The Sceptics of the Old Testament: Job - Koheleth - Agur
Emile Joseph Dillon
Part 3 out of 4
7 _And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan
answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth and from
walking up and down in it._
8 _And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job,
that_ there is _none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright
man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?_
9 _Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for
10 _Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and
about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his
hands, and his substance is increased in the land._
11 _But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he
will curse thee to thy face._
12 _And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath_ is _in
thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went
forth from the presence of the Lord._
13 _And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating
and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:_
14 _And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were
plowing, and the asses were feeding beside them:_
15 _And the Sabeans fell_ upon them_, and took them away; yea,
they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am
escaped alone to tell thee._
16 _While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The
fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the
servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell
17 _While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The
Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have
carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the
sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee._
18 _While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy
sons and thy daughters_ were _eating and drinking wine in their
eldest brother's house:
19 _And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote
the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they
are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee._
20 _Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell
down upon the ground and worshipped,_
21 _And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I
return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be
the name of the Lord._
22 _In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly._
CHAP. II. A.V.]
1 _Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present
themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present
himself before the Lord._
2 _And the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan
answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from
walking up and down in it._
3 _And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job,
that_ there is _none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright
man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast
his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him
4 _And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that
a man hath will he give for his life._
5 _But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and
he will curse thee to thy face._
6 _And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold he is in thine hand; but save
7 _So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job
with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown._
8 _And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down
among the ashes._
9 _Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine
integrity? curse God, and die._
10 _But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women
speaketh. What! shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we
not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips._
11 _Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come
upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite,
and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an
appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him._
12 _And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they
lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and
sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven._
13 _So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven
nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that_ his
_grief was very great_.
CHAP. III. A.V.
1 _After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day_.
2 _And Job spake, and said_:
Would the day had perished wherein I was born,
And the night which said: behold, a man child!
Would that God on high had not called for it,
And that light had not shone upon it!
Would that darkness and gloom had claimed it for their own;
Would that clouds had hovered over it;
Would it never had been joined to the days of the year,
Nor entered into the number of the months!
Would that that night had been barren,
And that rejoicing had not come therein;
That they had cursed it who curse the days,
That the stars of its twilight had waxed dim!
Would it had yearned for light but found none,
Nor beheld the eye-lids of the morning dawn!
For it closed not the door of my mother's womb,
Nor hid sorrow from mine eyes.
Why died I not straight from the womb?
Why, having come out of the belly, did I not expire?
Why did the knees meet me?
And why the breasts, that I might suck?
For then should I have lain still and been quiet,
I should have slept and now had been at rest,
With the kings and counsellors of the earth,
Who built desolate places for themselves.
Or with princes, once rich in gold,
Who filled their houses with silver,
I should be as being not, as an hidden untimely birth,
Like infants which never saw the light!
There the wicked cease from troubling,
And there the weary be at rest;
There the prisoners repose together,
Nor hear the taskmaster's voice.
Why gives he light to the afflicted,
And life unto the bitter in soul,
Who yearn for death, but it cometh not,
And dig for it more than for buried treasures?
Hail to the man who hath found a grave!
Then only hath God "hedged him in."
For sighing is become my bread,
And my crying is unto me as water.
For the thing I dreaded cometh upon me,
And that I trembled at befalleth me.
I am not in safety, neither have I rest;
Nor quiet, but trouble cometh alway.
Lo, thou hast instructed many,
Thy words have upholden him that was stumbling.
Now hath thine own turn come,
And thou thyself art worried and troubled.
Was not the fear of God thy confidence?
And the uprightness of thy ways thy hope?
Bethink, I pray thee, who ever perished guiltless?
Or where were the righteous cut off?
I saw them punished that plough iniquity,
And them that sow sorrow reap the same;
By the blast of God they perish,
And by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed.
Now a word was wafted unto me by stealth,
And mine ear received the whisper thereof;
In thoughts from the visions of the night,
When deep sleep falleth upon man.
Fear came upon me and trembling,
Which made all my bones to shake.
Then a spectre sped before my face;
The hair of my flesh bristled up.
It stood, but I could not discern its form.
I heard a gentle voice:--
"Shall a mortal be more just than God?
Shall a man be more pure than his maker?
Behold, in his servants he puts no trust,--
Nay, his angels he chargeth with folly;--
How much less in the dwellers in houses of clay,
Whose foundations are down in the dust.
Between dawn and evening they are destroyed:
They perish and no man recketh.
Is not their tent-pole torn up?
And bereft of wisdom, they die."
Call now, if so be any will answer thee;
And to which of the angels wilt thou turn?
For his own wrath killeth the foolish man,
And envy slayeth the silly one.
His children are far from safety;
They are crushed, and there is none to save them.
The hungry eateth up their harvest,
And the thirsty swilleth their milk.
For affliction springeth not out of the dust,
Nor doth sorrow sprout up from the ground;--
For man is born unto trouble,
Even as the sparks fly upward.
But I would seek unto God,
And unto God would I commit my cause,
Who doth great things and unfathomable,
Marvellous things without number.
