The Book of Job, named after its protagonist (apparently not an Israelite; cf. Ez 14:14, 20), is an exquisite dramatic treatment of the problem of the suffering of the innocent. The contents of the book, together with its artistic structure and elegant style, place it among the literary masterpieces of all time. This is a literary composition, and not a transcript of historical events and conversations.
The prologue (chaps. 1–2) provides the setting for Job’s testing. When challenged by the satan’s questioning of Job’s sincerity, the Lord gives leave for a series of catastrophes to afflict Job. Three friends come to console him. Job breaks out in complaint (chap. 3), and a cycle of speeches begins. Job’s friends insist that his plight can only be a punishment for personal wrongdoing and an invitation from God to repent. Job rejects their inadequate explanation and challenges God to respond (chaps. 3–31). A young bystander, Elihu, now delivers four speeches in support of the views of the three friends (chaps. 32–37). In response to Job’s plea that he be allowed to see God and hear directly the reason for his suffering, the Lord answers (38:1–42:6), not by explaining divine justice, but by cataloguing the wonders of creation. Job is apparently content with this, and, in an epilogue (42:7–17), the Lord restores Job’s fortune.
The author or authors of the book are unknown; it was probably composed some time between the seventh and fifth centuries B.C. Its literary pattern, with speeches, prologue and epilogue disposed according to a studied plan, indicates that the purpose of the writing is didactic. But the lessons that the book teaches are not transparent, and different interpretations of the divine speeches and of the final chapter are possible. The Book of Job does not definitively answer the problem of the suffering of the innocent, but challenges readers to come to their own understanding.
The Book of Job can be divided as follows:
Job’s Piety. 1In the land of Uz* there was a blameless and upright man named Job,a who feared God and avoided evil. 2Seven sons and three daughters were born to him; 3and he had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred she-donkeys, and a very large household, so that he was greater than anyone in the East.* 4His sons used to take turns giving feasts, sending invitations to their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5And when each feast had run its course, Job would send for them and sanctify them, rising early and offering sacrifices for every one of them. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned and cursed* God in their hearts.” Job did this habitually.
The Interview Between the Lord and the Satan. 6b One day, when the sons of God* came to present themselves before the LORD, the satan also came among them.c 7The LORD said to the satan, “Where have you been?” Then the satan answered the LORD and said,d “Roaming the earth and patrolling it.” 8The LORD said to the satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil.” 9The satan answered the LORD and said, “Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing? 10Have you not surrounded him and his family and all that he has with your protection? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock are spread over the land. 11e But now put forth your hand and touch all that he has, and surely he will curse you to your face.” 12The LORD said to the satan, “Very well, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on him.” So the satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
The First Trial. 13One day, while his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the house of their eldest brother, 14a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys grazing beside them, 15and the Sabeans* carried them off in a raid. They put the servants to the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16He was still speaking when another came and said, “God’s fire has fallen from heaven and struck the sheep and the servants and consumed them; I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17He was still speaking when another came and said, “The Chaldeans* formed three columns, seized the camels, carried them off, and put the servants to the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18He was still speaking when another came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the house of their eldest brother, 19and suddenly a great wind came from across the desert and smashed the four corners of the house. It fell upon the young people and they are dead; I alone have escaped to tell you.”
Job’s Reaction. 20Then Job arose and tore his cloak and cut off his hair. He fell to the ground and worshiped. 21He said,
“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,f
and naked shall I go back there.*
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD!”
22In all this Job did not sin,g nor did he charge God with wrong.
* [1:1] Uz: somewhere in Edom or Arabia; see Lam 4:21. Job: the name probably means “Where is the (divine) father?” In Hebrew it is almost a homonym with the word for “enemy” (see note on 13:24; cf. 33:10).
* [1:3] The East: that is, east of Palestine.
* [1:5] Cursed: lit., “blessed.” So also in v. 11; 2:5, 9.
* [1:6] Sons of God: members of the divine council; see Gn 6:1–4; Dt 32:8; Ps 82:1. The satan: lit., “adversary” (as in 1 Kgs 11:14). Here a member of the heavenly court, “the accuser” (Zec 3:1). In later biblical traditions this character will be developed as the devil (Gk. diabolos, “adversary”).
* [1:15] Sabeans: from southern Arabia.
* [1:17] Chaldeans: from southern Mesopotamia; in the mid-first millennium B.C., synonymous with “Babylonians.”
* [1:21] Go back there: to the earth; cf. Gn 2:7; see note on Sir 40:1.
a. [1:1] Jb 2:3.
b. [1:6–8] Jb 2:1–3.
c. [1:6] Gn 6:2, 4; Zec 3:1; Lk 22:31; Rev 12:9.
d. [1:7] 1 Pt 5:8.
e. [1:11] Jb 2:5.
f. [1:21] Eccl 5:14; 1 Tm 6:7.
g. [1:22] Jb 2:10; Jas 5:11.
The Second Interview. 1One day, when the sons of Goda came to present themselves before the LORD, the satan also came with them. 2The LORD said to the satan, “Where have you been?” Then the satan answered the LORD and said, “Roaming the earth and patrolling it.” 3The LORD said to the satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil.b He still holds fast to his innocence although you incited me against him to ruin him for nothing.” 4The satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin!* All that a man has he will give for his life. 5c But put forth your hand and touch his bone and his flesh. Then surely he will curse you to your face.” 6And the LORD said to the satan, “He is in your power; only spare his life.”
The Second Trial. 7So the satan went forth from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with severe boils from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.
Job’s Reaction. 8He took a potsherd to scrape himself, as he sat among the ashes. 9Then his wife said to him,d “Are you still holding to your innocence? Curse God and die!”* 10But he said to her, “You speak as foolish women do. We accept good things from God; should we not accept evil?” Through all this, Job did not sin in what he said.e
Job’s Three Friends. 11Now when three of Job’s friends heard of all the misfortune that had come upon him, they set out each one from his own place: Eliphaz from Teman,* Bildad from Shuh, and Zophar from Naamath. They met and journeyed together to give him sympathy and comfort. 12But when, at a distance, they lifted up their eyes and did not recognize him, they began to weep aloud; they tore their cloaks and threw dust into the air over their heads. 13Then they sat down upon the ground with him seven days and seven nights, but none of them spoke a word to him; for they saw how great was his suffering.
* [2:4] Skin for skin: a proverbial expression derived perhaps from bartering; the precise meaning is unclear.
* [2:9] Curse God and die: the presupposition is that such blasphemy would be met with immediate death.
* [2:11] Teman: in Edom (see Gn 36:9–11). The Temanites (Jer 49:7; cf. Ob 8) enjoyed a reputation for wisdom. Shuh and Naamath: locations unknown.
a. [2:1] Jb 1:6.
b. [2:3] Jb 1:1.
c. [2:5] Jb 1:11.
d. [2:9] Jb 19:17.
e. [2:10] Jb 1:22; Sir 2:4.
Job’s Complaint. 1After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed his day.* 2Job spoke out and said:
3Perish the day on which I was born,a
the night when they said, “The child is a boy!”
4May that day be darkness:
may God* above not care for it,
may light not shine upon it!
5May darkness and gloom claim it,
clouds settle upon it,
blackness of day* affright it!
6May obscurity seize that night;
may it not be counted among the days of the year,
nor enter into the number of the months!
7May that night be barren;
let no joyful outcry greet it!
8Let them curse it who curse the Sea,
those skilled at disturbing Leviathan!*
9May the stars of its twilight be darkened;
may it look for daylight, but have none,
nor gaze on the eyes of the dawn,
10Because it did not keep shut the doors of the womb
to shield my eyes from trouble!
11Why did I not die at birth,b
come forth from the womb and expire?
12Why did knees receive me,
or breasts nurse me?
13For then I should have lain down and been tranquil;
had I slept, I should then have been at rest
14With kings and counselors of the earth
who rebuilt what were ruins
15Or with princes who had gold
and filled their houses with silver.
16Or why was I not buried away like a stillborn child,
like babies that have never seen the light?
17There* the wicked cease from troubling,
there the weary are at rest.
18The captives are at ease together,
and hear no overseer’s voice.
19Small and great are there;
the servant is free from the master.
20Why is light given to the toilers,
life to the bitter in spirit?
21They wait for death and it does not come;
they search for it more than for hidden treasures.
22They rejoice in it exultingly,
and are glad when they find the grave:
23A man whose path is hidden from him,
one whom God has hemmed in!*
24For to me sighing comes more readily than food;
my groans well forth like water.
25For what I feared overtakes me;
what I dreaded comes upon me.
26I have no peace nor ease;
I have no rest, for trouble has come!
* [3:1] His day: that is, the day of his birth.
* [3:4] God: in Heb. ’Eloah, another name for the divinity, used frequently in Job.
* [3:5] Blackness of day: that is, an eclipse.
* [3:8] Leviathan: a mythological sea monster symbolizing primeval chaos. It is parallel to Sea, which was the opponent of Baal in the Ugaritic legends. Cf. 9:13; 26:13; 40:25–41:26; Ps 74:13–14; 104:26; Is 27:1.
* [3:17] There: in death.
* [3:23] Hemmed in: contrast the same verb as used in 1:10.
a. [3:3] Jer 20:14.
b. [3:11] Jb 10:18–19.
Eliphaz’s First Speech. 1Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:
2If someone attempts a word with you, would you mind?
How can anyone refrain from speaking?
3Look, you have instructed many,
and made firm their feeble hands.
4Your words have upheld the stumbler;
you have strengthened faltering knees.
5But now that it comes to you, you are impatient;
when it touches you, you are dismayed.
6Is not your piety a source of confidence,
and your integrity of life your hope?
7Reflect now, what innocent person perishes?a
Where are the upright destroyed?
8As I see it, those who plow mischief
and sow trouble will reap them.
9By the breath of God they perish,b
and by the blast of his wrath they are consumed.
10Though the lion* roars, though the king of beasts cries out,
yet the teeth of the young lions are broken;
11The old lion perishes for lack of prey,
and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.
12A word was stealthily brought to me,*
my ear caught a whisper of it.
13In my thoughts during visions of the night,c
when deep sleep falls on mortals,
14Fear came upon me, and shuddering,
that terrified me to the bone.
15Then a spirit passed before me,
and the hair of my body stood on end.
16It paused, but its likeness I could not recognize;
a figure was before my eyes,
in silence I heard a voice:d
17“Can anyone be more in the right than God?e
Can mortals be more blameless than their Maker?
18Look, he puts no trust in his servants,f
and even with his messengers he finds fault.
19How much more with those who dwell in houses of clay,
whose foundation is in the dust,
who are crushed more easily than a moth!
20Morning or evening they may be shattered;
unnoticed, they perish forever.
21The pegs of their tent are plucked up;
they die without knowing wisdom.”
* [4:10] The lion: used figuratively here for the violent, rapacious sinner who cannot prevail against God.
* [4:12–21] A dramatic presentation of the idea of human nothingness in contrast to God’s greatness (v. 17). The message of the “private revelation” that stirs Eliphaz so deeply is in reality expressed countless times in the Bible. The statements of the friends are often “truths” that are insensitive or irrelevant to Job’s questioning.
a. [4:7] Ps 37:25.
b. [4:9] Ps 18:16; Is 11:4; 2 Thes 2:8.
c. [4:13] Jb 33:15.
d. [4:16] 1 Kgs 19:12.
e. [4:17] Jb 9:2; 15:14–16; 25:4; Ps 130:3; 143:2.
f. [4:18] Jb 15:15; 2 Pt 2:4; Jude 6.
1Call now! Will anyone respond to you?
To which of the holy ones* will you turn?
2Surely impatience kills the fool
and indignation slays the simpleton.
3I have seen a fool spreading his roots,a
but I cursed his household suddenly:
4May his children be far from safety;
may they be crushed at the gate* without a rescuer.
5What they have reaped may the hungry eat up,
or God take away by blight,
or the thirsty swallow their substance.
6For not from dust does mischief come,
nor from the soil does trouble sprout.
7Human beings beget mischief
as sparks* fly upward.
8In your place, I would appeal to God,
and to God I would state my plea.
9* He does things great and unsearchable,
things marvelous and innumerable.
10He gives rain upon the earth
and sends water upon the fields;
11b He sets up the lowly on high,
and those who mourn are raised to safety.
12He frustrates the plans of the cunning,
so that their hands achieve no success;
13He catches the wise in their own ruses,c
and the designs of the crafty are routed.
14They meet with darkness in the daytime,
at noonday they grope as though it were night.
15But he saves the poor from the sword of their mouth,*
from the hand of the mighty.
16Thus the needy have hope,
and iniquity closes its mouth.
17Happy the one whom God reproves!
The Almighty’s* discipline do not reject.
18For he wounds, but he binds up;d
he strikes, but his hands give healing.
19Out of six troubles he will deliver you,
and at the seventh* no evil shall touch you.
20In famine he will deliver you from death,
and in war from the power of the sword;
21From the scourge of the tongue you shall be hidden,
and you shall not fear approaching ruin.
22At ruin and want you shall laugh;
the beasts of the earth, do not fear.
23With the stones of the field shall your covenant be,
and the wild beasts shall be at peace with you.
24And you shall know that your tent is secure;
taking stock of your household, you shall miss nothing.
25You shall know that your descendants are many,
and your offspring like the grass of the earth.
26You shall approach the grave in full vigor,
as a shock of grain comes in at its season.
27See, this we have searched out; so it is!
This we have heard, and you should know.
* [5:1] Holy ones: members of the heavenly court; cf. 1:6 and note. They were viewed as heavenly intercessors.
* [5:4] At the gate: of the city, where justice was administered.
* [5:7] Sparks: in Hebrew, “sons of resheph,” which the ancient versions took as the name of a bird. Resheph was an underworld deity of plague, but the word also means “flames” in Sg 8:6.
