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Reading Thru the Bible
Home > Reading Thru the Bible > Chronological > Old Testament > Job

Job's Friends: Job 4.1-27.23

Eliphaz from Teman said:
Please be patient and listen to what I have to say.
Remember how your words have guided and encouraged
     many in need.
But now you feel discouraged when struck by trouble.
You respect God and live right,
     so don't lose hope!
No truly innocent person has ever died young.
In my experience, only those who plant seeds of evil
     harvest trouble,
and then they are swept away
     by the angry breath of God.
They may roar and growl like powerful lions.
But when God breaks their teeth, they starve,
     and their children are scattered.

A secret was told to me in a faint whisper—
I was overcome by sleep, but disturbed by dreams;
I trembled with fear, and my hair stood on end,
     as a wind blew past my face.
It stoppedand stood still. Then a form appeared—
     a shapeless form.
     And from the silence, I heard a voice say,
"No humans are innocent in the eyes of God their Creator.
     He finds fault with his servants and even with his angels.
Humans are formed from clay and are fragile as moths,
     so what chance do you have?
Born after daybreak, you die before nightfall
     and disappear forever.
Your tent pegs are pulled up, and you leave this life,
     having gained no wisdom."

Eliphaz Continues

Job, call out for help
     and see if an angel comes!

Envy and jealousy will kill a stupid fool.
I have seen fools take root.
But God sends a curse, suddenly uprooting them
     and leaving their children helpless in court.
Then hungry and greedy people gobble down their crops
     and grab up their wealth.
Our suffering isn't caused by the failure of crops;
     it's all part of life, like sparks shooting skyward.

Job, if I were you, I would ask God for help.
    His miracles are marvelous, more than we can count.
God sends showers on earth and waters the fields.
He protects the sorrowful and lifts up those
     who have been disgraced.
God swiftly traps the wicked in their own evil schemes,
     and their wisdom fails.
Darkness is their only companion,
     hiding their path at noon.
God rescues the needy from the words of the wicked
     and the fist of the mighty.
The poor are filled with hope,
     and injustice is silenced.

Consider yourself fortunate if God All–Powerful
     chooses to correct you.
He may cause injury and pain, but he will bandage and heal
     your cuts and bruises.
God will protect you from harm,
     no matter how often trouble may strike.

In times of war and famine, God will keep you safe.
You will be sheltered, without fear of hurtful words
     or any other weapon.
You will laugh at the threat of destruction and famine.
     And you won't beafraid of wild animals—
 they will no longer be fierce,
     and your rocky fields will become friendly.
Your home will be secure, and your sheep will be safe.
You will have more descendants
     than there are blades of grass on the face of the earth.
You will live a long life,
     and your body will be strong until the day you die.
Our experience has proven these things to be true,
     so listen and learn.

Job's Reply to Eliphaz

Job said:
It's impossible to weigh my misery and grief!
They outweigh the sand along the beach,
     and that's why I have spoken without thinking first.
The fearsome arrows of GodAll–Powerful
     have filled my soul with their poison.
Do oxen and wild donkeys cry out in distress
     unless they are hungry?
What is food without salt?
     What is more tasteless than the white of an egg?
    That's how my food tastes, and my appetite is gone.

How I wish that God would answer my prayer
    and do away with me.
Then I would be comforted, knowing that in all of my pain
     I have never disobeyed God.
Why should I patiently hope when my strength is gone?
I am not strong as stone or bronze,
    and I have finally reached the end of my rope.

My friends, I am desperate, and you should help me,
     even if I no longer respect God All–Powerful.
 But you are treacherous
as streams that swell with melting snow,
    then suddenly disappear in the summer heat.
I am like a caravan,
     lost in the desert while searching for water.
Caravans from Tema and Sheba
thought they would find water. But they were disappointed,
    just as I am with you.
     Only one look at my suffering, and you run away scared.

Have I ever asked any of you to give me a gift
    or to purchase my freedom from brutal enemies?
What have I done wrong?
     Show me, and I will keep quiet.
The truth is always painful,
     but your arguments prove nothing.
Here I am desperate, and you consider my words
     as worthless as wind.
Why, you would sell an orphan or your own neighbor!
    Look me straight in the eye; I won't lie to you.
Stop accusing me falsely; my reputation is at stake.
    I know right from wrong, and I am not telling lies.

