Job 9:12

Hebrew Bible

10 he does great and unsearchable things, and wonderful things without number. 11 If he passes by me, I cannot see him; if he goes by, I cannot perceive him. 12 If he snatches away, who can turn him back? Who dares to say to him, ‘What are you doing?’ 13 God does not restrain his anger; under him the helpers of Rahab lie crushed. 14 “How much less, then, can I answer him and choose my words to argue with him.

Ecclesiastes 8:4

Hebrew Bible

2 Obey the king’s command, because you took an oath before God to be loyal to him. 3 Do not rush out of the king’s presence in haste—do not delay when the matter is unpleasant, for he can do whatever he pleases. 4 Surely the king’s authority is absolute; no one can say to him, “What are you doing?” 5 Whoever obeys his command will not experience harm, and a wise person knows the proper time and procedure. 6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, for the oppression of the king is severe upon his victim.

 Notes and References

"... Is this merely a proverbial expression, as Dhorme claims? Although the interrogative particle “what” is followed directly by some form of the verb “do” 74 times in the Hebrew Bible, only six times does it occur with the second masculine imperfect verbal form (Joshua 7:9; Job 9:12; 35:6; Proverbs 25:8; Ecclesiastes 8:4; Isaiah 45:9), and only Job 9:12 / Ecclesiastes 8:4 and Isaiah 45:9 (“Does the clay say to the one who fashions it, ‘What are you making’? or ‘Your work has no handles’?”) are formulated as a question in addition to being preceded by a question. Job 9:12 / Ecclesiastes 8:4 are striking in that, in both texts, the basic question is preceded by an almost identical question. Given the fact that four of the five words in this phrase as well as the syntax are identical, with the only difference being an interchangeable preposition ... It is worth noting here that, although these two texts have different referents — God in Job and the ruler in Ecclesiastes—they represent the two most powerful authorities operating on earth. Job 9:12, in effect, summarizes Job’s emphasis in chapter 9 on one’s utter inability to contend with or resist God’s actions. Though focusing on the “power differential” (verse 19: “If it is a contest of strength, he is the strong one!”), Job’s question may also reflect God’s “knowledge differential” (“He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength” [Job 9:4]; “How then can I answer him, choosing my words with him?” [Job 9:14]), anticipating developments later in the book.14 Either way, the futility of Job’s efforts is highlighted ..."

Schultz, Richard L. "Job and Ecclesiastes: Intertextuality and a Protesting Pair" in Dell, Katharine Julia, and Will Kynes (eds.) Reading Job Intertextually (pp. 190-203) Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2013

 User Comments

Do you have questions or comments about these texts? Please submit them here.