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JPS 1:21 He said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the LORD has given, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
2:9-10a His wife said to him, “You still keep your integrity! Blaspheme God and die!” But he said to her, “You talk as any shameless woman might talk! Should we accept only good from God and not accept evil?”



Note (Hal’s):
A footnote to the JPS translation warns, “There are many difficulties in the poetry of Job, making the interpretation of words, verses, and even chapters uncertain.”

Throughout this poetic debate, I name speakers to establish context: Job; one of his friends (Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite); Elihu son of Barachel the Buzite; or the LORD himself.

— end note

JPS Job3:20-23

Why does He give light to the sufferer

And life to the bitter in spirit;

To those who wait for death but it does not come,

Who search for it more than for treasure,

Who rejoice to exultation,

And are glad to reach the grave;

To the man who has lost his way,

Whom God has hedged about?


“Can mortals be acquitted by God?

Can man be cleared by his Maker?

If He cannot trust His own servants,

And casts reproach on His angels,

How much less those who dwell in houses of clay,

Whose origin is dust,

Who are crushed like the moth,

Shattered between daybreak and evening,

Perishing forever, unnoticed.

Their cord is pulled up

And they die, and not with wisdom.”


Evil does not grow out of the soil,

Nor does mischief spring from the ground;

For man is born to [do] mischief,

Just as sparks fly upward.


See how happy is the man whom God reproves;

Do not reject the discipline of the Almighty.

He injures, but He binds up;

He wounds, but His hands heal.


A friend owes loyalty to one who fails,

Though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty;

My comrades are fickle, like a wadi,

Like a bed on which streams once ran.

They are dark with ice;

Snow obscures them;

But when they thaw, they vanish;

In the heat, they disappear where they are.

Their course twists and turns;

They run into the desert and perish.


Do you devise words of reproof

But count a hopeless man’s words as wind?

You would even cast lots over an orphan,

Or barter away your friend.


But if you seek God

And supplicate the Almighty,

If you are blameless and upright,

He will protect you,

And grant well-being to your righteous home.

Though your beginning be small,

In the end you will grow very great.


Indeed I know that it is so:

Man cannot win a suit against God.

If he insisted on a trial with Him,

He would not answer one charge in a thousand.


If a trial of strength—He is the strong one;

If a trial in court—who will summon Him for me?

Though I were innocent,

My mouth would condemn me;

Though I were blameless, He would prove me crooked.

I am blameless—I am distraught;

I am sick of life.

It is all one, therefore I say,

“He destroys the blameless and the guilty.”

When suddenly a scourge brings death,

He mocks as the innocent fail.

The earth is handed over to the wicked one;

He covers the eyes of its judges.

If it is not He, then who?


Is a multitude of words unanswerable?

Must a loquacious person be right?




Would you discover the mystery of God?

Would you discover the limit of the Almighty?

Higher than heaven—what can you do?

Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?

Its measure is longer than the earth

And broader than the sea.

Should He pass by, or confine,

Or call an assembly, who can stop Him?

For He knows deceitful men;

When He sees iniquity, does He not discern it?

A hollow man will get understanding,

When a wild ass is born a man.


In the thought of the complacent there is contempt for calamity;

It is ready for those whose foot slips.

Robbers live untroubled in their tents,

And those who provoke God are secure,

Those whom God’s hands have produced.

But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;

The birds of the sky, they will tell you,

Or speak to the earth, it will teach you;

the fish of the sea, they will inform you.

Who among all these does not know

That the hand of the LORD has done this?

In His hand is every living soul

And the breath of all mankind.




Will you speak unjustly on God’s behalf?

Will you speak deceitfully for Him?

Will you be partial toward Him?

Will you plead God’s cause?

Will it go well when He examines you?

Will you fool Him as one fools men?

He will surely reprove you

If in your heart you are partial toward Him.


Man born of woman is short-lived and sated with trouble.

He blossoms like a flower and withers;

He vanishes like a shadow and does not endure.

Do You fix Your gaze on such a one?

Will You go to law with me?

Who can produce a clean thing out of an unclean one? No one!

His days are determined;

You know the number of his months;

You have set him limits that he cannot pass.

Turn away from him, that he may be at ease

Until, like a hireling, he finishes out his day.

There is hope for a tree;

If it is cut down it will renew itself;

Its shoots will not cease.

If its roots are old in the earth,

And its stump dies in the ground,

At the scent of water it will bud

And produce branches like a sapling.

But mortals languish and die;

Man expires; where is he?




How seldom does the lamp of the wicked fail,

Does the calamity they deserve befall them,

Does He apportion [their] lot in anger!

Let them become like straw in the wind,

Like chaff carried off by a storm.

[You say,] “God is reserving his punishment for his sons”;

Let it be paid back to him that he may feel it,

Let his eyes see his ruin,

And let him drink the wrath of Shaddai!

For what does he care about the fate of his family,

When his number of months runs out?


But where can wisdom be found;

Where is the source of understanding?

No man can set a value on it;

It cannot be found in the land of the living.

The deep says, “It is not in me”;

The sea says, “I do not have it.”

It cannot be bartered for gold;

Silver cannot be paid out as its price.


But whence does wisdom come?

Where is the source of understanding?

It is hidden from the eyes of all living,

Concealed from the fowl of heaven.

Abaddon and Death say,

“We have only a report of it.”

God understands the way to it;

He knows its source;

For He sees to the ends of the earth,

Observes all that is beneath the heavens.


He said to man,

“See! Fear of the LORD is wisdom;

To shun evil is understanding.”


I clothed myself in righteousness and it robed me;

Justice was my cloak and turban.

I was eyes to the blind

And feet to the lame,

I was a father to the needy,

And I looked into the case of the stranger.

I broke the jaws of the wrongdoer,

And I wrested prey from his teeth.


Behold the heavens and see;

Look at the skies high above you.

If you sin, what do you do to Him?

If your transgressions are many,

How do you affect Him?

If you are righteous,

What do you give Him;

What does He receive from your hand?

Your wickedness affects men like yourself;

Your righteousness, mortals.


Shaddai—we cannot attain to Him;

He is great in power and justice

And abundant in righteousness; He does not torment.

Therefore, men are in awe of Him

Whom none of the wise can perceive.

the LORD38:4-7

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations?

Speak if you have understanding.

Do you know who fixed its dimensions

Or who measured it with a line?

Onto what were its bases sunk?

Who set its cornerstone

When the morning stars sang together

And all the divine beings shouted for joy?



text checked (see note) Sep 2009

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