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Job 7:20

20 If I have sinned, what have I done to you, you who see everything we do? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?[a]

Job 7:20 in Other Translations

20 I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself?
20 If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind? Why have you made me your mark? Why have I become a burden to you?
20 If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of all humanity? Why make me your target? Am I a burden to you?
20 Even suppose I'd sinned - how would that hurt you? You're responsible for every human being. Don't you have better things to do than pick on me? Why make a federal case out of me?
20 [If] I have sinned, what have I done to You, Watcher of mankind? Why have You made me Your target, so that I have become a burden to You?

Job 7:20 Meaning and Commentary

Job 7:20

I have sinned
Some render it, "if I have sinned" F23; be it so that I have, as my friends say, yet since there is forgiveness with thee, why should I be so afflicted as I am? but there is no need of such a supplement, the words are an affirmation, I have sinned, or I am a sinner; not that he owned that he had been guilty of any notorious sin, or had lived a sinful course of life, on account of which his afflictions came upon him, as his friends suggested; but that he was not without sin, was daily guilty of it, as men, even the best of men, ordinarily are; and being a sinner was not a match for a holy God; he could not contend with him, nor answer him for one sin of a thousand committed by him in thought, word, or deed; and therefore desires him to desist and depart from him, see ( Luke 5:8 ) ;

what shall I do unto thee?
this he said, not as one in distress of mind on account of sin, and under the load of the guilt of it, inquiring what he must do to make satisfaction for it, how and what way he could be saved from it; for he knew that nothing done by him in a ceremonial way by sacrifices, nor in a moral way by the performance of duties, could take away sin, or atone for it, or save him from it; he knew this was only by his living Redeemer, and whom he knew and determined should be his salvation, and he only; see ( Job 9:30 Job 9:31 ) ( Job 13:15 Job 13:16 ) ( 19:25 ) ; but rather as it may be rendered, "what can or ought I do unto thee?" F24 that is, more than I have done, namely, to confess my sin unto thee; what more dost thou require of me? or what more can be done by me, than to repent of my sin, acknowledge it, and beg pardon for it? as he does in ( Job 7:21 ) : or "what can I do unto thee?" thou art all over match for me, I cannot struggle and contend with thee, a sinful man with an holy God:

O thou preserver of men?
as he is in a providential way, the supporter of men in their lives and beings; or, "O thou keeper of men" F25, as he is, not only of Israel, but of all others, and that night and day; perhaps Job may refer to his setting and keeping a watch over him, ( Job 7:12 ) ; and enclosing and hedging him all around with afflictions, so that he could not get out of the world as he desired; or, "O thou observer of men" F26, of their words, ways, works, and actions, and who kept such a strict eye upon him while wrestling with him, and therefore what could he do? or, "O thou Saviour of men" F1, by whom only I can be saved from the sins I have been and am daily guilty of:

why hast thou set me as a mark against thee?
as a butt to shoot thine arrows at, one affliction after another, thick and fast, see ( Job 16:12 ) ( Lamentations 3:12 ) ; the words I think may be rendered, "why hast thou appointed me to meet thee", or "for a meeting with thee?" F2 as one man challenge, another to meet him in such a place and fight him: alas! I am not equal to thee, I am a mere worm, not able to contend with thee the mighty God, or to meet thee in the way of thy judgments, and to endure the heavy strokes of thy angry hand; and so Bar Tzemach paraphrases it,

``thou hast hated me, and not loved me; that thou hast set, or appointed me to meet thee, as a man meets his enemy in the time of his wrath, and he stirs up against him all his fury:''

and to the same sense, and much in the same words, Jarchi interprets it:

so that I am a burden to myself?
weary of his life, through the many pressing and heavy afflictions upon him, as Rebekah was of hers, because of the daughters of Heth, ( Genesis 27:46 ) . The reading which we follow, and is followed by the Targum, and by most interpreters, Jewish and Christian, is a correction of the scribes, and one of the eighteen places corrected by them; which is no argument of the corruption of the Hebrew text, but of the contrary; since this was only placed in the margin of the Bible, as the Masorites afterwards did with their various readings, showing only what was their sense of this, and the like passages; and as an instruction how in their opinion to understand them, still retaining the other reading or writing; and which, according to Aben Ezra, may be rightly interpreted, and is, "so that I am a burden to thee" F3; and which is followed by some, signifying, as Job thought at least, that he was so offensive to him that he could not bear him, but treated him as an enemy; was weary of him, as God is said to be of sinners and their sins, and of the services and duties of carnal professors, see ( Isaiah 1:14 ) ( 43:24 ) ; so Abendana interprets it,

``thou hast set me for a mark unto thee, as if I was a burden to thee.''


F23 Vatablus, Drusius, Schmidt; so Sept. Syr. & Ar.
F24 (Kl lepa hm) "quid faciam aut facere possum tibi", Michaelis; "debeam", Schmidt.
F25 (Mdah run) "custos hominum". V. L. Pagninus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus.
F26 "Observator", Schultens.
F1 "Sospitatur", Codurcus; "servator", Drusius, Schmidt, Michaelis. Vid. Witsii Oeconom. Foeder. l. 4. c. 3. sect. 30.
F2 (Kl enpml) "in occursum tibi", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Drusius.
F3 (Kyle) (epi soi) , Sept. "et tibi", Beza, Grotius.

Job 7:20 In-Context

18 that you examine them every morning and test them every moment?
19 Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant?
20 If I have sinned, what have I done to you, you who see everything we do? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?
21 Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins? For I will soon lie down in the dust; you will search for me, but I will be no more.”

Cross References 3

  • 1. Job 35:6; Jeremiah 7:19
  • 2. S Job 6:4; Job 16:12
  • 3. S ver 12

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. A few manuscripts of the Masoretic Text, an ancient Hebrew scribal tradition and Septuagint; most manuscripts of the Masoretic Text "I have become a burden to myself."