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Job Replies: The Wicked Often Go Unpunished

21 Then Job answered:

“Listen carefully to my words,
    and let this be your consolation.
Bear with me, and I will speak;
    then after I have spoken, mock on.
As for me, is my complaint addressed to mortals?
    Why should I not be impatient?
Look at me, and be appalled,
    and lay your hand upon your mouth.
When I think of it I am dismayed,
    and shuddering seizes my flesh.
Why do the wicked live on,
    reach old age, and grow mighty in power?
Their children are established in their presence,
    and their offspring before their eyes.
Their houses are safe from fear,
    and no rod of God is upon them.
10 Their bull breeds without fail;
    their cow calves and never miscarries.
11 They send out their little ones like a flock,
    and their children dance around.
12 They sing to the tambourine and the lyre,
    and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.
13 They spend their days in prosperity,
    and in peace they go down to Sheol.
14 They say to God, ‘Leave us alone!
    We do not desire to know your ways.
15 What is the Almighty,[a] that we should serve him?
    And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’
16 Is not their prosperity indeed their own achievement?[b]
    The plans of the wicked are repugnant to me.

17 “How often is the lamp of the wicked put out?
    How often does calamity come upon them?
    How often does God[c] distribute pains in his anger?
18 How often are they like straw before the wind,
    and like chaff that the storm carries away?
19 You say, ‘God stores up their iniquity for their children.’
    Let it be paid back to them, so that they may know it.
20 Let their own eyes see their destruction,
    and let them drink of the wrath of the Almighty.[d]
21 For what do they care for their household after them,
    when the number of their months is cut off?
22 Will any teach God knowledge,
    seeing that he judges those that are on high?
23 One dies in full prosperity,
    being wholly at ease and secure,
24 his loins full of milk
    and the marrow of his bones moist.
25 Another dies in bitterness of soul,
    never having tasted of good.
26 They lie down alike in the dust,
    and the worms cover them.

27 “Oh, I know your thoughts,
    and your schemes to wrong me.
28 For you say, ‘Where is the house of the prince?
    Where is the tent in which the wicked lived?’
29 Have you not asked those who travel the roads,
    and do you not accept their testimony,
30 that the wicked are spared in the day of calamity,
    and are rescued in the day of wrath?
31 Who declares their way to their face,
    and who repays them for what they have done?
32 When they are carried to the grave,
    a watch is kept over their tomb.
33 The clods of the valley are sweet to them;
    everyone will follow after,
    and those who went before are innumerable.
34 How then will you comfort me with empty nothings?
    There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.”

Eliphaz Speaks: Job’s Wickedness Is Great

22 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:

“Can a mortal be of use to God?
    Can even the wisest be of service to him?
Is it any pleasure to the Almighty[e] if you are righteous,
    or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless?
Is it for your piety that he reproves you,
    and enters into judgment with you?
Is not your wickedness great?
    There is no end to your iniquities.
For you have exacted pledges from your family for no reason,
    and stripped the naked of their clothing.
You have given no water to the weary to drink,
    and you have withheld bread from the hungry.
The powerful possess the land,
    and the favored live in it.
You have sent widows away empty-handed,
    and the arms of the orphans you have crushed.[f]
10 Therefore snares are around you,
    and sudden terror overwhelms you,
11 or darkness so that you cannot see;
    a flood of water covers you.

12 “Is not God high in the heavens?
    See the highest stars, how lofty they are!
13 Therefore you say, ‘What does God know?
    Can he judge through the deep darkness?
14 Thick clouds enwrap him, so that he does not see,
    and he walks on the dome of heaven.’
15 Will you keep to the old way
    that the wicked have trod?
16 They were snatched away before their time;
    their foundation was washed away by a flood.
17 They said to God, ‘Leave us alone,’
    and ‘What can the Almighty[g] do to us?’[h]
18 Yet he filled their houses with good things—
    but the plans of the wicked are repugnant to me.
19 The righteous see it and are glad;
    the innocent laugh them to scorn,
20 saying, ‘Surely our adversaries are cut off,
    and what they left, the fire has consumed.’

21 “Agree with God,[i] and be at peace;
    in this way good will come to you.
22 Receive instruction from his mouth,
    and lay up his words in your heart.
23 If you return to the Almighty,[j] you will be restored,
    if you remove unrighteousness from your tents,
24 if you treat gold like dust,
    and gold of Ophir like the stones of the torrent-bed,
25 and if the Almighty[k] is your gold
    and your precious silver,
26 then you will delight yourself in the Almighty,[l]
    and lift up your face to God.
27 You will pray to him, and he will hear you,
    and you will pay your vows.
28 You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you,
    and light will shine on your ways.
29 When others are humiliated, you say it is pride;
    for he saves the humble.
30 He will deliver even those who are guilty;
    they will escape because of the cleanness of your hands.”[m]

Job Replies: My Complaint Is Bitter

23 Then Job answered:

“Today also my complaint is bitter;[n]
    his[o] hand is heavy despite my groaning.
Oh, that I knew where I might find him,
    that I might come even to his dwelling!
I would lay my case before him,
    and fill my mouth with arguments.
I would learn what he would answer me,
    and understand what he would say to me.
Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?
    No; but he would give heed to me.
There an upright person could reason with him,
    and I should be acquitted forever by my judge.

