Chapter 4

1Now Eliphaz the Temanite raised his voice and said,   אוַיַּעַן אֱלִיפַ֥ז הַתֵּֽימָנִ֗י וַיֹּֽאמַר:
Eliphaz: He was Esau’s son, and because he was nurtured in Isaac’s bosom, he merited that the Shechinah rest upon him.  
the Temanite: From the land of Tema, Esau’s country. (Not found in some editions.)  
2"Because He tested you with [one] thing, should you weary? Who can withhold words?   בהֲנִסָּ֬ה דָבָ֣ר אֵלֶ֣יךָ תִלְאֶ֑ה וַעְצֹ֥ר בְּ֜מִלִּ֗ין מִ֣י יוּכָֽל:
Because He tested: This is an expression of wonder. Because He tested you with one thing, should you weary? With one rest that the Holy One, blessed be He, tested you, you have become weary. From now on, who will be able to withhold his words from answering you?  
3Behold, you have chastised many, and you have strengthened weak hands.   גהִנֵּה יִסַּ֣רְתָּ רַבִּ֑ים וְיָדַ֖יִם רָפ֣וֹת תְּחַזֵּֽק:
Behold, you have chastised many: who multiplied words; you admonished them and chastised them.  
and… weak hands: of those who feared the retribution that came upon them. You used to strengthen [them] and say, “Fear not, for that is the Divine Standard of Justice.”  
4Your words would pick up the stumbler, and you would strengthen buckling knees.   דכּ֖וֹשֵׁל יְקִימ֣וּן מִלֶּ֑יךָ וּבִרְכַּ֖יִם כֹּֽרְע֣וֹת תְּאַמֵּֽץ:
would pick up: Your words were wont to pick up the stumbler.  
5Now when it comes to you, you weary; it touches you and you are frightened.   הכִּ֚י עַתָּ֨ה | תָּב֣וֹא אֵלֶ֣יךָ וַתֵּ֑לֶא תִּגַּ֥ע עָ֜דֶ֗יךָ וַתִּבָּהֵֽל:
6Surely, your fear was your foolishness, your hope and the sincerity of your ways.   והֲלֹ֣א יִ֖רְאָֽתְךָ כִּסְלָתֶ֑ךָ תִּ֜קְוָֽתְךָ֗ וְתֹ֣ם דְּרָכֶֽיךָ:
Surely: now, your end reveals your beginning, that your fear, that you feared heaven…  
your foolishness: is due to foolishness and not to full understanding, and so are your hope and the sincerity of your ways all foolishness.  
7Remember now, who was innocent that perished, and where were the upright destroyed?   זזְכָר־נָ֗א מִ֚י ה֣וּא נָקִ֣י אָבָ֑ד וְ֜אֵיפֹ֗ה יְשָׁרִ֥ים נִכְחָֽדוּ:
destroyed: Heb. נכחדו, disappeared and perished, like (Exod. 9:15), “and you would vanish (ותכחד) from the earth.”  
8As I have seen, those who plow violence and sow mischief will reap it.   חכַּֽאֲשֶׁ֣ר רָ֖אִיתִי חֹ֣רְשֵׁי אָ֑וֶן וְזֹֽרְעֵ֖י עָמָ֣ל יִקְצְרֻֽהוּ:
As I have seen: that those who plow violence and prepare the iniquity in their thoughts, like a plower who prepares [the field] before sowing, afterwards they sow mischief with their deeds. And I saw that they will reap it-i.e., their evil that comes upon them, and I saw that.  
9From the breath of God they will perish, and from the wind of His nostrils they will be destroyed.   טמִנִּשְׁמַ֣ת אֱל֣וֹהַּ יֹאבֵ֑דוּ וּמֵר֖וּחַ אַפּ֣וֹ יִכְלֽוּ:
From the breath of God they will perish: From the blowing of His stormwind and His anger.  
and from the wind of His nostrils: they are always destroyed, and he spoke of the Generation of the Flood.  
