Job 32:6-37:24

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[a] in a person,
    the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.
It is not only the old[b] 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.

“But now, Job, listen to my words;
    pay attention to everything I say.
I am about to open my mouth;
    my words are on the tip of my tongue.
My words come from an upright heart;
    my lips sincerely speak what I know.
The Spirit of God has made me;
    the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Answer me then, if you can;
    stand up and argue your case before me.
I am the same as you in God’s sight;
    I too am a piece of clay.
No fear of me should alarm you,
    nor should my hand be heavy on you.

“But you have said in my hearing—
    I heard the very words—
‘I am pure, I have done no wrong;
    I am clean and free from sin.
Yet God has found fault with me;
    he considers me his enemy.
He fastens my feet in shackles;
    he keeps close watch on all my paths.’

“But I tell you, in this you are not right,
    for God is greater than any mortal.
Why do you complain to him
    that he responds to no one’s words[c]?
For God does speak—now one way, now another—
    though no one perceives it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night,
    when deep sleep falls on people
    as they slumber in their beds,
he may speak in their ears
    and terrify them with warnings,
to turn them from wrongdoing
    and keep them from pride,
to preserve them from the pit,
    their lives from perishing by the sword.[d]

“Or someone may be chastened on a bed of pain
    with constant distress in their bones,
so that their body finds food repulsive
    and their soul loathes the choicest meal.
Their flesh wastes away to nothing,
    and their bones, once hidden, now stick out.
They draw near to the pit,
    and their life to the messengers of death.[e]
Yet if there is an angel at their side,
    a messenger, one out of a thousand,
    sent to tell them how to be upright,
and he is gracious to that person and says to God,
    ‘Spare them from going down to the pit;
    I have found a ransom for them—
let their flesh be renewed like a child’s;
    let them be restored as in the days of their youth’—
then that person can pray to God and find favor with him,
    they will see God’s face and shout for joy;
    he will restore them to full well-being.
And they will go to others and say,
    ‘I have sinned, I have perverted what is right,
    but I did not get what I deserved.
God has delivered me from going down to the pit,
    and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.’

“God does all these things to a person—
    twice, even three times—
to turn them back from the pit,
    that the light of life may shine on them.

“Pay attention, Job, and listen to me;
    be silent, and I will speak.
If you have anything to say, answer me;
    speak up, for I want to vindicate you.
But if not, then listen to me;
    be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”

Then Elihu said:

“Hear my words, you wise men;
    listen to me, you men of learning.
For the ear tests words
    as the tongue tastes food.
Let us discern for ourselves what is right;
    let us learn together what is good.

“Job says, ‘I am innocent,
    but God denies me justice.
Although I am right,
    I am considered a liar;
although I am guiltless,
    his arrow inflicts an incurable wound.’
Is there anyone like Job,
    who drinks scorn like water?
He keeps company with evildoers;
    he associates with the wicked.
For he says, ‘There is no profit
    in trying to please God.’

“So listen to me, you men of understanding.
    Far be it from God to do evil,
    from the Almighty to do wrong.
He repays everyone for what they have done;
    he brings on them what their conduct deserves.
It is unthinkable that God would do wrong,
    that the Almighty would pervert justice.
Who appointed him over the earth?
    Who put him in charge of the whole world?
If it were his intention
    and he withdrew his spirit[f] and breath,
all humanity would perish together
    and mankind would return to the dust.

“If you have understanding, hear this;
    listen to what I say.
Can someone who hates justice govern?
    Will you condemn the just and mighty One?
Is he not the One who says to kings, ‘You are worthless,’
    and to nobles, ‘You are wicked,’
who shows no partiality to princes
    and does not favor the rich over the poor,
    for they are all the work of his hands?
They die in an instant, in the middle of the night;
    the people are shaken and they pass away;
    the mighty are removed without human hand.

“His eyes are on the ways of mortals;
    he sees their every step.
There is no deep shadow, no utter darkness,
    where evildoers can hide.
God has no need to examine people further,
    that they should come before him for judgment.
Without inquiry he shatters the mighty
    and sets up others in their place.
Because he takes note of their deeds,
    he overthrows them in the night and they are crushed.
He punishes them for their wickedness
    where everyone can see them,
because they turned from following him
    and had no regard for any of his ways.
They caused the cry of the poor to come before him,
    so that he heard the cry of the needy.
But if he remains silent, who can condemn him?
    If he hides his face, who can see him?
Yet he is over individual and nation alike,
    to keep the godless from ruling,
    from laying snares for the people.

“Suppose someone says to God,
    ‘I am guilty but will offend no more.
Teach me what I cannot see;
    if I have done wrong, I will not do so again.’
Should God then reward you on your terms,
    when you refuse to repent?
You must decide, not I;
    so tell me what you know.

“Men of understanding declare,
    wise men who hear me say to me,
‘Job speaks without knowledge;
    his words lack insight.’
Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost
    for answering like a wicked man!
To his sin he adds rebellion;
    scornfully he claps his hands among us
    and multiplies his words against God.”

Then Elihu said:

“Do you think this is just?
    You say, ‘I am in the right, not God.’
Yet you ask him, ‘What profit is it to me,[g]
    and what do I gain by not sinning?’

