Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:
“Are all these words to go unanswered?
Is this talker to be vindicated?
Will your idle talk reduce others to silence?
Will no one rebuke you when you mock?
You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless
and I am pure in your sight.’
Oh, how I wish that God would speak,
that he would open his lips against you
and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom,
for true wisdom has two sides.
Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.
“Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know?
Their measure is longer than the earth
and wider than the sea.
“If he comes along and confines you in prison
and convenes a court, who can oppose him?
Surely he recognizes deceivers;
and when he sees evil, does he not take note?
But the witless can no more become wise
than a wild donkey’s colt can be born human.
“Yet if you devote your heart to him
and stretch out your hands to him,
if you put away the sin that is in your hand
and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
then, free of fault, you will lift up your face;
you will stand firm and without fear.
You will surely forget your trouble,
recalling it only as waters gone by.
Life will be brighter than noonday,
and darkness will become like morning.
You will be secure, because there is hope;
you will look about you and take your rest in safety.
You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid,
and many will court your favor.
But the eyes of the wicked will fail,
and escape will elude them;
their hope will become a dying gasp.”
Then Job replied:
“Doubtless you are the only people who matter,
and wisdom will die with you!
But I have a mind as well as you;
I am not inferior to you.
Who does not know all these things?
“I have become a laughingstock to my friends,
though I called on God and he answered—
a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless!
Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune
as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.
The tents of marauders are undisturbed,
and those who provoke God are secure—
those God has in his hand.
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.
Does not the ear test words
as the tongue tastes food?
Is not wisdom found among the aged?
Does not long life bring understanding?
“To God belong wisdom and power;
counsel and understanding are his.
What he tears down cannot be rebuilt;
those he imprisons cannot be released.
If he holds back the waters, there is drought;
if he lets them loose, they devastate the land.
To him belong strength and insight;
both deceived and deceiver are his.
He leads rulers away stripped
and makes fools of judges.
He takes off the shackles put on by kings
and ties a loincloth around their waist.
He leads priests away stripped
and overthrows officials long established.
He silences the lips of trusted advisers
and takes away the discernment of elders.
He pours contempt on nobles
and disarms the mighty.
He reveals the deep things of darkness
and brings utter darkness into the light.
He makes nations great, and destroys them;
he enlarges nations, and disperses them.
He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason;
he makes them wander in a trackless waste.
They grope in darkness with no light;
he makes them stagger like drunkards.
“My eyes have seen all this,
my ears have heard and understood it.
What you know, I also know;
I am not inferior to you.
But I desire to speak to the Almighty
and to argue my case with God.
You, however, smear me with lies;
you are worthless physicians, all of you!
If only you would be altogether silent!
For you, that would be wisdom.
Hear now my argument;
listen to the pleas of my lips.
Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf?
Will you speak deceitfully for him?
Will you show him partiality?
Will you argue the case for God?
Would it turn out well if he examined you?
Could you deceive him as you might deceive a mortal?
He would surely call you to account
if you secretly showed partiality.
Would not his splendor terrify you?
Would not the dread of him fall on you?
Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;
your defenses are defenses of clay.
“Keep silent and let me speak;
then let come to me what may.
Why do I put myself in jeopardy
and take my life in my hands?
Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;
I will surely defend my ways to his face.
Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance,
for no godless person would dare come before him!
Listen carefully to what I say;
let my words ring in your ears.
Now that I have prepared my case,
I know I will be vindicated.
Can anyone bring charges against me?
If so, I will be silent and die.
“Only grant me these two things, God,
and then I will not hide from you:
Withdraw your hand far from me,
and stop frightening me with your terrors.
Then summon me and I will answer,
or let me speak, and you reply to me.
How many wrongs and sins have I committed?
Show me my offense and my sin.
Why do you hide your face
and consider me your enemy?
Will you torment a windblown leaf?
Will you chase after dry chaff?
For you write down bitter things against me
and make me reap the sins of my youth.
You fasten my feet in shackles;
you keep close watch on all my paths
by putting marks on the soles of my feet.
“So man wastes away like something rotten,
like a garment eaten by moths.
“Mortals, born of woman,
are of few days and full of trouble.
They spring up like flowers and wither away;
like fleeting shadows, they do not endure.
Do you fix your eye on them?
Will you bring them before you for judgment?
Who can bring what is pure from the impure?
A person’s days are determined;
you have decreed the number of his months
and have set limits he cannot exceed.
So look away from him and let him alone,
till he has put in his time like a hired laborer.
“At least there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant.
But a man dies and is laid low;
he breathes his last and is no more.
As the water of a lake dries up
or a riverbed becomes parched and dry,
so he lies down and does not rise;
till the heavens are no more, people will not awake
or be roused from their sleep.
“If only you would hide me in the grave
and conceal me till your anger has passed!
If only you would set me a time
and then remember me!
If someone dies, will they live again?
All the days of my hard service
I will wait for my renewal to come.
You will call and I will answer you;
you will long for the creature your hands have made.
Surely then you will count my steps
but not keep track of my sin.
My offenses will be sealed up in a bag;
you will cover over my sin.
“But as a mountain erodes and crumbles
and as a rock is moved from its place,
as water wears away stones
and torrents wash away the soil,
so you destroy a person’s hope.
You overpower them once for all, and they are gone;
you change their countenance and send them away.
If their children are honored, they do not know it;
if their offspring are brought low, they do not see it.
They feel but the pain of their own bodies
and mourn only for themselves.”