Job
Introduction 1-4 More Words in God’s Behalf 5-7 God Does Not Despise Any 8-15 The Purpose of Oppression 16-21 The Application to Job 22-25 Exalt God’s Work 26-29 God Is Exalted, and We Do Not Know Him 30-33 God Speaks in Lightning and Thunder
Introduction

The fourth and last part of Elihu’s speech we hear in Job 36-37. It contains no quotation of what Job said. It is now about Who God is, the connection between God’s righteousness and His power over creation.


More Words in God’s Behalf

1Then Elihu continued and said,
2“Wait for me a little, and I will show you
That there is yet more to be said in God’s behalf.
3“I will fetch my knowledge from afar,
And I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
4“For truly my words are not false;
One who is perfect in knowledge is with you.

Elihu has not yet finished speaking and continues (verse 11Then Elihu continued and said,
). He has already made three speeches – just like Job and his friends – but he adds a fourth. He asks Job to wait a little and to listen to him (verse 22“Wait for me a little, and I will show you
That there is yet more to be said in God’s behalf.
). He wants to tell in God’s behalf, what else he can show in His favor. A lot has already been said by him about God, but there is still more in his heart that he wants to pass on about Him, which will be of use to Job. These are not superfluous words. We will see that they are a wonderful introduction to the apparition of God to Job and His speaking to him immediately after Elihu has finished speaking.

Elihu says that he will “fetch from afar” his knowledge regarding God and His actions (verse 33“I will fetch my knowledge from afar,
And I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
). Thus, he will not speak from his own perceptions like his friends, not walk the paths that have been trodden, and not appeal to tradition. This means that he will not go back to a distant past, but will appeal to what lies beyond the human understanding. He appeals to God Himself, Who is far above man (Jer 23:2323“Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD,
“And not a God far off?
; 31:33The LORD appeared to him from afar, [saying],
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.
), the Source of wisdom that comes from above (Jam 3:1717But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.).

With the knowledge he obtains from God, he will ascribe “righteousness” to Him Whom he calls “my Maker”. Anything that a person can say about God and do justice to Him can only happen if such a person has been informed about it by God. For the knowledge of God, we must be with Him. The condition of God’s knowledge of Himself is to acknowledge Him as his Maker.

In this way, in that state of mind, we will do God justice in our speaking. We do not seek our own honor, our own right, but His honor. Then we will be, like Elihu, a true servant of God. We can then be used by Him to give Him righteousness, that is to declare Him righteous in His actions. When we realize that, the consequence is that we trust Him. Then all doubt about His intentions will disappear and we will not accuse Him, however covered up, of injustice.

Before Elihu speaks about God, he again points out the importance of what he is going to say (verse 44“For truly my words are not false;
One who is perfect in knowledge is with you.
). “For truly my words are not false.” He insists he’s telling the truth. His words are reliable and worthy of all acceptance. They are, to use Paul’s words, “of truth and rationality” (Acts 26:2525But Paul *said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I utter words of sober truth., literal translation). Yet without restraint and at the same time without moderation, he can add that he is “perfect in knowledge”. There is nothing secretive in what he says, and there is no double ground in his words. He adds that he is with Job, saying once more that he is the same for God as Job (Job 33:66“Behold, I belong to God like you;
I too have been formed out of the clay.
).

Elihu – he is that “one who” – does not owe his perfectness to himself, but to God; he has received it from Him, “from afar”, as he said in verse 33“I will fetch my knowledge from afar,
And I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
. He does not exalt himself there, but is with and beside Job, on the same level before God.


God Does Not Despise Any

5“Behold, God is mighty but does not despise [any];
[He is] mighty in strength of understanding.
6“He does not keep the wicked alive,
But gives justice to the afflicted.
7“He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous;
But with kings on the throne
He has seated them forever, and they are exalted.

In verse 55“Behold, God is mighty but does not despise [any];
[He is] mighty in strength of understanding.
Elihu begins to speak words that ascribes righteousness to his Maker as he said in verse 33“I will fetch my knowledge from afar,
And I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
. In amazement he exclaims that God is mighty and that Godliness or wickedness does not leave Him indifferent. That combination is very rare among people. Mighty people almost always despise those who have no power. God is not like that. God is mighty, but that doesn’t mean He despises the insignificant man. For the might of God lies in “the strength of understanding”. The word ‘understanding’ can also be translated as ‘wisdom’ or ‘reason’. It means that His strength lies in His love, His wisdom, His mind. Love, wisdom, reason underlie everything He does in His might. That is what makes Him so admirable!

