Re: Job 4:18

Chuck Arnold (INTL GEWEX PROT OFF <gewex@cais.cais.com>) writes:

>In an adult bible class I'm currently leading, I recently included a 
>reference to Job 4.18 as one of the many characteristics of angels. Job 
>which I  have translated "..and he (God) perceives the crooked way of 
>his angels". Some translations of the LXX use perversness for SKOLION but 
>this seems to impute a moral decision rather than a simple, but less than 
>omniscient exercise of free will. Since most english texts are based on 
>the Hb (ToHoLo), they are often rendered as "..and he charges *error* 
>(mistakes?) to his angels". Since the Hb seems to be pretty 
>straightforward here I am looking for some exegetical clarification. If 
>we stick with the Hb text we are left, it seems, with imperfect angels, 
>who make errors (in judgement? or perhaps only random mistakes - harmless 
>or non-benign?) to which they seem to be held accountable. But if we 
>stick with the LXX, a much softer exegesis can be made. Which tradition 
>has the greater strength? Be gentle - I didn't want this to be viewed as 
>a "Scholastic" exercise in angels and pinheads :-)

It seems more appropriate to say "go with" the LXX than to "stick with"
it, since it is already a departure from the Hb.

On understanding the Hb, keep in mind the immediate context and the larger
context of the book of Job. Doing so brings up two important considerations.

(1) The previous verse asks, "Can mortals be innocent from God's point of
view? Can humans be pure before their maker?" Then our verse occurs, "Even
in his servants he puts no trust, and he charges his angels with error."
The gist of this is that Job has maintained that he is innocent and pure,
that he doesn't deserve the suffering that he's experienced. Chaps. 4-5
are Eliphaz's response where he suggests that Job is mistaken. In our
verses, Eliphaz is saying, if God doesn't even think the angels are
totally blameless, then why should you think a human being can be blameless?

(2) Keep in mind also that Eliphaz "did not speak of me [YHWH] rightly,"
according to Job 42:8. This would seem to throw everything Eliphaz says
into question. Thus, one would have to ask of Job 4:18, Does YHWH really
impute error to his angels? Or is Eliphaz "not speaking rightly about
YHWH" in making this statement?

Finally, what is at stake? Why should it be a problem for angels to be

And just FMyI: what do you mean by "ToHoLo"?

Chris Heard