Saturday, January 31, 2004

Conclusion: The LORD Blesses Job: Job 42:7-17

Job 42:7-17

Conclusion: The LORD Blesses Job

7After the LORD had finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite: "I am angry with you and with your two friends, for you have not been right in what you said about me, as my servant Job was. 8Now take seven young bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. I will not treat you as you deserve, for you have not been right in what you said about me, as my servant Job was."
9So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite did as the LORD commanded them, and the LORD accepted Job's prayer.

10When Job prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes. In fact, the LORD gave him twice as much as before! 11Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the LORD had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of money[a] and a gold ring.

12So the LORD blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand teams of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. 13He also gave Job seven more sons and three more daughters. 14He named his first daughter Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. 15In all the land there were no other women as lovely as the daughters of Job. And their father put them into his will along with their brothers.

16Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. 17Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, good life.

Job 42:11 Hebrew a kesitah; the value or weight of the kesitah is no longer known.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Job Responds, The LORD Challenges Job Again: Job 40-42:5

Job 40
1 Then the LORD said to Job, 2"Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God's critic, but do you have the answers?"

Job Responds to the LORD

3Then Job replied to the LORD, 4"I am nothing--how could I ever find the answers? I will put my hand over my mouth in silence. 5I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say."

The LORD Challenges Job Again

6Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind:
7"Brace yourself, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. 8Are you going to discredit my justice and condemn me so you can say you are right? 9Are you as strong as God, and can you thunder with a voice like his? 10All right then, put on your robes of state, your majesty and splendor. 11Give vent to your anger. Let it overflow against the proud. 12Humiliate the proud with a glance; walk on the wicked where they stand. 13Bury them in the dust. Imprison them in the world of the dead. 14Then even I would praise you, for your own strength would save you.

15"Take a look at the mighty hippopotamus.[a] I made it, just as I made you. It eats grass like an ox. 16See its powerful loins and the muscles of its belly. 17Its tail is as straight as a cedar. The sinews of its thighs are tightly knit together. 18Its bones are tubes of bronze. Its limbs are bars of iron. 19It is a prime example of God's amazing handiwork. Only its Creator can threaten it. 20The mountains offer it their best food, where all the wild animals play. 21It lies down under the lotus plants, hidden by the reeds. 22The lotus plants give it shade among the willows beside the stream. 23It is not disturbed by raging rivers, not even when the swelling Jordan rushes down upon it. 24No one can catch it off guard or put a ring in its nose and lead it away.

Job 40:15 Hebrew at behemoth.

Job 41

The LORD's Challenge Continues

1"Can you catch a crocodile[a] with a hook or put a noose around its jaw? 2Can you tie it with a rope through the nose or pierce its jaw with a spike? 3Will it beg you for mercy or implore you for pity? 4Will it agree to work for you? Can you make it be your slave for life? 5Can you make it a pet like a bird, or give it to your little girls to play with? 6Will merchants try to buy it? Will they sell it in their shops? 7Will its hide be hurt by darts, or its head by a harpoon? 8If you lay a hand on it, you will never forget the battle that follows, and you will never try it again!
9"No, it is useless to try to capture it. The hunter who attempts it will be thrown down. 10And since no one dares to disturb the crocodile, who would dare to stand up to me? 11Who will confront me and remain safe[b]? Everything under heaven is mine.

12"I want to emphasize the tremendous strength in the crocodile's limbs and throughout its enormous frame. 13Who can strip off its hide, and who can penetrate its double layer of armor[c]? 14Who could pry open its jaws? For its teeth are terrible! 15The overlapping scales on its back make a shield. 16They are close together so no air can get between them. 17They lock together so nothing can penetrate them.

18"When it sneezes, it flashes light! Its eyes are like the red of dawn. 19Fire and sparks leap from its mouth. 20Smoke streams from its nostrils like steam from a boiling pot on a fire of dry rushes. 21Yes, its breath would kindle coals, for flames shoot from its mouth.

22"The tremendous strength in its neck strikes terror wherever it goes. 23Its flesh is hard and firm, not soft and fat. 24Its heart is as hard as rock, as hard as a millstone. 25When it rises, the mighty are afraid, gripped by terror. 26No sword can stop it, nor spear nor dart nor pointed shaft. 27To the crocodile, iron is nothing but straw, and bronze is rotten wood. 28Arrows cannot make it flee. Stones shot from a sling are as ineffective as straw. 29Clubs do no good, and it laughs at the swish of the javelins. 30Its belly is covered with scales as sharp as glass. They tear up the ground as it drags through the mud.

31"The crocodile makes the water boil with its commotion. It churns the depths. 32The water glistens in its wake. One would think the sea had turned white. 33There is nothing else so fearless anywhere on earth. 34Of all the creatures, it is the proudest. It is the king of beasts."

Job 41:1 Hebrew Leviathan; also throughout the following passage.
Job 41:11 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads confront me that I must pay.
Job 41:13 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads its bridle.

Job 42

Job Responds to the LORD

1Then Job replied to the LORD:
2"I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. 3You ask, `Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?' It is I. And I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me.

4"You said, `Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.'

5"I had heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. 6I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance."

Thursday, January 29, 2004

The LORD Challenges Job: Job 38-39

Job 38

The LORD Challenges Job

1Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind:
2"Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? 3Brace yourself, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.

4"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. 5Do you know how its dimensions were determined and who did the surveying? 6What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone 7as the morning stars sang together and all the angels[a] shouted for joy?

8"Who defined the boundaries of the sea as it burst from the womb, 9and as I clothed it with clouds and thick darkness? 10For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. 11I said, `Thus far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!'

12"Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east? 13Have you ever told the daylight to spread to the ends of the earth, to bring an end to the night's wickedness? 14For the features of the earth take shape as the light approaches, and the dawn is robed in red. 15The light disturbs the haunts of the wicked, and it stops the arm that is raised in violence.

16"Have you explored the springs from which the seas come? Have you walked about and explored their depths? 17Do you know where the gates of death are located? Have you seen the gates of utter gloom? 18Do you realize the extent of the earth? Tell me about it if you know!

19"Where does the light come from, and where does the darkness go? 20Can you take it to its home? Do you know how to get there? 21But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced!

22"Have you visited the treasuries of the snow? Have you seen where the hail is made and stored? 23I have reserved it for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war. 24Where is the path to the origin of light? Where is the home of the east wind?

25"Who created a channel for the torrents of rain? Who laid out the path for the lightning? 26Who makes the rain fall on barren land, in a desert where no one lives? 27Who sends the rain that satisfies the parched ground and makes the tender grass spring up?

28"Does the rain have a father? Where does dew come from? 29Who is the mother of the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens? 30For the water turns to ice as hard as rock, and the surface of the water freezes.

31"Can you hold back the movements of the stars? Are you able to restrain the Pleiades or Orion? 32Can you ensure the proper sequence of the seasons or guide the constellation of the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? 33Do you know the laws of the universe and how God rules the earth?

34"Can you shout to the clouds and make it rain? 35Can you make lightning appear and cause it to strike as you direct it? 36Who gives intuition and instinct? 37Who is wise enough to count all the clouds? Who can tilt the water jars of heaven, 38turning the dry dust to clumps of mud?

39"Can you stalk prey for a lioness and satisfy the young lions' appetites 40as they lie in their dens or crouch in the thicket? 41Who provides food for the ravens when their young cry out to God as they wander about in hunger?

Job 38:7 Hebrew sons of God.

Job 39

The LORD's Challenge Continues

1"Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Have you watched as the wild deer are born? 2Do you know how many months they carry their young? Are you aware of the time of their delivery? 3They crouch down to give birth to their young and deliver their offspring. 4Their young grow up in the open fields, then leave their parents and never return.
5"Who makes the wild donkey wild? 6I have placed it in the wilderness; its home is the wasteland. 7It hates the noise of the city, and it has no driver to shout at it. 8The mountains are its pastureland, where it searches for every blade of grass.

9"Will the wild ox consent to being tamed? Will it stay in your stall? 10Can you hitch a wild ox to a plow? Will it plow a field for you? 11Since it is so strong, can you trust it? Can you go away and trust the ox to do your work? 12Can you rely on it to return, bringing your grain to the threshing floor?

13"The ostrich flaps her wings grandly, but they are no match for the feathers of the stork. 14She lays her eggs on top of the earth, letting them be warmed in the dust. 15She doesn't worry that a foot might crush them or that wild animals might destroy them. 16She is harsh toward her young, as if they were not her own. She is unconcerned though they die, 17for God has deprived her of wisdom. He has given her no understanding. 18But whenever she jumps up to run, she passes the swiftest horse with its rider.

19"Have you given the horse its strength or clothed its neck with a flowing mane? 20Did you give it the ability to leap forward like a locust? Its majestic snorting is something to hear! 21It paws the earth and rejoices in its strength. When it charges to war, 22it is unafraid. It does not run from the sword. 23The arrows rattle against it, and the spear and javelin flash. 24Fiercely it paws the ground and rushes forward into battle when the trumpet blows. 25It snorts at the sound of the bugle. It senses the battle even at a distance. It quivers at the noise of battle and the shout of the captain's commands.

26"Are you the one who makes the hawk soar and spread its wings to the south? 27Is it at your command that the eagle rises to the heights to make its nest? 28It lives on the cliffs, making its home on a distant, rocky crag. 29From there it hunts its prey, keeping watch with piercing eyes. 30Its nestlings gulp down blood, for it feeds on the carcass of the slaughtered."