His wisdom is mighty and powerful. This is expressed in His knowledge of the wicked and the afflicted (verse 66“He does not keep the wicked alive,
But gives justice to the afflicted.
). He knows who is a wicked person and what to do with such a person, and He knows who the afflicted are and what to do with them. He does not let the wicked live, even if he seems to prosper and grow. He gives justice to the afflicted, though everything seems to be against them. Job is an afflicted one, so he may know that God will heed him and give him justice.

The righteous may experience that God takes His eyes off him, that He does not see him (this is so with Job). But God does not withdraw His eyes from him (verse 77“He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous;
But with kings on the throne
He has seated them forever, and they are exalted.
). Elihu says that in a way that shows that God cannot, so much the righteous is in His interest (Psa 34:15a15The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
And His ears are [open] to their cry.
). He keeps a constant and close eye on him and watches him, even though the righteous may not always experience it. God knows that the righteous suffers and gives him His full attention.

In the end He will place them “with kings on the throne … forever”. Then He will lift them out of all misery and exalt them to a place of honor and reign that will never end. He will do this in the future (Rev 3:2121He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.; 20:4,64Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I [saw] the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.6Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.; 22:55And there will no longer be [any] night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.). We see this in a way in the end of the Lord with Job (Job 42:10-1710The LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold.11Then all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before came to him, and they ate bread with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the LORD had brought on him. And each one gave him one piece of money, and each a ring of gold.12The LORD blessed the latter [days] of Job more than his beginning; and he had 14,000 sheep and 6,000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys.13He had seven sons and three daughters.14He named the first Jemimah, and the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch.15In all the land no women were found so fair as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers.16After this, Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons and his grandsons, four generations.17And Job died, an old man and full of days.; Jam 5:1111We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and [is] merciful.).


The Purpose of Oppression

8“And if they are bound in fetters,
And are caught in the cords of affliction,
9Then He declares to them their work
And their transgressions, that they have magnified themselves.
10“He opens their ear to instruction,
And commands that they return from evil.
11“If they hear and serve [Him],
They will end their days in prosperity
And their years in pleasures.
12“But if they do not hear, they shall perish by the sword
And they will die without knowledge.
13“But the godless in heart lay up anger;
They do not cry for help when He binds them.
14“They die in youth,
And their life [perishes] among the cult prostitutes.
15“He delivers the afflicted in their affliction,
And opens their ear in [time of] oppression.

Now it may still be so, that righteous people are bound and caught by affliction (verse 88“And if they are bound in fetters,
And are caught in the cords of affliction,
). They cannot free themselves from it and cannot get away from it. They are, as it were, bound with fetters and cords (cf. Lam 3:77He has walled me in so that I cannot go out;
He has made my chain heavy.
). Although it seems as if God is targeting them, it is precisely His loving concern for them. He acts with them because He is merciful and wants to make them realize this.

He thereby makes their work known to them (verse 99Then He declares to them their work
And their transgressions, that they have magnified themselves.
). He lets them know what they are doing, but that they do not involve Him in it. A situation has arisen in which the transgressions have “magnified themselves”. If transgressions have taken over, that means that God, by denouncing Him, no longer stands in the first place. Job has transgressed by blaming God for his misery. To return from evil means here: to acknowledge that God has the right to do with him according to His own wise intentions, even if he does not understand them.

Through the affliction that comes upon them, He wants to open their ears to His instruction or discipline (verse 1010“He opens their ear to instruction,
And commands that they return from evil.
; cf. Job 33:1616Then He opens the ears of men,
And seals their instruction,
). Affliction aims to make man repent, to make him reflect on his former life, and to wonder why all this happens to him. Elihu does not look at the cause of the admonition – the friends did – but at its purpose. God speaks to them through the trial. Through what He brings to the righteous, He says that they must “return from evil”. That evil is that they do not involve Him in their lives.

First the positive result of God’s instruction is presented (verse 1111“If they hear and serve [Him],
They will end their days in prosperity
And their years in pleasures.
). If the righteous listen to God’s voice in the trial, it will be seen in serving Him (again). God will get the first place again in the heart. As a result, they will enjoy prosperity for the remaining days of their lives. They will become “years in pleasures”, years full of everything that is pleasant. Job will experience this (Job 42:12,1712The LORD blessed the latter [days] of Job more than his beginning; and he had 14,000 sheep and 6,000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys.17And Job died, an old man and full of days.). This is what the grace of God has in mind with trials.

