Chapter 20

1Now Zophar the Naamathite answered and said,   אוַיַּעַן צוֹפַ֥ר הַנַּֽעֲמָתִ֗י וַיֹּֽאמַר:
2"Therefore my thoughts will cause me to answer me, and because of my silence that is within me,   בלָכֵן שְׂעִפַּ֣י יְשִׁיב֑וּנִי וּבַֽ֜עֲב֗וּר ח֣וּשִׁי בִֽי:
my thoughts will cause me to answer: My thoughts will answer me with an answer in my mouth, and because I keep my peace and remain silent, and I put my silence within me, my thoughts will give me an answer to reply.  
my silence: Heb. חושי, my silence, like (Ecc. 3:7), “a time to be silent (לחשות).”  
3the chastisement of my disgrace I hear, and a spirit of my understanding will answer me.   גמוּסַ֣ר כְּלִמָּתִ֣י אֶשְׁמָ֑ע וְ֜ר֗וּחַ מִבִּֽינָתִ֥י יַֽעֲנֵֽנִי:
The chastisement of my disgrace: I hear from you the chastisement of my disgrace, that you disgrace me. Therefore, a word of spirit shall answer me out of my understanding, to reply to you.  
4Do you know this from time immemorial, since man was placed on the earth,   דהֲזֹ֣את יָ֖דַעְתָּ מִנִּי־עַ֑ד מִנִּ֚י שִׂ֖ים אָדָ֣ם עֲלֵי־אָֽרֶץ:
Do… this: Heb. הזאת. This is a wonder. Do you know the manner in which this has been conducted throughout all generations since time immemorial?  
5that the triumph of the wicked is short, and the joy of the flatterers is but a moment?   הכִּ֚י רִנְנַ֣ת רְ֖שָׁעִים מִקָּר֑וֹב וְשִׂמְחַ֖ת חָנֵ֣ף עֲדֵי־רָֽגַע:
that the triumph of the wicked: throughout all its duration, has come but recently, and will not last for any length of time.  
and the joy of the flatterers is but a moment: in a short time, it will end.  
6If his height ascends to the heavens and his head reaches the clouds,   ואִם־יַֽעֲלֶ֣ה לַשָּׁמַ֣יִם שִׂיא֑וֹ וְ֜רֹאשׁ֗וֹ לָעָ֥ב יַגִּֽיעַ:
7like his dung, he shall perish forever; those who see him will say, 'Where is he?'   זכְּגֶלְלוֹ לָנֶ֣צַח יֹאבֵ֑ד רֹ֜אָ֗יו יֹֽאמְר֥וּ אַיּֽוֹ:
his dung: Heb. כְּגֶלְלוֹ, dung of excrement.  
8Like a dream, he will fly away and they will not find him; and he will wander away like a vision of the night.   חכַּֽחֲל֣וֹם יָ֖עוּף וְלֹ֣א יִמְצָאֻ֑הוּ וְ֜יֻדַּ֗ד כְּחֶזְי֥וֹן לָֽיְלָה:
and they will not find him: i.e., his friends.  
9The eye that glimpsed him will do so no more, and his place will see him no longer.   טעַ֣יִן שְׁ֖זָפַתּוּ וְלֹ֣א תוֹסִ֑יף וְלֹא־ע֜֗וֹד תְּשׁוּרֶ֥נּוּ מְקוֹמֽוֹ:
that glimpsed him: That saw him.  
10His sons will placate the poor, and his hands will return his plunder.   יבָּנָיו יְרַצּ֣וּ דַלִּ֑ים וְ֜יָדָ֗יו תָּשֵׁ֥בְנָה אוֹנֽוֹ:
His sons will placate the poor: This reply was stated in reference to the people of Sodom, who were robbers and were cruel to the poor.  
and his hands will return: He will return the plunder of his hands.  
his plunder: The power of his force.  
11His bones are full of his youth, and it will lie on the dust with him.   יאעַצְמוֹתָיו מָֽלְא֣וּ עֲלוּמָ֑יו (כתיב עֲלוּמָ֑ו) וְ֜עִמּ֗וֹ עַל־עָפָ֥ר תִּשְׁכָּֽב:
His bones are full of his youth: The strength of his youth.  
and it will lie on the dust with him: Because he will die suddenly with his strength.  
12Though evil be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue;   יבאִם־תַּמְתִּ֣יק בְּפִ֣יו רָעָ֑ה יַ֜כְחִידֶ֗נָּה תַּ֣חַת לְשׁוֹנֽוֹ:
be sweet: So is the custom of a wicked man: if evil is sweet in his mouth and he does not see now the moment for it to take effect.  
though he hide it under his tongue: until the time comes when it will prosper.  
