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Job’s Third Speech: A Response to Bildad

Then Job spoke again:

“Yes, I know all this is true in principle.
    But how can a person be declared innocent in God’s sight?
If someone wanted to take God to court,[a]
    would it be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times?
For God is so wise and so mighty.
    Who has ever challenged him successfully?

“Without warning, he moves the mountains,
    overturning them in his anger.
He shakes the earth from its place,
    and its foundations tremble.
If he commands it, the sun won’t rise
    and the stars won’t shine.
He alone has spread out the heavens
    and marches on the waves of the sea.
He made all the stars—the Bear and Orion,
    the Pleiades and the constellations of the southern sky.
10 He does great things too marvelous to understand.
    He performs countless miracles.

11 “Yet when he comes near, I cannot see him.
    When he moves by, I do not see him go.
12 If he snatches someone in death, who can stop him?
    Who dares to ask, ‘What are you doing?’
13 And God does not restrain his anger.
    Even the monsters of the sea[b] are crushed beneath his feet.

14 “So who am I, that I should try to answer God
    or even reason with him?
15 Even if I were right, I would have no defense.
    I could only plead for mercy.
16 And even if I summoned him and he responded,
    I’m not sure he would listen to me.
17 For he attacks me with a storm
    and repeatedly wounds me without cause.
18 He will not let me catch my breath,
    but fills me instead with bitter sorrows.
19 If it’s a question of strength, he’s the strong one.
    If it’s a matter of justice, who dares to summon him[c] to court?
20 Though I am innocent, my own mouth would pronounce me guilty.
    Though I am blameless, it[d] would prove me wicked.

21 “I am innocent,
    but it makes no difference to me—
    I despise my life.
22 Innocent or wicked, it is all the same to God.
    That’s why I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’
23 When a plague[e] sweeps through,
    he laughs at the death of the innocent.
24 The whole earth is in the hands of the wicked,
    and God blinds the eyes of the judges.
    If he’s not the one who does it, who is?

25 “My life passes more swiftly than a runner.
    It flees away without a glimpse of happiness.
26 It disappears like a swift papyrus boat,
    like an eagle swooping down on its prey.
27 If I decided to forget my complaints,
    to put away my sad face and be cheerful,
28 I would still dread all the pain,
    for I know you will not find me innocent, O God.
29 Whatever happens, I will be found guilty.
    So what’s the use of trying?
30 Even if I were to wash myself with soap
    and clean my hands with lye,
31 you would plunge me into a muddy ditch,
    and my own filthy clothing would hate me.

32 “God is not a mortal like me,
    so I cannot argue with him or take him to trial.
33 If only there were a mediator between us,
    someone who could bring us together.
34 The mediator could make God stop beating me,
    and I would no longer live in terror of his punishment.
35 Then I could speak to him without fear,
    but I cannot do that in my own strength.

Job Frames His Plea to God

10 “I am disgusted with my life.
    Let me complain freely.
    My bitter soul must complain.
I will say to God, ‘Don’t simply condemn me—
    tell me the charge you are bringing against me.
What do you gain by oppressing me?
    Why do you reject me, the work of your own hands,
    while smiling on the schemes of the wicked?
Are your eyes like those of a human?
    Do you see things only as people see them?
Is your lifetime only as long as ours?
    Is your life so short
that you must quickly probe for my guilt
    and search for my sin?
Although you know I am not guilty,
    no one can rescue me from your hands.

“‘You formed me with your hands; you made me,
    yet now you completely destroy me.
Remember that you made me from dust—
    will you turn me back to dust so soon?
10 You guided my conception
    and formed me in the womb.[f]
11 You clothed me with skin and flesh,
    and you knit my bones and sinews together.
12 You gave me life and showed me your unfailing love.
    My life was preserved by your care.

13 “‘Yet your real motive—
    your true intent—
14 was to watch me, and if I sinned,
    you would not forgive my guilt.
15 If I am guilty, too bad for me;
    and even if I’m innocent, I can’t hold my head high,
    because I am filled with shame and misery.
16 And if I hold my head high, you hunt me like a lion
    and display your awesome power against me.
17 Again and again you witness against me.
    You pour out your growing anger on me
    and bring fresh armies against me.

18 “‘Why, then, did you deliver me from my mother’s womb?
    Why didn’t you let me die at birth?
19 It would be as though I had never existed,
    going directly from the womb to the grave.
20 I have only a few days left, so leave me alone,
    that I may have a moment of comfort
21 before I leave—never to return—
    for the land of darkness and utter gloom.
22 It is a land as dark as midnight,
    a land of gloom and confusion,
    where even the light is dark as midnight.’”

Footnotes

  1. 9:3 Or If God wanted to take someone to court.
  2. 9:13 Hebrew the helpers of Rahab, the name of a mythical sea monster that represents chaos in ancient literature.
  3. 9:19 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads me.
  4. 9:20 Or he.
  5. 9:23 Or disaster.
  6. 10:10 Hebrew You poured me out like milk / and curdled me like cheese.

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