The Book of Job is much more than a “story.” It deals in depth with the major questions of the human condition. The misfortunes of Job—after having been abundantly blessed all his life, he is reduced to utmost misery—are merely a pretext to have us reflect on this reality: human life on earth is not satisfying. Suffering and death would not be so dark if it were not for this malaise or scandal that comes from the absence of God in our world.
Job only needs to contemplate nature to believe in God and divine providence. However, his misfortunes bring him to reconsider the concept he had of a tacit agreement between the just man, himself and the just God.
Job accuses and cries out to God with all the force of his thwarted hope and, in the end, God will have to intervene.
The Book of Job
The starting point of this book is a popular tale found in the first and last pages (1:1–2:13 and 42:10-17): the story of the holy man Job. Yahweh had tested him by taking everything away from him but in spite of that, Job remained faithful. In the end, God gave everything back to him.
The moral was somewhat simplistic. Then, an unknown author wrote the poems of chapters 3–41. There, a very different Job from the first one accuses the human condition and his three friends confront him with the answers of traditional wisdom.
These chapters constitute the most sizable collection of sapiential literature in the Bible. It may be helpful to recall that this new section presents a view of life that is very different from the view proposed in the books of the Law and the prophetic books. These were mostly interested in the history of Israel, the ups and downs of the Sinai Covenant that had transformed Israel into a people set apart and the bearer of a universal mission.
On the other hand, here the history and vocation of Israel are forgotten (seemingly, at least). The author has returned to what constitutes the lives of all humans, whatever their countries or religions may be. Human beings are before their destiny with no other revelation than what nature is telling them in a thousand ways, what the tradition of their ancestors has handed down to them and has interpreted for them. Human beings are not in a world without God. On the contrary, they see God’s presence everywhere. Yet, they are first conditioned by their material existence and the fact that so many people live in inhuman conditions raises questions about God’s honesty and the way God treats human beings.
Job’s discourses are strongly marked by the culture of his time. Above all, he insists on being known as a just man: honor and shame are decisive criteria for tribes. Hence, the need to appeal to an arbitrator or a tribunal to clear his good name when his misfortunes have made him look guilty. The book is going to show that there is no answer: God’s intervention in chapters 38–42 moves in a different direction from the conclusion in 42:10-17. We remain with our malaise and we will not be healed before we see God.
The Traditional Figure of Job
•1Job, a blameless and upright man who feared God and shunned evil, once lived in the land of Uz. 2He had seven sons and three daughters. 3Owner of seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys and a large number of servants, he was considered the greatest man among the people of the East.
4His sons used to take turns holding banquets in their homes and they would invite their three sisters to dine and drink with them. 5After each series of banquets, Job would send for his sons and daughters and have them purified. He would rise early in the morning, offer a holocaust for each of his children, thinking, “Perhaps they have sinned and blasphemed God in their hearts.” This had been quite a routine for Job.
6One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before Yahweh, and Satan came with them. 7Yahweh asked Satan, “Where have you been?”
Satan answered, “Going up and down the earth, roaming about.”
8Yahweh asked again, “Have you noticed my servant Job? No one on earth is as blameless and upright as he, a man who fears God and avoids evil.”
9But Satan returned the question, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10Have you not built a protective wall around him and his family and all his possessions? You have blessed and prospered him, with his livestock all over the land. 11But stretch out your hand and strike where his riches are, and I bet he will curse you to your face.”
12Yahweh said to Satan, “Very well, all that he has is in your power. But do not lay a finger upon the man himself.” So Satan left the presence of Yahweh.
13One day, while his sons and daughters were feasting in the house of their eldest brother, 14a messenger came to Job and said, “Your oxen were plowing, and your donkeys were grazing nearby 15when the Sabaeans came and carried them off. They killed the herdsmen. I alone escaped to tell you.”
16While he was still speaking, another messenger came, “God’s fire fell from the sky and burned all your sheep and the shepherds as well. I alone have escaped to tell you.”
17He had hardly finished speaking when another messenger arrived, “Three raiding teams of Chaldeans have killed your servants and carried off your camels. I alone have escaped to tell you.”
18He was still speaking when another messenger came and said to Job, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking in the house of their eldest brother 19when suddenly a great wind blew across the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they all died. I alone have escaped to tell you.”
20In grief Job tore his clothes and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshiped, 21saying,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
naked shall I return.
Yahweh gave, Yahweh has taken away.
Blessed be his name!”
22In spite of this calamity, Job did not sin by blaspheming God.
1Once more the heavenly beings came to present themselves before Yahweh, and again Satan was with them. 2Yahweh asked Satan, “Where have you been?”
Satan answered, “Going up and down the earth, roaming about.”
3Yahweh asked again, “Have you noticed my servant Job? No one on earth is as blameless and upright as he, a man who fears God and avoids evil. He still holds fast to his integrity even if you provoked me to ruin him without cause.”
4Satan replied, “Skin for skin! For his own life, anyone will give everything he owns. 5But lay your hand against his own flesh and bones and he will curse you to your face.”
6Yahweh said to Satan, “Very well, he is in your power. But spare his life.”
7So Satan left the presence of Yahweh and afflicted Job with festering sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. 8Job took a potsherd to scrape himself and sat among the ashes.
9His wife said to him, “Do you still hold on to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
10Job replied, “You talk foolishly. If we receive good things from God, why can’t we accept evil from him?” In spite of this calamity, Job did not utter a sinful word.
the Poems of Job begin here
•11Three of Job’s friends—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite—heard of the misfortune that came upon him. They set out from their own homes and journeyed together to offer their sympathy and consolation to Job. 12Failing to recognize him from the distance, they wept aloud, tore their garments and poured dust upon their heads. 13For seven days and seven nights, they sat on the ground beside him. They did not say a word to Job, for they saw how terribly he suffered.
May that day perish when I was born
•1At length it was Job who spoke, cursing the day of his birth. 2 This is what he said:
3Cursed be the day I was born,
and the night which whispered:
A boy has been conceived.
4May that day be dark,
may God on high ignore it.
May no light shine upon it.
5May the shadow of death claim it as its own.
May a cloud settle over it;
may blackness obstruct its light.
6Let darkness swallow that night
let it not add to the rest of the year
let it not be included in the month.
7That night—oh, let it be barren,
untouched by shouts of joy.
8Let it be cursed by those who hate the light,
sorcerers who call on the Devil.
9Let its morning stars no longer shine;
let it wait for light in vain
and never see the first rays of dawn,
10since it did not close the womb
to keep my eyes from seeing doom.
11Why didn’t I die at birth,
or come from the womb without breath?
12Why the knees that received me,
why the breasts that suckled me?
13For then I should have lain down
asleep and been at rest
14with kings and rulers of the earth
who built for themselves lonely tombs;
15or with princes who had gold to spare
and houses stuffed with silver.
16Why was I not stillborn,
like others who did not see the light of morn?
17There the trouble of the wicked ceases,
there the weary find repose.
18There the prisoners are at ease;
they no longer hear the taskmaster’s voice.
19Great and small fare equally there,
where the slave is free from his master.
20Why is light given to the miserable,
and life to the embittered?
21To those who long for death
more than for hidden treasure?
22They rejoice at the sight of their end,
they are happy upon reaching the grave.
23Why give light to a man whose path has vanished,
whose ways God blocks at every side?
24Instead of bread I feed on sighs.
My groans are like water poured out.
25For what I fear has come upon me,
what I dread has befallen me.
26I find no rest, I find no ease;
only turmoil, nothing of peace!
No one is just before God
•1Eliphaz the Temanite spoke next:
2Shall we speak? Do you mind?
For who could remain silent?
3Remember how you have taught many others,
how you have strengthened their feeble hands.
4Your words have supported those who wavered,
have steadied the knees that faltered.
5But when your turn has come, you are discouraged;
as soon as you are struck, you are dismayed.
6Should you not rely on your piety,
and find assurance in your integrity?
7Have you seen a guiltless man perish,
or an upright man done away with?
8As I see it, those who plow evil
or those who sow trouble reap the same.
9By the breath of God they are swept away;
by the blast of his wrath they are destroyed.
10The lion may roar and growl; it will fall,
the teeth of its cubs will be broken.
11The lion will die for lack of prey,
and the whelps of its mate will stray.
12I had a secret revelation;
a whisper of it reached my ear.
13Amid thoughts from night visions,
when people are heavily wrapped in slumber,
14I was seized with fear and trembling
that shook me to my very bones.
15A spirit passed over my face,
and the hair of my body stood on end.
16It stopped and stood before my eyes,
but I could not make out what it was.
Silence… and then—a voice was heard:
17“Can a mortal be just in the eyes of God?
Can a man be pure before his Maker?
18If God can put no trust in his servants,
if he can charge his angels with error,
19how much more those who live in houses of clay,
whose foundation is in the dust,
who are crushed as easily as moths!
20Between dawn and dusk they perish,
and unheeded, vanish forever.
21Their tent has been unpegged
and they died without knowing why.
3I have seen a fool taking root when suddenly his household collapsed.
4His children went about without security,
crushed in court without a defender.
5The hungry consumed his harvest
and carried it to a hiding place;
his surplus was taken away,
the thirsty hankered after his wealth.
6For affliction comes not from the earth,
nor does sorrow sprout from the ground;
7humans are those who carry about trouble,
as an eagle in the heights brings down lightning flash.
2Resentment kills the fool,
and anger slays the simple.
1Call then, but who will answer you?
Who of the Saints will you turn to?
8If I were you, I would appeal to God
and lay before him my case,
9for wonders are past all reckoning,
his miracles beyond all counting.
10He pours rain down on the earth
and sends water upon the fields.
11He sets the lowly on high,
turns grief into joy.
12He wrecks the plans of the crafty,
so that their hands achieve no success.
13He traps the clever in their devices
and puts an end to the schemes of the wily.
14Darkness comes upon them in the daytime;
they grope at noon as in the night.
15He rescues the despoiled from the despoiler,
the weak from the hands of the violent.
16Thus hope comes to the lowly,
and injustice shuts its mouth.
17Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
reject not, therefore, the lessons of the Almighty,
18He cures the wounds he has inflicted;
he strikes but he also heals.
19From six troubles he will rescue you;
at the seventh no harm will touch you.
20In famine he saves you from death;
in war, from the threat of the sword.
21You will be protected from the lash of the tongue,
and have no dread of marauding bands.
22You will laugh at destruction and want;
and have no fear of the wild animals.
23No more stones in your fields, the soil will serve you,
and wild animals be at peace with you.
24You will find your tent secure,
your household untouched when you come home.
25You will have children in plenty
and descendants like the grass of the hills.
26You will come to the grave in a ripe age,
like a sheaf of grain gathered in season.
27This we have examined and found true.
This we have heard, and you should know.
What is man that you keep him in mind
2If only my anguish could be measured
and my misery put on the scales;
3they would outweigh the sands of the seashore!
It is for this that I speak impetuously.
4Pierced by the arrows of the Almighty,
my spirit absorbs their poison;
my heart fails before the terrors of God.
5Does a wild ass bray when it has fodder?
Does an ox bellow when it has grass?
6What taste would food have without salt?
What flavor is there in the white of an egg?
7So everything is tasteless for me,
I am bored with my bread.
8Would that I get my request,
that God grant me what I want—
9that he would decide to crush me,
let loose his hand and strike me down!