13Though he spare it and will not let it go, but keep it on the middle of his palate;   יגיַחְמֹ֣ל עָ֖לֶיהָ וְלֹ֣א יַֽעַזְבֶ֑נָּה וְ֜יִמְנָעֶ֑נָּה בְּת֣וֹךְ חִכּֽוֹ:
14His food will turn into the venom of cobras within him.   ידלַחְמוֹ בְּמֵעָ֣יו נֶהְפָּ֑ךְ מְרוֹרַ֖ת פְּתָנִ֣ים בְּקִרְבּֽוֹ:
His food… within him: on the day of his misfortune will turn into the venom of cobras.  
15He swallowed up wealth and vomited it out, and from his belly God will cast it.   טוחַ֣יִל בָּ֖לַע וַיְקִאֶ֑נּוּ מִ֜בִּטְנ֗וֹ יֹֽרִשֶׁ֥נּוּ אֵֽל:
wealth: Heb. חיל, money.  
16He will suck the venom of cobras; the tongue of the carpet viper will kill him.   טזרֹֽאשׁ־פְּתָנִ֥ים יִינָ֑ק תַּֽ֜הַרְגֵ֗הוּ לְשׁ֣וֹן אֶפְעֶֽה:
carpet viper: Heb. אֶפְעֶה, a fiery serpent.  
17He will not see the rivulets, the flowing rivers of honey and cream.   יזאַל־יֵ֥רֶא בִפְלַגּ֑וֹת נַֽהֲרֵ֥י נַֽ֜חֲלֵ֗י דְּבַ֣שׁ וְחֶמְאָֽה:
the rivulets, the flowing rivers of: the Garden of Eden, which are as sweet as honey and cream.  
18He will return that which he labored for and he will not swallow it; when his gain becomes vast wealth, he will not rejoice.   יחמֵשִׁ֣יב יָ֖גָע וְלֹ֣א יִבְלָ֑ע כְּחֵ֥יל תְּ֜מֽוּרָת֗וֹ וְלֹ֣א יַֽעֲלֹֽס:
He will return that which he labored for: The loot that he stole.  
when his gain becomes vast wealth: When his gain becomes vast wealth, then he will lose it.  
he will not rejoice: Heb. יעלס, with it. Similarly, יַעֲלֹז, and so יַעַלֹץ; the three of them are interchangeable.  
19When he oppressed, he abandoned the poor; he stole a house, which he did not build.   יטכִּֽי־רִ֖צַּץ עָזַ֣ב דַּלִּ֑ים בַּ֥יִת גָּ֜זַ֗ל וְלֹ֣א יִבְנֵֽהוּ:
When he oppressed, he abandoned the poor: After he oppressed the poor, he abandoned the poor and was banished from the world and went his way, and they return and collect their stolen items from him. [The expression] כִּי רָצַץ [means] when he oppressed, like (Exod. 18: 16), “Whenever (כי) they have a concern, they come to me,” which means when they have.  
20For he did not know any rest in his stomach; with his beauty he will not save anything.   ככִּ֚י | לֹֽא־יָדַ֣ע שָׁלֵ֣ו בְּבִטְנ֑וֹ בַּֽ֜חֲמוּד֗וֹ לֹ֣א יְמַלֵּֽט:
For he did not know: [He] never [knew] his stomach to be at rest. His stomach always says to him, “Rob and bring [food] to fill me up.” Therefore…  
with his beauty: With the flesh of his coveted beauty.  
he will not save anything: because it will continuously diminish. Similar to this is (Ps. 39:11): “You make his beauty melt away like a moth.”  
21Nothing remains of his food; therefore his goods shall not prosper.   כאאֵֽין־שָׂרִ֥יד לְאָכְל֑וֹ עַל־כֵּ֜֗ן לֹֽא־יָחִ֥יל טוּבֽוֹ:
Nothing remains of his food: He left nothing over from his food to share with the poor.  
therefore his goods shall not prosper: Heb. יחיל, shall not prosper, as in (Ps. 10:5), “His ways prosper (יחילו).” He speaks of the people of Sodom, who were stingy with travelers, for so did Ezekiel testify (16:49) concerning Sodom: “proud with plenty of food etc. and yet, she did not strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” And our Sages explained (Sanh. 92a) אין שריד לאכלוֹ to mean that he did not allow Torah scholars to sit at his table, like (Joel 3:5): “and among the survivors whom the Lord calls.”  
22When his desire has been filled sufficiently, he will be in straits; the hand of every laborer will come upon him.   כבבִּמְלֹ֣אות שִׂ֖פְקוֹ יֵ֣צֶר ל֑וֹ כָּל־יַ֖ד עָמֵ֣ל תְּבֹאֶֽנּוּ:
When his desire has been filled sufficiently: when the desire of his heart has been filled sufficiently, then…  
he will be in straits: Trouble will come upon him. סִפְקוֹ is an expression of sufficiency, as is translated into Aramaic (Gen. 24:22): “When the camels finished (ספיקו) drinking” ; (Num. 11:22): “so that it may be enough for them (היספקון).”  
the hand of every laborer will come upon him: The hand of the poor shall overwhelm him and come upon him.  