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Elihu Presents His Case against Job: Job 32-37

Job 32

Elihu Responds to Job's Friends

1Job's three friends refused to reply further to him because he kept insisting on his innocence.
2Then Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the clan of Ram, became angry. He was angry because Job refused to admit that he had sinned and that God was right in punishing him. 3He was also angry with Job's three friends because they had condemned God[a] by their inability to answer Job's arguments. 4Elihu had waited for the others to speak because they were older than he. 5But when he saw that they had no further reply, he spoke out angrily.

6Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said, "I am young and you are old, so I held back and did not dare to tell you what I think. 7I thought, `Those who are older should speak, for wisdom comes with age.' 8Surely it is God's Spirit within people, the breath of the Almighty within them, that makes them intelligent. 9But sometimes the elders are not wise. Sometimes the aged do not understand justice. 10So listen to me and let me express my opinion.

11"I have waited all this time, listening very carefully to your arguments, listening to you grope for words. 12I have listened, but not one of you has refuted Job or answered his arguments. 13And don't tell me, `He is too wise for us. Only God can convince him.' 14If Job had been arguing with me, I would not answer with that kind of logic! 15You sit there baffled, with no further response. 16Should I continue to wait, now that you are silent? Must I also remain silent? 17No, I will say my piece. I will speak my mind. I surely will. 18For I am pent up and full of words, and the spirit within me urges me on. 19I am like a wine cask without a vent. My words are ready to burst out! 20I must speak to find relief, so let me give my answers. 21I won't play favorites or try to flatter anyone. 22And if I tried, my Creator would soon do away with me.

Job 32:3 As in ancient Hebrew scribal tradition; the Masoretic Text makes no reference to God.

Job 33

Elihu Presents His Case against Job

1"Listen, Job, to what I have to say. 2Now that I have begun to speak, let me continue. 3I speak with all sincerity; I speak the truth. 4For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. 5Answer me, if you can; make your case and take your stand.
6"Look, you and I are the same before God. I, too, was formed from clay. 7So you don't need to be afraid of me. I am not some great person to make you nervous and afraid.

8"You have said it in my hearing. I have heard your very words. 9You said, `I am pure; I am innocent; I have not sinned. 10God is picking a quarrel with me, and he considers me to be his enemy. 11He puts my feet in the stocks and watches every move I make.'

12"In this you are not right, and I will show you why. As you yourself have said, `God is greater than any person.' 13So why are you bringing a charge against him? You say, `He does not respond to people's complaints.' 14But God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. 15He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in bed. 16He whispers in their ear and terrifies them with his warning. 17He causes them to change their minds; he keeps them from pride. 18He keeps them from the grave, from crossing over the river of death. 19Or God disciplines people with sickness and pain, with ceaseless aching in their bones. 20They lose their appetite and do not care for even the most delicious food. 21They waste away to skin and bones. 22They are at death's door; the angels of death wait for them.

23"But if a special messenger from heaven is there to intercede for a person, to declare that he is upright, 24God will be gracious and say, `Set him free. Do not make him die, for I have found a ransom for his life.' 25Then his body will become as healthy as a child's, firm and youthful again. 26When he prays to God, he will be accepted. And God will receive him with joy and restore him to good standing. 27He will declare to his friends, `I sinned, but it was not worth it. 28God rescued me from the grave, and now my life is filled with light.'

29"Yes, God often does these things for people. 30He rescues them from the grave so they may live in the light of the living. 31Mark this well, Job. Listen to me, and let me say more. 32But if you have anything to say, go ahead. I want to hear it, for I am anxious to see you justified. 33But if not, then listen to me. Keep silent and I will teach you wisdom!"

Job 34

Elihu Accuses Job of Arrogance

1Then Elihu said:
2"Listen to me, you wise men. Pay attention, you who have knowledge. 3`Just as the mouth tastes good food, the ear tests the words it hears.' 4So let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good. 5For Job has said, `I am innocent, but God has taken away my rights. 6I am innocent, but they call me a liar. My suffering is incurable, even though I have not sinned.'

7"Has there ever been a man as arrogant as Job, with his thirst for irreverent talk? 8He seeks the companionship of evil people. He spends his time with wicked men. 9He has even said, `Why waste time trying to please God?'

10"Listen to me, you who have understanding. Everyone knows that God doesn't sin! The Almighty can do no wrong. 11He repays people according to their deeds. He treats people according to their ways. 12There is no truer statement than this: God will not do wrong. The Almighty cannot twist justice. 13Who put the world in his care? Who has set the whole world in place? 14If God were to take back his spirit[a] and withdraw his breath, 15all life would cease, and humanity would turn again to dust.

16"Listen now and try to understand. 17Could God govern if he hated justice? Are you going to condemn the almighty Judge? 18For he says to kings and nobles, `You are wicked and unjust.' 19He doesn't care how great a person may be, and he doesn't pay any more attention to the rich than to the poor. He made them all. 20In a moment they die. At midnight they all pass away; the mighty are removed without human hand.

21"For God carefully watches the way people live; he sees everything they do. 22No darkness is thick enough to hide the wicked from his eyes. 23For it is not up to mortals to decide when to come before God in judgment. 24He brings the mighty to ruin without asking anyone, and he sets up others in their places. 25He watches what they do, and in the night he overturns them, destroying them. 26He openly strikes them down for their wickedness. 27For they turned aside from following him. They have no respect for any of his ways. 28So they cause the poor to cry out, catching God's attention. Yes, he hears the cries of the needy. 29When he is quiet, who can make trouble? But when he hides his face, who can find him? 30He prevents the godless from ruling so they cannot be a snare to the people.

31"Why don't people say to God, `I have sinned, but I will sin no more'? 32Or `I don't know what evil I have done; tell me, and I will stop at once'?

33"Must God tailor his justice to your demands? But you have rejected him! The choice is yours, not mine. Go ahead, share your wisdom with us. 34After all, bright people will tell me, and wise people will hear me say, 35`Job speaks without knowledge; his words lack insight.' 36Job, you deserve the maximum penalty for the wicked way you have talked. 37For now you have added rebellion and blasphemy against God to your other sins."

Job 34:14 Or his Spirit.

Job 35

Elihu Reminds Job of God's Justice

1Then Elihu said:
2"Do you think it is right for you to claim, `I am righteous before God'? 3Yet you also ask, `What's the use of living a righteous life? How will it benefit me?'

4"I will answer you and all your friends, too. 5Look up into the sky and see the clouds high above you. 6If you sin, what do you accomplish against him? Even if you sin again and again, what effect will it have on him? 7If you are good, is this some great gift to him? What could you possibly give him? 8No, your sins affect only people like yourself, and your good deeds affect only other people.

9"The oppressed cry out beneath the wrongs that are done to them. They groan beneath the power of the mighty. 10Yet they don't ask, `Where is God my Creator, the one who gives songs in the night? 11Where is the one who makes us wiser than the animals and birds?'

12"And if they do cry out and God does not answer, it is because of their pride. 13But it is wrong to say God doesn't listen, to say the Almighty isn't concerned. 14And it is even more false to say he doesn't see what is going on. He will bring about justice if you will only wait. 15But do you cry out against him because he does not respond in anger? 16Job, you have protested in vain. You have spoken like a fool."

Job 36

1 Elihu continued speaking:
2"Let me go on, and I will show you the truth of what I am saying. For I have not finished defending God! 3I will give you many illustrations of the righteousness of my Creator. 4I am telling you the honest truth, for I am a man of well-rounded knowledge.

5"God is mighty, yet he does not despise anyone! He is mighty in both power and understanding. 6He does not let the wicked live but gives justice to the afflicted. 7His eyes never leave the innocent, but he establishes and exalts them with kings forever. 8If troubles come upon them and they are enslaved and afflicted, 9he takes the trouble to show them the reason. He shows them their sins, for they have behaved proudly. 10He gets their attention and says they must turn away from evil.

11"If they listen and obey God, then they will be blessed with prosperity throughout their lives. All their years will be pleasant. 12But if they refuse to listen to him, they will perish in battle and die from lack of understanding. 13For the godless are full of resentment. Even when he punishes them, they refuse to cry out to him for help. 14They die young after wasting their lives in immoral living. 15But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer. For he gets their attention through adversity.

16"God has led you away from danger, giving you freedom. You have prospered in a wide and pleasant valley. 17But you are too obsessed with judgment on the godless. Don't worry, justice will be upheld. 18But watch out, or you may be seduced with wealth. Don't let yourself be bribed into sin. 19Could all your wealth and mighty efforts keep you from distress? 20Do not long for the cover of night, for that is when people will be destroyed. 21Be on guard! Turn back from evil, for it was to prevent you from getting into a life of evil that God sent this suffering.

Elihu Reminds Job of God's Power

22"Look, God is all-powerful. Who is a teacher like him? 23No one can tell him what to do. No one can say to him, `You have done wrong.' 24Instead, glorify his mighty works, singing songs of praise. 25Everyone has seen these things, but only from a distance.
26"Look, God is exalted beyond what we can understand. His years are without number. 27He draws up the water vapor and then distills it into rain. 28The rain pours down from the clouds, and everyone benefits from it. 29Can anyone really understand the spreading of the clouds and the thunder that rolls forth from heaven? 30See how he spreads the lightning around him and how it lights up the depths of the sea. 31By his mighty acts he governs the people, giving them food in abundance. 32He fills his hands with lightning bolts. He hurls each at its target. 33The thunder announces his presence; the storm announces his indignant anger.[a]

Job 36:33 Or even the cattle know when a storm is coming. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.