10Then this at least would comfort me,
my only joy in merciless dread,
that I have not cursed the will of the Holy One.
11Will I be able to go on hoping,
what expectation to keep on waiting?
12Have I the strength of stone,
and is my flesh of bronze?
13 There is no one to help me,
all aid has departed from me.
14Friends without compassion
made me lose the fear of the Almighty.
15My brothers have been fickle,
like the flowing of seasonal waters.
16They were but melted ice
running from under the snow.
17But summer comes and the river dries,
under the blazing sun no water is left.
18Because of this caravans get lost,
go to wastelands and perish.
19The merchants of Tema search for the brooks,
the travelers of Sheba look for them.
20In vain they expected,
they are frustrated on arriving there.
21Now you too are unable to help me;
you see a horror and draw back in fear.
22Have I asked you to give me anything?
Did I say, “Pay a ransom for me,
23deliver me from the enemy
or rescue me from a tyrant?”
24Teach me and I will keep silent;
show me where I have been wrong.
25Honest words I must not resent,
but what have your arguments shown?
26Do you mean to scorn my words,
or throw to the wind a cry of despair?
27Would you cast lots for the orphan
and bargain over your friend?
28But now, give me your attention;
surely I will not lie to your face.
29Relent, and grant me justice;
reconsider, my case is not yet tried.
30Is there insincerity on my tongue?
Have I misunderstood misery?
1Man’s life on earth is a thankless job, his days are those of a mercenary.
2Like a slave he longs for the shade of evening,
like a hireling waiting for his wages.
3Thus I am allotted months of boredom and nights of grief and misery.
4In bed I say, “When shall the day break?”
On rising, I think, “When shall evening come?”
and I toss restless till dawn.
5My body is full of worms and scabs;
my skin festers with its boils and cracks.
6My days pass swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
heading without hope to their end.
7My life is like wind, you well know it,
O God; never will I see happiness again.
8The eye that saw me will see me no more;
when you look for me, I shall have gone.
9As a cloud dissolves and vanishes,
so he who goes to the grave never returns.
10He will never come back to his house;
or be seen by his household.
11So I will not restrain my words,
I will speak out in anguish;
and complain with embittered soul,
12“Am I the sea or a monster of the deep,
that you keep me under watch?”
13When I think my bed will comfort me
and my couch will soothe my pain,
14then you frighten me with dreams
and terrify me with visions;
15I would prefer death by strangling
rather than such a trial.
16See I am dying, never to live again.
Leave me alone; I am finished.
17What is man that you make much of him,
that you give him so much attention,
18that every morning you examine him
and check him all the time?
19Will you never take your eyes off me
and give me respite to swallow my spittle?
20Suppose I sinned, what has it done to you,
O keeper of humans?
Why choose me as your target?
Have I become a burden to you?
21Why not pardon my sin
and take away my guilt?
For in the dust I will soon lie down;
and should you seek me I shall then be gone.
Does God pervert judgment?
1Bildad the Shuhite spoke:
2How long will you say such things?
Your words are long-winded blusterings.
3Does God pervert judgment?
Does the Almighty distort justice?
4If your children did him wrong,
he has made them pay for their sins.
5But if you will have recourse to God
and plead with the Almighty,
6if you are faultless and righteous,
even now he will care for you
and restore you to your rightful place.
7And your prosperity will be such
as to make you forget former times.
8Inquire of the past generations
and learn from their ancestors’ experience;
9for born but yesterday, we know nothing
and our days on earth are but a shadow.
10They will correct and teach you
with words that come from the heart.
11Can papyrus thrive without marsh?
Can reeds flourish without water?
12Even if still growing and uncut,
they wither more quickly than any plant.
13Such is the end of those who forget God;
the hope of the godless perishes.
14His trust is hanging by a thread;
a spider’s web is what he relies on.
15He leans on his house, but it does not stand;
he clings to it, but it crumbles.
16He is sturdy under the sun,
spreading its shoots in the garden,
17its roots entwined around the rocks,
holding fast to each stone.
18But when uprooted, the place rejects it:
“I have never known you.”
19And there it lies rotting by the road,
while other plants grow in its place.
20Indeed God does not reject the blameless,
nor lend his hand to the evildoer.
21He will again fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with joyful shouts.
22Your enemies will be confused,
and the tent of the wicked will disappear.
I cannot argue with you, nevertheless…
•1Then Job answered:
2Very well I know that it is so.
But how can a mortal be just before God?
3If one were to contend with him,
not once in a thousand times would he answer.
4His power is vast, his wisdom profound.
Who has resisted him and come out unharmed?
5He moves mountains before they are aware;
he overturns them in his rage.
6He makes the earth tremble
and its pillars quake.
7He commands the sun, and it does not shine;
he seals off the light of the stars.
8He alone stretches out the skies
and treads on the waves of the seas.
9He made the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and every constellation.
10His wonders are past all reckoning,
his miracles beyond all counting.
11He passes by, but I do not see him;
he moves on, but I do not notice him.
12If he snatches away, who can stop him?
Who can say to him, “What are you doing?”
13God does not turn back when angered;
before him Rahab’s cohorts cowered.
14How then can I answer him
and find words to argue with him?
15If he does not answer when I am right,
shall I plead with my judge for mercy?
16Even if I appealed and he answered,
I do not believe that he would have heard.
17He who crushes me for a trifle
and multiplies my hurt for no reason.
18He does not give me time to breathe,
but fills me with grief without pause.
19If it is a contest of strength, he is mighty.
If a matter of justice, who will summon him?
20If I were innocent, my own mouth would condemn me;
if blameless, it would pronounce me guilty.
21But am I innocent, after all? I do not know,
and so I find my life despicable.
22It is all the same! And this I dare say:
both blameless and wicked—he destroys.
23When disaster brings sudden death,
he mocks the despair of the innocent.
24When a nation falls into a tyrant’s hand,
it is he who makes the judges blind.
But if it is not he—who else then?
25Swifter than a runner are my days;
without a shred of joy they fly away.
26They skim along like reed canoes
or like eagles swooping on their prey.
27If I resolve to forget my affliction,
to smile and change my expression,
28my trials make me fear
for I know I shall be held accountable.
29In any case if I am to be condemned,
why should I bother in vain?
30If I washed my body with snow
and cleansed my hands with soap,
31you would plunge me into the dung pit,
and my very clothes would abhor me.
32He is not a man like me that I might say,
“let us go to court together.”
33Would that there were an arbiter between us,
who could lay his hand upon both of us.
34He would remove from me the rod of God
and his terrors which frighten me.
35But it is not so. Then I will speak
to myself alone without fear.
You hunt me like a lion
1Since I loathe my life,
I shall pour forth my complaint;
I shall speak of my soul’s torment.
2I shall say to God: Do not condemn me,
but tell me what is your quarrel with me?
3Would it be good for you to oppress me,
to spurn the work of your hands
and favor the designs of the wicked?
4Have you human eyes?
Do you see as man sees?
5Are your days as the days of man,
or your years as a mortal’s lifetime?
6Why do you seek guilt in me
and search for my faults?
7You know I have not sinned,
but who can rescue me from your hand?
8You have formed and made me.
Will you then turn and destroy me?
9Remember that you molded me from clay.
Will you turn me to dust again?
10Did you not pour me out like milk
and curdle me like cheese?
11You wrapped me up in skin and flesh,
knit me together with bones and sinews.
12In your goodness you gave me life
and watched over my breathing with care.
13Yet this is what you hid in your heart,
I know what was in your mind:
14You wanted to see if I sinned,
and not let my fault be forgiven.
15If I am guilty—alas for me!
If innocent—I dare not lift my head,
humbled and shamed in my affliction.
16Exhausted, you hunt me like a lion,
you want to prove that you are stronger.
17You renew your attack on me;
you intensify your rage,
wave upon wave, your forces assail me.
18Why did you bring me out of the womb?
I wish I had died unseen,
19a being that had not been—
carried from the womb direct to the tomb.
20Are not my days almost over?
Turn away; leave me a while to recover
21before I go to the place of no return,
to the land of gloom and shadow,
22to the land of chaos and deepest night,
where darkness is the only light.
The discourse of Zophar
1Zophar the Naamithite spoke: 2Must these words go unanswered?
Must you be right for talking so much?
3Will your prattle keep us silent?
Will no one answer your mocking?
4You say to God that your way is right,
that you are clean in his sight.
5How I wish that God would speak
and open his lips against you,
6to show you the secrets of wisdom
which put intelligence to shame,
then you would know
that God is recalling your sins.
7Can you fathom the mysteries of God,
probe the extent of his perfection?
8It is higher than heaven—
what can you do?
Deeper than the world of death—
what can you know?
9Its measure is wider than the earth,
broader than the sea.
10Who can stop him when he passes,
when he imprisons and calls to judgment?
11He sees evil; he recognizes deceit.
Will he not then take note of it?
12So stupid people learn to be wise
as wild donkeys become tame.
13If you set your heart aright
and stretch out your hands to him,
14if you wash your hand of sin
and allow no evil in your tent,
15you will then raise your face in honor;
having no fear, you will feel secure.
16You will forget your suffering
and recall it only as waters gone by.
17Your life will be brighter than noonday
and its darkness like the morning.
18You will be comforted, for there is hope;
you will be protected when you sleep.
19You will lie down with no one to fear;
many will come to court your favor.
20But the eyes of the wicked will fail;
they will lose all way of escape,
their one hope—that death will come.
Will you defend God with lies?
•1Then Job answered:
2No doubt you are the people’s voice;
when you die, wisdom dies with you!
3But I have a mind as well as you,
I know all that you have said.
4To my friends I am a laughingstock
when I call on God who does not answer;
the just and blameless man
is made fun of.
5“Contempt for the unfortunate,” so think the prosperous,
“a blow for those who are staggering.”
6Yet the robbers’ tents are undisturbed,
those who provoke God are in peace,
those who make a god of their strength.
7But ask the beasts to teach you,
the birds of the air to tell you,
8the plants of the earth to instruct you,
the fish of the sea to inform you.
9Who among them does not understand
that behind all this is God’s hand?
10He holds the life of every creature
and the breath of humans.
11The ear surely can test the words
as the tongue tastes food;
12wisdom is found in the old,
and understanding in great age;
13in God however is wisdom and power;
his are counsel and understanding.
14What he tears down, none can rebuild;
the one he imprisons, none can release.
15If he withholds water, there is drought;
if he lets it loose, there is flood.
16In him are strength and perception;
deceived and deceiver are in his power.
17He leads counselors away stripped
and makes fools of judges.
18He loosens the belt of kings
and ties a loincloth about their waist.
19He leads priests away, barefoot,
and overthrows those in power.
20He compels advisers to keep silent,
and strips elders of their discernment.
21He puts princes to shame;
he unties the girdle of the strong.
22(He uncovers the gloomy recesses
and brings the deep darkness to light.)
23He makes a nation rise and fall,
a people to grow and to dwindle.
24He deprives leaders of their judgment,
leaving them to roam in a trackless waste.
25Without light, they grope in the dark
and stagger like drunkards.
•1My eyes have seen all this,
my ears have heard and understood.
2What you know, I also know;
I am not inferior to you.
3But I would like to speak to the Almighty,
I want to plead my case with God.
4You are glossing over the problem
and offering false remedies.
5If only you would keep silent,
that would at least be wisdom.