He giveth rain unto the earth,
And sendeth waters upon the fields;
To set up on high those that be low,
That they who mourn may be helped to victory.
He catcheth the wise in their own craftiness,
And the counsel of the cunning is thwarted;
Wherefore they encounter darkness in the daytime,
And at noonday grope as in the night.
The poor he delivereth from the sword of their mouth,
And the needy out of the hand of the mighty;
Thus the miserable man obtaineth hope,
And iniquity stoppeth her mouth.
Happy is the man whom God correcteth;
Therefore spurn not thou the chastening of the Almighty:
For he maketh sore and bindeth up;
He smiteth, and his hands make whole.
He shall deliver thee in six troubles,
Yea in seven there shall no evil touch thee:--
In famine he shall redeem thee from death,
And in war from the power of the sword.
Thou shall be hid from the scourge of the tongue,
Neither shalt thou fear misfortune when it cometh;
At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh,
Nor shalt dread the beasts of the earth.
For thy tent shall abide in peace,
And thou shalt visit thy dwelling and miss nought therein;
Thou shalt likewise know that thy seed will be great,
And thine offspring as the grass of the earth.
Thou shalt go down to thy grave in the fulness of thy days,
Ripe as a shock of corn brought home in its season.
Lo, this have we found out, so it is!
This we have heard, and take it thou to heart.
Oh that my "wrath" were thoroughly weighed,
And my woe laid against it in the balances!
For it would prove heavier than the sands of the sea;
Therefore are my words wild.
For the arrows of the Almighty are within me;
My spirit drinketh in the venom thereof.
The terrors of God move against me,
He useth me like to an enemy.
Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass?
Or loweth the ox over his fodder?
Would one eat things insipid without salt?
Is there taste in the white of raw eggs?
Oh that I might have my request,
And that God would grant me the thing I long for!
Even that it would please him to destroy me,
That he would let go his hand and cut me off!
Then should I yet have comfort,
Yea, I would exult in my relentless pain.
For that, at least, would be my due from God,
Since I have never withstood the words of the Holy One.
What is my strength that I should hope?
And what mine end that I should be patient?
Is my strength the strength of stones?
Or is my flesh of brass?
Am I not utterly bereft of help?
And is not rescue driven wholly away from me?
Is not pity the duty of the friend,
Who, else, turneth away from the fear of God?
My brethren have disappointed me as a torrent,
They pass away as a stream of brooks,
Which were blackish by reason of the ice,
Wherein the snow hideth itself.
The caravans of Tema sought for them,
The companies of Sheba hoped for them.
But when the sun warmed them they vanished;
When it waxed hot they were consumed from their place.
Did I say: Bestow aught upon me?
Or give a bribe for me of your substance?
Or deliver me from the enemy's hand?
Or redeem me from the hand of the mighty?
Teach me and I will hold my tongue;
And cause me to discern wherein I have erred.
How cutting are your "righteous" words!
But what doth your arguing reprove?
Do ye imagine to rebuke words?
But the words of the desperate are spoken to the wind.
Will ye even assail me, the blameless one?
And harrow up your friend?
But now vouchsafe to turn unto me,
For surely I will not lie to your face.
I pray you, return; let no wrong be done.
Return, for justice abideth still within me.
Is there iniquity in my tongue?
Cannot my palate discern misfortunes?
Hath not man warfare upon earth?
And are not his days like to those of an hireling?
As a slave panting for the shade, and finding it not,
As an hireling awaiting the wage for his work,
So to me months of sorrow are allotted,
And wearisome nights are appointed to me.
Lying down I exclaim: When shall I arise?
And I toss from side to side till the dawning of the day;
My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust,
My skin grows rigid and breaks up again.
My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle,
And have come to an end without hope;
Remember, I pray, that my life is wind,
That mine eye shall see good no more.
As the cloud is dispelled and vanisheth away,
So he that goes down to the grave shall not come up again;
He shall never return to his house,
Neither shall his place know him any more.
I too will not restrain my mouth,
I will speak out in the bitterness of my soul.
Am I a sea or a sea-monster,
That thou settest a watch over me?
When I say: "My bed shall comfort me,
My couch shall ease my complaint;"
Then thou scarest me with dreams,
And terrifiest me with visions.
Then my soul would have chosen strangling,
And death by my own resolve:
But I spurned it, for I shall not live for ever;
Let me be, for my days are a breath.
What is man that thou shouldst magnify him?
And that thou shouldst set thine heart upon him?
That thou shouldst visit him every morning,
And try him every moment?
Why wilt thou not look away from me?
Nor leave me in peace while there is breath in my throat?
Why hast thou set me up as a butt,
So that I am become a target for thee?
Why dost thou not rather pardon my misdeed,
And take away mine iniquity?
For now I must lay myself down in the dust,
And thou shalt seek me, but I shall not be.
How long wilt thou utter these things,
And shall the words of thy mouth be like a storm wind?
Doth God pervert judgment?
Or doth the Almighty corrupt justice?