But if people do not hear, they will perish (verse 1212“But if they do not hear, they shall perish by the sword
And they will die without knowledge.
). These are people who appear to be righteous but are not. When they are tested, they do not submit to God’s will, but resist Him. They do not accept His instruction, which He brings upon them by means of discipline to draw them to Himself, but reject it. They perish “by the sword,” that is to say, they are taken away by sudden death.

They pass way without having submitted their spirit to God. Without knowledge of the ways God has gone with them and the discipline He has brought upon them for their sake, they die. In all that God has brought upon them, they have never seen an intention from on high. They never thought deeply about the usefulness of what happened to them. Job did. He did not understand God, but he did seek Him.

Nor is Job a man with a godless or hypocritical heart (verse 1313“But the godless in heart lay up anger;
They do not cry for help when He binds them.
). People with a hypocritical heart sin continuously. In their dissatisfaction they accumulate anger in their hearts; their anger about the course of events increases more and more. But there is no cry from them to God for help if He brings misery upon them and binds them with it. Instead of repenting to God, they rebel against Him. Job has constantly called for help in his affliction. This proves that Elihu does not mean him, but speaks of people who hold to a form of godliness, but deny its power (2Tim 3:55holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.; Mt 15:6-96he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And [by this] you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.7You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
8‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
9‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’”
).

Such people will not live long, for they will die young (verse 1414“They die in youth,
And their life [perishes] among the cult prostitutes.
). This is in contrast to the blessing given to the righteous who hear and serve God (verse 1111“If they hear and serve [Him],
They will end their days in prosperity
And their years in pleasures.
). They will also die an extraordinarily shameful death. In their death they will receive no honor, which they claimed for themselves in their hypocrisy during their lives. The way their lives end fits the way they have lived. They lived in depravity and that will also mark their end.

On the other hand, the afflicted in his affliction is delivered by God (verse 1515“He delivers the afflicted in their affliction,
And opens their ear in [time of] oppression.
). Job will experience this when he comes face to face with God. God will open his ear in the oppression in which he finds himself. He will make His intention known to him, so that he will understand why all this suffering has come upon him. God does not deliver the afflicted out of the affliction – which He will later do – but in the affliction. It means that God comes to him and supports him in his affliction and gives him comfort and strength to persevere. He delivers him from doubt, fear, and unbelief by turning his heart to Him.


The Application to Job

16“Then indeed, He enticed you from the mouth of distress,
Instead of it, a broad place with no constraint;
And that which was set on your table was full of fatness.
17“But you were full of judgment on the wicked;
Judgment and justice take hold [of you].
18“[Beware] that wrath does not entice you to scoffing;
And do not let the greatness of the ransom turn you aside.
19“Will your riches keep you from distress,
Or all the forces of [your] strength?
20“Do not long for the night,
When people vanish in their place.
21“Be careful, do not turn to evil,
For you have preferred this to affliction.

Elihu will now apply to Job the general principles of the government of God he has just described. Through the disasters that have come upon Job, God has enticed him “from the mouth of distress” (verse 1616“Then indeed, He enticed you from the mouth of distress,
Instead of it, a broad place with no constraint;
And that which was set on your table was full of fatness.
; cf. Hos 2:1313“I will punish her for the days of the Baals
When she used to offer sacrifices to them
And adorn herself with her earrings and jewelry,
And follow her lovers, so that she forgot Me,” declares the LORD.
). God has taken everything away from him in order to bring him to “a broad place with no constraint”. Now that Job has lost everything, God is free to do His work in Job. Job is physically depleted, but God presents him with food on his table that is full of fatness. Perhaps here we can think of a table in a spiritual sense. A table symbolizes fellowship. God wants that fellowship with Job, full fellowship.

Job is not there yet (verse 1717“But you were full of judgment on the wicked;
Judgment and justice take hold [of you].
). He is still “full” of something else, “of judgment on the wicked”. This trial and the justice dominate his thoughts, making him incapable of hearing God’s voice. In this way he behaves like a wicked person who does not listen to God’s voice either. Elihu did not say that Job was a wicked man, but warned him not to behave like one.

He warns him not to get so angry that he comes to scoff at God (verse 1818“[Beware] that wrath does not entice you to scoffing;
And do not let the greatness of the ransom turn you aside.
). If he does not bow down, he can come to that. If he cannot control it and commits this evil, even a great ransom will not be able to avert the punishment which is then his share. He will then have to bear the consequences of his intransigence.