Job 37

1 "My heart pounds as I think of this. It leaps within me. 2Listen carefully to the thunder of God's voice as it rolls from his mouth. 3It rolls across the heavens, and his lightning flashes out in every direction. 4Then comes the roaring of the thunder--the tremendous voice of his majesty. He does not restrain the thunder when he speaks. 5God's voice is glorious in the thunder. We cannot comprehend the greatness of his power.
6"He directs the snow to fall on the earth and tells the rain to pour down. 7Everyone stops working at such a time so they can recognize his power. 8The wild animals hide in the rocks or in their dens. 9The stormy wind comes from its chamber, and the driving winds bring the cold. 10God's breath sends the ice, freezing wide expanses of water. 11He loads the clouds with moisture, and they flash with his lightning. 12The clouds turn around and around under his direction. They do whatever he commands throughout the earth. 13He causes things to happen on earth, either as a punishment or as a sign of his unfailing love.

14"Listen, Job; stop and consider the wonderful miracles of God! 15Do you know how God controls the storm and causes the lightning to flash forth from his clouds? 16Do you understand how he balances the clouds with wonderful perfection and skill? 17When you are sweltering in your clothes and the south wind dies down and everything is still, 18he makes the skies reflect the heat like a giant mirror. Can you do that?

19"You think you know so much, so teach the rest of us what to say to God. We are too ignorant to make our own arguments. 20Should God be told that I want to speak? Can we speak when we are confused? 21We cannot look at the sun, for it shines brightly in the sky when the wind clears away the clouds. 22Golden splendor comes from the mountain of God. He is clothed in dazzling splendor. 23We cannot imagine the power of the Almighty, yet he is so just and merciful that he does not oppress us. 24No wonder people everywhere fear him. People who are truly wise show him reverence."

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Job's Final Protest of Innocence: Job 28-31

Job 28

Job Speaks of Wisdom and Understanding

1"People know how to mine silver and refine gold. 2They know how to dig iron from the earth and smelt copper from stone. 3They know how to put light into darkness and explore the farthest, darkest regions of the earth as they search for ore. 4They sink a mine shaft into the earth far from where anyone lives. They descend on ropes, swinging back and forth. 5Bread comes from the earth, but below the surface the earth is melted as by fire.
6"People know how to find sapphires and gold dust-- 7treasures that no bird of prey can see, no falcon's eye observe-- 8for they are deep within the mines. No wild animal has ever walked upon those treasures; no lion has set his paw there. 9People know how to tear apart flinty rocks and overturn the roots of mountains. 10They cut tunnels in the rocks and uncover precious stones. 11They dam up the trickling streams and bring to light the hidden treasures.

12"But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? 13No one knows where to find it, for it is not found among the living. 14`It is not here,' says the ocean. `Nor is it here,' says the sea.

15"It cannot be bought for gold or silver. 16Its value is greater than all the gold of Ophir, greater than precious onyx stone or sapphires. 17Wisdom is far more valuable than gold and crystal. It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold. 18Coral and valuable rock crystal are worthless in trying to get it. The price of wisdom is far above pearls. 19Topaz from Ethiopia[a] cannot be exchanged for it. Its value is greater than the purest gold.

20"But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? 21For it is hidden from the eyes of all humanity. Even the sharp-eyed birds in the sky cannot discover it. 22But Destruction and Death say, `We have heard a rumor of where wisdom can be found.'

23"God surely knows where it can be found, 24for he looks throughout the whole earth, under all the heavens. 25He made the winds blow and determined how much rain should fall. 26He made the laws of the rain and prepared a path for the lightning. 27Then, when he had done all this, he saw wisdom and measured it. He established it and examined it thoroughly. 28And this is what he says to all humanity: `The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.' "

Job 28:19 Hebrew from Cush.

Job 29

Job Speaks of His Former Blessings

1Job continued speaking:
2"I long for the years gone by when God took care of me, 3when he lighted the way before me and I walked safely through the darkness. 4In my early years, the friendship of God was felt in my home. 5The Almighty was still with me, and my children were around me. 6In those days my cows produced milk in abundance, and my olive groves poured out streams of olive oil.

7"Those were the days when I went to the city gate and took my place among the honored leaders. 8The young stepped aside when they saw me, and even the aged rose in respect at my coming. 9The princes stood in silence and put their hands over their mouths. 10The highest officials of the city stood quietly, holding their tongues in respect.

11"All who heard of me praised me. All who saw me spoke well of me. 12For I helped the poor in their need and the orphans who had no one to help them. 13I helped those who had lost hope, and they blessed me. And I caused the widows' hearts to sing for joy. 14All I did was just and honest. Righteousness covered me like a robe, and I wore justice like a turban. 15I served as eyes for the blind and feet for the lame. 16I was a father to the poor and made sure that even strangers received a fair trial. 17I broke the jaws of godless oppressors and made them release their victims.

18"I thought, `Surely I will die surrounded by my family after a long, good life. 19For I am like a tree whose roots reach the water, whose branches are refreshed with the dew. 20New honors are constantly bestowed on me, and my strength is continually renewed.'

21"Everyone listened to me and valued my advice. They were silent as they waited for me to speak. 22And after I spoke, they had nothing to add, for my counsel satisfied them. 23They longed for me to speak as they longed for rain. They waited eagerly, for my words were as refreshing as the spring rain. 24When they were discouraged, I smiled at them. My look of approval was precious to them. 25I told them what they should do and presided over them as their chief. I lived as a king among his troops and as one who comforts those who mourn.

Job 30

Job Speaks of His Anguish

1"But now I am mocked by those who are younger than I, by young men whose fathers are not worthy to run with my sheepdogs. 2A lot of good they are to me--those worn-out wretches! 3They are gaunt with hunger and flee to the deserts and the wastelands, desolate and gloomy. 4They eat coarse leaves, and they burn the roots of shrubs for heat. 5They are driven from civilization, and people shout after them as if they were thieves. 6So now they live in frightening ravines and in caves and among the rocks. 7They sound like animals as they howl among the bushes; they huddle together for shelter beneath the nettles. 8They are nameless fools, outcasts of civilization.
9"And now their sons mock me with their vulgar song! They taunt me! 10They despise me and won't come near me, except to spit in my face. 11For God has cut the cords of my tent. He has humbled me, so they have thrown off all restraint. 12These outcasts oppose me to my face. They send me sprawling; they lay traps in my path. 13They block my road and do everything they can to hasten my calamity, knowing full well that I have no one to help me. 14They come at me from all directions. They rush upon me when I am down. 15I live in terror now. They hold me in contempt, and my prosperity has vanished as a cloud before a strong wind.

16"And now my heart is broken. Depression haunts my days. 17My weary nights are filled with pain as though something were relentlessly gnawing at my bones. 18With a strong hand, God grabs my garment. He grips me by the collar of my tunic. 19He has thrown me into the mud. I have become as dust and ashes.

20"I cry to you, O God, but you don't answer me. I stand before you, and you don't bother to look. 21You have become cruel toward me. You persecute me with your great power. 22You throw me into the whirlwind and destroy me in the storm. 23And I know that you are sending me to my death--the destination of all who live.

24"Surely no one would turn against the needy when they cry for help. 25Did I not weep for those in trouble? Was I not deeply grieved for the needy? 26So I looked for good, but evil came instead. I waited for the light, but darkness fell. 27My heart is troubled and restless. Days of affliction have come upon me. 28I walk in gloom, without sunlight. I stand in the public square and cry for help. 29But instead, I am considered a brother to jackals and a companion to ostriches. 30My skin has turned dark, and my bones burn with fever. 31My harp plays sad music, and my flute accompanies those who weep.

Job 31

Job's Final Protest of Innocence

1"I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust upon a young woman. 2What has God above chosen for us? What is our inheritance from the Almighty on high? 3It is calamity for the wicked, misfortune for those who do evil. 4He sees everything I do and every step I take.
5"Have I lied to anyone or deceived anyone? 6Let God judge me on the scales of justice, for he knows my integrity. 7If I have strayed from his pathway, or if my heart has lusted for what my eyes have seen, or if I am guilty of any other sin, 8then let someone else harvest the crops I have planted, and let all that I have planted be uprooted.

9"If my heart has been seduced by a woman, or if I have lusted for my neighbor's wife, 10then may my wife belong to another man; may other men sleep with her. 11For lust is a shameful sin, a crime that should be punished. 12It is a devastating fire that destroys to hell. It would wipe out everything I own.

13"If I have been unfair to my male or female servants, if I have refused to hear their complaints, 14how could I face God? What could I say when he questioned me about it? 15For God created both me and my servants. He created us both.

16"Have I refused to help the poor, or crushed the hopes of widows who looked to me for help? 17Have I been stingy with my food and refused to share it with hungry orphans? 18No, from childhood I have cared for orphans, and all my life I have cared for widows. 19Whenever I saw someone who was homeless and without clothes, 20did they not praise me for providing wool clothing to keep them warm? 21If my arm has abused an orphan because I thought I could get away with it, 22then let my shoulder be wrenched out of place! Let my arm be torn from its socket! 23That would be better than facing the judgment sent by God. For if the majesty of God opposes me, what hope is there?

