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Bildad Speaks: How Can a Mortal Be Righteous Before God?

25 Then Bildad the Shuhite answered:

“Dominion and fear are with God;[a]
    he makes peace in his high heaven.
Is there any number to his armies?
    Upon whom does his light not arise?
How then can a mortal be righteous before God?
    How can one born of woman be pure?
If even the moon is not bright
    and the stars are not pure in his sight,
how much less a mortal, who is a maggot,
    and a human being, who is a worm!”

Job Replies: God’s Majesty Is Unsearchable

26 Then Job answered:

“How you have helped one who has no power!
    How you have assisted the arm that has no strength!
How you have counseled one who has no wisdom,
    and given much good advice!
With whose help have you uttered words,
    and whose spirit has come forth from you?
The shades below tremble,
    the waters and their inhabitants.
Sheol is naked before God,
    and Abaddon has no covering.
He stretches out Zaphon[b] over the void,
    and hangs the earth upon nothing.
He binds up the waters in his thick clouds,
    and the cloud is not torn open by them.
He covers the face of the full moon,
    and spreads over it his cloud.
10 He has described a circle on the face of the waters,
    at the boundary between light and darkness.
11 The pillars of heaven tremble,
    and are astounded at his rebuke.
12 By his power he stilled the Sea;
    by his understanding he struck down Rahab.
13 By his wind the heavens were made fair;
    his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
14 These are indeed but the outskirts of his ways;
    and how small a whisper do we hear of him!
    But the thunder of his power who can understand?”

Job Maintains His Integrity

27 Job again took up his discourse and said:

“As God lives, who has taken away my right,
    and the Almighty,[c] who has made my soul bitter,
as long as my breath is in me
    and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,
my lips will not speak falsehood,
    and my tongue will not utter deceit.
Far be it from me to say that you are right;
    until I die I will not put away my integrity from me.
I hold fast my righteousness, and will not let it go;
    my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.

“May my enemy be like the wicked,
    and may my opponent be like the unrighteous.
For what is the hope of the godless when God cuts them off,
    when God takes away their lives?
Will God hear their cry
    when trouble comes upon them?
10 Will they take delight in the Almighty?[d]
    Will they call upon God at all times?
11 I will teach you concerning the hand of God;
    that which is with the Almighty[e] I will not conceal.
12 All of you have seen it yourselves;
    why then have you become altogether vain?

13 “This is the portion of the wicked with God,
    and the heritage that oppressors receive from the Almighty:[f]
14 If their children are multiplied, it is for the sword;
    and their offspring have not enough to eat.
15 Those who survive them the pestilence buries,
    and their widows make no lamentation.
16 Though they heap up silver like dust,
    and pile up clothing like clay—
17 they may pile it up, but the just will wear it,
    and the innocent will divide the silver.
18 They build their houses like nests,
    like booths made by sentinels of the vineyard.
19 They go to bed with wealth, but will do so no more;
    they open their eyes, and it is gone.
20 Terrors overtake them like a flood;
    in the night a whirlwind carries them off.
21 The east wind lifts them up and they are gone;
    it sweeps them out of their place.
22 It[g] hurls at them without pity;
    they flee from its[h] power in headlong flight.
23 It[i] claps its[j] hands at them,
    and hisses at them from its[k] place.

Interlude: Where Wisdom Is Found

28 “Surely there is a mine for silver,
    and a place for gold to be refined.
Iron is taken out of the earth,
    and copper is smelted from ore.
Miners put[l] an end to darkness,
    and search out to the farthest bound
    the ore in gloom and deep darkness.
They open shafts in a valley away from human habitation;
    they are forgotten by travelers,
    they sway suspended, remote from people.
As for the earth, out of it comes bread;
    but underneath it is turned up as by fire.
Its stones are the place of sapphires,[m]
    and its dust contains gold.

“That path no bird of prey knows,
    and the falcon’s eye has not seen it.
The proud wild animals have not trodden it;
    the lion has not passed over it.

“They put their hand to the flinty rock,
    and overturn mountains by the roots.
10 They cut out channels in the rocks,
    and their eyes see every precious thing.
11 The sources of the rivers they probe;[n]
    hidden things they bring to light.

12 “But where shall wisdom be found?
    And where is the place of understanding?
13 Mortals do not know the way to it,[o]
    and it is not found in the land of the living.
14 The deep says, ‘It is not in me,’
    and the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’
15 It cannot be gotten for gold,
    and silver cannot be weighed out as its price.
16 It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir,
    in precious onyx or sapphire.[p]
17 Gold and glass cannot equal it,
    nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold.
18 No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal;
    the price of wisdom is above pearls.
19 The chrysolite of Ethiopia[q] cannot compare with it,
    nor can it be valued in pure gold.

20 “Where then does wisdom come from?
    And where is the place of understanding?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living,
    and concealed from the birds of the air.
22 Abaddon and Death say,
    ‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.’

23 “God understands the way to it,
    and he knows its place.
24 For he looks to the ends of the earth,
    and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When he gave to the wind its weight,
    and apportioned out the waters by measure;
26 when he made a decree for the rain,
    and a way for the thunderbolt;
27 then he saw it and declared it;
    he established it, and searched it out.
28 And he said to humankind,
‘Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
    and to depart from evil is understanding.’”

