BOOK ENDS. Seraphim, April 2009.
JB JOB Chapter 1
Satan tests Job
1:1 There was once a man in the land of Uz[*a] called Job: a sound and honest man who feared God and shunned evil.
1:2 Seven sons and three daughters were born to him.
1:3 And he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred she-donkeys, and many servants besides. This man was indeed a man of mark among all the people of the East.[*b]
1:4 It was the custom of his sons to hold banquets in each other’s houses, one after the other, and to send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.
1:5 Once each series of banquets was over, Job would send for them to come and be purified, and at dawn on the following day he would offer a holocaust for each of them. ‘Perhaps’ Job would say ‘my sons have sinned and in their hearts affronted God.’ So that was what he used to do after each series.
1:6 One day the Sons of God[*c] came to attend on Yahweh, and among them was Satan.
1:7 So Yahweh said to Satan, ‘Where have you been?’ ‘Round the earth, ‘he answered ‘roaming about.’
1:8 So Yahweh asked him, ‘Did you notice my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth: a sound and honest man who fears God and shuns evil.’
1:9 ‘Yes,’ Satan said ‘but Job is not God-fearing for nothing, is he?
1:10 Have you not put a wall round him and his house and all his domain? You have blessed all he undertakes, and his flocks throng the countryside.
1:11 But stretch out your hand and lay a finger on his possessions: I warrant you, he will curse you to your face.’
1:12 ‘Very well,’ Yahweh said to Satan ‘all he has is in your power. But keep your hands off his person.’ So Satan left the presence of Yahweh.
1:13 On the day when Job’s sons and daughters were at their meal and drinking wine at their eldest brother’s house,
1:14 a messenger came to Job. ‘Your oxen’ he said ‘were at the plough, with the donkeys grazing at their side,
1:15 when the Sabaeans[*d] swept down on them and carried them off. Your servants they put to the sword: I alone escaped to tell you.’
1:16 He had not finished speaking when another messenger arrived. ‘The fire of God’ he said ‘has fallen from the heavens and burnt up all your sheep, and your shepherds too: I alone escaped to tell you.’
1:17 He had not finished speaking when another messenger arrived. ‘The Chaldaeans,’ he said ‘three bands of them, have raided your camels and made off with them. Your servants they put to the sword: I alone escaped to tell you.’
1:18 He had not finished speaking when another messenger arrived. ‘Your sons and daughters’ he said ‘were at their meal and drinking wine at their eldest brother’s house,
1:19 when suddenly from the wilderness a gale sprang up, and it battered all four corners of the house which fell in on the young people. They are dead: I alone escaped to tell you.’
1:20 Job rose and tore his gown and shaved his head.[*e] Then falling to the ground he worshipped
1:21 and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I shall return. Yahweh gave, Yahweh has taken back. Blessed be the name of Yahweh!’
1:22 In all this misfortune Job committed no sin nor offered any insult to God.
JB JOB Chapter 2
2:1 Once again the Sons of God came to attend on Yahweh, and among them was Satan.
2:2 So Yahweh said to Satan, ‘Where have you been?’ ‘Round the earth’, he answered ‘roaming about.’
2:3 So Yahweh asked him, ‘Did you notice my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth: a sound and honest man who fears God and shuns evil. His life continues blameless as ever; in vain you provoked me to ruin him.’
2:4 ‘Skin for skin!’ Satan replied. ‘A man will give away all he has to save his life.
2:5 But stretch out your hand and lay a finger on his bone and flesh; I warrant you, he will curse you to your face.’
2:6 ‘Very well,’ Yahweh said to Satan ‘he is in your power. But spare his life.’
2:7 So Satan left the presence of Yahweh. He struck Job down with malignant ulcers from the sole of his foot to the top of his head.
2:8 Job took a piece of pot to scrape himself, and went and sat in the ashpit.
2:9 Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you now still mean to persist in your blamelessness? Curse God, and die.’
2:10 ‘That is how foolish women talk’ Job replied. ‘If we take happiness from God’s hand, must we not take sorrow too?’ And in all this misfortune Job uttered no sinful word.
2:11 The news of all the disasters that had fallen on Job came to the ears of three of his friends. Each of them set out from home – Eliphaz of Teman, Bildad of Shuah and Zophar of Naamath[*a] – and by common consent they decided to go and offer him sympathy and consolation.
2:12 Looking at him from a distance, they could not recognise him; they wept aloud and tore their garments and threw dust over their heads.
2:13 They sat there on the ground beside him for seven days and seven nights. To Job they spoke never a word, so sad a sight he made.
JB JOB Chapter 3
- THE DIALOGUE
- FIRST SERIES OF SPEECHES
Job curses the day of his birth
3:1 In the end it was Job who broke the silence and cursed the day of his birth.
3:2 This is what he said:
3:3 May the day perish when I was born, and the night that told of a boy conceived.
3:4 May that day be darkness, may God on high have no thought for it, may no light shine on it.
3:5 May murk and deep shadow claim it for their own, clouds hang over it, eclipse swoop down on it.
3:6 Yes, let the dark lay hold of it, to the days of the year let it not be joined, into the reckoning of months not find its way.
3:7 May that night be dismal, no shout of joy come near it.
3:8 Let them curse it who curse the day, who are prepared to rouse Leviathan.[*a]
3:9 Dark be the stars of its morning, let it wait in vain for light and never see the opening eyes of dawn.
3:10 Since it would not shut the doors of the womb on me to hide sorrow from my eyes.
3:11 Why did I not die new-born, not perish as I left the womb?
3:12 Why were there two knees to receive me, two breasts for me to suck?
3:13 Had there not been, I should now be lying in peace, wrapped in a restful slumber,
3:14 with the kings and high viziers of earth who build themselves vast vaults,
3:15 or with princes who have gold to spare and houses crammed with silver.
3:16 Or put away like a still-born child that never came to be, like unborn babes that never see the light.
3:17 Down there,[*b] bad men bustle no more, there the weary rest.
3:18 Prisoners, all left in peace, hear no more the shouts of the gaoler.
3:19 Down there, high and low are all one, and the slave is free of his master.
3:20 Why give light to a man of grief? Why give life to those bitter of heart,
3:21 who long for a death that never comes, and hunt for it more than for a buried treasure?
3:23 They would be glad to see the grave-mound and shout with joy if they reached the tomb.
3:24 Why make this gift of light to a man who does not see his way, whom God baulks on every side?
3:25 My only food is sighs, and my groans pour out like water.
3:26 Whatever I fear comes true, whatever I dread befalls me.
3:27 For me, there is no calm, no peace; my torments banish rest.
JB JOB Chapter 4
Confidence in God
4:1 Eliphaz of Teman spoke next. He said:
4:2 If one should address a word to you, will you endure it? Yet who can keep silent?
4:3 Many another, once, you schooled, giving strength to feeble hands;
4:4 your words set right whoever wavered, and strengthened every failing knee.
4:5 And now your turn has come, and you lose patience too; now it touches you, and you are overwhelmed.
4:6 Does not your piety give you confidence, your blameless life not give you hope?
4:7 Can you recall a guiltless man that perished, or have you ever seen good men brought to nothing?
4:8 I speak of what I know: those who plough iniquity and sow the seeds of grief reap a harvest of the same kind.
4:9 A breath from God will bring them to destruction, a blast of his anger will wipe them out.
4:10 The lion’s roar, his savage growls, like the fangs of lion cubs are broken off.
4:11 For lack of prey the lion dies at last, and the whelps of his lioness are scattered.
4:12 Now, I have had a secret revelation, a whisper has come to my ears.
4:13 At the hour when dreams master the mind, and slumber lies heavy on man,
4:14 a shiver of horror ran through me, and my bones quaked with fear.
4:15 A breath slid over my face, the hairs of my body bristled.
4:16 Someone stood there – I could not see his face, but the form remained before me. Silence – and then I heard a Voice,
4:17 ‘Was ever any man found blameless in the presence of God, or faultless in the presence of his Maker?
4:18 In his own servants, God puts no trust, and even with his angels he has fault to find.
4:19 What then of those who live in houses of clay, who are founded on dust? They are crushed as easily as a moth,
4:20 one day is enough to grind them to powder. They vanish for ever, and no one remembers them.
4:21 Their tent-peg is snatched from them, and they die for lack of wisdom.’
JB JOB Chapter 5
5:1 Make your appeal then. Will you find an answer? To which of the Holy Ones will you turn?
5:2 Resentment kills the senseless, and anger brings death to the fool.
5:3 I myself have seen how such a one took root, until a swift curse fell on his House.
5:4 His sons at a single blow lose their prop and stay, ruined at the gate[*a] with no one to defend them;
5:5 their harvest goes to feed the hungry, God snatches it from their mouths, and thirsty men hanker after their goods.
5:6 Grief does not grow out of the earth, nor sorrow spring from the ground.
5:7 It is man who breeds trouble for himself as surely as eagles fly to the height.
5:8 If I were as you are, I should appeal to God, and lay my case before him.
5:9 His works are great, past all reckoning, marvels, beyond all counting.
5:10 He sends down rain to the earth, pours down water on the field.
5:11 If his will is to rescue the downcast, or raise the afflicted to the heights of joy,
5:12 he wrecks the plans of the artful, and brings to naught their intrigues.
5:13 He traps the crafty in the snare of their own shrewdness, turns subtle counsellors to idiots.
5:14 In daylight they come against darkness, and grope their way as if noon were night.
5:15 He rescues the bankrupt from their jaws, and the poor man from the hands of the violent.
5:16 Thus the wretched can hope again and wickedness must shut its mouth.
5:17 Happy indeed the man whom God corrects! Then do not refuse this lesson from Shaddai.[*b]
5:18 For he who wounds is he who soothes the sore, and the hand that hurts is the hand that heals.
5:19 Six times he will deliver you from sorrow, and the seventh, evil shall not touch you.
5:20 In time of famine, he will save you from death, and in wartime from the stroke of the sword.
5:21 You shall be safe from the lash of the tongue, and see the approach of the brigand without fear.
5:22 You shall laugh at drought and frost, and have no fear of the beasts of the earth.
5:23 You shall have a pact with the stones of the field, and live in amity with wild beasts.
5:24 You shall find your tent secure, and your sheepfold untouched when you come.
5:25 You shall see your descendants multiply, your offspring grow like the grass in the fields.
5:26 In ripe age you shall go to the grave, like a wheatsheaf stacked in due season.
5:27 All this, we have observed: it is true. Heed it, and do so to your profit.
JB JOB Chapter 6
Only the sufferer knows his own grief
6:1 Job spoke next. He said:
6:2 If only my misery could be weighed, and all my ills be put on the scales!
6:3 But they outweigh the sands of the seas: what wonder then if my words are wild?
6:4 The arrows of Shaddai stick fast in me, my spirit absorbs their poison, God’s terrors stand against me in array.
6:5 Does a wild donkey bray when it finds soft grass, or an ox ever low when its fodder is in reach?
6:6 Can tasteless food be taken without salt, or is there flavour in the white of an egg?
6:7 The very dishes which I cannot stomach, these are my diet in my sickness.
6:8 Oh may my prayer find fulfilment, may God grant me my hope!
