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Chapter 5

[a]Then shall the righteous one with great assurance confront(A)
    his oppressors who set at nought his labors.(B)
Seeing this, the wicked shall be shaken with dreadful fear,
    and be amazed at the unexpected salvation.
They shall say among themselves, rueful
    and groaning through anguish of spirit:

“This is the one whom once we held as a laughingstock
    and as a type for mockery,
    fools that we were!
His life we accounted madness,
    and death dishonored.
See how he is accounted among the heavenly beings;[b]
    how his lot is with the holy ones!(C)
We, then, have strayed from the way of truth,(D)
    and the light of righteousness did not shine for us,
    and the sun did not rise for us.(E)
We were entangled in the thorns of mischief and of ruin;
    we journeyed through trackless deserts,
    but the way of the Lord we never knew.
What did our pride avail us?
    What have wealth and its boastfulness afforded us?(F)
All of them passed like a shadow
    and like a fleeting rumor;(G)
10 Like a ship traversing the heaving water:
    when it has passed, no trace can be found,
    no path of its keel in the waves.
11 Or like a bird flying through the air;
    no evidence of its course is to be found—
But the fluid air, lashed by the beating of pinions,
    and cleft by the rushing force
Of speeding wings, is traversed;
    and afterward no mark of passage can be found in it.
12 Or as, when an arrow has been shot at a mark,
    the parted air straightway flows together again
    so that none discerns the way it went—
13 Even so, once born, we abruptly came to nought
    and held no sign of virtue to display,
    but were consumed in our wickedness.”(H)

14 [c]Yes, the hope of the wicked is like chaff borne by the wind,
    and like fine, storm-driven snow;
Like smoke scattered by the wind,
    and like the passing memory of the nomad camping for a single day.(I)
15 But the righteous live forever,
    and in the Lord is their recompense,
    and the thought of them is with the Most High.(J)
16 Therefore shall they receive the splendid crown,
    the beautiful diadem, from the hand of the Lord,
For he will shelter them with his right hand,
    and protect them with his arm.(K)
17 He shall take his zeal for armor(L)
    and arm creation to requite the enemy,
18 Shall put on righteousness for a breastplate,
    wear sure judgment for a helmet,
19 Shall take invincible holiness for a shield,(M)
20     and sharpen his sudden anger for a sword.
The universe will war with him against the foolhardy;
21 Well-aimed bolts of lightning will go forth
    and from the clouds will leap to the mark as from a well-drawn bow;(N)
22     and as from a sling, wrathful hailstones shall be hurled.
The waters of the sea will be enraged
    and flooding rivers will overwhelm them;(O)
23 A mighty wind will confront them
    and winnow them like a tempest;
Thus lawlessness will lay waste the whole earth
    and evildoing overturn the thrones of the mighty.(P)


  1. 5:1–13 In contrast to their speech in chap. 2 the wicked now regret their assessment of life and righteousness.
  2. 5:5 Heavenly beings: lit., “sons of God.” These are the holy ones, members of the heavenly court, among whom the righteous are to be found. A bodily resurrection does not seem to be envisioned.
  3. 5:14–23 A picture of the reward of the righteous which develops into an apocalyptic description of the divine warrior’s destruction of evil. The author utilizes Is 59–62.