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Chapter 11

Translation and Transliteration of 

1Then Zophar the Naamathite said in reply:

vai-YA-an tzo-FAR ha-na-a-MA-tee va-YO-mer

אוַ֭יַּעַן צֹפַ֥ר הַֽנַּעֲמָתִ֗י וַיֹּאמַֽר׃

2Is a multitude of words unanswerable? Must a loquacious person be right?

ha-ROV d'-va-REEM lo ye-A-ne, v'-im EESH s'-fa-TA-yim yit-s'-DAK

בהֲרֹ֣ב דְּ֭בָרִים לֹ֣א יֵעָנֶ֑ה וְאִם־אִ֖ישׁ שְׂפָתַ֣יִם יִצְדָּֽק׃

3Your prattle may silence men; You may mock without being rebuked,

ba-DEE-kha m'-TEEM ya-cha-REESH-u va-til-AG v'-AYN makh-LEEM

גבַּ֭דֶּיךָ מְתִ֣ים יַחֲרִ֑ישׁוּ וַ֝תִּלְעַ֗ג וְאֵ֣ין מַכְלִֽם׃

4And say, “My doctrine is pure, And I have been innocent in Your sight.”

va-to-MER zakh likh-KHI u-var ha-YI-tee b'-ay-NE-kha

דוַ֭תֹּאמֶר זַ֣ךְ לִקְחִ֑י וּ֝בַ֗ר הָיִ֥יתִי בְעֵינֶֽיךָ׃

5But would that Hashem might speak, And talk to you Himself.

v'-u-LAM mi-yi-TEN e-lo-HA da-BER v'-yif-TAKH s'-fa-TAV i-MAKH

הוְֽאוּלָ֗ם מִֽי־יִתֵּ֣ן אֱל֣וֹהַּ דַּבֵּ֑ר וְיִפְתַּ֖ח שְׂפָתָ֣יו עִמָּֽךְ׃

6He would tell you the secrets of wisdom, For there are many sides to sagacity; And know that Hashem has overlooked for you some of your iniquity.

v'-ya-GED l'-KHA ta-a-LU-mot KHO-kh'-MA, kee-khif-LA-yim l'-tu-shi-YAH, v'-DA KEE ya-SHEH l'-KHA e-lo-HA me-a-vo-NE-kha

ווְיַגֶּד־לְךָ֨ ׀ תַּ֥עֲלֻמ֣וֹת חׇכְמָה֮ כִּֽי־כִפְלַ֢יִם לְֽת֫וּשִׁיָּ֥ה וְדַ֡ע כִּֽי־יַשֶּׁ֥ה לְךָ֥ אֱ֝ל֗וֹהַּ מֵעֲוֺנֶֽךָ׃

7Would you discover the mystery of Hashem? Would you discover the limit of the Almighty?

ha-KHAY-ker e-LO-ha tim-TZA IM ad takh-LEET sha-DAI tim-TZA

זהַחֵ֣קֶר אֱל֣וֹהַּ תִּמְצָ֑א אִ֤ם עַד־תַּכְלִ֖ית שַׁדַּ֣י תִּמְצָֽא׃

 11:7   Would you discover the mystery of Hashem?

Zophar questions Iyov’s insistence that he is innocent, suggesting that Iyov is perhaps not as pure as he thinks he is, since man cannot comprehend Hashem’s mind nor his desires of us. Even Moshe, the greatest prophet of all time, was denied his request to fully comprehend the ways of Hashem. After the sin of the golden calf, Moshe prays for the people and seeks closeness to God. Sensing that this was a time of mercy, he pleads with Hashem to let him understand His ways, and requests of Him: “Let me behold Your presence” (Exodus 33:18). God’s response, however, is, “You cannot see My face, for man may not see Me and live” (ibid. verse 20). The Sages understand this request to see God’s face as a metaphor for Moshe’s plea to understand Hashem. In fact, the Sages of the Talmud (Berachot 7a) suggest that Moshe was specifically seeking the answer to the question of theodicy, wondering why bad things happen to good people and vice versa. This is indeed the question that bothers Iyov throughout his book, and continues to trouble us for eternity. However, as Moshe is told, we cannot comprehend the ways of God and might never understand the answer to this question as long as we are living.

8Higher than heaven—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?

GOV-hei sha-MA-yim mah-tif-AHL a-MU-kah mi-SHE-ol mah-tay-DA

חגׇּבְהֵ֣י שָׁ֭מַיִם מַה־תִּפְעָ֑ל עֲמֻקָּ֥ה מִ֝שְּׁא֗וֹל מַה־תֵּדָֽע׃

9Its measure is longer than the earth And broader than the sea.

a-ru-KAH me-E-retz mi-DAH u-re-KHA-VAH mi-ni-YAM

טאֲרֻכָּ֣ה מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִדָּ֑הּ וּ֝רְחָבָ֗ה מִנִּי־יָֽם׃

10Should He pass by, or confine, Or call an assembly, who can stop Him?

im-ya-cha-LOF v'-yas-GIR v'-ya-KHI-l u-mi y'-shi-VE-nu

יאִם־יַחֲלֹ֥ף וְיַסְגִּ֑יר וְ֝יַקְהִ֗יל וּמִ֣י יְשִׁיבֶֽנּוּ׃

11For He knows deceitful men; When He sees iniquity, does He not discern it?

