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Some take this to say that God establishes the powerful, others that he "drags them away".

The ESV says God "prolongs" the life of the powerful:

ESV Job 24:22: Yet God prolongs the life of the mighty by his power; they rise up when they despair of life.

But the NIV says he "drags them off":

NIV Job 24:22 But God drags away the mighty by his power; though they become established, they have no assurance of life.

The CEV has them "doomed to failure":

CEV Job 24:22 But God's mighty strength destroys those in power. Even if they seem successful, they are doomed to fail.

While the NIV suggests they are conscious of their eventual death:

NIV Job 24:22 But God drags away the mighty by his power; though they become established, they have no assurance of life.

So apparently the verse is a little obscure:

https://biblehub.com/job/24-22.htm

What is it really saying?

Notes:

Rhalf's LXX θυμῷ δὲ κατέστρεψεν ἀδυνάτους ἀναστὰς τοιγαροῦν οὐ μὴ πιστεύσῃ κατὰ τῆς ἑαυτοῦ ζωῆς

Hebrew וּמָשַׁ֣ךְ אַבִּירִ֣ים בְּכֹחֹ֑ו יָ֝ק֗וּם וְֽלֹא־יַאֲמִ֥ין בַּֽחַיִּֽין׃

https://parabible.com/Job/24

Lexham English Septuagint:

22 But in fury he overthrows the weak. Therefore raising up he shall not trust in his own life.

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  • Why you naming the header Job 24:22 ? – Master Oct 18 '18 at 14:47
  • What is the problem with that? – Ruminator Oct 18 '18 at 14:53
  • @Ruminator -- I think you may want to reconsider the premise of the question that "mighty" in this context means rich, and with it that Job is referring to "rich and powerful." Perhaps a better question is what does this term "mighty" refer to in various passages. Normally it refers to the strength and power of God when it refers to Him, like in Isa. 1:24; 49:26, and 60:16. – Ken Banks Oct 18 '18 at 16:22
  • Perhaps but the context, beginning in verse 3 certainly is of one who has great power within the society because they have resources/wealth. – Ruminator Oct 18 '18 at 16:30
  • @KenBanks I think the ESV is the only one who sees "rich" at all in the passage so I withdraw my objection to your observation and will change my question. Thanks Ken. – Ruminator Sep 8 '20 at 18:06
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Job 24:22 is a rather ambiguous verse. The actor here is not necessarily God.

Yet by his power,
בְּכֹח֑וֹ (bə·ḵō·ḥōw)
Preposition-b | Noun - masculine singular construct | third person masculine singular Strong's Hebrew 3581: A small reptile (of unknown species)

he drags away
וּמָשַׁ֣ךְ (ū·mā·šaḵ)
Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Conjunctive perfect - third person masculine singular Strong's Hebrew 4900: To draw, drag

Albert Barnes gave this interpretation.

He draweth also the mighty with his power - The word here rendered draweth (משׁך mâshak ), means to draw; and then, to lay hold of, to take, to take away, and, hence, to remove, to destroy; Psalm 28:3; Ezekiel 22:20. The idea here seems to be, that his acts of oppression and cruelty were not confined to the poor and the defenseless. Even the great and the mighty were also exposed, and he spared none. No one was safe, and no rights could be regarded as secure. The character here described is one that pertains to a tyrant, or a conqueror, and Job probably meant to describe some such mighty man, who was regardless alike of the rights of the high and the low.

He riseth up - When he rises up; that is, when he enters on an enterprise, or goes forth to accomplish his wicked purposes.

And no man is sure of life - From the dread of him even the great and mighty have no security. This language will well describe the character of an Oriental despot. Having absolute power, no man, not even the highest in rank, can feel that his life is safe if the monarch becomes in any way offended. Yet, Job says that even such a despot was permitted to live in prosperity, and to die without any remarkable proof of the divine displeasure.

What is Job 24:22 saying about the powerful?

The powerful tyrant can have absolute power over a nation of people, rich and poor. He can live a prosperous life and die without apparent divine judgment on him.

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  • Obviously, certainty is hard to come by with this passage (and much of Job) but I think the last clause works best with Barnes' take on the first clause. Thanks, Tony. – Ruminator Feb 6 at 19:31
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    Glad to be of service :) – Tony Chan Feb 6 at 19:38
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Granted, to translate the book of Job is a big undertaking, really.