* [5:9] Perhaps to be omitted here; it is a duplicate of 9:10.
* [5:15] From the sword of their mouth: the Hebrew is obscure.
* [5:17] Almighty: standard translation of Heb. Shaddai.
* [5:19] Six…the seventh: proverbial expression for any large number; cf. Prv 24:16; Lk 17:4.
a. [5:3] Ps 37:35–36.
b. [5:11] 1 Sm 2:7–8; Ps 113:7; Lk 1:52.
c. [5:13] 1 Cor 3:19.
d. [5:18] Hos 6:1–2.
Job’s First Reply. 1Then Job answered and said:
2Ah, could my anguish but be measured
and my calamity laid with it in the scales,
3They would now outweigh the sands of the sea!
Because of this I speak without restraint.
4For the arrows of the Almighty are in me,a
and my spirit drinks in their poison;
the terrors of God are arrayed against me.
5Does the wild donkey bray when it has grass?*
Does the ox low over its fodder?
6Can anything insipid be eaten without salt?
Is there flavor in the white of an egg?
7I refuse to touch them;
they are like loathsome food to me.
8Oh, that I might have my request,
and that God would grant what I long for:
9Even that God would decide to crush me,
that he would put forth his hand and cut me off!
10Then I should still have consolation
and could exult through unremitting pain,
because I have not transgressed the commands of the Holy One.
11What strength have I that I should endure,
and what is my limit that I should be patient?
12Have I the strength of stones,
or is my flesh of bronze?
13Have I no helper,b
and has my good sense deserted me?
14A friend owes kindness to one in despair,
though he has forsaken the fear of the Almighty.
15My companions are undependable as a wadi,
as watercourses that run dry in the wadies;
16Though they may be black with ice,
and with snow heaped upon them,
17Yet once they flow, they cease to be;
in the heat, they disappear from their place.
18Caravans wander from their routes;
they go into the wasteland and perish.
19The caravans of Tema* search,
the companies of Sheba have hopes;
20They are disappointed, though they were confident;
they come there and are frustrated.
21It is thus that you have now become for me;*
you see a terrifying thing and are afraid.
22Have I said, “Give me something,
make a bribe on my behalf from your possessions”?
23Or “Deliver me from the hand of the enemy,
redeem me from oppressors”?
24Teach me, and I will be silent;
make me understand how I have erred.
25How painful honest words can be;
yet how unconvincing is your argument!
26Do you consider your words as proof,
but the sayings of a desperate man as wind?
27You would even cast lots for the orphan,
and would barter over your friend!
28Come, now, give me your attention;
surely I will not lie to your face.
29Think it over; let there be no injustice.
Think it over; I still am right.
30Is there insincerity on my tongue,
or cannot my taste discern falsehood?
* [6:5–6] Job would not complain if his life were as pleasant to him as fodder to a hungry animal; but his life is as disagreeable as insipid food. White of an egg: thus the obscure Hebrew has been understood in Jewish tradition; some render it “mallow juice.”
* [6:19] Tema: in northwest Arabia. Sheba: home of the Sabeans; see note on 1:15.
* [6:21] It is only at this point that the previous lines (vv. 1–20) are clearly directed to the three friends. The style of replying in these chapters (3–31) is often indirect. Job and the friends become mouthpieces through which the author presents current views on divine retribution in dramatic fashion. In chap. 7, Job will not even speak directly to the friends.
a. [6:4] Ps 88:17.
b. [6:13] Jb 19:14–15.
1a Is not life on earth a drudgery,*
its days like those of a hireling?
2Like a slave who longs for the shade,
a hireling who waits for wages,
3So I have been assigned months of futility,
and troubled nights have been counted off for me.
4When I lie down I say, “When shall I arise?”
then the night drags on;
I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.
5My flesh is clothed with worms and scabs;b
my skin cracks and festers;
6My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle;
they come to an end without hope.
7Remember that my life is like the wind;c
my eye will not see happiness again.
8The eye that now sees me shall no more behold me;
when your eye is on me, I shall be gone.
9As a cloud dissolves and vanishes,d
so whoever goes down to Sheol shall not come up.
10They shall not return home again;
their place shall know them no more.
11My own utterance I will not restrain;
I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
12* Am I the Sea, or the dragon,
that you place a watch over me?*
13When I say, “My bed shall comfort me,
my couch shall ease my complaint,”
14Then you frighten me with dreams
and terrify me with visions,
15So that I should prefer strangulation
and death rather than my existence.*
16I waste away: I will not live forever;e
let me alone, for my days are but a breath.
17* What are human beings, that you make much of them,
or pay them any heed?
18You observe them every morningf
and try them at every moment!
19How long before you look away from me,
and let me alone till I swallow my spit?
20If I sin, what do I do to you,
O watcher of mortals?
Why have you made me your target?
Why should I be a burden for you?
21Why do you not pardon my offense,
or take away my guilt?
For soon I shall lie down in the dust;
and should you seek me I shall be gone.
* [7:1] Drudgery: taken by some to refer to military service; cf. also 14:14.
* [7:12–21] Job now speaks not to his friends (who never speak to God), but to God. He does this frequently; cf. 9:28; 10:2–22; 13:20–28; 14:13–22.
* [7:12] An allusion to the personification of primeval chaos as a monstrous ocean vanquished by God; see note on 3:8.
* [7:15] Existence: lit., bones; the Hebrew is unclear.
* [7:17–18] An ironic allusion to Ps 8:5.
a. [7:1] Jb 14:14.
b. [7:5] Jb 2:7–8.
c. [7:7] Ps 144:4.
d. [7:9–10] Jb 10:21; 14:10–12; 2 Sm 12:23; 14:14: Wis 2:1.
e. [7:16] Jb 14:1–2, 5.
f. [7:18] Ps 17:3.
Bildad’s First Speech. 1Bildad the Shuhite answered and said:
2How long will you utter such things?
The words from your mouth are a mighty wind!
3Does God pervert judgment,a
does the Almighty pervert justice?
4If your children have sinned against him
and he has left them in the grip of their guilt,
5Still, if you yourself have recourse to God
and make supplication to the Almighty,
6Should you be blameless and upright,
surely now he will rouse himself for you
and restore your rightful home.
7Though your beginning was small,
your future will flourish indeed.
8Inquire of the former generations,
pay attention to the experience of their ancestors—b
9As we are but of yesterday and have no knowledge,
because our days on earth are but a shadow—c
10Will they not teach you and tell you
and utter their words of understanding?
11* Can the papyrus grow up without mire?
Can the reed grass flourish without water?
12While it is yet green and uncut,
it withers quicker than any grass.
13So is the end of everyone who forgets God,
and so shall the hope of the godless perish.
14His confidence is but a gossamer thread,
his trust is a spider’s house.
15He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand;
he shall cling to it, but it shall not endure.
16He thrives in full sun,
and over his garden his shoots go forth;
17About a heap of stones his roots are entwined;
among the rocks he takes hold.
18Yet if one tears him from his place,
it will disown him: “I have never seen you!”
19There he lies rotting beside the road,
and out of the soil another sprouts.
20Behold, God will not cast away the upright;
neither will he take the hand of the wicked.
21Once more will he fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with rejoicing.
22Those who hate you shall be clothed with shame,
and the tent of the wicked shall be no more.
* [8:11–13] As marsh plants need water, so human beings need God. These verses may be a quotation from the teaching of the ancestors; cf. v. 10.
a. [8:3] Jb 34:10–12.
b. [8:8] Dt 4:32; 32:7.
c. [8:9] Jb 14:2; Ps 102:12; 109:23; 144:4; Wis 2:5.
Job’s Second Reply. 1Then Job answered and said:
2I know well that it is so;
but how can anyone be in the right before God?
3Should one wish to contend with him,*
he could not answer him once in a thousand times.
4God is wise in heart and mighty in strength;
who has withstood him and remained whole?
5He removes the mountains before they know it;
he overturns them in his anger.
6He shakes the earth out of its place,a
and the pillars beneath it tremble.
7He commands the sun, and it does not rise;
he seals up the stars.
8He alone stretches out the heavensb
and treads upon the back of the sea.
9He made the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the south;
10He does things great and unsearchable,
things marvelous and innumerable.
11Should he come near me, I do not see him;
should he pass by, I am not aware of him;
12Should he seize me forcibly, who can resist?
Who can say to him, “What are you doing?”
13He is God and he does not relent;
the helpers of Rahab* bow beneath him.
14How then could I give him any answer,
or choose out arguments against him!
15Even though I were right, I could not answer,c
but should rather beg for what was due me.
16If I appealed to him and he answered me,
I could not believe that he would listen to me;
17With a storm he might overwhelm me,
and multiply my wounds for nothing;
18He would not allow me to draw breath,
but might fill me with bitter griefs.
19If it be a question of strength, he is mighty;
or of judgment, who will call him to account?
20Though I were right, my own mouth might condemn me;d
were I innocent, it might put me in the wrong.
21I am innocent, but I cannot know it;
I despise my life.
22It is all one! therefore I say:
Both the innocent and the wicked he destroys.e
23When the scourge slays suddenly,
he scoffs at the despair of the innocent.
24The earth is given into the hands of the wicked;
he covers the faces of its judges.
If it is not he, who then is it?
25My days are swifter than a runner,
they flee away; they see no happiness;f
26They shoot by like skiffs of reed,
like an eagle swooping upon its prey.
27If I say: I will forget my complaining,
I will lay aside my sadness and be of good cheer,
28Then I am in dread of all my pains;
I know that you* will not hold me innocent.
29It is I who will be accounted guilty;
why then should I strive in vain?
30If I should wash myself with soap
and cleanse my hands with lye,
31Yet you would plunge me in the ditch,
so that my garments would abhor me.
32For he is not a man like myself, that I should answer him,
that we should come together in judgment.
33Would that there were an arbiter between us,
who could lay his hand upon us both
34and withdraw his rod from me,
So that his terrors did not frighten me;
35that I might speak without being afraid of him.
Since this is not the case with me,
10:1* I loathe my life.a
* [9:3] Job begins to explore the possibility of challenging God in a lawsuit, a theme that will recur (10:2), but he knows the odds are against him (vv. 12–20).
* [9:13] Rahab: another name for the primeval sea-monster; see notes on 3:8 and Ps 89:11; cf. Jb 7:12; 26:12.
* [9:28–31] You: refers to God.
a. [9:6] Jb 26:11.
b. [9:8] Ps 104:2; Is 40:22.
c. [9:15] Jb 10:15.
d. [9:20] Jb 15:6.
e. [9:22] Eccl 9:2.
f. [9:25] Jb 7:6.
I will give myself up to complaint;
I will speak from the bitterness of my soul.
2I will say to God: Do not put me in the wrong!
Let me know why you oppose me.
3* Is it a pleasure for you to oppress,
to spurn the work of your hands,
and shine on the plan of the wicked?
4Have you eyes of flesh?
Do you see as mortals see?
5Are your days like the days of a mortal,b
and are your years like a human lifetime,
6That you seek for guilt in me
and search after my sins,
7Even though you know that I am not wicked,c
and that none can deliver me out of your hand?
8Your hands have formed me and fashioned me;
will you then turn and destroy me?
9Oh, remember that you fashioned me from clay!d
Will you then bring me down to dust again?
10Did you not pour me out like milk,
and thicken me like cheese?
11With skin and flesh you clothed me,
with bones and sinews knit me together.
12Life and love you granted me,
and your providence has preserved my spirit.
13Yet these things you have hidden in your heart;
I know they are your purpose:
14If I should sin, you would keep a watch on me,
and from my guilt you would not absolve me.
15If I should be wicked, alas for me!
even if righteous, I dare not hold up my head,
sated with shame, drenched in affliction!
16Should it lift up, you hunt me like a lion:
repeatedly you show your wondrous power against me,
17You renew your attack* upon me
and multiply your harassment of me;
in waves your troops come against me.
18Why then did you bring me forth from the womb?e
I should have died and no eye have seen me.
19I should be as though I had never lived;
I should have been taken from the womb to the grave.
20Are not my days few? Stop!
Let me alone, that I may recover a little
21Before I go whence I shall not return,f
to the land of darkness and of gloom,
22The dark, disordered land
where darkness is the only light.
* [10:1] I loathe my life: these words complete the thought of 9:35.
* [10:3–12] These lines are a delicate mixture of sarcasm and prayer; Job “reminds” God, challenging the divine providence. Note the piteous tone of the final request in vv. 20–22.
* [10:17] Attack: or “witnesses,” continuing the metaphor of lawsuit used in these chapters.
a. [10:1] Jb 9:21.
b. [10:5] Jb 36:26.
c. [10:7] Jb 2:3, 9; Dt 32:39; Wis 16:15.
d. [10:9] Jb 4:19; 33:6; Gn 2:7; 3:19; Ps 146:4.
e. [10:18] Jb 3:3, 11.
f. [10:21] Jb 7:9–10; 16:22.
Zophar’s First Speech. 1And Zophar the Naamathite answered and said:
2Should not many words be answered,
or must the garrulous man necessarily be right?
3Shall your babblings keep others silent,
and shall you deride and no one give rebuke?
4Shall you say: “My teaching is pure,
and I am clean in your sight”?
5But oh, that God would speak,*
and open his lips against you,
6And tell you the secrets of wisdom,
for good sense has two sides;
So you might learn that God
overlooks some of your sinfulness.
7Can you find out the depths of God?a
or find out the perfection of the Almighty?
8It is higher than the heavens; what can you do?
It is deeper than Sheol; what can you know?
9It is longer than the earth in measure,
and broader than the sea.
10If he should seize and imprison
or call to judgment, who then could turn him back?
11For he knows the worthless
and sees iniquity; will he then ignore it?