If thou wouldst seek unto God,
And make thy supplication to the Almighty,
He would hear thy prayer,
And restore the house of thy blamelessness.
For inquire, I pray thee, of the bygone age,
And give heed to the search of the forefathers;
Shall they not teach thee,
And utter words out of their heart?
Can the papyrus grow without marsh?
Can the Nile-reed shoot up without water?
Whilst still in its greenness uncut,
It withereth before any herb.
Such is the end of all that forget God,
And even thus shall the hope of the impious perish,
Whose hope is as gossamer threads,
And whose trust is as a spider's web.
For he leans upon his house,
And has a firm footing to which he cleaves;
He is green in the glow of the sun,
And his branch shooteth forth in his garden.
But his roots are entangled in a heap of stones,
And rocky soil keeps hold upon him;
It destroyeth him from his place,
Then that denying him saith: "I have not seen thee."
Behold, this is the "joy" of his lot,
And out of the dust shall others grow.
Lo! God will not cast out a perfect man,
Neither will he take evil-doers by the hand.
He will yet fill thy mouth with laughing
And thy lips with rejoicing.
They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame,
And the tent of the wicked shall disappear.
I know it is so of a truth;
For how should man be in the right against God?
If he long to contend with him,
He cannot answer him one of a thousand.
Wise is he in heart and mighty in strength:
Who could venture against him and remain safe?--
Against him who moveth mountains and knoweth not
That he hath overturned them in his anger.
He shaketh the earth out of her place,
And the inhabitants thereof quake with fear;
He commandeth the sun and it riseth not,
And he sealeth up the stars.
He alone spreadeth out the heavens,
And treadeth upon the heights of the sea;
He doth great things past finding out,
Yea, and wonders without number.
Lo, he glideth by me and I see him not;
And he passeth on, but I perceive him not.
Behold, he taketh away, and who can hinder him?
Who will say unto him: "What dost thou?"
God will not withdraw his anger;
The very helpers of the sea-dragon crouch under him.
How much less shall I answer him,
And choose out my words to argue with him?
I must make supplication unto his judgment,
Who doth not answer me, though I am righteous,
Who would sweep me away with a tempest,
And multiply my wounds without cause!
He will not suffer me to take my breath,
But filleth me with bitterness.
If strength be aught, lo, he is strong,
And if judgment, who shall arraign him?
Though I were just, my own mouth would condemn me:
Though I were faultless, he would make me crooked.
Faultless I am, I set life at naught;
I spurn my being, therefore I speak out.
He destroyeth the upright and the wicked,
When his scourge slayeth at unawares.
He scoffeth at the trial of the innocent:
The earth is given into the hand of the wicked.
My days are swifter than a runner:
They flee away, they have seen no good;
They glide along like papyrus-boats,
Like the eagle swooping upon its prey.
If I say: "I will forget my complaint,
I will gladden my face and be cheerful;"
Then I shudder at all my sorrows:
I know thou wilt not hold me guiltless.
If I washed myself with snow,
And cleansed my hands with lye,
Thou wouldst plunge me in the ditch,
So that mine own garments would loathe me.
Would he were like unto myself, that I might answer him,
That we might come together in judgment!
Would there were an umpire between us,
Who might lay his hand upon us both!
Let him but withdraw from me his rod,
And let not dread of him terrify me;
Then would I speak and not fear him,
For before myself I am not so.
My soul is aweary of life,
I will let loose my complaint against God;
I will say unto God: Hold me not guilty;
Show me wherefore thou contendest with me.
Is it meet that thou shouldst oppress,
Shouldst thrust aside the work of thine hands?
Seest thou as man seeth?
Are thy days as the days of mortals?
For thou inquirest after mine iniquity,
And searchest after my sin,
Though thou knowest that I am not wicked,
And that there is none who can deliver out of thine hand.
Thine hand hath made and fashioned me,
And now hast thou turned to destroy me;
Remember, I pray thee, that thou hast formed me as clay;
And now wilt thou grind me to dust again?
Didst thou not pour me out as milk,
And curdle me like cheese?
Hast thou not clothed me with skin and flesh?
And knitted me with bones and sinews?
Thou enduedst me with life and grace;
And thy care hath cherished my spirit.
And yet these things hadst thou hid in thy heart!
I know that this was in thee!
Had I sinned, thou wouldst have watched me,
Nor wouldst have acquitted me of my wrongdoing.
Had I been wicked, woe unto me!
And though righteous, I dare not to lift up my head.
As a lion thou huntest me, who am soaked in misery,
And ever showest thyself marvellous against me!
While I live, thou smitest me ever anew,
And lettest thy wrath wax great against me.
Wherefore, then, didst thou bring me out of the womb?
Would I had then given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!
I should now be as though I had never been;
I had been borne from the womb to the grave.
Are not the days of my life but few,
So that he might let me be, while I take heart a little
Before I depart whence I shall not return,
To the land of darkness and of gloom?
Shall the multitude of words be left unanswered?
And shall the prattler be deemed in the right?
Should men hold their peace at thy babbling?