ki-HU ya-DA m'-TEI sha-VU va-yar-a-AVUN v'-lo yit-BO-nan

יאכִּי־ה֭וּא יָדַ֣ע מְתֵי־שָׁ֑וְא וַיַּרְא־אָ֝֗וֶן וְלֹ֣א יִתְבּוֹנָֽן׃

12A hollow man will get understanding, When a wild ass is born a man.

v'-ish na-VOV yi-la-VAYV v'-a-YIR PE-ray a-DAM yi-va-LAYD

יבוְאִ֣ישׁ נָ֭בוּב יִלָּבֵ֑ב וְעַ֥יִר פֶּ֝֗רֶא אָדָ֥ם יִוָּלֵֽד׃

13But if you direct your mind, And spread forth your hands toward Him—

im-a-TAH ha-KHEE-not l'-BE-kha u-fa-RAS-ta e-LA-yu ka-PE-kha

יגאִם־אַ֭תָּה הֲכִינ֣וֹתָ לִבֶּ֑ךָ וּפָרַשְׂתָּ֖ אֵלָ֣יו כַּפֶּֽיךָ׃

14If there is iniquity with you, remove it, And do not let injustice reside in your tent—

im-a-VEN b'-ya-d'-KHA har-khee-KHE-hu v'-al-tash-KAYN b'-o-ha-LE-kha a-VE-la

ידאִם־אָ֣וֶן בְּ֭יָדְךָ הַרְחִיקֵ֑הוּ וְאַל־תַּשְׁכֵּ֖ן בְּאֹהָלֶ֣יךָ עַוְלָֽה׃

15Then, free of blemish, you will hold your head high, And, when in straits, be unafraid.

ki-AZ ti-SA fa-NE-kha mi-MUM v'-ha-YI-ta mu-TZAK v'-lo ti-RA

טוכִּי־אָ֤ז ׀ תִּשָּׂ֣א פָנֶ֣יךָ מִמּ֑וּם וְהָיִ֥יתָ מֻ֝צָ֗ק וְלֹ֣א תִירָֽא׃

16You will then put your misery out of mind, Consider it as water that has flowed past.

ki-a-TAH a-MAL tish-KACH, k'-MA-yim o-VRU tiz-KOR

טזכִּֽי־אַ֭תָּה עָמָ֣ל תִּשְׁכָּ֑ח כְּמַ֖יִם עָבְר֣וּ תִזְכֹּֽר׃

17Life will be brighter than noon; You will shine, you will be like the morning.

u-mi-tz'-ho-RA-yim ya-KUM kha-LED, ta-U-fa ka-BO-ker ti-HEH

יזוּֽ֭מִצׇּהֳרַיִם יָק֣וּם חָ֑לֶד תָּ֝עֻ֗פָה כַּבֹּ֥קֶר תִּהְיֶֽה׃

18You will be secure, for there is hope, And, entrenched, you will rest secure;

u-va-takh-TA kee YAYSH tik-VAH v'-kha-far-TA la-VE-takh tish-KAV

יחוּֽ֭בָטַחְתָּ כִּֽי־יֵ֣שׁ תִּקְוָ֑ה וְ֝חָפַרְתָּ֗ לָבֶ֥טַח תִּשְׁכָּֽב׃

 11:18 You will be secure, for there is hope

Achad Ha’am (1856-1927)

In Jewish culture, hope is considered one of the most potent tools at humanity’s disposal for fulfilling its mission of perfecting the world. Asher Ginsberg, better known by his pen-name, Achad Ha’am (literally, “One of the People”), was the 19th-20th century founder of the movement known as “Cultural Zionism.” He envisioned the upcoming state as a Jewish spiritual center; not merely a State of Jews, but a Jewish State. On this topic, he writes: “The national self of a nation is the link between its past and future. Memories on the one hand, and hope on the other. Our prophets, and later our sages, implanted in the Jew hope in the future, and to the Jew this was not a fantastic hope, but a reality. And this was the best spiritual food to sustain our life. Without this hope, the Torah alone could not have preserved us.” With these beautiful words, Achad Ha’am illustrates how hope and Torah are inherently, and eternally, intertwined.

19You will lie down undisturbed; The great will court your favor.

v'-ra-BAT-ta v'-AYN ma-cha-REED v'-chi-LU fa-NE-kha ra-BEEM

יטוְֽ֭רָבַצְתָּ וְאֵ֣ין מַחֲרִ֑יד וְחִלּ֖וּ פָנֶ֣יךָ רַבִּֽים׃

20But the eyes of the wicked pine away; Escape is cut off from them; They have only their last breath to look forward to.

v'-ei-NEI r'-sha-EEM tikh-LEI-nah u-ma-NOS a-VAD min-HEM v'-tik-va-TAM ma-PACH-na-FESH.

כוְעֵינֵ֥י רְשָׁעִ֗ים תִּ֫כְלֶ֥ינָה וּ֭מָנוֹס אָבַ֣ד מִנְהֶ֑ם וְ֝תִקְוָתָ֗ם מַֽפַּֽח־נָֽפֶשׁ׃