6Hear now my argument;
listen to my defense.
7Will you speak falsely for God?
Will you defend him with false inventions?
8Will you side with him
and advocate on his behalf?
9What if he examines you?
Could he be deceived as people are?
10He will rebuke you for sure
if in secret you show partiality.
11You will be terrified by his majesty,
and you will be in dread of him.
12Heaps of ashes are your maxims;
mounds of clay are your defenses.
13So keep silent and let me speak;
this will be at my own risk.
14I am putting myself in jeopardy
and gambling for my life.
15Though he may slay me,
I will still argue with him;
16and this boldness might even save me
for godless do not dare draw near him.
17Carefully listen to my words,
give my case a hearing.
18I will proceed in due form
believing that I am guiltless.
19If anyone makes good his charges,
I am ready to be silenced and die.
20Only grant me these two things, O God,
and from you I will not hide:
21Withdraw your hand far from me,
and do not frighten me with your terrors.
22Summon me and I will respond;
or let me speak and then have your reply.
23What are my faults, what are my sins?
Make them all known to me.
24Why hide your face from me
and consider me your enemy?
25Why torment a wind-blown leaf
or pursue a withered straw?
26But you search for accusations
and you recall the sins of my youth.
27You shackle my feet,
keep watch on all my paths
and mark out my footsteps.
Man born of woman has a short life
•1Man born of woman
has a short life full of sorrow.
2Like a flower he blossoms and withers;
transient and fleeting as a shadow.
13 28He falls apart like worm-eaten wood,
like cloth devoured by the moths.
3Is he the one you look on
and bring before you for judgment?
4Who can bring the clean from the unclean?
5Since his days are measured
and you have decreed the number of his months,
set him bounds he cannot pass,
6then leave him alone. Turn away from him
till he completes his day like a hireling.
7There is hope for a tree:
if cut down it will sprout again,
its new shoots will still appear.
8Though its roots grow old in the ground
and its stump withers in the soil,
9at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a young plant.
10But when man is cut down, he comes undone;
he breathes his last—where will he be?
11The waters of the sea may disappear,
rivers drain away,
12but the one who lies down will not rise again;
the heavens will vanish before he wakes,
before he rises from his sleep.
•13If only you would hide me in the grave
and shelter me till your wrath is past!
If only you would set a time for me
and then remember me!
14If you die, will you live again?
All the days of my service
I would wait for my release.
15You would call and I would answer;
you would long for the work of your hands again.
16Now you watch my every step,
but then you would stop counting my sins.
17My offenses would be sealed in a bag,
and you would do away with my guilt.
18But as mountains erode and crumble,
as rock is moved from its place,
19as waters wear away stones
and floods wash away the soil,
so you destroy the hope of man.
20You crush him once for all, and he is gone;
you change his appearance and send him away.
21If his children are honored, he does not know it;
if brought low, he does not see it.
22Only the pain of his own body does he feel;
only for himself does he mourn.
Another discourse of Eliphaz
1Eliphaz the Temanite spoke:
2Should a wise man answer with airy notions,
puff himself up with senseless opinions?
3Should he argue in empty talk,
in words that are meaningless?
4You are undermining piety
and meditation in God’s presence.
5Your iniquity instructs your mouth,
and you talk like the crafty.
6Your own mouth condemns you,
your own lips, not mine.
7Are you mankind’s firstborn?
Were you brought forth before the hills?
8Are you privy to God’s counsels?
Do you alone possess wisdom?
9What knowledge have you that we do not have?
What do you understand that is obscure to us?
10The gray-haired and the aged are among us,
men older than your father.
11Are God’s consolations too small for you,
and the words spoken gently to you?
12Why does your heart carry you away,
why do your eyes flash
13when you turn your wrath against God
and utter such words as these?
14What is man to claim innocence,
the child of woman to be cleared of guilt?
15If God puts no trust in his holy ones,
and (the) heavens are not clean in his eyes,
16how much less man who is vile and corrupt,
who drinks evil as if it were water!
17Listen and I will explain;
I will tell you of my experience
18and of the sages’ teachings
passed on to them by their fathers,
19to whom alone the land was given
when no foreigner moved among them.
20The wicked are in torment all their days.
During the years allotted to the tyrant
21his ears are filled with terrifying sounds,
his peace shattered by the attack of marauders.
22He despairs of escaping the darkness
and sees himself given to the sword,
23then left as a prey for vultures,
he knows his destruction is at hand.
24The hour of darkness fills him with dread,
as distress and anguish close in on him.
25But look: he challenged God,
he raised his hand against the Almighty,
26charging stubbornly against him
behind a thick, sturdy shield.
27His face had grown full and fat,
his thighs bulged with flesh.
28He would dwell in ruined cities,
in deserted and crumbling houses.
29He will not prosper or take root;
he will not escape from darkness;
30a flame will wither his shoots;
the wind will carry off his blossom.
31Let him not trust in greatness
for he will get nothing in return.
32He will be paid in full before his time,
and his branches will never again be green.
33Like a vine he will be stripped of unripe grapes;
like the olive, he will shed his blossoms.
34For the breed of the godless will be barren,
and fire will consume the tents of extortioners.
35Who conceives mischief will bring forth evil,
deceit will spring from his own womb.
Where then can my hope be?
•1Then Job answered:
2I have heard many such things.
What miserable comforters you are!
3When will your airy words end?
What ails you and keeps you arguing?
4I too could talk as you do,
if you were in my place;
I could declaim over you
and shake my head at you.
5I would give you strength,
and comfort you with words.
6Yet if I talk, my suffering is not eased,
if I refrain, it does not go far from me.
7I am upset with such ill will;
an evil band 8takes hold of me.
They stand to testify against me;
and answer me with slanders.
9They assail me with fury
and gnash their teeth at me;
my enemies lord it over me.
10With open mouths they jeer at me;
they strike my cheek, and together
they mass themselves against me.
11God has given me over to sinners
and cast me into the clutches of the wicked.
12All was well until he shattered me,
but he seized me and dashed me to pieces.
Having set me up for a target,
13he had his arrows pointed at me,
striking from every direction,
piercing my sides without pity,
spilling my gall on the ground.
14Like a warrior he bears down on me,
thrusting me unceasingly.
15I have fastened sackcloth over my skin
and buried my brow in dust.
16My face is red with weeping,
deep shadows ring my eyes;
17yet my hands are free of violence,
and my prayer sincere.
18O earth, do not cover my blood;
let not my cry come to rest!
19Even now my witness is in heaven
and my defender is on high.
20Now my prayer has gone up to God
as I poured out my tears before him.
21Would that one could discuss with God
as he does with his fellows.
22My years are numbered, and soon
I will take the road of no return.
1My spirit is broken,
my days are over
and the grave awaits me.
2Mockers surround me;
my eyes grow dim with nights of bitterness.
3Sponsor me, O God,
since no one will support me.
4You have closed their minds
so they will not dare.
5Who will help a friend when his children are in need?
6I have been made everybody’s byword,
a man in whose face people spit.
7My eyes have grown dim with grief,
my frame shrunken to a shadow.
8At this, the godly are appalled,
and the guiltless rail against the wicked.
9The righteous feel at ease
and those with clean hands are strengthened.
10But come on again, all of you;
I will not find a single sage among you.
11My days are ended, my plans shattered,
and so my heart desires
12the night when it is day,
the coming of light as soon as it darkens.
13Where is my hope? The grave is my home,
in the darkness I spread out my bed,
14I must call corruption “my father,”
and the worm “my mother” or “my sister.”
15What can I wait for,
and who will see any hope for me?
16Will it go down to the bars of death,
shall we descend together into the dust?
1Bildad the Shuhite replied:
2When will your empty words end?
Listen, and then we can talk.
3Why do you regard us like beasts?
Are we stupid in your sight?
4You who tear yourself in your wrath,
must the earth be lost on your account
the rocks be moved out of their place?
5Surely the evil man’s lamp is snuffed out;
his fire stops burning.
6The light dims in his tent;
the lamp shining on him goes out.
7His vigorous steps weaken;
his own schemes make him stumble.
8His feet take him to a net
or lead him into a pitfall.
9A trap seizes him by the heel;
a snare lays hold of him.
10Hidden in the ground is a noose for him;
pitfalls await him along the way.
11Terrors assail him on every side;
they harry him at every step.
12Hungering among his goods,
doom awaits him if he falls.
13Sickness eats his skin;
death’s firstborn devours his limbs.
14Torn from the security of his tent,
he is marched off to the king of terrors,
15His tent is no longer his:
take it! Brimstone is scattered over his field.
16Dried up below are his roots;
withered above are his branches.
17His memory perishes in the land,
his name is forgotten on the earth.
18From light he is driven into darkness;
he is banished from the world.
19He has no descendants among his people,
no survivor where once he lived.
20All in the west are appalled at his fate;
those of the east are seized with fright.
21Such is the lot of the wicked;
such is the place of one who knows not God.
2How long will you vex me,
crush me with your words?
3Ten times now you have reviled me,
you have attacked me shamelessly.
4If indeed I am at fault,
I alone am concerned with it.
5If you want to gloat over me
and use my humiliation as argument,
6know then that God has treated me unfairly
and surrounded me with torment.
7Though I cry injustice I am not heard;
though I call for help it is in vain.
8He has blocked my way to prevent me from passing;
he has shrouded my path and made it dark.
9He has stripped me of honor,
and removed the crown from my head.
10On every side he tears me down
and uproots my hope till it is gone.
11He directs his anger against me
and counts me as his enemy.
12Against me his troops build a siege ramp,
and around my tent they encamp.
In my flesh I shall see God
•13He has distanced me from my brothers,
completely estranged me from my friends.
14My kinsfolk and companions have gone away;
my guests have forsaken me,
15my maidservants count me as an alien
as if they had never known me
16I summon my servant, but he does not answer,
even when I plead with him.
17To my wife my breath is offensive;
to my own brothers I am loathsome.
18Even little children ridicule me:
Come! let us make fun of him!
19All my intimate friends detest me;
those I love have turned against me.
20I have become skin and bone
and have escaped with only my gums.
21Have pity my friends, have pity,
for God’s hand has struck me!
22Why do you hound me as God does?
Will you never have enough of my flesh?
23Oh, that my words were written,
or recorded on bronze
24with an iron tool, a chisel
or engraved forever on rock!
25For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he, the last, will take his stand on earth.
26I will be there behind my skin,
and in my flesh I shall see God.
27With my own eyes I shall see him—
I and not another. How my heart yearns!
28If you say, “We will pursue him!
let us find a charge against him”,
29be afraid of the sword yourselves;
when Wrath is enflamed against wrong,
you will know there is judgment.
Zophar: Evil will come to an end
1Zophar of Naamath spoke next:
2My troubled thoughts move me to reply
for I have been feeling impatient.
3I hear a rebuke which puts me to shame,
and I am inspired to give an answer.
4You know how it has been from of old,
since man was placed on earth,
5that the triumph of the wicked is short
and the joy of the godless is but a moment.
6Though his pride reach to the heavens
and his head touch the clouds,
7he vanishes like a phantom;
those who have seen him ask where he is.
8Like a dream he takes flight,
like a vision of the night.
9The eye that met him sees him no more;
neither shall his dwelling shelter him again.
11His youthful frame that was full of vigor
shall at last lie with him in the dust.