And when thou jeerest, shall none make thee ashamed?
But oh that God would speak,
And open his lips against thee,
And that he would show thee the secrets of wisdom
That they are as marvels to the understanding!
It is high as heaven; what canst thou do?
Deeper than hell; what canst thou know?
The measure thereof is longer than the earth,
And broader than the ocean.
For he knoweth men of deceit;
He seeth wickedness and needeth not to gauge it.
Thus the empty man gets understanding,
And the wild-ass' colt is born anew as man.
If thou make ready thine heart,
And stretch out thine hands towards him,
Then shalt thou lift up thy face,
And in time of affliction be fearless.
For then shalt thou forget thy misery,
And remember it as waters that have passed away;
The darkness shall be as morning,
And thine age shall be brighter than the noonday.
Thou shalt be secure because there is hope,
Thou shalt look around and take thy rest in safety;
Thou shalt lie down and none shall startle thee,
Yea, many shall make suit unto thee.
But the eyes of the wicked shall fail,
And refuge shall vanish from before them;
Their hope shall be the giving up of the ghost;
For with him is wisdom and might.
No doubt but ye are clever people,
And wisdom shall die with you;
I too have understanding as well as ye;
Just, upright is my way.
He that is at ease, scorneth the judgments of Shaddai.
His foot stands firm in the time of trial.
The tents of robbers prosper,
And they that provoke God are secure.
But ask, I beseech you, the beasts,
And the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee;
Or speak to the earth and it shall teach thee,
And the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.
Is not the soul of every living thing in his hand,
And the breath of all mankind?
Doth not the ear try words
As the mouth tasteth its meat?
For there is no wisdom with the aged,
Nor understanding in length of days;
With him is wisdom and strength;
He hath counsel and understanding.
Behold he breaketh down and it cannot be builded anew:
He shutteth up a man, and who can open to him?
Lo, he withholdeth the waters and they dry up,
He letteth them loose and they overwhelm the earth.
With him is strength and wisdom,
The erring one and his error are his,
Who leadeth away counsellors barefoot,
And rendereth the judges fools.
He bringeth back kings into their mausoleums,
And overthroweth the nobles;
He withdraweth the speech of the trusty,
And taketh away the understanding of the aged.
He poureth scorn upon princes,
And looseth the girdle of the strong;
He discovereth deep things out of darkness,
And bringeth gloom unto light.
He stealeth the heart of the chiefs of the earth,
And maketh them wander in a pathless wilderness
So that they grope in the dark without light,
And stagger to and fro like a drunken man.
Lo, mine eye hath seen all this,
Mine ear hath heard and understood it.
What ye know, the same do I know also;
I am nowise inferior to you.
But now I would speak to the Almighty,
And I long to argue with God;
For ye are weavers of lies,
Ye all are patchers of inanities.
Oh that ye would all of you hold your peace,
And that should stand you in wisdom's stead!
Hear, I beseech you, the reasoning of my mouth,
And hearken to the pleadings of my lips!
Will ye discourse wickedly for God?
And utter lies on his behalf?
Will ye accept his person by dint of trickery?
Will ye contend for God with deception?
Were it well for you should he search you out?
Can ye dupe him as ye dupe men?
Will he not surely rebuke you,
If ye secretly accept his person?
Shall not his majesty, then, make you afraid?
And his dread seize hold of you?
Will not your adages become as ashes,
Your arguments even as bulwarks of clay?
Hold your peace that I may speak,
And let come upon me what will!
I shall take my life in my teeth,
And put my soul in mine hand.
Lo, let him kill me, I cherish hope no more,
Only I will justify my way before his face.
This too will aid my triumph,
That no wicked one dares appear in his sight.
Behold now, I have ordered my cause;
I know that I shall be justified.
Who is he that will plead with me?
Only do not two things unto me!
Withdraw thine hand from me,
And let not dread of thee make me afraid.
Then call thou and I will answer,
Or let me speak and answer thou unto me.
How many are mine iniquities?
Make me to know my misdeeds.
Wherefore hidest thou thy face,
And holdest me for thine enemy?
Wilt thou scare a leaf driven to and fro?
And wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?
That thou writest down bitter things against me,
And imputest to me the errors of my youth.
Thou observest all my paths,
And puttest my feet into the stocks,
Thy chain weigheth heavy upon me,
And cutteth into my feet.
Man that is born of a woman,
Poor in days and rich in trouble;
He cometh forth like a flower and fadeth,
He fleeth as a shadow and abideth not.
And upon such an one dost thou open thine eyes!
And him thou bringest into judgment with thee!
Though he is gnawed as a rotten thing,
As a garment that is moth-eaten.
If his days are determined upon earth,
If the number of his months are with thee;
Look then away from him that he may rest,
Till he shall accomplish his day, as an hireling.
For there is a future for the tree,
And hope remaineth to the palm:
Cut down, it will sprout again,
And its tender branch will not cease.
Though its roots wax old in the earth
And its stock lie buried in mould,
Yet through vapour of water will it bud,
And bring forth boughs like a plant.