12An empty head will gain understanding,
when a colt of a wild jackassb is born human.*
13If you set your heart aright
and stretch out your hands toward him,
14If iniquity is in your hand, remove it,
and do not let injustice dwell in your tent,
15Surely then you may lift up your face in innocence;
you may stand firm and unafraid.
16For then you shall forget your misery,
like water that has ebbed away you shall regard it.
17Then your life shall be brighter than the noonday;
its gloom shall become like the morning,
18And you shall be secure, because there is hope;
you shall look round you and lie down in safety;c
19you shall lie down and no one will disturb you.
Many shall entreat your favor,
20but the wicked, looking on, shall be consumed with envy.
Escape shall be cut off from them,
their only hope their last breath.
* [11:5] This is another of many ironies (e.g., cf. 11:16–19) that occur throughout the book. Zophar does not know that God will speak (chaps. 38–42), but contrary to what he thinks.
* [11:12] A colt…is born human: the Hebrew is obscure. As translated, it seems to be a proverb referring to an impossible event.
a. [11:7] Rom 11:33.
b. [11:12] Jb 39:5–8.
c. [11:18] Lv 26:6; Ps 4:9.
Job’s Third Reply. 1* Then Job answered and said:
2No doubt you are the people
with whom wisdom shall die!
3But I have intelligence as well as you;a
I do not fall short of you;
for who does not know such things as these?
4I have become the sport of my neighbors:*
“The one whom God answers when he calls upon him,
The just, the perfect man,” is a laughingstock;b
5The undisturbed esteem my downfall a disgrace
such as awaits unsteady feet;
6Yet the tents of robbers are prosperous,
and those who provoke God are secure,
whom God has in his power.*
7But now ask the beasts to teach you,
the birds of the air to tell you;
8Or speak to the earth to instruct you,
and the fish of the sea to inform you.
9Which of all these does not know
that the hand of God has done this?
10In his hand is the soul of every living thing,c
and the life breath of all mortal flesh.
11Does not the ear judge words
as the mouth tastes food?d
12So with old age is wisdom,e
and with length of days understanding.
13With him are wisdom and might;
his are counsel and understanding.
14If he knocks a thing down, there is no rebuilding;f
if he imprisons, there is no release.
15He holds back the waters and there is drought;g
he sends them forth and they overwhelm the land.
16With him are strength and prudence;
the misled and the misleaders are his.
17He sends counselors away barefoot,
makes fools of judges.
18He loosens the belt of kings,
ties a waistcloth on their loins.*
19He sends priests away barefoot,
leads the powerful astray.
20He silences the trusted adviser,
takes discretion from the elders.
21He pours shame on nobles,h
the waistband of the strong he loosens.
22He uncovers deep things from the darkness,
brings the gloom into the light.
23He makes nations great and destroys them,
spreads peoples abroad and abandons them.
24He takes understanding from the leaders of the land,
makes them wander in a pathless desert.
25They grope in the darkness without light;
he makes them wander like drunkards.
* [12:1] Job begins his third and longest speech to the friends with sarcasm, and eventually he accuses them of falsehood (13:4–11). The dialogue between them becomes increasingly sharp. With the appeal to learning from beasts and birds (12:7), Job launches into what seems to be a bitter parody of the power of God.
* [12:4–5] The Hebrew is somewhat obscure, but the general sense is that the wicked mock the pious when the latter appear to be abandoned by God; cf. Ps 22:7–9; Mt 27:39–43.
* [12:6] Whom God has in his power: the Hebrew is obscure. The line may be a scribal error; some of the phrases occur in vv. 9, 10.
* [12:18] He reduces kings to the condition of slaves, who wear only a cloth wrapped about the waist.
a. [12:3] Jb 13:2; 15:9.
b. [12:4] Jb 21:3; 30:1.
c. [12:10] Acts 17:28.
d. [12:11] Jb 34:3.
e. [12:12] Jb 32:7.
f. [12:14] Jer 1:10; Rev 3:7.
g. [12:15] Gn 7:11–24.
h. [12:21] Ps 107:40.
1All this my eye has seen;
my ear has heard and perceived it.
2What you know, I also know;a
I do not fall short of you.
3But I would speak with the Almighty;b
I want to argue with God.
4But you gloss over falsehoods,
you are worthless physicians, every one of you!
5Oh, that you would be altogether silent;
that for you would be wisdom!
6Hear now my argument
and listen to the accusations from my lips.
7Is it for God that you speak falsehood?
Is it for him that you utter deceit?
8Is it for him that you show partiality?
Do you make accusations on behalf of God?
9Will it be well when he shall search you out?
Can you deceive him as you do a mere human being?
10He will openly rebuke you
if in secret you show partiality.
11Surely his majesty will frighten you
and dread of him fall upon you.
12Your reminders are ashy maxims,
your fabrications mounds of clay.
13Be silent! Let me alone that I may speak,
no matter what happens to me.
14I will carry my flesh between my teeth,
and take my life in my hand.*
15Slay me though he might,c I will wait for him;*
I will defend my conduct before him.
16This shall be my salvation:
no impious man can come into his presence.
17Pay close attention to my speech,
give my statement a hearing.
18Behold, I have prepared my case,d
I know that I am in the right.
19If anyone can make a case against me,
then I shall be silent and expire.
20Two things only do not use against me,*
then from your presence I need not hide:
21Withdraw your hand far from me,
do not let the terror of you frighten me.
22Then call me, and I will respond;
or let me speak first, and answer me.
23What are my faults and my sins?
My misdeed, my sin make known to me!
24Why do you hide your face
and consider me your enemy?* e
25Will you harass a wind-driven leaf
or pursue a withered straw?
26For you draw up bitter indictments against me,
and punish in me the faults of my youth.
27You put my feet in the stocks;
you watch all my paths
and trace out all my footsteps,
28Though I wear out like a leather bottle,
like a garment the moth has consumed.
* [13:14] The second half of the verse is a common biblical expression for risking one’s life; cf. Jgs 12:3; 1 Sm 19:5; 28:21; Ps 119:109; the first half of the verse must have a similar meaning. Job is so confident of his innocence that he is willing to risk his life by going to judgment with God.
* [13:15] Many translations adopt the Ketib reading, “I have no hope.”
* [13:20] In 13:20–14:22, Job directs his address to God; cf. 7:8–21; 9:28–10:22. His three friends never do this.
* [13:24] The Hebrew word for “enemy” (‘oyeb) is very close to the Hebrew form of Job’s name (‘iyyob). The play on the word implies that God has confused the two.
a. [13:2] Jb 12:3; 15:9.
b. [13:3] Jb 23:4.
c. [13:15] Jb 27:5.
d. [13:18] Jb 33:9.
e. [13:24] Jb 19:11; 33:10.
1Man born of woman
is short-lived and full of trouble,* a
2Like a flower that springs up and fades,b
swift as a shadow that does not abide.
3Upon such a one will you set your eyes,
bringing me into judgment before you?
4Can anyone make the unclean clean?c
No one can.
5Since his days are determined—
you know the number of his months;
you have fixed the limit which he cannot pass—
6Look away from him and let him be,
while, like a hireling, he completes his day.
7For a tree there is hope;
if it is cut down, it will sprout again,
its tender shoots will not cease.
8Even though its root grow old in the earth
and its stump die in the dust,
9Yet at the first whiff of water it sprouts
and puts forth branches like a young plant.
10But when a man dies, all vigor leaves him;d
when a mortal expires, where then is he?
11As when the waters of a lake fail,
or a stream shrivels and dries up,
12So mortals lie down, never to rise.
Until the heavens are no more, they shall not awake,
nor be roused out of their sleep.e
13Oh, that you would hide me in Sheol,
shelter me till your wrath is past,
fix a time to remember me!
14If a man were to die, and live again,
all the days of my drudgery I would waitf
for my relief to come.
15You would call, and I would answer you;
you would long for the work of your hands.
16Surely then you would count my steps,g
and not keep watch for sin in me.
17My misdeeds would be sealed up in a pouch,*
and you would cover over my guilt.
18Mountains fall and crumble,
rocks move from their place,
19And water wears away stone,
and floods wash away the soil of the land—
so you destroy the hope of mortals!
20You prevail once for all against them and they pass on;
you dismiss them with changed appearance.
21If their children are honored, they are not aware of it;
or if disgraced, they do not know about them.
22Only for themselves, their pain;
only for themselves, their mourning.
* [14:1] The sorrowful lament of Job is that God should relent in view of the limited life of human beings. When compared to plant life, which dies but can revive, the death of human beings is final. Job’s wild and “unthinkable” wish in vv. 13–17 is a bold stroke of imagination and desire: if only in Sheol he were protected till God would remember him! Were he to live again (v. 14), things would be different, but alas, God destroys “the hope of mortals” (v. 19).
* [14:17] Sealed up in a pouch: hidden away and forgotten.
a. [14:1] Jb 10:20; 15:14; Ps 39:5–6; 89:46; Wis 2:1.
b. [14:2] Jb 8:9; Ps 90:6; 102:12; 103:15; 109:23; 144:4; Is 40:6–7; Jas 1:10.
c. [14:4] Ps 51:4, 7.
d. [14:10] Jb 20:7.
e. [14:12] Jb 7:10.
f. [14:14] Jb 7:1.
g. [14:16] Jb 31:4; 34:21.
Second Speech of Eliphaz. 1* Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:
2Does a wise man answer with windy opinions,
or puff himself up with the east wind?
3Does he argue in speech that does not avail,
and in words that are to no profit?
4You in fact do away with piety,
you lessen devotion toward God,
5Because your wickedness instructs your mouth,
and you choose to speak like the crafty.
6Your own mouth condemns you, not I;a
your own lips refute you.
7Were you the first to be born?
Were you brought forth before the hills?
8Do you listen in on God’s councilb
and restrict wisdom to yourself?
9What do you know that we do not know,c
or understand that we do not?
10There are gray-haired old men among us,
more advanced in years than your father.
11Are the consolations of God not enough for you,
and speech that deals gently with you?
12Why does your heart carry you away,
and why do your eyes flash,
13So that you turn your anger against God
and let such words escape your mouth!
14How can any mortal be blameless,d
anyone born of woman be righteous?e
15If in his holy ones God places no confidence,f
and if the heavens are not without blame in his sight,
16How much less so is the abominable and corrupt:
people who drink in iniquity like water!
17I will show you, if you listen to me;
what I have seen I will tell—
18What the wise relate
and have not contradicted since the days of their ancestors,
19To whom alone the land was given,
when no foreigner moved among them:
20The wicked is in torment all his days,
and limited years are in store for the ruthless;
21The sound of terrors is in his ears;
when all is prosperous, a spoiler comes upon him.
22He despairs of escaping the darkness,
and looks ever for the sword;
23A wanderer, food for vultures,
he knows destruction is imminent.
24A day of darkness fills him with dread;
distress and anguish overpower him,
like a king expecting an attack.
25Because he has stretched out his hand against God
and arrogantly challenged the Almighty,
26Rushing defiantly against him,
with the stout bosses of his shields.
27Although he has covered his face with his crassness,
padded his loins with blubber,
28He shall dwell in ruined cities,
in houses that are deserted,
crumbling into rubble.
29He shall not be rich, his possessions shall not endure;
his property shall not spread over the land.
30A flame shall sear his early growth,
and with the wind his blossoms shall disappear.
31Let him not trust in his height, misled,
even though his height be like the palm tree.*
32He shall wither before his time,
his branches no longer green.
33He shall be like a vine that sheds its grapes unripened,
like an olive tree casting off its blossom.
34For the breed of the impious shall be sterile,g
and fire shall consume the tents of extortioners.
35They conceive malice, bring forth deceit,h
give birth to fraud.*
* [15:1] The tone of Eliphaz’s speech is now much rougher. In vv. 7–9 he ridicules Job’s knowledge with a sarcastic question about whether he was a member of the divine council before creation and thus had unique wisdom (according to Prv 8:22–31, only Woman Wisdom existed before creation). Verses 20–35 are a typical description of the fate of the wicked.
* [15:31] The translation is uncertain.
* [15:35] The plans of the wicked yield nothing but futile results. Cf. Ps 7:15; Is 59:4.
a. [15:6] Jb 9:20.
b. [15:8] Jb 11:7; Wis 9:13; Jer 23:18; Rom 11:34; 1 Cor 2:11, 16.
c. [15:9] Jb 12:3; 13:2.
d. [15:14–16] Jb 25:4–6.
e. [15:14] Jb 14:4.
f. [15:15] Jb 4:18–19.
g. [15:34] Wis 3:11, 18.
h. [15:35] Ps 7:15; Is 59:4.
Job’s Fourth Reply. 1Then Job answered and said:
2I have heard this sort of thing many times.a
Troublesome comforters, all of you!
3Is there no end to windy words?
What sickness makes you rattle on?
4I also could talk as you do,
were you in my place.
I could declaim over you,
or wag my head at you;
5I could strengthen you with talk,
with mere chatter give relief.
6If I speak, my pain is not relieved;
if I stop speaking, nothing changes.
7But now he has exhausted me;
you have stunned all my companions.
8You* have shriveled me up; it is a witness,
my gauntness rises up to testify against me;
9His wrath tears and assails me,
he gnashes his teeth against me;
My enemy looks daggers at me.
10They gape at me with their mouths;
They strike me on the cheek with insults;
they are all enlisted against me.
11God has given me over to the impious;
into the hands of the wicked he has cast me.
12I was in peace, but he dislodged me,
seized me by the neck, dashed me to pieces.
He has set me up for a target;
13his arrows strike me from all directions.
He pierces my sides without mercy,
pours out my gall upon the ground.
14He pierces me, thrust upon thrust,
rushes at me like a warrior.
15I have sewn sackcloth on my skin,
laid my horn low in the dust.
16My face is inflamed with weeping,
darkness covers my eyes,
17Although my hands are free from violence,
and my prayer sincere.