Job Continues

Why is life so hard? Why do we suffer?
We are slaves in search of shade;
     we are laborers longing for our wages.
God has made my days drag on and my nights miserable.
I pray for night to end, but it stretches out
     while I toss and turn.
My parched skin is covered with worms, dirt, and sores,
and my days are running out quicker than the thread
     of afast–moving needle.

I beg you, God, don't forget! My life is just a breath,
     and trouble lies ahead.
I will vanish from sight, and no one, including you,
     will ever see me again.
I will disappear in the grave
     or vanish from sight like a passing cloud.
Never will I return home; soon I will be forgotten.

And so, I cry out to you in agony and distress.
Am I the sea or a sea monster?
     Is that why you imprison me?
I go to bed, hoping for rest,
    but you torture me with terrible dreams.
I'd rather choke to death than live in this body.
    Leave me alone and let me die; my life has no meaning.
What makes you so concerned about us humans?
    Why do you test us from sunrise to sunset?
Won't you look away just long enough for me to swallow?
Why do you watch us so closely? What's it to you, if I sin?
     Why am I your target and such a heavy burden?
Why do you refuse to forgive?
     Soon you won't find me, because I'll be dead.

Bildad's First Speech

Bildad from Shuah said:
How long will you talk and keep saying nothing?
    Does God All–Powerful stand in the way of justice?
He made your children pay for their sins.
    So why don't you turn to him and start living right?
    Then he will decide to rescue and restore you
     to your place of honor.
Your future will be brighter by far than your past.

Our ancestors were wise, so learn from them.
Our own time has been short, like a fading shadow,
     and we know very little.
But they will instruct you with great understanding.

Papyrus reeds grow healthy only in a swamp,
and if the water dries up,
     they die sooner than grass.
Such is the hopeless future of all who turn from God
and trust in something as frail asa spider's web—
    they take hold and fall because it's so flimsy.
Sinful people are like plants with spreading roots
     and plenty of sun and water.
They wrap their roots tightly around rocks.
But once they are pulled up, they have no more place;
    their life slips away, and other plants grow there.

We know God doesn't reject an innocent person
     or help a sinner.
And so, he will make you happy
     and give you something to smile about.
But your evil enemies will be put to shame
     and disappear forever.

Job's Reply to Bildad

Job said:
What you say is true. No human is innocent
     in the sight of God.
Not once in a thousand times could we win our case
     if we took him to court.
God is wise and powerful—
     who could possibly oppose him and win?
 When God becomes angry, he can move mountains
     before they even know it.
God can shake the earth loose from its foundations
    or command the sun and stars to hold back their light.
God alone stretched out the sky, stepped on the sea,
and set the stars inplace—
     the Big Dipper and Orion,
     the Pleiades and the stars in the southern sky.
 Of all the miracles God works, we cannot understand a one.
    God walks right past me, without making a sound.
And if he grabs something, who can stop him
     or raise a question?

When God showed his anger,
     the servants of the sea monster fell at his feet.
How, then, could I possibly argue my case with God?

Even though I am innocent, I can only beg for mercy.
And if God came into court when I called him,
     he would not hear my case.
He would strike me with a storm and increase my injuries
     for no reason at all.
Before I could get my breath, my miseries would multiply.
God is much stronger than I am,
     and who would call me into court to give me justice?

Even if I were innocent, God would prove me wrong.
    I am not guilty, but I no longer care what happens to me.
What difference does it make?
     God destroys the innocent along with the guilty.
When a good person dies a sudden death,
     God sits back and laughs.
And who else but God blindfolds the judges,
     then lets the wicked take over the earth?

My life is speeding by, without a hope of happiness.
Each day passes swifter than a sailing ship
     or an eagle swooping down.
Sometimes I try to be cheerful and to stop complaining,
but my sufferings frighten me,
     because I know that God still considers me guilty.
So what's the use of trying to prove my innocence?
    Even if I washed myself with the strongest soap,
God would throw me into a pit of stinking slime,
     leaving me disgusting to my clothes.

God isn't a mere human like me. I can't put him on trial.
    Who could possibly judge between the two of us?
Can someone snatch away the stick
     God carries to frighten me?
Then I could speak up without fear of him,
     but for now, I cannot speak.