But man dieth, and lieth outstretched;
He giveth up the ghost, where is he then?
He lieth down and riseth not up;
Till heaven be no more he shall not awake.
Oh that thou wouldst hide me in the grave!
That thou wouldst secrete me till thy wrath be passed!
That thou wouldst appoint me a set time and remember me!
If so be man could die and yet live on!
All the days of my warfare I then would wait,
Till my relief should come;
Thou wouldst call and I would answer thee,
Thou wouldst yearn after the work of thine hands.
But now thou renumberest my steps,
Thou dost not forgive my failing;
Thou sealest my transgressions in a bag,
And thou still keepest adding to my guilt.
Should a wise man utter empty knowledge,
And fill his belly with the east wind?
Should he reason with bootless prattle?
Or with speeches that profit him nothing?
Yea, thou makest void the fear of God,
And weakenest respect before him;
For thine own iniquity instructeth thy mouth,
And thou choosest the tongue of the crafty.
Art thou the first man born?
Or wast thou made before the hills?
Wast thou heard in the council of God?
And hast thou drawn wisdom unto thyself?
What knowest thou that we know not?
What understandest thou which is not in us?
Doth the solace of God not suffice unto thee,
And a word to thee whispered softly?
Why doth thine heart carry thee away,
And what do thine eyes wink at,
That thou turnest thy spirit against God,
And lettest go such words from thy mouth?
Behold he putteth no trust in his saints;
Yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight;
How much less the foul and corrupt one,--
Man, who lappeth up wickedness like water.
What the wise announce unto us,
Their fathers did not withhold it from them;
Unto them alone the land was given,
And no stranger passed among them.
The wicked man travaileth all his days with pain,
And few are the years appointed to the oppressor:
A sound of dread is in his ears:
In prosperity the destroyer shall overtake him.
He has no hope of return out of darkness,
And he is waited for by the sword.
The day of gloom shall terrify him,
Distress and anguish shall fasten upon him.
For he stretched out his arm against God,
And girded himself against the Almighty:
Rushing upon him with a stiff neck,
Guarded by the thick bosses of his buckler.
The glow shall dry up his branches,
And his blossom shall be snapped by the storm-wind.
Let him not trust in vanity--he is deluded,
For his barter shall prove worthless.
His offshoot shall wither before his time,
And his branch shall not be green;
He shall shake off his unripe grape, like the vine,
And shall shed his flower like the olive.
For the tribe of the wicked shall be barren,
And fire shall consume the tents of bribery:
They conceive mischief, and bring forth disaster,
And their belly breeds abortion.
Many such things have I heard before.
Stinging comforters are ye all!
Shall idle words have an end?
What pricks thee that thou answerest?
I, too, could discourse as ye do,
If your souls were in my soul's stead.
I would inspirit you with my mouth,
Nor would I grudge the moving of my lips.
But he hath so jaded me that I am benumbed;
His whole host hath seized me.
His wrath hackles me and pursues me,
He gnashes upon me with his teeth.
The arrows of his myriads have stricken me,
He whets his sword, fixing his eyes upon me.
They smite me on the cheek outrageously,
They mass themselves together against me.
God hath turned me over to the ungodly,
And delivered me into the hands of the wicked.
I was at ease, but he clove me asunder,
He throttled me and shook me to pieces.
He sets me up for his target;
His archers compass me round about;
He rives my reins asunder, and spareth not,
He poureth out my gall upon the ground.
With breach upon breach he breaketh me,
He rusheth upon me like a warrior;
Sackcloth and ashes cover me,
And my horn has been laid in the dust.
My face is aglow with weeping
And darkness abides on my eyelids;
Though on my hands there is no evil,
And my prayer is pure!
Oh earth! cover not thou my blood!
And let my cry find no resting-place!
Even now behold my witness is in heaven,
And my voucher is on high.
My friends laugh me wantonly to scorn;
Mine eye poureth tears unto God.
Let him adjudge between man and God,
And between man and his fellow.
Soon will the wailing-women come,
And I go the way I shall not return.
My spirit is spent, the grave is ready for me
Truly I am scoffed at.
Hold still my pledge in thy keeping,
Who then will be my voucher?
He yielded his friends as a prey,
And the eyes of his children must shrivel up.
He hath made me a by-word of the peoples,
And they spit into my face.
My eye is dim by dint of sorrow,
And all my members are as a shadow.
At this the upright are appalled,
And the just bridles up against the impious.
But the righteous holds on his way,
And the clean-handed waxeth ever stronger.
But as for you all--do ye return,
For I discern not one wise man among you.
My days, my thoughts have passed away;
My heart's desires are cut asunder.
If I still hope, it is for my house--the tomb.
I have made my bed in the darkness.
I have said unto the grave, "My Mother,"
And to the maggot, "Sister mine."
And my hope--where is it now?
My bliss--who shall behold it?
They go down to the bars of the pit,
When our rest together is in the dust.
When wilt thou make an end of words?
Reflect, and then let us speak!
Wherefore are we counted as beasts?