10The roar of an old lion, the voice of a young lion, and the teeth of lion cubs were misled.   ישַֽׁאֲגַ֣ת אַ֖רְיֵה וְק֣וֹל שָׁ֑חַל וְשִׁנֵּ֖י כְפִירִ֣ים נִתָּֽעוּ:
The roar of an old lion, the voice of a young lion: The אריה is the old one, the שַׁחַל the middle one, and the כפיר the cub; all of them were misled, i.e., the kings, the princes and the slaves; all these names are names of the lion.  
11A lion perishes without prey, and the young of the lion will scatter.   יאלַיִשׁ אֹבֵ֣ד מִבְּלִי־טָ֑רֶף וּבְנֵ֥י לָ֜בִ֗יא יִתְפָּרָֽדוּ:
A lion perishes without prey: The princes perished like a lion who perishes without food; so did their strength to commit violence dissipate. The word אֹבֵד is not an expression of a man who loses something, but [of a man who has] himself become lost, like (Ps. 119.176), “I have gone astray like a lost (אבד) sheep.” and like (ibid. 31:13), “I was like a lost (אבד) vessel.”  
and the young of the lion will scatter: He is speaking of the Generation of the Dispersion, who were scattered from there [Babel] over the face of the entire earth.  
12Now a word was conveyed secretly to me, and my ear grasped a bit of it.   יבוְאֵלַי דָּבָ֣ר יְגֻנָּ֑ב וַתִּקַּ֥ח אָ֜זְנִ֗י שֶׁ֣מֶץ מֶֽנְהוּ:
Now a word was conveyed secretly to me: He returns to his rebuke with which he has been chastising him till now: Why are you crying? “Remember now who was innocent that perished… As I have seen, etc.” And concerning you a word of prophecy was secretly conveyed to me, [lit. was stolen to me], from the expression like a stolen thing, because the Holy Spirit does not reveal itself to the prophets of the heathens in public. This is analogous to a king who had a wife and a mistress. When he would go to his wife, he would go in public, but to his mistress, he would go clandestinely and stealthily. So it is with the Holy One, blessed be He. Regarding the prophets of the heathens [Scripture states:] (Gen. 20:3), “And God came to Abimelech in the dream of the night,” and similarly (ibid. 31: 24), “And God came to Laban the Aramean in the dream of the night” ; to Balaam (Num. 24:4), “who falls, but his eyes are open” [in Gen. Rabbah 52:5 (Num. 22:20), “And God came to Balaam at night”]; to Eliphaz, “in the visions of the night.” But concerning the prophets of Israel it is written (ibid. 12:8): “With him I speak mouth to mouth manifestly and not with riddles.” In Midrash Tanchuma, I found it emended [See Tanchuma Balak 8, Tanchuma Buber Vayishlach 24.] Now [in] the expression, “And my ear grasped a bit of it,” שֶׁמֶץ, means a bit of the spirit of understanding.  
13In the thoughts of the visions of night, when slumber falls on people,   יגבִּשְׂעִפִּים מֵֽחֶזְיוֹנ֣וֹת לָ֑יְלָה בִּנְפֹ֥ל תַּ֜רְדֵּמָ֗ה עַל־אֲנָשִֽׁים:
14terror and quaking befell me, and He frightened most of my bones.   ידפַּ֣חַד קְ֖רָאַנִי וּרְעָדָ֑ה וְרֹ֖ב עַצְמוֹתַ֣י הִפְחִֽיד:
terror befell me: from the spirit that came to me. and the spirit was an angel. as it is stated (Ps. 104:4): “He makes his angels spirits.”  
15And a spirit passed by my face; it made the hair of my flesh stand on end.   טווְרוּחַ עַל־פָּנַ֣י יַֽחֲלֹ֑ף תְּ֜סַמֵּ֗ר שַֽׂעֲרַ֥ת בְּשָׂרִֽי:
it made stand on end: The spirit made the hair of my flesh (stand on end]. תסמר. That is an expression of a man whose hair stood on end.  
