Job 12

Job’s Third Response[a]

Chapter 12

Wisdom Will Die with You.[b] 1 Job then answered with these words:

2 “Undoubtedly, you are the voice of the people,
and when you die, wisdom will die with you.
3 But I also have intelligence;
I am not inferior to you in this regard.
Who is ignorant of all these things?
4 [c]“I have become a laughingstock to my friends,
I whom God would answer when I called upon him;
although I am innocent and just, he afflicted me.
5 Those who live untroubled lives scorn the misfortunes of others,
the blows that strike those who are already staggering.
6 Yet the tents of robbers remain undisturbed,
and those who provoke God sleep securely
as well as those who make a god of their strength.[d]
7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you;
ask the birds of the air, and they will inform you.
8 Ask the reptiles on earth, and they will instruct you,
or let the fish of the sea enlighten you.
9 Which of all these is unaware
that the hand of God has done this?
10 “In God’s hand is the soul of every living thing
and the breath of all mankind.
11 Does not the ear test words
as the palate tastes food?
12 Wisdom is found in the aged,
and long life nourishes understanding.

With God Are Wisdom and Power

13 “With God are wisdom and power;
wise counsel and understanding are his.
14 If he tears down, no one can rebuild;
anyone he imprisons cannot gain freedom.
15 If he holds back the waters, drought ensues;
if he releases them, the land is overwhelmed.
16 Strength and wisdom are his;
his too are the deceived and the deceivers.
17 “He deprives counselors of their wits
and makes fools of judges.
18 He looses the sashes of kings
and gives them only a waistcloth to cover their loins.[e]
19 He forces priests to walk barefoot
and overthrows those in positions of power.
20 He silences the lips of trusted counselors
and deprives the aged of their power of discernment.
21 “He pours contempt on princes
and disarms the powerful.
22 He unveils mysteries long obscured in darkness
and brings their meaning to light.
23 He makes nations great and then destroys them;
he enlarges nations and then reduces them to nothing.
24 He weakens the minds of the leaders of the earth
and leaves them to wander in a trackless waste.
25 They grope their way in the darkness without light,
staggering like drunken men.


  1. Job 12:1 Turning his back on his friends, Job addresses his God directly and boldly asks him to justify his conduct.
  2. Job 12:1 Job observes a disturbing contrast between the misfortune of the righteous and the tranquility of robbers. The whole of creation is a witness of this drama.
  3. Job 12:4 The righteous who are afflicted even have to suffer the scorn of the impious: see Ps 22:7-22; Mt 27:39-43.
  4. Job 12:6 As well as those who make a god of their strength: the Hebrew is obscure. Other translations given are: “As well as those who bring their god in their hands,” or “In what God provides by his hand.”
  5. Job 12:18 The probable meaning of the second half of the verse is that God at times reduces kings to slavery.

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