Deemed silenced in thy sight?
Shall the earth be deserted for thy sake?
And shall the rock be removed from its place?
Still the light of the wicked shall be douted,
And the spark of his fire shall not twinkle.
The light in his tent shall be dark;
And his taper above him shall be put out.
The steps of his strength shall be straitened,
And his own design shall ruin him.
For he is tangled in the net by his own feet,
And he walketh upon a snare.
The slings shall catch him;
Many terrors rage menacingly round him.
Hunger shall dog his footsteps;
Misery and ruin stand ready by his side:
The limbs of his body shall be gnawed,
Devoured by the firstborn of death.
He shall be dragged out from his stronghold,
And he shall be brought to the king of terrors;
The memory of him shall vanish from the earth,
He shall be driven from light into darkness.
He shall have nor son nor offspring among his people,
And he shall have no name above the ground;
None shall survive in his dwellings;
Strangers shall dwell in his tent.
They of the west are astonied at him,
And those of the east stand aghast:
Such are the dwellings of the wicked,
And this his place who knoweth not God.
How long will ye harrow my soul,
And crush me with words?
Already ten times have ye insulted me,
Ever incensing me anew.
If indeed ye will glorify yourselves above me,
And prove me guilty of blasphemy;
Know, then, that God hath wronged me,
And hath compassed me round with his net!
Lo, I cry out against violence, but I am not heard;
I cry aloud, but there is no judgment.
He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass;
And he hath set darkness in my paths.
He hath stripped me of my glory,
And taken the crown from my head.
On all sides hath he ruined me, and I am undone;
And mine hope hath he felled like a tree.
He hath kindled against me his wrath,
And looketh on me as one of his foes.
His troops throng together on my way,
And encamp round about my tent.
He hath put my brethren far from me,
And mine acquaintance are estranged from me;
My kinsfolk stay away from me,
And my bosom friends have forgotten me.
They that dwell in my house, and my maids,
As an alien am I in their eyes.
I call my servant, and he giveth me no answer,
I must supplicate unto him with my mouth.
My breath is irksome to my wife,
And my entreaty to the children of my body.
Yea, mere lads despise me:
When I arise, they talk about me.
All my cherished friends abhor me,
And they whom I loved are turned against me;
My skin cleaveth to my bones,
And my teeth are falling out.
Have pity, have pity on me, O my friends!
For the hand of God hath smitten me.
Why do ye persecute me like God,
And are not satiated with my flesh?
Oh would but that my words,
Oh would that they were written down!
Consigned to writing for ever,
Or engraven upon a rock!
But I know that my avenger liveth,
Though it be at the end upon my dust;
My witness will avenge these things,
And a curse alight upon mine enemies.
My reins within me are consumed,
Because you say: "How we shall persecute him!"
Fear, for yourselves, the sword,
For "wrath overtaketh iniquities."
It is not thus that my thoughts inspire me,
Nor is this the eternal law that I have known.
No; the triumph of the wicked is shortlived,
And the joy of the ungodly is but for a twinkling.
Though his height tower aloft to the heavens,
And his head reach up to the clouds,
Yet shall he perish for ever like dung,
They who have seen him shall ask: "Where is he?"
He flitteth like a dream and shall not be found,
Yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night;
His hands having crushed the needy,
Must restore the substance, and he cannot help it.
He hath swallowed down riches and shall disgorge them anew;
They shall be driven out of his belly.
He hath sucked in the poison of asps,
The viper's tongue shall slay him.
He shall not gaze upon the rivers,
The brooks of honey and milk;
He must restore the gain and shall not swallow it,
His lucre shall be as sand which he cannot chew.
For the poor he had crushed and forsaken;
Had robbed an house but shall not build it up.
Nought had escaped from his greed,
Therefore shall his wealth not endure.
In the fulness of his abundance he shall be in straits,
Every hand of the wretched shall come upon him:
He shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him,
And shall rain down upon him terrors.
When he fleeth from the iron weapon,
Then the arrow of steel shall transfix him;
He draweth, and it cometh out of his back,
And the glittering steel out of his gall.
Terrors will trample upon him,
All darkness is hid in store for him;
A fire not kindled shall consume him,
What remaineth in his tent shall be devoured thereby.
The heavens reveal his iniquity,
And the earth riseth up against him:
This is the wicked man's portion from God,
And the heritage appointed him by Elohim.
Hearken diligently to my speech,
And let that stand me in your comfort's stead!
Suffer me that I may speak;
And after that I have spoken, mock on!
As for me, is my complaint to men?
And how should not my spirit be impatient?
Look upon me, and tremble,
And lay your hand upon your mouth!
Even when I remember, I am dismayed,
And trembling taketh hold on my flesh.
Wherefore do the wicked live?
Become old, yea, wax mighty in strength?
Their houses are safe from fear,
Neither is the rod of God upon them;
Their bull genders and faileth not,
Their cow casteth not her calf.
Their seed is established in their sight,
And their offspring before their eyes;
They send forth their little ones like a flock,
And their children skip about.