12Evil was sweet in his mouth,
and he hid it under his tongue,
13He liked it and did not let it go
and still kept it within his mouth,
14yet his food turns sour
and becomes venom in his stomach.
15He vomits the riches he swallowed;
God compels his belly to belch it out.
16Because he sucked the poison of a viper,
he will be killed by the fangs of an adder.
17He will no longer see the streams of oil,
no rivers of honey and milk.
18He gives back the fruit of his toil: he could not swallow it.
19For he has oppressed the poor
and seized houses instead of building them.
10His children must make amends to his victims;
his own hands must pay back his riches.
20For his greed had no limit,
and no one could escape his appetite;
21he devoured them, one and all.
This is why his prosperity will not endure.
22In the midst of plenty, distress seizes him,
the full force of misery falls upon him.
23When his belly is filled God unloads his wrath upon him
and pelts him with his arrows.
24While he flees from an iron weapon,
the bronze bow strikes him down.
25A dart sticks in his back,
in his liver an arrow.
He is in the grip of a terrible fear;
26total darkness has been stored for him,
a fire which he did not kindle devours him and consumes whatever was left in his tent.
27The heavens will expose his guilt;
the earth will rise up against him.
28A flood will sweep away his house,
the waters of God’s wrath.
29Such is the fate of the wicked—
their lot which comes from God.
2Listen at least to my words,
enough of your consolation.
3Bear with me while I speak;
and then you can mock.
4Is my grudge against humans?
Why then should I not be impatient?
5Look at me and be appalled;
cover your mouth for a moment.
6When I think about this I am troubled
and trembling seizes my body.
Job: It’s well for the wicked!
•7Why do the wicked live,
increase in age and in power?
8Their descendants flourish in their sight,
their kinsfolk and their offspring.
9Their homes are safe, free from fear;
they do not feel the scourge of God.
10Their bulls breed without fail;
their cows calve and do not miscarry.
11They have children as they have lambs
their little ones dance like deer.
12They sing to the rhythm of timbrel and harp;
make merry to the sound of the flute.
13They live out their days in happiness
and go down to Sheol in peace.
14Yet they said to God, “Go away!
We have no desire to learn your way.
15Who is the Almighty that we should serve him?
What will it profit us if we pray to him?”
16Though they planned everything far from God
prosperity is in their hands.
17How often is their lamp put out?
How often does calamity befall them?
How often does God’s anger wipe them out?
18How often are they like straw before the wind,
like chaff which the storm sweeps away?
19You say, “His children will pay for his sin.”
Let the man himself pay for his iniquity;
20let his own eyes see his misfortune;
let him drink the wrath of the Almighty!
21What does he care about his family when he dies,
when his months have been cut off?
22Can anyone teach God knowledge,
since he judges even the highest?
23One man dies in full vigor,
at ease and completely secure;
24full and nourished is his figure,
rich in marrow are his bones.
25Another dies in bitterness,
never having enjoyed happiness.
26But in the dust they lie down
side by side, covered with worms.
27I know your thoughts fully
and your schemes about me.
28For you say, “Where is the house of the great prince?
Where is the tent of the wicked?”
29Have you never asked the travelers,
or have you misunderstood what they say—
30that the evil man is spared from calamity,
delivered from the day of God’s fury?
31Who will denounce his conduct to his face
or pay him back for what he has done?
32When people have carried him to the grave his image watches from his tomb.
33The soft earth is sweet to him;
behind him you see everyone follow
and before him a countless horde.
34How then can you console me with your nonsense?
Pure falsehood is all you have said.
Eliphaz: Can we be of any use to God?
1Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
2Can we be of any use to God?
Only himself a wise man benefits.
•3What would the Almighty gain if you were upright?
What profit if you were blameless in your ways?
4Is it for your piety that he reproves
and brings you to judgment?
5Is it not for your great wickedness,
for there is no end to your sins?
6Without any need you kept your kinsmen’s goods
and stripped them naked of their clothing.
7You denied drink to the thirsty
and withheld bread from the hungry.
8The powerful control the land
and allot it to their cronies.
9You have sent widows away empty-handed
and crushed the arms of orphans.
10No wonder snares are round about you
and sudden terror makes you dismayed,
11you are blinded by darkness
and covered by flood.
12Is not God above the heavens?
See how lofty are the highest stars.
13Yet you say, “What does God know?
Can he see through deep shadows?
14He cannot see for thick clouds veil him
as he walks upon the vault of the heavens.”
15Will you keep to the old path
that the wicked have trod?
16In a moment they were carried off
and their foundation washed away.
17They said to God, “Away from us!
What can the Almighty do to us?”
18He had filled their houses with good things,
but the thoughts of the wicked were far from him.
19The righteous see their ruin and are glad,
the innocent laugh at them and say,
20“Now the great have come to nothing,
fire has devoured their heritage.”
21Come to terms with God and make peace;
in this way you will prosper.
22Listen to his teaching
and keep his words in your heart.
23If you return humbled to the Almighty,
if you drive injustice from your tent,
24then you will look on gold as dust,
gold of Ophir as pebbles from a stream.
25For the Almighty will be your gold
and your sparkling silver.
26For then you will delight in the Almighty
and lift up your face to God.
27You will pray to him and he will hear,
and you will fulfill your vows.
28You will succeed in your decision,
and light will shine upon your way.
29For God brings down the proud
and saves the downcast.
30He who rescues the innocent,
will rescue you too if your hands are clean.
•1Job answered and said:
2Again today my complaint is rebellious;
I groan under his heavy hand.
3If only I knew where to find him,
if only I could go to his dwelling,
4I would bring my case before him
and lay out in full my arguments.
5I would find out his answer
and understand what he would say.
6Would he need great power to debate with me?
No! he needs only to listen!
7He would know the complainant to be an upright man
and I would be free of my judge.
8But if I go eastward, he is not there;
if I go westward, I still cannot see him.
9Seeking him in the north, I do not find him;
looking for him in the south, he is not there.
10But he knows my every step,
and I will come out as gold in his test.
11I have always walked along his path;
I have kept his ways and not turned aside.
12I have not departed from his commands,
instead I have treasured his words.
13But who can oppose once he has decided?
He does what he desires.
14He will carry out his decree
and other plans laid out for me.
15That is why I am terrified
when I think of all this.
16God has made me lose courage;
the Almighty has made me afraid,
17but I am not silenced by darkness,
by the thick gloom that covers my face.
Why does God not ask?
•1Why is what happens hidden from God?
Why do his faithful never see his justice?
2The wicked remove landmarks
and steal both flocks and shepherds.
3They seize the orphan’s ass
and for a pledge take the widow’s ox.
4The needy stay far from the road,
the poor go into hiding.
5Like wild asses in the wasteland,
they look for food;
the poor toil in the night,
there is no food for their children!
6They gather fodder in the fields,
work in the vineyards of the wicked.
7Destitute, they lie down naked,
shivering in the freezing cold.
8Drenched with mountain rains,
they hug the rocks for lack of shelter.
9The fatherless child is snatched from the breast,
the infant of the poor seized for a debt.
10Without clothes, they go naked,
starving as they carry the sheaves.
11Between the millstones they crush olives;
they tread the winepress but suffer thirst.
12In the city the dying groan,
and the wounded cry out for help
but God pays no attention.
13Many rebel against the light,
they do not know its way or stay in its path.
•14When dawn breaks, the murderer rises
to kill the poor and the helpless.
15The adulterer waits for dusk,
thinking that no eye watches him.
At night the thief walks about
and puts a mask over his face,
16ready to break into the houses
that he chose during the day.
17Morning is their darkest hour
the time for them to fear.
18The wicked are foam on the face of the waters;
their portion of the land is cursed,
and no one goes to their vineyards.
19As drought and heat snap up the thawed snow,
so Sheol swallows up the sinner,
20and the womb which formed him, forgets him.
Evil men are no longer remembered,
like a fallen tree they are broken.
21They preyed on the barren, childless woman,
and showed no kindness to the widow.
22But the powerful stands against them and drags away the mighty.
23He may let them feel secure,
but his eyes are upon their ways.
24They are momentarily exalted, and then gone;
they wither and fade like a weed.
They are cut off like heads of grain.
25If this is not so, who can prove me wrong
and reduce my words to nothing?
•1Then Bildad the Shuhite answered:
2His is dominion and awesome power,
he who establishes peace in the heavens.
3Can his armies be numbered?
Upon whom does his light not rise?
4How can man be righteous before God?
How can one born of woman be pure?
5Even the moon is not bright
nor are the stars pure in his sight—
6how much less man—this insect,
the human—a worm?
•5The shades of the deep are terrified,
the waters and their inhabitants tremble.
6Sheol is naked before God;
destruction lies uncovered.
7Over the void he spreads out the northern skies;
over emptiness he suspends the earth.
8He wraps up the waters in his clouds,
yet the clouds do not burst their seams.
9He covers the face of the moon
and spreads his clouds over it.
10On the face of the waters he draws the horizon as a boundary between light and darkness.
11The pillars of the heavens quake,
stunned at his thunderous rebuke.
12By his power he stilled the sea;
by his wisdom he smote Rahab.
13By his wind the skies were cleared;
his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
14These are but hints of his power;
a whisper is all that we hear of him.
But who can understand the thunder of his might?
•1Job answered then:
2What help have you given to the powerless,
what strength to the enfeebled arm?
3What advice have you offered to the foolish,
and what great insight have you shown?
4Who has inspired in you these words?
Whose spirit spoke from your mouth?
1Job continued his discourse:
2As surely as God lives, who denies my right,
the Almighty, who has made me bitter,
3as long as I have life within me
and God’s breath in my nostrils,
4my lips will not speak falsehood
nor my tongue utter deceit.
5Never will I admit you are right,
nor deny my integrity till I die.
6Never will I let go of my righteousness;
my conscience is not put to shame.
7Let my enemy be as the wicked
and my adversary as the unrighteous.
8For what hope has the godless
when God cuts him off,
when God takes away his life?
9God will not listen to his call
when he is beset by trouble.
10For he did not delight in the Almighty
or call upon him constantly.
11See, I tell you the deeds of God
and do not conceal the ways of the Almighty.
12You have witnessed this yourselves.
Why then these empty words?
13This is a wicked man’s portion from God,
the heritage of an oppressor
which he receives from the Almighty.
14Though his children be many,
the sword is their destiny.
His offspring will go hungry.
15The plague will bury those who survive,
and their widows will not mourn for them.
16He may heap up silver like dust
and pile up clothes like clay,
17but what he stores, the just will wear,
and the innocent divide his silver.
18He builds his house like a cobweb,
or like the hut a watchman makes.
19Once more he lies down rich
and wakes to see his wealth all gone.
20Terrors rush upon him by day;
at night a whirlwind carries him away.
21The east wind lifts him up, and he disappears
as it sweeps him out of his place.
22People strike at him without mercy
as he flees headlong from their hands.
23They clap their hands in mockery
and hiss at him from where they are.
The miners praise the wisdom of God
•1There is a silver mine
and a place where gold is refined.
2Iron is taken from earth
and copper is smelted from ore.
3Trying to conquer darkness,
piercing to the uttermost depths
in darkness for the gloomy stone,
4strange people cut a shaft
in places remote and long forgotten,
and there they labor, dangling and swaying.
5The earth which produces food
is plowed up as if by fire.