“If I go forward, he is not there;
    or backward, I cannot perceive him;
on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him;
    I turn[p] to the right, but I cannot see him.
10 But he knows the way that I take;
    when he has tested me, I shall come out like gold.
11 My foot has held fast to his steps;
    I have kept his way and have not turned aside.
12 I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
    I have treasured in[q] my bosom the words of his mouth.
13 But he stands alone and who can dissuade him?
    What he desires, that he does.
14 For he will complete what he appoints for me;
    and many such things are in his mind.
15 Therefore I am terrified at his presence;
    when I consider, I am in dread of him.
16 God has made my heart faint;
    the Almighty[r] has terrified me;
17 If only I could vanish in darkness,
    and thick darkness would cover my face![s]

Job Complains of Violence on the Earth

24 “Why are times not kept by the Almighty,[t]
    and why do those who know him never see his days?
The wicked[u] remove landmarks;
    they seize flocks and pasture them.
They drive away the donkey of the orphan;
    they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.
They thrust the needy off the road;
    the poor of the earth all hide themselves.
Like wild asses in the desert
    they go out to their toil,
scavenging in the wasteland
    food for their young.
They reap in a field not their own
    and they glean in the vineyard of the wicked.
They lie all night naked, without clothing,
    and have no covering in the cold.
They are wet with the rain of the mountains,
    and cling to the rock for want of shelter.

“There are those who snatch the orphan child from the breast,
    and take as a pledge the infant of the poor.
10 They go about naked, without clothing;
    though hungry, they carry the sheaves;
11 between their terraces[v] they press out oil;
    they tread the wine presses, but suffer thirst.
12 From the city the dying groan,
    and the throat of the wounded cries for help;
    yet God pays no attention to their prayer.

13 “There are those who rebel against the light,
    who are not acquainted with its ways,
    and do not stay in its paths.
14 The murderer rises at dusk
    to kill the poor and needy,
    and in the night is like a thief.
15 The eye of the adulterer also waits for the twilight,
    saying, ‘No eye will see me’;
    and he disguises his face.
16 In the dark they dig through houses;
    by day they shut themselves up;
    they do not know the light.
17 For deep darkness is morning to all of them;
    for they are friends with the terrors of deep darkness.

18 “Swift are they on the face of the waters;
    their portion in the land is cursed;
    no treader turns toward their vineyards.
19 Drought and heat snatch away the snow waters;
    so does Sheol those who have sinned.
20 The womb forgets them;
    the worm finds them sweet;
they are no longer remembered;
    so wickedness is broken like a tree.

21 “They harm[w] the childless woman,
    and do no good to the widow.
22 Yet God[x] prolongs the life of the mighty by his power;
    they rise up when they despair of life.
23 He gives them security, and they are supported;
    his eyes are upon their ways.
24 They are exalted a little while, and then are gone;
    they wither and fade like the mallow;[y]
    they are cut off like the heads of grain.
25 If it is not so, who will prove me a liar,
    and show that there is nothing in what I say?”

Footnotes

  1. Job 21:15 Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai
  2. Job 21:16 Heb in their hand
  3. Job 21:17 Heb he
  4. Job 21:20 Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai
  5. Job 22:3 Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai
  6. Job 22:9 Gk Syr Tg Vg: Heb were crushed
  7. Job 22:17 Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai
  8. Job 22:17 Gk Syr: Heb them
  9. Job 22:21 Heb him
  10. Job 22:23 Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai
  11. Job 22:25 Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai
  12. Job 22:26 Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai
  13. Job 22:30 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  14. Job 23:2 Syr Vg Tg: Heb rebellious
  15. Job 23:2 Gk Syr: Heb my
  16. Job 23:9 Syr Vg: Heb he turns
  17. Job 23:12 Gk Vg: Heb from
  18. Job 23:16 Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai
  19. Job 23:17 Or But I am not destroyed by the darkness; he has concealed the thick darkness from me
  20. Job 24:1 Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai
  21. Job 24:2 Gk: Heb they
  22. Job 24:11 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  23. Job 24:21 Gk Tg: Heb feed on or associate with
  24. Job 24:22 Heb he
  25. Job 24:24 Gk: Heb like all others

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