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An Appeal to God as Witness

18 “O earth, do not cover my blood,[a]
nor let there be a secret[b] place for my cry.
19 Even now my witness[c] is in heaven;
my advocate[d] is on high.
20 My intercessor is my friend[e]
as my eyes pour out tears[f] to God;

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Footnotes

  1. Job 16:18 sn Job knows that he will die, and that his death, signified here by blood on the ground, will cry out for vindication.
  2. Job 16:18 tn The word is simply “a place,” but in the context it surely means a hidden place, a secret place that would never be discovered (see 18:21).
  3. Job 16:19 sn The witness in heaven must be God, to whom the cries and prayers come. Job’s dilemma is serious, but common to the human experience: the hostility of God toward him is baffling, but he is conscious of his innocence and can call on God to be his witness.
  4. Job 16:19 tn The parallelism now uses the Aramaic word “my advocate”—the one who testifies on my behalf. The word again appears in Gen 31:47 for Laban’s naming of the “heap of witness” in Aramaic—“Sahadutha.”
  5. Job 16:20 tn The first two words of this verse are problematic: מְלִיצַי רֵעָי (melitsay reʿay, “my scorners are my friends”). The word מֵלִיץ (melits), from or related to the word for “scorner” (לִיץ, lits) in wisdom literature especially, can also mean “mediator” (Job 33:23), “interpreter” (Gen 42:23). This gives the idea that “scorn” has to do with the way words are used. It may be that the word here should have the singular suffix and be taken as “my spokesman.” This may not be from the same root as “scorn” (see N. H. Richardson, “Some Notes on lis and Its Derivatives,” VT 5 [1955]: 434-36). This is the view of the NIV, NJPS, JB, NAB, as well as a number of commentators. The idea of “my friends are scorners” is out of place in this section, unless taken as a parenthesis. Other suggestions are not convincing. The LXX has “May my prayer come to the Lord, and before him may my eye shed tears.” Some have tried to change the Hebrew to fit this. The word “my friends” also calls for some attention. Instead of a plural noun suffix, most would see it as a singular, a slight vocalic change. But others think it is not the word “friend.” D. J. A. Clines accepts the view that it is not “friends” but “thoughts” (רֵעַ, reaʿ). E. Dhorme takes it as “clamor,” from רוּעַ (ruaʿ) and so interprets “my claimant word has reached God.” J. B. Curtis tries “My intercessor is my shepherd,” from רֹעִי (roʿi). See “On Job’s Witness in Heaven,” JBL 102 [1983]: 549-62.
  6. Job 16:20 tn The Hebrew verb means “to drip; to stream; to flow”; the expression is cryptic, but understandable: “my eye flows [with tears as I cry out] to God.” But many suggestions have been made for this line too. Driver suggested in connection with cognate words that it be given the meaning “sleepless” (JTS 34 [1933]: 375-85), but this would also require additional words for a smooth reading. See also E. A. Speiser, “The Semantic Range of dalapu,JCS 5 (1951): 64-66, for the Akkadian connection. But for the retention of “dripping eyes” based on the Talmudic use, see J. C. Greenfield, “Lexicographical Notes I,” HUCA 29 (1958): 203-28.

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