6Sapphires come from its rocks,
gold nuggets from its dust.
7No bird of prey knows the hidden path,
no falcon’s eye has seen it yet.
8No proud beast has trodden it,
no prowling lion has passed over it.
9Man attacks the flinty rocks,
upturns mountains by their roots.
10Tunneling through earth’s layers,
he sees all its treasures.
11He searches the source of rivers,
and brings hidden things to light.
12But where does wisdom come from?
Where does understanding dwell?
13Man has known no way to wisdom;
it is not found in the land of the living.
14The deep says, “It is not in me”;
the sea says, “It is not with me.”
15It cannot be purchased with the finest gold,
nor can its price be weighed in silver.
16It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir,
nor with precious onyx or sapphire.
17It is beyond comparison with gold or crystal;
its worth is unmatched by any golden vessel.
18Not worth mentioning are coral and jasper;
the price of wisdom is above the biggest pearl.
19The topaz of Cush cannot equal it;
it cannot be valued in pure gold.
20Where then does wisdom come from?
Where does understanding dwell?
21It is hidden from the eyes of all the living,
concealed from the birds in the sky.
22Destruction and Death can only say,
“We have heard of it.”
23God alone knows the way to wisdom,
his eye enters its dwelling place.
24When he looked to the ends of the earth,
and watched everything under the heavens,
25when he gave the wind its force
and measured out the waters,
26when he set a bound for the rain
and a way for the thunder and lightning,
27then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
he established it, knowing it in depth.
28And to humans he said:
The fear of the Lord is wisdom;
avoiding evil is understanding.
Whoever listened to me, spoke well of me
•1Job continued his discourse:
2Oh, that I were in months gone by,
in the days when God watched over me,
3when his light shone upon my head
and I walked with it through darkness.
4Oh, that I were in my prime,
when God’s friendship blessed my home,
5when the Almighty was still with me
and my children were around me,
6when milk bathed my footsteps
and olive oil flowed from the rock.
7When I went to the city gate
and took up my seat in the square
8the young men stepped aside
and the old men rose to their feet;
9the chief men dared not speak
but laid their hands on their mouths;
10the princes were silenced,
their tongues stuck to the palate.
21They listened to me and waited in silence
for my counsel.
22Once I spoke they said no more,
but drop by drop my words kept falling on them.
23They waited for me as people wait for showers;
they drank in my words as spring rain.
24If I smiled at them, they did not dare believe it;
not a glance of mine was lost.
25I pointed out the way, as a leader
and took a king’s place among the troops.
Wherever I led them, they went.
11Whoever heard me, spoke well of me,
and those who saw me commended me,
12for I rescued the poor who cried for help,
the fatherless and the unassisted.
13I was blessed by the dying man;
I turned to peace the widow’s pining.
14I was wearing my honesty like a garment,
my integrity was my robe and turban.
15I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame,
16father to the needy, the stranger’s advocate.
17I broke the jaws of the wicked,
and from his teeth forced out the prey.
18I said to myself: “I will die old,
my days as many as the grains of sand.
19My roots will reach to the water;
at night my branches will be wet with dew.
20My glory will remain fresh,
the bow ever strong in my grip.”
1And now I am the laughing-stock
of people much younger
whose fathers I considered unfit
to put with the dogs of my flock.
2Not even their arms were helpful to me for all their vigor had gone,
3worn out by hunger and want.
They roamed the parched wasteland,
4they gathered salt herbs from the brushwood,
their food was the roots of the broom plant.
5They were banished by their fellowmen
who shouted at them as if they were thieves.
6They were forced to seek a home in caves,
among the ravines and rock crevices.
7They brayed among the bushes
and huddled in the underbrush.
8They were driven from the land
for being base and senseless.
9And now their sons sing of my disgrace;
I have become a byword among them.
10They do not hesitate to spit before me;
they abhor me and keep their distance.
11Seeing that God has unstrung my bow,
they have cast off restraint in my presence.
12On my right the rabble rise,
build siege ramps and lay snares.
13They attack, with none to restrain them.
14They advance, as through a wide breach;
they come in waves amid the uproar.
15Terror grips me;
my dignity is blown by the wind
my safety has vanished like a passing cloud.
•16And now my soul is poured out
because of my days of grief and suffering.
17At night gnawing pain pierces my bones.
My veins have no rest.
18With power God has caught my garment,
binding me about as the collar of my coat;
19throwing me into the mire,
where I am now like dust.
20I cry to you, O God, but there’s no answer;
I stand but you merely look on.
21You have become cruel to me, you pursue me
mercilessly with your strong hand.
22You lift me up and make me ride
till the storm tosses and throws me down like rain.
23I know you will bring me down to death,
the destiny of all the living.
24I did not raise my hand against the poor
when he cried for help in his disaster.
25Have I not wept for those in trouble?
Has not my soul grieved for the poor?
26But when I looked for good, I encountered evil;
when I waited for light, darkness came.
27My heart in turmoil is never at peace,
for days of distress have come upon me…
28I go about darkened, but not by the sun;
if I rise in council, it is to voice my grief.
29I have become a brother of jackals,
a companion of owls.
30My skin blackens and peels;
my bones burn with fever.
31My harp is tuned to laments,
and my flute to sounds of weeping.
Have I eaten my food alone?
•1I have made a covenant with my eyes
not even to gaze at a virgin.
2For what is man’s lot from God on high,
his heritage from the Almighty above?
3Is it not ruin for the wicked,
disaster for the wrongdoer?
4Does he not see my ways
and number all my steps?
5Have I walked in falsehood?
Have my feet hastened towards deceit?
6Let me be weighed in honest scales,
that God may know I am guiltless.
7If my steps have turned from the way
and my heart’s desire has gone astray,
if my hands have been stained,
8then may others eat what I have sown,
or may my crops be stricken down.
9If I have been enticed by a woman,
if I have lurked at my neighbor’s door,
10then may my wife grind for another,
and may other men sleep with her.
11(For that is enough to make one ashamed,
a crime that should be utterly condemned.)
12For it is a fire that burns to destruction;
it would have consumed all my possessions.
13If I have denied justice to my servants
when they had a grievance against me,
14what would I do when confronted by God?
What would I answer when called to account?
15No less than I, they too were formed in the womb
by the same God who formed us all within our mothers.
16Have I denied anything to the poor,
or allowed the widow’s eyes to languish?
17Have I eaten my food alone,
not sharing it with the fatherless?
18No! since youth I have fostered him,
and from my mother’s womb, I have guided the widow.
19Have I seen a man cold and shivering,
destitute, in need of clothing,
20who did not bless me from his heart
for giving him the warmth of my fleece?
21If I have raised my hand against the orphan,
trusting in my power and influence,
22then let my shoulder fall from its socket,
let my arm be broken at the joint.
23For I feared God-sent calamity,
and how could I stand in his presence?
24If I have put my trust in gold
or have sought my security from it,
25if I have gloated over my wealth,
my fortune and accomplishments,
26if I have regarded the sun in its radiance
or the moon in its splendor,
27and having been enticed offered them
a kiss of my hand in homage,
28then these also would be sins to judge
for I would have been unfaithful to God.
29Have I rejoiced at my enemy’s misfortune
or gloated over disaster that came his way?
30I have not even allowed my mouth to sin
by invoking a curse against him.
31Those of my household used to say,
“Who has not been fed with Job’s meat?”
32No sojourner ever spent the night in the street,
for my door was always open to wayfarers.
38If my land has cried against me
and its furrows wept
39because I have eaten its fruits unjustly
after getting rid of its owners,
40let thorns grow instead of wheat
and weeds in the place of barley.
33Have I, out of human weakness,
hidden my sins and concealed guilt in my heart,
34keeping silent by myself,
because I feared the crowd and their contempt?
35Oh, that I had someone to hear me!
Let the Almighty answer! This is my plea.
Let my accuser write his indictment
36and I will wear it on my shoulder,
or bind it round my head like a turban.
37I would give him an account of my every step,
and go as boldly as a prince to meet him.
This is the end of the words of Job.
Second Part: Elihu Intervenes
•1The three men made no further reply to Job, because in their opinion, he was guiltless. 2But Elihu, son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became angry with Job for justifying himself before God. 3He was also angry with the three friends for their failure to refute Job, because they had allowed God to be condemned. 4Because they were older than he, Elihu had bided his time; 5but when the three gave up the argument, his anger burst out. 6Thus Elihu, son of Barachel the Buzite, spoke:
I am young and you are quite old;
therefore I was timid and afraid
and dared not tell you of what I know.
7“Age should speak,” I thought;
“advanced years should teach wisdom.”
8But it is the spirit in man,
the breath of the Almighty,
that makes him understand.
9It is not the old alone who are wise,
nor the aged who understand what is right.
10Therefore I said: Listen,
let me also show my knowledge.
11I waited for you to speak,
listening for your reasons,
as you searched for words.
12I gave you my full attention
but none of you has proved Job wrong,
none has refuted his arguments.
13Stop saying, “We have met wisdom;
God has instructed us, not man.”
14I will not resume your argument
or answer Job with your reasoning.
15They keep quiet for they are dismayed
and have nothing more to say.
16Must I wait, now that they are silent,
making no effort to reply?
17I, too, will show my knowledge.
18For I am full of words
and prodded on by the spirit.
19I am like bottled-up wine,
or a wineskin bursting with wine.
20I have to speak to find relief,
open my lips and make reply.
21I will be partial to no one
and will not flatter anyone.
22For if I were skilled in flattery,
my Maker would soon do away with me.
Have you heard God’s warning?
•1So now, O Job, hear my discourse,
listen to everything I say.
2My words are on the tip of my tongue,
3words from an upright heart,
words full of knowledge and sincerity.
4The Spirit of God has made me;
the breath of the Almighty keeps me alive.
5Answer me if you can;
draw up your arguments and take your stand.
6Like yourself, I too have been taken
by God from the same clay.
7Thus no fear of me need alarm you,
nor should my presence lie heavy on you.
8But I heard what you said,
none of your words escaped my hearing:
9“I am clean and without sin;
I am innocent, guiltless.
10Yet God has found fault with me
and considers me his enemy;
11he shackles my feet,
keeps watch of all my paths.”
12I tell you, you are wrong in this,
for greater than man is God.
13Why then do you complain
that he will answer none of your words?
14See God gives a warning
but does not repeat it a second time.
15In a dream, in a night vision,
when deep sleep falls on people,
while they slumber in their beds,
16it is then he opens their ears
and gives warning by terrifying them.
17So he turns man from wrongdoing
and keeps him away from pride,
18God preserves his soul from the pit,
his life from perishing by the sword.
19Man is also chastened on his bed by pain
and constant distress upon his frame,
20so that he finds food repulsive,
even the choicest meal loathsome.
21His flesh wastes away to naught;
his bones, once unseen, now protrude.
22His soul draws near to the pit,
and his life to the place of death.
23Yet if there is an angel by his side—
a mediator, one in a thousand—
to show him what is right for man,
to give him justice once again,
24God will have mercy on him and say,
“Deliver him from going down to the pit;
I have found for him a ransom.”
25Then his flesh will be renewed as a child’s,
restored as in the days of his youth.
26He will pray and find favor with God;
he will see God’s face and rejoice.
27He will witness to men and say,
“I sinned and perverted what was right,
but I was not punished as I deserved.