Its peculiar style, including archaic poetry, along with a frequent use of elliptical sentences, makes very hard the work of a translator. Not to speak of the textual differences existing between MT and the other ancient translations…

However, a brief analysis of the context of the passage you asked for will help us to understand the sense of it.

To answer Eliphaz’ third speech (22:1-30), who accused the patriarch to be unrighteous - mishandling poors, widows, and orphans – Job replies with his 7th answer (if I have counted them right) to Eliphaz, and his ‘friends’.

The passage 22:19-24 is part of a coherent semantic section, which speaks about the final outcome of the wicked ones. Though Job did think God do not intervene always (on a regular basis) to do justice against the wicked ones (24:12b), he believe that the final outcome of them would be very grim (24:24), anyway.

In this instance, the global scope of MT, as well as, that of all translations agreed.

As regards to fix all the little details, it is a horse with another colour.


According the LXX English translation, performed by Lancelot Brenton, the passage (24:22) says (wording in square brackets are mine): “And in wrath he [the wicked one of the previous verse] has overthrown the helpless [αδυνατους]; therefore when he [the wicked one, again] has arisen * [he] [the wicked one, again] will not feel secure of his own life.”

(*) the expression ‘a man’ we found in this point of the verse is a Brenton’s addition to the Greek text, and he rightly distinguishes this words from the remnant of the text with the use of italics, just the same literary device utilized by KJV authors.

Old Itala (IT): “In ira evertit infirmos : consurgens ergo non credit contra vitam suam”.

As you see, there’s agreement between αδυνατους (‘without energy’, LXX) and infirmos (‘feeble ones’, IT).


Instead, the reading of MT is quite different (my loose translation) “and he draws [or, 'removes', as in Job 40:25; Psa 10:9] mighty ones [אבירים] by his power [בכח]. He rises up and not believe in the life.”

Note: The term for ‘life’ here [בחיין] is anomalous for Hebrew language (the more correct Hebrew term – in the case we argue there was a personal pronoun termination - is בחייו, ‘his life’).

Taking in no account the medieval Masoretic diacritical system, the term utilized in MT [בחיין] is identical to the Aramaic term (technically, plural), of ‘life’ (see Dan 7:12), which does not possess any personal pronoun termination. Please, also note how, since the graphical difference between בחיין and בחייו is reduced to the minimum (ן vs ו), it is simple suppose a scribal oversight. In fact, some Hebrew manuscripts read בחייו (‘his life’) instead of בחיין (‘life’, as in Aramaic).


Very interestingly, the Jerome Vulgate (“Detraxit fortes in fortitudine sua : & cum steterit, non credit vitæ suæ") agrees with MT, as regards the sense of ‘power’ (instead of that of ‘feebleness’ of the LXX/IT), but – simultaneously – agrees with LXX/IT as regards the final expression ‘his life’ (instead of that of ‘life’ of MT).

The Job’s Targum (TG) - too – utilizes an Aramaic ‘power’-like term (גבריא, literally, ‘full-bodied men’, as in Dan 3:23)


Summing up all the indications provided by these data we can conclude that the more probable original wording of this passage is the following (or alike). In the ‘footnotes’ I have included the textual testimonies which support/not support that term/expression. In square brackets I have added some terms, for clearness' sake, or to substitute some equivocal ones:

God(a) draws(b) also the mighty(c) ones with his power(d). The(e) wicked one rises(b) up, but being not sure(b) of his life(f)”.

a) literally, ‘He’.

b) according all the above-mentioned texts.

c) according MT, VG, TG.

d) according all the above-mentioned texts, except LXX, ‘wrath’, and IT, 'wrath'.

e) literally, ‘He’.

f) according all the above-mentioned texts, included 3 Hebrew manuscripts, but except MT (only 'life').

I hope these information will be useful for you search.

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Well there's a right mix!

The NWT reads:- Job 24:22

"God will use his strength to do away with the powerful; Though they may rise up, they have no assurance of life."

The NIV Hebrew-English interliner O.T. reads

"but-he-drags-away mighty-ones by-power-of-him he-becomes-established but-not he-has-assurance of-the-life."

It seems to imply that the strong and powerful etc. have no assurance of continued life or success, which is pointed out in verse 24, like everyone they will just pass on and go.

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  • Hi @user26950 and thank you for the response. However, just introducing translations doesn't really add anything not present in the question and is not considered a primary source. – Ruminator Feb 6 at 19:18

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