Job 21-23 English Standard Version

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Job Asserts the Prosperity of the Wicked

21 Then Job answered and said: 2  "Keep listening to my words, and let this be your comfort. 3  Bear with me, and I will speak, and after I have spoken, mock on. 4  As for me, is my complaint against man? Why should I not be impatient? 5  Look at me and be appalled, and lay your hand over your mouth. 6  When I remember, I am dismayed, and shuddering seizes my flesh.

7  Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power? 8  Their offspring are established in their presence, and their descendants before their eyes. 9  Their houses are safe from fear, and no rod of God is upon them. 10  Their bull breeds without fail; their cow calves and does not miscarry. 11  They send out their little boys like a flock, and their children dance. 12  They sing to the tambourine and the lyre and rejoice to the sound of the pipe. 13  They spend their days in prosperity, and in peace they go down to Sheol. 14  They say to God, 'Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of your ways. 15  What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?' 16  Behold, is not their prosperity in their hand? The counsel of the wicked is far from me.

17  "How often is it that the lamp of the wicked is put out? That their calamity comes upon them? That God[1] distributes pains in his anger? 18  That they are like straw before the wind, and like chaff that the storm carries away? 19  You say, 'God stores up their iniquity for their children.' Let him pay it out to them, that they may know it. 20  Let their own eyes see their destruction, and let them drink of the wrath of the Almighty. 21  For what do they care for their houses after them, when the number of their months is cut off? 22  Will any teach God knowledge, seeing that he judges those who are on high? 23  One dies in his full vigor, being wholly at ease and secure, 24  his pails[2] full of milk and the marrow of his bones moist. 25  Another dies in bitterness of soul, never having tasted of prosperity. 26  They lie down alike in the dust, and the worms cover them.

27  "Behold, I know your thoughts and your schemes to wrong me. 28  For you say, 'Where is the house of the prince? Where is the tent in which the wicked lived?' 29  Have you not asked those who travel the roads, and do you not accept their testimony 30  that the evil man is spared in the day of calamity, that he is rescued in the day of wrath? 31  Who declares his way to his face, and who repays him for what he has done? 32  When he is carried to the grave, watch is kept over his tomb. 33  The clods of the valley are sweet to him; all mankind follows after him, and those who go before him are innumerable. 34  How then will you comfort me with empty nothings? There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood."

Eliphaz Accuses Job of Great Wickedness

22 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said: 2  "Can a man be profitable to God? Surely he who is wise is profitable to himself. 3  Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are in the right, or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless? 4  Is it for your fear of him that he reproves you and enters into judgment with you?

5  Is not your evil abundant? There is no end to your iniquities. 6  For you have exacted pledges of your brothers for nothing and stripped the naked of their clothing. 7  You have given no water to the weary to drink, and you have withheld bread from the hungry. 8  The man with power possessed the land, and the favored man lived in it. 9  You have sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless were crushed. 10  Therefore snares are all around you, and sudden terror overwhelms you, 11  or darkness, so that you cannot see, and a flood of water covers you. 12  "Is not God high in the heavens? See the highest stars, how lofty they are! 13  But you say, 'What does God know? Can he judge through the deep darkness? 14  Thick clouds veil him, so that he does not see, and he walks on the vault of heaven.'

15  Will you keep to the old way that wicked men have trod? 16  They were snatched away before their time; their foundation was washed away. 17  They said to God, 'Depart from us,' and 'What can the Almighty do to us?'[3] 18  Yet he filled their houses with good things-- but the counsel of the wicked is far from me. 19  The righteous see it and are glad; the innocent one mocks at them, 20  saying, 'Surely our adversaries are cut off, and what they left the fire has consumed.'

21  "Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. 22  Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart. 23  If you return to the Almighty you will be built up; if you remove injustice far from your tents, 24  if you lay gold in the dust, and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent-bed, 25  then the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver. 26  For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God. 27  You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you, and you will pay your vows. 28  You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways. 29  For when they are humbled you say, 'It is because of pride';[4] but he saves the lowly. 30  He delivers even the one who is not innocent,[5] who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands."

Job Desires to Plead His Case before God

23 Then Job answered and said: 2  "Today also my complaint is bitter;[6] my hand is heavy on account of my groaning. 3  Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! 4  I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. 5  I would know what he would answer me and understand what he would say to me. 6  Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; he would pay attention to me. 7  There an upright man could argue with him, and I would be acquitted forever by my judge.

8  "Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; 9  on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. 10  But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. 11  My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. 12  I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.

13  But he is unchangeable,[7] and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does. 14  For he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind. 15  Therefore I am terrified at his presence; when I consider, I am in dread of him. 16  God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; 17  yet I am not silenced because of the darkness, nor because thick darkness covers my face.

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Footnotes

[1] 21:17 Hebrew he

[2] 21:24 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain

[3] 22:17 Hebrew them

[4] 22:29 Or you say, 'It is exaltation'

[5] 22:30 Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate; Hebrew him that is not innocent

[6] 23:2 Or defiant

[7] 23:13 Or one

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