Add parallel Print Page Options

VIII. The Lord and Job Meet

Chapter 38

Then the Lord[a] answered Job out of the storm and said:

Who is this who darkens counsel
    with words of ignorance?
Gird up your loins[b] now, like a man;
    I will question you, and you tell me the answers!(A)
Where were you when I founded the earth?
    Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its size? Surely you know?
    Who stretched out the measuring line for it?
Into what were its pedestals sunk,
    and who laid its cornerstone,
While the morning stars sang together
    and all the sons of God[c] shouted for joy?
Who shut within doors the sea,
    when it burst forth from the womb,(B)
When I made the clouds its garment
    and thick darkness its swaddling bands?
10 When I set limits for it
    and fastened the bar of its door,
11 And said: Thus far shall you come but no farther,
    and here shall your proud waves stop?
12 Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning
    and shown the dawn its place
13 For taking hold of the ends of the earth,
    till the wicked are shaken from it?
14 The earth is changed as clay by the seal,
    and dyed like a garment;
15 But from the wicked their light is withheld,
    and the arm of pride is shattered.
16 Have you entered into the sources of the sea,
    or walked about on the bottom of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been shown to you,
    or have you seen the gates of darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?
    Tell me, if you know it all.
19 What is the way to the dwelling of light,
    and darkness—where is its place?
20 That you may take it to its territory
    and know the paths to its home?
21 You know, because you were born then,
    and the number of your days is great![d]
22 Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
    and seen the storehouses of the hail
23 Which I have reserved for times of distress,
    for a day of war and battle?(C)
24 What is the way to the parting of the winds,
    where the east wind spreads over the earth?
25 Who has laid out a channel for the downpour
    and a path for the thunderstorm
26 To bring rain to uninhabited land,
    the unpeopled wilderness;
27 To drench the desolate wasteland
    till the desert blooms with verdure?
28 Has the rain a father?
    Who has begotten the drops of dew?
29 Out of whose womb comes the ice,
    and who gives the hoarfrost its birth in the skies,
30 When the waters lie covered as though with stone
    that holds captive the surface of the deep?
31 Have you tied cords to the Pleiades,[e]
    or loosened the bonds of Orion?
32 Can you bring forth the Mazzaroth in their season,
    or guide the Bear with her children?
33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens;
    can you put into effect their plan on the earth?
34 Can you raise your voice to the clouds,
    for them to cover you with a deluge of waters?
35 Can you send forth the lightnings on their way,
    so that they say to you, “Here we are”?
36 Who gives wisdom to the ibis,
    and gives the rooster[f] understanding?
37 Who counts the clouds with wisdom?
    Who tilts the water jars of heaven
38 So that the dust of earth is fused into a mass
    and its clods stick together?
39 Do you hunt the prey for the lion
    or appease the hunger of young lions,
40 While they crouch in their dens,
    or lie in ambush in the thicket?
41 Who provides nourishment for the raven
    when its young cry out to God,(D)
    wandering about without food?

Chapter 39

Do you know when mountain goats are born,
    or watch for the birth pangs of deer,
Number the months that they must fulfill,
    or know when they give birth,
When they crouch down and drop their young,
    when they deliver their progeny?
Their offspring thrive and grow in the open,
    they leave and do not return.
Who has given the wild donkey his freedom,
    and who has loosed the wild ass from bonds?
I have made the wilderness his home
    and the salt flats his dwelling.
He scoffs at the uproar of the city,
    hears no shouts of a driver.
He ranges the mountains for pasture,
    and seeks out every patch of green.
Will the wild ox consent to serve you,
    or pass the nights at your manger?
10 Will you bind the wild ox with a rope in the furrow,
    and will he plow the valleys after you?
11 Will you depend on him for his great strength
    and leave to him the fruits of your toil?
12 Can you rely on him to bring in your grain
    and gather in the yield of your threshing floor?
13 The wings of the ostrich[g] flap away;
    her plumage is lacking in feathers.
14 When she abandons her eggs on the ground[h]
    and lets them warm in the sand,
15 She forgets that a foot may crush them,
    that the wild beasts may trample them;
16 She cruelly disowns her young
    and her labor is useless; she has no fear.
17 For God has withheld wisdom from her
    and given her no share in understanding.
18 Yet when she spreads her wings high,
    she laughs at a horse and rider.
19 Do you give the horse his strength,[i]
    and clothe his neck with a mane?
20 Do you make him quiver like a locust,
    while his thunderous snorting spreads terror?
21 He paws the valley, he rejoices in his strength,
    and charges into battle.
22 He laughs at fear and cannot be terrified;
    he does not retreat from the sword.
23 Around him rattles the quiver,
    flashes the spear and the javelin.
24 Frenzied and trembling he devours the ground;
    he does not hold back at the sound of the trumpet;
25     at the trumpet’s call he cries, “Aha!”
Even from afar he scents the battle,
    the roar of the officers and the shouting.
26 Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars,
    that he spreads his wings toward the south?
27 Does the eagle fly up at your command
    to build his nest up high?
28 On a cliff he dwells and spends the night,
    on the spur of cliff or fortress.
29 From there he watches for his food;
    his eyes behold it afar off.
30 His young ones greedily drink blood;
    where the slain are, there is he.(E)


  1. 38:1 Now the Lord enters the debate and addresses two discourses (chaps. 38–39 and 40–41) to Job, speaking of divine wisdom and power. Such things are altogether beyond the capacity of Job. Out of the storm: frequently the background of the appearances of the Lord in the Old Testament; cf. Ps 18; 50; Na 1:3; Hb 3:2–15.
  2. 38:3 Gird up your loins: prepare for combat—figuratively, be ready to defend yourself in debate.
  3. 38:7 Sons of God: see note on 1:6.
  4. 38:21 Ironic, but not a harsh rebuke.
  5. 38:31–32 Pleiades…Orion…Bear: cf. 9:9. Mazzaroth: it is uncertain what astronomical group is meant by this Hebrew word; perhaps a southern constellation.
  6. 38:36 Ibis…rooster: the translation is uncertain.
  7. 39:13 The wings of the ostrich cannot raise her from the ground, but they help her to run swiftly.
  8. 39:14–16 People thought that, because the ostrich laid her eggs on the sand, she was thereby cruelly abandoning them; cf. Lam 4:3.
  9. 39:19–25 A classic description of a war horse.