“I would like to reply to you
    and to your friends with you.
Look up at the heavens and see;
    gaze at the clouds so high above you.
If you sin, how does that affect him?
    If your sins are many, what does that do to him?
If you are righteous, what do you give to him,
    or what does he receive from your hand?
Your wickedness only affects humans like yourself,
    and your righteousness only other people.

“People cry out under a load of oppression;
    they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful.
But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
    who gives songs in the night,
who teaches us more than he teaches[h] the beasts of the earth
    and makes us wiser than[i] the birds in the sky?’
He does not answer when people cry out
    because of the arrogance of the wicked.
Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea;
    the Almighty pays no attention to it.
How much less, then, will he listen
    when you say that you do not see him,
that your case is before him
    and you must wait for him,
and further, that his anger never punishes
    and he does not take the least notice of wickedness.[j]
So Job opens his mouth with empty talk;
    without knowledge he multiplies words.”

Elihu continued:

“Bear with me a little longer and I will show you
    that there is more to be said in God’s behalf.
I get my knowledge from afar;
    I will ascribe justice to my Maker.
Be assured that my words are not false;
    one who has perfect knowledge is with you.

“God is mighty, but despises no one;
    he is mighty, and firm in his purpose.
He does not keep the wicked alive
    but gives the afflicted their rights.
He does not take his eyes off the righteous;
    he enthrones them with kings
    and exalts them forever.
But if people are bound in chains,
    held fast by cords of affliction,
he tells them what they have done—
    that they have sinned arrogantly.
He makes them listen to correction
    and commands them to repent of their evil.
If they obey and serve him,
    they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity
    and their years in contentment.
But if they do not listen,
    they will perish by the sword[k]
    and die without knowledge.

“The godless in heart harbor resentment;
    even when he fetters them, they do not cry for help.
They die in their youth,
    among male prostitutes of the shrines.
But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering;
    he speaks to them in their affliction.

“He is wooing you from the jaws of distress
    to a spacious place free from restriction,
    to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.
But now you are laden with the judgment due the wicked;
    judgment and justice have taken hold of you.
Be careful that no one entices you by riches;
    do not let a large bribe turn you aside.
Would your wealth or even all your mighty efforts
    sustain you so you would not be in distress?
Do not long for the night,
    to drag people away from their homes.[l]
Beware of turning to evil,
    which you seem to prefer to affliction.

“God is exalted in his power.
    Who is a teacher like him?
Who has prescribed his ways for him,
    or said to him, ‘You have done wrong’?
Remember to extol his work,
    which people have praised in song.
All humanity has seen it;
    mortals gaze on it from afar.
How great is God—beyond our understanding!
    The number of his years is past finding out.

“He draws up the drops of water,
    which distill as rain to the streams[m];
the clouds pour down their moisture
    and abundant showers fall on mankind.
Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
    how he thunders from his pavilion?
See how he scatters his lightning about him,
    bathing the depths of the sea.
This is the way he governs[n] the nations
    and provides food in abundance.
He fills his hands with lightning
    and commands it to strike its mark.
His thunder announces the coming storm;
    even the cattle make known its approach.[o]

“At this my heart pounds
    and leaps from its place.
Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice,
    to the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven
    and sends it to the ends of the earth.
After that comes the sound of his roar;
    he thunders with his majestic voice.
When his voice resounds,
    he holds nothing back.
God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways;
    he does great things beyond our understanding.
He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’
    and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’
So that everyone he has made may know his work,
    he stops all people from their labor.[p]
The animals take cover;
    they remain in their dens.
The tempest comes out from its chamber,
    the cold from the driving winds.
The breath of God produces ice,
    and the broad waters become frozen.
He loads the clouds with moisture;
    he scatters his lightning through them.
At his direction they swirl around
    over the face of the whole earth
    to do whatever he commands them.
He brings the clouds to punish people,
    or to water his earth and show his love.

“Listen to this, Job;
    stop and consider God’s wonders.
Do you know how God controls the clouds
    and makes his lightning flash?
Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
    those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?
You who swelter in your clothes
    when the land lies hushed under the south wind,
can you join him in spreading out the skies,
    hard as a mirror of cast bronze?

“Tell us what we should say to him;
    we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness.
Should he be told that I want to speak?
    Would anyone ask to be swallowed up?
Now no one can look at the sun,
    bright as it is in the skies
    after the wind has swept them clean.
Out of the north he comes in golden splendor;
    God comes in awesome majesty.
The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power;
    in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.
Therefore, people revere him,
    for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?[q]


Footnotes
  1. Job 32:8 Or Spirit; also in verse 18
  2. Job 32:9 Or many; or great
  3. Job 33:13 Or that he does not answer for any of his actions
  4. Job 33:18 Or from crossing the river
  5. Job 33:22 Or to the place of the dead
  6. Job 34:14 Or Spirit
  7. Job 35:3 Or you
  8. Job 35:11 Or night, / 11 who teaches us by
  9. Job 35:11 Or us wise by
  10. Job 35:15 Symmachus, Theodotion and Vulgate; the meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
  11. Job 36:12 Or will cross the river
  12. Job 36:20 The meaning of the Hebrew for verses 18-20 is uncertain.
  13. Job 36:27 Or distill from the mist as rain
  14. Job 36:31 Or nourishes
  15. Job 36:33 Or announces his coming— / the One zealous against evil
  16. Job 37:7 Or work, / he fills all people with fear by his power
  17. Job 37:24 Or for he does not have regard for any who think they are wise.

Read More of Job 32