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I see that there are different translations of this verse. All did not seem to be satisfying. So I was wondering could it be possible to translate it as:

“To the one in despair his friends [withheld] kindness and [told] he [the one in despair] abandoned the fear of the Lord.”

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  • As proposed, I find your reading unintelligible. Perhaps you could provide some punctuation? Also, shall I assume you are working from an interlinear?
    – Ruminator
    Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 16:39
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    – Dottard
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  • Does this answer your question? What is the best translation of Job 6:14?
    – Michael16
    Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 18:01

2 Answers 2

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Job 6:14 is frustratingly terse - in the Hebrew it is only six words! It reads literally:

To the despairing friend - kindness and fear [of the?] almighty [he] forsakes

Ellicott summarizes the difficulty in translating this verse:

(14) But he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.—It is difficult to determine the precise relation of dependent clauses in an archaic language like the Hebrew; but the Authorised Version is, at all events, not correct here, the sense rather being, “Even to one that forsaketh the fear of the Almighty;” or, perhaps, better still, “lest he should forsake;” or, “he may even forsake,” &c.

The common versions have translations that can be grouped into three categories:

  1. ESV & NIV: He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.

  2. BSB * NKJV: A despairing man should have the kindness of his friend, even if he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.

  3. NASB & AB: “For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend; So that he does not abandon the fear of the Almighty.

That is, we must decide, based on the single verb "forsakes":

  • whether the friend or the despairing man is its subject
  • whether forsaking the Almighty is conditional or compensatory or absolute.

Even the context is little help here. Thus, Job 6:14 reads more like a proverb than a line of poetry.

Thus, no final conclusion is possible. For what it is worth, I prefer the NASB translation, but I do not insist upon it.

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  • + 1 and thanks for the lesson in biblical Hebrew. However, I think the context is more helpful than you indicate. 6:14 is the start of a section bemoaning Job's treatment by his friends, but he is not in danger of abandoning fear of God. (6:4 - 'the terrors of God are arrayed against me.') So I think the ESV and NIV have it right.. Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 15:17
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Your translation as stands is obscure.

The Hebrew text of Job 6:14 is as follows:

לַמָּ֣ס מֵרֵעֵ֣הוּ חָ֑סֶד וְיִרְאַ֖ת שַׁדַּ֣י יַעֲזֽוֹב׃ lammās mērēʿēhû ḥāsed, wəyirʾat šadday yaʿăzôb

I prefer to interpret Job as saying that failing to be compassionate to others is equivalent to turning away from God's fear; that is, it is equivalent to having no reverence for God. According to this viewpoint, the person who has no love for a friend also has no respect for God. The use of the third person may be confusing to translators.

This is a good book to help with translating Job.

Reyburn, Wiliam. A Handbook on Job. New York: UBS, 1992

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