Verses 1-12 are about the first need for intercessors, sexual exploitation from the male point of view. Verses 13 to 23 (possibly excluding 23) concern his relationship with the poor. Verse 23 is perplexing and I leave it as a conundrum. It plays little part in the recurrence pattern of the chapter. The one word (apart from if/not) that links it to the poem is lift up/bear (נשא). Perhaps it is, in its central position, an important word in the poem.
Verses 24 to 28, dealing with riches and idolatry, result in the second appeal to the need for intercessors. Verses 29 to 34 relate to schadenfreude and dissimulation. Verse 35 appeals again to a hearing, or a record, of his insistence that he considers a crown. Finally there is an appeal to the land. In our day, the land also raises its voice against us.
If we are Job, we must remain insistent in our call against all the categories of sin that we are too aware of. I would say they are not all here: sexual deceit, exploitation, riches and idolatry, and finally the treatment of the earth are present. Violence is implied in these abuses. We are not righteous, but we can perhaps look for insistence and determination in our hope. Here verse 23 may be a comment from Job on his whole effort to keep God from being 'defined' by the hands of Deuteronomic logic. Three words provide a frame for the chapter, paces, record, and the Sufficient.
The other side of this logic remains clear in this chapter: care for others has been a guiding force for Job. His character reflects that of Yahweh in Psalm 146. In this way, Job reflects the character of the person of Psalm 112, but here many translations fall into the trap of emphasizing the wrong part of the sentences. Their inaccurate emphases give rise to false impressions in our readings. (This deserves a longer post, but some things like the prosperity Gospel are a distraction and I probably won't bother explaining.)
(Note: Verse 40 does not have an ole-veyored, but it is as close as it needs to be with the revia on the supertonic, to allow this to be phrased in the music as a tri-colon. A revia also marks a break in verses 34 and 35. The music would bear some analysis. It begins on the third showing a relationship with the prior chapter. Verse 12 is an emphatic comment on verse 11 with its start on a high C. Sentence structure is subtle in this chapter. Over to you.)
|בְּ֭רִית כָּרַ֣תִּי לְעֵינָ֑י |
וּמָ֥ה אֶ֝תְבּוֹנֵ֗ן עַל־בְּתוּלָֽה
|1||g||A covenant I have cut for my eye, |
so why would I contemplate a virgin?
|וּמֶ֤ה ׀ חֵ֣לֶק אֱל֣וֹהַּ מִמָּ֑עַל |
וְֽנַחֲלַ֥ת שַׁ֝דַּ֗י מִמְּרֹמִֽים
|2||C||And what is the share of God from above, |
and an inheritance of the Sufficient from the heights?
|הֲלֹא־אֵ֥יד לְעַוָּ֑ל |
וְ֝נֵ֗כֶר לְפֹ֣עֲלֵי אָֽוֶן
|3||Is not misfortune for the unjust, |
and alienation for the workers of mischief?
|הֲלֹא־ה֭וּא יִרְאֶ֣ה דְרָכָ֑י |
|4||Does not he see my ways, |
and all my paces record?
|אִם־הָלַ֥כְתִּי עִם־שָׁ֑וְא |
וַתַּ֖חַשׁ עַל־מִרְמָ֣ה רַגְלִֽי
|5||If I walk with vanity, |
and my foot hurries to deceit,
|יִשְׁקְלֵ֥נִי בְמֹאזְנֵי־צֶ֑דֶק |
וְיֵדַ֥ע אֱ֝ל֗וֹהַּ תֻּמָּתִֽי
|6||let me be weighed in a just balance, |
that God may know my completeness.
|אִ֥ם תִּטֶּ֣ה אַשֻּׁרִי֮ מִנִּ֪י הַ֫דָּ֥רֶךְ |
וְאַחַ֣ר עֵ֭ינַי הָלַ֣ךְ לִבִּ֑י
וּ֝בְכַפַּ֗י דָּ֣בַק מֻאֽוּם פ
|7||f||If my steps have swerved from the way, |
and following my eyes, my heart has walked,
then to my palm clings a spot.
|אֶ֭זְרְעָה וְאַחֵ֣ר יֹאכֵ֑ל |
|8||g||Let me sow and another eat, |
and my offspring be uprooted.
|אִם־נִפְתָּ֣ה לִ֭בִּי עַל־אִשָּׁ֑ה |
וְעַל־פֶּ֖תַח רֵעִ֣י אָרָֽבְתִּי
|9||If my heart is seduced over a woman, |
and at the door of my associate, I have lurked,
|תִּטְחַ֣ן לְאַחֵ֣ר אִשְׁתִּ֑י |
וְ֝עָלֶ֗יהָ יִכְרְע֥וּן אֲחֵרִֽין
|10||let my wife grind for another, |
and over her let others kneel.