24"Have I put my trust in money or felt secure because of my gold? 25Does my happiness depend on my wealth and all that I own? 26Have I looked at the sun shining in the skies, or the moon walking down its silver pathway, 27and been secretly enticed in my heart to worship them? 28If so, I should be punished by the judges, for it would mean I had denied the God of heaven.

29"Have I ever rejoiced when my enemies came to ruin or become excited when harm came their way? 30No, I have never cursed anyone or asked for revenge. 31My servants have never let others go hungry. 32I have never turned away a stranger but have opened my doors to everyone. 33Have I tried to hide my sins as people normally do, hiding my guilt in a closet? 34Have I feared the crowd and its contempt, so that I refused to acknowledge my sin and would not go outside?

35"If only I had someone who would listen to me and try to see my side! Look, I will sign my name to my defense. Let the Almighty show me that I am wrong. Let my accuser write out the charges against me. 36I would face the accusation proudly. I would treasure it like a crown. 37For I would tell him exactly what I have done. I would come before him like a prince.

38"If my land accuses me and all its furrows weep together, 39or if I have stolen its crops or murdered its owners, 40then let thistles grow on that land instead of wheat and weeds instead of barley."

Job's words are ended.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Bildad Speaks, Job Responds: Job 25

Job 25

Bildad's Third Response to Job

1Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
2"God is powerful and dreadful. He enforces peace in the heavens. 3Who is able to count his heavenly army? Does his light not shine on all the earth? 4How can a mere mortal stand before God and claim to be righteous? Who in all the earth is pure? 5God is so glorious that even the moon and stars scarcely shine compared to him. 6How much less are mere people, who are but worms in his sight?"

Job 26

Job's Ninth Speech: A Response to Bildad

1Then Job spoke again:
2"How you have helped the powerless! How you have saved a person who has no strength! 3How you have enlightened my stupidity! What wise things you have said! 4Where have you gotten all these wise sayings? Whose spirit speaks through you?

5"The dead tremble in their place beneath the waters. 6The underworld[a] is naked in God's presence. There is no cover for the place of destruction. 7God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. 8He wraps the rain in his thick clouds, and the clouds do not burst with the weight. 9He shrouds his throne with his clouds. 10He created the horizon when he separated the waters; he set the boundaries for day and night. 11The foundations of heaven tremble at his rebuke. 12By his power the sea grew calm. By his skill he crushed the great sea monster.[b] 13His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and his power pierced the gliding serpent.

14"These are some of the minor things he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who can understand the thunder of his power?"

Job 26:6 Hebrew Sheol.
Job 26:12 Hebrew Rahab, the name of a mythical sea monster that represents chaos in ancient literature.

Job's Final Speech: Job 27

Job 27

Job's Final Speech

1Job continued speaking:
2"I make this vow by the living God, who has taken away my rights, by the Almighty who has embittered my soul. 3As long as I live, while I have breath from God, 4my lips will speak no evil, and my tongue will speak no lies. 5I will never concede that you are right; until I die, I will defend my innocence. 6I will maintain my innocence without wavering. My conscience is clear for as long as I live.

7"May my enemy be punished like the wicked, my adversary like evil men. 8For what hope do the godless have when God cuts them off and takes away their life? 9Will God listen to their cry when trouble comes upon them? 10Can they take delight in the Almighty? Can they call to God at any time?

11"I will teach you about God's power. I will not conceal anything that concerns the Almighty. 12But I don't need to, for you yourselves have seen all this; yet you are saying all these useless things to me.

13"This is what the wicked will receive from God; this is their inheritance from the Almighty. 14If they have a multitude of children, their children will die in war or starve to death. 15Those who survive will be brought down to the grave by a plague, with no one to mourn them, not even their wives.

16"Evil people may have all the money in the world, and they may store away mounds of clothing. 17But the righteous will wear that clothing, and the innocent will divide all that money. 18The houses built by the wicked are as fragile as a spiderweb, as flimsy as a shelter made of branches.

19"The wicked go to bed rich but wake up to find that all their wealth is gone. 20Terror overwhelms them, and they are blown away in the storms of the night. 21The east wind carries them away, and they are gone. It sweeps them away. 22It whirls down on them without mercy. They struggle to flee from its power. 23But everyone jeers at them and mocks them.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Eliphaz Speaks, Job Responds: Job 22-23

Job 22

Eliphaz's Third Response to Job

1Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
2"Can a person's actions be of benefit to God? Can even a wise person be helpful to him? 3Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are righteous? Would it be any gain to him if you were perfect? 4Is it because of your reverence for him that he accuses and judges you? 5Not at all! It is because of your wickedness! Your guilt has no limit!

6"For example, you must have lent money to your friend and then kept the clothing he gave you as a pledge. Yes, you stripped him to the bone. 7You must have refused water for the thirsty and food for the hungry. 8After all, you think the land belongs to the powerful and that those who are privileged have a right to it! 9You must have sent widows away without helping them and crushed the strength of orphans. 10That is why you are surrounded by traps and sudden fears. 11That is why you cannot see in the darkness, and waves of water cover you.

12"God is so great--higher than the heavens, higher than the farthest stars. 13But you reply, `That's why God can't see what I am doing! How can he judge through the thick darkness? 14For thick clouds swirl about him, and he cannot see us. He is way up there, walking on the vault of heaven.'

15"Will you continue on the old paths where evil people have walked? 16They were snatched away in the prime of life, and the foundations of their lives were washed away forever. 17For they said to God, `Leave us alone! What can the Almighty do for us?' 18But they forgot that he had filled their homes with good things, so I will have nothing to do with that kind of thinking.

19"Now the righteous will be happy to see the wicked destroyed, and the innocent will laugh them to scorn. 20They will say, `Surely our enemies have been destroyed. The last of them have been consumed in the fire.'

21"Stop quarreling with God! If you agree with him, you will have peace at last, and things will go well for you. 22Listen to his instructions, and store them in your heart. 23If you return to the Almighty and clean up your life, you will be restored. 24Give up your lust for money, and throw your precious gold into the river. 25Then the Almighty himself will be your treasure. He will be your precious silver!

26"Then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and look up to God. 27You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows to him. 28Whatever you decide to do will be accomplished, and light will shine on the road ahead of you. 29If someone is brought low and you say, `Help him up,' God will save the downcast. 30Then even sinners will be rescued by your pure hands."

Job 23

Job's Eighth Speech: A Response to Eliphaz

1Then Job spoke again:
2"My complaint today is still a bitter one, and I try hard not to groan aloud. 3If only I knew where to find God, I would go to his throne and talk with him there. 4I would lay out my case and present my arguments. 5Then I would listen to his reply and understand what he says to me. 6Would he merely argue with me in his greatness? No, he would give me a fair hearing. 7Fair and honest people can reason with him, so I would be acquitted by my Judge.

8"I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. 9I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I turn to the south, but I cannot find him. 10But he knows where I am going. And when he has tested me like gold in a fire, he will pronounce me innocent.

11"For I have stayed in God's paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. 12I have not departed from his commands but have treasured his word in my heart. 13Nevertheless, his mind concerning me remains unchanged, and who can turn him from his purposes? Whatever he wants to do, he does. 14So he will do for me all he has planned. He controls my destiny. 15No wonder I am so terrified in his presence. When I think of it, terror grips me. 16God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me. 17Darkness is all around me; thick, impenetrable darkness is everywhere.

Job Asks Why the Wicked Are Not Punished: Job 24

Job 24

Job Asks Why the Wicked Are Not Punished

1"Why doesn't the Almighty open the court and bring judgment? Why must the godly wait for him in vain? 2Evil people steal land by moving the boundary markers. They steal flocks of sheep, 3and they even take donkeys from the poor and fatherless. A poor widow must surrender her valuable ox as collateral for a loan. 4The poor are kicked aside; the needy must hide together for safety. 5Like the wild donkeys in the desert, the poor must spend all their time just getting enough to keep body and soul together. They go into the desert to search for food for their children. 6They harvest a field they do not own, and they glean in the vineyards of the wicked. 7All night they lie naked in the cold, without clothing or covering. 8They are soaked by mountain showers, and they huddle against the rocks for want of a home.
9"The wicked snatch a widow's child from her breast; they take the baby as a pledge for a loan. 10The poor must go about naked, without any clothing. They are forced to carry food while they themselves are starving. 11They press out olive oil without being allowed to taste it, and they tread in the winepress as they suffer from thirst. 12The groans of the dying rise from the city, and the wounded cry for help, yet God does not respond to their moaning.

13"Wicked people rebel against the light. They refuse to acknowledge its ways. They will not stay in its paths. 14The murderer rises in the early dawn to kill the poor and needy; at night he is a thief. 15The adulterer waits for the twilight, for he says, `No one will see me then.' He masks his face so no one will know him. 16They break into houses at night and sleep in the daytime. They are not acquainted with the light. 17The black night is their morning. They ally themselves with the terrors of the darkness.

18"But they disappear from the earth as quickly as foam is swept down a river. Everything they own is cursed, so that no one enters their vineyard. 19Death consumes sinners just as drought and heat consume snow. 20Even the sinner's own mother will forget him. Worms will find him sweet to eat. No one will remember him. Wicked people are broken like a tree in the storm. 21For they have taken advantage of the childless who have no protecting sons. They refuse to help the needy widows.

