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?


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?

| improve this answer | |
  • The context of the same chapter in English seems quite adequate to me. – user26950 Oct 18 '18 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 Oct 18 '18 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 Nov 30 '18 at 14:08
  • +1 I believe that’s a good rendering of the text especially considering the context of Job’s suffering – Nihil Sine Deo Feb 8 '19 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 Feb 8 '19 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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 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? – Nihil Sine Deo Feb 8 '19 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. – Possibility Feb 8 '19 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 – Nihil Sine Deo Feb 8 '19 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? – Possibility Feb 9 '19 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. – Nihil Sine Deo Feb 9 '19 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?

| improve this answer | |
  • 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. – Saro Fedele Dec 9 '18 at 17:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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