Young's Literal has this:

YLT Job 24:1 Wherefore from the Mighty One Times have not been hidden, And those knowing Him have not seen His days.

There seems to be some concern about the "times" not being "hidden" and yet "those knowing Him have not seen his days".

But the translations seem to relate the "times" to "appointments for judgment":

NIV Job 24:1 "Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?

See also:


Lexham English Septuagint simply has:

And ⌊why⌋* does time go unnoticed by the Lord?

Rhalf's LXX Job 24:1 διὰ τί δὲ κύριον ἔλαθον ὧραι

So what is Job's actual concern?


5 Answers 5


It seems like an expression of impatience for God to deal (judge) with the wicked of his day, becuase next he gose on to list some of the things that bad people do and bad things that happen.

Here is an interesting cross ref from the NWT:-

Habakkuk 1:2 How long, O Jehovah, must I cry for help, but you do not hear? How long must I ask for help from violence, but you do not intervene?

  • The context of the same chapter in English seems quite adequate to me.
    – user26950
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 16:36
  • If you want to thats fine. It seems to me that the English work well. A quick skim down Job ch 24 in the NIV Hebrew-English interliner OT show that to me.
    – user26950
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 16:56
  • I know (or at least surmise) that the context is a complaint that God is not coming to aid as promised, expected, hoped, needed and asked for. I just don't know why the Hebrew seems to make it hard to express whatever the prophet is wanting to express. How do we get to that complaint from the Hebrew? That is the question.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 14:08
  • +1 I believe that’s a good rendering of the text especially considering the context of Job’s suffering Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 13:05
  • @Autodidact I find that the NWT has some of the best rendering of Bible texts I have ever read, despite the bad press it get from some people.
    – user26950
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 13:26

Great question.

‎מַדּ֗וּעַ מִ֭שַּׁדַּי לֹא־נִצְפְּנ֣וּ עִתִּ֑ים [וְיֹדְעֹו כ] (וְ֝יֹדְעָ֗יו ק) לֹא־חָ֥זוּ יָמָֽיו׃

Job follows this initial query by describing many occasions of visible injustice, including stealing from the poor and needy, driving them out of shelter, forcing them to starve even as they work to provide oil and wine for 'the wicked'.

they tread the wine presses, but suffer thirst. (Job 24:11)

He then points out the apparent lack of response from God:

From out of the city the dying groan, and the soul of the wounded cries for help; yet God pays no attention to their prayer. (Job 24:12)

Job also contrasts these visible occasions with the murderers, thieves and adulterers who operate in darkness and disguise:

The murderer rises in the dark, that he may kill the poor and needy; and in the night he is as a thief.  The eye of the adulterer also waits for the twilight, saying, ‘No eye will see me’; and he disguises his face. (Job 24:14-15)

He then points out that their ability to get away with this behaviour conflicts with the swift justice that his friend proclaims:

You say, ‘They are swiftly carried away upon the face of the waters; their portion is cursed in the land; no treader turns toward their vineyards.  Drought and heat snatch away the snow waters; so does Sheol those who have sinned.  The squares of the town forget them; their name is no longer remembered; so wickedness is broken like a tree.’ (Job 24: 18-20)

Job attests to the prolonged life, security and support afforded to these 'abbirim' ('bullish' animals, mighty, violent men) who live and die just like everyone else, despite God seeing what they do.

Yet God prolongs the life of the mighty by his power; they rise up when they despair of life.  He gives them security, and they are supported; and his eyes are upon their ways.  They are exalted a little while, and then are gone; they wither and fade like all; they are cut off like the heads of grain. (Job 24: 22-24)

In returning to the opening query, we need to acknowledge first of all that the various attempts at translation are hampered by an obligation to write down an English word or phrase, or to come up with a cohesive sentence that encompasses the meanings, rather than seek to understand (without need for words) the human experience being communicated.

So, before we attempt a translation, we should note that several Hebrew words appear to be commonly translated with English terms that restricts the fullness of their meaning:

niṣ·pə·nū נִצְפְּנ֣וּ is often translated either as 'stored' or as 'hidden', but more likely means both of these at once - 'kept out of sight'.

‘it·tîm עִתִּ֑ים refers not so much to 'time' as to specific 'occasions' or incidents.

yā·māw יָמָֽיו refers not so much to 'days' as to 'the span of one's existence' or lifespan.


Job's concern appears to be why certain 'occasions' of injustice are in full view of everyone', not 'kept out of sight', and yet 'he who knows God' has no view of 'the span of one's existence', no way of knowing when (or why) this life will end for them or for anyone else.

  • Are you saying that Job was concerned judgment for wrong doing is delayed for a certain future occasion that only God knows about and is frustrated that it’s kept a secret from men who wait for justice? Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 13:06
  • 1
    I think his concern or question was why injustice is well known, but the lifespan of a righteous man is as unknown as that of murderers, adulterers and thieves. It is a challenge to his friend’s claim that God deals ‘swiftly’ with evildoers, implying that Job must have done something wrong to be so afflicted in life. Job’s main argument is that suffering is clearly not caused by sin. Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 15:05
  • That’s a very interesting observation. Based on his friend’s argument I could see that being a valid argument, namely, if sin is punished swiftly why then aren’t those who have obviously sinned punished swiftly too? I don’t know that he can make the case that suffering is not as a result of sin. It made it more difficult to identify his (Job) own sin using that argument and logic. It certainly made Job seem like he had a defense for ‘his own’ righteousness which he was asserting but essentially failed to attribute to its rightful owner, God. Which was Job’s sin Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 16:40
  • I don’t think it’s that simple. We assume that Job is an actual historical person, but this can’t be verified. We also assume that because he’s a human experiencing suffering, he must have sinned - but there is no evidence to that effect. We read more into the text than is actually there when we try to name Job’s sin. Job is a hypothetically righteous character who suffers loss, pain and humiliation - but does he suffer because he deserves to suffer, or because he mistakenly believes his righteousness protects him from experiencing loss, pain and humiliation as an unavoidable part of life? Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 5:00
  • Beside the obvious things I disagree with your assessment of Job’s legitimacy I’ll add to that the fact the God never calls him righteous. No not once. Blameless and upright yes but in the Hebrew it doesn’t attribute תּמים tamiym to Job. He suffers because he failed to Job 36:3 ascribe righteousness to his Maker. Instead Job 32:1 he was righteous in his own eyes. Yet we know Proverbs 16:5 “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.” ‭‭Job mistakenly placed a sticker with his name on it on top of God’s righteousness and paid for his sin. Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 6:20

