24 Job: Why are there not judgment times for the wicked before the Highest One?[a]
Why do those who know Him not see His judgment days?
2 After all it’s the wicked who seize land that belongs to others,
capture flocks and let them graze for themselves,
3 Drive off orphans’ donkeys,
take as collateral widows’ oxen,
4 Drive the needy off the road,
and force the poor into hiding together.
5 Look at how the poor are forced to live!
Like wild donkeys in the desert,
They spend all their energy scrounging for food,
hoping the desert provides enough to feed their children!
6 They forage for scraps out in the open
and glean what they can from the already-harvested vineyards of the wicked.
7 They settle down night after night, naked since pawning their cloaks,
and have nothing to protect them from the cold.
8 The hard mountain rains soak them
as they press themselves against rocks in the absence of real shelter;
9 The fatherless child is torn away from the breast;
the suckling babe is seized as collateral from the poor.
10 They force the poor to wander naked, no clothing to be had,
carrying the very bundles of grain they long to eat.
11 They are stationed among the terraces[b]
pressing oil from the olive that calls to their hunger;
they trample in winepresses, extracting the juice for which they thirst.
12 At the outskirts of the city, the oppressed groan,
wounded souls crying for help,
but God fails to charge the guilty who have brought them such pain.
13 They were among those who rebel against the light.
They don’t want to know what makes it shine,
nor do they live their lives in its paths.
14 It is not the poor and the victim who rebel.
It is the murderer who rises before first light
And kills the poor and the needy.
And in the dark of night, he becomes the thief.
15 And the eye of the adulterer waits for the onset of dusk;
he thinks, “No one will see me,” because he disguises his face.
16 And others break into homes in the dark.
However, by day they shut themselves up inside
because they do not know the light.
17 For all of these criminals,
the morning arrives arm in arm with the threat of being found out.
It is as the shadow of death to them,
for they are at ease with the terrors of the night.
This passage is challenging to translate because it appears to have Job arguing against his previous convictions by claiming the wicked do suffer, which fits better with Zophar’s philosophy. But that textual difficulty offers two possible explanations of Job’s apparent dual arguments. First, it is possible to read these verses as if Job is quoting his friends; he is not adopting this theology, but mocking his friends who do. Second, Job may be cursing the wicked, wishing these evil things would happen to them. The Greek version of the text, called the Septuagint, provides the second translation of this passage. Regardless of who said it and how, this passage describes the possible pitfalls of evil actions.
18 Job: The wicked may sit lightly on the surface of the waters,
but their bit of land, the parcel on which they live, is accursed;
In fact, they don’t even turn down the road to their vineyards
because they don’t produce.
19 Just as summer’s heat and drought melt and carry off the winter snow,
the land of the dead digests and carries away sinners.
20 The very wombs whence they came forget them;
the worms will feast on them until no one remembers they existed;
the skeletons of wickedness dry up and snap like twigs.
21 They deliberately prey on women with no children to protect them
and don’t care to lend a hand to widows!
22 By His power, God drags off the high and mighty with the ropes of a hunter,
and though they may rise to the top, they have no assurance of true life.
23 God may provide for them, and they may feel secure,
but His eyes are always on their ways.
24 They may make their mark—to be sure—in a brief moment of glory,
but then just as quickly the wicked are gone, like the rest of humanity,
like heads of grain cut off and dried up.
25 Now, if this is not the truth, then call me a liar
and count all this talk for nothing.