Job 16

Job’s Fourth Response[a]

Chapter 16

If You Were in My Place . . . 1 Job then answered with these words:

2 “I have heard similar comments on many occasions;
what wretched comforters you all are!
3 When will you cease your endless flow of foolish words?
Or what sickness afflicts you that you never cease babbling?
4 “I could also rant on as you do,
if you were in my place.
I could exhaust you with my words
and shake my head at you.[b]
5 But I would offer words of encouragement,
and comfort from my lips would alleviate your pain.
6 When I speak, my suffering is not eased,
and if I remain silent, my pain does not stop.

You Have Risen Up as a Witness against Me[c]

7 “Truly, my pain has left me exhausted,
and you have devastated my entire family.
8 You have risen up as a witness against me;
my gaunt appearance offers clear testimony to my plight.
9 Your anger has caused you to assail me,
and you gnash your teeth against me.
My enemies lord it over me;
10 they open their mouths to mock me.
They strike me insolently on the cheek;
they have all joined in league against me.
11 “God has left me as prey for the godless
and handed me over to the power of the wicked.
12 I was living at peace until he crushed me;
he seized me by the neck and broke me into pieces,
setting me up as a target.
13 His archers encompass me on every side;
he pierces my loins without mercy
and pours out my gall upon the ground.
14 He repeatedly bludgeons his way through my defenses
and rushes upon me like a warrior.

My Witness Is in Heaven[d]

15 “I have sewn sackcloth over my skin
and laid my forehead in the dust.
16 My face is red from incessant weeping,
and dark shadows ring my eyelids,
17 even though my hands are free of violence
and my prayer is pure.
18 “O earth, do not cover my blood;[e]
let my cries never cease to be heard.
19 Even now my witness is in heaven;
my defender is on high.
20 Although my friends scorn me,
I pour out tears before God,
21 pleading that he may listen to me
as a person would listen to a neighbor.
22 For there are only a few years left to me
before I set forth on that journey
from which there is no return.

Footnotes

  1. Job 16:1 Seeing himself close to his end, Job again raises a heartrending lament so that this may serve before God as a powerful appeal to his justice.
  2. Job 16:4 Shaking the head signifies commiseration, scorn, or mockery (see Ps 22:8; Jer 48:27; Mt 27:39).
  3. Job 16:7 Job sees himself as summoned before the tribunal of God. The scene makes us think of the persecuted righteous person (Ps 22:13-14, 17; Isa 53:10-12) and the Passion of Jesus (Mt 26:60-68; Lk 22:37). God is transferred into a warrior, and he crushes his victim without pity (Lam 3:12-13).
  4. Job 16:15 Job, prostrate in suffering, rediscovers a little hope: his God can still hear him and become his defender.
  5. Job 16:18 Cover my blood: blood shed and not covered over is, as it were, a call for vengeance (see Gen 4:10-11; Isa 26:21; Ezek 24:7).

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