“But now they mock me,
men younger than I,
whose fathers I would have disdained
to put with my sheep dogs.
Of what use was the strength of their hands to me,
since their vigor had gone from them?
Haggard from want and hunger,
they roamed the parched land
in desolate wastelands at night.
In the brush they gathered salt herbs,
and their food was the root of the broom bush.
They were banished from human society,
shouted at as if they were thieves.
They were forced to live in the dry stream beds,
among the rocks and in holes in the ground.
They brayed among the bushes
and huddled in the undergrowth.
A base and nameless brood,
they were driven out of the land.
“And now those young men mock me in song;
I have become a byword among them.
They detest me and keep their distance;
they do not hesitate to spit in my face.
Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me,
they throw off restraint in my presence.
On my right the tribe attacks;
they lay snares for my feet,
they build their siege ramps against me.
They break up my road;
they succeed in destroying me.
‘No one can help him,’ they say.
They advance as through a gaping breach;
amid the ruins they come rolling in.
Terrors overwhelm me;
my dignity is driven away as by the wind,
my safety vanishes like a cloud.
“And now my life ebbs away;
days of suffering grip me.
Night pierces my bones;
my gnawing pains never rest.
In his great power God becomes like clothing to me;
he binds me like the neck of my garment.
He throws me into the mud,
and I am reduced to dust and ashes.
“I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer;
I stand up, but you merely look at me.
You turn on me ruthlessly;
with the might of your hand you attack me.
You snatch me up and drive me before the wind;
you toss me about in the storm.
I know you will bring me down to death,
to the place appointed for all the living.
“Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man
when he cries for help in his distress.
Have I not wept for those in trouble?
Has not my soul grieved for the poor?
Yet when I hoped for good, evil came;
when I looked for light, then came darkness.
The churning inside me never stops;
days of suffering confront me.
I go about blackened, but not by the sun;
I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.
I have become a brother of jackals,
a companion of owls.
My skin grows black and peels;
my body burns with fever.
My lyre is tuned to mourning,
and my pipe to the sound of wailing.
“I made a covenant with my eyes
not to look lustfully at a young woman.
For what is our lot from God above,
our heritage from the Almighty on high?
Is it not ruin for the wicked,
disaster for those who do wrong?
Does he not see my ways
and count my every step?
“If I have walked with falsehood
or my foot has hurried after deceit—
let God weigh me in honest scales
and he will know that I am blameless—
if my steps have turned from the path,
if my heart has been led by my eyes,
or if my hands have been defiled,
then may others eat what I have sown,
and may my crops be uprooted.
“If my heart has been enticed by a woman,
or if I have lurked at my neighbor’s door,
then may my wife grind another man’s grain,
and may other men sleep with her.
For that would have been wicked,
a sin to be judged.
It is a fire that burns to Destruction;
it would have uprooted my harvest.
“If I have denied justice to any of my servants,
whether male or female,
when they had a grievance against me,
what will I do when God confronts me?
What will I answer when called to account?
Did not he who made me in the womb make them?
Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?
“If I have denied the desires of the poor
or let the eyes of the widow grow weary,
if I have kept my bread to myself,
not sharing it with the fatherless—
but from my youth I reared them as a father would,
and from my birth I guided the widow—
if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing,
or the needy without garments,
and their hearts did not bless me
for warming them with the fleece from my sheep,
if I have raised my hand against the fatherless,
knowing that I had influence in court,
then let my arm fall from the shoulder,
let it be broken off at the joint.
For I dreaded destruction from God,
and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things.
“If I have put my trust in gold
or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security,’
if I have rejoiced over my great wealth,
the fortune my hands had gained,
if I have regarded the sun in its radiance
or the moon moving in splendor,
so that my heart was secretly enticed
and my hand offered them a kiss of homage,
then these also would be sins to be judged,
for I would have been unfaithful to God on high.
“If I have rejoiced at my enemy’s misfortune
or gloated over the trouble that came to him—
I have not allowed my mouth to sin
by invoking a curse against their life—
if those of my household have never said,
‘Who has not been filled with Job’s meat?’—
but no stranger had to spend the night in the street,
for my door was always open to the traveler—
if I have concealed my sin as people do,
by hiding my guilt in my heart
because I so feared the crowd
and so dreaded the contempt of the clans
that I kept silent and would not go outside—
(“Oh, that I had someone to hear me!
I sign now my defense—let the Almighty answer me;
let my accuser put his indictment in writing.
Surely I would wear it on my shoulder,
I would put it on like a crown.
I would give him an account of my every step;
I would present it to him as to a ruler.)—
“if my land cries out against me
and all its furrows are wet with tears,
if I have devoured its yield without payment
or broken the spirit of its tenants,
then let briers come up instead of wheat
and stinkweed instead of barley.”
The words of Job are ended.
So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him. Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he. But when he saw that the three men had nothing more to say, his anger was aroused.
So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said:
“I am young in years,
and you are old;
that is why I was fearful,
not daring to tell you what I know.
I thought, ‘Age should speak;
advanced years should teach wisdom.’
But it is the spirit in a person,
the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.
It is not only the old who are wise,
not only the aged who understand what is right.
“Therefore I say: Listen to me;
I too will tell you what I know.
I waited while you spoke,
I listened to your reasoning;
while you were searching for words,
I gave you my full attention.
But not one of you has proved Job wrong;
none of you has answered his arguments.
Do not say, ‘We have found wisdom;
let God, not a man, refute him.’
But Job has not marshaled his words against me,
and I will not answer him with your arguments.
“They are dismayed and have no more to say;
words have failed them.
Must I wait, now that they are silent,
now that they stand there with no reply?
I too will have my say;
I too will tell what I know.
For I am full of words,
and the spirit within me compels me;
inside I am like bottled-up wine,
like new wineskins ready to burst.
I must speak and find relief;
I must open my lips and reply.
I will show no partiality,
nor will I flatter anyone;
for if I were skilled in flattery,
my Maker would soon take me away.