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Job Speaks: The Futility of Arguing with God

Then Job replied to his friends,

“Yes, I know that this is true.
    But how can a mortal be declared righteous to El?
If he wished to debate with El,
    he wouldn’t be able to answer one question in a thousand.

El is wise in heart and mighty in power.
    Who could oppose him and win?
He moves mountains without their knowing it,
    and he topples them in his anger.
He shakes the earth from its place,
    and its pillars tremble.
He commands the sun not to rise.
    He doesn’t let the stars come out.
He stretches out the heavens by himself
    and walks on the waves of the sea.
He made the constellations Ursa Major, Orion, and the Pleiades,
    and the clusters of stars in the south.
10 He does great things that are unsearchable
    and miracles that cannot be numbered.
11 He passes alongside of me, and I don’t even see him.
    He goes past me, and I don’t even notice him.
12 He takes something away, but who can stop him?
    Who is going to ask him, ‘What are you doing?’
13 Eloah does not hold back his anger.
    Even Rahab’s[a] helpers bow humbly in front of him.

14 “How can I possibly answer Eloah?
    How can I find the right words to speak with him?
15 Even if I were right, I could not answer him.
    I would have to plead for mercy from my judge.
16 If I cried out and he answered me,
    I do not believe that he would listen to me.
17 He would knock me down with a storm
    and bruise me without a reason.
18 He would not let me catch my breath.
    He fills me with bitterness.
19 If it is a matter of strength,
    then he is the mighty one.
    If it is about justice,
    who will charge me with a crime?
20 If I am righteous, my own mouth would condemn me.
    It would declare that I am corrupt even if I am a man of integrity.
21 If I am a man of integrity, I have no way of knowing it.
    I hate my life!
22 It is all the same.
    That is why I say,
        ‘He destroys both the man of integrity and the wicked.’
23 When a sudden disaster brings death,
    he makes fun of the despair of innocent people.
24 The earth is handed over to the wicked.
    He covers the faces of its judges.
        If he isn’t the one doing this, who is?

25 “My days go by more quickly than a runner.
    They sprint away.
    They don’t see anything good.
26 They pass by quickly like boats made from reeds,
    like an eagle swooping down on its prey.
27 Even if I say, ‘I will forget my complaining;
    I will change my expression and smile,’
28 I still dread everything I must suffer.
    I know that you won’t declare me innocent.
29 I’ve already been found guilty.
    Why should I work so hard for nothing?
30 If I wash myself with lye soap[b]
    and cleanse my hands with bleach,
31 then you would plunge me into a muddy pit,
    and my own clothes would find me disgusting.
32 A human like me cannot answer Eloah,
    ‘Let’s take our case to court.’
33 There is no mediator between us
    to put his hand on both of us.
34 Eloah should take his rod away from me,
    and he should not terrify me.[c]
35 Then I would speak and not be afraid of him.
    But I know that I am not like that.[d]


  1. Job 9:13 Rahab is the name of a demonic creature who opposes God.
  2. Job 9:30 Or “with water made from snow.”
  3. Job 9:34 Or “If there were a mediator between us to put his hand on both of us, he would remove his rod from me, and no longer terrify me.”
  4. Job 9:35 Hebrew meaning of this line uncertain.