23It shall come to pass that to fill his belly, He shall send upon him His burning wrath and rain upon them with His battle.   כגיְהִ֚י | לְמַלֵּ֬א בִטְנ֗וֹ יְֽשַׁלַּח־בּ֖וֹ חֲר֣וֹן אַפּ֑וֹ וְיַמְטֵ֥ר עָ֜לֵ֗ימוֹ בִּלְחוּמֽוֹ:
It shall come to pass that to fill his belly, He shall send upon him His burning wrath: The sending of His burning wrath will be [enough] to fill his belly. This is not an expression of a curse but an expression of prophecy and of the future.  
and rain upon them: The Holy One, blessed be He.  
with His battle: With the fury of His battle, coals, fire, and brimstone, as the matter is stated (Gen. 19:24): “And the Lord rained upon Sodom etc.”  
24He shall flee from iron weapons; a copper bow shall pierce him.   כדיִבְרַח מִנֵּ֣שֶׁק בַּרְזֶ֑ל תַּ֜חְלְפֵ֗הוּ קֶ֣שֶׁת נְחוּשָֽׁה:
shall pierce him: Heb. תַּחְלְפֵהוּ The arrows that the bow will shoot will pierce his body, going through from one side to the other. Another version: תַּחְלְפֵהוּ is like תַּחְליִפֵהוּ (sic), a copper bow shall confront him.  
25One drew it and it emerged from its sheath and its glittering blade shall come forth from its bitterness, [bringing] terrors upon him.   כהשָׁלַף֘ וַיֵּצֵ֪א מִגֵּ֫וָ֥ה וּ֖בָרָק מִמְּרֹֽרָת֥וֹ יַֽהֲלֹ֗ךְ עָלָ֥יו אֵמִֽים:
drew: The one who drew the weapon upon him.  
and it emerged: [i.e.,] the weapon.  
and its glittering blade: Splendeur, or splendor (?) in French, like (Ezek. 21: 15), “in order that it glitter (ברק).” Fourbir in Old French, to polish.  
from its bitterness: [From the bitterness] of the weapon it shall come forth, and from there shall be terrors and fear upon the wicked.  
26All darkness is hidden for what awaits him; fire that was not blown shall consume him; harm shall befall the survivor in his tent.   כוכָּל־חֹשֶׁךְ֘ טָמ֪וּן לִצְפ֫וּנָ֥יו תְּ֖אָכְלֵהוּ אֵ֣שׁ לֹֽא־נֻפָּ֑ח יֵ֖רַע שָׂרִ֣יד בְּאָהֳלֽוֹ:
for what awaits him: For the hidden things that lie in store for him.  
fire that was not blown: The fire of Gehinnom.  
harm shall befall the survivor in his tent: Harm will come upon the survivor who will remain in his tent. The entire portion deals with the people of Sodom.“Harm shall befall the survivor in his tent” means that even Lot who escaped from them-harm befell his tent, i.e., his wife, who became a pillar of salt. I found this in the midrash of Rabbi Tanchuma (Buber, Vayera 8).  
27The heavens shall reveal his iniquity and the earth shall rise up against him.   כזיְגַלּ֣וּ שָׁמַ֣יִם עֲו‍ֹנ֑וֹ וְ֜אֶ֗רֶץ מִתְקֽוֹמָ֘מָ֥ה לֽוֹ:
shall rise up: [This is] an expression of an enemy who rises up against him.  
28The produce of his house shall go into exile; [his goods] shall flow away on the day of His wrath.   כחיִגֶל יְב֣וּל בֵּית֑וֹ נִ֜גָּר֗וֹת בְּי֣וֹם אַפּֽוֹ:
shall go into exile: Heb. יגל, an expression of exile.  
shall flow: Heb. נגרות. His treasures shall be given to plunder and despoiling, like (Micah 1:4), “like water that flows (המגרים) to the earth” [sic].  
29This is the lot of a wicked man, from God; and the inheritance appointed him by God."   כטזֶ֚ה | חֵֽלֶק־אָדָ֣ם רָ֖שָׁע מֵֽאֱלֹהִ֑ים וְנַֽחֲלַ֖ת אִמְר֣וֹ מֵאֵֽל:
appointed him by God: Heb. אִמְרוֹ. What was said about him from before the Omnipresent. The word אִמְרוֹ is in the masculine gender, from the form of (Ps. 5:2), “Give ear to my words (אַמָרַי).” אִמְרָתוֹ appears (ibid. 147:15) in the feminine gender, from the form of (ibid. 12:7) “pure words (אַמָרוֹת).”