They take down the timbrel and the harp,
And delight in the sound of the bagpipe;
They while away their days in bliss,
And in a twinkling go down to the grave.
And yet they say unto God: "Depart from us,
We desire not the knowledge of thy ways."
Yet hold they not happiness in their own hands?
Is he not heedless of the counsel of the wicked?
How oft is "the lamp of evil-doers put out"?
And how often doth "ruin" overwhelm them?
How oft are they as stubble before the wind,
And as chaff that the storm carries away?
Ye say, "God hoards punishment for the children."
Let him rather requite the wicked himself that he may feel it!
His own eyes should behold his downfall
And he himself should drain the Almighty's wrath!
If his sons are honoured, he will not know it,
And if dishonoured, he will not perceive it.
Only in his own flesh doth he feel pain,
And for his own soul will he lament.
Is the wicked taught understanding by God?
And does he judge the man of blood?
Nay, he filleth his milk vessels with milk,
And supplieth his bones with marrow.
But the guiltless dies with embittered soul,
And hath never enjoyed a pleasure;
Then they alike lie down in the dust,
And the worms shall cover them both.
Behold I know your thoughts,
And the plots which ye wrongfully weave against me.
And how will ye comfort me in vain,
Since of your answers nought but falsehood remains?
Can a man be profitable unto God?
Only unto himself is the wise man serviceable.
Is it a boon to the Almighty that thou art righteous?
Or is it gain to him that thou makest thy way perfect?
Will he reprove thee for thy fear of him?
Will he enter with thee into judgment for that?
Is not rather thy wickedness great?
Are not thine iniquities numberless?
For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought,
And stripped the naked of their clothing;
Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink,
And hast withholden bread from the hungry.
But as for the mighty man, he held the land,
And the honoured man dwelt in it.
Thou hast sent widows away empty,
And the arms of the fatherless have been broken.
Therefore snares are round about thee,
And sudden fear troubleth thee;
Thy light hath become darkness, thou canst not see,
And a flood of waters covereth thee.
Doth not God look down from the height of heaven,
And crush the mighty for that they are grown haughty,
Which say unto God: "Depart from us,"
And "What can the Almighty do against us?"
And he forsooth "shall fill their houses with goods,"
And "be heedless of the counsel of the wicked":
No; the righteous shall look on and be glad,
And the innocent shall laugh them to scorn.
Befriend now thyself with him, and thou shalt be safe,
Thereby shall good come unto thee.
Receive, I pray thee, instruction from his mouth,
And treasure up his words in thine heart.
If thou turnest to God and humblest thyself,
If thou remove iniquity from thy tent,
Then shalt thou have delight in the Almighty,
And shalt lift up thy face unto God.
Thou shalt pray unto him and he shall hear thee,
And thou shalt pay thy vows;
If thou purpose a thing, it shall prosper unto thee,
And a light shall shine upon thy ways.
Oh, I know it already: I myself am to blame for my misery,
And his hand is heavy upon me by reason of my groaning!
Oh that I knew where I might find him,
That I might come even unto his seat!
I would plead my cause before him,
And fill my mouth with arguments;
I would fain know the words which he could answer me,
And learn what he would say unto me.
Will he plead against me with his almighty power?
If not, then not even he would prevail against me.
For a righteous one would dispute with him;
So should I be delivered for ever from my judge.
Behold I go forward, but he is not there,
And backward, but I cannot perceive him.
For he knoweth the way that I have chosen:
If he would try me, I should come forth as gold.
My foot has held his steps,
His way have I kept and swerved not;
I have not gone back from the precept of his lips,
I have hid the words of his mouth in my bosom.
But he is bent upon one thing and who can turn him away?
And what his soul desireth even that he doeth.
Therefore am I troubled before his face;
When I consider, I am afraid of him.
God hath crushed my heart,
And the Almighty hath terrified me.
For I am annihilated because of the darkness,
And gloom enwrappeth my face.
Why do the times of judgment depend upon the Almighty,
And yet they who know him do not see his days?
The wicked remove the landmarks;
They rob flocks and lead them to pasture.
They drive away the ass of the fatherless,
The widow's ox they seize for a pledge;
They turn the needy out of the way,
All the poor of the earth have to hide themselves.
Lo, these things mine ear hath heard,
Mine eye hath seen them, and so it is.
And if it be not so now, who will make me a liar,
And render my speech meaningless?
Dominion and fear are with him,
Who maketh peace in his high places.
Is there any number to his armies?
And upon whom doth his light not arise?
By his power the sea groweth calm,
And by his understanding he smiteth the sea-dragon.
By his breath the heavens become splendour;
His hand hath pierced the bolt-serpent.
But the thunder of his power,
Who understands its working?
And how can man be deemed just before God,
And how can he be clean who is born of a woman?
Behold, even the moon shineth not,
Yea, the stars are not pure in his sight;
How much less man, the worm;
And the son of man, the maggot!
How hast thou helped him that is without power?
How upholdest thou the arm that hath no strength?
To whom hast thou uttered words?