6:9 May it please God to crush me, to give his hand free play and do away with me!
6:10 This thought, at least, would give me comfort (a thrill of joy in unrelenting pain), that I had not denied the Holy One’s decrees.
6:11 But have I the strength to go on waiting? What use is life to me, when doomed to certain death?
6:12 Is mine the strength of stone, or is my flesh bronze?
6:13 Can any power be found within myself, has not all help deserted me?
6:14 Grudge pity to a neighbour, and you forsake the fear of Shaddai.
6:15 My brothers have been fickle as a torrent, as the course of a seasonal stream.
6:16 Ice is the food of their dark waters, they swell with the thawing of the snow;
6:17 but in the hot season they dry up, with summer’s heat they vanish.
6:18 Caravans leave the trail to find them, go deep into desert, and are lost.
6:19 The caravans of Tema look to them, and on them Sheba’s convoys build their hopes.
6:20 Their trust proves vain, they reach them only to be thwarted.
6:21 So, at this time, do you behave to me: one sight of me, and then you flee in fright.
6:22 Have I said to you, ‘Give me this or that, bribe someone for me at your own cost,
6:23 snatch me from the clutches of an enemy, or ransom me from a tyrant’s hand’?
6:24 Put me right, and I will say no more; show me where I have been at fault.
6:25 Fair comment can be borne without resentment, but what is the basis for your strictures?
6:26 Do you think mere words deserve censure, desperate speech that the wind blows away?
6:27 Soon you will be casting lots for an orphan, and selling your friend at bargain prices!
6:28 Come, I beg you, look at me: as man to man, I will not lie.
6:29 Relent, and grant me justice; relent, my case is not yet tried.
6:30 Is falsehood to be found on my lips? Cannot my palate tell the taste of misfortune?
JB JOB Chapter 7
7:1 Is not man’s life on earth nothing more than pressed service, his time no better than hired drudgery?
7:2 Like the slave, sighing for the shade, or the workman with no thought but his wages,
7:3 months of delusion I have assigned to me, nothing for my own but nights of grief.
7:4 Lying in bed I wonder, ‘When will it be day?’ Risen I think, ‘How slowly evening comes!’ Restlessly I fret till twilight falls.
7:5 Vermin cover my flesh, and loathsome scabs; my skin is cracked and oozes pus.
7:6 Swifter than a weaver’s shuttle my days have passed, and vanished, leaving no hope behind.
7:7 Remember that my life is but a breath, and that my eyes will never again see joy.
7:8 The eye that once saw me will look on me no more, your eyes will turn my way, and I shall not be there.
7:9 As a cloud dissolves and is gone, so he who goes down to Sheol never ascends again.
7:10 He never comes home again, and his house knows him no more.
7:11 No wonder then if I cannot keep silence; in the anguish of my spirit I must speak, lament in the bitterness of my soul.
7:12 Am I the Sea, or the Wild Sea Beast,[*a] that you should keep me under watch and guard?
7:13 If I say, ‘My bed will comfort me, my couch will soothe my pain’,
7:14 you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions.
7:15 Strangling I would welcome rather, and death itself, than these my sufferings.
7:16 I waste away, my life is not unending; leave me then, for my days are but a breath.
7:17 What is man that you should make so much of him, subjecting him to your scrutiny,
7:18 that morning after morning you should examine him and at every instant test him?
7:19 Will you never take your eyes off me long enough for me to swallow my spittle?
7:20 Suppose I have sinned, what have I done to you, you tireless watcher of mankind? Why do you choose me as your target? Why should I be a burden to you?
7:21 Can you not tolerate my sin, nor overlook my fault? It will not be long before I lie in earth; then you will look for me, but I shall be no more.
JB JOB Chapter 8
The unswerving course of God’s justice
8:1 Bildad of Shuah spoke next. He said:
8:2 Is there no end to these words of yours, to your long-winded blustering?
8:3 Can God deflect the course of right or Shaddai falsify justice?
8:4 If your sons sinned against him, they have paid for their sins;
8:6a so you too, if so pure and honest,
8:5 must now seek God, plead with Shaddai.
8:6b Without delay he will restore his favour to you, will see that the good man’s house is rebuilt.
8:7 Your former state will seem to you as nothing beside your new prosperity.
8:8 Question the generation that has passed, meditate on the experience of its fathers.
8:9 We sons of yesterday know nothing; our life on earth passes like a shadow.
8:10 But they will teach you, they will tell you, and these are the words they will speak from the heart,
8:11 ‘Does papyrus flourish, except in marshes? Without water, can the rushes grow?
8:12 Pluck them even at their freshest: fastest of all plants they wither.
8:13 Such is the fate of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless man.
8:14 His trust is only a thread, his assurance a spider’s web.
8:15 Let him lean on his house; it will not stand firm; cling to it, it will not hold.
8:16 Like some lush plant in the sunlight, he sprouted his early shoots over the garden;
8:17 but his roots were twined in a heap of stones, he drew his life among the rocks.
8:18 Snatch him from his bed, and it denies it ever saw him.
8:19 Now he rots on the roadside, and from that soil spring others.
8:20 Believe me, God neither spurns a stainless man, nor lends his aid to the evil.
8:21 Once again your cheeks will fill with laughter, from your lips will break a cry of joy.
8:22 Your enemies shall be covered with shame, and the tent of the wicked folk shall vanish.’
JB JOB Chapter 9
God’s justice is above all law
9:1 Job spoke next. He said:
9:2 Indeed, I know it is as you say: how can man be in the right against God?
9:3 If any were so rash as to challenge him for reasons, one in a thousand would be more than they could answer.
9:4 His heart is wise, and his strength is great: who then can successfully defy him?
9:5 He moves the mountains, though they do not know it; he throws them down when he is angry.
9:6 He shakes the earth, and moves it from its place, making all its pillars tremble.
9:7 The sun, at his command, forbears to rise, and on the stars he sets a seal.
9:8 He and no other stretched out the skies, and trampled the Sea’s tall waves.
9:9 The Bear, Orion too, are of his making, the Pleiades and the Mansions of the South.
9:10 His works are great, beyond all reckoning, his marvels, past all counting.
9:11 Were he to pass me, I should not see him, nor detect his stealthy movement.
9:12 Were he to snatch a prize, who could prevent him, or dare to say, ‘What are you doing?’
9:13 God never goes back on his anger, Rahab’s minions still lie at his feet.[*a]
9:14 How dare I plead my cause, then, or choose arguments against him?
9:15 Suppose I am in the right, what use is my defence? For he whom I must sue is judge as well.
9:16 If he deigned to answer my citation, could I be sure that he would listen to my voice?
9:17 He, who for one hair crushes me, who, for no reason, wounds and wounds again,
9:18 leaving me not a moment to draw breath, with so much bitterness he fills me.
9:19 Shall I try force? Look how strong he is! Or go to court? But who will summon him?
9:20 Though I think myself right, his mouth may condemn me; though I count myself innocent, it may declare me a hypocrite.
9:21 But am I innocent after all? Not even I know that, and, as for my life, I find it hateful.
9:22 It is all one, and this I dare to say: innocent and guilty, he destroys all alike.
9:23 When a sudden deadly scourge descends, he laughs at the plight of the innocent.
9:24 When a country falls into a tyrant’s hand, it is he who blindfolds the judges. Or if not he, who else?
9:25 My days run hurrying by, seeing no happiness in their flight,
9:26 skimming along like a reed canoe, or the flight of an eagle after its prey.
9:27 If I resolve to stifle my moans, change countenance, and wear a smiling face,
9:28 fear comes over me, at the thought of all I suffer, for such, I know, is not your treatment of the innocent.
9:29 And if I am guilty, why should I put myself to useless trouble?
9:30 No use to wash myself with snow, or bleach my hands pure white;
9:31 for you will plunge me in dung until my very clothes recoil from me.
9:32 Yes, I am man, and he is not; and so no argument, no suit between the two of us is possible.
9:33 There is no arbiter between us, to lay his hand on both,
9:34 to stay his rod from me, or keep away his daunting terrors.
9:35 Nonetheless, I shall speak, not fearing him: I do not see myself like that at all.
JB JOB Chapter 10
10:1 Since I have lost all taste for life, I will give free rein to my complaints; I shall let my embittered soul speak out.
10:2 I shall say to God, ‘Do not condemn me, but tell me the reason for your assault.
10:3 Is it right for you to injure me, cheapening the work of your own hands and abetting the schemes of the wicked?
10:4 Have you got human eyes, do you see as mankind sees?
10:5 Is your life mortal like man’s, do your years pass as men’s days pass?
10:6 You, who inquire into my fault, and investigate my sins,
10:7 you know very well that I am innocent, and that no one can rescue me from your hand.
10:8 Your own hands shaped me, modelled me; and would you now have second thoughts and destroy me?
10:9 You modelled me remember, as clay is modelled, and would you reduce me now to dust?
10:10 Did you not pour me out like milk, and curdle me then like cheese;[*a]
10:11 clothe me with skin and flesh, and weave me of bone and sinew?
10:12 And then you endowed me with life, watched each breath of mine with tender care.
10:13 Yet, after all, you were dissembling; biding your time, I know,
10:14 to mark if I should sin and to let no fault of mine go uncensured.
10:15 Woe to me, if I am guilty if I am innocent, I dare not lift my head, so wholly abject, so drunk with pain am I.
10:16 And if I make a stand, like a lion you hunt me down, adding to the tale of your triumphs.
10:17 You attack, and attack me again, with stroke on stroke of your fury, relentlessly your fresh troops assail me.
10:18 ‘Why did you bring me out of the womb? I should have perished then, unseen by any eye,
10:19 a being that had never been, to be carried from womb to grave.
10:20 The days of my life are few enough: turn your eyes away, leave me a little joy,
10:21 before I go to the place of no return, the land of murk and deep shadow,
10:22 where dimness and disorder hold sway, and light itself is like the dead of night.’
JB JOB Chapter 11
Job must acknowledge God’s wisdom
11:1 Zophar of Naamath spoke next. He said:
11:2 Is babbling to go without an answer? Is wordiness in man a proof of right?
11:3 Do you think your talking strikes men dumb, will you jeer with no one to refute you?
11:4 These were your words, ‘My way of life is faultless, and all your eyes I am free from blame’.
11:5 But if God had a mind to speak, to open his lips and give you answer,
11:6 were he to show you the secrets of wisdom which put all cleverness to shame – you would know it is for sin he calls you to account.
11:7 Can you claim to grasp the mystery of God, to understand the perfection of Shaddai?
11:8 It is higher than the heavens: what can you do? It is deeper than Sheol: what can you know?
11:9 Its length is longer than the earth, its breadth is broader than the sea.
11:10 If he passes, who can stop him, or make him yield once he has seized?
11:11 For he detects the worthlessness in man, he sees iniquity and marks it well.
11:12 And so the idiot grows wise, thus a young wild donkey grows tame.
11:13 Come, you must set your heart right, stretch out your hands to him.
11:14 Renounce the iniquity that stains your hands, let no injustice live within your tents.
11:15 Then you may face the world in innocence, unwavering and free from fear.
11:16 You will forget your sufferings, remember them as waters that have passed away.
