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Chapter 31

I made a covenant with my eyes
    not to gaze upon a virgin.
What portion comes from God above,
    what heritage from the Almighty on high?
Is it not calamity for the unrighteous,
    and woe for evildoers?
Does he not see my ways,
    and number all my steps?(A)
If I have walked in falsehood[a]
    and my foot has hastened to deceit,
Let God weigh me in the scales of justice;
    thus will he know my innocence!(B)
If my steps have turned out of the way,
    and my heart has followed my eyes,
    or any stain clings to my hands,
Then may I sow, but another eat,
    and may my produce be rooted up!
If my heart has been enticed toward a woman,
    and I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door;
10 Then may my wife grind for another,
    and may others kneel over her!
11 For that would be heinous,
    a crime to be condemned,(C)
12 A fire that would consume down to Abaddon[b]
    till it uprooted all my crops.(D)
13 Had I refused justice to my manservant
    or to my maidservant, when they had a complaint against me,
14 What then should I do when God rises up?
    What could I answer when he demands an account?
15 Did not he who made me in the belly make him?
    Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?
16 If I have denied anything that the poor desired,(E)
    or allowed the eyes of the widow to languish
17 While I ate my portion alone,
    with no share in it for the fatherless,
18 Though like a father he[c] has reared me from my youth,
    guiding me even from my mother’s womb—
19 If I have seen a wanderer without clothing,
    or a poor man without covering,
20 Whose limbs have not blessed me
    when warmed with the fleece of my sheep;
21 If I have raised my hand against the innocent
    because I saw that I had supporters at the gate—[d]
22 Then may my arm fall from the shoulder,
    my forearm be broken at the elbow!
23 For I dread calamity from God,
    and his majesty will overpower me.
24 Had I put my trust in gold
    or called fine gold my security;
25 Or had I rejoiced that my wealth was great,
    or that my hand had acquired abundance—
26 Had I looked upon the light[e] as it shone,(F)
    or the moon in the splendor of its progress,
27 And had my heart been secretly enticed
    to blow them a kiss with my hand,
28 This too would be a crime for condemnation,
    for I should have denied God above.(G)
29 Had I rejoiced at the destruction of my enemy
    or exulted when evil came upon him,(H)
30 Even though I had not allowed my mouth to sin
    by invoking a curse against his life—
31 Had not the men of my tent exclaimed,
    “Who has not been filled with his meat!”[f]
32 No stranger lodged in the street,
    for I opened my door to wayfarers—
33 [g]Had I, all too human, hidden my sins
    and buried my guilt in my bosom
34 Because I feared the great multitude
    and the scorn of the clans terrified me—
    then I should have remained silent, and not come out of doors!
35 [h]Oh, that I had one to hear my case:
    here is my signature:[i] let the Almighty answer me!
Let my accuser write out his indictment!(I)
36 Surely, I should wear it on my shoulder[j]
    or put it on me like a diadem;
37 Of all my steps I should give him an account;
    like a prince[k] I should present myself before him.
38 If my land has cried out against me
    till its furrows wept together;
39 If I have eaten its strength without payment
    and grieved the hearts of its tenants;
40 Then let the thorns grow instead of wheat
    and stinkweed instead of barley!

The words of Job are ended.


  1. 31:5–34 In a series of purificatory oaths, Job protests his innocence.
  2. 31:12 Abaddon: see note on 26:6.
  3. 31:18 He: presumably God.
  4. 31:21 Gate: cf. notes on 5:4; Ru 4:1.
  5. 31:26–28 Light: of the sun. Job never sinned by worshiping the sun or the moon. Blow them a kiss: an act of idolatrous worship.
  6. 31:31 The members of his extended family will testify to his hospitality.
  7. 31:33–34 Job’s present protest is made, not in spite of hidden sins which he had been unwilling to disclose, but out of genuine innocence. All too human: can also be translated “like Adam.”
  8. 31:35–37 This concluding bravado fits better after v. 40a.
  9. 31:35 My signature: lit., “tau,” the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, shaped like a cross. Job issues a subpoena to God, and challenges him to follow proper legal procedure as well.
  10. 31:36 On my shoulder: i.e., boldly, proudly.
  11. 31:37 Like a prince: not as a frightened criminal.