And whose spirit went out from thee?
As God liveth who hath taken away my right,
And the Almighty who hath made my soul bitter,
Never shall my lips confess untruth,
Nor my tongue give utterance to falsehood!
Far be it from me to agree with you!
Till I die I will not yield up my integrity!
My righteousness I hold fast and will not let it go,
My heart doth not censure any one of my days.
I will teach you about the hand of God,
The counsel of the Almighty will I not conceal.
Behold, all ye yourselves have seen it.
Why then do ye utter such empty things?
For there is a mine for silver,
And a place for gold where they fine it;
Iron is taken out of the dust,
And copper is smolten out of the stone.
He that hovers far from man hath made an end to gloom,
He turneth the mountains upside down.
He cutteth out stulms among the rocks,
And the thing that is hid he bringeth forth to light.
But wisdom--whence shall it come?
And where is the place of understanding?
It is hid from the eyes of all living,
Our ears alone have heard thereof.
God understandeth its way,
And he knoweth its dwelling-place;
For he looketh to the ends of the earth,
And seeth under the entire heaven.
When he made the weight for the winds,
And weighed the waters by measure,
Then did he see and declare it,
He prepared it, yea, and searched it out.
Then he said unto man, "Desist!
Worry not about things too high for thee.
Behold, fear of me, that is wisdom,
And to depart from evil, that is understanding."
May the lot of the wicked befall mine enemy,
And that of the ungodly him who riseth up against me!
For what can be the hope of the iniquitous,
When God cutteth his soul away?
Will God hear his cry,
When trouble overtaketh him?
Will he delight himself in the Almighty?
Will he always call upon God?
If his children be multiplied, it is for the sword,
And his offspring shall not be sated with bread;
They that survive him shall be buried in death,
And their widows shall not weep.
Though he heap up silver as the dust
And store up raiment as the clay,
He may indeed prepare it, but the just shall put it on,
And the guiltless shall divide the silver.
He buildeth his house as a spider;
Rich shall he lie down, but rich he shall not remain.
Terrors take hold on him like waters;
A tempest sweepeth him away in the night.
Oh that I were as in months gone by,
As in the days when God preserved me;
When his lamp shined upon my head,
And when I walked by his light through darkness!
For then I moved in sunshine,
While God was familiar with my tent;
While I washed my steps in cream,
And the rock poured me out rivers of oil.
When I went to the gate at the city,
When I prepared my seat on the public place,
Then the young men, seeing me, hid themselves,
And the aged arose and remained standing.
Princes desisted from talking,
And laid their hands upon their mouths;
For the ear heard me and blessed,
The eye saw me and bore me witness.
For I delivered the poor that cried aloud,
And the orphan and him that had none to help him;
The blessing of him that was perishing came upon me,
And I gladdened the heart of the widow.
I put on righteousness and it clothed me;
My judgment was as a robe and a diadem.
I became eyes to the blind,
And I was feet unto the lame.
I was a father to the poor,
And the cause which I knew not I searched out;
And I brake the grinders of the wicked.
And plucked the spoil out of his teeth.
Unto me men gave ear and waited,
And kept silence at my counsel.
After my words they spake not again,
And my speech fell upon them as a shower.
But now they laugh me to scorn,
Shepherd boys approach me with insolence,
Whose fathers I would not have deigned
To set with the dogs of my flock.
Yea, what booted me the strength of their hands?
Pity upon them was thrown away.
They were children of fools, yea, men of no name,
They were driven forth from the land.
And now I am become the song of these!
Yea, I am become their byword!
They loathe me, they flee far from me,
And withhold not spittle from my face.
For he hath dissolved my dignity and humbled me,
And he hath taken away my renown.
He hath opened a way to my miseries;
They enter and no one helpeth me.
With rumbling and booming they bounded along;
Terrors are turned upon me;
Thou scatterest my dignity, as with a wind,
And my welfare passeth as a cloud.
The night gnaws away my bones,
And my devourers need no repose;
By swellings is my garment misshapen,
And I am grown like unto dust and ashes.
I cry and thou hearest me not,
Thou art become ruthless towards me;
With the strength of thy hand thou assailest me,
And thou meltest my salvation away.
For I know that thou wilt bring me to death,
And to the house appointed for all living.
But shall not a drowning man stretch out his hand?
Shall he not cry out in his destruction?
Did I not weep for him that was in trouble?
Was not my soul grieved for the needy?
I looked for good and waited for light;
Behold days of sorrowing are come upon me.
I go mourning without sun;
I stand up in the assembly and cry aloud;
I am become a brother unto jackals,
And a comrade unto ostriches.
My skin hath grown black upon me
And my bones are scorched with heat;
My harp is turned to mourning,
And my bagpipe into the wail of the weeping.
If I have walked with men of wickedness,
Or if my feet have hastened to deceit,
Let him weigh me in balances of justice,
That God may know mine integrity!
If my steps have swerved from the way,
And mine heart followed in the wake of mine eyes,
Let me now sow and another eat,
Yea, let my garden be rooted out!
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