11:17 Your life, more radiant than the noonday, will make a dawn of darkness.
11:18 Full of hope, you will live secure, dwelling well and safely guarded.
11:19 No one will dare disturb you, and many a man will seek your favour.
11:20 But the wicked will look round with weary eyes, and finding no escape, the only hope they have is life’s last breath.
JB JOB Chapter 12
God’s wisdom is best seen in the dreadful works of his omnipotence
12:1 Job spoke next. He said:
12:2 Doubtless, you are the voice of the people, and when you die, wisdom will die with you!
12:3 I can reflect as deeply as ever you can, I am no way inferior to you. And who, for that matter, has not observed as much?
12:4 A man becomes a laughing-stock to his friends if he cries to God and expects an answer. The blameless innocent incurs only mockery.
12:5 ‘Add insult to injury,’ think the prosperous ‘strike the man now that he is staggering!’
12:6 And yet, the tents of brigands are left in peace, and those who challenge God live in safety, and make a god of their two fists!
12:7 If you would learn more, ask the cattle, seek information from the birds of the air.
12:8 The creeping things of earth will give you lessons, and the fishes of the sea will tell you all.
12:9 There is not one such creature but will know this state of things is all of God’s own making.
12:10 He holds in his power the soul of every living thing, and the breath of each man’s body.
12:11 The ear is a judge of speeches, is it not, just as the palate can tell one food from another?
12:12 Wisdom is found in the old, and discretion comes with great age.
12:13 But in him there is wisdom, and power too, and decision no less than discretion.
12:14 What he destroys, none can rebuild; whom he imprisons, none can release.
12:15 Is there a drought? He has checked the waters. Do these play havoc with the earth? He has let them loose
12:16 In him is strength, in him resourcefulness, beguiler and beguiled alike are both his slaves
12:17 He robs the country’s counsellors of their wits, turns judges into fools.
12:18 His hands untie the belt of kings, and bind a rope around their loins.
12:19 He makes priests walk barefoot, and overthrows the powers that are established.
12:20 He strikes the cleverest speakers dumb, and robs old men of their discretion.
12:21 He pours contempt on the nobly born, and unties the girdle of the strong
12:22 He robs the depths of their darkness, brings deep shadow to the light.
12:23 He builds a nation up, then strikes it down, or makes a people grow, and then destroys it.
12:24 He strips a country’s leaders of their judgement, and leaves them to wander in a trackless waste,
12:25 to grope about in unlit darkness, and totter like a man in liquor.
JB JOB Chapter 13
13:1 I have seen all this with my own eyes, heard with my own ears, and understood.
13:2 Whatever you know, I know too; I am no way inferior to you.
13:3 But my words are intended for Shaddai; I mean to remonstrate with God.
13:4 As for you, you are only charlatans, physicians in your own estimation.
13:5 I wish someone would teach you to be quiet – the only wisdom that becomes you!
13:6 Kindly listen to my accusation, pay attention to the pleading of my lips.
13:7 Will you plead God’s defence with prevarication, his case in terms that ring false?
13:8 Will you be partial in his favour, and act as his advocates?
13:9 For you to meet his scrutiny, would this be well? Can he be duped as men are duped?
13:10 Harsh rebuke you would receive from him for your covert partiality.
13:11 Does his majesty not affright you, dread of him not fall on you?
13:12 Your old maxims are proverbs of ash, your retorts, retorts of clay.
13:13 Silence! Now I will do the talking, whatever may befall me.
13:14 I put my flesh between my teeth, I take my life in my hands.
13:15 Let him kill me if he will; I have no other hope than to justify my conduct in his eyes.
13:16 This very boldness gives promise of my release, since no godless man would dare appear before him.
13:17 Listen carefully to my words, and lend your ears to what I have to say.
13:18 You shall see, I will proceed by due form of law, persuaded, as I am, that I am guiltless.
13:19 Who comes against me with an accusation? Let him come! I am ready to be silenced and to die.
13:20 But grant me these two favours: if not, I shall not dare to confront you.
13:21 Take your hand away, which lies so heavy on me, no longer make me cower from your terror.
13:22 Then arraign me, and I will reply; or rather, I will speak and you shall answer me.
13:23 How many faults and crimes have I committed? What law have I transgressed, or in what have I offended?
13:24 Why do you hide your face and look on me as your enemy?
13:25 Will you intimidate a wind-blown leaf, will you chase the dried-up chaff;
13:26 you list bitter accusations against me, taxing me with the faults of my youth,
13:27 after putting my feet in the stocks, watching my every step, and measuring my footprints;
13:28 while my life is crumbling like rotten wood, or a moth-eaten garment.
JB JOB Chapter 14
14:1 Man, born of woman, has a short life yet has his fill of sorrow.
14:2 He blossoms, and he withers, like a flower; fleeting as a shadow, transient.
14:3 And is this what you deign to turn your gaze on, him that you would bring before you to be judged?
14:4 Who can bring the clean out of the unclean? No man alive!
14:5 Since man’s days are measured out, since his tale of months depends on you, since you assign him bounds he cannot pass,
14:6 turn your eyes from him, leave him alone, like a hired drudge, to finish his day.
14:7 There is always hope for a tree: when felled, it can start its life again; its shoots continue to sprout.
14:8 Its roots may be decayed in the earth, its stump withering in the soil,
14:9 but let it scent the water, and it buds, and puts out branches like a plant new set.
14:10 But man? He dies, and lifeless he remains; man breathes his last, and then where is he?
14:11 The waters of the seas may disappear, all the rivers may run dry or drain away;
14:12 but man, once in his resting place, will never rise again. The heavens will wear away before he wakes before he rises from his sleep.
14:13 If only you would hide me in Sheol, and shelter me there until your anger is past, fixing a certain day for calling me to mind –
14:14 for once a man is dead can he come back to life? day after day of my service I would wait for my relief to come.
14:15 Then you would call, and I should answer, you would want to see the work of your hands once more.
14:16 Now you count every step I take, but then you would cease to spy on my sins;
14:17 you would seal up my crime in a bag, and whiten my fault over.
14:18 But no! Soon or late the mountain falls, the rock moves from its place,
14:19 water wears away the stones, the cloudburst erodes the soil; just so do you destroy man’s hope.
14:20 You crush him once for all, and he is gone; you mar him, and then you bid him go.
14:21 Let his sons achieve honour, he does not know of it, humiliation, he gives it not a thought.
14:22 He feels no pain for anything but his own body, makes no lament, save for his own life.
JB JOB Chapter 15
- SECOND SERIES OF SPEECHES
Job’s own words condemn him
15:1 Eliphaz of Teman spoke next. He said:
15:2 Does a wise man answer with airy reasonings, or feed himself on an east wind?
15:3 Does he defend himself with empty talk and ineffectual wordiness?
15:4 You do worse: you flout piety, you repudiate meditation in God’s presence.
15:5 A guilty conscience prompts your words, you adopt the language of the cunning.
15:6 Your own mouth condemns you, and not I; your own lips bear witness against you.
15:7 Are you the first-born of the human race, brought into the world before the hills?
15:8 Have you been a listener at God’s council, or established a monopoly of wisdom?
15:9 What knowledge have you that we have not, what understanding that is not ours too?
15:10 A grey-haired man, and an ancient, are of our number; these have seen more summers than your father.
15:11 Do you scorn the comfort that God gives, and the moderation we have used in speaking?
15:12 See how passion carries you away! How evil you look,
15:13 when you thus loose your anger on God and utter speeches such as these!
15:14 How can any man be clean? Born of woman, can he ever be good?
15:15 In his own Holy Ones God puts no trust, and the heavens themselves are not, in his eyes, clean.
15:16 Then how much less this hateful, corrupt thing, mankind, that drinks iniquity like water!
15:17 Listen to me, I have a lesson for you: I will tell you of my own experience,
15:18 and of the teaching of the sages, those faithful guardians of the tradition of their fathers,
15:19 to whom alone the land was given, with never a foreigner to mix with them.
15:20 The life of the wicked is unceasing torment, the years allotted to the tyrant are numbered.
15:21 The danger signal ever echoes in his ear, in the midst of peace the marauder swoops on him.
15:22 He has no hope of fleeing from the darkness, but knows that he is destined for the sword,
15:23 marked down as meat for the vulture. He knows that his ruin is at hand.
15:24 The hour of darkness makes him terrified; distress and anguish close in on him, as though some king were mounting an attack.
15:25 He raised his hand against God, he ventured to defy Shaddai.
15:26 Blindly he bore down on him from behind his massive shield.
15:27 His face had grown full and fat, and his thighs too heavy with flesh.
15:28 He had taken possession of ruined towns and made his dwelling in deserted houses.
15:29 But all his careful building will go once more to ruin; not for him increase of wealth, his riches will not last, no longer will he cast his shadow over the land.
15:30 A flame will wither up his tender buds; the wind will carry off his blossom.
15:31 But he should not trust in his great stature, if he would not trust in vain.
15:32 His boughs will wither before their time, and his branches never again be green.
15:33 Like a vine he will let his unripe clusters fall, like an olive shed his blossom.
15:34 Ah yes, the sinner’s brood is barren, and fire consumes the tents of the venal.
15:35 Conceive mischief, and you breed disaster, and carry in yourself deceitfulness.’
JB JOB Chapter 16
The injustice of man and the justice of God
16:1 Job spoke next. He said:
16:2 How often have I heard all this before! What sorry comforters you are!
16:3 Is there never to be an end of airy words? What a plague your need to have the last word is!
16:4 I too could talk like you, were your soul in the plight of mine. I too could overwhelm you with sermons, I could shake my head over you,
16:5 and speak words of encouragement, until my lips grew tired.
16:6 But, while I am speaking, my suffering remains; and when I am not, do I suffer any the less?
16:7 And now ill-will drives me to distraction,
16:8 and a whole host molests me, rising, like some witness for the prosecution, to utter slander to my very face.
16:9 In tearing fury it pursues me, with gnashing teeth. My enemies whet their eyes on me,
16:10 and open gaping jaws. Their insults strike like slaps in the face, and all set on me together.
16:11 Yes, God has handed me over to the godless, and cast me into the hands of the wicked.
16:12 I lived at peace, until he shattered me, taking me by the neck to dash me to pieces. He has made me a target for his archery,
16:13 shooting his arrows at me from every side. Pitiless, through the loins he pierces me, and scatters my gall on the ground.
16:14 Breach after breach he drives through me, bearing down on me like a warrior.
16:15 I have sewn sackcloth over my skin and rubbed my brow in the dust.
16:16 My face is red with tears, and a veil of shadow hangs on my eyelids.
16:17 This notwithstanding, my hands are free of violence,
16:18 and my prayer is undefiled. Cover not my blood, O earth,[*a] afford my cry no place to rest.
16:19 Henceforth I have a witness in heaven, my defender is there in the height.
16:20 My own lament is my advocate with God, while my tears flow before him.
16:21 Let this plead for me as I stand before God, as a man will plead for his fellows.
16:22 For the years of my life are numbered, and I shall soon take the road of no return.
JB JOB Chapter 17
17:1 My breath grows weak, and the gravediggers are gathering for me.
17:2 I am the butt of mockers, and all my waking hours I brood on their spitefulness.