Job Complains to God

I am sick of life! And from my deep despair,
     I complain to you, my God.
Don't just condemn me! Point out my sin.
Why do you take such delight
     in destroying those you created
     and in smiling on sinners?
Do you look at things the way we humans do?
    Is your life as short as ours?
Is that why you are so quick to find fault with me?
You know I am innocent,
     but who can defend me against you?
Will you now destroy someone you created?
Remember that you molded me like a piece of clay.
     So don't turn me back into dust once again.
As cheese is made from milk,
     you created my body from a tiny drop.
Then you tied my bones together with muscles
     and covered them with flesh and skin.
You, the source of my life, showered me with kindness
     and watched over me.

You have not explained all of your mysteries,
    but you catch and punish me each time I sin.
Guilty or innocent, I am condemned and ashamed
     because of my troubles.
No matter how hard I try, you keep hunting me down
     like a powerful lion.
You never stop accusing me; you become furious and attack
     over and over again.

Why did you let me be born?
     I would rather have died before birth
    and been carried to the grave without ever breathing.
I have only a few days left.
     Why don't you leave me alone?
     Let me find some relief,
 before I travel to the land of darkness and despair,
     the place of no return.

Zophar's First Speech

Zophar from Naamah said:
So much foolish talk cannot go unanswered.
Your words have silenced others and made them ashamed;
     now it is only right for you to be put to shame.
You claim to be innocent and argue that your beliefs
     are acceptable to God.
But I wish he would speak and let you know
     that wisdom has many different sides.
    You would then discover that God has punished you less
     than you deserve.

Can you understand the mysteries
     surrounding GodAll–Powerful?
They are higher than the heavens and deeper than the grave.
    So what can you do when you know so little,
    and these mysteries outreach the earth and the ocean?

If God puts you in prison or drags you to court,
    what can you do?
God has the wisdom to know
     when someone is worthless and sinful,
but it's easier to tame a wild donkey
     than to make a fool wise.

Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer,
    and give up your sins—even those you do in secret.
Then you won't be ashamed;
     you will be confident and fearless.
Your troubles will go away like water beneath a bridge,
    and your darkest night will be brighter than noon.
You will rest safe and secure,
     filled with hope and emptied of worry.
You will sleep without fear and be greatly respected.
But those who are evil will go blind and lose their way.
     Their only escape is death!

Job's Reply to Zophar

Job said to his friends:
You think you are so great, with all the answers.
But I know as much as you do,
     and so does everyone else.
I have always lived right, and God answered my prayers;
     now friends make fun of me.
It's easy to condemn those who are suffering,
     when you have no troubles.
Robbers and other godless people live safely at home
     and say, "God is in our hands!"

If you want to learn, then go and ask
     the wild animals and the birds, the flowers and the fish.
Any of them can tell you what the LORD has done.
    Every living creature is in the hands of God.

We hear with our ears, taste with our tongues,
and gain some wisdom from those
     who have lived a long time.
But God is the real source of wisdom and strength.
No one can rebuild what he destroys,
     or release those he has imprisoned.
God can hold back the rain or send a flood,
    just as he rules over liars and those they lie to.

God destroys counselors, turns judges into fools,
    and makes slaves of kings.
God removes priests andothers who have great power—
he confuses wise, experienced advisors,
    puts mighty kings to shame, and takes away their power.
God turns darkness to light;
    he makes nations strong, then shatters their strength.
God strikes their rulers senseless,
    then leaves them to roam through barren deserts,
    lost in the dark, staggering like someone drunk.

Job Continues

I know and understand every bit of this.
None of you are smarter than I am;
     there's nothing you know that I don't.
ButI prefer to argue my case with God All–Powerful–—
    you are merely useless doctors, who treat me with lies.
The wisest thing you can do is to keep quiet
    and listen to my argument.
Are you telling lies for God
    and not telling the whole truth when you argue his case?
If he took you to court, could you fool him,
     just as you fool others?
If you were secretly unfair, he would correct you,
    and his glorious splendor would make you terrified.
Your wisdom and arguments are as delicate as dust.

Be quiet while I speak, then say what you will.
I will be responsible for what happens to me.
God may kill me, but still I will trust him
     and offer my defense.
This may be what saves me, because no guilty person
     would come to his court.
Listen carefully to my words!
I have prepared my case well, and I am certain to win.
    If you can prove me guilty, I will give up and die.

Job Prays

I ask only two things of you, my God,
     and Iwill no longer hide from you—
    stop punishing and terrifying me!