28He rescued my soul from going down into the pit, and gave me life to enjoy the light.”
29God does all this to man—
twice, even thrice—
30to turn him back from the pit,
to lead him with the light of life.
31Pay attention, Job, listen to me;
be silent, and I will continue to speak.
32But if you have anything to say, say it then;
speak up, for I wish to see you justified.
33If not, then do listen;
be silent as I teach you wisdom.
1Elihu continued speaking:
2Hear my words, you the wise;
listen to me, you who know.
3The ear tests the word,
as the palate tastes the food.
4Let us discern what is right,
learn between us what is good.
5Job has said, “I am innocent,
but God denies me justice
6and disregards my right.
Though guiltless, my wound is hopeless.”
7Who is like Job,
who drinks in blasphemies like water?
8He keeps company with evildoers
and follows the path of the wicked.
9For has he not said, “It does not profit a man
if he tries to please God?”
10So hear me, you men of understanding,
far be it from God to do evil,
far from the Almighty to do wrong!
11Rather, he repays man for what he has done;
he gives him what his conduct deserves.
12How unthinkable that God would do wrong,
that the Almighty would pervert justice!
13Who gave him charge over the earth?
Who else laid out the whole world?
14If he were to take back his spirit,
to withdraw his breath to himself,
15all flesh would perish together
and man would return to dust.
16If you have any intelligence,
listen, Job, hear what I say.
17Can an enemy of justice govern?
Or do you condemn him who is mighty and just,
18who says to kings, “You are worthless,”
and to nobles, “You are wicked,”
19who is impartial to princes
and favors not the rich over the poor,
for they are all his handiwork?
20They die in a moment, even at midnight;
people are shaken and pass away.
Without effort he removes a tyrant.
21His eyes are upon human’s ways,
and he sees their every step.
22For him there is no dense darkness
where evildoers can hide.
23He forewarns no man of his time
to come before God in judgment.
24He shatters the mighty without inquiry,
and sets in his place another strongman.
25Because he knows their evil deeds,
he turns at night and crushes them.
26He punishes them for their wickedness
in a judgment that humans witness.
27For they had turned away from him,
heeded none of his ways,
28and oppressed the poor so much
that their cries of suffering reached him.
29If he remains silent, who stirs him up?
If he hides his face, who can see him?
Yet he watches man and nation alike,
30and restrains those who mislead the people.
31If a wicked man says to God,
“I was misguided but will offend no more.
32Teach me what I do not see;
if I have done wrong, I will do so no more.”
33In such a case, do you think God will punish?
Speak, you who reject his decisions
and think you know more than I do;
tell us what you know.
34Men of understanding,
wise men who hear my views will say to me:
35“Job speaks without knowledge;
his words are without insight.
36Let Job be tried to the utmost
for answering as wicked men do!
37To his sin he adds rebellion
by scornfully brushing off our arguments
and multiplying his words against God.”
It is because they did not call on God
1Elihu continued and said:
2Do you presume you are right
and innocent before God,
3when you say, “What is it to you,
am I doing you harm with my sins?”
4I will answer you and your friends as well.
5Look up to the sky and see,
gaze at the clouds above.
6If you sin, what is that for God?
Do your many offenses hurt him?
7If you are just, what do you give him?
Or what does he receive from your hand?
8It’s a man like yourself that your sin touches,
a son of man that your justice affects.
9People cry out when greatly oppressed;
they plead for relief under the tyrant’s reign.
10But no one says, “Where is God, my Maker,
whose songs of jubilation are heard in the night,
11who teaches us through the beasts of the earth,
who makes us wise through the birds of the air?”
12This is why he does not answer when they cry out:
because of man’s arrogance.
13In vain! God does not listen,
the Almighty takes no heed of it.
14How much less then will he listen
when you say you do not see him and wait,
for your case is before him!
15And you say that though he is angry
he does not know how to punish
for he has taken no notice of wickedness.
16So Job opens his mouth in empty talk,
without knowledge he multiplies words.
God tests humans to correct them
1Elihu proceeded further:
2Bear with me a little and I will explain,
for I have more to say on God’s behalf.
3I will spread my knowledge afar
to do justice to my Maker.
4Be assured that my words are not false,
for you have before you an enlightened man.
5God is mighty indeed
but he does not despise the pure of heart.
6He cuts off the power of the sinner
and restores the right of the oppressed,
7he does not forsake their claim.
He sets kings on their thrones
and makes them firm forever.
But if they raise themselves in pride,
8he has them bound with fetters
and held fast by bonds of affliction.
9Then he tells them what they have done,
all their sins and arrogance.
10He opens their ears to correction
and exhorts them to repentance.
11If they obey and serve him,
they spend their days in prosperity
and their years in contentment.
12But if they do not listen, they go to the grave:
knowledge would have saved them.
13These hypocrites harbor resentment:
they do not pray for help in their bonds,
14therefore they die in their youth
and perish among the reprobate.
15God saves the wretched through their suffering,
God instructs the unfortunate.
16In like manner, he brings you from distress
to a free and broad space,
to a table filled with rich food.
17Then you will judge the wicked;
justice and judgment will be yours.
18Take care lest you be seduced by generosity;
do not yield to arrogance, bribery and corruption.
19Your wealth and all your mighty efforts
will not bail you out of distress.
20Do not long for the coming of night
to drag people away from their homes.
21Beware of turning to iniquity;
because of it you have been tried by affliction.
A hymn to God’s greatness
•22God is exalted in his power.
What teacher is there like him?
23Who has prescribed his ways for him,
or said to him that he has done wrong?
24Remember to extol his work,
of which many have sung.
25Everyone has seen it;
all gaze on it from afar.
26God is great beyond our understanding;
the number of his years is past reckoning.
27He holds in check the waterdrops
which distill from the mist as rain,
28then the clouds pour them down
and drop them upon the earth as showers.
31This is the way he nourishes the land
that provides food in abundance.
29Who can understand how he spreads the clouds,
how he thunders from his pavilion?
30He unfurls his mists
and covers the expanse of the sea.
32With both hands he lifts up lightning
and commands it to strike the target.
33His thunder warns the shepherd
and the flock senses the tempest.
1This is why my heart pounds
and leaps from its place.
2Listen to the thunder of his voice
as it comes rumbling from his mouth.
3Under the heavens, he hurls his lightning,
sending it to the ends of the earth.
4Then comes the sound of God’s roar–
the majestic peal of his thunder.
He does not check his thunderbolts
until his voice has fully resounded.
5God thunders and his voice works marvels;
he does great things we cannot perceive.
6He says to the snow, “Fall on the earth”;
and to the rainshower, “Be a strong downpour.”
7So he keeps people under cover
to let them acknowledge his work.
8Wild beasts go back into their lairs
and remain quietly in their dens.
9The storm comes out from its chamber,
and the cold from the driving winds.
10The breath of God forms ice,
and the broad waters become frozen.
11With thunderbolts he loads the clouds,
and through them scatters his lightning.
12At his direction they do their rounds,
upon the face of the habitable world,
13whether for punishment or mercy as he commands.
14Listen to this, O Job:
pause and consider God’s marvels.
15Do you know how he controls the clouds,
how he makes his lightning flash?
16Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
all these wonders wrought by his perfect knowledge?
17You who swelter in your clothes
when the earth lies still under the south wind,
18can you, like him, spread out the skies,
hard as a mirror of molten bronze?
19Teach us then what we shall say to him;
we cannot draw up our case because of darkness.
20Does it take an angel
to bring this to God’s attention?
21A while ago we could not see the light
and the clouds darkened the sky,
but the storm has just cast them out.
22A blaze comes from the north,
a dreadful glory around God.
23The Almighty is beyond our reach;
exalted in power, great in judgment;
the Master of justice oppresses no one.
24Therefore, people revere him;
the wise are nothing in his sight.
Yahweh answers Job
•1Then Yahweh answered Job out of the storm:
2Who is this that obscures divine plans
with ignorant words?
3Gird up your loins like a man;
I will question you and you must answer.
4Where were you when I founded the earth?
Answer, and show me your knowledge.
5Do you know who determined its size,
who stretched out its measuring line?
6On what were its bases set?
Who laid its cornerstone,
7while the morning stars sang together
and the heavenly beings shouted for joy?
8Who shut the sea behind closed doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
9when I made the clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling clothes;
10when I set its limits
with doors and bars in place,
11when I said, “You will not go beyond these bounds;
here is where your proud waves must halt?”
12Have you ever commanded the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
13that it might grasp the earth by its edges
and shake the wicked out of it,
14when it takes a clay color
and changes its tint like a garment;
15when the wicked are denied their own light,
and their proud arm is shattered?
16Have you journeyed to where the sea begins
or walked in its deepest recesses?
17Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of Shadow?
18Have you an idea of the breadth of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.
19Where is the way to the home of light,
and where does darkness dwell?
20Can you take them to their own regions,
and set them on their homeward paths?
21You know, for you were born before them,
and great is the number of your years!
22Have you entered the storehouse of the snow
or seen the storehouse of the hail,
23which I reserve for times of woe,
for days of war and battle?
24What is the way to the place
where lightning is dispersed,
or the place whence the east wind
begins spreading over the earth?
25Who has cut a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
26to bring rain to no-man’s-land
and to the unpeopled wilderness,
27to enrich the wasted and desolate ground,
to make the desert bloom with green?
28Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
29From whose womb comes the ice,
and who gives birth to the frost from the skies,
30when the waters lie as hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?
31Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades,
or loosen the bonds of Orion?
32Can you guide the morning star in its season,
or lead the Bear with its train?
33Do you know the laws of the heavens,
and can you establish their rule on earth?
34Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and order their waters to pour down?
35Will lightnings flash at your command
and report to you, “Here we are?”
36Who has given the ibis foresight
or endowed the cock with foreknowledge?
37Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?
Who tilts the water jars of heaven
38so that the dust cakes into a mass
and clods of earth stick together?
39Can you hunt the woods to appease
the hunger of the lioness and her whelps,
40as they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in the thicket?
41Who provides prey for the raven
when its young cry out to God
and roam about desperate for food?
1Do you know how mountain goats breed?
Have you observed the hinds in labor,
2numbered the months they must fulfill,
and fixed the time they must give birth?
3Have you watched them end their labor
as they crouch and drop their young,
4how they wait for them to grow,
until they leave never to return?
5Who has given the wild ass his freedom,
and loosed the bonds of the wild donkey?
6I have given him the desert for a home,
the salt plains for a shelter.
7For he scorns the city’s tumult,
and is free of the driver’s shout and insult;
8he prefers the hills for his pasture,
ranging for food in the rich verdure.
9Is the wild ox willing to serve you,
to pass the night by your manger?
10Can you make him work with a plow or harrow
if you provide him with the proper gear?
11Can you rely on his great strength
and leave him to do your heavy work?
12Can you depend on him to come home alone,
carrying your grain to your threshing floor?
13Can the wing of the ostrich be compared
with the plumage of the stork or falcon?
14She lays her eggs on the ground
and lets them warm in the sand,
15not knowing that a foot may step on them
or some wild beast may crush them.
16Cruel to her chicks as if they were not hers,
she cares not that her labor be in vain,
17for God has given her no wisdom
nor a share of good sense.
18Yet in the swiftness of foot,
she makes sport of horse and rider.
19Is it you who give the horse strength
and clothe his neck with splendor,
20who make him leap like a grasshopper
and his proud snorting strike terror?
