Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
‘If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
But who can keep from speaking?
Think how you have instructed many,
how you have strengthened feeble hands.
Your words have supported those who stumbled;
you have strengthened faltering knees.
But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;
it strikes you, and you are dismayed.
Should not your piety be your confidence
and your blameless ways your hope?
‘Consider now: who, being innocent, has ever perished?
Where were the upright ever destroyed?
As I have observed, those who plough evil
and those who sow trouble reap it.
At the breath of God they perish;
at the blast of his anger they are no more.
The lions may roar and growl,
yet the teeth of the great lions are broken.
The lion perishes for lack of prey,
and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.
‘A word was secretly brought to me,
my ears caught a whisper of it.
Amid disquieting dreams in the night,
when deep sleep falls on people,
fear and trembling seized me
and made all my bones shake.
A spirit glided past my face,
and the hair on my body stood on end.
but I could not tell what it was.
A form stood before my eyes,
and I heard a hushed voice:
“Can a mortal be more righteous than God?
Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker?
If God places no trust in his servants,
if he charges his angels with error,
how much more those who live in houses of clay,
whose foundations are in the dust,
who are crushed more readily than a moth!
Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces;
unnoticed, they perish for ever.
Are not the cords of their tent pulled up,
so that they die without wisdom?”
‘Call if you will, but who will answer you?
To which of the holy ones will you turn?
Resentment kills a fool,
and envy slays the simple.
I myself have seen a fool taking root,
but suddenly his house was cursed.
His children are far from safety,
crushed in court without a defender.
The hungry consume his harvest,
taking it even from among thorns,
and the thirsty pant after his wealth.
For hardship does not spring from the soil,
nor does trouble sprout from the ground.
Yet man is born to trouble
as surely as sparks fly upwards.
‘But if I were you, I would appeal to God;
I would lay my cause before him.
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.
He provides rain for the earth;
he sends water on the countryside.
The lowly he sets on high,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
He thwarts the plans of the crafty,
so that their hands achieve no success.
He catches the wise in their craftiness,
and the schemes of the wily are swept away.
Darkness comes upon them in the daytime;
at noon they grope as in the night.
He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth;
he saves them from the clutches of the powerful.
So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts its mouth.
‘Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.[a]
For he wounds, but he also binds up;
he injures, but his hands also heal.
From six calamities he will rescue you;
in seven no harm will touch you.
In famine he will deliver you from death,
and in battle from the stroke of the sword.
You will be protected from the lash of the tongue,
and need not fear when destruction comes.
You will laugh at destruction and famine,
and need not fear the wild animals.
For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field,
and the wild animals will be at peace with you.
You will know that your tent is secure;
you will take stock of your property and find nothing missing.
You will know that your children will be many,
and your descendants like the grass of the earth.
You will come to the grave in full vigour,
like sheaves gathered in season.
‘We have examined this, and it is true.
So hear it and apply it to yourself.’
- Job 5:17 Hebrew Shaddai; here and throughout Job
Then Job replied:
‘If only my anguish could be weighed
and all my misery be placed on the scales!
It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas –
no wonder my words have been impetuous.
The arrows of the Almighty are in me,
my spirit drinks in their poison;
God’s terrors are marshalled against me.
Does a wild donkey bray when it has grass,
or an ox bellow when it has fodder?
Is tasteless food eaten without salt,
or is there flavour in the sap of the mallow[a]?
I refuse to touch it;
such food makes me ill.
‘Oh, that I might have my request,
that God would grant what I hope for,
that God would be willing to crush me,
to let loose his hand and cut off my life!
Then I would still have this consolation –
my joy in unrelenting pain –
that I had not denied the words of the Holy One.
‘What strength do I have, that I should still hope?
What prospects, that I should be patient?
Do I have the strength of stone?
Is my flesh bronze?
Do I have any power to help myself,
now that success has been driven from me?
‘Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend
forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams,
as the streams that overflow
when darkened by thawing ice
and swollen with melting snow,
but that stop flowing in the dry season,
and in the heat vanish from their channels.
Caravans turn aside from their routes;
they go off into the wasteland and perish.
The caravans of Tema look for water,
the travelling merchants of Sheba look in hope.
They are distressed, because they had been confident;
they arrive there, only to be disappointed.
Now you too have proved to be of no help;
you see something dreadful and are afraid.
Have I ever said, “Give something on my behalf,
pay a ransom for me from your wealth,
deliver me from the hand of the enemy,
rescue me from the clutches of the ruthless”?
‘Teach me, and I will be quiet;
show me where I have been wrong.
How painful are honest words!
But what do your arguments prove?
Do you mean to correct what I say,
and treat my desperate words as wind?
You would even cast lots for the fatherless
and barter away your friend.
‘But now be so kind as to look at me.
Would I lie to your face?
Relent, do not be unjust;
reconsider, for my integrity is at stake.[b]
Is there any wickedness on my lips?
Can my mouth not discern malice?
- Job 6:6 The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
- Job 6:29 Or my righteousness still stands
‘Do not mortals have hard service on earth?
Are not their days like those of hired labourers?
Like a slave longing for the evening shadows,
or a hired labourer waiting to be paid,
so I have been allotted months of futility,
and nights of misery have been assigned to me.
When I lie down I think, “How long before I get up?”
The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn.
My body is clothed with worms and scabs,
my skin is broken and festering.
‘My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
and they come to an end without hope.
Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath;
my eyes will never see happiness again.
The eye that now sees me will see me no longer;
you will look for me, but I will be no more.
As a cloud vanishes and is gone,
so one who goes down to the grave does not return.
He will never come to his house again;
his place will know him no more.
‘Therefore I will not keep silent;
I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit,
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
Am I the sea, or the monster of the deep,
that you put me under guard?
When I think my bed will comfort me
and my couch will ease my complaint,
even then you frighten me with dreams
and terrify me with visions,
so that I prefer strangling and death,
rather than this body of mine.
I despise my life; I would not live for ever.
Let me alone; my days have no meaning.
‘What is mankind that you make so much of them,
that you give them so much attention,
that you examine them every morning
and test them every moment?
Will you never look away from me,
or let me alone even for an instant?
If I have sinned, what have I done to you,
you who see everything we do?
Why have you made me your target?
Have I become a burden to you?[a]
Why do you not pardon my offences
and forgive my sins?
For I shall soon lie down in the dust;
you will search for me, but I shall be no more.’
- Job 7:20 A few manuscripts of the Masoretic Text, an ancient Hebrew scribal tradition and Septuagint; most manuscripts of the Masoretic Text I have become a burden to myself.