Then speak, and I will reply;
     or else let me speak, and you reply.
Please point out my sins, so I will know them.
Why have you turned your back
     and count me your enemy?
Do you really enjoy frightening a fallen leaf?
Why do you accuse me of horrible crimes
     and make me pay for sins I did in my youth?
You have tied my feet down and keep me surrounded;
    I am rotting away like cloth eaten by worms.

Job Continues his Prayer

Life is short and sorrowful for every living soul.
    We are flowers that fade and shadows that vanish.
And so, I ask you, God, why pick on me?
    There's no way a human can be completely pure.
Our time on earth is brief;
     the number of our days is already decided by you.
Why don't you leave us alone
     and let us find some happiness while we toil and labor?

When a tree is chopped down, there is always the hope
     that it will sprout again.
Its roots and stump may rot, but at the touch of water,
     fresh twigs shoot up.
Humans are different– we die, and that's the end.
    We are like streams and lakes after the water has gone;
we fall into the sleep of death, never to rise again,
     until the sky disappears.
Please hide me, God,deep in the ground–
    and when you are angry no more,
     remember to rescue me.

Will we humans live again?
     I would gladly suffer and wait for my time.
My Creator, you would want me;
     you would call out, and I would answer.
Youwould take care of me, but not count my sins—
you would put them in a bag, tie it tight,
     and toss them away.
But in the real world, mountains tumble, and rocks crumble;
streams wear away stones and wash away soil.
     And you destroy our hopes!
You change the way we look, then send us away,
     wiped out forever.
We never live to know if our children are praised
     or disgraced.
We feel no pain but our own, and when we mourn,
     it's only for ourselves.

Eliphaz's Second Speech

Eliphaz from Teman said:
Job, if you had any sense,
    you would stop spreading all of this hot air.
Your words are enough to make others turn from God
     and lead them to doubt.
And your sinful, scheming mind
     is the source of all you say.
I am not here as your judge;
     your own words are witnesses against you.

Were you the first human?
     Are you older than the hills?
Have you ever been present when God's council meets?
    Do you alone have wisdom?
    Do you know and understand something we don't?
We have the benefit of wisdom older than your father.
And you have been offered comforting words from God.
     Isn't this enough?

Your emotions are out of control, making you look fierce;
    that's why you attack God with everything you say.
No human is pure and innocent, and neither areangels—
     not in the sight of God.
     If God doesn't trust his angels,
    what chance do humans have?
     We are so terribly evil that we thirst for sin.

Just listen to what I know, and you will learn
    wisdom known by others since ancient times.
Those who gained such insights also gained the land,
     and they were not influenced by foreign teachings.
But suffering is in store each day for those who sin.
Even in times of success,
     they constantly hear the threat of doom.
Darkness, despair, and death are their destiny.
They scrounge around for food,
     all the while dreading the approaching darkness.
They are overcome with despair,
     like a terrified king about to go into battle.
This is because they rebelledagainst God All–Powerful
    and have attacked him with their weapons.

They may be rich and fat,
but they will live in the ruins of deserted towns.
    Their property and wealth will shrink and disappear.
They won't escape the darkness,
     and the blazing breath of God
     will set their future aflame.
They have put their trust in something worthless;
     now they will become worthless
    like a date palm tree without a leaf.
Or like vineyards or orchards
     whose blossoms and unripe fruit drop to the ground.
Yes, the godless and the greedy
     will have nothing but flames feasting on their homes,
    because they are the parents of trouble and vicious lies.

Job's Reply to Eliphaz

Job said:
I have often heard this, and it offers no comfort.
    So why don't you keep quiet? What's bothering you?
If I were in your place, it would be easy to criticize
     or to give advice.
But I would offer hope and comfort instead.

If I speak, or if I don't, I hurt all the same.
     My torment continues.
God has worn me down and destroyed my family;
    my shriveled up skin proves that I am his prisoner.
God is my hateful enemy, glaring at me
     and attacking with his sharp teeth.
Everyone is against me; they sneer and slap my face.
And God is the one who handed me over
     to this merciless mob.

Everything was going well, until God grabbed my neck
     and shook me to pieces.
     God set me up as the target for his arrows,
     and without showing mercy, he slashed my stomach open,
     spilling out my insides.
God never stops attacking, and so, in my sorrow
     I dress in sackcloth and sit in thedust.
My face is red with tears, and dark shadows circle my eyes,
     though I am not violent, and my prayers are sincere.

If I should die, I beg the earth
     not to cover my cry for justice.
Even now, God in heaven is both my witness
     and my protector.
My friends have rejected me, but God is the one I beg
to show that I am right, just as a friend should.
     Because in only a few years, I will be dead and gone.

