It isn’t easy to translate several passages of the book of Job, not only for its peculiar poetic style, but also due to the not-optimal condition possessed by the texts that have been passed to us through tradition (I see already the unerring&God-inspired-MT sustainers turn up their nose at this assertion. But, I also believe the Bible is “inspired by God”, only not on a verbatim basis, necessarily; but on concepts basis, necessarily. These guys should read more Emanuel Tov’s essays, or similar ones…).
In this case (presented by a brisky Ruminator) we have – I think – enough clues (in the Job’s book, and in other Bible occurrences) to understand the concept Job expressed in this passage.
The passage at issue: “Why are not times of judgment kept [צפן] by the Almighty, and why do those who know [ידע] him never see his days?” (Job 24:1, English Standard Version)
The chapter 23 is the beginning of this Job’s reply to Eliphaz. The pivotal points he used are legalistic ones: ‘cause, case’ (23:4), ‘judge’ (23:7), and through this groove Job continues also in chapter 24.
In other words, Job wants to be heared/judged by God, since he consider himself innocent. Yet, Job presented a very similar argument in his previous reply (to Zophar) in chapter 21. In fact, we read: “How often is the lamp of the wicked put out, and their disaster comes upon them? He distributes pains in his anger. (18) How often are they like straw before the wind, and like chaff that the storm carries away? (19) ‘God stores up [צפן] his iniquity for his children’? Then let him repay it to him that he may know [ידע] [the ‘repayment’]. (20) Let his eyes see his decay, and let him drink from the wrath of Shaddai.” (21:17-20, Lexham)
Job is complaining about the fact that rarely (“How often…?” was a Job’s rhetorical question to his ‘friends’, which answer is ‘rarely’, implicitly) God makes justice against the bad behaviour of wicked ones. Job hopes God may “repay it [the wicked’s iniquity] to him [to the wicked] that he [the wicked] may know”.
So, on the level of argument, Job 21:17:20 is the same of 24:1.
But, also on the level of pivotal terms, Job 21:17:20 is the same of 24:1. In fact, like you may see, the two pivotal terms are identical in both passages: צפן and ידע.
The first verb [צפן] in this context (like in Psa 31:20; Son 7:14, but also on Job 23:12) has the meaning of ‘to kept in store (something for an apt time)’. The second verb (very common in MT) means [ידע] ‘to know’.
All this factors confirm the fact that the Job’s argument of 24:1 could be the following on-the-whole paraphrastic translation:
“For what reason from the Bestower are not kept in store [צפן] times (of judgment)? And (for what reason) the one knows [ידע] Him [Job included himself in the whole ‘who knows God’] do not perceive His days?”