18O earth, do not cover my blood,
nor let my outcry come to rest!*
19Even now my witness* is in heaven,
my advocate is on high.
20My friends it is who wrong me;
before God my eyes shed tears,
21That justice may be done for a mortal with God:
as for a man with his neighbor.
22For my years are numbered,
and I go the road of no return.
* [16:8] You: God. Job then describes in vv. 9–17 the savage treatment that he has received from God.
* [16:18] As the exposed blood of those who were unjustly slain cries to heaven for vengeance (Gn 4:10; Ez 24:6–9), so Job’s sufferings demand redress.
* [16:19] Witness: refers perhaps to God (is Job appealing to God against God?), or to a mediator (cf. 9:33), or to a personification of Job’s prayer.
a. [16:2] Jb 12:3.
1My spirit is broken, my days finished,
my burial at hand.
2Surely mockers surround me,
at their provocation, my eyes grow dim.
3Put up a pledge for me with you:*
who is there to give surety for me?
4You darken their minds to knowledge;
therefore you will not exalt them.
5For a share of property he informs on friends,
while the eyes of his children grow dim.
6I am made a byword of the people;a
I am one at whom people spit.
7My eyes are blind with anguish,
and my whole frame is like a shadow.
8The upright are astonished at this,
the innocent aroused against the wicked.
9The righteous holds to his way,
the one with clean hands increases in strength.
10But turn now, and come on again;
I do not find a wise man among you!
11My days pass by, my plans are at an end,
the yearning of my heart.
12They would change the night into day;
where there is darkness they talk of approaching light.
13* If my only hope is dwelling in Sheol,
and spreading my couch in darkness,
14If I am to say to the pit, “You are my father,”
and to the worm “my mother,” “my sister,”
15Where then is my hope,
my happiness, who can see it?
16Will they descend with me into Sheol?
Shall we go down together into the dust?
* [17:3] Addressed to God; v. 10 to Job’s friends.
* [17:13–16] Job elaborates another of the vivid descriptions of “life” in Sheol; cf. 3:13–23; 10:21–22.
a. [17:6] Jb 30:9.
Bildad’s Second Speech. 1Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said:
2When will you put an end to words?
Reflect, and then we can have discussion.
3Why are we accounted like beasts,
equal to them in your sight?
4You who tear yourself in your anger—
shall the earth be neglected on your account
or the rock be moved out of its place?
5Truly, the light of the wicked is extinguished;
the flame of his fire casts no light.
6In his tent light is darkness;
the lamp above him goes out.a
7His vigorous steps are hemmed in,
his own counsel casts him down.
8A net catches him by the feet,
he wanders into a pitfall.
9A trap seizes him by the heel,
a snare lays hold of him.
10A noose is hidden for him on the ground,
a netting for him on the path.
11On every side terrors frighten him;b
they harry him at each step.
12His strength is famished,
disaster is ready at his side,
13His skin is eaten to the limbs,
the firstborn of Death* eats his limbs.
14He is plucked from the security of his tent;
and marched off to the king of terrors.*
15Fire lodges in his tent,
over his abode brimstone is scattered.
16Below, his roots dry up,
and above, his branches wither.
17His memory perishes from the earth,c
and he has no name in the countryside.
18He is driven from light into darkness,
and banished from the world.
19He has neither offshoot nor offspring among his people,
no survivor where once he dwelt.
20Those who come after shall be appalled at his fate;
those who went before are seized with horror.
21So is it then with the dwelling of the impious;
such is the place of the one who does not know God!
* [18:13] Firstborn of Death: that is, disease, plague.
* [18:14] The king of terrors: of Sheol, of Death (cf. the “terrors” in v. 11). However, the Hebrew of this verse is obscure.
a. [18:6] Jb 21:17; Prv 13:9; 24:20.
b. [18:11] Jb 15:20–24; 27:20.
c. [18:17] Ps 34:17; Prv 2:22; 10:7.
Job’s Fifth Reply. 1* Then Job answered and said:
2How long will you afflict my spirit,
grind me down with words?
3These ten times you have humiliated me,
have assailed me without shame!
4Even if it were true that I am at fault,
my fault would remain with me;
5If truly you exalt yourselves at my expense,
and use my shame as an argument against me,
6Know then that it is God who has dealt unfairly with me,
and compassed me round with his net.
7If I cry out “Violence!” I am not answered.a
I shout for help, but there is no justice.
8He has barred my way and I cannot pass;
veiled my path in darkness;
9He has stripped me of my glory,
taken the diadem from my brow.
10He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone;
he has uprooted my hope like a tree.
11He has kindled his wrath against me;
he counts me one of his enemies.b
12His troops advance as one;
they build up their road to attack me,
encamp around my tent.
13My family has withdrawn from me,c
my friends are wholly estranged.
14My relatives and companions neglect me,
my guests have forgotten me.
15Even my maidservants consider me a stranger;
I am a foreigner in their sight.
16I call my servant, but he gives no answer,
though I plead aloud with him.
17My breath is abhorrent to my wife;d
I am loathsome to my very children.
18Even young children despise me;
when I appear, they speak against me.
19All my intimate friends hold me in horror;
those whom I loved have turned against me!e
20My bones cling to my skin,
and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.*
21Pity me, pity me, you my friends,
for the hand of God has struck me!
22Why do you pursue me like God,
and prey insatiably upon me?
23Oh, would that my words were written down!f
Would that they were inscribed in a record:*
24That with an iron chisel and with lead
they were cut in the rock forever!
25As for me, I know that my vindicator lives,*
and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust.g
26This will happen when my skin has been stripped off,
and from my flesh I will see God:
27I will see for myself,
my own eyes, not another’s, will behold him:
my inmost being is consumed with longing.
28But you who say, “How shall we persecute him,
seeing that the root of the matter is found in him?”
29Be afraid of the sword for yourselves,
for your anger is a crime deserving the sword;
that you may know that there is a judgment.
* [19:1] Job continues railing against his friends (vv. 2–5), and describing God’s savage attack in words reminiscent of 16:9–17.
* [19:20] Skin of my teeth: although the metaphor is not clear, this has become a proverbial expression for a narrow escape. It does not fit Job’s situation here.
* [19:23–24] What Job is about to say is so important that he wants it recorded in a permanent manner.
* [19:25–27] The meaning of this passage is obscure because the original text has been poorly preserved and the ancient versions do not agree among themselves. Job asserts three times that he shall see a future vindicator (Hebrew goel), but he leaves the time and manner of this vindication undefined. The Vulgate translation has Job indicating a belief in resurrection after death, but the Hebrew and the other ancient versions are less specific.
a. [19:7] Jb 30:20.
b. [19:11] Jb 13:24; 33:10.
c. [19:13] Jb 6:13.
d. [19:17] Jb 2:9.
e. [19:19] Sir 6:8.
f. [19:23] Jb 31:35.
g. [19:25–26] Phil 3:20; Ti 2:13.
Zophar’s Second Speech. 1Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said:
2So now my thoughts provide an answer for me,
because of the feelings within me.
3A rebuke that puts me to shame I hear,
and from my understanding a spirit gives me a reply.
4Do you not know this: from of old,
since human beings were placed upon the earth,
5The triumph of the wicked is short
and the joy of the impious but for a moment?a
6Though his pride mount up to the heavens
and his head reach to the clouds,
7Yet he perishes forever like the dung he uses for fuel,
and onlookers say, “Where is he?”b
8Like a dream he takes flight and cannot be found;
he fades away like a vision of the night.
9The eye which saw him does so no more;
nor shall his dwelling again behold him.
10His sons will restore to the poor,
and his hands will yield up his riches.c
11Though his bones are full of youthful vigor,
it shall lie with him in the dust.
12Though wickedness is sweet in his mouth,
and he hides it under his tongue,
13Though he retains it and will not let it go
but keeps it still within his mouth,
14Yet in his stomach the food shall turn;
it shall be venom of asps inside him.
15The riches he swallowed he shall vomit up;
God shall make his belly disgorge them.
16The poison of asps he shall drink in;
the viper’s fangs shall slay him.
17He shall see no streams of oil,*
no torrents of honey or milk.
18He shall give back his gains, never used;
like his profit from trade, never enjoyed.
19Because he has oppressed and neglected the poor,
and stolen a house he did not build;
20For he has known no quiet in his greed,
in his treasure he cannot save himself.d
21None of his survivors will consume it,
therefore his prosperity shall not endure.
22e When he has more than enough, distress shall be his,
every sort of trouble shall come upon him.
23When he has filled his belly,
God shall send against him the fury of his wrath
and rain down his missiles upon him.
24Should he escape an iron weapon,
a bronze bow shall pierce him through;
25The dart shall come out of his back,
a shining point out of his gall-bladder:
terrors fall upon him.
26Complete darkness is in store for his treasured ones;
a fire unfanned shall consume him;f
any survivor in his tent shall be destroyed.
27The heavens shall reveal his guilt,
and the earth rise up against him.
28The flood shall sweep away his house,
torrents in the day of God’s anger.
29This is the portion of the wicked,
the heritage appointed him by God.* g
* [20:17] Oil: olive oil, one of the main agricultural products of ancient Palestine, a land proverbially rich in honey and milk; see Ex 3:8; etc.
* [20:29] Zophar ends his lecture in the style of Bildad (cf. 18:19) with a summary appraisal of what he has been saying about the fate of the wicked.
a. [20:5] Jb 21:13; Ps 37:35–36.
b. [20:7] Jb 14:10; Ps 37:10, 36.
c. [20:10] Jb 27:14.
d. [20:20] Eccl 5:9; Lk 12:20.
e. [20:22] Jb 15:20–35.
f. [20:26] Dt 32:22.
g. [20:29] Jb 27:13.
Job’s Sixth Reply. 1Then Job answered and said:
2At least listen to my words,a
and let that be the consolation you offer.
3Bear with me while I speak;
and after I have spoken, you can mock!
4Is my complaint toward any human being?
Why should I not be impatient?
5Look at me and be appalled,
put your hands over your mouths.
6When I think of it, I am dismayed,
and shuddering seizes my flesh.
7* Why do the wicked keep on living,
grow old, become mighty in power?b
8Their progeny is secure in their sight;
their offspring are before their eyes.
9Their homes are safe, without fear,
and the rod of God is not upon them.
10Their bulls breed without fail;
their cows calve and do not miscarry.
11They let their young run free like sheep,
their children skip about.
12They sing along with drum and lyre,
and make merry to the sound of the pipe.
13They live out their days in prosperity,
and tranquilly go down to Sheol.c
14Yet they say to God, “Depart from us,d
for we have no desire to know your ways!
15What is the Almighty that we should serve him?
And what do we gain by praying to him?”e
16Their happiness is not in their own hands.
The designs of the wicked are far from me!f
17How often is the lamp of the wicked put out?
How often does destruction come upon them,
the portion God allots in his anger?
18Let them be like straw before the wind,
like chaff the storm carries away!
19“God is storing up the man’s misery for his children”?—
let him requite the man himself so that he knows it!
20Let his own eyes behold his calamity,
and the wrath of the Almighty let him drink!
21For what interest has he in his family after him,
when the number of his months is finished?
22Can anyone teach God knowledge,
seeing that he judges those on high?*
23One dies in his full vigor,
wholly at ease and content;
24His figure is full and nourished,
his bones are moist with marrow.
25Another dies with a bitter spirit,
never having tasted happiness.
26Alike they lie down in the dust,
and worms cover them both.
27See, I know your thoughts,
and the arguments you plot against me.
28For you say, “Where is the house of the great,
and where the dwelling place of the wicked?”
29Have you not asked the wayfarers
and do you not acknowledge the witness they give?
30On the day of calamity the evil man is spared,
on the day that wrath is released.
31Who will charge him to his face about his conduct,
and for what he has done who will repay him?
32He is carried to the grave
and at his tomb they keep watch.
33Sweet to him are the clods of the valley.
All humankind will follow after him,
and countless others before him.
34How empty the consolation you offer me!
Your arguments remain a fraud.
* [21:7] In vv. 7–29 Job launches into a realistic description of the fate of the wicked, contrary to the claims made by the friends.
* [21:22] Those on high: the heavenly beings; cf. 1:6; Ps 82:1–8.
a. [21:2] Jb 13:17.
b. [21:7] Jb 12:6; Ps 37:35; 73:3; Eccl 8:14; Jer 12:1–2; Mal 3:14–15.
c. [21:13] Jb 34:20.
d. [21:14] Jb 22:17.
e. [21:15] Mal 3:14.
f. [21:16] Jb 22:18.
Eliphaz’s Third Speech. 1Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:
2Can a man be profitable to God?a
Can a wise man be profitable to him?
3Does it please the Almighty that you are just?b
Does he gain if your ways are perfect?*
4Is it because of your piety that he reproves you—
that he enters into judgment with you?
5Is not your wickedness great,
your iniquity endless?
6You keep your relatives’ goods in pledge unjustly,*
leave them stripped naked of their clothing.c
7To the thirsty you give no water to drink,
and from the hungry you withhold bread;
8As if the land belonged to the powerful,
and only the privileged could dwell in it!
9You sent widows away empty-handed,
and the resources of orphans are destroyed.d
10Therefore snares are round about you,e
sudden terror makes you panic,
11Or darkness—you cannot see!
A deluge of waters covers you.
12Does not God, in the heights of the heavens,f
behold the top of the stars, high though they are?
13Yet you say, “What does God know?g
Can he judge through the thick darkness?
14Clouds hide him so that he cannot see
as he walks around the circuit of the heavens!”
15Do you indeed keep to the ancient way
trodden by the worthless?
16They were snatched before their time;
their foundations a river swept away.
17They said to God, “Let us alone!”
and, “What can the Almighty do to us?”
18Yet he had filled their houses with good things.