Job Complains to God

My hopes have died, my time is up,
     and the grave is ready.
All I can see are angry crowds, making fun of me.
If you, LORD, don't help,
     who will pay the price for my release?
My friends won't really listen, all because of you,
     and so you must be the one to prove them wrong.
They have condemned me, just to benefit themselves;
     now blind their children.

You, God, are the reason I am insulted and spit on.
I am almost blind with grief;
     my body is a mere shadow.

People who are truly good would feel so alarmed,
     that they would become angry at my worthless friends.
They would do the right thing and because they did,
     they would grow stronger.
But none of my friends show any sense.

My life is drawing to an end; hope has disappeared.
    But all my friends can do is offer empty hopes.
I could tell the world below to prepare me a bed.
Then I could greet the grave as my father
     and say to the worms, "Hello, mother and sisters!"

But what kind of hope is that?
    Will it keep me company in the world of the dead?

Bildad's Second Speech

Bildad from Shuah said:
How long will you talk? Be sensible! Let us speak.
    Or do you think that we are dumb animals?
You cut yourself in anger. Will that shake the earth
     or even move the rocks?

The lamps of sinful people soon are snuffed out,
     leaving their tents dark.
Their powerful legs become weak,
     and they stumble on schemes of their own doing.
Before they know it, they are trapped
     in a net, hidden along the path.
Terror strikes and pursues from every side.
Starving, they run, only to meet disaster,
    then afterwards to be eaten alive by death itself.

Those sinners are dragged from the safety of their tents
     to die a gruesome death.
Then their tents and possessions are burned to ashes,
    and they are left like trees, dried up from the roots.
They are gone and forgotten,
thrown far from the light into a world of darkness,
    without any children to carry on their name.
Everyone, from east to west, is overwhelmed with horror.
Such is the fate of sinners and their families
     who don't know God.

Job's Reply to Bildad

Job said:
How long will you torture me with your words?
    Isn't ten times enough for you to accuse me?
     Aren't you ashamed?
    Even if I have sinned, you haven't been harmed.
You boast of your goodness,
     claiming I am suffering because I am guilty.
    But God is the one at fault for finding fault with me.

Though I pray to be rescued from this torment,
     no whisper of justice answers me.
God has me trapped with a wall of darkness
    and stripped of respect.
God rips me apart, uproots my hopes,
and attacks with fierce anger,
     as though I were his enemy.
His entire army advances, then surrounds my tent.

God has turned relatives and friends against me,
    and I am forgotten.
My guests and my servants consider me a stranger,
     and when I call my servants, they pay no attention.
My breath disgusts my wife;
     everyone in my family turns away.
Young children can't stand me,
     and when I come near, they make fun.
My best friends and loved ones have turned from me.
I amskin and bones– just barely alive.
     My friends, I beg you for pity!
     God has made me his target.
Hasn't he already done enough?
     Why do you join the attack?

I wish that my words could be written down
     or chiseled into rock.
I know that my Savior lives,
     and at the end he will stand on this earth.
My flesh may be destroyed,
     yet from this body I will see God.
Yes, I will see him for myself,
     and I long for that moment.

My friends, you think up ways to blame and torment me,
     saying I brought it on myself.
But watch out for the judgment,
     when God will punish you!

Zophar's Second Speech

Zophar from Naamah said:
Your words are disturbing; now I must speak.
You have accused and insulted me,
     and reason requires a reply.
Since the time of creation, everyone has known
    that sinful people are happy for only a while.
Though their pride and power may reach to the sky,
they will disappear like dust,
     and those who knew them will wonder what happened.
They will be forgotten like a dream
    and vanish from the sight of family and friends.
Their children will have to repay
     what the parents took from the poor.
Indeed, the wicked will die and go to their graves
     in the prime of life.

Sinners love the taste of sin;
     they relish every bite and swallow it slowly.
But their food will turn sour and poison their stomachs.
Then God will make them lose
     the wealth they gobbled down.
They will die from the fangs of poisonous snakes
     and never enjoy rivers flowing with milk and honey.
Their hard work will result in nothing gained,
     because they cheated the poor and took their homes.

Greedy people want everything and are never satisfied.
But when nothing remains for them to grab,
     they will be nothing.
Once they have everything,
     distress and despair will strike them down,
    and God will make them swallow his blazing anger.