|כִּי־הִ֥יא זִמָּ֑ה |
וְ֝ה֗וּא עָוֺ֥ן פְּלִילִֽים
|11||for this is agenda, |
and this is iniquity for intercessors.
|כִּ֤י אֵ֣שׁ הִ֭יא עַד־אֲבַדּ֣וֹן תֹּאכֵ֑ל |
|12||C||Because this fire to Abaddon devours, |
and in all my conduct, would uproot.
|אִם־אֶמְאַ֗ס מִשְׁפַּ֣ט עַ֭בְדִּי וַאֲמָתִ֑י |
|13||If I refuse the judgment of my manservant or my maidservant, |
in their contention about me,
|וּמָ֣ה אֶֽ֭עֱשֶׂה כִּֽי־יָק֣וּם אֵ֑ל |
וְכִֽי־יִ֝פְקֹ֗ד מָ֣ה אֲשִׁיבֶֽנּוּ
|14||B||then what will I do when the One arises? |
And when he visits, how will I turn to him?
|הֲֽ֝לֹא־בַ֭בֶּטֶן עֹשֵׂ֣נִי עָשָׂ֑הוּ |
וַ֝יְכֻנֶ֗נּוּ בָּרֶ֥חֶם אֶחָֽד
|15||Has not from the belly he who made me made him, |
and prepared us in the womb as one?
|אִם־אֶ֭מְנַע מֵחֵ֣פֶץ דַּלִּ֑ים |
וְעֵינֵ֖י אַלְמָנָ֣ה אֲכַלֶּֽה
|16||If I have withheld the weak from delight, |
and caused the eyes of a widow to be faint,
|וְאֹכַ֣ל פִּתִּ֣י לְבַדִּ֑י |
וְלֹא־אָכַ֖ל יָת֣וֹם מִמֶּֽנָּה
|17||or have eaten my morsel alone, |
and an orphan not has eaten from it,
|כִּ֣י מִ֭נְּעוּרַי גְּדֵלַ֣נִי כְאָ֑ב |
וּמִבֶּ֖טֶן אִמִּ֣י אַנְחֶֽנָּה
|18||B||(for from my youth he grew up with me as father, |
and from the belly of my mother I guided her)
|אִם־אֶרְאֶ֣ה א֭וֹבֵד מִבְּלִ֣י לְב֑וּשׁ |
וְאֵ֥ין כְּ֝ס֗וּת לָאֶבְיֽוֹן
|19||If I have seen one perishing without clothing, |
and there is no covering for the needy,
|אִם־לֹ֣א בֵרֲכ֣וּנִי חֲלָצָ֑יו |
וּמִגֵּ֥ז כְּ֝בָשַׂי יִתְחַמָּֽם
|20||If he has not blessed me for his rescue, |
and from the fleece of my young lambs he grows warm,
|אִם־הֲנִיפ֣וֹתִי עַל־יָת֣וֹם יָדִ֑י |
כִּֽי־אֶרְאֶ֥ה בַ֝שַּׁ֗עַר עֶזְרָתִֽי
|21||If I have brandished against an orphan my hand, |
when I see at the gate help that is mine,
|כְּ֭תֵפִי מִשִּׁכְמָ֣ה תִפּ֑וֹל |
וְ֝אֶזְרֹעִ֗י מִקָּנָ֥ה תִשָּׁבֵֽר
|22||g||Let my shoulder from its backside fall, |
and my arm's acquisitiveness be broken.
|כִּ֤י פַ֣חַד אֵ֭לַי אֵ֣יד אֵ֑ל |
וּ֝מִשְּׂאֵת֗וֹ לֹ֣א אוּכָֽל
|23||C||For my dread is the misfortune of the One, |
and from lifting him up I will not endure.
|אִם־שַׂ֣מְתִּי זָהָ֣ב כִּסְלִ֑י |
וְ֝לַכֶּ֗תֶם אָמַ֥רְתִּי מִבְטַחִֽי
|24||If I have set gold as my folly, |
or to fine gold I have said, My trust.
