with his clouds”). But here God is covering the face of the moon by hiding it behind clouds.
shrouding it with his clouds.
10 He marks out the horizontn The expression חֹק־חָג (khoq-khag) means “he has drawn a limit as a circle.” According to some the form should have been חָק־חוּג (khaq-khug, “He has traced a circle”). But others argues that the text is acceptable as is, and can be interpreted as “a limit he has circled.” The Hebrew verbal roots are חָקַק (khaqaq, “to engrave; to sketch out; to trace”) and חוּג (khug, “describe a circle”) respectively. on the surface of the waters
as a boundary between light and darkness.
11 The pillarssn H. H. Rowley (Job [NCBC], 173) says these are the great mountains, perceived to hold up the sky. of the heavens tremble
and are amazed at his rebuke.sn The idea here is that when the earth quakes, or when there is thunder in the heavens, these all represent God’s rebuke, for they create terror.
12 By his power he stillstn The verb רָגַע (raga’) has developed a Semitic polarity, i.e., having totally opposite meanings. It can mean “to disturb; to stir up” or “to calm; to still.” Gordis thinks both meanings have been invoked here. But it seems more likely that “calm” fits the context better. the sea;
by his wisdom he cut Rahab the great sea monstertn Heb “Rahab” (רָהַב), the mythical sea monster that represents the forces of chaos in ancient Near Eastern literature. In the translation the words “the great sea monster” have been supplied appositionally in order to clarify “Rahab.” to pieces.sn Here again there are possible mythological allusions or polemics. The god Yam, “Sea,” was important in Ugaritic as a god of chaos. And Rahab is another name for the monster of the deep (see Job 9:13).
13 By his breathtn Or “wind”; or perhaps “Spirit.” The same Hebrew word, רוּחַ (ruakh), may be translated as “wind,” “breath,” or “spirit/Spirit” depending on the context. the skies became fair;
his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.sn Here too is a reference to pagan views indirectly. The fleeing serpent was a designation for Leviathan, whom the book will simply describe as an animal, but the pagans thought to be a monster of the deep. God’s power over nature is associated with defeat of pagan gods (see further W. F. Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan; idem, BASOR 53 [1941]: 39).
14 Indeed, these are but the outer fringes of his ways!tn Heb “the ends of his ways,” meaning “the fringes.”
How faint is the whispertn Heb “how little is the word.” Here “little” means a “fraction” or an “echo.” we hear of him!
But who can understand the thunder of his power?”