10 ‘I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul. 2 I say to God: do not declare me guilty, but tell me what charges you have against me. 3 Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the plans of the wicked? 4 Do you have eyes of flesh? Do you see as a mortal sees? 5 Are your days like those of a mortal or your years like those of a strong man, 6 that you must search out my faults and probe after my sin – 7 though you know that I am not guilty and that no one can rescue me from your hand?
8 ‘Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? 9 Remember that you moulded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again? 10 Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, 11 clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? 12 You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.
13 ‘But this is what you concealed in your heart, and I know that this was in your mind: 14 if I sinned, you would be watching me and would not let my offence go unpunished. 15 If I am guilty – woe to me! Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head, for I am full of shame and drowned in[a] my affliction. 16 If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion and again display your awesome power against me. 17 You bring new witnesses against me and increase your anger towards me; your forces come against me wave upon wave.
18 ‘Why then did you bring me out of the womb? I wish I had died before any eye saw me. 19 If only I had never come into being, or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave! 20 Are not my few days almost over? Turn away from me so that I can have a moment’s joy 21 before I go to the place of no return, to the land of gloom and utter darkness, 22 to the land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.’
11 Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:
2 ‘Are all these words to go unanswered? Is this talker to be vindicated? 3 Will your idle talk reduce others to silence? Will no one rebuke you when you mock? 4 You say to God, “My beliefs are flawless and I am pure in your sight.” 5 Oh, how I wish that God would speak, that he would open his lips against you 6 and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom has two sides. Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.
7 ‘Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? 8 They are higher than the heavens above – what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below – what can you know? 9 Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea.
10 ‘If he comes along and confines you in prison and convenes a court, who can oppose him? 11 Surely he recognises deceivers; and when he sees evil, does he not take note? 12 But the witless can no more become wise than a wild donkey’s colt can be born human.[b]
13 ‘Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, 14 if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, 15 then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear. 16 You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. 17 Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. 18 You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. 19 You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favour. 20 But the eyes of the wicked will fail, and escape will elude them; their hope will become a dying gasp.’
12 Then Job replied:
2 ‘Doubtless you are the only people who matter, and wisdom will die with you! 3 But I have a mind as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know all these things?
4 ‘I have become a laughing-stock to my friends, though I called on God and he answered – a mere laughing-stock, though righteous and blameless! 5 Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping. 6 The tents of marauders are undisturbed, and those who provoke God are secure – those whom God has in his hand.[c]
7 ‘But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; 8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. 9 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? 10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. 11 Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food? 12 Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?
13 ‘To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his. 14 What he tears down cannot be rebuilt; those he imprisons cannot be released. 15 If he holds back the waters, there is drought; if he lets them loose, they devastate the land. 16 To him belong strength and insight; both deceived and deceiver are his. 17 He leads rulers away stripped and makes fools of judges. 18 He takes off the shackles put on by kings and ties a loincloth[d] round their waist. 19 He leads priests away stripped and overthrows officials long established. 20 He silences the lips of trusted advisors and takes away the discernment of elders. 21 He pours contempt on nobles and disarms the mighty. 22 He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light. 23 He makes nations great, and destroys them; he enlarges nations, and disperses them. 24 He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason; he makes them wander in a trackless waste. 25 They grope in darkness with no light; he makes them stagger like drunkards.
13 ‘My eyes have seen all this, my ears have heard and understood it. 2 What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. 3 But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God. 4 You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you! 5 If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom. 6 Hear now my argument; listen to the pleas of my lips. 7 Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf? Will you speak deceitfully for him? 8 Will you show him partiality? Will you argue the case for God? 9 Would it turn out well if he examined you? Could you deceive him as you might deceive a mortal? 10 He would surely call you to account if you secretly showed partiality. 11 Would not his splendour terrify you? Would not the dread of him fall on you? 12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defences are defences of clay.
13 ‘Keep silent and let me speak; then let come to me what may. 14 Why do I put myself in jeopardy and take my life in my hands? 15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely[e] defend my ways to his face. 16 Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless person would dare come before him! 17 Listen carefully to what I say; let my words ring in your ears. 18 Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated. 19 Can anyone bring charges against me? If so, I will be silent and die.
20 ‘Only grant me these two things, God, and then I will not hide from you: 21 withdraw your hand far from me, and stop frightening me with your terrors. 22 Then summon me and I will answer, or let me speak, and you reply to me. 23 How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offence and my sin. 24 Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy? 25 Will you torment a wind-blown leaf? Will you chase after dry chaff? 26 For you write down bitter things against me and make me reap the sins of my youth. 27 You fasten my feet in shackles; you keep close watch on all my paths by putting marks on the soles of my feet.
28 ‘So man wastes away like something rotten, like a garment eaten by moths.
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