2 “How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, 3 when his lamp shone on my head and by his light I walked through darkness! 4 Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, 5 when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me, 6 when my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil.
7 “When I went to the gate of the city and took my seat in the public square, 8 the young men saw me and stepped aside and the old men rose to their feet; 9 the chief men refrained from speaking and covered their mouths with their hands; 10 the voices of the nobles were hushed, and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths. 11 Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, 12 because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them. 13 The one who was dying blessed me; I made the widow’s heart sing. 14 I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban. 15 I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. 16 I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. 17 I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth.
18 “I thought, ‘I will die in my own house, my days as numerous as the grains of sand. 19 My roots will reach to the water, and the dew will lie all night on my branches. 20 My glory will not fade; the bow will be ever new in my hand.’
21 “People listened to me expectantly, waiting in silence for my counsel. 22 After I had spoken, they spoke no more; my words fell gently on their ears. 23 They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain. 24 When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them.[a] 25 I chose the way for them and sat as their chief; I dwelt as a king among his troops; I was like one who comforts mourners.
Job 29:24The meaning of the Hebrew for this clause is uncertain.
30 “But now they mock me, men younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to put with my sheep dogs. 2 Of what use was the strength of their hands to me, since their vigor had gone from them? 3 Haggard from want and hunger, they roamed[a] the parched land in desolate wastelands at night. 4 In the brush they gathered salt herbs, and their food[b] was the root of the broom bush. 5 They were banished from human society, shouted at as if they were thieves. 6 They were forced to live in the dry stream beds, among the rocks and in holes in the ground. 7 They brayed among the bushes and huddled in the undergrowth. 8 A base and nameless brood, they were driven out of the land.
9 “And now those young men mock me in song; I have become a byword among them. 10 They detest me and keep their distance; they do not hesitate to spit in my face. 11 Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me, they throw off restraint in my presence. 12 On my right the tribe[c] attacks; they lay snares for my feet, they build their siege ramps against me. 13 They break up my road; they succeed in destroying me. ‘No one can help him,’ they say. 14 They advance as through a gaping breach; amid the ruins they come rolling in. 15 Terrors overwhelm me; my dignity is driven away as by the wind, my safety vanishes like a cloud.
16 “And now my life ebbs away; days of suffering grip me. 17 Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest. 18 In his great power God becomes like clothing to me[d]; he binds me like the neck of my garment. 19 He throws me into the mud, and I am reduced to dust and ashes.
20 “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. 21 You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me. 22 You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm. 23 I know you will bring me down to death, to the place appointed for all the living.
24 “Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man when he cries for help in his distress. 25 Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor? 26 Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness. 27 The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me. 28 I go about blackened, but not by the sun; I stand up in the assembly and cry for help. 29 I have become a brother of jackals, a companion of owls. 30 My skin grows black and peels; my body burns with fever. 31 My lyre is tuned to mourning, and my pipe to the sound of wailing.
31 “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman. 2 For what is our lot from God above, our heritage from the Almighty on high? 3 Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? 4 Does he not see my ways and count my every step?
5 “If I have walked with falsehood or my foot has hurried after deceit— 6 let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless— 7 if my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, 8 then may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted.
9 “If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I have lurked at my neighbor’s door, 10 then may my wife grind another man’s grain, and may other men sleep with her. 11 For that would have been wicked, a sin to be judged. 12 It is a fire that burns to Destruction[a]; it would have uprooted my harvest.
13 “If I have denied justice to any of my servants, whether male or female, when they had a grievance against me, 14 what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account? 15 Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?
16 “If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary, 17 if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless— 18 but from my youth I reared them as a father would, and from my birth I guided the widow— 19 if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or the needy without garments, 20 and their hearts did not bless me for warming them with the fleece from my sheep, 21 if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing that I had influence in court, 22 then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint. 23 For I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things.
24 “If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security,’ 25 if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained, 26 if I have regarded the sun in its radiance or the moon moving in splendor, 27 so that my heart was secretly enticed and my hand offered them a kiss of homage, 28 then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high.
29 “If I have rejoiced at my enemy’s misfortune or gloated over the trouble that came to him— 30 I have not allowed my mouth to sin by invoking a curse against their life— 31 if those of my household have never said, ‘Who has not been filled with Job’s meat?’— 32 but no stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler— 33 if I have concealed my sin as people do,[b] by hiding my guilt in my heart 34 because I so feared the crowd and so dreaded the contempt of the clans that I kept silent and would not go outside—
35 (“Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense—let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing. 36 Surely I would wear it on my shoulder, I would put it on like a crown. 37 I would give him an account of my every step; I would present it to him as to a ruler.)—
38 “if my land cries out against me and all its furrows are wet with tears, 39 if I have devoured its yield without payment or broken the spirit of its tenants, 40 then let briers come up instead of wheat and stinkweed instead of barley.”
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