22"God, in his power, drags away the rich. They may rise high, but they have no assurance in life. 23They may be allowed to live in security, but God is always watching them. 24And though they are great now, in a moment they will be gone like all others, withered like heads of grain.

25"Can anyone claim otherwise? Who can prove me wrong?"

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Bildad's Speaks, Job Responds: Job 18-19

Job 18

Bildad's Second Response to Job

1Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
2"How long before you stop talking? Speak sense if you want us to answer! 3Do you think we are cattle? Do you think we have no intelligence? 4You may tear your hair out in anger, but will that cause the earth to be abandoned? Will it make rocks fall from a cliff?

5"The truth remains that the light of the wicked will be snuffed out. The sparks of their fire will not glow. 6The light in their tent will grow dark. The lamp hanging above them will be quenched. 7The confident stride of the wicked will be shortened. Their own schemes will be their downfall.

8"The wicked walk into a net. They fall into a pit that's been dug in the path. 9A trap grabs them by the heel. A noose tightens around them. 10A snare lies hidden in the ground. A rope lies coiled on their path.

11"Terrors surround the wicked and trouble them at every step. 12Their vigor is depleted by hunger, and calamity waits for them to stumble. 13Disease eats their skin; death devours their limbs. 14They are torn from the security of their tent, and they are brought down to the king of terrors. 15The home of the wicked will disappear beneath a fiery barrage of burning sulfur. 16Their roots will dry up, and their branches will wither. 17All memory of their existence will perish from the earth. No one will remember them. 18They will be thrust from light into darkness, driven from the world. 19They will have neither children nor grandchildren, nor any survivor in their home country. 20People in the west are appalled at their fate; people in the east are horrified. 21They will say, `This was the home of a wicked person, the place of one who rejected God.' "

Job 19

Job's Sixth Speech: A Response to Bildad

1Then Job spoke again:
2"How long will you torture me? How long will you try to break me with your words? 3Ten times now you have meant to insult me. You should be ashamed of dealing with me so harshly. 4And even if I have sinned, that is my concern, not yours. 5You are trying to overcome me, using my humiliation as evidence of my sin, 6but it is God who has wronged me. I cannot defend myself, for I am like a city under siege.

7"I cry out for help, but no one hears me. I protest, but there is no justice. 8God has blocked my way and plunged my path into darkness. 9He has stripped me of my honor and removed the crown from my head. 10He has demolished me on every side, and I am finished. He has destroyed my hope. 11His fury burns against me; he counts me as an enemy. 12His troops advance. They build up roads to attack me. They camp all around my tent.

13"My relatives stay far away, and my friends have turned against me. 14My neighbors and my close friends are all gone. 15The members of my household have forgotten me. The servant girls consider me a stranger. I am like a foreigner to them. 16I call my servant, but he doesn't come; I even plead with him! 17My breath is repulsive to my wife. I am loathsome to my own family. 18Even young children despise me. When I stand to speak, they turn their backs on me. 19My close friends abhor me. Those I loved have turned against me. 20I have been reduced to skin and bones and have escaped death by the skin of my teeth.

21"Have mercy on me, my friends, have mercy, for the hand of God has struck me. 22Why must you persecute me as God does? Why aren't you satisfied with my anguish?

23"Oh, that my words could be written. Oh, that they could be inscribed on a monument, 24carved with an iron chisel and filled with lead, engraved forever in the rock.

25"But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will stand upon the earth at last. 26And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God[a]! 27I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!

28"How dare you go on persecuting me, saying, `It's his own fault'? 29I warn you, you yourselves are in danger of punishment for your attitude. Then you will know that there is judgment."

Job 19:26 Or without my body I will see God.

Zophar Speaks, Job Responds: Job 20-21

Job 20

Zophar's Second Response to Job

1Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:
2"I must reply because I am greatly disturbed. 3I have had to endure your insults, but now my spirit prompts me to reply.

4"Don't you realize that ever since people were first placed on the earth, 5the triumph of the wicked has been short-lived and the joy of the godless has been only temporary? 6Though the godless man's pride reaches to the heavens and though his head touches the clouds, 7yet he will perish forever, thrown away like his own dung. Those who knew him will ask, `Where is he?' 8He will fade like a dream and not be found. He will vanish like a vision in the night. 9Neither his friends nor his family will ever see him again. 10His children will beg from the poor, for he must give back his ill-gotten wealth. 11He was just a young man, but his bones will lie in the dust.

12"He enjoyed the taste of his wickedness, letting it melt under his tongue. 13He savored it, holding it long in his mouth. 14But suddenly, the food he has eaten turns sour within him, a poisonous venom in his stomach. 15He will vomit the wealth he swallowed. God won't let him keep it down. 16He will suck the poison of snakes. The viper will kill him. 17He will never again enjoy abundant streams of olive oil or rivers of milk and honey. 18His labors will not be rewarded. His wealth will bring him no joy. 19For he oppressed the poor and left them destitute. He foreclosed on their homes. 20He was always greedy but never satisfied. Of all the things he dreamed about, nothing remains. 21Nothing is left after he finishes gorging himself; therefore, his prosperity will not endure.

22"In the midst of plenty, he will run into trouble, and disasters will destroy him. 23May God give him a bellyful of trouble. May God rain down his anger upon him. 24He will try to escape, but God's arrow will pierce him. 25The arrow is pulled from his body, and the arrowhead glistens with blood.[a] The terrors of death are upon him.

26"His treasures will be lost in deepest darkness. A wildfire will devour his goods, consuming all he has left. 27The heavens will reveal his guilt, and the earth will give testimony against him. 28A flood will sweep away his house. God's anger will descend on him in torrents. 29This is the fate that awaits the wicked. It is the inheritance decreed by God."

Job 20:25 Hebrew with gall.

Job 21

Job's Seventh Speech: A Response to Zophar

1Then Job spoke again:
2"Listen closely to what I am saying. You can console me by listening to me. 3Bear with me, and let me speak. After I have spoken, you may mock me.

4"My complaint is with God, not with people. No wonder I'm so impatient. 5Look at me and be stunned. Put your hand over your mouth in shock. 6When I think about what I am saying, I shudder. My body trembles.

7"The truth is that the wicked live to a good old age. They grow old and wealthy. 8They live to see their children grow to maturity, and they enjoy their grandchildren. 9Their homes are safe from every fear, and God does not punish them. 10Their bulls never fail to breed. Their cows bear calves without miscarriage. 11Their children skip about like lambs in a flock of sheep. 12They sing with tambourine and harp. They make merry to the sound of the flute. 13They spend their days in prosperity; then they go down to the grave in peace. 14All this, even though they say to God, `Go away. We want no part of you and your ways. 15Who is the Almighty, and why should we obey him? What good will it do us if we pray?' 16But their prosperity is not of their own doing, so I will have nothing to do with that kind of thinking.

17"Yet the wicked get away with it time and time again. They rarely have trouble, and God skips them when he distributes sorrows in his anger. 18Are they driven before the wind like straw? Are they carried away by the storm? Not at all!

19" `Well,' you say, `at least God will punish their children!' But I say that God should punish the ones who sin, not their children! Let them feel their own penalty. 20Let their own eyes see their destruction. Let them drink deeply of the anger of the Almighty. 21For when they are dead, they will not care what happens to their family.

22"But who can teach a lesson to God, the supreme Judge? 23One person dies in prosperity and security, 24the very picture of good health. 25Another person dies in bitter poverty, never having tasted the good life. 26Both alike are buried in the same dust, both eaten by the same worms.

27"Look, I know your thoughts. I know the schemes you plot against me. 28You will tell me of rich and wicked people who came to disaster because of their sins. 29But I tell you to ask those who have been around, and they can tell you the truth. 30Evil people are spared in times of calamity and are allowed to escape. 31No one rebukes them openly. No one repays them for what they have done. 32When they are carried to the grave, an honor guard keeps watch at their tomb. 33A great funeral procession goes to the cemetery. Many pay their respects as the body is laid to rest and the earth gives sweet repose.

34"How can you comfort me? All your explanations are wrong!"

Friday, January 23, 2004

Eliphaz speaks, Job responds: Job 15-16

Job 15

Eliphaz's Second Response to Job

1Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
2"You are supposed to be a wise man, and yet you give us all this foolish talk. You are nothing but a windbag. 3It isn't right to speak so foolishly. What good do such words do? 4Have you no fear of God, no reverence for him? 5Your sins are telling your mouth what to say. Your words are based on clever deception. 6But why should I condemn you? Your own mouth does!

7"Were you the first person ever born? Were you born before the hills were made? 8Were you listening at God's secret council? Do you have a monopoly on wisdom? 9What do you know that we don't? What do you understand that we don't? 10On our side are aged, gray-haired men much older than your father!

11"Is God's comfort too little for you? Is his gentle word not enough? 12What has captured your reason? What has weakened your vision, 13that you turn against God and say all these evil things? 14Can a mortal be pure? Can a human be just? 15Why, God doesn't even trust the angels[a]! Even the heavens cannot be absolutely pure in his sight. 16How much less pure is a corrupt and sinful person with a thirst for wickedness!

17"If you will listen, I will answer you from my own experience. 18And it is confirmed by the experience of wise men who have heard the same thing from their fathers, 19those to whom the land was given long before any foreigners arrived.