Job should not think that his riches gave him a certain protection against God (verse 1919“Will your riches keep you from distress,
Or all the forces of [your] strength?
). He may – rightly – have seen his wealth as a proof of God’s goodness. He has also worked hard for it, and that hard work has been blessed by God. But did he not rely somewhat on his wealth and strength in the process? Has he seen it as a merit of his own rather than a favor from God? Has the thought occurred to him that God was also obliged to give him his riches?

Now that he has lost everything, he has not yet lost confidence in himself. But because he has lost everything and feels that he has lost God as well, he longs for the night (verse 2020“Do not long for the night,
When people vanish in their place.
). By this he means that God must take him away. He has expressed this longing once before (Job 7:1515So that my soul would choose suffocation,
Death rather than my pains.
). Elihu tells him not to do that anymore. Otherwise he will perish when the nations are driven out of their land and taken away into exile.

Let Job take care that he does not resort to evil, whether he commits it himself or joins those who commit evil (verse 2121“Be careful, do not turn to evil,
For you have preferred this to affliction.
). It may offer a prospect of forgetting the misery, but over time it will become clear how much he has made a mistake. It is always a wrong choice to follow our natural tendencies instead of repenting and bowing before God (verse 1616“Then indeed, He enticed you from the mouth of distress,
Instead of it, a broad place with no constraint;
And that which was set on your table was full of fatness.
). And so Job is at a crossroads. What choice will he make?


Exalt God’s Work

22“Behold, God is exalted in His power;
Who is a teacher like Him?
23“Who has appointed Him His way,
And who has said, ‘You have done wrong’?
24“Remember that you should exalt His work,
Of which men have sung.
25“All men have seen it;
Man beholds from afar.

Elihu returns to his starting point (verse 55“Behold, God is mighty but does not despise [any];
[He is] mighty in strength of understanding.
) and points out to Job the high exaltation that God has by His power. He is the Almighty God, Who holds everything under His control and controls everything according to His counsel. As far above man, He bends down to that puny man to teach him. He does so in an inimitable way. No one is equal to Him as a Teacher.

God teaches His teaching in the creation and in the lives of individuals. Elihu here says to Job, as it were, that God teaches him lessons in the exercise of His power. In all that God has brought about to Job, He shows that He wants to tell Job Who He is and who Job is. Job receives private lessons from God, because God is deeply interested in Job personally and caring about him.

God composes His lessons for Job, and every man, Himself (verse 2323“Who has appointed Him His way,
And who has said, ‘You have done wrong’?
). No one prescribes them to Him. Nobody tells Him how He should teach, which practical exercises He should have performed. No one can say to Him that He adds injustice in the material He has for each person. He composes the package with the care that is proper to Him. He never commands anyone more than he or she can bear (1Cor 10:1313No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.). He knows us through and through and knows exactly what we need to learn and attunes the lessons accordingly. All His works are special lessons for us.

Therefore, it is fitting for Job that he exalts God’s work (verse 2424“Remember that you should exalt His work,
Of which men have sung.
) rather than complaining about it. God’s deeds invite us to sing about them. People have done this throughout the ages and it is fitting for us as well. That is why we have been created. Because of sin people don’t do that anymore. If we are saved by the blood of Christ, we have all the more reason to sing of God’s work in redemption.

“All men”, without exception, see the sun, the moon, and the stars; they see the storms, the rain, and the lightning (verse 2525“All men have seen it;
Man beholds from afar.
). In it they can perceive His exalted might. All men also see His work in the lives of other people when He brings them into trial, or in disasters in nature. In contrast, man is null and void. Elihu therefore speaks of “man”. He stands there, beholds it, and stands at a great, incalculable distance from it.

That distance is literally when it comes to celestial bodies. That distance is spiritual when it comes to what can strike a person personally. The friends saw the suffering of Job from afar (Job 2:1212When they lifted up their eyes at a distance and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky.). The distance in kilometers did not stay, because they sat down with him. But the spiritual distance with respect to understanding Job’s suffering has remained.


God Is Exalted, and We Do Not Know Him

26“Behold, God is exalted, and we do not know [Him];
The number of His years is unsearchable.
27“For He draws up the drops of water,
They distill rain from the mist,
28Which the clouds pour down,
They drip upon man abundantly.
29“Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds,
The thundering of His pavilion?