The designs of the wicked are far from me!* h
19The just look on and are glad,
and the innocent deride them:* i
20“Truly our enemies are destroyed,
and what was left to them, fire has consumed!”
21Settle with him and have peace.
That way good shall come to you:
22Receive instruction from his mouth,
and place his words in your heart.
23If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored;
if you put iniquity far from your tent,
24And treat raw gold as dust,
the fine gold of Ophir* as pebbles in the wadi,
25Then the Almighty himself shall be your gold
and your sparkling silver.
26For then you shall delight in the Almighty,
you shall lift up your face toward God.
27Entreat him and he will hear you,j
and your vows you shall fulfill.
28What you decide shall succeed for you,
and upon your ways light shall shine.
29For when they are brought low, you will say, “It is pride!”
But downcast eyes he saves.k
30He will deliver whoever is innocent;
you shall be delivered if your hands are clean.l
* [22:1–27:23] The traditional three cycles of speeches breaks down in chaps. 22–27, because Zophar does not appear. This may be interpreted as a sign that the three friends see no point in further dialogue, or that Job’s replies have reduced them to silence, or that there has been a mistake in the transmission of the text (hence various transferrals of verses have been proposed to include Zophar, but without any textual evidence).
* [22:3] Another irony: God will “gain,” because he will have been proved right in his claim to the satan that Job is “perfect.”
* [22:6–9] This criticism of Job by Eliphaz is untrue (cf. 31:19), but he is driven to it by his belief that God always acts justly, even when he causes someone to suffer; suffering is due to wrongdoing (cf. v. 29).
* [22:18] The second part of the verse repeats 21:16.
* [22:19] Them: the wicked. Eliphaz obviously thinks that the just can be pleased by God’s punishment of the wicked. Such pleasure at the downfall of the wicked is expressed elsewhere, e.g., Ps 58:11; 63:12.
* [22:24] Ophir: see note on Ps 45:10.
a. [22:2] Jb 9:2.
b. [22:3] Jb 35:7.
c. [22:6] Jb 24:3; Dt 24:6, 17; Ez 18:12, 16.
d. [22:9] Jb 29:12–13; Dt 24:17; 27:19.
e. [22:10] Jb 18:8–10.
f. [22:12] Jb 11:8.
g. [22:13–14] Ps 10:11; 73:11; 94:7; Is 29:15; Ez 8:12; 9:9.
h. [22:18] Jb 21:16.
i. [22:19] Ps 107:42.
j. [22:27] Jb 33:26.
k. [22:29] Ps 138:6; Prv 29:23; Mt 23:12; Lk 1:52; Jas 4:10; 1 Pt 5:5.
l. [22:30] Jb 17:9; Ps 18:21, 25; 24:4.
Job’s Seventh Reply. 1Then Job answered and said:
2Today especially my complaint is bitter,
his hand is heavy upon me in my groanings.
3Would that I knew how to find him,
that I might come to his dwelling!
4I would set out my case before him,
fill my mouth with arguments;
5I would learn the words he would answer me,
understand what he would say to me.
6Would he contend against me with his great power?
No, he himself would heed me!
7There an upright man might argue with him,
and I would once and for all be delivered from my judge.
8But if I go east, he is not there;*
or west, I cannot perceive him;
9The north enfolds him, and I cannot catch sight of him;
The south hides him, and I cannot see him.
10Yet he knows my way;
if he tested me, I should come forth like gold.a
11My foot has always walked in his steps;
I have kept his way and not turned aside.
12From the commands of his lips I have not departed;
the words of his mouth I have treasured in my heart.
13But once he decides, who can contradict him?
What he desires, that he does.b
14For he will carry out what is appointed for me,
and many such things he has in store.
15Therefore I am terrified before him;
when I take thought, I dread him.
16For it is God who has made my heart faint,
the Almighty who has terrified me.
17Yes, would that I had vanished in darkness,
hidden by the thick gloom before me.
* [23:8] Job’s confident desire to confront God (vv. 2–7, contrary to his fears in 9:14–20 and 13:21–27) gives way to his dark night: God’s absence (vv. 8–9), which also terrifies (vv. 13–17).
a. [23:10] Ps 66:10; Prv 17:3; Mal 3:3; 1 Pt 1:7.
b. [23:13] Jb 42:2; Ps 115:3; 135:6.
1Why are times not set by the Almighty,
and why do his friends not see his days?*
2People remove landmarks;
they steal herds and pasture them.
3The donkeys of orphans they drive away;
they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.
4They force the needy off the road;
all the poor of the land are driven into hiding.
5Like wild donkeys in the wilderness,
they go forth to their task of seeking prey;
the steppe provides food for their young;
6They harvest fodder in the field,
and glean in the vineyard of the wicked.
7They pass the night naked, without clothing;
they have no covering against the cold;
8They are drenched with rain from the mountains,
and for want of shelter they cling to the rock.
9Orphans are snatched from the breast,
infants of the needy are taken in pledge.*
10They go about naked, without clothing,
and famished, they carry the sheaves.*
11Between the rows they press out the oil;
they tread the wine presses, yet are thirsty.
12In the city the dying groan,
and the souls of the wounded cry out.
Yet God does not treat it as a disgrace!
13They are rebels against the light:a
they do not recognize its ways;
they do not stay in its paths.
14When there is no light the murderer rises,
to kill the poor and needy;
in the night he acts like a thief.
15The eye of the adulterer watches for the twilight;b
he says, “No eye will see me.”
He puts a mask over his face;
16in the dark he breaks into houses;
By day they shut themselves in;
they do not know the light.
17Indeed, for all of them morning is deep darkness;
then they recognize the terrors of deep darkness.
18He is swift on the surface of the water:*
their portion in the land is accursed,
they do not turn aside by way of the vineyards.
19Drought and heat snatch away the snow waters,
Sheol, those who have sinned.
20May the womb forget him,
may the worm find him sweet,
may he no longer be remembered;
And may wickedness be broken like a tree.
21May his companion be barren, unable to give birth,
may his widow not prosper!
22He* sustains the mighty by his strength,
to him who rises without assurance of his life
23he gives safety and support,
and his eyes are on their ways.
24They are exalted for a while, and then are no more;
laid low, like everyone else they are gathered up;
like ears of grain they shrivel.
25If this be not so, who can make me a liar,
and reduce my words to nothing?
* [24:1] After his failure to find God, Job takes up the question: Why does God not favor his friends by the speedy punishment of his enemies?
* [24:9] This verse continues the description of the plight of the poor in vv. 2–4, and may belong there.
* [24:10] This verse is a variant of v. 7, and may be an erroneous scribal repetition.
* [24:18–24] These verses are inconsistent with Job’s views elsewhere. Moreover, they are in general poorly preserved, and in some cases obscure.
* [24:22] He: God.
a. [24:13] Jn 3:19–20.
b. [24:15] Prv 7:9–10.
Bildad’s Third Speech. 1* Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said:
2Dominion and dread are his
who brings about harmony in his heavens.
3Is there any numbering of his troops?*
Yet on which of them does his light not rise?
4How can anyone be in the right against God,a
or how can any born of woman be innocent?
5Even the moon is not bright
and the stars are not clean in his eyes.
6How much less a human being, who is but a worm,
a mortal, who is only a maggot?b
* [25:1] At this point any structure in the dialogues disappears. Bildad’s speech is very short, and there follow two speeches attributed to Job, with significantly different introductions in 27:1 and 29:1, and with no intervening third speech of Zophar.
* [25:3] His troops: the heavenly host, or army, the stars (cf. Jgs 5:20), later understood as angels.
a. [25:4] Jb 4:17; 9:2; 35:2.
b. [25:6] Jb 4:19; 15:16.
Job’s Reply. 1Then Job answered and said:*
2What help you give to the powerless,
what strength to the feeble arm!
3How you give counsel to one without wisdom;
how profuse is the advice you offer!
4With whose help have you uttered those words,
whose breath comes forth from you?a
5The shades* beneath writhe in terror,b
the waters, and their inhabitants.
6Naked before him is Sheol,*
and Abaddon has no covering.c
7He stretches out Zaphon* over the void,
and suspends the earth over nothing at all;
8He binds up the waters in his clouds,
yet the cloud is not split by their weight;
9He holds back the appearance of the full moon
by spreading his clouds before it.
10He has marked out a circle* on the surface of the deepd
as the boundary of light and darkness.
11The pillars of the heavens tremble
and are stunned at his thunderous rebuke;e
12By his power he stilled Sea,
by his skill he crushed Rahab;*
13By his wind the heavens were made clear,
his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.* f
14Lo, these are but the outlines of his ways,
and what a whisper of a word we hear of him:
Who can comprehend the thunder of his power?
* [26:1–14] Perhaps to be read as Job’s reply to Bildad’s short speech.
* [26:5] Shades: the dead in Sheol, the nether world; cf. Ps 88:11; Is 26:14.
* [26:6] Sheol: cf. note on Ps 6:6. Abaddon: Hebrew for “(place of) destruction,” a synonym for nether world; cf. Jb 28:22; Rev 9:11.
* [26:7] Zaphon: lit., “the north,” used here as a synonym for the firmament, the heavens; cf. Is 14:13.
* [26:10] Circle: the horizon of the ocean which serves as the boundary for the activity of light and darkness; cf. Prv 8:27.
* [26:12] Rahab: another name for the primeval sea-monster; see notes on Jb 3:8 and Ps 89:11; cf. also Jb 7:12; 9:13.
* [26:13] The fleeing serpent: the same term occurs in Is 27:1 in apposition to Leviathan; see note on Jb 3:8.
a. [26:4] Gn 2:7.
b. [26:5] Prv 9:18.
c. [26:6] Ps 139:7–12.
d. [26:10] Jb 38:8–11; Prv 8:29.
e. [26:11] Jb 9:6; Ps 18:16; 104:7.
f. [26:13] Is 27:1.
Job’s Reply. 1Job took up his theme again and said:
2As God lives,* who takes away my right,a
the Almighty, who has made my life bitter,
3So long as I still have life breath in me,
the breath of God in my nostrils,
4My lips shall not speak falsehood,
nor my tongue utter deceit!
5Far be it from me to account you right;
till I die I will not renounce my innocence.b
6My justice I maintain and I will not relinquish it;
my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.
7* Let my enemy be as the wicked
and my adversary as the unjust!
8For what hope has the impious when he is cut off,
when God requires his life?
9Will God then listen to his cry
when distress comes upon him,
10If he delights in the Almighty
and calls upon God constantly?
11I will teach you what is in God’s hand,
and the way of the Almighty I will not conceal.
12Look, you yourselves have all seen it;
why do you spend yourselves in empty words!
13This is the portion of the wicked with God,
the heritage oppressors receive from the Almighty:c
14Though his children be many, the sword awaits them.
His descendants shall want for bread.
15His survivors shall be buried in death;
their widows shall not weep.
16Though he heap up silver like dust
and store away mounds of clothing,
17What he has stored the righteous shall wear,
and the innocent shall divide the silver.
18He builds his house as of cobwebs,
or like a booth put up by a watchman.
19He lies down a rich man, one last time;
he opens his eyes—nothing is there.d
20Terrors flood over him like water,
at night the tempest carries him off.
21The east wind seizes him and he is gone;
it sweeps him from his place;
22It hurls itself at him without pity,
as he tries to flee from its power.
23It claps its hands at him,
and whistles at him from its place.
* [27:2–6] As God lives…far be it: Job affirms two oaths about his innocence by the very God whom he has accused of violating his right. Such is the paradoxical situation of a tortured person who cannot give the lie to his personal justice, but also refuses to renounce God. He dares God to be “just” as he, Job, understands this.
* [27:7–23] These verses are inconsistent with Job’s views elsewhere, and may be part of a missing speech of Zophar; cf. notes on 24:18–24 and 25:1. Or possibly they are an ironic description of the fate of the three friends.
a. [27:2] Jb 34:5.
b. [27:5] Jb 2:3, 9; 13:15; 33:9.
c. [27:13] Jb 20:4–29.
d. [27:19] Ps 49:18; 76:6.
1There is indeed a mine for silver,*
and a place for refining gold.
2Iron is taken from the earth,
and copper smelted out of stone.
3* He sets a boundary for the darkness;
the farthest confines he explores.
4He breaks open a shaft far from habitation,
unknown to human feet;
suspended, far from people, they sway.
5The earth, though out of it comes forth bread,
is in fiery upheaval underneath.
6Its stones are the source of lapis lazuli,
and there is gold in its dust.
7The path no bird of prey knows,
nor has the hawk’s eye seen it.
8The proud beasts have not trodden it,
nor has the lion gone that way.
9He sets his hand to the flinty rock,
and overturns the mountains at their root.
10He splits channels in the rocks;
his eyes behold all that is precious.
11He dams up the sources of the streams,
and brings hidden things to light.
12As for wisdom—where can she be found?
Where is the place of understanding?a
13Mortals do not know her path,
nor is she to be found in the land of the living.
14The Deep says, “She is not in me”;
and the Sea says, “She is not with me.”
15Solid gold cannot purchase her,
nor can her price be paid with silver.b
16She cannot be bought with gold of Ophir,*
with precious onyx or lapis lazuli,
17Gold or crystal cannot equal her,
nor can golden vessels be exchanged for her.
18Neither coral nor crystal should be thought of;
the value of wisdom surpasses pearls.
19Ethiopian topaz does not equal her,
nor can she be weighed out for pure gold.
20As for wisdom, where does she come from?
Where is the place of understanding?
21She is hidden from the eyes of every living thing;
even from the birds of the air she is concealed.
22Abaddon* and Death say,
“Only by rumor have we heard of her.”
23* But God understands the way to her;c
it is he who knows her place.d
24For he beholds the ends of the earth
and sees all that is under the heavens.