17:3 You yourself must take my own guarantee, since no one cares to clap his hand on mine.[*a]
17:4 For you have shut their hearts to reason, and not a hand is lifted.
17:5 Like a man who invites his friends to share his property while the eyes of his own sons languish,
17:6 I have become a byword among the people, and a creature on whose face to spit.
17:7 My eyes grow dim with grief, and my limbs wear away like a shadow.
17:8 At this, honest men are shocked,[*b] and the guiltless man rails against the godless;
17:9 just men grow more settled in their ways, those whose hands are clean add strength to strength.
17:10 Come, then, all of you: set on me once more! I shall not find a single sage among you.
17:11 My days have passed, far otherwise than I had planned, and every fibre of my heart is broken.
17:12 Night, they say, makes room for day, and light is near at hand to chase the darkness.
17:13 All I look forward to is dwelling in Sheol, and making my bed in the dark.
17:14 I tell the tomb, ‘You are my father’, and call the worm my mother and my sister.
17:15 Where then is my hope? Who can see any happiness for me?
17:16 Will these come down with me to Sheol, or sink with me into the dust?
JB JOB Chapter 18
Anger is powerless against the course of justice
18:1 Bildad of Shuah spoke next. He said:
18:2 Will you never learn to check such words? Do you think we shall be slow to speak?
18:3 Why do you regard us as beasts, look on us as dumb animals?
18:4 Tear yourself to pieces if you will, but the world, for all your rage, will not turn to desert, the rocks will not shift from their places.
18:5 The wicked man’s light must certainly be put out, his brilliant flame cease to shine.
18:6 In his tent the light is dimmed, the lamp that shone on him is snuffed.
18:7 His vigorous stride grows cramped, his own cunning brings him down.
18:8 For into the net his own feet carry him, he walks among the snares.
18:9 A spring grips him by the heel, a trap snaps shut, and he is caught.
18:10 Hidden in the earth is a noose to snare him, pitfalls lie across his path.
18:11 Terrors attack him on every side, and follow behind him step for step.
18:12 Hunger becomes his companion, by his side Disaster stands.
18:13 Disease devours his flesh, Death’s First-Born[*a] gnaws his limbs.
18:14 He is torn from the shelter of his tent, and dragged before the King of Terrors.
18:15 The Lilith[*b] makes her home under his roof, while people scatter brimstone on his holding.
18:16 His roots grow withered below, and his branches are blasted above.
18:17 His memory fades from the land, his name is forgotten in his homeland.
18:18 Driven from light into darkness, he is an exile from the earth,
18:19 without issue or posterity among his own people, none to live on where he has lived.
18:20 His tragic end appals the West, and fills the East with terror.
18:21 A fate like his awaits every sinful house, the home of every man who knows not God.
JB JOB Chapter 19
Faith at its height in desertion by God and man
19:1 Job spoke next. He said:
19:2 Will you never stop tormenting me, and shattering me with speeches?
19:3 Ten times, no less, you have insulted me, ill-treating me without a trace of shame.
19:4 Suppose that I have gone astray, suppose I am even yet in error:
19:5 it is still true, though you think you have the upper hand of me and feel that you have proved my guilt,
19:6 that God, you must know, is my oppressor, and his is the net that closes round me.
19:7 If I protest against such violence, there is no reply; if I appeal against it, judgement is never given.
19:8 He has built a wall across my path which I cannot pass, and covered my way with darkness.
19:9 He has stolen my honour away, and taken the crown from my head.
19:10 On every side he breaks through my defences, and I succumb. As a man a shrub, so he uproots my hope.
19:11 His anger flares against me, and he counts me as his enemy.
19:12 His troops have come in force, they have mounted their attack against me, laid siege to my tent.
19:13 My brothers stand aloof from me, and my relations take care to avoid me.
19:14 My kindred and my friends have all gone away, and the guests in my house have forgotten me.
19:15 The serving maids look on me as a foreigner, a stranger, never seen before.
19:16 My servant does not answer when I call him, I am reduced to entreating him.
19:17 To my wife my breath is unbearable, for my own brothers I am a thing corrupt.
19:18 Even the children look down on me, ever ready with a jibe when I appear.
19:19 All my dearest friends recoil from me in horror: those I loved best have turned against me.
19:20 Beneath my skin, my flesh begins to rot, and my bones stick out like teeth.
19:21 Pity me, pity me, you, my friends, for the hand of God has struck me.
19:22 Why do you hound me down like God, will you never have enough of my flesh?
19:23 Ah, would that these words of mine were written down, inscribed on some monument
19:24 with iron chisel and engraving tool, cut into the rock for ever.
19:25 This I know: that my Avenger[*a] lives, and he, the Last, will take his stand on earth.
19:26 After my awaking, he will set me close to him, and from my flesh I shall look on God.
19:27 He whom I shall see will take my part: these eyes will gaze on him and find him not aloof. My heart within me sinks…
19:28 You, then, that mutter, ‘How shall we track him down, what pretext shall we find against him?’
19:29 may well fear the sword on your own account. There is an anger stirred to flame by evil deeds; you will learn that there is indeed a judgement.
JB JOB Chapter 20
The course of justice admits of no exception
20:1 Zophar of Naamath spoke next. He said:
20:2 To this my thoughts are eager to reply: no wonder if I am possessed by impatience.
20:3 I found these admonitions little to my taste, but my spirit whispers to me how to answer them.
20:4 Do you not know, that since time began and man was set on the earth,
20:5 the triumph of the wicked has always been brief ,and the sinner’s gladness has never lasted long?
20:6 Towering to the sky he may have been, with head touching the clouds;
20:7 but he vanishes, like a phantom, once for all, while those who saw him now ask, ‘Where is he?’
20:8 Like a dream that leaves no trace he takes his flight, like a vision in the night he flies away.
20:9 The eye that looked on him will never see him more, his house nevermore sets eyes on him.
20:10 His sons must recoup his victims, and his children pay back his riches.
20:11 With the vigour of youth his bones were filled, now it lies in the dust with him.
20:12 Evil was sweet to his mouth, he hid it beneath his tongue;
20:13 unwilling to let it go, he let it linger on his palate.
20:14 Such food goes bad in his belly, working inside him like the poison of a viper.
20:15 Now he must bring up all the wealth that he has swallowed, God makes him disgorge it.
20:16 He sucked ‘poison of vipers’: and the tongue of the adder kills him.
20:17 He will know no more of streams that run with oil, or the torrents of honey and cream.
20:18 Gone that glad face at the sight of his gains, those comfortable looks when business was thriving.
20:19 Since he once destroyed the huts of poor men, and stole other’s houses when he should have built his own,
20:20 since his avarice could never be satisfied, now his hoarding will not save him;
20:21 since there was nothing ever escaped his greed, now his prosperity will not last.
20:22 His abundance at its full, want seizes him, misery descends on him in all its force.
20:23 On him God looses all his burning wrath, hurling against his flesh a hail of arrows.
20:24 No use to run away from the iron armoury, for the bow of bronze will shoot him through.
20:25 Out through his back an arrow sticks, from his gall a shining point. An arsenal of terrors falls on him,
20:26 and all that is dark lies in ambush for him. A fire unlit by man devours him, and consumes what is left in his tent.
20:27 The heavens lay bare his iniquity, the earth takes its stand against him.
20:28 A flood sweeps his house away, and carries it off in the Day of Wrath.
20:29 Such is the fate God allots to the wicked, such his inheritance assigned by God.
JB JOB Chapter 21
Facts give the lie
21:1 Job spoke next. He said:
21:2 Listen, only listen to my words; this is the consolation you can offer me.
21:3 Let me have my say; you may jeer when I have spoken.
21:4 Do you think I bear a grudge against man? Have I no reason to be out of patience?
21:5 Hear what I have to say, and you will be dumbfounded, will place your hands over your mouths.
21:6 I myself am appalled at the very thought, and my flesh begins to shudder.
21:7 Why do the wicked still live on, their power increasing with their age?
21:8 They see their posterity ensured, and their offspring grow before their eyes.
21:9 The peace of their houses has nothing to fear, the rod that God wields is not for them.
21:10 No mishap with their bulls at breeding-time, nor miscarriage with their cows at calving.
21:11 They let their infants frisk like lambs, their children dance like deer.
21:12 They sing to the tambourine and the lyre, and rejoice to the sound of the flute.
21:13 They end their lives in happiness and go down in peace to Sheol.
21:14 Yet these were the ones who said to God, ‘Go away! We do not choose to learn your ways.
21:15 What is the point of our serving Shaddai? What profit should we get from praying to him?’
21:16 Is it not true, they held their fortune in their own two hands, and in their counsels, left no room for God?
21:17 Do we often see a wicked man’s light put out, or disaster overtaking him, or all his goods destroyed by the wrath of God?
21:18 How often do we see him harassed like a straw before the wind, or swept off like chaff before a gale?
21:19 God, you say, reserves the man’s punishment for his children. No! Let him bear the penalty himself, and suffer under it!
21:20 Let him see his ruin with his own eyes, and himself drink the anger of Shaddai.
21:21 When he has gone, how can the fortunes of his House affect him, when the number of his months is cut off?
21:22 But who can give lessons in wisdom to God, to him who is judge of those on high?
21:23 And again: one man dies in the fullness of his strength, in all possible happiness and ease,
21:24 with his thighs all heavy with fat, and the marrow of his bones undried.
21:25 Another dies with bitterness in his heart, never having tasted happiness.
21:26 Together now they lie in the dust with worms for covering.
21:27 I know well what is in your mind, the spiteful thoughts you entertain about me.
21:28 ‘What has become of the great lord’s house,’ you say ‘where is the tent where the wicked lived?’
21:29 Have you never asked those that have travelled, or have you misunderstood the tale they told,
21:30 ‘The wicked man is spared for the day of disaster, and carried off in the day of wrath’?
21:31 But who is there then to accuse him to his face for his deeds, and pay him back for what he has done,
21:32 when he is on his way to his burial, when men are watching at his grave.
21:33 The clods of the valley are laid gently on him, and a whole procession walks behind him.
21:34 So what sense is there in your empty consolation? What nonsense are your answers!
JB JOB Chapter 22
- THIRD SERIES OF SPEECHES
God punishes only to vindicate justice
22:1 Eliphaz of Teman spoke next. He said:
22:2 Can a man be of any use to God, when even the wise man’s wisdom is of use only to himself
22:3 Does Shaddai derive any benefit from your integrity, or profit from your blameless conduct?
22:4 Would he punish you for your piety, and hale you off to judgement?
22:5 No, rather for your manifold wickednesses, for your unending iniquities!
22:6 You have exacted needless pledges from your brothers, and men go naked now through your despoiling;
22:7 you have grudged water to the thirsty man, and refused bread to the hungry;
22:8 you have narrowed the lands of the poor man down to nothing to set your crony in his place,
22:9 sent widows away empty-handed and crushed the arms of orphans.
22:10 No wonder, then, if snares are all around you, or sudden terrors make you afraid.
22:11 Light has turned to darkness and it blinds you, and a flood of water overwhelms you.
22:12 Does not God live at the height of heaven, and see the zenith of the stars?
