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Job 13:15 (NASB):

Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless, I will argue my ways before Him.

What does "hope" (אֲיַחֵ֑ל) mean in the context of "argue" (אֹוכִֽיחַ׃, decide/prove in the literal Hebrew)? How could Job hope in God while still arguing His innocence (if that is what he is trying to argue)? How does this verse align with verses 2-3 from Chapter 9, where Job states that no man can be right before God and no one could not dispute with Him?

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The operative word here is יָכַח (yakach) - a word occurring 59 times in the OT, meaning "decide, adjudge, prove' according to BDB.

In Job 13:15 it is variously translated as, defend, argue, plead, reprove, maintain my ways, etc. All of these are correct. It is one of the great characteristics of YHWH God He encourages debate, discussion to further understand Him. As evidence of this note the following:

  • Isa 1:18 - “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD.
  • The Psalms in hundreds of places have people questioning God who is always patient with such questions
  • Rom 3:4 ... As it is written: “That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You [God] are judged.”

However, Job realised he was a sinner as recorded later in the same chaper of Job 13:

V23: How many are my iniquities and sins? Reveal to me my transgression and sin. (See appendix below)

The Hope

Job's great HOPE is recorded in Job 19:23-27 -

I wish that my words were recorded and inscribed in a book, by an iron stylus on lead, or chiseled in stone forever. But I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the end He will stand upon the earth. Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. I will see Him for myself; my eyes will behold Him, and not as a stranger. How my heart yearns within me!

CONCLUSION

Thus, Job has three great characteristics:

  • He realized he was a sinner (although not as great as his "punishment" implied)
  • He wanted to question and debate with God to better understand Him
  • He earnestly yearned and hoped for the resurrection

APPENDIX - Comments on Job 13:23 -

Ellicott:

(23) How many are mine iniquities?—We must be careful to note that alongside with Job’s claim to be righteous there is ever as deep a confession of personal sin, thus showing that the only way in which we can understand his declarations is in the light of His teaching who convicts of sin before He convinces of righteousness.

Benson:

Job 13:23-24. How many are my sins? — That I am a sinner, I confess; but not that I am guilty of such crimes as my friends suppose; if it be so, do thou, O Lord, discover it. Wherefore hidest thou thy face? — Withdrawest thy favour and help, which thou hast been wont to afford me; and holdest me for thine enemy? — That is, dealest as sharply with me as if I were thy professed enemy.

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  • I think in v23, he was claiming not to be a sinner. Thus the challenge "reveal to me", with the connotation that they can't. Only after the theophany does Job change his position. – Robert Jan 11 at 22:08
  • @Robert - Thanks for your comment. I think that is likely partly correct - I think Job is making an argument of degree - a common problem for sinners. I have added something to the answer. – Dottard Jan 11 at 22:16
  • yes, another interpretation is Job demanding God show him what his sins are, because he honestly doesn't know what they are, and doesn't understand why this is happening. There is a lot of nuance in Job, it's a beautiful book. – Robert Jan 11 at 22:19
  • @Robert - agreed! Job is a work written by a literary genius and inspired by an omniscient but gracious God. – Dottard Jan 11 at 22:23

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