25When he weighed out the wind,
and measured out the waters;
26When he made a rule for the rain
and a path for the thunderbolts,e
27Then he saw wisdom and appraised her,
established her, and searched her out.
28* And to mortals he said:
See: the fear of the Lord is wisdom;
and avoiding evil is understanding.f
* [28:1–28] This chapter contains a beautifully vivid description of that Wisdom which is beyond the attainment of creatures and known only to God. The pronouns referring to Wisdom may be translated as either feminine or neuter; in view of Wisdom’s role as God’s companion and partner in creation (see Prv 8:22–30; Sir 24:1–21; Wis 9:9; Bar 3:9–4:4), the feminine is used here. There is no consensus about the authorship of this poem; it may originally have been an independent composition incorporated into the Book of Job.
* [28:3–4] The subject of the verbs in these verses has no clear antecedent; the context of vv. 2–6 suggests miners. The Hebrew of v. 4 is especially difficult. The general sense of vv. 1–11 is that one can find minerals in the earth; in contrast, where is Wisdom to be found (vv. 12, 20)?
* [28:16] Ophir: cf. note on Ps 45:10.
* [28:22] Abaddon: cf. note on Jb 26:6.
* [28:23–27] In reply to the question of vv. 12, 20, these verses indicate that the creator (vv. 24–26) knows the “place” of wisdom and even “established” her, but the specifics are not given. For further development of this theme, cf. Sir 1:1–10 and Bar 3:9–4:4.
* [28:28] This verse may be a later addition expressing a commonplace of the wisdom tradition; see cross-references. The addition seems to tie the poem in with the description of Job as fearing God and avoiding evil (1:1, 8; 2:3).
a. [28:12] Eccl 7:24–25; Bar 3:14–15, 29–33.
b. [28:15] Prv 3:14; 8:10–11, 19; 16:16; Wis 7:7–11.
c. [28:23–27] Prv 8:22–31.
d. [28:23] Prv 2:6; Sir 1:1; Jas 1:5.
e. [28:26] Jb 38:25; Prv 3:20.
f. [28:28] Ps 111:10; Prv 1:7; 9:10; Sir 1:13–21.
1* Job took up his theme again and said:
2Oh, that I were as in the months past,
as in the days when God watched over me:a
3While he kept his lamp shining above my head,
and by his light I walked through darkness;
4As I was in my flourishing days,
when God sheltered my tent;
5When the Almighty was still with me,
and my children were round about me;
6When my footsteps were bathed in cream,
and the rock flowed with streams of oil.*
7Whenever I went out to the gate of the city
and took my seat in the square,
8The young men saw me and withdrew,
and the elders rose up and stood;
9Officials refrained from speaking
and covered their mouths with their hands;b
10The voice of the princes was silenced,
and their tongues stuck to the roofs of their mouths.
11The ear that heard blessed me;
the eye that saw acclaimed me.
12For I rescued the poor who cried out for help,
the orphans, and the unassisted;
13The blessing of those in extremity came upon me,
and the heart of the widow I made joyful.
14I wore my righteousness like a garment;
justice was my robe and my turban.
15I was eyes to the blind,
and feet to the lame was I.
16I was a father to the poor;
the complaint of the stranger I pursued,
17And I broke the jaws of the wicked man;
from his teeth I forced the prey.
18I said: “In my own nest I shall grow old;
I shall multiply years like the phoenix.*
19My root is spread out to the waters;
the dew rests by night on my branches.
20My glory is fresh within me,
and my bow is renewed in my hand!”
21For me they listened and waited;
they were silent for my counsel.
22Once I spoke, they said no more,
but received my pronouncement drop by drop.
23They waited for me as for the rain;
they drank in my words like the spring rains.
24When I smiled on them they could not believe it;
they would not let the light of my face be dimmed.
25I decided their course and sat at their head,
I lived like a king among the troops,
like one who comforts mourners.
* [29:1] This chapter begins Job’s soliloquy, which will end in 31:40. He describes in florid and exaggerated terms his former lifestyle with all its blessings, a deliberate contrast to his current plight, which will be further described in chap. 30.
* [29:6] Hyperbole to express abundance; see note on 20:17.
* [29:18] Phoenix: a legendary bird which, after several centuries of life, consumed itself in fire, then rose from its ashes in youthful freshness.
a. [29:2] Jb 1:10.
b. [29:9] Wis 8:10–12.
1But now they hold me in derision
who are younger than I,a
Whose fathers I should have disdained
to rank with the dogs of my flock.
2Such strength as they had meant nothing to me;
their vigor had perished.
3In want and emaciating hungerb
they fled to the parched lands:
to the desolate wasteland by night.
4They plucked saltwort* and shrubs;
the roots of the broom plant were their food.
5They were banished from the community,
with an outcry like that against a thief—
6To dwell on the slopes of the wadies,
in caves of sand and stone;
7Among the bushes they brayed;
under the nettles they huddled together.
8Irresponsible, of no account,
they were driven out of the land.
9Yet now they sing of me in mockery;
I have become a byword among them.c
10They abhor me, they stand aloof,
they do not hesitate to spit in my face!
11* Because he has loosened my bowstring and afflicted me,
they have thrown off restraint in my presence.
12On my right the young rabble rise up;
they trip my feet,
they build their approaches for my ruin.
13They tear up my path,
they promote my ruin,
no helper is there against them.
14As through a wide breach they advance;
amid the uproar they come on in waves;
15terrors roll over me.
My dignity is driven off like the wind,
and my well-being vanishes like a cloud.
16And now my life ebbs away from me,
days of affliction have taken hold of me.
17* At night he pierces my bones,
my sinews have no rest.
18With great difficulty I change my clothes,
the collar of my tunic fits around my waist.
19He has cast me into the mire;
I have become like dust and ashes.
20I cry to you, but you do not answer me;d
I stand, but you take no notice.
21You have turned into my tormentor,
and with your strong hand you attack me.
22You raise me up and drive me before the wind;
I am tossed about by the tempest.
23Indeed I know that you will return me to death
to the house destined for everyone alive.e
24Yet should not a hand be held out
to help a wretched person in distress?
25Did I not weep for the hardships of others;
was not my soul grieved for the poor?f
26Yet when I looked for good, evil came;
when I expected light, darkness came.
27My inward parts seethe and will not be stilled;
days of affliction have overtaken me.
28I go about in gloom, without the sun;
I rise in the assembly and cry for help.
29I have become a brother to jackals,
a companion to ostriches.
30My blackened skin falls away from me;
my very frame is scorched by the heat.
31My lyre is tuned to mourning,
and my reed pipe to sounds of weeping.
* [30:4] Saltwort: found in salt marshes and very sour to the taste; eaten by the extremely poor as a cooked vegetable. Broom plant: the juniper or brushwood; cf. Ps 120:4; a figure of bitterness and poverty, because of its bitter-tasting roots which are practically inedible.
* [30:11] God is the subject of the verbs. Loosened my bowstring: i.e., disarmed and disabled me.
* [30:17–23] Job here refers to God’s harsh treatment of him. Cf. 16:9–17; 19:6–12.
a. [30:1] Jb 12:4; 19:18.
b. [30:3–8] Jb 24:5–6.
c. [30:9] Jb 17:6.
d. [30:20] Jb 19:7.
e. [30:23] Heb 9:27.
f. [30:25] Jb 29:12–16.
1I made a covenant with my eyes
not to gaze upon a virgin.
2What portion comes from God above,
what heritage from the Almighty on high?
3Is it not calamity for the unrighteous,
and woe for evildoers?
4Does he not see my ways,
and number all my steps?a
5If I have walked in falsehood*
and my foot has hastened to deceit,
6Let God weigh me in the scales of justice;
thus will he know my innocence!b
7If my steps have turned out of the way,
and my heart has followed my eyes,
or any stain clings to my hands,
8Then may I sow, but another eat,
and may my produce be rooted up!
9If my heart has been enticed toward a woman,
and I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door;
10Then may my wife grind for another,
and may others kneel over her!
11For that would be heinous,
a crime to be condemned,c
12A fire that would consume down to Abaddon*
till it uprooted all my crops.d
13Had I refused justice to my manservant
or to my maidservant, when they had a complaint against me,
14What then should I do when God rises up?
What could I answer when he demands an account?
15Did not he who made me in the belly make him?
Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?
16If I have denied anything that the poor desired,e
or allowed the eyes of the widow to languish
17While I ate my portion alone,
with no share in it for the fatherless,
18Though like a father he* has reared me from my youth,
guiding me even from my mother’s womb—
19If I have seen a wanderer without clothing,
or a poor man without covering,
20Whose limbs have not blessed me
when warmed with the fleece of my sheep;
21If I have raised my hand against the innocent
because I saw that I had supporters at the gate—*
22Then may my arm fall from the shoulder,
my forearm be broken at the elbow!
23For I dread calamity from God,
and his majesty will overpower me.
24Had I put my trust in gold
or called fine gold my security;
25Or had I rejoiced that my wealth was great,
or that my hand had acquired abundance—
26Had I looked upon the light* as it shone,f
or the moon in the splendor of its progress,
27And had my heart been secretly enticed
to blow them a kiss with my hand,
28This too would be a crime for condemnation,
for I should have denied God above.g
29Had I rejoiced at the destruction of my enemy
or exulted when evil came upon him,h
30Even though I had not allowed my mouth to sin
by invoking a curse against his life—
31Had not the men of my tent exclaimed,
“Who has not been filled with his meat!”*
32No stranger lodged in the street,
for I opened my door to wayfarers—
33* Had I, all too human, hidden my sins
and buried my guilt in my bosom
34Because I feared the great multitude
and the scorn of the clans terrified me—
then I should have remained silent, and not come out of doors!
35* Oh, that I had one to hear my case:
here is my signature:* let the Almighty answer me!
Let my accuser write out his indictment!i
36Surely, I should wear it on my shoulder*
or put it on me like a diadem;
37Of all my steps I should give him an account;
like a prince* I should present myself before him.
38If my land has cried out against me
till its furrows wept together;
39If I have eaten its strength without payment
and grieved the hearts of its tenants;
40Then let the thorns grow instead of wheat
and stinkweed instead of barley!
The words of Job are ended.
* [31:5–34] In a series of purificatory oaths, Job protests his innocence.
* [31:12] Abaddon: see note on 26:6.
* [31:18] He: presumably God.
* [31:21] Gate: cf. notes on 5:4; Ru 4:1.
* [31:26–28] Light: of the sun. Job never sinned by worshiping the sun or the moon. Blow them a kiss: an act of idolatrous worship.
* [31:31] The members of his extended family will testify to his hospitality.
* [31:33–34] Job’s present protest is made, not in spite of hidden sins which he had been unwilling to disclose, but out of genuine innocence. All too human: can also be translated “like Adam.”
* [31:35–37] This concluding bravado fits better after v. 40a.
* [31:35] My signature: lit., “tau,” the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, shaped like a cross. Job issues a subpoena to God, and challenges him to follow proper legal procedure as well.
* [31:36] On my shoulder: i.e., boldly, proudly.
* [31:37] Like a prince: not as a frightened criminal.
a. [31:4] Jb 14:16; 34:21; Ps 139:3; Prv 5:21.
b. [31:6] Jb 23:10.
c. [31:11] Ex 20:14; Lv 20:10; Dt 22:22.
d. [31:12] Sir 9:8–9.
e. [31:16–23] Jb 29:12–16.
f. [31:26–27] Dt 4:19.
g. [31:28] Dt 17:2–7.
h. [31:29] Prv 24:17.
i. [31:35] Jb 19:23; 23:3–7.
1Then the three men ceased to answer Job, because in his own eyes he was in the right.a 2b But the anger of Elihu,* son of Barachel the Buzite, of the clan of Ram, was kindled. He was angry with Job for considering himself rather than God to be in the right. 3c He was angry also with the three friends because they had not found a good answer and had not condemned Job. 4But since these men were older than he, Elihu bided his time before addressing Job. 5When, however, Elihu saw that there was no reply in the mouths of the three men, his wrath was inflamed. 6So Elihu, son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said:
I am young and you are very old;
therefore I held back and was afraid
to declare to you my knowledge.
7I thought, days should speak,
and many years teach wisdom!d
8But there is a spirit in human beings,e
the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.
9It is not those of many days who are wise,
nor the aged who understand the right.
10Therefore I say, listen to me;
I also will declare my knowledge!
11Behold, I have waited for your words,
have given ear to your arguments,
as you searched out what to say.
12Yes, I followed you attentively:
And look, none of you has convicted Job,
not one could refute his statements.
13So do not say, “We have met wisdom;*
God can vanquish him but no mortal!”
14For had he addressed his words to me,
I would not then have answered him with your words.
15They are dismayed, they make no more reply;
words fail them.
16Must I wait? Now that they speak no more,
and have ceased to make reply,
17I too will speak my part;
I also will declare my knowledge!
18For I am full of words;
the spirit within me compels me.
19My belly is like unopened wine,
like wineskins ready to burst.
20Let me speak and obtain relief;
let me open my lips, and reply.
21I would not be partial to anyone,
nor give flattering titles to any.
22For I know nothing of flattery;
if I did, my Maker would soon take me away.
* [32:2] Elihu means “My God is he.” This speaker was from Buz, which, according to Jer 25:23, was near Tema and Dedan. A young man, he impetuously and impatiently upbraids Job for his boldness toward God, and the three friends for not successfully answering Job. He undertakes to defend God’s absolute justice and to explain more clearly why there is suffering. While fundamentally his position is the same as that of the three friends, he locates the place of suffering in the divine plan. Because Elihu’s four speeches (32:6–33:33; 34:2–37; 35:2–16; 36:2–37:24) repeat the substance of the earlier arguments of the three friends and also anticipate the content of the divine speeches (chaps. 39–41), many scholars consider them a later addition to the book.