22:13 Because he is far above, you said, ‘What does God know? Can he peer through the shadowed darkness?’
22:14 The clouds, to him, are an impenetrable veil, and he prowls on the rim of the heavens.
22:15 And will you still follow the ancient trail trodden by the wicked?
22:16 Those men who were borne off before their time, with rivers swamping their foundations,
22:17 because they said to God, ‘Go away! What can Shaddai do to us?’
22:18 Yet he himself had filled their houses with good things, while these wicked men shut him out of their counsels.
22:19 At the sight of their ruin, good men rejoice, and the innocent deride them:
22:20 ‘See how their greatness is brought to nothing! See how their wealth has perished in the flames!’
22:21 Well then! Make peace with him, be reconciled, and all your happiness will be restored to you.
22:22 Welcome the teaching from his lips, and keep his words close to your heart.
22:23 If you return, humbled, to Shaddai and drive all injustice from your tents,
22:24 if you reckon gold as dust and Ophir as the pebbles of the torrent,
22:25 then you will find Shaddai worth bars of gold or silver piled in heaps.
22:26 Then Shaddai will be all your delight, and you will lift your face to God.
22:27 You will pray, and he will hear; you will have good reason to fulfil your vows.
22:28 Whatever you undertake will go well, and light will shine on your path;
22:29 for he that casts down the boasting of the braggart is he that saves the man of downcast eyes.
22:30 If a man is innocent, he will bring him freedom, and freedom for you if your hands are kept unstained.
JB JOB Chapter 23
God is far off, and evil is victorious
23:1 Job spoke next. He said:
23:2 My lament is still rebellious, that heavy hand of his drags groans from me.
23:3 If only I knew how to reach him, or how to travel to his dwelling!
23:4 I should set out my case to him, my mouth would not want for arguments.
23:5 Then I could learn his defence, every word of it, taking note of everything he said to me.
23:6 Would he use all his strength in this debate with me? No, he would have to give me a hearing.
23:7 He would see he was contending with an honest man, and I should surely win my case.
23:8 If I go eastward, he is not there; or westward – still I cannot see him.
23:9 If I seek him in the north, he is not to be found, invisible still when I turn to the south.
23:10 And yet he knows of every step I take! Let him test me in the crucible: I shall come out pure gold.
23:11 My footsteps have followed close in his, I have walked in his way without swerving;
23:12 I have kept every commandment of his lips, cherishing the words from his mouth in my breast.
23:13 But once he has decided, who can change his mind? Whatever he plans, he carries out.
23:14 No doubt, then, but he will carry out my sentence, like so many other decrees that he has made.
23:15 That is why I am full of fear before him, and the more I think, the greater grows my dread of him.
23:16 God has made my heart sink, Shaddai has filled me with fear.
23:17 For darkness hides me from him, and the gloom veils his presence from me.
JB JOB Chapter 24
24:1 Why has not Shaddai his own store of times, and why do his faithful never see his Days?[*a]
24:2 The wicked move boundary-marks away, they carry off flock and shepherd.
24:3 Some drive away the orphan’s donkey, and take the widow’s ox for a security.
24:4 Beggars, now, avoid the roads, and all the poor of the land must go into hiding.
24:5 Like wild donkeys in the desert, they go out, driven by the hunger of their children, to seek food on the barren steppes.
24:6 They must do the harvesting in the scoundrel’s field, they must do the picking in the vineyards of the wicked.
24:10 They go about naked, lacking clothes, and starving while they carry the sheaves.
24:11 They have no stones for pressing oil, they tread the winepresses, yet they are parched with thirst.
24:7 They spend the night naked, lacking clothes, with no covering against the cold.
24:8 Mountain rainstorms cut them through, shelterless, they hug the rocks.
24:9 Fatherless children are robbed of their lands, and poor men have their cloaks seized as security.
24:12 From the towns come the groans of the dying and the gasp of wounded men crying for help. Yet God remains deaf to their appeal!
24:13 Others of them hate the light, know nothing of its ways, avoid its paths.
24:14 When all is dark the murderer leaves his bed to kill the poor and needy. All night long prowls the thief,
24:16a breaking into houses while the darkness lasts.
24:15 The eye of the adulterer watches for twilight, ‘No one will see me’ he mutters as he masks his face.
24:16b In the daytime they go into hiding, these folk who have no love for the light.
24:17 For all of them, morning is their darkest hour, because they know its terrors.
24:25 Is this not so? Who can prove me a liar or show that my words have no substance?
JB JOB Chapter 25
A hymn to God’s omnipotence
25:1 Bildad of Shuah spoke next. He said:
25:2 What sovereignty, what awe, is his who keeps the peace in his heights!
25:3 Can anyone number his armies, or boast of having escaped his ambushes?
25:4 Could any man ever think himself innocent, when confronted by God? Born of woman, how could he ever be clean?
25:5 The very moon lacks brightness, and the stars are unclean as he sees them.
25:6 What, then, of man, maggot that he is, the son of man, a worm?
JB JOB Chapter 26
26:5 The Shades tremble beneath the earth; the waters and their denizens are afraid.
26:6 Before his eyes, Sheol is bare, Perdition[*a] itself is uncovered.
26:7 He it was who spread the North[*b] above the void, and poised the earth on nothingness.
26:8 He fastens up the waters in his clouds- the mists do not tear apart under their weight.
26:9 He covers the face of the moon at the full, his mist he spreads over it.
26:10 He has traced a ring on the surface of the waters, at the boundary between light and dark.
26:11 The pillars of the heavens tremble, they are struck with wonder when he threatens them.
26:12 With his power he calmed the Sea, with his wisdom struck Rahab down.
26:13 His breath made the heavens luminous, his hand transfixed the Fleeing Serpent.
26:14 All this but skirts the ways he treads, a whispered echo is all that we hear of him. But who could comprehend the thunder of his power?
Bildad’s words are empty
26:1 Job spoke next. He said:
26:2 To one so weak, what a help you are, for the arm that is powerless, what a rescuer!
26:3 What excellent advice you give the unlearned, never at a loss for a helpful suggestion!
26:4 But who are they aimed at, these speeches of yours, and what spirit is this that comes out of you?
JB JOB Chapter 27
Job reaffirms his innocence while acknowledging God’s power
27:1 And Job continued his solemn discourse. He said:
27:2 I swear by the living God who denies me justice, by Shaddai who has turned my life sour,
27:3 that as long as a shred of life is left in me, and the breath of God breathes in my nostrils,
27:4 my lips shall never speak untruth, nor any lie be found on my tongue.
27:5 Far from ever admitting you to be in the right: I will maintain my innocence to my dying day.
27:6 I take my stand on my integrity, I will not stir: my conscience gives me no cause to blush for my life.
27:7 May my enemy meet a criminal’s end, and my opponent suffer with the guilty.
27:8 For what hope, after all, has the godless when he prays, and raises his soul to God?
27:9 Is God likely to hear his cries when disaster descends on him?
27:10 Did he make Shaddai all his delight, calling on him at every turn?
27:11 No: I am showing you how God’s power works, making no secret of Shaddai’s designs.
27:12 And if you all had understood them for yourselves, you would not have wasted your breath in empty words.
The speech of Zophar: the accursed
27:13 Here is the fate that God has in store for the wicked, and the inheritance with which Shaddai endows the man of violence.
27:14 A sword awaits his sons, however many they may be, and their children after them will go unfed.
27:15 Plague will bury those he leaves behind him, and their widows will have no chance to mourn them.
27:16 He may collect silver like dust, and gather fine clothes like clay.
27:17 Let him gather! Some good man will wear them, while his silver is shared among the innocent.
27:18 He has built himself a spider’s web, made himself a watchman’s shack.
27:19 He goes to bed a rich man, but never again: he wakes to find not a penny left.
27:20 Terrors attack him in broad daylight, and at night a whirlwind sweeps him off.
27:21 An east wind picks him up and drags him away, snatching him up from his homestead.
27:22 Pitilessly he is turned into a target, and forced to flee from the hands that menace him.
27:23 His downfall is greeted with applause, and hissing meets him on every side.
27:24:18acb Headlong he flees from the daylight, he shrinks from the road which runs on the heights. The lands of his home are under a curse,
27:24:19 for heat and drought dry up the waters and scorch what is left of his corn.
27:24:20 The womb that shaped him forgets him and his name is recalled no longer.
27:24:21 Thus wickedness is blasted as a tree is struck. He used to be harsh to the barren, childless woman, and show no kindness to the widow.
27:24:22 But he who lays mighty hold on tyrants rises up to take away that life which seemed secure.
27:24:23 He let him build his hopes on false security, but kept his eyes on every step he took.
27:24:24 The man had his time of glory, now he vanishes, drooping like a mallow plucked from its bed, and withering like an ear of corn.
JB JOB Chapter 28
- A HYMN IN PRAISE OF WISDOM
Wisdom is beyond man’s reach
28:1 Silver has its mines, and gold a place for refining.
28:2 Iron is extracted from the earth, the smelted rocks yield copper.
28:3 Man makes an end of darkness when he pierces to the uttermost depths the black and lightless rock.
28:4 Mines the lamp-folk dig in places where there is no foothold, and hang suspended far from mankind.
28:5 That earth from which bread comes is ravaged underground by fire.
28:6 Down there, the rocks are set with sapphires, full of spangles of gold.
28:7 Down there is a path unknown to birds of prey, unseen by the eye of any vulture;
28:8 a path not trodden by tile lordly beasts, where no lion ever walked.
28:9 Man attacks its flinty sides, upturning mountains by their roots,
28:10 driving tunnels through the rocks, on the watch for anything precious.
28:11 He explores the sources of rivers,[*a] and brings to daylight secrets that were hidden.
28:12 But tell me, where does wisdom come from? Where is understanding to be found?
28:13 The road to it is still unknown to man, not to be found in the land of the living.
28:14 ‘It is not in me’ says the Abyss; ‘Nor here’ replies the Sea.
28:15 It cannot be bought with solid gold, not paid for with any weight of silver,
28:16 nor be priced by the standard of the gold of Ophir, or of precious onyx or sapphire.
28:17 No gold, no glass can match it in value, nor for a fine gold vase can it be bartered.
28:18 Nor is there need to mention coral, nor crystal; beside wisdom pearls are not worth the fishing.
28:19 Topaz from Cush is worthless in comparison, and gold, even refined, is valueless.
28:20 But tell me, where does wisdom come from? Where is understanding to be found?
28:21 It is outside the knowledge of every living thing, hidden from the birds in the sky.
28:22 Perdition and Death can only say, ‘We have heard reports of it’.
28:23 God alone has traced its path and found out where it lives.
28:24 (For he sees to the ends of the earth, and observes all that lies under heaven.)
28:25 When he willed to give weight to the wind and measured out the waters with a gauge,
28:26 when he made the laws and rules for the rain and mapped a route for thunderclaps to follow,
28:27 then he had it in sight, and cast its worth, assessed it, fathomed it.
28:28 And he said to man, ‘Wisdom? It is fear of the Lord. Understanding? – avoidance of evil.’
JB JOB Chapter 29
- CONCLUSION OF THE DIALOGUE
Job’s lament and final defence
- His former happiness
29:1 And Job continued his solemn discourse. He said:
29:2 Who will bring back to me the months that have gone, and the days when God was my guardian,
29:3 when his lamp shone over my head, and his light was my guide in the darkness?