21Rejoicing in his strength, he fiercely paws
and charges into the fray,
22afraid of nothing, laughing at fear,
not shying away from the sword.
23Against his side rattles the quiver,
along with the lance and flashing spear.
24In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground;
there is no holding him when the trumpets sound.
25He cries “Hurrah!” at each trumpet blast.
He catches the scent of battle from afar,
the shout of commanders and the battle cry.
26Is it by your wisdom that the hawk takes flight
and spreads his wings toward the south?
27Is it at your command that eagles fly
and build their nests on high?
28They dwell on cliffs and spend the night;
their stronghold is the rocky crag.
29From there they look out for food,
which they detect even from afar.
30They and their young feast on blood,
and where the slain lie, there they are.
•1Yahweh said to Job:
2Must a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
Let him who would correct God answer.
4How can I reply, unworthy as I am!
All I can do is put my hand over my mouth.
5I have spoken once, now I will not answer;
oh, yes, twice, but I will do no further.
Yahweh’s discourse continues
6Then Yahweh addressed Job out of the storm:
7Gird up your loins like a man;
I will question you, and you must answer.
8Would you deny my right
and condemn me that you may be justified?
9Have you an arm like that of God,
and can you thunder with a voice like this?
10Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
array yourself with grandeur and majesty.
11Unleash the fury of your wrath;
12look for every proud man and abase him;
crush the wicked where they stand.
13Bury them all in the dust,
lock them in the dungeon.
14If you can do this, I myself will praise you,
admitting that your right hand can save you.
15Just think about Behemoth,
who feeds on grass like the ox.
16What strength he has in his loins,
what power in the muscles of his belly!
17Like a cedar his tail sways,
the sinews of his thighs are like cables.
18 His bones like tubes of bronze,
his limbs like iron rods.
19He is first among the works of God,
created to dominate his companions.
20The mountains give him their produce,
as do all the wild beasts who play there.
21Under the lotus trees he lies,
hidden among the reeds of the marsh.
22The lotus trees cover him with their shade;
the poplar trees on the bank surround him.
23He is not alarmed though the river rages and torrents surge against his mouth.
24Who can capture him by the eyes,
or trap him and pierce his nose?
25Can you pull in Leviathan with a hook,
or curb his tongue with a bit?
26Can you put a ring through his nose
or pierce his jaw with a hook?
27Will he keep begging you for mercy,
or speak to you with tender words?
28Will you make him your slave forever?
29Will you make a pet of him like a bird,
or put him on a leash for your maids?
30Will traders bargain for him?
Will merchants sell him retail?
31Can you fill his hide with harpoons
or his head with fish spears?
32Just try and lay a hand on him—
you will not forget the struggle,
and you will never do it again!
1Any hope of subduing him is vain, for the mere sight of him is overpowering.
2He grows so ferocious when aroused
that no one dares face him.
3Who has attacked him and come off unharmed?
No one under the sky.
4I need hardly mention his limbs, nor
describe his matchless strength.
5Who can strip off his outer garment
and penetrate his double breastplate?
6Who can dare open the gates of his mouth
to confront the terrors of his rows of teeth?
7Rows of scales are on his back—
rows of shields that are tightly sealed.
8So closely fitted are they
that no space intervenes;
9so closely joined
that they hold fast and cannot be parted.
10Light flashes forth when he sneezes;
like the light of dawn are his eyes.
11Flaming torches and sparks of fire flash from his mouth.
12Smoke comes from his nostrils,
like hot steam from a boiling pot.
13His mere breath sets coals afire,
with the flame pouring from his mouth.
14Strength is in his neck,
and terror dances before him.
15Tightly set are the folds of his flesh,
firmly cast and immovable.
16His heart is hard as stone,
as hard as the lower millstone.
17When he rises up, the mighty are terrified,
the waves of the sea fall back.
18Should the sword reach him, it will not pierce him,
nor will the spear, the dart, or the javelin.
19Iron is to him no more than straw;
and bronze, no more than rotten wood.
20Arrows will not put him to flight;
slingstones will be as wisps of hay.
21Clubs are as splinters to him;
he laughs at the whirring javelin.
22His belly is as sharp as pottery sherds;
he moves across the mire like a harrow.
23He churns the depths into a seething caldron;
he makes the sea fume like a burner.
24Behind him he leaves a white gleaming wake,
making the deep appear a hoary head of age.
25He has no equal on earth:
such a horrible creature he was made!
26He makes all, however lofty, afraid;
he is king over all proud beasts.
•1This was the answer Job gave to Yahweh:
2I know that you are all powerful;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.
3bI spoke of things I did not understand,
too wonderful for me to know.
5My ears had heard of you,
but now my eyes have seen you.
6Therefore I retract all I have said,
and in dust and ashes I repent.
The end of Job’s poem
•7After Yahweh had spoken to Job, he turned to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends because you have not spoken of me rightly, as has my servant Job. 8Now, take seven bulls and seven rams, go to my servant Job, offer a holocaust for yourselves and let him pray for you. I will accept his prayer and excuse your folly in not speaking of me properly as my servant Job has done.”
9Then Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as Yahweh had ordered. Yahweh accepted Job’s intercession.
Here ends the traditional story of Job
10After Job had prayed for his friends, Yahweh restored his fortunes, giving him twice as much as he had before. 11All his brothers and sisters and his former friends came to his house and dined with him. They showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that Yahweh had brought to him. Each of them gave him a silver coin and a gold ring.
12Yahweh blessed Job’s latter days much more than his earlier ones. He came to own fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-donkeys. 13He was also blessed with seven sons and three daughters. 14The first daughter he named Dove, the second Cinnamon, and the third Bottle of Perfume. 15Nowhere in the land was there found any woman who could compare in beauty with Job’s daughters. Their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.
16Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17He died old and full of years.
• 1.1 Job lives in a foreign pagan land (Uz would be in the southern part of Palestine) in ancient times. His position is enviable: he is a leader of nomads, somewhat like Abraham, and lacks nothing. Yet he is only a pawn in world politics, or better, in heavenly politics. God holds a council with the heavenly beings, namely, the angels, and looks at things which escape Job. In this case, God is challenged by Satan, the enemy, the spirit who promotes evil, and in spite of himself God has to test Job in order to defend his own honor.
And so, from the very start, humans are put in their place. They are not the center of the world, nor can they demand that God stop the course of history for their sake.
This intervention of Satan is one of the means to which believers spontaneously resort to justify God. Because, in the final analysis, that is where the problem lies. As long as we live without God, no one is responsible for evil except ourselves. If we have good and evil gods, we know whom to blame. If there is only one God, he is responsible for both good and evil and Job’s words in 2:10 also apply to him.
Curse God and die! (2:9) Job’s wife speaks foolishly, with reproaches to God which are always hopeless.
• 2.11 As we remarked in the introduction, this is the beginning of the dialogue on suffering, leaving aside the story of Job, the popular figure who accepted God’s will without arguing as we saw in chapter 2.
• 3.1 Cursed be the day I was born (v. 3). These first verses repeat what Jeremiah said in a moment of despair (see Jer 20:14). God’s friends have at times spoken in the same way, others—less solid—have thought of suicide.
Why is light given to the miserable… whose path has vanished (vv. 20-23)? Why are children born crippled or blind, or destined for an atrocious death? We would be wrong to only think of the marginalized or those crushed by misfortune. It’s in the world where nothing is wanting where people are not desperate, but without hope in the midst of gadgets: it is there where young couples opt for death in not wanting to have children.
In past centuries people were driven by the uncontainable energy of life. They lived and made sacrifices for the survival of their people. Our parents worked and procreated without asking themselves why. When people reach maturity in critical thinking, they need an answer to this question: Why live if, in the end, life leads nowhere?
• 4.1 Eliphaz is a believer. Faced with Job’s grief, he repeats what was commonly said in those days:
– God is just in this life: he rewards the just with health and prosperity.
– If you are sick and abandoned, it is because you have sinned.
Eliphaz is not wrong in recalling that the wicked are afflicted with misfortune and that God’s providence favors his friends. The Bible does state that, as anyone can easily verify. The prophets did not hesitate to repeat to Israel that its difficulties were the consequence of their sins. Deuteronomy also declares this (Dt 30:15-20) and the Book of Judges claims to prove it through historical events (Jdg 2:11-19).
Eliphaz claims he is speaking because of a revelation from God such as many prophets had in their dreams. He is surely pointing out the truth: Can a mortal be just in the eyes of God? Can anyone be pure before God? People complain that life is meaningless, but maybe sin prevents them from seeing its meaning.
Have you seen a guiltless man perish? (v. 7). People of faith understand that God “brings the powerful down and he exalts the humble,” but daily experience often seems to show the opposite. According to the Gospel, wealth can be a negative sign. Eliphaz speaks with such assurance because he has not suffered in his own flesh, nor does he pay enough attention to those who suffer.
• 6.1 Job is bitter towards all these friends who make speeches but do not bring him peace. Now he begs God to let him die before he rebels against him under the pressure of evil (vv. 8-10).
In verses 15-30, Job emphasizes the abyss which separates those who suffer from those who come to console. How many disguises at a patient’s bedside? Those consoling the afflicted want to hide their own confusion before pain and their inability to really lighten suffering. However, the sick person is not fooled and feels more isolated in realizing he or she is not told the truth.
In chapter 7, Job addresses an absent God. Job does not know God–Father and the trial brings out in him suspicions against a jealous God who watches people in order to punish them.
Yet Job’s complaint against God reminds us of the friction between people who love each other, and precisely because they love each other they are more demanding.
What is man that you make much of him (7:17)? If God is watching over his favorite creatures at all times, could it not be because he cannot live without them?
• 9.1 Job is upset before an inaccessible God. The Creator’s greatness does not console the one who suffers without being heard. The misfortune of a single just one distorts creation.
Again, Job not only questions evil, but also the very situation created by human existence with its freedom. The God who made us free persons must also be a Person, and as long as he does not speak to us, his silence may be interpreted as a refusal to dialogue and a proof of indifference toward us.
Can a mortal be just before God (v. 2)? The same question is found in 4:17 and 22:2. This guilt feeling and the opposite feeling of hostility towards God are two sides of the same truth: the human condition is unacceptable as long as God makes people who cannot find him.
If I were innocent, my own mouth would condemn me (v. 20). Job reminds us of those notorious trials where militants, unjustly accused by their own party, come to admit their guilt “spontaneously.” Similarly, many times a single mishap would be enough to make us feel sinful.
In your goodness you gave me life (10:12). Job cannot deny that God is concerned about his creatures, and he remembers the wonders God achieves in the pregnant mother. These attentions only open the way for his demands: gifts coming to us from people above arouse our suspicions more than our gratitude: I know what was in your mind (10:13).
After years without thinking, people begin to reflect and it is then that the absence of the Creator may prepare them for rebellion.
• 12.1 Zophar kept on repeating the arguments of the wise: if you are suffering, you are guilty; mend your ways and you will be healed.
Then Job continues to accuse God. He lists some of the injustices which we see daily. Then, in verses 14-25, he emphasizes that God’s power manifests itself especially in his destructive action. God upsets the fortune of the powerful, distorts the wisdom of the sages, prevents people from being successful, and does not allow their ventures to last. In the midst of a perfect universe, human history has no meaning.
