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Job 9:14-16 New English Translation (NET Bible)

The Impossibility of Facing God in Court

14 “How much less,[a] then, can I answer him[b]
and choose my words[c] to argue[d] with[e] him.[f]
15 Although[g] I am innocent,[h]
I could not answer him;[i]
I could only plead[j] with my judge[k] for mercy.
16 If I summoned him, and he answered me,[l]
I would not believe[m]
that he would be listening to my voice—


  1. Job 9:14 tn The construction אַף כִּי־אָנֹכִי (ʾaf ki ʾanokhi) is an expression that means either “how much more” or “how much less.” Here it has to mean “how much less,” for if powerful forces like Rahab are crushed beneath God’s feet, how could Job contend with him?
  2. Job 9:14 tn The imperfect verb here is to be taken with the nuance of a potential imperfect. The idea of “answer him” has a legal context, i.e., answering God in a court of law. If God is relentless in his anger toward greater powers, then Job realizes it is futile for him.
  3. Job 9:14 sn In a legal controversy with God it would be essential to choose the correct words very carefully (humanly speaking), but the calmness and presence of mind to do that would be shattered by the overwhelming terror of God’s presence.
  4. Job 9:14 tn The verb is supplied in this line.
  5. Job 9:14 tn The preposition אִם (ʾim, “with”) carries the idea of “in contest with” in a number of passages (compare vv. 2, 3; 16:21).
  6. Job 9:14 tn The LXX goes a different way after changing the first person to the third: “Oh then that he would hearken to me, or judge my cause.”
  7. Job 9:15 tn The line begins with אֲשֶׁר (ʾasher, “which”), which is omitted in the LXX and the Syriac. The particle אִם (ʾim) can introduce a concessive clause (GKC 498 §160.a) or a conditional clause (GKC 495 §159.n). The idea here seems to be “even if I were…I could not….”
  8. Job 9:15 tn The verb is צָדַקְתִּי (tsadaqti, “I am right [or “righteous”]”). The term here must be forensic, meaning “in the right” or “innocent” (see 11:2; 13:18; 33:12; 40:8). Job is claiming to be in the right, but still has difficulty speaking to God.
  9. Job 9:15 tn The form is the Qal imperfect of the verb “answer.” As the text stands, Job is saying that he cannot answer or could not answer (contend with) God if given a chance. Some commentators think a Niphal fits better here: “I am not answered,” meaning God does not reply to him. This has the LXX, the Syriac, and Theodotion in support of it. The advantage would be to avoid the repetition of the same word from v. 14. But others rightly reject this, because all Job is saying here is that he would be too overwhelmed by God to answer him in court. The LXX change to a passive is understandable in that it would be seeking a different idea in this verse and without vocalization might have assumed a passive voice here.
  10. Job 9:15 tn The verb אֶתְחַנָּן (ʾetkhannan) is the Hitpael of חָנַן (khanan), meaning “seek favor,” make supplication,” or “plead for mercy.” The nuance would again be a modal nuance; if potential, then the translation would be “I could [only] plead for mercy.”
  11. Job 9:15 tn The word מְשֹׁפְטִי (meshofeti) appears to be simply “my judge.” But most modern interpretations take the Poel participle to mean “my adversary in a court of law.” Others argue that the form is at least functioning as a noun and means “judge” (see 8:5). This would fit better with the idea of appealing for mercy from God. The dilemma of Job, of course, is that the Lord would be both his adversary in the case and his judge.
  12. Job 9:16 sn The idea of “answer” in this line is that of responding to the summons, i.e., appearing in court. This preterite and the perfect before it have the nuance of hypothetical perfects since they are in conditional clauses (GKC 330 §111.x). D. J. A. Clines (Job [WBC], 219) translates literally, “If I should call and he should answer.”
  13. Job 9:16 tn The Hiphil imperfect in the apodosis of this conditional sentence expresses what would (not) happen if God answered the summons.
New English Translation (NET)

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