Job 13:15

Reginald Wallace Ponder, Jr. rwponder at
Tue Oct 10 14:28:34 EDT 2000

>Dear Friends:
    This is a tough one, isn't it?  I have included my own proposal below,
marked by my initials.  Shalom!
     Rev. Reggie Ponder, Jr.
     Mt. Tirzah United Methodist Church
     Timberlake, NC USA

  On Sat  7 Oct 2000 (13:55:08), rvining at wrote:
> > Query.  What  is the best rendering of  Job 13:15?
> > 
> > "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."  KJV and others similar, or
> > 
> > "He may well slay me;  I may have no hope;
> >  Yet I will argue  my case before Him".    JPS
>  Dear Robert,
>  The KJV translation, followed by the NIV text, is difficult to justify; it
>  follows the Vulgate /etiam si occiderit me, in ipso sperabo/. The NIV margin,
>  "He will surely slay me; I have no hope" retains the KeTiB (negative Lo'). The
>  JPS agrees.
>  HeN YiQ:+:LeNiY is not the form with the Infinitive Absolute. The particle
>  HeN implies "There now! He will kill me!" rather than "He shall surely kill
>  me". HeN means Seeing (behold!); but 'Even if' or 'Although' can be its force.
>  Perhaps we could render it "He may kill me for this, but my hope is in him"
>  (LoW, with the QeRe'). Or, keeping the KeTiB, "He's going to kill me; I cannot
>  hold out". However, verses 16-19 show that Job has not given up hope; so I
>  plump for the Qere' here. He's going to defend himself against his miserable
>  comforters; he will die by default if he keeps silent (verse 19). A man facing
>  capital charges is not going to give up without defending himself in court,
>  especially if he is sure he is innocent of all charges (verse 18).
>  Job is going to pin his hope in YHWH, and in his Go'eL (19:25).

  RWP: I agree with this understanding of Job's ultimate hope.  I think
there is a big-picture view that may shed some light on this verse,
however.  As to the verse in question, I take "Were he to slay me, I would
be without hope" (with the sense that God will *not* slay him, so he
therefore still has hope) as the likely rendering -- keeping the negative
force of lamedh-aleph and also drawing on the same understanding you state
here that "Job has not given up hope."  The big-picture issue is that Job
is dealing largely with the question of life-death; will he live or die in
the immediate situation? The three friends all assume that he will die in
short order if he does not name his sin and repent of it.  In 2:9, Job's
wife's statement, commonly translated "Curse God, and die," is more
literally rendered, "Bless God -- and die (anyway)."  In other words,
Job's wife assumes that his death is imminent, as do the three friends,
though perhaps all for different reasons.  Although I have a personal
belief in hope-beyond-death ("Though he slay me, yet will I trust him"),
Job's hope might better be described as hope-*against*-death. Job is going
to "hang in there" in this dialogue with God -- and survive.

>  Francis I Andersen has an interesting paragraph on Job 13:15 in his Tyndale
>  OT Commentary, /Job/, IVP Leicester and Downers Grove IL, 1974, p 166f.
>  Shalom,
>  Ben
> -- 
>  Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
>  <ben.crick at>
>  232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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