20"Wicked people are in pain throughout their lives. 21They are surrounded by terrors, and even on good days they fear the attack of the destroyer. 22They dare not go out into the darkness for fear they will be murdered. 23They wander abroad for bread, saying, `Where is it?'[b] They know their ruin is certain. 24That dark day terrifies them. They live in distress and anguish, like a king preparing for an attack. 25For they have clenched their fists against God, defying the Almighty. 26Holding their strong shields, they defiantly charge against him.

27"These wicked people are fat and rich, 28but their cities will be ruined. They will live in abandoned houses that are ready to tumble down. 29They will not continue to be rich. Their wealth will not endure, and their possessions will no longer spread across the horizon.

30"They will not escape the darkness. The flame will burn them up, and the breath of God will destroy everything they have. 31Let them no longer trust in empty riches. They are only fooling themselves, for emptiness will be their only reward. 32They will be cut down in the prime of life, and all they counted on will disappear. 33They will be like a vine whose grapes are harvested before they are ripe, like an olive tree that sheds its blossoms so the fruit cannot form. 34For the godless are barren. Their homes, enriched through bribery, will be consumed by fire. 35They conceive trouble and evil, and their hearts give birth only to deceit."

Job 15:15 Hebrew the holy ones.
Job 15:23 Greek version reads He is appointed to be food for a vulture.

Job 16

Job's Fifth Speech: A Response to Eliphaz

1Then Job spoke again:
2"I have heard all this before. What miserable comforters you are! 3Won't you ever stop your flow of foolish words? What have I said that makes you speak so endlessly? 4I could say the same things if you were in my place. I could spout off my criticisms against you and shake my head at you. 5But that's not what I would do. I would speak in a way that helps you. I would try to take away your grief. 6But as it is, my grief remains no matter how I defend myself. And it does not help if I refuse to speak.

7"O God, you have ground me down and devastated my family. 8You have reduced me to skin and bones--as proof, they say, of my sins. 9God hates me and tears angrily at my flesh. He gnashes his teeth at me and pierces me with his eyes. 10People jeer and laugh at me. They slap my cheek in contempt. A mob gathers against me. 11God has handed me over to sinners. He has tossed me into the hands of the wicked.

12"I was living quietly until he broke me apart. He took me by the neck and dashed me to pieces. Then he set me up as his target. 13His archers surrounded me, and his arrows pierced me without mercy. The ground is wet with my blood.[a] 14Again and again he smashed me, charging at me like a warrior. 15Here I sit in sackcloth. I have surrendered, and I sit in the dust. 16My eyes are red with weeping; darkness covers my eyes. 17Yet I am innocent, and my prayer is pure.

18"O earth, do not conceal my blood. Let it cry out on my behalf. 19Even now my witness is in heaven. My advocate is there on high. 20My friends scorn me, but I pour out my tears to God. 21Oh, that someone would mediate between God and me, as a person mediates between friends. 22For soon I must go down that road from which I will never return.

Job 16:13 Hebrew my gall.

Job Continues to Defend His Innocence: Job 17

Job 17

Job Continues to Defend His Innocence

1"My spirit is crushed, and I am near death. The grave is ready to receive me. 2I am surrounded by mockers. I watch how bitterly they taunt me.
3"You must defend my innocence, O God, since no one else will stand up for me. 4You have closed their minds to understanding, but do not let them triumph. 5They denounce their companions for their own advantage, so let their children faint with hunger.

6"God has made a mockery of me among the people; they spit in my face. 7My eyes are dim with weeping, and I am but a shadow of my former self. 8The upright are astonished when they see me. The innocent are aroused against the ungodly. 9The righteous will move onward and forward, and those with pure hearts will become stronger and stronger.

10"As for all of you, come back and try again! But I will not find a wise man among you. 11My days are over. My hopes have disappeared. My heart's desires are broken. 12They say that night is day and day is night; how they pervert the truth! 13I might go to the grave and make my bed in darkness. 14And I might call the grave my father, and the worm my mother and my sister. 15But where then is my hope? Can anyone find it? 16No, my hope will go down with me to the grave. We will rest together in the dust!"

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Zophar Speaks, Job Responds: Job 11-12

Job 11

Zophar's First Response to Job

1Then Zophar the Naamathite replied to Job:
2"Shouldn't someone answer this torrent of words? Is a person proved innocent just by talking a lot? 3Should I remain silent while you babble on? When you mock God, shouldn't someone make you ashamed? 4You claim, `My teaching is pure,' and `I am clean in the sight of God.' 5If only God would speak; if only he would tell you what he thinks! 6If only he would tell you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom is not a simple matter. Listen! God is doubtless punishing you far less than you deserve!

7"Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything there is to know about the Almighty? 8Such knowledge is higher than the heavens--but who are you? It is deeper than the underworld[a]--what can you know in comparison to him? 9It is broader than the earth and wider than the sea. 10If God comes along and puts a person in prison, or if he calls the court to order, who is going to stop him? 11For he knows those who are false, and he takes note of all their sins. 12An empty-headed person won't become wise any more than a wild donkey can bear human offspring[b]!

13"If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! 14Get rid of your sins and leave all iniquity behind you. 15Then your face will brighten in innocence. You will be strong and free of fear. 16You will forget your misery. It will all be gone like water under the bridge. 17Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Any darkness will be as bright as morning. 18You will have courage because you will have hope. You will be protected and will rest in safety. 19You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help. 20But the wicked will lose hope. They have no escape. Their hope becomes despair."

Job 11:8 Hebrew Sheol.
Job 11:12 Or bear a tame colt.

Job 12

Jobs Fourth Speech: A Response to Zophar

1Then Job spoke again:
2"You really know everything, don't you? And when you die, wisdom will die with you! 3Well, I know a few things myself--and you're no better than I am. Who doesn't know these things you've been saying? 4Yet my friends laugh at me. I am a man who calls on God and receives an answer. I am a just and blameless man, yet they laugh at me. 5People who are at ease mock those in trouble. They give a push to people who are stumbling. 6But even robbers are left in peace, and those who provoke God--and God has them in his power--live in safety!

7"Ask the animals, and they will teach you. Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you. 8Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you. Let the fish of the sea speak to you. 9They all know that the LORD has done this. 10For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of all humanity. 11Just as the mouth tastes good food, so the ear tests the words it hears. 12Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to those who have lived many years.

13"But true wisdom and power are with God; counsel and understanding are his. 14What he destroys cannot be rebuilt. When he closes in on someone, there is no escape. 15If he holds back the rain, the earth becomes a desert. If he releases the waters, they flood the earth.

16"Yes, strength and wisdom are with him; deceivers and deceived are both in his power. 17He leads counselors away stripped of good judgment; he drives judges to madness. 18He removes the royal robe of kings. With ropes around their waist, they are led away. 19He leads priests away stripped of status; he overthrows the mighty. 20He silences the trusted adviser, and he removes the insight of the elders. 21He pours disgrace upon princes and confiscates weapons from the strong.

22"He floods the darkness with light; he brings light to the deepest gloom. 23He raises up nations, and he destroys them. He makes nations expand, and he abandons them. 24He takes away the understanding of kings, and he leaves them wandering in a wasteland without a path. 25They grope in the darkness without a light. He makes them stagger like drunkards.

Job Wants to Argue His Case with God: Job 13-14

Job 13

Job Wants to Argue His Case with God

1"Look, I have seen many instances such as you describe. I understand what you are saying. 2I know as much as you do. You are no better than I am. 3Oh, how I long to speak directly to the Almighty. I want to argue my case with God himself. 4For you are smearing me with lies. As doctors, you are worthless quacks. 5Please be quiet! That's the smartest thing you could do. 6Listen to my charge; pay attention to my arguments.
7"Are you defending God by means of lies and dishonest arguments? 8You should be impartial witnesses, but will you slant your testimony in his favor? Will you argue God's case for him? 9Be careful that he doesn't find out what you are doing! Or do you think you can fool him as easily as you fool people? 10No, you will be in serious trouble with him if even in your hearts you slant your testimony in his favor. 11Doesn't his majesty strike terror into your heart? Does not your fear of him seize you? 12Your statements have about as much value as ashes. Your defense is as fragile as a clay pot.

13"Be silent now and leave me alone. Let me speak--and I will face the consequences. 14Yes, I will take my life in my hands and say what I really think. 15God might kill me, but I cannot wait. I am going to argue my case with him. 16But this is what will save me: that I am not godless. If I were, I would be thrown from his presence.

17"Listen closely to what I am about to say. Hear me out. 18I have prepared my case; I will be proved innocent. 19Who can argue with me over this? If you could prove me wrong, I would remain silent until I die.

Job Asks How He Has Sinned

20"O God, there are two things I beg of you, and I will be able to face you. 21Remove your hand from me, and don't terrify me with your awesome presence. 22Now summon me, and I will answer! Or let me speak to you, and you reply. 23Tell me, what have I done wrong? Show me my rebellion and my sin. 24Why do you turn away from me? Why do you consider me your enemy? 25Would you terrify a leaf that is blown by the wind? Would you chase a dry stalk of grass?
26"You write bitter accusations against me and bring up all the sins of my youth. 27You put my feet in stocks. You watch all my paths. You trace all my footprints. 28I waste away like rotting wood, like a moth-eaten coat.