How great God is cannot be understood by us (verse 2626“Behold, God is exalted, and we do not know [Him];
The number of His years is unsearchable.
). Whether it is His strength and power, His wisdom and knowledge, His love and grace, His counsel and His purposes; we humans cannot grasp the extent of it. Also “the number of His years is unsearchable”, it cannot be fathomed by us, for He is eternal. It defines us in our smallness and limitation as creatures and in the folly of our attempts to understand God’s actions and the reasons for them.

The word “for” (verse 2727“For He draws up the drops of water,
They distill rain from the mist,
) is the introduction to a number of examples that prove God’s greatness, omnipotence, and wisdom to mortals, as well as their inscrutability. Elihu begins with the origin of “the drops of water”, something that is clear to almost all people and all nations. But who is aware of how this happens, that God works in the way Elihu describes here? Imperceptible to man, God pulls up drops of water in the form of vapor through the heat of the sun (Psa 135:77He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth;
Who makes lightnings for the rain,
Who brings forth the wind from His treasuries.
; Amos 5:88He who made the Pleiades and Orion
And changes deep darkness into morning,
Who also darkens day [into] night,
Who calls for the waters of the sea
And pours them out on the surface of the earth,
The LORD is His name.
). Then those drops are poured out over the earth in the form of rain.

Of the raised-up water drops He forms the clouds, by which He bundles the raised water as it were into clouds (verse 2828Which the clouds pour down,
They drip upon man abundantly.
). He also sets the course of the clouds so that the raindrops “drip upon man abundantly”, that is on their fields. Thus He cares for them and shows them His goodness (Mt 5:45b45so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on [the] evil and [the] good, and sends rain on [the] righteous and [the] unrighteous.; Acts 14:1717and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”). Man can only observe, sometimes predict, but not understand how God works in this.

How the clouds spread under the heavens over the earth is also incomprehensible to man (verse 2929“Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds,
The thundering of His pavilion?
). A cloud can start small and over time blacken the whole sky (1Kgs 18:44-45a44It came about at the seventh [time], that he said, “Behold, a cloud as small as a man’s hand is coming up from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare [your chariot] and go down, so that the [heavy] shower does not stop you.’”45In a little while the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy shower. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel.). Who can understand how He expands the clouds, then dispels them and creates them somewhere else? Science can sometimes predict where and when there are clouds. But it cannot create or disperse the clouds, nor can it determine their course.

The clouds are for God as “His pavilion” (Psa 18:1111He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him,
Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.
; 97:22Clouds and thick darkness surround Him;
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
). From there He sends His commands and sounds the thunder of His voice. We can see this, but it is impossible for us to understand why God does it.


God Speaks in Lightning and Thunder

30“Behold, He spreads His lightning about Him,
And He covers the depths of the sea.
31“For by these He judges peoples;
He gives food in abundance.
32“He covers [His] hands with the lightning,
And commands it to strike the mark.
33“Its noise declares His presence;
The cattle also, concerning what is coming up.

During the thundering thunderstorm God spreads His light over the earth by lightning (verse 3030“Behold, He spreads His lightning about Him,
And He covers the depths of the sea.
). He does so in the high, in the sky. By “His lightning” He covers “the depths of the sea”. The depths – Hebrew: roots – of the sea are the darkest places and invisible to us. But these dark depths of the sea are not hidden from God, Who is light. God’s greatness is seen in the highest and lowest regions of creation. He is everywhere and He reigns everywhere. He is in the light of lightning and in the impenetrable darkness of the water depths.

He can use the rain to judge peoples by causing a flood (verse 3131“For by these He judges peoples;
He gives food in abundance.
; cf. Gen 7:11,2311In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.23Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark.). He may also use the rain as a blessing to moisten the land, so that corn and other agricultural products that depend on the rain grow well and there is “food in abundance”.

Lightning, which frightens us, is covered by His hands (verse 3232“He covers [His] hands with the lightning,
And commands it to strike the mark.
). This means that lightning comes out of His hand and is guided by His hand to His purpose. He determines the purpose of lightning, where it hits the earth. We can wait for lightning, but never know when it will come, how it will go nor where it will go. The moment, the speed and the direction of lightning are unpredictable and inimitable for us.

When God gives rain, He announces it (verse 3333“Its noise declares His presence;
The cattle also, concerning what is coming up.
). We hear rumbling in the distance and know that thunder is coming. That is His call. His call announces that He Himself is coming. The animals, the cattle, feel instinctively that a storm is approaching, which is noticeable by their behavior. Their behavior therefore also announces Him. The cattle react to His speaking and His coming. But man often does not recognize Him when He speaks and shows His presence.


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