29:4 Shall I ever see my autumn days again when God hedged round my tent;
29:5 when Shaddai dwelt with me, and my children were around me;
29:6 when my feet were plunged in cream, and streams of oil poured from the rocks?
29:7 When I went out to the gate of the city, when I took my seat in the square,
29:8 as soon as I appeared, the young men stepped aside, while the older men rose to their feet.
29:9 Men of note interrupted their speeches, and put their fingers on their lips;
29:10 the voices of rulers were silenced, and their tongues stayed still in their mouths.
29:21 They waited anxiously to hear me, and listened in silence to what I had to say.
29:22 When I paused, there was no rejoinder, and my words dropped on them, one by one.
29:23 They waited for me, as men wait for rain, open-mouthed, as if to catch the year’s last showers.
29:24 If I smiled at them, it was too good to be true, they watched my face for the least sign of favour.
29:25 In a lordly style, I told them which course to take, and like a king amid his armies, I led them where I chose.
29:11 My praises echoed in every ear, and never an eye but smiled on me;
29:12 because I freed the poor man when he called, and the orphan who had no one to help him.
29:13 When men were dying, I it was who had their blessing; if widows’ hearts rejoiced, that was my doing.
29:14 I had dressed myself in righteousness like a garment; justice, for me, was cloak and turban.
29:15 I was eyes for the blind, and feet for the lame.
29:16 Who but I was father of the poor?
29:17 The stranger’s case had a hearing from me. I used to break the fangs of wicked men, and snatch their prey from between their jaws.
29:18 So I thought to myself, ‘I shall die in honour, my days like a palm tree’s for number.
29:19 My roots thrust out to the water, my leaves freshened by the falling dew at night.
29:20 My reputation will never fade, and the bow in my hands will gain new strength.’
JB JOB Chapter 30
- His present misery
30:1 And now I am the laughing-stock of my juniors, the young people, whose fathers I did not consider fit to put with the dogs that looked after my flock.
30:2 The strength of their hands would have been useless to me, enfeebled as they were, worn out by want and hunger.
30:3 They used to gnaw the roots, of desert plants, and brambles from abandoned ruins;
30:4 and plucked mallow, and brushwood leaves, making their meals off roots of broom.
30:5 Outlawed from the society of men, who, as against thieves, raised hue and cry against them,
30:6 they made their dwellings on ravines’ steep sides, in caves or clefts in the rock.
30:7 You could hear them wailing from the bushes, as they huddled together in the thistles.
30:8 Their children are as worthless a brood as they were, nameless people, outcasts of society.
30:9 And these are the ones that now sing ballads about me, and make me the talk of the town!
30:10 To them I am loathsome, they stand aloof from me, do not scruple to spit in my face.
30:11 Because he has unbent my bow and chastened me they cast the bridle from their mouth.
30:12 That brood of theirs rises to right of me, stones are their weapons, and they take threatening strides towards me.
30:13 They have cut me off from all escape, there is no one to check their attack.
30:14 They move in, as though through a wide breach, and I am crushed beneath the rubble.
30:15 Terrors turn to meet me, my confidence is blown away as if by the wind; my hope of safety passes like a cloud.
30:16 And now the life in me trickles away, days of grief have gripped me.
30:17 At night-time, sickness saps my bones, I am gnawed by wounds that never sleep.
30:18 With immense power it has caught me by the clothes, clutching at the collar of my coat.
30:19 It has thrown me into the mud where I am no better than dust and ashes.
30:20 I cry to you, and you give me no answer; I stand before you, but you take no notice.
30:21 You have grown cruel in your dealings with me, your hand lies on me, heavy and hostile.
30:22 You carry me up to ride the wind, tossing me about in a tempest.
30:23 I know it is to death that you are taking me, the common meeting place of all that lives.
30:24 Yet have I ever laid a hand on the poor when they cried out for justice in calamity?
30:25 Have I not wept for all whose life is hard, felt pity for the penniless?
30:26 I hoped for happiness, but sorrow came; I looked for light, but there was darkness.
30:27 My stomach seethes, is never still, for every day brings further suffering.
30:28 Sombre I go, yet no one comforts me, and if I rise in the council, I rise to weep.
30:29 I have become the jackal’s brother and the ostrich’s companion
30:30 My skin has turned black on me, my bones are burnt with fever.
30:31 My harp is tuned to funeral wails, my flute to the voice of mourners.
JB JOB Chapter 31
31:1 I made a pact with my eyes, not to linger on any virgin.
31:2 Now, what shares does God deal out on high, what lots does Shaddai assign from heaven,
31:3 If not disaster for the wicked, and calamities for the iniquitous?
31:4 But surely he sees how I behave, does he not count all my steps?
31:5 Have I been a fellow traveller with falsehood, or hastened my steps towards deceit?
31:6 If he weighs me on honest scales, being God, he cannot fail to see my innocence.
31:7 If my feet have wandered from the rightful path, or if my eyes have led my heart astray, or if my hands are smirched with any stain,
31:8 let another eat what I have sown, and let my young shoots all be rooted out.
31:9 If I ever lost my heart to any woman, or lurked at my neighbour’s door,
31:10 let my wife grind corn that is not mine, let her sleep between others’ sheets.
31:11 For I should have committed a sin of lust, a crime punishable by the law,
31:12 and should have lit a fire burning till Perdition, which would have devoured all my harvesting.
31:13 If ever I have infringed the rights of slave or maidservant in legal actions against me –
31:14 what shall I do, when God stands up? What shall I say, when he holds his assize?
31:15 They, no less than I, were created in the womb by the one same God who shaped us all within our mothers.
31:38 If my land calls down vengeance on my head and every furrow runs with tears,
31:39 if without payment I have eaten fruit grown on it or given those who toiled there cause to groan,
31:40a let brambles grow where once was wheat, and foul weeds where barley thrived.
31:16 Have I been insensible to poor men’s needs, or let a widow’s eyes grow dim?
31:17 Or taken my share of bread alone, not giving a share to the orphan?
31:18 I, whom God has fostered father-like, from childhood, and guided since I left my mother’s womb.
31:19 Have I ever seen a wretch in need of clothing, or a beggar going naked,
31:20 without his having cause to bless me from his heart, as he felt the warmth of the fleece from my lambs?
31:21 Have I raised my hand against the guiltless, presuming on my credit at the gate?
31:22 If so, then let my shoulder fall from its socket, my arm be shattered at the joint.
31:23 God’s terror would indeed descend on me; how could I hold my ground before his majesty?
31:24 Have I put all my trust in gold, from finest gold sought my security?
31:25 Have I ever gloated over my great wealth, or the riches that my hands have won?
31:26 Or has the sight of the sun in its glory, or the glow of the moon as it walked the sky,
31:27 stolen my heart, so that my hand blew them a secret kiss?
31:28 That too would be a criminal offence, to have denied the supreme God.
31:29 Have I taken pleasure in my enemies’ misfortunes, or made merry when disaster overtook them,
31:30 I who allowed my tongue to do no wrong, by cursing them or vowing them to death?
31:31 The people of my tent, did they not say, ‘Is there a man he has not filled with meat?’
31:32 No stranger ever had to sleep outside, my door was always open to the traveller.
31:33 Have I ever hidden my sins from men, keeping my iniquity secret in my breast?
31:34 Have I ever stood so in fear of common gossip, or so dreaded any family’s contempt, that I have been reduced to silence, not venturing out of doors?
31:35 Who can get me a hearing from God? I have had my say, from A to Z; now let Shaddai answer me. When my adversary has drafted his writ against me
31:36 I shall wear it on my shoulder, and bind it round my head like a royal turban.
31:37 I will give him an account of every step of my life, and go as boldly as a prince to meet him.
31:40b End of the words of Job.
JB JOB Chapter 32
III. THE SPEECHES OF ELIHU
Elihu joins the discussion
32:1 These three men said no more to Job, because he was convinced of his innocence.
32:2 But another man was infuriated – Elihu son of Barachel the Buzite, of the clan of Ram. He fumed with rage against Job for thinking that he was right and God was wrong;
32:3 and he was equally angry with the three friends for giving up the argument and thus admitting that God could be unjust.
32:4 While they were speaking, Elihu had held himself back, because they were older than he was;
32:5 but when he saw that the three men had not another word to say in answer, his anger burst out.
32:6 Thus Elihu son of Barachel the Buzite spoke next. He said:
I am still young, and you are old, so I was shy, afraid, to tell you what I know. I told myself,
32:7 ‘Old age should speak, advancing years will utter wisdom’.
32:8 But now I know that it is a breath in man, the inspiration of Shaddai, that gives discernment.
32:9 Great age does not give wisdom, nor longevity sound judgement.
32:10 And so I ask you for a hearing; now it is my turn to tell what I know.
32:11 There was a time when I hoped for much from your speeches: I gave your reasonings a ready hearing, and watched you choose your words.
32:12 I gave you all my attention, and I can say that no one gave Job the lie, not one of you disproved his statements.
32:13 So do not dare to say that you have found wisdom, or that your teaching is from God not man.
32:14 I am not going to follow the same line of argument; my reply to Job will be couched in different terms.
32:15 They have been nonplussed, baffled for an answer, words have failed them.
32:16 I have been waiting. Since they are silent, and have abandoned all efforts to reply,
32:17 now I will have my say, my turn has come to say what I know.
32:18 For I am filled with words, choked by the rush of them within me.
32:19 I have a feeling in my heart like new wine seeking a vent, and bursting a brand-new wineskin.
32:20 Nothing will bring relief but speech, I will open my mouth and give my answer.
32:21 I shall not show any partiality towards anyone, nor heap on any fulsome flatteries.
32:22 I have no skill in flattery, my creator would soon silence me otherwise.
JB JOB Chapter 33
33:1 Now, Job, be kind enough to listen to my words, and attend to all I have to say.
33:2 Now as I open my mouth, and my tongue shapes words against my palate,
33:3 my heart shall utter sayings full of wisdom, and my lips speak the honest truth.
33:5 Refute me, if you can. Prepare your ground to oppose me.
33:6 See, I am your fellow man, not a god; like you, I was fashioned out of clay.
33:4 God’s breath it was that made me, the breathing of Shaddai that gave me life.
33:7 Thus, no fear of me need disturb you, my hand will not lie heavy over you.
33:8 How could you say in my hearing – for the sound of your words did not escape me –
33:9 ‘I am clean, and sinless, I am pure, free of all fault.
33:10 Yet he is inventing grievances against me, and imagining me his enemy.
33:11 He puts me in the stocks, he watches my every step’?
33:12 In saying so, I tell you, you are wrong: God does not fit man’s measure.
33:13 Why do you rail at him for not replying to you, word for word?
33:14 God speaks first in one way, and then in another, but no one notices.
33:15 He speaks by dreams, and visions that come in the night, when slumber comes on mankind, and men are all asleep in bed.
33:16 Then it is he whispers in the ear of man, or may frighten him with fearful sights,
33:17 to turn him away from evil-doing, and make an end of his pride;
33:18 to save his soul from the pit and his life from the pathway to Sheol.