Job 14

1 "How frail is humanity! How short is life, and how full of trouble! 2Like a flower, we blossom for a moment and then wither. Like the shadow of a passing cloud, we quickly disappear. 3Must you keep an eye on such a frail creature and demand an accounting from me? 4Who can create purity in one born impure? No one! 5You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer. 6So give us a little rest, won't you? Turn away your angry stare. We are like hired hands, so let us finish the task you have given us.
7"If a tree is cut down, there is hope that it will sprout again and grow new branches. 8Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays, 9at the scent of water it may bud and sprout again like a new seedling.

10"But when people die, they lose all strength. They breathe their last, and then where are they? 11As water evaporates from a lake and as a river disappears in drought, 12people lie down and do not rise again. Until the heavens are no more, they will not wake up nor be roused from their sleep.

13"I wish you would hide me with the dead and forget me there until your anger has passed. But mark your calendar to think of me again! 14If mortals die, can they live again? This thought would give me hope, and through my struggle I would eagerly wait for release. 15You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork. 16For then you would count my steps, instead of watching for my sins. 17My sins would be sealed in a pouch, and you would cover over my iniquity.

18"But as mountains fall and crumble and as rocks fall from a cliff, 19as water wears away the stones and floods wash away the soil, so you destroy people's hope. 20You always overpower them, and then they pass from the scene. You disfigure them in death and send them away. 21They never know if their sons grow up in honor or sink to insignificance. 22They are absorbed in their own pain and grief."

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Job's Third Speech - Response to Bildad: Job 8-9

Job 8

Bildad's First Response to Job

1Then Bildad the Shuhite replied to Job:
2"How long will you go on like this? Your words are a blustering wind. 3Does God twist justice? Does the Almighty twist what is right? 4Your children obviously sinned against him, so their punishment was well deserved. 5But if you pray to God and seek the favor of the Almighty, 6if you are pure and live with complete integrity, he will rise up and restore your happy home. 7And though you started with little, you will end with much.

8"Just ask the former generation. Pay attention to the experience of our ancestors. 9For we were born but yesterday and know so little. Our days on earth are as transient as a shadow. 10But those who came before us will teach you. They will teach you from the wisdom of former generations.

11"Can papyrus reeds grow where there is no marsh? Can bulrushes flourish where there is no water? 12While they are still flowering, not ready to be cut, they begin to wither. 13Such is the fate of all who forget God. The hope of the godless comes to nothing. 14Everything they count on will collapse. They are leaning on a spiderweb. 15They cling to their home for security, but it won't last. They try to hold it fast, but it will not endure. 16The godless seem so strong, like a lush plant growing in the sunshine, its branches spreading across the garden. 17Its roots grow down through a pile of rocks to hold it firm. 18But when it is uprooted, it isn't even missed! 19That is the end of its life, and others spring up from the earth to replace it.

20"But look! God will not reject a person of integrity, nor will he make evildoers prosper. 21He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. 22Those who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked will be destroyed."

Job 9

Job's Third Speech: A Response to Bildad

1Then Job spoke again:
2"Yes, I know this is all true in principle. But how can a person be declared innocent in the eyes of God? 3If someone wanted to take God to court,[a] would it be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times? 4For God is so wise and so mighty. Who has ever challenged him successfully?

5"Without warning, he moves the mountains, overturning them in his anger. 6He shakes the earth from its place, and its foundations tremble. 7If he commands it, the sun won't rise and the stars won't shine. 8He alone has spread out the heavens and marches on the waves of the sea. 9He made all the stars--the Bear, Orion, the Pleiades, and the constellations of the southern sky. 10His great works are too marvelous to understand. He performs miracles without number.

11"Yet when he comes near, I cannot see him. When he moves on, I do not see him go. 12If he sends death to snatch someone away, who can stop him? Who dares to ask him, `What are you doing?' 13And God does not restrain his anger. The mightiest forces against him[b] are crushed beneath his feet.

14"And who am I, that I should try to answer God or even reason with him? 15Even if I were innocent, I would have no defense. I could only plead for mercy. 16And even if I summoned him and he responded, he would never listen to me. 17For he attacks me without reason,[c] and he multiplies my wounds without cause. 18He will not let me catch my breath, but fills me instead with bitter sorrows. 19As for strength, he has it. As for justice, who can challenge him? 20Though I am innocent, my own mouth would pronounce me guilty. Though I am blameless, it[d] would prove me wicked.

21"I am innocent, but it makes no difference to me--I despise my life. 22Innocent or wicked, it is all the same to him. That is why I say, `He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.' 23He laughs when a plague suddenly kills the innocent. 24The whole earth is in the hands of the wicked, and God blinds the eyes of the judges and lets them be unfair. If not he, then who?

25"My life passes more swiftly than a runner. It flees away, filled with tragedy. 26It disappears like a swift boat, like an eagle that swoops down on its prey. 27If I decided to forget my complaints, if I decided to end my sadness and be cheerful, 28I would dread all the pain he would send. For I know you will not hold me innocent, O God. 29Whatever happens, I will be found guilty. So what's the use of trying? 30Even if I were to wash myself with soap and cleanse my hands with lye to make them absolutely clean, 31you would plunge me into a muddy ditch, and I would be so filthy my own clothing would hate me.

32"God is not a mortal like me, so I cannot argue with him or take him to trial. 33If only there were a mediator who could bring us together, but there is none. 34The mediator could make God stop beating me, and I would no longer live in terror of his punishment. 35Then I could speak to him without fear, but I cannot do that in my own strength.

Job 9:3 Or If God wanted to take a person to court.
Job 9:13 Hebrew The helpers of Rahab, the name of a mythical sea monster that represents chaos in ancient literature.
Job 9:17 As in Syriac version; Hebrew reads with a storm.
Job 9:20 Or he.

Job Frames His Plea to God: Job 10

Job 10

Job Frames His Plea to God

1"I am disgusted with my life. Let me complain freely. I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. 2I will say to God, `Don't simply condemn me--tell me the charge you are bringing against me. 3What do you gain by oppressing me? Why do you reject me, the work of your own hands, while sending joy and prosperity to the wicked? 4Are your eyes only those of a human? Do you see things as people see them? 5Is your lifetime merely human? Is your life so short 6that you are in a hurry to probe for my guilt, to search for my sin? 7Although you know I am not guilty, no one can rescue me from your power.
8" `You formed me with your hands; you made me, and yet you completely destroy me. 9Remember that I am made of dust--will you turn me back to dust so soon? 10You guided my conception and formed me in the womb.[a] 11You clothed me with skin and flesh, and you knit my bones and sinews together. 12You gave me life and showed me your unfailing love. My life was preserved by your care.

13" `Yet your real motive--I know this was your intent-- 14was to watch me, and if I sinned, you would not forgive my iniquity. 15If I am guilty, too bad for me. And even if I'm innocent, I am filled with shame and misery so that I can't hold my head high. 16And if I hold my head high, you hunt me like a lion and display your awesome power against me. 17Again and again you witness against me. You pour out an ever-increasing volume of anger upon me and bring fresh armies against me.

18" `Why, then, did you bring me out of my mother's womb? Why didn't you let me die at birth? 19Then I would have been spared this miserable existence. I would have gone directly from the womb to the grave. 20I have only a little time left, so leave me alone--that I may have a little moment of comfort 21before I leave for the land of darkness and utter gloom, never to return. 22It is a land as dark as midnight, a land of utter gloom where confusion reigns and the light is as dark as midnight.' "

Job 10:10 Hebrew You poured me out like milk and curdled me like cheese.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Job speaks, Eliphaz responds: Job 3-5

Job 3

Job's First Speech

1At last Job spoke, and he cursed the day of his birth. 2He said:
3"Cursed be the day of my birth, and cursed be the night when I was conceived. 4Let that day be turned to darkness. Let it be lost even to God on high, and let it be shrouded in darkness. 5Yes, let the darkness and utter gloom claim it for its own. Let a black cloud overshadow it, and let the darkness terrify it. 6Let that night be blotted off the calendar, never again to be counted among the days of the year, never again to appear among the months. 7Let that night be barren. Let it have no joy. 8Let those who are experts at cursing--those who are ready to rouse the sea monster[a]--curse that day. 9Let its morning stars remain dark. Let it hope for light, but in vain; may it never see the morning light. 10Curse it for its failure to shut my mother's womb, for letting me be born to all this trouble.

11"Why didn't I die at birth as I came from the womb? 12Why did my mother let me live? Why did she nurse me at her breasts? 13For if I had died at birth, I would be at peace now, asleep and at rest. 14I would rest with the world's kings and prime ministers, famous for their great construction projects. 15I would rest with wealthy princes whose palaces were filled with gold and silver. 16Why was I not buried like a stillborn child, like a baby who never lives to see the light? 17For in death the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest. 18Even prisoners are at ease in death, with no guards to curse them. 19Rich and poor are there alike, and the slave is free from his master.

20"Oh, why should light be given to the weary, and life to those in misery? 21They long for death, and it won't come. They search for death more eagerly than for hidden treasure. 22It is a blessed relief when they finally die, when they find the grave. 23Why is life given to those with no future, those destined by God to live in distress? 24I cannot eat for sighing; my groans pour out like water. 25What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come to be. 26I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest; instead, only trouble comes."

Job 3:8 Hebrew rouse Leviathan.

Job 4

Eliphaz's First Response to Job

1Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied to Job:
2"Will you be patient and let me say a word? For who could keep from speaking out?

