English Standard Version
I shall be condemned; why then do I labor in vain?
King James Bible
If I be wicked, why then labour I in vain?
American Standard Version
I shall be condemned; Why then do I labor in vain?
But if so also I am wicked, why have I laboured in vain?
English Revised Version
I shall be condemned; why then do I labour in vain?
Webster's Bible Translation
If I am wicked, why then do I labor in vain?
Job 9:29 Parallel
CommentaryKeil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
21 Whether I am innocent, I know not myself,
My life is offensive to me.
22 There is one thing-therefore I maintain - :
The innocent and wicked He destroyeth.
23 If the scourge slay suddenly,
He laugheth at the melting away of the innocent.
24 Countries are given into the hand of the wicked;
The countenance of its rulers He veileth -
Is it not so, who else doeth it?
Job 9:21 is usually considered to be an affirmation of innocence on the part of Job, though without effect, and even at the peril of his own destruction: "I am innocent, I boldly say it even with scorn of my life" (Schnurr., Hirz., Ewald, Schlottm.). But although נפשׁי אדע לא may mean: I care nothing for my soul, i.e., my life (comp. Genesis 39:6), its first meaning would be: I know not my soul, i.e., myself; and this sense is also quite in accordance with the context. He is innocent, but the contradiction between his lot and his innocence seems to show that his self-consciousness is deceptive, and makes him a mystery to himself, leads him astray respecting himself; and having thus become a stranger to himself, he abhors this life of seeming contradictions, for which he desires nothing less than its long continuance (vid., Job 7:16). The היא אחת which follows we do not explain: "it is all the same to me whether I live or not," but: it is all one whether man is innocent or not. He himself is a proof of this; therefore he maintains, etc. It is, however, also possible that this expression, which is similar in meaning to Ecclesiastes 9:2 (there is one event, אחד מקרה, to the righteous and to the wicked), and is well translated in the Targ. by היא מכילא חדא (there is one measure of retribution, מכילא equals מדּה, μέτρον, Matthew 7:2), refers to what follows, and that "therefore I maintain" is parenthetical (like אמרתי, Psalm 119:57; אמר לי, Isaiah 45:24), and we have translated it accordingly. There is certainly a kind of suspense, and על־כן d introduces an assertion of Job, which is founded upon the fact of the continuance of his own misfortune, - an assertion which he advances in direct contradiction to the friends, and which is expressly censured by Elihu.
In Job 9:23., by some striking examples, he completes the description of that which seems to be supported by the conflict he is called to endure. שׁוט, a scourge, signifies a judgment which passes over a nation (Isaiah 28:15). It swept off the guiltless as well, and therefore Job concludes that God delights in מסּה, πειρασμός, trial, or perhaps more correctly the melting away (from מסס, as Job 6:14) of the guiltless, i.e., their dissolution in anguish and dismay, their wearing away and despondency. Jerome rightly remarks that in the whole book Job says nihil asperius than what he says in Job 9:23. Another example in favour of his disconsolate היא אחת is that whole lands are given into the hand of the wicked: the monarch is an evil man, and the countenance of their judges He (God) covers, so that they do not distinguish between right and wrong, nor decide in favour of the former rather than of the latter. God himself is the final cause of the whole: if not, i.e., if it is not so, who can it then be that causes it? אפו (four times in the book of Job instead of the usual form אפוא) is, according to the current opinion, placed per hyperbaton in the conditional instead of the interrogative clause; and מי אפו are certainly not, with Hirzel, to be taken together. There is, however, not a proper hyperbaton, but אפו here gives intensity to the question; though not directly as Job 17:15 (Ges. 153, 2), but only indirectly, by giving intensity to that which introduces the question, as Job 24:25 and Genesis 27:37; translate therefore: if it really is not so (comp. the Homeric expression ει ̓ δ ̓ ἄγε). It is indisputable that God, and no one else, is the final cause of this misery, apparently so full of contradiction, which meets us in the history of mankind, and which Job now experiences for himself.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Though I am in the right, my own mouth would condemn me; though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse.
I will say to God, Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me.
The LORD will not abandon him to his power or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.
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ESV Text Edition: 2016. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.