* [32:13] Met wisdom: in Job’s arguments.
a. [32:1] Jb 33:9.
b. [32:2] Jb 13:18; 27:6; 34:5; 35:2.
c. [32:3] Jb 22:5.
d. [32:7] Jb 12:12.
e. [32:8] Jb 33:4.
1Therefore, O Job, hear my discourse;
listen to all my words.
2Behold, now I open my mouth;
my tongue and voice form words.
3I will state directly what is in my mind,
my lips shall speak knowledge clearly;
4For the spirit of God made me,
the breath of the Almighty keeps me alive.a
5If you are able, refute me;
draw up your arguments and take your stand.
6Look, I am like you before God,
I too was pinched from clay.* b
7Therefore fear of me should not dismay you,
nor should I weigh heavily upon you.
8But you have said in my hearing,
as I listened to the sound of your words:
9“I am clean, without transgression;
I am innocent, there is no guilt in me.c
10Yet he invents pretexts against me
and counts me as an enemy.* d
11He puts my feet in the stocks,
watches all my paths!”e
12In this you are not just, let me tell you;
for God is greater than mortals.
13Why, then, do you make complaint against him
that he gives no reply to their words?f
14For God does speak, once,
even twice, though you do not see it:*
15In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls upon mortals
as they slumber in their beds.
16It is then he opens their ears
and with a warning, terrifies them,
17By turning mortals from acting
and keeping pride away from a man,
18He holds his soul from the pit,
his life from passing to the grave.
19Or he is chastened on a bed of pain,
suffering continually in his bones,
20So that to his appetite food is repulsive,
his throat rejects the choicest nourishment.g
21His flesh is wasted, it cannot be seen;
bones, once invisible, appear;
22His soul draws near to the pit,
his life to the place of the dead.
23If then there be a divine messenger,*
a mediator, one out of a thousand,
to show him what is right,
24He will take pity on him and say,
“Deliver him from going down to the pit;
I have found him a ransom.”
25Then his flesh shall become soft as a boy’s;
he shall be again as in the days of his youth.
26He shall pray and God will favor him;
he shall see God’s face with rejoicing;h
for he restores a person’s righteousness.
27He shall sing before all and say,
“I sinned and did wrong,
yet I was not punished accordingly.
28He delivered me from passing to the pit,
and my life sees light.”
29See, all these things God does,
two, even three times, for a man,
30Bringing back his soul from the pit
to the light, in the light of the living.
31Be attentive, Job, listen to me!
Be silent and I will speak.
32If you have anything to say, then answer me.
Speak out! I should like to see you justified.
33If not, then you listen to me;
be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.
* [33:6] Pinched from clay: a reference to the tradition that human beings were made from clay; cf. Gn 2:7; Jb 10:9; Is 64:7.
* [33:10] Enemy: see note on 1:1; cf. 13:24.
* [33:14] Elihu asserts that God speaks through warning in dream and also through pain. However, his presupposition is that the restored person admits sinfulness (v. 27). This of course is not relevant to Job’s situation.
* [33:23] Divine messenger: or “angel,” one of the thousands who serve as mediators.
a. [33:4] Jb 32:8.
b. [33:6] Jb 31:15.
c. [33:9] Jb 10:7; 13:18; 27:5–6; 29:14; 32:1; 34:5.
d. [33:10] Jb 13:24; 19:11.
e. [33:11] Jb 13:27; 31:4.
f. [33:13] Jb 31:35.
g. [33:20] Jb 6:7.
h. [33:26] Jb 22:26–29.
1Then Elihu answered and said:*
2Hear my discourse, you that are wise;
you that have knowledge, listen to me!
3For the ear tests words,
as the palate tastes food.a
4Let us choose what is right;
let us determine among ourselves what is good.
5For Job has said, “I am innocent,
but God has taken away what is my right.b
6I declare the judgment on me to be a lie;
my arrow-wound is incurable, sinless though I am.”c
7What man is like Job?
He drinks in blasphemies like water,
8Keeps company with evildoers
and goes along with the wicked,
9When he says, “There is no profit
in pleasing God.”d
10Therefore, you that have understanding, hear me:
far be it from God to do wickedness;
far from the Almighty to do wrong!e
11Rather, he requites mortals for their conduct,
and brings home to them their way of life.f
12Surely, God cannot act wickedly,
the Almighty cannot pervert justice.g
13Who gave him charge over the earth,
or who set all the world in its place?h
14If he were to set his mind to it,
gather to himself his spirit and breath,
15All flesh would perish together,
and mortals return to dust.i
16Now you*—understand, hear this!
Listen to the words I speak!
17Can an enemy of justice be in control,
will you condemn the supreme Just One,
18Who says to a king, “You are worthless!”
and to nobles, “You are wicked!”
19Who neither favors the person of princes,
nor respects the rich more than the poor?
For they are all the work of his hands;j
20in a moment they die, even at midnight.k
People are shaken, and pass away,
the powerful are removed without lifting a hand;
21For his eyes are upon our ways,
and all our steps he sees.
22There is no darkness so dense
that evildoers can hide in it.
23For no one has God set a time
to come before him in judgment.
24Without inquiry he shatters the mighty,l
and appoints others in their place,
25Thus he discerns their works;
overnight they are crushed.
26* Where the wicked are, he strikes them,
in a place where all can see,
27Because they turned away from him
and did not understand his ways at all:
28And made the cry of the poor reach him,
so that he heard the cry of the afflicted.
29If he is silent, who then can condemn?
If he hides his face, who then can behold him,
whether nation or individual?
30Let an impious man not rule,
nor those who ensnare their people.
31Should anyone say to God,
“I accept my punishment; I will offend no more;
32What I cannot see, teach me:
if I have done wrong, I will do so no more,”
33Would you then say that God must punish,
when you are disdainful?
It is you who must choose, not I;
speak, therefore, what you know.
34Those who understand will say to me,
all the wise who hear my views:
35“Job speaks without knowledge,
his words make no sense.m
36Let Job be tested to the limit,
since his answers are those of the impious;
37For he is adding rebellion to his sin
by brushing off our arguments
and addressing many words to God.”
* [34:1] Elihu replies, although no one else has spoken. This connective phrase (see also 35:1 and 36:1) may indicate that these speeches of Elihu are a secondary addition to the book (see note on 32:2).
* [34:16] Now you: Elihu turns to Job and addresses him directly.
* [34:26, 29–30] The extant Hebrew text of these verses is obscure.
a. [34:3] Jb 12:11.
b. [34:5] Jb 33:9–10.
c. [34:6] Jb 9:20.
d. [34:9] Jb 9:22–23, 30–31; 21:15; 35:3.
e. [34:10] Jb 36:23.
f. [34:11] Ps 62:13; Prv 24:12; Mt 16:27; Rom 2:6; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 22:12.
g. [34:12] Jb 8:3.
h. [34:13] Jb 38:4–7.
i. [34:15] Jb 10:9.
j. [34:19] Dt 10:17; 2 Chr 19:7; Wis 6:7; Acts 10:34; Rom 2:11; Eph 6:9; Col 3:25; 1 Pt 1:17.
k. [34:20] Jb 21:13.
l. [34:24] Ps 2:9.
m. [34:35] Jb 35:16; 38:2; 42:3.
1* Then Elihu answered and said:
2Do you think it right to say,
“I am in the right, not God”?a
3When you ask what it profits you,
“What advantage do I have from not sinning?”b
4I have words for a reply to you*
and your friends as well.
5Look up to the skies and see;
behold the heavens high above you.
6If you sin, what do you do to God?
Even if your offenses are many, how do you affect him?
7If you are righteous, what do you give him,
or what does he receive from your hand?c
8Your wickedness affects only someone like yourself,
and your justice, only a fellow human being.
9In great oppression people cry out;
they call for help because of the power of the great,
10No one says, “Where is God, my Maker,
who gives songs in the night,
11Teaches us more than the beasts of the earth,
and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?”
12Though thus they cry out, he does not answer
because of the pride of the wicked.
13But it is idle to say God does not hear
or that the Almighty does not take notice.
14Even though you say, “You take no notice of it,”*
the case is before him; with trembling wait upon him.
15But now that you have done otherwise, God’s anger punishes,
nor does he show much concern over a life.
16Yet Job to no purpose opens his mouth,
multiplying words without knowledge.d
* [35:1] See note on 34:1.
* [35:4] A reply to you: Elihu refers to Job’s statement that the innocent suffer as much as the wicked, and especially to Eliphaz’s words in 22:2–3.
* [35:14–15] The text here is uncertain. It seems to indicate that Job should have realized God’s indifference is only apparent, and that, because he has not done so, God will punish him.
a. [35:2] Jb 32:2.
b. [35:3] Jb 34:9.
c. [35:7] Jb 22:3; 41:2; Lk 17:10; Rom 11:35.
d. [35:16] Jb 34:35; 38:2; 42:3.
1Elihu continued and said:
2Wait a little and I will instruct you,
for there are still words to be said for God.
3I will assemble arguments from afar,
and for my maker I will establish what is right.
4For indeed, my words are not a lie;
one perfect in knowledge is before you.
5Look, God is great, not disdainful;
his strength of purpose is great.
He does not preserve the life of the wicked.
6He establishes the right of the poor;a
he does not divert his eyes from the just
7But he seats them upon thrones
with kings, exalted forever.b
8If they are bound with fetters,
held fast by bonds of affliction,
9He lets them know what they have done,
and how arrogant are their sins.
10He opens their ears to correction
and tells them to turn back from evil.
11If they listen and serve him,
they spend their days in prosperity,
their years in happiness.
12But if they do not listen, they pass to the grave,
they perish for lack of knowledge.
13The impious in heart lay up anger;
they do not cry for help when he binds them;
14They will die young—
their life* among the reprobate.
15But he saves the afflicted through their affliction,
and opens their ears through oppression.
16* He entices you from distress,
to a broad place without constraint;
what rests on your table is rich food.
17Though you are full of the judgment of the wicked,
judgment and justice will be maintained.
18Let not anger at abundance entice you,
nor great bribery lead you astray.
19Will your wealth equip you against distress,
or all your exertions of strength?
20Do not long for the night,
when peoples vanish in their place.
21Be careful; do not turn to evil;
for this you have preferred to affliction.
22* Look, God is exalted in his power.
What teacher is there like him?
23Who prescribes for him his way?
Who says, “You have done wrong”?c
24Remember, you should extol his work,
which people have praised in song.
25All humankind beholds it;
everyone views it from afar.
26See, God is great beyond our knowledge,
the number of his years past searching out.
27He holds in check the waterdrops
that filter in rain from his flood,
28Till the clouds flow with them
and they rain down on all humankind.
29* Can anyone understand the spreading clouds,
the thunderings from his tent?
30Look, he spreads his light over it,
it covers the roots of the sea.
31For by these he judges the nations,
and gives food in abundance.
32In his hands he holds the lightning,
and he commands it to strike the mark.
33His thunder announces him
and incites the fury of the storm.
* [36:14] Life: a miserable life before death or a shadowy existence in Sheol. Reprobate: cf. Dt 23:18–19.
* [36:16–20] The Hebrew text here is obscure. Although each verse makes some sense, they do not constitute a logical sequence.
* [36:22–25] These verses serve as an introduction to the hymn about the divine marvels, 36:26–37:24, which in some respects anticipates the tone and content of the Lord’s speeches in chaps. 38–41.
* [36:29–31] The translation of these verses is uncertain.
a. [36:6] Ps 72:4, 12–13.
b. [36:7] Ps 113:7–8.
c. [36:23] Jb 34:10; Is 40:13.
1At this my heart trembles
and leaps out of its place.
2Listen to his angry voice*
and the rumble that comes forth from his mouth!
3Everywhere under the heavens he sends it,
with his light, to the ends of the earth.
4Again his voice roars,
his majestic voice thunders;
he does not restrain them when his voice is heard.
5God thunders forth marvels with his voice;
he does great things beyond our knowing.
6He says to the snow, “Fall to the earth”;
likewise to his heavy, drenching rain.
7He shuts up all humankind indoors,
so that all people may know his work.
8The wild beasts take to cover
and remain quiet in their dens.
9Out of its chamber the tempest comes forth;
from the north winds, the cold.
10With his breath God brings the frost,
and the broad waters congeal.a
11The clouds too are laden with moisture,
the storm-cloud scatters its light.
12* He it is who changes their rounds, according to his plans,
to do all that he commands them
across the inhabited world.
13Whether for punishment or mercy,
he makes it happen.
14Listen to this, Job!
Stand and consider the marvels of God!
15Do you know how God lays his command upon them,
and makes the light shine forth from his clouds?
16Do you know how the clouds are banked,
the marvels of him who is perfect in knowledge?
17You, who swelter in your clothes
when calm lies over the land from the south,
18Can you with him spread out the firmament of the skies,
hard as a molten mirror?*
19Teach us then what we shall say to him;
we cannot, for the darkness, make our plea.
20Will he be told about it when I speak?
Can anyone talk when he is being destroyed?
21Rather, it is as the light that cannot be seen
while it is obscured by the clouds,
till the wind comes by and sweeps them away.*
22From Zaphon* the golden splendor comes,
surrounding God’s awesome majesty!
23The Almighty! We cannot find him,
preeminent in power and judgment,
abundant in justice, who never oppresses.
24Therefore people fear him;
none can see him, however wise their hearts.*
* [37:2] Voice: the thunder.
* [37:12–13] The translation of these verses is uncertain.
* [37:18] The firmament…mirror: the ancients thought of the sky as a ceiling above which were the “upper waters” (cf. Gn 1:6–7; 7:11); when this ceiling became as hard as metal, the usual rain failed to fall on the earth (cf. Lv 26:19; Dt 28:23).
* [37:21] Elihu argues that even though God seems not to know our circumstances, he does know them, just as surely as the sun shines behind the clouds.