While running from iron spears,
     they will be killed by arrows of bronze,
     whose shining tips go straight through their bodies.
     They will be trapped by terror,
    and what they treasure most will be lost in the dark.
     God will send flames to destroy them in their tents
     with all their property.
The heavens and the earth will testify against them,
and all their possessions will be dragged off
     when God becomes angry.
This is what God has decided for those who are evil.

Job's Reply to Zophar

Job said:
If you want to offer comfort, then listen to me.
And when I have finished,
     you can start your insults all over again.
My complaint is against God; that's why I am impatient.
Just looking at me is enough to make you sick,
    and the very thought of myself fills me with disgust.

Why do evil people live so long and gain such power?
    Why are they allowed to see their children grow up?
They have no worries at home,
     and God never punishes them.
Their cattle have lots of calves without ever losing one;
    their children play and dance safely by themselves.
These people sing and celebrate
     to the sound of tambourines, small harps, and flutes,
and they are successful, without a worry,
     until the day they die.

Those who are evil say to God All–Powerful,
     "Leave us alone! Don't bother us with your teachings.
What do we gain from praying and worshiping you?
We succeeded all on our own."
     And so, I keep away from them and their evil schemes.

How often does God become angry
     and send disaster and darkness to punish sinners?
How often does he strike them
     like a windstorm that scatters straw?

You say, "God will punish those sinners' children
     in place of those sinners."
     But I say, "Let him punish those sinners themselves
     until they really feel it.
Let GodAll–Powerful force them to drink
     their own destruction from the cup of his anger.
Because after they are dead,
     they won't care what happens to their children."

Who can tell God what to do?
     He judges powerful rulers.
Some of us die prosperous, enjoying good health,
while others die in poverty, having known only pain.
    But we all end up dead, beneath a blanket of worms.

My friends, I know that you are plotting against me.
You ask, "Where is the home of that important person
     who does so much evil?"

Everyone, near and far, agrees that those who do wrong
     never suffer disaster, when God becomes angry.
No one points out their sin or punishes them.
Then at their funerals, they are highly praised;
    the earth welcomes them home, while crowds mourn.

But empty, meaningless words
     are the comfort you offer me.

Eliphaz's Third Speech

Eliphaz from Teman said:
What use are we humans to God, even the wisest of us?
If you were completely sinless,
     thatwould still mean nothing to God All–Powerful.
Is he correcting you for worshiping him?
    No! It's because of your terrible sins.
To guarantee payment of a debt,
     you have taken clothes from the poor.
And you refused bread and water to the hungry and thirsty,
    although you were rich, respected, and powerful.
You have turned away widows
     and have broken the arms of orphans.
That's why you were suddenly trapped by terror,
    blinded by darkness, and drowned in a flood.

God lives in the heavens above the highest stars,
     where he sees everything.
Do you think the deep darkness hides you from God?
Do thick clouds cover his eyes,
     as he walks around heaven's dome high above the earth?
Give up those ancient ideas believed by sinners,
    who were swept away without warning.
They rejectedGod All–Powerful, feeling he was helpless,
although he had been kind to their families.
     The beliefs of these sinners are truly disgusting.
When God's people see the godless swept away,
they celebrate, saying, "Our enemies are gone,
     and fire has destroyed their possessions."

Surrender to God All–Powerful!
     You will find peace and prosperity.
Listen to his teachings and take them to heart.
If you return to God and turn from sin,
     all will go well for you.
So get rid of your finest gold, as though it were sand.
Let God All–Powerful be your silver and gold,
    and you will find happiness by worshiping him.
God will answer your prayers,
     and you will keep the promises you made to him.
He will do whatever you ask, and life will be bright.
When others are disgraced, God will clear their names
     in answer to your prayers.
Even those who are guilty will be forgiven,
     because you obey God.

Job's Reply to Eliphaz

Job said:
Today I complain bitterly, because God has been cruel
     and made me suffer.
If I knew where to find God,
     I would go there and argue my case.
    Then I would discover what he wanted to say.
Would he overwhelm me with his greatness?
     No! He would listen because I am innocent,
     and he would say, "I now set you free!"

I cannot find God anywhere– in front or back of me,
     to my left or my right.
    God is always at work, though I never see him.
But he knows what I am doing, and when he tests me,
     I will be pure as gold.
I have never refused to follow any of his commands,
     and I have always treasured his teachings.
 But he alone is God, and who can oppose him?
    God does as he pleases, and he will do exactly
     what he intends with me.
Merely the thought of God All–Powerful
    makes me tremble with fear.
God has covered me with darkness,
     but I refuse to be silent.

