English Standard Version

Job 16:19 Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high. 20My friends scorn me; my eye pours out tears to God, 21that he would argue the case of a man with God, as a son of man does with his neighbor.

2 Answers 2


I am somewhat perplexed by the ESV translation "son of man" in Job 16:21. Only a few versions have this innovation such as, ASV, DRB, ERV, NHEB, etc. Most versions correctly have "man", "human", etc.

The operative Hebrew word here is אָדָם (adam) which simply means, "man, mankind" (BDB) eg, Gen 1:26, 27, 2:5, 7, 8, 15-25, 3:8, 9, etc.

I am at a loss to understand the interpretive and innovative translation of ASV, DRB, ERV, NHEB, etc.

In any case, "son of man" is used dozens of times in the OT (eg, Eze 2:1, 3:1, 36:1, etc) and usually means (with some notable and important exceptions, Dan 7:13) "mortal man" and is applied to ordinary people.


"Son of man" means "human person; man." This is proven by the Aramaic translation, "bar enosh," meaning "the son of a man/human." The reason Jesus uses this for himself is that Daniel uses it of the prophetic "one like a son of man" who is worshipped by all nations in Daniel 7. So "Son of man" in any other context than that of the Messiah, the "one like a son of man [yet worshipped unlike a son of man]" means simply, 'one born of a woman' - any human.

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