Job 42.7—8

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I have been away from the blogosphere for a while now.  I wish that this didn\’t have my dates so obviously displayed, because then I could pretend that it has not been over a month since my first, and last, post.  However, finishing up the summer work that I had, beginning the fall semester, and continuing in the application process for my PhD dreams has left me with less time than I would like, though more than I have productively utilized. 
However, while reading through Job the other day, I came upon an oddity that I\’d like to share.  Job 42.7 reads:
    איוב–אל האלה הדברימ–את יהוה דבר אחר ויהי
רעיך ובשני בך אפי חרה התימני אליפז–אל יהוה ויאמר
:איוב כעבדי נכונה אלי דברתם לא כי
The way that I scanned it reads something to the effect of:
So after the LORD spoke these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My nose burns against you and against your two friends because you have not spoken to me what has already been established by my servant Job.”
Aside from the obvious – and fun! – idiom for expressed anger, there’s nothing difficult in the verse.  However.  When I read it, a bell went off in my mind.  All of the English versions of Job that I’ve read read something very different in the last clause.  Something closer to: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (ESV).
From what I can tell, all English versions translate נכונה as some form of “right.”  From what I can tell, they based this translation on the Akkadian kun (You’ll have to forgive me if that is not correct.  I have not had Akkadian yet). However, I have to question any translation principles that choose to translate a word based on a possible (probable?) comparative philology when the same word is common in Hebrew.  It occurs 14x in Job alone (8.8; 11.13; 15.23, 35; 18.12; 21.8; 27.16–17; 28.27; 29.7; 31.15; 38.41; 42.7–8). Each time it carries some sort of “establish”-esque connotation.  This can take the form of prepare, firm, establish, etc., Therefore: 8.8 = past generations; 11.13 = establish your heart; 15.23 = the prepared day of darkness; 15.35 = the womb prepares deceit; 18.12 = disaster is prepared for when he falls; 21.8 = their seed is established around them; 27.16 = what he prepares, etc.)  There is no evidence within Job to translate this verb as an adjective.  I need to broaden my perspective to look at the rest of Hebrew literature, but with even just this information the choice to translate the word as “right” is suspect.
I’ll explain why I think this distinction is important later, but I just wanted to see if any of you had any thoughts on the translation? I’ve asked a few of my prior professors if they knew of a reason, but they didn’t off hand.  In the few resources I had available at hand, none of them even mentioned this verse’s particular difficulty in translation, or else its divided nature.  Does anyone know of any suggested resources for delving into this question deeper?

Published by Jared Saltz

Biblical Studies Faculty (Florida College). PhD candidate at HUC-JIR. Husband, father, student.

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