• 13.1 Faced with a meaningless life, human wisdom does not have an adequate answer. So Job accuses these wise men who pretend to justify God while forgetting reality (vv. 1-6). Will you defend God with false inventions (v. 7)? It is better to keep quiet and admit our own ignorance.
This boldness might even save me (v. 16). Job is so convinced that God is just that he wants to force him to break his silence. Perhaps God will make him die because of his boldness but, at least, Job will have had an answer and he will know why he dies (vv. 13-20).
Job’s bold attitude corrects the widespread image of a believer as one who accepts with resignation without trying to understand. Job does not fall down before God like a slave, but rather, being conscious of his dignity in the eyes of his Maker, he asks for an explanation.
• 14.1 Through his personal case, Job presents a general criticism of the human condition, and he does it in a way very similar to Ecclesiastes. He emphasizes the following about human fate:
– life is short;
– sufferings are countless;
– the grace of youth is followed by the bitterness of adult life;
– there is a degree of impurity in humans, namely, something mysterious which ruins everything they undertake;
– when looking at life, they would like to live forever, which is not granted to them.
While Ecclesiastes accepts the universal law, Job dreams of a God who might talk with him and forget, for a time, his superiority (vv. 15-17).
Here we see one of the results of the teaching that God gave his people for centuries. As the Israelites understood better the alliance that linked them with God, they became more human. Whereas their ancestors like Jacob or Moses were resigned to their mortal destiny, they aspired for something better.
• 13. In verses 13-17 Job mentions the place of the dead, or Sheol, or netherworld, where the Jews thought that, after death, they would have some semblance of life, but would be more like prisoners far from Yahweh than like human beings who are alive and praise God (see Is 38:18-19). When someone has been called and loved by God he can no longer accept that he will disappear forever. And if God were to let him survive in a place not close to God, he would always long to reach God: I would wait for my release, You would call and I would answer you.
In chapters 15–18 everyone proceeds without listening to the other: Job expresses his despair and his friends repeat their conviction that misfortunes are for the wicked.
• 16.1 Notice the passage 16:8–17:7 which recalls Isaiah 53 and also the psalms evoking images of the Passion of Christ. When human beings are suffering, they share in the Passion of Christ, whether they know it or not; the confrontation of sin with the justice of God continues in them. God seems merciless in pursuing his creatures, in completely humiliating them, but, in fact, he is removing the roots of our pride.
17:8-10 must be seen as Job’s ironic answer to his friends, “You say that in seeing the wicked’s misfortune, the just praise God’s justice, well then, in seeing me so humiliated, rejoice and say: well done!”
• 19.13 This poem in verses 13-22 deals with the destiny of the elderly and the sick who feel useless, the condition of a fallen man or woman, rejected by society and an object of repulsion for the relatives who can do nothing to help.
Here, halfway through the book, Job again strongly expresses his faith: I know that my Redeemer lives… and in my flesh I shall see God (vv. 25-26).
The very justice of God demands that he speak after all the speakers. God often waits for his servants to die to justify them, but in the end he will come as Redeemer or Liberator: all will see and hear (Wis 5). Such was the hope of the oppressed just of whom the Bible speaks, and of Jesus himself.
In fact, Job himself is not an oppressed person waiting to be liberated. What is more important for him is not to prevail in reasoning with his adversaries, but to see God and hear him (v. 27).
• 21.7 Here, too, we recognize Jeremiah’s complaint in 12:1 and the questions raised in Psalm 73. In the Old Testament the just are scandalized by the prosperity of the wicked, because it seems to deny God’s justice. Is it true, as we sometimes hear, that death is the ultimate justice?
• 22.3 Eliphaz’ speeches are repetitious: if Job suffers, it is because he has sinned. He must have oppressed his neighbor in spite of his reputation for integrity. Yet, note the list of sins that Job might have committed: it is always a matter of oppressing the weak or failing to assist them. Jesus will say nothing new when, in Matthew 25:40 he condemns to eternal punishment those who failed to provide bread and water to those in need.
The commentary on verses 29-30 can be found with Isaiah 2:6-22.
• 23.1 Job comes back to what he had already said: there is something tormenting religious people: to know that God is always looking at us and yet never be able to find him. This was commented for chapter 7: Job personifies those who do not know Christ and have not felt “how good the Lord is towards those who serve him with love.” The same rebellion is found in many atheists today: they reject the idea of a God who watches them only to punish their faults.
• 24.1 A terrible accusation against God who keeps silent when the oppressed are before him. Few prophets expressed the horror of human evil more forcefully.
The poor go into hiding (v. 4). It is a fact that the media has made us more aware of universal misery and, doubtless, we see there a result of the Gospel. It is a fact that this trend has affected also other religions, which have opened up in recent years. Every country hides its poor and the rich are separated so that they rarely meet the poor, and consequently ignore them. That would be nothing if God did not also appear to forget the poor (and accept that his Church so easily forgets to bring them the Gospel).
• 14. This paragraph seems to be out of place here. The God of light allows the presence of dark areas on earth, where the children of darkness are at work.
Paragraph 24:18-23 would be better located after 27:23.
• 25.1 Bildad offers a new presentation of the splendor of the world. The people of that time still had very primitive ideas about the origin of the world. They accepted the legends of neighboring people, the Canaanites and the Chaldeans, who presented the universe as organized by the gods after they had destroyed the monsters of chaos. For centuries, the Jews kept these images; they were satisfied to remove from the legends the references to pagan gods and spoke of a first victory of Yahweh at the beginning of the world. See also Isaiah 51:9.
The first chapter of Genesis was written after these poems. There the notion of God-Creator is purified: God created everything from the beginning and he did so by his word alone.
• 26.5 Paragraph 26:1-4 comes at the end of chapter 26.
• 1. Job remarks ironically: What does all this have to do with the point of the discussion?
• 28.1 This poem marks an interval and a break after Job’s discussion with his friends.
Miners know how to look for hidden treasures inside hills: gold, silver and precious stones. But who will look for God’s wisdom? We find something similar in Baruch 3:15-30.
• 29.1 In chapters 29–31 Job presents his defense and he assumes the role of the just one who is envied and slandered. As long as people are lucky they are esteemed, but if they run into misfortune, everyone suddenly looks at them differently. A secret instinct urges people to find a scapegoat in the midst of misfortune in the community. Inordinate respect returns and envy gives way to persecution.
Paradoxically, it is Job’s defense that shows the flaws in his integrity. I was wearing my honesty like a garment (v. 14). Job was delighted to do good. He was a “just” man, aware of being just and he gave thanks to God who made him good.
All this was nothing more than the justice and the merits of the Pharisee. Very respectful of a distant God, Job built up his life, his virtues and his good self-image alone. In the end, his perfection did not exist in God’s eyes because, without saying so, he made himself God’s rival.
• 30.16 The Book of Job teaches us how much we need the coming of the Son of God. On one hand, as long as God does not present himself openly, we cannot avoid doubting and resenting him. On the other hand, as long as someone feels he alone is responsible for his own perfection, he cannot feel as a child of God does nor come into the reign of grace.
• 31.1 Job looks at his behavior according to the law of God as it is presented in many pages of the Old Testament: a law of goodness and honesty centered on concern for one’s neighbor. In a world with a very modest standard of living, those lucky enough not to lack anything had the obligation of sharing with the less fortunate. The most serious sin was the lack of social solidarity.
In Job’s examination of conscience the sin of idolatry appears (vv. 26-28). This, however, plays a minor role.
• 32.1 The intervention of Elihu marks the beginning of a new part of the poems, inserted later and placed in chapters 32–37.
Elihu’s discourses add little to previous discussion. Elihu has nevertheless his point of view. It seems that for him the discussion so far has been rather theoretical. For one part he insists on the pedagogical aspect of the divine work: many situations which seem unjust to us cease to be so provided we go beyond our first impressions. He also holds that even if God does not show himself, he knows how to communicate his counsels:
– You ask where your faults are, but perhaps God has warned you in a thousand ways and you have not taken it into account (33:13-18).
– You despair in your illness, but perhaps God wants to teach you: you did not invoke him when all was going well (35:8-13).
Elihu senses that there is something false in Job’s righteousness, but he does not know what it is. He looks for secret sins that Job might have committed. The fact is that what Job lacks is evangelical justice which is the humble love of God.
• 33.1 Elihu says to Job: you think you are innocent, but surely you have not paid attention to God’s warnings. In spite of the fact that God cannot be reached by humans, he communicates through dreams, inspirations, encounters. God also corrects by way of the advice of other people who are his messengers, called here “angels,” “mediators.” We know that angel means messenger. The very one who complains about God fails to see, to listen and to accept the messages God sends through the reprimands and advice given us by others who correct us in a loving way.
Elihu shows how trials are a lesson in humility for all (36:1-21).
• 36.22 This second poem on the greatness of God concludes Elihu’s speeches just as the poem of the miners concluded the discourses of Job’s three friends.
• 38.1 Yahweh answers Job from within the storm clouds, as on Mount Sinai. He does not explain or justify; rather he does the questioning. He does not show off his own wisdom, but forces humans to admit that they do not know anything.
Here the author seems to be digressing somewhat from his theme. Carried away by his admiration, he forgets that, first of all he intended to show us God exceeds our ability to understand and to judge. What do our protests and scandals mean: “if God existed…” They are mere childishness, idle words of those who have no idea of what the word “God” encompasses. If the entire universe is just the expression or the irradiation of divine Wisdom, who will dare tell God that his way is not reasonable?
• 40.1 In questioning Job, Yahweh gets and gives us a few seconds of rest before beginning his second discourse in chapters 40–41.
In chapter 40, Behemoth or the hippopotamus appears, enormous, terrible and ugly, eating only plants. Leviathan, the crocodile whose skin resists arrows just like armor. What a pleasure to find in a few pages of the Bible a poetic expression of the beauty of creation. For centuries prophets and priests had to protect Israel from the seduction of nature. Everywhere around them, the wonders of creation gave rise to the worship of natural forces. When the Jews became firmer in their fidelity to God—the Creator of nature but not identified with it—it became possible to sing the praise of nature.
• 42.1 Here we have the conclusion of the long dialogues in this book.
Now my eyes have seen you (v. 5). Job’s questions about suffering and death have not been answered, but now we realize that it was not essential. God has responded. God has revealed himself and Job has begun to live as someone who has been miraculously freed from his loneliness. The words addressed by God to him seem reproachful, but Job feels better off with a thousand reproaches than with nothing.
What Job needed was not a revelation, since God gave him intelligence to investigate these human questions. What he lacked was to see God, and this is the great yearning of the entire Bible: “Show us your face and we will be saved” (Ps 80:8).
• Verses 3a and 4 which read, “You asked: Who obscures divine plans with ignorance? You said: Listen and I will speak and question you, and you must answer,” were probably added.
• 7. In the last paragraph (42:10-17) we have the conclusion of the popular story of the holy man Job, begun in 1:1–2:13 (see Introduction). Since he preserved his trust, it was rewarded in the end by the just God.
On the contrary, in verses 7-9, we have a difficult merging between this submissive holy man Job and the other character who occupied most of the book, namely, the Job who argues with God. God prefers Job to his friends who consider themselves more religious because they cover up the scandals of existence and the obscurities of faith.
Job is the example of a Christian who courageously looks for an answer to today’s problems: my servant Job has spoken properly of me.