* [37:22] Zaphon: the mythical mountain of the gods; cf. note on 26:7.
* [37:24] The concluding remark of Elihu is ironic in view of the appearance of the Lord in the next chapter and Job’s claim in 42:5.
a. [37:10] Ps 147:17.
1Then the LORD* answered Job out of the storm and said:
2Who is this who darkens counsel
with words of ignorance?
3Gird up your loins* now, like a man;
I will question you, and you tell me the answers!a
4Where were you when I founded the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5Who determined its size? Surely you know?
Who stretched out the measuring line for it?
6Into what were its pedestals sunk,
and who laid its cornerstone,
7While the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God* shouted for joy?
8Who shut within doors the sea,
when it burst forth from the womb,b
9When I made the clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling bands?
10When I set limits for it
and fastened the bar of its door,
11And said: Thus far shall you come but no farther,
and here shall your proud waves stop?
12Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning
and shown the dawn its place
13For taking hold of the ends of the earth,
till the wicked are shaken from it?
14The earth is changed as clay by the seal,
and dyed like a garment;
15But from the wicked their light is withheld,
and the arm of pride is shattered.
16Have you entered into the sources of the sea,
or walked about on the bottom of the deep?
17Have the gates of death been shown to you,
or have you seen the gates of darkness?
18Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?
Tell me, if you know it all.
19What is the way to the dwelling of light,
and darkness—where is its place?
20That you may take it to its territory
and know the paths to its home?
21You know, because you were born then,
and the number of your days is great!*
22Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
and seen the storehouses of the hail
23Which I have reserved for times of distress,
for a day of war and battle?c
24What is the way to the parting of the winds,
where the east wind spreads over the earth?
25Who has laid out a channel for the downpour
and a path for the thunderstorm
26To bring rain to uninhabited land,
the unpeopled wilderness;
27To drench the desolate wasteland
till the desert blooms with verdure?
28Has the rain a father?
Who has begotten the drops of dew?
29Out of whose womb comes the ice,
and who gives the hoarfrost its birth in the skies,
30When the waters lie covered as though with stone
that holds captive the surface of the deep?
31Have you tied cords to the Pleiades,*
or loosened the bonds of Orion?
32Can you bring forth the Mazzaroth in their season,
or guide the Bear with her children?
33Do you know the ordinances of the heavens;
can you put into effect their plan on the earth?
34Can you raise your voice to the clouds,
for them to cover you with a deluge of waters?
35Can you send forth the lightnings on their way,
so that they say to you, “Here we are”?
36Who gives wisdom to the ibis,
and gives the rooster* understanding?
37Who counts the clouds with wisdom?
Who tilts the water jars of heaven
38So that the dust of earth is fused into a mass
and its clods stick together?
39Do you hunt the prey for the lion
or appease the hunger of young lions,
40While they crouch in their dens,
or lie in ambush in the thicket?
41Who provides nourishment for the raven
when its young cry out to God,d
wandering about without food?
* [38:1] Now the Lord enters the debate and addresses two discourses (chaps. 38–39 and 40–41) to Job, speaking of divine wisdom and power. Such things are altogether beyond the capacity of Job. Out of the storm: frequently the background of the appearances of the Lord in the Old Testament; cf. Ps 18; 50; Na 1:3; Hb 3:2–15.
* [38:3] Gird up your loins: prepare for combat—figuratively, be ready to defend yourself in debate.
* [38:7] Sons of God: see note on 1:6.
* [38:21] Ironic, but not a harsh rebuke.
* [38:31–32] Pleiades…Orion…Bear: cf. 9:9. Mazzaroth: it is uncertain what astronomical group is meant by this Hebrew word; perhaps a southern constellation.
* [38:36] Ibis…rooster: the translation is uncertain.
a. [38:3] Jb 40:2.
b. [38:8] Gn 1:9.
c. [38:23] Jos 10:11; Sir 46:5.
d. [38:41] Ps 147:9.
1Do you know when mountain goats are born,
or watch for the birth pangs of deer,
2Number the months that they must fulfill,
or know when they give birth,
3When they crouch down and drop their young,
when they deliver their progeny?
4Their offspring thrive and grow in the open,
they leave and do not return.
5Who has given the wild donkey his freedom,
and who has loosed the wild ass from bonds?
6I have made the wilderness his home
and the salt flats his dwelling.
7He scoffs at the uproar of the city,
hears no shouts of a driver.
8He ranges the mountains for pasture,
and seeks out every patch of green.
9Will the wild ox consent to serve you,
or pass the nights at your manger?
10Will you bind the wild ox with a rope in the furrow,
and will he plow the valleys after you?
11Will you depend on him for his great strength
and leave to him the fruits of your toil?
12Can you rely on him to bring in your grain
and gather in the yield of your threshing floor?
13The wings of the ostrich* flap away;
her plumage is lacking in feathers.
14When she abandons her eggs on the ground*
and lets them warm in the sand,
15She forgets that a foot may crush them,
that the wild beasts may trample them;
16She cruelly disowns her young
and her labor is useless; she has no fear.
17For God has withheld wisdom from her
and given her no share in understanding.
18Yet when she spreads her wings high,
she laughs at a horse and rider.
19Do you give the horse his strength,*
and clothe his neck with a mane?
20Do you make him quiver like a locust,
while his thunderous snorting spreads terror?
21He paws the valley, he rejoices in his strength,
and charges into battle.
22He laughs at fear and cannot be terrified;
he does not retreat from the sword.
23Around him rattles the quiver,
flashes the spear and the javelin.
24Frenzied and trembling he devours the ground;
he does not hold back at the sound of the trumpet;
25at the trumpet’s call he cries, “Aha!”
Even from afar he scents the battle,
the roar of the officers and the shouting.
26Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars,
that he spreads his wings toward the south?
27Does the eagle fly up at your command
to build his nest up high?
28On a cliff he dwells and spends the night,
on the spur of cliff or fortress.
29From there he watches for his food;
his eyes behold it afar off.
30His young ones greedily drink blood;
where the slain are, there is he.a
* [39:13] The wings of the ostrich cannot raise her from the ground, but they help her to run swiftly.
* [39:14–16] People thought that, because the ostrich laid her eggs on the sand, she was thereby cruelly abandoning them; cf. Lam 4:3.
* [39:19–25] A classic description of a war horse.
a. [39:30] Mt 24:28; Lk 17:37.
1The LORD then answered Job and said:
2Will one who argues with the Almighty be corrected?
Let him who would instruct God give answer!a
3Then Job answered the LORD and said:
4* Look, I am of little account; what can I answer you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
5I have spoken once, I will not reply;
twice, but I will do so no more.
6Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm and said:
7Gird up your loins now, like a man.
I will question you, and you tell me the answers!
8* Would you refuse to acknowledge my right?
Would you condemn me that you may be justified?
9Have you an arm like that of God,
or can you thunder with a voice like his?
10Adorn yourself with grandeur and majesty,
and clothe yourself with glory and splendor.
11Let loose the fury of your wrath;
look at everyone who is proud and bring them down.
12Look at everyone who is proud, and humble them.
Tear down the wicked in their place,
13bury them in the dust together;
in the hidden world imprison them.
14Then will I too praise you,
for your own right hand can save you.
15Look at Behemoth,* whom I made along with you,
who feeds on grass like an ox.
16See the strength in his loins,
the power in the sinews of his belly.
17He carries his tail like a cedar;
the sinews of his thighs are like cables.
18His bones are like tubes of bronze;
his limbs are like iron rods.
19He is the first of God’s ways,
only his maker can approach him with a sword.
20For the mountains bring him produce,
and all wild animals make sport there.
21Under lotus trees he lies,
in coverts of the reedy swamp.
22The lotus trees cover him with their shade;
all about him are the poplars in the wadi.
23If the river grows violent, he is not disturbed;
he is tranquil though the Jordan surges about his mouth.
24Who can capture him by his eyes,
or pierce his nose* with a trap?
25Can you lead Leviathan* about with a hook,
or tie down his tongue with a rope?
26Can you put a ring into his nose,
or pierce through his cheek with a gaff?
27Will he then plead with you, time after time,
or address you with tender words?
28Will he make a covenant with you
that you may have him as a slave forever?
29Can you play with him, as with a bird?
Can you tie him up for your little girls?
30Will the traders bargain for him?
Will the merchants* divide him up?
31Can you fill his hide with barbs,
or his head with fish spears?
32Once you but lay a hand upon him,
no need to recall any other conflict!
* [40:4–5] Job’s first reaction is humble, but also seemingly cautious.
* [40:8–14] The issue is joined in these verses, and the Lord seems to challenge Job to play God and to bring down the proud and wicked.
* [40:15] Behemoth: a primeval monster of chaos; identified by some scholars as the hippopotamus, on which the description of Behemoth is partially based. The point of the Behemoth-Leviathan passages is that only the Lord, not Job, can control the cosmic evil which these forces symbolize.
* [40:24] Eyes…nose: the only exposed parts of the submerged beast.
* [40:25] Leviathan: although identified by some scholars as the crocodile, it is more likely another chaos monster; see note on 3:8.
* [40:30] Merchants: lit., “Canaanites,” whose reputation for trading was so widespread that their name came to be used for merchants; cf. Prv 31:24.
a. [40:2] Jb 38:3.
1Whoever might vainly hope to do so
need only see him to be overthrown.
2No one is fierce enough to arouse him;
who then dares stand before me?
3Whoever has assailed me, I will pay back—
Everything under the heavens is mine.
4I need hardly mention his limbs,
his strength, and the fitness of his equipment.
5Who can strip off his outer garment,
or penetrate his double armor?
6Who can force open the doors of his face,
close to his terrible teeth?
7Rows of scales are on his back,
tightly sealed together;
8They are fitted so close to each other
that no air can come between them;
9So joined to one another
that they hold fast and cannot be parted.
10When he sneezes, light flashes forth;
his eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn.
11Out of his mouth go forth torches;
sparks of fire leap forth.
12From his nostrils comes smoke
as from a seething pot or bowl.
13His breath sets coals afire;
a flame comes from his mouth.
14Strength abides in his neck,
and power leaps before him.
15The folds of his flesh stick together,
it is cast over him and immovable.
16His heart is cast as hard as stone;
cast as the lower millstone.
17When he rises up, the gods are afraid;
when he crashes down, they fall back.
18Should a sword reach him, it will not avail;
nor will spear, dart, or javelin.
19He regards iron as chaff,
and bronze as rotten wood.
20No arrow will put him to flight;
slingstones used against him are but straw.
21Clubs he regards as straw;
he laughs at the crash of the spear.
22Under him are sharp pottery fragments,
spreading a threshing sledge upon the mire.
23He makes the depths boil like a pot;
he makes the sea like a perfume bottle.
24Behind him he leaves a shining path;
you would think the deep had white hair.
25Upon the earth there is none like him,
he was made fearless.
26He looks over all who are haughty,
he is king over all proud beasts.
1Then Job answered the LORD and said:
2I know that you can do all things,*
and that no purpose of yours can be hindered.
3“Who is this who obscures counsel with ignorance?”
I have spoken but did not understand;
things too marvelous for me, which I did not know.a
4“Listen, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you tell me the answers.”
5By hearsay I had heard of you,
but now my eye has seen you.*
6Therefore I disown what I have said,
and repent in dust and ashes.*
Job’s Restoration. 7And after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My anger blazes against you and your two friends!* You have not spoken rightly concerning me, as has my servant Job. 8So now take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves, and let my servant Job pray for you.* To him I will show favor, and not punish your folly, for you have not spoken rightly concerning me, as has my servant Job.” 9Then Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, went and did as the LORD had commanded them. The LORD showed favor to Job.
10The LORD also restored the prosperity of Job, after he had prayed for his friends; the LORD even gave to Job twice* as much as he had before. 11Then all his brothers and sisters came to him, and all his former acquaintances, and they dined with him in his house. They consoled and comforted him for all the evil the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of money* and a gold ring.
12b Thus the LORD blessed the later days of Job more than his earlier ones. Now he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-donkeys. 13He also had seven sons and three daughters: 14the first daughter he called Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch.* 15In all the land no other women were as beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance* among their brothers.
16After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; and he saw his children, his grandchildren, and even his great-grandchildren.c 17Then Job died, old and full of years.
* [42:2–4] In his final speech, Job quotes God’s own words (see 38:2–3; 40:7).
* [42:5] In 19:25–27 Job had affirmed a hope to “see” (three times) his vindicator. Now he has seen the Lord about whom he had heard so much.
* [42:6] A difficult verse. Some doubt, in view of God’s commendation in v. 7, that Job does in fact express repentance, and alternative translations are often given. Along with v. 5, it describes a change in Job, which the encounter with the Lord has brought about. Dust and ashes: an ambiguous phrase. It can refer to the human condition (cf. Gn 18:27; Jb 30:19) or to Job’s ash heap (2:8).
* [42:7] The three friends of Job (Elihu is ignored in the epilogue) are criticized by the Lord because they had “not spoken rightly” (vv. 7–8).
* [42:8] An ironic touch: Job becomes the intercessor for his friends.
* [42:10] Twice: this is the fine for damage inflicted upon another; cf. Ex 22:3. The Lord pays up!
* [42:11] A piece of money: lit., qesitah, value unknown; also used in Gn 33:19; Jos 24:32. Gold ring: for the nose or ear.
* [42:14] Job’s daughters had names symbolic of their charms: Jemimah, dove; Keziah, precious perfume (cf. Ps 45:9); Keren-happuch, cosmetic jar—more precisely, a container for a black powder used like modern mascara.
* [42:15] Ordinarily daughters did not inherit property unless there were no sons; cf. Nm 27:1–11.
a. [42:3] Jb 34:35; 35:16; 38:2; Ps 131:1; Prv 30:18.
b. [42:12] Jb 1:3.
c. [42:16] Jb 5:25–26.