16It was standing, but I did not recognize its appearance, this image before my eyes; I heard a faint voice.   טזיַֽעֲמֹ֚ד | וְֽלֹא־אַכִּ֬יר מַרְאֵ֗הוּ תְּ֖מוּנָה לְנֶ֣גֶד עֵינָ֑י דְּמָמָ֖ה וָק֣וֹל אֶשְׁמָֽע:
It was standing: It was standing before me, but I did not recognize its appearance.  
a faint voice: I heard the sound of faint words. Another explanation: I heard silence and a voice. I heard the voice of the silence, but the silence I did not hear. “Silence” denotes angels reciting praise silently, as [Jonathan] renders (I Kings 19:12): “a still small voice” as: a voice of those praising quietly. Moses heard the silence [i.e., the voice of the angels praising]-from here we deduce that the early prophets heard [lit. used] the voice, whereas the later ones heard an echo, like a man who hits with a hammer, and the echo resounds far away. From here… far away. Here it is written: silence and a voice, whereas concerning Elijah it is written: a still small voice; because Eliphaz heard only the silencing of the voice, like a person who shouts into a barrel, that the voice of the barrel shouts toward him. That is an echo, not the voice itself, but concerning Elijah if is written: a still, small voice, for he heard the voice itself] And this is what it said.  
17Can a mortal be more righteous than God, or can a man be purer than his Maker?   יזהַֽאֱנוֹשׁ מֵֽאֱל֣וֹהַּ יִצְדָּ֑ק אִ֥ם מֵֽ֜עֹשֵׂ֗הוּ יִטְהַר־גָּֽבֶר:
Can a mortal be more righteous than God?: This is a wonder.  
or can a man be purer than his Maker?: Or can a man be more pure than his Maker?  
18Behold, He does not trust His servants and He casts reproach upon His angels.   יחהֵ֣ן בַּֽ֖עֲבָדָיו לֹ֣א יַֽאֲמִ֑ין וּ֜בְמַלְאָכָ֗יו יָשִׂ֥ים תָּֽהֳלָֽה:
Behold… His servants: the righteous. He does not trust that they will not sin against Him, and He takes them out of the world before their time.  
reproach: Heb. תהלה, an expression of folly.  
19Surely those who dwell in mud houses, whose foundation is in dust; they crush them before the worms.   יטאַ֚ף | שֹֽׁכְנֵ֬י בָֽתֵּי־חֹ֗מֶר אֲשֶׁר־בֶּֽעָפָ֥ר יְסוֹדָ֑ם יְ֜דַכְּא֗וּם לִפְנֵי־עָֽשׁ:
Surely: Surely those who dwell in mud houses, whose foundation is in dust, meaning their graves.  
they crush them before the worms: From heaven, their strength is sapped until they are humble and crushed before the worms that eat them in death.  
20From morning to evening they are crushed without giving [a thought]; they perish to eternity.   כמִבֹּ֣קֶר לָעֶ֣רֶב יֻכָּ֑תּוּ מִבְּלִ֥י מֵ֜שִׂ֗ים לָנֶ֥צַח יֹאבֵֽדוּ:
From morning to evening they are crushed: in one day, they are crushed and subdued.  
without giving [a thought]: lit. without putting it upon their heart to return to their Maker.  
they perish to eternity: This too is an elliptical verse.  
21Their haughtiness, which is absorbed within them-does it not leave [them]? They die, and not with wisdom.   כאהֲלֹֽא־נִסַּ֣ע יִתְרָ֣ם בָּ֑ם יָ֜מ֗וּתוּ וְלֹ֣א בְחָכְמָֽה:
Their haughtiness, which is absorbed within them does it not leave [them]?: Heb. יתרם בם, like (Isa. 15:7), “Because of haughty things (יתרה) they did.” Their haughtiness and their wisdom, which is absorbed into their body-behold it will move away and be uprooted from them, like (ibid. 33:20), “whose pegs shall never be moved (יסע).”