Job Finishes His Defense

29 Job again took up his discourse and said:

“O that I were as in the months of old,
    as in the days when God watched over me;
when his lamp shone over my head,
    and by his light I walked through darkness;
when I was in my prime,
    when the friendship of God was upon my tent;
when the Almighty[r] was still with me,
    when my children were around me;
when my steps were washed with milk,
    and the rock poured out for me streams of oil!
When I went out to the gate of the city,
    when I took my seat in the square,
the young men saw me and withdrew,
    and the aged rose up and stood;
the nobles refrained from talking,
    and laid their hands on their mouths;
10 the voices of princes were hushed,
    and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths.
11 When the ear heard, it commended me,
    and when the eye saw, it approved;
12 because I delivered the poor who cried,
    and the orphan who had no helper.
13 The blessing of the wretched came upon me,
    and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;
    my justice was like a robe and a turban.
15 I was eyes to the blind,
    and feet to the lame.
16 I was a father to the needy,
    and I championed the cause of the stranger.
17 I broke the fangs of the unrighteous,
    and made them drop their prey from their teeth.
18 Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest,
    and I shall multiply my days like the phoenix;[s]
19 my roots spread out to the waters,
    with the dew all night on my branches;
20 my glory was fresh with me,
    and my bow ever new in my hand.’

21 “They listened to me, and waited,
    and kept silence for my counsel.
22 After I spoke they did not speak again,
    and my word dropped upon them like dew.[t]
23 They waited for me as for the rain;
    they opened their mouths as for the spring rain.
24 I smiled on them when they had no confidence;
    and the light of my countenance they did not extinguish.[u]
25 I chose their way, and sat as chief,
    and I lived like a king among his troops,
    like one who comforts mourners.

30 “But now they make sport of me,
    those who are younger than I,
whose fathers I would have disdained
    to set with the dogs of my flock.
What could I gain from the strength of their hands?
    All their vigor is gone.
Through want and hard hunger
    they gnaw the dry and desolate ground,
they pick mallow and the leaves of bushes,
    and to warm themselves the roots of broom.
They are driven out from society;
    people shout after them as after a thief.
In the gullies of wadis they must live,
    in holes in the ground, and in the rocks.
Among the bushes they bray;
    under the nettles they huddle together.
A senseless, disreputable brood,
    they have been whipped out of the land.

“And now they mock me in song;
    I am a byword to them.
10 They abhor me, they keep aloof from me;
    they do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me.
11 Because God has loosed my bowstring and humbled me,
    they have cast off restraint in my presence.
12 On my right hand the rabble rise up;
    they send me sprawling,
    and build roads for my ruin.
13 They break up my path,
    they promote my calamity;
    no one restrains[v] them.
14 As through a wide breach they come;
    amid the crash they roll on.
15 Terrors are turned upon me;
    my honor is pursued as by the wind,
    and my prosperity has passed away like a cloud.

16 “And now my soul is poured out within me;
    days of affliction have taken hold of me.
17 The night racks my bones,
    and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest.
18 With violence he seizes my garment;[w]
    he grasps me by[x] the collar of my tunic.
19 He has cast me into the mire,
    and I have become like dust and ashes.
20 I cry to you and you do not answer me;
    I stand, and you merely look at me.
21 You have turned cruel to me;
    with the might of your hand you persecute me.
22 You lift me up on the wind, you make me ride on it,
    and you toss me about in the roar of the storm.
23 I know that you will bring me to death,
    and to the house appointed for all living.

24 “Surely one does not turn against the needy,[y]
    when in disaster they cry for help.[z]
25 Did I not weep for those whose day was hard?
    Was not my soul grieved for the poor?
26 But when I looked for good, evil came;
    and when I waited for light, darkness came.
27 My inward parts are in turmoil, and are never still;
    days of affliction come to meet me.
28 I go about in sunless gloom;
    I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.
29 I am a brother of jackals,
    and a companion of ostriches.
30 My skin turns black and falls from me,
    and my bones burn with heat.
31 My lyre is turned to mourning,
    and my pipe to the voice of those who weep.

Footnotes

  1. Job 25:2 Heb him
  2. Job 26:7 Or the North
  3. Job 27:2 Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai
  4. Job 27:10 Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai
  5. Job 27:11 Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai
  6. Job 27:13 Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai
  7. Job 27:22 Or He (that is God)
  8. Job 27:22 Or his
  9. Job 27:23 Or He (that is God)
  10. Job 27:23 Or his
  11. Job 27:23 Or his
  12. Job 28:3 Heb He puts
  13. Job 28:6 Or lapis lazuli
  14. Job 28:11 Gk Vg: Heb bind
  15. Job 28:13 Gk: Heb its price
  16. Job 28:16 Or lapis lazuli
  17. Job 28:19 Or Nubia; Heb Cush
  18. Job 29:5 Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai
  19. Job 29:18 Or like sand
  20. Job 29:22 Heb lacks like dew
  21. Job 29:24 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  22. Job 30:13 Cn: Heb helps
  23. Job 30:18 Gk: Heb my garment is disfigured
  24. Job 30:18 Heb like
  25. Job 30:24 Heb ruin
  26. Job 30:24 Cn: Meaning of Heb uncertain

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