3"In the past you have encouraged many a troubled soul to trust in God; you have supported those who were weak. 4Your words have strengthened the fallen; you steadied those who wavered. 5But now when trouble strikes, you faint and are broken. 6Does your reverence for God give you no confidence? Shouldn't you believe that God will care for those who are upright?

7"Stop and think! Does the innocent person perish? When has the upright person been destroyed? 8My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same. 9They perish by a breath from God. They vanish in a blast of his anger. 10Though they are fierce young lions, they will all be broken and destroyed. 11The fierce lion will starve, and the cubs of the lioness will be scattered.

12"This truth was given me in secret, as though whispered in my ear. 13It came in a vision at night as others slept. 14Fear gripped me; I trembled and shook with terror. 15A spirit[a] swept past my face. Its wind sent shivers up my spine. 16It stopped, but I couldn't see its shape. There was a form before my eyes, and a hushed voice said, 17`Can a mortal be just and upright before God? Can a person be pure before the Creator?'

18"If God cannot trust his own angels and has charged some of them with folly, 19how much less will he trust those made of clay! Their foundation is dust, and they are crushed as easily as moths. 20They are alive in the morning, but by evening they are dead, gone forever without a trace. 21Their tent collapses; they die in ignorance.

Job 4:15 Or wind.

Job 5

Eliphaz's Response Continues

1"You may cry for help, but no one listens. You may turn to the angels,[a] but they give you no help. 2Surely resentment destroys the fool, and jealousy kills the simple. 3From my experience, I know that fools who turn from God may be successful for the moment, but then comes sudden disaster. 4Their children are abandoned far from help, with no one to defend them. 5Their harvests are stolen, and their wealth satisfies the thirst of many others, not themselves! 6But evil does not spring from the soil, and trouble does not sprout from the earth. 7People are born for trouble as predictably as sparks fly upward from a fire.
8"My advice to you is this: Go to God and present your case to him. 9For he does great works too marvelous to understand. He performs miracles without number. 10He gives rain for the earth. He sends water for the fields. 11He gives prosperity to the poor and humble, and he takes sufferers to safety. 12He frustrates the plans of the crafty, so their efforts will not succeed. 13He catches those who think they are wise in their own cleverness, so that their cunning schemes are thwarted. 14They grope in the daylight as though they were blind; they see no better in the daytime than at night. 15He rescues the poor from the cutting words of the strong. He saves them from the clutches of the powerful. 16And so at last the poor have hope, and the fangs of the wicked are broken.

17"But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the chastening of the Almighty when you sin. 18For though he wounds, he also bandages. He strikes, but his hands also heal. 19He will rescue you again and again so that no evil can touch you. 20He will save you from death in time of famine, from the power of the sword in time of war. 21You will be safe from slander and will have no fear of destruction when it comes. 22You will laugh at destruction and famine; wild animals will not terrify you. 23You will be at peace with the stones of the field, and its wild animals will be at peace with you. 24You will know that your home is kept safe. When you visit your pastures, nothing will be missing. 25Your children will be many; your descendants will be as plentiful as grass! 26You will live to a good old age. You will not be harvested until the proper time!

27"We have found from experience that all this is true. Listen to my counsel, and apply it to yourself."

Job 5:1 Hebrew the holy ones.

Job responds to Eliphaz; Cries out to God: Job 6-7

Job 6

Job's Second Speech: A Response to Eliphaz

1Then Job spoke again:
2"If my sadness could be weighed and my troubles be put on the scales, 3they would be heavier than all the sands of the sea. That is why I spoke so rashly. 4For the Almighty has struck me down with his arrows. He has sent his poisoned arrows deep within my spirit. All God's terrors are arrayed against me. 5Don't I have a right to complain? Wild donkeys bray when they find no green grass, and oxen low when they have no food. 6People complain when there is no salt in their food. And how tasteless is the uncooked white of an egg! 7My appetite disappears when I look at it; I gag at the thought of eating it!

8"Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant my hope. 9I wish he would crush me. I wish he would reach out his hand and kill me. 10At least I can take comfort in this: Despite the pain, I have not denied the words of the Holy One. 11But I do not have the strength to endure. I do not have a goal that encourages me to carry on. 12Do I have strength as hard as stone? Is my body made of bronze? 13No, I am utterly helpless, without any chance of success.

14"One should be kind to a fainting friend, but you have accused me without the slightest fear of the Almighty. 15My brother, you have proved as unreliable as a seasonal brook that overflows its banks in the spring 16when it is swollen with ice and melting snow. 17But when the hot weather arrives, the water disappears. The brook vanishes in the heat. 18The caravans turn aside to be refreshed, but there is nothing there to drink, and so they perish in the desert. 19With high hopes, the caravans from Tema and from Sheba stop for water, 20but finding none, their hopes are dashed. 21You, too, have proved to be of no help. You have seen my calamity, and you are afraid. 22But why? Have I ever asked you for a gift? Have I begged you to use any of your wealth on my behalf? 23Have I ever asked you to rescue me from my enemies? Have I asked you to save me from ruthless people?

24"All I want is a reasonable answer--then I will keep quiet. Tell me, what have I done wrong? 25Honest words are painful, but what do your criticisms amount to? 26Do you think your words are convincing when you disregard my cry of desperation? 27You would even send an orphan into slavery[a] or sell a friend. 28Look at me! Would I lie to your face? 29Stop assuming my guilt, for I am righteous. Don't be so unjust. 30Do you think I am lying? Don't I know the difference between right and wrong?

Job 6:27 Hebrew even gamble over an orphan.

Job 7

1 "Is this not the struggle of all humanity? A person's life is long and hard, like that of a hired hand, 2like a worker who longs for the day to end, like a servant waiting to be paid. 3I, too, have been assigned months of futility, long and weary nights of misery. 4When I go to bed, I think, `When will it be morning?' But the night drags on, and I toss till dawn. 5My skin is filled with worms and scabs. My flesh breaks open, full of pus.

Job Cries Out to God

6"My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle flying back and forth. They end without hope. 7O God, remember that my life is but a breath, and I will never again experience pleasure. 8You see me now, but not for long. Your eyes will be on me, but I will be dead. 9Just as a cloud dissipates and vanishes, those who die will not come back. 10They are gone forever from their home--never to be seen again.
11"I cannot keep from speaking. I must express my anguish. I must complain in my bitterness. 12Am I a sea monster that you place a guard on me? 13If I think, `My bed will comfort me, and I will try to forget my misery with sleep,' 14you shatter me with dreams. You terrify me with visions. 15I would rather die of strangulation than go on and on like this. 16I hate my life. I do not want to go on living. Oh, leave me alone for these few remaining days.

17"What are mere mortals, that you should make so much of us? 18For you examine us every morning and test us every moment. 19Why won't you leave me alone--even for a moment[a]? 20Have I sinned? What have I done to you, O watcher of all humanity? Why have you made me your target? Am I a burden to you? 21Why not just pardon my sin and take away my guilt? For soon I will lie down in the dust and die. When you look for me, I will be gone."

Job 7:19 Hebrew long enough to swallow my spittle.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Job is Tested: Job 1-2

Job 1


1There was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless, a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. 2He had seven sons and three daughters. 3He owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred teams of oxen, and five hundred female donkeys, and he employed many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area.
4Every year when Job's sons had birthdays, they invited their brothers and sisters to join them for a celebration. On these occasions they would get together to eat and drink. 5When these celebrations ended--and sometimes they lasted several days--Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, "Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts." This was Job's regular practice.

Job's First Test

6One day the angels[a] came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan the Accuser came with them. 7"Where have you come from?" the LORD asked Satan.
And Satan answered the LORD, "I have been going back and forth across the earth, watching everything that's going on."

8Then the LORD asked Satan, "Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth--a man of complete integrity. He fears God and will have nothing to do with evil."

9Satan replied to the LORD, "Yes, Job fears God, but not without good reason! 10You have always protected him and his home and his property from harm. You have made him prosperous in everything he does. Look how rich he is! 11But take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!"

12"All right, you may test him," the LORD said to Satan. "Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don't harm him physically." So Satan left the LORD's presence.

13One day when Job's sons and daughters were dining at the oldest brother's house, 14a messenger arrived at Job's home with this news: "Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, 15when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you."

16While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: "The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you."

17While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: "Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you."

18While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: "Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother's home. 19Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the desert and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you."

20Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground before God. 21He said,

"I came naked from my mother's womb,
and I will be stripped of everything when I die. The LORD gave me everything I had,
and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!"

22In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.

Job 1:6 Hebrew the sons of God.

Job 2

Job's Second Test

1One day the angels[a] came again to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan the Accuser came with them. 2"Where have you come from?" the LORD asked Satan.
And Satan answered the LORD, "I have been going back and forth across the earth, watching everything that's going on."

3Then the LORD asked Satan, "Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth--a man of complete integrity. He fears God and will have nothing to do with evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you persuaded me to harm him without cause."

4Satan replied to the LORD, "Skin for skin--he blesses you only because you bless him. A man will give up everything he has to save his life. 5But take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!"

6"All right, do with him as you please," the LORD said to Satan. "But spare his life." 7So Satan left the LORD's presence, and he struck Job with a terrible case of boils from head to foot.

8Then Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes. 9His wife said to him, "Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die."

10But Job replied, "You talk like a godless woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?" So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.

Job's Three Friends Share His Anguish

11Three of Job's friends were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. When they heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. 12When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to demonstrate their grief. 13Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. And no one said a word, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.

Job 2:1 Hebrew the sons of God.