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?

  • In the NT a similar argument is presented by Peter in 1 Pet 2:9. This deep topic must be a warning for all the Creator's believers: also if we are not always fully aware of the time of the days of judgement of God, we have to behave ourselves according the divine principles. Commented Dec 9, 2018 at 17:20

As I mentioned in my original question, I double posted this question on the Biblical Hebrew forum. I received this response from Michael W Abernathy, affirming the NIV rendering:

מַדּ֗וּעַ מִ֭שַּׁדַּי לֹא־נִצְפְּנ֣וּ עִתִּ֑ים וְ֝יֹדְ֯עָ֗ו לֹא־חָ֥זוּ יָמָֽיו׃ Halot gives multiple meanings for צפן including keeping, storing, reserving, treasuring, etc. A literal translation could be, “Why aren’t times reserved by the Almighty?” As for the aspect of judgment, Keil and Delitzsch comment that עִתִּ֑ים appears to be comparable to the Arab ‛idât, “which signifies predetermined reward or punishment.” Again Halot suggests it means judgment in several passages, “time of judgement, time of the end לָבוֹא עִתָּהּ Is 1322 (of Babel), Ezk 223 (of Jerusalem), עֵת אַרְצוֹ Jr 277; עֶת־קֵץ Da 817, = עֵת קֵץ 1135.40 124.9; בָּא הָעֵת Ezk 77.12, עֵת עֲוֹן קֵץ the time of final punishment 2130.34 355.” So, “Why aren’t times of judgment reserved by the Almighty?” seems quite reasonable.

Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994–2000), 901.

That raises my confidence that the NIV ("Nearly Infallible Version") is on the right track.

Brenton renders the Greek like this:

Brenton Septuagint Translation Job 24:1 But why have the seasons been hidden from the Lord,

[Job 24:1 LXX] (1) διὰ τί δὲ κύριον ἔλαθον ὧραι

Curiously, the Greek changes it from the LORD not disclosing the days set for judgment to the days of judgment being hidden from the Lord!

The NT appears to ignore the Greek here and alludes to the Hebrew reading:

[Matthew 24:36 NASB20] (36) "But about that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

[Mark 13:32 NASB20] (32) "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father [alone.]

[Acts 1:7 NASB20] (7) But He said to them, "It is not for you to know periods of time or appointed times which the Father has set by His own authority;

[John 5:30 NKJV] (30) "I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

[John 8:28 NKJV] (28) Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [He], and [that] I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.

God had not revealed the time of his return. If he knew, he would have told his friends:

[John 15:15 NIV] (15) I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

However, he knew that it would be in the then current, non-overlapping generation:

[Matthew 23:36 NKJV] (36) "Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

[Matthew 24:34 NKJV] (34) "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

[Mark 13:30 NKJV] (30) "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

[Luke 11:30, 32, 50-51 NKJV] (30) "For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. ... (32) "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah [is] here. ... (50) "that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, (51) "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation.

[Luke 21:32 NKJV] (32) "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place.

Later, he was given a revelation from God of many of the specifics of his return:

[Revelation 1:1-3 NKJV] (1) The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified [it] by His angel to His servant John, (2) who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. (3) Blessed [is] he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time [is] near.




Let's put Job 24:1 in context: it is part of Job’s Reply (Job 23:1-24:25) to to Eliphaz’s Third Speech (Job 22:1-30), where Job's "friend" reaffirms his position: for Job to be in such misery, he must have sinned against God.

Here is the verse under scrutiny, in the NETBible translation:

“Why are times not appointed by the Almighty? Why do those who know him not see his days?” (Job 24:1 NET)

The "times (not) appointed" and the "days" refer to God's Judgment, when the unrighteous will get their just desserts.

  • Interesting reading in the NET. It seems it understands the righteous to NOT have an opportunity to present their case while the ones who don't know him know when they will be judged. Is that how you understand it? Also, Servetus is a hero of mine as well!
    – Ruminator
    Commented May 24, 2021 at 21:08
  • Ruminator, I normally use NET, but ESV is generally just as good. I have my ideas about the Book of Job, but I do not want to openly publicize them here, sorry. I you like Servetus, I suggest that you explore Marcellus of Ancyra :) Commented May 24, 2021 at 21:22
  • Can you tell me if you think I'm understanding the NET's take on the meaning? Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Commented May 24, 2021 at 21:25
  • I was not aware that the NET had a special "take", also because the other I have checked, the ESV, is virtually identical. I believe they are both faithful translations of the original Hebrew. Commented May 24, 2021 at 21:41
  • Okay, thanks...
    – Ruminator
    Commented May 24, 2021 at 21:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.