33:19 With suffering, too, he corrects man on his sick-bed, when his bones keep trembling with palsy;
33:20 when his whole self is revolted by food, and his appetite spurns dainties;
33:21 when his flesh rots as you watch it, and his bare bones begin to show;
33:22 when his soul is drawing near to the pit, and his life to the dwelling of the dead.
33:23 Then there is an Angel by his side, a Mediator, chosen out of thousands, to remind a man where his duty lies,
33:24 to take pity on him and to say, ‘Release him from descent into the pit, for I have found a ransom for his life’;
33:25 his flesh recovers the bloom of its youth, he lives again as he did when he was young.
33:26 He prays to God who has restored him to favour, and comes, in happiness, to see his face. He publishes far and wide the news of his vindication,
33:27 singing before his fellow men this hymn of praise, ‘I sinned and left the path of right, but God has not punished me as my sin deserved.
33:28 He has spared my soul from going down into the pit, and is allowing my life to continue in the light.’
33:29 All this God does again and yet again for man,
33:30 rescuing his soul from the pit, and letting the light of life shine bright on him.
33:31 Job, give me your attention, listen well; keep silence: I have more to say.
33:32 If you have anything to say, refute me, speak out, for I would gladly recognise your innocence.
33:33 If you have not, then listen: keep silence, while I teach you wisdom.
JB JOB Chapter 34
The three Sages have failed to justify God
34:1 Elihu continued his speech. He said:
34:2 You men of wisdom, listen to my words: lend me your ears, you learned men.
34:3 The ear is a judge of speeches, just as the palate can tell one food from another.
34:4 Let us discover together where justice lies, and settle among us what is best.
34:5 Now Job has said, ‘I am in the right, and God refuses to grant me justice.
34:6 The judge who judges me is ill-disposed, and though I have not sinned, my wounds are past all cure.’
34:7 Are there many men like Job, who drink scurrility like water,
34:8 who keep company with evil-doers, and march in step with the wicked?
34:9 Did he not say it was useless for man to try to please God?
34:10 Listen then to me, like intelligent men. So far is God removed from wickedness, and Shaddai from injustice,
34:11 that he requites a man for what he does, treating each one as his way of life deserves.
34:12 God never does wrong, do not doubt that! Shaddai does not deflect the course of right.
34:13 It is not as if someone else had given him the earth in trust, or confided the whole universe to his care.
34:14 Were he to recall his breath, to draw his breathing back into himself,
34:15 things of flesh would perish all together, and man would return to dust.
34:16 If you have any intelligence, listen to this, and lend your ear to what I have to say.
34:17 Could an enemy of justice ever govern? Would you dare condemn the Just One, the Almighty,
34:18 who can tell kings that they are good for nothing, and treat noblemen like criminals,
34:19 who shows no partiality to princes and makes no distinction between the rich and the poor, all alike being made by his own hands?
34:20 They die, they are gone in an instant, great though they are, they perish in the dead of night: it costs him no effort to remove a tyrant.
34:21 His eyes, you see, keep watch on all men’s ways, and he observes their every step.
34:22 Not darkness, nor the deepest shadow, can hide the wrong-doer.
34:23 He serves no writ on men summoning them to appear before God’s court:
34:24 he smashes great men’s power without enquiry and sets up others in their places.
34:25 He knows well enough what they are about, and one fine night he throws them down for men to trample on.
34:26 He strikes them down for their wickedness, and makes them prisoners for all to see.
34:27 You may say, ‘They have so turned from him, and ignored his ways,
34:28 that the poor have cried out to him against them and the wailing of the humble has assailed his ears,
34:29 Yet he is unmoved, and nothing can touch him; he hides his face and nobody can see him’. But nonetheless he does take pity on nations and on men,
34:30 freeing the godless man from the meshes of distress.
34:31 If such a man says to God, ‘I was led astray, I will sin no more.
34:32 If I did wrong, tell me about it, if I have been unjust, I will be so no more –
34:33 in such a case, do you think he ought to punish him, you who reject his decisions? Since it is you who make this choice, not I, let us all share your knowledge!
34:34 But this is what all sensible folk will say, and any wise man among my hearers,
34:35 ‘There is no wisdom in Job’s speech, his words lack sense.
34:36 Put him unsparingly to the proof since his retorts are the same as those that the wicked make.
34:37 For to sin he adds rebellion, calling justice into question in our midst and heaping abuse on God.’
JB JOB Chapter 35
God is not indifferent to what happens on earth
35:1 Elihu continued his speech. He said:
35:2 Do you presume to maintain that you are in the right, to insist on your innocence before God,
35:3 even to ask him, ‘How does it affect you, what harm has it done you if I have sinned?’
35:4 Well then, this is how I will answer you, and your friends as well.
35:5 Look up at the skies, look at them well, and see how high the clouds are above you.
35:6 If you sin, what do you achieve against him? If you heap up crimes, what is the injury you do him?
35:7 If you are just, what do you give him, what benefit does he receive at your hands?
35:8 Your fellow men are the ones to suffer from your crimes, humanity is the gainer if you are good.
35:9 When people groan under the weight of oppression, or cry out under the tyranny of the mighty,
35:10 no one thinks to ask, ‘Where is God, my maker, who makes glad songs ring out at dead of night,
35:11 who makes us cleverer than the earth’s wild beasts, wiser than the birds in the sky?’
35:12 Then they cry aloud, but he does not answer because of man’s base pride.
35:13 How idle to maintain that God is deaf, that Shaddai notices nothing!
35:14 You even claim, ‘He does not see me: my cause is exposed before him, and yet I wait and wait’.
35:15 Or even, ‘His anger never punishes, he does not seem to know of men’s rebellion’.
35:16 Hence when Job opens his mouth, it is for idle talk: his spate of words comes out of ignorance.
JB JOB Chapter 36
The real meaning of Job’s sufferings
36:1 Elihu went on speaking. He said:
36:2 Be patient with me a little longer while I explain, for I have more to say on God’s behalf.
36:3 I will range far afield for my arguments to prove my Maker just.
36:4 What I say contains no fallacies, I assure you, you see before you an enlightened man.
36:5 God does not spurn the blameless man
36:6 or let the sinner live on in all his power. He accords justice to the poor,
36:7 and upholds the good man’s rights. When he raises kings to thrones, if they grow proud of their unending sway,
36:8 then he fetters them with chains, binding them in the bondage of distress.
36:9 He shows them all that they have done, and all the sins of pride they have committed.
36:10 He whispers a message in their ears, urging them to amend themselves.
36:11 If they listen and do as he says, their days end in happiness, and their closing years are full of ease.
36:12 If not, then a thunderbolt destroys them, and death comes on them unawares.
36:13 Yes the stubborn who cherish anger, and when he shackles them, do not ask for help:
36:14 they die in their youth, or lead a life despised by all.
36:15 The wretched, however, he saves by their very wretchedness, and uses distress to open their eyes.
36:16 For you, no less, he plans relief from sorrow. Once you lived in luxury unbounded, with rich food piled high on your table.
36:17 But you did not execute justice on the wicked, you cheated orphaned children of their rights.
36:18 In future beware of being led astray by riches, or corrupted by fat bribes.
36:19 Prosecute the rich, not merely the penniless; strong-armed men as well as those who are powerless.
36:20 Do not trample on those you do not know to install your relations in their place.
36:21 Avoid any tendency to wrong-doing, for such has been the true cause of your trials.
A hymn to God’s wisdom and omnipotence
36:22 Look, by reason of his power God is supreme, what teacher can be compared with him?
36:23 Who has ever told him which course to take, or dared to say to him, ‘You have done wrong’?
36:24 Turn your mind rather to praising his works, a theme that many men have sung:
36:25 a sight that everyone can see, that man may gaze on from afar.
36:26 Yes, the greatness of God exceeds our knowledge, the number of his years is past computing.
36:27 He it is who keeps the raindrops back, dissolving the showers into mist,
36:28 which otherwise the clouds would spill in floods over all mankind.
36:31 Thanks to them he nourishes the nations with generous gifts of food.
36:29 And who can fathom how he spreads the clouds, or why such crashes thunder from his tent?
36:30 He spreads out the mist, wrapping it about him, and covers the tops of the mountains.
36:32 He gathers up the lightning in his hands, choosing the mark it is to reach;
36:33 his thunder gives warning of its coming: wrath overtakes iniquity.
JB JOB Chapter 37
37:1 At this my own heart quakes, and leaps from its place.
37:2 Listen, oh listen, to the blast of his voice and the sound that blares from his mouth.
37:3 He hurls his lightning below the span of heaven, it strikes to the very ends of the earth.
37:4 After it comes the roar of his voice, the peal of God’s majestic thunder. He does not check his thunderbolts until his voice resounds no more.
37:5 No doubt of it, but God reveals wonders, and does great deeds that we cannot understand.
37:6 When he says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth’ or tells the rain to pour down in torrents,
37:7 he brings all men’s strivings to a standstill so that each must acknowledge his hand at work.
37:8 All the beasts go back to their dens, taking shelter in their lairs.
37:9 The storm wind comes from the Mansion of the South, and the north winds usher in the cold.
37:10 God breathes, and the ice is there, the surface of the waters freezes over.
37:11 He weighs the clouds down with moisture, and the storm clouds radiate his lightning.
37:12 He himself guides their wheeling motion directing all their seasonal changes: they carry out his orders to the letter all over his inhabited world.
37:13 Whether for punishing earth’s peoples or for a work of mercy, he despatches them.
37:14 Listen to all this Job: no backsliding now! Meditate on God’s wonders.
37:15 Can you tell how God controls them or how his clouds make the lightning flash?
37:16 Can you tell how he holds the clouds in balance: a miracle of consummate skill?
37:17 When your clothes are hot to your body and the earth lies still under the south wind,
37:18 can you help him to spread the vault of heaven, or temper that mirror of cast metal?
37:19 Tell me what to say to him: . . . . . . . . . . . . .
37:20 Can my words carry weight with him? Do man’s commands reach his ears?
37:21 There are times when the light vanishes behind darkening clouds; then comes the wind, sweeping them away,
37:22 and brightness spreads from the north. God is clothed in fearful splendour:
37:23 he, Shaddai, is far beyond our reach. Supreme in power, in equity, excelling in justice, yet no oppressor –
37:24 no wonder that men fear him, and thoughtful men hold him in awe.
JB JOB Chapter 38
- THE SPEECHES OF YAHWEH
Job must bow to the creator’s wisdom
38:1 Then from the heart of the tempest Yahweh gave Job his answer. He said:
38:2 Who is this obscuring my designs with his empty-headed words?
38:3 Brace yourself like a fighter; now it is my turn to ask questions and yours to inform me.
38:4 Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Tell me, since you are so well-informed!
38:5 Who decided the dimensions of it, do you know? Or who stretched the measuring line across it?
38:6 What supports its pillars at their bases? Who laid its cornerstone
38:7 when all the stars of the morning were singing with joy, and the Sons of God in chorus were chanting praise?
38:8 Who pent up the sea behind closed doors when it leapt tumultuous out of the womb,
38:9 when I wrapped it in a robe of mist and made black clouds its swaddling bands;
38:10 when I marked the bounds it was not to cross and made it fast with a bolted gate?