|אִם־אֶ֭שְׂמַח כִּי־רַ֣ב חֵילִ֑י |
וְכִֽי־כַ֝בִּ֗יר מָצְאָ֥ה יָדִֽי
|25||If I am glad because my wealth is increased, |
or because my hand found a great deal,
|אִם־אֶרְאֶ֣ה א֖וֹר כִּ֣י יָהֵ֑ל |
וְ֝יָרֵ֗חַ יָקָ֥ר הֹלֵֽךְ
|26||If I see light that blustering, |
or the moon precious in procession,
|וַיִּ֣פְתְּ בַּסֵּ֣תֶר לִבִּ֑י |
וַתִּשַּׁ֖ק יָדִ֣י לְפִֽי
|27||and seduced in secret is my heart, |
and my mouth has kissed my hand,
|גַּם־ה֭וּא עָוֺ֣ן פְּלִילִ֑י |
כִּֽי־כִחַ֖שְׁתִּי לָאֵ֣ל מִמָּֽעַל
|28||Also this is iniquity for an intercessor, |
for I would disown the One from above.
|אִם־אֶ֭שְׂמַח בְּפִ֣יד מְשַׂנְאִ֑י |
וְ֝הִתְעֹרַ֗רְתִּי כִּֽי־מְצָ֥אוֹ רָֽע
|29||If I am glad in the disaster of someone who hates me, |
or rouse myself when evil finds him,
|וְלֹא־נָתַ֣תִּי לַחֲטֹ֣א חִכִּ֑י |
לִשְׁאֹ֖ל בְּאָלָ֣ה נַפְשֽׁוֹ
|30||and I have not given my palate to sin, |
by asking with imprecation for his very self.
|אִם־לֹ֣א אָ֭מְרוּ מְתֵ֣י אָהֳלִ֑י |
מִֽי־יִתֵּ֥ן מִ֝בְּשָׂר֗וֹ לֹ֣א נִשְׂבָּֽע
|31||If the men of my tent had not said, |
Who will give of his flesh? We are not satisfied.
|בַּ֭חוּץ לֹא־יָלִ֣ין גֵּ֑ר |
דְּ֝לָתַ֗י לָאֹ֥רַח אֶפְתָּֽח
|32||g||A guest does not lodge outside. |
My gateway I opened as a path.
|אִם־כִּסִּ֣יתִי כְאָדָ֣ם פְּשָׁעָ֑י |
לִטְמ֖וֹן בְּחֻבִּ֣י עֲוֺֽנִי
|33||If I cover as a human my transgression, |
and bury in my inner core my iniquity,
|כִּ֤י אֶֽעֱר֨וֹץ ׀ הָ֘מ֤וֹן רַבָּ֗ה וּבוּז־מִשְׁפָּח֥וֹת יְחִתֵּ֑נִי |
וָ֝אֶדֹּ֗ם לֹא־אֵ֥צֵא פָֽתַח
|34||C||when I could be ruthless, an abundant tumult, and the contempt of families, dismayed, |
but I am mute. I did not come out the opening.
|מִ֤י יִתֶּן־לִ֨י ׀ שֹׁ֘מֵ֤עַֽ לִ֗י הֶן־תָּ֭וִי שַׁדַּ֣י יַעֲנֵ֑נִי |
וְסֵ֥פֶר כָּ֝תַ֗ב אִ֣ישׁ רִיבִֽי
|35||C||Who will give me a hearing? Me! Lo my constraining that the Sufficient will answer me, |
and someone contending against me had written a record.
|אִם־לֹ֣א עַל־שִׁ֭כְמִי אֶשָּׂאֶ֑נּוּ |
אֶֽעֶנְדֶ֖נּוּ עֲטָר֣וֹת לִֽי
|36||If not about my insistence I would bear it, |
and tie it on as my crown,
|מִסְפַּ֣ר צְ֭עָדַי אַגִּידֶ֑נּוּ |
|37||The record of my paces I would tell him. |
Like a herald I would approach him.
|אִם־עָ֭לַי אַדְמָתִ֣י תִזְעָ֑ק |
וְ֝יַ֗חַד תְּלָמֶ֥יהָ יִבְכָּיֽוּן
|38||If against me my ground would appeal, |
and as one her ridges weeping,
|אִם־כֹּ֭חָהּ אָכַ֣לְתִּי בְלִי־כָ֑סֶף |
וְנֶ֖פֶשׁ בְּעָלֶ֣יהָ הִפָּֽחְתִּי
|39||If her power I have eaten without silver, |
and the being of her owner I made to exhale,
|תַּ֤חַת חִטָּ֨ה ׀ יֵ֥צֵא ח֗וֹחַ וְתַֽחַת־שְׂעֹרָ֥ה בָאְשָׁ֑ה |
תַּ֝֗מּוּ דִּבְרֵ֥י אִיּֽוֹב פ
|40||C||Under wheat let thorn come forth, and under barley bindweed. |
Complete are the words of Job.