Job Continues

Why doesn't God set a time for court?
     Why don't his people know where he can be found?
Sinners remove boundary markers
     and take care of sheep they have stolen.
They cheat orphans and widows
     by taking their donkeys and oxen.
The poor are trampled and forced to hide in the desert,
     where they and their children must live like wild donkeys
     and search for food.
If they want grain or grapes, they must go to the property
     of these sinners.
They sleep naked in the cold, because they have no cover,
and during a storm their only shelters are caves
     among the rocky cliffs.

Children whose fathers have died
     are taken from their mothers as payment for a debt.
Then they are forced to work naked in the grain fields
     because they have no clothes,
     and they go hungry.
They crush olives to makeoil and grapes to make wine—
     but still they go thirsty.
And along the city streets, the wounded and dying cry out,
     yet God does nothing.

Some rebel and refuse to follow the light.
Soon after sunset they murder the poor and the needy,
     and at night they steal.

Others wait for the dark, thinking they won't be seen
     if they sleep with the wife or husband of someone else.
Robbers hide during the day, then break in after dark
     because they reject the light.
They prefer night to day, since the terrors of the night
     are their friends.

Those sinners are filthy foam on the surface of the water.
     And so, their fields and vineyards will fall under a curse
     and won't produce.
Just as the heat of summer swallows the snow,
     the world of the dead swallows those who sin.
Forgotten here on earth, and with their power broken,
     they taste sweet to worms.

Sinners take advantage of widows
     and other helpless women.
But God's mighty strength destroys those in power.
     Even if they seem successful, they are doomed to fail.
God may let them feel secure,
     but they are never out of his sight.
Great for a while; gone forever!
     Sinners are mowed down
     like weeds,
     then they wither and die.
If I haven't spoken the truth, then prove me wrong.

Bildad's Third Speech

Bildad from Shuah said:
God is the one to fear,
     because God is in control and rules the heavens.
Who can count his army of stars?
     Isn't God the source of light?
How can anyone be innocent in the sight of God?
To him, not even the light of the moon and stars
     can ever be pure.
So how can we humans, when we are merely worms?

Job's Reply to Bildad

Job said:
You have really been helpful to someone weak and weary.
You have given great advice and wonderful wisdom
     to someone truly in need.
How can anyone possibly speak with such understanding?
Remember the terrible trembling
     of those in the world of the dead
     below the mighty ocean.
Nothing in that land of death and destruction
    is hidden from God, who hung the northern sky
     and suspended the earth on empty space.
God stores water in clouds, but they don't burst,
    and he wraps them around the face of the moon.
On the surface of the ocean, God has drawn a boundary line
     between light and darkness.
And columns supporting the sky tremble at his command.

By his power and wisdom,
     God conquered the force of the mighty ocean.
The heavens became bright when he breathed,
     and the escaping sea monster died at the hands of God.
These things are merely a whisper of God's power at work.
     How little we would understand
     if this whisper ever turned into thunder!

Job Continues

Job said:
I am desperate because GodAll–Powerful
     refuses to do what is right.
     As surely as God lives, and while he gives me breath,
    I will tell only the truth.
Until the day I die, I will refuse to do wrong
     by saying you are right,
because each day my conscience
     agrees that I am innocent.

I pray that my enemies will suffer no less
     than the wicked.
Such people are hopeless, andGod All–Powerful
     will cut them down, without listening
     when they beg for mercy.
And that is what God should do,
     because they don't like him or ever pray.
Now I will explain in detail what God All–Powerful does.
All of you have seen these things for yourselves.
     So you have no excuse.

Here is how God All–Powerful
     treats those who are wicked and brutal.
They may have many children, but most of them
     will go hungry or suffer a violent death.
Others will die of disease,
     and their widows won't be able to weep.
The wicked may collect riches and clothes in abundance
     as easily as clay.
But God's people will wear clothes taken from them
     and divide up their riches.
No homes built by the wicked will outlast a cocoon
     or a shack.
Those sinners may go to bed rich,
     but they will wake up poor.
Terror will strike at night like a flood or a storm.
Then a scorching wind will sweep them away
    without showing mercy, as they try to escape.
At last, the wind will celebrate
     because they are gone.


Old Testament

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