38:11 Come thus far, I said, and no farther: here your proud waves shall break.
38:12 Have you ever in your life given orders to the morning or sent the dawn to its post,
38:13 telling it to grasp the earth by its edges and shake the wicked out of it,
38:14 when it changes the earth[*a] to sealing clay and dyes it as a man dyes clothes;
38:15 stealing the light from wicked men[*b] and breaking the arm raised to strike?
38:16 Have you journeyed all the way to the sources of the sea, or walked where the Abyss is deepest?
38:17 Have you been shown the gates of Death or met the janitors of Shadowland?
38:18 Have you an inkling of the extent of the earth? Tell me all about it if you have!
38:19 Which is the way to the light and where does darkness live?
38:20 You could show them the way to their proper places, or put them on the path to where they live!
38:21 If you know all this, you must have been born with them, you must be very old by now!
38:22 Have you ever visited the place where snow is kept, or seen where the hail is stored up.
38:23 which I keep for times of stress, for days of battle and war.
38:24 From which direction does the lightning fork when it scatters sparks over the earth?
38:25 Who carves a channel for the downpour, and hacks a way for the rolling thunder,
38:26 so that rain may fall on lands where no one lives, and the deserts void of human dwelling,
38:27 giving drink to the lonely wastes and making grass spring where everything was dry?
38:28 Has the rain a father? Who begets the dewdrops?
38:29 What womb brings forth the ice, and gives birth to the frost of heaven,
38:30 when the waters grow hard as stone and the surface of the deep congeals?
38:31 Can you fasten the harness of the Pleiades, or untie Orion’s bands?
38:32 Can you guide the morning star season by season and show the Bear and its cubs which way to go?
38:33 Have you grasped the celestial laws? Could you make their writ run on the earth?
38:34 Can your voice carry as far as the clouds and make the pent-up waters do your bidding?
38:35 Will lightning flashes come at your command and answer, ‘Here we are’?
38:36 Who gave the ibis wisdom and endowed the cock with foreknowledge?[*c]
38:37 Whose skill details every cloud and tilts the flasks of heaven
38:38 until the soil cakes into a solid. mass and clods of earth cohere together?
38:39 Do you find a prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of her whelps
38:40 when they crouch in their dens and lurk in their lairs?
38:41 Who makes provision for the raven when his squabs cry out to God and crane their necks in hunger?
JB JOB Chapter 39
39:1 Do you know how mountain goats give birth, or have you ever watched the hinds in labour?
39:2 How many months do they carry their young? At what time do they give birth?
39:3 They crouch to drop their young, and let their burdens fall in the open desert;
39:4 and when the calves have grown and gathered strength they leave them, never to return.
39:5 Who gave the wild donkey his freedom, and untied the rope from his proud neck?
39:6 I have given him the desert as a home, the salt plains as his own habitat.
39:7 He scorns the turmoil of the town there are no shouts from a driver for him to listen for.
39:8 The mountains are the pastures that he ranges in quest of any type of green blade or leaf.
39:9 Is the wild ox willing to serve you or spend a night beside your manger?
39:10 If you tie a rope round his neck will he harrow the furrows for you?
39:11 Can you rely on his massive strength and leave him to do your heavy work?
39:12 Can you depend on him to come home carrying your grain to your threshing-floor?
39:13 Can the wing of the ostrich be compared with the plumage of the stork or falcon?
39:14 She leaves her eggs on the ground with only earth to warm them;
39:15 forgetting that a foot may tread on them or a wild beast may crush them.
39:16 Cruel to her chicks as if they were not hers, little she cares if her labour goes for nothing.
39:17 God, you see, has made her unwise, and given her no share of common sense.
39:18 Yet, if she bestirs herself to use her height, she can make fools of horse and rider too.
39:19 Are you the one who makes the horse so brave and covers his neck with flowing hair?
39:20 Do you make him leap like a grasshopper? His proud neighing spreads terror far and wide.
39:21 Exultantly he paws the soil of the valley, and prances eagerly to meet the clash of arms.
39:22 He laughs at fear; he is afraid of nothing, he recoils before no sword.
39:23 On his back the quiver rattles, the flashing spear and javelin.
39:24 Quivering with impatience, he eats up the miles; when the trumpet sounds, there is no holding him.
39:25 At each trumpet blast he shouts ‘Hurrah!’ He scents the battle from afar, hearing the thundering of chiefs, the shouting.
39:26 Does the hawk take flight on your advice when he spreads his wings to travel south?
39:27 Does the eagle soar at your command to make her eyrie in the heights?
39:28 She spends her nights among the crags with an unclimbed peak as her redoubt
39:29 from which she watches for prey, fixing it with her far-ranging eye.
39:30 She feeds her young on blood: wherever men fall dying, there she is.
JB JOB Chapter 40
40:1 Then Yahweh turned to Job, and he said:
40:2 Is Shaddai’s opponent willing to give in? Has God’s critic thought up an answer?
40:3 Job replied to Yahweh:
40:4 My words have been frivolous: what can I reply? I had better lay my finger on my lips.
40:5 I have spoken once… I will not speak again; more than once… I will add nothing.
God is master of the forces of evil
40:6 Yahweh gave his answer from the heart of the tempest
40:7 Brace yourself like a fighter, now it is my turn to ask questions and yours to inform me.
40:8 Do you really want to reverse my judgement, and put me in the wrong to put yourself in the right?
40:9 Has your arm the strength of God’s, can your voice thunder as loud?
40:10 If so, assume your dignity, your state, robe yourself in majesty and splendour.
40:11 Let the spate of your anger flow free; humiliate the haughty at a glance!
40:12 Cast one look at the proud and bring them low, strike down the wicked where they stand.
40:13 Bury the lot of them in the ground, shut them, silent-faced, in the dungeon.
40:14 I myself will be the first to acknowledge that your own right hand can assure your triumph.
40:15 Now think of Behemoth; he eats greenstuff like the ox.
40:16 But what strength he has in his loins, what power in his stomach muscles!
40:17 His tail is as stiff as a cedar, the sinews of his thighs are tightly knit.
40:18 His vertebrae are bronze tubing, his bones as hard as hammered iron.
40:19 He is the masterpiece of all God’s work, but his Maker threatened him with the sword,
40:20 forbidding him the mountain regions where all the wild beasts have their playground.
40:21 So he lies beneath the lotus, and hides among the reeds in the swamps.
40:22 The leaves of the lotus give him shade, the willows by the stream shelter him.
40:23 Should the river overflow on him, why should he worry? A Jordan could pour down his throat without his caring.
40:24 So who is going to catch him by the eyes or drive a peg through his nostrils?
40:25 Leviathan, too! Can you catch him with a fish-hook or run a line round his tongue?
40:26 Can you put a ring through his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook?
40:27 Will he plead and plead with you, will he coax you with smooth words?
40:28 Will he strike a bargain with you to become your slave for life?
40:29 Will you make a pet of him, like a bird, keep him on a lead to amuse your maids?
40:30 Is he to be sold by the fishing guild and then retailed by merchants?
40:31 Riddle his hide with darts? Prod his head with a harpoon?
40:32 You have only to lay a finger on him never to forget the struggle or risk it again!
JB JOB Chapter 41
41:1 Any hopes you might have would prove vain, for the mere sight of him would stagger you.
41:2 When roused, he grows ferocious, no one can face him in a fight.
41:3 Who can attack him with impunity? No one beneath all heaven.
41:4 Next I will talk of his limbs and describe his matchless strength.
41:5 Who can unloose the front of his coat or pierce the double armour of his breastplate?
41:6 Who dare open the gates of his mouth? Terror dwells in those rows of teeth!
41:7 His back is like rows of shields, sealed with a seal of stone,
41:8 touching each other so close that not a breath could pass between;
41:9 sticking to one another to make an indivisible whole.
41:10 When he sneezes, light leaps forth, his eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn.
41:11 From his mouth come fiery torches, sparks of fire fly out of it.
41:12 His nostrils belch smoke like a cauldron boiling on the fire.
41:13 His breath could kindle coals, so hot a flame issues from his mouth.
41:14 Strength has made a home in his neck, fear leaps before him as he goes.
41:17 When he stands up, the waves themselves take fright, the billows of the sea retreat.
41:15 The folds of his flesh stick together, firmly set in it, immovable.
41:16 His heart is as hard as rock unyielding as a millstone.
41:18 Sword may strike him, but cannot pierce him; no more can spear, javelin or lance.
41:19 Iron means no more to him than straw, nor bronze than rotten wood.
41:20 The arrow does not make him run, sling stones he treats as wisps of hay.
41:21 A club strikes him like a reed, he laughs at the whirring javelin.
41:22 He has sharp potsherds underneath, and moves across the slime like a harrow.
41:23 He churns the depths into a seething cauldron, he makes the sea fume like a scent burner.
41:24 Behind him he leaves a glittering wake-a white fleece seems to float on the deeps.
41:25 He has no equal on earth, being created without fear.
41:26 He looks the haughtiest in the eye; of all the sons of pride he is the king.
JB JOB Chapter 42
Job’s final answer
42:1 This was the answer Job gave to Yahweh:
42:2 I know that you are all-powerful: what you conceive, you can perform.
42:3 I am the man who obscured your designs with my empty-headed words. I have been holding forth on matters I cannot understand, on marvels beyond me and my knowledge.
42:4 (Listen, I have more to say, now it is my turn to ask questions and yours to inform me.)
42:5 I knew you then only by hearsay; but now, having seen you with my own eyes,
42:6 I retract all I have said, and in dust and ashes I repent.
Yahweh rebukes the three Sages
42:7 When Yahweh had said all this to Job, he turned to Eliphaz of Teman. ‘I burn with anger against you and your two friends’ he said ‘for not speaking truthfully about me as my servant Job has done.
42:8 So now find Seven bullocks and seven rams, and take them back with you to my servant Job and offer a holocaust for yourselves, while Job, my servant, offers prayers for you. I will listen to him with favour and excuse your folly in not speaking of me properly as your servant Job has done’
42:9 Eliphaz of Teman, Bildad of Shuah and Zophar of Naamath went away to do as Yahweh had ordered, and Yahweh listened to Job with favour.
Yahweh restores Job’s fortunes
42:10 Yahweh restored Job’s fortunes, because he had prayed for his friends. More than that, Yahweh gave him double what he had before.
42:11 And all his brothers and all his sisters and all his friends of former times came to see him and sat down at table with him. They showed him every sympathy, and comforted him for all the evils Yahweh had inflicted on him. Each of them gave him a silver coin, and each a gold ring.
42:12 Yahweh blessed Job’s new fortune even more than his first one. He came to own fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand she-donkeys.
42:13 He had seven sons and three daughters;
42:14 his first daughter he called ‘Turtledove’, the second ‘Cassia’ and the third ‘Mascara’.
42:15 Throughout the land there were no women as beautiful as the daughters of Job. And their father gave them inheritance rights like their brothers.
42:16 After his trials, Job lived on until he was a hundred and forty years old, and saw his children and his children’s children up to the fourth generation.
42:17 Then Job died, an old man and full of days.
END OF JB JOB [42 Chapters].